January 2009 - Posts - Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller
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Surviving on Shoestrings by Donna Miller

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January 2009 - Posts

  • Homesteading on a porch

    I always love to hear the trials and triumps of others who have that same pioneering spirit of a homesteader. Many people are overcoming the limits in which they live (financial, spacial, educational,etc) to find ways to improve their lives on a deeper level than monitarialy. That is the homesteader's spirit!

    Below is a partial blog/newsletter from a ministry in Isreal that I follow/support. I find this to be one of the most useful recycling ideas for styrofoam. With this plan, anyone can grow veggies on their porch or apartment balcony! Thank you to Jerry Golden for sending this out to his supporters: http://www.thegoldenreport.com/

    This is Joel with two Styrofoam boxes.  For example with this size box you can plant four tomato plants,


    Get what is called a pond basket or one you use to hold items in under your sink as long as it fits in the box.  Draw a line to cut at the height of the box.



    Cut like so.



    It should look like this when you are finished with the cutting.



    Make a small notch in the rim to be used as an over flow whole so you can’t over water your plants.



    Turn the box (number 2) the top box over and mark around the (A) pond box. And then make a second mark (B) inside that mark to be cut this will give the pond box the chance to add strength to the bottom of the upper box. 





    Then cut along the inner line like this.




    Take a small drill ¼” or a screw driver and make holes around the hole you cut being sure not to weaken the bottom to much.



    Tape the pond box in place just to hold it the weight of the dirt will hold it later on.



    Make a hole the same size as the PVC or rubber pipe you are using for a water inlet. I use a 1 ½”.



    Fill the top box with organic potting dirt, making sure to fill the pond gasket for that will act as your wick to draw the moisture up to your plants as they need it.  The beauty of this system is you don’t waste water and you can’t over water. 


    A picture of our garden, the tomatoes were planted about one month ago, already there are many green tomatoes.  The lettuce has grown so fast that it is hard to believe and taste very good.




    I hope this helps, but once again if you don’t feel like shopping and can afford to buy ....it would be much easier for you.


    What you will need.

    2 boxes the same size.

    Pond basket

    Tape & pipe

    Potting soil

    Seeds or plants to plant.


    Shalom, jerry golden


    It seemed 'share-worthy' a topic to blog about. All credit goes to Jerry Golden and the idea/project would not be complete with out the pictures.


    The homesteading mindset is everywhere! Just look outside the norm and stretch!

  • Nation wide peanut butter recall - homesteading mindset solution

    In case you haven't read/heard there is a huge peanut butter recall (yes, again) across the nation. It is affecting everything from the stuff itself to ice cream and candy bars that peanut butter is in - I mean EVERYTHING is getting the FDA warning for recall if it contains ANY peanut butter.  There is even an investigation as to how this occurred on such a massive scale.

    Today, we finished our last store-bought peanut butter. Now, we had purchased this giant canister (think huge coffee can size) a month before the recall started, so I knew it was fine. Also I checked the place it was distributed by when the recall fist started, but now, I trust no new jars of the stuff. So what's a person to do?

    Flip that homesteading mindset into gear and off we go to a tasty solution...

    We are MAKING our own peanut butter.  I made butter today from the neighbor ladies cow's milk (THAT was cool!) so why not peanut butter.

    Here's the recipe I'm using:

    Prep time: about 10 minutes


    • 1 1/2 c. unsalted roasted peanuts
    • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
    • 2 TBS raw honey


    • food processor
    • bowl
    • mixing spoon
    • storage container
    • measuring cups and spoons


    For smooth peanut butter:

    1. Mix the peanuts with the peanut oil, and pour the mixture into the food processor.
    2. Process the mixture until it's very smooth.
    3. Scrape sides of the processor often between blending to create smooth texture.
    4. Add honey and process a bit more
    5. Store your smooth peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.

    For chunky peanut butter:

    1. Take about 1/4 cup out of your 1 1/2 cups of peanuts and set them aside.
    2. Mix the rest of the peanuts with the oil, and pour the mixture into the food processor.
    3. Process the mixture until it's very smooth, then stir in the peanuts that you had set aside.
    4. Scrape sides of the processor often between blending to create smooth texture.
    5. Add honey and process a bit more
    6. Process a few seconds more to create the chunks in your chunky peanut butter.
    7. Store your chunky peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.

    Serves: 12

    Serving size: 2 tablespoons


    Don't let the 'buyer beware' make you afraid - just do what the homesteaders had to do when things were in short suply, change your mindset and make do!

  • Organize: You might find hidden treasures!

    Since being on my huge resolution kick of organizing, - yeah, okay, so it's the ONLY resolution I really have, but it's big and far reaching -  we decided to put more boxes away up in the attic above the pump room. For those of you who don't have a well and pump, it's like an external storage shed with a pump in it. Not really a shed but not an insulated room either. Anyway, we got busy today (as the plumber was tearing up our kitchen and dining room slab floor - oh joy) and moved a lot to that attic. Lo and behold - we found some really great stuff up there! It must have been left by the previous owners:
    • 2 Antique cane chairs
    • 1 Antique cane rocker
    • 6 old Coca-cola glass bottle boxes (hold the bottles for return for $ refund - haven't seen those in a while)
    • Some more tomato cages
    • Insulation for pipes (which we need!)
    So now, all because of this organization kick, we don't have to buy some things we needed and we have some really cool antiques we didn't have before! Yay!
  • Organize: The effects on the spirit

    Life on the homestead (at least on ours) can be first riddled with chores (mind you it's not a complaint) and distractions (okay that one is a complaint) to the point that we can sometimes feel that our heads are spinning from the 'to do' and 'didn't get done yet' lists.  It is true for many of us, no matter where we live, that life can get like that far too often. Organizing is huge for a homestead, but I surmise that it is equally as important to having a sense of peace anywhere you live. For the most part,

    I am task oriented in the morning and creative in the afternoon and a limp noodle by night fall (that's when laundry gets folded!) I have figured this out this week as I've organized the daylights out of many areas at home. Also I've noticed how my very spirit within me reacts to this new organization. It's more than getting my ducks in a row or closet cleaning. Those are tasks. There is a deeper sense behind all this organizing that first is affected by it and second drives me to continue it.

    One task for my organizing was to get a grip on time, then on actual stuff and the home. The effects have reached into saving our money and our health, but the shear act of getting a chair into our master bedroom for a place to have my morning Quiet Time has been one benefit spiritually. Also, the cleanliness and order brings a peace that has helped enable my mind to focus - pray and be still. There are still areas of the house that do not create that spiritual sanctuary like I'd like (my office is one of them) but it's getting there. How does this relate to stretching dollars? Well, when the home is peaceful, we tend to enjoy it and being here more rather than looking (and paying) for escapism (eat out, go out, movies, etc).

    How does it relate to creating a homestead mindset? Well, the self-sufficiency of a person with a homesteading mindset is more satisfied when you can enJOY the home and creative parts of this life rather than battle the clutter, disarray and feel spiritually weighed down by your surroundings.

    If you are experiencing the winter doldrums, let me encourage you to go purge an area of your home. Organize it. Just see how it affects your spirit. Better yet, if you don't love it or use it - GIVE it to someone who NEEDS it and see how THAT affects your spirit!


    Best Blessings!


    Donna Miller


  • More about my single New Year's Resolution - Organize: it will keep us healthy

    As I mentioned last entry, I wanted to take note at how my one and only New Year's Resolution effected us in the area of health.Well, organizing things around this homestead has definitely paid off on the health side already. I'm down 4 pounds since Dec.31!The area of health is so deeply tied to less stress and proper time management that of course my ONE goal for 2009 (get organized) effects it.  Let me share some ways it is working:
    1. Organizing my Time better - I can get to some exercise for at least 30 minutes to myself 5-6 days a week!
    2. Organizing our meals better - they are more balanced, better budgeted, and healthier than fly-by-fridge meals.
    3. Organizing my Day better (no, to me it's not the same as my time) I focus on tasks I want out of the way early (such as exercising!) or ones that are of highest priority (like reading Scriptures and prayer) before other tasks crowd in.
    4. Organizing my kitchen and pantry better (see #2) has the same effect on the meals.
    5. Organizing my own thoughts better has helped me look at what a blessing it is to care for my family's whole well being.
    6. Organizing my office has GREATLY de-stressed me.
    7. Organizing our furniture has allowed us to gain a work out area in the living room.
    There are so many more areas of our health that the simple task of organizing has impacted - just the peace of 'things in order' causes a huge release of creativity and freedom.How does this fit with the homesteading mindset blog title - well for that you have to go back to read the first blog on what homesteading is all about - I promise they ARE connected.Next I am going to look at what my ONE resolution has done to affect our lives Spiritually.Best Blessings!!


    PS: OH HEY - I just put up a video on what to do with left-over rice!!! - GO SEE - HERE - http://www.youtube.com/user/thewheatguy



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