Spring Cleaning & Blog Remodel

Hello!  Gentle readers!

You may have noticed we are up to something on the homestead this week.  I have been working on a little blog remodel and some spring cleaning.  I have been feeling a bit of change coming on for a while, and it felt like the pull of spring was the perfect time to birth a new format/theme for our little homestead blog.  I really want our homestead to be a breath of fresh air for all of you lovely readers.  I want you to feel that you have been here with us, walking through pasture and wildflower woods, sharing the seasonal cooking in the homestead kitchen, gathering eggs right alongside us, and joining us on all of our homegrown adventures.  I want to create a space for peace and breathing room for all of you Homesteaders at Heart to enjoy.  So please come on in through the backdoor, excuse the dust and piles as we de-clutter, reorganize, and create here on the homestead.  Have fun exploring all the new nooks and crannies while I continue to prepare the virtual homestead for you all.

Coffee’s on, and you are so very welcome to stay awhile.

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Homesteading with Heart, Just exactly what does that mean?

Homesteading.  Urban Homesteading.  Modern-Day Homesteading.  Backyard Homesteading.  Sustainable Homesteading.  Self-Sufficient.  Back- to-Basics.  Back-to-the-land.  Agrarian Culture.  Simple Living.

These are just some of the keywords that are being used to describe the movement that is sweeping our nation and others.  Perhaps it is America’s pioneering spirit that is energizing the wave of people, men and women, entire families to seek an alternative lifestyle.  Perhaps it is the long-term economic downturn, of which is neither a recession, nor a depression, of which it remains nameless, but exists nonetheless.  Perhaps it is the unfulfilled restless nature of those who have been working for the man, without fulfilment-money can’t buy happiness phenomenon.  Perhaps it is the generations who have lived watching families fall apart, people succumb to the almighty dollar, the temptation of being happy….if only they had a little more fill-in-the-blank_________.

Perhaps it is just time.

Homestead, as defined by Webster:  noun.  A house, esp. a farm, together with the outbuildings.  A tract of land granted under the homestead act.  2.  To settle land and farm it…to settle land and claim it.

Homesteading as defined by Wikipedia:  Broadly defined, homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency.  It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale.

Time to get back to basics, back to the land, back to what built this country.  The self-reliant spirit of those who pioneered before us.  People are seeking fulfillment, the meaning to life.  Living with all the comforts you can buy apparently does not nourish the soul, as many, many professional, educated, people are leaving the work place, leaving corporate America to pursue a slow, simple, self-sufficient life where what it means to live fully, each and every day trumps the almighty dollar.

The dirt under your fingernails, tired back, whole food raised on your own land by your own hands kind of life.

This is Homesteading.

There is a pull not only on heartstrings, but at soul level longing, something tidal coming.  People, men and women alike are feeling it magnetic like a tide.  A coming home if you will, a longing to return to roots, to perhaps set root not yet established.

 Homecoming to the homestead. 

Slowing to taste life, straight out of a garden tilled by own hands.  Sweetness warmed round by sun, juice streaming down chins joyful.

To taste life straight from the Ball canning jar.

To craft a life from your hands, from your life, on your own terms, not someone else’s clock.  To start from scratch, chicken scratch to be exact.  To wake each sunrise to a crowing of the glory of days.  Not the dull droning of empty sameness.  To walk out to the coop barefeet, damp grass and sunshine, to gather warm eggs for breakfast.  Awaking over golden yellow yolks to a path less traveled.  Life lived in full color.  Awakening all senses, seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting, hearing as though newborn, stirring the soul.

Warm milk in glass jars, warm bread on oven racks, sweet jelly picked by hand with loving devotion, satisfaction deep within.  Living daily in rhythms synced with creation. Natural routine playing out musical as the sunrises, feeling it in your bones, not just the blaring of the alarm sending you into survival mode.  An emergency looking to escape.

Notes of  living energy, emotion engaged, and moving with you, moving through you as the day.  The rhythm of rain on a steel roof beats with hearts just inside barn doors. Old wood framing views of vibrant damp green, electric and alive, lightening quickening muscle, feeling the dampness splash up, smelling sweet hay and manure, as warm milk steadily fills jars. Warm, damp skin felt deeply alive as toes dance through puddles to rain drops staccato rhythms.

Yeasty goodness wafts from ovens raising spirits as dough.

Days cyclical, calendars marked upon body upon soul,  upon earth’s seasons. Roots move down steadily as sun shines from above. Stillness comes as melody playing softly in golden sunlight refracting prismatic through leaves.  Dancing joy as evening graces.  Sweet time marked beautiful around eyes gazing gauzy love.  Veiled thin through years love shines through sheer streaming from hearts.  Living raw, open, fully alive, experiencing all there is, all life is, drinking it in on parched soul.  Filling as glass, soul washed baptismal clean awaiting another glorious crowing to mark the rhythm of days to come.

This is Homesteading with Heart.

Intentional living, radically pursuing self-sufficiency, creative living, and freedom.  A holistic lifestyle of nurturing body soul and spirit living in cooperative harmony with creation. Walking barefoot in grace, dirty toes standing upon grace as garden soil, leaning into seasons and cycles, confidently honoring personal independence with head and heart held high, stepping forward in faith to learn the art of intentional living.

Transforming a life into living.


Shared with: The Barn Hop



Homemade Instant Oatmeal

Sounds a bit like an anomaly.  But seriously, why didn’t I think of that.  It is kind of a no-brainer, but we don’t do instant oatmeal all that often, minus the rare camping treat.  We usually do steel-cut oats in the crock pot, or homemade granola with cream. That said the boys relish their rare occasions of instant oatmeal so I thought I would whip some up today.

I stumbled across this recipe on a blog I truly enjoy.  Carmella and her family live in a 665sq ft. cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.  She has 3 boys and a dog, and a loving husband too, of course. They made a radical life change, deciding it was time to live with less. Intentional living, simple joy.  Go read her blog.  Share in their journey.  You will be glad you did.  Click here for a breath of fresh mountain air.

Have I ever mentioned that I live in a 900sq ft. home?  There is a lot of talk about house sizes these days.  Did you know that the average American home has tripled in size square footage wise since the 1950′s?  That is an interesting enough idea, but then you add in the fact that family size has diminished at an amazing rate, it leaves a girl wondering, what do we need all this house for?  Certainly not for people.  Perhaps pets? No, I don’t think Fido needs his own room.  It is easy to fall into the trap of big+house=success.  The average American house is 2500sq ft.  Wow.

665sq ft. or even 900sq ft. looks radical in comparison.  Who knew? Perhaps it is.  Radically saying NO to the norm.  Radically refusing to play the success game, and the debt game.

Radically saying YES to family, to JOYFUL living, to debt-free, soon. 

I will be honest, in the past we have considered adding-on, or building new, bigger, but I am so very glad we didn’t.  Living in a small home comes with big blessings.  At one time, our four boys shared one room.  Two shared a bed even, because they liked to be close to each other when they were small.  They are much bigger now, and still choose to share a room.  Our children know how to get along with others.  Does this mean that they don’t fight?  Certainly not.  But it does mean that they know how to stick by each other until they work it out.  Day in day out we are on top of each other.  Home educating this year has brought us around the kitchen table as a family many hours of the day, did I wonder how this would work in a small house?  Of course I did.  Did I wish I had a home school room like so many others out there on the world-wide web? NOPE.  Being elbow to elbow, nose to nose, day in and day out is what makes a family stronger.

I wouldn’t change.a.thing.


A beautiful result of a small home is a close-knit family.  We share in each and every joy, and sorrow, there really is no escaping it, not that we would ever choose to.


Homemade Instant Oatmeal

6 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

2/3 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 T. cinnamon

1 1/4 t. salt

dried or dehydrated fruit

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread oats on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to toast evenly.  Cool slightly.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine 4 c. of the toasted oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Pulse until the mixture resembles a rough powder.  Add remaining oats and pulse once or twice.
  • Stir in dried fruit.  Pour mixture into an air-tight jar or container with a lid.
  • To make oatmeal, pour 1/2 c. instant oatmeal mixture into a cereal bowl, add 3/4 c. boiling water, and stir.  Add cream or milk, and a bit of honey, or fresh fruit and nuts, if you like.
  • Homemade instant oatmeal keeps in a covered container at room temperature for 4 weeks, in the refrigerator for 3 months, or in the freezer for 6 months.  (Ours is almost gone already…it’s that good!)


A couple of thoughts….

I did not add any dried fruit to our base instant oatmeal mixture that way the boys can add what they like to their individual bowls…coconut, walnuts, raisins, dried apples, fresh fruit, etc.

Also this is a large serving of oatmeal…I would say adult serving, so if your kiddos are little, cut it in half by using 1/4 c. instant oatmeal and about 1/3 c. of boiling water.

Enjoy Your Family & Your Homemade Instant Oatmeal


Really, it's winter?!

You Know You’re A Homesteader When….


 You know you’re a Homesteader When….

You watch chickens instead of TV.

You read seed catalogs instead of People magazine.

You bake bread more than once per week.

You cook in your kitchen, not decorate it.

You own more mason jars than you can count, and it is still. NEVER. enough.

You obsess think about what barnyard animal you should add to the mix next.

You have various live and active things fermenting on your countertops.

Your kids think that living science in the kitchen is normal….

You are passionate about raw milk…and cream…and ice cream… and yogurt…and cheese…and all things homemade from home dairy.

You have dirt under your fingernails during growing season.

Your life revolves around seasons….planting/sowing season, growing/watering season (these two could really be lumped together as garden season, is what usually happens around here) harvesting the garden season, hunting season, butchering season.

You have chores to do.

You know that ‘canning’ does not mean opening various cans of whatever for supper.

You have an apron and you are not afraid to use it.

You are home more than you are away.

You have a chicken bucket in your kitchen.

There is a compost pile (or 2)  somewhere on your property.

Your children may or may not have been spotted skinny-dipping in the spring pond in your front pasture. ahem.

You make do.

You use it up, or wear it out.

You make your own chemical-free household cleaners.

You make your own laundry soap.

You make more gifts than you buy.

Your year-round fitness plan is cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.

You make your own deodorant, hairspray, and beauty products.

You have more essential oils, tinctures, and home remedies in the cupboard than over the counter, or prescription medications.


You have a freezer full of homegrown meats, and home cured bacon and hams.

You have a canning room somewhere in your house.

You smoke meat for fun.

You have homemade wine, beer, or ginger ale on the shelf in the canning room.

You may or may not have been seen hauling goats, through town, with their heads out the backseat window in your ’91 Mazda Protege…that still gets 35 miles to the gallon even though it hardly has any paint left on the body, and sounds like the sweetest Harley you have ever heard.

You may or may not have diapered your goats for the ride. :)

If any one of these things resonates with you, you may be a homesteader, or on the path to becoming one!

Shared with:

The Barn Hop on


Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream

Rich cream with hints of almond, chocolate, and vanilla steeped in smooth irish whiskey evokes a feeling of sweet comfort.  Long, cold winter evenings call for a soothing way to unwind.  So make a pot of strong freshly ground coffee, whip up some homemade Bailey’s, throw another log on the fire, put on your long johns and pull up your wool socks, it’s time to get comfy.

Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream

4 fresh hen eggs*

1/2 t. almond extract

1 1/2 t. homemade vanilla extract

2 t. chocolate syrup

2 t. instant coffee granules, or espresso powder

1 c. sweetened condensed milk

1 1/4 c. good irish whiskey, I like Bushmills

1 c. heavy whipping cream

Place all ingredients into blender jar.  Blend on high for approx. 1 min., till well blended.  Pour into mason jars, (won’t quite fit into a quart jar, use a quart and a half, or a quart and a pint/jelly jar).  Store in the back of the refrigerator on a shelf where it is the coldest.  Shake before serving.  Keeps 4-6 weeks in the fridge.  Serve with coffee, or straight up over ice. 

*A note about the recipe:  ALWAYS use fresh, farm raised hen eggs, NOT store-bought!  There are no worries about your eggs if they are fresh and properly handled from the get-go.

As always use the best possible ingredients that your homestead budget will allow. 

….A few quick thoughts….

Homemade Bailey’s can also be enjoyed as a non-alcoholic drink, simply omit the whiskey!  My kids love this for a special treat :)

The non-alcoholic version also makes a decadent coffee creamer!

Shared with:

The Barn Hop on The Prairie Homestead


Simple Goodness

Simple Goodness: Strawberry Jam

Oh the sweet taste of summer! Strawberry, in all its glorious goodness, sweet and tangy, surreal in January.  We enjoyed an afternoon of jam making waaayy back in July, and looking back at the pics I thought perhaps, I would share the simple recipe I enjoy using.  I make mostly freezer jam on our homestead.  It preserves the wholesome freshness of each individual berry.  Because it is not cooked, I also believe it is the best way to preserve vitamin content, and keep the berry itself as true to origin as possible.  Resulting in a wholesome, holistic way to preserve.


Pomona’s Pectin is a natural choice for our family.  It contains only natural fruit pectin, nothing added, with no preservatives.  This is the way I like to roll on the homestead.  Simple, pure, and honest.  Berries, honey or sugar to taste, and pectin derived from citrus peel.  Simple goodness.  The sweet joyous taste of summer is allowed to shine through!


I follow the No-Cook Freezer Directions that are included in the box of Pomona’s Pectin.  I will share them with you today.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

4 c. mashed strawberries

1/4 c. lemon or lime juice

1/2 c. – 1 c. honey or 3/4c. – 2 c. evaporated cane juice (sugar)

3/4 c. water

3 t. pectin powder

4-12 t. calcium water


Before you start jamming:

Make calcium water

1.  Put 1/2 t. white calcium powder, (included in the box with the pectin) and 1/2 c. water in a small clear jar with lid.   I use a small pint, or jelly jar.  Shake or stir till disolved.

2.  Store in refrigerator for future batches of jam.  Discard if you eventually see mold,  I never have….

3.  Shake well before using.

Now you are ready to jam

1.  Wash and rinse freezer containers of desired size.  Be sure they are airtight.  I use pint-sized canning jars on our homestead, a jelly jar will do as well.  Be aware that Ziploc bags leak, don’t ask me how I know about cleaning sticky jam out of the bottom of a freezer….

2.  Wash and prepare strawberries.  Remove hulls, and any soft spots.  Place berries in a large bowl.  Mash berries with a potato smasher.  Keep it simple.

3.  Add lemon or lime juice, use what you have, both are delicious.

4.  Measure honey, or evaporated cane juice.  Both are lovely.  When I use honey, I use about 1/2 c.  When I use evaporated cane juice, I use 3/4 c.  Start sweetening by adding a smaller amount, tasting, and adjusting to your family’s taste, there is never a shortage of jam tasting volunteers in a homestead kitchen!  That is the beauty of Pomona’s Pectin, you do not have to add a certain amount of sugar to set your jam or jelly like other products, you only use how much you need to allow for the sweetness you desire, the calcium water sets the pectin.

5.  Bring 3/4 c. water to a boil.  Carefully pour into food processor/blender, add 3 t. pectin powder, vent lid and blend 1-2 min. until all powder is dissolved.  Take care when working with boiling water.

6.  Add hot liquid pectin mixture to bowl of mashed fruit.  Stir until well blended.

7.  Add 4 t. calcium water from jar, stir well.  Jell should appear.  If not, continue adding 1 t. calcium water and stirring well until jell appears.  I usually have to add up to 12 t. of calcium water to my jam before jell appears.  I don’t know if our hard water affects this, or if it is the fruit, but nevertheless this is my experience.  Jell will be softer than cooked jam.

8.  Fill jars/containers to within 1/2″ of top.  Put on lids.  Store in freezer immediately.  Keep in refrigerator to eat after thawing.  Lasts about a week in refrigerator.  If you do not go through a lot of jam, use small jars to avoid waste.  Because there are no preservatives in the jam it does not last as long as a jam or jelly made with a product like sure jell, or certo.

If you happen to have any berries in the freezer that you didn’t have time to get to during the busy harvest of summer gardens, a cold winter day is a perfect time to add a little sunshine by making jam.

The simple goodness of strawberry freezer jam brings a taste of summer, a burst of sweetness on tongue, and a smile to faces that light up blustery January days.

Enjoy the blessings!


Sweet Summertime, A Season in Photographs

Winds roar whipping whirling dervishes against panes as we cozy up on the homestead in blizzard conditions.  Somewhere in the distance I can hear the barn door banging in the wind, as treetops bend.  ‘Tis the season for homemade afghans cocooning, woolen socks and mittens for toasty toes and fingers.  All are shored up tight, riding out the winter weather.  Having a little longing in my soul for some sunshine, I decided to work with some pics from last summer’s homestead goings-on.  So here it is, sweet summertime on the homestead!

Simple Goodness

Summer berry pickin’


Strawberry bed makeover


mmmm….waiting on jam


Happy surprise, volunteer oregano


Pretty potted flowers


Garden’s up & growin’


First summer cukes on vine


Sugar snap peas in bloom


 so sweet


tomatoes on vine


The RedNeck Smoker strikes again!

…..gotta luv smoked meat!


This is what happens when you bring four, oh wait, five creative man-minds together on the homestead waiting for the meat to smoke…


I believe in the end it was close to 20 ft. high!  They used a sixteen foot ladder, and went as high as they could reach, my oldest son is 6’2″!!!!







God is Good!


Shared with:

The Barn Hop