End of November on the Homestead

It was another rather quiet month at our place. We had a bit of snow here and there, but for the most part the weather has been unseasonably warm and dry. We have a fire in the wood stove most of the time to keep things cozy warm indoors. And I do love that it gets dark so early these days.

Here are a few images from the end of November on our happy gentle homestead. {smile}

our grand-dog Juno, keeping watch over the upper pasture

all is well in the goat pen

Matilda and her Shadow grazing in the upper pasture

my hubby is so happy with his new generator

and I have a new knitting project underway (a shawl, for me)
A few more tidbits from this month...

My dear hubby and our boys were not successful in harvesting a wild animal for the freezer this hunting season, though they did enjoy all of the time they spent together trying.

Our chickens have apparently begun their winter hiatus from laying eggs. We don't use artificial lights in their coop, so we will likely have to wait for the increased daylight hours of springtime for egg laying to pick back up again.

We are discussing adding to our goat herd, if a goat or two (or three!) that is a good match for us becomes available. It would be fun to milk goats again, I think. It has been a long time since I had any, but goat milk has always been my favorite.

That is about it for homestead updates as this month comes to an end. But you won't hear me complain about it being rather quiet around here... and there will be plenty of excitement once the snow flies, I just know it. {smile}


Being Confident

When I trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, God began a good work within me. I find amazing hope and strength in knowing that truth. And He isn't finished with me yet, thankfully.

I can make changes in my life, and I have indeed made a lot of them lately. Good and necessary changes, I think. But I can't change my heart or my true nature... only God can do that.

And I too am confident that He has changed me, is continuing to work in my life, and will finish what He began.

How exciting is that?! {smile}

"being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6 {WEB}

Wishing you peace, friends.

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.

Cherry Cheesecake Wheat Salad

This is a favorite sweet salad at our place. We often treat it as a side dish, sometimes as a dip (may I recommend enjoying it with pretzels? oh my...) and occasionally as dessert. Such a versatile and sweet thing it is! {smile}

It is a combination of the well-known cherry fluff salad and another sweet salad that my family enjoys... a wheat salad recipe that uses pudding mix and crushed pineapple. I was inspired to tweak those recipes a bit and combine them into what has become a real favorite in our family.

Cherry Cheesecake Wheat Salad.

I love to come up with ways to use the wheat berries I purchase in bulk. Most of my wheat berries go through my grain grinder and become the flour I use to bake our bread... but they are also quite tasty when cooked up and used in soups and casseroles and all kinds of things... including desserts!

We always have this salad more often during the holidays. But it is just as delicious as part of a summer picnic! Actually, you really don't need a reason to make it other than... YUM!

Here is the recipe for you...

Cherry Cheesecake Wheat Salad


1/2 cup wheat berries (about 1 cup when cooked)8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
21 oz can cherry pie filling
8 oz container of whipped topping (or equivalent amount of whipped cream)


First, cook the wheat berries. Place them into a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour, or until the wheat berries are tender. Stir occasionally during simmering time and add a bit more water if necessary... the berries should remain covered by the water as they cook. Once the wheat berries are tender, carefully pour them into a colander and rinse them with cool water. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. I prefer using an electric hand mixer for this, but if you can manage it with a wooden spoon... wow! {smile}

To the cream cheese mixture in the bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk and the cherry pie filling. Mix well, using a spoon or spatula. Add the cooked wheat berries and mix gently, so they hold their shape. Finally, fold in the whipped topping.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

That is it... super simple and extremely delicious, we think. I do hope you agree!


Burgundy Serenity Crochet Vest

Ooo... I have a finished crochet project to show you today, friends! A happy way to begin this week indeed!

I have been working on this yarncraft endeavor for awhile. It probably would have been finished more quickly, but I have gotten into the habit of eating popcorn while I relax in the evening with my hubby and our children... which cuts into the crochet time a bit. Ha!

But here it is at last. My comfy cozy handmade vest.

This is my version of the Serenity Draped Vest by Make and Do Crew. It is two large crocheted rectangles pieced together... quite a clever idea, I think!

Rather than the yarn suggested by the pattern creator, I used Red Heart Super Saver in Burgundy. It took nearly four skeins, so the vest is much like a warm and cozy blanket hugging around my shoulders.

I like acrylic yarn... it isn't fancy, and it is readily available where I live, inexpensive, and it doesn't require special treatment in the washer. Good things, those.

Oh, and I do love fancy yarn, too, of course. All. the. yarns. {smile}

Marvin also approves of my finished project. It makes a rather comfy vest *and* cat cushion, I guess!

I was hoping to finish my vest by Thanksgiving... and I finished it *on* Thanksgiving Day, while dinner was cooking in the oven. A nice little detail, right? (yes!)

Have a lovely day, friends. Craft on!

A Grateful Heart

It is Thanksgiving evening as I type these words... such a lovely day, it was. At this moment, some of the children are sitting at the table with me. My dear hubby and the youngest children are engaged in a boisterous game involving foam darts, targets, running about the house, and lots of laughter.

And my grand-dog Juno is resting at my feet... happy to not be part of the foam dart antics, I suppose. {smile}

It was a wonderful day of family togetherness... and our far away adult son was even a part of our dinner, in a way, as his video chat call came just as the feasting began. Perfect timing. Thank you, Lord.

Here are some snippets of Thanksgiving day at our place.

Our youngest boy had the very important job of stirring up the veggie / chip dip...

Our eleven year old girl made her family-famous spinach roll-ups... kind of. At the last minute, I realized I had forgotten to buy the frozen spinach. Oops! So we used a can of drained spicy tomatoes instead and found it to be even tastier than the spinach version.

So these are our girl's family-famous spinach spicy tomato roll-ups. Yum!

Let the eating begin! We traditionally eat appetizer foods for breakfast on Thanksgiving day...

Mid-afternoon, a few of us ventured outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine. A jackrabbit darted across the pasture just after I snapped this photo... he was hiding in the tall grass. Surprise!

While the kids ran around the pasture, Hubby and Juno and I walked down to the creek. It was lovely to spend a bit of the afternoon at one of my very favorite places in the world, and to pause and savor the moment with a thankful heart.

And then the feast! There was even more food all around the kitchen, it wouldn't all fit on the little breakfast island. We enjoyed our traditional favorites and tried a few new recipes, too... it was all quite delicious.

And now, it is time for dessert... we are looking forward to pumpkin pie and cherry pie and apple crisp. So many good eats today, and so much to be thankful for. Blessings abound indeed.

Thank you for coming by my blog this week, friends... and I do hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours was. May your cup be brimful with things to be grateful for! Have a wonderful weekend.


Give Thanks

"Give thanks to Yahweh,
for he is good,
for his loving kindness
endures forever."
Psalm 107:1

Thanksgiving on our happy gentle homestead... Nine of our family of ten at home, all together in one place. Lots and lots of good food. Traditions. Perhaps a walk in the out-of-doors. And then more food. Ha! All of that goodness amidst a bounty of blessings that I am indeed thankful for.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, friends.

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.

Still Happy and Gentle {but no longer vegan}

I have been vegan for over two years. And plant-based vegan... in which I have eaten only whole food plants, and also little-to-no sugar, cooking oil, salt, or soy, since March of this year. March 17, specifically. Numbers like to get stuck in my head like that. {smile}

It has been wonderful in so many ways, being vegan. I *love* animals of all kinds. Any thought or image of animal cruelty makes me cry... I have seen the documentaries. I care about the environment (Creation, as I prefer to say...) and all the world issues benefited by plant-based eating. And I believe the research that touts all of the health benefits, too.

I am not negative about veganism or vegans in any way. In fact, I think it is all rather awesome... and I will always be thankful that I got to experience it for myself.

But... {and I do pray for your kindness and understanding} these are my thoughts today.

I have an eating disorder that I am determined to conquer. Veganism is *not* the cause of that disorder. *I* am the cause of my food issues. But being vegan requires extreme vigilance and diligence about every single bite of food and sip of drink I take.

And after so. many. years. of dealing with food and fitness issues, I am tired. I don't want to scrutinize every label for animal ingredients, calories, or anything else anymore.

I want to eat what my family eats. All of us prefer real food, whole grains, and a reduced amount of sugar and cooking oil in our foods. Eggs from our very own chickens. Game meat, harvested during hunting season by our own family. Real food. Good food. And almost entirely homemade.

But my self-imposed restrictions... some from being vegan, some from the eating disorder... have made meals quite an ordeal for me. It takes a lot of extra cooking and planning for me to be the only vegan in our family of ten (eight of us at home... sometimes nine). It isn't worth it to me anymore.

We will all eat real food, lots of plants, and we will all be part-time vegans, I am sure. I have some *yummy* vegan recipes in my repertoire and many more I want to try. But we will all eat animal products sometimes, too. And maybe even some processed foods upon occasion. And it will be just fine.

Besides, the grocery budget only stretches so far. Being vegan doesn't have to be expensive... but adding so many extra vegan foods to our already tight grocery budget just isn't making sense these days.

Our whole family already eats vegan a good deal of the time. But I am releasing myself from the label and the desire to be perfect at it. I just want to eat food without a worry or a care. Any food I want. Things I make, things other people make. Local or exotic, organic or not. That sounds like freedom to me.

And... {some things truly will never change}

Our animals are safe here on our homestead. We do not raise our animals for food nor do we require them to produce it for us. Our hens lay eggs and we collect the eggs so they don't go to waste... but no hen is ever culled when she stops laying. Some of our chickens have reached the ripe old age of ten years... which is quite old, for a chicken!

Farm-fresh eggs from our very own hens? That is a blessing indeed.

My cow-friend Matilda is the queen of our barnyard. She will only be bred again if a bull pays an unexpected visit to our homestead. Our goats are pets, too. Although I *might* consider milking goats again in the future...

I think I will stop being so all-or-nothing and just go with the flow a little more about decisions like that. (And life in general!)

We are pretty much a farm sanctuary. We hope to add many more critters to our homestead as time goes on. I would love to have another cow and definitely more goats. And chickens. And... whoever needs a loving home and is a good fit for us, I guess!

So yes, I feel quite secure in calling our place a gentle homestead. Even the animals that might be milked or that lay eggs for us live out their natural lives... pampered and loved and well-cared for. But we will consume other animal products that we purchase (or hunt)... that is just the way it is going to be around here.

Still happy and gentle. But no longer vegan.

This is the journey of my simple life. Things change. Sometimes rather quickly and unexpectedly.

When I published My Vegan Story on September 20... exactly two months ago... I would have *never* guessed I would write this post today, or ever change my mind about remaining vegan for good.

Nor would I have thought I would have shared How I Lost 100 Pounds and then lose even more weight, finally realizing that I need to jump off of this merry-go-round of under-eating and over-exercising and recover from my eating disorder once and for all.

And, after a few months in jeans and exploring my style, I have returned to the look I have always loved. A skirt and top... or a casual dress... and a headband (covering).

Simply being myself. And I know it's a good thing. My littlest girl recently left me a love note reminding me that she thinks I am "magnifasint in every way." I was so impressed by her vocabulary choice... magnificent, and her unique spelling. {smile} Oh, the wonderful innocence of childhood.

I am actually rather pleased about all of this and my dear hubby couldn't be happier. I feel kind of brave. And I am not going to edit or remove any of those previous posts I wrote when I was vegan and losing weight and wearing my jeans and coloring my hair. That was then and this is now.

I truly meant all of those words when I wrote them. They are part of my story. That was how I was, and this is how I am now... just before Thanksgiving 2017.

I don't yet know how I will eventually be. And that is okay.

Because I know that if God is causing or allowing something in my life it is for my good and His glory. And even though so many things in my life are changing, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8 (WEB)

Oh yes... and I will still be sharing all kinds of recipes with you as time goes by, Lord willing. Some vegan, some not. Whatever yummy-ness comes out of my simple label-free homestead kitchen.

Kindly and joyfully,

Update: Blog posts published prior to November 20, 2017 reflect the plant-based vegan lifestyle I was practicing at that time. I had a six month hiatus from it and then resumed the plant-based vegan lifestyle in May 2018 until August 1, 2018 when my vegan story came to its final end. I have great respect for the lifestyle, but I am no longer vegan.

A Grateful Heart

Gratitude and thankfulness abound across the interwebs as Thanksgiving approaches. Isn't it lovely? It would indeed be revolutionary if the kind and cozy feelings that prevail during the holiday season could extend into the new year and beyond... for everybody, everywhere.

I know that peace on earth is not fully possible until the return of Christ, but I am going to do my part to sprinkle love and gratitude and kindness wherever I can. Would you like to join me where you are? {smile}

I enjoy reading blogs... I am a quiet reader and rarely leave a comment (and I don't even have a comment option on my own blogs) but I truly appreciate the thoughts and things I stumble upon as I explore the vast and varied blogosphere.

Often, I have been encouraged by something I read on someone's blog... I even think of the bloggers I read regularly and connect with on social media as friends, though we haven't actually met face-to-face. There are a lot of kind and caring people in the world... along with plenty of the other kind, of course!

Occasionally, I happen across an absolutely beautiful blog where it seems as though life is quite perfect all the time. Everything is amazingly gorgeous. The children never argue, critters wouldn't dream of jumping a fence, and the cake always comes out of the pan in one beautifully decorated piece.

I sometimes find myself tempted to feel inadequate... (even though I try not to compare!).

It can't really be that way all the time, I know... everyone, no matter how perfect and problem-free they seem... has struggles. And they are indeed the struggles that we need in order to grow as people and in our relationship to God and to one another.

Struggles are a good thing if one has the right attitude about them, right? And if we learn the lessons we need to learn and then apply those lessons to our lives.

I used to really strive to look perfect... so to speak. On my former blogs, I would have never shared personal struggles or anything less than pretty pictures of calm and bliss. But real life, at least for me, is a mix.

Abundant goodness and wonderful things and just enough of the other stuff to keep things interesting. {smile} Actually... to show me my need for God, and to remind me to appreciate all of the blessings I have. To change and let go when necessary.

Among other things, I am grateful that I have decided to let go of that desire to look perfect, and simply be myself. Have you read my blogs? Then I don't need to tell you I'm not perfect, ha! (you already know it)

I have struggles. Our children do argue. Every now and then a critter jumps the fence and we have to get them put back where they belong. And if a cake I make actually comes out of the pan in one piece, that in itself is cause for celebration!

Life doesn't have to be perfect to be absolutely awesome. And while sometimes I am tempted to only share the seemingly perfect parts of our days, I think being real is a better choice for me.

I am good enough just like I am... and may God get the glory for any improvements.

And now that I have written the *longest* introduction ever to a simple gratitude list {smile} - here are the snippets of gratitude I am sharing with you this week.

:: Our newest homestead critter. That adorable creature is a Pacman frog... he (she?) is so tiny and round and cute! One of our boys bought it and all its necessary paraphernalia with some of his birthday money. A good decision, I think.

:: Running. Yes, I am in the beginning stages of eating disorder recovery and I am still running. And I plan to continue... it is a process, the changes I need to make and the balance I need to find in all of this. But I want to begin as I wish to end and I want fitness to remain a part of my life. So the miles I have gotten this week (not too many) have been very relaxing and given me time to *not* think.

:: Menu planning. We have been planning our Thanksgiving menu... lots of changes, this year. There will be traditional foods (I am the only vegan around here) and healthier versions of long-time favorites, and plenty of plant-based vegan choices, too. I'm thinking of adding baked sweet potato "fries" to the menu... I think that sounds delicious!

And nine-out-of-ten of our large family will be together which is the best part of all.

:: Focusing on the good. You know, I used to be so sad that one of our adult children lives too far away to come home very often... Florida is a long way from Montana. Sure, it still can make me sad if I dwell on it and of course I miss him, but I don't let that affect enjoying what I do have anymore... and nine of the ten of us all together in one place is an enormous blessing.

:: Homesteading in a skirt. I wore skirts and dresses exclusively for years and years... and then, as I began to experiment with my newly found confidence... I began wearing jeans more often. I have nothing against jeans for others, but they are not for me. Skirts and a cute top (or a dress) it is (and headbands, too)! Wearing them all the time (once again) feels a bit like coming home. Ahhhhh.

And don't fret, I have *not* lost my confidence! Going back to skirts exclusively *is* an act of confidence, for me.

I will have to tell you about my reasons for skirts and headbands someday... people have always expressed curiosity about that choice. Note to self... I need to make a list of all these things I keep saying I will write about so I don't forget!

Thank you for coming by my blog this week, friends... the thought of someone reading (and perhaps enjoying) my words in this space does indeed make my heart glad. And I wish for you a list of gratitude even longer than this post has gotten... ha!

Time for me to grab a cup of coffee and get on with my day. Have a wonderful weekend~

Chocolate Banana Bean Pudding

Yes, you read that recipe title correctly... {smile}. Chocolate Banana Bean Pudding. This bowl of sugar-free chocolate vegan yummy-ness does indeed contain beans. And bananas. And chia seeds. And...

How about I just give you the recipe and stop with the teasing!

Here it is.

Chocolate Banana Bean Pudding


3 bananas : peeled, cut into chunks, and frozen
1 cup mixed berry blend* : fresh or frozen, save a few berries for garnish
3/4 cup canned cannellini beans with liquid** : about 1/2 of a 15 ounce can
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons almond butter
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, perhaps a bit more
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chia seeds

*the berry blend I use contains strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
**use the beans and the liquid, don't drain the beans


Put all of the ingredients into a blender container or food processor. Blend or process for a minute or so, until everything is smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add a wee bit more almond milk and finish blending. The chia seeds will not completely blend in... that's fine, they will add a bit of texture to the puree. Pour the pudding into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for several hours... at least 3 hours, but closer to 8 hours is better, I think.

To serve, spoon the pudding into small (or large!) bowls and garnish with berries. I also like to sprinkle a few cacao nibs on mine because I'm fancy like that.

Ha! (not really... I am actually rather un-fancy, but cacao nibs are a delicious treat)

My family devoured this pudding and could not believe that it had beans in it. And no sugar! Oh, my sneaky plant-based vegan ways... {smile}. I suppose *any* canned bean could be used for this pudding. I often see black beans and chocolate paired together. I prefer cannellini beans because they are so smooth and creamy which pretty much defines pudding, right?

So do give this unlikely combination of ingredients a go. Whether you are vegan or not, I think you will love this pudding!


I Will Help You

"Here, Sweetie... take my hand. Let Mama help you..."

I wonder how many times I have said those words to each of our eight children through the years. Too many to count, I suppose.

Walking beside my dear hubby, I often feel him reach out and take me by the hand. I instantly feel loved, cherished, protected... his hand attached to mine. Bliss.

This has been an interesting week for me. Ups and downs and tears and changes... a moment of excitement followed by a moment of anxiety... as I step onto the road of overcoming a long-time battle with under-eating and over-exercising.

But I have no need to fear. God is holding my hand. {smile} And I trust Him.

"For I, Yahweh your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I will help you.’" Isaiah 41:13 (WEB)

We've got this.

Wishing you peace, friends.

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. And I write about my plant-based fitness journey including my newly begun ed recovery journey on my other blog... Run Hoop Julie.

Back in the Kitchen

Recovery. I feel quite awkward about using that word, honestly. And using it about myself conjures up a myriad of reactions within me. And what do I need to recover from? An actual eating disorder? Or simply long-term habits of restrictive eating and over-exercising? I have an idea... but I am not a doctor, so I really don't know for sure. And I don't like labels anyway.

What I do know is that I am excited to begin including a *much* wider variety of delicious plant-based vegan foods in my eating plan again. To get back to lots of cooking and baking and recipe making and experimenting in the kitchen. And just in time for the holidays, too! {smile}

Awhile ago, I introduced you to my version of plant-based eating and cooking. Over on my Run Hoop Julie blog, I told you what I eat. I went back and read those posts again to see if I needed to perhaps update those thoughts as I tweak my fitness habits... but I don't think I do. And I don't need to recover from being vegan because *that* choice is an enormous blessing and nothing that requires recovering from.

Choosing to *not* eat or use animal products as much as possible is a very good thing, I think. I stand by my choice to be vegan as I work to overcome my tendency to under-eat and over-exercise. In my life, one has nothing to do with the other... my fitness struggles began many years before I went vegan.

I do plan to relax my standards within the boundaries of veganism a bit. I think it is wise for me to have fewer food rules for myself, and to break the habit of calculating calories. And those choices may affect my recipes a bit.

Most of my plant-based recipes will still contain little-to-no sugar, cooking oil, soy, or salt. That is the way I usually make things and prefer to eat. But I am giving myself permission and freedom to use and eat a little sugar sometimes, or perhaps a bit of coconut oil in an occasional recipe.

Maybe even an occasional package of vegan "cheese" or plant-based "sour cream." Yummy things, those. {smile}

I've never been one to use a lot of packaged foods, but I don't see the harm in using them upon occasion. It is one way I hope to lose some of the personal rules I have put on my own eating habits and find the joy of food once again... while staying true to my vegan convictions.

So I'm not planning on actual changes in the kinds of recipes I share with you... but perhaps some modifications as I experiment with letting go of my self-imposed restrictions. Who makes the rules around here anyway, right? And there will be plenty of vegan yummy-ness, I promise.

Food is part of everybody's everyday life. Around here, it is one of the ways I show love to and take care of my family. And myself. What we eat is also an important part of every tradition and celebration I can think of, it brings us together. Food nourishes our bodies *and* our souls.

I am glad to be back in the kitchen.

Update: I am no longer vegan and I don't have *any* food rules or restrictions for myself. 😄

Simple Weekend

It was a rather simple and quiet weekend at our place, friends. I needed it, honestly... I have been in such a predictable and comfortable routine with my fitness habits, the thought of adjusting those habits a bit and making necessary changes is somehow a lot more tiring than all of the miles I have been running lately. {smile}

Perhaps it is my resistance to change that has drained me temporarily. I want to be moldable and teachable... properly responsive to the loving voices of authority and leadership in my life... those of my hubby and the Lord. And not worried about what others think, and certainly not ruled by my emotions. Oh, what a process it is!

Changes in my plant-based vegan fitness habits are necessary... I *am* healthy and happy and plan to stay that way, so putting on a few pounds is probably a good idea. And, I am off to a good start with a positive attitude and the unwavering support of my dear hubby. One day at a time seems to be the best plan for now as I strive to put some long-standing disordered thoughts and habits behind me for good.

It is all a perfect reminder to abide in the moment at hand without regret for the past or fear of the future. The past can't be changed and the future is under God's control. Yes? Yes!

So I am thinking about going back to wearing skirts a lot more often, perhaps even all the time. For years, I wore long, modest skirts or dresses exclusively... oh, those cozy years! Not only are skirts lovely and comfortable, but a loose fitting skirt really helps me to *not* focus too much on weight fluctuations. And I can sew them myself. Woot!

I guess for now I am just going to wait and see what happens and trust that it is all going to work out for my good and God's glory. And I am pleased that I am brave enough to share this here... believe me, I feel rather awkward doing so, but step out of my comfort zone I shall. Keeping it real is important to me.

Perhaps weight and body image struggles are foreign concerns to you? They have been a thorn in my flesh for some time now! It's an ongoing journey for me, mostly joyful, including plenty of struggles *and* triumphs... but this is all good.

I will always be vegan, Lord willing... and a devoted fitness enthusiast, too. I am simply seeking to find a balance and I want to lose the disordered thoughts and habits for good. Recovery is a word that brings up all kinds of strong emotions, but that is what I plan to do. I am going to recover from fitness obsession, fully and forever. I am! Do join me over on Run Hoop Julie if you want to follow along.

Back to our simple weekend...

Friday evening was family fun night as usual at our place. We had homemade pizza and pumpkin bars and popcorn and watched a basketball game on television together. Family togetherness is bliss, I think. Add popcorn and it's a party, ha!

I spent a good portion of Saturday in the kitchen. I am experimenting with making plant-based cheese... it is going pretty well, we have been eating my first attempts in sandwiches. Soon and very soon I hope to begin sharing recipes with you, but not yet. I want to practice a bit more!

I did make a yummy pudding and, Lord willing, will share that recipe with you this week. And guess what... there is no pumpkin in it! Ha! I think the three most recent recipes I posted were pumpkin recipes so this is quite a change indeed. (no pumpkin, but there is chocolate so get ready...)

Sunday kept some of us close to home with an unexpected illness and the rest of the family busy with our usual routines. Hubby and the boys did the grocery shopping since I was home, too. How wonderful is that? {smile}

Ordinary loveliness...

I took a quiz for my ASL class and scored 100%. The perfectionist part of me thought this was pretty awesome. {smile}

We got out our Christmas sheet music books for piano. Oh, those familiar tunes are all coming back to me as I hunt and peck and count the notes once again. And to hear my children play is divine.

Hubby and his helpers did some tasks around the homestead. Quite a team, they are. It makes my heart glad to see our family working together around our farm.

I enjoyed a 30 minute run. Lovely because I love running... even better because I'd had enough after half an hour and stopped without feeling like I *should* finish the hour run I had planned. Good job, Self. {smile} And then I did a quick total body strength workout. Just what I needed.

I had time to crochet. I am almost done with a big bulky vest I have been working on. I am excited to get it finished... hopefully by Thanksgiving.

I do love a simple, quiet life. I hope you had a lovely weekend where you are...

A Grateful Heart

Good day from our snowy homestead, friends. It is 37 degrees (F) at our place this morning and we have a few inches of snow on the ground. But the sky is clear and the sun in shining... I just watched Matilda exit her pen and head up to the back pasture for some roaming and grazing. The day is off to a good start around here.

Here are a few snippets from my ongoing gratitude list...

:: Pumpkins. They have been a regular feature on our menu lately, and I plan to make pumpkin bars for tonight's family fun night dessert. Yum! I shared my pumpkin cornbread with you earlier this week. The recipe is here, in case you missed it. {And if you tried it, I hope you liked it!}

:: Changes. I wrote all about it over on my Run Hoop Julie blog, the changes I am making in my fitness endeavors. {see that post here} Turning around a bit, I am. Still plant-based vegan, still a fitness enthusiast, but making some necessary adjustments. I am excited about it. And a little bit nervous, too.

:: Yoga with my girl. We just started a 30-day yoga series together... I love the self-kindness and self-acceptance aspect of it. I am seeking to think about and act toward myself as I would toward one of my own dear children. That sounds a bit strange, I know... but one can never have too much Christ-based confidence, compassion, or kindness in ones life, I think.

:: Nine of us together. Plus my running buddy, Juno. Our oldest daughter is home with her dog for a few days. That happy squeal you may have just imagined was actually me. {smile}

:: My hubby. He is my rock-on-Earth, my best friend, my greatest supporter... God blessed me so when I became my hubby's wife nearly 30 years ago. I treasure our life together.

:: New things. My girls and I are planning to do some experimenting in the kitchen... I have done some research and found all kinds of ways to make vegan cheese! I used to make (dairy) cheese when we milked our goats and Matilda, but of course those days are behind me. But plant-based cheese?! How exciting is that!

:: Ordinary days. The kind of day that is cozy and warm and good... but you can't really say why. Nothing really new to share, nothing extra exciting to report. But lovely nonetheless. There have been lots of days like that around here lately. I am thankful.

I do hope your cup is brimful with gratitude and goodness, friends. Thank you for coming by my blog this week! The thought of someone reading my ramblings makes me smile. Have a good weekend!

Coming Home

When I was a younger homemaker... probably about twenty-three years ago now... my hubby and I began yearning for the country life. We had two, then three children at the time and lived in a big old house in a small town. I was homemaking and homesteading and homeschooling right where we were, and we began praying for some land of our own.

I did a lot of reading about frugality and self-sufficiency. We went for long, leisurely drives in wide open spaces to see what country life looked like. I kept praying for a few acres and hoped. And waited.

Along the way, we looked at a few properties and places that looked promising. But there was always something in the way... one place was too close to a highway for our taste, another wasn't suited to keeping the animals we wanted, most were simply out of our price range.

I specifically remember looking at a piece of property just up the mountain from where we live now. Again, that place wasn't quite right for us... *sigh.* As we drove down the road heading back toward town, I spotted the house that is now ours. I pointed to it and said to my hubby, "I wish *that* place was for sale."

Time passed and we moved on. It didn't seem like a homestead of our own was going to happen, so we concentrated on paying off the mortgage on our house in town. I baked and canned and gardened and homesteaded right where I was, quite content. A little disappointed, sure... but making the best of what I had to work with.

Then... rather on a whim... my hubby picked up a real estate pamphlet when he stopped by the store one evening. Looking through it together, we immediately spotted the hoped for house and property I had pointed to those months before. *This* hoped for house and property.

Oh my! I had made a wish list of hoped for things for our prayed for homestead. We wanted at least a couple of acres, a few trees, a one level house with a specific layout, and a creek. Check, check, check, and check! And it was in our price range. We arranged to see it and made an offer. Then we had to sell our house in town. Quickly!

In spite of there being so many houses for sale back then, our place in town sold within a month. Everything, every detail, fell into place. And we moved here, to what I hope is our forever home-sweet-homestead, in December 2000.

I am still flabbergasted at times when I recall all of those happenings... and I give all the glory to God for the answered prayer. God answers all prayers, but I got my way on this one... {smile} How the details worked out perfectly... it was *this* place and it was just what I dreamed about and prayed for. Amazing.

This land belongs to God and home is wherever my family is... I know that, and I would joyfully go wherever He leads us. But what a blessing it is to spend these days right here on our home sweet homestead. I am thankful.

As to the Lord

I find such peace and comfort in this verse. Amidst all the turmoil and confusion and conflict in the world... and the many voices and opinions telling me what to do, what to think, how to look, how to spend my time... I need to only heed two of those voices.

Jesus is first, of course. Our perfect Lord and Savior... the way, the truth, and the life. And next is my own husband. My husband is not perfect, but he *is* perfect for me, he is the head of our home, and the leader of our family.

I think it comes down to trust. Do I trust my husband to take care of me, to make good decisions, to lead our family, etc.? Yes I do, completely and unconditionally. What if he makes a wrong choice or decision? Well, then I stand by my man and trust that God will work it out for our good and His glory. It truly is that simple.

And I am most certainly not perfect, but I am thankful that I am not the same wife that I was in the earlier years of our nearly thirty year marriage.  No longer trying to be in control of everything, I am happy to embrace my role as my dear husband's helper and supporter.

I am not weak by any means. But I have learned to hold back and not solve every problem... and to not nag, criticize, or correct. I am strong and confident and we do discuss everything, then my dear husband makes the decisions and I trust him.

I listen to a lot of wonderful sermons and teachings. I love to read and learn and discuss and grow. So many articles, so many methods, so many excellent ideas! It can be overwhelming, and it can tempt me to feel inadequate, to question myself unnecessarily... but those two voices, the voice of the Lord and the voice of my *own* husband are the only ones that I must heed, the only ones that truly matter to me.

This past couple of years have been amazing for me, personally. I found Christ-based confidence and the gumption to begin simply being my authentic self. To stop fearing... to stop even noticing... what others think of my choices, my life, my imperfections. It can be scary to change, to embrace authenticity and vulnerability, to walk away from what always was and toward the new.

I am a born-again Christian. We have a large family. We homeschool. We live a frugal, debt-free life on a homestead with a barnyard full of well-loved critters. I enjoy fitness and hoopdancing. I knit and sew and grind my own flour and bake all of our bread. I don't wear makeup. I love Broadway. I am a mix of an eclectic variety of quirks and interests... and I still consider myself to be a conservative Christian homemaker, joyfully subject to my own husband.

Truly blessed I am, indeed. And rather imperfect... even willing to let that show. Which is a rather big deal for this former perfectionist control freak. Ha!

It's okay if others don't like my choices or understand. I don't answer to them, only to the Lord and my own husband... their love for me is unconditional. I have peace with my authentic self. In fact, I kind of like me. {smile}

Perhaps these thoughts will inspire you in your own authentic journey. I do hope they will! I have never been happier since I decided to simply be me. But I only know what is working in my own life... I never intend to set goals or standards for anyone else as I share my thoughts. Do seek the Lord and the advice of your own husband as the Bible says...

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22 (WEB)

Such freedom, indeed... I love it.

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.

Pumpkin Cornbread

Oh, how excited I am to share my pumpkin cornbread recipe with you, friends. This version is plant-based vegan so it is free of animal products. It is also free of sugar, cooking oil, and salt. And it is packed with the flavors of autumn and quite delicious, if I do say so myself.

So gather your blender, a medium sized mixing bowl and a small one, a 9-inch square baking pan, and a wire whisk. It is time to bake some vegan pumpkin cornbread!

Here is the recipe...

1/4 cup chopped dates
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (purchased or homemade)
1 cup whole grain cornmeal (medium grind)
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup whole wheat flour (purchased or home-ground)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (purchased or homemade)

Place the 1/4 cup chopped dates in the blender container along with the 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Set aside for about 15 minutes, so the dates have time to soften.

Place the whole grain cornmeal, ground flax seeds, water, and apple cider vinegar into a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined. Set aside for about 15 minutes, so the mixture has time to soften.

Lightly spray the 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, if you prefer. I don't often use cooking spray and simply soak my pan before I wash it.

Now is also a good time to preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F)... and to rinse and dry the wire whisk before we get the dry ingredients combined. Next...

Place the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves into the small mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.

Blend the chopped dates and almond milk mixture until very smooth... there will likely be some tiny date particles remaining after blending, and that is fine. Now we are going to combine everything in the bowl with the softened cornmeal mixture.

In the medium sized mixing bowl that contains the softened cornmeal mixture, add the blended dates and almond milk, the flour mixture, and the pumpkin. Whisk it all until smooth and well combined. Transfer batter to the 9-inch square baking pan.

Bake at 400 degrees (F) for about 40 minutes, or until the pumpkin cornbread is baked through and lightly browned on top. There will likely be a crack or two on the surface of the cornbread. Carefully remove the baked pumpkin cornbread from the oven and let it cool a bit before serving.

Here is my favorite way to have it... still slightly warm, with cashew butter and a sprinkle of  ground cinnamon on top. Oh my!

My whole family loves this... and I do hope that you like it, too.


Wintry Weekend

Brrr! Winter has arrived at our place, friends. Welcome, I choose to say! Lots of snow, lots of cold, a lovely start to November on our Montana homestead. Ahhhh. I am ready.

Our wintry weekend began with our family fun night fall party. We dressed up in our costumes... this year we had a couple super heroes, a couple historical figures, a genie, and a New York "newsie" in attendance. Such clever and imaginative children I have! {smile} We had homemade pizza and a special dessert, played board games, and watched a movie together. It was lovely.

Saturday was a mix of work and play... being sure our pens and fences are ready for winter and the drifting snow that is sure to come, hauling buckets of warm water to the critters, and filling the wood box. Hubby and helpers did some work on the plow truck, the older girls helped me organize and inventory our pantry. An ordinary day, it was.

I had been looking forward to watching the New York City Marathon for awhile. Since I started running this year, and joined some fun running groups, I have really come to appreciate the sense of kindness, community, and encouragement that I have encountered in other runners... and I wanted to join in.

So on Sunday morning, I got my running shoes and ran along with the televised marathon. Right in my living room, here in Montana. I did my best to match their pace and ran in place. It. was. awesome. In the forty-five minutes I had to join in before we had to be somewhere else, I got enough steps to equal nearly five miles. Oh my! True, I am easily entertained, but why not? I loved it.

I may never run a real marathon, or even a real race of any kind... or maybe I will, who knows? But I can have fun and run my race at my pace right where I am right now. And I enjoy every mile and minute of it.

And when the marathon winner crossed the finish line, I cried... I was *so* happy for her! (and when I saw footage of the last finishers crossing the finish line, I cried... I was *so* happy for them, too!)

Even with the extra hour, the weekend passed by all to quickly. I still have groceries to put away and laundry to fold... but there were *four* heads of organic cauliflower on the markdown rack and I grabbed them all (99 cents each!) so I do know what I am having for lunch today. Easy-peasy vegan lunch... the zucchini and cauliflower version... yum!

I hope the weekend was lovely where you are, and I wish you a wonderful start to your week!

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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I am not an expert of any kind. I am simply a wife, mama, homemaker, and homesteader sharing my thoughts and opinions for informational and entertainment purposes only. This blog is not monetized and does not contain affiliate links, third-party advertising, sponsored posts, or any income generating content. This blog uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and analyze traffic; go here to learn more about cookies. Please visit the policy and disclaimer page to view my privacy policy, cookie policy, disclosure, and full blog disclaimer. Use of this site indicates agreement with all of its terms and conditions.