Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Goat on the Homestead

I bought a new goat for our homestead a couple of days ago. Her name is Bonnie…

She is a little Alpine doe.. and so far is doing great at intermingling with the other two goats. My herd is a lot smaller than it use to be, and I am just fine with that. Goats tend to be one of those things that can get overwhelming in a short time.. so I had to downscale and get back to something I could easily handle in life!! ~smile~ So far Bonnie seems like a great addition..

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Flowers and a Little Back Porch Beauty

A home decorator I am not. I like things that look clean, neat and organized and I know what colors I like and what looks good to me, but I guess with most all of my energy over the years (the last 27 to be precise) going to the raising of 8 children, homeschooling, learning to run a home and all that my life style entails.. well, decorating just has been at the bottom of the list.

 However, I do like flowers. I have found that flowers can make any area look pretty, cared for and homey. During the spring and summer I like to pick wild flowers on my property and put them in vases in my home. Right now I have really been enjoying the wildflowers that are growing on the hillside below our house…

Can’t ask for better decorating than that!!! :)

I always plant lots of flowers in my garden. My dad’s favorite flowers were zinnias. For years I have planted them in my garden and would cut them and bring them in the house. When I planted my packet of zinnias in my garden this year I thought of my dad and what a great way this is for me to remember him all summer long.

When I planted my seed starts in the spring I planted some impatients. They are a small and pretty flower that grows well in the shade. I have been tending to my little impatients now for a few months and they are growing well. I have them sitting in pots on my back porch steps.

I live in an old house that is in need of repair in many areas. We have done a lot of work to our home since we bought it, but it is still a work in progress. My back porch is a little sad looking. It really needs a face lift, but for now it is at the bottom of the project to-do list. But, nonetheless I cleaned off my back porch this summer, took the pressure washer to clean off the cement stairs and washed the porch (rain and dirt equals lots of mud after a yucky wet spring like we had).. and put my pots of impatients around the steps. Aww.. I loved it.. it gave my sad looking back porch a little touch of beauty and homey love…

I am always amazed at how much flowers can add to a home, no matter what the condition.. ~smile~

Saturday, July 24, 2010


In my last blog post I promised to share the recipes that Leanne used to make her cheesecakes for Tobin’s birthday.

There are literally thousands of recipes out there on the web for cheesecake. However you really have to search to find the ones that don’t use things like pudding mixes and sweetened condensed milk. I try and keep the foods we make as basic as possible and stay away from as much pre packaged foods as possible. The only exception to these recipes is that we did purchase graham crackers. But many times we have made our own graham crackers and used those to make the crusts. If you would want to do that you can find my recipe here:  I have also bought them from health food stores before  and the ingredient list is a lot better.

The first cheesecake was a Cherry Cheesecake…

She did not use the crust recipe for this cheesecake, she used the crust recipe from the Marble Cheesecake. It was easier to make a double batch of crust at one time and I thought the ingredient list was a little strange.

She also did not follow the cherry topping recipe but made it this way instead..

1- 16oz bag frozen sweet dark cherries
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 T cornstarch
1/8 t lemon juice

Put the frozen cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the cherries and sugar. Add lemon juice. Heat and stir on medium high heat until it boils and thickens.

The second recipe was for Marble Cheesecake….

This one she made pretty much as stated but used 4oz of chocolate chips in place of the semi-sweet chocolate squares.

Now I find myself looking forward to more of Leanne’s cheesecake making!! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Updates from the Homestead

The last two or three weeks has been kind of busy and lots has happened. Tests taken, milestones reached, and changes in our household have all been the cause of the busyness.

My daughter Emily went to visit friends in California for a few weeks. She really needed the break and also had an opportunity to do a little volunteering in an art center and for the local city hall there in Cali. She is having a great time.. but it has also provided her the opportunity to focus on the last 9 credits of her degree. Hopefully very soon she will be done with the last of her online classes! In the meantime Jacob immediately claimed her bedroom while she was gone! LOL.. I told Em that she would have to work that one out with him when she got back home. While I know she is having a super trip, she has sure been missed here at home…

My daughter Leanne took her drivers test yesterday and passed!! We were both so excited!! She is now a licensed driver. That makes 5 children I have taught to drive and 3 to go.. ~smile~

If you have been a reader of my blog for awhile then you probably remember me whining about the job of teaching my kids to drive. I really dislike the process.. mostly because getting a new driver behind the wheel and heading into town at 55 miles an hour through twisty curvy highway is one of those “white knuckle” types of experiences I honestly could do without. Once we arrive at our destination I feel like getting on my knees, praising the Lord, kissing the ground and grabbing the keys back from that child and taking over.. haa..haa… But eventually we get beyond that and before I know it they are driving into the big city and all over the place without issue.

I still rank teaching my kids to drive as the most difficult parenthood job there is.. 18 years of diapers was easier.. :) So yesterday when Leanne passed that test.. well let me tell you, it was like I passed it too and we both celebrated by getting an iced coffee at Starbucks for the drive home.. Now on to teaching Jacob..

I am super proud of my son Jacob. He is now officially done with homeschooling!! He took his 5 GED tests and has passed them all with great scores. Now he will be working on his college education. He has decided he would like a degree in criminal justice. He will get his first year CLEP’s done and then will be joining College Plus! He has also just started drivers ed in town (see paragraph above for my opinion on this.. ;) In between testing, bus rides into town to go to drivers ed and helping hubby with a few projects he has been working the hay season. He says he is getting real good at keeping his balance while riding on the top of several bales of hay as the truck and trailer move on down the field.. As a mother I try not make this a real vivid picture in my mind.. LOL..

Also this month we celebrated my hubby’s birthday! It was a lot of fun. His brother and wife came along with my oldest son and his wife and even my kids invited friends! We barbequed salmon and I made potato salad, coleslaw and my father in law brought some pizza, which was a big hit with the kids. The pic is of Jacob and Tobin.

Leanne made Tobin two of the most delicious cheesecakes for dessert (one was a cherry cheesecake and the other was a chocolate marble cheesecake). Everyone kept saying how professional they looked and how wonderful the tasted. She decided after that day that she was going to start making more cheesecakes.. lucky us!!! :) I will post the links to the websites she got the recipes from and the changes she made in the next blog post.

In between getting kids to testing and jobs as well as the grocery shopping I have been keeping the wheels in the home turning. Sierra and Isaac have been a real help with household chores and cooking. And on the quiet, warm afternoons you can usually find me working in my garden, swimming in the pond and enjoying the sun.

That is all the updates from my homestead for now.. hope you are all having a great week! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden Update

It has been about a month now since I planted my garden and it is growing great! The weather here has really warmed up and my plants are thriving.

On Saturday Isaac and I spent an hour or so weeding the garden and then went swimming and enjoyed the sunshine. I took a few pics and later in the evening we went down to water and Leanne came along to take some more pics.

I took this pic from my deck. You can see the big pond and the small pond. The small pond is actually bigger than it looks.. lots of stuff has grown up and around the pond this spring and we have not cleared it away yet. The little pond is actually a spring and it is what I use to water the garden. The water is piped underground over to the garden..

I then use PVC pipe to water each row. I dig a little ditch near or around the row of veggies and then we water each row by letting the water run down the row and then connecting the next piece of pipe at the top of the row to water the next row. This method works the best as there is not enough water pressure for sprinklers and the spring pond has too much debris to use soaker hoses…

Sometimes the ditches that we dig will break through so Isaacs favorite job is to get some dirt and pour it on the breach to keep the water flowing in the right direction.. He likes this job because he can get all wet and muddy.. LOL.. a little boy thing for sure!!

Now the garden is all watered!!

Time to jump in the pond for a swim…

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Super Easy Kefir Smoothie

Finally I can say summer is here. Yesterday my thermometer read 91 degrees.. aww.. gotta love it; at least I do, my garden does and my kids do too..

One of my favorite things to make during hot summer afternoons when the kids come in hungry is a smoothie. They are quick, make a minimal mess, don’t heat up the kitchen and they are healthy!!
I make my smoothies with kefir. I make kefir from a powdered culture. Kefir is a cultured milk product much like yogurt, only it is thinner than yogurt (like thick buttermilk in consistency) and much, much easier to make. I have step by step instructions with pictures on how to make kefir right here:

So for yesterday’s smoothie I combined about 3 cups kefir with 2 bananas that really needed to be used up and two big spoonfuls of organic peanut butter in my blender. I added some honey and mixed it all up. Then I added some ice cubes to make it cold and thick. I poured by boys (they were the only kids I had home yesterday afternoon) a big glass full and they loved it. They had seconds and then went back outside to continue on with their day..

You can make a kefir smoothie with any fruit, a little sweetener (like honey) and then add some ice. 

If you would like a recipe, I have a few here: Some of the smoothies listed have milk and yogurt in them and you can sub kefir for both.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Shopping and Cooking for a Week at My House, Conclusion

In conclusion....

Friday Night



On Friday we had lasagna for dinner. I have step by step picture instructions to make lasagna here. I made my lasagna bigger than the one shown on that webpage.  I used an 11x15 pan instead of a 9x13.

To make a larger portion I used 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles. I buy those in bulk (a 10lb box) from Azure Standard. I added a more cheese and cottage cheese and made a bigger batch of sauce.

For the sauce I used one pound of hamburger (from my beef in the freezer), a quart of home canned spaghetti sauce and added 1 6oz can tomato paste and a 15oz can of diced tomatoes (had these in my pantry). I use to buy all my tomato products from Azure because I wanted the organic tomatoes. I always am trying to avoid GMO products where I am able to. Now that Costco is selling organic diced tomatoes and organic paste, I buy it from them. I still buy my tomato sauce from Azure. I mixed the tomato products in with my sauce and added a couple of teaspoons of Italian herbs and some water. Then I assembled my lasagna (as shown on the web page linked above).


I served this with a salad and regular bread. I had French bread on the menu but the day was very busy and I was heading out in the evening with my kids and I did not have time to get it made.

I took an extra portion of this meal and packed it up for my hubby to take to work.  I also pulled out a package of frozen, chopped
chicken meat to use to make him a chicken salad sandwich.  I wrote a blog post awhile back on making frugal sandwiches and you can read about that in more detail here:
Every few weeks I cook up one whole chicken and a roast and chop this up and freeze it for his sandwiches.

His lunches are pretty basic. I send a portion of whatever meal we are eating, one sandwich (he use to take two but now he says one is plenty), some potato chips (Kettle brand, lightly salted), fruit, and a few mixed nuts in a container for snacking and a bottle of lemonade (I make it myself and put it in cleaned out plastic water bottles).He is gone for almost 12 hours each day (or rather night, he works graveyard) so he tends to like pretty big lunches!:). On the afternoon of his first night back to work I make up 2 quarts of lemonade and divide it into 4 (he works 4 days a week) plastic water bottles and put it in the fridge for the week. I also make enough chicken salad or beef salad sandwich filling for the week so putting together his lunch each day is pretty quick.

Here is how I make the lemonade..

To make 2 quarts:

½ cup honey

1 cup lemon juice


I put the honey in the 2qt juice container and add just enough hot water to dissolve and melt the honey. Then I add the lemon juice and fill to the top with cold water.

If you want you can drop the honey amount down to ¼ cup.I have done this and it tastes just fine, at least for us.Some may like it sweeter.



Baked chicken legs, garlic roasted potatoes and coleslaw


I defrosted and baked some chicken legs I had in the freezer. I have some yummy mango ginger glaze that I purchased from Costco a couple of weeks ago. I don’t typically buy things like this because I work to avoid MSG (and all its various names that appear on labels), but I was really
surprised to find this sauce to be very clean, ingredient wise.  So I gave it a try and we loved it on chicken.  So I baked the chicken legs at 350 until they are done and then brushed some of this glaze on them and turned the heat up to about 400 and bake until the glaze started to brown.

While the chicken was baking in my 11x15 pan I had the garlic roasted potatoes baking right next to them in my 9x13 pan.

Here is my recipe for the potatoes..

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Wash and chop up in bite size pieces, enough potatoes to feed your family. Put them in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with seasoning salt, pepper and minced garlic. Bake uncovered at 400 for 30 minutes or longer (the time will depend on how many potatoes are cooking and what size dish they are in), until they are fork tender and ready to eat.


I still had coleslaw that we were finishing up in the
fridge. Pretty simple dinner.

Saturday was also a baking day at my house. My daughter Leanne baked 4 loaves of bread (which was good, we only had one loaf left in the freezer), and she baked a breakfast coffee cake
for us!



That brings us to Sunday!


Well my menu changed last minute. We originally were not planning on doing a BBQ for the 4th of July because hubby had to work. But my oldest son called and he and his wife wanted to come for a BBQ and light some fireworks.. So that is what we did. They actually brought most of the food with them, which was very sweet.. so the work for me was minimal and we enjoyed the food, the fireworks and sitting around the campfire.

My originally planned meal of chicken relleno casserole, refried beans, Spanish rice will be served later on this week.

I hope you enjoyed spending this week with me and cooking and meal planning. I enjoyed sharing it with you and will have to do this again sometime. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shopping and Cooking for a Week at My House, Part 2

Part Two....

Wednesday Night

I had another day of running kids to the airport and testing. So again, I wanted something that was not to taxing! ~smile~

We had bbq hamburgers.  I made a comment that we don't buy beef from the grocery store, however there is one exception.I do purchase frozen hamburger patties from Costco, occasionally. Right now I am doing it
because I am almost out of beef (have another cow on order), and wanted to save the hamburger I have left for other meals.

While I was waiting for my son to finish up a test he was taking I stopped by Walmart. I picked up 2 cabbages and some green chilies. Remind me not get my canned green chilies from Walmart.. at least not that one, I don’t shop at Super Walmart for groceries typically because they never seem to have what I need and this was the case once again. All they had were the little cans of chilies. I typically buy whole chilies in a big can to make chili rellenos (on the menu Sunday night). Not much of a grocery trip, but nonetheless here it is..

Total Spent: $5.09

I got home early enough to get some hamburger buns made. My favorite recipe for this is my
oatmeal dinner rolls
. These are great tasting hamburger buns. I am able to get 16 buns made from the recipe. They freeze great too..

The lettuce was from my garden, tomatoes still from last weeks shopping, sliced onions and swiss cheese. I served Kettle brand ‘lightly salted’ potato chips (bought those last week) with this meal. And Leanne and Isaac made a bigbowl of coleslaw with one of the cabbages I bought.

Thursday Night

Happy Day for us!! Tobin and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary! :) We went out to eat and the kids stayed home and made dinner for themselves. They ate leftover burgers and had sausages left from Tuesday and coleslaw.

Part three.. to be continued..