I just had to share some adorable photos. My daughter set up her first bunny photo shoot to showcase her team of rabbits. She now has a facebook page and her own website up and running. I wanted to share a few of the pictures she took today, doesn't it make you want to run on over and snuggle one of these little ones?
After spending hours scouring the web and farm and garden stores for the best prices, we settled on a ready made rabbit cage kit to start with. What I was searching for was something stackable for my daughter's new rabbit business, I found it and luckily Rural King was running a sale.
We made a run and picked up 3 cages to house our doe and two bucks. They looked easy enough to put together and I loved the stacking option for space saving and looks. My daughter plans on using a larger hutch as a brooding box for mama rabbit and her kits once they are born, more on that later.
So here is the box and what it contained, I have to admit being a little befuttled at first, but with the help of another mom, we figured it all out and I think that aside from having very sore hands from all the wire crimping, we came out pretty good.
I have to say that now that I have built a bunny cage, even a stackable one, I believe that if a person is going to do a number of these it would be a cost savings to buy rolls of 1" x 1/2" wire, crimps and clasps and do it yourself. I am pleased with my purchase because honestly until I saw the thing come together I couldn't have conceptualized it, but I now know for future bunny condos.
Here is the cage double stacked and then also after the third tier was added and it was placed in our barn. The empty cage on top was just filled as we now have one doe and two buck rabbits.
My daughter decided to waste no time so she bred a doe and buck earlier last week. It was quite comical as the mating ritual of rabbits is not only very quick and short lived, but also has a funny finale. I learned a new term "fall off" it is when the male is done mating and he literally "falls off" and appears to have fainted for all of 1.5 seconds before rebounding and hopping around the cage again. It was laugh out loud kind of funny.
My daughter now has the calender marked, we will be palpatating the doe's belly to see if we have kits in another week and after that we add a nest box on day #28 and the kits should arrive on day # 31. The due date of our dear Cleo the doe is just 2 days before Easter, isn't that perfect?
Since I have begun my spring planting indoors this was a perfect time to work on the concept of plant lifecycles with my little boys. They enjoy planting and watching as the seedlings pop up but I wanted a fun craft to really show how the process works.
Here goes, you need a muffin liner, brown and green construction paper, string or yarn, a glue stick and some seeds (any kind will work, I used marigold seeds but even dried beans would work as you are showing a concept here).
I went ahead and set up the craft and then I used a few books we had to read as teaching tools and then also a graphic I found here: Science World that shows a great illustration of the life cycle of a plant.
This is a great time to check out your local library for books about growing and spring. Some fantastic titles are:
On to our project, we gathered our supplies (always better when mom is prepared and has them all laid out beforehand). And I also always like to have a sample of what the finished project is supposed to look like, it helps little minds visualize what they will finish with.
This is the time of year when my empty mason jars are lining shelves and filling cupboards. We have consumed a number of the delectable goodies that the jars contained over the winter months and as I am awaiting the harvests that will again fill these jars I always wonder how else I can creatively use them. The best thing about a mason jar is that it can be re-purposed forever, unless of course you happen to drop it on the floor. (yup, I've done that).
Note, if someone gives you a gift of homemade deliciousness in a jar, it is very courteous of you to return the jar if you do not intend on reusing it yourself, kind of like egg cartons, if you buy farm fresh eggs, return the cartons. We farmgirls repurpose everything!
So, what can you do with the jars if you do want to repurpose them? I have some great ideas for you!
How about using Mason jars in your Spring Cleaning/Organizing?
Use as Cute Containers...
link to tutorial here...(courtesy love grows wild)
And that's not all...
Here is a list of 22 uses for your Mason Jars
Love this list of 100 uses for Mason Jars
and the Master 400 list!!!
got any other ideas? I would love to hear them, I am inspired for sure, how about you?
I shared yesterday about my daughter's new venture in the pet world, so as not to be outdone, my son is on the bandwagon too. Not for breeding like his sister, but he became smitten and a bit obsessed with a pet that he saw at the home of a friend. After he saw this friend's leopard gecko and played with it a bit, I think I heard the word "gecko" or some form thereof a minimum of 2000 times a day. This went on for days to the culmination of "mom, you know I am allergic to all fuzzy pets, can't I just buy a pet that I can enjoy?"
This one got me, as it is so true. When we have had kittens, he can't really handle them or he sneezes and has allergic reactions for hours afterwards, same goes for the new bunnies. Most dogs have been okay unless they have longer fur. Poor guy, he played on mom's sentiments and it worked to his advantage. So, his money in hand we made a trip to the pet store. It was an amazing sight to behold as his eyes lit up and he talked a mile a minute to the clerk about all his new found Gecko knowledge.
You see, in an effort to convince us of his responsibility and desire for one of these creatures, he had been doing some pretty intense research. I even postponed our standard Science for a few days when I saw just how far he was digging in to information. He learned where the leopard Gecko originated, what it's habitat was like, became interested in the concept of cold blooded creatures, learned about reproduction of Geckos (they only have 2 eggs at a time that seem to be about the size of Robin's eggs). He learned about the different colored markings, learned about shedding, nutrition, the list goes on, and on. I almost felt sorry for the poor store clerk who had to listen to this 10 year old spout and encyclopedia page's worth of information about this beloved pet that he didn't even own yet.
His eyes wide he picked out the perfect creature, named him Eco (pronounced eeekO) and we went on home. He has since woken every day with a new fervor for his schoolwork and chores as he knows that to have free time to play with his new pet, he has to complete these tasks first. He built a habitat that he toiled over for hours, he rearranges the items and hand feeds meal worms. I almost dare say he might be one of the best Gecko handlers around. Funny thing is, I am not a grand fan of reptiles or amphibians, but this little guy is pretty cute. He has sticky feet and my son loves to walk around with his Gecko standing tall on his shoulder. I have learned more about these creatures than I ever cared to know, but this little guy is so pleased, how could I not share in some of his joy?
After her older sister just bought a car in cash, my younger daughter decided she wanted to step up her game so that she would be able to do the same in a few years. We explored many options available to her and her love of animals drove her decision. She decided on raising bunnies to breed and sell. We decided to start small, and dwarf bunnies are so cute so it seemed like a perfect fit. That is, until we realized that the pedigreed breed she had decided on was VERY hard to find. While this made for a perfect business opportunity, it is not an easy start when you need to locate both a doe and a buck (female and male rabbit) to begin your business.
This is how we both spent the last few days, scouring the internet and books for tips, tricks, advice, breeders and the like. I have learned more about rabbit reproduction and standards in the last few days than I ever cared to know! What I realized though is that this is a HUGE learning opportunity and my daughter is going to be getting a very healthy dose of biology through this project, complete with Punnett squares!
The research ended in an amazing turn of luck whereby a breeder we had located happened to be driving through a city close to us and she agreed to meet us with 2 bunnies we would be purchasing from her (this was a lifesaver as this breeder was almost 3.5 hours away in another state!). We are awaiting another breeder who will also be driving through a nearby city next weekend as she has a second buck we will be adding to the program.
To say that my daughter is overjoyed by this prospect is an understatement, she is in bunny heaven. I have to admit, these little guys are adorable and will certainly have no shortage of love and handling at this house!
We settled on a pedigreed breed called the Dwarf Hotot (pronounced Oh-toe). This is a papered breed that was a bit difficult to find and often has people traveling to different states to be able to find good breeding stock. The recognized standard of the breed is to have no markings on the pure white rabbit, save for a black or brown band around the eyes. My daughter's plan is to begin with 4H and hopefully some ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) shows with her bunnies and to breed them for sale.
We began the process and will be keeping you updated as this seems like a fun learning experience!
Here is my daughter when we arrived home with the bunnies (yes we had to use dog crates to transport them to their new homes, no laughing!)
So, here goes a new adventure in the life of an incidental farmgirl!
After giving these as gifts to rave reviews and requests for more, I am finally releasing our secret recipe, privately developed, tried and true master blend! This is what I use on my whole family for dry, chapped, and eczema flared skin. The Lemongrass lotion bar is a product that I LOVE! I first got my taste of a lotion bar when a friend sent me one while she was living in Alaska, I was hooked! We make it with Organic Beeswax, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Avacado Oil, Olive Oil and pure CPTG grade Lemongrass Essential oil.
It took awhile to develop the recipe and tweak it to be just right, but here it is....it is AMAZING! It is in a large twist up tube (about the diameter of 4 chapsticks) and your own body heat softens the lotion bar as it glides on your thirsty dry skin, relief I tell ya! I keep one in my purse, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen.
The other product I am offering is our lip butter, seriously glides on like butter! This is made with some of the same ingredients as the lotion bar but has vanilla and Lime added. And no worries if you lick your lips, all the ingredients are edible! We make this one with Organic Beeswax, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Avacado Oil, Olive Oil, Pure Vanilla Extract and pure CPTG grade Lime Essential oil.
For a limited time only I am offering FREE Shipping with the purchase of 2 lip butters OR 1 Lotion bar, just check out the "SHOP" tab at the top of my page, and enjoy!
I was given a book this Christmas that is chock full of stories from the Great Depression. One of the stories that stuck out for me as I was reading was one woman's recollections of her grandmother's flowers and saving flower seeds. If you have been around this blog during planting season you know I have a bit of an obsession with saving my garden seeds, but the flower seeds were something that was more my grandmother's forte. I can remember that ever since I began gardening, grandma would share little containers full of marigold seeds, she told me they were good for planting near garden plants, and I did. However, I was not very good at diligently keeping those seeds, grandma just supplied them year to year.
When I read this article from a woman who had these fond memories I began thinking. My grandmother didn't just save marigold seeds, she has saved whole plants. She has a fern that belonged to my great grandmother who has been gone to Heaven for more than 20 years now. That plant is still alive and flourishing. She had a Christmas cactus for years as well that was over 80 years going from starts to plants and back again.
Although the marigolds were never my favorite (I just don't care for the smell, but I do plant them in the garden because garden pests don't seem to like them either). One of the favorites that grandma has shared is the Touch Me Not flower.
Photo courtesy of Almost Eden Plants
The really need thing about these flowers is that when they go to seed and form that fuzzy pod you see above, if you touch the pod, it literally explodes with seeds that you can catch. My kids love the seed collecting on this one! I love the beautiful flowers that seem to be willing to set root and grow just about anywhere.
As I think and ponder on this one though, this is a link to my grandmother and will always be a reminder of her as I collect and save these seeds from year to year. I am reminded of her doing just the same and it is pretty neat to know just how far back some of these traditions go. I hope they carry on with my own children too.
Here is a picture of my flower seed stash for this year, I even have grandma's handwriting on the marigold seed lid. The "money" plant in the foreground also carries with it special memories. (I believe it is so named because the little papery disks resemble coins) My grandmother always had a dried arrangement of money seed stems on her front livingroom table when I was growing up. I was so happy to find her some starter seeds for the money plant a few years ago as she no longer had this plant growing.
Do you have any special memories of plants or flowers that have gone through generations in your family? Please share in the comments below!
Mid February and it is that time again. I had to go through my stash of saved seeds from the last few years and figure out what to get started, and what I may need to replenish. It was disheartening to realize that with the horribly wet conditions we had last summer I will have to replace quite a few of the breeds I had in my seed storage because the plants did not produce so there was no good seed to save. My good old standby tomato breed that I make all my sauces from was still available to me through the last few years of seed saving, so that is where I will start.
So, why the desire to try again with tomatoes? I just denounced that a few posts ago since growing tomato seeds without a greenhouse is about one of the most difficult gardening tasks I have tried. Well, I made a friend who invited me to use a small space in her greenhouse to grow my tomatoes. I was thrilled! I wanted to share my potting ratio and my starts, a few more pics in the coming weeks to share the progress too! Here is where I start, I use a plain old potting soil, a bag of vermiculite and a bag of perlite. These were mediums suggested to me a few years ago when I was so frustrated with the soil compaction that was occurring in my seed cells.
I am using a 4-1-1 ratio of 4 parts potting soil, 1 part perlite and 1 part vermiculite. I also bleached out my seed cell containers from last year as this will kill any pathogens or bacteria left over from previous plantings.
Here is the mix and I just swirl around by hand. (I am using an old lego tub but any plastic container would work)
I filled up the seed cells, being careful not to compact the soil, and then added 2 seeds per cell. I do this as insurance in case one of the seeds doesn't germinate, but I do admit that it is hard to pull the less healthy looking of the two seedlings if both emerge.
I have starts here for 50 amish past tomato plants. These are seeds that I originally purchased 3 years ago and have just been keeping the seeds from year to year to have in the garden. This is why I am so in favor of heirloom variety non-GMO seeds. With hybrid and GMO seeds, you cannot save seed from the plant and get the same plant. I figure this way I just need to save the seeds from year to year but don't have to purchase all my seeds all over again every year, this is a tremendous cost savings for me.
So, now it is the waiting game. I expect to see little seedlings emerging in the next 7 days. I will put these in my friend's greenhouse when I get the emergence and we shall see if I have solved the tomato problem!
My mom recently shared a book with me, another anthology of Backwoods Home magazine, one she very much enjoys, as do I. I was flipping through the pages when I came across an article about preparedness. Now, I am not talking about the "Doomsday Preppers" kind of preparedness that is glorified and made fun of in some of the television programs on the network channels, but instead good old fashioned common sense being prepared. Here was the headlining quote:
The article went on to talk about times of plagues, wars, depressions and the like and made some excellent points about how some survived, some even did a bit better than survive and others perished. What struck me about the article was that throughout the mentions of self sufficiency and preparing for the unknown (even a very large winter snowstorm falls into this category) there wasn't much talk in the way of how to make some of the things you need.
I got to thinking about some of the skills I have shared on this blog, many of which come from the "do it yourself" wisdom of previous generations. When I came to the section of the article that had some suggestions about items one might want to have on hands, I think I would do it a bit differently, and I hope my readers would have the same skills. Here is the list of some suggestions:
Again, this comes from my fascination of getting to the absolute essence of how do do something but rather than try to store 25lbs of laundry soap, I think I would keep 2 boxes of Borax, 2 Boxes of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 6 Bars of Fels Naptha. That would be enough to effectively make laundry soap for my family for at least 2 years and dare I say would likely take up a lot less space.
As for the 12 bars of hand soap, I am glad that I am learning the skill of making my own soap so that storage could easily be replenished, and if lye were not available, I even have books on the skills needed to fashion one's own lye for soap making. Then you only need water and a fat of some kind (lard, coconut oil, cooking oils, etc). Then it would be easy to also make pump hand soap as well.
The deodorant and toothpaste are also things that I have shared recipes for and could easily be made if one already had those ingredients on hand (as we do because we make a myriad of products with the same self care ingredients).
The sanitary napkins are something one could easily make as well and would not take up nearly as much space since they would be washable (tutorial here) if you are curious.
So all in all, though I don't disagree with some of the suggestions I would argue that if you know some of our grandparent's skills of making your own of something, you may do better than to try to stockpile too much.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share in the comments section below.
When I started cloth diapering I was so proud of myself. I was doing something that I had wanted to try for some time. However, it wasn't long before I realized that there was a problem. When you are cloth diapering you dump solid matter into the toilet and wash everything else. When I change a diaper (as any other mom I know) we fold all the wipes up into the diaper and toss in the trash...but, if you are cloth diapering and using disposable wipes this makes for a tricky situation. I have a wet bag to put my dirty/wet diaper in until it gets home and into the wash but I don't just readily have a trash bag handy for those dirty wipes, and you can't flush them. I was in a bit of a situation. So, I decided that if I was already going to be doing the diaper laundry, I might as well launder the wipes too.
Enter in a bit of ingenuity. I had some flannel in my sewing stash and I had some homemade liquid soap (recipe here) that I could easily dilute. I got busy.
I cut my cute flannel scraps into roughly 4 x 5 inch sections (I totally eyeballed this). NOTE: I SHOULD HAVE USED EITHER PINKING SHEARS OR SURGED UP THE SIDES BECAUSE THESE HAVE SINCE STARTED TO FRAY ON THE SIDES A BIT...At the time though I was in such a hurry to find a solution to my problem that I didn't consider the unraveling/fraying factor.
I then used a wide mouth pint sized mason jar. To the jar I added 1/8 cup distilled water and 1 Tablespoon of homemade liquid hand soap. I took my flannel scraps and wet them first then added them to the jar and gave it a healthy shake...voila! These work wonderfully, they are very soft on the skin and they do a great job with diaper clean up! win-win!
Though we haven't had nearly as bad a winter as usual, when it gets cold and the snow comes, having livestock of any kind becomes a labor of love.
Follow me outside and see what I mean...
If you didn't already know, animals actually need more water in the winter time than in the summer, or at least that is how it seems. We have to make 2-3 water runs a day to ensure the animals have fresh, unfrozen water and to check on them. What that means is hammering out the frozen buckets and refilling them with fresh water, only to repeat the process in a few hours. We have tried warming buckets and plates but they never seem to last very well, the only one that worked well was the horse trough that has a heating element in the bottom, that works great. The last time we used a heated waterer for the chickens it shorted out within a few months.
However, for now it is water buckets for the hunting dogs, and we can't keep a warmer in those because the dogs chew them to bits!
Busting out the ice with a rubber mallet is how we do it here. Then refill the buckets, only to have to go back outside and do it all again after lunch.
I always have my orange barn cat buddy when we are out doing this work, he likes to perch high up somewhere and watch. First the burn pile...
Back up to the barn for more feed and I see him on the tractor this time.
After the chores are done I follow hubby for a bit, he trains hunting dogs and is at it again, regardless of the temperatures outside. I stand amazed at his patience and desire to see the bird dogs do what he has trained them to do. He plants birds and then takes the dogs out into the field where they smell the bird and stop at a dead standstill pointing the bird for the hunter to come.
Once the upland game bird has been pointed the hunter shuffles his feet in the brush to kick up the hiding bird, it is at that moment he has to be ready to shoot, the dog is then ready to retrieve the bird and my hunter will prepare a tasty dinner.
Thank you for joining us for a moment, I can't wait until spring to share an outdoor day with you at our little piece of heaven.
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I have been on a search for years to find this, I can't wait to share with you the awesome little gem I came across (I am not getting paid by anyone for this post, this is just my own true desire to share what I love!)
As a homeschool family we print...A LOT! I print weekly schedules for the kids, we make posters and graphics for learning, I print out busy bag games for my little ones. And let's not even mention all the printing I do with recipes, chore charts, etc. You get the picture here. I have always been on the hunt for a printer whose ink didn't kill me in cost. For many of our printing needs we like color, but I have been strict to limit that as, let's face it, it can be quite costly! In the last 8 or so years I have gone through 3 printers. The first one went kaput (that is the technical term, I assure you), the second was a garage sale $10 purchase to get by, and now, I think I am in love.
In times past my black ink would cost between $12-$25 and my color was between $15-$30 depending on sales, the printer, etc. We were replacing black ink at least every other month and I tried to stretch the colored ink to only 4 times a year. I finally found a solution, it was at the hands of another blogger...let me explain.
I was trying to get more organized with a "mom" binder to house daily schedules, meal plans, shopping info, etc. I came across a website that had some of the cutest printables for doing that, but, when I realized that the printables were just download files that you print at home, I was turned off. Let's face it, that would kill me in ink! But wait, then I saw a little tip from another blogger at I heart planners, in the tip she mentions a service offered by hp ink. In the service you don't go to the store to get your ink...nope. No more hoping that Walmart has your brand, no more trying to save money by buying re-purposed cartridges that never seem to work properly, none of that. No more running out of ink in the middle of printing a report!!!
It sounded too good to be true, but I was curious. So here is how it works...newer HP printers, are eligible for this service. The service goes like this: You have a wireless HP printer that communicates online with HP instant ink services to monitor your ink levels. When you are running low, they simply send you more! I LOVE whoever thought of this! There is a monthly plan you choose from starting at $4.99 a month for the printing of 100 pages (black or color) and going up to $9.99 a month for 300 pages a month. That is still less than what I was spending since my black ink alone at $12 bimonthly also included a trip to the store. There is also a 3 month free trial period to see if you like the service.
The only problem was I didn't have an HP printer because my garage sale printer was a Lexmark, but as luck would have it, my Lexmark was on its last legs and I found a killer deal on Amazon so I purchased an all-in-one copy/scan wireless printer from HP for a whopping $69- free shipping too. (it was a scratch and dent box model). So, I set up the service, agreed to the $4.99 a month fee after my 3 month free trial and I was set. Here is where it got interesting, I started printing and about 3 weeks in I received an email from HP instant ink stating that my ink was running low...more was on the way! (there is no shipping fee involved). The ink arrived within 2 days, my original cartridges aren't even out of ink yet, but here are fresh ones waiting to be used at the slightest provocation of ink run-out. I think I'm in love.
Now, for the printer itself. Love it. It is a scanner, printer, copier. It prints in brilliant color (which I am no longer afraid to use because the ink just keeps showing up!) It is all digital and very easy to use and set up, which was a huge plus for me. I love that it isn't connected to anything but my desktop and laptop computers can both print to it, no problems. Yup, this is hands down the best printer I have had and with the added instant ink service from HP, it is highly recommended for all you homeschool families out there.
Now, here is where the disclosure comes in, if you go to the Amazon link and you end up making a purchase, I may get a small promotion from that, however, you can get this printer anywhere, not just there. But, know that when I researched it, Amazon was the cheapest place that beat all the others by $50 or more! LOVE THIS!
As for the instant ink services, you simply go to www.hpconnected.com to sign up.
Never underestimate the power of generational influence.
My mother has, for the last few years, taken time to have a "date night" with my older three children. The kids have looked forward to this time, over and over. They get to be alone with their grandparents, be treated specially, and spoiled just a bit too. During these dates my mother has arranged everything from a dinner out at a restaurant, to a quiet movie night at her home. She always prepares a special meal of my children's favorite things, and often dresses her table up to be quite eye pleasing as well. The children have gotten to work through a series of wholesome movies with good old fashioned lessons in them. This influence is wonderful for my children, and sometimes has been a much needed break for mom too.
Tonight was just such a night. We arrived at grandma's and she had the table completely set for a Valentine's dinner with her grandchildren. What is so so neat about this is just a few nights ago I was making a "Taco Tuesday" at our house and the kids wanted to make the table "beautiful like grandma's." I have to admit that during this season of life, convenience and practicality are far outweighing beauty. What I mean by that is that my mother has set the standard high, as her mother before her. She can put out a table spread that would put Martha Stewart to shame, complete with beautiful antique goblets and cherished goodies at each place setting. At this time in life I do not have matching glassware, as it too often gets broken, and the time it takes to put out a beautiful spread often seems too daunting as I can only think of the clean up involved afterwards.
However, at this time in life my children are learning this skill from the best teacher they could have, and she is doing an excellent job. So the taco Tuesday went from boring and mundane to having the appearance of one of the best Mexican Restaurants around, all thanks to the table dressings that my children fashioned, and all from the influence of their grandmother. I hope one day to have the time and energy to emulate my mother's skill of hospitality, she has a gift in that department. For now, we more often than not, utilize the practical and sometimes even forgo the serving ware for skillets just to avoid another dirtied dish, but my children are learning well.
Here is a photo I snuck of grandma's Valentine's spread. The food wasn't even out yet, and I assure you that it was plated to look eye pleasing and palette tempting too. The children always feel so grown up because grandma trusts them with the fine glassware, and note that each plate even has a special "Valentine" gift awaiting each of my children.
My children are so blessed to have such amazing women influencing their lives, be sure that yours also have time to spend with the grandparents in their lives, they will undoubtedly learn things that may stick with them forever, maybe they will even be able to teach us parents a thing or two!
We love apples around here, but it seems this time of year when the bushels I purchased in the fall are gone that it is rare to find good apples. Most of the apples showing up in stores have been overwintered too and they are starting to get mealy and often "go bad" quickly after purchase. So what to do when you buy a bag of apples and find that they are going bad on you and no longer please your palette for fresh eating? When life gives you bad apples...make desert! (how ya like my cliche' pun?)
My kids were all complaining about the bad apples so I decided to make them a surprise desert, fried apples. I do things like this with the mindset of older generations and not our wasteful current generation. Most would toss the apples, feed them to animals or just be disgusted...not me. Here were the apples, all were slightly soft to the touch and obviously there were bad spots too.
But just look what happens when you cut the bad spots off, and don't you dare throw out the bad spots, they go in the compost bin!
Once they are all cut I just sprinkle them with some sugar and cinnamon and then start cooking them in a tablespoon or two of butter.
I didn't get a picture of the finished product, it was devoured too quickly! Just think like your grandparents would have when you see overripe fruit, they didn't waste anything, we sure could learn a lot from them!
What things have you re-purposed into edible delectables?
We go through a lot of hand soap around here. At the sale price of $1 a pump for store bought it was high time to come up with an alternative. I am continuing to perfect this one but I had a few random bars of soap lying around and I decided to give it a whirl with what I had at my disposal. I know that some people only use pure castile soap for this but I went with what I had, and it worked great.
I thought about how I make my homemade laundry soap (recipe here) and wondered why I couldn't just make some hand soap with the same method of grating a bar of soap and adding water over heat until it was dissolved. It worked! It is definitely runnier than store bought but the price break down is phenomenal. This bar of Dove soap was $1 and it made 3 quarts of liquid soap. Being that a normal store bought dispenser type soap is $1 for 8oz and I got 96 oz out of $1 bar of soap that makes my 8 ounces of hand soap cost .08 cents!!!
What is my recipe? it's simple, I took 1 bar of soap (any kind would do, you can use a bar of castile, your favorite bar of homemade soap or any other kind you choose) and 3 quarts of distilled water. (You can use tap water but boil it first and let it cool)
I shredded the bar of soap with my cheese grater (no worries folks, its just soap, it washes off). Then I added the water and shredded soap flakes to a pot and heated it over medium until all the soap flakes were dissolved.
After it cooled I simply refill my bathroom soap pumps and keep the remainder in mason jars in my laundry room for soap refills! That was simple.
Do you have a favorite recipe for home made liquid hand soap? Feel free to link up or comment below.
In my ever present need to occupy the minds of two very curious little boys, I sometimes scour the internet for resources to aid the endeavor of enhancing their little minds beyond the realm of Curious George and Sid the Science Kid.
I am always on the lookout for paths that will lead me toward the never ending fulfillment of occupying these little minds. I am here today to share a few of the amazing things that are working for us (on good days).
First and foremost, one of the most useful gifts I received this Christmas was a laminator. As a homeschooling mom, I think that this is an invaluable tool (right along with my paper cutter). I used both of these tools to create a few really fun busy bags that have not only been fun but have also been helping us do "preschool" and learn numbers and letters.
Our Favorite though is hands down, the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" printable. We read the story first (it is currently a favorite at our house) and after I had made the printable cards we used chocolate chips to decorate our cookies and learn numbers.
HERE is that link. (photo courtesy of playdough to plato)
We are also loving the ice cream matching game, it is really helping with letter recognition.
Here is the free printable for that one.
The clothespin letter match is a favorite, I love that it also helps with fine motor skills, my little one loves to pinch them.
That is also from playdough to plato. Love that blog! HERE is the link to that free printable.
For just fun, something that your little can do without any guidance at all, I made this busy bag awhile ago and it is still a hit.
I store all of these little printables (after laminating them of course) into sandwich baggies and then we will randomly pick one or two bags out to "play" a game. On good days, these are a huge help. This is also something that an older sibling can do with the younger ones while I am helping another child learn a concept.
Do you have a favorite busy bag link to share?
I am a fan of Costco, ever since one went in near my previously beloved Sam's club, I checked it out and fell in love. In my opinion, their prices are very comparable to Sam's but their offerings are much more along the lines of what I usually feed my family. There are a variety of organic options, the stores are seemingly larger, and the products more diverse. I shop at Costco monthly and drop a pretty hefty amount of my grocery budget there, buying in bulk.
One of the things I buy that I can streeeeetch my dollar really far on, the Rotisserie Chicken. I have to say I much prefer my homegrown and processed hens, but, I am totally out of those right now so here comes my budget conscious self to the rescue!
Out of pocket I spend $9.98 for the two chickens, and I head home with a smile that tonight's dinner for my family of 7 is going to be SUPER easy!
Meal #1- Whole Roasted Chicken & sides (usually potatoes and salad)
That went pretty well, and there is still a breast left over! (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings and a breast were devoured by my clan). I take the leftover breast meat and chop it up finely, that is part of tomorrow's meal.
The second chicken, the one that didn't have a date with my dinner table, was brought home from Costco and immediately shredded from the bone and into a large ziplock freezer bag. I find that doing this right away is so much easier as once the chicken is refrigerated it is so much more difficult to shred the meat (oh and I also pull the skin off, not using it in my shredded meat). Lately I have also been tossing in a can of fire roasted tomatoes and 1 tsp curry and 1 tsp cumin in with the chicken. I then use this as a base in my Mexican chicken and rice soup as well as in my Taquitos.
It is usually the night I come home from Costco after dinner and all that chicken shredding that I take the two chicken carcasses, and any remaining bits and start making my chicken stock for soup (post here with pictures) I just put a large pot on the stove, fill it with water, salt, pepper and onions and let it cook for 24-48 hours. I usually use up the stock so quickly that freezing it is the best option for our family, I also end up with about a gallon's worth of stock from two chicken carcasses, this translates into 4 large quart jars that I am able to line my freezer door with.
Meal #2- Chicken Salad Lunch
We sometimes have a light lunch here, crackers and chicken salad with sides of veggies and fruit are perfect. Enter in the chicken salad. If stretched it can make enough for the kids, if not a large sandwich for hubby and a side for me.
Meal #3- Mexican Chicken and Rice soup.
This one is quick and easy.
I have the broth from the gallon of the stuff I made (I only freeze about three of the quart jars and keep the fourth in my fridge for just such a meal). So I start by adding the broth to a large stock pot, I then add about 1 cup of rice and 1 1/2 cups of my shredded chicken and tomato mixture to the pot, season with some salt and pepper and bring to a boil before turning to a simmer, it is done when the rice is no longer crunchy.
Meal #4- Mexican Taquitos
I will have to post a step by step tutorial on this recipe soon as this has become a HUGE fan favorite at my house. We either roll the tortillas up like you see in the picture and eat them with a side of mexican rice (homemade of course) or we fry them flat and layer with refried beans, rice and the chicken mixture.
Meal #5- More Soup
I either make a potato soup with my chicken broth or some other kind of vegetable soup with it, I still have enough broth to make soup 1-2 more times from the broth I garnered from those two rotisserie chickens.
There you have it between 5-7 different meals/lunches all from 2 Rotisserie chickens. If you are not a family of 7 like we are I am sure you could stretch these even further. If you prefer to avoid the seasonings in the Rotisserie chickens for health reasons you can always roast your own as whole chickens cost less per pound then store bought. This is one of my answers to "Fast food" instead of eating out, this is how we can make quick and easy meals.
Any other ways you use leftovers? Please comment and share below!
When we moved into our little country home a few years ago it was mid March. We moved amidst freezing temperatures and just about 3 days after we moved all our belongings we were hit with a snowstorm. At this point we didn't have any equipment for plowing snow from our 150 foot long drive and my husband was sleeping after working an overnight shift, I was planning on the children and I surprising him and shoveling as he had to return to work in a matter of hours. It wasn't a few moments after looking outside that I heard a strange noise and I again glanced outside to see my new neighbor (I had only briefly met when looking at the home) plowing our driveway.
I was so taken aback and thankful that my husband would wake to a freshly plowed drive and I wouldn't have to take the kids out to do the chore. That was my indoctrination into how "old fashioned or country" neighbors were supposed to behave. Call it southern hospitality far removed (as we are not in the south) but whatever it was, I wanted to be that!
This was how I repaid my thanks for the plowing job. I stepped right into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of homemade bread. That evening I promptly trudged through the snow between our homes and greeted my new neighbors. This isn't just a "thank you" gesture though, this is an "I'm thinking of you, and you are worth my time." This is not something that needs to only be practiced living outside of the city, you can do this kind gesture to any neighbor, apartment, townhouse, or home. It could be something as small as a batch of cookies, a slice of pie, or other creative gesture. Get to know those who live around you, if you haven't already.
A Handwritten note
At Christmas, a holiday, a thank-you, or just because. You can stick it in their mailbox, you can drop it at the door. Whatever you choose, just let them know you are thinking about them. I believe with all my being that if we all were a little more in tune with those around us there wouldn't be so many lonely people out there.
A Wave & Hello
This seems so simple to me, you see someone, you wave. I have noticed though that this is not always the case and that often people make more of an effort to look away and avoid eye contact than to just say "hello" and smile. We have been very blessed and we have always had fantastic relationships with the neighbors we have lived near. I wonder if it can be in part attributed to just speaking to another human being!
A Kind Gesture
Maybe you are the one with the snow shovel. Maybe you have a rake. Maybe you notice that the neighbor's trashcan has been knocked over and spilled or that the trash collector has left it in the middle of the road. It is amazing how simple a gesture can open the door. We have a neighbor down the road a ways who noticed that we had chickens, she stopped once when she was overloaded with boxes of strawberries that were going bad and asked if we would like them for our chickens.
Lend and Borrow with interest
Let me clarify this one. It may be inevitable when you live next to someone you become aquainted with that sometimes you may borrow something. It could be a cup of sugar, a hammer, a bale of hay, whatever. When you borrow something return it with "interest." If you borrow a cup of sugar, return a bag of sugar. If you borrow a hammer, leave a nice note or a pack of nails. If you borrow a bale of hay, return 2. You get the picture here. We are so blessed that we, and our neighbors have an "open" barn policy between the two of us. We swap tools, hay, whatever needs to be and there is neither one of us who borrows more than the other. If someone breaks something, it is replaced and if something is needed, it is borrowed and returned in better condition than when it was borrowed.
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
― C.S. Lewis
(I recently did a series on 30 days to more natural living and in it, a few of the days were devoted to making foods from scratch. As in, no boxed recipes allowed. If I think back to my own transformation to from scratch cooking, brownies were the first thing I decided I would no longer buy in a box. I discovered that I only needed items I already had on hand to make delicious brownies, and they tasted amazing to boot! I know this may sound funny to some, but really, there was a time when almost all the things I bought were convenience type, boxed foods. Thankfully that was a long time ago and I have made major progress since then making almost everything from scratch at this point.
I have to say that as I began this journey, I found that old cookbooks became my friends, the older the better, I love anything prior to about 1970 cookbooks and when I can get my hands on more antiquated ones, I smile. I even have one that is so old it talks about using wet yeast lumps in your bread...I'm not sure you can even buy that any longer.
Auctions and garage sales are also some of my favorite places to locate these gems.
So, what do I make from scratch? Some of our family's favorites are:
Egg Noodles (Grandpa's old family recipe)
How about you? Do you have a favorite that you make instead of buy? Care to share or link up to your favorite recipe in the comments below.
Wife to a wonderful husband, Daughter of the King, Mother of 6 (one with an xtra chromosome), and an incidental farm girl.