Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

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The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

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Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

Life Journaling (part I)

Are you recording your life?

Will your posterity be able to one day know who you were and what life was like in your time?

You may think that keeping a journal, a diary, or a genealogical record is not necessary now in this vast world of tech. There is unlimited amount of information about this age as endless digital information and you regularly update your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social pages…

But how much of it is real. 

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Will your great-great-great-grandchildren be able to connect with you through a microchip of saved data and photos? Or, would they know you more as they see your handwriting, read your thoughts on the day to day life that you live-experiencing with you all of the ups and downs you have traversed, celebrate with you in your moment of joy expressed on an old wrinkled page smudged with messy handwriting, misspelled words and maybe a smudge of chocolate? The photo of me above is a very real moment in my life, one that did not get expressed to its deepest core on social media, but was recorded in my personal journals as this experienced changed and refined me into who I am now. No one can really know (except Jesus) the deep feelings of my soul until they someday read it in my own words. Sometimes I even go back to remind myself what this moment in my life was like.

Currently I am trying to read a book I thought looked interesting, The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. The subject of which the book is written intrigues me, however, the way some of the information has been shared thus far has been hard to digest. Until today, when the author was sharing some background on Reverend Horace Bushnell who had profound words to say on the topic of “the age of homespun” and it’s place in the past. It wasn’t his speech that appealed to my imaginations, but what was said of his mother:

“Dotha Bishop Bushnell had no more than a common school education, but according to her son she was never self-conscious about her disadvantages. She clothed her six children in linen and woolen of her own making,administered a home dairy, boarded farm laborers, and during part of the year fed the workers in “a homespun cloth-dressing shop” attached to her husband’s mill. She sent her children to the district schools-and Horace to Yale-clothed “in better, cleaner homespun than any others.” All this work she accomplished year after year, working thirteen or fourteen hours a day, without a word of complaint. “What mortal endurance could bear such a stress of burden! And yet she scarcely showed a look of damage under the wear of it, but kept the appearance rather of a woman of some condition.”

The information shared of Dotha was obviously from the point of view of a son who thought well of his mother. While his reminiscence of her, piqued my interest in this section of the book, it did not satisfy my curious appetite. According to her son, she worked thirteen or fourteen hours a day providing for her family-“without a word of complaint.” Now isn’t that a woman you want to interview? I admire her stamina-and the mother-of a large family-keeping a farmstead-homemaker in me knows it wasn’t easy. To be able to read her thoughts as she worked on steadily through hard times, and renewed her ambitions in the good times would be such an encouragement.

So I ask again, Are you recording your life? In a real pour out your heart and soul kind of way?

You may not think it to be of much interest or importance, but your great-great-great-great grandchild-niece-cousin…..will be intrigued, entertained, and perhaps even inspired by your life.

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There are unlimited ways to keep a record of your life. Pinterest and Youtube are full of inspiring ideas. In Part III of this Life Journaling series I will share how I keep mine, and the improvements it has made in my life.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Part II- Journal Your Way!

The Best Way to Eat Oats

 

th.jpegGoldilocks knew what she was doing when she searched out the best bowl of porridge on the Bear’s table.We really should pay more attention to the Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales that have been around for decades. There are many lessons to learn, and they aren’t all morals. In the case of Goldilocks, she did not turn her nose up at the meal available in the cozy Bear cottage. In fact, she tried each bowl until she found one at the perfect temperature and then gobbled it all up!

Oats are a grain that have one of the highest physic acid measurements. Meaning, it is hard for our bodies to digest it unless properly prepared. Like wheat and other grains, it simply takes a pre-soaking to prepare oats for easier digestion.

Our family of 9 uses oatmeal as a main course for breakfast most days. The biggest complaint used to be that it did not last, and tummies were growling before lunch. Now that we are prepping our oats the night before however, the hunger monsters are kept at bay a little longer.

We buy our oats in bulk and keep it in a 5 gallon bucket with a gamma lid:

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The night before oatmeal is on the menu for breakfast, we simply fill a pot with the amount needed (about a 1/2 cup per person), enough water for them to swim and then add a large dollop of plain yogurt (about a 1/2 cup to our whole pot). This is all mixed, lidded and set on the countertop or stovetop overnight. The yogurt has those fabulous live cultures that begin breaking down the the oats for us. This process can also be done with apple-cider vinegar for those that are dairy intolerant-but it is recommended to rinse the oats before cooking them to lessen any flavor of vinegar that might linger.

When the morning comes we add more water, enough for the oats to swim again, and then heat the pot on a medium-low heat or low heat for a longer time period, until the oats are soft and the porridge is thickened. To further aid our bodies in assimilating the nutrients found in oats, we add in some animal fat-usually in the form of butter and a splash of milk. Then a variety of toppings are welcomed to the bowls as desired, such as: raisins, coconut flakes, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, ground flax etcetera. Somedays we really mix things up and add some pureed pumpkin to the pot or apples and cinnamon before cooking. Porridge has become such a a favorite staple that when the toddler doesn’t like what’s on his dinner plate, he asks for porridge!

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I wanted to fill this bowl with oats for the photo prop-but the gamma lid was stuck! sigh.

It is something worth trying. Put it on rotation with eggs, yogurt and muffins, and cream of wheat, and you will never miss the boxed (or bagged) cereal.

Now for a few words on animal fats: butter and lard

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It was mentioned above that animal fats added to the oats help our bodies to absorb the nutrients available. This is also true with not only other grains but other foods such as sweet potatoes. The make-up of these fats are such that they grab on to the nutrients and carry them appropriately throughout our bodies. Butter, lard and fat in general have gotten a bad reputation for a long time. Most people now avoid them as much as possible…and look what has happened to our digestive systems and ability to assimilate foods-especially grains. Instead, we are using highly processed, chemically engineered substitutes that do nothing for us but trick our taste buds and brains into thinking it is food.

Two years ago we found out that I have a soy allergy. With the removal of soy from our home it has brought back in these healthy animal fats. We also use olive oil, and coconut oil-each have there purposes in the kitchen. Lard has been a big discovery. It replaced vegetable shortening in recipes and is what we use to grease pans. There was some concern at first that it would leave an “icky” taste, but that has not been the case. Granted, it is not something I would use in a frosting recipe or even cookies-butter and coconut oil do their jobs well in those areas. It actually creates a delicious crust on our bread and pizza’s and makes wonderfully tasty biscuits. A friend of ours has also reported that it makes the best tortillas, which we plan on trying soon.

We should also note that my husband I have not gained weight on this diet change-but actually lost weight!

So there you have it, truth found in the stories of our youth.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

 

The Story of Wild Yeast (a.k.a Sourdough Starter)

mmmm. bread.

IMG_1844.jpgSince the air is chilly and our furnace has decided to not warm us, I decided that today would be a fine day to bake. The warmth from the oven and the calories burned from rushing around the kitchen did prove well to keep my fingers and toes with feeling.

Last week I shared the recipe for my Basic Bread (pictured above), with the promise to feed your bread cravings more this week and delve into the topic of sourdough.

Let me first start by saying that bread is the most basic of foods. It has been around for ages-literally! The very first mention of bread that has been found dates back to Biblical times, Genesis even. Of course, the first forms of bread were unleavened, meaning they were flat and dense. As man experimented with foods, the discovery was made that when a mixture of flour and water is left out for a few days it begins to create a gas. This mixture then when added to a recipe of bread dough causes the bread to rise-enter in leavened bread.

We call this change: fermentation, and it results because of what we have named yeast. Yeast is actually in the air around us all of the time. The white stuff that accumulates on the tops of apples or other fruit is wild yeast! So when the flour and water mixture is left out, yeast from the air is attracted to it. Yeast loves the wheat flour because it is sugar-and yeast thrives on sugar!

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While you can now buy yeast commercially, once-upon-a-time, the only way to make a yeast or leavened bread was by keeping a sourdough starter. This starter was so cherished that it was passed down as an heirloom! This type of yeast can be kept alive indefinitely as long as it is fed and kept in it’s preferred temperatures.

There is lots of really great information I could ramble on about sourdough starter and its benefits, but there are also many many great books on the subject. Instead, I will just list the books on my kitchen shelf at the end of this post. The same goes for the process that wheat should go through in order to become a nutritious part of our diet. Wheat has really gotten a bad reputation the past couple of years, and that is largely because we have forgotten how to be slow in our processes in order to allow our foods to fully benefit us and become digestible. My friend Esther Emery had some video time with our other friend Angela who has been teaching us all how we can come to a full appreciation of wheat through adding back in the steps that have been removed through commercially processed wheat or bread. Check out their video here.

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My sourdough starter was recently resurrected from certain death. This household has been a crazy whirlwind of all things that take all time. Which resulted in the neglect of my starter. I was doing so well at caring for it, I even took it on a two week trip this past summer! That is where it ended and was forgotten. But, thankfully I have this really great book (listed below) that walked me through what I needed to do to save my wild yeast. I will be honest, I was not a believer that it could be saved. But after following the step-by-step process over the course of a week, my stater is alive and happy in my refrigerator once again!

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This bread was made with natural wild yeast. I used my tried and true Basic Bread Recipe but omitted the commercial yeast. Instead, I used two cups of my sourdough started. When you do this it does add extra liquid not accounted for in the original recipe. You have two choices on how to combat this. A: reduce the liquid by about a cup or B: add more flour.  My chosen method is usually B. The only reason I might choose A, would because I don’t want to increase my dough yield. But with a family a 9, having more dough is never a problem-especially when it is this delicious!

The next thing that is different when baking with wild yeast vs. commercial, is that it takes longer to rise. I have read however that you can reduce the rise time of sourdough bread made with wild yeast by increasing the amount of starter-but I have not experimented with that yet. I am actually very happy to mix up our family bread before I go to bed at night, tuck it into the bread pans covering it with a clean towel, and turning off the kitchen light until the next morning. Yes, this particular method can result in the bread taking up to 12 hours to rise. I only do one rise, as soon as the dough is mixed and kneaded it goes right into the greased pans. The first time I experimented with this method I kept checking to see if it had risen yet, and I was certain that my wild yeast was not alive and happy as it should be to rise bread. But when I returned to it in the morning it had indeed turned into the perfect loaf, ready to bake. To bake, I have been following the advise in Nourishing Traditions (listed below) to bake it at 350* for 1 hour. It comes out beautiful every time! And what a wonderful thing to have the bread for the day done an hour after I have pried my eyes open.

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Not a fan of sourdough? That’s okay, this method could still work for you. If you are using your started at least every other day I have found that the bread is not very sour. Now, if you do enjoy a good sour bread-you should take out the amount of starter for your recipe and let it set for a couple of hours before you use it-or even over night. Adding that fermentation time will give you a more sour bread.

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Right now as I type, this lovely ball of dough is rising upstairs and waiting for me to turn it into  yummy dinner rolls to go with our tummy warming vegetable-beef soup that has also been simmering on the stovetop all afternoon! The rolls where made with my sourdough starter, but due to the time-frame in which I needed them to be edible, I added a wee bit of commercial yeast. My family will be glad that I did, I think they would prefer to eat dinner at 6p.m. not 1 a.m.!

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And in the morning we will get to dive into this bowl of pumpkin muffins that baked and warmed the kitchen today. If I had starter that needed used, I could have put some into this batch of muffins as I sometimes do, but today my starter was busy enough. There are 32 of them, even so, I will need to stand guard that there are some leftover after breakfast for snacking on later. We love muffins around here!

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Don’t forget to check out the titles below and to go watch the awesome video my friends put together! 

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Both of these books can be found easily on Amazon:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (she has a few other titles on my book list as well)

Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast Recipes for Whole Grain Health by Melissa Richardson (she also has another book: The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast of which she recommends reading first if you are new to sourdough. I may get it in the future. The one I ordered is because I was interested in the listed recipes-but it proved to me much more valuable since it saved my starter from being thrown out!)

Check out Esther on her other channel and also on her website as well. She is an amazing woman!

Next week: The benefits of Pig Fat and Porridge……trust me

Four-in-One Bread Recipe

In my opinion, there is nothing better than the  yeasty warm aroma of fresh homemade bread.

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My bread adventure began with a desire to make and indulge in my own yummy breads. Having no experience in baking much at all, I started with a bread maker. While it got the job done, it never really fulfilled my homemade bread craving.

During a visit, I enlisted my sister-in-law to walk me through the steps of bread baking and to share her basic recipe.After several dense loaves and doughy centers, I did succeed at making a delicious loaf of bread. Once, that happened there was no stoping me.

How could such an important staple skill be so forgotten? How quickly mother’s and grandmother’s opted for buying bread instead of making it at home, and thereby neglecting to teach their children that it could be done.

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It was not uncommon long ago before even the advent of the electric oven, that by age 10 girls were tasked with the baking of the family bread. At our house, the ten year old does indeed help, but she has not yet been released to make it on her own. Partially because, I enjoy baking the bread myself so much!

There is something about being able to say “I made that.”.

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For our family of 9 (seven kids, two adults), we need to bake two loaves of bread every other day. Two loaves is the standard recipe amount, so this translates into making bread about three to four times per week. This is also just for our standard-use bread. If we want to have french bread or rolls with a particular meal, then that is made the day of.

Every Friday is Pizza Night!

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While it does take time-it doesn’t take so much time that it isn’t worth it. In fact, when I get into the rhythm, I wonder why I ever buy bread. Of course, there are seasons in life that demand the convience of store-bought. Babies, illness, and remodeling the kitchen are just a few examples of times when we slow our bread baking and supplement with store-bought. Also there is a cost-savings when it come to the grocery budget of a large family.

Here is my most basic of bread recipes that lives in my head always: 

The recipe is a jpeg file photo so you can click and save it or print it easily! If it is difficult to read as-is double click and your device should enlarge it as a photo.

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Next time we will learn all about Sour Dough and the benefits of being patient!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

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little things are sometimes Big.

 

Yesterday I did a small thing-and then realized it was a big thing—

I cleaned the laundry room.

It was in such a state that one could not get in the door let alone to the washer and dryer. This is a bad scenario when you have to do 15o loads of laundry a day-I might be exaggerating just a little, but the concept remains the same. Who wants to go into a room that you can’t see the floor of? My 3 year old son told me he heard a monster in the bathroom sink-it could easily have traveled the water pipes and be lurking in the laundry room. The last thing I need is to encounter a sink-monster when trying to find a clean shirt after being peed on. I am very happy today that the laundry room is clean and can be used in a productive manner again-whithout fear of a sink-monster attack.

This has been the theme of my thoughts of late. We are surrounded by little things that have big impact. Even Jesus taught of small things that have large importance. From the creation of the earth beginning with the basics of things such as light, water and planting the seeds. Then of course when we think “seed” our mind goes  to the parable of the mustard seed that teaches us of faith. We can see a pattern in all of the examples in the Bible that illustrate to us that it is important to have a special reverence towards the seemingly insignificant. 

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The list of things I can make that are small yet largely important in my life is so endless that I can not pick what deserves to be in this article the most. So I will just stick with the most recent discovery of a clean laundry room and leave you to ponder the little big things in your own life.

I will however, bring this topic around a corner and point it towards these little lost skills I am being directed to learn and teach. It has started with knitting, but it doesn’t end there, and each skill is as important as the other.

This description, given in “Our Vanishing Landscape” by Eric Sloane,  makes a great illustration that can be used as a comparison to those things that have been forgotten or un-taught, in that, they can be learned again and the generations after us can indeed benefit.

Imagine a farm abandoned….The summer after cultivation ceases, the plowed fields will have become overgrown with weeds. The next year you will find grass and berry seedlings that have blown in with autumn winds. At the end of five years the fields will be a complete tangle of briars with occasional clumps of birch and juniper from seeds brought in by bird droppings. In ten years these trees will be a head high above the briars and in their shade will be hundreds of tiny oak and maple seedlings. In forty years…..the fields will look like woodlands that had never seen a plow. Fire or insects and disease may decimate this second-growth forest, or winds may blow it down, but it will miraculously build itself back again….

This little thing of teaching how to use traditional skills for our benefit today-could be a big thing.

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It could mean that our children and grandchildren know how to survive.

Without (enter large chain store name here).

 
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A little skill now, could be life-altering later. 

 

Next Month…

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The topic will be “slow food”.  This differs from my original lesson plan for 2016. It was going to be the topic for November but yesterday I started a rescue mission for my sourdough start that has been neglected and so it is perfect timing. In the past, we have successfully made all the bread our family needs from scratch-with little effort. Bread isn’t all we will learn, so make sure to follow by email (click the button on the sidebar) so you can get next weeks articles! I will be sharing recipes too!

Thanks for learning with me about what we can do to give “New Life to Old Traditions” this past month!

Heidi

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You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

Seven Pairs of Mittens

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (Proverbs 31:21)

If you are a Christian woman, it is likely that you are familiar with the description of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.

I used to read that chapter of scripture and be in awe. This woman that is described was very much a fictional character in my mind. How could she do so much?

Now I know different. I no longer see unreachable goals when I read those versus. There are tangible and obtainable activities in the list of virtues. But only after my heart and mind was enlightened by the Holy Ghost. Showing me that homemaking is a high calling given to us from God.

I might see the virtues as attainable now, but that doesn’t mean I think it is an easy task or that it is simple for me to do.  I have to take baby steps.

Last winter I made some lovely little thrummed mittens for my daughter. They are knit with regular acrylic yarn, but the thrums are wool roving. I hadn’t ever really thought of knitting mittens before.

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A pattern for this and an article all about what “thrums” are will likely emerge sometime this winter. Be sure to let me know you are interested in the comments and that will give me motivation to do it!

These cozy gloves kept my little girls hands so warm! It was amazing! The kids would go outside to play and her fingers would be the only ones that the cold had not gotten to yet. And remember- they were not knit with pure wool. Lanolized wool would have been water resistant and even warmer!

This year I have a tangible goal: To knit all of my  kids a pair of mittens-and hopefully myself.

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This photo is already out-dated…how does that happen?!? The baby is now almost 2 and my oldest is 15!

There are seven children. Counting the ones I made last year (even though they don’t meet my new standards of wool they still keep fingers warm!), I have two pairs finished and one that needs pieced together still. So that is almost 3 completed pairs of mittens. I think I can do this! Then as the Proverb at the top of this article stated,  I won’t need to be afraid of the snow for my household. It also combats this virtue in the 27th verse:

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

My hand will surely be busy these next couple of months!

And like the multi-tasker that I am, this goal has had duel purpose. I get to teach a Mitten Workshop beginning next week. For this I have been working up a fabulous pattern that I will share here as soon as I finish testing it out.

Here is a sneak peek:

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Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

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