Monday, November 29, 2010

Planning A Simple and Natural Christmas

This year, I want to do something different for the holidays. I want to focus on natural Christmas decorations. Not that I won't add some favorite items, but I want to emphasize bringing the outdoors in. Less store bought ornaments, more of nature's seasonal offerings. And of course, a focus on Christ's coming to earth.

Photo Credit: whertha

Usually I start with an artificial pre-lit tree. This year, I will use a fresh cut tree or a living tree. I would most certainly opt for the living tree, but these do not do well indoors, especially with a wood burning stove in the same room because the heat causes the sap to start running after a while. However, I may go with this option and wait until about a week before Christmas to actually bring the tree into the house. If I do, I'll place the  potted tree in a half whiskey barrel lined with some type of plastic so that I can periodically dump ice around the base of the tree in an attempt to keep it cooler. If it leaks onto my floor... well, you can imagine how much damage that could do.

If I go with the fresh cut tree, I'll probably do the same by placing it in the whiskey barrel (if I can find one this time of year). We have 12 foot ceilings in our farmhouse and this will help add some height while hiding whatever we use to stand the tree up. In this case, perhaps a bucket with water! After Christmas, I plan to use the barrel to create a water feature for me bees this spring, complete with water plants for them to sit on while they drink so they won't down.

Ornaments? Years ago I only used handmade items. Perhaps we'll bring these out again and add some popcorn or cranberry garlands. Pottery barn has a lovely paper garland that says "Happy Holidays", but I really want it to say, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!", so I'm going to the dollar tree to purchase some brown kraft paper (wrapping paper) and make my own. Not only will it be more economical, it will be more personal and whimsical.

Photo Credit: Pottery Barn

I'm a big fan of white lights, so I'll definitely keep those, as well as adding some glitter. Natural is lovely, but I'm thinking I want to keep it a bit festive, so a little glitter somewhere... perhaps some pinecones and snowflake ornaments sprayed with glitter. 

Photo Credit: Ballard Designs

Narcissus will be a large part of our display this year. Along with some potted rosemary and fresh greenery, this will be our mainstay throughout the rest of the house. White satin ribbons, a few berries, some pinecones, and on occasion, a splash of spray glitter will finish it off. Hopefully, most of those items will come from our yard or a friends.

Photo Credit: fturmog

I have an entire Bethlehem village that lights up and is wonderfully spectacular to behold, but since we will have 10 people in our home during the holidays, I've decided to save this for another year and instead use an old family manger scene that has been in the family for a while. I haven't decided how to display it yet since there is not creche to go with it, but I'm thinking about a tray with hay surrounded by boughs of pine. I'd love some ideas on this one!

How will you decorate for the holidays?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent: Week 1

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."
~Isaiah 7: 14

Photo Credit: Michael Heilemann

The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
~Luke 1:30-33

The time has come... 

prepare your hearts...

make ready for the coming of your King!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thy Bounties, Gracious Lord!

Thy bounties, gracious Lord,
With gratitude we own;
We bless Thy providential grace,
Which show’rs its blessings down.

With joy the people bring
Their off’rings round Thy throne;
With thankful souls, behold, we pay
A tribute of Thine own.

Photo Credit: everyskyline

O may this sacrifice
To Thee, the Lord, ascend,
An odor of sweet perfume,
Presented by His hand.

May your Thanksgiving be blessed with full hearts of praise!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Southern Cornbread Stuffing

I feel a bit like I'm letting a family secret out of the bag by posting this recipe, but why keep a good thing to just our little clan? This cornbread stuffing has been a favorite in our home for at least two generations, but I suspect it may be a bit older than that. I can't remember a Thanksgiving without it. I think it is the sage and salt combined with the cornbread that appeals to me so much. However, the family didn't always make it with the same ingredients. I've adapted it by switching regular flour for whole wheat, sucanat and honey for white sugar, and so on... I think it just made it that much better! 

Each person will have their own preferences when it comes to turkey and stuffing, but if you're not happy with your own recipe, I encourage you to give this one a try. I've never heard anyone who didn't like it.

Photo Credit: anjuli_ayer

Southern Cornbread Stuffing

2 batches of homemade cornbread (recipe below)
1/2 - 3/4 cup butter (add more if you like)
4 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped parsley
3-4 tsp. dried sage leaves (I like a LOT and usually add more)
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 -2 cups chicken broth 

Crumble cornbread into a very large bowl and set aside. (I always make this the night before and crumble it so it's a bit dry for this recipe.) In a large pan, melt butter and saute celery and onion until tender - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. (At this point, I usually taste it to see if the herbs and salt are to my liking and make adjustments as necessary). 

Using a large fork or spoon, blend in eggs, broth, and vegetable mixture into crumbled cornbread. Continue tossing lightly until well combined and stuffing is moist but not wet. Place in an extra large casserole pan and bake at 350 degrees until heated throughout. Be careful not to overheat as this will dry out, but you don't want it spongy either. (As the cook, you have the prerogative at this point to taste a wee little bite just to make sure it's plenty yummy and done to perfection!)

Whole Wheat Cornbread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sucanat (if making stuffing, you may want to cut way back on the sweetener)
1/2 cup cornmeal (I like to grind mine fresh)
1 T. baking powder (aluminum free as always!)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil (I'm sure you could use coconut oil, but I haven't tried it)
3 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pie pan with butter or olive oil. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat liquid ingredients in a smaller bowl and pour into dry mix. Blend well by hand and pour into greased pie pan. Bake for 35 minutes and test with cake tester. Cornbread should be lightly browned.  (For muffins, bake 18-20 minutes).
Note: When making a double batch for stuffing, I mix both batches at the same time and bake in a 9 x 13 pan until done - check with a cake tester.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving preparations...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Check Out Your Coops!

Today is the unveiling of the Homestead Revival™ Reader's Chicken Coop Extravaganza and they are awesome! Such a creative bunch, too. It's amazing what each family has found to utilize in their specific geographical areas in order to construct their coop or run. Perhaps you'll get some ideas for your own hen house today. 

Credits for each are located underneath the photo and I've included links to additional pictures if the reader is a blogger and has more information. Rather than me tell you a lot about each one, I encourage you to visit them at their blog and get to know them. They can explain things about their design much better than I can.

Leslie of Farm Fresh Fun

Michelle Oborn of Little House in Oregon

 Lynda Reynolds of Williams, California

Sylvia Flanagan of Homestead Hope

 Kathy M. Holton of Trinket's Vintage Treasures

Vicki of Happy Haven

Shannon Hoffman of Metanoa 4 Life

Thy Hand Hath Provided - main coop for layers

Thy Hand Hath Provided - moveable tractor for chicks

  Gail Cagney of Northern Georgia

Catherine Pond of In The Pantry

Megan Jenelle of A Blossoming Homestead

Wasn't that fun!! I love them all. Thanks ladies for participating. You made this post awesome!

Viva la chicken coop!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Blessing

God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with uprightness
And guide the nations on the earth.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us 
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
~Psalm 67 


Friday, November 19, 2010

Homesteading Around The World

How would you like an opportunity to help others homestead in a third world country? Perhaps support a young family that has no financial means or hope of ever becoming independent and self sufficient? Maybe you dream of jumping on a plan when a catastrophe happens in order to aid the needy but realize your limitations? 

There is a way to help...

Several groups, such as Samaritan's Purse, have catalogs during the Christmas holiday season where you can select a project and send money to fund that specific need for a child or family that is struggling just to survive. And I love the fact that the projects span a wide range in terms of cost so that even a child can participate by spending some of their savings. For example, $4 buys a small stuffed lamb that plays "Jesus Loves Me", while on the upper end $15,000 will build a church for suffering believers (your donation is added with others to fund this large project). 

But back to my favorite... homesteading needs that allow a family to become more independent...

Bees $35

Fruit Trees $45

Poultry (Baby Chicks) $14

And at the top of my list... goats. In 38 seconds you can see how this $70 project works.

I plan to have my family sit down after Thanksgiving and pick our gift for Jesus this year. How about you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Food Storage On TV

I debated with myself over posting this information, but I am moving forward and will let you make your own decision... Glenn Beck is having some food storage "experts" (people who have been doing this a long time) on his FOX news program tonight at 5:00 p.m EST. It would be a great opportunity to hear some tips from those who have some experience with this kind of thing. 

Photo Credit: maureen_sill

But please, let me encourage those of you who are new to Homestead Revival™ and my thoughts on preparedness and food storage... do not let fear take over wisdom and trust in God. While there is some common sense to storing a certain amount of food (like having a savings account), you will NEVER be able to store enough to become entirely independent or self-sufficient. God has designed it so we must live in community. To miss this point, is to fail at being prepared (among other things). And the best way to prepare is to learn skills and have an active homestead with a garden and tools as well as some fruit trees, product producing animals with someplace to free range, and hunting and fishing gear. Not everyone can do all of this, but even if you have some of it in place, you will be miles ahead of many and will have something to barter with should the need arise. You can access my Preparedness Index which lists all my posts on the topic by clicking here.

Viewing a show like this on Glenn Beck might generate some good ideas, but you will need to pick and choose as well as consider what is being said in light of the entire Scriptures. (If you miss the broadcast, I believe you can view it after today by clicking here.) And perhaps the episode will generate some good discussions as well. For our generation, being prepared begins with being open to learning new ways of doing things. 

Don't forget to send in your chicken coop pictures - the deadline is Sunday!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where Have All The Cooks Gone?

I'm very excited that today I'm getting a rare opportunity to "go out with the girls" and attend the Taste of Home Cooking School. It may not be the kind of cooking I do on a regular basis, but there are always new ideas to be had at an event like this! And to make this even more fun, my oldest daughter and her friend are joining us! I love that she wants to know how to cook and cook well. Some young man is going to really be blessed to have good meals one day!

Photo Credit: SabrinaDan Photo

Sadly, food preparation from scratch is not in vogue in today's modern society. I was chatting by email with another blogger this past week and she shared that her church had planted a garden and when harvested, shared it with the needy. Great idea you say? An unforseen problem arose that might surprise you... 

...it seems that the recipients did not know how to prepare fresh vegetables. Grant it, some did not have the means to prepare it due to lack of tools and facilities, but I was slightly shocked that some did not know what to do with the food and therefore, could not benefit from it. 

In my mind, I kept thinking that this would be the case someday if we did not make a specific plan and effort to pass this knowledge on, but I did not realize that we had actually arrived at this point in our "homemaking history". We're there... and it's sad.

For many in this day and age, cooking consists of opening a can or box, adding water, and microwaving something that sort of resembles food. And at least 3 or 4 nights a week, the meal is from some establishment other than the family kitchen. I wish I had statistics on this, but it's almost cheaper for a family to eat off a dollar menu or get a bunch of 89 cent tacos than to purchase healthy food at the store and prepare it. And why should they when they're so busy? There just doesn't seem to be immediate incentives to preparing food from scratch... and we're an immediate society. When we're hungry, we want our food NOW and not in an hour. (Okay, I hope everyone knows I'm speaking in general terms when I use the term "we").

Food from scratch has so many more benefits, but few are obvious and so immediate. Years ago there was no choice but to be patient and cook your meals from the garden bounty or the kill brought home at the end of the day. Today, one must appreciate the merits of the entire process and focus on the outcome in order to willingly sacrifice the time and energy to make such a commitment. But what is gained is priceless...

• patience
• diligence
• work ethic
• culinary skills
• healthier choices
• food prepare with love 
• strengthened relationships with family members as you co-labor in the kitchen
• a sense of belonging while feasting at the table
• peace as you slow down to participate in this process

And if you garden and grow the food, the list is expanded even more!

My spirit grieves for those who are missing out on these things! How do we change the tide when the current is so strong and the journey up river? Perhaps we can't reach everyone. But we can preserve it in our own homes and reach out to those who are searching. We can pass a legacy of "slow food" prepared from scratch to our own children. It will make a difference to them.

I've only scratched the surface of this issue and if you have any thoughts on the topic, I invite you to share your comments and encourage!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Want To Show Off Your Coop?

Yes, I'm still here! Sorry it's been a long week without posts. It's no fun coming to a blog where there's nothing new, but I hope to do a little better this week.

I'm extending the deadline a week for those who would like to share their chicken coop pictures. So far, I've had three readers send in their photo. Please don't feel like it needs to be super-duper special or over the top. We just want to see what others are doing and get inspired that we can do this, too. Besides, we'll learn a little about you just be seeing your hen house! So if you can email me a photo by next Sunday, I'd love to share it (homesteadrevival at sbcglobal dot net). And be sure to let me know your blog URL so I can include it as well.

Photo Credit: druid labs
I can't wait to see them all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcome Jimmy Pickles!

I want to introduce you to Jimmy Pickles - a new advertiser here at Homestead Revival™.  Oh, the cute things Cherie designs! Check out the darling key fobs that you can wear on your wrists to keep those keys at hand...

I love the fact that they are stylish, comfortable, bright, and large enough to find in the bottom of my big bag! And isn't it nice to be able to just slip your keys on and grab your wallet for those quick trips in the store. I love my purse, but there are times you just don't want to carry it with you. I know guys just stash them in their pockets, but girls just don't seem to prefer this. The wristlet is much better!

Here's mine...

Cherie also makes lovely pocket and coin purses, coupon organizers, and eyeglass cases...

Beautiful, yes? And the price point is excellent. Well done, Cherie!

Any orders $10 and over placed at Jimmy Pickles between Monday, November 8, 2010 and Friday, November 12, 2010 will receive *FREE SHIPPING! Just use the code: "Homestead" in the message box and Cherie will either send you a revised invoice or you can wait for a PayPal refund. 
(*U.S. addresses only)

I want to take a minute to thank all of you who shop my advertisers, affiliates (VitaMix and Excalibur), as well as my Amazon bookstore because you are helping moms like me stay on the homestead! Do you realize this? It's huge for most of us. We want to be home, yet with today's economy, things are tight and most families need extra income. And with that, I realize your purchases must be well planned and thought out. Cherie's product as well as the others are of the highest quality and useful. I hope you'll keep Jimmy Pickles in mind when you start looking for stocking stuffers and Christmas or birthday gifts this year; or if you need something to replace your own worn out items.


Welcome, Cherie. May your business blossom!


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