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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Spreading the word through inspiration

 It is Friday afternoon almost dinner time,maybe dinner time if the boys show up, and it is quiet. Yesterday started out stormy,clouds rain,hail, a down pour so heavy you could not see out the windows a bit of everything.By afternoon there was a sunhole a really big one that kept spreading,ta da sunshine all over.
  Chance and I darted out and mowed,pulled weeds and took inventory of what was up and what we might need to replant.Things are looking good,lots of little sprouts all over.
   This spring every time we are out working in the front garden we get LOTS of people stopping to talk with us.There have always been some but this year there are more.People ask us what we are doing,why and how.One lady knocked on our door with her camera,she wanted to send her friend pictures since the friend was getting ready to dig up their front yard for garden space.
   A main theme to the questions is why we choose not to grow our garden in straight lines and rows. Well... 1. We are not Farmers who need every inch of field and Farmers end up with erosion problems with those straight lines. 2. Our lot is shaped like a slice of pie,nothing is straight so we are following the natural curves.3.Finally we wanted it to be ours and to reflect our creative sides. 
  We are finding that the garden is bringing our community to our doorstep.All of a sudden there are people of like mind asking us for guidance and we are ok with that.If we can inspire more families to grow some of their own food and take care of things organically that is a good thing.It takes just one seed to get things going after all.
  When we have gone to various classes or meetings geared towards Urban Homesteading/Farming around Portland we have been met with a lot of snobbery. "Oh those Suburbanites they don't care,Why bother with them?" Well heads up it is catching on and here they come!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The beginnging is like a jig saw puzzle

 As I was thinking today I had this thought,the beginning of homesteading is like a jig saw puzzle.You bring home this box with a picture on the front.The picture represents your ideas of what an Urban Homestead should be or look like.For better or worse there it is.You open the box and dump upon your table this pile of pieces.How many pieces there are goes back to your ideas but luckily for you unlike an actual puzzle you can throw out,not use or rethink those pieces.
 Now what to do? To solve a puzzle I start out by sorting out the pieces in a way that makes sense to me. These pieces are now the different areas you can use to create your homestead,indoors and out.Starting from the edges working in or working from the inside out does not matter,you are working towards your goal.Sometimes you will have to turn a piece,move it around,put it back until later when it will work better or to be left out all together.Putting a puzzle together takes careful thought over time and so does homesteading.No one got there overnight,not even me. As you fit the puzzle together it will start to look like something,your idea of a homestead.( I am adding this,never let any one make you feel as if you are not homesteading right.Never. This is your life,ideas and home all things that should make you happy.)
 In the end there may be some holes in your puzzle where the pieces did not fit,were left out to be re thought or just plain stumped you for now.That's ok, every homesteader has holes.Keep working at it,things will work out over time.
 To cheer you all along here is a short list of holes here at Hrafinstaad:

1. I still buy Ramen noodles and Mac and Cheese in a blue box,the boys love them plain and simple.
2. We have no rain barrels ,We live in wet Oregon where there are only about 6 weeks out of the growing season where it may not rain, we mostly dry garden..Do we need rain barrels? The vote is out,I'll let you know.
3.I don't always bake our bread,life happens enough said.
4.I buy our soaps.I made some,no one would use it and making the kinds that are more involved scare me a bit.
5.Local beats Organic but some weeks Price beats them all.
6.Lately I have been using the dryer every time I do laundry.I donated our drying rack,the boys and I think it was haunted since it seemed able to walk.And see number 2 as well,rain.
 There are most likely more to the list but I am ok with that. We have time and wiggle room to fix the holes or not.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wow,when did my world turn so green? Every spring this happens to me,one day I walk out my door and it is like someone turned on the lights after being in total darkness.The world is GREEN,the leaves have fully uncurled,gardens are sprouting and flowers are nodding under the weight of the rain drops.I know I have had my head tucked down taking care of family life but gee-whiz  it is green out there.Nice.
  I have not had much time for homesteading projects this past week I have been just trying to keep up the daily stuff. It feels good to be getting back on track even if the chores sometimes seem like work and I may never find the bottom of the laundry hamper.
  The garden is coming along right on time.Soon we will be able to make a salad using our own greens and radishes. The things that bloom in the garden are blooming.Later today I want to pick some Sage Blossoms,French Lavender and Snowballs for the house.The Snowballs are still a bit green but the contrast of the different shades of green and the bits of purples from the other flowers will look nice.I am not always a traditionalist when it comes to what I put in a vase on the dinning room table,I suppose it is my artistic side showing.
  We never did get one of our hens to go broodie and set some eggs for us.This is probably for the best any way since our girls are laying just fine,are now in the coop full time due to the garden and I don't want them over crowded.Maybe next spring will be the time to try again. 
 This morning when I went to take some recycling to the outdoor can I noticed a mud caked soda can Issac had brought home Saturday.When we go out in the woods,beach or any outdoor place we pick up trash as we go along.It isone of our ways of  keeping our world clean.It always stumps me to think why would someone just leave their trash in some very beautiful places.Saturday as we went along the trail Issac left markers to remind him that on the way back up there was trash to pick up,he came home with 6 drink cans or bottles and a handful of wrappers.If each of us took the time to stop and pick up just one thing it would make a huge difference.A few times in my life we have picked up enough returnable soda cans to pay for the gas we used for our trip,at five cents a can that's a lot of cans.
  But then I thought if the soda cans were left behind would someone in the future find it? Would they think they had found a treasure? As a kid there were old home sites up in the mountains and we would dig through the garbage piles (Not new garbage! There hasn't always been garbage pick up you know.Farms just had a pile out back of the barn where non burnables were piled.) to find old bottles and carry them home as a treasure.Or would that person in the future think it was a shame that people of this era did not take care of our home the Earth? I'd like to think they would be ashamed.
  Well I must go,there is a sun-hole out my window and I need to go to feed the girls while it's not raining.
  Sun-hole: A term borrowed from a friend of ours, meaning a break in the clouds with the sunshine pouring through.A brief and welcomed sight here in wet Oregon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Slowing down

 I am back and grateful for a slower pace.I have had so much to ponder,sort through and reflect upon, my Dad,home, a new era,the returning of lost family members and where to go next.
   Things with my Dad are sorting themselves out but even with that I now realize it is time to take better care of both of my parents. I was a late last baby and my folks are getting older,it is now my turn to look after them like they looked after me. I can only trust they have given me the strength and knowledge to move into this new era.My Midwife once said to me "You would not be given a task if you were not able to do it." so with this in mind I will trust I can carry on.
  Over the past week I have been chewing on the question that was asked of me when I did the magazine interview that was written about in a general way; how much time goes into homesteading on a daily bases? I really could not sum it up in a neat tidy sentence,it varies from day to day depending on what needs to be done.It does take time but what life does not take time?
    Most of what I do day to day takes these little bits of time here and there,little moments that are hard to add up into a total. Take the days I bake bread. People who do not bake on a regular bases think this is a time consuming task but it's not really,it takes these small bites of time.I mix the dough and while I am kneading I end up planning my day or the next thing to do. Kneading bread sets the mind to work on some meditation ,the rhythm of it just puts you in that zone,you slow down,you are a captive audience to your own mind and you have time to think. Now, once that is done the bread must rise for an hour or more,then another 5 minutes is spent to punch down the dough,back to rising.In between there is time,plenty of it. Soup can be started to bubble away,laundry folded or the floor swept.If I made a list of all the things done in a day it would look like I worked my fingers to the bone from dawn to dusk. But it is just not so,time is organized differently that is all.
  Time moves at a slower pace most days with less focus on quantity but a greater focus on quality. Most days I can say, "There is always tomorrow to finish this." Somedays I am up against a deadline of my own making but the stress level is low. Then there are the times when I need to throw it all out the window.Oh well the house is a mess,there's weeding to do,gym clothes to wash and animals to tend but this over here is more pressing, fun, meaningful (because really who finds laundry meaningful?) or just a stolen moment of quiet.
  The marking of time is different as well. Time is not always marked by the ticking of the clock but the  turning of the seasons. The Lilac's bloom for my birthday most years, the snow has melted enough by my Dad's to be able to venture to the wilds, Red Clovers bloom for Issac's, Strawberries ripen for Sol's and Chance's marks the beginning of the winter holidays. Amongst those markers are many more seasonal things,plantings,harvests,celebrations and life lived.If the clocks of the world stopped ticking those things would still carry on in the silence. Living within seasonal time is a quiet life with plenty of time.
  My week crested, ebbed ,flowed and washing ashore,I landed on my two feet greeted by a joyful weekend. Chance and I had decided that Saturday we were running away from home,we needed more than anything to go away and re-center ourselves. An email was sent,a plan laid out, boots laced, a picnic lunch packed,gas tank filled so began one of the most memorable days of my life. Recently I was re united with a cousin of mine whom I had not realized how much I missed until I saw him standing before me. We rendezvoused with my cousin in the mountains near his home at a place that is near and dear in all of our hearts.The one place that always cures any heart ache or stress.A cathedral of blue-green rushing waters surrounded by Mother Natures temple walls built of stone.  A place so coveted I will  not share with you the name or location, it must stay hidden away in the woods carefully guarded.The center of the Universe is the location my cousin gave it and it does feel that way.At the center of the Universe there is no need for time, we sat and talked and it did not matter that the years since we had all last spoken had been like the rushing waters before us. There was no clock ticking.
   You see this life I live it allows for times like these. We can walk away and take care of ourselves and those we love.Time is an invention of mankind because of that we can chose to change it,slow it down,step away from it. Like any other invention we can tinker it until it becomes what we want it to be. Inventions of man can be destructive pollution's in our lives.We race with the clock for more of everything, along the way we loose sight of everything and one.Why?
  Sunday the day of rest, which we did and that was good. Chance and I did spend the afternoon celebrating a coming baby,the first for our friends,the first is always the most joyful. I had started my week working through the ending parts of life not the very end but the beginning of it to find myself celebrating at the start of a new week a new life. Time was marking its self again with out a clock and maybe if I did not live this life of slowed down time I would not have noticed.
  The teachings of Buddha teach that all happenings are just a moment and will pass then are gone,let them go but be mindful of the moment and learn from it. This past week has taught me a lot about time and the passing of it.Maybe this posting does not seem to be a topic for homesteading but it is because it is about one of the key points to why we call ourselves homesteaders, slowing down so we can nurture on a deeper level not only the Earth and  our bodies but our relationships as well.I will remain mindful of the passing of time but no longer believe I need a clock to remind me of it because I chose to live with seasonal time just like my forefathers the true homesteaders who came before my time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I am either away from my desk or on the road.

I'll be back next week,I am needed by Dad this week to iron out some legal stuff which includes becoming his Guardian. It looks like my life has entered a new era.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chick-Peas and Swiss Chard

Last week when I posted the Sticky Cinnamon Roll recipe I received some teasing from a follower about how here she was trying to eat healthier and here I was posting those sticky buns of goodness.To make things up with the follower I promised to post a recipe for something healthier.
  We try our best to eat a healthy and well balanced diet but we are human,have sweet teeth (or is that tooth?) and I love to bake.Everyone at our house but Issac loves this dish.Issac is apposed to cooked leafy greens and sweet potatoes.And not being one of those parents that forces their kids to eat the things they don't like I leave him be about leafy greens and sweet potatoes,he eats everything else so he will be fine.
   The dish I have chosen to share comes from my MOST favorite cookbook, "Please to the Table ,the Russian Cookbook".By: Anya Bremzen and John Welchman.  I use this book so much it is dog eared and a bit tatty.One of the things I love about this book is the use of common foods in a way that is different to American cooking.But not so strange that no one will eat.I have also noticed how economical many of the recipes are but taste like you spent lots of cash.Many of the recipes use tons of veggies so it is a great book to have on hand in the summer when the garden is bumping
  We always grow Swiss Chard, either the Bright Lights which gives you multi- colored stems or one the varieties that has all red stems.This year we are trying for the first time the Giant Fordhook Swiss Chard,I saw a photo of these giant leaves and thought they would be fun to try.Swiss Chard is very easy to grow and by only cutting a few leaves from the plants at a time you can have Chard until the frost kills it off.In some places and when we have a very mild winter the Chard will grow year round.In the introduction for the recipe the author states that in Russia Swiss Chard is called "horse's sorrel" and can be used as a substitute for grape leaves when making dolma. The flavor of Chard is stronger than Spinach but much milder than Kale or Mustard Greens.

Chick-Peas and Swiss Chard:
  1 pound Swiss Chard (any color)  rinsed and drained - This is usually one bunch if buying from a store.
  3 Tablespoons olive oil
  1 small onion cut in half and sliced
  1 clove garlic sliced
  1 Cup canned or cooked chick-peas,drained
  1 large,meaty,fresh,ripe tomato,peeled.seeded and chopped.-  I never bother to peel.
  2 Tablespoons water
  2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  salt and pepper to taste.

Remove and discard the stems.( I like the stems and use them.) from the Swiss Chard and chop the leaves coarsely.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low heat.Add onion  and garlic saute until the onion is softened but not colored about 5 minutes.
Add chick-peas and tomato and cook,stirring for 5 minutes.Add Swiss Chard and water,cover and simmer until the chard is wilted 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.Stir in lemon juice ,salt and pepper.Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.Serves 4.
I don't always let it cool to room temperature but it is best if you do,the lemon flavor comes out nicely. The book also says that the dish can be served cold like a salad which I like very much. I have mixed the left over Chick-Peas and Swiss Chard with left over CousCous and came up with a nice salad type dish.

So here you are Lacy the recipe I promised you.I am hoping it looks interesting enough that you are encouraged to try Swiss Chard for the first time.Let me know what you think.

 Last night I discovered my new favorite date spot,The Hammock @ Hrafinstaad.Chance and I spent a lovely evening laying in the hammock watching the sky darken through the tree branches and the rising of the Moon and Venus.Bliss right out our back door.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feed prices and using Salts

 Here we all are waiting,stuck between early spring and late spring. Waiting for the ground to warm up so we can plant the next round of seeds. Waiting for more of the early spring seeds to show their little sprouts. Waiting for the earliest plantings to be ready to eat.
 What to do,what to do? The seeds are purchased, leaving the seed catalogs to gather dust ,their shining glory fading away. The garden is mapped,the beds laid out and the compost has been put to work.
  While waiting around for the garden to grow Chance and I have been busy,when are we not? Tuesday we took a field trip to Hillsboro Feed  to check out their prices and inventory. For us Hillsboro is not any further than driving into Portland for feed.We really liked the people at Hillsboro Feed,friendly,helpful and knowledgeable. The store is well stocked with the usual feed store things and had the scent of feed and hay that I always enjoy.HF mills all of their own feed from locally sourced grains and sells a #50 bag of  Layer Pellets for $11.80 a $9 savings from the local feed we had been buying.HF also sells their bales of straw for $7 which would save us 2-3 dollars. For less than the price of one bag of feed and a bale of straw from where we had been buying we were able to get 100 onions, WallaWalla Sweets and a yellow onion called Yellow Rock and our bag of feed. That made us happy.
  We needed straw for our coop but never feel like we need a full bale and have no where dry to store the half we don't use so our solution was to stop at Aloha Feed and ask Mason for some free floor sweepings. Mason gave us 4 large bags full,more than enough for the coop and run . Many feed stores will give away their floor sweepings which is a great resource if you are keeping chickens on a city scale. We sometimes buy our feed from Aloha Feed along with straw and seeds. Their prices are the middle price now that we know about Hillsboro Feed.We will continue to stop in Aloha Feed when we need to make a quicker run and really we like Mason and his Mother and consider them to be great people to network with.(Aloha Feed has stuck with it's old fashioned roots and has no website for me to share with you.)
  I have started a salt experiment.In our canning book Preserved there is a photo of a twig of rosemary encrusted in what I think must be salt since it's the first photo in the salting section.I am intrigued by this photo and how it was done.I know most of the beauty in the photo is the lighting, the closeness and the salt its self. I decided I would like to try and make some of these salted rosemary twigs. I made a solution of salt water like when you make salt crystals for a grade school science fair and suspended the rosemary twig above the salt water. Now what am I doing? Waiting. Once I have figured out how to make the twigs I want to move on to how to use them in cooking.I thought the twigs would also make lovely gifts,gently packed into a clear glass jar to show the sparkle of the salt.
  Chance and I use several types of salts in our kitchen. Each one chosen for its purpose,curing salts for meats,sea salts, kosher salt for general cooking and table salt for baking. Some of our friends purchase over priced flavored salts which makes us chuckle.I am not talking about those bottles on the grocers shelf that have some odd color to them I am talking about salts from the gourmet cooking stores with things like truffles added to them.A micro sized jar that holds all of a tablespoon of the salt for a price some where in the teens.
  Well,being Chance and Rois who have this I can do it myself rant we have been making our own flavored salts. To do this we have been cutting assorted fresh herbs from the garden,washing and patting them dry,chop coarsely and add them to a jar half full of sea salt. Shake the jar to mix the herbs in and then let the jar set for a few days. The salt will pull the oils out of the herbs and infuse the salt with the flavors. We sometimes add in fresh cracked pepper for the pepper kick.We are hoping to get out and pick some mushrooms soon.If we do we are planning to dry a few to make our own mushroom infused salt. The salt is super easy to do and if you shop around carefully you can find a 5 pound bag of sea salt for around 6 or 7 dollars.
   Today will be busy,friends are stopping by to pick some things up in the afternoon.Issac's Boy Scout buddies are coming over after school to do some baking for their weekend trip. Somehow I seem to be the only Mother who does not mind the chaos that comes from teen aged boys baking in my kitchen.On their menu for this trip: Brownies and a quick bread filled with bacon and cheese.
  I'll be back when the cloud of flour settles,the boys are gone on their trip and things are quiet for just a moment or two.Ha-ha that's kind of funny to me,the idea of a quiet house.Is it possible here?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My moment in the spotlight.

Hey folks ,guess what?!?!?! The article I interview for a few weeks ago is out. I had thought it would be in the local newspaper but it was published in a local parenting magazine  called MetroParent.The article is an introduction into what urban farming families are doing and how one can get started.If you would like to read it here is the link ,flip the "pages" to page 14 to read the whole story.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Check these folks out

I wanted to pass along to everyone a website hosted by some great people Chance and I have taken permaculture classes from ,Norris and Tulsi at Discount Permaculture .This great duo are amazing teachers and offer free classes every now and again.This Saturday April 17th from 10-12 they are offering an early spring greens class followed by a potluck.They only have room for 15 so if interested email them quick. Norris and Tulsi also sell low cast plants, trees and books. We won't be able to make this weeks class but wanted to pass the word along.

A light pleasant rain.

 I am still having some tech problems when ever I post my own photos to my blog.Frustrating,annoying and irritation are the first three words that come to mind.This mind set is making it difficult to want to write. I posted a separate posting that is all photos and no text of the progress we made over the weekend.
  The photos are a walk around the front of the house as you would see it from the street. This weekend we planted the final tree for our fence line in the front. We also turned the ugly tree stump into a bed for pole type of beans. It is going to take some time to rot the stump out so until then we will keep the suckers trimmed and grow vines up the tee-pee to cover it up.
  I planted some flower seeds,poppies,bachelor buttons and cosmos.I have a small grove of borage that self seeded in one of the beds so I moved some of those starts to other places.I love the borage and the bees it brings.
 Chance and I also picked up for free 2 of the black beehive shaped composters. We placed them in corners of the front yard.Now we won't have to be trekking back and forth from the front to the back yard with  yard debris,why make work out of a job? I am thinking about planting some taller flowers to screen the one composter.It's not that ugly but it would be nice to add some flowers where it is any way.
  Just after we finished for the day the rain returned and brought us a light pleasant rain to seat the tree and encourage the seeds to sprout. "A light pleasant rain." that 's Homesteader speak for those times when you want it to rain verses all of those days when you wish it would stop raining so you can go outdoors to get your work done.
 We did not get to see the canning machine.We knocked on the neighbors door and it seemed like no one was home,who knows what happened.
 We did do our swap of samples.Nat brought us one bottle of his cider and we handed over a piece of the cured pork jowl we had on hand.We loved the cider,it's not sweet and has a crispness to it.I am not the most savvy person when it comes to these things but I liked the taste.I can't wait to finish the trade,I think everyone will be happy on both ends.
 None of our hens have gone broody but that's ok, we will keep trying,it is not like we are totally dependent on it.As long as the hens we have are laying it's all good.
 I am researching homestead supply costs. This came about yesterday when I was in Vernonia visiting my Dad.My Dad HAD to introduce me to the lady who runs the local feed store so we went. I could not believe how low her prices were.I talked to the owner of the feed store about this and she told me the farther from the city you get the lower the prices are for most livestock and garden supplies will be. My Dad lives 45 minutes away so the gas costs would not make it worth the trip all the way out there just for feed and straw but we are returning later this week and will pick up some feed and straw while there. I am going to call around to some of the closer to me but farther from Portland feed stores and do some comparison shopping.I am hoping to find a balance of  lower prices but not too much gas used.
 That's about it. I owe a follower a healthy recipe since she was giving me a hard time about the Sticky Buns I posted last week so that will be here soon.

A walk around home

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cold Antler Farm Give away

I wanted to pass this give away along since both books Jenna is offering sound great and could be useful to boot. So travel on over to her blog and sign up!

Interesting things are brewing

Image by .brioso. via Flickr
 A couple of interesting things are in the works here.One of which we will benefit directly from and another is an opportunity to see something neat.
  Last fall when I bought apples from Fruits of our Neighbors Nat and I talked about a trade at some point,some of our bacon for some of his hard apple cider.The cider is ready and the trade is in place.Tomorrow we are swapping samples! Then next week when the bacon is ready we will do the full swap.7 bottles of cider for 5 pounds of bacon.Some good eating and times are head.
   A couple of days ago our neighbor stopped by to let us know that he would have his churches big canning machine for the morning on Saturday(tomorrow) ,he invited us to use it if we liked. This machine uses big 5 pound cans to process whatever it is you want to can.Some of the things he mentioned were,flour,seeds,beans or any other goods one would want to store safely away.Although Chance and I do not A. have the cans or B.have anything we would want to store this way, we are hoping to stop by and check this machine out.I am hoping I can take a few photos of the whole thing to share with all of you. Part of me wishes we were not missing out on the use of the machine but then again it's not quiet what we are doing.The offer is kind and we are glad he thought of us.
  It is Friday! And I have this feeling in my gut that by afternoon my house may become full with extra bodies,most likely of the teenager size.So I called Chance and asked him for a request for a treat,he chose my Sticky Cinnamon Rolls. This is good suggestion, I can do a double batch easily and no one can say no to them. I could make a bet with Chance about how long the rolls will last if the house fills up,I could be owed some sort of riches by bed time tonight.These do not have frosting on their tops but rather have a sticky caramel type goo and how much spice they have can be left up to the baker.I sometimes add in raisins or nuts to the filling.Today I am opting for just gooey yum.  Now that I may have your attention here is my recipe.

Sticky Cinnamon Rolls:

Dough -
   4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
   1/4 Cup Sugar
   1/4 Cup lukewarm Water
   2 eggs
   2 Cups lukewarm milk
   3 teaspoons Salt
   6-6 1/2 Cups Flour  plus some for kneading
   1/4 Cup Oil

Soften the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm water,Beat the eggs,add the milk add the yeast-sugar mixture,salt,half the flour,then mix thoroughly.Add the oil and beat well.Add the rest of the flour or enough to make a soft dough.Turn out on to a well flour surface to knead or knead using a stand mixer,until smooth and elastic but no longer sticking to the bowl or surface. ( this dough is SUPER soft and sticky, when I do not use my mixer to knead it I am sure to oil my hands to prevent the dough from sticking.You will need some extra flour to get the dough to not stick.) Place in a well oiled bowl.Oil the top of the dough to keep it from drying out.Cover with a towel and let rise until double in bulk.Knead down then let it rise for another 45 minutes.
  At this point you can use the dough for rolls baking them at 425 for 15-20 minutes or continue on for Sticky Cinnamon Rolls.

The above dough will make a double batch of the rolls. I rarely bother with a single batch because they are so good.A single/half batch of dough will make around one 9x13 sized pan of Sticky Rolls.The recipe below for the syrup is for a  doubled batch of dough.But first you need to make the rolls.

Roll dough about 1/2 inch thick.Brush rolled dough with some melted butter,sprinkle with a generous amount of brown sugar and cinnamon which you have mixed together.Usually 1 Cup of Brown Sugar and 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon,adjust to taste.Roll the dough carefully beginning at the wide side and working away from you.Seal the dough bt pinching the edges together. Cut roll into 1 inch slices.Cover the bottom of a oiled pan with the cooled syrup,add cut slices,cut side down in pan.Do not crowd or the middles will pop up.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.Remove from oven and let them stand for 5 minutes to give the syrup time to thicken. Now place a cookie sheet or preferably a jelly roll pan on top of the pan and flip the pan of rolls over.Voila!

Syrup for Rolls-
  2 Cups brown sugar
  1/2 Cup butter
  4 Tablespoons corn syrup or honey 
 1/2 Cup water
 Cook until sugar has completely dissolved,stir most of the time. Cool before placing rolls in the syrup.
  For those of you who like nuts you can pour the syrup into your baking pan and then sprinkle chopped nuts over the syrup before placing the rolls.

Enjoy your days everyone, I am  off to roll out my dough.


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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Message to Todd

Hi Todd, Please email us.Chance was reading your blog and would love to talk with you some time about meat.
 Chance and Rois

Small sized shopping bags

I have been having tech issues which frustrate me to no end . Why one whole paragraph is underlined is a mystery and how to get rid of it with out re-writing the whole post is beyond my skills. So if this post is late and the pictures and text don't line up, I blame the computer.

 Monday  my friend Alison came over and we each did a bit of sewing.I have been wanting to make some smaller sized cloth bags to use at the store for produce or bulk items,that became my project for the day. Since we e put bulk items into containers here at home we end up with bags we have to recycle here at home or remember to take to the recycling bins at the stores. The smaller bags will help us use less,one more step forward for us. To make the bags I used some left over fabric,ribbon and made some tags from yogurt tub lids.

The first photo shows how I cut the tub lids out.Followed by tracing small circles.Then cutting the circles out. I later punched holes in each round and pulled the bags drawstring through the hole. When I go to the store I can use the stores grease pencils to write the bin number on my recycled tags.I also might pick up a grease pencil at an art supply store, to keep in my stash of shopping bags.

Here are the bags before they were sewn together.I had some left over pieces from another project and had enough to make 4 bags in two sizes.I love the print of the fabric and think it is much cheerier than the plain muslin ones I have seen for sale at our local store. I made only 4 until I figure out if they really are easy and useful. I also want to see how the store clerks react to them. At one of the stores I know there will be no problems. And at the other store I shop there won't be any issues if I can go on a day when my favorite clerk is working. She's my fav because she does not mind me using paper bags for produce and bulk items even though it slows the line down, her co-workers grumble over the paper bags. 

  When I sewed the bags up I gave them French seams for the strength.I also used the zig-zag stitch for the fold over for the drawstring casing. For the drawstring I used some left over ribbon that was the prefect shade of blue,not planned that way I was just using up what I had on hand.

This photo shows the bags all finished.I was able to fit 6 medium sized oranges in one bag and about 1 1/2 pounds of rice in the other. I am pretty sure we will be able to use these bags for the dry items we buy.If I end up with something a bit sticky I can always wash the bags once I am home.
   Finally I would like to introduce the newest member of the family,Sparrow. She came with the name Daisy but we know 4 other little dogs with the same name so the boys chose to re-name her. Sparrow is a mini-spotted- Doxie, she is 2 and since she is a rescued dog that is about all we know about her. Our friends rescued her from a home where she was not being fed. When our friends first got her she was skin and bones but she is starting to plump up.She has some basic good manners,listens well,follows me everywhere and is settling in great considering she has been here less than 2 days. Thora our other dog seems to be fine with her,Toby the cat is indifferent especially since the dog is smaller than the cat. The chickens are puzzled and watch from afar with a look that says "What the heck is it?" Sparrow seems to be thinking the same of them but they will learn to live together.I never thought we would have such a tiny dog but she has such spunk I am sure she will do just fine.I do draw the line at dressing the dog like a baby. When we went to the local pet store to buy her a collar Chance suggested we just look at the sweaters and coats since she will need something in our cool wet climate.ACK!!! and DOUBLE ACK!!!!!! Poor dogs,who in the hell thinks a dog needs a dress is whacked out. Most likely I will find a pattern and sew her a rain cape or like the neighbor find something at the thrift stores. (Don't get me started on the prices for those "clothes"for dogs!) The photo is not so great,she just won't hold still long enough to get a better one.
  The sun is supposed to come out today,please God let it be true! I need a big fat dose of vitamin D straight from Dr Sunshine.In spite of the pouring rain and wind the seeds we planted are coming up,Beets, Carrots, Salad Greens,Chards and the Sweet Peas too. The chickens are cranking out the eggs but I have not sold any more. Seeing all those eggs sitting in their basket has inspired me to try some recipes that use lots of eggs and the boys are on a Toast and Eggs for Breakfast kick.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

 Happy Easter to my readers who celebrate and I hope those of you who observe Passover had a good holiday as well. This year was our first year not dying eggs or any of the Easter Bunny stuff. Kind of strange to be at that point but the boys are growing up after all so the day was coming.Sol went to Seder Dinner for the first time and I think he was feeling a bit more connected to his Jewish heritage.Issac is pushing 16 and has never cared much for Easter.
  I was the only one interested in trying to dye a few eggs with natural dyes. I took two of our eggs and blew out the egg, I was not interested in eating boiled egg so I saved the eggs for baking today. I made a dye from 4 Red Zinger tea bags and let the eggs set over night. Since our eggs are brown and even though I chose one light one and one dark the results were "Preschool Brown." I used to teach Preschool and when the kids would mix all of the primary colored paints together we would end up with Preschool Brown.Not a charming color but when you are 4 it is lovely. I'd like to try this again but with some white eggs.
  Having been rained in for most of the week there is not a lot to report here. I did discover how our Rooster and the one more clever Wynadott are escaping the coop.There is a spot in their fencing that has rolled over,the chickens have learned that they can jump up on to it and hop out of the coop. It must be time to clip the chickens wings and fix the fence.
   We are feeling a bit cooped up ourselves. Every year we get this brilliant weather in February and then by March we are back to cooler rain.Most years we can hang on knowing that Spring will return but this year the rain is like being water tortured.The drip,drip of the rain hitting the windows and rolling down your neck each time you step out the door.
  My brain has stolen some of the clouds from the sky and feel I have nothing of great importance to share.
 Let me place you on hold while we get back to things.I promise it won't be forever like when you call the phone company,we won't play that God awful music too loudly and we won't ask you to press a series of numbers just to end up in the wrong department.I'll have Homesteading Crafty Goodness to report on tomorrow. I am making something that will keep our journey moving forward......

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vibrant Eggs, Dyed Naturally

Vibrant Eggs, Dyed Naturally

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I got this article as an email today and I think we are going to give it a go.The boys have been wanting to do something different than the regular dyes so this should work just great. I'll post photo's when we do it.

Update: I seem to be the only person interested in this project.Yet another new era with the boys. I am currently soaking 2 eggs in a dye bath made for Red Zinger type tea.It takes over night for it to work so I will come back with photos when I can.