Friday, May 27, 2011


Approaching storm  5/26

When it was starting to get a little scary looking 5/26

The edge of the scary clouds

Red sky by night sailor's delight (after storm 5/22)

Edge of storm on 5/22 as it clears out pretty huh?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Food Choices

     I love to read blogs almost as much as I love YouTube.  The other day while I was navigating an insurmountable amount  of homesteading blogs, I came across an interesting blog 100 Days of Real Food  (You can also find this link on my homesteading page).  It is about a family who has taken a pledge to eat "real food" for 100 days.  The blog tells about them, what rules they are going to follow, and even mini pledges for readers to join.  This all sort of inspired me.  I say sort of because I have a commitment problem hahaha!  I decided instead of taking one of their real food challenges, I would make up my own.  This way I wouldn't be setting myself up for failure.  Anytime I go all out into something it never lasts very long.  So I don't really have any of it outlined yet, but I know for a fact I require high fructose corn syrup on occasion.  Factoring this in  I decided to start by eating more whole wheat and reducing the amount of white sugar in our diet. 
  The first step to conquer,  How do I add whole wheat to our diet without my children noticing (as much)?  Easy!  Bread and muffins!  These are two things we all like.  I had already planned on making banana muffins and wanted to try one of those no kneading bread recipes.  I went on a mission across the internet to find recipes I thought would work.  They had to use whole wheat and no white sugar.  It didn't take me very long to find some recipes to try.  Now there was no turning back.  I got out all the ingredients for the muffins, then mixed them up and tasted the batter.  Well they definitely had a stronger taste and heartier texture than my regular white flour muffin batter.  I was a bit worried about the outcome, but threw them in the oven and crossed my fingers.  As a side note, I don't use paper muffin cups when I bake, so if you do the same thing make sure the tin is greased or you apply cooking spray.  Twenty minutes later I realize the oven was turned down by Thing #2 and the muffins had been baking at 175 degrees.  I turned the oven up and baked them for 15 more minutes and hoped for the best.  Fifteen minutes later my muffins emerged and looked pretty good.

WW Banana Muffins
     While the muffins were baking, I started working on the bread dough.  This was a very simple recipe I found on the back of the flour bag.  I didn't even have to look for it!  Thing #2 and I worked on mixing the dough together and had fun.  It's always a great idea to let your kids help you when you bake.  First spending time together in a positive way does a family good.  Second they start learning skills they will need someday.  I always tell my sons they need to learn to cook and bake, because they shouldn't count on their wives to do everything for them.  Back to the baking.  After mixing the dough together we threw it on a baking pan ( we decided to go with the round bread rather than the loaf).  We let it sit for 90 min to rise covered in a greased peice of plastic wrap.  You could cover it with a towel and it would work just as well.  (A tip for those of us wh turn on the AC, you can put it in your bathroom with the window open and it will be warm enough to rise).  We ended up having to leave for Thing # 1's 5th grade graduation, and threw it in the fridge and crossed out fingers yet again.  When we came home I let it sit out a little before we put it in the oven.  We baked it for the amount of time specified on the pacakge, but it relaly could have stayed in another 5 minutes.  You will have to watch your bread as every oven is different.  The bread came our beautifully.  We sliced into it right away and tried it out.  The boys LOVED it!   Mom earns a star!  We tried the muffins the next day and they were tasty.  Actually Sage has eaten them every day and he is a picky eater.  The boys have had them for breakfast and for snacks.  
WW Homemade Bread (do you see the little face?)

     I may start a page for our own Real Food Challenge.  I also went out and bought a bunch of fresh veggies.  I figured the boys and I could come up with some recipes and try new foods ( or things we don't like).  In other news today is the last day of school for both boys, I continue looking for a job, and  the garden is still alive.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Container Garden Experiment

Week 1

Week 2
Sweet Peas


First tomatoes

     I absolutely love to be outside working with flowers and gardening.  Once upon a time I kept a small garden and my Grandmother's house.  I grew cucumbers, beans, strawberries, pumpkins, and tomatoes.  Then Sage arrived grad school happened, and gas prices..well you know about those.  I was just lucky to make it through the day, never mind drive 20 min to garden.  Last year I did attempt to grow some beans and salad greens with no success.  The salad greens germinated then died, my green beans grew to about 6 inches then were eaten by something.  Total fail.  So this year I wanted to try again.  This time I reflected on what may have gone wrong last year.  Maybe the  plants didn't get enough sun in the back?  So this year I planted them in the front.  I have less room, but my garden is very small so it has worked.  Then I thought maybe my plants didn't get enough food?  This year I made sure to feed them when I planted them.  Were they neglected?  I didn't realize container gardens had  different needs than a conventional garden, so I make sure to look at them and care for them twice a day.  I also decided this year to choose disease resistant varieties.  The main goal of my garden this year is to grow something other than flowers, so if I am able to get a few veggies I will be delighted.  I will leave the heirlooms to people who have more luck.
     I have had a few problems in the past few weeks.  The number one issue....RAIN.  We had 5 days of rain and clouds and my plants didn't appreciate it.  They started to get very soggy.  I eventaully pulled them under the roof overhang to try to keep some of the rain away. I think in the future I will place some gravel in the bottom of the containers to allow for more drainage.  My tomatoes looked like they were getting early blight.  I am not sure if this was the case, but I decided to be proactive and carefully removed the lower foliage and any area that looked affected.  It seems to be working and my plants are looking better.  Last but not least I think my cucumbers are in major trouble.  I didn't grow these from seed and I think they brought something with them.  I'm not sure what it is yet, but I can see it growing on the soil around them.  I may just have to remove them if they don't improve :(
     I did plant some veggies in my mother's small garden at her house because a girl always needs a Plan B.  I planted two varieties of bush beans.  They are doing great and have germinated and are starting to grow.  I have also  planted cucumbers at their house.  These are just starting to  pop up out of the soil.
    I will try to post pictures of the garden weekly so everyone can see how it is growing and changing.  If you have any tips about growing veggies in containers let me know.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easy Like a Sunday Morning

      One of my favorite times of the year has arrived!   Strawberry Season!  You can't beat fresh local strawberries that were picked just hours before you load them into your car.  I bought a gallon bucket yesterday, but they are already almost gone .  Yesterday, we had some with lunch, then last night I made shortcake for dinner, and I had more shortcake for breakfast this morning.  Tomorrow, I am going back to buy some more strawberries to make jam and preserves.  I haven't made strawberry jam in forever so the outcome might be interesting to say the least!  It's been such a long time since I canned anything, that I had to go out and buy mason jars.  They don't seem quite as heavy as they used to.  I also didn't know that WalMart made their own jars.  I went with Ball  even though they were more expensive, because that is what I have used in the past and they have always held up to their end of the bargain.
    I am also going to attempt to grow things in containers again.  I've always been able to grow vegetables in the ground (Square Foot Gardening Rocks!), but my last two attempts to container garden haven't gone well.  We will see what happens.  I would have preferred to have larger containers, but anything larger would keep us from being able to navigate our stairs.  I am also hoping they will get enough sun during the day.  I am hoping we get enough that I can make fresh sauces on occasion.  If it doesn't work out it's fine and we are planting beans and cucumbers at my mother's house.
     Our main reason for venturing out today was to get the Sunday paper.  It's the 1st and the good coupons are usually in this Sunday paper.  I looked briefly and wasn't impressed, but I won't form an opinion until I really get to go through it.  I am not an insane coupon fanatic, but if I can get a deal I will take it.  I am trying to figure out a better way to organize everything.  My current system involves an envelope.  I bet you would like to know how that's working out.  It's not.
     Other than that I only have a few other plans this week.  I of course have to sit down and menu plan tonight and get a grocery list together.  I also want to make a few dozen banana muffins. Muffins freeze well and I can whip them out the night before and my kids have a yummy and relatively mess free breakfast.  My fridge and freezer might run away or come to life and devour me whole when I try to open them, so I am planning on gutting those and cleaning them out.  I also  need to start restocking my non perishable supplies.  I try to keep at least a week's worth of these kind of foods in case we ever lost electricity for extended period of time or for whatever reason we couldn't get to the store.  I've had this happen enough times in my life to know that being prepared is key.  I also have to clean my house.  I have been a bit lazy about.  It needs a good purge and scrub.