Afraid To Pressure Can? It’s Really Not That Scary!

Pressure Canned Green Beans From My Garden

Those of you who regularly use your pressure canners, may want to skip this post. This is aimed at folks who are wanting to get into pressure canning, but have some concerns about safety. I used to be afraid of two things, when it came to pressure canning. The first one, was my canner blowing up like the stories I’d been told, and the second was botulism poisoning! Honestly, I feel that both of these are perfectly understandable fears.

Bread Baking For Busy People

Fresh baked sourdough (That I should’ve pulled out of the oven a bit sooner).

Hi there folks! This is part two in my bread baking series. In my last post I wrote about getting a sourdough starter going, and in this post I’ll give a basic recipe you can customize, as well as give you my “bread baking schedule” to show how I can provide my family with homemade bread, and still have a life outside of my kitchen.

Making a Sourdough Starter (Without Store Bought Yeast)!

A couple sourdough loaves I baked in December

I love bread in most forms, but I think sourdough is my absolute favorite!  I especially enjoy a crusty “artisan” style loaf, with a piping hot bowl of soup, or just plain with butter, or the entire loaf while hissing and growling at anyone that tries to take it from me…oops, did I type that out loud?   Bread, to me, is one of the easiest ways to start being more self reliant, not to mention get in touch with our “inner pioneers”!   It’s fairly inexpensive to make it yourself, and is not only healthier and tastier than store bought (in my opinion), but makes a nice gift or addition to a pot luck.

Beeswax Luminaries, My New Love!

My finished luminaries, lit with tea lights

Oh how I love beeswax luminaries! The warm glow when a tea light (or LED “tea light”) is burning inside, the soft hint of honey fragrance from the warmed beeswax, and the satisfaction of learning a new craft, are all reasons I’ve enjoyed this project. While I wish I could say I came up with this all on my own, I actually found this idea by accident, while looking for beeswax candle making ideas.  It looked like it was right up my alley and I just had to try it!

How To Make Exfoliating, Cleansing Pouches!

Exfoliating, Cleansing Pouch

I thought I’d make a little tutorial to show how I make one of my favorite (and easiest) DIY home spa products, the Exfoliating, Cleansing Pouch. These are easy, customizable, and make nice gifts. (They look especially nice tucked into a gift basket of homemade bath & body care items.) If you’ve been toying with the idea of learning how to make your own spa/beauty products, but wanted to start with something simple, this is a great project! 

Chickens: Adorable Instruments of Mayhem!

Our head rooster, “Rhode Island Fred”!

Once my husband and I found our little bit of paradise in the foothills, I started talking to him about chickens. I figured now that we owned a few acres, not only would we need to have a bigger garden, but we’d be wanting chickens.  That’s what you do when you move to the country, right?  You grow a big garden, and get chickens.  (Followed by goats, and maybe a milk cow and bees, and… you get the drift)

Okra, the Hairy Slug of the Vegatable World!

Believe it or not, this is a love story! (Or rather, an illustration of love) I’ll begin with a bit of background. When I was a kid, my mom, who was usually an amazing cook, made my brother and I okra for dinner. I’m sure there was more to the meal than just okra, but I was so traumatized that all I remember was the offensive vegetable. It was mushy, slimy, and hairy, none of which I found appetizing. That was my first, and what I hoped would be my last, experience with the vile vegetable! Over the years, I’ve had plenty of people tell me it wasn’t cooked right, and if I tried it cooked the correct way, I’d like it. I assumed they secretly disliked me and just wanted to trick me into eating it again, so I continued to happily refrain.

Many years (along with a few of life’s storms!) go by, and I met and married my country guy. Life was great, and he was everything I thought a man should be! That is, until I discovered he was an okra lover! (Did you hear the dramatic music in your head as you read that? Maybe I’m the only one who imagines weird stuff like that!) Ok, I’m obviously exaggerating a bit, but it was hard for me to understand how he actually liked it!
We were in the grocery store, picking up a few things for dinner, and had made our way to the vegetable section. As we passed by, my husband said “Hey, they have Okra! Sweetie, could you make me some?” Of course I laughed, because he was joking. Right? He was joking! I know this, because okra is Nasty! I mean look at all the delicious vegetables available for a person to enjoy, and he was asking for okra? Yeah, he wasn’t joking.

I began to list the many reasons (by “many”, I mean one: It’s gross!) why I wouldn’t be cooking okra, but then he did something completely unfair. He looked at me, almost forlornly, with those sky blue eyes of his, and said “Please? I love okra.”

How could I possibly say no to that? Well, I bought the okra. I got online, and found a recipe for breading and frying it (because you can bread and fry nearly anything and it will taste ok!), and I made him okra to go along with dinner. I even tried it. It was tolerable (Actually kind of good!), but more importantly, it made him happy! Seeing him happy, made me happy, so it was completely worth trying the “hairy slug of the vegetable world” one more time.

Honey, Turmeric Just Isn’t Your Spice!

I love learning how to do things myself, and one of the first things I started learning, was how to make my own beauty products. (My interest in that, actually goes way back to high school when a good buddy of mine and I, terrified a poor pizza delivery guy with our green facial masks!) That being said, I never did much with turmeric except use it to color soap on occasion. I’d been reading article after article about the benefits of turmeric, both internally and externally. I’d read about using it to whiten teeth, color hair, “brighten” your skin with a turmeric facial mask, and many other things. Naturally, I had to try some of these things! I used it for my teeth, and while it looked absolutely hideous on them, it did’t stain them. It also didn’t noticeably whiten them either. I suppose I should’ve tried it several times to see if that helped or not, but I moved on to something else. The turmeric face mask!

I had some plain yogurt on hand, and mixed in a bit of what I now think of as my “nemesis spice”, and proceeded to smear this mixture all over my face. What could possibly go wrong? Never mind that I already know how badly turmeric can stain things like clothes, my counters, and the floor. I was sure it would be fine on my skin, because the articles I read never mentioned trouble with facial staining. I left the bright yellow mixture on my face while my family and I got ready for church. After a bit, it was time to wash it off. Sure enough, there was no strange, yellow tone to my face! My skin felt great, and after I followed with toner & moisturizer, I threw on a bit of powder and got ready to head out the door.
Once we were outside and on our way to the truck, my husband looked at me with concern, and proceeded to tell me “Awe, Sweetie! You can’t go to church like that!” Apparently, none of us noticed a problem with my face while inside, because we had pretty bad lighting. Outside in the daylight, my face was a lovely greenish, yellow! I couldn’t fix it. My husband couldn’t fix it. (He actually tried washing my face outside with soap & water for me, presumably because the light was better out there. Or maybe he thought it would be funny if one of the neighbors saw. I’m not really sure, now that I think about it.) We were running late, and I was expected to be helping with the kids at church, so that’s how I showed up. Good times!

Now, you might think that would’ve been lesson enough for me to stick to using it in cooking only. Nope! I often have to learn the hard way. A year or so later, after our first move away from the city, I read about people using spices like turmeric and paprika, to color hair. Because I’m not especially bright at times, I tried it. I figured the yellow from the turmeric would highlight the silver strands and look sort of blond. Given what I already experienced, this was not a good hypothesis. My hair turned out brown (My natural color), with highlighter yellow colored streaks, instead of silver. I took one look in the mirror, and laughed so hard at my poor judgment that I actually had tears streaming down my face!

I tried to fix it, of course, but everything seemed to either be ineffective, or actually make it worse. (All I had on hand to cover it with was henna, which kind of worked, until I was out in natural light. Then it was just plain weird looking!) When my sweet husband came home and saw my hair, he chuckled and suggested that maybe turmeric just wasn’t my spice. I agreed whole heartedly with him! Yep, I finally learned that lesson.