Monday, November 28, 2016

Get Ready for Winter || Home and Holiday Organization Sales

Hey, Bootcampers! I hope y'all had a simply wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family. For us, it was a lovely time at home together, recounting the way God has showered his blessings upon us this year. One of those blessings was a wonderful garden - stay tuned in the next few days for some of the recipes I whipped up for our Thanksgiving feast - using produce from our own homestead!

In the meantime, you might be feeling slightly - or incredibly - overwhelmed by your to-do list as December approaches. It is a joyful time of year, no doubt about that. But if you're not organized, it can be exhausting, too. Do you feel like your wheels are spinning but you're not getting anywhere? Let me share three great products with you -- two of which are deeply discounted due to Cyber Monday!

Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers - Lulu Version

First off, my own book, Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers, is on sale over at Lulu - in both paperback and coil-bound. If use the promo code CYBER40 at checkout, Lulu will discount an additional 40%, giving you the book for half off! That's the best sale of the year!

Plan to Eat - Annual Black Friday Sale

Next -- and this one is EXCITING, y'all! -- Plan to Eat is having their annual Black Friday Sale for 50% off an annual subscription to their amaaaaaaazing meal planning site. Friends, I'm not the kind of blogger who gets a lot of free products to review and make money off of. If I'm telling you about a product, it is because I use it and love it. And I LOVE Plan to Eat. I've been a regular Plan to Eat user since 2010, and when I say regular, I mean DAILY. You just wouldn't believe how much the website and service improves every year. It's really fantastic. I blogged about it back in 2011, and though the site looks a little different, the service is still amazing. If you struggle with making a meal plan, or sticking to a meal plan, or creating and sticking to a grocery budget, or coming up with healthy things to feed your family, or just. not. having. enough. time. or maybe, like me, it was all of the above -- Plan to Eat is an amazing solution.

Please, go check it out! This amazing one-sale-a-year brings your cost to only $19.50 for a YEAR -- that's $1.63 a MONTH -- 5¢ a day -- less than 2¢ a MEAL -- for easy access to all your favorite recipe sites with simple importing, meal planning, even automatic calendar alerts to remind you when to thaw your meat or bake your bread! Click on over and take the tour. I think you'll love it as much as I do!
After you sign up, I'd love to share my recipes with you or help you use it to your best advantage. My user name is Bootcamp Heidi - just friend me!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

The 12-Week Holiday Planner

The last terrific resource I want to share with you is Sheri Graham's The 12-Week Holiday Planner for the Christian Family. It is exactly what it sounds like - a planner that takes you from October through the New Year, helping you get and stay organized in all your holiday preparations, aiding you in your desire to celebrate deliberately and weave peace and joy through your festivities. It's a digital book with unlimited printing so you can print out all the pages you need year after year. I've been using this planner to help me organize my cooking, baking, gifting, and calendar for eight years now, and I'm sure I'd be lost without it.

Included in each printable book:

  • Blank monthly and weekly calendar pages for planning your year
  • Weekly “To Do” lists showing exactly what needs to be done each week
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas Menus forms
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Recipe Card forms
  • A Holiday Self-Evaluation form
  • Shopping Lists
  • “Sheri’s Tips”- tips to make your holidays meaningful, shared throughout the ebook
  • Christmas Craft and Gift Ideas
  • Memory Making Ideas for the Family
  • Holiday Journal Pages
  • Many, many forms such as:
    Christmas Gift Shopping List
    Gift Making Checklist
    Christmas Card Checklist
    Holiday Wardrobe Planner
    List of Baked Items to Share/Give Away
    Favorite Meals to Freeze for Later
    Decoration Ideas
    Needed Supplies to Purchase This Week
    Holiday Baking Schedule
    Kids’ Gift Idea List
    Christmas Gifts to be Shipped
  • PLUS!!! Two bonus weeks with family tradition ideas, menus, and more!
  • PLUS!!! Some of Sheri's favorite holiday recipes!
  • PLUS!!! Holiday Coloring Pages!
  • PLUS!!!  Brand new zipped folder with all the forms from the planner in editable PDF format

So, what are you using to organize yourself this busy holiday season? As always, I LOVE comments! Let me know how you're staying on top of things!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Do I Do With All These Green Tomatoes? || Garden Day

The calendar says it's just a week until Thanksgiving, and yet here I am, tromping barefoot around the homestead. We've had an extraordinarily long, warm fall here in the Miami River Valley of Ohio, and though I've been pining a bit for cooler temps - I mean, November should feel like November, y'all! - it's been really helpful in a lot of ways.

The goats are still in the woods eating plenty of green stuff, which helps lower the hay bill quite a bit. We've been able to put off using the wood stove much, too, which means fewer through-the-snow trips to replenish the woodpile on the back porch this winter.

And this warmer weather means the garden has really never stopped producing. There is still a beautiful mess of heirloom lettuce and rainbow swiss chard out there, and until a few days ago, there were still 75 or so tomato plants growing their little tomato hearts out.

Looking at the 10-day weather forecast, I decided to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and finally take them all down before they just froze to death (and me right along with them, ripping up garden fencing in the coming 30˚'s!)

We tipped the scale at just over 2,500 lbs. of tomatoes this year -- our best year of tomatoes ever -- and I really wouldn't have felt bad about just tossing vines -- with their green tomatoes still attached -- to the chickens. In fact, that's exactly what I would have done just before the first freeze in years past. But last year, someone tipped me off to a little green tomato trick that I want to share with y'all.

First, just go ahead and pick your green tomatoes. Those that are salvageable have a sheen to them - the ones that don't are dull green. It takes a bit of practice to discern between the two, but if you save a dull green one, nothing will happen except that it will never ripen. No worries.

Now you must find a place to store them! We clear off a few shelves in the basement pantry and line them stem side down (so they don't roll away). You might want to put down newspaper or shallow cardboard boxes if you're worried about one rotting. When deciding where to store them, here are a few considerations: It should be a relatively dark, cool place, but not freezing (so not the garage or attic), and it should be in a location that you will visit often so that you won't forget to check on them. (Or, if you are very forgetful, you could set a reminder in your calendar!)

Now, just wait. Literally, that's all there is to it. In the photo below, every tomato was green when placed on that shelf 3 days before, and you can see how quickly some had already started to ripen. Last winter, most of our tomatoes ripened by the end of January, but a few held out until February.

Every three days or so, check your stock. Just make sure there are no rotten ones (you'll smell that!) and if you find any that are starting to pink up, bring them to your kitchen.

I sit them on my kitchen window sill to ripen a bit more in the afternoon sun. We either eat them like fresh-picked, (BLT's with Ohio-grown tomatoes in February!) or if I have a glut of ripe ones, I will halve them and toss them in a freezer bag (skins and all) for a stew later on.

We picked over 200 green tomatoes this week, so knowing that we can continue to use them is a real blessing. I hope it blesses you, too!

What do you do with your green tomatoes?