Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Constitution Day!

Our family became aware of Constitution Day, September 17th, a few years back and celebrating it has become a tradition. Its casual usually with food, family, friends and fun. This year most everyone is off at school and have received Constitution Day care packages to help ease the grief of being away during the celebration.

We will, my students and I, have a mini celebration here, continuing to carry the torch of the event from year to year.

Does your family celebrate Constitution Day? Or other holiday's that are not widely known?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New at the end of summer....

I've been wondering, reading, thinking, making, moving and more, but I have not been blogging. In the NW when the weathers good you got to go and enjoy it, since it's here for such a short time. I believe this is the last over 80 degree day of the summer. Fall and soon winter will be an ongoing situation, cloudy, overcast, drizzle, rain, cloudy, wind, did I mention cloudy?

Today, I will pick up one of two new students that will be staying with me this year. It will be different this year, since I'm now without any of my own kids at home. I will share the experiences of two international students each day on my own. It's exciting to expand my little world and share in their view of our area and lives.

So, even with the sun shining, I thought I'd take a last quiet minute and share what's new here at the end of summer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 go?

Corny...I know. I fermented a couple jars of salsa with whey and a couple jars of carrots with brine. The carrots I made to be spicy with jalapeno peppers aren't and the carrots I made with garlic are? I'm kind of wondering...why?

They are in the fridge and we've started having a little with meals. They are pretty good, in the future I'm planning to use whey mainly and go lighter on the salt. Much better for the blood pressures and I liked the flavor the whey, better.

I was able to get a food grade plastic bucket donated to my on going learning, so sauerkraut is in the plan. Once it gets a little cooler here it will be time to make it and it can be stored in the basement.

Working on any new skills this summer?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independance Day

Wishing you and yours a Happy Forth of July!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This years learning....

Lacto-Fermentation...that's the skill I'll strive to become proficient at during these summer months. The health benefits are there and it's another way to preserve food for later use, good for sustainability.

As a kid my Grandma made canned pickles and mix veggie pickles. I remember having them in the summers I spent there, but they were not a part of my life the rest of the year. They were yummy, it's surprising to me how there's such a gap between what was normal in my Grandma's life and what I was taught as normal.

Right now I'm doing some research and planning to start small a few jars of carrots and maybe some cabbage...I think it will grow from there...finding yogurt to drain for the whey and checking into kefir grains.

Have you tried fermenting your our veggies at home? I'd love to here any tips or suggestions.

Monday, June 15, 2009


It's a new game. Have you heard of it?

It's a strategy game with bugs. We have hand crafted our own tiles.

It took some time and a minimal amount of funds to make our little set. Her friends thought it was great!

What new or old games do you play?

This is on the Firsts on the First at Make it From Scratch

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's in the bag!

My youngest daughter is getting ready to go to prom and needed a purse for the night. We are conserving our resources and I offered to make a drawstring purse for the event that would go with her dress. I stumbled on a tutorial a week or two ago and used it as a guide to make it.



She's happy with it and I have a small contribution in the bag.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

fidgeting, tinkering, twiddling

I'd love to go ahead with the fiddle project, but, I've decided to wait till my place sells. Then, I will find a good second hand student fiddle as a celebration of completing this task at hand. Till then, I'll just wait patiently. It's so easy for me to spring into a new learning opportunity, rolling the budget concerns right out of the way.

This is not the time for me to do that....and, in looking around for a used one, they were a lot more than I had hoped they'd be. So, there might be fidgeting, tinkering and twiddling but for now no fiddling...but, it's on my list!

What's on your list, your waiting to get started on?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And, they're...

...Up! We have sprouts. Not everything is up, but a few are...radishes, green onions, lettuce, beans, zucchini and pop corn!!! And a couple things that I've forgotten what was planted where, time will tell. There's no tomatoes, yet.

I was able to get a couple of pictures of our seeds on there
way to becoming dinner items.

Routinely they are reminded as I pass by
'to shape up and grow'.


Any new sprouts at your house?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fiddling? ...Fiddling!

I'm going to give fiddling a try. Over at coldantlerfarm she's hosting a fiddle up...strikes me as a fiddle a-long. So, I'm going to try and land a 4/4 violin and a book with CD and give fiddlin' a solid fiddling chance. This will be the challenge, finding the violin in my budget!

I haven't played music since I was a kid, but would love to play. This appeals, she's asking for 15 minutes of practice a day, I think I stand a lot better shot at it than I did at practicing the piano as a kid. What a good opportunity to stumble along with people around the web, learn something new and to have unlimited laughter filled moments.

This is open to anyone and we are just getting started, so if you feel like fiddling. Stop by and fiddle up!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Project 1001 - Outside the lines

I've always had a difficult time staying in the lines. It's a issue that has plagued me time and time again. Once, I have an understanding of something, my mind tends to want to make it 'better' or make it more appropriate for me. Years ago, I came across a post - Project 1001, it's about completing 101 things in 1001 days. It inspired me and I wanted to give it try.

I started my list December 15, 2007 and decided that I wanted things that were important or significant to me. The first 10 were easy, the next ten were harder to find and it got progressively more difficult. I realized the parameters needed to be modified. Rather than start with all 101, I would add to the list as I went along to include new learning and exploration likewise if a item is no long of importance, I would delete it. Doing it this way created a 1001 day issue and I figured the time frame wasn't as important as completing the activities with out stress.

Currently, I have 61 items on my list, 20 of them are completed and I have 41 items to be done, four are in process. This growing changing list is a reflection of me. It highlights where I'm headed, the new learning I'm hoping to find, the joy to be found near and far, adventures to seek, service to share. It also, allows me to prune the items that no longer a focus or direction I'm headed.

Some are simple and some are lengthy. Here are a few: sell my condo, build a sandcastle, raise chickens for eggs, learn to can peaches, grow and preserve veggies from my garden for the year, visit Missouri, make a quilt, buy a farm...

In a way it's like an inventory to be, which is outside of the lines for most inventories. Where do you go outside the lines?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Planning versus Ease

Lately, I've had time to consider the advantages of planning versus the ease of all the convenience items that are available. One item that's been brought into focus is brown rice. We love it, it's good for you and requires around 45+ minutes to cook on the stove or an hour to bake it in the oven and around the same amount of time in my rice cooker. Brown rice requires thought and planning to work in our meals. We always make a large batch providing leftover rice, it can be frozen or put in the fridge for another meal, like fried rice or use in soups or for breakfast.

We buy brown rice in bulk it's around $0.70 a pound and pound of dry rice will make 6-7 cups of cooked rice. I saw microwavable brown rice, it was just brown rice and water, it was approximately 6 cups for $6.99. There were six plastic containers that would go into my garbage as well as the lids and the box with plastic they came in. The difference between $6.99 and $0.70 is $6.29. That's a pretty big difference.

Electricity is needed to cook the rice, both require some. The microwave is around 9 minutes (1.5 X 6) and the bulk is on the stove or in the rice cooker, I don't have the conversions for the electric use for those methods. However, in the oven when I'm cooking something else, well, I'm using heat that already there. To do it requires planning and a little less initial ease, but it comes around later...and sometimes if I remember that my planning is worth an extra $6.29 it makes it a little easier to do.

What have you found that requires a little planning and is giving you savings versus the ease of

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reusables to Use

The idea of reusables is great! I love it, it sounds like the way I want to live my life. I've noticed that once I move from disposables to reusables it tends to stick, but making the jump can be a longer process than I like.

We've converted to cloth napkins, they work well for us. We fold them up and put them in our old Mickey Mouse napkin holder and have a basket for used ones. We wash zip locks that didn't have meat in them, especially for bread, snacks, desserts that are frozen. I'd like to build a drying rack for them, but that's for another day. I've switched from disposable feminine products to reusable, some I purchased, some I was able to sew. These all work well and help keep the expenses down and don't add to the growing garbage.

The one thing we still have in the kitchen that I feel a little lame about? Paper towels. They are made to be turned into trash, they cost a lot and are not a needed item, I just want them (I think it might be a comfort and ease thing, again).

Part of my struggle is finding something to use in its place and having the whole start to finish cycle planned. If I don't have it mapped out, it will not succeed, training will be required with my family and friends of our family. So, why do we use them? How do we replace or meet the need?

Messy spills = Good bin to put used ones, absorbency
Covers in microwave = Napkins
Taking food on the go = reusable container
Availability = 20 per week, easily recognized

So my plan will be to make at least 20 cloth replacement paper towels. I think I will edge them the same so no matter what fabric I use it will be easy to know they are our paper towels. What reusables have you found that are simple and work for you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

inch by inch

My garden this year is really, inch by inch, since I have a couple one foot square containers and a few two feet by a half foot containers. I've planted a wide of variety to see how well different things might do, we have such a short growing season here. We've put in a few herbs, lettuce, carrots, green onions, radishes, tomatoes, beans and pop corn, some from bought seeds and some seeds from the kitchen shelf. A few are up and some just got planted today. I've over planted the boxes and will thin as we go. I'll be curious to see if we can keep them fed and happy just the same.

Hopefully, I'll be fortunate enough to get an offer and sell my place. The containers will all be movable, too. I'm going to look into a hanging container for tomatoes and maybe get it going as well. These things are one seed at a time in my life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mending...stitches and beliefs

I'm not good about getting around to mending things. It's so easy to put it off or pick up a replacement rather than fix the item that needs repaired. There's lots of excuses that come to mind, but, none of them are very good and I'm not sure they are the real reasons. I think it's about comfort and ease. And, the comfortable, easy thing is to toss it and get something else. Since my spending freeze, that's not an option I'm taking now. It's encouraged me to look at my attitude toward what I have and the best way to maintain it.

I've tried to not buy into the media selling the idea's of needing new this and perfect that and yet, I find it's still somehow it's permeated my consciousness. I've spent time reevaluating my actions and thought about how I want to live my life. It's important to me to use my resources wisely. Recommitting to the belief of using things up and using things until they are worn out.

Today, I spent a short amount of time mending my favorite jammie bottoms and a camisole. I was unable to wear either for a few months and now they are back in my closet ready to go. Both had minor issues and were repaired with very little resources other than my time and some thread. These two items are done and I'm sure there are more mending to add to my about you?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mixing, rolling, shaping, baking...

Several batches were made today to restocked the freezer. A couple that are baked and a couple to be baked and one to boil, later. It's a good feeling to have some staple items in the freezer to help ward off those nights when I'm tired and don't want to cook everything from scratch. Our new inventory includes two kinds of pizza dough(GF & regular), bagels, GF noodles and GF bread. Should hold us for a week or two.

There's a big savings in making gluten free items from scratch and helpful to keep a supply on hand. I was able used my homemade rice milk in a couple of gluten free baking recipes. And...a drummer roll please.....the rice milk experiment was successful!!! Next time, I'll increase the amount of rice milk to line up with my normal baking and cooking patterns. It was a day of mixing, rolling, shaping and baking!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Got Milk?

In an effort to learn to use what I have in the pantry and decrease the amount we are spending, I'm continuing to try new things. Today, I made homemade rice milk. I've bought it a few times, but find it's a little steep since it's usually more than a dollar a quart here. It takes a little time, but I have time to spare right now and this can be easily planned into our usual routine. There are some baking recipes I regularly make that call for milk and this is a great alternative to using the regular milk, it will save money consistently.

The recipe is simple, bring a quart of water and a quarter cup of brown rice to a boil (yes, the milk will be white). Cover and simmer for an hour. Let it cool slightly and put in the blender till fine. Strain with a metal sieve, might need a couple times through. Store in fridge. My plan is to use this mainly for baking and cooking. To use with cereal, add a little vanilla and / or sweetener after straining.

This is one more skill, to be able to get around not having milk and using a economical substitute. Options are always good to life's little questions, like ... Got Milk?

Back to First's on the First

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Mess....of GF Noodles

As a kid in my grandma's kitchen, she often said 'I'm going to make a mess of noodles' or 'a mess of peas' or 'a mess of berries'. It wasn't a batch or a recipe, but a mess and that seemed incredibly funny to me, who had learned to associate a mess with a thing to be avoided from my parents. My grandma's messes were fun and yummy!

So, today after much procrastination, I made gluten free noodles. I came upon a recipe at Knights and Maidens and thought it looked like it easy and with good results. I wish I could say I followed the recipe exactly, but, I was distracted added too much potato starch, adjusted the corn starch to off set it and added two extra egg yolks left from making bread. The results were great! I plan on trying again, maybe even following the recipe as written. Either way, one more activity tried and learned. One mess down! Lots to go....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mini Garden

Since the house up for sale, this is not the year to attempt a big garden plan. So, I've started a box indoors with lettuce, radishes and green onions. The lack of light here doesn't seem to help them out any. They sprouted well, but seem to be a little slow in maturing. They may get there with a little more time.

Outside I've started two 1' square planters. The first has corn, small white beans and hopefully a zucchini, the other is tomato, lettuce, radishes and green onion seeds. Its just a small drop in the bucket of veggies we will eat this summer, but there is something incredibly exciting in putting little tiny seeds into the ground and watching them become bigger, colorful, fragrant and individual in there taste and shapes. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to watch, when they sprout and spread their little leaves in the sun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Candy....

Okay...I'm not sure this is a skill that is necessary, just wanted. It's something, I've been unable to do in the past. Today, I made candy, mainly for Easter. This year since I'm not working I'm using what I have as much as possible from the pantry. A recipe came my way for Peanut Butter Balls and I realized this is an enjoyed candy by my girls.

So, a few tweaks to the recipe to fit what we currently have in the pantry and Voila...chocolate covered Almond/Peanut Butter Balls. Well, once the ball was rolling, we now have chocolate covered marshmallow bunnies and a pan of English Toffee with chocolate on top. Yummy!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


As I wonder down the path towards my farm, it's my intention to learn, develop and practice skills that will enhance and aid our daily lives. I've spent time in the past year learning to can, baking homemade bread and bagels, working on home repairs, researching energy options, looking at animals, etc.

So, after foraging around the local grocery stores and pouncing on a price reduced gallon of whole milk and getting it home. We have succeeded in creating our first batch of homemade paneer cheese, which is curing in the refrigerator. All this is a brand new experience, a new opportunity to be a little more able to sustain ourselves. It was a small adventure, here where I am today, on my way....

Friday, January 30, 2009

Guinea Fowl

Any time I hear someone mention Guinea Fowl, I think of Notting Hill. Where Julia Roberts is a vegetarian and tells the host of the dinners she's at 'Best Guinea Fowl I've ever had'. It makes me smile, I'm not sure I knew what exactly a Guinea Fowl was, but have found out it is not the little squab I thought it was.

Guinea Fowl known for being a farmers dog, they also, eat all kinds of bugs, ticks and take on snakes, too. This is my kind of fowl! I hear they are noisy, so, we'll need to check into taming that. What a nice surprise, tick control and they are entertaining as well.

Might get their own reality TV show.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Farm Quest

Today's the day...The beginning of the Farm Quest, a least online.

It will take some time to have all the pieces ready to go and the economy isn't helping us out with that right now, either. So, I want to take time to look at the things we can do now to prepare, plan, and put into place. Skills that we might need to have, equipment for projects, resources to refer to, big buckets of humor and I'm sure much, much more. This is our journey, the first keyed in step on our Farm Quest.