Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Water Park Fun August 31, 2012

Filed under: ramblings,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 9:44 pm

Had a fun day out yesterday with the kids. Picked up my eldest daughter & the grandsons to take with us to the park. We chose one close to their home that has a huge play ground for the kids to climb around on. After a time, we went to another area of that park to their water park. It is a fenced area that has fountains, sprinklers, and those fun buckets on a pole. The kids all loved it. The day was very warm and the water felt wonderful. One of the funniest times was when the older kids got caught under the buckets. The buckets are on tall poles. Water fills the buckets and they tip over, spilling the water onto whoever happens to be under them at that time. The water system is on a timer. After the set amount of time, the water shuts off and the kids have to restart it by placing their hand over a sensor.

Pookie was uncertain of the spraying water at first. It was something completely new to him, so that was to be expected. While the older kids were playing in one part of the area, I took Pookie to a more quiet one. A water sprinkler there was trickling water out softly and he timidly stuck his hand under the water. Not long after that, he was laughing as he continued to play in the water.

Sunday, we are going to take the kids again. It will be fun to take Daddy and also their Aunt Edie along with us. Little Miss has already decided that she wants Daddy to put a small water park in the yard for them. LOL Guess that will be a tall order. I hope that a hose and sprinkler will be sufficient.


Blog Spammers August 27, 2012

Filed under: ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 10:12 pm

It is really comical to read some of the spam comments that I receive.  Everything from being chastised to read my comments more often, to write blogs on topics that would actually be found interesting to others, and appreciative comments that have absolutely nothing to do with the blog post they are supposedly commenting on.  The funniest part is that they ALL are coming from the same or very similar sources.  All are from someone trying to sell a product or service.

This is exactly why I moderate the comments.  I especially do not want the trashy content in my comments for any to ready.


Joy to a Momma’s Heart

Filed under: cooking,homeschool,old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 5:54 am

We have taken 3 weeks off from homeschooling to both have a break and to give me time to prepare for the next term.  The kids had their vacation at Aunt Edie’s home while I went out on the truck with Joe.  Now we are preparing to get back to doing lessons Labor Day.

While working on the next term’s thematic units, our daughter has been asking when we will get started.  She is ready to do the lessons.  She also has asked for the afternoon tea to resume. Over the summer it was too hot for enjoying hot tea and baking the sweets to go with it.

Now, autumn is nearing and the temperatures are beginning to become cooler.  Today, I am going to surprise her with our first afternoon tea of the season.  She will be helping me to do some baking.  She will be excited when we get out the tea kettle.  I love having tea with her.  She is such fun to be with.  I know how fast these years will pass by, so I am enjoying it. 


Reallocating the Family Technology August 24, 2012

Filed under: green living,off grid — ourprairiehome @ 5:34 pm

It is funny how technology needs changes within a family. My dear husband loves technology and gadgets. How he ended up with a wife who can do without most gadgets is still a mystery. Nearly a year ago. I finally relented and got an android phone. Oh boy. For the first month I had it, I was threatening to toss it down the loo. Then, I began feeling more comfortable with it and gave it a chance.

We live in a very rural area where cell phone service is extremely limited. You not only have to stick with certain companies, but you also have to memorize where on the property or in the house you get the best signal. I ended up having 2 cell phones. The android with one prepay company and my old reliable prepay phone from another company. The android phone worked great for Internet and texting purposes, but constantly dropped calls if I tried to talk to my husband or anyone else. Didn’t matter if I was in a “signal hot spot” on the homestead or not. It was irritating at the very least. So, I kept the old phone to use as my “talking” phone and the android for the texting and Internet. It was a pain, but you do what you have too.

This week, my darling husband made a suggestion. We are going to go back to having a phone line hooked up in the house. This will give me reliable phone service at home. The old cell phone (which has the best plan for our purposes) will stay activated so that I can make long distance calls and have a phone when away from home. The android phone is now going to serve as my digital camera since it takes better pictures than my older phone. To give me Internet access, Joe is going to leave his prepay WiFi unit at the house. It doesn’t get a strong signal, but it gets enough to serve my needs. Joe finds free WiFi quite often when out on the truck. Some towns have it available, as well as some rest areas and small truck stops. It will be interesting to see if he can go without having the WiFi on the truck.

We are hoping that this works out. It will save me an extra trip to town to use the library’s free WiFi service. The closest WiFi hot spot is 10 miles from home. It will be nice to not have to go that far to take care of Internet needs. Being that we are homeschooling, we see the necessity for Internet at the house. I have used the WiFi device here at the homestead whenever Joe is home and it works good for what I need it for. It will especially be nice once the weather gets cold later on in the winter.


Reconnecting Time August 16, 2012

Filed under: ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 7:43 pm

I have been loving the time with my beloved on the truck. It feels so much like when we first were together as a trucking team. Only difference this time around is that I am not doing any of the driving. The schedule is crazy. Some days we were shut down at a decent time of night while others, we are catching up on sleep during the day while waiting on the trailer to be loaded or unloaded. Of course, beloved handles the craziness better than I do. It sure makes me feel my age! But, in spite of the strange hours, I love this.

We have had many discussions about us, the kids, homeschooling, and much more. That is one of the things that I love about my husband. We actually talk about the things that are important to us. It doesn’t matter if the topic is one of great interest to the other person. If one of us feels something is important to us, the other always makes it important enough to themself to listen attentively and take part. That showing of respect really makes the relationship much easier on both of us.

One of the topics that we are both interested in is the fact that those with classic autism are falling through the cracks in the system. We are both disheartened by the experiences that we have had with our son in regards to treatment. Literally each therapist that he has seen in the areas of occupational and speech have treated him as though he were higher functioning or an Aspie. In doing our own research online, it is staggering that the percentage of children on the autism spectrum that are Aspies or PDD-NOS make up 75% of the cases. So, it is understandable that most therapies would address them. In the effort to help these children/adults, they have inadvertently overlooked the more severe and low functioning form of the classic autism. How do I know this? It is rather easy to explain.

Whenever our son has been treated by a therapist, both during and after early intervention, they expected him to perform at a much higher level than he was cap[able of. One was insistent on him riding a tricycle, when the only interest he had in one was to have me turn it over so that he could spin the tires. When she forced him to sit on the tricycle, he was terrified and screaming. He had absolutely no ability to petal the tricycle and would not touch the handlebars. She kept saying that boys his age love riding tricycles and that he should also. What??? Another time, she wanted him to do a “pots & pan band” with us hitting the kitchen pots with a mixing spoon and walking in a circle. Uh, did she not realize that a child with sensory sensitivity to sound would freak out over that? The speech therapist did not much better. She demanded that our non-verbal son make the “g” sound for over 2 months of visits. She admitted that all of her patients were doing that and she wanted our son to do it also. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say, we stopped going to them. They had no idea of how to work with a child like our son. The speech therapist was not supportive of him learning to do sign language. It was her opinion that if he learned to sign, he would have no reason to start talking. That is ridiculous. The odds against him ever becoming verbal are staggering. Unlike Aspies who are able to become verbal and become quite good with speech, most with classic autism never become verbal. You much find other means to allow them to communicate. Our experiences, along with the stories of other families, shows us that there resources for classic autism are seriously lacking. This is an area where my husband and I are doing what we can to help educate others. Maybe, somewhere along the line the resources may become available.


On the Road August 15, 2012

Filed under: ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 3:41 am

This week I have been on the truck with my dear husband. The little ones are visiting their aunt for the week. It is so fun having some alone time with my beloved. The time for ourselves has been sorely needed. I was getting stressed over the past year or so and this is providing the break that I needed. I will be gone 7 days total.

Being out here, I see first hand how much of a difference the canning has made. We don’t have to eat out unless we choose to. There are plenty of meals on the truck already. The only thing we need to buy is milk for our breakfast cereal and occasionally a drink, such as beloved’s coffee or my juice. Other than that, we have all the food needed.

It feels strange to be on the truck again. Last time I was on the truck like this, I was still team driving with beloved. We left that job together when I was 6 months pregnant with Little Miss. Hard to imagine that was 6.5 years ago. In many ways it does not seem like it was that long ago. Yet, I look at the fact I have 2 little ones, ages 4 and 6, and I guess I had simply not realized how much time has passed.

I am enjoying the time with beloved, but also am looking forward to being home again. I have been doing a bit of computer work, looking up curriculum and other homeschool resources. Now that I am getting the curriculum together, I am looking toward getting started.


Homemade “Instant” Oatmeal August 3, 2012

Filed under: cooking,pantry building,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 5:02 pm

I know it seems early to even think about hot cereals, but I wanted to share another family favorite. This doesn’t require any real recipe to make, but is a fun project with the kids.

We start out with a carton of the old fashioned rolled oats. We have found that the “quick” oats takes slightly less water & time to prepare, but is not as hearty. On the table, I lay out a variety of dried fruits, finely chopped nuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar. We measure 3/4 cup of the rolled oats into sandwich baggies. To this, each person begins adding their favorite additions. Some like a spoon of brown sugar with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few raisins. Another may want the pecans also. We customize the oatmeal baggies to each person’s tastes. Each person has a container to store their oatmeal in. Come morning, the tea kettle of water is on the stove. We treat this oatmeal exactly as though it were the store bought instant oats. The only difference is that it takes slightly more water.

My husband loves to take these on the truck. I fill a gallon sized container with the baggies of oatmeal. He is able to heat water in his lunchbox cooker, then add the oatmeal to it. Another option he has is to pour the oatmeal into a wide-mouth thermos like those used for soups & stews. Add the hot water and stir. He places the lid on the thermos and has oatmeal ready to eat when he gets to his next stop.

This got me to thinking about kids in college dorms. If they have access to hot water, then they can save a lot of money making these oatmeal pouches themselves. Unlike the store bought version, these won’t be made up mainly of oat powder (have you looked inside those packets?) and will be far more filling on a cold morning.



Canning Tomato Soup & “Baked Beans”

Filed under: food preservation,home canning,pantry building — ourprairiehome @ 5:02 pm

Here are 2 of my husband’s favorite meals to take out on the truck. They are really easy to make. Enjoy!

Cream of Tomato Soup

1 cup butter
8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 of a small onion, finely minced
4 bottles or cans of Tomato juice
1-1/2 cups of flour
1-1/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Saute’ onion in the butter until translucent. Combine flour, sugar, salt & pepper. Add to the butter mixture and cook gently until bubbly. Use a wire wisp to make sure there are no lumps. You may need to add a bit of the tomato juice to get a smooth mixture. Remove from heat and gradually mix in the remaining tomato juice. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Ladle soup into pint jars, adding the lids and rings. Process by waterbath for 1 hour. NOTE: Be sure the temperature of the water is near that of the soup or the jars will shatter in your canner.

Yield: about 12 pints.

“Baked Beans”

2 pounds of dried navy beans, rinsed and sorted

In a dutch oven, cover beans with water and let boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let soak for an hour. Drain and rinse the beans. Cover with water again and bring to a boil. I then cook the beans until they are 3/4 way cooked. Drain and rinse. Fill pint jars about 2/3’s full of the beans. Set aside.

Sauce for the beans:

4 cups of water
1/2 cup molasses
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Mix all ingredients into a saucepan and heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Ladle over the beans so that the sauce reaches the bottom of the jar neck (1/2 inch headspace). Wipe off rims and add the lid/ring assembly.

Process in a pressure canner 65 minutes for pints, and 75 minutes for quarts.

***I often will brown ground beef and add this to the jars for my husband. Another option is to add 2-3 of the “Lil Smokies” sausages to each pint jar.

Yields: 9 pints without meat, 11 pints with meat.