Advantages to Choosing a Home Birth

Today, I’m going to revisit a topic that I haven’t written about in a long while: childbirth!

You may by now be getting the idea that I like to do a lot of things close to home- home-grown food, home-grown music, homeschooling- why not a home birth too?

Believe it or not, I was once not so crunchy. I used to think that those who wanted to have their babies at home were nutcases endangering the lives of their children. No access to medication? What if something happened? I couldn’t understand the appeal.


However, due to a situation out of our control, we were pregnant with my first son with no insurance, no medicaid qualification, and no way to possibly pay out of pocket for a hospital birth. It led us to look into our options in ways we hadn’t considered before.

After doing a lot of research and interviewing several home-birthing women and a midwife, we found that there were actually many benefits to a home birth that I would not receive in a hospital. I would like to share some of those, because if you’re not into the idea of home birth or natural birth already, it’s not always immediately obvious why someone would choose this option.

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My two favorite guys after our first home birth.

Let me be clear: This post is not meant to discuss every possible pro, con, and controversy surrounding a home birth setting. Also, not everyone can or should have a home birth. However, for those who are good candidates and who would like to pursue the option, there are some real advantages.

1) Personal Care. My midwife knew who I was every visit.  She remembered my face, my name, my children (after having them, of course). She was sensitive to my individual quirks, fears, hopes, and passions. She knew my health history in a more detailed way than a big practice provider does. (I believe this is a safety plus- I have heard of more than one incidence where a health care provider missed a crucial part of a patient’s history because of lack of time to know and remember every patient’s health details.)

2) Low-Tech, High Touch Care. Home birth midwives are more likely to use their hands, their minds, and simple external tests to tell you things that a large hospital-based practice would be more likely to check on by administering a test. For example, an experienced midwife can tell the position of your baby in utero by gently feeling your belly, vs. a busy provider who would prefer to perform an internal exam or send you for an ultrasound to tell the baby’s position. I prefer the less invasive, gentler forms of checking on my baby and my health whenever possible.

3) Affordable Care. We all know that hospital and large practice costs are blown out of proportion  in order to adjust for insurance coverage. For example, my Group B Strep test with my son cost me $19 out of pocket. I administered it myself in my bathroom at home. My sister-in-law found a $119 charge on her bill for the exact same test that she had to go into the office for. My most recent home birth cost $2200 for the global cost of maternity care- prenatal, birth, and postpartum. Our local hospital costs about $12,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth alone.

4) Physiologic Birth. Midwives employ natural techniques for allowing your labor and birth to progress in a normal, physiologic fashion. For example, a midwife would encourage positional changes during pushing to help your baby to rotate, descend, and crown, vs. a hospital setting where you would likely be confined to your back for pushing- a position proven to close the pelvis and make pushing more difficult for the mother. Natural comfort measures would be utilized instead of drug usage whenever possible, thus reducing risk to mother and baby. Employing techniques to make your birth more physiologic makes for a safer, more comfortable birth.

5) More Options. Want to push on your hands and knees? Want to have your husband help catch the baby? Want to try water to labor in? Want to light candles and play music?  Want to avoid an episiotomy? Want to go for a walk around the neighborhood in labor? Unless you have a very progressive hospital, these options are hard to come by outside of a home birth. Hospital policies, infection control, multiple patients, and liability concerns all curb your options significantly.

6) Peaceful Setting. This may not seem like a very important advantage. After all, a safe birth setting is more important than a peaceful setting any day- but that doesn’t mean that they are mutually exclusive! A peaceful setting can contribute to a calmer mother, less need for medication, less physical and emotional stress during labor, and a quicker and easier birth. While it is not guaranteed, a peaceful birth setting can contribute to making the whole experience safer and more pleasant.

7) Family Continuity. My son played in the living room with his aunt while I pushed out my daughter in the kitchen. There was no separation, no need for frantically juggling babysitters, no great mystery to explain to him when I brought my daughter home. He knew what was happening (mommy was working on getting the baby out), got to meet her right away, and had a relatively easy transition into brotherhood. Of course there is always an adjustment, but I felt that our bumps in the road were relatively few.

8) Strong Safety Record. Most people associate home birth with the practices of 100 years ago, with maternal and fetal death being quite common. If we still lived in that world, I probably wouldn’t be recommending a home birth to you at all! Today, however, midwives can combine time-honored birthing traditions, natural remedies, and the best of today’s knowledge of safe birthing practices in order to bring you a safer, more pleasant birth in the comfort of your home.

The best studies show that home birth is as safe as hospital birth when 1) you hire a qualified midwife (I’ll write another post on this sometime!) , 2) you are a low-risk mother (no pre-eclampsia, uncontrolled gestational diabetes, no hip injuries, multiple VBAC, etc.), and 3) you live within 15-30 minutes of a hospital prepared to do emergency procedures. (Not all hospitals are equipped to do an immediate cesarean, so make sure yours is!)

veritybirth3 Meeting my lovely little gal after our second home birth. (Many thanks to Emily of Sweet Moments Photography for this gorgeous photo!)

A home birth is definitely not right for everyone, but for some women, it can be a good and safe option. Home birth mamas- what led you to have your babies at home?

Learn about the real advantages that would lead someone to choose a home birth over a hospital birth.

(This collage shows my three babies as newborns. Aren’t they sweet?)

Glorious Potato Patties (Made from the Best Mashed Potatoes)

This post should be called “potato patties, a.k.a. heaven in a pan, gently heated to a golden crisp.” Or at least something like that.

Potato patties are, in my mind, the absolute best way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. Sure, you could reheat them in their original state or put them atop of a casserole, but why do that when the angels could be singing over these glorious beauties?

The best mashed potatoes, and the best way to use up the leftovers. It's easy and amazing.


Of course, in order to make delicious potato patties, you must start with delicious mashed potatoes. Now is the time to bid farewell to any mashed potato powder in a box. No longer will you tolerate the texture of pasty bland fluff. You are moving on to truer and purer things.

The process for great mashed potatoes is simple:

  1. Peel potatoes & chop into 1-2″ chunks
  2. Place chunks in boiling water
  3. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. Drain water.
  5. Add REAL butter, milk, salt, & pepper. How much? That’s up to you, but I’m pretty generous myself. I usually add a whole stick of butter for about every eight medium potatoes, then pour in a little milk at a time while I mash until the consistency is right. Next, I salt and pepper it and taste it til it’s yummy. I might even double dip. (Shhhh…)
  6. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Blend them with a beater if you must, but I prefer my taters a bit chunky.

That’s it! Real mashed potatoes are very simple to make and far surpass any box you could buy. The only problem with making them yourself is that you’ll no longer take joy in most restaurant mashed potatoes because your own are so much better.

Now, for the best part of mashed potatoes: the LEFTOVERS!

Here’s how you make The Ever Glorious and Delightful Golden Potato Patty. It’s even easier than the mashed potatoes.

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a cast-iron skillet. Make sure the pan gets thoroughly heated.
  2. Drop rounded spoonfuls of leftover mashed potatoes into the skillet. Flatten to about 1/2″ thick with the back of your spoon.
  3. Flip when the bottom of the patties is turning golden-brown and crispy.
  4. When both sides are golden, they’re ready to eat!

Potato patties are delicious with eggs in the morning, as part of lunch or dinner, or as a late-night snack. They really do make me deliriously happy. Don’t we all need a little bit of that in our lives? 😉

Go forth and eat potatoes.

This has to be the best way to eat the best mashed potatoes. Be still, my heart.

Which Homestead Projects are Right for You?

The whole idea of building a self-sufficient homestead can seem really appealing, but it can also quickly become overwhelming. Grow your food, raise your food, build your home, preserve your food, build off grid systems, switch heat sources, cut your own rags, etc., etc., etc. Does anyone really do it all???

Which Homestead Projects are Right for You

I usually get the bug to take on a few projects–generally, those that are food-related. I like cooking good food, canning what my hubby grows, helping to process maple syrup…  But even those few things can feel like too much when I’m also trying to wrangle three kids, homeschool, and keep up with daily responsibilities.


This year has been a lesson in burn-out for me. I’m coming to realize how important it is to keep our project lists manageable.

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(A porch rebuild project that my husband completed in under 3 weeks.)

In our house, we each generally have responsibility for certain projects. I tend to do food preservation and general animal care; my husband tends to do food growing, butchering, and building/renovation projects. Of course, there are many jobs that wouldn’t get done without each other’s help. There are jobs at which we fail miserably. And of course, there are many projects that we don’t take on at all!

So how do you choose which projects you should take on?

  1. Research before you begin. Do a lot of reading/video watching/pro-con weighing before you bring home an animal or rent an excavator. It’s good to know what you’re getting into before you start.
  2. Think about your skill sets. Say you’ve always really wanted to make your own clothes out of scrap material but every sewing project you’ve ever taken on comes out looking like a 3rd grader made it. (No, I’m not talking about me at all. Why do you ask?) Let’s put it this way: you can take advantage of the skills you already have (like cooking or gardening) while responsibly outsourcing the ones you have yet to learn (like sewing or woodworking).
  3. Be willing to learn new skills. The above being said, it’s totally great to work on learning new skills for a project, and there are some that nearly anyone could tackle successfully. Water bath canning, for instance, is pretty simple, and can be learned in an afternoon. My husband learned a lot of new things when he essentially rebuilt our porch and garage. Don’t be afraid to try something new– just don’t feel like you have to learn every new skill under the sun.
  4. Consider time restraints. I don’t care how many blogs you read– you have to realize that in real life, these people are not doing everything all the time. Consider your priorities, and make time only for what’s really important to you. When you are able, you can still enjoy trying something new without the pressure of making it a regular commitment.
  5. Budget your resources. How much money does a project require? Which materials do you have on hand and which will you have to purchase? Do you need a certain amount of land? Think through your needs before you get in over your head.
  6. Be realistic. I struggle with this. I want to it all, then I get burnt out while trying to do it all. There’s an ebb and flow to life, and you must remember that it’s totally okay– and even very good– to not bite off more than you can chew.
  7. Remember that it’s not a competition. Maybe this is silly, but sometimes I experience Little House on the Prairie Jealousy Syndrome (LHPJS). For some reason I want to be off in an off-grid cabin in the woods somewhere, and I can’t help but feeling a little bit of longing when I see someone else already there. But there are no awards for how homesteady you are, and everyone’s story is different.

(Our goat was quite the learning curve!)

It can be wholesome, invigorating, and- yes- very beneficial to pursue projects in the name of self-sufficiency!  But remember, you don’t have to do everything. Start small, try one new thing at a time, and go from there.

Just a note: You can actually learn a lot by getting into an overwhelming homestead venture. So if you find yourself in that position, take heart and don’t give up too quickly! You might just end up really proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Have you ever gotten in over your head? Have you had a proud new project moment? Tell me about your experiences in the comments. 

P.S.- It’s not too late to join our February Decluttering Challenge on Instagram! Why am I decluttering? So I can have more time for the projects and people that I really want to be spending my time on. Jump in here.

Free Ways to Organize Your Stuff

The stuff monster lives at my house.

The stuff monster likes to scatter itself all over my living room floor and pile itself behind cabinets. It likes to stack up high on top of desks and counter tops. It has a sweet way of convincing me that no, I don’t need to put it in its proper place right now. It can always wait til tomorrow… or the next day… or the next…

Anyone else have this problem?Free Ways to Organize Your Stuff


Honestly, I don’t CARE all that much about having a perfect house. However, what bothers me is how much stress the clutter creates and how much time I devote to dealing with it. I have animals & kids to feed, homeschool to accomplish, and music to practice. Ain’t nobody got time to wade through piles of junk all day long.

I confess- I’m not too good at keeping up on stuff and I’m not a natural-born homemaker. Surprise me by showing up at my house any given day and you’ll see what I mean.

Bottom line: I am sorely unqualified to give you any cleaning or organization advice. I stink at it. I need help.

However, I am working towards creating solutions that actually help me to function better on a daily basis. To me, that’s the best part of having a clean house.

Note: The less stuff you have, the less monstrous the stuff monster seems. Clearing out makes organizing a lot easier. Try this minimalist challenge if you’re looking for a fun way to kick-start your purging. I could stand to do it every month.

My husband, Tim, soulmate and amazing man that he is, has a mean organization game and can make a room really nice if given the time to work on it. One of my hubby’s trademarks is to re-purpose free things. What he can’t find for free, he DIY’s as cheaply as possible.

This also applies to our attempts at containing the stuff monster. I’ll show you some of the ways Tim created storage and organization solutions out of things that we already had laying around our house. You may not have all of the same things available, but hopefully this list can serve as inspiration for your own home.

I’m going to focus primarily on kid’s stuff, since that’s one of our biggest clutter culprits. However, a lot of ideas in this post could be used in any area that needs a little extra help!

Without further ado, here are some cheap or free ways to organize All the Things. (Note: Pictures are from our play/school room, and I did NOT do any special cleaning for these photos. Keeping it real, man.)

Baskets & bins: You know all those cube shelves and corresponding boxy baskets? They’re kind of pricey, aren’t they? Thankfully, you can fit things into baskets and bins of varying sizes. You are not limited to a cube. 😉 Here are some free or cheap alternatives:

  • Thrift store baskets
  • Homemade crates out from scrap wood or pallets.
  • Re-purposed wooden bins, plastic crates, wire baskets, or any other container you can find.

In fact, it doesn’t have to be anything special. As long as it holds things, then you can dress it up as a storage basket.

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Thrift store basket & old crates from my dad at the kids’ desk.

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A wire basket inherited from my grandpa holds toys.

Cabinets & Shelving

Instead of buying special new cabinets for your toys, look for ways to re-purpose old furniture. Could you use a side-of-the-road bookshelf or TV cabinet for storage? How about turning a yard sale dresser into toy drawers? An old desk with drawers could become a child’s crafting supply storage and work space. Lots can be done with a little creativity.

Using an old kitchen cupboard o organize kids' stuff

Side of the road kitchen cupboards serve as storage cabinets for our kids’ stuff.

Storage Caddies & Containers

Who says you need specialty caddies to organize the little things? Here’s some of what we use to keep the small stuff contained.

  • Old tins
  • Oatmeal containers
  • An old ammo box
  • A mini-filing cabinet
  • Wooden or metal trays (We like to re-use the wooden display cases from Melissa & Doug toys- like this one.)

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A filing cabinet holding dress-up clothes.

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A wall-mounted, homemade little box holds papers above the kids’ desk for easy access.

Shelving: You could buy cheap-o shelf units, but if you have access to tools you can build your own custom shelves. My husband took advantage of a little nook between our chimney and the wall to build a shelving unit for our music books.

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(Sorry for the blurry photo…)

Hanging Up: Snag a pack of Command hanging strips and double your walls as art and storage space. My hubby has hung up a whiteboard, an ukulele, and a gigantic book with these things. For a few bucks, it gets the stuff off the ground and up where everyone can see it and enjoy it.

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The kids’ reading and writing station. Cause who needs a perfectly white white board?

There’s lots of ways to organize things for free. What do you like to use? Share your genius in the comments!

P.S. Follow me on Instagram for a February decluttering challenge!

For more organization ideas in a variety of areas, check out these posts:

How to Get Organized and Save Money from Ever Change Productions
Ordering Seeds, Stay Organized from Little Sprouts Learning
Organizing Tips for the Unorganized from Home Again, Jiggity Jig!
How to Organize Your Life When You Are Not from The Peculiar Treasure Blog

Why Use Herbal Soaps?

Soap is one of those things that we all use in some capacity. Maybe you like to find it as cheap as you can. Maybe you like to make your soap as “natural” as possible. You might even view your soap as an opportunity for promoting health as well as cleanliness!

Why Use Herbal Soaps2

My real-life friend Corinne began making her own soaps in pursuit of a healthier alternative to conventional soap. I bought a bar from her because I wanted to support her mom-trepreneurial endeavors through her new business, Metta-Physical.


Corinne’s panna soap is made of all organic honey, jasmine-infused sweet almond oils, jasmine essential oil, and dried jasmine buds. The honey provides lots of moisture for dry skin, and jasmine is said to be both anti-bacterial and an anti-depressant.

My panna soap smelled delightful- like a floral garden in spring bloom, surrounded by the warmth of gooey honey. It was smooth and soothing on the honey side, and exfoliating and refreshing on the jasmine bud side. It was perfect for a quiet bath after the kids were in bed.

And besides, isn’t this thing gorgeous?

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So, the soap is lovely. But what exactly is better about an herbal soap over a conventional soap? Why use essential oil in soap instead of regular fragrance? Why should I buy a fancy bar over the cheap stuff at the store?

I wanted to know more about Corinne’s ingredients and her soap-making process. I asked her a few questions so we all could learn more.

Abi: First, tell us what made you interested in making your own soaps.

Corinne: I never would have thought I would be making soaps, until I started my oiling journey. I was skeptical about a lot of information out there regarding essential oils and it took me some time to even start using the Young Living Essential Oil kit that I bought that sat on my counter for weeks. For some reason, people like to make it sound a lot more difficult than it really is. So I took it upon myself to start learning more. After all, what would I have to lose?

After implementing and then experiencing a healthier dynamic, both mental and physical, I become very intrigued to learn more. I started by taking all the processed soaps, bath products, lotions, cleaning chemicals out of the equation and trying to formulate my own through research. My soaps are progressing with time but one thing that remains true: I will never use a store brand again.

A: What kind of ingredients do you use in your homemade soaps?

C: I have been experimenting with many exotic ingredients and many basic herbs as well. Since the start of my oiling journey until the peak of my interest, I decided I needed to further my education in aromatherapy, anatomy and physiology. Experimenting with some exotic ingredients is cool….but learning how to fully utilize them for maximum benefits is another thing.

For example, Metta Physical’s Arhat “Lavender-Sage” Bars include an ingredient called Arjuna Bark Powder. The bark powder of the Arjuna tree that we put in the soaps at Metta serves as an astringent, and a sweet, cooling expectorant with Vitamins C & E for your skin!

A: What exactly is an herbal infusion?

C: We take all of our herbs and infuse them in Sweet Almond Oil for all of our soaps. (We use Sweet Almond Oil for its many skin care benefits.) The process of infusion can take 10 hours or as long as 6 weeks.

We gather our herbs and place them in a Mason jar, leaving enough room for the Sweet Almond Oil. For the slow process, we let the herbs sit on the window sill for six weeks until the oil gathers all the beneficial properties from the herbs. For quicker infusion, we can create a hot bath for the herbs and heat them for 10 hours to produce the same results. After this process we strain all the oil from the herbs and we are left with an even more beneficial and therapeutic oil for our products.

A: How can herbs in soap benefit the user?

C: After doing research on different cosmetic soaps, I was pretty shocked at the chemicals we are not aware we are using on a daily basis. A lot of these chemicals can be drying and lead to skin allergies as well. Aiding infections and exacerbating skin diseases, these chemical soaps also clog the pores of the skin and hamper the cells from breathing. Moreover, chemical soaps have animal fat and lack the essential oils from plant extract which give a natural and pleasing aroma.

My herbal soaps are 100% organic and offer plant extracts that soothe the body and the mind, relieve stress and tension, all while providing some intoxicating aromatherapy. You will see a difference in your skins appearance if you have battles with eczema and psoriasis. Even if your skin doesn’t need soothing from either, you will notice how emotionally balanced you will feel after using natural, herbal soaps.

A: I noticed you also use essential oils in your soap. What is the advantage of using essential oils in your soap over conventional fragrances?

C: Conventional fragrance oils are synthetic and do not contain any therapeutic benefits. Many people are even allergic to fragrance oils and they can cause skin irritations. Fragrance oils are also made up of a long list of various chemicals– often including essential oils with little regard for the natural qualities that make these oils so precious. I am more aware to the fact that sometimes we just do not know the extent of the chemicals used to produce a product and that is very scary.

Each true essential oil, on the other hand, comes with its own therapeutic benefits. Essential oil benefits come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Since I have incorporated the true essence of essential oils, our immune systems have been the strongest this cold and flu season yet!

A: What’s your favorite part of soap-making?

C: My favorite part is knowing I am completely free to concoct something that will make someone else feel good or knowing I can help with a certain aliment someone might have by placing the right herbs and essential oils together. Sometimes I feel like I am in the kitchen cooking dinner when I am creating soaps…..except when I am done, I cannot lick the spoon!

Panna Bar

It was such a pleasure talking about the soaps with Corinne, and I learned a few new things myself!

Why use herbal soaps? Here’s the recap:

  • Each individual herb and essential oil has unique benefits for the user.
  • By using a soap with healthy ingredients, you are avoiding the risks associated with long-term exposure to mystery chemicals.
  • If you’re buying from an individual like Corinne, you are supporting a small business!

Metta-Physical is currently working on developing a website, but until then, you can order your own special herbal soap (and check out other awesome herbal products!) from Corinne here on her Facebook page. 🙂

 

 

Pumpkin Chili, Three Ways: Beans, Beef, or Venison

I owe my pumpkin chili to my friend Alexis. She introduced me to this glory about three years ago at her daughter’s birthday party. I was there early and was helping to throw ingredients into a crock pot for her when she asked me to add a can of pumpkin to the onions and peppers cooking up in the bottom.

Pumpkin?!? In chili?

The idea seemed novel to me then. However, in the three years since I tried it, I’ve never gone back to making pumpkin-less chili.


A quick, healthy, and flexible staple meal to sustain you through the cold months. Try this delicious pumpkin chili with beans, beef, or venison.

I began making my own rendition of pumpkin chili, and it’s one meal that my whole family generally gobbles up. (I can’t make promises for the toddler.)  We have some variation of this chili almost every week through the winter!

If you’re hesitant about the pumpkin, fear not. It gets an extra vegetable in and rounds out the flavor nicely, but it doesn’t scream “YOU’RE EATING SQUASH!!!” from the pot. I took this chili to  a chili taste-off once, and I had a few comments something to the effect of, “I really hate pumpkin and if I had known it was in this I wouldn’t have tried it but I didn’t know and I tried it and I really like it and good job sneaking in the pumpkin.” Except maybe they didn’t speak in run-on sentences. 😉

You can decide how you like your chili: meatless or meaty. I started out making this as a vegetarian chili, and it stands alone as a very hearty meatless meal. Over the years, however, we’ve discovered that the recipe is very flexible. Beef is another obvious choice for this chili, but we’ve recently been enjoying it with chopped venison. Absolutely delicious.

Some of the veggies for a delicious pumpkin chili.

(Some of the veggies for the chili. I added some random kale this last time.)

Please feel free to add or subtract ingredients according to your personal preferences. Here it goes…

  • Your choice: 2- 3 cans of beans (I like to use a mix of black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and/or great northern beans), 1 pound of ground beef, OR 1 lb of chopped or ground venison.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 bell peppers, any color
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-32 oz. can tomatoes, diced or stewed, with juices.
  • 1-15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1- 15. oz can corn

If you’re using beans: drain and rinse beans and set aside.

If you’re using beef: cook beef over medium high heat until brown. Season with salt and pepper. Drain fat and set aside.

If you’re using venison: cook over medium high heat with salt, pepper, and butter or olive oil. You won’t need to drain venison. Set aside to add later.

Venison going into our pumpkin chili.

(Browned venison, ready to go in the pot!)

Now, for the rest of the chili:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large pot. Saute onions, peppers, and garlic for about 5-10 minutes or until tender. Add spices and cook for just a minute til fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, and corn. (You can throw in other veggies too if you like them.)
  3. Add beans or meat of your choice and let simmer for 20 minutes or longer.

Give it a taste after a while. You may find that you want to add another teaspoon of one spice or another.

If this chili is too thick for you, you are welcome to add vegetable or beef stock if desired. However, I love a good, thick, chunky chili, so I leave mine as is. Here’s a bad cell phone picture of the bean version:

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As you can see, it’s delightfully chunky even without the meat!

There you have it, folks. A simple, healthy, and delicious dinner for a fall or winter warm-up. Make it one of your staples!

10 Reasons to Get Meat Rabbits

Meat rabbits! If you’re new to home-butchering, the idea of raising a rabbit just to eat it probably sounds off-putting. However, there are many reasons why meat rabbits are a perfect choice for the hobby farmer looking to get into home meat production.

Before I begin typing this, I must tell you a secret: I don’t personally care for owning meat rabbits. I keep trying to convince my husband to sell them all off and use the money for getting another goat or perhaps a sheep. I promise I’ll share why in another post- but for now, let’s look at the positives. 🙂

10 Reasons to Get Meat Rabbits

  1. Rabbits are an inexpensive investment. Meat rabbits cost relatively little. A registered goat can easily cost $200-400 a pop, and pig and cattle certainly aren’t cheap. However, rabbits can be found for about $40-60 for a breeding pair. (We got our pair for $25, but that’s unusual!) You can also purchase a breeding trio- one buck and two does- so you can alternate breeding with two different mamas.
  2. They don’t take up much space. You don’t need acres and acres to raise rabbits. All you need is a small hutch (or hutches) to house each rabbit. FYI- if you’re new to this, don’t keep your male and female live together on a regular basis. There’s a reason for the phrase “breed like rabbits.”
  3. They don’t make noise. Rabbits are usually silent. Enough said.
  4. They have one of the shortest birth to processing times. Rabbits can be processed at 8-12 weeks old. Each litter requires a relatively brief time commitment.
  5. They produce the most lean protein per dollar spent out of any meat animal. Or so they tell me. Honestly, I don’t know where this statistic is from, but I remember hearing it many times when we were researching rabbits. (Tell me if it’s true, will you?) However, with litters averaging 6-10 kits and each rabbit averaging about 4 lbs, it’s easy to see that there’s a potential for a lot of meat. We average about 24-40 lbs with each successful breeding.
  6. You don’t need expensive equipment for butchering. My husband uses a pellet gun for dispatch and a good knife for skinning and gutting. (There are other methods for dispatch, but we find the pellet gun to be simple and humane.) Also, rabbits are pretty light (3-5 lbs), so you don’t need any fancy hooks or a big space to hang them for processing like you would a larger animal.
  7. They can mow your lawn for you. You read that right. Check out this post to see what I mean. I would recommend, however, making sure that the bottom fencing on your DIY rabbit mower is strong and regularly inspected. If you didn’t know this already, rabbits are good at digging.
  8. Rabbits are a free fertilizer factory. Rabbits poop. A lot. And that poop is hailed as gold for your garden. If you raise rabbits, you can collect those golden nuggets (ahem) for compost and fertilizing. Now you know.
  9. Care is relatively easy. All you have to do occasional cleaning & daily fresh food and water. Bonus: Rabbits love vegetable ends, so they also take care of food scraps for you!
  10. They taste good. It’s true- rabbits taste somewhat like chicken. You can make roast rabbit, rabbit stew, or pretty much any chicken meal that with rabbit meat.

There you have it. 10 reasons to get meat rabbits for your own homestead. Are there any other reasons that you can think of?

One Month of Frugal Meals

Happy New Year! Now that it’s 2017, let’s all eat healthy, spend less, exercise daily, and tackle the world. 😉 I know one of my big goals is to whittle down my grocery bill a bit. Of course, that’s easier done when there’s a little inspiration to help a sister out.

An entire month of frugal meals for planning and inspiration!

To start off your new year right, I present to you, a month of frugal meals! The following round up includes:

  • 6 breakfast ideas
  • 4 meat recipes
  • 5 chicken meals
  • 11 soups & stews, with and without meat
  • 2 miscellaneous meatless mains
  • 9 extras (snacks, bread, drinks, etc.)

That means that this one post has 28 meals. There. Considering that you’ll likely eat out or eat leftovers for at least a few nights, your budget-friendly meal planning for the month of January is DONE. Am I right?

Some of the posts have more than one meal idea (easy chicken meals on the fly, homemade cereal recipes, etc.), so you can be flexible with them. If you don’t eat meat, many of these recipes can be made with a substitution.

A Month of Frugal Meals 

grownupgreeneggsandham

Eggs & Breakfast

beanhole

Meats

cornishpasties

Poultry & Fish

HamandBeanSoup

Soups & Stews

Meatless

cheesecrisps

Snacks & Breads

kombucha

Beverages 

dillpickledressing

Condiments, Toppings, Etc. 

That’s it for now! What will you try first?

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2016 Year in Review

2016! You are almost over! And while the year has certainly had its negatives, let me take a moment to highlight the positives from our personal life.

  • Last year, spring, we took a big risk and transitioned largely to teaching and making music for our income. We built a home music studio in our garage. I took on an extra night teaching voice lessons. We started teaching local music classes at a community center and started playing more gigs out. And somehow, we’ve still been able to make our budget every month.
  • We have completed almost half of our first real year of homeschool and we haven’t died yet.
  • The homestead was largely a disaster this year. And you know what? I. don’t. care. I spent a while feeling guilty about it, but I’ve decided that there should be no more comparison to some mysterious standard I think I have to live up to. We made a lot of mistakes and failures this year, but we will get back to it. And everything will be okay!
  • We have been so blessed this year by several huge money-saving boons… A van bought at a public auction at half price. A large portion of venison given to us by hunting friends. Gifts of meals brought over here and there by family. Free babysitting. You know who you all are. Thank you a gazillion times over.
  • We’ve been learning to say no to extraneous commitments that are hard on our family without feeling too guilty. I can’t say enough about how good this has been for us.

Of course, there have also been many struggles. Over the past year we’ve dealt with a lot of uncertainty and worry– not to mention I always feel like I’m on the verge of survival mode. Pop over my house sometime and find me knee deep in chicken poop and toddler toys and dishes piled up high.

But that’s life, isn’t it? The new year makes me want to move on and forward.


Now, in the spirit of annual tradition, I shall proceed to give you the blog’s top ten most popular posts for 2016. Without further ado:

10. How to Make Catnip Tea– An herbal cold/flu remedy that’s easy to grow and prepare:

How to Make Catnip Tea

9. Distinguishing Elderberry from Dogwood– A guide to telling the difference between common look-alikes.

Elderberry-or-Dogwood

8. Easy Overnight Soaked Grain Bread – This really is an easy recipe that I’ve made over and over again for our house. Perfect for the night you realize you’re out of bread and you know your kids will be missing it in the morning.

Easy Overnight Soaked Grain Bread

7. How Can I Tell if My Rabbit is Pregnant? – Spoiler alert: It’s actually pretty difficult to tell. However, there are a few signs to watch for.

How to tell whether your doe has been bred successfully

6. How to Ferment Rhubarb (+ Probiotic Rhubab Lemonade Recipe)– Delicious, nutritious, and intriguing.

Fermented rhubarb is easy, healthy, and tasty too. Not convinced? Try this easy fermented rhubarb lemonade recipe!

5. Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!) – How to prevent tick bites without using dangerous chemicals.

Tick Bite Prevention (Naturally!)

4. Getting Started with Meat Rabbits– What do you need to start your own meat rabbit production? You’ll be pleased to know it’s fairly easy to begin!

Getting Started with Meat Rabbits

3.Meat Eaters Against Treating Poor Animals Like Meat– A silly post done in response to meat-eaters who are appalled by the perceived cruelty in processing an animal.

MEATPALM1

2. Apple-Honey Jelly (Made with Peels and Cores)– The first year this hasn’t been number one! How to make apple jelly using only peels, cores, water and, optionally, honey– no pectin required!

applehoneyjelly-682x1024

  1. How I Afford Being a Stay-at-Home Mom– My number one post this year was how I afford being a stay at home parent. Since writing it, my husband and I now split the load about 60/40, respectively– we both work part time to make up our (low) full time income. This is also a good arrangement for us. Our kids don’t need daycare and we are still able to homeschool. Hopefully the principles in this post will apply to a variety of family situations.

How to Afford Being a Stay at Home Parent

That’s it for today. 2017 is coming! Here’s to a fresh new year and a fresh start. Happy New Year!

The Secret of Saying “No”

I’m very much a “yes” girl at heart. Yes, I’ll volunteer for this and that fundraiser. Yes, I’ll be at the extra service this week. Yes, I’ll teach that extra class. Yes, I’ll sign up for extracurriculars. Yes, I’ll meet up at the coffee shop.

But this year, I’m learning to say “no” more than I ever have.

The Secret of Saying No

Image Credit


No, I’ve got to stay home this week to catch up. No, I’m sorry, teaching that class is actually going to take me away from other priorities. No, I can’t do this fundraiser this time, but I’d love to help next month.

It sometimes means saying no to a lot of good things. Sometimes it means missing out on something that I’d really like to be part of. Sometimes it means giving something up for a time so that I can refocus on other goals.

This year, we’ve said no to a couple of job possibilities that weren’t going to be a good fit for our family. We cut way back on our extracurricular school activities as we settled into our first real year of homeschool. I said no to attending births, no to multiple playdates, no to several homesteading projects, no to the commitment of regular blog posts, and no to teaching some lessons that weren’t fitting in my schedule.

I’m learning to say no to a multitude of self-inflicted pressures. No, my house doesn’t have to be clean today. No, I actually don’t have to make everything from scratch this month. No, I will not feel guilt over the lack of crunchy stuff going on in my life right now.

Happily, all of this gives me room to say yes to the things that matter most right now.  Yes to homeschool. Yes to a few dedicated music students. Yes to gigs that work well for our family. Yes to practicing voice. Yes to time at home together. Yes to reading, yes to drawing, yes to laying together and talking about our day.

Nothing is permanent, and I can always re-prioritize what commitments I choose to take on down the road. However, I can’t get back the time that I lose hustling and bustling and trying to do everything at once.

Here’s to saying yes to the things that matter most.