“Mini Milkers – The Miniature Jersey” Documentary – Official Trailer Release

We are pleased, and excited, to release the first trailer for the “Mini Milkers – The Miniature Jersey” documentary!

This contains footage from our first filming, in early January. We will be filming 2 or 3 more times this year, to get a whole-year look at these adorable little cows, as well as a lot more detail on the history, breeding, care, milk, and calving season.

Have you seen the trailer yet? Check it out below!

We will be launching a kickstarter soon, to help with some of the travel costs. We’ve got the equipment we need already. We’ve just got to get there to do the filming.

We’re so grateful that Tim O’Donnell was willing to put himself in front of the camera lens, for all of us. He has so much knowledge and experience with these little cows, and knows more about their history than probably anyone else alive. We want to preserve that information, and help people and families feel confident about owning their own family milk cow, even if it isn’t a miniature Jersey.…

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The Cutie Crate – An Easy Repurposing Project

The cutie crate - an easy repurposing project

Do you have a ‘drop spot’? You know, the spot where you unload your pockets at the end of the day – keys, cell phone, wallet, pebbles, paper, pieces of sticks, half crayons without the wrappers…

Our drop spot has never been anything other than a box that fit the size of the drop spot.  Highly undecorative.
repurposed orange crate 01

I finally decided to do something about it when my husband brought home 3 boxes of clementine cuties.  Instead of being in the tiny blue cardboard boxes that they usually come in, they came in little wooden crates.
repurposed orange crate 02

Two of the crates had nice wooden sides, but a cardboard-y type bottom.  The third one had a wooden bottom, but two of the sides were cardboard-y.  The wood looks and feels similar to the balsa wood I used to use to make model airplanes from scratch, but it was slightly denser and stronger, so I’m not sure what type of wood it is.
repurposed orange crate 03

I removed the cardboard bottom from one of the crates with wooden sides, and replaced it with the wooden bottom from the third crate. I used a screwdriver to pry up the big metal wires that were basically used as staples, and then just swapped the bottoms.
repurposed orange crate 04

While I had the staples out, I sanded the area where the staples were so that I could be sure to get rid of the ink writing on one side of the crate.  …

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Never joined a Twitter Chat before?

Joining a Twitter chat can be a bit intimidating.  I remember the first time I jumped in – I couldn’t understand what people were saying, how the conversations were running, and how to make sure my tweets showed up (because they weren’t).

Twitter chats aren’t new, but they’re new to a lot of people.  If you’re joining a twitter chat for the first time (or you want to find an easier way to follow & participate in a twitter chat) here are a few tips to help you out, based on what I do, both when I join a Twitter chat and while being moderator of the #HomesteadChat.

1. I use TweetChat.com which seems to stay updated on the tweets more than anything else I’ve used.  I know some people use twubs.com or other hashtag-following websites.
To use TweetChat.com, first sign in to your twitter account on twitter.com.
how to join and follow a twitter chat

Open a new tab & go to TweetChat.com.
how to join and follow a twitter chat - follow a twitter chat on tweetchat.comType in the hashtag you want to follow (#HomesteadChat or #seedchat or #gardenchat…).

how to join and follow a twitter chat - using tweetchat.com 02
Once you’re in the “room” for that hashtag, click the “sign in” button, and then allow the application.  (It will only be linked to your Twitter account until you sign out or clear the cookies on your computer, so you’ll usually have to do this every time you follow a Twitter chat.)
how to join and follow a twitter chat - using tweetchat.com 03

The stream should start loading, and you can follow the chat!…

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The MOST IMPORTANT Homesteader Tool

Homesteading takes time.  A lot of the things that other folks buy from normal ol’ supermarkets, we homesteaders choose to make for ourselves and our families.  Homesteaders also believe that quality is important, and thus we spend a lot more time growing and raising our own food, and making our own products.

And that takes time.

This is truly, in my opinion, THE MOST IMPORTANT tool a homesteader could have.

the most important homesteader tool ever

A lot of work that homesteaders do requires the hands or the legs, but less so the brain.  I listen to books almost every minute that I’m not homeschooling.  I listen to books while I’m:

Cooking/Baking   〮Shucking corn   〮Cracking nuts   〮Doing laundry   〮Cleaning/Picking up   〮Doing the dishes   〮Making dinner   〮Taking a walk   〮Sewing/Mending   〮Traveling   〮Weeding/Gardening   〮Doing other homestead chores   〮Removing popcorn kernels from the cobs   〮Processing seeds I’ve collected   〮Processing herbs   〮Canning

How many of you are Downton Abbey fans?
Downton Abbey, Violet Countess of Grantham I feel like Dr Manette when she said did you understand what she meant if not it's time to stop watching downton abbey and go pick up a book downton abbey quotes

I happened to be in a room where Downton Abbey was on one time (I’m not a TV watcher… in fact we don’t even have a TV and never have) and Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham made a reference to Dr. Manette.  If you’ve never read (or listened to) “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, you probably wouldn’t understand that reference.

This is what is called by some a “Classical Education” or “A Thomas Jefferson Education”, etc.  …

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Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings

Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings
I’ve been making my own playdough for years – since I was about 9, in fact.  I’ve followed the same basic recipe for a long time – flour, water, oil, salt, and a dash of cream of tartar (not much difference from the pioneer quick bread, except for in the amount of salt and the cream of tartar).

It makes a fabulous play dough that lasts FOR-E-VER.  In fact, I have a batch of playdough that I made when Kiddo #1 was barely a year old.  And I’m a homeschooling mom now, so that should give you an approximate date of creation.

It has actually dried out a couple of times.  Not all the way to the crusty stage, but to the firmer, not-very-pliable-anymore stage.  I unceremoniously added about a quarter cup of water to the gallon ziplock bag I kept it in and squelched it around until it was thoroughly mixed and rehydrated.  Voila!  Good as new.

Because of the amount of salt, it’s also pretty darn sanitary.  (If they can put a salt rock in the geology lab at college and tell every Geology 101 student to lick the rock as part of the first lab session for 50+ years, my salty batch of playdough is going to last a good while yet.)pink rock salt from khewra salt mine by Cantons-de-l'Est on wikipedia, attribution, share alike

Then I wanted to take it a step further.…

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DIY Green Play Dough with Homemade Natural Coloring

Did you think that homemade colorings would be dull?  Check out this play dough!

green Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY ColoringsGreen

We made it with a basic recipe that my mother originally got from my grandmother, I believe.  We used SPINACH to dye it green.  The color turned out amazing, and even better, it was SO EASY.

green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings
To extract the color of the spinach, put a large handful of leaves in a food-processor (this is a small food processor that we were given on the occasion of our wedding).

green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings 02Add just a drizzle of water.

green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings 03green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings.png05Blend until it’s pretty thoroughly pulped (is that a word?).

green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings 06green homemade play dough from natural home made diy natural colorings 07Strain it through a fine-woven cloth (I use kitchen/butter muslin) and you should have a clear green liquid.  If you see tiny solids still in it, strain it one more time.

homemade play dough dyed with natural diy colorings you can make with things in your own fridge or spice drawer green smiley face in the oilDo you see the smiley face? I couldn’t recreate that on purpose if I wanted to.
homemade play dough dyed with natural diy colorings you can make with things in your own fridge or spice drawer green smiley face in the oil 02homemade play dough dyed with natural diy colorings you can make with things in your own fridge or spice drawer green smiley face in the oil 03

Once you have your clear, colored liquid, pour it into a clear measuring cup, and add a bit of water until you have the amount of liquid you need to make the following recipe.

(Want to make red, purple, yellow, and orange play doughs too? Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings)

DIY Green Play Dough with Homemade Natural Coloring
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Homemade colorings are anything but boring.

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DIY Orange and Yellow Play Dough with Homemade Natural Colorings

Did you think that homemade colorings would be dull?  Check out this play dough!

orange Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY ColoringsOrange

yellow Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings Yellow

We made it with a basic recipe that my mother originally got from my grandmother, I believe.  We used SPICES to dye them different colors.  The color turned out amazing, and, even better, it was SO EASY.

For the orange we used paprika, and for the yellow we used turmeric.
adding water and heating the spices turmeric and paprika releases the coloring and then you strain it to make your own natural orange and yellow food colorings dyes 06

(Want to make the red, blue, purple, and green play doughs too? Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings)

It doesn’t really work to make the play dough and add the spice at the end.  It’s better if you don’t have all those solids in the play dough, and you’ll get better coloring if you follow the method below.

For orange, add a mounded Tbsp. of paprika to a glass; for yellow, add 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of turmeric to a glass.  Add 1/4 or 1/3 cup of water, and microwave it for 20-25 seconds.  You can see that before heating it, the paprika didn’t mix with the water.

adding water and heating the spices turmeric and paprika releases the coloring and then you strain it to make your own natural orange and yellow food colorings dyes

During heating, the spices will mix well with the water and release their coloring.

Strain the liquid through a fine-woven cloth (I use kitchen/butter muslin) and you should have your orangey-brown or yellow liquid.  You want it to be as clear as possible, so strain it once or twice more if you need to.…

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DIY Red, Blue, & Purple Play Dough with Natural Homemade Colorings

DIY Red blue and purple play dough with natural homemade colorings
Did you think that homemade colorings would be dull? Check out this play dough!

red Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY ColoringsRed

blue Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings (sort of)(kinda, sorta, not really) Blue

Purple Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY ColoringsPurple

Yes, the blue is a bit disappointing. It was worth a try, though, and now I know the result (and you do too). :) (Want to make the green, yellow, and orange play doughs too? Homemade Sensory Play Dough with Natural DIY Colorings)

Here’s how you can make your own red and purple play dough.

For the red play dough use red raspberries. For the purple play dough use blackberries. (If you’d like to give the “blue” a try, I used blueberries. Have another idea for blue? Let us know in the comments below.)

First, you need to extract the clear juice of the berries. I wanted my kids to be part of the play dough making process – I try to involve them in the kitchen whenever I can.

I have a mortar and pestle (that I absolutely love), and I didn’t want it to get stained. So I wrapped them both in tin foil, which did an excellent job at keeping it safe from berry stains, poured in a handful of berries and let the kids pound away at the berries.

making your own red, blue, and purple dye homemade play dough playdough diy natural colorings

They loved it, from the squelchy sounds to the rich color produced by the berries.…

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Homemade Ravioli – Entirely from Scratch

Have you ever made homemade pasta? Homemade ricotta cheese? How about homemade ravioli?
Valentine Ravioli entirely from scratch - pasta, ricotta cheese, and sauce entirely homemade

Home cooking takes time. But not as much time as you might think it does. I’m a homeschooling mommy, so I don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen. When I do have a lot to do in the kitchen, I involve the kids (wait, that sounds counterintuitive…).

Admittedly, it takes longer with kids, but talk about education enhancement! There’s no better place to learn science, home skills, and some math than in the kitchen. And I get to spend SO much time with my kids. It’s amazing, it really is. It’s like getting two things done at once, so the time is used more efficiently, right?!

Making pasta is really quite easy. I made it for the first time on a girl’s troop outing (it wasn’t girl scouts, but kind of like it) when I was 10 or 11. We did it without any fancy equipment or that noodle roller thing or anything else. Just our hands to mix, a rolling pin to roll it out, and a knife to cut the noodles to size.

My family loves homemade pasta, so for Valentine’s Day, the kids and I whipped up these gorgeous, red (dyed with home-canned tomato sauce), heart-shaped ravioli, with homemade ricotta cheese inside.…

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