Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

No-Bake Granola Bars April 9, 2014

Filed under: cooking,pantry building,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 2:58 am
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I have been searching Pinterest again.  I am hooked on that site.  The latest search has been for a no-bake granola bar recipe.

Pookie just LOVES granola bars.  Most recently, he ate an entire box of the Cliff bars in one sitting.  It is nearly impossible to keep him in good supply of them.  With that in mind, I started looking for recipes to keep him – and the rest of us – well stocked.  I especially wanted to have a no-bake version that will allow me to make them throughout the summer without heating up the kitchen.

I found that in all the recipes, there was a basic theme for ingredients.  The liquid ingredients were nearly always the same and in the same amounts.  To these were added the dry ingredients.  Again, the type of ingredients were very similar in type and amount.  The only true variation was in the type of cereal or trail mix added to the recipe.  With that in mind, here is the basic recipe that I am making.


granola bars


No-Bake Granola Bar

In a saucepan, melt together:

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

4 Tbs butter

Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teas. Vanilla


To the liquid ingredients, stir in:

2 cups of quick oats

1 cup crispy rice cereal (can be substituted with trail mix, graham cereal, or other favorite cereal)

Press the mixture into an 8×8 inch pan that has been lined with parchment paper sprayed with vegetable spray.

Top the mixture with:

1/2 cup chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, or a mixture of any of these.

Chill for about 1-2 hours before cutting into 12 bars.


Now that you have the basics, here are a few variations that may be fun to try.

Graham cereal topped with a mixture of mini marshmallows & chocolate chips for a S’mores bar

Chocolate flavored crispy rice cereal with cherry flavored chips for a Chocolate-covered cherry flavored bar

Chocolate flavored crispy rice cereal with peanut butter chips for a peanut butter cup bar

Basic granola bar recipe with a mixture of finely diced dried fruits mixed in for a trail mix bar

Basic recipe with a mixture of granola cereal with coconut, finely diced dried pineapple & papaya for a tropical bar




Newest Homestead Addition April 7, 2014

Filed under: family,homesteading,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:15 am
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Well, in recent weeks, a new addition has been added to the homestead.  A stray dog showed up at the homestead.  Not just any dog, but a huge one!  When we first saw him, he had been walking along the state route about a mile from our home.  He was wearing a collar and dragging a heavy chain.  Evidently, he had broken loose and had wandered off from his home.  Off and on over the next couple of weeks, we would get glimpses of him.  At some point, the collar and chain had been removed.  Then, a couple weeks ago we found him in our yard.  Oh joy.  A huge stray dog.  The kids were thrilled since their dog died just before Christmas.  I wasn’t sure if we should try to keep him at first until I realized just how friendly he was.


I called the sheriff department to find out what we needed to do before taking the dog in as our own.  In our area, there is a huge problem with people either dumping off dogs they can no longer afford or want.  They also told me that it is becoming more common that families who have to move and cannot take their dog, will simply abandon the dog.  The lady at the sheriff’s office said that if no one had claimed or tried to catch the dog in the past weeks, it was likely an abandoned dog that broke its chain.  If we wanted to keep the dog, simply consider it ours and let that be that.  If an owner shows up, just present them with any vet bills for reimbursement.

Well, it has been 2 weeks now that we have had the dog.  He is so lovable.  Pookie is already bonding with him.  I named him Zeus.  He just has that regal and powerful look about him.  I was thrilled to learn that he is a Newfoundland.  We are estimating his age to be about 2-3 years old.  When he first showed up, he chased cars terribly on our dirt road.  Now, he is calming down.  He stays outdoors most of the time.  At night, he keeps the coyotes away.  He sleeps near our front door on the porch and hangs out with the kids whenever they are playing outside.

I tried to get him indoors but he won’t come in.  I did manage to half carry him into the house one day but he was happier outdoors.  Training him is proving to be easy.  He had no training prior to coming here.  He didn’t even know the most basic of commands, such as sit.  The training is going well however.  Newfoundlands are very easy to train as they are quite smart.  They are a true gentle giant.  Very tolerant of children.  Later this spring, I will take him to be groomed.  Living where we do, he will get too hot in the summer with all that black fur.  So, it is recommended that we get his fur trimmed by early summer.  When cold weather comes back around, his fur will have grown back in time to keep him warm next winter.

Zeus is already becoming a much loved family member.  We are fencing in a large yard area, about a 1/8 acre in size for a play yard for the kids.  The fenced area includes a portion of the side porch.  On that porch, we have Zeus’ food and water dishes as well as setting up a sleeping area for him.  Once completed, Zeus will be living in that fenced area to prevent him from chasing cars or wandering off.  The porch area will give him plenty of protection from the weather as well.  When we are out at the garden or working around the property, he will be running loose to hang out with us.

Each day when the kids go outdoors to play, Pookie looks for Zeus.  Being as he is a new-to-us dog, I wondered how he would respond to Pookie’s stimming.  Zeus ignores it.  Instead, he follows Pookie around or lays down near when Pookie is sitting.  I wonder how difficult it would be to train Zeus to be a service dog for Pookie.  He has the right temperament for it.  Whether we do that or not, Zeus will be a great companion for the kids here at the homestead.



Off-Grid Gas Stoves Option March 24, 2014

Filed under: cooking,homesteading,off grid — ourprairiehome @ 9:05 pm
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This month, we had a rude awakening. We were buying a new gas stove to replace the one we currently use that doesn’t have a working oven. In years past, having a gas oven was always the popular option. During storm seasons, a gas stove insured that you had a method to cook when the electricity went out. It would seem that is no longer the case.

We went to the store to buy the gas stove and learned that all of the gas stoves sold in our area now require some electricity to ignite the burners and to run the oven. It is a part of the safety features that the government has placed on the stoves. The system saves of gas usage since there are not any pilot lights to keep lit. This was extremely frustrating to find out.

After we got home, my husband and I began to do some research. The Amish had to have some way to cook without using a wood burning stove in the hot summer months. They don’t use electricity, so what was available to them?

After checking online, we learned that there is an option available. By special order, at many stores, you can buy new gas stoves that have 9 volt batteries to run the electrical system instead of electricity hook-up. We did a search for gass stoves with 9 volt batteries and found many stores, including Best Buy, Kmart, and Lehman’s. The brand which Lehman’s carries is Brown Stove Company. The price for the stoves we looked begin in the $450 range and up.

We plan to order a stove soon. With so many stores offering the option of having special orders and online orders delivered to a local store, it cuts out the shipping costs. It is a good option to consider. Especially if you live in an area that has a lot of storms that bring power outages.


Homemade “Burt’s Bees” Lip Balm March 20, 2014

Filed under: home remedy,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:10 pm
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Today, I found a really good picture tutorial for making your own lip balm similar to the Burt’s Bees type.  The instructions are very easy to follow and surprisingly fast to make.  In a short time one afternoon, you can make up a yea’s supply of the lip balm for your family.  The instructions are on the Broke and Healthy blog.  I found some inexpensive lip balm tubes at Bramble Berry.  I also love their lip butter dishes as well.  Either way, the recipe will make a great addition to my notebook of home remedies and toiletries recipes.


Overstepping Boundaries in Social Media March 16, 2014

Filed under: faith,ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 9:41 pm

It would seem that there are no longer boundaries in social media. With the ease of communication through blogs, Facebook and other websites, people get the sense of feeling that they know you. Let’s face it. According to Facebook, they are your friend. That gives the false idea that people know each other far better than what is truth. This brings about a common problem. People whom you have never met feel that they have certain rights. Most particularly, the right to tell you how they think you should be living your life.

I am gobsmacked at the messages that I receive from time to time. People whom I have never met in person try to tell me their opinions of how I should do things differently. How ridiculous is that? A person who is a stranger for all intents and purposes telling you what you should be doing? Does this person know my heart? Do they know what our family life is like on a daily basis outside of what is posted on Facebook? What makes these people think that they know what is best for my family?

Recently, a Facebook “friend” went through old pictures on Facebook and then attempted to chastise and call to repentance for photos that they felt were inappropriate. In particular, a picture in which I wore something they personally found too low cut in the neckline. How I dress is no one’s business. The only person who has a say in how I dress, besides myself, is my husband. If he likes what I wear, that is all that matters.

Another chastised me for being snarky. So what? What I post is my own opinions and thoughts. If you don’t like it, ignore it or get off my friend’s list. As long as I am not breaking any of the rules that Facebook has in place, I can post what I choose.

Both of the above situations are ones in which the ones chastising were Christians who are more conservative than Joe and I are. Yes, the Bible does state that Christians should be witness to each other when they see a Christian doing something that is against the faith. The problem however is that neither of these people personally know us. We are not members of their church, nor do we follow the degree of conservative observance that they do. In this situation, neither has the right to chastise. If we were members of their church congregation and they saw something we did as being against their beliefs, then they would have more right to say something. Even in that situation however, it should be done privately and not through social media. You also do not become hateful in your words and accuse the person you are chastising of being unGodly and a false Christian simply because they say/do something you personally do not agree with.

Let me give you a glimpse into my life. Prior to meeting Joe, I had been burnt badly by so-called Christians who were absolutely hateful. They were hateful in action and words and did it in the name of their faith. They showed me a bad example of Christianity and I turned away from it. I was sick to death of their condescending, self-righteous, holier than thou, attitudes. I started following a more pagan belief. It made far more sense to me than what I had been shown by others. When I met Joe, I still wore a pentagram. Amazingly, it was the example that he set that got me to rethink my opinions of Christianity. Though I was baptized 7 years ago, I still feel the disgust at the self-righteous attitudes when I hear it. While the person may be thinking that they are doing the right thing, they are in fact making it harder for me to continue having good thoughts about being a part of the Christian faith. In honesty, I don’t like being part of a group that treats others with such hate and disdain. It is only because of my own husband’s example and those of the true friends that I have who are Christians that I don’t walk away sometimes. My personal faith and relationship with the Lord will always be there. It is something that is a part of me. I cannot separate myself from my faith. What I am opposed to however is being lumped in with a group that acts so hateful in the name of God, simply because I am a Christian. I am blessed in that I do have good Christians around me who are a constant living testimony to me of what Christianity is truly about. They give me the examples that I need as well as the gentle and loving guidance when necessary. They know me personally and therefore are able to do it in a way that is effective. That is the big difference. A stranger on social media doesn’t have that knowledge. Most often, what they may intend to be good comes off wrong and is more damaging than helpful.

One thing that I try to keep in mind is that everyone is at a different place in their faith. There are many different denominations of Christianity as well as levels of conservatism within those denominations. No two congregations are exactly alike. Each denomination has it’s own teaching. Within each congregation, members often have varying degrees of belief in how their faith should be practiced in their lives. In example, some Christian denominations teach that women should only wear dresses of a specific length or style such as the cape dresses worn by the Mennonites. Other denominations have no problem with women wearing pants. I have been to congregations where women wear jeans & t-shirts to church right along side of women who dress in their “Sunday best” dresses. The Lord meets us where we are. I don’t think the way we dress really matters where our salvation is concerned. I believe that the way we dress is more of an issue towards other people. If a woman were to dress provocative in church, how easily can others pay attention to the teachings? But, what if that is the best that the woman has? Should she be banned from attending simply because she doesn’t meet a dress code?

Most criticism that I get is always based upon legalism issues. Legalism is the rules and dictates that are set up by man, not the Lord. One good example of legalism happened in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Lord gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Evidently, the Israelite’s tribe of Levi who were the high priests of the Israelites thought those were not enough. The priests came up with over 700 more laws for the Israelites to follow. If the Lord wanted Israel to have all of those laws, He would have given Moses more than the 10 Commandments. Today, is not much different. Each denomination has it’s own set of rules and practices. I mention this simply to demonstrate one thing. When a Christian on social media chastises or tries to bring to repentance someone they only know on social media, they are doing it based upon their own beliefs. They do not take into account that the person they are chastising may not be following those same rules and practices. Thus, their criticism is not effective in a positive way. It comes off as something far different, such as the self-righteous attitude.

We need to be very careful in this area of our lives. If you see someone living differently than you would expect, then you have options. Two of those being that you either accept that they are following their own faith or you stop reading their social media posts. Likewise, if you don’t like what someone posts on your wall or time line on Facebook, you can ignore them or unfriend them. Sometimes, the most loving thing that you can do towards others is to simply keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself.

God Bless.



Daddy is Coming Home! March 7, 2014

Filed under: family — ourprairiehome @ 4:06 pm

Today is a special day for our family. Daddy is leaving his trucking job and will be working locally.  My beloved husband has been a truck driver for 12 years.  With the exception of a 2.5 year period overall, he has been driving trucks and spending most of his time away from home in our entire marriage.  We met through a trucking company and eventually had become team drivers.  We drove together up until I was approaching my 6th month of pregnancy with our daughter.  He left the company with me so that he could drive for a more local company until after our daughter was born.  The longest time away from trucking was when I had to be put on complete bedrest during my pregnancy with our son.  He left trucking to be home with me and worked locally until our son was about 29 months old.  Since then, he has been back on the truck.

One of the main reasons for returning to trucking was the pay.  Living in a rural setting, there are not very many opportunities to work at a career that allows for a single income to support a family.  So, after trying everything possible at that time, he had to go back on a truck.  This time, he has found work through a temp service that will support us until he is able to find a local trucking job.

Today, I am going to the terminal so that hubby can unload the truck and we can bring him home.  While in Dallas, we are visiting friends and simply taking a little break.  I cannot wait to see him home every night again!  We have been praying for the opportunity to arrive for a very long time now.


Extreme Couponing? pt. 2 February 26, 2014

Filed under: cooking,pantry building — ourprairiehome @ 3:39 pm

In my last post, I mentioned that I had bought 2 months’ worth of groceries for $124.  Most of the items that I only have to add a little from my current pantry stores to in order to make a meal.  Most everything purchased was on sale.  Many of the items such as the boxed meals are not or typical meal choice, but are items I consider “filler” for days when a fast meal option is needed.  Soon, I will be making a shopping trip to do bulk food shopping at Sam’s Club and Whole Foods.  Those foods will be more in line with our typical cooking style.

(4) Old Orchard brand juice bottles, priced 2/$3

(4) Barilla Spaghetti, priced 4/$5

(4) Bush Chili Beans, lg cans priced 2/$3

(12) taco Bell refried beans, priced $1.00 each but was given $6 off at register

(12) boxes of Velvetta Skillet Meals, priced 3/$5

(4) boxes of herbal tea, priced $2.38 each

(4)  1 lb bags of elbow macaroni, priced 98 cents each

(5) 1 lb bags of lentils, priced 98 cents each

(5) 1 lb bags of split peas, priced  98 cents each

(1) large bag of the store brand of shredded cheddar cheese, priced $4.99

(2) loaves of sara lee country potato bread, priced $1.69 each

(4) lg. pouches of salmon, priced 2/$4

(2) lg. cans of StarKist Tuna, priced 2/$5

I was doing so well, that I splurged and bought a few snacks that were on sale:

(2) Chips Ahoy cookies, priced 2/$5

(2) Oreo cookies family packs, priced 2/$7

(1) 30 oz. Animal crackers, priced $3.99

And, not to be left out, I bought kibbles for our cat:

(2) sm. Bags of Purina cat food, priced 2/$8


Okay, so how if this 2 months’ worth of food?  Easy!

4 meals of spaghetti using homemade sauce from the supplies I have in our pantry already.

4 meals of Indian tacos, using the chili beans

6 meals of burritos (2 cans of refried beans each) with homemade tortillas

12 meals using the Velvetta skillet meals, adding a handful of pasta from the pantry if needed

4 meals of mac & cheese or tuna casserole using the macaroni

10 meals of lentil stew

10 meals of split pea soup

4 meals with salmon cakes

By adding vegetables from our pantry, to any of the above meals, I now have enough to make 54 meals!   This does not take into account the large bag of shredded cheese that I will use for making cheesy rice with tuna or veggies, stuffed baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and much more.  I didn’t buy any breakfast food since we already have several large boxes of both hot and cold cereals, oatmeal, and I make a homemade pancake mix.  Lunches are usually sandwiches unless we happen to have leftovers from the previous day’s evening meal.  With all the meal options that I have, and adding a bit from the supplies already on hand, the purchases made in that one shopping trip will give me meals for a couple of months.

Note, meals like the lentil stew and split pea soup are very economical when you add a sandwich to a cup of soup instead of making the soup the only item in the meal.  I love to stretch out the lentils by making Kashari and serving it over homemade pasta or some rice.





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