Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Maybe some day we'll carve a new pumpkin so y'all don't have to see the same pumpkin year after year! But we really did like this one. =)

Friday, October 30, 2009

It doesn't get any more fun than this...

When I left off the big dig post, three weeks ago, I was still digging the pathway up the hill. Since Jeremy finished the electrical and we've moved on to other yard projects (more to come on that), I kept on digging that pathway.

Yesterday Jeremy started helping because it was just taking too long and we wanted to get started on the next step

It was very nice of him to help because it rained all day. It felt like hours, squelching and squishing and slogging and slipping through the mud. I had so much mud stuck to my shoes I couldn't get any traction and the shovels made a very funny sound as we shoveled into the totally saturated ground. (A sound so weird, I can't even spell what it sounded like.) By the end, we were covered with mud from head to foot and soaked wet through all our layers. It was fun. =)

But we got it done!

Then at about 9 or 10 this morning we had a load of gravel dropped behind our fence.

We laid down some landscape cloth, our friend Rich came over, and we started dumping the gravel into the path.

All done!

Actually, not really. That was just the big gravel. After that we put on the pea gravel layer. And that went quick!

Jeremy and Rich shoveled gravel into the wheelbarrow and one or the other of them brought loads over and dumped them, then I raked them out. The whole thing took less than 4 hours. The weather was great too: mostly clear skies, mid-50s, just a little breeze. It was beautiful.

We came out after lunch to lay brick, but it had suddenly turned cold, cloudy, and rainy! We laid a few and then decided to get hot drinks and relax for the rest of the day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


We got this garlic in the mail several weeks ago (or months?) from Seed Savers Exchange. It's organic Purple Chrysalis garlic. I don't know anything about the size or taste; Jeremy ordered it.

Nestled in their two-inch holes...

...and covered over with several inches of dirt, compost, leaves, and hay. I hope they come up next spring! I'm really looking forward to the "scapes" (the stems that come up). They are so tasty!

It sure was nice to plant something in our new garden beds!

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm a little obsessed with fabric these days. Not just buying it willy-nilly; but getting good deals on useable stuff. I've been checking out Craigslist for people selling fabric and have managed to find some good sales.

At the first one last month, I scored about 25 yards of fabric (including a ton of nice wool), needles, buttons, elastic, zippers, and some books for an incredible price. I'm still amazed.

I went to a 'quilters garage sale' today and picked up about 14 yards of fabric and some books for a good price. Lots of good stuff in here!

I'm still sewing for folks around here. The latest big project was a new cover for the family's red, red, red couch:


Unfortunately my machine was acting up so it's in the shop for fixing. I went crazy for a few days. I need to sew! I need to sew! So I cut things out instead, in preparation, including all 1,100 pieces for our quilt.

I cut out some other things, and then dug out my old machine (which detests having to sew anything) and have been sewing away. But I can't show any pictures because it's almost Christmas and gifts is about all I'm working on now. So you'll just have to be patient and wait till next year!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Electrical work around here is stalled and also stalling us.

Upstairs, it is stalled (while we work on other projects).
I always have to tell people as they're going up the steps, these wires aren't live!

I think most of the electrical upstairs ia actually done. Here's a shot of what most of the walls look like: wires running everywhere and coming out of these electrical boxes which will someday be lightswitches, plug-ins, and light fixtures.

There is also some of the original wiring in there which we'll be getting rid of - but we need it now because it's the only thing hooked up in the attic!

All the wires run through the walls and floor and come out here, in the future closet. They'll all be hooking into a junction box. But that wall isn't built yet, so everything languishes on the floor...

Why? Because outside we've been running more electrical (and that is what has been stalling us). Under the pathway I dug outside Jeremy dug a deep trench from the house to the garage and laid this pipe. It took several days to get the wires run - there was one spot where they just did not want to push through. But, with the help of an electrician friend, we finally got it through.

On the other side of that wall is the new sub-panel Jeremy put in that will serve the garage. It will be so nice to have more than one plug-in out there!

And, while we're at it, we're running some electrical to the chicken coop so we don't have to have an extension cord coming out the back window for the rest of the winter. I'm hoping that will be done in a couple days so we can finally close that back window!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chickens of the Night

As the days started getting shorter we started getting fewer eggs. Chickens need about 12 hours of light a day in order to lay eggs. Some people just deal with fewer eggs in the winter and others supplement with light. We are suplementing of course.

We have a light on a timer so it turns on about 6am and stays on a couple hours till the sun comes up; then it turns on around 6pm and stays on till 10pm. During the darkest part of winter the light will probably have to come on around 4!

It's fun to look out in the back yard, where it is pitch black, and see a square of light coming down from the coop. For the first couple days the girls went to bed as soon as it got dark out, even though their light was on. After awhile they began to brave the night life. So now we look out into the pitch black yard and see a couple chickens scrathcing around in the run. Living so dangerously!

This is kind of how dark it is, but you can see the chickens better than this. My camera just isn't good enough (or I don't know how to fix the settings).

Here they are!

Here's the inside of the coop with some of them trying to sleep and others hanging out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a good beet recipe

I say this because I don't like beets. They taste like dirt. But, I do like this recipe!

Borscht (modified a tiny bit from Saveur Magazine)

Thinly slice one large yellow onion and throw it in a pan with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. Cover and cook the onions, on low heat, for about 10 minutes.

While that's cooking, grate a mountain of carrots (about 2 medium)...

...a mountain of beets (about 2 large)...

...and a mountain of white cabbage (although this is more of a foothill because we ran out of cabbage, and it's more shredded and chopped than grated - you need about 4 cups)...

When the onions are done, throw in the carrots, beets and cabbage, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

While that's cooking, grate a mountain of potatoes (about two). Set these aside. The recipe calls for grating these and then boiling them in 8 cups of water. Instead, we boiled them whole then peeled them and grated the cooled down potatoes.

The recipe calls for putting the potato water in the pot for the "broth" but that's just not rich enough so we used our own homemade chicken broth (which we had to thaw out first).

Next, add 1 tablespoon tomato paste (we used our own homemade!), 1 tablespoon sugar (I used honey), and one tablespoon white wine vinegar to the vegetables and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves.

At this point you throw in the potatoes and the broth (or the potato water if you prefer that; 6-8 cups either way, depending on how soupy you like it) and simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, you can chop up 3 tablespoons each of fresh dill, parsley, and chives. The chives at least we got from our garden. No dill or parsely this year.

Toss in the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with more herbs if you like, minced garlic if you like, a dollop of sour cream and some fresh, homemade bread. Mmmmm!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perfect winter activities

Bread-making is one activity which just seems perfect for a cold winter day. Stirring and kneading the dough gets you all warmed up. You can do other things while the bread is rising. (I'm a big fan of doing other things - dishes, blogging, reading, sewing, whatever! - while food is taking care of itself.) The warmth of the oven is of course glorious. Finally, the smell of baking bread wafting through the house makes the house feel so cozy and warm and inviting, especially in contrast to blustery, cold, snowy conditions outside.

Here is the bread I made yesterday afternoon while it snowed and snowed and snowed:

90 minutes later:

Punched down and divided into two pans to rise again:

30 minutes later, risen and ready for the oven:

30 minutes later, Jeremy has already had a steamy hot slice (with a thick slab of butter of course)!

Monday, October 12, 2009

More snow!

Here's the view we woke up to this morning:

I'm not sure how much is out there, probably an inch or two, and they're expecting anywhere from 1 to 4 inches more! It's a weird winter wonderland.


September was a month of preserving for us. At least, we probably presevered more in September than other months this year. In addition to the apples, we also took care of some tomatoes, beets, zuchhini, and peppers.

We had a lot of tomatoes between our neighbors, CSA, community garden, and who knows where else. Tis the season!

We didn't quite have enough so I picked another pound or two of cherry tomatoes from our neighbor. Here is a picture of me picking cherry tomatoes from the one tomato plant in the corner of his yard. He said we could pick whatever we could reach. Luckily I can fit my hands through the chain link fence.

(yes, I am in there!)

It takes a lot of tomatoes and a lot of boiling - and this is all we got! But Jeremy loves this stuff and it will probably last him most of the year.

Next we dealt with a ton of beets. We boiled them till they were soft (leaving the roots and tops on, which preserves the color), then I peeled them and grated them, measured them out in cup increments, and into the freezer they went! We have two excellent beet recipes (this coming from a person who hates beets!) so I'll have to share those when we dig these out during the winter.

No sooner were those done then I moved onto zuchhini. I believe we grated these then parboiled them for just a short bit before freezing them. Many vegetables have to be parboiled or cooked somehow before freezing because there is some enzyme in them that is not stopped by freezing. Apparently it will keep working and the veggies won't be as good. I can't recall the details but will post all about it (if anyone is interested) when I find out.

And then we bought a large box of peppers from our friends at Loon Organics.

We sliced and cored and cleaned all 20+ pounds then Jeremy roasted them in the oven. We peeled off the skins and tossed them in the freezer. So now we'll have roasted peppers any time we like. We did a couple peppers last year and found we really liked them and wished we done more. Hopefully 20 pounds is enough. =)