Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home Made Chocolate Cake

In general I'm not a baked goods person. I worked at a bakery in a grocery store in college. I didn't have a problem with gaining weight, however if I'd worked in the deli, I'd have been in trouble! I love to bake at home, but my little people aren't big enough to eat dozens of doughnuts and my husband likes his recipes on a monthly or longer cycle. Here is the recipe I use when I want a good chocolate cake. I am however looking at another recipe that may or may not make it on my recipe page. This is a Duncan Heinz copy cat I believe, or maybe Betty Crocker- anyhow a good representative for those who have the taste for (or husbands in my case) things store-bought. This is puzzle piece #3 for the Murder In Montana I'll be posting next week....Hee Heee. 

Chocolate Cake
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour 
3/4-1 c. cocoa ;-)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 - 1 c. boiling water
2 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients  and beat 2- 5 minutes on medium.  Pour immediately into greased and floured pans and bake in preheated 350 degree oven. 9 X 13 pan = 35-40 minutes.

--Jamie

Friday, August 26, 2011

Home Made Chocolate Pudding

Today's recipe comes from Food.com and Chris from Kansas. With over 210 reviews this pudding is right on the mark. Another great standby when you feel like boycotting the store.

Thick Chocolate Pudding

1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
3 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
2 c. milk (I like to use almond milk and because its cornstarch based it sets up fine)
1 t. vanilla

Easy peasy. Combine all except vanilla in pan over medium heat stirring till thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Use in recipes after cooling. Makes about 4 servings. I also add extra vanilla or sometimes even mint extract. YUMMY. Keep this recipe in mind this week it might come in handy to make some Murder In Montana!

--Jamie

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home Made Toffee Butter Crunch Recipe

Im not usually a big candy maker, but I do make my own toffee when it comes to making a desert called Murder In Montana. I got the recipe from the Dinnerbell Bakery Cookbook from up in the Mission mountain range at the Amish resturant - The Dinnerbell Bakery. Instead of spending big bucks for the SKOR bars it calls for, I make my own recipe. 


Toffee Butter Crunch

1 cup butter ( I've taken a shine to 1/2 margerine, 1/2 real butter)
1 cup sugar 
3 T water
1 T corn syrup (or corn syrup substitute)

      In a heavy pan over medium heat boil all ingredients stirring frequently till thermometer reaches 290. Pour into a buttered 13 X 9 pan. Add chocolate chips if desired when surface is firm. When melted spread evenly. When completely cool breake into small pieces and store in airtight container.
      And yes, Im going to make you wait for the Murder In Montana recipe- trust me its a killer! :-P

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Home Made Coco Wheats

     Time for a recipe! One thing I've liked doing with my grain mill is to make our own Coco Wheats, so its time to share the goods with you. 
     Really this is so simple it doesn't even take measurements. Necessary items: Grain mill, wheat (sprouted and dried or regular) sieve, cocoa. I like to use sprouted and dried in my dehydrator. 
     Take whatever amount of wheat you desire (2 cups hard red winter wheat makes enough to make about 6 average size bowls of cereal) and grind on a smaller than cracked setting. On my Family Grain Mill this is a 2.5 setting. 
    

This is what it looks like up close before its sifted.













Sift a little bit at a time into a different bowl to separate out the bits that have already made it to a flour stage.






Add baking cocoa to the larger bits till you are satisfied with the coverage.
Cook as per directions given for the commercial product. If you don't have those handy, I usually do as much water as I want finished product and cut that amount in half for the coco wheats. Example 1 part cocoa wheats to 2 parts water. When it is cooked to the consistancy you want, add your sugar butter or whatnot. We usually like to add peanut butter, or maybe even some chocolate chips in the bowls, or some mint extract (just a touch). Vanilla is always good too.

If you don't use the whole batch that meal (dry mix) stick it in a container in the freezer to keep the oils from the fresh ground wheat from going rancid. Do this especially if you have sprouted and dried your wheat.  Enjoy!

--Jamie












Oh Buckets! A Handwashing Revelation

     Well, sorry for the hiatus here for this last month, but I've had some dire and experimental situations going on. As of my last post my washer conked on me. Its not the first time, and it most certainly wont be the last. However I've spent the better part of the last month (up until 3 days ago) doing all my laundry by hand. As you can see that leaves little time for blogging when one has a new baby. To compound the dire-ness of the month we've moved off an old truck that needed junked and I've had boxes of stuff to do something with, that still need my attention. Also we have been ordering books and curriculum  to start this school year with. 
      The main subject of this particular post however is a method that have revolutionized my hand washing.
     In my last post, I mentioned that I had been struggling with the thought of using my hard earned money to purchase a WonderWash. That night after blogging I showed my husband the picture of the washer, divulging to him the workings of my inner mind. See, I had analyzed the basics of this setup for a while realizing that 
  1. Its basicly a bucket with an airtight lid and rounded corners
  2. Its leak proof (well its supposed to be according to the description)
  3. Its rotated to slog the water around and through the clothing.
  4. It is reported to be a revolutionizer of laundry lines everywhere or a complete lemon.
  5. I could make one of my own, and I could make it for nothing.
How could this be? Buckets baby, buckets! So the experimenting began. First, I get the gasketed buckets from the local bakery and use them for just about everything. The seal in the lid is airtight so I can keep my flour and sugar in them without fear of bugs or moisture getting in. 
     Following the directions per manufacture of the WonderWash, I used warm water, small amount of soap and put only a few things in at first to see what the big deal was.  My first method was to tumble the bucket end over end through the living room and kitchen (after the kids were sleeping) for roughly the minute and a half that is recommended. Cracked that lid open and I was literally astounded at the amount of dirt that was in the water. 
     Ok time to simplify. I didn't have time nor energy to walk my laundry through the house bent over all night. So I tried sitting on a chair and, using the handle, thunking the bucket back and forth tipping it at my side. I got several buckets of laundry done this way, tinkering with how many diapers I could put in it and still get them clean.  After thinking some more, analyzing the mechanics of the HE front-loading washers, I figured I could just tip the bucket on its side and rock it back and forth. This proved to be the best and most effective method yet, and my laundry, and especially my diapers were coming cleaner than with my washer. I was astounded.  And whats more, it was somewhat fun, good exercise, economical and the children were enlisted to help too. 
     With the help of my previously aquired wringer off of Ebay my laundry started getting a good sized dent. 
     It makes me realize why people wore clothes till they were REALLY dirty way back when (and wore aprons constantly as well). It just took too much time. So the kids were immediately on clothing restriction- one spot did not dirty laundry make. Aprons were used when available and extra care was taken when cooking and playing. Well, as much care as a dirt prone boy and a 5yo tomboy,  3yo "helper", wonder whiz baby and a coal miner husband could take. :-P
Thankfully this isn't my closet!
     This also led me to another realization that our clothing needed to take a serious downsizing! There was no need to have a dozen pants for said boy, or ten shirts each for said girls. The diapers were unavoidable, but easily taken care of.  That is a blog post for another day.
     Overall I learned that washing by hand didn't have to be a chore and that the amount of clothing really needed by our family was quite small. Also that a bucket worked so well that I'll probably never (yes I said NEVER) go back to using a plunger or even my rapid washer again. No wringer? No problem- wringing by hand worked just fine and I didn't have to get blisters doing it either. The only thing that wasn't as satisfactory as my washer was the men's size jeans. Well at least my husbands super grubby greasy ones. Those ones would definitely benefit from the extra swishing of an electric washer.
     Total cost $0. Had I used rainwater it would be technically completely free as we do have to pay for water. However, I think I'll be pleasantly surprised how much I'll have saved on my next water bill since washing diapers every day used up around 6 gallons or so, versus about 20-30 gallons every time the washer filled, which with diapers is three times or 90 gallons just for the diapers alone!
     Conclusion: Get one of the airtight sealing buckets from your local store bakery (they are handy for tons of stuff besides laundry) and keep it around for your emergency washer. Try it out once or twice to get the feel of it, and tuck it away. You'll be glad you did someday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Murphey's Preparedness

     Well first of all I'm glad I'm prepared. Sunday night I had the privilege of finding out that my washer broke. I usually don't do laundry on Sundays, however since my husband works the night shift he starts a little before midnight. I had such a busy Saturday that I looked over doing his work clothes. The washer did a good job up until the rinse cycle and then... kaput. I think I busted the belt, as I can still hear the motor humming. We'll have to see. What could I do? Would he have his work clothes on time? Thanks to preparedness the answer was yes. Several years ago I had purchased a Rapid Washer from Lehmans Non-Electric and an antique (vintage?) wringer in excellent useable condition off of Ebay. After a good rinse in a bucket in the tub and a squeeze through the wringer I threw them in the dryer to be done just in time.
     A lot of time when we and others discuss preparedness the assumed reasoning is to be prepared for the big stuff- loss of an income, natural disaster, economic collapse, nuclear bombs, EMP's etc. But as the quote on my home page says:
 
Preparedness, when properly pursued, 
is a way of life,
not a sudden, spectacular program.
 
     As the Bible tells us, its the little foxes that spoil the vines. Being prepared when a major appliance goes out doesn't sound like the breathtaking situations we prepare ourselves for, but they do occur, and when we least expect, or can afford them. Preparing for these things in small ways can keep a situation from becoming critical. You don't have to spend big bucks on fancy equipment- grab a couple extra toilet plungers from the dollar store and a couple free icing buckets from the local bakery. A length of cordage scrounged from the garage (provided its grease free) and your problem is solved for under $5. 
     I have really been debating for the last year if I would benefit from a Wonder Wash. I have seen many stellar reviews about them, and several reviews that say they are garbage. What have you heard, do you have one of your own? I have wanted one for several years, but then after reading reviews I must admit I'm a bit skeptical.
     In case you want to brush up on your hand washing knowledge and skills, here is a good reference page on the art of washing clothes by hand HERE. Until next time, I hope you appreciate your electric machines. My back knows I sure do!
 
--Jamie

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dry Bean Conversion and Chili Recipe

     Beans Beans the musical food storage staple! Ok Its been a while for recipes, and what better food storage staple to use than beans?  Beans have a long and glorious heritage, and so does one of our most common foods made from beans- chili. 
     The star of the south, beans can be used in multiple ways, from soups and stews, mashed and fried (or refried as it were) and even as flour! Click HERE for an excellent article on using beans and some little know ways to sneak them into foods without the family noticing.
     One of the things that always gets me though, is how many dry beans equals a can of beans, and vice versa when it comes to recipes. So I'll let you in on a little secret chart I keep written in my recipe book whenever I forget. Also remember that this is for the average bean sizes. There are of course the Limas and then the tiny little beans that you can find as well such as black beans or the smaller red beans. You would probably have to work out your own conversions with these oddball sizes. But for the average joe bean (no not coffee beans) this will work well:

1# dried beans = 2 cups (uncooked)
1# dried beans = 5.5 - 6.5 cups cooked
1 cup dried beans = 3 cups cooked
One 16oz can = 2 cups (with the liquid) or 1.5 cups drained
3 cups cooked beans = 6 servings
1/6-1/8 cup dried beans = 1 serving

     The chili recipe we use is (surprise!) from food.com and listed as a Wendy's copycat recipe. Even for those that haven't tried Wendy's chili (which anymore doesn't taste as good as it used to) this is just perfect. I have since tweaked the recipe as the one on food.com is a bit hotter than Wendy's usually makes it. But otherwise it is exactly the same (and I worked there for three years when I was younger, so I know). Here is my tweaked version:

1# hamburger fried and drained
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans with liquid
1 can pinto beans with liquid
{Note: with our handy dandy conversion chart this equal s 1/2 cup each of kidney and pintos prepared in the usual manner}
1/2 c. chopped onions
2 cans rotel tomatoes (or you can used diced tomatoes and add in 1/2 c. diced green chillies)
1/4 c. diced celery
1-3 t. cumin 
1 T. chili powder (or to taste)
3/4 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1-1.5 c.  water

     Throw all together in a slow cooker or dutch oven for 3+ hours, stirring occasionally. If your from the west serve it with fry bread, if you're from the south serve it with corn bread, if you're from the north eat it with rice, if you're from the east, eat it on a hot dog.
     When I make the chili anymore I cut way back on the chili powder if I use the Rotel tomatoes (my son doesn't like a lot of spice), probably about 1 t. Those Rotels can be pretty spicy on their own. I also use more cumin (yay for cumin!) than most people so I use a whole tablespoon (hint 3t. = 1 T.). 
     This chili also cans up really nice as it is easy to double (or more) the recipe (just process for the same time as hamburger). This is also a good recipe to use with dried foods! I have on occasion thrown this together using nothing but the ground beef and the dried vegetables and water. Turns out just the same. Now with my canned hamburger I can have chili whenever I want. AWESOME!
Enjoy!

--Jamie

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Projects

     A couple days after Lilly was born I woke up at night to feed and change her. Upon my waking I had an urgent sense of "must be ready for the cold". Again a couple hours later, it happened again. Now usually I don't have foreboding type "premonitions" but this really hung heavy on my mind. This wasn't the kind of fun fall-itchy-knitting-fingers ready, or the kind of enthusiasm for the 101 projects I want to start at the first hint of cool breezes. It definitely had a heavy ominous feeling that didn't make me giddy or thrilled inside.
     Since then I've been really concerned about being ready for the cold. As it is a little vague, I'm not sure what areas I need to be ready in. I feel like getting a general swath of readiness in the clothing, food, and bedding areas of our lives.
     To start off with I decided that my zig-zag afghan needs to be getting finished. I also started a two tone blue granny square afghan for Nathans bed out of some acrylic (yeah I know- I cringed too!) that was given to me. The next afghan will be for the girls bed. I have even had inklings of some cardigan-type sweaters trying to force their way into my thoughts.
     In the sewing department, I'd like to have a new quilt for each bed. I plan on doing plain jane square or puff quilts, one for each bed as well. I've finished up the curtains for the living room and kitchen this week and am also going to start working on some for the kids' room and mine as well. I would also like to do some window quilts if I can squeeze the time out for them. It also goes without saying that that the kidlets will need warm p.j.'s and nightgowns (I'm due for some new ones too) and some heavier type clothes.
     The food department is pretty self explanatory- generally: 1.Get food. 2.Dry or can food 3.Try to find some place to put food.
     I've also been thinking about how this is all from an attempt at being ready for "something", when long ago this was the norm for everyone. Everyone had to store up for the cold seasons in this way. Its such a shame that we, as a "civilization" have had to re-learn the art of "survival" which was just normal everyday life for thousands of years, regardless of where a person lived or how rich or poor they were.
     So Ive been setting up goals through these last few weeks to get small things done in order to see larger long term results. I pray that it gets done, and in the proper capacity in which it is needed.
     What about you? Have you had any feelings of this kind? If so (or not) what are the projects you are working on now, for your benefit this fall/winter? Share with us!

--Jamie

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Herbs, Skills and Compassion

For some women its shoes. For others its hats or purses. A friend of mine goes nuts about fabric (which has been known to ring my bell) and stockpiles it like a squirrel on speed (yes Staci I'm talking about you!). But one of the two loves of my online, and offline foraging life is herbs. I admit a sad obsession for checking the UPS and USPS tracking services when expecting a delivery, multiple times in a short period (heaven forbid if I have to wait over a weekend!)
Well once again I've gotten to experience the giddy-ness of meeting my UPS lady and her delivery my way.  There was no chance of me even trying to wipe the stupid grin off my face, as I had the last components of my Vital Herbs formula, calcium formula (which we have been without for some time), and Peoples Paste formula from the Be Your Own Doctor book which I recently reviewed, as well as some Lavender oil which I had been waiting for them to restock since before the baby was born.  SQUEEEEEAAAALLLL! :-D
      I firmly believe that information is our all around best defense in any kind of situation that would require preparedness. When the economy finally does collapse (there is no IF about it) and we are in dire straights, a person better be able to have some form of tangible, or trade-able commodity (since the average joe doesn't keep a chest full of silver coins under the bed) to use for barter and securing a place in the new and emerging social structure of the day. Having valuable information and skills will add to your community and your personal security.
      For instance, my herbal knowledge could be the deciding factor between my acquiring some essential necessity that my family needs that I have no access to. In fact an herbal healing knowledge puts the ball in my court as for placing the trade value on items. How much would it be worth to the person who has no money to afford tylenol (were it available) for a child's fever, to have my skills and and know-how as what needs to be done? What about the man who can't afford to be off work because of a potentially threatening injury or infection? What would you pay to stave off a case of MRSA in the event of no locally available (yet ineffective) antibiotics that a doctor would prescribe to you? Pneumonia? Flu? Diabetes? Heart problems? What is your health and the health of your loved ones really worth to you?
      Back in the day doctors were well off, not necessarily for the money they made, but because of the security. No cash? Well how 'bout a couple of chickens, milk for a month, repair of an item like a wheel? So although my husband tolerates my OCD habit of collecting herbs, it very well may save our family and help us to live with a better quality of life than those around us. It also puts us at an advantage for physical security to some degree. In a community that has fallen apart, they won't kill the person that has the life saving medical knowledge first! Or possibly divert a less than pleasant outcome because I helped a person when they were sick.
      Mostly though these types of scenarios that play through my mind, prove to me again and again the value of skills and knowledge. Book knowledge is good- but hands on is better. Sure it may be awesome to be able to know that I can order these herbs and fix a multitude of problems with the right know how, but what if there were no postal services? What could I use that grew locally?  This is exactly why it is imperative that you as a conscientious person need to develop skills that are valuable to your community. You not only ensure a stable and valued position in that community, but also have something that could be marketable in a bartering system as well.
      This also leads me to say that preparedness should also involve thought for 'the other guy'. My friend Staci relayed a thought to me a while ago, that I thought really defined the reason for the Christians motivation to be prepared. How can a Christian do as Christ commanded, and give to those who are less fortunate and show compassion, mercy, and generosity, when we ourselves are wondering and scrambling to have our own needs met? How could we be a blessing to others when we ourselves are so needy because of our unpreparedness?
      This concept brings me to the place of picking up an extra bottle of peroxide, or rubbing alcohol. It could mean buying another package of toilet paper, or even a few extra bags of beans for a charity box. What about coffee or band aids or diapers, things we ourselves don't even use? The compassion factor would find a nice home in your security plans as well as putting things of bartering value on your shelf that you yourself wouldn't have to depend on for your own survival. It won't do you any good to trade off that last box of powdered milk if your family depends on it for survival- a back up plan would be necessary.
      So I guess there are a few thoughts to stimulate your own thinking about value, skills and the aspect of our Christian duty to bless others. So go find your giddy spot and make it work for you and your families benefit. And if you need to, re prioritize your life and your thinking as to what that might be for you. Yarn may not bring me added security (sanity yes, but not so much security) herbs are a better option for upping our community value, increasing a needed skill, and opportunity for practicing Christ-like compassion towards my neighbor. If you don't have a skill that covers these areas- find one. Become proficient at it. Share it. Then find another. It could save your life some day. And that some day could be sooner than you think.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home Made Cloth Wipes "Pattern"

      Since I've been in the mode of preparing for the baby, I thought I'd share some things that I do for my babies arrival. I've been one to use cloth diapers for all of my babies, and one of the things that grosses me out is to have to pick out disposable wipes from the cloth diapers. So while my first two were in cloth I came up with a simple wipe "pattern". Really its just a series of folds of a one yard piece of flannel material, which is then zig zagged around the edges to prevent fraying. If anything I promote frugality, but whats more is I love combining it with simplicity. I've seen some wipe styles with flannel on one side and toweling on the other, or varying methods, but this is even simpler. I hadn't planned on the fact that my children liked the wipes so well, that during and after they were potty trained they refused to give up their flannel wipes. Not liking the thin and stick to your bottom toilet paper, my children refused to use it.
      Now I know that this might sound odd to many people, but as I also sew my own ladies monthly items, it occurred to me that the cloth might just be the ticket. Finding myself out of toilet paper and desperate, I had to use the children's wipes one day. Wow. Call me weird, gross crazy or whatever, but I found out why the children preferred them over the toilet paper- the flannel was SO MUCH softer and easier on a person than that store-bought stuff! I was hooked. So I bought my own yard of material and have been using cloth wipes for myself ever since (about 3 years going now). Throw them in the wash with the diapers and add a touch of bleach to each load and they are good as new. My husband- a stickler on bathroom propriety was forced to use them one day. And although he doesn't make it a constant habit, told me that they were so much easier on him than the toilet paper for certain "issues". So for good measure I picked up some more flannel and made him his own for emergency situations.
      So whether you choose cloth for yourself, your whole family, or just your baby you can save a lot of money (I about gagged the last time I went to buy my husband a large package of tp at Walmart and saw the price tag!), not to mention if you are a greenie, your impact on that whole issue. For the 1 yard of material ( anywhere from $1 to $3.50 a yard) I have designer wipes that last me about a year. So for our family that means for the price of one package of tp from Walmart I can have softer, prettier, better quality, more durable butt wipe than anyone I know for a whole year! The kids also love getting to pick out their own print every year.
      Hopefully these pictures are pretty straightforward and easy to understand.
 Some things to remember:
  • Edges do not have to be perfectly straight (no one brings a t-square to the bathroom).
  • Be careful not to cut too many layers at the same time as it forms a wrinkle on the inside of the fold which makes for jagged edges.
  • If you do get a jagged edge just even it up. We aren't looking for perfection, just uniform size and shape.
  • Backstitch the beginning and ending zigzag or run over the start of the zigzag as a way to secure the ends and keep them from coming out.
  • You may wash material before starting, but I usually don't. 






      Zigzagging around the edges are all that's left to do. If you have a child that is capable of using a sewing machine on their own, this is a good repetitious project they can help with. If you have any questions feel free to ask. If you'd like to see a clip of what the zigzagging looks like check out my new video where I use the zigzagging foot on my treadle strait-stitch Singer. If you want zip to the last few seconds to see the finished stack of zigzagged wipes.
      
 
      Hope this helps you get some wipes ready for baby or stashed away for when wipes are no longer available or affordable. Hey, who knows it may even save your own rear some day! ;-)

--Jamie

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review and Home Made Ant Terro Recipe

Well there you are and here I am and we're ready for today's blog post! (Boy can you say too much t.v. as a child?) One of the things that I wanted to start out with is a beautiful book I got on trade from my friend Staci for some colloidal silver. This is definitely a book that I'd want to recommend that every household have. It is right up there with the Dr. Christopher books that I have on my book list. Be Your Own "Doctor" by Rachel Weaver is a very valuable resource, and I must say that it has far exceeded my expectations, even though I'd heard rave reviews about it. One thing that I would say about it though is that every "remedy" in the book may not exactly be "herbal" per se. She discusses odds and ends such as charcoal, kerosene, epsom salts, Pantothenic Acid, and a product called "Maximizer".
      Now I've never stumbled upon "Maximizer" growing in my back yard or neighboring feilds, so that is one small drawback. She also recommends specific products like  Emergen-C, a commercial vitamin C supplement. And while all these things are and may well be fine and good, I guess I'm a stickler for the "could I get a hold of this in an emergency situation, or grow/forage it myself?" Also it sorta sticks in my gizzard when I find a really cool recipe, but it uses some kind of product that isn't a national product, or that is no longer on the market, and I can't find substitutes for. An example of that would be the once wildly popular (before cool whip) Dream Whip. Unless you look online, or request that your store carry it, it can be a pain to come across. Now shut down the internet or stop the trucking industry and these kinds of products are no longer available, and all the information that pertains to those chapters are virtually useless to a person.
      Overall this book is very helpful to treat several problems that a lot of herbal books don't touch on. She gives good overviews of the bodies systems and a smattering of some of the most useful herbs that she uses. Two of the best chapters she has are dealing with emergencies (which includes burn information) and her formulas and medicine making instructions which are simple enough for a beginner to understand and follow.  Definitely one for the preparedness library and a great big thumbs up.
      Also as promised, is the recipe we use for ant bait or what is commercially called Terro. Have used this formula for so long I'm not sure where I got it from, somewhere on the internet I suppose. The only difference between this simple concoction and the commercial product is thickness, but I'm sure the ants don't really care- at least not for long LOL. This makes a pretty large batch, but the ratios are easily reducible. No need to store in the refrigerator and lasts as long as you need it. And if you already have borax for your laundry soap recipe you have all the ingredients you need!

Ant Bait
2 c. water
1 c. sugar
2 T. Borax (yes, that's Tablespoons)

Will be blogging again soon here so stay tuned and be prepared!
--Jamie

Friday, June 17, 2011

She's Here! And I'm Back!

Lilliana Joy- May 29th 2011 8# 1oz 21" long!
So sorry for the long delay in getting back. It was much needed to get ready for, have, and then recover and regroup after having our newest daughter- Lilliana Joy! She is now two and a half weeks old and gaining weight like a champ. She has a very agreeable temperament, but its so hard to tell because she is such a great sleeper- 3-6 hours at a time. She is growing so fat so fast now, as she is just coming on to her 3 week growth spurt. I have so much that I want to tell all of you! Things have been jumping into my brain all the time about what I want to post first when I get back online. I'm planning on a recipe for home made Ant Terro- as we've been battling ants like the plague since we've had so much rain here lately. Also wanted to talk about prepping for baby, a really strong impression about prepping for this fall, and what I'm currently doing about it. Also have a new salad dressing recipe that I've tried off of food.com for some Catalina Dressing (a Kraft copycat recipe) that is my new favorite YUM! 
    I May get back to you as early as tomorrow night, but alas many nights I am so whooped at bedtime I fall asleep with my newest little love. But don't give up - it will be soon. Thank you all for the great traffic on the site while I've been away. Hope this information serves you well. 
      -Jamie

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quicky Update

Just wanted to let you all know I'm still here. Last week found a powerful cleaning urge and I really did myself in the first three days. Wednesday was my birthday and also my home-visit for the midwife. For two days after that I sat and did hardly anything but sew, I figured I earned the time off. My husband has also been recovering from an accident in our van- swerving to miss an old couple walking on the road and he ended up hitting  a tree. Fortunately he wasn't severely hurt as the air bag deployed. However he has suffered from some kind of a hairline fracture and severe soreness to his right hip which required crutches and 5 days off from work. A week later the bruises on his legs are just coming out. Also have been getting some of the orders in - my herbs, the Berkey Light (WAHOO!) and the Watersorb crystals to make some cooling neck scarves for the heat this summer. So all in all its been a busy two weeks. That and keeping up with the news and the kids and trying to keep my sanity with expecting the baby in the next couple weeks ( never have made it to my due dates yet!) its been busy. Hope you all have been thinking about what you are doing about food storage and preparedness these last two weeks. So many things have been catching my eye at Drudge that I am amazed I am still sane and not going nuts with the preparing that I want to do.  OH HEY that reminds me I got to can up some chicken and some clarified butter from the videos that I posted for you. I'll put an update of those when I'm able too. Such an empowering experience for me and a pleasant sigh of relief for another bit of security for my family. Now I will be praying for some really good sales so I can stock up on meats to can. YAY!
Hope you have a good day and hopefully I'll get to post here soon!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tax Return Planning

   Well we got our tax return in this Monday. After repaying a small loan my husband gave me $1000 to spend as I saw fit. So the question is, if you had $1000 what would you do with it?
   Right now one of the top things on my list is to get a Berkey water purifier. Having a source of water is most important. Really, what good would dehydrated food do you if you had no way to re-hydrate it? I have been eye-balling a BERKEY  LIGHT for a couple years now. In my opinion anything that can filter out red dye is definitely on the higher end. Now regularly I'd take the frugal route of making my own (see the HOMEMADE BERKEY FILTER link on my Pertinent Links page). In this case however I'm going to go ahead and buy it for the full price and get the "free" gift that is worth $70 on the site (a choice of a shower head, filtering water bottles or the PF2 filters). Since I'd been looking at it on Lehmans, I was glad to see an extra perk if I bought it through the company for the same price that Lehmans offers it for.
   Purchase #2 is going to be that pressure canner that I've been waiting for. With a couple dozen jars to start, I'm planning on putting a little extra money towards meat and butter to can up and store under the bed. Wish me luck!
   #3 is going to be about $150 worth of herbs from herbal advantage, including some capsules, emu oil and another tea ball.
   A possible for #4 is going to be some school cirriculum from Keepers of Faith, something that I can use to home school the children in the basics with quality materials.
   As for the rest, I'm hoping to set some aside for yard sales (hopefully some off season deals like a Kerosene heater) or some barrels for a rain collection system (our water rates went up another 4.4% yesterday).
   Whats on your "To Get" List? Let us know!

Friday, April 15, 2011

No Cook Play-Dough

   Im sure you could find pages and pages of recipes and site after site that has a whole smorgasbord of recipes, but this is the one that I use that we like the best. On these long day after rainy West Virginia days play-dough is a life saver for the bored-out-of-their-mind children and their not-keeping-sane mother. Indulge in the neon colors from the store or let the kids create their own colors from the color charts on the backs of the food coloring boxes. We like to add extras too like glitter and sparkles. Have fun and exparament!

No Cook Play-Dough

1c. flour (and any extras you wish to include like glitter or sparkles)
2T. cream of tartar
1/2c. salt
1T. oil.
1c. boiling water with added coloring

   Stir together dry ingredients and add hot water. Stir together till all is combined and no flour remains uncolored. Let cool. Store in ziplock baggies or air tight containers. Doesn't need to be refrigerated, and lasts for a long time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Singer 15-90 ZigZag Attachment Video

   Just thought I'd let you all know that I have a new video that demonstrates a Singer Adjustable ZigZag attachment (part 121706) on my newly converted 1948 Singer 15-90 treadle machine. In the video I'm working on some cloth wipes for the new baby -something I plan to share with you on how to make (easy peasy) here soon.

   I've looked for videos all over the net for this attachment and the most I found was a 10 second or so clip. I was highly interested in the mechanics of it before I bought it. So here is a little glimpse of it working on an over-edge zigzag to prevent the material from raveling.

   When I can, I'll put up video of the buttonholer in use as well. Hope you enjoy!
--Jamie

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pizza - Crust and Sauce

   One thing about not eating a lot of dairy is the weird looks I get when I order a pizza without cheese. I've grown accustomed to it, and I've been remembered by the folks we most ordered from ("make sure there isn't any cheese on hers!").
    So here are some recipes that we use whenever we want pizza and don't feel like spending the dough (tee hee). Both of these recipes most likely came off of RecipeZaar, but its been so long I can't quite remember. Here they are.

Pizza Crust:
2t. yeast
1c. + 2T. water
2T. oil
2T. sugar
1t. salt
3c. flour

Soften yeast in warm (not hot) water. Add sugar, oil, salt, and flour. Mix till dough comes away from the bowl. Knead on floured surface till smooth (8- 10 min). Let rest 20 -30 min, shape. Makes one large pizza crust. To bake add sauce and toppings and cook untill crust is a light golden brown, and cheese (if using any) in the middle is melted. 

Pizza Sauce (Papa Johns' copy cat) 
In a small pan combine 
1 10 3/4 oz. can of tomato puree ( I use tomato sauce in the closest size to match)
1/4 c. water
1 t. sugar 
1t. olive oil
1/4t. each of :
   lemon juice
   salt
   oregano
   onion
1/8 t. each of:
   basil
   thyme
   garlic powder

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low 15-20 minutes. Use on pizza crust with choice of toppings or as a dipping sauce for bread sticks.

I definitely think this is a good contender against all those chain store pizza shops. Hits the spot every time. Also you can make up double batches (or more) of the sauce and freeze it for later when you need a quick fix for dinner. You can also leave the oil out and dehydrate it into leathers for space saving and food storage purposes- just add the oil when its reconstituted. 

Hope your family enjoys this as much as we do!
--Jamie


ATTENTION : I see many of you are checking out this page-Why don't you stop by the home page and check out this weeks book give away. Details are there and anyone may enter!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heirloom Seeds-OTG (Off The Grid) Reprint

   I got this in the email this morning and thought I would share it with you. This is so much the sentiments that I feel and experience. Even in my closer relationships I feel tentative about sharing my plans and general awareness because I'm nervous about the looks and responses I'll get from these people. This email relays those feelings exactly. This was sent to me for the purpose of promoting their Heirloom Seed Bank. They have a good product, but as with anything it pays to compare and shop around. None the less, here is the "article".

   A recent condescending article out of the New York Times made me understand why there is a "them" and "us" mentality in this world. I'm sure you know the reaction when any type of preparedness topic comes up in polite conversation. I've seen it, and I'm sure you have too.

    It's the little smirk, the raised eyebrow, the quiet chuckle that lets you know in no uncertain terms that you're a lunatic because you choose to be prepared for the hard times coming. We're not talking hard-core survivalists here--we're speaking in terms of "preppers," people who can read the signs of the times and know it's about to get tough, and you better figure out a way to feed your family when it does.
It's like being prepared and not living life on the edge is idiotic for some reason. It's like using your common sense and seeing the way things are, refusing to put on the blinders, is comical to these people and cause for derision and snide insults.
I'm beginning to realize how Noah must have felt!
The Times article starts off with a condescending smirk. The subject is heirloom seeds, and the opening lines start with a suggestion that the reader consider buying a 1936 Oldsmobile coupe. No matter that modern safety features and technology haven't been incorporated into the 1936 car. If you're in the market for a car, why not start with a 75-year-old model? And then the writer comes in with his clever rejoinder and says that's exactly what heirloom seed purchasers are doing.
    We're dinosaurs. We're stupid. We're ignoramuses that just don't understand, refusing to advance into the modern era of genetically modified seed that has been chemically treated and manipulated. After all, according to one seed seller, "modern seeds, which are generally hybrid crosses, produce a 'more vigorous plant, with better resistance to diseases.'"
    We're called "right-thinking" gardeners, spouting an orthodoxy the Times author calls "heirloomism." And the chief executive officer of the Burpee Seed Company states that our desire for heirlooms comes from an "anti-science credo" that has hardened into a "Luddite fundamentalism."
    And this is where the author of the piece really doesn't get it. He goes on about taste, about the size of the plant and supporting structure, about the time it takes for vegetables to grow and harvesting. He never gets into the main reason that we want heirloom seeds.
Independence.
    You see, I'm willing to allow a little more time for my tomato plants to mature if it means I can get the seed from them to grow another crop next year. I'm willing to forego all the wonders of modern science and genetic manipulation (and the resulting crop failure like has happened for those poor farmers in India) for those heirloom seeds that have hardiness etched into their genetic makeup, those varieties that have withstood the test of time and continue to grow and reproduce without needing a life support system to sustain them.
I'm willing to do all that for the sake of not having to depend on a smirking, condescending agri-giant to supply me with my seed stock. I'm willing to do that for the sake of being able to feed my family without having to depend on government subsidies or a faltering economy to do so.
And I'm sure that's the main reason you continue learning, striving, and doing as well.
Independence.
We used to know what that word meant, but many people don't anymore. Those of us who do are ridiculed for our grit and determination. The neighbors look at you askance as you plant another fruit tree, till another garden plot, or try your hand at canning and food storage. Self-sufficiency has become the joke of the modern world that would rather trust its future to dubious associations and connections than experience true freedom.
And freedom is what it's all about.
  Freedom from worry...
    Freedom from stress...
      Freedom from empty stomachs and your children going to bed hungry...
   My Sentiments exactly.

   I hope I don't step on anyone's toes by reprinting this. I've given credit, and hope if I'm in the wrong for reprinting, that someone will make me aware of it. 

--Jamie

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Patternless" Patterns Links

   So sorry for only getting one post in this last week. We are starting to get things rolling with gathering things for our home birth and having more running around to do. I have also been playing with my newly transformed Singer treadle. I'll have to get a picture up for you soon- Its quite a monster of a thing as we took the iron base and slipped it up underneath the cabinet that the machine was originally in. It *just* fit. It certainly won't be winning any aesthetic awards, but it is functional, practical and my son can't jerk it off the table and onto the floor by tripping over the cords (I've lost three machines that way). 

   So as I promised, I have several links for patterns that you might find interesting and useful.

Here is a neat LINK for making different kinds of underwear. Patterns are free and may be printed out. Basic sewing knowledge is required. It says on the front page that it is underwear for men, but obviously this is a language translation mistake, as most of the patterns are for women. This is a lovely set of instructions from an Asian lady.

She even includes a pattern for a simple BRASSIERE for those who are able to wear smaller sizes (not much support needed), and a CAMISOLE.

Another link hub for FREE CLOTHES PATTERNS  includes these items of interest:

I'm a sucker for historical clothing. My husband would flip if started wearing these full time (though some day I'd like to make a set for me and my girls to have fun with). Here is a neat set of instructions for a CIVIL WAR ERA SKIRT  and project instructions for DRAWERS made from pillow cases. I do wear petticoats all the time, as I can't abide the feel of synthetic slips. Another neat set of simple instructions for a PETTICOAT made from a dust ruffle for $1.00. 

I may go ahead and keep adding patterns to this page and to the tab at the top of the page as I come upon them. Obviously I'll probably pass on things that I myself could in good conciensousness wear (with the exception of the mens underwear and ties!), but there are many more links on some of the hub pages that might interest those with differing style opinions.

Hope you enjoy- and happy sewing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sewing- Electrical Alternative

Singer 15-90 Electric With Knee Kicker Pedal
   My husband surprised me last year with a 1948 Singer 15-90 in the original cabinet. The lady that had it took very good care of it and used it regularly. It even has the original seat with it. Ever since having my own spinning wheel Ive loved the treadling action, and it has once again struck with this Singer. 

Singer ZigZag Attachment
   In the interest of converting it I have located a treadle base at a local pawn shop for 35 bucks (can we say hugely ecstatic grin?!). Also for the last couple of days Ive been perusing the best buys on the internet for a zigzag attachments and buttonhole attachments. Ive secured a buttonholer which should be here sometime mid-week, and am waiting for results of a bid for a zigzag attachment on Ebay sometime Tuesday. Depending on how much money I have left I might get a spoked wheel although I got a tip from MalePatternBoldness that it really isn't critical to have a spoked wheel, as the drive belt leather will fit in the groove used by the motor belt. I've also been thinking about using a rubber belt instead of leather as I'm told they don't stretch or slip like the leather ones do. 

Singer Vintage Buttonhole Attachment
   Among the many other great things Ive found for the 15-90's and other vintage and antique sewing machines my heart throbs for the "Black Penguin" walking foot put out by Singer. However for the price range it might have to wait for an extended period of time. Seriously considering a newer version that meets April 1930's standards at a much more affordable price. For a great selection of attachments and parts check out April 1930's.
Rubber Drive Belt

I can't say that these preparations are more or even less important than say food storage, but having a larger family makes it among the necessities. In the event of trade relations going south (already happening) and the availability of cheap imported clothing (on the backs of child and forced labor) going with it, I doubt I would be able to find any modest clothing for my children (especially my girls). Obtaining a variety of patterns is also on my list and I plan a post here very soon about links to useful patterns such as no-pattern patterns, undergarments and such- something that will be very useful when Walmart is no longer importing these items.
Spoked Hand Wheel
  As my friend Staci suggested it's just as important to learn thriving skills as well as survival skills. Survival skills will get you by in the event of emergencies and disasters, but there comes a time when you need to look beyond the immediate and start living again. This is one of my "normalizing" steps- keeping up with seasons and the needs of growing children.
Be looking for the next post on patterns. Hope you have a great day!

-Jamie