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Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Gift

Ok I received a holiday gift and I was very sceptical. It was one of those gift in a jar things. This one was bean soup, so it had an herb packet, 2 beef bullion cubes and a jar of beans. Of course the boys thought is was beautiful and would then, of course, make a wonderful soup. So we made it. Really easy. Instead of adding water and bullion cubes I just added vegetable broth, we are vegetarians (well three of us are anyway). It was DELICIOUS. Can I say that again it was DELICIOUS.

I now want to make my own packets, thinking that having this in the pantry would be just so easy when I am busy and don't have time to think about what we are having for dinner. Or don't have time to be home to cook it. I think you could put this in a slow cooker and let it simmer all day and be great.


So now I have ordered the book of Gifts in a Jar, the soup one so I can make up my own. Very surprised. You never know. LOL

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wool Beads

OK I am loving that Living Crafts Magazine. Can I say it yet again, LOL. They had an article on wool beads. Duh how come I never thought of that. So easy to make, just take a little wool, run it under a little hot water and roll it in your hands, like you were making a play doh ball, until it is a tight ball and then let it dry. It took me all of 2 minutes to make two small wool balls. After they dried overnight I used a fat needle to make a couple of holes and there you have it, two really cute wool beads. I turned mine into earrings. You can see the earrings in the picture, although the beads aren't hanging like if they were in an ear, LOL. But you get the idea. The ones in the book are more complicated, but these took me a total of about 10 minutes if you don't count the dry time. I am going to make a few more as gifts for Christmas for my friends, they are just that cute. LOL.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Living Crafts

I friend of mine just introduced me to a new magazine. I love it. Can I say that again....I love it. It is called Living Crafts. It is so full of wonderful craft ideas from more complicated to very easy. Crafts that are more spiritual in nature, crafts that are fun, crafts to do for your family, crafts to do with children (of all ages). I can see several things I want to try from this first issue, a couple I see that I already have the necessary items hanging around my house.

Anyway I wanted to pass along this great gift. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brownies

I found the most delicious and easy brownie recipe. The boys and I have made three batches in the last two weeks, one for a Holiday party tomorrow night, we will see if they last that long. YUMM....


3/4 C Earth Balance, you could also use butter
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C cocoa powder
3/4 C flour
3/4 C chocolate chips
1/2 C nuts (optional)



Easy, only 6 ingredients if you don't add nuts. Spread in 9X13 cake pan, and cook 30 minutes at 325 degrees. I mean it doesn't get any simpler than this, or more delicious. Let them cool completely in the pan before you cut the brownies, of course unless you are like us and don't mind rough edges, we can never wait until they are completely cooled.

I have found the most amazing recipes looking through the blogs of other people, so if you have a favorite recipe I haven't found yet just leave me a link in the comment section. Whenever I try out a new recipe from a fellow blogger I always leave a link in my post so people can find their way back to these wonderful cooks.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Alpacas

OK just in case there is one person out there who hasn't heard about my goal to raise alpacas ;-) I posted about it on the TN Unschooling list in response to a mom who asked about unschooling. OK so yes I can turn anything into a way to talk about alpacas and my dream, LOL. I thought I would repost it here:

>>>>>>My question is, in keeping with the unschooling way of life (not a structured, sit down and teach from school books and take test), how do you teach your math and english. My children are in the seventh grade and I am concerned that these skills may not be up to their level.<<<<<<<<<

Unschooling is a different creature all together. You really have to get your mind around it, and that takes a lot for many people. Coming from a "school" society it takes a total mind shift. See with unschooling there is no "level" to be up to. Each child, each person, is an individual with unique gifts. There is no level, no grade, no grouping of subjects that each child should know. That is school thinking. Schools have so ingrained in this society that each 12 year old needs to know XYZ to move on and "progress" it is very linear. With unschooling you just work toward joy, living joyfully, working on with things that you are interested in. Different things are important to different people.

Think about adults. There is nothing that says that I have to know what other 42 year old women know. And when I want to learn something like knitting for example (since I learned that in the last couple of years), I started asking people. I knew how to read a pattern from crocheting, I asked someone about knitting, she showed me how to knit but it seemed slow and cumbersome, so I kept asking people and reading and looking on the Internet. I mean there must be more than one way to knit. And I was right, someone showed me a different way that was so much quicker.

Then the yarn, just so much out there, I had to experiment with what different yarns of different materials would do. What colors look good together and what do not. What size needles to use with different weight yarns. I was knitting away, but oh my gosh, from there I got into felting, first by accident when a sock got mixed in the wash, then on purpose with knitted wool. So I started reading about that, how to felt on purpose and bought myself some roving and started wet felting and needle felting (whole other world) and making little bags.

Which has led me to spinning, I mean come on how cool to make your own yarn. And I have just bought several books on spinning, and my dh is getting me a wheel for Christmas (you can't imagine how excited I am about that) if I was to be able to spin my own yarns.

OK so my next project is alpacas. When we were at the Live and Learn Conference in NM I took a tour of a small alpaca ranch, just fabulous. This woman is amazing with these animals, and her approach to the whole thing is very organic, she just bought some alpaca with her dad and jumped in and now 13 years later has a ranch with over 200 head. I bought some of her yarn and it is the softest yarn I have ever worked with. We have 12 acres here so I want to fence off some and buy a few fiber animals, so that I can have alpacas. And there are a couple of small farms around here that I can learn from. I have bought a few books and read on a couple of alpaca yahoo lists so I can learn all about them before we make the purchase.

See how one thing just leads to another, and I pick up what I need to know as I need to know it. If someone had told me that I had to know about alpacas years ago it would not have done me any good. If I had to learn it for a test and I would have forgotten all about it. But now it is important to me, now it is something I am interested in. Now it is exciting. But does every 42 year old woman need to know how to raise alpacas....no...that would be silly.

So just relax, don't compare your child to any other child. Help him live a joyful life and he will make his own path in this world. Be there to help him find the answers to his questions, listen to his hopes and dreams, be his chauffeur, and his life will work itself out.

OK now looking at your question, LOL, I realize I didn't really answer it. My answer is I don't teach my son math or English. That does not mean they do not know how to work with numbers or read and write. But those things are things they can't help but bump into when living in the world. So they pick these things up as they need them. OK that was the short answer. LOL

Take care,

Pam G

Mittens

I have been knitting away these last couple of weeks. Discovered mittens, LOL. My mom used to make us all mittens back years ago, so I searched online for a mitten pattern and have been making mittens ever since. Well the occasional pair of socks, LOL. But it is mittens AND socks for Christmas for my family and friends. Isn't the Internet wonderful. I can't wait for Christmas either, Jackson asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said a spinning wheel. I think I have mentioned at least once that I want to own alpacas and spin my own alpaca yarn. I just LOVE how soft it is, so luxurious. So Jackson is getting me a wheel for Christmas. YES!!



I will hopefully have lots of pictures to share in the future, surrounding my wheel.

Monday, November 26, 2007

RAIN

OK it is finally raining here. I understand that it rained just a little bit here while we were on vacation in Hawaii, that was the end of October. Since then it has rained twice but each time for only like 5 minutes. You know enough to wet the pavement then it stopped. So nothing that amounted to anything. And we are in such dire need of water here. We have really started to conserve in our house. Other than the usual, don't let the water run while you are brushing your teeth, we are saving the water we used to waste while waiting for it to turn hot for a shower etc. This water is saved in a rain barrel (since we haven't had any rain, LOL) and we use it for our chickens and rabbits.

It is amazing how much water is wasted just waiting for it to get hot. I was shocked. Enough to water our chickens and rabbits and have water left. But today it is raining, hopefully all day, I have never been so glad to see the rain. YAY!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sweet Potato Bread

OK I have made sweet potato bread before but this is a savory bread instead of the one I usually make, a sweet quick bread. And it is delicious. The recipe came from Christy's Farm Dreams blog and I altered it a bit. Here is the recipe:






water - 1 cup
Unbleached white flour - 2 3/4 cup
Instant Yeast - 1 tsp
mashed sweet potatoes - 3/4 cup
softened butter - 1 tablespoons
Unbleached white flour - 1/2 cup
salt 1/2 TBS


I altered it by using about 1 1/4 cup hot water, and about 3 1/2 cups total flour with about 1 1/2 cups being whole wheat. I also used 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato, about 3 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp salt. Cook for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Actually I guess I altered the recipe quite a bit but it has the same feel to it, LOL. And it was delicious, a nice bread that has a bit more substance than just plain bread. We all loved it here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazing what some companies are doing!

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — At Frito-Lay’s factory here, more than 500,000 pounds of potatoes arrive every day from New Mexico to be washed, sliced, fried, seasoned and portioned into bags of Lay’s and Ruffles chips. The process devours enormous amounts of energy, and creates vast amounts of waste water, starch and potato peelings.


Now, Frito-Lay is embarking on an ambitious plan to change the way this factory operates, and in the process, create a new type of snack: the environmentally benign chip.

Its goal is to take the Casa Grande plant off the power grid, or nearly so, and run it almost entirely on renewable fuels and recycled water. Net zero, as the concept is called, has the backing of the highest levels of corporate executives at PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito-Lay. For the Full story.

Friday, November 16, 2007

German Knitting


Also, known as Continental knitting or European knitting. Someone had asked to know more about this "faster" way of knitting. So I did a Google search and found that wikipedia had some great directions with pictures of every step. VERY NICE. It is much faster, but I know a friend of mine has had a hard time switching because she has been knitting for some time. So if you are already a knitter it might take some getting used to.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas

OK I know it is early for that post. My mom showed me how to knit years and years ago, when I was probably around 8 or 9 years old. But for me it took too much time, so while I knew how to knit, how to read a pattern, how to show others to knit, I chose not to. Crocheting was my yarn craft of choice. And I do love crocheting but it isn't knitting, and you can't really crochet socks, I have tried many times with many patterns, just not the same.



Last year a friend showed me how to knit a different way, she said everyone in Europe knits like this. It was so much easier, and it was easy for me to switch. I think that is because it had been so many years since I had picked up knitting needles, LOL. So I have been knitting up a storm SOCKS!! Yes, the one thing I have always wanted to do, knit socks. So everyone this year is getting socks for Christmas, hand knit by ME.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is Fiji Water going green

Fiji is making progress toward going green.


Here is part of the Fiji plan:


Specifically, the company says it will install a windmill in 2009 to provide energy to its bottling plant in Fiji in the South Pacific; it will ship bottles of water intended for sale on the East Coast to the Port of Philadelphia, rather than truck them east from Los Angeles, as it does now; it will use biodiesel and other alternative fuels in its trucks and as a backup at its plant when the winds are calm; and it will reduce the amount of plastic and paper it uses for bottles and cartons.


But you have to question as Terrapass does:

Understand that the carbon community holds Fiji Water in roughly the same regard they do Hummers. That is, with a disdain that borders on the irrational. (“You mean to tell me you’re taking a product that can be produced locally and is available for free virtually everywhere on the planet, and replacing it with an expensive version that is packaged in tiny plastic bottles before being shipped 10,000 miles on emissions-spewing cargo boats and trucks? Kill me now.”)





For the whole article please visit the terrapass site blog.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sweet Potatoes

Yesterday was sweet potato day, LOL. We still have sweet potatoes from our garden, actually we are storing them in the garden. We don't get much of a freeze here in NC and we don't have a root cellar so we figured leaving them in the ground would be the best way of keeping them as long as possible, and it has worked. So yesterday I baked a double batch of bagels, enough to last us the week, and then Jackson and I went down to the garden to dig up sweet potatoes.

We dug up just two plants, enough for what I needed. I also used tomatoes I had from my garden and parsley still growing strong, LOL. I did an online search for sweet potato bread (knew there had to be a recipe out there) and some kind of main dish using sweet potatoes. This is what I came up with, and both recipes were delicious:









Sweet Potato Bread
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C oil (I used melted earth balance)
1 C mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 C flour (I used about 1 3/4 C but I also had large eggs)
1/2 C water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
cook in loaf pan at 325 degrees for 75 minutes.

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
1 pound ground beef (I used crumbles as we are vegetarian)
1 large onion
vegetables or your choice (I used a bag of frozen mixed veggies)
1 can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I left this out)1 tsp brown mustard
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
S&P to taste
6 sweet potatoes mashed with butter and milk for the top (I used vegetable broth and earth balance to mash)

Cook up the onion and ground beef and place that in the bottom of an over proof casserole dish. Cook up the vegetables, add tomatoes, S&P, w. sauce, mustard, parsley, add this on top of the ground beef. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes on the top and cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot through.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Banana Bread


Ohhh, I made my mom's banana bread yesterday. So yummy. I loved it as a child and every time I make it I think of her. My boys love it too. Although they were not around to have my mom make it for them, maybe when I pass the recipe on to them and they are making it, they will think of me. We had some bananas, actually a lot of bananas and some were starting to get over ripe. They just smelled delicious, and the boys love it fresh out of the oven, so they were hot and wonderful. Here is the recipe, I know my mom wouldn't mind sharing:


3 mashed bananas-4 if they are small
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (I use earth balance to keep it dairy free)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional) (I usually leave these out)
1 tsp vanilla
bake for 1 hr 15 min on a low 300 degree oven

Friday, November 9, 2007

Winter chill

Although we don't really have "winter" here in western NC where we live, it does get a little chilly. And the last few days have been chilly. We have a fireplace in the house but do not use it for heat. Anyone that owns a fireplace knows what I mean, they just are not efficient as a heat source. We do have some acreage here and use any fallen trees for the wood. So I do have some wood available, what the termites have not used up already, LOL.



So the last couple of days I have started a fire in the fireplace. The dogs love to snuggle up in front of it, and it just makes the whole living room feel warm and cozy. It is nice to sit and knit and rock in front of the fire, or read all snuggled up by the fire. A friend sent me some wild crafted tea about a week ago, so brewing up a pot of that adds to the whole atmosphere. Do I miss the cold winter of Maine?...not really. Do I enjoy the fire, tea and cozy feeling of being all snuggled down in the winter?....yes. Can you have one without the other?...certainly. LOL

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Carbon Footprint

I just finished purchasing our Terra passes. I know some think this is the "easy" way out of being responsible for our carbon footprint. And around here we are very aware of what we do and how it affects the earth. But there are a couple of things that are not very earth friendly. One...we like to travel. LOVE to travel. Our last trip was to Hawaii so I just finished purchasing terrapasses to balance out that flight. I also have a BIG vehicle. We travel a lot, so when we purchased our vehicle we needed something that was SAFE, top priority, and can carry all our stuff. Thus we have a not so fuel efficient vehicle. To balance that out I have purchased a terrapass.



Basically you are donating money to efforts that are green such as wind/solar power, to offset your "not-so-green" living. And while I do believe we are doing all we can here at our house, I recognize that there are areas we are not compromising on. Living consensually we really needed to find a way to make it all work so, for us, terrapass has been the key.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dream People of the Amazon

I just finished watching the short movie Dream People of the Amazon. An amazing little movie. About the Achuar tribe of Ecuador. It is cool to see how these people have lived for years. Now there is the threat of big oil companies drilling for the valued oil that is in the ground under their homeland. Ecuador has given oil companies the go ahead to "research". The people of the region are fighting back. One interesting thing is that they are not only fighting to save the valuable rain forest that is their home but also to preserve their culture and way of life. In fighting this battle, it seems to me, they have already lost some of their culture and way of life. The demands of fighting a BIG company have forced them to modernize, although they seem to be adapting well, it makes you wonder what has already been lost forever.

RAIN

Well for this post I have no picture of the rain because we don't have any rain, haven't had any rain in a long while. It is so dry here. We are doing all we can to conserve water, my fall/winter garden is now all dried up, I stopped watering. We are taking quicker, fewer showers. Trying our best to conserve. I don't think some people really have a balanced perspective sometimes. I was on line last night and the TV was on, although I am not sure what channel. But it was some kind of talk program. The host was talking saying how she felt really bad for the people in the East who were experiencing a drought. Yeah, yeah. Then she said "they won't have water to wash their clothes, wash their dishes or water their lawns". What...did I just hear her right...did she say we won't have water to water our lawns. OK the lawns were gone a long time ago, we are under water restrictions now. It is so bad some counties are OUT of water and are buying water from elsewhere.

As if watering a lawn is a top three priority right under dishes and laundry. I think watering the grass and washing the car were two of the first things that we were asked to give up, way back some time ago. Although we do neither, LOL. It is becoming desperate around here, we NEED water. So if you know a rain dance...please do it...think of us.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Organics

I was writing a response to a comment on my "bagels" post but it was getting wayyyy too long so I turned it into a post itself. I was commenting that I am so hesitant now with the use, by companies, of the word "organic". Since the government made it's changes to what the word "organic" means and what can be done to food and still use the term "organic", I have seen so many companies coming out with their own "organic" line of products.

Are they "really" organic or do their foods just meet the guidelines now that the threshold has been lowered. It is REALLY confusing for the consumer and I have chosen not go by the little "certified organic" label anymore. I am trying to cook more for myself and buying my bulk items, and non bulk items, from companies I have known and used for years (before the changes). Not sure if those companies have changed their practices as well, I guess that is a possibility. But really, who has the time to research each and every company that they buy products from? And I know that I don't have the time or skill to make everything myself. It is frustrating.


We do the best we can, we think we are giving our families healthful foods, but are we? Can we ever be sure? I guess I have to do what I can and let go of the rest.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bagels

OK we are home from vacation. The boys LOVE bagels, I mean they could eat bagels every morning. I had been buying organic bagels but with gas prices rising every day we are not going to the health food store to shop anymore. Our local Ingels has so much organic food now that we can get almost everything we need with just a 15 minute drive from our house. Which I like. But no organic bagels. Have tried the regular deli bagels at the Ingels but they are just not that good, and we have been buying lenders bagels from the Ingels but I much prefer using organic, especially since it is something the boys eat almost daily.

So I decided to try making my own. This is a big step. It is hard unschooling and having my own things that I enjoy. I am always balancing organic, homemade, simple, easy, cheap, etc etc. I am sure many of you know what I mean. I am always thinking is it worth it to take the time to make myself? Is it something we use a lot of? Is expensive to buy outright? etc etc. Time is also valuable to me. But in this case I took it all into consideration and decided that since they eat so many bagels it would be worth it to try making my own. Thought it would be hard but it really isn't and the boys have decided these are the best bagels they have every had.

Here is my recipe, actually I took an existing recipe and tweaked it to suit us.

1 2/3 cup hot water
mix into the water:
3 tsp yeast
3 tbsp (about) honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp (about) olive oil

let that sit just a minute then add (I use my kitchen aid stand mixer with the dough hook on it) 1- 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups unbleached white flour.

Beat that (again I use the stand mixer) for 10 minutes then let it rise until doubled. Beat it down and let it stand for 15 minutes. Divide dough into 12 balls and stick your thumbs into the center of each ball and form into a bagel shape.


Heat a pan of water (1-2 inches of water) with 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp salt added, until it is boiling. Set the bagels into the boiling water and cook on one side for 3 minutes, then flip for 2 minutes and flip again for one more minute. Take them out of the water and blot them on a towel to get the excess water off. Place them on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until brown on top.


They were so good. I think I will be making these on a regular basis now. Here is a picture of today's batch (my first one) cooling. Enjoy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Eco-Tour

Yesterday we took an eco-tour of some of the jungle on the western side of the Big Island. It was fabulous. This botanist about 23 years ago bought up some "cattle" land and decided to let it go back to it's natural state. Since this part of the island gets lots of rain it didn't take any time at all for it to return to jungle. Along with the native plants he also has planted lots of other species of plant including different types of bamboo, which we found so interesting. It was just amazing to see what will grow in this environment.

We did learn that Hawaii has only about a dozen native plants and all are non poisonous and have no thorns. Theory is that when the plants first started growing on this island they did not need those defenses so quickly adapted to the environment. There was only one original mammal native to this island, the bat. Everything else was brought here and they have had "trouble" with different animals on and off over the years. Mongoose were brought in to take care of rats but the mongoose didn't eat the rats as they are day time predators so they have proliferated here. Also donkeys, pigs, and goats to name a few, are animals that were brought here for a reason then let go into the wild.
It was also so incredible to see how lava will support so much life if you just give it a little water. There are parts of the island covered in lava that have nothing growing, but these areas that get very little water, and one area gets only about 10 inches a year. Some areas where there is newer lava, have so much water that they are already lush jungles. We also learned that very little topsoil is brought onto the island. It isn't needed. Even the lush green grass growing around the resorts grows on crushed lava, just needs some fertilizer and water.

What an amazing place. And we were able to visit the Kona Coffee Company that was featured on Dirty Jobs, we love that show. Organic coffee, and they also make tea. I have just a few pictures to share.




Monday, October 22, 2007

Nene


We traveled to the other side of the island yesterday to visit Volcanoes National Park. Just amazing. But we were especially amazed by this one little bird the Nene. It lives in the lava fields near the volcanoes. It has feet that are adapted to climbing on the volcanic rocks, and even though there is little water, it survives this environment. It is the State Bird of Hawaii and is an endangered species. There are signs up everywhere to NOT feed these birds if you do see them, as this attracts them to the road where they are hit by cars. And signs to NOT pick the berries found in the lava fields, as this is essential food for the Nene. We looked and looked and finally spotted this very pretty bird and have a couple of pictures to share. Just an amazing animal that is coming back from the brink of extinction.





Sunday, October 21, 2007

Conservation

OK I have some interesting pictures I thought I would share here. While we were on the beach today, I met this woman who has been working with the Sea Turtle Conservation efforts here in Hawaii for 19 years. I guess I should say that we are on vacation right now in Hawaii and having a fabulous time. We also have Sea Turtle Conservation efforts in North Carolina too, but the difference is that here you can see the Sea Turtles out everywhere and at just about any time of day. We saw some earlier out eating sea weeds, then walking along the beach we saw another one up on the Lava rocks sunning herself, nice, warm spot. And later this afternoon while walking along the beach we saw a few out resting on the shore. She was saying that at night you can come out and see them lined up along the shore sleeping for the night. Very cool, they just ask that you not touch them or get too close. So here are some of our pictures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sustainable Living Roadshow

I thought this was just a great little piece, and found their web site. If you look on the site you can see their 2008 tour as well.

Sustainable Living Roadshow

Monday, October 15, 2007

The View

While hanging out laundry this morning I was taking the time to really enjoy the view from our deck. We have put the clothes line right across the deck. I hesitated at first, but we created a clothes line (well really 2) that can easily be taken down when we are having guests, and back up in a minute for more laundry. I have come to REALLY enjoy the placement of the lines. Right on the deck so I can look out over our property, see the mountains in the distance, feel the fresh air and gentle breeze, when there is one. This time of year is perfect. Not hot, not cold, a nice breeze and fresh smell, trees just barely starting to change to the colors of fall. I love hanging out laundry at this time of year, and tend to linger, taking extra care, so I can enjoy the time and cherish the feel of the clothes, thinking about each member of my family, what they are doing, the joy they bring into my life, and all we have created here.

So I thought I would share the view from our deck. In one of the pictures you can see part of the deck rail. Just amazing beauty.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Deer

Today while gathering eggs I noticed two deer. We see deer all the time here, but never this close, they are usually down in the field. This time they were just on the other side of the chicken coop. I was startled at first because I just saw a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. Then I realized what it was and just sat down.

OK yes, I have chairs up at the barn by the chickens, I think I have mentioned before that I love to sit and have a cup of tea and watch my chicks.

I sat there for about 10 minutes. At first the deer didn't know what to make of me. They stared at me staring at them. Then they went back to grazing for a while and moved slowly off into the woods. So amazing, probably about 15-20 feet away from me, beautiful.

I didn't have my camera with me. I do have some dried corn left from this years corn harvest so I think I am going to strew some ears up there to see if I can entice any deer back to the same spot. And will hopefully remember to bring my camera along and "shoot" some deer. That is the only "shooting" I can bare.

I do remember as a little girl, my dad brought me along hunting with him "once". I say once because he never brought me again. I was young and really had no idea what we were out there in the woods to accomplish. We saw a deer, beautiful deer, and my dad raised his rifle to shoot and I just let out a yelp. Scared the deer, angered my dad just a little, and we walked back home and that was my first and last "hunting trip".

Weeds and seeds

Well NOTHING has come up in our cold frames. STILL. Well I should say the weeds love it. So I took a section of the cold frame and replanted, this time with radish seeds. Had some left over, and radishes are so quick to germinate and produce, I thought that would be a good last minute crop. We will see what happens. I do see that the okra that was tilled under is sprouting nicely. Of course it will not be too much longer before it gets too cold for them, so they will not have time to produce. I wonder if I have any thin PVC and some clear plastic and could make a "green house" or sorts for them, hmmmm. Maybe I should just take advantage of what is coming up and see if I can keep them warm enough to produce anything.

I am glad the okra seeds germinated in a way, because I saved so many of the seeds myself for next year, and gave some away, so to see them germinate and grow is reassuring.

OK off to check on my radishes this morning.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge


I decided to post this weeks picture here. The subject for the month is food. So I couldn't think of a better picture than a picture of our eggs, from our well loved chickens. A handful because of the joy the hens give me, and the abundance I feel when gathering eggs.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fall Garden


OK nothing is growing in the cold frames. Not sure if it is the seeds or what. The rest of the garden is tilled under except for some herbs and pepper plants. I have been opening up the frames during the day as it has been really nice. At night I close them up because it gets a bit chilly. Oh well. We did have some green peppers today and I brought in some nice purple basil to make a pesto out of. And hopefully get some seeds from the basil. I did harvest some of the green, sweet basil seeds last week.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sweet Sweet Smell

Over the past few days a very sweet floral small has been wafting through our house. It is such a wonderful time of year, just a bit of a chill in the air in the evenings, and not unbearably hot during the day, so we tend to leave all windows open throughout the day to allow for so much fresh air exchange. But I can't get over, nor can I locate that wonderful smell. The smell is reminiscent of gardenias, gotta love the smell of gardenias, but we have no gardenias on our property. Jackson was guessing it was our big beautiful magnolia, but the smell isn't quite the same. And looking closer our magnolia is not in blossom right now. So I am still unable to locate the origin of the scent, but am enjoying it each and every minute anyway.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Apples


Well, yesterday (Sunday) we headed out to make our annual journey, well only about 30 minute drive, to pick apples. The ONLY place that I know of where you can still pick your own apples in this area. Some "say" you can pick your own, only to find out that what they mean is that they will pick them off the tree and put the apples into a huge bin and you can "pick" the apples out of the bin. NOT THE SAME!!

This place is beautiful and we have been coming back each year for about 6 years now. A lovely orchard with a huge selection of different types of apples. It is up in the mountains with a wonderful view of the area all around. You really feel like you must be at the closest point to heaven that exists on earth, surrounded by ripe, juicy, delicious apples. YUM!!

OK so back to reality, we get there and out from no where appears a sign "CLOSED". No it can't be....why are they closed. Don't they know this is one of the highlights of our year. The sign reads that most of their crop was damaged by an early frost. DARN. We were all so psyched for this, and such a bummer. So we talk about it for a while, and decide to go to one of the orchards in the valley, just another 20 minutes further up the road. Can't pick your own, can only buy pre-bagged apples, still fresher than in the store but NOT as fresh as the ones you pick yourself off the tree. We buy a couple of different varieties, and some local honey, takes a total of 5 minutes and we are off, eating apples as we go.

Because of the seriously bummed state of all vehicle occupants we decide to circle up around another 10 minutes and take a different route home that goes through a large town, and get something to eat. The restaurants were empty because it was like 3:00 in the afternoon, which is great. The waitress was wonderful and about 1/2 way through the meal she commented that we have beautiful children and that she was thrilled to see that we were letting them be just who they are. I am thinking she was looking at the long hair on my boys. LOL. Then she went on to say how she doesn't stress about little things and lets her daughter pick whatever she wants to wear etc. She was sincere and very polite. So that was kind of cool. Having a positive impact when you don't even think anyone is watching at all.

So we went home and later last night I made an apple pizza. The boys call it that because I use a pizza stone so the shape is like a pizza. I start with my homemade dough, a bit sweeter than a pizza dough, then add cut up fresh apples and top with a streusel that my German friend would be proud of. Cook for about 20 minutes and it is done, and delicious. Of course you have to let it cool for a few minutes for the apples to set up and so you don't burn your mouth. But delicious. We all enjoyed it. As you can see from the picture I took this morning it is already 1/2 gone.
So a great day after all, just not what we had planned. Sometimes that happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sweet Potatoes


We planted sweet potatoes this year, first time I have ever grown sweet potatoes. I think I blogged about them a while back. Well they are finally ready and so we pulled up a few today, for supper tonight. YUM!!! gotta love sweet potatoes. Growing up in Maine, I never tasted sweet potatoes until I moved away, then I fell in love with the little things. So we will have sweet potatoes for while now, delicious.


Chai Latte



I have always loved a chai latte. For the past several years I have started my day with a cup. Just so smooth and relaxing. Usually I just pick up a pre-made carton of the Oregon Chai or Tazo Chai, and mix it with vanilla soy milk. YUMMMM, although they both have different flavors they are both good.



I started thinking, that is a lot of $$ spent on chai and I bet, online, I can find a recipe that would cost me a lot less to make myself. So voila....here is the recipe. Me and my boys love it. This is is my adaptation of the original recipe I pulled off the Internet.



4-slices of fresh ginger, I cut them as thin as I can
1-cinnamon stick
4-whole cloves
1-tsp powdered cardamom
1/2-tsp vanilla extract
1-dash nutmeg
1-tbsp sugar
1/4 -C honey ( I usually triple the recipe and then use 1/2 C honey, I have found that what the recipe calls for is just too much for me. So for this recipe I would probably use less than 1/4 cup, maybe 1/8 cup honey or a tab bit more.)
3-Bigelow Darjeeling Blend tea bags
2 cups water
Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes then strain and combine with 2 cups of milk or silk. You can store this in the fridge easily and make a larger batch.

I use organic ingredients and picked up the bigelow tea because I had never made it before and didn't want to change the recipe until I had tried it. I think from now on I will pick up a nice organic black tea, and I probably already have some in my tea basket now.

Enjoy the recipe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ant Lion


OK we have seen the ant lion pits all over the place up by our chickens. There is an area that is very sandy there and under cover so it gets very little rain. The pits are too cool and we sit and watch for long stretches of time as the ant lion builds the pit. Can't see the ant lion just the sand flying up out of the hole it is digging, very cool to watch, and mesmerizing.

Dallen has been helping me gather eggs every day now and he stops at the ant lion pits to try to catch a glimpse of the ant lion itself. They are hard things to catch. He will take a piece of straw and gently wiggle it in the pit to attract the ant lion and the other day came so close, he could see the pincher like jaws but that was it before it retreated back into it's hole.

Well today was just a treat. He really wanted to see what the ant lion looked like, in person, so he showed me how to giggle the straw just right to get the ant lion to come out of it's hole a bit. So we were up there for a few minutes going from hole to hole, trying to see one. I giggled the straw in one particularly large hole and the side collapsed a bit, and right there was the ant lion just sitting waiting for it's prey. We took it out for a minute to get a good look at it, then gently placed it back into it's pit so it could go on about it business of catching dinner.

Very cool, and I am so glad I was there to experience it with my son.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cold Frames




It rained all day yesterday, what a blessing. But we are still low on water. Jackson helped me fashion a couple of cold frames today, I have never used cold frames so this will be our experiment. It was totally made out of recycled things from around our house so I guess if it doesn't work well the only thing wasted was our time, and not much of that. We also took the time to pull up our tomato cages and tomatoes while we were up in the garden. The day is just perfect for working outside, nice and sunny but with a nice cool breeze. Felt really nice. I always enjoyed spending time in our garden. We have been talking about next year. The weeds got the best of us again this year. It is just so so so HOT here mid summer that it makes it dangerous to be outside. Great weather for using the solar oven but for gardening it is miserable. Next year we are going to try mulching better to try to keep the weeds down some. Also my youngest may be at a point where it is OK if I go outside to garden in the morning while he is still asleep. Right now he does not like that. He likes me to be in the house when he wakes up. Which has been fine with me because, believe me, there is plenty to do inside the house to keep me busy.
Come Spring we will see how he is feeling about it all. And maybe revamp our morning routine a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

RAIN



Oh yes, it is raining. We have needed rain for so long and it looks and feels great. It is 9:00 in the morning here and I just ran outside to just be in the rain and also grab a couple of pictures, just like gold falling from the sky. Warm, refreshing, replenishing, renewing....rain. Now my seeds can germinate, hopefully. I have been holding off on watering the garden because the water levels here are really low, and at the same time been just praying for some rain. We are looking forward to a wonderful day FILLED with R.A.I.N. Does it get any better than this?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Last of the Goodness


In the last picture I posted on the 11th you could see my son Dallen in our freshly tilled garden. What you can't see in that picture is the very last of our quickly fading tomato and pepper plants. They are so dry, but not enough tomatoes or peppers to warrant watering them right now. We are trying to be really tight with our water.

Today after Dallen went out to the chickens with me we stopped in at the garden. We have one cucumber left from our garden and I was hoping to have just a last few tomatoes and maybe a pepper to make some bruschetta tonight.

Well as you can see in the picture this is the very last of our garden goodness for this season. We do have a few watermelon we are enjoying in our other garden but that is it. What a lovely year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Planting

OK Jackson tilled up my garden last night. I wanted to be able to pull up the plants so as not to stir up the ground but just didn't have time this year. Will try again next year. I know it is late in the season but we will give it a go and see how it works. As you can see from the picture the ground is so dry and dusty. It is a HOT day today but just turned dark and overcast so my thought is that it "might" rain. We will see. But I wanted to get the seeds in the ground just in case. If not I will go out and water tonight a bit. We are on a water restriction here and I hate to waste water so I will only water a bit. It is supposed to rain toward the end of the week too.
Hopefully we can make those cold frames this weekend and see if I can get any greens to grow. It is usually trial and error with me. I have tried following the advice of books and web sites but I seem to work better just winging it and seeing what happens. So that is how we work it here.

Seems to be working fine for us.
Oh and here is a picture of the beautiful purple basil we grew this year. Great flavor and adds great color to the garden and anything I cook.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back from Live and Learn

We are back from the Live and Learn Conference...renewed spiritually. A great conference. Great people. I gave out some of my Okra seeds there but missed a couple of people I promised seeds to, so will have to snail mail them.

Didn't get my fall seeds planted or my cold frames built. Jackson said he will till up my garden when he gets home, so hopefully I can get my seeds in the ground tomorrow, then it is supposed to rain. A welcome relief from the lack of rain we have been having. I know it is late in the season but these are extra seeds I have on hand so I figure if it works, great, if not that is fine and I will have the cold frames all built for next year and maybe can get an earlier start on them.

We will see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Live and Learn

Off to the Live and Learn Conference today. Will be there most of a week. Hoping to get to share some thoughts on gardening, and living green with some other people at the conference but we will see if there is time. I am bringing some of my Okra seeds to share, see if these grow as well for others in other parts of the country as they did for me.
:-)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Seeds


Well we planted okra this year. Not my favorite vegetable but Jackson loves it and I like it in soups and stews etc. So I left some on the plant to dry for seeds. We bought Red Velvet Okra from seeds of change. What a wonderful okra, beautiful flowers and a wonderful red pod. Just a gorgeous addition to the garden. Should have taken pictures of that I guess. Now they have dried on the plants and are ready to harvest for the seeds. We will have a ton of seed so will have a great crop next year. YAY!!!