Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Puppy Hospital....

Dearest Readers,


Oh Dear!  Yesterday our sweet, sweet dog...Shiloh Marie, was injured in an accident. She was run over right here on our road and sustained pretty serious injuries, so we had to take her to the 24 hour Veterinary Hospital.  You can bet I had to reach for a tissue as we left our Dear Dog in their capable hands to perform surgery.


She is home now and we have her tucked safely inside our Mud Room/Puppy Hospital.  It is located right off of our back parlour so we can keep a very close eye on her.  (When we designed our Mud Room we kept in mind all the times we have needed a safe and easy-to-clean room for any injured critter that might need our assistance...I am so grateful for this room today.)


We were sent home with a plethora of pills and instructions to help her on the road to recovery.  I stopped at the store and picked-up a few supplies including a very large chew bone....hoping she will lick it instead of her wounds.  She did eat and drink and use the "facilities", which is encouraging, she even let us put an ice pack on her very swollen leg.  Right now, she is just dozing off and on...snoring and kind of whimpering.....sigh.


She is such a love...all 87 pounds of her. She is a "mutt", but to us she is a noble as any purebred dog.  What a faithful companion she has been these 9 years, keeping watch and making sure all is well here on our farm.


We love her so.


Yours tenderly and kindredly,


Shan




 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Around the Homestead.....

Dearest Readers,


It is quite on the cool side here at our little farm....a perfect day for working out of doors on this and that.  We have been much occupied with a number of small projects around the homestead.....


Dearest and our Oldest Darling Boy put in two small watering systems - one for the fruit trees and one for the wee flower bed near the chicken house.  Dearest also made a very lovely wood arch to go over the gateway to the chicken yard.  I still need to paint it (he builds, I paint) and I will be sure to post a picture...



We have planted a multitude of seeds in the flower garden beds and are kept busy making sure that they stay well watered until they become established.  A few of the favorites are...Morning Glories, Four-O-clocks, Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia, Sunflowers, Sweet Peas and Blue Flax.  This year I am trying Dahlias for the first time. The are a lovely mix of pinks and mauves and are partly shade tolerant so they should do well in my yard. 


I have some repair work to do on our outside umbrella as there were quite a few holes that revealed themselves once we opened it up this season.  I suspect we had a mouse in our storage area and it decided to use our umbrella for its nest....aaarrgghhh.  We looked at replacing this umbrella, but it is a very large market style and the price of a new one was, well, quite shockingly high.  While I have the paint out today, I am going to finish up painting a few little picket fences that we want to put in front of a small flower bed.


I think I will spent the rest of my day puttering about inside my dear old home....I am still re-arranging a few antiques and collectibles to celebrate the change of seasons. I want to take out my Flag and make sure it is pressed and ready to fly on Memorial Day.


Everyone seems to be out and about today here at Honey Hill so I am planning a simple supper of BBQ Ribs (from the crockpot) & Sweet Potato Oven Fries.  I can dish up dinner at a moment's notice....easy peasy, lemon squeezy!


And before I forget to mention it, I want to tell you about a giveaway over at Nadine's Nook.  You won't believe the darling goodies that she is offering....please stop by and visit.


So Dear Readers, I will say farewell and head out the back door...


Yours kindredly,


Shan


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blue & White Dishes....

Dearest Readers,


I dearly love blue and white dishes!  I have rescued many a dish from a life of loneliness as it sat neglected because of a chip or crack...they all are beautifully imperfect to me!


One of my favorite pastimes is to rearrange my dear dishes and create charming vignettes....  Oh yes, and shopping here in my own home makes this a very affordable pleasure!


I know I have succeeded in creating a whole new atmosphere in a room when Dearest enters and says: "Have we moved?"


Right now, here at Honey Hill Farm, I have changed out my heavy drapes and portieres for lace and greenery.  It is so refreshing to have a lighter feel to the house for this new season. 


It will be wonderful to put back all the velvet and heavy damask when fall returns and I want to make things cozy!



Well Dear Readers, I must get ready to go out to the Market....we are woefully low on milk and a myriad of other sundries.  I may have to stop by the thrift store on my way....you never know when a blue & white dish will need to be rescued!  It is truly a mission of mercy!


Yours kindredly,


Shan


P.S.  If you have any lovely pictures of blue & white dishes on your blog, please leave a link in the comments of this post....I would love to pay a house call!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Morning Sunshine....

Good Morning Dear Readers,


The Love from Above sent down the loveliest of sunshine upon Honey Hill Farm this morning....simply wonderful.


 









 Yours so kindredly,


Shan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Joyfully Blessed.....

Dearest  Readers,


What a lovely Mother's Day here at Honey Hill Farm! I was joyfully blessed to be surrounded by my family who bestowed upon me an abundance of beautiful treasures.


The above miniature rose bush awaited me at my place at the breakfast table on Mother's Day morning.  Followed by the splendid delights below.....


A drawstring bag from 1910 (you should feel how heavy it is!), old safety pins to add to my sewing collectibles and the lovely little gift tag (made by my Darling Girl) that held sweet Mother's Day sentiments.


After ooohhing and aahhhhing my Dearest and the Darlings said they had one more gift ....


They had ordered an Heirloom Edition of "The Riches and Treasures of Home".  Oh my, Dear Reader, I had longed for a copy of this stunning book for quite awhile and I can hardly wait for the Postman each day, as I look forward to reading it from cover to cover.


Between the loveliness of being together and the sweet and very thoughtful gifts, I counted my blessings through misty eyes.


What a joyful, joyful day!


Shan



Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to You........


Dearest Reader,


Just a gentle wish to extend to you a very blessed Mother's Day.


Yours kindredly,


Shan

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keeping Two Houses......

Dearest Readers,


It has begun.....the keeping of two houses....our homes and our gardens.  This delightful season of planting, weeding and watering is upon us here at Honey Hill Farm. I know that some of you who read this blog have been gardening for several weeks now, but here in the foothills we wait until Mother's Day before we plant.


Of course, we still must tend to our homes and our precious families. So we find time to bake bread, hang laundry and wash dishes in between trips to the garden and the compost pile!  It keeps us busy as bees....but we are happy bees here on our little homestead.


I always ask for annual bedding plants for Mother's Day as I like to use annuals in my hanging baskets and pots for my front porch and use perennials (that I start myself) everywhere else. So the next few days will be spent cutting back , dividing and transplanting perennials and potting and arranging my annuals.  I so enjoy flowers, that I can spend an entire day just humming along with my spade and shovel in hand.


Tomorrow we will clean out the garden beds and begin to plant our vegetables and herbs.  Dearest built a cold frame and we are using it to start some seeds....we got a late start so we might not get too much use out of it before fall. We have never used a cold frame so we expect quite a bit of trial and error.


So here we are, gently tending to both our houses.....aren't we blessed!  How wonderful to have the pleasure of a beautiful day...sunshine through lace curtains and the sound of the wind blowing gently through the trees. 


It isn't always easy to balance the inside and the outside needs of the home and garden, but I find if I keep a gentle attitude and let myself rest a little between each task, I have a happy and simple day.  Not everything will be accomplished, but I can rest each night knowing that I did all that I could and still took time to smile and enjoy those around me.


I will post pictures of our garden and yard as soon as things get a little further along....


Yours so very kindredly,


Shan

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Providing from Your Pantry.....Part 5


Dearest Readers,


I thought that I would share a little bit about storage in this last post of the series......


Nothing is more defeating to a Homekeeper than to have a poor strategy for storing her groceries and essentials once she arrives back home.  If the shelves, cupboards, fridge and freezer are a jumble of messiness then all the hard work of researching recipes, inventory and shopping with thrift are an exercise in frustration.


Here at Honey Hill Farm, I have several places to store items.  Each item has a proper place and is stored in the same space each time.


Here is my walk-in pantry off of the kitchen.....


This lovely little area holds all my baking needs, pastas, lentils, home canned goods, bread box, crackers, honey & my tea basket. As each item is tucked away it is carefully recorded on my Pantry/Freezer Masterlist.


The fridge has a lower pull-out freezer compartment (with ice maker) and I store my butter, orange juice (concentrate), my chocolate chips, nuts and 1 loaf of extra bread.


I have designated spaces inside the fridge and try to put items in the same place each time....although sometimes I will have to rearrange things if I am hosting a large gathering and have an abundance of groceries.


Items in cans and bottles like tuna, ketchup, peanut butter and the like are kept in the fruit cellar on wooden shelves.  I keep the oldest towards the front and always "face" the cans so I can see at a moments notice what I am in need of from the market.


I have a deep freeze and use three Rubbermaid baskets set on the bottom.  In each of those I have large (10 gallon) Ziploc bags that are labeled: beef, chicken, pork & turkey.  Inside these I put my smaller bags of corresponding meat.  This was a tip (along with many, many others that I found on Brenda's blog: Coffee, Tea, Books and Me. Her blog has numerous links to help you with stocking your pantry, please pay her a visit.


The freezer came with small sliding baskets that sit above the Rubbermaid baskets.  I keep my shredded cheese (already divided into small bags) , frozen veggies , ice cream and frozen desserts, along with extra bread in them.  It keeps the smaller items from ending up on the bottom of the deep freeze.


I keep a pair of winter gloves with those little "grips" on them next to the freezer...


On the other end of the fruit cellar I have some very large shelves where I keep all my extra T.P., dish soap, soap making supplies, etc. I have all of my canning equipment and cake decorating equipment there too.  It is all tucked away behind a pretty curtain hung on a tension rod. 


I keep a small supply of T.P., soap, toothpaste and such in both of our bathrooms and just replenish when needed as our bathrooms don't have much storage.


I find that if I keep everything neat and organized it helps the house run smoothly.  It will take time if you are just getting yourself organized, but it will be well worth the effort.  You will find yourself opening cupboards and doors just to gaze at the lovely rows of neatly stacked groceries....amazed at the Provision and proud of your Stewardship.


I so hope that I have been able to help you in some small way Dear Reader.  I just love Homekeeping and find that it is forever on my heart to share what works for me here at Honey Hill Farm.  I am always learning myself and it is a joy to find better and easier and more beautiful ways to keep my home.  I never realized that my true delight in tending my home and family could be considered a ministry.....but I do believe that helping others to find their Homekeeping spirit is a worthwhile endeavor. 


Well now, it is getting late and my robe and slippers are calling out to me....so I will say goodnight Dear Reader.


Yours so truly,


Shan



Monday, May 4, 2009

Providing from Your Pantry.....Part 4

Dearest Readers,

Well, you have looked in the far reaches of every cupboard, shelf and drawer, not to mention your fridge and freezer and now you know for certain those items you have in abundance and those items you will need to re-stock in order to keep your pantry in shape to provide your family with wholesome, delicious and frugal meals.

Now it is time to pull everything together so that you may shop at the Market with confidence and thrift....here are the tools that I use....



I use my Menu board (click for a link to a post with instructions on how to make one), my Winter Menu & the corresponding meal cards, the Market Day Masterlist and my Pantry/Freezer Masterlist and my ever faithful Vis-a-Vis marker. I also have a stash of coupons and the local ads for my favorite Market(s).

First, I look at my local ads and my stash of coupons to get an idea of what is on sale this week and what sale items I can combine with my coupons for maximum savings. 

Next, I scour my Pantry/Freezer Masterlist to remind myself of the stock I currently have on hand. (I keep my Pantry/Freezer list in a protective sheet cover and use a wipe off maker to record the "comings and goings" of my inventory...easy peasy!)



With all of those facts in mind I start planning my menu on my Menu Board, keeping in mind activities planned during the upcoming weeks.



Above you can see the start of menu planning....you can plan a week or a month at a time.  It will depend on how deep your current Pantry is and how much you plan to spend on your groceries.

Note that I plan for a "Lazy Leftover" night and try and have meals that are either crockpot or casserole type meals for the busy weekends. You will be less likely to "order out" if you have a very simple meal to prepare....soup & sandwiches are much less expensive than a pizza!

I check off the meals (the protective sheet cover and marker come to my assistance once again!) to make sure I keep variety in my planning.



Here...as they say, is "where the rubber meets the road"! This is when you make decisions that keep you within your budget and help you build your Pantry at the same time.

Now is the time I can decide if it would be best to "shop" in my freezer for the chicken (bought on sale, of course) I need, or would it be prudent to stock-up on the beef that is on sale at the Market? Perhaps I will serve more meatless dishes and continue to stock-up on meat for later in the year when I know money will be tight?

Now is the time I choose what Veggies & Fruits I will serve with each meal.  Will they be fresh ( I only buy on sale and in season), or would the frozen or canned items I have stored be a more appropriate choice?

Maybe I will only purchase the perishables I need this week and I will save the rest of my Market Day Budget to use later in the month when the store runs its big Memorial Day sale!  

What freedom and frugality a well-stocked, well-ordered Pantry provides!

Any surplus money at the end of each month can be devoted to:

re-stocking depleted inventory

deepening & widening variety of inventory

upcoming events, i.e. BBQ's, Picnics

canning/freezing supplies

In time you will notice a pattern and gentle rhythm to your Pantry.  You will see trends at the Market and can anticipate when certain items routinely go on sale.  It will become easier and less complicated to keep your Pantry stocked and inventoried when it becomes part of your homekeeping routine. 

What a daily comfort it will be Dear Reader, when you can shop right there at home!  How utterly calm you will be during times of sickness or crisis when you know that you still can provide your family with a delicious and thrifty meal. 

And go ahead and smile when your dear Husband sweetly remarks that he just doesn't know how you do it! How can you put together such lovely meals, stay on budget and stock a Pantry?  Your whole household will be much happier....trust me.

So Dear Reader, put on your coat and gloves, grab your coupons and your Market Day Masterlist and head out to the store.  You will find a sense of confidence as you purposefully go about your shopping.  You are indeed a good steward of the blessings that God has provided for you!

        You are Providing Meals from Your Pantry!

I will be back on Wednesday with some tips on storing all your lovely Pantry goods.

Yours so kindredly,

Shan



Friday, May 1, 2009

Providing from Your Pantry.....Part 3

 



Dearest Readers,


Well....are you still with me?  I am sure you are worn-out thinking about 31 days worth of food....from breakfast until bedtime we seem to be feeding our families.  Now that you have it on paper, it should make it so much easier to begin Providing Meals from Your Pantry!


But wait....hmmm....is that Pumpkin Pie Spice in your cupboard?  It's not on your list, but you do need it for baking during the Holiday season.  How about that frozen cheesecake?  What about the 48 rolls of T.P. down in the basement? 


Ah Ha!  Dear Reader, we are headed to the MOST important part of our journey.......your current PANTRY INVENTORY.   Yikes! You run extremely fast Dear Reader!  Please turn around and join me, won't you?


PANTRY INVENTORY.  Two words that can send shivers down the most intrepid Homekeeper's spine.  It is the time spent looking in each cupboard, sideboard, fridge and freezer that enables each of us to look well into the ways of our households.



The easiest way to go about tracking your inventory is to make yourself a copy of your current "MarketDay Masterlist" and re-label it "Pantry Masterlist" (I even go so far as to print my on blue paper, so I don't confuse the two). 


You already have about 95 percent of the items you routinely stock on your list...now you will want to track how much of each you have on hand.  For instance, I have Chicken___ on my list.  After looking in my freezer I have 3 meal size (according to my family's needs) servings of Chicken so I am going to write 3 in the little space.  You might want to keep track of things by the pound or how many of each item...you decide what works for you.


When you come to....and believe me, you will come to items that are not on your list, just put them down on a piece of paper and later, when you stop for tea, add them onto your list (don't forget to record the quantity). 


This is the perfect time to check expiration dates and decide if the item should be kept on hand.  I found a spice jar in the back of my cupboard that is so old that the jar has become a collectible item! I don't know about you, but the old adage of "out of sight, out of mind" is never more true than when it comes to food and household goods.


Why is it that I always have enough T.P. to last until the end of time, but run out of Peanut Butter regularly?  INVENTORY!  Keeping track of what we have and what we need are two of the most important things we can do to keep our budget and homes in order. 


So Dear Reader, I will leave you until Monday, when once again, we will take another step in Providing Meals from your Pantry! I promise that at some point you actually will go to the Market......honestly.


Yours kindredly,


Shan


P.S.  Just a reminder.....if you should find that you have 12 cans of salmon on hand that no one will eat, please remember the food banks and shelters.  Need knows no season.