• DIY Vanilla Extract & Vanilla Cane Sugar

    Can you guess what I’m making today?


    Homemade vanilla extract!
    I’ve been wanting to make it for quite some time, years actually, and today is finally the day!
    I’m hoping some of my beans are not too old. It took us forever to finally get to a liquor store and buy some booze. lol It’s quite ironic actually. In our first years of marriage we probably spent as much funds at the liquor store each week as we did at the grocery store!

    But that was a life time ago…


    We contemplated whether I should use vodka, or rum, for the vanilla extract. Hubby figured rum would be a better flavour in the long run, and I tended to agree, so we went with that. It was pretty much the same price as the vodka and for whatever reason, vodka didn’t seem appealing to either of us.

    Making homemade vanilla is really quite easy. I simply googled and found LOTS of recipes which all said basically the same thing.


    Take some vanilla beans, aproximately 3-4 beans per cup of alchohol.

    Slice them down the middle, leaving about the top inch of bean intact.

    Place the beans in a container.
    I was planning on just putting them straight into the rum bottle but was a little short on the beans for so much rum. Instead, I used these starbucks iced coffee bottles. I personally don’t like starbucks, but my eldest, Alesia, loves these coffees and when she treats herself to a coffee, she brings me the bottles. They are my go to bottle for my DIY Elderberry Syrup too!


    Once the beans are in the bottle, simply add the alcohol of your choice.
    I’ve read that vodka, rum, and even bourbon are good. One site said you can actually use any alcohol. Most sites said 80 proof was best to ensure that your vanilla wouldn’t go bad. So we used 80 proof.

    Now all I have to do is leave the vanilla extract for a month or two, shaking it about once a week, until I deem it ready! Not sure how long that will take exactly, as this is my first time. I’ll share a photo and info as I go through the process.


    With the two vanilla beans I had left, I chopped them up really fine to make myself some vanilla sugar!

    I used my favourite cane sugar (favourite because of taste, and cost, I buy it at well.ca when it comes on sale for 25% off).

    I put the sugar and the two chopped up beans into a glass jar and I’ll leave them in the cupboard along with the vanilla extract for the next month or so, until I feel it’s ready.


    If I find the vanilla isn’t really infusing the sugar, I may consider throwing the jar of sugar and vanilla bean into my food processor to turn it into a ‘powder’ to see if that will help infuse it better.

    For now, I’m just playing around with what I’ve got, and having fun in my kitchen!

    How about you? Have you made vanilla extract or vanilla sugar?
    If not, are you planning to?

    Let me know if you’d like me to share more blog posts like this one. I love to hear from you!

  • Winter hardship on the Homestead

    I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, A goal I have for the new year, is to blog more. Even if it’s just a recipe I’m working on that day, photos from around the homestead, whatever we’re up to at the moment. I want to do better at keeping up here on our blog. We even have our very own blog domain now! So I had better put it to better use!

    I also really enjoy writing, and I really enjoy sharing, so I really should be blogging more. 😉

    We’ve been busy around the homestead with Christmas, and everything leading up to it. Three of our girls were involved in the church Christmas play. Alesia (dd 22 yrs) wrote the play and the twins (now 14) acted in it. We finished up our homeschooling the week before Christmas to leave time for baking, tree decorating, and cleaning. Plus we celebrated the twins birthday on Dec. 8th. They are FOURTEEN now. How’s that even possible. My babies are FOURTEEN.

    After more than 7 months, our home is finally beginning to look unpacked. We still have work to do in the family room & our book nook, but yesterday I finished up our tiny master bedroom. It is officially BOX FREE! Although we’ve lived here since last spring, we spent so much of our first months here on the homestead working outside getting things ready for animals, gardening, and harvesting that bounty, that the inside of the house has been a little neglected. Most walls are still void of our pictures and photo’s! It’s kind of ironic since those photos and pictures were up rather quick in the last two homes, only to be taken down and packed back up again within months,

    As I wrote this Sunday, I was sitting with my feet up on the fireplace hearth while warming my bones. We intended to go to church that morning but as we were about to go and the kids were finishing up their chores, Elsa came in from the chicken coop and let us know that our beloved Banty cross rooster Charlie had died. Our temps have been bitterly cold and I guess it was too much for him. Instead of church, we spent our morning adding extra insulation to the chicken coop. We made their coop smaller with square hay bales for extra insulation and sheets of plywood with insulation on top, so that they are confined to a smaller, and lower space, that the heat lamps should be able to keep up with better. Loosing animals on the homestead is the one part of homesteading I do not enjoy. Our hope is to build a whole new coop in the future but for now, our added hay bales should do the trick for the rest of this winter. I sure hope so!

    Before I finished writing this, we lost our eldest hen. She wasn’t doing well that morning either, but we hoped she’d make it. She was almost 4 years old and a rare colour. We had hoped to have chicks from her and Charlie next spring. We knew we may be pushing it with her age but were still hoping for the best. Loosing animals is a hard reality of homesteading. The more animals you have, the more animals you loose over time. It’s just the way things go.

    On a brighter note, while warming up by the fire I spent a few minutes reading up a bit in my new book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living.


    Such a great wealth of information in one big book! I’ve been waiting an awful long time to purchase this book. Now I really don’t know why I waited so long! If you are interested in learning any of the things mentioned in the above cover photo, your money will be well spent! Don’t hold off like I did. I really wish I hadn’t!

  • Lies our children believe.

    I spent part of my morning fighting a battle.

    A battle that I’m unfortunately, not new to. Neither are you.
    A battle for the minds and hearts of our children, a battle we often have to fight for ourselves too.

  • My child is worth more than my pride.

    I’ve had a huge revelation today, thanks to Alesia, my eldest (22 years old) child. I know, she’s rolling her eyes at me now… stating she’s not a child. I know at 22 she’s an adult but she’ll still ALWAYS be MY child. 😉

    But, back to my revelation.
    It can be painful to admit how much I learn from my children. They truly cause me to grow, continuously.

    In my opinion, it’s life’s greatest blessing, and also life’s hardest pill to swallow.

    Alesia and I were discussing a past argument/disagreement between Elsa (my Aspie girl, who can frustrate the dickens out of me!) and myself. Through the course of our conversation, she mentioned a past argument her and I had, a number of years ago, when she had gotten into BIG trouble.

    When I had found out about something, I was MAD. I honestly don’t even remember the full specifics of the ‘what’ or ‘why’ I was so mad, but she reminded me of my reaction, of my anger. She also reminded me, not in a judging way, but simply factually, that it had not been the correct way to deal with her. That yes, she had done wrong and deserved to be reprimanded, but it still wasn’t right to get so angry.

    I chuckled a little, and responded with something like, “Oh you just wait and see when you have a teen! Then you’ll understand!”

    And you know what?

    It’s true. One day my daughter will most likely have a teenager, and that teen will give her some trouble. And quite possibly, my daughter will become angry with my future grandchild and they will go through what her and I went through.

    Or… maybe not? Maybe the future could be different for my grandchild?

    I pondered on my daughters words off and on all day today.

    When she came home from work she started getting ready for her evening out. When I noticed she wasn’t quite so busy, I asked her to come talk with me when she had a few moments. That I wanted to speak with her before anyone else got home.

    I had spent my day swallowing my pride, bit by bite, and now it was time to share my revelation with her.

    I let her know I had been thinking about what she had said. I told her that she was right. That my anger in the past, was wrong. That it didn’t matter what she had done, it was up to me to be sure I let her know that SHE is worth MUCH MORE than my pride, and I wanted her to know I was wrong. She was right.

    I told her that I want her to truly understand, that her father and I feel our relationships with our children are worth admitting when we are wrong. That our child/parent relationships come first. Our children come first.

    Of course, if I had been a better living example to my children all along, shown them that they ALWAYS come before my pride, through my daily life, I would have never needed to have this conversation with her.

    But, I’m not always a good living example. I fail. I have issues with pride, stubbornness, shame, and a whole long list of past hurts that have built up one wall after another, and another, and another.

    But over the years, I’ve learned that walls don’t just keep out hurts. Walls keep out fullness of joy too.

    The look on my daughters face when I told her I was sorry, and I hugged her and told her I love her…

    That look, was instant joy to my heart.

    And I realized my that daughter, my relationship with her in these few short moments we have left under the same roof between the busyness of our days, really is worth so very much more than my pride.

    *Alesia, and her wonderful man, Johnny. 🙂
    I’m so very proud of these two!

  • Brewing Kombucha

    Kombucha brewing day here on the homestead.


    The top jar is two brand new baby scoby’s for a local friend.

    I started with one large scoby from Delia at Delia’s Pantry. Now I’m up to eight definite scoby’s. Enough to brew for my family and more!


    Biggest brew yet. Six jars for us. Should make for 12 litres finished kombucha with enough left over for the new batches next week.


    I bought a big jar of pickles from Costco this week, because I prefer the bigger jars over the 2 quart size.
    First we need to eat the pickles though! lol

    The large jar shown in the photo is actually my cookie jar!


    Although I love glass, to keep things simple for my family, that includes four teens, I use plastic 2 litre drink bottles for my second ferment and for storage in the fridge.

    I’m the only one that handles the first ferment, so glass is fine. A couple of our children are quite ‘klutzy’ though, so for their benefit and ease of mind, I use plastic after I’m done with the first ferment.


    If you’re interested in learning about kombucha and it’s health benefits, google will be your best friend. It’s easy to find ways to make your own!

    Don’t be scared to give it a try!

  • Duck Dynasty, Skeletons in their closet.

    For my fellow Duck Dynasty fans. As always, they are keeping it real. This is the story of the skeletons in their closet.

    Our family loves the Robertson’s, because although they are rednecks in the USA, and my husband and I are in Canada and come from very different backgrounds, our tale, our history, is still very similar.

    One day we will share our story, our skeletons, but that time has not come yet. For now, I’ll share the Robertson’s story, because they share it so much better than we could ever share ours:

    Five skeletons in the Robertson’s family closet, through three generations.

    Well worth the time it takes to watch, to the end. Best video I’ve seen in a long while.



  • Winter on the Homestead


    Winter on the homestead.

    I know not everyone loves the thought of freezing temps, ice cold winds, frozen water buckets, and putting on so much winter gear that it takes you longer to ‘suit up’ than the actual work of doing chores…

    But there’s just some things I absolutely love about winter on the prairies.

    The peaceful daily rhythm is such a contrast to the absolute busyness that is late spring, summer, and harvest on the homestead.


    Sitting by the fire on slow days after school is complete and there’s no gardening to be done.


    Even shovelling snow. It’s a chore I actually really enjoy. I’m not fond of ‘useless’ exercise, and I’m often too busy to exercise just for the sake of exercise. Snow shovelling has a purpose, and it’s a great workout! Bonus!

    To really enjoy winter to its fullest here on the prairies, my hope is to one day afford some snow shoes. I remember using snow shoes in elementary school once or twice years and years ago in Alberta. It was great fun! Cross country skies are another goal one day… Another fun winter sport that would be awesome here on the prairies!

    In the mean time, I’ll continue to enjoy my time by the cozy fire and perhaps I’ll break out the knitting bag again soon. Or join Shaylah in some wool needle felting.

  • DIY Elderberry Syrup

    I’ve mentioned a few times recently on the Homestead Emporium Facebook page that
    we’ve been making, and taking, Elderberry Syrup and many have asked
    how to make it, so I thought I’d share again on the blog, just how simple
    it is!

  • Tea & your health.


    Like many others, I enjoy learning about healthy options. One of my latest learning adventures has brought me to herbs & berries etc. that I never thought of before. First, I learned about Elderberries, and Elderberry Syrup. I had bought elderberry lozenges when I found them on sale and put them to the test over Christmas. Everyone around me had gotten the flu, but I didn’t. I can’t say for certain it was the lozenges, but I figured it was worth the effort to learn more.
    Through a friend, Delia of Delia’s Pantry, I learned how to make my own elderberry syrup and we now take it often! It’s so easy! I’ll share how on a blog post again very soon. 20130309-130730.jpg Then Delia brought in Stinging Nettle Leaf, and I wondered why? I learned one of its benefits is helping pms. No need to research any further, I was sold and asked Delia to add it to my next order! I also liked what I read about dandelion, and decided to order a little to try also. I’m not one to remember taking a lot of different things, but I’ve found one way to easily
    take all these new things I love. Every morning I make myself a pot of tea! 20130309-130438.jpg I made up a personal blend. I start with my favourite loose leaf tea, cranberry fresh from TeaDesire.com Then I add in some stinging nettle leaf, some dried dandelion root, and dried elderberries. 20130309-131927.jpg My teapot is one of my favorite thrift store scores! I had been looking for a heavy duty glass teapot for years! I steep my tea for quite some time, then add in honey & elderberry syrup, stir well and allow it to cool. Once cooled, I pour it into a very large drink bottle and sip cool healthy tea all day! 20130309-132717.jpg I have a VERY hard time getting enough liquids into me, I don’t get thirsty for water, I don’t feel store bought juice is healthy, and I’m too busy to get in much hot tea, so this method works perfectly for me! 20130309-132914.jpg How about you? What are some Ways you’ve learned to
    add healthy herbs etc. into your life?

    Homestead Emporium now sells
    our own special blend of tea in our shop! You can find it in sample
    size, and larger, here:

  • Saskatchewan, land of the living skies.

    Saskatchewan, land of the living skies.