Monday, September 14, 2015

A New Reason to Slow Down

Soooo......I love being in the kitchen. It helps relieve stress and I love cooking up good, healthy food for my family. For my birthday two years ago, my hubs got me an electric pressure cooker. It's been a delight to use, especially when cooking up our dried beans from the garden.

Rewind to Friday evening. I was cooking some Calypso beans from last summer in the pressure cooker for some homemade baked beans. I had the chicken cooking all day in the crock pot and everything was ready to go for the baked beans, except the beans weren't quite ready. I released the pressure from the cooker and *thought* that there was enough released to open the lid. My first indication that the lid was still on somewhat tight should have made me stop. But, it didn't. I had two hungry kids and it was a beautiful day and I wanted to get dinner on the table so we could play outside until bathtime. Well, turns out, the cooker was not ready to be opened. As the lid released, boiling water spurted out all over my chest, arm, and thighs.

Fortunately, my kids and husband were playing in the living room and were nowhere near me. They also had no idea what happened until I screamed and was ripping my clothes off to run to the shower. I tried to run cold water on it, but it hurt too bad. When my husband realized what had happened and looked me over, he quickly ushered the kids ready and we got in the car to go to Med Express.

Luckily for me, the water did not hit my face or eyes. I do have 1st and 2nd degree burns, but it could have been far, far worse. I was prescribed pain medicine and some antibiotic cream and sent home with instructions to focus on "pain and protection." Since it hit the front of my legs, pants are out of the question. Luckily, I am a skirt and dress wearing fan for the summer and so, I've been ok so far. The pain medicine was really unnecessary as well (after my c-section, I only used Tylenol...).

I was reluctant to share this because it is somewhat embarrassing to make such a foolish mistake. But, as I spoke to my friends over the weekend and they saw the damage, not one person told me it was foolish or stupid. Everyone was relieved that it was not any worse and wished me well in my recovery. And while I hope to not have any major scarring from the incident, I will use any scar I have as a reminder to slow down. Life moves fast enough as it is, I don't need to rush things.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What's on the Needles - Sept 7

It's back! I'm starting back up my weekly "What's on the Needles" posts! Knitting really helps keep me centered and the benefits of knitting are numerous. Sharing with you helps me even more!

I've really grown to enjoy knitting socks. I used to collect toe socks as a teen (are those still a thing?!), so I think my adoration has been longstanding. I really like the way these self striping yarns knit up. I recently finished one sock and am going to cast on the second this afternoon.

What's on your needles?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Fall Planting

Happy Labor Day! I don't know about where you live, but the weather here today made it seem more like the 4th of July than Labor Day. We took advantage of somewhat cooler temperatures this morning to get out to the garden.

After reading Mother of a Hubbard and seeing all of Kathy's success with her eastern Kentucky winter garden, I've been itching to try my hand at it. Two weeks ago, we planted some beets and peas. The peas are starting to come up nicely. From what I've read, fall peas are far superior to spring planted ones, so time will tell!

I got some kale, spinach, swiss chard, and lettuce in the ground. I hope to do some succession planting of the lettuce and perhaps purchase some corn salad to plant in a few weeks. I also will be ordering our row cover this week. Despite the forecasted high of 96 tomorrow, cold weather will be here before we know it!

We also need rain - badly! We have 6 rain barrels and they are pretty much empty. We were able to set up our soaker hoses, so that will help out in keeping the newly planted seeds moist and ready to germinate.

Every time I go to the garden, I am accompanied by Chip. He slithers in through the fence. After the planting was done and the soaker hoses connected, I sat down for a minute to rest and watch the hoses do their thing. Chip decided it was prime time for some cuddling, and so we sat and enjoyed some quiet time alone. A rare occurrence around here!

How about you? Are you trying your hand at a fall or winter garden? 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

2015 - The Year of the Tomato

The last two years, our tomato harvests have been pretty abysmal. Our first year, the wacky weather killed off a lot of our plants. Last year, without the fence, the chickens annihilated any chance of tomatoes. So, this year! This year! With remineralizing our soil (yes, I know, I need to dedicate a post to that!), our garden has been doing awesome. That and the fence.

Since we love tomatoes and tomato products through the winter, I came into this summer prepared. I started some of my own plants and bought other heirloom varieties from a farmer friend. All in all, we started the summer with 2 dozen tomato plants. Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Bonny's Best, Pineapple, Black Krim, German Johnson, Amish Paste, Italian Heirloom, Stupice, Gold Medal, San Marzano, Sun Gold, and Black Cherry have all outdone themselves this year.

While I haven't been weighing each harvest to keep track, I do know we used 48 pounds for barbeque sauce and ketchup. We have 12 quart bags frozen of roasted tomato sauce and 14 jars of plain tomato sauce canned. We like to keep things plain around here so we can spice them up when we use them this winter. Our plants show no signs of stopping and I'd guess we've harvested at least 300 pounds.

We've also harvested 100 pounds of potatoes, 3 pumpkins, 18 Delicata squash, and we could actually grow decent carrots this year! How did YOUR garden do?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Great Garden Project

Last year, our garden got totally annihilated by our chickens. It was totally our fault as we didn't have an adequate fence in place. And once those gals got the taste for heirloom tomatoes, they refused to share them. So, we plotted and planned over the winter.

Ever since we bought this property 6 years ago, Dan has had dreams of putting in a small vineyard for making his own wine. He decided that this was the year. As we were talking about the addition, we knew it would need to be fenced as well as the garden. So, to save some labor, he placed the vineyard next to the garden so it could be fenced as one.

The first layer of fence was installed before we planted the grapes so that the chickens or deer wouldn't just rip them up. As added protection, a second fence is being placed five feet away with an additional buried fence to deter any burrowing rodents.

Dan planted 21 grape plants - seven for white wine, seven for red wine, and a mixture of seven for fresh eating, jelly and juice.

The grapes arrived looking like dead sticks with roots as they were dormant one year plants. Once they were in the ground, they took off. They are looking great! Once the outer fence is up, Dan will build in his trellis system. And hopefully in a year or two, we will be enjoying some delicious grapes!

I've been working with a gardening friend of mine in Vermont on nutrient dense gardening techniques and we've done a lot of work on our soil so far. That's a whole other post, but I'm super excited for the garden this year!

I've gotten most everything planted except for the peppers and tomatoes we started and the okra. The tomatoes are caged and mulched with straw.

The onions are rocking so far and I've mulched around them as well.

The kids planted sunflowers and I planted zinnias. I'm hopeful for the zinnias - I had some nice ones growing last year before Dan decided to hoe them away...

Once all of the seeds are up, I plan to weed well and mulch around everything. Last year, we didn't have any success getting our peppers to germinate. This year, since each of our kids would eat their weight in bell peppers, we were determined to get some started. A heat mat worked wonders and we've had great germination success. The little plants are outside so they will be ready to go in the garden hopefully this weekend.

Whew...there's a lot more to talk about, so I'll save it for another post! How is YOUR gardening coming along?

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Root Cellar

Happy March! And I sure hope you February rocked as well. I know I haven't been updating much lately. There's not much exciting happening around these parts other than winter. Cold. Snow. Slick driveway. Let's just say I tend to become a hermit over the winter. And I really believe SAD is a real thing! 

The chickens are getting coop fever. They can get out on a path I shoveled, but they're bored. The dog lays around and sleeps all day. The kids really need aired out. The forecast has some warmer temps coming up and I couldn't be more thrilled. 

We have a few projects we've been working on. Namely some basement projects! When we built the house, we knew we wanted a root cellar. What's the point of growing a lot of good food if you don't have a place to put it? So, Dan recently put in some shelving. Let's just say it made a huge difference. He had some big plans for his wine storage in there as well, but this helped us majorly clean things up. Now, just to see those jars filled with food!

He also framed up a storage closet. The pictures aren't terribly exciting, so I won't bore you :-) Our next big project is the kids bedroom. We are getting some bunk beds this weekend and have some major closet organization planned. I guess there's more going on than I thought! 

Check back this week and I'll show you the curtains I sowed up as well as tell you what happened to Rex Roo!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2014: A Year in Review

Hey, look at me...the cool kid putting up my year in review post 18 days after the new year! Since it's about time for those new years resolutions to have fizzled out, grab yourself a cookie or two and check out what happened last year!

The new year started off COLD! And snowy. And I had an incredible case of cabin fever. As in, I was looking for villas in Italy and farms in France. I was convinced we needed to move to Europe. If you ever get bored, search for French farms. You can get some nice ones with 200 year old farmhouses.

But, I digress. 2014 for us was the year of the chicken. This was the year we were finally going to make the plunge into the world of poultry. It started by Dan planning and building a passive solar designed chicken coop. We had intended to get 20 Buff Orpington chicks from a local farmer, but she had some issues with her hatch. We instead for 3 chicks. While I had hoped to keep a flock of just Buffs as we read nothing but good things about them, I got bit by the feed store bug and ended up bringing home 8 assorted chicks. A local friend and her family were moving across the country, so we adopted their 10 hens. It was fantastic because we started with eggs right away instead of waiting! I recently wrote a blog for Grit about our foray into chickens. Check it out!

The garden wasn't anything to write home about this year. We had hopes of fencing in the garden, but any efforts were immediately crushed by the chickens. Once they got a taste for the was all downhill. We did harvest 80 pounds of potatoes and dried beans. I guess those are things that are unappealing to our flock!

We have been in fresh eggs since we have gotten our girls (and Rex!). Rex has proven to be an enigma, but is doing well now and has been taking good care of his girls. The girls have not taken any breaks from laying and we have learned that molting is rough. But, we are now those weird chicken people. My husband takes eggs to work and I'm already planning for a few colored egg layers for the spring!

When my kids give me the chance over the next few days, I'll be sharing with you our plans for the new year and a really cool website I've found!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And happy anything else I might have missed in the last few weeks! Things got really crazy over the holidays with family visiting and time has gotten away from me. But, I'm back! And ready to share new and fun things with you all!

This past week was COLD! We are so fortunate we have a woodstove because the sun was pretty darn shy this week. Between keeping the woodstove stoked and making sure the chickens were fed and watered proved to be a tiring week for me. But, the temperatures are rising and the chickens were out pecking around today. We were out planning out our vineyard and fencing options for the garden. It is shaping up to be a really exciting spring between garden fencing, remineralizing the soil, and putting in our orchard and vineyard.

I hope to get a year end recap up this week - you know, only 2 weeks late. And I'll share with you an exciting Christmas gift. And our new years goals. Wow. I have a lot to catch up on! But, it is all exciting and I hope you'll check back to come along for the ride.

Although the sun hasn't been out much, there have been some pretty awesome sunsets. That's one of the best parts of living on the hill!