Saturday, February 28, 2009

Proud of the baby.....

Today was the last game for Emily's basketball team. They didn't have a particularly winning season but she was a real contributor to the team and surely had a lot of fun. Learning to be a good team-player is a lesson that many of us can learn over and over. Homesteading is also a team sport. The sense of community and helping each other by sharing goods or knowledge is in-valuable.

Coach Jasmine and Emily after the final buzzer of the season

Monday, February 16, 2009

We are all in this together.....

I think the best part of the homesteading life for me is the sense of community. There are so many to share with and learn from. We had a blessed visit this weekend from the folks over at 2bakers4now. I was able to info with them re: long-term storage, canning, animal husbandry, and the like. It was so awesome to spend time with others who have a shared appreciation and value for the simple life and back to basic living. Thanks guys for the wonderful visit and can't wait to do it again.....I'm thinking maybe butcher time for a certain handsome

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gettin' ready for cannin'

The order from Presto arrived today!! I anxiously awaited the arrival all week. Terry assembled the new parts and I fired it up and HOUSTON......we have pressure.

Works like a charm and I will now be able to pressure two canner-fulls at once. That will be invaluable this summer when the garden is in full production allowing us to put away enough food to keep us in "free food" all winter long. That's our goal at least.

Is your canner ready to go? Now is a great time for canning up some beans of all kinds for easy and convenient use. (Check out my post a while back on canning beans and if you have any questions, just ask) Also a great way to get comfortable with your canner and the process if all this is new and intimidating. Just last year was my first year of canning and boy have I come along way. I highly recommend Ball's Blue Book of Canning. It is a must have and serves as a good guide as well as the internet. There are also many fellow bloggers who are a wealth of knowledge....I sure leaned on Kathie from TwoFrogHome to get me started. I hope I can pass on some of the knowledge she shared with me......

Free Fun...

We are blessed once again to live where we live. We can pick-up the gym key for our country elementary school and have a hot family game of HORSE for free. Our kids all attended Mt. Hall Elementary which is approximately a mile from our home. We have access to the gym as long as we watch our usage of the lights (electricity) and leave it clean. No problem. This is pic from last weekend of Terry and Martina playing a little one-on-one. This is tons of fun and helps Emily as she is playing for the Bonners Ferry Badgers 8th grade basketball team. Go BADGERS!!!! Having fun as a family is a very important value for us and being able to do so free is double value. With a large family, entertainment can sometimes be spendy but just think outside the box a little and you will be surprised what you can come up with.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stocking up.....

I haven't been to the grocery store since December except for the milk and egg run. This is one of the many blessings of a long-term food storage. I made my bi-monthly trip to the Amish-run Farm to Market Store in Libby, Mt. The above picture was snapped after all the kids unloaded the surbuban. I can't remember everything that was purchased but to name a few: a case of Frosted Flakes, a case of Captain Crunch, a case of Chocolate Peanut Butter Puff cereal, a case of black beans, a case of chili starter, a case of evaporated milk, 2 cases of peanut butter and cheese snack crackers, a flat of green chilis, a flat of diced tomatoes, 5 soy-milks, 5 chai teas, 2 cases of Celestial Seasonings Chai Tea, a case of canola oil, a 25# bag of brown sugar, a 25# bag of oatmeal, a bulk bag of table salt, a bulk bag of pepper, 2 cases of Welch's berry juice, 20 jars of white grape juice, a spiral cut ham, two black forest hams, a honey maple ham, a case of Knor soup starters, a case of mini-marshmallows, 11 cases of flavored waters, 8 jars of peanut butter, lightbulbs, 4 bottles of cold medicine, strawberry icing, cream-cheese icing, rasberry filling, cool whip, and so much more but can't remember off the top of my head. The total was $409.70. This is a MAJOR savings. I encourage you to research where you can save the most money for your grocery dollars.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Canning oh my....

Are you ready? I'm getting prepared. I have two Presto 22 quart canners. They can each accomodate 7 quarts at a time. The second one was given to me and needed replacement gauge and sealing ring. I ordered the replacement parts this morning direct from Presto. That is where I found the best price on the items as well as shipping. Are your canners ready to go? Your local extension office will most likely test your canner for free to make certain it is fully operational and safe. Take advantage of this if you need it. I would love to have an All-American canner like this but would you take a look at that price.....but oh wow to do 19 quarts at one time. With a family of our size, we rarely can in pints but that would make short, or at least, shorter work of the canning task. But I am grateful that I have the two canners that I and do and can can 14 quarts at once with them both running. Last year we purchased a double propane outdoor cooker. It sure made the chore much cooler by being able to do it outdoors. I highly recommend this set-up. It also decreased my time because the BTU on the propane cooker is greater than my indoor range.
Now is also a good time to be scouring the thrift-stores for canning jars. I also had excellent luck last year by letting those around me know that I was looking for jars. Many came to me by that way from old canning people who were no longer canning. Sure made that purchase much cheaper.
It is also time to purchase those lids and rings in bulk. You can purchase them much cheaper over the internet rather than at the grocery store. I haven't ever bought mine over the net but this year's the year. If any of you have a good source, please share with me. I'm stocking up and getting ready!!! Are you ready?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is it Spring yet???

With all this planning, I am really getting ready to rip into all these projects. The most pressing for me is a new home for my girls. See in December we lost our chicken coop and straw-bale livestock house. We were sub-zero in temps and had practically 3 foot of snow on the ground and were trying to keep everything alive. Best laid intentions....well you know the rest. Evidently the big cow knocked over the heat-lamp into the straw catching it on fire which also ended up catching the chicken coop on fire. Thanks to our wonderful neighbors and their quick action we only lost chickens and not goats or cows. This year has been ripe with lessons...many of them things that we won't do again but also a few of those that worked out quite well. So anyhow, my girls have been living in an old chicken coop at my father-n-laws. It isn't electrified and has lots of natural ventilation if you know what I we aren't getting any eggs. We do count our blessings thou that we still have hens and they will be able to lay again when the living conditions improve. Terry and I have also been thinking chicken tractor and meat birds. Our dear friends, Mike and Kimmie, have ventured into this arena with great success. He even built a whizbang to help with all the plucking. I received my Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog this week. It takes me back to drooling over the Sears Wishbook as a kid......I want one of them all. There is a great post on meat birds today at Simple Green Frugal Co-op.Check it out. I leave you with a video of a whizbang.....

The Art of Planning

I mentioned in a couple of posts back the concept of planning. Without a plan, we will not have the success that we need and desire. I am currently revisiting my old-standby of a bound notebook. I write down everything, making lists, pricing projects, daily to-do lists, budgets, grocery lists, you name it. The reason I think it works well is because all info is centrally located, it's small and portable - easily fits into my purse and is easily recognizable if misplaced. The kids are programmed to "find mom's life". It has made life much easier for this busy, active, frugal family.

Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Working Goals

Terry and I set down this weekend and really put pen to paper regarding several areas of our life. Not New Year's resolution but more of a conversation if what we are doing is getting us want we want or intend. I whole-heartedly recommend this type of conversation with your partner, lover, husband, children, etc. It helps to get everyone on the same page working towards the same acknowledged goals.

So this weekend we cleaned out the attic. Boy it sucked. We emptied it completely out, threw away a ton of garbage, made a huge pile to donate to the local thrift store, and re-organized the items that were returned to the attic. We did this so that we may blow in additional insulation in our attic. It currently has some insulation but not enough....we had ice on the roof sheathing...not a good sign. It will also help us in the summers. Most homes in our neck of the woods, have metal roofs to help the snow slide but they can sure heat up in the summer. We plan to blow in more insulation before June.

Last weekend we cleaned Terry's shop and the weekend before that we cleaned out the garden shed. Are you seeing a pattern here? Less is more and it is even better to know what you have and where it is kept. A perfect example was brake fluid. Terry replaced the brake booster on the suburban after it burned out going down the Continental Divide this summer on our way to Texas. He needed to replace all the brake fluid and there was no brake fluid here at home or so we thought. When we cleaned out the garden shed seems we actually had three bottles of the stuff....but of course we didn't know it. Knowing what you have will certainly keep you from spending money needlessly.

Made a "Dave Ramsey" account balance sheet of all our debts. Doesn't look great but also not horrible. We plan to be completely out of credit card debt by year end. Certainly reasonable and attainable.

Growing more of our own food will enable us to pay down more on our debts as opposed to having to spend it at the grocery store to feed us. There is a plan and now we just have to stick to it.

This is a pic of our kitchen table. You will notice the basket of napkins. This is another change we made a few months ago. I stopped buying papertowels and napkins. Cloth napkins are so much nicer and are reusable and are free. Just another part of the bigger plan.

Post your ideas in the comment section of the post and share your ideas, working goals, or your thoughts on frugality, saving money, etc. Can't wait to hear from you....don't be holding out on me now!!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


At times like these it is important to be able to have coping and self-soothing skills. My self-soothing skills are different from others, although some are shared. It is kinda an individual thing. Probably my greatest self-soothing activity is loving my dogs. We are a multi-dog family and there is always one willing to cuddle and get some loving. This is a picture of our youngest, Hobbes. He is a full-bred miniature dachshund. He is a real lover and loves to give lots of kisses.
It is important to have self-soothing activities that are free or near free. I love massages but that isn't always in the budget. Gardening is also very therapeutic for me but also not accessible at this time with all the snow on the ground. Some of my "free" activities are crocheting, listening to music, taking a nap, visiting with friends, etc.
Certainly during these challenging times that we find ourselves in, we will all need something or someone to help support and nuture us. My family is my rock and always there for me. I am so lucky and grateful. I count that blessing daily. So grab your pen and make a list of all your coping, self-soothing activities.