Mini Homestead…In A Trailer Park

Learning to Live for the Future

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Homemade Food Gifts: Homemade Baked Goods

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on December 3, 2010

Fall Quick Bread

Image by whitneyinchicago via Flickr

(I am almost done posting the Homemade Food Gifts series here and on the Frugal Recipes blog. I hope that you are all enjoying it, and coming up with ideas for your holiday gift giving.)

The most frugal way to make these food items is from scratch. Admittedly, I often use boxed items when I am able to purchase them on sale, with a coupon. They can be pretty affordable just before and during the holidays. The trick to doing this in the most frugal manner possible is by figuring out whether it is cheaper to bake from scratch or a box when all factors are added in, or deducted. :) Be sure to factor in home preserved produce for the food items that have fruit as an ingredient.

Fill baskets with one or more of the following:

  • HM (Homemade) quick breads
  • Quick breads from a box: Lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, pumpkin and cinnamon swirl are all tasty options.
  • Brownies
  • HM pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars.
  • HM sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars or icings.
  • HM apple or zucchini bars with chocolate chips.
  • HM mints


  • To save money on electricity, I bake multiple items at once.
  • To save time, I mix up multiple batches at once in large bowls.
  • To save a few more pennies, when mixing up multiple batches I delete and egg or two.
  • To save more money, I use small or medium eggs – or large depending on what is on sale. You can use any size eggs in baking, even if large eggs are specifically called for. 1 small or medium egg = 1 large egg.
  • Use mini loaf pans, if possible.
  • Use mini decorative cake pans for breads, bars and cakes.

What homemade baked goods do you make to give as holiday gifts? Please share with us in the comments below.



Posted in Food Gifts, Winter Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Butters

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on December 2, 2010

Clarified butter at room temperature

Image via Wikipedia

(This was first posted to the Frugal Recipes blog this morning. I am sharing all of the gift making ideas from that blog with all of you. I hope you enjoy the posts.)

Purchase sweet butter in large packages, preferably on sale. Generic and store brand butter is fine. Use a coupon if you have one.

Herbed butters are simple to make, and can be made up to three months before the date they will be given as gifts. Simply freeze them in 1/2 or 1 pint canning jars, or other thick jars that have been saved and cleaned for this purpose. Be sure to sterilize the jars before using them for the butter.

Two days before you wish to give the gifts, take the butters out of the freezer and place them into the refrigerator. The next day, you will want to tie a square or round of fabric over the jars’ lid with raffia or twine. Add a tag or a sticker with the name of each butter and its’ ingredients, as well as a line that reads ‘From the Kitchen of (Your Name).’

RATIO: 1/2 cup butter to 1 Tablespoon of herb or herb combination.

USE: Herbs fresh from the garden. Wash and mince them before use.


  • Dill and mint
  • Garlic and marjoram

Experiment with different herbs and combinations of herbs.

NOTE: These jars of butter do not need processing.

What combinations of herbs do you use when making butter? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.



Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

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Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Oils

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on December 1, 2010

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

(Here is another gift idea, originally posted to the Frugal Recipes blog this morning. I hope you all enjoy it.)

Herbed oils can be made easily and used in small ratios (1/2 to 2 tablespoons) on salads and in stir fries. Experimentation is allowed, in order to find other ways in which these oils can be used.

Make these when the herbs are harvested from the garden, so they are at their freshest. The oils will store for up to one year after making them.

The basic preparations work like this:

1. Place three 2-inch sprigs of herbs/leaves into each, per each cup of oil that the jar will hold.

2. Put one garlic, shallot or other ingredient into the necessary jars as well, per cup of oil that each jar will hold.

3. Heat oil over low-medium heat until warm with a good scent; about three to five minutes (longer if lots of oil). Do not boil.

4. Pour oil into jars, over the other items.

5. Let cool.

6. Cover each jar.

7. Tie a tag around each bottle, with raffia or twine, with its’ ingredient list and ‘From (Your Names’) Kitchen.’ Also note how long the oil will last (once given as gift). Mention how each oil may be used.


* Olive oil: Garlic, oregano and thyme.

* Sunflower oil: Garlic and dill.


* Purchase oils in bulk and/or on sale to save money. You can also use coupons to save money.

* Find other oil and herb combinations.


Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

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Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Vinegars

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 30, 2010

Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or her...

Image via Wikipedia

(I have this series (Homemade Food Gifts) posting to the Frugal Recipes blog this week. I want to share them here on this blog as well. I feel that homesteaders may enjoy them.)

Herbed vinegars are not difficult to make, and they add flavor to salads, other recipes such as meat marinades. These are best made during the herb harvesting seasons during the summer and autumn months, when the herbs can be used fresh.

NOTE: These vinegars will last up to a year if stored in a cool, dark place.

You will need jars or bottles to pour the vinegars and other ingredients into. These can be washed and saved throughout the year, and should be sterilized just before using.

The basic preparations work like this:

  1. Place three 2-inch sprigs of herbs/leaves into each, per each cup of vinegar that the jar will hold.
  2. Put one garlic, shallot or other ingredient into the necessary jars as well, per cup of vinegar that each jar will hold.
  3. Heat vinegar; do not boil.
  4. Pour vinegar into jars, over the other items.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Cover each jar.
  7. Tie a tag around each bottle, with raffia or twine, with its’ ingredient list and ‘From (Your Names’) Kitchen.’ Also note how long the vinegar will last (once given as gift). Mention how each vinegar may be used.


  • Rosemary, orange peel, garlic and white vinegar.
  • 1 tablespoon honey, mint, cardamom seed and white vinegar.
  • Blossom from chives, savory and cider vinegar.


  • Keep marinade and other sauce type jars from purchased foods to save money. Or have friends and family save them for you.
  • Other cheaply purchased glass jars will work as well, including canning jars.
  • Purchase white and other vinegars in large bottles, on sale.
  • Purchase vinegars that don’t come in large bottles as cheaply as possible.
  • Purchase store or generic brands, if possible.
  • Experiment with your own variations.

What vinegar variations have you tried? Please share the results with us in the comments below.



Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

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Homemade Food Gifts: Dried Herbs

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 30, 2010

Dill Anethum graveolens

Image via Wikipedia

(Originally posted to the Frugal Recipes blog earlier today. Wanted to share with you as well.)

Throughout the summer and autumn months, you have harvested and dried organic herbs to use in your culinary ventures throughout the winter. As is usually the case, you have far more of these dried herbs than you will be able to use before the next harvest season. Why not share your bounty with family and friends?

Hopefully, throughout the year, you have been cleaning and saving the jars from your food purchases. Perhaps you have purchased canning jars, lids and rings frugally at yard sales and thrift shops. You may also have fabric, twine or raffia from the projects that you have been working on throughout the year. If so, you have the makings for great holiday gifts.

Single Herb Examples


Bay leaves





Herb Mix Examples

Basil, oregano and thyme

Basil, thyme and parsley

Dill, mint and parsley

Lemon balm and mint

Parsley and rosemary

1. Sterilize all of the jars, lids and rings. Dry completely. It is important that no moisture is evident when packing the dried herbs.

2. Fill the jars with single herbs, or herb mixes.

3. Tie squares or rounds of fabric onto the cover of each jar with twine or raffia.

4. Add a tag or sticker to the jar with the name of the herb, and with ‘From (Your Names’) Garden.’

How do you package your dried herbs for gift giving? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Shannon Reference:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

Posted in Food Gifts, Winter Holidays | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Pear Trees

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 19, 2010

Though the pears pictured do not have a textur...

Image via Wikipedia

I have decided that I would like to grow pears in an orchard when I finally have land to do so on. Not all pear trees provide fruit that is edible, from what I understand – this this may be incorrect. (And please, let me know if it is 🙂 )

This is the minimal information that I have had time to research thus far:

Pear trees can be grown in an orchard, a field or a backyard. The fruit provides many nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C.

The Callery pear is native to China and is a deciduous tree that can reach a height of up to 45 feet tall. It grows in fields and along roadsides. The callery pear tree shows its white flowers early in the spring and provides fruit for small animals to eat.

The Siberian pear is considered hardy and will survive in zone 1 as a wind break. This is an inedible pear that is grown with other varieties and used as a pollinator. It is used in landscaping as a shrub.

The Bartlett pear is edible and found in grocery stores across the country. It requires rich soil and warm environments. It will produce fruit for up to 75 years, on average, once it is established.


If you have experience growing pear trees, please share in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know. I, for one, live in Maine, and plan to homestead on land that I purchase here.


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Mini Homestead Happenings for 11/17/2010

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 17, 2010

Harry Potter (film series)

Image via Wikipedia

It has been a busy week 🙂 Hope you are all doing well. Went grocery shopping the other day. I picked up the ingredients to make my first two batches of apple butter. Someday, I want to have my own orchard.

I have yard work that needs to be done before winter. The outdoor furniture needs to be put away, as well as other items. Some of the banking will have to be replaced around the bottom of the trailer. The yard needs some minimal cleanup, and the planters will have to be emptied into the compost bin.

I will be going around the trailer soon, closing up all of the windows for the winter. I don’t want to do it quite yet because there are still nice days where I want the windows open.

I am planning to take Zowie to see the Harry Potter movie, and I am expecting IW to visit one or two days over Thanksgiving break.


Posted in Food Preservation, Mini Homestead Happenings, Winter Prep | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You a Survivor? Tips for Setting up Survival Food Storage… and a Garden.

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 12, 2010

A contemporary kitchen pantry in a U.S. house.

Image via Wikipedia

There was a time when I had a good store of food in the pantry. Whenever Skye would come home for a quick visit from Fort Kent, I would send her home with bags of groceries. If anyone was in need, I could fill a box with food.

Unfortunately, with all of the being ill and the surgery, my stores have dwindled down to nothing. That is what happens when you are unable to replenish.

It is now time to begin this process again. I do not like the feeling that, in an emergency, I will not have plenty of food and other items available. While I am getting back on my feet, I will be purchasing items to restock the pantry with.

Here are the guidelines I plan to use:

  • Store food that I like. Don’t base my purchases on what the girls like. Skye lives away from home, and Zowie is in college and rarely here.
  • Purchase items on sale, with a coupon, whenever possible. Or by using whatever method gives me the best price.
  • Rotate foods. New foods go to the back. Use the older foods first.
  • Garden next year, to help to fill the pantry with minimal cost.
  • Learn how to can and dry foods.
  • Purchase a few of at least 1 food item each week for the pantry.
  • Reevaluate how much food I will eat (by myself) for a year and purchase accordingly, plus 10% to 20% more for visits from the girls and others, and helping people when they are in need.


If you have any tips that will help others to create their survival pantries, please share them in the comments below.

Here are a couple of articles that may interest you:

Survival Gardening Foods

Food Storage Guidelines for Survival

I hope you enjoy the articles.



Posted in Food Preservation, Gardening, Stock Up on Foods and More | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Composting and Organic Gardening

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 11, 2010

The finished compost bin

Image by London Permaculture via Flickr

As part of my Mini Homestead activities, I am gardening organically. I want the foods that I prepare for myself, my cats, my family and friends to be as healthy as possible. I have been experimenting with things and doing much research. I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on what I am doing. My two latest articles reflect this:

A Composting System for Frugal Eating

Frugal Meals by Gardening Organically

I have written other gardening articles as well, that will help you with the plans for gardening on your own homestead, mini or otherwise:

Container Gardening Questions

Different Levels of Green Gardening

Foods for Worm Composting

Garden Window Ideas

How to Clean and Prepare Garden Spaces this Fall

How to Design a Small Kitchen Garden

Organic Indoor Gardening

There are many more of my articles on,, and

I don’t know about all of you, but I have a notebook that I am writing all of my gardening plans and lists in. It is not real organized, but it keeps everything in one place.

Have a great day, all!



Posted in Gardening | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Thanksgiving Post

Posted by Shannon L. Buck on November 10, 2010

turkey in the gourds

Image by Scorpions and Centaurs via Flickr

I love Thanksgiving. I love all of the baking and stove top cooking. I love the decorating. I love having my family gathered within my home. I love the aromas of the food cooking, and of the candles. It is a wonderful time. This is about how it is (planned) to go at my home this year:

The day before: Be sure I have everything I need. Bake 4 types of breads, and two pies. See which of these Zowie wants to make. Pick up the house in preparation for company. Be sure to freshen blankets in the dryer for Skye and Jonas to use. Remind Skye to bring pillows. Make sure all dishes are clean.

Thanksgiving morning: Get the mulled cider warming in the slowcooker. Put the bird and the vegetables in the oven. Set out the breads for snacking. Have Skye make the cheesecakes. Make sure everything else is ready for the cooktop.

Afternoon: Set out all food, plates, beverages, etc. Eat with my daughters (Skye and Zowie), Jonas (Skye’s boyfriend), my sister and my nephews. Great times! Sitting around the living room, eating, laughing and joking. My kitchen is too small for a table :). After dinner clean-up. Bringing out of Yule and Christmas decors. Watching Thanksgiving shows, taking down decors and decorating the Yule tree! Skye, Zowie and Jonas all spending the night.

The morning after: Jonas makes breakfast 🙂 I relax. I will, however, clean up after breakfast.

Sounds like a great time to me 🙂

I love Thanksgiving. I do not celebrate the Thanksgiving that is normally celebrated, as it is not historically correct – and not good. But I celebrate family, and all of the things that I am grateful for. I love staying home on this day and cooking. And I love my family being here. It is all so homey.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Do you make wonderful decorations for your table?

Possibly decorating with a gourd theme? Napkins, placemats, and candle holders can be created easily.

Maybe pumpkins are more your style. If so, consider these napkins, placemats and candle holders.

Still, you may prefer to decorate with apples. If this is the case, then try these crafts: Napkins, placemats and candle holders.

You may also wish to make pumpkin bowls to serve soups in.

And, let’s not forget about all of those wonderful leftovers. So many dishes can be created using them, that are quite tasty 🙂

I hope that each and everyone of of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving. One filled with joy and love.


Posted in Autumn Holidays, Crafting, Recipes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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