December 18, 2014

The HomeAcre Christmas Hop - #100!


 
 

Welcome to the HomeAcre Christmas Hop!

We're celebrating a milestone today: the 100th HomeAcre Blog Hop! And because it's the week before Christmas, we're looking forward to your holiday and seasonal posts as well as homemaking, homesteading, and homeschooling topics.

We'll be taking next Thursday off since it'll be Christmas Day, but we'll be back the following week on New Year's Day.

December 17, 2014

10 Gifts for the Homestead Woman

What do you get for the woman who lives a simple life? The trick is to find something practical and perfect, right? Of course you can always fall back on chocolate, which has a lot of value in my opinion.


My adult children ask me every year what I'd like as a Christmas gift. I usually wrack my brain and can't think of anything at all, or else I come up with items that my children think are too plain, too common, too useful.

Here are ten practical gifts that are winners in my book. Some links are affiliate links, but they are products I use myself and love. Your use of affiliate links is always appreciated, but if you prefer not to use them I certainly understand. Affiliate links are identified as such.




1. How about a pressure canner? Water bath canners are often the first step a person takes into the world of food preservation, but you can only can high-acid foods such as fruits and tomatoes. (I know, tomatoes are fruits!) Preserving vegetables and meats, and combinations of foods such as soups and salsa, require the use of a pressure canner. This Presto 23-quart pressure canner is the one I use. (affiliate link)

 
2. The Ball Blue Book of Preserving is the perfect companion to a pressure cooker - or to a water bath canner too. (affiliate link)


3. A new (and sharp!) pair of hoof trimmers for your goats or sheep. I use these from Ace Hardware (now discontinued), but there are several styles and kinds available at Hoegger and Jeffers.

 

4. I've collected my own set of tools over the years. There are many different sets of pink-handled tools marketed for women and available at your local hardware store or big box store, but buy the best quality you can afford. Pink handles wouldn't deter my husband from using them although it would help to identify them as mine. The whole reason I have my own is so I can find them when I need them. One tool or a set of them would make a fine gift.

5. I'm constantly losing my work gloves - or else the dog steals them. I can always use a new pair because I usually can only find one glove at a time. You can find women's work gloves at hardware and feed stores, as well as at amazon.com.

6. A new pocketknife or leatherman tool. (affiliate link)

7. I've finally worn out my pair of flannel-lined jeans from LL Bean, a great way to stay warm in the winter. They were well worth the purchase price and I plan to replace mine.

8. A subscription to the Seeds of the Month club from Mary's Heirloom Seeds. Mary has signed the Safe Seed Pledge and sells only open-pollinated, non-GMO heirloom seeds. Wouldn't it be fun to receive several packets of seeds each month?

9. An apple peeler/corer (affiliate link). I bought mine at my local hardware store, which has a pretty large selection of housewares. A word of warning: this works best on nice round apples. It's a bit trickier to use the peeler on our own smaller, rather misshapen (but organic) fruit, but it's still better than trying to peel all those apples by hand. The peeler works on potatoes too.

10. A gift certificate to the local feed store would be a welcome surprise for anyone with livestock.

Heifer International: Pass on the Gift

Bonus Idea: Consider giving the gift of a goat or a flock of chicks to a family in need through Heifer International. "Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood."

What's your idea of a perfect homestead gift? I hope you'll leave a comment and share with us a gift you'd love to receive.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

December 16, 2014

A Slice of My Life





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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

December 15, 2014

How to Make Pie Crust

I've never enjoyed using a pastry cutter. I guess I just don't have the patience to work butter or other fat into flour. Add using a rolling pin to that and you'll know why it took years for me to make my own pie crusts. It was just so easy to buy one from the freezer case at the store, all ready to fill and bake.



Nowadays I think it's worth the work to make a flaky, much tastier crust with healthier ingredients. I've found a few tricks along the way - the most important one is to read the directions and actually follow them! Tip #2 is to keep the butter really cold. Tip #3 is to use ice water - water that you've chilled with ice cubes, not just cold water out of the faucet. You might even need to refrigerate the dough for while before rolling it, so patience is my tip #4.

But my best tip for you today is to use your food processor. It's so much easier than using a pastry cutter, or two knives, or a fork to mix the fat into the flour.

You can use your favorite pie crust recipe; the recipe I use for a one-crust pie calls for:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and sliced into pieces
4-5 Tbsp ice water



Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse it a few times to mix the two well.

Take the butter out of the refrigerator and add it to the food processor. Mix until it forms coarse crumbs.

 

Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until a smooth ball of dough forms. You might need just 4 tablespoons; you might need a little more.

At this point, I put the dough into a bowl and refrigerate it while I make another crust or two so it can chill while I'm working. For Thanksgiving I made a cherry pie and two pumpkin pies, plus the crust for a turkey pie to be made with the Thanksgiving leftovers, for a total of five crusts (the cherry pie uses two crusts). If my food processor could handle it, I'd double the recipe to make two crusts at a time, but that's not an option for me.



Then use the coldest ball of dough, roll it out and move it into the pie pan. Back into the refrigerator they go while I make the filling. And you know what to do from there, right?


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

December 14, 2014

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- celebrating hubby's birthday
- spending the day with our son and his fiancée
- our veterinarian
- my old Bible
- being held by the Hope of the world
Silver Sunday

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”



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December 12, 2014

Friday Follow-Up



This week I made a gardening discovery. I've never tried to grow a winter garden; it gets too cold here. This year I tried a fall garden but nothing sprouted, and secretly I was kind of glad because I was ready for a break.

We had a sunny, semi-warm day this week, so I spent it cleaning up the garden. I pulled the dead plants that still remained, pulled up the stakes I'd used to tie up the peppers, and coiled up the hose. The Bermuda grass had grown so tall in the late summer and fall that it really needs to be mowed down before I cover it with spoiled hay for the winter. Then I spotted an onion plant in the grass! You might remember that the grasshoppers had eaten the tops of my onions and I had to leave many of them because I couldn't find them to harvest them. Now that the weather is cooler, and they've been protected by the thick Bermuda grass, they have begun to grow again. I pulled a dozen small onion plants, too small to use except as green onions, and replanted them in a tub near the herb garden and covered them with hay.



I also found one little spinach plant growing where I planted the fall garden. I left that one for now. I might try transplanting it as well.

On the next warm-ish day I'll cover the garden with a thick layer of used bedding from the goat shed mixed with aged horse manure, and maybe top that with the spoiled hay. Next year I'm planning to use the deep mulch method of gardening to hopefully keep the weeds down, and to keep my garden soil moist and cool in our too-hot summer.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email
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