January 29, 2016

First Month of the Year...

looking out my window… it's winter. There is semi faint green grass and birds a million, singing from the tree tops. Knitting projects in baskets, begging to be finished before the use of wool has to wait another season. Sap buckets are hung, the first round collected... seed catalogs piled high with anticipation, the days growing longer and mornings are not so bitter.

of my thanksgiving... thank you, to the cashier whose soft voice was louder than my moment of worry. When in your praise, you reminded me to rejoice in the day, you were gifted with. I left the store with a smile and a reminder of who really is King. Thank you, Father for the bountiful blessing of bananas, a whole case for ten dollars! Thank you, for the two fryers on sale and the lead on forty nine cent avocados. For the package in the mail, from a pen pal... a dear friend whom I hope to meet face to face one day... whose love and encouraging words were as fragrant as the home made soap she gifted. 

~ amish school yard ~

reflecting on... the lessons I am learning from my Amish neighbors. The other day my daughter and I went to purchase eggs, and in the yard of the home in which we visited where two young boys stuffing what looked like a bag of some sort. I could not resist asking about it... after I purchased the eggs, I asked the older sister “might I ask, what are the children stuffing in the yard?”

I was thinking, feather pillows for their beds or something...

The reply: “Casket pillows.”

Apparently, they run the cotton through a gas powered motor and fan of some sort and it shoots the cotton, fluffier than when it went in, into the heavy grey fabric. To which they place in the bottom of the casket. I didn't know what to say to that, except “oh.”

But I have been thinking about that all week. Life and Death, a reality these children see every day from the time they enter into this world to the time they leave. These children are not obsessed with death, nor do they seem to take it lightly. I see them laughing, running and about playing with joy and mischief in their eyes. But they appear to take life with an element of sobriety that much of our society seems to have forgotten, and I am inclined to believe that it has been detrimental to us all.

from the pages... 

“For love will starve if its not fed, and true hearts pray for daily bread.” 
~ J.R. Miller, The Family ~

ebb and flow of home... limiting the amount of so called 'news' in the world. This may be a odd subject to share about in the ebb and flow of home. But the tone of the home is set by what is allowed to enter and often by what mood is allowed to flourish. And most of what is shared, is not 'news' but political propaganda, confusion, partial stories, articles with no regard to a Creator or creative stories that offer little hope and too much distraction. We are aware. But not sucked into the chaos.

pursuing simplicity... embracing the joy that comes from watching birds. It's true. Our house is filled with bird watchers... even the dog will sit on the couch and look out the window at the feeder. We live in an area where there is wide variety of birds and my daughter created a simple feeding station to which numerous flock. Cardinals, Finches, Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Chickadee's and Junco's abound.

~ cardinal visiting our bird feeding station ~

nurturing souls... we are working on memorizing a new portion of Scripture. {1 Peter 3:8 – 12} And listening to Torah Class's Teachings on the Book of Acts. I would strongly encourage the teachings for anyone, for multiple reasons. One of which would be give you a solid context and history of the Apostle Paul. Tom Bradford has a lot to offer in the way of historical accuracy.

building community and sustainability... remember that we are all human. We all have struggles, we make mistakes, we get it wrong sometimes... but those things do not define you. It's what you do on the other side of them that matters. What you learn through the struggle, how you right a wrong... how you forgive. Yourself and others. How you get back up and praise your Maker and carry on bravely!

from hearth and home... this morning I bombed my THM diet and made off plan oatmeal pancakes with whole wheat flour, full fat raw milk, topped those babies with butter and organic sugar free strawberry jam. I did it. It's true. And I am only slightly sorry... because the smiles on my family's faces were worth it.

~ spinach under hoop houses ~

in sowing and reaping... well. I reaped a stock pile of beans. Lots of beans. Honestly, we love beans... and I have a really hard time eating meat three or four times a week. For one it's pricey. Second... my body loves beans. My body responds better to plant based foods and cultured dairy products. Anyway the beans will help pad our pantry in the days to come and I am very thankful for the cushion they offer.

creations for the apothecary... I am waiting for two creations to come forth form the cupboard. One is our Elderberry Brandy and the other is Passionflower Tincture. The Passionflower tincture is used for stomach concerns, anxiety and for calming to the mind. You can read more about Passion Flower here.

~ blessings!

January 19, 2016

Dehydrated Eggs, Kefir Grains and Tomato Flakes :: how to

In an attempt to update and 'clean' house around here, I am condensing three posts into this one, simply for my brains sake. I hope you don't mind... you see my blog style is a bit different than when I first began and these three post topics were an import from one of my early blogs. 

First was my lovely experiment of dehydrating my own eggs, this was driven from the "what do I do with all these eggs" when we first had chickens. I wanted a way to preserve them without a freezer.

So here it is...

DIY Dehydrated Eggs:
"Powdered eggs can be a great thing to have on hand, however they can be expensive too, and the expense was not something I wanted to embrace. So I did a little research and with some work I was able to make my own 'powdered eggs'. right here at home."
First I would recommend watching this short video, and you will see how making your own powder eggs is E.A.S.Y.  The video shows you how to make them in an oven, but mine were made using a food dehydrator. Either way seemed to work. Yes, I did do them both ways.

Here's How:
  1. Take 6 fresh chicken eggs and scramble them in a cast iron pan, using no oil or seasoning. Just the eggs. 
  2. Then let the eggs cool on a towel, until completely cool.
  3.  When the eggs are completely cool, spread them evenly over your drying surface.
  4. Set your dehydrator to 135 degrees and dry the eggs for seven to nine hours.
  5. When finished, the eggs should hard, and snap when broken... let them completely cool again before moving unto the grinding process.
To Grind: I put about one cup of dried eggs into my blender at a time, blending for roughly a minute, then sifting the large chunks out and placing the egg powder in a separate bowl. Then I would run the large chunks through the blender again until they were fine and powdery in consistency. After which I sealed them in a glass jar with an oxygen absorber, where they should keep just fine for about 3 years.  Update: I did keep mine in a jar for three years, to test this... and yes, they were just fine, for their purpose.

To Use/To Reconstitute: Take 1T egg powder and mix with 2 T Water.

From what I have read this mixture should make approximately one egg. My next project will be to actually use these, to see how they work and taste...

Update: I did use these in baking and they seem to work fine, however powdered eggs to scrambled hot on a plate, the word that came to mind was interesting. But in a survival or camping position I think this is workable. 

Kefir Grains:

Kefir {pronounced keh-feer, kuh-feer, or kay-fir, depending on geographical location} is a cultured milk drink with T.O.N.'s of health benefits, its produced by 'grains' made from yeast, bacteria, sugar and various proteins. Kefir grains look similar to cauliflower tops and having a slightly firm gel feeling.

How I Make Kefir:
  • Take a 1 quart mason jar and fill it with whole milk... raw if you have it.
  • Add your kefir grains to the jar of milk... if you are reusing your grains, rinse them once in a while to help remove the Co2 'jackets' they form. Remember to rinse them with non-chlorinated water only, as the chlorine can harm your little buddies. 
  • Cover the jar with a lid and leave on the counter overnight, in the morning you will have a wonderful cultured milk beverage. Repeat the process, place newly made kefir in the fridge and serve cold... I prefer in a smoothie.

If my kefir grains produce more than I can use, which is bound to happen, I simply place the grains in a fresh jar of milk and store them in the fridge. This will slow down the fermentation process while keeping your grains 'live' until you are ready for them to produce again.

Your grains may be sluggish for a day or two when coming out of the fridge, but they should return to normal activity soon. Visit FAQ's about Kefir Grains for more information. Note: The summer's heat will effect the rate of your kefir production, often speeding up the process considerably.

How To Use Kefir:

Besides Smoothies, I have made Kefir cheese, Frozen 'Kefir' pops and ice cream. I also use kefir like I would buttermilk, but cooking with it kills most of the benefits.

Do you need more recipes? Check out Kefir Recipes!

Tomato Flakes:

What to do with all those extra tomatoes at the end of the season? I know! Dehydrate them and grind them into tomato flakes/powder. Then place them into a mason jar with a new lid, add my oxygen absorber and place the jar in line on the pantry shelf. Now they are ready to use anytime, this week or next month. 

This link gives you the jist of how to use your dehydrated tomatoes, thankfully I will not be spending that kind of money for tomato powder when I can make mine right here, at home

~ Blessings!

January 14, 2016

Care for the Common Cold ~ a Collective DIY

It's that time of year again, germs and bugs abounding and hopefully I am just in time to share a collective of care practices for the common cold that are often found in our home...

First a simple tea to blend, consisting of a few wonderful herbs that are easy to grow and/or to locate... if you purchase them, please be sure your supplier is reputable.
  • Chamomile – mild sedative, restlessness
  • Echinacea – immunomodulating, contraindication for auto immune
  • Black Elder – immune stimulant
  • Yarrow – anti-inflammatory, herbal bitter, anti-microbial
  • Peppermint – antitussive, anti-spasmatic
  • Nettle – anti-rheumatic

Directions – blend equal parts of the above dried herbs and store them in a dark, labeled container. To use – simply fill your standard tea ball, place this into your special tea cup and add six to eight ounces of hot water. Cover. Let steep roughly five minutes or until preferred strength is reach. Sip while hot - tolerable. *Variation - you could also add some dried orange peel or apple...

Elderberry Tincturesambucus nigra - in our home we use an elderberry brandy most of the time. Either added to a "hot toddy" or by its self. However, when my daughter was younger we made syrups and such for the helpful sweet element. Here are two recipes, but with a simple internet search you will see that Elderberry Tincture, Extracts and Syrup recipes are everywhere...

  • My old post - on how to make Elderberry Extract - I truly need to do some house work on this blog! :)
  • Or this recipe from Vintage Remedies - this is an Elderberry Syrup recipe, and you already know that I recommend and use their resources and education models.

Herbal Foot Baths:
  • David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG in Medical Herbalism, page 337 - shares this recipe: Add 1 T mustard powder to 4 pints of hot water – soak feet for roughly ten minutes, twice a day.
  • Nana would say soak your feet in Epsom Salts, for ten to fifteen minutes, dry your feet and apply a vapor rub to the soles and then cover them with cotton or wool socks. Do this prior to going to bed and sleep with your socks on through the night. *While your feet soak - would be a good time to sip on that tea!

Aromatherapy for the Cold: diffusing these essential oils through out the day, especially where you are resting will be beneficial to you and your environment.

  • Melaleuca & Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary & Peppermint

You could also make any of these combinations into a linen spray for your pillow or head rest. Sheets too! Or even consider Lavender to help you rest last in the night.

To make a Linen Spray: simply mix equal amount of vodka and distilled water - like ¼ C to ¼ C – add 10 to 15 drops of each essential oil in the combination. Add this mixture to a spray bottle, label and date. Shake well before each use. You can adjust accordingly depending on the type of spray bottle you use. We prefer and use glass, like these. *creative note - I actually use a little less vodka or alcohol because I use linen spray a lot! And you guessed it... more essential oils.

Steam Inhalation: place about 1/3c of blended herbs OR two drops each of essential oils of Chamomile and Bergamot into a bowl, and pour boiling water over them, then create a tent with an old - but large towel - by draping the towel over your head and around the bowl. Be sure not to let the steam escape. This is best done in a seated position so you can lean over to accommodate the action required... inhale slowly for 5 to 10 min.

A NOTE ON ESSENTIAL OILS – length of time may vary and it is best to start with one drop of each to begin with, and do not use if you are sensitive to the listed essential oils or plants. *If you would like more information on E.O.'s or the brands I would recommend, please feel free to leave me a comment and I would be happy to share with you what I have learned and use.

In the Kitchen: foods such as onions, garlic, ginger, astralgalus and lemon are great for the common cold and should be added to the diet liberally while sick. Unless something in the above list is contraindicated for your systems.

Meals likechicken soup, made with home made bone broth and Astralgalus root would be a great meal. Heavy on the garlic and onions if you can tolerate them... and remember to avoid sugar as much as possible while sick, as sugar has negative effects on your immune system... and drink plenty of water, consume lots of vitamin C and get ample rest.

For Nurturing the Soul: it's no fun being sick. Especially with a head cold, I truly dislike those... however I do find comfort in God's Word. Here is a few verses I like to think upon or to make into cards for me to see throughout the day.

  • Romans 12:12 -  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
  • Proverbs 31:25 - Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

~ Get well soon!

January 7, 2016

Seed Dreams ~ high hopes for 2016

The seed catalogs have been showing up steadily for about three weeks now and each one holding potential promises. We have even received a couple poultry catalogs... now if I could just mail order me a goat or two I would be just tickled. But since I have yet to find one of those online, I will be content planning and preparing for rain in the gardening area.

However, after taking a whole year off from gardening, down sizing over ninety percent of our belongings, moving over fifteen hundred miles across the country, sending my husband to Israel... and starting a new job, then loosing that new job... finishing up my schooling and trying to start an Esty shop - while living in a thirty foot camper {that is on loan} with three adults and one full size dog.

Well. You See. Life is complicated. And I am not quite on my game... I feel very unorganized. Very unable to prepare. All of the above has kind of sent my 'game plan' in to a spin. Not in a pull my hair out and run away spin, rather nothing is in a solid spot yet spin. But I am determined to keep pressing forward, even if I don't know where that forward looks like right now. 

So in waiting, I am preparing the best I can with what I can.

Truth be told - money is tight, unemployment is not fun and budgets are very necessary. And since money hasn't started growing on trees around here, we can not afford to be frivolous. But I did manage to squirrel away about fifty dollars out of our last months budget and order some garden seeds. Seeds in my mind are potential food and a long term investment that will give our family a return, a few times over. But I couldn't spend this 'nut' on just any old seed or just any new ones for that matter... I knew that I had to make that fifty dollars count.

And after careful searching and a gut hunch, the hubby and I decided to order from My Patriot Supply. Quite honestly, I was so pleased with the amount of seed that our fifty dollars purchased that I will be intentional to squirrel away another 'nut' for a round two order. Later on.

The order arrived quickly, and was well above my expectations in packaging and volume pricing. I do realize that the final outcomes of my opinion will not arrive until after the harvest season has come and gone, but I am very hopeful.

And grateful. Because in the event our life 'spin' continues - these seeds will keep, and if there is a need that I can for see - regarding the filling the shelves of family food, this is an area in which I can now supplement.

So what does fifty dollars of garden seeds look like from My Patriot Supply?

That depends on what you order really, but for our family it meant thirty three packs of garden seeds. Veggies such as Bush and Pole Beans, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Chives, Corn, Cucumbers, Kale, Lettuce... three types, Onions, Pea's and Parsnips, Spinach, Tomatoes... two types, Squash and Swiss Chard, Peppers, Broccoli and Basil. Legumes such as Black Turtle and Pinto Beans.

I don't have the total seed count on the entire order added up for you, but I can give you an idea on a few examples... Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – 900 seeds for $1.50. Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale – 300 seeds for $1.50. Cherokee Purple Tomato – 160 seeds for $1.50. 

Are you seeing what I am seeing, even if I plant a bare dent in volume - our family will make back that fifty dollars in healthy food. That makes me smile, which works great for adjusting life's rudder.


I just need to figure out where to plant it.

~ blessings!

 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
{Proverbs 31:14}

*This post does contain an affiliate link, which is here, as I did not desire to add my personal affiliate link to the bulk of the post, instead I wanted to just share my thoughts on this seed company thus far and to pass along my over all experience. For which I intend to be a returning customer. Thank you My Patriot Supply for offering quality seeds and great prices, for providing a wonderful packaging option and for giving a generous amount of seed in each package.