The ground is thawed! The ground is thawed! There’s chives and daffodils popping up! I see bugs in the house! (I know that last one shouldn’t make me so excited, but it does, because it means we’re finally in spring.)
The kids worked on their own little garden plot this week:
And my hubby has our seedlings going strong indoors under the grow light:
On to the pickins’ for this week:
Foraging for Dandelions– Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a great round up of posts for gathering and using dandelions in a number of edible and health-related ways. Delicious!
Frugal and Free Landscape and Garden– Tim made a short retaining fence this week out of sawed branches, and I think it looks nice too. Check out The Coastal Homestead’s ideas for more free and cheap ideas for your yard and garden.
We Quit Our Fridge– Spring Mountain Living has a great post on going without refrigeration. Whether or not you think this is a necessary sacrifice, the alternate storage possibilities are eye-opening! While I don’t know that I’ll be giving up my fridge any time soon, I find the possibility fascinating.
Why I’m a Coupon Drop-Out– I loved this post from April Tells All. I tried couponing a couple of times, and always felt that I didn’t really need the things I was buying. April tells of a better way- finding well-raised, fresh, whole products through frugal sources or by making them yourself to save money and still eat well.
That’s it for today, folks. Have a sunshiney Saturday!
I’m…. dreaming of a gree-eeen… spri-ing…. (Can you hear the tune to White Christmas in your head? Get on your Bing Crosby, everyone!)
I’ve been getting cabin fever with all this chilly weather, and I want nothing more than to get moving and active outside again. Yeah, I know I can still be active in the winter. But I’m such a cozy-upper- I want to surround myself with scarves and blankets and heaters- I have such a hard time dragging myself into the cold to get moving.
So in lieu of spring walks, weed pulling, stream-hiking, and other blood-pumping activities, I pulled out the incredible, amazing, fantastic…
(For some reason these kids kept bouncing and I couldn’t get a still picture of them!)
Well, the kids usurped my trampoline workout time, so here I am typing again instead… Alas. I shall just have to share with you this week’s pickins’.
How to Grow Luffas– What?!? Yes, you read that right. Did you know that luffas are actually the inside part of a gourd? This was absolutely fascinating to me! Head over to Little Sprouts Learning to read all about it.
While you do your reading, I’m off to brainstorm some other bouncy activity for myself. Have an energetic Saturday!
This week, walking through the grocery store, my son spied a box of Kix in the cereal aisle. “Ooh, mama,” he said, with a gleam in his eye, “Can we get these, please???”
All the reasons that cereal isn’t all that good for you flashed through my mind as I considered. The price below the box had no sale sticker on it, either. I hesitated. “It’s not on sale, J…”
“Please, mama?” J requested again, very sweetly, and without a hint of whining in his voice.
I held firm for a moment, not wanting to give into supermarket bargaining techniques. And then I thought to myself, Well, why the heck not? I so rarely give into my kid’s random snacking desires that I decided it wouldn’t do any harm- at least not when it’s done as a treat.
“Okay, we can get it this time, honey. It’s fine.”
J leapt out of the car cart, wrapped his arms around my legs, and said delightfully, “I love you, mama.”
“I love you too, J.” I replied. The woman across the aisle chuckled to herself, and I smiled to myself. “He loves me. I bought him Kix,” I informed the stranger.
Sometimes, I let go of my real foodie ideals and just enjoy the fun I have with this kiddo.
Speaking of groceries… here’s the first of your weekly reading!
My $170 Grocery Budget Challenge– And I thought my $280 was good! Shannon, a contributor on The Humbled Homemaker, shares how she managed to feed her family of four on $170 for a whole month. After hearing where she cut the corners to do it, I felt inspired to see if I could cut our budget a little more next month too. Shannon makes readers realize that most of us probably have more resources to make dinner than we think we do, if we will just be willing to sacrifice favorites and be a little more creative.
Transformed Talk– A written sermon of sorts on taming the tongue and using our words for edification, rather than the opposite. This particularly spoke to me this week and I wanted to share it with you.
The Deep Litter Method of Waste Management in Chicken Coops– The Chicken Chick lays out the dos and don’ts of the deep litter method for chicken coops. Essentially, you don’t clean out the coop on a regular basis. Instead, you continue to add more litter on top of the old stuff & the poop, and allow the litter and waste to compost throughout the season. Of course, you have to be careful about excess moisture, unturned litter, and other hazards of the method- read on if you’d like to know all the gory details!
Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of Fear in Childbirth-An old post from Lindsey of Passionate Homemaking. This has been a long time favorite of mine, and one that I would often pass on to my birth clients. Lindsey talks about how the pain in childbirth has a purpose, and how understanding that purpose takes away some of the mystery and fear of it all. She also has some wonderful ideas for how to change a fearful mindset towards childbirth. As it turns out, embracing the process can actually make it all a little easier!
Frigid wind chills have swept our region this week, and our poor hens have been hanging out inside most of the time. Us too, actually. Why go out more than you have to when you can snuggle inside in comfy sweatshirts and fleecy PJs?
Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
Things You Didn’t Know About Eggs – Here’s an interesting post on egg and layer facts. I actually really didn’t like a couple of things in this article, but sometimes the things that get me fired up make me want to share about it. One disturbing fact in this article was how many male chicks are killed by the laying industry yearly (can anyone say WASTEFUL?). The next was the quote on cholesterol… but did you know that high cholesterol in eggs is primarily a problem found in commercial layers? Which leads us to the next article…
Free Range Eggs: The Good Egg– From Mother Earth News. Did you know that free-range eggs have half the cholesterol of the typical store-bought egg, and many more times the nutrient? So perhaps the idea of too many eggs being bad for your health is born out of the unhealthy way we raise our commercial chickens. Things that make you go hmmm…. and one more reason to buy local farm-raised eggs or to raise your own.
Being Frank About Family Size– I really appreciated Sarah’s gracious, yet unapologetic approach to family size. We shouldn’t criticize the mother who wants eight children close together, nor the mother who wants only one or two. “The quiver is full with how many are in there,” she reminds us, and I couldn’t agree more. While you’re at it, check out I Was That Mother In The Grocery Store for a little courage in facing your daily routines with children who act like- uhhh- children.
We have been engaged with several family gatherings and celebrations over the past two weeks or so, hopping from my parents to my in-laws to my brother and sister in-laws who live five hours from us to back home again. It’s funny how after an extended hiatus from normal life, however, the body decides its time to let down its defenses and go ahead and get sick. Anyone else experience an internal system crash when you’re supposed to be on break?
While we and the kids are working on getting back to full speed, I’ll share some pictures with you from our holiday hullabaloo.
The kids, excited about my family’s generosity:
Fascinated with his new magnifying glass
Matching pajamas from a friend. Of course we couldn’t get them to smile at the same time!
Loving his new train village. The best part? It all goes back in one box pretty easily.
Four cousins in a tub. What could be more fun? Now that you’ve gotten to see all that, I’ll give you some Saturday reading material:
Learning to Live Without Walmart– One family’s list of current self-sufficiency accomplishments, projects, and future endeavors. This family is a bit further down the homesteading road than we are, but their goals inspired me to continue down the path a little further ourselves!
Teaching Kids the Value of Work- I desperately want my children to understand their place in the family- they are loved, they are valued, and they are equal contributors to the household- and that means in chores too! Allyson at All Our Days shares a relevant book review that hopes to avoid giving your kids a sense of entitlement and encourages them to be cheerful workers in their household. I may have to check out the book Cleaning House myself!
How to Render Lard– Cooking with lard! I have to say, I have never tried this before. (Though we do save and cook with our bacon fat frequently.) But we have a local butcher down the road, who I am sure, will give us some fat if we ask for it. Have you ever tried this?
We Don’t Need No Education- Unschooling. Depending on who’s hearing it, the term can rattle up intense jealousy or complete scorn. Though I myself am uncertain whether unschooling could be The Right Choice for our family, and I can’t say to what extent I endorse it, I must say that this beautifully written article from Ben Hewitt is a striking account of freeing his own children from institutionalized schooling. Thoughts, anyone?
Hope you have a happy and healthy Saturday, to go along with your New Years. 🙂
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I get so excited around holiday time ever since my hubby started teaching middle school. He gets the same breaks as the kids, so that means I get him home from Wednesday afternoon on! We will be traveling to my grandmother’s house for Turkey-Day this year, so we will be able to thoroughly immerse ourselves in Thanksgiving celebrations without worrying about our own house.
To celebrate, I want to share with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving reads! I’ll add them by category this week so I can fit a few more in. A few are mine, but most are finds from around the blog-o-sphere.
Activities & Crafts for Kids- Heaven knows its hard to keep up with the kids when you’re trying to cook too- especially when you’re cooking a big meal, and even more so if you’re not in your own home for the holidays. How about picking one of the ideas from this list to help keep your kiddos busy on Thanksgiving day? You could also use these as activities for the whole family when you have a little extra time this week.
Books- I love reading books with my little guy and gal at any season, and I particularly enjoy reading books that pertain to what’s going on in our real lives. Here are some of our favorite November/Thanksgiving books for you to peruse:
Decorations & Home Ideas- I am just about the furthest thing from Martha Stewart that you can be. But I like easy little decorations that make the table prettier on a holiday. I’ll be honest- I will probably only get to one of these projects, if any- but maybe you can try some of the others for me!
Recipes/Kitchen– How about something new for your Thanksgiving day table? I am lucky enough to have my grandma and mom doing most of the cooking this year, so I will only be bringing my famous apple pie and a side dish or two. However, I may be drawing from this list of Turkey-day recipes and tips!
How will you be spending your Thanksgiving this year?
Have a festive Saturday!
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Here we are, back into our regular Good Pickins’ routine! Over the past couple of weeks Tim played percussion for a local musical, and I sang in a fledgling opera company’s recital. I have one more concert to sing in today, and then I should have a break until Christmas music season.
Both of us have been fighting seasonal bugs, but have seen some success in battling it through a regimen of homemade elderberry syrup and our own herbal tea concoction (mostly dried catnip and plantain). We’ve been upping our homemade bone broth consumption and following dinner with a spoonful of honey to coat the throat. So far, it’s been manageable! We’ll see if all of our preventative measures stay the course against sickness…
Though it hasn’t been quite as restful as I’d hoped, I’m glad to be into the new month and a new season for us on our little homestead. I’m planning for winter and hoping to get a couple of extra projects done around the house while the garden isn’t producing. Here’s what I’ve been reading:
10 Tips for Keeping Chickens in Winter– This short article gives some helpful suggestions for chicken newbies like ourselves going into our first winter with the birds. So far, our cold-hardy breeds have been faring very well in the chilly weather, but I want to make sure they’re all set for snow!
How to Fix Furniture with Mayo– I’ve heard about fixing furniture water stains with mayo before, but wasn’t sure about old stains that have been woefully ignored for I’m not mentioning how long. But Five-in-Tow demonstrates how even old water stains can be removed with mayo and the secret key- some heat! I’ve got to try this on some of our furniture.
31 Days to a Clutter Free Life– Living Well Spending Less did her 31 Days Series on de-cluttering the house, one area at a time. I do NOT plan on following this guide religiously. But when I have a little extra time to do an organizing project, I will refer to Ruth’s guide for some inspiration and a kick in my non-efficient cleaning pants.
31 Days of Great Books for Preschoolers- I know I referenced this series on my Facebook page before, but my friend Rachel did a very nice series of daily children’s literature and corresponding learning activities. We’ve been supplementing our homeschooling with some of our ideas. This week, for example, we enjoyed some Caps for Sale coin-counting (fifty cents a cap!) and playtime. We had a blast!
This week, I’ve still been up to my ears in canning. It’s getting to that point in the season when the initial charm of putting up goods for the winter is wearing off, and I’m pushing myself to get through the end of everything before the frost comes. I have plans for when garden season is over… like reading and sewing and perhaps just sitting on my bottom and drinking tea at the end of the night.
But the best news of all this week? Drumroll please… WE GOT CHICKENS!
(Sorry, this isn’t the best photo- they were still feeling rather shy after their transition to our home. There will be more photos to come!)
Five hens and one rooster (all Ameraucanas) are hanging out in our homemade, reclaimed material “chicken ark” in the side yard right now. (My mother dubbed this thing the ark. You may be able to tell why once you see it.) Finally getting these birds is a huge step for us. I am both thrilled and a little nervous. So chicken masters, please school me in your fowl-ish ways so we can do this thing successfully.
That was the news. Now on to the reads:
Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart– This article from Khan Academy addresses why praising your child’s struggles in learning is better than emphasizing the things your child is already good at. A must read for parents and educators alike.
A Whole New and Necessary Way to See Your Messy House– From Glennon Melton. Why we should stop worrying so much about what our homes look like and embrace the amazing gifts we already have. I really resonated with this one- my home is far from beautiful most of the time, but we are richly blessed with everything we need.
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had– Want to homeschool but fear that your own education is either lacking or has grown fuzzy in certain areas? A good friend and I are just beginning to work through this (slightly intimidating) volume by Susan Wise Bauer. Bauer gently guides you through a chronological study of various genres of literature and helps you engage with the great books that you never got to read as a youngster. We are starting with the poetry section, and first on our list is The Epic of Gilgamesh. If you want to skip Bauer and just check out good ol’ Gilg, You can find several paper and/or kindle editions here, or you can Google it and find free PDF translations like this one.
Preserving the Harvest When You Don’t Have a Garden- I know that many of you don’t have an expansive garden yourselves, but would still love to be able to save peak-of-season fresh fruits and veggies at dirt cheap prices for the dead of winter. Ten Acre Homestead provides some practical suggestions for doing so. I would also add farmer’s markets & country farm stands to her list to check for bulk produce.
That’s it for this week folks. Have a great day. I’m off to hang out with my birds. (I have chickens! I still can’t believe it!!!) 🙂
This past week, with the help of family I canned plum preserves, pear sauce & slices, and homemade salsa. The chicken coop is in the works, though we’re trying to figure out the most efficient and functional ways we can recycle the materials we have. I’m trying to keep up on the clean home challenge. My progress is far from perfect (and you probably wouldn’t notice any difference), but I’m getting a little bit more done that I usually do, including those neglected projects that I usually push off.
And today? It’s our six year anniversary!! This post is auto-scheduled so I can be off enjoying my family instead of worrying about blog management. We plan to visit a butterfly house & watch a Monarch release with the kiddos, then off to a hot dinner date with my favorite guy. 😉
(Thanks for the photo, Sarah!)
And now, on to the links…
Homemade Salsa– From Little House Living. I made 15 pints of this last year and it is hands down the best cooked salsa I’ve ever made. SO delicious! We ate it all by November or December! I just did another batch this week and hope to do one more before the end of the season if the garden cooperates.
Frauenliebe und Leben (Part 1 and Part 2)- Another song cycle. I couldn’t help myself. This cycle, translated “A Woman’s Life and Love” is a set of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso, written in 1830, then set to music by Robert Schumann. Each song tells a part of the story: First, a woman sees and falls in love with a man, then she admires his noble qualities. Next, he returns her love, then proposes. After comes marriage, a child, and finally, death. It is old-fashioned & gloriously emotional. I highly recommend following along with a translation in hand. This version is sung by Brigitte Faasbaender.
Starfall– A fun homeschooling resource. There’s lots of free activities and programs helping your child learn to read. (There are paid services as well, but we just use the free version.) I don’t usually use computer based programs yet for J (I just don’t feel like he should get used to being in front of a screen all the time at his age), but we will use this site occasionally for a special treat.
10 Ways to Show Love to the Mom at Home– From Megan Tietz. This post warmed my heart. I was having a particularly tough week with the kids, and just reading these suggestions helped me to feel encouraged. I’ve gotta do some of these for my mommy friends. It’s easy to forget how tiring it can all be sometimes.
I am hoping to instill a weekly (or perhaps bi-weekly) round up of “good pickins'” I find across the blogosphere & real-world so I can share them with you! Granted, it makes me a little nervous to commit to a weekly anything, but I find so many good reads that it’s hard not to want to share them.
Topics you can expect will range from homesteading to childbirth to homeschooling to faith to mommyhood… Perhaps good music or a recipe or our favorite book from the week will make the list… and don’t be surprised if there’s something completely off the wall every now and again. If YOU have found a particularly good article or resource, please link to it in the comments so I can read up too.
So here’s this week’s pickins’…
Monthly Clean Home Challenge- From I Heart Organizing. As I mentioned before, my house is pretty much always a wreck. I thought Jen did a beautiful job of breaking down daily duties into small manageable chunks, and created a system for getting around to those slightly more painful jobs on a regular basis. I think I’m going to attempt the clean home challenge for September. No, I really should. I don’t “think”- I will attempt the clean home challenge for September. There. I said it on the internet, so I have to do it now.
Getting Serious About Food Storage– From Chickadee Homestead. Lindsey shares her plan for investing about $60/month into long term food that she didn’t grow in her home garden. My budget might be a little lower, but it gives me some ideas for similar bulk items that might hold us through the winter.
DIY Lavender Cleaning Products– Excellent! I have a lavender shrub that I was hoping to do something with before the end of the season. Strangers and Pilgrims share a whole collection of how to make various cleaning products using lavender.
Honey Sweetened Blueberry Jam– Loved this from 100 Days of Real Food. I really enjoy jam, but not all the sugar. I’ve been hunting down ways to make it without all the white stuff whenever possible! We made this after we went blueberry picking, and it is absolutely delicious.