Monday, August 31, 2015

how i created a short term food supply

hello there. today i thought i'd share a bit about how i spent several months figuring out how to create a short term supply of food.

{Are you not familiar with this idea? Please don't jump to super scary thoughts of an underground shelter and canned beans stacked from floor to ceiling... are you looking for a good place to start? read this pretty low key two-page pdf :: link here}

i was inspired to prepare in this way when i considered all my family's work and thoughts that made our emergency savings and get-out-of-debt plan such a success thus far. i realized something that would help us with this emergency preparedness would also be a basic food supply.

now i don't know if we're exactly prepared for some crazy out of the norm long term event {i.e. a zombie world take over - i know that my husband and i will both hold out to be saved by Brad Pitt} however, if it became difficult for us to afford groceries or one of us became very ill the family could make do with what is in our food storage and general food storage plan.

our short term storage also has been a great resource when we are just low on groceries or time when cooking a late night dinner - why not pull out that can of black beans for a protein? then you can replace it with a newer can the next time they go on sale at the store!

A Few Important Ideas that Worked for Me:

+ shopping slowly
now, i know the need can strike at anytime for the use of a food storage, however i found it most manageable when i broke down the shopping into small amounts. partly due to spending constraints, but also because i like to purchase bulk items at specific places. so i started by consider what i'd like to have in my storage and then only putting a few of those items on my shopping list when i knew that i could purchase a little more than the list of what we needed to eat for the week.

+only buy what will work for my cooking
i figured if it was something we wouldn't want to eat we would live without it. like i didn't purchase dried eggs or dried milk. it just wasn't something i was willing to say - yes i will cook with this. instead i put foods on the list i was comfortable with and planned meals with the ingredients that i thought would keep well for our storage plan. and i purchased items that didn't confuse me while reading the ingredient lists.

+use my canning stash to supplement
i enjoy canning food - jams, ketchups, salsa, tomato sauces, dill veggies - so in those went to my supply. and i planned meals or snacks with those items.

+labeling my storage space
i really believe in good labeling when it comes to food storage. i selected one cabinet to hold our extra food items and made a simple list {about 6 pages long} to state what is on each shelf and their expiration dates. this way we can eat food {and quickly replace it} before it goes bad. if there is more than we can manage we also can donate canned goods to a local food shelter before it expires so at least someone can eat it. i also use a highlighter to cross out items that we eat. that way i know quickly what we have and what we don't have on the shelf.  i like knowing what we had in the past so i don't have to go back through and re-brainstorm the initial list of what should go on these shelves.

Inspired? Want to consider making your own food storage plan? Try some of these resources for more tips, hints, and helpful ideas:

Detailed run down of how to start your 3 month food supply {with Valerie of Prepared LDS Family blog} - be sure to read the comments for a few more helpful suggestions

Pantry Shopping List + Key Points List to get you started when considering your short term food supply {with Crystal at Everyday Food Storage}

Ways to look at your 3 month supply as a "working supply of food storage" {with Shelle at Preparedness Mama}

Check out this post with a great 3 Month Planning Graphic {with Tammy from Simply Preparing}

* i've added this post to Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop::click here:: to head over and check out all the great information and stories from other bloggers! Thanks to all the hosts and bloggers for sharing in the fun!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

my canning story

good morning! this summer produce and canning has been so, so good to me. i know i always say that i love seeing that produce all pretty in a jar... but i really do. i think i have loved favorites foods in a jar for a long time.

it probably stems from my first memories of canning. that's right friends - making great grandma's pasta sauce in the kitchen with my momma! i mean, we're talking THE family recipe. we honestly call it "the sauce" or just "sauce" and everyone in the family knows what we're talking about. even in+after college my sister and i visit home at the same time to help my mom make huge batches. with my dad sitting at the counter telling stories, passing out critiques of cooking style and hopping up from his barstool to stir the huge pot every few minutes.

so then flash forward a few years and i start craving some domestic hobbies. something that is valuable for our family life, something that could be used intentionally in our home and gives great enjoyment. i knew canning would be just the thing. i started out making simple freezer jam then cooked fruit jams + butters. after a few years of trying many {many} recipes i have found a bit of rhythm when it comes to what i love to can. luckily i even have a few friends who are into the idea of canning up goodies too! sometimes we work in the kitchen together, go to local farm u-picks, or trade various canned up foods once we were done making our own double batches!

there is even more goodness knowing that i can continue canning goodies for a bit longer this season. looking forward to some apple goodness this fall. i'm planning on making at least one batch of apple butter for my brother-in-law... what are your apple saving favorites?

* i've added this post to Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop::click here:: to head over and check out all the great information and stories from other bloggers! Thanks to all the hosts and bloggers for sharing in the fun!

Monday, August 24, 2015

making in the studio {felt ball garland}

happy hello to you this morning!

i am excited to share a recent quick craft i did. 

i've been wanting to make a garland for the studio and realized i had a beautiful stash of felt at my reach.

so a felt ball garland was an easy choice to make!

some sorting, some threading, some hanging... fun, quick, easy.

hooray for some more details in the studio!

need more garland goodness? Click ::here:: for a similar DIY with Laura.

have a lovely monday, friends!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

around these parts {+ on my bookshelf}

hey there bookworms!

i've been reading like a maniac this summer. i just love having time to get into books that i enjoy that i don't necessarily plan on sharing with the kids at school.

::most recently i read::

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

during a few recent short road trips i had a great time listening to Paper Towns by John Green and The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. i really enjoy listening to books on cd or by virtually checking out audiobooks thru my local library {+ listening on my phone}. it has been a fun way to get in a few extra stories this summer while i can, drive, declutter or clean. i will keep up listening to audiobooks as i move into preparing for the start of the new school year.

any great books to recommend?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thoughts + Resources from a Newbie Chicken Farmer

i really love having chickens.  it is almost embarrassing. everyone i know asks about our chickens/their coop and i talk about "the girls" almost as much as i talk about my dog. they are just fun and do sort of silly things. i love that very soon they will take care of our family's egg needs {this fall our flock of eight hens should begin to lay more than enough eggs for us to eat + share}.

i've been talking about getting chickens for a few years now. sometimes just the 'oh won't it be so fun to go collect our own eggs?' or the joke about what my chicken call would sound like {i think the chickadee inspired call: 'chicken-feed-feed-feed-feed' or the 'winner winner chicken dinner' with victory dance have been the front runners for a year or so now}.

but as i got more serious about raising our own flock {for the eggs, compost turning and garden pest control} i began to read, interact with chickens/their caretakers and dream.

so today i wanted to share a few insights + resources that helped me get chickens into our backyard...

+ get to know a few hens {or even a rooster}
i was able to "practice" raising hens for about a year before we got our own chicks. this was so helpful as it gave me just a little bit of experience and actual animals to keep healthy. the school where i teach has a very lovely garden and we decided to add just a few layers, a coop and an awesome run for the hens. the children have responsibilities to share in caring for the chickens. these truly loved hens provide eggs for when we make snacks and prepare real food with the students. so the fact that this small flock of three wasn't solely my responsibility made it easier for me to take on tasks without being overwhelmed. maybe you have a neighbor or friend who might need chicken sitters when they go on vacation or there is a local farm that asks for volunteers. you might gain experience and free eggs!

+get to know a few people who know chickens
this is pretty basic but i saved so many tidbits of information over the years from friends, neighbors, co-workers who have their own flocks - or did in the past. it is also great to have these resources when you come up against something {illness, strange behavior, etc} and you need to ask a more experienced farmer. 

+find a few favorite chicken raising websites  {click to go directly to the site}
here are some of my favorite websites...

the forum on this site helped me a lot with coop training for my littles and identifying a broody hen at my school. so much information here and a pretty active online community.

there were a few special posts about chicks + brooders that helped when we were hatching eggs at school... but there is lots of knowledge to gain from this chick's site.

+start reading
i checked out many homesteading, gardening, livestock books over the past few years from our local library. these are two of my favorite chicken books that i recommend over and over...

Keeping Chickens with Ashley English
this book is from her Homemade Living series and it really helped me begin to focus my plans for raising chickens, such as selecting breeds that i would enjoy and also do well in our climate. 

Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom and photos by Kate Baldwin
this book has super fantastic photos that makes you want ALL the free-range chicken backyards. i found it very inspiring and it was actually a fun book to share with my students as we were waiting for our eggs to hatch {think seven year old girls making bookmarks for all their favorite coops + breeds}. 

+ be prepared to keep learning
as with pretty much all things i think there is a lot of to learn as we go. like we had a skunk interested in our coop + run recently. we did some quick research + double checked for any weak spots in our run. nothing has happened and we think we are in the clear for a bit... but not everything you will know from other resources before you have actual chickens. i think i have to learn about what happens here, in our yard, as the seasons pass. 

any other favorite chicken books or tips? want to gush about how cute my little chicks used to be? {these photos were from early May when i was playing around with my camera - because, well, baby chicks!} leave me a comment below! i'd love to talk chickens with you! and i hope to share more about my backyard chicken raising in the future here on the blog.

* i've added this post to Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop! ::click here:: to head over and check out all the great information and stories from other bloggers! Thanks to all the hosts and bloggers for sharing in the fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Local Love (Spotted Cow Paper :: Columbus, Ohio)

hey friends! i thought i would share a little fun greeting card that i picked up for my sister's birthday this summer. 

when i heard of the spotted cow paper fill in the blank greeting cards i thought it was really a clever idea. then when i learned that the makers are sisters - it solidified that i needed a card from those sisters for my dear sister!


super sweet + fun. just like my sis. it was perfect + she loved it!

::Please note that this post is entirely of my thoughts. I did not receive any gifts or any prompting to promote this specific product or brand. This blog series is to celebrate the great products that are made in my home state of Ohio. The photos on this post are mine. ::

Monday, August 10, 2015

my canning favorites

i love good local food - especially when it looks pretty in a jar. and even more so when i know that i put forth the love and effort to place the tasty produce in the jar myself. i have a list of canning-mainstays for sure. i also like experimenting with something new each year. i wanted to share some of my favorites {linked to their original source} incase you are trying to decide what to can this year!

what i put-up each year...

ketchup - I love making traditional tomato ketchup so that I can control the amount of sugar in this much used condiment. Also, every other year I make roasted red pepper ketchup which was featured in the book Put 'em Up. I like to keep it as a "treat" in the ketchup department.

jam - i make atleast two types of berry jam each year {usually strawberry, cherry, blackberry or triple berry} and then either peach jam or apple butter too.

salsa - we love a good homemade salsa! to the point where once we are out of salsa in the pantry we resist buying salsa from the store as long as possible. this year i'm hoping to make more salsa than i have in the past just to avoid this situation. our favorites will always be: corn salsa + chunky salsa

tomatoes - i also can tomatoes to add to soups, chili, etc. in the winter. my family has a great tomato sauce recipe that we sometimes jar up together as well. this year i am going to use up my excess tomatoes by trying this quick + easy tomato sauce plan with a crockpot.

what i often experiment with...

various sides
i like to try to use up squash or save beautiful carrots by making interesting sides or snacks. i do love snacking on pretty much any dill vegetable.

jams or butters
i like to try at least one unique jam or fruit butter each year. i often make several jars and save them as gifts. a few of my favorites i've tried in the past:
{mango jam was not a locally sourced treat - but mangoes were a great price at the grocery that day!}

how about you? any adventurous canning you've tried this year? or did you just stick to your absolute favorites?

*click over to the Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop to see my post in the link-up, as well as many posts about homesteading, homemaking, and more...

*update: this post was selected as a "featured post" for the blog hop with Nancy on the Home Front! Thanks Nancy for featuring my canning favorites!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An Exceptional Fourth Wedded Anniversary

over the weekend my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary! 

on friday we drove to bloomington, indiana for a visit! 
just relaxing... a few treats, some shopping, a couple of breweries and an art museum. the kind of weekend where nothing needs to be planned out - but a lady can wear a dress if she likes!

{some of our favorites from the weekend}

FARM Bloomington - serious brunch on saturday morning. 

the walk thru Indiana University's campus was BEAUTIFUL!

SOMA Coffeehouse was a nice quiet stop for us to grab drinks after a long walk thru campus 
{and not over-the-top-sweet beverages either}

a wine tasting at Oliver Winery - they have the cutest little pond + picnic area. 

we had the best burgers + fries at Upland Brewing Co.

we sampled several great brews at Function Brewing

we hit up Hopscotch Coffee on our way out of town for cold brews to go. 

i was so thankful for the time to just hang out with my favorite guy - hand in hand strolling thru the bloomington entertainment and arts district {BEAD}.  i'm a lucky mrs. for sure. 
all the happiest anniversary wishes to you, dear j. you are tops on my list and i'm ready to start up our fifth wedded year! xo ;)

some of the links in this post take you to the shops + businesses that we enjoyed over our visit - just simply sharing the love. if you'd like to read about our past anniversaries click away for our first, second, and third

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to Make a Declutter Challenge Easy

so here i am. about to start a third round of a minimalist game. i've found that i make more decisions when i can see my list of items grow and know that i'm making space for a clutter-free life. i figured the final 30 or so days of my summer break from teaching would be the perfect time to let go of more stuff.

i know keeping a home is more than decluttering all the time. but right now decluttering seems to be what just a few more spaces of mine needs. i truly look forward to having so many usable and loved spaces in our home.

so to kick off a new 30 day declutter challenge i thought i would remind myself and share with you a few things that we all can do to make getting rid of unnecessary things easier...

- just start. i actually just stepped away from my computer and found five things to get rid of. took less than 15 minutes to come right back here. five items, on the list. done.

- keep a running list. and an open donate container. to keep it easier to rid my home of an item at any time i just mark my amount of items on a list and then take them straight to the proper container. trash can, recycling bin, or donate container {i typically reuse cardboard boxes or paper bags}

- get in the mindset. the "liberate usable space" mindset. i took the last few days to consider places or categories of stuff that need to be addressed around our homestead. here is a little list i have ready for when i am in need of locating unneeded items:
 :: garage storage-shelf :: 
 :: desk ::
 :: studio closet ::
 :: under the bed storage ::
:: laundry closet ::

:: bed sheets ::
:: bathroom towels ::
:: kitchen towels ::
:: toiletries ::
:: cleaning supplies :: 

 - want more tips + thoughts? click ::here:: for my first 30 days complete + click ::here and here:: for thoughts about my second round of a minimalist game.

may the most cherished + useful things stay... and here's to hoping one day all my shelves will be as organized as my canned pantry... good luck to us all!

**I just added this post to "Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop #11" - check it out and learn something new! Click::here::