Post 35 of 365 Real Foods Series: Easy Ham Bone Soup


Making stock from leftover bones is one of my specialties! I seem to constantly have a crock pot of bones simmering in my kitchen. Not only is stock healthy, but it’s necessary to have fresh stock on hand when cooking from scratch. Many recipes call for stock. Typically, I simmer chicken bones, organs, and feet to make healthy, golden chicken stock.

Yesterday, I decided to simmer a pot of ham bones and whip up a batch of easy ham bone soup. This soup would be a great winter soup and it’s very versatile; I am guessing you could add just about anything to it. Below are my easy steps for this delicious, hearty soup.


  • Leftover ham bones
  • Water (not necessary if using boxed stock)
  • Beef bouillon (I prefer Penzey’s Brand – I don’t typically make beef stock since we normally eat so much venison) or pre-made beef stock in a box.
  • Four or Five diced, baby red potatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Shredded carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • Himalayan pink sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter or ghee

Directions for stock:

  • Simmer ham bones in a crock pot of filtered water, with a tablespoon of cider vinegar, for at least 12 hours. Vinegar draws the good stuff from the bones faster.
  • Once broth is done simmering, allow to cool.
  • Once cool, pour into a glass container.
  • Store the container in the fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, skim the white fat off of the top. Once the fat is gone, the stock is ready to be used.

Directions for soup:

  • Saute diced onions in butter or ghee in a heavy bottom stock pan.
  • Add stock and bring to a boil.
  • While stock is coming to a boil, add two cups of water with beef bouillon or use two cups of beef stock.
  • Continue to bring to a boil and add all remaining ingredients (add as much of the above ingredients as you wish).
  • Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are very soft.

This soup is easy and delicious, so enjoy, and feel free to add some bacon, cheese, scallions, or whatever else you have to spice it up! The broth would be really great thickened up like a gravy, too.

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker


Homemade Wipe Spray


During my first days of diapering, I used cloth wipes soaked in a homemade solution. I would mix a batch of solution, and pour over wipes in a plastic wipe container. This worked well, but after a few months, I knew I needed something easier.

Fast forward to today and you will find me making, “Little Bottom Spray.” It’s super easy, and very quick. It’s also easy when out, though we mostly conventional diaper and use biodegradable wipes (brand below) when we are out and about, or at church. Nobody in the nursery wants to deal with cloth diapering! NOBODY has time for that with ten other littles running around. 🙂


  • Easy to use spray bottle (I use a plastic bottle I recycled from the first diaper spray I bought)
  • Water
  • Baby gentle Castille soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
  • Sweet orange essential oil (optional)


  • Fill your spray bottle with warm water.
  • Add about three drops of Castille soap (a little goes a long way).
  • Add two or three drops of orange EO. Again, use sparingly. You need just enough to freshen up baby’s bottom. Keep in mind, orange oil will cause skin to become photosensitive in the sun. Do not use if baby’s bottom is bare in the sun!
  • Shake it up!
  • Bingo. You’re done. 🙂




I spray onto a cloth wipe, not Wesley’s bottom. It’s too cold and he is not a fan of cold water on his bum. Who is?


Happy Cloth Diapering,

The Joyful Homemaker

diaper pins colored melonheadz


**Our wipes of choice when not using cloth**

Post 34 of 365 Real Foods Series: Everything Under the Tuscan Sun Soup


“Everything Under the Tuscan Sun” is a funny name for a soup, huh? In this recipe I used Tuscan sea salt. It’s a delicious blend of sea salt, rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic.

Both John and Wesley are sick and we all know sickness calls for soup and rest. I decided to whip up a batch of this soup in hopes of speeding up their healing process. It’s full of vegetable goodness in a bone broth base. You can’t go wrong.


  • 6 to 8 cups of bone broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • About a teaspoon of garlic powder
  • About a tablespoon of Tuscan sea salt (link at bottom)
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 large potatoes, chopped roughly
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large parsnips, chopped
  • 1 large handful of green beans, chopped
  • 2 large, handfuls of frozen peas
  • 2 handfuls of frozen, chopped kale
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of white beans





  • Add broth and water to heavy bottom stock pot and bring to a boil
  • Add spices
  • Start chopping away
  • Add everything
  • Once at a rolling boil, bring down to a simmer
  • Simmer until veggies are soft.
  • And you’re done! 🙂


Enjoy this hearty soup. It’s delicious and easy to make. It’s the perfect soup for a winter’s day.

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker



** Tuscan Sea Salt**

Post 33 of 365 Real Foods Series: Ethiopian Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry


Well, it’s been close to a year and sadly, I am only thirty-three dishes into my 365 Real Foods Series! AHHH! At the rate I am going, it will be another eleven years before the series is complete! Homeschooling, working two days per week, running a homeschool group, and parenting has taken precedent. Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of blogging more often. 🙂

The below stir-fry dish is sure to please everyone in your home. It’s super easy, super quick to make, and tastes delicious. My kids thoroughly enjoyed it. You may not like sauerkraut but you can’t taste it, plus it gives that bit of sour, and you need it for this dish.

My friend Alicia gave me a jar of Ethiopian Ghee for my birthday (eeek,  I love food gifts) and it is insanely good. Her recipe is at the bottom of this post. Thanks, Lish!

If you have never made ghee, and want to try, check out my recipe on how to make it. Don’t buy it! It’s cheaper to make it yourself.


  • Ethiopian Ghee (or regular ghee with a bit of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, should work as a decent substitute). If you have a mildly sweet, mildly spicy BBQ spice, that would work well too.
  • Cooked rice noodles (sub spaghetti squash if making Paleo).
  • Carrots
  • Sauerkraut
  • Cooked chicken cubed or chunks
  • Liquid coconut aminos (or Braggs if you prefer fermented soy aminos).



  • Toss a large spoonful of ghee into a wok or frying pan.
  • Turn stove up to medium / high heat.
  • Toss diced carrots in pan.
  • Once carrots are soft, add sauerkraut, chicken, and cooked rice noodles.
  • Mix together well and add a few tablespoons of coconut aminos (or as much or as little as you wish).
  • Add a bit more Ghee if you wish.
  • Cook for a bit longer, stirring often, until well blended and hot.


Viola! A very easy, very healthy meal. It’s great for lunch or dinner. 🙂


Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker


** Ethiopian Ghee Recipe**


  • 1 lb of butter
  • tiny onion minced
  • big spoonful chopped garlic
  • two tablespoons fresh ginger chopped
  • half teaspoon turmeric
  • two cardamom pods or half teaspoon seeds
  • a cinnamon stick
  • three cloves
  • a quarter teaspoon grated nutmeg


  • Melt butter
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Simmer really low for an hour, you shouldn’t brown the onion or garlic much if at all
  • Strain twice
  • Pour into jar
  • Store at room temperature
  • Ghee will be bright yellow!

Summer 2014: A Review In Pictures

We still have a good month of summer here in the Northeast but ultimately, autumnal days, apple picking, and holiday preparations will be here before we know it. We are easing into our homeschool year with a focus on Preschool and Kindergarten materials.  Our homeschool group is kicking off the school year with a back to homeschool picnic and a trip to Bluff Point State Park. I am very excited to begin this school year.  🙂

This post is a simple round-up of our summer and our never-ending educational endeavors. We consider learning  to be a whole life experience. Learning doesn’t begin with a specific curriculum or scheduled activities and summer is full of experiences and opportunities for feeding the young, curious mind.

tiny-sun-transparent tiny-sun-transparent tiny-sun-transparent



beach 2

JH Boys Reading

JH digging dirt

JH garden

JH shapes

JH Lego

JH pool time

JH fresh produce


JH reorg

jH boys outside

jh castle

jh bingo

jh kitchen


wes beach pool

ns fair

building stuff


jack cake


I hope you had a truly joyful summer.


Many Blessings,

The Joyful Homemaker


Post 32 of 365 Real Foods Series: Homemade BBQ Sauce


There is nothing more summer than a good BBQ sauce. Sadly, store sauces are often full of HFCS, dyes, and other yucky ingredients. I have been making my own sauce for quite a few years now. It is a crowd-pleaser and very simple.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • A pinch of salt and a good pinch of pepper
  • A sprinkle of chili powder


I mix the above ingredients together in my Vitamix, dump the mixture into a sauce pan, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes just to heat and melt down the brown sugar. Mix well while simmering; it ensures your ketchup doesn’t get funky. Pour sauce into a glass jar and keep in refrigerator. 🙂



Happy Homemaking.

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 31 of 365 Real Foods Series: Super Green Smoothie


Back in the day, before I knew I could make my own smoothies with ease, I always had Odwalla Superfood green smoothie in my fridge. I started every day with a small glass and I loved the taste. Fast forward a bunch of years and I now own a Vitamix and I happily blend everything and anything (I don’t recommend mushrooms or onions – very gross) into my smoothies.

Below is my own version of Odwalla Superfood Green Smoothie. It has a great taste and the powdered Spirulina adds a ton of nutrients. The Spirulina gives the smoothie a dark green color.


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 /2 of a handful of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 of a handful of frozen kale
  • 1 handful of frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered Spirulina (I like Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Powder best)
  • A drizzle of local, raw honey


  • Blend all ingredients in blender
  • ENJOY!




Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 30 of 365 Real Foods Series: Sunny Day Cookies


These cookies are simply all kinds of yummy! They are gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, and Paleo. These make a great breakfast or snack option because they are high in protein and healthy fat. You can certainly omit or add in your own ingredients (raisins are high in sugar).


  • 1 cup organic cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup of raw, local honey
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (I used organic, unrefined)
  • 1 egg
  • About a half of a handful of organic Thompson raisins
  • About a half of a handful of organic sunflower seeds
  • About a quarter of a handful of organic, raw cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp. of organic, raw coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Put the first four ingredients into a bowl
  • Combine first four ingredients with a stand mixer or hand beater. A quick blend is good
  • Add remaining ingredients and blend quickly
  • Refrigerate dough for ten minutes
  • Drop coffee scoop sized dough scoops onto ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Remove and allow to cool on a cookie rack






These are not too sweet and very filling. They make a healthy treat, breakfast item, or dessert. ENJOY!

Happy Baking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 29 of 365 Real Foods Series: Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Jello


Jello brings back memories of summers in Maine, and family time. My grandmother always made a fruit filled Jello that was simply amazing. She would add strawberries, orange slices, and bananas to boxed Jello. I remember shoveling in dinner super fast so we could get to the Jello. 🙂

Fast forward twenty years and I am now aware conventional gelatin products in the grocery store contain dyes, artificial sweeteners, and are devoid of anything healthy. People have steered away from Jello and gelatin based products in recent years, as they are avoiding synthetic dyes and Jello is out of vogue. BUT what if I told you gelatin has amazing healthy benefits, it’s super easy to make your own, and kids sort of dig those wiggly shapes? Would you then give it a try? If so, below is my recipe for Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb (my inspiration for said recipe comes from none other than, Mama Natural –


  • 2 Cups Organic Juice (I used a rhubarb juice we canned two summers ago)
  • 2 TBS Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin
  • 1 cup chopped organic strawberries
  • 2 TBS raw, local honey



  • Pour two cups of rhubarb juice into medium sauce pan.
  • Add two tablespoons of gelatin.
  • Whisk together until gelatin is pretty much dissolved.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Remove from heat and add honey.
  • Allow to sit for a few minutes.
  • Add strawberries.
  • Mix together and pour into glass container or mold of choice.
  • Refrigerate for 3+ hours.
  • Cut from pan or use cookie cutters of choice to make fun shapes.







There you have it! A super easy and delicious treat for summer. Jack loves this recipe. We are packing up our healthy jello shapes and taking them to a picnic this evening. 🙂


Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

April Homeschool Roundup


It is almost the end of May and I am finally getting to our April roundup.

April was a great month. We did some fun things and nothing too serious. We explored outside, stayed indoors, and simply played. Take a peak at some pictures of our April homeschool month. 🙂

jack tiles 2

JAck gems 2

wes 1


Wes letter block

JAck gems 3


jack paint 1

jack paint 2

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker