Friday, April 26, 2013

Old skill reinvestigated!

Quilting


I haven't quilted in many years. Life had become too busy between working and going to school for my BSN. But I have just started my quilting again and no matter what I will not put it on a shelf again. It is such a joyful process. Quilting brings a sense of peace and accomplishment. My quilts are never perfectly made. I choose to make an educated error in every single quilt I make. That way it is always unique.

Here is a baby quilt I made for my first grand baby that is due in August. A baby quilt is a good project to get back into it because it is much smaller and quicker to put together than a full sized quilt. I almost always tie baby quilts because they tend to get thrown into the washing machine frequently. This I learned when my children were small after spending hours and hours actually quilting their quilts. I do love the quilted ones better but I am using the practical side of my brain these days.

I was intending to add a border with purples that included flowers and bugs and dots but it did not look very nice, the border was too dark so I opted for a white border with abc's and then the fabric from the back for the binding. I hope this appears as a universal quilt and not too boyish, as my grand baby is going to be a little girl. I used the blues because I loved the dragonflies on it.

Yesterday I was able to pick up some really gorgeous strawberries on my way home from work and instead of making strawberry shortcake I decided to make stuffed strawberries. They did not look so great but they tasted grate. They were stuffed with a cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange liqueur filling. Maybe if I make them again, I will need to find my cake decorating tips to fill them more neatly. As you can see, I used a snipped corner on a plastic lunch bag and just jammed the filling in them. Not so pretty.
This is a simple and easy dessert. You all should try it!

Well that is all from the homestead today. Off to make some jelly.

Blessings!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Soap Making

I had made soap many years ago with the help of my youngest son. Since then I had not made anymore. Life was very busy with full time outside the home work and going to school evenings. So, needless to say many of my homestead type skills have deteriorated. I tried to make soap about 9 months ago which was not successful, the soap did not set up. I decided to take a class from Suzanne at Chickens in the Road blog. Here is her site if you want an enjoyable time reading of her adventures or sign up for classes she offers. http://chickensintheroad.com/ She set up a class per request and we made both cheese and soap. I learned how to make soap using an old crockpot, it was a wonderful easy process. It was an enjoyable afternoon. Since then I have been able to make soap again, which is such a blessing.
So now I am the proud producer of a basket full of homemade soaps. These soaps clean wonderfully. At Christmas time I made up baskets to give away and homemade soap was one of the items in the basket. I am not sure how my daughters-in-laws feel about homemade soap but this is the way we will be going on the homestead. I have them sitting in a metal basket I originally bought to gather eggs in, dumb idea. The metal basket cracked my eggs, so now it is my soap basket and is proudly displayed in our bathroom near the bath tub. Behind it you can see a bunch of store bought soap my husband bought before I started making soap again. He always grabs the homemade now. YAY!
 This is my door less bathroom. The only room completed in our homestead home even though it is door less. I want a barn door made for this room.
This room may be small but fully functional for 2 adults. When my sons and daughters finished for me I felt so overwhelmed and grateful.

Yesterday, Mr. Farmer was planting our 50 pounds of seed potatoes. A few days before he planted our broccoli and cabbage. Mr. Farmer also ran errands and bought me some basil, parsley and dill for my herb garden which I have not planted yet. If tomorrow is nice, I will be in that garden for sure.

Boy, I cannot wait until they grow enough to start using in my cooking. Especially bruchetta!

Well that the newest happenings on the homestead.

Blessings!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happenings


Here is one brave little piggy. Momma Lucille was not all that pleased with her little one coming toward me and seeing what I am all about. Lucille kept grunting at her trying to get her to listen and I kept reassuring Lucille I would not hurt her babies. I was able to take a pretty decent picture of this little girl.
 
Isn't she adorable? Yesterday I went down to the barn for my daily visit and the piglets were in a pig pile in the shade outside the barn. So Cute! They were all piled up taking a nap and the runt was on top of them all. When Lucille saw that I was coming she went over to protect her babies. This is her usual response, a very protective momma.
 
Last post I mentioned I wanted to make a wreath for my bathroom out of some vines along the road. Well I went down to take a picture. Those vines have thorns so I guess I will have to search for some other vines.
 
Friday night dinners tend to be easy dinners. We love pizza and living on the mountain there is no delivery service that we were use to having. So I learned how to make a wonderful pizza. Now bought pizza does not even compare. We would chose homemade over bought hands down.
 
Half is green pepper that we preserved from last summer and half was pepperoni and ground sausage. For the sauce I use the spaghetti sauce we canned from last summers garden. I tried making cheese once here on the homestead and it did not turn out so you can imagine that is a project I will be working on this year until I am successful. :D The crust is homemade also. Here is the basic recipe, you can switch out flour type if you want. Sometimes I make whole wheat from wheat I grind and sometimes I use white flour and other times I use half wheat and half white , which is the best.
 
Pizza Dough
 
3 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Safe yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar.
 
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar.
In large bowel add all dry ingredients together.
Mix liquids and dry ingredients.
Knead for approximately 3 minutes
Cove bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double. (approx. 40 minutes)
Punch down, form ball
Sprinkle pizza pan with cornmeal.
Place dough on pan and press out or roll out for form crust.
Let rise about 15 minutes.
Add sauce, cheese and toppings.
Bake approximately 20 minutes. I always check it at 10 minutes and it is usually done at that time.
 
 
Many Blessings on this beautiful spring day!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cookin'


I love to cook but in recent years I have lost my creativity in cooking. Even though it is springtime here on the homestead I love experimenting with new recipes. I never seem to follow a recipe exactly but make my changes as I go.

I mad a delicious Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup yesterday. I will share to basic recipe here and feel free to change it around as you feel necessary. Boy was it great served along with tomato cumumber and cabbage salad and fresh homemade dinner rolls.
It takes less than an hour to make if you  begin with leftover cokked chicken or buy alread cooked chicken.

Creamy Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
 
1 tablespoon olives oil
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart half and half
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 minced garlic gloves
2 (14 ounce) cans of chicken broth
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup cooked and diced chicken breast
1 package gnocchi, cooked
2 cups coarsly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parlesy
 
I made several substitutions due to what I had on hand and it was still wonderful.
Fiest make a rue with olive oil, butter and flour. Then I just added everything else and simmered for a brief 15 minutes while my rolls were baking. Enjoy.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring on the Homestead


It has been in the 80's and sunny the past couple days here on the Homestead. Today is another beautiful inspiring day! I haven't seen budding on my tress but yesterday I noticed buds and tiny leaves on the bushes/vines running along side of our road. If I get a chance to get down the mountain today I will take pictures of them and maybe someone can tell me what they are. I have been thinking of clipping a bunch and make a wreath for my bathroom since that is the only completed room in our home except for there is no door, just a sheet hanging to ack like a door. I want to put a barn door there.
Picture of the homestead. You can see we are starting to see some green on the ground. We do hace so much dirt that turns into very deep mud but we will deal.  Loving this mountain. You can see my clothes line to the right but I also have a clothes line in our loft since it seems to have alot of rain showers and storms on this homestead. I am not complaining just making adaptions because I refuse to get a dryer. We moved here to downsize and I am determine to continue doing just that.

I started my herb garden yesterday. Although it is in a pot instead of the herb garden. I did it this way this year because Mr. Farmer was a little too generous with the manure in my herb garden and now I will need to get some topsoil to add to it.

 
My favorite herb; rosemary. I have never killed a rosemary bush until last year. Apparently it did not like my rocky herb garden. Once I get topsoil it will be replanted in the garden where it belongs. You must know I am going to baby this herb for a long time. I have gotten an other herbs in yet but there will be more to come.
 
Spartucus is enjoying his new home and the ladies sure does seem to love him. He does crow now but it is not quite like any other crow I have experience, it sounds like a mans voice and not extremely loud. It is a wonderful voice. I have named my ladies yet, I tend not to name my hens but if anyone has any suggestions I would be open to them.
 
 

Forgive my makeshift chicken run but I had moved to the homestead about 6 months before Mr. Farmer and I had to put up the run myself and really did not figure out how to make a proper run. One day when I enlarge it, it will be more structured. I do have it so no more animals can kill my ladies.

Lucille's piglets are doing well. She had 5 females and 2 males. We have not been able to get very close to them because Lucille is one protective momma. Mr. Farmer will need to in the near future though to castrate the males. Mr. Farmer does have a wonderful farmer friend, who raises cattle that helps him when necessary. I am so grateful. This picture was taken 2 days ago. You can see the piglets are still kind of small but adorable. One is near Lucille's nose.
Well Mr. Farmer is down the mountain near the barn repairing another hog shelter. I must get busy with my spring time chores.

Blessings!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lucille's Piglets


Lucille had our first on the farm piglets last Thursday! She had extreme difficulty with the birth process but all is well on the homestead. Thank goodness for our farmer friend down the road. Mr. Farmer called him as soon as he realized Lucille was in labor. Well....it took about 5 hours for Lucille to give birth to her 7 piglets originally. She birthed the first piglet just fine but the the piglets were stuck so our farmer friend took the olive oil and helped her (went in and turned and pulled out) her other 6 piglets. Lucille was not cooperative and very mean in the beginning as I was told. But once our farmer friend was able to start helping her she calmed down. When Mr. Farmer came in at 1 am after all was said and done, I asked if she had birthed her placenta etc. He said yes. Well surprise, surprise the next morning there was another little piglet born and living. But unfortunately during the night Lucille must have accidentally laid on one and it didn't survive. So there was actually eight little piglets Lucille was carrying but seven have survived.

Lucille is one protective momma! We cannot go near her little ones at all, she get a grunting and all defenses. It is adorable how when one little piglet may start to wander she actually tells it get back here because what I observe is that little piglet get back to where Lucille want them. At night the piglets make a pig pile right next to and touching their momma. So they all bunch together and stay warm. This farmer cannot wait until I can hold and cuddle the cute little piglets. I want them to be used to human touch and interaction. Lucille does not seem to have been given much human interaction. But I have been able to scratch her head but she appears scared of me and she can be mean to Mr. Farmer. I want the batch of piglets we keep to be use to touch and care.

Well, it seems spring has sprung a little here today. The temp. is to get close to 60 and the sun is shinning although we are to have rain tonight. Here is my first evidence of spring.
 
I am not seeing any buds on the trees yet but at least we have a few beautiful daffodils blooming. Daffodils make me smile even on the gloomiest of days.
 
Finally here is my Zoey enjoying the spring day. I finally was able to get her to sit still enough to take a pretty good picture. She is 7 pounds full of vinegar. She thinks she is a much bigger dog and is not afraid of anything but Mr. Farmer. She disappears up the mountain at times and I have to yell and yell to get her back into the house. I just pray every time I let her out that there will not be any wild animals out there. She would be a 2 bite snack. A horrible thing to think but she does love to romp around and chase after rabbits. She is my little buddy.
 
 
Hope everyone has a blessed productive spring day!
 
Blessings!