Monday, February 27, 2012

Homemaker or Desperate Housewife?!?

Long time no see I know! I started a weight-loss challenge on New Years Day and it requires me to blog twice a week on it or be kicked out. I like most of the modern world have only so much time in the day so I laid this blog aside for a little bit. I might not be back in full blogging swing but I'm at least here!

I was working on orders for fruit and veggie baskets today and someone posted a status update on Facebook (where I get the orders from) which said " Productive morning! We've done some school work, baked a wheat loaf, wheat sandwich rolls, cookies, and biscuits. Chicken stock is working on it's own. The house smells amazing!" That comment got me thinking... I have very productive days and then sometimes I have days where I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. Regardless of the days outcome I'm working daily to improve the lives of my loved ones. I'm working to stretch our dollar farther than humanly possible, I'm working to become more self sufficient and not rely on the big box stores to meet our needs.... I'm WORKING! I'm working on being a Homemaker not a Desperate Housewife!

So with my weight-loss challenge being so fresh in my mind, and all the motivation and support I have received from it I thought I might issue a Homemakers Challenge here! Here is the best part.... you make your OWN goals for what you would like to accomplish in YOUR homemakers journey! No following me, or jump through this hoop and that hoop. Just making progress in your own home on the things that directly affect you and your family.  It could be learning a new skill like baking bread, or seriously addressing your food budget and learning how to stick to it, or heck for those with several small children it could be making sure the kids toilet stays flushed! You would need to link up once a week and post something on your blog with pictures showing what you accomplished this week! No goal to big or to small.

So what do you think? Any working mamas out there who could use a little encouragement and a gentle nudge now and then?!? Come on it's only 10 weeks... you can do it! You're already working so you might as well have a little fun while doing it!

Leave a comment here or send me a message on Facebook or email if interested!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Do You Do What You DO?

I was posting on my weight loss blog today and one of my blogger friends asked why we made everything from scratch.  "Was it a philosophy of life or is it just because you like to have it all self made?", she asked.  I began to explain that here in the U.S. we have one of the lowest food CPIs but our food was total garbage and even it was on the rise. Our meat is raised on concrete farms where the cow stands hoof deep in manure and never sees a blade of grass and certainly doesn't eat it. Once our meat is slaughtered it is then soaked in ammonia to kill all the bacteria that has taken over the animal due to poor care at the mass farms.  This technique has made it possible to save the scrap portions that had previously been rated for dog food and now they are made into hamburgers for all our favorite fast food restaurants, including our children's school lunches! Think I'm making this up? You can read for yourself here, here, and here.  Unfortunately it doesn't stop there. Our bread has zero nutrients when they are done with it and has to be fortified just to have half the nutrients of fresh ground wheat bread. Our milk is tainted with antibiotics and rBGH and then pasteurized to kill all the bad bacteria present, again, due to poor care for the animals. The sad part is the the pasteurization process kills all the good bacteria that is beneficial to we humans who drink it. So basically we are drinking a product that does us little good.  And the list goes on....

Raw milk from our local farm.

Notice she is a free range cow able to eat grass at her leisure and is not hooked up to a milking machine for hours on end.

Most people have one of two opinions. The first is "I don't even want to know. It taste good and that's all I care about".  The second is "What am I supposed to do, quit my job and learn to make, grow, and raise everything myself?"

I don't think either of those positions are correct. I understand we live in a modern world and most people would not want to live the farm life. That doesn't mean you deserve to eat ammonia soaked, feces filled meat, contaminated veggies, and chicken filled with so many hormones to grow larger birds in a shorter amount of time that they can only take a few steps before their legs give out and they fall! We have a right to fresh, safe, nutrient-dense food!
A pork shoulder roast from the local butcher.

Cooking the roast in the rotisserie to make pulled pork for dinner.
Some might say "What can I do?"  There are many things you can do, but my first suggestion would be to educate yourself. After a short period of time you will begin to see how corrupt our food system is and you will want to find a better way for you and your family. The second step is to take your hard earned dollars somewhere else. Our grocery stores all sale the same products. You will not get better meat from a high end grocery store unless you go to an organic-only store such as Whole Foods.  If you can't afford to shop at a store such as that for everything (I know I can't) then find a small local butcher shop who is willing to answer your questions on processing, where their meat is raised, by who, what the animal eats, etc. If you don't have a butcher in your town look for small farmers. If all else fails find the closest one to you and make a day trip to get what you will need till the next time you can make the drive.

This is the amount of fresh produce Racey & I got in one day for volunteering at our farmers market co-op.
Begin to replace the filler foods you normally serve with fresh vegetables. Take all the snack food in the pantry and replace them with fresh fruit and a few home baked items. You have options, you just have to choose them.

Dehydrating pineapple for trail mix, pizza topping, or just to snack.
I remember when I was a young mom, my son started suffering from migraines and ADHD symptoms. Everything I read said to quit feeding him processed foods, caffeine, wheat, dairy, etc. till I could find the cause of his issues. I was so young and ill-informed I had no idea how to do it. I can remember lamenting to his father that I had no clue how to achieve this. All I knew how to feed my family was what the grocery store sold and it ALL was pre-packaged foods and easy to cook meats. Time has passed and my son is now almost 17 and I have finally found a way to feed him without killing him. The only problem is that now he, like most of America, is accustom to crap food and it takes him a while to actually develop a taste for real food.  Just the other night I pulled a crab, artichoke, and spinach cream cheese dip from the fridge and placed it on the counter with some crackers for Racey to munch on while I was finishing dinner.  McClane wandered by and asked what it was. I told him knowing he wouldn't try it, and after a few minutes he said "This is another one of those foods that, if you just eat it, and don't look at it tastes REALLY good."  Racey and I both laughed and agreed with him.

McClane was fussing at me for taking pictures of him making butter from the cream off our fresh milk.
So I guess my question for you is, "Why do you do what you do?"  Do you chose to stick your head in the sand and ignore the reality of our food crisis?  Do you think you can't afford to eat any better than you currently are, or are you ready to take charge of your health, your food, and your money and demand only the best for you and your family?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back to Basics

Sorry I haven't blogged in several weeks, but I started an new blog with my weight loss challenge and between the challenge, that blog, and our new edition of Ms. Cooper Annabelle, I have been swamped. 

Back to Basics

Part of homesteading is learning how to take care of yourself and your belongings without running to an outside source. With that principal in mind I decided to attack our large area rug that needed to be cleaned. When Mckenna moved back home she brought her two dogs with her and for a week or two we had issues with not letting the dogs out in time so of course they chose the rug instead of all the easy to clean hardwood floor that surrounded the rug!

I first laid the rug in direct sunlight to help sanitize and remove the bad odors. It's winter here so I didn't have to worry about the sunlight fading the rug, if fading is a concern for you then only place in direct sunlight for a few hours at a time.

After a few hours, I sprinkled baking soda liberally over the rug and swept the powder into the rug.  Baking soda is a natural odor absorber and you don't have to worry about it damaging the fibers of the rug. I again let the rug sit in the sun for several hours.

If you are trying to freshen only then you can vacuum the rug several times and maybe place over a fence or something similar and beat the remaining powder out of the rug. Becuase our rug had been peed on, I wanted to wash it as well. I took the garden hose and sprayed from the top down for several minutes. You can look on the back of the rug to confirm all stains have been removed. Once clean I let it air dry for a day or so. Once the rug is back in it's place vacuum one last time to fluff the fibers back into place.

*You should always check the label of your rug before using and cleaning products or water.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Getting Fit On A Budget

Over this last year we examined several issues concerning the way we lived, the way we ate, and the way we spent our money, and in doing so we have discovered changes that needed to be made in each area.  We tackled the issues one at a time and when felt like we had it in check with our new goals we would move on to the next item on the list.

Well I'm glad to say we have gotten to the point where we can address our fitness levels. Over the last few years life has really taken a toll on us.  Our stress level has been maxed out and we have used most of our energy just surviving day to day.  Not anymore!  We are taking back our health in the same manner we took back our life, our food, and our money.

In order to do this I need to lose weight and increase my strength, where Racey just needs to maintain his weight and increase his activity level.  How do we plan to do this while still living a frugal life you ask?

This is how:
  • I will follow a low calorie meal plan eating REAL food.  No diet bars or shakes, no 100 calorie packs, no frozen diet meals, just real whole food.
There are plenty of free online fitness sites that help you track your food, water, exercise, etc. They are easy to join and very user friendly. I'm using My Fitness Pal if you want to join and be one of my buddies!
  • I will cut back my carbonated drinks to 1 a day and drink more water.
  • I will exercise three to five times a week.
If you have a gym membership that's great, but that doesn't fit into our frugal budget.  Plus, with only one car, I need to find things I can do here at home.  We have very nice mountain bikes we bought several years ago (when we were less broken than we are now) so Racey and I are going to start riding again.  For many years I've wanted to learn to do Yoga, but when I had the time I didn't have the money and vise versa.  Sticking with my frugal goals I found a great online yoga class that is totally free!  At this point they have over 100 lessons available by the same teacher so I should be good for awhile.  Last, but not least, I have two perfectly working feet I can walk with.  I certainly always keep frugality in mind, but I did buy a stability ball to work with as well for under $10.00.
  • I will set trackable goals and make myself accountable for what I do, and take credit for things I don't do!
I have dedicated myself to a online weight-loss challenge.  I have a partner who I support through the challenge and she in return supports me.   In addition, other challenge buddies stop by your blog and comment and share things with you about how their trials and tribulations are going, which is pretty good support if you ask me. Did I mention that's free too?

As for Racey, he is so happy to have me outside and in a good mood that any activity I come up with he is game for!

This weekend we hiked Kennesaw Mtn. (just over a mile +800 ft. elevation) on Saturday which burned 1213 calories.   Then, on Sunday, we rode our mountain bikes at Blankets Creek in Cherokee County with a calorie burn total of 1025.  All of these are frugal, free activities that don't require a paid membership to something or somewhere.  Besides, would you rather walk on a treadmill while watching TV or see the scenery in these pictures?

This weekend the weather is going to be nice again so I think we will go Geocaching (click the link to find out what Geocaching is all about) up north a little and either hike Kennesaw Mtn. again or find another trail at the bike park.  Needless to say we will be outside enjoying life!

Hope to see you around!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from Our Urban Homestead

 Here on the urban homestead front it's been kinda slow these last few weeks.  I think for awhile we were learning something new each day and had more to share than any one human could listen to, so we started blogging.  At this point our energy is focused more on living what we have learned, and not caving into laziness and falling back into the convenience trap.

With the holidays being the busy time they are this has been a challenge, but all in all we've stayed true to our core values and came out on top.  I find the two major areas that tend to get out of control are gift lists and food.  Our gift list wasn't very long but did have a handful of family on it and all but one gift was made by hand in our home.   However, since I wasn't out shopping all day like in years past I was able to avoid the fast food dinner trap.  On Christmas day I realized I didn't have any Bisquick and McClane had specifically requested sausage balls as one of our menu items.  I have a recipe for homemade Bisquick, but like most moms on Christmas day, I was too busy cooking to fool with it.  Racey offered to go to Walgreen's and grab a box along with crackers to replace the ones he ate on accident so I figure what the heck... it's Christmas day for crying out loud!  As you can imagine, they didn't have any so I was forced to take the time to make it myself and I'm glad I did.  It was so easy and only took less than ten minutes start to finish, which was less time than it took Racey to put his shoes on and drive to the store.  In my rush I forgot to take pictures of the 'Homemade Bisquick' so here are the directions.

10 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. salt
2 c. shortening, that does not require refrigeration
Combine all ingredients except shortening in large bowl. With pastry blender cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in airtight container, up to 6 months. Use as you would any other baking mix. Makes 12 1/2 cups.
May the New Year bring you and your family many blessings and may you grow in strength and knowledge!

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