Friday, January 31, 2014

Kellogg's Breakfast

And no, I don't mean Frosted Flakes! Our seeds arrived today. Hopes are always high in the winter for the summer garden. I picked a few more varieties of dried beans (they are really 'da bomb!), beets, some popcorn for Kole, tomatoes, and flowers to start our small flower test garden.

I was drawn to the Kellogg's tomato as the description indicated it came from West Virginia! It looks quite scrumptious and the packet claims it has a delicious, rich flavor.

Kole will be having a small table at our local Farmers Market this summer so I picked some miniature bell peppers and small popcorn to accompany whatever else he chooses to grow. He has his overalls, gardening tools, and an eagerness to learn. I consider it home schooling at its finest :-)

What seeds have you ordered?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CSA Wednesday

Bread, brussel sprouts, carrots, arugula, greens, and potatoes. Yummy!
For dinner, we enjoyed a roasted spaghetti squash with garlic, butter, and cheese, roasted brussel sprouts, a salad, and bread. It felt so nice to have such a healthy, local, and veggie filled meal when the temperature outside is barely 10°.
What would you do with this haul?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Pantry

I love my pantry. I'm so glad we decided on a floor plan that allowed for such a large storage area. I also love how it's an extension of my kitchen. Here's a look inside while standing at our island:

When we lived in our apartment, our kitchen was tiny. I think my pantry is bigger than our kitchen was. We had zero storage space and had to make do with a combined linen closet/pantry. I'm always trying to improve the organization of the area. 

On the left side, we have 3 different shelves. We can store a lot of things on the shelves! The big tubs under the bottom shelf are food grade tubs that house our flour and oats. We buy flour and oats in bulk as we bake a lot of bread and make a lot of granola! 

The right side has some hooks for bags. Our mixer and ice cream maker take up some real estate on the floor. And at the back is our potatoes, onions, and bread storage box. We do have a root cellar, but we use this storage bin for short term storage.

 Also on the floor are two jugs of some home made apple cider vinegar. Dan was trying a technique to make some hard cider and it didn't work. We did get lots of ACV, though! We plan to use it in our chickens water when we get them. If you haven't checked out Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele, you should! I might do a book review soon.

Pinterest was just becoming popular when we were starting to plan our house. I found so many pictures of pantry doors. I knew I wanted a two panel door that I could paint with chalkboard paint. I love it! It allows me to put up a quick menu and the bottom panel is a spot for the kids to draw. And to the left I put a hook for my aprons. I hope to accumulate some more vintage aprons as I visit yard sales and thrift shops this summer.

Do you have a pantry? If so, think about making the door a chalkboard!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Winter Gratitude

It's cold out. There's snow on the ground with more on the way. And we're not even out of January yet.

I have no reason to complain. Do I have cabin fever? With two young children, the answer to that is obvious. But I don't dwell on it.

We have lots of windows that provide abundant sun when it shines. We have a pantry full of food, as well as fridge and freezer. We have wood for our woodstove. We have warm and comfortable beds.

We have high speed Internet that provides entertainment of movies, TV shows and music. We have a craft cupboard and Pinterest to keep us busy making things.

We have a tractor with a plow and a can of diesel. We have new snow tires on our four wheel drive Honda. We have salt and shovels.

We have clean water to drink, bathe, and do laundry with. We have books to read and letters to practice writing, that is if you're four.

So, does the cold and snow get old? Absolutely. But so does oppressive humidity and heat in the summer. Rain in the spring. And wind in the fall.

But I, for one, couldn't live in a place without the change of seasons. Look around and make a list of what you're thankful for.  It might surprise you!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CSA Wednesday

The thermostat today never ventured above 15 degrees. There's at least 6 inches of snow on the ground.  But. But, there's this!

Fingerling potatoes, spinach, eggs, beets, carrots, and bok choy. I see some beef stew in my future. And some bok choy stir fry. And roasted beets. Or maybe I'll find something here.

Along with our weekly CSA boxes, we also have almost 2 dozen butternut squash in our root cellar. What's your favorite way to prepare butternut?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Day

When mother nature hands you this...

Then you should definitely make this...


Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Milestone Birthday

So, I had a birthday last week. It was kind of a big one. I turned 30!

It was by far one of the best birthdays I can remember. My husband and some friends surprised me with a lunch out, a fancy pants chocolate cake from a local bakery, and a pedicure. Given the fact that a teething infant has been demanding most of my time lately, it was nice to see some different faces and have someone else paint my nails!

About that cake...

And my toes....

Earrings made in Colorado, some chicken keeping and homesteading books, and some other cool things rounded out the day.

I love milk glass and really, really like the turquoise variety. It was only produced for a year or two and so it is really hard to find and expensive. Isn't it pretty though! My mom and step dad were able to find a really pretty blue and white milk glass candle holder. It has different spots for different sized candles. It's really cool!

 And the most unique thing I got for my birthday? A loom! My mother in law sent me a message earlier in the week saying that my gift should arrive on Friday and that she hoped I liked it. When it arrived on Friday, I was most definitely surprised! I've never really given weaving a thought, but it is such a cool skill. 

The loom is made in the USA by a couple who designed it themselves. They mill all the wood and put a lot of care into the assembly of it. Check it out!

The woman who designed it sent along a little card with a very lovely note. In it, she included her e-mail address and phone number. She told me to consider her my "grandma down the road" and to call her anytime I had problems. This brought some tears to my eyes as I grew up right up the road from my grandma, who was always knitting, baking, crocheting, or cooking. 

It was sent already "warped", so I was able to get to work right away. While I was getting the hang of it, Dan made the remark that it really makes one appreciate the craft since the invention of automatic looms and such. I am already dreaming up projects and gift ideas. It fits right in with my desire to make all handmade gifts for friends and family. And my mother in law has a friend in Ohio who apparently has a number of looms...big looms. I might have one of those in my house in the future!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CSA Wednesday

More goodies from Fish Hawk Acres! Spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, brussel sprouts, and Asian pears. The eating is still good in January!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


It's hard to believe that we are approaching the third summer of living in our house. Ever since we began talking about building our home and starting a small farm, we have talked about chickens. Finishing up our house, a surprise baby, and our first year of gardening has set this goal back a little, but this is the year!

Now that we have two kids, our requirements for chickens has changed slightly. We absolutely *need* docile chickens as our daughter loves on all animals. An aggressive hen or rooster won't cut it. And we are drawn toward the bigger breeds. 

In our quest to keep things as local as possible, we have found several local farmers who hatch chicks. One in particular raises Buff Orpingtons, which is at the top of our list. We've put in a request for chicks. Now it's just a matter of spring coming!

And we love to read as much as we can about something before we jump in. What are your favorite chicken books?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fresh Ground Paprika

Winter means seed catalogs. As a homesteader and farmer, your hopes and ambitions are high when the temperature is low. Last year we were definitely dreaming big as I was overly pregnant and had a case of serious cabin fever. We pored over catalogs. And Dan came across these beauties. Paprika...why not?

We had some beautiful plants, in fact the paprika plants were the healthiest and seemingly most productive of our peppers. We would have gotten more, but our little white tailed back yard friends liked them more. Rotten deer.

But, I digress. We collected a number of peppers, seeded, and sliced them. We don't have a food dehydrator (it's on the wish list!), so we used our oven at the lowest temperature. The peppers roasted for about 10 hours. We didn't need any ground at the time, so we simply put them in an airtight container and put them in our pantry.

A few weekends ago, we decided to grind them up. I wish I had more pictures of the process, but the smell had us mesmerized. We used our small food processor, but it might have been a little more efficient with a coffee grinder. Live and learn! If you enjoy growing your own herbs and spices, paprika should be on your list!

From The Farm Blog Hop

Thursday, January 9, 2014

CSA Thursday

After a little break over the holidays, CSA weekly drops are back! This week brings fresh greens, a big golden beet, sweet onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and dried shiitake mushrooms.
I've heard so many people say that they only eat salads in the summer. But, boy what a treat the winter greens are! There are so many other great veggies available in the summer that I prefer to enjoy my greens in the other seasons :-)

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's a bit chilly

Yep. It's cold. -4 cold. But the woodstove is keeping us nice and warm. A 78° difference between inside and out! I'll take it!
How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Never gets old...

One of the things that I love more than anything about where we live is the sunset and sunrise. While I'm not always as thrilled about the sunrise, I do love a good sunset. Today was a lovely day for both.

Even the western sky was pretty this morning.

And I don't think I'll even get enough of the sunsets. My family loves when we're in the middle of dinner and I hope up to grab my camera (really, my phone...but it has a rocking camera).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

About That Decorating Stuff

I've been so excited since we started planning our house for decorating it. I joined Pinterest when it first started (that probably explains my 60 or so boards). With being pregnant when we finished up and subsequently surviving our first year with two kids, decorating took to the back burner.
I'm a fan of the shabby chic type decor as well as the farmhouse look. And vintage. And cottage-y. So, I guess you could say I'm eclectic.
After we took down our Christmas decorations, I started brainstorming how to decorate above my kitchen cabinets. Our kitchen is kind of my baby so to speak. I picked out the style and design and held out until the Ikea 20% off sale! I knew I wanted to incorporate my love of milk glass and blue Mason jars. And I really want to bring more of nature indoors this year.
So, inspired by a favorite blog of mine (Chickens in the Road), I set out on a walk with the kids to collect things for winter themed bouquets. Stick here, pretty piece of dead grass there. And some random blue berries! I found some red as well but they were on a rather prickly vine.
We brought our haul back to the house and I got to work. It was a lot of fun! And I'm thrilled with how it turned out. What do you think?
Now...about all those things I have pinned on Pinterest....

From The Farm Blog Hop

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Whew. 2013 was a whirlwind year for us! We reflected on some highlights last night.

1) We became a family of four! It's been an adjustment, but life is fun with two kids.

2) We had a successful first year gardening. We grew a lot of fun stuff and have some of it put up for the winter. Butternut squash anyone?

3) We finished work on our master bathroom. It was a lot of work and ran a little over budget, but we couldn't be happier with the results!

4) Blogging! I started this blog 2 years ago, but have started getting serious about it. It's fun to share our story. And I love being able to blog for Grit!

And now for our "goals" for the new year!

1) Finally get those darn chickens. I've been in contact with two different local farmers who hatch chicks in the spring. I'm excited to avoid hatcheries and keep it local!

2) We want to expand our garden. Last year got us hooked. While we could do without weeding, the results are more than worth it. We'd like an herb garden, strawberries, and a test flower garden. We'd like to start a small flower farm and hope to test the waters this year.

3) Kole will be having a small tent at our local Farmers Market! He's so excited for it. We will be picking out seeds and helping him along the way.

4) We will be starting our vineyard. Our eventual goal is to make wine with our own grapes. We will start a few vines each year to reach that goal.

5) Continue to improve and finish stuff around the house. I'd like to do some landscaping and start doing some decorating inside. I might finally get around to some of those Pinterest projects after all.

What about you?  Will you be getting chickens? Starting to bake bread? A small container garden? Let me know in the comments!