All posts by DSpudis

Homeschooling mother of ten. Wife of one husband. Christian.

Early Spring Planting

Spring may be coming early this year. Once the soil is thawed, till the soil to get it ready for planting. Compost can be added to the soil at this time and tilled into the soil. Early spring is the time to plant peas, cabbage, onions, broccoli, spinach and kohlrabi. As far back as colonial times, Pennsylvania Germans set a goal of planting their peas by March17.

Spring is not the time to plant lettuce, tomatoes or peppers outside. They can be started indoors to be planted outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.

If you need to magnify the money in your food budget, plant a garden. Many people do not realize how many vegetables can be planted before the threat of frost has passed. Onions are planted now and harvested in July if you haven’t already picked them all by then. Once onions start growing you pick them as soon as you think they are big enough.

Peas need support once they start growing. Many people plant their peas near a fence. The fence could be one used to enclose a garden or a fence erected temporarily just to support the peas while they are growing.

All your cabbage and it’s relatives can be planted as soon as the ground is able to be tilled. If you walk into your garden and mud sticks to your shoes in big clumps then the soil is too wet. Wait a few more days and try again.

My favorite saying is you never know what you can do until you try, so get outside and discover what you can grow.

Vegetable Beef Soup

More and more people are returning to their roots. This recipe is a contribution from a friend, MaryClaire Threston. Her mother, Mary Threston created this recipe many years ago. Her suggestions include using only chuck roast; the pre-cut cubes you can buy at the grocery store are too tough.

You are going to need a large pot for this recipe!

4-5 pounds of chuck roast- cubed
4-5 parsnips
4-5 carrots
4-5 stalks of celery
1 large onion- peeled and diced
2 quarts of crushed, canned tomatoes or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Brown the cubed meat in hot oil using a frying pan. Transfer browned meat to soup pot. Add a quart of water and simmer while preparing vegetables. Wash the parsnips, onions, carrots, and celery. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. If the tomatoes are not crushed, then dice them into small pieces also.

Add the vegetables including the tomatoes to the simmering beef cubes. Add the sugar and salt at this time. Simmer for one hour. Taste before serving to see if the soup needs more salt. Remember salt is one of the most important ingredients of soup!

Enjoy good, healthy inexpensive eating and God bless! You can use caramelized onions which may cause the soup to have a smoother flavor.

Do not Throw Away Old Sheets: Recycle Them Instead

Do you have old sheets with one or more holes in them?

I keep old sheets to help me with cleaning jobs. I recently spring cleaned a cabinet which I had not cleaned for awhile. I had just two weeks before, cleaned the counter below the cabinet. I did not desire to clean the counter again after I cleaned the cabinet. I took an old clean sheet and placed it over the objects on the counter. I filled my cleaning bucket with hot water and some veg oil soap and placed the bucket on the table. I removed everything off the top shelf of the cabinet and wiped it off and set it on the table. I wiped off the shelf, the back of the cabinet, the sides of the cabinet above the shelf, the front of the door of the cabinet, and the inside of the door of the cabinet. I made sure to carefully wipe each surface to remove all the dust and oil that had collected on the cabinet doors.

The next part of the task involves looking at each item I removed from the cabinet to decide if we still need it and how to arrange the items so they can all fit back on the shelf. I repeat this process until the whole cabinet is clean and organized.

After the whole cabinet is finished, I carefully rolled up the sheet in order to keep all the dust bunnies and tiny scraps of paper within the sheet. I gathered the sheet, took it outside and shook it. I put the sheet in the wash while being very pleased I did not have to clean the counter again!

Another task I use old sheets for is cleaning out a floor level cabinet. For instance if I clean out the cabinet in which I keep my pots and pans. I place a clean, old sheet on the floor. Remove all the pots and pans from the cabinet and place them on the sheet. I move the sheet with all the receptacles out of the way, and proceed to wash the entire interior of the cabinet. I also wash the cabinet doors: inside and out. Push the sheet back over to the cabinet and carefully replace the pots and pans neatly.

Old sheets also help with cleaning a closet. I do not always have time to clean a complete storage space like a closet at once. Before Christmas I cleaned the entire bottom of a closet. I took out all the clothes. I removed everything from the floor, then I washed the walls and vacuumed the carpet in the bottom. I sorted the clothes. Threw some clothing away. Replaced everything in an organized fashion. Now, when I clean the top shelf of the closet, I will put a clean sheet or two over the clothes pole to keep the dust off the clean organized section of the closet so I do not have to start over.

Do not stop trying to keep your home clean even if you do not have time to do a whole job like a closet at once. Keep persevering! When your house is neater, you feel better about yourself. Whether your home is messy or neat, God still loves you very much! May you prosper as your soul prospers!!!

Large Rags Reap Greater Riches

Do you have a comforter in which the stuffing has moved and it is lumpy? How about a bedspread that is threadbare in places? What can you do with them other than throw them away?

You can use old bedspreads, comforters, and quilts as drop cloths. A drop cloth is some type of material that you place on the floor when you are painting or working with something messy. Drop cloths are usually made of plastic and can tear easily when walked on repeatedly. The old bedclothes do not rip unless the fabric is totally ruined, in that case the bed covering should be thrown away immediately!

We recently treated many boards to be used to create shelves for a library. We placed a plethora of old bedspreads and comforters under each of the boards in order to catch the wood conditioner, stain, and varnish that was accidentally dropped while we worked. After the project was complete, we hung the old bed clothes on the line to air out. After the smell dissipated, we simply folded the large rags and put them back on the shelf to wait for the next project.

By using old bed clothes for drop cloths, you keep the material out of the land fill a little longer. You save money by not having to buy drop cloths. The rag drop cloths should be more durable than what you can buy at the store and last longer. Reusing those large worn out bed coverings saves you money which means you reap greater riches!

Before Wrapping Up the Holidays, Get Prepared

The week after Christmas and the week after New Years are the best time to buy your wrapping paper and Christmas cards for next year. Next year will come, so why not save money and be prepared?

If you still have money left, sometimes you can get awesome deals on non perishable gifts that may be marked down as much as ninety percent. One year my teenage daughter went to the store for a Russian Christmas gift, she ended up getting a present of bath stuff for every woman on her list. She paid only ten percent of the retail price. A thirty dollar item cost her three dollars that is why she could get so many gifts.

Get a bin to keep them neat until Christmas comes again, which is sooner than you think. You should probably wait until at least October to wrap them so they look nice at Christmas. Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If God takes time to be prepared, shouldn’t we?

Beware buyer! Don’t go overboard and buy more than usual or you won’t be saving money.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Thanksgiving Day Leftover Turkey

Have you used most of the meat from your turkey?  Have you enjoyed many bites of succulent fowl? There is still value in that turkey carcass, so do not throw it away yet.

After you have eaten Thanksgiving dinner and after you have gotten most of the meat off to make ‘Turkey-a-la King’ or whatever dish you make with leftover turkey, there is still value in that bird. Get out your soup pot and place in it all that is left: the bones, the tiny pieces of meat and the cooked juices on the bottom of the pan. Cover it all with water or to within two inches of the top of the pot, if it sticks out of the pot. Put a lid on the pot and turn on the heat. If the lid does not fit, just turn on the heat, soon it will cook down and fit. Let the mixture simmer. There are two benefits to this process. One is you will be adding moisture to the cool, dry air. The second is you will be getting the nutrition and nourishment that is left in your turkey.

The bones will cook down. Any leftover meat will be rejuvenated. After the bones have cooked down, remove some of the bones and set them aside. Put the pot in the refrigerator to cool.

After the pot has cooled, the white fat will have collected on top. Carefully scrape off the fat and either discard it or you could add it to your pet’s food for a treat. After removing the fat, strain the broth you made. If the broth has gelled, that is awesome because that means you have gotten the nutrition out of the bones. Good job!

Pick the bones out of the broth. Return the meat to the broth and add vegetables to make a soup. In order to not waste a particle of that leftover turkey, if you have bushes in your yard, dig a hole and bury the remaining bones, tendons and cartilage. The remains will slowly break down over time to add calcium and other nutrients to the soil. We bury our leftover bones by our fruit trees. Remember diligence is man’s precious possession!(Proverbs 12:27)

Abundance of Autumn Apples

Autumn is the time to enjoy cider while watching the colorful leaves falling. Soon winter will be here. Are you prepared?

One way our family prepares for winter is to dehydrate apples. The Pennsylvania Germans call it schnitz. Drying apples in the dehydrator is one way to preserve apples for the winter. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate them in the oven at a low temperature. Be sure to watch the oven. You could keep apples in a basket in the cellar for the winter, but if one goes bad they could all start to rot. Another drawback to eating whole apples in the freezing weather, is you will have a mushy mess if you leave one in your vehicle and it freezes.

In contrast dehydrated apples can be left in a vehicle overnight and in the morning the apple pieces will taste fine, because they do not freeze. Dehydrated apples that are kept in an airtight container will last for many months even more than a year. Dehydrated apples can be rehydrated to make applesauce and apple pies. Schnitz also consumes less space than regular apples. Be wise and do not eat too many at a time because the dried apples have more calories per ounce than regular apples. Schnitz is a healthy treat the whole family can enjoy.

How to Reuse Workbooks

Workbooks and textbooks used for homeschooling are expensive! How can you reuse them in order to save the expense of buying new ones for the next student? Perhaps you could have the student write in pencil and then spend hours erasing the pencil or…
Buy plastic sleeves and dry erasable markers. Remove the pages carefully from the workbook and have a handy place to keep them once the student is finished with it. Cover each workbook page with the plastic sleeve before the child works on the page. Have the student use the dry erasable markers on the page to do the work. When the student is finished, mark the work done in the teacher planner. Erase the work, which takes just seconds. Put the completed page in the folder, ready to be used by the next student. Put the sleeve on the next page so it is ready for the next school day. Thank you to Luci for this great idea!

Marvelous Melon Marmalade

Do you have an abundance of cantaloupe?

One way to save some of that sweet goodness to enjoy during the winter is to make some melon marmalade. This recipe is an inexpensive way to preserve the summer bounty of cantaloupe. There is no pectin needed, which makes it less expensive to make than other jams. As anything worthwhile, this recipe takes some time to complete.

Melon Marmalade

16 cups of cubed Cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon

3/4 cup of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

4 cups of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

7 one cup jelly jars with lids and rings

In a large pot(6 quarts or larger), place the cubed melon. Pour the sugar and lemon juice over the melon and let it sit for an hour. While the melon is sitting, collect enough jars to contain six or seven cups of the marmalade. Place the jars into a different large pot big enough to hold them and cover them with cold water.

After the hour has passed, turn the heat up to medium high and begin to cook down the cantaloupe mixture stirring continuously. After you have cooked the mixture for about forty minutes, turn on the heat under the jars. Once the jars come to a boil, reduce the heat but keep them boiling for ten minutes then turn to the lowest setting until the cantaloupe marmalade is finished. Add your lids at this time.

When the cantaloupe mixture is thickened so it looks like thick applesauce, turn off the heat. Stir into the mixture a teaspoon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. If there is any foam, scrape the foam off and discard it. Place a jar funnel into a hot empty jar just removed from the pot of water. Scoop up some of the melon marmalade with a ladle and fill the jars to within a half inch of the top. Wipe the tops of the filled jars and place a lid on each one. Tighten on a ring to each jar. Replace jars back into the pot of hot water. Allow jars to cool in pot of water until they are room temperature. After they are cooled, wipe each jar and mark it with the words Marvelous Melon Marmalade and write the date on the lid as well. Put away in a dark cabinet or on a shelf away from sunlight.

Box It Up

At the end of the school year, people that homeschool take all their relevant materials to their evaluator. The students get evaluated. The evaluations get turned into the school district.

Previously I left all the school materials sitting on the shelf, while waiting for the reply from the school district. Have they have approved the work that was done? The school district can challenge the evaluation if they desire, then you need proof of all your work.

New revelation: box the materials you are not going to take to the evaluators. As you are going through the schoolwork, select the materials for the evaluator. The rest of the papers and completed workbooks go into a box. Put the box away in a closet. As soon you receive the letter from the school district with their approval, throw away the box with all the schoolwork in it. This way you go through the materials once and once your evaluations are over, you are finished with the exception of throwing away the box. You can enjoy your summer without the job of sorting last school years papers hanging over your head.