Apple Pie In a Jar, Great Homemade Holiday Gift

Cooked mini Apple Pie

With the holiday season approaching we have been working on making gifts for the year. I love making our gifts from scratch because it’s a great experience to share with the kids and I like giving a gift that we have put time, energy and effort into making. This year me and the kids went apple picking a few times and had a huge abundance of apples so we have been making Apple pie filling like crazy people. For this gift we have two separate jars one with Apple Pie Filling and one with a pie crust mix. For the Apple Pie Filling I used an adaptation of the Ball® Apple Pie Filling Recipe and adjusted the seasoning to suit my tastes, but you can adjust them for your own tastes, or use the seasonings in the Ball® recipe.

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Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

detergent recipe

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for about three years now and unlike the DIY dishwasher detergents I’ve tried I can’t recognize any difference between my own homemade laundry detergent and the store bought detergent. I much prefer homemade laundry detergent for a number of reasons, not only the cost savings, which is a huge reason too. As a kid I had irritants of all kinds and many commercial laundry detergents and fabric softeners made me break out in rashes. Since we started using homemade laundry detergent we don’t even need fabric softener anymore and never have any trouble with static cling in our clothes, or allergies.

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Coop Tour

Our six hens

As some of you know we decided to get chickens this year because they make awesomely interesting pets and you can’t beat the fresh eggs every morning. So come meet our ladies and see how they spend their days.

We have six hens that are all one year old. Jo, Jack, Meg and Beth lived together for a year before we got them and all get along well with each other, but still fight over the best treats. Elinor and Fanny joined the flock just a couple of months ago and it took a few weeks of adjusting, but they are part of the family now.

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Garden Beds to Chicken Coop

these are the hens

A weekend project on our journey to healthier eating

I would say it has been a combination of our desire to eat healthier “real food” and be more self-sufficient that has lead us to this year long process of wanting, waiting, making the decision and eventually getting chickens. Why did it take us so long to take the plunge and finally get chickens? There were so many decisions to make beyond the decision to just get chickens. Where would they go? How many chickens are we planning on getting? Would we buy a coop or build one? How much did we planning on investing initially? Do we want chickens for meat or eggs?  So many questions and so many decisions to make! Through the waiting and wanting period on our journey to get chickens I spent many hours on craigslist searching through coops to see what was available and what both new and used coops were going for.

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DIY Vertical Garden

I love to garden and grow my own food, but I also want a beautiful yard so the more I can grow in less space the better. Container gardening has been a fun experiment for me this year. I love the idea of container gardening because it’s easy to keep track of what I planted where, and if I need to move my plants to get more, or less sun I just pick up the pot and move it! To really maximize the space I’m growing in I decided to try and make my own vertical planters. There are numerous vertical planters on the market, from the hydroponic Tower Garden (which we own and love) to plain stack-able planters. The Garden Tower is another great product, but it’s expensive and if you want more than one it can add up quickly. I made one vertical planter for lettuce, herbs and broccoli and two planters to hold my strawberries I was relocating. All together I spent less than $5 on the three planters using many items I already had around my home, but if you need to purchase all or some of the materials your planters might cost up to $10 each.

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Broccoli Leaf and Tofu Soup Recipe

Broccoli Leaf and Tofu Soup Recipe

This soup is delicious, easy to make and reheatIf you are only cooking for a few you might want to halve this recipe as I make dinner for five and still have leftovers as well. Prep time:10 minutes Cook time:30 minutes Yield: Serves 8 – 10 Ingredients ½ white onion chopped 1 package organic tofu cubed 4 cups chopped organic broccoli leaves 8 cups chicken stock 2 cups water 1-2 Tbsp Soy Sauce 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil 1 tsp Garlic powder (or one fresh clove minced) 2-3 stalks green onions – Use Kale if you don’t have access to broccoli leaves. – For a vegan option use vegetable Stock instead of Chicken stock.

– For Gluten-free soup you can use this recipe as is, just make sure your soy sauce is gluten free as many brands have wheat listed on their ingredients. San-J makes an Organic, gluten free, low sodium soy sauce that I’ve never tried but it will be my next soy sauce purchase

Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to large pot on Low-Med heat.

Put chopped onion and garlic into the pot and cook until tender.

Add chicken stock, water and soy sauce to the pot, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes. Add cubed tofu and return to boil.

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Cheesy Broccoli Leaf Dip Recipe

Broccoli Dip and Chips

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 16oz package sour cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Ranch seasoning
2 ½ cups finely chopped broccoli leaves *
Several stocks green onion
2 cloves garlic

Mix cream cheese and sour cream in a small pot on low-med heat until well blended and smooth. Remove from heat and add ½ cup parmesan cheese and Ranch seasoning stirring until well blended. Finely chop your Broccoli leaves, the smaller the better.

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