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Sunday, February 18, 2018

DIY Homemade Carpet Deodorizer


     We live on a farm/homestead and my husband and teenage son do all the feeding and watering of all our farm animals; tend the garden; and take care of the property.  They track in things all day and all night long.  I can vacuum a few times a day but the carpets still smell.  As you and I both know, carpets absorb ALL odors and instead of purchasing carpet deodorizers from the store, I prefer to make my own.  My carpet deodorizer is fast & easy to make and uses all natural ingredients that leave a light, natural scent and not a heavily perfumed one and does not contain any harsh or harmful chemicals like the store bought kind do.  It is so easy to do; it's inexpensive and is non-toxic!

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    To make this, all you do is place 1 cup of baking soda into a medium sized bowl.  Sprinkle in 10 drops of orange essential oil and 5 drops of Tea Tree essential oil. 

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 Stir well and pour the powder into a shaker jar.  

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     To use, sprinkle over your carpet and let the powder sit for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, vacuum as usual.  

     Store the powder in a safe place, away from children, in a cool, dry place.

     I have even used this in my mini-van and it does WONDERS!   Another tip, sprinkle a bit into tennis shoes.  After a full day of my teenage son wearing his shoes, they can become quite smelly but this stops the problem.  

*****NOTE*****
     If you do not have any essential oils, you can used dried herbs.  I like to use rosemary.  

If you like this, you'd probably also like my recipe for Homemade Air Freshener!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dill Pickle & Vegetable Soup

   Before I get started, let me say that this soup is not for everyone.  If you hate pickles, of course, skip this recipe and try one of my other soups instead.  I love dill pickles and I can only eat this soup once a year.  The first bite kind of kicks you but the more you eat of it, the better it tastes.  My teenage son took a bite and said "this is weird".  Then he ate another bite; then another; then another.  Next thing you know he is on his 2nd bowl and says "this is really good".  If you love pickles or if you are adventurous, I do encourage you to give it a try.

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Dill Pickle & Vegetable Soup

1 c. dill pickles, sliced
1 c. dill pickle juice
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. water
2 boxes (32 oz.) chicken broth or use homemade stock
6 Russet potatoes or hashbrown style potatoes
2 carrots
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dill weed

   
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     Wash & peel your potatoes.  Cut them up into chunks, just like you would if you were making potato soup. (You can use hashbrown style potatoes instead.  It tastes good either way.) Peel and cut up your carrots.  Place both the potatoes and carrots into a soup pot and pour in the chicken broth. 

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     Turn on your stove to high and bring them to a boil.  As they are boiling, get a medium bowl and stir together the flour, sour cream and water to make a paste.  Set aside.

     Once the vegetables are boiling and the vegetables are tender, stir in the diced pickles.  I used 4 dill pickles and once they were diced up, it equaled right at one cup.  Turn the stove to medium-low. 

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      Whisk in the paste a little bit at a time.  It will thicken the soup.  Once it is all mixed well, stir in the pickle juice, spices and sugar.  Cook on low for 5 minutes.  Remove and serve.  

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If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #countrifiedhicks — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Ultimate Potato Soup Recipe

    I LOVE potato soup.  To me, it is one of the most satisfying; most comforting of all soups.  This recipe makes a huge pot of creamy, delicious, and amazing potato soup.  Not only do I love it but it is something my entire family (even my youngest son who is autistic) looks forward to with anticipation.  During the winter time, I make this once a week and during the hot summer months, etc. I make it once a month.  Yes, even during the summer this recipe is worth making.  I hope you and your family enjoys it as much as we do and it becomes a regular for you too.

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The Ultimate Potato Soup Recipe

6 lg. Russet Potatoes
2 boxes chicken broth or use homemade stock
4 c. whole milk
2 c. instant potatoes
1/2 stick butter
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 T. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

    Wash your potatoes well.  Peel them and as you peel each one, place into a bowl filled with cold water.  

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     Pour the chicken broth into a large soup pot.  

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    Cut up your potatoes into small bite-sized chunks and add to your soup pot.

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     Bring the potatoes to a small boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Once the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork, stir in the milk, butter, chicken bouillon and spices.  Turn the heat to low, stir well and allow the pot to simmer for 10 minutes.

    Slowly pour in the instant potatoes.  They add a lot of flavor and help to thicken the soup up a bit.  I found this works so much better than adding in a roux.

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    Stir and serve.

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If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #countrifiedhicks — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to Cook Perfect Mashed Potatoes Every Time

    Our family loves mashed potatoes.  I used to think there was not a such thing as bad mashed potatoes but have found out, that sadly is not true.  I have tasted super dry mashed potatoes; soupy mashed potatoes; bland mashed potatoes, gummy mashed potatoes, etc.  Today, I am going to teach you how to make perfect mashed potatoes every time.  My techniques will show you how to whip up a batch in no time that turn out fluffy, light and buttery!


Perfect Mashed Potatoes 

6 lg. russet potatoes
1 box (32 oz.) chicken broth
1 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

    First scrub your potatoes to remove all dirt.  Next, peel your potatoes and cut them into uniform chunks.  By cutting them all basically the same size, you ensure that the pieces get done all at the same time.  If you cut your potatoes and they are all different sizes then some will be done, some might be mushy and others not quite done.  Cut uniformly to get them to cook uniformly.  

     Place the potatoes in a pot.  Pour in the chicken broth and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes.  (Cooking your potatoes in chicken broth gives the potatoes so much flavor.)  Turn your stove onto medium and bring your potatoes to a small boil and then turn to simmer and allow them to simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain and return the potatoes to the pot.  

  
     In a small pot, put your milk, butter, salt & pepper.  Turn the heat onto medium-low and gently heat them up.  Stir often and don't let the milk scald.  When they are slightly hotter than warm, pour them in with your potatoes.  Adding them in warm ensures you will serve your family/guests warm potatoes and not cold ones. 

    Using a potato masher, mash up your potatoes thoroughly.  Add in a dollop of the sour cream.  Use your mixer to whip them up the rest of the way.  But do NOT over-mix. Potatoes are made of starches and starches do not like to be overmixed.  Just like you can overwork bread dough, the same is true of potatoes.  Remember the gummy mashed potatoes I mentioned earlier.  They become gooey from overmixing the potatoes. If they are too thick, add in a bit more of the sour cream.  Using a mixer, mix on low until the potatoes are smooth, light, and fluffy.   Serve immediately. 



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      These mashed potatoes pair well with Meatloaf; Turkey; or even Pork Chops!


If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #countrifiedhicks — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

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Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Make a Fresh Vegetable Pizza

    Fresh vegetable pizza, not to be mistaken for a vegetarian pizza.  They are NOT the same!  A vegetarian is a traditional style pizza but made with only vegetables on it and no meat.  This is NOT that.  It is very different.  It is so delicious.  So quick and easy to make.   In fact, I fixed this last night for supper and had 2 pieces and Ron and Bub finished the rest of it off.  They kept on remarking on how good it was.  I think they were surprised by how much they did like it.  They usually require meat in every meal (being farmers and country men) but they said they didn't even miss the meat.

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 Fresh Vegetable Pizza

1 c. shredded cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. mayonnaise 
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 can of black olives
1 head of cauliflower
1 cucumber
1 firm tomato
1 carrot

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    Heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Open up your cans of crescent rolls and flatten them up and press them into the bottom of the cookie sheet bringing up some of the dough up the sides to form a nice crust.  Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 

    As the crescent roll crust is baking, prepare the cream cheese mixture.  

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    In a medium sized bowl, stir together the sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix.  Stir well.  

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    Once the "pizza crust" is done.  Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. 

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    Now, take the cream cheese mixture you made a few minutes ago and spread it out all over the crust.  I only used about half of my mixture.  What was left over was a great vegetable dip for any left over vegetables you did not use all of.  

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   Now sprinkle on some cheese, as little or as much as you want.

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   Slice your tomato or cut into chunks like we did.

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    Place the tomato chunks around on the pizza.

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    Cut your black olives in half and put them on your pizza.

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Then take your cauliflower and break up the head and sprinkle bite sized pieces onto the pizza.  

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     Take your carrots and cut off the ends and then using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot(s).  Place the peels of the carrot onto the pizza.  Slice the cucumber and put onto the pizza.

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   And finally sprinkle on some more cheese.

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   Slice your pizza and enjoy.  

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    You can use whatever vegetables you and your family prefer.  Sometimes we add broccoli, bell peppers and mushrooms but we just weren't feeling it when I made this one.   I hope you like this recipe and will try it out soon.  If you do, please come back and comment and let me know.  I love hearing from my followers.  

    This recipe pairs well with a light dessert like my Applesauce Puffs.  

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #countrifiedhicks — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2018 Homestead Goals

    Each year I think of the past year and wonder if we accomplished what we needed to and if we could have done more.  I wonder if the costs of the feed and the care of the animals equaled to the amount of resources gleaned from our homestead.  I have written a homestead goal before but never in too much detail and this year I strive to be different and to do better.  That is why it is now into the first full week of February and I am just now posting this.  I really reflected a lot and it took a good amount of time to get things sorted out like I wanted.

 
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A view on our property.

     I was thinking recently and realized that the success or failure of our homestead rests squarely on our shoulders.  We are responsible for all the results or lack thereof ourselves.  Wow!  Mind blown.  Why did I not realize this sooner?!  I mean, seriously, who else is to blame?  Oy!

     Our main goal of our homestead is to become self-sufficient.  If you haven't tried it yet, becoming self-sufficient is a LOT of work and to be honest, we have not put in as much work into it as we should have.  This year WILL be different.  We have very little income so we have to build up slowly but consistently.  We have to be patient because we can't go into debt to achieve our goals.

Our goals for 2018 for our homestead are:

To put in the hours.

      We are good about getting up and doing our farm chores and if something is in bad disrepair it does get fixed.  Now and then we start new projects but we truly do not put in the hours our homestead needs and deserves to get us where we want to be.  We have been just coasting along for a few years but if we want to become self-sufficient, more has to be done.

Eat from our freezers and pantry.

       
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      Our 2 freezers are plum full and so are our cabinets and yet I still run to the store at least once or twice a week to purchase things that "sounds good" or "looks good".  That is just wasteful and I plan on using up some of the stockpile and eat it up.  

    I plan on making freezer meals at least once a week; working up to 2 meals a week.  These will be for when I am not feeling well; things are chaotic; or a friend is sick and we want to help feed their family.

Garden plans.

     
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Some corn growing in our garden a few years back.

      I need to inventory our seeds and plan out our garden.  Every year we say we will have this great big garden but if the garden is anything like last year's it was a disappointment.   We fought hard and the whole season and hardly harvested anything. 

     I plan on fertilizing more this year because our soil is so very poor here.  I will start seedlings indoors and plant only what we will eat or will feed to the animals.  I want a BIG garden and big harvests to preserve by canning and dehydrating to last throughout the entire year.  I also plan on adding to our orchard and plant more fruit and nut trees.  We also need to put up a farm fence around the orchard to keep the donkeys at bay.  The fence we have around them now is just not doing the job.  It just isn't strong enough.  I also plan on starting an indoor herb garden.  

Building updates.

     We need to build a new lean-to off of our building for more covered storage.  

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    We also need to fix our existing rain barrel system and add to it by hanging more guttering up and more barrels added.   This really helps with watering the animals in the hot summer months and provides water for our gardens and orchard.  We also need a new porch because ours is pretty wobbly and with my MS, I will eventually need a ramp so this is the year that a ramp will be built.  

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     We also need 2 new pens for our ducks with laying houses for each.  

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A few of our ducks.


Animals.

     Every year I plan on adding more animals to our homestead but I do believe we are about where we need to be in that regard.  The only animals I want in the future (next summer) would be rabbits.  Our goat herd is at a nice size and besides that all of our females have been bred so we are doing good there.  

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Contessa loving on her baby "April".

   I do plan on mating the turkeys and start raising and butchering some of our turkeys this year.  We have not utilized them as we should so that is one of my goals for this year.  

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    We also need to continue to incubate chicken eggs and raise chicks until maturity.  

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Some of the baby chicks we had last year.


      We also need to make our homestead more profitable and the only way we can do that is to utilize our animals.  We can sell farm raised organic meat birds. We can sell our fresh eggs and baby chicks.  I can sell baby goats.  I can make goat milk cheese and goat milk soap to sell too.

    Some of our pens for the chickens need to be rebuilt in different areas because where they sit now is prone to flooding.  New guinea coops and more chicken coops need to be built also that are easy to clean.  We also need to build a few more goat pens so we can rotate the goats around more often.

Food preservation.

     This goes hand-in-hand with our gardening.  I need to dehydrate anything and everything I can.  Dehydrate every little scrap and a little at a time WILL add up.  If and when the garden is successful, I need to can the surplus.  We also need to be better at gathering the nuts and wild berries that grow on our homestead.  

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One of the wild blackberry bushes that grow on our homestead.

Fill our freezers.

      I mentioned earlier that my freezers were full but if we do start eating from them regularly, I will need to work hard on refilling them and my goal for 2018 is to fill them with meat that we produce on our own homestead.  Organic meat birds (turkeys, chicken and duck).  By the end of the summer, I want enough homegrown meat in our freezers that we can survive through the colder months on those meats alone.  This includes going fishing at our pond and vacuum sealing the fish for this winter.

Home maintenance.

      We need to set up our new solar panel and actually start using the electricity we have gathered in our batteries.  We also need to rig up the pressure switch on our water tank.  I need to keep more accurate homestead records and track our yearly harvest of fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, meat and milk.

Growing my blog.

   I need to be sure to post more often and consistently to my blog.  I also need to make sure the posts are engaging and entertaining to my followers.  I also need to build up my Youtube following.  Both my blog and Youtube can generate income if you have enough followers.  With my disabilities, I cannot do much of the physical work but the accounting part of the homestead and the online work is something I can do so I need to put in more hours into building them up.  I need these to be profitable.  My goal for my blog is to do new content at least 3 times a week and add new Youtube videos just as often.  I hope they both are exciting and entertaining enough for each of you to view and visit them on a regular basis.

     Each of these take a lot of work and time but they can be profitable.  It is not a "get rich quick" thing for sure and it does take a LONG time to build up but I plan on doing what I can for our family.  

      What are your goals for the rest of 2018?  

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