Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I foraged some black walnuts from my Mother In-law's back yard yesterday. She didn't have very many but I figure there's enough to learn on. So tomorrow I'll be looking up all the how-to's of everything walnut. Today I'll be busy in town taking Grandma to the doctor and getting another guitar lesson. Hopefully when I get back, I'll have lots of blog comments about walnuts!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Multi-Purpose Kitchen Appliances

Let's talk about kitchen counter space, cabinet space, and appliances. I've got an abundance of space but it is filled and overflowing with appliances. Sometimes I'm afraid to open a cabinet door (avalanche!) or I don't have room to set a hot dish down. How did I manage to collect so much stuff? I'm working on downsizing the collection but I also have to be practical- I do a lot of stuff in the kitchen and many of those tools make the jobs so much easier! So I'm learning to do more than one job with my tools, combining uses for each appliance. If I find something to be multi-purpose, it stays.

My toaster oven is a good example of something I'll keep. It not only bakes, broils and reheats, it toasts. I haven't owned a toaster for several years but that doesn't mean we do without toast!

Another appliance that does a lot of jobs is my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Shortly after I got it, I learned how to make bread dough with it. So my bread maker went to used appliance heaven (also known as Goodwill!) I can also use the mixer to slice and shred with the attachments I have and I'm hoping to soon have the attachments for grinding and straining. Then I can send my clunky food processor to the basement with the other tools that are only used occasionally (the meat slicer, dehydrator, ice cream maker, etc...)

My little blender/grinder gets used a lot. It can make a milkshake or smoothie, puree pepper sauce, and grind coffee along with multiple other jobs. So the big blender and coffee grinder are on the list of stuff to go.

Right now I have a drip coffee maker, electric percolator, and stove top percolator. My tea kettle bit the dust so I've been using the stove top percolator to heat water for tea. It's not my first choice for making coffee but when the power goes out, it's a life saver. So I need to choose between the two electric ones and send the other one packing.

How about you? How do you save space in the kitchen? I'd like to hear your suggestions of other ways to cut down on appliance space hogs!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cold and Flu Season Preps

The air pressure changed yesterday so I've got a mild case of sinusitis and a screaming headache today. Fortunately I don't suffer from seasonal allergies but I have enough trouble with the changing weather patterns to make me miserable. With the changing of the seasons I've started preparing for cold and flu weather. 

The first batch of Fire Cider is done. I've strained it into a jar and added honey to complete it. We like to start taking a tablespoon daily about this time of year. 

This week I've been taking chickens out of the freezer and making chicken broth for winter cooking and to sip if we get sick

Our bees arrived too late to get any honey from them this year so I stocked up on raw local honey at the farmer's market last week. I looked for onions while I was there but there weren't any good ones to be found - I'll get some next trip to the supermarket. I like to chop them up and keep them in the freezer. They're good to have on hand to heat up in the broth when a cold hits. I'll also be stocking up on lemons for the freezer. I checked our tea supply and it's good for now. I also have plenty of ginger, garlic, and eucalyptus essential oil (for steam.)

So what's in your arsenal for immunity and symptom treatment?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Typical Fall Monday

How's your day going so far? I've just stopped for lunch and thought I'd share what a typical Monday is like here.

The first few minutes of the day were spent giving the dog her daily belly rub. I know better than to try to get out of bed before that- she will pin me down! We play some 70's easy listening/folk type music and wake up slow. Then the real fun begins! As soon as the first song is about over, the cat will decide she's about to starve to death and all this belly rubbing nonsense has to stop. right. now. She will give a loud meow which will tempt the dog to leap out of the bed (usually one paw will land right on my midsection as she bounds) to chase the starving cat. And then we're off!

Today, after taking care of the inside and outside critter feeding, I had an egg sandwich for breakfast. It was tasty but I was getting tired of eggs every morning so I decided to make a pan of granola for the next few days.
homesteader cereal
While the granola was baking I strained the 4 jars of apple cider vinegar that I had started a couple weeks ago. I ended up with a nice bowl of apple scraps to share with the chickens. They were thrilled when I ran that treat out to them.
apple peels are for the birds
I ended up with 2 1/2 lovely jars of cider vinegar. It's turning cooler so I expect it will take a couple months for it to be finished but it smells wonderful already. 
pretty coffee filter dust bonnets
After I got the granola jarred up and the vinegar shelved, I washed up the dishes, ran the sweeper around the house, tossed some throw rugs in the wash, called the vet to schedule the dog's checkup for this afternoon, and played some tug-of-war with her. 

As for the rest of the day, after I get the lunch crumbs swept off my laptop, I'm going to spin some yarn and water all the outside critters before that vet visit. Then this evening I'll be making chicken broth for the freezer. I hope your day is as satisfying as mine! Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Blog Update

If you've been here before you'll notice some changes. I'll be under construction for the next few days, trying out different looks. If you see something you like or have a suggestion, please comment!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Squash Patch?

I'm trying not to be jealous of Fiona over at Confessions of a Crazed Cattlewoman. I really am, I promise. But her picture of all those lovely pumpkins makes me almost want to cry.

Every single one of our squash plants were a bust this year. They took off like gang busters and had so many pretty blooms. Before long the plants had taken over more than their allotted space! We had squashes everywhere! I had visions of zucchini, acorn squash, pie pumpkin, and luffa overload! But out of all that bounty, I managed to save 2 zucchini. Two! This is not acceptable at all in a state where folks hide zucchinis in their neighbor's mailboxes and send them home with their kid's playmates. The chickens were quite happy with all the rotten, buggy squashes that got tossed their way. I was just disappointed. When the little devils first appeared, I was surprised. I'd never had them before. I read that I was supposed to pick them off and destroy them so that's what I started doing. Evidently I lack in the bug squishing talent department because in a very short time those few bugs became about a zillion! We had a major infestation!

So I'm working on my squash bug defenses for next year. I know now that they will overwinter in the mulch in the garden plot so we are going to burn the whole space off. We will start the plants inside earlier next year and set them out when they are bigger and more mature. And I will put them in a patch with more room, to make it easier to get between the leaves and find the little buggers.

I will prevail! *(shouted in warrior voice, fist in air!)*

Does anyone have any tips for how to defeat squash bugs? *(whispered meekly)*

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I'm back! I took off most of last week and the weekend to see some of my family down south. I had such a great time, road tripped with my mom and a sister. We got back to Indiana Sunday evening. DH was a trooper and stayed home to take care of the critters and some projects on the honey do list. He got the goat buck shed rebuilt and the hay storage area cleaned out for winter- 2 big loads off my mind! But in the very back part of that thinking zone (my mind, that is) there's a niggle. I've been wondering about something and maybe you can help me out.

See, when I got home Sunday, it was just in time to fix dinner. I'd been driving all day and hadn't given it much thought. Since I hadn't planned it out ahead of time, nothing was thawed. My options were severely limited. In order to get a meal on the table, we were going to have to quick thaw or quick cook in the one appliance that was responsible for that niggle in the back part of my brain. The microwave.

Now, I know there are lots of homesteaders that don't even own a microwave. And there are lots that use one everyday. I fall in the middle of them somewhere, more or less. Sometimes I will use it to thaw out something last minute but usually the microwave sits on the counter, collecting dust, until I need to reheat something....cold coffee and/or leftovers.

I should mention here that I can recall the time when every home didn't have a microwave. In fact I can remember the time when NO home had one. And the memory of how excited I was when I first got one is funny to me now. How quickly we become dependent on conveniences!

 Aside from the health effects of microwaves -a debate I have no intention of entering- there must be a reason why some homesteaders choose not to use microwaves. The only reasons I can see for needing one are convenience and energy savings. Saving some money on fuel by quick zapping is the main one for me. Our kitchen stove feasts on propane and just the thought of that little blue flame draining the tank is enough to make my head swim. BUT (you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?) winter will soon be upon us. We will be paying to heat the house anyway. I think it will be the perfect time to practice reheating stuff without the microwave.

The biggest challenge will be preparedness. Meal prep will have to include careful planning- in some cases days before the meal. This is an area I really need to work on and I think not having a microwave to fall back on will be a perfect prod! How about you? Do you use a microwave? Can you see yourself managing without one? Got a tip for reheating?