As much as things seem to change, they really do just stay the same in terms of the "news" issues I suppose. There's an evil in this country that we seem a bit inept at shaking off right now. I just keep praying it doesn't continue to grow into what I fear is coming. We've left off from our roots and it's starting to really show.
August came and is on the way out and I finally decided it was time to sneak a peek at how the blog fared. Not too bad, though I suspect after the past couple of years of my woeful neglect, y'all don't have high expectations where this blog is concerned, LOL.
What's been up since that last June posting around the homestead you ask? I would love to give you some awesome exciting update, but on my honor, I swear my days are all white bread bland for the most part. I did however, just yesterday, have a super exciting, long awaited and prayed for, event. I can't share a great deal just yet, but I spoke to someone I have been looking for for a very, very long time. It was a huge answer to a great many prayers over the years, and a wonderful blessing. I look forward to growing that relationship further in the near future. I kid you not, this was a major deal. I'm not a sappy, emotional sort but I tell ya, I was crying tears of deep joy yesterday :-)
I'm a tease, I know. But I promise I will fill y'all in as soon as I am free to do so.
So, onward...This summer there has been a few exciting moments...
Our oldest son got married :-)
The boys headed in to tame their wild locks and get some nice haircuts...sigh, my boys do clean up handsome don't they?
We helped decorate a beautiful barn that offered the perfect backdrop for the day
We helped get Big Brother put together properly, and not once did his brothers snap his suspenders (though I'm sure the temptation was strong, LOL)
We took some photos. It was so nice having the whole crew together, even if they couldn't manage to get looking the same way at the same time for our photos :-)
We couldn't have asked for a more blessed day. Family, new friends, and the next generation of love :-) It was definitely a beautiful day.
In the School Room:
The herbal studies continue, though I am plodding along more than skipping along. I have discovered I apparently have a bit of test-taking phobia. I have been sitting in one unit for a couple of months now. I love the courses. I'm learning how all these various puzzle pieces connect together, discovering new herbal treatments I wasn't familiar with before, gaining a deeper understanding of some I've used for years...but I can't bring myself to take the test and move forward.
Silly, I know. I mean it's pretty simple...I either know the material and will pass the test, or I don't know squat and will not get a good grade.
By the way, if you've ever thought about getting more education on medicinal herbs, or just want to learn how to care for your own family in a more healthy manner, now is the time! Herbal Academy of New England has a great back to school sale going on, with all courses, from their Introductory Herbal course, to their Clinical, Professional, and Family Herbalist programs discounted 15%.
The remaining 5 at home are back at the books more full-time now. We school year-round, but there are breaks along the way, and our course of study alters a bit as well. We go from textbook studies in most subjects, to a lot of outdoor study and simply reading. Right now, it's back to the textbook work to get our feet back on track. As the weather cools finally, I'm hopeful we can get back outdoors more. It's been a long, hot and sticky spring and summer. And wet. I see all these ponds so low, their dried up banks showing more and more, yet we have had rains almost daily for 2 months or better. Some light and misty, some strong and heavy. I am so ready for cold weather and maybe some winter conditions for a change.
In the Kitchen:
This past weekend we knocked out a couple long-awaited big projects in the new kitchen addition. I say "new" but seriously, that space has been in the making in one manner or another, for going on 5 years now. It went from a simple deck to a covered porch, got walls in place and turned into a huge storage space. Finally cleared that accumulation out and started using it as a sort of quiet dining room and school space. Last year, we decked it all out for the holidays and used it for gathering, eating, etc. But it still wasn't moving along in terms of the final work. This weekend Dewey and Matt built the counter top area and got the farmhouse sink set into place, and we finally moved the Kitchen Queen from the main living space into it's new kitchen home. It isn't piped in at all yet, and I need to get the right size sink drain, but I can see the finish line just ahead finally!!
I'm excited. It's definitely not the dream kitchen everyone would want, but it is every bit of the vision I had for this space :-) The counter space is about as rustic as you can get...simple 2x6 boards. I scrubbed them with Apple Cider Vinegar, then after that dried, I've been applying coats of oil. Started with grapeseed oil, used a bit of coconut oil, and am currently treating it with olive oil. Guess my ADHD kicked in and I couldn't choose just one, LOL. The wood has soaked in the oil nicely, taking longer and longer to absorb it all. The last coat I applied last night is still showing it's shine and moisture, so I am probably about finished. When the antique table gets brought in to be my work surface and island between the sink and the cookstove, I'll prep the large cutting board top in the same manner. There will be a primitive cutting board cover for the electric range as well, to help camouflage it when we aren't using it.
There's still quite a bit of work to do in here to get it finished, but it's just about usable now, and I can live with that. Next weekend, if the weather cooperates, maybe we can get the stovepipe in and get the Queen hooked up for use. And that sink drain, lol. We haven't put the hearth in for the cookstove yet, or even laid the flooring down, but I am so ready to start really using that space!
It hasn't been all construction and such in the kitchen. Life still has to happen around here, despite the stacked 2x4s and power tools. We've been doing our usual stuff like menu planning, bread baking, etc but a couple weeks back we brought home 80# of bananas and set to prepping them for the dehydrator and the freezer. We had to make several loaves of banana bread to enjoy, though after slicing bananas all day, no one was that interested in eating banana anything for a few days, LOL.
We cleared the frozen veggies from the freezers and dehydrated them to store in the pantry, and got some needed bulk mixes made up as well.
If you don't have a big garden or access to good farm markets to buy your fresh vegetables, frozen is a better option than most canned vegetables. If you're like me and stock up on them as sales come along, you may find you have a freezer full. As we start planning the bulk meat purchase and more cases of Zaycon Foods wonderful chicken breasts, I found I needed space freed up in those freezers. Dehydrating the frozen fruits and vegetables stored there was easy :-)
I normally keep a lot of cans of cream of this or that soup on hand to use here. It's easy to ditch those cans and mix up from scratch really, but I wanted to give a bulk mix recipe I had here a try. Although I added the chicken bouillon into the mix, it can be left out to add on an as-needed basis, making the recipe even more versatile by subbing beef bouillon, or even a vegetable bouillon. We tend to use chicken or mushroom soup here most often, so I added it in the main mix. If you want more DIY Pantry Mixes and dehydrating ideas, I definitely suggest visiting 21st Century Simple Living. You will be taking a lot of notes :-) Next on my list of DIY, the Tomato Powder. I currently buy that in the ethnic foods section of my Walmart, but making it myself would be so much more healthy. It reconstitutes into everything...tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce. Of course having ready-to-go tomatoes in the pantry is great thing, but tomato powder would be a huge bonus as well. I can easily add a few spoonfuls to 'beef' up the flavors of soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
a photo of my dear friend Glenda's current canning stash :-)
In the Craft Basket:
I have no current projects really. I've been wandering around patterns looking for some inspiration, but all I've been working on are dishcloths and pot holders. I have a million patterns set aside for working on, but I just haven't found that perfect yarn for any of them yet.
You knitters and crocheters know what I'm talking about. The struggle is real.
I need to get working on something else soon. I mean really, I may be a mess in the kitchen while I'm working, but even I only need so many dishcloths and potholders, lol.
Around the Homestead:
We've finally had some dryer days where collecting our water at the spring-fed lake wasn't put off. I love going out there, though I'd much prefer a good water source here on the homestead (yes, we have tap water, but it's not something we will use for drinking or cooking. The chlorine levels are pretty high still.) Still, I love visiting the private spring-fed lake when they open weekly for the public to gather water. Even with the 100+ temps we've been having since mid-June, it's a peaceful, enjoyable time.
A couple weeks ago we took a quick (ha ha), fairly unplanned road trip one Saturday...to Baxter Springs, Kansas to pick up Matt's girlfriend so she could come visit before school resumed. The 8 hour one way drive made for a long, long day. You would think, 8 hours there, maybe an hour lay-over, then 8 hours back equals 17 hours. It might for normal folks, but for me...it was more along the lines of 22 hours. I like to meander a bit :-)
Meandering aside, the scenery we were treated to was amazing and well worth the zombie-like state we were in the following day. The area around the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark National Forest is absolutely beautiful. I could definitely live there in that mountain terrain, lost in the acres of woodland :-)
On the return trip the following Saturday, we managed a great 3 hour visit with a dear online friend :-) She drove down an hour or so with her husband and children to meet up with us for lunch. We had a great visit after years of text, Facebook, and phone chatting.
keeping your family healthy, tending seasonal and chronic ailments, treating wounds...it's all right there in nature, just waiting to be rediscovered and put back into use. We've lost so much of the knowledge our ancestors had and have turned to OTC 'faux medicines' that offer little more than a bandaid to the problem, and often create new problems to compound our already weakened systems.
For the most part though, It's just same ol, same ol around here from day to day. We just change up the tasks a bit to fit the season. Right now, I'm in pantry-mode so we are ready for whatever autumn and winter bring to us here in the Deep South.