Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year Approaching!

Well, as the New Year makes it's approach, my thoughts turn to what I accomplished this past year and what I hope to accomplish in the New Year. I had so many changes in the past year! I moved---twice! Lost my job and am now mama/farmer to goats chickens and teen-agers.
I don't have any regrets over the past year. I view every experience as a chance to learn something new.

Now, going into the New Year, I have a few hopes. I hesitate to call them *resolutions* as I find that doing that seems to doom all my good resolves to failure!
What I HOPE to accomplish in 2011:
1) Get in better shape physically. This is vague enough that I don't feel I have to name specifics; such as "Lose 45 pounds by April" or other such nonsense.
2) Work harder on my food storage.
3) Have a decent garden.
4) Get all goats producing milk and on a schedule I can deal with. (Milkers out there know what I am talking about!)
5) Find at least 2 sources of income to help with household expenses and savings.

That's about it! Not a long list, but there's a lot of work to be done there!
So...what are your hopes for the New Year?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Back from Christmas Holiday!

I took a bit of a holiday from blogging as I just needed to focus on the *home front* here.
The days leading up to Yule were a bit frenzied here---as they usually are---and I barely had time to get all the things done that needed doing, so my blog fell by the wayside!

We baked cookies. LOTS of cookies. I am officially "cookied out"!

And, although I used fabric and reusable bags and such to wrap presents, others did not, so we did end up with a big bag of wrapping paper trash....sigh.

Christmas dinner was a HUGE amount of work....and s-o-o-o-o-o-o worth it!
We had ham and duck.
Let me pause to wax rhapsodic about duck......
Duck is the ambrosia of poultry. A food for the gods that we mere mortals can also enjoy.
Crisp succulent duck skin should be a food group all by itself.
I roasted two ducks. One was devoured within the first 20 minutes of dinner.
Preparing duck is easy.
Rinse the bird, including the interior. Sprinkle a little salt inside it. Cut up an apple into slices and stuff in the interior and add a sprig of rosemary. Rub butter on the exterior of the duck. Pop it in an oven at 325 and roast 1/2 hour for each pound.
Take out of oven and let rest 10 minutes before you carve.
Serve and devour.
I wrapped one picked clean carcass up in foil and tucked it in the freezer so that in a couple weeks I can make a lovely duck soup.
The other duck will be eaten today.
I saved the large amount of duck fat that cooked out during roasting the birds. I strained it well and it is now in the refrigerator.
Duck fat is fabulous for cooking and even for preserving.
Duck comfit anyone?
I simmered the gizzards and necks to make a broth and used that broth in my gravy and stuffing.
Best. Stuffing. Ever.
I made two kinds of stuffing (as I usually do). One was cornbread stuffing with apples and walnuts. The other was regular stuffing with sausage.
One of the most popular items I put on the table was also one of the simpliest.
I made a dip out of cream cheese and crushed pineapple and had sliced pears to dip in it.
Basically, half a package of cream cheese plus about 1/4 cup crushed pineapple mixed together real well.
It is also good on crackers and such.
Everyone waddled away from the table quite happy.

The best present I received was Boy and Girl2 cleaned my kitchen for me while I napped yesterday evening. My kitchen is absolutely SPOTLESS this morning! A more thoughtful gift than that I can't think of!

We have a bit of goats milk on the table now. Gabrielle had a little buck, now named Geordi, and though she has had kids before, she had never been milked before!
The first milking was quite the experience...for me and the goat!
She is getting more comfortable with milking, as am I. I give her a bit of sweet feed to encourage things along and make milking a more enjoyable time for her. I also put little Geordi where Mama can see him, so she doesn't get panic striken and think she has lost her baby.
Gabrielle is a very protective and attentive goat mama. Geordi is everything a baby goat should be. Cute, fuzzy, playful and a delight to watch as he scampers about.
Because he is a buck, we have only two choices.
Either we sell him when he is weaned....or we have him as dinner, perhaps for Easter.
Now, Girl 1 and Girl 2 and Boy are all highly distraught at the thought of us serving Geordi up as a main dish.
They think the fella and I are heartless and cruel for even considering doing that to cute little Geordi.
They have not yet gotten used to the reality of farm life.
We shall see what happens...maybe we will sell Geordi....maybe not!

Hope all of you had a great holiday...now it is back to the grind! (Not that I actually got a day off! Still had to feed the critters and milk the mama goat!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


If you have a facebook account, please vote for my I-Pad case design!
Vote HERE .

Garden Catalog Alert!

Yesterday I recieved in the mail my brand new:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Catalog for 2011
Oh dear lord, this is absolutely the most luscious, beautiful seed catalog EVER!
Order your own at www.rareseeds.com
 Yes, seed catalogs are going out and helping us gardening folk to dream about lush armfuls of vegetable bounty.
I plan my garden every year going through the catalogs I receive in December and January.
Baker Creek has become my *go to* seed catalog.
NO GMO seeds!

Seeds from around the world...some from plants that are, indeed, rare.
Heirloom seeds from the Amish and Mennonite farmers and from insular communities and old family farms in the South, in the Ozarks, etc.
Baker Seeds has also recently purchased a 200 year old seed company in the NorthEast US.
Comstock, Ferre & Company in Wethersfield, Conn.
You can order their seed catalog by writing them at:
Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC
263 Main Street
Wethersfield, CT 06109
They will be keeping the old seed stocks going...no gmo's, no hybrids...just the heirloom seed that comes back true, year after year.A lot of the seed is specific to the New England-North East US region, so that's good news for any of you in that area!

I strongly encourage everyone to buy from Baker Seeds.
No, I don't work for the company or get a kick-back from them....
I support them because they are trying to sustain and maintain heirloom seeds and they are supporters of home gardeners, seed savers, organic agriculture and community based agriculture.
They are very definitely ANTI GMO and ANTI Monsanto.

So order your seed catalog and join me in dreaming of gardens not yet sprouted!
Plan your gardens and get a jump start on next season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boy, do I Need a Camera!

We have a new baby here!
A goat baby!
Our Mama goat, Gabrielle gave birth last Saturday around 5 p.m. to a bouncing baby buck (boy). He has been named Geordi.
He is ADORABLE! Curly black fur with splashes of white and a bit of brown. A very lovely kid.
Now, we do not need male goats. We have a breeding goat. S-o-o-o-o-o-o, I made the suggestion that we let him fatten up a bit and then perhaps have roast goat for Easter....
Boy, did that suggestion fall over like a lead balloon!
Darlin' Man has now suggested that Geordi be sold...he has a couple of people that are interested.
I'll just enjoy the little cuss while he is little.
Mama Gabrielle's milk supply is getting well established and she will be milked for the first time on Friday. This is her third baby, so she is tending to Geordi quite well.
However, she has never been milked before as the person we bought her from actually raised goats as a hobby...never butchered them, never milked them. Sells a few now and again, but that's about it.
I expect the first milking will NOT go well!
But I got some sweet feed and have been convincing Gabrielle that I am not the enemy by hand feeding her a little every day. She trots to the pen gate when I go outside now looking for her treat. She and the other does follow me around when ever I go outside. One of the little does, Champagne, has taken to tugging or nibbling on my shirt or skirt when she is looking for a treat.
We put collars on the goats...boy, what a rodeo that was!Patches got her color first, then Gabrielle. Champagne turned out to be totally against the idea of a collar.
No, no, no! She didn't want one!
Champagne, small as she is, knocked me down, butted me when I got back up and finally pulled out her *big guns*...little sucker gored me in the arm! Not badly...bruised me more than anything else, very little blood.
Milking these goats is going to be an adventure!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's in YOUR Stockings? And Childhood Indulgences.

When I was growing up, my Christmas stockings (as well as those of my sisters) contained basically the same thing every year. A set with a hairbrush, comb and nailbrush. A set of days of the week panties. Socks. A pair of gloves. A tangerine, some walnuts in the shell. Candy.

When my kids were growing up, I put about the same things in my kids stockings, although I usually added a small toy or stuffed animal.
This year I have to fill stockings for Boy, Girl, my fella and (SURPRISE!), the fella's oldest daughter and his mother (who will both be joining us for the holiday)

Boy and Girl will both get hairbrush sets.Socks.Warm gloves and a warm hat. Tangerines and nuts in the shell and candy.
Older Girl will get a travel hairbrush set. Socks, warm gloves and hat. Tangerines and nuts in the shell and candy.
Fella will get socks, some hygiene items, handkerchiefs, tangerines and nuts and candy.

Problematic is Fella's Mom.
What do I put in HER stocking? I have never met her. Never even talked to her. Have NO CLUE what she likes and dislikes. I asked my fella for suggestions and his (typical) male response?
"I dunno...'Mom' stuff, I guess"
(Massive eye roll.....)
I can toss in the traditional tangerine, nuts and candy---just "upscale" the candy a bit (small box of Godiva chocolates, perhaps?). I doubt she needs the hairbrush set. Maybe some Isotoner gloves? I'll have to give this some more thought, I guess.

I have been catering to my childhood memories the past couple of days.
Tapioca pudding. I LOVE it! Haven't made it in ages, though. Picked up some tapioca the other day at the store and have made some every other day since.
I heartily recommend tapioca with raisins in it for breakfast. Also good with dried cranberries in it!
Mine was still warm when I dug into it. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......
Sometimes it helps to cater to your "inner child"---especially during the holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Wrap

I am making my Christmas present wrap again this year. I abhor paying for paper that is discarded after that one use!
This year I am using burlap....we have oodles of it that we got free and I am in the process of washing it to soften it up before using it.
Once it it is washed and dried, I will sew bags of various sizes to put gifts in.
I am using some acrylic craft paint and some stamps, so the burlap will have pretty designs, it won't be just plain, boring brown.
Out of my fabric stash, I will get calico ribbon to tie the bags. The bags can be used afterwards for many useful purposes.

I can't remember the last time I bought gift wrap!
I have loads of gift bags that I have saved from presents given to me. I use fabric, the comic section of the paper, plain white bauthers paper, brown paper grocery bags, etc.
Ribbons are twine, yarn, fabric...things I already have around the house.

If you use plain butchers paper, use craft paint to decorate. You can use stamps you already have or make stamps from potatoes! (Cut a potato in half, carve your design in the cut side) Let your little ones use their hands to *stamp* the paper with their wee hand prints. (Grandparents LOVE that gift wrap!)

If giving a gift to new parents for a baby, wrap the present in a receiving blanket and make a bow from pacifiers or baby hair accessories (for a girl).

They still sell flour is cloth sacks. Buy your flour that way and wash the sack when you use the flour up. Save those sacks for gift bags! Especially appropriate when you are giving kitchen items!

Recipients that sew or quilt always appreciate a gift wrapped in fabric!
If you are sending a gift to someone who is away from home for Christmas, consider wrapping their present in their hometown paper---not just the comic section! I once received  a gift from a friend wrapped in my hometown paper....I took great care in unwrapping my gift so I could read the paper---the wrapping was just as much of a gift as the contents!

Don't waste your hard earned on paper this year! The money you spend on paper and ribbon could be used to buy another gift or put a couple of extra items on your table! Look around your house and I am sure you will find some great stuff to wrap gifts in!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Zazzle Store

Shameless plug here!
I have a zazzle store....mainly tee shirts and stuff like that. I make a teeny bit of money in commissions...so if you are still looking for a present for a relative or a friend...or for yourself!....please check it out!
Here's one of the shirts:

Maybe a Christmas Ornament?

Perhaps a pair of high top sneakers?

I have a little bit of everything!
Go ahead and click on my link (over to the left...nudge, nudge, shove )
or just click here !

Christmas Preparation Commences! COOKIE RECIPES!!!

Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Winter Holiday...whatever you wish to call it....it is right around the corner! (Sorry I missed the start of Hanukkah!)
Almost all cultures/societies/religions have some sort of celebration in the colder winter season. I think humans need a holiday/feast day/celebration at this point of the year.
It is cold and possibly snowy. Everyone is getting cranky and showing signs of cabin fever. Spring is s-o-o-o-o-o far away. We have to have something to look forward to!
It seems all the celebrations involve LIGHT....Pagans have the Yule log and burning torches, Jews light the Menorah, Christians celebrate the arrival of the "Light of the World" and light candles and/or decorate trees with lights, various Asian cultures light lanterns for their celebrations.
And all us humans FEAST!
There is a special satisfaction in creating a meal of stupendous proportions in the depths of winter. The heady  aromas of roast meat, the enticing scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, the sweet smell of cookies and homemade candy wafting through the house. The table groaning under the unaccustomed weight of so much food!
And the cookies...oh, yes, the cookies! I adore baking cookies almost as much as I like eating them!
This year I will have snickerdoodles, spritz, Scottish shortbread, sugar cookies, jam thumbprints, and several others. I will also bake gingerbread cookies.
I pack a lot of cookies into tins to give as gifts. Last year my Darlin' Man was in Iraq and I sent about 30 pounds of cookies to him, which he shared with other guys (and gals) in his unit.The snickerdoodles were the most sought after!

Snickerdoodles (Please read ENTIRE recipe before starting!)
Makes three dozen 3 to 4-inch cookies. Your mileage will vary by the size scoop you use.
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400°, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls.If you can't wait for it to chill, don't scoop, pinch off dough and roll into balls.
Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown much, if at all), about 10-12 minutes.. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. In theory, they can be stored in an airtight container up to two weeks, but I say good luck with that! They are SO GOOD warm from the oven!!!
Now, if you don't have Cream of Tartar in your baking pantry, use TWO teaspoons of baking powder and proceed with recipe.If you don't have an ice cream scoop, pinch off chunks of dough and roll into balls about the size of a ping pong ball (about an inch in diameter or a little less), roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place balls on cooking sheet and squash down with the a drinking glass (that's what I normally do)
These cookies ship well, so if you are mailing them, pack them tightly in a tin, layering wax or parchment paper between each layer.
They are terrific with a mug of hot chocolate, cup of coffee or cup of hot tea or mulled cider. They also work well with a glass of cold milk...so it's the perfect cookie to leave out for Santa!

I know a lot of folks out there are dieting...but this is not a recipe for dieters! Never, EVER substitute margarine for butter---the results will NOT be "just as good"--it will screw up the baking, the flavor, the texture...margarine will just screw up cookies---period!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies


  • 2/3 cup butter softened slightly
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup strawberry preserves or apricot jam or orange marmalade or blackberry or raspberry seedless jam 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Gradually mix in flour.
  3. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in finely chopped walnuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down center of each with thumb.Fill thumbprint with scant teaspoon of jam. You can wait until cookies are cool to fill thumbprint with jam, but I am always so busy, it is easier for me to fill before baking.I usually mix it up a bit so that there are a variety of jams--that one of someone doesn't like strawberry jam, they can nibble away on the ones filled with blackberry or apricot jam!
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. If you are shipping cookie, layer with wax or parchment paper, otherwise they will stick together. These will keep pretty well for about a week.

Christmas morning here will find my household opening gifts while having a traditional (for me) breakfast:
Big mugs of hot chocolate and Scottish Shortbread!
I luvs me some Scottish Shortbread!!!

Scottish Shortbread
This Martha Stewarts recipe, that I used last year...turned out REALLY good!

  • 1 1/3 cups (2 sticks plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan, and line bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until just combined.

  • Press dough into prepared pan, leveling and smoothing the top. Using a dough scraper or the back of a knife, cut dough lengthwise into nine strips, each slightly less than 1 inch wide. Cut the strips crosswise into thirty-six 3-inch bars. Using the tines of a fork or a wooden skewer, create a decorative pattern on the surface.

  • Bake shortbread until evenly pale golden, but not browned, 70 to 85 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Invert pan, and remove parchment. Turn shortbread over, and carefully break, or cut with a serrated knife, into bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

  • For a yummy variation, dip one end of each bar in dark chocolate!

    I might use this recipe this year and see how it goes...


    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)


    1. Mix the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the crumbs are pea size and begin to stick together.
    3. Knead the dough with hands until smooth.
    4. Roll dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, put on buttered parchment sheet on cookie sheet or directly on buttered cookie sheet. Cut before baking into bars, squares or wedges and prick dough at regular intervals with fork.
    5. Bake in a 325°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bottom starts to brown. Remove from oven and dust lightly with powdered sugar if desired.
    6. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

    The nice thing about Scottish Shortbread is that it tastes better after being stored for about a week or two, so it is PERFECT to make ahead or ship! Shortbread is, in fact, good after a month, if stored in an airtight container.

    Now, I am hungry, lol! And not a cookie in the house (yet!).
    Enjoy the season! Enjoy the baking!
    Enjoy the cookies!!!

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Thanksgiving Week Count Down!

    So, Thursday is Thanksgiving and I am planning a traditional menu.
    Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, two kinds of stuffing, green beans almondine (NOT the slimy, icky green bean casserole that I abhor!), homemade cranberry relish/sauce, carrot-pineapple salad (a favorite of mine!), broccoli with butter sauce, dinner rolls, cherry pie, apple pie and a fresh veggie plate.
    I'll be baking the pies tomorrow, making the carrot-raisin salad and cranberry relish on Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, I will make sure the turkey is thawed out, if it isn't, I'll do the cold water bath until it is and start cooking it around 3 a.m.I will start my bread dough then as well. Everything else can be done within two hours of serving...which will be around 2 p.m.
    Simple menu, a lot of do-ahead stuff. I have Girl and Boy and the Darlin' Man assisting me, so I will be able to sleep for a while after I put the turkey in.
    YAY! for family backing you up!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    On Your Mark, Get Ready.....STARTER!!!

    The past few days I have made bread twice. Not a packet of yeast in the house. Yet my bread was light and yeasty with a fine texture and a light *crumb*, as they say in baking circles.
    I use a *starter*.
    A good starter is worth it's weight in gold! I know of some families that use starters that date back 100 or even 200 years!
    I made my starter a month ago.
    When I made bread, I saved one cup of the dough, put it in a clean jar, added a teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 cup warm water, stirred it up, tightly capped it and stored it in my refrigerator. I shake it a bit every few days and once a week add a teaspoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. If it looks a bit dry, I add a bit of warm water.

    When I make bread, I spoon out about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of starter into the bowl I am going to make my bread dough in. In the *starter* jar, I add 1/2 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup (or so) of flour and store it in the fridge for next time.
    When you use a starter, it can take a while longer for your bread to rise. Some folks recommend letting your dough rise 24 hours, but I never have the time to do that!
    I generally add an hour or two to the rising time.

    Now, for sourdough lovers out there, you make your starter an entirely different way!
    Sourdough starters are usually made by *capturing* wild yeast. I am currently making my own.
    Step one, boil a potato in it's skin. Yes, you can cut it up to speed things up. SAVE YOUR POTATO WATER! You'll need two cups of potato water.
    Go ahead, eat the potato, I'll wait.
    Now, take that two cups of potato water, put it in a ceramic crock or glass jar.
    Add 2 cups of flour to it and stir well.
    Add 2 teaspoons of honey and stir well.
    Now, I use a piece of cheesecloth *rubber banded* over the top of the crock/jar, but some folks leave it uncovered.
    Just set it on top of your fridge or in any other *sorta* warm place in your house. Some folks set the crock/jar outside (covered with cheesecloth, I hope!). Let it set for 4 to 6 days, stirring it 3 or 4 times a day to aerate.
    It should begin to smell *yeasty* and get bubbles in it. The yeasty smell will have a bit of a sharp-sour smell to it that is different from regular yeast bread.
    Store in your refrigerator and treat sourdough starter as you do a regular starter.
    Use as you would the regular starter.
    Remember to always *feed* your starters and to replace any used with flour and water with a smidge of sugar or honey!

    I know...yeast is available as close as your grocery store, but as a *prepper*, I realize that my local grocery store might not always be there! Also, *starters* give bread more *personality* and flavor than commercially available yeast. If you run out of those convenient packets of yeast and don't have the time or inclination to run to the store, it is comforting to know you have starter sleeping away in your fridge, just waiting to wake up and perform for you!

    Think of your starters as legacies for your family as well. It used to be a tradition for young brides to receive starters from their mothers (or new mother-in-laws) to set up housekeeping.Some starters have been in families for 100, 200 or even 300 years!
    I know of one family that had such a *legacy* starter, brought into the US by immigrant ancestors from Ireland. It had withstood the uncertainties of time and travel for over a hundred years. In the 1960s, a *modern* daughter, disgusted at the smell and of the mindset that "bread is best purchased at the grocery store", threw it out after the death of her mother! Along with the little hand made crock it was kept in.
    What a loss! A strain of yeast is gone and can never be reproduced.
    I think we should bring back the tradition of mothers handing down starters to their newly married daughters (and sons). Bread is known as the "staff of life" and in giving starters, we are giving them our heartfelt wish that they will have a happy and long life!

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Aeronautical Hens and Water Buckets and Kim Chi, Oh My!

    Today was a typical Saturday.
    Darlin' Man and Girl and Boy were home. Darlin' Man fed the critters around 6:30 a.m. I got up and made pancakes.
    After breakfast, we did a bit of clean up in the yard.
    I went back in the house to start a batch of kim-chi and also to get some bread dough started.
    Boy wandered out of his room and gulped down a bowl of cereal and went out to assist his dad.
    A neighbor had given us some chicken wire and Darlin' Man and Boy were making some alterations to the coop. They let the chickens out in the yard and two hens, Miss Priscilla and Zoe, tried out their aeronautical abilities...right over the fence and into a neighbors yard! This neighbor has quite a pack of dogs, some of which could be termed "chicken aggressive". Darlin' Man leaped over the fence and retrieved the hens before any damage was done. Boy came in and informed me that my talents were need to clip the wings of the "fly girls" before they got themselves into any more trouble.
    I was literally elbow deep in kim chi fixins' at that point!
    But, I grabbed my utility shears and headed out.
    Catching the hens was easy. I snipped the first five feathers on each wing quite a bit shorter. The hens weren't too distraught over the procedure and went back to their scratching as soon as I put them back on the ground. Since Zoe and Chloe are the same breed and size, I went ahead and clipped Chloe's wings as well.

    As for the kim-chi, the Darlin' Man got very fond of it during his time stationed in Korea, so I make a good sized batch every month.
    Basic recipe:
    1 Napa Cabbage
    1 Large Cucumber
    1 Bok Choy
    1 to 2 bunches Green Onions
    2 inches Ginger Root, peeled and sliced very thin
    1/4 cup salt
    1 cup Korean red pepper (ground)
    3 tablespoons minced garlic

    Wash all vegetables and slice into 1 inch pieces. Put sliced vegetables and sliced ginger in LARGE non-reactive bowl and sprinkle salt over all. Pour in enough water to cover and cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 24 hours.
    After 24 hours, drain liquid off vegetables (SAVE that liquid!). Pour one cup of ground red pepper and 3 tablespoons minced garlic over vegetables and mix in well. Pack in one gallon jar. It might be a tight fit, but it can be done! Slowly add in saved brine until jar is full. Tightly cap jar and place in cool (not cold!), dark place (Back shelf in your pantry?) for 3 days. Open on third day. Refrigerate after you open it! The smell will knock most people on their butts--but it is supposed to smell like that! It's called lacto-fermentation.Same principle behind yogurt and sauerkraut.
    It is good for you, gets all sort of useful enzymes playing around in your digestive systems.
    Some studies have shown kim-chi can be useful in treating colds and flu and researchers are looking into kim-chi as a dietary immune system booster as well. Koreans also claim it wards off cancer...and since Korea has low levels of many types of cancer, maybe there is something to that!
    I use kim-chi as a chilled side dish, I mix it into pancake batter along with some shredded pork to make kim-chi pancakes.and generally serve it whenever any Asian dish is on the table!

    Today, we also put in *soaker buckets* beside each of our fruit and nut trees.
    I live in a very dry climate.If you water trees, about 70% of that water can be lost through evaporation before the tree can absorb it into their parched root system. So, the trees here are a bit stunted and produce little fruit as, like all living things, they are just trying to survive in this climate!
    We have plenty of 5 gallon buckets that we get at a local bakery.
    We drill 4 or 5 teensy holes near the bottom of each bucket --on one side of the bucket only.
    Then we dig a hole beside the tree deep enough and wide enough to put the bucket in, with about one inch above ground level.
    When we put the bucket in the hole, we make sure the holes we drilled in the bucket are facing the tree.
    We fill the buckets at sundown and the water s-l-o-w-l-y seeps into the ground at a level where it is more easily accessible to the trees root system.
    If we water in the morning, we put the lids on the 5 gallon buckets after they are filled with water to stave off evaporation.
    We can also fertilize with the bucket system. Strained manure tea works well for this.

    That's my Saturday...how did yours go?

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Added Value. Do You Look For It?

    When shopping, do you look for products that give you "added value" for your money?
    Obvious examples of this are;Flour that comes in a fabric flour sack and jelly and jam that come in drinking glasses.
    You may not have to pay extra for products that have that "added value", either. The flour I buy in 10 and 20 pound sacks is priced less than national brands that come in paper packaging. The quality is just as good.
    The patterns are sweet and charming. Old fashioned patterns in plaids, gingham's and calico.
    I have found jelly and jams packaged in many different types of glassware, from mason jars to champagne glasses!
    Less obvious products come with "added value", as well.
    Oatmeal. Those round oatmeal containers, once made of easily destroyed light cardboard are now made of heavy duty stuff, some brands even use a light plastic. The oatmeal rounds are great for many purposes. My kids used to make them into banks and also keep their crayons and markers in them.. I use them to put yarn in (attention knitters!). You cut a hole in the top (very small), thread your yard through the hole and then can easily use your yarn without it getting snarled or batted across the room by the cat. I also use Oatmeal rounds to store some spices, tea, my fried chicken dredging mix, etc. I use a Sharpie to mark on the top the contents. You can also cover the rounds with Contact paper in a color or pattern to match your kitchen and affix a pretty label--if the aesthetics of the oatmeal label don't appeal to you.
    Coffee Cans. I don't drink coffee, but all my friends that do give me their cans. I LOVE coffee cans! In the tool room they are perfect for nails, screws, nuts and bolts. In the kitchen they are handy for all kinds of storage. If you use them in the kitchen, wash them out pretty well, otherwise whatever you store may end up with a coffee flavor that you didn't want. Some coffees come in plastic type jugs with a handle. I use one of those to put chicken feed in. Very convenient in the morning!
    Bleach bottles. The one gallon bleach bottle is very versatile! Some people use them for water storage. I use some for seedling planters (cut off the top and punch in some drainage holes) and turn the top into a scoop (useful for my chicken feed!).
    Glass jars...pickles, spaghetti sauce, etc. I use jars such as these to store anything you can imagine. A pickle jar does duty as a pen/pencil holder on my desk. A spaghetti sauce jar holds beads for crafts in my sewing area. I soak the labels off and fill some with my home-made bath salts to give for gifts (remember to paint the lids or cover them with a scrap of pretty fabric!).
    Remember when you buy groceries or anything at all, for that matter, to look for "added value" in the packaging!
    Added benefit to the planet is that the more you can reuse the packaging, the less you will be tossing in your local landfill!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    New Arrivals and a Backyard Battle Royale!

    Darlin' Man had to stop by the feed store to pick up feed for the chickens and dogs. While there he saw they had just gotten some new chickens! They sell chickens--from hatchling chicks to full grown. He picked out a couple of gorgeous full grown young hens and brought them home!
    They are both Rock Island hens, black and white barred.
    We named them Chloe and Zoe. Red, the rooster, was all agog at their loveliness and spent the rest of the day trying to snuggle up to them.The new girls were having none of his amorous advances and perched themselves on the top of the laying box structure...well out of Reds reach. We have had them two days now and while Zoe continues to be a bit stand-offish towards Red, Chloe has warmed up to him.

    Wang, the buck goat, is still languishing in his bachelor quarters. Yesterday, he made a bid to rejoin his harem in the big goat pen--which turned into a wild and woolly afternoon for me!
    Wang had been forlornly bleating, letting us all know his displeasure at being separated from his girls. He added butting his head into the pen gate to his repertoire.Somehow he finally nudged the chain off the gate and dashed out. Unfortunately, our large, goofy German Shepherd, Andy, was outside.Andy is now about 8 months old, still full of puppy energy and, frankly, not the brightest dog.
    Well, Andy channeled the predator in his little doggie heart and went in to attack.
    Now, in the wild, male goats protect their flocks from many predators. Coyotes, wolves, cougars, even bears. Sometimes the predator wins...but sometimes the goat is successful.
    While Andy was channeling his inner predator, Wang was calling on the spirit of all those wild goat ancestors.
    The battle was on!
    Andy, snarling and snapping, lunged for Wang.
    Wang lowered his head and connected with Andy's ribs and tossed him about 3 feet and Andy landed on his butt in the dirt.
    Undeterred, Andy charged Wang head first.
    Big mistake!
    Wang lowered his head and met Andy at full speed. You could probably hear the *crack* a block away.
    Andy's knees buckled and he collapsed in the dirt.
    Wang, apparently confident that the battle was his, trotted over to the big goat pen and focused his attentions on his little harem.
    I checked on Andy. He was out cold. Since he weighs about 80 pounds, I just let him lay there.
    After about 10 minutes, Andy came to and staggered over to the back patio. He got a drink of water and then whimpered to have me open the door. I opened the door and followed him in. I checked him over pretty thoroughly. Nothing broken, but he was tender on his ribs and his head.
    Andy lay down on the couch and took a nap.
    I let Wang browse in the yard beside the big goat pen . The Darlin' Man man handled him back to his bachelor quarters when he got home. Before that, when Andy and Siona (my dog) went out in the yard, they gave Wang a WIDE berth.
    Andy is fine today. He romped around the yard this morning and tried a tentative foray next to Wangs pen....but Wang lowered his head and shook his head at Andy and the goofy dog decided he had very important business on the other side of the yard!
    Andy, like some people, always needs to learn the HARD way.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Long Promised Recipes!

    Sorry for the delay!
    First...my much loved Cheeseburger meatloaf. My kids love this, my Darlin' Man adores it and I am kinda fond of it, too!

    Now, you can use your favorite meatloaf recipe and just top it with cheese and bacon, or you can use my recipe!
    1 pound hamburger
    1 egg
    1 cup bread or cracker crumbs (I use bread crumbs)
    1 cup French Onion soup (NOT dry stuff, if you use the dry mix, make it! I use Wolfgang Pucks canned French onion soup--one can)
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms (fresh if possible!)
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 large onion, sliced
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 cup shredded cheese (I use a combo of cheddar and mozzarella)
    4 slices bacon--cooked!

    Preheat oven to 365
    In large bowl, mix hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, mushrooms and French Onion soup.
    Pat mixture into round cast iron skillet.
    Put in oven.
    While meat loaf is cooking, melt butter in pan and add onions. Cook until caramelized (brown and limp, but not burnt!)
    Cook bacon slices until crisp.
    Bake meatloaf for 45 minutes, remove from oven, drain off fat, top with caramelized onion, shredded cheese and bacon slices (in that order). Put meatloaf back in oven for 15 minutes.
    Carefully remove meatloaf from skillet and serve on large plate/platter that is covered with shredded lettuce and top with fresh tomato slices, if desired.
    It looks like a giant bacon cheeseburger!
    My kids loved this when they were little and up until their teens. The Darlin' Man's two kids, who had this for dinner last week, are already asking when I am making it again!
    I sometimes *boost* the nutrition by adding a half cup to a cup of grated squash, carrots or other mild flavored healthy veggies to the meatloaf mixture. (And squash hating kids never realize what they are eating!)

    I have to add that I frequently grate up or finely dice summer squash (yellow crook neck)  and add it to meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, chili and other  foods where it's presence can go virtually undetected by squash hating individuals! If you saute the diced squash with your meat, it will take on the flavor of the meat!

    I think I have shared this next recipe, but it bears repeating as it is so easy and you can change it around to accommodate whatever you have in your cabinets or fridge!

    Poor Mans Pasta

    Cook enough pasta to feed your family...it can be macaroni, noodles, spaghetti, whatever you have in the pasta category.
    Saute one pound meat with garlic in olive oil or butter.  Sliced up Polish sausage, crumbled sausage, whatever you have.
    Add fresh or dried herbs to meat last 5 minutes of cooking.
    Dump the cooked, drained pasta into a casserole dish, dump in the meat mixture and toss.
    Add a fresh veggie, diced. I prefer tomatoes or snow peas. One cup should do it!
    Toss some more.
    Toss some shredded cheese in and toss again.
    Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
    If you have it, crumble some cooked bacon on top, if not, don't worry about it.
    One dish easy meal to set on the table with a salad and some garlic bread!

    I use a lot of ground beef here. It is versatile and I can stretch it out really well.You can use spices and herbs and sauces to change the *character*. It can be "All American" as in my Cheeseburger Meatloaf, you can even change that to a Greek dish by adding sliced black olives, topping it with feta cheese and serving on a bed of spinach and topping with some chopped artichoke hearts!

    Tonight the menu is decidedly Southern in character...pinto beans, rice, collard greens, sliced tomatoes and cornbread.
    I have a habit of serving meatless meals twice a week. It's healthy, inexpensive and it stretches my grocery budget! It also gives me the opportunity to cook items in my food storage so I can rotate those food stocks. It is also important to help my family adjust their palates and digestive systems so that if we do get stuck using mainly food storage items, there will be no appetite fatigue or intestinal troubles.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    New Arrival Derailed Weekend Post!

    Yes, we have a new arrival....Gabrielle, a lovely full grown and VERY pregnant goat! She, in fact, is expecting TWINS!
    The farmer that sold the Darlin' Man the buck and two does that we already had apparently felt he had too many pregnant goats to handle this year. So, a call to the Darlin' Man Friday evening and the deal was struck.
    Darlin' Man went over to the farm courtesy of a neighbors pick-up truck Saturday morning. By lunchtime, the new doe was meeting her  pen mates.
    Gabrielle IS lovely.She is a blend of white and pale brown with nicely curved horns and a gentle bleat. She is a bit shy and was unsure of the other goats. Because she is so very pregnant, and because Wang (our buck) has a tendency to get rough and rambunctious, Wang has been moved into the *bachelor quarters* so recently vacated by Red, the rooster. Yes, the pen is quite large enough for Wang to be comfortable.
    However, Wang made his displeasure known last night.

    The most pitiful bleating you ever heard! He stood there in his pen, yearningly gazing over at *his girls* in the big pen and bleating his little goat heart out. The *girls* did not return the favor. They seemed happy and content to have their pen be *ladies only*. Wang grumpily settled down and went to sleep around 10 pm last night. He tried the bleating routine this morning, but seemed to get tired of making the effort after he got his breakfast of alfalfa. Gabrielle, Patches and Champagne were ignoring him anyway, lol!
    Gabrielle will deliver sometime between the middle and end of November. I am so excited...we will have little ones!
     I will go grab my recipe file and post a few favorites later today...right now, I am going to go talk to some goats! (I go into the pen and hand feed them snacks and nibbles and talk gently to them and pet them to gentle them down).

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Weekend Plans and More...

    My birthday was lovely...cheeseburger meatloaf for dinner...yummmmmmmm.. I'll post a few of my favorite recipes on Sunday and I'll include that one...it is awesome!

    This weekend I will be making some alterations to the chicken coop, plus doing a bit more work on the raised bed gardens.
    The chickens had not laid a single egg for several days. Red, the rooster was in the bachelor quarters for bad behavior. He got his reprieve on Sunday, was returned to the chicken coop and was sternly lectured by my Darlin' Man as to what his responsibilities were and the consequences of not fulfilling said responsibilities. (In other words "You are supposed to be getting these hens to lay eggs! If the hens don't give us eggs, YOU will end up in a stew pot!!!")
    Well, no eggs all week.
    Today I went out around 3 pm to check the coop for the umpteenth time today...no eggs. Darlin' Man got home about 2 hours later, went to check on the hens...THREE EGGS!!!

    The compost with chicken manure and lots of goat manure is looking GREAT! Tomorrow I will start working it into the raised beds , although each raised bed already has a base of compost, then dirt on top of the compost. I never knew how fast goat manure *cooked* compost. If you can acquire some goat manure, get it! Add it to your compost heap and watch it take off.

    I set up my sewing area today. It was in the bedroom, but it was just so cramped in there. I moved everything to the dining room and now I have ample room to stretch out and actually sew.
    My sketches for my quilt gifts are done (whew!), so by Monday I will be ready to roll on my quilting.
    First step...cutting out my quilt pieces. I figure I can cut out all the pieces for one quilt in two days. After all the pieces are cut out, it will take me about a week to make each quilt top. Maybe 4 days if I focus!
    Yes, these quilts are machine sewn by me, but they still look lovely when done.

    I hope your weekend plans are shaping up!
    Have a safe and productive weekend!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Big Day Tomorrow!

    Tomorrow is my 54th birthday!
    There are doctors, family members, friends, high school acquaintances, etc that all thought I would have kicked the bucket by now!
    How wrong they were....
    Not only have I survived various health crisis's, accidents, risky endeavors, stupid decisions, etc, I have THRIVED!
    Today I am planting my winter garden...here in El Paso the weather is still warm, so my seeds will sprout and there is time enough for the greens I am planting to grow so that I will be able to harvest them for yummy salad greens and stir fry's. I ordered my seeds from Baker Creek seeds. I strongly suggest you check them out! Their seed catalog can be classified as "gardening porn" as the photography and descriptions are amazing. Check out the massive amount of heirloom tomatoes they offer!
    Don't forget to order their FREE catalogue for 2011!

    Tomorrow, for my birthday, I plan on doing as little as possible...I think I deserve a day off!
    I will sleep late ....won't get up until, oh, maybe 6 am as opposed to my usual 4:30 am.
    I will have a leisurely breakfast of chai tea and cream of wheat (my favorite) with a dollop of strawberry jam on top. Leftover beef stew for lunch.
    I have informed the darlin' man that HE will be cooking my dinner!
    Maybe that's a risky decision...but I think he can handle it!

    So, one thing I do on my birthday is think about one or two skills I want to learn over the next year.
    I set a few goals in areas of my life as well.
    Kind of like New Year's Resolutions, except I do it on my birthday!
    I find I stick to goals, etc made on my birthday better than New Years.
    I also usually get myself a present. This year, unfortunately, the water pump on the car went kaput this week and payday for the darlin' man isn't until the first, so all the funds I had saved up in my paypal account I transferred to my bank account to help out.
    I guess that gorgeous corset I found on ebay and the art supplies will wait!
    So...here comes birthday 54 !
    Since I plan on living to 108, I guess I am halfway there!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Making plans for Christmas

    I know, I know...it isn't even Halloween yet and I am already making plans for the Christmas season.
    But, as any prepper type will tell you, planning is vitally important!
    I am making most of the gifts I am giving.
    One duvet cover and four quilts. A couple of tote bags and other small things.
    Today, however, I am perusing recipes.
    When my kids were younger, I tried to make the Yule meal more festive by making a traditional holiday meal of another country or era.
    Sweden, Mexico, Germany, France, even Argentina and Korea found their way to my table---with varying degrees of success.
    I haven't  done this for several years, but since I will have my Darlin' Man and his kids...plus possibly one of my kids visiting AND my fella's mother here, I think I will try it again!

    I am thinking about a few different "themes":
    A Charles Dickens Christmas
    An Irish Country Christmas
    An American Pioneer Christmas (circa 1800)

    Menus and decorations go with the theme.

    Now, I have not decided which one to go with here. I am open to suggestions of different themes as well.
    So, dear readers, put on your thinking caps and help me come up with an idea or two or three!

    Other things.....
    Red, our cantankerous rooster, is currently in the *bachelor quarters* . He had lorded it over the four hens to their detriment. He shoved them out of the way and ate the majority of the food, and spent his non meal time humping the poor girls until they were hiding under the little henhouse in fear. They went two days without laying eggs!
    So, yesterday, the Darlin' Man decided the hens needed a rest from Reds attentions.
    Red did NOT want to leave! The battle ensued across the back yard...the Darlin' Man armed with a broom and Red, armed with beak and talon, duking it out for supremacy. First, Red had to be persuaded to leave the chicken coop WITHOUT his entourage of hens. Not an easy task!  Red was swept out of the coop, but he took Matilda and Miss Priscilla with him. I herded the girls back into the coop as my fella chased Red around the yard with the broom.
    Red, seeing the battle was not in his favor, suddenly decided to opt for the "ostrich maneuver" and dove into the fence, burying his head under the fence and getting stuck--with his head in the sand.
    It took a few minutes, but the Darlin' Man emerged triumphant, carrying a rather sedate Red into the pen built for the billy goat (for when the does give birth).
    He gently lay Red down, thinking the rooster had no fight left in him.
    NOT SO!
    As the fella headed for the gate, Red roused his self and attacked! A quick dash out the gate while fending off the outraged bird with the broom and the Darlin' Man escaped.
    Red spent the rest of the evening muttering to himself and scratching furiously at the dirt. He eyed any one who came close to the pen with fowl fury.
    This morning, Red was still eyeing me with suspicion when I fed him. The hens seemed calm and content.
    And there were 2 eggs...

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Boring Oatmeal? I think not!

    Boy and Girl were aghast during our last shopping trip to discover that I had loaded 3 containers of  Quaker Oats in the cart. Not the kid friendly stuff filled with sugar, artificial flavors and colors. Just plain oats.
    "Oatmeal is  b-o-r-i-n-g " they complained.
    HAH! They never had MY oatmeal!

    Now they have...and they LOVE it!
    First, get your bowls out. Put a tablespoon of brown sugar in the bottom of each bowl. I also add a quarter to half of teaspoon of cinnamon OR a teaspoon of real maple syrup.
    Cook one slice of bacon for each bowl of oatmeal. Drain off bacon grease (I put it on the dogs kibble in the mornings)
    Cook oatmeal.
    Spoon 1 cup oatmeal in each bowl (or more--depends on individual appestite)
    Stir each bowl until brown sugar is mixed through.
    Garnish with slice of cooked bacon (some kids want the bacon whole, other like it crumbled on oatmeal)
    Watch it disappear!
    Other add ons instead of bacon:
    Brown sugar + raisins + walnuts sprinkled on top
    Brown sugar + dried cranberries + peacans sprinkled on top
    Brown sugar + dried  (or canned) pineapple + toasted coconut sprinkled on top
    Maple syrup + dried (or fresh) diced apples
    Tablespoon of pineapple preserves + coconut + macadamia nuts sprinkled on top (Hawaiian oatmeal!)
    Tablespoon of strawberry preserves + salted peanuts on top

    You get the idea!
    Oatmeal or cream of wheat or any hot breakfast cereal/grain, does not have to be "boring".
    A couple of add ins or add ons can make it a treat for even the pickiest palate.
    Eat your oatmeal! It's good for you!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Chickens and Goats and Dogs and Teen Agers!

    Girl and boy decided to test me a bit. Their bus arrives at the corner at 0755. The kids should be out the door no later than 0750. Yet the battle to get them out the door wages on daily. Yesterday they scrambled out the door at 0753!
    So...I instituted a new program...for every minute past 0750 they go out the door, they get up 10 minutes early the next morning. That meant that this morning they were roused out of bed at 0630.
    They are not pleased. Currently, Girl is brushing her hair and muttering on the couch. Boy took his shower and ate his breakfast. Girl, I suspect, will indicate her displeasure by ignoring the breakfast sitting on the dining room table. We'll see.

    AHA! Brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal won the day! Girl grudgingly ate her breakfast and actually SMILED! Didn't hurt that I used my grandmothers trick of sprinkling bacon on top of the oatmeal (Try it! Works great with brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal or maple syrup oatmeal) Boy had his favorite...breakfast burrito with cheese, eggs and bacon.
    Before I got here, it was usually cold cereal or nothing. Something to be said for a good breakfast before you go out the door. As a teen, I was always RAVENOUS. I ate breakfast every morning. Usually fixed it myself as I got up pretty early.
    The kids went out the door at 0749.

    This week we had an addition to the chickens...the feed store had a lovely young hen that had already started laying---left over from their crop of chicks they were selling a few months ago.
    She arrived yesterday, courtesy of the Darlin' Man.
    She was christened Beatrix.
    So, currently, we have: Big Red (the rooster in residence), Gertrude, Miss Priscilla, Matilda and Beatrix.
    I added oyster shell to their feed and the chickens seem to like it quite well.

    Our goats are doing well, and we are picking up a pregnant doe this weekend to add to the herd. The two does we already have are pregnant (I think). I am trying to *gentle* the goats by sitting in the pen for an hour or so a day, feeding them snippets of carrots and other goodies.
    One of the  does practically climbs in my lap to get her snacks, lol!
    I hope I can get them gentled sufficiently by the time we have to start milking them!
    (Any suggestions on gentling them more GREATLY appreciated!)
    I am looking forward to having goats milk for drinking, cooking, yogurt, cheese, soap, etc.

    Edited to add:
    OOPS! Forgot about the dogs!
    Kali (soon to be gone) is back with her original owners.
    Siona (soon to be here) is now, finally here!
    She and the Darlin' Man's dog, Andy had a few problems at first, but they worked it out and Andy understands that Siona, although smaller, is very much THE boss.
    Andy, being only 8 months old now, still has a lot of *puppy* in him. Unfortunately, chewing and shredding things is part of the *puppy* stage. The first month I was here, we would wake up to find any and every thing left in the living room area absolutely shredded to death by Andy. The trash can, shoes, sofa cushions...sigh.....
    Then Siona arrived. Siona is most assuredly NOT a shredder/chewer...unless it is a doggie treat or a bone.
    After her arrival, I woke up one night to hear her snarling and growling and barking up a frenzy. I peeked out of the bedroom door.
    There was Andy, cowed and cowering on the floor, next to a partially chewed sock. There was Siona, standing over him, doing her best *vicious angry dog* impression. When ever Andy moved, Siona darted in, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, and snarling through a mouthful of his fur, snarled and growled her fiercest!  After a few more minutes of this, Siona allowed Andy to get up and and go to his dog bed. She followed him and stood over him a few minutes, hackles raised and softly growling. Then she stalked off to her bed.
    Nothing more has been chewed up since that night!
    Siona is spayed (Please spay or neuter your dogs and cats people, if you are not breeding them!) and has never been a mama...but she sure was acting like one tough dog mama towards Andy!
    Siona (so glad she is here!) has curtailed a lot of Andy's bad behaviors. Training him is going easier as he watches HER and takes his cues from her behavior. Sit, Stay and Come are all but mastered by Andy now.
    The other day I was trying to train him to *Stop* (his barking) and he just wasn't "getting it" despite my liberal use of treats for rewards. After about 15 minutes of efforts, Siona (who had been watching from her perch on the couch) came over and stopped Andy's barking by nipping him gently on his ear. Andy stopped in mid bark in surprise and got his treat. A bit later Andy was barking again (even a bird flying close to a window will set him off!) and Siona wandered over again...just as I said "Stop"!, she nipped his ear again. He stopped.
    And, he "got it". He figured it out! Now, a curt "Stop!" ends his barking frenzies.
    He still looks around after he stops and looks to see where Siona is, though....lol!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Wheeeeeeeeeeee! We Have Eggs!

    The last week has been SUPER busy here at Frippery Farm (our name for this little enterprise).
    We had a goat pen. The chickens and goats peacefully co-existed in said pen...but, sadly, no eggs were forth coming from the hens.
    This past week, we got the chicken coop built, along with a separate pen for the billy goat (for when the does have their kids).
    Red and his hens were moved into the coop. To celebrate, the darlin' man purchased a new hen down at the feed store. The new hen was promptly named Matilda and also just as promptly began laying eggs!
    Two eggs in the first 24 hours she was in residence!
    Not to be outdone, Miss Priscilla also presented us with an egg!
    Gertrude hasn't *gotten with the program* yet, but I think it is just a matter of time before she is inspired by her coop-mates and starts producing as well.
    Red the rooster is acting like it is * all HIM*. He checks out each egg and crows and struts around proudly.

    We also started constructing our raised bed gardens. The goat poop has done a fabulous job in the compost heap!
    Speaking of goats, I believe both our does are pregnant. We should know for sure in a couple of weeks.
    So, we'll have milk and eggs...a darn good start!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    bison survival blog: guest article

    bison survival blog: guest article

    What to Stock Up On (Your Emergency Food Storage)

    If you are in the path of a current Hurricane or other storm, please go HERE: Immediate Emergency Supplies

    I got asked the other day "What should be the BASICS for one person to have in their *preparedness pantry*?"
    I realized I had never posted a *basics* list here, so, gathering all my lists (yes, another list maker here!), I sat down and made a comprehensive list.

    Don't let the size scare you. You could buy just a few items each month and by the end of 3 to 6 months, have a well stocked preparedness emergency food pantry.
    Please remember, this is for ONE person. Many of the items you can find at Family Dollar or similar discount stores.
    As for the stuff in #10 cans, I suggest http://www.shelfreliance.com/  or http://beprepared.com/ .For all my LDS friends, get thee to a cannery!
    A few items I suggest you make yourself...more about those later as I will explain how to make and store certain food items yourself.

    Let's get started...
    6 #10 cans wheat
    6 #10 cans beans
    6 #10 cans rice
    6 #10 cans potatoes (not *instant*! Get dehydrated potato slices or dehydrated diced potatoes. More versatile)
    6 #10 cans pasta
    6 #10 cans dehy. refried beans
    6 #10 cans flour
    4 #10 cans sugar
    4 #10 cans oatmeal
    4 #10 cans instant/dried milk powder
    3 #10 cans farina (cream of wheat type hot cereal)
    3 #10 cans instant mashed potato flakes
    3 #10 cans dried corn (suitable for grinding)
    2 #10 cans granola
    2 #10 cans dehydrated onions
    2 #10 cans dehy. peas
    2 #10 cans dehy. carrots
    2 #10 cans dehy. broccoli
    2 #10 cans of dehy. corn (not dried corn for grinding!)
    2 #10 cans mixed vegetables
    2 #10 cans raisins
    2 #10 cans dried apples
    2 # 10 cans dried fruit of choice or mixed fruits
    2 #10 cans trail mix (mixed nuts and fruits)

    MEATS: I don't buy them dehydrated in # 10 cans(as of yet). They are pretty pricey when you get them that way! Maybe when I get more income or someone hands me a winning lottery ticket....If you are vegetarian, get extra of the basics and double up on the beans and rice!
    For meats, here is what I suggest:
    40 cans of water packed tuna
    20 cans of oil packed tuna
    20 cans of sardines
    NOW, if, like me, you are allergic to seafood, substitute other meats!
    30 cans chicken
    15 small canned hams (the kind you do not have to refrigerate)
    20 cans ham (the shredded kind in cans like tuna)
    40 cans SPAM (choose your favorite flavor or mix and match flavors for variety)
    20 cans Beef Stew
    20 cans chili
    40 cans soup (your choice of flavors)

    I buy my spices in the square 5 ounce containers, then again, I use spices a lot! You can make tea from some spices (like ginger), so you may want more or less of a particular spice.
    Curry powder
    Garlic powder
    Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
    Chili Powder
    Red Pepper Powder
    Bay Leaves (get LOTS of these! Bay leaves ward off insects in your food storage!)
    Other spices you use

    Beverage mixes, coffee/tea as you prefer
     Sprouting seeds
    1 gallon honey
    48 packages of Ramen Noodle soup (2 cases)
    3 jars coconut oil
    1 gallon corn oil
    1 gallon canola oil
    2 containers all vegetable shortening
    6 containers of Corn Starch
    6 boxes Baking Soda
    3 containers Baking Powder
    4 containers beef bouillon (cubes or loose)
    4 containers chicken bouillon (cubes or loose)
    4 containers vegetable bouillon (cubes or loose)
    5 containers salt
    8 1 quart bottles of lemon juice
    10 jars peanut butter
    6 jars jam/jelly/preserves
    12 bars of soap
    6 bottles baby shampoo
    24 rolls toilet paper
    24 rolls paper towels
    3 bottles of body lotion
    2 jars petroleum jelly
    1 large bottle aspirin
    1 large bottle non-aspirin pain reliever
    3 containers baby powder


    6 pint jars tomato powder
    2 pint jars celery powder
    2 pint jars mushroom powder
    Other powders you like or find useful

    Also, GET A GRAIN GRINDER!!! Manual is best (in my opinion), but if you must, get an electric one...just be sure you have a manual one for *back up* in case of long term power outages!
    Get CAST IRON cooking pans. These add iron to your diet, will wear absolutely forever and are easy to clean up after being seasoned properly.
    Other Good Things to have in your emergency pantry are a small grill and some bags of charcoal and some strike anywhere matches.

    This is a ONE YEAR supply for ONE ADULT PERSON. Breakfast, lunch and dinners. You won't have meat at every meal, but you'll have enough.
    It provides ample calories, variety to ward off *appetite fatigue* and extra in case of spoilage. You may have to adjust for food allergies, personal likes and dislikes, etc.
    I am sure I forgot a few items, so add what you need that I may have forgot!

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Wow! I won...again!

    The past month I have entered a couple of blog give-aways...okay, I entered about 6 .
    I won TWO!
    The first was for a $140 gift certificate from CSNstores.com for following the blogathon for the Downed Bikers Association done by Phelan over at Following the Yellow Brick Road. She has another amazing blog here  about her homestead and adventures there! (And donate to the Downed Bikers...good charity!
    With the gift certificate I got a heavy duty wheel barrow (Razorback brand) and a French bread loaf pan (Fox Run brand). Both arrived promptly and are fantastic! Seriously, the loaf pan is amazing and I have NEVER had French bread come out so perfectly! Check it out here !
    Today I found out I won over at Chef Tess Bakeresse's blog by sending in my weird turkey roasting recipe. The announcement and my winning entry can be found here .  
    If you do not yet read Chef Tess..... Shame. On. You.
    Amazing recipes with loads of pics to nudge you through the hard parts. Videos, too, of her recipes and t.v. appearances!

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Big Red vs Me: Round One

    Big Red is our rooster.
    A magnificent fowl, he is the epitome of the barnyard rooster found in childrens books. Beautiful feathers, a crow that can be heard blocks away and totally protective of his *girls*.
    One problem...Red was bred to be a fighting rooster. Yes, cock-fighting is illegal, but not in Mexico and we are so close to the border that those sort of things drift across with the immigrants.
    So, Red was bred to be aggressive. Now, since his chances at being a champion in the fighting ring were stymied by a neighbor that rescued him from that fate, and then gifted the rogue rooster to us, he is understandably frustrated. He dreams, no doubt, of championship belts slung around his feathered mid-section.

    Apparently, he feels that my Darling Man and I are the guilty parties that derailed his fighting career.
    Any foray into Red's domain is greeted by feather fluffing, charges, upraised talons and pecking beak!
    The Darling Man began carrying a broom with him and Red soon learned "Big Man carries Big Stick and WILL whap me"!
    I assumed that Red and I could reach a kinder, gentler understanding. After all, I came into his kingdom to deliver food and rake out manure! Surely Red would LIKE me!
    He attacked me with a ferocity that should have been reserved to fight off hordes of rabid hyenas.
    I retreated and plotted strategy. I didn't want to be seen as "Big Woman with Big Stick". I just don't see myself as a mean person with a stick!
    Well, I had to go refill the water for the chickens and the goats. Maybe I was just distracted, I don't know. Anyway, I just went ahead and tromped into Red's domain without any stick or any back-up.
    I did, however, have the water hose!
    Red saw me and started his charge.
    Instinctively, I sprayed the damn bird with the water hose.
    Red stopped in mid charge. I swear his beaky little mouth dropped open in amazement.
    He back-pedaled rapidly and conferred in a corner of the pen with his ladies; Miss Priscilla and Gertrude.
    All three chickens took turns peeking over at me as they chattered and clucked away in the corner.
    I serenely filled the water trough for the goats and the chickens.
    I am now "Big Woman Brings Water" to Red.
    When I enter into his kingdom, he retires to a corner and studiously ignores me.
    I have won Round One.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Getting To Know You....

    We have a new and much more varied cast of characters here. I was going to try to post pictures, but unfortunately, the only camera here is minus it's network cable, so pictures will have to wait!
    I will try my best to describe the denizens of this small farmette, though..

    First of all, there's me! Since most of the dear readers of this blog have been around for a bit, they know I am 53, red hair, a bit chubby and I usually have a smile on my face---even in the midst of disaster. I keep smiling because I know things could be FAR worse, regardless of the chaos around me!

    Enter, stage left, my amazing, wonderful, Darlin' Man. Career military and heading for retirement row, with the main dream in his head to be a farmer. Since I have more experience than him at farmer and livestock raising endeavors, he often defers to me. He is a VERY good hand at construction projects (wait until I post pics of the goat pen! A force 5 hurricane could not bring that structure down!) and he frequently has ideas that make things around here a bit easier.

    Straggling behind him are Boy (age 15) and Girl (age 16).
    Yes, I am now a stepmother of sorts. Man and I are not yet legally married, but, as I say, what's a piece of paper between dear friends?
    Boy is eager to please (especially  to curry his dad's favor) and can be counted on for help around our tiny homestead. Generally in good humor, his interests include music, video games, girls, video games, shooting, video games..oh yes, more video games!
    Girl seems a lot more reflective and moody. Hates school, mainly wears black, prefers to hang out in her room and play on her computer. She enjoys video games, but also has interest in art, video games, cinema, writing, farming, gardening and some cooking.
    Neither one has had a bad word to say about my cooking, so they both get points from me!

    On to the menagerie!
    The goats:
    Wang, the billy. Very protective of his *ladies*, he begrudgingly will let us in the pen to rake it a couple times a week. He is a tan/brown color with a white belly.
    Champagne, a lovely doe , white and pale brown. Delicate and playful, she is also the most talkative of the 3 goats and will offer a *running commentary* whenever anyone is out in the yard.
    Patches, a smaller doe, looks like a mini-Holstein cow! White with black spots. Most human affectionate, she will nuzzle you when you go out to the pen and adores having her head scratched a little.

    The chickens:
    Big Red, the rooster. Red is a large rooster who was originally destined for the fighting ring until a neighbor rescued him from that fate. Red is large and aggressive. Truly the *cock of the walk*, he allows NO ONE near his hens! Woe to any dog, cat, weasel, fox, or even Tyrannosaurus Rex that approaches Red's girls! Red might go down, but he will surely go down fighting ferociously!
    Miss Priscilla and Gertrude, Red's girls. Currently, we have only 2 hens (although that will change within the month) Miss Priscilla is a neat, black hen. She spends her days scratching the dirt as close to Red as possible. Gertrude, a red hen, is a bit more independent and , occasionally, she and Red have a mild squabble.

    The Dogs:
    Andy, aka Lug, aka Dunder is a purebred German Shepherd. Eager to please, he is a bit slow on learning some of his lessons, and because he is still in adolescence, he has a tendency to trip over his own feet at times. He is very affectionate, but still has a tendency to chew on arms, hands, feet of those he loves. He is also a bit *barky* and will sometimes freak out over a bird landing in the fig tree, although the next day he'll ignore the same thing.
    Kali, a young female German Shepherd is about 5 months old and will be leaving us within the next few days, as we were only taking care of her temporarily for a friend.Thank goodness! She is a digger...she has dug holes all over the property, under fences, in the compost heap, everywhere!

    Soon to join the household will be my dog, Siona. A friend is driving her down. I know, she is actually my sons dog, but since my son is about to embark on some traveling adventures of his own, it was decided that Siona would be better off with me.

    So, there you have it, our cast of characters..
    Lamb (myself)
    Big Red
    Miss Priscilla
    Kali (soon to be gone)
    Siona (soon to be here)

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    The Dream Begins!

    This morning I got up at 5 a.m. I fed the goats and the chickens, let the dogs out to romp and kissed the Darlin' Man good-bye as he went out the door to work.
    I made pancakes and scrambled eggs and a fruit salad for breakfast...put the pancakes and eggs in the oven to stay warm for a few minutes. Woke Girl and Boy up, told them breakfast would be on the table at 7 a.m.
    Fed the dogs.
    Served the kids breakfast and got them out the door to the bus.
    Right now I have yeast *sponging* as I am making 3 loaves of bread to go with dinner.
    Mopped the kitchen floor after I did the dishes.
    Fed the breakfast scraps to the chickens (who were delighted) and the goats (also delighted, especially with the scraps of fresh fruit!)
    Later, I plan to survey the yard and figured out the best place to put a herb garden and a kitchen garden. We have an acre of land--more or less--so, I have so much more room to work with here!
    Tomorrows post:
    Intros to the animal cast of characters and possibly pictures of same!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Last Day, Last Night, Last Morning

    So, I am moving. Today will be my last full day here, tonight my last full night and tomorrow morning---my last morning here.
    Knowing that it will be my last is bittersweet.
    I made many good friends here and I am leaving behind my 27 year old son and his dog (I think of her as also being *my* dog). My son has a job here and is planning on saving his money to move back east.
    I am also leaving behind *stuff*.
    Being the frugal pack rat that I am, that also hurts!
    I have very limited room in the vehicle for my belongings. Clothes, tactical supplies, kitchen tools, sewing machine-- are ALL a must. BUT, I can only fit in about half my food storage.
    So, today I call a friend and ask if they want my food storage. I know they'll say yes and most enthusiastically as they have kids and a good food storage of their own. If they cannot use what I leave behind, I am sure they can find someone who can!
    A few people suggested I give my food storage to a food bank. I would, but I have a lot of wheat and such things that require a lot of prep and the proper tools---which, unless you already prep, you probably do not have!
    My fella has food storage, so I know I won't be *wanting* when I get down to his place...or over to his place...it is 900 miles westward. I have my grain grinder and flour sifter (which I found out he has NEITHER!! Oh my goodness!), he has a good dehydrator and other kitchen tools. Not as many kitchen tools as I have, but the last few years he has lived the gypsy style life of the Army, being transferred from here to there and back again. Thankfully, that is about to change as retirement is on the horizon.

    I will also have, for the first time in many years, two teenagers in the house!
    As I told the fella, at least they are potty trained!
    Teenagers are fun...it is a delight to see them stretching their wings and getting ready for their *solo flight*.
    Big difference is, I didn't raise these two and will just be there for the end of their young adulthood.
    I hope I can teach them a bit and that I can learn from them as well.
    I have met them online...in future posts, if I refer to them, I will call them *Boy* and *Girl* as there is one of each. 15 and 16 respectively. Boy and Girl both seem rather intelligent and very aware of the issues that concern their father and I. Peak oil, sustainable agriculture, etc.

    OH! I will be desert gardening! A new experience for me! The house I will be living in is on about an acre. The Fella has already purchased 3 goats...2 nans and a billy, for breeding and milk production. Chickens will be procured after my arrival as the Fella has never had chickens. There are (currently) 2 pups, both German Shepherds. One is a permanent resident, the other is a temporary one he is caring for until the owner can reclaim it. There is (I am told) a fig tree and a pecan tree. Some neighbors have citrus trees.
    The plan is to stay there a year or two until all the retirement issues are worked out, then make the final move to the Northeast United States to be closer to some family members.
    And that, dear readers, will be my VERY LAST move!

    I have moved a lot in my life.
    First because of being an Army brat myself., then after adulthood because of marriage, economic and educational circumstances and situations. Then divorce and remarriage and more moves. Then economics raised it's head again and it was a case of moving to where the work was.Divorce and remarriage again and that husband was afflicted with a wanderlust that kept him looking for that *greener grass*.
    That last marriage ended and I returned to a place where I had friends and connections and started over again.
    Then I met the Fella and things changed. I moved to where he would be able to come see me. Of course, that didn't last long until the Army decided he needed to be deployed half a world away! Since I had a job here, I stayed here and waited for his return.
    Well, he is back and our future is together.
    So, another move for me.
    All told, I think the last time I counted it up...I have lived in---or traveled extensively through--13 countries and 30 states.
    Not too shabby!
    I have enjoyed it. I have seen things that other people say they only dream of seeing.
    I have watched the moon rise over the Grand Tetons and heard the wolves and coyotes howl.
    I have danced in an Alabama rainstorm.
    I have swam in the Mississippi, the Little Big Horn, the Missouri, Lake Champlain, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. I have dove into the surf of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.
    I have heard the crickets chirp and watched fireflies sparkle by in Kentucky.
    I have seen the tulip fields in the Netherlands and been to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
    Sunrises over the Rocky Mountains. Snowstorms in Germany.Summer days in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
    And much, much more.
    But finally, FINALLY, I am going *home*.
    *Home* is where my Fella is and where we will dream and plan together for the rest of the journey we will share.
    Take care all...I will be offline for a day or two...my next post...will be from *home*.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Sometimes, Your Body Knows Best

    Since I am preparing for a move, everything here has been in a bit of a tizzy.
    I am sorting out my belongings, packing, tossing out, donating, etc.
    Makes for a lot of activity and very little sleep.
    Now, we all have different strategies for "burning the candle at both ends".
    I have a tendency to add some caffeine, usually in the form of soda, into my daily regimen.
    Last night, I had no soda, but around one in the morning, I was starting to feel sleepy and sluggish--yet still had more to do.
    Well, my room mate had made a pot of coffee.
    I am allergic to coffee. Not DEATHLY allergic, mind you. Just allergic in that it will make me sick if I drink more than about a half cup.
    So, I figured, a quarter cup...just a *shot* would be okay.
    It was, for about the first hour.
    After the first hour, my body decided to show me, in no uncertain terms, why I shouldn't drink coffee.
    Yes, I was awake all night, but, no, I did not get much done.
    Not a fun night...unless you consider throwing up, profuse sweating, stomach cramps and more throwing up as a fun experience!
    I am re-hydrating this morning. Plenty of water. Resting.
    My body has made it clear this is what it wants, and this is what my body will get!
    Yes, I have much more to do, but after last nights experiences, I think I will listen to my body today.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Artichoke Love

    I *heart* artichokes! The tender morsels with a flavor and tender texture all their own are a delight.
    Last night as I rummaged in the fridge to find something to make, I spied the two lovely fresh artichokes I had bought a couple days ago for an intended recipe--- that never got made, due to my packing frenzy.
    Well, I simply could not let them waste away, unloved and lonely in the vegetable drawer!
    Best way (IMHO) to fix artichokes is the simplest.
    Steam them and serve with lemon butter.
    Get all the tender morsels from the leaves, then go for the heart.

    Directions and photos showing how to cook and devour an artichoke properly are here .
    If you want to get fancy, the Artichoke Board has oodles of recipes here .
    A lot of people by-pass buying fresh artichokes in favor of buying ones in jars, usually in olive oil and using those. That's fine, too, as you can go from simple (serving them as is on an antipasto plate) to elaborate (adding them to many Italian dishes).
    When I buy them in jars, I drain them, saute them with fresh mushrooms and garlic in a bit of butter, then toss them with cooked chicken and a light alfredo sauce to serve over angel hair pasta.
    If you are a risotto loving person, adding diced artichoke hearts to a risotto will win you raves at the dinner table.
    Artichokes are thistles, more or less.
    Easier to grow than you might suspect!
    They are an organic medium loving plant, so lots of organic matter, compost tea and manure dressings help them produce their lucious little globes.
    The plants get quite large...I have seen some practically take over a garden!
    You can grow from seed or from root stock---if you can find it. A lot of nurseries do  not carry it, so you may have to hunt down and artichoke growing friend for that.
    They can be grown in containers, but the container should be quite large with ample room for their roots. They like mild winters and mild summers.
    Good article on growing artichokes here.

    So...grow some artichokes, eat some artichokes, love some artichokes!

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Oh the pains of packing!

    So, I am making a move of a little over 900 miles on the third of September.
    I have been packing, and while I pack, I am sorting.
    I have so many things that I have hung onto for so long for absolutely no reason.
    For example, I still had every birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day card, etc that my ex husband had given me.
    Into the trash they went! Along with several magazines I had held onto *for the recipes*, several catalogs I was *going to order out of--someday* and loads of other useless paper things that had followed me through the years. A full lawn and leaf style hefty bag was filled almost to bursting with the stuff!
    Tonight I am going through clothes. Out go those things that no longer fit me, are hopelessly stained or torn, or simply don't look good on me. I have oodles of fabric for my quilting, so I refuse to be seduced into the time consuming task of cutting up said clothes to save the fabric for quilting! (and oh, the siren song of fabric is a hard one to resist!)
    I am washing every item of clothing I am taking. Sort of an OCD thing, I suppose. I ALWAYS wash all my clothes and linens when I move. Otherwise, my clothes smell like my old house. I don't want to take the smell of my old house with me.
    Okay, I am weird. We all have our own little idiosyncrasies, that's one of mine.
    So, tonight is my *all nighter* laundry night.
    As each load comes out of the dryer, it will be folded and packed in a sturdy Rubbermaid tote (my preferred moving boxes)
    I have designated two, and ONLY two totes for clothing and linens as my moving vehicle is a friends SUV and I am limited on space.
    Severly limited.
    I am having to go minimalist here, people.
    For a pack rat like me, it is almost physically painful!
    My biggest priorities are my food preps and tactical supplies (guns, ammo). Absolutely NONE of the tactical supplies can be left behind. Too expensive to replace!
    Kitchen tools are essentials. I have cast iron pans, food mills, sauce pots, etc. Also crock pot, electric skillet and yogurt maker, things like that.
    I will be taking a few *knick-knacks* that mean a lot to me. Framed pictures of my kids.  Some lovely wind chimes I found at a yard sale. Just a few items, but enough to make the new place feel more like *home*.
    Moving is exciting. It is stressful. It is an adventure.
    I am trying to ignore the stressful part and embrace the exciting and adventurous aspects!
    So, here's to new places, new people and a new home!
    (And did I tell you I will have goats and chickens there!!! WOOOOO-HOOOOO!)

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    My Paradigm Shift...Shifted!

    Okay...I am going to be UBER busy for the next two weeks as I am moving. I will try to post as I can, but it will be around the 5th or 6th before I can start doing so regularly again.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Left-Over Mania!!!

    I only go to the grocery store twice a month. One biggish trip and one smallish trip to restock those things we use a lot of or that don't last too long.
    The week before the grocery trip, I rummage through the fridge and cabinets, trying to use up every odd and end, every smidge of whatever that isn't big enough for a meal, but far too much to be tossed in the compost heap.

    As I have posted before, my home-made hummus is a staple here. While rummaging in the fridge, I found about a half a cup in one of my little covered bowls in the fridge. Not enough for a meal, really (I was feeding myself, my son and out room mate). Further investigation turned up a half cup of leftover cooked rice, a bit of mozzarella cheese and in the cabinets, a can of artichoke hearts. Seriously, I didn't buy them, have no clue how they ended up in my pantry. One of those odd cans that somehow migrated into the relative safety of my pantry...like those cans of jellied cranberry sauce that always show up.
    Anyway...I ended up draining and dicing very fine the artichoke hearts, adding the rice, leftover hummus...and as a bonus, the black beans ---about a cup, that I found hiding behind the milk carton. I mashed up the black beans before adding, though. A smidge of olive oil for flavor and smoothness as I mixed it altogether, along with a dash of lemon juice and some fresh minced cilantro. Sprinkled the cheese on top and heated through. Served with tortillas cut in wedges for *dippers*. With a salad on the side, a lovely meal for a hot day! And--enough for three, as well.

    I actually enjoy the week before grocery shopping. It's fun trying to figure out how to mix and match left overs and odds and ends to make meals. I watch the Food Network, and they have this show called "Chopped". If you have not seen it, it goes like this ; four chefs are each given a basket of ingredients to make a dish from. After their dishes are judged, the least successful dish is chopped and that chef is booted out and then it is on to the next course with another basket of mystery ingredients and so on.
    I LOVE that show!
    The ingredients in the basket can vary wildly. They may face an appetizer round with catfish, cherries, mustard greens and oatmeal. An entree round with maple syrup, mussels, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.
    And they HAVE to use every ingredient in the dish or be disqualified.

    So, when that week before grocery shopping rolls around...I imagine myself on "Chopped". I work with whatever ingredients I find and see what I can make!
    Fun challenge!

    Monday, August 16, 2010


    Things have not gone as swimmingly as I hoped the past couple of weeks. The heat index here hits about 110 by 11 a.m. and goes up from there. Heat makes me ill. Yes, ill.  When overheated, I get severe blinding headaches, stomach cramps, bad nausea...and I am miserable.
    The past week has been pure hell for me. The only way I could cope was by taking loads of cool showers and baths and then air drying in front of the air conditioner. Even that doesn't cool me off sufficiently to be comfortable all the time, but it does lessen the frequency and severity of the headaches, etc.
    So, my yard sale got stalled in it's tracks. I know there is no way that I am going to be running back and forth to the post office mailing things!
    So, until we get a decent break in this heat, I will just go back to regular blogging stuff.
    Try to stay cool, everyone!

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    And so today....

    I was supposed to start my "Internet Yard Sale" today.
    Unfortunately, life intervened. Best laid plans....and all that.
    First, the digital camera I was using to take pictures of the items has caused me a great many problems. It apparently does not like talking to my computer. I don't know if I should fix them both a cup of tea, sit them down and have a nice chat to smooth everything out or what.My room mate, who is more tech-savvy than I am is working on the problem.
    Second, I had to run around like crazy getting some errands done yesterday and today. I normally walk everywhere, so my life has a strolling pace. But, a friend was able to break loose some time and drive me around. I got a great deal done, but it cut into the time I would have otherwise devoted to my yard sale.
    Third, I forgot to get the mailing boxes and envelopes while I was out! Totally a "brain fart" moment...lots of air in there, no thought! I had them on the oh-so-carefully thought out and written shopping list byt then I, o course, let the darn list at home!!!

    So...yard sale is postponed for a day or two while I get everything back in line here.

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010


    We have all heard of different mentoring programs...experienced mothers mentoring young first time mothers, successful businessmen mentoring high school students to help them succeed, etc.
    I am proposing a new mentoring program; a Survivalist mentoring program!
    Yes, we have all belonged to forums and such where we posted advice, etc for folks. A lot of us (including me and many of my dear readers) have blogs where we dispense advice, tips, etc to any and all that wish to read.

    What I am proposing is that each and every person that reads this finds one person, just one, that has little or no experience at the skills/knowledge you already have (that are survival oriented) and teach them a few.
    Now, at age 53, I have a wee bit of knowledge. After having a *passel o' kids*, I have a few more skills. After having raised gardens and canned/dehydrated/preserved their bounty, raised livestock and hunted game (and butchered same) to feed my family, plus worked myriad jobs to support my family---I realize I have quite a few skills and some knowledge that can help others.

    I may not be able to wander hither and yon finding someone to mentor, but I can mentor through this blog.
    I suggest other experienced homesteaders and survivalists do the same.

    It is not like the old days, where you went to see the village elders to get advice on how and when to plant, how to treat a sick goat or what was the best way to thatch a roof...
    In our electronic age, you can look up the majority of things you need to know in just a few minutes online.
    What is missing is a personal touch.
    Women, especially, need another woman they can count on , talk to, ask questions of, without fear of ridicule or embarrassment. (Sorry, guys, but sometimes the male version of this involves arm punching, horrible jokes and calling each other names. I know, it's a *guy thing* and you rough creatures are welcome to it!)

    I think the reasons I see mentoring in the homesteader/survivalist community as a good thing are:
    The better equipped others are, the less help they will need later on.
    Passing on knowledge to a younger generation will keep that knowledge alive for them to pass on.
    There are things you just can't learn from books!
    Networking increases our collective strength.

    So, here's the deal...if anyone has a question or needs suggestions/advice/etc on skills or knowledge in subjects I am pretty well versed on, send me a question!
    I have sorta picked out a person to mentor...even if it is from afar, and will help them as much as I am able,
    but will be happy to help anyone who has a question.

    Happy mentoring, all!