Archive for March, 2012

About a year ago, I read a beautiful blog entry about comforting friends when they experience the loss of a loved one.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read it.  Fortunately, I remembered the idea she suggested.

The author said as soon as she learns that someone she cares about has a death in the family, she takes to the kitchen to bake them a loaf of bread and cook them a pot of soup.  At a time when you quite often feel helpless, cooking a simple re-heat meal that is full of love and comfort is well…comforting.

Yesterday, I learned that a friend of ours lost her mother to a rather short but traumatic bout with cancer.  Last night, I started a loaf of Rustic Italian Bread.  Today, I made a pot of cream of potato soup.  We’ll drop it off this evening.

Happy Homesteading,



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About once a week I like to clean out my fridge of stray vegetables, leftover meats, open boxes of broth and miscellaneous dairy products that are approaching their suggested use by dates.  Last night, with the cold weather as my inspiration, I decided to make a chicken pot pie.  When I peeked into the fridge to see what vegetables were in the crisper, I spied a quart of buttermilk that was left from last week’s awesome buttermilk pancakes.  The light bulb went off…buttermilk biscuits and a deconstructed chicken pot pie.


4 cups of chopped vegetables – I used turnips, carrots, bell peppers & mushrooms

¼ c. chopped onion

2 cooked chicken breasts – chopped or shredded

¼ c. butter

3 Tbs. flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent.  Add chopped vegetables and sauté until tender crisp.  Sprinkle in flour and stir until all the vegetables are coated.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in chicken broth and stir.  When sauce begins to thicken, add chicken, cream, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

Serve over a buttermilk biscuit

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

For the buttermilk biscuit – instead of cutting the butter into cubes, grate cold butter on a cheese grater.  It will become coarse crumbs with your flour much quicker and speed is of the essence with buttermilk biscuits.

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One of the most important items in our home is our household notebook (HN). The keeper of all information, this notebook has come to my rescue on more than one occasion. What is in it, you ask? Well, I’d be delighted to share.

Our HN includes…

Emergency Information

• Emergency phone numbers

• Emergency plan that I found on ready.gov


• Cleaner recipes

• Monthly cleaning list – a list of chores – like dusting chandeliers – that only have to be done monthly


• Yearly financial goals

• Charitable donations list

• Bill due date list – when each bill comes due each month

• Bill pay spreadsheet – I plan when each bill gets paid each month on a quarterly basis. This way nothing gets forgotten and I can pay extra when it’s available.


• Friend (well, parents of friends) phone numbers & emails

• Acetaminophen & Ibuprofen dosing pamphlet from the pediatrician

• Vaccination records

• Coloring sheets

• Activity ideas

• Stickers – I can’t possibly use all of the address labels that get sent to us from charities that we support. Instead, I cut off the decorative element of the label and save it for stickers.


• Health information

• Microchip information


• Insurance information – so I don’t have to go outside to locate the information when vehicle registration comes along… is this one organized or lazy?

• Service records – I downloaded a great form for this on Excel.


• Inventory of items we have stored for an emergency

• Ideas that we have for preparedness – take first aid class, buy a food dehydrator etc.

Family Tree

• Any documents I stumble upon while assembling our family tree

• A handwritten copy of the branches of our tree – it’s easier for me to focus if it’s handwritten.

 Home Improvement/Décor

• To-Do list

• Sketches of things to build for the house

• Paint chips

• Catalog pages of desired purchases

• How-to’s for new skills

• Gardening ideas & guides


• Miscellaneous prayer cards

• Ideas to teach our faith to our child


• Ideas for future entries


• For the couple of times a year that we want to order out

 Hospital Board – I chair an advisory board for our local hospital

• Contact information of other members

• Vendor information

• Ideas for newsletter

 Odds & Ends

• Gift ideas

• Photo ideas

• Vacation/outing ideas

• Township garbage & recycling schedule

• List of when different fruits and vegetables are in season in our zone

On the back of the HN, I have a calendar for the year. On the spine of the HN, I have our yearly to-do list (we don’t make resolutions). This binder really helps to keep us on track. It’s portable and has virtually all the information we’d need at the tips of fingers.

Happy Homesteading,


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The other day I learned that a fellow blogger, Lightly Crunchy, had attempted a similar version of homemade shampoo and had the same icky results that I did.  Hearing about her shared disappointment reignited my desire to find a shampoo recipe I could live with or, dare I say, enjoy.

Nearly two weeks ago, I found a shampoo recipe on One Good Thing by Jillee that looked like it would fit the bill.  However, I was hesitant to have another go after my first homemade shampoo debacle.  But, today I strengthened my resolve and went for it.


½ c. castille soap

½ c. coconut milk

1 tsp olive oil

20 drops lemon essential oil

Pour all ingredients in a bottle.  Shake to combine.

So far, so good.  I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

I needed to use about 1 Tbs. of shampoo to get my desired amount of suds.

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Every year on the first day of spring, my mom would always stand an egg on end.  It was always so “egg-citing” to watch.  Yet when I moved out on my own, I eventually forgot about the fine upstanding egg.  Last year, I remembered and dazzled Jon with my steady hand and “magical powers”.  Ever the researcher, he sought out an explanation online.

Mom had always been told that the egg balancing had something to with gravitational pull on the equinox.  However, it seems you can balance an egg any day of the year! 

This egg was balanced yesterday.

Whatever the reasoning, it doesn’t lessen the fun.  Welcome Spring!

Happy Homesteading,


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My mother chose my middle name to honor her favorite aunt.  The older sister of my grandmother always had a special place in her heart for my mom and, in turn, me.  She was a remarkable woman, ahead of her time.  Born in the 1920’s, she was the 3rd child to a newly immigrated Italian family. A career woman before being career woman was trendy, she worked for one of the largest banks in the world, starting in the secretarial pool and eventually retiring as the administrative assistant to the vice president in charge of theManhattan headquarters.  She never married.  That is not to say that she never loved. 

I have many fond memories of my great aunt.  To me, she was a woman of the world.  She knew Anthony Bennedetto since they were children, long before he became Tony Bennett.  She taught me the correct way to set a table for formal dining – yes, all the knives, forks and spoons!   She took me toLincolnCenterto see the Nutcracker at Christmas.  She introduced me to my first croissant.  She was also a fantastic cook.

The family favorite was her Fettucine Alfredo.  Everyone would be excited when the family gathered and we learned the she was doing the cooking as it would mean mounds of her fettucine would be served.  Today, on what would have been her 91st birthday, I’d like to share her recipe with you.


1 lb. fettucine

¼ c. unsalted butter

3 c. cream

½ lb. fontina cheese – cubed

2 Tbs. pecorino romano

For serving:

pecorino romano


Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Before the pot comes to a boil, place butter in a heavy bottomed pan and melt over medium low heat.  When melted, slowly pour the cream over the spoon and down the side into the pan. This helps the cream and butter blend with the difference in temperature.

Salt the pasta water.  After you drop in the fettucine, add the fontina to the cream & butter mixture.  Add 2 Tbs. pecorino romano. Gently stir until melted.

Drain the pasta when done.  Gently add the pasta to the cheese, cream & butter.  Gently toss the pasta to coat in the sauce.

Let it rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Gently toss again and let it rest for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Gently toss once more.  Turn of the heat and let it rest 3 to 5 more minutes.

It’s now ready to serve.

My aunt said the same thing every time she handed someone a plate of fettucine.  “Lots of cheese & pepper.  That’s the secret.”

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

Though a deviation from my aunt’s recipe, I use Danish Fontina as it is more mild than Italian Fontina.  Danish Fontina has a red wax rind.  Italian Fontina is aged longer and therefore has a natural rind.

I use an enamel Dansk pot for this dish.  My aunt used a now out of production Dansk paella pot.

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Sicky Honey

My mom was just diagnosed with bronchitis.  What a stinky thing to have with this early spring!  While her lungs are clear, she has a nasty cough.  I just reminded her to take her sicky honey.  Sicky honey is, truth be told, a not very tasty concoction but it can help relieve symptoms when you’re sick.

Please note: I am not suggesting you drink sicky honey instead of visiting your doctor, nor am I giving any medical advice.  If you are ill, trust the experts not a blogger.  If you’ll allow me a moment on my soapbox: If you are given an antibiotic prescription, please follow the directions given and take it for the length of time prescribed.

For whatever reason, this really seems to mellow out the our symptoms and helps us feel better.  Sicky honey is our family’s equivalent of the chicken soup remedy.

Sicky Honey:

2 Tbs. honey – recent studies suggest honey can calm a cough

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar – some believe it helps with sinus infections & sore throats

Several gratings of fresh ginger – commonly used in Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper – helps break up mucus (think of eating spicy foods)

Water – as much as you need to be able to chug it down

Happy Homesteading,


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