Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 12 for 12

I'm still working on life changes using the twelve for twelve idea.  Back at the beginning of the year I chose 12 verbs that I want to incorporate into my life to help make positive changes and I promised to check in monthly to see how I'm doing.  Since it is the end of the month (Happy Leap Day!!) I thought I'd  do an update, so here goes.
Create- I've been doing some work on my quilt but have been distracted by other things recently. I have been able to do some creating in the kitchen.
Dream- LOTS of dreaming going on.  Dreaming of gardening, quilting, other sewing projects... spring!
Organize- Um.. I've never been the most organized person.  But, I did work on organizing my seed starting stuff, I've been sorting through my CEU stuff for licensing and doing some recipe organizing.
Love- Have been able to spend time with the family.  Our Friday or Saturday night movie nights are good ways to connect.
Complete- finished 4 CEU courses this month. Woo Hoo!
Play- I've been having fun watching some TV- I know- it isn't really play.  But I rarely watch TV so it's been fun to watch a few shows every now and then.
Nourish- good food has been abounding here.  I've been having a grand time with my sourdough starter creating wonderful foods.
Nurture- Little first seedlings are started and I'm loving tending them.
Budget- I've been trying to be much more conscious about purchases.  Looking ahead at sending J17 to college in the fall will require a bit of adjusting the budgeting.
Learn- completing CEUs.
Move- I've been working out fairly regularly.  Gotta get fit to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Plan/Prepare- getting fit, ordered beef from Mr H, stocked up on dried fruit at the Amish grocery (Stringtown).  Working on garden planning to help feed ourselves.

So, I've been busy.  Not as much accomplished as I would have liked, especially in the create category- but I've been trying to finish all my continuing education.  I have to have finished no later than May so I can have my license renewed before my birthday in June when it expires.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A productive trip

V and I had a lovely drive to Kalona this afternoon.  Of course, first we had to stop at Menard's since it's on the way.  We frequently have 'hot dates' to the home improvement store- we're regulars there!  Then on to the drive- the weather was lovely and the sun warm as we traveled through the rolling countryside.
First we stopped at Stringtown.  I LOVE the Stringtown Grocery!  I didn't really need anything but we picked up some candied ginger slices, dried cranberries, dried apricots, peanutbutter chips, butterscotch chips and a few other items, including dehydrated lemon juice. I like having the lemon juice powder around in case I need some lemon juice and don't have any lemons.
While there, we checked in the cold room freezer for the grassfed beef.  One of the real reasons we went to Kalona today is that V had misplaced the address of the Amish farmer where we get our beef- but we knew that he sells some at Stringtown (being Amish, he obviously isn't in the phone book and doesn't have a web page- we usually have corresponded through the mail). Sadly, the packaging didn't include his address and the girl who checked out our order didn't know the address, but, better than the address, she gave us directions to his house which was only about a mile and a half down the road.  So, we drove down the road to his house.  He was out in the yard, hitching up a horse to a buggy, getting ready to leave. But, he gladly chatted with us and we placed our order.  He won't have any beef available until May but that is just fine.  That will give us time to finish the odds and ends we've still got left in the depths of the freezer.  We're getting down to the 'interesting' cuts.
After meeting with Mr H, we stopped at the cheese factory (Twin County Dairy).  While there, we picked up some cheese curds (an obligation if you go there!), some of their own aged white cheddar (Mmmm!!), a little bit of blue cheese for J17 and I (no one else here will eat it) and, lastly, and most important to V, a couple of pounds of Weaver's Lebanon Bologna from Pennsylvania. V was raised on the stuff.  He and the children refer to it as 'the food of the Gods" and we're lucky that they have it fairly regularly at the cheese house.  It's probably a good thing that we don't get to Kalona that often or everyone would have to be buying larger sized clothing, LOL!!
I did find out something interesting while we were at the cheese factory.  Evidently, most of the cheese curds they produce are purchased by Kraft.  Hmm, I didn't know that.  I'm trying to remember the number the lady said.  I think she said they produce 2300 lbs of cheese curds a day.  Yowza!  THAT'S A LOTTA CHEESE!!

Okay, I lied

I ordered more seeds and stuff this morning. But it's not my fault... really!!  Yesterday when my parents were here, they were lamenting the fact that they have not been able to find seeds for their favorite garden tomato (Delicious).  They knew they were running low last year and had planned to save some but the gardening year was so bad that almost all of their tomatoes were harvested too green to be good for seed saving.  They were amazed that they couldn't find the seeds in any local stores where they had found them in the past.  It's an heirloom variety that for some reason people locally aren't carrying.  So, I volunteered to order some for them because I have seen them in several catalogues that I've got.  So, in order to make the shipping costs worth it, I just HAD to order some additional stuff.  Right??  So I also got some kohlrabi seeds, a pack of sugar snap peas (Sugar Ann), and horehound (so I can make our own cough drops since I have directions for that!).  I ordered from Victory Heirloom Seeds.  I've never ordered from them before so I hope they work out.  But they were about the only place that had both the tomato seeds and the horehound- those were the two definite needs/wants.
I also succumbed to temptation and placed an order for little plants from Territorial.  I was won over by the promise of rosemary that is hardy in zone 5 with minimal protection (it's called Arp).  THAT would be wonderful!! And, of course, since shipping costs the same for 1 or three plants, I had to make the most of those costs... right??  So also arriving are an Orange Balsam Thyme and Italian Oregano.   We plan to plant the rosemary on the south side of the house where it will get more sun and be protected from the prevailing North/West winds in the winter.  I'm excited by that. And with the other herbs arriving and the herb seeds I've got, now I have more motivation to get my herb spiral constructed this spring.

The concert yesterday was lovely.  Long, but lovely. They put wonderful little biographies of all the graduating seniors in the program.  29 students from the music school will graduate and move on to bigger and better things this year.  They come from all over the area and represent probably 7 or 8 different high schools.

I've spied our resident yellow cat on several occasions recently.  He/she is definitely feral based on how quickly he ran away when I was seen. I do hope that it's a he- we don't need wild kittens running around.  I was joking around last night that we should name him Will.  So... Will Feral it is!  I spotted him on Saturday afternoon hunting near the barn.  He ran to hide under the brush pile when I went out that direction.

This afternoon, we will venture to Kalona to go to the Stringtown Grocery and the cheese factory.  Stringtown is the Amish bulk food store that I love.  On Saturday I made 'clean out the pantry' granola bars to use little bits of goodies (nuts, seeds and dried fruit) that we now need to replenish.  I'll give you a report of our adventures later.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Sometimes, life astounds you.  Not my life, I mean LIFE!  I planted seeds yesterday after lunch.  And today, I already have seedlings up.
First up (cotyledons fully up) Michihli Cabbage (a chinese cabbage) from Baker Creek.  Followed closely by Copenhagen Market from Seed Savers Exchange.   The Copenhagen Market seeds are even from last year.  We got them from my brother last fall.  He had received them at some luncheon or other and they don't really garden so, they were bequeathed to us.
I'm still amazed that less than 36 hours after planting I've got anything up.  Wow!  But I'll tell you, it is a fabulous feeling to see those tiny little green growing things.  It gives me hope.

I'm trying something new tonight.  Well, not totally new to me, but not something I've done for a long time.  I'm making yogurt.  The children all adore yogurt and will totally devour it if I bring any home.  So, I decided to make some myself and see if I get the same reaction.  Hopefully they still like it.  I know that homemade yogurt isn't always like what you get in the neat little packages in the store.  But we'll see.  It should be fun.

My parents are coming tomorrow for lunch and will then be going with us to a concert.  J17's last Preucil School of Music concert.  This is the one where they have ALL the students of all levels perform.  They start with the oldest, most experienced students on the stage, playing the hardest music. Then song by song, they add more students to the stage, with the pieces getting progressively easier.  They finally end with the youngest ones (the Twinklers) arriving on stage and everyone together plays Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star- the first song they ever learn.  It is usually a lovely concert.  Long but lovely.  Since J17 is a senior this year, this is her last one.

More another time...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Independence Days 2012- week 3

It's that time again.  Time for another Independence Days update.  I've been busy all day, working in the kitchen while listening to several podcasts for CEU credit for my license.   At least they were interesting topics.  But on to the update:
Plant something- Yup!  This afternoon I planted in tiny pots!  Three types of cabbages (4 if you count the Nero di Toscana which is more like kale than cabbage) Red Acre, Copenhagen Market and Michihli (a Chinese cabbage), kale, chard and a few romaine seeds.  More romaine and Michihli cabbage will come later.
Harvest something- only eggs.  But 31 again this week.
Preserve something- nope
Waste not- just the usual.  Composted, recycled and scraps to the chickens.
Want not- um, can't really think of anything I stocked up on or prepped this week- unless you can count my continuing workouts to get fit.
Eat the food- Mmm, pasta with pesto this evening.  More sourdough bread was baked today as well as another batch of pretzels.   We've been rationing our canned tomatoes and I have managed to not use any this week.
Build community food systems- sold eggs at work again.  Even now, in the bleak of winter the ladies are still producing enough that I can sell a dozen here and there.
Skill up- hmm, nothing really.  I've been working on my continuing education credits for work since my license is due to be renewed this year.  I've been working more with the sourdough to see what I can do with it.  Other than that, not much this week.

I don't feel like I've been too productive.  Working Saturday and then again Monday with pancake breakfast in between seems to have taken a lot out of me.  I've still got 2 CEUs to complete this weekend but then I'm done for the year.  Since they are podcasts that I purchased rights to, I have to complete them before the end of the month or I lose access.  But, I did get things planted.  It was so nice to be able to listen to my lectures and still work on other things like baking bread and planting seeds.  Hooray for technology.

At least it's pretty

Some random photos of the day.  We really didn't get much snow, and thankfully no ice.  Of course, the one night that the weather is bad we had to go somewhere.  I14 had his winter band concert last night.  But, the roads were clear and the concert was lovely.  But, I promised photos of the morning.
The temperatures fell last night, allowing the snow to stick to all of those wet surfaces out there making for some absolutely beautiful sights.  Plus, it gave me a chance to play with my new camera.
Using the telephoto:
 I love the way it brings the back fenceline close, even from the garden.
The big hackberry tree by the house was quite lovely:
 And my favorite trellis waits for spring:

 Not all the sticking snow was lovely:
The snow covered floodlights on the shop.
But the icicles were amazing on the side of the barn!
 And now, not snow related:
Anybody want to guess what I'm doing today while I listen to some podcast lectures for continuing ed (so I can keep my license and job!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let's try this

Okay.  I must say, I hate, hate, hate the new word verification that blogger has.  It is just too awful and I feel bad subjecting commenters to it.  So, I'm going to try this without verification.  But I've had some spam sneaking through in the past, even with verification so I'll turn it back on if it gets too bad.
Please let me know if I actually got it off.  Blogger sure doesn't make it easy with the new interface.  And I noticed that the information on word verification is now missing from their help site.  Hmm....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Will it or won't it?

Snow, that is.  We are under a winter storm watch for tomorrow.  But what I don't understand is this:  They're predicting 4 to 8 inches of snow but they're also talking about temperatures in the mid to upper 40's. Um, explain to me how we're supposed to keep that much snow on the ground when it's that warm?

But, even though snow can make travel a pain, I'm ready for a good snow.  We haven't had a decent snow storm all winter and haven't been able to go sledding at all.  We'll see what happens.  It will do what it do. And they said we may get thundersnow.  How much fun would that be!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fasnacht day random

Happy Fasnacht Day!  If you have never had a fasnacht, you evidently have not lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  Today is fasnacht day...  Or Fat Tuesday, or whatever you call it.  Fasnachts are essentially a potato donut.  I have made them once in the past but they call for deep frying which I don't do. So, I tweaked a recipe and tried baking them at 450.  They aren't traditional but they were tasty.  And definitely a healthier version.  Sorry, I didn't get photos off the camera yet.

Other randomness of the day:  My children definitely know me!  J17 and I14 stayed after school for Art Club this afternoon- J17 because of the art, I14 because of a girl who attends for the art ;-)  Anyway, the art teacher was cleaning shelves and getting rid of stuff. She gave the students the option of taking things home so they didn't get thrown out.  So, my children brought home mason jars. LOL!  They do know me. One of the ones they brought is one of the old blue jars that I love.

There was an earthquake in Southern Missouri this morning.  Maybe that is why V and I both woke early although I don't remember feeling an earthquake when I woke.  I'm still waiting for the New Madrid fault to really let loose.  THAT will be a major disaster when it goes. Let's hope this 4.0 temblor wasn't a precursor.

I've lost a follower.  While I'm continually amazed that anyone wants to hear about my life and I know that the number of followers I've got really isn't important in my life, I can't help wondering what happened.  Did I become boring?  Did I somehow not meet their expectations?  Did I offend? Did I turn them off talking about zombies?  Or something more sinister....

This morning, it smelled like spring.  It had been raining and there was that wonderful scent of cold damp earth- like spring.  V was worried I'm delusional- but it really did smell like spring. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


Several things from today...
* My children didn't get the message that they're not supposed to like beef liver...  The boys even commented that it was 'yummy'.  Ha!
* The weather can't seem to decide if it is winter or spring.
* Micah is moulting and looks quite scruffy.
* Old movies can definitely be some of the best.
* My daughter also didn't get the message that brussels sprouts are not to be liked.
* Weird dreams will disturb your sleep and leave you tired the next day.
* Old lettuce seeds don't sprout well.
* Cats can be quite wacky sometimes- especially about 3 in the morning.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So... Hard....

So hard to not plant seeds!  It was 51*F here this afternoon.  I SO want to get my hands in the dirt.  But, I have to learn patience.  Maybe next weekend I'll start my early stuff like cabbage.  Still earlier than on my planting calendar but I just can't stand it!!
What I really need to do is rig up a cold frame and plant some spinach or some other greens.  My poor little lettuce in the window box hasn't come up very well (it was ancient seed) so I may try replanting it.

We're supposed to get snow again tomorrow night so maybe that will help me curb the temptation to start seeds too early... or maybe not.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sourdough Pretzels- SO good

OH! MY!  These are SO tasty!  I think we've got a winner here!

I made sourdough pretzels last night.  Mmmmm....  They could be my downfall!  The recipe makes around 20 pretzels (I actually got 21) and at the end of the evening, there were only six left!  Of course, I think V ate half of those.  He was raving about them and saying that they took him back to his childhood days when his dad would stop for soft pretzels on the way to the ballpark.  They really weren't that difficult and I'm sure these will become a regular at our house.
But you all want the recipe, right?  I spent a while looking for recipes and was amazed at how many call for adding extra yeast.  Um... aren't these supposed to be sourdough?  I finally found a recipe that looked good and I tweaked it a bit.  Here goes:
Sourdough Pretzels:
In a large mixing bowl place:
1 1/2 cup proofed starter -I started with a cup of starter and fed it (1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 cup flour) til I had 1 1/2 cups and let it sit for 8-12 hours)
Mix together:
1 cup hot water
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Let cool to lukewarm and add to starter mix.  Stir into this 1 cup at a time:
4 cups all purpose flour
Place this on a floured board and knead in 1 1/2 cups more flour. (5 1/2 cups total)  The dough will be VERY stiff.  In fact, kneading in the last half cup of flour gave me a great upper body workout ;-)
Place this in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.
When this has risen, pinch off pieces of dough about the size of an egg.  Roll these into 'snakes' about 18 inches long and form into a pretzel shape.
 You don't need to worry about having a floured board for this.  The dough was stiff enough that it didn't stick.
 Meanwhile, bring to a boil a pot of salted water.  Drop the pretzels into the boiling water a few at a time.
 You don't want them to touch.  They will initially sink but will soon pop to the surface.
 Cook them for about 30 seconds after they float.  (my source recipe says that your pretzels will be chewier the longer you boil)
Remove with a slotted spoon, place on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt.
 My recipe didn't specify if it should be greased or ungreased baking sheet so I just used my silicone liners :)
Bake in a preheated 425*F oven until desired shade of brown. The source recipe said 15 minutes but it took mine longer than that.
While these were still tasty today, they definitely were much more delicious when fresh from the oven.

What will I do differently next time?  I think I'll try to roll my snakes thinner and have more 'gaps' in the pretzels.  I think the rolling and shaping will get better in time.  V found several of our creations 'disturbingly like something the dog left'.  Thanks a bunch!  But it didn't stop him from eating lots of them.

Enjoy!!  I know we did.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Independence Days 2012- week 2

It's Friday again.  Where does the week go.  It seems like not long ago I posted my Independence Days update.  I feel like I didn't do much this week but I know that's not true.  I've got pretzels to make soon so here goes the update for the week:
Plant something- Parsley seeds in a pot on the kitchen windowsill is all.  But soon I'll be starting my early greens ;)
Harvest something- 31 eggs this week.  Otherwise- it's February- not much harvesting going on here.
Preserve something- only some more grated and dried orange zest.  Nothing else.
Waste not- mostly the usual. Composting, recycling, veggie scraps to the chickens.
Want not- for the first time ever, I made homemade laundry detergent.  Love it! Now I'm just asking why it took me so long to do this...  Of course, Justine says it looks and feels like snot... but then she's 17.  Otherwise, I stocked up on a couple bags of sugar that were on sale, and picked up some dried milk and extra flour.  With all this baking I am going through flour faster than I have in the past so I need to up the supply.
Eat the food- yummy sourdough bread, muffins and tonight, sourdough pretzels (I'll let you know how they turn out).  Tonight we had spaghetti with garden tomatoes.  And we had some HOT peppers from the freezer with our burritos this week.  Mmmmm.....
Build community food systems- Sold a couple of dozen eggs at work again. That's about it.
Skill up- Other than some new sourdough recipes, not much.  Unless I can count my zombie readiness fitness program... but that's not really a skill, just losing the flab. Who knows, maybe when it warms up I'll work on learning to use that compound bow that I got for the boys for Christmas last year (that they rarely touch).  THAT would be a good zombie weapon.

Ok, Ok... enough zombies.....

I've got to go make pretzels.  I'll be sure to take pictures.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wasn't Winter

I know we're not the only one to experience a bizarre winter this year.  I saw on the news today that this winter (December, January and thus far of February) we have had 30 days over 40* F (some of those have been over 60!!). And I do believe that we have had no days below 0 F this year.  How odd.  Definitely NOT typical.
I wonder how this will affect the trees, shrubs and other perennials.  I know I heard somewhere that there are places South of here that are worried about their fruit production because they may not have had enough chill days for the fruit buds to set.  Who knows what something like that will do to food prices.  I also worry about the pests that didn't get frozen over the winter and what that will mean for the garden this summer.  And we've had so little rain/snow this winter that I worry about drought.   So many worries...
Now more randomness... I'm feeling quite random lately.
Work today was brutal and incredibly busy.  And I work on Saturday so I've still got two days to go.  Then Sunday I have to work all morning at a pancake breakfast so no time off there.  But, if I can get through another week I've got a 4 day weekend ahead.  I just need to hold on to that.  I'm feeling tired out.  I know that exercising more is supposed to energize me but I'm not 'over the hump' to where it's doing that.  So far, it is just wearing me out.  But I'm going to keep it up. I need to for many reasons.
I do need to do something with sourdough starter soon.  I found a pretzel recipe that I'm going to try.  I think I may pull out the starter tonight before I go to bed and get the primary ferment going for them so I can make them tomorrow night.  In addition to the primary ferment time the dough is supposed to proof for 2 hours plus shaping and baking time so I need to make sure I get started early.
I need to call Mom to see if she found the tomato seeds she was looking for.  I'm contemplating ordering some new herb seeds and if she still needs her tomato seeds I may order them for her so we can save on shipping- and so I have an excuse to order something else.  I know, I know- I said I was done. Of course... I can stop buying seeds any time I want... really... I'm not addicted or anything....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I've got nothing

Not much going on here so I'm just going to babble at you for a bit.  Some random stream of consciousness stuff.  Hmm... Where to start....
I've been starting to work on becoming 'zombie ready'.  I've been using the elliptical every night after work.  I also need to work on upper body strength- not that I'm a weakling- I'm still amazed at myself when I am pulling groceries out of the trunk of the car that I can hold two gallons of milk in one hand and use that hand (jugs and all) to reach up and close the trunk.  So I guess that's not too shabby.
I'll admit it,  I was hesitant about that last post about zombies.  I almost didn't post it and I'm thrilled about some of your comments.   I'm so glad that you all don't think I'm totally crazy (or maybe you do and are just too nice to mention it, LOL).  But really, what it amounts to is finding what I can use to motivate myself to move more and get healthier.  And if zombies work for right now, I'll go for it.  I do know I need to make changes for my health and energy level. Of course, I kind of like the idea of being "zombie ready".  To me that means I'm ready for just about anything that life throws at me.  Because... zombies... really??  If I can handle that, I can handle anything.
Other than that, nothing much is going on.  It's still the dark of winter and too early to start seeds, work has been hectic, sourdough starter is working it's magic while resting in the fridge and the children have been busy with school.  Just life.
I've been researching sourdough pretzels, looking for a good recipe. I think that may be the next project with 'extra' starter.
A few of the hens are looking pretty scruffy. Of all things, they appear to be starting to moult... in February.  Go figure.  That would also explain the drop in egg production.  Hopefully, it won't suddenly get terribly frigid- I'd hate to have frozen chicken butts.
Ok, I've got nothing else.  I've been feeling a bit scattered for the past few days- having trouble focusing at times.  I think I either need more sleep, more caffeine or a combination of the two.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Asset or liability?

Hmm...  I've been musing today while I quilted.  It was pretty mindless and made for an idle mind, ripe for wandering.  I mentioned last night that J17 and I watched a zombie marathon yesterday.  We watched the marathon of The Walking Dead leading up to the new episode.  I don't know how I have managed to miss this show before now.  I LOVE zombie/alien/end of the world movies and shows.  But, I don't generally watch all that much TV so I guess I just never stumbled onto it before now.
But, watching that got me started thinking....  Am I Zombie Ready?
Not in terms of prepping for TEOTWAWKI...  I've got lots of skills and knowledge- we've got some food stores and are working to become more self sufficient.  I mean... am I ready?  Physically?    I've got tons of skills for rebuilding society if needed, but would I survive long enough to be useful?  Would I be an asset or a liability in a true life or death struggle?  Crazy thinking, huh? Shows what happens when I've got an idle mind.
But, I'm nearer to 50 than I want to think about.  I'm overweight and out of shape.  I would never make it.

I've been needing to lose weight and get in shape for a while.  I work at it in fits and starts but never seem to stick with it for very long.  So.... I'm going to start again.  This time... I'm going to get Zombie Ready. LOL!  Maybe this will help me stick with it.

What do you think?  Do you think it will work?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A little of this...

A little of that!  A little of everything.

It has been a fairly uneventful weekend.  It has been cold but with brilliant sunshine. We're forecast for snow tomorrow so we'll see what happens.
I was feeding my sourdough starter this morning and ended up with some extra that I couldn't bear to discard, so I tried a new recipe- sourdough muffins.
They were pretty tasty.  Not quite as sweet as my usual recipe but yummy just the same.  I have been amazed at how many sites about sourdough say to just discard any extra starter when you feed it if you're not baking.  Um... really?  I don't think so. So I see lots of experiments with sourdough starter in the future.
We also got what is probably the most awesomely colored egg ever!
The photo doesn't do the colors justice.  We have speckled eggs regularly.  Helen lays them and we get a speckled one fairly often from Gretchen.  But this one...  This one is really awesome.  Chocolate brown speckles fading to purple and blue.  Pretty fun.  Like Easter without the dye.
I also did something this weekend that has been on my to-do list for a while.  And now I'm wondering why I waited so long!  I made homemade laundry detergent and have been using it today for laundry.  Fabulous!  It seems to be working well for us- at least with the loads I did today so I think we've got a winner.
Otherwise, J17 and I have spent the afternoon with a zombie marathon.  I've been in and out of it, working on other things but it has been fun.  Makes me want to get ready for the zombie apocalypse, LOL!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Independence Days 2/10/12

It's Friday again.  Where did the week go?  This week seems to have just flown by.  Woosh!!!
But it's time for an update on the Independence Days Challenge.  I'm excited to see so many updates rolling through my feed reader.  And it seems like there are lots of first timers, too.  This is going to be fun!!
Here goes!  I actually feel like I did better last week before we had the first 'official' week of IDC.
1.  Plant something- NOT A THING!  I was hoping to get some parsley started but the week got away from me.  Otherwise, it is still too early to start even the early stuff.
2.  Harvest something- 30 eggs this week.  That's about it.
3.  Preserve something- ummm.... I don't think so.  Does my sanity count?
4.  Waste not- recycled, composted and repurposed as usual.  Veggie scraps to the chickens.  This will get pretty samey over time, I fear.  I did salvage two egg cartons from work.  We do meals with some patients and I snagged the egg cartons before they got trashed.
5.  Want not- Started my sourdough starter this week.  I guess the left over prescription pain meds from V's oral surgery will go into 'the stash'. And, of course, we'll save the extra gauze pads they sent with him and they will go into the first aid kit.  Let's see... picked up an extra pack of TP for the closet since it is on sale. Not much else.
6.  Eat the food- V could eat scrambled eggs yesterday when he woke up- so he did.  We'll have some pasta with pesto for dinner this evening.  We've still got LOTS of pesto!  Otherwise, we've been eating out of the freezer and pantry this week, not much from the store except milk.  Oh, and I baked sourdough yesterday and we've been working on that.
7.  Build Community Food systems- More eggs went to work this week and I've got an order for another dozen next week.
8.  Skill up- only my sourdough.  I hope to get into a rhythm where it won't seem so time consuming. And having that starter will encourage me to use it and bake more regularly.  So now I'm going to have to start collecting recipes for sourdough. Hmm, pretzels anyone??

That's it for the week. It seems pretty dismal to me.  But, it is February, and it has decided to be winter again.  Brrr!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Two firsts today.
My first posted photos with the new camera.
And my first sourdough bread.
I was pleased with how it turned out.  I have never made sourdough before and I was amazed that it is a 2 day process.  I did two in loaf pans for sandwiches and one 'rustic' loaf:
It has good flavor but isn't terribly sour yet- but it is still a young starter and I know it will improve with age.
I was also quite pleased with the texture.  It was fine grained and has that lovely chewy sourdough texture.
 But wait... why does my rustic loaf look like an evil cat?????


V's oral surgery went well this morning and he is currently sleeping off his sedation.  Of course, the man is not to be trusted as initially he kept trying to get up and walk around on very wobbly legs, running into walls and furniture, so I've been sticking within close earshot to hear him if he wakes.  I'm hoping that he'll be much more steady on his feet when he wakes and I can go off and do other things.  I'm thankful that we could come in through the back door and get him deposited on the couch in the basement so we didn't have to negotiate any stairs.
While I've been waiting today, I've been doing some musing on how fortunate I am.
*I've got a job that I love and wonderful co-workers.
*We are doing well enough financially that I no longer HAVE to work full time (90% is close to full time but that extra day every other week is wonderful).
*We're by no means wealthy by this country's standards but we are comfortable and can afford a few luxuries every now and then.  By the world's standards, we are incredibly rich.  And, with some juggling and belt tightening, we'll be able to send J17 to college in the fall.
*We've been able to purchase our acreage and have been pursuing our (my) dream of a more self sufficient life. And again- we can afford to rehab our house and farm a little at a time.
*We are capable of many things and are willing to do work ourselves- which helps with the finances.
*The children are old enough to be mainly self sufficient, freeing me to pursue some leisure activities that were missing for a while.
*The children are also old enough to be quite useful when working on house or farm.
*We all have our health, unlike some of my blog friends who are facing health crises (I'm thinking especially of Lisa and Linda) with more grace and class than I could probably ever manage.
*My job is secure, unlike some who are facing uncertainty or who are out of work.
*My work provides excellent healthcare benefits so we don't have that worry.
*I've been fortunate to be married for 25 years to a man who is my best friend.  Oh, things weren't always great and we almost called it quits once but we have come back even stronger.
*My children are bright, creative, caring individuals and, even though they would deny it to your face, love each other fiercely.

Life isn't always bright and shiny but we're content.  Things haven't always been this great and I'm sure they're not always going to be this easy but for now... I'm feeling very fortunate.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An interesting time ahead

This will be an interesting week.  On Thursday V( at age 50) will finally have his wisdom teeth out. I guess he's wise enough.   The oral surgeon had a cancellation and could get him in earlier than in March when he was scheduled.  Good thing because he has been in a world of hurt.  He has struggled with Trigeminal Neuralgia for a couple of years and one of those bad boy teeth has been really causing it to act up a lot recently, sending shooting pain through the left side of his face/head, rendering him basically non-functional for a while until it passes.
So...  I get to take Thursday off to be a 'responsible adult' to wait in the waiting room. transport him back home after sedation and tend to him.  I think I'm going to be baking some sourdough bread in the afternoon while he sleeps it off since my starter looks and smells wonderful.  I'd better pick out a recipe and figure out what I'm doing.
I've been playing around with my new camera.  I still haven't figured out all the settings yet but it takes awesome photos.  Of course, there isn't much exciting to photograph... figures.  Maybe some bread photos will be in the works.

Monday, February 6, 2012

He's the best!!

I was so frustrated with my old camera this morning when trying to take photos of the eagle.  I can't use the zoom at all or it shuts itself off, it doesn't hold a charge and it doesn't seem to have the clarity that it once did.  I have been getting more and more irritated with it as it has slowly died over the past few months. I've been researching new cameras but I find it hard to justify that kind of purchase for myself.
However, my sweet, sweet, darling husband came through:
 What's in the bag?
I can't wait to see what I can do with this baby!!

Our National Bird

Up close and personal!
This beautiful bird has been hanging around for a couple of days.  Not the juvenile that was here a few weeks ago (haven't seen him/her in a couple of days- maybe the adult scared it off).  I ran outside with my camera with wet hair and no coat when it landed in the tree right across from the end of the driveway.  V followed moments later with the bigger, better camera and a coat. Here are some shots for you to enjoy!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Family Sunday

We had a great, but not typical day.  This morning, we got up early-ish and headed South.  We attended church with my parents and then headed to the farm to celebrate Dad's birthday.  Okay, his birthday isn't actually until Tuesday but we can't really make the drive then.  Surprisingly, we were also joined by my brother who stopped in for lunch and stayed an hour or two after.
While we were there, Dad had a task for the boys:
 Hauling a few buckets of corn out of the almost empty grain bin.
Dad is having trouble climbing in and out of the bin these days but wanted some more corn to crack for the birds before their tenant finishes cleaning out the bin. He stood there and chuckled as he watched them climb in and out, shaking his head and saying "oh, to have knees that work like that again".  He was glad for the help and the boys were surprised that the task didn't involve that much.  I guess we've got them trained that when we've got a job for them to do, it involves WORK.
Other than visiting and driving, we didn't do anything today.  So... it has been a relaxing but not at all productive weekend.  However, tomorrow is my day off so, of course, I've got it jam-packed with plans.  But I'll let you know about those some other time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Satisfying Saturday

I can't even say what made today so great.  It certainly wasn't the weather.  It couldn't decide if it wanted to rain or snow and spent the day changing back and forth.  It never amounted to anything but a bone-chillingly damp day.   I didn't even get much accomplished.  I couldn't even really tell you what I did this morning.  I slept in until 8:30- unheard of for me, took a shower and made breakfast for V and I- but apart from that, I couldn't really tell you what I did.
V and I did a little shopping in the afternoon.  We needed to go to the home improvement store to get some more corner bead for finishing drywall in the hall and decided that while we were out we would stop in at Bed, Bath and Beyond since my MIL gave us a gift card for there for Christmas.  We picked up sets of flannel sheets for the boys- on CLEARANCE!!- and I found the perfect crock for sourdough starter.  I've been wanting to start sourdough for a while but haven't been able to find a crock the right size (at least that I was willing to pay the asking price) until today.  Of course, the whole trip was topped off by me screaming like a little girl and then bursting out into gales of laughter after a mouse ran across my foot in the van while we were heading down the road at highway speeds.  Good thing I wasn't driving!  I guess we need to set a mouse trap in the van.  We haven't driven it for a few weeks and the mouse moved in.  Ah, the joys of country life.
So, after we got home I washed my new crock and mixed up my sourdough starter.  I cheated and added a bit of yeast.  I'm going to have to keep it covered with a towel when I'm not in the kitchen due to curious kitty paws and I'm not sure it would capture enough wild yeast to work well.  I'm excited about trying this. I remember Mom having a sourdough started for a while but I didn't pay that much attention to it.  Ah, now there's something else to feed and tend in the house.  But this will motivate me to bake bread more often.
Like I said earlier, I'm not sure what made today wonderful- it just was.  Maybe it was that I didn't do much and let myself relax.  I drank coffee and read the paper this morning, laughed with my DH, got some great deals on sheets for the boys and got J17 some new drawing nibs for her ink pens at the craft store (next to BB&B) when we stopped in there to look for a specialty ink pen for one of V's projects.  I picked up some potting soil for seed starting, saw a bald eagle with a rabbit in its talons struggling to fly across the road, gathered eggs and washed some dishes.  Tonight is family movie night.  Hmm, I wonder what we'll watch....

Friday, February 3, 2012

IDC- the beginning

As I posted yesterday, I'm participating in the Independence Days Challenge. The trick is to keep track, on a weekly basis, how I'm/we're doing in certain specific categories to help reach self sufficiency- or at least preparedness for an emergency.  The challenge officially kicked off Feb 1 but here is the first week.  I'll be keeping track Saturday- Friday and posting every Friday- or at least trying to.  So, this report has a bit of pre-challenge January in it.
Plant something- Amazingly YES!!  I planted some lettuce seed in an old window box.  It's currently sitting on the pantry shelf near the (usually) sunny South door.  On nice days, I'll move it out onto the deck.  We'll see how it goes. If all else fails, I can put it under the grow lights on the seed starting racks.  I'll probably be starting some parsley soon but that's for another week.
Harvest something- only eggs this week.  But we've gathered 34 eggs this week.
Preserve something- I dried some orange zest for future use.  That's about it.
Waste not- recycled and composted, as usual.  Anything chicken-friendly goes into the chicken bowl rather than into the compost.  I even cut some clippings of the oat 'cat grass' and gave it to the chickens since it was getting a bit out of control. At least with the cat grass Spaz has been leaving my lemon grass alone!
Want not- Hmm, not much in this category this week.  We really haven't made any purchases.  Oh, wait, can I count my new drip hoses?  They arrived this week and will be hooked up to the water barrels this coming summer for the garden.  That is definitely a 'planning for the future' kind of thing.
Eat the food- Let's see, we ate several quiches out of the freezer that I made ahead when we had surplus eggs.  We're getting down to the bottom of our beef and will probably need to contact our Amish Farmer for more.  And, I made a shocking discovery!  I do believe that this year, for the first time EVER we will run out of tomatoes!  I did inventory today.  Tomato Sauce: 7 quart jars, 2 pint and a half jars;  Diced Tomatoes:  12 pints, 1 pint and a half.  Even with rationing one jar of sauce a week, we'll run out in March.  The diced tomatoes will last a little longer but not much.  Ack!  I'm going to have to re-think my garden plan for a few more tomato plants. I really need another 40+ quart canning year.  Hopefully those soaker hoses will come in handy if it turns out to be a dry summer again.
Build Community Food systems- started selling eggs at work.  I sold three dozen this week and have an order for another next week who wants to become a regular customer.  I just hope the girls keep it up.
Skill up- not much here.  Have been doing some reading and research on medicinal herbs since I am determined to finally build my herb spiral this spring and want to figure out what else to plant.  I may have to order seeds for some of the more uncommon things I want (gasp- and I thought I was done!!) I also need to move some herbs from in front of the porch to somewhere more sunny this spring.

Now, we're waiting to see what Mother Nature has in store for us this weekend. There is a winter storm headed this way but we're so close to the rain/snow line that no one seems to know what will happen.  Probably icky slush.  Blah.  But, we're warm in the house.  I've got French bread ready to go into the oven and will be making some spaghetti in a bit. Mmm....  Oh, that reminds me.  I need to bring up some herb butter from the freezer for the bread.  More "eating the food".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Independence Days is back!!

I was so thrilled to hear that Sharon Astyk is bringing back the Independence Days Challenge.  I guess it's not your typical challenge.  It's a way of looking at the things you do to see if you are ready.  "Ready?" you may ask, "Ready for what?"  I think it means ready for anything.   It's really pretty simple, and kind of like my 12 for 12 challenge, except with more specific categories for 'prepping'.
Now don't get me wrong.  I don't think that there will be a zombie apocalypse, or that the world will end in December.  But, I do have a sneaking suspicion that things are going to get worse before they get better:  the economy, the jobs situation, food prices, big business (and agribusiness!!) running the show, climate change and energy (peak oil if you wish) are some of my big worries.  But the IDC can help us sort out how we can better be prepared to handle the roller coaster ride we're facing in the future.
Sharon has identified several categories.  The idea is to track your accomplishments in each on a regular basis.  Here they go:
Plant something: The key here is to try to keep on top of crop rotation and tending the garden.  From February to September to try to plant something.
Harvest something:  This goes along with Plant Something. But it can also include things like eggs, honey, milk.
Preserve something:  This goes along with the ones above.  To preserve the harvest and store for the future.
Waste not: Reducing food waste and also the production of garbage.  This can include recycling, composting or feeding things to animals.  This can also include rotating your food stocks to keep things fresh.
Want not:  Adding to your stash of food or goods to prepare for emergencies.  Building up resources.
Eat the food:  Just what it sounds like.  It does no good to have a freezer full of food if you don't eat it.  This is also getting the most of your food , trying new recipes, being creative and using what you have. I think this also includes being frugal.
Build community food systems:  Just because you're prepared, doesn't mean you have to do it alone.  This category looks at what have you done to help build a more resilient local food system or helping others to have access to better food.
Skill up:   This is a new category from the last time the IDC was going.  This is about learning.  What did you learn that will help you in the future.  This could be anything from repairing a screen or faucet to construction to learning a new craft or gardening skill.
See, it's all good.

The plan is to post every Friday to report progress.  Now that will keep me hopping!!  Trying to do something every week in every category keeps you focused.  But, when I participated before (2009 and 2010) I found that much of what I did on a regular basis fit easily into the categories without much extra work. But it definitely helps keep you on track with independence- or self sufficiency- whatever you want to call it.
It's worth a try.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saved by being late

Whew!  It was a close thing.  I was saved from a new obsession by being a bit too late.  Let me explain:  Last night while perusing Craigslist I spied an ad for a 4 harness floor loom for $50!!!  Evidently, the seller had inherited it and didn't know quite what to do with it, or even if it worked.  But the price!  Wow!  I sent off an email but, alas, I was too late- the lady said it sold almost immediately- no wonder..  Or, maybe it's a good thing.  As I told V, I need another passion right now as much as I need a piercing somewhere unmentionable.  I do know how to weave- I had opportunity to learn a number of years ago- but I have never had access to a loom.  But, it's OK.

In fun stuff I did get today, my other gift from V arrived today.  For Christmas, he had given me an IOU for a soaker hose for the garden.  He actually got me two hoses and they arrived today.  Now, to get the rain barrels deployed in the spring and wait for the garden.  I can hardly wait to get my hands in the soil!

Otherwise, not much going on.  I sold another dozen eggs today at work.  J17 got a new bow for her violin.  Work was depressing (lots of really depressed people and I can't fix their lives).   I'm hoping to have time this weekend to work on my quilt project and maybe do a little baking. See, thinking ahead to home stuff on only a Wednesday night.