Finding True Serenity

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Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Grapevine Trellis June 18, 2009

Okay, I can officially say I have two of the greatest men in my life who I truly adore!  My husband and son noticed our neighbors throwing last years fancy gazebo with the metal scrolled corners out on the curb and a light bulb went off…”Didn’t mom want to make a trellis for the grapevine?”  Our neighbors were greatful we were taking their eye sore away and we quickly went to work. 

Here’s what it looked like before:

grapevine before

And after unbolting a few things and a little rearranging here is the final product!

grapevine after

And look, what do we see?

grape investigators

Oh wait…I know!  It’s baby grapes!

Baby grapes

So in the end this is thrifty and economical in a few ways…

1.  We gathered the items needed for the trellis curbside, while helping our neighbors, so there was no initial cost.

2.  The grapevine that we are training to climb this trellis will provide us with grapes this fall saving us even more on our food budget.

3.  We were able to repurpose something that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.

4.  And last but not least, the remaining posts and corners that we removed will be used to stake up our garden and the peas shall climb up the corner metal scrolls!   (Don’t worry, I will post about this later after my garden has matured a bit for another Thrifty Thursday!!!!)

I love being thrifty when you can create such a beautiful addition while helping others and Mother Nature!!!  And that is how we have it on Thrifty Thursday!   Thank you so very much for stopping by my first post on TT!!!

 

Yummy in my Tummy! January 16, 2009

Okay, I’m not sure why I have caught the cooking bug, perhaps for heat, but my family are loving it!!!! 

The other day we made this yummy meal.  Our neighbor had shared with us some homemade vegetable soup and we paired it with some vegan agave cornbread muffins  (absolutely delish BTW) and a spinach apple salad.

Soup, Salad, and Cornbread

 

Spinach Apple Salad

4 Cups fresh Baby Spinach

1 Large Apple, sliced thinly

3/4 Cup Onion, Chopped

Dressing:

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar (we prefer using Braggs)

3 Tablespoons Honey

 

This was sooo good!!!  With the weather we were having this fit the bill!   But then, I was feeling a bit adventurous.  My husband asked me to make some homemade cookies, and I had been wanting to try a new recipe from the Vegeterian Times Complete Cookbook for a vegan version. 

Much to my surprise, the kids and husband LOVED them.  They are nothing like chocolate chip cookies that we are used to but they were very good.

No Toll Chocolate Chip Cookies

No Toll Cookies

Typical chocolate Chip Cookies are loaded with fat, sugar and calories.  Not these taste-alikes.  They contain almost no fat, are sweetened with honey instead of sugar and have only 55 calories per cookie.

3 C Whole-wheat flour

1 t Baking Soda

3/4 C Unsweetened Applesauce

3/4 C Honey

2 t Vanilla extract

3/4 C Unsweetened carob chips or semisweet Chocolate Chips (we used semisweet chocolate chips)

1/2 C Chopped nuts or sunflower seeds (optional)  (We didn’t use any)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl sift the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop the batter by the tablespoon onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet.  Flatten with fork.  Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

 

A lovely day of homemade goodness…

Today was one of those days when I felt really good about what I’ve accomplished.  Here here, be easy on me!  I have pretty low standards!  🙂

This morning I woke up, hung up a load of laundry to dry, fixed the kids some breakfast, got my son out the door for school and started working with my daughter on the alphabet and identifying objects/animals. 

Hanging Clothes

I had received a recipe, from a lovely blogger who inspires me everytime she posts, for Easy Oatmeal bread.  Today was the day I worked up enough nerve to try making homemade bread for the very first time!  I followed the recipe to a “T” and waited the longest 2.5 hours of my life!  It was amazing torture!  Smelling the dough, drooling and praying it turned out as good as it smelled! 

 The dough has risen to double it's size

Prepared dough is ready to be baked

)

We pulled the first loaf out of the oven and it was all we could do to wait for it to cool down enough to pull it out of the pan!  We all lined up and enjoyed the first warm slices.  It was perfect.  Miranda, I can’t thank you enough…my husband adored it, and that is saying something!  🙂

Going back for seconds and thirds!!!

For lunch today we ate some homemade tomato soup I had canned this last summer while one of our amazing neighbors was teaching me the art of preserving!  My husband filled up on more bread!

I washed a load of dishes and began working on supper, we threw some things together from an idea of another fellow blogger, Sara.  She’s quite clever!  We started with Ramen noodles, some pork, brocolli, ginger, garlic, orange juice, and nama shoyu stir fried together…. and oh it was yummy.  After supper, my husband leaned over and kissed me while whispering sweetly “…good job honey”….

I feel quite accomplished with all the baby steps I’ve been learning to become more self sufficient.   I am humbled but I also realize I need to keep an open mind because there are so many more things I have to learn!  For now though, I’m going to savor this lovely day of homemade goodness….

 

Black Friday December 3, 2008

How did you spend your day after Thanksgiving?  Were you surrounded by crazed shoppers willing to trample someone to death to get that unbelievable bargain at Wal-Mart? 

For the past two years now, we have opted to avoid the chaos.  This year was the most amazing yet…we met my husband’s extended family for the first time and on Black Friday, we were surrounded by people we Love dearly. 

Tim, Shawn, Jonathan, TJ, and Shian

We decided to go hiking on Green mountain and enjoyed the views…

Covered Bridge

We didn’t go shopping for our children to get some really cool flashy toys this year for Christmas, I know…I’m a bad parent and all…but we gave them memories instead…

TJ skipping rocks...

Jon and Shi

You can find more photos of our adventure in Alabama with Tim, Lindsey, and TJ here!

It may seem difficult to break habits, but please evaluate each choice you make.  How will you spend your next Black Friday?

Before I go, I have to recommend a wonderful reading…titled Good Will.  This is written by a dear friend of mine and her words touch my heart every time I read one of her amazing posts.  Please take a moment of your time and stop by her site.  She writes from the heart and this post truly brings things into perspective…

 

Natural Home October 9, 2008

 

Well, after giving up many disposables and replacing them with reusable items we then gradually went to cleaning supplies.  I grabbed a crate and filled it up with all the cleaning supplies and gave them away.

I have to admit this wasn’t a hard one for me to do.  I was one of those people that would get migraines from using bleach, would need to have the windows open and ventilation fans on whenever I was trying to clean and could feel the chemicals burning my skin as I scrubbed away the germs. 

I still to this day can’t believe how many cleaners I had.  We had one for every job and needless to say that cleared up alot of space under the sinks!  We now truly only use a few natural cleaning ingredients.  You can learn more about their uses here, and an even more lengthy list of natural cleaners here.  Vinegar is our standard cleaner that has replaced everything! For windows, we use straight white vinegar and wipe with newspapers. For scrubbing the counter, sinks, tubs, and toilet, I use vinegar with a washcloth.  You could also use baking soda and play with essential oils.  Tea tree oil is known for it’s natural anti-bacterial power and lavender for it’s calming scent.  For a multipurpose cleaner we just fill a spray bottle 1/4 way with white vinegar and then top it off with water.  This is a very simple, basic, and highly effective concoction!

I use a natural soap for washing dishes and I also make a homemade laundry detergent using natural cleaners.  There are lots of recipes out there, but this is one that seems to work for us. 

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
(For light load, use 1 tablespoon.  For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.)
I love how simple this has made our lives.  We’re not out buying all sorts of different products to “clean” our home.  I love the fact that I feel completely comfortable having Jonathan and Shian help me with cleaning.  And by using natural ingredients you will not only be making inexpensive cleaners (I’m saving an estimated $185 annually), you will also realize they are just as effective without the light headed, sick to your stomach, migraine side effects!  🙂
 

Downsizing: Clearing out the extra “stuff” October 8, 2008

Filed under: Contentment,Moving,Possessions,Simplifying — findingtrueserenity @ 3:15 am
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My husband Shawn and I have been busy trying to clean up all of our extra “stuff.”  I have to admit I am a natural packrat!  I’m torn between getting rid of stuff and hanging onto it, especially when it comes to our kids.  I realize that for me it is just a mental hurdle I have to overcome and I know in my heart I will feel much better when we are down to what we really need.

Our family of four is currently living in a 951 sq. ft. home in town and are preparing to downsize to a home that is half that size on ten acres.  We want our children to grow in an environment that teaches them how to be sustainable and to respect and preserve our Creator’s gifts to us.  Yes, living more simply can involve more work, but no words can describe the gratification you feel afterwards like when you hear that “pop” from a jar you just finished canning!  It truly brings things into perspective. 

So, this week we have been working especially hard at creating a dent in all of our extras.  I feel so wonderful and free.  We have donated and freecycled items and now we are preparing for a garage sale for the remainder of it all.  We have been simplifying our lives, helping others, and extending the life of our things by keeping them out of the landfill.   What an amazing week.