In the Groove…

I don’t know what has come over this house, but I am loving it. Things seem to be going smoothly and I am not sure why. As some of you may know we homeschool, which is awesome in most aspects. The one downside for us is it can be extremely tough to get the remodel projects done on our farmhouse. Well, I finally broke down and did something. Now I may be jumping the gun on how much I love it and it may be a bit too soon to be singing the praises of it. I signed A up for Time4Learning. I am a major stubborn donkey and obstinate butt and so is A [8 now, gah}. Well lets just say doing school took WAY longer than it should. Also there were a lot of loud voices and tears {on both parties}. I finally just gave up and told myself something had to change.

We have been using it for about a week now and so far there has not but a negative remark about doing school from her, or me. In fact there has even been a couple of days where she is turning the laptop on and doing it as soon as she is getting up…astounding! Our relationship has gotten much better as well.

Time4Learning costs $19.95 a month {you do get a 14 day trial period with 100% money back and each additional kid is $14.95} which okay when you think about it works out to be about the same as curriculum. They grade everything for you and even have scheduling capabilities. If your child is a little behind or ahead on certain subjects you can switch grades up. It is perfect for A since she is such a visual learner. {As we are a Christian family and I am a creationist I do keep an eye on what exactly is being taught.} I love it also because it does read most parts of it to her. She still has a hard time with reading and as soon as she gets comfortable with her and I doing school things together I will bring in a more intense reading time. For now though it has been awesome. What usually would take 4+ hours takes her maybe an hour. All because we fought.

I had an epiphany the other day, I couldn’t figure out why the last couple of days seemed to be longer and I was getting more things done. Then it dawned on me. I had not spent those days fighting her to get school done! {Although, part of it may be the book I am reading this month.} Even this weekend, she wanted to do some schoolwork. AMAZING!

If you want to sign up here is referral link, Time4Learning, letting y’all know that I will receive a free month or $25 for each person that signs up and stays on after the 14 day trial period.

Minute Steak Dog Fry

We were low on “dog food” tonight and a 45 minute drive one way was not a pleasant thought. I knew I did not have the time to defrost a whole chicken so that meant either something with hamburger or round steak. Since the kids are not fans of round steaks they ended up on the menu.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice {3 cups after cooked}
  • 1 minute steak about, 1-2 lbs cut into about inch squares
  • 3 medium to large carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp basil
  • Flour
  • Coconut oil and EVOO

I started by cooking the organic brown rice while my helpers took care of prepping the vegetables. The kids are getting to be such big helpers in the kitchen. After the veggies were prepped I placed the carrots in the steamer and cooked for about 10 minutes then added the peas.

While the carrots were steaming I mixed the apple and bell pepper in small bowl with the cumin, basil, and garlic powder.

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I started heating up my cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons coconut oil. While that was heating up I started I rolling the steak in flour, I used about a half a cup.

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Once the cast iron was ready I put the steak in and cooked until it was lightly browned. Then I added about 2 tablespoons of EVOO and the apple/bell pepper mix into the cast iron. Mixing it all together and then covering the pan. I stirred occasionally until the meat and apple/bell pepper were melding there flavors. I managed to have the steamed veggies, rice and meat all cooked at about the same time, win!

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My hubby decided to trade his dinner for this dish, and his only complaint was lack of some sweet banana peppers. They would give it just a little kick!

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Dog-Gone Chili

Last night I made chili. It was sooo cold and I knew my hubby would need something to warm him up after working a long day. I decided to make some chili for the doggies too. If I had to pee outside when its this cold I would need something warm as well. That and I had a 3 pound thing of ground turkey to use up in one sitting.

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. evoo
  • 1-2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 4 – 6 oz cans of tomato paste {or about 24 oz}
  • {2 cups water, if needed}
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder {if you are uncomfortable using it, leave it out}
  • 2 tbsp. wheat germ

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, place the turkey, evoo, squash, carrot, and 1/2 c water. Cook until turkey is cooked and the squash and carrots have changed color. About 15 minutes. Then pour in the kidney beans and tomato paste. At this point it looked too thick so I added 2 cups of water. Stir the tomato paste and kidney beans{and water if added}  until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients; apple, bell pepper, seasonings, and wheat germ. Let it simmer for as long as you like.

Now when my hubby got home I had 2 pots of chili on my stove, his and the recipe above. He tasted his, then he tasted theirs, and he asked me why? Why does theirs taste better than mine???? I am not sure why I make better food than when I follow a recipe from someone else. We laughed and said this is perfect dish for the blog…and the perfect name, Dog-Gone Chili, since it was a doggone it moment.

 
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A DIY Christmas: Part 1

We had gobs of DIY Christmas presents happening around the farm this year. It started with a special family birthday sign I made last minute for my grandma’s birthday on the 15th and the craziness of trying to finish presents continued through Christmas Eve.

For my fabulous sisters in law and my gorgeous cousin, I made Bath & Body bags. Now I am crunchy so not just any old product will do. Add to it that I wanted to spend minimum…not because of the lovely ladies, but because of my budget. I managed to scrape up some fabulous creations from my kitchen and stores. I made them some fabulous Peppermint Bath Salts, Lavender Oatmeal Soak, and Brownie Sugar Scrub. I swear to God the Brownie scrub smells delicious!

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I found the recipe for Peppermint Bath Salts at Our Best Bites/Fizzy Peppermint Bath Salts

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The Lavender Oatmeal Soak modified from Princess Pinky Girl/Lavender Bath Soak {I tripled this recipe.}

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Finally, the decadent Brownie Sugar Scrub at The Idea Room/Chocolate Sugar Scrub I quadrupled this recipe so I could also give a jar to my grandma…she loves chocolate!

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Check out the tutorial links above each item for detailed directions. They were super easy. Definitely perfect for your significant other to make or them for you. I even managed to have a little left over for myself and am waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them!

 

Chunky Chow Chili

I’ve been busy in the kitchen again.

Don’t you love going on Pinterest looking for one thing and then finding something else. That’s how I stumbled upon this recipe for Sweet Potato, Black Bean, & Lentil Vegetarian Chili . I love how it is meatless. It helps me keep costs down and for the times when I don’t have meat for the dogs. Double Bonus!!

Granted I had to make a few changes, since some of the seasonings are toxic to dogs…but it was super easy to subtract and add seasonings.

The ingredients…

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curcumin
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used Chicken)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 – 15oz cans tomato sauce (I used Hunt’s Organic)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 –  black beans, drained and rinsed
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil, the garlic, curcumin, & cumin. Simmer together until coconut oil melts.
  2. Add the vegetable broth, 3 cups water, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Tomato paste is very thick so make sure you have that mixed in very well. Stir in the lentils and carrots. Turn the heat up to high, bringing the broth to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, add 1/2 cup water or stock, basil, parsley, cubed sweet potato and black beans and simmer on medium low for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

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Now there were a few ingredients, seasonings, that were left out. These are toxic to dogs. If you would like to make this recipe for both you and your four legged moocher try putting the missing seasonings (see below) into an old seasoning container and shake them together and sprinkle it on your dish. Onions can be added by mixing in some onion powder or sauteing fresh onions, sprinkled with the seasonings below & coconut oil, to serve as a topping on your portion.

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (start with 1 1/2 tablespoon if you’re sensitive to heat)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bowl and serve!

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Chicken Puppy Stew

I love making dog food! My pups are truly spoiled with what they get to eat…and I love that they can not comment back if it’s not 100% delicious.
I was feeling a bit creative this afternoon, we have a LOT of butternut squash and cherry tomatoes. A lot. So I started at pinterest looking for some interesting recipes. Now there are a few things dogs can’t eat and some things that are use in moderation that you will find in most recipes. So I usually skip or reduce those ingredients. I found this one neat recipe that inspired this recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 1/2″ long strips
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 3 cups Water +1/2 cup {can sub. with Chicken Broth}
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • 4 cups Butternut Squash, 1/2″-1″ cubes
  • 1 medium Carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup Brown Rice, uncooked
  • 1 heaping tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 8 Bell or Cherry Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Peas

I try to make my recipes as simple as possible. I hate making dirty dishes and it’s easier to share if it’s easier to cook!

I started by putting the water, chicken, garlic {clove}, oregano, rosemary, and sage into my dutch oven.
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This is about the size of garlic clove I put in.

imageWhile the chicken was simmering in the dutch oven I steamed my butternut squash. After about 10 minutes I pulled about half of the squash out and put into a bowl. At this point I put the brown rice in with the chicken.

When the rest of the butternut squash was all steamed, I put it into a second bowl {2 bowls of butternut squash}. Then I put the carrots into the steamer.

While the carrots steamed I put the first bowl of squash into my trusty cast iron and roasted it in the coconut oil and butter.

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The second bowl of butternut squash got smashed and thrown into the dutch oven.
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Then I added the diced tomatoes.image

And the frozen peas.

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I let it simmer for about 15 minutes on low and it was done!

It does thicken up quite a bit at the end of cooking so added about 1/2c more water at the end. All the recipes I have here for dog food have been people and puppy approved. My hubbies only complaint was lack of pepper or Montana steak seasoning…which isn’t the greatest for pups but feel free to add to your own plate!

Da BOMB!

 

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I have a few of the best neighbors in the world.  Seriously, AMAZING! Anywho one of them makes fabulous bath bombs. I tend to be a bit skeptical about them working in my extremely hard water. Blah hard water, it is a bane.

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She gave me this fabulous orange scented bubble bar that looked like a scoop of yummy sherbert months ago and I finally had a chance to use it. I started the bath water and started crunching it in pieces, I think she mentioned about possibly getting 2 bubble baths out of it, but I like bubbles and I knew we had hard water like crazy so I used all of it.

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It started off going nicely, but I was somewhat disappointed in the bubble quantity{above}…then it really kicked in {below}.

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The bubble bath was amazing!! No kids {at there grandma’s}, candles, and a book. An hour later my water was getting a touch cold and my bubble level was this…

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Not bad for a scoop of ice cream.

The Best Tool

I have been putting a lot of thought into a “best tool” or the “top 5 tools” post for awhile. I would have said a drill, a circular saw, and sander years ago. That’s what we had starting off. Then we got upgraded to a touchy table saw and used miter saw. This past year my hubby finally realized the gem we had in the barn in the way of a Makita table saw. It is amazing how well a good tool will work 20 years later.

All the tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t have knowledge. Two ways you can get this knowledge is looking & listening and experience. Working on our farmhouse, we have learned a lot by “experience”. Sometimes it is the hard way and sometimes it’s the even harder way.

The one tool I wished we would have utilized is the internet, granted 10 years ago when my then fiance bought the farmhouse neither one of us thought to use google. {I’m wondering if google was even popular then?} The one thing I am happy about though is all the demo we got out of the way at the beginning. We gutted every room except the kitchen, which I wish we would have done then too. {I have plans to demo one of the walls…maybe this summer.}

When we pulled up the 70’s carpet…believe me it was gross…they had put tar paper over the milk painted wood floors. I knew we had gorgeous wood from the spots that had been left bare.  We were smart when we “covered” it up, we just laid glue-less linoleum over it in the kitchen and floating laminate in our living room.

Fast forward to 2 years ago…I want wood flooring in the kitchen but that involves cutting out the old wood floors and then laying new down. OUCH on co$t!! I had always wanted to salvage the floors. I know people thought I was stupid. Or crazy. Well after scraping up the tar paper and layers of milk paint with wood chisels {yes wood chisels} in my hallway, I decided there had to be an easier way. Enter the internet…that blessed thing we didn’t have in the house the first winter. I do not know who the person was that stumbled upon this diy gem, but THANK YOU!!! I finally found the back, time, and sanity saving way to get all the layers of “good stuff” off my kitchen floor. A wallpaper steamer!!! Can I get a Hallelujah?!?!?

Before….
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…After!

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Internet…best tool ever!

Puppy Chow Chili

I was on a creative streak while working on the Hamburger (And More) Patties.

Presenting…

Puppy Chow Chili!

Now this most tantalizing recipe is not only for pups but people too! BONUS!

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 3 large chicken breast and ribs {can be substituted with any other kind of chicken or turkey}
  • 4-5 chicken hearts/gizzards
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 – 12 oz cans of tomato paste
  • 1 small handful spinach, shredded
  • 1/2 handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove pressed
  • 1/2 cup water

I started off by overnight soaking my beans and cooking the chicken breasts in my crock pot overnight {high 5-6 hours, then it switches to keep warm}. The next morning I cooked the beans for 1 1/2-2 hrs in water. {You can use canned beans if you want. If using canned beans and ground chicken/turkey I would just throw it in the crock pot all together.} While beans are boiling, I pulled apart the chicken breasts and removed the bones and prepped the veggies and seasonings. When beans are done, add the beans, then veggies and seasonings into crock pot with chicken. Add tomato paste and 1/2 cup water. Stir ingredients in well and let cook for an hour on low in crock pot…just to get flavorings through out.

Some pics for ya of the process…

 
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Hamburger {& More} Patties – Review

I have an awesome cookbook for my dogs. I purchased it last year when Duffy was hit with a rough diagnosis. Feed Your Best Friend Better by Rick Woodford {here on Amazon.} I tried a couple of the recipes last year and just tried another one last night.

Hamburger (And More) Patties

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Divide into eight portions and roll into ball. Press flat to 3/4″ thick and 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Cook and serve after cool. {For more details on recipe and portion sizes please look into getting your own copy, it’s worth it!}

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image{I cooked them on my cast iron with coconut oil.} image

image She loved it and I am sure the boys will too!