Monday, June 11, 2012

Re-working the Kitchen.... again

I have a love-hate relationship with my kitchen.  I love the long counters.  I hate the fridge and stove being next to each other.  I love its size.  I hate the layout.  I love all the cabinets.  I hate all the cabinets.  I know.  I know.  Poor me having too many cabinets!  ha!

I worked out the fridge and stove situation a couple months ago by removing a couple upper cabinets on a side wall which had no countertop below them and moving the fridge over to that spot.  And where the fridge was, I stacked those upper cabinets and created a free-standing pantry.  :D

As a side note, I also got my fridge running more efficiently by putting 3 milk jugs of water in the freezer and 4 milk jugs of water in the fridge.  But that's a whole other story.

The kitchen is laid out in an "L" shape, but there is a 3rd wall, making it a "U" shape.  But that 3rd wall isn't really a wall, it's a brick chimney and the fridge!  The working space is an "L".  There is a 4th wall, which I guess would make it a square, but it's not a wall that can be used, like for putting the table against it.  So the table is in the middle of the room and the main walkway from the backdoor to the front of the house is between the table and the wall.

And the cabinets, ugh!  I've lived in this house for 6 years and have moved cabinets about yearly.  I just can't get a good feel for them.  And when I'm cooking, I'm always running all over the place to get what I need.  So last week at the library, I happened to pick up "It's Here...Somewhere" by Alice Fulton & Pauline Hatch.   And OMGosh, these women have gotten me thinking about my kitchen in a whole new way called "centers" (cleaning, baking, cooking, eating, etc).  I love the new organization of my kitchen!!  (I think or at least for this year.  ha!)

Finally, all my baking supplies are in one "center" rather than 3 separate cabinets!  Everything I need to set the table is in one "center" rather than in 2 separate cabinets!  All my cooking supplies are right at the main counter area I use for cooking!  I love all the spices in the drawer where I can read all the labels rather than 3 or 4 deep in a cupboard.  Even with the list on the door, I never could find anything.  I don't really like the silverware tray being in the cabinet, but I ran out of drawers.  :(   Not to worry, I'll get it worked out.

My kitchen, I love it!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


.. specifically pullets.  They will be hens once they've laid their first eggs.

Here are 4 of the girls, but there are 7 total.  For now, they are free-ranging, but I do see a fence in their future.  There is a large, unused space between the coop and big barn which will be their area.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stuff and De-cluttering

"He is richest who is content with the least." -- Socrates

How true these words are.  The world we live in teaches us from toddler-age up to consume, buy more, eat more -- it will make you happier.  Yet we live in a world of more disease (physically and emotionally) than ever in history.  Diseases brought on by lifestyle choices, not by infection by bacteria or viruses. 

Are people generally happier now than people were 150 years ago?  I say 150 years because that is early in the industrial revolution, before life was made "better and easier" by "modern conveniences".

For myself, I'm scaling back.  For almost a year, I've been de-cluttering, selling, donating and giving away my stuff.  I don't need the stuff to make me happy.  And I've found that by having less stuff to maintain and keep up with, I have more time to spend with family and doing what I enjoy.  I'll know I've de-cluttered enough when I look around in my home and find I am surrounded by only things I love and/or use regularly.  I still have a ways to go, but it's getting better every day.

What about you, is your stuff making you happier?  Or is it time to do some de-cluttering?


Monday, March 19, 2012

good morning :-)

As I sit at my desk this morning, this is my view -- looking east as the sun is rising behind the woods in the distance.  There is a light fog on the fields.  The birds aren't singing their good mornings so it is very, very peaceful.

good morning  :-)


Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day of Tinkering Around the Homestead

I get so much more done when I get to work first thing in the morning.  I know it seems obvious, but it's just so easy to get distracted.  I tend to grab some breakfast and sit down in front of the computer while I am eating... majorly bad idea!  Next thing I know, it is time to make lunch, and I've done nothing productive with my morning.  Not good.

So this morning, by 8:30, I've already washed a load of laundry (would have hung it out, but that wind is cold), pushed Isabelle on the swing (did I mention the cold wind??), and baked a batch of granola.  When that batch cools, I have another batch to go in the oven (only 1 glass baking dish) and then it's on to baking more bread.

If it gets warm enough this afternoon, there are pallets in the barn to break down for lumber for upgrading the chicken coop.  I have 3 LR chairs to sell on craigslist and/or out by the road.  And I'm thinking about moving Isabelle from her crib to a bed.  I know she's getting big for the crib, but I don't know if she'll stay in a regular bed.  Well, either way, the big bed needs stripped and freshened.

I may also bake a cake or the apple pie I've been thinking about for a while.  Supper is going to be pot roast.  I have ground beef and chicken thighs to portion and get into the freezer.  So all-in-all, no big projects on the list today, but just a day of tinkering about the homestead.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking Day

Of the many tasks that make up homesteading, one of the most rewarding to me so far is cooking made from scratch meals.  Up until I made this conscious decision to really think about the meals I was preparing, I would just go to the store and grab boxes of prepared foods, stir in some ground beef or tuna, sometimes add a frozen vegetable and call it a meal.  But I'm learning that it's so much more than that.  I'm experiencing real pride and joy in the meals I'm preparing now.  And a part of those meals is the baking.

I started baking bread about a month ago and I was soooo surprised!  Surprised at how easy it really is.  It's really not difficult to bake bread, but it is time consuming.  The dough has to rise for about 2.5 hours and bake for 45 minutes plus mixing and kneading time.   So it's not an all day project, but I do have to plan accordingly.

I knew when I started baking bread I wanted a 100% whole wheat recipe, but when I looked on the back of the whole wheat flour, that's not what I found.  So I turned to the internet, specificly facebook, where I knew I had friends who bake.  Sure enough, within in the hour, a friend sent me a 100% whole wheat bread recipe.  I was in business!

The first batch was good, but tough and dense.  Looks good though, doesn't it?!

I would have liked it to be taller and not so heavy, so I returned to my facebook friends and they suggested longer kneading and rising times.  Success!!  The loaves I'm baking now are as tall as store bread loaves, but wider, have a light texture and they are delicious!  

We're going through 2 loaves in a week, so today I'm making a double batch (4 loaves) so I always have back-ups in the freezer.  There is nothing worse than going to make sandwiches for the hub's lunch and there is no bread.  :-(

Have you tried baking your own bread?  What surprised you most about it?

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

What Does Homesteading Mean

Remember The Homestead Act?  Free land to any man who farms it for 5 years!  woohoooo  No problem, right?!  Wrong.  Have you ever tried to cut sod with a single plow and 2 oxen?  Have you ever tried to build a house on a prairie where no trees grow?  Have you ever tried to survive a hard winter on only the foods you preserved (canned, dried, salted) yourself?  For 5 years??!!  That's not free, baby.  That's work.

Fast forward 100+ years and look at homesteading under a new light.  Homesteading light?  Maybe.  Instead of 80 or 160 acres, we're starting with 5.5 acres.  We don't have to build the house or the barn or the chicken coop.  They were built by previous owners.  We don't have to cut sod to plant fields for feed and fodder.  There is a local feed store and it's only 10 miles away.  We don't have to survive a hard winter on our preserved foods, but we are going to do our best.  Homesteading is still work.  But it's not the same work it was 100+ years ago.

Our goal on our homestead is to do as much of it ourselves as we can.  The more we learn about the foods offered at the grocery store, the more motivated we are to grow and preserve our own foods.  Gardening, canning, freezing, egg gathering, butchering, milking, repairing, building, more repairing, and most of all -- learning.  Learning and relearning what our ancestors knew about how to provide for their families.  And along the way, we may just find we're learning some important life lessons and just enjoying ourselves.

Welcome to our homestead.  It's March and time (well, past time) to start planning for spring planting (the garden) and chickens.