Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

I’m Baaack! September 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 1:36 am
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So long since my last post. We have gone through more changes. Hubby is back to OTR trucking. He needed to make the change as the local job was paying less than we needed.  When he started to local job, he had overtime each week that doubled his pay. Then, about 8 months ago, the overtime stopped. Our pay was half what we were getting. He tried getting a job with the oil/gas fields but they were not hiring.  So, the decision to go back over the road was a necessity.

It has been an adjustment. Luckily we have done this routine before so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. The kids took a bit of adjusting and have been dealing with missing their Daddy, but we are working through it.

I have been without internet up until recently when I bought a smart phone. My app phone was just too outdated to use for internet.  I now have the app for posting blogs, so am planning to be better about doing so.  I also am going to be getting a phone line for the house and dial-up internet soon.

We have been blessed with a local church youth group coming twice a month to trim trees and do yardwork for me.  That has taken a load off my chores list.  I am now planning out the autumn/winter projects for the seasons.

The kids and I were able to take a week long vacation to visit friends. It was a bit of a trial run for us. Little Man doesn’t travel long distances very well and has anxieties when in new locations. This was a good opportunity to get him a little more exposure to the idea.

We are looking at getting a puppy sometime in the next few months. The pup will begin to be trained and socialized immediately to start laying the ground work for him to become a service dog for Little Man.  It takes about 2-3 years to fully train the dog from puppy training through any specialized training needed.  As soon as we get the dog, we will begin the process of taking the dog everywhere we go that he can go with us.  Once he completes the Good K9 test successfully, he will be able to go everywhere as a service dog in training. 


Recipe Organizing Ahead December 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 6:56 am
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Can you tell that I am getting on another organizing binge?  Lord help me,  I swear that every time I think I am doing good at this, I find another area of my life that is in need of reorganizing.  It never seems to end.  This time around, it is my recipe collection. What a mess! I have been jotting down old recipes for years in various notebooks, scraps of paper, and recipe cards. Now, I am finding that it is becoming hard to locate a recipe when I need it. Guess it is time to take time to properly organize the collection. I am looking at a variety of ways to preserve the recipes. A simple recipe card file or maybe a binder are two of the options. All I know is that I want the recipes in a central location. I don’t want to have to remember which notebook I write a particular recipe in.

I have enough recipes that I easily fill up several spiral notebooks. For the immediate solution, I could take the pages out of the notebooks and place the recipes by category into a binder. That would work for some of the collection. I also have the recipes written on scraps of paper and index cards to get organized.

I have used the recipe card files before but my collection could easily fill several of them. I am not a huge fan of the index card method though. My biggest fear is the thought of someone dropping the file and all the cards scattering. The thought of having to retrieve and refile all those recipes gives me the shudders.

My recipe collection is more than just the ones I make for meals. I also have recipes for homemade mixes and seasoning blends. Then, there are the recipes for home canning which includes recipes for everything from condiments to meals in a jar. Other categories of recipes which I have include my home remedies, homemade cleaners, massage oils and lotions, tinctures and infusions, and aromatherapy blends.

With this recipe collection, I can already see that I will need at least two large binders if I go that route. One binder for the food type recipes and the other for remedies and all non-food related recipes. It is going to be a large undertaking. I didn’t realize how large my collection was until I tried to find a recipe recently. I spent way too much time trying to find it.

Something that I am finding out about myself is that I am a recipe hoarder.  I save every recipe that looks yummy or peaks my interest.  I have 2 years worth of Vegetarian Times magazines which are filled with nothing but more recipes.  Let’s not forget the plethora of recipes that I have found on the internet or in the cookbooks that I seem to have a hard time passing up at yard sales.

In reality though, I have two basic cooking styles: warm weather and cold weather.  In the warm months, we eat much lighter meals.  It is too hot to be making stews or casseroles.  Instead, we eat a lot of salads or foods that are grilled outdoors.  One of our mainstays in warm months are grilled vegetables.  By contrast, in the cold months, I make more soups, stews, and casseroles.  I got to thinking about all of this and faced a truth.  I could easily glean my recipes down to about 45 entrees, a variety of side dishes, and a few favorite desserts for each of the two cooking styles.  This would considerably but down the recipe collection.  I would start with the basics that we eat on a regular basis.  Next, add a few more recipes that we enjoy less frequently.  In thinking about it, I could easily set up two separate recipe binders.  One binder of recipes for the cold months and the other for the warm weather recipes.  My non-food recipes could go into their own binder, as could my health & beauty recipes with includes my home remedies.   I may even add one just for my canning recipes and homemade mixes.  That means that I am looking at setting up at least 5 binders!  Yikes!!!!!

I wonder if their is a recipe collectors anonymous with a 12-step program I should be looking into.  LOL


Common Sense Diet December 18, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,simplicity,Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 8:19 am
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It seems lately that I keep seeing posts on the social networks about one diet or another.  Fad diets have always been around.  I have found though that if you follow common sense, many diet issues can be avoided.

I come from a family with a history of health problems.  My mother’s parents were both diabetic.  Common sense would dictate that I limit sweets and the foods that cause diabetics’ blood sugar levels to rise too much.  On both sides of the family there are problems with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.   Just as with the diabetic history, it is wise to moderate the amount of food that I eat that is known to affect blood pressure and cholesterol.

I began to really pay closer attention to the foods that I ate back in 2007.  Little Miss was approaching her first birthday and I was having a lot of chronic pain and mobility problems.  In fact, I was using a walker and when away from home used a wheelchair.  I did a lot of reading online to find natural means to address the problems.  I found that by eliminating processed foods, I was able to be pain-free and regain my mobility.  Fast forward a couple of years and I was dealing with high blood pressure.

Since that time, I have continued to make adjustments to my diet that has had great affect on my health.  My family has benefitted as well.  The first change was to eliminate as much processed and refined foods as possible.  the hardest to eliminate was foods containing high fructose corn syrup.  I was dismayed at how many foods contain it.  I remember hearing as a teen the idea that if you cannot pronounce or recognize the name of the ingredients in a food, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Next step was to identify the foods that contribute to high cholesterol.  In the simplest of terms, animal products are the culprits.  If I stayed away from the animal products, then I wouldn’t have to be quite as concerned about my cholesterol levels getting too high.  I found that it also had an affect on my blood pressure as well.

Today, my blood pressure has been under control and within the normal range for just over 3 years without taking any prescription medications.  For a time, I was taking garlic capsules as a natural cure for high blood pressure.  I also took cinnamon capsules to help control my blood sugar levels.  Though not diabetic, I do have problems with low blood sugar from time to time.

Overall, our family eats whole foods, cooked from scratch, and eat lean meats sparingly.  My husband, son, and I each have lactose intolerance in varying levels.  We avoid milk most of the time.  We use almond milk or a low-fat powdered milk to help reduce the lactose problems.  I also cook eggs only when necessary.  Instead of using eggs in my recipes, I substitute them with flax seed meal mixed in water.  A tablespoon of the ground flax seed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water equals one egg.

When using white potatoes, I peel, cut, and soak the potatoes in water overnight before using them.  The potato water is cloudy and often thickened from the starch in the potatoes soaking out of the potatoes.  This cuts done considerably on the amount of starch you eat.  The starch turns to sugar in your body.  For those with diabetes, this can cause a lot of problems.  We also use sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes quite often.  They are far better for you and do not have the starches that russet potatoes contain.

Our diet is based on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  For us, this is simply common sense.  I buy the basic ingredients and cook as much from scratch as possible.  We eat very little of the heavy sauces such as gravies.  I keep healthy snacks on hand.  We typically eat 5-6 times a day, including 3 light meals and 2-3 snacks.

For us, the way we eat make sense.  It isn’t following any specific diet but it works for us.  I am slowly losing weight.  Yes, I would love to lose it faster, but a slow weight loss will last longer.  The healthy eating habits we are developing will stick with us.  They will become a habit.  They will be a part of our daily lifestyle.  Eating smaller more frequent meals/snacks each day will help maintain energy levels throughout the entire day.  Come summer, when our garden is producing, the daily meals will include pickings from the garden each day.

Now, we eat very few packaged foods.  I find us eating them less and less as time goes by.  I also find that our grocery bill each month lowers even further with the whole food approach.


Pantry Basics – Homemade Mixes October 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 9:08 pm

I love the convenience of a quick to use mix. Problem is that most in the stores are either expensive if you use them often or have too much sodium and other ingredients that are not good for us.  My solution has been to simply make my own.

A family favorite is a pancake mix. I make it as we need it, but you can assemble the dry ingredients into a jar and label for later use. Just label with or have a recipe card handy with the liquid ingredients that need to be added later.

Pancake Mix

1.5 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.25 – 1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients into a smooth batter.  Dry fry on a hot griddle, flipping once.

Makes about 8 pancakes.

Vegan Substitutions – I use almond milk in place of cow milk and 2 Tbsp flax seed meal + 6 Tbsp warm water in place of eggs. Just mix the water and flax seed meal into a cup and let thicken a minute before mixing it into the batter.

Variations – The kids love it when I as a shredded zucchini with a bit of seasonings. I fry up small 3″ diameter rounds. They taste like zucchini bread.  Other favorite addition is fruit.  Recently, I had a bit of fried apples on hand. I chopped it up, added apple pie spice and the kids loved them as much as cookies.

Hot Chocolate Mix

This is a recipe that I make each year. Usually end up making two batches during the cold weather seasons.

25.6 oz. box of powdered milk
6 oz. powdered coffee creamer
4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups cocoa powder
1 lg box chocolate pudding mix

Mix well and place into a large container.  Use 2-3 Tbsp mix per cup, or to taste.  The addition of the pudding mix makes a big difference in the final product.

Variations – use flavored creamers instead of plain.  For a peppermint cocoa, finely crush peppermint candies and add to the mix, to taste.



Surprise! Life Changes September 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 7:18 pm

Life has a sense of humor. You can be going down your path then suddenly look around and realize that a change took place while you were unaware. That has happened to me.

I have been staying fairly busy. Tending to the home, family, homeschooling, therapies, they all require daily attention. So much so that I hadn’t noticed the changes going on until recently.

While taking stock of our pantry, specifically the paper goods area, I was brought sorry by the thought that I haven’t needed certain feminine products for a while. Checking my notes, I found that I haven’t needed then since March. I know that I am not pregnant, so it could only be that I have hit menopause. At age 50, it doesn’t surprise me.  What does surprise me is that I have not had any of the other symptoms that women speak of. No hot flashes or any of the other issues that are common, except for one…weight gain. It is as though someone flipped a switch and shut off that one area of my body’s function.

The weight gain bothers me.  I am blessed with a husband who years me like I am absolutely cherished by him. The weight gain doesn’t bother him. As long as my overall health is good, weight isn’t an issue to him.

For me, I am having trouble with it. I went through a 150 lb. weight loss years ago before he and I met. I look at myself now and cringe at the thought of gaining it all back. I am far from that weight, but the memories of that time are still there.

I have gotten away from eating a strictly vegetarian diet. Recently, my lactose intolerance has started bothering me again. So, I am going vegan. I an also cutting way back on carbs.

Now, instead of a sandwich on bread, I am making a lettuce wrap. I love it! I do still eat some carbs, such as tortillas, but am significantly limiting the frequency.

As soon as the weather has cooled enough, I will be starting to exercise more. Not using fans or an A/C unit to cool our home, I won’t exercise in the heat.

I hope to lose a reasonable amount of weight. No time frame to lose it in, just plan to lose it at a rate that will allow be to be healthy


Holiday Planning August 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 4:47 am

Stores are stocking school supplies in the isles next to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations. Guess it is time to start thinking ahead to the holiday season. Time to think about what decorations, handmade gifts, and special foods you are wanting to make.

I am searching for inspiration on Pinterest.  One very easy craft that our kids can do is to make bookmarks from old calendar pages.


Our daughter will especially enjoy making these.  I will start posting more craft related items soon.


Christmas, Already??? September 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 6:36 pm

Leave it to a kid. Today, we had a nice cool rainy day. Perfect for baking cookies. So, we got out the baking supplies and made up a batch of the Amish Sugar Cookies. These are a type that bake up all puffy and soft. Just right for a little girl who has a wiggly front tooth! As we were making the cookies, she sat there munching on one with her cup of tea. After a moment, she said, “Momma, it is getting cooler now. When can we start making Christmas cookies?” sigh

Last weekend, my darling husband was humming Christmas carols. Now, our daughter is wanting to start making Christmas cookies. Are they in a hurry or something? LOL I looked at the calendar and decided that maybe it is time to start planning the baking. I prefer to have all ingredients in the pantry well stocked before the baking commences. Nothing gets me riled more than having to make a quick trip to the over-priced little grocery store 10 miles from home to get a much needed ingredient at the last minute. Unfortunately, that store is the closest to home.

So, with that in mind, I am going through my recipes and making a list of things needed for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. All the recipes for the meals as well as the baked goods. From those, a master list of ingredients will be written up. I look at the amount of flour I will be using to do all this baking and realize it may be a good thing that I have that Sam’s Club card. They are the cheapest on the large bags of flour & sugar. I buy yeast there also. The yeast comes in a twin pack of (2) 1 pound packages of the dry active yeast. For our family, that is a 1 year supply of yeast. Thankfully, it only costs about $4.00 for the twin pack, a savings of $198.00 when compared to the same volume of yeast if I bought the little jars or packets at the grocery store as most people do. That one item’s savings is far more than the cost of our membership. But I digress.

As I go through the recipes, I am finding the old favorites as well as a couple of new ones that I would like to try. I have a family filled with “cookie monsters” who raid the cookies as fast as I can get them out of the oven. I keep forgetting each year to buy plastic containers to store the cookies and other baked goods in. Planning ahead now will give me the chance to get the containers and have them ready. I especially want to have a couple for Joe to take on the truck with him so that he can have baked goodies while he is gone.

Is anyone else beginning their holiday baking plans?