Garden Update

2013 GardenLast year, I was not able to plant a garden because I knew my husband was planning to tear up our yard, but I didn’t know when he would get to it. I was also tired of fighting bamboo and other weeds, so taking a break from gardening in the ground was kind of nice. But produce cost me a pretty penny all summer long.

We did have a tractor come in and move dirt around and grade everything and it looked really nice, until the weeds came back. We were supposed to get a lawn in this spring, but when we have the time, we don’t have the money and vice versa. I’m sure many of you can relate. Our business provides good income throughout the year, but is very busy in the spring and summer months and that keeps my husband from working on home projects when the weather is at it’s best.

We decided to at least get some raised beds in so we can grow some vegies and herbs this year. I missed it so much last year and knowing how well my parents’ garden did with the organic soil they’d purchased got me excited to have my own raised beds and see how well ours would do.

You see, I do not have a green thumb at all. The only houseplants I can keep alive are succulents. I just keep trying. Every. Single. Year.

Having our own home grown food is very important to me, so I just don’t give up on it, even though I don’t seem to have any talent for it. This year, talent does not seem to be required. Spending the money on the right dirt has paid dividends in hundreds of pounds of summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, chilis, with a lot of pumpkins coming, still, as well as some watermelon.

The garden did so well it got out of control and needed a haircut. Here it is post haircut.  Can you even imagine what it looked like before?

2013 Tomato Garden

Don’t mind the smoke. Southern Oregon is riddle with wildfires this summer. We’ve been to the point where our air quality was hazardous for several days. That was tough with six kids inside when they should have been playing in the pool, etc. Anyway, I’ve given the garden two haircuts thus far, and it’s going to need another before we’re done.

I’m hoping to do a fall crop and then I will plant a cover crop that will be turned into the soil in the spring. That will be my first time using a cover crop, so we’ll see how that goes.

Until next time, blessings today,

Miss Kris

I Could Be Better Prepared

2013 Forest Fires

Summer 2013 Southern Oregon Wildfires

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I am into preparedness.  That does not mean I am ready for anything and everything and super organized, because I’m not.  But I continue to work toward being more prepared because I feel the great responsibility of caring for our children not just in every day life, but also in challenging situations like natural disasters, epidemics and whatever else may come our way.

Like the situation we’re in right now.  We live in an area with a lot of wildfires burning.  Thousands of acres of forests are burning and over 100 homes have been evacuated.  We hope and pray for the safety of residents and firefighters and for the protection of property.  If you live in the area and would like to do something to help, please leave a comment here and I will direct you to a local program working to provide some relief to our firefighters.

Now, the fires are not too close to our home and it doesn’t look like they will be.  But this has been a good exercise to show me what I am not prepared for!  What would I need to be prepared for if the fire isn’t coming my way, you ask?

Hazardous air quality!

The wind has been just right to send all that smoke our way and last night the air quality was so bad it was off the charts.  To give you an idea, it was three times the worst air quality ever recorded for Los Angeles, California, a city known for it’s smog and poor air quality.  I’ve been monitoring the Air Quality Index (AQI) all day and we are pretty much stuck indoors since late yesterday.

They are recommending N95 or P100 respirator masks if you must go out, which we do.  We have animals to care for and you can’t completely stop life for an undetermined amount of time.  There are just things you have to do, sometimes.

But, of course, I have not gotten to the point in my preps that I have these handy dandy masks in my stores and I think a part of me depends too much on what I “think” my husband keeps for work in his warehouse.  I asked him if he has some of those kind and of course, he doesn’t right now.

Enter Amazon Prime.  I expect the smoke will not clear by the time I receive these in two days.  I bought them on my husband’s recommendation, as these are the kinds of items he deals with in his business and although the ones without the valve are a lot less expensive, he says the valves are the best to have.

3M N95 Respirator

http://www.amazon.com/3M-8511-Particulate-Sanding-Respirator/dp/B0002YKBV2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375219264&sr=8-1&keywords=n95+respirator

Now, it’s a good thing in this situation that I can remedy my lack of preps in this area using Amazon Prime.  We’re using damp bandanas in the meantime.  But what if I couldn’t?

This is my wake up call to myself and to you all. 

Just do it. BE PREPARED for anything that could possibly happen in your neck of the woods.

Now, if only they made those handy dandy masks for dogs and chickens . . .

Training Children for Independence

Having a big family, it can sometimes be too easy to get caught up with the day to day needs of each child and not concentrate so much on training them for the future.

But we aren’t raising children, here.  We’re raising future adults.  And part of parenting is training them to be independent adults who can take care of themselves and contribute to their families and to society.

With that in mind, we came up with a list of skills by age to help us train our children for independence.  It helps us to have things in writing so we can remember what we need to teach them and it’s handy to print out one copy for each child to track their progress.  We just use a highlighter to line through each skill as it is obtained.

Please note this is a copyrighted list.  We’re making this available as a guide to help you come up with your own that will meet the unique needs of your family.  Please use the list of skills and the ages only as a guideline to come up your own.

Our children learn piano beginning at age 7, but you may wish yours to begin violin at age 8.  You may not have a family business for your kids to learn, or you may not have any girls, so you would not care to teach about caring for cosmetics.

Since each family is different, take this list to start with and customize it to meet the unique needs of your own family.

Training Children for Independence: List of Skills by Age

Been Busy. What Else is New?

Hi, all.  I’ve been busy here with gardening, some food preservation, sewing, weekends away for work and family, painting our living and family rooms and working on a project for our two year old.

We’re making an old entertainment center we got for free into a play kitchen for her.  It was supposed to done for her second birthday, but we ran out of time so are just hoping to get it done this week.  For information and fantastic photos of entertainment centers turned play kitchens, check out Pinterest or just Google “entertainment center DIY play kitchens.”

Seems like I’m always way too busy and there is never enough time in the day.  I would really like to make some changes this school year so we can be at rest, more.  I’m not sure how to go about that with teens in the house.  I’ll let you know when I come up with a solution!  For now, all I can think of is better organization to save more time.

One way to accomplish this is to create color coded chore charts.  In our family, each child has his or her own color and all charts, lists, etc., reference that child’s color.  I recently did a chore chart for this year as we switched up the kids’ chores again and I will upload it here for your review.  I like to use WORD, but you could certainly do it in EXCEL, too.  It’s an easy chart to make and it keeps things simple for the kids, removing guesswork or confusion about who is supposed to do what.

Now, if I can just figure out a way to make them enjoy their work, we’d be lookin’ good.

This week, I’ve got two kids at day camp and I miss them something terrible, already.  It’s only Monday!  My agenda for this week is:

  • Make pickles
  • Make relish
  • Make mixed berry jam
  • Go through and sort clothing
  • Choose paint and start painting chicken coop with kids

I’m starting the week off caught up on all laundry, so I need to keep it that way.  Wish me luck!

It’s Not Rocket Science: You CAN Make Bone Broth

I have SO MISSED being here the last six months!  It’s just been so busy here that I haven’t made the time to write.  In addition, I have had some health issues to deal with which I may or may not get into here at some point.  But I am hoping to make more time to write in the new year.

Today, I felt like I should write a post about making bone broth.  I have had several people ask me if it’s hard to make, how to make it, etc., that I think this post is timely, at least in my own circles.  I hope it helps some of you who are reading from far away, too.

It’s easy to make nourishing bone broth and you can do it.  Just choose a day when you plan to be home to make it.

First, let’s quickly review why we should make bone broth in the first place.  According to the Body Ecology website (www.bodyecology.com), bone broth (and I quote, because I cannot say it better!):

  • Is full of minerals.
  • Fortifies the immune system.
  • Enhances digestion.
  • Nourishes all body parts related to collagen. This means joints, tendons, ligaments, skin, mucus membranes, and bone.

“A well-made bone broth will give your body calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, and fluoride.”  Many of us are magnesium deficient, and this might result in morning sickness during pregnancy, as new studies are indicating.  If only I had known this before!

“Bones, marrow, skin, tendons, ligaments, and the cartilage that sometimes accompanies a bone are all made of a protein molecule called collagen. Collagen contains two very special amino acids: proline and glycine.”

“Collagen has been found to help heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and the intestines. This means that heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and many of the conditions associated with intestinal inflammation can be helped with bone broth.”

  • Collagen and gelatin have been shown to benefit gastric ulcers. (1)
  • Proline is necessary for the formation of collagen.
  • Glycine improves digestion by increasing gastric acid secretion. (2)
  • Glutamine, also found in bone broth, is important metabolic fuel for cells in the small intestine.

Glutamine is also an excellent post workout supplement, helping you recover quickly afterwards.  My husband takes glutamine supplements 45 minutes before his MMA classes and it has really made a difference for him.

Unfortunately, for those on plant based/vegetarian diets, there is no direct equivalent source of collagen.  You might do some research to pinpoint the correct balance of amino acids you need to consume to stimulate your body to produce collagen.

All above quote and bulleted material is from www.bodyecology.com.  Non-quoted material is mine.

So, let’s now get into the nitty gritty of how I make my bone broth.  I’m sure everyone does things a bit differently.  I plan to be home all day when I make it.  Monday is a good day for me.

First, I choose bones that have been sustainably raised and are usually “organic.”  The important thing is to know what the animal has been eating.  We try hard to avoid animals who have been raised on genetically modified foods like corn and soy.  Knowing your farmer is the absolute best way to guarantee the quality of your meat and bones.  If you do not have that luxury (and I know I am sometimes spoiled) choose meat and bones from the store that are raised without hormones or in the case of turkey, one that has also not been injected with anything.  I waited too late to get my turkey this year and ended up with non-organic, but it was free range and didn’t have anything injected into it.  I am not a big turkey fan, but it was probably the best turkey I have ever had.  That might have something to do with how my Mom cooked it, though.  It was gorgeous!  Thanks, Mom!

In a large stock pot, I placed the turkey carcass, 12 cups of filtered water, 4 celery stalks, three large, peeled and trimmed carrots, a whole onion, quartered (leave the skin on for color), a bunch of cilantro (You can omit this or use any herb you like.  I’m a big fan of cilantro and I always have it in the frig.) and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.  The vinegar helps extract the minerals from the bones.  You can use any type of vinegar, but I prefer to use Bragg’s ACV.  I let it cook all day, adding more filtered water if necessary.

Your broth should be golden colored when finished.  Before dinner, I strain all of the broth into canning jars, cool and freeze or refrigerate for the week.  Or, I strain some directly into a pot, re-use the now soft cooked vegetables and add meat from the bone broth or other meat I have set aside and some noodles and cook until noodles are soft.  I normally use quinoa or buckwheat noodles.  Then we have that for dinner. This wonderful for everyone’s digestion and a great thing to feed baby with all of those soft vegetables!

DSC01576

It’s possible to re-use your bones, especially if they are beef bones.  Just freeze them for another time and then add them to your pot frozen next time.  I do.

Bone broth has become my breakfast staple.  I just enjoyed a bowl of turkey bone broth soup for breakfast this morning.  I know it sounds strange, but it is a great way to break the fast and start my day.

I’ve read that others make bone broth in their crockpots.  My crockpots aren’t big enough for the amount I want to make to feed my family.  But I would encourage you to check into if it would work for you.

So, there you have it.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to make nourishing bone broth.  You need just some bones, a pot and some time.  Just do it.

Why I Love My Large(r) Family…

There are so  many reasons I love having a large family.  Compared to some of my online friends, six kids really isn’t that many.  But most folks?  Well, they have a hard time wrapping their heads around why we have so many and how we make it work.

Here are just a few of the reasons I love having a large(r) family:

1. There’s always someone to play with.

2. Parenting a teen and a baby and everything in between is challenging, but fun and rewarding at the same time!  Teaching my older children to dance and my little children to read, shopping for formal dresses and onesies on the same outting, feeding teenagers and babies and picky middles at the same table, rocking a baby while counseling a teen; I’ve got it all!

3. There is no time for boredom.  I am constantly being challenged by my work, resulting in many lessons learned and lots of great personal growth.  Warning: If you ask the Lord for patience, you WILL learn it -the hard way!

4. Got a tough job to do?  Many hands make light work!

5. Can you imagine multiple talents, ideas and thoughts crashing together to create a wonderful invention, business plan or solve a great problem?  Now imagine this can happen without even leaving your house!  Too cool for words!

My large(r) family is awesome!!!

6 Random Kitchen Tips for the Busy Mom

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to blog lately.  But I thought I would quickly share a few tips that have been helpful for me in the kitchen that may or may not be new to you.

Tip #1

We eat muffins a lot around here and I have found this to be  a great tool: my ice cream scooper.  Use an ice cream scooper to fill your muffin cups.  It’s the perfect size.

Tip #2

If you don’t like your hands smelling after you’ve worked with garlic, wash them and rub them on your metal faucet while washing.  It takes away the garlic smell.  I have no idea why, but it works.  Something about the metal neutralizes the garlic.

Tip #3

When baking or cooking, double or triple your batch and put the extra in the freezer.  Same effort yields more meals/snacks, and it  uses less power, too.  Plus you have instant meals ready to go.

Tip #4

Keep items in your pantry at all times that will make at least three meals.  I like to make meals in a basket, which I wrote about here.  However you do it, be sure that anyone in your family is able to make meals out of what you have on hand in an emergency/time crunch/what have you.

Tip #5

Train your kids to cook.  Our eldest two are coming along, although I would like to see them cooking full dinners for us very soon.  In my opinion, I’m a bit behind on this with them at 11 and 13 years old.  We’re working on it.

Tip #6

Prepare salads on the weekend that will keep in the frig through Tuesday or Wednesday.  Make them part of your meal plan.  Pasta salad, fruit salad and coleslaw are a few that keep pretty well.  You can then prepare more salads on Wednesday, rely on frozen veggies the rest of the week, or, if Wednesday is your shopping day (when the new ads start), you can change up your plan, buy fresh veggies, etc.