Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Books, Books, Books

I love books...I collect them endlessly and read them every chance I get, oh, and magazines, too! I love them so much that just before Christmas I ran out of space on my bookshelves! A quick trip to IKEA solved that problem and now I have plenty of space and find myself needing to seek out more books!! LOL!

Here are some of my favorite shelves of books:









I love this little display shelf option on IKEA's Billy Bookshelves...it allows me to display some of the book/magazine covers!



This is what my two new bookshelves look like from a few steps back:





Then, there are the bookshelves in the hallway that the wee ones keep their books on...I know these could use a bit of straightening, but here they are...mess and all:



Oh, and we can't forget the books above the fireplace! Here they are:



Lately I've been able to order several FREE books each month with my SwagBucks, and it has been great fun to maintain a wish list on Amazon for that purpose. Right now we are waiting for the DK Eyewitness book, Paris...my oldest is currently obsessed with Paris and would like to take a trip there...maybe someday, sweetie...and Flour Power: A Guide to Modern Home Grain Milling for mommy! Again, if you haven't started using SwagBucks for all your internet searches, do it today!! (There's a link to get you started in my sidebar!) I can't believe how quickly my $5 Amazon gift cards roll in! I just downloaded the SB toolbar and always search from there and type in my addresses (facebook, blogger, etc.) there.

Hmmmmm...I *may* have a leetle problem...perhaps I am addicted to books? You should see my office!! ;-)

What's YOUR favorite book currently? A homesteading reference? A garden tip book? Perhaps a wonderful cookbook or canning guide? C'mon, help me build up my Amazon wish list!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Planting Peas & Finding Eggs...Spring is Coming!!

We planted Alaska Peas today in the garden. I've not planted them before, but here's what Victory Seeds has to say about them:

Alaska (Earliest of All)
55 days — This variety was introduced in 1881 in England as 'Earliest of All', by pea breeder Thomas Laxton. A cross of 'Ringleader' and 'Little Gem', it became the parent of many subsequent varieties. First offered in the United States in 1882 by James J. H. Gregory and was in several seed catalogs by 1883. It seems that it was renamed in 1884 by A. B. Cleveland of Cape Vincent, New York and given away as a premium for subscriptions to the periodical The Rural New Yorker. The name stuck.

The plants are twenty four to thirty six inches tall and grow well in cool soils. There are typically five to eight smooth peas in each round pod. Classically used for canning or freezing, also fine fresh or dry (in eighty days) for soups. Not a super sweet variety. Seeds are smooth.


We also got a surprise in the chicken coop today...an egg!! We've been without fresh eggs all winter and seeing an egg in the nesting box was pure bliss! Don't let anyone tell you that fresh, homegrown eggs aren't better than the store ones...my 7-year-old said the store ones were a bit like rubber when scrambled one morning. We're very excited to see that our flock is back in business! It's also a sure sign that spring is on the way!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The grain mill....



...has arrived!! I knew it would be coming, so I stopped by the Whole Foods store and picked up a bag of this:



Then I poured it into the top of my lovely, new Nutrimill. Wee ones and I stared as the grains disappeared:





When we opened the flour bowl at the bottom of the machine...we found this stuff:





Of course, the point of freshly milled grain is to bake it asap! So, I whipped up a batch of banana bread.



Here, take a closer look...check out the wee bits of coconut I added to mix it up a bit:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...start your engines!!!

Your tiller engines, that is! With the help of my engine savvy neighbor, WatSourced, I tilled up the garden plot this week! I also wandered into Wal-Mart (on date night, no less) and stumbled upon the newly arrived seeds! We purchased 25 packets of seeds and have laid them out on the coffee table, to the delight of my two muchkins. Yes, I know that big seed companies are bad news to seed saving and I'd prefer to buy from organic, lovely companies and from Seed Savers; however, these seeds were only $1 a packet, which is less than half the price of the seeds I'd put on my favorite catalog list...if $$ were no object, I'd have made a different decision, but alas, $$ does come into play. I will still order some of my seeds and hope to order more from companies I can believe in in future years.

In another note, (and one of the reasons that I had to rein in the homestead related spending) I finally ordered a grain mill!!! Yep, I took the plunge! I can't wait to write about my experiences with milling my own grains fresh for baking and let you know about the Oklahoma businesswoman who supplied my mill!

For now, though, Homestead Man and I are about to load up the kiddos and head to nearby big city to get a pickup load of beautiful, rich compost to top-dress the garden!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Biggest Blessing...





Yesterday I blogged about our Christmas Blessings, but I wanted to share the biggest blessing in it's own post. This one reminded me of how precious my family is and taught me some lessons. Our biggest blessing was....drumroll please.....

Spending the night in a hotel - We were actually stuck on the highway during the Texas/Oklahoma Blizzard on Christmas Eve. There were some scary moments when we thought that we'd be spending a freezing night stuck in the snow on the highway. Through the hard work and generous spirit of my husband and many strangers, we were able to get ourselves and many others to a hotel to spend the night. HM was actually directing traffic at one point to get all of us between a snow plow and two trucks that were stuck and almost blocking the entire highway (see photo above). When we finally arrived, it had taken us 6 hours to drive what normally takes an hour. The hotel had purchased sandwich supplies knowing that no one would be able to get to a store or restaurant for food. I was so thankful to be warm and safe that night and learned some seriously valuable lessons.

#1. My car needs additional emergency supplies. While we had crackers, water, & blankets...I sure was wishing for a camping shovel (to dig us out of the snow) and additional food.

#2. I have never taken snow/ice driving seriously enough. I am usually optimistic and say, "Oh, it's just a little snow...we'll be able to make it!" From now on, I'll take winter driving much more seriously, to be sure!

What do you keep in your car for emergencies? How do you store it there and keep it out of the way?

Christmas Blessings....



I was so blessed this Christmas that I'm a bit embarrassed...so it took me awhile to come and tell you about it all. Homestead Man and I both have parents who spoil us and our children...yep...I said it....we're spoiled. Here's a list of my blessings that affect the OAH directly:

Roomba - My mom gave us this awesome robot that vacuums my floors everyday at 11:00am!! This has been a huge life changer for us because this means we CANNOT leave anything out in the floors in our common areas (as I've set the Roomba to stay in the living room, dining room, and kitchen).

Rain Barrel - My in-laws gave me a lovely rain barrel, which will be in place and collecting water when our spring rains come!! So excited about that!

Magazine Subscriptions - My brother & sister-in-law gave me subscriptions to two fantastic homesteading type magazines: Countryside & Small Stock Journal and Mary Jane's Farm. I love reading both of these & it will be awesome to have them regularly grace our coffee table!

Bike - Homestead Man and the girlies got me the cool retro cruiser bike that I've been drooling over for a year! It's got whitewall tires and no handbrakes...just the good ol' pedal brake. Love it!

Solar Lamps - My mom found two solar lamps at IKEA and gave them to my girlies. How great to know that we have those in the event of a power outage! Another cool note, for every lamp purchased, IKEA gives one away to a child without electricity. The note pointed out that those children cannot read or color after dark, so a simple solar lamp allows them several more hours of light for these activities. How fantastic to think of this each time we use our solar lamps.

More plum juice - Homestead Man's grandmother mentioned that she was about to throw out all of the plum juice in her freezer because she wasn't able to can anymore...she asked if I wanted it! Ummmmmm...YES!!! I think I have enough for three batches of jelly! Awesome!

Airstream Camper - Yeah...I saved that one for last!! We came across a deal on a 1980 31' Airstream Camper that we couldn't pass up. It has solar panels on top that allow the lights, radio, and water pump to all work without additional power. We need to do some repairs and replace the fridge, but other than that, it's in pretty good shape. New curtains and new flooring were put in in 2001, and it came with complete records and the original owner's manual. I'll be blogging some more about it as we get it cleaned up and do some of the repairs. When it starts to warm up, we'll park it out at Willow Run to allow us to spend some weekends out there working on our goals for the land and spending time with the animals.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Juicing


I can certainly tell a difference in my energy and general wellness when I'm juicing. Have any of you tried it? I have a Champion Juicer and it is an awesome addition to the kitchen...it also helps when juicing for jelly. Here's the story of my breakfast one morning last week:

Here's the pile of fruits and veggies I started with:


After sending them through the trusty Champion, here's the color in my juice...isn't it lovely? Can you imagine all the vitamins and antioxidants in there?


And this is all that's left over...(it goes straight out to the chickens, who also love it when I'm juicing regularly!):


Believe it or not, you can't taste the spinach at all, and the carrot really adds a nice flavor when combined with all the fruits. My 7 and 5 year old girls will agree that this juice is yummy! They always get excited when they hear the juicer whirring!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Views from Willow Run...




Willow Run


Willow Run received two precious little gifts today...meet Red and Smokey! Aren't they adorable? One of these will eventually be in our freezer, so I'm trying hard not to look at those impossible eyelashes and all that cuddly fur...we'll see how this goes.
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