winter solstice

Winter Solstice is one of my most favorite holidays in our family. We are still finding our rhythm with how we celebrate and are always bringing in new inspiration and ideas to help make the day meaningful. Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. We try to use as much candle light as possible to keep the light burning in our home. We tell stories about how the sun must go to bed early in night’s arms because he is very, very tired. But the next morning we will rejoice because he will be reborn and our days will get a little longer each day. Its a symbol that spring will be on its way and that is a very exciting time on our homestead. I think we are all about to die to get our hands in the dirt and to planting seeds so this celebration gives us a bit of hope and lifts our winter blues. We would usually do this the night of the solstice, but I had grown up plans for once with some friends on solstice night so we did our marshmallow roasting by candle light the night prior. If it was nicer out we would have done a bon fire, but the weather was not cooperating with us. The kids enjoyed this just as much!

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On the morning of the solstice we talked about the animals outside that may need some extra food and love because it has been so cold. We made the birds a special treat by putting cheerios on some embroidery thread to hang outside. We put them on a tree close to our window so we can watch what birds come by for a snack.
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After we hung our bird feeders, we went on a family hike through the woods by our cabin.
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Once we returned home, my husband left to gather more firewood (can never have too much fire wood) and the kids and I wanted to clean up Mother Earth a bit. We walked around our property and the surrounding areas and filled up 2 trash bags of old broken toys and litter people driving over the ridge had tossed out. We went for another walk on our drive way and gathered decorations for our yule log centerpiece.

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We came in for some downtime after spending most of the morning outdoors and I put together our centerpiece and then the kids made sun bread to serve with our dinner.
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SUN BREAD RECIPE:

2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups warm water

1/4 cup honey

Put your yeast in warm water (not hot or else you will kill your yeasty friends), stir until dissolved Stir in honey

Mix dry ingredients together

Add flour mixture to wet, start with 2 cups of flour and then gradually add more

Knead until you have a ball of dough that is smooth like a baby’s bottom or if you arent sure when that is, stretch your dough and if you can see light coming through you are done. We usually kneed for about 10 minutes or so. The kids like to take turns working the dough.

Put your dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let it rise in a warm, draft free place.

Once it is doubled in size then pinch the dough into pieces and make your sun shape.

Let it rise again.

About 15 minutes or so. Bake in a 375* oven for about 30-35 minutes.

While the rest of dinner simmered on the stove (bear chili this year! We always do some kind of soup or one pot meal), we did some of our outside chores and made sure to give our hens a special solstice treat. Afterall, the do give us mounds of eggs every day and we wanted to show our appreciation.

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We talked more about the rebirth of the sun and discussed how we can work on our inner selves and in a sense, rebirth our spirit with some inspiration on how we can be better people to others or to ourselves. Its an out with the old, in with the new kind of thing. We wrote down our intentions (the kids drew photos) of what needs work, rolled up the list or photo, and set it on fire. We wanted to symbolize our intention and then release the energy out in to the universe. So now we we feel our self starting to fall back into our old habits that we want to change, we can remember this moment and and gain some strength and peace of mind and slowly rebirth our spirits to be the person we want to be. Marleigh drew a photo of wanted to not yell at her brother so much and Maddox wanted to work on listening more.
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Dinner is served by candle light around our table and we enjoy our sun bread and a meal that was created by our own two hands. We try to choose something that didnt have to come from a store and that was sustained by Mother Earth. We saved vegetables and beans in our pantry for this meal from our garden and the meat was from a bear my husband harvested and thanked the Earth for by his own two hands. All meat we take from the Earth is always harvested with thankfulness and never leaves our farm. We work together to make sure we handle each part with care and that there is no waste.
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I usually would like to try to stay up all night on solstice, but this year I had plans to go to a friends house for the evening and when I got home I was exhausted. We lit candles (in a bowl of water) to burn through out the night to keep our light burning for the sun. I meditate before bed, practice some simple yoga, and then hit the hay. On the next morning we usually rejoice and eat a yummy breakfast on the porch while the sun comes up, but of course on this morning, we got nothing but a very cloudy and foggy morning so we enjoyed some sun pancakes instead!
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May the solstice and turning of the wheel bring you love, peace, and good fortune in the coming year!

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The Simple Life

A little over a year ago, I made the mistake of saying, “I cant wait until we can move to our farm and live a simple life.”

I am hear to tell you those 3 words…”the simple life” does not exist on a farm.  Im not sure who started that saying and assumption.  Obviously someone who did not grow their own vegetables, make their food from scratch, raise their own meat, etc…

It has been on my mind for a while.  I think the thought came to me in the spring when we were tilling up our huge garden by hand because a tractor is just not in our budget just yet.  And as I carefully planted each seed and nurtured it for weeks and months before I even got anything back, I thought this is far from simple.  This is complex.  Each seed is differnent, requires different soil conditions, different fertilizers, different light, different companions, and so on and so forth.  It took so much time to figure it all out.  And we are still figuring most of it out.

You see, to me, “the simple life” would be to go to the grocery store to buy all of these things.  The “simple life” is going to the store to buy eggs vs. shoveling poop, hauling fresh water and food to them every day, making sure their nesting boxes are full of bedding, and making sure your coop stays clean for the sake of some fresh eggs.  You begin to name your chickens and learn their personalities.  Yes, they have personalities.  And you develop an attachment to a few special ones.  Why, yes, it is easier to go to the store and pick up a carton of “cage free” or “free ranged” eggs from a shelf that plants and idea in your head that you are getting fresh “farm” eggs when they are really 6-8 weeks old by time they get to that shelf and even those “cage free” chickens never set food on a blade of grass.  That is a “simple life.”  Raising chickens is not simple.  Its hard work.  But the satisfaction of feeling an egg while its still warm in the mornings cannot be beat.  Having eggs on my counter, knowing exactly where they came from and that they are really do come from a flock of free ranged chickens balances out all of the hard work we put into it.

The “simple life” is going to the grocery store when some fresh veggies are needed.  Or a can of tomato sauce for spaghetti sounds nice.  Or when I need some beans for chili.  But this assumption that we are living the “simple life” means that we worked for months before we got to harvest our fresh veggies all grown from a simple seed.  And that we spent hours weeding the garden to keep from using pesticides to make sure we have organic foods.  The simple life is not spending hours in the kitchen until you break a sweat from chopping and canning those vegetables so when that feeling for spaghetti hits, you have fresh sauce that came right from your front yard.  Everything from the herbs to the tomato’s.  The simple life is buying that bag or can of kidney beans for chili and picking up a package of meat that came from a slaughter house.  When we planted our kidney beans in the spring we have been envisioning eating that chili on a cold day.  The meat either from bear or venison that really does live in the wild and has had a life just how it should. The “slaughter house” is this case per say, is my kitchen and the only hands that ever touch the meat is my husbands and my own. It never leaves our farm. That is the real organic meat.  So that one meal has had MONTHS of preparation.  Not just a 5 minute drive to a store and an hour or so of simmering on the stove.  That, to me, is a simple life.  What we are doing is far from simple and I was so silly to think that it would be any different.

So I’m going to take my 2 little cans of kidney beans that came from countless weeks of growing, Im going to store them in the pantry until we have the fresh game to go with it, and I am going to really enjoy that chili knowing we grew every bit of it from our own hands and that my husband spent a huge amount of energy on hunting the meat for it.  While a bag of $1.97 bag of beans from Wal-Mart would be way simpler, it will not come with the same satisfaction as growing each of these beans.  That pride and satisfaction can not be purchased.  he memories made for my children of sitting on the porch shelling beans with me cannot be picked up on a shelf.  The lessons of patience and hard work cannot be a put on a grocery list.  That makes all of this worth it.  And that is far from simple.

 

 

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10 on 10 – September

Thank you so much for jumping over from the fabulous Heather Robinson’s page!

Summer has been fleeting away.  The leaves are starting to change and fall.  The air is changing from warm and muggy to crisp and chilly in the mornings.  Our windows are being shut at night and the race to cut enough fire wood for winter is on.  We have been canning our summer veggies for winter and the shopping for good winter coats have began.  Its crazy how fast it is all happening.  As I really enjoyed summer, I am ready for the cooler days.  Im ready for the afternoon cup of hot coffee, for the smell of fresh baked breads to fill the cabin, and for soup.  I do love a hot bowl of soup.  Im ready for hunting season and for my freezer to be packed with game my husband took days and a countless amounts of energy to provide for us.  And Im ready for pumpkin everything!  The pumpkins in our garden just turned orange and I am dying to go get them to decorate our porch.  So before I am completely done with summer, I wanted to do one last ode to summer on my blog this morning.

Here’s to the 2 wild and free kids who chose to run around in undies.  It sure is hot here with no ac so I really don’t mind.  Our beautiful sunflowers that surrounded the cabin and which is now being turned to chicken treats.  To our first egg which has now turned into atleast 8 dozen on my counter and more waiting on us now in the coop.  To our days wasted away at the creek.  And an apology to my kids that  I only took them to the actual pool once.  The creek is better.  One day they will understand.  To the hikes, the gardening overflowing with love, the fresh watermelon picked from the front yard and ate on the porch (with a chicken), and to the long days of being outside because it didn’t get dark until 9pm.  (However I am enjoying the earlier bed times now that its getting dark earlier.  Can I get an amen?)

(and Im cheating and sharing more than 10)

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Now please make your way around our circle to one of my favorites, Breanna Peterson, and see what she has in store for you this month!

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stacey - AMEN!
Wow. These are amazing.

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Sweet and Spicy Salsa – Canning Recipe

Canning season is among us and I have been a bit overwhelmed with our garden bounties.  A good problem to have, yes, but trying to preserve it all in our tiny kitchen can be a bit of a challenge.   No lie, yesterday we had to wheel in my kids radio flyer wagon slapped full of fresh tomato’s bell peppers right into the kitchen.  On our last bounty I made some salsa and we loved it so much I decided to share the recipe here just in case you have tomato’s and peppers coming out of your ears like us.   This recipe is super easy to change and adjust to your tastes and by what you have on hand.  Its sweet with a little kick at the end.  Just the way we like it!

Here’s what you will need:

Gather 8 pounds of fresh tomato’s.

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You will need to put the tomatos in a pot of boiling water for 60-90 seconds and then directly into an ice bath.  After they have cooled in the ice bath you will be able to peel the skins and take the cores out with ease.  I just use my hands and let the kids help (after I make sure they are completely cooled).  You will just squish them up by hand into a huge pot.

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Now you will grab your peppers, onions and garlic.

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chop them up and put them in a blender.  blend until smooth.  unless you like your salsa chunky…then pulse or chop.

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Now you will your pepper mixture into your tomato’s.

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Now you will add in your vinegar, spices, sugar, and tomato paste.

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Let this simmer on the stove for 4 hours.  Your home will smell amazing!

Taste as it simmers and make any additions that suit your needs.  Mine was crazy hot since I added 3 cayenne’s so I ended up adding a few splashes of lemon juice to help balance the acidity.  If you are doing a milder salsa then you wont need to worry about that.

While its simmering, prepare your canning jars and sterilize them.  Pour hot salsa in to warm jars….about 1/4 inch from the top.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth to make sure they are clean.  Top with lids and screw on rings just finger tight.

Salsa can be canned by using a water bath or a pressure cooker.  I prefer the pressure cooker so I processed my pints for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

If you are doing a water bath then you will place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 to 15 minutes.

When ready, remove the jars from the stockpot or pressure cooker and place onto a cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all).  This can take up to 24 hours so try not to press up and down on the lids until they have cooled completely.  You will hear a ping when they are sealing.  This is a good thing!  Live for the PING!:)

Store in the pantry or cupboard until ready to open.

Refrigerate after opening.  and ENJOY!

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Ingredients:

8 pounds of fresh garden tomato’s

3 onions – a white, yellow, and red

2 banana peppers (if you want it mild) OR  we used 3 cayenne peppers to make it crazy hot.  You can adjust this here to match the heat you want.  Mix and match peppers and experiment!

3 bell peppers

3 garlic cloves

2- 12 ounce cans of tomato paste

1/2 cup of white vinegar

1 1/2 TBL salt

1 TBL cayenne pepper

1 1/2 Teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup if you don’t want it as sweet…if unsure try 1/4 cup, taste, and add more to taste)

1/2 cup white sugar  (or 1/4 cup if you don’t want it as sweet)

8 pint canning jars (I was able to save a little left over to have fresh with dinner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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