Monday, December 30, 2013

Something Old, Something New

The lack of posts recently have not been my mother's fault. It is all mine and the fact that I am getting married in two months.

We are all so excited here on the homestead, but it has definitely cut down all of our free time. In fact, I should be writing thank you notes right now.

But I figured it was a good time to stop and share the news. I'm getting married!

Misty Dameron Photography
Along with my big news we have had road trips, bursting pipes, and a shoulder surgery (just to name a few). Someday our lives will calm down enough so that we can get back to every day adventures, but between now and then -
Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Farmhouse Fall Tour

I do love fall! Hands down it's my favorite time of year. I think it's all the deep rich colors that I adore the most, but the brisk mornings, occasional fog, and other "signs" of autumn just take it over the top. Really... what's not to love about it?

When it comes to dressing up the home for the season, I really don't do all that much. For the most part I prefer to bring the outdoors in a bit, but none-the-less, I thought I'd share just a few photos for fun.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Plan To Eat... On Sale SOON!

It's good to get updates every now and then on products I've reviewed in the past. One that I'm still raving about... PLAN TO EAT.

Yes, I'll be renewing my subscription at the end of this month in order to save B.I.G. when it goes on sale because I use it just about every. single. day. Now I can't say I always actually PLAN, but I do use it for storing my recipes if nothing else. I love how they easily input from websites and can be printed for my 3 ring binders. With photos!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

I don't want to give the impression I NEVER plan... no, no, no. I just don't plan as often as I'd like. Life is just kind of messy like that. Did I ever mention that the older kids get, the less predictable life is?

For some of my past reviews of PLAN TO EAT, just do a search over on the right sidebar... all my past posts on the subject will appear before your very eyes.

Be sure to check out some of the NEW FEATURES, such as the cooking view... I LOVE it!! (Thank you PLAN TO EAT for continually making fantastic improvements!)

• Mark your calendar for Nov 29 - Dec 2.
• Access PLAN TO EAT though Homestead Revival if you would be so kind (it's about the only thing I'm still an affiliate for and I will earn a small commission).
• Renew or Purchase a subscription at 50% off - woo hoo!!
• Enjoy the benefits of organized recipes just in time for all that holiday cooking and baking.
• Pat yourself on the back for being so thrifty and smart.

You go girl!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Preparing Now for Advent

Hmmm... that title is a bit redundant. While the latin word for Advent means "arrival" or "coming", traditionally, it is used to signify the time period where believers prepare their heart... "the season leading up to Christmas" (J. Piper). So preparing for advent is like saying preparing to prepare!

Well... yes. That is exactly what I mean.

Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. And I don't want to miss a second of it! I L.O.V.E. advent. Yet, if I don't prepare to practice advent IN ADVANCE, I'm sure to miss something good. At least that's how my mind works.

So each year I TRY to be prepared to prepare. I plan how I want to practice the presence of God in the days leading up to Christmas. While it always includes Sunday evening services (in addition to Sunday mornings), I usually include a daily time of reflection and meditation of some sort. Sometimes it is a book I want to read about Christ's coming, but usually it is a devotional written especially for Advent.

This year it was a no brainer...

In fact, I about shouted with joy when I saw Ann Voskamp had published her newest book, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. I wasted zero time getting to the bookstore to pick up a copy of my own.

And if the introduction is any indication of what awaits beginning December 1st, I will not be disappointed. {...warm smile...}

Just thought you might want to prepare to prepare and get your own copy... in advance of Advent. {... big smile!...}

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

September & October Highlights

Hello world. Still here in blogland... although quietly so. I don't dare promise to start writing regularly because as soon as I do, I'm sure to fail at that. Life has a way of getting busy when I least expect it! However, for now, the week is wide open with only school and Bible study and a little fun side trip planned for the weekend. Haven't done that in a while! (Road trip, that is.)

The house is still for sale if anyone's interested... it would bless my socks off to turn over Sweetwater Farm to someone who would love it just as much as we have. Around here the-cat-is-out-of-the-bag... we've found a new location that we believe will be our future homestead...

• closer to town (less gas)
• less acreage but more useable space - 2 acres all the way to the trees in back  (should be easier to maintain)
• able to build what we need (with cash when the house sells)

That alone has kept us busy with research, negotiations, crunching numbers on building, etc. While we wait for it to sell, we've kept busy...

A photo shoot for the local magazine that was lots of fun...

Tehachapi Lifestyle Magazine

Re-homing the bucklings to their new ranch...

New kittens ("B Team" Mousers in training - they're spending more time indoors than out 'cause we love 'em so much!)...

Family photos (sneak peak)...

Wendy Carr Photography

And enjoying as much of the fall weather as we can possibly absorb before the leaves are all gone...

Come Saturday, a little fall drive and my annual antique "outing" with girlfriends...

Remnants of the Past

What treasures await??!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple & Walnut Oatmeal

Fall arrived early this year... blew in over the weekend in full force! And the Lord blessed us with a great rain to boot! This morning we woke up to the thermometer hovering just above the freezing mark. A warm hearty breakfast just seemed in order. One of my favorites? Apples and Walnuts over oatmeal. 

Apple & Walnut Oatmeal

2 cups rolled organic oats
2 cups milk
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
maple syrup
cinnamon (optional)

Heat milk, water, and salt in pan on stove until bubbles form around the edges. Pour in oatmeal, stir, and simmer until liquid is reduced to your liking (usually between 5-10 minutes). Meanwhile, chop walnuts and toast under broiler until golden brown, chop apples, and add about 1/2 T or less of butter to bowl and 1/2 - 1 T. maple syrup (adjust all to your preferences). 

Serve oatmeal over butter and syrup in bowls and top with apples and walnuts; sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. And enjoy!

For some FABULOUS organic walnuts, try Brit's @ Fillmore Farms. She's a Homestead Revival reader and their walnuts are the B.E.S.T.!!

Now, serve up a nice cold glass of fresh apple cider from the local orchards and you'll be feeling "fall-ish" inside and out! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A New Adventure: Selling the Homestead

Yes, it's true. We have put the homestead up for sale.

"Amy, are you insane? What are you thinking?"

Well, there are a few reasons actually. And it's not something that we just decided to do on the spur of the moment. It's been a topic of conversation for several years in our home. In fact, we had it on the market 3 years ago, but decided to stay and plow through some challenges. But the Lord has clearly shown us that He has another plan for us.

1. Downsizing. Our family will only get smaller in the next few years, not larger. When we built this house, our family was in a period of expansion. That time is over and has come to a close. This home is definitely an asset for a large family.

2. Health. If you've been a reader here for a while, you know my husband has a chronic health issue that makes keeping a large home a challenge. I'm no spring chick either! And as our own chicks fly the coop, it's just more  house than we'll need. The garden is big, the coop is big, the property is big. Perfect for a bunch of kids to conquer or a young couple to develop. I had wanted to plant a small apple orchard out back, build a gazebo at the top of the hill, add a barn, etc. While the zoning doesn't allow for commercial businesses to operate on the property, one could still harvest an apple crop and take it elsewhere to trade or sell.

3. Debt. We are just one step away from being totally 100% debt free. Yes... we can smell it!!! And we want it. Our mortgage is the last thing to pay off. We are very blessed NOT to be upside down in our house - we built when the market was down and not inflated. So by selling and buying or building a smaller home, we can pay cash.

So, I look at this as a new adventure. An opportunity to try something new. We're not giving up on homesteading. Not in the least! But it will be smaller in scale... otherwise, not much will change. In fact, we plan to stay in the area because we love it so much here!

It would totally bless my heart to see someone with a passion for homesteading living in this house. I'm sure it would make the transition so much easier, knowing Sweetwater Farm would have the same love and attention. If you're looking for a homestead you can sink your roots into, perhaps this may be just the place! (See more photos and specifics HERE; for Farmhouse Tour Photos click HERE; for more on Bear Valley Springs visit the site at http://www.bvsa.org/)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Welcome, Little Ones!


Sunday, August 18, 2013
Shadow Hills Frieda

Two DARLING bucks!

Momma and kids are doing great. More cute-ness to follow soon, I'm sure! But here's a few more for now... because I can't resist!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gluten Free Lasagna

Ever since I was fifteen I have been put on different diets to try to fix some medical issues. In the last year I have been cutting out gluten which has helped, but as usual my options have become limited. Most restaurants, family recipes, and entire food groups present a problem for me and many others. Because of this, I have been compiling healthy, filling, and delicious recipes that my entire family can enjoy. 

What is Gluten?
I get this question on a regular basis. Gluten actually comes from the Latin word for glue. It is part of the protein that helps dough stick together. It is in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. It also contains protein. 
There are several different types of medical issues related to gluten which are usually divided between sensitivity and allergy. Celiac disease is one of these medical issues that is relatively well known. Those who have this or other brands of gluten intolerance can not even eat food that has been cross contaminated. It can make someone a little paranoid. 

  • 1 eggplant 
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 summer squash
  • 1 1/4 pounds Ground Beef
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes or 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel off and feed to chickens thin slice from sides of eggplant. Cut eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash crosswise into thin (1/8 - 1/4 inch) slices; set aside. 
I find the best way to do this is by using a long serrated knife like a bread knife and start by slicing through the middle. This give you an even flat surface to work with. This is a great midsummer recipe, but we are still harvesting the last of our zucchini so we get to enjoy it into November. 

2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef; cook 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally to break up meat. remove from skillet; drain fat.
         This is the best time to get your layering station set up with the grated cheeses, a spatula, and  enough room to maneuver your meat sauce pan. 

3. Add bell peppers and mushrooms to skillet; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Return sausage to skillet. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, and herbs; cook and stir over medium- heat 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
        The first time I made this I used cubanelle peppers which gave the dish a little more zing. Early in the bell pepper season my boss sent me home with two bushels of cosmetically challenged bell peppers, so I chopped them up and froze them. Bell peppers are a more dry vegetable, so even when they are frozen they break apart from a block of peppers easily. 

4. Layer one third of eggplant, zucchini and summer squash in 13x9 inch pan. Spread half of ricotta cheese over vegetables and the mozzarella . Top with one third of tomato sauce mixture. Repeat layers once ending with final layer of vegetables and tomato sauce mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover pan with foil.

      Ricotta cheese is a little tricky. It is very wet, so put a little olive oil on your fingers to help you spread it out evenly over the veggies. Fortunately it melts, so even if you don’t get cheese everywhere, the oven will fix it. 

5. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake, uncovered, 10- 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.

There will be a lot of residual liquid, so just make sure you don’t lose a layer of goodness at the bottom of your pan. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Month of May...

May has come and gone and June has set in with it's summer heat. Before spring 2013 departed, the May winds almost never let up and I was sure the calendar should have read March, especially with a cold snap or two. However, May was filled with all the drama that one expects as spring wraps up and summer approaches.

By June 1st, I finally was able to put tomatoes and other heat loving vegetables in the garden with confidence, albeit late, so I'm hoping they take off and catch up before the first frost sets in. This year's crop is an experiment with a variety of heirloom tomatoes, an assortment of peppers, and at least 5 varieties of eggplant. I'm hoping to find the variety that is best in my "something less than zone 7" garden.

If I've learned anything this past winter in gardening, it's that I'm NOT a zone 7 (no, no... much colder!). I lost 2 fig trees and 2 bay trees in the first cold snap this past winter despite the weather app that said it only dipped to 19 degrees. However, that was 15-20 miles away in town. Lesson learned... my micro-climate is NOT the same.

Another May event that was more emotional by far, was the near loss of our beloved Golden Retriever, Belle. At 12.5 years, she was suddenly going down fast, but a great vet and one surgery later, Belle's feeling better than she has in years! Unfortunately, they also found cancer in her despite preliminary tests that were to the contrary. We will enjoy the final days we have with her, make her as comfortable as possible, and let her go with the Good Shepherd when He calls. But with great tears. She's simply the best.

On the other hand, our cup runneth over with goats (and thankfully, the milk pail has been, too). We've seen one come and go (not a fit for our small homestead), and two join us to stay for a while. Never boring, our caprine friends keep us smiling and on our toes...

Not to be outdone by the goats, the bees created some drama as well. The remaining 2012 hive decided to split and swarm (best as I can tell). Carniolans are infamous for this kind of behavior, but they do amazingly well in this cold mountain climate. Thanks to my husband Andy's observant eye, he saw them trying to settle onto a wild shrub on the mountain behind the garden. He quickly put together a nuc box for me, and being that they were only 2 feet off the ground, we easily slipped them into the box to re-home them. Kate has since moved them to the farm until fall in order to prevent them from robbing the original hive.

The meat chickens got a new home this year (although they don't know it!). The tractor is a dream... easy to move, roomy with enough head room to get inside if necessary, and well constructed. Unfortunately, raccoons or foxes felt it was just the challenge they had been looking for in our little community. They decided to pick off the birds, one by one; just reach in and dismember the "not so bright" chicken and pull the parts through the opening (I decided not to post that photo). 

This first problem was remedied by adding hardware cloth to the bottom walls of the two ends. Lasted 48 hours until the culprits solved that issue by digging under. Did I mention meat birds aren't very bright? Totally unaware of danger, they continued to sit there until the raccoon (or fox) dug a hole and pulled them under with ease. This was even easier than their first strategy!

The next night, I placed large heavy bricks around the tractor, but only on the ends where they could see the birds. Obviously I forgot... raccoons are much smarter than broilers. They don't have to actually SEE their prey to attack. 

By now my chicken dinners had diminished by 9 and the cost of the remaining 10 had increased significantly. Determined to solve the issue, I put our other Golden Retriever outside for the night and placed the tractor on a hog panel that extended beyond the border of the cage. With only a week to go, it appears this has solved the issue for now. 

I would like to raise the next batch just outside our fence line (where the grass is more abundant), but the dog would only be able to get so close and not actually go after a wild animal. I'm definitely open to viable solutions should anyone have one that is reasonably cost effective and would allow my tractor to remain portable. 

Despite all the happenings, we were able to wrap up the final weeks of our regular school year, much of it outdoors. Gotta love homeschooling! We're now working on some extra summer work during the heat of the day in order to knock off some needed high school credits.

By now you've probably noticed that my photos are no longer watermarked. Oh, yes... that was after you noticed I hadn't written a post in WEEKS. As much as I would like to keep my photos copyright-safe, I'd much rather spend the time it takes to stamp them... outside, in the garden. So I hereby deputize all Homestead Revival readers to kindly send me a link should you come across a site where someone has "borrowed" a photo without linking back OR without proper acknowledgement. I'm grateful for your extra eyes. 

And thanks for not giving up on me! Just for sticking around, I'm giving you advance notice that I hope to have an awesome giveaway later this week.... HINT: Think "Bakercreek". What could it be?

Gotta run... The garden calls.


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