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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Chopped Challenge 2017 – All wrapped up?

Okay folks, I know that I owe you all an apology.  I haven’t ever finished this mini-series of blog posts that I began back in January here.

But things have been busy around here to say the least.

SO, after spending the month of January on a grocery shopping fast, I suppose that I ought to be here and tell you I now have it all figured out, that my cupboards minimalistic and I will never return to my cluttered, grocery hording ways…

Not exactly.

But I did learn a lot about myself, really branched out some days to use up ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste, and tried some new recipes that my family LOVED.

The truth is, that my one month grocery shopping fast barely made a dent in my over stuffed cupboards.  However, this experiment gave me the motivation to declutter and throw out a lot of stuff that I just wouldn’t use, or combine things that I shamefully had MULTIPLES of.  (Like 3 open jars of molasses, 4 open jars of homemade strawberry jelly and 2 jars of sorghum– all because by cupboards were so cluttered I had no idea what was really in there.)  My cupboards are now cleaner and more organized which is such a huge relief and lets be honest, the savings from not shopping for a month was totally worth it.

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Full, but not crowded or cluttered

 

And after a few months of going back to a normal routine, my husband and I have actually agreed that we should do it again…and again… and again..

You may be thinking to yourself, “You can’t clear your cupboards out!  Shouldn’t you be prepared for disaster?  Aren’t you “preppers”?  All of those groceries could feed your family in case of an emergency!”  (Well, you might not be asking yourself that, but it’s what I was asking myself throughout this journey.)  And  the truth is yes, we are “preppers” to an extent yet here is a fine but dangerous line between being prepared with long term storage foods that could sustain us and hording/cluttering our lives with a surplus of random ingredients that will #1 go to waste if unused and #2 rob you of your sanity if you don’t even know what you have. (because it is so cluttered you cant see it all!)

So yes, I will continue to keep our root cellars stocked with long term storage food.  If properly organized and rotated this is one of the smartest things that you can do to protect your family in case of emergency.  But as far as the jumble of random ingredients cluttering my cupboards?  I am going to work very hard to keep that clutter down by continuing to focus on using up what we have on hand and only buying the minimum of extra ingredients that will act as the glue that binds everything else together.

So now that I’ve shared my take-a-way from it all with you, here is a little more about what the rest of our month looked like and what we were eating.  If you are interested in any of the meals mentioned, let me know and I will TRY to write something up to share with you.  (I use the word “try” here because the truth is that I rarely ever use recipes and it is a challenge sometimes to put on paper the madness under my chef hat.  😉

Here are some of the more fun/adventurous suppers that we made while cleaning out the cupboards.  If you didn’t get to see my previous posts in this series for some of our other meals you can see them here 2017 “Chopped Challenge” and here Chopped Challenge – Week 1.

(Remember, I only allowed myself to purchase fresh fruit and veggies- no meat or packaged ingredients for the entire month of January.)

  • Barley Soup
  • Salmon Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (we turned the leftover sauce into salad dressing a few nights later)
  • Minestera Soup
  • Grilled Steak Kabobs
  • Bangers & Mash
  • Pancit & Egg Drop Soup (The Pancit was something completely different from our norm and the whole family went CRAZY for.)

Of course on nights that were super busy and I didn’t have time to stretch my brain, there were a lot of our regulars, but always only using ingredients on hand.

  • Posole
  • Hamburgers
  • Spaghetti
  • Jalepeno Popper Soup
  • Tacos
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Pizza
  • Fajitas
  • Elk Roast

I highly recommend trying a grocery fast.  We saved  money, decluttered our cupboards and freezers, stretched our culinary tastes and really shined a light on some bad grocery buying habits.

 

Is Self-Sufficiency a Biblical Principle?

Now before you start picturing me on my soap box shouting at you about moving off grid and living solely off the land… that’s not what this is.

I think we can probably agree that self-sufficiency is a good thing.  It’s common sense, right?  But for those of us who have chosen to follow Christ, we always want to shine the light of scripture on the decisions that we make in life.  So that led me to the question, what does the Bible say about this way of life that we have chosen?  Is this just some silly whim that my Mountain Man hubby and I have found ourselves following or is there more to it than that?  Are we crazy to be actively working towards a life that does not require him to work a regular 9:00-5:00 job outside the home?

Well, the Lord put some scripture in front of me during my morning devotions a few days ago that about knocked me off of my chair (Proverbs always does that too me, especially early in the morning.)

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Proverbs 27:23-27  (NLT)

23 Know the state of your flocks,
    and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don’t last forever,
    and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
    and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
    and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself,
    your family, and your servant girls.

Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it  and start farming; however, there is a very clear message here regarding the dependency on money and position as well as dependency on comforts and conveniences handed down by previous generations.

In fact, I believe there are 3 principles in this passage regarding self-sufficiency.

1. Stewardship

vs. 23 Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.

These days, not everyone has a flock of goats or sheep on the back 40.  But we are all given blessings in our lives that we are to take stewardship of.  Whether it be our animals and fields if we are farming or the career that provides our income we are to “know well” their condition and pay attention to our current financial situation.

So what does this look like in practice?  If you have a farm, are your animals well fed and taken care of, are they ill and in need of doctoring?  Are you caring for your garden well and using up the food that you’ve been blessed with or are you letting it go to waste? And if you are not farming, are you working hard for your employer and proving yourself a valuable employee?  Are you being smart with your money and living within your means? These are all questions that we need to be asking ourselves.  In general, we need to be asking, “am I a good steward?”

2. Money isn’t everything

vs. 24 for riches do not last forever, and the crown may not be passed to the next generation. 

Money and position are fickle things and it is dangerous to become too reliant on our current financial status or the conveniences that make us comfortable. There are no guarantees in life, and if you are living outside your means in order to maintain that status you are putting yourself and your family at great risk. 

It is imperative to plan ahead for the event when that paycheck might not come.  An illness or injury can take away your ability to work outside the home at any time.  Even if you were born into wealth this verse is a clear warning (“…the crown may not be passed to the next generation.”

Whether you are naturally inclined to a “prepper” mindset or not, the fact of the matter is that disaster can strike, whether it be a natural disaster or even war, political unrest, economic collapse… hard times can come and if you aren’t prepared your family will suffer. Have a back up plan, build a savings account that can keep you afloat in hard times and keep a small store of long term storage food and supplies that can sustain your family in the event of an emergency.

3.  There is wisdom in good ole fashioned self-sufficiency.

vs. 25-27  After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field.   And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.

 This passage is pointing to both the wisdom of having a back up plan for provision that is not dependent on others and of the satisfaction of a job well done, reaping the benefits of nature that God has provided us with.  Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it and go off grid; however, if you believe in the true infallibility of scripture then you have to take each passage for exactly what it says. There is a beautiful connection between man’s labor and the nurture of God that modern society so often neglects.  He created this world, rich with the things that will sustain us and keep us healthy, and although our world today is making that more and more of a fairytale, we need to get back in touch with that connection between our labor and God’s gifts in and on this earth.

I recently read a wonderful description of self-sufficiency or subsistence living as “removing the middle man” from the equation.  In these modern times most people trade their time and labor for a paycheck in order to acquire food and shelter.  Self-sufficiency simply removes the middle man so that you are working to provide food and shelter in a more direct way.

Take a few moments and read these verses over again.  What is the Lord showing you?  The word of God is living and active, even verses that we may tend to view as “out of date” or “no longer applicable” are meant to encourage us, admonish us and instruct us.  I urge you to apply these verses to your own life today.

Chopped Challenge – Week 1

Disclaimer: Okay so I think one of the tiny humans around here deleted a bunch of my pictures so this post is going to be hit and miss on the visual aid I do, however, have about 50 of these…

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MOVING ON…a few weeks ago I posted about my self-inflicted “Chopped Challenge.”  If you missed it, you can check it out here.

My first and only rule at the time of posting was NO grocery shopping (aside from a small budget for fresh produce & milk).  However, after some further consideration, I decided to make the challenge of decluttering more effective and more in the spirit of the show “Chopped.”

As I said in my previous post, I love the challenge of using 3 random ingredients that makes the show so entertaining.  But although it would be REALLY fun to pick 3 totally random things from the cupboard to use each night, I think my dear Mountain Man might not find it so entertaining after an entire month of eating random concoctions.  And so, with all that in mind, Rule #2 was born.

Rule #2: 3 items must be chosen for supper each night.  One item from the pantry, one item from the freezer and one from the refrigerator.

Here is how it played out for the first week.  .

Day 1: Thursday 1/5/2017

“Basket” ingredients: shrimp, random selection of canned tomatoes, bell pepper.

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I rummaged the kitchen freezer today knowing that was the most important disaster area in this whole challenge.  I struck gold.  SHRIMP!  We love shrimp, but frugal as we tend to be, it is something reserved for special occasions when we make our favorite jalapeno poppers. Apparently the last TWO times I made poppers we had some shrimp left over and I tucked them away in the freezer for a rainy day… a day that never came.  This is the problem with clutter.  You have gold hidden in there somewhere and you can’t find it because it’s impossible to see the forest through the trees (or the shrimp behind the cheese.)  I remembered a dish that I use to make back in our dual income days when we actually bought shrimp.  I searched the pantry and fridge for the necessary ingredients and… viola!  Shrimp Creole.  mmmm…  I was lacking a few of the typical ingredients but I had enough to get by and it was delicious.

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Day 2:  Friday 1/6/2017

“Basket” ingredients: Tostada Shells. Ground Elk Meat, Lettuce

This meal is one of my more standard quick fixes but I found the half used bag of tostada shells in the pantry and figured we might as well cross that one off my list.  Add some home canned pinto beans & salsa, and some diced onion and… Ta Da!  Tostados(I would typically use diced tomatoes and my homemade taco sauce for these, but I was out of the taco sauce and didn’t really have time to whip up more.  I’ll share how to make homemade taco sauce on another day.)

Day 3: Saturday 1/7/2017

“Basket” ingredients: Frozen (leftover) Kraut Burger filling, Potato salad, basic dough ingredients from the pantry

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So I wasn’t crazy creative on this one either, but when you find Kraut Burger filling in the freezer… Kraut Burgers it is!  It was simple to whip up some basic pizza dough for the crust and pair it with some leftover potato salad from the fridge that I didn’t want to waste.  Some days you just need to keep things simple.

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Day 4:  Sunday 1/8/2017

“Basket” ingredients:  Pork Chops, Caesar Salad Dressing, Bacon Salt

This simple Pork Chop supper was born from the grand invention of the hubby coming home and asking for grilled pork chops.  For my sides I made baked potatoes topped with homemade bacon salt and roasted some Brussel sprouts tossed with the last of a bottle of Caesar salad dressing from the fridge that needed to be used up.  Easy Peasy… Pork Chop Supper!

Day 5: Monday 1/9/2017

“Basket” Ingredients:  Ground Pork, Shredded Cabbage, Liquid Aminos

We spent the day in town buying supplies for our current renovation and it turned into a long, stressful, rainy day.  It was 7:30 PM by the time I started cooking and I needed something easy.  I cooked up some ground pork, shredded cabbage & carrots and thinly sliced onions.  Added some liquid aminos and we had some excellent… Egg Roll in a bowl (Adapted from the THM cookbook, a really great resource for healthy cooking.)

Day 6: Tuesday 1/10/2017

“Basket” Ingredients: Canned Mexican Corn, Frozen (leftover) Mexican Rice, Diced Bell Peppers and Onions

I found some leftover Mexican rice that I had previously frozen, mixed with browned elk meat, pinto beans, more diced peppers and onions and a few other things thrown into a skillet.  Almost like Taco Soup, but with the added brown rice and a skillet meal rather than soup.  Again, similar to a recipe found in the THM cookbook, but basically good ole fashioned fill your belly food.

Day 7: Wednesday 1/11/2017

“Basket” Ingredients:  Frozen Turkey, Letter shaped Pasta , Carrots

This meal was our lunch meal and therefore quick and simple, but it was super fun for the girls.  I found some letter shaped pasta in the cupboard, cooked it in some homemade bone broth, added Frozen turkey, carrots and celery and abbra-cadabra… Alphabet soup!

So as you can see it was a busy week for us and most meals were simple “go-to” meals that I make frequently but what a relief to just use what I have on hand and not have the big weekly grocery shopping trip.

The biggest accomplishment this past week that I am SUPER STOKED about was my kitchen freezer.  I spent an afternoon emptying the entire freezer and got rid of everything that had been in there too long and had become freezer burnt.  It was a bummer and very embarrassing to see the 5 gallon bucket of food that I tossed out.  90% of it was little bits of leftovers that I thought I would use up but because the freezer was so crammed full, I never knew what was  in there.  I was annoyed with myself for allowing all that food to go to waste over the last year. but the result?  Organization and  minimalism at it’s finest.  I now know everything I have in there and am using it all up efficiently and easily.

 

I would encourage any of you who are considering a similar endeavor to start by cleaning out your freezer!  Only toss out what is freezer burnt and cannot be used.  Organize your shelves by category and start using up all that food that you still have.  It is SO worth it!

Click here to see my next (and last) post in this mini-series to see how it all turned out.

2017 “Chopped Challenge”

 

Well, the new year is here and although it may be cliché, I can’t help but look forward to the opportunity for a fresh start.  There is something about a brand new, clean calendar and day planner to make me want to change my ways.  And after failing, once again, to avoid the excess sugar of the holiday season my body starts to crave that fresh start as well.  So call it cliché if you want but I LOVE resolution season.

One thing that I am really looking forward to making a focus in 2017 is MINIMIZING!  I plan to go through my whole house, our property… our life really…and declutter!

I am NOT a type A personality.  But I really want to be.  I was born with the misfortune of longing for the organization and cleanliness of my mother and maternal grandmother, but alas, I was not born with that gene.  I love organization, really I do, but it fails to come naturally for me.

Whether it comes naturally to us or not, organization IS possible, some of us just have to have a little help, a lot of determination and a LOT LESS STUFF.

So I have made my plan on how to start off my new year of minimizing and combining it with my need to get back on the frugality train as well.  I am going to make a bit of a game out of it and I’d love for you to follow along in my fun!

I am designating January 2017 as my “Chopped Challenge.” 

Being a total foodie, I am a Food Network junkie and one of my favorite shows to watch is Chopped.  The idea of being faced with 3 REALLY random ingredients and having to make something enjoyable to eat (using the pantry stocked with basic staples) is really entertaining and stretches my own imagination wondering just what I would do with fruit loops, champagne vinegar and Nori.

So in the spirit of Chopped, and in an effort to declutter my kitchen cupboards and fin

d along with it some much needed grocery budget savings, this is what I came up with.

(My food hording skills are unmatched… and embarrassing.)

This challenge will also help me refocus on the true homesteading mentality.  The past year came with some extra business/craziness and to be honest I have fallen off of the wagon and very much back into reliance on the grocery store.  GASP!

I am a bad, bad homesteader and should be stoned for my wicked ways.

(Only kidding, the truth is we all have busy crazy times in our lives where we are going to lose track of what is important to us or when we are truly unable to keep up.  It’s really no big deal.  We just need to jump back on the wagon.)

So here are the rules… or the rule I guess as it pretty much comes down to one thing.

NO grocery shopping in January except for a small budget for fresh produce and the fresh raw milk we buy from the farmer down the road (having fallen off of the wagon a bit this year I did not stock the cellar with winter vegetables as well as I should have and aside from a LOT of pumpkin, I have no other homegrown goodness left.)

  • NO buying meat (because our freezers are well stocked with pork, elk, deer and salmon from last years self sufficiency efforts and a small amount of chicken that I already have on hand from my last trip to Sam’s Club)
  • NO buying of processed/packaged food.  I have some on hand already that I will use up in order to not be wasteful, but once we are out, that’s it.

I would love it if you would follow me along on my silly challenge this month, and keep me accountable.  I don’t think there will be any adventures using fruit loops and Nori, but it should be rather entertaining.

To see how it all turned out, you can follow these links.

Chopped Challenge – Week 1

Chopped Challenge 2017 – All wrapped up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redeeming Comfort Food

I love food.

There, I said it.  I have a passion for food that goes beyond all reason.

Honestly, who couldn’t with a background like mine?  I come from a line of good cooks.  REALLY good cooks.

I was blessed to grow up with two Grandmothers who were fantastic cooks with dramatically differing styles.

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My hilarious Grandma Jeanne

My Grandma Jeanne would put Martha Stewart to shame in a time when Pinterest wasn’t around.  She could lay the most elegant holiday table, complete with linen table cloths, goldware and stand out recipes that were to die for.

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My sweet Grandma Hilda

My Grandma Hilda was also a most accomplished home cook.  Her food was “down home” comfort food that would stick to your ribs and make everything right in the world.  She was the Macgyver of the food world.  She could create a feast with what seemed like nothing in the cupboards.  Her methods were miraculous and genius.

And then there’s my amazing mom.

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My incredible mom took her mother’s classy cooking and melded it with her mother-in-law’s down home country cooking with perfect balance.  It made for a heart-warming childhood.  🙂

So ya see, it’s not my fault… I am just a product of my environment.

I fell in love with cooking at the age of 15 with my first attempt to create my own “from scratch” version of BBQ sauce.  I picked up a bottle of store bought BBQ sauce, read the ingredients in an attempt to recreate it and made some BBQ grilled chicken that really wasn’t too shabby. It was my first attempt to cook without a recipe and the rest is History.  Years of working in restaurants only drove my passion further; I couldn’t help my constant need to improve on the recipes, and after my introduction to Food Network, well, I became a lost cause.

Over time, I have become what I call a “real food” foodie.  In an attempt to use my food obsession for good rather than evil, I have adopted a “clean eating” mind set.  Now, for the sake of transparency I will admit that I do not (nor do I intend) to eat 100% clean 100% of the time; but I strive to reduce our reliance on processed food as much as possible.

One of my favorite “real food” foodie past times is what I call “redeeming comfort food.”  Taking recipes and ingredients that I have (or really should have by now) forsaken, and find a way to enjoy them once again–guilt free, by rewriting the script with real food ingredients.

And when most of those ingredients come from forest or farm?

Sigh…

pure nirvana.