New Year, New Beginnings.

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So it has been since October since I wrote anything!! Sometimes life just gets in the way. But, with a new year comes new beginnings. New gardens, new recipes, new ideas with vlogging, new surprises. I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring.

So what has been happening on our little homestead these past few months? Well, we have downsized a lot in the house. It feels so cleansing to donate or sell off things you are not using. We have also added things that were “wants” to our home. For example, Zach bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer to help with our food prep. Let me tell you what a time saver this has been. I keep it right on my counter and use it often. We also got new appliances. I have washed dishes by hand for 6 people for a year and I must say, I will NEVER take a dishwasher for granted again!! We also got a new stove and refrigerator. We moved our fridge that was in our kitchen downstairs for extra storage because someone got membership to Costco!! Yes, this girl! I never realized how inefficient our stove was until we got a new one. Plus, it’s finally nice to have all 4 burners working!

Our journey to going completely gluten free became real about a month ago. Zach was the first to show signs of having issues years ago. I fed him gluten free, but the rest ate wheat. I wasn’t ready to give it up because it’s convenient. Then it was me with the issues with my foot which radiated up into my leg. So I quit gluten, but honestly would cheat every now and then. But when it started to effect my two daughters, I knew I needed to make a change. We started to notice my daughter was having bowel problems and would daily find herself in the bathroom sick. She also was tired all the time (probably because she wasn’t absorbing enough vitamins and minerals from her food). Our other daughter started to experience itching after she would eat gluten. It would get so bad she would cry and scratch her skin open. So we cut out gluten and you know what happened? The bowel problems went away and the itching stopped. They were more alert and active. So, was it gluten that was doing that to my girls? Well, to see if it as really the gluten, I gave them gluten again to see. Sure enough, the bowel problems came back, and the itching came back. But this time, my daughter was not only itchy but she actually broke out in a rash! I told my husband that was the straw that broke the camels back. We cut out wheat that day from everyone’s diet and haven’t looked back. After a good cry on how the heck I was going to do this with 6 people, let along with children who I swear invented the goldfish cracker, I wiped the tears and began baking. Because as a mother who wants what is best for my family and their health, I knew gluten was not one of them.

So that leads me to our garden. We got the new Baker’s Creek Seed Catalog. We will be placing our order within the next week. Our oldest daughter has shown a huge interest in saving and growing seeds. So this year she will be in charge of that.

The chickens are well and we will be adding a few more to our laying hens this spring. We have meat birds we are raising in the garage right now as we speak. Some may say that it is cruel to raise them in the garage and not on pasture. Trust me, if we had the means  we would do the same. But with limited space, this is the best we can do. They have a lot of room to run around and two huge windows that give them light. We keep heat lamps in there to keep them warm. They are happy! We also added to rabbits to the mix. We are excited for the compost for the garden!

As for surprises this year? Well, we will have to wait and see……

Sausage Zucchini Boats

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Everything from this meal came from our garden except the sausage. And what an amazing meal it was!! I’ve been really trying to utilize what we have in our garden to feed our family as well as our livestock (by that I mean our rabbit and chickens). I figured why not give this a try….and well, I’m glad I did!! Here it is:

Sausage Zucchini Boats

1 Lb of sausage

1 Green pepper chopped

1 Onion chopped

1 Jalapeno pepper chopped fine

1 Medium tomato chopped

Real salt

Pepper

Granulated garlic

Olive oil

Directions: Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub with olive oil and spices. Take sausage out of its casing and brown with the pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and tomato. Add spices, stir, and add to zucchini. Bake at 350 uncovered for 25 min. Let cool 5 min and serve. AMAZING!!!

You could add so many things to this.I’m going to try this as a breakfast dish with egg too!!  I love zucchini for this reason. It has such a mild flavor that you can pair it with just about anything!!

Tuna Cakes with Avocado and Quinoa

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Tonight I had no meal plan. I have been running around today, and forgot to thaw something out so I needed think fast. The kids had the usual gluten free pasta and sauce, but I decided to give this a try for us grown ups. The tuna with the horseradish sauce topped with the creamy avocado makes for an explosion of flavor in your mouth!  I came up with this and honestly, I will definitely be making this again!! Here’s how to make it:

Tuna Cakes with Avocado and Quinoa

2 Large cans of tuna (drained)

1 Egg

1/2 Small onion diced

A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley (minced)(reserve some for garnish)

Onion powder

Celery salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

1 Avocado sliced

Horseradish sauce (mayo and horseradish mixed together)

Quinoa (prepare according to package)

Red beets (for garnish)

Olive oil

Directions: In a bowl, add drained tuna, spices, onion, egg, and parsley. Mix. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet. Form tuna into balls the size of your hand and flatten to make a patty. When oil is heated, place into skillet. Cook until browned and crispy on both sides (approx 5 min). Cook quinoa and plate. Place cakes on top. Drizzle with horseradish sauce and top with avocado and parsley. Add cooked red beets for a beautiful finish.

You could definitely use crab meat instead and that would taste amazing!! In fact, that is now on my list!! You could also try out different sauces. Tuna really can go with anything. Plus, it’s cheap. And when you’re on a budget, I welcome that!! Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa.

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With an abundance of peppers coming into the garden, I wanted to make something for dinner with them. Traditionally, I usually make stuffed peppers with brown rice but I wanted to try something a little different. The meal itself is simple, just a few things here and there, but the taste packs a punch. Here is how I made them.

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

1 Can of organic fire roasted tomatoes

1 Lb grass fed hamburger

4 Cups of cooked quinoa

3 Peppers sliced in half

Garlic

Real salt

Onion powder

Celery Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Directions: Cooked hamburger in a little olive oil and spices until brown. Set aside. Cook quinoa using package instructions (double). Slice pepper and place into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Place in baking dish. When quinoa is cooked, add ground hamburger and mix. Stuff peppers with quinoa mixture. Spoon roasted tomatoes on top. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!!

Guacamole Chicken with Cucumbers.


Need a way to use up all those cucumbers in your graden? Here is a really easy recipe that is a staple in the summer! This recipe is gluten free, healthy, filling, and would be great for entertaining. Here’s how to make it.

Guacamole Chicken with Cucumbers

1 Cucumber sliced

2 Avacados mashed

2 Small chicken breasts grilled and diced

Granulated garlic

Real salt

Lime juice

Red onion for garnish

Directions: Slice cucumber while grilling chicken. Pull chicken off grill and let cool. Mash avacados in bowl adding spices and lime juice. When chicken cools, dice into small pieces. Add to guacamole. Mix. Place sliced cucumbers on platter and add chicken/guacamole. Garnish with red onion. Enjoy!

This is an amazing recipe. Definitely one to add to your recipe box!

Why Living with Less is Best.

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I remember like it was yesterday…I owned at least 10 pair of stilettos, a huge wardrobe, and probably every hair care product on the market. We had a brand new car, spent money on things we didn’t need, but it was okay because we were both working and only had one child.

Fast forward 9 years…. I own 1 black pair of stilettos, a wardrobe from the salvation army, and a brush, a few bobbie pins, and coconut oil for my hair. Our car is used (nice, but used), only spend money on things we need, because I now stay home and raise our four children.

That’s a huge difference in 9 years huh? Not really. It was gradual. I’m a pretty impulsive kind of person, but with scaling back on things? Not so much. So you ask, “well why did you scale back then”? I got tired of being able to buy whatever I needed whenever I needed quite frankly. It is so easy to say you need something and pick up a computer and buy it. It doesn’t even give us a chance to think if we really need the item.

So we stopped buying new and started shopping thrift stores and yard sales. I really liked it!! I liked the challenge of not knowing what treasure you were going to find, and when you did it was more than half the price. This began my journey into the frugal world.

But it didnt stop there. I wanted more by having less. What I mean was, I wanted to learn skills I had never learned before such as gardening or changing a cloth diaper on a wiggly baby (yes, that is a learned skill folks). I wanted more time with my family too. When we surround ourselves with “things”, it takes the focus off of the people in our lives. For example, my brain goes insane with clutter. I shut down. So I decided one day to revamp the kitchen (really donate a bunch of things I didn’t need but revamp sounds so HGTV right)? I started there because that was the biggest headache. I only kept things I needed. Ice cream maker? Gone. Extra plates so when we have 100 guests over ( um, we never)? Gone. Stuff on the counter that was just cute but served no purpose? Gone. What I kept were cute mason jars filled with spices, and different grains, etc. Everything I have in my kitchen was there because it needed to be there. I wasn’t stressed anymore. In fact, it was great. I went on to do the other rooms in the house. I sold or donated things we didn’t need and it was cleansing.

So what did I learned from all of this? When we got rid of “stuff” it opened my mind to calm. I spend more time with the kids because I’m not constantly stressed about what needs to be done. I did less housework (that right, that is enough for me to have a spriritual moment!!), I was happier. Then I began to think “what if we decluttered every aspect of our lives”? So we did. Instead of having something planned everyday, we took breaks in between. We let the kids have downtime…we had downtime. Instead of going to an amusement park, we went to the lake and fished. We saw a difference in our kids. They were calmer and happier. Not that we don’t do fun things like that with our kids, we just scale back and let them enjoy nature around them. They learn so much about themselves through that.

And I’m not finished there. I would love to live off grid. Or in a tiny log cabin house and have only what we need. That will have to be someday. To everything there is a season. But when we get to that season, the possibilities will be endless!

 

Cucumber Salad


Summer would not be complete without this dish. This is a great way to find something quick and easy as a side for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! They have many recipes out there, but I make mine super easy because sometimes you just don’t have time! Here is how I make mine:

Cucumber Salad

3 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 Tomatoes seeded and chopped

1 Small red onion sliced thin

1/2 Bottle of Italian dressing

Directions: Wash your cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel off some of the peel so it makes strips of green. Slice thin and place in bowl. Cut tomatoes. Take as many seeds out as you can. Chop and put in bowl. Slice onion thin and add to bowl. Pour dressing on top. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve and enjoy!

You can also use white vinegar and honey instead of dressing. I have made them both ways. Honestly, I just mix vinegar and honey together until it tastes good! No recipe for that!! I didn’t want to use up all my honey since the budget only allowed for a little jar of honey this week.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread


So I’m on a zucchini kick. I have a lot of it, I’m trying to stay in budget, and well, it comes right from our garden. But my old recipe called for flour and I can’t eat that. Plus, I don’t want to use refined sugar either. So I whipped up a new recipe and hoped for the best. It’s all gone so I’m assuming it was a hit!

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

2 Cups cassava flour

1 Tsp baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

1/2 Tsp salt

2 Tsp cinnamon 

2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder

1/2 Coconut oil

3 Eggs

1/4 Honey

1 Cup maple syrup

1 1/2 Cup zucchini shredded 

Directions: Add all dry ingredients to the bowl. Mix. Add all wet ingredients except zucchini next. Mix. Shred zucchini and fold into mixture. Grease a cake pan or cupcake pan with coconut oil. Pour mixture into cake pan or 1/2 the way for cupcakes. Bake at 325 for 1 hr for cake, testing at 45 minutes. 30 minutes for cupcakes checking at 20. Oven times will vary. You can top with some powder sugar, but we ate ours plain. 

These were definitely picky eater approved and she usually doesn’t eat zucchini bread. I think because I added the cocoa powder so she couldn’t see the zucchini!! My husband who really doesn’t eat sweets LOVED these!! Enjoy!!

Gluten Free Fried Zucchini 


If your garden is like ours, you probably have more zucchini then you know what to do with!

We love fried zucchini, but we try to avoid gluten at all costs. So I needed to get creative so we could have one of our favorite sides for dinner.

I bought cassava flour about a month ago and tried it out. It was perfect. I love this flour. It is four from the yucca root. It’s light and doesn’t feel heavy on your stomach, and well you wouldn’t even have know the difference! Want to try fried zucchini? Check out my gluten free version:

Gluten Free Fried Zucchini 

1 Large zucchini ( fed all 6 of us)

2 Cups cassava flour

Real salt

Granulated garlic

2 Eggs

Oil for frying (I used organic olive oil)

Horseradish sauce- A mayo of your liking mixed with horseradish.

Directions: Start by heating oil up in cast iron skillet. Get out two plates. Add eggs to one and beat until smooth. Add flour, salt, garlic to the other and mix (use to your liking). Slice zucchini thin. Add zucchini to flour first, then egg, the flour and place in skillet. Cook about 2-3 min each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Serve immediately!

This is picky eater approved. In fact, I needed to tell her she was cut off!!

A tip on seeing if your oil is ready…use the handle of a wooden spoon. Dip it down into the oil. If bubble start forming around it, it’s ready!!

You can add all different spices. Chili powder is a good one. And add some horseradish sauce for a great added flavor! Enjoy!

Homemade Deodorant

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Alright, do the test….lift up your arm and smell your armpit. Go ahead, no ones watching. Do you smell? Yes? No? If you don’t, well, you are probably using a deodorant from the store. Did you know they have linked some of those chemicals to cancer? I’m not trying to scare you, just inform you. If you do, well then skip down to the recipe ;).

This recipe is easy, all natural ingredients, and well it works really well too!! This is also cost-effective, so it’s great for people on a budget. I have been making this for years and only takes a few minutes of your time. Here’s how to make your own:

Homemade Deodorant

1/2 Cup arrowroot

2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil

10 drops of lavender essential oil

Mason jar for storage

Directions: Heat coconut oil until melted (or room temp in summer months). In bowl, add arrowroot and melted oil. Mixed until combined. Add drops of lavender. Continue to mix until you feel it’s all incorporated. Store in air tight mason jar.

When it’s warm out, it will be softer. Some people store it in the fridge. I just leave it out in my bathroom. This is also great for people with sensitive skin. The coconut oil and lavender kill bacteria and heal. Try it and see!!