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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Cooking: Leftover edition

"Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories.  Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart."  Thomas Fuller

As I gaze into my refrigerator, I see the memories of a wonderful family gathering of just a couple of days ago.  I see the deviled eggs made by a daughter and green beans made by another.  I see the remnants of a veggie tray put together by yet another daughter and the leftover cheese cubes from the tray a favorite uncle carried in on Thursday.

I see the stuffing made separate from the turkey and with vegetable broth because the daughter who loves it so is a vegetarian these days.  I see the ham made for a dear son who doesn't care for turkey but who didn't like the mustard I added to the glaze this year.  I see the turkey made for the other dear son who doesn't like ham and who kept turning on the oven light to see how the best part of the dinner was progressing.   I see the best husband in the world peeking into each covered container to find just the right combination for just one more taste of everything.  It was a blessed day that will live in our memories long after those same containers will hold leftovers of other meals made hurriedly as I rush from work to cooking to another evening commitment or to chase a wayward chicken or to just enjoy a quiet moment with my needlework.

 So today, it was leftovers as we put up the Christmas tree and blessed the Advent wreath.  I was ready to turn those Thanksgiving leftover memories into something new and fresh as we turn the page to the most blessed of holidays - the waiting of the Advent season and the Christmas celebration that follows all the way through the Epiphany.

This Sunday recipe is using the leftovers of turkey and the items that were on our veggie tray.  This turkey salad is a little different than the usual one and I enjoy the freshness of it.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Veggie Tray Turkey Salad

2 cups chopped turkey
2 cups chopped veggies - I used celery, pickles and tomatoes
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped or 4 leftover deviled eggs, chopped if you have them
1 cup cheese cubes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Italian dressing

Mix together the turkey, veggies, eggs and cheese cubes.  In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and Italian dressing.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.  Enjoy with crackers or a sandwich or just by itself.  It is a welcome change from the heavy foods from Thanksgiving dinner.

Until tomorrow - Peace be with you,

Star Schipp

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Skills Saturday: Water Storage

If you went to your kitchen sink right now, turned the faucet and nothing came out, would you panic or know that you are prepared?  Water is a basic need for survival for you, your family and your animals so storing a sufficient amount for an emergency is an absolute must.

According to every household should consider storing enough food and water for two weeks supply even if it is unlikely that an emergency would last that long.  I do know that in our area, there have been power outages for up to ten days after an ice storm.

Store at least one gallon of drinkable water per person per day - absolutely no less than that and more if you can.  Also take into account how much you need for your animals.  Have you ever seen one of your houseplants looking pretty droopy and you water it and it perks right up?  People get pretty droopy too without adequate water!

I've been watching how much water our animals drink daily.  Our dog has been drinking, on average, three cups of water daily.  Our chickens have been drinking, on average, three gallons of water daily.  Our cows drink from a spring that naturally flows on our property so I do not need to worry about that unless there was a severe drought in our area.  Armed with this knowledge, how much water should I store for us to be prepared this winter?

Here are my calculations:

5 people x 1 gallon per day x 14 days = 70 gallons
1 Dog x 3 cups per day  x 14 days = 42 cups (to convert to gallons divide by 16) = 2.6 gallons
Chickens x 3 gallons per day x 14 days = 42 gallons

That is a total of 114.6 gallons at a minimum.....that will require A LOT of space!

Our local grocery store sells gallon jugs of water for 0.87 cents so purchasing is an option - pick up a couple every time you go to the store and find places to store them.  Your pantry, your freezer, the bottom of your closet, inside suitcases you are not currently using...really anywhere you can find will be helpful.

I also propose using your canning jars that are not currently being filled with the fruits of your garden labors. After emptying one of your jars, wash thoroughly and fill with your own tap water.  To keep the water from growing organisms, add 2 drops of unscented household bleach.  Stir well and let the water sit for 30 minutes.  If you can still smell the bleach, place a new lid on the jar and screw on the ring.  Don't forget to date the jar and be sure to use within six months to be safe.  If after 30 minutes you cannot smell the bleach, add 2 more drops, stir, wait 15 minutes and sniff again.  If you can smell the bleach, add the lid and screw on the ring.  If you cannot smell the bleach, I would not consider this as a reasonable alternative to buying water.  Reference:

According to Storey's Basic Country Skills, you can also can water to preserve it for emergencies.  Fill quart size canning jars with water, use new lids and process in a pressure canner for 10 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.  Store in a cool, dark place just as you would your other canned goods.

There are  many resources to teach you about using water filters, storing water and using "hidden" sources of water in emergencies (like your ice maker or water heater) on one of my favorite reference sites:     I hope this post will help you conduct your own research on this basic skill of country living and preparing for emergencies.

Don't risk your health by being unprepared with your water storage.  Water-borne illnesses can be life threatening and in an emergency situation even more so.  Be safe and plan ahead!

Water is the driving force of all nature - Leonardo da Vinci

Peace be with you,

Star Schipp

Friday, November 28, 2014

Housekeeping, Homemaking and Going Green

Some of you know that I became a proud part of the MaryJane's Farmgirl Sisterhood several years ago and I'm happy say that you can follow other Farmgirl Sister blogs on the GirlGab button right on my blog page.  I hope you go read their blogs too!

     MaryJane Butters started a program to earn Farmgirl badges - think Girl Scouts for grown-ups - where you learn skills for a Farmgirl lifestyle.  I so enjoy being a part of the Sisterhood at

Anyway, I will share my progress as I learn the skills and do the tasks required for badges.  Right now, I'm working on my beginner badge in the Cleaning Up:  Going Green section.  The tasks to earn this badge are:

  • Get rid of all cleaners that are not "green".
  • Write a mission statement for your house to use green cleaners. 
  • Make a journal of projects to share green ideas, projects, recycling and recipes. 
  • Make a gift basket of green products to give as a gift.  
    I went looking around my house for cleaners that are full of chemicals and was dismayed at what I found in my kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms.  I had a laundry basket full of partially used bottles and canisters!  Why in the world would I have so many different kinds of cleaners?  Did any of them fulfill the promise that the advertisements convinced me they would?  They did not.  They did not magically keep my shower sparkling or toilet bowl fresh...they did not magically keep our clothes sparkling clean and looking brand floors did not shine like mirrors or was I able to see my reflection in my kitchen sink.  I had totally bought into the hype because these companies knew that as a working wife and mother that my housekeeping and homemaking time was in short supply.  I had failed to remember that nothing cleans like basic soap and water!  

    When I looked at the ingredients in all those cleaners, I was truly shocked at all the chemicals.  There is a reason why you cannot store cleaners in places where curious toddlers could find them - like under the kitchen sink - it is because they are NOT SAFE!  This constant exposure to chemicals cannot be good for us.  In my effort to keep a clean home, I had lost sight of having a healthy one.  

     So, here is my mission statement:  Housekeeping and Homemaking are natural extensions of caring for my family and will be performed with love with basic, green products that are safe.  

     Is there a difference between housekeeping and homemaking?  I'm reading Keeping House:  The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson and I'm only a couple chapters in but she is making sense.   

      Housekeeping is the repetitive action that encompasses the basic needs of people for food, clothing and shelter in a clean and healthy environment.  Homemaking encompasses the human desire for home - for a place of shelter, safety, love and belonging.  It is the daily actions of serving a meal, providing clean clothes and a clean, comfortable place to sleep that keeps a house.  It is the daily rhythms of welcoming everyone to the table and sharing all aspects of life in a comfortable space that makes a home.  

     I'll keep working on the other items for this badge - like creating an e-book to share my projects and recipes for cleaners - so stay tuned for that.  I'll close with this:  
"The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."  Harold B. Lee
Peace be with you,

Star Schipp

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thyme to Flip the Bird

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone.  It has certainly been a year to be thankful.  I've spent the day cooking and wanted to share my way of cooking the star of the platter:  The Thanksgiving Turkey!!

The secret to my tasty turkey is compound butter with lots and lots of Thyme.  I love this fragrant, earthy herb and use it right from my own garden.  If you don't grow thyme yet, please consider it.  It is really easy to grow and adds just the right touch to so many dishes.

  To make it you need softened butter, Meyer lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, pepper and a big handful of fresh thyme.

Later, you use that same Meyer lemon to add the juice to butter, garlic and more thyme to baste the turkey at least every hour.

The easiest way to get the leaves off the stems of the thyme sprig is to pinch the stem between your thumb and index finger and ZIP those leaves right off - like this... >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Mix all those ingredients together and loosen the skin on the turkey and tuck that wonderful butter right up next to the flesh so it will melt right in and keep your turkey moist and flavorful.
With any compound butter you have remaining, slather the whole bird with it.  Now for the Flip the Bird part....what in the world do I mean by that?

I roast my turkey breast side down for the first hour to be sure that the moisture gets into the part of the turkey that can be the most dry.  After the first hour, I flip it breast side up and continue roasting as usual.  There are many ways to roast a turkey and this one works well for me.  I would like to hear your traditions so please comment if you have a couple of secrets you are willing to share.  

Until tomorrow, I'll leave you with a little quote from Reba McIntire, "To thrive in life you need three bones.  A wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."

We need all three to keep our sanity when we cook a feast.  :)


Star Schipp

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Now Playing in the Chicken Coop: FROZEN....

Why the cold doesn't bother me anyway - anymore!  For the first few years of keeping chickens, it was a daily frustration in the winter to keep fresh water for my girls because of the constant freezing. Usually, two to three times a day, I was struggling with getting the water containers open because they would be frozen closed - more than once, I ended up breaking the plastic base just trying to get the water flowing again.

 I finally settled on two solutions.  I now have two of these type of water containers for my ladies but only keep one in the coop at a time.  In the evening, I take the frozen one into the house to thaw overnight and switch it out in the morning so there is water available on a constant basis.  Chickens do drink a lot of water - much more than you would imagine!  In the winter, one chicken will drink about a half liter per day and in the summer, about three fourths a liter.

So when we tripled the size of our flock,  the one water container was not sufficient to last the day and it would take several hours for the frozen one to thaw.  I was going to just buy more plastic waterers but my husband found a great solution!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 We are lucky that we have electricity to our coop.  This is a heated metal base that you can put under your water container and it is like a little electric plate warmer.  You cannot use this on a water container with a plastic base but metal water containers are also available.    
With this set up, I am confident that there is a constant, clean water supply to set my chickens up to produce the best possible eggs they can.  I absolutely love having the freshest products available right in my own backyard.  The satisfaction I get from providing my family - and our friends- with eggs that are from happy hens brings me great joy.  

Did you know that, according to Mother Earth News, that eggs from pasture raised hens are more nutritious than eggs from hens kept in cages on factory-farms?  In 2003, researchers from Penn State reported that eggs like the ones I raise are three times higher in Omega-3s, have twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A.  

Good nutrition...great taste plus all the fun that comes from watching these curious creatures enjoy their free-range life....yep, I'll be keeping chickens as long as I possibly can.  Thanks for reading today.  


Star Schipp 

Monday, November 24, 2014

BE INTENTIONAL: Have you read Every Monday Matters?

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. - Abraham Lincoln

Monday is my day to do a check in with myself and time to understand my goals and my resolution to achieve them.  My biggest goal this year is to Be Intentional in all that I do.  Particularly in celebrating the hobby farm lifestyle.

I found a couple of books that I had actually bought a few years ago and - embarrassingly - never read.  Now is the time!

Every Monday Matters:  52 Ways to Make A Difference was written by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza.  The first sentence in this book is:  Have you made today matter?   Wow - way to put it right out there!  The book has 52 lessons - one to do each Monday of the year and I am jumping in with both feet to Be Intentional and make today matter.  So why Monday?  Matthew and Kelly discuss that for many people, Monday is the least favorite day of the week - the day the weekend ends and work begins; the day to quit a bad habit or start a new not-so-fun one.  Their goal has been to turn that right around.  I hope you will consider joining me on this journey because it will be so much more fun together.

So what is the goal for today?     Make a list of what matters most.  We spend an extraordinary amount of time keeping busy but do we spend that time on what matters most to us personally?  Is watching TV what matters most to you - I bet not - but I can tell you that I spend too much time doing that.   So, take time to list what matters most to you - Is it faith, family, friends, health, career or something else?  There is no need to share your list with anyone else unless it helps you set your own priorities - notice I said your own priorities - not what someone else may set for you.

Next, keep track of how you actually spend your time - how do the lists match up?  For me, there was a great disconnect.  That difference means that I need to determine which activities are required and which ones are distractions that waste time.  Take action to rearrange your schedule to spend the rest of your life doing what matters most.

So why did I also start reading that other book;  Charging the Human Battery by Mac Anderson?  This book is about motivation - particularly self-motivation - and I know that I need a serious kick in the seat of the pants so I can make the life I envision happen.  I have spent a lifetime letting life happen to me instead of the other way around and it is high time to turn that around.  The books really do complement each other and I am really excited to stick to this plan.  Anderson says the first step in self-motivation is to clearly determine your core values.  See how this matches up with the what matters most list?

The what matters most list will reveal your core values.  Those same core values are going to be the key to intentionally creating the life you were meant to live.

As Zig Ziglar said,  "People often tell me that motivation doesn't last, and I tell them, bathing doesn't either, that's why I recommend it daily!"  

Let's bathe ourselves in motivation daily by BEing INTENTIONAL


Star Schipp

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What's Cooking - Sunday Edition

Sunday's are not for catching up on the week's work!  I know that as a working Mom, it is so tempting to fill the day with Church and then chores but let's be sure not to do that.  Spend the day reconnecting with each other and restoring your Spirit.  Your week will benefit if you BE INTENTIONAL and take time to recharge - whether that means a long walk with your friends and/or family, spending quality time with your farm menagerie, catching up with a friend over a great cup of tea or sitting down to work on that baby blanket you started a few months ago.   

I like Sunday supper to be easy and healthy so here are a couple of my most favorite recipes.  I hope you enjoy them!  

This is an easy soup to make and has a surprise 
addition:  Parmesan Cheese!  Allow the soup to simmer until the entire block of cheese melts away in the soup and you will have a broth that is rich and delicious…perfect for a Sunday afternoon.  In addition, you can switch out vegetables with what you have and still have a perfect soup that is also easy on the budget. 

My Favorite Vegetable Soup 

1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 large carrots, sliced
½ head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 cups chopped spinach or kale   
2 medium turnips or potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped green beans
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 8 ounce block Parmesan cheese, diced
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for sauteing 

Add a small amount to olive oil to soup pot.  Place pot on medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots and cabbage along with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute until wilted.   Add remaining vegetables, tomatoes, vegetable broth and bay leaves.  Heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Add diced Parmesan cheese and simmer until cheese is melted away into the broth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Add apple cider vinegar and mix well.  Remove bay leaves before serving. 
Makes 1 ½ quarts of soup.
Copyright Star Schipp - Estle Schipp Farm 2014 

This salad is so easy and can be made with whichever fruits you may have on hand.  I do recommend using a Meyer lemon which gives just that perfect sweet/sour addition that brings out the delicious freshness in your salad.  The creamy Greek yogurt is a great addition too!  Use real maple syrup for a real treat.  

My Favorite Fresh Fruit Salad with Cinnamon Maple Vanilla Yogurt 


4 cups fresh fruit - sliced (I like bananas, pears and berries but use what you have) 
1 Meyer lemon - juice and zest 
1 single serve container of vanilla Greek yogurt (150 grams)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place sliced fruit in bowl.  Add juice and zest from the Meyer lemon.  Toss to coat with evenly with juice and zest.  In a separate dish, mix the yogurt, syrup and cinnamon.  To  serve, dish fruit and top with the yogurt sauce.  Makes 4 servings.  
Copyright Star Schipp - Estle Schipp Farm 2014

Remember, this Sunday and every other, BE INTENTIONAL with spending the day resting and restoring.  Everyone will benefit from it.  :) 


Star Schipp   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's That Wonderful Smell?

I love it when my home smells good, don't you?  According to Psychology Today, scents can have beneficial effects even if you don't constantly notice them - of course, if it is a scent that brings unpleasant memories, you would want to avoid it.

But, when you associate good memories with particular scents, it makes good sense (or scents LOL) to surround yourself with them.  I used to use scented candles to create this atmosphere in my home but have become concerned with the potential for lead or petroleum products being in those candles.  I now use high quality essential oils in a diffuser to create this welcoming atmosphere in our home.

Different scents can add to the mood you want to create.  Lemon or Jasmine are thought to help with cognitive functions so the next time you are helping your child with those algebra problems, put one of those in your diffuser.  Need help sticking with your workout on the treadmill?  Try diffusing Peppermint and it will boost your performance.  Need an afternoon pick me up to finish your to do list?  Use Rosemary or Grapefruit and it will pep you right up.  Want to do some creative writing?  Diffuse Cinnamon or Vanilla to boost your creativity.

Speaking of Cinnamon, it is my most favorite scent to diffuse this week.  It brings a comforting, cozy atmosphere to our home that is in contrast to the shorter and colder days of the season.  It is really fun to mix up your own blends for your diffuser.  I like to mix a few drops of Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove and it smells like I have spent the day baking.  So BE INTENTIONAL and create the scent-memories you want your family to carry with them for the day.  Whenever they come across that scent in the future, they will have the wonderful memory of home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BE INTENTIONAL - Planning the Garden

We did receive an early snow this year in Central Indiana as you can see but it is not too early to start planning your next garden - or even your first garden for that matter.

Our family did not have a garden when I was growing up - we sometimes had a couple of tomato plants and there was a tiny strawberry patch along the side of the house but other than that, I was not taught to garden when I was young.  Everything I have learned has come from reading pretty much anything related to gardening I can find.

So, I've had a few successes and a few failures too but I'm constantly learning.  One thing I have always been unsure about is how much of any one thing to plant - for example, how many carrots should I plant or how many rows of corn?  Of course, there is always the chance that your crop will perform in a less than stellar fashion but with some planning, you just may be able to have the wonderful satisfaction of providing nutritious food for yourself and your family and maybe even your neighbors too!

How can I intelligently predict how much I should plant?  In keeping with our theme to BE INTENTIONAL, I have decided to keep track of how many vegetables our family uses on a weekly/monthly basis and use that along with a way to figure out plant yields to determine number of plants at rows to include in my 2015 garden.  I've taped up a tally sheet in the kitchen and I'll keep you posted.  For example, I know that my family uses two pounds of carrots a week so 2 pounds x 52 weeks = 104 pounds of carrots.  An internet search says that there are about 4 large carrots per pound so if I want to provide enough carrots for my family for the whole year, I should plant 416 carrots - Wow - that is a lot of carrots!

Does that seem overwhelming?  I hope not....I find it comforting that I have the potential to truly plan for feeding my family right from the garden in my own little patch of soil.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Eggs are Coming! The Eggs are Coming!

It seemed like a really long wait this time but my new hens are laying some small eggs - finally.  Actually, they are right on schedule since they are 22 weeks old but it seemed long because our older hens stopped laying for several weeks due to that less than attractive time of molting.

We have had chickens now for about seven years and have learned a lot along the way.  Our first flock was a "gift" from a co-worker that turned out to be 5 roosters and 3 hens.  THAT was an
interesting experience but I learned so much in what is involved in keeping chickens safe from predators and how fun they are to watch on a daily basis.  I felt like the most popular girl on campus when I would take the bowl of scraps out to them daily and they all ran full-tilt toward me to see what I had to offer.

Because I was given that gift years ago to start my flock, I was blessed to be able to give my neighbor ten of the chicks that arrived in June.  We have an eclectic group of Black Stars, Red Stars, Americunas, Barred Rocks, Hamburgs and Black Copper Marans - each one is beautiful and I look forward every day to see the beautiful eggs they have to offer - brown, light brown, deep chocolate brown and blue ones too!  Our whole flock is hens right now, no roosters.

Speaking of roosters, I have been asked many times by non-chicken-owners how we get eggs if we don't have a rooster.  I always giggle just a little and reassure them that chickens will lay anyway - but just don't try to get any of those eggs to hatch!  

Sunday, November 16, 2014 is all in the details...

Happy Harvest!  I always enjoy hanging wreaths on the front door.  I smile every single time I see them.  As preparations for Thanksgiving are happening at Estle Schipp Farm, I remember that planning is the key to success.  It is also the key to success as you live your hobby farm lifestyle...or farm girl lifestyle...or DIY lifestyle - however you identify your desire to live closer to the land and each other.

So, what do you want to happen in the seasons to come?  Start a garden - or expand one?  How about an orchard - or just one fruit tree?  If you are like me, you say Yes!  all of it....but first comes the planning.

The key is to BE INTENTIONAL about what you want to do and lay out the steps that will get you there.  Then, decide what is one thing I can do today or this week to get me closer to that goal.  For several years, I have said that I was going to try to tap some of our maple trees and learn the process of sugaring - making syrup and maple sugar too!

This is the year to start I decided, so the first thing to do was to identify and mark the maple trees....come February or March, I was not confident that I could figure out which trees to tap just by looking at the bark.  So, armed with some strips cut from old T-shirts, my husband and I decided to find four trees as candidates for tapping.  We almost waited too late since there were few leaves left on the branches!

I'm glad I'm finally going to take the step to learn this tradition and that I intentionally did something today to get closer to that goal.  And, as it turns out, the bark on a maple tree is fairly distinctive so I learned a new skill today already!  What is one skill you want to learn and what can you do today to get closer to making that happen?  I would love to hear your stories!      

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Have you read this book? Join me and we can read it together

If you are anything like me, you long to live a better, more healthy, natural life.  Skills that our great-grandmothers were taught early on are no longer passed from generation to generation.  Well, let's just turn that trend around!

Whether you already live in the country or plan to someday, join me in learning new skills and hopefully have some fun along the way.

 What if you live right in the middle of the city with dreams of being a farm girl?   I'm sure we can find ways to adapt these skills to that lifestyle too.  After all, John and Martha Storey started with three tomato plants and a copy of Organic Gardening and now have a large selection of books available to teach us all the skills we long to learn.

We can work through a couple of chapters a month and by this time next year we will have lots of new skills.  So, what are some skills that you have been wanting to learn?  Please comment!



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Estle Schipp Farm!

It has been eight years today since we left the city and moved to what my husband calls Shang-ri-la!  We have learned so much over those years and yet have so much more to learn.

We've learned that the happy sounds of happy hens is as soothing to the soul as any music you will hear.  We've learned that bees won't always build their comb on the frames you give them but will build anywhere else in the hive where there is extra space.  We've learned of the kindness of neighbors who come to plow snow from your drive because you don't have a tractor yet is one of the kindest things you can experience.  We've learned that no one delivers pizza this far out but that homemade pizza is even better LOL.

I'm dedicating this year on Estle Schipp Farm to learning even more.  My guide this year is the book Storey's Basic Country Skills:  A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance by John and Martha Storey.  I hope you will join me on this journey as I work through each chapter to make our hobby farm even better.


Star Schipp