A Family Heirloom

A few months ago I was digging around my mom and dad’s storage building. My kids LOVE to explore the building and find new treasures to claim and bring home. Grandma and Grandpa have no problems with this arrangement. I am usually the one who has to “deal” with their latest exciting acquisitions! However, on this warm fall day, it was little old me that spotted a treasure.

I remember seeing this beautiful cabinet most of my life. Jars and other sundries were always neatly stored on it’s shelves. My mom wanted it in the house, but there simply wasn’t a place for it. I’m ashamed to admit that it wasn’t until recently that I knew it’s story.

This shelf was built for my grandmother by my grandfather. She needed a sturdy shelf for all her home canned goods. I never met my grandmother, she died before I was born. My father was the youngest of 10 children, and his father (my grandfather) died when he was only two years old – he has no memory of his father. He does, however, have lots of memories of this cabinet. He told me of how he would sit and watch television as child and would be frightened by the sounds of the jar lids popping and sealing. He has also recalled to me many times watching his mother make fig preserves and store the jars in this cabinet.

The cabinet was built from rough cut wood ,whatever was available, milled at a family mill that used to be right down the street from their home. Each piece was cut, by my grandfather, with a handsaw. None of the nails match, none of the boards are same size, but it’s SOLID and in my opinion, it’s absolutely perfect. We estimate it’s age at between 80-90 years old.

I can picture the man who made this cabinet. I can picture the woman who stocked it with food for the family. I can picture a little boy sitting near it waiting for the sound of the “pops.” I can picture my family enjoying and appreciating it for years to come. Here’s to the next 90, and may my children love it as much as I do. So grateful to have this treasure in my home.

 

 

Four weeks old!

What I’ve learned about baby chicks – the first four weeks.

 

  1. Hens are called pullets until they are a year old – then they are called hens. Not sure where I read this but I googled what a “pullet” was! Hehe
  2. Baby chicks are really easy to manage – food, water, warmth and you are good to go.
  3. They grow FAST! Let me tell you; you go to bed and say goodnight to fuzzy chicks and when you wake up they have some “real” feathers. Amazingly fast.
  4. They love a nice warm light and stay in a little huddle underneath. At four weeks, we’ve moved our girls to the big coop and a big 250 watt light bulb. It was 77 degrees here yesterday, so cold isn’t too much of an issue yet. We also have lots of fluffy, sweet smelling hay for them to bed down in.
  5. Everybody loves chickens. Okay, maybe not everybody, but everyone that has seen ours now want their own. They are the prefect pets in every way. AND – in about 6 months we will have eggs. Nice.

 

A few photos of our girls – 6 in all: Polly, Piper, Penny, Primm, Pearl, & Pluck. And one photo of our dog, “Priss” guarding her flock! Try to say that a few times really fast. Yes, the English teacher in me is showing. I love alliteration…

 

 

Perfect in every way….

Pretty Feathers….

From the Garden to the Plate: Carrots

We are finally getting carrots from our garden! We planted the seeds at the beginning on August, and I was beginning to they just weren’t going to make it. Then, one day my husband walked in and said he saw some little orange carrots just barely popping out of the ground. Yippee! I gathered the children and showed them our treasures. It was wonderful to witness their enthusiasm as each child got a turn pulling up some carrots! THIS is where carrots come from! This is how real carrots look!!

After the initial fun wore off, I immediately started planning uses for our carrots – beef stew with potatoes and carrots, creamy potato soup with carrots, carrots and ranch dressing, glazed carrots, carrot cake. Just call me Bugs Bunny because we are in carrot heaven!

I canned some yummy brown sugar glazed carrots using the recipe from the “Ball Blue Book.” If you don’t have this book I highly recommend it!!!

Recipe:

About 7 pounds carrots

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups water

1 cup orange juice

Wash and peel carrots. Wash well. Cut carrots into three inch pieces. Combine brown sugar, water and orange juice in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Keep syrup hot. Pack carrots tightly into hot jars, leaving one inch head space. Ladle hot syrup over carrots, leaving one inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Add caps and rings. Process pints and quarts 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in your pressure canner.

 

 

 

 

 

Water, Water…

“Water, water everywhere and nary a drop to drink.” If memory serves me correctly, this quote is from Coleridge’s, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” As I have been preparing my family lately, this quote comes to mind quite often. While it’s possible to survive without food for a while, water is an absolute necessity. Your body must have water. I am fortunate enough to have a large pond in my backyard, but looking into it’s pine straw filled, goopy mass – I know it’s not potable. A backyard full of water we cannot drink? SO, if our electricity failed, along with it goes the electric pump to our well. No electricity + no pump = no water. Yikes. Fortunately, there is a way to drink from the pond, and many other water sources. As long as you know how to safely treat it, you’re in good shape.

How to purify your water – taken from: here


Water Purification

If your water supply is not known to be safe or has become polluted, it should be purified before use. Water purification is generally a two-step process.

Step 1: Clarify

Cloudy or dirty water must first be made clear. It should be passed through filter paper, fine cloth, or some other filter. It should be allowed to settle, and then the clear water on top can be carefully drawn. Filtered or clear settled water should always be disinfected before use.

Step 2: Disinfect

Boiling Method

Bringing water to a rolling boil for 3 to 5 minutes will kill most water-borne microorganisms. However, prolonged boiling of small quantities of water may concentrate toxic contaminants if present.

Bleach Method

Adding 8 drops of fresh liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) to every 4 liters (one gallon) of water will kill most microorganisms. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used. The use of bleach does not address toxic contamination.

Commercial Water Filters

Commercial water filters can effectively filter and purify water contaminated with microorganisms, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals. Their effectiveness depends on design, condition, and proper use.

Breakfast “Cake” Wheat and Sugar Free

This wonderful recipe was found on this wonderful blog: Nourishing Days. This blog amazes me on so many levels. It chronicles the lives of a family who packed up everything and moved off-grid. I’m not talking about a “wannabe” like me – this family is the real deal. I cried with Shannon, of Nourishing Days, as she cried in her kitchen, and I’ve smiled at the sweetest photos of her children. I always feel inspired when I read, inspired in so many ways. When I saw Shannon’s recipe for Breakfast Cake, I knew I had to try it. I liked that it was sweetened with honey – which we love, and that it was full of oatmeal goodness – wheat and sugar free!  I wont post the entire recipe here – go read it over on Nourishing Days .   My family loves this cake and is yet another home run for us as I ween my children off of Pop-Tarts (ohhhh, those Pop-Tarts!!!).

Mixing…rye flour, oats, honey, yummy….

Half gone already…

I always try to use locally produced honey!

Pond Hollow Honey, Timmonsville, SC

 

Hearing Life in a Whole New Way

 

I’ve known since I was 16 that I had hearing loss. I failed all those little, “raise your hand when you hear the beep” tests the school nurse gives you. A doctor confirmed my hearing loss, but since I was doing well in school and it wasn’t affecting me adversely, we just let it go.

And it went.

Fast forward to age 37. My husband and kids were constantly having to repeat themselves. I felt really bad for being so annoying. I simply could not hear them. Television became close captioned, telephone volume at max – and I was STILL struggling. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating a simple conversation over dinner had become. It was just too much effort.

I visited an audiologist, and prayed she could help me. The test revealed that I have severe hearing loss in both ears – no big surprise there. There are different levels of hearing loss – mild, moderate, severe and profound. I’m at “severe” and hope that it doesn’t get worse. The good news? The doctor thought I could really benefit from hearing aids.

37 years old – hearing aids – really?? Wow.

The day I got my hearing aids I heard the refrigerator “run” for the first time. I heard the jingle my washing machine plays when it’s done all the way in my living room. I heard the wall clock tick for the first time and heard my timer for my bread go off while I was UPSTAIRS. Holy wow. Best part, I didn’t have to say, “Can you repeat that? What? Say that one more time. Pardon?”

Hearing aids are amazing. I’m not vain. I will proudly wear my BTE’s (Behind the ear) because they improve my quality of life and that is amazing. I encourage you, if you think you may have hearing loss, don’t wait – go to an audiologist. The difference is phenomenal.

Lemon Pie (No Bake!)

This recipe is light and simple. Sometimes after all the warm, winter meals, I like to have something sweet and cool. This pie fits the bill! It also has a perfect tartness to it – seems to help mellow large meals of stuffing, potatoes, etc..

This recipe is also nice because it’s a “no bake.” When your oven is busy cooking the big meal, your dessert can be chilling in the fridge!

I’m also always looking for simple – my kids can about make this one without me!

 

Lemon Pie (No Bake)

2 Graham Cracker Pie Crusts

1 16 oz. Container of whipped topping (Cool Whip or store brands work fine)

½ cup lemon juice (if you like more tart than sweet, add a bit more)

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk.

Mix Cool Whip, lemon juice and milk together. Mix well! Spoon mixture into pie crusts. Refrigerate until firm – I prefer 4 hours or so.

That’s it! Put this simple pie on your dessert menu for Thanksgiving day. Make it the day before and your dessert will be done!

Another bad photo – ekkkk!  My kids were rushing me. They wanted to dig in!

 

Meet the Meeps

 We affectionately refer to them as the “Meeps.” Because they “meep” – uh – constantly.

Around the clock they meep, meep, meep.

But they are oh so cute that we don’t mind!

We received our six Rhode Island Red hens on election day! The man from the post office called to say he had some “loud birds” that I needed to come pick up. I just laughed and rushed everyone to the car. It was a perfect day for their arrival because all of my kids were home from school – no school in our county on election day!

My kids were very excited to meet the “meeps” and have loved every second of them. Even my big 13 year old was tickled to have them.

Getting these chicks is a milestone for us. Our first animals in our homesteading adventure. My kids will learn soon that eggs come from chicken, not grocery stores. Hopefully in about 5 or 6 months we will get our first eggs – and that will be another milestone.

We are thankful.

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