Nourishing Frugal Food!

Inspired by the recent rise in grocery costs, and our ever-present desire to cook whole, nourishing food for our families (and encourage you to do the same!), I will be collaborating with Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet to bring you a carnival that we are really excited about!

Actually, it was all Kimi’s brilliant idea… after expressing my discouragment over a recent grocery shopping trip where I found that many food prices had risen, yet again, she casually mentioned the idea of a carnival. I loved it, and immediately emailed her saying I thought we should do it, and to make a long story short, here we are, promoting the carnival!

And so, we proudly announce the upcoming

Nourishing Frugal Food Carnival!

Here’s how it will work:

The fun begins on Friday, July 11, when we will all head on over to The Nourishing Gourmet to post our most nourishing, frugal, and yes, tasty Main Dishes!

The following week, Friday, July 18, we will continue right here, at Keeper of the Home, for our best Sides, Salads and Desserts (get creative- this can include a lot of different types of recipes!).

How can you join in?

Start thinking now of recipes that you would be interested in sharing, and then be ready to post them up on your blog on the carnival dates. For the first week, you will find a Mr. Linky up on Kimi’s blog for you to add your link to, and the second week, the Mr. Linky will be on this blog. If you don’t have a blog, your ideas and comments are extremely welcome and appreciated!

The more participation from all of you lovely ladies, the more successful this carnival will be! I know that I am always in need of new ideas to inspire me as I seek to feed my family healthy foods, on a strict budget. Trying new recipes, or being inspired by different meal ideas, are great ways to get our creative juices flowing and help us in our important task of serving our families wholesome foods and stewarding what we have been given!

If you’ve never joined a carnival before, why not take this opportunity and join us? The more the merrier!

How can I help spread the word?

I’m so glad you asked! :) Please feel free to use the carnival banner in order to promote the carnival on your site, either through a blog post or simply by adding it on your sidebar. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is!

I’m looking forward to all of your wonderful ideas and recipes!

In the meantime, here are a few of my recent posts on this very topic, to get you started and give you some food for thought as you deal with your own budget challenges:
Rising to the Challenge of Higher Grocery Costs
Cost-per-serving for Dinner Menus
Frugal Cooking Carnival
Frugality with Food, Part 1
Frugality with Food, Part 2

(Part of Frugal Friday)

Baby Steps: Eating Cultured and Fermented Foods

This week's baby step is:

To introduce one new cultured or fermented food to yourself (and your family, if you can)!

Why this step is important:

Though they made not sound all that appealing initially, and I know that this may be a bigger Baby Step than some of the previous ones, cultured and fermented foods are actually delicious and offer so many health benefits!

You may have heard talk of good and bad bacteria, or intestinal flora- these are microscopic bacteria that live in your digestive tract and either aid in proper digestion, assimilation of nutrients, etc. or else they prevent it when the bad bacteria outnumber the good. Imagine a scale in your mind, balancing the good and bad intestinal bacteria on either end. Basically, when you eat cultured and fermented foods, you are heaping good bacteria onto the scale, and tipping it in the direction of a healthy digestive tract.

Eating foods that are chock full of beneficial, living bacteria is always helpful for good health, but even more so in our society. With doctors prescribing antibiotics irresponsibly for every little symptom (and with us accepting them so unthinkingly) we are in dire need of a bit of help to tip the scales back in the right direction. Add to that the fact that our meat and dairy contains antibiotics, and that most North Americans do not even know what real cultured or fermented foods are (let alone consume them), and you have a real recipe for poor digestive health (which in turn leads to poor health in general).

Some other health benefits include:

  • Rich in enzymes, which improve digestion and reduce the need for our body to produce it's own enzymes, which in turn promotes health and increased energy
  • Protects the nutrient content of food, and in many cases increases the availability of nutrients
  • Helps promote regular elimination (a fancy way of saying that it makes you go!)

How to get started with this step:

First, let's get familiarized with what types of food I am even talking about! Here are some examples:

  • Yogurt (the real stuff- plain, sour, no thickeners added or needed)
  • Kefir (similar to yogurt, but more drinkable, with a slightly different taste)
  • Buttermilk
  • Cultured sour cream, creme fraiche, or piima cream
  • Sauerkraut (this includes Kimchi, the Korean version)
  • Pickles (such as dill pickles)
  • Other pickled vegetables (pearl onions, beets, carrots, etc.)
  • Japanese miso paste, natto (fermented bean paste) and umeboshi (pickled plums)
  • Even fruit chutneys and preserves
  • Kombucha, a fermented, Asian drink made with tea (very healthy and good once you acquire a taste- I make this often!)

The only catch is the method. For instance, the regular dill pickles that you buy off of your grocery store shelf are NOT fermented. They are merely canned, using vinegar, at high temperatures, rendering any bacteria dead and useless.The method that is used for vegetables and fruits is the lacto-fermentation method, and it does not use vinegar but instead relies on the lactic-acid that naturally occurs at room temperature, and uses salt to inhibit bacteria while the lactic-acid develops and ferments the food.

Below, I have listed as many online resources as I could find, including a few recipes, ways acquire to starter cultures for dairy, etc. Ultimately, I would suggest purchasing a book with much more detailed explanations and instructions, and a wide variety of recipes. You will not regret it!

Online Resources:

Online tutorial for making fermented vegetables- This is an excellent tutorial, with step-by-step photos

Fermented Treasures- Purchase cultured food and fermented beverage starters from this site (as well as sourdough starter- hat tip to Kimi for finding this site!)

Sourdough and Lacto-Fermented Recieps- I don't endorse anything else on this site, but some of the information on the page I've linked to is very helpful.

Wild Fermentation Site- Some troubleshooting Q&A, tips, a couple recipes, and other links.

Specific Recipes:
Marinara-Styled Cultured Veggies
Garden Style Cultured Vegetables wiht Dill
Water Kefir Tutorial (for those who can't have dairy)
Making Dairy Based Kefir at Home
Fermented Honey (a few recipes from Weston Price site)
Making Sour Pickles
My Homemade Yogurt Technique
Homemade Sauerkraut- My mother-in-law's recipe
How to make Kombucha

Reading Resources:

These are the best books that I know of on this topic- either one would be a great resource for learning to make your own cultured and fermented foods! I constantly refer to Nourishing Traditions as a resource, personally, and have also heard wonderful things about Wild Fermentation (guess I need to add another book to my want-to-buy list!).

And on a side note… how about a small giveaway while we're at it?

I've got some kefir grains that I received a couple months ago from Shirley, a sweet blog reader. Well, I make it constantly and so my grains have started to multiply.

Since I know from experience that it can be hard to find real kefir grains (and that once you try kefir, you will adore it and want to have some everyday, as I do!), I will send a package of these little babies to one lucky, randomly chosen commenter on this post!

Tell me what (if any) fermented or cultured foods you eat or are most interested to try, and let me know that you're interested in being added in to the giveaway (make sure that you enter your email in the comment form), and I'll choose a winner by Monday at 4 pm! (As an aside, if you already have kefir grains, you can still comment, but just let me know that you're not entering the giveaway, as I'd prefer to bless someone who doesn't have any yet!)

Edit: The giveaway is now over, though you are still welcome to comment on the post itself, if you like. Thanks for entering, everyone!

Summer reading

I just love a good book and our family has a book budget that is continually being used to the max! However (quite sadly), with all of the site problems and transfers I've had to focus on in the past few months, reading has mostly gone by the wayside.

So how excited was I to grab this stack of books from the library last night (well, the top four I own and was already working my way through)! I finally feel as though things are calming down and there's time to read again, and I am just thrilled to no end! It was all I could do to go to bed at a normal hour last night and not stay up till all hours of the night reading!

What's on your reading list this summer?

I need to have less “stuff”

In conversations of late between my husband and I, one of the resounding themes that keeps coming is that we just have too much "stuff"!

Now, I don't think that most people who visited my home would feel that it was terribly cluttered or knick-knacky, or that we were bursting at the seams.

However, it was a little less than a year ago that we moved from an 1100 sq. ft. 2 BR condo, into a fairly sprawling 3 BR, with an extra family room and dining room, house (complete with yard and double garage). I don't know the square footage, but my guess is over 1600, not including storage space or the downstairs laundry room.

How is it possible that in such a short time, we have filled this house up??? When we first moved in, I didn't know what we would fill the family room or secondary dining room with, let alone the garage. I can now see what we've filled it with, but I'm just not quite sure how it happened!

Suffice it to say that I feel motivated to just get rid of a lot of it. I remarked to Ryan the other day that I am starting to feel more like a stuff manager than a homemaker. I have to spend 15 minutes each morning and each afternoon just tidying and returning things to their proper place so that I can even feel that the house is somewhat in order so that I can try to be productive.

One of the themes that has been popping up all over the blogosphere lately (at least, my little corner of the Christian mommy world), has been one little word… simplicity.

Ahhh… simplicity.

Oh, how I long for my home to feel more simple to care for, for life to feel less busy and complex, and to have more energy and time left to focus on what is far more important– my relationship with God and with others.

I suppose that is why this article stood out to me this weekend:

Excess consumption is practically an American religion. But as anyone
with a filled-to-the-gills closet knows, the things we accumulate can
become oppressive. With all this stuff piling up and never quite
getting put away, we're no longer huddled masses yearning to breathe
free; we're huddled masses yearning to free up space on a countertop.
Which is why people are so intrigued by the 100 Thing Challenge, a
grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are
pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items.

          Read the entire article here. (Hat tip to Shannon)

Now, I'm not so sure that we could get down to 100 things, nor that I even want to try. I do relate, though, to that yearning to breathe free and clear up some space.

I've decided to have another garage sale (even though I just had one last September), and I am going to try to be really brutal as I purge and cleanse my house. I'm setting the date now, so that I can be held accountable by having told all of you!

My sale will be held July 19, smack dab in between our two sets of homestay students that we will be hosting. It gives me almost 4 weeks to get everything together, advertise, see if any neighbors want to join in and just make sure that I am well organized. I am actually really looking forward to this, and the money will go into an account for something that I am eager to tell you about soon!

Does anyone else relate to what I'm talking about? How have you dealt with clutter and the tendency to accumulate stuff? Are you interested in joining me in an effort to really declutter and simplify my house, and our lives in general? Wanna cheer each other on?

Image credit

Menu Plan Monday- June 23

Does anyone else find it hard to even think of cooking when you're sweating glowing away in a roasting hot house?

About the only thing sounding good to me right now is an ice cold fruit smoothie! And I suppose, I can't really make that for dinner for the next 7 nights in a row (or can I)?

Since we should probably have a bit of vegetables, meat and grain mixed in between our smoothies, I suppose this is what I'll serve for dinner:

Monday: Chicken Divan over quinoa, with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (I prefer to steam mine separately and add it at the end- it has a nicer texture to it that way, in my opinion)

Tuesday: Bean and rice burritos, with fresh salsa (the recipe is a little ways down on the page)

Wednesday: Taco Salad (using fresh greens from my garden!)

Thursday: Fish Coconut Curry over rice, with garden salad

Friday: We'll be in Seattle, picking up a van that we'll be borrowing while we host two Taiwanese students for the next three weeks

Saturday: Baked potatoes with broccoli cheese sauce (simple and easy, since we'll just arrive home from Seattle around dinner time)

Sunday: Homemade Pizza (with peppers, feta, herbs, tomatoes, chicken, etc.)

I didn't take the time this week to properly plan my breakfasts, but we'll be eating an assortment of:

  • oatmeal
  • smoothies
  • toast
  • hashbrowns and eggs (but not for me- I'm avoiding eggs to try to improve my eczema- so sad!)
  • homemade yogurt and raw granola
  • waffles (I'm going to make a big batch while I'm at it and freeze some for busy mornings)

For those new to meal planning, I'll be talking about some meal planning techniques in my Baby Steps post this Wednesday. If you're looking for more menu planning info and resources, be sure to check out Organizing Junkie, who weekly hosts Menu Plan Mondays!

Learning resources for little ones

"When are we going to do Learning Time, Mama?"

This is almost a daily question in our home, from my eager 3 1/2 year old daughter. She just adores the time that we spend each afternoon, reading, studying, discussing, creating, learning, and most of all, enjoying!

I received the sage advice early on to not focus on the academics so much, but to focus more on teaching my children to love learning, and that is just what we are seeking to do. Especially in these early years, if our daughter comes away with nothing more than a sincere enjoyment and love for learning, then we will be satisfied.

Though I am far from being an experienced home educator, I thought that some of the other young moms out there who are thinking about home schooling or are just starting as I am, might be interested to know what I am using and loving these days.

"Learning Time" as we call it in our family, is simple, relaxed, and pressure-free. It is an opportunity for me to spend purposeful time with Abbie, teaching her about God and training her in godliness, delving into good books, practicing and exposing her to skills she will need to learn, and just exploring topics that interest us. At the moment, there is no set schedule, nor workbooks to be completed, no expectations– just a lot of fun and time spent together.

In addition to using resources and books, sometimes we also just research a topic that we are interested in (such as how plants grow, as we are gardening right now), watch a brief video on animals or from Everyday News, have a calendar time (using a large, preschool style calendar), or even spend some time looking at maps. It doesn't have to be formal to be interesting and educational!

Here's what we're using and why I like it:

Big Truths for Little Kids- I've mentioned before that we are using this to teach the catechism, and I love it! The stories are a bit advanced for my daughter (she asks to hear them but often gets bored halfway through), but the catechism questions are so worth it, as are the scripture references and discussion questions.

The Three R's (previously A Home Start in Reading and Language)- These short and simple books by Ruth Beechick have helped me enormously (mine are actually the old version, which was three separate books, and I don't have the math book yet). You could do all of your basic preschool and kindergarten, even into the early elementary years using these books. Through the concepts and activities, Abbie is slowly learning how to read and I feel that I am understanding how to go about teaching reading. Love these!

Before Five in a Row- I really enjoy the concept of this book, which is that you read the same book for 5 days in a row. Each day, you do an activity (art, science, math, language) that goes along with something in the book (for instance, in Goodnight Moon we read Bible verses about sleep, the sun and the moon, and we looked at how they use dark and light to show the transition to nighttime, and we experimented with primary colors, etc.). The only thing about this book, or it's original (Five in a Row (Five in a Row): Volume 1, for older children), is that you need to be able to access the books that it uses, either borrowing from the library, a friend, or buying them.

Teach Them to Your Children- We bought this two Christmas' ago, when she was only 2. It is only now beginning to be at her level. It has 26 stories (each one has a poem that begins with a letter of the alphabet), each one intended to look at a different aspect of character and Biblical training, and includes a relevant verse as well. I find the stories can be a good starting point for discussion in an area that we are working on (telling the truth, obeying your parents, being generous, etc.).

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready- This neat book takes you all the way from the very first week your baby is born, through to the end of their 4th year. It is meant to prepare a child with all of the skills needed for beginning school (written by a kindergarten teacher), but it is also just a fun way to work on developmental activities with your little ones. When Abbie was little, I tried to do each weekly activity, though I fell out of the habit.

These days I sometimes use the infant activities for Caden, and get Abbie to help me with it. She is learning to serve her brother and be interested in cheering on his accomplishments, and it's good for me to spend a bit of extra attention on him (because we all know that the second child doesn't get nearly the attention that the first received!).

The Little Hands Big Fun Craft Book- This actually a series of art books for preschoolers (we also have Alphabet Art and The Little Hands Art Book). The ideas are really simple, varied, and don't require many complex or difficult to find supplies (it's often basic art supplies or things you might have around your house). Sometimes I let Abbie flip through and choose an activity that she is interested in doing, which she loves.

The Usborne First Thousand Words in Japanese- Because my husband and I lived in Japan for the first year of our marriage, we thought it would be fun to teach our kids Japanese. I scored this book for free from a pile of home schooling books that someone was giving away (it's actually part of a series of similar books in many different languages). It's basically a picture dictionary, and each page is a new scene (ie. the home, the kitchen, a farm, the zoo, school, etc.) and includes words appropriate to that setting. Abbie really enjoys going through it and pointing out words for me to read to her and for her to repeat.

Bob Books- These are very simple little books, that I wouldn't have thought much of, except that my MIL bought them for us and said they're great for kids who are learning to read. To my surprise, Abbie thinks they're great, and the simple words and short stories really appeal to her. I use these to help her practice sounding words out and recognizing words that are repeated throughout the story.

Reading- We are currently reading the first book in the Paddington Bear series (another MIL gift- I'm not sure if I'll ever have to buy much curriculum or materials as long as she
keeps giving us so many books!).

Next, I'm eager to start the Little House on the Prairie series. I do this during our read-aloud time before naps. My MIL is a huge advocate of reading out loud to your children, even books that are above their level, because of the language exposure it gives them.

In all of this, our primary goal is to focus on learning to love God, develop character, and establish the foundations for a life of continual, purposeful learning, exploration and creativity!

Do you have any other resources to recommend for little ones? What types of things are you doing for home educating with your preschool aged children? Any wisdom from experienced moms?

Grow, little garden, grow!

Did you know that you have some incredible garden fertilizers, right in your very own kitchen?

As I am trying to keep my garden costs low, I have been so blessed this year to discover a few very simple, yet very effective ways to boost my garden!

It all started on a short date with my husband to our local Starbucks. While waiting for our drink, I happened to notice a bucket with a couple of large bags in it, labeled "Grounds for your Garden". Intrigued, I picked one up and asked the Barista what people usually do with them. She answered that she wasn't quite sure, but that they were supposed to help with the soil or compost or something like that, she just knew that many, many people swore by them. Hmmm…

I hoisted the weighty bag into my arms, and walked out, feeling mysteriously as though I was on the verge of something great. After mentioning the grounds to my friend that week (which were still sitting in their lovely silver bag, untouched, on my patio), she sent me a link that night to this website page, where I learned that:

Coffee by-products can be used in the garden and farm as follows:

  • Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering, for a
    slow-release nitrogen.

  • Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance.  Coffee filters
    and tea bags break down rapidly during composting.

  • Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer.  Use
    about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water;
    let sit outdoors to achieve ambient

  • Mix into soil for houseplants or new vegetable

  • Encircle the base
    of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.

  • If you are into vermi-posting, feed a little bit to your worms

After reading the testimonials, I felt that at the very least, I could give them a try. I tossed a bunch in with my compost, sprinkled some more half-heartedly on a few areas of my garden, and then finished the bag off in the compost again.

At first, I didn't think much of it at all, but this week it started to make sense to me. My slow-going compost had been quite hot and steamy (hee, hee, those words sound funny to describe compost) when I turned it the week before, and this week while turning it, I suddenly realized that the compost I thought would never compost was actually nearing usability! When did that happen? Perhaps the nitrogen had really boosted the speed of the composting!

My second epiphany came this week while reading my trusty How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method as my kids splashed around in the bath. I felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning's of my health journey as I realized that just like our bodies, vegetables and fruits (well, all plants) need particular nutrients in particular amounts, or they will not grow healthy, strong or fruitful! (Okay, seriously, I somewhat knew that, but I had so much to wrap my mind around in learning to garden that I hadn't really gotten around to that part yet… I never said I was a fast learner!)

The proverbial lightbulb suddenly came on and I had a whole new view of my garden, it's poor soil, and the mildly stunted growth it was experiencing at the moment (part of which I know is due to the cold, cloudy stretch of weather we've been having).

As I read through the different types of organic fertilizers and their nutrient content, I realized that coffee grounds were acidic and would alter the pH for those of my plants that were really needing a very acidic or mildly acidic soil.

According to the book, here are some of the plants that require more acidic conditions to flourish.

Quite Acid (pH from 4.0 to 6.0):
Blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry, raspberry, cranberry
Sweet potato

Slightly Acid (pH from 6.0 to 6.5):
Apple, Peach, Pear, Cherry
Squash (all, including pumpkin and zuchinni)

With this in mind, I am now eager to get myself some more coffee grinds (I think I'll make a Starbucks run tonight, with absolutely no intention of buying coffee!). The best part is that they are free, either from a local coffee shop or the remnants from your morning cuppa!

In addition
, while I was reading up on all of the nutrients that my poor garden was obviously lacking, I realized that part of why my tomatoes might be so lacklustre could be a lack of calcium (very important for tomatoes, apparently).

I had already been washing, drying and crushing all of my egg shells, with the hope of deterring slugs (a point which is debated, as to whether the egg shells actually work or not). However, I discovered that egg shells happen to contain much calcium carbonate!

Now, I am crushing my egg shells more finely and using them as fertilizer as well. I think that I will actually begin to put them into my food processor to grind them into a powder, to help the nutrients to be absorbed into the soil more readily. Once again, fertilizer at my fingertips, for free!

Last but not least, have I mentioned that I am mulching this year?

I've just read so many positive things about it (less weeds, more heat/drought tolerance, need to water less frequently, organic matter decomposes and enriches soil, etc.) that I just had to try and see it for myself.

I looked up hay on Craigslist and was so pleased to find bales of spoiled alfalfa hay for just the price I was willing to pay- $0 (though I did end up putting $20 of gas into the truck I borrowed to pick it up, but that's besides the point).

I've been working to carefully mulch around my plants, and even in my walkways, and I'm pleased to say that I think the weeds are less than they would be otherwise, which is a huge bonus for me! I don't think that I have mulched thickly enough yet, so I will keep adding more and seeing how that affects the weed population. It will take until next year, probably, to really see the results, but I am optimistic and hey, it can't hurt!

So there you have it- 3 free/cheap ways to boost your garden this summer:

1) Coffee grounds

2) Eggs shells

3) Mulch

Now all I need is a little sunshine, and I'm set!

Frugality lovers, head on over to Biblical Womanhood to get your Friday fix!

I choose hope

There is a lot of bad news out there. Sometimes, being on the internet so much, I can tend to feel overwhelmed by all that I read and see.

One site in particular has really been getting to me lately, with what I feel is a particularly negative, hopeless and humanistic approach. If I were to listen only to that site, I might really be struggling to find any hope at all, in the midst of so many dangers and cautions and conspiracies and the like.

Perhaps you are like me, and feel that you are doing your very best, as you continually seek to improve aspects of your health and nutrition, avoid dangerous foods and products and toxins, and still find balance in your life. Yet we are daily being told that it is not enough!

I can't do it all. I know from your comments and emails that neither can you. 

There is much fear mongering in the area of health information and education, and it is truly unfortunate. Much of it is used to manipulate us and/or convince us to part with more of our money. Some of it is well intentioned and I believe sincerely offered out of compassion and care. But yet, discerning between the two can be nearly impossible, can't it?

In general, there is a serious lack of hope in all of the hype and claims and new discoveries and all of the things that we must do in order to be "healthy". 

But what good is it all anyways? So much of the information out there is self-help or self-actualization or even heal-thyself-because-god-is-within-you garbage.

There is a vast difference between careful and conscientious stewardship, and believing that you are capable of turning everything around and creating perfect health for you and your loved ones. One is God-focused, and the other is me-focused.

Let's face it. We live in a sin-burdened, broken-down mess of a world. No matter how healthy or green or natural we may become, we all share the same end, and that is physical death and an eternity either with God or without Him.

Pursuing health and natural living is not the ultimate goal. They are merely tools that can be used to enable us to live more in harmony with the creation God has so lovingly given us to have dominion over, to steward it and to preserve it for future generations, and to experience more energy and vitality in these incredible bodies that He has designed so that we may be more fully able to minister to others and seek His kingdom, and nothing more!

Where is our hope then, in the midst of so much brokenness, despair, sickness, and confusion?

It cannot be found in this diet or that supplement or in being healed of this ailment or avoiding that toxin.
Any and all hope that we could ever desire to find can be found in nothing but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only in the real salvation and healing of our souls that Christ alone offers (as opposed to the counterfeits offered by the world)  that we can and should place our ultimate trust. 

I do not long for a day when I am able to cook perfectly of completely naturally produced food, and rid my home of any toxins, or when I have abounding energy and feel free of all sickness or disease. I do not long for cleaner skies and seas, a reduction in landfills, uncontaminated soil or pure drinking water.

No, I long for something far, far greater. 

I long for the day when my Savior returns on the clouds, and with the resounding of a trumpet call, draws me home to be with Him forever. I long for an eternity where the truest healing awaits- no more sickness, no more death, no more tears, no more sorrow (Rev 21:3-5).

And so as I walk daily through this world in which I am merely a stranger and an alien, I choose hope. Not in what Dr. Mercola or Nourishing Traditions or Weston Price (and certainly not Keeper of the Home) have to say. 

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Baby Steps: Get growing!

This week's baby step is:

Very simple. It is to grow something edible, anything at all, this summer. And eat it!

Why this step is important:

I think there is something crucial about connecting with the seasons and the way that food grows. Though I find it difficult to express in words, there is something so life giving, so beautiful, so invigorating and exciting about it. It develops in me such an appreciation for the goodness of God and the miracle of His creation.

With all the talk of the economy and rising food costs, developing skills that promote self-sustainability is a very, very good thing.

For me, though, it's not even just about the costs. It's that I want to have the knowledge and experience in growing and harvesting my own food, to know where it's coming from (and what's on or in it- this is important!), to have tended to it with my own hands, to have had the dirt under my fingernails, to watch those delicate little seedlings pop up from teensy little seeds and then marvel at the miracle it is as they grow into full fledged, food producing plants.

So why grow?

  • Pure and simple, for the self-satisfaction of growing something yourself!
  • to teach your children where food really comes from, and to let them participate and learn from the process
  • For organic/natural foods, right in your backyard
  • Because nothing tastes better than a freshly picked tomato, or the candy sweetness of home garden carrots, or the juicy crunch of a snow pea right off the vine
  • 0 mile food- walk out back door, pick food from garden, and eat. I love it!
  • It costs so little to grow your own food, and every little bit counts with the food and gas costs rising as they are

How to get started with this step:

It is entirely up to you how you go about this step. It could be starting your own square foot garden, or tilling a plot in your yard. It could be adding a tomato plant in a container onto your deck. It could be as simple as placing a potted herb on your kitchen window, or growing your own sprouts for sandwiches using a canning jar. It is entirely what works for you!

Just choose something that feels manageable to you. If you really don't feel that you have the time and energy to take on something big, then start very small and you can always add a little more next year. It has to be achievable, so that you can feel successful in it! Don't bite off more than you can chew! (This coming from the girl whose first garden was 16 x 16 feet, at a community garden she had to walk or bike to with her 1 1/2 year old, with about 12 different kinds of vegetables, and she knew nothing, truly nothing, about gardening- but that's besides the point!)

Online Resources:

Here are a few links to get your going and inspire you!

Homegrown Revolution- watch this video and be amazed at what can be done in a city lot!

Growing tomatoes in containers- Some great tips from a farmer, for my friend Lindsay who's trying her very first tomato plants on her deck this year!

Square Foot Gardening (official site)- This is a great method, and you can start as simple or elaborate as you like. Lots of good info here!

How to grow potatoes in a garbage can- I'm pretty sure I'm going to do this (I better get started soon)- it looks so simple!

You Grow Girl- A fun site with lots of interesting articles, tips, etc.

Organic Gardening- Site of the magazine by the same name, with lots of info about how to grow different types of vegetables and fruits, and many other helpful articles.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds- The site where I purchased my seeds this year. Here is a link to their Gardening Guide (good, overall info), and also to their page with gardening related links. As well, they now have a forum that looks to have much helpful info!

Sprouting seeds- A simple tutorial for sprouting seeds using only a canning jar and a cloth. I've done this myself, using broccoli and clover seeds to make sandwich sprouts, and it was so easy, and the sprouts were more delicious, fresh and crisp than those I buy at the store!

Reading Resources:

Here are the books that have been inspiring me this year (well, the last is highly recommended by others and not read by myself yet, but hopefully next on my list of books to buy).

The second one, How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, is an oldie but a true classic (first published in 1959). I have learned so much by pouring over this book, and it is just filled to the brim with info on every fruit or vegetable you could think of, growing seasons, garden planning, minerals and deficiencies, fertilizing, mulching, composting, seedlings, etc. You name it, it's in there.

Momma's Guide to Growing your Groceries- I bought this ebook back in the fall, and have really enjoyed it (as a bonus, it is on sale right now, as are all of Biblical Womanhood's ebooks for the month of June- check them out here!).

Did you know…

…that Biblical Womanhood has all of their ebooks on sale for only $3.00 each, just for the month of June?

Neither did I! Go check them out!

(I have their entire ebook collection, and among my favorites are Momma's Guide to Growing your Groceries, Thriving on One Income, Simple Tips for Successful Home Management, and the How to Start your own Business eCourse, just to give you a few ideas!)

Edit: Ignore the fact that the link says March- it really is for June! I checked!