April 27, 2015

Winding Down

As I mentioned on the Old House Homestead Facebook page ... yesterday I burned the pad of my index finger pretty badly. So I'm typing one handed and posts will be a little light and scarce this week.

Since school is winding down for us I'm sure it's winding down for you all as well and I thought some of you might be thinking ahead for end of year teacher gifts. Here are a few ideas for you. Click on the pictures for the links.




There are a lot of other great signs for end of year gifts as well!  Go take at peek!

April 24, 2015

DIY Soda Pop

We bought a SodaStream Home Soda Maker   last year and used the soda mixes that came with it, but wanted to make some of our own soda mixes.  After trying diy syrups from recipes found on Pinterest with no success we gave this a try and it was amazing!

DIY Soda Pop

2 bottles of carbonated water (use a SodaStream)
1 - 12 oz. can of juice concentrate thawed (we used Old Orchard Apple Raspberry)

Carbonate your water and pour in the thawed juice concentrate and gently stir together.  Pour over ice and enjoy!

Note:  Don't. I repeat, Don't!  As in Do Not! carbonate water that has juice or syrup in it.  It will practically explode!  Don't ask a certain son of mine how I know.  *wink*

April 23, 2015

Simple Country Wisdom Series - Part 2

In social media Thursdays are usually "Throwback Thursdays" where one posts a picture or a video of something that happened a long time ago.  Well for the coming weeks on Thursdays I'll be reposting my Simple Country Wisdom series from a few years ago.  If you missed last week you can find it HERE.  Enjoy!  

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Join me for our ten part series as we work along side Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner.  I touch base on a few points in each chapter and expound upon them and share some of my own tips.  Grab your favorite cuppa and join along!  

The Home That Welcomes
Clutter Control

The marketing industry wants us to believe that we need more things.  I agree that a buy one get one free sale is tempting but all those things can add up to one big cluttered mess!  That clutter can hinder us in many ways.  Clutter can get in our way not just physically but socially as well.  For me personally I get cranky when the house starts to clutter up.  When it's cluttered I don't want to entertain guests.  Who wants to see someone else's mess?

Nip the clutter in the bud!  Before it even finds a place to live and start to multiply!  (It seems to do that, doesn't it?!)  Since we are a big family we are often given hand-me-down clothes.  If I kept all of the clothes that everyone ever gave me I wouldn't be able to walk through my house!  Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for their generosity, but we really don't need to keep everything.  What I do to cut the clutter is set the bags on the bench by the door until I can get to them some time that day.  When I sort through them I take out what I want to keep (put it in the laundry so it gets washed and put away soon) then the bag of items we don't need is sent to the van to drop off at our donation destination on our next trip to town. When the kiddos choose something to keep from our "new" clothes, they pick something from their current stash to donate.  That way their closets don't get out of control.

Same goes for books.  We're given books a lot.  School books, theological books, cook books, magazines, etc.  I flip through the books/magazines and if there's enough to peak my interest they go to a proper home in the house.  If they're not interesting enough...to the donation bag they go. Besides, with the modern convenience of the internet we have so much information at our fingertips so I'm even more choosy when it comes to keeping something to read!

Our children are perpetual packrats.  I think they get that from my dad.  He kept my old swingset and stored it in the attic of their garage not getting rid of it until they sold their house to move about 14 years ago.  Yes, my dad kept my swingset almost two decades after I was done using it!  In order to keep that gene in check with our children we make it a point to deep clean their rooms regularly.  A story from a few years ago: The week before Christmas we had them sort through their belongings.  We made a deal with them that for every grocery store bag they filled with toys or stuffed animals we would give them one dollar.  We were paying them to get rid of stuff!  They were ecstatic!  We were $23 in the hole, but we were free from 23 bags of stuff they no longer played!  With their money one child put it towards her savings for a camera.  Another bought a new Webkinz.  Our oldest is into building with motors, batteries and techie things like that so he bought some parts and pieces with his money.  In our eyes it was a win-win situation!

It's nice to deep clean on occasion (like spring cleaning), but to keep the house in tiptop shape on a regular basis we have regular chores.  I have my regular chores and the kids have theirs. (And of course my poor hubby has his never ending honey-do list.) We've added to their lists that each kiddo has a room they need to tidy up before dinner.  It's supposed to be every night and it works best if it happens this way, but some days are very busy before dinner so it waits until after dinner or before bed.

Another thing that has helped me in my clutter maintenance was to toss the guilt!  You don't have to save everything!  I have a hard time letting go of something that was a gift that just isn't my size, style, or fits my needs.  Instead of it cluttering up my home and doing no one any good sitting on a shelf or hanging in a closet I have decided that it's o.k. to donate it or give it to a friend.  Lest you think I'm cold and heartless let me just say you should see my cedar chest, the top of my closet, and a few totes in the basement.  Moving right along...a-hem.

Speaking of closets...we all keep things that don't fit us hoping that they will some day.  Right?  For me I've started just in the last few months getting rid of skirts and dresses that I haven't worn since before baby number three over ten years ago!  Fashions have changed and I need to, too.  I made a big donation deposit that week and I suddenly have extra hangers!

Something that we do at the end of winter is account for all the winter gear.  Round up all the coats, scarves, mittens, and hats and decide which should be given away, thrown away, and kept.  (I think I have a few mittens out in the mudroom that are destined to an orphan's life!)  Wash and dry them. Pack them away in totes with cedar wood blocks to keep them fresh.  If the cedar scent has vanished do what the author does -- give them a light sanding with sandpaper and the scent will come back full strength.

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What tips helped you best?  What might you do this week to control your clutter?

Join me in the coming weeks as we unwrap the present that is our lives.  The next step in our series is making our home pleasing to our senses.  Please share this series by placing the button in the side bar of your blog or share on Facebook by clicking the "Like" button under this post.

* photos courtesy of Country Living

April 21, 2015

Garlic and Herb Seasoning Mix

I found a recipe online for garlic bread topping and (of course) I tweaked it.  Our family loves this as a topping on garlic bread, as a crust topper on our pizzas and as an extra way to make our grilled pizza sandwiches extra tasty (recipe coming).  Basically everything is better with this topping! We hope you like it as much as we do!

Garlic and Herb Seasoning Mix

1 c. Parmesan cheese (we use the shaker can kind)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. garlic powder
4 tsp. oregano
4 tsp. basil
5 tsp. parsley

Combine ingredients in a container. We use a pint canning jar and reuse a parmesan shaker can lid (the green ones) as a lid so we can shake it out. Be sure to store it in the refrigerator since the Parmesan cheese needs to be refrigerated. (Sometimes the ingredients clump together, but if you stir it up with a fork from time to time it will be fine.)

For garlic bread mix 1 1/2 T. seasoning with 1/2 cup softened butter and spread on bread.  Bake at 375 until the butter's melted and the bread it toasty.  You can put it under the broiler for a bit if you like.  


April 20, 2015

Menu Monday: One Dish Meals

This week is dance week for our girls.  Two of the younger ones are in a local dance ministry performance this week and have practices almost every evening.  Our two oldest daughters are helping in one of the classes so they will be gone, too, so this week will be a bit crazy in the menu planning department.  I thought I'd share some one dish meals that I shared with a friend a while back in another post.  Enjoy...again.  

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A while back a dear friend had just had her fourth baby and requested I share some one dish meals with her. I posted this then and thought it was appropriate for our family with the arrival of blessing number eight. I thought you all might be able to use the recommendations as well.  A lot of my meals can be made into one dish meals.  I'll list the link with the name so just click on the name of the dish to take you to the recipe.  I'll also share any ideas that I have to go with those recipes.

Simple Roast  To go along with this you can put some red potatoes and green beans in the crock pot with it.

Creamy Chicken and Stuffing  Add some raw green beans to the crock pot in with the chicken.  Make some of these (Smashed Potatoes) to go along with it.  Use this tip for the potatoes.

Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes  Like it says in the post, add chopped up ham or chicken to make it a main dish.  Steam some veggies and you have a meal!

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip  Stir in some ground beef and serve with Mexican rice, beans, sour cream and salsa (use some good veggie filled salsa!) and you have a meal!

Chicken Pot Pie is great all by itself!  It takes a bit of work, but if you make a few at one time, eat one and freeze the rest you are all set for a few more meals!

Easy Peasy Chops This dish is a another one where you can do the smashed potatoes (see above) and steam some veggies and you're all set.

Creamy Chicken and Noodle Casserole  Add some cooked mixed veggies to this and you have a one meal dish!  Serve with some yummy rolls!

Chicken Burritoes You can make a few batches of these, bake them and then freeze the leftovers for another meal!  Serve with rice, beans, salsa and sour cream.

Rigatoni Casserole This dish has meat, veggies (assuming you use a good sauce), carbs (*smile*)...the total package!  Pop some garlic bread in the oven and you're all set!

Chili Serve with crackers and corn bread!

Chicken Tetrazzini Again, like the chicken and noodles...add veggies!  Serve with bread!

Duggar's Taco Soup

Easy Beef and Noodles  Serve with rolls!

Pioneer Beef Stew  Serve with rolls!  (Do you see a bread trend here? LOL!)

I hope those help!  I'm searching for some more great crock-pot one dish meals for our family since we have a few more busy days this fall.  I have a Gooseberry Patch cookbook that I'm perusing now!

Like these one-dish ideas?  Click the "Like" button below to share them with friends on Facebook!

April 18, 2015

Field Trip!

Come visit me over at Raising Homemakers for a yummy recipe! 


April 17, 2015

Indiana Sweet Tea

Lately our oldest and I have had a hankerin' for sweet tea.  No, we're not from the south, but I say y'all on occasion and we enjoy fried chicken, fried okra, country music, and a lot of other southern culture stereotypes sooo...  Also we try to steer clear of soda because of all the junk ingredients and the cost.  (I do have a great homemade soda recipe I'll be sharing soon!) Too many sweet tea recipes are too sweet for my northern pallet. I have tinkered with sweet tea recipes all over the blogosphere and have created my own.  We love it!  It's not too sweet and it really hits the spot!  Hope you like it as much as we do!

Indiana Sweet Tea

1 gallon water (16 cups) divided
4 family size tea bags
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 c. sugar

Bring 1/2 gallon water to a boil.  Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and steep 4 family size tea bags for 10-15 minutes. (The baking soda removes the tannins in the tea and makes it less bitter.) Remove tea bags.  Stir in the sugar until dissolved.  Pour remaining (cold) water into a 1 gallon pitcher, add the sweet tea mixture and serve over ice.  

*Notes:  I like to save my tea bags for another time, just steep them a little longer. Also I like to chill my sweet tea before I serve it so it doesn't water down with the ice too quickly.  


Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe HERE

Green vintage Ball canning jars HERE  
Ball straws and lids HERE  

(Disclaimer: The above mentioned are affiliate links...I get a little bit of kick back if you purchase on Amazon through my links)  

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The sign in the background of the above picture is our Porch Rules sign found HERE.


April 16, 2015

Simple Country Wisdom Series Revisted - Part 1

Spring is here and the plan to spruce up the home and get things simplified before Summer vacation is at the top of my list! So I thought we'd revisit the Simple Country Wisdom series I blogged many moons ago.  We'll work through the book Simple Country Wisdom in the coming weeks!  Here's the first post!

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 If you know me personally or have been a reader here for a while you've heard my catch phrase "It's good to have a goal!".  Well it is!  Zig Zigler says "If you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time."  I have a few goals for this spring.  One of them is to simplify my home.  I mean every part of it; menus, recipes, schedules, closets, cupboards, etc.  If you're looking to simplify a little bit of your life or achieve a major overhaul then join me for our ten part series as we work along side.

The Home That Welcomes
What Makes a Welcoming Home?

It's the place we all want to come home to.  There's no place like it according to Dorothy.  There are many elements that make a home.  Cleanliness, efficiency, self-reliance, and joy are just a few elements that are discussed in the book.

Your home need not be spotless and stark, but it should be a refuge from the busy world we live in.   It should be clean and uncluttered.  Do you have mail that's waiting to be sorted through?  Laundry that you meant to put away three days ago?  Is there a gooey, sticky mess waiting for you in the microwave?  "Learning how to keep a house clean and uncluttered is the groundwork for many loftier achievements -- happiness, thriving family relationships, intellectual pursuits, hobbies that nurture creativity, and renewed energy and enthusiasm for the life we live outside the home."  Again we don't want the stark and sterile look.  Think fluffed pillows, candles burning, some soft music playing.  Try one of those this week! 

Our homes should be efficient.  The rooms should accommodate the needs and activities of the people who live in them.  Efficiency means not being wasteful.  The furniture and possessions in our homes need to be well cared for and made to last.  Water and lights are turned off when not in use and left overs thrown away are a rarity. Try leaving post-it notes around your home as a reminder!

No one is truly self-reliant anymore, but it's good to try. (Good to have a goal, right?! *wink*)  My husband is the very model of self-reliance.  No matter what repair in our home needs to be accomplished he tackles it head on.  Plumbing, carpentry, yard work, planting, and animal care (we have goats and chickens that need special attention at times) just to name a few.  If he's not sure what he's doing he'll ask someone or read about it.  Try to fix something yourself instead of hire someone. That's a great goal to have this year!  I'm going to try to make more bread from scratch!  A simple step in self-reliance is to try making your own fun!  Instead of DVD's, computers, iPods, etc. cuddle up with a good book or read aloud as a family!  Try reading the Bible in a year together or at least the New Testament! Work a puzzle together. Even little ones can find the straight edges of the borders!  Find one way this week you can do something that's simple and fun!

Our homes experience the joys of the seasons right along with us.  They get decorated and spruced up, too!  Our homes help us develop traditions; turning on a lamp for a loved one on their way home, a summer garage sale, pancakes on a Saturday morning, etc.  The simple act of traditions, no matter how simple, give us joy.  Find a new tradition to try this week!

"They say that people fall in love with houses, but houses never love you back, and I suppose that's true.  But if you take time to manage your little part of the world, if you put energy and thought into the way things are done, you'll receive some things that are pretty valuable in return -- comfort and joy, time to relax and appreciate your life and the people in it, and rooms that welcome you each time you return.  All in all, pretty well worth the effort." -- Susan Waggoner

Join me in the coming weeks as we unwrap the present that is our lives.  The next step in our series is taming the clutter.  Please share this series by placing the button in the side bar of your blog or share on Facebook by clicking the "Like" button under this post.

* photos courtesy of Country Living

April 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Don't miss all the Instagram fun! 

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Also don't miss all the artsy fun on Etsy at our shop


April 14, 2015

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies

We took some of these to our orthodontist's office to pass around to the staff a little while ago and they said they were better than the local bakery everyone boasts about.  They are that good!  The other day we used fresh milled flour (increasing flour to 3 1/4 cups soft white wheat) and they were just as tasty!  Enjoy!

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Sift together flour, baking cocoa, soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture mixing until blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons (I use the P. Chef medium scoop) on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Makes about 3 dozen 3" cookies.

April 13, 2015

Menu Monday

Hey all!  We had several changes in our menu plan last week so some of the recipes used may be repeated from last week.  The biggest thing I've learned about menu planning is to be flexible!

Monday  Roasted Ham, Popeye, and Smashed Potatoes, 30 Minute Dinner Rolls (recipe to come)

Tuesday Chicken Burritos, Taco Rice (recipe to come), and fixins

Wednesday Grilled Hot Dogs, Texas Chili (recipe to come)

Thursday Breakfast Casserole (using left over ham), Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit

Friday  Homemade Pizza using Simple Dough

Saturday  Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Salad

Sunday  Sloppy Joes (my Mother-in-law is bringing hers, but my recipe is very similar), Pasta Salad (recipe to come), Mac-n-cheese, Chips, veggies and dip

April 10, 2015

Subscribe and Save Rocks!

I am very blessed to have a hubby who doesn't mind swinging by the grocery store on his way home from work.  In fact it makes more sense to have him shop than for me to load up a few kiddos and drive twenty minutes each way to the store when he drives right by there on his way home from work.  But...to save him time and the space in his truck I use Amazon's Subscribe and Save service.

Besides...how else would we get ginormous boxes our kiddos can spend hours entertaining themselves with?  

Bears in a cave!

 The girls used the packing paper to make their brother into a mummy!

I buy toilet paper, paper towel, garbage bags, chocolate chips (yep...cheaper than at the store), and a few feminine products via Amazon's Subscribe and Save.  If you've never tried it out you should!
Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Bath Tissue, 48 Double Rolls 

We also have Amazon Prime which for $99 a year we get free two-day shipping on a gazillion products and also a lot of free instant television shows and movies.
Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial 

(Post contains affiliate links.  Our family gets a little commission if you purchase through our links.)

April 9, 2015

Banana Breakfast Bars

The other day we wanted breakfast bars, but we were out of pumpkin and raisins so Rebekah whipped up this recipe. Equally as yummy as the other breakfast bars and just as good for you!

1 c. butter, softened
1 banana, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. flax meal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. quick oats

Cream together butter, banana, vanilla, brown sugar, and honey; add eggs.  In a separate bowl mix flour, flax meal, salt, baking soda, and quick oats; add to the wet mixture. Pour in an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

To make this a bit healthier try adding more banana and less butter.  Or try half coconut oil and half butter.  Or add some applesauce to the mix.  

You really need to let this cool for the 30 minutes so you can cut and serve it without a mess. Unlike the other bars you can't grab and go with these.  You need a plate and a fork since they are a little soft.

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Check out our farm fresh selections over at the shop!


April 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

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Go check out our signs in the shop!


April 7, 2015

Breakfast Bars

Our resident baker came up with a tasty and fairly healthy breakfast bar!  Whip these up the evening before as a grab-n-go breakfast or bake them in the morning for a warm bar to eat at the table.  

Breakfast Bars

2 sticks butter, softened  
       (or 1 stick butter, and 1/2 c. coconut oil)
1/2 c. pumpkin (canned)
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour 
1/2 c. flax meal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
2 1/2 c. quick oats
1 c. raisins 
1 c. chocolate chips (can omit if you like)

Cream together butter, pumpkin, vanilla, brown sugar, and honey; add eggs.  In a separate bowl mix flour, flax meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and quick oats; add to the wet mixture. Pour in an ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

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Check out this lovely in the shop...perfect reminder for home or school! 


April 6, 2015

Menu Monday

Here's your weekly dose of menu inspiration!

Just a few notes...
Breakfasts vary...depending on what our schedule is, who gets up early and who wants to fix something.  For some breakfast ideas try HERE  or click on the breakfast tab under the header.
Lunch is usually leftovers, cheese quesadillas, grilled cheese, or some other kind of sandwich.

Monday  Roasted Ham, Popeye, and Smashed Potatoes, 30 Minute Dinner Rolls (recipe to come)

Tuesday  Chicken Burritos, Taco Rice, and fixins 

Wednesday  Creamy Chicken Sandwiches on Homemade Buns, Chips, Veggies and Dip

Thursday  Biscuits and Gravy, Breakfast Casserole, Fruit

Friday  Caesar Chicken Pizza, Chips and Dip 

Saturday  Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Salad

Sunday Leftover pork from Monday (it was shredded and frozen after Monday's meal) in BBQ sauce (cooked in the crockpot) served on Homemade Buns with salad and fruit.

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Check out these lovelies in the shop


April 4, 2015

Easter Brunch Ideas

Want to know the winner of the Gooseberry Patch giveaway?  
It's at the bottom of this post. (I'm sneaky like that. *grin*)

(This is a repost from a couple years ago. A lot of our family favorites!  Enjoy!)

Our church has a breakfast between sunrise service and regular service.  For the last few years the coordinator of the breakfast has asked our oldest, Noah, to make his delicious french toast.

This year she asked him to make more since it was so popular last year they ran out!  I've posted the french toast recipe before and I recently edited it so look below for the link!

I thought I'd take this moment to share with you some yummy Easter breakfast/brunch ideas!

 Photo credit:  Loveless Cafe
(Go visit this site!  It's so farmhouse-y!  I love it!!)

Old House Baked Eggs are an easy dish to prep the night before.  You can just pop it in the oven in the morning and you're ready to go.

Bananaberry Muffins can be baked the day before!  Pop them in the oven to warm up if you'd like that fresh-from-the-oven warmth!

Old House Breakfast Cups can be prepped the night before and thrown together in the morning or you can bake them the day before and just simply reheat them.  Very yummy and filling!

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits I often make the gravy ahead of time and put it in a little crock pot to warm up so it's ready to go.  The biscuits can be mixed up and cut the night before and you can pop them in the oven before the meal.  (Or you can buy the whack on the counter type of biscuits from the store.  Hey, it's a special day and the cook deserves a break, right?)

Old House French Toast This is one item that has to be made fresh.  Sure, you can warm them up in the oven or toaster oven, but they are better fresh! 

Of course serve your meal with milk, orange juice, and a side of fruit to round it out!

For more ideas visit my Breakfast page HERE.


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Check out this lovely in our shop!


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Congratulations to Jennifer R.!  
She has been contacted and her book is in the mail!

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