Shopping Online For Your Homestead

Mail Boxes

Our Mail Boxes

 

Shopping online is the norm for a good share of the population now. I grew up addicted to mail order much to the annoyance of my mother. She would say, “You could get it faster shopping at the store in town.”I did not let that deter me. We would have have to go to the bank or post office for a money order. Then send the order out with the money order. The first item I remember purchasing through the mail was a doll that was on the back of the cereal box. She was three dollars and I saved up that money myself. My father gave me a quarter every morning for my school lunch and I would get a nickel back. I saved those nickels for that doll. That must have been around 1959 and I still have that doll. Back then mail order companies charged shipping based on the amount of your order. Made no sense to me since a small diamond ring would cost less to ship but the price could be extremely high if you bought a good one. Some included a handling charge as well. I’d wait patiently for my order. Often it took a good two months before it would arrive. It didn’t matter, I was hooked on shopping that way and I have always shopped from catalogs my whole life. So transitioning to shopping online was automatic for me.

Alice Boxes

Shopping at Alice

Now shopping online is much faster that it was to order from a catalog. I still shop from catalogs that come in the mail, but after finding what I want I go to their website to order. I like the fact that I can find the size, color or variety of whatever I am looking for. If you can’t find it on one site, you can “Google it” and instantly find another that carries it. Once I embraced online shopping I never looked back. The website, Alice, is the site I first used for household items. I don’t think they sold groceries. I bought pet foods, personal care and household cleaning products there. I loved it! I thought Alice was too good to be true though. They had free shipping no matter how much you bought. So if you bought one little item for less than five bucks, it shipped free. I knew they had to be losing money on those sales. Later on they changed to free shipping on fifty dollar orders. Eventually they charged a nominal fee on all orders. The next time after that, their site was gone. I was disappointed to say the least. I really liked them, but I have heard that they went bankrupt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shipping is what did them in.

Delivery Truck

Refrigerator Delivery

Amazon enticed me constantly offering deals for signing up to their Prime program. Finally I succumbed to their ads and emails. I am very pleased I did. Now I would not want to be without it. My husband has his own Amazon account and I was able to connect my Prime account to his. He buys a lot of tools, hardware, parts and components for our alternative energy system. We even bought our refrigerator there. Most anything we are looking for is available on Amazon and ships free and comes quickly…..IF they are available through Prime. If not, it might not ship as quickly. That is not saying that I won’t buy a product I want if it is not Prime. Sometimes I do pay for shipping from a seller other than Amazon, but shopping online is easy using Prime. I usually check the questions asked about the product on the listing. Many times someone has asked a question about exactly what I want to know about it. If you have have a question that has not been asked, you can ask it before you buy. That way you will know if you want to buy it or not. Buying food there is the best because you can just put in the search box what you are looking for. Such as organic, Non-GMO, sugar-free, low-carb, gluten-free or whatever. I have bought many foods that I cannot find in my local stores. If you do not want to buy imported products Amazon gives you that information in the listing. If it is not there, usually in the questions section, that will have been asked by someone.

MP3 Player

My MP3 Player

The reviews are not as reliable, they should not be trusted one hundred percent. When I study the reviews, many one star reviews are written by a buyer who has a complaint with the seller, not the product. Or their item arrived damaged in shipping and they blame the product. Instead of returning it for a replacement they cry and whine about it. Return it and get a replacement! Often a review is rated one star due to the seller not shipping it fast enough. Again that is a seller issue and you can leave that feedback on the seller’s page. That is not the fault of the product or manufacturer. Another type of one star review is when a buyer purchases an item and does not understand or know how to use it. Many times I have purchased items, including books, that have one star reviews and have been very happy with them. I wonder what were those reviewers talking about? Recently I purchased an AGPTEK MP3 player. After putting in a number of my albums on it and using it almost nightly, I really loved it. One night I turned it on and was disappointed to find it wouldn’t work. It was all messed up and I couldn’t even turn it off. Instead of a bad review, I contacted the seller and received a reply almost right away. She told me what to do and it fixed it. If it happens again, I know what to do now. Good sellers make shopping online so much nicer!

Green Mountain Gringo

One of the products I buy from Netrition

Grocery shopping online is such a time saver for me. I can’t get around like I used to so shopping from my computer really helps. I shop online for almost everything we use except for fresh produce and meat. Netrition is one of my favorite places to shop. I have been shopping there since 2009. Basically it is a health food store, carrying a large variety of organic foods and supplements. I discovered many brands that I had never heard of before. Their shipping charges are $6.99 for orders under $99.00 and free if over $99.00. My orders are normally pretty heavy since most organic foods still come in glass jars and bottles. Glass? Yes, glass is rare these days and I prefer it. Don’t worry about the shipping though. Netrition’s shipping department is the best there is. Every item is securely wrapped, making it a bubble wrap pillow or envelope around the product. Each item is packaged separately so they do not bang against each other in shipping. If I order early enough in the day, my order will be here the next day or the day after.

Damaged Walmart Order

Damaged in shipping! From Walmart!

The last couple of years I have started ordering from Walmart. too. Now their prices are great as usual……BUT their shipping department needs some work. Well actually a lot of work. So far it has been the worst I have ever dealt with. My first order came quickly and nothing damaged, but that was just plain luck. They packed the products all together in a box with no protection at all. The second time I ordered from them, I had a large order of over a hundred dollars and I waited and waited for it to arrive. Finally I sent them a message about it and they replied back that it was damaged in shipping so UPS sent it back to them. They refunded my credit card and that was that. They never sent me a message to tell me that had happened or that they were refunding my card. They just canceled my order and forgot to let me know. Now I did not like that one bit, but I let it pass.

Keystone Pork

Keystone Pork was damaged!

My last order must have had the jar of sun-dried tomatoes break because it was not in the box and the tea bags were all damp and smelled like the tomatoes. The cans of food were all dented and beat up. The main reason I started shopping there was for the Keystone meats since they always have them and at a good price. They are not available in my local Walmart or any store in my area. If they were, probably not at the price I get them from Walmart. I called them and they were very nice and replaced everything that was damaged and told me not to send them back. They were still usable, but they could not sell them to another customer. So I got extra for my trouble. I got my jar of sun-dried tomatoes too! I will keep shopping there as it is very convenient for me. I am sure that Walmart will improve their shipping department over time. They have to if they want to compete online. One other thing I wanted to mention about Walmart is that their disclaimer on their site says they can’t verify where each product originated from since they have so many distributors and manufacturers. I can understand that too. They have been offering various discounts on shipping so that can change at any time, including free 2 day shipping and a discount if you order online and pick it up at your local store. So more to come from them!

Damaged in shipping Tea Bags

My tea bags arrive damp and beat up!

A couple of months ago, I experimented with shopping at Rite Aid. Big mistake on my part, not their’s. I thought the products I purchased were normal sizes and they were almost all travel sizes! Too much spent on items I can buy locally at cheaper prices for full sizes. I have bought at other sites over the years but these are my main shopping sites for now. Be careful on sizes of items so not to be disappointed like I was on the Rite Aid order. Shop around a bit too. I often buy items on eBay and have certain sellers I go back to time and again. If I have a good experience with them I follow them and when I shop on eBay go directly to their store or listings. For the most part I am happy with shopping online and it does save me a lot of time and money. Yes, money too! I don’t buy extras I see on the way out of the grocery store. Buying electronics, automotive parts and components for our solar and wind system has worked great for us too.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Our Thoroughbred Horses

Thoroughbred Horses

Our Three Horses

Our Thoroughbred horses, one who is 22 years old and two who are 21 years old, causes you to think they are too old to want to get out of their fence anymore. Being content to just be lazy and enjoy their barn and paddock. They seem that way, until spring comes around. Spring causes our three mares to act silly and immature. Well, not Tawny, so much. She is part Thoroughbred and Shetland pony and seems to have the most sense. The other two, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow are registered Thoroughbreds and half sisters, sharing the same father. They were bred for racing at a horse racing farm. Tawny is their niece, their brother being her father. Thoroughbreds are known for their spirit, and yes, our girls certainly have that. When we first got them, we used to be concerned that someone might try to steal them when we were not home. We live in the middle of the state forest in a very secluded area. Once we got to really know them, we used to laugh and say, “We’d come home to some dead guy out in the paddock after he tried to put one of those girls in a trailer!” Yes, that would be a fact.

Boss Mare

Georgie Girl in 2000

When we brought them home from the farm where they were raised, where we were working, Georgie Girl, who had been raced and trailered often, refused to get into the trailer. Bill, the owner, put a rope on the ground behind her, she looked at him and the rope, then at me, and just pranced right up the ramp onto the trailer. She appeared to say, “I trust you. If you want me to get on this trailer, I will for you.” I never knew what he intended to do with the rope. Dark Shadow had never been on a trailer nor away from the farm. She had a huge crush on my husband. He just led her onto the trailer next to Georgie and she followed. Now that makes it sound like she is a quiet, well behaved horse, which was not the case. She was wilder than any of the stallions on the farm! She had never been worked with at all. She was definitely devoted to Larry and would do what he wanted her to do. Sometimes he had to work hard to get her to follow along, but in the end she would trust him and give to him.

Shetland Thoroughbred Cross

Tawny

Tawny didn’t come here till a couple of years later. For the first two years, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow were not only sisters, but best friends. Still to this day, they are completely devoted to each other. Though Georgie is the boss mare, when she rules over Dark Shadow, that means Tawny will pay. Tawny being the smallest and last horse here, is at the bottom of the herd. So if Dark Shadow gets mad because Georgie has taken her hay away or some other reason, she will come looking for Tawny. I hate that it turns out that way for Tawny who wasn’t doing anything, but minding her own business. But that is way of the horse herd. Tawny will stand up to Georgie, but not Dark Shadow. Dark Shadow acts young and is very spirited and is quite the talker. She will yell out in the middle of the night, and at first it would worry me. I’d jump out of bed in a flash and run outside. Now I know that is her way. She will scream at Tawny or sometimes even at Georgie. That is the Thoroughbred horse way. After all, they are considered to be “hot-blooded” and bred to be spirited and bold and our two are definitely that.

Thoroughbred Horses

Sisters

The first stalks of green grass were poking through the lawn the other day and tempting Georgie Girl something awful. Here I was, sitting at my computer and when I look up, I see outside the bathroom window………a horse head! Uh oh! Out we go to find three horses running and bucking around in the yard. Well it seemed that Georgie was leaning into the fence trying to get the grass and the fence came down. I got Georgie and Tawny into the barn about to go through the gate to the paddock, when Dark Shadow comes around the side of the barn and doesn’t see either of them. She screams a loud horse scream……….out of the barn runs Georgie with Tawny on her heels. Needless to say, I was not successful getting them in. My husband managed to get them back inside and quieted down. They had torn up our yard since it wasn’t cold that day and the ground was soft. Now this morning it is very cold and the torn up ground was difficult for me to walk on. Hopefully, they won’t be getting out again!

Horse tracks

Horse Tracks

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Meat Can Be A Big Expense

Raw Beef

Meat can be a frugal choice!

Meat can be a big expense if you do not raise your own livestock. We do not. I would have a large amount of pets and an empty freezer if I did! LOL Well, not exactly, since we do not have freezer, but you know what I mean. Some people can do it and some don’t want to. Yes, I know where meat comes from that is sold in the stores. How come people have such a problem with you not raising your own livestock for meat, but they don’t grow their own wheat for baking? I always say, do what you can or want to do, but please do not force YOUR views on others! If you are following a low carb food plan than meat is an even bigger expense. Fresh produce makes up half of the low carb plan, meat and dairy are about one-fourth each. It doesn’t help that our house rabbit, known as “Rabbit” eats a great deal of the fresh greens we grow, or buy from the store. We try to buy organic as much as possible, if available. Winter is tough though and especially around here. 

rabbit eating wild foods

Wild Foods

Since we heat with wood and have no other type of heating, our house gets pretty cold at night when the wood stove is banked back. Starting plants has always been difficult for me. My houseplants barely survive the winter. I am experimenting with some salad greens and herbs right now since our temperatures have been unseasonably warm for New York state. This morning we spotted our first robin of the year and they are never here this early. I usually look for them around the fifteen of March, not the first. I am not complaining though. We have a pretty large population of robins living here for most of the year. I hope it is a good sign that spring will be early this year.

cows

Livestock raised for food.

Because we do not raise livestock for food, what can we do about the meat supply? Well, you can always become a vegetarian, though that is not for me. I have tried it, but I am used to eating meat since I have had it my whole life. Also since I do so much better eating low carbs, I want to eat it. It satisfies you more than vegetables. One of the ways around the high price of meat in the stores is to purchase a supply from a local farmer. If you have a freezer to store it, you can usually get a much better price directly from the farmer who raised it. I think once you buy it that way, you will not want to go back to buying it in a store again. Another way to get an affordable amount of meat is to buy it in bulk when your stores have it on sale. I do that. Except I can it, instead of freezing it. The main reason I do not freeze it is because we do not have a freezer. Not even a small one. Our refrigerator doesn’t have one. But even if I had a freezer, most of my meat and foods I store, I would can. Freezers can break. Canned meats taste much better and will last years as long as it is properly canned with a pressure canner. My husband calls it fast food. Canned jars of meats or chili and stews are super fast to cook and serve. We love them.

Canned Beef

Canned Beef

I normally purchase our meat from a local restaurant supply store. I can get good deals on meat there, as well as produce. Their food is top quality and I have never been unhappy with anything I bought there. Canning a supply of meat and broth can make preparing meals, not only frugal, but easier. The meat is already cooked so you just have to put the recipe together and heat it. Jars of broth make gravy and soup preparing a snap. After I have finished canning the meat, I add more hot water to it, season it and now have number of jars of broth to can. These are like gold! They add such flavor and store bought bouillon or broths don’t even come close to the flavor.


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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Lasagna Cooked Outside

Cast iron skillet on open fire

Cooking over an open fire

Lasagna cooked outside is the only way I usually cook it. It is easy to put together and in fact, you can make it the day before and refrigerate it for cooking over a fire. I like to put the pan on a good bed of coals and just let it cook slowly all day. Better keep an eye out though, an outside fire can burn it pretty fast without you even knowing it is that hot. It is a good dish to use a cheap type of meat in, or no meat, if you wish. Sometimes I find a package of bones with a tiny bit of meat left on them at the meat counter that is very cheap. I want the flavor of the meat and don’t necessarily need the meat itself.

Raw Pork Bones

Raw Pork Bones

Brown ground meat in your skillet, or if using meat bones, put them in your skillet or Dutch oven and cover with water. Let it simmer, covered, for an hour or so till tender. Then split the bones apart and scrape and cut the meat off them.

Sauce:

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 4 ounce can tomato paste
1 clove crushed garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
2 beef bouillon cubes

Pour the sauce ingredients into the skillet that you simmered the meat in, leaving the water that it was boiled in and heat. Then add the meat and simmer for an hour or more. The longer it simmers the better it gets. If you are using ground meat, drain the grease off first. If you want to get more grease off, rinse the meat with water and drain or pat dry with a paper towel. I only do that if the ground meat is really greasy.

Zucchini

Zucchini Layer

 

While the sauce is simmering, mix the following ingredients in a bowl:

4 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
½ teaspoon salt
Mix all together and set aside.

Cheese Layer

Cheese Layer

 

1 -2 zucchini sliced, or another vegetable or lasagna noodles
3-6 cups of grated cheese, any type you choose ( I used cheddar)

Put the sauce in the bottom of the skillet, then layer zucchini slices over it. Cover that layer with sauce, add a layer of the soft cheese mixture, then shredded cheese. Add another layer of zucchini, more sauce, a layer of soft cheese and shredded cheese I only do two layers because of the size of my pan, but three layers would be good. You may have to increase the amounts of the other ingredients depending on your pan size. It really doesn’t matter what order you put your layers in. You will want to end up with sauce on top and shredded cheese on top of that for the final layer.

Lasagna Ready To Bake

Ready To Bake

If you are baking the lasagna in your oven, then cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes (serves 8). If you are cooking it on an open fire like we did, make sure you put it in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven or a roasting pan. 

Cooking over coals

Cooking over coals

My Dutch oven is not large enough for lasagna, so I made it in the skillet and covered it with another large cast iron skillet. You can use a large lid or aluminum foil. Place the skillet directly on the coals and let it cook undisturbed. Remember when cooking over an open fire you have to keep an eye on it or the bottom of the lasagna can become charred. Mine did, but this is the way my husband likes it. If you start cooking this way, your food takes on a whole new dimension and everyone will love it and if you have children, they will want to help. A good book to try is Cooking With Fire: From Roasting on a Spit To Baking In A Tannur, Rediscovered Techniques and Recipes That Capture the Flavors Of Wood-Fired Cooking by Paula Marcoux.

Zucchini Lasagna

All Done

 

This recipe can be changed in any way you want. In fact, use your own recipe for lasagna and use noodles.  If you have vegetables from your garden this is a good way to use them and make a healthy tasty meal that everyone will enjoy. Who doesn’t love lasagna? I know we do. A frugal meal and if cooking it outside, it doesn’t heat up your kitchen in the hot weather.

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


Using Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

A few of my cast iron pieces

Using cast iron cookware is not as hard as many people make it sound. I use mine daily. Rarely do I use other pans, unless I need to use a stockpot or a sauce pan. The only type of skillets I own are the cast iron ones. I have various sizes and use certain ones for particular foods I am cooking. When I see the prices of cast iron on eBay, I am grateful that none of mine cost that much. In fact, most of mine were purchased at bargain prices in thrift or antique stores. Some were very rusty and were priced very low because nobody took the time to bring them back into good cooking shape. I could see the possibilities of my three favorite 6″ skillets that were sitting on a shelf in the bargain basement of a thrift shop. They were priced at a dollar each and I bought all of them. I use these more than anything else. Since there is only two of us to cook for, I can easily make our breakfast using these skillets.

Cast Iron 6 Inch Skillet

I have 3 of these 6″ skillets

Over the years, I have learned how to clean and season my cast iron cookware. Some people wash them in soap and water and some people swear not to do that. I am of the latter group. It will cause you to have to re-season them every time you wash them with soap and water. If food has stuck to the skillet, I pour hot water into it and let it soak for a few minutes. Then the food will scrap off easily. After I have scrapped it off, sometimes I will scrub it a little with a “tuffy” type of thing I use for washing pots and pans. Rinse with hot water, then dry it out good with a paper towel. I set it back on the stove to make sure it is completely dry, then I wipe it with a thin layer of bacon grease. I will store it in my gas oven which has a pilot light that is on all the time. When I use the oven, I normally will leave the cast iron skillet that I just washed in the oven. Maybe adding a little more grease (or what ever you use, you can use cooking oil as well). After it has been seasoned well, I will put it in the cupboard with the other ones.

Cast Iron Skillets in Oven

Seasoning in oven

If there is no food stuck on the skillet, you can just wipe it out with a paper towel. Well seasoned cast iron cookware, usually will not have anything stuck to it. The small skillets and a round griddle that I use almost daily, I store in my oven most of the time. I leave them in the oven when I am using it, unless I need both shelves, as it keeps these skillets well seasoned. Cast iron is known for the flaky crud that accumulates on the outside of the sides. I usually just scrap it off with my “tuffy” thing. The best way to remove it is to put in your wood stove fire (yes, right inside the stove when there is a fire going) and let it burn off.  That is if your stove is big enough for your cookware (mine is). Even better, is to put it in an outdoor fire. It burns all that crud off. Then wash the ashes off with hot water, apply whatever type of grease you like (I only use bacon grease because it is never sticky and that is what my grandmother used), then put it in your oven for an hour or so to let it season.

Cooking Eggs

Cooking Eggs


I cook eggs almost daily in one of my small 6″ cast iron skillets. I flip the eggs over to cook the other side and it slides across the surface. If I make an omelet instead, I can slide the omelet right out of the skillet onto a plate. That is the sign of a well seasoned skillet! Biscuits too, which I bake in the oven in a large cast iron skillet and they come out perfect every time. If you do not have any cast iron cookware, buy a small skillet first to get the feel for cooking with it. See how you like it first. If you are purchasing a new one, I’d suggest buying one made by The Lodge manufacturer. They are excellent quality and I have several of their pieces and am quite happy with them. There will be a waxy coating on a new one that is applied in the factory to protect it. You will have to remove that coating, then wash and season it a few times before you use it for cooking. Happy Cooking!


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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


Updating Your Lifestyle

Peaceful Forest 1999

Peaceful Forest 1999

Updating your lifestyle of modern homesteading is a very simple thing to do. My title of this blog was chosen long ago in 2005 when blogs were just getting started. I first wrote it on Yahoo360. Then moved it to Blogger, finally here on my own server. Everyone was interested in my off the grid life back then. I had many people sending me messages through my eBay seller account wanting to know how to do this stuff. So I figured I’d just write it on a blog and they could read it there or ask questions, that I could answer on the blog for everyone. At that time, I loved this lifestyle and couldn’t imagine living any other way. Funny thing about life and people, is that things change. People change. Life changes.

A Farm

A Farm


Maybe due to getting older and things about this lifestyle got harder? Maybe. It reminds me of a woman I once knew. Her second husband and her met at their church. They already knew each other, but had both lost their spouses. One day she shows up at his apartment bearing homemade baked goods for him as a gift. Soon they were spending time together which eventually led to their marriage. A few weeks after their wedding, she tells him that she is not cooking anymore. She said she raised her children on a dairy farm and had cooked and worked hard all those years. Now she was done with cooking, baking and all that clean up work involved. Yes, she knew her new husband had not lived that type of life at all. In fact, his wife had not been a very good cook at all. He was looking forward to all the food he was going to be enjoying made by his new wife. What a shocker that was to him! He says to her, “What about all those homemade meals and baked goods you made for me before we got married?” She just smiled.

My Road

My Road

Life is constantly changing. If you are not, then you are just surviving, not living. Look at how many times you have changed through out your life so far. From a newborn infant, to where you are at the present moment. So with that said, let us embrace the changes going on in our lives and explore new goals. Updating your lifestyle is not that difficult or expensive. In fact, it can and should be fun. Live your life by feeling passionate about your true interests. Even if it is not what you planned to do in the first place. It is possible to not have any interest in something at one age, then become very interested in it some years later.

Raising Livestock

Raising Livestock

Modern homesteading basically means to live a self-sufficient life. Providing your family with food and necessities of life. In 2017, I really don’t think you can live totally that way, even on your own homestead. There are always going to be things that need to be bought and paid for. If you are raising livestock for food, there are many costs associated with that endeavor too. Even something like providing your own heat through harvesting firewood from your own woods would cost you if you were using a chainsaw, you would need the new chains, gas mix, gas, file, etc.. Canning foods will cost you in the jars and the lids you will need to complete that process. I am not saying you couldn’t live that way. A family I know has lived that way for many years. Even as far as cooking on a hearth and using a horse and wagon for transportation. But I noticed when I was at their homestead, that they did not make their own clothing and they hitched rides with people.  As I always say, there are no rules. Just do what you can or want and don’t let others imply that you have to do things their way. You don’t.

Rural Land Search

Rural Land Search

As many other homesteaders have shown over the years, you can live anywhere, even in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Rural land is very expensive as more and more people expand the cities’ borders. Over population with no concern for the rural areas anymore is normal now. Just keep filling every spot with more people and then complain due to no rural land available. That’s what you get folks. Basically you can live a fairly self-sufficient life wherever you are right now. You may not have 40 acres and a mule (can you tell, I have been re-reading my Gone with the Wind book for the hundredth time?) but you can plant a garden if you have a small yard. You can purchase fresh produce and meat from local farms. Instead of buying small amounts, buy in bulk to get a better deal and then can it instead of freezing it. Tastes better that way and will keep forever. Turn a closet or an extra room in your house into a pantry.

Spots the cat

Spots Does What He Wants

For myself, now into my sixties, I am looking forward to maybe another thirty years of living my life the way I picture it. Not what someone else pictures or says I should do. Just because you have gotten older it doesn’t mean you are resigned to a rocking chair or recliner in front of a television. It means you better get busy living the life you want. Now! That is just what I intend on doing. It is time for ME! What about you? Are you ready to start updating your lifestyle?

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Driving Through The Woods

Through the Woods

Through the Woods

Driving through the woods to my house, many people are under the impression that we are really “out there.” I only wish! In 1999 when we purchased our house, we had the plan to get rid of our car and use a horse and buggy for transportation. The key to that was that our house is ideally located for someone wanting to do that. I would imagine that past residents of our home, did just that and most likely walked to and back from town. Since this house was built in 1850, that is highly probable. Our location is central to several small towns and one small city. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way for us. Though we did live for over nine months without a motor vehicle. The only reason we could not do this was due to our elderly parents, who resisted us living like this constantly. And of course, our grown kids. Everybody seemed to “need” us for something.

Ludlow Creek

Ludlow Creek

I must admit, I was very impressed with the location the first day of driving through the woods to find it. It was a snow covered road going through the beautiful forest.  It was so peaceful! The snow insulates the sound, so you don’t hear anything except the occasional sound of a chickadee or blue jay. As we drove through the seasonal road, that had a sign posted to drive at your own risk, I had to get my courage up. Once we got half way through the forest, it was so breathtaking that I forgot about being nervous. At the end of that road, we were still in the woods and it was impressive. The trees were huge and grew thickly. In the middle of it all was a small creek that was flowing steadily in the middle of the winter. I fell in love with the little one lane bridge as soon as I saw it.

One Lane Bridge Sign

One Lane Bridge Sign

As the years have gone by, the feeling of being secluded or “out there” has all but disappeared. More people have moved into hunting camps in the area and made full time homes out of them. Our little road, which rarely had more than two vehicles go by in one day, now has much more than that. Still it is not like the Long Island Expressway, but the traffic has increased. If you find a homestead on a dirt road, or in the middle of a forest,  it doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay that way indefinitely. All the forests around us, mostly state forest land, have been logged and it is constantly going on. The little dirt roads are not designed for this and end up hard to drive at times due to the equipment and logging trucks. They log all year round so I just had to get used to it. Then there are the hunters of course. And their litter!

High Bridge

High Bridge

For the most part though, it lives up to the name we gave it, Peaceful Forest. I chose that name before we even found it. I knew what I was looking for and as soon as we saw it, we exclaimed to each other, “It IS Peaceful Forest!” It didn’t have as much acreage as we were originally looking for but being in the forest compensated for that. Thousands of acres surround us here and that is enough for us.

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Dehydrated Eggs

Fresh Eggs

Fresh Eggs are not always available.

Using dehydrated eggs is a good way to stretch fresh eggs. Especially through the winter when most chickens are not laying. If you raise your chickens and have periods of being flooded with too many eggs (though my way of thinking, is there is no such thing as too many eggs), you can dehydrate your own eggs. That would be a smart thing to do. If you do not know how to dehydrate eggs, just Google it. There are a lot of sites with information on how to do it safely. I have never done it myself, but if I had a flock of laying hens and the means to do it, I would.

Dehydrated Eggs

Dehydrated Eggs

In my case, and like many others, if you do not raise any chickens or other birds, you can purchase dehydrated eggs. I have been purchasing dehydrated whole eggs from Emergency Essentials in the large #10 cans. They last forever for a small family like us. They can also be purchased from other stores that sell bulk foods or prepping foods and even right on Amazon. I use it in baking and cooking and these dehydrated eggs work great. I do not care for them so much as scrambled eggs or omelets, even though they can be used for that also. It is just my personal taste and the only brand I have experience with is the ones from Emergency Essentials.

A Tablespoon of Dehydrated Eggs

A Tablespoon of Dehydrated Eggs

Two tablespoons of dehydrated egg and three tablespoons of water equal one large fresh egg. The method I use in cooking or baking is to add the two tablespoons of the dehydrated egg (for each egg called for in my recipe) to the dry ingredients and mix it in. Then when I add the liquid ingredients add three tablespoons of water for each egg. Then proceed as usual. I have never had a failure yet and the recipes always taste the same as if I used fresh eggs. Also available is egg whites only or egg yolks only. I can’t tell you anything about those yet as I have never tried them. They are on my list for a future purchase though.

Dehydrated Eggs, Sugar & Shortening

Dehydrated Eggs, Sugar & Shortening

Dehydrate means to “take way water” (according to the dictionary) and refers to the process of drying foods in machines (such as a food dehydrator), which use controlled heat. The nutritive value of the food is not impaired in this process. In baking, a flour mixture would end up as a heavy flat lump without a leavening agent in it by distributing carbon dioxide gas, air or steam through it, which expands during the baking process. Beaten eggs enclose air in the mixture and liquid turns to steam. I imagine the dehydrated eggs work the same way, since you cannot tell the difference in the finished products, whether I used fresh eggs or not. They are handy to have in the pantry in an emergency or if I can’t get to the store. I like to stock up on them and not have to worry whether I have eggs on hand or not. I always have these.


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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
6 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


A Homesteading Snob?

Homesteading on the Internet

A homesteading snob? Are you one? What do I mean by that term? How dare I accuse of that when I don’t even know you? No need to get your feathers ruffled! Writing about the modern homesteading lifestyle since 2002, I am sure I have been guilty of being a homesteading snob myself. Now that I have experienced the ups and downs that life has presented me, I have more of an open mind. I want to encourage people in all walks of life to become more self-sufficient. At least as much as they are able, depending on their own situation and life. We are all different……….yet so much alike.The biggest expense we have is usually housing, whether you pay for an apartment or a mortgage on a house you are buying. Even if your house is paid for, the cost of owning one and maintaining it can be costly. Add in the utilities and there goes your paycheck. Most people take from their food budget as the other bills go up. What else can you do? Can’t tell the propane company that you can’t pay such a big bill because your income does not go up. No, instead your food budget has to be cut. Another fact of life is that some people don’t even have a food budget! Probably more than you know.

Homesteading on the Internet

It is easy for you who grow and raise all your own vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy to look down your noses at the ones who do not. Or for others who shop for locally grown organic foods and wouldn’t touch a processed food with a ten foot pole. But you know, not all people can afford to shop for those foods because along with the label of organic comes the status of higher prices. If you are shopping with a low budget or no budget, you just can’t afford that food no matter how much healthier and safer it is for you and your family. These people need your support and encouragement. Maybe you could share some food from your garden with someone who is struggling? Or offer to show someone how to start their first garden? Trade some produce for some assistance in your garden. Plant extra for that purpose. Who couldn’t use help in planting and weeding and later on with the harvest? Teach someone how to can while having their help during your busy canning season and sharing the bounty. Instead of being a homesteading snob, excite someone!

Homesteading on the Internet

Many families live from food pantries. Probably more than from food stamps, because the people in the middle are lost. They make too much money to qualify for any type of benefits and too little to pay all their bills and still buy food. Their basic expenses such as housing, utilities, insurance and transportation lowers their income to levels way below the poverty guidelines. So what can they do? It doesn’t matter. No food this month. Try telling that to your children or a husband that has a physically demanding job and is living on low nutritional foods. Even though I live off the grid and raise a huge garden every year, I still have to buy food from the grocery stores. I tried buying organic and locally grown, but just didn’t have a budget to support that food. I have seen other homesteaders complain about people not wanting to pay $3-$5. for a dozen of homegrown organic eggs. I can’t pay that much myself. I can buy them much cheaper at the local grocery store and I usually buy two cartons of 18 eggs each for less than $3.00. We go through a lot of eggs here, my husband having four a day and myself having two. I don’t even use them for baking, instead using powdered eggs for that so we have the fresh for breakfast. If all eggs were sold at the higher prices I wouldn’t be able to afford them at all, organic or not. It all comes down to shopping within your budget. Some people have a smaller budget than others. So I do what I can to put food on my table. 

Homesteading on the Internet

Instead of being a homesteading snob and complaining about others, put forth an effort to encourage, help and teach them. Food prices keep going up. Packaging keeps getting smaller. Young people may not have been taught how to provide food for themselves and their families by their parents. When they are broke, sharing your seeds and showing them how to plant a garden is a great start. Many young people have grown up in a family where both parents worked, as I did too. My mother left a written paper with instructions of what I was supposed to do when I got home from school to get our supper started. So when she came home she just had some basic things to complete for our home made supper. We never ate in restaurants or had any type of fast foods when I was growing up. In fact, my father made our breakfast every morning before he left for work. We could have whatever we wanted, usually eggs cooked a variety of ways, pancakes or cereal, hot or cold. Sometimes he’d throw a hot dog in there for a treat since he liked having one for his breakfast on some mornings. Help someone and it helps you too. Not only do you have the feeling of helping someone, but you have encouraged them to help someone else like you did. Try it!

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
6 Kathleen G. Lupole


Using Canned Winter Squash

Buttercup Squash Bread

Buttercup Squash Bread

Using canned winter squash you processed the past two years isn’t that hard. Is it just sitting in the cupboard except for the occasional brown sugar and butter side dish? There are many ways to incorporate that valuable canned produce into your weekly menus. Every year I harvest an abundant amount of winter squash. The varieties I plant are Butternut, Buttercup and Hopi Pale Grey. Next gardening season I am planning on adding some others. I normally only plant one variety each year since they can become cross pollinated and their seed won’t be true. I try to save their seeds every year. You can still use them even if they aren’t true, but they sometimes don’t look like what you planted. I canned a lot of yellow squash one year that took over our compost pile, but it certainly wasn’t a true yellow squash. We ate it and there was no difference in the taste or anything. I suppose it only matters if you are sharing or selling your seeds, which I wasn’t.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

Every year the squash plants spread out all over our lawn near the garden where it is planted. It can be a nuisance for my husband mowing the lawn, but he’d rather have the food than the lawn anyway. I usually put aside a small number of them to store in the pantry or root cellar to eat fresh, most of them will be canned for future meals. A good friend asked me, “Why bother canning them since they store so well from one season to the next?” My answer to that is, “They last longer canned and stored on my pantry shelves. Since there are only two of us here, we don’t eat it fast enough to store all of them fresh.” One thought I had was that it is less work too. I can decide at the last minute to prepare a winter squash recipe without the job of precooking it to use, as most of my recipes would be using it as a soft or pureed ingredient. 

Buttercup

Buttercup

I had such a large crop in previous years, that this year I didn’t plant any winter squash at all. We are still eating the ones I canned in 2013! This is a post I wrote about how I canned our winter squash, Buttercup Squash. After it is on my shelves in jars, how do I use it? Almost any recipe for pumpkin or sweet potatoes is adaptable for your winter squash. Fresh or canned or even frozen, it doesn’t matter. Pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread recipes made with winter squash taste pretty much the same. Amazon is full of good pumpkin cookbooks that can be used for your winter squash or sweet potatoes. This one, Pumpkin, a Super Food For All 12 Months of the Year is a good one, as well as Pumpkin Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch.

Bread in Oven

Bread in Oven

 

This is my favorite pumpkin recipe, which is a Pumpkin Bread one, but tastes like a dessert. We love it! Try it and see what you think. If the winter squash is canned, it should be canned in cubes because it is not safe to can it as mashed or pureed. I pour the whole jar in, water and all, using it as part of the liquid for the recipe. I mash the squash up good with a potato masher to break it up as much as possible.

Pumpkin Bread

3/4 cup shortening
2-3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin, canned
3/4 cup water
3-1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together sugar and shortening. Add rest of ingredients. Pour into two greased bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Makes two loaves.

Homecanned Buttercup

Home Canned Buttercup Squash

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.