Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year Dawning

Farewell 2014 and Hello 2015! 

I look back on this year with nothing but gratitude. I've been through so many health problems and housing changes but I have nothing but gratitude! Without the hardships I experienced, I would not have seen the things I needed to change in my life. I'm thankful I had to go through what I did so I can see things differently now.

A new perspective for the future, a positive one! 

I have hope that this coming year I will be relieved from the health issues I'm experiencing now. Hope that we'll be able to get chickens, a garden and go swimming. This new year holds so much promise, but we have to go for it! Good things don't just come to those who wait, they come to those who work! Life is as good or bad as you want it to be - no matter what your circumstances may be.

This year, for my blog, I'm going to add my reading list back to help keep track of what I've read throughout the year. I'm also going to be studying vegetables and posting what I learn about them. I'm going to be more focused on homesteading activities, learning things my ancestors could do in their sleep! I'm also going to be focusing on Permaculture. I was just introduced to the concept and I want to learn more! I'm also going to be adding what I learn on using sweeteners naturally and gluten free recipes that won't break the budget or spurn the taste buds!

So for the New Year that is dawning on us, I'm going to add a reading list, studying vegetables, studying Permaculture, sharing healthy recipes and doing homesteading activities! I'm excited for the year to come!

Hugs and God bless!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bright, Shining, Arctic Tuesday!

We've been so spoiled with a mild winter that this winter "cold snap" (isn't that term ironic?!) is really surprising!

So I'm just over here, sipping my coffee and watching my littles play in the house while I do some research!

This morning did not start out so great. Got some bad news about taxes, been struggling with the thievery going on since we moved in here (slowly we only have half the kids toys, missing some of my husband's spendy essential truck items) and never been able to catch the skunk. I saw a man once who was just about to come right into the house and I had fallen asleep watching a movie on the couch. So the tv was still on and you could clearly see me and the guy was still going to come in! Ack!

Then I was reminded, by an internet picture quote thing that read:
 "An entire sea of water can't sink a ship unless it gets in the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can't put you down unless you allow it to get inside you."
I am unsure who the credit goes to for that quote.

How true, though, that negativity can only affect us if we let it!!!
We are surrounded by negativity* but it can ONLY bring us down if we allow it to and focus on it.

*On the flip side we are also surrounded by positivity! Perspective is key here!!!

So, what started out as a "bad" day, got turned around into a "good" day just because I said so. I decided that I was can have a good day. 

Nothing in my circumstances changed, just my perspective/ attitude.

So, I encourage all my readers, if you are having a "bad" day, why are you having that "bad" day? 


Monday, December 29, 2014

Winter Wonderland: Post Christmas Saga

(The view this afternoon from my front window. Actually the view as I am typing this post right now!)

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday, so the kids and I are busy planning our birthday surprises for him.

We are still listening to Christmas music- until at least it becomes 2015. I'm not sure how long we will keep Christmas decor up past the 1st as we have so many projects to start and finish the remainder of the winter. If I recall properly breakup last year was in March. 

I'm working on projects to possibly sell at the Farmer's Market this coming summer so I need all the space I can get at this point! Especially since I am going to have a garden this summer as well.

We are still praying that we will be able to buy that property we found that we both really liked. The down payment is a tough one to get. I still believe that if it is "the" property for us then God will provide a miracle for us regarding getting the financing or He will lead us to the right property! There is a nice property up north we like that is just 2 driveway's down from extended family, but its just above our pre-approval rate and since my husband's job is here it just makes sense to go for the property we both agree on here for now. So, we will continue to pray that we can get our own property so we can have a big garden, animals, and a home base for us to raise our little family on! 

January 1st is when I start my second Whole30! It really made a difference for me regarding my overall health. Now that I have been off the Whole30 for Christmas and then New Years, I don't feel so good. I figure I would ring in the new year with the Whole30 and start off the year this way! 

Well, time to get offline to finish birthday prep for my man, continue reading some amazing books that I will share about when finished, and dreaming about chickens, gardens, homesteading and  that first, tender carrot of the season. YUM! 

Dreaming of 2015,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve or, otherwise known as Christmas Adam

I can't believe Christmas is just a few days away now! 

Yesterday we made Christmas (red, green, white) ribbon jello to bring to our Christmas celebrations this week. What is a Christmas celebration (or any celebration) without a jello dish?! 

My oldest daughter LOVES jello molds, so for Christmas I told her we would make a jello mold just for us to enjoy. Poor girl was so disappointed I made ribbon jello instead of a mold for our parties. (I needed enough jello for 2 occasions).

Today we are making sure we have everything together to go celebrate tomorrow and just enjoying each other. We are watching Christmas movies, doing puzzles, and just being grateful for such a wonderful year together! 

This morning we had red skies so I'm expecting a weather change today or tomorrow. Praying for good travel weather tomorrow! 

Anyway, back to my little ones and our Christmas preparations! 

This mama has to check her shopping list twice to make sure we have the items needed for root beer floats and stuffed pancakes on Christmas day!

Merry Christmas!!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Stocking holder- check!

Here is  the stocking holder I made this year for our stockings! We have a fireplace but its too hot to have stockings hanging off of it so, instead of just hanging them on the wall, I made a holder!

I had a scrap piece of wood that I painted in regular acrylic craft paint- 2 coats.

Then, I stenciled the words. I only had cheap cardboard stencils and I had to use Sharpie markers to "paint" the words on instead of actually using a paint and brush. It worked, though!

Then I flipped it over and attached the hanging claw things (the proper name escapes my mind at the moment). I used three total for the back to hang it.

Once flipped back over I attached the little hooks. I got the cheap four for a dollar pack at the store. They are called "mug hooks", they were exactly what I had in mind to use! I just screwed them into the board and bam! Done!

Now I have a sturdy stocking holder!!

I don't have to worry about fire hazard, falling hazard or chocolate melting anymore!

*Cooler fact is that the wood paneling on the wall was handmade from an uncle of the land lord!* I had no idea one could do that! 

Well, now back to making Christmas ribbon jello with my littles! Tomorrow we make my Best of Show Blue Ribbon Ginger Cookies!!! (First time gluten free, so hoping they turn out!)

Jingle All The Way,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tradition! Tradition!

'Tis the Season for traditions. 

Growing up, my family had a few traditions, whether we called our yearly activities by that name or not, they were still tradition!

My husband, I am sure had traditions growing up as well. Funny, though, I don't remember what he said his family did each year.

I read an article last week on making this season of Holidays simpler, less stress to stress free and just getting down to what all these Holidays do- get people together to celebrate. Key here is the word "together".

The cookies are fun, activities are fun, gifts are fun (giving and receiving), the meals, the fellowship of friends and family gathering. 

The article did hit home with me on one thing.
Less hustle and bustle and more family celebration!

This week I am planning on sitting down with my husband and figuring out what traditions we are going to have as family.

For me, I'd love to carry forward making home made ice cream and having root beer floats on Christmas day. Stuffed pancakes for brunch. Making a few different Christmas cookies the week of Christmas. Making homemade gifts to give to others and of course our yearly Christmas card to send to friends and family.

My goal is to keep it simple, spend more time WITH my family than doing things FOR them. I don't want to do a fancy dinner Christmas Eve or on Christmas anymore. Save that for Thanksgiving, lets just have a nicely set table for a regular meal, even if its just pizza! 

I'd encourage others to let the hustle and bustle go and just enjoy the people around you! Life is such a short time span on earth, lets be with the people we love, not just do things for them. Try to strike a happy medium between doing things for and being with those we love. 

What are some traditions you have that you enjoy, want to keep, want to leave or just care to share?

At any rate, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!! 


Monday, December 15, 2014

Comfort Soup

I decided to make some soup but didn't have a recipe for the taste I was hungry for.

What to do, what to do?!

Make my own recipe, of course!

Here is the criteria list I was dealing with:
Didn't want a tomato base
Had to use ground elk meat
Didn't want a creamy base because I was using red meat
Wanted to use up some veggies I had in the freezer and storage
Wanted it to blend but also be able to pick out the meat from the veggies
Wanted a thicker, almost stew like soup
Fresh out of rice but I did have some gluten free rice noodles.
Wanted a down home, cabin style taste.

So, I took my little list and got to work!

I took 2 quarts of vegetable stock, put that in my pot. Then I added a drained, rinsed can of both black beans and kidney beans. While that was heating up, I fried up my 2 pounds of ground elk with one garlic clove, salt, pepper and half of a huge, organic onion. Then I added that all to the pot. I chopped up 4 small, organic carrots, a half pound of frenched green beans and put those both into my pot.

I added dried parlsey, oregano, Himalayan pink salt, freshly ground black pepper, celery flakes (lucky me, I had some dried as I was out of fresh!), and dried dill weed. I don't ever measure my spices as I go by taste. I threw in half my bag of gluten free rice noodles one everything was at a boil, put the lid on and simmered about 45 minutes or however long it took for the carrots to tender. I stirred as often as I thought about it to prevent scorching on the bottom of my pot as it has a hot spot. It was EXACTLY what I was hoping for in a soup and we had enough for leftovers the next day. It was fabulous then as well!

My tip is to never be afraid to make your own recipe! If it is a fail then consider this:
F- First
A- Attempt
I- In

Make note of what didn't work in it and go from there!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

Well, we picked up our Christmas tree this afternoon! I wanted to get a nice, thick farmed one but I did some research to find out if they are sprayed with the pesticide I'm allergic to. Turns out that farmed trees, in my opinion, can stay on the farm. I am not impressed with the chemicals that are used in some Christmas tree farming operations. For us, we are sticking to natural/organic trees. We got ours from a natural tree lot. So what if we can't put on every ornament we own! It's more about keeping our house as natural and organic as possible and not bringing in extra pollution. Having modern appliances brings in enough off gassing! Something like a Christmas tree can be natural.

I found if I put ribbon on ornaments or things like Candy Canes I can hang them from a window as nice decor and with a nice pine or colorful garland it ties it all in together nicely!

I used the pine branches we had to cut off the bottom as decor in the front window box! Perfect! Now I'm just going to go to the Dollar Store here and pick up some fake poinsettia's and put them in with the pine to give it a nice pop of red! (Unless they have something else, the plan is poinsettia).

So, now the task is to find our Christmas lights in the old Christmas box from last year and then we can decorate our tree tonight! 

We're going to make some fun ornaments with the kids to put on the tree along with the ones we already have! 

I'm on Day 15, half way through my Whole30. It isn't going very easily for me, I don't know why. I'm so sick of eating so much meat it makes me want to gag thinking about food. Maybe its just a block I have to overcome but all I want right now is a piece of Mackinac Island Fudge, a nice hot cup of coffee with Wisconsin Cream in it and a piece of Figaro's Pizza with gluten free crust. 

Wishful thinking especially since its all food from "back home", not to be found here in the first place! I'm sticking with it though, I can tell I've lost quite a bit of weight from how my clothes are fitting, or shall I say, not fitting very well anymore. I can also tell by eating whole foods that my milk must be richer as the baby isn't wanting to eat as often and is so much more satisfied after a feeding. She is a happy baby anyway but now, despite teething, she hasn't wanted to just suckle anymore.

Interesting how much what you eat can impact milk supply for a little one! I can't wait to have a scone with my morning coffee with cream in it, though. That time will come! For now, black coffee it is!

Until next time,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Homemade Advent Calendar

Here is a photo of my homemade Advent Calendar! It cost me less than $10 to put together! I used scrap wood for the post and top. I painted them in acrylic craft paint in royal blue ($1), foam brushes (.97 for a pack), paper lunch bags ($1), stencils ($3), foam letters (.97 ea) and I already had the clothespins, but they can be picked up at dollar stores. 

I did two coats of paint on the wood, screwed the top to the post and painted over the screws. The letters had adhesive on them so I just pressed them onto the sign post. I measured the clothespines 1/2" from the edge of the post, 2" down from the bottom of the signpost and 1" down from the one above it. I added the "25" even though most calendars do not have one just to add fluidity. 

I decided to use silver letters to go along with the last week of Advent, the royal blue instead of purple because, while purple is traditional, I felt royal blue would suffice. I had planned on doing blue bags, rose bags and then white bags but couldn't find any so I ended up just using plain brown paper bags and stenciling on them. I bought cheap stencils and they wouldn't work with paint, so I used a blue sharpie I had laying around the house! It adds a pretty "down home" feel to it!

To make the bags smaller I folded them in half. Cut at the halfway point then folded the remainder down, so basically it is just the bottom part of the bag. 

Inside of the bags, I made my own cards from poster board I already had in the house (instead of buying 3x5 cards and cutting in half) and inside each bag is a Bible scripture, an activity, and a book to read (as I have 3 littles). Next year when baby is bigger I will come up with a 4th card, so each child has a card to choose in the daily bag! I'm thinking a "pay it forward" activity for the 4th card in that each child will craft or do something for a charity or something along that line. I have a year to think about 25 different ways to "pay it forward"! 

I'm also working a large stocking holder to hang on the wall (the fireplace isn't large enough for our stockings and gets to hot with the stove insert!) I will be posting on that later this week!

Merry Christmas season!

(This elk is singing a Christmas carol, haha)