Thursday, June 23, 2016

I do have an Achilles...

Yep.  I am not the strong dieting force one would have you believe.  I have faced down coffee cake, cookies. Chic Fila Fries, etc without blinking.  Yet here I am thwarted by.....Sams Club cakes.  Hey but they're good!  We ordered a cake for our Father's day family get together, and for Einstein's graduation (ahem with honors).  The Get together and party were on the same day.  We ended up bringing home almost 1 1/2 cakes; one vanilla with whipped frosting and the other chocolate with chocolate frosting.  Both are calling my name.  What's a girl to do!!!!!!


Just kidding.  Well not entirely.  I am having cake.  I'll probably not lose weight this week.  I've accepted that.  I was probably not going to anyway.  DH is on vacation, Fathers/Graduation Day celebrations, taking Einstein out to lunch in honor of his accomplishments (ahem with honors), and a camping trip scheduled for this weekend.  Talk about running the gauntlet.  So this is one of those times where I say SCREW IT!  I'm trying (so far successfully) to pace myself.  I'm still trying to count as much as I can and not go over too much   I'm also trying to make sure I'm being active.   I've already resigned myself to whatever the scale says on Monday.  I can say Screw it because whatever isn't eaten by my two sons and their friends this weekend, will be thrown out!  There shouldn't be anything left (I hope).  Monday's weigh in will be my resume day.  This is just one of those times when you break a bit.  I'm sure Christmas will be another.  It's called life.  I would rather have the cake and eat it too.  Haha.  I would rather have the cake when I want it than after I have eaten everything else trying to not eat the cake only to then eat the cake.  Know what I mean?  So that is how I plan.

So this post isn't a total loss.  Here is Einstein's Graduation cake!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My go to emergency bread (recipe)

There are times when my mind doesn't function like a steel trap; more like a wet noodle.  In fact I would say the "steel trap" description is more an exception than the rule.  I cope with this mainly due to the fact that the noodle lands on different things each time.  In other words, I don't always forget to pick my son up from work......or..anyway!   Every once in a while it will sneak up on me that I am out of bread, it's evening, and I need bread first thing in the morning for Dh lunch.  Much like this evening.  Happily I took my oldest son, Einstein, around to submit resumes, picked almost 4 lbs of blueberries, solved a minor first aid need for my grandson, steam cleaned my carpet, washed two loads of clothes (didn't get to hang them cause we were supposed to get rain ((we didn't grrr)), took Rubic to class, Einstein to a Graduation meeting, and while calmly washing dishes I realized I had no bread for lunch tomorrow and it was almost 8 pm.  Not to panic.  I have a really easy go to recipe that I use in situations just like this.

Cuban Bread

5-6 cups flour
2 TBS yeast
1 TBS salt
2 TBS sugar
2 cups hot water

Put 4 cups of flour in your mixing bowl with your salt, yeast, and sugar.  Mix together.  Dump the 2 cups of hot (110-115)water into the bowl.  Stir 100 strokes or 3 min with a mixer.  Stir in asmuch remaining flour as you can with a spoon.  Dump out on the counter and knead dough for 8 minutes (you can do this in smaller batches of minutes at a time).  Shape into a ball and put in a greased bowl turning once to coat.  Let rise 15 min.  Punch down and divide into 2 loaves.  Shape each into a ball and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Slash an "x" in the top.  Brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  I let mine rise a little extra here because I like a lighter loaf, but you don't have to.  Let rise 10 minutes at least.  Place a cake pan in the bottom of the oven and pour boiling water init.  Place the loaves in the oven and then preheat to 400.  Bake 40 minutes til golden brown.

I know you're thinking "Sounds like a lot of work", but in actuality it has less kneading time and rising time.  It took a little over an hour to get two finished loaves from the oven and cooling on the stove.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I DID IT!!!!!!! (pics)

Feeling pretty proud of myself right now.  May I introduce you to  my new solar dryer!  Built by little ole me!!!!  I did have some help.  Shout out to Justin who helped me know how to best string the line so I wouldn't screw up the posts.  Also a thank you to Rubic for helping me with the tightening of the line, Einstein for hauling the 4x4s to the back yard for me, and Dh for picking everything up I needed.  Not everything was purchased though.  The 2x8 cross boards were already here (scrap wood) and cut to a size I could use (yay).  Also the cement, bolts, and line were all here being used in some capacity or in storage.  We purchased the Heavy duty eye hooks and the 4x4s.  All in all this cost less than $30 to build.  It would have cost more had I had to buy everything, but would still have been less than the cost of buying a pre-made clothesline.  Plus I believe this is better made than the store bought.

Excuse the tent, we are going camping next weekends and so we have it up airing out.  In all fairness it was there first before the clothesline.  I figure they can share for now.  I took the last pic to prove to you this line does hold clothes!  Even jeans!  There are a few of the lines I need to tighten some, and I need more clothes pins.  It has been a while since my last clothesline and I am running low.  On my list, and, no I am not going to make them myself.  I do draw the line somewhere.

So now we see how well this affects my power bill.  This line runs parallel to the end of my garden if you need to get an idea of where it is relative to the rest of my back yard.  It is about 8-10 feet away from my first concrete bed.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

WOOPS! Almost got by me

I just now realized that it is Saturday and I haven't posted!  For Shame!  But never fear!  I can't resist the urge to drone on and on so since you're here anyway, go ahead and read!

HOT!  Real Hot!  Today.  Our first in the 90's technically.  Never being one to let a little heat stroke stand in the way of good eats, I went outside.  In the morning that is.  You know I'm not crazy regardless of what you hear.  The garden is in full swing and we were out there with it.  Today's haul consisted of 3 lbs blue berries, probably 7 ish lbs of green beans (in the canner as we speak) and 6 squash.  I trade a few squash to a neighbor who offered us some plums from his plum tree.  Small little things, but good and sweet.  I washed a bunch of them and put them in the fridge for fresh eating and then cooked some to make......something, I know not what yet.  While out roast...uh basking in the sun, we decided to once again let our oldest chickens out to forage.  This allowed me to get into the run and turn under the sand in there.  They had it packed pretty good.  For the most part the chickens stayed near the compost pile, but we did have to shoo them away from blueberries and the garden a bit.  One time we found them over by the tree line of the woods behind our house.  We shooed them away from there and back toward the house.  Garris, our rooster, was not being told what to do and he and DH had a meeting of the minds.  Uh Dh won.  Aside from that they enjoyed the day and so did we.

Dh was gone to take Rubic to work when I got done and ready to go in and get a shower.  I didn't want to go in without the chickens safely back in the run.  So I took some stale bread and made a trail.  Like Hansel and Gretel, they followed the trail right back into the run.  I was amazed at how easy it was.  Once in the run they loved what I did with the place.

My day was not complete once finished outside.  All of this bounty means indoor stuff too.  Like I said before my canner is full with the first load of today's harvest and I am pretty sure I have a least one more load before my head will lay down to rest.  The blueberries were easy; washed and frozen.  The squash, what wasn't traded, was eaten with dinner."

On the " not gardening" front.  I am getting a new solar dryer!  That's right a top of the line solar dryer.  I sound like Miss Thing don't I.  Hey I'm hip.  I'm happening.  No.  Not the latest Maytag offer.  I am putting another clothesline up.  This was on my list of things to do once I came home from my away from home work back in September, but I haven't been able to get around to it.  Now it's 90+ degree weather and we are having to turn the AC on.  Time to take care of business.  Having a clothesline will not just help with the power bill in the obvious way, but it will also help with keeping the house temp down, which in turn helps with the power bill..  At least as far as the thermostat is concerned.  Yea.  When they built this house they had the crazy notion of putting the thermostat in the laundry room with the dryer and the smoke alarm in the  kitchen.  If I ever have to turn the heat up on my oven, the alarm goes off.  We joke that it is our dinner bell.  Anyway, I digress.  Hanging clothes to dry also extends the life of the clothes.  So many benefits to a clothesline.  I will post the pic once I get it done.

So there you have it.  The goings on at the homestead.  What's up on your homestead?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

An apparent glimpse of my inner tree hugger

Every summer my sister and I go gallivanting while she is out of school for the summer (she's a teacher not a student).  Usually we go to the "Ric Rac", a local thrift store, but sometimes we just chat.  We don't care where we go or what we do.  That isn't the focus.  The focus is spending time together.  Yesterday was our first day together for this summer, but instead of being at her house, we were at our parents house.  We left our parents house to go find an estate sale we read about.  This estate sale just happened to be on the road we both grew up on.  We never did find the estate sale, for whatever reason.  In a bout of nostalgia we decided to go see the old property.  The Driveway was still there,  but just barely.  There was even an old newspaper box still standing.  We parked at the top of the drive and decided to see how far we could walk.  There needs to be some explaining here.  We grew up on 19 acres of rural land and the house sat near the back.  Our driveway was 7/10 of a mile long.  Anyway, we started walking.  Nature had all but taken over the property.  It's been about 18 years since my parents sold the land.  Massive pine trees stood in what used to be the cow pasture.  Daddy's pasture fence still stood tall, a testament to his quality work.  We could still make out land marks here and there.  We made it all the way to the bend of the driveway right before the house.  Trees totally blocked what used to be the drive way.  It was just as well.  The old house burned down long ago, after my parents sold the property.  We had no desire to see the remnants.  The property is zoned commercial and for sale again.  We joked about how the siblings should just buy the land and all live on it.  Bring it back to the way it was.  I long to do that.  I really do.  The best thing my parents ever did was move us to that place when we were kids.  As we walked back we noticed tree seedlings scattered all over, some growing up through inches of the gravel driveway.  We hurried back to our parents house and returned with something to dig and some solo cups.  We each took home two seedlings from the property.  They are our link to the past.

We had a great time together, but there was something kinda sad as well.  As we made our way to the estate sale, we got lost in all of the new businesses, shops, etc that had come up and changed the landscape.  Nothing was the same.  We did manage to find our way however.  When we moved to that area as kids there was nothing.  We were just about the only house on the road.  Now the property is zoned commercial to add even more buildings etc.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not going to espouse government mandates or anything like that to control land use.  That doesn't mean I don't mourn the loss of such beauty only to be replaced by concrete and landscaped grasses.  We feel like we are being "green" by driving a hybrid, buying organic, or using energy saving appliances.  Yet even the more "enlightened" environmentalist get excited over acres of trees plowed down to make room for another Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  They will talk on the cell phones, not considering the trees that were felled to make room for that one cell tower.  My opinion is that there comes a time when we have enough development.  Can we please just look at a piece of land and see it's beauty?  To use it in a way that sustains that beauty?  Personally I don't believe Global Warming is true, but if it is, there is no way we can, as a planet, do anything about it for these very reasons.

Like I said, I am in no way advocating for government mandates.  I believe that less government involved the better.  I am pleading to our better angels to think before we use.  That includes land.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and by recycle I mean find a new use for something you would normally throw away.  In regards to land, look to existing properties if feasible before expanding to untouched.  On an personal level.  Rethink how you use items.   Contrary to today's belief that we are the green generation, look to our ancestors and realize we have a way to go.

   You want to see green?  I will give you some green.  Take a look:

During the depression, Mills realized that women were using flour sacks to make their children's clothes so they began to put pretty prints on them and made the Label able to be washed out.  Now we have paper that could be used in a compost pile, but more than likely ends up in a plastic trash bag in a land fill.

I actually have early memories of the milk man coming to our house.  You left your empty bottles for them to pick up and they left your milk.  Easy recycling.
Items used to be shipped in crates that you could reuse for other things.  Now we have card board that needs to be recycled in some way and we buy the crates at a hip store for decoration.  These are just a few things we used to do.  My mother used to re-use her glass mayonnaise jars for canning.  I still have some in my canning stash and I use them!  My dad used to organize his work shop with glass baby food jars for holding nuts, bolts, etc.  I hear all the time we are a consumer society, but on top of that I believe we are a disposable society.  This article has caused me to rethink my own purchases to minimize waste while still staying in budget.  I will go into that later.

Okay, I am off my soap box (which by the way was a box that used to have soap, but someone used it to stand on and give a speech.  Just sayin)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Well Yay and Verily!

Might I say in the paraphrased words of Shakespeare "Get thee to a garden!"(she said, Munching on frozen bananas ((I know that has nothing to do with gardening, but I just came in from there and it's hot!)).  I know there are people that can't have a garden for whatever reason, but I can't understand those that can have a garden, not have a garden.  Boggles my mind.  There are so many reasons to garden.  The obvious that comes to mind is taste, but the list goes on and on.

1)  Veggies from the garden last much longer in your fridge than store bought.  Many store bought fruits and veggies are shipped in and are old..ahem...close to expiration when they arrive.  Yes this includes organic and "local" which can still be a state away.  That is why your lettuce seems to wilt before you can use it all.  Because you pick out of your garden, you have the weeks normally given to the shipping companies.  Speaking of companies...

2)  Want to stick it to "the man"?  Imagine how you will feel walking by the produce or the canned veggie aisle with the smug satisfaction of knowing you already have it at home and don't need to buy second grade at the store.  Not only that, but you know what went into producing that veggie.  You know there are no funny pesticides or chemical sprays added.  You know it was picked when ripe and not picked early and sprayed to make it ripen.

3)  Want that swim suit figure?  Need to vent your frustration because of something at work or a relationship?  A raised bed and/or gardening tools are much cheaper than therapy or a gym membership.  Not to mention cheaper than an attorney or bail money.   Nothin says physicality like using an old fashioned shovel or cultivator.  Speaking of saving money....

4)  When you get your produce from the store, not only are you buying second grade produce, but you are paying more for it!  I can take 1 oz of seeds costing maybe $1,and get pounds and pounds of food in return.  Granted I have to care for them, water them, pick the food, etc, but that just falls into my physical activity point.

5)  Side benefit most people don't think of....Would you like a break from your little darlings?  While kids will follow you anywhere in the house, including the bathroom, to get your attention; ironically they won't follow you to the garden.  Amazing how that happens.

You don't need all the latest gizmos to start a garden.  You don't have to have a huge garden.  Start out with a couple of tomato plants and see how you feel.  All you need is a shovel, some dirt to plant in , and the seeds/plants.  Your arms will do the rest.  It isn't complicated.  In fact it's very simple.  So try it...You'll like it!

As an aside, I just came in from picking these in The garden: