Help Bring A Baby Home

Hi all! I’m really excited to share this with you! Merissa is one of my bloging mentors, and someone I look up to a great deal. Right now, she and her husband are raising money to bring their new baby boy home. Read on to find out how you can help!


Meet Merissa!
 
 
Just last week Merissa, of Little House Living,  shared that she and her husband were preparing for their first adoption fundraiser.  The blogging community quickly shared their need for donated items and hoped that many of you would come alongside of them in that effort.  But, to our surprise, Merissa announced on Sunday that they had just been chosen to be the parents of a healthy baby boy born on that same day (read the full story here)!  
 
Today the blogging community has the opportunity to come alongside of Merissa and her family as they adopt this precious baby boy into their family!
 
Merissa and her husband are traveling to pick up their new son on Wednesday, but have not had time to fundraise.
 
They need $12,000 in 10 days.
 
$12,000 sounds like a lot doesn’t it?
 
It is.
 
But, with each of use giving at least $10, it’s really not that much!
 
Can you forego a cup of coffee or a fast food lunch this week in order to bring home a new life?
 
Not only that, would you share this with your friends?  Email it, Facebook it, Tweet it, Pin it, Stumble it, G+ it.  Whatever you can do.  And if you’re a blogger that might be willing to blog about Merissa’s story, please leave a comment below or email Christie and we’ll forward you the details!  
 
Life is worth it.  Adoption is worth it.
 
Let’s bring this baby boy home!!
 

DIY Homemade Tallow In The Crockpot

DIY Homemade Tallow In The Crockpot
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Have you ever rendered your own tallow or lard? With our modern society, we tend to go into a grocery store and buy specific cuts of beef or pork, and never even see a significant ammount of fat - certainly not enough to bother rendering. But if you raise your own meat, or buy from a local farmer, or if like me, your husband got a super fat deer last hunting season, rendering fat is a very useful skill.

 

Note: Some local butcher shops, which you can look up in the yellow pages, also sell raw animal fat for home rendering - you just have to ask.

I remember when I was a kid, living in an Amish community, everybody would get together and butcher their hogs over the course of two days. The lard rendering - which is the exact same process as tallow rendering - was done outside in large cast iron kettles, over an open fire on the second day. 

Without a community butchering party, I’ve found that the easiet thing for me to do, is to freeze the fat, and render it in small batches whenever I have time or need. Up until recently, I’ve done this on the stove top, but with this last batch of fat, I decided to shake things up a little, and try the crockpot method. 

I must say, it was quite a time saver! Dicing fat is pretty quick work, and after that, I just let the crockpot babysit it all night. Then, in the morning, it was ready to strain. I really enjoyed not having to stir and watch it like a hawk.

The one drawback is that if you want good cracklings, you’ll have to finish them in a pot on the stove top in order to get them crispy. 

DIY Crock Pot Tallow

Honestly, this is so easy, you don’t even need formal instructions, but here they are anyway: smile

Ingredients:

  • Fat from beef, venison (for tallow), or pork (for lard)

Dice fat into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes, or grind it using a meat grinder. 

Place into a crockpot and cook on high for several hours (overnight works well), until cracklings are a nice, deep brown.

Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, and store in the refrigerator.

It really is that easy! And your homemade tallow will be of so much better quality than anything you can buy.

Note: Tallow becomes quite hard as it cools - in fact, it’s often used for making candles because of this. Even so, I have found it quite easy to clean up any spills with a hot rag and some dish detergent (Dawn is my favorite). 

Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe
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Bananas in our house don’t often last long enough to become overripe, but when they do, we sure do love a good loaf of banana bread! 

When I first started baking gluten-free, it seemed like I couldn’t make a quick bread without it either being too tender to handle, or falling in the middle. I often would resort to using spelt flour as in this homemade spelt bread recipe.

 I’m happy to say though, that with a few recipe adjustments, that problem was eventually overcome. As you can see in the pictures, this bread has neither of those problems. It rose beautifully in the ove, and is firm, but not dry. Totally a win!

Making food that tastes good, but is inexpensive is very important to me, and this recipe, which uses a simple rice flour mix, succesfully satifsies both of these needs.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

  • 2 cup gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 2 large bananas, puréed
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º.

​Combine dry ingredients (except sugar) in a bowl.

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla, and bananas.

Combine the two mixtures.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf, comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool ten minutes before loosening edges of loaf with a butter knife. Turn onto a cooling grid.

Slice and enjoy!

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliat links. See my disclosure policy for more information.

My Dairy Goat Adventures: Part 2. Closed Doors

Welcome back for the second installment of My Dairy Goat Adventures! If you missed part one, check it out here

For two months, I looked for a goat, and found some that might have been excellent, and maybe worth even more than the asking price, but weren’t within my budget, some that looked okay, but not great, and others that I just plain felt sorry for.

One Saanen we looked at had teats so short and thin that Gabriel’s first finger was wider than they were long. Another group of Saanens were nervous, and had such small orifices (the holes through which the milk is let out), that I needed forearms like Popeye’s to get through milking even just one (incidentally, their owners milked by machine), and every single Nubian I called about either ended up being sold before we could get out to look at her, or wasn’t in milk as the advertisement had indicated.

I finally began to think that maybe I should just stop pushing on a closed door, and gave up… Sort of.



I still couldn’t resist searching “Nubian” or “Alpine” on Craigslist every few days , but nothing really stood out anymore. Spring rush was over, and grass was pretty abundant, so it wasn’t costing owners much to keep their goats.

And then one day, there was an ad for a beautiful alpine doe, in milk, kids just weaned, giving four pounds of milk once per day. And the price was right!

I sent a quick email to the owner, with a list of questions. How old was she? Had she been tested for various common goat diseases? What kind of diet was she on? Had she ever had trouble kidding?

All of the questions were answered favorably. She was six years old, All tests were negative, she twinned with ease every time, and her temperament was very laid back. Perfect!

When most people talk about things they’re selling like they’re worth their weight in gold, I usually get a little Leary, but there was something about this lady that just struck me as right.

Right off the bat she told me how much milk the goat was giving in pounds (no room for “oh, your jar must be bigger than mine” when you’re weighing the milk!), but followed it up with saying that that would decrease now that the kids were weaned.

I was impressed that she didn’t feel the need to brag, so I made an appointment to go see the goat.

And then the truck broke down…


 Make sure to check back next Thursday for part three!

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How To Make A Braided Trivet: Blue jean Upcycle

How To Make A Braided Trivet: Blue jean Upcycle
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My favorite pair of jeans ripped the other day. To be fair, I’ve worn them almost constantly since picking them up for a dollor at a thrift store, so it’s not like they owed me anything.

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, so they sat in a pile in my bedroom for several days while I decided what to do. Who knew that a person could have an emotional attachment to a pair of jeans?

Anyway, this project came up because of a friend who’s mother gave me a homemade trivet years and years ago and it’s been the best thing ever

I wanted to make another one (or two), and that’s when I remembered the jeans. At first I thought I’d crotchet it with a big hook, but hat turned of to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Maybe I’ll cut the other leg into thinner strips and try again. 

 Here’s the thing: why throw something away when you can turn (or upcycle) it into another perfectly good thing? 

In this case, instead of adding trash to an already massive landfill, we’ve created something useful, and kind of cool out of an old pair of jeans. 

If you’ve ever thought about making a braided rag-rug, but wanted to start with something a little smaller, this is perfect! I think you’ll find that it’s easier than you expect it to be.

Braided Blue Jean Trivet

Materials needed:

  • Denim blue jeans
  • Sturdy sewing thread
  • Sewing needle
  • Scissors
  1. To make the strips, cut the hem off of the bottom of your jeans. Next, make a verticle cut just long enough for you to firmly grab either side. Rip it all the way up to the waste or until a pocket gets in the way. Reapeat at approximately one inch intervals.
  2. Next, clean off the frayed threads so that your strips look nice and clean
  3. Tie three stips together and begin braiding.
  4. As you get close to the end, tack a new strip on with your sewing thread. It doesn’t have to be Super Man strong, it just needs to keep the strip in place while you’re working on it. 
  5. This part will go really fast, and you’ll have a whole pant leg braided up in no time.
  6. Once you do, tie the three ends together with your sewing thread.
  7. Now comes the tricky part. Lay your braid down flat, and coil a few inches. 
  8. Knot one end of your thread, and do this:
  9. See how the needle is peircing through the touching edges? You’ll want to do that twice in the same place on your first stitch.
  10. Then move down half an inch and poke your needle through both inner edges again, but before you pull your thread tight, run your needle through the loop to make a catch stitch.
  11. Tighten up the thread, move down half an inch, and repeat.
  12. Make sure you’re sewing on the underside of your trivet. If you use matching thread, it won’t be as noticable as mine, but you still want pretty side up.
  13. Keep on coiling and sewing until your trivet reaches the desired size. I used an entire pant leg on mine - which means that one pair of jeans should make two trivets. 

It took me about an hour to finish sewing, and in the end, I had this:

When you reach the end, tie of your thread, cut it, and voila! project finished! 

I love these projects that I can tackle in one afternoon!

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Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
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Sunday mornings are really rushed. You know how it is. First chores, then kid’s baths, diaper bags, snacks, food for the after church potluck, and getting it all out to the car…

And then you’re driving down the road and a voice pops up from the back seat. “Mom, can I have some foooood?”

Ugh. You can’t forget breakfast when you have kids. It just doesn’t work.

So, I’ve been experimenting with slow cooker breakfasts. I really like this one, because it incorporates carbs (potatoes), greens (spinach is my fave), and protein (sausage and eggs). It’s a pretty balanced, one pot meal.

The thing that always frustrates me so much about many slow cooker dishes, is that you basically have to cook all the ingredients before you put them in the slow cooker (you know, sautée the onion, fry the sausage), and that just kind of defeats the whole purpose of using the slow cooker. Um HELLO, it’s suppose to be saving me time, and preferably, dish washing as well.

So, with the exception of par boiling potatoes, which you can totally skip if you use frozen hash browns, Everything in this dish goes into the pot raw. No pre cooking required. 

If whipping this up the night before frees up so much time in the morning that you don’t know what to do with yourself, may I suggest that Gluten Free Fritters would be a perfect sweet side to accompany this savory dish? Love those apple fritters!

So, here you go. 

Slow Cooker breakfast Casserole

  • 2 potatoes, chopped and parboiled (or 2 cups frozen hashbrowns)
  • 2 T. minced dry onion (or 1/2 cup chopped, fresh onion)
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 8-12 eggs, beaten
  •  1/2 cup milk
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • Optional add ins: mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, bell pepper, green chilis

Layer potatoes in the bottom of a buttered crockpot. Sprinkle with minced onion.

Chop parially frozen sausage - or if it’s not partly frozen, just do your best - and sprinkle on top of potatoes and onions.

Add copped broccoli, spinach, bell peppers - or whatever sounds good.

Beat eggs and milk together and mix with salt and pepper to taste, and pour over top.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Sprinkle with cheese and replace lid of crock pot while cheese melts.

Serve.

Enjoy!

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Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

My Dairy Goat Adventures

My Dairy Goat Adventures
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Hey all! I’m excited to be sharing a series of article detailing my endeavors into the dairy goat business starting today! Let’s get with it, shall we? 


Just shy of a year ago, I had a few hundred dollars I wanted to invest into our farm business.

There I was, pregnant, and not feeling like I was adding a whole lot of value to the family economy, so after some research, I decided that buying a dairy goat, and starting a small raw milk business might be a way to fix that.

We’ve had dairy goats off and on ever since we’ve been married, and I like them a lot. Their personalities are hilarious - and sometimes annoying - but I especially love the safety factor because I have small children.

Whereas, you couldn’t trust a cow to not step on somebody, or inadvertently knock them over, a goat is not only smaller, but much more aware of their personal space. I haven’t had one step on Garrett yet - and he’s always up in their faces or crawling under them.



I also felt like a dairy goat (or five) was a way that I as a mom could, as I mentioned, add a little bit to the family economy because, again, they’re small, so I’m not afraid to have my children around them, and because much of the work - the handling of the milk and such - is done right in my kitchen.

Now, I feel I should point out, just in case anyone from the department of agriculture sees this, that it is NOT legal here in Tennessee to sell raw milk. It’s an unfortunate restriction which assumes that a buyer cannot take responsibility for what they purchase and consume - but that’s another article for another day.

What is legal here, are herd share programs. It’s a loophole, and what it means is that someone who wants the benefit of raw milk, but either can’t, or doesn’t want to own a dairy animal, buys a portion of the goat (or cow), which entitles them to a portion of the milk that animal produces. They then pay a weekly or monthly upkeep and handling fee.

For the purpose of these articles however, I’ll simplify things by just referring to herd share holders as customers, and call milk distribution milk sales, etc.

Anyway, once we decided that’s what we wanted to do, I started scouring Craigslist ads, and found several prospects (as well as lots of scraggly looking goats!) and began making calls and sending emails.

Nothing worked out. I mean, nothing.

Of the two dairy does we already had, one was a first time freshener, and wasn’t giving more than a quart a day, and the other had taken the year off from kidding (we now suspect that she’s gone sterile), and so it looked like my little dairy business was going to end before it even began…


Make sure to check back next Thursday for part two!

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Busy Mom’s Tools For Spiritual Growth

As time goes by, life just gets busier and busier doesn’t it?

I’m very guilty of putting important things, like my spiritual growth, on the back burner to make more time for dealing with things that seem to need my attention right now. I keep thinking that life will slow down, and that eventually, I’ll have more time.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Finally, I became convicted that I’ve got to stay in the Word no matter what else comes up in life, and thanks to modern technology, it’s actually very easy to do.

Now, just let me say this upfront. I know a lot of moms swear by getting up early to get their “quiet time with God” in, but I just can’t do that at this stage in my life. For me, with a baby who still doesn’t sleep through the night, I need more total time in bed. So when I wake up, it’s get dressed and immediately out the door to milk goats, then back in to make breakfast for Garrett, and so goes the day. 

So my study and prayer time doesn’t usually happen all at once, but rather, in bits throughout the day. It usually starts while I’m nursing Haddassah, and If I’m lucky, I’ll get through my whole daily reading in one stretch. Other times, I may get interrupted three verses in. I just try to roll with it. raspberry 

But just like you can make time for fitness if it’s really important to you, there are multiple ways for us busy moms to fit in Bible study time. Here are the three main tools I use:

  • http://www.biblestudytools.com I LOVE this website! I first found it while searching for commentaries online. Then I noticed they had this nifty little feature called Reading plans. There are several to choose from, depending on your goals, and currently, mine is to read through the entire bible by the end of the year.

What I love about it is that the daily passages are email directly to my inbox, so I can read them on my iPod whenever I get the chance. It’s so much easier to handle a baby, and a small e-reader than it is to flip pages in an actual book.

  • Audio Bible - I can’t tell you how much I love having an Audio Bible. Sadly, we’re missing most of the New Testament, but the parts we do have get their fair share of listening. It has allowed me to become familiar with parts of the Old Testament that were largely ignored in my previous bible learning. It’s much less tedious to listen to the book of Genesis multiple times, than it is to read through it. And it takes surprisingly little time.

We have and love The Word of Promise, which is dramatized by some fairly well known actors (I suppose that’s part of what makes it so easy to listen to). Like I said, I love it, however, when I looked it up to see if I could order the parts we’re missing, I was disappointed to see how expensive it is. I don’t know why I was surprised - it is over 90 hours worth of audio. I think I’ll be keeping an eye out on eBay.

  • Sermon Audio - Yep, more audio, the Best way to multitask - engage your ears with one thing, and your hands with another. smile According to the homepage, there are 772,224 sermons available. That’s a lot of listening! You can search for sermons by topic, or speaker. Obviously, reading the bible ourselves is very important, but listening to others expound the word of God is also an excellent means to furthering our understanding of God’s word. Sermon Audio is one of the big reasons I wish we had faster internet available out here. 
  • Music - Music can really go far in setting the mood in your home. Your little ones will pick up and that mood, as well as the lyrics.  Listening to good, theologically sound music is a great way to keep God’s word in the forefront of your mind. Some of our favorites include Selah, Steve Green (oldies, but goodies people), Michael Card’s lullabies, and Nathan Clark George (excellent scripture music there). I’m trying to expand our music library little by little. 

With all of these things available, we don’t need to ever lack for spiritual food. If you can make a habit of reading the Bible before checking Facebook, and putting on a sermon or scriptural music before the easy listening stuff - and you can - you’ll be amazed by how you , even as a busy mom of little people, can immerse yourself in the Word.

These are my favorites. What are yours?
 

Gluten Free, Yeast Free Bread Recipe

Gluten Free, Yeast Free Bread Recipe
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It never occurred to me that some folks might be just as allergic to yeast as my husband is to gluten. Not until recently anyway. 

But the idea intrigued me, and since gluten-free bread is a batter, yeast-free bread didn’t seem like it should be too hard to accomplish. It took a couple of tries to get the consistency right, but when I finally realized that baking powder needed a thinner batter than yeast did, I was very happy with the result. Garrett enjoyed bread and honey, which he rarely gets, and Gabriel enjoyed a meal of sandwiches, which he doesn’t get nearly often enough by his standards. smile

Once again, as always tends to be the case with breads, the best results come from using a specific bread flour mix, rather than an all purpose flour mix such as you would use for Gluten Free Fritters. So rather than link to a mix, in this recipe, I’m just going to list the individual flours and starches. If you have a preferred mix, go ahead and add up the total of the flours, and use the equivalent of your own mix.

Gluten Free, Yeast Free Sandwich Bread

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup of corn, millet, or sorghum flour
  • 3/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. guar gum
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350º.

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients, and mix until well incorporated. Beat for four minutes. 

Grease a regular sized loaf pan, or two mini loaf pans. Scrape batter into pan(s) and smooth with wet spatula working to dome the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack at least ten minutes before slicing. 

Enjoy!

Despite the thickness of the crust (because I tend to over-bake everything for fear it won’t be thoroughly done), I was very happy with how soft it remained. I would say in fact, that the crust is the biggest difference between this and traditional yeast risen bread. The inside was nice and springy, and nearly identical!

;Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Pinterest Projects: Cinnamon rolls, Edible Glitter, and Skinny Jeans

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I look at all the awesome stuff on Pinterest, I wonder if there should be some sort of disclaimer in the discription like “results pictured not typical” or something. you know, like all those 48 hour diet commercials. 

I maybe I just think that because I’m challenged in most areas involving craftiness. 

Well, here’s a few projects that have been sitting on my pin boards for a while, and I finally got them done. 

Skinny Jean Makeover

A friend gave me this pair of skinny jeans and they were just too big. I’m talking about the kind of big that fall off if you’re not really careful. I was just about to pass them on to another friend when I found this article on how to tailor jeans by Painfully Hip. It’s actually pretty easy - even for people like me who were born without the sewing machine gene. Turn them inside out, pin them, sew them. I was really pleased with the results. You’ll probably never see me around town wearing this particular pair of jeans (skinnies + holes = no way), but given my lack of success finding well fitting jeans at thrift stores, I think this technique will come in handy again soon!

Gluten-Free Copy Cat Cinnabon Rolls

Can it really be? A recipe for delicious cinnamon rolls that would make even the best wheat flour baker jealous? Why yes, yes it can. I’ve made these rolls twice, and they turned out perfectly each time. And I do mean perfectly. You should try them. But then again, no you shouldn’t, you don’t want to become an addict. wink

Edible Glitter

Ah, now we come to the failure project. I saw these in my Pinterest news feed a bazillion times and decided to give them a try for a batch of cupcakes I was making for a baby shower. I looked up severl different variations, tried them. no luck. If I caught the sugar at just the right moment, some of it would be vaguely sparkly, while other parts would be melted, and still others wouldn’t be sparkly at all. Did I do something wrong? Maybe so. But you can see in the picture how it looked during nearly every stage, so I’m inclined to think this recipe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Any advice? 

I think those are basically the only three Pinterest projects I’ve done so far this year. What about you? Do you find projects from Pinteres live up to your expectations?