Category Archives: Planning

Revisiting Priorities Summer 2014

A quiet chat in the garden

Chatting in the garden

potted plants in the garden

Chamomile in the garden


PRIORITIES… A term that has been ringing in my head for several months now. A few years back it was all so simple, these days I find most of my time being consumed by work (our on line shops) and our growing family. Where does the time go, I don’t seem to get 1/3 done each day that needs to be done. Yes, I have loads of support from everyone here but still no time to do the things most important to me.

chamomile in the garden


Gardening is a biggie the past couple of years, first its the constant pain in my neck and back from a ruptured disc. This has caused me to scale back to a very small veggie garden and to be honest most of what gets done in it is when I can convince some one, mostly son #1 to help me get it done. This year it was Daisy who put in most of the seeds. Such a responsibility for an 8 year old, and she surpassed all my expectations in doing it. Guess she had a good teacher.

Second it simply a lack of time needed to grow a successful garden. There is no point in putting in the work then not caring for it, because there are little to no rewards as in a pantry full of freshly filled jars come Fall.

A few months back I made the decision the ask for outside help in the shop and my prayers were answered with Miss. Zoe, not only is she a very dear friend, she is a co-leader with me in Daisy’s Girl Scout Troop and now she gladly helps out in the shop. Filling orders, answering emails, and many moments of silliness make my days easier.

I have been working on learning materials, organizing supplies, and plenty of school time for both him and Daisy.

Big Boy turns 5

Big Boy turns 5

Our growing family… we recently added full time our Grandson, Shaye to the family for a few months while his mother works out some major personal issues and hopefully some soul searching for his wellbeing. This change has brought less room in the house, added “things” and another huge chunk of my time dedicated to some schooling before he starts Kindergarten in the Fall. He has major catching up to do just to be at a level his peers are, never mind added life and social skills he lacks.

So here I am my priorities for the busy Summer, how about you. What are your most important goals for the season?


Another Convenience Food-Farm Style

Sweet Pea and Calendula soap ready to be cut into bars

I know I talk about this all the time but here I go again. Some times I don’t feel like making a huge mess or spending lots of time cooking. There are other fun things to do but everyone has to eat right? And everyone like good home cooked meals over some boxed stuff, right?

Last night was one of those I don’t feel like cooking nights. So our fast food was a hot bowl of pea soup, corn bread and for dessert we had peaches. I had exactly 2 pans, 4 spoons, 4 glasses, 4 bowls, 1 knife and a wooden spoon to clean up. I warmed up a jar of pea soup I had frozen last fall, a quick corn bread recipe that took all of 5 minutes to measure out, and I stirred together right in my cast iron frying pan then baked and popped the lid off a jar of peaches I put up. The corn bread recipe could have been even faster if I had the recipe minus the liquids and eggs premeasured in a container with the recipe written on the side.

gardener's soap with cranberry seeds

The secret to these meals is that it all started months ago when I purchased a nice smoked pork shoulder. We had a wonderful family meal with close friends the night I cooked it. I saved the left over meat in small packages and froze for things like quick omelets, mac and cheese and even toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.

Meal two came with the ham bone a few night later, I made into a nice large batch of pea soup. This was a don’t even think about it meal. I put the ham bone in the crock pot and covered it with water, set it on low and forgot about it until the next day. After it was cool I removed the bone and other undesirable pieces, leaving the loose ham bits in the water. To this I dumped in about 4# of dried peas and a few well diced carrots. I turned the crock pot back on low and forgot about it again until later in the day when it was dinner time. Turned out perfect. A quick batch of corn bread and a fresh salad from the garden and dinner was served.

To freeze the leftover soup for another quick meal, I used regular quart canning jars and lids to freeze meal size portions in. These were not new lids, this is okay because I didn’t pressure can the soup I froze it. Make sure to leave plenty of head room as this stuff does expand when it freezes. No pressure canning needed, I simply put the band and lid on and put it in the freezer. I sometimes use other sized jars and their lids in place of the canning jars, it depends on the size I want to freeze.

After dinner last night I stopped into one of my favorite Blogs, to say hello to Rhonda Jean over at Down To Earth and was quite pleased to see she too is talking about pork shoulders and how handy and economical they are. You can read about it from her, here. Her photo of her dinner makes me hungry all over again for another cooked roast.

will be in our Etsy shop soon...Smells like spring to me...

So now on to the corn bread, like I said I was in no mood to spend lots of time cooking so I mixed my corn bread right in the cast iron frying pan and tossed it in the oven to bake. My recipe calls for corn meal, I decided to use up some I ground last fall while preparing for our 7 months of eating from our pantry. The recipe also called for a small amount of white flour, I used ground oats and a bit of bran flour. There is also a small amount of “liquid fat” my recipe calls for so I used flax oil with a splash of sunflower oil. It turned out yummy. * here is another little Karyn is not into cooking tonight tip…the recipe needed a cup of milk. Since I am doing my baking with powdered milk to cut back on the fresh milk ($$ & running to the farm down the road) I didn’t bother mixing the milk first I tossed about 3 TBS of the milk powder right in the flour mix and added a cup of water with the oil and egg.

20 minutes and very little dishes later we were stuffed full of our convenience food…farm style. Now to decide what is for dinner tonight. I think it will be a “farm house buffet”  (leftovers for those of you who are wondering). We have some Shepard’s pie, pea soup, potato salad and fresh spinach that need to be used up. Almost forgot the brownies and chocolate chip cookies…

So whats for dinner at your house tonight?

New Gardener’s Soap

For those of you who have been asking. I finally finished the new batch of Gardener’s Soap just in time for the spring gardening season. I can tell you it gets plenty of use around here all gardening season. I keep a bar of it up at the barn, in the kitchen and down by the water hose.

These pretty pastel white, yellow and mint green bars are packed with 10X orange essential oil and rosemary essential oil. We use orange oil to remove dirt, grime and general sticky messes. Added to these bars is a good amount of ground pumice and cranberry seeds for the extra scrub you will need when cleaning up after digging in the garden. You can get your own bar from our Etsy shop.

While we are on the subject of spring and gardens we have been playing in the tub with these spring frog soaps. Daisy is having a ball with them. They are also listed in our Etsy shop.

I started a bit of spring cleaning around here and got the walls, floor, curtains and shower curtains washed in the big bathroom. I decided to open a package of our Organic Dryer Sachets since I used the dryer this time, I needed to get the room done so I could start spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight. I’m glad I did the room smells so nice…

Also keep your eye out for an upcoming spring cleaning sale I am putting together this week. And don’t forget our free shipping offer, use coupon code BACK HOME for free shipping in the US.

I made some progress on the layout for the kitchen garden. So that makes me feel better. Boy are seeds addicting and the collection around here is growing quite large. I should come up with another way to organize them other than my old broken down shoe box…I’ll try and remember to add that to my list. 🙂

…and I started a batch of tomatoes cooking for spaghetti sauce for tomorrows dinner. Last summer I just ran out of steam when I was canning sauce so I took the last few tomatoes and froze them whole. Today I plopped a bunch in the crock pot and will let them cook down. Tomorrow night I will run them through the food mill and finish making the sauce by adding a few herbs and putting it to simmer again in the crock pot for dinner on Tuesday night. It’s pretty easy to do and doesn’t take all that much attention from me while cooking.

Hope you weekend went as well as mine did.

Pantry Update..going very well

I spent some time straightening up the pantry recently and taking new inventory counts. In looking at our remaining meal plan days and the quantities left in the pantry I would say we are right on track for most items. 

Since I finalized our list a couple of changes have happened that I didn’t count on and this leaves a few items such as the very lean red meat, chicken and pork on the low side. This is due to a change in the menu because we had to adjust Dick’s diet a bit since the meal plan was finished.It will work out because I just traded a bunch of our ground hamburger for some nice pork roasts. Friends of ours are up to their ears in pork. They put 2 full grown pigs into their freezers this fall, and she was more than happy to make the trade for a bit of red meat.

Tarts made of fresh raspberry soap

We are a bit low on the home canned soups. This is because I it is so easy to open a jar of soup vs cooking an actual meal when I was so tired I couldn’t see or think straight…homemade convenience food is a wonderful thing. I will be making another few batches and will get the pressure canner out again. Of course the ingredients will come from the pantry and I have new lids here that I bought on sale at the end of the canning season last fall. End of the season sales are when I stock up on canning supplies.

Guess who just turned 5!
Guess who just turned 5!

We have another new food plan in the works and it is a joint effort to produce meat for both farms. This is a promising adventure for both of our families. I know others in the past have tried it and have run across problems and the venture ended badly. Yet I also know families who do it year after year with no problems. Our families have worked together, been friends and raised horses together for years so I don’t see any problems for us.

I’m not sure this will save any money in the long run but the purpose here is to have the quantities we need and the quality I want. This will divide the labor a bit and spread out the costs of housing the animals. Around here pigs, chickens and turkeys are seasonally grown so neither of us will need to worry about caring for them over the winter.

We are working out the details:

At the other farm- they will raise for us 1 additional pig. We will be buying the feed and be paying for the processing in the fall for this. Then we will be trading with them most of our bacon and hams for the roasts and chops that better fit our diet.

At our farm-we will be raising turkeys and meat chickens. We don’t have the quantities worked out yet but their family is as large as ours. I know the chicks have to be bought a dozen at a time.

When we were first talking about the turkeys the first though was how on earth are we going to eat 6 full grown turkeys over the winter! (Assuming we will split them evenly.) Then I thought how on earth would I find space in the freezer for 6 large birds. You see I was thinking roast turkey, thanksgiving style…But then it dawned on me, we have a meat grinder! We love ground turkey and it will take much less room in the freezer and can even be canned in jars. Problem solved, ground turkey works just like ground beef in so many recipes and turkey Dick can eat. Another plus is with the intention of grinding the turkey we won’t have to worry about the messy job of plucking feathers, the bird can simply be skinned and the meat ground… Piece of cake….

She got new ice skates!

She got new ice skates!

Other plans are coming along too. This week I will be starting the layout for the garden and ordering our seeds. In a few weeks it will be time to start our seedlings. This is always an exciting time to have a bit of something growing when there are feet of snow covering the garden. Actually just now I can’t even see the fence around the garden because the snow is covering it. My inventory count will come in handy once again when deciding on how much of each crop to plant.

And lastly I started the list for the coming canning season. New this year and I will need to find the recipes for is beef stew, chili and turkey stew. I also know that I will not be canning so many quarts of potatoes, the pints are a better size for our family. The canned potatoes have come in quite handy for tossing into soup and even work like “instant potatoes” for topping one of our favorite dishes, Shepherd’s Pie, so easy. I heat them, mash them then top off our casserole, no peeling or cooking needed, they are already cooked. More “convenience” food!

Tarts and tea
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