DIY Earl Grey Tea

My heart is closely connected to the scent of Earl Grey Tea.  When I drink a cup I am filled with a sense of strength.  It is uplifting, yet relaxing, boosts my confidence, relieves stress and the most important asset is that it brings my English Grandmother to my mind.

My love for my Grandma Hilda, in turn, has instilled in me a love for all things English, where deep roots of our family run.  I miss her dearly and cherish anything that will remind me of her, so it only makes sense that such a strong English tradition would take me back to her.

But why the automatic mood boost?

The secret is in that magical ingredient…

Bergamot.

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The Earl Grey blend is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, the British Prime Minister in the 1830’s.  It is said that he received a gift, most likely by a Chinese diplomat, of tea flavored with bergamot oil

“Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a small citrus tree which blossoms during the winter and is grown commercially in Calabria, Italy.[13][14] It is probably a hybrid of Citrus limetta (sweet lime) and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange).[15]”

My sister and I used to joke that we could both drink Bergamot essential oil straight, the scent is just so intoxicating.  So once we realized that Bergamot was the magical ingredient our beloved Earl Gray, it didn’t take long to connect the DIY dots.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is one of my favorite afternoon pick-me-ups….Bergamot is one of my most prized essential oils.  It’s a match made in heaven… it’s just perfection, plain and simple.

This recipe is beyond simple, but the really important key to it all is to only use the highest quality ingredients.

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Your ingredients are:

Black Tea 

Bergamot Essential Oil – I only use Young Living Essential oils.  It is absolutely VITAL if you are ingesting essential oils to only use Therapeutic, Grade A, Organic Essential oils(Don’t be fooled by oils labeled “100% Pure” which are only actually required to contain 5% of the actual essential oil in order to be labeled that way.)  

*Orange peel or Rose Petals, optional

 

To infuse your own Earl Grey tea :

  • Drop 4-16 drops of Young Living Bergamot Essential oil to the sides of a glass mason jar.  (I realize that this is extremely vague but it really varies from person to person.  My husband likes it best when it is mild, while I enjoy it very strong.)
  • Add your loose, black tea leaves (2 cups) and any other added ingredients (citrus peel, rose petals, etc)
  • Stir/shake the contents of the jar vigorously to coat.
  • Let the tea “cure” for several hours up to a few days.

You can drink a cup right away but I recommend being patient and letting the mixture cure.  For best results use within a few months as the flavor will fade over time.

This has been one of my favorite Homemade/DIY projects that I have ever done, I hope you love it as much as I have!

Earl Grey Collage

The Truth About Chicken Poo

I’ve decided to name this photo “The Truth About Chicken Poo”
truth about chicken poo
You see, I’ve been trying my hand at photography (at a very amateur level, mind you) while starting out on this blogging journey and I’ve found that it’s not always so easy. 
Last summer when I first took this picture I really loved it, really, really, loved it.
And then I saw it..
That speck (or two) of chicken poo, sticking out there like a sore thumb, ruining my beautiful picture of summer bounty. 
This was how my thought process went that day:
“I can’t use this picture!  There’s chicken poo on my eggs!”
“But it’s so pretty…”
“If it isn’t perfect it CANNOT be posted on my blog page.”
“But.. maybe I can learn to use photo shop!”
“I don’t have time for that.”
“But it’s seems like such a waste to not use it, the light was just right that day…”
And so on and so forth.  You see, unfortunately good photos really do matter when it comes to the blogging world.  If your pictures are crappy, well people aren’t going to read your blog.  It’s just a fact of life.  However, I was so caught up trying to make things “social media perfect” that I was refusing to let the reality of homestead life, be shown on my page.
This is the problem with social media in our society today.  We are so careful to only put our absolute best pictures up, only our perfect selfies taken at the most flattering angle, only our Pinterest worthy successes and never our failures.
We are creating an image for ourselves that, frankly, is chicken poo. 
A false image that in turn, makes others feel bad about themselves.
“I’ll never be able to look that good”
“My kid’s birthday cake never looks like that”
“She ALWAYS cooks gourmet food for her family, I don’t have time for that!”

Comparison is the thief of joy.

— Theodore Roosevelt
It’s a wicked cycle.  And while I do need to strive to have pretty pictures for my blog, and it’s fine to post a successes that we are celebrating or the things we love about our lives, we need to remember to put the REAL us out there, drop some truth bombs, funny pictures and failures.
Let’s stop this epidemic of comparison that is plaguing our culture and put truth back in the picture.
We all have some chicken poo in our lives, don’t photo shop the truth from your pictures.
Everybody’s chickens poop.

Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

If you haven’t yet discovered the world of “energy bites” AKA “healthy cookie dough bites” you have been missing out.  Energy bites can be made with a variety of ingredients and fit a variety of needs.

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#1  FEED THE TINY HUMANS

Let’s face it folks, it ain’t easy keeping the tiny humans fed.  They are ALWAYS hungry or… “snacky” I should say.  (Is snacky a word?  I guess I just invented a new word.)

Snacky = the insatiable need to continually put things in your mouth.

My girls are snacky kids and I’ll admit, it isn’t always easy to find something that satisfies their hunger for longer than 20 minutes.  It is also not easy to find kid friendly snacks that are either not processed crap food (I’m looking at you cheese puffs) or foods that are disguised as being healthy and will therefore break the bank (yep, that’s you “Bunny snacks”…)

On that note, energy bites are the perfect snack to actually satisfy a hungry cookie monster.

#2  Hangry Mama

I am one of those people who tend to be queasy in the morning if I don’t get SOMETHING in my tummy when I first get up in the morning.  And I’m not very clear headed in the morning so my decision making skills are not always the best.  I tend to reach for ANY snack food within reach especially if it is carbs.  I also tend (as does my 7 year old daughter) to get a bit “hangry” when I have not eaten well.

These energy bites are the perfect quick snack to take the edge off.

#3 “On The Go Jo”

Who isn’t in some kind of rush these days?  It seems like we all, if not every day, then most days are in a rush to get out the door for one reason or another.  For our family it tends to be Church on Sunday and CC Community day (our homeschooling group) on Tuesdays.  As I’ve confessed before, I am not quite on top of my game in the mornings so I tend to realize last minute that I haven’t made enough time for breakfast.

Once again, these babies are an easy grab and go option.

However, as is usually the case, there is often one downfall to these delicious bites… when you search the interwebs for a recipe, you will be invariably bombarded with about 200 recipes which may look delicious but aren’t exactly on the healthy side, or they claim to be… but contain oats or other grains.  That may be fine and dandy for some, but if you are Paleo, Whole Food, Keto, THM or anything else that either cuts grains or separates carbs from fats, then all of these recipes are taboo.

This recipe is gluten-free, grain free, sugar free & delicious.   And that, in my book, is a beautiful thing.

As I have made it a self-sufficiency goal to reclaim my health through healthy foods and essential oils, I have learned that one facet to keeping my hypothyroidism in check, is by starting the day with a Breakfast incorporating Protein/Fat/Fiber.  These little gems are just that.  If the total amount of protein doesn’t meet your needs you can always add some Collagen to your tea or coffee and you will be good to go.

So after all that talk, the process is really very simple.

Mix Coconut oil & almond butter until fairly smooth.

Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax, cocoa nibs, vanilla, salt and pure stevia extract powder.IMG_3093

Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours to harden.

After a few hours the mixture will be a nice scoop-able texture.

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You can then roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.  (I prefer to use non-stick silicone mats to eliminate waste and unnecessary trips to the store, but parchment paper will also work fine.)

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Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

 

Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3/4 cup coconut oil

*3/4 cup almond butter (other nut butters are a fine option)

1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

**1 1/2 cup ground Golden Flax Meal

1/2 cup cocoa nibs or Lily’s brand, stevia sweetened chocolate chips

2 tsp  vanilla extract

1/2 tsp mineral salt

***1 “doonk” (1/32 tsp) pure stevia extract powder or a few drops of  liquid stevia (a “doonk” is a tiny scoop that is 1/32 of a teaspoon.)

  1. Mix coconut oil & almond butter 
  2. Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax and cocoa nibs 
  3. Add in vanilla, mineral salt and pure stevia extract powder.
  4. Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden.
  5. Roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet
  6. Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

Store in the refrigerator in order to avoid the mixture melting again.

A few notes:

*Natural peanut butter is okay too, I have just found that with a low thyroid condition, it is best to avoid over-doing it with peanuts/peanut butte

**For best results using Flax meal, grind your own Golden Flax seeds rather than buying “flax meal” as it loses it’s benefits shortly after being ground and who know how long the store bought meal has been sitting around.

***Pure stevia extract is NOT to be confused with store bought stevia blends like Truvia which are highly processed and contain fillers.  Blends such as Truvia will measure entirely differently and also have a completely different flavor as the chemical fillers leave a bitter after taste that pure stevia will not.  (I like THM brand’s pure stevia powder) – You can also add liquid stevia (but I have not tested a measurement for or a little raw honey rather than the stevia powder, just be aware that if you use honey they will no longer be sugar free or low carb.

Other notes:

You can also spread the mixture into a cake pan (well greased or preferably lined with parchment paper) and the cut into squares rather than rolling into balls.

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Elderberry Gummies

So, you’ve heard me talk about the endless benefits of Elderberries, and I’ve shared my favorite Elderberry Syrup recipe.

But you’ve got tiny humans in your house… and lets face it, they may not be so keen on the idea of swallowing a spoonful of some mystery flavored, black-ish purple liquid… (if they only knew just how yummy it really is.) 

Elderberry Syrup 2

 

If that is the case, or you just want to see your kids get REALLY excited about consuming a powerful, antioxidant rich, vitamin packed remedy, then these babies are just what you are looking for.  They’re cute, they’re sweet and they’re super fun to eat!  My kiddos are crazy about them.  It’s just another fun step into the world of Redeeming Comfort Food when you can take a sugary-treat like gummy candies and replace them with something like this.

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And the best part?  They are a cinch to make.  

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Elderberry

Here is what you will need:

1 cup Elderberry Syrup

1/4 cup Gelatin (Good quality)

1/2 cup Hot (not quite boiling) Water

Silicone molds (or a glass dish)

Here is what you do…

  1. Add 1/4 cup of gelatin to 1/4 cup cooled Elderberry Syrup.  Mix well to temper the gelatin.
  2. Add 1/2 cup hot water and stir until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining Elderberry Syrup and stir (once again) until smooth.
  4. *Carefully pour into greased molds or dish.
  5. Refrigerate until firm (approx. 2 hours)
  6. Take as needed (see my Elderberry Syrup recipe for dosage details) 

*I place my silicone molds on a large cookie sheet to catch any spillage and make the molds more stable while moving into the refrigerator.

Elderberry Gummies

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are one of my FAVORITE homeopathic resources for their immunity building, cold & flu busting power.

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It is flu season again and this year I made the mistake of running my family out of fermented goodness.  Most of the time we are able to avoid the worst of the cold/flu bugs by keeping our immune systems strong via the wonderful world of fermented veggies, bone broth, essential oils and magnesium.  This year, however, we have some big things going on and I slipped up on our normal regimen… and we caught the bug.  Thankfully, I had my stock of elderberries on hand and it didn’t take long to whip up a batch of Elderberry Syrup and Elderberry gummies.

As we all know,  there really isn’t much that can be done from a conventional strand-point for treating the common cold or a mild case of the flu.  It can be miserable to sit by and watch your kiddos go through it and not be able to do anything to fix it.  Thankfully, there ARE some homeopathic things that we can do to help them through it and Elderberry Syrup is one of those things.

Elderberries contain vitamins A, B & C, and are a potent resource of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and immune boosting compounds.  They have been used medicinally since the fifteenth century and can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of illnesses.

Even according to WebMD “Elderberry is used for “the flu” (influenza), H1N1 “swine” flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative, for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating…”

Also, as stated on https://wellnessmama.com/5913/elderberries-herb-profile/

Studies have shown that Elderberries  prevent and fight at least 8 different strains of influenza.  While helping to stop production of hormone-like cytokines that cause inflammation, they also increase the production on non-inflammatory, infection fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold… Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Isreal found that elderberry disarms the enyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat.  Taken before infection, it prevents infection.  Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract.”

Since Elderberries are a berry and therefore a “food,” they can be used in countless preparations including, tinctures, tonics, syrups, gummies, popsicles and baked into muffins and breads.  My favorite go-to recipe is for this Elderberry Syrup that I am going to share with you today.

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Elderberries on there own can be pretty sour, but when paired with the right ingredients they can be quite magical.  This syrup recipe tastes great and even my kiddos come running when I announce it’s time for some Elderberry Syrup.  In this recipe, Elderberries are paired with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and honey (all of which not only make this syrup taste great, but also have their own medicinal benefits) making this a truly wonderful treat.

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And if you are wanting to bump up the infection fighting/immunity-boosting power, you can add some Echinacea and will lose none of the fantastic flavor.

(An added benefit to this recipe is that you can find all the ingredients HERE from my favorite herbal supply resource.)

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Here is the recipe.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup Dried Elderberries
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root (or 2 tsp powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder (or 1 cinnamon stick)
1/2 tsp cloves (whole or ground)
1 cup raw honey
1/4 cup dried Echinacea (optional but highly recommended)

  • Add elderberries, spices/herbs and water to a saucepan and simmer gently on the stove for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Remove from heat and either mash/strain in a wire mesh strainer or add to a French press and press out the juice.
  • Cool the juice until warm but not hot then add the honey, stirring well until combined.
  • Store syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  • Preventative Dosage for children is 1/2-1 tsp per day for children and 1 Tbl per day for adults.
  • If you are fighting off illness, take the normal dose every 3-4 hours until symptoms have passed.

Elderberry Collage

Discovering Essential Oils

Essential Oils with Mama Natural
Have you ever noticed that when you smell a rose you instantly felt more serene? How about noticing that getting a whiff of peppermint helps you feel more alert?  Or add a squeeze of lemon to your water and feel more refreshed?

If so, you’re already practicing aromatherapy. Therapeutic scents can literally help us feel better inside and out.  (Contrary to what my dear hubby says– he likes to call it voodoo.  But that doesn’t stop him from going straight to my oils stash when he feels a cold coming on.)

Why choose Young Living essential oils

When I first started using essential oils, I started with the stuff that you can buy from the health food store.  (I have since learned that those oils are not therapeutic grade and not as effective, not to mention they are frankly not safe for continuous use and NEVER safe for use internally.) I used them for homemade cleaners, and tried to use them for home remedies, but I noticed that I had to use a LOT of oils to get any effect at all.

As I got more serious about essential oils, a friend started to talk to me about Young Living but the idea that I needed to buy a starter kit that cost more than $100 seemed crazy.  NO WAY, I thought, no way am I going to spend that kind of money when I don’t even know if they even work.  Little did I know, the gold mine that Starter Kit really is.YL_Starter kit breakdown

 

I finally went to a class was REALLY impressed by their quality.  The first whiff of peppermint oil was completely different than those low grade oils I’d been wasting money on at the health food store.  Not only was I impressed by the quality  (above organic) and their seed to seal process, but also the fact that they own most of the farms themselves.  They weed by hand; they use their own oils for pest control; and they gently distill their oils without chemicals.

They also rigorously test their final product both in-house and by a third party to meet therapeutic standards. Plants and their oils are powerful yet delicate in nature. By using Young Living, the plant’s “living energy” is preserved in every bottle. Their essential oils are 100% therapeutic grade, effective and safe.

Plus, Young Living has the best and most affordable starter kits out there. They make it easy for a newbie to get started!

“What do I actually do with Essential Oils?”

That’s most people’s question when they get started, but oils quickly get incorporated into daily life. People diffuse oils daily to uplift spirits or help cranky toddlers sleep. They use Thieves oil at the first sign of cold or cough. They use them for sinus pressure, aches and pains, fevers, blotchy skin, headaches, hair loss, eczema, sun spots, sore throats, athlete’s foot, and we could go on.

Are you curious about Essential Oils?

If so, give Young Living a close look. One of the most popular ways to get started is sign up as a distributor and get their Premium Starter Kit with the diffuser.

 

This kit retails for over $300, but as a Wholesale Member, you get a 50% discount

Here’s what’s inside the Premium Starter Kit.  It’s not the only way to get started, but in my opinion it is by far the best way to start.

Premium Essential Oils Collection (5-ml each)

  • Lavender (skin irritations and relaxation)
  • Copaiba Vitality™ (pain/inflammation, anxiety, magnifier-for other oils)
  • Peppermint Vitality™ (muscle soreness and digestive issues)
  • Lemon Vitality™ (detoxification and cleaning)
  • Frankincense (youthful skin, spiritual connection, and MANY other amazing things)
  • Thieves® Vitality™ (immunity, colds/flus)
  • Purification® (fold/fungus/infections)
  • RC™ (Respiratory aid)
  • DiGize™ Vitality™ (All stomach issues)
  • PanAway® (pain and inflammation)

PLUS

  • A home diffuser (a $96 value. I use mine daily.)
  • A bonus oil! 5 mL bottle of Stress Away (I LOVE this oil. My favorite scent by far 🙂 )
  • Aroma Glide roller fitment (to turn any oil into a roll on)
  • 10 sample packets total of Lavender, Peppermint, Peace & Calming, Lemon, and Thieves for travel or sharing with family and friends
  • 2 NingXia Red 2-oz. samples (a yummy antioxidant supplement)

Want to try Young Living essential oils?

You can get Young Living Essential Oils in two ways.

  1. as a Wholesale Member (highly encouraged… it sounds like a serious commitment but it’s really not)
  2. or as a Retail Customer via the Young Living website (don’t recommend it because you don’t get the discount!)

I highly recommend joining as a Wholesale Member, even if you’re a beginner. As a wholesale member you get access to the Premium Starter Kit which is a savings in itself, and you also get an amazing 24% discount off every product you order. There are no tricks or gimmicks, no automatic charges to your credit card, and no required monthly orders (unless you want to get even BIGGER savings with our Essential Rewards program, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing we can talk about later.)

You don’t need to “sell” oils to be part of this

For Wholesale Members there is no requirement to sell or meet monthly quotas or anything like that.

But if you’d like to earn some extra income…

Wholesale Members do have the option of sharing oils with their friends and family in order to earn commissions and participate in promotions for free oils.  If this is something you’re interested in, sign up with me and I’ll help you get started!

Here’s how to begin

You start by purchasing an enrollment kit. There are three options to choose from. However, I REALLY REALLY recommend the Premium Starter Kit with the diffuser (pictured above). It is by far the best value and will help you actually start using essential oils. It’s the only kit that gives you the 10 Everyday Essential Oils (plus a bonus oil, StressAway, which is one of my absolute favorites). These 11 oils are some of the most commonly used and will give you endless options in treating your family and yourself.

Sign me up!

To get started, just follow these steps.

  1. Click over to the sign-up page.
  2. Select “Sign Up As: Young Living Wholesale Member” (The links I have provided here already have my enroller/sponsor ID included so that I can be a helpful resource to you as you start your own oil journey)
  3. Fill out your name, billing address, shipping address, and contact info. (The reason you are asked for your SSN is for tax purposes; if you make over $600/year selling Young Living products, you will receive a 1099 form in the mail, as is required by law. Young Living never shares this info with anyone.)
  4. Create your password and pin which you will use to log in to your account and order your oils.
  5. Select your enrollment order. This is where you can specify which starter kit you would like. You must sign up with one of these kits to become a Wholesale Member.
  6. Set up your optional Essential Rewards Program.  Buying one of the ER kits is not a requirement to sign up as a Wholesale Member!  This is arewards program you can opt into to start earning money back to help pay for your oils. At this point, you can skip this step by selecting “No, thank you. I plan on enrolling in the Essential Rewards Program later.” If one of the ER kits looks valuable to you, then go for it in addition to your starter kit.
  7. Agree to Terms & Conditions.
  8. CONFIRM YOUR ORDER. Many folks miss this step and end up not fully checking out. To confirm, the tool will log you in and it will show you your order again and it will make you enter in your payment information again.

 

Congratulations! Welcome to the amazing world of essential oils!

You’re going to love this next phase of your natural living journey!

WAIT!!  There is one more bonus that I, personally can offer you.  This is not something that all YL customers get, it’s a special perk just for hangin’ with me!  Since we all have that “okay, now what?” moment after ordering a kit, I can sign you up for an 8 email series on how to use and fall in love with your kit!

lavender field

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is the time of year that everyone loses their minds over pumpkin everything, particularly pumpkin spice everything.  But I think often underrated is the humble pumpkin seed.  Whether you are carving your pumpkins with your kiddos, canning pumpkin from your garden or baking a from scratch pumpkin pie, don’t throw out all those yummy seeds!

A favorite treat around here; they are packed with nutrients and oh so yummy.  Don’t waste a single seed!

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Here’s how it works:

As you are scraping out the guts/seeds from your pumpkin, drop the seeds into a bowl of water to soak (floating them in some water seems to help the process of cleaning them up.)  Rinse in a colander to make sure you’ve gotten all the bits and pieces off of them.

*Note: I recently heard that if you are not carving your pumpkin, that you can bake the pumpkin before cleaning it which makes the seeds even easier to separate but I have not yet tried this method.

Spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet (you can line it with a tea towel for quicker drying if you like.)  Leave the seeds to dry completely before attempting to roast.  (I just leave mind for a day or so.)

When the seeds are dry, transfer them to a bowl and coat with 1-2 Tbl of oil then add seasonings of your choice.  (I’ll share my favorite blend in a minute.)

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I love to use the silicone baking mats but parchment paper or tin foil will work as well.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes until they reach the right color.  You will have to keep a close eye on them, they burn easily.

And that’s all folks, it’s that simple.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Ingredients:

Seeds from 1 pumpkin

1-2 Tbl Olive oil

1 1/2 tsp of sea salt of mineral salt

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili

Instructions:

1. Scrape seeds from pumpkin
2. Soak/Rinse seeds and remove pumpkin “guts”
3. Dry seeds thoroughly
4. Toss seeds in olive oil & seasonings
5. Roast in 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes (watching carefully)


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Fall Everyone!!!

He was a bad, bad hound dog… and we loved him so.

Once upon a time, on a cold, winter’s night in Oklahoma, there was a tiny hound dog pup who had been abandoned on the side of the road.  Whoever had left him there didn’t care whether he lived or died, but God knew there was a home for him in Colorado.

Beau (Bo- we never could agree on how to spell his name) the hound dog was the cutest pup you ever did see, he made his way from Oklahoma to our home through some friends of ours who found him there.  We were newlyweds starting our life together and he made the perfect addition to our little family.  Not knowing his exact breed, my dear mountain man was super excited to have a hunting dog.  Visions of coon hunts and treed mountain lions were dancing in his head and in the beginning he really seemed to have what it would take.  We brought home his first coon in a live trap and the dog lost his mind.  Baying like a pro, he definitely proved that he was ready for the chase.  He even showed a lot of potential in tracking a scent but over time it became clear that he would never make a hunting dog.  His legs were just too darn short.  This hound was obviously part basset and was never going to measure up.  But there was no love lost on that account, we was our buddy and our first child.

matt jodi beau

We started to research hound breeds to see what we were in for and learned these three basic things.

  1. Hound dogs are stubborn.
  2. Hound dogs’ noses rule them completely.
  3. Hound dogs smell bad.

We found all three of these things to be entirely true.

Beau was exceedingly stubborn and hard to train.  When learning basic commands, we got as far as “sit,” (resulting in him laying down) and for a short time he cooperated with “play dead” (but tired of that game quickly and gave up.)  There was no hope of teaching him to be quiet; his baying and barking were constant unless he was asleep.

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His nose, did, in fact, take over his ability to reason at all.  If we were on a walk, or camping and he caught wind of something interesting… he was gone.  And no amount of calling him or threatening him would bring him back.  He would come back in his own time, when he was done with the chase.

He also couldn’t resist the smell of “people food.”  Every night during supper, our meal was accompanied by the sound of incessant whining.  This whining would continue until we were done when he was given our plates to lick.  (Did you know dogs can count?  There are four of us, and if someone put their plate in the sink instead of giving it to him, he would harass me for the rest of the night because he knew that he only had 3 plates to lick instead of four.)

During the winter, when we had somewhere to go and it was too cold to leave him outside, we had to be sure that we “dog proofed” the kitchen because although he would never dream of dumping the trash or jumping on counters when we were home… once that car pulled out of the driveway, all bets were off.  He would dump trash cans, jump up on the counters (quite the feat for a 50 lb dog that was more than 2 feet long with 8 inch legs) and eat anything within reach, I mean ANYTHING.  At different times over the course of our almost 11 years together, he once ate an entire bunt sized pound cake, another time it was a 2 lb meat loaf, and his most recent transgression was about a 2-3 lb ham.  (It was my own, home raised pork, home cured ham… I really wanted to throttle him after this one but he was so sick from all the salt, I figured that was punishment enough.  The poor dog drank gallons of water over the next few days.)  Oh yes, and another time, he ate a gallon sized bag of homemade deer jerky that probably accounted for an entire shoulder of venison (again ending, with the homicidal temptation for us and gallons of water consumption by Beau.)  What he couldn’t consume while we were away, he would take and bury around the house. I would find, bags of hot dog buns behind the couch, bags of marshmallows under my pillow, and loaves of bread in the laundry basket.

And yes, hound dogs do in fact stink.  No need to go into great detail there, lets just say that long road trips with Beau in the car or truck were sometimes we’re very… very long.  But he loved to “go” so much that we couldn’t bare to leave him behind.  He also loved clean laundry.  If there was a pile of clean laundry, or especially a neat stack of folded, clean laundry, he would be found laying on it; leaving our clothes with just a hint of that lovely ode de’ hound dog scent behind.

All of these things add up to a very “bad” dog, and that is what we teasingly called him.  But he was our Beau dog, and we loved him so much.  He went on many adventures with us, backpacking, hiking, camping and picnicking.  His joy in life was getting to GO somewhere.  He knew, the moment I started to pack a bag or haul things out to the camper that it was time to go; and we would all be deaf by the time we left from all of the baying and barking he did while impatiently lunging at the door.  If we ever went anywhere without him, even for a few hours, he would bay and scold us for at least 10 minutes when we returned, for leaving him behind.

beau backpacking

But he loved “to go” a little too much and recently started “going” on adventures without us.  Whether it was sheer orneriness or his nose leading him away, he decided that staying in the yard was no longer a requirement for him and he would let himself out one way or another.  He would unlatch yard gates or push past the flexible siding on the house and adventuring he would go.  One week ago today, he left on an adventure and never made it home alive.  He may have been a bad dog on paper, but he was part of our family and our homestead and now we are one less.  There is no one to lick our plates after supper, no one for the garbage man to throw treats too, and no one to scold us when we come home.

Our homestead is a very quiet place now, but I will always hear his baying in my mind.

We love you, bad hound dog.  We always will.

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5 Embarrassing Things Homeschooled Kids Say

I love homeschooling my kids.  It is one of the key components to our “homestead” lifestyle.  Teaching kids that they don’t need a specialized teacher in order to learn is vital to raising self-sufficient kids.  Homeschooling teaches our children HOW to think, not what to think.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world but let’s be honest, there are a few problems with homeschool life.  One of these things is the constant battle with what homeschooled, tiny humans say to embarrass their parents.

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Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. “We only do school one day a week.”  This is the one that they love to tell their friends (and the friends in turn tell their parents, and then you get the stink eye from the parents.)  The truth is that we have our CC community day (others often have homeschool COOP) and for some reason homeschooled kids seem to think this is the only “school day” that they have.  We do school at LEAST 4 days a week… most of the time… I SWEAR.   
  2. “No we haven’t done any school yet today.”  This is one they love to tell their dad when it’s 11:30 AM and he calls home from work to say “Hi”.  It goes something like this…”What are you doing right now?” kids inevitable response is “Oh, just laying here” (Translation: “I WAS just doing my copy work, but I laid down on my bed to talk to you.”)  Dad’s tone grows concerned “Have you done your schoolwork yet today?” “No, we haven’t done any school yet today.” (Translation: We haven’t done our math and phonics workbooks yet and apparently don’t REALIZE that all this other stuff we’ve been doing (ie. Bible story, memory work, copy work, read aloud time, science journaling) is “school work” leaving Daddy with the impression that we just rolled out of bed. (SIGH)
  3. “I don’t know what grade I’m in.”  This is their #1 favorite thing to say to strangers who are interrogating them in the grocery store.  And to be fair to the kids, we as mom’s don’t know how to answer that question either.  We know what grade they should be in by age category but the truth is that homeschooling offers us the freedom to work with our children according to their own ability in each area.  My 5 year old, should technically be a kindergartener… but she started Classical Conversations at four and insisted on starting to read the minute she turned 5 years old, so she’s closer to a 1st grade level in many ways but we are still doing kindergarten math.  In language arts my 7 year old is doing the second semester of a kinder language arts program because I felt the curriculum we used previously was lacking in some areas.  So although she’s reading at a 2nd grade level, we’re catching up on some fundamental phonics right now.  AND THAT’S OKAY!  So no, random lady in the grocery store check out, none of us really know how to answer that question.
  4. “We just watch TV and color.” Yet another thing they LOVE to tell strangers.  Yes, we use Wild Kratts to supplement our science and trace black line maps with dry erase markers to learn geography, but it sure would sound a lot better if they learned to tell people, “we’re studying biology and European geography right now.”  But no, we watch TV and color. 
  5. “No, I haven’t learned about ______ yet.”  (This one also comes in the form of a non-verbal blank stare.)  This comes as a response to someone asking, if they have learned something yet and as luck would have it, will always be something very basic that you have gone over many times.  The truth is we have no idea where this response comes from, maybe it’s because they don’t recognize the word “addition” or maybe because their little brain decided to go on recess break at that moment, who knows.

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The truth is that homeschooling is a unique journey and it rarely looks like a public school setting around here.  (THANK GOODNESS)  But that, especially if you are new to homeschooling, can lead to anxiety over social judgment. Learn to laugh at your kids when they say these things and relax into the arms of grace.  That lady in the grocery store checkout has no business interrogating your kids but maybe rather than elbowing your kiddo into silence and running away as quickly as possible, take a moment to explain to her the hidden translations to your kids’ answers.  Most who are opposed to homeschooling don’t understand it or are working off of a narrow stereotype.  It would do a lot for our cause if we took the time to joyfully share how penmanship and art are connected to science in nature journaling and how that fuels their desire for more knowledge.  Who knows, she might just walk away with some new light shined on an old stereotype.

Pinto Bean Spice

Pinto Bean Spice

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1/4 cup onion powder

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup Cumin

2 Tbl Salt

1 Tbl Paprika

1 Tbl Pepper

*Note: This recipe makes a bulk batch to season Pinto Beans with at any time.  You will have to experiment on your own to reach the desired flavor you want but I would say that I use approximately 1/3 cup to a large pot of beans.