Saturday, December 31, 2016

All I Want To Do Is Read More - 2017

Once again I have been absent from this blog.  Some not serious health issues have kept me from enjoying life.  I'm still not back to normal but getting closer.  All this down time has given me time to contemplate life and what I would like to see different in 2017.

I just want to open up a honest to goodness book and read more.  Before we had wi-fi in our home and smart phones I would read 4-5 books a month, now I am only reading 4-5 a year.  Part of my recovery is to rest and to truly rest I need to turn off the screens and open those books.
 Currently I am reading three books.  Dune - yep still reading it.  The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker and a Janette Oke book on my kindle.  I would like to get back into the classics, especially Dickens and the Poirot mysteries by Agatha Christie.

Here's to 2017 and getting back to the basics. 

Lovin' Life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Food Cost Breakdown for November


Canning and Food Storage
Evaporated Milk (case) $25.92
Popcorn 50 lbs $32.59
Mints $11.49
Pepperoni $13.09
Corn (case) $9.48
Kerrygold Butter (to can) $31.56 
Garlic granulated $6.39
Brown Sugar $25.80
Clear Jel $9.50
Pecans $21.46
Vitamin Gummies $46.17
Red pepper Flakes $13.51
Black Pepper $13.39
Toothpaste 6.79

Total cost of food toward Food Storage $267.14

Pet Supplies
Cracked Corn $15.11
Dog Food $55.88
Total cost for pet supplies: $70.99

Monthly Groceries
Milk $67.91
Ruffles $30.36
Fruit Snacks $9.99
Poptarts $5.00
Ranch Dressing $10.19
Orange Juice $4.29
Lunch Meat $12.7
Tillamook Cheddar Cheese $52.48 (we have 2 big blocks for December)
Egg Nog$29.47
Cream $19.58
Apple Cider $2.69
Pumpkin $8.79
String Cheese $19.98
Cream Whip $8.99
Blackberries $6.49
Capri Sun Juice $11.09 
Candy $41.97
Corn Tortillas $5.59
Flour Tortillas $11.29
Flour $7.69
Garlic granulated $6.39
Sharp Cheddar $12.29
Pepper Jack $10.19
Yogurt (for starter) $1.39
Ice Cream cups $3.58
Ice Cream Bucket $13.59 
Coffee 31.99
  
Total cost of monthly groceries $445.96

Household Items
Toilet Paper $22.99
Total cost of Household Items $22.99

Total September Food and Household Cost: $807.08

All I can say is WOWZA!  Way over this month and I mean way over!  In my defense I will say I see reflected in this is the holiday shopping for meals and candy to be given as gifts.  Mainly I see that I need to stop sending my hubby to do the shopping because he loves to spoil us and he has with candy, chips and ice cream. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Food Cost Breakdown for October


Canning and Food Storage
Grapeseed Oil 23.69
Mashed potato flakes 10.39
Mayo (case) 29.94
Ketchup (case) 21.96 
Kerrygold Butter 31.56 
Mozzarella cheese 11.99
Heavy Whipping Cream 17.98
  Total cost of food toward Food Storage $147.51

Pet Supplies
Chicken scratch 20.99
Pullet Grower 20.50
DE 17.99
Cracked corn 6.99  
Cat Food 19.69
Dog food 24.49
Cat Litter 8.99  
Total cost for pet supplies: $119.64


Monthly Groceries

Milk 50.33
Egg Nog35.96
Bread13.78
Heavy Whipping Cream 11.99
Reeses 30.36
Noodles 11.49
Yogurt for starter 1.39
Corn tortilla 5.59
Flour tortilla 11.29
Onion 1.19 
Flour - organic 14.69
String cheese 9.99
Cheddar Cheese  35.06
Oreo cookies 7.79
Almonds 17.89
Sparkling water 22.29
Cheez it 4.69
  
Total cost of monthly groceries $285.77

Household Items


Total cost of Household Items $0.00

Total September Food and Household Cost $552.92

A little bit over but I'm OK with that.  Most of that reflects items in food storage from our Costco run  and my hubby beloved eggnog.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Menu Monday - October 31

I hate to brag but in about an hour I will be smearing real butter on my homemade bread.  If only you could  smell my house right now.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my bread machine?  

This week we are still cleaning out the fridge and I have a solid plan in place already.

Breakfast: breakfast burritos and potato pancakes (to help me use up applesauce)

Lunch/Dinners: sloppy lentils (used up Heinz 57 sauce in there), biscuits and gravy and take out cheeseburgers

Snacks/Desserts:  chocolate cake and hubby went shopping hungry and came home with a lot of our favorite snacks (smoked almonds and cheesy crackers)

Still trying to eat intuitively but I am running into the problem of not being hungry.  It turns into a cycle of not eating because I am not hungry but knowing I should eat to get the metabolism going.  Serioulsly need to exercise to solve this problem I bet.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Homestead Happenings - First Snow!

I am home after my mini-vacation.  There was a new grandbaby born and it was high time to go and meet him.  Stormy and I hopped on the ferry and cruised over to Valdez and spent a week snuggling the baby, going to a birthday party and visiting.  Next we took a road trip to Anchorage to spend the weekend and another birthday party.  It was a blast and I am missing them but content to be back at home.
Stormy on the ferry to Valdez
We had our first snow yesterday.  It's already melting but it was pretty to see.  Unfortunately the chickens hated it.  They refused to get their feet cold and I think for some of them, it was their first experience with snow.  The chicks didn't care and wanted out, but their over protective mamas kept them inside. 
 
Chicks are almost feathered out and growing big!


Strawberry-Cranberry Crisp

I have been slowing catching up with my chores.  Today I made yogurt, bread and a strawberry-cranberry crisp.  Yesterday I made beans, steel cut oats and some noodles for Stormy.  My fridge is stocked up again.  The mechanic did a great job surviving without me.  He mainly ate canned beans and scrambled eggs so I am itching to give him a bit more variety and fatten him back up.  
 
I came home determined to eat for better health.  I'm not worried about the foods we eat because the majority of what we eat is whole foods.  What I need to work on is how much of said food I eat.  What I am noticing is that I eat according to the clock and not on a hunger scale.  So now I am trying to wait until I am hungry to eat, eat slowly and eat what I am craving.  Hopefully that will get me back on track.

 
 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Menu Monday - Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe

It is an absolutely beautiful day here on the Kenai Peninsula!  My chores are finished and homeschool is done for the day.  Time to sit down and write out my menu for the week and watch some YouTube videos.

This week I am still cleaning out my mother in law's freezer and fridge.  Later this week, Stormy and I are going away for a week for family birthday parties!, leaving the mechanic home alone and fending for himself once the leftovers run out.

Here is my plan for the week:

Breakfasts: Eggs! must eat eggs because the chickens keep popping them out.  There is also some cottage cheese and yogurt that needs to be eaten.

Lunch/Dinners:  leftover spaghetti from the freezer, beans and toast and I plan on making a big pot of chili before I leave.

Snack/Dessert:  I made a pumpkin cake today that should last until I leave.  The mechanic will be happy eating peanut butter  and jelly while I am gone.

Virtually a cooking free week!  I do need to make some bread but I am out of my favorite organic, unbleached flour so I may just buy a loaf to be eaten for the next week or so.  
I can't leave you without one of my favorite recipes.  This soup recipe is better than the canned type.  I enjoy adding some Israeli Couscous to mine.
 
The Best Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe 
1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion - chopped
1 garlic clove - crushed
3 cups Veggie stock (chicken stock is good too)
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1 TBSP tomato paste
pinch of sugar
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Basil (opt)

Heat oil is a skillet.  Add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until soft.

Transfer to a crock pot.  Add stock, tomatoes, paste, sugar, bay leaves and salt and pepper.

Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Adjust seasonings and remove bay leaves.  Blend until smooth with immersion blender or transfer over to upright blender.

Garnish with optional basil. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Food Cost Breakdown - September


Canning and Food Storage
Red potatoes 30 pounds $17.38
Frozen Blueberries for jam $12.79
Celery for soup $1.99
Chicken stock $6.58
Carrots  10 pounds $14.38
Red Onions 11 pounds  $21.97

Total cost of food toward Food Storage $75.09

Pet Supplies
Chick Starter $24.79
Dog Food $32.29

Total cost for pet supplies: $57.08


Monthly Groceries
(A few of these items were bought for a family dinner with my mother in law)

Milk $53.32
Ice Cream bucket $13.19
Ice Cream bars $6.19
Ice cream cones $1.39
Heavy Cream $34.36
Mayo $6.39
Pizza $17.97
Candy for School treats $6.55
Unbleached  Organic Flour $9.39
Cheddar Cheese block $41.08 (one block went to Dee's house)
String Cheese $10.79
BBQ chips $7.89
Orange Juice $4.29
Butter - Organic $19.58
Flour Tortillas (for Dee's Dinner) 3.69
Flour Tortillas - 7.98
Shredded Mozzarella (for Dee's Dinner) $14.19
Monterey Jack Cheese (for Dee's Dinner) $7.99
Grated Parmesan $6.39
Albacore Tuna $4.78
Marshmallows for Stormy $4.99Coffee - $36.70
Sparkling Water $15.92

Total cost of monthly groceries $335.11

Household Items


Total cost of Household Items $0.00

Total September Food and Household Cost $467.28
Yay! that's $32.72 under budget!!

Looking at what I bought - it's pretty heavy on the junk food.  Mainly because we had several trips to the nearest city (70 miles away) and we tend to snack while we are traveling. Next month I will be going over my budget intentionally.  We are going to the nearest Costco and plan on buying food for storage.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Day in the Life - Fall 2016

I thought it would be fun to do a day in the life seasonal blog.  More for me and my family than anyone else.  I think it would nice to  look back and see what life was like and the changes and growth our family is making.  So here's a peek in my normal, boring day.

8:00ish - No alarm clocks here!  We get up when we want and it's usually around 8:00.

8:00-8:20 - Feed chickens and pets.  The Bible encourages us to take care of our animals before taking care of self.  I feed them, refresh their waterers and clean out the chicken droppings from the hen house.  Right now, I have a mama hen and babies in a brooder that is not part of the hen house but close by so I clean out that box, refresh their water and feed them some chick starter.  

8:20-9:00 - I come back inside and my wonderful hubby is usually making me a cup of coffee.  Right now he is spoiling me with a double-double.  Let me tell you, an americano with an extra shot of espresso does get ya going.  I feed the schnauzer and cat while that is making.  We sit down together and have coffee, share some thoughts and go online.  He reads me the news and weather and I share what I find out on facebook and emails.  

9:00 - Bible reading.  We read four chapters in the Bible every day and a chapter of Proverbs per day.  That easily gets us through the entire Bible every year.  This is hands down the best thing we do as a family.

9:15 - Chore time.  The mechanic goes out to work and I start on the kitchen side of the house.  I start by building a fire, do the dishes and sanitize the kitchen, fill the wood box, wipe down the bathroom, start a load of laundry, scoop the litter box and sweep the floor.  I also peek in the fridge to see if I need to cook anything.  I always have on hand an entree, a snack/desert and fresh bread.  

11:00 - I like to take a little break with another cup of coffee and more facebook time.  I will wander out to take a look at the chickens and fetch the eggs. If I did a load of laundry I will hang it outside to dry. 

12:00 - Homeschool - Still a struggle with my reluctant learner.  Stormy is still not receptive to learning but I coerce her through it.  She loves art and science, doesn't mind handwriting but hates math and reading.  Her routine only takes about an hour a day but it can be a long hour

1:00 - Afternoon chores and projects - After homeschool I like to pick up the living room and vacuum.  After that I look at my project list for the month and work on it or sit down at the computer to blog, budget or manage our online business.  

3:00 - I like to take another break and go outside to feed the chickens and gather more eggs.  If they are free ranging I will shoo them back into the run and lock them up.  If it is sunny outside, I like to stay out and enjoy the fresh air.  

4:00 - Time to tidy up whatever project I am doing and finish up any cooking I may be doing for the day.  

4:30-6:00ish - I spend time with Stormy and relax.  If she is distracted I will take the opportunity to read or watch YouTube videos and knit items for the eBay store.
Gloves I knit and sell on eBay

6:00 - 10:00 - Sometime after six the mechanic will wander in for the night.  I will fix him a plate of food for dinner and we will sit down and relax for the evening.  Usually we watch TV, visit about our day and play with Stormy.  At dusk, I go out and gather up the chicken feeders and waterers.  I wash the feeders out and dump out the water.  It's freezing now at night so I can't leave them in the pen anymore.  I check for more eggs, lock up the brooder and turn off the hen house light.

10:00ish - Bedtime routine - not my favorite time.  I'm tired but get through it.  I start by reminding Stormy to clean up when we start out last TV show for the night.  When the show is over, I get up and stack any dirty dishes in the sink, start the diffuser with lavender oil, fill up the water filter and tidy up the living room.  Storm changes into pajamas and picks out three stories for us to read.  After the bedtime stories, we say prayers and I tuck her into bed.  This routine takes us about 30 minutes.  If it's not too late, I will read awhile in bed before falling asleep.

The weekends are a bit different.  Saturdays I like to tackle any big projects  and I do the deep cleaning chores like the bathroom.  Sundays we take our rest seriously.  We spend the morning reading the Bible and listening to a sermon.  Most Sundays I  make a pancake breakfast but do not plan on cooking anything after that.  I do like to do the dishes after making pancakes but the rest of the day is chore free.  The mechanic has a harder time letting himself rest and he will be busy doing something.  Although we don't feel like we are under obligation to observe the Sabbath, the Bible makes it clear that a day of rest and worship is a good thing.

That's my typical day.  Some days we say forget it and load up and go to the beach.  About twice a month we take a day and go to town for errands and shopping.  This life is the beautiful reward of living a humble,  debt free life - the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want.
Anchor Point Beach
If I can change anything about this routine it would be shifting our sleep times. No doubt we would benefit by being in bed earlier but it's hard to accomplish when you are a night owl at heart.

Lovin' life as the leaves fall down.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Menu Monday on Tuesday - Again! and my Snickerdoodle Recipe

Life is almost normal again!  So excited to get back into my routine and enjoy the slow, easy, countrified life I love.  All of our visiting family has left.  It was a wonderful visit with them but I just do not do well without my routine.

Here's what I am planning on feeding my family this week.  It is a bit different for us because my mother in law requested we clean out her fridge and use up what she left behind.  

Breakfast: SMOOTHIES (a must -- the beets  need to be pulled out of the garden), eggs and toast or omelets
Our hens are still laying plenty of eggs!


Lunch and Dinner:  BBQ Beef sandwiches with roasted veggies, Pizza and Beans on Toast

Snacks/Desserts:  Pumpkin Bread and Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodle Cookies

 Snickerdoodles have a special place in my heart.  They were my dad's favorite cookie and the first cookie I ever made as a child.  Here is the recipe that I have been making for over 40 years.

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (but I typically use all butter)
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

3 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon (mix these two ingredients in a separate bowl)

Combine sugar, butter, shortening and eggs.  Mix well.  Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and mix again.  Form dough into one inch balls.

Roll dough balls in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake 8-10 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Menu Monday on Tuesday and Applesauce Cake Recipe

It's Tuesday and I totally missed Monday's post.  We had chicken drama yesterday and I spent the whole day ourside being a referee.  Yeesh...

This week is a bit different.  My mother in law is visiting and she has supplied us with her extra food and the mechanic will be gone a bit later in the week taking her to the city and catching her flight home.

But we still gotta eat so here's the plan:

Breakfast - Eggs (on toast and burritos), overnight oats and homemade granola

Lunch and Dinner - Smothered burritos, beans on toast, and pizza bites

Snacks and Dessert - Applesauce cake and snickerdoodles

All of it sounds so yummy!  While I have all the ingredients out I will make some quick mixes with the applesauce cake, snickerdoodles and pizza bites.

Here is my favorite recipe for Applesauce Cake.  It's wonderful with cream cheese frosting and I change it up by using cannned pumpkin.  I also use pumpkin pie or apple pie spice instead of measuring out all the spices each time.

Applesauce Cake

2 1/2 c flour
2 c sugar 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda and baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups applesauce
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Grease a 9x13 dish and bake 60 minutes at 350 degrees.  Easy and Delicious!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Homestead Happenings September 14

Every Wednesday I will  post what kept me busy during the week and share my pictures.  I admit, technically we do not live on a homestead but we have the mindset of one.  We endeavor to use our land and animals to sustain us and growing each year in faith, knowledge and developing a deeper, self-sustaining lifestyle.

It has finally been a relaxing week and I feel good (I knew that I would now)!  This past week I completely slowed down and enjoyed hanging out with Stormy and homeschooling and becoming a new chick owner.  So far we have four tiny, fuzzy butts in our hen house.

Horrible lighting and a fighting mama hen makes for a bad photo.

We started to clean up our yard and I dumped some leave in with the chickens.  They loved scratching through the pile.  I also started gathering up my flower pots to see if I can  harvest any seeds for next year.

With life so easy it was simple to keep up on fermenting the chicken feed and baking egg shells to feed back to them.
Free source of calcium.

Fermented feed saves money and is healthier for the chickens.
The past two days I have been taking inventory on our eBay store and started listing Christmas music.  So while I should be working on this...
I keep getting distracted by this, which is what I see whenever I look up from my computer...
Hen house and I know there are new chicks in there...
 So I made a big cup of this to keep me focused.  Mmmmm, english toffee cappuccino...
And I got to indulge in my love of Christmas music in September.  I just do not believe that wonderful songs like Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring should be limited to a season or anything by Trans-Siberian Orchestra should ever be limited.
Christmas music 

A very good week.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Menu Monday - Quinoa Lentil Chili Recipe

It's Menu Monday or the day in which I contemplate what my family will eat this week.  We have most of the leftovers eaten from the freezer so it's back to the pantry.  I may do a bit of restocking in the pantry this month.  The freeze on our funds is over, the eBay case that went into dispute was found in our favor so I no longer need to sit on all our extra funds.  

Breakfast:  yogurt with oats, nuts and dried fruits, eggs and toast, breakfast burritos

Lunch and Dinners:  Spicy Quinoa Chili, beans on toast,  turkey sandwiches,  beans and rice

Snacks and Desserts:  ice cream, fried bread with honey, rhubarb crisp

I decided to share my recipe for Spicy Quinoa Chili.  We love it and it's healthy and frugal.  Be warned that it makes a large pot!  I like eat it as a dip with tortilla chips but this week we are eating it over fried bread, topped with shredded cheese and raw onions.


Spicy Quinoa Lentil Chili (adapted from gracefulabandon.com)

1/2 TBSP oil - I like coconut oil for high heat
1/4 cup diced onion (or dehydrated from food storage)
1 1/2 cup lentils - rinsed and soaked if you remember
1 cup quinoa - rinsed
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1/2 - 1 TBSP chili powder - but I use more
1 tsp cayenne or to taste - I use more
1/2 TBSP tumeric
1 TBSP smoked paprika
1 tsp pepper
1-3 tsp salt - to taste depends on your the broth you use
1/2 TBSP oregano
8 cups broth or water or a mix.  
1 lb ground meat or 2 cups pre cooked beans

I just dump everything in my crock pot in whatever order I find my ingredients.  Here is the instructions if you want to make it on the stove top.

1.  Heat soup pot with oil, add minced garlic and onion.  Stir until fragrant.
2.  Add in quinoa cook with garlic and onions for 2 minutes.
3.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and add in lentils.
4.  Add in spices and stir.
5.  Add in 8 cups of liquids.
6.  Add in ground meat or beans
7.  Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.  This makes a thick chili and if you would like it thinner add more liquids.

Optional toppings:  sour cream or greek yogurt, cheese, onions, parsley, jalapenos

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Frugal Reading List for September

Ahhhh, I love reading books in the Fall season.   Blustery winds and rainy days make it easy to curl up with a book and eat everything pumpkin flavored.

My new read aloud book with Stormy is On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We just finished Little House on the Prairie and are moving on through the series.
I am still reading Dune by Frank Hebert.  Almost to the halfway mark and still enjoying it very much.  Before bed I am reading Grace in Africa by Kay Marshall Strom.  My book is actually on the Kindle that I downloaded free.  So far I am enjoying it as a guilty pleasure romance read, set in the time of the African slave trade.  I finished Trance-formation of America and have not chosen a new non-fiction book yet.
If I can finish up these two books this month I will be satisfied.  Next month is soon enough to pick out something more educational.
'cuse the language but too cute not to use

My Frugal Reading List for September

Ahhhh, I love reading books in the Fall season.   Blustery winds and rainy days make it easy to curl up with a book and eat everything pumpkin flavored.

My new read aloud book with Stormy is On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We just finished Little House on the Prairie and are moving on through the series.
I am still reading Dune by Frank Hebert.  Almost to the halfway mark and still enjoying it very much.  Before bed I am reading Grace in Africa by Kay Marshall Strom.  My book is actually on the Kindle that I downloaded free.  So far I am enjoying it as a guilty pleasure romance read set in the time of the African slave trade.  I finished Trance-formation of America and have not chosen a new non-fiction book yet.
If I can finish up these two books this month I will be satisfied.  Next month is soon enough to pick out something more educational.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Frugal Friday and Homestead Happenings!

Wowza, what a busy week we had.  Apparently way to busy to do a Homestead Happenings post on Wednesday so I am combining it with Frugal Friday, which works because it all melds together for this family.

I finished up all my canning projects.  My water bath and pressure canners are all cleaned up and polished waiting for next year.  My goal was to use up every canning jar in the house and this year it was close.  I am left with one case of quart jars and one pint and a half jar.  That's it!  I'm not sad about the quart jars because I will use them for fermenting foods like yogurt and beets when I harvest the last of them from my garden.  

I was able to process all the frozen foods out of our large freezer and unplug that energy sucking machine down.  I dehydrated the frozen veggies I had and vacuum sealed the flours and let's just say then animals are eating very well this week.
Dehydrated veggies from freezer

Expensive flours and nuts vacuumed packed.
It  was our anniversary this month so we did our typical date.  I love a road trip so we always take an exploration drive.  This year we did it in the mechanics "Big Truck" and took a drive on the beach and then around the North Fork which is a beautiful drive up the mountain on dirt roads looking at Fall colors.  We also picked up lunch from our favorite take out but not until the next day.
Stormy learning to drive Big Truck on beach.

Driving all by herself!

Anchor Point Beach on a cloudy day.

North Fork Road.

My mother in law is up visiting for the rest of the month so we are slowing down enough to enjoy spending time with her and this week I am anxiously awaiting the birth of chicks.  Both our broody hens should be hatching their eggs soon but I gotta admit they are terrible broody hens.  Many a night I have to chase them on the right nest after finding cold eggs.  If any chicks are actually born, it will be a miracle.
Lazy Wolf Dog

Not a frugal pet but very good company.