Strawberry Jam

I'm learning so much about how to become more self sufficient and reliant these days. But what I didn't expect was how gratifying and addicting preserving and canning would be. Canning mostly, I haven't tried any other technique to preserving food, like dehydrating, cause I'm stuck on canning! We have preserved a few foods but today, I'm jammin'! And I'm sharing my experience with you!

First, we went on an adventure to an awesome farm close to home, complete with full bellies and a tractor ride to and from the strawberry patch to pick these delicious plump berries!

Once we brought the berries home we gave them in a bath with a half full sink with lukewarm water and a cup of vinegar. We chopped them up and removed the stems and any other nasty bits.

Pro tip: {well, I'm not an actual pro, but this tip is gold, baby!} Start boiling your jars and water bath water right away, so when you are ready to process them, you aren't waiting around for a pot of water to boil!

2nd Pro Tip: When you are heating your seals and rims to ensure proper 'pinging', do not continuously boil your seals, this can damage them and end up spoiling your food, and your day..

Once the berries are clean, mash them to leave chunks or use an immersion blender if you like a smoother jam. I did a little of both because I only wanted a few chunks. You will want 4 cups of strawberry mash in the end.

Add your strawberry mash and sugar in your pot on medium-high until it is boiling. Once it is boiling well, add your pectin and combine well. Remove from heat and use a metal spoon to remove the foam from the top.

Now that your kitchen smells amazing, fill your jars, wipe the rims of the jars and place on those seals and rims. Tighten them up just a bit and water process for about 10 minutes. 

Water bath canning strawberry jam is a new thing. I remember the days when this wasn't necessary but nowadays, it is recommended to prevent spoilage and botulism. I already had the pot of water boiling, so I went a head and did it anyways!

Isn't it beautiful?!

What is your favourite jam?

Garlic Dill Pickles

One of my kids loves pickles, like finish off a whole jar love for pickles. So while we are waiting to buy the land for our off grid homestead and I'm practicing my canning skills, pickles was high on the list! 

If you've been following us for a while, you may have seen my hopes, dreams and goals for my first container garden. Well, I jumped the gun when starting my seeds indoors and their transplant didn't go to well. Bummer. I know. I re-sowed the seeds in the large containers and they are growing well but very very slowly! Impatience is one of my strengths!

Delicious Zucchini Cheese Bites

Zucchini is my favourite vegetable. I never really knew I liked zucchini so much until the last year or so. I like it baked, roasted and in dessert breads! So when I found a giant zucchini at the market this week for $2.75, I went cray-cray for zucchini recipes! 

The recipe I want to share today is quick, easy and only dirties one bowl, my kind of recipe! It also can be made with ingredients you probably already have at home and since we are on a journey to self sufficiency, it's perfect. There's nothing more disappointing when you find a great recipe to find you'll have to run out to the market before you can start!

Living Unplugged

We sold almost everything including the microwave, the KitchenAid mixer, game consoles and finally, the television. Yea, you read that right, we got rid of the television! And guess what!? We don't even regret it!

These were just the first steps we took to downsize after we decided to build a tiny home to live a more minimal lifestyle. We sold the second car, purged all areas of the house and moved from a 3 story townhouse to a 2 bedroom apartment. We now live our lives unplugged.

We don't have a home phone {but who does these days},  and we don't have satellite or cable. Our children spend their time playing rather than zoning out mindlessly on cartoon after cartoon. But we aren't pioneers, we do have home internet which allows me to work from home on this lovely blog and use our cell phones for social media. Occasionally, the idea of a quiet shower without the paranoia of what the kidlets are doing is intriguing and I will put an episode of The Magic School Bus or Cat in the Hat to really enjoy myself!

Living unplugged means we are free to live our lives seamlessly, allowing our family to do what we want when we want, without waiting for a commercial break. We have eliminated a monthly cable bill and reduced our utility bill, using that cash for spontaneous family outings to instil curiosity and adventure in our children {follow our adventures on Instagram}. 

Our children have the ability to imagine rather than reinact their favourite episode. Their days are spent building, creating, exploring with their senses and using their hands to develop necessary skills to be intelligent adults one day. 

I know the idea of removing the television, DVD player, spare computers and game consoles from the home seems a bit radical. If you are considering removing the television, first consider limiting screen time and see how that goes! You won't regret it!

Products for Zero Waste

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Going zero waste or garbage free is a great accomplishment everyone should strive towards and is something our family works towards every day. Our population on this planet grows hundreds of thousands each day, and we are producing the same amount of trash. For the well being of our planet, we need to start making serious changes! {And garbage smells anyway...}

Society, and it's expectations, has us all on a path of living with excess beginning when we are children. We are taught to buy hot and trendy items, buy everything new and improved and to spoil ourselves with eating out! All these habits, create tons of unnecessary waste. Everyone, even you, can make small changes in the right direction. I have compiled a list of items, you can purchase to make going zero waste, a breeze! Many of these we already have, and the rest are on my list! 

All About Mint

While we are apartment homesteaders and waiting to build our permanent homestead, I have been collecting perennial plants and herbs to use now. Our 4'x8' outdoor space is littered with container plants that I will one day plant in the earth. I've got container mint, chives, lavender, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb and garlic. All.. in.. pots..

Mint is a perennial herbs that grows really well in a container and is an invasive plant that can take over your lawn or garden if you don't prevent it from spreading. It has been used for thousands of years as a herbal remedy and has actually been found in 1000 year old tombs in Eygpt. Mint leaves are pretty useful and very beneficial! If it is taking over your gardens, harvest it!

Chia Water

Did you know the typical human body is made up of 50-60% of water? And after a long night of sleep it is essential to rehydrate to maintain important functions of your body. 

Staying hydrated for a busy homeschool mom like myself, is tough. I'm usually the last one to be fed in the mornings but I'm trying to turn that around. 

Did you also know that developing a new habit actually takes close to two months? Actually 66 days, according to Phillippa Lally's study which examined 96 people over a 12 week period. And for some, it took over 250 days to develop a habit.

2016 Summer Update

Boy, we've been busy and I think it's about time for an in depth update on our journey to our off grid cabin! Although it may not look like we are busy, we are still working towards our goal.

We are nearly half way through 2016 and have checked off a few items on our never-ending to do list like paying off our debt, in fact we are just a few months away to having it all paid off! We have started gathering recycled or salvaged building materials as well!

Easy Compost Tea

Any research I have done on compost tea has been very light and discouraging. I've found all these elaborate systems buckets and sometimes, equipment that requires power. That is when I need to quit overloading my brain with information and think simple

I needed something to give my container garden the boost it deserves and I wanted to keep it organic. If we were already living on the land, I would be scooping out some nutritious compost and laying it all around my cucumbers but we are still apartment dwelling. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! I have made my first no-brainer compost tea!

Homemade Redness Reducing Facial Mask

On the road to self reliancy our family is trying all sorts of new things. Some don't work out very well while others really surprise us! Lately we have been putting all our extra cash on our debt to get it paid off by the fall, I just can't bring myself to spend on beauty products. Anything I can make at home or do for myself rather than paying another person to do for me, is how we live a minimal lifestyle and are homesteaders! This week, I switched my my usual homemade exfoliating mask for something a bit different to help with redness.