Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bad Summer

So have you ever had a season go totally wrong?  We have this year.  It all started with the garden the garden that I am too embarrassed to even show you photos of.  We tried to do a huge in ground garden instead of last years boxes.  Within no time it was just a hot mess nothing was neat and orderly at all.  It became ugly to me and I didn't even want to look at it let alone work in it.  Crappy attitude right?  It totally is.  To add insult to injury some of the tomatoes that fell last year planted themselves and the entire plot has been over run by feral tomatoes.  Really I want to weed wack the whole doggone thing and be done with it for the year.  Our plans for next year are already in the blue print stage with neat orderly boxes and hoop frames so we can get an earlier start.  I think that I'm going to snag up all the green tomatoes to make into a green tomato salsa I found and then start deconstructing the garden so I can at least quit trying to avoid looking at that part of the yard for the rest of the summer.  Man what a total bummer.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yogurt Sorbet Stuff

 It has been hot here like really really hot.  I don't mind it hot is way better than cold being cold stinks.  The children and husband do not agree at all.  They have been rather miserable about the heat.
 To help cool off I made this frozen yogurt sorbet stuff.  It was pretty tasty once we added enough honey to it.  We've been making our own yogurt for a while now and that made it much more tart than expected.  Of course when my mom told me about it she was probably thinking about using sweetened vanilla yogurt to start with. 
 The blender did not work like at all.  The food processor did a great job.  Of course by the time I figured it all out the fruit was not so frozen and it was more like a shake than a mug of frozen yogurt. 
 We ran out of bowls this day, they were probably in the dishwasher.  I'm not sure how a family of four can go through bowls so fast.  Oh wait mostly it's because most foods start in a bowl like stir fry and spaghetti and stuff like that, stuff that most families probably eat off of a plate.  Jeff likes bowls better than plates for most foods.
Anyway this worked great for a quick snack for the kids and we'll be making this again I'm sure.

Frozen Yogurt

About a pint of thick yogurt
One small bag of frozen fruit
Honey to taste

Mix in the food processor until desired consistency.  Enjoy :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The 'Ineeda' Box

Okay I guess that I have become a Pinterest junky!  Never thought that would happen but wow so many people sharing things they have found and things I might have never seen otherwise.  Anyway I found this post about a box a woman made for her car.  It isn't an 'emergency' box like with jumper cables but for the everyday emergencies like runny noses.  We have been using ours for about a month or so and it has been so helpful especially when I drive for field trips.  I had to restock it after field day at the local park I don't think any of those kids left with the skin on their knees.  Now the original post has how to create a really cute outside to the box I took the super simple way out and found a cute diaper wipes container so I didn't have to dress it up.  I liked the Huggies one because it has a really sturdy hinge.  The wipes went to the kindergarten class for craft days and a few went into a ziplock for emergencies, I should have put them all in a bag for restock but didn't think I would go through them as fast as I have.  So a run down of my stuff

Ineeda Box Contents
Clorox Wipes
Vinyl Gloves
Safety Pins
Hair Bands
Headache Reliever (my kids are driving me crazy I need some now too!)
Hand Lotion
Hand Sanitizer
Band Aids
Baby Wipes
Empty Shopping Bag (for garbage, vomit whatever happens ya know?)

So what would you put in your box?  I would love to hear some ideas to make this box even better and honestly these things hold way more than it looks like they can.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pinterest Cookie Idea

Alright so I saw this nifty idea on Pinterest and decided that it was wonderful.  As many things I didn't read the directions and jumped in whole hog and it didn't go as I had planned.  
It is a very simple idea take delightful homemade cookie dough spoon into ice cube trays, freeze, then place into a freezer bag so that one always has cookie dough ready for when you need just a little something.  This sounded great one of my favorite things is to pull out the toaster oven and make just a few cookies for a treat once in a while instead of having a whole batch we don't need to eat.  
The problem was the cookies didn't slide out from their ice cube coffins with out much prompting from the butter knife.  By the time I was done coaxing the little bastards out the dough was so warm that I had to refreeze the chunks so that I could put them into a freezer bag.  It would have been so much easier to spoon out the dough straight onto the cookie sheet, frozen them and then put them into the bag.  No prying no fussing and two less things to wash.  Oh well lesson learned and I now have two ice cube trays instead of one, whoo hoo.  Oh yeah and I'm not sharing this cookie recipe with you because even that was a fiasco, how can you mess up chocolate chip cookies?!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ginger Baby!

 It's alive!!!!!  The ginger we planted here finally grew!  We noticed it late last week but I wanted to wait to share the good news until we knew for sure that it wasn't just something the squirrels planted for us.  Those squirrels......
This is something those squirrels (or chipmunks) did for us.  They "helped" us eat the lettuce we planted.  I have so many words but none of them appropriate.  They did not seem to like the dark lettuce as much as the other types because that was left until last and part of it is still there.  At least the lettuce grows back when devoured trimmed.  You can see that the plant in the front is already coming back.  

In other news we are in serious talks about adopting a Sheltland Sheepdog named Annie.  Our friend has to get rid of hers so as long as the kids don't freak when they meet her she will become a member of the family.  I hope it all works out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Gardening at School (fail)

Molly and Jack go to the most unique school in our city.  Instead of one grade per class we have multi-age classrooms and our teachers are nick named the teachers without walls because of how much time we spend out of the classroom learning.  This school is also special because they want the parents there involved in there students learning and classroom environment!  How sad that this is unique.  Two weeks ago Molly's teacher asked if I would be interested in helping the class put in a vegetable garden.  The boxes were already there from a few years ago with dirt in them.  Now if I had been smart I would have said well let me look at what we have going on first, instead I said sure I would love to!  The teacher wanted to start with seeds but I was afraid that the kids wouldn't see any progress before they left for summer break so I headed off to Meijer early the next morning to buy a flat of started veggies.  The kids and I along with another mom got the beds cleaned out.  As they pulled more and more weeds I realized we hadn't seen a single worm and although we have had rain this Spring the soil was very sand like.  Maybe if I was smart I would have said 'ya know we should wait a day and add some compost to this before planting', but the kids had seen the starters and the bucket of seeds and I just couldn't tell them 'no'.  So with great trepidation we added the plants explaining why they couldn't be grouped to close together and that they would grow large and run over each other.  I could have saved my breath because this photo is the first day we planted, it looks pretty okay.  As of Saturday the whole thing looks totally pathetic.  Most of the plants are already dead including the marigolds.  The kids are really sad and bummed out.  I was looking forward to a gardening club with them all summer and showing off how great fresh bruschetta and pico de gallo is straight from the garden!

I guess I really do need to learn how to say 'No' once in a while.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Planting Ginger

 This weekend we finally got around to trying something we've meant to do for a while now.  We planted our own ginger.  My family loves ginger in stir fries and sauces Jeff loves to eat it crystallized.  In one of my homesteading books the author states that you can grow your own ginger just bring it in for the fall and winter time.  Okay I can do that (probably anyway).  I grabbed the piece of ginger while grocery shopping about a month ago and left it sitting on the counter so it could grow some 'eyes' like potatoes have.  A bit weird looking huh?
Jeff planted it in a long shallow planter for me that the kids picked out.  It's planted about 2 inches deep.  In theory it will look a bit like bamboo when it grows and will get to be around three feet tall!  The kids are very excited to watch it grow.  I will keep you updated as to how our project goes.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

 Happy May Day everyone!

'But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother,
I'm to be Queen o' the May.'
-  Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Out with the old in with the new

 It is so nice to finally have some stuff going on around the homestead that I can share with you guys :)  Last week Jeff finally decided that the Pine Tree in the front yard needed to come down.  I've been asking for a few years for fruit trees but he was reluctant about it.  I'm not sure what changed his mind but one day at TSC we saw the trees and he said grab them, who am I to argue with the man! 
 This little guy is a golden delicious which is Jack's favorite.  They didn't have many varieties unfortunately.
 And this is a red delicious that is Molly's favorite.  They will cross pollinate with each other I guess and so there will be apples.  I'm still reading up on the whole deal but I know we have a few years before apples appear. 
As you can see from the top photo Jeff decided to take the tree down by hand axe to see if he could do it.  He did rather successfully (albeit to the wonder of many neighbors who offered us their chainsaws).  If you look at this post you can get an idea of the tree a bit.  It was large in the middle of the yard and really blocked the house a lot.  We left the stump on purpose, Jeff has an art project in mind for it.  Since I got my new trees finally I can't say anything about his art.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Time

 I can't believe that it's the first day of Spring already!!!  Here in Michigan today is a freakish 80 degrees out side.  I'm not really complaining but I am wondering if the other shoe is going to drop. 
 A while ago I bought some Florida strawberries from the farmer's market.   They were a use it or loose it type of deal so I wanted to see what would happen if they got put into the dehydrator.  I thought that ... well actually I didn't have a clue what to expect.
This is what they looked like after several hours in the dehydrator (and my house smelled like strawberry cake for some reason).  The taste was outstanding!  Almost like a slice of candy, so sweet and delicious.  I can't wait til strawberry season and try to make more of these.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dry Beans

     Today I decided that I wanted to try something new, something that I think can only help us as a family.  We (I) are going to learn how to cook with dried beans.  It doesn't probably seem like a Earth shattering decision but as stupid as it may seem I have never cooked beans that didn't start in a can (except green beans).  Molly has been home sick the last two days and we have been watching Doomsday Preppers from NatGeo.  It has become an addiction.  The first thing we realized is that while we talk about prepping we aren't really doing anything and that has to stop.  So today while grocery shopping we made sure to get extra gallons of water, a small first aid kit and shelf stable dried beans.  If you have any tips or great recipes I would love to hear them :)  On the table is pinto, light red kidney, small red beans, and adzuki beans.  The ones in the clear containers are from a local source that will also be used for planting this weekend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


 This post was supposed to go up last Tuesday but we had an emergency.  Jeff came home from work early with chest pain and was afraid it was a heart attack.  We spent the day in the emergency room and then in cardiac observation.  We were so lucky it wasn't his heart, they told us his heart was in tiptop shape and the doctor told him to get out and start hitting the gym whenever he was ready.  The culprit was inflamed cartilage from having a cold a few weeks back.  I'm so grateful for something so minor (painful still but minor).  Jeff was very grateful for the Homemade Granola bars that I had made the day before.  He couldn't eat them before the stress test but he gobbled them up afterwards. 
    This treat came from watching Pioneer Woman on Food Network with Jack this weekend.  I was honestly hoping for a cereal bar type knock off.  This isn't it by any means but it is very delicious and everyone enjoyed eating it up.  The recipe is Strawberry Oatmeal Bars here at the Food Network site.  We had some homemade CherryBerry Jam down in the basement and used that instead of the Strawberry she used.  I would definitely make these again but they weren't quite what I was looking for so I guess I'll start experimenting to see what I can come up with. 
  Have a great week I'm off to the hardware store to get some taps for the Maple Trees wish me luck! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

All About Oats Today

 Today was all about oats at our house.  Well oats and laundry we always seem to have laundry to do here.  I've been trying really hard to buy fewer and fewer convenience products that I can simply make myself rather simply.  Granola bars are one of those items that my family loves but they are fairly expensive and really not all that good for you if you buy most major brands.  The other problem is that my daughter can't eat most granola bars in her classroom because they contain nuts of some sort.  So I found a recipe for a simple nut free granola on SparkRecipes.com it was very simple to make and oh my gosh delicious.  The only thing I would say is don't be in a total rush to get them out of the pan, cut them in the pan instead of trying to flip it over on to a cutting board.  The pieces were delicious but they aren't as pretty or as uniform as I would have liked.  Guess I need to get a second 9X13 so I don't have to rush to clean the one I have for the next project.  Speaking of which that was also an oat project but that is still cooling in the pan where it belongs so I've got a bit longer before I can share that one. 
 Sooooooo gooood!  I think next time I'm going to try dried cherries and apricots.

Homemade Nut-Free Granola Bars

Submitted by: BLSCT123

Easy to make granola bars that even my picky-eater loved!
Number of Servings: 14


    2 cups rolled oats
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup wheat germ
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup honey
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 cup oil (veggie or canola)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins (or other dried fruit) and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well with wooden spoon or your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden brown at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes then cut into bars while still warm. DO NOT ALLOW THE BARS TO COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE CUTTING or they will be too hard to cut.

Makes 14 - 2 inch by 4 inch pieces.

Submitted to:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thinking of Spring

This has been the most bizarre winter I can ever remember!  As I type this at almost 4 o'clock it is 54 degrees outside.  That is just so weird to have such warm weather here.  It seems almost strange to think of Spring as just around the corner when it feels like Winter hasn't even really started yet.  But Spring isn't too far off at all so it is time to start making plans for the new planting season.  We had some great success last year with some of our plants like the broccoli and others just didn't do as well like our peppers.  I'm quite anxious to get the seed catalogs opened and start getting the kids idea of what they would like to grow and of course EAT! this coming summer.  Hopefully we can add some new foods and buy a little less at the stores than we did last year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

 Every year the kids and I celebrate Chinese New Year.  Not because we have any Asian heritage but because this time of the year we need something to brighten up the dark days.  Our celebrations started in 2006 when Jeff spent three months out of town and the kids and I were completely lonely and stir crazy. 
If you haven't ever celebrated Chinese New Year it isn't too late the true celebration lasts about 15 days.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia information.  This is one of my favorite websites to use for our yearly crafts.  Molly and Jack got really lucky this year because I found Ni Hao Kai-lan crafts on clearance at Micheal's. 
What do you celebrate that maybe others don't? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Baby

Okay I'm not having a baby but my brother and sister-in-law had a baby earlier this month.  He is just the cutest little nugget ever!  Well most babies are though aren't they?  As the auntie I made him a set of mitts and a hat.  I so with that I had known how to knit before my babies were born, although Jeff did point out that before our babies were born we wouldn't have been able to afford the yarn or the needles anyway!  He is totally right to.  At least now I can do cute stuff for other peoples babies. Well and a few things for my not so little ones :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Update on the laundry soap

 (a cute photo that has nothing to do with this post)

     I was looking back at some of our older posts and saw that we have been making our own laundry soap for over a year now!  I can't believe how natural it has become to just do it ourselves (okay by that I mean Jeff makes it and I use it).  I think that I've only bought two small containers of commercial laundry soap since we started using our own.  We still have some of the Borax left but after nine months we did have to buy more Washing Soda.  It is unbelievable that the supplies have lasted so long because believe me we do a lot of laundry here it seems.  The whole family has been so happy with the way the soap cleans everything and it doesn't leave that overpowering laundry soap smell like most commercial kinds do.  We even have several of our friends making there own soap now too!  Jeff's next project is to make a second batch so we always have one in use and one on hand just so that we don't have that 'oh my gosh I'm out of soap and I have to get this washed now!' thing going on.  If you didn't see our first post about it you can check it out here.  Let me know if you make your own and if you do anything different I'm always up to trying something new.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Felted Nesting Bowls

Free Pattern: Felted Nesting Bowls

     I need a little bit of a brain break. All the Christmas knitting got finished in time even a last minute day before gift. I want to try something a little fun just because. When going through my yarn stash I have a few colors were there isn't much left over so I found these adorable felted bowls and decided that I had to try them. They are so quick to knit up and the felting helps cover up any minor oops that you might make. This pattern is free and if you are so inclined it is a great way to use up some of your very small left over scraps.
     I love the red of this bowl so much, it is actually made of the left over yarn from my Harry Potter knitting.  We are saving change in it to buy ourselves a clothes line.  The kids are enjoying watching the money accumulate and have each asked for their own change bowl :)