Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Definition of Community

         Most of my blogs are about living the country life in a homesteading sense. About planting fruits and veggies, and harvesting them and canning them, or baking and cooking with them. Raising chickens and enjoying fresh eggs. Country life, for me was learning to get used to the absolute dark and quiet (that there aren't zombies hiding behind trees). Appreciating the amount of light a full moon on a clear night can cast over you, an so much more.

When my family decided to move out to the country there was a lot on our minds.

Where do we live after we inevitably over stay our welcome with my Dad? Where will the kids go to school? Will it be easy for them to make new friends. Will I be able to find something to do with my time when both of the boys are in school and so on?

Somewhere in and between all of these questions we learned  a new word. Well not so much a new word but we learned to see it in a whole new light.


 When I hear  the word community I think about the surroundings we live in. That's not wrong, you can use that word to describe your town or your neighbourhood, but there is another definition.

The definition of community is;

a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

We are so lucky that we have met a group of families that have welcomed us and that encompass the very meaning of community so much so that I'm getting a little misty writing this.

I've never had this feeling before. This feeling that if I need help I can call any one of these people and they will be there to help my family. Whether it be a ride to town to so that I can get groceries or an extra set of hands to help Anthony fix our car.

 I met ladies that saw a newcomer in town and made an effort to include not just me but my family in their activities. Ladies that are kind and uplifting and give you that push when you're feeling down and more then anything ladies that make me LAUGH! Families that are raising their children with similar values. It's a huge deal to put a  group of kids together and have NONE of them cry or fight.

Now when I think of My Not So Pioneer Life I think of more then just the planting and harvesting. I think about the community of people and how it really does take a village not just to raise your children but to raise your family.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Ear Infection that Shook the World

If you have children you know that coughs, fevers, runny noses and ear infections come in the middle of the night.

What was once a happy child frolicking through the day making you crazy has now turned in to a screaming crying, NOT SLEEPING child (the worst and saddest kind).

As a parent you also know that your options in the middle of the night are not the greatest as far as help is concerned and depending on the age of your children you can't always give them a cold remedy  or antibiotics.

At our home we are slowly beginning to embrace essential oils. I know it's a super trendy thing right now but after last night I am singing their praises! I use essential oils for DIY cleaning products in my home as well as lavender oil for burns. I've slowly been building up my essential oil collection and happily so because I needed them last night.

Around 11:30 last night Max woke up screaming in pain. His ear was sore. I've never dealt with ear infections before, I had no idea what to do. So what do you do in the 21st century when you need a home remedy?! PINTEREST!

Yes I did go to Pinterest to find a remedy, yes I know that the 'internet' does not know all, but we live in a fascinating modern age and instead of going to the emergency room to sit with my 4 year old for hours I went online hoping to find something natural that could get us through the night.

I found this pin. It talks about using lavender essential oil, coconut oil and lemon essential oil to help soothe an ear ache.

Keep this in your back pocket parents, especially if you have kids that suffer from ear infections.

I used this remedy on Max twice last night (in the middle of the night and VERY early morning) and each time he was back to sleep in less then 5 minutes, and managed to stay asleep for hours.

I honestly can't believe how well this home remedy worked, and twice ! I don't really know or understand what essential oils do for your body. Maybe it's the soothing smell (lemon oil is yummy smelling) or maybe it does really get into your body and help in a very natural way.

I mostly think I'm too lazy to read all the information that will probably tell me why they work. I'm a lets see if it works kind of gal.

Anyway, this one has been added to my home remedies board on Pinterest as well as my Tried Tested and True board. I can't go on enough about it!!

A side note:
The women that shared the remedy will also remind you that if you child is in an extreme amount of pain, seek medical help, she is not a dr, just a Mom trying to do the best for her child.

In our home we are all for natural healing if possible but antibiotics are our friend and we would never want our children to suffer any longer then they have to or at all.

  PS - Max has a doctors appointment today

Monday, 5 October 2015

Just Beet It!

       Living in a rural community can have it's perks. There are farm stand as far as the eye can see all summer and into the fall and even though I'm not a huge veggie person, you can never scoff at fresh local produce.

There are many people in my family that love a jar of pickled beets, combine this with my love of preserving all things and there may be a jar at your doorstep in the near future.

Alas, if you do not have someone to quench your beet craving, I give to you my recipe for Bread and Butter Beets.

You'll need

BEETS! 10lbs of them
Pickling Spice (1 tsp per 500ml jar, 1tbsp per 1L jar)

Pickling Liquid
2L sugar
2L vinegar
2L water

Beets are a pretty tough root vegetable so you're going to need to boil to heck out of them. Start them off in a pot of cold water and boil until they are fork tender. About an hour.

Now this is when you're going to want to either wear gloves or just embrace the colour purple. Because this is the colour your hand will turn if you don't.

Cool the beets in cold water, cut off ends and peel with your fingers. Cut the beets into quarters or whatever size you would like and put them aside in a bowl until your jars are ready.

Grab another pot and add your pickling liquid ingredients to it, stir and bring to a boil.

While you're peeling and cutting, boil your jars, rings and lids in a large canner or pot for about 10 minutes making sure there's at least 1 inch of water covering them.

Once you're jars are sterilized add the pickling spice and pack in the beets. 

Carefully fill the hot jars with the hot pickling liquid within 1/4 inch of the tops of the jar.

Cover with your lids and screw bands tightly and place the jars back into your pot of boiling water. 

Boil for 10 minutes, remove the jars from the pot and place the jars aside. Somewhere they can sit undisturbed for around 12 hours. 

Listen for the gratifying 'POP' of your jars sealing  and you're all set!

Let the jars sit for at least a week so the beets can take in all the flavor from the spices, then enjoy them yourself of gift them to friends or family. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bread and Butter Pickles

I took a preserves class at Loyalist College in Belleville last year. It was a very informative and fun class and that made me even more excited to preserve all things!

This recipe for bread and butter pickles was a huge hit at home last year so this year I planted my own pickling cucumbers with the intent of making pickles.

I was out in our veggie garden last night and picked the four cucumbers that were ready and rushed into the house to make pickles.

We begin.

If you are new to canning do not fret, it's easier then it looks and hopefully I can get your started here.

You're going to need a big pot. You can buy a canning kit at Walmart or Canadian Tire if you like.  I just use a big pot with  a small cooling rack at the bottom this is so your jars don't jump around too much while they boil, they may break.  A pair of tongs will also come in handy.

Get your big pot of water to a boil and while you're waiting grab another pot and start making the pickling liquid. This is an easy 1 to 1 to 1 ratio, which makes it easy to adjust depending on how many cucumbers you have.

With my four cucumbers I started here, with the pickling liquid

Pickling Liquid
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar

You can double, triple and quadruple this if you need to. If you make too much you can store it in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Pickling Cucumbers
Pickling spice  (1 tsp per 500ml jar 1 tbsp per 1L jar)
Fresh dill
2 cloves of garlic per jar

Stir and heat the pickling liquid in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.  You want the liquid to hot when you pour it over the pickles.

Now your big pot O water is boiling. Gently place your jars, lids and screw tops in the pot. Don't over crowd the jars, if you have a lot do them in stages. Boil the jars for about 10 minutes making sure the tops are covered with water. This will sterilize your jars.

While you wait for the jars to sterilize you can cut the cucumbers.  Cut them to the thickness you prefer. I made mine a little thick last night, mostly because I had a little helper and I was more concerned about not having bread and butter fingers.

Using a pair of tongs, take your jars, lids and screw tops out of the boiling water and set them on a dish towel.

Keep your water boiling for later.

In the bottom of the jars place in your fresh dill (as much or as little as your like), pickling spice and garlic. Then pack in those cucumbers. Once the cucumbers are in pour the hot pickling liquid into your jars,  leave about an inch to half and inch of room at the top of the jar.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a dish towel or paper towel that has been dipped into boiling water. We want to keep things as clean as possible. Put on your lids and gently screw on the rings.

Now we're going to place the filled jars back into the pot of boiling water and process them for about 10 minutes. If you have to do this in stages don't worry, the jars can wait, you don't have to put them all in at once.

After you've processed your jars take them out of the water, place them on the kitchen counter and let them sit for at least 12 hours. You may hear the joyful 'pop' we canners love! That means your jars have sealed. Your jars won't all pop at once, it may take several hours for certain jars to seal. If you're worried you can put sealed jars back into boiling water and process them again, if they still don't seal just eat your pickles right away. They should be good in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

I hope this recipe is helpful to those of you who are new to canning and tasty for those of you that LOVE pickles!

Good luck and enjoy!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Tisket a Tasket a Biscuit in a Basket

Tea Biscuits.

I have an affinity for a certain kind of tea biscuit. One that I always post pictures of on my Instagram account that either has friends jumping into the kitchen to make their own, or people asking me for the recipe that I use.

So for those of you who have asked for the recipe today, I am making good on my promise to get off my butt and post this much loved recipe.

This is a variation of the Canadian Living Cheese Tea Biscuit recipe and I've just thrown some add ins to it.

2 1/4 cup of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt (I usually skip this because I buy salted butter, up to you)
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup old cheddar (or whatever cheese your prefer)
1 cup of milk

Add ins of your choice 
whatever floats your boat

Combine flour baking powder and salt (if using) into a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly.

There are a few ways to make this 'crumbly' that the recipe is talking about. One was is with a pastry cutter and some elbow grease and mash away. Another is to use your kitchen aid mixed with the paddle attachment and just stir in the butter until you're crumbly or there is a kind of time consuming way that I prefer which is to just rub the butter and flour mixture between your fingers until the aforementioned crumbly has happened. 

Moving on.

Stir in cheese

Pour milk over top of flour mixture and stir with a fork until sticky and ragged.

On a lightly floured surface kneed the dough about 8 to 10 times. (not too much because we want to keep the butter cold so the biscuits can be nice and flaky)

This is when I usually add the bacon or chives. I gently kneed the bacon in until it's incorporated through.

Pat or roll the dough until it's about an 1" to an 1" 1/4 thickness depending on how thick you want the biscuits to be. Cut your biscuits out with a circle cutter or a soup can, whatever you have on hand.

Arrange on a parchment lined baking pan. I like to group mine together, you can also cook them an inch or so apart if you like.

Bake at 425 degrees F  for 15 minutes

I usually make a double batch and depending on who is asking for biscuits I may make a few variations so everyone is happy. Or I will freeze the extras.

If you are going to make extra and freeze them, which I highly recommend you can just toss the baked biscuits in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. When you're hankering for a treat take them out of the freezer, let them thaw and toss them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. A good friend of mine told me to put a dab of butter on the top of each biscuit before putting them back in the oven (Thanks Kristina). You should do it too!

Okay now your turn! I want to see your biscuits! (hee hee)

I'll show you mine 

If you show me yours!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

I Think I Want To Sew

When I was a kid my Mom signed me up for sewing lessons. I loved them. I learned how to make clothes, actual clothes. Pants, shorts a really cute puffy blouse (I was 11). I'm not sure why I stopped taking the lessons but to this day I wish I hadn't.

About 8 years Anthony bought me a sewing machine, a very nice one, and I had every intention of taking classes and learning how to sew my own clothes and household items.

As soon as I could I went to Fabricland, I bought sewing patterns and fabric and was ready to have all that lost sewing knowledge flow into my brain and I would be off!

I am sad to report that I didn't get very far. I have very little patience, very very little patience. Following a pattern bored me but when I tried to do things how I wanted to I ended up with a mess. I didn't throw in the towel though, I just made curtains. Yes, I sewed two fabric rectangles together and hung them up proudly in my windows.

Flash forward 8 years and I have one very dusty sewing machine that I really want to take advantage of. Since I knew I could sew rectangles I thought, I can sew squares. So I found a simple pattern online and I made cloth napkins with fabric I found at a second handstore for super cheap.

 With my confidence at about a 7 I found a great tutorial for fleece mittens. I took Jack to Fabricland and had him pick out a fleece fabric he liked, which just so happened to be on sale (win) and I made mittens! I made mittens that he LOVES and wears everywhere!

Today I made placemats  for the kids. Again thank heavens for the world wide web! Another easy pattern, one that included fusible interfacing  (eep) which lead to a quick tutorial and then placemats!

One of the things I've learned from my journey towards the sewing hall of fame is if you don't have time to take lessons start small, take advantage of online tutorials and take your time. I'm still trying to take my time.  If I could wave fabric in from of my sewing machine and have it turn into a circle skirt that would be AWESOME, but I don't.

For now I will stick to the easy to handle patterns and hope that one day I will be able to take lessons and really take my sewing machine out for a spin!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Splish Splosh Apple Sauce

I loved apple sauce as a kid. As a matter of fact I still do. My kids on the other hand, they don't love it as much as I do. Max will have a bowl here and there but his life won't end if he doesn't eat any.

So why am I going to share my apple sauce recipe today? Because even though we don't eat apple sauce on its own we do go through it pretty fast. Apple sauce happens to be one of the main ingredients in the fruit roll up recipe that I use. It can also be a stepping stone if you choose to make your own baby food.

 This recipe is so easy, you don't have to add anything to it but a little bit of lemon juice and cinnamon, which, now that I'm writting this I totally forgot to add today! I still got the thumbs up from Max so all is not lost!

Here's what you will need

Apples, a bunch of apples
I used the Macintosh apples. The ones you can get already in a bag
Lemon juice

First thing to do is to peel, core and cut your apples.

Place your apples in a large pot, add about 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water and cook partially covered on medium low stiring here and there until the apples are soft.

Once the apples are cooked you can either mash them with a potato masher until it isn't so chuncky (unless you like it that way) or you can put the cooked apples through a food mill if you have one. I was lucky enough to be gifted a food mill for Christmas so that's what I have been using.

After you have mashed or milled the apples you can add the cinnamon to taste or forget it all together like I did.

I jar my apple sauce just so it doesn't take up room in the fridge.

You can do this if you like but it's usually fine in the fridge for a couple of weeks depending on how much you make. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays if you are using it as baby food.

I ended up with about 11 cups of apple sauce.

The great thing about this recipe is that it's incredibly simple and easy to play with. If you don't want 11 cups of apple sauce, don't use so many apples.  If you would like it a bit sweeter then add some honey or brown sugar. The possibilities are endless!