Simple Living

Learning to Live without Walmart – A Homesteaders Dream

Can it be done? Do we really think we could spend the rest of our life never walking into a big box store?
That is our dream…right there out in the open we want to live WITHOUT Walmart!

As I was making mint tea from our herb garden, scrambling eggs from our hens, and frying potatoes from the garden, I was so proud knowing that our breakfast didn’t come from a store, but right from our own backyard.  At the same time I was reviewing our grocery list and dreading the monthly trip into town.  I was tired of spending so much of our hard-earned money and needed to push our homestead to be even more self-sufficient.
But what more could we do and where should we start?

As with everything else, it started with pen and paper. We wrote down everything we already are doing. Then we made a list of the things we typically buy, and then made a list of things we can learn how to do.
Here are our lists….
What we already do:

We raise our own hens for eggs
We raise meat chickens
We raise feeder pigs for pork
We raise a bull calf for beef
We raise meat rabbits
We have three bee hives to supply us with fresh raw honey throughout the year
We plant 1/2 acre garden to provide us with fresh vegetables
We can over 200+ jars of produce each year – lots of spaghetti sauce
We pick gallons of blackberries each year to make wine and pie filling
We burn wood to keep us warm in the winter
We raise alpacas for yarn for spinning
We make our own bread
We cook everything from scratch
We make our own cleaning supplies
We buy raw milk from a local dairy and make butter, yogurt and ice cream
We save heirloom seeds
We make our own hand lotion, face cream, and lip balm
We grow all our garden plants from seed
We mend all of our own clothes
We compost kitchen scraps and animal manure
We hunt wild game ( not me …hubby)
We smoke our own meat
We planted fruit trees
We make dog treats

What we normally buy:

Baking Supplies; flour, sugar, yeast, oil, shortening
Pasta, beans & rice
Health & Beauty Supplies; toothpaste, shampoo, mouthwash, hand soap, toilet paper
Clothes & shoes
Baby chicks in the spring
Pet food
Grain for the farm animals
Clothes
Light bulbs, batteries, candles

Once we wrote down a list of the things we generally buy, we were able to compile a list of the things we could work on to shorten our buy list. Thanks to the Internet we were able to find great tutorials on some of the items on our work list.
What we need to work on:

How to render lard
Grow and press sunflowers for oil
How to make soap using wood ashes and animal fat
How to make shampoo
How to make toothpaste
How to weave cloth
How to make candles
How to grind wheat for baking
How to make yeast
Learn to make pasta
Learn how to hatch eggs
Find and use alternative energy sources – solar panels
Learn to dye wool
Learn how to graft fruit trees
Grow grain for the farm animals

We do admit that there are still things we will need to buy, but our goal is to provide for ourselves as much as humanly possible. Will we ever be able to make the steel toe boots my husband needs for work, or a zipper needed to repair a jacket? No, but we can take control of our lives and have the satisfaction in knowing we have made the choice to live without relying on big box stores as much as we can!

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

How to Start Living a Simple Life

Simple Living.
We have learned that living simple really isn’t simple at all.  It took some time for us to learn how to slow down and find ways to simplify our life.   We had to dig deep and figure out what was important to us.  It took changing our mindset on how we wanted to live.

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania we had the joy of being surround with a simpler way of life.  I can still close my eyes and see the lush green pastures, smell freshly mowed hay and see an endless array of Amish buggies driving by. Life back then seemed so much simpler.  It was a life we dreamed about and one we were determined to have.
Your dream may not be to live on a farm, but whatever is inspiring you to slow down take a good look at your life and try to apply some of these basic living simple principles.
 Here are a few tips on how to start living a simple life:

Make your lifestyle a priority – I knew early on I wanted to live in the country, grow my own food, raise animals and be as self-sufficient as I could be.  I wanted to re-live my childhood by smelling hay and gathering eggs.  I wanted to see a pantry full of canned food, and my husband wanted to hunt his own land and till his own fields. That was the life we dreamed of. Whatever is inspiring you, determine the lifestyle you want and make it a priority!

Slow down and enjoy every task – A big part of living simple is slowing down. This can be a real challenge for a society that is driven by the fastest, newest, next best thing.  Whether it is cleaning a chicken coop or building a fence, we try hard to enjoy the task at hand.  We live in the moment and not let our minds wander to the list of other chores waiting for us, we find ways to make our work fun.  We work hard and laugh often.

Know what is important – For us there was nothing that could hold us back from living our dream. We knew for our own sanity we had to change, to get back to our roots, and build a life in the country.  It didn’t come easy, but through hard work and determination we accomplished our life long dream.  Figure out what is really important to you and let nothing stand in your way!

Connect with nature – There is something so natural about feeling dirt between your fingers, sand between your toes or the sun on your face.  One of the first steps to living a simpler life is allowing the wonders of nature to connect with your soul.  Start today by taking a break to enjoy nature, and its calming effect.

Make the most of today – If you are in the first stages of slowing down or a seasoned simplistic stop worrying about tomorrow and live for today.  Literally stop and smell the roses.  Moving to the country, far away for the hustle of the city, made us realize that our time here on earth is short and made us want to live each day to its fullest. When we stopped worrying about tomorrow …we started living for today.

Where ever you are, whatever you’re doing, stop and make a list of these five points.  Figure out what lifestyle you want to live, slow down and concentrate on the task at hand, know what is important to you, take a break to enjoy nature and make the most of every day.  Simple living is only a few steps away…take yours today!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

Adopt a Simple Amish Lifestyle

Learning to slow down and enjoy life can seem overwhelming, but with just a few small changes, you can live that simple life you dream of.

I am one of those people who romanticizes about the Amish way of life.  I love their simplicity, the way they put God and community first, and the way they live a simple existence surrounded by family.  Their inner circle is small and they know they can count on those around them to get them through the trials and tribulations of the world around them
I also know that they have worries just like us.  I know first hand they suffer from illness, depression, family problems and at times money issues just like we do, but I also know their faith is strong and they always look to the Lord to pull them through.
Over the years, I have tried to model my life after that simplicity.  I strive to bring peace and balance to my life and am always looking for ways to adopt a simple Amish lifestyle.

Here is a list of the ways I am adopting a simple Amish lifestyle:

Turn all inner noise off. – Very rarely will find a TV or radio on in my house.  When I am able I open the windows I let the sounds of the farm bring me music.  The sounds of birds singing, our chickens chirping, the alpacas talking and even an occasional coyote singing.
Take the time to enjoy – I slow down and enjoy my tasks at hand.  Whether it is washing dishing or feeding chickens,  I take the time to enjoy what I am doing.  I gaze out the window while washing dishes, I listen to the birds in the trees when feeding chickens and I am in my glory when mowing grass.  Just slowing down to take in the world around me calms and gives me peace.
Turn the lights off – I am aware of every light and electric appliance that is on in the house.  When I am spending a quiet evening by myself, there is nothing on except one small light to read by.  The visual noise of too many lights, and the energy we burn always makes me anxious…so the small glow from one light calms me.
Grow your own – We make every effort to learn to live without Walmart. We plant gardens, raise our own meat and make as many things we can homemade. I realize everyone cannot live in a place where they can grow their own food, but if you can just be aware of where your food comes from, it’s a start.  Visit farmer’s markets, local vegetable stands and make it a point to buy locally.
Make homemade gifts – Every evening I spend my quiet time working on projects that will provide me gifts to give throughout the year. Crocheting, quilting and fiber spinning are some of my favorite way to make homemade gifts.
Make home cooked meals – Eating out less and fixing more home-cooked meals is a great way to simplify your life. We cook and eat at home so much that now when I do eat out I find myself getting anxious about the food in front of me.  I find myself wondering… where did this food come from, how was it prepared and what is in it that I don’t know about?
Pick up a book – I am an avid reader and enjoy immersing myself  in a book. I visit places I will never go, meet people I may never meet and go on adventures I can only go on through a book. 
Take a walk – Seeing the world around you can only be truly enjoyed when you are outside.  The fresh air, the peacefulness, and the beauty of nature is all I need to find that inner peace.
Put up a line – My mornings are not complete without hanging laundry on the line.  The clean, fresh scent of freshly washed clothes, the sound of the snap I give them to release the wrinkles and the gentle breeze that dries them is about as simple as it gets for me.
And lastly…make time for prayer – I spend time every day in devotion and prayer.  Starting my day with the Lord will calm any anxiety I have about the day ahead.

I know I will never drive a buggy or live without some form of electronics, but I do know that there are so many things I can do each and every day to simplify my life and step back and enjoy the world around me.  Adopting some of the values that the Amish live by helps me find peace and joy in my life.
What are some of the ways you simplify your life?
 

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

Our simple living story

What drove us to simple living.
We don’t think our story is unlike many of our simple living friends as it started with a burn-out and a desire to live a more stress-free lifestyle.
Have you ever had the feeling that the world was closing in around you, that you wanted to run and hide and find a place where you could be alone? Well, that was us six years ago! 
At that time, my husband and I ran a successful web hosting and design company. We loved our customers, but we were on call 24 hours a day. The rat race of keeping up with the latest technology, along with living in the city was so far from our up-bringing that the culture shock finally got the better of us. It was a hard decision to sell our business, our home and give up our security, but in the end we knew we had to make a drastic change and make it quick.
We lost some friends; upset many of our clients, shocked our family, and it took us a year to make any sense of what we wanted to do next. We took a year off and planned the changes we were going to make. We knew that if we didn’t change the path we were on, one of us was going to an early grave. I had terrible stomach problems from the stress, and it took a year for Craig to key down from being on call for ten years. 
During our year off we made plans, lists, goals and talked about every scenario possible. We dug deep into what made us happy and wrote them down and read them often.
For me living in the country and being a homemaker was all I dreamed of. For Craig, it was being able to walk out his back door to go hunting and to go back to what he loved and knew best…drilling. 
In the very beginning, we looked at the biggest picture and then tried to figure out how we were going to achieve our goals one step at a time.
Our list is still one in progress, but we get to cross new things off every year and that is such an accomplishment. Will it take us our lifetime or at least another five to ten years to complete? Probably, because we are doing it one-pay check at a time and only tackling one goal at a time. 
Here is what our list looks like. We work backwards, so the top of the list is what we are aiming for and just for the record we are just starting our fifth year of working on this list. (Those items in red are completed.)
1. Live on a small homestead & be self-sufficient (This is our life goal!)
2. Build a barn
3. Build solar panels and go off grid
4. Raise beef cows
5. Raise pigs
6. Grow sunflowers and make our own oil
7. Grow corn for feed
8. Grow wheat for milling
9. Drill a water well in the fruit orchard
10. Live on one income. (As of this month, I will be leaving my full-time job to come back home to take care of my family and farm.)
11. Pay debt off (We have no debt but our house and car.)
12. Build a house (We downsized to a very small house that could fit our budget.)
13. Raise meat rabbits 
14. Raise meat chicken
15. Raise chickens for eggs
16. Raise bees for honey
17. Plant a herb garden for medicinal health
18. Plant enough garden to preserve enough vegetables to last a year (We are still working on amending our sandy soil to get a bountiful garden.)
19. Buy a tractor (A 1940 Ford 9A was all our budget could afford, but it is working for now.)
20. Plant a fruit orchard (Our hot, dry summers and no water source in the orchard is proving to be a challenge, out of twenty trees we only have five that survived.)
21. Build a small temporary barn (We are out-growing this tiny barn but for the time being it is still serving its purpose.)
22. Live in the 5th wheel until we can build (We just sold our camper after living in it for two years.)
23. Dig a well and add a septic
24. Buy land
25. Sell our house in the city
26. Change our “must have must do mindset”
27. Find new jobs  
Our lives have changed in the last five years! I am no longer a basket case, and Craig loves going to work.
We may not have a lot of money in the bank, don’t drive brand new cars and we don’t live in a big fancy house, but what we do have is a newly found love for the sound of a rooster crowing, a pig splattering mud on our face, seeing the stars stretch out across the sky and the smell of freshly turned dirt. 
If you are dreaming of a life somewhere other than where you are, make a list and work backwards by taking one small step at a time. 
A dream is only a wish until you write it down, and then it becomes a goal.
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Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

10 Voluntary Simplistic Life Choices We Made

Voluntary Simplicity.
We spent a good part of our married life chasing that old mighty dollar, spending more than we made and being in debt to the hill. We were depressed, unhappy and had wandered so far from our roots that we knew something had to change!
What did we do? We voluntarily simplified our life!
Many thought we choose a life of poverty, when we changed our lifestyle. That is the furthest from the truth, and in all reality what it meant to us was changing our life to fit our goals and values in accordance on how we wanted to live.
For us it started with a list, a set of goals, and written down plan. Our list was pretty long in the beginning, but now many of the items have been checked off, and our dreams of living a voluntary simplistic life is taking shape.

Here are 10 of the top items from our original list:

Live debt free. – After six years of working on our debt we are down to just a mortgage and a small car payment.
Live closer to nature. – When we lived in the city we were like everyone else who was trying to keep up with the Jones’s. Now we keep up with the birds and the stars and they don’t cost us a dime.
Life without chemicals. – I am so proud that I have converted us to a chemical free household.
Cook from scratch. – Nothing makes me happier, then to put a whole meal on the table that we raised on our own farm. Last night is was a roasted chicken, home grown green beans, potatoes and a loaf of homemade bread with blackberry jam.
Raise our own meat. – When I learned all the growth hormones that were pumped into livestock it made me sick. Now we only eat meat we have raised or hunted which includes, pork, chicken, rabbit, and wild game.
Live on one income. – This was a big goal of ours and it took us five years to get this one crossed off our list! What a wonderful feeling to know I am now able to stay home and take care of my family, farm, and myself.
Reuse, recycle and re-purpose. – We are the king and queen of making do with what we have. This week’s project is making a fence with recycled pallets.
Being happy with what we have. – Coming from a very consumer driven society this one sometimes can be a challenge. How do we rectify this? We don’t watch TV that is filled with commercials, and we don’t allow advertisements into our home.
Stop consuming. – This one was fairly easy…we do not recreation shop, and I always go to the store with a list. We have gotten so good at this that it took me six weeks to reason with myself to buy a new pair of sneakers, and if it were not for the blister on my foot from my old shoes, they still would be at the store.
Learning to feel satisfied and not deprived. – The day we signed the papers to buy this land our hearts were filled with joy and then the day we sold our house in the city we have never felt deprived only satisfied.

So what have we gained by living a voluntary simplistic lifestyle?
Peace, happiness, and true freedom from owning less…you ought to try it is contagious!
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

The Clothesline Revolution

As a child, I have fond memories of running between the lines of clothes drying on my Grandmothers clothesline. My grandmother lived on a busy street, so we often were confined to the side yard while my mother visited with her in the kitchen that overlooked the yard. To this day when I drive past the place where her house once stood, I still have vivid memories of her clothes poles and playing in her side yard.

As I got older wash day became a chore, and my memories switch to a wringer washer and clothes baskets full of wet clothes waiting to be hung. I remember thinking how badly I wished my parents would buy one of those fancy automatic washer and dryers like I saw at my friends house. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that my Mother finally got a shiny new washing machine.
It amazes me how sixty years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see clothes line-drying in every back yard, but since 1940 when clothes dryers became available that nostalgia symbol has slowly died. Today many subdivisions and communities prohibit the use of clothes lines. The organization Laundry List is lobbing for the “Right to Dry” with the hope that no matter where you live you can line dry your clothes if you choose. Those of us that are able to use clothes lines are opting to conserve energy by bringing this old-fashion household chore back outside.

As the clothesline revolution makes a comeback, people are now connecting that household chore to simpler times. I look forward to the few minutes I get to connect with nature and breathe in the smell of freshly laundered clothes while taking in the sounds of the nature around me. I look at line drying as my way of helping the environment while it keeps me connected to a simpler way of life.

I finally found heavy duty clothespins.
I’ve been line drying clothes for years, and have gone through many different styles of clothespins. From plastic, to peg, to cheaply made China pins, and no matter which ones I bought, I never could find any heavy duty clothespins that would hold up to the wind we get here on the farm. My clothes would always end up on the ground. Since I was introduced to these hand-made heavy duty clothes pins I don’t have to worry about anything ending up on the ground!

 
I was surprised to read that most households clothes dryers account for 5% of their energy cost and if they’d switch to line drying clothes and washing in cold water the savings could be remarkable. Do you want to see how much you can save by line drying your clothes? Check out laundrylist.org. I’m saving almost $500 a year by line drying and washing in cold water.
How much can you save?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Finding freedom in owning less

Owning less and being ok with it.
I had someone ask me the other day if I was going to upgrade my cell phone to the newest version.  I had not even given it a thought until I was asked, and then I felt the instant pressure of maybe I should, and maybe I was missing out on something I needed!  Within a few seconds, I came to my senses and remembered who I was and what I stood for, which is finding freedom in owning less.
While most of the world is looking for the next best electronic to hit the market, many like myself are turning our backs on consumerism and embracing the fact that happiness is not bought in a big-box store or in the latest version of the next best thing.
I truly believe living a simple life does not mean living with less or even doing without, it means looking for the simple things in life that bring us joy. It means changing old habits that keep us trapped in a must have must do life style.
For us it means we do not drive new cars or have a big fancy house, but what we do have we appreciate and find happiness in other things like our faith, family and farm.
When we moved to the country, we left most of what we had behind along with a lifestyle we were running frantically from. Eliminating the excess from our lives was all that was on our mind and with it came a sense of freedom by owning less.

Here are a few tips we use to keep us living a simple non-cluttered life by owning less:

Stay out of the stores – Simplicity is about making do with what you already have not buying new and replacing things that can still be used.

Limit exposure to ads – Companies spend billions of dollars every year trying to convince us we need the next best thing! Turn off the TV, watch movies without commercials and listen to real music rather than the radio.

Use one thing at a time until you wear it out – Do we really need 5 pairs of shoes when we only have one pair of feet? How many outfits do we need when we can only wear one at a time? 

Learn to love being home – We spend thousands of dollars each year to pay and maintain our homes, many spend more time away from them than living in them. Find the joy in being at home!

We have learned that life is too short to spend time worrying about how we are going to buy that next best thing.
Now we spend our time looking for ways to live a more meaningful life on less.
 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Self-Sufficient Homesteading in 10 Easy Steps

Live self-sufficient anywhere!

Do you have a dream of living on a homestead?

Do you live in the city or suburb and think you have to live in the country to homestead?

I am here to show you that no matter where you live you can be self-sufficient homesteading anywhere.
Let’s take a look at the term self-sufficient and homesteading. Self-sufficient means needing no outside help in satisfying one’s basic needs, especially about the production of food, and homesteading means living a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. So by those definitions the key to homesteading is learning to be self-sufficient.
Tweet this: The key to homesteading is learning to be self-sufficient.
If you are looking for ways you can start being more self-sufficient here are ten very basic things you can do no matter where you live!

Have a true appreciation for life and don’t listen to the naysayers. -We often get responses to our basic living lifestyle with raised eyebrows, but we find strength in knowing we can take care of ourselves through power outages, financial hardships, droughts and anything else the good Lord throws our way.
Start growing your food. -If you live in the city, replace your lawn with a garden, plant fruit trees and learn to hunt and fish. There are state game lands in almost every state that welcome hunters if you do not have land of your own.
Find a backup energy. -Find an alternative heat source. If you have a fireplace convert it to wood and store wood to be used through power outages or at least invest in a generator or propane heater.
Find ways to be frugal. -One of the easiest ways to become more self-sufficient is to stop relying on always buying new. Reuse, recycle and do without is our motto!. Buying second-hand clothes, furniture, hand tools, and toys have saved us thousands of dollars over the years that we have put toward paying off our debt.
Stop buying paper products. -Look at the money you waste each week on paper towels, tissues and napkins.  Those paper items can be replaced with old rags and cloths.
Review your budget. -Look at your current budget and cut out anything that is not a necessity. If you have debt, this is the first place to look. Leave some wiggle room for special occasions, but do you need a $100 cable bill or $75 hair cut?
Raise backyard farm animals. -Most cities are now allowing small animal permits within city limits. Rabbits and chickens are both great animals you can raise to feed your family even if you live in the city.
Raise honey bees. – The honey you pull from the hives twice a year will provide endless amounts of all-natural healthy sweetener for your family.
Save your seeds. -When planting your garden use heirloom seeds. You will only need to purchase the seeds once since you save the seeds from year to year.
Learn the benefits of herbs for medicinal purposes. -Our forefathers did not have local drug stores to rely on, and most ailments were cured with herbs. Herbs are easy to grow, and their uses are endless.

Living a simple self-sufficient lifestyle can happen where ever you are. Work on one step at a time, and before you know it, you will be taking care of most of your family’s basic needs, right from your own backyard!
What things do you do that are homesteading friendly and are putting you on the path to being self-sufficient?
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

10 Ways to Add Amish Values to Your Life

There is something so appealing about the way the Amish live.  Their simplicity, their family values, their work ethics to name a few. But, what most Americans idolize about the Amish are really things easily obtained. Well most of us wouldn’t dream of living without electric, or even try to follow the rules they live by. But, we can capture some of their simplicity that draws people to their way of life every day.

In all reality, they are just like us…they are Christians, mothers, fathers, and children, and they have the same struggles as we do.  They worry about their children and how to provide for their families.  But what’s so captivating about them is they live as close to the land as possible, are very family oriented and they approach a more sustainable, back-to-basics way of living.
If you find their way of life appealing, there are so many things you can do to bring some Amish values into your life.

Practice Gratitude. Being humble is a big step to living a quieter simple life. In today’s world many of us want to be the center of attention, we want to stand out in the crowd and be heard.  Finding peace and serenity starts with being silent.  Listen to those around you, avoid gossip, stay clear of bragging and avoid being too showy. 
Establish Peace. It may be hard for many of us to find peace in a world full of news, electronics and the constant connection to the outside world.  But finding ways to add periods of peace to your life should be the ultimate goal every day.  Turn off the TV, practice yoga, learn meditation, read a book and reject all forms of noise.
Live on Less. How many things in your life are items that bring nothing of value to your life? Many of our homes are filled with consumer driven products that just clutter our space. You will find that once you start ridding your home of all those things that just take up space you will find true freedom from owning less.
Provide for Yourself. Have you ever stopped and thought what would happen if you could not go to the store?  Finding ways to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle is a big part of living a simpler life.  Being able to raise your own vegetables, sew your own clothes, conserve your own energy, and bake your own bread are just a few ways to learn to take care of yourself.
Work Hard. Don’t be afraid of hard work and take pride in the work you do. Discover the feeling of satisfaction from putting in a hard day’s work.  Whether you sit at a desk or get your hands dirty every day, do the best job and commend others who do a good job around you.

Be Modest. We all like to look nice and feel good about ourselves, but being obsessed by the latest fashion or spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products will only leave you dissatisfied with your true appearance. When choosing your clothing look for flattering styles that are not too tight, too revealing or too flashy. Wear clothes that are comfortable, while still stylish and presentable. Keep accessories to a minimum and be as true to your natural appearance as possible.
Appreciate the Outdoors. Add some form of outdoor activity to your life every day.  A walk or a stroll through the park, a few minutes pulling weeds or a game of catch are just a few ways to restore your mental health and gain an appreciation of the outside world around us.
Seek Community. Do you know your neighbors? Build relationships with those around you.  Gladly lend tools, trade babysitting, and go out of your way to help in times of need. Many of our neighbors may be lonely and feel isolated, take the time to introduce yourself and be friendly.
Build Family Ties. In today’s modern world broken families are normal, take a stand and stop the cycle. Spend time working on your family!  Make a point to sit down to meals together, reach out to elderly family members, and build simple family traditions.
Rely on God. The most important value we can learn from the Amish is to put our faith in the Lord and remember we are not God’s children only on Sunday’s. As we make an effort to slow down we are able to hear God’s message more clearly.  Whether you are at home, in the car or on the football field, act with compassion, be loving and kind, and put others before yourself.

Changing the way you live starts with YOU!  By making just a few small changes in your life you will soon be slowing down and living a more sustainable life.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

Could you do it?

Live like your great grandmother did on wash day?
I only have one memory of my great grandmother.  It was her standing at an upstairs window watching me play in the yard of my grandmother’s house.  I don’t remember talking to her but I can still see her standing at that window like it was yesterday.

As she was facing the last years of her life, I was a little girl full of life with no cares to what tomorrow would bring. I often wonder what she was thinking as she was watching me play.  Was she reminiscing about a time when she watched her own children play, or was remembering her own childhood?
How often I wish, I had the chance to talk to her.  To hear how she spent her days, what she did to pass the time and what she dreamed of for her children. 
What I am sure of is her days would have been filled with taking care of her home and children. Not so much different than what we do today other than the modern conveniences we’re privy too.
Today as I stared at a mound of laundry I couldn’t help but think how the laundry my great grandmother did would have been so much different than the buttons I push today. 
How spoiled we have become. Before the days of electricity and washing machines, wash day would have been an all day ordeal. It would’ve been filled with multiple tubs of water, scrubbing boards, and handmade soaps. The water would have been hauled from the well and heated over open fires and the chore would have been back breaking, to say the least.
I would love to say I have what it takes to live like my great grandmother did but I’m not sure.
With the trend toward simplicity, many of us are looking for ways to return to our roots and live much like our ancestors did.
Am I ready to give up my washing machine…no, I think not! But I certainly can be a bit more self-sufficient by saving money on our electricity by line drying and relying on an old fashion laundry soap recipes that my great grandmother may have used.
Old Fashion Homemade Laundry Detergent

12 cups Borax 
8 cups baking soda
8 cups washing soda
8 cups finely grated Fels-naptha Soap‎

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub. Use 1/4 cup of powder per full load.
I wonder what she would think if she knew her great granddaughter was inspired to live closer to her style than the one the modern 21-century offered? 
How about you? Could you work as hard and live like your great grandmother did?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

10 Things to Purge – Simplified Living

Something happens to me when the calendar changes and a new year begins.  I get this uncontrollable urge to rid myself of any excess that is lingering around me.

I can walk around my home today and see corners and drawers bursting at the seams just begging me to organize and purge the excess that has found its way into them.
We live in a very small house, and in my quest to keep our lives simple I purge our home a couple times a year. 
So as we embark on the New Year, I am looking forward to digging in and ridding myself of clutter!
Here are my top 1o things I will be purging:

Holiday Decorations – Over the years we have really cut back on what we decorate and how much we actually use.  Before I put the decorations up for a year, I will be sorting and purging many of the things we no longer use or have the desire to display.
Magazines – I used to be a magazine junky…no really I should have gone to a magazine support group because it was painful to give up my addiction. Even though I no longer buy magazines, I have had a hard time letting go of some of my favorite issues.
Sewing Supplies – There are three totes that are taking up space in my closet and are in need some serious purging.
Health & Beauty Supplies – I cannot believe how fast the bathroom cabinets collect stuff!  I have made a goal not to buy one thing new until I have used up, thrown out, or made do with what I already have.
Kitchen Utensils – How many serving spoons does one cook need?  By the looks of my kitchen drawer I think the magic number might be “7”! I know I have never used seven of any one utensil, so my kitchen drawers are first on my purging list.
Cleaning Supplies – We make all of our own cleaning products, but I know lingering in the back of my kitchen cupboards are bottles of store bought cleaners that I will never use again.
Glassware – Every January I purge my home, and every January I have a collection of glasses, mugs, and vases that have found their way into my kitchen. I swear they breed in there!
Books – Very rarely do I buy books, but the ones I do buy at yard sales or the second-hand stores tend to add up by year’s end.  I love taking a collection of books and donating them to the library or to our senior center.
Linens – My linen closet is always a jungle, and I am so happy to be ridding myself of all those extra items that are hanging around in there.  Second-hand stores are always in need of bed linens and towels.
Office Supplies – I tend to collect things that I think I may need, but as I look around I can see what I really need and use is just what is on my desk right now. 

I know it can seem like a big job sorting through everything, but keep in mind that if you have not used it in the last year, chances are you will never use it.
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Old Fashion Thanksgiving – Keeping it Simple

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself wondering how our ancestors celebrated Thanksgiving.
From the beginning of time, Thanksgiving meant food and family. A time to celebrate the summer harvest and prepare for a long winter.  Pantries were full, barns were stocked and families were anxious to sit back and enjoy some time together after a long working summer.

Here on our farm, I like to think we celebrate the same way.  We spend the day together being thankful for the harvest and all the blessing the Lord has given to us throughout the year.
Over the last few years, I have been making Thanksgiving a little more old fashion.  I have been concentrating more on the day and not so much on the activities that surround Thanksgiving.  Long gone are the days of preparing for Black Friday, all day spent watching football, or making a feast only a King’s Court could eat. Now I make sure we put our focus on the simpler side of Thanksgiving…centered around God, nature, and family.
Here are just a few of my old fashion Thanksgiving traditions:

Simple Menu – Thanksgiving dinner does not have to be a feast fit for a King.  I have taken the stress out of dinner by serving the same simple menu for years.  Turkey – Dressing – Mashed Potatoes & Gravy – Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Coleslaw, and Pumpkin & Chocolate Pie.
Centerpiece – The day before Thanksgiving I take a walk around the farm and fill a basket with things I find in nature.  Pinecones, fall leaves, dried grapevines, holly berries, dried corn and anything else I can use in a centerpiece.
A Time for Prayer & Reflection– At the start of our meal a pray of thanks is given. We tell the Thanksgiving story just like we do with the Easter story.

We have nine people in our family so I cut out nine turkeys from construction paper and write one of these key Thanksgiving history points on each. I also use them as name settings, I write each person’s name on the front and write the history point on the back.  After our prayer, we go around the table and read each point in date order.

Turkey #1 – In 1620, the Mayflower came ashore in the New World.
Turkey #2 – In 1621 Thanksgiving was held as a three-day feast to celebrate the first harvest and to thank the local Indians that had helped them to survive their first year in Massachusetts.
Turkey #3 – In 1623, the Plymouth colony had a terrible drought and they prayed for rain. After the rains had come, they celebrated Thanksgiving with a day of prayer.
Turkey #4 – In 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving on June 29, to express their thanks for the good fortune their community had securely established.
Turkey #5 – In 1777, all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving for the first time; however, it was a one-time affair commemorating a victory over the British at Saratoga.
Turkey #6 – In 1789, George Washington proclaimed November 26th to be a national thanksgiving day for adoption of Constitution.
Turkey #7 – In 1846 Sarah Hale begins advocating a national Thanksgiving celebration, believing this spiritual means would unify and preserve the nation.
Turkey #8 – In 1863 President Lincoln, declared the last Thursday of November to be set aside as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise”.
Turkey #9 – In 1941, Congress changed the holiday permanently to the 4th Thursday of November.

Gathering – Thanksgivings of the past did not include TV’s to gather around. Instead families sat around the fire telling stories and sharing laughter. Passing down family stories is becoming a Thanksgiving tradition in our family.
Savor the Moment – As I get older I tend to stop and savor the moments of life more often.  I have found myself more than once sitting at my table surrounded by my children just listening to their voices, watching their faces and catching their smiles.  Thanksgiving is all about being thankful and what a better way than to sit back and savor the moment of a holiday dinner.
Turkey Trot – At the end of the day, and before everyone heads home we take a family walk.  It is the perfect way to tire those little ones out and work off that pie.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?  Do you have any old fashion Thanksgiving traditions?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed
Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark
Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop
with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy
Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-
Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Old Toys From the 70’s for Some Old Fashion Fun

I have been on a quest to get my grandchildren to stop bringing their electronic games to our house when they come for a visit.  It hasn’t been an easy task, but the more we introduce them to some of the games from our childhood the easier it gets.  We didn’t have video games and iPhones to keep us busy when we were growing up, but what we did have was a good imagination and a few toys.

Our grandchildren have learned that the TV rarely comes on at our house, and old fashion fun starts with just a couple old toys from the 70’s. I have been having fun teaching my granddaughters some old time jump rope songs, and our grandson is the winning champ of Connect Four.
Since we live on a farm, and in the country, visits usually are centered on whatever project we are working on, but fun is always included.  A break for a game of Wiffle ball or archery practice is always a big hit for our grandson, and checking on baby bunnies or having a tea party is a show stopper for our granddaughters.
I had so much fun reminiscing with my hubby about all the toys we played with as kids, and even more excited that many of them are still available today! 

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite old toys from the 70’s. 
I found most of them on Amazon and since I like to Christmas shop online and beat the crowds I thought I would share them with my readers.
Here is a list of some of our favorite 70’s toys:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Connect Four
Wiffle Ball & Bat
Jumbo Jacks

Slinky
Green Army Men
Giant Pick Up Sticks

Operation Game
Lincoln Logs
Tiddly Winks

Jacob’s Ladder
Pot Holder Loom
Etch A Sketch

Barrel of Monkey’s
Chinese Checkers
Checkers

Tea Set
Cabbage Patch Doll
Radio Flyer Red Wagon

Pedal Fire Engine
Pink Pedal Car
Banana Seat Bike

 
Did you have a favorite toy for your past? I would love to hear what it was!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Our Back to Basics Living Philosophy

Back To Basics.
Let me tell you a story…
Once upon a time there was a couple who was overwhelmed by consumerism and drowning in debt, doomed to a live a life of unsatisfying purchases and surrounded by like-minded people. As Americans, they gladly followed the crowd to fit in, but behind closed doors they dreamed of a life where how much they made and what brand of clothes they wore didn’t matter.  With one swoop of a for-sale sign, and a business up for auction they traded in a life of possession obsession for a life of personal fulfillment.

Determined to live a life where what we had was more than enough to survive, they sold everything and moved to the country to live on a farm.  Fast forward six years and the “Back to Basics Movement” is in full swing. Who would have ever thought twenty years ago when consumerism was at its highest those same consumer-driven people would now be looking to simplify their lives by living off the land?
By now you probably have realized that this is our story...as pitiful as it sounds it was us drowning in debt and living in a house that was far too big for two people and working long stressful hours just to keep the bills paid.  It wasn’t an easy task to sell everything we had and move to the country, but it was what was needed to keep our sanity.  We can now do more with what we have, and that is the heart of our back to the basics living philosophy.

How has this back to the basics living changed us?

Instead of shopping, we work in the garden.
Instead of looking for things to do on the weekend, we have endless DIY projects that keep us busy.
Instead of dinner and a movie, we have drinks under the stars.
Instead of buying new, we reuse and recycle what we already have.
Instead of looking for money to bring us happiness, we are happy by not spending what we have.
Instead of dreaming of all the places we can go when we retire, we dream of what the fruit trees will produce in ten years.
Before we were empty, now we are fulfilled!

Let me end this by leaving you with one thought that hit us hard many years ago…

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Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Learning to Live on Less

The homesteading movement is taking shape in communities across the country. Many people are being inspired to live a simpler life while learning to be more self-sufficient. Many families are tired of the face-paced lifestyle and are choosing to slow down and learn to live on less.

We are one of those families! For us, it is all about making do with the resources we already have and finding joy in being able to take care of ourselves.   We have trimmed our budget, gone down to one income, consume less and are healthier and happier than we have ever been.
Here are just a few things we did when we made the transition from a consumer-driven lifestyle to the homesteading movement and really got into learning to live on less:

We adopted a DIY lifestyle.
Learning to live on less is figuring out the difference between a want and a need. Before getting into the habit of running to a big box store to buy what we think we need we take a good look at what we have and how we can reuse or recycle what we already own.
We looked for ways we could cut our grocery bill.
This was our biggest source of savings! Once we stopped buying processed food and started cooking from scratch and growing our own food our health improved. We build our menus around what is growing in the garden and what we have canned, preserved, frozen, brewed or fermented. I have gone from going grocery shopping once a week, to once a month, and only buy a few staples we need when they are on sale.
We are no longer house poor.
Choosing to downsize from 2500 sq. ft. to 1200 sq. ft. house has saved us thousands of dollars each year. Gone are the huge energy bills, taxes, and insurance payments. Before we were living way beyond our means and now live in a home, we can afford on just one income.
We use alternative energy.
Our homes heating and cooling costs were one of our major expenses. We do have a heating unit, but the thermostat is kept very low in the winter and high in the summer. We heat with wood in the winter to stay warm and close the blinds in the summer to keep the heat out. Just those couple changes in the way we heat and cool our home keeps our energy bills low.

I was amazed at how just a few changes in how we were living helps us live on less. I can’t imagine what our life would look like now if we were still living in that huge house just fighting every month to make ends meet.
How would your life look if you made a few of the changes above?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
Here is a list of some of our go-to homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
Poly Garden Dump Cart
Aluminum D-grip Handle No. 14 Grain Scoop 

Classic Flower and Vegetable Tiller
Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
Hercules Post Hole Digger 

Husqvarna Gas Powered Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller 
Black & Decker CS1015 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Long Handle Shovel

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Add Some Amish Style to Your Life

Not long ago I had the pleasure of driving on the back roads of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  It was a dirt road lined with grazing sheep, white clapboard houses and laundry lines filled with a rainbow of blues and purples. Void of telephone poles and flashy billboards I felt a sense of peace and serenity.  I parked the car on the side of the road and took in the sights and sounds of the Amish community I was driving through. 

Across the road sat an Amish school house on recess break.  The children didn’t take any mind to me since they were deep in a game of baseball. A horse and buggy passed my way and the older gentleman with a long white beard tipped his hat to me and gave me a warm smile as he passed.  I felt a bit embarrassed just sitting there.  I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on a conversation I wasn’t meant to hear.
My heart ached for what they had.  A simple life far away from high-pressured jobs, traffic jams and busy lives. Did they know that what they had held so much appeal to so many of us?  Did they realize that many of us idolize their lifestyle and yearn to unlock the secrets of their simple existence?
How can a society that moves so fast, have the opportunity to be anything they want to be, go anywhere they desire but still feel so very empty? What is it that we find so fascinating about the Amish?
I have to believe that as life becomes more hectic, we fantasize more and more about a slower, simpler lifestyle.  Life very similar to the way the Amish live.
As I sat there, I was reminded of my own childhood.  I grew up in a small farming community in Pennsylvania surrounded by the Amish and very similar to the one I was visiting that day. While I knew that their lives had hardships and issues just like mine their appeal still had a hold on me.
As I watched the children play, they seemed carefree and innocent. I thought of my own children at that age. Mine had been surrounded by movies and media that I was positive influenced some of their later choices as teenagers. While I am not naive to think those Amish children wouldn’t face some of the same obstacles my kids did I felt a peace knowing their exposure to it would come much later in life.   
I am not sure how long I sat there before I realized their recess was over, and the schoolyard was empty.
My thoughts were filled with how I could take this peaceful feeling I had all the way back to South Carolina with me.  I couldn’t help to think about how hard my husband and I had worked to slow down and push the stress from our lives, but I still felt the pressure of living in the 21st century. As I started the car and pulled back out on the road, and it wasn’t long before I began to think about more ways we could simplify our lives.  I had worked and lived around many Amish communities and I knew that their day-to-day lives depended on their faith in God and how they strived to incorporate love and grace in everything they did.  From their work ethic, commitment to community, strong family ties, and most of all to their faithfulness to God it was a lifestyle so many of us are drawn too. What I soon realized was that those were things I already had, and it wouldn’t take me becoming Amish to experience the same sense of peace I thought only they could possess.
Before I left the backroads and continued my trip back to South Carolina, I pulled over one more time to enjoy the view. The home in front of me was a massive white house surrounded by beautiful gardens and pastures for a picture postcard scene.  An older woman was sitting on the porch shucking what looked like a bucket of peas, two children were pulling weeds in the garden, a girl was hanging a basket of clothes, while a boy was pushing a lawn mower across the front yard.  There was a homemade sign at the end of the driveway announcing they had fresh brown eggs and raw honey for sale, and I couldn’t help but smile at the realization I had just had.
It was like God was showing me he had already given me what I yearned for I just needed to look at my own life and reclaim it.
I waved at the woman on the porch as I pulled away.  With a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I looked in my rear view mirror for one last look at a little piece of heaven I thought I could only find on the backroads of Pennsylvania.
As I pulled onto the interstate, I couldn’t help but think of the scene I had just witnessed. All this time I felt I was missing what they had but in all reality I had it I just wasn’t appreciating it.  I couldn’t wait to get home to pick green beans, to hang the laundry, to feed the chickens and gather eggs, and to see if honey needed to be pulled from the hive, but most of all to see my children, and to check on a friend from church who was ill.
I also knew while my work keeps me tied to my high-tech devices I know at the end of the day I can close my laptop and escape into my own simple life separate from the face-paced life that surrounds me. 
I learned a lot in those few hours I spent driving through that Amish settlement and while I knew the life God provided for me was different than that of my Amish friends I learned I needed to embrace my life…even if it I choose to do so with a little Amish style.
One of my favorite books by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Affiliate Link)
Years ago I bought an Ohio Holmes County Calendar and on the inside cover this was written.  I have saved it all these years and pulled it out as soon as I return home.

 If  you would like to live more like the Amish — so if you admire their faith — strengthen yours.

If you admire their sense of commitment — deepen yours.

If you admire their sense of community spirit — build one.

If you admire their quality merchandise — make quality.

If you admire their humility — be humble.

If you admire their unselfishness — put others first.

If you admire their honesty — be honest.

If you admire their willingness to help those in need — help the needy.

If you admire their land stewardship — take care of yours.

If you admire their deep character and enduring values — live them.”

After I wrote about my trip through this Amish community, I keep going back to this post and re-reading it.  I don’t want to ever forget how I felt being there and the realization I had that God had given me what I yearned for I just need to open my eyes and see it!

 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Model Yourself After the Amish – Separate from the World

You may have witnessed yourself how the Amish place a great deal of emphasis on being different from the world around them.  They dress different, act different, talk different and take pride in keeping to themselves separate from the world. They keep society at arm’s length and seek to separate themselves from anything they feel would threaten their faith. While they know they have to live in the world they strive to not live of it.  Meaning they don’t let the influence of the world control or dictate how they should live.  Anything that would threaten the purity of their church or community is rejected as too worldly.

As a non-Amish Christian you may think there is no way you could live and model yourself after the Amish. I am here to show you that even in our very modern world we too can separate ourselves from the world just enough to keep us grounded to a simpler way of life.
Living a simple life can be challenging at times and it may go against everything you have been taught to value in life.  Living separately from society in order to remain true to your desires does not come without a few sacrifices, but it does get easier as you go. 
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you start working toward living a simpler life separate from the world:

What do you want your life to look like? – If you’re dreaming of a world void of noise and distraction the first place to start is to turn the noise off. Start right now…find the remote and turn the TV off. You will be surprised at how much calmer your house is when the constant stimulation of the TV is gone. Open the windows and listen to the world around you.
What changes do you desire? – Is your life full of crazy schedules? Learning to say no and prioritizing the things that matter most is a huge step in separating yourself from the world.  You don’t need to serve on every committee and your children don’t need to play every sport. What we all need is to view our family like the Amish do.  They work, play and worship together every day and they don’t need extra activities to fill their days.
What do you spend the most time doing in a day? – Do you dream of a clean house, manicured the lawn, happy kids and a peaceful life? The modern world has spoiled us!  We know we can throw a load of clothes in the dryer, dishes in the dishwasher, take our clothes to the cleaners to be pressed and hire someone to mow our lawn, but we can’t hire someone to find us the peace we all desire.  The Amish work hard and put in a full day’s work.  Do you often wonder how they do it?  They do it by not having their nose glued to a TV, computer or phone.  They take pride in taking care of their families and don’t spend idle time on things that don’t add value to their family or community.
Can you accept being different? – Can you live like the Amish?  Most of us cannot! But we can start to turn our backs on some of the things that were designed to make our lives fuller and it’s those things that are pulling us away from our families we hold dear.

If you’re struggling to find balance between peaceful living and modern life take the time to evaluate your surroundings.  Close your eyes and imagine what you want your life to look like. If its peace you’re after then rid yourself of the distractions that are keeping you from obtaining it.  If your family unit is struggling stand back and start eliminating the extra activities that are keeping you from being a family unit.  Taking pride in being able to take care of your families needs, with your own two hands, in a big step in learning to separate yourself from the outside world. 
Limit your daily electronic time to five or ten minutes, hand wash your dishes, iron your own clothes, take pride in how your house looks, talk to your kids instead of putting on a movie for them, learn to cook, plant a garden, hang your clothes out to dry or even walk and visit with a neighbor face-to-face. You will be surprised at how just a few of these little things will help you connect with a simpler way of life.
 Please remember that every day is a clean slate, one that you can mold and shape into anything your heart desire one day at a time.
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some? —————————— [GARD align=”center”]        

Here is a list of some of my favorite canning supplies:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

 Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, 21.5-Quart
 7 Piece Home Canning Set
 Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving 

 Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
 Ball 8-Ounce Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands
 Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands

 Tattler Reusable Wide Mouth Canning Lids & Rubber Rings
 Grips Food Mill
 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

30 Self-Sufficient Lifestyle Goals

Have you been dreaming of creating more self-sufficient lifestyle goals for you and your family?
Is your dream to leave the rat-race behind and learn how to be more responsible for your own the well-being?

If so, I am here to tell you it is possible to achieve your dreams!
There is no particular guide I can give you to become more self-sufficient, but if you change your mindset and start tackling some of these steps you to can be well on your way to a simpler, healthier lifestyle.
So what does self-sufficient mean? It’s all about learning how to provide for our own needs. It means taking on a spirit of independence and to become passionate about the life you live.
I know from past experiences deciding where to start on this journey can be overwhelming. You may think that you need to live in the country to live a simpler life, but in all reality you can live and work anywhere …it’s all a state-of-mind. One of the most difficult aspects of learning to be more sufficient is changing the way you think about how you spend your money, where your food comes from and how to reuse and recycle.
Making the decision to turn your back on the technology-laden environment we live and embrace a simpler way of life is as easy as putting some of the following 30 self-sufficient lifestyle  goals in place:

Review the power usage of your home.

Replace light bulbs with energy-saving ones.
Unplug anything that is not currently in use.
Close doors to rooms, not in use to conserve energy.
Replace electric clocks with wind up ones.

Start line-drying your laundry.
Plant raised beds or container gardens.
Learn to compost and add great nutrients to your gardens.
Learn to cook wholesome old-fashion meals.
Learn to make your own cleaning supplies.
Learn to can in-season fruits and vegetables.
Downsize – Take a good look at your home to determine if downsizing is an option.
Less is more – There is something about purging all the stuff you collect over the years…it’s liberating! 
Know where your food comes from.
Learn the benefits of herbs for medicinal purposes.
Understand the difference between a need and want.
Cut out our cable. Netflix is an inexpensive alternative for a fraction of the cost.
Shop at second-hand stores.
Stop buying paper products. -Look at the money you waste each week on paper towels, tissues and napkins.  Those paper items can be replaced with old rags.
Recycle, Reuse, Make Do
Eat Seasonally – Buying out of season fruits and vegetables is very costly. Plan your meals around what is fresh and in-season.
Watch for sales and only buy items when they go on sale.
Shop at stores that offer volume discounts and those that are typically cheaper.
Stop using your dishwasher.
Plan your meals ahead and don’t rely on your microwave or prepacked foods.
Naturally dry your hair.
Go to bed when the sun goes down and gets up when the sun comes up.
Find an alternative heat source. Wood, solar or wind power.
Stock your pantry with staples and home canned goods.
Collect and use rainwater to water gardens.
Become your own handyman Learn to repair things around your home as well as basic car maintenance and repair.
Use a push mower instead of a gas or electric mower.
Learn to Sew, Knit or – These are all excellent skills to have, if not necessary skills for a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Set one day a week as a technology free day.  

Take back control of your life and set your mind to applying some or all of these tips to your life.
If you need some motivation, I encourage you to connect with like-minded people. Making friends with people who are looking for the same kind of changes will make your transition into this type of lifestyle easier. Take classes, join online forms, search Facebook groups on homesteading or living simple, and step outside your comfort zone and connect with people in your own community.

Old Fashion Jump Rope Songs – Memories from the past!

Jump-Rope Rhymes
One of my first memories of singing jump rope songs were in elementary school jumping rope to “Down in the valley where the green grass grows there sat Tracy sweet as a rose…” 

What I also remember is my white knee high socks falling down and being so mad at them I took them off and jumped rope in my bare feet.  When recess was over, I got in trouble for taking my shoes off and got a note sent home to my mother. Oh…the simple days of jumping rope and recess!
This past weekend I had my granddaughters, and I was trying to teach them to play jump-rope.  I was also teaching them some of those old-time favorite jumping songs.  I had to look a few of them up, but they came right back to me, and it took me back to 1970. 
I sure hope the young girls of today find as much joy in a simple game of jump rope as I did was when I was a child.  If you have little ones in your life, please take a moment to teach them some of these old fashion jump rope songs, you will be making wonderful memories for them!
Johnny gave me apples,
Johnny gave me pears.
Johnny gave me fifty cents
To kiss him on the stairs.
I gave him back his apples,
I gave him back his pears.
I gave him back his fifty cents
And kicked him down the stairs.
Laura and David
Sitting in a tree,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love,
Then comes marriage
Then comes Laura
With a baby carriage.
Down in the valley
Where the green grass grows,
There sat Tracy Sweet as a rose.
She sang, she sang,
She sang so sweet.
Along came Craig
And kissed her cheek.
How many kisses did he give her?
One, two, three, tour, five…

I went upstairs to make my bed.
I made a mistake and bumped my head.
I went downstairs to milk my cow.
I made a mistake and milked a sow.
I went in the kitchen to bake a pie.
I made a mistake and baked a fly.
I love coffee.
I love tea.
I love boys.
And the boys love me.
Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow.
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five…
Do you have a favorite that you remember?  Please share it with us, and maybe we can pass on this old time favorite game to some young children of today!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.
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Here is a list of some of our favorite 70’s toys:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Connect Four
Wiffle Ball & Bat
Jumbo Jacks

Slinky
Green Army Men
Giant Pick Up Sticks

Operation Game
Lincoln Logs
Tiddly Winks

Jacob’s Ladder
Pot Holder Loom
Etch A Sketch

Barrel of Monkey’s
Chinese Checkers
Checkers

Tea Set
Cabbage Patch Doll
Radio Flyer Red Wagon

Pedal Fire Engine
Pink Pedal Car
Banana Seat Bike

 
 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Do you have a Homesteader’s Heart?

The homesteading movement is spreading across the country at lighting speed. Families are looking for ways to live on less, be more self-sufficient, and are changing the way they look at how they live.

Modern homesteaders come in many forms. From urban dwellers to ranchers, but the one thing they all have in common is their desire to live a homesteading lifestyle.
Today’s Homestead is not all about farming, as much as it is learning to be more self-sufficient. That can be defined in many ways.
Some families are supplementing their food supply with backyard gardens, while others are growing crops to share, sell and barter. Some buy produce from local farmers markets and some raise livestock. Many are canners, sewer s bakers, builders, homeschoolers and farmers. But many are bankers, teachers and factory workers. But what they all are, are people who strive to doing as much as they can with their own two hands. They tend the ground they live on, look for ways to reuse, recycle and make do, and they respect old-fashion skills handed down by their forefathers.
There is a common creed that all homesteaders live by no matter where they live or what profession they work. The creed that many use to define a homesteader’s heart.
The Homesteader’s Heart Creed

Although there are not any established set of rules for homesteading. The one thing we all can count on is homesteaders across the country care about living an authentic homesteading lifestyle, not complicated by today’s fast-paced, technology laden lifestyle.
Do you have a homesteader’s heart?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Here is a list of some of our go-to homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
Poly Garden Dump Cart
Aluminum D-grip Handle No. 14 Grain Scoop 

Classic Flower and Vegetable Tiller
Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
Hercules Post Hole Digger 

Husqvarna Gas Powered Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller 
Black & Decker CS1015 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Long Handle Shovel

Food Independence – What My Parents Taught Me

I remember as a child my parents didn’t have extra money for new shoes or the new Barbie doll I just thought I needed, but I don’t ever remember feeling hungry.  My belly was always full and our cupboards were always stocked.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood that my parents knew the secret behind “food independence.”  My parents grew up in the era where providing food for your family was an everyday occurrence…not one that could be fulfilled by running to the grocery store.
I was born in 1962 and raised on a small farm in rural Northwest Pennsylvania.  I was born at the onset of fast food and prepackaged meals, but it was way into the 70’s before I ever saw my first TV dinner.  For us, supper always consisted of meat, potatoes, bread and butter, and a vegetable.  Once in a while Mom would surprise us with a big pot of pasta, but for the most part every meal was grown, canned and frozen right from the fields that surrounded our farm. Saturday night always meant a big bowl of popcorn that we husked ourselves and Sunday always meant roasted chicken and dessert.  To this day roasted chicken reminds me of my mother in the kitchen with her apron on.
 There were four of us kids, plus Mom and Dad so there were always plenty of hands to pull weeds, peel potatoes, feed animals, chop wood and gather eggs.  Our farm was not big, but there were always chickens, geese and ducks running around, cows in the pasture and pigs in the barn. We grew sweet corn, picked apples and plums off the trees in our yard and forged the woods for wild blackberries and strawberries every year.
I can’t remember having store bought vegetables in the house since we always ate what was in season.  Spring greens and fresh radishes in the spring, new potatoes and peas in late spring, sweet corn and fresh tomatoes in the summer and pumpkin pies and acorn squash smothered in butter and brown sugar in the fall.  A smorgasbord of wonderful flavors to look forward to every year.
Every fall Mom would scour the garden for the last of the green tomatoes and apples from the trees to make her famous mincemeat pie filling.  I don’t like mincemeat, but I can still remember the wonderful aromas that filled the kitchen when she made it.
Fall also meant Dad would have grapes fermenting into sweet grape wine.  It wasn’t until I was an adult before I could enjoy the sweet flavor of those fall grapes, but I vividly remember him and his friends enjoying it quite often sitting around the kitchen table.
My parents no longer plant a garden and rely on my brother to share his garden with them, but they still live in the same house and they still know the importance of food independence.  I never have to worry about my parents going hungry.  Their pantry is still always stocked and they always have plenty when any of us kids stop by. 
I am very thankful my father taught me how to garden and my mother taught me how to can…where would I be today without these basic skills? 
Oh that’s right...I would be relying on the grocery store and not striving for food independence.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

On a Quest for a Simpler Life

I remember the moment like it was yesterday…

My husband and I were in our office, the phones were ringing, his beeper was buzzing, there was a client waiting downstairs, and our assistant had just called off. I looked up from a stack of invoices as he handed me a flyer.  All he said as he turned to leave was “This is where I want to be.” His eyes were sad and his voice cracked.  In seven words my otherwise strong and in control husband told me he quit. As I looked down at the flyer, I saw nothing but a red tractor parked in a field. It was an advertisement for a tractor company and it spoke loud and clear to where my husband’s heart wanted to be. Anywhere but in the concrete jungle, we were calling home.
That seems like a lifetime ago, but it was the beginning of a new life for us. It was the start of our quest to a simpler life. It was time to leave the city and follow our dreams. At first, it was hard to slow down after spending so many years living a stressful lifestyle. But we made it work by applying some basic simple living principles.

Living in the country and owning a tractor may not be your dream, but whatever it is that’s inspiring you, try to apply some of these techniques:

Make your lifestyle a priority– We knew we wanted to live in the country, grow vegetables, raise animals and be self-sufficient.  We wanted to re-live our childhood by smelling hay, gathering eggs and having a pantry full of home-canned food. Determine the lifestyle you want and make it a priority!
Slow down and enjoy every task – A big part of living simple is slowing down, which can be a real challenge for a society that is consumer driven by the fastest, newest, and next best thing.  Whether it’s cleaning a chicken coop or building a fence, we try hard to enjoy the task at hand.  We work hard and laugh often.
Know what’s important – For us, there was nothing that could hold us back from living our dream. For our sanity, we knew we had to change, to get back to our roots and build a life in the country.  It didn’t come easy, but through hard work and determination we accomplished our life-long goal.  Figure out what’s important to you and let nothing stand in your way!
Connect with nature – It’s so natural to feel the dirt between your fingers and the sun on your face. One of the first steps to living a simpler life is allowing the wonders of nature to connect with your soul.  Take a walk, plant a flower, listen to the birds and you’ll be amazed at its calming effect on your personal well-being.
Make the most of today – Stop worrying about tomorrow and live for the day. Moving to the country far away from the hustle of the city made us realize that our time here on earth is short and made us want to live each day to its fullest.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, stop and make a list of goals.

You don’t need to change your address or move to the country to live a simple life.  All you need is to learn to slow down, turn your back on consumerism, make time to enjoy nature and make the most of every day.  Life is not a race. Simple living is only a few steps away, so take yours today!

 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Stressed? – 6 Ways to Add Peace to Your Life

We have all been there! Stressed, overwhelmed and that horrible feeling that our life is spinning out of control!

I don’t know about you, but I was on a fast moving train ready to crash six years ago.  I have since jumped off and have learned and adopted some basic simple living principles that I practice every day.
One of the first things I did was take a good look at my home. I tried to create a simple space that was devoid of clutter and distractions. By taking on the modest living approach I have pared down our belongs to only those things that serve a purpose and don’t clutter my environment.
It has taken me some time to feel like I have actually made some progress and now as I look back I can contribute my peacefulness to a few life changing aspects.
Here are six ways I have added peace to my life:

Simplicity – Learning to live on less.  For me, it meant passing on collections of things that just took up space.  Things I had to clean, store, move and really added no value to my life. It was learning the difference between a want and a need and how to live on just one income.
Silence – Reducing the noise in your life by turning off sound in your home.  I have found that we enjoy the peacefulness of a quiet house so much more now.  When the TV or radio is on the hum of all that background noise distracts me from enjoying the companionship of my family.  Now when someone talks we truly listen.
Solitude – Find a space that is only yours.  For me, it is a daybed in our spare room.  It is my space to unwind with a good book, meditate, or to take an afternoon nap.  The space is airy, bright and comfortable.  I have my favorite quilt and comfy pillows always waiting and ready for some “me” time.
Cleanliness – Keeping your home clean is the best stress reliever I know.  For me, I have a hard time relaxing if I know there is cleaning to be done.  I spend just 30 minutes every day keeping my home tidy, and by doing so I know that I can relax and enjoy my day in my surroundings.
Finding YOU – What is it that makes your heart sing?  Is it knitting or quilting?  Maybe it is woodworking or reading.  Whatever it is that you enjoy, find time each and every day to indulge yourself in YOUR happiness.
Slowness – Learning to slow your life down can be a real challenge in this fast-paced world we live in.  However, if you take just a few minutes every day to enjoy something at a slower pace the stress of the day will go away.  Enjoy a quiet walk around the block before you pick up the kids from school, park far away from the store entrance and enjoy a walk through the parking lot.  Wash your dishes instead of using the dishwasher.  Stop and marvel at the birds in your bird feeder longer or take your coffee outside to enjoy.

Slowing down and finding ways to add peace to your life is all about embracing the glory that surrounds you.  Look for ways you can incorporate simplicity in your life and rid yourself of the un-do stress.
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Get Started Living a Simple Life

Simple living comes in many forms, but for us it means relying on ourselves to live efficiently, peacefully and humbly according to God. 

Hubby and I spent a day chopping and stacking firewood last week, and while we were working quietly together I got to thinking about how our lives have changed. 
Just six short years ago we were running the same rat race many Americans are today.  We were working 60 hour weeks, trying to pay for things we didn’t need.  A big house, too many cars, and large credit card debt resulting from the must-have mentality we were living by.
Was it easy to break the cycle?  You bet it was and it didn’t come without sacrifices along the way.  Gone are the days of designer clothes, expensive dinners, and long vacations. Now our life consists of home-cooked meals, a full pantry, farm chores, budgets and a never ending to-do list. But, most of all it comes with an overwhelming sense of peace.
Just knowing that we can take care of ourselves means more to us than anything we could ever buy.  To know we can raise our own meat, stock our own pantry, eat our own farm raised eggs, reuse and recycle everything we possibly can, and even make our own forms of entertainment is a dream come true.

Living a simple life came easy to us since we both wanted it so badly and most of all we wanted to take back control of our lives.
I remember in the very beginning we had to start small.  We had to find ways we could simplify our lives while we looked for a way to change them in bigger ways.
Here are a few things we did to get started living a simple life:

We changed our mindset. – We were stuck thinking that the only way we could live simple was to move to the country.  But, what we realized is we could live simple by just making a few small changes in our everyday life.
We stopped relying on Walmart to provide for our everyday needs. – We started small….I learned to make bread and homemade cleaning supplies.
We gave up boxed foods. – By learning to cook at home we broke away from the prepackaged, unhealthy foods, and made the switch to good wholesome real food. While I was still working I, utilized my crock-pot and planned ahead to stop the ready-made food crutch we were on.
We learned where our food came from. – We started shopping weekly farm stands and farmers markets. We got to know the farmers and produce growers in our area and started buyimg from them.
Learned the difference between a want and a need. – One of the biggest hurdles for us was knowing when to tell ourselves NO. We were so used to buying whatever we wanted whenever we thought we needed it.  In most cases that led us to charging items we thought we couldn’t live without.
We took inventory. – We stopped and took a good look at our life.  We needed to determine what areas we had lost control of.  For us it was our work schedules and spending habits. Once we figured out those specific areas, we went to work creating a simple plan to tackle them.

Your list may look different, but please know that life is what you make of it. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in the country you can find a balance in your life by learning to take care of yourselves and stop rely on others to take care of you.
If all the big box stores closed tomorrow, could you provide the basic needs for your family?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

The first steps to living a simple life

Steps to living simple.
Does your quest to live a simple life seem like a dream, a task unattainable without a sacrifice, a hard to reach a goal or life only others achieve?

It doesn’t have to be any of the above. I have learned that living a simple life comes from within, it is a feeling, a thought, a dream acted out, and it all started with me! I had to change my mindset and the way I look at life and when I did I could take the first steps to living a simple life.

Tweet this: Simply living and living simple are two different things!

Simply living is going from one day to the next with no purpose, no dreams, and no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring.
Living simple is learning how to take care of yourself; it is knowing that whatever tomorrow brings you will handle it with grace and humility, and it means that you can live on less and be happy about it.

Don’t wait for that perfect moment, start today, right now, where ever you are!
Step #1 – Write it down.
• Take out a blank piece of paper and pen.
• Turn off all distractions.
• Take a deep breath and feel the peace of the quiet moment.
• Close your eyes and picture what you want your life to look like.
• Open your eyes and write down what you saw.
Step #2 – What did you come up with?
• Is it spending more time with your family?
• Is it living a stress free life?
• Is it feeling more organized and productive?
• Is it getting out of debt?
• Is it being more self-sufficient?
• Or is it a combination of many things?
The first steps to living a simple life starts with you and your first step started right here, right now! It does not have to happen all at once! Take it one step at a time and learn that no one is going to do it for you, but it is going to take you to start. What does your simple living dreams look like?
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Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

The Frugal Reward of Living Simple

Frugal Rewards.
I never dreamed that our years of living frugally and downsizing would bring us so many rewards, but it has!  The frugal reward of living a simpler life can be seen in our faces every day.
I wake up with a smile on my face looking forward to the day and my hubby hops out of bed anxious to go to a job he loves.  Believe me, that was not us a few years ago when we were trapped in a consumerism lifestyle that was draining the life out of the both of us.
Cutting back and learning to live with less was contagious, so much so that the more we cut back, the more we gained in peace-of-mind.
[GARD align=”center”]
Our rewards may be different than yours, but here is a list of the things we feel we gained by changing our life:

We  appreciate the beauty around us. – Living in the country changes a person. It makes you aware of the little things in life like a hummingbird or the site of a new litter of rabbits.
It made us better problem solvers. – When we lived in the city the big box store was in our backyard so being creative was never an option we would just go to the store and buy what we needed.  Now we re-use and make do with what we have first, and going to the store is the last result or in most cases we do without.
We are always busy. – We  never have a problem with insomnia since the to-do list is never-ending.  There is something wonderful about going to bed dog-tired,  it makes us feel like we have accomplished an honest days work. Gone are the days filled with endless phone calls, emails and clients.  Now they are filled with shovels, tractors and feed bags.
No more stressful days. – Don’t get me wrong, stress still does try to sneak its way into our life, but now we choose what we allow to creep in and  what we turn away. It is much easier to walk away from a stubborn pig then it is a stubborn co-worker.
We downsized to  simple.  – When we left that big house in the city, we also left hordes of things that had no use or sentimental value to us. Whatever is in our house now has to serve a purpose or it doesn’t stay. We have a true sense of freedom from owning less. I think they call it minimalistic living…we just call it life!
Focus. – I am the first one to admit I get overwhelmed quickly, but  once we moved to the country I became calmer and more focused.
We are healthier. – We long ago gave up rush-hour traffic; store bought cleaners and hormone-laden meats for clean country air;  all-natural cleaners and farm raised meat and vegetables.
We spend less. – Other than the cost of setting up our homestead we live on very little.  We raise much of our food, use recycled items and do not rely on credit.

Living simple is not for everyone, but the frugal rewards we get everyday is such a blessing to us. 

Now we do what we want rather than what we have to do…that is our reward!
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Here is a list of some of our favorite Homesteading Tools and Resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Finding Your Simple

Making a conscious decision to live a simpler life is half the battle.  Making it actually happen is the real challenge.

Call it the latest fad or the newest lifestyle, but whatever it is people are taking major steps to simplify their lives.  They are learning to live on less, finding ways to be more self-sufficient, but most of all they are changing their mindset.
Gone are the days of trying to keep up with the Jones’, now people are looking for ways to de-commercialize their lives and reconnect with their families
Anytime you make changes to your lifestyle you will need to overcome obstacles. Some you will conquer and some you will fail at, but the key is recognizing the signs and being prepared for the battle.
 Here are just a few you may encounter:

Temptation – Watch out because the marketing world is your worst enemy. You are bombarded with countless marketing ads each and every day.  Commercials for the fastest cars, the newest technology, the best gadget, or the latest must-have item clutter you mind every day.  Falling prey to consumerism is one of the hardest battles to win.

Solution: Tune out these distractions.  Turn off the TV and radio and block commercials from your life and if you must watch TV rent movies with no commercials and listen to music channels that have no ads.

Find Simple – Having a simple mindset is not about changing your life drastically in one day.  It is all about finding a simple balance to managing the things you allow in your life. From possessions to activities, it is all about evaluating those things that are necessary and cutting out the things that clutter your life.

Solution: Stand back and take a good look at the things that surround you.  Do you need to belong to three organization or can you cut down to just your favorite one.  Do you need ten pairs of shoes when you can only wear one at a time? Make room for what really matters in your life and cut out the rest.

Find Happy – Learning to appreciate the simple things in life is the start to having a simple mindset. Coming to the realization that your happiness stems from the people in your life and not your material possessions is the biggest challenge.

Solution: Take the time to build and nurture your relationships. Spend quality time listening to your children, call your mother and develop friendships based on mutual interests. Learn to find your happy in people and not material objects.

Changing your mindset to a simpler way of thinking takes practice. It’s applying small changes to your everyday life that will make the biggest difference. Little things, like choosing to turn off the TV and picking up the phone to call your mother, to laying your cell phone down and having a conversation with your child will help you change the way you think about life.
Making these few changes by prioritizing what is truly valuable to you is the easiest way to finding your simple.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
Here is a list of some of our favorite homesteading tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

5 Simple Steps to Simple Living

While living in a modern world I often feel pulled by my reliance on modern technology and appliances.  No matter how hard I try to do without many of the conveniences that surround me, I still find myself drawn to so many things.  Things that I don’t need or desire in my life.  Things that cloud my vision, add noise to my life, and force me to drown out hearing the voice of God.

Over the years I have learned to do without so many things, I would consider myself an expert in living a simple life, but lately I have found noise edging its way back in. I had to stop and take a good look at my life and I’ve found five things I could do to bring the simple back into my life.

5 Simple Steps to Simple Living:

Keep the house quiet. – Often the noise and stress we allow in our lives comes from constant stimulation to our brain.  The noise of a TV or radio adds clutter to my world and is the one thing I have complete control over.
Good old-fashion hard work. – There is nothing as satisfy to my soul as a few hours spent working in the garden.  The sound of the birds and the feel of the sun on my back bring joy to my life.
Staying organized. – There are days when my to-do-list overwhelms me. I have started making a list on Monday of the things I need to do that week and then I assign a day next to the list item.  Even though my list is long, I know I only need to complete the couple things for that particular day. It has been liberating to cross off items and see the list completed by Friday.
Say no. – I cannot stress enough how important learning to say no is!  Prioritizing what is most important and saying no to the rest is the only way I keep my life sane.
Use your hands. – From hand washing dishes, to kneading bread I concentrate on doing things the old-fashion way.  Anytime I can use my hands to complete a job that typically I would use an appliance for I feel in touch with my inner self and it gives me time to enjoy the job at hand.

If you struggle like me to keep the influences of the modern world from invading your life I encourage you to step back and prioritize your life.  Find the things that make you happy and keep you grounded in a simple life.  For me it is little things, like hanging clothes, canning, spinning fiber, baking bread, and weeding the garden, but most of all I work in enough time to stop and enjoy life.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Are you new to canning or just want to learn how you can save money and preserve your own food? I highly recommend At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond.

Click here to visit At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond.

Basic Homesteading Skills to Teach Your Children

Children are our future and the homesteading skills they learn from you will help them face the future as we see it. 

More and more generations are turning back to the skills they learned as children to help them escape the face-paced crazy lifestyle that surrounds them.
I know for a fact, I ran back to the farming and homemaking skills my parents taught me when the world around me was closing in.   I am thankful for those skills and hope I can pass them on to my children and grandchildren.
Forty years ago when my mother was making me cook dinner and do laundry all I could think of was wanting to go out and play, but she knew that the skills she taught me then were the skills that would carry me through life. 

I made it a point to make sure my children had known some very basic homesteading and homemaking skills before I sent them off into the world.  As parents we are never sure we have done the right thing or wished we would have done things different, but the skills I made sure my children learned was one of the things I know I did right.
Make it your goal to teach some basic homesteading skills to your children while they are young and still eager to learn:
For all young girls and boys:

Sewing/Crocheting/Knitting

Start off simple and small.  Find a fun project that your little girl will love to make.  I started my granddaughter off with a simple square quilted baby blanket for her doll crib. It taught her how to cut fabric, to use a sewing machine and how to match colors.

Laundry/Sorting/Ironing/Stain Removal/Drying

Even children as young as 5 can start sorting laundry.  Teaching them how to sort clothes into piles is the first place to start. Teach them how to separate the whites from the colored clothes and the towels from the jeans.  My three-year old granddaughter can fold clothes better than me at times and loves sharing that job with me. 

Cooking/Baking/Meal Planning/Preserving/Reading Recipes

My ten-year-old grandson just got his first kids cookbook and loves to make dinner for his parents.  He is now inspiring to be a famous chef.

Cleaning/Schedules/Bed Making/Organizing/All-natural Cleaners

One of the first cleaning lessons a child learns is to clean their rooms. Take the time to show them a few times the correct way to clean a room.  Help them learn how to organize their toys and make their beds.  These very early lessons will be the lessons that carry them through a lifetime of living.

Gardening/Herbs/Flowers/Lawn Care

Children love to be outside, so make gardening a family affair.  Teach them to tell the difference between a weed and a plant, help them learn where their food comes from and teach them ways they can feed their families by learning how to plant a garden.

Wood/Chopping/Splitting/Fire Starting

Young children may not be able to chop wood, but as they get older, especially boys should all know the basic skills needed to provide warmth for their family. Young children can learn to stack and haul wood…even if its one piece at a time.

Hunting & Fishing/Gun Safety/Woods Survival/Butchering

From an early age, our children and grandchildren have been subjected to chicken butchering, fish cleaning, and hunting safety. Learning early on that every animal on the farm is here for a purpose helps them understand where their food comes from and they respect the life cycle.  Basic small animal butchering was started at the early age of six or seven. 

Basic Animal Husbandry

Even family pets fall under this heading.  Children that learn from an early age what it means to raise an animal will most likely grow up being very capable of raising other types of animals.  Feeding, watering and cleaning up after an animal is a task even the youngest of children can learn.  As they get older allowing them to raise rabbits of chickens teaches them responsibility and helps provide for their families basic needs.

Hand Tools/Basic Maintenance

All children should be taught how to use basic hand tools.  One of the greatest saying my husband taught all of our children was “Righty Tighty…Lefty Lucy”…to this day I can still hear them sing that little tune when trying to unscrew or tighten things with threads. Changing batteries in their toys or learning to use a hammer by building their first project is a great way to start.

Are there any homesteading skills you can add to this list?  I would love to hear what skills you feel are important to teach young children.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

A day in the life of a homesteader

We love living in the country, on our little homestead, living as close to the land as our ancestors did. Sure, we have electricity, running water and most modern conveniences but we still work the land, tend to our livestock and grow most of our own food. 

 
Homesteading can be much work, but when it comes to the end of the day and you are bone tired you feel good knowing you have put in a good wholesome days work. 
Here is peek into a day in our life as homesteaders.

Our day started with Henry our rooster meeting us at the door for his morning treat. 

Morning chores start with feeding and watering our meat rabbits.

Bacon and ham were waiting for breakfast.

The pig pen was in need of a good cleaning.

A walk through the fields to check on the corn crop.

 The meat chickens were all fed and watered for the day.

The hen house was full of the morning layers.

A couple loads of laundry made it to the line to dry in the bright sunshine.

A nice walk through the woods to check on the back deer plot.

Seedlings started to replace some we lost due to cold weather.

I took some time to stop and enjoy the butterflies that were taking advantage of some spring flowers.

 Checked on the bee hives and are happy to see them bringing pollen back to the hives.

Trimmed old stocks out of the blackberry patches.

Made a batch of strawberry jam.

 Baked a chocolate cake for dinner.

Strung up the peas in the garden.

Planted a second harvest of corn.

Had a special visit from our granddaughter and she got to do her favorite job…gather eggs.

She even got to help with evening chores.

From our homestead to yours…enjoy your life whereever you live.
 
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Here is a list of some of our favorite Homesteading Tools and Resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

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Homesteading

The cost of setting up a homestead

The Cost of Homesteading.
I wish I could say that homesteading is an inexpensive way to live, but in all reality the initial start-up costs can be very expensive, but the reward is by far the most satisfying thing we have ever done!

We had a dream to move to the country and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle for many years before it actually happened.  We had to sacrifice our living conditions and alter our dream many times along the way.  I do not want to discourage anyone from following their homesteading dreams, but I do want to write this post in a very open and honest manner so you know what to expect.
I know it is not socially acceptable to talk about how much things cost or how much we spend, but I do want to give an accurate look into the cost of setting up a homestead.  If I am going against what is acceptable in your eyes, and you have no desire to know these things, please stop reading here.
What we have learned in the last few years is that whatever we purchase ends up paying for itself in the long run. We do not have large savings to go out and buy whatever we need, and we make our purchases slowly over time. Larger items are saved for or bought with overtime hour money.  Smaller items are purchased paycheck-by-paycheck depending on what we can afford at the time.  Any livestock feed is figured into our monthly budget, and we do not raise more animals then we can afford to take care at anyone time.  The same goes for building our homestead; any improvements made are done piece-by-piece, one paycheck at a time.  
Here is a breakdown of what we have spent, and the joy it brings us each and every day:
HOMESTEADING

Land – 21 country acres.We live 30 minutes from the nearest town.

$66,000 (mortgaged)
$2,800 water well (savings)
$1,800 septic system (savings)

Home – 1,200 sq. ft.We had to live in a camper for two years to save money for a down payment on the house.

$80,000 (mortgaged) – After using all of our savings for the well and septic we had to save more and dip into our retirement for a down payment for the house.
We downsized from a 2.500 sq ft house in the city to a smaller home that forced us to purge items we had collected over the years. With it came a freedom from owning less.

Barn – 192 sq. ft.Our mini barn is still holding up, but will need replaced before adding any more livestock or farming projects to the homestead. 

$3,000 – We build this one paycheck at a time while living in the camper. In our area we can build this size outbuilding without having to get a permit.
Stores tools, livestock feed, lawn and garden items and building supplies.

Hen house – Holds 12 hens and one rooster. Our egg hens free-range most of the year, so the upkeep on this house has been very minimal. 

$2,000 – We build this one paycheck at a time while living in the camper.
The fresh eggs we get are shared with our adult children and their families, our neighbors and friends. We love sharing!

Tractor – 1950 Ford – An antique by many standards our 1950 tractor has plowed fields, built a driveway and planted corn.

$1,600 – We used a tax return to make this purchase.
$500 – Repairs to radiator, tires, battery, and water pump.
The joy hubby gets when he spends the day on his tractor is better than any vacation he could ever pay for.

Tractor Implements – Very used planter, back blade, box blade, rake and single plow.

$1,000 – Purchased from a friends grandfather who allowed us to make monthly payments for 3 months.
These tractor parts have been a big help in preparing our soil and taking care of normal farming chores.

Army Surplus Trailer – I am not sure what we would do without this trailer! 

$400.00 – Paid for with overtime money.
Used for hauling straw, wood and building supplies.

Three Rabbit Pens – We raise and butcher about fifteen meat rabbits three times a year.

$100 for wire fencing and built with leftover wood from building the barn.
$75 for three rabbits.
We raise all our own meat and never have to buy meat from the grocery store. We always know what is in or meat.

Meat Chicken Coop – We raise and butcher two batches of meat chickens twice a year.

$100 for wire fencing and built with leftover wood from building the barn.
$300 Pen – Paid for with  overtime money.
$70 a year for chicks.
If you have never tasted a fresh butchered chicken you are in for a treat. The flavor is amazing.

Pig Pen – We raise 2 feeder pigs each spring and butcher them when they are about 7-8 months old. Their pen is 20 x 120 with a covered area to sleep and get out of the sun.

$600 Pen – Bought supplies one paycheck at a time until we had enough supplies  to build the pen.
$90 for two feeder pigs.
$500 a year for feed. We supplement their feed with table scrapes and garden waste. 

Vegetable Garden – To grow enough vegetables to feed our family for a year we have to put a lot of time and money into the garden areas.

$1,500 – This cost covers lime, fertilizer, seed replacement, canning supplies, extra water usage, gas for tractor, raised beds, irrigation, fencing and over winter crops for a year. 
The produce we put up each year keeps our pantry stocked all winter long. We preserve about 300 jars each year.

Homestead additions – We continually add to the growth of our homestead land.

We budget about $500 each year to growth. This includes planting new trees, grapes, berry bushes, landscaping and irrigation.
We see the fruits of our labor grow each year. Even though we have a limited budget for growth we do see our land gowning in value each and every year. 

Tools – Living on a farm and homesteading requires that you have basic tools at your disposal.

Over the last few years we have purchased over $5,000 worth of basic tools, such as a lawn tractor, rototiller, weed eater, chain saw, axes, wedges, saws, shovels, picks, forks, post hole digger, wheel barrows, fencing, and building tools.
There have been times when we needed to borrow  items but we have a good network of other homesteaders we can borrow from if needed. It is all about helping out your neighbors and forming a homesteading community.

Bees – One of my favorite things we do here on our farm is raise bees.  We had some trial and errors when we first were learning how to care for our bees, but each year our hives get better and we pull more honey.

Over the last three years we have invested $575 in bees, and $500 in hives, foundation and bee clothing. Not to count the unexpected emergency room visit for a bee sting reaction. 
The golden honey we get to pull from our hives twice a year is worth more to be than any diamonds or gold and girl could ask for.We have three hives and average about one gallon honey from each.

Pasture – As our homestead continues to grow we are always having to add pastures.  Fencing is a big job and requires more then money, it requires strength and stamina!Who needs a gym when you have to pick up 200-40# cedar fence posts?

$1,500 – It took us almost four full weekends to install 1900 feet of fence.We used 4″ woven fence with cedar posts.  We cemented in the corner posts and have two 10″ gates installed.
There is a sense of accomplishment when we pull in the driveway and drive past all those lined up cedar fence posts.  Long hours, sore backs, and lots of fun doing a big job like that together. 

Alpacas – A dream come true!Adding these adorable alpacas to our homestead has been a long time plan. As with everything else on the homestead they must earn their keep.  We raise them to sell their fiber.

$950.00 – 3 Young Male Alpacas$1,200 a year for feed, hay, shearing, and preventative health.$650.00 – Three sided shelter
The feel of their fiber between my fingers while spinning their fleece. The snuggles and kisses they give our grandchildren… priceless! I can do without the spitting, but it is a small price to pay for joy they give us.

This is just a peek into the cost of setting up a homestead. 
We started with a blank piece of land that had no outbuilding or home already standing.  The land had not been lived on or taking care of for over 20 years.  The land was overgrown, in bad shape, and had no nutrients left in the soil.  Over half of it was an open field that had no trees, no water and no source of power.  We started from the ground up and have been building little by little each year as time and money allows. 
What are we saving for and planning for the next five years?

Finish sunroom – $3,000. Completed above budget. Actual cost $8000.00 and it took us two years to finish this project, one paycheck at a time.
New raised garden beds – $500
Fruit orchard and irrigation – $2,000
Solar additions for power sources- $5,000. Completed above budget. Actual Cost 18,000. Rebates from Federal & State of $12,000. Choose to make monthly installments which are in place of our regular power bill.  
A newer used tractor – $10,000
A bigger barn – $20,000
Beef cows  $2,000. Completed under budget. Actual cost $950.00 for two heifers and one bull.

While homesteading can be very tiring at times, the satisfaction we feel at the end of the day is priceless. We continue to live frugally and recycle, re-use and make do with what we have to continue living this lifestyle.

Build a Cheap Wood Picket Fence for $200

Cheap Wood Picket Fence.
Here on our farm, we count our pennies and look for creative ways to reuse and recycle whatever we can.  Any building project no matter how small is planned way in advance.  This month’s project was to build a cheap wood picket fence around the kitchen garden. We hope to keep the chickens from using it as their personal space, plus add a pretty visual to my favorite garden.

After reviewing our budget, we determined we could spare $200 to complete this project. With a quick walk around the farm, and a few Internet searches we came up with a plan using what we already had and keeping to a $200 budget.

We already had a good supply of wood pallets behind the barn, and knew we could get more if needed.

Hubby went to work taking the pallets apart and cut them into the picket shape.  I am so thankful he is good and strong because taking apart pallets is not something I can do.  I was able to lend a hand in taking out the nails, but other than that it was truly man’s work!

Most of our budget went to buying treated 4×4’s, and 1×6’s for the frame of the fence. The wood cost $175.  Hubby measured everything out and built a frame around the whole garden first. 

As hubby screwed the pickets onto the frame, I was right behind him painting. Before I decided what I was going to paint the fence with I priced out paint and determined I did not have enough left in the budget to buy paint.  I only had $25 left after we purchased wood for the frame, so I had to get creative again.  

I have always loved the look of white-wash, so off I went to find a recipe.  I am happy I choose that method, I was able to stay within our budget, and I love the results it gave us.  
Here is the recipe I used for white-wash:

4 cups rock salt
12 cups hydrated lime (This is NOT garden lime and I had to purchase it at the feed store.)
2 gallons of water

Mix all ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket and paint on wood surface. I painted on one coat, let it dry for 24 hours, and then painted on a second coat.
In these pictures it looks like we completed this project in one day, but it took us a couple of weekends.  It was so rewarding that we stayed within our budget, and got a beautiful wood picket fence around the kitchen garden.
 
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

6 Steps for Living a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

Are you looking to live on less, grow your own food, conserve energy and be more self-sufficient?  Maybe you are just looking for ways to simplify your life.  Where ever you find yourself, there are ways you can start today.
Making the transition from a consumer driven life to a simple way of life can often be a challenge. But, if you set your mind to approaching it one-step-at-a-time you will soon be on the road to a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Many think living a self-sufficient lifestyle means moving to the country to raise animals and tend a large garden.  It can mean that for some, but for most it means learning how to take care of yourself.
With the economy becoming more difficult and the cost of living skyrocketing, families are feeling the strain. Most are finding themselves working 60 hours a week to keep up with the lifestyle they are accustomed.
Not so long ago we found ourselves falling into that same trap.
We were overwhelmed by consumerism and drowning in debt, doomed to a live a life of unsatisfying purchases and surrounded by like-minded people.  As Americans, we gladly followed the crowd to fit in, but behind closed doors we dreamed of a life where how much we made and what brand of clothes we wore didn’t matter. 
With one swoop of a for-sale sign, we traded in a life of possession obsession for a life of personal fulfillment.
It wasn’t an easy path, but looking back it saved our lives and taught us that we could be more self-sufficient by just changing the way we lived.
So how did we do it?  
We tackled one area of our life at a time, doing what we could with what we had.  We changed our mindset and were determined to simplify our life by cutting back and learning that less is really more!
Here are the six areas we concentrated on:

1 – HOUSING

Downsize – We took a good look at our house…we had more of a house than we needed or could afford?   Our house in town was 2500 sq. ft. and cost a small fortune to heat and cool let alone the taxes we paid each year.. We have downsized to a 1400 sq. ft. house and saved over $800 a month just in taxes, insurance and mortgage payments. 
Less is more – There is something about purging all the stuff you collect over the years.  When we downsized, we felt a real sense of freedom from owning less and ridding ourselves of all that useless clutter. 

2 – FINANCES

Debt reduction  – This was top on our list. Like every other family in America, we were caught in the vicious circle of debt. When we made the choice to live a more simplistic life, we knew that our first plan of attack was to deal with our outstanding debt.
We created a 5-year plan and wrote it down. Our goal was to work less and live more! In order for us to work less we needed to be debt free. Being debt free allowed us to build our homestead and become more self-sufficient.
Created a budget – We had to know where every penny was going and what was being wasted. Once we reviewed our budget we clearly were able to make adjustments to our income and expenses.
Started a payoff plan – We took the smallest of our debt and added anything extra to it every month, in no time we had it paid off.
Stopped using credit – We knew we would never get anywhere if were still charging. We cut up all of our cards except one we kept for emergencies.
This did not happen overnight and it took us five years to have all our debt, except our mortgage, paid off.
Understand the difference between needs and wants – This was hard for me to come to terms with. I now put myself through a list of questions before I make any new purchases.

Have I researched this product and found the best price?
Can I fix, repair or re-use the product I am replacing?
Have I waited a few days to see if the need outweighs the want?

3 – EXPENSES

Use only one phone service…choose land line or cell phone we didn’t need both.
Cut out our cable completely.
We rent movies instead of going to the theater.
Shop at second-hand stores.
Limited eating out to special occasions, if at all.
Use up leftovers.
Stay out of the stores.
Replaced paper towels with old cut up towels.
Replaced paper napkins with cloth napkins.
Replaced Kleenex with old fashion hankies.
We make our own laundry detergent.
Replaced fabric softener with white vinegar.
A monthly box of baking soda, Borax and white vinegar go a long way. The vinegar diluted with water cleans all mirrors, windows and floors. The baking soda and Borax cleans all sinks, toilets and tubs.
Recycle, Reuse, Reduce

In our home anything that can be re-used and re-invented is done so.
Any kitchen scraps, chicken and rabbit manure, are turned into rich compost that fertilizes our garden and refills the raised beds every year.
Rain water is gathered to water plants around the yard and garden.
We give everything a second look before it heads to the trash. Our recycle bins leave an unsightly pile beside the barn, but if something needs repairing the fix is waiting in our re-use pile.

4 – FOOD

Buying out of season fruits and vegetables is very costly. We plan our menus around what is fresh and in-season.
We watch the sales and only buy items when they go on sale.
We shop at stores that offer volume discounts and those that are typically cheaper. The Dollar Store and Aldi’s are two of my favorites.
We grow our own vegetables.
We raise your own meat.  

5 – ENERGY

Replace light bulbs with energy-saving ones.
Unplug anything that is not currently in use.
Stop using your dishwasher.
Use the sun as your clothes dryer.
Plan your meals ahead and don’t rely on your microwave.
Naturally dry your hair.
Save all errands for one day.
Have no TV days.
Close doors to rooms, not in use to conserve energy.
Have no light days…enjoy the flicker of an oil lamp.
Replace electric clocks with wind up ones.
Go to bed when the sun goes down…this is my favorite since I love going to bed early!
Find an alternative heat source. Wood, solar or wind power.

6 – PREPAREDNESS
As we strive to become more self-sufficient, we are also planning for the un-expected.

We have 3 – 10 gallon filled water jugs stored in case the electric goes out and we do not have access to the well.
Bottled water for drinking is always in the pantry set-back for emergencies.
Our generator is in working order and always ready to put into service to keep the freezer and refrigerator working.
Our pantry is stocked with staples and home canned goods that could feed us for weeks.
The grills propane bottle is always filled and an extra is always stored away.
Candles and oil lamps are a staple in our house.
Our first-aid kit is readily available.

Living a simpler self-sufficient life is quite different than what I imagined. Changing from a typical American family who consumed too much energy, had terrible spending habits and thought enjoyment came from what we could purchase next …we have truly been reborn!
The more things we do for ourselves and the more time we focus on providing our own means of survival, the happier and more content we are.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
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Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Old Toys From the 70’s for Some Old Fashion Fun

I have been on a quest to get my grandchildren to stop bringing their electronic games to our house when they come for a visit.  It hasn’t been an easy task, but the more we introduce them to some of the games from our childhood the easier it gets.  We didn’t have video games and iPhones to keep us busy when we were growing up, but what we did have was a good imagination and a few toys.

Our grandchildren have learned that the TV rarely comes on at our house, and old fashion fun starts with just a couple old toys from the 70’s. I have been having fun teaching my granddaughters some old time jump rope songs, and our grandson is the winning champ of Connect Four.
Since we live on a farm, and in the country, visits usually are centered on whatever project we are working on, but fun is always included.  A break for a game of Wiffle ball or archery practice is always a big hit for our grandson, and checking on baby bunnies or having a tea party is a show stopper for our granddaughters.
I had so much fun reminiscing with my hubby about all the toys we played with as kids, and even more excited that many of them are still available today! 

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite old toys from the 70’s. 
I found most of them on Amazon and since I like to Christmas shop online and beat the crowds I thought I would share them with my readers.
Here is a list of some of our favorite 70’s toys:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Connect Four
Wiffle Ball & Bat
Jumbo Jacks

Slinky
Green Army Men
Giant Pick Up Sticks

Operation Game
Lincoln Logs
Tiddly Winks

Jacob’s Ladder
Pot Holder Loom
Etch A Sketch

Barrel of Monkey’s
Chinese Checkers
Checkers

Tea Set
Cabbage Patch Doll
Radio Flyer Red Wagon

Pedal Fire Engine
Pink Pedal Car
Banana Seat Bike

 
Did you have a favorite toy for your past? I would love to hear what it was!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Making Ends Meet on the Homestead

If you are a faithful reader of Our Simple Homestead, you know I am pretty good about opening up our financial situation for all to see. Lately, I have been getting some questions about how we make ends meet on the homestead, so I am going to lay it all on the line so I can answer those questions.

I know when we first started dreaming about homesteading our plan was to own a few acres in the country and find ways to earn a living from the land.
What it has turned into is striving to be as self-sufficient as possible and finding ways to generate income from all of our hard work. (Read how we are trying to Live Without Walmart.)
I am going to be completely honest… We couldn’t do it without my husband working full-time away from the farm. Even though there are hundreds of ways to make a living from homesteading we are not to that point yet. The challenge for us is finding an array of products and services we can offer that can generate income.
We currently grow and raise most of our own food, cut firewood to heat our home in the winter, repair and maintain all of our home and farm equipment. But we could not do that without a steady outside income.
We are a one-income family, but the Internet has made it possible for me to work from home. Each week I work on a variety of projects. Writing for this blog, taking care of the farm, developing and maintaining websites for small business owners and selling some of the products we create on our farm.
Here are the different income streams we are working on to generate income on our homestead:

Husbands steady job.
Website/Blog design and maintenance from home. (Working from home allows me to take care of the farm while hubby works a 60 hour work week.)
Small affiliate and ad revenue from the blog.
Alpaca fiber for yarn sales.
Bee hives for health and beauty supplies and raw honey sales.
Re-purposing feed sacks for tote bag sales.
Produce sales.
Egg sales.
Baking sales.
We are working on adding meat sales to our list, but we need to work through the paperwork first. Eventually we will be selling pasture raised meat from our farm.

We know that we should not put all of our eggs in one basket so we are protecting ourselves in case one market or crop fails it is balanced out by another’s success.
How are you generating income from your homestead?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Finding Your Place as a Homesteader

Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life is, or what your life as a homesteader should look like?

I remember when I first left my full-time corporate job I wandered aimlessly around our farm trying to find where I fit in.  It took me a long time to realize God had a purpose for me and I just needed to embrace and figure out what his plan for me was.
At that point, I wanted to do it all:

I wanted a big garden.
I wanted a barn filled with animals.
I wanted to milk a cow and raise goats. 
I wanted to spend hours spinning alpaca fiber and sewing. 
I wanted to plant a herb garden and make my own herbal remedies and lotions.
I wanted to raise bees and sell honey.
I wanted to bake, can and make everything I could from scratch.
But most of all, I wanted to be here to take care of my family the way God intended me to be. 

I had to learn the hard way that I have a set of unique talents and skills that were naturally bestowed upon me.  Those skills didn’t include some of the items on my wish list and I had to come to accept that.  I came to realize that I couldn’t spend my life doing things that I was not gifted at and I needed to concentrate on the things I loved doing and did very well.
So where has that left me?

It left me planting more raised beds then that huge garden that I couldn’t take care of myself. 
I figured out I love raising chickens, but really don’t enjoy raising pigs.
I found a source for fresh raw milk rather than milking a cow.
I found that I can grow mint, calendula, and thyme really good so I concentrate on those herbs. 
I found that the three bee hives we have kept me busy enough that I didn’t need to venture into selling it.
I found I would rather crochet then sew and I enjoy carding alpaca fiber better than spinning it.
I found that it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a meal out or pick up a loaf of bakery bread when needed.
Above all, I found that my greatest joy comes from being here to take care of my husband the way he enjoys. The smile on his face when he comes home to a home cooked meal, or knowing exactly where something is he’s looking for and even being here to run errands for him is what God has sent me to do.  Being his helpmate is my God given talent.

I encourage you to look at what you enjoy, what you’re good at and then let that mold you into the life you desire. 

Trust in your ability and don’t be afraid to be unique…no two homesteaders are the same!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Planning for Alpacas – Cost, Care, Cuteness

Alpacas to join our Homestead.
After months of researching and planning for alpacas it is getting close for us to add a few to Our Simple Homestead.  Besides them being just adorable they have to serve a purpose. All of the animals on our farm are for food production, but alpacas will earn their keep by providing us fiber for spinning and yarn production.

We live on 21 acres and have plenty of room to pasture animals, so it is important that we find animals that graze well and take little financial commitment on our end.  Now don’t get me wrong, it will cost us a good bit to get started with alpacas but the overall feed cost will be little since they are grazers.   We will not be raising alpacas for show or to breed, so the cost of purchasing them will be low.  We are planning to buy three young males from a well-established Alpaca Farm in North Carolina.
As with anything here on the homestead it has taken us months to plan for this addition, and we are still working on getting things set up for their arrival.  I learn best by talking to others and reading as much as I can.  I have been studying this book Llamas & Alpacas by Hobby Farms for weeks.
Here is the check list we used while planning for our alpacas:

Determine breed –We knew from the very beginning we wanted alpacas for fiber so determining what breed we wanted was easy. We choose Huacaya Alpacas since their fleece is plush and crimped.  Their fiber is perfect for making yarn and is similar to the angora fiber I use now.

Find a reputable alpaca farm – After talking and visiting a few farms we choose a breeder that we felt raised the type of animal we wanted.  We have grandchildren and wanted animals that would adapt to having children around them.  The three alpacas we bought are good with children, and are still young enough that they can grow up on our farm and get to know us and our family comfortably.
Cost: $1000 for three young gelded male fiber alpacas.
Feeding – Our alpacas will mostly graze on rotating pastures.   They love timothy, fescue and alfalfa and will be rotated between two pastures every six months so we can always be improving one pasture while they are grazing in the other. We will also be supplementing their grazing with concentrates such as grains and commercial feeds. During the colder months, we will add hay to their diet. Alpacas require lots of fresh, clean water so it was important for us to build their shelter close to our water source.
Cost: Approx. $100 a month feed and hay
Housing – One of the reasons we choose to add alpacas was their ease of housing. All they need is a dry place to sleep and a place to find shelter from the weather.  We are building a three-sided structure 40′ x 20′ that is plenty big enough to house three adult males.  One thing that attracted us to this animal is being able to use their droppings as fertilizer in the garden.  They use communal dung piles which makes for easy clean-up.  Packed dirt floors work best, and that in itself keeps the cost of building shelter reasonable.
Cost: One-time construction cost $800
Fencing – This was our biggest expense since we wanted to have two rotating pastures.  We installed woven wire fencing, 52″ inches tall with 4 inch square openings on about 2 acres.  We used  7 1/2′  cedar fence posts spaced 12 feet apart.  We also added a 10′ gate on each pasture, with the shelter positioned so it could have access to both pastures.
Cost: One-time fencing supplies $1500
Health – We did a lot of research on keeping alpacas healthy and what preventative things we could do to keep vet visits at bay.  We will be vaccinating for enterotoxaemia and tetanus regularly and setting up a dewormer program. It is important to keep their shelter and pasture free from harmful items such as wire, nails, and hornets’ nests.  We have also taken extra precautions in making sure our fence is predator proof…one of the main reasons we choose woven wire fencing. Alpacas require their toenails trimmed, and teeth filed down regularly.
Cost: Approx. $200 a year for preventative medicine.  (Does not include vet visits)
Shearing – The main reason alpacas are coming to our farm is for their fiber, so shearing was something we looked good and hard at.  We are planning to shear ourselves to keep the cost down but will need to invest in good shearing equipment.  Alpacas are sheared once a year in the spring.
Cost: Shearing Clippers $100

 Our homesteading adventures are always a learn as we go process, but we are looking forward to adding alpacas to our farm. 
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Here is a list of our favorite backyard farming tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Little Giant 11 Lbs Plastic Hanging Poultry Feeder
Galvanized Double Wall Founts 
Rabbit Hutch

Chick-N-Hutch Chicken Hutch
Aluminum Feed Scoop, 24-Ounce
10-
Frame Traditional Bee Hive Basic Starter Kit

True Temper 12 Grain Hog Scoop
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)
Poly
Residential Yard Rover Green Wheelbarrow

Do you have a Homesteader’s Heart?

The homesteading movement is spreading across the country at lighting speed. Families are looking for ways to live on less, be more self-sufficient, and are changing the way they look at how they live.

Modern homesteaders come in many forms. From urban dwellers to ranchers, but the one thing they all have in common is their desire to live a homesteading lifestyle.
Today’s Homestead is not all about farming, as much as it is learning to be more self-sufficient. That can be defined in many ways.
Some families are supplementing their food supply with backyard gardens, while others are growing crops to share, sell and barter. Some buy produce from local farmers markets and some raise livestock. Many are canners, sewer s bakers, builders, homeschoolers and farmers. But many are bankers, teachers and factory workers. But what they all are, are people who strive to doing as much as they can with their own two hands. They tend the ground they live on, look for ways to reuse, recycle and make do, and they respect old-fashion skills handed down by their forefathers.
There is a common creed that all homesteaders live by no matter where they live or what profession they work. The creed that many use to define a homesteader’s heart.
The Homesteader’s Heart Creed

Although there are not any established set of rules for homesteading. The one thing we all can count on is homesteaders across the country care about living an authentic homesteading lifestyle, not complicated by today’s fast-paced, technology laden lifestyle.
Do you have a homesteader’s heart?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Here is a list of some of our go-to homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
Poly Garden Dump Cart
Aluminum D-grip Handle No. 14 Grain Scoop 

Classic Flower and Vegetable Tiller
Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
Hercules Post Hole Digger 

Husqvarna Gas Powered Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller 
Black & Decker CS1015 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Long Handle Shovel

How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden

Even though we love watching these fine four legged creators, we don’t like that they invade our garden every year.  We are already planning our defense strategy for keeping them from feeding on our tender plants.
 
We have lived on our farm for six years now and know the exact path the deer take on our property every year.  They are creatures of habit and will repeatedly follow the same paths until the feel they are in danger. 
It has become a game…us against the deer!  Some years we win and sometimes they win.  The prize they like the most is an endless supply of sweet corn.
Here are a couple things we are doing to keep them out of our garden:

We string a heavy-duty monofilament fishing line between two metal fence posts, about three feet from the ground all around the garden.  We then add lightweight, noise-making objects such as aluminum pie tins.  The deer will stop and back away from the distraction…and most times will start following a different path around the garden.  They view the shinny noisy object as a threat and will avoid them.
Since we cut our own hair here on the farm, we save the cuttings all winter long to sprinkle them around the garden once our seedling start to pop through the soil.  Deer doesn’t care for the smell of human hair.  I have heard that people will also add the hair to nylon stocking tied at both ends and lay them around their gardens as well.  We never have that much hair saved, but I can bet it works great.

Keeping these wild animals from destroying all our hard work is an on-going issue for us. If you have any tips or ideas you can share on how you keep them from your garden, please share them with us!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Food Independence – What My Parents Taught Me

I remember as a child my parents didn’t have extra money for new shoes or the new Barbie doll I just thought I needed, but I don’t ever remember feeling hungry.  My belly was always full and our cupboards were always stocked.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood that my parents knew the secret behind “food independence.”  My parents grew up in the era where providing food for your family was an everyday occurrence…not one that could be fulfilled by running to the grocery store.
I was born in 1962 and raised on a small farm in rural Northwest Pennsylvania.  I was born at the onset of fast food and prepackaged meals, but it was way into the 70’s before I ever saw my first TV dinner.  For us, supper always consisted of meat, potatoes, bread and butter, and a vegetable.  Once in a while Mom would surprise us with a big pot of pasta, but for the most part every meal was grown, canned and frozen right from the fields that surrounded our farm. Saturday night always meant a big bowl of popcorn that we husked ourselves and Sunday always meant roasted chicken and dessert.  To this day roasted chicken reminds me of my mother in the kitchen with her apron on.
 There were four of us kids, plus Mom and Dad so there were always plenty of hands to pull weeds, peel potatoes, feed animals, chop wood and gather eggs.  Our farm was not big, but there were always chickens, geese and ducks running around, cows in the pasture and pigs in the barn. We grew sweet corn, picked apples and plums off the trees in our yard and forged the woods for wild blackberries and strawberries every year.
I can’t remember having store bought vegetables in the house since we always ate what was in season.  Spring greens and fresh radishes in the spring, new potatoes and peas in late spring, sweet corn and fresh tomatoes in the summer and pumpkin pies and acorn squash smothered in butter and brown sugar in the fall.  A smorgasbord of wonderful flavors to look forward to every year.
Every fall Mom would scour the garden for the last of the green tomatoes and apples from the trees to make her famous mincemeat pie filling.  I don’t like mincemeat, but I can still remember the wonderful aromas that filled the kitchen when she made it.
Fall also meant Dad would have grapes fermenting into sweet grape wine.  It wasn’t until I was an adult before I could enjoy the sweet flavor of those fall grapes, but I vividly remember him and his friends enjoying it quite often sitting around the kitchen table.
My parents no longer plant a garden and rely on my brother to share his garden with them, but they still live in the same house and they still know the importance of food independence.  I never have to worry about my parents going hungry.  Their pantry is still always stocked and they always have plenty when any of us kids stop by. 
I am very thankful my father taught me how to garden and my mother taught me how to can…where would I be today without these basic skills? 
Oh that’s right...I would be relying on the grocery store and not striving for food independence.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

My Favorite Top 10 Planting Companions

It is getting that time of the year!  Spring is just a few weeks away and I am already planning to keep my plants happy by allowing them to buddy up to their favorite friends!

Here are my 10 favorite planting companions. Some of these I learned from my father growing up and many of them I learned from reading the Farmer’s Almanac.

Onions and Cucumbers repel cucumber pests that feed on young cukes.
Leeks and Carrots keep the rust fly at bay.
Basil and Tomatoes control hornworms.
Onions and Chives planted around your garden will keep the rabbits out.
Radishes and Cucumbers repel cucumber beetles.
Thyme and Potatoes to enhance growth.
Thyme and Eggplant to enhance growth.
Sage and Cabbage will enhance growth of the cabbage.
Marigolds planted around your garden will keep a variety of insects and rabbits from feeding on tender plants.
Catnip and Eggplant will repel flea beetles.

Do you have a favorite companion plant that works well in your garden?  Please share, I love trying to introduce my plants to new friends!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list of some of our go-to homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
Poly Garden Dump Cart
Aluminum D-grip Handle No. 14 Grain Scoop 

Classic Flower and Vegetable Tiller
Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
Hercules Post Hole Digger 

Husqvarna Gas Powered Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller 
Black & Decker CS1015 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Long Handle Shovel

All Natural Fly Spray – For Farm Animals

Flies… Flies…. and more Flies!
You know its summer when the flies start outweighing you!
I have tried a few different fly sprays over the years, and was shocked at the list of ingredients that they are loaded with.  Things I would never dream of putting on or near my body, let alone sprayed daily on our animals.
This year my goal was to find a homemade all natural fly spray recipe that worked and was cheaper than the $40 I was spending every month on store-bought spray. 

Before I get into the list of ingredients I do have to note that I did spend a little over $100 buying the ingredients for my all-natural homemade fly spray.  But, as far as I can figure, I will be able to make at least 5 or 6 batches before I have to start restocking supplies.  Each batch is costing me around $10 in supplies, and I use 2 batches a month. That is a $20 savings a month for me.
We have not had a lot of rain, and it’s been hot. The flies, ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes and gnats are BAD!
I am spraying this on every animal in the barn every morning and if I see they are being bothered in the evening, I will give them another light spray.  It is all natural and does not have any harmful ingredients …which I love!

PLEASE NOTE
I was not sure how my alpacas would react to this spray, so I tested each one of them by spraying a small amount on their inner thigh so I could watch for a reaction.  I would suggest if you use this on horses do a small test patch first before applying.
I am using this on our alpacas, cows, rabbits (a very light spray) and dogs.
Do not spray near or around eyes.  To apply near eyes spray on a soft cloth first and wipe the animals face or sensitive areas.
Repels flies, ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes and gnats for about 8 hours.

ALL NATURAL FLY SPRAY
(I have included links to Amazon in case you want to try this recipe.)

1 32 oz spray bottle
4 cups water
1 ml vitamin E oil
2 ml glycerin
20 ml geranium oil
5 ml lemongrass oil
6 ml citronella oil
5 ml rosemary oil
8 ml clove oil
5 ml cedar oil
1 ml thyme oil

Mix all ingredients and shake well before using.
I feel so much better knowing I am controlling those pesky flies without using any harsh chemicals on our loved and very well cared for farm animals!
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Simple Lessons: Chicken Raising

Raising Chickens.
I remember the first time I went to my hubby and told him I wanted to raise chickens.  We were living in the city, with neighbors right on top of us and a postage stamp for a backyard.  To say the least, he laughed! 

Being raised in the country where a yard full of chickens was the normal, but raising chickens in the city, was I crazy? I brushed off his apprehension and went about my day, but I had already started to wheels turning in his head.
Fast forward five years and we found ourselves in the midst of the homesteading movement, living on 20 acres, and it was now the right time to raise chickens. Even though, I had been raised on a farm with chickens, pigs, goats, cows and geese I had never raised them myself and didn’t know the first place to start.
We made a few mistakes and learned a good bit along the way, but I can say we are pretty good chicken raisers now. We have both egg and meat chickens on our farm.  The meat chickens come in the spring and the fall and have a completely separate house then our egg chickens who reside with us all year long.   I try real hard not to get attached to the meat chickens, but the egg chickens are part of the family and when one of them dies like our King Henry we were heart broken.
I hope I can give you a few tips to help start you on your hen house adventures.
Here are a few simple lessons about raising chickens we had to learn:

Never buy your chicks from an over populated chicken farm unless you know what a sick chicken looks like. 
The first time we bought chicks we found a farmer on Craig’s List.  We had no idea what a healthy chicken should look like and brought home ten hens and one rooster.  Within two months’ time, they had all died. We had no idea why and when we finally figured it out they had died, and our pen had to be disinfected before we could buy more.
Research breeds.
The first birds we bought were Rhode Island Reds and the hens were great but the rooster was mean and had an issue with chasing our grandson.  That rooster ended up in a stockpot, and my grandson took pleasure in eating that bowl of soup! The Barred Plymouth Rocks we have now are friendly and even eat out of hands. 
Learn how to tame a mean rooster.
As I mentioned earlier, we had to stockpot the first mean rooster we had, but now we know how to tame an aggressive rooster.  You have to show him who is boss as soon as he starts showing his true colors.  We do this by catching them and holding them for a few minutes every time they act up.  You have to be sure to hold his legs with one hand and tuck his wings, so he does not flap around and hurt himself.
Always separate broody hens from the regular flock. 
The first time we had a broody hen that actually sat and hatched eggs the other hens killed all the chicks.
Predators are worse in the spring.
The first couple flocks we had we let them free range year round.  We have now found on our farm that flying predators are worse in the spring, and we now keep our flock in the hen house when we are not outside in the spring.  Our best hen protection is our lab, when she is in the yard the flying predators seem to stay away.
Fast growing meat chickens are not always the healthiest.
The first batch of meat chicken we bought grew so fast they couldn’t support their weight on their legs.  It was so sad watching them hobble around the chicken house that we now only but Red Rocket meat chickens.  We know it takes longer to raise some breeds out to a good butchering size but they are so much healthier and happier.  The longer growth time allows them to free raise for about four weeks before butchering…that makes me feel good about their stay on our farm.

I hope you can learn by some of our mistakes, and if you are thinking about raising chickens of your own I would suggest you hop over to the Farmer’s Almanac, they have some great resources for raising chickens.
Do you raise chicken?  Do you have any hard learned lessons you can share with us?
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Here is a list of our favorite backyard farming tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Little Giant 11 Lbs Plastic Hanging Poultry Feeder
Galvanized Double Wall Founts 
Rabbit Hutch

Chick-N-Hutch Chicken Hutch
Aluminum Feed Scoop, 24-Ounce
10-Frame Traditional Bee Hive Basic Starter Kit

True Temper 12 Grain Hog Scoop
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)
Poly Residential Yard Rover Green Wheelbarrow

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

The heat of a South Carolina summer is perfect for the watermelons that are thriving in my garden right now. I know when the heat of the day pushes me inside I can always count of the cool and refreshing taste of a homegrown watermelon to cool me down.

For years, I struggled with picking them too early or too late. I could never find the right signs to know if they were at their peak and picked many too soon.  After growing them for a few years now, I can spot when they are just right to pick. Watermelons do not continue to ripen once they are picked so I quickly learned how to read a watermelon.
For homegrown watermelons, I look for these three signs on how to pick the perfect watermelon:

Tap lightly on the side of the melon and listen for a dull thump.
Pick the melon up and look at the underside, it should be turning yellow if it is ripe.
Look closely at the dying or shriveling stem near the base of the melon. If it is ripe, the stem will be brown and dead. (see photo below)

We often get chased inside from the burning heat of our South Carolina summers by early afternoon.  On those days, nothing tastes as good as this fresh Watermelon Salsa on corn chips with a big glass of iced tea. Yum!
Watermelon Salsa 2015-08-24 07:06:09 Yields 3 A cool and refreshing way to enjoy the sweet taste of summer.

Write a review
Save Recipe Print Ingredients 3 cups seeded, chopped watermelon 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon chopped onion 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
Instructions Combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate a minimum of one hour. Serve with corn chips.
By Farmers Almanac 2011 Our Simple Homestead http://oursimplehomestead.com/

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list to some of my favorite kitchen and baking tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

KitchenAid KSM75WH 4.5 Qt. Classic Plus Stand Mixer 
Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor 
Norpro 136 3-Cup Stainless Steel Crank Flour Sifter

Maple French Rolling Pin
Calphalon Nonstick 6-Piece Bakeware Set
(Set of 6) Mixing Bowls

Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set
Pyrex 1118990 3-Piece Measuring Cup Set 
5-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set 

Basic Homesteading Skills to Teach Your Children

Children are our future and the homesteading skills they learn from you will help them face the future as we see it. 

More and more generations are turning back to the skills they learned as children to help them escape the face-paced crazy lifestyle that surrounds them.
I know for a fact, I ran back to the farming and homemaking skills my parents taught me when the world around me was closing in.   I am thankful for those skills and hope I can pass them on to my children and grandchildren.
Forty years ago when my mother was making me cook dinner and do laundry all I could think of was wanting to go out and play, but she knew that the skills she taught me then were the skills that would carry me through life. 

I made it a point to make sure my children had known some very basic homesteading and homemaking skills before I sent them off into the world.  As parents we are never sure we have done the right thing or wished we would have done things different, but the skills I made sure my children learned was one of the things I know I did right.
Make it your goal to teach some basic homesteading skills to your children while they are young and still eager to learn:
For all young girls and boys:

Sewing/Crocheting/Knitting

Start off simple and small.  Find a fun project that your little girl will love to make.  I started my granddaughter off with a simple square quilted baby blanket for her doll crib. It taught her how to cut fabric, to use a sewing machine and how to match colors.

Laundry/Sorting/Ironing/Stain Removal/Drying

Even children as young as 5 can start sorting laundry.  Teaching them how to sort clothes into piles is the first place to start. Teach them how to separate the whites from the colored clothes and the towels from the jeans.  My three-year old granddaughter can fold clothes better than me at times and loves sharing that job with me. 

Cooking/Baking/Meal Planning/Preserving/Reading Recipes

My ten-year-old grandson just got his first kids cookbook and loves to make dinner for his parents.  He is now inspiring to be a famous chef.

Cleaning/Schedules/Bed Making/Organizing/All-natural Cleaners

One of the first cleaning lessons a child learns is to clean their rooms. Take the time to show them a few times the correct way to clean a room.  Help them learn how to organize their toys and make their beds.  These very early lessons will be the lessons that carry them through a lifetime of living.

Gardening/Herbs/Flowers/Lawn Care

Children love to be outside, so make gardening a family affair.  Teach them to tell the difference between a weed and a plant, help them learn where their food comes from and teach them ways they can feed their families by learning how to plant a garden.

Wood/Chopping/Splitting/Fire Starting

Young children may not be able to chop wood, but as they get older, especially boys should all know the basic skills needed to provide warmth for their family. Young children can learn to stack and haul wood…even if its one piece at a time.

Hunting & Fishing/Gun Safety/Woods Survival/Butchering

From an early age, our children and grandchildren have been subjected to chicken butchering, fish cleaning, and hunting safety. Learning early on that every animal on the farm is here for a purpose helps them understand where their food comes from and they respect the life cycle.  Basic small animal butchering was started at the early age of six or seven. 

Basic Animal Husbandry

Even family pets fall under this heading.  Children that learn from an early age what it means to raise an animal will most likely grow up being very capable of raising other types of animals.  Feeding, watering and cleaning up after an animal is a task even the youngest of children can learn.  As they get older allowing them to raise rabbits of chickens teaches them responsibility and helps provide for their families basic needs.

Hand Tools/Basic Maintenance

All children should be taught how to use basic hand tools.  One of the greatest saying my husband taught all of our children was “Righty Tighty…Lefty Lucy”…to this day I can still hear them sing that little tune when trying to unscrew or tighten things with threads. Changing batteries in their toys or learning to use a hammer by building their first project is a great way to start.

Are there any homesteading skills you can add to this list?  I would love to hear what skills you feel are important to teach young children.

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Dreaming big about our Homestead

As I put this year to rest, I have decided not to spend time writing down a list of goals…instead I am allowing myself to dream a little.

Before I started to dream, I had to find a way to get a clearer picture of the dreams I had. I found a great list of questions that helped me define my dreams better.

If money was not an issue, I would: Build hubby a big board-n-batten barn with a Mail Pouch ad painted on the side.
If I didn’t care what people thought, I would: Disconnect the electric and phone line that comes into our home.
If I were sure I’d succeed, I would: Open a farm stand.
If I could be certain it was the right choice, I would: Start milking cows.
If I weren’t worried about the future, I would: Encourage hubby to quit his job and farm full-time.

This was a really fun exercise and it was such a change from sitting down and listing out our goals for the coming year.  What it really did was encourage us to work to make our dreams a reality.
How would you answer these questions?
Signature

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

A day in the life of a homesteader

We love living in the country, on our little homestead, living as close to the land as our ancestors did. Sure, we have electricity, running water and most modern conveniences but we still work the land, tend to our livestock and grow most of our own food. 

 
Homesteading can be much work, but when it comes to the end of the day and you are bone tired you feel good knowing you have put in a good wholesome days work. 
Here is peek into a day in our life as homesteaders.

Our day started with Henry our rooster meeting us at the door for his morning treat. 

Morning chores start with feeding and watering our meat rabbits.

Bacon and ham were waiting for breakfast.

The pig pen was in need of a good cleaning.

A walk through the fields to check on the corn crop.

 The meat chickens were all fed and watered for the day.

The hen house was full of the morning layers.

A couple loads of laundry made it to the line to dry in the bright sunshine.

A nice walk through the woods to check on the back deer plot.

Seedlings started to replace some we lost due to cold weather.

I took some time to stop and enjoy the butterflies that were taking advantage of some spring flowers.

 Checked on the bee hives and are happy to see them bringing pollen back to the hives.

Trimmed old stocks out of the blackberry patches.

Made a batch of strawberry jam.

 Baked a chocolate cake for dinner.

Strung up the peas in the garden.

Planted a second harvest of corn.

Had a special visit from our granddaughter and she got to do her favorite job…gather eggs.

She even got to help with evening chores.

From our homestead to yours…enjoy your life whereever you live.
 
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Here is a list of some of our favorite Homesteading Tools and Resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Steps for living a simple self-sufficient lifestyle – Part #2

Grow your own food

You do not need 20 acres to grow your own food. A 10×10 foot raised bed or patio garden is all you need to grow fresh vegetables. Almost anything grows in a pot even potatoes will grow in a 5 gallon bucket.

Know where your food comes from

This has been a real challenge for us since we have been unable to find a local farmer that can provide us with pasture raised, hormone free beef, pork and chicken. I have had to rely on grocery stores for these meat products. Only one store in our local area carries a good supply of organic meat and that is Publix. We are, however, fortunate to live in a farming community so fresh local vegetables are abundant even though we buy few since we grow our own. Once you start to take notice local food you will be amazed at how much of our food supply comes from other countries.

Eat seasonally

Buying out of season fruits and vegetables is very costly. If you plan your menus around what is fresh and in season your cost saving will be remarkable. I love to enjoy a strawberry shortcake dessert all summer long so in June when the strawberries are locally picked and at their freshest I buy extra and freeze them to enjoy all year long. Its takes some planning, but I always buy extra of whatever is in season and can or freeze for use all year long.

This was one of my favorite books when we first started looking into self-sufficient living.
Debt reduction

This has been top on our list. Like every other family in America, caught in the vicious circle of debt, we had some issues to deal with, as well. When we made the choice to live a more simplistic life we knew that our first plan of attack was to deal with debt.
Create a 5 year goal and write it down. Ours is to Work Less – Live More!
In order for us to work less we must be debt free. Being debt free will allow us to enjoy life more!
Create a budget – know where your money is going.
Start a payoff plan…we started by taking the smallest of our bills and added anything extra to it every month and in no time we had it paid off.
Stop using credit!!!! You will never get anywhere if you are still charging. Cut up all your cards except one to keep for emergencies.
This does not happen overnight and ours is a 5 year plan to have all our debt, except our mortgage paid off. 

Green cleaning

We try our best to be good stewards of the land we live on. It amazes me at the amount of chemicals that get poured into our lakes and streams every day. It was easy for me to make the switch to green cleaning. I was worried at first with the results, but I have been pleasantly surprised at my new cleaning products.
Before I started the switch I dug out a months’ worth of shopping receipts and found that, between paper products and cleaning supplies, I was spending well over $150 a month. I was shocked!!! Now I spend about $20 if that after my first initial stock up. The only thing I buy on a monthly basis is toilet tissue and green dish soap. I only buy the green dish soap since I have not been able to find a homemade alternative I am happy with.
Replace paper towels with old cut up towels and keep close to the kitchen sink.
Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins kept in a cute little basket on the counter.
Kleenex has been replaced with old fashion hankies. I loved shopping for these since I found some pretty ones at an antique store.
Make your own laundry detergent. I used to spend about $40 a month washing clothes now I spend $10 and the results are great.
Replaced fabric softener with white vinegar.
A monthly box of baking soda and a gallon of white vinegar goes a long way in my monthly cleaning duties. The vinegar diluted with water in a spray bottle washes all my mirrors and windows. The baking soda I use to wash all sinks, toilets and tubs. To clean the counter tops I often grab the spray bottle of vinegar for a quick spray down. I keep a spray bottle of watered down bleach for quick spray downs of my sinks and counters if cutting meat and chicken. Bleach is the harshest cleaner I use and I use very little of it.

Recycle, Reuse, Reduce

We all come from a wasteful society where throw out and buy new is the normal. In our world everything that can be re-used and re-invented is done so.
Our biggest full circle is our compost pile where our scraps and chicken and rabbit manure are turned into rich compost that fertilizes our garden. 
Replace canning lids with reusable ones.
The things I do buy that come in plastic containers get a second life by storing leftovers or sending goodie’s home with my kids.
Rain water is gathered to water potted plants around the yard and garden.
Shop and donate to Goodwill.
Give everything a second look before heading to the trash. It leaves an unsightly pile beside our barn but if something needs repairing most likely the fix is waiting in our reuse pile.

Reduce energy

It is the little things that make a big difference.
Replace light bulbs with energy saver ones.
Unplug anything that is not currently in use.
Stop using your dish washer.
Don’t use a dryer…find the heat from the sun.
Plan your meals ahead and don’t rely on your microwave.
Naturally dry your hair when you can.
Save all errands for one day.
Have no TV days.
Close doors to rooms, not in use to save heat or cooling.
Have no light days…enjoy the flicker of an oil lamp.
Replace electric clocks with wind up ones.
Go to bed when the sun goes down…this is my favorite since I love going to bed early!

Learn to appreciate the simple things

There was a time in our life where it was nothing to go spend $100 on dinner at a fancy restaurant, go on expensive vacations and spend way beyond our means. That has all come to a stop and we are ever so happy. Now we find our entertainment and happiness from sharing time with our family and friends at home.

Understand the difference between needs and wants

This was hard for me to come to terms with. I now put myself through a list of questions before I make any new purchases.
Have I researched this product and found the best price?
Can I fix, repair or re-use the product I am replacing?
Have I waited a few days to see if the need still out weights the want?

Be prepared

As we strive to become more self-sufficient we are also planning for the un-expected.
We have 3 – 10 gallon jugs stored under the house in case the electric goes out and we do not have access to the well.
Bottled water for drinking is always in the pantry set back for emergencies.
Our generator is in working order and always ready to put into service to keep the freezer and refrigerator working.
Our pantry is stocked with staples that could feed us for weeks.
The grills propane bottle is always filled and an extra is always stored away.
Candles and oil lamps are a staple in our house.
Our first-aid kit is readily available.

Turning from a typical American family who consumed too much energy, had terrible spending habits and thought enjoyment came from how many hours we could fit in a day…we have been reborn!
Living a simple life is quite different than what I imagined. The more things I do to make our life stress-free the more I want to sit back and enjoy life as it was meant to be. We realized early on our transformation was not going to happen overnight but we continue to strive for the lifestyle we dream of every day.
Click here for Part #1

How to have a thankful heart…

Have you ever looked at your life and wondered why God put you in this time and this place? Have you wished for a life like your neighbor or friend? I have often found myself not being content in the life I was given. It has only been since my heart has become closer to the Lord that I am fully content with who I am and the plan God has for me.
Having a thankful heart is something we all need to work on. Recently we experienced an ice storm and our electric went out in the middle of the night. I had a house full of grandchildren and the temperature in the house was soon chilly enough to wake me. Once a fire was started in the fireplace, and I was able to warm some water for some tea, I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat in the quiet.
What is it about the quiet that is so soothing? I could hear the sweet sound of sleeping babies, the cat rattling around in his dish, the soft snore of our yellow lab and the crackling of the fire as it warmed the room around me. Life was peaceful and I felt the love of God around me.
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As I sat in the quiet, I mentally went over a few things we could all do to have a more thankful heart.

Thank God everyday for the family he surrounds you with – We may get frustrated with our families at times, but God has a plan. He put you in your family unit for a reason. What is your reason? Is it to be a care giver, a role model, a provider, a teacher? Your place in your family has a purpose…be thankful for the job God has given you and find ways to excel at it.
Be a better friend and neighbor – We often get so wrapped up in our own lives we forget about the circle of friends we have. Take the time to call a friend, get to know a neighbor or just reach out and let someone know you are thinking about them. A simple card in the mail, a five word text or a short phone call will mean the world to someone who may be having a difficult day.
Find the joy in everyday – My children have heard me say that more times than they would like to remember, but I truly believe there is joy in every situation if you just stop and look for it. Most challenging days come with a lesson. If you face those days with the understanding that you were meant to learn something, then you can always find the brighter side of any situation.

So even with a house full of grandchildren and no electric…we have a fireplace to stay warm, plenty of wood, flashlights and oil lamps, a full pantry and plenty of games and books to keep three little minds busy.
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed
Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark
Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop
with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy
Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-
Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Fall is the Perfect Time to Raise a Calf

Starting to raise a calf in November is the perfect time of the year!  We bought a 12 week old bull calf that is bottle broke and is now eating grain and hay.
Why did we choose a 12 week old rather than a 2 day old?  Once we sat down and looked at the cost of milk replacer it was less expensive for us to buy a 12 week old calf.

If you have taken notice to the rising cost of beef, you will understand our desire to raise our own beef.  Living on a farm we are fortunate enough to have room to raise a steer and the ability and desire to take care of him until he old enough to butcher. As with everything else here on the farm we thought long and hard about the costs involved, and the time it would take to raise a steer to butcher weight. 
Knowing our growing season and calculating the cost of hay and grain we determined late fall would be the perfect time to raise a calf.  Since he is still little the feed and hay cost will be a minimum over this first winter.  Over this first winter, we will supplement his hay with a calf grower feed. From April until late November he will be able to pasture graze so there will be no need to buy hay or grain during most of his growing season. We will only be raising him until he is 18 months old  and will only have to over-winter him this year.  Come fall of next year, and 60 days prior to butchering, we will add grain back into his diet to help add some additional fat to his overall body weight.

We also determined fall would be the perfect time to raise a bull calf since he will need to be castrated and dehorned.  Both of those things can be taken care of over this first winter and before flying season starts. Castration is important at an early age to prevent him from becoming rambunctious, and dehorning is more for our safety than anything else.  Since this calf has been bottle fed, he is already used to human contact so dehorning will prevent him for getting too friendly and becoming dangerous to us. 
Here is a list of the few things we had in place before we brought home our bull calf:

Fencing – We fenced in 2 acres with 4 foot high woven fencing.
Shelter – A dry 20×20 area of the barn that provides both shelter and an eating area.
Research – We found a reliable local farm that specializes in raising bottle calves.
Transportation – We borrowed a cattle trailer from a neighbor.
Feed – Stocked calf grower, dry clean hay, and setup a steady supply of fresh clean water.

There is something very satisfying in knowing we have a big part in providing and producing the food we consume.
Do you raise any meat animals?

 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

5 Tips for Keeping Christmas Simple

I remember as a child, sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for my father to tell us we could come downstairs on Christmas morning.  The anticipation of Christmas was in the air while the smell of coffee, pine, cinnamon and oranges fill our senses.

Those few minutes seemed like hours to four children under the age of ten, but everything was worth it when we got to see the lighted Christmas tree for the very first time.
As a six-year-old, I couldn’t appreciate the hours it took to decorate the tree after we all went to bed, or the sleepless night my parents spent making sure our Christmas morning was special.  But as an adult, I cherish the feeling of Christmas our parents created for us. And even though I cannot recall the gifts under the tree, I do remember the feeling…one I can only compare to the excitement and beauty of the very first snow-fall.
Those simple memories remind me that Christmas is more than presents and parties. It is the anticipation of sharing family traditions, helping those in need and remembering why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.  
At our house, we don’t stress over the perfect gift and we don’t over-extend ourselves financially trying to buy memories.  What we do is look for ways to keep Christmas simple.
Here are a few things we do to keep our Christmas Simple:

Simple Decorations – Long gone are the days of decking every hall in our home.  A few simple decorations are all we need to remind us of this special time of year.  A naivety scene, a poinsettia on the mantel and a very simple Charlie Brown tree decorated with pine cones, cranberries, and popcorn.
Simple Traditions – While we don’t wait until Christmas Eve to put up our tree we do look forward to a Christmas Eve lunch with our children and evening service with our church family. Christmas Day is spent in front of a roaring fire, enjoying the peacefulness that the holiday brings.
Simple Giving – Taking Back Christmas is a holiday tradition at our church.  We match dollar for dollar every penny spent on Christmas to give to two designated children’s homes in our community.  This year hubby and I will be forgoing Christmas gifts to each other to provide our matching dollars to very needy children in our area.
Simple Shopping – For years we have built our present buying on these three principles.  1) Something they want. 2) Something to read. 3) Something they need. Keeping those three saying in mind we control our spending and gift giving.
Simple Cookies – My girls and I keep our cookie baking to just a couple favorite recipes each.  We look forward to the day we get to spend together more than the actual cookie baking.

As you plan your holiday, I would ask that you dig deep into the memories you cherish and find ways to re-create the feeling of Christmas for your family.
This Christmas season let us try
To do some golden deeds,
To carry someone’s burden,
To help someone in need.
There are always those who need us
As we journey on life’s way,
And the friends we win by helping
Make us richer every day.
So when you see a saddened face
As Christmas time draws near,
Do your best to lift the load
And spread the word of cheer.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite old toys from the 70’s. 
I found most of them on Amazon and since I like to Christmas shop online and beat the crowds I thought I would share them with my readers.
Here is a list of some of our favorite 70’s toys:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Connect Four
Wiffle Ball & Bat
Jumbo Jacks

Slinky
Green Army Men
Giant Pick Up Sticks

Operation Game
Lincoln Logs
Tiddly Winks

Jacob’s Ladder
Pot Holder Loom
Etch A Sketch

Barrel of Monkey’s
Chinese Checkers
Checkers

Tea Set
Cabbage Patch Doll
Radio Flyer Red Wagon

Pedal Fire Engine
Pink Pedal Car
Banana Seat Bike

 

Are you longing for a simpler life?

There is something that happens every spring and I look forward to it with gusto. It is the peaceful sounds of spring that keeps me working toward a simpler life. I want every day of my life to be just like a spring day!

After having the house shut up all winter I embrace a warm spring day, when the windows can be open and all I hear is the sound of spring. 
Right now, as I sit on my porch, cat curled up in the chair, and dog at my feet, the sound of a warm spring day is calming me. The sound of the wind blowing through the tall pines, robins chirping, and the bees buzzing around the dogwood trees brings a smile to my face.
How many times have we busied ourselves so much that we forget to stop and listen to the sounds of nature? I encourage you to stop whatever you’re doing, go outside, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of nature. 
If you are longing for a simpler life, little things like using nature to unwind is one of your first steps to finding balance and peace in your life.
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Is Grape Juice Good For You?

Grape Juice.
Growing up in Pennsylvania my father always had grapes. It wasn’t fall unless you could walk by those vines and pop a handful of concord grapes in your mouth.  The cool sweet insides were like candy and my mouth still waters at the memory!

Now as an adult, with a farm of my own the cooler weather in South Carolina means it is Scuppernong grape time.  With the harvest comes a sweet smell floating around my kitchen that is heaven to the senses.  I have been busy making grape juice, and hubby has a batch of wine brewing, but what pleases me the most about a good grape crop is all the benefits grapes have on our overall health. 

 
My father got me hooked on homemade wine when he taught me how to make it as an adult, and I love nothing more than to share a glass with my hubby, but my love for grapes go way beyond a glass of wine.

While hubby loves his wine making, it is my job to serve him healthy meals, and that includes his daily dose of grape juice.
Is grape juice good for you?
Grapes are one of those underutilized fruits in my book. They are packed with wonderful cancer and aging fighting ingredients and are thought to be one of the earliest forms of medicines.
Here are just a few reasons why I love growing grapes and why grape juice will always be in my pantry:  

They have anti-aging benefits

They reduce your risk of food-borne illnesses

They have anti-cancer benefits

They help with brain power

They help with overall bone health

They help reduce asthmatic events

They help with migraines

They help reduce acne

The professionals say that an adult should drink at least 8 ounces a day, and children 6 ounces to reap all he benefits grape juice has.

For us, we wish we could preserve a big bowl to just snack on all year long!  Since grape harvest is coming to a close, we will have to settle for the canned juice I have been busy making!
Do you serve grape juice to your family?
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

What do you want your life to look like?

There is so much pressure put on us at the beginning of each year.  Pressure to get out of debt, to lose 10 pounds, to get a job promotion, or even pressure to spend more time with our families.  It is a wonder most New Year’s resolutions fail within the first 10 days leaving us feel like failures.
I gave up making resolutions a long time ago, and now just strive to find ways to enjoy life each and every day without all the hoopla that is associated with New Year’s resolutions.

This year, besides allowing myself to dream a little about plans for our homestead, I created a storyboard on what I want my life to look like this year. I printed it out and have it hanging where I can see it every day.
This is what my storyboard looks like:

Take more nature walks. – I get a real sense of peace when I go for a nature walk…I call them my meditation walks.
Spend more time with God.  – I am just like everyone else, I tend to let the pressure of life and deadlines get the better of me. He is always there ready and waiting for me…all I have to do is open the door.
Laugh more. – My husband loves to hear me laugh and has often told me I don’t laugh enough.  The strange thing is when I do give in and let myself laugh I feel wonderful.  Laughing is good for the soul.
More beach time. – Two of my very dear friends love the beach as much as I do.  The serenity of sitting in the shade watching the water relaxes me and the time I get to spend with my friends is priceless.
Cover my head more.  – I Corinthians 11:2-16 have been weighing heavy on my mind for years, and after a heart-filled conversation with my husband, I want to honor God by covering my head for him. 
Weed free gardens. – I love the feeling I get when my gardens are weed-free.  The neat and tidy spaces bring me much joy.

As we continue to homestead and face the everyday challenges of raising and growing our own food, I don’t want to lose sight of who I am or how I want to live my life.  The things on my storyboard reflect the things I want to strive for every day.
What would your story board look like?  I encourage you to sit down and create your own storyboard. You may be surprised at what you discover.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

The power of the apron…

There is something special that happens when I open the drawer and pull out my favorite blue apron and tie it snugly around me.  Not sure how I can explain the transformation that  the power of the apron has.  I know once I adorn it the emotion I feel is something like being caught in a time warp.  The yearning for a simpler life mixed with the memories of my mother and grandmothers wearing theirs, always brings me to a place long ago but in this day and time.

Aprons are back! After more than 30 years in the attic, aprons are making a splashy comeback. 
Long forgotten was technology that had just consumed me for the last two hours, and with the house quiet I set to work on my chores. While humming to a song on the radio I started to day dream of what life might have been like for my grandmothers. 
Both of my grandmothers were full-time homemakers and even though my own mother worked I can still see her putting her apron on every Sunday to make dinner.  I tried to imagine what my grandmothers’ days would be like.  Both having large families I am sure it was filled with plenty of laundry, canning, cooking and cleaning.  Would they find it odd, that today most women have to work outside the home, that a home cooked meal consists of pre-packaged quick cooking or that some women hire other women to tend to their children.  Whatever they would think I was thankful my own mother taught me how to take care of my home and family.  In return I have taught my own daughter how to do the same.

If you have a love for aprons like I do, I would highly recommend The Apron Book.  I downloaded it to my Kindle and I enjoyed reading it. It celebrates the great American icon and reminds me of what I loved about the people who wore them.
With all my day dreaming the morning went by quickly and before I knew it I had the house cleaned, wash done, and hung on the drying rack, pumpkin bread made, a pot of soup simmering on the stove, eggs gathered, the chicken house cleaned, and I was off to the feed store for scratch and straw.
I was half way down the driveway before I noticed I still had my apron on.  I had to smile at myself thinking how comfortable I am in it that I didn’t even notice I still had it on.   Wouldn’t I have gotten the funny looks had I left it on while stopping at the feed and grocery store!  It’s a shame that times have changed so much that a woman in her apron is not acceptable attire any longer.

With all the apron talk I got to thinking that is time for a new one so I dug around in my fabric stash and found just the right pattern for a new one. I might just go cut it out right now and unleash the power of the apron.
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This post is linked up to: 

Simply Living Simply, Nifty Thrifty Things, A Proverbs Wife
The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Mamma,  Pursuit of Functional Home
The Time Warp Wife, A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Thankful Homemaker
Raising Homemakers

The HomeAcre, Somewhat Simple, Frugal Days
Simple Saturdays, Mama Gab, Sunny Simple Life

Self-Sufficient Homesteading – Realizing a Dream

Do you dream of owning your own homestead?  A place where you can grow your own food, raise your own animals and stop being reliant on those big-box stores.
From our own experience I can tell you that with some careful planning and modest investment almost anyone can turn that dream into reality.

Whether you live in the city, the country, or in an urban environment you CAN live a self-sufficient homesteading lifestyle.
Your very first step is to have a general idea of what you want.

Do you want to grow your own food?
Raise your own livestock?
Make homemade old-fashion meals?
Spend more quality time with your family?
Do you want to generate your own energy?
Work from home?

Knowing where to start can sometimes be overwhelming; especially if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck, spending most of your time in a cubicle.
Start today by focusing on survival rather than consumerism. Look at your current living conditions.  Where does most of your food, shelter and energy come from? Look for ways you can start providing some of life’s most fundamental necessities yourself.
For big results here are some great ways to start small:

Start line-drying your laundry
Plant raised beds or container gardens.
Learn to save seeds.
Start with a couple backyard hens or meat rabbits.
Learn to compost and add great nutrients to your gardens.
Learn to cook wholesome old-fashion meals.
Learn to make your own cleaning supplies.
Learn to can in-season fruits and vegetables.

The best tip I can give anyone wanting to start living a self-sufficient homesteading lifestyle is to become a producer, not a consumer. Learning ways you can take care of your family is the best way to reduce your cost of living and increase your self-sufficiency.
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Easiest Vegetables to Grow

If you are new to gardening choosing what to grow the first time can be overwhelming!  Nothing will discourage you more than planting a garden and have it not grow.

Be assured that we all were in your shoes at one point!  Over the years, I have learned that no matter what you do there are a few vegetables that anyone can grow with great success. 
But first…there are a couple things you need to do before you put one seed in the ground.

Test your soil. – Often people think they don’t have a green thumb, but it could be bad soil. Adding the right nutrients to your soil will always ensure you have a successful garden.  Over time, you can continue to improve your soil by adding organic fertilizers and compost, but this very first soil tests in vital for a healthy crop.
Figure out your growing season. – Know what your predicted last frost date is and what growing zone you live in. Most seed packets will tell you when to plant according to your last frost date.

After you have amended your soil, and you know your last frost date, you are ready to plant your first garden with these easiest vegetables to grow.
Here is a list of fail-proof veggies to plant:

Early Spring Planting

A blend of salad mix lettuces and other salad greens are a must.  Plant small patches a couple weeks apart to have fresh greens for months.
Potatoes grow from sprouting spuds and can be found online or at your local garden center. Mulch is a potatoes best friend! Keeping your potatoes hilled and covered in straw will always produce a good crop.
Radishes are easy to grow and they take just 20 days to reach full size.

Late Spring Planting – Plant after your last predicted frost date.

Green beans adapt well to any soil conditions.
Cherry tomatoes and a slicing tomato like “Early Girl” are good choices for a first-time gardener.  Tomatoes like to be watered at the ground level. Water deep to encourage good root development to help support the vines as they mature.  Place a tomato cage over your plant at an early age.  If you like basil, it is easy to grow and loves to be planted next to tomatoes.  The basil deters bugs and adds a nice flavor to the tomatoes.
Summer squash is always a hit!  Plant at least three plants for good pollination and start getting creative on ways to cook it…you will have plenty!
Cucumbers if given enough water will grow like weeds. It is not summer around here if I don’t have a big jar of Refrigerator Pickles going.

Start planning your garden now…and don’t forget to test your soil!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list of some of my favorite canning supplies:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

 Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, 21.5-Quart
 7 Piece Home Canning Set
 Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving 

 Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
 Ball 8-Ounce Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands
 Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands

 Tattler Reusable Wide Mouth Canning Lids & Rubber Rings
 Grips Food Mill
 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

The Look of Today’s Homesteader

Are you drawn to a simpler way of life?  If so, you are like so many Americans tired of the super highway they call life and  those that are embracing the homesteading movement is in full force!

Gone are the days when everyone is looking to climb the social ladder. Now, many are learning to live on less and gaining a deeper satisfaction of being able to take care of themselves.
I remember when I was still working I spent my days dreaming about hearing chickens clucking and was not measuring my success by the size of my office. All I ever wanted was to be a homesteader/homemaker and got excited about getting my hands dirty and returning to my roots. 

When we think of homesteading we typically think of the pioneers. They lived in areas far away from formed communities and were forced to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. Today homesteaders can live in the city or the country and homestead anywhere.  They have backyard gardens, chickens, raise bees, milk goats and gather fresh eggs. They strive to spend more time with their families and are turning their back on stressful living.
What’s different about the look of today’s homesteader lifestyle is you do not need a farm to homestead! All you need is the desire to live simple, learn how to be more self-sufficient and provide your family with healthy alternatives to the pre-packaged lifestyle you are accustom too.
Today’s homesteader is taking the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

They are cooking from scratch with foods that have a story.  – Potatoes from their garden, eggs from their chickens, and meat from their rabbits….they know where their food comes from.
They are finding value in becoming a skilled homesteader or homemaker.  – Learning to do for them instead of hiring someone to take care of their basic needs. Mending clothes, giving haircuts, repairing instead of replacing and changing their consumer-driven mindset to reuse…recycle… ore make do.
Loving their homes. – Finding joy in snuggling in front of a fire with a good book, taking a stroll through the woods, playing games with their children and relying on entertainment that keeps them home and saves them money.

So are you ready to give homesteading a try? Take a walk out your back door and see what changes you can make to start a garden, add some backyard chickens and get in touch with the simpler side of you!
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list of some of our favorite homesteading tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

Old-time Planting Lore

We are about eight weeks away from actually planting anything in our South Carolina garden, but I am already getting excited about seeing little green sprouts popping up all over.

There is something magical that happen in the spring, things that I can count on every year. The birds sing louder, the sky seems bluer, the grass is  greener and I can count on getting get spring fever every January.
I have an old book that I love to look at every winter, and I especially pull it out when I am planning my gardens. My favorite part of the book is reading about old-time planting lore. 
How many of these old-time planting lores have you heard of?

Plant corn when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear.
Sprinkle plants with wood ashes to keep the bugs off.
Bury a piece of rhubarb in the row when planting cabbage to protect it from club root.
To keep cabbage heads from splitting, give each young plant a half-twist in the ground.
When planting corn, be generous. “One for the woodchuck, one for the crow, one for the slug, and one for me.”
Plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day for the blessing of the saint himself on your entire garden.
Plant beans when the elms leaves are as big as a penny.
When you see growth on green ash, grapes and oaks, it is safe to plant tender vines, annuals and perennials.
Plant beans on Good Friday.

These are a few of my favorites and what is so special about them is I remember my dad telling me some of these as I was growing up and learning how to garden.
Do you plant your garden with any old-fashion folk lores in mind?  I would love to hear them!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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Couldn’t have asked for anything better…

…then to have the best neighbors ever! When we moved to the country two years ago we had no idea what our closet neighbors were going to be like.  They had no neighbors before we bought the land next to them and we were sure they were not going to be happy to have their solitude invaded.

Low and behold we hit the jackpot because they are wonderful.  After months of searching for tractor parts for hubby’s tractor and some guidance from the neighbor to make sure what I had found would work with the tractor, I finally found the pieces he needed and was able to surprise him with the help of the neighbor for his birthday.

Thanks to the help from the boys next door hubby had a great birthday this year and I just love that the front field could finally be mowed down all nice and neat.

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Homemaking

The Clothesline Revolution

As a child, I have fond memories of running between the lines of clothes drying on my Grandmothers clothesline. My grandmother lived on a busy street, so we often were confined to the side yard while my mother visited with her in the kitchen that overlooked the yard. To this day when I drive past the place where her house once stood, I still have vivid memories of her clothes poles and playing in her side yard.

As I got older wash day became a chore, and my memories switch to a wringer washer and clothes baskets full of wet clothes waiting to be hung. I remember thinking how badly I wished my parents would buy one of those fancy automatic washer and dryers like I saw at my friends house. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that my Mother finally got a shiny new washing machine.
It amazes me how sixty years ago it wasn’t uncommon to see clothes line-drying in every back yard, but since 1940 when clothes dryers became available that nostalgia symbol has slowly died. Today many subdivisions and communities prohibit the use of clothes lines. The organization Laundry List is lobbing for the “Right to Dry” with the hope that no matter where you live you can line dry your clothes if you choose. Those of us that are able to use clothes lines are opting to conserve energy by bringing this old-fashion household chore back outside.

As the clothesline revolution makes a comeback, people are now connecting that household chore to simpler times. I look forward to the few minutes I get to connect with nature and breathe in the smell of freshly laundered clothes while taking in the sounds of the nature around me. I look at line drying as my way of helping the environment while it keeps me connected to a simpler way of life.

I finally found heavy duty clothespins.
I’ve been line drying clothes for years, and have gone through many different styles of clothespins. From plastic, to peg, to cheaply made China pins, and no matter which ones I bought, I never could find any heavy duty clothespins that would hold up to the wind we get here on the farm. My clothes would always end up on the ground. Since I was introduced to these hand-made heavy duty clothes pins I don’t have to worry about anything ending up on the ground!

 
I was surprised to read that most households clothes dryers account for 5% of their energy cost and if they’d switch to line drying clothes and washing in cold water the savings could be remarkable. Do you want to see how much you can save by line drying your clothes? Check out laundrylist.org. I’m saving almost $500 a year by line drying and washing in cold water.
How much can you save?

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
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A walk through my kitchen

Welcome to my kitchen.
The garden is bursting, summer picnics are well under way, and I find myself spending a good deal of time in the kitchen. Good thing it is my favorite room of the house and I enjoy cooking so much, or I would be feeling trapped right about now. 
I think my kitchen shows more of my personality than any other room in the house, so today I wanted to take you on a short walk through my kitchen. 

There has been plenty going on and more than enough dishes being washed, but for today I cleaned it up a bit and made sure it was at its best for a little show and tell. 
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I don’t know about you, but I love going on house tours and I love going for walks in town at night so I can see in every one’s window. I know it sounds a bit creepy, and I am not a peeping Tom I just love seeing the cozy and warm look of a family home through a window in the evening. 

It is not night time, but the middle of the afternoon, and I have just cleaned up from canning peaches. I have one batch on the counter cooling, and another in the canning kettle on the stove. I also just got done making a batch of hummingbird food and its cooling on the counter waiting to go in the refrigerator.  The floor is still sticky and needs a good mopping, but since you cannot see sticky I felt it was all right to take you on a tour. 
So please come on in and welcome to my home.

You can enter my kitchen from the side door or through the back French doors, but for today you are walking past my laundry area and pantry on the left. What you see peaking out of the pantry door (which I didn’t know was there until I looked at the pictures) is my apron hanging on a hook on the backside of the door. 

This is my message board, that I painted with chalkboard paint to cover the hot water heater door. It is a great place for my grandchildren to hang their artwork and learn how to write their numbers and letters when they are visiting Grandma’s. It is just my collection of crazy things I love to hang onto.

 My kitchen is gallery style that opens up into the living room to give us a open floor plan.  I love that I can talk to my family even if I am working in the kitchen.

I don’t have a dishwasher so I spend a lot of time gazing out this kitchen window.  What you can’t see it that it over looks three bird feeders, a hummingbird feeder and my flower/herb cutting garden.  I am glad you can not see it right now since it is being over taken with weeds and is in desperate need of some TLC.

This was not a very pretty angle but I had to point out something you might not see.  If you look in the upper left hand corner, on top of the highest cupboard you will see a little black ear sticking out.  That would be Oscar our cat!  I have trained him not to walk on my tables but I have never been able to break him from jumping up on the counter and on top of the refrigerator and then up to his favorite sleeping spot.  

As you pass through my kitchen you come right to my family table.  My farmhouse table is my favorite part of this room.  I have always felt it important that my table fit my whole family.  So far it has been plenty big enough for my adult children, grandchildren, hubby and myself.  We have our third grandchild on the way, so soon we will have to squeeze back in the high chair.  Family dinners are important to us so this big table is perfect!

The two stools I keep at the bar make a great place to enjoy a quick cup of coffee or a great place my granddaughters can stand and watch me cook. 

 

And finally a peek into my antique cupboards collection.  I love old stuff and these antique cupboards store an array of goodies.  The first one, with open shelves, is filled with my canned produce and this Hoosier cupboard stores my table clothes, place mats, a set of Christmas dishes along with an assortment vases and candles I use throughout the year.
So there you have it a walk through my farmhouse kitchen…Tracy style.  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to you coming back again for a visit!
I am anxious to hear what your favorite part of your kitchen is, please tell me!
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

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10 Things You Should Never Throw Away

If you’re like me, you have a drawer or cupboard overflowing with extra jars, containers and bottles.  In my home, we live by the old-fashion philosophy of REUSE, RECYCLE and MAKE DO, so when it comes to throwing away perfectly good containers, I always think twice.

Go to that dreaded container cupboard …you know the one …the one that is bursting at the seams and ready to spill out when you open the door.  Take a good look at what’s inside and challenge yourself to get creative, there are so many useful ways to use your collection.
Consider some of these possibilities:

Ice Cream Buckets – I never throw this size container away, it so versatile and can be used for so many things! My favorite use is to hold all my cookie cutters. They are perfect for just about anything. Visit Craft Alternative to see how Mod Podge can even make an ice cream container look pretty.
Old Canning Jars – They can be used for storing anything and not just in the kitchen. My favorite one are the old blue ones I find at yard sales. As soon as I come home from the grocery store I pour anything that comes in a box into an airtight glass jar. My dream is to have a collection like this one I found on Apartment Therapy!
Baby Food Jars -My all-time favorite way to use baby food jars is to paint the lids with chalkboard paint. They are the perfect size to store dried herbs. The DIY Mommy has step-by-step instructions on how to recycle baby food jars.
Cat Litter Buckets – These rank right up there with the ice-cream buckets, but I tend to use these more in the barn.  They are great to store bird seed, lime or anything else that usually would come in a bag. My hubby was all over all seeing all the different ways he could use these buckets on makezine.com.
Tin Cans –We don’t have many cans come into our home anymore since I home can just about everything, but when they do I love to dig out the contact paper and spray paint and make them beautiful! I love to bring flowers inside and found some great inspiration to decorate my cans at craftdayisthebest.com. 
Holiday Popcorn Tins – Each of my grandchildren have their own can.  I painted the top of the lid with chalkboard paint and wrote their name on it.  They all know that whatever is in that can no one else can play with.  The contents are always a secret to everyone but the can owner.  They love it! Don’t you just love how Crafting Rebellion Mod Podged their tins with paper napkins in the picture above?
Plastic Containers – I am not a big fan of using plastic containers for food storage, but I do use old cottage cheese containers for many other things.  I have covered the outside with contact paper and use them all over my house.  On my desk, by my sewing table, and even on my washer to collect loose change.  The possibilities are endless. Who would think a trashed yogurt container could make this lovely little thread hold in the picture above I found over at A Petite Cottage.
Parmesan Cheese Containers – My all-time favorite use for these containers are to catch butterflies.  I take the snap lid off so the holes are open and hand them to my grandkids. They are also great for anything that you might just need a “dusting” or a “sprinkling” of.  I always have one under my sink filled with baking soda for quick cleanups or pet accidents on the carpet. My favorite carpet deodorizer recipe I found on iamthelady.com  Mix 4 tablespoon of Baking Soda with 10 drops of orange essential oil and store in a clean used cheese container.
Plastic Milk Jugs -When my freezer gets low I fill old milk jugs with water to fill empty holes.  It helps to keep my freezer running efficiently.  We also cut the bottom off and use them to cover tender plants in our garden. We found this idea a few years ago on WikiHow.
Maple Syrup Jug – I just love old syrup jugs…they are so cute I never throw them away. I found a great use for them in my garden.  We turn them into a thumb controlled watering jugs. Found this great idea at FunInTheMaking.net.

I hope you spend some time in your container cupboard and get creative with your collection. A true homesteader reuses, recycles and makes do!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

5 Re-useable Frugal Living Ideas

Frugal Tips
One of my favorite go-to books is  The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I never get tired of reading through the pages and pages of frugal living ideas. Even though the edition I have is over 15 years old, most of Amy Dacyczyn’s tips still apply, and I am always looking for ways I can incorporate her ideas into my life.  

I have a true frugal spirit, and I am always pushing the limits to make things last longer and to re-use things in unusual ways. I have caught myself standing at the garbage can having a conversation with myself about throwing something away.  I usually end up leaving the item on the counter for 30 minutes until I am sure it can not have another life doing something else.
Here are five of my favorite frugal living ideas from Amy’s book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette.

Toilet Paper Tubes – Use an empty toilet paper roll to gather up the excess electrical cord on kitchen appliances, lamps, and electronics.
Crayon Bits – My grandchildren love to peel the paper off their crayons, so when they break I place a variety of colors in a muffin tin and melt them in the oven. Once they are cooled, I pop them out and have little crayon wafers the kids can use to color with.  They love the unusual shaped crayons and keep them busy for hours.
Mesh Onion Bags –  I cut off the metal clip and knot and tie the end after I place all my saved slivers of soap in it.  My hubby’s hand get pretty dirty after working on the tractor, or in the garden and this makes a great scrubber for those extra dirty hands.
Extra Crib Sheets – Crib sheets work perfect to use as a seat cover in the backseat of your car.  Even though I don’t have children at home anymore, I still have car seats in my car for my grandchildren. It fits perfect for under the car seats and they double as a protector when I take the dog to the vet.
Bacon Plastic – This has to be my favorite tip of all time!  I am a quilter and am always looking for things to make templates with.  The plastic that comes in a bacon package is the perfect thickness for quilting templates.

If you have not read The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I would highly recommend it and if you look for ways to save money and live more simple you will love this book. 
Do you have any unique frugal living tips you can share?
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed
Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark
Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop
with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy
Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-
Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

A day in the life of a Homemaking Homesteader

One of the best things I love about living in the country and on our little farm is that no two days are the same! And I know at the end of the day, when I crawl into bed, I can fall fast asleep because I am exhausted!  Today was one of those days, so I wanted to share with you what a typical day in my life looks like.

My day started pretty early!
4:00 AM – Hubby’s alarm went off an hour early since his job was four hours away, and he needed to be at the job site at 8:30 AM.
4:15 AM – Fresh coffee was ground and on the stove brewing while I made breakfast.  This morning was homemade bread and farm fresh eggs.

4:30 AM – Hubby was out the door, and I sat down to enjoy some quiet time with the Lord before I started my day.
5:00 AM – Breakfast dishes were done; laundry started, bed made, and I dug out a couple boxes of canning jars and reviewed my canning book to refresh my memory on canning potatoes.

5:30 AM – Checked emails, responded to blog comments, paid bills and hung laundry.
6:30 AM – The sun was up, so I went to the mailbox and took a short walk before it got too hot.

7:30 AM – Pigs, rabbits and chickens were fed and watered for the day.
8:00 AM – I weeded the flower garden and planted three new bushes.
9:00 AM – 1:30 PM – Mowed grass and ran weed eater.  (We have a large yard, and it usually takes five hours to mow but I mowed some last night.)

1:30 – 2:00 PM – Dug half of a row of potatoes, washed and cleaned them outside before bringing them in the house to clean up good.
2:00 – 3:00 PM – I was pretty hot, so I took a break to shower, eat lunch and rest before starting on the potatoes.
3:00  – 4:30 PM – Worked on getting the potatoes in the pressure cooker. With the leftover potatoes, I diced them up and flash froze them for hash browns for the winter.

4:30 – 5:15 PM – While the pressure cooker was doing its magic I swept the floors, washed dishes, took the clothes off the line and put them away.
5:15 – 6:00 PM – The stove was finally free so I made supper and cleaned the kitchen back up after supper.

6:00 – 6:45 PM – Gathered eggs, fed the pigs and planted late cucumbers in the fall garden. Then I had to take another shower thanks to two very messy pigs who like to jump in the fence and splatter me with pig muck!
6:45 – 8:00 PM – Computer time…blogging, emails, social media.
8:00 – 9:00 PM – Relax with a needlepoint project I am working on.

9:00 PM – Bedtime…I know it is very early, but after watching the sunset for a few minutes I decided I got up early so I could go to bed early!
I am not sure if my day as a Homemaking Homesteader is much different from yours, but it is a life I love and look forward to repeating each and every day I wake up!
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Here is a list of some of our favorite Homesteading Tools and Resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

Mann Lake HK110 10-Frame Traditional Basic Bee Hive Starter Kit
Greenland Gardener Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

Backyard Homestead Guide To Raising Farm Animals

Raising Healthy Honey Bees
National Geographic Guide Medicinal Herbs

Seed Saving for Vegetable Gardeners
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
Two Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Homemaking the old fashion way

Old fashion cleaning tips
I have to admit I like to clean! There is only one job I am not too fond of, and that is dusting! Right now my granddaughters are young enough that I have made a game out of dusting, so until they get old enough to know it’s not a game they do it for me.

For me I do not look at homemaking as endless hours of drudgery, I see it as a domestic art that I enjoy! Many women from long-ago also took pride in their homes and worked hard to keep them fresh and sparkling clean. I thought it might be interesting to do some research and find out what women of our past used to keep their homes clean. What amazed me in my research about homemaking the old fashion way was that many of the things they used to clean involved no chemicals or harsh detergents.
I found many of these old fashion cleaning tips in the book, “My Favorite Yankee Miracles” by the editors of Yankee Magazine.

Window washing – When you are drying freshly washed windows use vertical strokes on the outside and horizontal strokes on the inside. That way if you leave any streaks you can tell if they are in the inside or outside.
Wall washing – Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a mild soap like Ivory liquid to a pail of warm water.
Grease spills on wooden floors – Pour cold water on it right away. The grease will congeal before it has time to penetrate the wood.
Furniture wax – Shoe polish is a wonderful way to wax wooden furniture. Shoe polish makes an excellent touch-up for covering nicks and scuffs on your furniture.
Dusting – Pour 1/4 cup lemon oil (found at hardware stores) into 1 pint of hot water in a bucket. Soak four- or five pieces of cheesecloth squares in the mixture. Wring out the cheesecloth and hang them in a cool, dry place for 24 hours. These make perfect pre moistened dusting cloths.
Spilled candle wax – To remove candle wax from woodwork put ice cubes in a plastic bag and hold against the melted wax. Once the wax is frozen it will be easy to scrape or chip off.
Polishing silver – Stand silver in an aluminum pot and fill to cover with boiling water. Add a heaping tablespoon of baking soda. Always test this method on a small piece of silver before proceeding. Do not use on silver that has a lacquer coating.
Cleaning brass – Paint on a good layer of ketchup and let sit overnight. Wash and dry to a nice shine.
Clean toilets – Pour 1/4 cup of bleach in the toilet and let sit for 15 minutes. Scrub the inside of the bowl with an ordinary toilet brush before flushing away.
Deodorize a garbage can – Wash it with a solution of 1/2 cup borax and a bucket of warm water. After can is washed, and dry sprinkle borax in the bottom of the garbage can to fight odors.

We always had bleach, borax and Murphy’s Oil Soap, and that is all we ever used. To this day I still do not buy cleaners and the only thing I use more of than what my mother did was baking soda. I use that in all my cleaning from bathrooms to my kitchen sink and even in my laundry soap.
Are there any old-fashion cleaning tips you learned from your mother or grandmother that you still use today?
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed
Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark
Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop
with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy
Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-
Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Spaghetti Sauce Canning Recipe – Step-by-Step

Canned spaghetti sauce recipe.
We had a wonderful blessing this weekend; we were given four bushels of tomatoes! After being disappointed in our tomato harvest from our own garden, these unexpected tomatoes were welcomed with opened arms. You will not get one complaint from me about having to do them all in a couple days…they were a God sent surprise.

I have been canning spaghetti sauce for years, and almost can do it in my sleep, so I wanted to pass on a step-by-step guide for those of you just starting out canning tomatoes. This spaghetti sauce canning recipe has been passed down through three generations of my family and still is in its original form. Enjoy!

Step #1 – Read the recipe and gather your supplies to be certain you have everything.
Step #2 -Wash and visually examine your canning jars and lids. You are looking for cracks and chips that would prevent them from sealing properly or cause breakage during the canning process. This recipe makes 12 quarts.
Step #3 – I have found using tomatoes that are at their peak give this sauce the best flavor. Wash and core 1/2 bushel of tomatoes.

Step #4 – Using a food mill puree the tomatoes, separating the seeds and skin from the pulp. You will be only be using the pulp for this recipe. Add the sauce to 21 quart canner.

Step #5 – Using a food processor puree 4 medium sweet peppers, 2 hot peppers, 3 large onions and 2 heaping tablespoons of chopped garlic. Add peppers, onion and garlic mixture to pureed tomatoes.
Step #6 – Stir in 2 cups of oil, 14-6 oz. cans of tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, (we like our sauce a bit sweeter, so I increase this to 2 cups), 1/2 cup salt, 3 tablespoons of sweet basil and 4 tablespoons of oregano.
Step #7 – Bring sauce to a hard boil and simmer uncovered for one hour or until desired thickness.
Step # 8 – Start preparing your boiling-water canner. Fill your canner 2/3 full with water and bring to a simmer. Fill a tea pot or have another source of boiling water ready and available for Step #13.
Step #9 – When sauce is 15 minutes from being done place lids and bands in a separate pan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and then shut off the pan, leaving the water covering the lids and bands.

Step #10 – While the lids are heating up, heat your jars. You can either do this in your dishwasher by running them through a hot rinse or place your jars in the oven and set the temperature for 170 degrees. Once your oven reaches 170 degrees leave them in for 5 minutes and then shut off the oven and leave the door closed.

Step #11 – Remove a jar from your oven and carefully fill spaghetti sauce into the hot jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Run a nonmetallic spatula between the sauce and the jar to release any air bubbles.
Step #12 – Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place hot lid and band on jar and tighten.
Step #13 – As each jar is being filled, set it onto the elevated rack in your boiling water canner. Once your canner is filled lower the rack and add boiling water so the water level is 1 inch above the top of the jars.
Step #14 – Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes. Start timing once you see a steady boil.
Step #15 – When processing time is complete, turn off the heat and remove the cover. Remove jars from canner and place on a towel to cool. Let jars cool for 12 to 24 hours.
Step #16 – After jars are cooled, check lids for seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down they have sealed, if it flexes it does not have a proper seal and store in refrigerator and use within 5 days.
This has been my families favorite spaghetti sauce for years and I hope if you give it a try it will become one of your favorites as well!
 
Are you new to canning or just want to learn how you can save money and preserve your own food? I highly recommend At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond.

Click here to visit At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond.
Canned Spaghetti Sauce 2014-08-03 15:24:37 Yields 12 Homemade canned spaghetti sauce.

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Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1/2 bushel ripe tomatoes 2 hot peppers 3 large onions 4 medium green peppers 2 heaping tablespoons chopped garlic 2 cups oil 1 1/2 cups sugar 14 - 6 oz. cans tomato paste 1/2 cup salt 3 tablespoons sweet basil 4 tablespoons oregano
Instructions See step-by-step instructions above recipe.
Our Simple Homestead http://oursimplehomestead.com/
Here is a list of some of my favorite Canning Supplies:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

 Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, 21.5-Quart
 7 Piece Home Canning Set
 Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving 

 Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
 Ball 8-Ounce Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands
 Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands

 Tattler Reusable Wide Mouth Canning Lids & Rubber Rings
 Grips Food Mill
 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

How to Make Homemade Hairspray for Pennies

I love finding ways to make over some of my favorite health and beauty supplies. My latest quest was eliminating hair spray from my monthly grocery bill.  I never dreamed it would be so easy and the results would work so well!

For just pennies, I was able to cross one more item off my list of things I am doing to Learn to Live Without Walmart. Plus, when I looked at the list of ingredients in my old time favorite brand of hairspray I was sadden to think I had been spraying all those chemicals in my hair for years.
These were the ingredients in my favorite brand:
Hairspray Ingredients: SD Alcohol 40-B, Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, VA/Crotonates/Vinyl Neodecanoate Copolymer, Octylacrylamide/Acrylates/Butylaminoethyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Aminomethyl Propanol, Lauryl Pyrrolidone, Methyl Gluceth-20, Cyclopentasiloxane, Masking Fragrance.
So for just a few pennies for a 16 ounce spray bottle I still can get my hair to stay where I want it and I am no longer spraying garbage in and around my head.
How to make homemade hairspray:

1.5 cups distilled or boiled water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon of vodka 

Instructions

Boil water and dissolve sugar in it.
Allow to cool to room temp and add alcohol.
Store in a spray bottle.

I have been extremely happy with the results of this makeover product; I just wish I had tried it years ago!
 

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

6 More Ways to Tighten Your Budget

Frugal Tips to Tighten Your Budget.
Have you ever thought that there must be more you can do to tighten your budget?  If you are like me I know I do all the normal things like using coupons, unplug unused appliances, get rid of the cable and grow my own vegetables, but I still think there must be more I can do.

Since we are a few weeks away from taking our two income family down to a one I needed to make sure I am doing everything I can to be a good financial officer when it comes to our monthly income.  My hubby works long and hard to provide for us so I want to make sure I am doing everything I can on my end.
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I have had a frugal spirit for years, so all the normal money saving tips and ideas I already have in place.  So I sat down and thought long and hard about all the things we do on a monthly basis and where else I might be able to cut back.
I was able to find six more things I can do to save a few extra dollars each month.

Rewards Credit Card – We do not use credit cards but if I wanted to enjoy an evening out or an overnight stay I was going to have to find a way to pay for it. We switched our emergency credit card to one that pays us rewards in restaurant gift cards and free hotel stays, so now if I want to do something special I will use the points from our rewards card.
Trash Bags – I stopped buying paper products years ago but still bought toilet paper and trash bags, until the other day when I noticed how many 50# feed bags I go through in a month. They can easily be used as trash bags and since we recycle, burn papers and compost we don’t thrown anything messy in the trash so these bags can be re-used a few time before they need replaced.
Hello Library – Even though I love my Kindle books if I go to the library I can borrow for free…and that is a no brainer.
One Trip Shopping – Planning and organizing everything I need for the week into one day will be a challenge, but in the long run it will save gas and wear and tear on my car.
Cutting More of the Electric Bill – There are still things I can do to lower our electric bill.

Turning the AC down or off at night and use an energy fan
Listen to the radio when I am on my computer instead of turning Pandora on through the TV.
Air dry my hair

Bake Once a Week – Plan ahead and bake all bread and desserts in one day will save a great deal of propane by not heating up the oven each time. 

What I don’t want is for us to feel we are depriving ourselves by tightening our budget, so if I can save even a few more dollars each month it will free up the extra money to spoil ourselves on something frivolous every once in awhile.
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed
Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark
Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop
with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy
Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-
Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

5 Steps to Happy Homemaking

I wake up every day thankful God made me a woman and I take my role as a homemaker seriously. I have a real sense of accomplishment and contentment attached to doing the work God put me on this earth to do. 

Whether you work from home, are a full-time mother or work for someone else there are ways you can approach your role as a homemaker with a happy heart.
I can tell you first hand it’s not always easy. I have been a homemaker in one sense of the word for over 35 years and as long as I approached my responsibilities with a joyful heart the actual day-to-day work was easy.
I would love to say that the classy dressed, apron laden; white picket fence of June Cleaver was my style, but I am more of the Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies (without the black gold of course) kind of woman.

Some days I feel like I am running around like Granny did and not at all organized and calm like June Cleaver was.  I remember as a young mother I always felt rushed, overwhelmed and disorganized. I wish I knew then what I know now and those early years of raising children would have been easier.
I hope by sharing some of the things I’ve learned will help you approach your job as a homemaker with more joy.

Get Up and Get Busy – Get up before anyone else and take 15 minutes to be alone. Write down a short list of what you hope to accomplish that day. Being organized and in control of your day will ensure your day goes smoother.
Be Realistic – Depending on the season of life you’re in don’t put unrealistic expectations upon yourself. If you have toddlers, your laundry’s is never going to be done, and if you have teenagers, there will always be clutter. A home isn’t measured by how clean it is but by how much love is in it.
Stop Comparing – No two homemakers are alike. We all have different skills and talents. You may not have the cleanest house, but you always have a healthy dinner on the table. Your laundry basket may always be full, but your garden is always plentiful.  Embrace your God given talents and don’t worry about the rest, there is no one-size-fits-all definition to homemaking. And by all means take the time to look for ways to accomplish your goals even if it means you need to invest in a bread maker so you have homemade bread in the house. I often use my bread machine when I am short on time and ever feel bad about it. Warm fresh bread is still wonderful even from a bread maker.
Forget the “Only If’s” – Stop wishing for things you think you need or things that would make your life better. Live for today and be thankful for what you have and stop living for the “only if’s!”
Take care of yourself – It’s the little things during the day that can keep a smile on your face. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of hanging a load of laundry outside while the sun kisses your face or the joy of kneading bread dough with your own two hands. Even lighting a candle in the middle of the day can add a sense of calmness to a busy day.

Take pride in the work you do in your home. Create a warm and inviting space where your family can unwind and shut out the outside world. And above all don’t compare your home or life to anyone else.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

4 Things to Learn from the Amish about Staying Healthy

I have been reading a lot lately about how the Amish are much healthier than most Americans.  They have one of the lowest cancer and autism rates in the nation. It makes me stop and wonder what they are doing that is so different than the rest of the country.
 
Could their stress-free simple lifestyle be the reason?  I would bet to guess that it has a lot to do with it! Whatever it is I know I want to model my family’s life after their wisdom. 
Here are just a few things we are doing the “Amish” way to try to stay healthy:

Know where our food comes from.
We avoid prepackaged and processed food as much as we can. We grow most of our own food using as few chemicals and pesticides as possible. By raising our own meat, we know that our food is natural and GMO-free. We rely on eating food when it is in season and can the excess to eat all year long. We bake and make all we can from scratch.  We have broken our addiction to pre-packaged food.
We try to avoid harmful fats.
I stay clear of using vegetable oil as much as I can and stick to the healthy fats from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. We drink raw milk, butter and eat fresh eggs. I know that the milk we drink is from grass fed dairy and contains a lot of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E, and K2. I bake with lard we process from our pigs and make our own farmers cheese, sour cream and butter from raw milk purchased from a local dairy. (One Ash Plantation)
We stay physically active.
It’s pretty hard living on a farm and not be physically active.  Gardening, cleaning stalls, hauling wood and homemaking is a fantastic exercise program. Even though, we do own cars and don’t walk everywhere like the Amish, our lifestyle keeps us fit and healthy.
Stress-free living.
Experts have linked stress to be the culprit of most health problems. I know that when we moved from the city to the country and eliminated the job stress from our lives our overall health improved.  We have slowed the pace of our life and are living a toxic free self-sustainable lifestyle.

We are always looking for ways to model our lives after the Amish.  I know I will never live without today’s modern technology, but I try real hard to follow their simple way of life to keep my family healthy.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
Here is a list of some of our go-to homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Stanley 34-793 200-Foot Open Reel Fiberglass Long Tape Rule
Poly Garden Dump Cart
Aluminum D-grip Handle No. 14 Grain Scoop 

Classic Flower and Vegetable Tiller
Husqvarna 450 18-Inch Gas Powered Chain Saw
Hercules Post Hole Digger 

Husqvarna Gas Powered Counter Rotation Rear Tine Tiller 
Black & Decker CS1015 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
Long Handle Shovel

How We Live Within Our Means with 5 Simple Questions

Mindful Spending.
There are days when living on a budget can be challenge, and the simple idea of  living within our means is questioned. 
When those times happen I remind myself of these five simple questions:

Is it a want or a need? – I am amazed at how many things I can talk myself out of buying just by asking myself this one question. Most things are not a need, and if I just walk away the want goes away.

Can I find it used? – There are very few things we buy that are not used.  I am a regular shopper at the Goodwill and try hard not to buy things that are not on sale.  We are always looking for a used alternative to anything we  buy.  Hubby’s tractor is a 1950 Ford; we drive used cars, and recycle old pallets for many of our farm projects.

Am I making this purchase out of habit? – Just this week I caught myself filling my cart with things out of habit when I could have easily taken the extra time and make them myself.

Will I still be able to use this item six months from now? – How many times have you found something in your closet or cupboard and not even remember why you bought it? I know I have, but now I think about every purchase and determine if it is important enough for me to spend money on and will it still be important six months from now.

Is it worth going in debt? – All I can say is the answer is always no! The only thing I can ever think of that would be worth going in debt for would be healthcare. If whatever we need is worth buying then is is worth saving for.

I know how hard it can be to stay on budget…I struggle just like the next person! But if you can remember to ask yourself these few questions the next time you go to make a purchase you may be able to walk away and still have money in your pocket.
It is easier to live within your means then it is to blow it all it one quick swipe of a credit card.
What do you do to live within your means? I would love to hear any advice you have!
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Here is a list to some of our favorite self-sufficient and homesteading tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

1500-Watt Portable Generator
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
Century Heating High-Efficiency Wood Stove Fireplace Insert

7 Gallon Rigid Water Container 
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Lamplight 110 Chamber Oil Lamp
Vintage Windup Alarm Clock
The Complete First Aid Kit

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

I finally found heavy duty clothespins

Clothes pins have been around for centuries and have been used for many different things. Here on our homestead they are mainly used for holding clothes to the clothesline. 

I’ve been line drying clothes for years, and have gone through many different styles of clothespins. From plastic, to peg, to cheaply made China pins, and no matter which ones I bought, I never could find any heavy duty clothespins that would hold up to the wind we get here on the farm. My clothes would always end up on the ground.
I was almost at my wits end until I finally found heavy duty clothespins on Amazon that are made right here in the USA!. I was skeptical at first but these have not let me down and I have been using them for a while now!
Even though their main job is to hang clothes, you usually can find one in every drawer in our home.
CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THESE HEAVY DUTY CLOTHESPINS!
Here are a few different ways we use them around our house. 

It’s a perfect clip for an opened bag of pretzels

They make great plant markers when sowing spring seeds

We use them to clip shut an opened vegetable bag in the freezer

I have used them to clip a towel around a grandbaby to use as a bib

They hold hard to hang garments on a hanger in my closet

I have even used them as place settings by writing my guests name on them and clipping them to their glass

And lastly my favorite use, is to hold a cookbook open

What are you favorite way to use wooden clothespins?
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

width=”100″>Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, PrintedDamask Chef Kitchen Apron 
SharkNavigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mopwith Handle
Neat ‘N TidyBucket, 11-Quart
width=”100″>Large Wooden Drying Rack

width=”100″>Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
width=”100″>Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil-Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Pretty aprons for women and the memories they hold

Aprons are back! After more than 30 years in the attic, aprons are making a splashy comeback. 
I have a true love for pretty aprons for women!  I make them, buy them, and seek them out where ever I go.  From kitchen, farm, and garden I find whatever excuse I can to wear one.  
There is something nostalgic about tying one around my waist. It takes me back to the folds of my grandmother’s kitchen.  The smell of almond extract, coffee brewing and the hum of her many fish tanks always bring a smile to my face.  No matter what she was doing, my Grandma Lucille always had a pretty apron on. And we could always count on her having a hankie in her pocket to wipe the noses of one of her many grandchildren.  I believe the power of the apron can have a lasting effect on anyone that puts one on.
That tradition was passed on to my own mother as well.  The memories I have of her pretty aprons surround me. My mother could sew aprons for women without a pattern. Her Christmas aprons were my favorite!
If you have a love for aprons like I do, I would highly recommend The Apron Book.  I downloaded it to my Kindle and I enjoyed reading it. It celebrates the great American icon and reminds me of what I loved about the people who wore them.
As I continue to grow and dream about my apron collection, here are just a few I have pinned on my Pinterest Apron Board. Visit my board for the original posts from each of the following pretty aprons for women.  
           
 
Visit my Pinterest Apron Board
 
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This post is linked up to: 

The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Mamma,  Pursuit of Functional Home
The Time Warp Wife, A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Thankful Homemaker
Raising Homemakers, Tilly’s Nest
The HomeAcre, Somewhat Simple, Frugal Days
Simple Saturdays, Mama Gab, Sunny Simple Life

Skin Care the Old Fashion Way

Old Fashion Skin Care.
I smile each time I take a trip to the drug store and pass the isle that contains all those high priced skin care products!  I have learned over the years that everything I need for skin care the old fashion way can be found right in my kitchen, and I don’t need any of those overpriced harmful chemicals to take care of my skin.

I am a very simple country girl who does not wear much makeup, and am not prone to primping in the bathroom for hours on end, but I do like clean skin and make a point to keep it as healthy as I can.
Here are a few of my simple old fashion skin care tips:

Sea salt makes a great mild abrasive and makes a wonderful body and facial scrub.
A used tea bag works as an astringent to tone your skin.
Honey and oatmeal combined clears away dead skin and leaves your face smooth and soft.  Grind two tablespoons of rolled oats in a blender, and then add two tablespoons of honey to make a face wash.
All you need is an egg to combat dry or oily skin.  Egg yokes help dry skin, while the egg white helps with oily skin.
Vegetable shortening makes a great hand moisturizer and works great to soften tough, dry heels.  Rub shortening on your heels and put on a pair of socks before going to bed at night. 

Do you have any tried and true old fashion skin care secrets you can share?
 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

A Simpler Way of Life …Day by Day

“The smell of fresh baked bread, a simple walk to the mailbox and laundry drying in the sun are just a few things that keep me grounded to a simpler way of life.”

If you are just embarking on a simple lifestyle I invite you to take a walk through a typical day in my world. 
Before I take you for a walk, let me say that life around our homestead is not always sunshine and roses.  Bills still need paid when money is tight, animals die in your arms, the kitchen floor always needs mopped, the dryer might be running on a rainy day, and I may occasionally convince my hubby to pick up supper on his way home from work. Are we perfect? Absolutely not! But, for the most part we strive to live as simply as we possibly can by relying on God and our own two hands.
Come on in…I invite you to follow me along on a typical day in my world.
5:00 AM – This is my favorite time of the day when the house is quiet and I can concentrate on the day ahead. The smell of coffee brewing and breakfast cooking always reminds me of my mother’s kitchen.  I enjoy getting my hubby ready for work with a hardy breakfast and his lunch packed for the day. It’s the simple things in life that make me smile.

5 Simple Steps to Simple Living
Over the years I have learned to do without so many things, I would consider myself an expert in living a simple life, but lately I have found noise edging its way back in. I had to stop and take a good look at my life and I’ve found five things I could do to bring the simple back into my life.
6:30 AM – After breakfast dishes are done and its time to make beds and take a quick look around to see what needs my attention. Laundry is usually first on the list, followed by my daily step-by-step cleaning routine.

The Clothesline Revolution
As the clothesline revolution makes a comeback, people are now connecting that household chore to simpler times. I look forward to the few minutes I get to connect with nature and breathe in the smell of freshly laundered clothes while taking in the sounds of the nature around me. I look at line drying as my way of helping the environment while it keeps me connected to a simpler way of life.

Daily Step-by-Step Cleaning Routine
I have used the same cleaning method for years and it has worked for me. My goal of every cleaning day is to start and finish one room before moving onto the next.  

Refreshing cleaner recipe using essential oils
Today we all have enough options when it comes to cleaning our homes. The natural cleaning products are very popular, which is why more and more people prefer to save some money and time by making their own supplies. In case you’ve never tried this before, it is never too late to change that. The essential oils play a significant role in many recipes, so now is also the best time to learn more about the individual qualities of each oil.
9:00 AM – By now the chickens are up on the back porch waiting for me to walk them back to the hen house for their breakfast, the cows are mooing to be fed and I can hear the pigs snorting up a storm. Baby chicks are often on my to-do list and need their warm temporary house cleaned. 

5 Tips for Raising Baby Chicks
I would consider us seasoned baby chick growers, since we have successfully raised over one hundred baby chicks within the last couple years.
10:30 AM – Its back in the house to get supper in the crockpot. I cut a handful of fresh mint on my way past the garden to brew a batch of my favorite Meadow Tea and gather eggs from the hen house. Hubby also left me a list of bee supplies he needs ordered and I want to look over my seed order one last time.

How to Make Amish Meadow Tea
Growing up in Pennsylvania fresh mint grew everywhere.  In ditches alongside the road, in gardens, in pots and always in the kitchen gardens of the neighboring Amish women.  
The smell still has a way of taking me back to the days of riding my bike on our dirt road while jumping off and standing on the side as a buggy or car went by.  

Beginner Beekeeping Supply List – Enjoy Honey All Year Long
There aren’t many projects on our homestead that bring us as much satisfaction as our bee hives do.  For a small start-up investment in beekeeping supplies, and the initial hives, this addition to our farm has really paid off.  We have two hives and on average we collect about four to six gallons of honey each year.   

My Favorite Top 10 Planting Companions
It is getting that time of the year!  Spring is just a few weeks away and I am already planning to keep my plants happy by allowing them to buddy up to their favorite friends!
11:00 AM – It is Chicken and Dumplings and Apple Crumb Pie for supper.

Old Fashion Chicken and Dumplings in a Crockpot
With the weather turning colder, it is time to break out some of my all-time favorite old fashion recipes!  I love finding and creating recipes that take only those ingredients that would have been available 100 years ago.  This old fashion chicken and dumplings in a crockpot recipe is perfect!  Its ingredients are ones that any homemaker could make by visiting her farmyard, herb and vegetable garden. 

Old Fashion Apple Crumb Pie
I have been searching for years for an old fashion apple crumb pie that tasted like what I remember my Grandmother making, and I have finally found one! 
12:00 – As I eat lunch I look through a crocheting book for a simple pattern to start teaching my granddaughter to crochet. She is fascinated by my needles, so its time she starts getting some lessons.

Basic Homesteading Skills to Teach Your Children
Children are our future and the homesteading skills they learn from you will help them face the future as we see it. 
12:30 PM – It’s off to my office to get some work done.  Even though my main job is being a full-time homemaker, I still enjoy working a few hours a day as a marketing consultant. Before leaving my office for the day I pull up our Living Without Walmart dream list to see if I can cross anything else off the punch list.  Someday I hope to have every task is checked off. 

Learning to Live without Walmart – A Homesteaders Dream
As I was making mint tea from our herb garden, scrambling eggs from our hens, and frying potatoes from the garden, I was so proud knowing that our breakfast didn’t come from a store, but right from our own backyard.  At the same time I was reviewing our grocery list and dreading the monthly trip into town.  I was tired of spending so much of our hard-earned money and needed to push our homestead to be even more self-sufficient.
5:00 PM – Off to check on supper and the animals one more time before it gets dark. 

How to spend more time with your family
During your life often the things you treasure and hold dear are the relationships you have with your family. Those relationships need to be nurtured to stay strong through lives ups and downs. So it is important that you learn how to spend more time with your family right now.
Like most days here on the homestead my days are filled with projects, gardening, animals and a few hours of office work.  Someone asked me once if I could change one thing about my life what would it be?  I honestly couldn’t think of a thing. I love our life and even with its mild ups and downs we are happy and content living a very simple life. 

Model Yourself After the Amish – Separate from the World
As a non-Amish Christian you may think there is no way you could live and model yourself after the Amish. I am here to show you that even in our very modern world we too can separate ourselves from the world just enough to keep us grounded to a simpler way of life.
If you want some inspiration and want to learn to live a simple life I encourage you to model your daily life and habits after the Amish. You may not fathom living without electric or even driving a horse and buggy, but we have found the simple principles they live by very appealing.

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

How to make homemade bread step by step

How to make homemade bread? It is not as hard as you think! This is my favorite recipe for Honey White Wheat Bread and a step-by-step guide to making your first, hot from the oven, loaf of homemade bread.

There is nothing like the smell of yeast rising or the fresh baked smell of a loaf of homemade bread cooling in the kitchen.  The wonderful smell can take you back to your grandmother’s kitchen or your favorite bakery, but whatever puts a smile on your face, put on your apron and come into my kitchen while I show you how to make homemade bread. 
Honey White Wheat Bread 2014-03-17 17:53:24 Yields 2 A basic simple homemade bread recipe.

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Cook Time
30 min

Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°) 2 cups milk at room temperature 1/3 cup honey 2 teaspoons salt 2 1/2 tablespoons oil 2 cups 100% wheat flour 4 1/2 - 5 cups bread flour
Instructions Directions 1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a separate bowl add 2 cups of wheat flour, salt, honey and oil. Add yeast mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining bread flour, alternating with milk to form a soft dough. 2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a oiled bowl, turning once to oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. 3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll out with rolling pin and roll out any air bubbles, divide dough in half. Shape each into a loaf. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled. 4. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
By Tracy @ Our Simple Life Our Simple Homestead http://oursimplehomestead.com/

Step #1 – In a measuring cup measure 1/2 cup warm water and add the 2 1/2 teaspoons of dry yeast. Let this mixture set for 5 minutes.
Learning to read yeast will come easy once you know what you are looking for. The yeast is ready if you start seeing it foam and form bubbles around your measuring cup. 
If you do not have a thermometer to check the temperature you can sprinkle a few drops on your wrist, much like you would check a baby bottle if a baby could drink its perfect. If your water is too hot it will kill the yeast and your bread will not rise, and if it’s too cold it will not proof.

Step #2 – While your yeast is working, measure the following ingredients into a bowl; 2 cups of wheat flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 4 cups of the bread flour. (Reserve the extra 1/2 to 1 cup of bread flour to add later.)

Step #3 – With your fingertips, lightly oil a measuring cup and then measure out 1/3 cup of honey.  The oil will coat the cup and the honey will slide right out.  Add the honey and the 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the flour and salt mixture. 

Step #4 – I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, with the bread hook attached for this step, but you can use a big wooden spoon and a large bowl. Blend the milk with the flour, salt, oil and honey and then add the yeast.

Step #5 – The mixture will be wet, but at this stage it is important everything gets mixed well before you start incorporating the rest of the flour. 

Step #6 – Once everything is mixed slowly add more of the reserved 1/2 to 1 cup of flour. Stop every few seconds to clean off the side of the bowl to be sure all is mixed. Slowly add the reserved flour a little at a time. You will know you have added enough flour when it’s not sticking to the side of the bowl, and it starts to form a ball. 
If you add too much flour your bread will be dry, not enough and your dough will be too sticky to knead. So again, look for it to come off the side of the bowl and form a ball that can be easily lifted out of the bowl. This step usually takes about 2 – 3 minutes of mixing.

Step #7 – With the remaining flour coat your counter and remove the dough from the bowl. A nicely formed ball that is not too sticky or too dry. You want it to feel slightly tacky.
Step #8 – With the heel of your hands knead the dough from a remaining 5 – 6 minutes. 
To knead the dough, you will want to push it down and out, flattening it in front of you. This process helps stretch the gluten strands in the dough. Fold the top half of the dough back towards you, and press down again with the heel of your hands.

Step #9 – You will know your dough is ready when it is smooth and holds its shape.  You can also test it by poking it, if the indentation fills back quickly, you’re good to go. 

Step #10 – Oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl and then flip it over so the oiled side of the dough is upright.   Cover with a dish towel or plastic warp.

Step #11 – Find the warmest or sunniest spot in your home.  This could be a sunny window, warm stove top or even a spot close by a woodstove or fireplace. 

Step #12 – Depending on the warmth of your home, the first rising process can take anywhere from 2 – 4 hours. You will know your dough has risen enough when it has doubled in size. With a balled fist, gently punch a hole in the center of the dough and remove it from the bowl and place on the counter. 
Cover with a towel and let sit for 5 minutes to rest.

Step #13 – Once the dough has rested, roll the dough into a rectangle and then roll the dough into the shape of a log.

Step #14 – With a knife cut the dough into two equal piece and shape to fit into a two 9 inch greased bread pans. 

Step #15 – Find your houses warm spot again and let your dough loafs rest and rise again until they have doubled in size.  This rise normally takes 1 – 2 hours depending on the warmth of your home. Once they have risen place them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

Step #16 – Cool baked bread on a rack and cover with a damp towel to prevent the crust from getting to hard. 
I bet you can smell it now...the aroma of freshly baked bread, smothered with butter and homemade jams. Just waiting for you to sit down and enjoy the first piece.

How to keep homemade bread fresh longer
Honey Wheat Bread Recipe

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Here is a list to some of my favorite kitchen and baking tools:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

KitchenAid KSM75WH 4.5 Qt. Classic Plus Stand Mixer 
Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor 
Norpro 136 3-Cup Stainless Steel Crank Flour Sifter

Maple French Rolling Pin
Calphalon Nonstick 6-Piece Bakeware Set
(Set of 6) Mixing Bowls

Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set
Pyrex 1118990 3-Piece Measuring Cup Set 
5-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Basic Homesteading Skills to Teach Your Children

Children are our future and the homesteading skills they learn from you will help them face the future as we see it. 

More and more generations are turning back to the skills they learned as children to help them escape the face-paced crazy lifestyle that surrounds them.
I know for a fact, I ran back to the farming and homemaking skills my parents taught me when the world around me was closing in.   I am thankful for those skills and hope I can pass them on to my children and grandchildren.
Forty years ago when my mother was making me cook dinner and do laundry all I could think of was wanting to go out and play, but she knew that the skills she taught me then were the skills that would carry me through life. 

I made it a point to make sure my children had known some very basic homesteading and homemaking skills before I sent them off into the world.  As parents we are never sure we have done the right thing or wished we would have done things different, but the skills I made sure my children learned was one of the things I know I did right.
Make it your goal to teach some basic homesteading skills to your children while they are young and still eager to learn:
For all young girls and boys:

Sewing/Crocheting/Knitting

Start off simple and small.  Find a fun project that your little girl will love to make.  I started my granddaughter off with a simple square quilted baby blanket for her doll crib. It taught her how to cut fabric, to use a sewing machine and how to match colors.

Laundry/Sorting/Ironing/Stain Removal/Drying

Even children as young as 5 can start sorting laundry.  Teaching them how to sort clothes into piles is the first place to start. Teach them how to separate the whites from the colored clothes and the towels from the jeans.  My three-year old granddaughter can fold clothes better than me at times and loves sharing that job with me. 

Cooking/Baking/Meal Planning/Preserving/Reading Recipes

My ten-year-old grandson just got his first kids cookbook and loves to make dinner for his parents.  He is now inspiring to be a famous chef.

Cleaning/Schedules/Bed Making/Organizing/All-natural Cleaners

One of the first cleaning lessons a child learns is to clean their rooms. Take the time to show them a few times the correct way to clean a room.  Help them learn how to organize their toys and make their beds.  These very early lessons will be the lessons that carry them through a lifetime of living.

Gardening/Herbs/Flowers/Lawn Care

Children love to be outside, so make gardening a family affair.  Teach them to tell the difference between a weed and a plant, help them learn where their food comes from and teach them ways they can feed their families by learning how to plant a garden.

Wood/Chopping/Splitting/Fire Starting

Young children may not be able to chop wood, but as they get older, especially boys should all know the basic skills needed to provide warmth for their family. Young children can learn to stack and haul wood…even if its one piece at a time.

Hunting & Fishing/Gun Safety/Woods Survival/Butchering

From an early age, our children and grandchildren have been subjected to chicken butchering, fish cleaning, and hunting safety. Learning early on that every animal on the farm is here for a purpose helps them understand where their food comes from and they respect the life cycle.  Basic small animal butchering was started at the early age of six or seven. 

Basic Animal Husbandry

Even family pets fall under this heading.  Children that learn from an early age what it means to raise an animal will most likely grow up being very capable of raising other types of animals.  Feeding, watering and cleaning up after an animal is a task even the youngest of children can learn.  As they get older allowing them to raise rabbits of chickens teaches them responsibility and helps provide for their families basic needs.

Hand Tools/Basic Maintenance

All children should be taught how to use basic hand tools.  One of the greatest saying my husband taught all of our children was “Righty Tighty…Lefty Lucy”…to this day I can still hear them sing that little tune when trying to unscrew or tighten things with threads. Changing batteries in their toys or learning to use a hammer by building their first project is a great way to start.

Are there any homesteading skills you can add to this list?  I would love to hear what skills you feel are important to teach young children.

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

A Look out my Kitchen Window

Out my kitchen window
Everyday the view out my window looks different.  The sky may be a pretty shade of pink when the sun is about to set or it may be a bright blue sunny South Carolina day. No matter what I see I can’t help but pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It took us so long to get here that realizing we’re living in the country and I see nothing but nature all round brings me joy. 
Cocky calling for his favorite hen
The sweet smell of spring flowers is in the air
Today as I wash a sink full of dishes I can’t help but notice what I hear and not so much what I see.  The rooster is making noise trying to get the attention of his favorite hen, my laundry is flapping in the breeze, the birds are singing and the neighbors cows are mooing. The sounds of the country are as amazing as the sights today!
Enjoying a frolic through the pasture
The strawberry pot is full of blossoms
Not sure what tomorrow will hold, but I can be certain it will produce a beauty all of its own. I spend a good part of my day at this window and each day I am grateful for the view.
We each have a view unlike anyone else…please share with me the view out your kitchen window today!

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Must Have Home Canning Supplies

My home canning supplies list.
I am in the midst of canning season, and while  I was looking through my canning cupboard I realized just how much I have collected over the years. Most of my home canning supplies came from second-hand stores, yard sales or passed down, and I enjoy canning so much I would be lost without some of my tried and trusted supplies. I remember the first-couple years of canning I had to borrow everything from my mother, but over the years I have added to my collection and now have everything I need.
I was very fortunate to grow up watching my Mom can so I had a good idea what I needed, but as I was digging through all my supplies I got to thinking that beginner canners may be at a loss to what they need so I took an inventory of everything I had and compiled a basic canning supply list.
If you are new to canning don’t feel you have to go out and buy everything new. Watch for yard sales and pickup one piece at a time, or better yet go in and share supplies with a friend. Most of these supplies are only used a few times a year so they are perfect for sharing. When I was younger I had a friend that I would can with. Our kids were all the same age so we would plan a day where they could play together while we spent the day in the kitchen. I have very fond memories of those canning parties and would highly suggest new canners look for canning partners. 
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Many of the big box stores carry home canning supplies so you can just about find them anywhere.  I found everything on my list at Amazon just so I could show you a picture of each item, but shop around and don’t be shy about asking seasoned canners if they have supplies they are looking to pass on or no longer use.  Many of my canning tools came from older people who no longer had large families to feed. 
Here is a list of everything in my canning cupboard:
(Our Simple Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.)

 
Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack, 21.5-Quart – I have two canners that get a work out from May – September every year. I can so much that it helps speed up the process by having both of them going at once. This canner holds 7 one-quart jars, 9 one-pint jars or 13 half-pint jars.

 
 
 7 Piece Home Canning Set
It is the little things that makes canning easy and this canning set provides the essentials needed for canning at home. Steel canning rack holds 7 pint- or quart-size jars; sterilizing rack holds 12 lids. Also includes 2 stainless-steel funnels, magnetic lid wand, jar lifter, and cheese cloth.

 
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
I do not know what I would do without my canning book.  I have been canning for years and always refer to my book just to refresh my memory each time I start a canning job. Ball Home Canning Products are the gold standard in home preserving supplies and the experts at Ball have written a book destined to become the “bible” of home preserving.

 
Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
Canning tomato sauce is a big job every year, and I could not do it without my food strainer.  This sturdy one-piece heat resistant hopper, stainless steel screen won’t rust and resists wear. A must for sauce canners!

 
Ball Jar Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and BandsI added these vintage jars just because I love them! Any canning jar will work but I just love this vintage color and ordered some for myself just because I like to make canning fun! This new vintage blue color comes with embossed logos and a brushed silver lid.

 
Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12
Ideal for preserving jams, jellies, sauces, fruit and anything else makes its way to your kitchen. These time-tested sealing compound helps ensure a quality seal with each lid.

 
Ball 8-Ounce Quilted Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 1
Ideal for preserving jams and jellies. I use this size for my fig butter every year. Custom time tested ceiling compound help ensure a quality seal with each lid.

 
Tattler Reusable Wide Mouth Canning Lids & Rubber Rings – 12/pkg
BPA Free! Indefinitely Reusable.  I have been using these reusable lids for three years now and other than the lids that come with the ball jar sets I have not bought a normal disposable lid in years.  I can see where I have saved money over the years by using Tattler Lids.

 
Grips Food Mill
I cannot can enough applesauce to last all year and couldn’t do it without my food mill.  It makes processing warm apples into sauce a super easy job! This food mill includes 3 stainless-steel discs for preparing foods of fine, medium, and coarse textures.

 
Canning Accessories Jelly Strainer Bags
We make a lot of blackberry jam in my kitchen and these jelly bags make straining out those blackberry seeds super easy. This strainer bag has an elastic band around frame opening. Ideal for soups, sauces, jams, and jelly making.

 
Stainless Steel Canning Ladle
A  must for every canner! Dual spouts pour from either side. 3/4 cup with 11-1/2-inch handle. Take the mess out of putting food where you want it to be. Dual spouts pour form either side.

 
Ball Pickle Crisp 5.5 oz. Jar
I wish I could say I have good luck with making pickles crispy, but I just have never had good luck with making them crispy, so I rely on Ball’s Pickle Crisp to help me. One jar makes 80 quarts of pickles. Easy to use measure and add to jar.

 
Ball RealFruitTM Classic PectinI love that they now have a reduced sugar recipes for healthier jam. It has been reformulated for improved flavor and performance. Capture the freshness and flavor of handpicked fruit anytime. Up to 22 half-pint jars per package.

 
23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
The only method recommended safe by the US Department of Agriculture for canning vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. Doubles as a boiling-water canner for preserving fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and salsa; Handy as a large capacity pressure cooker. I have to admit when I first using a pressure canner I was nervous, but ever since I started to can meat it is a must and I could not preserve without it now.For a step-by-step tutorial on using a pressure canner please visit The Homesteading Hippy.

Have I missed anything?  Please share with me your favorite canning tool!
 
—————————— [GARD align=”center”]        This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

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Dreaming big about our Homestead

As I put this year to rest, I have decided not to spend time writing down a list of goals…instead I am allowing myself to dream a little.

Before I started to dream, I had to find a way to get a clearer picture of the dreams I had. I found a great list of questions that helped me define my dreams better.

If money was not an issue, I would: Build hubby a big board-n-batten barn with a Mail Pouch ad painted on the side.
If I didn’t care what people thought, I would: Disconnect the electric and phone line that comes into our home.
If I were sure I’d succeed, I would: Open a farm stand.
If I could be certain it was the right choice, I would: Start milking cows.
If I weren’t worried about the future, I would: Encourage hubby to quit his job and farm full-time.

This was a really fun exercise and it was such a change from sitting down and listing out our goals for the coming year.  What it really did was encourage us to work to make our dreams a reality.
How would you answer these questions?
Signature

 
 
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

The joy of washing dishes

     I remember the day so vividly!
The day I told my children that I was not having a dishwasher installed in the new house becasue I get joy out of washing dishes. The look on their faces was priceless and I could see that each of them was very relieved they no longer lived at home. I also could see the wheels turning in their heads on just how they were going to wiggle their way out of doing dishes after a holiday dinner. It still brings a smile to my face as I think about it.

I have to admit there are very few chores around the house I don’t enjoy, but washing dishes is one of my favorites.
There is something soothing about standing at my sink watching my chickens dig for worms, see the seasons change in my kitchen garden or watch my husband chopping wood. It is a chore that I repeat many times throughout the day. A chore that brings me the most satisfaction when its complete and the one that is always at the top on my to-do-list.
As I was washing dishes this morning I got to thinking about who taught me how to wash dishes? If I think way back I remember standing at my grandmothers sink washing the breakfast dishes as she sat having coffee with my mom and dad. As a child I know my sister and I always had the after dinner chore and I don’t remember drying dishes, but I always remember washing them.
I bet each of us has a system and wash dishes the same way every day!
My washing dishes routine looks something like this:

I fill the sink with hot soapy water.
I put all the silverware in the bottom of the sink to soak while I gather all the glasses to wash.
Next come plates.
And then comes bowls.
I then soak the pans as I wipe down the table and counter tops.
Once I wash the pans I soak the frying pans while I clean the stove top.
After I wash everything and they are in the dish drainer, I clean and dry out the sink.
I never dry my dishes since they can air dry while I work on something else.

How do you wash dishes? Do you do the silverware first or glasses first? Do you do them right after a meal or let them sit until the next day?   I would love to hear your routine!
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This post is linked up to:

Simply Living Simply, Nifty Thrifty Things, A Proverbs Wife
The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Mamma,  Pursuit of Functional Home
The Time Warp Wife, A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Thankful Homemaker
Raising Homemakers

Somewhat Simple, Frugal Days
Simple Saturdays, Mama Gab, Sunny Simple Life

How to Make Hand Lotion – 5 Easy Steps

Homemade Beeswax Lotion.
Living on a farm, and raising our own bees is a dream come true!  I have always wanted to make my own health and beauty products and I am finally able to do it.

Our bee hives multiply every year, and my hubby is able to allow me to have more of the wax each time we can split a hive.  I am finally getting a good supply of wax and I am able to keep my family supplied in lotions and lip balms.
I feel like I am doing something good for my skin when I  use all natural products and it is so easy to make I just had to share how easy it is to make hand lotion.
Learning how to make hand lotion is very simple and with a few easy steps you can make your own lotion as well.  Even if you don’t have your own bees you can easily order beeswax and your other supplies quickly. 
Homemade hand lotion ingredients:

1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Beeswax
1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E Oil
20 drops of your favorite pure Essential Oil

 5 Easy Steps:
Step #1 – In a quart sized jar combine olive oil, coconut oil, and beeswax.
Step#2 – In a small sauce pan add 2 cups of water and then place the jar in the center of the pan.  Turn the heat to medium and heat slowly until all wax in melted.
Step #3 – Once the wax is melted remove the jar from the pan.
Step #4 – Add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil and the Vitamin E oil.  Stir until combined.
Step #5 – Pour into individual containers, and cool until set.
I have found that the shelf life for this recipe is about six months.  It is so easy to make that I make a fresh batch a couple times a year or whenever I run out. 
Please note:  I have linked the ingredients to Amazon in case you would like to buy the ingredients and make your own all-natural homemade beeswax lotion. Enjoy!

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

 
This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?  

5 Homemade Sore Throat Soothers

It happens every year about this time, and as always I am ready with my tired and true homemade sore throat soothers.

I don’t get sick much, but when I do it is usually a sore throat and I am always ready to whip up one of these homemade remedies. I have tried them all, and the one that works the best for me is the Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar recipe. 
The next time you have a sore throat give one of these old-fashion sore throat soothers a try.

Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar – Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup raw honey together and then take one tablespoon ever four hours as needed.
Frozen Pop Ice – Try sucking on a frozen pop ice every couple hours.  The cold ice will numb the soreness in your throat.  This works best for kids.
Cayenne Pepper – Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 1 cup of boiling water; stir well and gargle while the mixture is very warm. This brings more circulation to the sore throat area and helps draws away any infection.
Mustard – Grind on tablespoon of mustard seed and combine with the juice of half a lemon, one tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of raw honey and 1 1/4 cups of boiling water.  Let set covered for 15 minutes, and then use as a gargle.
Warm Compress – Place a warm compress on your neck for 30 minutes every 2 hours.

 Do you have any homemade recipes to soothe a sore throat?  I would love to hear them!

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

5 Tips for Keeping Christmas Simple

I remember as a child, sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for my father to tell us we could come downstairs on Christmas morning.  The anticipation of Christmas was in the air while the smell of coffee, pine, cinnamon and oranges fill our senses.

Those few minutes seemed like hours to four children under the age of ten, but everything was worth it when we got to see the lighted Christmas tree for the very first time.
As a six-year-old, I couldn’t appreciate the hours it took to decorate the tree after we all went to bed, or the sleepless night my parents spent making sure our Christmas morning was special.  But as an adult, I cherish the feeling of Christmas our parents created for us. And even though I cannot recall the gifts under the tree, I do remember the feeling…one I can only compare to the excitement and beauty of the very first snow-fall.
Those simple memories remind me that Christmas is more than presents and parties. It is the anticipation of sharing family traditions, helping those in need and remembering why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.  
At our house, we don’t stress over the perfect gift and we don’t over-extend ourselves financially trying to buy memories.  What we do is look for ways to keep Christmas simple.
Here are a few things we do to keep our Christmas Simple:

Simple Decorations – Long gone are the days of decking every hall in our home.  A few simple decorations are all we need to remind us of this special time of year.  A naivety scene, a poinsettia on the mantel and a very simple Charlie Brown tree decorated with pine cones, cranberries, and popcorn.
Simple Traditions – While we don’t wait until Christmas Eve to put up our tree we do look forward to a Christmas Eve lunch with our children and evening service with our church family. Christmas Day is spent in front of a roaring fire, enjoying the peacefulness that the holiday brings.
Simple Giving – Taking Back Christmas is a holiday tradition at our church.  We match dollar for dollar every penny spent on Christmas to give to two designated children’s homes in our community.  This year hubby and I will be forgoing Christmas gifts to each other to provide our matching dollars to very needy children in our area.
Simple Shopping – For years we have built our present buying on these three principles.  1) Something they want. 2) Something to read. 3) Something they need. Keeping those three saying in mind we control our spending and gift giving.
Simple Cookies – My girls and I keep our cookie baking to just a couple favorite recipes each.  We look forward to the day we get to spend together more than the actual cookie baking.

As you plan your holiday, I would ask that you dig deep into the memories you cherish and find ways to re-create the feeling of Christmas for your family.
This Christmas season let us try
To do some golden deeds,
To carry someone’s burden,
To help someone in need.
There are always those who need us
As we journey on life’s way,
And the friends we win by helping
Make us richer every day.
So when you see a saddened face
As Christmas time draws near,
Do your best to lift the load
And spread the word of cheer.

 
 
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DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?
With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite old toys from the 70’s. 
I found most of them on Amazon and since I like to Christmas shop online and beat the crowds I thought I would share them with my readers.
Here is a list of some of our favorite 70’s toys:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Connect Four
Wiffle Ball & Bat
Jumbo Jacks

Slinky
Green Army Men
Giant Pick Up Sticks

Operation Game
Lincoln Logs
Tiddly Winks

Jacob’s Ladder
Pot Holder Loom
Etch A Sketch

Barrel of Monkey’s
Chinese Checkers
Checkers

Tea Set
Cabbage Patch Doll
Radio Flyer Red Wagon

Pedal Fire Engine
Pink Pedal Car
Banana Seat Bike

 

Will the real honey please stand up

Knowing real honey from fake.
Everything is in full bloom and our bees have been busy making honey. One of my favorite days is when hubby says he is going to go pull honey.
There is nothing like that first taste, or to suck on a piece of honeycomb and extract all the real honey from its waxy centers, it’s like heaven in a bee hive!

I have to admit I have been disturbed to read about the fake honey being sold in stores. Most honey sold in the United States is processed through a major filtration system that removes virtually all of the pollen naturally occurring in the product.
When we have been taught all about all the natural healing properties honey has and how it can fight off disease, it is disturbing to read that manufactured honey is often heated, which can damage some of the natural benefits of using honey.
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If you have a favorite brand, please check and make sure you are serving your family real honey and if at all possible buy honey from a local beekeeper. Most beekeepers have stands at local farmers markets and sell their products in health food stores, so it is readily available.
You can check to see if your honey is real by:

Reading the label. Real honey will have no additives listed in the ingredients list.
Do a dissolving test. In a small glass of water add a tablespoon of honey. If it is fake, it will dissolve in the water. If it is real, it will stick together and sink to the bottom of the glass.

I know our honey is real and love seeing its’ golden glory every time it is pulled from the hives.
If you can not find a local bee farmer you can purchase raw real honey online through Amazon.  
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

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Chicken Scratch Embroidery Apron

I had never heard the term “chicken scratch embroidery,” until last week when I stopped into an antique store and stumbled across two aprons that I feel in love with.

It just happened that the antique booth owner was in her booth and was able to explain to me what the fancy stitching on the front of the aprons were.  She explained that the chicken scratch emboridery was sometimes called Amish embroidery, depression lace or gingham tracks. It made the aprons even more special to think that someone took the extra time to add those finishing touches.  I was very excitied to add these to my apron collection!

What Is Chicken Scratch Embroidery?
Chicken scratch is an easy type of embroidery done on gingham (checkered) fabric, which gives the impression of appliquéd lace. With certain stitches, the thread or floss creates a lacelike design on the gingham fabric. Gingham fabric usually comes in 4, 8, or 16 squares to the square inch. If possible, you want to use gingham fabric with a true square check. Fabric with 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch checks is most often used for chicken scratch. The 1/8-inch gingham is used mainly for small projects – pincushions, jar lids, bookmarks, and sachets. The 1/4-inch is used for larger projects – pillows, quilts, clothing, place mats, and tablecloths.
 

 
 

 
The embroidery on these aprons used the double cross-stitch.
Double Cross Stitch
Work a cross stitch from corner to corner in one square of the gingham. 
Then work a straight cross stitch over this. Remember to do your cross stitches in the same order so all your threads go in the same direction.
 
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Here is a list to some of my favorite homemaking tools and resources:
(Contains Affiliate Links)

Hand Made Amish All Broomcorn Broom
Cotton, Printed Damask Chef Kitchen Apron 
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Vacumm

Cotton Wet Mop with Handle
Neat ‘N Tidy Bucket, 11-Quart
Large Wooden Drying Rack

Cotton/Polyester Blend Clothesline
Whitmor Natural Wood Clothespins, 100 pins
Essential Oil- Beginners Set – Aromatherapy

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

Homemade laundry stain remover

I have had so much fun learning how to make homemade laundry stain remover!  I have replaced so many cleaning products in my home with all-natural or homemade, that I never go down those isles in the grocery store anymore.  I don’t know about you, but those last few isles are the ones that usually racked up my grocery bill and I am glad to walk right past them.  

My kitchen pantry has now become my go-to source for almost any stain my family throws at me.  With a little know-how and a cheat sheet, I keep taped to the back of my laundry room door I can tackle anything. 
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Here is a list of my all time favorite homemade laundry stain removers: 
Fresh Grease = Salt
Salts absorbent quality is the reason you can treat fresh grease. Sprinkle enough salt on the stain to cover the entire spot. When it dries, brush it off, and you will brush most of the stain with it. You can loosen an old stain by rubbing salt into the stain before washing as usual.
Friut Juice or Rust Stains = Lemon Juice
Diluted or straight, lemon juice is a safe treatment for juice or rust stains.
Milk, Blood or Chocolate = Meat Tenderizer
To treat a fresh stain, sprinkle enough tenderizer on the stain to cover it and let it sit for an hour. Brush off the old tenderizer and wash as usual. For a set stain, make a paste of 2 to 3 drops of water and 1 teaspoon of tenderizer and work into the stain. Let it sit for an hour and then wash as usual.
Wine = Club Soda or Seltzer Water
Immediatley pour club soda seltzer over the stain, then blot it with a clean paper towel. Wash as soon as possible,
Soda = Rubbing Alcohol
Soak the affected area immediately in cold water, apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and launder as usual.
Ink or Lipstick = Hair Spray
To get rid of the lipstick stain on the fabric, coat the area with hair spray. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then carefully wipe off the excess spray and lipstick.
Ring Around the Collar = Chalk
When you get those dark lines around the collar of white or light-colored cotton shirts just rub a piece of white chalk into the stain and let sit overnight. Wash as usual the next day. The chalk will absorb most of the stain.
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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.
 Won’t you go visit some?

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What do you want your life to look like?

There is so much pressure put on us at the beginning of each year.  Pressure to get out of debt, to lose 10 pounds, to get a job promotion, or even pressure to spend more time with our families.  It is a wonder most New Year’s resolutions fail within the first 10 days leaving us feel like failures.
I gave up making resolutions a long time ago, and now just strive to find ways to enjoy life each and every day without all the hoopla that is associated with New Year’s resolutions.

This year, besides allowing myself to dream a little about plans for our homestead, I created a storyboard on what I want my life to look like this year. I printed it out and have it hanging where I can see it every day.
This is what my storyboard looks like:

Take more nature walks. – I get a real sense of peace when I go for a nature walk…I call them my meditation walks.
Spend more time with God.  – I am just like everyone else, I tend to let the pressure of life and deadlines get the better of me. He is always there ready and waiting for me…all I have to do is open the door.
Laugh more. – My husband loves to hear me laugh and has often told me I don’t laugh enough.  The strange thing is when I do give in and let myself laugh I feel wonderful.  Laughing is good for the soul.
More beach time. – Two of my very dear friends love the beach as much as I do.  The serenity of sitting in the shade watching the water relaxes me and the time I get to spend with my friends is priceless.
Cover my head more.  – I Corinthians 11:2-16 have been weighing heavy on my mind for years, and after a heart-filled conversation with my husband, I want to honor God by covering my head for him. 
Weed free gardens. – I love the feeling I get when my gardens are weed-free.  The neat and tidy spaces bring me much joy.

As we continue to homestead and face the everyday challenges of raising and growing our own food, I don’t want to lose sight of who I am or how I want to live my life.  The things on my storyboard reflect the things I want to strive for every day.
What would your story board look like?  I encourage you to sit down and create your own storyboard. You may be surprised at what you discover.

 
 
P.S. Do you like what you are reading? Join the homestead and homemaking movement and get some Our Simple Homestead inspiration delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now!
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation from affiliate and sponsored posts on this blog.

 

This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

How to Make Ice Tea – Honey Lemon

My family’s favorite ice tea.
In South Carolina the temperature reached 101 yesterday. When it gets that hot, there is not much you want to do other then relax with a glass of iced tea. In the South, sweet tea is a staple in any refrigerator, and you wouldn’t be a good hostess if you didn’t have a fresh pitcher waiting to be served.
 
I didn’t move to the South knowing how to make ice tea. If I wanted to feel like a true southern lady I had to learn quickly. I am sure I do not make tea like a true southerner, but my version of iced tea is my family’s favorite!
Here are a few of my tea making tips:

I feel the real honey we use from our bees and freshly squeezed lemon juice makes this recipe so good!
I also think iced tea tastes better if you make it in a glass pitcher. This is the one I use I love it!
I cool my tea to room temperature before refrigerating  to keep it from becoming cloudy. 

 
Honey Lemon Ice Tea 2014-07-28 03:11:38

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Save Recipe Print Ingredients 4 family size tea bags 1 cup of honey 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 6 cup boiling water Fresh lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
Instructions Bring to boil six cups of water. Add honey and boiling water to a gallon size pitcher. Stir until honey is all dissolved. Add tea bags and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in lemon juice. Fill pitcher to the top with cold water and chill. Serve over ice and add a wedge of lemon to the glass.
By Tracy @ Our Simple Life Our Simple Homestead http://oursimplehomestead.com/

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This post is linked up to many of my favorite blog hops and link parties.  Won’t you go visit some?

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Welcome…

Tracy at Our Simple Homestead Hidden away in Central South Carolina is a little farm where we call home.

Surrounded by pine trees, chicken farms, and lots of sandy soil we live a very simple lifestyle by the grace of God.

On any given day our free-range chickens and rabbits will greet you at the door, the coffee will always be hot, and a well-worn bible will always be waiting on the table.

We are modern day homesteaders who strive to keep the old-fashion skills our grandparents taught us alive and well in the 21st century.

Join us as we share life on our 20-acre farm, old-fashion recipes, simple living tips, and inspiration for those looking to join the homesteading movement.

Tracy at Our Simple Homestead

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