Well last spring I spent weeks and weeks preparing my garden before I even got close to being ready for planting. I spent most of the summer building a rock wall to help support my garden beds, completely tearing up and reseeding my lawn, putting in a pond for my ducks, painting vintage lawn furniture, pressure washing decks and windows, and all the other exciting home prepping stuff. I did this in the firm belief that we’d be living in this home for years to come, but in light of recent events, I will be moving soon.

I’m having a rough time deciding if I even feel like planting this year since I am not even sure when I’ll be moving. I’m still tending all of my plants that are already going (garlic, onions, strawberries, artichokes, and a lettuce patch) but beyond the dill I planted today, I’m just not sure I want to go through all of the effort to pick up and transplant an entire veggie garden in the midst of the growing season.  I already am going to have a ton to move with all of my mother’s potted plants and her roses which are very established and need to be dug up  dealt with. Maybe I’m just lazy but I’m guessing that if I did go through all the effort a good portion of my plants would still die, I guess I’d best make up my mind pretty damn soon.

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Now, I have been toying with the idea of trying to make most- if not all- of my family’s bread myself, for quite a while. The idea is very appealing but we have six adults and soon to be one baby in our house so demand is pretty high, and that is a lot of kneading, and I don’t have that kind of time. Well, a few weeks ago my dad brought me home a gift from my grand father, a BREAD MACHINE! 

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I made a few satisfactory loaves using the basic loaf settings but all came out with a very thick crust and mediocre taste. Finally a friend of mine suggested using my machine’s dough setting and cooking my bread in the oven. I tried this, pulling the dough once the timer went off, I sprayed my hands with a little non stick spray to make removing the dough a little easier. If you make two pounds of dough you’ll want to slip the dough onto a floured surface and cut it in two, and slip into two lubricated loaf pans, one pound of dough only needs one pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 10-20 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 350 F until it sounds hollow when tapped and has an internal temp of 140. This has worked for a number of types of bread, and has improved the look and taste of all of them dramatically. I also discovered the recipe book that came with the machine included one for pizza dough and my bread maker also has a pizza dough setting (how cool??).

Here are some pictures of a couple results: Jalapeno Cheese Bread

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Cheese Pizza:

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Garden Update

06Apr12

Been quite a while but I thought I’d hop on here and post a bit about how the garden is working:

So far in the ground I have corn, peas, snow peas, and crook neck squash, and everything but the squash is coming up! I also have some dill, cilantro, spinach, and lettuce started in planters, and those will be going in soon. I’m also going to be getting two Running Duck hens soon to keep my garden slug free. Until then I’m using a combo hit that is at least keeping my garden from getting wiped out.

1. At night I head out with a flashlight and a plastic container with hot water about 1/4 cup of vinegar, and a few squirts of dish soap. I check all their favorite plants and under some plastic containers and orange peels or melon rinds I put near by and in the grass during the day. Any I spot I drop in my soapy vinegar mix.

2. Slug traps: I use eight of these scattered near my plants the slugs like most. Take plastic bottles (1 or 2 liter works best) and cut the tops off to make a funnel, dispose of the lids but neither bottle piece. Use dog or cat food to barely cover the bottoms of the bottles. Now obtain one can of beer (the cheapest you can find) and pour it into the bottles equally not quite covering your animal food. I also add a tiny bit of yeast to my traps but not everyone has this on hand at all times. Now, take your funnels and put them back on the bottles, but upside down, so your funnel points into the bottle and attach with duct tape. Lay these on their sides near your plants and check in the morning. If you find any slugs, pull off tape remove the slugs and drop them into some salt water or soapy, vinegar water.

3. Use pie pans and set them up to the brim in the dirt, pour in beer dog or cat food and a bit of yeast, pull out slugs in the morning. These traps are not quite as effective as sometimes the slugs can get out, unlike the plastic bottle traps, BUT they are much less effort to assemble.

In other news, here are some before and after shots of my garden the “after” pictures are actually a few weeks ago before anything actually went in the ground so I’ll try to toss up some current ones tomorrow. Note: my lovely man is featured, doing the hard labor for me.


Holiday Post

25Dec11

Happy Holidays to everyone out there. I hope you get some fantastic time with family or quiet time to enjoy by yourself, and to everyone, eat some fantastic food!!


Took me a while to get the pictures off my camera but here is the start of our garden. Note that the back area has been reclaimed from blackberry vines that filled the space completely and were actually spilling over the fence. The steps up to the area, we didn’t even know were there!


I’ve been wanting to “clean up” the cleaning products in my house, but it seemed like all the “green” cleaning products out there were even more expensive than the chemical ones. I know that the environment should be top priority but cost can be a huge factor when your income isn’t what it could be.

Surface cleaning:

The biggest cleaning expense in my house has been Clorox Wipes. THEY ROCK, right? I thought so too. Convenient, easy to use, disposable. Then I realized the cost of them, the extra waste, and the fact that it couldn’t be used on anything that might touch food. Well, you know what works just as well as bleach for disinfecting and is often used in restaurants to clean cutting boards and other surfaces? Plain old white vinegar. So I made my own reusable wipes. I took an old ratty towel, and cut it into wipe sized pieces, took two old Folgers plastic coffee containers, labeled one CLEAN and one DIRTY, put the towel pieces in the clean tub, and poured white vinegar all over them to soak them. (If the smell bothers you dilute the vinegar half and half with water and remember the smell dissipates much faster than the smell of bleach)

Results: SO convenient, I’m getting everyone in the house “trained”  so when a mess happens, you pull out a clean wipe, deal with the mess, and put it in the dirty container, when they’re all used up, I take the dirty container, dump it in the washer with my laundry and refill the clean container.

Savings: Well both containers were free with the added bonus of getting to reuse them, the towel was something that  probably would have gotten thrown away, so the only cost is the vinegar, which you can get in any grocery store in gallon containers for right around $3, it also is all natural and safe so it can be used on children’s and baby’s toys or high chairs, and around pets (works wonders in things like small animal cages).

Laundry:

One of the things I’m really allergic to, happens to be dryer sheets. So I found an awesome solution for that as well. There are two main reasons to use dryer sheets: 1) static electricity 2)removing unwanted smells. So I researched some alternatives online and instead of dryer sheets I now have a spray bottle filled with vinegar and two balls of aluminum foil sitting on my dryer. The aluminum balls absorb most of the static and the vinegar removes unwanted smells, and once its dry leaves no smell of its own.

Results: I love it. My laundry has no strange scents on it and best of all, no rashes. The only thing that took some adjusting was my laundry smelling like nothing. I actually enjoy that, but there are people out there  who might want to scent their clothes with some kind of essential oil mixture.

Savings: Because of my allergies I have to use all “free and clear” laundry products so I was spending at least ten dollars for a box of laundry sheets that my family of six was going through in about a month. Now with the aluminum balls and vinegar, I spend WAY less. The foil balls probably come out to less than 25 cents worth and I’ve had to replace once in two months, and a quart spray bottle comes out to about 75 cents and probably will last two plus months. So all in all two to three months of laundry for about a dollar as apposed to twenty to thirty dollars. Sweet!


Well, I love crafts of just about any kind, but my absolute favorite crafty thing to do, is crochet. I’m not amazing at it but I can make some pretty useful/pretty things and I thought I’d share some of my favorite patterns with you and probably the best crochet and knitting site ever! Also, my younger sister is about six months pregnant and I’ve decided I really need to buckle down and start making some super cute baby stuff!

Paterns/tips

Ravelry

Wonderful site for anyone from beginner to expert, lots of patterns and tips, also an easy way to display your own work and keep track of your yarn stash and hooks and needles. In addition it is a wonderful way to connect with other equally crafty people to get helps with any kind of snag or confusion, and you can set up yarn swaps or anything like that. It’s pretty much amazing!