Friday, May 29, 2009

Potato Salad


I usually make potato salad like my mother did.. mayo, pickle juice, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, hard boiled eggs, onions, pickles and of course potatoes... never really measure anything. Last night we were grilling some steaks on the bbq and Tobin really wanted potato salad to go with the dinner. But I was completely out of pickles. So I searched online and found a recipe that I modified somewhat and it was delicious!! Tobin and Emily loved it and want me to make it again..   I thought I would share it with you..


Potato Salad

4 very large potatoes (I am guessing about 4lbs)

½ to 1 onion, chopped finely

6 hard boiled eggs

salt, to taste




2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup cane juice crystals

1 ½ t cornstarch

½ cup vinegar

½ cup half in half

1 t prepared yellow mustard

¼ cup butter

1 cup mayonnaise ( I used my homemade mayo and it worked great)

salt & pepper, to taste


Wash and cook potatoes. Let cool in fridge. When cool peel and cut potatoes and put in large salad bowl. Add onions, eggs (chop into pieces before adding to the potatoes) and a little salt. Set in fridge.


While the potatoes are cooking you can make the dressing. In a sauce pan whisk together the eggs, cane juice crystals, cornstarch and a little salt. Mix in vinegar, half n half and mustard. Cook this mixture over medium heat stirring frequently until it has cooked and thickened, takes about 10 minutes. As soon as it is nice and thick remove the pan from the heat and add the butter.  Stir to melt and mix in the butter. Put this mixture in the refrigerator to get cold.  It must be cooled completely. After it has cooled completely mix in the mayo. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.


Mix the dressing with the potatoes. Let sit in fridge a little while to help blend flavors. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gardens and Shortcake

Today we got the garden in!!  Woo Hoo!! 
  Six of us (me and the kids) spent 2 1/2 hours in the beautiful sunshine and got everything planted..  now we just have to keep it going! LOL..  We planted lettuce, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, corn, flowers and tomato and cucumber plants….  I have a HUGE garden area and in the past have planted the whole thing.  I knew I was not up for that this year so we planted about 1/3 of it..   Here is a pic.. not a whole lot to see at this point..  but soon it will be full of veggies! ..

This morning when I got up I decided to get the angel food cake made for shortcake. I knew I would be outside working in the garden and then it would be time to make dinner and I wanted to get it done before that. When I was out shopping yesterday I bought 8lbs of strawberries at Costco.  The kids had already eaten 4lbs of them and if I did not get that cake made the other 4lbs would be gone and Tobin really enjoys shortcake.   I made the cake with some really big free range eggs (I don’t have any chickens right now so I buy the eggs from my food co-op, Azure Standard )..  Those whites whipped up sooo nicely and the cake was just perfect.  Here is a pic of the cake and a piece all made into shortcake… 


If you would like the angel food cake recipe you find it HERE.. 


Hope you all had a beautiful Saturday on your homesteads..      

Friday, May 22, 2009

Updates from the Homestead


The sun came out this week it was so nice!  Hubby did some wood gathering; time to start another year of getting in the winter wood.  We still start a fire some days to take the chill off, but I see that changing soon.  We are almost out of wood now.   

This week Tobin spent a couple hours or so letting Leanne get some driving practice in.  She has her permit and is now working on her license.  She will be driving by summer’s end, I am sure.   

I finally ordered seeds for my garden this week, they should arrive today.  I was not sure if I was going to have a garden but my girls really wanted one and I figured this summer does not look anywhere near as busy as last summer was so I think we can stay on top of it.  I will also buy some plants (tomatoes and cucumbers) and hopefully we will have it all planted by this weekend.  Tobin rototilled the garden on Monday for the 3rd time so it should be ready to go now.   

In the kitchen this week I made another gallon of salsa and did some baking.  I used my whole wheat oat dinner roll recipe to make hamburger buns and cinnamon rolls and made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies.  All of which has been eaten and it is time to make more.    I love using that recipe for hamburger and hotdog buns.. so nice and soft.   

Jacob worked for the neighbor a couple of times this week and squeezed in his school work as well.  He is just about done.  All the kids are just about done with school this year..  yea!  It will be time to put those school books away in another couple of weeks.   

Can’t remember if I shared this or not..  but Leanne is now all done with high school!  She got her GED results in the mail and passed all her tests with flying colors.  We are very proud of her.  She is now working on her CLEP’s as she gets ready to join Emily in the College Plus ranks.  She says she would like to work towards an English degree and maybe eventually go into teaching.  She is not sure but thinks maybe missionary work might be in her future and if so a teaching degree would be helpful.  Lots of plans going on as I watch my children grow up and make plans for their lives.. an exciting time!  

Emily is working on her classes through Thomas Edison State College now and doing well.  I think she is getting tired (she has been going strong with her college work since last April) but is determined and tenacious to see this to the end.  We could not be more proud of her hard work as she strives to meet her goals.   

Today Leanne, Sierra and I are headed to town to do some grocery shopping and buy those garden plants and few other things on my list.  We will stop and get our coffee at Starbucks (the “going to town” tradition) and then head off to get our work accomplished. I think I will call Hannah and see if she is busy today.. would love to spend my day in town with her and my grandbaby too!    I don’t think I have posted a recent picture of my granddaughter Elizabeth.  This picture was taken when Hannah was here for Emily’s birthday earlier this month.  She is really growing and is such a sweet baby…. 


Dinner tonight is pot roast and mashed potatoes, a salad and maybe some watermelon if the price is good.  I will put the roast in the crockpot before I leave for town.   

That’s all the updates from my homestead..  Hope you all have a beautiful weekend on your homestead! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Getting Children Involved in the Home Chores


My recent blog post “to-do lists revisited” I talked about my kids doing chores.  I had a comment/question: 

Hi Crystal, how do you get your children involved with your chores? Mine do not want to help, they want to play. When I force them to help, they complain the whole time.
I am so exhausted of asking all the time for them to do their chores - just set up the table, fill the glass with water.
They are 7 and 10 and I don't think that asking for help to set up the table is expecting too much from them?
What do you think?

No, I don’t think you are asking to much from them in any way.  You asked how I get my children involved with chores.  It is part of their childhood training.  Chores are not an option or something annoying that must be done.. it is just part of life..  kind of like eating and school, etc..   It is a basic that when we make messes.. we clean them up. It is part of living real life.   I have had my children doing chores since they were little.  Cleaning up their toys, rooms, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, folding laundry and working with me doing what ever job I am doing.  As they got older they started taking on certain jobs as their responsibility… someone takes care of the bathroom cleaning, someone cleans the living room, someone vacuums, a couple of kids are usually assigned kitchen duty and other jobs are shared like folding the kitchen and bathroom towels (everyone now does their own laundry and the only common household laundry is the kitchen and bathroom towels).  I rotate these jobs around occasionally.  By the time they are 12 they are doing their own laundry, cleaning and caring for their own rooms and their designated household responsibilities and other various jobs.  My girls help with the cooking, my boys are responsible for bringing in the firewood all winter.   

Do they always like to do their chores?  No..  Do they complain? sometimes..  but regardless like eating and sleeping they must be done.. that is jut life.  

If it were me I would make it known that from now on chores are an expected part of the day.  If kids don’t have regular routines and out the blue you ask them to stop what they are doing and work..  it is harder to get cooperation.  But if they already know this is an expected part of their day it becomes a normal part of life’s routine.   

After they know that from this point forward they will have chores to do daily then write them out and give them each a list of their own chores to accomplish each day.  They can morning and evening chores.    

If they complain then you need some way of dealing with. I find that if they know what to expect, they do it regularly, then the complaining is really not a big issue.  If it continued to be I would have to take away some privilege for a day for the complaining.  My children know that it is of no value to complain and find getting their job done in a timely manner means they can move onto the thing they want to do.   

Hope that helped answer the question! 


Sherri asked in my last blog post how to sign up for my newsletter.  I send it out through Yahoo Groups.  You can go to the newsletters homepage:   and sign up.  I also have a sign up box on the main page of my website:  just scroll about halfway down the page. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

To-Do Lists Revisited

I had a comment that I thought I would share and chat about…   

How do you keep from becoming overwhelmed and not getting things done on your list as fast as you'd like?   

Good question!!    When I read this the first thing that came to my mind was..  expectations!   

We all have certain expectations of what we want to accomplish in a day.  If I was becoming overwhelmed by not getting things done as quickly as I would like then I would have to ask myself if my expectations for what I am actually able to do in a day just too much.   

We are all in different places in life and when I had a lot of young children in my home my expectations of what I could reasonably accomplish were always to high.  I had to scale them back and adjust to what I could make happen in a day..  you know, my brain said I could do it all, but real life around me showed me I couldn’t!  

The second thing that came to my mind was priorities.  I work by priorities.  I figure the main things that I must get done in a day.  If I have so much going on in my life that I can’t keep on top of the priorities then I need to take things off my plate or at least greatly reduce what I have going on.   

The third (and last) thing that comes to my mind is something I have dealt with in my own life.. Laziness (I hesitate to even bring this up because I don’t want it to be taken wrong and I am in NO way saying this about my commenter or anyone else..  just what I have dealt with that gets in my way of staying on top of things and getting overwhelmed).   I have fought just not doing what I should do to be productive each day (it has always been intrinsically important value to me as a stay at home wife/mom to be as productive as I can be for my husband, family and home.. but it does not mean I have not fought myself along the way in reaching this goal LOL!! ).  I have found my to-do lists to be very helpful in this.  Most evenings I rewrite my list (putting the unchecked items on a new list) and adding tomorrow’s agenda.  This really helps keep me focused in the mornings.  After quiet time, coffee, and computer I am not feeling like.. now what direction should I move in?  I already know!   

Now the fourth thing..  (I guess 3 was not last! )..  I make sure to include my children in all the household functions.  Mine are older now and can capably handle the house without me.  This provides me an incredible amount of help and makes it possible to get a lot of other things done in a day.   We have a well established routine and chore lists and that helps me to not feel like the house is falling down around me.  When things get out of shape it takes 4 or 5 of us a very short time to put it all back together and move on.   

Now it is time for me to check back in with my to-do list and get stuff done (I got on the computer to pay a bill and look where it took me..  maybe I needed to add “distractions” to that list I just wrote! LOL  ).. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I’m Home!



I have been back from my vacation for a couple of days now. I have been working to catch up on laundry, make bread, grocery shopping, food preps and getting life back into a normal routine. Hubby headed back to work last night and I was sad that life can’t always be vacation! LOL.. but I guess they call that retirement and I am sure not ready for that.. 


One good thing I have to say is that I think we brought the sunshine and heat home with us! While we were gone enjoying 95 degree days it was 55 degrees and wet here (it was 95 degrees when we boarded the plane to come home and 50, cold and wet when we got off the plane).. .  Yesterday started warming up and today is supposed to be near 80.. and I will take that!! 


Since I have been home I have been working to fill the orders that came in to my country store while I was gone. Some orders are already in the mail and I plan to have everything out my Monday. So if you ordered from me this month you should have your items sometime this week. 



I have a new to-do list all made out. I have a lot on there so today I will just pick out what I think I can make happen. I have more bread to bake (soft bread sticks to go with our dinner), do some sweeping and mopping, fold laundry, wash the bathtub, make mayonnaise, update my Quicken, make this blog post , and try and answer some more emails. I came home to 400 emails (none from any type of group.. but a lot of it spam.. and a lot of questions!  ).. so if you emailed me in the last couple of weeks and have not heard back from me.. it may take awhile..  


My girls are so excited.. they (along with a friend and her mom) are going to a Taylor Swift concert tonight! They can’t wait… and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I know they will have a great time. 


I am going to leave you with a very yummy dessert recipe!! If you get my newsletter I had it in the May issue.. but felt it worth reprinting. Leanne made them again last night and I felt I needed to also give you a warning….   DO NOT make these if you are the only one home! LOL…   I am happy to say that half the pan was gone before I went to bed and it was NOT me who ate them all! But I could see how it could be.. they are so good (especially if you are a fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups).. and hard to resist if they are just sitting on your counter..


Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars


½ cup butter

½ cup cane juice crystals

½ cup Sucanat

½ cup peanut butter (no added sugar and non hydrogenated)

½ t vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pasty flour

1 cup quick oats

¼ t salt

1 cup chocolate chips, grain sweetened if possible



1 cup powdered Sucanat (or powdered sugar if you can’t find the powdered sucanat)

¼ cup peanut butter

3T milk



Heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with non stick spray. In Bosch (or KA) combine butter, sugars, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.


In a small bowl combine flour, oats and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in your mixer. Mix all until just combined.


Press dough into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes.


While cookie bars are baking make Icing…


Combine powdered sugar and peanut butter in mixer bowl. Add milk until icing consistency. Add more milk if too thick and a little more powdered sugar if too thin.


After you take the bars out of the oven pour icing over the top while the bars are still warm. Swirl the icing with the chocolate chips. Let it cool completely. Cut into bars.




That’s all from my Homestead! Hope you are having a wonderfully warm and enjoyable weekend on your homestead.. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vacation Time


Crystals Country Store is on Vacation (and so am I )


All orders placed as of Monday May 4th will be sent out on Monday May 18th.