Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

May your day be filled with sweetness, love, and fun!


ps - I'll be back blogging soon. I have a giveaway for a MyMemories software package and a blogger's award to pass forward (cuz the wonderful blogger that I am I got an award and then went MIA!).

Friday, October 21, 2011


I think I've said it before on here (like when I posted Easter outfits (boys) and (Em)) that I never wanted to be one of those moms who put her kids into matching outfits. I so lied to myself.

I can't help it. It's addicting, it's adorable, and I will continue to do this until they roll their eyes and call me a freak. Which unfortunately will happen sooner than I want it too.  :)


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Curly Scarf

In an attempt to get ready for winter in this chilly Wisconsin weather we're having lately, I crochetted a scarf for lil' Miss Em.

This is the Curly Scarf from Guide to Crochet from Chicks with Sticks. I did want it a little thicker so when I finished the last row, I repeated the pattern again using the original chain row so it's twice as wide. Following the original pattern directions would make a nice decorative scarf to wear with an outfit but doubling it (and using a little chunkier yarn) gave a nice weight scarf for this danged cold weather we're having (it's 36 degrees as I type this!).

Now I'm going to try my hand at a pair of mittens!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Pie in a Jar

A few weeks back, Sparing Change had a recipe for Apple Pie in a Jar. She's currently doing a gift series called 25 Weeks 'til Christmas about making homemade christmas presents. It's pretty cool and filled with lots of fun ideas. Like this week's Wire Candlestick Holders which I'm pretty sure I'll be making some for me for christmas decorating.

Anyways, I had some apples to use up so decided to play around with this recipe because it sounded absolutely delicious.

And it is delicious. Like lick your fingers delicious.

Apple Pie in a Jar

4 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch (originally calls for 1 cup but 1/4 cup worked just fine)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
10 cups water

I started by mixing together the ingredients above and bringing to boil. When it reached a boil, I reduced heat and let simmer and bubble until it was a nice, thick, goey consistency.

I cleaned and sterilized 8 quart jars and peeled and cubed apples until the jars were nice and filled up tight. Then I ladled the sauce over the apples and processed 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Then I had one jelly jar of sauce left over so I cut up an apple and stood in the kitchen dipping apple slices into it and then licking my fingers while making yum sounds to turn around and find the farmer leaning against the fridge with a smirky smile on his face. So I gave him a bite and he said, "Boy that's good." Then I went to wash my hands and came out of the bathroom to find the Farmer dipping apples and licking his fingers.

So yeah, it's really that good. 

It would be cute with a little ribbon and tag on it.

Or if you're like me and not sure if you want to share...try it over cheesecake.

Oh yeah, that's what I'm thinkin'.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My washing machine has super powers

My washing machine and dryer have cloaks of invisibility. Seriously, they only reveal themselves to me. I'm quite surprised they actually showed up for this picture.

Fortunately they did or there may be no record of them even existing at all! Unfortunately, the pile of towels and diapers do have a cloak of invisibility.

You may think I'm joking but I've asked other people in this house about them and they look at me like I'm quite odd. I try to explain them but I usually get a glassed over look like they've gone into a trance.

I've tried to figure out if there is a secret word or phrase that makes them reveal themselves so that I could share this secret with others but I've had no success in unlocking their magical powers. Is it the soap I use? Do they have a secret sniffer and can detect my scent??

At first I was quite offended that they only choose me. What a mundane task to be given. But then I realized that this is quite a gift. This secret that I share with my washer and dryer.

I'm honored! You've choosen me!!

It's kinda like the saying, "Money don't grow on trees."

I always think, "They must think the clothes just magically clean themselves!" BUT really, in their eyes they do!

The Farmer gave me the ol' stink eye while I was writing this and said, "So you think the garbage just magically disappears?"

And I looked at him like he was quite odd and said, "But it does! You see, I put the garbage outside the door and the next time I look it's gone!"

And then he said my eyes glazed over...


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spinning Out Honey

The Farmer started processing honey today. We don't use a lot (or any) fancy equipment. We've looked at it, but by the time we think we've made a decision about what we want, it's time to process so we just tell ourselves, we'll look at it again next year. And then next year comes and repeat.  :) The equipment can also be quite expensive.

So we have a system. And it works. We have a garbage can (we store honey supplies in here so the only thing it gets used for is honey). Inside (you'll see in a picture down below) is a frame that holds two honey frames and has a nut for attaching the drill.

This is a frame pulled from the beehive.

The Farmer uncapping the frames by scrapping with a dinner fork.

This will all be run through a strainer to get every last drop of sweetness. The honeycomb in the corner is gone because Con and Farmer have a sweet tooth for it.

The Farmer spinning out the frames. We (and by we I hope you all know that I mean the Farmer because I have no mechanical or construction abilities) need to add a frame across the top. There's no way I'm strong enough to hold onto this while it's spinning. The Farmer wanted me to try but only because he wanted to laugh at me while I flailed helplessly around the barrel.

The inside of the barrel. Let the barrel sit overnight so the honey all runs to the bottom.

A frame that has been spun out. We set these outside behind the shop and the bees will have these picked clean in a couple of days.

A collander, cheesecloth, and a stive (I think that's's the fancy collander for smashing juice out of fruit) to strain the honey.

Cute baby entirely optional but it's always nice to have someone sing with you while you work.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cornish v. Heavy Breeds

This year we raised what the hatchery calls a frypan special, which is a mix of heavy breed chicks. The reasoning for this is that is was approximately $27 for 50 birds versus $71 for 50 birds of the Jumbo Cornish Cross.

It's hard to calculate final costs when we raise animals because we grow field crops which are fed to beef cattle, the horses, the sheep, the turkeys, the goats, the ducks and the geese in addition to our meat chickens and our egg layers. We buy several bags of feed but again, this is divided among many different birds.

We also paid to have them butchered. While we've butchered our own in the past, there is a facility nearby that butchers, cleans, and bags the birds for $1.50 a bird. We drop them off by 7 am and we pick them up about 3 pm. If we were to butcher 46 birds, it would take the Farmer and I two days. If we had a chicken plucker, it would speed up the process significantly, however, right now it was just easier to choose to have them butchered by someone else.

One of the things I wanted to see was how long it would take these birds to mature to butchering size. We received these in the middle of April and they went to the butcher on Tuesday. That's 5 1/2 months. The birds are nice sized birds, around 3-4 pounds dressed.

Now this is where I think the cornish turn out to be a better deal. Jumbo Cornish Cross can be butchered at different stages depending upon what size you want. I've let some go up to 20 weeks and they weighed between 12 and 15 pounds. We pieced the birds and one breast was often enough for meals.

I'm more than grateful for the freezer full of meat. However, next year I think we will be switching back to the Jumbo Cornish.

Since I don't have any pictures of the chickens (I could go out and take a picture of my freezer but that's no fun), here's a couple of my two oldest out enjoying this beautiful weather we're having this week in Wisconsin. 

Last week, we were starting a fire in the woodstove at night and this week we're in t-shirts and flip flops! Gotta love fall! 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween Ghosts

I absolutely love this time of the year. Jeans and hoodies with flip flops, crunching through the fields with my kids looking at beautiful colors and the wonders of nature. I also like the holidays, the warm colors, the fragrant smells. And the desserts, I especially love the desserts and coffee, especially the fall lattes.

I also love the decorating and even more so now with kids. Yesterday we started on some ghosts. This is such a quick project, we have more in the works for today!

Elmer's Glue or ModPodge
Various sized jars or glasses
Markers or googly eyes, buttons, scarps or paper, etc.

Make a solution of glue and water (about 50/50).
Cut cheesecloth in desired size to drape over jar.
Submerge cheesecloth into glue solution and ring out excess.

Drape over jar. See the kitty in the corner of the picture? Yes, our animals are weird.  :)
Let dry.
Decorate and hang!


Monday, October 3, 2011


The farmer dug up horseradish root on Saturday. And it's been sitting on the kitchen counter giving me the stink eye because I wasn't really sure what to do with it. So this morning I've been digging around the internet learning about horseradish. Which isn't an easy thing to do since most of the "recipes" I found were for horseradish sauce.

The concensus I found was to grind the mixture to a consistency you like and add a mixture of vinegar and water. The vinegar keeps it from turning brown. Then it can be stored in a jar in the refridgerator for 4-6 weeks or stored in the freezer.

So this morning I tackled the horseradish. I peeled it with a potatoe peeler and cut it into chunks. I used a solution of 50-50 water-vinegar and added just enough to get it somewhat finely processed. I only have a little 2 cup food processor so it didn't get as fine or smooth as I wanted it. I'll borrow my mom's to do the rest of the root.

I transferred the ground up horseradish into a jelly jar to store in the fridge. There's quite a bit more horseradish to dig up so I'll have to find more uses for it. I know it's good in a Bloody Mary but since I have a Bloody Mary about once a year it would take a long time to use up all of it! It's also good with roast and prime rib! In my research this morning I saw where people would put a tablespoon into gravy and cranberry sauce and it's not supposed to get hot and saucy but give it a nice flavor. I will definately be trying that because the Farmer loves gravy and I love cranberry sauce.

There was one guy who said he put a tablespoon in vanilla ice cream...

By far, the quickest and easiest garden project this summer!