RSS

Always Moving Forward

Well, the building that was going to be our house, isn’t going to be our house, the well needs work, the wild pigs have invaded, the coyotes are too close for comfort, the land owner’s bank is being jerks, and our dog lost his battle to cancer.  That’s part of the long story, short.

As to the list above… we’re looking at our options, as we keep moving forward.  We’re still cleaning fence rows, beating back the brush, and cutting down trees.  (We bought a chainsaw!  CC has been having all sorts of fun with that!)  It would be very easy to let things like this discourage us and get us down, but we knew this wasn’t going to be easy when we decided to do it.  There really is very little that is worth having that you don’t have to work hard to get and keep…  Actually, I can’t think of a single thing.

That being said, we’re still committed to making our little homestead a reality.  Stay tuned to find out how we over come our hurdles.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 10, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

Tags: , , ,

Making Everything Work Together

IMG_0424It was straight up bribery and it worked!  I told BG if she would be good when we were moving I’d get her a kitten (read mouser).  She was amazing and so since things have started settling down and it was her birthday this week, I delivered; two for one.

Please, help me welcome the newest additions to H.S.H. (Home Sweet Home). The grey stripes is Velcro and the grey calico is Hellcat.  Yep!  That’s her name and they both earned them.  I understand that they look sweet and innocent in this picture.  Appearances are deceptive, watch your… well, everything!

That being said the old man who had them said their mother was a great mouser and that she’d already started feeding them fresh meat if you get my meaning.  For now they are living in the house, but when they get a little older, we’ll transition them into being indoor/outdoor kitties.

The other project that is moving up on the time-table is chickens.  We want to make sure that kittens grow up knowing that the chickens are part of the farm and not to be messed with, so CC and I are diligently working on putting together our chicken welcoming mat.

We’re also working on cleaning the place up and trying to get all the paperwork squared away with the bank.  I hate banks!

It all seems to be very slow going so far.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that we left the city at least partially because of health.  Some days a whole lot just isn’t going to happen, but those days are becoming fewer it seems.

A lot of our friends think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, but *shrugs* we’re still enjoying the flavor!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Getting Started

So we’re finally at the stage where we can begin in earnest.  CC has been demolishing bramble thickets and trimming trees like a madman!  With all the tree limbs, we decided to go ahead and purchase two young goats to help clean up.  Please welcome the newest members of the H.S.H. (Home Sweet Home) homestead.image image

Chili and Ice Cream are both Nubian/Sanaan crosses.  They have both been exposed to multiple bucks and we think both are going to give us goat babies in a few months (they have all the food they can eat and the only thing that gets bigger is their rather low hanging bellies).  Downside is: we don’t know what kind of buck they have been exposed to, so these first babies probably won’t be sticking around.  We went with Nubian’s because they have the highest milk fat content, while Sanaans are known for their production numbers.  Ice Cream’s mother consistently gives 1.5 gallons!  That’s a lot of milk, butter, yogurt, keifer, and of course… Ice Cream!  LOL

We got them for a good price, but again there was a downside to the bargain.  Neither one of them had been handled, so they were both fairly wild.  We are slowly winning them over with treats and scratches.  Chili in particular cries for treats every time she sees us.

It is amazing to me how quickly animals respond to positive reinforcement.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 5, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Impatiently Waiting

“I wanna sale out and move back to the country. I’m gonna get me a goat and some chickens!”

I’ve been telling everyone that for ages it seems. Well, we finally did it! As I posted before, the house sold very quickly and for more than we were asking. That means that we finally had the money to make our dream of a small homestead a reality!

As soon as we had the signed offer, I was dreaming of farm fresh eggs, homegrown veggies, and cold raw milk. Literally, dreaming of them. Many would call me crazy for that. I probably am crazy, but that is not why. Who wouldn’t want fresh, unpolluted food and a sky unclouded with a brown haze?

We decided to head back to my home country of East Texas, where the humidity is horrific to someone who has become use to the dry of the mountain desert. Oh well, I’ll just have to adapt because the pros by far outweigh the cons in this situation.

The property we’re buying seems tailor-made for our needs. There is a pole barn with a workshop that can be converting into a tiny house. Electricity, well, and septic system already in place. (Hallelujah!) A small shack for my gardening shed that I’ve been wanting. There is already some fencing in place for a goat pen.  It just needs a little work. There is also a pond that is spring fed and no one in the area no matter how old can remember it ever running dry.  In fact, it actually produces enough water to feed a second pond that is also on the property.

image The down side is that it has become completely overgrown, as in the blackberry vines and Sweetgum trees will cover you too if you stand still long enough. Of course, that’s also part of the reason for the great price.

Of course, now that we’re finally doing it, CC and I want it yesterday, so we fight to be patient. The upside of it going slowly is that it gives CC and I time to think though our moves, so that things happen in the right order. For example, I was surfing craigslist.org the other night and found 15 Black Astralorp pullets ready to start laying. These are the chickens I’ve researched and wanted all along. I’m not getting them because I have no place to put them yet. Sigh!

Hopefully, they will still be available when we get the coop put together. If not, I’ll order chicks from an on-line site that a friend recommended.  (I’ll let you know how they do, if I end up going that route.)

So here I am waiting (not so patiently) for the day to come when we sign on the dotted line and I can get started full steam ahead. Stay tuned for all the highlights, hilarity, and humdinger disasters to come!

And if you have any suggestions for getting rid of Blackberry vines that are taller than a 6′ person, do let me know!  Yeah that’s 6′ plus tall CC in the picture.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 27, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Home Sweet Home

I’m sitting on my mom’s front porch in East Texas as I write this.  The crickets and the neighbors tractor through the trees is a soothing symphony that has lulled our two dogs into sleep after a hard day of country dog living (sniffing EVERYTHING, peeing on every other thing, and digging up moles).  BG is playing in the yard and I’m not even remotely worried about it, which is a big switch from the city.  My biggest concern recently is if she bothered to put her shoes on before she went outside.

We chose to move to East Texas for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I know the area, having grown up here.  It also helps that my mom is looking to downsize and is going to sell us a great little property that has everything we could wish for.  Most people think of desert and oil wells when they think of Texas, but Texas has a lot more to offer than that.  Texas has coastal wetlands, rolling hills of grass and wildflowers, a seemingly endless expanse of grass, and then you have the piney woods where tall Pines mingle with mammoth Oaks, gracious Magnolias, and delicate little Dogwoods.

It is the middle of November and while there is a little bit of bite to the air as night comes on, the grass is still green and BG has just brought me a small bouquet of purple flowers.

image

The plan was to start living that more relaxed lifestyle that we’d been dreaming about and I have to admit, we’ve been having some issues with that.  Habit has been formed and now we have to build new habits.  The habit was to go, go, go and that just doesn’t work here.  Everything moves at a slower, more natural pace and I have to admit, I’m loving our new Home Sweet Home.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

Tags: , , , ,

SOLD!

We’ll be closing on our house this coming week and if that seems fast to you, consider how I feel!  The house market it apparently smoking hot because we had three offers within three days of putting the house on the market.  I’ve always maintained that when the time is right, things will fall into place.  Let me tell you…  This has only strengthened that belief.

Everything is going so well, CC and I are both slightly dazed, but that hasn’t stopped us from snapping and snarling at each other.  The stress of getting everything together has been horrendous, but we knew it was going to be, so we’ve been really clear about not getting to upset about being short with each other.  That’s gone a long way towards keeping the peace.

Now let’s talk turkey.

We’ve hauled away four to five times the amount of stuff that we’re taking with us.  Good stuff.  Stuff that someone somewhere is going to be overjoyed to have.  When we started there was a horrible feeling of insecurity that went with getting rid of it all.  We’d put something on the pile to go with us because we couldn’t bear to part with it, but as the hours and possessions passed, we’d revisit the “going” pile and pull stuff out and shake out heads at ourselves.

Many of you might be thinking that we’re paring down to nothing, but that simply isn’t the case.  I’ll give you a good example.  I have a hand-crocheted wall hanging of my last name.  It’s beautiful!  I’m not taking it.  Why?  Because as beautiful as it is and as much as I appreciate the time and effort and thought that went into the making and giving of this gift, it is NOT my ‘style’.  I’m not in love with it.  I’ve kept it because I felt bad about throwing it out.  For someone else, it might be just the thing, but for me…  not so much.  CC and I discussed it and we concurred, that it just wasn’t our thing.  On the other hand, I have already packed up my seed collection and the baby doll that my grandmother made for me when I was a little thing.

The difference is love.  There is no point in having a bunch of stuff that you don’t really love cluttering up your life.  It weighs on your mind, even if you never consciously think about it.  I know because my load is lighter with every load we haul to the thrift store and each treasure that I unearth from the clutter.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Someday has finally come!

CC and I have been saying for years that we were going to sale out and move back to the country where we belong, but we kept putting it off for this reason and that reason.  Lately, my health has become such that putting it off is no longer an option.  We have to get out of the rat race and move to a more laid back life.  We’ve had some concerns about uprooting BG, but in the end we don’t think it is really going to be a bad thing.  Let’s face it, we’ll all be much happier when she’s got more room to run around.  There is going to be some adjustment, but honestly there isn’t one of us that this move isn’t going to help.

We’ve put the house on the market and despite the fact that we’re in the process of sorting and packing, it will start being shown today.  I’m embarrassed for people to see it looking like it does, but who knew we had so much crap!  I mean, I knew we had a lot of stuff we didn’t need, but this is ridiculous.

I’ve found shoes that wouldn’t have fit BG last year and the worst part?  She never wore them!  They were in a box full of clothes that we were waiting for her to grow into.  We never even opened the box when any of it would fit her.  In our defense, she has a grandmother that sends several boxes of clothes every month.  Still no excuse.

 

We also have a lot of duplicates.  We have them because this one doesn’t do this very well, but it is great for this and so on.  For a laugh, I took a moment and looked at what a good one would cost that did all these things well.  I wasn’t laughing.  For the price I spent on all the cheap ones, I could have had one good one that did everything well.  I know exactly how it happens.  I see the price of the quality item and quell.  Instead, I buy the cheap one and when I get it home, I’m not happy with how it does this or that.  Then I go out and spend more money for one that says it fixing that problem.  The only problem with that is that is doesn’t do something else as well as the first one, so I wind up keeping both of them.  If I had just spent the money in the first place, I could have had one that did everything well.  I know, you know what I’m talking about.  I didn’t use an actual item in this example because there were too many of them.
The whole process would be too depressing, if it were not for the fact that getting rid of the crap is such a relief.  You literally feel like you’ve shed actual physical weight.  This feeling of relief made me realize that all those self-help and organization gurus are absolutely correct; having less is more freeing.

What this means for us moving forward boils down to several key points.

  1. Assess everything that we want to bring into the house for function and quality.
  2. Assess everything we have on a regular basis to see if it is still relevant to our lives.
  3. Change our mindset of more being better.  (Quality beats quantity.)

The thing that I’ve learned from this is that spring cleaning is not a joke.  It is important in this day and age to assess constantly.  We, as a society, live in houses that are so much bigger than what we really need that we accumulate stuff we don’t need.  Let me explain.  There are three of us and we’ve been living in (half of) a 1700 square foot house.  Half of that total is downstairs.  Do you know how much we actually used downstairs?  Two rooms; one was the laundry room and the other was filled with our books.  We’ve gotten rid of no less than three huge boxes of books just because we don’t read them, they aren’t that good, and we don’t want to move them.  That’s sad.  We’ve had those books for at least the three years we’ve lived here and we don’t even want them!

So let’s look at the math.  Assuming that the library and the laundry room take up half of the basement, that’s about 425 square feet.  Add that to the upstairs that we actually use and you come up with 1275 square feet.  That’s not that big of a house by American standards.  CC and I discussed it and what we came to realize is that if we had more land outside out house, we’d spend more time outside, which means you could probably shave even more off that number.

Smaller house – less money spent.  Less crap – less money spent.  Less money spent – less money needed.  Less money needed – more options for everything!  Think about it!  If you didn’t have to pay for all that crap that you really don’t use or want, would you still have to work as hard?  Would you be able to live on the income from the job that you’d really enjoy, but maybe doesn’t pay as much as you currently need?  Could you cut back to part-time?  How much (in money and other stuff) is your lifestyle costing you?  Do you really love it that much?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 8, 2015 in A Penny Saved, Thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Neater is Nicer

Displaying image2.JPGHave you ever noticed that your mind is clearer when your house is cleaner?  I have seen a direct correlation between the clutter level to the overall emotional vibe in our house.  I’ve also seen that when my daughter’s room is a mess, she doesn’t want to play in her room.  For that reason, I cleaned everything up, got rid of a bunch of toys that she’s outgrown, and organized everything else.  She now loves playing in her room.  Imagine that!

Now keep in mind, my daughter is three.  That means that she has the attention span of a knat.  Yeah, maybe not even that good some days.  That being said, with a little help in the direction category and some repetition, she is now reliably picking up her own toys and putting them away.  She’s a little unclear on my organizational pattern, but that’s okay because I haven’t stepped on a lego in weeks!

What’s more she seems to take pride in having done it.  I base this on the fact that she dances about the house crowing “I did it!  Mommy, I did it! Didn’t I?”

The added benefit is that she sees that her whole family is happier when the house is picked up.
Many people think that three is too little to be expected to help clean, but my daughter loves to help.  By letting her help, I’m instilling work ethic and good practices (i.e. clean up after yourself).  She holds the dust pan when I sweep, she helps water the houseplants and garden, and she even helps Displaying image4.JPGempty the dishwasher.  Will she still love it when she’s 13?  Probably not, but hopefully by then it will be a habit that she takes with her, her whole life, so that she never has to live in a pig sty like seems to be the image of college dorm life.

I say this as someone who was not taught this (with any consistency) as a child.  It’s a hard habit to learn as an adult.  I want to make my daughter’s life easier in the long run, so for now I will make it hard on myself by reminding her every night before bed to pick up and put away her toys.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Baby Genius

 

Tags: , , , ,

Gluten-free Lasagna

img_0401I may have mentioned that I’m gluten intolerant.  I have only recently learned this, so I am still finding my way when it comes to gluten-free cooking.  So here is my latest find and associated recipe.

First things first, you’re going to need marinara.  I make my own, but you could just as easily buy the jar stuff.  What ever floats your boat!  For my household, I find that the Italian sausage that I buy, while delicious, is a little too much flavor wise.  I remedy this by adding in plain ground pork that I get from the regular old meat department at my local grocery store.

What you’re going to need:

4 cans marinara

3 lbs Italian Sausage, ground pork, or hamburger

6 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese

2 large cartons Ricotta or cottage cheese

You’ll notice I do up a lot!  These amounts make two huge pans of lasagna.  We typically eat one and freeze the other for those days when cooking just isn’t going to happen.

Step One:  Fry up your Italian sausage/pork/hamburger in a pan and add it to the marinara. Make sure that all the meat hunks are very small (otherwise your noodles won’t lay right as you are layering).

Step Two: Cover the bottom of your casserole dish with sauce.  This keeps the noodles from baking onto the bottom of the pan.  I always make sure that I have a good thick coating because I can’t stand baked on noodles (eww, gross!).

Step Three: Lay out a layer of noodles to cover the sauce.  You don’t have to cook them or anything.  Just take them right out of the box and start layering.  Try to cover the whole area, even if you have to snap off little pieces of noodle to make it work.  You can even snap these in half long-ways if you need to.  Keep the pieces that you snap off for filling in the smaller holes.  You’ll understand what I mean as soon as you start doing this step.  It is kind of like a puzzle, only you have to make some of the pieces to fit.

Step Four:  Once you have the noodles layered on the way you want them, sprinkle your shredded cheese across the top of the noodles.

Step Five: After the shredded cheese, you want to layer on your ricotta or cottage cheese.  The best way I’ve found to do this is to spoon out like dobs of cheese and then use the back of the spoon to smear it about.  Be careful because if you use too much pressure, you’re going to disturb your lower layers.

Step Six:  Layer your sauce, noodles, and cheeses again and again until you’re below the top edge of the pan (it likes to boil over), ending with a final layer of sauce.

Step Seven:  Top with shredded cheese and pop it into the oven at 375 degrees.  Let it cook for about 1 hour sometimes a little more.  It depends on the thickness of your sauce, in my experience.  If you think it is done, use a butter knife and poke at the very center.  If the noodles are still the least bit hard, cook it some more.

Step Eight:  Once your lasagna is done, pull it out and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Otherwise, you’re going to burn the crap out of your mouth because it is going to taste so good!

Enjoy and let me know how it turned out!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Recipes

 

Tags: , , , ,

Leeks All Summer

So one of the things that you can grow from kitchen scraps is leeks.  All you have to save is the smallest part of the white with the attached roots.  You know, that part that you cut off and throw in the trash or compost pile.  Put it in water and watch it sprout.  Once mine sprouts up good, I moved them to a raised bed outside that gets lots of light.

Now when I want leeks, I simply walk out my front door and snip off a plant or two about an inch above the ground.  Within days, it had already sprouted right back up from the stump.  With four plants, I’ve had all the leeks I’ve wanted this summer.  However, I didn’t really understanding how to cook with them.  Since I’ve had them and learned how they flavor food, I’m going to need more.  With that in mind, the next time I go to the grocery store, I’ll pick up a bundle and pop the scraps into water, which brings me to my next thought.

I’ve already started noticing a yellow tinge to the leaves, which is always my first cue that fall is here.  I’m going to want leeks this winter.  Instead of adding this new bunch to the established bed in the yard, I think, I’ll try to start them in a planter in the window.

Once, I get the ones started in the window, I’ll probably try to bring the ones in the yard into the house.  We shall see how that works out for me.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 17, 2015 in In the Garden

 

Tags: , , , , , ,