Saturday, November 22, 2008

Green your Fridge!

Sure, one "easy" way to do this would be to run out and buy a nice Energy Star fridge, but for most of us buying a brand new fridge just because we'd like to be a little bit greener isn't an option that we can just run out and do. And, if you don't own your place, you're not very likely to go out and buy new appliances, regardless of your financial situation. So, what's a Greenie to do? Make your current fridge run more efficiently by storing your leftovers in glass or metal containers instead of plastic! These are our leftovers from tonight's quesadilla dinner (check out for some yummy info about that meal!). Glass and metal containers will absorb the cold temperatures of your fridge, becoming cold themselves, and therby helping your fridge maintain a cold temperature without having to run as hard!
Here's a snapshot of our fridge. Left-Right: jelly jar of homemade apple butter, quart jar (white lid) of raw cream ~ great in hot cocoa & coffee, (top) leftovers of beans & corn for quesadillas, (bottom) leftover venison roast in sauce, and finally, in re-used Homestead Creamery jar: homemade "conditioner". And just because I know you will ask: yes, conditioner as in for your hair: it's a mixture of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and chamomile & lavender tea. We keep all of our milk in half-gallon glass jars as well.
You can find some inexpensive glass containers by haunting yard-sales, antique malls, and even ebay. Or, your parents' & grandparents' cupboards!! Pyrex containers are fantastic finds. I was lucky enough to start my collection with a little help from Mom and my Grandfather. The containers stack as well as plastic, don't leach like plastics, and can safely go in the microwave. Newer models come with plastic lids so please be careful about those.

*~*~* And a quick chicken update: My birthday was Nov. 19th and Justin took the day off. We took advantage of the daylight and moved the coop back up to the back of the house, so that the chickens can winter there and catch more of the sunlight. LadyBird (I'm guessing it was her at least) apparently really is a "lady" and immediately ran into the coop and laid me an egg. So, I got an egg for my birthday! She didn't lay the next day, but has laid both yesterday and today. Now, if only the 5 other silly chickens will start laying. But, at least we have one laying again!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Frustrated Baker = Happy Chickens

Lately I've been having bad "bread luck." I think it may be a seasonal thing, as I seem to remember going through a bad bread phase last year. Either way, my bread loaves just aren't coming out right lately. I've even cheated and tried to let the bread machine just do all the damn work for me, but it comes out even worse.
So, I moved the Sourdough Starter yesterday to a new location in the kitchen, and then started a new loaf of bread today. Dough was a little too moist, so I added so extra flour before baking. Let it rise, and it rose fairly well. Got it to baking. Checked it when the timer went off and noticed the sides were still a little light (I use a glass baking loaf pan), so I put it back in.
Then, I made my great mistake and started thinking: wouldn't it be nice to leave the sides a little lighter this time?? Maybe if I did so the bread would taste a little better this time.
NOPE - all I got was bread that was doughy in the center and just not all the way done!! Luckily Tristan, my two-year old, loves bread and doesn't really care how well-done or under-done it is. So, he got to have several bites of freshly baked 1/2 done bread (he got parts that were done).
Even luckier - the chickens apparently LOVE fresh-baked, or 1/2 baked, bread! I took it out to them about 7:30pm. The 6 of them were all huddled together in the nest box, but eagerly ran out to gobble up the crumbs as I rubbed them through the wire on the tractor for them. The dogs even got a couple bites, as I couldn't deny them while they say there looking pitifully at me. The chickens also got a dish full of traditional buttermilk today with leftover tostito-chips, pretzels, and celery in it (they're chickens, they don't care).
Now if only they would start laying eggs again. They haven't laid eggs in over a week now!! They're getting treats daily, so they better start back up again soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot" - from 'V for Vendetta.'
It was with a huge sigh of relief that I woke up this morning. We were 110% for Obama and equally afraid of what would happen should McCain get elected. Palin especially scared us. When we went to bed Monday evening I turned to Justin and told him how I was really nervous about the election. We had recently watched 'V for Vendetta' and I was struck by the similarities of it and our current state. We decided if McCain got elected we would shave our heads. A sign that, as terrified as we were of what could/would come to pass under a McCain administration that we would face the future unafraid and more determined than ever to continue living along the path we've been living. I also found it ironic that the day after the election would be (and obviously is) Nov. 5th!
The boys insisted on going with me to vote yesterday. I explained to them who the President is and what he does. To make it understandable for a 4 1/2 year old (and a 2 year old) I told them that the President is like the "daddy" of our country. Shannon helped me cast my ballots while Tristan watched. We all got "I Voted" stickers, and Shannon is still wearing his!
I'm proud my children have gotten to be part of such a historic election. Shannon wanted to go vote again today, and when I told him it was over he asked me "well, what about Obama?" I thought that was really cute. I am proud that we were all able to see the first non-white-male elected as President of the United States. I hope they can one day look back on this and remember it, even if only just a small, fleeting memory.

Monday, November 3, 2008


For those of you who haven't noticed, I've started another blog online dedicated just for recipes. I was inspired when I saw other bloggers doing this, and well, personally speaking, some of the best recipes I've ever found have come via the Internet, and so I thought I would add some of my own out there as well. At all times I will try to give proper documentation as to where the recipe came from if it isn't one of my own personal ones. I also, very much, encourage feed-back on the recipes. This is how good recipes become great! If you scroll down the right-hand side of the blog you will find a direct link, but you may also click here: ~ Again, I very much look forward to hearing from you, as I always do on here as well!
Happy Cooking!


Sometimes I am hesitant about how personal I want to be on here. While I believe there are some things a family, or just a person, best ought to keep to themselves, I also believe we have utterly lost the knowledge of how to be a thriving a functioning community or village. Locally it rarely exists. Online it is beginning to come back.
October was a really rough month for us, as I am certain it was for most of the country given the current economic troubles. I will begin with I know how blessed we are for the things we have and we are TRULY grateful for them. But, you can be as grateful as you want and that doesn't make times any less tough sometimes. November is shaping up to be the same way, and I am sure with the holidays coming that December will be rough as well. We're luckier than many, and we know that, but it is still rough.
We are eagerly awaiting the results of the election tomorrow. No matter which way it goes it will be historic. We're VERY much supporting Obama & Biden and VERY, VERY much against McCain and Palin. We don't see ourselves as Democrats but more as independent thinkers who look at the pros and cons and make our choices from there, without looking at party tickets so much.
I keep seeing these commercials about Obama wanting to raise taxes and it bothers me since one of his core messages is lowering taxes for those who don't make a lot of money, and pretty much taking away tax cuts for those who do (so they would be back to where they were under Reagan). I see Obama saying what he wants to do and seemingly with a very detailed plan. I haven't seen that from McCain. I have gone to both of their respective websites to research their stances on subjects that matter to me, to hear it in their own words. And based upon that, we are very scared of what is going to happen should McCain get elected. We plan to make a stand should that occur, a definitive stand to continue with greater energy and dedication to they way we've been living our lives and trying to live.
So, what has my revelation of late been? It has been how I've watched the people who have the least to give be the most willing to give. Be the first to help out. We've been very blessed with help from my family in the last week.
The chickens have all recovered from the attack, and seem to have actually bonded nicely because of it (a silver lining) ~ but it was the help from my Mom and Step-Dad that allowed us to get the supplies to fix the tractor to try and help prevent another attack. We were blessed that someone was willing to "share" a deer with us this year; my mom, knowing we couldn't afford it right now gave it to me as a early birthday present. And today, my Dad has offered to give me another early birthday present to help afford the pork I have to pick up this afternoon. (Long story short: we ordered "extra" pork this year because we didn't get any deer last year, and so this year is turning out to be a wonderful example of Murphy's Law). The people we are picking up the pork from have agreed to let us pay what we can now and the rest by the end of the month. We will certainly never cease doing business with them. It is without their help and giudance that we would've even been able to make the leap for organic meat, and it is with their help and understanding that we're able to continue to do so.
My father also saved for us his bags of leaves from his maple tree. It was several VERY full 55 gallon bags. We've used them as bedding in the coop for the biddies and also to give the garden a nice covering. This helps let us put off getting some more straw until we can afford it a little easier. One man's burden is another's treasure at it's finest.
Justin and I have talked about the things I do: baking goods, canning things, and making soaps and shampoos, along with postcards & other things I do with my photography, and I've told him I would like to be set-up enough to be able to sell some of these things at the local Farmer's Market by next Spring. Hopefully that will help us out some as well.
People talk, well commercials talk, about what each candidate represents. I believe in Obama and his sincerity in wanting to help the middle class out. I believe in McCain's desire to keep helping those who really don't need it. Those are things I believe, but here are the things I know: that some of the kindest and most sincere people I've ever met have been members of the middle or lower-middle class. That those without great monetary worth have so much more worth and generosity within and about them. That the amount of money you make doesn't equate to the kindness in your heart. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, this is what I do know.
We, these people, DO work hard. And we appreciate the things we have even more so because of the difficulites it takes in getting them. Because of the physical labor it takes to produce something. Because we know how close we are, as well as those we care about and those like us are to being without and losing everything. I resent the notion that we (those who are liberal or who will vote Democratic, and so on) aren't hard workers. We are. We are the backbone of this country, and it is a strong backbone. And I am grateful for everyone who is part of that with us.