Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It's 40 something inches and mounted to our wall and movies are incredible on it. Best of all...I didn't pay for it. There's no way I would have spent this much $$ for a TV, so it really was a blessing that we'd never have allowed ourselves. It came with a free Blue Ray player which makes movies jump right off the screen. It's incredible.
Another great thing about it is that I was really perfectly fine with our old TV. I didn't even covet anyone else's flat screen (I sometimes really struggle with coveting other's blessings.) So, this came as a huge out-of-the-blue kind of blessing.
There...I've confessed. I know this does not really jive with many of the ideas I've written about here, but it's true. I'm not going off grid anytime soon...it would mess with my reception of the Food Network. /blush/
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tons of canning jars from my husband's grandmother...she is no longer canning and wanted to pass them along. I can't tell you how much fun it will be to fill them with the garden's bounty this summer knowing that they were used countless times by NeeNee Davis. Priceless.
A pizza stone and pizza peel for my bread baking!!
A bamboo cutting board that is absolutely beautiful.
My dad wants to build the chicken coop for me! He's quite handy and also very thrifty. Dad plans to use mostly materials that are available on the farm, so that'll be an added bonus knowing that all the stuff was from our family place that once belonged to my grandparents. Those of you with family farms know that the tin on a family farm has been recycled several times...it is never thrown away. Aside from the value of recycling...I'm also a hopeless sentimentalist.
A clothes rack for air drying clothes indoors. This increases the humidity in your home in the winter (when heating tends to dry out the air) and cuts down on energy usage/costs.
Aside from all the goodies, I was blessed with time to spend with family and friends. We are really building some powerful friendships in our little hometown and it is such a gift from God to have good friends surrounding you. I am so thankful that our jobs allow us three weeks off at Christmas. That is a gift unto itself.
I'd love to hear about your best homestead blessings this Christmas! Please share!
As for our plans for coming days...I'm baking bread tonight and hope to cook up another batch of apple peel jelly in the next few days. I've got two gallons of apple cores/peels in the freezer that were left over from recent apple butter and applesauce canning. Oh, and I'll be cleaning house and cooking for a Bible Study party we're having at our house on New Year's Eve.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Lastly, I'm pondering a remark made by a friend of mine concerning Christianity and environmentalism. I have to say that I see these two going hand-in-hand, although I think in our political times, there is an assumption about Christians that they are not environmentalists. Well, I'm inventing a new term....CRUNCHY CHRISTIAN. That's me. (In case my witty sense of humor is not quite connecting, I'm referring to the "crunchy-granola" stereotype of those some would label as hippies...whatever...I'm funny in my own head...please bear with me here.)
The way I see it, if I give my children a toy, I expect that they will take care of it. Put it away so it doesn't get stepped on, clean it off if it gets milk spilled all over it, etc. I believe that God made the planet Earth for us; therefore, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of this planet. Yes, I am a Christian who prefers products with less packaging, is trying to eat more organic foods, grows some of my own food, composts, and prefers to buy local produce (though it is not terribly available in our area) when I have the chance.
Also in line with CRUNCHY CHRISTIANITY (perhaps more on the hippie side of things), I am a whole-hearted supporter of breast feeding. After all, Mary fed Jesus this way and I see the design of our bodies as a beautiful testimony of God's provision. I loved wearing my babies and had quite a collection of baby wearing options. Ring slings were my favorite. Oh, and I love folk music....not sure if this really matters at all, but I thought I'd throw it in there just in case.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I also got some Pickling Salt and Pickling Lime for 50 cents each in huge canisters.
The young boy who was checking looked at me a bit strangly...because of the pectin and because of the mystery veggie he couldn't identify. I explained that it was rutabaga and he continued to peek up at me through a veil of long curly hair. I further explained that our family wanted to try a new vegetable this week and rutabaga was in season, so there you go. Suddenly he thought this was a neat idea and said maybe he, too, would try to cook rutabaga. He wanted to know how you cook it and said, "Let me know how it turns out, okay?"
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In other BBA news, I mixed up a new batch of dough tonight and threw in two handfulls of wheat germ. I think it'll give the loaves a nice nutty taste. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Lastly, but also of notable BBA importance...I finally liberated 6 bananas out of the freezer to make two loaves of banana bread. I have a fantastic recipe for banana bread that has gotten rave reviews everywhere I take it.
1 stick sweet cream butter (unsalted)
- cream butter & sugar
- add eggs - mix
- mash bananas & add to mixture
- add flour, vanilla & pecans (if desired)
- bake @ 325 for 55 min. (loaf pan) or 30 min. (cupcakes)
A few notes:
The kiddos love to mash the bananas! Hand 'em a fork and let them mush bananas to smithereens!
I've made this with half white flour & half wheat as well and been quite pleased with the results.
I never throw out a banana. Overripe ones go in the freezer then I thaw them as needed for bread. They look terrible when they thaw, but you just rip off the end and squeeze out the banana like toothpaste. I swear these make the best bread ever!
Also, I don't like chopping pecans so I add them whole. It's rather tasty to bite into a chunk of pecan!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
And I did try it...all weekend long. I made 5 loaves of yummy artisan bread this weekend. I've also started another batch to use throughout the week. Ummm...hmmmm...I'm officially a member of Bread Bakers Anonymous (BBA). Anyone else want to join my club?
The great thing is that the original recipe can be tweaked for almost endless possibilities. The article also talks about making cinnamon rolls and pizza crust with this same starter. WOW! Try it...you'll like it.
(I'll try to upload some steamy photos of fresly baked bread for my fellow BBA members in the next few days! ;-)
In other news, the girls and I made some homemade soaps to give as Christmas gifts. We included Tea Tree Oil as a natural anti-bacterial. It smells great!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
My dad saved several wooden screen doors from my grandma's house when he tore it down. I hope to build the run around grandma's wooden door. The sound of those doors clap-clap-clapping shut bring back so many memories.
Since we have a huge yard fenced with privacy fence, I think I can clip the chickens' wings and allow them to do some free grazing. If that doesn't work out, I'll come up with a portable run that can be moved around the yard during the day.
DH and I are both college professors, so it really helps that we have summers off to pursue gardening & homesteading efforts. I'm teaching an online class this summer, so I'll get some summer salary and be able to work from home. It's a pretty good compromise.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It was goooood!
I just learned to can last November, so I'm really proud of what I was able to do this year. Our garden here in Oklahoma didn't produce as well as it will in normal years (we had a very hot, dry wind that fried lots of area gardens), so I have high hopes for next year!
This year, we did tons of jelly and jam, pickles, applesauce and applebutter. On the right side of the bottom shelf are the dried herbs for seasoning and teas. There are also some dried lavender bloosoms there that the girls and I will be making into soap to give as holiday gifts!
Special thanks to Little Homestead in the City for providing the inspiration to get my One Acre Homestead up and running. Next year, my goal is to double the gardens and add a small flock of chickens. In the future...bees! Stay tuned!!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
6 pints of applesauce
5 pints of blackberry plum jam
4 pints of apple plum jam
4 pints of apple peel jelly
After much lamenting over tossing apple peels & cores out to the bunny or the compost pile, I finally found a use for all that appley goodness. I came across this little tidbit in the Backwoods Home Magazine:
You can make apple PEEL jelly from the apple peel you’d ordinarily pitch or compost.
Place apple peels, lightly packed, into a 4.5 qt. pot with 5 cups of water. There should be about 3-4 inches of peels in the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and boil for 15 minutes, stirring as little as possible. Remove from heat, put the lid on the pot, and allow to stand overnight. (Optional, add a cinnamon stick when you let it sit overnight.)
Strain the liquid into a measuring cup, and make certain you have 5 cups. Return to the pot. Gradually dissolve 1 box of pectin into the liquid and bring to a full rolling boil, over high heat. Add 7 cups of sugar (all at once), stirring to dissolve. Return to boiling, and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim foam if necessary, and can into ½ pt. jelly jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
The red peels make the jelly a beautiful rose-pink. It makes a really light, flavorful jelly that went over well with homemade biscuits this morning.
You may be thinking...what in the HECK are you going to do with all that jelly? Well, we'll eat our fair share of it and I'll be giving some as Christmas gifts. I'm hoping to have at least one more super productive canning Saturday before the holidays roll around. Homemade gifts are always the best!
Monday, November 10, 2008
(These look just like Dominiques to me!)
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Aside from knitting, I'm doing research this winter. I hope to add a small flock of chickens (4-6 lovely ladies) to the OAH in the spring. While I love the "Easter Egg" layers, I need chickens that will give the most eggs dependably. I also love the speckled eggs, but can't seem to find which chickens lay those. Anyone have suggestions?
Here's what I've got so far:
Rhode Island Reds McMurray Hatchery claims that these are the best layers.
Dominiques A friend who has these says they are supposed to lay dependably through the winter...though the website doesn't say anything about that. This is her first year with her chickens, so I'll look forward to hearing if this holds true.
White Rocks These are classified as "heavy chickens." I wasn't really looking to go with larger breeds; however, they are supposed to lay through the winter.
I'm also looking for the perfect coop or chicken tractor. I'd like to have it built in early spring...maybe April or so.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I also needle felted a small cross on the corner. I'm pretty pleased with the results. What do you think.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I couldn't help but look forward to our own trees putting out enough apples for us to preserve. It is so hard to wait! I know we're making improvements on our little chunk of Oklahoma that will really pay off in the long run, though, and I'm trying to be patient. It's a lesson God has been trying to teach me for years, peace and tranquility in the waiting, and I think He's found a way to get through to me in the garden...or at least force me to practice.
The girls have put their stamp of approval on the apple butter...they've already eaten the half jar that was not full enough to process.
Friday, October 24, 2008
We've only got one puppy left from this litter and it's always a bit *too* quite around here after the last pup is sold. The girls go in the back and seem a bit lost without little pups nibbling at their toes and tugging at their socks...begging to play.
Mini Aussies are great dogs and we keep in touch with many of our buyers...getting photo updates and hearing about how their furriest family member enriches their lives. It's an awesome, fun side business that allows my girls to learn responsibility and get tons of payoff in puppy kisses!
If you'd like to see more info about our Aussies, check out our business website at sitekreator.com/miniaussiepups.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
4 Peach Trees
2 Apple Trees
1 Pear Tree
1 Apricot Tree
2 Pecan Trees
8 Blackberry Bushes
3 Blueberry Bushes
The veggie garden was a bit slow this year, but I hear that from a lot of gardeners. The stars of the garden were the potatoes and the black-eyed peas. My tomatoes have JUST started producing and I'm holding my breath that the first frost will hold off a bit longer.
As for Fall...I've taken my knitting needles back up. You see, knitting is my fall and winter hobby (aside from perusing seed catalogs, that is). In the spring and summer, I'll be back outside in the garden with perpetual dirt under my raggedy nails.
If you'd like to branch out this fall and winter, keep reading and I'll share some knitting magic with you! It's all part of the homestead! ;-)
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Here are some nice, straight pieces of driftwood that I plan to use as edging. They're so organic...much better than plastic edging, which seems a bit jarring in a natural environment.
These flowers are from a plant my Father-In-Law gifted me...he called them "Mexican Petunias." I don't know if that's the real name, but they are amazing! At least 4 feet tall and they can be dug up and divided every year.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
But I'm back and I'm going to make it up to you. Really....here, look at this pretty picture!
That beautiful blue candy jar belonged to my grandparents. It's perfect for a single hydrangea bloom. The colors on this one keep me guessing. When I planted it, it had snow white blooms. I expected them to change to pink or blue, but I am delighted with this green. The rust on the tips makes it pop. Love it!
These tomatoes seem frozen in time to me. It's a killer. I go out everyday expecting them to be ripe and this is what I find...everyday...day after day. Do they look any different to you?
Remember that ONE pear that was holding on to the tree after the "hit the fraidy hole" Oklahoma storm? Here he is...still hangin' on and growing. Thanks for all the good pear vibes!
The blackberries are shaping up nicely. We'll have a heaping bowlful to harvest this year and next year...well, my hopes are high and I'll leave it at that. No need to count the chickens before they hatch and al that jazz.
Tomorrow I'll post some photos of the stuff I scavenged off the beach! Great garden props! C' you then!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The cantalope is growing like crazy out in the West garden. At the bottom of the photo you can also see my secret weapon against crappy clay soil...coffee grounds! (Warning...the west garden is rough, but this is it's first year. I do hope that it is a bit more visually appealing next year. Let's be honest, we've got a bit of weeding to do!!)
The cantalope is blooming like crazy. Check out the little yellow flowers:
And here's a photo of the corn we're growing in the west garden. This area could use some serious mulch, which we have, but it's not all spread yet. Hang on, corn!
Monday, June 16, 2008
Cindy over at http://www.brambleberriesintherain.com/ asked to see some photos of our dolls. My 6-year-old took this photo of her doll laying on her lavender pillow. I think she's got a good eye for photography! Here you go, Cindy:
I managed to snap a quick photo of a few recent strawberries from the garden before we popped them into our mouths! The girls love these fresh out of the garden.
Here's a photo of our homegrown potatoes with some of our dill and scallions. Add a tad of olive oil and you're in business!!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
2 Bowls of Lavender Buds
Lettuce and Sugar Snap Peas for a Medium Sized Salad
My lettuce is beginning to bolt, so I fear that the heat has been too much for it. I'm considering replanting in my harvested squares, but I'm not sure if it will pay off with 100 degree days becoming more of a norm.
I'm still waiting for the tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and blackeye peas to take off. The cantelope is growing well and the corn also looks good...just beginning to send up tassels.
In other homesteading news, the girls and I used the lavender buds to make sleepytime pillows and two wool felt dolls. It was fun to do together and the girls now have some lavender scented sleep buddies!
We also made mozzarella cheese together! It was so fun and super easy. Check out Mother Earth News for directions. I think we'll be making more cheese in the future.
What did you harvest this week?
Monday, June 9, 2008
I took a few photos right off the front porch. Check 'em out:
Another tidbit of good news...I thought my strawberry season was done, but it seems that maybe my strawberries are the everbearing variety. I've got a whole new crop coming up and it seems that these berries are larger and meatier than the last bunch. I shall reissue the slug/rolly polly war to protect these beauties! ;-)
Does anyone know if this is normal with strawberries? I'm curious about the difference in the first harvest and this one. I've added some coffee grounds and mulch to the bed and wonder if it made a difference in the berries...or maybe it's normal to have a stronger second crop??
Friday, June 6, 2008
Here, let me help you...
Those are my pears...on the ground. It is indeed a sad day here on the OAH. My dreams of canning up a bunch of pear preserves have been dashed by the crazy, unpredictable nature of Oklahoma weather. For the past two days we've had windiness here...like DUST BOWL windiness. Then, last night, a storm came. One of those "Head for the fraidy hole!" Oklahoma storms.
According to our trusty weatherman, this baby was preceded by 80 mile an hour straightline winds and had tons of rotation inside the storm. All in all, though I am truly mourning the loss of around 20-25 pears, I'm just happy we didn't sustain more property damage than we did (the pear tree and a few pickets off the fence).
The good news? There's one pear left. He must be a determined little bugger! Let's take a moment now to send happy, healthy pear thoughts to this little guy. He won't make a batch of pear preserves, but it's a start.
A bit more good news? Pete (the bunny) will have some yummy treats over the next few days! Have fun, Pete...next year the pears are all mine!!
(The photographer wishes to apologize for the crappy nature of this photo. Apparently I was focused on the fence behind the actual subject of the shot....my bad.)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
And the peaches, too...though a few have shrivelled and fallen off the tree. Not sure what's going on with those, but I'll be happy to get any peaches this year as it's the first year for these trees!