Keeping busy in the Winter Months

Journal, Random Thoughts

Every winter I get an itch to do something creative. I’m artsy by nature and thrive when I have a fun project to do or am creating something new.

The beginning of a new year plus the cold dark days of winter always make me want to start something new and keep my hands busy.

I feel like a part of my mom is finally coming out in me this winter. She made amazing quilts. I never had to wander around the house to find her because she was either in the kitchen or sitting in her back living room corner lazy boy, hand stitching a quilt. I’ve lost count of how many quilts she made. I personally own two, my dad has a ton, I’m sure each of my siblings has at least one and there are probably countless quilts strewn through out the country – given to those my mom wanted to bless with some warmth.

This one isn’t even her most impressive one. She hand quilted it but it’s not as many stitches as she would usually do!

I wish i could say I followed in her footsteps and have created many quilts. Unfortunately, i never had the urge to quilt. Maybe it was because i saw how much work and time they take? I’m a bit ADD (literally) and I struggle with follow through (hence the 5-6 year knitting project 😂) My lack of interest wasn’t because of a lack of my mom trying to teach me to quilt. In fact when I was about 9 I took a beginners quilting class with her at her favorite quilting store. I think I only went to one actual class and spent maybe 20 minutes at the sewing machine with my pieces of fabric for my first (and only) quilt square. I just wasn’t interested.

The only time i ever got close to wanting to sew anything was when i decided to make Etta a couple of baby blankets. I really kicked myself for never paying attention to how my mom sewed. I could have really used her advice and help on a few things. The blankets i made were ok, but no where near perfect.

Instead of quilting I had picked up knitting. For the last 5 or 6 years i have been working on a blanket… yes you read that right. I honestly don’t know where the pattern for the blanket is anymore, how many stitches there should be or if I have enough yarn. But, every fall and winter I pull it out to add a little bit more to it. It makes me think of my mom; all curled up under a warm partially made blanket with my legs tucked up under me and the tv on.

This year I pulled out my knitting and for the first time I was bored with it from the minute I started. I was ready for something new. I still wanted something that would create something useful (like a blanket) but also beautiful, and unique.

My first project is a cross stitch. My mom had taught me how to embroider years ago and unlike quilting I actually enjoyed it. I wasn’t really into the idea of cross stitching though since all the patterns i had ever seen were of old farms and women in bonnets. That just isn’t my style. But I found some super fun ones on Pinterest and then Etsy. This cute little one came from The Geeky Stitching Co. on Etsy, it came with everything I needed (including a piece of candy 😉) and I seriously am in love with it!

Just like when I was younger the back isn’t quite perfect, but it is Way better than my embroidery use to be! I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Unfortunately I have gotten a bit sidetracked by my other project, loom weaving!!!! I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone that does this. It’s all new to me but it is so fun and I figured my old pot holder making days would help me figure it out 😉

I ordered one from Beka on Amazon and LOVE it! It’s so relaxing and you don’t really have to follow any sort of pattern unless you want to!

So this winter, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be over in my corner lazy boy huddled under a blanket with some tea and weaving or cross stitching like a little old lady 🤣 What can I say? Creativity and thread are just in my blood. I miss you mom!

Abbey

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Baking like Crazy

Favorite recipes

Winter really brings out the warm and fuzzy side in me… ok it brings out the desire for something warm and comforting. I’m not a huge fan of the cold. Layered clothing is my least favorite way to prepare for the day, especially when it comes to getting socks, shoes, coats, hats and gloves on three toddlers 🙄 I prefer sending the kids out in shorts, tank tops and maybe some shoes if they want them on.

However, one thing I do love about winter is the warm coziness of the home. Fuzzy socks, heavy blankets, the warm glow of lights to offset the early dark hours. There is definitely something to the comforts of home when it’s less than ideal outside.

With Jason home during the holidays I have made up a list of things I want to accomplish while there is another adult available to wrangle the kids 😉 One of the top things I’ve been wanting to do is some baking. Yes baking can be hard with three little kids at your feet, but let’s be honest.. most days I’m just too lazy to really do any.

My number one goal is to make some sourdough bread. I’ve never been a huge fan of the flavor but I figure my taste buds have changed quite a bit in the last couple of years so it’s worth another try. My mom loved it. Another reason i want to try it again is because of all the health benefits. It’s another one of those “fermented” foods that holds on to so many nutrients that our modern food really lacks. I’m really interested to see if the vitamin B that is in it will have any positive affects on me and my energy/ mood.

I received this book for Christmas and am Loving it! There is a lot of science behind using local and heirloom breeds of produce along with making more of your food and eating less processed junk. Produce in stores are developed to stay good during long shipping and shelf life. I’m not against buying outsourced produce (that would require a LOT of planning ahead) but I definitely see the benefits to using local food that was produced for flavor and nutrients.

Anyways, I got my sourdough starter going (it’s literally just water and flour!) but i have to wait at least five days until it’s ready to use. So to ease my itch for baking I also attempted some over night artisan bread along with a tried and true Italian herb bread in the bread machine.

Jay always loves the flavorful Italian breads I find on Pinterest and i love how easy a bread maker makes everything! Speaking of easy!!!… oh my gosh! This artisan bread was Super easy and unbelievably delicious!

You literally just mix 5 ingredients together, let it rise over night, shape into a ball and bake it in a hot Dutch oven! And it makes great pizza bread!

The only negative thing about the bread is i doubt it will last more than a day. The crust is crunchy yet chewy and the crumb is the perfect density and chewiness. Mmmmm!!!

Warm bread! Now that’s comfort!

Abbey

The Fork in the Road

Journal, Random Thoughts

But Moses said to the LORD, “oh, my Lord, i am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but i am slow of speech and of tongue.

Then the LORD said to him, “who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

I like to be in control.. I mean I hate being in control but I prefer it, does that make sense? I feel like a lot of people struggle with this. On the one side it sounds great to just have someone else plan it all out and just tell us what to do. But then all the worries settle in.

What if I’m told to do something I don’t want to do?

What if I am told to do something scary?

What if I have to do something I know I’m not good at?

Suddenly the desire to be in charge is pretty darn strong and you want to control what your next steps should be.

Lately I’ve been feeling a pull to do something I have Never wanted to do. I’ve been trying to rip the reigns out of God’s hands and redirect my life.

Do you ever feel like God is calling you to do something that just makes you stop short and say, “seriously? Do you know me at all? I’m not a patient person. I struggle with getting frustrated easily. I need alone time!” But then God reminds you that He provides. He created you, He knows you better than you know yourself. And even if you don’t have what it takes He can teach you. I love how He said that to Moses, “..and teach you what you shall say.” He didn’t say, “I’ll just zap you with good feelings and make it all perfect.” He let Moses go through some rough spots to learn and come out the better for it. I’m trusting He’s going to do that for me too.

If God has called you to it He will get you through it. I’m praying He continues to show me the path He has for me. Right now I’m at a bit of a fork in the road and I’m waiting for God’s direction. One side is the easier side that I’m hoping God has planned for me… the other is much more work and confusing.

Would you pray with me? Pray that God would not just show me the way but that He would work in my heart and work with my short comings? Do you have anything I could be praying about for you? Do you feel like God is asking you to do something that you are not prepared for? We can be in this new season together ☺️

Abbey

Our Week

Homestead: garden, Journal, Random Thoughts

Can you believe the weather we have been having this week?! It is gorgeous out! Warm and sunny for November, love it! Not only has it given the kids and I the opportunity to play outside and burn off some energy, but it has also made it easy for us to finish up some outside chores before winter comes. Jason and Des got to go to a coworker of Jason’s and cut some boards out of our old mulberry tree from our old house. Jason was even able to borrow the guys chipper so we could start thinning down our brush pile and put down a mulch ground cover for our gardens.

Des was super protective of Ry while the chipper was on 😍t his is about a third of what was there when Jay started.The kids and I spread the first pile of wood chips around the apple tree.Since Black Friday was last week, Jay and I both got our Christmas presents a little early 😉 I got the Instant Pot and have already made 3 amazing meals with it! You know you’re an adult when that’s an incredible Christmas present lol

Jay got an electric chainsaw and as you can see is VERY excited about it 😂 Something I’ve been really focusing this week is getting the kids more involved around the house. I’ve always stayed away from this because of how much work it is to teach the skills and it’s just easier for me to do it. But lately God has been opening my eyes when it comes to how i parent. Some changes are being made for the better ☺️ The kids definitely still tell me they don’t want to do things or wine and complain about helping mom with chores. But, it’s more about my heart changing at the moment and learning patience. And I’m still letting the kids just be kids 😀 We finished out the week with a trip to the Pizza Peel which seems to be a tradition around this time of year. It’s a long drive for a calzone but it’s a really good calzone 😉 and they have a cool old mixer you can look at while waiting.

We had a little bit of excitement towards the end of the day Saturday when Ry woke up from her nap with hives. Thankfully with some benedryl and a talk with a nurse she is doing pretty good! We’ll be heading to the dr. On Monday for a test to see if she had an allergic reaction to some fruit she had. Her hives were severe enough for the Dr to want to double check since she didn’t actually eat the fruit we think she may be allergic to, it just touched what she did eat.

Over all this week was productive yet lazy at times. When i look back over my week like this I thankfully realize my days are not as pointless as I sometimes feel.

Being a stay at home mom can be tough on the self esteem. No matter how hard you work you always have someone fighting you and pushing against you. Sometimes it feels like I ran a whole marathon but when I look up I discover i haven’t moved at all! However, slowly I am seeing some fruit spring up from the seeds I am planting, in my children, in my marriage, and in the home I manage. Thankfully it’s not a race ☺️

Abbey

Where You Lead…

Journal, Random Thoughts

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “people don’t really change.” In some regards I suppose this is true. If you yourself are trying to change someone or are trying to change For someone else that change may not be genuine and therefore wouldn’t last. However, when God is involved change is well within the realm of possibilities.

I’ll use myself as an example. When I have tried to change myself; i.e. my impatience, outbursts of anger, and selfishness (just to name a few,) I have gone no where pretty fast. Oh I could definitely tell I was muscling it and doing it all on my own. Even repeating scripture to myself was done in vain because I was trying to make it happen on my own. Then when you least expect it God can take your prayers for a changed heart and answer them in ways you never expected. Unfortunately I still struggle with anger and impatience, (a great combo for a stay at home mom of three toddlers) and I’m not claiming any sort of instant zap of good feelings and perfection here. There is only one situation that I know of first hand where God just full out helped someone change in an instant and I know for a fact that it was only because it was God’s will and that He had His perfect reason for it… and that person is still not perfect or living the charmed and easy life. We’re constantly being refined and changed from one degree to another until we go home or Christ comes back. Perfection is not an option here on earth.

Back to my point though, God has been very slowly and miraculously changing my heart. This past year has been a huge testimony to that. I am finding myself running towards ideas and dreams that I once said absolutely not to. If you read my post a few weeks back I talked about how I never wanted to live in the country or live on anything that resembled a farm. But, ever since last November Jason and I have both been well aware that God is reshaping our hearts and desires. As with most things we are not sure where God is leading us and we don’t know to what extent He is wanting us to go with our new found desires and priorities, but we fully trust that He has a purpose and a plan.

On Sunday God touched my heart once again with a thought that started to bloom months ago. I have been rationalizing away this thought every step of the way. It is not something that I came up with myself and I was concerned that maybe it was more of a reaction out of fear than an actual path that God was sending me on. I’m still not 100% certain if it is God calling me to a new path or if He is simply giving me a new perspective on the path I’m already on. I’m in a constant state of praying for God to reveal this to me. Either way, my heart has been changed yet again on certain matters that I was flat out against, and I’m seeing Him in all of these new changes. Everything He has put us through has pointed us back to Him. I’m simply blown away by God’s attention. There are how many billion people on this planet? And yet He is still focusing on me and showing up in my life. He’s calling me to new adventures and providing along the way.

I expect amazing things in the years to come! Maybe not by the worlds standards but by a heavenly one.

Abbey

And now, our God, we give thee thanks.

Journal, Random Thoughts, Update

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It ranks right up there with Easter and Christmas. And though i could go on and on about all the things i am grateful for this year, it really would be a two hour read, here are a few highlights of what we were up to during this week of Thanks. 
We (I) couldn’t wait to do a little Christmas decorating. First time i ever got a tree up before Black Friday! It helps that it’s 3 feet tall and i didn’t need help from Jay 😉

We got to enjoy some time outside preparing the gardens for winter and hiking in our backwoods.

We also roasted a couple of turkeys for our family get together. 30 lbs ended up being a bit much 😬 left overs anyone?!

Unfortunately Jay and Ry haven’t been feeling the best this week and Ry got slapped in the face by a branch while hiking… but she is still all smiles!

More food prep!

So thankful for a husband that helps out in every way!

The whole family made it this year! We had 22 people in our house! It was loud and crazy, but oh so fun!!

And then there’s my Dad… he asked that since we’re rednecks now (because we pulled a tree down with a truck) if he could wear his overalls to dinner. I jokingly told him this was a black tie event and this is how he showed up 😂

We loved having everyone crammed into our little house! The kids ran around and played with their cousins and the adults tried to talk over all the noise. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t fancy… but it was wonderful!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Abbey

Easy Peasy Kombucha!

Favorite recipes, Uncategorized

   Antibiotics. Doctors prescribe ‘em, we take ‘em. They kill off infection and make us healthy again. 

  If you’ve read any of my other posts you may think i have gone completely over to the dark side and turn my nose up at the idea of going to a doctor or taking antibiotics… um, wrong. I still trust my doctors and my children’s doctor. I do, however, believe in maintaining good health and boosting my immune system so i never have to see the Dr. again 😉

  Despite trusting Dr.s and their knowledge I have seen first hand the negative affects antibiotics can have on a person. A close family member was prescribed one for a tooth infection and ended up having serious issues for Months! I will not go into any sort of details but I will say it was not fun and at times a little scary. 

So what do we do? Just stop taking antibiotics when the Dr. says we need it? I would never suggest that. Instead pay attention to how your body reacts to them and notify your Dr. of any concerns. You can use essential oils (Like how I snuck that in there?🤪) to help boost your immune system and support your body’s natural ability to kill off bad bacteria. 

  And when you definitely need an antibiotic be sure to fill your body with some good bacteria. You can take probiotics, eat yogurt, or drink some kombucha! 


 Unfortunately when my husband had a surgery in the last year or so he wasn’t too fond of the idea of eating yogurt and at the time I was too cheap and uneducated to buy probiotics. But I noticed at the store a drink called kombucha. I bought it, we tried it and then we bought four more bottles of it! So good!! And it has strains of healthy bacteria in it! 🤯 it’s not only for drinking when you’re on an antibiotic though, it promotes gut health which helps with SO many body functions and systems!

 Now if you’ve ever looked at the kombucha sold in stores I’m sure you have noticed a bottle typically costs about $3 or more. That’s not a ton but it sure adds up! So i did some research and a bit of digging to find out how to make my own. Here’s a basic set up for making kombucha. The fun part is in the second fermentation which I’ll write about later. 


What you need;

1 SCOBY With 2 cups of starter tea. (Keep reading for an explanation)

2. A gallon Glass jar (must be glass, plastic doesn’t do well the acid being produced)

3. Cheese cloth or any other breathable cloth

4. 1 large Rubber band

5. 8 bags of black tea 

6. 1 cup of white sugar

7. 14 cups of water

Ok let’s talk SCOBY. I will warn you it looks nasty and may be a stumbling block for some of you. But i promise it’s not as gross as it looks and it’s so worth having! First off what is it? SCOBY is an acronym for  symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It provides bacteria and yeast to ferment the sweet tea, protecting the tea from outside contaminants, and it provides a loose seal to keep a bit of the carbonation in. If your SCOBY is introduced to harmful bacteria it will grow mold and look even worse than usual. If this happens throw it out, it’s not worth risking. But make sure you research what a healthy SCOBY looks like because what you think is gross may actually be totally fine!


There are a few options for obtaining a SCOBY. You can make one on your own, there are many helpful tutorials on Pinterest. You can buy one from quite a few whole food stores and even Amazon! Or you can ask around and see if anyone you know has an extra… because they multiply!! Thankfully i had a friend from church that was willing to give one up to me, so i was sure it was good and i wasn’t concerned about where it really came from. Do some research and see which would be best for you!

Now on to how to make Kombucha! It really is Super simple. The key to it is to be a clean freak while making it. Remember, we don’t want bad bacteria growing with the good. Wash your hands, wash all your bottles, and use clean water. 

Step 1. Bring your 14 cups of water to a boil.

2. Once the water has begun to boil add the sugar and stir until it is completely desolved. 

3. Remove from heat and add all 8 bags of black tea. I like to have the strings hanging over the side while the bags steep so that they’re easy to remove.

4. Cover with a lid and let it sit and steep for a few hours until room temperature. This step is important, you don’t want to try moving to the next step if the tea is too hot. It will kill your SCOBY 😵

5. With super clean hands pour your 2 cups of starter tea (which comes with the scoby whether you made it or purchased it.) into your glass jar.

6. Pour your new batch of tea in and then gently place the SCOBY on top. Place the cheese cloth over the mouth of your jar and secure it with a rubber band.

7. Store in a dark place for 6-10 days, depending on how sweet you want it (the longer it sits the more sugar the scoby eats which leaves the tea a bit more vinegary.) 

8. After the kombucha has finished its first fermentation you can take out the scoby (with clean hands!) and take out two cups of tea. Place both into another glass jar for your next batch. You can start another batch right away or refrigerate your scoby until you are ready.

9. Pour the remaining tea over a mesh strainer and into a pitcher or pourable measuring cup.

10. Here you can either pour the tea into glass, air tight bottles (i use swing top bottles from Amazon) or you can add some flavor to your tea! I personally do not like plain Kombucha. I like flavoring it with fruit or essential oils. You can add flavors to it before bottling it or put fruit etc directly in the bottles. I’ll share more on that later.

11. Once you have your tea in your bottles, close them up and store in a dark place for two days, then put them in the fridge to slow down the fermenting process. 

12. Enjoy!!! A word of caution, the first time you open the bottles you may have a bit of an explosion 😬 so open slowly and carefully to let the carbonation fizzle a bit. I’d suggest doing this over a sink as well 😊


It seems like a lot of steps but it is SUPER EASY and not a lot of hands on! Once my most current batch is fully done I’ll write about a couple of my favorite recipes for the second fermentation. This time we’re trying out Orange Pomegranate 😋

Have you tried any Kombucha? What is your favorite? Any other home brewers here?!

Abbey