Archive for the ‘country living’ Category

Renewal and New Additions

I’m planning to renew my blogging on Kittrell Country Life with vigor. It’s been a busy winter around here and I’ve hardly had a chance to slow down, but life is settling some. We’ve had some new additions to the barnyard arrive last week. My daughter and I bought four hens from Walk Ahead Farms in Youngsville. I’m looking forward to having fresh eggs again.

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another nice arrival this month was the snow, for the first time all winter it finally snowed more than a few flakes. It was beautiful and we were glad to make snow cream to eat, but I’m ready for spring. It’s right around the corner, less than one month now. As usual about this time of year, I have some seedlings growing in the house.¬† The top of the dryer near the back door and the kitchen window sills get good light and turn into my nurseries in the spring.

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

The only plants I’ve started so far are roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and dark beauty eggplant. I’m planning to start more real soon. In case you’re not much of a gardener and didn’t know, you can use older seed. I’ve had pretty good results, better than 50%, but it’s best to plant at least 2 or 3 seeds per spot if you’re using seed older than a couple of years as some may not sprout. Some of the seeds I used this year were four years old.

Gardening is just one small part of homesteading I do. Homesteading is a lifestyle, which involves becoming more self-sufficient. This means being able to provide more for your own needs without having to rely so much on outside sources. Usually, most of us aren’t capable of becoming fully self-sufficient, but I figure the more I’m capable of doing, the better. Just don’t look for me to start making my own nails or homemade paper any time soon. ūüôā

As I continue to learn more about homesteading, I’ll share about things as I go along. There will definitely be some recipes and links to recipes coming soon. I’ve really been doing a lot of cooking from scratch and baking. Trying to be more frugal to save money in this economy is good incentive to learn to do things for yourself you may never have done before. I’ve even become pretty adept at making homemade bread.

I have several boards on pinterest if you’d like to go take a peek. My favorites are the Gardening board and the Favorite Recipes board. Both have a lot of ideas I’d like to try and some I’ve already attempted. I try not to spend too much time on pinterest, but I do like being able to pin ideas so I can find them easily.

 

 

 

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Cookies, Flowers, and Flops

Life has been busy and I’ve been working a little more, so there has been less time for my other favorite pursuits.¬† Oh, well, I’m just taking things day by day.¬† Thought I would share a bit from the kitchen and the great outdoors.¬† I’ll always somehow manage to find time for baking and gardening.

I love to try new recipes and am usually very good at following a recipe.¬† Every now and then I have a recipe flop.¬† I couldn’t figure out my flop till just now while writing this post, but oh well.¬† I made these lemon coconut cookies the other day and I love the flavor as well as it’s a nice chewy cookie.¬† It didn’t take long to get the dough ready and then it just has to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before you make them.

Lemon Coconut Cookies

Lemon Coconut Cookies

The batch of cookies I made did not raise the way they were supposed to, but I think I forgot to put the baking powder in, so no wonder the cookies didn’t raise up properly.¬† You can find the recipe over at the Once Upon a Recipe blog.¬† Even flopped, the flavor was so good I’m for giving it another try.

Another flop has been my garden.¬† It’s not done as well as I had hoped this year.¬† It’s probably a combination of not enough rain, maybe not enough fertilizer, poor dirt, and at present has a bit of excess weed growth.¬† I think I will start pulling up some things soon, which are done producing and see if I can’t start some plants for a fall garden.¬† Here’s a photo of my one sunflower, which grew this year.¬† It’s beautiful!

Sun Flower

Sun Flower

Squash, Zucchini, and Projects for the Day

Flower of the zucchini plant.

Flower of the zucchini plant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We finally had some much needed rain last night.¬† Some time after supper it began raining and it rained for hours.¬† I could hear it just pouring outside.¬† This is wonderful for the garden and I won’t have to water the garden today.¬† It’s also cooled it off nicely outside.

As you probably know, I planted the garden a little on the late side, so we haven’t had a chance to enjoy much from it other than a few salad greens and some herbs.¬† Well, we are finally getting a bit more from the garden.¬† Last night we had fried squash and onions with squash fresh from the garden.¬† It took a few days to get enough squash, but it was worth it.¬† There will be tomatoes and jalapenos soon too.

I have a couple of zucchini, which we decided not to fix in with the squash.¬† I’m thinking about making zucchini bread.¬† I love the taste of zucchini bread, I’ve just never made any.¬† This means finding a recipe and grinding some wheat.¬† The recipe will be easy and I’ll probably end up modifying it.¬† I usually do.¬† The wheat will take a bit more work.

I am blessed to have an electric mill, but the thing is so loud it sounds like an aircraft taking off.¬† It also spews flour dust in the kitchen even though I’ve changed the filter.¬† I’m not sure why it continues to do this.¬† The solution I’ve come up with to take care of both these problems is to grind the wheat outdoors.¬† I just plug the mill up to an extension cord outdoors and lug a pail of wheat out too.¬† It’s not so loud since it’s not in an enclosed space and who cares if you get a little wheat dust on the grass.

So I guess I have at least a few projects to work on today.¬† I’m going to add to the list, because I’ve realized I need to do a bit of garden research to answer some questions.¬† As I was doing my usual morning garden walk around, I thought of a few things I didn’t know the answer to.¬† One, would be if carrots and onions grow in the ground, how do you know when they are ready?¬† I’m also wondering how long do eggplant plants take to reach maturity?

If you’ve read some of my past blog posts, you might recall that the big garden is a bit of an experimental garden.¬† I’ve been playing around with companion planting and trying to grow some things I’ve never attempted to grow before, such as watermelons and pumpkins.¬† I’m going to try to keep notes, so I know what worked and what didn’t.¬† For example, I know in our garden dirt, beets and bunching onions don’t seem to like it.¬† Neither would grow this year.¬† One of the things I thought interesting about Thomas Jefferson was learning he kept journals about his gardens.

P.S. – How’s that for easy?¬† Found a couple of zucchini bread recipes(found below) as I was finishing up this post.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve learned while gardening?¬† Any experiments in your garden this year?…

Garden Vegetables…Fresh Produce Begins…

The garden is not producing a lot right now, but it’s beautiful.¬† Thought I would share some photos. I just came in a little bit ago from checking on the garden and doing a little weeding. Luckily I have not had much deer or rabbit damage this year.¬† Something nibbled a few leaves from one zucchini and one okra plant, but the plants look like they’ll be fine.¬† Here are some of the vegetables I picked this morning, a zucchini and a couple of squash.

Zucchini and Squash

Zucchini and Squash

This is the first year I’ve tried to grow watermelon and I’m so excited.¬† There are a few baby watermelons on the vines.¬† Here is the largest baby “sugar baby” watermelon in the garden. It’s about the size of a half dollar so far.¬† You can also see how hard and rough our soil is, but at least some things still manage to grow and feel at home in it.

A Baby "Sugar Baby" Watermelon

A Baby “Sugar Baby” Watermelon

Tomatoes are my favorite in a garden.¬† This year I planted roma and beefsteak tomatoes.¬† Here are a few of the roma tomatoes getting a little bigger.¬† I’ve been enjoying tomato sandwiches with greenhouse tomatoes from our favorite farmer friend, but I can’t wait to eat some with a fresh tomato straight off the vine.

Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

 

 

Garden Helpers…

There has been more rain and warmth, which is helping the garden to blossom.¬† The tomato plants are getting nice and tall with more flowers.¬† The other plants are growing taller as well, but not flowering just yet.¬† I can’t wait to be able to start eating some vegetables fresh from the garden.¬†

I usually go out first thing in the morning to look over the garden to see how it’s doing and make sure the deer or rabbits haven’t caused any damage.¬† I’m the early riser in the house, so it’s my chance for a bit of peace.¬† Our dog Savanna enjoys keeping me company and likes to wander about the garden as well.¬†

Gardening with Savanna

Gardening with Savanna

Yesterday evening it rained, but I managed to get a few gardening tasks done while it was still cool.  I put up a support for the cucumbers.  Next, my daughter and her boyfriend gave me a hand putting up the support for the green beans.  We barely made it, but managed to get done before the rain started.

Both supports were made from pieces of found fencing from previous gardening years.  We used pieces of twine to tie the sections of fencing to plastic stakes pressed in the ground.  The stakes are the black ones about 3 feet tall with a piece sticking out at the base above the spike, which is used to press your foot onto make it go into the ground.  We got them at the Tractor Supply store a couple of years ago.

The other thing we got done yesterday was to move the swing.¬† It’s under a nice tall tree for shade in the front yard and is in a good position for a nice view of the garden.¬† Love the swing!¬† No picture of the supports or the swing, I’ll have to post one another day, but here’s one of the largest squash plant in my garden.¬†

Squash

Squash

 

Catching Up and Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies…

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so I’ve been a little lax in my blogging and my gardening.¬† I’m back from a good trip to my mother’s.¬† My daughter and I went for her retirement ceremony.¬† She’s retiring after teaching school for about 12 years.¬† We had a good visit and it was nice it was just us girls.¬† No guys.

Now I’m playing catch up, which seems something I’m always busy doing.¬† I was very happy to find out this blog was nominated for a blog award from a fellow blogger.¬† I will try to do another post for it later today.¬† It’s on my ever growing¬†“To Do” list.¬†

This morning I got busy with the hoe and weeded four rows in the garden while it was still cool.  The big garden is coming along nicely with a minimum of deer damage.  The little shade bed has some beautiful bright pink impatients, which are in bloom.  The smaller herb bed, with a few vegetables mixed in, is doing nicely and needs some care.

As the weather continues to warm up some, hopefully there will be more fresh produce soon.  The small amount of peas I had planted are done and I need to plant some more.  We continue to have some lettuce and of course lots of fresh herbs.  I used some fresh chives the other day to make scalloped potatoes.   

Making Cookies

Making Cookies

Here is a picture from last week I had wanted to share.¬† It’s my daughter finishing up making some chocolate oatmeal drop cookies.¬† It’s a cookie more like a candy that we love.¬† Most of the time they set up, but sometimes they end up being spoon cookies(meaning so soft you have to eat them with a spoon).¬† The cookies did good this time.

It’s a good quick cookie, which can be made in a hurry.¬† We usually always have these ingredients on hand in our house.¬† Make sure to gather your ingredients before starting.¬† The peanut butter and oats should be measured out and sitting on counter ready to add when needed.¬† Prepare a flat surface (counter or kitchen table) with at least 3 feet of wax paper rolled out for cookies.

Put 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter in a pot and melt over medium heat.¬† Add in 2 1/2 c. sugar, 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder, and 1/2 c. milk.¬† I stir this continuously, bring to a boil.¬† After it’s boiled for 1 minute (often I do just a bit over a minute), take it off the burner.¬† Quickly stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter, and 3 c. whole oats (uncooked).¬†¬†Quickly drop¬†by¬†tablespoon onto waxed paper.¬† Makes about¬†3 dozen.

I say quickly a couple of times, because if the cookies are doing properly, they will set up¬†rapidly.¬† If the cookies start to harden up, the¬†ones you do towards the end will not be as glossy looking and will be harder to drop from the spoon.¬† It does not take long for the cookies to cool down and they should peel up easily from the waxed paper.¬† Love to eat a couple while still slightly warm with a glass of cold milk.¬† Yum…¬†

 

 

Hopes in Midst of Rain and Changes…

English: Hopes Reservoir The water, seen from ...

English: Hopes Reservoir The water, seen from the dam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today has hopes of feeling like a good day.¬† A slow gentle rain has been falling for the last several hours.¬† Of course, don’t have to go water the garden today, but couldn’t resist going out there to see how things are progressing.¬† It’s looking nice and almost all the seeds I planted are sprouting.¬† Only saw one bit of deer mischief….they ate my four broccoli plants.¬† It’s time to get busy with my anti-deer plans.

Guess it will be one of those housework catch up days with a bit of reading and writing thrown in the mix.¬† Still reading a book I picked up the other day at the used bookstore, a book of Sylvia Plath‘s Journals.¬† Maybe I can think of something delicious to bake up.¬† Baking is always good to do on rainy days when you can’t really do much outdoors.¬† Not complaining though, we so need the rain and I wanted it for my garden.

Well in other news, my household has recently grown.  My daughter and her significant other have moved in so they can work on getting other jobs and saving up a little.  The other additions to the household include their two dogs, one of which is still a frisky little puppy.  They are almost completely done with the moving part.  Just finishing up a few odds and ends over the next couple of days.  So far, so good.

Still trying to not worry so much even though it seems like things want to start falling apart in spurts and too many changes happen at once.¬† If you are in need of an uplifting song, here’s Drinking From My Saucer by Michael Combs.¬† It’s a wonderful reminder to be grateful, which a friend shared with me.