A Story to Motivate Us All

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A friend posted this on Facebook and I just had to share. I may very well watch it every day until I start resolutions in January. It just goes to show that we can have hope when everyone else says we shouldn’t.


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How To Use Every Bit Of the Turkey

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Thanksgiving is a week away, so I wanted to share with you how I recently cooked two turkeys out of my freezer and was able to use every bit of both birds. I had purchased them last Christmas with the intention of canning them.  Here’s a blow-by-blow of how I used these particular birds. Hopefully it will help you get some ideas on how to get every last drop of goodness out of your leftovers or to take advantage of the great prices on turkeys this time of year.

Going full bird does works better with a pressure canner/cooker, but it is not necessary. Having a dog is helpful, too. The turkeys were about 10 pounds each.

Turkey Meat: I chose to pressure cook the turkeys in my pressure canner along with some peppercorn, onions, carrots, salt and Lawry’s seasoned salt. I intended to add celery, but I was out.  I cooked them separately, even though I have a large canner. Very yummy.

There is a lot of variation on how to pressure cook a turkey. The guideline I’m using right now is 15 pounds pressure for 4 minutes per pound. The meat falls of the bone easily. If you want the turkey more intact then cook at 3 minutes per pound. You may need to use less water to keep it intact. I haven’t experimented with that.

This is how I used the meat…

  • Made turkey salad with mayo, grapes, and walnuts.
  • Sliced some breast meat for sandwiches. I individually froze slices on trays and transferred them to zipper bags.
  • Canned the rest using a a dry pack method. Just put meat in jars with one inch headspace, fill jar halfway with water and can for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for pints. Some people fill with broth, but I wanted to save that for other things. A pint is roughly a pound of turkey based on pre-cooked weight.

I was amazed at how good the canned turkey tasted. Next time I will skip slicing and freezing the turkey breast and just use the canned turkey for sandwiches.

Broth: I covered the turkey with water when cooking and the turkey released water as well. When cooking was done, the remaining liquid was ready to go as broth. I put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I removed the hardened fat and canned the broth. It can also be frozen. If  you roast your turkey, you will not get broth.

I pressure canned the broth and ended up with four quarts. I used 10 pounds pressure and cooked 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts with one inch headspace.

Stock: I put the bones, neck and giblets of the turkey into my pressure canner, covered it in water and set it at 10 pounds pressure for one hour. I could have put veggies in it, but I didn’t bother this time.

I got 4-5 quarts of stock. I used most for a pot of soup. I put the rest in the fridge to add to recipes.  If stock is done well it will have a gelatinous consistency when cooled.  It can also be frozen in ice cube trays to be used as flavoring in everyday cooking. Canning stock is the same as canning broth above.
Schmalz/Turkey Fat: After the broth and stock had cooled I took the hardened fat, heated just enough to melt and strained it through a cloth. I put it in a mason jar in the fridge  to use for cooking and baking.

Bones: I didn’t even throw out the leftover bones. Pressure cooking will make the bones very soft where they just break away in your hand. I gently crushed them with my hands and fed them to my dog. If you don’t have a dog or don’t trust feeding cooked poultry bones to your animals, you can make bone meal.

Well, that’s the scoop. Turkeys are on sale this week so I will be buying some more and will keep this process going. What I love about this is that I can pull things out of the turkey that I would have normally paid extra for–broth, stock, fat, dog food. That’s a pretty substantial savings. I can also take advantage of seasonal prices and save even more.

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Does Preparedness Show a Lack of Faith?

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People seem to be jumping on the preparedness bandwagon these days. I just saw a rather long list of apocalypse-themed TV shows starting this fall. It is very interesting to watch how this trend is growing. There is much wisdom and much foolishness regarding how and why people are approaching preparedness. Some are building up things to keep them comfortable. Others are stockpiling years and years of food. A few are even shutting down their lives in the regular world and moving their families into isolation in the mountains or roaming the country in RVs. Most are not that extreme in their actions, but many are often guided by fear, anger and even arrogance.

When this topic comes up in discussions there is often someone who comments that practicing  preparedness comes from a lack of faith. On the surface, I think the above examples could be interpreted that way. However, when you look at it more closely it shows a lot of faith. It shows faith in food storage, guns, knowledge, gardens, farm animals, plans, buildings, etc.–temporal things that think we have some control over.

I’m not a super prepper. I have some food stores and some supplies. I work more on developing skills than on amassing huge amounts of supplies. For me prepping is not about being fearful or lacking faith. It is about preparing for a potential future. I consider this to be good stewardship. History and the Bible both teach us that hard times come. People go hungry through wars, famine, natural disasters, foolishness of men, and many other reasons.

Commonly it comes through the selfishness and sin of a culture. Look around and you will see that in our culture. These things don’t just change. People don’t wake up one day and decide they are going to live selfless, Godly lives. That kind of change only happens through hard times–through suffering. Our culture can not change without going through the fire.

It is because of this belief that I prepare. I prepare my mind with knowledge I need to provide for my family, I prepare my home to be safe and to house the things we may need, I prepare my hands to have skills I may need and I prepare my heart to be open to those who may need my help. I do this so that I can care for my family and help others without being greedy, fearful, or isolationist.

I see preparedness as part of my vocation as a wife and mother. I struggle greatly but keep trying to do my best to be the  keeper of my home. It is my responsibility to care for what is and what is to come with the understanding that all is built on a foundation of faith and trust in God–our ultimate caretaker. I strive to give my gifts to God and trust him to bring the increase. Sometimes I find myself living with the fear, anger, and arrogance, too. Those come from putting my faith in myself, the knowledge I have, or the work I have done.

Is practicing preparedness showing a lack of faith? I can only see it as an act of faith. We just have to guard our hearts and minds to make sure our faith is well placed.

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Super Easy Chicken Pot Pie

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This is my easy recipe for chicken or turkey pot pie. It’s one of the recipes we use on a regular basis in our house, but it is not one that fits the gradual lifestyle changes that I have been making. I am working on ideas to make this more healthy and natural. The trick is how do I keep it fairly simple. I’ll be sure to share if I find success. In the meantime, this is a yummy recipe that is nice to have from time to time.

Chicken Pot Pie


  • 2 purchased pie crusts
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans of Veg-All or other mixed vegetables, drained (frozen works, too)
  • 1 to 2 cups of cooked chicken or turkey

Purchased pie crust options
Pie crusts come either in the pan or rolled up without a pan. They usually come in packs of two.  Here are 3 ways you can handle it.

      • You can get the deep dish pan version and take one of the crusts out of the pan and use it as top crust.
      • Use the rolled crust and place one crust in the bottom of your own pie plate and the other on top
      • Buy a package each of the deep dish crusts and the rolled crusts, double the above ingredients and make 2 pies. They freeze well.

Layer one can of soup, one can of vegetables, and half of chicken in the bottom crust. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. They will mound pretty high.

Put top crust in position and pinch the edges closed. Slice top of crust or pierce with a fork several times. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Homeschool vs. Public School: A Few Statistics

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A great visual on some of the current homeschool vs. public school statistics. Sources are listed at the end.

Homeschool Domination
Created by: CollegeAtHome.com

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My Clutter Mantras

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I am in the process of digging out of a mound of clutter. It’s often hard to figure out what to throw away. As I mentioned in my previous post, Facing Clutter,  I’m one of those people who can pick up any item and come up with a minimum of 3 ways to use it. 

I have one thing on my side that really helps. Over the years I’ve compiled a few mantras to push my mind into making a decision. These are just simple statements that I say to myself when have an item in question.  They really help me put things in perspective.

  1. Do you use it? Do you love it? Does it make you money?
    I got this one from organizing guru Julie Morganstern. Many times this is all I need to get rid of something, but I often need more help.

  2. If you got rid of it today and needed it later what is the worst that can happen?
    This came from organizing expert Barbara Hemphill who focuses on organizing papers. I’ll ask myself this question if the first one fails. Usually the worst that can happen is that I have to buy a new one. This has come back to haunt me a few times, but for the most part it doesn’t really matter.

  3. What is the cost of keeping it?
    This is my own mantra and sometimes I go straight to it. The costs I look at are losses in energy, time, space, relationships, creativity, peace of mind, or money. If all of the others fail, then this will usually make things very clear.

If I decide to get rid of it then I place it in the trash can, recycling bin, or a donation box. Going through the process makes this part a lot easier

If I have decided to keep it, then I have the additional task of determining where it goes. I make every effort to keep it out of a box of miscellaneous stuff. At the very least I will put it in a container that is sorted by category.

By the time I get to this point I start to see whether my systems are working for me or failing me. With my mind freed up a bit I can figure out how to improve things. It’s still difficult, but as with most of life, it’s a process.

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Facing Clutter: Tips and Techniques from the Trenches

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It’s probably bold of me to write this considering that I’m living in piles of clutter right now. I’m braving it for two reasons.

First, I know I’m not alone. If people weren’t struggling with clutter, then there wouldn’t be so many books, websites, TV shows, consultants, etc. making money off the problem.

Second, I know that experience is valuable even if mastery hasn’t been obtained. Any naturally neat person can write a book. However they often don’t comprehend what the world looks like from the eyes those who don’t come by those skills easily.

When you’ve lived your life moving clutter around, you figure out some things along the way.  So even though I’m not there yet, here are some of the things that have moved me in the right direction.

Keep a donation box handy
I keep a box that is always ready to accept a thrift store donation. When I see something I don’t need anymore it goes in there. When it is full I document it for my taxes and donate it to the thrift store.

Know how you are wired
There are a ton of organization systems available out there and plenty of advice being handed out. Most of that is coming from people who are naturally neat and who are much more linear thinkers. If those things are working for you, then you are probably one of those types of thinkers.

For those of us who find this to be a struggle it is helpful to know that there are other ways.  The more right brained person doesn’t think in lines. We think in seemingly random clumps. Well, maybe constellations is a better word. It’s what makes us so good at brainstorming. We make connections and see the potential in everything. We can pick up pretty much anything and figure out a minimum of 3 ways to use it. It’s a blessing and a curse.

If you fit into this category, then filing cabinets do not work. It is out of sight and out of mind. A more visual filing system is better. That’s why you hear of people with piles of papers on their desk yet they know where everything is. The books  Organizing for the Creative Person and Organizing from the Right Side of the Brain teach some interesting things about how organizing is different for creative types.

Focus on maintaining (and maybe a little more)
This is a new one for me. I got so overwhelmed with the clutter because I wanted it all gone. I was trapped in an all or nothing cycle which usually ended up as nothing. It was actually paralyzing me from doing anything. I decided I should first make an effort to maintain it and prevent it from getting worse.My approach has been do what is necessary to maintain things and maybe a few steps more more. This helped me take the pressure off and get out of the all or nothing mindset. It also opened the door for me to create some systems.

Go with your current habits
I learned this one from organizing expert Julie Morganstern. She says that if you already have a habit of leaving something in a spot, don’t try to go against your habits, just create a better way to organize that spot. For me that meant putting a coat tree next to the arm of the couch and putting a shoe shelf in the bathroom.

Understand your limitations
Are you working, homeschooling, driving kids this way and that, dealing with health problems, active in church, involved in projects in the community, etc.? All of these things take a piece of you in the form of time and energy. We need to weigh these things in our lives.

When I took a part time job my home suffered. I had no idea how much I was actually getting done. Every little thing we do takes something from us. We may have to give up something to have the resources we need to focus on our home.

Determine your acceptable level of clutter
Figure out what level of clean you can accept as a minimum for your lifestyle. Some people work all day, have no kids at home and want their house to look like something in a magazine. Others use theirs 24/7 and are always working on projects that require stuff to be front and center.  Make your focus about getting your home to the level that you and your family need in order to feel at peace.

Again, I’m not the poster child for an organized home, but these are some things that keep it from being worse than it is. I can admit it because I know I’m not alone in this.

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Make Your Own Bonemeal

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Found this great note on Facebook. It was interesting to me because I’ve got this goal to use every part of a chicken or turkey with nothing thrown away. Bonemeal is an excellent garden amendment and can be used as an ingredient in homemade dog food or as a calcium supplement for dogs.

Making Bonemeal For Your Garden

by Village Herbalist on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 12:08pm ·

Making bonemeal for your garden helps control the quality of the bone meal, making it from the anti-biotic and hormone free bones from your dinner. This can be done with any type of bones.

To do this, place the bones into a cooking pot and cover them with water. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per quart of water. Bring this to a boil until  cooked down to the last bits of water, then simmer that off too. This all breaks down the constituents of bone and makes them soft enough to break. Now, place the bones into a baking dish and bake in the oven on low heat until they are dry and brittle. Cool, put into a plastic bag, wrap that in a dish towel, put that into another plastic bag. Either hit this bag against some cement or a rock, or just take a hammer to the bag. This can be stored in a can for use when needed.

Mix the bone meal into the soil around your herbs or into the soil before planting  It’s a good source of phosphorus, which helps with root system growth, for better flower, fruit and seed development, and vitamin content. Also a source of nitrogen, which is a general herb growth promoter and helps the herbs ability to make proteins. Nitrogen tends to give strength and vigor to sickly, spindly herbs.


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Recipe Review: 100% Whole Wheat Biscuits

I found this recipe on a blog called 100 Days of Real Food. The blogger is writing about her commitment to have her family go 100 days without eating any processed food. I have only tried this recipe but I plan to explore it more.

Her blog post with her recipe is below. Keep reading after the recipe for my review of the recipe with some troubles and fixes I experienced.

Recipe: Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits
from 100 Days of Real Food

There are so many reasons why I love these biscuits. First of all, they are super easy to make and no special equipment (like a rolling pin or biscuit cutter) is needed. It takes no more than 15 or 20 minutes to make them from mixing the dough to pulling them out of the oven. Then once they are done they are moist and flaky and so tasty (c’mon, look at the picture – you know you want one!). And the best part is that they freeze and reheat beautifully (I just throw the frozen biscuits in the toaster oven on the bake setting). So make a big batch, freeze a bunch in a gallon zip lock freezer bag, and then the next time you want to add a biscuit to your breakfast, lunch or dinner they are ready to go. It honestly couldn’t be easier…so go ahead and throw away that refrigerated tube of dough you bought from the grocery store!

Whole Wheat Biscuits

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat organic flour)
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter
    • 1 cup milk (any kind)

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well with whisk or fork. Cut the ½ stick butter into little pea sized pieces and then mix the pieces into the flour mixture. Using a fork, try to mash the butter pieces as you mix it together with the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. It is okay if the outcome just looks like the same pea sized pieces of butter covered with flour. Then pour in the milk and mix it all together. Knead the dough with your hands 8 to 10 times and then turn out onto a counter or cutting board. Pat it out flat with your hands until the dough is a somewhat even ¾-inch thickness (sprinkle with a little flour if necessary). Turn a drinking glass upside down and cut out biscuit rounds. I have also used shaped cookie cutters (like a heart or star) if you have little ones helping you! Then put them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: 8 – 10 biscuits (depending on the size that you cut them)

Redneck Review

I was very happy to find this recipe. I have been wanting to start making whole wheat biscuits for a while. The comments on her blog all raved about the recipe, so I gave it a shot.

I used soft white wheat which is better for non-yeast baking. It is sometimes labeled as pastry flour. I grind the wheat myself in my flour mill.

I ran into some difficulty the first time I made the biscuits. I followed the recipe, but the dough was way too wet to roll out.  I decided to make them as drop biscuits. They were awesome tasting although a little crumbly. I made them this way about 3 times with good results

Later I wanted to see if I could find out what went wrong. I looked on the blogs comments, but no one else seemed to have the problem. I determined that since I milled my flour immediately before mixing that it had a lot more air in it than flour that had been in transit and sitting on shelves.

The next time I made them I packed the flour into the cup fairly tightly. This time I got the true consistency of biscuit dough. I pressed it out and cut out biscuits. They were good, but drier and not as pretty as in the picture. However, I have never really mastered the art of rolled biscuits and still need some practice.  I am going to work on making adjustments to the flour, but I may still use the drop method and skip the rolling out and cutting steps.

If you are using store bought flour you should be able to followe her recipe directly. If you want to try them as drop biscuits. Try lightly spooning the flour into the measuring cup rather than scooping directly from the canister.

All in all I would say it is an excellent recipe and well worth trying.

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Foolish Father Goes Viral

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this video that has been floating around where a dad lamblasts his daughter for a derogatory letter she posted on a supposedly hidden from him FB page. He really goes after her. He tells her off and ends up shooting her laptop several times. 

I’m not justifying the girls letter. She was wrong to do it and truly seems to be ungrateful for what she’s been given. She is also young in need of guidance.

The father, on the other hand, is supposed to be the mature adult who is to be a model of upright behavior for his daughter. To go on this long rant and publicly humiliate his daughter is going to do nothing but drive her away from understanding the truth about her actions and words. She is going to run from maturity rather than grow into it.

This is not about discipline it is about revenge and being the winner. It is not becoming of a father and reveals a lack of character on his part. The father needs to take responsibility for his own actions in this. If she is so spoiled, then who was the one who did the spoiling.

Now that he has shamed her in front of the whole country how can she ever trust him to be the father who loves and protects her when she needs it most. These wounds will run very deep. This relationship may never be mended.


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