End of August on the Homestead

End of August, oh my! It amazes me sometimes how quickly the days, weeks, and months pass by. This was a good month for us, a good balance of work and play. Happy-busy, I like to call it... although I do try to not become too busy and miss the moment at hand.

It has been a dry and smoky month around here. Our pasture grass is quite yellow and withered and there is a near constant haze in the distance.

So thankful I am that we have a bountiful supply of both hay and firewood in place now! Those are the two biggest tasks we face annually as we prepare for winter on our homestead, getting our necessary supply. We now have assurance that our critters will be warm and fed and we will have a cozy house in the frigid months to come.

I always love seeing the variety of critters we have at our place. The hummingbirds seem to have moved on and I have noticed that the bluebirds are grouping together as they ready to depart until next spring and summer.

We have had lots of dragonflies around lately. So pretty!

The few chokecherries that remain on the bushes at the creek are ripe. We left them for the birds this year...

I have a new crochet project underway. I love the colors of the yarn, so cheerful! This might be a Christmas gift... oh how giddy I would feel to have a homemade gift at the ready!... or perhaps I will keep it for myself. It coordinates perfectly with a cute dress I have. Decisions, decisions.

The daylight hours are getting noticeably shorter now as we ease into autumn. It was a nice summer, but I am looking forward to fall, my favorite season of all!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today, be sure to come back in September! {smile}

Nothing Better

"I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice,
 and to do good as long as they live."
Ecclesiastes 3:12 (WEB)

Rejoicing! {smile} Have a lovely day,

I use the World English Bible (WEB) for my word pictures because it is a version in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. More information can be viewed here.

Favorite Homemade Pasta Sauce

The hardest part of this recipe was naming it. Favorite Homemade Sauce I Put on Almost Everything just isn't very catchy, so I decided to simply call it pasta sauce. {smile} But I really do have a huge batch of this deliciousness in the refrigerator almost all the time, and I use it in all kinds of ways.

I wanted a simple, frugal, and plant-based sauce that I could make from ingredients I always have on hand. The ultimate in convenience food, in my opinion. And very adaptable... this sauce is good with more veggies added, or leave out any that aren't favorites at your place.

This recipe makes about a gallon of sauce, which is enough to feed my tribe for two meals. It freezes well, or keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days. Here is the recipe...

Favorite Homemade Pasta Sauce

12 cups crushed tomatoes (the amount in a #10 can)
3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes with juice (the amount in 2 - 14.5 ounce cans)
1 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed, uncooked
1/2 pound fresh button mushrooms, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning blend
1 teaspoon ground oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rinse, peel, chop, sort, open, measure... in other words, prepare all ingredients. Combine everything in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender and the lentils are soft, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if necessary to keep the sauce from getting too thick. When it is done to your liking, carefully remove it from the heat and serve, or transfer to appropriate containers to freeze or refrigerate.

That's it, easy peasy indeed.

* If the grocery store doesn't have button mushrooms, I use portabella mushrooms instead.

* I make this sauce in my slow cooker quite often. I just mix it all up and let it cook on low all day. So easy.

* Add extra liquid... vegetable broth, tomato juice, just plain water... to turn the sauce into a soup.

* I think this is yummy on pasta, rice, quinoa, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash, toast. Yes, it is versatile.

Now you know how to make my simple plant-based everything sauce. I hope you like it, too!

Hooray for Hay

Our winter supply of hay is here! *Big sigh of relief*! Hubby and our two teenage boys made a couple of trips to a nearby ranch to pick it up... four tons of glorious grass hay for our critters to munch on and nest into in the wintry months to come.

How thankful I was to see the hay laden truck and trailer coming up our driveway!

This lovely lady hopped right up onto the trailer to give her approval. We use hay for animal feed and also for bedding in our chicken and duck coops, it has always worked well for us. And the chickens peck through it for whatever tidbits they fancy, it keeps them entertained.

Our boys helped get it stacked. Some bales went into an outbuilding, some went alongside.

What a good feeling having a plentiful haystack is!

I think the ducks approve!

Getting our hay and firewood for the winter are our two biggest homestead preparations this time of the year. We don't produce either of those things ourselves, so it does feel like quite a relief to cross getting them off of the to-do list. Hooray for hay indeed!

I hope winter preps are going well at your place, too. Wishing you a lovely day ~

A Grateful Heart

Another week has passed, another bounty of things to be grateful for... I have really been in a noticing place lately. I'm glad for it. Being mindful of the moment at hand is helping me break the habit of pondering the past and being anxious for the future. There is simply right now, and I have everything I need for this moment.

I've been talking (writing) a bit about self-acceptance and confidence on my Run Hoop Julie blog lately. It got me to thinking about my worth in Christ. I know that I am a sinner. No doubt about it.

"for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God"... Romans 3:23

And I know that I am forgiven and saved by grace alone. That's the thing... Jesus loves me, sees my worth, and died for me.

"But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"... Romans 5:8

I am quite imperfect, yet perfectly forgiven, accepted, and loved. I don't want to be so stuck in the first truth that I forget to rejoice in the second one. I am and we all are so valuable to God. Isn't that the true source of self-worth and confidence? For me it is, indeed. Gratitude abounds!

Here are a few things from my gratitude list this week ~

:: Garden on my windowsill. One of my boys planted a sunflower seed from my bird feeder and grew a cheerful yellow sunflower for me. How very kind and sweet! Teenagers are awesome, I think.

:: The eclipse. It was so surreal, the way the light was and the warm air became chilly. We were outdoors taking it in. We put a pin hole in a piece of paper so we could project an image of the eclipse onto another piece of paper for safe viewing...

the wee crescent of the eclipse on our paper

Spectacular! Then we held hands and did a silly dance, just for fun. (no picture... sorry. Ha!) A mama's got to make sure these things are remembered, right? {smile}

:: Always learning. I love learning new things, do you? Now that we are back-to-homeschool at our place, I have resumed my own studies. I am learning piano, Hebrew, and ASL. And we are working on memorizing Psalm 119 together. It is fun studying alongside my children, I am thankful for the opportunity.

:: Inspiration. I just heard that my favorite musician is releasing a new album next month. His music encourages me to walk closely with God, and also makes me want to improve my piano playing. Very good things indeed. I love feeling inspired to improve.

There is always something to be thankful for, I think. What is on your gratitude list this week?

Scripture in this post is from the World English Bible (WEB) which is in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. 

Red Velvet Birthday Shawl

Ooo... it is an exciting day for me, I have a finished knitting project to show you! I always love the show-and-tell after all of those hours spent watching the single stitches of a yarncrafting endeavor build into rows and eventually become what they are meant to be.

This is a triangle shawl, knitted from an acrylic and wool blend yarn in the red velvet colorway. I decided as I finished it up to give it to my daughter for her eighteenth birthday. She had been admiring the shawl as it was in progress, and a red velvet shawl just seemed birthday appropriate to me. {smile}

She was pleasantly surprised to discover it was hers!

The pattern was quite simple, I thought... which is just what I enjoy. I love to knit and I also like it to be relaxing and meditative, so I tend to avoid complicated patterns that require a lot of counting and concentration.

And simple patterns can be quite sweet and beautiful, I think. Just like my girl. {smile}

My daughter is very happy with her birthday shawl and so am I.

I Will Rejoice

"For you have been my help.
I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings."
Psalm 63:7 (WEB)

Have a lovely day,

I use the World English Bible (WEB) for my word pictures because it is a version in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. More information can be viewed here


My cow-friend Matilda was grazing nearby as we were outdoors yesterday. She tends to like to be near where we are... many times she has returned to the barnyard from the back pasture when she hears us outside.

Yes, I think she likes me too. {smile}

My children and I were enjoying the odd light of midday as the solar eclipse occurred. I remember an eclipse from my childhood, I think I was in the fifth grade, and I wanted my children to tuck a similar experience into their homeschool memories.

Matilda heard us, I suppose, and wandered down to see what we were up to. Actually, she was probably hoping I had an apple or a carrot for her, as I often do. I didn't have one, though, I wonder if that is why she stuck out her tongue at me. Ha!

She really is a lovely cow. A big, healthy, beautiful Jersey indeed.

I called her name and she came right over, like a great big dog... she couldn't actually get right next to me because of the fence but she is always happy to see me.

And now you have been properly introduced to Matilda. I do hope you like her, she is the queen of our barnyard and very special to me.

Around the Farm

It was a deliberately quiet weekend at our place. We have been scurrying about for the past few weekends, and our upcoming to-do list is rather lengthy... so a couple of restful days seemed much needed and refreshing.

Saturday began with my hubby and I enjoying coffee together on our deck. We saw several birds and some deer, and it was lovely not having to rush about like we often do.

There have been a lot of eastern kingbirds around our place lately...

Later in the day, my dear hubby swept me away for a surprise lunch date! What a lovely treat that was. {smile}

Saturday evening, we all went down to the creek for a bit. Our old tractor sits along the way, I thought it looked pretty in the yellowing pasture.

Ah the creek! A favorite place of ours indeed. Just sitting along its banks is so refreshing. And watching my children enjoy each others company always makes me smile.

We noticed more signs that autumn is (quickly) approaching. In just a week there are a lot more leaves turning color.

Sunday afternoon kept us closer to the house and barnyard. My fix-it-all hubby was tending to some vehicle repairs and homestead maintenance, so the children and I made a big puddle for our ducks to splash around in.

All of the ducks' splashing and quacking completely intrigued our goats, it seemed. I have always liked seeing our animals interact with and keep an eye on each other.

Back inside, I bottled my gallons of kombucha and started a new batch, while we discussed our plans and hopes for our newly underway homeschool year. We are looking forward to the upcoming solar eclipse!

The time sped by, as weekends often do. Our youngest child asked recently why Saturday and Sunday are so much shorter than the rest of the days... {smile}. Good question, I think.

Wishing you a lovely start to your week, friends.

A Grateful Heart

It has been a full week at our place. With all the usual ups and downs of life of course, but what I love about gratitude is that it doesn't depend on ups and downs... I can look for something to be grateful for no matter what is happening around me.

Here are some of the things I am thankful for today ~

:: One of our lovely daughters had a birthday this week... 18! I am thankful for her and everything about her, she is a gem indeed. We made yummy salads to have together as part of her birthday lunch. They contained greens, strawberries, apricots, dates, and raw pumpkin seeds. So good!

:: Another homeschool year is underway. My twentieth year of being a homeschool mama. We are excited, have lots of hopes and dreams, and the smell of new school supplies is in the air. What a blessing.

:: A one year streak for me! I am learning Hebrew and this week I reached a 365 day streak on one of the sites I use for practice. That makes me quite pleased.

:: Practice time. It is nice to have a few moments to grab my hoop, cover my pierced ears to protect them, and work on a new hooping trick... or just flow. It is so relaxing, I love it.

:: The feel of autumn. The smell of pine, the way the sunlight is just different this time of the year... the anticipation of cozy days ahead and all the preparations on the homestead so we are ready when they get here.

I do hope your gratitude list is overflowing, friends... what have you been thankful for this week?

Field Trip

It is back to school time at our house this week. In getting things ready, I realized that I am about to begin my twentieth year of homeschooling our children. Twenty years, oh my! What a joy and blessing it has been so far! This year our classroom contains a high school senior all the way down to our youngest starting kindergarten.

Let the adventure begin!

We like to start off our homeschool year with something special, so it was perfect timing that the nearby raptor rescue center was having an open house and education day over the weekend. The fact that I adore birds, especially birds of prey, was just a lovely detail... {smile}.

We saw a wide variety of Montana raptors and learned a great deal about them. We often see the same kinds of birds flying over and around our homestead so it was quite interesting to see them up close. All of these birds are rehabilitated but would not survive being returned to the wild, so they are well cared for ambassador birds for the raptor center.

It was amazing to see a Peregrine falcon! I had never seen one before. (I got goosebumps... or maybe they were falcon bumps? Ha!)

This turkey vulture was adorable. She loved to show off her beautiful wings for us.

Isn't the Swainson's hawk pretty? We thought so...

A majestic great horned owl. Its handler said the owl is eighteen years old... which is exactly the age one of our lovely daughters turned this week.

Our children were able to dissect owl pellets to see what the owls had been eating. We learned that birds of prey are obligate carnivores. The very opposite of my vegan self.

And my very very favorite ambassador bird... this wee saw-whet owl. So cute!

It was an amazing day and we all learned something new about birds we love and sometimes see around our place. It was a delightful beginning to our twentieth(!) homeschool year, indeed.

Plant Based Eating and Cooking

The gentle in my blog name is a reference to my plant-based vegan lifestyle. I am vegan for all the reasons... And of course the recipes I post will reflect my choices. In these early stages of this blog, I thought it might be fun (helpful? interesting?) if I lay a foundation for my eating and cooking style.

This is an overview of what you will find here in my home sweet internet homestead kitchen. {smile}

Whole plant foods of all kinds... like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes.

Very little (if any)... sugar, cooking oil, soy, salt, or processed foods.

Some convenience foods... purchased plant milk, nut butters, canned items, frozen items.

No animal products... no meat, eggs, dairy, or honey.

I wrote a lengthy post on my fitness journey blog about my eating style. You can view it here:

And whether or not you make the same choices for your lifestyle, I do hope you like my recipes. They have gotten hearty approval from people who eat everything! (also known as my family)

Have a lovely day. And do check back often for recipes.

Update: I am no longer vegan and I don't have *any* food rules or restrictions for myself. For a peek at what I eat now, see this post on Run Hoop Julie.

Good News

Dear friends, I do hope you had a lovely Christmas! Ours was simple and quiet... we exchanged gifts, enjoyed family time, watched a few Chri...

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