Monday, August 29, 2011

Proverbs 31:16...

She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.

This morning in my Bible reading I was looking at the above verse. It is one of my favorite verses concerning the Proverbs 31 woman. This verse has always said to me that she is a capable, intelligent woman. She has a good savvy business mind; which is very needed when raising a family, especially on one income in these economic times.

I’ve read many times where people will feel this verse means she was an entrepreneur. I can see how it can be looked at this way. But when I was a younger mom with a house full of young children and babies the last thing I had time for was a home based business. I think we miss the bigger picture of this verse when we focus just on that aspect.

Proverbs is a book of wisdom. The verses concerning the Proverbs 31 woman are to help us become wise in our role as a homemaker. I believe this verses bigger message is that we need to be making wise financial decisions for our family. There are many areas of finance in our family where my husband and I sit down and work together to make the best choices for our family. But there are many areas where I alone make the decision on what is purchased and where the money goes. Wisdom is needed when I make those decisions. Proverbs 31:11 says “The heart of her husband safely trusts her”. He is counting on me to make good and wise money choices in the areas that are my domain. Therefore I need to give a lot of thought in my spending.

When it says she “considers” a field, this means she is giving it some time and thought. How many impulsive poor spending choices have we all made in our lives? The first lesson then is to slow down and think before purchasing. Being wise with the grocery budget (just one example) means I spend time making menus, grocery lists and then spend time cooking and baking to feed my family so as to put the least amount of strain on our budget (and get optimum health at the same time :).

With the money saved it is now time to use it wisely. Planting a field to me means the money saved is put back into the family resources to be used wisely again. It also means calculating the labor involved in any project I take on and plan to spend money. I am sure the Prov. 31 woman in all her considering looked at how much time and labor would be spent in working that field so it could produce at a profit. It was not just some idea she decided to plunge into, she weighed (considered) it carefully. It is easy to have great ideas, spend the money on those ideas only to have the idea shelved and never tackled. Ideas are easy, spending money can be easy (and more so when spent foolishly). Part of “considering” means to look at the labor and time that will be used for the project. If it is more labor and time than is available, perhaps it is not the best use of my money.

With these thoughts on my mind this Monday morning I am heading off to Costco with my planned grocery list to wisely find the best deals for our family.. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Zucchini Sausage Soup for Canning

I made my zucchini soup yesterday and got it canned. Here is the recipe…

Zucchini Sausage Soup for Canning
makes about 13 quarts

1 ½ lbs sausage
¼ cup olive oil
3 onions, chopped
3 peppers, chopped
24 cups cubed zucchini, do not peel
3 cans (14oz) diced tomatoes
3 cups sliced carrots
12 cups stock
6 cups water
1T salt
1T seasoning salt
1T. pepper
1T Italian seasonings

In a large stockpot (I used a 14 quart pot), heat up olive oil and add sausage, onions and peppers. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink and the veggies are soft. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes.

Fill the first 7 hot quart jars with the hot soup. Process in a pressure canner at 10lbs of pressure for 90 minutes. Repeat for the next batch.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday on the Homestead

Today has been a nice day here at home. My son Isaac and I were the only ones home until just a few minutes ago when Sierra came home from her friend’s house. Isaac and I spent the morning doing chores together. It was nice one on one time. We got the kitchen cleaned up, he fed and watered the goats, I got my big pot of vegetable stock strained and bagged and in the freezer. I now have stock to make a large batch of zucchini sausage soup for canning. Isaac and I also went to the garden to see what was ready for picking. I have lots of lettuce and had already picked some yesterday. I was happy to see I had a few tomatoes to pick; the first ones! Isaac picked his favorite vegetable: the zucchini and summer squash. Always lots to find hidden in those big plants. And I had a few little cucumbers. Here is a pic of our haul today:

I had some fresh spinach that needed to be used up and some cream cheese that needed to be used too. I decided to make some spinach dip. I did not really have enough spinach for it, but in the end I don’t think anyone will complain! LOL.. I first wilted the spinach (heated a frying pan, added a bit of water and then my fresh spinach leaves and stirred it around till it had wilted, then put it in my strainer to drain). Then I proceeded to use it in this recipe:  I am serving it with multi-grain tortilla chips ....

I am off my menu a bit due to having some nights where no kids were home and there were enough leftovers for me and Tobin. I was thinking of just putting together a little of this and that for tonight but my son Jacob called and said he was coming over (with his hearty appetite LOL) and so I figured I better get some food made. Tacos seemed like a good and easy choice this late in the afternoon. Plus I have watermelon and grapes to go with it all.

Hope you all are having a pleasant Wednesday on your homesteads! :)


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Garden Updates and Zucchini Sausage Soup

My kids and I did the 3rd picking of green beans on Friday evening. First thing Saturday morning I got up and canned them. It was the smallest of our green bean harvest..

But it did yield 6 quarts and 1 pint of green beans. That is the end of the green beans. There may be enough left now for a meal or two but that is it. In total I ended up with 26 quarts and 1 pint canned green beans and 12 quarts and 24 pints of 3 bean salad canned. Not bad for my single row of plants!

I love this time of year in the garden not only for the food it produces but my flowers are starting to bloom. I love planting flowers in the garden. Not only do they bring some beautiful butterflies and bees to the garden but they make the garden so pretty. Here are a few pics of some of flowers starting to bloom..

With the warmer weather finally kicking in my garden has started to produce a lot of summer squash. I have two types of yellow squash planted and two zucchini plants. Amazing how fast they produce! So now the challenge is how to use them up. For many years I have used some by grating them and freezing them for making zucchini bread in the winter. The problem I have with this is that I rarely pull it out to use it. It seems each season has its own types of fruits and veggies to use and the zucchini lay forgotten in the freezer. So it got me thinking of a way that I would be more apt to use it. I thought of soup. We eat lots of soups throughout the year. I came up with a soup that is really tasty! Everyone enjoyed it. Now my plan is to enlarge this recipe and can up the soup. It would also freeze well I am sure. But I really like having my own canned soups ready to go on the shelf. Makes great healthy, inexpensive convenience food! When I get the recipe rewritten for canning and can up a few batches I will post about that. For now here is the recipe I made last night.

Zucchini Sausage Soup

2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped – this can be a green, red, yellow pepper: your choice
½ lb. sausage
8 cups cubed zucchini, do not peel zucchini
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
4 cups stock, this can be chicken or beef or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 t. salt
1 t. seasoning salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. Italian seasonings

In a 6 or 8 quart stock pot heat olive oil on medium high. When olive oil is hot add onions and peppers. Cook until veggies are soft. Add sausage and continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink. Add zucchini and cook for another 5 or so minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, water and seasonings. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with French bread or dinner rolls.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gardener’s Salt Scrub

I love this salt scrub! It is easy to make and works so well. After an afternoon of working in the garden my hands need a little extra attention and this scrub is just the ticket!! All you need is some sea salt and olive oil. If you have some essential oil or fragrance oil to add to it that is a bonus but it is optional.

Gather your ingredients together..

Measure the salt into a bowl..

Add the olive oil..

And stir it up…

Now add a little essential or fragrance oil. I added about 3 drops or so of lemon essential oil to give it a fresh citrusy smell. I put a little oil in the lid of the essential oil bottle and just poured that in…

Store it in a jar next to your sink. I used a wide mouth ½ pint jar. …

To use the scrub, spoon a little into your hand and scrub in well. It really helps to get all that garden dirt off your hands that just does not want to budge with just soap and water. When you are done rinse it off and wash your hands with some nice moisturizing soap, homemade preferred (  or  ) Your hands will clean, moisturized and feel so soft!

Gardener’s Salt Scrub
Crystal Miller

½ cup sea salt
½ cup olive oil
Essential oil or Fragrance oil to scent

Mix altogether and store in a canning jar by the sink. Use a spoon to scoop out a small amount and scrub your nails and other areas of your hands that are in need. Rinse with warm water. It will leave your hands smooth and clean!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garbanzo Bean & Veggie Burgers

This last weekend I cooked up a lot of garbanzo beans for making my 3 bean salad. I had some leftover and I wanted to make something with them (hummus did cross my mind, but I did not have all the ingredients in my cupboards to do this). So I decided to makes some bean burgers with them. They were really yummy! We had them for lunch the other day and my kids gave them 2 thumbs up! :)

Garbanzo Bean & Veggie Burgers

Makes about 14 patties

4 generous cups cooked garbanzo beans
2 eggs
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup shredded onions
½ cup shredded peppers (green, red, yellow.. whatever you would like)
1t salt
1t seasoning salt
1t pepper
¼ t red pepper flakes
½ cup finely crushed crackers, or bread crumbs or flour

I used my food processor to shred my veggies. 

Put your garbanzo beans and eggs in the food processor and blend them part way.  Then add veggies and seasonings and blend until mostly smooth (this does not need to be completely smooth).  Put this mixture into a large bowl. Add the crushed crackers (or bread crumbs or flour) to the mixture and stir them in well. Let this sit for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle on medium high heat. Pour some olive oil over the griddle. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop out the bean mixture. You should be able to take this and form a patty. If it is too moist, add a few more cracker crumbs, if it is too dry you add a little olive oil to get the right consistency. Form a patty and lay it on the griddle. You can do this for however many burgers will fit in your frying pan or griddle.

Let them cook for 4 to 5 minutes and the flip them over.

Cook them for another 4 to 5 minutes on the other side. Allow them to cool slightly before eating.

You can use them as you would a hamburger to make a yummy burger sandwich.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday on the Homestead

A fresh start to the week!! I love Monday’s! I like to give my home a good cleaning on Monday. Usually the weekends are busy with all of us in and out of the house and by today, the home needs some attention. That would be especially true for my weekend with the canning that I did. On Saturday evening I canned up a second (double) batch of 3 bean salad; ended up with another 12 pints and 6 quarts. Plus my weekend had other happenings going on as well. So this morning I printed out my cleaning list for today ( ). 

Mainly I want to clean up the clutter around the house, give the kitchen & bathroom a good scrub down, sweep & mop floors, and wash a few loads of laundry. I’ll make sure my kids clean up their rooms and vacuum rugs, sweep and mop floors upstairs (where their rooms are). With all of us working I suspect it should not take too long. I am thankful for the help from my kids today as I kind of over did it with my elbow this weekend and I am feeling it.

After the house cleaning is done I was planning to get some weeding done in the garden… but the prediction is for rain today.. sad to say.. if it does rain then the most I am going to do is go pick some lettuce for tonight’s dinner. My menu says sub sandwiches and watermelon. I think it will be cantaloupe instead as it needs to be eaten first. I also wanted to make some dessert. Since today is on the cooler side it might be the perfect afternoon to bake a batch of oatmeal cookies ( ). 

My hubby does not have to work tonight (his weekend starts today), so the evening will be enjoyed with some family time and maybe watching something from Netflix.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Updates from the Homestead

I have had a pause in blogging the last few days.. I’ve been dealing with some elbow pain that was diagnosed as bursitis. I’ve gone through all the normal treatments, including medication but so far it is still a bit swollen and a little painful. Has made some of the simple things in everyday life a bit more challenging! But, my youngest two have been a great help to me. Thankfully I am at the point where I can use it and that is good because my green beans were finally ripe enough for the first picking. 

Yesterday my kids and I got them picked and I cooked up garbonzo beans and red beans to make 3 bean salad for canning. I also ended up with enough beans left for canning a second batch and set aside enough for another batch of 3 bean salad. By the end of the day I had 6 quarts & 12 pints of 3 bean salad and 7 quarts of green beans…

My garden is growing, a bit behind schedule but I am hopeful! While down at the garden yesterday I took some pictures….

Today I have errands to run in the city and my daughter has an art class. When I get home I plan to can up the other batch of 3 bean salad. If you are interested in this recipe you can find it here: 

That is all the updates from the homestead for now.. Hope you have a great weekend! :)


Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Goat Milk Soap Scent!

I have a new goat milk soap scent available!

Lavender Vanilla!

It is scented with vanilla crème fragrance oil and lavender essential oil.. smells yummy!


Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Goat Milk Soap 
is....  Back in Stock!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting Real with Weight Loss


Seven years ago I was at the highest weight I had been at, well almost.. I did weigh more after having had my last child. I had lost that weight and more and then gained most of it back again. Does that sound like a familiar story to anyone who struggles with their weight? Gain some, lose some, gain more, lose some, gain more. An endless cycle. We reach for one diet or herb or miracle product to help us lose. Then discouragement sets in and we toss it all and gain weight once more and usually add extra pounds on in the process.

I’ve always hesitated to talk about weight issues. If you are anything like me it is a sensitive issue and can be a real personal struggle.

I spent 5 years losing 50lbs and have kept it off now for 2 years. Did I have a miracle diet or some awesome herb? Nope.. I got real with weight loss. Before I share my story with you I want you to know that I am in no way an expert, and I don’t have answers for everyone or anyone for that matter. I can only tell you what I did and what I still do.

First I realized one basic thing.. I ate more food than my body needed. I thought about this.. if I was stranded on a desert island with little to no food.. would I still gain weight? No, I don’t think so. However, that sounds simple but the human mind and body are not that simple. I looked at what the world has to offer.. weight watchers, jenny craig, slim fast, diet drinks or bars, controlled serving size meals, herbs, metabolism boosting pills, and on and on and on.. If they were all so effective would we still have so many overweight people in this country? Someone is making a lot of money on these things, but so many are still overweight.

Weight loss is a spiritual issue, at least from my perspective. Why do we eat more than we need? Why do we struggle with the temptations of food? I would say we have needs that we try to meet with food. I once had a friend say to me, “food is the Christian drug of choice”.. it is the only thing a Christian can over indulge in and it is OK. Alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc… are not acceptable in the Christian world but food is.. So we take the pain, issues, struggles in our lives to food.. instead of to God.

The realization came to me one day when I read in the Scriptures that self control is a fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:23) and gluttony is not something God thinks highly of (Proverbs 23:21 ), and the fact that we are not to be controlled by food (1 Corinthians 6:12&13 ) .. ever had a meal, dessert or anything else that you just simply could not say no to? Even though you were not really hungry? Yea.. me too.. That is when I knew it was/is a Spiritual issue.. God has given me everything I need to say no, I just need to go to Him and fight my battles with His strength not mine.

I lost about 10lbs a year.. because spiritual issues sometimes take time and God has so very many things for us to learn in the process.. it is still a process I am working through, but with His strength I have had success.

The nuts and bolts? I ate less food, cut my servings in half and then in half again, ate/eat only when I am hungry, fight with lots of prayer when I want to eat something and I am not hungry, learned that food does NOT have to control me.. I am in control of me with the power of the Holy Spirit.. it is a winnable battle ladies.. not hopeless desperation. Foods is no longer “good” or “bad”.. I just have choices to make. I do my best to make healthy food for my family. I enjoy the food that God has given us. I don’t deny myself foods because some worldly diet guru says it is wrong for me to eat it. But I also say no to foods if I am not hungry or even if I am and I have decided it is not the best choice for me. One of my main goals has been that I no longer want food to have a hold over me.. I want to be able to say NO because I just don’t want it.. no matter what it is..

As for exercising to lose weight? I have no problem with exercise .. but for me this was/is not the means to weight loss, it is being a good steward of my body. I have my times when I really get into exercising.. especially the winter months when I am not as busy. I love Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home DVD’s. But when life gets busy and I am going from sun up to sundown.. I don’t worry about it.. all is not lost.. I am just focusing on more important things in my life like my family and home.

I do want to make one disclaimer.. I have friends that have struggled with medical issues or medications that have made weight loss near to impossible.. I am not referring to this type of situation.. I am talking to those who struggle with weight not related to medical issues.

Ladies.. this is a battle that can be won with the power of God.. go to Him for direction and self control.. the lessons to be learned during the process are priceless..

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Menu

1st – crockpot meatloaf, crockpot mac & cheese, cantaloupe
2nd – tuna wraps, watermelon
3rd chicken cacciatore, French bread, salad, watermelon
4th navy bean soup (using leftover hambone from last month), french bread, salad
5th – leftovers
6th – organic chicken sausages sautéed with onions, peppers, pasta and homemade fermented sauerkraut, salad, watermelon
7thbaked chicken legs, potato salad, salad
8th – hamburger rice enchiladas, refried beans, chips & salsa, salad
9th – leftovers
10th – ham salad wraps (using leftover ham from last month’s ham), cantaloupe & strawberries
11thbrown rice lasagna, French bread, salad
12thcrockpot bbq meatballs, crockpot mac & cheese, salad
13th – leftovers
14th – chicken alfredo, dinner rolls, salad
15th – sub sandwiches, watermelon
16th – Chinese rice w/chicken, egg rolls, salad
17th – leftovers
18th beef & chile relleno casserole, refried beans, salad
19thwhite bean chicken chili, cornbread, salad
20th jambalaya, salad
21st – leftovers
22nd tuna casserole, salad
23rd – tacos w/all the trimmings, watermelon
24th – crustless chicken pot pie, salad
25th – leftovers
26thcream cheese chicken enchiladas, salad
27th – spaghetti, French bread, salad
28th – pot roast w/potatoes, corn on the cob, salad
29th – leftovers
30thyummy pinto beans, dinner rolls, salad
31st- orange chicken with Chinese noodles, salad