Just Published: A Drink for All Seasons: Winter and the Holidays

A Drink for all Seasons – Now Available For Kindle and Kindle Apps

I’ve done it again! Published, that is.

Top Winter Drink Recipes and great Christmas Cocktails, too

My new book is titled, A Drink for All Seasons: Winter and the Holidays.

This is the first in a new books series of four featuring selected cocktails and adult beverages (including party-worthy punches and eggnogs) that fit the tastes and moods of the season. It’s available right now on Kindle, and also in paperback via Amazon or the CreateSpace eStore just in time for all your holiday entertaining!

Please don’t think that it will only last you through the rest of this month, though. This is not only a book of Christmas drink recipes; it’s truly a collection of adult winter drink recipes to see you through the whole long winter.

Get your copy of A Drink for All Seasons: Winter and the Holidays now while the price is still a very low 99 cents through book launch!

Make-Ahead Mix Day Now Available In Paperback!

Make-Ahead Mix DayIt’s been a busy day, but it’s live and available! You can now buy Make-Ahead Mix Day: Complete Recipes and Instructions for On-Hand Homemade Quick Mixeson Amazon.com in paperback, too!

The paperback version has all of the same great mason jar mix recipes and also includes an appendix of copy-ready labels (two per page for each recipe). Just in time for Christmas, and Christmas jar mix gifts!

Happy reading, Happy Baking, and Happy Baking!

Guesting at Ruralmom.com

Just a quick note to share recent relevant articles and activity with all my readers here…

I recently had the honor of being welcomed as a guest writer on RuralMom.com. This site has lots in common to share with us here, and most recently has posted some excellent holiday DSC_0353gifting recommendations. Be sure to check them out, and add them to your list of follows!

My particular piece is titled, Top Tips for Great-Looking Mason Jar Mix Gifts.

It will help you make the most of your creations from Make-Ahead Mix Day this holiday season, complete with recommendations for the best recipes from the book for gift-giving.

Enjoy the read, and enjoy your holiday season!

10 Ways to Gift One Simple, Inexpensive Mix

Mason jar mixes are ideal for holiday gift-giving, especially when you have a long list of people to whom you care to show your appreciation. Gift jar mixes have the advantage of being affordable, appreciated, useful and attractive, all at the same time. They can fit the bill for a long line of gift recipients from coworkers to coaches, teachers, instructors, service providers, extended family members, and many more.

To be sure, having a variety of jar mix recipes to choose from is nice, but considering how busy and expensive the holidays can very easily get, it’s nice to have something a bit more versatile that can be worked up and packaged in short time, yet still deliver a number of excellent gift-giving options.

It’s All In How You Look At It

10 Ways to Gift Mason Jar Baking MixTake, for example, the homemade all-purpose baking mix in Make-Ahead Mix Day. This recipe requires a minimal amount of ingredients (a couple cups of shortening, a standard five-pound bag of flour, a bit of salt, sugar, and baking powder), but it yields better than five quarts; and it only takes about five minutes to do it. Cheap and easy. Exactly what the budgeting gift-giver needs. The thing is, this mix can be used in numerous ways. So while you might not really want to give someone a dressed-up jar of “all purpose baking mix”, you’ll feel good about giving a nice homemade “Country Quick Mix” or “Sunday Morning Waffle Mix” with a nice label and instructions attached.

If you take my meaning here, it’s all in the presentation and the suggestion. You’re still giving a great-tasting mix that you’ve put your own time, money, and effort into, but you’re giving it with style in a way you can afford.

You can search this site or the ‘net for different ideas and potential presentations, or go with one of your own favorite tried-and-true classics. Any recipe that uses Bisquick(R) or another biscuit or baking mix will work just fine with this recipe, so simply print the recipe to include with your festively-decorated jar mix (a nice parchment or holiday paper is a nice touch). To get the creative juices rolling, here is a list of ten great ways (in no particular order) to repackage this one simple mix and have a variety of gifting options:

  1. Morning Pancake Mix (what busy Mom or Dad wouldn’t appreciate that?)..top it off with a half cup of chocolate chips or dehydrated fruit and now you have flavored pancakes, to boot.
  2. The aforementioned “Sunday Morning Waffle Mix” (to which the same doctoring methods above apply)
  3. Home Style Country Biscuit Mix
  4. Quick & Tasty Cinnamon Roll Kit (gifted in a basket with a small jar of powdered sugar and nicely-tied baggie or small jar of cinnamon sugar)
  5. Muffin Mix
  6. Quick Bread Mix (with or without additions)
  7. Scone Mix
  8. Cornbread Mix (just add in the 6 TBSP of corn meal – especially nice with a bean mix for soup or chile)
  9. Cupcake Mix
  10. Tea-Time Coffee Cake Mix (throw in a sealed baggie with topping ingredients on top of the mix in the jar)

So you see with a little imagination giving a quality homemade gift does not have to be overly costly or time-consuming. You can feel good about giving gifts to everyone on your list without stressing yourself or breaking the budget.

You can find both an easy all-purpose baking mix suitable for these and many other recipes and a variety of other equally good jar mix recipes for Christmas gifts (or just healthier, more affordable pantry-stocking!) in Make-Ahead Mix Day: Complete Recipes and Instructions for On-Hand Homemade Quick Mixes. It’s available for Kindle and compatible eReader apps as well as in a downloadable PDF.

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A Glimpse Inside the Make-Ahead Mix Day Companion PDF

Wondering what’s inside the Make-Ahead Mix Day Companion PDF that isn’t in the full-text PDF or Kindle version?

Labels, Labels, and More Labels!

Of course all the recipes are there ready to be printed, too, but the biggest advantage of the printable Companion PDF, and the sole reason it was designed and made available, is to deliver to you an easy-to-use set of labels for every homemade mix recipe in the book. When it comes time to actually use your mix and bake your goodies, you don’t want to have to go searching for the instructions.

Convenience is the first motivation behind the book, and convenience is what you have with your shelves stocked with wholesome, homemade baking mixes complete with labels and instructions. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll get!

Label Sample Image

These labels couldn’t be easier to use – just print them on your printer, trim the circle with any old pair of scissors (old school!?) and they will fit between the lid and the ring on two-piece canning jar lids. No need to glue them, and they if you save them when you use your mix you can use the same labels again and again.

Ready to buy the PDF? You’ll find all the Make-Ahead Mix Day purchasing options here:

Buy Make Ahead Mix Day and PDF’s

 

Make-Ahead Mix Day Full Text and Companion PDFs On Site at a Bargain

We have a PDF!

Make-Ahead Mix DayThe Companion PDF is ready and waiting for you! And because there was such a large amount of interest in a non-Kindle eBook version, I’ve also made a PDF version of the full book available. Everything is accessible via the Make-Ahead Mix Day page here on this site. All the details are on the page and everything is 99 cents during launch (prices will be climbing at some unknown point, so now’s your bargain!).

Please know that any and all feedback is appreciated, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on any version of the book, either in the comments below or via the contact page.

Thanks again and Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Mix Day Now Live on Amazon

Yes the blog’s been quiet – apologies! But with good reason…I’ve been working on getting all my homemade baking mixes, those that I keep stocked up on-hand for week-night baking and morning meals (and more), into a book! It is available now on Kindle, and in the future will be available on other platforms as well, but for now we’re here and that’s a start!

Make-Ahead Mix Day

This book is designed for ease-of-use and affordability. In it are 21 recipes for things like homemade cookie mixes (sugar, gingerbread, chocolate chip, peanut butter…), homemade brownie mix, instant oatmeal mix, muffin mixes, and homemade all purpose baking mix. Basically these are all the recipes I work up in an afternoon to stock up my pantry with preservative-free baking mixes for a month or more. Mason jars are my storage container of choice (they are the best!) and so the recipes are listed specifically for one- and two-quart mixes that come together quickly, store well, and taste great.

And A Bonus For You, Too!

Now here’s the deal – there is a printable companion PDF that is in the works and will be available for sale via my this site in the upcoming days. It is intended as an accompaniment to this book and a way to give you printable copies of the recipes and sets of labels to use when you prepare your jars that include the preparation (baking) instructions (very simple, no muss, no fuss).

 

BUT like I said, the PDF isn’t ready quite yet. So for your patience, if you download the full book before it is ready and follow the links at the end, you will be given a link that allows you to sign up for a FREE bonus copy of the PDF when it becomes available. Anyone on my subscription list before the PDF goes live will be emailed a copy of the PDF for free before I activate the sale module. After that time, it will be available for full price. So better to get while the getting’s good 😉

 

Homemade Bisquick Recipes: Classic Biscuits

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Classic Biscuit RecipeEarlier this week I gave you a Classic Pancake Recipe to use with your homemade baking mix. Today, to continue our list of reliable stand-by recipes, I give you another necessary, a homemade Bisquick (R) biscuit recipe. You’ll come back to this recipe again and again as a side for soups and stews, a base for biscuits and gravy, a topping for pot pies, a base for shortcakes, or just to enjoy with some butter, jam, honey, maple syrup….

 

…Obviously the possibilities and uses for classic biscuits are endless, but it all starts with a good, solid recipe!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Bisquick Recipes: Classic Biscuits
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 Large
 
A good old-fashioned, classic biscuit for use with homemade All Purpose Baking Mix (homemade Bisquick).
Ingredients
  • 5 Cups Homemade All Purpose Baking Mix
  • 1½ Cups Milk (or buttermilk)
Instructions
  1. Simply mix the 2 ingredients together to form a soft dough without over-stirring (just until mixed through).
  2. Turn onto floured surface and knead about 8 times.
  3. Pat or roll to ¾ inch thickness.
  4. Cut and place on ungreased cookies sheet.
  5. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

 

What other Bisquick recipes or recipes for use with your all-purpose baking mix would you like to see? Contact me or leave a comment below and I’ll see what else is lying in my box!

Homemade Bisquick Recipes: Classic Pancakes

This year we’ve added maple sugaring to our homesteading list, and so the past weeks First Batch Homemade Maple Syruphave been peaks and valleys of activity boiling down sap. The result is a nicely flavored rustic maple syrup. So far we’ve managed more than 4 gallons of homemade pure maple syrup; which of course has us thinking pancakes pretty steadily around here!

That brings me to today’s post–a basic homemade Bisquick(R) recipe for pancakes to begin building our recipe book to go along with our all purpose baking mix. After all, what good is a mix without something to make from it?

Homemade Bisquick Pancake Recipe

Bisquick Pancake RecipeThis pancake recipe is a simple yet very tasty staple that works up quickly but deliciously, and will help you send your family off ready for the day.

With the ease and affordability of your ready-made all purpose baking mix and this quick recipe, you’ll find it easy to send your crew off well-fed each and every day.

Homemade Bisquick Recipes: Classic Pancakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A quick and easy, tasty and fluffy pancake recipe to use with your homemade Bisquick or all purpose baking mix.
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Homemade Baking Mix
  • 1 Cup Milk (or Buttermilk if preferred)
  • 2 Eggs
  • *Can add any favored additions such as berries, nuts, or chocolate chips.
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and whisk or stir until moistened and mixed through, but not over-worked.
  2. Pour onto hot griddle or pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook first side until small bubbles appear and pop, then flip.
  4. Cook second side until golden brown.
  5. Serve warm with maple syrup or favorite toppings.

One more old-reliable recipe to fill out your box!

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Making Homesteading Work: Budgeting and Maximizing Food Usage

Making homesteading work in these modern times can be a challenge. Even keeping up with just the minimum of home and property bills requires a sizable income, at least until you own your property outright. For many households (perhaps most) that translates into dual income necessity, or at least a supplemental secondary part-time income. This can make homesteading and being self-sufficient a challenge; a challenge that many give up Happy Homesteadon, and understandably so. Life today is harried, busy, stressful, and expensive.

So does that mean that reaching your homesteading and self sufficiency goals is beyond you? Certainly not. But it does require some thought and planning. It requires give-and-take (but all good things do, don’t they?) and it requires finding ways to cut money from a typical modern household budget to accommodate for either the cost of homesteading and animal care or the cost of “lost” income.

Doing the Income Dance

To give you an example, in our household my husband runs his own logging business and I help out on the book-keeping end of that. I also work from home part time as a freelance writer. Largely, though, we rely upon my husband’s income so as to free up my time for home and homesteading. My work and income is kind of peaks and valleys, intentionally so, and therefore is not as reliable. I’ve limited client commitments and am working more towards independent publishing and blogging, which gives me the ability to work more during “off peak” garden and homesteading seasons and reduce or even eliminate my workload during those times of year when the gardens, food preparation, and preserving requires more of my time and attention.

In essence what we are doing to make homesteading work here is in part “sacrificing” some of the more modern lifestyle and stuff (but not all by any means) and working to strike a balance in the budget that works. The more we produce here the lower our food bills outside of the homestead, but we are not able to completely wipe them out. In addition, proper animal care does require us to maintain a feed budget. We moderate that the best we can (more on that another day) but it still remains a line item in the bottom line.

Considering the Costs

One of the things we do do to find and maintain this lifestyle-budget balance is to consider the costs of a typical grocery budget and then match that against what I am able to produce or provide by trading “working” (as in, paid work) time for home provision and production time. It turns out that I can actually break even or perhaps even do better by not working outside the home. Using USFDA figures, a modest estimate of what a family of four can expect to pay for a moderate food expense is over $1,000 per month for a couple and two children in the 6 to 11 age range. Now consider that I have 2 children older than this (our range is more like 8-14) and that we are a family of six, not four. Using the formula provided by the FDA and calculating out the cost to feed a family of our size, gender, and age make-up, the average moderate food expense for us is estimated at a whopping $1511.36 per month!

So for us it’s easy to place a monetary value on my not working just by looking at what our grocery cost would be if I were not able to be here and not able to produce the volume of food that I/we do. Even considering feed costs and animal upkeep, we’re not spending anywhere near $1500 per month. And then to that we could start adding in all the other factors…for example, the quality of the food, the health and well-being benefits of not pickling ourselves in preservatives all the time, the body benefits of the activity of animal care, not having the expense of vehicle upkeep, gas, etc. that comes from commuting, not incurring daycare costs for after-hours or vacation and sick days, and on and on. So…

Where am I going With This?

Yes, that's a lot of tomatoes. But you can make them pay in more ways than you'd think!

Yes, that’s a lot of tomatoes. But you can make them pay in more ways than you’d think!

Well honestly when I started out this morning I intended to map out all the ways that I utilize the milk supply from our backyard Jersey cow to justify her expense and see how we make her pay us back. Clearly I’ve veered from that a little, so we’ll get into that topic in an upcoming post.

I guess for today, then, we’ll just take this post as a primer for that conversation and others, the basic theme of which is finding the ways to make a homesteading and self-sufficient lifestyle pay and the ways to incorporate that with living in today’s modern society, all things considered. If there is one thing to take away for today, it’s that there really is a real, not imagined, monetary trade-off to homesteading and if properly planned and managed you can actually make the rewarding lifestyle you have chosen, or are thinking about choosing, pay.

For me personally, given my role here in our household, that falls to utilizing the food we produce as best I can to cover as many budget-bases with it as best I can. So, as mentioned, as we progress I’ll start listing and laying out the varied ways I’ve found to maximize that food use. By no means will my lists be the be-all and end-all, but they will be (good, I hope) examples of what you can get out of a basic homestead and how doing that makes the whole thing feasible.