Sunday, December 9, 2012

Homemade Kettle Corn

With Christmas quickly approaching, I have been trying to think of homemade gifts that I could make for giving.  I’m a huge kettle corn fan and up till about two years ago, I had to wait for summer fairs to come around so that I could buy my kettle corn.  I have tried several in the grocery store, but ugh, I just did not like them.  So I started looking on the internet and found this recipe on
Here is what you will need:
  • 1 Large Pan
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil (or oil of your choice—I have used coconut and peanut with great success)
  • ¼ cup white sugar (can use brown sugar—gives it a caramel color and taste)
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • Salt

Pour oil and 3 kernels in pan and place over medium heat until you hear all three kernels pop. 
Once popped, add sugar and stir it around well, then add the remainder of the popcorn and cover it.  I then alternate every three seconds from leaving the pot on the burner to shaking it.

  Once the popping has slowed, remove from stove top and immediately sprinkle with salt. 

Let the batch cool a little, and enjoy!  WARNING---this is highly addictive! 
If I need to store (which rarely ever happens because I eat the whole batch), I will store in a glass container so that the popcorn stays nice and crunchy.  I find that plastic containers will soften the popcorn.  For gift giving, I like to use cellophane bags tied with a little piece of jute—very country looking.  Why not combine a bag of kettle corn with maybe a movie for a movie night Christmas gift! 
Enjoy….and blessings. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just Tell Someone...

Just Tell Someone…..
It’s that time of the year when most of us will reminisce on the memories of Christmases past.  For some of us, this will be a joyous Christmas that will be bursting with new memories and traditions……..however, for some, it may be a painful Christmas because we may have experienced the painful loss of someone dear to us  this past year.  As I personally reflect on Christmases of the past and also what has happened in my life this past year, I am thankful for the many blessings. 
Unexpectedly this year, my Dad who is 73 had open heart surgery- a triple bypass.  He started with chest pains near the end of the summer, and after a visit to the Dr’s, he was scheduled for a stent.  While in the hospital awaiting his stent, the Dr discovered more blockages and sent him directly (by ambulance) to a hospital that specializes in open heart surgery.  Needless to say, my family was a bit shocked that he went from having a stent to open heart!  Almost three months later, he is doing fine and getting back to his normal self.  This really got me thinking of how blessed I am that God has given me more time with my Dad. 
While visiting my Dad one evening, my Mom and were looking at old photos of my three siblings and me (where does the time go?).  What really caught my eye was that there were so many pictures of my brother and me (who are only 16 months apart) and the pictures depicted two happy kids!   I noticed that most of the pictures were taken at home because that is where we spent most of our time, and we were so happy.  It got me thinking about the life that my parents had given us.  They didn’t have much money raising four children and my Mom being a stay home Mom, but they gave us what they could, and we were always happy and well taken care of.  This is where the inspiration came for this blog “Just Tell Someone”.  After my visit with my folks, I went home and wrote my parents a letter thanking them for all they did for me growing up as well as thanking them for being such loving and caring parents.   I decided to put my thoughts on paper because writing allows me to list all the things I want to say (not forgetting anything) and secondly, they would have the letter in case they ever wanted to read it again. 

I also have been blessed with a very special Aunty (Rita) who is battling cancer for the second time.  I don’t recall when or how we became close; but I do know is that she is such a caring, loving, giving, funny and strong person who always showed up with her “big old heart” whenever I needed her.  I also sent my Aunty a letter telling her the reasons I love her.  

The purpose of these letters was not just to tell them all that I loved them, but why I do and how they have made a difference in my life.  As I began to think about all the other special people in my life, I thought that this would be the perfect time of the year to “just tell someone”.  Who in your life needs to hear or would love to hear how special they or how they have made a difference in your life by just being in it?  I think that this would make a very special Christmas present to the ones you love in your life.  I would love to hear about the special people in your life and what makes them so special to you!  Just tell someone……

Until next time....blessings....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Warm & Comforting Old Fashioned Oatmeal

I can’t think of a better time of the year than the fall & winter to have oatmeal for breakfast.  There is nothing like having your hands wrapped around a warm bowl of oatmeal on a chilly morning, with the aromas of oats, cinnamon and fruit tickling your nose and face.  I like to think of oatmeal as comfort food for breakfast, and I prefer to have thick oatmeal that will stick to your ribs and keep your tummy full!  My Hunnee (husband) eats oatmeal year around, and so I always felt good about buying him those oatmeal packets with all the different flavors and brands to choose from!  I too was eating oatmeal regularly (the extra fiber brand) but got tired of the rolled oats & dust in the packets (I’m an Old Fashioned Whole Oats girl) and also the growling of my tummy only a short time later.  It then came to me, why wasn’t I making homemade oatmeal every day?  The first and probably only reason was because of the inconvenience and time to get it ready; after all my husband and I both work and our mornings are very busy.  So I thought about creating single serving bags similar to Quaker, but, including what we enjoy and also controlling the amount of sugar.  Here is my basic oatmeal packet recipe: 
Basic Oatmeal:
¼ cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon crushed oatmeal
½ tsp or so of sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
Sprinkle of cinnamon

I used 1--42 oz container of Old Fashioned Oats and made 40 bags of oatmeal.  To make the crushed oatmeal, I take approximately 2 cups of oats and put them in my vita mix and grind them up—this helps to thicken my oatmeal and give it more substance.  I measure all the ingredients and put them in the snack size Ziploc bags and store them in the oats container.  I also have an extra oats container that we toss the used bags in so that we can reuse them.  
I put approximately 2/3 cup of milk in a small sauce pan (Hunnee just uses water) and warm it up on low for just a couple seconds before dumping in a bag of oatmeal.  Cooking the oatmeal on the stove takes probably 2 minutes from start to finish; it cooks up fast, so you will want to watch it so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.  If you prefer a more runny oatmeal, then add more milk, I prefer mine a bit thicker, so the 2/3 cup works perfect for me. 
Like I mentioned, this is a basic recipe—just like you would get from a store bought packet---but there are so many ways that you can have fun with your oatmeal.  I am trying to lower my cholesterol, so I have started adding flax seed, ground flax seed and wheat bran.  I also like to use various types of fruit such as peaches, bananas or blueberries.  Still other variations include nuts, pumpkin spice and a little squirt of some local honey…YUM! 
Like many of you, I am trying to find ways to conserve money in this tough economy, so I did the math to figure out if there was any savings at all.  To make the basic oatmeal including the bags, it cost me .15¢ per bag.  Quaker figured out to be .25¢ a bag, and the local store brand cost .17¢ a bag.  Because this is my second time around making this oatmeal, I am reusing the bags, so this batch cost me 13¢ per bag.  I also just learned on the Homesteading Barn Hop that I can make my own brown sugar, so I will try that out next time which will also cut down on the cost of purchasing brown sugar.  I know this isn’t a huge savings when you compare to the store brands, but it is still a savings, and your kids can help you make these.  I also have to consider that I am controlling the amount of sugar that is going into these bags as well knowing exactly what was put into these bags, not to mention our tummies are staying fulling longer.  As I mentioned in my last post, there is a satisfaction that comes when you are preparing for your family that is so difficut to explain, and for most, it is only understood when it is experienced.    
Do you have a favorite homemade oatmeal recipe or concoction?  I would love to hear from you!  

Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chopping, Splitting and Stacking.....

Chopping, Splitting and Stacking…
It’s that time of the year again!  The leaves here in New England are changing and starting to fall.......replacing the green grass with a potpourri of orange, yellow and red colors!  The mornings are darker and much cooler/colder than just a few short weeks ago.  The daylight is shorter as the sun quickly sets around 6pm now, (and even earlier as the days goes on) and I begin to recognize that familiar nip in the evening air with the smell of crisp leaves and wood stoves warming homes all around me.…..yes, it’s autumn in New England!  
When I was a young girl, the fall meant that my brother and I would only have a short time to play outside before it got dark.  Fall also meant that Mom would make lots of goodies because it was the perfect time of the year for homemade cinnamon rolls, warm tapioca and pumpkin cookies.  Fall also included visits from my Pappy, which around this time of the year was not so welcoming.  You see, around this time of the year, Pappy would bring us truckloads of wood to be spilt.   I can still remember coming home from school and seeing his old, green Dodge truck in the driveway—empty of course—because he had just left the huge pile of timber in the backyard.   As I walked in, I pretended to be happy about what lay outside just feet away from where I was standing.  I would give him a hug and he would say “I brought you something…” and I would say “yup….thanks Pappy".     
Things have changed a bit….Pappy is no longer here to bring me wood, but boy I wish he was here because I have so many questions for him about his homesteading with my Nana.  If they could see me now, they would be so proud to know that I have followed in their footsteps; I even got married on the same day they got married!  I am so thankful that God has made me a person who loves and appreciates the outdoors just like Nana and Pappy.  I also enjoy and find so much satisfaction in doing things the old fashioned way especially when it comes to preparing food for my Hunnee (husband) and me.  God is also showing me how to live simply and to focus on what is truly important. Like Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  As one friend said to me (thank you Brenda), homesteading is not about being self-reliant, it’s about being reliant on God to help us be sustainable!  Amen!

Here is a picture of my Nana & Pappy on their homestead!

So this past weekend my Hunnee and I were making memories of our---chopping, splitting and stacking wood!  Preparing fire wood is a back breaking job, but words cannot express how I feel when I look back and see the work accomplished.  For my Hunnee and myself, there is nothing more relaxing than enjoying the fruits of our labor on a cold, snowy, winters evening with the wood stove roaring…not to mention how relaxing the smell of wood slowly burning is! 
Here is our wood pile!

My Hunnee & father-in-law splitting wood....
JT decided to sit this one out.....

The backyard trees are starting to change colors!

Do you have any fall memories to share? 

Take some time this fall season to get outside and enjoy all the beauty that God has given us!  Pack a picnic basket with some goodies and go have a picnic in the leaves!  Enjoy!

Until next time......Happy Fall Y'all!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Simply Clean!

For some time now I have wanted to try my hand at making homemade cleaners, and a couple weekends ago, I finally did it!  I started with a disinfectant recipe that I found on this website , the recipe is as follows:
*Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (This is not an antibacterial formula. The average kitchen or bathroom does not require antibacterial cleaners.)*   

Here I made a double batch and I was able to reuse old spray bottles!

In my recipe, I did not use castile soap only because I did not have any on hand, but did add some tea tree & sweet orange essential oils.  Tea Tree Oil is used as an anti bacterial, anti microbial, anti septic, anti viral, balsamic, cicatrisant, expectorant and fungicide…just to name a few.  For more information check out this link which lists them in more details.  I chose sweet orange because it is a natural grease cutter and because it smells great…perfect for cleaning the kitchen!  There are plenty of different homemade disinfectants out there, so try and few and decide for yourself which is your favorite!
It has been three weeks since I have started using my new disinfectant and I’m really enjoying the benefits of not having harmful chemicals in my home as well as creating products for a fraction of the cost.  I have also cut up old t-shirts into easy to use pieces and placed them right next to the cleaner; this way, when I’m ready to clean or wipe something up, I’m not reaching for paper towels.  By having these t-shirt pieces easily accessible, I learning to do without paper towels, which is better for my wallet and better for the environment!  We know that we are living in a tough economy, but I fear this is not then end, so it’s time to start doing more at home and saving money! 
Till next time……

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Feathered House Guests

When my husband and I were building our home a couple years ago, we were surprised when we walked into our cellar and found something swoosh right by us.  At first we thought maybe a bird had gotten into the cellar by mistake, but after looking around for a bit, we found a beautiful bird’s nest!!  At this time, we were in the building stages, so the cellar was closed up, all except for the cellar windows which is why our little house guest built a nest on the beam of our cellar—it was dry, safe but not the most quiet spot to raise youngin’s.    While she was out, I grabbed a ladder and crawled up to find her little nest...amazing!

 Have a look inside… precious!!! 

For the next couple weeks, we left the windows open so that Momma could fly in and out and take care of her little babies.  The picture below is what I call a full nest--aren’t they just adorable??  Till this day, I’m not really sure what type of bird she was due to the fact that her eggs where white with brown spots; either way, she had the cutest little babies. 
Fast forward 6 years…I was shocked when I found another nest, but this time it belonged to robins and was outside.  It was a warm spring day, and while walking into my laundry room, a bird swooped by the window and flew away.  I thought to myself “wow that bird is awfully close to the house”, so I went about my laundry and didn’t give it a second thought.  The next day, I went into my laundry room again, not thinking about the bird, and once again that bird flew right by the window….so that got me thinking, “Do we have another nest out there somewhere?”  I dropped what I was doing immediately because after all, this is important!!!  I went outside and started looking around for a nest somewhere and sure enough…..……through my flower bed and in my little decorative pine bush!

And so a new journey began for me…….back inside I went to fetch my camera!   The pine bush is not very tall, probably only 5 feet, so I was able to get a good look at that gorgeous nest and the beautiful little turquoise eggs that filled it!  How cute!
 The nest was perfectly round and made with all sorts of things from the forest floor!  I admired the fact that they built this nest facing the house (more protection) and also because this spot had a wonderful canopy (the upper part of my shrub) which came in handy several days during this rainy season.  I found myself sneaking in the laundry room (and I do mean sneaking so I wouldn’t scare them away) and I would sit there and just watch them being parents.  The first thing I noticed was how the parents cared for their little eggs—taking turns guarding them and keeping them warm.  Once the eggs were hatched (which was only a couple weeks from when I actually found the nest), the parents were extremely busy out getting food for the new hatchlings.  Watching them  feed their young was such a riot!  Those babies were always hungry and there was one little guy who just sat there with his mouth open all the time!  Below is a picture of the full nest!

It was just a few short weeks and my little babies were gone.  This experience reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-34  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is a simple reminder for all of us that we need put our trust in God and not to worry;
He is in control and will provide.      

Friday, July 27, 2012

Made with love by Mom!

Today was a great day!  The thing that made it so great is that I was able to spend it with my Mom!!  We had been planning a day of sewing together for quite some time and today’s agenda included cloth napkins which we made from scraps of material and old sheets.  My reasoning for doing this is I am trying to be more earth friendly and also to save some money on unnecessary paper products.
Mom simply took squares of material and sewed them (wrong sides together) leaving a space so that we could turn them right side out.  Once they were turned right side out, we gave them a quick press with the iron and went around the edges with a zig-zag stitch and voila'!  We created various sizes so that my husband and I could try them out and decide which ones we would prefer to use on a regular basis.  Time will tell if I will need to purchase darker material for those meals that include spaghetti sauce and other stubborn staining foods. 
Here is a picture of my Mom cutting the squares and getting ready to sew them together.  My Mom is so creative and makes some of the most gorgeous items you have ever seen.  Her new love is quilting and she has made gorgeous quilts, quillows (a quilt that wraps up to form a pillow—great for car trips for the kids) and place mats/table runners.  I’m not quite ready for quilting, and not sure I am up for the challenge, but I love to see the new projects that she is tackling. 

Mom putting on the finishing touches on the daisy napkins. 

She also organized my sewing container.....thanks Mom!

Here are the finished projects….different sizes and patterns….I can’t wait to use them!

Mom said the next project would be cloth cup coasters that would help absorb the sweating cups in this sticky and humid weather.  I'm guessing that she was not impressed by the coaster I was using while we were sewing!  It's clean and it served it's purpose....and she's lucky I didn't give her one for her cup!!! 

Mom made sure that she left a special tag on one of my napkins.  This message is not only true for the napkins but for everything that Mom does.  God has blessed me with such a loving and caring Mother who puts love in everything she does.  Whatever task is ahead of her, and whether it’s for family, friend or stranger, she puts love into it.  I want her to know how special she is to me and how much I cherish the time that we spend together.  Whenever I use these napkins, I will always remember you telling me to "use my napkin". 
I love you Mom!

I have linked this to the Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simply Growin'

Simply growin’ is just that…..simply growin’.  Life is all about growing, it’s ever-changing!  My first and most important area of growth is my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, Who has certainly turned my life around and is opening my eyes to what is truly important in this life.  Secondly, I am growin’ in my desire to live more simply which is causing me to seek and learn how to do things differently; so very different than what I am use to.  And lastly, I’m growin’ physically, not so much in areas that I had hoped, but since I’ve turned 40, things are really changing….all part of simply growin’.   I hope that you will follow me on this journey, I’m not quite sure where it will take us, but I am excited to see where God will lead me.