Garden Blend Spaghetti Sauce

Today is a first! I made my own spaghetti sauce from scratch! With vegetables all from my own garden too, so I get extra points for that 🙂

Honestly, growing up I would not eat any sauce but Ragu. I remember my mom giving up making sauce from scratch thanks to my refusal to eat it. Yep, my kids probably got their weird eating issues from me. I was against chunks and any sign of vegetables lurking in there. I even remember occasions of eating at friend’s homes and the horror of being served spaghetti sauce that was not Ragu! And not only was it not Ragu, it always had mushrooms in it! Fungus! My mother told me I had to eat what I was served to be polite so I secretly picked out mushrooms and vegetable chunks. To this day, I don’t do mushrooms!

We grew a lot of tomatoes this year! So, it made sense to try to make them into sauce since there was no way we could eat this many!

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Ingredients

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 2-3 hours until vegetables are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. When done, let cool. If you want smooth sauce, grind in the blender. Otherwise, leave chunky! Add extra seasoning if needed, depending on your taste! Warm on the stove as needed.

You could add other vegetables like carrots, squash, zucchini or meat. I used what we had growing right now.

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Mid-life Make Over

My goal in writing this is to not only help myself, but to hopefully reach another person struggling through life like I am. I don’t want to present myself on here as a perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect homeschooler, homesteader, homemaker, etc. That is so far from the truth! So often I fall in to the social media trap where everyone else looks like they have it all and do it all, and I hope you don’t ever see me that way.

The truth is, I fail more often than I succeed most days. I cry more often than I would like. I have not met most of my goals in life. I lose my temper and patience with the people who mean the most to me. The honest, ugly truth is I turn 40 this year (I won’t lie, that depresses me), and I have woken up to the fact that I have spent a good portion of my adult life simply surviving, denying essential parts of myself. I haven’t had a terrible life or an especially hard life (despite my blog name, ha!). We have had the typical ups and downs. Having children brings plenty of challenges!

I sometimes fall in to the self pity trap: why do my kids have learning disabilities? Why did my kids have to be so hard as infants never sleeping, colic for months, food allergies? Why does everyone else I know go on fabulous vacations? Why do I have to have horrible headaches? Why can’t we ever have a new car? You know how it goes! Get the violins out! Some may say it is just luck of the draw, some may say it is God’s providence and through these trials we are being sanctified. Some of it is simply a result of decisions we make. It’s life, it’s messy sometimes. And when I stop and look around me, I realize my complaints and problems are miniscule compared to so many in the world.

I have begun a journey to re-evaluate my life and who I have become: the good, the bad and the ugly. For too long I have just hung on to the roller coaster ride, eyes closed, screaming some, and wondering why I didn’t enjoy it! How can I be almost 40 already? If I am fortunate, I am only about half way through this life. When it is all said and done, what do I really want? What do you really want? Good living, requires good planning, not simply surviving.


I am just starting this and have a long way to go! But I want to share what I am asking myself to contemplate on and pray on. I hope it helps someone else also.

My first question to answer is, what exactly is happiness to me? What brings me joy? When do I feel most alive and true to myself? Not what makes my husband or kids happy, just me. That sounds a bit selfish but as a wife and mom, I know for years, I have tried to please other people! To be what other people want me to be. Or what I think they want me to be. And the result? A depressed, tired, grumpy person. I’m pretty sure that is not what they want me to be! I wouldn’t even really want to spend time with myself!

The second question is multiple parts or as far as you want to go with it. Where do you want to be in 1 year? In 5 years? 10 year? Of course the harder part of this question will be how do I get to where I want to be! And how will if affect my spouse? my kids? my health? First things first, what exactly is it I envision? I plan to make a vision board. It sounded silly to me at first, but I need to see those goals in front of me as a daily reminder!

To get to those long term goals, I have to tackle the daily mess first! And life is messy! What is so baffling to me is how my life got so messy! I love organizing! I love order and schedules! If I lived alone, my home would look like nobody lived there most likely, you know, sort of like an Ikea showroom, or an ad for minimalistic living! However, I live with four other people and for some reason, they don’t want to fit in to my vision! This creates feelings of a frustration in me but that is another topic 🙂 Basically, these wild children I gave birth to have broken me and in my weakness I have allowed our home to become chaotic! Not in a cluttered sense, I battle back on that daily! It is chaotic in the sense that we have no consistent schedule or plan each day. I make beautiful schedules and plans and then don’t carry them out. Our most precious asset is our time!


Every day I need to evaluate my day and plan for the next. And then actually carry the plan out! It will have to start small. I am doomed to fail if I try to change everything in one day. Here are some questions to ask yourself each day:

  • How is my current plan not working?
  • What do I accomplish each day? What do I need to accomplish?
  • How can I improve tomorrow?
  • Where are my weaknesses?
  • What is my schedule? Do I even have one?

Here is an example of my daily plan goal (which by the way, I made over a year ago and have not put in to action):

  1. Set out school supplies and work before bed for the following day
  2. Set alarm to get up at a regular time- (get showered and dressed before 10, hey we homeschool!)
  3. Wake kids at regular time, brush teeth, dress, have breakfast and take vitamins
  4. Feed all the animals, do chores that need to be done
  5. Finish school work before other activities
  6. Eat dinner at the table together when possible
  7. Family clean up time
  8. Baths
  9. Get kids in bed by 9 and read
  10. Meal plan each week
  11. Make a bi-weekly budget
  12. Drink more water, eat/drink less sugar (yes, I have a Coke addiction)
  13. Do some sort of exercise daily even if only for 10 minutes
  14. Keep a journal of what I am working on and praying about, and study my results over time.

So far, I have only managed to make the budget, baby steps!


My final goal for now is to work on my attitude and the attitude of my children. At first, the idea of daily affirmations made me laugh, but reading more and more about the idea, has convinced me to give it a try! You can choose what speaks to you. I could not narrow it down to just one or two. These will be ours for now, reading and saying them out loud!

For the children:

  • God has a great plan for my life.
  • God has not given me a spirit of fear. I am brave.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I make good and safe decisions.
  • I love my body and take care of it by making healthy choices.
  • I am thankful for my blessings. I have everything I need.
  • Every problem has an answer and I will find it.
  • I think positively.
  • I am loved by God and my family and friends.
  • This is going to be a good day!

For Myself:

  • I am in charge of how I feel and I choose happiness.
  • I am in control of what I eat and I choose healthy choices. Food does not control me.
  • I am not afraid, there is nothing to fear.
  • I am smart, confident and filled with energy.
  • I am grateful for my beautiful life.
  • I love my body and take care of it.
  • Money is a resource and I am good at making it and managing it.
  • I am not afraid of “no”, I can change people’s lives.
  • I am a good mother and I can teach my children well.
  • I manage my time wisely and do not waste time.
  • This is going to be a great day!

This is only the beginning. And feel free to check up on me and see how I am doing! If you want a friend to be accountable with, let me know! I am praying for big results for my life and for whoever else reads this and needs it!


 

Belly full of Biscuits

That’s what my son has now, a belly full of biscuits! My husband has perfected his biscuit recipe over the last few years to what he calls “cat head” biscuits! Apparently, that means they are the size of cat heads! And they are GOOD! 


Through careful instruction, I too mastered biscuit making this morning! Here is all you need in order to reach biscuit perfection:

2 cups flour

1 tbls baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 stick of butter

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Cut up a cold stick of butter in to small pieces and add in to dry mix. Now, use your hands and fingers to blend the butter in. It’s a good hand and arm exercise! Don’t leave any butter chunks! Pour in the cup of milk and stir with a fork. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticking to the bowl some. You don’t want sticky dough! Flour a cutting board and dump your dough on to it and form a ball. Flour your rolling pin and roll dough flat, about an inch thick. 


Next, cut out circles. If you have a biscuit cutter, great! We use a plastic cup! Whatever works 😄 Place the biscuits in a cast iron skillet. Cook for about 15 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown. 


Now fill your belly full of biscuits! Even better with good butter, cheese, egg, jelly, bacon, be creative!

Using Cedarwood Oil in Your Home and Garden

Cedarwood oil has a warm, woodsy scent that promotes a relaxing environment when used topically or aromatically. Often referred to as Cedar oil, this essential oil is both unique and useful. There are many types of cedar trees, but all are coniferous, evergreen trees from the cypress family. Native to cold climates, Cedarwood thrives in high altitudes, with the potential to grow nearly 100 feet tall!

It possesses cleansing and soothing properties that make it useful for promoting healthy-looking skin, soothing the mind and body, cleaning around the house, or promoting a calm environment in any room. Cedarwood is also extremely useful for repelling insects both inside and outside.

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 Because it is a grounding oil that can promote emotional balance, Cedar oil is a good essential oil to diffuse at the end of a long day when you want to create a relaxing environment. Cedarwood oil holds calming and grounding properties for both the mind and body. I often mix Cedarwood oil with other warm oils like Cinnamon and Sandalwood. It also blends well with floral oils like Patchouli and Jasmine, or citrus oils like Bergamot and Lime. Here are two of my favorite Cedarwood essential oil diffuser blends:

Alpine Awakening diffuser blend
2 drops Bergamot oil
1 drop Cedarwood oil
2 drops Wintergreen oil

California Coast diffuser blend
2 drops Frankincense oil
2 drops Cedarwood oil
1 drop Rosemary oil
2 drops Wild Orange oil

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Cedarwood has many other uses too!

  • You can use a few drops of Cedarwood on a felt pad in your closet to ward off bugs or to freshen up Cedarwood hangers and shoe trees. Cedarwood is especially effective to keep moths at bay.
  • Before exercising, massage one to two drops onto your chest to maintain vitality throughout your workout, and enjoy the vitality-boosting benefits of Cedarwood oil.
  • You can easily incorporate Cedarwood oil into your daily facial routine by simply adding one to two drops to your facial toner or moisturizer for added clarifying properties. The cleansing properties of Cedarwood oil can also help improve the appearance of skin imperfections. When you notice a fresh skin imperfection, directly apply one drop of Cedar oil to affected area to immediately improve the appearance.
  • When your child wakes up scared after a nightmare, apply Cedar oil to the bottom of his or her feet to help promote a peaceful, settled feeling. When you find yourself distressed by unfamiliar situations, inhale the aroma of Cedarwood oil to promote calming emotions.

What I have used it most for is insect repellent! When working in the garden, you can add Cedarwood essential oil to your mulch or topsoil to help keep insects at bay. To keep bugs away during seasons when insects are a threat, which is all year here in Florida, you can create your own essential oil bug repellant formula using Fractionated Coconut Oil and Cedarwood oil (simply apply to the body before going outside). Inside your house, place a drop of Cedar oil on a cotton ball and place in closets, storage boxes, or other areas to keep moths at bay. When the aroma fades, replace the old cotton ball with a fresh one to ensure that no bugs will make their home in your furniture or storage areas.

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I am planning to try a Cedarwood spray on our cows, who are plagued by flies this time of year!

Pigs in Action

Here’s a little look at feeding time! Pigs LOVE to eat! So much so, Mama Pig will actually use her snout to flip babies out of the way, as in send them flying through the air! We feed them non-gmo corn and apparently it is addictive and much preferred to all the plants and weeds they have growing in the back acre. Maybe that’s true of most of us: carbs over greens 😂

So, you think you want to homestead?

Homesteading, backyard farming, grow your own food, it all seems to be the cool thing to do these days. And a noble pursuit! I don’t want to discourage anyone from their dream or from being more self-reliant and bettering the planet. But I do want to paint a picture of reality, or at least my reality, as a family who is living it. I read so many beautiful blogs and books and see so many picturesque settings online of these perfect farming families. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure some of these do exist, but for those of you, on the fence, check out these 10 ways to tell if it is really for you! In general, I advise, start small and be realistic!

  1. Do you like poop? No, that is not a joke question, completely serious! The truth is, if you have animals, lots of animals, in your backyard, there is going to be a plethora of poop! And I don’t mean the normal dog poop pile here and there. And all poop is different. We have two cows, quite a few pigs, chickens and ducks and two dogs and cats. It seemed like a lovely idea to let the birds free roam. It was a lovely idea until our porch and walkways were covered in poop…. and the chairs, bar-b-q, kid’s pool, you name it! Cow poop is like walking through a mine field. At least pigs choose one space to consolidate their poop, mostly, but the smell can be horrid. When the wind blows a certain direction, better get that gas mask. If you are like my husband, poop excites you and you study it and even take pictures of it….poop
  2. Do you like your home and living area clean? I am a neat freak. I love organization and cleanliness. There is a HUGE difference in keeping your city home clean verses your homestead. No matter how many mats you place outside, no matter how many times a day you sweep, even if you require shoes to come off before people enter the house, you will not have clean floors! It is a losing battle. clean
  3. How do you feel about bugs? I’ll be honest, I hate them. Unless they fall under the category of butterfly/moth, ladybug, or rolly polly, I don’t want them near me or my home. We don’t use bug spray here or have our yard or house treated for bugs. So, I get to see them quite often! I always considered roaches my arch enemies, but after living on a farm, I realized the real spawns of the devil are flies. And may I wish you luck on ridding your farm of those! After we tried every idea out there on the internet, we found the best solution was a magnet net over your door and a Bug-a-Salt gun. bugs
  4. How do you like having neighbors? I am an introvert and thought living in the country would not bother me in the least. But let me warn you, if you are used to being in a city and a neighborhood, it’s a big change! You no longer have that person to call if you get locked out of your house, or to watch your house while you are away, or to hear you scream in the night (hey, you never know). I miss chatting with neighbors and the kids miss playing with friends nearby. It can be very lonely in the country and those that are around you are generally not overly friendly. They may wave to you but aren’t interested in making friends with the weird city folk who moved in down the road.
  5. Do you mind a long drive to everything? We are lucky to have a gas station and the dollar store nearby (it is sort of like the tiny, sad, yucky version of Target). Everything else is at least 30 minutes or more away. We spend a lot of time driving, which also means more gas money. The original plan was to schedule shopping trips, errands, etc. all on one day but the reality is we are in the car daily! If you have kids, they have activities and school (unless you homeschool) to get to most days of the week. There is something to be said for the conveniences of city life! That also means, no pizza delivery on those nights you just don’t feel like cooking!
  6. You think your kids will love farm life? Excuse me while I laugh! No really, yours might! Ours did when we first moved. Our oldest loved chickens and called herself “chicken girl.” Our son literally followed Daddy around to help with all farm chores. He believed he was a cowboy and rode on pigs, practiced roping and chased chickens. But this all wore off after a couple years. Kids grow and change and have their own interests and likes. Their likes may end up being the same as yours, or they may not! All my daughter wants to do now is move back to the city!
  7. Are you an animal lover? There are people who like animals and then there are animal lovers. You really do need to like animals if you plan to own them, even if they are not pets, you spend a lot of time working with them! So if you hate animals, please consider growing vegetables. I fall in to more of the animal lover category. In fact, I used to not eat meat at all because of this. And I was pretty clear from the start with my husband I would not be one of those wives out there helping process chickens. Just isn’t going to happen! But I did not realize how much it would bother me to raise farm animals and then be expected to eat them! They will have a face and name now as they sit on your dinner plate. And even though our goal is to raise them in a humane, natural way (no cages, no cruelty), I can’t help but feel sad when they become food. Make sure you are one of those people who this won’t bother. Maybe I am a softy. I certainly never lived in a time period where it was completely natural to go out back and get your dinner.
  8. Are you hoping to get rich? If your answer is yes, please ditch this homestead idea now! Farming is hard! And expensive, especially if you are trying to be organic and non-GMO. Most people, even those who love the idea of eating organic, do not understand just how much it costs to feed animals organic/non-GMO feed and do not want to pay that price, or simply can’t afford it. Then factor in all the money you spend on building and re-building fences, coops, and barns! There is always something that breaks, always unexpected expenses, and failures. Plants don’t grow sometimes, chicks don’t survive, pigs destroy your fences and gardens, cows get sick. Farm life is not an easy profit!
  9. Do you like to travel/relax? Well, if you answer yes, say goodbye to that idea! Unless you have trusted people to take care of your farm while away or the money to pay someone to do so, having a farm binds you to home. It’s not like having a cat or some fish in a bowl! It is a daily responsibility that can’t easily be left behind for a week or two. And if you do get away for a while, you will probably get a call that something has gone wrong on the farm (true, the pigs escaped, the cow jumped the fence, the cat almost died, a snake got in the chick coop). If you plan to homestead and still work your other “real” job, you won’t have much free time to relax in the evening or weekends. My husband as a fireman, works 24 on and 48 off, minus the 2 hour commute there and back. His “free time” is now “farm time”.
  10. Do you like to look nice? If you enjoy looking pretty and fashionable, you may wan to rethink this whole farm thing. I know if you look on the internet you can find some gorgeous people on farms! There probably are some, but honestly, if you actually farm or grow things, most days you don’t look too good! Or smell good. Most likely you are covered in mud, poop and sweat. It’s part of the job!

    I know it sounds like everything I said was a negative. There are, of course, positive aspects of farming and homesteading. But I wanted to give my honest, sometimes ugly opinion of what it is really like! If it were all sunshine and roses, I would have to rename my blog 🙂

Bugs, nobody got time for that!

We spend a lot of time outside whether it be at baseball games, working in the garden, taking care of animals, or just playing at the park. One thing I do not enjoy is being followed or attacked by insects! And who does really? I do not want to use any chemical spray on my kids or on myself and we do not spray our plants with scary ingredients either.

TerraShield is my family’s favorite blend for the summer. It is the magic that wards off any insects that want to join our summer festivities. This oil is safe for everyone in your family and can even help your garden flourish by giving it a protective barrier.

TerraShield has recently been updated to include Tamanu oil which not only provides extra benefits for your use but is positively impacting families in Madagascar through dōTERRA’s Cō-Impact Sourcing. This blend can be diffused or applied topically using the TerraShield Spray to provide a defense against the annoyances of outdoor activities. I figure no defense is better than what Mother Nature has to offer!

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The newly updated formula contains a select blend of essential oils including Ylang Ylang, Cedarwood, Catnip, Lemon Eucalyptus, Litsea, Arborvitae, Nootka, and Vanilla Bean Absolute—all of which possess specific chemical compounds known to protect against environmental annoyances.

I simply spray it on all exposed areas (avoiding eyes, sensitive areas and inner ears) and apply every couple hours. You can also spray it around your tent, doors, and garden plants. It’s even effective on your farm animals who are plagued by flies! Diffusing 3-4 drops when eating outside helps keeps the bugs at bay.

If you want to try making up your own blend for a specific problem, here are some essential oils for common bug problems:

Mosquitos – lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, lavender
Fleas – cedarwood, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemongrass, lavender, wild orange
Ticks – rose, geranium, juniper, thyme, grapefruit, oregano

Using a 4 oz clean spray bottle, fill it with 2 ounces of distilled water. Add 1 ounce of witch hazel and then add about 50 drops of essential oils, any combination of the above oils should work. Be sure to shake your bottle before each use! Please make sure you are using therapeutic grade oils!

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And if you do get some nasty bites, try some of these natural remedies to sooth!

*Apply lavender or tea tree essential oil directly to the insect bite. I carry a roller of this with us!
*Apply apple cider vinegar to the bite
* Rub the affected area with a lemon slice
*Dip a chilled already brewed chamomile tea bag to the bite to soothe to reduce inflammation.
* Hold an ice cube on the bite.
*Create a paste of water and baking soda and apply directly to the area