Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fresh Rhubarb!

Fresh Rhubarb!  There's just something exciting about having rhubarb freshly cut and bagged up in the freezer.  I freeze it in 2 cup measures because that's what my rhubarb coffee cake calls for.  All winter long, my family gets fresh rhubarb coffee cake for breakfast.  I also noticed that as soon as I can get some fresh strawberries this spring, the strawberry rhubarb jam recipe calls for 2 cups of rhubarb, too.  Rhubarb is my favorite spring harvest from the garden.  What is yours?
Oh, I wanted to share my Rhubarb Coffee Cake Recipe.  It is from my favorite farm Old Oak Family Farm in Wisconsin.  You can look up recipes from any of the fruits and veggies that the grow there on their farm!  I love them all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Laundry Soap Recipes

For years, I made my own liquid laundry detergent every couple of months.  That being said, I always put of making the detergent until I absolutely had to, because it was messy and needed my undivided attention to make (something I don't have much of).  Overall, I loved this laundry soap, but really wanted an easier one to make. 

Then I ran across a recipe for dry laundry soap that could also be used in HE Washers.  This recipe is so fast and easy, it's unbelievable!  The other part I like about this recipe is that it includes OxyClean, which I find really cleans my clothes better than find the pool supplies.  Here is where you can get my number #1 laundry recipe:  Laundry Detergent Recipe.  I've copied and pasted the Liquid Recipe I used below for your reference.

Here is my recipe for that detergent that I first posted on my first blog,

One of the things that has saved me a ton of money over the last year or two is making my own laundry detergent.  Now we live in a small town and had a difficult time finding the ingredients in the first place (I just don't have the patience to order this stuff online) so after some research, we were able to find some good substitutes for the ingredients we couldn't find.  I used the Duggar Family recipe (The link is no longer available.)  I wanted a liquid detergent and one that worked in a front loading machine.  I have used this in both a top loading and front loading machine. The ingredients needed for this are:

5-gallon bucket with lid
Cutting board
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda*
1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap**
1/2 cup Borax

*Washing soda is Sodium Carbonate and we found a 97% Sodium Carbonate in the pool aisle of Wal-mart.  The product is by hth Spa and is called pH increaser.  I've even seen this go on clearance, so it seems readily available (more so than the A&H Washing Soda.) 
**Ok - this bar, I haven't been able to find on the shelves, but had read in other recipes that you can use Ivory bars instead, so that's what I tried the first time.  I can't stand the smell of the Ivory, so tried the Dove bar and love the smell.  In this recipe today, I used the Cucumber scented & really loved it!
First I sliced up the bar of soap.  The recipe calls for grating, but slicing chunks it up into small pieces just fine.  I have found that because I am just cutting up a mild hand soap, and wash all the utensils in the dish washer, that it is fine for my food prep items.  You may want to use these kitchen tools only for soap making if it bothers you.  The kettle, I reserve only for laundry soap, because I wasn't sure about the rest of the ingredients being cooked on it.
Then you add all the ingredients, plus 4 cups of water to the kettle and cook it on medium heat until all the particles are melted and the liquid is smooth.  This gets poured into the 5-gallon bucket.  Then, the fun part - you fill the rest of the bucket with warm tap water and mix it!  Leaving this overnight will solidify the liquid, so it has the same consistency as store purchased detergent!
To use the detergent, you take old laundry containers and fill them half way with the homemade detergent and half water.  Mix it well before each use. 

I have figured out that because this batch actually makes 10 gallons of detergent, it costs me about $3 to make all of it!  I haven't counted how many loads it makes for me, but I only make this two times a year.  We have six in our family and do around 10-12 loads a week!  I suppose that if you multiply 10 load X 4 weeks a month X 6 months you would get about 240 loads! I find this to be such a great value and only takes about an hour of my time to make!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Study of the United States: New Jersey

Our unit study on the United States continues. We studied the 2nd state, Pennsylvania as a review 2 weeks ago, but didn't do any of the recipes. We studied it last fall and made pretzels, so we skipped that part of it this time around.

This week we are working on New Jersey.  Last night for dinner we had Italian Submarine Sandwiches.  These are also known as hoagies in Pennsylvania.

Instead of making our own version of sandwiches, I followed the recipe, onions and all. Since a couple of people in my family don't like onions I knew it was taking a chance, but all but one ate it so I think we faired well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nature Provides

Although, these raspberries aren't really found "wild" in nature, at least not here, I do love it when you find unexpected bounty in the wild or at home.  We are moving to a new place in the woods and the garden is very overgrown.  I got totally distracted with the kids yesterday when we spotted these in the weeds! 

Sometimes though, when you are finding food in nature, you have to have the ability to drop everything and focus on picking when you find it ripe!  These were so close to being overripe that it couldn't wait for one more day.  So, instead of packing or house, the kids and I spent a couple of hours picking these beauties and then freezing them (because I don't have time to can right now).

Two days ago, we spend a couple of hours of picking illusive huckleberries!  This is truly a  test of your patience, though, because you can walk through most plants and find nothing and then, Bingo!  tons!  The unique character of  huckleberries makes for a long time to pick enough to fill a bucket.  We got enough to freeze a cup and a half and treated ourselves to a round of huckleberry shakes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Study of the United States: Deleware

I have been offline for quite some time because my laptop has crashed and my internet connection is spotty at best.  So rather than go through the frustration of getting shut down all the time, I've been avoiding.  Sorry, about that, but I'm going to give it a try on a new laptop.  Besides that, we have a very exciting unit study that we are working on right now.
We are working on a unit study of all the states in the United States, one-by-one. I've gathered books and information from all over and then to add to that, I've been on Facebook asking people from different states to send a postcard to my kids.   I got a blank template to use for each state.  I just copied 50 for each of my kids.
I got a lot of ideas off of several websites.  The main place I got ideas from were from the 50 States Notebook Website.And then just gathered what I wanted to use. We will use this same template for every state. We are doing the states in order of joining the Union, so this week, we started with Delaware. 
I start by reading three different books that have anywhere from a short paragraph about the states to four pages.  Then the kids fill out their sheets with the state bird, state flower, state Motto or nickname, state tree, and any other state feature.  They draw the state outline and put the state capital in place, as well as other major cities.  I have printed off all of the state flags (from a flag online catalog), so they can cut out the flag and glue it on.  They will add any postcards they receive from the state in the following pages, as well as the recipe that we make behind that. 
Here are the three books that I am using:

Each week, I'll do a search at the library for extra things I can add. 

This week for extra activities to reinforce the States Notebook that we are making, we made Knox Blox Jello, since Deleware is the Jello state.  Jello was made first in Deleware.  We decided on making it blue, since the Blue Hen Chicken is the state bird.  The recipe for the Jello that I used is:
  • 2 large boxes blue Jello
  • 4 packets Clear Knox Gelatin
  • 4 Cups boiling water
Mix the Jello and Gelatin into the boiling water until dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 pan and refrigerate.  It was hardened in 2 hours for us.  Then cut out the shape of Delaware in the Jello.  I removed everything but Delaware and let the kids use marshmallows to mark the capital and other major cities on it.  You can use sugar free Jello, too if you like, but I love regular better!
The other activity that we did was make Gingerbread Cake, which we got from the United States Cookbook.  This was much better than Gingerbread Cookies in my opinion.  I left out the crystallized ginger.
We can't wait to get our postcard to add to the collection for Delaware. Oh, and yes, we are still homeschooling over the summer.  It's not as often as in the winter, but my kids are so excited that we are doing the states, that they don't mind doing the rest to get there!  Oh, and best yet, I spent $10 for copies (at a very high rate, locally) and the books all came from the library, so this is really low cost for homeschooling! What do you think?  What have you done to learn the United States with your kids?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Cards

We have been busy making more cards.  Our last set we sold at the library to raise funds for my daughter's 4-H trip to Japan.  It's starting to feel like everything we are doing is fundraising for her trip, but what an opportunity.  Most of the cards have a watercolor technique.  I've been meaning to try this on my own (I go to a card class where we do it often), but I've never gotten around to it.  I think they turned out great!

The final cards with the moose, is done with masking tape.  I really love how they turned out.
What do you think? Do you make your own cards?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

McAllister Hike - A Family Affair

One of the great things about living on the Prairie, is that we also are very close to the rivers and the mountains. We often forget to take advantage of the great outdoors in our busy lives.  It's important to us to remember why we moved here, and that is to enjoy the great outdoors and the beauty that mountains provide.

We hit the 50's yesterday, so we decided to take on one of the local hiking trails. We too a hike on McAllister Trail just off the Southfork River. 

We loaded each of the kids with their own snack bag, as well as an emergency kit.  We've had a lot to learn about hiking in the great outdoors here.  You can easily find yourself in a dangerous situation, so it is important to bring emergency supplies with, just in case.  One of our first hikes, we put it all in one backpack, but then found that person was exhausted by the end.  Now we have learned, and each person takes their own drink and snacks, and then a little extra supplies for emergencies.  This way, no one person is over exhausted.
This trail had a lot of switchbacks, so we would see the kids going back and forth up the mountain.
It is such a reward to make it up to the top!  To see the view of the mountain ranges on all sides!
This flat field at the top looked like is it well-liked by the elk.  The kids and Mr. Right are plotting and planning their hunting season around this spot.  I think they might need to keep practicing their hiking, so that they can make this trip with their equipment and with meat on the way down!  Overall, this trip was just about 2 miles both ways and up about 900 feet in elevation.  What a beautiful day to enjoy family! 

What sort of things do you do with your family?