Saturday, March 31, 2012

Did You Know . . .

American kids today can identify 1,000 corporate logos but less than 10 plants and animals that live around their homes.

Yikes!  But, as a parent, I believe it.  So, if that's not an argument for trading in a trip to McDonald's  for a picnic lunch and nature walk, I don't know what is!   Or perhaps, as I plan to do Saturday, take the kids with you to the garden center to select some great options for filling those garden pots. 

Statistic courtesy of William Powers' 12x12:  A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream

Friday, March 30, 2012

DIY Herbicide

Roundup, oh, Roundup, how terrible are you for our environment?  Let me count the ways.  (Actually, I'm not going to preach right now about the importance of avoiding Roundup, but if you're interested, pick up the April issue of Mother Earth News and read the article about the Genetically Modified Seeds and Roundup Resistant crops and why they're bad news bears. 

Anyway, we wanted our weeds growing in sidewalk cracks to meet a more earth-friendly demise this year, so we concocted some of our own herbicide spray.  WARNING:  do not spray this in your garden.  It is not desciminating and will kill everything green in its path.  This makes it a great option, though, for sidewalk cracks and edging. 
Get ready.  The recipe is very difficult.  Got your paper ready?  (Are you sensing the sarcasm yet?)
The concoction is just equal parts dish soap, salt, and white vinegar.

We just mixed it all together,  but the salt took awhile to dissolve.  When we make it next time, I will heat the vinegar on the stove before adding the salt. I think that would help it dissolve faster.

Then, add to a spray bottle (for small jobs) or a sprayer (for larger jobs) and say goodbye to those stubborn weeds.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Old Frame Gets a Makeover

This project all started with this old frame which came to me courtesy of my mom.  (Thanks, Mom!)  The goal was to create a crackled, antique effect for the frame and use it as a chalkboard to hang by the front door.

 First, I dissassembled the frame and painted the glass with chalkboard paint.

Next, I painted the frame with a dark brown paint.  This is the color that will show through the cracks of the top color when it's all done.

After I allowed that to dry for a few hours, I put a thick coat of Elmer's School Glue on the frame. 

I let the glue dry until it was tacky but not runny, then painted the top color, being careful to brush in only one direction (either left-to-right or right-to-left, but not back and forth)

For my top color, I chose an off-white (because I already had it).

When the glue under the topcoat dries, it pulls the topcoat apart and makes a crackle effect.  I'm just now realizing that you can't actually see it very well in this picture.  Sorry.  But, I am in the middle of a wreath project that will hang next to the chalkboard, so I promise, dear readers, to get a better photo of the frame when I post about the wreath.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scary Places!

At the risk of sounding like a horrible housekeeper and thus mother, I need to make a confession.  I have scary places in my house.  These places frighten me because they are dark and seldom accessed and thus they are never cleaned.  However, during this round of spring cleaning, I am facing my scary places head on.  For example, under the stove.  I mean, it's just dark and weird under there.  I confess that if a crumb or marble or silly band bracelet makes its way under there, I will not be reaching my hand into the dark abyss to retrieve it if it's not visible.  It's just considered lost.  But, this is the kind of thing my spring cleaning has been all about this year.  Do you have scary places, or is it just me?

Also, while I'm getting things off my chest, I should add that my "spring cleaning" is a bit misleading.  I was confessing to my mom that I've been cleaning things that I haven't cleaned in a LONG time.  She tried to comfort me and help me feel like not such a bad housekeeper by reminding me that "they call it 'spring' cleaning for a reason."  The implication, of course, is that it's something done once a year.  If that's the case, then perhaps what I'm doing is Leap Year Cleaning, because I'm doing some stuff that just doesn't get done every year. 

What can I say?  I love an organized closet, drawer, or cabinet, but I'm not nearly as concerned about dusting them.    And, that is why, when I clean, I reward myself by also getting to re-organize the cleaned spaces.
Ahhh.  A place for everything and everything in its place!  If you are not one for organization, please allow me to make a suggestion.  Start with your silverware drawer.  It's probably the drawer you open most often in your house.  Thus, your organized drawer will make you smile an average of 7 times a day (or however many times you open it), and it just may inspire you to organize some other spaces.  Maybe even your scary spaces.  ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

French Onion Soup for the CrockPot

Yes, the CrockPot love continues!  This recipe is an old favorite at our house that I've just recently started making in the CrockPot.  I've made it so many times that I don't even have to reference the cookbook anymore to make it.  I love it when I get to that point with a recipe.  (Although, maybe that's an indicator that I'm stuck in a recipe rut.  Hmmm.  Anyway, I digress.)

Be sure you've gathered up all the following ingredients:
1/4 c. butter
3 onions (yellow or red)
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 c. red wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
carton of beef broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 slices of toasted French bread or other crusty bread
6 slices of Swiss cheese (or you could use 6 oz. shredded Gruyere, if you want to be fancy:)

Thinly slice your onions.  I try to spend as little time chopping raw onions as possible, so I just pop mine in my food processor.

Now, I suspect that you could just throw everything in the CrockPot, set it on low and have a yummy dinner ready by 5:30, but I can't say that I've actually tried that.  I melt my butter in a large saucepan on the stovetop and add the onions, sugar, wine, and garlic.  I cook these until the onions are softened, 10 minutes or so.  Then, I transfer it to the CrockPot.  Add broth, salt, and pepper.  Cook on low until dinner time.

 When you're ready to serve, ladle your soup into 6 oven-proof bowls and top with toasted bread and cheese slices.  Place all bowls on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling.  Broil on low for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.

I do not like any crunch to my onion soup, so I love cooking it in the Crock Pot because the onions are nice and soft.   You could pair this with a fancy Panini or something, but it's a pretty hearty soup, so we usually just have a big salad on the side.  I love that it's a no-frill recipe with ingredients that I usually have on hand and yet is so good!  If anyone decides to try this recipe using the just-dump-it-all-in-the-CrockPot method, please report back and let me know how it went!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hori hori!

My thoughtful husband gave me a hori hori for our anniversary!  What?  You've never heard of a hori hori?  Well, let me fill you in.  By the end of this post, you'll be wondering why your significant other has never thought to give you such an amazing gift!
Featured in the March/ April issue of Hobby Farms, a hori hori is "one of the most versatile tools a gardener can possess."  In Japanese, hori means "dig," so I'd say it's aptly named.  According to the article, the hori hori can be used for "dividing perennials, slicing tree and shrub roots, prying rocks, hacking open plastic bedding bales, and more." 

More expensive versions are sold on Burpee's website, but my hubby was able to find one made by Fiskars at Wal-mart for much cheaper.  Apparently, they don't know what it's called, though, so it's on the shelf as a "Multi-Purpose Planting Tool."  According to the tag, it's features include  . . .
-- a trowel blade for planting
-- a serrated edge for digging and cutting
-- a forked tip for weeding
--a large, soft grip for added comfort and control

I'm sold!  I haven't had opportunity to use it yet, as I just unwrapped it, but I am already having visions of myself wielding it wildly in the garden, ripping open mulch bags, and unleashing my fury on those weeds that dare creep into my garden beds!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Garden Update

Several early spring veggies have now been planted out in the garden, including spinach, lettuce, Swiss Chard, carrots, radishes, and more.  Also, these sweet potato vines have just been added.  To see how these beauties began, click here.
Also, the strawberry beds are really greening up and looking great.

Oops!  I took the kids away for a few days over spring break and came home to find asparagus stalks 3 feet talld!  Oh, well.  There do seem to be some more new ones coming up that we'll be able to enjoy soon -- probably tomorrow, as fast as they grow.  :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Color Pop!

Our house is decorated mostly in neutral colors.  This is especially true of our living room (now that it is painted cream rather than blue).  So, for spring, I thought I would inject a bit of color into our living room.  I decided to go with yellow because 1.) it epitomizes spring for me 2.) I love yellow! 3.) I can't wear yellow well.  It just doesn't look good on me.  But, it turns out, it does look good on my sofa!
All told, this little living room spruce-up cost me $6.61 (one can of spray paint and 3/4 yard of yellow burlap to recover the pillow).

I used the spray paint to yellow-fy two frames, one decorative bowl, and two lovely birdies.

Placed at random throughout the room, these little pops of color really bring spring to the living room!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

My hubby and I have been married for 11 years today!  So, I thought it seemed like a fitting time to blog another answer to a question I didn't get to at my talk with the Jonesboro MOPS:

"How do you convince your husband to go along with all this?"

This question made me laugh.  I  love it! 

Let me start with this.  John often reminds me that "we grow and change."  The idea, of course, is that life doesn't remain the same.  As individuals we aren't static.  We are constantly learning and doing and living and, in the process, we change.  So many couples lose it when they grow and change individually and wake up one day and realize that they hardly recognize the person on the other side of the bed.  One thing John and I have always been pretty good about is conversing.  One of our favorite ways to spend an evening after the kids are in bed is just talking.  I think that when you maintain that closeness in a relationship you are pretty much assured that when you "grow and change," you'll be doing it together -- growing and changing in the same ways, headed in the same direction.  I'd have to say that's how we've approached some of the changes in our lifestyle.  We are largely on the same page with the philosophical concepts behind why we do what we do.

That said, we each have our favorite projects.  The chickens (though they love me because I bring them treats) are largely John's project, and he loves caring for them.  The garden, is largely my domain.  John is always a part of the execution, but I do the planning and researching.  John takes charge of all things related to prepping the house for the goats we'll bring home next month while keeping me informed all along the way.  I am the one who cares for Cocoa Puff, for no other reason than that she has really grown on me.  So I talk to her, feed her, and take her to the backyard for some exercise.  John feeds the worms in the worm bin.  He gets quite excited when he happens upon a big one when working in the yard and gets to add it to his bin.    I am the one who's most excited about the products I'm making in the house, like soap, for example.  But, it's John who's standing there reading me the directions as I stir the pot.

So far, I can only think of a couple areas in which we disagree when it comes to developing our little homestead. First, I refuse to care for a bee hive.  I love honey, and I don't mind if John eventually adds a hive, but I personally will not be working it.  Though I appreciate the great work they do pollinating my flowers and helping produce the food we eat, they just freak me out.  Also, we've disagreed about what to do with our unfenced field behind the house.  John would like to fence it, but I'm not sure it's necessary to what we're doing.  The topic comes up a lot.  But, the key is, we talk about it.  Eventually, we'll figure it out.

So, today on our anniversary, I'm so thankful for my true companion on this journey.  We may not always know what's around the bend, but there's great joy in discovering it together.

1000 Visitors in 1 Month!

Yep, if you don't believe me, just scroll to the bottom of the blog and check out the counter.  Today, this blog is 1 month old, and it has already had more than 1,000 visits.  I love it! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear readers! 

So, let's have some feedback.  What topics have you most enjoyed over the past month?
I'd love to know so that I can tailor future topics to the interests of my readers.

Once again, thanks so much for reading my little blog.  It makes me happy to write it and even happier to know that others are reading it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Replacing Paper Towels

In an attempt to reduce our use of paper products, we've been using Flour Sack Towels in place of paper towels for a couple of months now. 

These towels are wonderfully absorbent, can be laundered with a bleach alternative to keep them white, and wash and dry up great.  Click here to check them out on Amazon.

I read about a family that replaced their bath towels with flour sack towels as well.  They did so because their reduced size meant less water spent in washing them and they line dry quickly, reducing dryer use.  We haven't yet made that switch.  I rather enjoy wrapping up in my big cozy towel, but we'll see.  Maybe in the summertime I'll give it a try. :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Goat Breeder

All the work John has done to try to find us a new goat has paid off.  And, man, did he work hard!  He followed so many leads, I had to have him make me a chart so that I could keep straight who all he had talked to and what he'd found out from them.  For those who read my last goat post about poor Lydia, she does seem to be doing some better but is not putting on the kind of weight that she should at this point in her pregnancy.  Her breeder has kept us informed but still doesn't feel comfortable selling her.  So, we are now working with a new breeder who will be selling us Razz as a milker.  These photos are actually of Razz's kids, but she looks most like this first pic.  We will get to see her in person when we go visit her later this week.  We are quite excited.

We are actually planning to purchase 3 goats.  Razz, is the momma who will be in milk.  We will also bring home her newly weaned doeling (female kid).  And, when we go to the farm, we plan to select a 1 year old doe as well.  This will provide us with the option of having two milkers next year. 

If all goes well, the doeling will be weaned and all three will be ready to make the move to our house by mid to late April.  I'll keep you informed!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where do you find the time?

When I spoke to the Jonesboro MOPS last week about Homesteading, I handed out little slips of paper for audience members to write questions on.  My plan was to collect them at the end of my talk and answer them aloud -- that way even the most reserved among the audience could voice her question without fear.  You know what they say about the best laid plans, though.  Several audience members just wanted to voice their own questions, which was great, and we never got back to the question slips.  After the presentation, I found a few question strips left on the tables.  Most of them contained questions that I'd answered, but there were a few that went unanswered.  For example:

"How do you find time for it all?"

It's a very good question. I'd just spent 45 minutes talking about growing our own food, tending chickens and the rabbit, making fresh juice for breakfast every morning, canning food, making cleaning supplies, etc.  Just hearing about it is enough to wear anyone out.  

It reminds me of back in college.  I dreaded the first day of a new class.  The professor would distribute the syllabus and go over EVERY SINGLE PROJECT I'd have to turn in during the course of the semester.  It was overwhelming.  But, that was, of course, because I was looking at it all at once.  Taken one day at a time, it was actually a very manageable workload.  That's how our lifestyle is.  Yes, the garden has to be tended and the bread baked and the soap made and so on, but that doesn't all happen at the same time.

Also, I'll say this.  If something seems like it isn't worth the time, then it may not be.  I feel like it's so trendy right now to eat organically and make your own cleaning products and so on.  But, that doesn't have to be a part of your experience of motherhood or life.  If those things don't seem worth your time, that may be a clue that you simply don't value them.  If that's the case, then those things just may not be for you.  Don't do it just because everyone else seems to be.  Life's too short.

But, back to finding the time . . . I am a Type-A personality who makes lists daily and crosses things off, grinds my teeth in my sleep because I cannot relax, and usually only sits down during the course of the day to blog.  It seems I am not happy if I do not have a project underway.  (I sound a little bit insane, don't I?  I am working on slowing down and just being in the moment more.  The ability to do so is a trait I often envy in others.)

Also, we do not own a television.  Yes, you read that right.  Once again, I sound insane.  We do occasionally watch shows online or rent movies that we watch on our computer.  But since the latests findings are that the average American watches about 151 hours of TV per month (or about 5 hours per day), you can see how the absence of a television would free up some major time for other activities. 

So, I am a certifiably insane Energizer Bunny who doesn't stop for TV time.  Maybe that's the most concise answer to the audience member's question.  Perhaps it was best that she didn't get to ask.  :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken

Here's a recipe that was sent to me by my good friend Ericka.  She claimed that even her pickiest eater loved it, so I had to give it a try.  I'm pleased to say, it went over just as well at our house. 

Begin with a clean whole chicken. 

In a small bowl, combine the following spices:
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. white pepper (I didn't have this, so I just left it out)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Rub seasoning all over chicken.  I let it sit overnight with the rub on it, but Ericka didn't and still said it was great.  Put 1 c. chopped onion in the bottom of your Crock Pot and add the chicken.  The chicken will produce its own juices, so you need not add any liquid.  Cook on low for 4-8 hours or until meat reaches 180 degrees.  (If you have to be gone all day and can't really monitor your temperature, don't worry about it. It won't get dry in the slow cooker.)

I paid $4.00 for my chicken and next-to-nothing for the rest, so the recipe came out to less than $1 per person. I paired it with a veggie and salad for dinner.

We ate our fill then picked the chicken clean for leftovers. I added some barbecue sauce to the shredded chicken and had another meal later in the week.  To go with the barbecue sandwiches, I tried this new coleslaw recipe, too.

Texas Coleslaw

16 oz. bag coleslaw mix
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 cans (11 oz. each) Mexicorn (corn with red and green peppers, drained)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 Tbs. lime juice
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. salt

Toss coleslaw mix, cilantro, and corn in very large bowl.  Whisk together the oil, lime juice, cumin, and salt in a small bowl and pour over coleslaw mixture; toss.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to allow flavors to meld.

This made WAY too much coleslaw for my family, so I took the rest to our weekly playgroup lunch.  :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Laundry Closet Re-organization!

I'm working my way through the house doing spring cleaning with a plan completely stolen from my friend Ericka -- tackling one room per week with a deep clean.  In the process, I've discovered something about myself.  I LOVE to organize, but  I HATE to clean. 
Aside from the rug in front of the kitchen sink, I probably stand still the longest in one day, in this spot right here, folding and hanging clothes.  So, I've been very happy by how much this little re-organization project has helped simplify my laundry routine.
As you can see, we have more of a laundry closet than a laundry room.  This arrangement is fine by me because I'd rather not be shut off in a small room by myself folding clothes anyway. However, the closet leaves me with a small space in which to get a big job done.   But, since the re-design, it's working out great!  1st, notice the curtains.  They can close off the space so that I can hide it all when company is over (although now that it's so organized, I may not be drawing the curtain so often anymore).  Also, the bulletin board can hold little snippets from magazines, Bible verses, inspirational quotes, pictures, or stain removal tips. 

On the shelf above the machines, I've added these plastic drawer systems.  The big one has one drawer for each child.  I put all of their clean undergarments, pajamas, and socks into their drawers (at our house, we hang everything else).  When the drawers are full, I pull them out and take them to the bathroom  (where the kids keep all of these clothing items).  When the kids see their drawer sitting on the bathroom countertop, they know it's their job to put their things away and return the drawer to the laundry area (and, yes, even my 2-year-old son can do this :)  The smaller set of drawers holds collar stays (which go in all my hubby's dress shirts, extra dryer bars (we've switched to those instead of dryer sheets), and clothespins.  Atop those drawers is a small trashcan to collect dryer lint (it's compostable, you know) and extra hangers at the ready.

At the very top of the closet, I have crates labeled "Resale" to collect the clothes I plan to put into the kids' consignment sale I participate in twice a year.  So, when I wash that t-shirt that has begun to fit like it should be made of spandex, I can just pull it from the dryer, fold it neatly, and tuck it away in a resale crate until I'm ready to do my tagging for the sale.

Above the washer, the closet rod is divided up into three sections so that I can organize the kids' clothes as I hang them up.  Also, my hubby put up two new shelves for me on the left-side wall of the closet.  One is up high and holds laundry items that I don't need as frequently.

The other one, which is lower, holds my detergent, lonely sock bin, and lotion (does folding laundry make anyone else's hands crazy dry?).

This may well be the best part of the whole project-- there's nothing on the top of the machines!  It's completely free for folding.  So, while I may not have loved vacuuming dryer lint off the power cords or handling the sock retrieved at long last from down the crack by the washer, I am loving the fruits of my labor -- a clutter-free work space!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reusable Facial Cleansing Pads

In our home, we try to limit the trash we sit by the curb as much as possible.  Between recycling, reusing, composting, and feeding scraps to animals, we're able to cut our waste tremendously.  We then started taking a close look at what non-edible consumables we are buying (things like toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, and napkins) and seeing what we could replace with reusable products.  One day, as I was washing my face and applying toner on one of those little round cotton pads, I realized that they were one of our last non-edible consumable hold-outs.  You may use cotton balls instead, but you know the kind of thing I'm talking about.  They may be sitting on your bathroom countertop in a cute little holder like this.

To end my use of the disposable cotton pads, I fashioned these little reusable pads that I can just toss into the wash.
They are about 1.5 x 3" which gives me plenty to hold onto when I'm using them and makes them substantial enough that I can find them when they come out of the dryer.  Each one is made of two different fabrics.  I used mostly flannel scraps that I had on hand and old baby washcloths that I had already moved to my rag basket.  I sewed the two layers together as if they were going to be little pillows, leaving enough area open to turn it right-side-out.  Once turned, I sewed around the outside edge to make them lay flat.  I've been using them for a couple months now, and they've held up great!  

I'd love to hear from you: 
What non-edible consumable are you still buying and would like an idea about how to replace it with something reusable?  Or what non-edible consumable have you quit buying?  What did you replace it with? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Onions, Take Two!

Look closely.  Can you make out anything green?  This is what my onion transplants looked like as soon as they were moved outside.  It wasn't looking good.  By the next morning, there were no signs of life. 

Thankfully, we happened upon these little beauties on a recent excursion to the Mountain View Co-op (which is very nice and has a great garden center!).  They are purple onions, which is what I use in my onion soup recipe. 

My little helper and I uprooted the evidence of our previous attempt and planted these little babies in their place.

So far, they look great.  We'll see.  If they grow much taller, we'll cut them down a bit to stunt their growth and encourage them to begin developing their yummy, bulbous roots.

Oh, and we added some of this to the soil.  Thank you, Cocoa Puff!

I had a little blip in my garden planning calendar.  When I mapped everything out, denoting when things were to be started indoors, hardened off, and planted outside, I forgot to make a note to remind myself to harden off the onions.  So, planting day came and they hadn't been hardened off, but I was so eager to get them in the ground that I foolishly went forward with planting.  I'm not sure that was what killed the little rascals, but it couldn't have helped.

Lesson learned.  (I wonder how many times I'll say that this garden season :)  So, here's my tub of lettuce that I've been hardening off this week by carrying them outside for incrementally longer periods of time each day. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

1st Attempt at Goats' Milk Soap!

Sometimes I struggle with patience.  I know, I know.  It's something I need to work on.  So, here we are preparing our home for dairy goats, reading the soapmaking book cover to cover several times over, gathering all the necessary soap making supplies, and just waiting for our goats to be ready to come home.  Knowing that the soap would have to cure for at least 3 weeks before it's ready for use (and ready for me to see how it turns out / tweak the recipe), I decided to let my eagerness to begin get the better of me.  When I was in LR last, I purchased some goats' milk at Whole Foods.  Tuesday night, I gave it a whirl. 
Here are all my supplies, ready to go.  At the last minute, I couldn't find my safety goggles (a necessity when working with lye), so I used John's tinted weed-eating goggles.  I must have looked ridiculous, but I was so excited that I didn't care.

Here they are!  I used a silicone mold that makes these 3" diameter circles.  I think that's a good size to hold in the shower.  Also, I tried my hand at using a soap stamp.  I love the design, but I had no idea when I ordered it that it was so small.  It kind of gets lost in the middle of the bar.  I'll probably try to get a larger one for the next try. 

I will say that milk soap making was pretty intense.  I used a recipe that incorporates goats' milk, olive oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, rice bran oil, and apricot oil.  For the first try, I didn't add any scented oils. This recipe is supposed to produce a hard bar that lathers well and has tons of nutrients and moisturizers for sensitive skin.

The pH levels tested great, so, chemically speaking, my 1st attempt was a success.  In three weeks, I'll get to give it a try.  If the bar goes soft too quickly in the shower, I'll allow additional curing time for the remaining bars.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making the Most of Opportunity

Goats love to climb, but they're also escape artists.  We want our "goat habitat" to be as goat-friendly as possible, so we thought it would be great to give them a place to play "king of the mountain" all day long. Their climbing toy must be placed far enough away from a fence that they can't use it as a stepping stone to freedom and must be heavy enough that they can't roll it over to the fence for the same purpose.  We have a huge rock in the front yard that we thought would be perfect, but since a tractor or truck won't fit through our backyard fence it was out of the question.  Until . . . we got a new roof this past week and the roofers took down our fence to make way for their own truck.  How does the old saying go? . . . When life gives you a downed fence, move a rock. . . Or something like that.
Here's a pic of where the fence used to be.

Cousin Isaac, expert tractor driver, picked up the rock in one deft move, drove it to the backyard, and carefully deposited it over the fence of the goat pen.

The guys then attached chain and used the tractor to pull the rock into position.

Though the girls aren't sure about sharing their "climbing rock," I think the goats will love their new play space, and I love that I can see the rock perfectly from my kitchen sink window.  Thanks, Isaac!  We couldn't have done it without your help!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Granny's Biscuits for Now and Later

Who doesn't love biscuits?  My late mother-in-law made the best biscuits.  And, though, she passed away when our oldest child was only 1-year-old, we are able to use her recipe to pass on the goodness of Granny's biscuits to her grandkids. 

And, because homemade biscuits require a bit more work than popping a can,  you can maximize your effort by freezing some for future use.

The original recipe, copied from Granny reads thus:
2 C. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cream of tartar
2 t. sugar
1/2 C. shortening
2/3 C. milk

Bake @ 450 degrees
10-12 minutes

You've got to love the simplicity of the recipe -- just throw it all together, you know, the way you make biscuits.  But, I'd never made homemade biscuits before, so I needed a little more instruction my first time. 

Measure it all out in a big mixing bowl.  Use a fork to cut in the shortening.  Then, knead by hand until all the powder is incorporated, and it holds together as a ball. 
Dust your working surface with flour and roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a biscuit cutter (we got ours straight from Granny's kitchen), cut out biscuits and transfer to baking sheet.  If you don't have a biscuit cutter, you could use a glass or just form them by hand.   If you plan to bake your biscuits now, just pop them into your 450 degree oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.  If you have a baking stone, use it to avoild burnt bottoms.

To prepare your biscuits for the freezer to enjoy later, put them on a baking sheet and freeze for a few hours.

Then, transfer frozen biscuits to a storage baggie.  Now, when you're ready for some homemade comfort food, you can easily pull out however many you need .

Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden.