Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Healthy Thanksgiving & a cool gift idea for homesteaders to give.

A Healthy Thanksgiving?

Is it possible for us to have a healthy Thanksgiving?
As Americans we tend to go crazy around the holidays. We consume larger meals, and go to parties with many sweets and treats. It is really hard to eat healthy when you are faced with so much temptation.
My new Ketogenic way of eating is an all new source of rules and things to avoid eating. Yet there are all new opportunities to eat some really wonderful foods.
We roasted a turkey breast this week. The normal sides are things like stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy and a can of cranberry sauce(the jellied kind).
The turkey was roasted the way we always do it, with plenty of butter and olive oil, herbs and stuffed with an onion and an apple. It was amazing, and so moist.
Then instead of mashed potatoes, I made mashed cauliflower. I steamed the florets until they were fork tender, but not mushy. Then I put them into the food processor and added butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper, fresh parsley and some grated cheddar. They were fantastic!
We also made some wonderful gravy, using the pan drippings and coconut flour(instead of wheat flour)butter,heavy cream and herbs.
Gary did have a box of stuffing he made for himself,and we opened a can of jellied cranberry sauce too(I did have a little) but I had a beautiful Jarahdale squash that I roasted and had with yet more butter and salt and pepper. So freakin' good, I can't even tell you.
I did not eat the stuffing, but I could have made some low carb rolls or cheddar biscuits with almond flour, but I didn't really miss them too much.
I write this because I want you to know that you can still eat wonderful foods during the holidays.
The foods I eat are so flavorful and filling, I never feel deprived. I get full faster and stay full longer.
For our trip to the Cape for Thanksgiving, I will be making a beautiful pumpkin no bake cheesecake pie. I can't wait to share with friends and family!
I will also be making some mashed cauliflower, and some cheddar biscuits. Armed with some Keto foods that I can eat and share, I am setting myself up for success. I love the way I eat now. I am excited to share it with others. I just know it will be a hit with the whole family! If you too are eating a modified diet this holiday season, don't be afraid to bring along the foods that you can eat to share with everyone. Set yourself up for the win! I bet that they will all want to know the recipe.  <3

A cool gift idea for all you homesteaders to give this holiday season........is a feed bag tote!

I did not make this, it is a picture of one I found here.
I can't wait to make one that is lined.

If you have animals like goats, cows, horses, rabbits or chickens, chances are you have lots of feed bags.(do not use pet food bags, or any feeds that contain meat ingredients) I started to collect mine, because I thought they would make awesome tote bags. I was right! I did a search and found that I was not the first person to think of this. I was happy too, because they had already put tutorials and YouTube videos online, so I had a guide and instructions that I didn't have to make up on my own.
I use the internet as the tool it is meant to be. I got to work and made the first bag, It took me a couple of hours because I had to get the right settings worked out on my sewing machine, but once I did they were quite easy to make.
I will be experimenting with sizes and contrasting thread colors, and I may even try my hand at embroidering the recipients name on the tote. I would also like to make some lined with recycled fabrics. There are many possibilities to make them personalized, I can't wait to show you what I do with them. So far I have a few made for our trip as hostess gifts, and for family I will only see at Thanksgiving. I will fill them up with homemade jars of canned goods from our gardens and apple trees, and other baked goods. I can see selling them at farmers markets as well in the future. What a way to get use out of something that would otherwise go into a landfill and spend eons trying to decompose. They will be handy to keep in the car as grocery bags/shopping totes. I really hope they are received well, because I think they are great!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and friends. That's what this day is really all about.

P.S. I created a new Pinterest board for Homesteading Crafts! There are so many wonderful Ideas!



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Making Apple Cider & My first homemade gift ideas!

Making Apple Cider.

I love fall! As I have stated in a previous post. This is a bitter sweet post. You see we are about to sell the home we have lived in for our entire 15 year marriage. It was my husbands first home. Over the last 25 years, he has planted many trees, including 3 apple trees. 1 Braeburn, 1 Golden Delicious and a 5 in 1 that only produces Golden Delicious and Granny Smith(my favorite). It is also supposed to produce Red Delicious and 2 others we don't remember, but it rarely does. But that's okay with me because we get really large Granny Smiths that I often make into caramel apples that I turn into Chocolate and nut covered confections, or pie filling!
This is our trees in bloom this spring.

This year we had a great crop from those trees. I made 19 quarts of apple pie filling and many pints of apple sauce.

We have so many left that we decided to make cider with the rest.

Click here to see the video and subscribe to our
YouTube Channel.

If you have never tried freshly pressed apple cider, you really should. There is no better apple flavor out there. I have scoured the internet to build a wonderful Pinterest board full of apple cider drinks, foods and baked goods that will keep you busy trying new ones for years!

Everyone gets some apple mash.
The girls love it!

Gary(DH) Has made cider using this press since the early 80's.
It is getting a makeover soon.

Total Cider the first day: 3 Gallons.
Total Cider 13.5 Gallons.

This is what
Gary pressed, 10.5 Gallons, on Day 2.

We had a great time making cider with the apples from our home on the cape. It is so much work. Hard back paining work. It is so worth it.  :)  Thank goodness it is only once a year  :) Here is a video on our YouTube Channel, if you would like to see how it is done, It takes many Apples to make gallons of apple cider.

 We are so happy the trees are mature and producing beautiful apples. It is sad that we won't be benefiting from them anymore, but so happy that someone else will. Visit Cape Cod Mini Homestead For Sale, to see the description of our home.

It takes a long time to grow a tree to maturity. Once it starts to produce, it is the best thing in the world. I am so excited that we will get to plant all new varieties here on the homestead. It will be years before we will see the kind of crops we got this year.  I guess we will have to go to one of the pick your own apple orchards that abound in New England. We are so lucky to live in a part of the country that can grow so many types of apples. Thank you Johnny Appleseed!

I plan on taking some of the cider to our family in MA over the Thanksgiving holiday, and making some wonderful recipes from my Pinterest board.  We will share some with neighbors too. I love to give gifts to friends and family when we have an abundance of anything.

My first homemade gift ideas.

My gift list for Christmas this year is mostly for family and neighbors. Now that we have moved to Maine, our circle has shrunk to a smaller size. I don't want to say it, but I find it much more manageable.  Even though I make all my gifts, I still have to take the time to do it.

My time is also a part of the gifts. I do a lot of canning through the year, and I utilize those as gifts of food for everyone on my list. I also do a lot of crocheting, and sewing and crafting. Let's not forget the baking and candy making. It is exhausting just typing all of this.

If you are still reading this...Thank you   :)

My list of completed gifts is growing daily. I have finished scarves and gift bags made from chicken feed bags and cloth( pattern and directions available soon) as well as a few batches of cookie dough, all portioned out and frozen ready to bake at a moments notice.  I have to tell you how much stress it takes off of you to have the dough made and ready to go.

My next few projects will include loaves of pumpkin bread and apple bread.  Peanut-butter cups, Coconut almond dark chocolate bars( think almond joy bars), and Peppermint bark. Homemade peppermint and Vanilla Extracts and some awesome Peppermint lip balm (with bees wax I bartered for over the summer  :)

I hope this gives you a few ideas,(many more ideas on my Pinterest boards) and you go into this Christmas season with a warm heart and a warm kitchen full of goodies you have made for family and friends.

Peace. Love. Joy


Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas past & Christmas present.

I just want to say that I love Christmas. I thought you should know that before I get going here, because I think you may not think so in a minute. Lets see, where to start..... Well as a kid we were pretty poor. Like most Americans these days we lived paycheck to paycheck. The only difference now is that many Americans now have access to Credit! But when I was a kid we had no such luxury. That means that we had to figure out  where the money would be coming from, for food and clothes, and to keep a roof over our heads. Christmas was not on our radar until it was right upon us. But I have to say even though we had some tough times, we were still surrounded by the love of our family, our church and some wonderful good Samaritans.

I remember one year my parents had been separated and we were living in an apartment with our mother. I was in 3rd grade that year, and somehow I won the turkey for Thanksgiving and at Christmas. It seemed like magic to me then. Looking back I know that we had angels looking out for us. It happened again when I was thirteen, the school's Assistant Principal came to our house one day and gave my mother a check to buy us presents for Christmas. I was old enough then to be a little ashamed at the thought that we would need charity. But now that I am a grown woman, I see how wonderful a blessing it was for all of us. My mother had been working two jobs to supports us for most of my life. I am so grateful to her for all she did to raise all four of us as a single mother. Sure there were people in her life that helped us along the way, and there were strangers/ angels that were there to lend a hand in the darkest times. No one is alone, especially at Christmas.

So we had several Christmases delivered to us by our grandparents, and some strangers during my childhood. They seemed simple, if not normal, and we didn't really seem to notice too much that we were poor, until we were older. Now comes the part that might make you think I hate Christmas, but I promise it will work out in the end.

As a plucky teenager, who was now a 90's kid, I loved music and TV and Books. I also loved Video games. This is when I found out that Christmas was not gonna bring me what my commercialistic self wanted. Yes I watched way too much TV and I ate up all the advertising that was geared toward my young mind. I wanted to wear the clothing that my peers at school were wearing. I wanted the new CD player and all the cd's to replace my tapes. I wanted the Nintendo system, and games. I wanted books and VHS movies. I would have loved a piece of jewelry. But this STUFF, was just what I wanted because I was told I wanted it.

I think I have out grown the types of advertisements that you see on TV and in print. I have graduated to internet ads that catch my eye or even emails with coupon codes can side track me for hours of bargain hunting. When I do shop online, I go through Ebates(My Referral Link) and earn cash back on all my purchases through their site. I have earned several hundred dollars in cash back over the years I have used the site. I really like how user friendly it is and they have a widget that tells you when you are on a site that earns cash back. It really is a no brainer.

All that being said, I really do hate the commercialism of Christmas. Well, all the American holidays. Have you noticed that all the stores roll out Christmas the day before Halloween? It's like Thanksgiving doesn't even exist any more. Every holiday is just another way for us to spend money on things for people that we just don't have. But with credit cards you can pay later(like all year long) and enjoy the Christmas season with out actually having the money to do so.

In our chosen way of life here on the Homestead, we choose to enjoy the holiday season by spending time together, watching old movies, and loving our friends and neighbors. It is the time of year that we all feel the Peace,Love and Joy of the Christmas spirit. I still have the desire to give actual presents to those that are close to me and that I feel make a difference in my life. I have been making all the presents that I give for several years.I have an entire board on my Pinterest Page, devoted to homemade and handmade gifts. I might spend some money on ingredients for foods I make to give, and some craft supplies as well. But the gifts I give are all made from scratch and as frugally as I can.  I think about the person I am giving a gift to. I want them to feel the love and thought and joy I get from giving them a gift. I make it personal. I want them to know that I care and that it is from my heart.
I don't want for much. I don't need to get a gift to give a gift. I do love gifts from the heart. I love food gifts and time spent with those that I love. Time is also a gift. Think about the family you don't see often and how much it means to you to see them at this time of year. Isn't it a gift? Doesn't it make you feel joy? Now that we are hours away by car, from family that we could see with a walk down the road, I feel it is such a gift to spend time with them whenever I can.  We have plans to go back to Cape Cod to spend Thanksgiving with DH's family. I am so excited to spend even that short amount of time with them. Once we have all the animals I would like to have, here on the Homestead, I can see that we won't be going anywhere soon.
Take this time to think about the people in your life that really add to your life. Those are the people that you spend time with. There will always be friends and neighbors and teachers and service people that you might want to buy for. But why don't you make their gifts. I promise you won't be disappointed by their reaction to a homemade present. I find that even a gift of a dozen fresh eggs and a note tied with twine are a great gift for almost anyone. It doesn't need to be elaborate, or cost a lot of money. It could just be a 30 min. visit with your elderly neighbor whose family are far away. Just be kind and compassionate. Don't be in a rush. Don't over book yourself and make your life complicated at a time you should just be enjoying time with those you truly care about. That's what we will be doing. I love Christmas.



Friday, November 13, 2015

Giving Thanks & Planning a trip.

I love the Fall. I love the leaves and the cool weather. I love burning my wood stove and cooking soups and stews on it that simmer all day long.
I love drinking tea and cocoa. Fall is the time of year I do most of my reflection. I truly give thanks for the plentiful summer and the harvest being in.

As a homesteader and gardener, the fall is time to plan for next season and put your gardens to rest for the winter.
 We gather fire wood and kindling.
We take long walks with the dog.
 We stop and chat with neighbors.
 We bake goodies to share.
We press cider.
I also start working on my Christmas craft projects and gifts.
 Maine Homestead Project Pinterest Board

I take stalk of all our accomplishments and dream of what the next season will hold. I plan like no ones business. Speaking of plans...we are going back to the Cape for Thanksgiving. I am so looking forward to it. Two days or so to spend with family, and do some work packing in the house. Then back here the next day.

I have never traveled on the busiest travel day of the year for good reason. I mean come on, it's crazy town out there. Now that we are 5 hours drive from family, we are going to be one of those crazy people on the road. My plan is to leave at midnight Wednesday night and be through the city before other people are even thinking about getting up to put the turkey in the oven Thursday morning.

We get to our house on the Cape, take a nap, get some baking done, and head out to our family's house to have a wonderful meal and great conversation.

We have some wonderful neighbors that have volunteered to take care of the chickens and the cat while we are away. I fell so blessed for this opportunity to travel, because I know it will be few and far between that I will get to take trips for more than a night away in the future.

Be thankful, be grateful, and be as kind and loving as you can be.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why I chose Whole food Keto.& How you can too.

Lets face it.
 I am fat.
 I have been for most of my life.
 I have tried all the diets, and had a few successes. I have even starved myself to loose weight. The thing that has always gotten me riled up is when you go to the doctor and they say "you need to loose weight" ,but then they don't elaborate.
None of my doctors, save one, ever even thought to mention going to see a dietitian. Although I don't put much faith into their USDA food pyramid scheme.

Over the years I have been changing for the better. It started out with getting rid of toxic household cleaners, laundry detergents and personal products. I switched over to all natural cleaners that I made myself from things like baking soda, salt, lemon juice, castille soap,soapnuts and apple cider vinegar. 

As I felt a slight change to the environment we were living in, I started to worry about food. Where it comes from, and how it is grown and raised. That led me to chicken keeping. 

The first year we got 6 chickens, then 4 the next year and four the next. Well I am sure you can see where this was going.
 I started to change what I ate from conventional to farmers markets and organic fruits and veggies. I learned about the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.
I bought organic where it mattered, and not when I didn't have to. I made my own sourdough for baking breads andused all organic sugars for all my homemade sweets, and I made homemade Kombutcha.

I learned about how the body works, what it needs to thrive and fight off disease, through nutrition instead of medicine. I learned that fermented foods build your gut bacteria that are connected to your immune system. If they are happy you don't get sick.
All of this led me to doctors and natropaths on YouTube. They were talking about a way to make your body burn fat by eating fat. As you know we are told not to eat fat. Fat = bad. But with a Ketogenic or LCHF way of eating you need to eat real whole foods in the form of organic veggies, Grass fed meats and cheeses and butter, and lots of good for you fats. Like avocados, coconut oil and cream, Avocado oil and nuts and seeds.
I watched hours and hours of videos and read many articles and listened to many pod casts all about how to change your body from burning sugar and carbs to make it burn fat through ketosis.
Lets be totally honest here. It was not going to be easy for me to quit eating bread and sugar, because I was addicted to it. Just like about 99.9% of Americans.
I learned that as I transitioned to being in Ketosis I would have the sweats, and feel shaky. I would get migraines and be bad tempered. I would not be a happy camper while I detoxed my way out of my sugar addiction which is worse than addictions to Heroine.
Well that's what I read, so I was preparing myself for the worst. I waited and waited for these effects to start ravaging my body. As a week went by and nothing was happening, I thought I was doing it wrong. I was loosing weight and healing, but I had no side effects. 
Another week went by and as I was still loosing the weight and feeling good, I just knew that the other shoe was about to drop, right?
It never did. I didn't have a single ill feeling at all. It has been almost three months since I have started this change. I jumped in head first, I went cold turkey. I didn't heed the advice of slow going into this. I just cut out all the homemade breads and sweets, all the sugars and sweeteners. All the grains, legumes and high starch veggies.
I am learning a whole new way to bake, cook and enjoy food.
I have lost 27 pounds so far.
I am drinking a cup of Cocoa right now as I write this. 
This is how I made it.
1 c. Whole organic cream
1 Tbsp. Organic Cacao powder
1/2 Tbsp. Eryrithritol(Organic/ non gmo)
a 1/2 tsp. homemade Vanilla
2 drops organic liquid stevia.
I have to say I have transitioned to this new way of life quite easily.
There are so many resources out there. So many sites dedicated to this way of eating and living.
I am amassing recipes galore to re make some of my favorite foods so I can enjoy things I love and never feel deprived.
Sure there is trial and error. Just the other day I tried my hand at low carb tortillas. It was a massive fail. But the chickens loved them  :)
I will just move on to the next recipe I find and hope it turns out better.
I think that in my haste to start this new way of eating and living a healthier life, I forgot that there might be things that I would miss. A hot steamy loaf of homemade sourdough wheat bread is like a distant dream I used to have.
I don't crave it. I have many things I can replace it with. And I thought that I might never have ice cream again. But I made a butter pecan that was pretty good. I have to tweak it a bit, but all in all it was a keeper.
 I feel full all the time. I don't get Hypoglycemia if I go too long without eating. As a matter of fact, I go for about 16 hours with out eating quite often. With no ill effects. 
I am not saying this is for everyone. As a matter of fact there are certain health conditions that should not eat this way. But all you have to do is a little research and you will find out if you can do it too.
I honestly didn't think I could do this in a million years. I mean, NO Bread! What? That's just crazy talk." I could live off of bread and cheese." Was what I used to say.Well I am here to tell you that I can live free of bread and I did  :)  And you can too.

I don't know how this might affect you if you do want to try it. My experience will be different from yours. If you eat a pretty clean diet as it is , I don't think you will have a bad time of it. But just in case you should have your doctor monitor your blood work and make sure you suffer no ill effects.
They might even try to talk you out of it, or they may not even care. Don't listen to the first and get a new one if they are like the second. If you have access to a Natropath, go to them and explain why and how you are taking back your health and ask for their help.
I am looking here in Maine for a good Natropath that isn't 2 hours away from me.

To your health and mine.



Monday, November 9, 2015

Welcome to our Blog! & how I lost 27 pounds in three months!

I wasn't sure I wanted to start a blog. I am overwhelmed by the move from Cape Cod, MA to our homestead in Maine.
I mean all my stuff is in boxes and I now live in a one room apartment. I have to some how figure out how to live with less and yet still have access to all that I need. Can you say storage space? We have a storage area and we still don't have all of our stuff here yet. So making sure that what I feel I need is accessible is a monumental feat for sure.

I am also trying to keep up with my Facebook page and our YouTube channel. I am working on all my homemade Christmas gifts, and planning for the future of the homestead. I also have to manage the farm and all it's chores while my DH is away for weeks at a time. I am also trying to find a job here in a small town. Let me tell you reentering the work force is not easy when you haven't worked in over a year.

 I think I am handling all of that pretty well, and if you think that is enough for anyone at one time, I have also changed the way I eat. I have been over weight my entire adult life, and I am also afflicted with several health issues that are the root cause of my inability to loose weight easily. So I decided a couple of months ago that it has to change.

I quit sugar, all conventional simple sugars, that means I eat very little fruit. I have started to use Stevia and Erythritol as my sugar substitutes. I am not craving sugar at all after two months of eating LCHF/ Ketogenic diet.

I quit carbs, all carbs, but the ones found in nuts,seeds, veggies, certain fruits and a few of my carbs are saved for Dark Chocolate at the end of the day. Hey, a girl has to have a few comforts in life.

A typical day looks like this.

Breakfast: 2 (MHP fresh)eggs scrambled, (with any combination/mixture of cheese, spinach,            mushrooms, zucchini). 1 to 2 strips of bacon( uncured,no nitrates/nitrites) Local if I can find it.  or some homemade sausage. Usually I will also have some Swiss chard, or turnip greens sauteed in butter/bacon grease. And 1/2 of an Avocado.

Lunch/Dinner: A large salad with spinach and romaine lettuce(about 6 cups of greens) Then some combination of the following; Cucumber, olives,avocado(either as a dressing or in chunks), some kind of cheese, some kind of meat/protein, carrots, tomato and a creamy homemade dressing of some sort.
 If I am still hungry after that in a about 5 or so hours I may have some kind of small dinner.
It may be a 3 to 4 oz.piece of beef/chicken/fish/pork with some veggies like sweet potato or broccoli or cabbage.
Or I might have some kind of homemade soup or stew.

Then I will have a 1/4 cup of some mixed nuts and a single square of a Dark chocolate.
Maybe a cup of Chai with a drop of stevia and some heavy cream.

I will also make some kind of Keto/Paleo/LCHF desert once a week.
I have been experimenting with a few recipes, and so far I am in love with a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting I found.

I have to tell you, that I have not been hungry since I started this new way of eating. I never have cravings for sweets, well rarely, and if I do I can't stand anything super sweet. An apple and some nuts all taste really sweet to me now. Seriously!

I used to be addicted to anything made with wheat. Any kind of bread or cake or cookie. Anything with sugar. I was A.D.D.I.C.T.E.D. I am happy to report that I have lost about 27 pounds in less than three months(as of 11/9/2015) I have more energy. I have more focus. I can go many hours without needing to eat(no more hypoglycemia or migraines). I feel so much better. I wish I had learned about this many years ago.

The reason I am telling you all this, is not to try to make anyone change their lifestyle. I mean you can if you want to. Click on the links and you can learn all about it. No, what I want you to know is that even through all of the changes that are happening in our lives right now, I am starting to take care of my self in a way that I never have before. Yes, there is so much to do here on the homestead. But there will always be a lot to do, that is the nature of this life, is it not? I want you to take from this a desire to find that thing in your life that needs to change. It is hard I know. But I never thought I could do what I am doing now. Just take that first step. It is never too late to do what makes you happy. Not till you draw your last breath.

This Blog is a place to make the journey. Lets do it together. Here on the Maine.Homestead.Project we can be a force for positive change and growth in each others lives. our motto is Peace.Love.Joy and you can be a part of that here.

I look forward to interacting with you all, as often as I can. I can't promise that I will post daily but I am going to try for at least twice a week with one post being an update on my journey into a LCHF life. Please comment and discuss as you wish. I only ask that you keep it family friendly and be as loving and kind as you would like others to be with you. We are all human and we are all brothers and sisters on this journey we call life.