Christmas on the Homesteadish

Christmas on the homestead. Ish.


Am I allowed to call what we do a homestead?  I’m not sure.  Right now I don’t feel like we’re doing anything active.  And what defines a homestead anyway?  Alas, I digress.

I attempted a cleaned-up version of fudge today.  It was ok.  Honestly, we all will enjoy it, and my fellow real-foodies will, too, but for those not accustomed to coconut oil and its flavor… it’ll overwhelm.  I’ll still gift it as planned… but more likely to people who are used to that kind of thing.  I’m going to keep trying this week.  Next up is a maple walnut and a chocolate peppermint.  I have hope. ;-)

There are no presents under the Christmas tree.  20161220_064213

Fear not, I haven’t turned into a grinch… I just can’t put them there for keeping because my fierce protector Izzie thinks they are toys.  She actually got ahold of one present, completely ripped off the wrapping paper, and buried it in her blankets in her crate.  She’s a smart cookie.


Needless to say, the tree feels naked and my room doesn’t feel complete.  It’s probably the biggest reason I’m excited… my girls have no idea how much they’re going to have their socks knocked off.

Not that it’s all about presents.  I mean, we all know that.  But y’all, I have no guilt or shame in saying I love giving gifts.  Gift-giving is my love language.  This is my season.  This is my TIME. I wish I could afford or excuse constant shopping for others, but since I can’t, this is it.  I’m going to go big or go home.

We have more surprises in store for them than just presents.  But that’s another post for another time….

We are thinking forward.  We’ve got a bulk of the supplies necessary for doing our own maple syrup.  The little corner of our garage is gathering speed this last month. We did dabble in it last year, but this year we have the pans, the stove… the real deal.  There’s a part of me that feels a little in the twilight zone when we get stuff together like this.  I can’t believe that we’re actually DOING this.  Doing this crazy DIY, make your own/know your food thing.

Which of course brings us to the other burning question… chickens.  No, butchering my own chickens and processing them did not scare me off from doing this again. The bigger concerns are improvements to our current system, the cost of those improvements… and just that the right cash is there when we need it for the annual costs.  I reaaaalllly want to do layers, but that’s even more complicated.  The landscape of our property is tricky and we’re near a major road (while the speed limit is 55, I’m certain most are going 60-70 mph).  I want them to free range, I need to be able to get to them in the winter. I’d like electricity out there for the negative temp days and keeping the waterer thawed.


But the other underlying issue with the chickens is that a large part of these projects are MINE.  We’re still in process with diagnosis and how to fix my medical predicament.  And as we weigh what types of lifestyle changes we may have to make in the next year, will we have the upfront costs available? And depending on the treatment and how long it takes me to find a new normal, will I have the time and energy to manage them? I am so vehemently against randomly taking on animals without counting the cost.  I am not going to take them on and then find out I can’t care for them and have to give them away. Or sell them. Or whatever.  I firmly believe God gave us a huge and humbling responsibility when He asked us to care for creation, and not being wise and responsible without having the intent to care for them well is a sin. (#sorrynotsorry  … lack of stewardship is a problem. Knowing the right thing to do and not doing it is just as much a problem as knowing the wrong thing to do and doing it regardless.) (Another parantheses… just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with knowing when it’s time to rehome an animal.  Sometimes, that’s just as wise and responsible.  But taking them on willy-nilly is not cool.  We’ve been here before, and lots of lessons learned.)

So as it pains me – no really, it does – I am aware there is a strong possibility I may not being doing any chickens this year.  I cannot take care of all of these things and my family if I’m not taking care of me.  Think of that airplane mask thing… put the mask first on yourself.  And that’s for good reason – you can’t care for others if you’re starving for oxygen.  And mama can’t care for chickens and cook dinner and love her children the way they deserve if she’s so pained she can’t move.

These are my Christmas thoughts… because Christmas is going to come steam-rolling in and we’ll be in the new year and thinking and praying and deciding these kinds of heavy things. (By the way, pray for us, ok? We need loads of wisdom!)

It’s like a blank canvas. Christmas speaks hope and joy. A time when God does something new.  It’s appropriate that it falls during our darkest literal days, and right before we begin a new calendar year.

God’s got something new.


(P.S. – obviously taken before the onslaught of snow :) )


Ticks are Gross

(*Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, vet, nurse or any type of medical professional. The thoughts expressed here are just my opinion and as a result of months on reading about ticks. And yes. I read an ungodly amount. Keep reading to find out why.)

We have a puppy now.  She’s a big puppy… one-quarter Great Dane, one-quarter (black) Lab, and one-half Blue Heeler.  Her full name is Isabella Cocoa Macri (another story for another time) and we call her Izzie.  Or as I often call her… Izzie Busy.


(This is her in September at a mere 9 weeks old. She’s now over 4 months.)

Much like parents of human children, we think our puppy is just the smartest. However… she is still a dog. An animal.  An animal that sniffs and eats disgusting things outside and then walks in our house and wants to french kiss.

Our house had a brief and terrible run-in with ticks.


It completely grosses me out to even share this pic.

No seriously, it does.  When one appears in our house on the dog or a human, it’s all I can do to not throw up and force dear husband Lance to remove it. (I did have to remove one once from a child when he was out working. It was dreadful. *shiver*)  We live in the country, nearly in the woods… so these suckers are just a fact of life.

Now, rest assured… Izzie has been de-ticked. We’re taking care of her, using our best solutions to deter further ticks. The biggest deterrence nowadays is the snow outside :) And, in case you’re wondering whatever has been going on with my health, please know that in the battery of exams and labs, I have been tested for Lyme’s disease and I’m 100% negative.

I share this picture with you because I just can’t stop thinking about them. They’re little blood-suckers… but what’s the harm? They attach, and then what? Most humans don’t even feel them burrow in. We only tend to notice when running our hands over skin that used to be smooth and now there’s a little tag.

But they don’t. They don’t just attach and then you’re never bothered again.  They transmit diseases, and more than just Lyme’s disease.  They’ll fill up with blood – and eventually get so engorged living off you they’ll fall off. Then go lay some eggs or do some other form of procreating.  And they leave YOU with whatever disease they were carrying.

If there’s any good news here, it’s that a) not all ticks are carrying diseases and b) sometimes your body will fight off whatever invaders on its own without you even knowing. Thank God for your immune system.

This is probably some sort of cathartic post for me. A conquer my fears. I hate these nasties. No really, I do.

Who wants to take the chance by leaving a tick… just there? So it doesn’t feel like it’s causing a problem. Besides… it might itch after you remove it. But does that mean we don’t deal with it?  I think we all know this is a silly rhetorical question because the answer is a resounding, NO.

So here’s the reason I keep thinking about them.

We leave “ticks” attached to our heart and soul. Y’all, we do this all the time.  We have these little things that are literally sucking the life force from us. They don’t itch, they don’t bother us, so we just leave them alone.  And maybe someday they fall off, but what they leave in their wake is worse than a tiny itching wound.

Call it bad habits. Bitterness. Envy. Resentment. Bondage and addiction to something so small there’s no harm and no way anyone will ever be affected. Wrong.

What are these little things leaving behind? A sour relationship can leave you with bitterness. Causing the disease of discord, not trusting others, and refusing to participate in community. (And by the way, if you think God didn’t intend us to be relational… you’ve missed the point of the entire Old Testament, Greatest Commandments from Jesus and the Great Commission. He’s big on intimate relationships. Not fluff and stuff, but hard and real and in your face.)  That one, off-to-the-side relationship that seems off-kilter and no-big-deal can cause long-term issues with your ability to relate and be relatable.

And that’s only one example on a “tick” that attaches and causes problems. Bad habits lead to poor stewardship with your money and time. An unhealthy adoration for food also can drain the bank, but also sucks energy from you and puts you in improper perspective with your body and your obligations to care for it. Envy and jealousy can lead to buying stuff you don’t need (aside from the relational discord).

This is a strong case for pointing one finger out and all the rest of the fingers are pointing back at me. I’m convicted of these tiny things. I’m a notorious user of the phrase, “It’s no big deal.” (You can ask Lance.) The problem is, all those tiny deals equal one big deal. Those tiny decisions to ignore lead to long-term disease and death.  They equal one person who’s distant and angry and unable to relate to the community in which he/she is placed. (By the way, God’s sovereign over that, too, in case you were wondering. Don’t know why you are where you are? Talk to God about it.) Your ticks affect everyone around you.

We are in an open battle where souls are at stake. There is nothing Satan would love more is paralyzed and inefficient Christians because then they aren’t doing their end of the bargain of following Him and the Great Commission. Those ticks on our soul rob us of our ability to be fully functioning committed believers of Jesus and lovers of the people He loved.

When you’re faced with one that’s stealing your life force and leaving behind disease, remove it. Don’t let it sit and continue to do damage.

Eugene Patterson writes his paraphrase on James 1:19-25:

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

Chances are, you already know what’s slowing eating at your soul. Be good to yourself, your relationships, and your God and deal with it. Write them out, pray it out, confess it and ask for help. Figure what’s causing issues and what can be done to move towards healing.

P.S. – Just in case you’re wondering, I let Izzie be the featured image here. Because God knows I don’t want to look at this post in a rolling feed and see those nasty things. So a sweet puppy it is.

Hard Stuff & Freedom

This year was HARD.

We raised meat chickens (butchered them ourselves). Settled into a home. Fundraised and WENT to Haiti for a week. Struggled with high drama in several relationships.  Oh, and at work, I consistently put in 50-60 hours. Per week. For months.


So yeah…. hard.

Call it disease, call it stress… it almost doesn’t matter… my body has been on a slow decline for the last year. We’re in the process of figuring out a plan on how to deal with these medical issues, but for now… I’ve had to slow down. Which again… is hard. (Did you read the list of hard stuff? No room for slowin’ down there.)

I went gluten-free to deal with one issue, and in some ways – along with medical intervention – that one specific issue has improved.  But it didn’t eliminate any migraines or any other ailments.  In fact… it all just continued slowly to get worse.

I’m going to be honest, it’s incredibly frustrating.  As someone who doesn’t even let soy come into her home, as someone who has sanitized GMOs from her family’s diet… I feel a wee bit cheated.  I feel like I did the right thing by our diets, and I’ve had new issues creep up instead.

I didn’t want to come here and write about all the success I’ve had in the kitchen.  Well, because I HAVEN’T. Aside from my enthusiasm and proselytizing about healthy food being reduced, I positively didn’t have the energy. My kids have eaten so many sandwiches it’s ridiculous.  I gave up making bread.  I just COULDN’T anymore.  My body didn’t have it in me.  It’s a struggle to muster up the energy to do anything but the bare minimum… and I’m talking also about cleaning toilets and washing clothes. And this isn’t even touching on writing.

I felt as if I couldn’t come here and talk about these things because a) it wasn’t food related and part of the whole “eat-better” message I’ve been so intent on and b) it wasn’t encouraging.  One of my biggest gripes about social internet presence is those that use it just to complain and garner pity. This wasn’t going to be what the blog was about.  So, instead… I just chose not to write.

I miss it, though.  I miss putting all my thoughts together into one space. Woven into all my past posts was my heart.  Things I was enjoying.  Things I was doing.  The problem of course is that I just wasn’t cooking as much in the last several months (almost a year) and I didn’t know how to relate my writing to the mission of encouraging those around me to eat well.

So, this blog is going to change.  I’m not going to delete it and undo anything.  But I feel it needs to be relabeled, and to include a mission and title that’s more about me, my heart, and not so specific on food.  (Don’t worry, as much as the energy level has decreased, I still LOVE to eat!! So food’s still up there.)  I also have other things beating in my heart… I often end up writing tiny blurbs on my personal facebook page, but I think it makes more sense to combine this all in a blog.  And Foodies Gone Real doesn’t necessarily fit.

I want to do what God’s called me to do well.  I have never doubted He’s called me to write encouragement.  Things will change because I want freedom – freedom to write as God calls, and not just bound up on what type of diet encouragement.

And don’t we all want freedom?


July & The Plan

So, I’m trying something new.  Well, I’ve tried it once before, but I think I failed to have the proper plan in place or resources to pull it off.

I’m planning for about one month’s worth of meals.

Now, I’ll be the first to say, this isn’t for everyone.  First off, if you get paid on a weekly or biweekly basis, pulling off “large” “for the month” kind of purchases can be tricky or down-right impossible.  I have loads, and loads, and LOADS of weekly meal plans, so please peruse them here! We get paid twice a month … and this is a different animal.

So how did I come to the conclusion it was time to try this again?

First off, I had a great conversation on the facebook page with a follower about what it takes to do a monthly meal plan.  That got the wheels turning.  I sat down and calculated – how many pounds of ground beef do I typically go through in a month? How about chickens?

Then, I started thinking about how the other needs come into the house.  I buy bulk grains like Einkorn from Jovial, and rolled oats and steel-cut oats in bulk from Wholeshare.  (Wholeshare is unique for New York state, but there are loads and loads of options per locality/state!) I participate in a CSA, and shares are distributing… I don’t have control over what I get, and I pay for it throughout the year. (Just an FYI – my annual CSA fees reduce my monthly food budget as I often freeze/preserve the share to use later in the year, but obviously there are some things that I eat up fresh, like lettuce.) So I’m getting regular vegetables.  Even my grass-fed cow’s butter from Kriemhild is bought in bulk (5# buckets, baby!) So why not try to come up with a plan for how much we eat in a month and then order and shop according to that?

So, I did it.  I wrote out what I expect we’ll consume for the month.  As someone who lives on a grocery budget, it wasn’t all that hard because I’m usually thinking forward and trying to anticipate how to get through the whole month anyway.  If you don’t ever pay attention to what and how much you consume, I would start there before trying to do any sort of monthly meal plan.  Primarily because you wouldn’t know where to start!  Start the first couple of months just keeping small notes on what you did and how much you spent. (For example, how many loaves of bread did you need? Pounds of butter?)  I’ll write up another post sometime on how to create a workable food budget, but for now ;-) that should help you get started.

A couple of notes here:  obviously, there are not 30 options listed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Realfoodists MUST DO LEFTOVERS. There’s no way around it.  Unless you are going to cook from scratch in tiny portions 3 times a day (not very practical if you’ve got other stuff to do)… you have to expect to eat some things twice.  If you’ve been preparing food for your family for any length of time, you know what keeps well and what doesn’t.  What does your family like on day #2 or gets shoved to the back of the fridge to become a science experiment (not that it EVER happens to ANY of us, right? *sarcasm*).

So, off we go on the monthly meal plan!


Breakfast Breadish:
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Einkorn Cinnamon Muffins (no link here as it’s from a cookbook)
Sprouted Blueberry Muffins from Holistic Squid
Soaked Flour Biscuits from The Elliott Homestead
Gluten-Free Biscuits
Einkorn Waffles
Soaked English Muffins from The Elliott Homestead
Homemade Granola + Yogurt
French Toast (no recipe, just some common sense!)
Coconut Flour Pancakes from Ditch the Wheat

Breakfast Meats: eggs (3xs a week), (1-2xs a week)bacon, (1xs a week) cottage bacon, (1-2xs a week) Homemade Breakfast Sausage from The Prairie Homestead (make it in bulk, freeze in smaller bags, thaw when you need it!)

Breakfast Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. We also will use onions, garlic scapes, tomatoes and other veggies we get in CSA sometimes in our eggs


A lot of dinner leftovers. Very few things are made just for lunch, it’s often a pull from something already made.  I make a loaf of bread per week (at least).

Tuna Salad
Egg Salad
Cobb Salad from The Elliott Homestead
Grain-Free Sandwich Wraps from Real Food Outlaws (used for sandwiches and quesadillas!)
Homemade yogurt
Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwiches (mostly for the girls, I’m a whimp and don’t buy much GF breads! I usually just smear some Peanut Butter on an apple and call it)
Macaroni & Cheese.  Sometimes homemade, sometimes from a box (but when it’s from a box, it’s as clean as we can find!). And this is why you don’t get any judgment from me on convenience foods.  Friends, we all lllooooovvvveee them and have a few we aren’t really willing to give up.  This is mine.  I grew up on boxed stuff!
Hot dogs (nitrite/nitrate free!)
Other leftover breadish stuff from breakfasts

I make this bread at least once a week: Soaked Bread from The Elliott Homestead (It is NOT gluten-free. I do not indulge.)

Lunch Vegetables & Fruits: will use the fruit we get every other week from CSA share, apples, bananas, frozen blueberries, jarred fruit, smoothies. Whatever fresh veggies we get on share from CSA.  We eat loads of cucumbers and carrots for lunches, too. (About 1-2#s of baby carrots a week!)


Grilled Steak
Skirt Steak for Fajitas
Cube or Thin Sliced Steak for Paleo Fried Steaks (no recipe. Maybe someday!)
Spicy Honey  ChickenThighs
Chicken Thighs Cooked in Italian Sauce (twice)
Shredded BBQ Chicken (will use Chicken legs, with this BBQ Sauce)
Grilled Chicken Breast (not sure on marinade yet)
Grilled chicken and Shrimp kebobs (not sure on marinade yet… will probably depend on what types of onions we get in CSA)
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Hamburgers (twice)
Italian Meatballs (homemade. someday, I’ll post!)
Beef Skillet with Potatoes and Greens from The Elliott Homestead
Sloppy Joes
Korean Beef from The Elliott Homestead
Italian Sausage (1/2 #, cooked in red sauce… will do this twice)
Ham Steak – 2xs
Hot dogs
Hot dogs or other Sausage
Bacon (breakfast for dinner)

Dinner Side Dishes (Breadish)
Side of fresh bread/garlic bread/butter bread
Gluten-Free Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (still working on the recipe!)
Baked/mashed potatoes
Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potato casserole from The Hollywood Homestead
Roasted potatoes (cooked like roasted carrots)
Sauteed potatoes 
Al dente pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil
Gluten-Free pasta cooked with red sauce
Fried Rice
Butter + rice
Macaroni & Cheese
Beans + Rice

Dinner Side Dishes (Veggies-Ish)
Cabbage Stir Fry
Roasted Carrots
Side Salads – Cobb, or Blue Cheese + dried cranberry + pecan
Steamed veggies (frozen mostly broccoli, cauliflower, green beans)
Fresh carrots + cucumbers
Sauteed peppers and onions
Roasted Tomatoes + mozzarella
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Meal Plan: 6/26 – 7/2

Can I just be real here for a minute?

(Haha.. I made a funny… this is Foodies Gone Real, afterall.)

I am really hating this last week of the month.  I try not to focus on it too much (just a “yay” for resourcefulness and when the budget officially resets).  I tried the envelope system – where I have so much money per week – but 1) I order stuff online (Wholeshare, SideHill Meats) and 2) Often these things need to be ordered by a certain time, and will give me more food than just what is for the week in which it hits my budget.  So that’s not a workable thing for me.

Anyone want to share some tips on how to not feel so desperate the last week? And no, going “off” budget is not really an option…

Ok, enough griping.  This is what I came up with this week:

Breakfast: cereal; eggs + garlic scapes and tomatoes
Lunch: chicken in red sauce, cranberry+pecan+blue cheese salad (ravioli for those so inclined)
Dinner:  turkey roll ups with this grain-free wrap from Real Food Outlaws, strawberries, radish + cottage cheese for me
Snacks, Other: chocolate roasted walnuts, making homemade mint ice cream (someday I’ll get to posting the recipe for this!)

MONDAY (I’m cooking earlier in the day on my lunch break to beat the heat, and also I’m teaching bible study in the evening so it’s just as well)
Breakfast: bacon, zucchini bread by Well Plated
Lunch: Greek meatballs (beef+feta+fresh oregano), side salads, roasted potatoes + garlic scapes, blueberries + whipped cream
Dinner: quesadillas with this grain-free wrap from Real Food Outlaws, salsa, sour cream
Snacks, Other: soaking oats for oatmeal, soak flour for English Muffins from The Elliott Homestead

Breakfast: oatmeal, homemade breakfast sausage from The Prairie Homestead, pineapple+beet+carrot juice
Lunch: leftover quesadillas, blueberries + whipped cream, homemade English Muffins
Dinner:  Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, (making GF pasta) smoothies, side salads
Snacks, Other:

Breakfast: English Muffins, scrambled eggs + garlic scapes and tomatoes, fruit of choice
Lunch: radish + cottage cheese for me, Leftover Alfredo
Dinner:  Apple chicken sausage, macaroni + cheese, side salads/cucumber slices
Snacks, Other: Weekly popcorn night :)

Breakfast: leftover oatmeal, scrambled eggs/sausage, blueberries + whipped cream
Lunch: large cobb salad with bacon
Dinner: steak, potatoes, side salads

Breakfast: coconut flour pancakes from Ditch the Wheat with blueberries, scrambled eggs
Lunch: leftovers! PB&J as needed to fill in
Dinner: more leftovers, will rely on large cobb salads as necessary (but I gotta get out of the house and do my grocery shopping!!)
Snacks, Other: soak flour for bread from The Elliott Homestead

Breakfast: Einkorn Muffins (not sure yet what, but will be pulling from Jovial’s cookbook), scrambled eggs, blueberries + whipped cream
Lunch: fresh bread, carrots/cucumber slices, fresh fruit of choice
Dinner: Brined/grilled chicken (my recipe in progress!), GF cheese + garlic biscuits (my own recipe! work in progress), veggies (will see what we get from CSA this week!)

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