What We Have Been Up To

I haven’t posted in a few weeks.  I just haven’t made time for the computer lately.

So what have we been up to?

Here is a brief list of some of the things we have been up to.

Finished up with robotic’s team that our daughter was on.

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Celebrated birthdays with family.

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Went black light bowling with homeschool friends.

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Enjoyed great time and support at our homeschool group. Delighted in being showered with gift and prayer by dear friends and having a wonderful friend visit the group for the day to speak to the group and encourage our homeschooling.

Went on a long-over-due trip to visit grandparents and family in the neighboring state.  I have not went to visit them in about 10 years….It’s good that we were able to make it…even though the visit was too short.

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Organizing and cleaning- finally cleaned the little bedroom and turned it into a library.  The kids LOVE IT!  A quiet room filled with books…who wouldn’t love it?

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Teaching a boy to read, listening to another boy play beautiful music on his violin, watching my daughter spend hours at the computer writing.

Watching the newly turned one year old learn to walk and explore his world at another level.

Thrift shopping…okay so I have to admit I have been unusually interested in antique decorations lately….I found this interest after borrowing a book, Country Living The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen, from the library.  Now I want free or cheap old stuff.  :)

Have been reading a lot of books on food health, power foods, detoxing, cookbooks, and raw food recipes.

Grew broccoli sprouts in a jar for the first time…tasty.

Our chickens started laying more eggs.  We haven’t gotten many in the last few days though.

Making plans for spring and summer garden, thinking about fence that needs to be put up, and some that needs fixing–a tree fell on some over the winter, also thinking about possible animals to add to the farm, ordered chicks to arrive the end of May and mid June.

That is all I can come up with right now and I’ve got to stop because baby is crying for his mama.  I know there is much not included on the list though.

My Mom!

Valley Farm Labs:

Thank you to my wonderful daughter for her words of encouragement on my birthday!!!!

Originally posted on Light Warriors in a Dark World:

Today is my mom’s B-day!

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She is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO amazing, and I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO blessed to have her for my mother!!!

She is our full time school teacher, bible study teacher, healthy menu maker and chef, and house manager!  She has a full time job just at home with animals, (and in the future a garden) and kids.  She does it quite well too!  So now I’m going to tell you all the things that are super awesome about her!

1.She happily teaches us not only from books, but through life experiences also

2.She wants to encourage us to take care of ourselves and eat well

3.She helps us pursue our dreams

4.She helps us better understand the Bible

5.She likes to keep the house clean and organized (not saying that it always is :) )

6.She milks goats

7.She makes cheese

8.She is always happy to learn new things

9.She gardens

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American History Videos

HaveFun

This is the time of year I start to think of new things to do and learn in our home.

I have really had the desire to start some American History with the kids.  It has been years since we have really dug into and studied the history of our country.

I have the tendency to kind of switch gears at this time of year….I don’t know what it is about late winter/pre-spring but it seems that other homeschoolers in general tend to do this too.  I really like the things we are doing now and don’t really want to switch gears completely I just want to add in some things.

I have been in search of some movies or videos to watch that can give us a visual of past times.  I found this website and wanted to share with you.   It looks like they have tons of videos to watch.  Last night we watched a documentary on the early 1900s.  The name of the video we watched: “Ford’s Mirror of America” It was so fun to watch!   http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/movies/FordMirror1.html

This makes me really wish we didn’t have an internet usage limit.

Quinoa

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I have recently watched a documentary that was posted on Facebook by a friend on the effects of the quantity of animal protein in our diet and the negative effects that it has on our bodies.

I am not going to go into a lot of detail on the video’s contents and my thoughts.    I will just briefly say that the video was most definitely an encouragement to me to be more diligent in my diet. It really got me thinking.

 
The video suggests a vegan diet to prevent and cure disease. I do feel that there is very legitimate claims behind this and without a doubt in my mind food definitely impacts the wellbeing of our lives. I do think that there is much to consider in the vegan’s diet. I believe that we, Americans, do not eat enough raw whole foods and it shows in our health and wellbeing.

I personally am not a vegan and am not planning to go that route.  While I found this video to have a very positive effect on the way I viewed food and my personal health and situation I did not agree with the entirety of the content.

Okay, moving on…

to QUINOA!
I wanted to share a little info on Quinoa and share a recipe with you.  Just because I love quinoa!
What is quinoa(KEEN-wah)? It is a plant native to South America grown primarily for the seeds. (what we call grain)

Is it hard to make?  No!  Just add to boiling water.
What are the benefits of quinoa?

  • high in protein
  • has all 9 essential amino acids
  • is low in fat and calories
  • is a great source for iron and fiber
  • it’s high in manganese which keeps bones strong and healthy
  • it can help maintain normal blood sugar levels and can help lower high cholesterol
  • has a low glycemic index compared to other whole grains
  • great for the gluten-free diet
  • it is easy to digest

What does quinoa have to do with the video? Not much really, except that it is a great source of protein from a whole food.  Quinoa just came to my mind when I was thinking about my menu for the week.  And it seemed appropriate to put the 2 together in my post.  :)

There are many ways you could eat it.  You could even eat it plain or with butter or oil and seasonings.  I like to chill mine and make a salad dish out of it.  Here is how I make my salad dish:

Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 c quinoa
  2. 1c water
  3. 2 avocados peeled and sliced
  4. 1/3 c finely chopped red onion
  5. 1/4 c. freshly chopped cilantro
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1/3 c cheese(grated parmesan, feta, or goat cheese)
  8. 2tbsp of oil -I prefer sunflower oil, or you could use olive oil
  9. Balsamic Vinegar to taste

Directions:

  1. In saucepan combine 1/2 c quinoa and 1c water.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Place the quinoa in a bowl and let chill in the refrigerator.
  3. Add *vegetables to the quinoa and stir.
  4. Stir in oil and vinegar to taste

*you can add any fresh veggies that you like some ideas that aren’t listed above are: garlic, red pepper, green olives, tomato.

My quinoa comes pre-rinsed.  If you buy quinoa be sure to find out if it needs to be rinsed before cooking.

 

Save Money on Laundry Detergent

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 Making your own detergent is so simple and well worth the savings.

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I have been making laundry detergent for our family for over a year.  We have found that we save a lot of money this way. There are plenty of recipes to be found for both powder and liquid detergents. Most recipes call for the same basic ingredients: Washing Soda, Borax, and bar soap.  I have been able to purchase these ingredients from my local Wal-Mart or grocery store.  I spend about $7.00 on these 3 items and they last me probably 5 or more times longer than bottle of liquid detergent that I used to use.

You could choose to make liquid or powder. I have chosen to use powder because it is faster and so much easier to make than the liquid laundry detergent.

The only disadvantage I have found in using powder vs. liquid is that you need to add the detergent to hot water so that it will dissolve into the water. What I do is start my washing machine on hot until it covers the bottom with water then I add my detergent to the hot water and take a wash cloth or sock or something and swish it around to help dissolve the detergent mixture.  Then I switch the water to cold and add my clothes.

So how easy is it? 

  1.  Simply pour/mix together 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax.
  2. Grate in 1/4 bar soap and stir it up.  Done!

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This makes 32 loads of laundry.  You only need to use 1 heaping Tbsp per load.

Can you use homemade detergent in the front loader machines?  I would think so considering there is almost no suds when using this mixture.

Have you or anyone you know used homemade detergent in a front loader?

    

chicken incident

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Just recently, sometime last week, I had a most interesting chicken incident. 

As you may know we got a new dog, Sugar, who is an English Lab.  Well, I like to let her come out with me off the leash while I start the chores.  She runs around teasing or playing with Bear (mutt dog) most of the time.  Then I bring her inside  so I can let the chickens out, feed them, water them, and all that jazz. 

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When they come outside to eat I find this a good opportunity to go into the chicken coop to fetch the eggs.    As I was going about my business in the chicken coop, I hear the chickens outside flying everywhere and clucking madly.  I turn around and Sugar bolts into the coop!  Chickens are flying everywhere. Sugar was chasing them in circles around the chicken coop as they squawked like crazy!  Even more bad news, in the chaos of the chickens flying around frantically they pooped all over me in fear. 

Eventually, I get a hold of Sugar and take her back inside.

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  How did she get out? 

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Well, our back door will swing open on windy days if the dead bolt isn’t locked.  So I started shutting the safety gate in the hall so I don’t get drenched in chicken poop again.  Oh, and for the chickens safety too… I guess.

The End

Barn-Hop

Cooking steel cut oats

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A few months ago I started researching anti-inflammatory diets and which foods serve as natural anti-inflammatory .   In the midst of this I saw the suggestion to eat steel cut oats rather than rolled oats(oatmeal).  I was intrigued, I had never heard of steel cut oats.  Apparently they are slightly higher in fiber and lower glycemic load. and less processed than the rolled oats.

Oatss

The next trip to the grocery store I checked to see if they had steel cut ….they did!  The container was half the size of the regular oatmeal so I purchased 2.  I was excited to make them the next morning for my husband for breakfast before he would head off to work.  I got up that morning and found that I would not have time to cook them because to my surprise they take much longer to cook than the typical oatmeal.

They ended up sitting in my pantry untouched for a couple months.

The other night I was reading some recipe suggestions on-line and found the suggestion to cook my oats overnight in the crock pot.  I was excited to give this a try.  This morning our family’s breakfast was done when my husband got up for work and I didn’t have to get up to make it.  We ended up enjoying a healthier breakfast with less hassle.  Love it!

How I did it:

I greased my crock pot with coconut oil, filled it with 7c of water and 2c of oats, turned it on warm, and let it cook overnight.  If I change anything next time I will put slightly less water.  We like ours a little thicker than what it was.  FYI: We feed a family of 6 and there is some left over for tomorrow.

By the way:

I read the suggestion to use my crock pot on brownthumbmama I really enjoy some of the practical suggestions on her blog.

If you are interested in learning more about inflamation or the benefits of oats you could check out Dr Weil’s website.

Homesteading-Not just a dream!

 

031I recall a few years back when we were dreaming of living in the country and having a small farm on which we could grow and raise our own food.   We started to notice many of the bad habits and unhealthy lifestyle we were living.  We started thinking about the food we eat and what is in it and what is missing from it from processing among other things.  We realized nothing we ate was really that good for us at all…really.  I also remember thinking of how we wanted to change but didn’t know how to or where to begin.  Even growing up on a small hobby farm I didn’t really feel that I knew enough about farming or gardeing..The dream that we had, living on a farm in the country with a garden and animals making our own foods, seemed so overwhelming.  We had a large desire to go this direction but HOW?

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We prayed about it and left it in God’s hands.

We moved into the house that we currently rent almost 2 years ago and we have been able to start our “dream” one step at a time since then.

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We have really come a long ways in the last 2 years.  We still have a lot to learn and are far from eating only natural foods and being self-sufficient..  We are continuously looking at our situation and trying to improve and become more sufficient in what we are doing.  Our goal is to establish this lifestyle with a good balance in the areas of: health, efficiency, and affordability.  What I mean by that is we want to become healthier by improving what we eat and drink, while saving money, and trying to make it possible to do this by being efficient.  We are improving…one step at a time.  Of course all things by the will and grace of God.

 

It will be interesting to see where we will be in the years to come.

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Organic Deodorant

We started making our own deodorant about a year and half ago.
I was hesitant at first as to whether homemade deodorant would actually work.  I am excited to say that this recipe has worked great for us and we want to share with you how we do it.
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Why make my own deodorant?
• No chemicals
• No Aluminum
• Made with natural products
• Saves $$$ -BONUS!!!
• It is very easy to make!
• Simple ingredients
• IT WORKS!

What you need:
• Baking Soda
• Arrowroot powder
• Coconut oil(organic)
• Essential oil (optional)-we use lavender
• Something to put it in: this could be an old deodorant container, a simple container with a lid, or you can purchase a new push up deodorant container/s.

How to make it:

1. Measure 4 Tablespoons of solid Coconut Oil into small pan and heat until it becomes a liquid.

2. Measure 1/4c of Baking Soda and 1/4c Arrowroot Powder in a bowl.

3. Add your oil to the Powder mixture and add a couple drops of your essential oil, mix well.

4.  Poor mixture into your container.  Set in a cool area(refrigerator works well) until it has solidified.  You can reuse one of your old deodorant containers or come up with a new one.  If you store in a container you can just apply with your fingers…this works well with this recipe.

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A few things you should know when using homemade deodorant:
Do not store in high temperature areas. The Coconut oil will liquefy at 76 Degrees F. If necessary you can store it in the refrigerator.
Apply lightly. As you rub it against your skin it will melt on it. We have found that we do not need to use a lot.

Teaching Bear to Retrieve

Bear

Bear is our mutt, he is 1/2 Golden Retriever and 1/2 monster, he looks nothing like a Golden Retriever, he’s all black and very shaggy. We got him almost 2 years ago as an outdoor dog to help keep predators away. He really has little regard for obedience. Our daughter has spent a lot of time going through obedience training with him and he does really well if he knows you have TREATS! No treats no obedience.

Anyway, he loves to play but he likes to play his way and not yours. When he has something such as the thing he just stole out of your hand when you weren’t paying attention, he runs off, comes back, stops in front of you, does the doggy let’s play bow and when you step forward he darts off again to do it all over again. One of his favorite things to do is run as fast as he can by you just out of reach.

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For a while now I have been reading many training books in hopes to improve Bears personality which is very difficult since he is an outdoor dog and gets the freedom of the outdoors. Today we had a very successful retrieving session. I had him on a tie-off while I threw a stick. He would go get the stick and bring it back but when he comes back he tries to dodge me but I grab ahold of him and just give him praise while he is still holding the stick then I put my hand around the stick and blow in his ear and he gently drops it as I say drop. Then I continue to pet him and give praise as if he is the greatest dog in the world. Earlier comments aside we really do love him even the faults.

He does not like to let go of things, his favorite game, if he lets you get ahold of the item in his mouth, is tug-of-war. So, this was a very successful day in training and hope it continues. I have a strong desire to start bird hunting with our English Labrador Retriever, Sugar, and I would like to also include Bear. Even though we are getting a very late start in his retriever training, I think he will do fine as a hunting dog in the future.

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