Archive for the ‘Blessed Roots Farm’ Category

Writing goals for this coming year has caused me to be unusually introspective.  Taking time to concentrate on me is really rare.  I have five small children, a husband who works a lot (definitely not complaining!!), a house to run, a business to run, and a homeschool to run.  I am wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend.

Every single one of those things is wonderful and fulfilling and a huge blessing from God – but they can also be draining.  They consume my time, energy, and thoughts.

Sitting down and reading the book Telling Your Time (still available and still highly recommended), forced me to think about what kind of person I want to be in all of those areas.  It also made me realize that setting time aside to do things that help me to be the person I want to be in all of the areas I listed above is not selfish.  It is smart. 

It always felt selfish to me to take time for myself.  Until I realized that taking time for myself refreshes my soul and fills my store-house –  readying me to give abundantly again.

When my soul is refreshed, I am:

  • a more creative and patient mom
  • a more giving, forgiving and gentle wife
  • a more organized, motivated housekeeper
  • a more focused and productive business owner
  • a more thoughtful friend

This is not new advice, I realize.  But for me, it is a new perspective.  I will carve out time for me this year.  Not because I need it.  But because my family does.

How about you?  Do you normally make time to do the things that you love?  What refreshes your soul?

Sharing this post with the ladies at Growing Home and Works For Me Wednesday today!

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Can you tell there are tights on the table?!

I have gotten back into the routine of having my quiet time with the Lord first thing in the morning.  Before everyone is fully awake and needing me.  Before the house is turned upside down by the chaos of the day.  A time when it may truly be quiet, if I am lucky.

Today, I read this verse.  I wanted to share this with all my fellow homeschooling moms, who I know will completely understand.  It made me smile thinking of my own herd.

Proverbs 14:4 “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;  But much increase comes by the strength of an oxen.”

My trough is so not clean.  My house is filled with the daily living of many oxen.  But my heart would be filled with grief without them.  Praise God that is not the case.

My oxen are strong, and they have increased the joy in my life immeasurably.  Thank you, Lord, for the chaos and the mess and the constant tasks of feeding, clothing and discipling my little ones.

Enjoy your day!


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Beautiful Products Created by Mom's Love Rub

Tuesday night, I went to a friend’s house for a class on food dehydrating.  (Well, mostly food – she did include a handy tip about drying out a submerged iphone :).)

The class was taught by Jan Nellis, a local woman passionate about the homesteading skills of the past, and equally passionate about passing on those skills.  My mother did not pass these skills on to me because she did not possess them.  No fault of her own.  They were not passed down to her either.  But, I would like to impart these interests and skills to my four daughters, so I better learn them myself!

When I was invited to this workshop, I figured, “Why not start with dehydrating since Jan is willing to teach me!”  I decided to go because I wanted to spend time with the ladies at the event, and I thought it might motivate me to finally open the dehydrator I inherited about two years ago.

Wow – I was thoroughly impressed with Jan!  She really knows her stuff.

After attending the class, here are my top five reasons I (and you!) need to figure this dehydrating thing out:

1.  Dehydrating is WAY easier than canning!  Cannot emphasize this one enough.  I do not like canning.  (Nor do I like many canned foods.)

2.  If properly stored, dehydrated foods can last up to thirty years!  Talk about an economical way to build an emergency store of food.

3.  Dehydrated foods retain more nutrients than both frozen and canned versions.

4.  If done properly, dehydrated foods can remain “raw” and retain all of their raw enzymes.

5.  Dehydrated foods are EASY to use and they are yummy!

Ok, I need to add a #6 here:

6.  Dehydrated foods are WAY SMALLER than the real deal!  Duh, right?  But think about it!!  Why store 6 large cans of green beans, when you can store the same amount of green beans in 1 Ball jar!

So, if I haven’t intrigued you enough yet, I am going to pull out all the stops now :).  Jan Nellis has written a book to hold our hands and walk us through dehydrating!  She writes about the equipment we need, how to prep the foods, which foods can be dehydrated, and how to properly store them.  Her book contains information on what to do with all of these dehydrated goodies, including soups, snacks, camping food, hiking food, baby food, and more.

Enter to win Jan's book!!

Sounds like a fantastic resource, right?  Well, I bought her book that night for myself, but I also bought one extra!  I plan to give away Jan Nellis’ Delicious, Delectable and Dehydrated!to one of my oh-so-lucky readers!

But, hold on to your seat – it gets better!  Jan is also generously sweetening the deal by offering TWO MORE items – a 4 oz. jar of her Mom’s Love Rub lotion and a bar of handcrafted soap – to the giveaway!

When you visit Mom’s Love Rub and decide that you would like to buy her products, she is also giving all of my readers a special discount.  Just enter the code BLESSED at checkout to receive 10% off your entire order.

SO – how can you sign up to win the giveaway?

Do as many of these as you can and come back here to leave a comment telling me you did it!  Let the fun begin!

Here is how to enter the giveaway:

1.  Sign up to become a follower of this blog or leave a comment letting me know that you are already following.

2.  Like Mom’s Love Rub facebook page, and leave a comment here letting me know you did so.

3.  Post about the giveaway on your facebook page with the link to this post.

4.  Post about the giveaway on your blog and link back to this post.

5.  Visit Jan’s site, Mom’s Love Rub, and then come back here and let us know in the comment section which soap you would choose if you win.

I am closing the giveaway at the end of the day on Friday, December 16th.  I will choose a random winner, and post it on the blog.  Make sure you check back in case you win!  I’ll need to contact you to get your info for shipping purposes.

GOOD LUCK!!!  I am very excited about this 🙂 . . .

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I don’t know about you other moms out there, but I am loving Fall!  The apples, the pumpkins, cooler weather, heartier foods, beautiful foliage – all of that.  But one other thing I am truly delighting in are the leaves in my yard.  They have proven to be an endless source of work for my industrious children!

What better answer could I have for a small child who says, “Mom I’m bored,” than to respond, “Oh, great!  I was looking for someone to rake leaves.”  Brings a smile to my face.  They actually enjoy the work.  I sent them all out last week to rake and then transfer their leaf piles to my garden beds for composting over winter.  Kept them busy all day.

I can speak from experience when I say that productive kids are happy kids.  And my two-year-old can speak from experience when she says that yard work is more enjoyable when wearing a leotard.

Go Fall!

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fruit trap

A big fat THANK YOU to The Idea Room for this genius little contraption.  These little buggers drive me crazy.  They are impossible to squish.  And, both my experiments in college biology and my personal experience in my home confirm that these things breed at a rate I can’t possibly keep up with.

Find your little bucket lists and get ready fruit flies – your days are numbered.

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At least it was a productive day.

Option 1:  Tackle massive pile of dirty dishes accumulated throughout a very busy, long day OR

Option 2: Put off tackling mound of dishes in order to feed my sourdough and write about my dishes.

Things I did today:

  • Showered (other mothers of many young children will agree that this alone qualifies as a productive day)
  • Taught the kiddos
  • Baked two loaves of Oatmeal Bread
  • Made Potato Corn Chowder (Yum.)
  • Baked a batch of Breakfast Cookies – this time with walnuts, dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
  • Took all five children to the dentist for cleanings (no cavities :))
  • Let the kids play with clay
  • Filed and paid quarterly taxes for Blessed Roots Farm
  • Created a pile of dishes that spans half my kitchen
  • Stepped in poop on a bathroom rug and lost a pair of undies, the rug, and my sock in the incident
  • Fed my sourdough starter

A full day, indeed.

Alas, the dishes did not do themselves while I was typing.  Guess I better get back to work . . .

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Pumpkin Spice Granola

Homemade granola is a breakfast staple at our house.  I decided to veer from our usual recipe this week to creat something new.  The results are delicious and perfect for the cooler weather ahead.


by Blessed Roots Farm

6 C. rolled oats

1/2 c. white whole wheat flour

1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

1 c. chopped walnuts (finely chopped at our house or people pick them out :))

1/4 c. anything else you like (sesame seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, more nuts . . .)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 c. butter, melted

1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a small sauce pan, melt your butter and stir in the other liquid ingredients.  Pour the liquid butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moist.  Pour into a large pan (I use my roasting pan so I don’t flip it over the sides while stirring.) and evenly distribute.  Bake in your preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes until you reach your desired level of “brown” – probably about 40-60 minutes.

Let the granola cool completely before storing.  Adding dried cranberries to the finished product sounds like an excellent idea, as well.

For more recipe inspiration, join me at Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, and Fresh Bites Friday.


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Our weather is positively perfect today.  Sunny, warm, breezy.  The kind of day you want to store away in your memory to pull out on a bone chilling, dead of winter day.

I know my time in my garden is coming to a close this season, so it is time to harvest fresh herbs.  There are a few plants that have done very well this year, and I can’t possibly think of enough uses for all of the fresh parsley I now own.  This is a good thing.

My parsley

Each day I get the chance, I will snip some herbs and bring them in to adorn my kitchen with beauty and fragrance as they dry.  I have come up with a nice little trick to make drying herbs (or flowers for that matter) a cinch.

All you need is two little girl elastic ponytail holders for each bunch of herbs you plan to hang.

2 Tiny Pony Holders

Wrap the ponytail holder around the end of your bunch.

Parsley all wrapped up

Now, use the other ponytail holder to attach it to a handle in your kitchen.  Wrap it once around your bunch and once around your handle.  Snap!  Now as your herbs dry, the ponytail holders will shrink with your herbs and you won’t have herbs falling out all over your counter.

Herbs in my kitchen

And, my hands smell like rosemary – which is a nice little bonus.

When your herbs are dry, just take them down and store in a container until you are ready to use them over the long, cold winter.

Pop on over to Tammy’s Recipes for more kitchen tips!

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Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...

Image via Wikipedia

Jason and I decided this past year to take a course called “Stateline Farm Beginnings” through the Learning Center at Angelic Organics  in Caledonia, IL.  (The Real Dirt on Farmer Johnis a pretty darn well-known documentary.  Farmer John is the owner of Angelic Organics.)  Anyway, they offer a fantastic farming/business course for people who are just starting out in the world of sustainable agriculture, or for people like Jason and I who are completely clueless suburbanites who just have the dream of one day being sustainable farmers.

This class kicked our butts (in a good way of course) and gave us a much-needed reality check, a wonderful network of like-minded farmers, and a PLAN.  Invaluable.  So, we whittled our dream down from 40 acres with every animal possible, to maybe 3 acres with bees, flowers, veggies and cleaning products.  Huh?  Cleaning products?  Do those eat hay?  No, no.   But they do fit quite well with our long-term plan for our farm.  Follow me . . .

When we first started having children, back in 2002, I began to actually think about the foods I was putting into my body and the chemicals I was using in my home.  Both not good at the time.  I did quite a bit of reading and experimenting with homemade cleaning products that actually worked, didn’t just smell like vinegar, and were completely safe for our little ones and the environment.  I had been making and using these myself for years when I sort of slipped the idea onto the very bottom of a long list of possible farm ventures early on in the class.   I definitely hoped no one would notice it.

Not because I didn’t think it was a great idea.  I thought it was a marvelous idea, actually.  Which is how it wormed its way from the back of my head onto that piece of paper in the first place.  I just thought being 6 months pregnant, working part-time, homeschooling 2 kids, and chasing after a 4 and 2-year-old was enough.  And I really wasn’t looking for more.  Really.

But, wouldn’t you know that every person who saw that list landed on that tiny idea at the bottom and gushed over it?  Dang.  Of course Jason was one of those people, and the more he heard from other people how excited they were, the more excited he became.  I just sat there and smiled, screaming in my head, “THERE IS NO WAY I AM DOING THIS!!”  Well, that didn’t last long.

With no land to farm, and no equity in our current home anymore (gee, can anyone relate?) – we were rather stuck in the world of farming.  Cleaning products was something we could do from our little suburban kitchen!  And we can still feel like we are somehow participating in the sustainable agriculture community.

But, the real reason we started Blessed Roots Farm in the first place was to give a gift to our children.  A gift that is about so much more than farming.  We want them to not be held back by the world’s view of what they are supposed to do.  And, perhaps more importantly, to not be held back by their own fear or apathy and just going for it – whatever it is.  I cannot teach that lesson to my children if I sit back and say, “I don’t have time for that!” or “That isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”  Neither of those statements will produce anything other than the status quo in my life and kids who settle for it in theirs.

So, with the support and encouragement of my husband, during a whirl-wind three months before the arrival of #5, Blessed Roots Farm had our first venture ready to take to market.  And I gotta say, I am so glad we pushed.  Not because we love cleaning products, not because we needed something else to do, but because our kids watched the whole thing happen and learned a lot.

A beautiful day like today, with the whole family together at the market selling our natural cleaning products, is the perfect reward.

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