Wednesday, December 24, 2014

He is the Gift

We saw this beautiful video in church last week and I wanted to share

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Beautiful Blooms at Christmas Time!

I have been super busy with work and homesteading chores this fall. That means that my houseplants were neglected big time this year! Still, they rewarded me with beautiful blooms. And I am very grateful for such beauty from God. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Long Time, No Posts!

My apologies for not posting in over a week. I received a vaccine that has made me sick. It has left me exhausted and unable to concentrate. I really thought I would be over it by now, but I am not.

Hopefully, in the next week or so, I will be back to my normal self and posting again.

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's Garden Harvest Time!

Boy, am I tired! The Emergency Preparedness Fair was a success, we had lots of visitors! I heard quite a few people say that they got new ideas from the Fair. I will post more about the Fair on Wednesday. I was too tired after church yesterday to write the post and today I had to work. However I did have some time this evening to go into the garden and pick these! I love Acorn squash!

I also managed to clear out the leftover squash debris to plant some carrots in their place. Carrots are planted in the bed where the corn grew as well. I must admit, carrots and I don't get along. They never grow well for me. However, I have planted new varieties this year  - and I planted them sooner than I normally do. I have big hopes for this Fall's crop!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Actively Managing Your Food Storage

As I work to get things ready for the Emergency Preparedness Fair this weekend, I had to take a dose of humble pie! Some of the things I will recommend others do, I haven't done in a while. One of those things is to inventory food storage supplies. At a minimum, you should inventory it yearly. I haven't inventoried mine in two years!

So I decided that I couldn't tell others to inventory their food storage if I wasn't going to inventory mine. Notebook and pen in hand, I started my inventory. All I have to say is "What a mess!" My numbers were way off! And, I don't know how it happened. 

I have always noted when I pull something from food storage and then add it to the replacement list to get another one. How could my inventory sheet be so wrong? I really have no idea. But, this taught me a lesson: you can't be complacent in managing your food storage! To have an accurate idea of how much you have (and to be sure you have all the ingredients need to cook your planned dinners) you must keep a watch of your inventory! There is no other way around it. Take a yearly inventory!

When I stop to think about it, it doesn't seem logical that I would have food storage and then not know if I can count on it. All that food would really be a waste if I didn't have an ingredient needed to turn it into meals.

Taking inventory doesn't take a lot of time either. It only took me a little over an hour to complete mine. A good portion of that time was taken trying to find things and remember where everything is located. This is another illogical point in my mind. Why did I not take inventory last year, when it only takes a few minutes to complete? I know I got busy, but really, I wasn't able to find one hour in a whole year?  My actions mystify me!

I have a plan to fix this next year. I will now declare one month in the summer as Food Storage Inventory month. If I inventory the items one room at a time, (I have stuff all over the house) it will only take a few minutes each day and overall the time won't even be noticeable.

So, the moral of the story is, don't be complacent like I was! Inventory your food storage soon. That way, you will have peace of mind knowing everything you need will be there when an emergency happens. It really gives you peace of mind knowing that you can feed your family no matter what is happening in the rest of the world!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

I hope all my readers in the US enjoy this 'end of summer' holiday! Whether or not you plan a picnic or party, I hope you have a safe, fun one!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Busy Week!

Boy, I had a super busy week with a "To Do" list as long as my arm! Still, late today I managed to can some apple sauce.

The applesauce was made from Gala apples (my favorite!). They are super sweet this year. I have 2 bushels sitting in my kitchen right now. When the Winesap apples come in next month I will get one or two more bushels!

Honestly, for about an hour of work, you can't beat homemade apple sauce. (It takes slightly longer than that if you are canning it.) We never purchase store bought applesauce anymore, it is bland and dull. Frankly it is tasteless! The recipe that I use came from page 182 of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. In my opinion, it is the only canning book you should ever need.

Home canning is so rewarding! It is a comfort to me to know that I can grow and preserve my own food! AND make it taste good!  I hope I am making my great-grandmothers proud!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Look At What I Picked Today!

The garden is busy this month, and summer isn't over yet! We have approximately 6 - 8 weeks of good summer weather left!

I must tell you, I am thrilled with my popcorn harvest! Growing popcorn isn't like growing sweet corn (we don't eat sweet corn). It is much easier to grow. It is a 'plant it, and forget it' type of crop. I didn't use any chemicals on it. (Well, I did feed it last month with a chemical fertilizer so technically, I did use chemicals - but the non-organic among us will understand what I mean!) It stayed bug free all season. The husks seem to be wrapped a bit tighter and the corn starts out much harder than sweet corn. No problem with worms at all! Picking it today, I noticed some ants enslaving aphids, but they were not on the ears of corn so I just sprayed them with the hose before I added the stalks to the compost pile.

Tomatoes are everywhere. At first I was thinking I wasn't going to can some sauce but now I am having second thoughts. I have given away so many tomatoes, I don't know what to do with them! Making sauce may be in the works for next month.

Also picked but not in the picture are 1 gallon of green beans and a pint of strawberries. (They didn't fit on the chair!) The strawberries are doing great this year because we are having cooler than normal weather. As a reminder, these are ever bearing strawberries, not June bearing. Ever bearing will produce strawberries all summer long - well into November here in the south.

The green beans will reach peak soon and I am so glad I bought a new canner this year! This canner will work outside on the grill. No electricity needed to pressure can green beans any more!

Watch for a post on how to pressure can foods without electricity next month!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Living Without Electricity: Living Without a Microwave

You may recall that a few months ago my microwave broke. (You can read that post, here.) Now, I don't use the microwave often, but my husband does. We called a repair man to fix it but it was old and beyond repair. So, we started looking to replace it. I don't have a regular microwave, I have an Advantium Oven. Advantium Ovens are more like a microwave/convection oven combination. It speed cooks. For example, it can bake a potato in 10 minutes. A new one costs $1,400.

My microwave may look pretty, but it doesn't work!

When we went to the appliance store to look at one, we realized that not only did we need a new one, but it was going to require a bit of demolition work to get the new one to fit. This is because ours is 14 years old and the new models are about 1 inch bigger. My tile back splash is in the way! Ugh!

We decided to wait. My husband announced that if we can go without a vacuum cleaner, we can go without a microwave for a year! I was all for it! So, we started our journey without a microwave. We don't miss it! As a matter of fact, food tastes better when you don't use the microwave! Not a little better, a lot better! Everything has so much more flavor! Potatoes and vegetables are so good, they don't require all the toppings most people use. (Another plus here is weight control - those toppings are fattening!)

Not having a microwave requires a bit of planning because you can't just defrost something in a few minutes. In addition, it takes a bit more time to cook. How much more planning/time to cook? In my opinion, not enough to notice! A few seconds to pull meat out of the freezer a day or two in advance, 10 to 30 minutes in advance to steam the vegetables on the grill, in the Sun Oven or on the stove. A few minutes in advance to defrost a slice of bread (if the bread isn't on the counter already.) About one to one and a half hours in advance to bake potatoes. 

The biggest difference for us is we must think about what we are going to eat a few days in advance. This is the hardest part. When you are busy, most people don't think about what they are going to eat days in advance. So, we plan out what we are going to eat for the week on Sunday afternoon. Then, on a daily basis, first thing in the morning, I will take out anything that needs to be defrosted.  For example, on Monday, I will take out the meat we will eat on Wednesday. If we are having potatoes that day, I will also pull them out and set them on the counter. (If they are on the kitchen counter, I won't forget to put them in the Sun Oven later in the day.)

I should mention here that I don't think the work involved with cooking takes any additional time. For example, it takes the same amount of time to prepare potatoes for the microwave as it does to prepare them for the Sun Oven. It also takes the same amount of time to prepare vegetables for the microwave as it does to prepare them to be steamed.

Some one at church asked me if I missed my microwave. I answered truthfully, not one bit! Instead, I have decided to store baking pans in mine. This is one appliance that I don't think we will ever replace!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Have Updated My Blog List

I have added a few new blogs to my blog list. These blogs deal with topics that are near and dear to my heart (and more often then not, themes of my blog posts too!) You should take a look!

The first two are written by the daughter of a friend of mine. Prepare Every Needful Thing and Consecration Acres. The first is a blog that she posts to monthly on Emergency Preparedness. It is written for her ward/congregation (she is the Emergency Preparedness Specialist.) It has all kinds of good information on what you need to do to take care of your family in an emergency of any kind. The second is about her journey with her land. She lives in California on quite a few acres with room to breathe (just what we want to do if we can ever find a piece of land that meets most of our requirements.) I read her journey with fascination, and in anticipation of having my own someday soon. 

The next one is about frugal living and is called Economizing Measures. It is written by a woman who calls herself Ladyhawthorne. She has a few blogs that she posts to regularly. The other one that I follow is called Canterbury Cottage. Economizing Measures has lots of information about how to save money and tighten your budget. Definitely something that is needed today! Ladyhawthorne and I have been commenting on another blog we both read for quite a few years now. She has some really great ideas on how to be frugal!

I read the last one, well, just because! A Modern Day Victorian Lady. I would have fit right in during the Victorian Era! I love reading about the clothes and food of that era. This blog also posts about general lifestyle information of what it was like to live back then. It makes me feel closer to my ancestors.

I hope you find these new blogs as interesting as I do!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Look What I Picked Today!

I am really blessed this year! After my chipmunk and bunny rabbit issues of Spring, my garden has been a haven for me. It is mostly looking after itself now . (I have started a new work project part time that has been taking me away from the garden.) The good news is, I haven't had a need to spray chili pepper powder in weeks! I have more winter squash than I have had in a long time (they aren't ready to pick yet) and the popcorn is almost ready to harvest! 

However, today is about this picture.

These are Granny Smith apples. My husband and I have eaten these for dessert a few times this month. They are much sweeter than the Granny Smith apples you can get at the store! I also have a few more left on the tree. Not bad for a baby tree only 1 1/2 years old!

Next week, I am going to go to our local orchard and purchase our normal 2 bushels of apples to can. Between canning apples, work, zumba, ASL (American Sign Language) classes and the normal work I do around here, I won't know if I am coming or going!

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Ways to Live Frugally

With the price of food going higher and higher these days, it is always a good idea to periodically check for new ideas on how you can make your budget work!

I found a few web sites that offer some new ideas on how to be frugal. This is definitely 'thinking outside the box'! Some of the new ideas that caught my eye:
  • Do routine shopping at the big box stores online instead! Save yourself the gas money and shop at or Walmart offers free shipping if you purchase $50 or more.  All non-refrigerated household items you get on routine shopping trips would work well for this technique. Delivered directly to your door. Can't beat that!
  • Stop buying clothes! Instead, repair the ones you currently own. This may be a hard habit to break in our 'throw away' society. (I do this already but I don't typically see it mentioned when discussing frugal living on other web sites.)
  • Buy over-the-counter medicine on-line! The idea states that can offer cheaper versions of medicine you can purchase over the counter at your favorite store. I am going to have to look into this!
  • Here's one that we did this year at our house. Purchase an Amazon Prime membership. We have saved so much money by purchasing things on-line (with free shipping) instead of making 'special' trips to stores we don't normally go to. Many times the price on is cheaper as well. If it isn't, add it to your Wishlist and wait for the price to drop before you purchase it
Take a look at these websites to see even more ideas!

25 Ways I Save Money  (Scroll down to the bottom of the post for other blogs that post about frugal living.)

I picked up some new ideas I am going to try! I hope you do too!

Friday, August 8, 2014

I Am Speaking In Church This Sunday!

And I am very excited about it! What am I speaking on? Why, Family History of course! In my Church, we don't have a professional clergy. Members of the Priesthood takes turns on leading the ward (congregation). For speakers each week, we all take turns! My topic is The Blessings of Doing Family History Work.

I also have other Church news! Our ward is hosting an Emergency Preparedness Fair in September and I am in charge of a display of Food Storage, and Home Preparations. Home Preparations include Gardening, Home Canning, and Alternative Methods of Cooking in an Emergency. WOW! Am I excited! As you all know, these are some of my favorite topics here on this blog.

I will be sure to keep you updated on the Emergency Preparedness Fair as I work on it and I will take pictures of the actual event. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Skills Your Great-Grandparents Had

I often post about the unique skills our Great-Grandparents had. I believe many of those skills are important to relearn to lead a self sufficient life. I often long for the slower paced, simple life my ancestors had and I try to emulate that where possible in today's world. I have succeeded in certain areas, and need much more work in others!

To help with those skills I lack, I often read about what life was like in past generations. I feel, it brings me closer to my family history.  I really believe I was born in the wrong century and I would have been much more at home in a century of the past!  

If you feel likewise, you may enjoy this article I found! Since my church gave me a free membership to, I have been spending time there in search of ancestors I do not know. One of those searches led me to this article!

I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Do You Know What This Plant Is?

I have been looking for this plant all summer and I can't find it in my area! I am going to look even harder in August because that is when it blooms and it will be easier to spot. This plant is called Thistle and it will make rennet that you can use to make cheese! You can see how to do that here.

I have learned a lot about Thistle this year. One of the disappointing things I have learned is that it only works with goat's milk or sheep's milk. If you use cow's milk, the cheese will turn bitter.

In addition, I now know that there are many different kinds of Thistle. The variety you need to make cheese is called Bull Thistle. It is also know as Scots or Scottish Thistle, Spear Thistle or common Thistle. Here is an article from Wikipedia about it. (The picture above also came from Wikipedia.) The kinds of Thistle you see in your back yard may also be Milk Thistle, Musk Thistle, Sow Thistle, Star Thistle, Golden Thistle or one of many more varieties! The problem for me is, I am not experienced enough to know what I am looking at. The flowers of all of them look the same to me (in the pictures I looked at). Even when I do find a real plant, I am not sure I will know what variety it is!

I have also learned that you can make rennet from the sap of fig trees (our fig tree died from the extreme cold last winter - I have not replaced it),  artichoke flowers, Stinging Nettle or the fronds of yucca plants. Stinging Nettle and the flowers of the artichoke can be used with cow's milk.  

I am going to add looking for Stinging Nettle to my search for Bull Thistle this month. Planting artichokes in my garden may be in my future as well! I will need to do more research on artichokes to see if one variety is better than another for making cheese.

Making cheese from thistle rennet was a goal of mine this year. While I make not achieve that goal, I sure have learned a lot about many different plants that can be used in the cheese making process!

Eventually, I will have success in making cheese from a sustainable rennet source!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Easy Ways to Save Money: Repair What You Have!

A few weeks ago, I spray washed the patio and the patio furniture. (Spray washing is a must in the south, both the patio and the patio furniture get mold on them. Spray washing with a power washer is the only way to remove it.) I don't find it necessary to spray wash the patio every year, every other year seems to do fine. Same with the patio furniture. However, this year was the year to do both.

My patio furniture is wood. It has also been a bit rickety for the past few years. I wasn't sure it was going to survive the spray washing!  When I finished, this is what I had for one of the chairs.

Two of the slats that formed the seat fell off! In addition, the front piece disintegrated in front of me! Well, it is to be expected, wood doesn't last a long time in the humidity here. And, these chairs are 21 years old. (They have been repaired and repainted a few times over those 21 years.) Is it finally time to purchase new ones? Well, I was thinking it was (and getting excited about having new furniture!) That is, until I went back out an inspected both chairs after they dried. If repaired and repainted again, they could last another two to three years. I could hear my great- grandmothers saying to me "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without!" As much as I wanted new furniture, I resisted and decided to repair what I had instead. 

The first step was to replace what was missing. My husband cut some replacement pieces from extra wood we had left over from another project. These were simple straight cuts, nothing fancy or hard. While he was doing that, I decided the two slats that fell off when washing, could still be used. I used new finishing nails to reattached them back onto the chair. I am not sure they are sturdy enough to last three years, but if needed we will cut additional pieces at a later date and replace them. For now, the chairs are no longer rickety, the new pieces eliminated that. So, here is what we ended up with before painting.

It was now time to paint. (I had to paint the chairs in the garage because thunderstorms were forecasted for that evening. As you can see in the background, Molly was helping me.) I had some redwood stain that I purchased a few years ago at the home improvement store and never used. It was on sale and I knew I would use it some time in the future! Everything on our patio is wood and it all needs to be repainted every few years. I try very hard to have everything we need on hand for everyday living. When you determine the time to purchase items, you can wait until they go on sale. With just a bit of planning, you should never have to pay full price for anything! Anyway, here is what I purchased.

Two coats later, here are the wood chairs.

I also repainted the table between the chairs. That didn't need any repair, just repainting. That table is 20 years old. Next up is the steps to the hot tub. One of the sets of legs fell apart when I spray washed it!

Would I really like new patio furniture? Yes, I would!  While I do want new furniture, spending money to purchase it pains me! I simply can't do it while the furniture I have can be repaired to last just a few more years. Being frugal over the long term is more important then the few weeks of gratification you will get from the new furniture. As Dave Ramsey often says, "If you live like no one else, then later, you can live like no one else!"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Seeking Out the Names of Your Ancestors

I post about family history regularly on this blog. That is because it is a subject near and dear to me. I believe it is important for everyone (especially children) to know about their family and where they came from. My Church is very involved in creating convenient, easy ways you can find your ancestors. Unlike, Find My or My, access to all records stored by the church are free. So, where do you go to find this information? Why,, of course! 

Click on the Search drop down menu at the top of the page and select Records. Enter the name(s) of the ancestors you know to find the ones you don't. Marriage records are a big help here. Most states (and countries) require the names of parents for anyone asking for a marriage license. This is a great way to find new people you didn't know about!

If you have been to the web site before and were unable to locate anyone, let me assure you new records are added all the time! If you haven't been to the web site in a few months, then millions more records have been added. 

Let me give you an example. Last Monday, Family Search wanted to break a record by having over 50,000 people index records in one day. (Indexing is taking digital images of paper records and then keying the information from those records into a database.) I participated in this record breaking event! I am thrilled to say that so did  66,510 other people. We all helped to break the old record of 49,025 indexers participating on one day. The best part of this news is that over 4 million new records have been added to the database. That is 4 million records in one day! Millions and millions of new records are added each year!

Now, lest you think these records are all from the US, let me assure you they are not! Recently, records have been added from Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Canada, Croatia, Peru, Poland, Brazil, England, Germany, Isle of Man, Netherlands, and the United States. Current indexing projects include records from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Hungary, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Sir Lanka, Sweden, England, Uruguay, Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. WOW! When I say billions of records are currently available, I really mean it!

All of this is done for free. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will never charge money for you to see any of this work. No matter your religious affiliation, the Church wants everyone to know who their ancestors are! Take some time this week to get to know yours!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: This web site has all sorts of tutorials and on-line help if you don't know where to start. It has records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use your local family history center. There are family history centers in almost every country in the world!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Easy Ways to Save Money: Clean With Vinegar!

This seems like a 'no brainer' to me. Cleaning with vinegar (and baking soda) is the cheapest, most effective way to clean anything! Boy, will it save you money over commercial cleaning products!

I use vinegar to clean all over my house.  Get some spray bottles at the big box store (label them so you know what is in it) and store it just as you would any commercial cleaner. Mine live under my kitchen sink. Here are some of the ways you can use vinegar and eliminate the cost of commercial cleaning products:

Windows, counter tops, kitchen table, and other general cleaning needs: one part vinegar and one part water. Spray and wipe.

Kitchen sink: sprinkle baking soda (just as you would commercial cleaner) and then spray a few squirts of vinegar and water. Scrub with a sponge.

Shower stall, bathtub, toilet and other bathroom surfaces: Mix vinegar with some dish washing soap, spray and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe clean. (You can see more details on how to make this cleaner and clean your bathroom with it here.)

Laundry: Use vinegar (full strength) in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.

Dish washing rinse aid: Let your rinse aid dispenser completely empty and then fill it with vinegar (full strength).

Garbage disposal: Freeze some vinegar in ice cube trays, put a couple of cubes in the garbage disposal and turn it on.

Round Up replacement: OK, this isn't really a cleaning product, but it is a chemical you don't have to purchase! Spray the weed with vinegar (full strength). Works great for weeds that crop up between sections of concrete or in your landscaping.

When you run out of a cleaning product, instead of purchasing a new bottle, replace it with vinegar! You will get a safe, chemical free, effective cleaner that will save you money!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Peaches, Peaches, Everywhere!

It is peach season here in the south and today my husband and I went to our local peach orchard to pick up our year's supply of peaches. (Our yard isn't big enough to have our own peach trees.) Don't they just look delicious!

This is the start of a new year of peach cobbler, peach smoothies, peach ice cream and peaches on morning cereal! Not to mention, eating them fresh while they last! Yum!

Normally, I can about 2 bushels of peaches each year. So, any guesses what I will be doing next week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am Taking Some New Classes!

I have been having a lot of fun this year doing things just for me! Target practice, Zumba, tap dancing and hula dancing! (I posted about this earlier this year too, can see that post here.)

Well as an update from my last post, let me tell you that when the weather started to warm up in April, I stopped the tap dancing lessons. It was a very long drive to get to the dance studio and I was getting tired of the drive. Besides, garden season was here and I knew I wouldn't miss it.

Hula dancing is on a summer break so, a few weeks ago I started mixing up my Zumba classes with some water aerobics and yoga.  I I have been having more fun then I ever thought possible. I should have done this years ago!

I am now excited to start a new class that will bring an opportunity to serve at my church. Tomorrow, I am going to start ASL(American Sign Language) classes! We have a quite a few deaf church members in my area and we are in need of interpreters. We recently had a few interpreters move to another state and few we do have now, work so hard each week and never get any breaks  So, I have volunteered to learn ASL so I can help!

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sleeping Like Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents Did!

Are you an insomniac? Do you ever wonder why you wake up at 2:00 am everyday or almost everyday? 

Here is an interesting article I found that may help you to rethink what an insomniac really is!

Even if it won't help you cope the morning after those sleepless nights, I hope you will find some solace in the fact that this is the way your ancestors slept too!

Friday, July 11, 2014

To-Die-For Blueberry Muffins

As I have mentioned a few times before, it is blueberry season here in the south. Blueberries are everywhere! In my opinion, the best way to celebrate is to bake something with them! I got this recipe from I use them a lot because you can see many comments on each recipe and adjust as needed based on the comments. This recipe got 4 1/2 stars from 7,032 people! I expected it to be a winner and it is! You can see the original here. This post is my interpretation of the recipe.


To-Die-For Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour  (I used white whole wheat flour that I ground myself.)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil  (I used olive oil.)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk  (I read in the comments that buttermilk makes it creamier tasting. I didn't have any fresh buttermilk so I used regular skim milk.)
1 cup blueberries  (I used 2 cups.)

For the topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour  (I used store bought all purpose flour.)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Start with the batter. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a one cup liquid measuring cup, pour in the oil. Add the egg and fill the rest of the cup with milk. I used a 1 1/4 liquid measuring cup so it wouldn't overflow when I poured the milk.

Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Although it didn't say in the directions, I whipped the liquid ingredients together with a fork for a minute or two before I added them.

Fold in the blueberries.

Making the batter was super simple and didn't take more than 10 minutes! 

Next, make the topping. The recipe states that the batter/topping will make 8 very large muffins. In my opinion, the topping makes too much for 8 muffins. However, since I doubled the amount of blueberries, I had enough batter for 15 smaller muffins. I was quite generous with the topping and I still had some left over! If you are only making 8 muffins, you can reduce the amount of topping you make.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. I baked mine for 20 minutes because I made smaller muffins. 

Loaded with 'yummyness'! (Is that a word?) Quick and easy to make, and oh so good! I am going to make some homemade cultured buttermilk this weekend and make these again!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Garden Changes are Finished!

It took much longer than I wanted and much, much longer than I expected, but last week I finally got everything in the garden and all is growing. I am very glad because I start a new work project this week! Here is a recap.

The blueberries are slowly ripening! I am going out today to pick some more.

The peanuts are flowering.

The corn is quite tall!

Tomatoes always do well and tend to not need any help from me. Except of course, water. They are in pots and do require lots of watering. 

The first green beans I planted are flowering. They had been bothered by both bugs and a bunny rabbit eating the leaves. I sprayed them with chili pepper powder 'tea' mixed with a touch of soap and everything is leaving them alone now.

Just look at the difference between the top leaves and the bottom leaves! Really, there isn't any need to use harsh chemicals on your food production when a simple chili pepper powder spray works so well! The last of the green beans I planted are up now too.

I am sorry to say I am having a problem with fire blight on my apple trees this year and had to spray with a fungicide. I believe it is under control now. It hasn't rained in a week and the night time temperatures are in the 70's now so hopefully I won't have to spray for it again. You can see the fungicide on the apple in this picture

The tobacco is planted too. I have so much this year, I have it planted all over the front yard!

I also created new landscaping beds in the back yard to add more flowers and bushes. Nothing is planted there yet so I won't bore you with empty pictures.  I haven't decided what to plant yet. In the south, planting time for bushes, trees and other perennials is fall so I still have time to decide what to put there. I also won't bore you with additional posts of my garden this year. I do understand if you aren't into gardening, it can be boring to read about.

However, I will show you pictures of the harvest when it comes in!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Always remember that freedom isn't free. A lot of good people died to give this country (and the world) freedom.

Enjoy your day! I hope you have fun at a picnic, barbecue or even the beach! Before the fireworks show, remember to say a prayer for this wonderful country of ours!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Save Money by Propagating Your Own House Plants

This post has a slight twist on how you can propagate your own plants. I am not talking about saving seeds from your garden. I am not talking about dividing up your outdoor plants. (I wrote a post on that last month.) This post is about how to save a plant and from it, make a new one. It is so much cheaper then purchasing new plants!

This particular opportunity occurred when I dropped one of my African violet plants. The pot broke and so did the plant. I really like growing African violets. The flowers are quite pretty and the plant is easy to grow. So, as I picked up the pieces, my thoughts turned to how to replace it. Normal people would have discarded the plant and broken pot and purchased new ones. I think that you, my readers, know by now that I am not normal! Of course, I didn't purchase a new one. I believe that would waste money. There is another way!

Instead, I carefully looked at each piece of the plant to see if any could be salvaged. I was in luck because I found one.

Place the piece in a disposable cup with a bit of water in the bottom. Have the water barely cover the bottom end of the plant. (If you add too much water, the plant will rot.)

Check it every few days to see if it needs new water. In a few weeks it will grow new roots. I got busy with life and this one stayed in the cup for slightly over one month. Don't add anything but water. The plant doesn't need any food.

Now it is time to re-pot the plant. I didn't have to purchase another African violet pot because someone gave me one as a gift a few years ago and I wasn't using it.

And we're done! Simple, effective, not much time or effort, and it didn't cost anything. While I did lose some of the older leaves during the past month, I didn't lose the plant. The leaves I lost will be replaced with new ones in just a few short weeks! I expect it to flower again before the summer is over.

This idea works for many, many different kinds of house plants. I have even used this technique on outdoor plants. One of the peanut plants my unwanted chipmunk tore up earlier this year was also salvageable. I used the same process on it. I brought it inside and place it in a cup. In a few weeks it grew new roots and I had a plant that could go back out into the garden. In addition to peanuts, this year I have also had success doing this with strawberries and roses.

Being frugal is really about watching your pennies. Saving a few cents here and there can really add up! You may find there isn't any need to spend money on new plants! You can propagate your own for free!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Make Your Own Chili Pepper Powder Insecticide/Critter Repellent

This week I have run out of a few things: chili pepper powder, garlic powder, onion powder, personal soap, chicken broth and parsley flakes. Normal people would just go to the grocery store and purchase these items. Will I? Of course not! 

I will make my own! I still have issues with critters in my garden so the first thing I made this week is the chili pepper powder. I am going to state the obvious here and say is not possible to make your own chili pepper powder if you don't grow your own chili peppers. You may recall that last year I grew three plants and harvested about 250 chili peppers. They produced all summer and fall! Here is a picture of my plants from last year. You can barely see some of the red peppers peeking out from behind the leaves.  I also saved some seeds for this year. The plants this year are not quite this big yet.

One you have picked some peppers, cut them up and dry for storage.

I vacuum sealed mine in a food saver bag and stored them in my pantry. I took them out yesterday and opened the package. Here they are.

The next step is to set up the grinder. I have a Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain/Flour Mill. I use the stone grinders when I make flour and the metal ones when I grind pepper, garlic and onions. The spices can embed themselves into the stones (and be difficult to remove). I don't want the spice flavors to mix with the whole wheat flour so I solve that problem by using the metal grinders. 

When you have made enough powder, fill your jars. I have some old chili pepper powder jars that I purchased from the store a few years ago.

I am not using this powder in recipes. (I have a lot of digestive problems and can't eat chili pepper powder.) The label from the store states that the purchased version contains salt as well as garlic powder. Since mine is just for bug and critter repellent, I don't bother adding these ingredients.

I made enough powder to fill four jars. It took a few hours to hand grind that much because I was multi-tasking and doing a few other things at the same time.  

The last thing to do is to sprinkle it on the plants. 

This is woad. I haven't had a problem with critters eating it in years past, but this year it must taste extra yummy! You don't need this much powder. Just a few sprinkles will do. I poured too much because I was focused on taking the picture and not focused on sprinkling. 

Processing food in a non-electric kitchen would not be possible without my Wonder Junior! It is a must have kitchen appliance for me! This afternoon, I think I will grind some garlic powder!

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Would My Great-Grandmothers Do?

I ask myself that question all the time! Anytime I have a task that must be accomplish, my preference is to approach it the same way my great-grandmothers or great-great-grandmothers did.

I am sure everyone knows, you have four great-grandmothers. (Two grandmothers, four great-grandmothers, eight great- great-grandmothers, etc.) For most of my life, I knew about three of my great-grandmothers. My mother talked about her grandmother all the time, (on her mother's side). My father's mother talked about her mother, grandmother and mother-in-law as well. The great-grandmother I never had the opportunity to hear about was my mother's grandmother on her father's side. She didn't get to grow up with her father, hence she didn't know very much about him or his ancestors. I only had the opportunity to visit with him a few times. The few stories he told me about his family were very general in nature. I never even knew his mother's name!

All that changed when my church gave me a free subscription to! (All LDS church members in good standing are getting a one year subscription to for free this year!) It took a few weeks, (and prayers asking for help), but I found her!

Let me introduce you to Mary Walsh! I found her in the 1915 New York State Census. Although she was born in New York, her parents emigrated here from Canada when her older sister Anna was a baby. Her ancestry is Irish. From what my grandfather told me, she married a man who ancestry is from Austria. I don't know his name yet, when the family moved from Austria, they changed their name to Howard. I am not sure what they changed it from. In the 1915 census record shown above, Mary was a widow. I haven't found her marriage records yet.

I cannot describe how thrilled I am that I found my great-grandmother! Working on my mother's line of ancestry has been difficult, to say the least.  Her relatives have very common names! I must pour through thousands of records to find the right ones! However, our Heavenly Father has promised blessing to those that do family history work, so I know it is all worth it!

Take some time to get to know your ancestors. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: This web site has all sorts of tutorials, on-line help, and live customer service representatives available to help if you don't know where to start. You can access records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use your local family history center.