The Happyish Homestead

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Libby is One

My cousin’s wife, whom I’ve met, once, is pretty talented.

She’s like, do your own photo shoot!

And she has the awesome pictures of her baby that just turned one a couple of months ago.

Which she did in her own house with her own stuff.

And I’m like, yes, totally!

Well, she neglected to mention that one should take drastic measures to get an almost toddler to hold still, like, sedation.

It was nearly impossible to get Libby to sit still and I was sweating and she was crying and poopy by the end of the twenty minute photo session.


Antique potty chair from my neighbors house who is downsizing.


Paper garlands from an afternoon with my friend’s Silhouette.


I also had a grand intentions of a homemade vintage dress.

One top is what I managed to bust out.








I’m a bit obsessed with this umbrella that I picked.

It’s totally vintage and has fringe.  Fringe, people.








Well, here’s to my last first birthday.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Bathroom Update

I thought you might want a bathroom update.

Because we’re remodeling ours.

And things are always more fun and exciting when viewed from the shelter of the internet.

When you’re in the comfort of your own home and not having to bathe small children in the laundry room sink.

Where you’re far away from the dust and the stress and the chaos, and that’s just the kids.

So, here’s what it looked like before.


The only thing we added over the years is a mirror and more children.

It really was just a closet before.


And here’s how it’s looking now.

That black ring on the floor to the right is where the toilet used to sit.

And the original wood floors.


Where the bathtub used to be.

And the old siding that they turned backwards to use as the framing when the house was originally built.


The original slope line of the ceiling in the old bathroom.




And here’s the outside.

The most recent ‘before’ pictures.

If you want to call a year ago recent.

I won’t tell you how to live your life.

I wanted to keep the brick from the chimney for our gas furnace exposed, but there was a concern about carbon dioxide leaking into the bathroom, so, no.


And now.


There’s a pile of wood that I saved from my own dumpster.


And they had to take out the old window. 

Look how big it is!

Bryce says I should probably just sell it.

I’m not quite there yet.

Look how sad our poor yard looks.

Oh well, it always gets worse before it gets better.

Which I’ve told myself a lot this week

when the time out stool has been a revolving door for Spencer,

and Bennett cut Libby’s hair,

however, if we’re being honest we’re lucky that’s all that got cut when he found the sewing scissors, and he’s two and Libby probably wasn’t holding still,

and in all reality, you can’t even tell because what little hair she has looks messy all of the time anyway after she attempts to style it after every meal with tomato sauce, or banana, or canned pears, or peach juice.

and Libby learned to climb the stairs.





Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Menu, Day 5

Two dinners.

Growing up I didn’t like to make baked potatoes.

Because it took like a century.

As an adult, I realized that one can increase the oven temperature and get them done in half as much time.

I always bake extra and then use them the next morning for hash browns.

Steak, baked potatoes, oatmeal muffins, deviled eggs.






Nachos with homemade refried beans.

I rarely buy canned refried beans.

Homemade ones can’t be beat.

And they’re super cheap.

And, I read an article that said that I don’t have to pre-soak my pinto beans.

Plus, if you cook your beans with salt, versus adding it afterwards, you actually don’t need as much.

So, lower sodium.

And I kinda feel like life is complete knowing I don’t have to plan my dinner the day before.

Which, I never remember.

Rinse and sort your pinto beans.

Cover your beans with water and cook on your stove top with a lid.

I add a chopped onion, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and some spice like chili powder or red pepper flakes. I dried and ground my jalapenos from my garden last year so I use that.

Simmer for about two hours. Checking liquid.

Blend in your blender, food processor or mash by hand.

Add a tablespoon of bacon grease to a cast iron skillet or something of the like, add mashed beans and cook till desired thickness.

I also add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid from peppercinis.







Well, that’s it. 

{Obviously we eat a lot of other things, but I feel this was a fair example.}


Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Day 4

French toast, once a week.

I use cheap white bread.

I use frozen bread and then it doesn’t get soggy.

And I make it with just eggs.





Most days for snack it’s: crackers, fruit/vegetable, and some sort of treat like a cookie or if it’s getting close to the end of the month, like five chocolate chips.

Other times it’s broiled bread with cinnamon and sugar.

Milk with graham crackers.

Hard boiled eggs with salt.

But I had made these oatmeal muffins and had some frozen berries, so, smoothies and muffins.

OK, I think these are the best muffins hands down.

The link is only accessible if you’re a member of America’s Test Kitchen, and I guess I no longer am since I can’t access it and use the link.

However, I have the recipe copied, so if you’re interested, let me know, and I would be thrilled to find time to post it.

Or something to that affect.

Let’s talk for a minute about American’s Test Kitchen. It’s a PBS show and it’s a little addicting. 

My friend gave me their DIY book when she came to visit and it is so fun. 

Guys, I’ve made my own marshmallows.

So look them up if you get the chance.

The current season of recipes is always free.




And lasagna...

You know those things in life that are really important to you?

And you spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on?

So you can get it just right?

Like service

or parenting

or lawn care

or dog breeding?

For me, it’s lasagna and fried chicken.

So, in my quest to make the best lasagna possible, I’ve learned to make my own ricotta cheese.

I’m telling you, it makes a difference.

I will make things at home if it’s cheaper and/or tastes better.

Almost always it’s cheaper.

And it generally tastes better.

{With the exception of the homemade Ritz crackers I attempted during one point of crazy.}

Ricotta cheese is just salted whole milk you warm on the stove top, add some acid like lemon juice and vinegar, which causes the whey to separate, you strain it and refrigerate it and now you have ricotta cheese.

See how easy that was?

{You’ve probably made some in the time it took to read that.}

Anyway, there’s a lot of online sources if you want to Google it.

Again, if there’s any interest, I’d be happy to post the recipe I use.

I also give a cup full to my neighbor each time I make it and she’s says it’s delicious with a little jam.

Oh, and I use Italian sausage instead of ground beef.

Add some tomato/spaghettis sauce.

Mix some parmesan and mozzarella cheese with your ricotta cheese, add an egg and some basil salt and pepper.

Pre- cook your noodles.

Layer it up.


I hope you had a nice weekend.

My kids made mud pies and I went junking through my neighbor’s out buildings as they are downsizing.

So, now I have two ice cream makers and have a feeling that an ice cream social is in the near future.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Menu Day 3

We eat a lot of eggs in the spring, summer, and fall.

In the winter I buy eggs.

In-expensive white ones from a large grocery store chain that I’m embarrassed to be purchasing because I have a.lot of chickens.

Which if you ask how many specifically?

That’s the number I will give you, a lot.

Because we’re never honest about our weaknesses.

So German pancakes are a regular occurrence at our house eight months out of the year.

We called them German pancakes growing up.

My aunt’s German friend called them hoot-e-nannies.

And most cook books refer to them, unglamorously, as puffed-oven pancakes.

So, who knows?

6 eggs

1 C milk

1 C flour

Mix and pour into a 9 x 13 pan that’s had 3T of butter melted in it.

Cook at 450 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes.

I used to half this and cook it in a 9 x 9 pan.

Now I double and a half it.

Where has the time gone?

Served with home canned grape juice and apple cinnamon syrup.

{See what I’m trying to do in this picture here?  Be a food blogger. Failing on so many levels.}






I made these oven baked creamy chicken taquitos one time to moderate success.

The next time I made them, probably a couple of years later, they were shamelessly inhaled.

I always try a recipe at least twice. It gives my family, i.e. kids, time to warm up to something new and it allows me to make adjustments the next time around.

Served here with Juanitas tortilla chips {never buy another brand again} and cilantro lime rice.

I used corn tortillas. And I never put in the onions. 

I pretty much hate raw onions.




Have a nice weekend,


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Menu Day 2

I think food is complicated.

And how I feel about it, contradictory.

I make my pancakes from scratch, but if I’m lazy, I serve it with a gallon size thing of syrup from Costco.

I have free range chickens, but serve my kids crackers {which are totally processed} daily.

I have a vegetable garden that was probably the size of our yard in our last house, but I serve meat for almost every dinner.

My kids have sugar cereal two to three times a week, but I can’t remember the last time I bought a refrigerated pie crust.

So, who knows?


Scratch pancakes

1 C sour milk

{1 T lemon juice adding enough milk for one cup total}

1 egg

2 T vegetable oil


1 C flour

1 T sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt


Add wet ingredients to dry ones.

We have pancakes once a week.

And lately, Adeline’s the one who’s been making them.

{If we’re being honest,

it’s a little touch and go on the pouring and flipping aspect,

and making sure all the flour is incorporated,

and whether or not the oil gets remembered, but for the most part….not too bad.}


And homemade Chinese.

I love Asian food.

Specifically, I love to go out for Chinese food.

Just Bryce and me, no kids.

Romantic, no?

But, that’s rarely in the budget, so, homemade it is.

Just Bryce and me

and all the kids

where it took 45 minutes to prepare

12 minutes to consume

and 105 minutes to clean up.

But, at least we’re not embarrassed by the straw wrappers, chopsticks and noodles left under the table of the restaurant when we’re done, right?


I have a friend who is from Japan so when I call her up asking what mirin is thinking it’s a brown, exotic, fragrant spice and realize it’s a sweet alcohol, I realize I have a lot to learn.

Sesame chicken, noodles with cabbage, and edamame.

I cook my noodles, drain them, spread them out on a oiled skillet and cook them with some cabbage and add the sauce before serving.

Noodles are great because they’re cheap.

And easy

and cheap.




Here are some links to other Asian-esk type foods I’ve tried and liked:

Broccoli and beef stir fry, reduce the amount of soy sauce to about 1/4 C.

Beef udon noodles, the grocery store here carries them fresh in the little ethnic section by the fresh veggies.

Egg rolls

Dipping sauce for egg rolls


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

For Brittney: Day 1

These posts are a long time coming.

At least two months.

And I had the best of intentions.

But, you know when the dinner hour hits,

and homework has to be finished up,

and the baby needs to be held,

and you want to shove your kids outside

but it’s raining

and Bryce is getting home,

and chores have to be done,

and Spencer complains about setting the table,

and you pretend like you’re a better mom than you are and insist on having the children rotate helping you in the kitchen,

but weeks in you realize Meg doesn’t know the difference between the fridge and the pantry

and you kinda just want to set your house on fire

not take below average pictures of your dinner that you won’t be able to eat hot

because you have numerous children

and 9 times out of 10 you’ve forgotten something in the microwave?

Sooo….eight weeks later…..


I have always loved oatmeal.

In college, I’d microwave myself a bowl and eat it with cheap white toast with cinnamon and sugar.

Steel cut oats are my new favorite.

In the mornings, I make two kinds, regular and steel cut.

With the steel cut, lots of times I’ll add canned pears with some vanilla bean seeds as it’s cooking.

Always served with milk, cream, choice of sugar and sometimes chopped almonds.

We eat oatmeal about once a week.

Occasionally on the weekend I’ll do an oatmeal buffet with nuts, berries, coconut flakes, etc.






Salad bar

This is definitely one of my family’s favorite things.

I’ll grill up a couple of steaks, slice them and serve a variety of toppings with a bread.

The kids have a set number of vegetables they have to choose.

Here’s the recipe for the bread:

Sometimes I run out of bread flour which the recipe calls for and will just add baking powder and baking soda to regular flour.

If you want to make your own add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup (130 grams) of all-purpose flour. Bread flourhas a 12-14% protein content and is made from hard wheat flour. The high gluten content causes the bread to rise and gives it shape and structure.


More tomorrow,


Friday, April 1, 2016

Beach Day 2.0

We went to the coast again for one day during the kids’ Spring Break.

You know, Spring Break?

Where the kids are out of school for five consecutive days,

not including the weekends before and after,

in March,

where traditionally, Southern Oregon is at it’s most



and rainy,

and on the tail of Daylight Savings?

I’m sure you’re all familiar with this phenomena.

I took pictures that indicated we were all a lot warmer and happier than we were.

Pretty sure that’s a marketable talent in some field, but probably just motherhood.




Looking for whales.


It seemed like footed pajamas for the day would keep her the warmest and the cleanest.

But no.

Next time ear muffs so there’s not a cups worth of sand in those tiny receptacles.








A starfish that we ‘rescued’.










Once at the beach, everyone promptly got wet from head to toe,

complained about how cold and windy it was,

whined about wanting to put on their only other set of clean clothes

with still hours left before heading home,

and nagged me about it till I wanted to cry.

But I’ve nailed this photography thing so well I bet you can’t even discern that.

So, yay me….






























Trying out our homemade kites.

Which tracking down the materials, making them, and then flying them may come closest to one of the worst fails of my adult life.

Probably only superseded by the complete disappoint in my children’s eyes at the flightless outcome.

So there ya go.