Simple Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

It’s easy as pie.  Sorry for the hilarious pun.

Okay, quite frankly, I really don’t have the art of the crust.  I kind of botched this one.  But it was still tasty.

The filling, strawberry filling to be exact, was super easy.  And Simple.

And I think you may be sick of me posting these recipes that only have two steps and very few ingredients, such as homemade peanut butter, and dried strawberries.

But this is Simplicity for Julia.  So let’s go on with this simple recipe, which is my husband’s favorite.

Ingredients:

  • Unbaked Pie shell (I like the Fresh P’s all butter Pie crust, even though I still need practice)
  • 10 cups of whole Strawberries or 7 cups of sliced strawberries (for ultimate yumminess, make sure they are fresh and in season)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Arrowroot Powder (I prefer this to cornstarch, as corn is full of GMOs)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Vanilla

Yup.  That’s all the ingredients.

What To Do with the Ingredients?

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Slice up your strawberries.  You will have about 7 cups.  More or less doesn’t really matter, This isn’t exact. Place in a large bowl.IMG_0446
  3. Add Arrowroot Powder, Sugar and Vanilla. IMG_0449
  4. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes.  This will cause the strawberries to “macerate” or create their own syrup.
  5. Pour this into your unbaked shell.IMG_0452
  6. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Reduce temperature in your oven to 350 degrees, and continue baking for another 40 minutes.  Be sure to check the pie often toward then end of that time so it doesn’t burn.  The crust should be golden brown.IMG_0456
  8. Let cool and then eat the heck out of it.  The addition of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is always welcome.

A Few Notes:

This is a relatively low sugar recipe.  Most fruit pie recipes call for 1 1/4 cups of sugar.  I really don’t think you’ll miss it.  I think you could use even less sugar and still get great results.  Play around with it, and I think you will find the ideal amount of sugar that meets your tastes.

Meat Chickens – One Week Old

Our meat birds are celebrating their one week birthday.  It has been a relatively easy week.

Notice the chicks are starting to feather out.  They start this at the tips of their wings.

Notice the chicks are starting to feather out. They start this at the tips of their wings.

The how-to’s of their first week of life is pretty easy, and not very time consuming.

What is the daily chores for week old chicks?

I check on the boys (as we ordered cockerels, all male) at least once a day, and usually twice a day.

Once a day I pick up each chick to check for Pasty Butt.  Pasty Butt is when the chick’s back end (poo hole?) is clogged with poo.  This can actually kill them.  So as soon as you find it, take a warm, wet rag, sponge or paper towel and gently clean it.

The bummer about this condition is that if your bird gets pasty butt once, they are likely to get it again.  BUT it’s super easy to take care of.

I check to make sure that they have plenty of fresh drinking water and that their food is full.

The chicks eating their feed.

The chicks eating their feed.

Then, I add in some more pine shavings to keep everything clean and smelling fresh.

Why Pine Shavings?

I like pine shaving over other bedding for the brooder because the high acid of the pine neutralizes the smell.  Also, the chicken droppings are high in nitrogen, while wood is high in carbon.  This makes the perfect combo for fertilizing your plants when it’s time to clean out the brooder.  While the  nitrogen in the manure is good for plants, it can be a little too much in the fresh poo and burn the plants.

Be Careful NOT to use:

  • Cedar Shavings – the oils from this will hurt the chicks lungs.  Avoid this throughout the chickens entire life span.
  • Newspapers – the newspapers create a slippery base.  Chicks also have a natural desire to scratch and dig.  Please let your chicken express his chicken-ness, and give him something to dig in.

So far, so good.

It’s been amazing to watch these guys grow.  They have two or three more weeks in the brooder and then we’ll be moving them out to the chicken paddy wagon.

Left: Chick One Day Old Right: Chick One Week Old

Left: Chick One Day Old
Right: Chick One Week Old

Here’s this week’s video:

Strawberries – Dehydrated

The strawberries are here!! That means summer is here.

And we have oodles of strawberries.

WAY more than we can use just for fresh eating.

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There are so many things you can do with your strawberries:

  • eat fresh
  • preserve into a jelly or jam
  • strawberry pie (my husband’s favorite)
  • Strawberry Muffins
  • Fruit Salad
  • Strawberry Shortcake
  •  fruit leather
  • freeze
  • dehydrate

With today’s batch-o-berries, I’ve decided to dehydrate.  I like dehydrating strawberries as a way to preserve them.  It’s a much healthier snack than jelly (which is made from the juice of a fruit) or jam (which has the chunks of fruit in it.) as those tend to have lots of sugar, but I still make it.  It’s a tasty treat.  Especially when paired with homemade peanut butter.

Back to the Dehydrated Strawberries

I think they taste like a gummy fruit snack.  However, this is coming from a person who has probably eaten about 5 fruit snacks my entire life, and has not had one in years.  I believe my opinion on this snack being akin to fruit snack is similar to a vegan’s opinion on meatless bacon.  But these are pretty dang tasty.

And easy to make.

What do you need to make this delicious snack?

  • A dehydrator – You can certainly use your oven on a low temperature overnight, but I really do like my dehydrator.  It’s easier than my oven and more fool proof.  So while I encourage LESS clutter and LESS equipment, I do like having a dehydrator.  I use it to make Kale chips, fruit leather, and other dehydrated fruits
  • Fresh Strawberries – I used about 3 1/2 cups of fresh whole strawberries. Try to get them local and seasonal.  The better the ingredients the better the finished products.

How To Make Dehydrated Strawberries:

  • Slice them about 1/8 of an inch thick.  You can also put them on whole if you have small strawberries.  Keep in mind: the thicker the strawberry the longer it will take to dehydrate, AND the strawberries will shrink when they are dehydrated.

    I sliced, my little guy placed them on the dehydrator.

    I sliced, my little guy placed them on the dehydrator.

  • Place them in a single layer on your dehydrator.  If they are layered, they will stick together.  They will still be deliciousIMG_0437
  • Set your Dehydrator to 135 degrees F and let it do it’s thing for about 3 hours.  It may take longer or shorter depending on the current climate and the thickness of the strawberry slices.IMG_0440
  • EAT THEM!

Storage

I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge.  They may not need to live in the fridge, but I think that’s the best place for them.  They will last for months, if you don’t eat them.

Uses?

These are good for snacks, or in granola, or in cold cereal.  We really like to eat these as snack plain.  I love having this healthy, convenient snack in the cooler months, long after strawberry season has passed.

 

Our New Adventure – Day 1, Batch 2

As a family, we want to make sure we source our meat from local, humane and sustainable resources.  Sometimes we aren’t successful, but over 95% of the time we are.  We have a great resource for chicken, but we have agrarian dreams and we wanted to raise our own.  Okay, mostly, have agrarian dreams and a very supportive husband.

Our First Batch

So our newest adventure is raising meat birds, particularly chickens.  We started our first batch five weeks ago, and we got our second batch of ten chicks last night.  We start them in our homemade brooder, where they live for three to four weeks.  You can read about this DIY brooder here.

We ordered six cockerels (male chicks) for our first batch.  I also picked up two turkey poults at that time, one male and one female, from a different local farmer.  This first batch of chicken should be ready to be processed (a nice way to say butchered) in about three weeks time.  The turkeys will take about six months and should be ready around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys.  Another agrarian adventure begins!

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys. Another agrarian adventure begins!

 

I’ve read that we should raise the turkeys away from the chickens, and I’ve read it doesn’t matter.  Having the turkeys and chickens together so far seems to working out wonderfully.

Our Second Batch

We ordered 10 chicks for our second batch.  That seems like the ideal amount for the Chicken Paddy Wagon.  The Chicken Paddy Wagon is a 8 foot by 4 foot shelter that we move daily.  This is the Joel Salatin Method.  Everyday, we move this enclosure to a new section of grass.  We do this so:

We got a mixed batch of broilers.  Here they are:

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And a video describing their second day:

Types of Birds

We order “broiler” chickens from a local hatchery.  They are a mix of large bodied heritage breeds that will have a decent amount of meat in a little bit of time.

We did not choose to use the “Cornish Cross” chickens.  Those birds come to full maturity at 6 weeks. If they are not processed by about 8 weeks, they start to die from enlarged hearts, or their legs collapse beneath them from the heavy body weight.  These Cornish Crosses get so large their feathers do not cover their body.  From what I’ve read, these fraken-chickens are not interested in eating bugs or grass.  Essentially, they have lost the “chicken-ness” of being a chicken.  This seems highly unnatural to me.   And a lot of that extra nutrient which pastured poultry is known for comes from the birds eating bugs and grass.

That being said, I think I will experiment and buy a few Cornish Crosses in the future.  I have had a lot of experiments go differently than what I read.  My plants and animals have not read the same resources I have.  So I would like to see the results given our inputs.

Processing the Birds

We have processed birds here before.  We did that last fall when we found that we had 4 roosters, and we ordered all hens.  It’s not a great idea to have that many roosters.  It’s really rough on the hens, and the roosters can fight with each other.  So we had to cull 3 roosters.  (Culling is when you process chickens due to excess roosters or if they have lived past their laying prime.)

Costs

I am also keeping a running tally of the costs associated with raising meat birds.  I saw a whole organic chicken for sale at the grocery store for under $8.00.  I’m pretty sure our birds are going to cost more than that.  However, organic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Organic is better than conventional, but it stinks compared to pastured.  These organic birds that you can buy at a store just eat organic food.  They probably still live inside of large over crowed chicken houses with little to no ventilation.  The birds are probably not eating any bugs, digging in dirt, or eating any grass or weed seeds.

We are feeding our birds 100% organic feed while they have access to the outdoors during the last half of their life.  We want our chickens to be happy and to live healthy lives.

So join me on our journey with meat birds from day one to our table.

 

Link to the water and feeder for your Brooder:

Baby Chick Feeder Bottom

Water Bottom

Bottle for Food and Water

 

Spring is HERE!!

This past weekend, our entire family enjoyed being outside working on projects.  I spent Friday morning in solitude and I walked around our property marveling, as I always do, at the beginning of Spring.

Naming this season “Spring” is no mistake.  The greenery springs forth from the ground and the buds spring forth from the trees.  I feel like I can actually feel the excitement from the plants.  They are waking up after a long winter’s nap.

Blueberry Buds in the Spring

Blueberry Buds in the Spring

Spring makes me feel hopeful.  Spring is filled with possibilities and new growth.  I wonder what trees and bushes will fruit this year.  I wonder how my lettuces will do (I have been learning how NOT to raise lettuce.)  I am so excited for all the possibilities.  All of the cliches, all of the sayings feel so true to me.  It feels as though they have been written just for me.

Maple Buds, welcoming the sunlight

Maple Buds, welcoming the sunlight

Everything seems to be waking up to welcome the warm weather.  As we stretch out our arms after a long rest, the trees and bushes reach out their leaves to collect the sunshine and feed themselves.

Pear Tree waking up to Spring

Pear Tree waking up to Spring

The dandelions open to feed bees the first nectar of the season.

Dandelion Blooming

Dandelion Blooming

Strawberries are starting to bloom as well.

Strawberries starting to bloom.

Strawberries starting to bloom.

Strawberries in bloom.

Strawberries in bloom.

And we already have some of cultivated edibles ready for eating.

Parsley we planted last year.  We used this in our Thanksgiving dinner and its the first thing ready to eat this year.

Parsley we planted last year. We used this in our Thanksgiving dinner and its the first thing ready to eat this year.

Welcome Spring, we are glad you have back again!

 

The Beauty of Gifts

I’ve always tended to be drawn to the minimalist idea on life.   I didn’t feel I needed more “stuff” to be happy.  That being said, I would bristle at big gift giving occasions.  I become haughty and was not my best self.  I have changed my tune.  While I think gift giving / receiving can be senseless and materialistic, I also believe it can be beautiful and a wonderful, thoughtful way to let someone know that you are thinking of them.  I believe it is true that the thought really does matter when gift giving.

Gifts I have received over the years are part of my most cherished material possessions.  In fact, this Christmas I received a  gift that I use every day.

My Mugs

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When I was younger, I would go hiking with my Grandpa.  He had a hiking group he met with on Thursdays, and over the summers, I got to go along a few times.  I hold these memories very dearly.  One Christmas years ago, my Nana and Grandpa gave me a brown mug with a hiker on it.  I have had it through my years when I was doing my undergraduate work, and when I traveled to Iowa to start work toward my PhD (which I never achieved).

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This mug allowed me to stay connected to my home and my family.  Particularly, it connected me to my Grandpa.  It reminded me of a place where I was always loved.  My Grandpa died just under five years ago, but he was ill from Parkinson’s many years before that.  Every morning, I drank my coffee from a mug that would connect me with him.  This was one of my few belongings that I would not share.  Only I drank from this mug.  Not my husband, not my child.  This was solely mine.

A year ago, I was making myself a cup of tea.  When I poured boiling water into my cherished mug, cracking the it.  Hot water flowed from my cup onto the counter, and tears flowed from my eyes.  I looked up ways to fix my mug, but the crack was long, and even if I fixed it, I couldn’t use it.  The methods used to fix a mug leaves it unusable.  So, I placed it in my office, and I gaze at it while I’m working.  It helps me feel connected to my late Grandfather.

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When my Nana asked me what I wanted for the Christmas, I told her I wanted a mug.  I loved having that small daily reminder of my loving grandparents.  I wanted that to continue and I wanted it to be something my Nana selected particularly for me.

Late  on Christmas morning, we went to my parent’s house to exchange presents.  I was expecting to get a mug from my Nana.  I was looking forward to having a sentimental piece of ceramic to hold in my hands every morning.    When I opened one of my presents, it was indeed a mug from my Nana.  But to my surprise, it wasn’t a mug bought just for me.  It was my grandfather’s mug which he used.  It looked so similar to the mug they bought me years ago.  I had no clue my grandfather even owned this mug.  I had no clue we had been enjoying drinks from the same mug all these years.

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I felt so deeply close to him, and so deeply close to my Nana.  These two mugs, together, are my most cherished, sentimental possessions.  Every time I sip from my mug, I have a quiet, gentle reminder of all the love I have been blessed with over the years.  All from a gift, a material possession.

I’ve received gifts, that while not as sentimentally charged, have also left me feeling so blessed.

A Book and a Bookmark

A few months ago, I was gifted a book from a family friend.  I even wrote a review of the book here.  Receiving this book was so wonderful.  First, she thought of me and thought I would like this book.  The thoughtfulness involved in getting someone a book that which you sure that would enjoy is profound.  But there was something else included in the book.  Some other material goody which I have grown to love and which I deeply appreciate.

A Bookmark.

But not just any bookmark.  This is a bookmark that was made by the gift giver.  I love to read, and I use this bookmark in my books.  When I look at it, it reminds me of the love, kindness and thoughtfulness of it’s original giving.  And, as it was handcrafted, it feels like a little bit of that person is with me when I read my books.

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As you can see on the bottom of the bookmark, the word “Tranquility” is written.  This is a beautiful reminder to me about my desired state of mind, as well as a reminder of the kindness and love that is in the world.

This gift that was given to me was not just a gift, it was thoughtfulness, it was love, and I get to be reminded of this every time I open a book.

Gifts can be Beautiful

I am so grateful to have so many loving people in my life who so generously have given to me over the years.  It has taken me a long time to realize the beauty of giving and receiving gifts.  I finally understand that giving someone a gift isn’t about fulfilling some greedy, materialistic want that we all unwillingly oblige to.  Gifts are one of many ways to show our love to those that we care for.  And these gifts can be accepted with loving gratitude.  Gift giving and receiving is a beautiful way to share love.

So thank you for all the gift that have been so lovingly given to me in the past, and thank you for those I will receive in the future.  I hope that I have and will gift those I love with things that make their lives better, more fulfilled and maybe even a little more sentimental.

One Straw Revolution – A Book Review

Last night I finished reading The One-Straw Revolution by Mansanobu Fukuoka.  This book is part autobiographical, part philosophical, and a very small part practical application.

As a young man, Mr. Fukuoka worked as a research scientist.  He worked hard and long hours, and also enjoyed the night life after work.   Burning the candle at both ends led him to fainting at work.  Eventually he got very sick and almost died in the hospital.

After his close brush with death, he found a new inner truth.  He found that all of his life has been meaningless.  All of his pursuits, all of his work has been for nothing.  This thought could either be depressing or freeing.  I found the thought depressing.  He found this new personal truth set him “free”.  After he left the hospital, Mr. Fukuoka went to his job and quit.  All of his peers thought he was insane.

He then went and lived on his parent’s farm.  While there, he was in charge of the citrus trees.  He decided that since everything in life was meaningless,  he did not have to care for the trees. The lack of care caused all of the trees to die.  Needless to say, his father was less than happy, and Mansanobu Fukuoka had to look for work off of his father’s farm.  He eventually came back to living on a farm, and began the “no-work” farming method.  This method was planned out a little more, and he started experiencing great success with is farming methods.

This “no-work” farming method was actually quite a bit of work.  But he used no chemicals.  He grew rice without flooding the fields.  He used a cover crop of white clover and mulched with long straw.  He then scattered seeds around that were covered in clay pellets.  The clay pellets protected the seeds from rotting or being eaten by slugs  or other garden creatures.  His results were very good and comparable to his neighbors who used chemical means on their fields.  He harvested his yields using hand tools.  Nothing more.

He decried the “organic” farmers of the West (AKA Americans) as taking too much work.  The idea of composting seems like too much of a hassle. He felt they didn’t get it.  He said they could scatter the straw on the fields and essentially let the waste compost on it’s own without all the extra work of formal composting.

Other than those basics, I didn’t really get any major “how-to” take aways.  I got a lot of philosophy though.  Some of it was esoteric.  Okay, most of it was esoteric and I didn’t quite grasp what he was trying to say.  and I disagreed with some of his philosophical thoughts.  It would not be how I chose to live.  He is against what we would call progress.  From his book he stated that if our economy has an increase in growth from 5% to 10% are we twice as happy?  I agree that wealth doesn’t make us happy, but it does allow us to make more choices.  Sometimes these choices can allow us to live happier lives.   He lived his life (as far as I know) living up to his ideals.

While he expressed discontent with the way the world was doing things, he seems much more at peace with it than the Nearings from the Good Life seemed to be.  Back in the 1970s, he predicted the human race would have experienced great losses and have a sad and futile future.  Thank God he was wrong, I’m really liking being on this planet right now (and writing these blog posts for you to read).  We do have to remember, this is a Japanese human who lived through World War II.  That means that he lived through the nuclear bombing of his country at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It’s quite easy to understand how anyone who lived through that would believe that catastrophe is just around the corner.

Overall the book was a good read.  I think it will help you to become a more well-rounded gardener, and it will help you to think about your land in a different way.  However, I don’t see myself ever referencing this book for the sake of my land.  I’m glad I read this book, although I don’t see myself using any of the techniques.  His methods have been critiqued for being hard to follow and unsuccessful unless they are followed exactly.  I believe once you understand how all of his methods work, it works well.  I also believe if you don’t do it exactly his way, you may be looking at failure (even though that’s the road to success, as I talked about here).

Do I recommend you read it? If you want.  If it interests you.  I don’t consider this a must read.  I consider it a “pretty good if it’s lying around” kind of read.  Keep in mind, a lot of folks disagree with that.  So, if you are in the mood for a philosophical book with some gardening ideas, pick it up.

Failure: The Road to Success

Last night, we went out to eat.  That’s not post worthy.   Let me tell you why we went out to eat.  I caught my oven on fire.  Not a big fire.  Just a small one.  I made a pot roast and it cooked out over the dutch oven making a mess in the bottom of my oven.  I didn’t realize that.

So last night, when I preheated the oven to bake a chicken, smoke was coming from out from the oven’s seams.  Upon opening the door to investigate the smoke, I saw a small fire.  Chris used the fire extinguisher we keep under the sink and the fire was out.  It was smelly, so we had to open up the windows and the back door.  We also had a thin layer of white dust covering the entire kitchen, including the prepped chicken.  This wasn’t a big deal, but it was definitely not in the plans.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I messed up.  And it’s not going to be the last time I mess up.  I mess up in the kitchen quite often.  This is because I’m constantly trying new things, and constantly learning new things.  And I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  If I never spent any time cooking, I would have never had that small fire, I would never burn dishes or end up producing food that tastes yucky.

I think sometimes bloggers, vloggers and some teachers don’t talk about their failures.  We talk about what went right and how you can do that too.  On the road to success, new things and adventures, you are met with failure.  We all are.  Don’t give up.  If you tried to make rice, and it didn’t turn out exactly how you like it, you’ve experienced success through your failure.  You now know a way NOT to make rice.  When I first started to try to make rice, I burnt it to the bottom of the pot and spent more time cleaning up after my learning experience (AKA mistake), than I did cooking or eating the rice.  If you try to make rice enough times, you may find a new way to make it (like I did, and wrote about it here) or you will perfect the way you were trying.

What does failing mean?

It means you are trying and that you are doing something.  You won’t get better in the kitchen unless you are in the kitchen.  This applied to every aspect of life.  Sometimes you don’t necessarily fail, but it feels like you are just floundering around not making progress.  If you are working at something, with a goal in mind, you are not failing.  You are learning.  You are becoming a better version of you.

When my chicken was ruined, and the house was smokey, did I feel like I was learning, and gaining experience? No, I felt stupid.  But now, I feel a lot better.  I know that I will not make that mistake again.  I also have more empathy for anyone else who has experienced this failure.  I needed some time to collect myself and my thoughts and move forward.  But guess what? I’ll be in the kitchen tonight, again.  I’ll also continue to try new things.  And I’ll continue to fail (AKA learn through experience).  But at the other end of those failures is a more experienced and better cook.

Keep on Cookin’ (or doing whatever it is that you do…)

So please, get in the kitchen and fail.  Burn things, make things that your family wrinkles their nose at.  BUT over time, you will cook things perfectly and have meals that your family loves, meals they request.  When someone tells you about a dish they tried to make, and it didn’t turn out, you’ll be able to ask a few questions and help.  You’ll know exactly what went wrong with their recipe because you have experienced it yourself.

You are becoming better, all the time.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, but as long as you are doing something, you will be experiencing failures AND you will be learning. You will have great successes, as well.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, just do it.

Thank you for letting me share my failure with you.  I hope that it helps you through any challenges you may have.  I probably won’t share all of my failures with you, but know that I have them.

To quote the Red Green from the Red Green show: We’re all in this together.

Most Important Life Decision EVER

There is one decision that affects everything in your life for the rest of your life in almost every aspect of your life.  It affects your work life, your ability to live a simple life, and live the life you want.  If this decision is made correctly it won’t actually be a decision, as all of your body, soul and mind will want/need this to happen.  It’s not about where you live, go to school, your diet, your job or even if you have kids.  This “decision” is who you marry, or the decision not to marry until you find the right person for you.

Built in Support

Marrying the right person means you have a built in support system.  By built in support system, I don’t mean someone who agrees with everything you say.  If you want that,  buy a trained parrot who says “Yes”.  When I say the support system, I mean someone who will be your calmer mind when you are crazy.  Someone who helps your remember your real, long-term goals.  However, you are part of your spouse’s support system, too.  But when you are with the right person, you are happy to be able to be their support.  You with both need to be strong for each other at different times.

There will be moments that you don’t feel like being the support, but you will have to push through.  There will be times when this person does the same for you.  Getting support and giving support is a true blessing and makes a lot of life’s difficulties easier to deal with.

This support also means you always have a soft place to fall.  You still fall.  And you still learn life’s lessons.  But you have someone to run to.  My husband doesn’t solve all of my problems, but we are a team.  We brainstorm, or we listen, or we even just laugh together.  If someone is awful to me, and I tell Chris about it, I know he will be there to agree with me.

However, a good partner is also that mirror that we all  need.  He points out that maybe I am at fault for somethings that have upset me.  Granted, this doesn’t make me feel great in the moment, but it allows me to become the best person I can be.

Working Towards Common Goals

Chris and I have some goals that are separate.  We also have some goals that are the same.  We want to heat with wood.  Heating with wood is very time consuming, but for us, it is worth it.  Chris and I work together to make sure we can accomplish this.  He is the one who does 95% of the work with this.  And I appreciate it, and I try to help as best I can. In all things, I am his biggest cheer leader and he is mine (although I look better in the cheer-leading skirt).  This is true of goals we share for the household and goals we personally have.20141112_215646

Disagreements Allow Personal Growth

When we have a disagreement, we may argue in less than productive ways, but most of the time we approach our disagreement with open minds.  When we disagree, we have an open discussion which allows us to be aware of the other side of the argument, and also allows us to solidify our own side.  There are times when we don’t agree at the end of the discussion.  At that point, we both walk away and discuss at a later time.  This allows our thoughts to mature a little more.  Sometimes, this time allows us to mull over what’s going on, and either one of us changes our mind, or we are able to outline our thoughts more clearly so the other one understands.  Being able to present your side this way allows for personal growth.

There are something that Chris and I are on the same page on, but we are reading different paragraphs.  As time goes one, we may either 100% agree or not.  BUT I know that no matter what Chris loves me and I love him.  Our love is something that I know is always there, but I never just take it for granted.  Multiple times a day, I think about how blessed I am to be able to share my life with such a wonderful human being.

All of this is due to the fact that I married a wonderful guy.  If I had married someone else, someone perhaps who wasn’t supportive, or loving or open-minded, I would not have this opportunity for growth.  If I were married to a different person with a different personality type, disagreements may cause me to shrink as a person instead of grow.  I’m not sure.  But I do know that having a partner who I can trust, who trusts me and who helps me be the best me is the biggest blessing anyone could ask for.

Your Home is Your Sanctuary

When I pull in the driveway of my house, I am excited to see my husband and my child.  My favorite place to be in the world is with the two of them.  The idea of spending the rest of my life with Chris makes me smile.  When I am with him, I am home.   It struck me years ago, driving home from work, that I was so excited to get home.  More excited to get home than when I was single and no one was there.  Being married to an amazing partner who was meant for me helped turn my house into a home.

I’ve also heard the other side of things.  That one spouse makes life tough.  Or they just want some time away from a partner who is overly judgmental, negative or harsh.  Being away from their spouse is like a breath of fresh air.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy some time to myself, but that’s speaking as a mom of a toddler, not speaking as a wife.

How does this help with my quest for Simplicity?

Oh my! So much.  We both want to live in the country.  He eats my recipes and other experiments with food.  When we first met, he was on a Burger King and Beer diet.  We both wanted chickens, so we both take care of them.  We both are invested in our son and are very active in his life and in the decisions we make to raise him.

For Mother’s Day, I spent all day playing in my garden.  It was wonderful.  He honors the person I am.  And he always makes me feel like I’m enough.

Granted sometimes Chris doesn’t like my recipes, or he thinks something I want to try is weird.  BUT he always says it with love.  Sometimes it hurts my feelings, but because I know the man he is, I am able to grow from his constructive criticism(**Note: this is most of the time, sometimes I react a little less than graciously**).

I can’t imagine being on my journey in life with anyone better.  Having the loving support of my husband positively touches all parts of my life.  I also believe that if I would have chosen to marry someone else, my life would not be the fairy tale (at least in my opinion) that it is.  Chris wouldn’t be the perfect husband for everyone, and I wouldn’t be the perfect wife.  But I believe we are perfect for each other.

SO…   …What’s your point?

My point is that marrying the right person, someone you love and cherish really does make your life better.  BUT marrying someone just so you can be married is going to be a mistake.  The person you marry is the person you are probably going to spend the majority of your time with.  The decisions you make will affect both of you.   And staying single can be a VERY GOOD decision.  This allows you to be open to a relationship that will nourish you and help you be the best you you can be.  And I think you owe that to yourself.

Why This Most Important Decision isn’t Really a Decision

I needed to marry Chris.  I wanted to be with Chris for as far into the future as I could see.  It wasn’t a decision, or the “logical next step”.  It was something that I knew was meant to be in the deepest truest part of myself.  Having a great partner to enjoy your life with is fantastic.  Having someone on your side during the most exciting parts of life, your lowest parts of life, or just to share a story with is part of what makes my life what it is.

I actually have to say that I never thought I was going to get married.  I was pretty sure I was going to be single forever.  And I was certainly proven wrong.  So if you are dating the person you KNOW isn’t right for you, I beg you not to waste your time or energy on that anymore.  Spend your time on making yourself the best you you can be.  That way, when that person who is meant to be your partner for life comes along, you can be the partner they deserve.  If you are single, don’t worry, I know there is someone, somewhere who is single and will add to your already wonderful life.

Marrying the right person won’t make a crappy life wonderful, but it will make your pretty dang good life, pretty dang great.  However, marrying the wrong person can make your pretty good life absolutely awful.  So just make sure that when you decide to commit your life to someone else, you don’t even have to think about it.  You already know that they are your future.

Thank you.

 

Honey Mustard Lentil Salad

Lentils are super healthy for you.  They have fiber, iron, and other good stuff.  My husband hates most things having to do with Lentils.  Except this.  This salad.  This Lentil Salad has BACON, it has cheddar cheese, and a wonderful homemade Honey Mustard dressing.  AND, it’s super-duper easy.

The best part – the homemade dressing can be used on your green salads. So save the dressing recipe.  In fact, here it is, so you can easily access if for a green salad, if you like:

Make the Dressing:

Gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar or Sour Kombucha
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Olive OilIMG_0297

Mix all of the ingredients together in a glass bowl or measure glass using a spoon.  Taste it.  If it’s delicious, it’s ready to use.  You may want to use salt and pepper at this point, if you wish.  I generally do not.

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Ingredients for the Lentil Salad (less the dressing):

  • 6 slices of cooked bacon.  If you do this like I showed you in this post, you can have that baking while doing these other steps.
  • 2 cups of dry lentils
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese (chopped or grated)
  • 1 cup of frozen corn or peas (adds a little sweetness)
  • If you want to add some extra healthiness to it, wilt some spinach to throw into the mix.

Make your Lentils:

I choose “Organic French Baby Lentils”

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You can use whatever kind you like.  Measure out about 2 cups of the lentils.

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Pour into a pot, cover with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a boil (**TIP** While this is boiling, now would be a perfect time to work on preparing the other ingredients and dressing**), stirring occasionally:

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If during this time your lentils are higher than the water level, please add more water.

After about 20 minutes, remove two or three lentils from the pot, let cool and taste.  If the lentil is a little too toothy, let boil for a few more minutes before testing for doneness again.  If the lentil was done, remove from heat and drain through a sieve:

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You have now made Lentils!! Yay!!!

Preparing the Other Ingredients:

Chop 1/2 an onion and add to the bowl that you will be serving the salad in:

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Chop those six slices of bacon and add to the bowl:

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Either cut about 1 cup of cheddar cheese or use about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to your bowl.

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Add 1 Cup of frozen corn or peas to the bowl.

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If you decided to wilt some spinach to add to the bowl, go ahead an add.  To wilt spinach simply warm oil on medium heat in a pan, add fresh spinach and watch is wilt.  It’s that easy:

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add those lentils to your large bowl.  Now it’s time to add that awesome honey-mustard dressing you made, and stir so that everything is combined and coated with honey-mustard goodness.

Last step, eat it.

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