Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


  Psst, I have a big secret,  something I have never ever shared before. Something few have ever seen. Guess what ...I like to draw but never let anyone see my drawings. So today I am taking a HUGE step forward and sharing with all of you the drawing I have been working on.

 Of course I can see a million things wrong with it and a few changes I may make but there it is my latest drawing.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick hello to say Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Today I am grateful for a house full of people I love,crowing roosters who remind me to "GET UP,YOU HAVE THINGS TO DO! " , 4 pies baked before midnight, and chilly weather because it makes the house seem even cozier.
 I am even grateful for one sleeping teen aged boy (not one of ours) asleep on the sofa in the living room.Why? Because it tells me we have a great home,where it is ok to fall asleep on the sofa while pies are baking ,I am squeaking away on my fiddle ( to fill the baking time nicely) ,the cat is cuddling into said sleeping boy looking for a warm place for the night and the wood stove is crackling.
  Just now said teen aged boy woke up and said in the most pleasant voice "Happy Thanksgiving". Yes!  In deed Dear Boy Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow day.

 Today is a Snow Day for the boys, the first one this school year.Today I will have a house full of frisky puppies, wait I mean boys.Somehow I will need to work on getting our house ready for Thanksgiving around their playfulness,winter layers of clothing strewn around and their requests for gallons of hot cocoa and tea.There's only a dusting of snow with patches of ice,not enough to really play any snow games but I think the boys will be giddy none the less. Really I can not blame them.I mean it is Snow after all, a rare treat here. ( Or used to be a rare treat here on our valley floor but as some folks say there is no global warming.Yeah right, no global warming my A*#.)
 Last night while we were waiting for the snow to start I made some of these 3 D Paper Snowflakes.  They were very simple to make but I did change a couple of  steps. The first step I changed was step # 3. The directions did not show to do this but I ended up folding the triangle in half to make the cuts in the paper so they would be evenly spaced. I also used a glue stick for making the curls.I read that one in the tips section so it was not my own idea but seemed easier than fumbling around with tape I did not have to begin with. I really do think younger kids who have nimble fingers ( That's a hint to you Natalie, I am thinking of your Little Miss M.) could do this project.Both of our boys learned to make them in Middle School.I used paper from the printer to make the first two.I ended up with these large sized snowflakes that are about 13-14 inches across.I love them, I think I will make a whole blizzard of them in different sizes.Maybe by the time I make them all I will know where the camera has gone and retrieved from and I can share some photos.
  So no one spoke up about doing some holiday cookie recipe swapping. (Excuse me while I  wipe my tears and have a very tiny pitiful  moment. Ok,I am done.) But greendeva3 did leave me her Grandmothers Norwegian Butter Cookie recipe in the comments which was so sweet of her.I noticed in her comment that our Grandmothers shared the same first name ,well actually it was my Great Grandmother but - Ellen. I love stuff like that,little connections with people.There is still time to do some recipe trading folks.I have not even started to bake for Christmas yet so there is time. I personally have 31 more days until Christmas baking must be finished.Anyone?
   This Thanksgiving it is up to me to do all of the pie baking,gulp. My Aunt who usually bakes the Pumpkin Pies is not feeling up to it,her Pumpkin Pie is the pie the whole family has set their standard to and there is no recipe,gulp. My Aunt says it is all about color and smell,gulp. I am going to give it a go and pray for the best. Sol has requested a Pecan Pie,another pie that will be new to me this year.Sol loves making pies and when we were talking pie flavors at dinner one night he made his request which includes him helping me. Sol is so sweet,here he is a big lug of a guy and he still likes to help Mama with the baking.
 Two of our chickens have become the "Wild Ones", they are one of the hens and the roo we hatched this summer.They will not stay in the coop or the chicken yard.Even though Chance raised the fence around the coop somehow they are still getting out,even with clipped wings.The two of them have been roosting in a tree at night.I am mostly ok with this, it is a the natural way for them to be. If they are too dumb to stay out of the weather or high enough in the trees to keep safe than maybe they should remove themselves from the gene pool.But....but...but...those two are our Homegrown Chickens,the very first chickens I know I will cry over if something happens.Currently their names are Loowitt (the hen) and Ransome (the roo) but I have been thinking of changing their names to Hansel and Gretel. Think about it.....they are "lost", the other chickens ate their trail of crumbs so they can't find their way home again, the witch (aka the Raccoons.) wants to eat them.The only problem with their story, I don't think they want to find home.I am hoping today's snow will motivate them to go into the coop tonight to be safe and snug with the rest of the chickens.


P.S - I just happen to be be the BIGGEST DORK EVER! After writing this post this morning I went out to feed the chickens and standing there in the yard were "The Wild Ones" safe and sound, all fluffed up on this 23 degree morning. And as I fed the chickens I hear a cock a doodle do  not from Ransome  but  coming from Loowitt. What the?! How did I screw that one up?! I guess looking at the chickens with my glasses on really is the best thing to do.Once I looked at Loowitt I really felt dumb,there is the feathers shaped into a saddle on his back and the long tail.Oh yeah, and the cock a doodle doo thing as well. I was thinking Ransome's long tail was a sure sign of being a roo and since we had yet to witness the young one crowing it had to be Ransome but nooooo, it was Loowitt crowing..Lesson learned today: Always wear my glasses when trying to sex a chicken.And just to rub salt in my Homesteading wound Loowitt is now standing at the backdoor crowing at the top of his young lungs most likely laughing his head off at me.

Monday, November 22, 2010


It is snowing here,the boys are praying for many many inches,our dog is frisky,the wood stove is cozy and it all makes me smile!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    The last few days here have been relaxing and calm ; a much needed break from last weeks turmoil.Sometimes just being at home is the best cure.
   I spent Monday cleaning the house.I am trying to get some things done now before the holidays come whizzing along.In between cleaning projects I made Apple Butter.I made it in the oven so while it was cooking I could do other things. I made a total  of 6 pints and that will be the whole stock of Apple Butter for this coming year. I realized that Chance and I are the ones who really like it so I am saving the rest of the apples for Apple Sauce.I will be making Marmalade this winter and I still have my strawberries in the freezer to make into jam as well,so we will be set for jams soon enough.
  I took a break from being indoors Monday afternoon.It was fairly late into the day by the time I got there but the duskiness of the light was just right for putting the garden to bed for the winter.I cut everything back and pulled the weeds and considered which beds should not be used next spring. I cut a large bouquet of the last of the Dahlias.I left their stems long and rangy,I wanted them just as they were once I put them in a vase. I smile when ever I walk by the flowers with their nodding heads.I know these are the last blooms until next summer when once again the garden will be lush and beckoning. I did miss my gardening companions- the busy Bees but they have gone to bed for the winter.Sleep tight little brothers and sweet dreams to all of you.
  Yesterday I spent the morning finishing my house work all the while thinking of  my holiday things to do list.We don't go crazy with holiday shopping and like to keep things simple and homey but there are some crafty things I'd like to find time for.This year I would like to make some of these little pods to give away as little Christmas favors. I am thinking I will fill them with candies,toy prizes and maybe some fortunes as well. One of my favorite blogs has recently given me the Christmas craft bug, Natalie over at Chicken Blog made some of the little paper house I love so much and she made paper chains. I think Hrafinstaad will be decked out soon with as many miles of paper chain as I can find paper for.
  I found the time yesterday to finally try out making my own muffin pan wrappers/liners using parchment paper. I found this tutorial but really it is so simple you may not need it. All you need are enough 5 inch squares of parchment paper to fill your muffin pan.The tutorial said to use cooking spray to make the papers stick to the insides of the muffin pan but I did not find this step to be helpful at all. I also did not line the pan with the papers first because once I let go of the papers they just popped out.So I modified things and put the papers in as I went along filling.This project is now on my list of "Fussy but kind of worth it" projects. I can't see where there is any money saved since parchment paper can be spendy and store bought liners are so cheap. But I must say once my muffins came out of the oven they were pretty to see. Issac did comment that he liked the parchment liners because none of the muffin stuck to the liner like it will with the store bought liners. Chance had our camera at work so I was not able to  show all of you a picture,sorry.
  Waaaaay back last spring or so I blogged about Issac having migraine troubles and how I was trying to figure out why and if there was something we needed to eliminate so they would go away.We tried not baking bread which did not work.And once school was out the migraines went away so we worried it was something at school.Since returning to school Issac's migraines have returned, coming about every other week causing him to miss school for a day or two.Well recently when Issac had blood work done the test showed Issac is very low in vitamin D. I did some reading about the side effects of low vitamin D, what do you know, migraine like headaches,muscle aches and fatigue are three of the symptoms that Issac routinely has.The muscles and the fatigue are a point since he is a 16 year old serious athlete. Athletes need vitamin D to  make their muscles work and when you are an athlete whose body dose not absorb things right you really got to pay attention.I think that maybe the school/summer connection could be the fact that during the summer Issac is outside in the sun from at least noon until dark,he's getting vitamin D from Dr Sun. I spoke with Issac's doctor about all of this and she agreed it could be the root of Issac's headaches.We have started Issac on some Vitamin D just like the doctor wanted and we are hopeful it works.If it dose not it means a whole different round of doctors and facing yet another yucky drug Issac ,Chance and I don't really want to see Issac have to take.
  What is the news from all of you? Has anyone else put their garden to bed for the winter? Any holiday projects going on out there? 
  I am also wondering if anyone would like to do a holiday cookie recipe swap? If enough people pipe up I can get this started by the weeks end.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

May I find your smile living amongst the stars.

    The past week has been overwhelming,heart aching and the longest week in the longest time.
   It all began last Saturday, a day that was to be filled with homey type things,laundry,shopping and a bit of canning but an email came , "Please call,there's news.Nothing that effects you or me directly but family news none the less"  I called and on the other end of the line I heard of my Aunts passing. I was effected and tears rolled. And my heart strings were pulled away from home,down the green valley,past farms and hills I know well.I needed to visit with my Grandparents to stand in the old country graveyard sheltered by giant sized oak trees.To turn and face the rolling farm land with the knowing that this is the perfect place for the two of them to lie.I wanted to make sure they were still there even if it is just a marker upon the earth.To make sure they knew their child was coming soon.
  As the car rolled along I thought of my Aunt the Master Quilter and wondered if she left anything undone.I knew it would worry her if she had.I thought of her sewing room with it's neatly folded shelves of rainbows of fabric and spool after spool of threads.
   I thought of my Uncle and cousins with deep quiet.
   Then Sunday came with a heart stopping call,my Dad was on his way to the ER. As I drove to the ER trying my best not to crumble apart I found my inner calm like a voice form far away. "Dad is not in an ambulance,he's being driven into Portland.That's a good thing he will make it through whatever it was." Whew,sigh and a great big Om. Dad spent three days in the hospital for an old mans aliment which would cause him some embarrassment if I shared it here.
  During Dad's stay in hospital we talked of his sister,the middle child and only girl child out of the five of them.My Dad's biggest sorrow- he is the eldest, he has been through hell with his body,he should have gone first.To be the big brother and lead the way over.
  Tomorrow are the services for my Aunt.There will be other Aunts, a few Uncles and a gathering of cousins.It should be an interesting day spent with this family of mine.You see,we tend to laugh when things are awkward and no one really knows what to do with themselves.When Grandam made a bunch of us go and help her pick out Grandpa's casket it was one joke after another.I picked one with Mt Hood,some trees and a big Buck Deer on the inside of the lid by the deceased persons face."Hey Grams,Gramps would have loved this one,look- all of his favorite things right there on the lid for him to see." Grandma bought it hook ,line and sinker.She missed my humor because well...who ever heard of such a thing the whole family shopping for a casket.
  I have manged to hold myself together this week until today when I stopped to buy some cards for my Uncle and two cousins.Standing in a line at a crowded shop I felt the tears there ready to spill again. But there is another family trait that came into play there in that moment. We Linn's are stoic, a skill taught to us from an early age.Suck it up and keep on going.Well...until some moment is so awkward it is followed by silence.The silence is then relived by some corny crack.Then laughter.
  The card I bought for my Uncle is partly a quote from "The Little Prince." and here it is-
    "In one of the stars    I shall be living   In one of them   I shall be laughing  And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night. ....and there is sweetness in the laughter of all the stars....and in the memories of those you love."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nat made me do it.

 What was I thinking?! 140 pounds of Apples,140 pounds! I caved into peer pressure from Nat who kept saying  "Take some more, there's plenty.We can settle things later." ("settle later", means we are working out some trading for the apples.) He was so charming about it,like a snake tamer, smooth and casual . All the while Nat was talking I could hear the boys in the back of my head moaning because they had slurped up all of the sauce last year so quickly.And I had Chance there to help me lug 3 recycling bins full of Apples into the house so I caved. I went apple crazy,insanely bonkers,out of my screw noggin'- Must make more !
   Ever wonder what 140 pounds of apples looks like? It sounds like this huge amount and it is sort of. Nat has it all figured out,1- 5 gallon bucket weighs 20 pounds.That means Chance and I brought home  7 - 5 gallon buckets of apples home We filled 3 of our curbside recycling bins the city hands out to everyone.
  The apples are lovely to see and I don't really think Nat is a snake charmer but I am wondering about getting all of those apples cut,cooked and canned before New Years. I  just had not thought through the logistics of the doing part. Duh Rois you have a job now remember? Which means this year I will be making up small batches of Apple Sauce as I can ( Can...ha ha, get it? Can,what a bad pun.) We have worked out many of the homesteading kinks that we have come up with since I am working but canning is going to need more planning in the future.
  Issac had a check up today with his gastro doctor,she was a bit mystified that Issac has had no flare ups since his surgery two years ago.Zero,zip and boy are we happy about that. I really do feel that eating the way we do without all of the crap foods or additives is making the difference.I have tried explaining my thoughts about food and Crohns to Issac's doctor but I am not too sure she gets my point.My point being, if a person with Crohn's has this autoimmune system that is always in over drive fighting against the persons own body why add to that fight by eating foods and additives that our bodies* don't know what to do with in the first place.It's kind of like taking the bullets out of a loaded gun, no ammo means no fighting or least not as much fighting.
  * Our bodies,that's everyone's bodies.When we eat certain things our bodies don't know what to do with them so it has to work extra hard to process it or stores it because it dose not know what else to do.
  I know I have noticed a difference in my own body and with my Crohns as well since we changed our diet.I am now 3 years with out medications and no flare ups.Flares up happen no matter what is what I have been told but I don't know,my own body feels different in a good way and I think is from eating well.
  So other than feeling overwhelmed by apples and Issac stumping his doctor things are good.Lots of wintering in things are starting to happen.We are working on putting most of the garden to bed for the winter once done we will bring our energies indoors focusing on wintry inside things.Chance has a list of meats he is wanting to try out.I am going to learn to knit-finally and have a list of small things I'd like to make.And since things have shifted around here somehow I will be figuring out how to make my "mitten"sized house seem bigger than it is.Suddenly the boys and their friends are much larger in size and quantity causing me to think I hear the walls and floor creaking from the house being so full of great big awesome boys and one really swell girl thrown in there somewhere.(that would be Issac's girl,whom I am doing my best not to get to attached to because they are only 16.But she sure is great.)


PS- Nat still has apples for 25 cents per pound with a 20 pound minimum.If you are interested and live local send me an email and I will get you his info.
  Also- Todd,Chance would like to know if you have a blog and about the meat curing get together's you mentioned.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today we brought home my body weight in Apples,I upped the amount once we got to the pick up.

My kitchen is full of trays of drying mushrooms.

My house is full of kids,awesome! No really it is awesome.

We have out of town company and their dog here for the weekend,that's good too.

My house is bursting full like the story of the Mitten,where all of the woodland animals all try to snuggle into one mitten. So the cool wet months begin.


Friday, October 29, 2010

  Oh my goodness I have not been here have I? We have been so busy doing I don't know what; something cause I am one tired lady when I hit the pillows at night.
  A few days ago Chance and I slipped away again to pick mushrooms.This time we took our good friend Ms A with us,she had never been and was up for exploring a new adventure.The day was wet and even though we had all worn good clothing we came home so wet that we could wring our clothes out.The wet did not put a damper on us though I think the thrill of the hunt was over riding swampy feet and and dripping hats.While out Ms A was worried she was slowing down Chance and I since she felt she was not as athletic as we two.Me athletic? That's something I have not heard since I was a teen running around the soccer fields,it made me chuckle.In hindsight I see now that I do have a certain amount of agility when walking in the woods, a certain boldness, a sureness I don't think I walk with in the city. I trust my feet to be where they need to be so I can pay attention to everything else that is around me.
  Ms A quickly caught on that there are some skills one needs for mushroom hunting that take time,knowing where the mushrooms may be the biggest one and then there is this little waft on the air that is the smell of mushrooms.So faint it is hard to sort it out from the general scent of "The Woods" .So mushroom hunting is not about speed or being athletic, it is about carefully looking as you go for those tender morsels popping their heads out from under the duff. You gotta slow down and trust your other sense and yourself.
This round of picking was not as bountiful but we did bring home 4 pounds which we divided evenly so Ms A would have some mushrooms to squirrel away for winter. 
 Today Chance and The Cousin are going bird hunting and mushroom picking.Today the boys will look for my single most favorite mushroom the Hedgehogs. Chance and I don't always get around to finding Hedgehogs,they grow on the other side of the Willamette Valley from us so if Chance brings some home it will be a grand thing.Hedgehogs are a darling little story book like mushroom,the color of a toasted marshmallow and they have little quills on their under sides that give them their names.Besides having the typical musky mushroom flavor ,Hedgehogs also have a mild black pepper flavor which is what makes them my all time favorite.Good luck boys, I know I gave you a ton of ribbing about going with out me,only because I think the day is bitter sweet.Bitter because I am not going,sweet because you two are.But I love you both any way.
  I said this last year when I wrote about mushroom picking but it is so important I am going to say it again.( and I will most likely say it again next year.) Only go mushroom picking for the first few times with someone who really knows what they are doing.Someone whom you trust literally with your life.It is so easy to pick the wrong thing which can cost you your life. And remember this golden rule of my Dad's " When in doubt go without." This goes for any wild edible,period,end of story.

 Other than spending stolen days in the woods life has been busy.I think Chance and I have finally found our new homesteading groove.Things are getting done in a different way, but they are done.I now have an even firmer grip on the thought that baking can be done just before bedtime if it means there's good things to eat.See that goes back to my really old idea that if I did not get the bread dough going and baking by noon I was a failure.What was I thinking? Really? That is so lame. Why did I think that? I threw that one out awhile ago but now it is even more important to remember.
 The rains have returned.I could boo who in my tea cup but that would be a waste of time.There's no avoiding the rain so pull on some good boots and get marching along. Even thought the garden is now a soggy mess I still have not pulled it.Not because of the rain but because Chance has incorporated so much of the jungle-ly mass into his Halloween Spook-ville that pulling it all up will have to wait another week.
  My apples will be here in the next couple of days. I am glad this year that apples will keep for a bit.It may end up I pick up the apples on one of my days off and then stashing them until I have another day.Apple butter is a longer process so I will need a whole day for it.
  Well not much news and it is time for me to get moving.It's time to raise the boys from the dead and get them off to school.We have company coming this evening and I also have a few last minute things to do before I leave for my day at work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Can Jam | Homemade Sriracha «

Oh my goodness! This has just hit my Must Make list. I don't know if any of you love Sriracha but we do.I don't mind buying it but nay time we can do for ourselves it is even better.

October Can Jam | Homemade Sriracha «: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Monday, October 18, 2010


Chance's 1st batch of Chicken sausages.


 I came home yesterday from a very busy day at work to the yummy smell of sausages cooking.Chance had spent his day at home cooking ,baking and making up a whole storm of food. Chance made us this lovely pile of chicken,sun dried tomato and basil sausages,it was his first try at sausages and all I can say is,he had better make some more because they were a huge hit.
Besides making the sausages he made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies for lunch boxes and a pot of squash soup.The cookies of course were half gone by this morning when I packed the lunches and the soup was slurped up at dinner.
  Although our summer garden did not produce as much as last years our fall/winter garden is looking hopeful.All 10 of our Broccoli plants now have blooms on them,the Kale and Pac Choi are both coming along as well.The fall beets are slowly growing but I think we have lost the carrots.The Swiss Chard from the spring planting is still putting out and will last at least until a hard frost comes.
  The hens are slowing down on their laying, way to early if you ask me. The slowing of the egg laying is making me think it is time to thin out our flock a bit.We have 3 older birds who I know are no longer laying which means they have become extra mouths to feed with no benefit to feeding them.There are 2 other hens who I am not sure about as well and since they are only 1 1/2 years old I may wait a bit to decide what we will do with them.
  The 100 pounds of Apples we ordered will be here in the next couple of weeks.After looking back through my homestead journal* I think this year I will can more apple sauce and less apple butter only because the boys inhale the sauce so fast and I'd like to have it around longer this winter/spring.
   * Do any of you keep a journal of gardening and canning? I started ours last year to help me keep track of what I planted,where I purchased or how much I purchased and how much it yielded. I also have a section for the chickens,their "birth-dates" ,breed,temperament and their laying habits. And I have a list in my journal of the u-pick places I went to with, what and when I bought from them and the price per pound.Some households have their coupon files I have my homestead journal.(speaking of coupons,have you ever noticed how useless most of them are when you cook from scratch?)
  I feel as if I have not had any great things to share here in a long time.With the growing year so slim and me returning to work it's all so different this year.We have settled into my work routine but are still figuring out how to fit in the homesteading projects.Months ago one of the readers here asked me how I do it all.My answer was I am home full time.I am now seeing why she was asking her question.How I will mange it all is yet to be seen.I am lucky that Chance and the boys are great help with work around home.But it has always taken the whole family to keep a homestead running smoothly so I suppose we are just returning to the roots of homesteading in yet another way.
  Long ago my Grandfather said to me "When you see something beautiful or something that makes you stop and smile,that is God reminding you He see's you and is watching over you.Never feel alone in the world." I have been thinking of that lately, often and with pleasure.The weather here has been story book perfect,cool and crisp in the mornings followed by crispy sunshine by afternoon.The leaves are starting to turn a rainbow of colors and I can smell the wood smoke drifting in the neighborhood.Apple weather. I am not a church kind of person but have a deeply seated belief in a higher power that has many names.These days I find myself feeling greatly loved and blessed by the world around me,even if the garden was slim and there are no eggs.


Monday, October 11, 2010

YouTube - The Ten Commandments of the Native American Indians

Today I honor my Great- Great Grandparents who walked the Trail of Tears. I am fortunate to be able to say that ancestors on both sides of my family made this horrible journey and lived to carry on.

YouTube - The Ten Commandments of the Native American Indians: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mushrooms and A Chantrell-moblie in the kitchen

 Today was a beautiful sunny fall day and Chance and I spent it in the woods mushroom hunting.It is not often we go on this kind of trip just the two of us and Sol left for school this morning with a very disappointed face.
   We spent around 3 hours poking through the woods and we saw lots of interesting mushrooms along our way. I am hoping Farmer Deville will stop here and name some of them from the photos.
I think someone once told me this is a Cauliflower Mushroom.

This is the same mushroom as above just poking out of the soil.

I have never seen this one before.It was amazing.

Check out that funky green that did not show up until I shot the photo.

 What we were hunting for today were Chantrells,our favorite wild mushroom to eat.Last year we found a bumper crop all in one area.Today's journey took us three stops in different areas.We did not bring home as many as we had hoped for but a day spent in the woods is never a waste no matter what.
 . Driving up the road to our final stop we came head to head with a logging truck,ack! Chance had stopped our truck to look at something along the side of the road when I looked up and out the front window I shouted "Logging Truck!" Chance had to back the truck down the road about 3/4's of a block before there was a spot we could pull over.Back road/ logging road tip: Logging trucks stop for nothing,it is up to you to look out for them and you have to figure out how to get out of their way.Loggers are paid by the load,time is money they have no time to stop.
   Last year when we brought our Chantrells home we put them in the freezer.This worked fine but the mushrooms were much more soggy than we really wanted them. This year we are drying the Chantrells.Two of our preserving books say that this is the preferred method of preserving Chantrells.Chance strung the mushrooms on some heavy string.He then took this funky laundry drying rack we have and hung it from the kitchen ceiling.The drying rack has clips that Chance attached the strings of mushrooms to.Both preserving books say to hang the mushrooms above the Aga/ stove where it warm and dry but we don't have the right kind of space there.The books also say that the drying should only take 3-4 days,the books say the mushrooms will look wizened. 

Some of the Chantrells before they were strung up.

Our Chantrell mobile,right in the middle of the kitchen.

It was hard to pull ourselves away from the woods today.The weather was perfect ,warm fall sunshine that will leave us soon,the wind whispering in the trees,the knocking of a woodpecker near by and just each other for company.


Monday, October 4, 2010


Having a man who can fix just about anything- Priceless!

Having a washing machine running again- also Priceless !

Finding enough lose change in the washers filter to buy a large Latte- Puzzling!

I really am endlessly grateful for Chance's abilities to fix just about anything. There really was enough change in the washers filter to buy a Latte,a grande one at that.The whole filter was full of slime coated coins,ew.No wonder the thing would not run today.

I am off to do the laundry,

P.S I later counted the change from the washers filter and it came to $7.23,enough for 2 Grande Lattes.

Overcoming Pie Crust fear and my twist on Mincemeat.

      I started this posting last week and never got around to finishing it until now,better late than never I hope.
    Once upon a time I blogged that I have a fear of making pie crust because I come from a looooong line of amazing bakers,who made these light flaky crusts you can only get with lard.In the past I have left the making of pie crust up to Chance who dose not share this family history with me,who will willingly use butter and just get the job done.
  Even farther back in blog history I wrote about the boys buying me Grand Central Bakery's baking book,smart move boys. I have finally overcome my fear of pie crusts thanks to that book.One day I needed pie crust and Chance was not around so I bit the bullet and made one.Easy as pie,yup now I get the meaning of that phrase.
   The pie crust is made with butter not lard so you don't get the flakes but it is a good crust.The trick is to keep everything cold and you are good to go.The book even suggest to put the flour you will be using in the fridge.Now I figure if I can get over my fear maybe someone else will too having now heard of my brave deed.
  When I was home on Tuesday I went to the store for a few things and right in the middle of the produce section I had a brain storm,"why just make apple pie,I could try and make a meatless mincemeat filling" I knew I had at least most of what I would need.Minus the meat some people put in their mincemeat and minus the suet or lard.(there's that lard thing again,makes me feel fat just thinking of it.)
  Once home I slipped into my favorite apron,I was once again wearing black on a baking day,and pulled out the cook books that would most likely have mincemeat filling recipes.I mumbled over four different recipes and finally came up with my own twist based on what I had at home,how much time I wanted to spend and what I thought made sense.Here's what I did.There is no recipe to it just what I did,lots of handfuls and pinches but hopefully you will get the idea.

 Hrafinstaad's Mincemeat:
 6 medium sized tart apples
  A handful each of dried apricots,apples and some raisins (your choice of color)
 About 1 cup of Orange juice.
 Some cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon.How much depends on how spicy you want your pie.I most likely used 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and cardamon and 1/4 of a teaspoon of the nutmeg.
  I cored the apples but did not peel them.Next I cut the apples in to walnut sized chunks.Chopped the apricots into slivers.I then put all of the first list of things into an oven proof pot and baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes.I wanted the apple chunks to be still a bit firm.I gave the pot a stir a couple of times while it was baking.
  Once I had the pot out of the oven I added in about 1/3 of a cup of marmalade. I added marmalade because all of the mincemeat recipes I have called for candied orange peel and I did not have any but wanted the orange flavor. Then I added in 1/2 a cup of apple butter.I added the apple butter to bulk up the filling and to add more spiced apple flavor.I stirred it all together and chopped at the apple chunks with the spoon.I left most of the apple chunks whole.Fill a pie shell and I baked the pie until the top was golden brown,maybe 30-45 minutes.
   The pie was good.Nice chunks of still firm apple, I had worried by pre-cooking and then baking the apples would turn soft but they did not.I loved the spicy orange undertones as well.One thing you might have noticed is I did not add any extra sugar to the filling,the marmalade and apple butter took care of that for me.By not adding any extra sugar the pie was slightly tart but the orange and spices made it rich which balanced out in the end.The raisins were nice little pops of sweetness too.I am going to keep this recipe in my files,it may be a tasty new addition to the holiday season.Next time I would also like to add some walnuts just to see how that would be.
   On page two of the Hrafinstaad News you will find that,Chance has decided to make one of our wine barrels into a smoker for meat.In one of our books there is a how to so he is going to give it a try.Once he has built it I will be sure to post more and the exact reason why use a wine barrel for a smoker.I am sure it has to do with flavor.
  Page three is all about how one of our young poulets is a rooster. I have been watching this fellow for awhile now.What stated me watching was as his feathers grew in I noticed his feathers on his back, right by his tail were laying like a saddle a sure sign you have a rooster.Then I noticed he has longer tail feathers as well and Chance spied spurs growing.I am sure there will be an ad in the Hrafinstaad News Classified section soon looking for a new home for our Roo.
  The final section of news,the Parenting section.Today's advice,always remember what it was like to be your child's current age when issues come up.A wise man once said that to us and it has been the best nugget of information when it comes to raising kids.Even when you are talking about being 16.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ever notice?

    Have you ever noticed that little box on the right hand side of my blog, the Lijit one.One of the options is to look through the recent readers,I have a habit of when I check in here I check the recent readers list.It can be interesting to see who has stopped by and where they live.It even shows if the person was searching for something.Mostly I see chicken butchering,killing cones-how to make and the other big one is the search for the differences in types of chickens used for cooking.
  Just now I checked that little gizmo and whoa horse what did I read? Paris, France searching for "butchered girls". Oh lord that is grim sounding and kind of freaked me out.Lets all just hope that some how something did not translate the way it should have.

 Today I have been tinkering with my own version of mincemeat for pie.We will be having said pie for dessert and I'll fill everyone in once the votes are in.


Monday, September 27, 2010

No steam for a battle

 Today Chance and I made what we thought would be just a couple of phone calls. Easy right? Just punch in the numbers,wait for someone to pick up and quickly get the business at hand done.But no that was not how the cards were stacked and laid out for us today.
  All we wanted was to find out the final sum owed on Issac's hospital bill,we have been waiting 6 months for this answer and to make a doctors appointment.Did we find the answer to our questions? Not really.
  The hospital and the insurance company are still arguing over minuet points concerning why did a 16 year old boy have his gallbladder removed.Geez mister insurance man, I don't know, maybe because the dang thing was impacted with stones and causing great pain.
   I think the insurance company is irked that they keep having to pay out for Issac.The staff knows him by name after all. We can't possibly be the only family with a sick kid on the face of this planet.I know we are not. The last time we were at the hospital right down the hall from Issac they held a Going Home Party for some child.Those parties are extra special,it means the kid going home has been there longer than 60 days.My kids longest stay of 2 weeks is a drop in the bucket compared to 60+ days so pay up mister insurance man!
 Then there's the doctor's office.I know my kid is not the only kid in the world and is just another patient.I know that his Gastro doctors office is one of two pediatric offices in the city.But really I call you telling you my kid is having some issues and not well at all and you tell me 3 weeks until he can be seen? Our regular Pediatrician will bump someone who is just coming in for a well child check if there is a child with a greater need.The last time we had to wait so long Issac ended up in the ER waiting to go to surgery at midnight.
  I have no steam for this battle today. Chance was home this morning helping with the calls so I was not totally alone, a fact I am truly grateful for but none the less I am at a stand still.
 In the past I have kept my chin up and my feet moving forward.This time I just want to sit in a dark corner and do nothing.In my last posting I wrote about Issac giving me so much courage and it is true he does but today there are things I don't want him to worry about or maybe not even notice.I don't want him to think about the money to pay the bills because I don't want him to feel the guilt I do over my own bills.I don't want him to worry about getting to the doctors in time.I want him to believe he can make it through the next three weeks.
  Today there is no way to kiss it and make things better . I just need to find my inner calm so I can build up my steam again,put my chin up and take a step forward.The meaning of Issac's name is laughter, today I will focus on that along with all of the other good things in our lives.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award,aw shucks!

     My friend and  fellow blogger Alison sent me a Beautiful Blogger Award here is why-

    I am sending you this "beautiful blogger award" because you are a beautiful person, and I learn a lot from your blog. You are one of my inspirations and I though that you might enjoy doing this activity - Alison

   Well,aw shucks Miss Alison,thanks for the kind words.The Beautiful Blogger Award is part chain letter and partly a way to say "gee,I think your blog is great" .There are two "rules" to the award,I have to write about 10 things you may not know about me (gulp) and pass the award on to someone else.

  My Ten things about me:

 1. A few years ago I had major surgery and after wards the epidural for my pain meds came out so I had no pain meds for 5 hours after surgery because my nurse thought I was some sort of freak or something.Ever since then I can not watch any kind of medicine based T.V show. I get a full blown panic attack,even writing this makes me a bit off.
2. I have studied three languages - French,Russian and Hmong. I understand all three when spoken to but will have to answer mostly in English.
3. I love shoes.If I had the money I would have a huge collection of them.Not high heels though just nifty shoes and boots.
4.When I was 5 I had a pet Turkey who laid me an egg everyday.At the end of my year in Kindergarten my teacher was moving on to a farm.I gave her my Turkey as a house warming gift and to show her how much I loved her.
5. If I could, I would eat Mango and Sticky Rice every single day and never tire of it.
6. Our son Issac gives me so much courage when it comes to having Crohn's Disease.He has taught me to be strong and keep going because what other choice do you have? He is my Crohnie (ha ha bad pun)
7. Out of all the things I do and make I can not knit.Learning to knit is on my winter to do list.
8.  As a kid I thought Earwigs (the bug) would crawl up your neck and bite you on the ear, which would cause  a little curly wig like the old lady down the street wore to grow on your ear.
9. I think ever kid should go to camp at least once in their lives.Even as an introverted child camp helped me to blossom and grow up.
10. I feel at home the most in the woods.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Making your own brown sugar and joyful noise came to visit.

 This morning as we were prepping for a visit from The Cousins, Chance made Brown Sugar.Last week I had found a posting somewhere that I have lost, I found the how to and the why make it yourself,Chance just beat me to the doing of it.It really is so simple that I am not to sure I will bother buying bagged brown sugar anymore unless I am doing some sort of maga baking project.
  The reasoning behind making your own as I read it on the forgotten website is it is actually cheaper.Which is a good enough reason to make it but not my true reason for making it.At one of our local co-op markets they sell my favorite brown sugar which is as dark as black strap molasses but it is spend-y and rare treat.So now I can try to recreate that brown sugar and have it all the time.
Chance's Brown Sugar
  All you have to do to make your own brown sugar is take some white sugar (how ever much you think you will be wanting) put it in a bowl (Chance used our Kitchen Aid mixer to do this part) and start stirring in some molasses until you have the color and flavor you want it to be.Since you have now altered the moisture in the sugar you will need to store it in an air tight container. Chance did not measure any of this he just kept adding the molasses until he got the color he wanted.Next time I am going to try and add more of the molasses to see how close to the co-op's I can get.
  Maybe not everyone keeps molasses in their cupboards like we do so if you are making this for the first time and have to buy molasses this won't seem like a money saver.But I bake with it often so already have the molasses on hand so it seems kind of like a freebie to me.

A band of cousins,let the wild rumpus begin!
 Today my Cousin and his three kids came for lunch and a visit.As you can see from the photos after lunch the kids pulled out most of the musical instruments and had their own jam session,it was a rumpus in some ways but mostly a very joyful noise. And can you believe your eyes? Do you see that rare thing in the back ground? It's called a girl child! Oh my we need those around more often what a great change of energy.
Miss Z playing the didgeridoo.
Wild Mushroom Pirogi
 We had a pot luck lunch of Lasagna, Swiss Chard and Chick Pea wilted Salad and Wild Mushroom Pirogi.The menu was an attempt to feed all tastes. The Wild Mushroom Pirogi was my attempt to keep reminding Cousin and us that we are going mushroom picking soon,it's written in stone now.I tried to be a little creative with the dough scraps,those are suppose to be mushrooms on the top.

Hrafinstaads soon to be rain barrels.

 Shortly after the Cousins left our neighbor stopped by he had something for us if we could drive across the neighborhood to get them,two wine barrels for free. We had asked the neighbor a while ago about his wine barrels he turned into rain barrels,he said he would let us know if he could get some more.Well these two were suppose to be for his parents who decided they did not want them after all.The barrels were going to be just put out to the curb for free but then they remembered us and so now they are here.One of them will live in the flower bed along our front walk way near our front door.I think it's going to look nice.First we will need to find plugs for their bung holes and Chance will build a platform for them to sit on.I am still not too sure it make sense in wet Oregon to keep the rain barrels but the idea behind them is a good one so we shall see if they are worth it or not.
Other than all of that life is good.Yeah sure our garden sucks this year but I don't feel so bad about that anymore.After talking with several friends around town who are either professional gardeners or have gone through the Master Gardener program I now know that even our "better educated" gardening and homesteading friends are having a bad garden year.Whats the saying? Misery loves company?


Monday, September 13, 2010

senfgurken: vengeance will be mine! « Culinaria Eugenius

senfgurken: vengeance will be mine! « Culinaria Eugenius: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

The other day I found an almost too big cucumber in the garden that was a bit yellow,oops.I brought it in and Issac asked me if it was any good? Maybe,maybe not was my answer.Issac suggested pickling it.No,it's too late for that,pickles are done.
I wish I had seen the linked recipe above maybe I could have saved the cuc from the compost bin/chicken snack bar. Now I know and have book marked the page. After taking time to grow our own food I really don't like wasting the investment,this recipe is inspiring me to find more ways or recipes that use up those "oops I over looked that ___" things we grow.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Homesteading bliss.

   Today was a good homesteading day filled with wintering in tasks and getting things in order for the coming week.The sun was out with it's slanted fall sparkle to it making weeding a not so bad job.
  My shrine to St.Elizabeth is working and all of my baking came out perfect.My only baking related question currently is: How is that whenever I decide to bake I am wearing black? Thank goodness for my lovely collection of vintage aprons.
    The changing weather means that soon it will be time to hunt for mushrooms again.The word on the grapevines is the Chantrells are just starting to peek out.

Chantrell Mushrooms
  Until next time,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pickles and Chickens

After spending the past few days in bed with the flu which is the biggest waste of time to me and a pain in the backside all around, I am up and feeling mostly myself and ready to check in with all of you.

  I asked Chance for his input,thoughts, ideas or his maybe next time I would___ about pickles and here is his answer.
  It was easy.And I really should get in touch with Portland Charcuterie about curing meat and making pickles.( Ah yeah?! Stop talking and do it already! )
Chance's Pickles.
   Ok then,I guess that's it.I will add though he canned up 19 Quart jars from 20 pounds of cucs, that are now sitting in the pantry letting their magic work.We use my Grandmother's recipe that dose not tell you how long to process or how long to let them sit before you pop a jar open so we use the Ball Canning Book's guide lines.15 minutes processing and about 6 weeks of fermenting time.But really with Pickles the longer you can resist the urge to open a jar the better.Last falls Pickles hit their prime late Spring.I really do love Grandma's recipe especially the one scant cup of salt part with no naming of which kind of salt or what is a scant cup by the way Grandma?

 As some of you may know we have a handsome Rooster named Zephaniah who is the father of our 3 homegrown pullets that hatched this summer.When we brought Zeph home we told the neighbors if his crowing is bugging you please let us know and we would re-home him. The time has come, Zeph needs a new home,a neighbor whom we respect greatly commented on how vocal he has become.We are hopeful he can live at our friends farm out in the country where Zeph can go and be his loud and handsome self. I will miss that guy,he's been a great Rooster who took good care of his flock of girls.
 There's more news from the chicken yard as well.The Mama Hen has gone Broody again.It is totally the wrong time of year for this since the warm weather will be gone before chicks could become steady on their feet.This time around we are not letting her sit on any eggs.That dose not mean she is not trying really hard to sit.Her story is a funny yet sad one here it is.
  Mama has no eggs in her nest and when one dose get laid there we take it hoping she will just get the idea, nope.Chance put a block of wood in her nest to keep her from sitting and so the other hens wouldn't lay in Mama's nest.Mama still tried to sit,  on the block of wood! Ok, so now what? We are now letting the hens out every day to roam the yard and picking Mama up and forcing her to get off the nest.We then shut the coop door until evening.Mama now struts around with her tail fluffed up looking like a turkey's tail growling at everyone and thing.Poor Mama,poor, poor Mama.All of those hormones going to waste and a bad case of Chicken PMS.Watching her go through all of this has put a thought in my head or maybe I should say phrase- "bird brain". Only a bird brain would try and hatch a block of wood.
  This is kind of a lazy way to keep a hen from being broody,kind of. The other way to discourage a hen from going broody is to put her in a small cage that is only big enough for her to take a couple of steps.A kind of solitary confinement to get her to snap out of it.When we had an old cage we did this but sometimes it just seemed to not really work and even though we go about things with a certain amount of farmer's sensibilities it just gave me flash backs to all of the film footage out there of those God awful commercial chicken "farms".
   Make your own choice either way it takes a week or so for the Hen to get it over with.

   The last bit of chicken news.Our three Pullets now have a nickname,"The Bearded Ladies". All three have been graced with the Americanas beard from Zeph. Every time I look at them their markings change just a little bit.The two with the Gold Lace Wyandotte coloring are losing the light colored hoods they had but are still lovely.And the other black and white has the best coloring in her beard, a salt and pepper effect.I wish the trio would hold still long enough to get a good photo to share here.
( I stopped here due to Sol begging me to see if the Peach Crisp I made this evening was just right for eating.It was and bowls full topped with vanilla ice cream were enjoyed.)

 Other than pickles and chicken news what has been going on?.... I have been collecting seed heads from various things in the garden for next years garden,our cool weather crops are looking more hopeful than the ones we planted in the Spring.We shall see how long that lasts since we are due for La Nina weather this fall/winter bringing us even more rain than we had last spring (of course,go figure we live in Oregon after all.) and sometimes colder temps.
    I can't remember if I mentioned this but if you have fruit trees you may come to realize that every other year there seems to be no or little fruit.This year we are having a no fruit year. I have also noticed that it is also a no spider year here at Hrafinstaad.Usually by now I am walking through the yard waving my hand in front of me to knock the webs down before I walk through them.There have always been spiders despite us having the chickens so why there's no spiders this year is a mystery to me.I understand the fruit tree cycle but no spiders has never happened here before.I have also noticed tons more wild bees,3-4 different kinds in fact.This is good,those poor little things are dieing out all over and we need to them to keep the world fed.I don't know if we are seeing a rise in them because we now have several plantings they really like or if they fared better this past winter.Having this kind of relationship with the world around me is important to me,it keeps me from forgetting that I owe the Earth stewardship in exchange for all the Earth gives us.
    Right after taking note of the fruit trees,the spiders and bees I read a book by Barbara Kingsolver called "Prodigal Summer".Ms Kingsolver's name may ring a bell, she also wrote "Animal, Vegetable,Miracle" Prodigal Summer is what I consider a "chick book" (not my normal genre) but I enjoyed it for it's message about how inner connected and important the circle of life is.I would recommend this book not for the romance that comes and goes but for the conversations about how dependent one life is on another and how little most know about this.
  Wow,this post is a bit long so I am closing for now before anyone's eye cross.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

unclutter your life – give your stuff away

unclutter your life – give your stuff away: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Hey everyone I just found this and wanted to encourage people to think it over and maybe try it in their neighborhoods. Early in the summer Chance and I went to a near by neighborhoods "Take it or Leave it Day" event it was very much like this and a huge success.
Events like these have so many good points to them and all of them are listed on the website,go check it out.

I will have Chance's Pickle Report in the morning.



Today Chance will be canning our Pickles by himself.This is part of the new era we are living in, dividing up the homestead work we once did together so things keep going.I'll post later with his thoughts on his first solo canning project.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A mile long to do list.

   I was awoken this morning at 6:15 by the rumbling of a roofing company's truck making a delivery,not my idea of a pleasant way to wake up on a day "off" but it means I am now able to be here writing.

 I have a to do list that is right around a mile long or only seems a mile long because some of it is time sensitive.Here is my list:

Make Pickles before the pickling cukes are gone for the year. ( My family will revolt if I don't make this deadline happen.) The lids from last years jars are marked 9/10/09 so maybe I have a few more days to get my cuckes.

Make Strawberry Jam- this one has wiggle room,the berries are still in the freezer so time wise I am covered,whew, maybe this can go farther down the list.

Pick some late Peaches for the freezer,if it dose not happen today or tomorrow it won't happen.(Winter Sunday breakfasts just won't be the same without them, better make it happen.)

Call Senior Services to ask for help with/for my Dad,if I am lucky this will only take one call from which I will not be dropped. It's time for extra help in the home for Dad,he as fallen twice within two weeks and is losing things. The sooner he has more help the better, so this is top of the list.

Call Dad's Doctor-see above as to why.

Remember at dark to move the now not so little chicks and their Mama to the big coop. The now Poultes  are out growing the Broody House so into the Big Coop they need to go.Mama still won't willingly roost with the other chickens so I think it is time to force it.

I already ordered 100 pounds of Apples for Apple Sauce and Butter so making those can wait until October when the Apples arrive.Yes, I did write 100 pounds last years 82 pounds was not enough to keep us in Apple Sauce, we ran out by March.When you have two boys who can sit down and lick clean a quart jar of Apple Sauce before you have realized they opened the jar, 100 pounds of Apples is necessary.

Get the boys ready for school to start. Sol needs shoes,can't send the baby to school without them and both boys still need a handful of supplies.School supplies that sounds easy and so do the shoes right? Not when it has to be this certain Binder that zips and is so many inches thick and the right color. That's the boys demands not the schools but they are kind of right since the other Binders just fall apart after week one and I am back at the store shopping Again. Finding the right shoes is a mystery and when I figure it out I'll let you know. I have until Monday evening to get this one done, somehow I must capture the boys and force them to be home long enough for me to stick them in the car and zoom away with them.

Maybe that dose not seem to bad to some of you but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it. Somewhere amongst all of the things to do I have gone back to work so my time has been shortened here at home.I am happy to be working again but it hind sight maybe if the universe had sent me my job mid-September things could have been better organized. I feel like I am re-learning how my life works or how to juggle this new era. I read some place that Chance and I are called the Sandwich Generation- still caring for our own kids and taking care of aging parents.Wow, how dose that work? I mean, I know people get there because of timing and all, but how do they do it? I have all of these balls I am juggling around , teen boys, my Mom, my Dad (geez it would have been swell if they were still together,one stop helping.) a job, Chance,the house and oh yeah Homesteading.
  Someplace in that pile of balls is the tricky one,the wild card out of them-the emotional side.That ball has a mind of its own and rares its ugly head as it sees fit.Watching your parent slip into Alzheimer's is scary unknown territory with out a map or a how to guide.Then there are the boys who's needs from us are changing,we are now the parents of young men, not little boys, a thing that pulls at our heart strings.

  This summer has been like Dorthy and Toto swirling in the tornado with all of that stuff whipping by.Chance and I sit in the eye of it looking around thinking "I don't think we are at Hrafinstaad anymore" But it will all clam down and we will land safely back at Hrafinstaad.School will start for which I am more grateful this year than any other-life with the boys will be forced into a slower pace.Senior Services will be called and the Doctor as well.Appointments made, Jars filled and neatly placed in the pantry,Peaches will be frozen,Work days will come and go.It's just getting the hang of it and putting everything down on my mile long to do list.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

poppytalk: Back to School: How to Make a Snack Bag

While I am busy training at work,hosting out of town guests and getting the boys ready for school I wanted to share this video with you.
I am always looking for ideas for things that can replace throw away items.Even though somethings are recyclable I still feel like by making more reusable/washable things I am cutting down on waste and pollution,it still takes power and resources to recycle that are on a larger scale than throwing my homemade things into a load of wash.
The fold down top is an extra nice touch to these bags,ever have sticky lunch goo stuck in Velcro?Not so nice.I am going to have find some cloth that will fit into our household style, not too girlie, not to little kid something just right.
poppytalk: Back to School: How to Make a Snack Bag: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Sorry I have not been here much.This summer has become a beast of its own and has me realizing that Chance and I have entered into a new phase in our lives. It is giving me much to think through and the need for a new game plan that has yet to manifest its self.


Friday, August 13, 2010

That's a lot of chips

That's Prime Metal Man hanging on the garage,even he is saying -Oh my that's a lot of chips!
Many months ago Chance and I called to be put on a waiting list for a load of free wood chips from the local power company.When I talked with the lady in the office she asked me  "Are you sure? It can be like 5 pickup truck beds full."  Yes, we wanted them even if it did seem like a lot of chips. This week the trucks have been in our neighborhood trimming the trees away from the power lines and finally yesterday they dumped our load of chips in the driveway. Not 5 pickup truck beds full but it is still a big pile.

Half way across the yard.

 Chance and I started by filling the path in the backyard.We filled the path to the top of the stones knowing the chips would compress down after a while. We also put some around the back garden near the chicken coop, around our old apple tree and under the big fir tree in our breeze way.
Hmmmm,there's still a lot of chips left.

 We still have a big pile of chips to figure out where to put.We can put some in the compost and around our climbing rose but after that I am at a loss as to where to put this big pile. I am wondering about along our driveway since that's a spot come winter gets pretty wet and muddy. It seems like a useful place and somehow we can make it look nice as well.

  Other than that.... Well, Chance put the Mama hen back into the big coop with the rest of the chickens.It was time,she was starting to pick on the chicks and they have not spent time together in over a week now.Two signs it was time for the next stage. We are leaving the chicks in the Broody house until they are a bit bigger.We have been making sure to let all of the chickens loose so they could socialize and get used to each other.That has been going fine with only a few moments where the chicks have been chased off.

 And my other news is I am returning to work today. I used to work for a local shoe store called Clogs-n-More, my local readers are probably familiar with this Mecca of Dansko's. When Issac got SO sick with his Crohn's a couple of years ago I left Clogs-n-More to take care of Issac. I was sad to leave because I liked my job,co-workers and you couldn't ask for a better company to work for.Well, not only do they sell adult shoes but they also have a kids store,there was an opening there and I applied and start work today.I am excited, I am returning to work for a company I like and I can put my preschool teaching skills to work as well. And honestly I need to be working outside of home.My brain needs the fuel,I need more interaction with people and extra money is always a good thing. I am only working part time which will be perfect for us as a family.I can still be home in time for dinner and homework and have time for homesteading projects.
  Oh and the other bit of family news that is just as exciting as my job,Sol has a new guitar teacher.This is huge for Sol and since he has been at Camp all week he dose not know yet.We had been working on the lessons deal before Sol left but it had not been finalized. Sol is really in to learning to play Delta Blues slide guitar,had started lessons until his teacher had a big ball of life happening and Sol has missed the lessons.Even without lessons Sol has been practicing what he had learned,that is how passionate he is about his music.This Monday will be Sol's first lesson with a local musician who plays this same type of guitar. Also check out this link,it's my favorite video of him.
 I must go now,it's my first day of training and I really should not be late.I hope you get to take a walk on the sunny side of the street today, I know I will be!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recycled Kitchen Island

 Since the garden,yard and chickens are all just doing their own thing Chance and I have been focusing on some indoor projects.About a week or so ago I had seen a posting elsewhere about using creative items for kitchen storage.The posting reminded me that I was wanting to reorganize our kitchen,then my gears got rolling and then I remembered Chance and I have been tossing the idea around about having a Kitchen Island for extra work space.We remodeled our kitchen about 3 years ago and have yet to come up with an idea that was affordable and one we both liked.

Our little black dresser turned upside down.
  When we remodeled the kitchen we had picked for about $10 at a yard sale a small dresser that needed paint and new knobs.The dresser was the perfect size for a niche in the kitchen and the drawers are nice and deep for linens. We painted it black and added extra knobs we had for our cabinets. I started our Island project by moving the dresser where an island would be in our kitchen just to get a feel for wither the island would work for us.It did, then Chance remembered he had a sheet of stainless steel in the shop,could it work as a top? And he had some casters to help raise it up and make the island movable.

Casters taken off an old chair.

  The Stainless Steel fit almost perfect (YES!) the only issue was when we set the piece on it hung over and we could not open the top drawer.To solve this Chance built out of some 1x2's a frame that fits the inside of the steel.This frame allowed the top to be raised just enough to still look right and make it so we could open the drawer.Chance attached the wood frame to the dresser with wood screws.He then had to chisel the screw tips off so the drawers would slide in and out smoothly.

 All together the project took about an hour to do.The cost was zero dollars since we reused a dresser and everything else was salvaged from various places.

The finished Island.

   I am getting used to the island being there so far I have only bumped into a couple of times.I am still used to the old lay out of the kitchen.Besides the island I have been moving things around in the house and reorganizing.With the house being small (1200 sq ft) keeping unused stuff out is important.I am also always looking for ways to store things away.
Little Horse Vase.
Before I go I also wanted to show all of you the little horse shaped vase I found at the Goodwill for under a dollar.The top of the horses mane is where you stick the flowers in.I fell in love with its chunky body,it reminded me of the Fjyord Horses I love so much.Even the shape of the mane is like the way Fjyord's are cut.

It is Scout Camp week! We love the boys to death but dang it is nice to have a long break that has no Mother's guilt attached to it.I don't have to feel bad about having a good time because the boys are having one as well.No playing Mom Taxi, WAY less cooking since Chance and I will just eat left overs and whatever else is easy, and quiet. I am sure later in the week I will start to miss them but until then Ahhhhh.
  I am hoping Chance and I can go this afternoon to pick either Blueberries ( I know, it's getting late and I had better do it.) and/or Peaches for the freezer.If not today then maybe tomorrow will work.

             Take Care, Rois

Friday, August 6, 2010

DIY Mason Jar Chandelier Kara Pasley Designs | Apartment Therapy San Francisco

I found this DIY this morning and thought the comment in the article saying "do you have a collection of jars with hopes you'll find something cool to do with them someday" was funny.
Although the chandelier is clever I think I'll use my jars for canning and as drink glasses. What are some ways you use canning jars other than canning?

DIY Mason Jar Chandelier Kara Pasley Designs | Apartment Therapy San Francisco: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sigh.... Cafe Da

Cafe Da,served in the finest of glasses a Mason Jar.
       Remember in my last posting how I said I have had Cafe Da on my mind,that yummy coffee float drink from Vietnam? This evening my husband proved to me once again that I made the best choice in life partner,he made me Cafe Da.

  To make this yummy drink is super easy all you have to do is:
    Make a pot of coffee
    In a glass put a couple of  good sized scoops of ice cream.We used vanilla but any flavor that you like with  coffee will work.( Chocolate? Mmmmm Mocha sounds good.Caramel, oh dreamy.)
   Now pour the hot coffee over the ice cream  just like when you make a float with soda.Be sure you choose a glass that can take the quick change in temperature. No need to add milk/cream or any kind of sweetener,that's the ice creams job.
   I have never tried this with any of the no dairy ice cream choices out. I think it should work only because it just seems like it should.If anyone tries this with something else that is ice cream-ish let me know 'cause I am curious.
  Ok I must say that the combination of coffee and ice cream makes this a favorite treat of mine,two loves in one glass.But what I also enjoy about it is the different temperatures inside the drink,cold,cool and warm all in different bites.
 As you can see in the back of the photo I baked today and my newly erected shrine to St Elizabeth seems to be working. I baked Short Cakes for Peach Short Cakes with Vanilla Ice Cream. As you may be able to see the pan is still full of cakes,my family chose the Cafe Da's over the Cakes.I find that an ironic point. I baked and it went the way it should but did my family eat any of it? No. Go figure. They will keep and actually the cakes are scone like so breakfast may be Peaches and Cakes minus the ice cream.
  If anyone wants the recipe for the Short Cakes let me know,they are easy peasy and more versatile than people think.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


 Looking back on the past few posting I realize that I have not had any homesteading projects to share.Are we still homesteading? Well, yes we are it's just it seems like I have posted about the daily stuff many times,the garden (which is currently not doing much.) baking (see last post on how that is going.) DIY projects(none in the works right now.) and canning (have not had time but need to get my butt in gear.).
  I could tell you that a few weeks ago we bought an ice cream maker at a yard sale for $5,a score! And I now find myself obsessed with the idea of making homemade ice cream and dream of making ice cream sandwiches.Oh but the ice cream treat I am really dreaming and drooling over is Cafe Da, a Vietnamese drink kind of like a Coffee or Espresso Float. The problem with my obsession? Well ah,um, you see I am not suppose to eat ice cream because of my gut issues.I know there are lots of other alternatives out there but nothing replaces good old milk based ice cream.So, I am waiting to make ice cream until I have been super good about what I have been eating (or not eating) and maybe there are extra people around to help eat the whole batch up,that way I won't kill myself or at least not land in the ER by eating ice cream until the tub is empty.
  I could tell you that it's X Games week, a once a year Skate Boarding, BMX, Rally Car and Motor Bike competition that is on TV for 4 days running (the boys have recorded all 4 days of it which means I will be one lucky girl and get to watch the prime parts over and over .) What does that mean to me? It means my house will be full of teenagers hooting and cheering for guys like Travis Pastrana, doing flips on his motorbike or Najda whom we have been watching for several years now zipping around on his skateboard with waist length dreadlocks flying.My cupboards will be bare by the end of the games but my sofa will be full of crumbs and that is alright by me,it is once a year and I think it's the most TV my boys ever watch all year.
  I can tell you Chance and I are busy getting house and yards ready for a family reunion for my Dad's side of the family,a wish I have had for my Dad for a while now. Dad misses his siblings and I have wanted to do this for him before his memory is too far gone.It's going to be a bitter sweet day in September,good to see everyone but sad due because of why I was motivated to do it.
  By the end of today I will have some photos to share of the sitting area I created here out of things we had stored away. I have been wanting to do this project for some time now because the house gets hot, we don't have a family room and some times escaping what the boys are up to is not always easy. I.E see the paragraph above about X Games.Now Chance and I have a place to sit with a drink,a project or book where we can relax in the cool shade.
  It has pleasantly cool here making it easy to get work done.My screw noggin' is not getting fried as I weed the gardens and when I sent Chance up to the attic for something I did not have to feel like I was sending him to the burning bowels of Hell.
  I will confess that I am a basket case of nerves over having my Dad's side of the family here,I am overly house proud.I had this short list of projects/honey do things for Chance to do and now as I look around my crazed pride is finding things all over the place.Sorry Dearest,your list may be growing but like always I will be there right by your side working our way forwards.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

St Elizabeth

      Dear St Elizabeth, 
    Since you are the patron Saint of Bakers,The Poor and Sickly Children I am writing to you today to ask you to grace and bless my kitchen.Although I am not a Catholic I do feel you are the one to send my prayers to.You see I am the household baker here,there is a sickly child in the house and somehow I the non-Catholic received at birth the sainted middle name of Elizabeth passed down to me through many generations some of  whom the I know were devoted Catholics.
     I need your help you see,real bad.Lately every time I try and bake something goes crazy in the oven.That's terribly wounding to ones ego you know. The oven arched,the cake burned,the cookies were charcoal and now the cake pans over followed into the oven that was just cleaned.Some how there is a curse going on in the kitchen and my family is starting to curse me for one more batch of some sort of burnt sugar.
  Maybe I called the curse upon myself.I had tried to have a conversation with that fellow from China,The Kitchen God,maybe he did not hear my cries of woe due to a language barrier or maybe he's just not taking any calls right now,I don't know.All I know is I need some divine intervention here.Maybe the cursing of my kitchen came about because I turned my back on my own ancestors God and Saints but I have a really good reason for calling on The Kitchen God.I was raised Unitarian and just thought well all roads lead us to God after all what could it hurt to call upon another faiths God.I am guessing this is not so when it comes to the blessings in a kitchen.
  So dearest St.Elizabeth if I build you a shrine in my kitchen,lay roses upon it and light some candles would you, could you, please come and bless my kitchen? I am worried that soon after eating too many batches of charcoaled treats I won't have just one Sickly Child but two and a man and wife as well all with belly aches.

 (Ok I know all of you natural medicine people are thinking "But Charcoal is a belly ache cure." I don't think they use burnt cookies for this remedy.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

An evening out

In a house,someplace down the way a phone is ringing and ringing and ringing some more.Click, whir you hear the answering machine pick up the voice says-

 Hello, You have reached The Broody House, so sorry we missed your call.You see this evening is the first evening out for us in a long while if not ever.We have popped down the way to dine out,maybe you have heard of the place? You know The Meadow at Hrafinstaad? Please leave your message after the beep and we will return your call.Beep and then nothing but a dial tone.
Mama Trixie and chicks dine out for the first time.

  Mama and the chicks were let out of the Broody house for the first time this evening.it was sweet to see Mama plucking bites of this and that,showing the chicks and then the chicks grabbing it right from Mama's mouth.Pretty soon the chicks had caught on to what Mama had been teaching them and were hunting for their own dinners.

  Having our own home grown brood of chicks is still the best thing ever.