House cleaning is like stringing beads with no knot at the end of the thread.

"Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods." -Ezra Taft Benson-

Monday, November 25, 2013

Everyday is a pie day!

I LOVE PIE!!!  I could eat pie everyday! So many different kinds! Fruit, meat, vegetable, meat and veg, custard, nut..

It's my babysitter's and MIL fault! Mary and her daughter Kendra took me to a carnival at Kendra's school. There was a pie room. I tried the peach pie. I tried another slice, and another... I ate the ENTIRE pie!! OH it was soo good. the crust was light and flaky on top and the bottom crust was light, cooked through but had amazing flavor. The peaches.. not sure if they were canned or fresh.. Who cares, I dream about that pie to this day!! 
I love Thanksgiving because there is GRAVY and then there is PIE! And not just one kind!! Almost always apple pie and pumpkin, then my SIL made chocolate cream pie. YUMMY

So one day I was next door visiting my MIL. She told me to try a tart. It was basically mini pecan pies. She only gave me half of one, because she said they were rich... OM Heck!! YUMMY!!  My first time I had ever had pecan pie and I loved it!!  Of course I had to come home and make some. Unfortunately I discovered that all pecan pie recipes use, yup you guessed it, CORN SYRUP. Why would anyone make such a wonderful thing using corn syrup??  Well, I had to find a way to fix this. I did. TWO ways in fact. The recipe is below:


1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (AP or GF !!!!)
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 eggs
2/3 cup butter, melted

Oven 350 degrees.
Mix all together.
Muffin tin, either lined or sprayed with oil. Fill atleast 9 of the spots.
Bake for 20 minutes

These are wonderful!!  If you make them GF, they are a little gooey (perfect). I made these for a dessert and sent some home with my mom.. She had no idea what the dessert was I sent her home with.. She texted me later and said I was evil. She loved them and had to have the recipe immediately because she ate the 3 I had sent her home with and she wanted more.

I surprised my daughter with these in her lunch. She and I are GF. She came home and gave me a huge hug. She LOVES these!! For the GF ones, I have even used less butter, more like 6 TBS and they still worked. Sorry no pictures, they get eaten too fast.

Cheap Heat

The following message from my friend Susan. I thought it might be good info for when the power goes out.

"When Lark set me this simple demonstration of how to heat  a small room for about 15 cents per day, I was hooked. My engineer husband, Fred, was able to explain the rationale to me and we know that the Brits used a similar technique in their homes and apartments during WWII, but they did not have access to tea light candles, all of the same size. I realize that many tea lights are full of lead but in a desperate situation, thy could be used to my benefit. The British government told citizens to never leave their candles unattended.  Years ago the size of the candles were uneven in both height and width and were extremely precious commodities during the war. Enjoy this 3 minute demonstration of how to heat a small room for 15 cents a day:"

I am going to try it. this might take the edge off when the power is out. Any tea light will work, but you can get them in bulk at Ikea. Please remember to put it on a non heat sensitive or flammable surface,

Last year and the year before, the kids had big stones the put by the fireplace to heat up before going to bed. Those stones stayed warm until morning.. totally worth it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Here comes the ... RAIN!!!!

My goodness, the rain was coming down so hard earlier that hubby and one of my kids were digging trenches for the water so it wouldn't fill my garage. Then they made sure all the down spouts were not blocked, and dug a new trench for the sump pump, so if there is water under the house it has someplace to go.

LOTS of rain!! We couldn't see the street from the house, and it isn't even very far away. You were soaked instantly if you stepped out into it. IT was super LOUD! Like a rock concert. Insane is what it is. And guess what???? MORE IS COMING!!

The last deluge also brought wind. Lovely... not. Our power has been going out and coming back on all day. The loud "bangs" that sound like a shotgun are the transformers blowing. So we started the first fire of the year. Just in case the power goes out and doesn't come back. We don't want to try to start a fire while the wind is blowing, and we are freezing.

And so starts AUTUMN..moldy leaves, rain, rain, wind and more rain..

ON a good note, we saw salmon in our river!!! First time in 3 years! NO the hatchery did not take the dam down like they said they would. Why? Because they are .. well I can't say, there is a baby in the room. They said the dam would be down before the spawning season. I guess they forgot that is September.
BUT we did count 6 salmon! That is more than we have seen in years!  Unfortunately, NOT ENOUGH!  We stopped by the hatchery and the dam is holding back hundreds of fish.

Ok, I'm off to check the trenches..


I am not an alarmist. I am not even sure anyone has heard about any of this. BUT, there are a few possible strikes in the works.

One is grocery stores, the other is trucking.

Now one or the other isn't such a bad thing if you have food storage, and if you have full tanks of gas plus extra... BUT if you don't..

I am not sure the entire story at the moment. All I know is that several trucking companies are planning on striking or not coming to work for several days. I also know that on the news they were talking about grocery stores going on strike.

IF both happen at the same time... oh crap! Do you have gas? Do you have food? What about toilet paper? Diapers or formula for your baby (if you use those)? laundry soap?

I am not one to cross a picket line. I will not.

If trucks aren't delivering.. grocery stores only have 3 days of food, if they are not rushed. If rushed they have about 20 minutes of food. No trucks, no gas. How will you get to work?

Just some stuff to think about. I'm not sure any of it will happen. But I know the trucks are planning on not running sometime in October, and since we are now at the end of September, and I am hearing about possible strikes at some stores... looks like things could happen at the same time.

Um, we live in Western Washington...what's with the heat?

Yup it's hot here. The heat wouldn't be so bad, except that it is also very muggy. YUCK

This isn't so bad if you can handle it. But the number one killer of infants and the elderly in summer is the heat. You have to have a way to cool off, you have to stay hydrated. That said, some people don't realize they are dehydrated, and that can be dangerous. Dehydration does not happen only when it is hot outside. It can also happen in times of stress, illness, and when it's cold outside.

For babies, signs of dehydration include:
Decrease in wet diapers
Very tired baby, sleepiness
Sunken fontanel or soft spot
Poor latch
Not wanting to play or smile
Tongue and mouth appear dry
Sunken eyes
No tears when he cries

These signs can also be used for children.

Dehydration Chart

Degree of dehydrationPretty Parched
MoodRestless, irritable
Eyes or soft spot on head
No tears, sunken
Mouth and tongueDry
ThirstThirsty, drinks eagerly
UrinationLess frequent than normal
What to doIf your child has two or more of these signs, call your pediatrician, give liquids or an electrolyte solution.

Degree of dehydrationDangerously Dehydrated
MoodLethargic or not conscious
Eyes or soft spot on head
Very sunken and dry, no tears
Mouth and TongueVery dry
ThirstDrinks infrequently or unable to drink
UrinationMinimal or none
What to doIf your child has any of these signs, call 911.

Breastfed infants should continue to breast feed. Do not give carbonated, high sugar beverages or dairy products when dehydrated or the child has diarrhea, as this can make it worse.

Treatment Based on Degree of Dehydration Chart

Degree of dehydrationMinimal or no dehydration
Rehydration TherapyJust replacement of losses

Replacement of losses
Children under 22 lbs (10 kg): 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 mL) oral rehydration solution (ORS) for each diarrheal or stool or vomiting episode
Children more than 22 lbs (10 kg): 4 to 8 ounces (120 to 240 mL) ORS for each diarrheal stool or vomiting episode
Continue breastfeeding, or resume age-appropriate normal diet after initial hydration, including adequate caloric intake*

Degree of dehydrationMild to moderate dehydration
Rehydration TherapyORS, 1.6 to 3.3 oz for each 2 lbs of body weight (50 to100 mL per kg body weight) over 3 to 4 hours
Replacement of losses
Children under 22 lbs (10 kg): 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 mL) oral rehydration solution for each diarrheal or stool or vomiting episode
Children more than 22 lbs (10 kg): 4 to 8 oz. (120 to 240 mL). ORS for each diarrheal stool or vomiting episode
NutritionContinue breastfeeding, or resume age-appropriate normal diet after initial hydration, including adequate caloric intake*

* Overly restricted diets should be avoided during bouts of diarrhea. Breastfed infants should continue to nurse even during acute rehydration. Infants too weak to eat can be given breast milk or formula by medical personnel through a tube. Lactose-containing formulas are usually good. If the baby can’t absorb lactose-based formula, lactose-free formulas can be used. Complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits, lean meats, yogurt, and vegetables are all recommended. Carbonated drinks or commercial juices with a high concentration of simple carbohydrates should be avoided.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Water Sources

Oh my goodness. Most of the preparedness sites talk about stock piling large amounts of bottled water. Or using 55 gallon drums etc... um, if you have to bug out, how are you supposed to lift that 55 gallon drum up a hill? Empty, it would be tedious, full it would be impossible.

Now I have been thinking about getting some 55 gallon food safe drums (the BPA FREE plastic ones) to use to catch rain water off the roof. For what???? Watering the animals, the garden, flushing the toilets.. BUT there is a down side to these. Freezing temperatures. Will they freeze through? Will they crack and break? You have to have a pump or spigot on it to get the water out the bottom, and you'll want a filter at the top so you don't have a lot of biomass, bird droppings, insects, and etc.. entering the water and ruining it. IN an emergency this water could be boiled for cleaning wounds, drinking, sanitation. But I would not use it strait for any of those.

Now if the power is out and you are on a well, without a hand pump.. what will your water source be? Rain water.... only if it is raining.. Snow? Only if it is snowing..  Bottled water... how much have you stored?

There are other ways to obtain water. You will need plastic, a rock, a container, a shovel, some twine. You dig a hole, preferably by NON poisonous plants, and you put your container in the middle. Spread your tarp over the top, tight enough to keep it off the dirt, but not so tight that when you put rock on the middle of the top it doesn't sink some. Yes, you are collecting clean water by condensation. And yes it works.. during certain times of year. This will not work in freezing temperatures.

River, creek, puddle.... Any and all water sources can be contaminated by anything. You need to have ways to clean the water (filters), boil the water, and  hold the CLEAN water. Do not combine dirty and clean water containers. Why bother boiling the water if you are just going to put it back into the bottle you carried it to the pot for boiling in. The dirty containers need to stay dirty, and clean ones clean. Cross contamination in water is NOT a good thing. Giardia, cholera, amoebic dysentery... gross way to die.

Water filters
Ways to boil water
Water tablets

Hmmm.... which to use? Well, when our power was out last year. I sent the kids to the river with the Katadyn water filter to get me some water. Then I poured it into a pot and boiled it. Let it cool, then we had safe water for drinking. How did I boil it? Kelly Kettle, AND on my gas stove. BUT, what if I didn't have the gas stove?  I would have used my Stove Tec Rocket Stove to boil in the pot. The Kelly Kettle is a stove in itself. Only takes 3 to 5 minutes to boil water after you have the fire going. It is truly a great tool to have, no matter what. You can get them from or amazon. I ordered my direct from Kelly Kettle. I LOVE my KK.

Ok, I have also collected rain water and used that, during the power outages around Thanksgiving. Because it was raining, I had water. And I still put it through filters, and I still boiled it.

Now mind you if we have a nuclear attack, nothing will make your water safe. EVEN if it is bottled. As soon as you open the bottle the water is contaminated with radiation. Radiation permeates everything. And it scares me to pieces! It is in the air, the water, the soil... everything.

So what do you have to help you for water? Do you have a GOOD water filter? Do you have a way to boil water? Do you know how to use the equipment you have bought? No reason to have it if you don't know how to use it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Have you thought about it?

Ok, so I was thinking today.. which is odd with this pregnancy brain thing... not the thinking part, but me remembering what I was thinking about. So I figured it must be something I need to ask, or start a discussion about.

How ready are you medically if..... power outage, tornado, tsunami (yes we get them here!!), earthquake, eruption (most likely Rainier or St. Helens), hell freezes over (oh wait, Hell, Michigan DID freeze this year!!, not sure about Hell, Belize), car accident, tree falls on a bedroom during the night, windstorm, civil war, severe heat...

What kinds of injuries??? drowning, puncture wounds, broken bones, dislocated joints, severe breathing difficulties, severe cold, severe heat, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, births, deaths...

Granted I am not sure what the future brings, or in what order things will happen. But I do know there is the possibility that we will be needed to help OR that we may need the help that is offered.

In our family we have had:

a near drowning
broken elbow
broken ankle
broken wrist
broken arms
broken legs (2 at once on same kid!!)
broken nose (severe, had to put it back in place!!)
stitches on the face (he fell in sunday school and face vs. metal chair.. not fun)
stitches on an arm (glass lamp fell and a piece cut her arm)
stitches on face (sibling tossed a toy over couch, hit sister in face, required 5 stitches!)
SEVERE asthmatic attacks (3 of us here)
appendicitis (2 kids in 6 weeks!!)
kidney stones
medication reactions
animal emergencies (animals hit by cars, no we did not take the chicken to vet!)
BURNS (fresh aloe and raw honey are a blessing!!)

Will you fight or flight? Will you freak or be calm? Will you be a help or a hinderance?

Are you able to help yourself and or those around you medically? Do you know how to clean and treat a burn? Do you know how to determine the difference between a sprain and a break? Do you know for sure how to set a break? Do you have what is needed to clean wounds? Set a fracture? Treat allergic reactions? Do you know how to do a compression bandage? Do you know what a concussion looks like? How about dehydration? A stroke? A heart attack? Labored breathing? Internal bleeding?

Do you have:

ace bandages (regular AND latex free)
cotton bandages
cotton gauze
medical tapes
triple antibiotic ointment
fresh aloe
raw honey
cotton wraps
splints for fingers, wrists, arms, legs, ankles
benedryl (liquid and pill form)
ibuprofen (not to be used on people taking coumadin or warfarin)
aspirin (not to be used on people taking coumadin or warfarin)
isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
hydrogen peroxide
bentonite clay (aka Redmond Clay)
thermometer (non-electric or non-battery powered, an oral and rectal)
EXTRA prescription medications and mode of taking them (inhaler, nebulizer, syringe)

In our emergency bug out bags we have an epi-pen, nebulizer with 3 new neb cups and masks, albuterol, tylonal, ibuprofen, benedryl liquid and pills, bacitracin, gauze, paper tape, tegaderm, coban (non-latex), gauze rolls, ace bandages (2 and 3-inch), bandaids (for those who can use them), alcohold swabs, tweezers, scissors, and a couple of other things. Yes we have bugged out during a flood. No we didn't have to use anything in our BOBs. YES, I replace medications whenever I get a refill of a medication so as to always have fresh meds in my kits.

Being prepared is not just your larder, it is so very much more! So here is something to think about, possibly open a discussion about. But it has been on my mind and I had to share it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

True Free Ranging Chickens

Oh my goodness, I was looking out the window and noticed a light colored circle in the back yard. I am not permitted to rake or much of anything right now. I hate confinement. What a pain in the arse. BUT, I know my chickens have been busy turning up the moss..

If you notice the lighter colored area, that is all moss. Just after I noticed the circle a few minutes ago, all of a sudden 8 hens and the rooster came running over to it. So I got a few shots of them working. I love it!
I could watch the chickens working for hours. They are funny. They will get all excited about one area and be there for a while. Then wander off, then like a ADHD person, remember it and come running back to a spot.
This is our white silkie rescue rooster. Yes a bantam, but he seems to be servicing ok, according to DH. That is one of his hens that will snuggle with him at night.

So I should probably tell the reason why my chickens free range. Aluminum. What?! Aluminum in their commercial feed. WHAT?!?!  YUP. I had some blood work done last year and they found my aluminum levels dangerously high. Well after I did some investigating online, I discovered a family in Utah suffering from aluminum poisoning also. Turns out, they linked it to the eggs they were eating. Their chickens were not let out, they were only fed bagged feed. Well, their feed was tested and turns out it has aluminum in it. AND the FDA has approved this practice!
As most know, whatever an animal eats, that is what is in its meat. .or in this case meat and eggs. Well, I didn't have to worry about eggs during winter as they stop laying for 2 months, but during this time, we finished using up our feed in bag and as usual still gave them kitchen scraps. And we kept them cooped during winter due to all the rain. Wet chickens are pathetic and they take shelter where they can find it when it rains hard, including on my front porch! YUCK!  I don't like chicken shiz. It stinks, it sticks, and it is slippery!

So, when the feed was gone, I started giving them some of my grains that seemed to be starting to turn a little rancid. And yes, still giving them chickens scraps daily. They actually liked this better! They started eating better, had more energy, and started scratching more.

Finally the rains let up enough to let them out. They followed me as I shook the grain container, and we went to a mossy patch somewhere on the property where I would sprinkle the grain. And they would find every morsel, and bugs and other fun things to eat. Including WEEDS!!  Hurray!! The best part? The eggs have rich dark orange yolks, and the eggs taste amazing! The flavor is just amazing!

Chickens love to forage. Really they do, and they get all excited when you turn a log over for them. My goodness, they all dive in! The one downside to free ranging is if you have inexperienced hens, they will lay in the yard and cover their egg to keep it safe. Fortunately with this group of 3 year olds, they run to the hen house and lay there. BUT....
The new ones won't have that luxury. Well, they will, BUT they will be in a tractor for their first summer/fall. Why? Because they lay and cover the eggs. These guys will have to learn to use the nest box. Which we will provide in their tractor. This is simply done with a covered cat litter box. Chickens like to lay in a dark quiet spot, so the covered litter box with bedding in it is perfect. AND this way we don't have to carefully rake where they were tractored to in order to collect eggs.

We are excited for our replacement flock. The one above is a california white. They are popular in Canada for their winter laying. So I am excited. Although with most chickens their first year, they still lay in winter. These are white eggers. We haven't done white eggers before. We always have Americaunas which lay green eggs, and then some sort of brown eggers as well. This year we are doing Americaunas, Buff Orpingtons (dual purpose) and California Whites. I am hoping one of the buffs is a rooster so we can hatch out our own chicks for meat. But we'll see. I don't want to order meat only breeds because I want the eggs too. We go through a lot of eggs here.

Trying to be self sustaining is hard, you have to sustain it! Gardens, animals, home.. wow.. but you know, if my ancestors could do it without power.. I can definitely do it with power, and then if I have to, I can do it  without. Either way, it makes me much more comfortable knowing how to do what I am learning.

We have been doing chickens for 12 years now. WOW, 12 years!! I have butchered chickens, I have cooked chicken, and we have collected hundreds and hundreds of eggs. And we love it!

Amber's Garden

It is finally done! It took a year! But we have finally finished Amber's Garden. Here is Amber:
Here is the only picture I can find of Amber's Garden BEFORE renovation:

To the right of the tractor you see a giant rhododendron. That is one of five rhodies! You can't see the one Amber liked to lay under, it is next to the tractor, behind the giant one. This garden is in front of our home.

Amber loved her kids, loved her family, loved to watch the kids outside, play in the snow, snuggle. She was truly a part of our family. And on hot days, she would go down to the creek, get wet, then come up to the front garden, dig under the rhody and cool off. HER SPOT. Amber's Garden.

Amber loved to be outside, watching the kids, watching what was going on. She loved being with her family. In this photo she looks tired. She looks tired because it has been an exhausting day! Playing in the creek with kids, kids running every direction, cars coming and going. Lots going on in the farmette.

Here she is with her treat for a hard long day of watching children and goings on. She loved carrots! If you asked her if she wanted a carrot, her eyes would dilate and she would go sit by the fridge waiting for it. Yes her bed is in a crate, she actually preferred it, as she suffered from anxiety when we weren't home. She felt safe here, we called it her cave. OH, and YES, she used both front paws to make the carrot stand up so it was easier to eat!!!

Ever diligent about being with her kids outside! She was hit by a car one summer, and so enjoyed it when it snowed, she would go outside and rest the injured hip in the snow, and you could here her groan with delight! She would also wade out into the river in summer as the water was extremely cold and soak her hip.
Amber came to us a rescue from an abusive home. She was not even a year old yet. She was one of the biggest best blessings given to us! After a year, you could not tell she had been abused. She didn't trust men she didn't know. And in fact took a bit to warm up to DH. She would walk on his toes, she would step on his feet. It wasn't until the earthquake we had  3 weeks after we got her that she learned to trust DH. I worked her hard with training. I worked her hard with exercise as well. She loved to play, and we both lost weight together (which helped her shoulder injury from her abuse).
She learned that  chickens were not toys, she learned not to go into the road. She learned that kids were fabulous. She had never been around kids when I got her, but she LOVED all the attention! Brushing, petting, playing.. And we loved doing it with her and for her.

Amber passed away in April of 2012. It was painful, it was hard, it was peaceful, it was our last gift to her. No more pain. Her last few months she was diagnosed with diabetes, and no matter what we did she kept losing weight. Her body was failing her, but her mind wasn't ready. I finally made the decision, and we had a family meeting and let everyone know that it wasn't fair to Amber to make her hold on for us. So we said our goodbyes, and our beloved veterinarian came over and helped Amber to cross over.
Oh it was painful, but at the same time it was gentle. It was so hard, but seeing her in pain and suffering was harder.
She was there for everyone. Including our other rescues. If she let you out of the the car and let you talk with me or DH, you could come in the house. But if she stepped between the person and us. There was NO GO. I trusted my Amber and she knew a person's true spirit, and I will always be thankful for her watchful guard. 

This is Amber's final resting place.

She is buried under her favorite rhody.

This will be our cold garden.

Lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, peas & cabbages

Looking through the tunnel to the rhody.

I will be making a sign for Amber's Garden. It will go on the old totem pole support. We all miss Amber so much, but we wanted her place to be nice. When she passed away it was being neglected, lots of weeds and such. We took out all the rhodies except Amber's. We just moved them out of this garden. They are to the left of her garden, in a row.

In honor of Amber, this will be our four season garden. Why? Because no matter what she was there for us. And she is still talked about as if she is still walking beside us.

What have you done in your garden today?

Friday, March 29, 2013


I found this by chance. It was supposed to be cooked in microwave, but since I don't believe in microwaves being safe, we bake it. And it works out great!  YOU need to use the GF flour mix recipe I have on the site, as it has the baking powder in it.

GF Mini Loaf

1 egg or 1 TBS flax meal AND 3 TBS water
3 TBS buttermilk*
1/3 cup gluten free flour mix
1 tsp. honey or sugar or agave

Combine wet ingredients first, then dry. Stir well. Pour into small loaf pan (SMALL, like one from a kids baking set). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes in the MIDDLE of the oven.

*you can use dairy free milk. Just add a tsp. of lemon juice or vinegar to make it "buttermilk" to make a total of 3 TBS of "buttermilk".

Depending on your flours, and liquids, and weather, the middle can sometimes be sticky, but we like the ease of this recipe, quickness of it, and the flavor can always be changed by adding dry herbs.

Flour Mix for Gluten FREE

Our flour mix changes depending on what I have in stock. BUT, the more flours you use, the better the mix! I highly recommend millet flour (protein!!) and buckwheat flour (texture, protein, low glycemic index).

Gluten FREE flour mix

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tsp. xanthum
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix well and store in airtight container.

Now that all said. I have also done this:

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup potato OR tapioca starch
2 tsp. xanthum
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Basically, the 1 cup of white rice flour stays the same. But I will mix and match my other flours depending on what I have. We use these mixes to make muffins, cookies, and an easy to make GF bread.

NOTICE we NEVER EVER use soy or corn flours. Due to allergies, but also because all corn and all soy products are GMO, AND our bodies do not digest soy at all. It is actually toxic. And corn (unless you can get it from the people in Mexico that grow the non-GMO heirloom corn that they have grown for centuries) is bad for us as well.

Chocolate Pots De Creme

Yes it is a dessert. But do you know how hard it is to find a dessert that is CF, GF, DF,  & SF that isn't just cut up fruit????? Super difficult! You can use any milk, any sweetener, and any extract you desire. Sorry, no picture, I have made this twice this week, and it just disappears too quickly!

Chocolate Pots De Creme
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
1 cup half and half **
2 eggs***
3 tablespoons sugar ****
2 tablespoons rum*****
dash of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chocolate chips and half and half, stir until melted and combined. Take off heat. Cool slightly. Beat remaining ingredients. Gradually stir into chocolate mixture. Pour through a fine strainer into four 6-ounce custard cups or a corning ware dish.
Place cups or corning ware dish in pan on oven rack. Pour boiling water into pan to with in 1/2-inch of tops of cups. Bake 20 minutes for cups and 25 to 30 minutes for corning ware dish. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serves 4

*we used GF, CF, SF, DF semisweet chocolate, or dark baking chocolate (we prefer dark chocolate, for flavor and health benefits)
**I have used half and half, whole cow milk, coconut milk, almond coconut milk..
***we used organic farm fresh eggs (our own)
****I have used sugar, honey, and agave nectar.  I prefer honey. If using honey or agave nectar only use half as much as called for in recipe
*****NO rum here. But I have used a tablespoon of GF, CF REAL vanilla extract, GF/CF almond extract (1/2 tsp and then the rest vanilla)

This recipes is super easy to make, super easy to make dietary restrictions work in. ALL my kids love it. NO I do not refrigerate it for 4 hours. I let it cool 20 minutes, then stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes, and whalaa, yumminess.. if I can keep the kids out of it that long.  Yes I do strain it so there are no chewy egg chunks, which happens when the eggs curdle.. yuck.. But it still tastes good.

Tummy aches

It has not been something I have shared. But here goes.

I have tummy aches, pains, sharp pains.. Pains that send me to the ER to have them tell me, we can't find anything, but would you like some pain meds (even though you are pregnant!)!  AAARRRGGGHHHH

The article on CELIACS is fantastic and tells you about how being celiac or even just gluten intolerant can cause problems from head to toe! Including depression, ADD/ADHD, headaches, vitamin deficiencies and more.

It wasn't until I started going gluten free again that the pains lessened. But then with cravings, yup, I started eating gluten again.. ugh.. OUCH.. In my search for help with my and Peaches tummy aches and other health issues we came across an article that sounded like it was written about us! I will share it at the end. BUT, as many of you know I grind all my own grains. Soft wheat, oat groats, buckwheat (which is NOT related to wheat), hard wheat, triticale, kamut, lentils, rice... millet, quinoa.. I can't remember them all. 

I also sprout alot of them too, then dry them in my dehydrator on low heat (about 85 degrees), then grind them. Sprouting changes the proteins, enzymes and vitamins and minerals in your grains. It also makes the grains much easier to digest.. BUT, it wasn't helping Peaches or me.  Now I know why.

The wheat of Jesus' time only had 10 to 12 gluten strains in it. The wheat of today, that has been bred for shorter height, higher yields, and faster growth, not to mention the GMO stuff from Monsanto has over 100 strains of gluten in it, AND scientists don't really know how are bodies are reacting to these new glutens!
Well for us, we aren't reacting well to them. There is Einkorn, and Jovial wheat, which is like the stuff Jesus had.. but I have alot of kids, and I make a lot of bread... At $6 to $18 per POUND, I just can't afford it.. So what to do??

No bread. Well, not with wheat or gluten in it. We have discovered the GF diet (gluten free). Actually I prefer it. I lost 30 pounds on it!!  And it was weight I could afford to lose!  Peaches, has not gained or lost weight. BUT she can bend her fingers now! HUGE bonus. But, we prefer to stay away from GF breads because they usually contain corn or soy to replace the wheat. We make our own, but the FRANZ bakery also make some in a GF certified plant. They have one bread that tastes like a Poulsbo bread and it has quinoa and millet in it, my favorite.. They also have a white bread that is made with rice (great for eggs and toast). But we have discovered a quick bread to make for when we are having soup, or really want a bread sandwich. I will try to post more GF recipes on here, especially tried and trues!!

People think it is sooo hard to be GF, and when you are just starting it is, but you have to focus on what you CAN eat, not what you may not.
Lettuce wrapped burgers (love the crunch!! and it is soooo much lighter and you feel better after eating it)
chicken salad in romaine lettuce (rolled up, like a wrap)
buckwheat pancakes or waffles
GF certified oatmeal (usually ok for celiacs too)

If you think about it, eating GF is better for you. Highly processed grains (white flour) is really hard on your adrenal glands, pancreas, liver, GI tract, and brain. It is usually rancid before you buy it, and causes malabsorbtion in most!  Ever wonder why you are hungrier after a sandwich or piece of toast?? Because white flour makes you hungry.

Don't even get me started on the evils of corn syrup, splenda, white and brown sugars... That is another posting..

Anyway, I will try to post GF recipes that are tried and true this coming week.. if I remember. BUT here is an excellent article written by a nurse that explains many of my and Peach's symptoms.. and why we are GF now. Most likely Princess will be GF soon as well.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Madness

I think the real meaning of March Madness is about all the cabin fever, and then Mother Nature teases you with a day of sunshine, even though pretty chilly out still. Then the next day you wake up to rain, or snow.. Yup, that is March Madness..

What have we been up to over here? Well, we are getting Amber's garden ready for planting. We will be doing a hoop house over it and also the other bigger garden. In Amber's garden we plan on planting lettuces, spinach, beets and peas. In the other garden we are planning squashes, onions, garlic, cucumbers and carrots. In the upper garden we are planning on some heirloom tomatoes, runner beans, ground cherries, chives, and maybe chamomile. In the back garden we are planning on some more lettuces, spinaches and maybe some cold tolerant herbs.

We were expecting our first litters this month, but sadly the mommas didn't do a very good job and we lost every baby. We got our chicks, and they are doing great! We are excited for more eggs, as we use sooo many when we have them available.

The last couple days it has rained, snowed, sleeted, hailed, frosted, been sunny and windy. Today it is sunny and breezy right now.. but cold out. It frosted last night, so I my bark piles that need moving are still frozen..

We still need to turn the compost, get the dirt for Amber's and other gardens so we can finally plant. Buy the hoops and plastic for the gardens as well. I hope to be able to do that today.

This next week, we will be sprouting some grains and beans for making bread. Working on a baby quilt, baby drawstrings, getting my room organized, and hopefully finishing up the hoops gardens with planting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How are you doing?

I was looking around one of my new friends blogs and was impressed to talk about something. The toughest time of year for many seems to be AFTER Christmas. Why? Because many spend beyond their means, and then the bills start coming for using that darn plastic card.. and to top it off, the low percentage rate you thought you were getting is actually over 20% up to 35% on what you owe!  That adds up super fast, especially if you are only doing the minimum payment. You will never pay it off that way.

I was talking with my son about credit cards. After our discussion, he said,"It seems to me that the credit card is just another of the Devil's vices. I mean, you use it to help your family and then it turns out to hurt you instead.".. YES!!  He understood! 

When I was leaving home, I was told the only way to build credit was to use a credit card. This is not true! You can also build credit by saving for your purchase and then buying it outright. Credit is a two edged sword. When you pay for everything in full, your credit score doesn't matter. Being debt free does!

Ok, so now onto what I was really impressed to write about. FOOD STORAGE.

Food storage or what is in your pantry/larder is important for those times when you can't shop, for whatever reason. I have been on medical leave from work since October! I have not gone grocery shopping since then. My hubby will pick up milk, cheese, maybe a bag of onions.. but we have been living on food storage. It isn't that hard, what is hard is diversity. I don't need to go to the store, I just need a menu plan and I am set. I have everything I need. Well, if the chickens lay their eggs I have all I need. But in December, like clockwork they stopped laying.. So what did I do??? I pulled a bag of flax seed meal out of my freezer and used it to substitute for eggs in my baking. Not loving it to death, but it works. I prefer the eggs to be honest, but be honest with  yourself. When the SHTF, you will be in survival mode along with everyone else, and unless you have all your animals in bed with you, most likely you will see them disappear either slowly or quickly overnight.

OK, now on to more of the topic.. Planning weekly to build up your storage. Now if you don't already have at least a 3 month supply, then you need to do that first. Here is a link to Valerie's site. She has a way to build up your 3-month supply.

After you have your 3-month supply,  you need to get your water storage. Now some places I know are unable to store water bottles. But I know of many places, even in the U.S. where they catch rainwater and use that. Just remember to boil it before drinking! Again, Valerie to the rescue. She mentions that Fred Meyer or Kroger usually has sales on their bottled water of 24 count 16.9 ounce bottle cases for about $2.50. AND Sam's/Costco also has a 32 count 16.9 ounce bottle cases for about $4.48. If you were to pick up 1 to 4 a week, you could have your water storage super quick! You can store these under beds, in closets, and even make a table out of them, and cover them with a table cloth. Get creative.

Next you need to build up your financial reserve. Now if you are in debt this may seem impossible. But it isn't. Set aside $2 per person per week in your family. So if it is only two of you, that is only $4 a week, put into savings. If it is 10 of you, then you put aside $20 a week. I know that seems like a lot when you don't seem to have any money. But pay your tithing on your gross first, then pay your savings, then pay your bills. The key to this is to not touch it! Don't think, oh I really want to go shopping, and pull out your savings.. that defeats the purpose. It is your rainy day fund, it is for your future, not for your whims.

Finally, you can work on  your long term supply.. Which is super easy. No need to make a major purchase. Remember we are building, not blinking, into existence our food storage. So if you see something your family eats, and it is on sale for a good price, and you can afford the purchase, get it, but not just one (unless the sale says limit one). If you use one per meal, get 4 or 6 or more. What you can afford. BUT don't get greedy. Will you honestly eat that amount in a year? or 3-years? before it goes bad? Put logic into your purchases. Yes, grains go rancid, cans leak, plastic breaks down, freezers die, power outages.. Don't put all your food storage into only one element.
Store bought canned goods
Home canned goods
Food grade buckets
See many options for how to store your food.

NOW, conditions will play a role in what you can store. If you don't have a freezer or canner, you aren't about to buy half a cow (side of beef) because you haven't a way to preserve it. Same goes for any meat.
And if you don't have a way to store grains without mice getting into them, then it wouldn't be prudent to buy 600 pounds of grains in bags. Mice love bags, they also love mylar. Even if Walton feed says it is ok to store in the bag, you will hate it and the mice will LOVE you for it.

We house sat for about 9 months while the owners were away. In the basement, they had their food storage. They did almost everything right. They blocked the light from coming in the windows, closed and sealed the forced air heater vent. And they had some amazing shelves for food storage. Problem was, the rodents found a way into this oasis of food.
The top shelves were all empty canning jars, stored upright without lids. EVERY single jar had rodent urine and feces in it, and a few had dead trapped mice in them.
Next shelf down was canned goods.. um.. Rodent urine is caustic and smelly! Turns out every single can had to be thrown away because the urine ate through the lids! And so what was in the jars was now rancid and stinky, and leaking all over.
The bottom shelves had bags upon bags of wheat from Walton Feed. It looked good, but when you went to move a bag, you discovered it was empty, or nearly empty!! ALL 30 bags had a hole chewed into it, and all the bags were supposed to have 50-lbs of wheat in them.  A couple were about half full, the rest were way less than half full. One only had a cup of wheat left in it!
There was also a built in shelf on one wall, this had bags of cereal, small bags of beans, small bags of rice, sauce packets from McDonald's, boxes of hot cereal..... It was rather comical to find a pile of shredded silver stuff. Upon further investigation, we discovered it was the backs of and lids to the sauce packets! The mice literally shredded the backs and lids off, licked them clean and put them into a pile! The packet containers were also licked clean. In this same shelf area, we discovered the hole the rats and mice had made to get into the food storage room, it was HUGE!
We banged on an exterior wall (same one with the hole), and you could hear the grain moving in them! YUP, hundreds of pounds of wheat storage were now in someone else's larder!  And we would have to tear walls open to get to it!
Into the next room, the bathroom, we discovered piles upon piles of old newspapers. I know they were saving them for making fires, but no one used the basement or 2nd story fireplaces because the draft was wrong in the chimneys and you would get smoked out. Also this is where they had a linen closet full of toilet paper. Well, we removed all the newspaper and recycled it. Then, as we pulled the toilet paper out, we discovered nests, lots and lots of nests. Those darn mice had pulled the toilet paper rolls apart and made nest after nest! Cases and packages of TP.. AND Yup, every single roll was covered in urine and feces, and blood (from birthing).. It was gross.. We pulled everything out and threw it away, only to discover the mice had chewed a hole in the back of the cabinet to get in..
One night my brother was babysitting while we went to the Temple. He saw a little mouse claw reaching for a cheerio on the forced air register!!  FROM THE BOTTOM!!  Yup this house also had the mice using the heating system as a highway!

Well, we no longer live there. Now we are on our farm. We have all sorts of wild life here: Bald Eagles, Elk, deer, black bear, cougar, opossum, skunk, raccoon, rats, mice, squirrels, lots of birds... I am not fond of the Elk, deer, bears, skunks, opossums, coons, rats or mice or squirrels.. BUT I do work at keeping them at bay so my garden and orchard may grow. Nothing a few mice/rat traps and cats can't take care of. As for the coons, as long as they leave my animals alone, they are fine. I know the Bald Eagles are eyeing my chickens, but nothing I can do about them. OH, they eye cats too, and small dogs, small kids, rabbits, baby animals.. yes, they are aggressive, specially when they have eaglets!

OH, sorry for that tangent.. My goodness.. OK,  OPTIMAL FOOD STORAGE CONDITIONS!!!!
The cooler the storage area, the longer the food will store. Under 60 degrees is preferred, under 50 degrees is better and under 40 degrees but above 34 degrees is optimal! This would be for canned goods, grains, oils and fats, herbs, etc...
My food storage room has an air conditioner in it for summer, and NO HEATER. Because my freezer is in there, it usually keeps everything above freezing. OH, if your oil looks like it has mold growing in it.. It does NOT, it is just cold and is solidifying. It will go back to "normal" when you bring it closer to 50-60 degrees.

How do I store my food??? In a temperature controlled room:
Fruit: dehydrated, frozen, home canned
Vegetables: dehydrated, frozen, home canned
Meat: dehydrated, frozen, home canned, in coops (still alive)
Herbs: dehydrated, home vacuum sealed in jars
Grains: canned in #10 cans with O2 absorber, food grade buckets
Pet Food: Metal garbage cans
Toilet Paper: linen closet, "table", top shelf of food storage room
Soaps and toothpaste: on shelf in food storage room
Seasonings: home vacuum sealed jars, in jars they came in
Pasta: #10 cans with O2 absorber, food grade buckets in store packaging, bulk in food grade buckets
Crackers: in store packaging in food grade buckets
Medicines: food grade bucket, on shelf
BEANS: #10 cans with O2 absorber, home vacuum sealed in jars, home canned, food grade buckets

One problem with home vacuum sealed jars, is sometimes the seal fails, specially with powdered items. Works fine for nuts, dried fruits/veggies, herbs.. usually
I LOVE my food grade buckets. They hold between 20 and 25 pounds, are square, 4 gallon size, and most have handles for easy carrying. My round 5 gallon buckets hold 25 to 30 pounds. I have had buckets since 1993. I use them DAILY!

Well my goodness, I hope this helps some of you. I seems to write about more than I was planning. Please get your 3-month supply, water supply, financial reserve started  and then start your long term storage!! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cheese Crackers

I tried these today! Super easy, super yum! I found it at Tasty Kitchen. If you want to see pictures go there, but here is the recipe!

Cheese Crackers

8ounces, weight Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons COLD water

Pulse everything (EXCEPT water) together in food processor until it looks like coarse sand. Pulse in the water, 1TBS at a time.
Remove dough from processor, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out on lightly floured surface to make a thin sheet, about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place on parchment paper if wanted or just put on cookie sheets, not touching, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crispy.

Using mild or medium cheddar makes a less flavorful cracker, but they are still yummy!