A Simplifying We Will Go…

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One of the things we first realized along this journey is that we had way too much stuff. We kept a hold of things that we should have gotten rid of a long time ago. Mind you, it wasn’t, and still isn’t, an easy process. As any parent knows we tend to hang onto things our children made. I kept drawings they did on napkins, an old wilted dandelion, and basically EVERYTHING they did in school. I think going through those precious things were the hardest. What helped me was telling myself that I can hold so many memories in my heart, but that I also can still keep a few things that I considered very dear to me. I made sure they fit in a folder, and some I put in the children’s memory boxes. So I physically cleared up clutter, but I more than happily cluttered my heart in the process.

The process of simplifying is starting one room at a time. The garage, attic, or basement, should be the first to go through. Why? Because it is the hardest and most time consuming. Make piles of items to trash, keep, giveaway, and sell. Do one section at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Really look at each item. Do you really NEED it? Do you really NEED 5 of the same thing? After you go through a couple of things the rest will be easy. You will get a flow going.

After you are done going through a section, make sure to box up (we use bins) and label what is in there for easier access. For papers, use a foldable organizer. Follow the rules of how long to keep certain things (paystubs, taxes, etc.) Make sure to shred papers you are getting rid of. Be sure to store your “keep” bins from main rooms in your basement or attic.

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Old clothes can also be used for other purposes. You can use old t-shirts for rags, and sweaters/jeans can be made into bags or skirts. Jeans can also be used to make headbands, pot holders, placemats or even a rug! Old socks are great for dusting or waxing. Repurpose before you throw out! Be sure to check with your local community to see where your unwanted clothes can be best be used. Many have shelters that can use them.

Simplifying doesn’t have to be a painful process. It is meant to keep life simple, less cluttered, and organized. We tend to hold onto things that we may use “one day”, but usually that day doesn’t come. Sometimes we need to let go and let our life feel the decluttering it sorely needs!

A Pumpkin We Will Go..

Who doesn’t like a good muffin? They are great for breakfast and even a snack! I make all kinds of muffins, but the pumpkin ones are one of my favorites! I add dark chocolate chips to them because the family loves it that way (okay…so do I)! They handle well in the refrigerator and freezer, so you can make batches at a time.

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice or apple juice
  • You can add chocolate chips, nuts, etc.

* I double (or triple) this recipe so I can freeze a bunch!

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a muffin pan, or line with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and juice until combined (I use my mixer and it works just as well).
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  • Divide the batter between muffin cups.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and place on a rack or foil to cool completely.

I use a gallon storage bag for freezing, and I put a piece of wax paper in between the layers. They will keep up to 3 months in the freezer. For refrigerator storage I use a airtight container with the wax paper in between layers. It keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It tastes extra good if you warm it in the microwave, and then butter it up!

Prep in Your Step…

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I didn’t get into meal prepping until a few years ago. I was tired of spending so much on packaged snacks, meals, and the whole gambit. I wanted to be able to control what was going in the food. Plus, I wanted to have foods ready to go in case the children were hungry (which was and still is basically all the time, lol), or we just had a night where no one felt like cooking. It can take some time to prep, but if you have the family helping it will go by in no time! It can also be a lot of fun, or you may want to run away screaming! Either way, it will be worth it!

One of the first things I do is make my meal lists and put them in the following categories:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snacks

In each category I write down our meal suggestions. Dinner is usually the only one I have a designated day for. The others are your choice. A sample for each would be as follows:

Breakfast

Pancakes (blueberry, chocolate chip, regular, and so much more)

Egg sandwiches (we usually do cheese and bacon/sausage)

French toast sticks (thick bread, like Texas Toast, is best for these)

Hard-boiled eggs (quick and easy and also great for a snack)

Muffins (some of our favorites are pumpkin with dark chocolate chips and blueberry)

Overnight oats (my husband loves these for work, and you can add anything into them)

Lunch

Bean and cheese/cheese quesadillas

Pizza (french bread, english muffin, bagel)

Peanut butter and jelly (yes, you can freeze them! Whole wheat is the best bread to use, so when it defrosts, it won’t get soggy)

Homemade macaroni and cheese

Bean and cheese burritos

Soups (chicken noodle, minestrone, beef, etc.)

Dinner

Crockpot lasagna

Enchiladas

Foil packets (kielbasa, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, red potatoes)

Sausage, green beans, and potaotes

Crockpot chicken with salsa and rice

Beef stew

Snacks

Tomatoes and mozzerella

Veggies (celery, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers)

Air-popped popcorn (that way you can add all your favorite seasonings)

Corn muffins with hot dogs

Muffins (not just for breakfast)

Pretzels

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Honestly the list and combinations are endless! Meals that you used to think were unhealthy, you can make healthy with different twists. It’s actually fun to experiment! Most of the prepped items can be frozen up to three months. Any dinner meal I put in the refrigerator 24 hours ahead of time so it defrosts thoroughly. Meal prepping may seem like it takes hours of your time, but it doesn’t have to. Get a system going and be sure to get help from your family. Remember, it helps control what is going in your food, saves money, and with a freezer stocked, you can have a night off or two without having to cook!

Preparing for Anything…

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If this year has taught us anything, it is to be prepared. Being prepared is not just for the big things, but the smaller, everyday things too. When we first started our prepping journey I had no clue where to even begin. I would do research and would become instantly overwhelmed. That is when I decided to take what I already knew and start small.

Prepping means something different to everyone. Prepping for us means to make sure we have enough for when emergencies happen. It could mean anything from a storm (we get a lot of hurricanes where we live), to a loss of a job. It is knowing we will be okay when something does happen.

So, where should you start? I am going to start with the food pantry. It is an important place to begin. It will give you the peace of mind that if something does happen, you will be able to feed yourself and your family. Here I will list the most common and essential foods you will need. It is a good list to build off of!

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GRAINS:

Rice

Popcorn

Rolled oats

Cornmeal

All purpose flour

Cake flour

Pasta

Quinoa

Instant grits

Instant mashed potatoes

BEANS:

Pinto beans

Baked beans

Black beans

Navy beans

Kidney beans

Chickpeas

Lima beans

Black-eyed peas

Lentils

FATS:

Peanut butter

Shortening

Vegetable oil

Olive oil

Coconut oil

MEATS/PROTEINS:

Canned salmon

Sardines

Canned tuna

Spam

Canned chicken

Vienna sausages

Imitation bacon bits

SPICES:

Salt

Honey

White vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

Rice wine vinegar

Cinnamon sticks

Chicken bouillon

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Chili powder

Paprika

Cumin

Cayenne pepper

Ginger

Black pepper

BAKING:

Syrup

Powdered milk

Baking soda

Baking powder

Cocoa

Corn starch

Yeast

Pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar

Jell-O mix

Flour

Sugar

CANNED FRUITS/VEGETABLES:

Corn

Peas

Potatoes

Green beans

Beets

Spinach

Mixed fruit

Pears

Peaches

Tangerines

Pineapples

DRINKS:

Kool-aid

Gatorade

Juice Boxes

V8 (Regular and Splash)

Protein shakes

Water, water, water, and more water

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This is just an example of what you can start your prepper pantry with. Start with the essentials and keep building from there! I am excited to start learning how to can, so I can do my own jams, salsa, soups, etc. Go with what you know and make that small step!

A Journey to a Dream…

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Everyone has a dream, but does everyone take steps to fulfill that dream? If so, what made you take that leap? If not, what is holding you back?

I always had dreams, but I have always given up on them due to fear. I was afraid of starting something and then something going wrong, or then again maybe it goes right. I always stopped short of starting and fulfilling my dreams. It has taken most of my adult years to stop being afraid and do what makes me happy. The saying is true: life is too short. It truly is. Whether your dreams are big or small, you need to start somewhere. That one small step may be one of many, but it is a step into your dreams. I am finally not afraid to step into mine. My happiness is beginning with that one small step, and I would love for you to follow me on my journey…

My journey is one that I have always yearned for, and I am blessed that I have a husband and children that want to go along for the ride! I have always wanted a farm. A farm with cows, chickens, sheep, fruit trees, gardens, and flowers. We also want to be self-sufficient. Grow our own food, learn how to can, chop wood, raise our own animals, and so much more. This is where we combined the two and decided to start a homestead. The fear has been replaced with excitement. The best part is, we are doing this as a family.

orange fruit tree
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I also have learned that I need patience. I have to learn that this will take time and to try not to rush it all. I need to step back and enjoy the process and enjoy what we are learning. This blog will keep you updated with it all! The trials, triumphs, tears, laughter (lots and lots of laughter), and joys! Welcome to our journey!

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