whole wheat cranberry lemon biscuits

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that you have to make right now it looks so good.  So it was with this recipe I found at Schneider Peeps.  Holy cow, these biscuits are so incredibly tasty and wonderfully easy to make.  I do have to mention that since they are made with whole wheat flour they will taste “healthy.”  If your family is just starting out on a healthier eating lifestyle, you may want to do half whole wheat flour, half white flour.  The whole wheat flour wasn’t an issue for us — obviously because we ate the entire batch in a day (mind you there were only four of us home).

ImageWhole Wheat Cranberry Lemon Biscuits

1 ½ tbsp freshly grated lemon zest (or 2 tbsp dried zest)
2 ½ – 3 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
½ cup evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 egg
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest together until the mixture resembles course meal.  Just a couple of notes — One, I used a fork, but I think after making these, I’m going to purchase a biscuit cutter.  Two, I made these on a whim and didn’t have any lemons so I used 10 drops of lemon essential oil (make sure you use one that is food grade, many are not).  Mix in cranberries until they are coated.
In another bowl, lightly beat egg and add milk.   
Add liquid to dry mixture and combine.   
If mixture is too wet, add a little more flour. 
Drop by spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  I highly recommend parchment paper.  I just started using it a year or so ago and I LOVE it.  No sticking and clean up is a snap. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. 
Makes about two dozen.
Mmm.  I can’t wait to make these again.  I’m thinking if you wanted to make them truly decadent, you could swirl a little lemon glaze on them.  I’ll update when I try it.

our week — 26 aug

It’s been a week of ups and downs.  Well, actually, just one down, but it’s a big one.  I’ll start with the ups.

On the homeschool front, things are going great.  I hate to say it, but we’re already a little behind.  I was just a tad over zealous with our curriculum, and I need to reel it in just a bit.  I’m realizing having school completely over by noon, may not be the best way to go.  Little breaks throughout the day and field trips mid morning seem to keep the “I don’t want to do school” whines at bay. 

This week we took a trip to the Arizona Museum of Natural History.  It’s all of five minutes from our house and is chuck full of dinosaur bones and activities for the little ones.  The staff is super friendly.  Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about it.

ImageImageImageImageImageWe’re still kind of in a holding pattern with respect to our garden.  We should be ready to plant in the next few weeks.  Our sweet potatoes are continuing to grow like gangbusters and the corn is really taking off.  We’re very excited.

ImageStill no babies for Eve.  I’m starting to think that perhaps she is just faking us out in order to avoid a date with Adam. 

This is my favorite picture of the week.  Perhaps it’s time to add another roost for our chickens.


Now for the down part of the week.  We got an email from the Beth over at Fairywood. Beth is affectionately known as the goat lady at our house.  We bought Cyclone and Nightingale from her about a year ago.  She was fabulous, answered all our questions, and made us feel like we could totally handle goats.  Well, in her email, she let us know that one of her goats had been found positive for scrapie.  Scrapie is very rare and usually found only in sheep.  I guess we’re just lucky.

Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by a representative of the USDA who informed us that our only viable option is to have our goats put down.  I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me.  In the grand scheme of life, it’s not a huge deal, but it stinks.  Both of the girls were due to deliver in October.  So not only are we loosing the girls, we’re loosing all their kids as well.  Animals at our house aren’t pets — we have them to help us provide for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them and don’t become attached to them.  To add to it, the feds aren’t picking them up until the middle of September.  There’s a tug at my heart each time I go out to feed them.  Explaining all this to Thomas and Muf hasn’t been all that fun either.  I don’t know what to say other than boo. 

homemade taco and chili seasoning

Yesterday afternoon I ran to pick up Hailey from school, grabbed some groceries, made a stop at the library, swung by and picked up Taryn from school and got home with just enough time to throw dinner together before a bunch of cub scouts showed up at my door.  Man was I glad a had some of my homemade taco and chili seasoning on hand so I could make some tasty chili.  It has become a total staple.  I use it all the time, so much so that my kids make fun of me.  I found the original recipe here.


Homemade Taco and Chili Seasoning (yields 2/3 cup)

4 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I skip this, we’re kind of sissies)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon sea salt

4 teaspoons black pepper

Mix it all together and store in an air tight container at room temperature.  It should last for a year (mine never makes it that long, so I can’t verify.)

Use about 1 1/2 tablespoons per pound of ground beef, chicken, rabbit, goat — whatever you use.

It’s also really good to sprinkle on veggies that have been sauteed in olive oil.  Roll your veggies up in a whole wheat tortilla with a little cheese.  Yum.  Hey, that sounds good, I think I’ll make that for dinner.

veggies everyone will eat

Okay, almost everyone.  I have yet to successfully have Thomas eat these, but he can’t even handle plain baked potatoes.  I got the idea from Lisa at Over the Big Moon.  The first time I made them, I completely forgot to take a picture.  All I could think of was eating.  The next time I made them, I exercised slightly more self control.  I ate a few veggies before they hit the table, but thankfully, I had made sooooo much, it didn’t really even make a dent.  So super easy and incredibly delicious.  Don’t they look good?

ImageThe key ingredient — smoked paprika.  I buy it from Costco.  It comes in a big old container.  Oh, and sorry for the white trash tin foil — I did not feel like doing any more dishes than I absolutely had to that night. 

Here’s how you make it —

Grab whatever vegetables your family likes.  For this batch I used potatoes (I realize that potatoes are really a starch, but go with it), onions, carrots, butternut squash (from our garden, hurray), zucchini (also from the garden), and tomatoes (not from the garden, I think we had one tomato we could actually use from three huge plants, boo).  I also threw in some chick peas for protein. 

Cut your veggies into semi equal sizes so they cook evenly.  Coat with olive oil — don’t be shy, olive oil is good for you — keep pouring.  Sprinkle on salt, garlic powder (or you could use fresh garlic) and smoked paprika.  Give it a good stir and and repeat until you reach the right combination.  I just popped a chick pea (or twenty) into my mouth to test.

When you’re happy with the combination, put the vegetables into a nice deep pan.  Heat your grill up to about 400 degrees and put the pan on the grill.  Stir every five or six minutes until the veggies are no longer crunchy.  I takes about 20 minutes or so.  You have to play around a bit with the temperature.  You don’t want to get it too hot or they’ll burn, but you do want it to get hot enough so the ones on the bottom get a tiny bit crispy. 

That’s it.  If you serve it with rice you can have a complete protein.  Lisa says you can also cook them in the oven.  Perhaps I’ll try it when it’s not six thousand degrees outside. 

our week — 19 aug

No, we didn’t move into our underground bomb shelter, I just said yes to WAY too many things last week and something had to give.  Like usual, it was the blog. 

On the school front, the older kids completed their first full week of school.  Everyone is doing great.  Hayden has decided that he wants to get straight As this year.  So far so good.  For the first time in his life, his grades are better than Taryn’s and he is loving every minute of it.  Hailey’s enjoying her last year of elementary school.  I have to admit, I am enjoying the feeling of knowing that this is her last year in elementary school.  It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of public education, and I particularly don’t like elementary school.  But that’s another story for another day.

The little ones started school on Monday.  Thomas is starting his year two program and Muffa is doing our equivalent of kindergarten. 


Thomas is really excited to be back in action.  I was a little worried that last year might have been a fluke.  Not so.  He’s doing great and is learning so much.  I couldn’t be happier with our curriculum choices.  I’ll post more on that later.

Muffa is not quite as excited.  He has the attention span of a pea, but he’s definitely starting to catch on.  That’s the wonderful thing about homeschooling.  You can totally cater the pace to each individual student.  A teacher with 28 students (if they’re lucky) simply can’t do that.  He’s breezing through his math work, creeping along with reading, and enjoying popping in an out of Thomas’ studies especially when we’re doing science experiments and our (I say our because I’m learning as well) Latin lessons.

Down on the farm, still no babies for Eve.  We totally thought she was for sure going to deliver last week.  Now that I think of it though, she’s kind of an eager beaver when it comes to building her nest so more than likely it will be this week. 

Greg pulled out the last of the spring garden this week to get ready for planting our fall garden. 

ImageMost of the fruit that was left on the vine was unable to fully ripen.  It was just plain too hot.  All those watermelons we were totally looking forward to eating will probably end up as goat food.  So sad — for us, not for the goats.  I kid you not they come running, RUNNING, whenever I come out of the back door in anticipation of being fed something yummy. 

Speaking of the girls, they are getting downright chunky.  We’re so hoping for many little doelings. 


On the family front, we had a fun week.  We instituted a mandatory game night.  Everyone has to stay and play games with the family for an hour before they can go our for the night on Fridays.  We played Cloud 9 (thanks Emma and Tim) and Thomas and I totally won.  It seems like we are so busy all of the time between school, church, and chores around the homestead, that family fun gets pushed to the back burner.  No more.  It was really good for us just to be together without really doing anything other than enjoying one another.

Sunday we spent some time with Greg’s dad celebrating his 81st birthday.  We had a nice visit.

ImageWe also celebrated Muffa’s birthday with some pizza and chocolate zucchini cake topped with cream cheese icing and fruit slices — not real fruit, those nasty gumdrop fruit slices (totally Muffa’s choice).  Can’t say that I’ll ever make that again, but Muffa was pleased as could be. 

I can’t believe little Hunny Muffin is 4.  How time flies.  I keep this picture at my desk.  Every time I look at it, I fall in love with my sweet little boy over and over.  How could you not.


That’s it for around here.  I hope you’re finding as much joy in the ordinary as we are.

our week — august 12

It’s been one crazy day around here.  School started for us today (well, homeschool — the older kids all went back to school last week and I’m happy to report everyone is happy, more or less).  I have to admit, I’m a little worn out mentally.  Trying to school two is definitely more challenging than one.  I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it, and all in all, I think it was a good first day.  That being said, I’m going for short and sweet today and will let some pictures tell most of the story.

Here’s our corn — it’s still growing strong, and we’re still really proud.

ImageNext to the corn, our sweet potatoes are continuing to grow like crazy.

ImageAbout a month ago, some friends came over and Adam and Eve were accidentally let out of their cages at the same time.  Woopsie.  We thought we had caught them before any canoodling had taken place, but apparently not.  This is what greeted me this morning when I went to check on her. 

ImageYup, that’s a nest.  We should see some little sausages (that’s what Thomas call the babies) in the next couple of days.

The boys were pleased as punch that we had irrigation during the day this past week.  Even though it grosses me out, I like to let the boys run around in it when they can.  I tell myself, it will help them have a good, strong immune system.  But I have to admit, finding them swimming in it, pushed me to my limits of nastiness.  ImageI had to draw the line (after I took a picture of course).  And that’s our week in a nutshell.

spring cleaning in august — part 4

We’re at the end.  It’s kind of funny, I’m almost as sick of blogging about cleaning as much as I was sick of actually cleaning last week.  If you just love reading about cleaning, you can read parts 1-3 here, here, and here.  Today I want to share our bedroom list and some parting thoughts.

The original idea for the bedrooms was that everyone would work on their own bedroom sometime during spring cleaning week.  Well, given how long it took to go through the rest of the house, I bagged that idea.  I proposed that sometime during the month of August, everyone had to deep clean their room.  As an incentive, the first two people to have their rooms cleaned would be awarded a new pillow.  (In actuality, I planned on purchasing everyone a new pillow regardless, but you know — a mom has to have a trick or two up her sleeve.)   On the flip side, anyone whose room was not cleaned according to the approved list by September 1, was on house arrest until it was done.  Everyone readily agreed.  (They were so sick of cleaning that the house arrest part didn’t phase anyone including social butterfly Hayden.) 

Here’s the approved list —

Clean out and organize drawers.

Clean out and organize closet.

Dust ceiling, walls, corners, windows, and baseboards.

Dust blinds.

Dust ceiling fan.

Wash baseboards, door casings, window sills, doors, and walls.

Wash windows (inside and out).

Dust all decorative items.

Dust and polish furniture.

Move furniture (dust, vacuum, and mop).

Wash bedding.

Flip mattress.

As of today, Hailey is the only one that has gotten her room done.  Good job Hailey (I knew she would be hooked with the pillow).  Here’s a very boring picture of her work in progress room.

ImageNow for my parting thoughts —

First, I don’t think I’ll do spring cleaning this way ever again (unless I move into a new house).  Instead, I think I would break it up over a month or so. 

Second,  this project wouldn’t have been so big if I had been more on top of things.  Our house is usually pretty tidy and company ready, but I haven’t been that great about really getting down and dirty — like washing the walls.  So far, so good with the upkeep (I know, it’s been a week).  I’m currently working on weekly cleaning schedule so that maybe I’ll never, ever have to spring clean again.  I’ll let you know if it works. 

Finally, (hold on, this is a bit philosophical) perhaps if you’re like me, you have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the details of cleaning that you forget the why.  Why do I clean?  I’ll tell you.

1.  To invite the Spirit of the Lord — God’s house is a house of order — that pretty much sums it up.

2.  So that all who enter our home will feel a sense of peace.  I want people to want to be in our home including my own family.

Here’s the deal though, if I get all grouchy about cleaning, that grouchiness is going to drive the Spirit away, not to mention that no one wants to be around a grouch.  Herein lies my problem.  I’ll be honest, sometimes I get grouchy.  So in addition to being more on top of things, I need to do a little attitude adjustment.  Perhaps I need to sing a happy working song.

Dang, maybe we shouldn’t have gotten rid of those nasty cockroaches — I could have put them to work.

spring cleaning in august — part 3

Hasn’t this been fun?  We’ve done our front room and our dining room and family room.  Today we’re reviewing our work in the kitchen and bathrooms.  It was also supposed to be laundry room cleaning day, but I petered out.  You see, our laundry room has turned into our pantry, storage, root cellar, laundry room.  I called it good when I was able to walk to the washing machine without having to move anything out of the way.  I have a way to go on that one.  Another day perhaps or perhaps not. 

So the kitchen and bathrooms.  We divided up these projects because let’s be honest — all seven of us can’t fit in the bathroom at once.  We could all fit in the kitchen, but you know, that would be silly.  Taryn and Hailey took on the kitchen with a little help from me at the end.  Here was what they had to do bless their hearts — it was a biggie.

Move out the appliances and sweep and mop.

Vacuum fridge coils.

Wipe down and polish the appliances.

Clean the microwave inside and out.

Wipe down walls, baseboards, and cabinets. 

Wipe down counters and polish granite.

Sweep and mop.

They did a fantastic job.  I almost cried, well not quite, but seriously, it looked so good.

ImageHayden, lucky duck, was able to clean the kids bathroom.  Hayden really is one of my best bathroom cleaners — okay, they’re all my best.  Here was his list.

Scrub down tub and tile including the tile surrounding the window.

Wash and dry shower curtain and liner.

Wash and dry all bathroom linens.

Wipe down the walls and baseboards.

Wipe down the light fixtures.

Wipe down the sink and vanity.

Clean the toilet (including removing the seat — toilets are nasty).

Restock the bathroom supplies — we buy toilet paper in bulk and keep it under the sink, restocking is no small task).

Scrub the floor along the baseboards by hand (dirt really likes to collect there).

Clean the mirror and shelf.

Sweep and mop the floor.

In addition, Hayden also helped Greg with some plumbing.  The sink in the kids bathroom is constantly clogging.  Boo.  In addition, Greg and Hayden filled in a whole under the sink that had a huge welcome sign on it for some not so nice little visitors (it’s Arizona, and it’s hot, and that means that everyone and everything is looking to get out of the heat –even cockroaches — I know, nasty, and they are HUGE.  I’m happy to report, the problem seems to be under control). 

I had the same list for the master bathroom with a few minor tweeks. 

The bathrooms are the only rooms that didn’t get a complete makeover when we redid the house a few years ago.  We meant to, but priorities shifted and instead of having nice, modern bathrooms, we have food, goats, rabbits, chickens, and guns.  My point is that even a not so nice bathroom is tons better when it’s clean.  Here is my little bitty bathroom — my refuge.  The only place I can go in the house and be left completely alone, most of the time. 

ImageThat’s it — Day 4.  For those of you totally sick of this series, almost done.  I promise.

spring cleaning in august part 2

Cleaning is so fun that I think it deserves it’s own week, unless of course I get bored writing about it or something else really cool comes up either which is entirely possible.  So last week, I wrote about our awesome experience cleaning our front room and hallway.  Day 2 found us moving onto our great room — our family room, dining room, kitchen area.  I knew trying to do everything in one day would be too much, so I separated out the kitchen.  Well, it turns out it was still way too much.  Day 2 turned into Day 2 and 3 — family room on Day 2 and dining room on Day 3.  The kids were once again helpful, but it became painfully obvious by the end of Day 2 that we needed a break — a break from cleaning and a break from each other (probably more on my part than theirs).  So I tackled Day 3 on my own with a bit of help from Hailey.  Thanks, Hailey.

Here was our list for both days —

Dust the ceilings, walls, corners, windows, and baseboads.

Dust the blinds.

Dust and clean the ceiling fans.

Wash baseboards, door casings, window sills, and walls.

Wash windows and doors — inside and out (I still need to finish the french doors, dang).

Dust and clean pictures and all decorative items

Empty bookshelves and dust off books. 

Clean and organize desk (this is a never ending battle, it was done, but needs help daily).

Empty out all baskets and discard games and puzzles with missing pieces (unfortunately, we have an uncanny knack of keeping all games and puzzle pieces so I was unable to toss any, shoot).

Organize our DVD collection (I realize this is a little anal, but they are now divided into watch anytime and watch only with mom and dad sections — not that we have anything bad, but Revenge of the Sith is slightly intense for little ones if you know what I mean, and now there won’t be any confusion if we’re not around).

Scrub down dining table, chairs, and bar stools.

Dust and polish furniture.

Move all furniture and dust, vacuum, and mop floors.

Beat area rug (this was a last minute addition after we tried and failed to get rid of all the dust.  There is a reason why people have been beating their rugs for thousands of years.  It totally works, and I highly recommend it).

Vacuum out furniture.

Wash cushion covers and brush down couch (it’s microfiber).

After two days, here’s what it looked like. 



Two things I noticed right away — 1. I really need to do something about that huge blank wall in the dining room and 2. I need to learn how to take better pictures — but those are matters for another day.  I have to say, Days 2 and 3 were not nearly as much fun (and that’s being super generous, in reality, by the end, I was getting pretty darn grouchy despite my best efforts to remain positive), although my level of satisfaction remained high. 

our week — 5 august 2013

With temperatures still way up, things are kind of slow around the homestead.  We were inside most of the week doing our summer spring cleaning.  If you missed the first post, you can find it here.  I’ll share some more this week. 

Outside on the farm, Cyclone is just about finished drying up.  We miss the milk, but we’re looking forward to babies in October.  Both Cyclone and Nightingale and eating like crazy.  Pumpkin and black sunflower seeds are their current favorites. 


The baby chicks are adjusting to being with the big girls.  I even saw them hanging out on top of the laying boxes this morning.  That’s a good sign.  It looks like we’ve made it through the transition without any casualties — knock on wood. 

Things in the garden are progressing nicely.  Our watermelons are continuing to grow.

ImageOur basil is ginormous.  Time to figure out what to do with it I think.

ImageA few months ago we harvested some marigold seeds and Greg and the boys scattered them throughout the garden.  They’re good for bugs and a nice bit of color.  Well, they are popping up all over the place. 

ImageLast but not least, our corn.  We just planted a week ago.  Check it out.

ImageWe did it.  We actually planted, harvested, saved seeds and planted again with our own seeds.  Now, we’re watching them grow.  So exciting.

That’s about it.  In another couple of weeks, we’re hoping to get most of our fall garden in.  I can hardly wait for fresh lettuce again.  Walking out your back door is so much easier than driving to the store.