Author - Amy Kinnard

Helping with the Family Income as a Stay-at-Home Mom

One of the things about being a stay-at-home-mom on a working homestead is that I’ve had to figure out creative ways of helping with the family income without a job.  What I’ve figured out so far, I like to think about in two aspects:

  1. “Saving a Living.”
  2. Discovering what I can make at home and sell from home.

The first aspect to this is “Saving a Living.”  I don't know if you've ever heard of this concept before, but it totally works.  You can save almost as much as what you could earn at a part-time or even a full-time job.  It is possible.

I have learned ways to save money every which way, some crazy and some more practical.  Some ways of saving a living would be by (1) learning to do things yourself instead of paying others to do it, and (2) making your own products.

A big money-saving example of the do-it-yourself side of the coin is the dreaded haircut.  I have five males in my home, so by investing $25 or $30 in a set of quality hair clippers that will last the family 5 to 10 years, I can save an average of $80 per month.  That comes out to $960 per year!  Over the course of 18 years, that’s a whopping $17,280—just in haircuts!

You can see how by learning just one skill and making a small one-time investment, you can save your family big bucks.  And for anyone who thinks they need a cosmetology degree to use a comb and scissors, you don’t.  You’d be surprised what you can learn on YouTube and with a few willing test-subjects.

Learning to make things yourself can also save a lot of money.  I’m reminded of what my mom used to tell us growing up whenever we were inside the clothing store.  We'd find a beautiful dress or skirt and would be admiring it, and it never failed you’d hear my mom pipe up, “I can make it for less than that!” That of course meant that we weren’t buying it.  I can share more in future post about all the different ways we've incorporated this aspect into our homestead by making our own cleaning products and canning our own food - but think about all the things you spend money on and then ask yourself, “Can I make or do that for less?” Again, all it takes is a little research to learn a new skill.

The second aspect to helping with the family income was to discover what I could make at home to sell.

Unlike my mom who could look at something in the store or in a catalog and sew an even better version, I can barely sew a straight line.  Oh, it's horrible to admit that!  I am not gifted in the typical crafty department.  In fact, I somewhat loathe making crafts.  Glitter, beads…ugh!  It’s the stuff nightmares are made of.  And, yes, as a homeschool mom I am admitting that.  But it's true. However, if you put me inside a kitchen, or in front of a blank canvas with some paints, my blood begins to pump with excitement because I love to create.  I just had to figure out the right medium to use.

One of my recent passions has surprisingly turned into handcrafted soapmaking, as well as making my own face creams and makeups.  It’s something I never imagined myself doing, but it has surprisingly become a practical way of harnessing my creative passion into a realistic income.

You can't be good at everything.  No two homesteads are going to look the same because you have unique strengths that others don't, and vice versa.  I’m sorry, perfectionists, but that's just the way it is.  And that's okay.

Find what you're good at, and a good starting point is to explore what are you passionate about.  You'll be surprised at what you discover when you start researching and combining a love for something with a way of turning it into an income.  It's like following the trail of breadcrumbs. You start with one idea, and as you search around you uncover another, which leads you to another and another until you finally find that one thing that you’re so passionate about and you absolutely love.  Others around you then catch onto that and they end up loving it as well, and, guess what?  That's the beginning of a business.  That's the beginning of bringing in an income!

Homemade Vanilla Cake

I have been on a quest to find the perfect homemade vanilla cake recipe to match the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake".  When it comes to moist, melt-in-your-mouth texture, no recipe can come close to Hershey's in my humble opinion.  (For those who have tried to make this recipe with failed results, I will say that the most important direction on the recipe states to "mix for 2 minutes on medium speed before adding boiling water."  This is  a MUST to getting a perfect product!)  So don't poo-poo me when I say this is the best chocolate cake recipe floating around on the web.  I challenge you to change my mind by sending me your "best" chocolate cake recipe.

I finally discovered a forum where a person asked the same question I was asking, "How do I change a fabulous chocolate cake recipe into a vanilla cake?".  One smarty-pants baker responded with the whole scientific reason for all the ingredients listed in the original recipe and what needed to be done to compensate when eliminating the cocoa powder.  Whoa!  Here I was thinking all I would really need to do was take out the dry cocoa powder and replace it with another dry ingredient like flour.


Cocoa powder contains fat which effects the final texture of the cake as well as other needed chemicals to react to the baking soda and baking powder.  More sugar is needed with the chocolate cake to compensate for the bitter cocoa powder.  Also the boiling water is needed to enhance the chocolate flavor and "meld" the sugar and cocoa together.

My first try at adapting the recipe resulted in the right texture and taste, but I wasn't happy with the overall thickness of my layers.  My next attempt created a consistent result in taste and texture, but I mixed together 1.5 recipes instead of 1 for more batter.  It worked, but word of warning, it may overflow your pans slightly depending on how deep the sides are.  Future recommendation to myself and others would be to remove a few tablespoons of batter from each layer pan before baking.  (You just have to eyeball it for yourself.)

I love the ease it takes to whip this cake together on top of the amazing texture.  It pairs beautifully with a rich fudge frosting or buttercream frosting since it is not overly sweet.  It's a great "blank canvas" to adding whatever flavors you can think of - like a fresh fruit-filled center with pudding topped with homemade whip cream.  That just screams "SUMMER!!!"

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1Mix all dry ingredients inside mixer


Step 2Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition
Step 3Add melted butter, mix well


Step 4Add vanilla, mix well


Step 5Slowly add half the milk

Mix like you are making a standard rue adding a little milk at a time so that there are no lumps.


Step 6Scrape sides and bottem well before adding remainder of milk


Step 7Preheat oven to 350F, prepare pans

Mix batter on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Preheat oven and prepare pans.

Step 8Pour batter evenly between 9`` pans

After pouring batter, remember to eyeball to see if they are too full.  If so, remove a few tablespoons from each.  Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack before removing from pan.

As you can see, this cake is super moist and "fudgy" (well in a vanilla-version of fudgy).

Arrivederci, Rust Stains!

I thankfully don't have a psycho standing behind my shower curtain wielding a knife, but I swear I can hear the high-pitched "ee-ee-ee" every time that shower curtain swings open to reveal the ghastly rust stains covering the tub and shower walls. Ugh!  Thanks to the lovely well water, I have the joy of battling constant stains.

I've tried using the all-natural cleaners and scrubbers along with commercial grade cleaners...NOTHING worked!!  Then one day my sister handed me a can of "Bar Keeper's Friend" and the victory over stains became mine.

Using a damp towel and a sprinkle of Bar Keeper's Friend, I'm able to quickly wipe away the stains inside the tub and porcelain sink with the barest amount of elbow grease. Hard to believe that what used to take half a bottle of the pricey commercial cleaners and a boat load of time and scrubbing can now be done in a few minutes without breaking a sweat!

Oh, and it doesn't gag you with an overpowering chemical smell.  Yay!  In fact, it barely smells at all.

Some other ways this amazing little powder has been used in my house is removing mineral stains off my dishes, inside the dishwasher, kitchen sink, bottom of the oven, glass stove top, crayon drawings on my walls, as well as removing any stains you would otherwise use a Magic Eraser.

Canning Chicken

Our friends at Fishnet Ministry ran into a huge problem recently.  They received two shipments of chicken days apart from each other adding up to a total of 63,000 pounds of frozen meat.  The problem for Fishnet was that they didn't have the freezer space for all the food.  Every walk-in frig was converted into temporary freezers and calls sent out to churches and organizations begging them to come as quickly as possible to take the food off their hands so it wouldn't be wasted.  Our family was given so much frozen chicken breasts after working our volunteer shift last week that I had no extra room inside my home freezer for anything else.  What a perfectly wonderful problem to have!  Haha!  So this week I went into "can-everything-inside-the-freezer" mode in order to make room.

Although the thought of canning raw chicken might seem daunting to most people, it really is quite easy.  Honestly, I think it's easier to can chicken than it is garden green beans.  The benefits to being able to can your own chicken are numerous.  My favorite are the quick meal preps when needing diced chicken for a casserole or whipping together a cold chicken salad for lunch.   Just pop open a jar and you are ready to go!  It's the convenience of store-bought canned chicken but way less expensive.  Stock up on chicken breasts when they go on sale (or when given a trunk full!) and save money and freezer space by canning it all.

The "juice" in the jars is 100% chicken broth since no liquid is added before processing in the pressure canner.  You can either use the juice in the meal prep with the canned chicken, or set aside and store inside the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1Prep your pressure canner and lids

Pour 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into pressure canner.  Place lids inside a small pan of water to heat on stove.  Do not boil the lids!


Step 2Pack raw chicken

Fill clean, sterile jars halfway with chicken then pack down.  Fill remainder of jar with chicken leaving a 1 1/2 inch space at the top.

Step 3Add salt

Add 1 tsp. salt per quart jar (1/2 tsp. for pints).


Step 4Clean rims

Use a clean, damp cloth to clean rims and check for any dings or cracks.


Step 5Place lid and band

Place lids on jars tightening with a band.


Step 6Place inside canner

Place up to 7 quart jars inside your pressure canner.  Cover and lock lid.  Process quarts for 90 minutes (up to 20 pints for 75 minutes)  at *11 pounds pressure.

*Check your canner instruction booklet to ensure correct pressure based on your altitude.

Step 7Remove jars

After canner has cooled enough to remove the lid safely, take jars out and place on a towel to rest for 24 hours.  Remove bands checking to see if each lid sealed before storing in a cool, dark place.  If processed correctly, canned chicken is shelf-stable for 2 years.  If a lid didn't seal, place the jar inside the frig and use within 5-7 days.

Strength Amidst Adversity

October is breast cancer awareness month, and I wanted to shine a spotlight on the cancer warrior who taught me so much by her life and death how to show strength amidst one of the hardest adversities – breast cancer.

My mom passed away in March 2016.  Unlike so many individuals who receive the dreaded cancer diagnosis and have five or less years before the end, Mom fought for close to 16 years.  She outlived every treatment available to fight breast cancer and, in the end, passed away from it metastasizing throughout her entire body.

I was a junior in college studying for mid-term exams when my mom called to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She made it through the first surgery and following year able to hold the cancer back with just dietary changes before having to take more drastic measures of treating the disease.  When I arrived home late at night for Christmas break my senior year, I set my bags down inside my bedroom and turned to find my mom standing inside the doorway holding a light bulb above her bald head and a huge smile on her face. (Her version of Uncle Fester.)  It was the first time for me to see her after she had started chemo treatments having lost all her hair.  I wanted to cry, yet she had me laughing uncontrollably when she gave me a big hug and welcomed me home.  Not once did she make a huge deal about being bald. Instead she remarked that it was extremely nice not having to shave her legs anymore and she could finally have the exact hair style/color she wanted wearing a wig. She found the positive in every situation!

Cancer treatments were so hard on Mom’s body, yet through it all, she refused to sit back and let life slip by without a fight.  Whether it was dragging herself out of bed every Wednesday evening after having chemo/radiation treatments so she could play piano for church service or continuing to teach piano lessons throughout the week along with working as the office manager at Dr. Joe’s chiropractic office, Mom lived her life to the fullest.   At different periods during her battle, she would have to stop during the days to run to the bathroom and be sick, but then she’d go right back to work.  Her reasoning was, “I’m going to feel sick lying in bed so I mine as well feel sick while doing something productive.”  She never quit!

Even though Mom/Grandma had to wear a face mask to attend birthday parties, she made it a point to drive down to Arkansas to be here for as many birthdays and special events as possible.  She made it a priority to be with her grandkids and to build happy memories with them.  The last time Mom was at our house visiting, she was so sick she could barely move, yet every evening she would push herself to get up and sit at the kitchen table so she could play a game with the older grandkids or sit on the couch watching a cartoon with the little ones.

My kids don’t remember how sick she was, they remember all the fun times they had with Grandma. They remember her hiding candy all over the yard and letting them hunt for it. They remember all the homemade pajamas she would give them every Christmas.  They remember the surprise packages arriving in the mail filled with special little things unique to each of them that Grandma had thought to send.  They remember her sitting at the kitchen table or working in the kitchen laughing or telling jokes.  They remember Christmas times with Grandma letting them decorate or make special cookies with her.  They remember how much she loved them.  She made every moment count!

Yes, cancer won in the end, but Mom still feels like the real victor.  She took those 16 years and made the absolute most of them.  Cancer tried to hold her back, but she fought with everything she had and ended up gifting all those lives she touched with love and memories.

No, she is no longer here on earth physically, but she lives on in our memories and shared stories.  She was a warrior!

Homemade Yogurt

If you own a slow cooker and happen to have some plain yogurt hiding in the back of your fridge along with some milk, you're in luck!  You can take the dwindling remains of your yogurt and multiply it into a fresh batch of plain yogurt to be further changed into Greek yogurt, sour cream or a variation of cream cheese (aka Yo-cheese).  The health benefits are substantial and the ways to use homemade yogurt are only limited by your lack of imagination.

The process alone is so easy and only takes up three chunks of time throughout the day (2 1/2 hours, 3 hours, 8 hours).  I love being able to eliminate two items off my monthly grocery list - sour cream AND yogurt.  My brood loves yogurt and typically consumes about 12-24 ounces a day.  I could easily spend more than $20/month on flavored yogurt, so it's a blessing that I can make it from scratch for a fraction of the price and still have yummy flavored yogurt.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1Pour milk into slow cooker

Pour 8 C. milk into the slow cooker and heat on low setting for 2 1/2 hours.


Step 2Unplug slow cooker

Unplug the slow cooker, leave the cover on, and let sit for 3 hours.

Step 3After 3 hours have passed

After 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 C. of the warm milk and pour into a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 C. live/active culture plain yogurt along with the 1/2 C. powdered milk.  After combined, dump back into the crockpot and stir to combine with the rest of the milk.


Step 4Wrap with towel

Replace lid (leaving unplugged!) and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the slow cooker for insulation.  Let set for 8 hours.


Step 5Strain out whey

To make either Greek yogurt or Yo-cheese, pour the finished yogurt into a strainer lined with cheese cloth or a thin linen napkin/towel that is placed over a large bowel to catch the whey.  Place inside the refrigerator until enough whey has been strained off to reach the consistency you desire.


Step 6Blend with flavors

Blend with your favorite fruit flavors for fruit yogurts or add spices to your Yo-cheese and spread on crackers for a yummy snack.


Step 7Store in refrigerator

Store in containers in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.  Set aside 1/2 C. in a separate container to use as your starter for your next batch of yogurt.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Whether you’re a taco fan, enchilada lover, or breakfast burrito guru, homemade tortillas are the best way to enjoy your favorites and save a little extra in your pocket book at the same time.  Or simply make them because you forgot to pick up a pre-made package at the grocery store and find yourself on Taco Tuesday without the needed shells.  Aaah!

You can make these in bulk and freeze until you're ready to eat.  Either lay the shells out in a single layer on cookie sheets inside the freezer and once frozen place inside a gallon zipper bag or layer with parchment paper and place inside a gallon zipper bag.  When you are ready to use for a meal, take out as many as you need and warm inside the oven at 225 degrees for 10-15 minutes or place inside the microwave with a damp kitchen towel covering the plate for 1-2 minutes.

The money saving breakdown.... Ten tortilla shells in the store cost $2.99 for the good ones (29.9 cents each).  You get 12 shells out of the homemade recipe.  Compared to the store, the homemade recipe is equal to the savings of $3.58.  If you go the inexpensive generic route at $1.29 for a package of 10, it still saves you $1.54.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1Wisk Dry Ingredients

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Step 2Add Shortening

Add shortening by mixing in with fingers until you have little pea-sized balls of shortening.

Step 3Add Water and Mix

Add water and mix until a dough ball forms.

Step 4Lay Out Dough

Lay dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface.

Step 5Knead

Knead a few times.

Step 6Let Rest

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Step 7Divide and Roll

Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll into ball (if you want smaller shells, divide into 24 pieces).

Step 8Flour

Lightly flour your work surface.  Flatten your ball into a disk.  Flip the disk over so that both sides are floured.

Step 9Roll Flat

Roll with floured rolling pin and turn disk.

Step 10Cook in Skillet

Place shell in an ungreased 10-inch cast iron skillet (or non-stick skillet).  Cook on one side until it bubbles up some and is slightly browned.

Step 11Flip and Repeat

Flip and cook on the other side.

Step 12Cover Until Served

After cooking, place on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel until ready to serve.  I placed these in a zipper bag and put inside the oven until it's time for dinner.  The steam keeps them warm and soft!

Canning Dried Beans

With two bags (4 pounds) of free red beans given to me, my choices were to either let them sit in the back of my pantry collecting dust or can them for quick meal additions. The greatest thing about canning dried beans is how easy it is to complete and the amount of money that can be saved.  What would ordinarily cost you $8 for 8 pints only costs $2 for the same amount.  I love having jars of different types of beans on hand to throw into a quick pot of soup or added to a pound of ground beef to bulk it up for taco night.

What You Will Need

  • Pressure canner
  • 7 Quart or 20 pint jars
  • Canning lids and bands
  • Water
  • Dried beans of your choice (2 pounds of beans = 4 qts or 8 pints)
  • Salt

Step 1

  • Place all your jars inside the dishwasher and run through the "sani" cycle or high temp cycle.
  • Fill pressure canner with 3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. (The vinegar helps keep the jars from getting cloudy on the outside.)

Step 2

  • Sort and wash all your beans. I like to do this by scooping out 1/2 a cup at a time, sifting the beans into a strainer before rinsing and then pouring into a large bowl. I keep count of how many half cups I measure out so I know how many pints I will be canning.

Step 3

  • Pour 1/2 cup rinsed beans into each pint jar (1 cup if using quarts).

Step 4

  • Add 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar (1 tsp for quarts).

Step 5

  • Cover with warm water leaving a 3/4-inch head space.

Step 6

  • Clean the rim with a damp cloth checking for any cracks. Place hot lid on top and tighten with a band. Place inside the canner which will fit all 7 quarts or 20 pints (if using a 23-quart pressure canner).

Step 7

  • Place canner lid on top of canner in the locking position. Process pint jars at 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes; 90 minutes for quarts.

Step 8

  • After canner has cooled, remove jars to finish cooling on a towel. Let rest for 24 hours before removing bands and storing in a cool, dark place.

Canning Potatoes

I knew purchasing a pressure canner would one day pay off, and it truly has. Slowly but surely I have been adding more and more different foods to can all thanks to this convenient kitchen tool….after I overcame my fear of blowing up the kitchen, that is.  I found mine over at Amazon for a reasonable price.

So on top of saving quite a bit of money canning my own black, pinto and red beans as well as the garden green beans, I’ve finally tried my hand at potatoes. Waaaaay easier than I thought it would be!

What You Will Need

  • Pressure canner
  • 7 quart (20 pint) jars
  • Canning lids and bands
  • Large pots for cooking potatoes and boiling water
  • 18-20 pounds of potatoes
  • Salt

Step 1

  • Place all your jars inside the dishwasher and run through the "sani" cycle or high temp cycle.
  • Fill pressure canner with 3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. (The vinegar helps keep the jars from getting cloudy on the outside.). Let the water heat up while you move on to the potatoes.

Step 2

  • Wash and peel all the potatoes removing any bad spots. Rinse again before dicing. Place cut potatoes in a large stockpot with water to keep from browning. After all potatoes are inside the pot, cover completely with water then strain. Refill the pot covering potatoes and boil for 2 minutes.

Step 3

  • Bring a large pot of clean water to a boil and heat a small saucepan of water with the canning lids.

Step 4

  • Drain and rinse the potatoes a few times to help remove as much starch as possible.

Step 5

Remove one jar at a time from the dishwasher and fill as tightly as possible with potatoes. Pour 1 teaspoon salt (per quart) on top and cover with boiling water leaving a 1-inch head space.

  • To ensure that there are no air bubbles inside the jar, run a small instrument (spoon handle, butter knife, chopstick, etc) around the edges.
  • Clean the rim with a damp cloth checking for any cracks. Place hot lid on top and tighten with a band. Place inside the canner which will fit all 7 quarts. (If using a 23-quart pressure canner and pint jars, you can stack the pints to fit all 20.)

Step 6

  • Place canner lid on top of canner in the locking position. Process quart jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes; 35 minutes for pints.

Step 7

  • After canner has cooled, remove jars to finish cooling on a towel. Let rest for 24 hours before removing bands and storing in a cool, dark place.
  • I’ve read that canned potatoes make quick side dishes such as potato salad, mashed potatoes and even delicious fried potatoes. So the next time our friends over at Fishnet Ministry send us home with another free crate full of potatoes after a morning of volunteer work, I know exactly what to do with all the food so it won’t go to waste.

Remember, waste not; want not!

Gołąbki (Stuffed Cabbage)

If you are searching for a meal that can feed an army with minimal stress and maximum taste, look no further!  Seriously this dish is delicious and extremely filling.  Some other benefits is that it is gluten free and can be scaled to whatever quantity you desire with little effort.

My mom used to make this when we had several other families join us for dinner.  As a kid, I never liked the cabbage or bell peppers much, but now the cabbage is my FAVORITE part of the dish.

About a year ago I tried my hand at making this meal but didn't have my mom's recipe.  Instead I experimented with ones I found online that sounded like it matched what would be in my mom's.  WRONG!!!  I should have known better than to try to re-create a family recipe handed down from my full-blooded Polish great-grandmother.  Some things "old school" you just can't improve upon.

Hope you enjoy this treasure of a recipe from my family to yours. :-)

Gołąbki – by Toni Fuhrman


  • 5 lbs. hamburger, thawed
  • 2 C. uncooked rice (you want to have approx. 1 C. cooked rice per lb. of hamburger)
  • 5 eggs (1 per lb. of hamburger)
  • 1 box (2 pkgs.) onion soup mix
  • 2 sm. or 1 lg. head cabbage
  • 1-2 Green bell peppers
  • 4 cans condensed tomato soup
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350° F.   Cook rice and let cool. Boil large pot of water. Hold cabbage head under the boiling water with a large fork/knife pressed into the stem just until leaves loosen and are easy to peel. Do NOT overcook the cabbage. Peal leaves and let cool on a towel.

Mix hamburger, rice, eggs and onion mix a little at a time in a large bowl by hand. Taste a small portion and add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Scoop hamburger into center of cabbage leaf and roll like a taco (bottom-side-side –finish rolling) Place a toothpick in the vein. Layer tomato concentrate on bottom of a roasting pan. Make a layer of stuffed green bell pepper halves and cabbage rolls. Place a dollop of concentrate on each roll and bell pepper and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Start next layer like a lasagna. If you have picky eaters, roll filling into meatballs without the cabbage wrap and prepare as directed above. Use small leftover cabbage leaves to cover the pan. Spread tomato soup and salt and pepper on top.

Cover with foil or lid and bake for 3 hours (2-layer dish), 4 hours (3+ layers) or until cabbage is tender. Best if made the day before so it has time to soak up all the flavors. Yield: Feeds approx. 16 people

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping