Thursday, December 31, 2009

Critter Introductions- Copper

Meet Copper. He's a purebreed Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie for short. His owner couldn't take care of him anymore so my dad's friend took him in since his owner was his wife's aunt. Well, my dad's friend was going on vacation they farms their other shelties out to their children so we ended up with him for two weeks. Just a few months before our lab mix passed away and we had been wanting another dog. He got along with Max so well we got to keep him. He was quite at first but he found his voice and barks at everything! Birds, people, anything. He's a smart dog though, barking at the front door during feeding time so Max comes running to see what's going on. In the mean time Copper steals Max's food.
I feel bad for him. He has the natural instict to herd and work but he doesn't have the chance to do it. Maybe this summer I'll get him to help me in the garden.
His favorite things are cat poop, barking at the outside cats, 'cookies', and kisses. One of his absolute dislikes is being brushed. This is a picture of him after he is groomed.

Smell That?

I'm weird. I have this thing with that farm smell. Yes, I'm talking about that cattle manure, chicken poop, sprinkled with desiel smell. I almost died and went to heaven today when I good looking guy came into my work smelling like it. It must be that it takes me back to when my brother worked on a local dairy farm and I use to go around and look at everything. And fresh milk! Oh the taste! We got my most favorite cat there. I sort of stole one of their farm cats. My black lab/golden reteiver mix was from that farm. There as just so many memories bundled up in that smell.
The guy made me want to hug him or steal is sweat shirt.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Critter Introductions- Max

My life revolves around pets. I could not stand being without an animal. Some animals that have owned me are turtles, cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, rats, and fish.
Currently I live alongside of two dogs and six cats. I'd like to introduce you to everyone.
This is Max whom we affectionately call Maxwell when he's being extra adorable. We got him from a dog boarding kennel that my mom, sister, and I worked at. Sadly in the beginning of his life, Max as a stray and spent time in a animal shelter before someone adopted him. The old lady that adopted him use to board him and her other dogs at the kennel. Before she passed on she asked us to take Max. We gladly accepted. He made himself a true prince here. His passions are squeaky toys, his two layered bed, and cat poop. As for his breed he's in the category with all the other mysteries such as Gonzo, a Whatever.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nifty Knitting Needle Roll-Up Case

So I had ran into a problem with my knitting needles. They were all over my room and I had no way of keeping track of all of them. Fed up with the mess I looked in the store and online for a suitable case. A decent case cost about $50 and the cheaper ones where too small. Finally, I decieded to make my own!
Click here for the instructions.
I thought that some of the instructions where hard to understand but it was easy to find away that worked. On mine, there are 17 needle slots ranging from 3/4" to 2" and a pocket big enough to store my circular needles and odds and ends such as stitch markers and tapestery needles.

28" x 26" cover fabric
28" x 18" lining fabric
1 yard coordinating ribbon cut in half

I suggest having your fabric store cut you the longest side, 28", because you will have enough to make a matching knitting bag. I'll show you have in another post. I believe it took me about two hours to make but I'm pretty inexperiance with the sewing machine.

Merry Christmas!

I was thankful that I only had to work until four yesterday. Knowing that if I stopped at the grocery store after work it would be a zoo, I stopped in before work to pick up a couple of things. Well, my debit card wouldn't go through, which is strange, so I stopped back after work and got what I needed. I'm sparing you the unpleasant details of this story which caused me to be 10 minutes late to work.
When I got home I rallied to get the last two of my nephew's bibs sewn (I made mine without the pockets), I'll show pictures of him in one later. I also made a nice knitting needle roll up case which I'm very proud of. I'm thinking about opening an etsy shop to sell some odds and ends things that I make. I'm really learning to put quality effort into the things that I make. The pockets in the case are actually straight! I have some left over fabric that I'll make a matching bag with. What knitter wouldn't want one? It only cost me $4.18! It's not 100% finished yet. I need a little bit more ribbon that I thought I needed.
I'm not done with making presents yet. I still have my two Cold Antler Forum people to send a gift to. I'm thinking aprons, soap, and dish cloths.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Handmade Christmas-Part 4 Knitted Dish Cloths

There's less than a week until Christmas but you haven't found or made one last thing for the people you are giving to. No problem. Make them dish/wash cloths! They're easy, cost little, and are fun to make. I have tired to make up my own pattern but they weren't very uniform and looked sort of messy. It wasn't until Burbs and the Bees posted about making dishcloths for herself that I found the patteren I like.
You'll have to sign up for the website but it's worth the few minutes that it take. This site has literly thousands of patterns. Not all are free but the ones that aren't free are a reasonable price.
For some reason my dish cloths didn't knit up as big as the pattern shows. I'm using a size 7 needle so maybe if I go up a needle size it would work.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009...Opps!

Where has fall gone? I guess this has been at the back of my mind lately. I've read a few books, not as many as I would have wished but some. I want to try to crank out another one by Monday. I'll probably choose a fast pace Dan Brown. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


It's been in the 30s the past few days, which actually it rather nice. I like being cold and able to throw on more clothes than be hot and trying to take off clothes. You can only go so far. The down side of it all is that I get into my car and I have to wear gloves, and a hat until I travel about five minutes. I would warm the car up but the gas that it wastes makes me cringe.
Yesterday, I went to a huge thrift store and bought two pairs of knitting needles for $1.5o each! I'm very picking about my needles and I prefer one brand, Boyle. I don't know why. I guess it has the sterotypical feel about it that feels so right. I mean, the ones with plastic on the top do not feel as good. At a$1.50 a pair it no longer makes sense to purchase new ones for twice as much. Besides, if they lasted through one person they can last through another.
So, lately I've been hearing hyp about a snow storm heading my way. I honestly did not know about it today. I'm more of a day to day person anyway, unless I wanted to do something outside that day. It's funny how people lose their minds of snow storms. Honesty, if you live where it snows then why do you wait until the last minute to buy a snow shovel and ice melt. The busiest time during the winter at the hardware store is when it's going to snow, and it's not all shovels and ice melt. Weird.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Number 4

Well, I'm up to four layers on the bed. A knit blanket, a felt blanket, a comforter, and a crochet blanket. I have turned the heat on but it was mainly the little space heater for a few minutes with the door closed. I'm thinking about making bed warmers with rice and fabric, one for me and one for my one dog.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Handmade Christmas-Part 3 Hats

What person wouldn't want to a nicely knit hat for Christmas and who wouldn't want to make one! I still consider myself and beginner at knitting but I'm finding myself looking more into the easy level. What couldn't be more easy and pratical then a knit beanie?
The Lion brand yarn has a really nice website that has tons of crochet and knitting intructions. After I picked out the yarn I wanted to use, Jiffy, I found this hat to knit from their website. If you already haven't, sign up to view the patterns.
One could probably knit this up in one day if they are not distrubed and knit a little bit faster then me. I estimate that it took me about 6-8 hours to make and cost me $3 for the yarn, which there is plenty left for another hat. This makes a pretty big hat so switching to size 7 needles or just casting on 80 stiches instead of the 100, as recommended by the reviewers, should give you a better size.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Handmade Christmas-Part 2 Cards

Making your own Christmas cards may sound like something hard to do but it really isn't! And it's not at all expensive. For the simple ones I made it cost be about 50 cents each.
Festive scrap booking paper
Pre-folded cards with envolpes
Computer paper
Exacto knife/ultility knife

For the cards that I made I traced the card out on the wrong side of the scrapbook paper. Cut it out then measure 1.5 cm away from edge all the way around. Cut out the rectangle you made with your excato knife. Glue border onto the front of the card and the other regtangle in the inside of the card to the right. Take your stamp, whatever one you decided to use, ink it and stamp the front of you card inside the border. On the computer paper write your message. Cut your message out and glue it on. Ta da!
If you want, you can take card stock paper and fold it to make your own cards.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Novel Idea

I'm giving my novel a rest before I start to edit it. Everyday different ideas that I want to do cross my mind. One thing remainds clear, I need to put more farm into the book. Right now, it's just jello, you can move it but it stays the same. I can't wait to take the wrecking ball to it. so far, I plan on scrapping the beginning and rewriting it so that it will go to a different tune. In other words, write out the grandmother that was suppose to bring her to the land and make it a different reason why on earth she'd want to move. Most of it I'll keep the same but details such as learning to cook will become more troublesome amoung other things. She'll still have the face down with the rooster but it'll be a little different.
I'm dreading editing the thing. No one said it was going to be easy. Writing the first draft was the easy part.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New York's smallest apartment

Recently I've been wanting a nice small house with enough room for me and some animals. This New York couple got it smaller! Their apartment is only 175 square feet!

A Handmade Christmas-Part 1 Soap

This is the first post in an installment of posts that will feature handmade Christmas/Holiday presents. I love being fugal and giving more for less these are some ways that I found how to do just that, while also being eco-friendly.

It can be intemidating but it shouldn't be. The easiest way to make soap is to do the melt 'n' pour method. I bought a brick of melt 'n' pour soap at Michaels for about $7 with a coupon then the scent for about $3. You don't have to buy the molds because you could always use containers and cookie cutters. After it cools in the mold you can get creative with the packaging.
I reused a paper bag crunched it up and made a little tag noting the scent. Then I wrapped it in the paper bag, slipped the card on top and tied it up with a ribbon.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Romancing the Fiddle

Back in September, I rented a violin so I could fiddle. The rent was reasonable, $52 for 4 1/2 months plus a damage waiver. At the music store I was presented with a cheap Yamaha violin made in China. It was a disapointment but it would serve. I bought a book to learn with and got through a few lessons until I noticed that the violin did not sound right so I stopped playing until I got to the music store.
Meanwhile, my account was never charged for the rental. Last month they sent me a notice saying that my card was declined. It took them two months to find this out. Okay, not problem. The next day I get another notice saying that they were going to send it to a collection agency. That day I faxed them my card number and said to correct my last name. How does one get "Blanc" out of "Bouc"? Anyway, my account was still not charged. Friday, I went to the music store and complained. The owner, bless her soul, called her rep. I get home and there's a letter from the collection agency saying that I know owe $15 on top of the $52. I immediatly called the music store and she said that they'll get things smoothed over. Today, I go to check my online back accounts and found that they took the $52 plus the $15 out. So why was I charged and extra $15 when I sent the corrected card information to them before I got the notice that they were going to charge me $15?
In other fiddling news, I found a fiddle teacher! The owner at the music store gave me a rough estimate of $45 a month....for a once a month lesson. I'll have to check again with her but I might do it anyway.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


It's done. Okay my story is not yet finished by National Novel Writting Month 2009 is over. And I'm a winner! It's 50,000 words of hopefully okay writing. I still have editting ahead of me and I have yet to write the ending. I have to admit, I really didn't think I could do it. The exciting thing is that one of the prizes this year is to get a proof copy of your novel.
Now that it is over I have time to plan the garden. I definatly want to be on the game when spring comes. This year I need to scale it down and not let my dad do anything. He's the reason why it didn't work out as well last year.
So, that's it for now. I hope to post more recipes and ideas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lemon Spritzer

At my high school's Oktoberfest they make this yummy drink with club soda, apple juice, and pineapple juice. It's fantastic. Well, I'm trying to quit soda, that is high fuctosified soda. Therefore I'm making my own. I want to make root beer but I need to find the supplies first. Until then it's lemon spritzers! At least that's what I call it.
First, I start with my no fail lemonade recipes 1 cup sugar, 1 cup lemon juice, and fill up 2 quart container. After that pour some lemonade and club in your cup until the lemon taste covers the club soda taste. Add a little more lemon juice if you like. And there you have it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm Alive

My days are filled with writing. This is not a moment where I do not think about it. I crossed the half way mark yesterday and I'm desperatly trying to catch up. Any sense of plot that I once had is gone. Spelling is the least of my worries. I just write what ever comes into my head. I easily get side tracked, like now, and I try to get away from it. But it's always there nagging me in the back of my mind calling for some attention. I've been to into writing that I've stopped reading. I never did finish my Mother Earth October/November issue.
But, yes, I'm a live and will see you in thirteen days. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I really wanted to post some more but I've been sick and busy...busy writing.
Yesterday I called it a day with around four thousand words, a few hundred above my daily goal. I'm trying to create a cushion for myself for the days that I work an eight hour shift. In case you are curious about what I'm up to, here's and excerpt. Warning! This is COMPLETELY unedited so don't laugh.
There's not much left to say.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

Next month is National Noval Writing Month! What is National Noval Writing Month? It's a month were a few thousand insane souls imbark on a journey of 50,ooo words in a month. If you do the math that about 1,666 words a day or about 28 words a minute. I've only completed this journey once at it was awesome! Insane? Yes. Fun? You bet!
Usually I do a historical or fantasy story but this year it'll be a city girl meets country sort of story. I have a very vague plot so far so any suggestions of minor events to happen would be appreicated. I'm still working on characters as well.
Interested? Go to and read up on the rules and join in the fun! Hope to see you at the finish line!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

God, Where Has This Pie Been all my Life?

I'm not kinding, this is the best pumpkin pie that I've ever had. It could do with less sugar but it is awesome! I made the filling and the crust. I'm so proud of myself. Here's how I did it.
This is made with REAL fresh cooked pumpkin. It was easy.
Cut your sugar pie pumpkin in half, cut stem off and gut it. Place in a microwave dish with a few inches of water. Place in mircowave on high for 15 minutes and then additional 5 minute incements after, if needed.
Meanwhile, cut up 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter and combine with 2 tablespoons of vegetable shortening, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 cups flour in a bowl of food processor until it resembles cornmeal then add 3 tablespoons of iced water until it forms a dough. Place it in the fridge for at least an hour. (Credit for this crust goes to Jenna Woginrich, girl you're a saint.)
Now that your pumpkin's cooked, scoop out meat with ice cream scooper and mash it. Measure out 1 and 1/2 cup pumpkin. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 and 2/3 cup sweeten condensed milk and 2 eggs. Mix until smooth.
Roll your pie crust out and put it in the pie dish (easier said then done). Put filling into the unbaked pie crust and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes then at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.
I found this recipe on a stick on my pie pumpkin. Like I said, needs less sugar. Probably 1/2 cup instead of 1 cup.
After a troublesome week, whatever supreme being there is made up to me, and I dug in to pie and hot cocoa.


I'm slacking in posting. I know, but lately I've been sort of down in the dumps. I don't mean to sound like a troubled teen but I feel so alone. My friends don't call me or talk to me. It's depressing. Two of my friends aren't in college and they live 15 minutes away. I've tried to get them to come over but both wont. The friend that I wanted to go to the meusum with I have not been able to get in touch with her. I'll go by myself and have a good time. I love going to work because it gives me a chance to talk to non-family members and people my own age.
I've been cooking like crazy. To me, I'm cooking my frustrations away. In the past week I've made two batches of apple butter, a totally from scratch pumpkin pie, and snickerdoodles. When I'm cooking I'm one of the happiest people in the world. It feels good.
About the pumpkin pie, I'll post more about it later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple Butter: A Reflection

"Live and learn" is one of my mottoes. If something goes wrong or right you learn something from it. Well, my apple butter went wrong. I'll start from the beginning.
A recent thread on Cold Antler Farm forum was about apples. Many people listed their favorite apple recipes. Among these was one for apple butter made in the crockpot. I rejoiced knowing that I could have slightly less laborious but still have tasty apple butter in about a day. Excited to can some I rushed to the orchard, bought a basket of blemished mixed apples for $4, a steal. Yesterday morning I peeled, cored, and chopped my 10 apples. Threw in the spices and discovered that we didn't have any sugar. Not a problem. I was due to go to work in a few hours anyway so I would just have to add it when I came home. I put on high for an hour stirred excitedly then switched it to low for 9 more hours, but in nine more hours I would be at work. I told my mom to take the cover off at about 7 o'clock. When I got home my mom had reported that that apple butter started to burned. Of course, I questioned her about what time she took it off....7:30. Groan! Thankfully it didn't taste burnt!
I left it alone since it was too late to can it. This morning I got up, threw the apple butter in the food processor to smooth it out and add the sugar. Although the recipe suggests putting in 2 cups of sugar I found that 1/2 cup did just fine. I threw the mixture back into the crockpot on warm, to kill any bacteria and set up the canning equipment. This was the fourth time that I canned this year so my set up was great. I corrected any flaws in my previous canning adventures.
Sadly, the apple butter only did three 1/2 pint jars. I had anticipated at least six 1/2 pint jars.
No worries, I still have a lot of apples left from the basket so I'll be making some more soon. I think I'll be freezing it this time.
P.S. I'm on my third book of the season, Hit by a Farm by Catherine Friend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Apple of a Day

It was one of those days that didn't go as planned but still worked out alright. I had a last minute change of plans, my friend had to help her mom move. The Mercer Muesum visit is postponed until Tuesday.
Instead, I cleaned my room a little bit. Not much but enough to call it progress. Tomorrow I'll have to finish it. My mom and dad were outside doing yardwork so I stole the chance to practice the fiddle. So far I can play the D scale and "Ida Red" okay. I think my fiddle is out of tune and I'm not about to offer up money to support something that I may or may not end up keeping in the long run. I'm going to take it back to the rental store and see if their violin guy can give it a once over. It's a rental right? It should be in tune when I rent it. I'll probably ask if he can put fingering tape on it. They're nice people that run the store so I doubt they'll say no.
My cat started to swat the bow so I figured it was time to put it away and go ouside.
I gathered sticks for the camp fire. I'm tempted to douse some larger logs in a little lighter fluid so help them catch. No matter which way I build the fire it seems to only want to burn smaller stuff.
I figured that since I'm not going to eat the apples that I'm buying for my apple butter fresh, I went to my local orchard to pick up some of their blemished ones. Boy! Did they have a lot! I swear there were more than the perfect ones. At $4 a basket of mixed apple, I couldn't argue. The amount in the basket is enough to make a few nice jars plus an apple pie or two. I'm really looking forward to it. While I was there I picked up some of their apple cider which wasn't near as good as the cider that I've been getting at a different orchard. This apple cider tasted more like tany apple juice. It's still good and local so I can't argue.
Now, I'm waited for dinner to be ready, lasange, and be done with so I can finished making snickerdoodles.
So, it has been a pleasant day. Now, I'm excited for Tuesday!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Next Weekend...

Apple Butter...
Pumpkin Ice Cream...

Next weekend shall be fun. After work Saturday I'm picking a friend up for two days of fun. Here's the agenda.
Saturday Night: Stop at a local ice cream shop, campfire, scary movies
Sunday Afternoon: Mercer Museum, stop at apple stand for apples
Monday: Apple Butter
Why would two teenage girls want to go to a museum. It's simple. They both like history. AND it has artifacts from before the industrial revolution! Very neat stuff. I should dig out my photos from the last time and post them.
This place is sort of special to me. One of my ancestors worked for Henry Mercer's wife. So I feel all cozy there. Maybe if we have time we'll visit Fonthill (Mercer's home).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trick & Treat: Pumpkin Dog Biscuts

I use to make these dog biscuts for my dogs and my pet rats. They're a hit everytime!
This recipe is from The Doggy Bone Cookbook by Michele Bledsoe. If you like this recipe I recomend buying this book.
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 cups wheat flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine pumpkin, water, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg ina bowl. Stir well. Gradually add oatmeal, and wheat flour. Form a dough. Roll to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutter. Cake on ungreased cookie sheet for 40 minutes.

Today's Purchases-Folding chair and soap

I try not to buy things that I don't need. I'm pretty good at it, honest! Today I bought a folding chair at Target for $9.59 because the one that I was using was old, rusty, and broken. This one is all steel. This was a better deal than the plastic/aluminum one that is on sale this week and it has a ten year limited warrenty. To make it more presentable for my room I'll make a cushion for it so although the chair itself is not colorful I can add a little color with the cushion.
Today I also bought the last of my simple soap making supplies. Although I would love to make soap from scratch my current living conditions will not allow me, so I bought melt-n-pour instead. Thanks to a 40% off coupon I was able to snag the soap base at Michaels for $6 and everything else at regular price, about $3 for the mold, and $3 for the scent. All I really need now is something to melt it in the microwave with and pour it in the mold.

It's Here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Week in a Nutshell

It's been a good week. Although my fall reading goal is not doing so well, I've finished one book but have hardly started the other, things are going good.
I made butter Thursday before work. I'm amazed at how almost effortless it was to do. The butter came together in no time. Tomorrow, I'll be making pancakes out of the buttermilk, yum.
I finished The Light Fantastic last night and started In Defense of Food which is proving to me really interesting. I'm hoping that this book gives me some insight on how to get away from this processed food world and into good cooking.
I've been eating my blackberry jam. It's good to sit back and watch the leaves change while eating blackberry jam from a humid day in August. It's a sweet, sweet memory. I'm hoping to take my friend, Heather, to go apple picking or pumpkin picking. I love her. She's such a dear. It's good to have a friend that has the same homesteading interests as I do. There's not many people around her that I know that do.
One of my mangers at work has really helped me with the canning and the gardening. She's from the south and, bless her heart, from my favorite southern state, Georgia. She walked me through pickling, and jamming. She's the gal I go to for advice. And get this, her mother still cans and she ain't a youngin' but 70-some! I would really love to meet her.
With the apples and pumpkins I plan to pick, the pumpkins will go to pies and the apples to pie and apple butter. I know that I said I was done with canning but apple butter is to die for. It's even better when you know that you can just toss it into the crockpot for a few hours! I'm craving for a good apple butter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009

I was looking through my blog list of blogs that I subscribe to and I found this post by Karen Sue. I don't know about you, but I've become very, well, lacking in the reading department. Since I've gotten out of school I've read only one and a half book. So, I'm joining this challenge. I think this could do some good for me and I encourage anyone else that emjoys reading to this. This is the boost that I've been looking for to read fifty books by the end of the year.
So my list is:
1. Finish Light Fantastic
2. In Defense of Food
3. The Lost Symbol
4. Digital Fortress
5. And more....

My additional goals are to read two hours everyday. I use to do this all the time but that has gone out the window.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'm the kind of person that would take $100 of spending money to vacation and come back with $50. It's just how I am. As I walk through the grocery store a constant reminder in my head goes "I can make this, it's simple." Usually this thinking is for the processed foods that, in truth, if I make myself would cost less and be healthier for me. Now, this thinking is getting attached to bread, butter, and cheese because I can make it. It's getting even worse now that I decieded I wasn't going to by any material posessions for a month or if I did it would be to make something cheaper. This is an exercise which I really don't need today. I've been working part time for three years and have over $8,000 in the bank. Yes, it's all my money but I also do not have bills to pay. I own a prepaid phone that has airtime for a year and over 900 minutes on it that I got for $100 because I can not justify spending $100 per month on a phone. Instead of buying a fancy popcorn popper I settled for a nice steel copper bottom 3 quart pot for $2 and learned how to shake it. It makes me laugh every time I think about the time when everyone loses their conviences and simply can't go one while us homesteaders will keep trucking along.
I want to keep things simple. I don't care if an air popcorn popper is easier, my old pot will keep churning it out way after that China made piece of plastic quits.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Trash, Stuff, and Things

Trash is the stuff that you immiedity throw away. This can be packaging or even goods that you throw away, like those new little disposible toothbrushes called Whisps.
Things is items that doesn't last very long and you will eventually end up throwing out. This can be toothbrushes, nick-nacks, and bath sponges.
Stuff is things that you keep for a long period of time or forever. These are the things that last a really long time and you become attached to. This can be computers, microwaves, bedding, and kitchen appliances.
Up until the last few decades the items in a household consisted of stuff and few things and hardly any trash. Back then, things were meant to last two, three, even ten years. Sometimes, they made things stregth beyond their lifespan by repurposing it.
Repurposing is a lost art. Why bother since we can get new things cheaply? Because the earth will not be able to sustain use in a few years if we keep using our resources at this rate! As soon as I get my sewing machine fixed I'm sewing a seat cushion out of an old pillow and some spiffy new fabric. If I had it laying around, I would use an old shirt or bed sheet.
Doing without if another way to keep stuff out of the landfills. Do you really need that new coffee maker when your old one is still kicking? How about that bottled water? Wouldn't a nice steel or aluminum bottle serve just as well and last ten times as long?
Choosing the right replacment is another way to keep trash and things out of the land fill. Instead of that plastic electric coffee maker how about a perculator? Instead of a bath puff, how about some nice wash clothes in your favorite colors?
Although somethings you just need to have disposible, like tissues and toliet paper, you can be smarter about what you choose. Try post-consumer fiber tissues or, if you think their pricey, Scotties is a good brand to go with. They're made with virgin fiber but for every tree they use they plant three. It's better than nothing.
If you have any more ideas leave a comment!

A Lot of Things

I've been doing a lot of things lately. My room is cleaned out except for a few things. I sold the lot of rat bedding. Sold two books of My room feels so much better. I still have a few things lying about but if they don't find a home by the end of the week they get booted out.
I finally got my first issue of Mother Earth News. It's wonderful! I love all the articals and the letters to the editor are insightful. I really what to do this thing. MEN just makes me want it more. Perhaps in four years it will be possible. Sooner? Maybe.
In other news, I got a violin! Well, it's rented. It's mine for the next four and a half months for a great price of $52.98. Yes, I got the liability damage wavier. Sadly, I've already named it, Yahmie. Fortunatly, I'm not attached yet because I don't have the book yet but I'm hoping about getting it next week.
So, that's the overview. I'll write more later.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banned from Cooking?!

Seriously, is it nessary to ban someone from cooking when one doesn't cook that much to begin with? Well, that's what my mom did. Who is she to ban me from cooking anyway? I'm 18 for goodness sakes! I clean up after myself and leave a clean kitchen behind. But yet I'm banned. The last thing I baked was on Wednesday and I took extra care to clean up. The kitchen was spotless. Now today when I annocnced I was making cookies she told me that I didn't need them. Um, excuse me? I'm not ten anymore and have less pleasant means of getting them as in going to the store and getting them.
This really frustrates me. A while ago I tried to get my mom to switch to homemade bread. I made two loaves every few weeks. She still bought bread. After awhile she told me to stop because no one was eating the store bought bread. I wonder why? Hmm.... I swear, she's fighting back hard to keep me from living the way I want to live but all she is doing is pushing me further and further away. The more she complains that more I want to get out. My sister's lucky, she moved out last year
I'll hang in there. Don't worry.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I ordered Mother Earth News magizine about four weeks ago. Still nothing in the mail. I know that all the articals are online it's more eco-friendly to read it there. But what about nights that I decide to go off the grid? What am I to do then?
I love their articals, in fact I want to write one (and earn extra cash). My mom says six to eight weeks but it better get here soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Purging my stuff

These pictures where taken two years ago when my sister and I went through my stuff. I was amazed at how much stuff I got rid of then. Most things I donated.

Since then, I really haven't collected that much stuff. Really, I haven't. Right now I'm just going through and getting rid of things that I haven't used in a while therefore I don't need them.
So far I purged my library and closet. The books, CDs, and movies that I don't want are listed on So far I've sold one thing making $5.
The worse thing is my collection of tea. I year ago I was gaga about tea and now not so much. I own about fifty different kinds of tea. Yeah, I'm crazy.
The boxes under my bed really need purging. What am I going to do with all my beanie babies? They're kind of worthless. I'll probably sell them on ebay for $50 for the whole lot. Stupid 90s trends. As for the over flow of the elephant collection, I'm never going to see them again.
And don't get me started on my junk drawers. It's a mess.
I'll keep you posted on how things go.

Today's Agenda

Mom's going out shopping with my sister and leaving me home alone. Fianlly! So here's home my day is going to go:
-Make Amish White Bread and cinnamon rolls
-Check garden and pick produce
-Balance check book
-Master cleaning of room
-Clean bathroom
Not much but it's somrthing to do with my only day off this week. Next paycheck will be very nice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Challenge: Scaling Down

I'll admit it. I've been a pretty big spender lately. I have money and I want to spend it. Well, I'm challenging my self to scale down and fight consumerism. For a month, yes you read it right, I will not buy anything that would be considered a material posession unless I have a good reason to. Anything that I do buy that is condered a material posession I will have to get rid of things that are equal to it in value. Meaning, if I buy my fiddle I'll weed my personal library and sell/donate them to make room for my fiddle.
First, I need to scale down. Over the next few days I'll be going through my closet. Anything that I haven't used in two months will go. No excuses. I can do this, I know I can. I went through my stuff two years ago so it shouldn't be a whole lot of stuff.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Field Trip: Durham Furnance

The Lost Art of Stove Top Popcorn

In this age of cell phones, computer and microwaves we've gotten too lazy for something as simple as stove top popcorn. Why bother why we can just put some in the microwave and walk away. Well it ends here! Trow out those boxes of over priced fluff, calories, and miscellaneous chemicals and get out the pot!
It's easier then you think, really. You made have heard horror stories of popcorn kernels of death trying to take one's eye out. Relax, that's all hype. Finally you're in control of what you put on it. It'll taste great, trust me. Take my hand and I'll guide you back to simple delicious healthy.
What you need:
A sauce pan with lid
3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
Anything you want on it ex. salt, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon and sugar

How to:
Put oil into pot along with a few kernels. On stove, heat oil between high and medium. Once kernels pop add the rest and put the lid on. Move pot back and forth on burner to prevent burning. When you hear the popping stop turn off burner and remove from heat. Pour it into a bowl and add you favorite toppings.
That was painless, wasn't it? For an add bonus, try to find a farm that sells popcorn kernels. To my readers, I challenge you to make some stove top popcorn!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Field Trip: Feed and Grain Mill


Help! Murder in the Kitchen!

No, seriously it was only beets. I think Doug and his friend Skeeter were on to something about beets. They are so good.
I took another trip to Trauger's, I have no clue were I'd be with out them. I bought two more bunches of beets, popcorn kernels, snickerdoodle cookies, and some really good Sarsparilla made in Kutztown. On the bottle it says "Nix besser" which means "Nothing better".
So it took me fours hours to make my pickled beets and process them. Good thing I didn't have to hover over it all that time. The beets tasted very good. I made nine pints of them only the ninth pint never made it to process because the bottom of the jar had a chip in it. I dumped it into a container and put it in the fridge. Tomorrow I'll boil some eggs and add them. Yummy. The recipe that I used was from
Also while I was out, I stopped by the Delaware Canal at one of the locks. It reminds you of a simpliar time when man needed beast to help haul boat loads of coal from the mountians.
Also, I took a picture of a mill. I've been inside it before. It's very impressive. But to ease your curiousity I have some photos of the mill I visited in Lancaster County. They ran the mill for our tour group. Here's the video with no sound. You probably wouldn't have been able to hear anything anyway.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alpaca Socks and Squirrel Shirts

Fall is well on it's way. You can tell by the few yellow leaves that are falling. The temperature at night is getting colder and the nights are getting a little longer each day. I know I wasn't as active as I wanted to be this summer with my garden because I had no control over what my dad did with it but next year will be different. I'm putting my foot down and planning that garden myself.
On Friday before I headed to work I stopped by the farmer's market. The vendors were few before the sky decided that it was going to rain on their parade. My mission was beets but none of the vendors had any. The one vendor that I had talked to said that his beets were taken by the deer. But I didn't leave empty handed.
I've been wanted some really warm socks for a time now. I've attempted to make my own but that hasn't gone to well. The only choice I had was to buy them. I snagged a really good pair of alpaca socks from a vendor that came from Hunderton County, New Jersey. There's 78% alpaca wool, 20% nylon and 2% lyrcra. Not bad. The best part is that they have a terry cloth like interior which makes them really cozy.
Normally, I don't bother with getting warm socks but I'm challenging myself this winter by not using the electric heat in my room. My one dog will get a nice blanket for extra warmth and my sheltie should be fine. As for me an extra blanket or two will be added to my normal four layers. As soon as the sewing machine is fixed I'll make my fleece blanket and I'll perhaps buy a nice alpaca blanket for the same vendor I got the socks from unless a better product elsewhere.
I'm still knitting my scarf. Hopefully I'll be done by the end of September. Then I'll make a hat.
A little earlier on Friday I bought a T-shirt that I've been wanting for awhile. It snagged it at a garden center that is going out of business for $10. This particular shirt has a squirrel with a mask on that reads "Hand over the sunflower seeds and no one gets hurt." The line is called Squirrel Stuff. I have a long love hate affair with squirrels. In middle school they where the cause of everything that with wrong. The artist as a lot more up on her website that you can buy. Very cool stuff.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Electric, No Problem

This morning I woke up to rain on my face. During the summer I love to have my windows open. There is rarely a moment when at least one window is open. I got up, kicked the cat off my bed and went to do my morning routine on the computer. Around ten o'clock the electricity went out. I shrugged and lit some candles to do my hair in my windowless bathroom. My mom and I went out to the garden center that is closing for business.
It's so sad seeing something close that I've known all my life. They do anquies there too. I almost died when I saw the butter churn for $15 and a spinning wheel for $160! So where's my own homestead when I need it? I keep finding things I want but can't get because I have no place to put it except in boxes.
I found this set of stoneware plates that I want but can't use them. Ah, the restrictions of living with parents.
Thank goodness we have a propane stove. I don't know where I'd be without it. For lunch I made my gooey grilled cheese. I found that if you butter the bread with soft butter and fry it on low for about six minutes on one side and about four on the other it makes for a really yummy sandwich.

The Bag Bag

A few months ago I started to crochet a grocery bag out of plastic grocery bags. I never finished it. After browsing through Mobile Home Woman's blog I found a video on how to melt the plastic bags into a bag. It's simple really! The part that took me the longest was sewing the side up by hand. I haven't really tested to see how much this can hold but I did use it to transport water ice and a tea shirt home. Today I'll go to the farmer's market to use it more.
So to make this, collect ten plastic bags about the same size.
Cut the tops and bottoms off.
Pull them inside out. This is important because they ink will bleed and make a mess.
Fold them in half three times.
Iron them between pieces of wax paper. Iron one side and flip over. Iron one by one until all of them are done.
If you have a working sewing machine you can just sew the panels together, three for the front and back, one for each side and bottom, and one for the handles.
For the handels just cut two stripes from the remaining back about an inch thick and sew it on.
For those who do not have a sewing machine you can fuse the front and back panels together and the bottom to the two sides. Two up the four remaining side with the blanket stich.
Ta da! With a sewing machine this would probably take you about an hour. With out a sewing machine three hours unless you can sew faster.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Pickle Expedition

It seems like a lot of hoopla over something so small. I must confess, it is but they are my pickles not just something generic that I picked up at a whim in the grocery store. It's a commitment.
Wednesday morning I took another trip to Trauger's to get beets and more pickling cucumbers. When leaving the house I noticed that we lacked vinegar and my mom wanted tomato juice so I took a trip to the nearest supermarket, the IGA in Frenchtown, New Jersey. This was something different. I had never drove acrossed those bridges let alone by myself. It's scary knowing that about twenty feet below the Delware River is churning and that one false move could send you hurling to your death. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic but it was a big deal to me.
Anyway, once I got the vinegar and tomato juice I headed back to PA. The next leg of my journey was enjoying the river scenery ((and dogging the many potholes that grace the road)). A few minutes later, and after worrying about taking the wrong turn, I arrived that Trauger's. I swear, that place is my happy place. Old farm house, river setting, acres of plants that produce food to make very good food. That's is my place, if I dare say, a little more homier than my own home. There I snagged 15 good sized pickling cucumber, to add with my existing 30 smaller ones, for $3, and 2 good bunches of beets for $2 a piece. I also snagged a packet of Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill Pickle mix for $2.50 just in case the other mix was too little.
I'm glad I did because I ended up processing twelve pint jars and one gallon of fridge style because I didn't have any wide mouth lids. Lesson two and three learned.
To those that are curious, it's very easy to make pickles with or without a packaged mix and with or without a water bath canner.
First, get your canner or stock pot to a boil.
Meanwhile, wash your jars and set them in warm water until ready to use. Some people say to boil them but it's not nessisary. If you wash them in warm enough water they'll be sterilized and if you keep them in warm water they will not break.
Next, follow your packet's intructions or if you want to make them from stratch go here.
While you're waiting for the brine to boil pack your cucumbers in the jars. Remember keep them warm. To activate the glue on the lids you can place them in a pan of water on low or dip them in the canner for a few seconds (when your ready to seal).
Once your brine in to a boil pour it into your jars and cap. Process jars according to the intructions.Lastly, enjoy your pickles year round. Looking at the jars just seem romantic. Sigh. The cost per jar, not including energy is about sixy-five cents per jar.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From Scratch Pancakes

When I move out of my parents house I'm going to have three homemade meals a day no matter what. I crave good filling food. The problem with fast food is that there is really nothing there. You can order the king size but there is nothing there. Empty calories just filling your calorie intake, that's it. Even if it's nothing something totally made from scratch such as my fab chicken and dumplings. It's enough for me.
This morning I craved pancakes. Of course, like my hungry lazy teenage self should, I reached for the box of Hungry Jack Complete Buttermilk Pancake mix. Only to say, "Hey, where did it all go." Unlike most I didn't toss it back and get out cereal, instead I went online and found a pancake recipe at It's a simple recipe designed with a few people in mind. Of course I did my own variation. Instead of 1 tablespoon sugar I used 4 teaspoons. In place of oil I used butter. I added about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and I lacked buttermilk so I used regular milk. They turned out wonderful, not very fluffy which can be fixed by seperating the egg yolk and whites then beating the egg whites.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Owch! And other news

So someone up there was beating me with a stick today. I came home from shopping with my mom. Within 30 minutes I was on the road again to go to work with my lunch of pizza in tin foil waiting for me to eat it when I get there (I've only been driving a month and didn't want to take a chance). I get to work, eat it, and run it. When it was time for my dinner break I had a game plan. I needed pickling cucumbers but couldn't go to the farmer's market so I drive to the produce stand near work. Huzzah! I snagged 30 good pickling cucumbers for $3, less then half I was expecting. I get out to the car, bend over to slide my box in the car and BAM! I hit my head on the car. With my head throbbing I attempt to cross one lane and a turning lane. That didn't go to well. I ended up driving back to work, turning around and going out that stop light to McDonalds. Dumb me went to do this in rush hour traffic. Needless to say I had ten minutes to eat. It could have been worse. I get back, put my cucumbers into the fridge and in my excitment of telling my manager, a family friend who as been giving me advise on canning, I cut the corner to short at the register, it's raised about eight inches, and sliced a nice whole into my favorite pair of jeans. Eventful, no?
In other news, I found a very interesting artical on, A while back, I thought it would be neat to find edibles in the words but I doubt that would go over too well with my mom although raspberries are okay. I know not many people read this, but let's see who can find a wild edible. Do what the artical suggests. Take a picture of it, tell me where you foudn it and do something with it. Post the link to your picture in the comments. It'll be interesting to see what people find. Don't forget to do your research first.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Garden

This morning, before it got too hot out, I took pictures of what I like to thinks is my homestead, as least is my homestead for now. As I've probably mentioned before, I'm still quite young and live with my parents. Since I live with my parents I'm restricted in what I can do with my lifestyle. In other words I'm not allowed to have chickens, can a winter supply of food, eat 95% local, or run my garden with out someone else stepping in and doing what they want with it.
With is what happened this season. I had it all planned out, carefully not over doing it, seeds bought and all. My dad and I were suppose to put a fence up around our raised beds. Three posts in and he didn't to the forth. Needless to say the fence was never finished but I was still determined to get something into the ground. I planted bush peas but they never came up. I didn't give up so I planted bush beans which yeilded about six plants that are yet producing. During the winter I didn't really feel like doing seedlings for sweet peppers so I bought six plants from Walmart and those are also still producing. Then the fence issue came up. We ended up putting scrap pieces of chicken wire up around everything which makes it hard to weed. Okay, so not a problem right? Then came the tomatoes. In my plan I didn't include tomatoes because everyone around here does tomotoes. My dad never passes up anything free so he planted as many tomato plants as he could, about eight, that covered a row and a half of potential beet and squash plots. I also see not logic in planting a blueberry bush in raised beds in the middle of the garden.

This is the back view of my green peppers. Notice how they are protected.

My only cucumber plant next to some random rot; grass clipps and such. Another thing I need to do is designate a compost pile. It's everywhere right now.One of my green bean plants. Still being choked my weeds. I need to mulch better next year.

I'll post the rest as a slideshow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


What a event. Around 11 o'clock in the morning I started. I mushed my berries one layer at a time. At first I didn't know what this was. So I threw a few berries into the bowl and mashed them then add more. Hopefully this was what they were getting at. The biggest mistake the I made was not starting the canner before I started jamming. After I made the jam, which was quite easy, I put the lids and bands on and waited for canner to boil. During that time I encountered another problem, the half pint jars don't fit on the rack! With a little testing I noticed that the jars fit nicely on the outer edge of the rack and if I carefully lower and raise it would work. I lost my jar lifter, which is old anyway, but it worked with regular tongs. After the jars were processed you couldn't imagine my excitment when I heard the tops pop! It was like Christmas. All of my jars sealed.
It's amazing to know that you played a part in putting food up for the winter. Yeah, it's only jam but that's one less thing that I need to buy at the supermarket. I played a part in it's making. I picked the berries, mashed them, cooked, and processed them. Just knowing that will make the jam taste great. As for the cost, it was about $1.79 per jar which doesn't include getting a canner, bands, jar lifter and anything that can be reused. So for $9 in berries, about $1 in sugar, 75 cents for six lids. If you have your own blackberry bush it's even cheaper, only 30 cents a jar.

I'm looking forward to making pickles next weekend and after that perhaps applesauce. Yummy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Great news! Every time I update my blog I update my Twitter with the link. For those who Twitter a lot this is great! Just follow me, Willowoak.