The reality of things

You know, over the past few years, all I thought about with blogging was how to grow, how to make it more, how to be better. And I have simply failed at it. I don’t have time. But blogging was always my release. My place to go.

Over the past two years, I’ve let people down. I’ve let things slide that I normally wouldn’t.  I’ve let things go. And I pretty much quit blogging. Because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I’m not sure who exactly I am comparing myself to but self-confidence has never been a strong point of mine. Ever.That might be shocking, especially if you met me in real life. But I’m real good at not showing my insecurities. (Insert shoulder shrug here).

I’m not sure why I knew it was time to change my blog name, but it wasn’t time to accept that change and just be me. But I didn’t. I kept trying and saying “I’ll do this” or “I’ll do that,” but I didn’t. I didn’t write because I “didn’t know what to say” or “I didn’t have pictures,” or some other junk. I mean, who’s reading this but me at this point? It’s my journal. Mine. For me. So, that’s what it’s going to be. My place. You don’t like it, oh well. There are approximately 11 billionity other blogs you can go visit. This is mine.
I’m going to blog twice a week at least. I am. For me. Not for reviews or to tell you about what I’m doing somewhere else.  I’ll be here. Blogging for me. Journaling for me.
It is what it is. It’s just me. And I won’t worry about comments or site views or any of that.  It’s not about that. This is about me getting back to me.
I guess you can see that it was a super bad day and I’m feeling down. But if felt good to write this and writing hasn’t felt good in a long time.
Much love
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Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) Review

BackyardFarmingCoverI was recently given an opportunity to review Angela England’s new book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less).  Angela is the founder of Untrained Housewife as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Blissfully Domestic. She is also a guest contributor at MomPrepares. I met Angela at Blissdom last year and despite her being incredibly sick, she was very nice.

I sat down the other night after the kids were in bed intending on reading a chapter and then going on to sleep. Instead I was up for nearly 2 hours reading through various parts of the book!  I love Angela’s style of writing. It’s friendly, informative and easy to follow. And even though I grew up in a small, farming town and our farm, there is always something new to learn.

Hunter and I are in talks on delving further into the world of raising our own meat.  It’s a natural progression from processing our own deer meat each year (more on that to come in another post). I’ll admit, I’m a little uneasy about some of it because the killing part? Well, that’s hard for me.  In Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less), Angela talked about these same feelings and then how she was able to get past it.  She described the set up they use for processing their own meat birds. She also broke down the cost of feed compared to buying meat in the store which I found encouraging. Hunter and I have discussed supplements to lower feed costs ourselves so seeing some actual numbers was nice.

Another component of the book that I really liked was the diagrams showing possible garden layouts based on your lot size.  Since we moved, we’ve been clearing and cleaning up so the diagrams helped me better visualize what I want for our property. I also found the section on how to grow more intensively on smaller areas in order to maximize your garden harvest while not damaging your soil.

Besides the two topics I mentioned, the book also includes sections on choosing land if you’re in a place to buy property or building your farm on the land you currently have, tools and skills for backyard farmers, getting started gardening, bee keeping , growing fruits, nuts and berries, raising livestock like sheep, goats and rabbits and also harvesting and preserving your garden harvests.

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is an excellent addition to our growing library on raising our own food and living more sustainably.  I’m pretty picky on what books I recommend because well, books are expensive.  This book is a nice starting point for someone looking into growing some of their own food as well as seasoned gardeners looking for new ideas to maximize their homesteading by expanding into other areas like livestock. I am so grateful to Angela for sending me a copy of the book to review.

You can purchase Backyard Farming on an Acre from Amazon and Barnes and Noble (there are Kindle and Nook additions available as well).  And, folks are starting to find it in local bookstores! As a bonus there are a bunch of free downloadable resources at backyardfarmingguide.com AND there are some awesome bonus downloads available with your purchase through December 20th so go buy your copy today!

I received a copy of this book as part of this review.  As always, my opinions are all my own.

How to make Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I decided that it was high time I tried my hand at making fresh cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.  After doing some research, I decided to combine a few and make my own recipe. All in all, it turned out pretty good but a bit tart.  Next time, I’ll add more sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of cranberry juice (not cocktail)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 tablespoons of water.

Directions:

Put everything a heavy sauce pot except the cornstarch. Bring it to a low boil and let it cook 10-15 minutes. (You’ll hear the cranberries popping!) After most of the berries look popped turn off the heat and then dissolve the cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water before adding it to your cranberry sauce. This will thicken the sauce up as you stir it in so do not leave it. Stir well to combine.ALSO! Do not just throw the cornstarch in your sauce because you think you have enough liquid. TRUST ME.

If you don’t want to thicken your sauce, don’t add the cornstarch. It’s only for thickening purposes.

If you want your sauce more jelly-like, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the pulp out and then refrigerate it.

It tastes so wonderfully…cranberry. I really like it. Next time, I think a bit more sugar though. It’s rather tart.

Have you ever made homemade cranberry sauce?  What’s your recipe?

Weekend Festival Time!

This past weekend was what I simply called, “Festival Weekend.” Our hometown festival was this weekend.  That means fair food, lots of “hey, how are y’all?” and of course, the parade.  We do a parade float every year and the kids love it.  And I love that they love it because I always did as a child.  I love sharing that with them. But let me just say, the cost of candy is RIDICULOUS.  But the food was good(smoked turkey leg for me a Reuben for Hunter, hot dogs for the kiddos although they ate half of mine), the kids played games and of course, we came home with pop guns.

The olders spent Saturday night with their cousin for his 7th birthday and had a blast. So, yesterday, Hunter, Rhett and I headed north to Brasstown, North Carolina all by ourselves for the J.C. Campbell Folk Festival.  The Folk School is an absolutely amazing organization that offers students opportunities to learn what I call “old trades” through their classes. Each year, the school opens their school and their land to the public, hosting an artisan craft festival with beautiful hand crafted products. There are demonstrators all through the festival that take the time to explain what they are doing and how things work.

Bowl carving

We watched this guy turn a wooden bowl. He stopped frequently to tell us why and how he did things so the bowl came out right and wouldn’t crack.

Handcrafted at folk festival

There were potters, turning clay.  I loved this cup/bowl that one of the students was selling. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I didn’t bring my “big girl” camera so I settled for my phone for pictures.  I wish I’d of taken more of them. We saw someone working on a loom, spinning yarn, knitting, carving a wooden bowl (by hand), beading, crocheting….you name it!  That’s what I love most about this festival, their willingness to show you their crafts and talk with you.

It would probably be wrong of me to not mention the food.  Hunter, Rhett and I thoroughly enjoyed BBQ sandwiches (Rhett and I), some kind of sausage and pepper sandwich (Hunter), an apple pie (oh my word), an apple betty and this gigantic bag of kettle corn.  But we did bring home some for the boys, I promise!

It was a fun weekend for all of us but we were all tired this morning!  I am off today so I’m getting the rabbit cage winterized and taking the dog to the vet.  Exciting times, no?  The air is cool and brisk and it finally feels like fall.

How about you?  How was your weekend?

Easy Halloween Costumes for Little Kids: Make It, Don’t Buy It!

It always amazes me that Halloween costumes are so expensive. If I bought everyone’s costume brand new this year, it would cost me at least $75! FOR ONE NIGHT! I don’t know about you but I can’t afford that. In the past, I’ve bought costumes at consignment stores or I’ve borrowed costumes from friends.

My older boys are still deciding what they want to be (and we’ll promptly hit the consignment store if we can’t make it) but I’ve been thinking about some simple homemade costumes  for my little guy.  Homemade costumes are so much more fun and way cuter than the store bought ones that everyone’s kids will be wearing! Here’s some of the simplest costume ideas that anyone can make for Halloween.

Make A Train Conductor From What’s In Your Closet

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The train conductor hat can be worn for daily use following Halloween! That’s being frugal! Image byjbramley.

This one is easy and the one I’m planning for my little man! Online, you’ll pay $20 for a train conductor costume but all you need to make this “costume” is a pair of overalls, a hat and a bandanna.  Striped  or denim overalls will be the “uniform.”  Find a conductor’s hat and (loosely) tie a bandanna around his neck. I think you could probably use a similar cap style and make a little logo to hot glue to the front of it (use low heat hot glue and it should peel right off the fabric). The best part about this costume is you can use the overalls and the hat for every day use.

A Frugal Gumball Machine Costume

Balloons, a clear trash bag, and some poster board and you have a cute gumball machine for a Handmade Halloween! Image by deziner02

I actually got this idea from a friend! Online, an un-adorable gumball cost is $28. We can do so much better making our own! For this costume, you’ll need a shirt and pants in a single color (red if possible) as a base layer, a clear trash bag, balloons, scissors, tape and a piece of poster board or construction paper.  Use scissors to carefully cut leg and arm holes and have them step into the clear bag.  Pull the bag up and fill the bag with balloons.  Then use clear package tape to close the bag over your child’s shoulders. Use a piece of poster board or an old cereal box to make a “hat” and put 0.25 on the front of it and you have a gumball machine!

A Frugal and Easy Peter Pan Costume

Elf Costume 002

This easy elf hat will work great for Peter Pan. And with hot glue, it’s no sew! Image by rmommaerts

A Peter Pan costume costs $25 online you can make one pretty easily. Grab an old green shirt and slip it on your child. Use scissors to cut a rough zig-zag hem at the bottom and on the sleeves. Tie rope around his waist and you’re almost done!  Use some construction paper, or felt to fashion a hat for this costume.

Store bought costumes have green tights/leggings with them but green ones may be hard to find right now.  If you have a pair of white tights and a white t-shirt instead, use RIT dye (I found it in the laundry aisle at my grocery store) to dye your costume.  I did look for natural green dyes but green is really hard to achieve naturally.

The Homemade Cat Costume

Halloween Cat

Don’t waste money on a cat costume when you can easily make your own from items at home! Image by edenpictures

Online, you’ll pay a whopping $25 for a cat costume, but it is so easy to make one at home.  Dress your child in solid black (or white if you want a white cat). Cut out ears from an old cereal box, paint them your desired color, and hot glue them to a headband or a piece of elastic (stiff felt would work here too). For the tail, cut a leg off of an old pair of black stockings. Stuff the other leg into your “tail” for a little fullness and attach it to the back of her pants with a simple stitch that you can remove after Halloween, or else use fabric glue. Use eye liner to draw a nose and eyes, and you’re done! This one could be completely FREE.

That’s four easy to make costumes that should cost you very little to no money!  Halloween doesn’t have to break our banks, despite the retail world bombarding us and our kids with a slew of commercials and cheaply made costumes.

Are you making costumes for your kids this year? What are you planning for Halloween?!?