Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homestead Blessings - The West Ladies

One of my favorite Christmas Presents this year was bought with my Christmas money from my Grandmother and Mother. A series of videos from Franklin Springs.

I have enjoyed these videos so much that I wanted to share them with my friends and give them my recommendation. They deal with candle making, soap making, canning, gardening, cooking, herbs, etc...

I also have enjoyed visiting their web page as well. They really are a delightful family, a Mom and her three daughters living out a life that many of us dream of.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was the Hand Milling of Soap. My husband wants to try the pickled eggs. One of my boys wants to try the 'easiest potato bed' they demonstrated. The girls really want to try the candle dipping. They've encouraged me to try again with my herb gardening next year. Really cool videos!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Forever Thankful!

November of 2009 found us standing before a judge once again and finalizing the adoption of three of our children. Now, in the eyes of the Lord and the Law, we are a Forever Family, and we are forever thankful!

With seven adoptions accomplished, the big question was, "Are you finished?" Henry stated firmly that he was very sure we were. I stated that I was only going to say, I'd obey the Lord. He grinned at me and I grinned at him. We know how the Lord works. But, surely, these seven from heaven would complete our family. After all, seven is symbollic in the Scriptures as completion.

We have had many foster children, 45 to be exact, and while some were only infants when they left us or only with us a very short time, we developed some very long lasting and close relationships with a number of our foster children. A few have grown up, married and started families of their own. We have had the honor of meeting some of these precious little ones that are grandchildren in love.

One of these very special former foster children is now 12 years old and the birth brother of two of our adopted sons. We have tried hard to stay in contact but last year we were told that he had been adopted. I decided to try once again to contact him as we love him very much and he was in our home many years.

What a shock and wonderful surprise to find out that he is available for adoption and we could be considered as an adoptive resource. We are thrilled beyond measure and praying diligently for the Lord's will to be done in his life and ours.

It will be a slow process, the transition will need to be gradual. He has autism and does not need any sudden changes in his routine. However, it appears that the Lord was not seeing us complete (as the #7 indicates), instead He appears to be seeing the New Year as a time for NEW Beginnings (which is what the #8 signifies).

We'll keep you updated and would so appreciate your prayers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Nope, that's no typo, I meant what I said.... FUNNEL VISION .
I woke up this morning a little weary, feeling like I'd never get everything done that I needed to get done. Ya' know?

Nothing was terribly wrong, I just felt like I had about 5,000 too many things to do and felt convinced that no matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn't be enough. My head was hurting, the children were wanting breakfast, my brain was frozen or muddled or overheated or something...and I just couldn't think straight. I was considering an outright pity party, wishing I could go back to bed and starting to feel very aggravated at everything and everyone around me. Being honest here.

I pulled out a box of cereal that I keep stuck away for just such mornings. The big boys passed out the bowls and poured the milk while I tried to gather myself, my thoughts and my attitude! I started piddlin' in the kitchen, organizing this and that when I decided to put some things in storage containers that needed to be done. It was that kind of mindless activity that you can do when you really don't want to do anything at all.

This is where the funnel came in. Pouring things from very large containers to smaller containers often calls for a funnel. I pulled out the appropriate one and went about my task. After a few minutes I found myself getting good and aggravated (once again). The funnel kept clogging up, for no good reason that I could tell. I was pouring granules, there was plenty of room for them to pass through and there wasn't a moisture problem. I grew quite frustrated (having already entered into this thing frustrated to begin with) and finally tossed the funnel into the sink, determined that I would just do it without it.

This was a big mistake, oh the mess and the waste of the spilled granules. I cleaned up the work area, retrieved my funnel, took and deep breath and began again. This is when I got FUNNEL VISION!

It seems to me that one of the sweetest parts of walking with the Lord is having Him speak to You, teach you a lesson, point out a a very common place moment, doing a very common place thing. And that is just what He did. With the FUNNEL VISION, I could now easily see the problem and the solution as well as an added bonus.

Even though the funnel was ample sized and the granules could pass through undeterred...if I poured them too fast, got in a hurry, they just bottle necked and stopped the whole progress. So, that was the problem. If I slowed down JUST a BIT, the problem was instantly solved and a good steady progress was made. So, that was the solution. And the bonus? I discovered that if I angled the funnel every so slightly so that the granules hit the side of the funnel, they went down even more smoothly and quickly. So, that was the bonus.

In the very instant that I had my FUNNEL VISION, I learned a life lesson, that helped me face my day.

There is nothing that the Lord has given me to do, assigned to me, or made me responsible for that I am not equipped (by His Grace) to do. BUT, sometimes I need to step back, take a deep breath and start again. Having done that, I need to pace myself, pay attention to the timing and rhythm of the Holy Spirit in my days and as a bonus...just like the leaning funnel...I need to be flexible, take a different position and allow the Lord to deflect some of the impact of life's downpours before I have to funnel them into my own container of a 24 hour day.

So, if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, incapable or 'weary in well doing'...ask the Lord for a little FUNNEL VISION and you'll soon be back on track.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Creative Camping

This weekend we set out on a new adventure, in our own backyard nevertheless! smile.gif

A family with seven children and chickens and goats and dogs (plus a parrot) does not travel much, or at least ours doesn't. wink.gif

So, we decided to take advantage of a very low cost method of family vacationing and entertainment, camping. Under our particular circumstances we had to be a bit creative...therefore...CREATIVE CAMPING.

Upon considering the choice of location for this camp out, we decided there was nothing better than our own backyard. After all, there would be no noisy neighbors, we could still see about the goats and chickens and it was free (free is good). We have a pond for fishing, woods for hiking, a creek for crossing and a ready made target range. Besides, I realized, minimal packing would have to occur and this was a VERY good thing. This left more time for fun and took a load of stress off my shoulders.

The next step was the putting up of the tents. Our youngest four children had never slept in a tent before and were particularly excited. Our new tent said 'sleeps 9', but it would have been a squeeze. Glad that the two oldest boys decided to sleep in their own tents. Each of the three tents had a dog, the parrot went back in the house to his cozy cage.

In this picture you see the youngest five all snuggled up in their pajamas and holding bears...well except for Jeremiah who opted for the family parrot (Jonah) on his shoulder instead.

We were also celebrating Henry's (dh) birthday and he was glad for the opportunity to try his new Black Powder Gun (his birthday present). So target shooting was definitely on the agenda! Here you'll see the birthday boy and his seven kiddos, my oldest two preparing for their turn and me as well, trying out my new toy, a Mosin Nagant, made in 1939 (91/30).

We also had a camp fire, which we sat around and sang Christmas Carols... biggrin.gif ,hey, that's what they wanted to sing!

We made smores, chili, hotdogs, and a huge breakfast cooked over an open fire. thumbs.gif

We played games around the picnic table using solar lanterns and today we're finishing up my attempting to make some moccasins (we bought a kit at Hobby Lobby. The rain has moved in and we took down the tents but continued the fun and activities inside. And that, is how you manage Creative Camping.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Lesson of the Nine Bean Soup

This morning, as I was taking an inventory of my dried beans I decided to make a Mix. We love the mixed bean soups and those bags of beans are much more expensive than individual bags. So, we looked at our assortment of beans, we had nine. I commented that this was one variety of beans per person in our family. I used one of the storage containers on wheels that I have mentioned before and we began to pour in the beans (4lbs of each variety).

  1. Black-eyed Peas
  2. Navy
  3. Lentils
  4. Green Baby Limas
  5. Small Red Beans
  6. Black Beans
  7. Pintos
  8. Green Split Peas
  9. Large Limas
Because the container is clear, it was really neat seeing the layers that the beans made. It was very attractive as each bean represented different colors, shapes and sizes. I once again commented that these beans were like us, all unique and different.

Some of the children thought we should leave them like that until I pointed out the problem. Our goal was to have a mixed bean soup and if we didn't mix them up and combine them we would never have the full flavor that they could only bring together. As a matter of fact I concluded, we wouldn't even be able to experience the bottom layers of beans for a long time to come and if we weren't going to mix them up...we should have just left them separate. Talk about a teachable moment!

Our family does not consist of all the same 'variety' of people. And yet, God Himself combined us together to create a special family that holds a unique flavor, all its own. While we are each individuals, we have been put together and made into something lovely...a family!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SEW Excited!!

Y'all, I am SEW excited! biggrin.gif

Last summer we changed churches and started attending a local fellowship. It was a good decision and has made it much easier for the kids to be involved with activities and etc... My dh is very involved with the boys groups, the FCF (Fronteirsmen Camping Fellowship) as well. But me, well, I don't know, since we moved here over three years ago, I've been a bit of a hermitress.

In the meantime, dh and the two oldest boys have become very active with FCF and this means that they need Period Correct Outfits. My mom is coming in one month to stay for a week and help me, which is such a blessing. She is a wonderful seamstress and I am a 'sewing wannabe'.

So, this morning I go to church and about half a dozen ladies sought me out after services, hugging my neck, telling me my dress was pretty, asking how I was, etc... It felt very nice, I have to tell you. As the chatting went on I mentioned to them that I was trying to get my supplies for the FCF clothing and guess what they said???!!

They said, "Stephanie, why don't you join our Tuesday night sewing club?"

I said, "Well, I don't know how to sew really, I bought a machine, but I don't really know what to do with it."

And they said, "Bring it, bring your manual and we'll teach you!"

I said, "Do you know how to do these FCF clothes? Could I bring my material and let you look at it?"

They said, "Sure! We just made the Pastor's outfit for him and we'll be glad to help you figure it out."

I am telling you, I am SEW excited!! I will be learning a skill, getting out of the house, making progress on this FCF project and making some real life, in my community, friends! This is a major deal for me! smile.gif

They meet every Tuesday evening plus the last Sat of the month for an all day sewing/craft day. They do crochet, tatting, sewing, scrapbooking, etc... Doesn't it sound wonderful?? What a blessing! God is so good to me!

Just had to share!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On The Mend

At one point this past weekend I just felt so tired and wanted to sit down, but, couldn't justify it with so much needing to be done. About that time, my second son who is 13 brought his blanket that had some tears in it and asked me if I could mend it.

Well, I'm not much of a seamstress and I can't remember the last time that I sat down and mended anything, but I decided to try. This would give me a good excuse to sit in the recliner with my feet up and my hands busy

This blanket had been my dh's and he had passed it down after getting a new one. You may be familiar with them they are called Vellux Blankets. They are wonderful and we all like them very much. Here's a link so you can see what I mean.

I'm not sure how the several tears occurred, but with lots of boys and dogs in the house, I can imagine a few possibilities. Anyway, as I sat there and contemplated the best way to approach this mending, I became a bit philosophical. smile.gif I started thinking about how we all have times when we must set about mending relationships in our lives. Some times, we can just walk away, cut the ties and resolve the conflict by separating ourselves from it. Kind of like tossing out the blanket, deciding it wasn't worth the trouble.

But, when it is someone we really care about, things can get a lot more complicated. In order to properly address the tears in the blanket I had to first do some trimming away, the jagged edges made it impossible to match and mend properly. At first glance one may think I was making the matter worse, making a larger 'hole', as I snipped. Truthfully however, the pruning was necessary for the best mending to occur.

As I began to stitch I quickly learned another lesson, this luxurious material had to be handled delicately. If I pulled a stitch too tightly it would actually pull a hole in the fabric. When we are looking to mend a relationship we need to apply gentle pressure as well or new hurts can be added to the old hurts we are trying to address. Matters of heart and trust and love are very fragile.

Finally I presented the blanket to my delighted son. "It looks just like new!" He exclaimed! I laughed and replied, "As long as you don't look too closely."

While I had done my best to match the color of the thread, trim away the jagged edges and stitch carefully, a close examination would reveal the mending that had been done. Still, in his eyes, it was like new.

Just like our relationships that may have been torn and tattered , then mended with tender loving care, the scars may remain, but only if we look too closely. Sometimes we just have to embrace the mended relationship, appreciating it for it's warmth and declaring it new.

So goes the philosophy of mending hearts and blankets. smile.gif

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Accessible Storage - My Solution

One of the things that I've struggled with as I've tried to buy bulk foods like grain, dried beans, rice, etc... was that once it was packed away in the opaque white buckets, I couldn't easily 'see' it nor access it.

When I bought the grains for grinding, I ordered the Gamma Lids. These are going to work well.

However, all of these white buckets filled with assorted stuff would kind of run together. Even with my best efforts to keep the Steel Cut Oatmeal separate from the pinto beans and even though I clearly labeled with black was just an aggravation to go and find it.

I found myself using the stuff I hadn't put away yet because I could see it, grab it and not search for it. Call me lazy but I will declare myself busy! Anyway, I think I've finally found my solution.

They arrived today and I'm very pleased.

They are clear, so I can easily see what they hold and how much.

They are air tight which keeps it nice and fresh and any intruders out.

They are on wheels, this is a real bonus and convenience.

They are FDA approved, making them safe for food storage.

They are on sale at Amazon (buy 3 get 4) plus they qualified for free super savers shipping.

They hold a LOT! One of them held TWO 20lb bags of Jasmine Rice!

I am a happy prepper girl, and I think this will encourage me to properly rotate.

I can still use the buckets (and will do so for the grains) but, I can transfer what I'm ready to start using.

Just thought I'd share my discovery so that it may help someone else.

Friday, May 29, 2009

La Petite Poule Rouge (The Little Red Hen)

In Junior High School I was in a play that my French Class did for the younger grades. I was - La Petite Poule Rouge (The Little Red Hen).

I had to go to all the other characters and ask for help only to hear them say over and over Pas Moi! Not Me!

Now, here I sit, three decades later wondering if I've become a real life La Petite Poule Rouge. I'm answering myself with those same two little words - Pas Moi!! Surely not!

And yet, I find in my possession a newly acquired Grain Mill and supply of grain (with etc...)

Was this my destiny? Was it meant to be? Was being a 'do it myself' kind of girl instilled in me at a tender age?

Here is my Grain Mill - The Wonder Junior Deluxe! Isn't it lovely!

Here is where I bought my grain and other supplies. If you look to the left side bar you'll see a Getting Started button, that's what I clicked and used as a guide for my ordering.

I do not know when I will actually use any of this, certainly not today. But, when I do, I'll be sure to share the experience! In the meantime, enjoy this online story of The Little Red Hen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Powder

This week the kids and I did an experiment with Peanut Butter Powder.

Some months ago, I had purchased this... D140_A_name_E_Peanut+Butter+Powder

I decided it was time to open it and see how we liked, what it tasted like, what in the world you did with it!

The instructions on the #10 can say: Mix 1 TBSP of Powder with 1 Tsp of water. Add a small amount of sugar for flavor. Add a drop of oil for creaminess.

First, we all tasted the powder plain, just to see (we are home educaters after all). Then we added the water, determined that wasn't even enough to get it moist and added a tiny bit more. We tasted again.The first two tastings, one while dry and one with just water, drew some interesting comments. One child said, it taste like coffee. Another said it tasted like the flavor on Honey Smacks (minus the sweetness). I personally thought it tasted like roasted unsalted peanut skins (not the nuts, just the skins). But, everyone agreed on one thing, this does not taste like peanut butter.

So, we added a little sugar, more tasting. The sugar seemed to help a lot as far as tasting okay, but still, not a peanut buttery taste. Next we added a "drop* of oil to each persons own expermental bowl. This did wonders for the consistency. Now atleast it looked like peanut butter!

The last part of our experimental tasting that day was to pull out a sleeve of saltines. Finally, success. The children all agreed that our concoction tasted just like the peanut butter that is in the crackers that you buy in individual packs. Everyone ate all of theirs and more.

I cant' imagine at this point that I would be able to eat this in exactly the same way that we do peanut butter from the jar, but I can see some uses for it in our preps. Unopened that can is shelf stable for many years. It can be edible, if not tasty, with nothing but water added.

The kids want us to try again with different types of sweeteners. I think they're on to something. I was using white table sugar. I think that next time we'll try brown sugar, powdered sugar and/or honey. It was hard to lose the graininess of the sugar and I think these others will dissolve better.

We also want to make some of the recipes that we found at the Emergency Essentials site.

I think we'll start with the one for Peanut Butter Cookies, although I don't have Shortening Powder. I also want to try our family favorite, Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting. I definitely need to keep trying because now I have an opened #10 can and it's shelf life will now be considerably shortened.

I am considering one other thing for the future. For one thing, perhaps not all Peanut Butter Powders are the same. I think I'll order some of this PB2 that I've heard so much of.

Any of you who have had experience with the Peanut Butter Powders, I'd appreciate any feed back. In the mean time, we shall continue to experiment, learn and adjust.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Life as a Mommy and a Wife

I think I'll tell you a bit about me. I live in Alabama with my dh Henry and our seven children whom we have been blessed to make our own through the miracle of adoption. We have been married 26 years! I assure you he is the only man on earth who could live with me that long, he is amazing and the love of my life.Our children, and how they came to us, are miracles indeed.

Just briefly, they are
ds1 - 14 (joined our family at age 8)
ds2 - 13 (our first adoption and came as a 2 week old premie 5lb infant
ds3 - 9 (was 2 mos old when he arrived)
dd1 - 9 (birth sister to our other daughter, came at age7)
dd2 - 8 (came at age 6)ds4 - 5 (straight from the hospital at 2 days)
ds5 - 4 (birth brother to the girls and was 3 yrs old when he came)

I was born in Louisiana, lived primarily in Texas and Mississippi during my growing up years and then married and was imported to Alabama over 25 years ago.

Alabama has been good to us, my dh and dc were all born here. All of my family lives in Arkansas and the sensible thing to do would be to move there, but dreams aren't always sensible.

Three years ago we bought an older house on 5 acres of land and have been going about making it into a homestead.We have a pond, a creek, goats, chickens, dogs and a parrot. Recently Aslan, our Anatolian puppy joined the family.

If you know me at all, you know that I love the Lord. I'm doing my best to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to Him. I love the Word of God and use it as the Plumb Line, as a standard for all things Spiritual.

I have conquered my fear of pressure canning! I bought a Nubian milk goat and she delivered her baby right here on our little homestead. I'm enjoying my chickens immensely, they are wonderful homestead animals.

I home educate my children in a very Eclectic manner. That basically means I'll use any method or manner I can to help my children learn how to learn. That's my goal, I know I can never teach them everything, but if I have taught them the love of learning, to read, to investigate, to grow...I have done a good thing.

We're hoping to have a big garden this year and better success with it as we try some new techniques. This is an area I'm still trying to learn and grow in. With a famly our size, we need to be gardening! Well, just thought I'd tell you a bit about me!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Convenience Redefined

I'm a busy mom, I get tired, overwhelmed and just outright pooped sometimes.

In the past, on a day like that, I'd ask dh to stop by and pick up something convenient. After all, hungry kids, a frustrated mom, lack of time, a small crisis of some manner, and etc... were the recipe for disaster. And so I excused it.

Now, while we still eat out (very occasionally), it is a planned event, not a matter of convenience. In my life, Convenience has been Redefined.

It started rather simply. I needed a well stocked pantry. I needed to have things on hand. I needed to have an extra loaf of bread in the freezer or even a gallon of milk, I needed to have the basics available to me.

Then, it went a step further. I had to increase my skills and be able to turn that flour into biscuits without a huge ordeal. I needed to be able to improvise, out of problem we have powdered. No bread, no problem, I can make a batch of flour tortillas fairly quickly. I also began to think ahead. No one wants to face seven hungry kids without some sort of plan.

I began to experiment with foods that I wanted to incorporated into our menus. I learned to try to have a big pot of some kind of soup available at practically any given time. Vegetable soup, Lentil Soup, Split Pea Soup, Potato Soup, Cabbage Soup, I could go on.

Then a huge step towards Redefining Convenience, I learned to home can. It was the meat canning that really changed my outlook. What a time saver!

Going to make chicken enchiladas? Just open a can of cooked, seasoned, tender and flavorful chicken. You could eat it right out of the jar if you wanted to.

Need a quick Spaghetti dinner, boil some noodles, open a can of your home canned ground beef, a jar of're done!

Finally (and I'm skipping over a lot) I arrived at this newest project of mine. Learning to use dehydrated foods. I'm now amazed at how convenient these foods can make your life.

I ordered (some months ago) from Harmony House their Vegetable Pantry Stuffer I also ordered some things from Honeyville grains (Powdered Buttermilk, Powdered Sour Cream, etc).

The last week or so, I've finally begun to open up some of the sealed quarts and tried incorporating them. I took a day to cook only from preps. I am so TOTALLY won over. You can make a vegetable soup that is wonderful out of these dehydrated goods. I even tried the TVP beef bits in my soup which were wonderful in a soup form. I made a hominy casserole and added the powdered sour cream and the dehydrated assorted bellpeppers, wonderful. I made buttermilk biscuits with the powdered buttermilk, lovely!

This is how Convenience has been Redefined in my life. Quicker than I can run through a drive thru, faster than a speeding pizza delivery, I can have a wonderful meal, without chopping, dicing, peeling, processing, etc...

I haven't purchased a really nice dehydrator yet to do more of the dehydrating myself yet, but will one day. You do have to have a good source of water to rehydrate but that could be found in the liquid/broth/juice of your canned vegies. I can't imagine spending unplanned money on convenience food any more.

Convenience (for me) has been Redefined!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

FCF (Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship)

My husband and five sons are involved in a program that is similar to Boy Scouts that is called Royal Rangers. They have an extension group called FCF (Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship). If there is such a group in your area, I highly recommend it.

This coming weekend my dh and two oldest sons will be attending the first part of their orientation into this program.

I am busy collecting the required items that they must bring. I thought you might be interested in a portion of the list.

New Testament
Sharp Pocket Knife
Can w/lid for charring cloth
Flint & Steel
Sleeping Bag
100% cotton patches
Ground Cloth
Warm clothes including camo pants and hiking boots
Mess kit including utensils, cup, pan, bowl.Later, if they make it through the initiation which for one thing requires no talking for 24 hours they will begin to gather "Period Correct" clothing, equipment, weapons, tools, etc... They will be learning how to make do with what a Frontiersman would have had. I am so excited that they are learning these skills and feel they will be better prepared to face whatever life throws at them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Popping Popcorn *PoP*PoP*PoP*

Did you know that Popcorn is a Whole Grain and has lot of nutritional and healthy benefits?

I've always been a fan of Popcorn in its many varied forms. Whether it was dripping in butter at the Theater or in a box of Cracker Jacks at the ball game...formed into a PopCorn Ball at Halloween or caramelized with brown sugar... yum yum yum!I have loved it when I wasn't counting calories and I have loved it when I was. On its own, it's nothing but good... our adding toppings are sometimes tasty tantalizing culpits of extra sugar and fat and well, you know.

I can remember when microwave popcorn was all the rage!! What an amazing thing it was !! I can't imagine how many bags I must have bought and eaten since that time, countless.Now, as the mom of seven snackers, I am even more fond of this tasty, frugal, healthful food. When you consider nutrition and costs, Popcorn wins hands down over Chips and such.Finally, I decided I was going to give up the Microwavable Bags, big decision, but we were spending too much on that convenience.

So, I started buying 1 lb bags and standing at the stove, shake, shake, shake... for the shortest of times it was a novelty, my kids were amazed. Funny, but they had never seen popcorn popped the old fashion way.

Last month I put on my prepping hat and bought a 50 lb bag of popcorn at Sam's , talk about a huge savings, it was huge. And talk about a lot of popcorn, it was a lot. But, after a while, I grew weary of standing there at the stove, shake, shake, shake and if you left your post...well, we all know what burnt popcorn smells like.

So, I went on a quest! And I have found the answer to our Popcorn Dilemna. Have you heard of a whirly pop? Here's what it looks like, they sell them all over the internet and we actually found one at our local Target store.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Until a few months ago I'd never even tried lentils. I noticed at the store that they were a bit cheaper than other dried beans and trying to incorporate variety into my preps I decided to give them a try. I read all about them and they are a fascinating legume, with quite a history.

They are in the Bible in Genesis, when Esau gives up his birthright for a bowl of them. They were discovered in an Egyptian Pyramid from 2400 BC, they are considered one of the TOP Ten Healthiest Foods! We did a unit study on these little gems and were amazed by what we found. They have almost as much protein as soy beans and you don't have to presoak them! They can be stored for indefinite periods of time and they are very inexpensive. This is a top ranking prep item in my opinion.

The thing that really amazed me about these Lentils is their versatility. They are considered to be bland when unseasoned...but the beauty is, you can decide what flavor they will take. They take on the flavor of what you're seasoning them with. They can be a 'barbeque bean', a 'pate', a 'curried' dish, a 'taco soup', a 'vegetable stew', on and on they go. They are like a blank canvas that is so full of nutrition and you can decide the results with your own taste bud preferences.

Not only that, but they are among the most digestible of legumes and are proven to help with insulin levels in diabetics. :) It is considered a Super Food by nutritionist and health experts.

Here are a few links where you read more about them:

BTW - Today I tried a Lentil Loaf (meatloaf without meat), everyone, include hubby said it was good! :)

And then I did a Barley and Lentil soup with mushrooms and Cilantro... Very yummy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Detergent Recipes

Today I'm making another batch of Laundry Detergent. It's really simple, you control added fragrances and can save a bunch of money. I had fallen back into buying the economy stuff at the Wholesale Club again, bunch lately I'm just feeling all itchy. Plus, I've really tightened our belt when it comes to spending, so, once again, I'm grating soap and making up a batch of Homemade Laundry Detergent.

There are lots of varied recipes, some for liquid (kind of a gel) and some for dry/powder types. Here's a good site that list a whole slew of variations and tips.

I'm making the liquid/gel recipe #3 and tripling it (xl family=xl laundry)


Then I'm going to try my hand at some more Dishwasher Detergent. This hasn't worked out so well for me in the past. We seemed to struggle with a powdery film on the dishes...and ended up hand rinsing the dishes which was the pits. So, I've come across this page that tells you what you can try to fix that problem.

I use recipe #1 and I'm going to try to use vinegar in the rinse cycle like it suggested. So, we shall see.


This is a very simple way to save a load of money, especially if you keep those washers (clothes and dishes) whirring constantly like me!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Only Oatmeal

One of my biggest steps towards food preps was with oatmeal.

Seems a bit "simple", but I really researched it. The prices, the different packaging and the different kinds. I thought I'd share what I discovered for others who are still figuring all of this out. It all started some months ago when I announced to the kids that we were going to start having oatmeal once a week. I nearly had a revolt on my hands.

Eventually I mastered the technique of making really good oatmeal, actually spent time talking to my grandma about it. We progressed to a couple of times a week and now we have oatmeal about 3 times a week and it is enjoyed by all (one child out of seven doesn't eat a second bowl).

Then it was time to start looking into a bulk buy of oatmeal. I figured out we could consume about 10 lbs a month. Therefore 50 lbs would last about 5 months. A 6 pack case of #10 cans would last about 3 1/2 months. A canister from Walmart 2 meals.

Finally I had to decide WHICH oats to buy. Thanks to the internet and lots of help from my friends here, I finally understood the difference.
Oat Groats - the whole oat, stores longest
Oats Steel cut (or Irish Oats or Pinhead Oats) are the whole oats cut into about 4 pieces, with no processing.
Oats Old Fashioned or Regular - have been steamed and pressed
Oats Instant or Quick Oats - have been steamed, pressed, chopped

Then the packaging.
Canisters at Walmart? (This is how I started)
#10 cans for long term storage (will last 30 years)
Super Pails (packed in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers)
50 lb bags (best buy, must be repackaged for storage)

We ended up getting some of it all, except the Oat Groats (yet)! I bought up a bunch in the Walmart canisters right before the prices went up and to tide us over until orders came in. Those are being used up first. The Quick Oats came in the LDS #10 can and will be stored (good for 30 years) in case of a crisis where quick is necessary. The Old Fashioned/Regular Oats I ordered in #10 cans when I found them on sale and didn't have to worry about repackaging. Finally I ordered a 50 lb bag of the Steel Cut, repackaged into our own white buckets and got a great deal ($1 a lb ) when a small package at the store of this 'better' variety is $3 or $4


The steel cut oatmeal is VERY different from what we were used to. I LOVE it and my kids are warming up to it. Eventually I will only buy this's a progression! Maybe one day I'll even try the whole oat groats.Well, that's my Oatmeal Tale! Hope it gives someone a headstart if they're considering Oats as a Prep. It is very healthy!! economical, and a comfort food when you're sprinkling cinnamon, adding raisins, etc. Not to speak of the fact that these oats can be used in countless recipes for snacks, cookies, muffins, etc.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tasty Tortillas

Here I am, finally making the first post on my very own blog, following through with one of my New Years resolutions. I wanted a place to record highlights of my journey, a journey towards self-sufficiency and a simpler life that is focused on the things that really matter.

This week I finally tackled making tortillas. It wasn't near as hard as I had imagined it, as a matter of fact, it was really easy. The kids loved them and I have decided this is a definite addition to my well stocked pantry project. I opted to go with the Tortilla Mix so that all I add is water. I'm doing the Flour Tortillas and hand rolling them with an old wooden rolling pen. I think it will be good arm exercise!

I bought 20 lbs of the mix and hope to find it in bulk at our local wholesale club store. I'll be freezing the bags of flour first and then storing in buckets with oxygen absorbers. I've got to order some mylar bags first. Always one more thing to gather in!

The tortillas were warm (fresh off the griddle), tasty (kids ate them as fast as I cooked them), filling (always good with a large family), fun (I let the kids roll their own), versatile (you can fill them with a huge variety of foods), economical (very important in these trying times) and easy! I love easy!

I learned that the tortilla presses are most often used for the corn toritllas (which I haven't tried yet) and that there is such a thing as an electric tortilla press that cooks them at the same time. I cooked mine on a hot electric griddle but could also use my black cast iron skillets and griddles.

I discovered a good variety of YouTube videos that demonstrate proper rolling techniques, recipes and cooking methods for Flour Tortillas. Seeing something being done really helps me when I'm tackling something new.

My mom told me that she is actually made some Old Fashioned Fried Pies out of her batch this week. She had some cans of the Fruit Pie Filling and used that. She said they really turned out well. I'll be trying that soon.

For one of our batches I walked over to my canning pantry and chose a mason jar filled with seasoned ground beef that I had home canned a few months ago. Dumped it, warmed it, and we had a feast. Toppings included refried beans, salsa (a Pace Copy Cat recipe I had made the day before), sour cream, chopped onions, jalepenos. They were a huge hit, not one child wrinkled their nose in disapproval!