Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Our new addition is a Cannon Power Shot A2000 IS. LOVE IT!
Now we can participate in Sunday Stills; Check out their blog for the details. I cannot wait! This Sunday's photo challenge flowers & plants. Now that warm weather has set in (for now), blooms and such are easy to come by.
Then there is Bench Mondays, a flickr group. Take a picture of your feet on a bench, not to complicated, eh? That is until you ask someone to help you by taking the picture. If they thought you were a bit odd before, that is the definate impression now.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
For now. Some of you remember when we first installed the wood cook stove - food has never tasted so good! Now that the weather has warmed, we can no longer stand to be in the house when this stove is in operation and have begun to use the electric range. Thoughts have now turned to cleaning the stove and closing the chimney (keep birds and bats out) until it is time to fire her up in the fall. Yes I used the female pronoun to describe our cook stove - the nurturer.
Now I cannot remember the last time I used the dryer to dry something - perhaps over the winter to dry sheets when it was too cold outside. Yes, some of our sheets did ice up on the line! Was an interestingly crunchy sounding feel. Anyway, we do not use the dryer and our hot water is heated by the outside wood furnace so the electric stove was the only real electrical sucking appliance we were using (other than the fridge). Would you believe that it only made a $30 difference in our electric bill??? Our usage was down by almost 100 kwh to 605 kwh for the month. Where we were zapped (no pun intended) was the amount of money that our local electric coop buys the electricity. Would you believe that Virginia imports more power than is produced in state?? I am trying to not be ill. The rep was impressed at what we were able to reduce our electrical usage to such a 'small' number. 605 still seems too big to me.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Does anyone other than me remember this rhyme? As a little girl I had wondered about what curds and whey were and from where this phrase came. This weekend I had the opportunity to check it out.
Now that the girls are not drinking as much milk, we have a surplus. Ronnie and I both enjoy cottage cheese and Julie suggested I give it a try so this seemed like an easy enough recipe:
- 1 gal 2% milk (i used raw)
- 1/2 vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
Oh my it was sooo yummy and easy to make! Now my cheese was not as smooth as what one would buy in the store; the recipe said that cream could be added to make the consistency smoother. I have read from other bloggers about what to do with the whey (was that you Phelan?). Looks like I have more googling to do!
UPDATE: Rhonda, over at down to earth, just posted about making yoghurt and quark (reminds me of cottage cheese). I may try this next.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Balance; Quite the buzz word in some circles. For us it is the balance between work/school and home/family. Families today are different than families when I was growing up and are definitely different then when my parents and grandparents were young. I am the child of divorced parents and have been divorced twice myself (Oops, there's a skeleton!). My girls are from my first marriage. Families become more complicated as you add members, including boyfriends with kids and ex spouses of their own. Dealing with each other's children can be challenging.
I've said all that to bring us to Sharon's interesting post titled Blessing or Burden where she discusses kids and when they begin to contribute to the household.
I observed that in Nigeria, I’d read that the average child begins to contribute more to the household than she eats by the age of 6. I wondered at what age most American children contribute more to the households they live in than they consume? For many blue collar households, I’d imagine it is 16-18. For the most affluent families, who subsidize graduate education, it might well be nearly 30 - or later.I know my grandparents definitely contributed to their households at a very young age, my parents some and perhaps not quite as much (mom grew up with servants). My sister and I contributed by means of household chores, however, I do not remember that either of us paying rent to either parent. Christine moved away to college and I moved from my mother's house to my father's, to a roommate's, and then I married.
My lack of 'contribution' has me wondering if I have shortchanged my girls (and me) by not forcing more help around the house & property; by trying to be a better parent and allow the girls time to participate in sports, I may have fallen into a different set of troubles. They both spend much time reading and studying, which is great for school, not so great for chores at the house.
Education is important and I am not advocating lower educational goals in favor of weeding the garden; I am saying that there needs to be more of a balance. Both girls are in advanced English and play sports or participate in the strength and conditioning class sponsored by the school and wellness center - yes, we actually have a wellness center! No stop lights, just weights!
Katelyn is 'recovering' from stress induced severe stomach cramping -playing two sports, trying to keep up with school work and then my grumbling about the lack of help around the house (probably no so much this one as the other two). Both sports have since gone. I did not have the opportunity to play sports in school and have tried to give both girls opportunities that I did not have. They are talented athletes. Back to the question, where is the balance?
Friday, April 24, 2009
The dandelion wine is ready for bottling and sitting. What to use as bottles... Hmmm... I work at the restaurant part time so why not put all those empty wine bottles to use! It would appear that as long as these bottles are sterilized, there is no problem. Now the challenge is in the corking. Many sites say not to reuse the twist top caps as one cannot create a tight seal. I cannot afford to spent $50+ on a corking machine and Will from HomeBrewTalk.com says this
I just experimented getting a cork into an (empty) screw top wine bottle with a hammer (Placed a short dowel over the cork and hit that) and it worked great - guess that should be okay as the upwards force on the bottle came from my counter top...You want to use the force from the bottom of the bottle instead of around the next so as to not break the glass (it is thinnest in the neck). I am assuming that he is using a new cork so the old one would not flavor the homebrew. Anyone have thoughts on using the twist top and then use a wax seal on the outside to make it air tight?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Yesterday Ashley and I picked the blooms, pulled out the petals and starting them soaking. Tomorrow I will boil and bottle. Now this is not for the in-a-hurry drinkers; It'll be at least a year before we will get to taste.
I have posted in the past about baking bread and then switched out to biscuits. Baking bread at home has turned out very well and yet now I appear to be challenged on how to store these items so mold or dry air do not make them inedible (worms love it though!). I'd rather not use plastic and it appears that there are several non plastic items to choose from: wood, metal, stone or paper (if crusty bread). Ronnie has some wicked carpentry skills and I plan to ask him to make one like this. If I ever decided that plastic was 'ok', this is what I would make! Soulemama has a great post about cloth bread bags here.
Now that I have a way to store it, finding a bread recipe that we are all happy with is the next challenge. I found, what I thought, was a cool pumpernickel recipe and though it started out well, once it started to bake, the top kinda fell. =/ This almost no knead recipe looks worthy of a try.
Almost Posie’s No-Knead Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup oat bran
¼ cup ground flax seed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 packages dry yeast (or 4½ tsp if you buy your yeast in bulk)
1 cup water
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cups additional flour
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine the water, milk, and vegetable oil. Heat the liquids until warm, then mix in the egg.
Stir the liquids into the flour mixture. Beat for 3 minutes, vigorously by hand or on medium speed with a mixer, then stir in the remaining flour by hand.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 50 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Stir it down, then spoon into a well-greased 6″ x 9″ loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes.
NOTE: made this bread tonite and if you do not have oat bran, just toss some old fashion oats into the blender and make your own! Oh, and I forgot to throw in the Flax seed. Seems to have turned out ok. =)
Friday, April 17, 2009
In the meantime, our County has published a comprehensive plan and in several pages they unwittingly make a cause for backyard chickens. On page 38, under housing goals, the County wants to:
Ensure that the County's natural beauty, environmental quality, and rural character are not sacrificed when planning for future housing opportunities.Then we move to the Economy objective section:
Revitalize the farming community in Bath CountyAnd then on pg 81 under Land Use:
Since development can either enhance or distract from a community, land use policies must reflect local cultural, natural and historic attributes. They must also provide for fair and equitable treatment of all landowners.There are additional places within the Land Use section that continue along the protection of the rural flavor of our county. To respond to the above highlighted sentence, my home originally had both chickens and hogs, which satisfies the cultural, historic and natural 'requirements'. I spoke with our local environmental advisor and he said that a penned or chained dog does more environmental damage than chickens; he is willing to put this into writing. As for fair and equitable treatment of all landowners, you cannot deny someone chickens in an R1 when you spot zone to allow horses. See, it is all about who has the money and who does not. I fall under the 'has not' (in case that was ever a question).
Today has been an incredible day for posts - not from me but from other amazing ladies. Matron posted this amazing recipe - easy enough to cook, simple ingredients. I will prepare it this weekend and hopefully have enough for lunch the next day. Now our garden is just getting started so my ingredients will need to come from the store instead of the back yard =( so when we had out, I will grab a few extra items to start towards our food pantry. Sharon makes an excellent point in her post, Friday Food Storage - and Food Pantry - Quickie; pick up just one or two additional items for the pantry on each trip you make to the store. Lastly is Rhonda's Just do it. She says it so succinctly,
Deliberate living is deciding what you want your life to become, working out the steps you need to take to make that happen, then, as Elizabeth said, just do it. You will still get life throwing the unexpected at you, but when it happens, you work to solve the problem, then you get back on track.Amen.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Now our vermiculture set up is by no means glamorous. We do not have one of those commercially produced worm bins; a Rubbermaid green bin from K-mart with small holes drilled into the bottom for drainage, and larger holes towards the top and in the lid for ventilation. This evening we sorted the worms from their gold and we will use direct in the garden as well as make some worm tea; soak collected matter, strain and then spray or pour.
Now for a completely different tangent, isn't this one of the cutest projects?? The tutorial can be found here.
Along crafting lines, various envelope templates can be found here and a bird house, from recycled pallets and various what nots, here.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The address, in it's entirety, can be found here.
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can excercise their constitutional right of amending it, or excercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This past weekend was busy: we picked up eggs from a friend and got to see her new additions! We want some piggies of our own. =) We also brought in more wood, hopefully enough to last the rest of the spring and start off the fall, and completed other tasks.
I also used Kathie's recipe to make crackers. They turned out really well; however, the family would like something a bit more salty. I posted a picture of her recipe as I cannot seem to find it on her blog.
The cold frame is working very well and we have little lettuces beginning to come up (whoo hoo!). Along those lines, I need to remember this post about row covers.
When one has a wood furnace or wood cook stove, lots of wood is burned thus producing a pile of ashes. What to do with all this new material? Numerous websites recommend it as an excellent lime replacement with a note of caution to not use too much of it or the akaline in the soil will increase. This is fine if the plants there are low acidity. I continued the search and found more excellent uses here:
Use wood ashes to:On the same lines, a cool article from Mother Earth news about Soap Making In The Bush including a diagram for making your very own leaching barrel.
1. De-skunk pets. A handful rubbed on Fido's coat neutralizes the lingering odor.
2. Hide stains on paving. This Old House technical editor Mark Powers absorbs wet paint spatters on cement by sprinkling ash directly on the spot; it blends in with a scuff of his boot,
3. Enrich compost. Before the organic compound get applied to soil, enhance its nutrients by sprinkling in a few ashes, says the host of radio's You Bet Your Garden, Mike McGrath. Adding too much, though, ruins the mix.
4. Block garden pests. Spread evenly around garden beds, ash repels slugs and snails.
5. Melt ice. TOH building editor Tom Baker finds it adds traction and de-ices without hurting soil or concrete underneath.
6. Control pond algae. One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassiumm to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth,
7. Pump up tomatoes. For the calcium-loving plants, McGrath places 1/4 cup right in the hole when planting,
8. Clean glass fireplace doors. A damp sponge dipped in the dust scrubs away sooty residue.
9. Make soap. Soaking ashes in water makes lye, which can be mixed with animal fat and then boiled to produce soap. Salt makes it harden as it cools.
10. Shine silver. A paste of ash and water makes a dandy nontoxic metal polisher.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
- Mexican punched tin niches
- Picture album
- Emboss the top
- Beauty Kit
- Helper tins
- Mini purse - I love this one!
- Pocket shrines
- Survival kit
- travel candle
Now I just need to be able to store my 'stash' out of the way so BF doesn't ask me to pitch them. =)
My paternal grandparents, who are now in their mid 90's, grew up during the depression. Granddaddy has had several mini strokes and now has difficulty remembering the past. My Dad, thankfully, had the forsight to create DVDs that document both of their lives. These DVDs include pictures, narative and some voice snippets from each grandparent. When I get to visit them, I often ask Grandmother how they did a certain activity back when she was a little girl. On one of my last visits I asked how they kept bread from molding. She explained that they did not make loaf bread like we do now.; they ate biscuits and corn bread. It was made fresh at each meal and was just enough to feed the 8 kids, parents & grands, and 2 farm hands. I enjoy listening to her talk about the past.
On my mother's side, Grandfather is still living (103) and sadly my Grandmaman passed at 99. He was a foreign service officer who fell in love with a Belgium girl. It is her maiden name that I adopted after my divorce (Lanniee). Unfortunately I did not get a chance to speak with her about her growing up years and hope to learn part of that past from my mother and aunt. Grandfather is old enough now that asking him about the past sometimes gets a response, sometimes now - and that is if his hearing aid is in and working! =)
Thankfully both of my girls know both sets of their great-grandparents on both sides. Which reminds me, I need to visit them more!
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Nothing new on the garden end, yet. Seedling containers in the sill still look like empty potting soil - insert tomatoes here. Perhaps it is not yet warm enough in that window to prompt growth. *shrugs* I do not have anything high tech to start seeds - a clear Tupperware tub with a lid sitting in front of the window. It looks like a large terrarium with little seed starter doodads in it. I'll have to post a picture as I am sure some will find it very entertaining!
Items that still need doing:
- finish the last bedroom upstairs in time for my sisters visit in June (are you still coming?)
- finish the upstairs bath in time... see end of first item.
- mud the upstairs hallway and down the stairs - paint same. Not a requirements for sister's visit.
- finish identifying edible weeds in the yard - Oh, I have begun collecting dandelion blooms to make dandelion wine this year. The buds do not close when frozen - something I did not know until recently. Crunchy blooms.
- build magno-electric wind mill for electricity generation (for water heater, frig, computers)
- weed-eat (not literally. Use gas powered machinery) BF empty lot so Matt can plow and disc a new garden site (see land for sale link on sidebar). Potatoes and beans will go here.
- complete planning of garden.