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Tips for a No-Stress Homemade Holiday

Do you hear bells jingling? As the weather cools here in the Northeast, my thoughts naturally turn to the holidays and I start eagerly anticipating the Christmas season. With our fickle New England weather, I have even been known to rock the sweater and boots look a little early and end up a sweaty mess by 2 PM when the sun is out. Even though it is early in the season, I have found that a key to success for a no-stress homemade holiday is to start while my enthusiasm is high. Usually that happens right around September, which gives me plenty of time to DIY thoughtful gifts for my list.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting eight awesome homestead gifts that you can make easily (I promise!) Before I launch into my no-stress homespun gifts, here are some keys to a successful homemade holiday:

Homemade Holiday Tip #1: Start Early


One thing I hate about the holidays is the stress! The hustle and bustle of Christmas with young children can leave me wishing away the season if I’m not careful. That is why it’s super important to start early if you are hoping to make homemade gifts. Your excitement will wane as your schedule gets busier so the earlier, the better. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for in September and start brainstorming ideas. Then you can start chipping away at the list every week.

Homemade Holiday Tip #2: Be Intentional

This is embarrassing, but I have to admit that I have given homemade gifts that I based more on my skill set and abilities, and less on the gift recipient’s interests. One incident involved a massive batch of cookies, which I made assembly-style and gave out to friends. One particular friend was one. On a diet and two. Had a gluten allergy. Not exactly my shining moment as a friend or a DIY homesteader. That is why I recommend thinking deeply about each person on your list. Some questions to help you:

Will they really enjoy the gift you have in mind?

Can they use it? If your recipient lives in San Diego, a wool scarf may not be for them!

Do they have hobbies that are special to them? Is there a way to create a gift that involves that hobby?

Think about your unique, special relationship. What gift can you give that will reflect that relationship and your shared interests?

No one wants to feel generic when being given a gift, even if it is homemade. From the heart should come first, then from the home.

Homemade Holiday Tip #3: Be Selective


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If the last tip was overwhelming, you are not alone! Keep in mind that you don’t need to make every single gift on your list, particularly if this is your first homemade holiday. I’m not going to go into a rant here about consumerism, but suffice it to say that culling your shopping list is not a bad thing. We have a large family and have transitioned over the years to a Yankee Swap as well as trading experiences over presents. Even if that’s not in the cards for you, you can still choose the gifts you make, and their recipients, carefully.

I only plan to make about 50% of the gifts on our list. The rest I purchase throughout the year (I store them in our basement to keep them hidden away), saving money by shopping sales, coupons, and being as organized as possible. Our average budget per gift is $25, handmade or otherwise.

Homemade Holiday Tip #4: Be Realistic (Pic of Glo’s gloves)

Put the Pinterest down, folks! Now is not the time to learn to knit, sew, or carve wooden ships. My aunt knits the most gorgeous gloves, socks, sweaters and scarves. I am not her, and although I’d love to learn to do that type of work, it’s not happening in the next few months. We need to be realistic about our current skill set and use that to create gifts that are beautifully handmade. The gifts I will share this week will be doable for even a beginner, and don’t require a lot of special equipment so there’s no need to get intimidated by the idea of a handmade gift.

1. Holiday Tea Blends

how to make herbal tea

how to make herbal tea

This is a great one to show your loved one that you’ve really thought about them! You can customize almost any tea blend to create a unique one-of-a-kind gift. Homesteader pros can dry herbs like mint, chamomile and lavender from the garden to really make this a handmade gift. As urban homesteaders, we don’t have enough room to grow enough of those, so we order through Mountain Rose Herbs (link.)

Three Blends I Love (feel free to use the description on your label):

*All blends are formulated to make 8 ounces of tea. You can increase or decrease, using the ratios here, as appropriate.

It’s Been a Long Day

1/3 cup of lavender

1/3 cup of chamomile

1/3 cup of mint leaves

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Wake Up!

1/3 cup lemon balm

1/3 cup mint

1/3 cup black tea

¼ tsp ginger

Christmas Morning

1 tbsp. dried orange peel

2 tbsp. candied ginger

1/2 c black tea

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Store-bought add ons: tea infusers and mug (see above), local honey

2. Nourishing Lotion

Yes, you can make lotion…in the microwave! I followed this amazing tutorial here:

For a lighter every day lotion, I use lavender and lemon essential oil. But for those friends who work with their hands, or for a great foot lotion, I like to add sandalwood. For a more masculine scent you can add frankincense also.

This also makes a great baby shower gift. You can give mom a small jar with relaxing scents mixed in to use on her belly, and an unscented one for baby massages!

Store-bought add ons: Massaging glove, exfoliating scrubber (if you want to get crafty you can crochet these!)

3. Christmas Morning Hot Cocoa

This is a great easy gift for anyone who loves hot cocoa! I package mine in mason jars with candy canes for stirring sticks. Although I can’t say that I produce any of this on my homestead, it’s still a great gift!

¾ cup sugar

½ cup cocoa powder (I love Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Power!)

½ cup powdered milk

¼ tsp salt

Candy canes for stirring

Store-bought add-ons:

4. Beef Jerky

If you haven’t been making beef jerky, you are missing out. Whether you make jerky from your own meat, procure it from other farms, or even from the store, it’s a serious winner. I can’t claim to be an expert but we have used this recipe:

Store-bought add-ons: Put together a basket of other snacks that the recipient will like. If they are campers, a stainless steel mug is always a winner!

5. Holiday Granola/Trail Mix

Check out Tips for a No-Stress Homemade Holiday at

Check out Tips for a No-Stress Homemade Holiday at

If your gift list includes a lover of the outdoors, I would recommend making them 10-15 small baggies of this awesome trail mix. We make it year-round but it’s so festive with the red and green M&Ms! I also like to use the dehydrator to dry apples from the local orchards and include some of those as well as part of the gift.

1 cup almonds

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup M&Ms

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

Store-bought add-ons: A parking pass and maps from local state parks, hand warmers, or moisture-wicking socks.

Bonus tip: Homemade gift packaging!

Did you enjoy thee holiday tips? You’ll love reading these articles too!

15 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas
18 Candy Cane Ideas And Recipes You’ll Love

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Self Sufficiency

NYC Adds Nearly 4,000 People Who Never Tested Positive To Coronavirus Death Tolls

New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.

The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever.

The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.

“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times.“As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”

The post New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll appeared first on Daily Caller

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Self Sufficiency

How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

The thing about homesteading is you get to create your own ingredient right from scratch! Cheese, yogurt, butter and now sauerkraut, a delightfully sour and crunchy ingredient you can use on your meals — or consume by itself — while on a homestead, or while facing this health crisis!

This homemade sauerkraut is a great meal because it has a long shelf life. You can either make plain sauerkraut or mix it with herbs and spices. In this tutorial let us make Lacto-fermented sauerkraut that preserves all the good probiotics in a jar, good for your guts.

So how to make sauerkraut in a mason jar?

RELATED: How To Make Buttermilk On Your Homestead

Delicious Sauerkraut Recipe Every Homesteader Should Know

Why Make Sauerkraut?


Not only does sauerkraut spoil a long time, but it is also a meal in itself, and it is also easy to make! You don’t need to be an expert cook, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

So let us get started. Here are the steps in making sauerkraut in a mason jar.


  • 1 head of cabbage or 2 1/2 lbs cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Tools Needed:

  • knife
  • bowl
  • mason jar
  • smaller jar
  • rubber band

Step 1: Wash & Clean the Tools & Ingredients

Wash all the equipment and utensils you need. Wash your hands too.

You don’t want to mix your sauerkraut with bad bacteria, anything that is going to make you sick.

Next, remove the faded leaves from your cabbage. Cut off the roots and the parts that don’t seem fresh.

Step 2: Cut the Cabbage Into Quarters & Slice Into Strips

Cut your cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice it into strips.

Step 3: Place in a Bowl & Sprinkle With Salt

Put the stripped cabbage into a bowl. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt.

TIP: Use canning salt or sea salt. Iodized salt will make it taste different and may not ferment the cabbage.

RELATED: Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Step 4: Massage the Cabbage

Massage the cabbage for five minutes or more to get the juice out.

TIP: You’ll know it’s ready when you see a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl and will look similar to coleslaw.

Step 5: Press Cabbage Into the Mason Jar

Add the cabbage to the mason jar gradually. Press it in hard to allow the juice to come out. Do this every time you add about a handful of cabbage.

IMPORTANT: Food should be covered by the liquid to promote fermentation. Add any excess liquid from the bowl to the jar.

Step 6: Press a Smaller Jar Into the Mason Jar

You want to squeeze every ounce of that juice from the cabbage. To do this place the mason jar in a bowl and get a smaller jar.

Fill it with water or marble to make it heavy. Press it into the bigger mason jar. Allow any juices to rise to the surface.

Step 7: Cover the Jars With Cloth & Tie With Rubber Band

Leave the small jar on. To keep your jars clean from annoying insects and irritating debris, cover your jars with a clean cloth. Then, use a rubber band to tie the cloth and the jars together, putting them in place.

Step 8: Set Aside & Check Daily

Set it aside in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. Check the water level daily. It should always be above the cabbage.

Step 9: Taste Your Sauerkraut & Keep at Cool Temperatures

Homemade Sauerkraut Cumin Juniper | How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

After about five days, you can taste your sauerkraut. If the taste is to your liking, tightly cover it with the lid and store in the fridge or cellar.

NOTE: If after five days it’s still not your desired taste, leave it for a few more days. This will allow the fermentation process to continue.

You can now enjoy your sauerkraut in a mason jar. Enjoy its goodness! You can use it as a side dish or mix it with your favorite sandwich.

Things to Remember in Making Sauerkraut

  • Store away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Colder weather will make the process longer. Spring is the best time to make them since the warmth helps activate the fermentation.
  • Always make sure that the cabbage is below the water level during the entire fermentation process.
  • If the water level decreases during the fermentation process, you can make a brine and add it.

Let us watch this video from Kristina Seleshanko on how to make delicious Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar!

So there you have it! Making Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar is as easy as slicing the cabbage into strips. Remember that as long it remains unopened, your sauerkraut can last for months. Best of all, you can partner this sauerkraut in many recipes.

What do you think of this homemade recipe? Share your best sauerkraut recipe in the comments section below!

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Self Sufficiency


Having plants in the house will bring peace to people. Having a little garden with vegetables is even better! You can grow these vegetables in your backyard garden easily as well!

RELATED: Microgreens Growing Guide

In this article:

  1. Tomato
  2. Eggplant
  3. Beet
  4. Spinach
  5. Pea
  6. Carrot
  7. Radish
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Asparagus

Growing veggies in your garden will give you an opportunity to understand what you eat and value it more. Early spring is when most vegetables are being planted. Keep reading to learn about 9 spring vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden!


Tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the States! There are different varieties to choose from. Tomatoes need to be planted in early spring because they won’t survive a frost.

Because tomatoes are consumed daily, try adding them to your garden! They’re not difficult to grow either.


Eggplants are known to have low-calorie, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious! So why not plant them in your garden?

Eggplants shouldn’t be planted too early because they won’t be able to survive a frost. So you could consult an expert in your area before you plant your eggplants.


Beets are known to be a superfood for its various health benefits. They’re easier to grow in the garden, usually around late March or early April.

If the weather is always cool, beets will keep getting bigger and bigger. Once the weather starts to warm up, you’ll need to harvest them, or they’ll go to waste.


Spinach is a delicious early spring veggie, and it’s also very beneficial for health. And it’s not difficult to grow spinach in your garden!

Spinach needs cold weather to grow. Getting spinach to grow is easy, but keeping it growing will require some extra care.


Peas are usually planted in late April. Peas will die in freezing temperatures, but they also won’t survive the heat either. So make sure you plant your peas in early spring.

Peas are widely used in many different ways, and there are different types of peas. The soil you’ll be planting your peas should be suitable for them, so make sure you ask while buying seeds.


There are different types of carrots, but regardless of their size and color, it’s a fact that carrots are both delicious and rich in vitamins.

They’re root vegetables, so with proper sun and watering, they can be picked up as baby carrots as well.


A radish is an excellent option for beginners because it doesn’t require too much care. Radish is easy to harvest.

Radish grows fast, so it’s better to keep an eye on it after a few weeks. Radish usually is grown pest-free, but there’s always the chance of unwanted guests, so watch out for worms. Radish can be eaten raw or can be added to garnish recipes.


Cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow at home, but it is very popular.

Cauliflower grows better in colder weather, so before you plant it, consider the climate of your garden. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is known to be very beneficial for health.


Freshly picked, tender asparagus is very delicious!

Asparagus plants get more productive with each harvest, and mature asparagus harvest can last for months! Make sure you plant them at the correct time, or else they might go to waste.

All the vegetables listed above are great for your healthy diet, and it’s fun to watch them grow. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your own veggies and eat healthy this spring!

So tell us which veggies will you be growing this spring? Tell us in the comments section!




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