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

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!

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 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!

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!

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!


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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:

you can make your own!  check out this beauty!!   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:

Need a food saver anyway?  this is one of the cheapest versions you can use the food saver can attachment with :

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 pickup!

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 and were thrilled with the ease of this video.

so I hope it helps you the same way!

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!

Frugal Meal Recipe: Meat/Potato (GF)

So when you grow your own food, you need to know how to use it!   This is a recipe I love to use, especially when it is cold outside  ~ it’s comfort food to me!

meat and potatoes

So – hamburger or pork ground – and you can use canned meat if you have it!  Simply drain it and fry it up a bit with some onion!

You’re going to add it to some potatoes.  If you don’t have canned ones, you can cut them up and boil them in some chicken broth for 20 minutes.

When I make it ~ I like to use one more part potato than I do meat.   Family of 16 here so we used 4 quarts of potatoes and 3 quarts of meat.   When we make it fresh, I cut up 1.5 potatoes per person.  (so for 8, I’d do 2 quarts of potatoes, etc)

Then we cover it with a little sauce to make it more stew like.  I don’t drain all of the broth off the potatoes and I add a homemade cream soup to it.  I make it with gluten free flour so we can all eat it.

I start with butter.  I make 8 Tbsp and melt it gently.  Once that is melted, I add a cup of flour and mix that together.  I then add milk – usually start at about 2 cups and add more if I want to.   Since I’m mixing it with the broth in this recipe, I go for thicker 🙂

I then season it. We use Einkorn flour from Young Living   Our gluten free son and my husband tolerate Einkorn well!   (what? you didn’t know they had more than oils… oh YES!)   If I needed the flour to be certified gluten free, I’d get it where I get my seasonings, from Azure Standard 

It’s a cheap, filling, warm meal,  you can use stuff you have on hand and stuff from your food storage super easy.  It’s something I always keep on the shelf.






Who else does a garden? Do you plant mostly vegetables or do you enjoy flowers?
We pretty much only do veggies here on the farm, mostly because we feed 12 kiddos and that means we need LOTS of veggies.
We buy our seeds from Baker Creek Seeds and Seed Savers. If quality and Non-GMO are important to you, that’s where to start!  
So our goals for a given year are to plant enough for our family for the entire year in the following vegetables that we can.
Tomatoes… this is huge to us – we can as close to 500 quarts as we can.
Potatoes …
Beans,  canned would be mostly green but I do can dried beans too
tomatos from garden
dry storage of
pumpkins (we dehydrate and can)
potatoes and carrots
pop corn
Then we plant seasonal eating in the following:
Lettuce, lots and lots of lettuce
Radishes (I’ve attempted fermenting these but it’s primarily immediate eating)
I will admit, we are dependent on our friends for our supply of sweet corn.  We just can’t make it through.
What are you planting this year?
See you soon!

Freeze the Budget Part 2

So, now you’ve made your menu. I want to talk to you about freezing your spending.

First – set your dollar amount you are aiming to.   I find that 20$ per person per week  which is recommended in the War on Debt by Dani Johnson tends to be high at our house!  (We have 17 people here much of the time.)

Then, make your menu!!  (hey do you need help on your Sunday dishes? This is how I do Sundays )

Make your grocery list according to your menu.   Seriously, if you aren’t eating it on the menu, don’t buy it!

Don’t shop when you are hungry! (Truth!)

Don’t shop with kids (ok, that isn’t possible for some of us but if you do, then turn it into a game! have helpers, price checkers, calculator people.. whatever you need!)

What do you not need to buy?  Time to hit you with a truth.  Mommas, we need to be making more from scratch. If you are buying food made with preservatives and a whole bunch of pre-made stuff, it’s time to start learning more about what it means to say home-made!  if you are on facebook, look me up, I’ll get you added to a beginner group for real food cooking!   In the beginning, I thought things like hamburger helper was home-made, I was so wrong!!  We  need to get back to eating food closest to how God made it, whole and good for our bodies! That means limiting white sugar,white flour, pasta and preservatives!

Alrighty,  clearly more to come. Take some baby-steps with me, and help get your food budget under control.



Freeze the Food Budget (Part 1)

a Good morning to you!

I’m labeling this Part 1!  I *think* we’re going to do more than a couple of posts on freezing the food budget.  The funniest part about this series maybe that this isn’t directed at you, my normal readers!  We know you are generally big family mamas yourself and you may have amazing tips to bring that food budget done! (share in the comments).

I went to a Dani Johnson workshop last month (ORLANDO in January, very nice!)  and one of the things she focuses on is DEBT and if you’ve been reading here, you know that I also am trying to be out of debt!  We were down to our mortgage until we ended up with 2 mortgages and not enough for living expenses!  We are back in debt and that is like JAIL.


The key to this is when you look at your budget – some expenses are fixed… but some aren’t and  our food budget is often one of those!  So what we need to do is look at bringing that expense down!  Folks, there are wayy wayy too many choices for our dollars.  We need to watch where we spend that money, so Step 1 is going to be

a) set a budget – FIRST!  (take your total you spent last time and trim it a bit!)

b) MAKE a Menu!  Account for your life stuff.  We plan morning, lunch and dinner every single day. Makes a huge difference.  Put snacks on the menu if your family does snacks.

c) Make a grocery list according to the MENU and purpose to NOT add to it at the store because you are *hungry *tempted * or caught by *eye candy*.

This is just the first step!  We’re going to be taking the budget post and the menu post into the next level in coming posts! We’re going to talk about trimming the fat and ways to break the spending cycle!

The menu graphic I love is found here:

whats for dinner

So – until next time, start making small changes!




Moving with a big family! Guest POST

While buying a new home is a wonderful and rewarding experience, moving a large family is no easy feat. It can be very difficult to keep things timely and organized, but moving doesn’t have to be a disaster. When you have a huge family, you have a huge advantage: helpers, helpers, helpers! This list of tips will help ensure that getting your whole clan from one home into another goes as smoothly as possible.

The first thing I would suggest is making or finding a time-organized checklist a couple of months before the move. Like this handy moving guide, or this awesome, printable moving checklist. Now that the basics are covered, here are some tips specifically geared to help large families stay organized and on schedule:

Family Day

Have a family day a month or so before the move where everyone helps go through everything. Get rid of things that aren’t needed or used or clothes that don’t fit. If clothes or toys are being passed down, move them to the right child’s room now so they will be in the right place when you get to the new house. De-cluttering in advance will save a lot of time and hassle come moving week, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to donate much needed supplies to a family, church, or organization that needs it.

Pack and Organize Important Records Early

Getting your families’ vital, medical, school, and financial records packed and organized well in advance will save a lot of stress. Plus, if you don’t already have a filing system in place to keep everything organized, now is the time to do it! You can buy boxes that hold hanging file folders that you can use for the move, and you can also use them for storage for however long you want (you can upgrade to a fancy filing cabinet later if you like.) More little blessings means more records to get lost or misplaced, so I highly recommend having them well organized and filed, and moving is the perfect time to get them there or simply re-organize them!

Use It or Lose It!

About six weeks before the move, start trying to whittle down your pantry and freezer items so you’ll have less to move, and try to eat everything you can from the fridge in the last week before the move. It might even be a good idea to run out of food a day or two before and just order pizza or eat out. A large family means a lot of stuff, so alleviating things that are easily and often replenished, like food and personal care items, will mean less packing and unpacking.

Utilize Your Assets

There are so many tasks involved with preparing and planning for a move, and different age groups can handle different responsibilities. Take some time to sit down and write up what’s expected of each child, or each age group. You know what’s best, but here are some general guidelines:

Teenagers can pack all of their own things, and can also help pack fragile items and kitchen, outdoor, or garage items.

Pre-teens can pack all of their own things and most household items, although it’s best to leave dangerous tools and equipment to older children or adults.

Kids ages 8-10 can pack all of their own clothes, bedding, and toys, but may need some assistance packing anything fragile or sensitive electronics. They can also help with household items like books, movies, and games.

Kids ages 6-8 can pack their clothes and toys, but will probably need assistance with electronics and fragiles.

Kids 4-6 can pack toys and stuffed animals, and may be able to pack their own clothes.

Make Labeling Easier

Instead of using a marker (that always seems to disappear) to label each individual box, consider color coding. It’s worth the money to buy colored packing tape or larger sized price-sticker type labels and assign a different color to each child and each room in the house. It will save so much time not having to write on each box, and when you’re moving in, a simple glance at the boxes will automatically tell you where each one goes.


Don’t get too attached to the notion that you will somehow be able to annihilate Mt. Never Washed before the move. Let’s face it, if you have more than a few kids, there’s no way you’re escaping the house with all clean laundry. While you can make sure most clothes, towels, and linens are clean and packed, there’s just no reason you should be worried about laundry the day of, or even the day before, the move. A good way to keep things organized is to give each child their own trash bag to put all their dirty laundry in on moving day. They could use laundry baskets, but it will take up so much more room: empty baskets can all be stacked, and trash bags full of clothes can be easily molded into awkward spaces on the moving truck. Trash bags are also a great, space-saving option for packing bedding and pillows.

Tips For Moving Day

When moving day comes, keep the older kids around to help, but try and find a place for the little ones to go for a while, or see if a friend or family member can come over and keep them occupied with a backyard activity so they’ll be out of your hair.

The traditional method of emptying out one room at a time may not work with so many bodies moving in and out, so delegate. Have a few of the strongest helpers on furniture duty, and then have the smaller ones assigned to empty boxes and everything else out of rooms one at a time. Make a list or even a map showing how to empty out the house (rooms closest to the door first so that things flow smoothly and there’s less in the way.) Also, have a couple of people in the back of the truck there to just organize things, that way the movers can just bring things to the truck and leave them there without worrying about finding the right place to put it. Use this system and your home will be emptied faster than you could ever imagine!

And finally, when you get to the new house, adopt the same method: Keep two or three in the back of the truck to hand things to the relayers, who will take each box or piece of furniture to the proper room. Once the truck is empty, take an hour and assign different family members to help unpack the things you’ll need right away like kitchen items, bathroom items, and school stuff. Then you can let the children go into their own spaces and unpack their own things.

The last piece of advice I can offer is to slow down, take a deep breath, and relax. Moving is a stressful task, but you’ve got this!

I hope these tips are helpful, and if you have any useful tidbits of your own, leave them in the comment section!

By AJ Earley