Simple Organic Dog Food in the Crockpot-Freezable!

If you’re anything like us, you want to give your precious fur-babies the very best life you can. There are just not enough words to describe how much I care for our dog-child, Lilly. We recently had to lay Johnny’s dog, Frank, to rest and it was one of the hardest things we have had to endure as a couple. The emotional vulnerability that comes with losing a pet that you are extremely close to is hard to deal with. Frank was there for Johnny before I was! They enjoyed many beach trips together, and since I have been around for the past (almost) two years we have gone to the lake just about every weekend, with Frank as our captain. If either one of us caught a fish, Frank was the first to inspect it and decide whether it was a keeper or not. Most of the time he decided he should just eat the fish right there! Frank is laid in the ground on our acre of land on the farm; Johnny made him a cross and we take him wild flowers sometimes. Through the pain of losing a family member we have made even more of an effort to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of our Lilly. She is such a light in our lives. Just like a grandmother, when you care for someone you want to FEED them. You want them to eat well. Humans have a choice, we make decisions about what we eat. Dogs, on the other hand literally eat what they are given. That is why I started making Lilly’s food with REAL ingredients in the crock-pot. When I first heard my best friend Andi tell me this is what she does for her furbaby, my first thought was; “Lilly is an outside dog, she runs around on the farm, she is very athletic and could kill a bird or rabbit and just chow down, I don’t need to make her food for her.” But I chewed on the idea for more than a week, and I realized that Andi couldn’t be more right. Dog food you find in the grocery store is packed with animal by-products and grains, this not what we should be putting our dogs bodies if we truly care about them. Even the “better” dog food like Blue Buffalo is a highly processed product and for the price of that food it’s not so strange to consider buying organic ingredients to make your own. As crazy as it sounds to make food for your dog it can seriously ADD YEARS TO THEIR LIVES. It’s also a plus that its VERY easy to do, and you could potentially make several months-worth of food in just a few days.

Frank and Lilly

Here’s the recipe! (Thanks Andi!)

 Ingredients:

3lbs Chicken Thighs

1 Can Organic Sweet Peas

1 Sweet Potato

1 Can Organic Carrots

1 Can Organic Beans (Kidney, Black, or Pintos)

1 Apple

2 Tbs. Olive Oil


Directions:

Put all ingredients except olive oil in crockpot for 8-9 hours on low.

Mash together with 2 tbs. olive oil.

Measure out 1/4-1/2 cup size servings and freeze.

In the bags ready to freeze

I recommend mixing in their regular dry food with it and gradually wean out the dry food slowly over a weeks time. I recommend doing this because switching food abruptly could cause stomach issues, so to be on the safe side don’t forget this step!

Enjoy your pup for as long as you can! Little moments make the big ones, so always be present with them!

My sweet Lilly Anne (the road was closed by the way)

 

5 Beekeeping Tips for Beginners

In preparation for the honey harvest, I thought I would go over some tips for first time beekeepers. Some of these I have learned the hard way.

When making the decision to become a hobby beekeeper it is important to make sure you have researched and truly want to care for those mighty creatures. There are a LOT of rookie mistakes that can be avoided quite easily. Here are some of them;

  1. Don’t focus so much on how wonderful the honey harvest will be and forget that the bees need the honey to get through the winter. That is why they produce it. Either leave them some or feed them sugar water while it is still warm out and they are able to cap it.

IMG_3354

2. Don’t forget to give them space! After you put them in the hive, you will need to feed them for about 2 weeks, after which you will need to put on medium supers with a queen excluder in between the brood box and the supers. If the bees feel that they don’t have enough room they will SWARM. Also don’t forget stop feeding them when you put the honey supers on or else you’ll just get sugar water “honey.”

3. On the other hand, RESPECT BEE SPACE! This simply means that bees don’t like empty space in the hive. If you take out the middle five frames when you install the package in your hive, and you don’t replace them, the bees will fill that empty space with comb. They do this to make it easier to regulate the temperature inside the hive. Make sure all your frames are tight together and only leave room enough for the bees to crawl around inside or you will find lots of burr comb, or comb that has been made just to fill space.

4. TREAT FOR MITES. Yes they are areal thing, yes they will be the demise of your hive, and yes they are evil. Don’t think what I thought my first year of beekeeping; “I live in a blessed place, my whole life is great! My bees won’t get mites! I will just love them and they will be fine!” NO. They won’t. Just treat them okay?

5. Be sure that you can be calm when faced with a lot of bees flying around. Make certain that you can keep your cool and NOT SWAT. It’s so very important not to swat. It only makes the situation worse. Just breathe, make every movement slow and steady, don’t jerk or run. It’s okay. I would recommend that you use the proper safety equipment but I don’t and that’s something I need to work on. If you go in the hive at the right time of day and in the right conditions, you’ll find that you don’t really need that all anyway.

 

 

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a start! If you have a real interest in beekeeping reach out to your county extension office and see if they have any classes or programs for beekeeping beginners. Find a local beekeeper (they are usually very kind, considering the fact that you have to be that way when working with bees) and learn everything you can from him or her. Don’t be too prideful to ask for advice or help.

 

And don’t forget… BEE HAPPY, HONEY!

20 Minute Double Chocolate Muffins

I have been craving muffins lately. I am getting married in 76 days so I have been avoiding sugar but I just couldn’t resist making these! They are so simple and bake quickly! I also purchased an old Hoosier cabinet and just had to take some pictures!

IMG_5397

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup oil

1 egg (beaten)

1 cup semi sweet morsels

 

 

 

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients and set aside

IMG_5401

Mix all wet ingredients in  large bowl and mix in dry ingredients.

img_5400.jpg

Mix well

Grease a 12 muffin tin or use cupcake liners

Fill each about 3/4 full

img_5399.jpg

 

Bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean

IMG_5398

 

 

The American Dream… DEBT FREE

So, you’re just like every young couple in America, trying to get started. Trying to find your little spot in the world and thrive. You can imagine how wonderful life will be when you and your signifigant other get your own home, start a little farm and pop out some children that look just like you. You are even excited about the future housework you will endure as a wife. You dream of everything a young lady should, but there’s one small problem. You will more than likely go into hundred-thousands of dollars in debt, but hey, it’s all part of the American dream. Pay the mortgage, take the kids to school, buy the groceries, pay the mortgage, clean the house, pay the mortgage… I think you get it. That’s how Americans are nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can achieve your dreams completely debt free if you wish. The real American dream is about hard work, and that’s what you’ll have to do.

Step 1: When you and your boyfriend, fiancé, husband, whatever he may be, decide to start your life together the very first thing you need to start doing if you are both employed is live off of one paycheck. This means living with your parents if you’re able. This means no fancy restaurants. This means date night is simply being in each other’s company. When you are able to put one of your paychecks completley in savings you will be shocked at how quickly it adds up. You’ll need this little nest egg to buy land if you don’t already have access to it through family. I have been blessed enough to live on a family farm, but I know that I’m the minoroty.

Step 2: Buy land. Buy as much or as little as you like once you have the money saved up. It’s very important to have the cash when buying land. There is always a better “cash price”.  Cash is king. Save up DONT borrow.

Step 3: I know that your dream home is probably a 2 story farm house with a wrap around porch and a elegant stairway with shiplap everywhere, and trust me you’ll get there. But you have to start out with a mobile home. Mobile homes are cheap, quick, and easy. If you can find an older one that needs work that’s even better! When I say “Mobile home” I am not talking about a brand new one. You have to find one at least 10 years old if not older. But check with your county because there are restrictions about moving old mobile homes. In my county you can go back to 1979. Any home before then is considered scrap and they don’t think it’s safe to move. But find one that needs some work. That way you can negotiate more on the price. Don’t forget not to get in too deep because you will be doing all the repairs.

Step 3: Simply step one all over again. You will need to save a signifigant amount of money AGAIN. But you can do it. By now you are a pro at “just getting by”. Spend your weekends couponing instead of going out. It’s actually fun. Also this is the time to create as much of a self sustained life as you can. Get chickens. Any one can successfully keep chickens, and you get free breakfast. Find your niche and do it. Make and sell soap. Start beekeeping. Sell that honey, honey! Start selling (almost) everything you own. Leaving just enough for what you need. Don’t hoard. Unless it has true sentimental value, get rid of it! Facebook is a wonderful place to sell. Dave Ramsey once said “sell so much that your kids think they are next.” If you don’t know Dave Ramsey please take the time and read something of his. Thank you. But seriously sell all that stuff you don’t use! Don’t hold onto stuff because you “may” need it “one” day.

Step 4: Buy rental properties and rent them out! Watch your money come in every month. Find good renters and listen to them. Keep the rental properties nice and fixed up. If something were to happen and you were to be unemployed you would still be able to survive with your monthly income from renters.

Step 5: Wait until you have yet another nest egg and build that big beautiful home that you dream of. By now you will be quite the handy man and more than capable. What you are unsure of you can always YouTube it. You’ll be set. Mortgage free.

 

My fiance and I are currently on this journey. This is our plan. We have found a 1985 double wide mobile home, it needs to be completely re-done but we are so ready for it. We plan to stay the course and enjoy our debt free life! More to come on this wonderful experience!

10 Things To Do This Winter

I don’t think the beauty of winter is fully appreciated.

I remember my grandmother telling me as a child that winter is a time for the ground to rest; that snow puts the earth into a deep sleep so that the soil can be revived and ready for the next planting season. My grandmother (still living) is the person I have looked up to most in my life. She is so wise, and loves to she her wisdom with me. Last week, she asked me what she could get me for Christmas. In recent years she has given me family heirlooms and treasures, but this year I wanted something different. I simply asked her for a handwritten tutorial on how she harvests chickens in her own words. Sure enough she wrote down on paper, with her delicate hands, how she slaughters chickens. She taught me how to do it when I was a child, and there’s no doubt that I know how to; but I wanted it in her handwriting. I want to be able to show my children one day, her hand written note and tell them that she taught me just like I am going to teach them. Money can’t buy that folks! For the upcoming winter I have made a list of things to help you appreciate the beauty of winter and enjoy it.

  1. Plan your garden for next spring

Draw out where you want things. If you have always planted tomatoes in the same spot there’s a good chance that you have depleted the soil of the nutrients that tomatoes take and, though butter beans may flourish in that same spot, your tomatoes will be lacking. Rotate your crops to keep the soil as balanced and nutrient-dense as possible.

2. Bake!

I hate baking in the summer. It feels like my entire home gets hotter from the oven. Everyone in the household complains when they come in from the field and it’s even hotter in the house than it is outside. Use winter as an opportunity to really dial in your perfect loaf of wheat bread or yeast rolls.

3. Read a good book

Not just one either. Read at least a book per month. Read about things you are interested in, and don’t force yourself to read about something you absolutely hate. I find myself reading a lot of Joel Salatin books (Folks, This Ain’t Normal is my favorite!) and a lot of books on beekeeping. I also try to stick to actual copies of books, e reader versions just don’t have the same tactile effect as real ink-on-real-paper book. Plus old books smell oddly good.

4. Take some photos

At least one time this winter, find something beautiful outside and take a photo. It’s not hard. You can even post it to Instagram if you’d like (tag me if you do @megannhope21). Finding one beautiful thing in what most people call a bleak season will help you realize that the earth is resting up for a beautiful spring. Even if you hate winter, you can appreciate that sentiment.

5. Build something

Personally this winter I plan to get all the supplies for three raised bed gardens and two movable chicken coops. Once I gather all the supplies I need I will start building them. If you can hit a nail you can do anything. Scratch that. If you are a WOMAN who can hit a nail, you can do anything.

6. Do something crafty

Find inspriation to re-do a room in your home; redecorate, paint, turn old things into better new things, do something with a mason jar, make your laundry room pretty, just something! Pintrest has so much good stuff on it, I could spend all day on there. Go to Hobby Lobby and find a new craft project you think you’d like to try; knitting, crocheting, soapmaking, candlemaking, sewing, SO MUCH STUFF. Just find something and do it!

7. Clean your home

Go room my room, chore by chore. Deep clean. Don’t wait for spring cleaning. Go ahead and get it done. Clean out you freezers, pantry, kitchen cabinets. Create a pile of yard sell stuff to accumulate until a springtime yard sale or donate to Goodwill.

8. Travel

Take a trip to somewhere warm, after you get the chores done of course! And if you can find a responsible teenager to take care of your animals while you’re gone. Pay them well.

9. Workout

Join a gym and go workout! Go to bodybuilding.com and find a workout and meal plan for FREE! They also have a supplement store that is very reasonably priced. Get serious about your fitness goals and do it. Gain self-esteem and lift heavy. Don’t worry, you will not get bulky.

10. Spend time with friends or fur babies

Really take time to be thankful for all the positive people in your life. Happiness breeds happiness. Winter is notorious for making people significantly more depressed. The lack of warm weather and shorter days can be a mood killer. Realize that happiness is a choice and make it a priority.  Do something nice for a friend without expecting something in return. Be the happy that you want and you will get it.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list, you can build on it and use it to make this winter the most productive one you’ve ever had.

Easy Apple Pie with 4-Ingredient Pie Crust

I don’t always make homemade pie crust, but when I do it’s for apple pie. Just kidding, I do always make homemade pie crust because I have the SIMPLEST recipe EVER! I love good food, but love good food that is made as simply as possible even more!

img_4136

With the harvest season quickly leaving, I realized two things; 1. I am not ready for Thanksgiving at all. And 2, I hadn’t made a single apple dessert. So here she is! I had some extra motivation when I visited a very good friend and left with a bag of apples that she so graciously gave me! She is a wonderful photographer and before I left her home I had posed for what turned out to be my favorite picture of myself ever. Bask in its beauty above.

I will get straight to the good stuff and hand over the super simple and delicious recipes!

4 Ingredient Pie Crust

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold water

img_4152

Directions:

  1. Mix flour and salt, add water evenly to mixture and combine well.

img_4153

2. Add oil and continue mixing by hand.

img_4154

3. Split into 2 equal parts. Roll one evenly and place in pie pan.

img_4157

4. Set the other half of the crust to the side to be used as the top crust after filling is made.

Easy Apple Pie Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

4 to 5 apples; pared, cored, and sliced

img_4160

Directions:

  1. In a bowl combine sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Add apple slices to the cinnamon sugar and toss.

fullsizerender

3. Put apple mixture in prepared pie crust and top with butter throughout. Put second half of pie crust on top. Pinch edges and ventilate.

img_4162

4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

img_4167

5. Enjoy!

I find that this pie freezes well and can be saved for holidays! Want a guaranteed Thanksgiving day hit? Look no further!

CHEAP & EASY Laundry Detergent!

This morning I woke up to a dirty house. I’ve had a cold that WILL not go away, and it shows. Laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming, pretty much everything imaginable needs to be done. I was feeling considerably better today so I thought I would dive into the jungle and CLEAN! Then I had another thought; “Self,” I said to myself “let’s make the mess a little bit bigger before we clean!”

What a wonderful idea! So I decided to make my ever so messy (but so easy to make) laundry detergent. I usually make about 4-5 quarts at a time and it lasts FOREVER!

I started making my own laundry soap because my dad had noticed that using even the FREE AND CLEAR store-bought laundry detergent, that it was making him itch! Not good! This recipe is hypo-allergenic, can be used in HIGH EFFICIENCY washers, and can be tweaked (if you’re as into making things your own as I am).***

Did I mention it is SO simple. You need three ingredients and some kitchen stuff you already have!

img_4072

What you need:

1 bar of Fels Naptha

1 cup Super Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

Directions:

First, grate the bar of Fels Naptha (my absolute least favorite part of the whole task)

img_4074

img_4075

Next, go ahead and blend the grated bar in a blender to get it as powdered as possible.

img_4076

In a bowl, pour out the powdered bar of soap. Add 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Super Washing Soda. Mix with your hands to get it all incorporated.

Add the mixture into the blender a little at a time just to make sure that it is all blended well. Also make sure that the pieces of Fels Naptha are tiny enough that they will dissolve in the washing machine. Nothing is worse that left over crumbles if soap in your clean clothes.

img_4080

Once you feel that it is all blended well, pour detergent into a quart jar. This usually makes about a quart per turn.

img_4083

Now for the clean up… of the WHOLE HOUSE including this little mess I just made!

img_4082

Use 1 tablespoon per load of regular laundry

Use 2 tablespoons if the laundry is heavily soiled

I have found that this detergent works wonders on a mechanics work clothes. Oil stains, grease, and grime are no match!

INGREDIENTS:

1 bar Fels Naptha soap

1 cup Super Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

DIRECTIONS:

Grate bar of Fels Naptha

Blend bar of Fels Naptha

In a bowl mix Fels Naptha, Super Washing Soda and Borax

Blend in small batches

Pour in quart jar

1 tablespoon for lightly soiled laundry

2 tablespoons for heavily soiled laundry

*** You can add laundry scent boosters to the mixture to make the laundry detergent scented!***