As 2013 is coming to an end I’ve been contemplating my blog and what direction
to go with it. I love blogging, I enjoy sharing and find a great deal of
satisfaction from it. I’m excited for the New Year and what will unfold, not
only in my life but here on my blog, which for me go hand in hand. I’ve always
gotten the inspiration for my blog from my own life. I’m not a “professional
blogger” and have no desire to be. My preference has always been to share real
life. From the beginning my goal for my blog, website, forums, etc. has been to
encourage homemakers in their daily walk. And that is what I will continue to
strive to do for this coming year.
I’ve been blogging now since 2006 (I started my blog in December of 2005 ) and
one thing that has gone through my mind a lot is how my life has changed so much
in the last 8 years. When I started blogging I had a house full of little ones,
tweens and teens. I was homeschooling them all, I raised goats, milked goats,
had horses, chickens, baked all our bread, and so much more. Today I find myself
approaching an “almost” empty nest (although it keeps fluctuating between 2 and
4 children ~smile~), I have a few goats that keep the brush down on our property
and I no longer milk them. I no longer have chickens but I do miss them and
often think of taking on a few again.. but as I’ve said in years past, “not this
year, maybe next”. I don’t bake bread as often as I did because I think after
20+ years of constant work, I’m feeling a little tired and am enjoying the
As my home life has gone through the normal changes of children growing up and
life looking different, so has my blog. I’m constantly touched and amazed when
someone leaves me a comment telling me they’ve been reading my blog for years or
reading it since the beginning. I’ve even told friends, I’m not sure why because
I’m simply one housewife and mama doing what I love to do (and have been called
to do) and sharing it with other women and I am thankful and humbled that they
would want me to be a part of their life. I truly look at my readers as friends
stopping by to visit over a cup of coffee.
I look forward to heading into 2014 sharing what is on my heart and mind in
regards to my home and family, sharing yummy homemade food from my kitchen,
sharing encouragement to be the best wife, homemaker and mama we can be. As
always I look forward to hearing from you as well. I’ve recently changed the way
I handle comments. In the past comments were published right away, after
deciphering the little words/letters/number phrase. I’ve heard from a few people
that they are often very difficult to see and interpret. I tried at one time to
get rid of that and ended up battling a lot of spam.. so I now have the comments
moderated but with no need to decipher the script, so hopefully that will make
As a sneak preview for January.... I plan to start a monthly “Homemaking
Challenge” where I focus on one particular homemaking task that I tend to
procrastinate on (to help encourage not only you to tackle these tasks in your
home, but myself as well! If I share about it I hope to be more inspired to stop
procrastinating about these things too), I also hope to share about meal
planning/cooking simplicity, and making some fun personal care items (easy,
inexpensive ways we can pamper ourselves every now and then), and more!
I’m definitely looking forward to visiting with you all in 2014 over a nice cup
of coffee (or tea) and sharing what is happening here on my little homestead…
The Christmas holiday is behind me … and it was a wonderful time. I
absolutely love my family and having a reason to gather together is a blessing.
Our time spent was a blessing. Here are a few pics from our time….
And the crazy silly pic...
Now I’ll be busy cleaning up Christmas and putting it all away. I know many
people leave their tree up until the first of the year, but I prefer to put it
all away and start the year out fresh ready to tackle my new year’s goals.
I’m looking forward to the New Year… lots of plans and thoughts and goals
running through my mind..
I pray you all had a blessed holiday and are ready to tackle the new year! I’ll
be back with plans to share on tackling my home and the new year!!
I’ve had lots of different ideas for Christmas dinner. I’ve thought of doing
things I’ve done in the past, new ideas, new recipes, etc. We don’t really have
a traditional meal we always make. However I like to make things that are simple
and not require a lot of time in the kitchen because I’d rather be enjoying my
time with my family. So after much discussion with one of my daughters this is
Pork loin roast, covered in bacon and roasted (I’ll cook this in my
roaster oven to leave my oven available) Garlic roasted new potatoes
Sweet potatoes Salad: I’ll be purchasing a salad mix from Costco that I’ve bought before
really enjoy. It has a mix of many types of greens as well as dried cranberries
and pumpkin seeds 24 hour fruit salad: this is one recipe that makes it appearance at least
once during the holiday season French bread
Dessert: cookies (the recipes I’ve posted recently), homemade fudge and
peanut butter fudge
We will have our main dinner on Christmas Eve. That is the time I’ll have most
all of my family here and friends as well. On Christmas day I’ll still have some
family members here and a friend of my son’s that is here visiting. Our
Christmas Day breakfast menu will be 2 recipes that will be new to me:
This wraps up my cookie baking for the holidays. I have one more canning recipe
to share tomorrow but then I move onto making fudge in the next day or so and
then it is on to planning and preparing for the Christmas Eve dinner for my
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I have a few GF family members so I like to
make sure I have goodies that everyone can enjoy. So both these cookie recipes
are gluten free.
The first is Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. Basically I used
the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe and subbed my own GF flour mix for the flour
called for in the recipe. They turned out well after a bit of experimenting. I
found they browned on the edges before the centers looked cooked enough. So it
was a matter of finding the right time to remove them from the oven without over
baking the edges. About 10 minutes seemed right (but you will want to check
yours as oven temps seem to vary). The centers finished baking without issue and
the cookies are soft and yummy.
The second cookie was Monster Cookies, that are not all that monstrous in size!
:) Pretty average. This recipe was very easy to make and super good!! It calls
for M&M’s (called “multi-colored chocolate candies” in the recipe) and I
purchased a bag that was only red & green M&M’s. Made them look a bit more
festive, at least I think.
Cookies are on the dessert menu for Christmas with my
family. We’ve been making a variety of cookies and I wanted to make sure we had
a few gluten free options for the GF family members. Sierra made these cookies
the other day and they were soooo good!! Had to get them in the freezer quickly to
keep everyone from eating them! Ha, ha!!
Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup molasses
4 cups gluten free flour mix (recipe follows, if you use a different flour mix
that does not have xanthan gum in it you will also need to add 2t xanthan gum to
this recipe )
½ t salt
2 ¼ t baking soda
2 ¼ t ginger
3t pumpkin pie spice
~a little extra sugar for rolling dough balls
Optional: 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips & 2T coconut oil (for dipping cookies
Using a large mixer (such as a Bosch or Kitchen Aid) bowl cream butter and sugar
well. Add molasses and eggs and mix well again. Add remaining ingredients
(except optional ingredients) and mix until dough is completely blended. Chill
dough in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour, longer is fine).
When ready to bake, scoop out dough (approx. 2T) and roll into balls. Roll in
sugar and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake
at 350 for 11 minutes. Let cool on cooki sheet for a few minutes and then
transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
NOTE: If you find the cookie dough to be too sticky to work with, just
refrigerate for a little longer. As with a lot of gluten free baking I find that
the colder the better as far as handling is concerned.
Optional Dipping: If you want to add a little more festive
look (and yummy taste! :) you can dip half the cookies into white chocolate. To
do this melt the white chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave or in a
double boiler pan. Dip half of each (cooled completely ) cookie in melted white
chocolate and lay on foil or wax paper or parchment paper to cool and harden.
Print this recipe:
Now for the gluten free flour mix..... I use this mix
a lot when baking and it always seems to work just fine for cookies and quick
bread type recipes.
Gluten Free Flour Mix
2 cups rice flour (I’ve used both brown and white rice
flours. For cookies I prefer the white rice for the texture, but either will
2/3 cup potato flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1t xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients well and use in recipes that call for a gluten free
This recipe can be doubled or tripled or made as large as
This last week we’ve been making a lot of goodies and I’ve been sharing them as
the week has gone by. Today my daughter, Sierra, finished up some cookies that
I’ll share tomorrow and I made chocolate cherry sauce.
This is another quick and easy canning recipe that would make a super nice
little gift as well. I made up a batch of this sauce this evening and it tasted
yummy! I used frozen cherries that I purchased at Costco. Now I have a few jars
for giving away and a couple for our own shelf. It will make a great topper for
ice cream, cheesecake, pudding and so on.
After doing some research on canning chocolate sauce what I found was that
typically chocolate sauce on its own cannot be canned. It is a low acid food and
not suitable for water bath canning. However with the fruit and lemon juice added it raises the
ph level enough to make it fine for canning.
Prepare 6 to 8 half pint jars buy washing in hot soapy water, rinsing well and
then fill with boiling water to keep warm while you make sauce.
Combine lemon juice and cherries in a 6qt stock pot and let them defrost a bit.
You can turn the burner on very low to help the process. Use a potato masher to
In a bowl combine the cocoa powder and pectin and stir until well mixed. Add to
cherries and stir often (you don’t want the mixture to scorch so stir regularly)
and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and continue stirring. Bring mixture to a
full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Boil and stir for 1
Remove from heat. Ladle into prepared jars leaving at least ¼ inch
headspace. Wipe off any sauce that has spilled on the rim, put a clean (new)
canning lid on, and a ring (the ring does not have to be new, just clean).
Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from canner and set in
draft free area to cool completely. After 24 hours remove rings and store (or
prepare for gift giving with a pretty ribbon and label).
This recipe made 7 half pint jars for me with a little leftover that my family
enjoyed doing a taste test on!
Gathering together the ingredients (I did not use the whole bag of cherries, I
still have more than half left and enough to make another batch if I get that
Letting the cherries defrost and mashing them up…
After adding the chocolate/pectin…
I did not have time (or enough hands to help) to get a pic of what it looked
like after I put the sugar in. And then my camera acted up.. sigh..
but after filling the jars, putting the lid and rings on, and canning them..
here are pics of the sauce after pulling them out of the canner..
It was a quick process. In all it took about one hour to
make it.. a little more time spent cleaning up the sticky chocolate mess! But it
was worth it..
No Christmas at my grandmother’s would have been complete without snowball
cookies. They always bring me good Christmas memories when we make them. The
recipe is easy to make and tastes so yummy!
1 cup butter
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ¼ cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
¼ t salt
Using a mixer combine butter & powdered sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and
mix until smooth. Add flour, nuts and salt. Roll into 1 inch balls. Place on a
cookie sheet (I like to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper). Bake for 15
minutes 350. Let them cool for a few minutes but while still warm roll them in
powdered sugar and place a cooling rack. After they have completely cooled, roll
in powdered sugar once again.
If you’re looking for an easy, fun project that could also be a nice gift this
may the answer!! I made a batch of this and it is soooo good!! As a gift it
would be perfect coupled with a loaf of homemade bread or rolls, or even just
given on its own. What is nice about this recipe is that you can use frozen
strawberries and fresh or frozen cranberries. I bought several bags of
cranberries in November and put them in the freezer. When I made this jam I used
both frozen strawberries & cranberries.
This recipe makes a lot!! So you will have plenty to give as gifts and for your
family to enjoy.
Here is the recipe:
Strawberry Cranberry Jam Makes approx. 13 half pint jars
3#’s frozen strawberries
12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
1T lemon juice
2 boxes pectin
8 cups sugar
Put strawberries, cranberries, lemon juice, pectin and butter into a large, 6 to
8qt, stock pot. On medium heat slowly bring to a boil. Stir to prevent it from
sticking. Simmer and stir until fruit breaks up. If you want to hurry the
process you can use a stick blender to smooth it out, or leave the fruit a bit
chunky, the choice is yours.
Turn up the heat to high and add sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring it all to
a hard boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down) and boil and stir for 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Fill half pint and/or pint jars. Put new lid on, ring on and
put in a boiling water bath. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from canner and let
Our weather is really cooling down. We had a few snow flurries today but they
never amounted to anything, but it was cold out! I had the wood stove going and
that felt so nice. My kids were gone for the morning/afternoon. They went to
Seattle for the day with a friend. With a quiet afternoon ahead of me I decided
to make my family a little treat. I had some pumpkin puree sitting in the fridge
that I wanted to use up and pumpkin cinnamon rolls would be just the ticket.
I’ve made this recipe many, many times. It is always a favorite. You can find
the recipe here:
http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/pumpkincinnamonrolls.htm or below is
a link to print the recipe. It is a big recipe and will fill 2 9x13 pans (or a
big jelly roll pan). If that is too much the recipe can be cut in half. Or the
extra rolls can be frozen for another day. Or given away later on to friends or
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup real maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1t pumpkin pie spice
In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese and butter. Add the maple syrup,
powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well combined, stopping the
mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This makes a large
batch of frosting and will be plenty to cover the rolls. I have extra left over
that I will use on something else.
My daughter Leanne met a nice older man during her time of ballroom dancing. He
has since become a part of our family. We invite him for family parties,
holidays and such. He has no family living close by. He is Chinese and I sense
that because of the language barrier most people don’t have patiences to deal
with communication issues. Our family however had no problem. When he came to
our home last year for Thanksgiving dinner he told us this was his first
Thanksgiving (after 20 years living in this country, no one had invited him!).
He also told another one of our daughters that Leanne was the nicest person he
had ever met. All she did was extend her hand in friendship. Amazing what that
can do for a person’s life. Now he is friends with all of our family and no
holiday or family get together would be complete without him.
But what does this have to do with the title of this article? Well he said to
Leanne one time (after meeting many of her siblings), how is it your parents
have raised so many children without a sense of entitlement? I was taken aback
when Leanne told me this. I never really thought about it. It is not like I set
out to raise children that did not expect that anyone or any institution owed
them something. But that is what I have. I have children, all of them, that know
that if they want something in life it is not someone else’s responsibility to
give that to them.
Maybe because we raised 8 children on one income we were only able to give our
children what they needed and not every want and desire they had. My husband
makes a comfortable income, maybe not what most people feel they could raise a
family on, but comfortable enough for us. But it did not afford to give our
children all their dreams in life. My daughter Hannah was telling her husband
that .. “yes, we had everything we needed but if we wanted something beyond that
we had to work for it” (her husband’s comment by the way was.. “that is the way
it should be”). She remembers babysitting a house full of children for $5 an
hour and was thankful for the opportunity. She was able to purchase some fun
things she wanted. She never expected that we would provide that for her. The
same is true for the rest of her siblings. Emily and Leanne raised 70 chickens
and took care of them and sold their eggs for a profit so they could acquire the
things they wanted. Jacob worked for neighbors (several of them) doing
everything from yard work, bucking hay in the summer, painting fences to cutting
wood and doing carpentry work. He learned the value of work and more importantly
the value of working for what you want. Not expecting it is someone else’s
responsibility to provide that for him.
Today my children have found ways to put themselves through college, find
employment, understand the value of working hard for what you want and not
expecting that anyone owes you anything in life. Life is what you make it. And
do the best you can with what you have to make happen what you want.
If you want to raise children that do not feel that the world owes them
anything, teach them to work. Start at home and teach them to participate in
everyday life. Teach them to work for what they desire. At 12 my sons were
mowing our lawns and working around our property, ready to mow the neighbor’s
lawn, pick weeds, paint fences and more. My girls did child care, housekeeping
and watching an elderly family member for a friend, raised hens and sold eggs.
They learned the value of work as well as working for your goals and dreams.
One thing I see a lot of today is busyness. Today children and teenagers are
rushed to and fro to every type of activity while mom becomes worn out and the
paycheck can’t stretch far enough. I know there are things that most children
experience today that my children did not. And I know these things can enrich a
child’s life. In moderation I’m sure they are fine. Personally with the number
of children I have had there was just not the dollars to afford for each child
to have these types of experiences (nor did I have the energy to be taking
several children in several different directions constantly). At times I
wondered if my children were missing out. Of course they did a few things as
time, opportunity and finances allowed. But mostly they did not have the modern
day experience of participating in sports, karate, dance, scouts, 4H, and so on.
Maybe this is why as my children grew into their teenage years they were not
looking to me to make things happen in their lives. They figured out how to do
it themselves. How to start a business, how to be a good employee (for the
neighbors, you want to work hard so they call you back :), how to put themselves
through college, how to achieve their dreams and not to feel that anyone owed
this to them.
We are different for sure, we don’t keep up the "Joneses" (and make no apologies
for this), we don’t get stressed when we don’t do things the same way most of
our neighbors do it with their kids, we march to our own drum beat, and it looks
different. But as I sit back and look over the years of raising my children I
have to say I don’t feel like we did it wrong, I like the results. I see kids
(now adults) that know how to work, and have worked for what they want in life,
and as adults, lead productive lives and don’t expect that anyone owes them
anything… and most of all my kids like the results too. None of my children feel
they missed out on anything. They’ve told me over and over, they loved their
childhood and have loved that they learned how to work for what they want and
how to achieve their goals in life.
Now I’m at the other end, seeing the results of raising my children (well,
almost, I still have a couple chicks in the nest :). And I like what I see. If
you want to raise children in this day and age that will work for what they want
in life and not feel that the world owes them anything.. teach them to work,
teach them to serve, teach them to love, teach them to strive for and work for
their goals. They will learn so much from the process and achieve their dreams
in life, if they desire to do this (there is always a "free will" going on, but
if they know that they are responsible to make happen what they want to happen
in life, it changes free will just a bit). But if every want and desire is given
to them, they will grow up feeling that “someone” owes this to them. At least
that is my personal opinion from my own experiences. And if I had it to do all
over again, I would do it just the same way.
After a year and 2 weeks my daughter is home from S. Korea. We are so thrilled
and she could not be more happy to be home! She arrived home on Saturday
evening. We met her at the airport. There were 13 of us there to greet her, mom,
dad, siblings, nieces and a brand new nephew, & friends.. waving S. Korean Flags
and making a whole lot of hoopla! Lots of hugs, lots of kisses.. we came home
and had a welcome home party with lots of food and time to chat and give more
The next day my family and more friends joined us for our Thanksgiving dinner
(18 in all). It was a blessed time for my husband and me. We enjoyed each and
every moment with our children and grandchildren. God is good and has greatly
blessed us and we are very grateful for it all.
Here are a few pics of our time…
Getting off the plane after a 10 hour flight to San
Francisco and then a lay over and finally arriving at Portland International
Airport.. she was shocked to see us all.. we were cheering and waving S.
Korean flags.. and then all the hugs...
Hugs from mama...
Hugs from friends...
Meeting her newest little nephew...
Thanksgiving Pics.. Her and Marie (my French daughter and
Leanne's pen pal for the last 7 years)...
Me and Leanne..
Table decorations done by Sierra...
Thank you for sharing in my joy and excitement.. it's good
to have my girl back..