Monday, January 11, 2016

What I read 2016

A running list of what I've read this year.  * is pretty good, ** is pretty great

1. **Hands-On Home by Erica Strauss  (amazing home goods, canning, personal care and more, blog)

2. Food Gift Love by Maggie Batista  (recipes and how to package them, just didn't jive with me)

3. *We are All Completely Beside Ourselves  (girl and chimp raised as twins, twisted way of telling story, but a good read)

4. *Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (world has fallen apart, story of traveling Shakespeare troupe and how people cope years later, all stories are connected and slowly you learn how)

5. *Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay (sweet read about an orphan grad student seen through her letters to her benefactor)

6. **Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher (great cookbook with easy, inexpensive meals, maple oat breakfast cake!)

7. *Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano (interesting take on what our exerience of heaven will be now and after the second coming)

8. * The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (saw movie a while ago so it felt like I was reliving that, rabid Eagles fan with mental issues, girl with a set of her own, withdrawn Dad, missing years, and a dance contest...yup, pretty crazy book)

9. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (funny, but way too worried about everything being liberal, series of essays some of which have him taking on different personalities)

10. *Missoula by Jon Krakauer (very disturbing account of how rape is deal, specifically looking at Missoula, but really applies everywhere, drinking and drugs are at the start of every. single. case. and I just am even more focused on raising our kids to make good choices all the way around)

11. *Wonder by R. J.  Palacio (a young adult book about a boy with physical deformity and heading to school for the first in 5th grade, quick read, well written)

12. *tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed (advice letters she has written as Dear Sugar, many dealing with the craziest of love situations, but also fairly univeral in emotion)

13. **The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle (funny, touching, real book about her marriage and her faith...last year I read Sparkly Green Earings by her about motherhood, also great)

14. *brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (free verse style, story of her childhood, mother leaving father, moving in with grandparents, then to NY with mom)

15. Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka (didn't make anything, lots of pretty photos, good sounding recipes, but nothing earth shattering to me and everything is lowfat, etc., pretty much real food, good advice on portions)

16. *365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O'Dea (read the blog during the year she made 365 crockpot recipes, yummy ideas including recipes not on the blog)

17. *the new Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown (everything you could ever want to eat made in a cast iron skillet)

18. **the Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook (read it before, but wanted new ideas from it, Amish Chicken Bake and the Simple Berrry Cobbler are both favorites)

19. **Nobody's Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle  (another funny, great book by Melanie, this one about friendships and faith)

20. * Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay  (story of two sisters (one a chef) and their dad and cancer...their mom's cancer and Jane's cancer...sweet love story added in and lots of Austen references, just like Dear Mr. Knightly)

21. ** Listening is an Act of Love edited by Dave Isay (Storycorps project records every day Americans being interviewed by those they love, a collection of a few of the 10,000 they've recorded)

22. *Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Risfka Brunt (a young girl loses her uncle, the love of her life, to AIDS back in the 80s when it was new and scary, discovers his partner that her family hid form her and helps him in his last months, lots of issues with her sister, but in the end the family pulls together again)

23.  *All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  (WWII, a young blind girl, her museum locksmith father, a diamond, an orphan with a gift for radios and the sadness and desperation of the times...the story jumps between the two stories and timeline, but is not hard to follow and shows many beautiful things in the midst of horror, I don't have the same crazy love for it as many do, but it was a well written, wonderful read)

24. **For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (her writing is like talking with a great friend who can make you laugh and think all at the same time, she has big love for Jesus and wants us all to focus on that a whole lot more and being critical of ourselves and others a whole lot less, a wonderful quick read for any woman who is over scheduled, over Pinterested, and just wants to live their life in a fun, whole, Jesus loving, family centered way)


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas books to watch for and request!

Here are some of our favorite Christmas books that we don't own (yet.)

The Legend of the Christmas Rose by Willliam H. Hooks
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
What Can I give Him?  Debi Gliori
Our Lady of Guadalupe by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
Emma's Christmas  by Irene Trivas
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard H. Schneider
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
The Shy Little Angel by Ruth Brown
Only A Star  by Margery Facklam
The Legend of the Candy Cane  by Lori Walburg
The Biggest Snowman Ever  by Steven Kroll
Marta and the Manger Straw  by Virginia Kroll
The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey  by Robert Byrd
Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve?  by Jan Brett
The Tub People's Christmas by Pam Conrad
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
Silent Night the song and the story  by Margaret Hodges
One Wintery Night by Ruth Bell Graham
Jotham's Journey

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving books 2015

Some of our favorite this year!

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson
Three Young Pilgrims  by Cheryl Harness
This is the Feast by Diane Z Shore
The Boy Who Fell off the Mayflower  by P.J. Lynch
The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell

Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston is a beautiful fall book!
The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Monday, November 9, 2015

Preserving 2015

This has been a big year!  Here is the run down...

Frozen Items

Beet Greens 1 big bag
Garlic Mustard  4 small bags
Swiss Chard  6 small bags, 3 quart bags and one huge bag
Kale 21 small bags, 3 large bags
Green Peppers approximately 100 peppers chopped and sliced for fajitas
Orange Pepper 4 quart bags sliced for fajitas
Mulberries  6 quarts, 5 gallons
Black caps 5 quarts
Red Raspberries 1 quart
Blueberries 9 quarts
Peaches 1 gallon
Garlic scapes 14 bags chopped, 10 jars of paste
Strawberries 6 jars of sliced, 1 gallon whole
Tart Cherries 2 gallons
Green Beans 14 big bags, 10 medium bags
Cauliflower 7 bags
Pesto 20 small jars
Zucchini 4 bags shredded
Garden Marinara 2 quarts
Garlic Lemon Veggies for bisque 5 jars (3 soup recipes)
Zucchini Butter 6 large batches
Beets 6 bags
Cinnamon Apples 6 gallons
Squash/butternut squash/pumpkin puree  17 pb jars
Pumpkin Butter 10 1/2 pint jars

Apples 7 quarts
Cherry tomatoes 2 quarts, 1 pint
Thyme, Oregano, Chives, and lots of Mint

Garden Marinara  7 quarts, 2 pints
Tomatoes 22 quarts, 1 pint
Tomato 'water' 4 quarts
Salsa 16 quarts
Spiced apples 2 quarts and 9 pints
Pears 25 quarts, 5 pints
Peaches 12 quarts
Peach Juice 4 quarts, 1 pint
Cherry lime syrup 3 pints
Applesauce 51 quarts, 2 pints
Apple 'juice' 2 quarts
Pear 'juice' 3 pints
Dilly beans 9 pints
Garlic Dill pickles 20 quarts
Bread and butter pickles 7 quarts
Pickled garlic scapes 1 quart, 11 pints
Chard Stems w/ Sriracha  5 pints, regular 3 pints
Roasted corn salsa 9 pints
Fiesta Corn relish 10 pints
Spiced cranberry apple sauce 3 pints, 1 half pint
Sliced apples 4 quarts
Apple Bourbon Chipotle BBQ sauce 15 pints, 1 quart
Spiced Pear Pancake sauce 4 pints, 1 quart


Mulberrry jam 13 pints, 2 half pints
Blueberry cinnamon 4 pints
Black cap/Mulberry 6 half pints
Pear spice 7 pints, 4 half pints
Wild grape jelly 11 half pints
Rhubarb vanilla 2 pints

I still have about 15 butternut squash and 3 large other ones to freeze (one Hubbard and two other ones).  These got eaten and turned into puree and pumpkin butter.  I've got about 5 small cabbages in the fridge along with beets and turnips.  Kale, chard, turnips, lettuce and spinach still out in the garden and doing okay in the frosts/freezes so far.  Lots of maple syrup canned up, along with pinto, black and garbanzo beans, chicken and beef stock.  We put 21 chickens in the freezer (gave two away) and have a little pork (last year's pig purchase) and lots of beef (fall of 2013) left from previous years.  We get our honey from 2 miles away and our milk from 10 miles away.  Most of our produce came from our 10 raised and 1 in ground gardens, mulberry trees, and black cap vines.  The extra squash and peppers came from Brad at the market, garlic scapes from The Blossom and The Bean, apples from multiple neighbors and Orchard Ridge, pears from tree near church and Orchard Ridge, cherries from our tree and Korleskis, corn from McCabes and peaches from Kaufmans.  Really happy with everything turning out as good as it did with our incredibly challenging year and especially summer.  We foraged the garlic mustard and asparagus in the spring and just missed out on some puff ball mushrooms this fall!  Lots of jars are filled...makes me feel so content and secure to see them filled up.  Still had a decent amount of applesauce, tomato chutney and other items left from last year.  Last count put the jars filled right around 450 or so :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chickens 2015

It is kind of amazing that I even raised meat birds this year.  But they did get ordered and they were raised and small that they were, they were butchered.  I started with 21 birds and ended with 20, 10 males and 10 females.  Jilleen and I butchered 10 and 1 hen at 9 weeks and Korleskis and Turners helped butcher the remaining 10 and 2 other hens at 9.5 weeks.  We also did Turner's 3 hens that day as well.

So, I kept bad records on food this year.  Like I'm not 100% on how many bags we went through.  It was either 7 or 8 or 9...seriously, not good records.  I won't have an exact numbers, but will do a high/low instead I think.

So the most possible I spent on food and chicks was $178.36, but I believe that includes 3 bags of food for the hens.  The least possible I spent was around $140.  They just got Farm and Fleet food, but it was fermented with apple cider vinegar for most of their life.  They were slowed down at the beginning on purpose, but also at the end because I could not take care of them for about 2 weeks due to my foot impaling issue.

Total weight on the 20 meat birds was 78 pounds, 10 oz, which is about 1 pound more than my 15 birds did last year.  The first group of males averaged just over 4.1 pounds, the second group of females averaged around 3.7 pounds.  We got an additional 2 lbs, 6 oz of liver and hearts for consumption and saved the 40 feet as well.

We butchered 3 of our old laying hens and they weighed out at 10 lbs, 4 oz.  The variance was crazy...the Wellsumer was 1 lb, 14 oz, one of the Black Austrolorps was 4 lbs, 10 ozs!

We kept 18 birds, giving two to the helper families.  We also butchered the three additional hens which ended up around 8 lbs total.

So meat chicken totals are somewhere between $2.26/lb and $1.77.  Honestly I think it is closer to the 1.77, which is right where it was last year.  Hopefully I'll keep better records next year and hopefully they can grow out as well as they did last year!  But again, I am very grateful to have almost 90 pounds of home grown meat ready for my family to enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Preservation 2014

So yeah, it is Feb of 2015 and I'm just getting around to this.  But at least I'll have the record of what was preserved in 2014.  This list may be less than perfect and it is less that I would have liked, but our lives basically exploded in August of 2014 so I'm content with what got done.  Here is a fairly good list of all the canning and other preservation that happened on our little piece of land!  Much of the produce was raised here or next door.  I did stock up on squash and potatoes as well.  The grapes were dropped off by a neighbor and the peaches and blueberries were bought from Kaufmans.  Not the most amazing year, but we did raise our first meat and have 4 hens laying eggs.  For all that happened this year I am okay with where it all ended up.  Here's hoping for a lot more home grown produce being preserved this year!

15 meat chickens raised and butchered for a total of 77 pounds, plus odds and ends and feet.

Mulberry jam  10 half pints
Strawberry jam/syrup  8 half pint/ pint jars
Wild grape jelly (2013's frozen grapes) 6 half pints
Peach pit syrup 7 pints

Frozen blueberries 32 pounds
Frozen mulberries 2 gallons
Frozen black cap raspberries 2 containers (2 quarts?)
Frozen strawberries 10 pb jars, 1 gallon bag
Frozen peaches 2 gallons

Dehydrated apples 8 quarts

Grape juice 32 quarts
Applesauce 56 quarts and 4 pints
Canned peaches 14 quarts and 1 pint

Frozen veggies
Yellow squash 4 bags
Roasted beets 6 bags
Zuchinni-shredded 15 bags
Corn 22 bags
Green Beans 8 bags
Kale 6 bags
Brocoli 2 large bags
Zucchini butter 8 cups

Garden Marinara  6 quarts
Dilly beans 5 pints
Zucchini Relish 8 pints
Quicker Kosher pickles 7 quarts
Dill pickles 8 quarts
Bread and Butter pickles 4 quarts and 1 pint
Sweet Jalepnos 3 pints
Addictive tomato chutney 4 pints
Roasted pasta sauce 4 quarts and 7 pints
Fiesta corn relish 7 pints
Crushed/diced tomatoes 28 quarts
Tomato Juice 2 quarts and 1 pint
Roasted corn salsa 12 pints
Tomato water/light juice 4 quarts
Pizza sauce 9 half pints regular 7 pints spicey
Pickled garlic cherry tomatoeos 4 quarts
V-8 juic 4 quarts
Pickled jalapenos 1 half and 1 quarter pint
Salsa didn't record, but guessing about 21 quarts

Dried Herbs
Mint, Thyme, Oregano

Dried yellow pear tomatoes 1 quart
Roasted roma tomatoes 1 quart  (kept in freezer)

We continued to get honey from a local family, raw milk from a local family, maple syrup was still from last year, but needs to be restocked, and the pig was from our local butcher.  We raised the chickens and our beef is still going strong.  I think we'll probably be able to go 3 years on the half we bought in 2013, it was huge!  We raised some of our eggs, the rest were bought locally. We also did get a bunch of things out of the in-laws freezer as we are cleaning out their house.  It was mostly food I would never have bought and a bunch of it was given to others, but we are eating quite a bit.  That may have lowered our budget slightly, but I'm not really worrying about it.  The grocery budget is impacted by the monthly bag we provide to the local food pantry and making homemade dog food.  That and the general raising of prices :)

So the total for 2014 was $3961.18.  $800 lower than 2013, but also no huge beef purchase, so overall probably higher.  It works out to $76.18/week or $3.63/meal.  Considering we are a family of 5 with three growing children I think that is kind of amazing.  With the general quality of food we are eating I am happy with where we are.  Crazy to think I spend about $.73/person/meal this year.  Yes, we do go away sometimes and Mike eats out at times during the summer, but overall we eat at home and pack food when we are away, so although it isn't an exact number it is fairly close and I am happy with where we are at.  On to more growing our own!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Our first home grown meat is finished!  So excited that I took the plunge and just went for it.  It really wasn't hard, but did take time.  It cost more than I thought (isn't that always the case) as they went through about 2 more bags of food than I had figured.  And the butchering wasn't easy, but it also wasn't hard and it did go fast.  Next time I'll have sharper tools and a better set up and it should go even better!  I butchered 4 of the biggest roosters at 8 weeks and 1 day and the other 11 we did at 4 days.

So the breakdown...

Ordered 15 chicks, was sent 16, lost one at 3 the end the remaining 15 made it to the freezer!  Chicks cost $25.

Went through 7 fifty pound bags of food at about $16 each after tax.  So total was $137 in chicks and food.  I did spend money to build the tractor, buys some dishes, some apple cider vinegar, etc, but most of these are reusable items, so only counting in the cost of this batch in figuring $/pound.

We ended up with 14 birds for roasting (or whatever) and one in pieces.  He had a broken wing that was starting to get infected.  To be safe I just took both wings off and kept his legs and breast meat.  Total meat weight was 77 pounds, would have been 2-3 pounds higher had he been left whole. Birds finished right around 5 pounds each with a few roosters going up to 6 and just over.  I also kept the 30 feet for making stock, the livers for making dog food (maybe 2 pounds worth?) and the 7 pounds of odds and ends (heart, gizzard and necks) for adding to stock.  Amazing how much  comes off those birds that were little puff balls 8 weeks ago. 

So total meat was 77 pounds and cost was $137 making our breakdown $1.77/lb.  If we include everything else it comes down significantly, but just comparing to roasters in the store that is where we land.  Of course, our birds have no solution added so that is the real weight and we know how they were raised and that they had a good life.  Many good days and a few bad moments hopefully means some great tasting chicken!

What an adventure!