Lunch Time

A big part of saving time and money goes into planning your meals.  The world likes to show us the convenience of grabbing on the go, but look what that has done to our waistlines and our wallets!  Yikes!  The best plan is to plan, prepare and work in your meals during a less busy time of the week.

I’ve said before that I like to do my meal prep on Sunday afternoons.  I do work outside of the home during the week so I understand when there is the argument of time.  However, packing lunches does not need to be a time hog.

The benefits of packing lunches greatly outweighs the time argument.  Whether you are packing for yourself, your spouse and/or your children, the benefits are all the same.

  1. You control the portions.  Everything from fast food to sit down is all greatly increased in the area of portions.
  2. You control the contents.  When you make, pack and measure, you know exactly what is going into your body.  If you or a family member have allergies, you no longer have to worry about ingesting something bad for them.
  3. The cost is greatly less.  The cost of putting together a lunch is greatly less then buying on the go.  Journal it and you will see it for yourself.
  4. Less waste. This is a huge item, you aren’t added to the garbage issue and if you pack wisely, you will cut down on your own disposables!

What you will need:

  1. A Lunch Box.  I know the picture shows a brown paper bag.  But I really do not advise using one for many reasons.  You will want a stable lunch bag/box that can hold some time of cooling pack, easy to carry or put into a backpack (good idea for kids and adults alike), but big enough to carry what you need for the day.
  2. A Reusable Cooling Pack.  These are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.  I have one that is very thin and does a great job of cooling my lunch bag very well.  Just put it in the freezer every day when you get home and it will be ready for the next day!
  3. Reusable item containers.  You can pick these up at the dollar store.  Make sure you get microwaveable safe ones if you are planning to need to reheat items.  A Soup Thermos is also a great item to have so you don’t have to use a microwave!  I am not in favor of using disposable wrappings and bags, trash is trash, whether it comes from home or from somewhere else.
  4. Reusable Coffee/drink mug.  Avoid buying bottled water or coffee.  Make and bring your own and refill for free during the day.
  5. Reusable utensils.  Have a specific set for your lunch box(es).  Again, avoid disposable.

But what do I pack?

This is where it gets fun.  You are only limited by your imagination!  For kid lunches those are just super fun!  You can make your own “lunchables” of crackers, bread cut out using cookie cutters, meats, cheeses… but we will get to that.  Here are some ideas, adults enjoy the fun stuff too, sometimes even a little more!

  1.  Sandwiches do not need to be boring!  Use a large shaped cookie cutter to cut bread, meat, cheese and stack together.
  2. Afraid your sandwich will get soggy?  Pack the bread in one container and the items in another as and use a small condiment container for your ketchup, mayo or mustard.
  3. Subs.  Hot and cold subs are so simple to prepare at home with what you have on hand when you plan ahead!
  4. Hot Dogs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Hot dogs.  My kids would love it when we would have “Hot Dog” week.  I would grill up hot dogs ahead of time and each day they would get a different type.  Monday, Pizza dog; Tuesday, Chicago Style Dog; Wednesday, Taco Dog (Chili dog with taco seasoning) and so on.
  5. Do not fear the dinner left overs!   When I make casseroles, I will make enough to put aside for some lunches for myself.  Especially in the winter to have a nice hot lunch.
  6. Soup and Salad.  How often to you pay $12+ for soup and salad at a fast food place?  So inexpensive and easy to do at home and pack!  I will make a pot of soup during the week and set aside portions for my lunch (and even freeze some like chicken noodle).  Salads, easy peasey.  Toss in some mixed lettuce, tomato and cucumber and whatever else you like and use a condiment container to carry our dressing.
  7. Chicken nuggets.  Chicken nuggets are so easy to make at home.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  Pre-make a batch by taking chicken thighs and or breasts and cutting into bite sized cubes.  sprinkle with fine bread crumbs if you like and cook in a skillet.  They freeze up perfect and you have a much better nugget.
  8. Sweet Tooth.  There is nothing like a sweet treat in the middle of the day.  The best thing is to bake and portion out a cookie a day.  Make a healthy sweet treat, or better yet, add in some fresh in season fruit!  My children when they were young liked something called “dirt pudding” which was simply chocolate pudding with crushed a crumbled cookie on top and I would put in a gummy worm or a gummy flower in each little cup for them.
  9. Homemade Lunchables.  These things are expensive in the store.  Make your own.  Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes out of cheeses and meats and add to a decorative container.  Add in grapes, pretzel sticks and other finger foods as a side.  Avoid the bad preservative packed snacks!
  10. Pizza.  I’m not talking about left over take out.  If you don’t make your own pizza and save some for lunch, make mini pizzas by using biscuit dough (I make my own), and putting on toppings and bake.  You can store these for the week and even freeze them after baking for later.
  11. Burritos.  My husband is responsible for getting me to love burritos for breakfast and lunch.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  My favorite is a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and green chilies.  I enjoy it for breakfast and lunch.
  12. Egg Bites.  These are great for breakfast and for lunch!  Here is how you make them.  Breakfast Egg Bites

Here is a hint.  If you see it “prepackaged” in the store with cute enticing packaging, you can make it at home cheaper, with less preservatives and much better for you!  Another thing to remember that buying individually wrapped is much more expensive then buying a larger size and parsing out on your own.   Apple slices are just as easy to slice yourself, and a boiled egg is just as easy to do yourself instead of buying it boiled, and honestly, probably safer.

With all the food health warnings coming out in regards to fast food chains, take the time and responsibility over your own food.  Buy in season, enjoy variety and enjoy the health and saving benefits!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

 

Planting Seeds

I bet you expected this to be about gardening, didn’t you?  Well, in a way it is.  We are growing a garden that will feed us for the rest of our lives if we are wise, or we are creating a barren plot that will cause us to fall.  I know, that isn’t a very positive way to start an article is it?  Truth be told, today’s world has us creating a barren plot.  How can we avoid falling into the trap of World View?

Think of pennies as seeds.  Every penny placed wisely grows, pennies cast to the side are lost.  I remember overhearing a conversation that pennies are useless in today’s society and should be “discarded”.  Now even a child knows that when you put a penny in a jar each day by the end of the year you have $3.65.  When you start finding pennies in the couch cushion, in the car, on the sidewalk, and you pick it up and add it to the jar, well, you just increased your income.  Seeds that grow into a crop.  One seed gives birth to a crop of fruit.

As with seeds and a garden, the soil must be primed, there is maintenance and care and daily pruning involved.  A seed will not grow on rock.

woman standing on pasture

How to prime your soil:

  1.  Budget.  I talk about this all the time.  A budget should be a living thing, not something you do once and shove in the drawer of a desk.  It is constantly changing, growing, shrinking.  Working with your budget weekly will allow you to see upcoming storms, droughts and be able to prepare accordingly.  During good times that your ‘crops’ are doing above expectation, work on saving and giving.
  2. Revisit your wants vs. needs.  Another subject I talk about all the time.  This is a subject that should have lots of communication around with your family, especially your spouse.  Exactly what do we need as a family?  What do we want?  Is our want justified?  Just a clue here, just because the neighbors are going on a one month cruise does not mean you have to do the same thing.
  3. Making your home work for you.  No, I am NOT talking about a refinance loan.  I’m talking about utilizing the spaces.  Instead of just flowers, plant herbs and vegetables.  This will help with your grocery bill and your health.  If you have land, put in a full garden and learn to preserve by canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Berries and fruit are also a great addition for visual as well as food.  Do you live where you can have poultry?  Chickens are a wonderful source of protein in both eggs and meat, but be prepared for lots of work.  Meat Rabbits are also a great way to supplement your meat intake.  You will need a to understand that meat rabbits are food, not pets.  With bringing on livestock you will need to look into your homeowner’s insurance, community rules, etc.
  4. Family Rules.   Seeds are best planted early.  With children its the same way.  Teach your children well in the areas of money and work.  Give them chores, teach them young to keep track of their earnings.  Encourage work at the proper ages and teach them responsibility of their earnings.  Every adult & young adult who is healthy and living under the roof need to have responsibilities both in work and finance.  Do not permit anyone to slide.  You are responsible for raising the next generation.  Here is also the difficult conversation section, do not be afraid to confront misuse of finances, even if it is with a spouse.  Do not attack, do not fight, find common ground and discuss to avoid the storm in the future.  Everyone is in this together.
  5. Find your leaks and areas of waste.  This is not only in the area of actually spending money, but in how you are spending time.  If you are “too busy” to cook at home, look at why?  Are you spending time in front of the television instead of meal prepping?  Have you overbooked your kid’s activities so much that no one has time to rest and focus on each other?  Time and Money both are things that we can control how they are used.
  6. Invest.  I’m not talking necessarily about the stock market.  I’m talking about investing in your home, future and self.  Use your money and time wisely to build not to break down.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a cable bill, cut the cord, and spend the time outside with your family building and doing instead of spending time in front of the television or all on different devices in different rooms.  Spend pennies on preparing a garden and watch your grocery bill go down.  Take the money you normally would spend on a daily coffee shop coffee and put it in a penny jar, you’ll be surprised how much money you have at the end of the month.  But don’t go out and reward yourself with it, pay off some bills instead, put it back into the crop to grow more.
  7. Pay off and get rid of the plastic.  I talk about this one often as well.  In today’s world, yes unfortunately, we do need a credit line.  But watch how you utilize it.  Ask yourself, do I really need <item, service> right now?  Can I save for it?  How much will this cost me in interest?  Can I buy it used for less and still save money on maintenance of this item/service?  Can I make it myself?  If you do run up a card.  Pay off your smallest debt first, then take the money you would be spending on it and add it to the next in the list of debt, doubling that payment amount, leaving the larger ones at their minimum payment until you move up the ladder.  This is called the Snowball effect, Dave Ramsey teaches this.  I am a huge follower of his and his Financial Peace University.  I love his budget tool at everydollar.com .
  8. Keep a small amount of cash on you at all times.  I will keep $5.00 on me in cash and if I am out and about and need something like water, I can use the cash and not a card, it also makes me more aware of how I’m spending things.  Keep track of your cash use as well.
  9. Utilities and Insurance.    It is wise to review your utilities and insurance at least quarterly or after a big life change.  I know you are thinking why utilities.  Here is the thing, if your electric bill jumped spiked the previous month/quarter you should ask yourself why.  Was it an overly hot or cold month?  If it was, do you really need the air conditioner set cold enough to support penguins?  Do you need the heater going like a dragon on overload.  There is a difference between comfort and access.  learn to acclimate a little better with alternative methods.  Dress appropriately for the weather inside and outside.  Adjust the thermostat when you will not be at home.  It’s all about adjusting behaviors and expectations.  Your insurance should be looked at periodically to make sure you are being covered for what you really need to be covered for.  There is no reason to be insurance poor.  You can also save up in an emergency fund to offset costs here as well.

I will continue to discuss these items throughout the blog.  I hope you enjoy them and that they help you think of ways to be more efficient and cost sensitive in your life so that you can grow a most productive crop.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”  Proverbs 31: 16-17

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

A Tough Conversation

Money.  When you hear that word, what do you think of?  Does it make you worry, depressed, happy, longing, dreaming?  In this world no matter what, we need money to survive.  No matter how self-sufficient you are, you still need money.  The trick is to manage what you have wisely and not get caught up in the world and the tricks that are played to separate you from your hard earned wages.

There are more arguments in a relationship about money than any other subject.  It causes strife and worry.  But it doesn’t have to.  It all depends on how you view it.  Money is a tool, it is not your life and its not meant to be that.  We work to earn money to live, we don’t live for work.  Many times our priorities get shifted to the world’s view and we become trapped in that more, bigger, better trap.  The ease of credit, the thoughtless buying or lack of planning, these all lead to leaks in our financial, and eventually our mental well-being, and even sometimes the end to wonderful relationships.

Tips to simple rules of being healthy frugal:

  1.  Understand your wants from your needs.   This is a big one.  TV, internet, friends, the world in general preaches that our wants are our rewards and pushing our wants to become what we think are our needs.   You need shelter, food and water, clothing (basic) and previsions, and of those, you don’t need the biggest and the best.  All of the other points will follow this mentality, if you know a need from a want that is your biggest hurdle.
  2. Eat at home and make your drinks/coffee/tea at home.  I am still amazed at how many of my friends will spend $3-$5 on a cup of coffee.   Make it at home and buy a nice carry mug.  We buy a dark roast coffee at a local bulk store that is better than any coffee shop grind.  Also, when you eat at home and pack your meals for work you know exactly what is going into your body.  Keep it natural, not only will your wallet thank you, so will your waistline.
  3. Buy second hand clothes.  While there are items that should never be bought second hand (underwear, hair items, personal stuff) most all of your clothes can be bought second hand and be in style.  If you do need something ‘new’ then utilize your discount and outlet stores.  I enjoy an online store called ThredUp  they will even pay for your gently used clothes you no longer want.
  4. Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Friends/Family.  Consider it a treasure hunt for something you really need.  By utilizing the mentality of looking for a needed item, it will also give you the time to really think about if you really need it.  Keep a list.  We do a lot of canning especially when our garden is coming on, in the store canning jars are high priced, but you would be surprised how many you can find in good condition in garage sales and thrift stores, and even better yet when someone is cleaning out their basement and finds a box of them!
  5. Grow your own food!  This may seem extreme to many, but to be honest, its not that hard, and you will watch your grocery bill shrink, especially if you preserve by canning, drying and/or freezing what is in season.  Even if it is only greens, tomatoes and cucumbers you will quickly notice a difference in taste, quality and your grocery bill.  For those who can house AND TAKE CARE OF chickens, this is a great source of eggs and meat as well.
  6. Stop relying on credit cards.  This is a hard one, especially in today’s society.  Unfortunately, we all need at least one, especially to travel.  Choose wisely and use wisely.  Do not use it as a “just put it on the card” excuse.  We all fall into that moment of over using a credit line and then feel the pain later.  Learn from your mistakes, pay it off, close what you can, move on with your life.
  7. Home.  A home falls under the need topic but it does not mean you have to move into the Wayne Mansion.  You don’t need to have the biggest and the best.  Keep in mind your purpose.  Do you want minimal maintenance (every home will have maintenance).  Do you really want to own a home?  There is nothing wrong with renting until you reach a point in your life that is right to own a home.  Just don’t pay ridiculous rent for nothing.  What purpose is the home to have?  Do you have children?  Will you have children?  Do you want a homestead to be more self-sufficient?  Does the location really suit you?  What kind of taxes are you looking at?  So much can become overwhelming quick, and if you are building, keep in mind that you do not need to get the top of the line of everything in that home at the time you build.
  8. Budget, budget, budget!    I know, its boring and stressful and makes you accountable.  Don’t just set the budget and ‘fudge the numbers’, actually add what you are spending to each item so you can see it.  I like Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar program (everydollar.com).  Trust me, it will help you become more aware of where your money is going.
  9. Save your money for a rainy day.  The storms will come.  It is not a matter of if but when.  Your car WILL break down.  There WILL be medical needs and emergencies.  There WILL be accidents.  There will be times when money is tight.  Just because you get that big bonus, don’t go hog wild, feed the piggy bank instead.
  10. Fix the leaks.  What is a leak?  This is where your money invisibly disappears.  Interest rates on credit cards and loans are a horrible leak and you need to get those stopped immediately.  Other leaks can be not looking at your car or home insurance often to tweak as life changes.  It could be that daily stop at the coffee shop or bar, or the quick meal on the run through a drive through.  What about online subscriptions or cable that you rarely if ever use?  A leak can seem like nothing but if you start recording those leaks you can see how quickly they add up.
  11. Work.  If your income isn’t cutting it then its time to roll up your sleeves and put more into it.  Everyone who adult age and healthy must be pulling their weight.  Children who are not adults and living at home can help with chores and they too can have certain responsibilities so they can learn the value of a dollar as well.  If you realize you are over your head in debt or a situation arises for the need, then look into ways that can help your financial situation.  Do you have a hobby that can add some added income, cleaning, cooking, a craft.  You will need to look at local licensing to sell out of the home and many times into your homeowner’s insurance.  Now, here is the hard part, don’t spend the extra because now you have an extra income.  PAY OFF THAT DEBT so you can get back to enjoying life more.

These are only a few of the basics of becoming money wise and I hope they help calm your mind and help you on your way.

“The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”  Proverbs 10:16 NLT

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Finding Time

More than often I get questions and comments from friends and colleagues such as: “How do you find time to do everything you do?” or my favorite “Do you ever sleep?”

My morning and evening devotions have found their way to focus on this subject here lately. As a result, I’ve felt the urge to write about it.

Finding time, makes it sound like time is this object that is fleeting and always out of our reach, but in fact, its right there, in our hands at all times.  Time isn’t fleeting, its the choices that we make to cause it to fly away or be used productively.  Time, as well as money, are two things that in reality we have a choice on how to use them.  We can use them wisely, or we can waste them.  A wise person, saves and uses wisely a fool wastes them on fleeting things.

There is also a very big difference in resting and being lazy.  Resting is a refueling, lazy is a waste of resources.  Resting comes as a result of hard work and productivity and finding calm.  Being lazy, is relying on others and outside sources to provide for us.  Do you remember the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper?  The grasshopper mocked the ant for working so hard in the hot summer months, he insisted on singing, playing and being “lazy”.  The Ant worked diligently to fill its home with food so it could survive the harsh winter to come.  The story has a harsh lesson in the end.  The Grasshopper starved, the ant survived.

Here are some of the ways that allow me to focus on what is truly important, I hope they will help you on your journey.

  1. Wake up early and be consistent throughout the week. rooster
  2.  Morning is very important; how you start it will be the direction of your day.  Because of this, I will slowly wake up.  Laying in bed until my brain isn’t fuzzy anymore and then start moving to get ready.
  3. Make your bed.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Making your bed each morning gives you a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
  4. Daily Devotions and prayer.  I start my day with a simple devotion time and prayer to ask for guidance and wisdom in the upcoming day.  I also give thanks for having another day and for my husband.
  5. Keep your clothes simple.  Plan the night before what you will be wearing the next day and know what you have to wear.  In short, don’t have a department store in your closet or most of it in the laundry basket.
  6. For those of us who must work outside of the home as well as at home, remember this always.  We work to live, not live to work.  Your worth is not measured by your job and career.  I make sure that my job (as a programmer in the Tech World) has specific hours.  I work 40 to 50 (if uncontrolled deadlines are needed) a week.  When I am at work, I am at work.  I also allow myself a lunch break, which normally I write or take a walk during good weather.  Breaks are very important for keeping the mind clear.  I also spend the first 10 minutes of every morning, organizing my day with the tasks for that day and moving them along as need be, utilizing an Agile methodology.
  7. For both home and work I have outlined in a journal of what my goals are for the day, nothing lofty, just what needs to be done.  Keep It Short & Simple.
  8. I keep track of what I spend or earn.  This helps me with my budgeting and keeps at the front of my mind to not waste funds.
  9. At home, I keep a strict rule that home is for home and family.  This includes preparing the pantry for winter from our garden and supplementing with items from local farmers.  This is how I am able to can fruits and vegetables in season and bake homemade breads and rolls.
  10. I do not stay “tied” to my phone or computer.  I have found that keeping a written bullet journal handy to keep track of my to-do-lists, ‘shopping’ lists, moods, favorite scriptures and other things is better than being “plugged in”.  This way I’m not distracted to waste time on other “apps”.  I also have found that “helpful” apps are really not helpful at all, in fact they waste time more than anything as you grow to having an obligation to them.
  11. Shopping:  Okay this is a touchy subject.  I know that that the grocery apps are becoming a huge thing now days.  But convenience creates its own demons.  Plan your grocery needs, take the time to go and get only, what is on your list.  You will save money and be more prepared.   Keep a rule that if you don’t have an item in between runs, you will agree to go without, period.  If it is a necessity, say yogurt, make sure you have it on your list to pick up on the grocery run.  Keep your runs to once every other week, maybe longer if you can.  The time and money saved continues to grow. Also, non grocery shopping apps suck you into spending more money and time then what you really need, they speak to your impulse voice.  Its amazing how much you can spend in this way.  UNPLUG.
  12. TV is not a priority.  In fact, for us, it’s rarely on with the exception of some news and maybe an old TV show now and then, even then if my husband and I are enjoying the television, I’m knitting, crocheting or sewing while watching.  We have also cut the cable cord.  This saves us over $100 a month, another frugal tip.  Getting rid of TV will save you a ton of time and a ton of stress.
  13. Understanding your needs versus your wants.  Being plugged into the world tends to make it very confusing on exactly what a want and a need really is.  Especially when the new car, vacation, food, clothing, personal ads are constantly talking to you, even if you say you don’t pay attention to them, they become that little voice saying you need this, you need this to be popular, to be better, to be wanted.  Turn them off.  You don’t NEED any of it.  By not cluttering your life and not spending more and more money on things (wants) the stress will start to melt away.
  14. We eat at home with basic ingredients.  I have heard the argument that it takes too much time to fix good meals at home.  Hogwash!  The time and money you spend driving, waiting, eating and driving home, not to mention the health effects on your body, you could have had a much better meal and not spend half the money and the time.  If you have a tight work schedule, then meal-prep on the weekends.  Plan ahead for the week with a schedule.  This will also help you save money.  Oh, and make your morning coffee at home don’t hit the drive-through.  The money you spend on a good coffee maker and a travel mug, is pennies compared to the monthly cost of that daily/multiple coffee shop run.
  15. Enjoy the moment.  Instead of worrying about what you need to do tomorrow.  Schedule your week so you can sit back and enjoy the moment with the ones you love.  Now, when I say schedule your week, this DOES NOT MEAN DOWN TO THE SECOND!  Keep your load light, make room to enjoy life as life comes to you.  Do NOT over schedule.  Especially, if you have children.  Do not schedule an event every night.  Set limits for you and for them.  Take in a board game, enjoy conversation, a walk, and do chores together.
  16. This one goes with not over scheduling your time.  If you can’t give it at home, then don’t give it away somewhere else.  What does this mean?  If you are too busy to cook for your family, don’t volunteer to bake for the bake-sale.  If you don’t have enough money to buy your kid’s school supplies, don’t go out with friends to dinner and or a bar.
  17. Pack your lunch and prepare your breakfast the night before.  This way there is no rush and no temptation to hit the fast food place on the way to where you are going.
  18. Tidy up before bed.  Make sure the dishes are done, items are put away.  When you take care of things as they arise, the job is not near as daunting.
  19. Now here is the big one:  REST.  Yes, REST.  Take some time to unwind, read a calming book or an evening devotion.  UNPLUG, do not pick up that phone or tablet before bed, it stimulates the brain.
  20. Go to bed “early”.  We try to be in bed between 9 and 9:30 pm each night, this means we easily obtain 7-8 hours of good sleep before we start all over again.  A good night’s sleep is important for your body to refuel and repair.  It’s directly tied into your mood, weight, stress levels and energy.  Get some good rest.

I know this really sounds like a lot, but it all falls into place easily.  I’ll be writing more about bullet journals in the future, but keeping these are a wonderful way to stay organized.  It also helps me to remember what I did several days back.

Enjoy, and until next time.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Bread Crumbs…

I don’t like wasting hard earned money on things I can make myself, especially on groceries.

I use breadcrumbs in many dishes, from meatloaf to chicken breading. Store bought is not only ridiculous in price it normally has additives.

I like using left over bread I’ve baked, but any stale (not molded) bread works fine.

I use my dehydrator to completely dry the bread after cutting it up into cubes. You can use an oven on the very lowest heat. You want to make sure there is absolutely no moisture left in any of the bread.

Next I toss the cubes into my ninja blender and pulse until the crumbs are the texture I prefer. You can also add in dried herbs or dehydrated onion, ramps and or garlic if you like for seasoning.

I keep one jar with an easy access Los for immediate use and other jars I will vac-seal to store in the pantry.

I hope you enjoyed this frugal tip for your kitchen.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Christmas Cards

Bear with me with me on this little blog post.

I miss getting Christmas Cards.  Oh, I get plenty on social media, you know, the generic ones with snow and a dancing snowman.  What I miss is real, paper, delivered by the postman, Christmas Cards.  I miss birthday cards, letters and stuff in the mail other than bills and ‘junk’ mail.  I miss Carolers coming to the house and singing.  I miss singing traditional songs at Christmas.  In fact, here lately I cringe at some of the Christmas songs I hear on the radio.

carolers

I miss the celebration, the deliberation and the honesty behind all of the things now deemed old-fashioned or out-dated.  Perhaps I’m out-dated, don’t care, I am am who I am.   I admit I have fallen into the techno mentality myself, I’m working on a computer as I write this right now.  But what really hit me was when I sent a text to my husband, who was downstairs, last night as I was upstairs in my office.  REALLY???? NO!  At that moment I wanted to throw my cell phone out the window.   Honestly, I almost cried.  Why?  Because I consider myself very blessed to have a very close, honest and loving relationship with my husband, and the last thing I want is to put technology between us.

I woke up early this morning, with a lot on my heart and mind.  I spent extra time in prayer over a morning cup of coffee and I am almost finished with my Christmas Cards.  I sat this morning putting in a letter in each one to be sent to family and friends who I rarely hear from anymore, but still, it’s a Christmas Card and it will be delivered through the postal service and I hope it brings a smile.

Take the time to sit down and play a game WITH a person AT a table and enjoy each other’s company.  Take the time to write a letter and send a smile to someone.  Most of all, unplug.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

The Secret to Happiness

There is one simple step that I have found that leads to happiness.  Acknowledge that happiness does not rely on a person, place, thing or even a circumstance.  It depends on your choice.  Yup, its that simple.  It all depends on how you look at everything, how you react to situations and people.

It seems more and more the ‘world’ pushes that happiness can only be gained by being tied to things, people, position and money.  Prestige and placement in life are preached to our children so heavily at a young age that it’s no wonder we are seeing so much depression and and stress in our youngins.  The constant flood of being plugged in is always screaming at us what the world says we have to be, have to do, have to go.  It’s time to turn it off.  School is important but college is not a necessity.  There is nothing wrong with having a career based on skill and talents, working with your hands or with the land.  Technology has its uses, but more often than not, it seems to have more misuses.

Here are some basic rules for embracing the now, for finding happiness.

  • Live well beneath your means.
  • Don’t give away what you can’t give at home.
  • Return everything you borrow.
  • Serve with your talents and your heart, not out of obligation or guilt.
  • Stop blaming other people for your bad choices.
  • Pray Daily (sometimes every second if need be).
  • Have daily walks and talk with God.
  • Admit it when you make a mistake.
  • Give unworn clothes to charity.
  • Give outsized clothes to charity.
  • Do something nice for a total stranger (and don’t post it on social media).
  • Listen more; talk less.
  • Find a reason to be outside.
  • Strive for excellence, but not perfection.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Organize your day in the morning.
  • Don’t argue or insist on being right or having the last word.
  • Be kind to unkind people.
  • Let someone ahead of you in line.
  • Take time to be alone with God.
  • Always incorporate good manners.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Be humble.
  • Realize and accept that life is not fair, but it is all in God’s plan.
  • Enjoy your time for rest and sleep.
  • Know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Practice not criticizing others.
  • Turn the TV/Computer/phone off.
  • Learn from the past.
  • Live every day to its fullest.
  • Always give a kind word.
  • Make due with what you have.
  • Focus on the good, not the bad.

Happiness is how you view your life.  I like to tell people that every day is a good day as long as I wake up and my feet hit the floor and my face doesn’t.  I figure that leaves the rest of the day wide open for great things to happen.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

A New Beginning

For some time now, I have been lost and living in the “city”.   I’ve been longing to return to having some land and the ability to have a large garden, having my hens again maybe a few meat rabbits, a house with a cellar for canned goods and a place that felt like me.

Well, prayers have been answered and we have found our little house in the woods.  We know that God placed this place in our hands to love and care for and we are now moving along and getting settled in.  I’m so excited to plow up the garden so its ready to go in spring.  I’m looking forward to building a coop and having some nice hens making their home there.  Most of all, it will be wonderful for my husband to tell me he’s going hunting and will be late for dinner instead of being back in 2 weeks.

With all that said, its been a bit of a struggle preparing the house to be moved into, moving AND preparing the pantry for winter.  No the canning doesn’t stop just because we are moving.  The crops don’t hold off and winter is right around the corner.  I look around my office /sewing room in the loft and I have a beautiful view of the woods (and deer) in our back yard.  The birds and crickets are such a pleasant sound compared to the busy noise in town.

So we are home.  The Lord has abundantly answered our prayers for a place that is us and we are very grateful.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

Living Simple

The one thing that can be the most difficult in today’s world is to not be wrapped up over money.  We are bombarded continuously from all sides on wants over needs and blurring those lines. We are told self is a top priority and that things and money are the path to happiness.  The world lies.  You can not fill emptiness with things, only Christ can fill emptiness. 

I was told today that simple living can not be achieved in today’s world.  I’m here to tell you that it can.  Simple living and being frugal doesn’t mean loosing; it allows you to gain the important things in life.

Collect Change

Keep a change jar on your dresser.  Pennies, nickels, dimes they all add up.  When your jar gets full don’t take them to one of those change machines in the stores because they cost you money to count and sort YOUR money.  Banks still do this for free.  Put the money directly into a savings account.

Live Below Your Means

In short don’t max out your paycheck.  No matter how much or little you make find ways to tighten your belt.  When you get a bonus, overtime pay, tax return whatever it is put it “away” in a savings for later or use it to pay down bills.  Make a monthly budget and intentionally set aside 10% of your regular pay for savings. Of course the first 10% goes to tithing.  Keeping the purpose of purchases for need instead of want.

Save for the big things

There are many things that need to be saved for and even have loans.  That’s life. But knowing this and preparing for it by not wasting your money will help avoid anxiety and arguments.

Second Hand

I love my second hand stores and I’m not ashamed to admit it! The cost savings here is amazing and you can find some amazing treasures.  Clothes, books, furniture the list goes on.

Eat at Home/Pack Lunches

Eating out is expensive and most of the time isn’t really good for you.  Save a trip to a restaurant as a special treat not a go-to.  When you travel, pack picnic meals.

Kick The Starbucks Habit

Any drink at Starbucks can be made at home and without the loads of sugar.  You can gain back alot of money not stopping at Starbucks.

Buy In Season or Bulk

I preach this one all the time.  If you don’t can, then freeze.  Canning however is a skill well worth learning and can save you lots of money.

Cut The Cabel

You don’t need Cabel anymore with services like Netflix and Hulu.  But also if you pull away from filling your time with TV and such you’ll find yourself filling your time being more active instead of watching more TV.

Grow a Garden

Start small and start to enjoy your own fresh produce.

These are just a few ideas to trim your expenses.  Living simple.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice