I have to admit now that the walls are all one color, it pales in comparison to their creativity!
When we moved into our home the color scheme was very pleasing to the eye with lots of nuetral tones and a warm feeling, however, there were a few rooms where creative liberties had been taken. Our dining room was just such a room and though I failed to take a before picture the chair rail was burgandy, the lower part of the wall was forest green and the top was an off white. So while changing the scheme of things to an all over color my girls asked if they could make a mural since I would be painting over the wall anyway, so here is their diligent art work!
I have to admit now that the walls are all one color, it pales in comparison to their creativity!
This Year's GardenOrganic Gardening...I am on a mission to see if growing it myself from seed is cost effective, and worth the time and effort. Here is the start:
I went online and ordered all the seed catalogs I could from heirloom seed companies. I'm kinda cheap, no thrifty, no economical...well anyways. I ordered free catalogs from only companies with hierloom varieties because frankly I wanted to have breeds of vegetables and plants that I could save seed from and start my garden again next year without the costly trip to a greenhouse. In the past the initial cost of purchasing plants for my garden has run anywhere from $80-$120 to put in a large garden.
Surely I can do it cheaper... I mean more economical than that starting plants from seed right? I mean back in grandma's day they saved the seed from one harvest to the next and that is how they began thier gardens the following year. Here I go...
I ordered my catalogs from:
Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds,
Territorial Seed , Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Annie's Heirloom Seeds.
When I actually placed my orders I ordered from Annie's Heirloom Seeds and Seed Saver's exchange. I started this process back in Februrary 2014 and for once I started a garden journal. Something I HIGHLY recommend!
After planting the seeds in s couple of 50 cell planters I just had to wait... I learned that tomatillo seeds take a really long time to germinate (sprout out of the soil) and that I needed a better medium as dirt...not the bagged top soil I had purchased at the local lumber store. It kinda got rock hard. Overall I had a few setbacks as I accidentally left my tomato seedlings out overnight on the deck (a night in April that dipped into the upper 30's) whoops. And my peppers were looking pretty pitiful. But, I am nothing if not determined once I set my mind to something. So I forged ahead...and purchased several healthier tomato plants (same heirloom breeds) from a local plant sale. I then continued some extra TLC with my peppers and made a mental note to use a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 mix of potting soil, vermiculite, and pearlite for my seeds next year.
Part 3 was planting in the ground. Grandma always says don't plant before mother's day but the farmer's almanac disagreed with grandma this year and said that the last frost date would likely be May 5, I'm taking my chances! So out went the plants, little by litte with the lettuce, cabbage, peas,carrots and beans first.
The final tallies are in! Here is how I saved my family over $757 with that Backyard garden!!!
Sounds a bit unbelievable right? I actually think my figure is extremely conservative and that it could be a higher savings…much higher…but, let me explain first. I have always known that having a garden saves my family money; I mean we head out back for fresh salad, salsa, beans, etc. I like to avoid pesticides and chemicals so I just don’t use them on my garden and therefore I only employ all organic methods. But to be truthful it was just a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment before this year. This year, I decided, I was going to set out to see just what I was saving…and here is the final tally.
I decided to start my garden from seed inside the house. I do not have a greenhouse yet…hubby are you reading this??? I also do not have any fancy grow lights or other things, I simply had some plastic containers saved from previous years purchasing plants (in a pinch Styrofoam cups work just fine) and I just used a mix of soil and vermiculite (that white beady stuff that comes in potted plants you buy at a store) and followed the directions to start the seeds which I kept in the laundry room. (It was warm in there)
The reason I opted to do my garden this way, rather than just purchasing my plants is that I am a very “back to grass roots” kinda gal. What I mean is, back in my great grandparents’ day you didn’t just run down the street to the farmers’ market and purchase all your plants. You grew them. From seeds you saved the previous year…ah ha! Another way to save money! (Did I mention I am frugal?) So, I knew that if I was really going to continue to see a savings, I would need to be able to propagate my garden year after year without spending so much. The funny thing is that I usually would spend around $100 on plants anyway, but this way I was able to purchase all open pollinated heirloom seeds (the kind that will grow again…i.e. not hybrids) that I will save from the plants to start my garden again next year for….dare I say…free?
My efforts were not without trial and error. I killed 20 plus tomato seedlings by accidentally leaving them outside overnight in early May (it dipped to freezing that night…oops!) and, I did have to re-purchase full size plant versions of a few of my failings, but that is all included in my total out of pocket.
So, once the garden was in…I just waited. There is effort involved but by employing a method called “Back to Eden Gardening” (Google the free documentary) there were very few weeds to deal with, so it was pretty enjoyable.
When my first harvests came in early June I began weighing everything. Every time I harvested anything from the garden, I weighed what I had, logged the type of produce and weight, and kept a tally. I did this for the whole season from June until the last few stragglers mid October. I harvested carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, tomatillos, green beans, pinto beans, cabbage, peas, lima beans, potatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, and about 10 different kinds of peppers. I canned or froze all of it and have well over 220 quart jars of food put up for our family of 7.
Now, this is where the savings really came in. If I were to go to the store and buy either canned or fresh all organic produce…do you have any idea how much I would have to spend to garner over 432 pounds of organic produce? I estimated extremely conservatively and averaged $2 a pound for organic produce prices but I have never seen where you could buy organic tomatoes for less than about $2.99 a pound, or organic melons, potatoes and my other crops all that cheaply either.
Before someone might say, “but I don’t have lots of land for a garden,” I would submit that you don’t have to. I only moved the “country” 18 months ago and my garden is 15 x 40 with some semi truck tires lining the perimeter to act as small raised beds. I also tucked a few pepper plants in with my flower beds…this is doable even in suburbia.
So for you numbers nerds (I mean that term endearingly) here is how it went down:
$131.82 was the cost to purchase my supplies and seeds
$20.00 was the cost to replace the plants I killed (there were more than the tomatoes)
Total is $151.82 out of pocket.
I harvested 432.15 pounds of fresh organic produce from the garden. I sold 2 baskets of mixed fresh produce to test the market for possibly making a bigger garden and making this a business next year. Basket #1 was 20lbs that I sold for $30 and basket #2 was 10lbs which I sold for $15 therefore re-cooping $45 from my out of pocket cost. My out of pocket drops to $106.82. I multiplied my 432 lbs of produce by an average cost of $2 per pound if I purchased all that produce as fresh organic and my total would have been in the market of $864. Taking that $864 and subtracting my $106.82…I saved at least $757.18!!!
Side note, I saved seeds from everything which is not nearly as hard as one might think…My garden next year is going in without any out of pocket cost now… Can’t wait to see totals for 2015! This is a do-able money saver.
The garden is winding down and frankly looking a bit pitiful at this point. We are beginning to shell out the pole beans I left to dry for seed saving. My always eager to help toddler joined me on this as he loved stomping on the bag of dried beans to help break open the pods.
I leave the pods on the vine until they are very crunchy, not leathery anymore. I have read that this allows the bean to really absorb all of the plant nutrients available to it before hibernating as a seed. Of course you can always dry out the bean and then re-hydrate as you would soak beans for soups too, If I have an abundance more than what I will plant next year I may try this too.
This particular crop is kind of special as we did not harvest it for green bean eating this year but rather left the entire row alone for seed saving. This is because my husband's grandmother has helped save and has passed this particular bean down now through 3 generations and it is an old heirloom variety that though she cannot recall the name of she swears you cannot find any longer. Anyway, hubby likes the taste so we put out a crop of the last of the seeds to garner more seeds as grandma was out of seeds too. It seems the last 2-3 years has not been good for this bean and the seed was fast becoming unavailable to us as grandma had no more to share for next year's planting either.
After stomping on the bag of bean pods we shelled what was not already broken open and freed the seeds. (He thought this was quite fun!)
Here is the start of our beans, we ended up with around 3 cups of beans, those will dry out on a cookie sheet for a week or so more until the beans themselves are rock hard. Then I will store them in a ziplock or other airtight container until next year's planting.
What is Kefir anyway??? Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is high in good bacteria and probiotics. It is basically like a super hopped up version of what you get when you consume yogurt, but way better. I am new to this whole Kefir thing, all because I asked a friend what in the world she was doing with milk sitting out on her counter. Her reply? Making Kefir, want to try a smoothie? I did and I was hooked! Ever since I have been making Kefir smoothies every day and the kids love it too. Plus, I really think it does wonders for a person's digestive tract, all that good probiotic stuff.
My friend was so gracious as to share some of her Kefir grains with me and tell me what to do, so this is her wisdom not mine originally. Kefir grains are not really grains at all, they look like cottage cheese, don't really smell, and are essential to making Kefir. From everything I have read you cannot make your own you actually have to get a start from someone who has Kefir grains and then you are set as long as you keep feeding your Kefir.
This is what the grains look like, cottage cheesy right? Doesn't taste like cottage cheese at all though.
My friend started me out with a mason jar just like this. This is about how it looked the day she gave it to me. Just looked like milk in a jar. You can secure a paper towel on the top of the jar by either a mason jar ring or a rubber band but the idea is that you want the Kefir to be able to kinda breathe without danger of something falling into your jar. I was told to just leave it alone for 24 hours sitting out on the counter in my kitchen, which I did.
The next morning when I woke the substance in the jar looked like this.
Looks kinda funky huh? It doesn't smell as I was wondering if my kitchen was going to take on a certain spoiled milk smell, it didn't. So, then I stir to incorporate the watery and chunky masses and then strain to keep the Kefir grains while using the Kefir milk in that every yummy smoothie!
My friend (ingenious as she is) used a grain sprouting lid as a strainer. Again, brilliant because my first attempt at straining out the grains resulted in a whole lot of kefir milk all over my counter. Wanna know how cool my friend is? She then heard that story and gave me her own sprouting lid to use!
I used the strainer type lid to pour the thickened Kefir milk into my blender to make a delicious smoothie (I am now addicted). Then I put the Kefir grains into a small plastic bowl while I washed out the mason jar to start the process all over again.
For the large mason jar I am using (quart jar) it takes about 2 T of Kefir grains to get the probiotic thing going and turn it into Kefir milk. I am passing some grains to a friend so I filled a pint jar with 1 T of Kefir grains to share with her. Kefir does grow so sharing with friends is fantastic or you can just keep proliferating your Kefir milk. You can also mix the grains into your smoothie or just part them out and get rid of them.
Here is my clean jar with my grains plopped back in. Then it is so simple, just add milk to the top of the jar, cover with a paper towel secured by a lid band or rubberband. Then I just leave this sit on the counter for 24 hours until my next batch of Kefir milk is ready for another super-probiotic awesome smoothie.
This mornings batch for breakfast. We added frozen blueberries, frozen peaches, and some honey to sweeten things up a bit.
My basil is starting to wind down now and it is time to start thinking about next year's harvest. Because I planted basil at different intervals I have some going to seed and a few plants left that are still producing leaves for me.
Here you can see the flowers starting to form on the head of the basil, they are a pretty shade of lavender but I snapped this shot a bit too late as most of the flowers are already gone. With many plants that do not produce an actual vegetable they flower before going to seed, examples are cilantro, basil, and lettuce.
Once the flowering is done the stalks dry out and are ready to be harvested for seed.
I took these inside to finish drying them before harvesting my basil seeds for next year's garden. And all that work for little seeds the size of pin heads.
We are gearing up for our homeschool year to start so I thought this an appropriate topic. Let me start by saying that I NEVER had planned on homeschooling my children. No really, it was not in my plan. My oldest daughter and I laugh now because she had actually come to me when she was in 3rd grade and asked me to homeschool her. Do you know what my answer was back then? NO! I told my daughter that I had to work and could not homeschool her and that she probably really wouldn't like it anyway. Hmmm. Sounds much different then how we do things now.
Why did we make the switch? Most families that I knew who homeschooled just always knew that was what they wanted. Not me. One of my friends smirks when she reminds me that I actually told her (she homeschools) that there was NO WAY I could ever homeschool, I would probably die if I had to spend all day teaching my kids, I mean who has that kind of patience? But, when we came to the place where I had a child about to enter into middle school and who wasn't getting some of her academic needs met, not to mention that our family's moral values were in direct conflict with what was starting to happen in many peer groups, we decided we needed something different.
To be perfectly honest, though hubby and I knew we wanted something different, homeschooling was still not on MY radar. It was definately God's leading that caused us to make that choice. I know many people say that they know God has led them to do something but I know this to be true for our family because I resisted the calling for so long before I finally relented to what he was calling us to do. In other words, it was not my idea. That being said, I love it. I believe that my kids do most days too.
So, why do we homeschool? We homeschool because it affords the children we have to learn at their own pace. I have some who excel in certain areas and others who need a bit more work, but no teacher will be more invested in their learning and success than I will. No single teacher will read book after book on learning styles and teaching mannerisms to figure out what is the best approach to take with each of my children. This is not to say that teachers would not like to do that if they had the time, but the reality is that a teacher has a class of anywhere between 15-30 students. With that kind of class size you cannot tailor each lesson to each child's most optimium learning style. We also choose to homeschool from textbook curriculum, not computer based online school. I am that mom who still likes to limit media time.
We homeschool because we can be sure that our children are learning what we feel is important. When we learn history, we do not learn a watered down version that is politically correct. We read and learn about what really happened. We also can allow our children to learn concepts not taught in public schools any longer, like the simple fact that our country was founded upon Christian prinicpals and with Christian ideals. We can pause and go deeper into a subject if it really perks our children's interests. We can spend several days doing science experiements and art projects that may be too costly for a class to do but we have the time and resources to do.
We can do field trips to see and touch places rather than just reading about them in books. The most ironic thing about homeschooling is that I am learning just as much and more than my children are. And I already hold a bachelors degree! I found that history doesn't have to be boring, Math does not have to be totally incomprehensible, and life sciences can be really fun!
There are other things that were not initally reasons for homeschooling but are added perks. My children are very close. My teenager actually likes being around her siblings most days. My younger children play together and my toddler is included in everything. This benefits many areas. If my older children were in school 6 hours a day they would not have the relationship they do with their younger siblings because they just would not be around as much. Our family would not be as close because we would all be doing our own things and I would not be as in tune to what my children are learning and where they excel, and struggle as when I am the one responsible for teaching them. My children in turn are learning through life experiences. I remember taking a class in high school about child development and carrying around an egg to learn about responsibility and child care. My children can experience this every day hands on. The children learn cooking, budgeting, household management and responsibility through just daily living. We also incorporate learning into our everyday lives in such a way that it is seamless. We don't always need a textbook as we treat almost every opportunity as a learning experience.
There are challenges to homeschooling, not every day is a great day and I do not always do everything right. However, no teacher will be as invested in my children's success as I am, ever. No other teacher knows every aspect of my children's character, temperment and personality like I do, and no other teacher loves my children as much as I do.
What about the future? What about college? Am I worried my children will not get as good of an education at home as they would if I sent them to school? At first I was, but no longer. Standardized testing has shown that my children are excelling and their passion for and love of learning has demonstrated that we are on the right track. (Especially since this was not the case prior to our decision to homeschool) My oldest is currently enrolled in a community college earning dual credit (high school and college) for math classes she is taking. All of my children are excited about starting school and what kinds of things we are going to do/learn this year. I'd say that is a good start!
Things have been a bit busy around here lately and have caused me to be a bit neglectful of my blog. I am making it a point to try to get back in the swing of things this week. We have in the last week returned from our visit to Michigan, started gearing up for school, canned tomatoes and started sports seasons. This mama has been a busy one! I hope to have improved in getting back on track with my posts though...please comment if there are any areas you would like to see a post on as it relates to farm life, gardening, homeschooling or big families.
Our newest batch of farm kittens are growing so quickly that even mama kitty seems to be at a loss. They are at a very cute stage now where they are just beginning to explore and try to crawl from their box...I think this makes mama kitty nervous.
Here is something funny that my oldest daughter noticed...one of our kittens has an exclamation point on its back. We decided to name it YIKES!
The children enjoy watching the little kittens grow and learn to become independent. They are so fun to play with and snuggle that each of the children usually picks a favorite of
My grandmother always used to make gifts for her girls and for others. Grandma is excellent at sewing and though she does not sew as much these days, she has quite a legacy. Grandma sewed Barbie clothes as gifts and let me just say that her talents were not to be rivaled. I saw a set of Barbie clothes that my grandmother had sewn years ago and it was beautiful, skirt, jacket, blouse, and all the trimmings...even Mattel could not have done it as well. Grandma has made many other things as well, there was the year she made small family cookbooks for all of us with all of her favorite recipes. She has always enjoyed making gifts for others though that may have started out of necessity and lack of funds years ago, she still enjoys handmade gifts to this day because of the love and thought that goes into each gift. I think grandma believes (and I have come to as well) that when someone gives you a handmade gift, it usually requires much more effort than a store bought one.
I have made many things over the years for my girls as well. When they were younger and into dolls I sewed matching dresses for them and thier dolls as the price tag for the store bought American Girl versions were a little out of reach. I will often include a handmade gift in birthday and holiday giving as my family knows that I was thinking exclusively of them and gave my time to create or work on something that I thought they would enjoy.
This tradition has also passed to my children who love to make things for one and other. My eldest daughter made me a beautiful scarf last year for Christmas and my younger daughter and eldest son love to make me jewelry. Today is one of my daughter's birthdays and her older sister decided to make her a gift, a bendy doll that she is very skilled at making. She worked very diligently at this gift and spent a lot of time working on the detail. I think grandma would be proud! This is a picture of the Little Red Riding Hood Doll. Happy Birthday Little Sister!
Last weekend we had the opportunity to make an impromptu visit with some friends to Michigan. Between the both of our families we have 10 children, talk about a wild and crazy trip! When we went to the farmer's market we kinda looked like a daycare, 10 children of varying ages flanked by adults on both ends of the line, funny sight. We had so much fun and our children are all almost the same ages too so everyone has a buddy.
We had planned on going to a U-pick blueberry farm but they were all closed so we improvised and picked wild blueberries, that was an adventure!
We have a new name for our toddler, he will hence forth be nicknamed "Dynamite" his counterpart in our friend's family should be dubbed "Matches" as the two together are quite a spectacle! Here is Dynamite ready with a hat to keep the sun from his eyes. The day was beautiful just cresting the upper 70's and blueberries in the wild grow in both full sun and partial shade so picking them was pleasant and not too hot.
Wild blueberries are funny things...you cannot see them if you look down from above, you actually have to look under the leaves to see them which makes it perfect for littles. Also, no thorns...a huge plus!
I am always amazed by how sandy the soil is in Michigan, it reminds me of some of the areas we have visited in Florida. I am amazed that anything grows there, but it does and the farmer's markets abound with goodies.
So, when it was all said and done, this was what was left (Matches and Dynamite ate all of their haul) we made smoothies and they were delicious!
Our family decided to take an impromtu trip to Michigan to visit friends so I was away from the garden for 4 days. (I will be posting the pictures of our wild blueberry picking and some of the fun we had soon). But, what you see here is the garden bounty upon my return, minus the very large cantelope that I was sure would be ready when we got home...but, some large critter thought it too irresistible and ate it! That’s right, there were large bites out of my prize cantaloupe and of course the critter picked the most ripe and largest melon I had! Grrrr.
However, this bounty still weighed in at 46.4 pounds. Yes, you read that right. Most of the large tomatoes were over 1 pound a piece! Tomorrow is my farm fresh recipe day and I think I will share how to make "sun" dried tomatoes in the oven.
I love sun-dried tomatoes. I love them on pizza, in pasta, on bread. However, they are very pricy to purchase at the store so several years ago I started making my own sun-dried tomatoes. The problem is that if you truly try to dry them in the sun you have to deal with bugs...yuck. So drying them in the oven keeps things more sanitary and I believe yields the same taste.
I have found that the most important thing is to pick the right breed of tomato. While any tomato can be used, the typical tomato used (and the type that is used in store bought varieties of sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil) is the Roma or Amish paste. I have always grown Roma tomatoes but this year tried the Amish Paste tomato as well. Below you see a mix of the two varieties, very similar in look but the Romas are more perfectly cylindrical.
The main difference that I have found is what is inside when you slice open the Amish Paste. There is very little tomato pulp or wetness as compared to the Roma...why is this a big deal? Because the less moisture there is the more quickly the tomato will dry out for you. Also, I really like these tomatoes for making pasta sauce as it dramatically reduces the time it takes to reduce the sauce from watery to pulpy.
So after washing and slicing I laid all of the tomatoes on a baking rack (the kind you cool cookies on) and then placed it on a cookie sheet. In hindsight I probably would not use the baking rack as for some reason it seemed to take longer for the tomatoes to dry out when they were not directly touching the pan.
I put the tomatoes in the oven at 200 degrees overnight and at about the 15 hour mark (after turning them over once) I had "sun" dried tomatoes!
Just look at this thing!!! It weighed in at 1 lb 3oz. I love finding random fun things in my garden like monster tomatoes, curly beans and strange little bugs (as long as they are not eating my plants!)
I have had some version of a baby sling for the last 9 years and through the last 3 children. It is just such an easy way to keep them close (think of those days you have when they just fuss to be held...especially while teething). It is nice to be able to hold them while still being able to get things done. I am not a fan of the buckle and straps kind of carriers as they just seem to complicated and time consuming, that and my babies always like to be held close. The other benefit of this type of carrier is that it doubles as a nursing cover, a blankie, and a changing pad when in dire need.
I had a friend come over who is also a die-hard baby-wearer and she showed me a few simple things I had been doing incorrectly...wow, what a difference her few tips made! (no more back pain) I became such a fan of the sling that I wanted a few more so that I could always have one handy. But, they are way expensive to buy. I have one at home and wanted to have one to leave in the car and one for the diaper bag too. Thus began my obsession... After learning some great steps on how to make one myself I decided I also wanted to dye it pretty. Well, that did not go as planned. What you see here was actually supposed to be a very dark dye job that would gradually go from burgundy to plum with no white showing. Yeah...didn't work so well and I also have dye spots that were quite irritating. However, I decided (much at hubby's prompting) to still try to make my own sling from the material and...I love it!
This is wee one's serious face...
Now that I have successfully made a ring sling I want to try again to get the dye job more like what I had envisioned, then by the third try I hope to have it perfected enough to make baby gifts...every mama should have one of these!!! I will post a tutorial once I do another dye job and sew another.
The first year we moved to our farm I felt very blessed to have found a large patch of wild blackberries growing on our property. This was extra wonderful because in the whirlwind of moving and learning we were then expecting baby #5, I planted my garden in a very soggy location. Last year's garden failed miserably so the only food I was able to put up that year was berries and some beans and tomatoes that good friends had shared with me.
This was a photo taken last year (I was expecting!) when our berries were quite abundant! Being such a good year last year I made pies, jam, cobblers and froze quart after quart of berries. This year, there are some but just enough to enjoy fresh eating and maybe a jar or two of treasured jam.
My grandma tells stories of berry picking as a child and how they would bundle up (no, not because you pick berries in the cold) in the wicked summer heat to avoid those vicious thorns. Here is an excerpt from one of grandma's stories:
We always looked forward to berry picking time. The raspberries ripen first. There were never as many raspberries as there were blackberries. These berries grew wild in our woods. Mother made jam from the berries. We liked jelly better but mother said it took more berries for the jelly then the jam. When we were younger, mother always went berry picking with us. We would dress in long pants, long sleeved shirts and then put a piar of long socks on our arms to protect ourselves from the berry bushes. We cut out places for our fingers i the bottom of the socks. Mother would go ahead into the thick bushes and make a path. She would pick the berries that were high and we picked the lower berries. If it was a good year for berries, we sometimes had extra to sell.
I was thinking about this story just the other day when I had my 8 year old and 10 year old out picking berries with me. We took the 4-wheeler and I went ahead in the high grass and bushes to cut a path behind for the kids to follow. We were all dressed in our carhartt bib overalls, boots and long sleeves (what a sight!) If you like blackberries and have never picked wild ones, you should, just to better appreciate the effort that goes in to just 1 quart of berries! I love some of these connections I share with my grandmother, and my mother who also tells stories of berry picking when she was young. Though in my youth I was raised in the city and did not become a farm girl until just a year ago...(read story here), I think it has always been in my blood.
These were my two garden helpers yesterday morning as we picked another round of tomatoes for some more delicious roasted tomato spaghetti sauce. My 2 1/2 year old still likes to pick them a little yellow/green so I gotta watch that one!
One of the big sisters noticed all the fun and wanted to get in on it too. She loves to dig and eat fresh carrots (way different than store bought). So the kids went to down digging out carrots, you should have heard them hollaring about who got the PRIZE carrot (ie the largest one!) My daughter likes the purple carrots almost as much as I do.
My little is growing so fast and is eating sooo much! I need to once again pad my storage of baby food so this time the garden fresh menu item is butternut squash. If you do not grow this veggie it is easy to find in most upscale grocery stores or health food stores and makes quite a bit of baby food from the purchase of just one squash. When it is not in season and I have had to purchase one, it usually costs under $3 for the 10-15 servings of baby food I get from it that is a cost of 20 cents per serving for my organic all natural baby food!
So here is what I do...I took a super lazy approach to the squash this time as I am a busy mama. I just rinsed it off and put it directly into a 9 x 13 dish and put it in the oven at 375. Yup, that's it for the first step. No oil, no water, nothing just squash and pan. I baked it for about 1 1/2 hours (give or take) I was busy running around doing other things. When I came back to check on it I wanted to be sure that a fork would pierce the skin easily (If you try this before cooking it is VERY difficult). Yup, fork pierced so now it is easy to cut and I pulled it out of the oven and sliced it in half lengthwise and used a spoon just to scrape out the seeds so I didn't have to later. I then added about 1/2 cup of water and put both sides face down to cook a bit longer (I am guessing I left it in another 45min- 1 hour till super squishy).
When all is said and done and your squash is squishy I then scraped the orange flesh out and put it in my Baby Bullet (a kitchen staple which I love) but you can use a food processor or a blender if that is what you have. Add a bit of water depending on how thin your baby likes his or her food and blend away! Then I pour into small containers or ice cube trays and freeze for baby food! yum and easy!
1. Mixed with water and a drop of Dawn dish soap as a glass cleaner.
2. Run straight through the coffee pot as a cleaning agent.
3. Weed killer. (see post here)
4. Mixed 1:4 ratio with water as a floor cleaner.
5. Used in Marinades and salad dressings.
My first experience with this question came during my eldest daugther's kindergarden year. One of her friends was the first child I knew of to have a cell phone. In kindergarden. WHAT??? I didn't have my own cell phone until my first year of college, and even then it was for emergencies only. I have racked my brain and CANNOT think of any valid reason why someone feels their child needs a cell phone at 6 years old.
Next it was makeup. Yes, makeup. This was in 3rd grade. Again, why does my 8 year old need makeup? She has no blemishes to cover up, no under eye circles, she definately doesn't need mascara (hello racoon eyes!).
Then cheerleading, soccer, swimming, and any sports imaginable, mixed with art classes and ballet and whatever else may be of the child's desire or parents for that matter. But, all of the activites at once causing many of the 3rd and 4th graders we knew to not have time for play dates due to their ever busy schedules. We want cultured, athletic and highly intelligent children right? We spend our children's childhood whisking them from one activity to another leaving no time for learning to wait.
Towards the tail end of our intermingling with my children being public schooled (they are now homeschooled) it was coed parties. This was in 6th grade. I don't mean the kind of innocent coed parties where the kids play who can swing the highest while all the parents stand around and laugh, while supervising. I mean, the kind where as a parent you have to be sure that parents are supervising and not leaving the house during said parties...my children did not attend any of these.
The question begs to be asked...What is there to look forward to??? When I was a kid I looked forward to being 13, that was when I was allowed to start wearing makeup. I looked forward to being 16, that was when I was allowed to get my driver's license and also allowed to ride in the car with friends who had theirs. I looked forward to so many things that our children are already done with before they ever even move out of the 6th grade. If our children have already had the marjority of experiences that their parents had to wait until young adulthood to have, what's left?
I think its boredom...
Not the good kind of boredom mentioned in my earlier article here, but the kind that leads to apathy.
We are now living in a world where you don't have to wait for anything. In fact if you google something and the answer does not pop up in 1.2 seconds we get frustrated. If our cell phones break and we order new ones we expect overnight shipping and what do you mean its the weekend and it may take 2 whole days!?!?! We go to the U-scan at the grocery and feel irritation when the machine is too slow. We don't even bother to call others as it is easier and faster to just text message (yes, I am guilty of this one) We expect instant gratification and we will not be patient to wait for anything that takes time. We aren't doing such a good job of modeling good behavior to our younger generations when we can't wait either.
So what is there to look forward to if we have everything right now, if we do not have to wait for anything, if patience is never a virtue? I wonder if maybe we just need to slow down and create space for ourselves and our children to learn to wait for things, to look forward to things, and to have patience...
I love natural remedies. I don't like medicines. I have ventured into the use of essential oils and I am really liking what I am finding, however, I had a harder time learning how to properly use Melalueca or Tea Tree Oil. I think it was because of my aversion to its smell. I have so many friends who use it for cleaning and its antiseptic properties that it brings into the home, but frankly I don't want my home smelling like it because again, I have an aversion to the odor.
So, I was a little slower to use this oil as frequently as some of the others I use. However, I am fast becoming a convert. My go-to remedy for itching or redness is usually Lavender oil because it calms the skin, however, it isn't touted for it's antiseptic and cleaning properties as much. I had heard that the melalueca was great for cuts but usually I use lavender. However, my son had a scratch on his chest that was beginning to become red and a bit hot, indicating of course some type of infection starting up. I would usually move straight to the triple antibiotic ointment but I thought I would at least give the oil a try as there was no oozing or other indication of serious infection yet. Here is what the cut looked like. After 2 applications (1 drop each time) of the melalueca oil the redness was gone and by the 48 hour mark the scratch was nothing but a scratch. I did take a picture of the after, but in his haste to photograph a lego mini movie my son accidentally erased it.
I used the melalueca again on the same child just a week later when he busted his lip, it numbed the lip and he said it was helpful, though it stung a bit when applied. I think I will keep investigating this oil for other uses.
Wife to a wonderful husband, Daughter of the King, Mother of 6 (one with an xtra chromosome), and an incidental farm girl.