Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Our northern roots are showing

It feels like hot cocoa weather, esp in the mornings... But finding 'real' hot cocoa is not the same down here... To us anyhow...

You see Nestle is what we are used to, or some version of it..  Powder you add hot water to.  All we see here is variations of the Nesquik, you use powder and hot milk.  Concidering milk cost almost $5 a gallon at most places, thats not a good option.  And we see the packets EVERYWHERE of the Butternut mix, but only in packets.   We like the big cans so we can measure into diff size cups. 

So I finally asked....  And my northern roots showed :-)

I seen the Nestle on CLEARance for $2.50 each.  We finally found some and its not going to be available???  Gah!!!!!!   And the store employee got a chuckle when I asked her what they concider 'real hot cocoa down here'. Hehe... She said the Butternut sells off the shelves and they have them everywhere in the stores.  She tried very hard not to roll her eyes :-) So we bought a few packets to try along with 4 canisters of the 'real stuff' you know, for the transition from northern to southern???

According to the kids, the packets taste the same, but the Nesquik is not good lol!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A bit about our journey

So here's a bit about why we're are here, where we used to be and where we expect it to take us!

Hubby and I were both born and raised in Michigan.  We grew up together, in church and have known each other our whole life (well his, since I am older than him :-)...

We dated, got married and started a family.  We have had our ups and downs but the biggest lesson we have learned is, without each other, we are not happy! 

Life isn't about STUFF, the fastest car, the biggest TV or even about what everyone ELSE thinks about your choices.  We've been there, done that and we still were not happy.  So our focus changed, it has become to 'build' our home around our little family: husband, wife and our 4 kids.  We want our family to be a whole, and not only on weekends!

In April 2014 we came to a cross roads.  We hit a dead end!  Life couldn't be the same ever again.  The future with staying looked dim and the future of moving looked scary.

A very definite change had to be made because the Lane we were in WAS ending!  We decided with much prayer, that for our family to be completely whole, we needed to sell, store, toss or pack everything we owned.  From a 1 acre lot with rabbits, chickens, gardens, canning supplies, sewing business, tool shed etc.etc.......  into a 27' travel trailer, 6x8 storage trailer, 2 trucks and a tent. our perspective on life had to change, our view of necessity was not the same.  Our goals in life became clear.  The process of change was in full swing.

It wasn't an easy choice.  We lived in a small tight knit community.  We were involved in what was going on.  We had planned to raise our kids up in that town.  The locals became as close as family and even relatives were moving to town too.  But it wasn't what we needed, it wasn't enough to make my 'home' whole anymore.  We needed to be together and hubby needed a job that didn't require him to be gone away for days, or even weeks and than still barely make it.  I remember very clearly, on Mothers Day weekend, we talked to the kids.  Would you rather stay here with friends and family, carry on as is, always broke, hubby always gone.... OR move across the country so he could be home and have more job options.  The kids with out hesitation said, 'We want Pa home'!!!  And the decision was made to persue the idea.  We started with telling our closest friends and family first, and moved out in our 'circle'. Planned moving sales, and our last summer in MI.  Sept seemed so far away when we made the definate choice in early May... But soon it was here and time to go.  Now we have been in TX for 9 weeks.  Time flies but it has been exactly what we needed.  I dont know what the furture holds but I know, this is where we belong right now!

Here are some before and after pictures of our 'home'.  We didn't go buy the most expensive trailer and truck, we actually sold what extra stuff we had and spent less to move on what a new one would cost.  We made it 'home' and love it!

We have plans to upgrade but only after a lot of research, savings, and time..  

Sometimes while we are driving, I look at all the manicured lawns, huge houses and yards and wonder if I miss any of it (our yard was very lived in, not manicured lol) and than I remember how long it took me to clean my house now and than.  I vaccumed my trailer while waiting for the water to boil for dishes... My kids did their 'chores' and than went to explore...

Nah, I'm good with small.   Less is more

Friday, October 31, 2014

Scones, Gluten-free

I love converting recipes, especially easy ones!!  So, since I am Gluten-Free, here is one of them...

I used a favorite scone recipe off of the Pampered Chef website.... Added chocolate chips, and used GF Flour and oats

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 c of flour, I used up the rest of my bag of GF Rice flour Blend and King Arthur GF Flour Blend to make 1 1/2c. 

1c of GF Oatmeal
1/4c brown sugar
2 t B powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c marg
1/2c -ish Chocolate chips
1/2c. Milk

I am allergic to cinnamon so I leave that out but I am sure that would taste very good in there as well! 

The possibilities are endless, raisins, craisins, various baking chips, top with icing.  We have tried many variations and love them all!!!

Have fun.. Try something new..  

Here is the same recipe with regular flours:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

French Fry bake

Tonight was a last minute figure it out as you go kinda day!!  I love being creative and I love making due with what I have on hand.... Most of the time... Yesterday was NOT one of those creative day.  

But today!!!!!!!

So I had the basics...onion, green peppers, bacon grease, celery and even some chopped carrots from yesterday..  Chopped them all up and cooked them a bit in the grease.

It needed meat, so I dug in the freezer.. And found some sausage patties.  (I decided bacon was for breakfast tomorrow YUM)

So I added them to the mix, let it cook a bit and the sausage ended up chopping into a crumble as it cooked.  

The plan actually started with some french fries in the freezer.  So I added them on top of this mix and put it into the oven at 400.  I stirred it a few times, careful to not mash the fries and dug in the fridge for some topping.  After realizing the jar of cheese dip was moldy we opted for the sour cream and some sharp cheddar cheese. And back into the now OFF oven it went. It melted just right, I might have to rememeber this one!

This pan is one of my favorites.  Its an 11" heavy cast iron pan that is used almost daily.  When filled it has enough to feed my family of 6!  Cornbread, granola, even cake and breads!  LOVE my cast irons!  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homemade Citrus cleaner

I am a firm believer that Homemade is best!! 

In the kitchen and the cleaning!!  Here is my favorite cleaner.  Its simple and has only TWO ingredients, literally.  

White vinegar
Citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime)

This stuff really works.  I will say however, don't use grapefruit lol.  It ends up with a bitter smell and the kids are not fans of it.  This batch is lemons and limes (advantage of the south is they are always cheap)

Here are a few Q&A's about it:

Yes it smells like vinegar still, but the citrus helps freshen it and the vinegar smell goes away pretty quick.  Your house does NOT smell like vinegar forever.

Vinegar cleans pet smells!  I use it where cats have sprayed and they don't come back!

I have sprayed it on mattresses after an accident as well.  Spray on and let it soak, than use a towel or let air dry.

It gets sticky off from stickers and tape.  I follow up with window spray if the window is cloudy.

It does get an old smell after a while but after a LONG while. 

Make it is whatever size batch you need. Usually I do Qts but I had a lot of peels to use up and no room to store them.

You can use fresh, frozen or even dried peels, just add vinegar and let soak.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Being Honest

If I’m being totally honest!  Opening up to the world is not an easy thing for me.  I like to guard my feelings, if I'm not in a good mood, I hide in my room.  If I'm sick I find a corner.  So here goes nothing.....

1.       I don’t miss all that STUFF.  So much to clean, keep organized, feed, weed..  Clutter gets into your brain space.  I don't miss the space or the house really, just the people that made up 'life'.
2.       I don’t miss the hustle and bustle.  I always had someplace to be, or something to do.  I like being responsible but I think we all just needed a break from it all.
3.       I am mostly content to stay in my campground space.  I can walk the beach or down the drive anytime.  Sometimes the small space, noise and lack of much to do drives us to town.  That’s fine to.
4.       I like the challenge of camper cooking, but yes there are days when I stack pans in the way to small oven and spill beans all over… and hate my small oven.  I can’t wait to have a proper grill to bake on.
5.       Driving scares me, I see traffic backups on a daily basis from our front window and hear of tragedies on the roads and would be happy never driving anywhere… but then boredom and the need for something is stronger than the fear.  I refuse to be a prisoner of my fears.
6.       I have never regretted moving.  The pure joy of having hubby home every night is awesome.  No empty spot beside me in bed.  A reason to make a real dinner every night.  No waiting for the weekend to have a real conversation.  The kids get to tell him good night EVERY night.
7.        I have gained a tan and weight since the move.  The tan is obviously from the warm sun which I LOVE to be able to bask in.  The weight is much needed, not a lot but enough to feel healthy again.  I am a stress NON eater, so keeping weight on, while stressing about essentially being a single mom of 4 kids, a farm and sewing business all week was hard.  I would feed the kids but never take the time to make food I could eat. 
8.       I have a list of things (that I will not share) that I hope to change while here.  Some are big things, some small...  One of them is how close we are as a family, and I LOVE seeing that change.  My kids still get annoyed with each other, I still get annoyed with them but we can’t hide away somewhere.  We have learned to deal and appreciate each other more.   I have seen a change in how we all interact with each other and being able to include my hubby in that circle is an awesome blessing.
9.       I look at the storage trailer full of totes, grateful we got to bring some along but still wonder why we saved half of it lol.  I know it felt necessary at the time, it’s a process letting go and now we are at the point wondering why it was on the list to bring. 
10.    I don’t think we will be ‘Nomads’ for the rest of our lives, we do plan to settle down back into a ‘normal’ home…somewhere..  But right now, I can’t see that happening soon.  We went into this knowing it would be a year or so in a travel trailer, but due to the already dramatic changes we were making, we only admitted that to ourselves...Sometimes.
11.    The idea of moving came up many times over the years.  We tried everything we could to not have to move (except putting the kids in public school and me getting a full time job).  Nothing really was working out.  I used to get fuming mad when the idea was brought up of moving away from family or hubby going back into a semi truck.  We have now done both of those things, not because I decided I liked the idea but because you do what you have to do for family.  We didn’t move to TX for the JOB we moved for our family.  Our focus changed from everyone else to our little household of kids, husband and wife.  That’s who we are raising and that’s who we need to put first as family.
12.     I am a firm believer that if something is meant to be, it will work out.  God doesn’t just look down and leave us to figure it out on our own.  Throughout the process he gave us little confirmations that this was still his plan.  It all worked out, not necessarily how we envisioned it, but we made it, no vehicle troubles, we have food, we have a safe place to stay, hubby has a job, no one has been sick.  I have peace in the depths of my soul about leaving our comfort zone and moving across the country.
13.    Many times on the drive down here I had to leave it in God’s hands.  I had to remind myself that he wouldn’t get us this far and leave us.  I knew he would get us here and I had to just let the worry about something bad happening go and pray (constantly, out loud in traffic even) that I would feel peace and just drive safe.
14.    I am a social being, hubby not so much..  Our 9 yr old is very much like his father.  He needs to have familiarity, routine, feel safe and he needs his alone time too.  So much of our planning was with this in mind.  We had our trailer ahead of time and let the kids sleep in it, play in it, just sit in it so that it would feel and smell familiar when everything else changed.  I thought it was only for everyone else sake, but it has become my haven as well.
15.    Church…  this is such a difficult one.  We were raised in church, we want our kids in church but finding a church that teaches it straight, accepts my children’s quirks and personalities, and doesn’t expect me to waver is a lot harder that I thought.  We have visited some here, and found one where we could go to for a while.  Since we are on the move north a bit it’s not permanent.  Pray we find something, they are different down here for sure.  In the North we were asked about being Amish a lot, in the south, it's Pentecostal lol.  Makes us chuckle but it’s a glimpse into the differences.
16.   I have shed a few tears since we moved.  Not many and always at odd times when reminded or just missing everyone.  Funny thing is, it's not the space or the yard I miss, but the people that made up my life.  I miss the random stops from friends and family.  The kids that always collected at our house.  Always having way more mouths as 'taster' when I would have fun in the kitchen.  I don't miss the stuff, I miss the faces and hugs :-)  and hellos, and can you help me and quick sewing jobs and.....  Yup, it's People that make up your world, cherish them!

And there you go.. a few thoughts I keep wrapped up inside. Enjoy your family, Enjoy your friends...  Enjoy your journey!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crock pot breakfast

I love my crockpot, it really is no secret if you know me at all.  A year or so ago I found a website that I fell in love with and to my delight, there was a cookbook to go with it.  I was blessed by a friend in another state who mailed me one!!  I think of her everytime I use it.  Here is one we tried a few days ago, of course I changed it a little!

Here is the recipe on her blog.  If you love crock pot cooking I would recommend her book!  Its all GF recipes as well but nothing you can't easily make 'normal'

So what did I do different?  I added mushrooms and used sausage patties instead of links.  It was very good but everyone said it was not very 'breakfasty'... is that a word? Lol. It was nice having an easy filling breakfast ready for the start of a busy Monday.  I think some butter or bacon grease, maybe starting with fried onions and peppers might make it taste more like a breakfast.  Still super good! You could easily swap the sausage for cooked bacon or ham too.. 

The best part is always leftovers!!!  Supper the next day was some crock pot chicken and broth from a day before.  I combined the chicken, broth, some fresh veggies and the leftovers (sausage and all) together and had some chicken stew.. Yum!!!  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Getting there!

I have been busy taking pictures of my baking again. My family thinks its funny but its just so I can share them here.  I LOVE cooking and baking and having a small space to do it in, isn't slowing me down :-)

Here is my kitchen on a pancake breakfast day.  My large Pampered Chef cutting board works perfect over the sink to create more counter.  We had to pack our Bunn away (we couldn't bring ourselves to tossing it), it just isn't practical in here.  We found a vintage looking one at Walmart to replace it.  It doesn't need to stay plugged in and fits in our cabinet above the sink for storage. 

We don't need fancy or even a big space to make it home :-)
No regrets!!

Our kitchen in our S&B home was awesome..  We remodeled and made it a working kitchen and boy did I work it :-). Here are a few pictures, one of it 'working' in the middle of the moving process and 2 from the listing for sale now.  I miss my kitchen but love the challenge and time I now have to just have fun and cook.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We moved!!

Just a quick update since I use my blog as my personal recipe page and don't want it to close for some reason lol..

We have MOVED across the country and have went from our 1 acre 4 BR home into a 25" travel trailer, 8x6 storage trailer and a tent... YUP, you read that write, so of course a LOT of planning and trial and error has been going on.  Yes we still home school and have our 2 dogs with us.  Maybe I can get a routine down and post some of the things we have learned in the process, like HOW much stuff we have is so unnecessary, a huge purge has been more than freeing.   Finding that the whole kitchen full of pans, really come down to a few that are more versatile and easier to store.  And most of all, the reason we even considered this, was so we could be together as a family every night!

So I will get back to my laundry in the laundromat and enjoying my family..  I will be back to add some things we have learned..