5 Reasons You Should Spend More Time At Home (and what to do while there)

Here are five beneficial reasons to spending more time at home, and less time in the Great American Rat Race.

This post is absolutely my opinion and is only meant for encouragement.

1) Spend Less:
As long as you are not spending your day browsing the web shopping, this is an obvious benefit to staying home. You are not constantly tempted to keep up with those around you, or grabbing dinner or coffee, just because you are out, and it is easy.

Gas is a major savings when you live far from town. By staying home you will spend less on activities such as dance, swim practice, or karate. Your children can be just as active playing outside – using their imagination to build forts or hide-outs. You could give them a patch of the yard and allow them to plant and grow their own vegetables. You might be surprised at how diligent they are.

Working Family

2) Save More:
Obviously tied with spending less. Staying home gives you the opportunity to save. Save toward Dave Ramsey’s step number one. Save toward your children’s college expenses. Save toward purchasing your first clutch of ducklings or the start of your cattle herd. Living pay check to pay check is difficult, and no fun at all. Build your savings, pay off debt. You can do it, and staying home is an easy way to contribute.

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

3) Steward the Land, Lawn, or Patio:
Wherever you are. Whatever type of home you have. Staying home in general gives you more time to focus on keeping your home beautiful. The energy you gain from not rushing from activity, to social event, to activity, and back again, can be put toward maintaining your land or lawn. Plant a vegetable garden. Plant flowers for the honey bees and butterflies. Start an orchard. Grow herbs, beets, and tomatoes on your patio. These acts of stewardship will give you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and pride.

Grow closer to your children or spouse. Being home together inevitably leads to working together. Your children will take great pride in working along side you as you prepare a garden or learn about raising laying hens. Seeing their face as they collect eggs for the first time is priceless. The skills and responsibilities our children will learn  by raising and caring for their own animals will only benefit them.

Annie and Puppy

Read aloud. Read the Bible together. Find classic literature such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, Frances Hodgson Burnett. Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Elizabeth Enright.

Similarly, the relationship you build with your spouse as you work, pray, and plan together will strengthen. My husband and I love to plan together. To map out the goals we want to accomplish together. This not only strengthens our marriage, it gives us a deeper look into each other’s heart.

4) Raise Your Own Food:
Staying home gives you more time to raise your own food. Did you know that food travels, on average, 1500 miles to get to your local supermarket? Think of the waste! By raising our own food in our own backyard, as a country we can save an enormous amount of energy, time, and money. The first supermarket supposedly appeared in 1946. Where was our food then? If you read books that were written in the early 1900s and 1800s, you would see that the food was in homes, gardens, fields. Stored up in cellars or larders. Now, we can’t imagine living without a grocery store. The most an average American family has stocked in their home is cereal, condiments, or frozen pizzas.

By staying home we are able to raise our own food. Meal plan according to the food we raise. Source local meats. Source local dairy products. Take pride in our food, rather than throwing a frozen pizza in the oven because we just don’t have the time after gymnastics.

“If every kitchen in America had enough chickens attached to it to eat all of the scraps coming out of that kitchen, no egg industry or commerce would be necessary in the whole country.” –Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal

5) Prepare Healthy Meals:
This goes right along with raising our own food. Did you have a bumper kale crop? Are your tomatoes producing exceedingly well? Meal plan around your garden items. Greens should and can be eaten every day. Swiss chard, kale, or collards taste delicious sautéed in butter and garlic. Store your potatoes, carrots, radishes, and cabbages to use throughout the winter in soups and pies.

Every meal can be planned around a kitchen garden. Not only will you benefit from the accomplishment you will feel from growing these veggies yourself, think of the cost savings this would bring. Whether that is the fuel it takes to buy produce from the supermarket, or the actual cost of said produce from the supermarket.

This also encourages you to eat food as it is in season. Have you tasted a local tomato,  strawberry, or cucumber in the peak of its season? Nothing compares. You may never want to eat a bland, store bought tomato, shipped half way across the world again.

Land

I wrote this post because I know what happens when we leave the home. We become distracted, busy, frazzled, tired, and weary. It is so beneficial to our souls to do meaningful work within the home. To raise our own food. Raise our own children. Build up our relationship with God by praising Him and stewarding the land He has given us.

April

Dutch Baby

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” -A.A Milne

Delicious served with Lemon Curd, or a simple dust of powdered sugar, the Dutch Baby rivals the standard American Pancake.

It is necessary to have a cast iron skillet to make this recipe.

Made with Farm Fresh Eggs and local Raw milk give this recipe a warmer, more robust flavor.

Dutch Baby.jpg

 

This Recipe feeds 4, if you are lucky. They will keep coming back for more.

Ingredients:
3 large Eggs
⅔ Cup Milk
⅔ Cup AP Flour
¼ tsp Sea Salt
½ stick or 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Powdered Sugar and Lemon (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place your Cast Iron Skillet on the middle rack of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix Eggs, Milk, Flour, and Salt vigorously with a whisk for about 100 strokes until very well combined and smooth.
  3. Remove Skillet from oven and melt the butter in the pan.
  4. Swirl the pan to coat evenly.
  5. Pour batter into the skillet and return to oven.
  6. Do not open the oven door.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until you can see that your Dutch Baby has puffed and is a golden brown color.
  8. Immediately dust with powdered sugar and a sprinkle of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you tried my recipe in the comment section below.

-April

Note: The Dutch Baby will deflate after removal from oven.

Fresh Pasta with Tomatoes and Chard

I had one of those last minute, “Oh no! It’s dinner time” events last night. The kiddos were all playing outside. I was inside with the baby when I realized it was 5:00, and I had no plans for dinner. I am usually a meal planner, but my husband was home from western Kansas this weekend and that got away from me. Searching the kitchen, I knew I had Mushrooms, Garlic, Swiss Chard, and Heirloom Tomatoes I purchased from friends at our local Farmer’s Market. The perfect combination for my favorite pasta dish. I usually make this with a mushroom ravioli, but did not have time to make the ravioli, so I went with a fettuccini pasta instead. It is fast, yummy, and easy. Perfect for a quick dinner.

Pasta Dish

It is one of my family’s favorite recipes so I thought I would share it with you, my readers! I hope you enjoy!

Fresh Pasta Ingredients:
1 Cup AP Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Egg
1 T Basil Infused Olive Oil (or regular Olive Oil)
1 T Water, if needed

Remaining Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)
3 cloves Garlic (to taste)
1/2 pint Mushrooms
5 medium sized Heirloom Tomatoes
5-7 stalks Swiss Chard or Spinach
1 tsp Sea Salt (to taste)
1 tsp Pepper (to taste)

Note: This recipe feeds my three girls and I.

Veggie Mixture

1) Prepare Fresh Pasta.
-Place the flour on a clean surface or in a mixing bowl.
-Using a fork or whisk, gently mix 1/2 tsp salt with the flour.
-Make a well in the flour.
-Crack your egg in the well and add 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil.
-Using a fork, or your hands, slowly mix the egg into the flour pulling a little flour from the edges each time until your dough begins to come together.
-Kneed for a few minutes, if the dough is too dry add 1 Tbsp water. Remember, like pie crust, it takes a minute or two for the dough to come together. Do not add too much liquid.
-Kneed 4-5 minutes total.
-Then roll your pasta dough to desired width, or run through a pasta machine.
-Run your dough through the fettuccini setting on a pasta machine or cut into small strips.
-Dust with flour and let dry until ready for use.

Note: You absolutely do not have to use Fresh Pasta, but it does increase the taste and quality of this meal substantially. Fresh pasta is easy and quick. Not scary. You can do it!

2) Prepare water for boiling pasta. Once boiling generously salt the water and add fresh pasta. Cook only a few minutes. Fresh pasta cooks quickly. Drain Pasta.

Adding Pasta

3) Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
4) Add sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.
5) Once mushrooms are cooked down, finely chop Garlic and add to mushrooms and tomatoes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. It happens quickly.
6) Chop Swiss Chard and add to mushroom/tomato mixture.
7) Once the chard has cooked down add your fresh pasta.
8) Gently toss together with tongs and season with salt and pepper to your taste.
9) Serve with fresh parmesan and a crusty garlic bread!

Finished Product

Did you try my recipe? Let me know how it turned out in the comment section below!

 

-April

How to Fail Miserably.

“Ma sighed gently and said, “A whole year gone, Charles.” But Pa answered, cheerfully: “What’s a year amount to? We have all the time there is.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

I began my homesteading journey in 2012. I had three little ones under the age of 4 and had just came to know the Lord. Becoming a Christian so late in life not only changes who you are, but also changes how you view what surrounds you. I realized my desire for living closely with my family, and for raising my children at home with their parents.

Payton and Maggie

I was also introduced to a man named Joel Salatin. Joel is, what he calls himself, a “lunatic farmer” from an extremely lucrative farm in West Virginia, Polyface Farms. Have you heard of him? If not, you should check into his books. They are life changing. I was hooked on the farming lifestyle and I knew this was how I wanted to live.

I had tried many different ways of finding myself throughout my teens and early twenties. I even dabbled in vegetarianism. My husband is a meat eater, and was raised on a small farm. I decided if we were going to eat meat, we were going to raise it ourselves.

No factory raised chicken or pork for us. No feedlot grain-fed beef will cross our table. However your feelings lean toward that type of meat, I knew that wasn’t what I wanted for my family.

So, we went all in. We started with chickens (of course), laying hens and meat birds. We then moved to a major purchase, our first dairy cow, Momma. I loved Momma. She was a gentle Jersey and came with a calf we named Jessie. She was the start of our cattle herd, and our first real dive into homesteading. My husband and I took turns milking her in the morning, and then left her calf on her all day.

Baby Chicks

Next up, pigs. I ran my first half marathon in the Spring of 2013. The moment I crossed the finish line we jumped in the truck and drove two hours north to purchase our first hogs. Hereford Hogs to be exact. Man, those suckers are crazy. Extremely gentle and sweet, but hyper and too interested in being with the people. At first, we attempted to fence off a very large grassy and wooded area, complete with a flowing creek. Those pigs had it made. But did they stay in that fenced area? No. Every day they meandered their way back up to the house. Digging up my flowers, vegetables, and just the yard in general! These bonkers pigs were out of control!

Crazy Pigs!

My husband is a fence contractor and he could not, for the life of him, keep them in their place. So, we decided to say good bye to pastured pigs for the time being and built them another more sturdy, and smaller (but really not very small) enclosure. This worked and we were able to raise our own pork.

Happy Pig

Fast forward a short period of time and my husband decided to dabble in the goat raising business, particularly to clear up overgrown brush where his cattle would graze. We were sixty deep in goats. Had 10 pigs. Grew to 3 dairy cows, 30 beef cows, and numerous chickens.

Garden Piggies

We had it made, homesteadingly speaking.

This is where the failing part comes in.

We left home.

I left home.

I was responsible for the majority of the chores on our farm. Feeling like I wasn’t contributing enough, I left the farm to find work outside the home. Actually 30 miles from the home. Every day, Monday through Friday, I was gone. From 7:00am-7:00pm. My husband was left overwhelmed with all of the responsibility of raising the animals and running a business full time.

Gardens failed, and the animals were sold one by one until we were left with no pigs. no chickens. no goats. one dairy cow. Still managed to grow our beef cattle herd, thankfully.

This was a failure.

A complete and absolute failure.

We lived roughly a year in this way, and then joined several extra curricular activities that caused us to be away from home even more. Thankfully for me, the more time I spent away from home, the more I yearned for it.

Now we are back and at it again, hopefully with the experience and know how to stick with it. To remember our why. Animal husbandry brings us closer to each other and closer to God. We want to provide the best food for our children, and raise them with the happiness and freedom a simpler lifestyle can provide.

We grow our own food. Bake our own bread. Raise our own meat. Cook our meals at home. Learn at home. And if that is your desire, You can too.

Pasta

Whether you are starting over – or just in the beginning. It is okay to fail. A year is a year. Two years are two years. They are not a lifetime. Just pull up your boot straps, hatch those chicks, and start again.

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ” – Michael Pollan

This is what life is about. Having a deep connection with the world around you. Listening to the creek rushing after a rain storm. Watching the first blossom arrive on a long awaited tomato vine. Hearing the rooster crow with the sunset, and caring for your pigs in a ice storm. This is where we are meant to be.

-April

Simple and Easy Watermelon Salad

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” – Michael Pollan

We have always grown watermelon, and frankly by the end of the summer I can grow tired of eating it over and over, the same way. It is fun to think of new ways to use such a delicious fruit. Watermelon rind jelly, pureed watermelon in drinks, and this watermelon salad. Or as my three year old daughter would say, Lemonlade.

Now here is a closeup because I am so awesome at taking pictures with my iPhone.

Watermelon Salad

This simple watermelon salad tastes anything but simple. It is so good and only takes a few ingredients with a little prep. Plus, if your mint is taking over like mine, you will be thankful to use it!

Ingredients needed:
Watermelon – any size
1 pint of Blueberries
A few sprigs of mint
1 tsp. salt

Instructions:
Simply chop the watermelon to your desired size and remove the seeds. Throw in the blueberries, mint, and salt. Mix all together. Wasn’t that easy? Now you have a tasty and light summer treat!

Let me know in the comments if you tried this easy recipe!

-April

A Fall Garden and Deep Breaths for a Weary Momma

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

My husband tilled my fall garden for me yesterday.

I view this act as a first step back toward myself.

Toward my love for being on my hands and knees, deep in the dirt. Turning the soil with my fingertips. Placing each tiny seed in to its designated area.

My daily mornings of watering the precious seedlings that will grow to feed my family.

The joy and fulfillment of preserving said bounty.

Rosemary

This past spring and summer I was completely overwhelmed with outside activities. I planted a few containers with some of my favorites: cucumbers, herbs, zucchini, radishes, onions, and peppers. Thankfully, container gardens don’t need weeded and they generally deter dogs (but not chickens).

Planting these containers wasn’t something I wanted to do, it was what my husband badgered gently reminded me every day to do.

I just didn’t have the time or the energy. Depressed, weary, BUSY. But with each blossom that arrived my heart was pointed more toward home.

Kale Container

Now, my fall garden is currently in motion. Planted with Carrots, Radishes, Beets, Kohlrabi, Cabbage, Garlic, Greens, and Potatoes.

My horseradish roots are ready to harvest in October, and I have a few birds that need processing when my husband returns from work in Western Kansas (a story for another time).

I would say that summer is winding down, and I am more than ready for pumpkins, wood stoves, falling leaves, and early sunsets.

-April

 

Just Say No.

Have you ever grew tired of the concrete? The buildings? The busy-ness? The monotonous of commuting? Do you crave a deeper connection with those around you?

There was a time in my recent past that I unknowingly took a break from my dedication to a simpler life. 

I made the mistake – and I am calling this a mistake – of enrolling my children in a year-round organized sport. This required driving to town (we live in a rural area) every single day. And Hey! If I am going to be in town, why not sign up for a million other extra-curricular activities as well? I mean, I do want a well-rounded highly socialized child, am I right? 

I was very far along in my pregnancy with my fifth child, and I found myself spending more time in the car than I had ever expected. Sitting. Sitting in the car on the long drive to town, sitting at swim practice (for an hour and a half!), sitting at piano lessons, art class, and then sitting again on the drive home. 

I then arrived home, warmed some food up for the kids (probably something unhealthy), and then sat some more on the couch. 

This led to a lot of sad things in my life. I became overweight, I was very depressed, and I was extremely unhealthy. My garden was in shambles: overgrown, eaten by animals, and just a mess. 

I gave up.

In the car headed to a meet

My children, in the car at 5:00am, heading to a swim meet a few hours away.

You know, I didn’t grow up with this desire. I was raised in a typical American family in the 90s and early 2000s. Both of my parents worked full time (or longer) and we did things that normal American families do. We watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of unhealthy meals. Boxed Macaroni and Cheese, Cereal, Pop-Tarts, Canned Soups. My mom is a wonderful cook – she was just working long hours. 

Although I didn’t quite go back to those types of dinners, I did find myself slipping into a lot of poor habits.

My husband and I made the hard decision to take our children out of organized sports. This was only hard for me because that is what I grew up doing. To me, you weren’t a productive child if you didn’t participate in some type of sport. This doesn’t have to be a sport. It can be anything: too many art classes, music lessons, too much television. Silly things that are not absolutely necessary.

Now, we are getting back to our normal. The gardens are tended to, the animals are happy and thriving, the children are running around wild in the great outdoors.

But most of all – Momma can breathe again.

There are so many things that can take away from our purpose at home. Some of them are seemingly good things, and it may take us a long time to realize the negative impacts they might have on our general wellness.

Bella Feeding Ruby.jpg

Our niece and daughter bottle feeding one of our sweet babies, Ruby.

It is OKAY to say NO. It is okay to put activities aside that are not growing your family closer together. 

Come home. 

Dig in the dirt with your spouse, friend, or children. 

Plant carrots. 

Raise a garden, Raise a few hens. 

Cook whole foods. 

Live Simpler. 

Trust me, you will not regret it.

-April

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