Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Altering Our Biographies

2 Cor. 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

A blogging friend of mine recently had an entry that told about someone’s distant ancestor who was a horse thief in Montana, who also robbed trains, was chased down by the famous Pinkerton Detectives, and who eventually hanged for his troubles back in 1889.

I suppose someone in his family tree didn’t want to be associated with such a “fellow lacking in character,” and he decided to alter his great-great uncle’s biography…uh…just a smidge:

“[He] was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1885, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, [he] passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

After getting a good giggle out of the story, the Lord put the thought into my head: “That is exactly what I did for you. I altered your biography when I shed My blood on the cross.”

Before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, at the age of 23, I was a BAD, misguided, utterly foul person. But once Christ came into my life – once HE forgave me of my sins – I became a brand new person! HE completely altered my biography and has written His version into the Lamb’s Book of Life! All of the old crud has been erased and each page has been replaced with HIS loving grace. The Author of Life has a personal interest in MY story! He is helping me to write new chapters of love, devotion, prayer, ministry and out-reach that is read by everyone who comes into my sphere of influence. That can be a heavy load to carry, but He has assured me that His burden is light and that He will be with me all the way. I may fail and drop a few bricks from my load from time-to-time, but He is always there to forgive me and help me start all over.

If your biography needs altered for 2010, Jesus can & WILL if you simply ask. The biographies He writes are always better than what we can ever imagine.

I'm so grateful that the Lord is in the business of altering our biographies. With His help, I'm hoping that my life will be a story worth reading by my descendants.

Happy New Year & Blessings from Ohio...Kim W<><

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Pantry Tins

As shown in a previous post, I collect AND use antique & reproduction tins. And CHRISTmas is no different.
These are the CHRISTmas tins I have on top of my Hoosier Hutch. Most are changed for the season, but a few stay all year. There are a couple that I simply turn from one side to another b/c they have 2 or 4 seasons depicted on them. Love those! One of my prized 'tins' is actually a metal Disneyland lunch box that had been my older brother's; one side has a 'warm weather' scene on it & then I turn it around in the winter on the 'cold weather' side w/the snowy Matterhorn Mountain.

Then, I change out the shelf that my dear Daddy made for me. Some of my favorites are my maple syrup tins shaped like log cabins, the wolf family '-) & the manger scene.

I don't remember where I got the one w/the manger scene on it, but it is always the central focal point to my display every year. It's lovely.
It certainly seems like everyone likes Currier & Ives in the winter! I have several of these lovely scenes, even in my larger popcorn-sized tins.
It's always fun to change things around a little, especially when the seasons change. Each season has it's own look & feel & it helps us - or me, at least - to enjoy it even more when I welcome it into my home.
Blessings from Ohio...

Christmas 2009 Wrap Up

With my sweet hubby having been laid off since April, & now working a temp job, I have to say that we had a far better CHRISTmas that I had thought we would have. Silly me...the Lord IS good ALL the time!

We had told our beautiful girls that we couldn't get them anything but we did do the "sneaky parent"-thing & got them each a scarf/hat/glove set. No, I didn't make these this year...they have to get something from the store sometime! lol

Evidently, I've infested my DD#1 w/my funky, why-be-like-everybody-else style, b/c I knew she would love this a-little-bit-of-everything set! I would. :-) lol

Then, there's our silly DD#2. We got her the softest EVER black/charcoal/off white set that matches her charcoal-colored coat. What a funny girl!

It was such a fun, silly CHRISTmas at our house. And I'm so glad! Here's my Sweetie-Pie showing off a shirt that one of the girls got him. He draped it over himself like he had it on! lol
And then, the Season was wrapped up with Uncle Tommy telling the CHRISTmas story & telling the tale of the Candy Cane.
We are blessed!

What's that Smell?

I'm wondering...when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) says that the tourists in the Capitol Building stink, is it because he's forgotten the smell of the blood, sweat & tears of the hard-working Americans who pay the taxes he so callously spends?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drying Herbs

Here's a peek at some of the herbs I grew this past summer, hanging from a shelf my Daddy made for me to display my antique/reproduction tins.

You can see lavender, echinacea, rosemary & sage. I love how their fragrances waft through the house when they are freshly cut & there's nothing like fresh herbs in your baking & cooking.

Blessings from Ohio...

REVIEW: What the Bible Says About Healthy Living

By Dr. Rex Russell, M.D.

OK, I’ll admit it…yes, I was interested in what this book had to say but, I was sure I was going to read it and find out that it was written by another “earth papa guru.” Well…I couldn’t have been more wrong!

This is possibly the most interesting book I’ve ever read on living a healthy life-style based on Biblical concepts. Dr. Russell has put his heart into exploring what the Bible really says about diet and health. There are no out-landish claims, no disgusting concoctions to mix, and no sacrificing of everything we love to eat.

I found his explanation of clean and unclean foods really helpful. I especially appreciated his treatment of fasting and dealing with our relationship with the Lord and our own heart issues. Following God’s plan for healthy living isn’t just diet…as always, God deals with our heart as well.

Dr. Russell’s advice begins with following 3 principles that are laid out in God’s Word: 1) Eat the Foods God Created for You, 2) Don’t Alter God’s Design and 3) Don’t Let Any Food or Drink Become Your God. His explanations are grounded in Scripture and are very thoroughly explained.

The book covers such topics as: grains and nuts, fat in the diet, meats (clean and unclean), sugars and spices, fruits and vegetables and even beverages. The appendices include a fun health IQ quiz, frequently asked questions, mail order whole food sources and how to begin a relationship with your Creator.

Dr. Russell has covered it all and has done it in a thoughtful, God-honoring way.

Blessings from Ohio...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Amish French Toast

Here is a family favorite I thought I would share w/you. Our family has had the pleasure of going to Holmes County, Ohio ~ the largest Amish settlement in the world ~ a few times. Once my DH and I enjoyed the most wonderful long weekend at an Bed & Breakfast there, sometime around 1995.

A lovely couple runs it & the husband had grown up Amish but left them to marry his English bride. Their B&B was built by his Amish family members and looks just like an incredible Amish home. The difference being that the whole 1st floor is made up of lovely, themed guest rooms (we stayed in Grandpa's Room) w/a good 1/3 of the 1st floor being a HUGE country kitchen and a wonderful country gathering room w/several tables and chairs (for those incredible breakfasts and coffee w/freshly made pie in the evening!) and a relaxing living-area w/a fireplace, piano and comfy couch and chairs. There is also a wrap-around porch. The family that funs the B&B has the entire upstairs as their own "house." That, of course, is a private area. It's been a while since we've been there, if you're interested, it's called Miller Haus. It sets on the highest knoll of Holmes County.
Anyway...one of our incredible breakfasts while there was Amish French Toast! I have made this from-time-to-time ever since! It's my DH's favorite Saturday morning breakfast. If you try this, you will be in food heaven! Let me know how you LOVE it!
Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Amish French Toast

powdered sugar

~Mix w/fork 2 eggs and enough milk to cover (this you will do as necessary for each slice of bread)

~Melt butter into med/hot skillet (do this for each serving. IF you MUST use margarine, use one that is non-hydrogenated like Earth Balance – I have to do this for one of my girls)

~Crack egg into skillet

~IMMEDIATELY soak a slice of bread in the egg/milk mixture and lay on top of the egg in the skillet; fry for about a minute or so until bottom egg is cooked through.

~Flip egg and bread – together – and let bread toast on other side.

~You MAY need to flip over on each side again until egg is fried to your satisfaction.
~Move egg/toast to a plate and top w/syrup and powdered sugar.


The Simple Woman's Daybook ~#59~ 12/28/09

For Today...

Outside my window...SNOW! We had about 3" last night!

I am thinking...that I wish we would have had the snow for CHRISTmas!

I am thankful for...a warm, cozy home.

From the kitchen...just pb&j for lunch, not sure for supper...maybe my taco/cornbread bake.

I am wearing...jeans, thick socks, green long-sleeved t-shirt & olive zip-up hoodie.

I am remembering…all the things I need to do today. :-/
I am going…to the Old Order farm to get milk tomorrow - the roads are nearly impassable today.

I am reading..."Lies Women Believe" for the Sunday School I'm leading.

I am hoping...my DD#1's messed up windshield wiper is still under warranty, since she's only had her new car for 7 months.
On my mind…my loved ones on the slick roads.
I am creating...a clean home; I wasn't very diligent in the 'up-keep dept.' during this busy week.
I am hearing...the radio.

Noticing that…my hands are starting to look 'old'.

Pondering these words…"I have had to learn to look at discouragement and fear from the perspective of source; the enemy of God is at the heart of it all. But God's truth is greater, although it may be harder to see it through the filters of this world...") ~ from one of my fav blogs, Large Family Mothering @ http://ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com

Around the house...picking up, laundry, dusting, sweeping...

One of my favorite things...munching on clean, fresh snow.

A Scripture thought...Ex. 23:2 ~ "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong."
A few plans for the rest of the week...New Year's Eve w/some of our best friends! And it's at OUR house this year, so no traveling for us! Woohoo! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

You never know who your next friend will be!

Enjoy other Daybooks at: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Seasoning (Re-Seasoning) Cast Iron Skillets

Another dear blogger asked about rescuing an old, rusty cast iron skillet on her blog, so I thought others might be interested in my reply...

1st ~ was your skillet seasoned properly? It's really VERY easy. Pour about 1TB of oil (I use olive oil) into your skillet, bunch up a section (or 2) of a paper towel, rub the oil all over the inside of the skillet - bottom & sides - enough to make it 'shine' not so much as to run & drip. DO NOT RINSE! Let that sit until your next use. Do this in-between EVERY use. Obviously, if you've over-used the oil & it's dripping when tipped or tilted, you've used far too much. After a little while, you'll get the hang of how much your skillet absorbs. If this is the FIRST seasoning, bake in a 350* oven for 1 hour, let cool w/oven door open. ***"Baking" the skillet only has to happen before the 1st time you use it OR if you are 'rescuing' one that was misused.

2nd ~ DO NOT ~ EVER! ~ put your cast iron in the dish washer or completely submerge in dish water!!! To clean, srape out food remains w/a good NON-metal scraper - I like those brown plastic ones you get from Pampered Chef. Rinse out. Every-once-in-a-while, squirt just a little dish soap & use a wet dish cloth to clean it if you've cooked something particularly icky & dirty. :-) Dry w/a dish towel or paper towel. Oil as mentioned in #1 (w/o baking).

3rd ~ to simply get the rust off, scrub LIGHTLY w/steel wool & re-season as in #1. If it had been rusted badly on the outside, too, put a little oil on the outside when you re-season.I know this works b/c I lovingly use my gr-ma's old cast iron skillet almost everyday - it's probably older that me (I'm 50, that would make it ANTIQUE! lol). I rescued it from a relative who had repeatedly put it in her dishwasher & didn't know why it was looking so bad. (Scream!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas!

Don't look at the manger with out seeing the Cross.

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookin' Up Love in a Clutterd Kitchen

My kitchen is the center of my home - literally. :-) And it is, it seems, the center of my universe. Cluttered though that may be...

I enjoy having things around me that make me happy. So, my kitchen may be cluttered by the standards of many, but it cooks up love and happy memories. Not just those that our own family have made here, but also through the things that are in it. I am a sentimental fool who loves my family - both my immediate and my extended. So, you can see that I have happy memorabilia on my frig - magnets w/pics of the girls, magnets of places that we have been to and enjoyed from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Erie and beyond.

At my kitchen window I have things that I enjoy looking at and having around me while washing dishes, making morning coffee or cutting up chicken at the counter...my dish at the sink is a colonial cabin interior, it's "Colonial Homestead" by Royal and I got it for 50 cents at a barn sale! In the window is my mortor and pestel that I grind herbs in for cooking, seasoning mixes and soaps; a small framed piece that says, "Christ is the Head of this house; the unseen Guest at every meal, the unseen Listener to every conversation;" there is a 'stained glass' ornament that one of the girls made when they were little, it's faded, but I still love it. There's a Cat's Meow wood cutting of the Miami County Barn that is just a 1/2 mile from my home - 2003 was Ohio's bi-centennial and all 88 counties had one barn painted by a particular Ohio artist and Cat's Meow made a cut out of each one. My favorite things by my sink are the 2 little antique pictures I have nailed to each of the sink-side cabinets - 1 on the right and 1 on the left - of log cabin interiors. They were my gr-ma's and they remind me of her cozy little home. I'll show those to you sometime.

In the fore-ground (above), on the couter, you can see jars of fresh honey next to our tea basket and the very large Lipton's Tea ice tea "pot" (the siggot is on the other side), this was the last thing my Daddy gave me the last time he came to my house before he passed away. My parents found it at an antique shop years ago and they decided they didn't need it anymore and he brought it to me b/c he knew I always admired it. Under the window you can see my dry sink that was given to me by an aunt. On it are my antique pitcher/bowl, various bottles of seasoned olive oils and my butter crock ready w/soft sweet butter. Behind that, on the wall, you can see a small plate w/The Last Supper on it that belonged to my gr-ma. Above, on the window sill, are a hodge-podge of favorites - the beautiful yellow carnival glass dish has The Last Supper on it and was my MIL's; however most of the items on that sill are keepsakes from one of our favorite places on earth: Lakeside, Ohio on Lake Erie. Our dear friends own a cottage up there and we go up at least 1 week each summer; it's also 10 minutes away from Marblehead Lighthouse (the lighthouse that is on some Ohio license plates). There are some of my large tins that I keep noodles, pasta and large bags of flour in. And the shelf that my Daddy made me for my antique/reproduction tins collection.

This is the back of the cabinets that are over the bar area that divides the cooking area of the kitchen from the eating area. As you can see, it has taken on a life of its own! We call this our "Wall of Fame"! It used to hold merely our calender and the 3D chicken...thing. But as the years have passed, more and more photos of favorite people began to find little resting places in the corners and along the edges and then I just started putting them all over like a big collage. There are baby announcements, vacation pics, the children of family and friends from all over the country, graduation pics from our daughters' homeschool friends, pics of President Bush when he spoke in the center of the traffic circle of our county seat in 2004...there's a memory and a loved one in every face.

There's always LOVE cookin' up somewhere in my cluttered country kitchen!

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Monday, December 21, 2009

8 Simple Secrets to Treating a Cold Naturally

Once again, thank you http://www.learningherbs.com/ !
Blessings from Ohio, Kim<><


~Are you looking to manage your cold or flu naturally?
~Do you want to know how to kick a cold before it takes hold?
~Did you know that most of what you need for a natural cold remedy could already be in your kitchen?

Click here to read about why we get colds. This will take only a minute, and help you understand the "Eight Simple Secrets" a lot better. However, for those of you in a hurry…


I know when a cold is coming on before it takes hold. It sends a signal to my throat. When my throat feels the slightest bit tingly, tight or soar, I know to take action. Another symptom I experience is feeling tired or exhausted. What do I do?

1. Rest! Most of the time, if I take the day off, my cold gets kicked. When I feel it coming, I basically go to sleep in addition to the rest of the steps below. When I do all these steps right away, over 90% of the time, I don’t get the cold. I know you might be thinking, “Well, I’m busy. I can’t just stop and rest!” Well, if you don’t, you’ll most likely get the cold and have to take off even more days.

For cold and flu prevention, make sure you manage your stress and laugh a lot! Stress impairs white blood cell function. Laughter enchances immune function.

2. Eat Well. You don’t feel like eating when you have a cold? Neither do I. But what I do eat is organic chicken broth with miso. Click here to read about my simple, natural cold cure soup recipe.

If you are practicing cold prevention (in other words, you want to eat healthy to stay healthy), then make sure you eat a diet consisiting of whole foods, such as grains, vegetables, meat, and fruits. It's best if your food sources are local and organic. Avoid processed foods and food with artificial ingredients.

3. Garlic. Yes. Garlic. Click here to read more about garlic and how I use it as an essential part of my natural cold and flu cure.

4. My “Special-Tea.” And this tea is my specialty. Most likely, you have the ingredients in your kitchen. Click here for the free recipe. I drink this when I have the flu as well.

5. Echinacea. I know you have all heard of this herb. Did you know it's a great remedy for strep throat? Despite the recent governement study, does it really work? Click here to find out and learn how to us it as well as HOW NOT to use it.

6. I bundle up. I’ll wear a turtle neck shirt to keep my neck covered, and put on my favorite sweats. Often I’ll put on a ski cap as well to keep my body heat in. This is especially important if you have the flu.

7. Stay off drugs, sugar, and dairy! What? I DO NOT mean any medications your doctor has you on. Stay ON those. Stay off over the counter cold remedies, as well as other legal (and illegal) drugs, such as caffeine and nicotine. Smoking and coffee are well known to severely impair your immune system.

Also, cut out sugar and other processed foods as much as you possibly can. And finally, cut out dairy on all levels. Milk, cheese and other dairy products are mucous enhancing and stuff you up even more.

8. If my I get a stuffy nose, I no doubt make my simple stuffy nose remedy. You probably have this ingredient in your cupboard already. Click here to learn about my favorite stuffy nose cure.

That’s it! Basically, I get lots of rest, eat my broth and drink my tea. There are other things I do as well, such as use some of my favorite herbs for coughs, aches or fevers, but I wanted to show you how simple it is to treat a cold naturally with things you probably already have in your kitchen.

Using my "Eight Secrets" to shake a cold before it takes hold or manage it while you have a cold will do three things…

1. Give you the rest you so desperately need to heal.
2. Increase your immune system’s ability to function. Amping up your immune system will get rid of the virus a lot faster than if you take the route of suppressing it with over the counter cold medications.
3. NOURISH YOU! You’re body always needs nourishment. That can prevent illness. However, when you’re already ill, you might as well greatly increase the nourishment.

Remember, nourishment does not JUST mean eat well. It also means cutting out harmful substances like coffee and doing things just for you… like rest, take walks, work on something you enjoy, or read.

Cold & Flu Home Remedy

Got this off of a wonderful site: www.learningherbs.com They were gracious enough to put this on their FREE side!
Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

This cold and flu home remedy is my SPECIAL-Tea :)

I felt this cold home remedy and flu home remedy information really needed to be in everyone’s grasp for free. This cold and flu home remedy is such an important part of my “cold regimen” that I want everyone to know about it.

The recipe...

You already have the ingredients in your kitchen!

For years my wife and I have been making this tea whenever we feel something coming on or are already sick. Usually, we curb the cold before it takes hold, but in either case, you’ll find this tea not only gives relief, but also works on stimulating your immune system and warms you up.

The three secret ingredients to my “Special-Tea” are:
1) Ginger
2) Lemon juice
3) Honey
That’s it!

Why ginger, lemon and honey?

Well, you probably know that lemon is high in Vitamin C. It is also full of phytochemicals. These are plant constituents that help boost the immune system and much more.

Ginger and honey are also well documented to help the immune system. Stephen Buhner does an incredible job of talking about the virtues of these and other herbs in his book, Herbal Antibiotics. It is where I got this great flu home remedy soup.

It’s a real basic and approachable book that will blow your mind with the amazing health giving gifts of some of the most common plants. Garlic, Echinacea, astragalus, shiitake mushrooms, grapefruit seed extract and more… It’s all in there. Recipes as well.

I call this ginger tea with lemon and honey my "Special-Tea!" :)

Here’s what you do: (you may need to experiment with amounts to get the taste that suits you)

1. Fill up your teakettle and get it boiling.
2. Meanwhile, grate a one-inch piece of fresh ginger root.
3. Get a thermos out. I have a quart thermos I use.
4. Put the ginger in the thermos.
5. Put a dash of lemon juice in the thermos. A dash is about 4 tablespoons. Actually, it's less of a dash and more of a small splash. :)
6. Add a dash of honey as well. A dash in this case is about three tablespoons. Hey, a dash means something different to all of us. Basically, add the honey to taste.
7. When your water is boiled, pour it in the thermos.
8. Cover it up and let it sit for 20 minutes.
9. Strain into a tea cup and enjoy!


If you lack a thermos, you can also just simmer the water in an open pan with the ginger for 15 -20 minutes as well. Add the lemon and honey to the pot AFTER you are finished simmering ginger. Just strain it into your cup. When you want more, just heat it back up. I just like the thermos because when I am sick it’s hard enough just to get up let alone heat something up.

You can vary the amounts as well. Play around so you get a flavor you really like. It tastes great!

Other things I sometimes add:

1. A few cloves of crushed garlic.
2. Cayenne powder to taste (enough to break a little sweat)
3. A few slices of Astragalus root (an important immune system nourisher). Click here to order it. Scroll down the linked page to Astragalus root (not the powder).
4. Seaweed. Seaweed is so packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s literally super food. Click here to order Kelp powder. (There is a link on the order page of this link on how to use it.)
5. A few dropper bottle squirts of Echinacea tincture. Click here for more on that and how to make your own Echinacea tincture!

I don’t add all these at once… They are just variations I’ll use depending on the situation. I added these to show you that there are no rules to these recipes. As you learn more about herbs, feel free to experiment with new ones. If this is all new to you, just stick to the basic recipe.

Remember to follow the Eight Simple Secrets to treat your cold or flu holistically.

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~#58~ 12/21/09

For Today...

Outside my window...grey, "wanting-to-snow" skies; another 1/2" of snow on the ground. It's beginning to look alot like CHRISTmas.

I am thinking...that I can't believe CHRISTmas is almost here. I'm hoping the strains my mom has put on our family won't 'show' so much when we all get together.

I am thankful for...my wonderful husband who takes such good care of us, even when we have so little.

From the kitchen...lazagna & salad.

I am wearing...burgandy leggings & sweat shirt - it's COLD!

I am remembering…wonderful CHRISTmases past.

I am going…to take DD#2 to work.

I am reading..."Lies Women Believe"

I am hoping...for the peace of God to settle over my relatives so that there won't be so much strife.

On my mind…the passing of time.

I am creating...a peaceful home. Great memories for our little family.

I am hearing...the radio, DD#2 getting ready for work.

Noticing that…my attitude effects the attitudes of my whole family. If I greet them every mornig w/a smile, it goes a long way.

Pondering these words…"In as much as it depends on you, live in peace w/all men."

Around the house...CHRISTmas baking!

One of my favorite things...CHRISTmas baking! lol

A Scripture thought..."And Mary pondered all these things in her heart." ~Luke 2

A few plans for the rest of the week...last minute CHRISTmas 'doings', baking, DD#1 will be home for OUR family's little CHRISTmas doings on CHRISTmas Eve day, DH & I will be singing the special music at our CHRISTmas Eve service (!), CHRISTmas w/our extended families; tonight will the Alumni game w/the Miami Valley Saints - our awesome homeschool basketball team!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

A few favorites from our tree.

Enjoy other Daybooks at: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Friday, December 18, 2009

Homemade Glycerin Soap

I enjoy making my own health care, skin care and home care items. I'll post directions for such items as homemade toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, face wash, etc. in future posts. Today I'll show you how I make our homemade glycerin bar soap!

First, you will need a few basic items...

You will need: glycerin soap chunks, glass measuring cup, whisk, rubber spatula, water, extra virgin olive oil, fragrance/essential oils, botanicals/herbs.

Place several glycerin chunks in the glass measuring cup...

Melt chunks in microwave at 20 SECOND intervals until melted...

While your soap is melting, crush any botanicals/herbs you may want to add to your soap. In this case, I am crushing dried rosemary leaves; later I crushed a few lavender buds from some I grew last year & had hanging in my kitchen...

When soap is melted, pour into a mixing bowl and add your botanicals/herbs, any coloring you may want (I usually don't add coloring), 1-2 TB extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 TB cold water and fragrance/essential oils...

In this batch I'm also adding about 10-15 drops of rosemary essential oil and 10-15 drops of tea tree oil. Mix QUICKLY w/a whisk until soap is somewhat thick & frothy.
Pour into soap molds...

Remember...your soaps will not be the 'prettiest' at this point. The bottoms are a little 'rough' but you will trim the 'uglies' off when your soap has cured. Below, I have made 2 bars of lavender (upper left), 2 bars of gragefruit (my husband's shower favorite; lower left) & 4 bars of rosemary/tea tree (my shower favorite & what I sometimes put on the bathroom soap dish; right side).

After your soap has set in the molds for at least 30 minutes, turn them out onto a wire cooling rack to cure for 2 weeks.

You will notice that they are not 'pretty' on the edges. As I said before, you will trim the excess off the edges when they are cured and you are ready use or store them. Until I use them (or give them away) I wrap them in colored plasic wrap or brown paper gift wrap and tie w/raffia or brown or colored twine.

These are low-lather soaps and are particularly good for oilier skins w/o being drying to dry skin-types. Adding oatmeal makes them great for drier skins or even exfoliating normal skin-types. Adding coffee grounds that have been ground again (by you) is great as a gardener's or mechanic's soap. Adding a few drops of tea tree, rosemary & lavender makes a great soap for oily skin (if you prefer a bar soap instead of the face wash I made earlier from liquid Castile soap). Adding simply Vitamin E or extra virgin olive oil or a honey-almond fragrance is excellent for a bath soap for the whole family - good for the skin and even though it has a nice fragrance, it's not too girlie for the man of the house.

Let me know if you try this recipe. Enjoy!

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Firewood Tips ~ Old Farmer's Almanac

In December, lay in dry fuel, while the snow keeps off. –Old Farmer’s Almanac “Farmer’s Calendar,” 1796Firewood Tips

• One large log lasts two to three times longer than the same volume of smaller logs.

• To avoid insect pests, never store firewood on the ground touching your house.

• Burn only seasoned wood (seasoned logs seem light in weight and have dark ends with cracks).

• Wood-burning stoves are three times more efficient than standard fireplaces.

• For the prettiest flames, burn birch or maple.

• Ash makes great firewood. According to an old saying, “Ash new or ash old is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.”Find out which woods make great firewood! http://www.almanac.com

• Add a handful of pine or hemlock needles, rosemary sprigs, or sage branches to your next fire to add natural incense to the room.

Wood warms you thrice—when you chop it, when you stack it, when you burn it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Memories That Make You Go...Ahhhh...

While replying to an e-mail I was reminded of some wonderful memories from my childhood of the simpler ways of life...and a simpler time in my own life...childhood. Here are some of my favorite memories. I would LOVE to know some of yours...

~~My mom is the baby of 14 children (and I’m the 52nd of 52 grandchildren!) and her 2nd-oldest sister was the only one who never left the foothills and “hollers” of VERY RURAL east/central KY. I LOVED going to their house!! It was like visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder. My uncle built their little house (with the steps that went right into the wall…you had to almost jump either right or left into the room you wanted to go into) and raised 11 kids there. She didn’t have electricity until I was in grade school in the mid-60’s, or in-door plumbing until the mid-80’s – about 6 years before she died – and she still cooked on a huge black coal/wood-burning stove! There was NOTHING like her biscuits! They were as big as her saucers and were meals in themselves. Especially w/honey from their own hives.

~~This same uncle taught me how to milk cows by hand. When we would visit I'd go out to the barn with him every morning. He would always have me be very quiet and we would almost 'sneak' in...then he would quietly give me one of the buckes while he took another. He would signal "1...2...3" with his fingers and on "3" we would start shaking the buckets and CATS would absolutely EXPLODE out of every crevice of the barn! lol He would then squirt the cats in the face while he milked...that's what they were waiting for!

~~My gr-parents' back porch went right out onto a foothill that was COVERED in raspberry briars. My gr-pa and I would go out and pick quart baskets FULL and then we would go out to the front porch. I'd sit on his lap while he pretended to be a baby bird - opening his mouth up as wide as he could - and I would be the mommy bird and feed him. Hmmm...I think Gr-pa got the better end of the deal!

~~Sitting on the floor in front of my "Bigmom's" rocker and listening to her tell wonderful, funny stories about her childhood.

~~Summers at another uncle's house riding horses FOREVER!

~~Picking strawberries in a local patch (2 for the basket, 1 for me!) and then going home to pour them into a HUGE tub and picking off the stems late into the summer evening on our back porch. Lighting lanterns to work by and watching the fire-flies, owls and bats come out while the crickets and tree frogs sang to us.

~~Can't forget those wonderful summer nights with the windows open and the crickets and tree frogs singing me to sleep.

What about you?

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CHRISTmas Traditions at the Wolf House

See if this sounds familiar to you...

It's Christmas morning, the day we remember and celebrate our dear Saviour's birth. The alarm blares out an hour before any of the roosters roosting in the stable with the holy Babe would have dared to crow. You drag yourself out of bed and after starting the coffee-maker, setting out food to ready for all the different stops you will make today, you wake up each family member. Are you greeted this important day with, "Merry Christmas, Dear!"? Or, "Merry Christmas, Mommy!"? OR do the noises emanating from your family sound more like something that a bear family roused too early from hibernation would sound like? Makes you wonder if you should have skipped that beautiful candle-light Christmas Eve service last night, doesn't it?

But does it stop there? Oh, no. Once everyone is up and running, the kids dive down the stairs, rip open their presents, quick "thank you's" are passed around, and breakfast is eaten half-way between the kitchen and the car as we all pile in, stowing presents for extended family members (that probably won't be appreciated) and a collection of casserole dishes as we go.

And thus begins the long tour of various family members' homes. What a holiday.

This scenario became far too familiar at our house. Each Christmas morning I would become depressed. Not because of the rush, rush of getting everyone dressed, fed and packages ready; but because I would remember my childhood Christmas memories. We had plenty of time to open and enjoy our presents, play with our new toys, put things together, try on our new oufits, to laugh and...to make memories!

When our oldest was around five years old, my husband and I made the decision that we really did want our children to have their own Christmas memories at their own home! Since then, our family gets up on Christmas Eve morning and we make our own memories. We take our time and open our gifts; we ooo and ahhh and pass around our "thank you's" and hugs and kisses. My husband and I can relax and sip our coffee and watch the girls enjoy their presents while carols play in the background to remind us of our greatest Gift: Emmanuel, God with us.

Christmas 2008

Have any of you modified your Christmas schedule to make your own family memories? Tell us about them!

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Pantry Tins ~ Using What Ya Got!

Have your extended family & friends been "helping" you build your popcorn tin collection over the last several years? You know, those cute but big tins that hold so much yummy multi-flavored popcorn & other sweet treats? Space in your kitchen won't allow you to keep them all, but after you've used a few of your favorites for cute trash cans in your bedrooms & homeschool area, what are you supposed to do w/the rest?

I have a solution...

I collect antique & reproduction tins anyway...

so I think some of my family & friends know that I appreciate their gifts of large tins loaded w/goodies...and I DO...don't get me wrong. But some have cuter pictures than others (I will nearly ALWAYS keep the ones w/horses & farm scenes!) & others we just don't have room to keep. So...

Since I buy so much in bulk & I only have "so much" cabinet space & I need air-tight containers to keep my items fresh, I use my large pantry tins!

I have several, but these will do to give you an idea for using any you may have waiting to be used.

As I said, I'm a sucker for horses & farm scenes so I have tins that represent all 4 seasons in my kitchen...so don't be surprised if you see a lovely horse-drawn carriage in the snow during the summer months...

Like this...

Or like this...

Also notice that on the sides of the lids I have written what is in my tins. This has pasta...

The next larger, a large red cake tin, has noodles...

While my lovely snowy cabin tin (one of my favorites) stores my 10lb. sacks of flour.

Everything is snug & air-tight & ready to be transferred into my canisters for daily use.

There's nothing like something that's functional as well as pleasing. Makes kitchen work far more pleasant when you are among the things you enjoy.

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

HSLDA/Washington Times Op-Ed ~ Socialization NOT a Problem

Washington Times Op-ed—Socialization not a Problem

by J. Michael SmithHSLDA President

One of the most persistent criticisms of homeschooling is the accusation that homeschoolers will not be able to fully participate in society because they lack “socialization.” It’s a challenge that reaches right to the heart of homeschooling, because if a child isn’t properly socialized, how will that child be able to contribute to society?

Since the re-emergence of the homeschool movement in the late 1970s, critics of homeschooling have perpetuated two myths. The first concerns the ability of parents to adequately teach their own children at home; the second is whether homeschooled children will be well-adjusted socially.

Proving academic success is relatively straightforward. Today, it is accepted that homeschoolers, on average, outperform their public school peers. The most recent study, “Homeschool Progress Report 2009,” conducted by Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyed more than 11,000 homeschooled students. It showed that the average homeschooler scored 37 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests than the public school average.

The second myth, however, is more difficult to address because children who were homeschooled in appreciable numbers in the late 1980s and early 1990s are only now coming of age and in a position to demonstrate they can succeed as adults.

Homeschool families across the nation knew criticisms about adequate socialization were ill-founded—they had the evidence right in their own homes. In part to address this question from a research perspective, the Home School Legal Defense Association commissioned a study in 2003 titled “Homeschooling Grows Up,” conducted by Mr. Ray, to discover how homeschoolers were faring as adults. The news was good for homeschooling. In all areas of life, from gaining employment, to being satisfied with their homeschooling, to participating in community activities, to voting, homeschoolers were more active and involved than their public school counterparts.

Until recently, “Homeschooling Grows Up” was the only study that addressed the socialization of home-schooled adults. Now we have a new longitudinal study titled “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults” from the Canadian Centre for Home Education. This study surveyed homeschooled students whose parents participated in a comprehensive study on home education in 1994. The study compared homeschoolers who are now adults with their peers. The results are astounding.

When measured against the average Canadians ages 15 to 34 years old, home-educated Canadian adults ages 15 to 34 were more socially engaged (69 percent participated in organized activities at least once per week, compared with 48 percent of the comparable population). Average income for homeschoolers also was higher, but perhaps more significantly, while 11 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 34 rely on welfare, there were no cases of government support as the primary source of income for homeschoolers. Homeschoolers also were happier; 67.3 percent described themselves as very happy, compared with 43.8 percent of the comparable population. Almost all of the homeschoolers—96 percent—thought homeschooling had prepared them well for life.

This new study should cause many critics to rethink their position on the issue of socialization. Not only are homeschoolers actively engaged in civic life, they also are succeeding in all walks of life. Many critics believed, and some parents feared, that homeschoolers would not be able to compete in the job market. But the new study shows homeschoolers are found in a wide variety of professions. Being homeschooled has not closed doors on career choices.

The results are a great encouragement to all homeschooling families and to parents thinking about homeschooling. Homeschoolers, typically identified as being high academic achievers, also can make the grade in society.

Both “Homeschooling Grows Up” and “Fifteen Years Later” amply demonstrate homeschool graduates are active, involved, productive citizens. Homeschool families are leading the way in Canadian and American education, and this new study clearly demonstrates homeschool parents are on the right path.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to media@hslda.org.

Flaxseed Bread & Rolls

I have made my family's bread for quite a while . . . I can't imagine going back to store-bought bread on a regular basis. It just isn't the same. About 2 years ago I started reading up on women's health . . . both as a benefit for myself and my 2 daughters. One of the things that I discovered is that Omega 3's and lignans are vital to a woman's health . . . monthlies, skin, hair, nails, mood, etc. Some of the best places to find these are in fish, olive oil and flaxseed oil. We are not huge "fish fans" but I DO use olive oil in just about everything except baking sweets (then I use safflower oil).

I take a tablespoon of Flaxseed oil everyday. It's not a problem for me, but my daughters don't really like it. Since I wanted a way to fit more Flax into my family's diet I came up (by Divine inspiration, I'm sure) with putting Flaxseed Meal in my bread!! I also put it in my dinner roll recipe.

I used to mix and knead my bread dough by hand, but now I let my bread machine do it, then I let it do the last rise and then bake in a bread/loaf pan in my oven.

Here are my recipes that I have tweaked over the years...I hope you enjoy . . .

{2 lb. loaf}
1-1/3 c. hot water (the hotter, the better, but not boiling)
2 ts. butter (or margarine ~ I recommend Earth Balance, it is non-hydrogenated)
4 c. unbleached bread flour (I also enjoy 2 c bread flour & 2 c whole wheat)
1/4 c. flaxseed meal
1 TB. dough enhancer (**optional)
5 ts. sugar OR Sucanat (depends on your sweet-tooth)
1-1/2 ts. sea salt (OR Real Salt ~ remember that Real Salt is "saltier" than sea salt)
1 TB. (heaping) yeast (cold - kept in frig)

1) Add ingredients into your bread machine in order as listed above.

2) Use your finger or a measuring spoon to form a well (hole) in the mixture to pour the yeast into. NEVER let your yeast come into contact w/a liquid before mixing. NOTE ~ hot water & cold yeast will make your bread rise higher & more successfully; however, if it is raining on the day you bake your bread the rise will not be quite so high.

Set machine on "Dough." Mine will knead and rise for about 1-1/2 hours.

4) About 10 minutes before cycle is complete, set oven on "warm" to pre-heat. While oven is warming, spray or grease your loaf pan. After about 10 minutes, turn oven OFF. Take bread out of machine, punch down, shape into loaf and put in a loaf pan, set bread in oven and let rise for 45 minutes. You may cover w/a clean, light-weight dish towel if you wish.

5) REMOVE TOWEL, if used. Set oven at 375 degrees and bake bread for 27-30 minutes.



Same recipe ingredients as above.

Follow 1), 2) and 3) above.

4) Before cycle is complete, set oven on "warm" for 5-10 minutes. Then turn oven OFF. On a floured board, punch down and knead dough for about 5 minutes, shape into a ball and place on lightly floured cookie sheet, cover and let rise in warmed oven for 30 minutes.

Divide dough by placing 3 small rolled balls into each cup of a GREASED or SPRAYED muffin pan.

6) Cover w/clean, light-weight dish towel, if you wish. Let rise in warm oven for 30-45 minutes.

REMOVED TOWEL, if used. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

8) ENJOY!!
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