Some Basil A Day Keeps Skeeters Away

I don’t know about where you live, but our muggy, humid summer days are filled with swarming mosquitoes. You know the kind, the ones that especially love the sweet, plump flesh of a toddler!

Last summer, in my search for an all natural insect repellent recipe, which would have to be safe enough to spread on my baby’s delicate skin, I discovered the simplest, most effective remedy I’ve found yet…FRESH BASIL!

Not only is basil a delicious herb to add to your favorite Italian dishes, it also acts as an amazing, straight-from-the-garden pest repellent.

I was extremely skeptical the first time we tried it out. Especially on my kids, seeing as their sweaty little selves just seemed to be magnets to mosquitoes. But after rubbing them down with fresh leaves, and letting them run around the yard for a few hours, I was super excited to find that none of the children had a single mosquito bite on them! Amazing!!

I am LOVING not having to spray the kids with who-knows-what anymore! Now when they go outside, they head straight into the garden to rub down with some freshly picked basil leaves before going to play.

It’s safe, effective, and free!! Gotta love that basil.

The Weed That Heals

Chances are you have this weed growing in your yard. You may have even tried pulling it up, or spraying it with something in an attempt to have the “perfect” yard. But Plantain isn’t just any old common weed, it’s truly a miraculous herb. If you do have any growing in your yard, for heaven’s sakes leave it there! One day you’ll be glad you did.

I’d heard many folks bragging of the benefit of using a Plantain leaf to relieve a bee sting, but I must admit, I was a bit skeptical until one day when I saw this herb work it’s magic with my own eyes.

It was a sunny Summer afternoon. My children were playing in the yard beside me as I hung clothes on our clothesline. They were crouching to examine a new-found insect, when my four-year-old decided it would be great fun to chase his sister with the bug. But seconds after he’d picked it up and begun his game, I heard him shout loudly, which was immediately followed by screaming and crying. Now, this was very uncharacteristic behavior for my sweet boy, so I knew he must be really hurt. Continue reading

The Old Chimney’s Story

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 26, 2011. It’s one of my favorites, and I am pleased to share it with you again.

We live on an acre of my father’s beautiful thirty-four acres of land, far away from neighbors and paved roads… so one day, when I heard the sound of motors coming up my gravel driveway, and then the unfamiliar voices of men just behind the house, I was suddenly filled with the urge to run for my shotgun. Being a city girl in the country, being alone out there with my children, surrounded by nothing but the trees and squirrels as witnesses, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Two men… two big men… riding 4-wheelers were parked just outside. What did they want?

I tried to calm myself. Don’t freak out. This is the country, remember? People are generally nice around here. Trying to remain rational (and not running out of the house like a mad woman, waving a gun in the air and yelling at the strangers to get off of my property!), I went outside with my arms crossed and with a stern face. I’m sure they could tell from my sharp expression that I was not happy that they were there. Continue reading

Time to Get Your Garden On!

Start Your Seedlings in 12 Easy Steps

Many gardeners seem to be intimidated by the idea of starting their own plants from seed. Most people I know have always gone to the garden shop to buy their seedlings in Spring. But, what if I told you that starting seeds is literally so easy a child could do it? And not only that, it’ll save you a ton of money as well! Not to mention that you’ll be able to grow any variety you fancy, and won’t be limited by what’s available in your area.

Follow these 12 easy steps, and you’ll never have to buy another costly nursery plant again! Continue reading

When Freezers Fail, Canning Saves the Day!

When a hunter friend of ours had his freezer that was packed with venison go out, he decided to bless us with some of the thawed hunks of meat. Knowing my family would never be able to eat it all before it went bad, and that it wouldn’t be safe to re-freeze the raw venison, I decided to take the opportunity to experiment with my new pressure canner. And I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to can my own meat!

Continue reading

Apple Pie Spiced Cookies

I admit, I’m definitely a warm, chocolate chip cookie kind of girl. But when I’m all out of those little cocoa morsels and I’m craving some straight-from-the-oven baked treats, these Apple Pie Spiced cookies are definitely my next favorite in line! They’re just the right mix of chewy and crunchy. Try them this season as an unexpected addition to all those traditional Christmas cookies. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as my family does.

Apple Pie Spiced Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies
Makes approx. 35 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter, softened to room temp Continue reading

Homemade Venison Jerky

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to deer hunting season again! I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh venison. Though I’m still trying to acquire a taste for deer roasts and stews, I absolutely love deer jerky.

If you’ve never made it, you have to give it a try. It’s super easy, and with this recipe, the taste is better than anything you’ll ever buy at the store. Here is the recipe I use:

Venison Jerky

1 lb venison (fat and skin removed)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon A-1 Steak Sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup soy sauce Continue reading

Waste Not, Want Not

Bamboo Compost Pail

Bamboo Compost Pail

It’s funny how your view of food changes when you start growing and processing it yourself. Not only do you become more aware of where your food comes from, and what’s in your food (rather, what’s not in your food), but you also become more appreciative of every tiny morsel.

When you raise a hen from a hatchling, feed it, water it, protect it from predators, gather eggs from it for a couple of years, and then butcher it, you are keenly aware of the life that has been sacrificed for your nourishment. It isn’t just a hunk of meat you picked up from the refrigerator section of the grocery store- a faceless, meaningless piece of meat… it was a life, a beautiful creature, and the meat from that bird becomes almost sacred. Cherished.

Wire Egg Basket from Lehman's

Wire Egg Basket

Wasting any of it feels like a crime. You don’t take it for granted, and you truly appreciate every ounce of the life that was given.

The same goes for growing your own produce. You put a lot of time, sweat, love, and effort into those plants. When you are finally able to reap the rewards of your labor, however meager they may be, you are truly thankful and even excited about your harvest, and want to make the most of it all, letting nothing go to waste. Continue reading

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Mouthwatering Pear Preserves

Mmmm. Wow. Oh my goodness. I can’t pull myself away from these things!

Just one more bite- Wow. These pear preserves are like warm bits of sweet heaven melting in my mouth. Somebody pry this jar away from me- please. Okay, I’m good. No really, I can do this.

I’ve never really considered myself a pear loving kinda girl. But when my mother-in-law let me have full reign of her old pear tree, I didn’t waste the opportunity to gather as many as I could.

I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the pears, other than can them halved. But I knew I wanted to experiment. Boy, I had no idea what I was getting into when I gave this recipe a try. I think I’ll plant a pear orchard, just to have these pear preserves stocked for the rest of my life.

Mouthwatering Pear Preserves
Pears (still green; preferably Kieffers)
Sugar- lots of it

As for quantities, it doesn’t matter how many pears you have for this recipe, just add 2 cups of sugar for every 2 quarts of pears (approx. 14 small/med. pears). Though in my opinion, if you don’t have at least 6 quarts of pears, it’s probably not worth the trouble to can them, you won’t get more than three pints of preserves.

First thing you do, as always, is wash the fruit. Continue reading

I Heart My NutriMill!

Can I just say how in love I am with my NutriMill? Seriously!

Before I got my hands on this beauty, I was working hard hand grinding our wheat. Every day I would stand at my kitchen counter and grind… and grind… and GRIND. It took a while. It’s definitely nice to have a hand grinder in case of power outages. I love the one I have… but for everyday use it’s quite a workout to grind those 4-5 cups of flour needed to make one loaf of bread!

Call me a sissy, but I just couldn’t keep it up. We were seriously lacking in the baked goods department.

Something had to give. I needed more power! I hopped online and read every review I could find on electric wheat grinders. They are definitely an investment, so you have to know that it’s gonna be worth it. After I’d compared all of the options out there, the NutriMill came out on top every time. I had to have her. Continue reading