The Willard HomesteadThe Homestead, the Emporium and simple living on our funny farm.

  • Strength, to have or not to have…

    It’s Friday March 1st 2013.

    On Monday, the home we are renting, in which we had hoped would be our final home, will be back up for sale.

    Over the past week since receiving the news, I’ve been fighting a battle within myself. I’m going to be brutally honest, and bare my soul for the ‘world’ to see and hope that none of you hold my thoughts against me.

    This was really difficult news. As those of you who have been readers of my blog, my friends, and my family know, after Graydon and I lived thousands of miles apart while he worked here, and our five kids and I stayed in BC trying to sell our home there. After way too many months apart, the kids and I finally made the move out here too. That was last April. We arrived in Saskatchewan April 17 2012.

    We had such high hopes that we were well on our way to being FINALLY home.

    Well I won’t go into all the details since then but it would seem even after two moves, we are STILL no closer to being FINALLY home then we were last April 17th. Here we are, once again, almost a year later in a home that’s for sale and no idea of what our future holds.

    I told Graydon last night (this is the brutal honesty part…don’t hate me) that the thought of living through house showings, in a rental home, has hit me so hard that I feel like throwing up, running away from home, smoking a thousand cigarettes (no, I don’t smoke, but did for years) and maybe even getting drunk just for the heck of it. Just to try and escape the distraught, and anger, and even the fear, that I feel right now over the uncertainty of our future.

    However… thankfully, I try real hard not to listen to the anxious thoughts that flit through my head.

    Instead, I texted a good friend who I knew would understand and she said she would be praying for me. I knew Graydon would be praying for me. I knew our church family has been praying very hard for our family.

    And I fought tears.

    I fought tears for hours as I ate dinner with my family, as I worked, as I packaged orders, edited product photos, and replied to emails. As I spent some time with the kids before bed, and as I said goodnight to each one.

    And I finally let those tears flow as I tried to go to sleep in the half empty bed while Graydon was working his 12 hour night shift.

    Life doesn’t stop because I’m having a bad day. Or even a bad year it seems.

    And with that thought, I can’t even rightly call it a bad year.

    Yes, life has been very uncertain, but bad? No. We’ve grown, we’ve lived, we’ve loved, and we’ve all matured.

    Our hearts are tender, and feeling a little bruised at the moment, but I know we are stronger too.

    The other day I read about Ann Voskamp who witnessed her little sister’s death as a toddler, and how she struggled all her growing up years to find joy.

    I seek joy. I believe we WILL find what we seek in life. If we seek negativity or anger, we’ll find that too. So I strive to seek joy, and peace.

    I seek scriptures to find my peace.

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    Isaiah 41:10 has been a favorite scripture of mine since I was married to a man who was an alcoholic, but then became a new man. A new husband. My living, breathing, daily example of what God can do within us when we allow Him to, when we ask Him to.

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    To help me find my peace, and my joy, I decided to take Ann Voskamp’s advice and write out a 1000 things to be thankful for, right now, in my life.

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    It’s going to take me a while to get to 1000, but it’s a start.

    I’m thankful others like Ann Voskamp are willing to share about their hard times so I can cling to their stories during our hard times.

    This is why I share my story too. In hopes it may help someone, somewhere, some how. In the mean time, sharing helps me.

  • A post totally not suited for Feb. 14th

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    I let Scout, our German Shepard, in a minute ago and as usual, when she strolled past me she gave my dangling hand a big, wet, slobbery lick. She enjoys giving kisses. Don’t bend over to tie up your shoes with her around, she’ll lick your head, or if she can find a way, better yet, she will lick your face!

    Big dogs have big tongues!
    With so much talk of kisses, maybe this post is suitable for Valentine’s Day after all?

    That’s not what her slobbery kiss reminded me of this morning though.

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    It reminded me of an article I read recently disputing feeding dogs raw.
    In the article it mentioned how unsanitary and unsafe it is for a dog to eat raw, then lick their humans. I didn’t think much about that. We’ve been feeding raw for 14 years now, and not a single one of us 7 have gotten sick from a dog kiss. We have 6 dogs now. All of which have spent most of their winter days and nights in the house due to the prairie cold. We can’t really avoid slobbery kisses around here!

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    But as Scout came in this morning, after spending an hour or so outside busily chewing away on fresh buffalo bones, and then came in and gave me that big wet kiss on the hand… I remembered that article and it suddenly dawned on me how silly that argument had been.

    Does the author have dogs?
    If so… do they know how their dogs stay clean? Especially in… certain…’regions’ of their bodies?

    Last I heard, fecal matter isn’t so sanitary. lol

    But who could resist kisses from the overflow of cuteness around here!

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  • On the homestead today.

    I don’t like to use iphone photos all that often for blog posts, but it seems lately I just don’t get to the pc all that often and when I do, it’s for work! So it’s either share iphone photos, or none at all, and then I miss blogging.

    So here you go, a blog post about today with just iphone photos. *gasp*
    I think I may live through this, hopefully you will too.

    I always see a lot of “I hate Monday’s” on my fb feed, but personally, I like Monday’s. It’s like a mini-me of a new year, only it’s a new week! Every Monday we have a chance to do even more, and be even better, then the week before. Yay! A new beginning, every 7 days. In reality, every day is a new beginning, even more reason to celebrate Mondays!

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    I was in the mood to be productive while we did school today. Since the girls are older, once we get our innitial read-alouds done and recap what we’re learning, a lot of their schooling is simply me guiding them, and them working on their lessons without much assistance from me. This is the main reason why no matter how big a house we live in, I always end up right back at the dinning table doing school! That way I can get things done in the kitchen, while still being nearby if they need my help.

    I started out by putting ingredients in the breadmaker for French Bread. I’ve never made it before and a good friend shared her recipe with me last week.

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    This is the view out our dinning-room window while we school.

    Next I put a pot on the stove to make some Elderberry Syrup!
    Over Christmas just about everyone around here got sick, however, I had been taking an elderberry lozenge every day and I never came down with anything. Anything elderberry is EXPENSIVE though, so I was thrilled when a local good friend of mine brought in dried elderberries for her new online shop! Delia’s Pantry!

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    The syrup turned out real nice! I used the recipe linked above.
    I finally have use for my old milk bottles. One day… I’ll have fresh milk in these things!

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    While that was simmering on the stove, I got dinner ready. Bean Slop.
    What a horrible name right?
    However, it’s a recipe I’ve been making for years since my eldest were just little and everyone loves it. We even took it to a potluck at church once and everyone said they loved our ‘chilli’. It’s not actually chilli, but we weren’t going to tell them it’s actually “Bean Slop”. lol

    Basically it’s a pound of bacon, two pounds of ground beef (ours is grass fed beef, nothing like it, hopefully this year the bacon will be home grown again too), 3 large cans of beans, some brown sugar, and some ketchup. Once the bacon and ground beef are cooked, I just throw it all together in the crock pot and let it simmer all day. I thought the French Bread would be great for dipping. It was!

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    While I cooked, Julia helped Elsa when needed. This youngest girl of mine has the patience of a saint.

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    Shaylah & Julia have been learning sign language, so they wanted me to snap a couple of photos of them talking to one another. A video would have been better. 😉

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    They love that they can talk to one another during school time, without speaking a word.

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    The last thing I made today was some more lemon honey. I can’t seem to find the original link I shared the first time I made this, and I don’t really follow a ‘recipe’ anymore. I just cut up lemons, and throw them in a glass jar with honey. I love this stuff. We finished off the last batch within a few months. I think I had made 4 jars. It’s so good just with hot water, forget the tea! Here’s a link similar to the one I originally used: http://thecuttingedgeofordinary.blogspot.ca/2009/10/lemon-honey-tea-base.html

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    Once school was finished and my hubby was up (he’s working 6pm to 6am this week) it was time to get ready for an early dinner before he had to go to work again. Then it was time to head back down to the sewing studio for some ‘real’ work!

    Oh, and to really top it off, right now my son is over at Delia’s place helping her husband with a buffalo they were given by a local farmer. It’s being used for their dogs, and they are sharing it with us. Just last Friday, I was grinding deer meat given to us by another, again for the dogs. These are all meats that would normally be ‘wasted’, yet we’re able to feed our dogs a top quality raw diet this way, virtually for free, even if it can be a lot of extra work at times. It’s so worth it.

    I’m beginning to feel like a ‘real’ homesteader lately.
    Maybe I should sew us up some bonnets for all us girls before spring! Some gingham dresses too, and maybe some petticoats…

  • “we’re livin’ the story”

    How come you don’t tell stories anymore?
    Well, because we’re livin’ the story.

  • Living the glamorous life!

    This Jan. 1st I shared on Facebook that I was going to start walking, outside, every day! I asked if anyone would like to join me. Some did, hopefully more still will!

    So far we’ve walked outside for 30 mins every day.

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    First day we walked the field, next day to the lake down the road and hubby joined us.

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    Yesterday we started down the road towards the lake and soon turned around to the shelter of our treed yard. It was WINDY!

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    Today however, we opted out of a walk in favour of something more glamorous.

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    We scooped ‘poopsicles’ instead. I think the hour and a half of poopsicle scooping we did was probably the equivalent to a few hours of walking! Phew!

    Farm kids work hard, and no, it’s actually not glamorous, but it comes with benefits of extra fun!

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    Lots of extra fun!

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    And when we were all done, the horses were thankful.

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    And we went in for some well deserved hot chocolate!

  • Small Business Big Wishes

    My wish for HomesteadEmporium.com is to grow!

    We are a family business run by myself, Pieternella (Peggy) with each of our 7 family members helping wherever possible!

  • MeLuna.ca give away!

    Contest Closed!

    And the winner’s are…

    Julie M.!! AND Tannis W!!

    Congratulations to you both! Please email me at homesteademporium@gmail.com with your address, your choice of size, and style, and I will send the information off to MeLuna.ca so they can ship your prizes to you!

    _________________________________________________________________________

    meluna

    MeLuna.ca has generously offered to give away TWO MeLuna cups, to TWO winners, along with sterilization cups! I didn’t even know they HAD sterilization cups!

    They will even pay the shipping!

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    MeLuna.ca is giving away:
    1 MeLuna Classic Blue, (with choice of style and size) and an Orange Collapsible Sterilization Cup
    AND…
    1 MeLuna Soft Silver-Glittery, (with choice of style and size) and a Blue Collapsible Sterilization Cup
     meluna2
    MeLuna.ca will also cover the shipping to the winners! Isn’t that fantastic?!Information from MeLuna.ca:
    The Meluna Classic Cup, is made from the Classic TPU material and is
    slightly stiffer then most silicone cups, making it easier to pop open
    once in place, and less likely to leak. It’s smooth design, and
    comfort choices allow you to get the best fit. Available in Volume
    Optimized Sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large. With 4
    different styles, you can choose between the traditional stem, ball or
    ring or if you are a more advanced user, the basic might be just
    perfect for you. Every cup comes with a Micro Fiber bag, and detailed
    instructions.The Meluna Soft Pink Cup, is made from the 25% softer TPU material and
    is as soft as the softer silicone cups, making it even more
    comfortable and easy to removed. It’s smooth design, and comfort
    choices allow you to get the best fit. Available in Volume Optimized
    Sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large. With 4 different styles,
    you can choose between the traditional stem, ball or ring or if you
    are a more advanced user, the basic might be just perfect for you.
    Every cup comes with a Micro Fiber bag, and detailed instructions.
    Closable, space-saving sterilization cup for your MeLuna or other
    menstrual cup of any size.
    Made from food safe, microwavable silicone.
    Dimensions folded: Diameter 80 mm / Height 20 mm
    Dimensions unfolded: Diameter top 80 mm / Diameter bottom 50 mm / Height 80 mm
    Volume: 225 ml.
    Entering for your chance to win is simple!
    First, be sure to ‘like’ MeLuna.ca’s facebook page here:
    Then come back and leave a comment here, letting me know that you ‘like’ MeLuna.ca’s facebook page!
    For a second entry, be sure you’re on OUR facebook page here:
    https://www.facebook.com/HomesteadEmporiumThen come back and let me know in a comment that you ‘like’ Homestead Emporium on facebook too!
    Would you like additional entries? Feel free to leave comments for any of the following additional ‘entries’ below! Be sure to leave a comment for each thing that you do to gain yourself extra chances to win!
    Check out our hyenacart shop and leave a comment with a link showing us you’d love for yourself, or someone else, from our shop! http://hyenacart.com/stores/HomesteadEmporium/
    Subscribe to our blog using the ‘SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG’ just under the header on the right hand side of this page here: http://homesteademporium.wordpress.com/Follow us on twitter here: https://twitter.com/HomesteadMama
    Two winners will be chosen next week via random.org
    The winners will be announced back here on our blog on this very post!
  • Ice Balloons? Ever tried it?

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    Last spring or summer I had seen this idea shared on Facebook and couldn’t wait to have cold weather so we could try it!

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    It’s simply balloons filled with water, and food coloring. We put them outside to freeze and hopefully before tonight’s birthday party we can peel the balloons off. They should look something like pretty ice marbles!

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    I’ll share ‘after’ photos later! Hopefully it works!

  • Elsa & Serafina

    Life is lessons, one after another, some good, some bad. We take each one as it comes, the best way we know how.

  • How to turn 1 chicken into 3 meals for your large family, plus 2 lunches for your hubby.

    This is a quick and ‘dirty’ post!
    I say quick & ‘dirty’ because I’m posting it from my phone, and using phone photos. Probably a big ‘no-no’ among real food bloggers but I’m not a ‘real’ food blogger!

    Too often I don’t share tips, tricks, or daily goings on at the homestead because I just don’t always have time to snap great photos, edit, upload, and write a big long post! So I’m going to start doing more ‘quick & dirty’ posts from now on!

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    Every Tuesday my four girls have Taekwondo. It’s right around our usual dinner time! I like them to eat a little dinner before they go, but not a full meal or they will get cramps. Then by the time they get home at 7:20, they need a real meal so… I decided that Tuesdays would be Homemade Soup Tuesdays. This way they can have half a bowl before they go, and a full meal of soup with some bread, biscuits, or buns when they get home! Works great!

    Right now we have an abundance of whole chickens in our freezer, often I’ll start with one of those. Today I realized that, like me when I first began making soups, maybe others don’t know what to do with a whole chicken! So I snapped some photos along the way because this way, is SUPER easy! And super frugal!

    However, you do need to be ok with handling cooked chicken. With your bare hands.

    First I start out in the am by simply putting a whole frozen chicken into a BIG pot of water, enough water to cover the chicken. Some might put spices in now but I give the scraps to our dogs & cats, so I hold off on adding anything. Nothing goes to waste this way!

    I bring it to a boil and cook it hard for a while, about 30 mins or so. Then turn it down to medium heat for about another 1.5 hours or so, leaving the lid on. I’m aiming for a real good broth out of the chicken.
    (You can also transfer it to the crockpot if you don’t want to leave it on the stove top.)

    Once the chicken is well cooked and I’ve got a flavorful water left, I pull the whole chicken out of the pot of water, being careful not to let it break into a million bone-y bits!

    I set the chicken aside on a platter to cool down.

    Then I start to turn my water/soup base that’s left in the pot, into a real soup.

    Today I added a large can of diced tomatoes, some baby carrots, left over peas from last nights dinner, chopped celery, onion, and spices such as poultry spices and anything else that sounds good. I also added a cup of barley. Last week I added noodles. Next time I’ll add wild rice.

    If I feel there’s not enough flavor, I also add a little chicken soup stock. Since I make such a huge pot of soup, the flavor from one chicken doesn’t always seem to be enough otherwise.

    This is my soup before adding the chicken meat.

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    I turn my pot on medium-medium high and bring it back to a boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes and then I turn it down to low.

    It’s time to get my hands dirty and tear apart the whole chicken! Yes, I use my hands. It’s the fastest and best way to get the job done well.

    First I remove all the skin and set it aside for our dogs & cats. Boiled chicken skin is slimy and gross. You get get over it after a few times.

    Then I remove obvious bones.

    Next, I pull off the nice white meat, the chicken breasts ect. and set them on one dish for another meal.

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    Then I separate the garbage meat, from the meat suitable for my soup. Anything slimy, an unappetizing color, or just not pleasant looking goes onto the scrap dish.

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    Yuck to me, but a special treat for the pets!

    This next plate full is what will go into the soup.

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    Some of the dark meat on top is close to being for the pets, but it just made the grade.

    All I have left now is the empty carcass!

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    My two helpers get to clean up the juices and bits left on the plate!
    (Never the chicken bones though, raw chicken bones yes, cooked chicken bones NO.)

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    And the good stuff goes into the pot for two meals worth of soup for the whole family, and one lunch for hubby to take to work. Sometimes some of the kids will have it for their lunch too.

    The white meat I set had aside earlier is then divided up, some for another meal, and some for two chicken sandwiches for hubby’s lunch!

    For the full family meal, one of us will either make chicken quesidilla, chicken wraps, chicken sandwiches, or any other chicken dish we can come up with! One of the kids will usually make the next meal from the left overs, since it’s so easy now that the meat for that meal has already been cooked!

    And that’s how I turn one small whole chicken into 3 full family meals and at least a couple of lunches for this family of seven!

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    I know this post isn’t pretty, but hopefully it’s practical for anyone just learning how to make the most out of a chicken!