Monday, September 19, 2016

Fall Preparations - Pantry

One of the greatest assets in the winter (or any time of year) is a well stocked pantry.  With summer coming to a close, I am stepping up the effort to get the pantry fully stocked by November.  Today, I am canning up some chicken breasts and lean beef that I found on sale.  Canning the meat is super easy to do and will give you a fast meal prep later on.

When canning the chicken, I most often will have it cut up into chunks and fill the jar, adding chicken broth as well.  This becomes a base for many future meals.  I use it in soups or stews throughout the winter season.  Sometimes, I will shred the chicken and can it along with BBQ sauce.  This is a great filling for sandwiches!  You can also make up some jars of chicken, diced up to bite size pieces, and can them up with some vegetables to make a base for chicken pies.  When canning chicken, I never throw out extra broth.  I fill jars with any extra broth and process them as well to be used later.

The beef that I am doing today is chunked up like stew meat.   Placed in jars with beef broth, this will be used later on for soups and stews.  You can add veggies to the beef to make a beef stew or beef pies.  Just as with the chicken, I often will take shredded beef and can it with BBQ sauce.  My husband likes to take those on the truck with him to use in his meals on the road.

I have been following a clean eating meal plan over the past few months.  This hasn't changed my canning plans very much.  Much of what I home can is easily worked into the clean eating meals.  I just use a different recipe for the soups and such.  It is all about adaptability.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Homeschool and Simplifying Our Lives

A lot has been happening here on the homestead.  Winter preps have begun.  Firewood is being delivered and stacked for our woodstove.  I am also canning jars of soups and stews to full the pantry.  We bought buckets from a bakery (the type they get their frosting in) to store flour and other dry goods.  Soon, our pantry will be well supplies for the winter.

Homeschooling has begun.  The kids are slowly getting back into that routine.  It is a fun and busy time.

This week, I am beginning to work on the crochet blankets.  The weather is finally cool enough that I won't be too hot while working on them.  I am making 16" blocks that will be crocheted together to form the finished blankets.

After having made a crochet baby blessing dress, I was asked about making them to sell.  I am seriously considering it.  Baby items are fun to do and seem to sell pretty well.  It would make a nice little income for me.

This year, the kids will be working on earning activity awards through the Keepers of the Faith program again.  It is a fun program where the kids earn the awards through learning new skills and academics.  We've used the program before and the kids learn a lot.  The awards are pins (badges) that they display on banners hanging on their bedroom walls.  Each time they earn these pins, the kids have so much pride in what they have accomplished.

My simplifying of our home and lives is a continuing process.  We are finding that through simplifying and scaling back our possessions, we are becoming more at peace and free. 

I look forward to the day that our home contains only the essentials.  It will be faster and easier to maintain, leaving us with even more time to enjoy each other as a family.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Autism Service Dog

Over the past month, our family has been making a change that has had a profound impact on our 8yr old son.  We now have a service dog, Kiki. 

We found Kiki at a local animal shelter.  She is a German Shepherd/Pyrenees mix with a sweet personality.  She was 5 months old when we found her.  Our son has loved her from the beginning.

The day that we brought her home, we stopped at a PetsMart store to buy a few supplies for her.  She walked in on a leash with our son helping to hold her leash.  Typically, Little Man gets easily overwhelmed by stimuli at stores.  On this day, he was so focused on Kiki that he had no meltdowns or overstimulation issues.  What a huge improvement!

I began obedience training Kiki right away.  Her primary tasks are to 1) comfort Little Man to prevent meltdowns and 2) prevent him from running off.  Kiki had already learned to lay down when we stop walking in a store or other setting away from home.  By doing so, Little Man is unable to wander off.  I hold on to her leash while Little Man does as well.  We have a short leash that connects Little Man to Kiki's harness.  Once laying down, Kiki is too heavy for Little Man to move.  This is how she prevents him from wandering.

We took a trial run with Kiki at a grocery store yesterday.  She performed great.  She was very obedient and her presence made it possible for Little Man to walk through the store without any issues.  He stayed by her side and had no upset from the stimuli.

At home, we have already witnessed a difference in Little Man as well.  He is much calmer, having fewer meltdowns, and has become more vocal.  He is still nonverbal, but he is vocalising in his own way with greater frequency.  He has even begun to echo a word now and then. 

The training of Kiki is continuing daily. We know that it takes time to fully train a service dog.  I've trained dogs in the past, so am well versed in what needs to be taught.  I also know trainers that I can call upon if needed to help, should there be a need.

In the short time that Kiki has been in our home, she has made a profound difference in our son's life.  I am so excited for him and cannot wait to see what the future holds for him and Kiki.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Homeschool Preps

It's that time of year again.  Where did the summer vacation go? Seems it went by so fast this time.

I've been looking at the upcoming school term and planning out the curriculum for this year.  I also have been designing a bullet journal layout to use as a lesson planner.  I haven't decided on a layout yet, but am going with a weekly format.  To keep things simple, the kids' lessons will be color coded.  One color for Little Miss and a second color will be used for Little Man.

I am also starting a journal for our puppy's training.  This will help me track what the dog has learned as we go along. Later on, when we are working with a dog trainer, the trainer will be able to see the progress and better understand what is still needed.  The puppy is a 5 month old German Shepherd/Pyrenees mix.  She is going to be trained to be our son's service animal.  Kiki is already displaying a natural instinct to do the exact tasks that is needed for Little Man.  This is going to make the training all the easier as we go along.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bullet Journaling

Well, thanks to author, Stacey Shannon, I have been bitten by the Bullet Journaling bug.  I have been playing around with various layouts that I found on Pinterest.  I love that I can finally custom design the layouts to fit my needs.  Store bought planners rarely meet the demands that I require.  They either have features that I don't use or lack ones that would be beneficial to me.

Bullet journals are basically an analog system for organizing your life.  You set the parameters and design the layouts in a way that makes sense to you.

Some people keep very basic pages while others get very artistic in decorating their pages.  It is totally up to what you find works for you.

Once I get my pages worked out, I plan to start posting them to share with others.

Have you tried bullet journaling? How did it work out for you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Homestead Simplicity Has an Etsy Store

I am so excited to announce that I now have an Etsy store called Homestead Simplicity.  Currently, I have a few beaded items and will be adding more very soon.  This new venture is really important to me.  I am looking at ways to earn the money needed to get a dog to train to be our autistic son's service animal.  This will enable me to make and sell handmade items from home.

Here are a couple of the items listed so far.

Autism Awareness charm that can be used on a Vape Pen, cell phone, zipper pull, backpack, hang from a day planner, or placed onto a keyring.

Silver tone metal bookmark about 5 inches long.  The 4-leaf clover design was chosen after thinking about a friend who's children are in 4-H.

Another approximately 5 inches long metal, silver toned bookmark.  This one has a dainty angel charm on it with the word "faith" inscribed on the front.

I will be adding items as I get them made to add to the Etsy shop.  I am currently awaiting the supplies to make cancer survivor/awareness charms,   

Friday, April 8, 2016

They Grow Up Too Fast

Times are changing for our Little Miss. She is seeing the teenage years coming up on her horizons. It is interesting to watch. She has hit that “woman-child” stage in her life. A part of her still likes the fun little girl things. On the other hand, the young woman is showing signs of wanting to come to the forefront.

Lately, she has been telling me that she is ready to donate all of her toys, with the exception of a few special dolls and a couple of stuffed animals. The stuffed animals are 3-4 that her Daddy gave to her. She has two that she especially cuddles when she is missing her Daddy while he is gone on the truck.

Of her own accord, she is bagging up all of her other toys to donate to a thrift store that is run by a church's outreach program. I am leaving it completely up to her, what she keeps and what she gives away. She really hasn't played with the toys for quite some time now. It is good to see her choose to let others have them.

Our little girl now spends more time reading than playing. Like me, she loves to read and can devour a book in no time. We are going to be purchasing an “out of area” library card from the library near where Pookie gets his therapies in the city. That library system is much larger than the ones we have here. We go there nearly every week, either during lunch break between therapies or before heading home when the therapies are done for the day. We can check out up to 50 books at a time. The DVDs and CDs, just like the books, have a generous 2-week loan. This opens up a lot of possibilities for the kids. With homeschooling, we have always loved utilizing the library. We are a family who loves to read. Hubby even has been known to take audio books out on the truck with him so that he can listen as he drives.

At home, Little Miss is starting to want to learn more of the old handcrafts. She wants to crochet and do artistic activities. I love it. Encouraging creativity in kids helps them in their schooling as well as teaching them to think outside of the box. She is also spending more time wanting to help around the house and with me when I am cooking.

While it is a delight to see her grow and blossom, I look at her and a part of me is sad. My baby girl is starting to become a young lady. I am not sure that I am ready for that. I already have 3 children who are now adults. I also have 10 grandchildren, with another soon to be born. The years just seem to have flown by since they were all little. It happens way too soon.