About Me

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My tremendously supportive husband & I have 3 wonderful children, 1 dog, 12 laying hens, 2 dairy goats, 3 bee hives, and a 2000 sq foot vegetable garden on a small 1/4 acre lot in the city. In the center of it all is our small 1,000 sq foot house purchased in 2008 as a foreclosure that we fully renovated to host our growing family, home school adventures, and small home business (CozyLeaf.com). We have a desire to learn a path to self sufficiency finding ways to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. We want to learn to live with less as we laydown roots to our little homestead.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Diced Ham ready for meals

A well stocked pantry and freezer  is a must! Also, you can get things much cheaper when you buy in bulk!! The question I hear the most: "But what do you do with it all?" Well, this is one of my new favorite bulk purchases! Ham freezes very well and makes for quick and easy lunches and dinners.
At sams you can get a boneless ham for around $3 per lb. Pick out your ham and walk on over to the deli area and ask them to slice it for you (I prefer thin sliced). Then you have deli sliced ham for half the price as you will spend at your local grocery store. 
When I get home I keep half as the thin sliced large pieces and then I cut up little squares of the other half. These are perfect to put in large glass canning jars to freeze. 
I try to always have one in the fridge defrosted and ready for sandwiches and wraps. This is a crazy easy lunch idea for the kiddos or for anyone who stops by your house for a visit with an empty tummy (with my family, this happens quite frequently...but I love it!). Henry loves to make lunches around here and this is a great way for him to easily do that. 
This is also perfect to toss a few squares into your morning eggs, or into any dinner entree that needs some extra flavor :) Potato soup is perfect with a handful of ham! If you don't have the freezer space for this much extra meat...team up with a friend or two and share a 10 lb ham...much cheaper for sure!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Letters in Flour for Preschoolers

Fitting everything into one day can be quite a challenge sometimes! I love to have "formal school time" where we sit down at the table for a few hours and really focus on various assignments, but in all actuality that is not the way it happens every day! Since the kids are still in the pre-school age, I try to come up with fun activities to accomplish our work. This is by far one of Addies favorite ways to work on her letters and numbers! While Im doing some baking, I will just spread some flour on the counter and let Addie draw with her finger for an hour or so! She absolutely loves it and it is an easy way to get through some school work while baking bread or other goodies!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beef & Barley Stew Recipe

Its cold outside and time to bust out the soups and stews recipes!! I LOVE soups and stews and this is by far one of my favorites. My mother-in-law introduced me to this recipe and I absolutely recommend it and want to pass it on to all of you as well :) It does take some time to prep and cook, but well worth the time!

Beef & Barley Stew:
1 ½ Lb Boneless Beef Chuck Cubed (or Venecine, Chicken, Pork...any meat!)
1 Tbl Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Chopped Onions 
1 C up Diced Carrots
½ Cup Sliced Celery
1 LB Fresh Sliced Mushrooms 
2 cloves Garlic
½ tsp Dried Thyme
1-14.5oz Can Beef Broth 
1-14.5oz Can Chicken Broth 
2 Cups Water
½ Cup Pearled Barley
1 tsp Salt (optional)
½ tsp Pepper
3 Tbl Chopped fresh Parsley for Garnish

1: Brown the meat in oil and remove from the pot
2: Saute the onions, carrots and celery in the meat juices
3: Add mushrooms, garlic and thyme to the sauteed veggies and cook for 3 minutes
4: Add the broth, water, barley, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil
5: Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1½-2 hrs

Friday, December 9, 2011

Basil Rooting

I love to make Herb Bouquets ... they are very easy and convenient to have on hand to throw basil into any dish! This past summer, I started letting my basil bouquet clippings take root in the water and once they are nice and strong then I transplant them out into the garden! It has worked fabulously and now we have a large amount of basil!! I cant wait to make basil pesto to freeze and eat all winter!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh my little George!

I have hardly talked about George here! He is just such a delightful little fellow :) Keeping mommy busy with all of his cuteness!
Addie is such a good helper! George loves her so much and pretty much gets anything he wants if he can get Addies attention to bring it to him!

George sure loves the outdoors! I pretty much carried him around during all of my outdoor chores this summer and he would coo and giggle at everything!

I have several slings and sure have loved carrying this cute little fellow everywhere. He loves to look out of the front like a baby kangaroo in a pouch!

This was from Georges first trip to the zoo...yes, he loved it!

Oh and cooking with mommy in the kitchen always brings out the laughing and talking in this little bundle of joy!

Ah, my buddy and me :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First snow

A thin sheet of white covered the ground last night. The chickens are loving it, but the goats are not as thrilled. Henry and Addie could hardly contain themselves long enough to get their snow suits on. Henry was the first one down the snow covered slide, while Addie cheered for him at the bottom (wishing she had a snowball to throw at him when he reached the bottom). 
The garden has finally slowed down for the winter and although the harvest was much less than we had anticipated (due to the harsh summer weather we received), we are still very blessed from the abundance of food and knowledge we did harvest from the rough season! Now those harsh hot temperatures have past and we are preparing for the cold season that is upon us. A big stack of firewood and a stocked pantry are delightful to see as the first snow settles on the ground. The bees are busy working in their hives eating from their honey stores. The chickens are loving this cool weather! Hot weather is hard on the chickens bodies, but when the temperature starts to drop the girls will puff out their feathers and prance around the yard. The goats also puff up! They look like they have gained a bunch of weight, but its just from their extra thick furr that's all puffy and snugly. At night they curl up together in the back of their barn in a big pile of hay and hunker down for the night. The girls look so cute first thing in the morning as they peek their fluffy heads out of their little barn door to examine the outdoor conditions.
This is such a beautiful time of year! Warm food, hot tea, lots of baking to help heat the house, and plenty of family nights hanging out by the fire...what more could we ask for :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Newest Hobby ... Knitting!!

Just a few weeks ago I entered the wonderful world of knitting!! Since then I have met SO many extremely friendly and helpful people! It seems like every knitter I have met is so excited for me, very encouraging and always willing to offer advice.
I love learning new things and feeling the challenge of a new art as well as the satisfaction it brings to succeed at a project. So, after watching a few YouTube videos I was ready to take on knitting!
I made a little scarf for Addie and had such fun doing it that I was ready for project #2. I could not decide what to make next, but I had heard a lot of people talk about the "purl stitch" so I thought I better practice that! So I started by casting on 30 stitches and then knit stitch 2 rows and purl stitch 2 rows. It has been fabulous practice and I am loving the pattern it makes so I plan on makin this into some type of neck warmer with a fun button...which means I will get to learn to knit a button whole! I'm definitely not the fastest knitter, but I just hope I finish this before the cold snap gets here!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Explore the World from your Home with Little Passports

I am very excited about this 3 month subscription! I have a couple subscriptions for my kids that thoroughly excite them when they arrive! Little Passports is another fabulous subscription to add to our homeschooling.

"Introduce your little explorer to the wonders of world travel—without leaving home—with a three-month subscription to Little Passports. Your child will receive monthly packages from fictional characters as they explore Japan, and Brazil. Each shipment includes an adventure letter from Sofia and Sam, fascinating trivia, activities, and souvenirs related to the locale. Little Passports brings the world to your door, encouraging your child to embrace other cultures while taking textbook learning to a whole new level."

Click here to read more on this great deal!
There are always great deals to find on magazine and activity subscriptions for kids...Ill update you whenever I find these deals! I've never had to buy a subscription at full price...just wait and save! 

"I LOVE Metamorphosis!"

Every year my mom pulls a few caterpillars off her parsley plants and puts them in a jar for the kids. The kids loved it last year, but this year has been so much more exciting and educational. All week last week we watched the little cocoon clung to the side of the glass jar waiting in anticipation for "his" arrival. We talked about metamorphosis and all the bugs that go through metamorphosis. Bryan opened up his been hives and we were able to find all the stages of metamorphosis in the bees as well. 
The day finally arrived and we saw the butterfly in the jar! Henry had noticed the cocoon as he ran by to go outside to play and less than an hour later I heard screaming about the butterfly...we just missed seeing it emerge, but the excitement would have probably been too overwhelming for that poor butterfly! We watched it for about 15 minutes in the jar as it had a chance to fully expand its wings (they are curled up at first and take a little while to open all up). Then we opened the jar outside so "he could go find his family" (as Addie kept saying). The butterfly crawled out and hung around for about 15 minutes, crawling up and down Henry and Addie. They were overjoyed!! Henry kept yelling "I LOVE Metamorphosis!!" 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Melrose Peppers

Melrose Peppers may perhaps be my FAVORITE pepper! I have had the hardest time growing bell peppers, but for some reason these Melrose peppers will grow great here! They have an incredible sweet flavor! I love to dice these up and put them into sauces, pizzas, eggs...just about anything these days! I also LOVE to cut them in half, fill with cream cheese, wrap in bacon and bake!! Yum! These peppers are very versatile, easy to grow, and quite beautiful in the garden!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Delicate Purple Bean Blossoms

 What a joyful sight to see a delicate purple blossom coming up out of a lush row of green leaves! The bean blossoms are my favorite little visual treat. I really look forward to each and every one. As I plant a bean row I anticipate the weeks ahead that will bring 1...then 2...then 20...then hundreds of these delicate blossoms. The bees sure have loved all the new pollen they are able to dip into to store up. Soon...very soon, we will have buckets of green beans coming in from the garden!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sun Dried Italian Pepperoncini's

Sun Dried Italian Pepperoncini's
I couldn't be happier with the way these beauties turned out!! I have had a pretty tough time growing peppers in the past (besides Jalapenos and Melrose) but these Italian Pepperoncini's are doing great!!
I set out 2 drying screens in full sun on the back deck and every time we pick a red pepper I just cut it in half and toss it in-between the two screens. Drying time varies, but it is SO easy!! I LOVE sun-drying!! Just be careful not to leave them outside if it is going to rain ;) I woke up one morning to all my peppers re-hydrated from the evening rain...oops! 
I have 6 thriving Pepperoncini plants with alot more little "sweet with heat" drops of goodness! I cant wait to have a huge pile of dried Pepperoncini's!! Im going to leave some whole and then powder most of them up for a little extra hidden spice in my winter cookin :) 
Cant wait!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Double Egg

 Every once in a while one of our hens tries to be an overachiever and we find a "double egg". This egg actually had 2 yolks in it!! We have at least 4 of our new hens laying eggs now...here in a few weeks all of them should be in full production! Bring on the omelets!! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Knitting my first Scarf

Oh I sure do love to learn new things :) Seeing as I have never learned to knit I thought it would be fun to give it a try!! It SURE IS FUN! I made this little scarf for Addie and she LOVES it! I messed up quite a few times ;) Several of my mess ups I was able to "fix" but there are a few that are probably fixable...but I'm just clueless as to how to do it! The "strategically places" pom poms hide most of my errors ... I sure do love those little pom poms! I want to make her a matching hat JUST so I can put a HUGE cute Pom Pom on top ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Root Beer Floats from homemade rootbeer

It hot outside!! We are about to break a record here for most 100 degree days in a summer and that has been disastrous for our backyard! But on a happier note...when its hot what is more fun than icecream...and even more fun than that is ROOTBEER FLOATS!!!  We have had a bottle of root beer extract for about a year and have yet to use it. So, in celebration of... well, everything ... we are making Rootbeer! And what is more fun than a "pre-dinner activity" with friends!

Bryan found this recipe on the Backwoods Home website (backwoodshome.com). We wanted to brew the rootbeer so we could bottle it...but this recipe with the dry ice just looked like WAY too much fun to pass up!

Super-kwik super-cooled root beer:
6 cups sugar
3¼ gallons cold water
2 ounces root beer extract
4 pounds dry ice

In a large cooler or tub, mix sugar and water together until sugar dissolves. Stir in the extract. Gently put dry ice into the liquid and cover with a lid, loosely. Don't tighten it down or pressure may build up. Let the mixture "brew" for about an hour, then serve. Store the remainder in gallon jugs or bottles.

So, here we go!!
First, I would like to add a note...read your recipe! I thought I had read the recipe very carefully and when it say "2 oz of extract" that does not necessarily mean it will be the entire bottle...I put in the entire bottle which was 4 oz (oops). So we had to make some quick adjustments of quantities! 
Now that we have our water, sugar and extract all stirred together...its time for the fun part!!! DRY ICE!!

Henry, the girls won this one!

This method of root beer does not produce a carbonated beverage...but it was very cold and delicious over ice cream! The dry ice was a delight for the kids to watch as it bubbled and produced the overly exciting fog! Definitely the recipe I recommend if you are making root beer for a group...not the recipe I would recommend if you are wanting to bottle it though.

All these wonderful pictures were taken by my dear friend Nicole! Check out more of her pictures on her blog!

Friday, August 26, 2011

MamaSource Coupons

Lucky Vitamin
$30 of Health Products & Back-to-School Essentials (40% off) from Lucky Vitamin via MamaSource! Click here to get your deal! 

Another Great Deal: $20 Worth of Quality Kids' Books (50% off) with Slimy Bookworm!! Click here to get your deal!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is in abundance this time of year and there is always a dilemma as to what to do with it all!! Grill it, fry it, make cookies and breads, pastas and raviolis...the list goes on and on.

I love Zucchini bread and have to recommend this recipe from AllRecipes . This is by far the best Zucchini bread I have had...moist and delicious! I did a double batch and made 3 regular loaves and 4 mini loaves. I like to do 2 different sizes so I can wrap them with parchment paper, stack them and tie a fun card to them as gifts.

What is everyone doing with all the extra squash and zucchini you are getting right now?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tea Pot Cozy by Katie

Teapot Cozy
I love tea! As fall starts to creep up on us and the evenings get a bit brisk, I love to curl up by the fire with a pot of hot tea! What better way to dress up a plain white tea pot than with an adorable tea pot cozy! 
Katie has a fabulous shop on Etsy and I highly recommend her work! She made me this adorable Tea Pot Cozy and I just love it! 

All of her pieces are high quality with exceptional attention to detail! Check out her shop and support this new up and coming Etsy store

Soft Alpaca Baby HatTea Cozy - Forest Green

Newborn HatSweet Baby BootiesKatie made a pair of these adorable booties and a matching hat for George right after he was born and he loved them! I'm pretty sure I loved them more though! They are absolutely adorable and incredibly soft! Katie's high quality work was obvious as the booties and hat withstood many many trips through the wash. 

Pink Mittens
CandyCane HatVisit her Etsy Shop and fall in love with her one of a kind designs...and while you're at it purchase a few gifts or something special for yourself!