About familyplushomestead

a homeschooling family from the midwest, trying to share the ways we do it.

Soap Making Part 1 (Intro and Easy!)

Let’s Learn About Soap Making! 

So approximately 10 years ago, I learned about making soap.  I honestly can’t remember right now why I tried this for the very first time.   I had a friend and I thought it would be fun to do together and  I was really into DIY things.  I’m not to terribly sure any other great reasons but I definitely am thankful for this event in my life because it eventually led me to Young Living and real essential oils.  I will be forever grateful to this journey. ❤

So there are 3 different ways to make soap.

  • Melt and Pour
  • Cold Process Soap
  • Hot Process Soap

Many many people start with the melt and pour because it’s easy and fun. It’s also a great craft to do with children because you don’t use Lye actively (more on that in a bit).

With melt and pour, you can choose your base (clear or creamy, goat milk or glycerin) and all you do is melt it in a double broiler and then pour it into molds.  You can add ALL KINDS of things

I personally love this little kit https://amzn.to/2S575B8

What kinds of things can you add:

  •  salts, oats, coffee
  • herbs and plants
  • essential oils (you knew I’d say it!)
  • color! (dyes, pigments, etc)

Some of our favorites have been rose petals or lavender buds.  They are easy to find online or at craft stores.   You can also press in small pieces of plants.  We love oatmeal in our soap, just whip it in a blender quick or use quick oats!

I love finding fun molds but so many things can be used, I linked one above in the little kit but you can also use plumbing molds, even a Pringles can (and cut into circles).  I personally prefer sillicone molds and watch for them at Goodwill etc all the time! This is a fun set for making a very traditional bar! https://amzn.to/2W7zsAb

Once you have your supplies, you’ll break your base up. You can cut it or break it into smaller chunks.  All you do then is create a double broiler (with a pot and a stainless steel or glass bowl. The bowl must be able to be placed on top of the pot without it touching the bottom (so bigger on top than inside) and melt.  For the next method of soap, we’ll be talking about hot process soap and for that we use a crock pot – I grab them at goodwills or garage sales! (they dont have to look pretty!). so if you have a crock pot, you can also use it for this method.

For every 1lb of soap you use, you’ll add 4 oz of water.  Regardless of the way you are melting, melt it slow on low!  and Stir it low,  if you stir too fast, you’ll get like a foam.

Once melted you pour into your molds ~ and you an add more fun on top (press with oatmeal for exfoliation etc!)

Let harden  and wala! your first taste of soap making. Stay tuned for cold and hot process soap blogs to come!

This is a fun intro to the project, it’s a great way to control your ingredients and it’s safe for kids to be able to be involved!




Dehydrating Or Freezing Hashbrowns

Freezing and dehydrating Potatoes is one of my FAVORITE ways to put them away.

First disclosure:  I dont’ love buying conventional potatoes from the store, they are heavily sprayed so I prefer to purchase organic ones.  I get mine from AzureStandard.com and we grow a lot of our own.   When I buy from Azure, they come in LARGE lots.  This is one way I love to preserve potatoes.  (also super handy for potato sales!)

Potato, FREE Stock Photo, Image, Picture: Potatoes, Tubers ...

Steps To Dehydrate Potatoes 

  1. Bake the potatoes. ( there are other ways to do this, but this is the easiest for us!)
  2. Let Potatoes cool
  3. Shred the potatoes  (I usually do by hand but food processor also works!)
  4. lay on cookie tray to freeze and then portion into Ziploc bags OR
  5. lay on dehydrator trays and dehydrate ~ we do 135 degrees for approx 6 hours ~ (they should be crispy) then store in quart jars.

Don’t have a dehydrator yet?   I recommend watching craigslist or the marketplace because they can be pricey ~. the King of the Kings for us is the 9 square tray Excalibur, we have 2 for the full swing of garden season!  https://amzn.to/3apQy0V

If that’s a bit out of your budget, one of the things I think is the must have would be a temperature control!   I really like the looks of this one for the price.  We do have a smaller one like this and I use it for herbal drying! https://amzn.to/3eBaGAv

MasterChef Food Dehydrator w 5 Trays and Digital Temperature Controls- Dehydrating Machine includes FREE Recipe Guide- Overheating Protection + 8L Capacity- Dry Fruits, Vegetables Beef Jerky and More

To rehydrate.  1 cup dried usually yields approx 2 cups rehydrated.

To rehydrate vegetables, combine 1 part vegetable with 2 parts water.  We leave it for 15 minutes or so, drain off the water and then fry up!!

hope that helps!


Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.







Food Storage For Beginners

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


So you’ve bought some extra food and now need to store it!

Here are some great tips!

First off ~ you’ll want to make sure your food is free of infestation before you start!  Pop your bags of flour, rice or food into a freezer for approx. 2 weeks to make sure you kill off any mites, etc.

Your first thing is to create an organized system: I personally love what we own: https://amzn.to/2KdT0Nw

you can make your own!  check out this beauty!!  https://cara.creapic.net/diy-rotating-canned-food-system/.   so many ideas over on pinterest if you are crafty!

DIY Rotating Canned Food System #canned #DIY #Food #rotating #system

What about your bulk storage?

A few ways to consider:   buckets/ mylar bags/ glass jars

you’ll probably be depending on what you store based on what the quantity you are storing PLUS how long you plan to store it.  I personally do not mylar bag for anything I plan to use in the next 6-12 months.    If I’m buying for long term storage, I do.

I find free pickle jars perfect for many short term things! I’ve even seen people use leftover 2 liter soda bottles (We dont’ drink pop but this may work for some!) for rice/ beans, wheat berries and more!

You can also use a food sealer and use quart jars :: We do this. A LOT especially with our dehydrated items!   If you don’t have a food saver, here is a smaller version: https://amzn.to/2KjXKRT

Need a food saver anyway?  this is one of the cheapest versions you can use the food saver can attachment with : https://amzn.to/2VmfLFe

now to be fair, the mother of all storage for preparedness efforts is the white bucket.  Since 1999 (the Y2K prep) I’ve had these white buckets with beans, wheat berries, oats and more!   I’m throwing an Amazon link here but I want you to know our local large box home stores have them (I dont know about Home Depot or Lowe’s. we live in the midwest, so we have Menard’s and both the buckets and the Gamma Seals are readily available and cheaper!    I’ve also purchased them from our AzureStandard.com pickup! https://amzn.to/2VmfUZi.

The Gamma seal is what you use for ease of entry (and are included in the above link)

The biggest game-up ante is the mylar bag and use use a sealer with that and usually desiccants ~ which remove the air. ~ you can then double layer these into the white buckets!   Make sure you label them!    This video is one of my favorite tools because they so clearly explain how to use most of those tools!     We really enjoy our product we purchase from azurestandard.com and were thrilled with the ease of this video.  https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/smart-long-term-food-storage/

so I hope it helps you the same way!



Canning for Beginners: What do you need to have on hand?

Good morning!

We have a lot of interest in canning and before we get started I wanted to go ahead and give you a list of supplies.  These wll be primarily Amazon affiliate links but only because they are short.  FEEL free to beg and borrow canning supplies from friends, family and neighbors or grab on craigslist or marketplace!

Seriously, people have these things hanging around.

When you water can acidic items (fruits and jams) you use a water bath canner or a large pot with a rack~ https://amzn.to/3ca01f8

Granite Ware 21.5-Quart Porcelain Canner With Rack

When you can non-acidic food (meant, beans, vegetables) . you need to ues a pressure canner.  The “King” of this is the All-American canner ~ but the other option is this one, this is a great price (cheaper than our local big-box tore!) . https://amzn.to/2Vr2UlM

You’ll want jars,  depending on what you are canning, you may want pints or quarts and wide-mouth may have some convenience also.

Other tools: heres a quick set ~ honestly you probably don’t need all of it https://amzn.to/3a8dpi1 but you will for surely want a funnel and a jar lifter.

Hope this gets you started! Stay tuned



Canning Chicken

There are so many benefits of canning chicken that I want to share today along with the process I use for doing so!  This is an important post.  (This works for turkey too!)

When you can chicken you make it:

  • easy to use
  • long shelf-life
  • can sort white meat vs dark meat
  • doenst take freezer space
  • tenderizes tough meat

I tend to do “hot pack” for chicken.   Raw pack is when you put the raw meat into the jar, cover with water and pressure can.   We do this with Venison and it makes it tender and yummy!!  We tend to do hotpack for chicken and ground meat.   There is a bit of benefit to getting to fill the jars.

I fill a roaster with chickens (also works for olllld roosters!) . this is GREAT to do if you want to roast a chicken for a Sunday dinner then use the rest of the meat later

Chicken, Roasted, Whole, Grilled, Cooked, Dinner

cover the chickens with water and run your roaster (I do this usually overnight)

Debone (or pick the meat off the chicken)   at this point you can choose to separate some of your chicken meat.  We love putting breast in some jars so that you can make a chicken salad.

Fill the jar, cover it with broth and follow appropriate  pressure canning procedures for your altitude.

Ways to use!

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (dump in broth and all!)
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • All the casseroles

yes ~ works for turkey also! (especially your thanksgiving leftovers or great way to use on sale meat!)

yes – can all of your broth too!

Garden Stew

One of the easiest soups to consider storing is that which you can do yourself
Our garden stew is
1 lb meat. (Can be venison, pork or beef)
Then quart jars or approx 2-3 cups of fresh cooked od the following:
Green Beans
Then we did twice as much tomato 🙂. Let it cook down and it’s amazing.

I’m going to be doing some more frugal meals and also sharing some canning and storing techniques over in our Wise Woman Group ~

Love this with some warm rolls 🙂 It’s the perfect forgiving meal.
Dump in crockpot Etc!!!Image may contain: food

Banana Muffins/bread Mania

banana muffin mania

stored here for posterity’s sake

our favorite banana bread recipe (the cookbook is missing btw. had to find it online – thank goodness I did!)

I made 6 (I can count!) 8 doz muffins and 3 mini-loafs tonight.



  1. Heat oven to 350°F; grease bottom only of 9 x 5 or 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and margarine, and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the bananas, milk and vanilla–blending well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, nuts (if using), baking soda and salt–mix well.
  5. Add to the banana mixture, and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pan.

and that is it…  thank you pillsbury!

Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

recopying this recipe here for regular usage 🙂

Ingredients3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
3/4 c canned pumpkin (1/2 of 15 oz can)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 12 medium muffin tins, or 6 jumbo muffin tins. Mix all ingredients with hand mixer. Bake for 20-25 minutes (a little longer for the jumbo muffins!)

Bake, Cupcakes, Muffins, Bakery, Baking, Breakfast



Rhubarb ~ How I love thee!

Rhubarb, prolific, abundant,

rhubarb plant



You can use Rhubarb in all kinds of yummy desserts ~ we make a lovely muffin with struesal..

You can make a beautiful sauce.  It is super easy and delicious over homemade ice cream!  This is a delicious and easy way  to preserve your rhubarb!

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • In a sauce pan, add rhubarb, sugar, and water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer until rhubarb is soft and  thicker ( 10ish minutes), stirring occasionally
  • When it’s done ~ whatever you don’t use can be easily canned,  fill clean and sterilized pint jars and cover.  Water bath (boil) for 15 minutes!   I love canning rhubarb because it is usually the first start to the canning season!


Lastly ~ this is not a healthy recipe but we love to use jam or jelly in our Kombucha and this is one of our favorites!

  • Take 5 cups of cut rhubarb, cover with 3 cups of sugar ~ let sit overnight
  • cook for 15 minutes
  • add one package of strawberry instant jello
  • fill sterilized pint jars
  • waterbath 🙂

Each batch  makes 2 pints,  today ~ we did 6 batches!    This is also delicious over ice cream 🙂  13128922_1015337331836801_1578800990_o

finished product 🙂  yummy, not so good for you but a nice treat! 13184790_1015349111835623_1734627187_o

Enjoy the versatile rhubarb in your garden!