Saturday, December 27, 2014

Catching Up - Part 4

I was away from my blog for so long that we also celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Although I had to spend Thanksgiving in bed, Songbird stepped up and prepared a fine Thanksgiving meal of roasted chicken, sweet potato casserole, green beans and carrots.  Mr.B drove to town and picked up a couple pies and the family enjoyed a hearty meal.  I am proud that Songbird not only stepped up and filled in for me, but did an amazing job as well!

Most Christmas seasons you will find me lovingly preparing a few homemade gifts directly from my kitchen.  This year I blessed our big boys & other relatives, who live out of state, and a few neighbors with:

homemade cocoa mix, BBQ sauce and "The Sauce" (my homemade spaghetti sauce - every ingredient is homegrown, including herbs) ...
... and mini pecan pies.
I am so proud to announce that my dearest Mrs.A won 2nd place in her neighborhood for her Christmas decorations.  She lives in a nice subdivision thus, this award is quite the compliment.  She has such a wonderful gift for landscape design and maintains a beautiful yard and home year round.  If anyone deserves recognition, it is certainly her.
Although I'm not going to win any awards for our home's landscape or holiday decorations, especially since we live 4 1/2 miles off the main road and then another 1/4 mile back behind a stand of cottonwood trees,  Mrs.A's creativity sparks my imagination and is an inspiration to me.  This year, whenever I was in town I'd peruse the Christmas décor section of our re-sale shops looking for decorations that would enhance our snow covered landscape.  All my outdoor decorations cost less than $30.  I've enjoyed driving up to our home and seeing all the pretty little touches.
When approaching our home you will first see the deck tied with red velveteen bows.
Next, you will pass our front door where I placed faux poinsettias in our flower pots, tied bows to the porch and added a wreath to the door. 
As a main entry to the house we use the side door nearest the garage.  Out here I also added faux poinsettias to the flower pots and bows to our bench as well as another wreath to this door.

Once inside I've decorated with our usual Christmas décor, which I've posted photos of in years past.  Since Grandpa, the big boys and other extended family would not be up for the season, we chose to move the loveseat into the master bedroom and place our little "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree in front of the large living room windows.

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very enjoyable and I hope you and your family were as blessed as ours.  Praying you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy New Year.

Catching Up - Part 3

During my time away from blogging I also created some inexpensive nesting boxes for our rabbit hutches.  The nesting boxes allow the rabbits to get off the wire and provides a warm enclosure now that our temperatures are beginning to drop.
I used 3 gallon plastic buckets with lids and used a small hack saw to cut the lid in half.  The opening is large enough for the rabbit to get into the bucket and the half lid is tall enough to keep the straw bedding contained inside the bucket.

Rabbits like to chew on everything, including their buckets.  We've since tied some mineral wheels next to the feeders and waterers which has eliminated the chewing on the plastic bucket.

Another new addition to the farm is this pretty little bay roan mare.  We have her bred to a very nice stud and her foal is due in April.  Since this photo, she's gained a couple hundred pounds and is doing very well.

After much consideration and an out of town conference, we decided the timing was right for us to invest in the largest addition to the farm.  We added 17 goats and are currently in the breeding process.  We are hoping for 25 kids this coming spring.  The goats have playful personalities and are lots of fun.

Catching Up - Part 2

In my 2nd "Catching Up" post you can see that in addition to the corn and onions and almost 50 pounds of carrots we put up during harvest season, we also put up:

 49 quarts of green beans

17 quarts of beets and 15 pints of pickled beets

AND ... 11 1/2 bushels of potatoes !
This year's produce combined with leftover produce from last year will serve our family until next harvest.  We also butchered Songbird's alternate 4-H lamb, purchased and butchered a hog from the 4-H fat stock sale, butchered 7 roosters, and, thus far, during hunting season Farmer Boy has harvested numerous dove, a doe and 3 pheasants.  Since August, our monthly grocery bill has been reduced to less than $175.00 per month.  Most of those purchases are for fresh fruit, dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt), breads, and condiments.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Catching Up - Part 1

WOW !!  Today marks exactly 10 weeks since my last post.  Not only was my computer in the shop during part of my time away from blogging, but life simply became too busy to keep up.
I pray you and yours have been enjoying a most blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  Although I've been facing some personal challenges, life has been ticking away, much too fast, out here on the B farm.
Since my last contact with you all we've experienced:

 Farmer Boy's 13th birthday.  Here he is with his 2nd store bought birthday cake.  Our oven quit working and I was forced to purchase a pre-made one.  Most kiddos love the pretty decorations available on store bought cakes ... not this one.  He is still bemoaning that he "had" to have a store bought cake and he's the only one of his siblings who have had to "endure" this injustice - not once, but TWICE in his life !!  Poor little fellow ... these sorts of things always seem to happen to him - boo, hoo ...

Within five days of Farmer Boy's birthday our oven was repaired and Songbird celebrated her 16th birthday.  My, oh my, the years just seem to pass by too quickly.  It won't be long before my heart breaks as another one of my babies ventures out into the world to pursue a life apart from mom and dad.

Also since my last post, Mr.B took Farmer Boy and Songbird on an eight day hunting trip.  While they were gone, I looked after my little babysitting charge, ET, and kept up on farm chores.  In my very limited spare time I managed to put this pretty wall vignette together.  A few months ago I found the wooden ladder at a yard sale and the homemade antique hay hooks were found buried under a pile of rubbish while cleaning one of our barns.  I am not the best at home décor, but am satisfied with my efforts and the huge wall in our main entry is no longer blank and bland.

While Mr.B and the littles were hunting I chose to spend my evenings with my feet up relaxing and enjoying a few neglected crochet projects.  The relaxation and quiet were not only need but savored.  Eight days passed by far more quickly than I anticipated.  A "Catching Up - Part 2" is in the works and will be posted soon.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Funny:

Songbird was babysitting for one of her regular families one morning.  When she came home she shared the following with me ...

Songbird:  "Oh, I can cook some eggs and toast for the children, that way you can get started on your paperwork earlier."

Mother:  "Alright, that would be great!"

Songbird proceeds to rummage around the kitchen then ...

Songbird:  "Mrs. Mother, where's the bacon grease?"

Mother:  "The what?"

Songbird:  "I'm going to fry some eggs for the children, where do you keep your bacon grease?"

Mother flashes Songbird a confused and horrified expression ...

Mother:  "That's alright ... I'll cook the breakfast."

Songbird absolutely could not believe what she witnessed next.  Mother poured vegetable oil into a pan and fried eggs for the children.

Later that day Songbird returned home:

Songbird: "Mom, how could anyone eat an egg fried in vegetable oil?  Why would someone even do that?"

Me:  "Honey, bacon grease is a southern ... these people don't eat like us."

Songbird:  "I suppose that's why they are all so skinny and sickly - they don't eat enough because their food doesn't taste good ... vegetable oil & eggs, GROSS!"

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... You can take a girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"You Bought What? ..."

... "What about that mare you just bought?"
This past weekend Mr.B and the littles went to an auction with the intent of looking for tack - specifically a smaller saddle for the kids.  Not only did he find a saddle, but also picked up an Old Grey Man.  Apparently, Mr.B decided he needed a very mature older horse for the littles' riding lessons.  I was subsequently informed that he would train the mare for heeling and may breed her next spring.

Songbird has already adopted the Old Grey Man as hers.  I warned her not to get too attached to him because Mr.B plans to trade him off once they (the kids) learn to ride well.   Songbird wants to barrel race and team rope and the Old Grey Man is simply too old for those sports.

For the past decade Grandpa has been saying, "That man needs another horse."  It seems Grandpa was right.  Although Mr.B enjoys hunting and fishing,  he finds nothing more enjoyable and rewarding than working with horses.
Why did this man who had enjoyed horses for 40+ years lived without one for the past 12 years?  The simple answer is that life challenges occurred prompting Mr.B to set his most enjoyed activity aside for the benefit of his family.  That's what makes him such a good man ... he puts his family before his own desires and wants.
In John 15:13, Jesus says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  Although Jesus was referring to his upcoming crucifixion, this small verse has been my inspiration to be a steady and committed mother and wife for 30 years.  Life is full of challenges, disappointments and, often times, unfulfilled dreams.  However, on the occasions I've found myself bemoaning the things I haven't accomplished or haven't even had an opportunity to try because of my family's needs or desires, this verse reminds me that when I chose to become a mother and a wife, I was choosing to put others' needs before my own wants.  If I'm not selfless enough to do that, then I'm not selfless enough to be a mother and a wife.  A good father was a "must have" on my list for a potential husband.  In my little corner of the world Mr.B, like me, chooses to lay his life aside for his family's needs.   That's one of many characteristics that puts him in the "good father " category ...
... Oh No!  I'm starting to have warm, fuzzy feelings about Mr.B, I have to stop writing now.  I've got too much that I need to get done today.  I don't have time to sit around feeling all warm and fuzzy ...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Harvest Time ... The Last Big Push Before Winter's Rest

Despite unusually cool summer weather and an early frost and snow, which caused me to loose my melons and bring all the green tomatoes into the basement for ripening, our harvest has been better than expected.
After processing for storage, this huge pile of onions turned into ...

 ... 60 cups green onion tops for the freezer and 143 pounds for basement storage.

Cartloads of corn became ...
... 43 quarts canned corn & 28 quarts frozen corn.
And let's not forget the herbs.  Transplanting them from the garden into containers will provide added flavor to our meals throughout our long winter.

I'm taking a short break from canning and food preservation, but will push on to the beets, potatoes and carrots this coming weekend.  Since they are root veggies and hidden inside the warm earth, they will patiently wait a few more days.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musician's Dream Girl

Farmer Boy isn't the only guy in the B family who has found his dream girl ...
Friday, September 12, 2014

... During a private ceremony in North Carolina, Musician and his Bride were joined in holy matrimony.  The entire B family happily welcomes another daughter into our clan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Very Pretty Lady

As if he didn't have enough to distract him from his homeschool studies, Farmer Boy has finally met his dream girl.  Enough said ...

Farmer Boy and Chex, Blondie, Yella ... I wish he'd decide on a name ...

2014 County Fair

For kids who grow up in rural America, the local county fair is the most exciting and important event of the year.  Although Songbird and Farmer Boy reduced the number of events they participated in this year, they were still filled with eager anticipation for the 4-H & open class dog competitions and 4-H market lamb judging.

 Farmer Boy and his youngest hound, Zippy, participated in open class dog obedience.  Zippy is only a year old and Farmer Boy was so proud of how well she did for her young age.

Songbird, again, showed our farm dog, Sam.  As always, Sam was a champion.  Sam is the only boarder collie we've ever had and I must tell you she will not be the last.  Sam has convinced me that boarder collies are the BEST dogs in the world.

Songbird was a second year market lamb participant.  Although she earned a blue ribbon last year, she was on the bottom of the blue ribbon awards at number seven.  This year, she also earned a blue ribbon, BUT moved up the number four spot.  She is very proud of her progression towards the winner's circle.
She also earned Reserve Champion in market lamb showmanship AND round-robin showmanship.

Our family enjoys participating in and supporting the 4-H program.  4-H is not only teaching our children responsibility for their animals and projects, but it is also teaching them personal accountability, business management skills, time management, attention to detail, goal setting, public speaking skills, importance of community, loyalty to family and too many others to list.  Most of the money 4-H kids earn with market animal projects will be used for college, our kids are no exception. 4-H also has tremendous college scholarship opportunities.  There are oodles of young folks who would have never had the financial means for a college education if it weren't for participation in the 4-H program. If you ever find yourself looking for a worth while cause to support with your time, talents or finances, please consider contacting your local extension agent about 4-H.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Frugal Feasting Friday

I know I've posted quite a few recipes lately, but I just had to share one more with you.  This really isn't as much a recipe as it is an extremely inexpensive meal idea ... like $0.51 per person meal idea.
BBQ Sammy served with a side of Vegetable Soup
How can I serve my family soup & a hot sandwich for only $.51 per person?  Here's the breakdown ...

Homemade Vegetable Soup  FREE
(LEFTOVER veggies & home canned chicken stock, costs were calculated into the 1st  meals)

BBQ Sammy:
   1 pkg. sliced hot dog wieners  $0.98 (sale price)

  mixed with:
   1/3 c. homemade bbq sauce   $0.34

   heated through and served on:
   6 hotdog buns   $1.50

   garnished with:
   store bought onion & pickle slices   $0.25 (homegrown onions & homemade pickle slices   $0.11)

6 Servings

TOTAL:  $3.07  OR  $0.51 per person ($0.49 pp if homegrown onions & homemade pickles are used)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Know You Are In Montana When ...


... it is September 10th and it's snowing outside ...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Whiskey Glazed Jalapeno Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dove

Dove season opened last week.  Mr.B and Farmer Boy have been shooting all they can ... and bringing home all they can find - hee! hee! ... dove hunters will get that one. 
Last Thursday, besides creating the Charmin's Delights cookie, I cooked up a mess of dove served with stewed tomatoes & zucchini and southern green beans.  Sitting down to eat an entire meal that had been homegrown and wild harvested brought a sense of satisfaction that city folks can't even imagine.  Modern grocers are a wonderful convenience that I am truly grateful for.  But, knowing that my family can thrive and flourish without them is a tremendous comfort.
After you get the men folk to clean and breast out the dove, try cooking them up like this:
Whiskey Glazed Jalapeno Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dove
Whiskey Glazed Jalapeno Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dove
4 servings

Whiskey Glaze

1/2 c. sour mash whiskey
1/2 c. apple cider OR apple juice
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tsp. cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Bring to boil over med-high heat and reduce by 1/2 stirring occasionally.

The Dove

16 de-boned dove breasts
4 jalapenos, seeded & deveined, quartered into strips
8 slices of bacon, halved

1.  On a 1/2 piece of bacon stack 1/2 of a dove breast, followed by a 1/4 slice of jalapeno, topped with the other 1/2 of a dove breast.  Bring up and wrap bacon around the stack and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat until you have a total of 16 bundles.

2.  Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a wire rack.  Place dove bundles onto the wire rack and brush with glaze.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, brushing with glaze every 8-10 minutes, until dove meat is cooked through and bacon is crispy.  Remove from oven and brush with additional warm glaze before serving.

If you are not fond of the dark dove meat, substitute quail breasts.

Note:  Always cook wild game until there is "no pink".

Monday, September 8, 2014

Charmin's Delights

Last Thursday I was thinking about my dearest and bestest friend / sister Mrs.A.  I was thinking of her so hard that I quickly began to think about pistachios.  Why would thoughts of my best friend cause me to think on pistachios?  Despite having a bag stashed in my freezer, the pistachio is her favorite nut, of course.  Well ... one thing led to another and it appears that my stomach somehow got involved in the thinking process causing me to decide to bake some cookies with pistachios in them.  After some snooping around in my baking cabinet, I decided to add some dried cranberries and white chocolate chips to my cookie creation.  Hence, Charmin's Delights were born!  I've sent some off to her ... I hope she finds them worthy of carrying her name.

Charmin's Delights
Charmin's Delights

3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. softened butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium bowl combine sugars until similar to sand.  Mix in butter until fully incorporated and pasty.  Add egg and vanilla stirring vigorously until creamy.  Sift flour and baking soda into butter mixture and stir together until almost but not fully incorporated.  Stir in cranberries, white chocolate chips and pistachios until all flour is fully incorporated.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Use a small scoop to place cookie dough onto baking sheet.  Do not crowd cookies, I only bake nine per sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 12-15 minutes until slightly golden.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 2 dozen.

Hmmm, red cranberries, green pistachios, white chocolate chips ... Charmin's Delights and Christmas are somehow connecting in my mind ...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Trisha Yearwood's Twist on the Simple BLT

Did you know that Trisha Yearwood is a fabulous cook?  Her excellent kitchen skills and tasty southern recipes has landed her a spot on the Food Network, Trisha's Southern Kitchen, and she is also a published cookbook author.  I occasionally get an opportunity to watch her cooking show and I'm often surprised to find many of her recipes are strikingly similar to the southern favorites I grew up eating and learning to prepare in my Aunt J's kitchen.  My Aunt J was / is a fabulous southern cook - it's no wonder Mrs. Yearwood's recipes are similar!
I recently viewed an episode where Mrs. Yearwood turned the humble BLT into a culinary masterpiece, the BPT!  Imagine fried green tomatoes substituted for the sliced vine ripened tomato AND pimento cheese spread substituted for the mayonnaise!!  Unless you are from the south, you've probably never indulged in fried green tomatoes or pimento cheese spread.  But, I promise, once you try these southern staples, you will CRAAAVE them.  After viewing this episode, I absolutely had to make this sandwich for my family.  If you'd like Trisha Yearwood's recipes for this masterpiece, click here:  Trisha's Southern Kitchen .
Home cooked Bacon, Pimento, Fried Green Tomato & Lettuce Sandwich served with homemade Onion Rings

 My family LOVED this twisted version of the BLT.  BUT I didn't use Trisha Yearwood's recipes for this incredible meal (sorry Mrs. Yearwood).  I used my own family favorites.  My recipe for fried green tomatoes can be found on my blog page entitled, From My Kitchen to Yours, or by clicking Fried Green Tomatoes .  Below are my family's pimento cheese spread and homemade onion ring recipes.

Mrs.B's Pimento Cheese Spread

3/4 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 - 1/2 c. mayonnaise ( I like just a tad more than 1/4 c. but not as much as a 1/2 c.)
2   4oz. jars pimentos, drained

Mix together softened cream cheese and mayonnaise until well combined.  Stir in pimentos.   Using a wooden spoon, add shredded sharp cheddar cheese and combine very well, entire mixture should be orange with only red pimento specks.

In the south many folks will slap a lusciously thick layer of pimento cheese spread between two slices of white bread and eat a  "pimento cheese" sandwich.  It is also spread into celery sticks and used as a vegetable dip.  Pimento cheese spread often replaces mayonnaise or mustard various sandwiches, like Trisha Yearwood's BPT.  And forget the yolks ... replacing the yolk mixture with pimento cheese spread makes an out of this world deviled egg.

Mrs.B's Homemade Onion Rings

1 lg. onion sliced into rings and separated
2 c. milk
3 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
2 c. flour
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
oil for frying

Spread onion rings in a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Add milk and lemon juice or vinegar.  Cover and allow to sit for 1 hour, tossing onions rings occasionally.  Heat 3-4 in. oil in a heavy skillet or deep pot to 350 degrees.  Combine flour and Cajun seasoning in a pie plate.  Dredge onion rings in flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Gently place rings in hot oil.  Fry until golden on each side, turning as necessary.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels or on a wire rack.  Note:  Fry in small batches so the oil temperature is not reduced.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chiles Rellenos con Queso

One of the many things I miss most about living in Texas is the fabulous Mexican food.  In Texas even if times are too tough financially to go out to a Mexican food restaurant, there is always an abundance of inexpensive Mexican food staples available at the local grocer.  Anyone who grows up in Texas is also versed in a few Mexican recipes to cook at home.
As mentioned in previous posts, a couple years before leaving Texas, Musician, our eldest son, blessed me with a cookbook by Marge Poore entitled "1,000 Mexican Recipes".  Since moving to the Montana prairie, this cookbook has become a treasured addition to my cookbook library.  It is a fantastic cookbook and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for authentic Mexican recipes to cook at home. 
The internet has been a terrific resource for finding spices and dried herbs that are not readily available through Montana grocers.  I've turned to my garden for other items like Mexican cuisine specific peppers, tomatillos, etc. that are also not available through our local grocers.  A couple weeks ago we purchased a hog from our local 4-H livestock auction and although the processors up here do not know how to make Chorizo (they've never even heard of it), my "1,000 Mexican Recipes" cookbook has recipes that will enable me to make our own homemade Chorizo from the ground pork.
Home  cooked Chiles Rellenos con Queso with Colache and Frijoles Rancheros

 After 3/12 years of cravings, a couple weeks ago I had enough poblano peppers in our garden to prepare and indulge in Chilies Relleons con Queso (stuffed chilies with cheese), Colache (corn, zucchini and tomatoes), and Frijoles Rancheros (ranch beans). 

Here's Marge Poore's mouth watering Chiles Rellenos con Queso recipe:

Chilies Rellenos con Queso (pg. 421, "1,000 Mexican Recipes")
(stuffed chilies with cheese)

Tomato Sauce for Stuffed Chiles (pg. 43 & below)
6 fresh poblano or Anaheim chiles, roasted and peeled
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 c. all -purpose flour
4 lg. eggs, separated
1/4 tsp. salt
Vegetable oil for frying

1.  Prepare tomatoes sauce and keep warm.  Roast the chilies.  Then with a small sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise from the stem end  to within 1 in. of the tip of each roasted and peeled chile.  Keep the stems intact.  Cut out the seed pod and remove the seeds.  Pat the chilies dry with paper towels.

2.  Stuff each chile with a quarter of the cheese.  Reshape and secure the opening with toothpicks.  put all but 1 tablespoon of the flour on a plate.  Dust the stuffed chiles with flour and reserve on a plate.

3.  Put the egg whites in a large bowl, and beat until foamy.  Add the salt and beat until stiff peeks form.  Beat in the egg yolks, by hand, one at a time.  Beat in the reserved 1 Tbsp. flour.

4.  In a heavy skillet, heat about 1 c. vegetable oil until hot (375 degrees).  One at a time, dip the flour coated chiles in the egg batter to coat.  Gently place the chile into the hot oil.  Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Drain on a paper towel or wire rack.  Remove toothpicks and serve hot with the tomato sauce spooned over top.  Garnish with additional cheese, if desired.

Salsa de Jitomate para Chiles Rellenos (pg. 43, "1,000 Mexican Recipes")
(tomato sauce for stuffed chiles)

4 lg. ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped white onion
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground Mexican cinnamon (I prefer a 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper

1.  Using a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan then pour in the tomato mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the tomato juices reduce a little, 3-4 minutes.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 12 - 15 minutes, to blend the flavors.  Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


As a follower of Christ I am commanded to obey the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  I wish I could say that obedience unto the Lord is always easy and without sacrifice.  Maybe it is always easy for some folks ... but not for me.  There are times when I struggle to do as the Lord commands in His Word or as He leads through the Holy Spirit.  When I struggle with obedience I become painfully aware of my own laziness, insecurities, and even prejudices against others. 
I have always found the commandment of tithing and giving of first fruits to be easy.  However, I have not always found it easy to bless the ministry or individual the Holy Spirit leads me to bless. 
2014's gleaning from 1st trip to the garden.
Every year, as our first garden fruits become ripe, I give them to an individual or family as I feel lead by the Holy Spirit.  This is a joy and something I'm eager to do when it is a person or family I "approve" of.  However, when it is someone with whom I disagree with in lifestyle ... I struggle to obey.  Yes, my own sinful pride and prejudices rear their ugly heads.  I've even found myself struggling to bless my own children if I'm aware of any unbiblical life choices they may be indulging in.
BUT, the Lord does not call me to judge others - that's His job.  He calls me to witness the saving power and grace of Jesus Christ.  He calls me to warn the world of the perils of sin and His judgment.  He calls me to share His love and mercy for mankind - regardless of their station.

The Bible is full of promises and great blessings for those who follow Jesus Christ.  However, none of these blessings are without cost.  The price is obedience.  We, followers of Christ, are to obey even when we feel lazy, insecure about or abilities or come face to face with our own judgmental prejudices.

I personally know of more than 25 scripture verses on obedience found in both the New Testament and the Old Testament (I'm sure there are far more than I'm personally aware of).  A few of my personal favorites are:

Deuteronomy 30: 15-16 - "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;  In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and  multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it."

Philippians 4:9 - "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

1 John 3:22 - "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."

Deuteronomy 6:3 - "Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey."

Not only does obedience in the Lord bring many abundant blessings, but it can also enlighten us to our own shortcomings and sinful temptations.  This enlightenment gives us an opportunity to repent of sin we may not always be cognitively aware of.  What an awesome blessing ... an opportunity to keep our own minds, hearts and souls connected and in good rapport with the Lord!

The basket in the above photo may not look like much in the way of first fruits.  But I blessed a small family with it anyway.  Since then, despite our too cool weather,  I've gathered more than 32 quarts of green beans, a bounty of lettuce, enough poblano peppers for an entire meal, lots of fantastic slicing tomatoes and bell peppers.  Our potatoes, corn, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, onions and melons are thriving.  I genuinely believe the Lord is blessing my obedience and through repentance has forgiven my initial reservation about whom He led me to share our first fruits with.

When you struggle with obedience do you obey anyway?  Do you welcome the opportunity to repent of  your sinful desire to disobey?  What sort of abundant blessings have you experienced through obedience and repentance?  I'd love to read about your own personal testimony on this subject.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birthday with Speaker of the House ...

Not only did we get some home maintenance / repairs completed during the month of August, as mentioned in my last post, BUT I had a birthday!  How old am I?  Well, I had seriously considered turning 30 this year ... no, I had actually planned on turning 30 this year but my family had different ideas.  Mr.B and the children all wished me another happy 29th.  So, I'm still 29.
I am so abundantly blessed to have truly amazing people in my life.  ALL my children promptly wished me a happy birthday & I even received a beautiful bouquet of daisy's, my favorite flowers.  Since Mr.B was working out of town he took me out for a fine supper a couple days later. 
It was a supper to remember.  Can you believe that we dined with U.S. Speaker of the House, Mr. John Boehner?  Yes, this simple southern transplanted farm girl had supper with the United States Speaker of the House!  Well, O.K. sort of ... kind of ... not really.  We didn't actually dine WITH him ... He and his entourage were dining at the table next to us.  I could tell you what he ate, their breakfast and dinner plans for the following day but that's sort of gossipy so, I'll refrain.  Surprisingly he looks exactly like he does on T.V. and that voice of his is unmistakable. 
Although I only almost met U.S. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, I have actually met a few famous folks.  In my younger years I waited tables in upscale restaurants and clubs.  I have served John Elway (football star), Kiefer Southerland (actor), Toby Keith (singer / songwriter), Bono (singer / songwriter), Jon Bon Jovi (singer / songwriter), Earvin "Majic" Johnson (basketball star), Leslie Neilsen (actor) and a few others.  Most important lesson I gleaned from these individuals was that when they are in public, they really, really, really, desire to be treated like a regular person.  They don't want throngs of people harassing them for autographs, photos, interviews, etc.  I was always the obscure, unassuming waitress who strived to provide the best service and dining experience I could.  Judging from the tips, I did very well.  While Mr. John Boehner was dining next to us, we chose to remain obscure and allow him and his party to enjoy their supper as we enjoyed ours.
The BEST part of my birthday was my gift from my best friend / sister, Mrs.A.  She blessed me with additional pieces to my collection of 1950's Colonial Homestead dinnerware.  She sent me a covered casserole and 8 additional dessert bowls.  I now have a complete service for 12!  How is it that your best friend always instinctively knows what the PERFECT gift will be, but your own family who lives with you day in and day out is often left in a quandary?
Above, some of the pieces of my Colonial Homestead dinnerware.

 Several of the serving pieces have "God Bless Our Home" on them.  Reminiscent of the days when folks actually embraced the worship of God.
I recently used my new covered casserole to serve chicken & dumplings.  Such yummy southern goodness!
We also enjoyed the dessert bowls filled with blackberry cobbler.  Another southern delight.

Yep, my 29th birthday was a very happy one indeed!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Frugality: Maintenance

In the quest to be a good steward of our resources, I've learned through experience that proper care  and maintenance of ones possessions is the ultimate act of frugality and an important practice.  In America, the family home is most often one's largest asset.  Attention to needed care and maintenance of the family home is of the utmost importance when attempting to live a frugal lifestyle.

As busy as our summer months have been, especially August, we must make maintaining our home a priority.  Along with patching a small leak in our roof, the original 1920's basement windows were also in need of attention.  The most frugal thing to do would be to replace them with modern triple paned vinyl windows.  However, living as far out in the country as we do, we will have to wait until next spring to be put on a contractor's 4-6 month waiting list.  So, in the meantime, a $35.00 can of paint is the best temporary solution to protecting the 94 year old wood framing and preventing rot.  The very poor caulk job, done by a previous owner needs to be re-done, however the caulk is the only thing holding the glass panes in place and I didn't want to risk loosing any of the panes, especially with winter coming.  Although not a perfect solution, I think it has been a good temporary solution and the wood window casings will now be protected from the wet winter snow.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Transplanted Texans

What do Texans do in the summer evenings when living in Montana?
After dining Al Fresco, (that's fancy talk for picnicking on the back porch), they wear their cowboy hats in the spa, (a fancy word for a hot tub) while listening to country music (pre 1980).
How are you and your clan spending summer evenings?  I hope your weather is as enjoyable as ours.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Food Preservation: Herbs


There are several methods to preserving herbs.  The most popular methods being freezing in ice cubes and drying or dehydrating.  My preferred method is dehydrating.  Dehydrating herbs is very easy.  It doesn't require any special equipment and one is not dependent on electricity or a freezer that is in good working order.  When using dried or dehydrated herbs, remember to use 1/2 the amount of fresh as the flavors are concentrated when dried.
 After cutting the herbs from the plant wash them in a sink of COLD water by swishing them around.  Allow the water to settle for a few moments which will allow any garden particles to sink to the bottom of the basin.  Remove the herbs, drain the basin and repeat the wash process.  I always wash my herbs twice & my greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) three times.


 After the herbs are washed, I remove the excess water by giving them a good spin in my salad spinner.  (I've been a mother and wife for more than 30 years so, I've had plenty of time to collect all sorts of nifty kitchen gadgets, like my salad spinner.)  If you don't have a salad spinner you can place the herbs in a recycled mesh onion or potato bag and while standing on the back porch give them a good shake.
After removing the excess water I remove the leaves from the stems and spread the leaves on a baking sheet.  (Growing up in  the Gulf Coast region, our climate was too humid to air dry herbs, so I learned to dry them in the oven.)  Place the baking sheet in the oven.  If you have a standing pilot on your oven, all you have to do is close the door and wait 36 - 48 hours.  If your oven is fancy with an electric oven igniter, press the bread proofing feature and turn the oven light on.  Turn the proofing feature off after 30 minutes, keeping the light on.  Your herbs will be dehydrated within 36-48 hours.

If you need to use your oven prior to the dehydrating process being completed, just temporarily remove them and when finished baking allow the oven to cool before returning the herbs.
Once the herbs are completely dry they will easily crumble between your fingers.  I like to use recycled herb containers or canning jars for storage.  I store my containers of herbs in a cabinet near the prep station in my kitchen.  Any excess dried herbs are stored the in canning jars and placed in our food storage pantry located in the cool, dark basement.

Growing and preserving your own herbs is an easy, no sweat way of reducing your grocery bill.  As mentioned in my post, Stewardship in the Kitchen: Setting a Realistic Grocery Budget , when priced by the pound, herbs are the most expensive grocery item you will purchase.  Since herbs are so easy to grow and preserve, anyone can implement this technique and save money while still eating well.  Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Will $1.39 Buy You?

Well, a chicken fried steak dinner, of course.   (Yes, one can take a southern girl out of the south, but the south can't be taken out of a southern girl).  My last POST showed you how I can save up to 40% on ground beef.  Using that same principal, I can save 56% on beef cutlets ($4.89 lb. up here), also known in the Gulf Coast region as cubed steak,  the cut of beef used to make chicken fried steak.  I, again, purchased sirloin steak at half off from the "reduced for quick sale" bin.  Instead of grinding it into ground beef, I used my meat mallet to pound it into beef cutlets - 3 minutes of work.
Our green beans were FREE -  homegrown and home canned from last summer's garden.  The chive and parsley potatoes cost $1.32 for six servings and the gravy and steak breading cost only $0.09 per person.
What sort of strategies have you implemented to reduce this week's grocery bill?