Catching Up…Again

Where does the time  go?  I just keep losing track of it!

I know Ed was working on a post, but he got sidetracked too.

For both Ed and I, our focus lately has been on prayer for our friend and brother in the Lord, twenty-five year old Taylor Finley who started intensive chemotherapy this last week for stage four sarcoma. Our little town has come together in a big way to support him, but it is even more amazing what God has done through Taylor’s illness. If you follow us on Facebook, you can read all about him there.

As I told you last week, Kat and I started school again, so most of my day is tied up with that.  I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, but my visual-spatial daughter has some struggles with it, so we are needing to switch things up a bit.

The weather cannot decide what time of year it is.  Thursday, it was 55 degrees. James and I did some work on the cold frame…outside…without coats…in January.  Currently it is 25 degrees, and the low for tomorrow is supposed to be -3. There is a chance of snow and ice over the next few days too.  Kat and I brought some more wood in the house tonight just in case we need it. Pray for the best; prepare for the worst! That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe God will take care of us; it means that we understand that His idea of “best” isn’t always the same as ours!

The roosters finally came out of the coop, but I’m sure they’ll be “hibernating” again now.  Ed is working on plans to create a second coop so that we can keep both roosters. I’ll let him tell you about all that though. Maybe Monday.

Our last round of bad weather included more ice than snow and when the weather warmed, sheets of ice started slowly sliding off our roof. One day I was in the bedroom and I hard a loud rapping sound coming from outside. It kind of sounded like a woodpecker, and kind of not. I looked out the bedroom window, but didn’t see anything. I heard it again, so I went to look out the front door. That’s when I noticed the ice. The rapping was coming from directly over my head, so I went out onto the sidewalk to see the front of the house. From there, I  could tell the ice sheet had covered the gutter. The bird was trapped in the gutter. I went to get Ed. As he started to tell me that he didn’t know what we could do about it, the bird escaped from the end of the gutter.


Looking straight up from the porch


From the sidewalk

By the way, have you checked out the Back to Basics Living bundle yet? There really is a ton of great stuff in there. If you were to buy everything individually, you would have to pay over $500.00, but from the January 18-24 (next week), you can get it all for less than $50.00!


I shared a little about the homeschooling part of the bundle last week, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been looking over “Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen” by Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy.  All kids of great ideas, and not just “gifts in a jar” either.
“Homesteading Without A Homestead” by Marie Beausoleil from Just Plain Marie, is full of great advice for starting where you are in the whole homesteading process.

Have a wonderful weekend!



Back to Basics Living Bundle Review: Homeschooling Fundamentals

700x470Are-you-ReadyI actually planned to get this out last week, but Life happened and I didn’t get it done.

Since Katherine and I started back to school last week, I thought I would start my review of the Back to Basics Living Bundle by picking something from the Homeschool category. There are six products:

The Naturalist Homeschool Planner
Back To Basics Homeshcool MP3 Collection
Color Coded Planner for Student
Easy Peasy Chores. Black and White Cards
Easy Peasy Chores. Color Cards
Homeschooling Fundamentals.

Ok, well, picking something was not as easy as it sounded, but I finally settled on Homeschooling Fundamentals by Tiffany Davis from the blog Imperfectly Happy

The plan was just to skim over it first, but Tiffany Davis’ style is so engaging, I read the whole thing. For someone just in their second year of homeschooling, like me, this 46 page eBook offers a load of encouragement.

Although her book isn’t technically divided into “chapters”, I’m going to use a chapter reference so I don’t lose you in the different sections. So, in the first chapter, the author introduces herself and tells about her own homeschooling journey. The second chapter, called “Getting Started” answers many questions that tentative homeschoolers ask. If she missed something, I don’t know what it would be.

The third chapter covers different homeschool methods, like Traditional, Classical, Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason, and Unschooling. She explains each method and discusses why someone might or might not choose that particular method. She closes the chapter by saying she uses an Eclectic method which means that she has borrowed parts of each method that work for her family.

Chapter four covers Spaces, Schedules and Accountability. She stresses the importance of being organized, without being a slave to organization. Chapter five covers the “S” word: Socialization. To quote Tiffany, “Unless you are a hermit that refuses to take your child outside, you’re going to be ok, and so are they!” (p.32).

The next chapter covers Coops and Classes, (including online classes) that can supplement what you are doing at home. In chapter seven, Tiffany discusses burnout, what it is, and ten tips for avoiding it. After just coming through a dry season myself, let me add a hearty Amen to those tips!

Chapter 8 section includes some some helpful links and book recommendations. The last section is an “About the Author” page, telling you more about Tiffany and providing a link to her website

If you are considering homeschooling, or are a novice homsechooler wondering what in the world you’ve done, This eBook offers some great advice and encouragement.

This eBook is one of many included in the Back to Basics Living Bundle which will be available for purchase from January 18th to January 24th. You can find out more about that here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope your first day of 2016 got off to a glorious start! It is a cool 35 degrees here on the homestead, but the sun is shining!

It’s the day that so many of us start those famous (or infamous) New Year’s Resolutions to get healthy, lose weight, pray more, exercise more, spend more time with the family, and the list goes on.

No, this is not going to be a post about resolutions. Several of my blogger friends have written some good ones though like this one from Marie.

Ed and I are planning a “homestead meeting” for tomorrow morning before he and James go to work. We want to look at what we accomplished this year: the successes, the failures, and the reasons for both. We’ll share some of that with you next week. One thing that both us already know that we need to do is catch up on reading posts of our fellow bloggers!

As Ed told you Tuesday, the roosters don’t like the cold weather, and as of this morning, they still have not left the coop. Meeko and Libby are back to sharing the big straw-filled dog house. One day, the conditions will be right, and I will get video of Libby rearranging new straw. She’s like a kid at Christmas!

I went back to visit the kidney doctor yesterday, and testing revealed that I need to drink more water. He didn’t say one thing about cutting down on the coffee! Drink more water: I can live with that.

Last night, I was sitting here at my desk, and Loki brought me one of his favorite toys; an old squeaky ball. I took it from him to throw it and realized he had only given me half of it! The other half was in pieces all over the floor, and the Lord only knows where the squeaker is. I just hope he didn’t swallow it! It’s probably a good thing that he got a Kong dog toy for Christmas.



Ed worked last night, but got home about 10:30. We stayed up to bring in the new year with Kat and drink our traditional glass of sparkling grape juice, but went to bed about 12:10. Yeah, we’re night owl party animals for sure!

I don’t remember if I ever told you, but I did get the onions planted before it got cold. The frame part of the cold frame is finished, but I don’t know if it is actually insulated enough to grown anything. I need to do a little more research. Does anyone know about testing soil temperatures?

I dug out a couple of rag rug projects and told myself that I will finish at least one of them this weekend. I already put all the Christmas decorations away, but I still need to get the house into some semblance of order.

Kat and I start back to school on Tuesday. I would have started Monday, but Ed is off that day, and we have errands to run. For school purposes,we will treat Monday like Saturday and have school on Saturday instead. I’ll let you know how that works.


I have some exciting news coming, so be sure to check back with us next week, and I’ll fill you in!

Run, Run, Run!

Seems like all we did this week was run.

We made two 100 mile round trips to Liberty. and one 140 mile round trip to Independence this week, for doctor’s appointments and other personal business. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done on the homestead.

However, we did find a supplier for free wood pallets and other cool stuff from a store in Liberty. Look what we brought home yesterday!

wood frame with pallets in the background.

wood frame with pallets in the background.

Since we still don’t have the cold frame finished, Ed is thinking about using part of one of the pallets to frame the windows. Lord willing, his next two days off (Monday and Tuesday), will be “stay at home and catch up on projects” days.

Even with all the running, we did manage to get some school done. Most of what we did this week was literature. Since she was having to do a lot of sitting and waiting, I made her take books with her. She was not happy, but she did it. Today we started some Shakespeare, as well as reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” . Next week will have some “catch up on school” days as well.

The days that Ed worked, I got a few projects finished. I got some goldenrod picked and then I hung all my herbs out in the garage to dry.



drying herbs

drying herbs

I started drying them this way a few years ago, when we lived in Independence. I had a bumper crop of herbs and needed to get them all harvested before a forecasted frost. I crammed everything I could get into paper grocery sacks and stuck them on a shelf in the back of the house. Time got away from me and I didn’t get anything done with them. A few months later, I opened the bags, expecting to find rotted plant matter. What I found was perfectly dried herbs. I’ve been drying them that way ever since. The challenge this year was finding a place to hang the bags. I thought about the basement, but its too damp. I finally settled on the garage. I would have suspended them from the rafters, but I didn’t have any way to reach that high.

I also finished my first fall decorating project.

maple syrup bottle candle holders

maple syrup bottle candle holders

It’s the same concept as the blue ones I did awhile back. These are maple syrup bottles. I coated the inside with a shade of acryllic paint called “nutmeg”. Since the little handles are solid glass, I covered them with hemp rope. The leaves on the front are real maple leaves from the trees in our front yard. I coated them in about a ton of Mod Podge, to make them stay on. Then I tied on the raffia bows. I think they turned out well. The candles were too big for the bottles, so I had to whittle them down a little to make them fit. I guess that is as good a reason as any for learning to make my own candles!

Of course, on the days that Ed worked, we still had school, and Katherine still had to read. Here she is reading Les Miserables. Bookworm is reading along.

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Ed is working on a series of posts about our critters, but I have to say something about Bookworm here. She is Captain’s daughter, from her first and only litter. At our last house, she practically lived outside. Now, she won’t go out unless we make her, and then she climbs the front door screen, yelling at us to let her back in. She divides her time between Katherine’s room and the tables in front of the picture window in the front room. I’m not sure what she was  thinking here. Maybe she thought she looked better in the pot than the avocado tree did.  That tree is tougher than it looks. It stood right back up when I made Bookworm move.

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Our weather has been typical for Missouri fall. Two temperate days, one hot day, and then a “but I don’t want to turn on the furnace yet” day, and then back to a temperate day. We are getting very close to our average first frost dates, so I would really like to get some things finished outside soon. I also need to bring in some potted plants and herbs from the front yard. Then I’ll have to work on some interior lighting.

Hope everyone has a great evening!


Let the Horror Begin!

That is what Katherine said as we started school this morning. Yeah, that was encouraging. Well, we made it through the day with only one meltdown. Although, I guess you could call it a double, because we both got pretty hot. Fifteen-year-olds with attitudes are so much fun. Yeah, right.

The rest of the week was just as busy as last week. I did get my herbs harvested, but haven’t done anything with them yet. I got the strawberry bed mulched, and cleaned out the mess in the driveway that runs into the basement/garage. We had stuff sitting out there covered with tarps, and the tarps were useless. The garbage man had a busy day. Oh well; it’s just stuff.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

harvested sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and mint.

Katherine and I pulled out some old tires and an old bike we’re going to turn into yard art, and scrubbed them down with dish soap. Now, I just have to get the paint.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

scrubbing the bike, tires, and other things.

Speaking of paint: We have a ton of paint left by the previous owner. Most of it is interior latex paint. Any ideas about what to do with it? She and I have totally different tastes in color schemes. Most of it is pastels, except for a really bright “melon”. Not my thing at all.

I do want to share a few things with you that I’ve learned in the last few weeks. You know I can barely stand to throw anything away if I think I can do something with it. Well, I have been reading for years about things to do with toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and have a bunch in a bag. Last week I was fighting with two different glue guns and a glue pot, trying to untangle their cords. I was about to roll the cords around their respective owners when the bag of tubes caught my eye. Ok, it’s not pretty, but it really works! As for the pretty part. I covered coffee cans with scrap book paper and old dictionary pages to make tube collectors that sit on the back of the toilet.

cords in tubes

cords in tubes

tube can

tube can

Since I keep all glass jars and bottles, I have spent a lot of time trying to remove labels. Then a few weeks ago, I read this blog post. She is absolutely right. Wow that works! Only don’t leave them to soak over night. Your jars will be clean, but the cold washing soda will set up in the bottom of your sink around the drain plug. Using, vinegar, running water, a table knife, and about thirty minutes time, we finally got it out.

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

washing soda hard as rock in the sink

petrified washing soda

petrified washing soda

Some time over the last few weeks, and I honestly don’t remember where I read it, there was something that said you could spray a table spoon of Epsom Salts diluted in a gallon of water on your peppers and they would produce better. Since mine weren’t producing at all, what did I have to loose? So I sprayed them. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but my peppers are blooming like crazy and I actually have a few small peppers growing. I’ll keep you posted. I took some pictures, but you can’t tell what from what with all the green.

Oh, here is a picture of our pitiful potato crop. Our neighbor, Mr “A” says he doesn’t “fool with potatoes”, for that very reason.

pitiful potatoes

pitiful potatoes

The other day, I noticed something growing in front of the barn doors that I thought I should know. I had to wait for blooms to be sure, but it’s mallow! I’ll tell you about it in my next post, as well some info about preserving herbs.




This, That, and The Other Thing

Last weekend marked our first anniversary on the homestead. This weekend will mark a year since my accident. A lot has changed in the last year, and in some ways, not nearly as much as we would have liked. However, in all things we are thankful to God. He allowed us to get this place, and He kept me from being crushed under the wheels of my son’s car. Life is good!

Earlier this week, when we were out feeding the dogs, I told Ed that although we seem to have the ticks under control, the dogs (Libby particularly) were still infested with fleas. He suggested we bathe them Thursday morning since he didn’t have to be at work until three. I thought that was a good idea. By the way, the DIY tick repellant recipe that I use on the dogs, as well as the one for us, can both be found here. It works great for ticks, but like I said, the fleas are still a huge issue.

So, early Thursday morning, Ed, Kat and I, did dog bathing duty. We hadn’t bathed them since we moved. Bathing them at our last house was a super challenge. If you are interested, you can read about that, and a couple year’s worth of other dog and cat stories here. (I went back and read Ed’s post about that bathing, and noting his analogy and vocabulary choices, I am amazed at how much the Lord has worked on that man!) Of course, he told you a lot about Libby yesterday. I  can add a little information: Before I got Libby, I was told she was a “pure bred Lab”. Obviously, she isn’t. As I’ve often said, “She’s no more pure bred Lab then I am!” You cannot bribe her with food. She just dosen’t care. Our last vet witnessed this and told me that training her was going to be challenging. He was right: Libby is now eight years old, and she still won’t come when she’s called, if she has something better to do.

Anyway, back to the bath. Now we have outside water spigots and hoses; things that make dog bathing oh so much easier. I recorded the bathing this time, but compared to years past, it was a non-event. The highlight of the bathing was probably Meeko running past Libby a little too closely and hitting her right in the jaw with his hard head! Besides, from where I placed the camera, most of what you see is our backsides. Nobody needs to look at that! We don’t even want to look at it!

Speaking of big backsides. Today, we are starting the Whole 30. I will keep you posted as we go through our thirty days of eating only meat, veggies, fruit and healthy fats. No grains, no legumes, no dairy and definitely no sugar or processed foods. I’ve already been doing a modified version of that as we used up food we already have, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Also, earlier this week, Kat and I carried some things out to the barn. While we were there, I wanted to check the two rooms that have doors where we have been storing holiday decorations, things that belong to my boys, and the majority of my book collection.

To be honest, I was most concerned about the books. I had seen rodent evidence around the barn, and I didn’t want them nesting in my books. I turned on the light and stepped up into the room. I had started to check some of the boxes; shaking them first and listening for anything moving. Then I heard Katherine express some surprise. I honestly don’t remember what she said, but when I turned to look, she was pointing at the floor that I had just stepped over.

There was a rather large snake skin. I think I may have jumped. I really don’t like snakes! Intellectually, I understand that there are good snakes and poisonous snakes, but the scared to death side of me doesn’t pay much attention to intellect. My second thought was that if that skin was in this closed room, it’s previous owner might be in here too! We went back to the house.


Kat and the snake skin. She thought it was cool!

Later that evening, I relayed the incident to Ed, showing him the skin that we brought back to the house with us. He said, “Well, he’ll keep the rats and mice out of your books.” “Yes,” I replied, “and he’ll keep me out of them too!”

We’re still debating on whether we should give up on the garden for this year. It’s really over grown and not producing much. The pole beans have been showing us lots of lovely blooms, and very little bean. If anyone has any ideas about that let us know. Since we were told the previous owners had their garden in the same place we have ours, we are both thinking that we should compost and mulch that area well, and then let it be fallow for a year. That way, if the soil is as depleted as we think it is, it will have a chance to recover. If we can get a cold frame built, I am thinking about a fall garden with some greens and broccoli, cauliflower etc.

beanless beans

beanless beans

I am also working on pulling together what I need for this home school year. We are switching to the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, which means shorter lessons on a wider range of subjects. We will still be using Life of Fred for Math. We will be reading from many different books, some of which I already have, and some I will have to order. Amazon and I have become great friends! I would love to be able to take advantage of their affiliate program, but Amazon and the state of Missouri had issues, so I can’t. Anyway, for Kat and I, school starts September first!

Speaking of home school. Last year, during Botany, we stuck some tooth picks in an avocado seed and put it in a glass of water. Now, we have a nice looking start on an avocado tree. Don’t expect to ever bear fruit here, but it is a nice looking house plant. I just have to keep Adora from laying in it.

avocado seed

avocado seed

avocado plant

avocado plant

Well I guess that’s enough this, that and the other for now. Have a great weekend!


This and That

Its been hectic here on the homestead.

Ed went back to work this week, so everyone is having to adjust. Right now, he’s in training, so he’s doing the 8-4, Monday-Friday thing, but after training he will work 11 a.m to 7 p.m.. We don’t know what his days off will be yet, but we do know that it won’t be the weekend. All that means that, at least for now, he will be missing both Sunday morning church service and Wednesday night Bible study. He is not happy about that, but he is happy to be working again. We both know that the Lord will straighten out the scheduling eventually. He’s done it before.

Bam Bam put a deposit down on an apartment that is much closer to work for him. He drives about three hours a day now. So, he will be leaving the homestead when the apartment is ready at the end of March.

In the meanwhile, Kat and I have been knee deep in school, trying to finish up some things before March, when we will start a botany unit. We are both excited about that! I’m getting most of my ideas from a unit study, and it starts with a study of chocolate (see why Kat’s excited?)

Today, as part of a study on caves, Kat was suppose to “carve” an ax head from soap. I thought that might be a little young for her, but I gave her the option, and she wanted to do it. She kept talking about all the soap shavings, and I remembered I had a jar of soap slivers that I had been saving. After a few minutes of internet research, I found something I thought we could do.

Everything I read suggested grating or chopping the soap, and neither one of us was really up for that. So we just put what we had in a pot with about a quart of warm water. We let it cook on low for about an hour. Now it has to sit covered at least eight hours or over night. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

With Kyle gone and Ed at work, Kat and I are going to have to pick up the slack with some of the chores. Nothing major, just little things that add up, like taking the kitchen compost can out to the compost bin near the barn, taking the trash to the road, etc. Things that Ed has normally done simply as a matter of course. Once we get critters, we’ll all have more chores anyway, so we might as well get used to it now.

After that extended January thaw, we went back into the deep freeze. We brought the dogs in nearly every night last week. I think our coldest morning was -7 (F), and that does not count the wind. We did have one day in the 50’s, but today it is gray, cold, and windy.

Kat took this amazing sunset picture Sunday evening on her way out to youth group.
Speaking of evening, we have had a fox visitor several evenings, as well as early mornings, which is driving the dogs crazy. Meeko has decided that the shock he gets from the underground fence isn’t so bad if he hits it at a dead run. Yes, I know. He is crazy. We plan to build a real fence with a slick wire as soon as we have the funds, but for now, he is on a cable. I don’t know who hates it more: him or us. The only one who doesn’t seem to mind is Libby. I think that is because she can now get attention from us without having to fight off the attention hog (Meeko).

I managed to make some yogurt this week with a half gallon of whole milk and two tablespoons of Greek yogurt as a starter. By the time I thought about taking pictures, it was gone (Bam Bam). I’ll be sure to take some next time, and explain how I did it. I think that will eventually be a weekly event. I really like yogurt.

I’ve started preparing an area in front of my east-facing picture window for starting seeds. Ed attached a florescent light to a frame that he originally made as part of a jewelry display (that’s another blog post), for a makeshift grow light. I bought a few herb plants at Sprouts last week and they seem to be doing quite well under it. Kat and I also started a terrarium and placed it there too. She’s had the kit for a long time, and we just never did anything with it. Don’t know if the seeds will grow or not, but we’ll see.
I plan on bringing in my mini greenhouse, as well as a baker’s rack that I’ve used as a plant stand. I just haven’t done it yet. When money permits, I’m going to invest in some house plants too. I used to have Wandering Jews and African Violets, and would like to again.


Is It Spring Yet?

The holidays are over and its back to school time. For my daughter and I, that means meeting at the dining room table at 8:00 a.m., in order to begin our school day. Right now our main focus is finishing a Native American History unit, so there is a lot of reading, and watching videos. Monday went well and we got a lot done, but she spent most of Monday night in the bathroom, so we took yesterday off. She is feeling somewhat better today. Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it, full steam.

I always think I’m going to spend the dark days of January working on school, indoor projects and crafts, but inevitably, my mind turns to spring and starting seeds. My mind gets help when I start getting gardening supply and seed catalogs in the mail. Then Common Sense Homesteading posted the link to this article on facebook! I so want this, and I’ve already asked the Shelf Elf (Ed) if he’s up to the task. I have the perfect place for it!

One catalog that we always get this time of year is from Lehman’s. This is our version of the Sears Wish Book. We rarely buy anything, but we both really love to look. I know Ed saw a hand pump that we might be able to use if we ever get the well going. I love to look at all the food preservation stuff. They have canners and dehydraters, grain grinders, oil presses and fermenting crocks. Some women dream about fancy cars, houses, or clothes. I dream about grain grinders and oil presses! I also dream about goats and ridge heddle weaving looms but that is another post.

To make matters worse (or better depending on your perspective), our weather has been unseasonably warm. Last fall, a friend gave me a few bulbs, and my son planted them for me inside a rubber tire in the front yard. The tire was to prevent any accidental mowing. Last week, when Ed and I were out walking the property, I noticed a little green shoot coming up inside the tire. “Oh, no!”, I said, “Go back! Its too soon!” Of course, I know that it is too late for that one. Today our high temperature was 7 degrees and the windchill is expected to be in the negative double digits.

Normally, when we walk the property, we walk around the back yard and the pastures, tentatively planning what we are going to put where. We’ve already mentally moved the vegetable garden, dog run and chicken coop three times. That day, I had a purpose for walking the front yard.


The first picture was taken the day after we moved in. We cleared out the overgrown stuff next to the porch, and made room for the dog house. This is what it looks like now.


Note the tire at the right hand edge of the picture.  We want to add a porch that runs the length of the house, and I want to turn the whole thing into a garden. I want flowers, herbs, trees, bushes, benches, and fountains. I want it to be a place where neighbors want to come and share a cup of coffee and a visit.

Yes, I know, its going to take a long time to get it how I can see it in my head, but as long as the Lord lets me stay here and stay healthy, I’m in no hurry….well except maybe for Spring to get here so I can get started.