Candle stand makeover

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I found this candle stand/pedestal at Goodwill for $1.99. It was originally an ugly bronze, but I’d been looking for something to hold these candles in the corner of the hall bathroom counter. I was too eager to paint it to stop and take a before picture! A quick coat of Krylon spray paint in jade and it looks much better.

Laundry room decor

washboard

My thrift find today: a washboard! I grabbed it and brought it home to hang in my laundry room, as a reminder of where we’ve come from in terms of household work. A good reminder to be thankful for the nice washer and dryer I have.

The “laundry rules” picture is something I found online last year and printed out. The smallest picture is a postcard that came with the order of a print from The Black Apple a couple years ago. And the other picture is a cross stitch I did probably ten years ago? The bottles are my husband’s collection, his contribution to the vintage decor in the house!

Pear Crumble (Crisp, whatever you want to call it)

I made this last night for my women’s bible study group. I had some pears I’d canned back in the fall and I wanted something quick and easy to make. This fit the bill. I did cut back on the sugar from the original recipe.

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Pear Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 pears, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir pears with 1/2 cup sugar and salt, then pour into baking dish.

Combine flour, remaining sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Drizzle melted butter on top and stir until mixed. Spread topping over the pears in the baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

 

I was told, “This pear stuff is the bomb!” It is really good and sweet even with the sugar cut in half.

Milk kefir: easy to make, great tasting, and good for you too!

A few years ago, I started making homemade yogurt. I loved yogurt and ate it every day, but I hated the idea of all those little plastic containers going into the trash. I figured there had to be a cheaper, more sustainable option, so I searched the internet and found directions on making homemade yogurt.

I was so used to the sweetened, flavored yogurts that the taste of homemade yogurt took some getting used to. I had to wean myself off the need for sugar in it by reducing the amount of sugar I added each week until I was adding none. Now, the flavor doesn’t bother me at all, but I stopped making yogurt after a couple of batches didn’t turn out like they should have. Yogurt can be a bit finicky sometimes.

Then, last year, I discovered milk kefir smoothies at the grocery store and I loved them! So good and a lot like the yogurt I loved. I figured out that you can make kefir at home for much cheaper than buying the bottles of it from the store, so a couple months ago I bought some kefir grains from a seller on etsy and dove in.

Milk kefir is much more forgiving than yogurt is! It’s so simple and takes very little effort to get a great tasting smoothie that’s also good for you. If you’ve never had Greek or unflavored yogurt, you may find milk kefir to be a bit sour. I would recommend adding a little sugar at first and then weaning yourself off it like I did with the homemade yogurt. I drink a homemade milk kefir smoothie each morning, flavored with blueberries or strawberries (or both).

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This is what my milk kefir looks like after sitting on the counter for 24 hours. It’s ready to be strained!

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I admit that this doesn’t really look very appetizing.

milk kefir

Strain the liquid from the grains into another jar. You have to move the kefir around a bit to help get the liquid moving.

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You’ll end up with this smooth, thick liquid. Blend in fruit and enjoy!

Kefir is full of good bacteria that help regulate your digestive system. You know all those commercials talking about probiotics in yogurt or special pills? You can get that same thing easily by making your own milk kefir. It’s SO simple to make. Just add some kefir grains to a jar with milk, cover with cheesecloth or a paper towel, and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours. Then strain it and you have kefir. It takes very little attention or work from you to produce.

You can read more about the benefits of kefir at this article: Why We Need Probiotics and the Benefits of Kefir.

An Introduction and a Calling

Four years ago, my husband and I became Christians. Well, actually, we’d been Christians all our lives and had gone to church off and on as kids. He had a lot more church experience than I did. I believed in God and Jesus, but my family never really attended church more than a handful of times.

This blog is not going to be all about religion, by the way. I think of my religion as a very personal thing and am content to let people believe what they want to believe without forcing my opinions on them. But this has a connection to my real food journey, so bear with me a moment.

So we married in June 2000. We went to a local church a few times, planning to be married there, but neither one of us connected with the church and we stopped going. We were married at a local historical house instead (by my great-grandmother, who is an ordained minister. I have a pastor in the family and still never attended church regularly!). Then in early 2010, we decided to go to the church our next door neighbors went to. We visited once. Then we went back. We kept going. We liked the church and the people and we both felt that it was time to renew our connection with God, so we joined and were baptized.

As I read the bible that year, I kept thinking about how far our society had come from what God had created. What stuck out most to me was the business of food.

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:19 KJV

But do we today sweat in order to eat our bread? Modern society has made food a convenience. We buy boxes of Hamburger Helper and loaves of already made bread. Our food is ready in five minutes. We don’t need to sweat or work to eat. We don’t even have to know where our food comes from or what it’s made of. Whether or not you believe the bible is truth, you can’t deny that our food industry today is not at all what it used to be.

This stuck out in my mind as so wrong. I was ashamed to realize that I barely even knew what fruits and vegetables grew in which seasons. How had we gotten so far from food the way God had created it? Are we really any better for having Big Food controlling what we eat? I look at the surge in conditions and diseases that have taken over our modern world and I wonder if maybe our food might be at the root of much of it?

What could I do to get my household closer to God’s intentions?

That was the beginning of my real food journey. I’ve learned a lot in the last four years. I grow some of my own food. I taught myself to can food. I’m still learning so much.

Some people are called to become missionaries or pastors. I felt that God was calling me to teach myself and others about real food. My name is Shana. I’m a writer, a wife, a pet-mama. I live in a rural area of North Carolina. This blog is about my real food journey while being on a tight budget. We lost our biggest source of income in January 2013 when I was laid off from my day job, but we’re still doing what we can to stick to real food. We’re not perfect and we don’t try to be. I believe in the 80/20 rule: eat well 80% of the time and don’t stress out over the other 20%. My husband still loves Snickers and Little Debbie (he has a huge sweet tooth). We still sometimes eat fast food (though we’ve cut way, way back). But I do as much as I can to make sure we have good food at home and have the things we need. I love thrift stores and growing vegetables. I love looking out my back window and seeing the chickens scratching in the grass. This is the story of life on our little homestead.