Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Sometimes what we have to do gets in the way of what we want to do, and sometimes that's a good thing.  Sometimes we're waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to start this or do that, when we realize that the circumstances will never be perfect and we need to make the most of the moments we're given.

This is very easy to type, but putting it into practice is challenging for me.  I've long held this notion that if everyone would just stop for a couple of days, I could get my act together and then things would run more smoothly and we'd enjoy life more.  Of course we all know that we can't snap our fingers and cease time while we do this, so what's a wife and mom to do?

I'm still working on it.  I do notice that we go through seasons, not just the 4 on our yearly calendar, but phases in which some activities are easier to accomplish than others.  As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, there is a time for just about everything.  As I seem to get one set of circumstances or a situation under control, a new series appears.

That would explain my long absence from writing here.  Nearly a year and a half!  It would take me that long to write it all out, so I will simply summarize.

  1. Finalization of the adoption of our two youngest children.
  2. Crazy summers in which we try to continue lessons in our homeschool AND enjoy all the activities offered in our community (summer reading programs with awesome field trips, vacation Bible schools, Jr ranger camp and an assortment of other fun things).
  3. A brief period in which I felt we were settling into a new normal.
  4. A good upheaval when we welcomed another foster child into our family, and the adjustment period that goes along with that (such as figuring out how 6 people were going to fit into the space that a couple of years ago was seemingly inadequate for just 3 of us).
  5. The holiday season-rehearsals for the church Christmas program, preparing for Thanksgiving and Tony's birthday, days away cutting firewood for the winter, furniture rearranging so that a Christmas tree can be put up and decorated, and the celebration of TWO birthdays right after the new year starts.
  6. Another new normal that includes 4 children and Tony working out of town (and sometimes even out of state!) for days at a time.
  7. A not so good upheaval when said foster child was relocated.
  8. Spring on the farm and the anticipation of new baby farm animals!  We missed the births of all of them, lost a couple during labor & delivery, and had to bottle feed one.
  9. With spring comes little league baseball, which rolls right into summer vacation and another crazy fun summer similar to number 2.
  10. Which brings us to the period we're in now-a new first for all of us-youth football and cheer leading, with practice 3 nights a week and games on Saturdays.
In my attempts to bring order from chaos, I've decided I need several things, and one is a creative outlet, so here I am again.  The ideas swirling in my head may now have a chance at making their way out, and that, I believe, enriches the brain, exercises it, making it stronger for those things that need to be done.  When those things get done, there is more time for intentional, authentic living, and that has been my aim for quite some time.  Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope to 'see' you again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where Our Food Comes From

I was asked a question today that I've been asked before and it's usually a long answer, and because it's one busy mom asking another busy mom, I don't usually get to give the longer, detailed answer.  So, I decided that I'd write about it here because I'm geekish that way.

Where do we shop for our groceries?  There have been times that my weekly "grocery" trip netted so few items in the cart that I got to use the express lane.  My only local grocery option is Basha's, and the 3 things we used to buy the most of there were bananas, bread and bottled club soda.  The 3 B's at B's.  Some of our friends work there, so we try to support them as much as possible, but this town isn't "organic" friendly, so there aren't too many things there we like.

My Local Grocery Store:

  • Some produce.  We use the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 app.  If it's in the top 20-25 cleanest, we'll risk non organic, but the rest of the list we buy organic.  My town is not into organic, clean, real food, so the options at this store are limited, but thankfully growing.  I can get organic celery and greens when I need them now, rather than having to plan ahead.
  • Club soda.  I need the bubbles.
  • Sometimes a loaf of sourdough bread, but I started baking our own recently and it's so much better and about one third of the cost.
  • Wild caught fish and seafood.
  • Organic milk when our goats are "dry".  Organic sour cream.
  • Cereal and coffee for my husband.
  • Some canned goods (salsa, tuna, green chilies)
  • Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream.
Trader Joe's:
  • Uncured hot dogs
  • Bacon ends and pieces
  • Organic whole chickens
  • Some produce
  • Some dairy-butter, heavy cream, yogurt and specialty cheeses-all organic
  • Fun food.  Their commitment to not using artificial flavors, dyes or other chemicals, and no GMO's makes it easier on me to have crackers and similar snacks available.  I used to make them from scratch.
Azure Standard:
  • Frozen berries and vegetables
  • Pasta
  • Canned salmon
  • Bulk grains
  • Herbs and spices
  • In season produce
  • Non -GMO cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Orange dark chocolate
  • Tomato products
  • Nuts, coconut, and other "super food" type things
  • Grade B, organic maple syrup
  • Evaporated cane juice and other baking essentials
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Goat cheese
  • Chicken eggs
  • Duck eggs
  • Some produce-we haven't been too successful with our gardens.  :-(
  • Sourdough bread
  • I recently tried Bountiful Baskets produce delivery again.  I have mixed feelings about it.
  • CSA (community supported agriculture), I didn't like the reality of it as much as the idea behind it.
  • Trades and barter, freebies whenever they arise.
That's the big stuff.  We used to rarely eat out after we changed our diet over to real food, but with our two new additions to the family, sometimes the need to end chaos outweighs the commitment to avoiding all the processed junk out there.  Thanks to several of you for asking the question and giving me a reason to really think about it again!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Busy Morning in the Kitchen

What's a blog post with no pictures?  A sign that the author didn't think ahead, and the finished product isn't really photo worthy!  I could get a shot of the messy kitchen, but most of us know what that looks like!

When I started, I was just going to make a batch of these Apricot Bites, then realized my turkey had been in the crockpot (for broth) long enough and it was time to get it canned.

So, I delayed the bites and started filling jars with broth.  I also had enough meat set aside and more that had come off the bones that I was able to fill 3 quarts with meat.  I filled another 3 with broth.  That homegrown turkey has already fed us 3 times, and with these 6 quarts of broth and meat, we'll get at least another 6 meals from it!  We got these turkeys in exchange for our buckling last fall, and the cost of feed brings our investment to less than $2 per meal for all of us!

Once I got the canner going, I made the Apricot Bites, but without the almond meal, simply because I don't have any.  There was indication in the comments that I could simply leave it out, but I did increase the quantity of cashews.  I've not worked with almond meal before, so I don't know if that's what caused them not to stick together, but I actually had to press them into a pan and freeze in order to help them stay together.  Even then, they're still quite crumbly, but delicious!

I decided since the food processor needed to be washed I'd make a batch of peppermint coconut bark first.  I haven't made it for years, but it's a great way to get coconut oil into my daily diet.  I use raw cocoa powder-another superfood-and usually use raw honey, but we have a bottle that isn't that needs to be used up before I open the raw honey I recently purchased.

Now that those are done, I've been resting my back, writing this, giving assignments to my son and waiting for the canner to finish.  Next week I'm going to make more recipes for morning power bar bites-maybe I'll remember to take pictures.  ;-)

Saturday, May 3, 2014


10 of these
Plus 19 of these
Plus 10 of these
Plus 28 of these
3 of these
and 3 of these
Plus 5 of these
1 of these
1 of these
Plus 3 of these

And this guy

Equals ONE happy farm!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Most of you know that we are a homeschooling family.  Recently, at our town's monthly homeschool meeting, a reporter showed up wanting to gather material for a story.  Today I received his list of questions by email, which I appreciated, as it allowed me to think about the answers.  After taking the time to write out my thoughts in general terms, I thought I'd go ahead and share his questions and my answers.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  My answers are italicized.

  1. How long have you been home schooling [my son]? He joined our family on Oct 2, 2007, so nearly 6 years, but not in the manner in which some may perceive homeschooling.
  2. What led to your decision to forego traditional elementary school learning for [my son]?  Initially, my and husband’s faith in God and our understanding of His instruction.  It is our job as parents to disciple our children.  This can get into a legalistic debate and one that I generally choose not to engage in.  Beyond that there are a multitude of reasons.
    1. Not following an arbitrary schedule- one that has been shown to be less than beneficial to the students it purports to educate.
    2. Wanting my son to enjoy the process of learning, since it is something we do for our entire lives, and what you call a traditional school situation generally doesn't do a good job of that.
    3. Wanting more than a “one size fits all” education for my child.
    4. Not giving a stranger the better part of his day.
    5. Not spending time after school doing homework.
    6. Not spending time after school un-teaching him bad habits he may have picked up.
    7. Not having to pack a lunch or subject him to what passes for food in the school cafeteria.
Most of these things we consider perks to our basic reason for home educating.  I could add to the list, but I think you’ll have a good idea from this list.

Before moving on down the list we need to define “traditional”.  Compulsory education in the US is less than 200 years old.  In my mind, that makes it the experimental way of educating, since the home version has been practiced for roughly 5800 years.  J
  1. Is your goal to home school [my son]. short term? Or long term? How long do you plan to home school [my son]? While I know it’s unwise to say “never”, we have no plan to send [my son] to any public or private school.
  2. What do you see as the benefits of home schooling vs. more traditional schooling methods? 
    1. Each year I shop the deals at the back to school sales to purchase items for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child project.  This year I noticed a mother with 2 kids in tow crisscrossing the store to get the items on the school’s list of required supplies.  She looked very frazzled trying to find several items that apparently were not so easy to find.  I have no such list to fulfill.
    2. We can take vacations whenever we choose
    3. We don’t have to be ready for the school bus at 7:30 in the morning.
    4. We can spend all day learning about something we enjoy.
    5. We can spend all day doing nothing.
    6. We can change our approach if it becomes obvious the one we’re using isn’t working.
    7. My son can enjoy being a child-school assignments can be completed in a rather short time, giving him plenty of time to play.  Studies also show children learn when they’re playing. 
  3. Besides the monthly meeting at the library, what other activities allow [my son]. to interact with other children?  I notice you refrained from using the term socialization.  I read a statement in an article from a homeschooling mom on this topic that has stuck with me.  If you went to a public school as a child and tried to talk or pass notes during class and got caught, what was the teacher’s general response?  “You’re here to learn, NOT socialize.”  Homeschooling parents are asked this question a lot and I really don’t know why it’s so intriguing.  If socialization is the reason so many children go to public school then it’s no wonder the schools are failing.  Why does society think that grouping 30 kids together simply based on the year they were born and isolating them from society is normal, rather than what occurs naturally in life?  On a daily basis we interact with people of all ages-that’s normal. 
  4. Were you home schooled as a youth? No.  If so, can you tell me about that experience.
  5. Can you tell me about [my son] strengths and weaknesses as a student? What subjects do you teach him? Do you teach him alone? Or is there another adult in the house who teaches, or a tutor that assists?  My son’s strengths and weaknesses are not for public inspection.  My husband and I share the responsibility for teaching him and we make choices based on his individual needs.
  6. Please tell me about the structure that you use in teaching. Is it like a regular school day, with 30-45 minute classes, breaks, recess, etc?  Absolutely not.  J  That’s what I call “doing school at home” and not homeschooling.  There is no set schedule and that’s one of the benefits.
  7. Is this group of parents and students referred to as Camp Verde Home Educators?  The group is called that, though very loosely and informally.  There is no official group status, and I think “parents whose children are homeschooled” is a good way to define us.   If not, does your group have a name? Or are you simply parents whose children are home schooled?
  8. I realize that this is a lot of questions, so thank you for your patience. Is there anything I have not asked you that you would like to share?   Look into the philosophy of John Taylor Gatto, a 3 time teacher of the year recipient in New York, who believes public schools are NOT designed to educate the individual child.

 That was my short version of what I think.  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Around here macaroni and cheese is never just that. Tonight it's got a Mexican flair with tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, green chilies, sour cream and two cheeses.

Earlier we started freezing strawberries. Wish I could say they were from our garden but since we didn't plant any I can't do that. Wish I could say they were organic, but all I can say is they were free! I'm sure they'll be good in smoothies.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My First Pressure Canning Experience

 I've been wanting to try pressure canning, but not wanting to invest in the canner if I wasn't going to use it.  Turns out a friend had one that she wasn't using and she let me borrow it to try.  I've had it in my closet for months, waiting for the right alignment of my energy level and something to can, oh and time to try it out AFTER testing the seals, etc.  We've been getting an abundance of tomatoes at the produce rescue, so I've been making sauce and freezing it.  Running out of room in the freezer is what motivated me to give pressure canning a try.  I just heard the pressure lock unlock on this first batch, that means I take off the pressure regulator and wait 10 more minutes before I take off the lid and start on round two.  It holds 5 pints or 7 half pints at a time.  I have 6 quarts of sauce, so if my math is right, that's 3 rounds of canning.
While reading through the instruction and recipe book I see that I can cook in this too, so maybe I'll try cooking beans to can my own refried beans?!  Do you have a pressure canner?  How often do you use it and what do you can?


Look what we found when we left for a walk!  This little duck must have hatched during the night, or maybe even yesterday and found it's "mom" this morning.  Buddy the tom turkey did not seem to appreciate this little thing following him around.  The eggs are under a broody chicken, we went into the hen house and there were 3 more babies outside the nesting box.  They are too darn cute, but these pictures don't show that.  They are two weeks younger than the first round that hatched, maybe sometime today I can get good pictures of both batches and share.  They grow really quickly-I'm amazed at how large the two week old ducklings are.