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We are a Christian, homeschooling, Real Food-eating family living on a little piece of Texas.  This blog is a work in progress – if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them!  I hope you are encouraged and inspired here –  click here to find out what kind of posts you can expect or click on a category to start reading.  Thanks for visiting!

Processing Beeswax

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Beeswax is amazing stuff. From Wikipedia: “For thousands of years, it has had a wide variety of applications; it has been found in the tombs of Egypt, in wrecked Viking ships, and in Roman ruins. Beeswax never goes bad and can be heated and reused.” It has been used by every civilization on every continent and is still used today! Read more about it here. The wax is secreted as tiny flakes on the bees’ abdomens and is the only wax on earth that is completely non-toxic. Cool, huh?

Did you know that honeybees will visit over 17 million flowers just to produce one pound of beeswax?  Over seven pounds of honey are necessary for the bees to consume just to produce that one pound of wax.  Incredible.

It is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal and extremely protective, too, and that’s why we use it to make our Beeswax Lip Balms and Lotion Bars.  It’s takes some work to make it usable, though…here’s how we do it.

raw-comb

First, we gather the cappings from when we extract the honey from the hives. Cappings are the pieces of comb that we cut off so the honey will drip out.  We leave some for the bees to refill so they won’t have to use as much energy rebuilding their comb and can expend their efforts on making more honey.

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Next, we dump the cappings into a big pot full of water and bring it to a gentle simmer, just hot enough to melt the wax.

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Yuck!

Looks horrible, doesn’t it?  It actually smells really nice. 🙂

cooling-in-pot

Without stirring, we allow the pot to cool.  Heavy impurities sink to the bottom and honey dissolves in the water while the wax, pollen and other lighter-than-water things rise to the top.  When it’s completely cool, we lift the hardened wax layer off the top, pour out the dirty water, wash out the pot and do it all over again.

first-melt

We’ll do this four or five times, just to get as much crud out of it as we can.

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Here’s what it looks like after several “washes”. We have to make sure that there is absolutely no honey left in it or it won’t harden.

last-cool

Top Side

Bottom Side

Bottom Side

Now for the final filtering. No water this time – we just break up the big disk and put the chunks into the trusty mini-crockpot.

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Melting down slowly…still looks pretty nasty.

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Still murky…

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When it’s completely melted, we pour it through several layers of cheesecloth to filter out the pollen, propolis and whatever else has been hanging on.

filtering

And voila!  Pour the hot wax out onto a silicone sheet and it cools into a beautiful mass of fragrant beeswax.

clean-wax

Isn’t it beautiful?

We harvested over 50 pounds of honey this summer and got just under 9 ounces of clean beeswax.  That’s why I don’t make beeswax candles – that stuff is too precious!  Thanks, bees. 🙂

How I Make Our Soap

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I get a lot of questions from friends and customers about how I make our soap, so here’s how I do it!

The Ingredients

First, a little chemistry. Any and all soap is made of two main ingredients: 1) a strong base and 2) fatty acids. Bar soap is made with lye (also called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide) as the base and various fats to provide the fatty acids. Read more…

Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Casserole

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I’m usually not into casseroles, but this one is just too good.  It’s perfect for a homey dinner and then reheats beautifully for breakfast or brunch the next day, you know, if there are any leftovers…which is rare at our house, actually. Read more…

Cheesy Stuffed Jalapenos

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Oh, these make me happy.  They are cheesy and smoky and satisfy my cravings for Mexican food quite nicely.  They only require four ingredients, too which is nice because they are four ingredients I usually have on hand.  I serve a little Mexican crema or full-fat sour cream if I have it but that’s optional.  It will help douse the flames if the peppers are especially hot. Read more…

Cheese Crunchies

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Sometimes I just need something crunchy.  When we gave up grains, that meant no more tortilla chips and that meant no more nachos.  Fortunately, I discovered these little things and now I have something crunchy to convey that hot sauce, guacamole or taco meat to my mouth!  They’re also good for just snacking on their own or for making little sandwiches with some slices of meat and maybe roasted sweet peppers…mmmmmm. My kids like them with pizza sauce and pepperoni slices. Read more…

Venison Pot Roast

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I am very blessed to have wild game in my freezer almost year-round.  It is high-quality, lean meat from animals that ate their natural diet not far from where I live and I feel like we’re eating just a little slice of Texas…you know, living off the land and all that.  It also cuts WAY down on the amount of grocery money I spend on meat, and that’s definitely a good thing. Read more…