Friday, February 29, 2008

what a week!

trying to plan for this year:
-ordered 25 broilers to arrive april 13ish set 1 of 3 for the year; next go around i'll add guineas (maybe) and turkeys

-ginger and cinnamon are both due early next week. i've been doing the ligament check several times a day. i'm not concerned about ginger since she is a pro but this is cinnamon's first time and she is too young (accidental breeding, she just turned 1 yesterday). her udder is bagging up nicely, teats evenly spaced but still tiny. i think she'll be an excellent milker. luckily her little sister lavender doesn't appear pregnant.

-trying to track down my seed order from heirloom acres seeds. it's been 3 weeks and i called today and left a message w/o any response, very rude in my opinion. i may not order again as i cannot stand poor customer service. i was drawn to them because they are local. and open pollinated.

we have a whole 'to do' list to fill out our weekends this spring. things to make our lives easier here, make routines run more smoothly and move forward with plans. hooray!

-gutter on barn and water tank for collection
-same on shed for goat's watering trough
-enlarge watering hole and maybe get fish
-conventional garden up and running with soaker hoses
-goat pastures
-till areas for grain/hay growth (farmed area, behind barn, chicken yard area)
-set up mini greenhouse
-build chicken tractor for broilers

indoor/rainy day type stuff:
-convert garage into apothecary
-sump pump
-goat barn
-root cellar (shelving/bins)
-wainscot in kitchen

today jaden and i started broccoli and cabbage seeds. we are behind but better late than never. this weekend i hope to direct sow some hardy things and next weekend start tomtoes and peppers.

this year is operation self-sufficiency.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Food For Thought

Top 10 Troublesome Ingredients By Sandy Tuin

1. Natural Flavors. Listed as natural flavors.
Found in: Baked foods, frozen dinners, candy and more.
What’s the big deal? Natural flavors include a number of naturally occurring (non-chemical,non-artificial) substances approved for use in food by the FDA. These flavors often come from allergy-inducing ingredients such as nuts and wheat.
How to avoid it? If you are prone to food allergies call the food manufacturer to learn the source of the natural flavor.

2. Artificial Colorings: Listed as yellow #6, blue #2, green #3, red #3 and more.
Found in: Candy, soda, gelatin, and more
What’s the big deal? Some studies link artificial colorings to a range of health problems including cancer, hyperactivity, thyroid and allergic reactions. They have no nutritional value.
How to avoid it? Steer clear of artificially colored foods. Opt instead for naturally colorful edibles like fresh fruits and dark leafy greens.

3. Chemical Cocktails. Unlisted
Found in: Non-organic product.
What’s the big deal? Conventional farmers spray their produce with chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides to keep insects and weeds at bay. Residues of these toxic chemicals end up on your food, and some studies have linked them to cancer and birth defects.
How to avoid it? Wash your produce thoroughly with a mixture of 1 tsp mild dishwashing detergent and 4 liters of water. Buy organic or shop at the farmer’s market.

4. Sodium Nitrite: Listed as Sodium nitrite
Found in: Processed meats including bacon, ham, hot dongs, lunchmeats, and corned beef.
What’s the big deal? This preservative can mix with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamines, a carcinogenic substance linked to cancers of the pancreas, bladder and brain.
How to avoid it? Replace processed meats with fresh meats or purchase nitrite-free lunchmeats. Meat found in canned soups and frozen dinners commonly contains sodium nitrite, so check labels carefully.

5. High Fructose Corn Syrup: Listed as High fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup,
corn syrup solids
Found in: Frozen foods, sweets, breads, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, many canned vegetables, cereals, juices, sodas, breads and much more.
What’s the big deal? High fructose corn syrup increases your risk for diabetes. It also encourages overeating because its chemical structure tricks your brain into thinking your body is hungry. And it can raise triglyceride levels in the bloodstream, which increases risk of heart disease. Also contributes to high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Has no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and leaches micronutrients from your body.
How to avoid it? Limit your intake of added sugar to less than 10% of your total daily calories. And/or buy alternative foods that do not contain it!!

6. rBGH: Listed as rBGH
Found in: dairy products, including milk and cheese.
What’s the big deal? rBGH stands for recombinant (genetically modified) bovine (cow) growth hormone. Dairy farmers inject cows with it to stimulate milk production, and it ends up in the milk sold in grocery stores. Research has tied it to prostate, colon and breast cancers.
How to avoid it? Look for milk that says “no rBGH” on the label. Switch to organic milk or raw milk.

7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Listed as Yeast extract, gelatin, textured and hydrolyzed proteins, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, and more.
Found in: A wide range of foods including chips, canned soups, salad dressings, fast food, and frozen dinners.
What’s the big deal? MSG can affect the nervous system and make you feel hungrier than you rally are. It may also trigger migraines.
How to avoid it? Read food labels carefully. Even packages that say “no MSG or no MSG added” can sneak the substance in disguised as any of the ingredients above.

8. Sodium: Listed as salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda.
Found in: meat, eggs and dairy products. Also found in processed foods like canned soups and frozen dinners.
What’s the big deal? Your sodium count should not exceed 2400 milligrams a day, but some studies how Americans average intake is 3300 mgs a day. Excess sodium can raise blood pressure, which puts extra strain on your heart.
How to avoid it? Use herbs and spices rather and salt to flavor your food. Go easy on the salt shaker.

9. Omega-6: Listed as: Linoleic acid; sunflower, sesame, corn and soybean oils.
Found in: frozen and processed foods
What’s the big deal? Ideally, you should eat three omega-6 fatty acids for every omega-3 fatty acid you eat. But the ratio in most Western diets is between 10:1 and 20:1. Excess intake of omega-6 can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.
How to avoid it? Eat fewer processed foods. Eat Omega 3 rich foods like walnuts, fish.

10. Trans Fat: Listed as: partially hydrogenated oil.
Found in: commercial baked goods like crackers and cookies; shortening and margarine.
What’s the big deal? Trans fats temporarily raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
How to avoid it? Even foods that claim 0 grams of trans fat on the label can contain it because food manufacturers don’t have to list amounts under 0.5 rams. But eating more than one serving of a food can easily double or triple that half a gram. Read the label to be sure there are not partially hydrogenated oils hiding in the ingredient list.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ask and you shall receive

we sell eggs and raise about 70 layers plus a handful of roosters. some of the layers are past their prime and will be culled this spring for stewing hens. promise.

anyway, we currently are getting 2-3 dozen of eggs per day. that's a lot of eggs. we are scrambling (no pun intended) to up our client base as we've upped our hen numbers originally to keep up with demand. it's a delicate balance.

and so is the balance to keep ourselves in egg cartons. currently, we have about 6 dozen eggs, possibly more, floating around in bowls in our fridge and in our 'larder' aka the basement as we have run out of cartons.

what to do? purchasing them online sucks (costly and wasteful). so, freecycle to the rescue. i put out a request last night and now have about 100 cartons in reserve for us! plus a few requests to purchase the actual eggs which is a bonus i hadn't thought about when i posted the request. i hope freecycle doesn't feel that is against the rules since they approached me to buy them while offering free cartons.

Friday, February 22, 2008

carbon footprint

i stumbled upon a great website that has a calculator for measuring usage of carbon. they are challenging people to use 10% of the us average. when i plugged in the numbers, i came up with:

R4A Calculator summary:
Transport: 17%
Elec: 32%
H&C: 88%
Trash: 3%
Water: 21%
Goods: 16%
Food: 50% local, 25% dry, 25% wet

i may be off on a few of these as i had to guess on a few of the numbers (trash, transport, goods, food) since i didn't have receipts for those numbers but i estimated them high i think for us. also, the propane usage and wood usage i may have overestimated too.

the 7 categories page was a great resource for breaking down the different carbons we use and explains in further detail how to rate yourself on these things.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

tapping for sap

here are a few photos of my tapping set up. pretty basic but does the trick. i hope this helps you tammie!

this tree was big enough that i could place two taps on it. they are over 4" apart.

a close-up of the actual tap. i drilled it with a 3/8's drill bit in about 2". the end of the spout is in the opening of the bottle. i used a twisty tie to secure the bottle via its handle onto the spile. i tried a few different methods, this one was the easiest to remove for emptying purposes and tight enough to keep the bottle from moving a lot during winds which can cause the spile to drip the sap onto the ground.

binder template pages

frugal upstate mentioned for another source of half page templates. browsing around, i found some great templates (italicized print is copied from site, regular print are my own notes on the pages):

square foot gardening template - Used to plan out a Square Foot Garden plot. Decide what you want to plant, find out if that plant has any likes or dislikes with other plants. check Wikipedia for one list (, determine the spacing needed and then lay it out in the grid on the bottom. Once everything is placed where you want it take it out and start planting.

monthly receipt envelope - This is just another envelope for your receipts. Last year, I used the official receipt envelopes by Doug, but by the end of the year, I was quite tired of all the work it took to cut out, fold and glue them. I thought they were a bit too complicated, so one day, while playing with a piece of paper, I came up with this idea for folding and cutting. The form is just the weekly expense form I made last year for the template contest that you can find somewhere on this site.

2 to a page planner - i really like this style. i may have to use it in place of my existing weekly planner that i created!

budget planner - At the beginning of the month, fill in the income and expenses you expect for the month. Include how much you will save for emergencies, debts you will pay off, and money you will give away. The difference between your income and all the other things should equal $0. Live on this budget and then fill out the "actual income" and "actual expenses" sections at the end of the month to see how you did. this is open it in excel, plug in all the numbers then print it out and put it in your binder for use.

there are 9 pages of templates that cover a variety of themes plus the diy pages/kits.

Monday, February 11, 2008

crossover skills

when i sit and cut pictures from magazines, often jaden sits with me and practices her cutting as well. i give her a magazine and a pair of scissors and she goes to town. she is attracted to babies and beautiful women mostly. she will sit and cut for a long time while i work, sometimes continuing on long after i am done.

i am thrilled about this because she is learning to cut well, reuse resources and make up stories about the pictures. sometimes, she glues them onto paper as well.

wardrobe re-fashion

i'm not a part of this wonderful group but i love the idea of it and have done this myself on numerous occasions. i love this dress idea from a men's shirt. i was organizing my fabric bin this weekend which consists of old clothes and fabrics that i've collected. several caught my eye so i started matching them up. i plan to make jaden's summer wardrobe from them:cotton and linen: top left -cotton pillowcase, bottom left - cotton fabric, right - greg's linen shirt that has worn out on the collar (all three were originally from thrift stores)
cotton: top left - pair of cotton swim shorts that ripped beyond repair, bottom left - swatches of fabric cut to cover canning good lids (from garage sale), right - fabric gifted to me by friend
cotton and silk: top left - fabric from clearance sale, bottom left - pillowcases from thrift store, right - silk shirt from thrift store that ripped
linen: left - fabric found in remnents bin at fabric store, right - leftover fabric from my commitment ceremony dresscotton: left - leftover from business projects (eye pillows, shoulder wraps, etc), right - pillowcase from goodwill

stay tuned to see what i come up with!

this week: zone 4 - the living room

this week's cover is a work-in-progress.

this room is a breeze. i may end up moving some things around to add to this zone such as the front porch or the main stairs. i almost feel like the kitchen could use 2 weeks in the rotation.


Goals for Livingroom:
-to have a clean, organized room relaxing and comfortable for entertaining
-plenty of book storage area
-toy free zone

Trouble Spots:
-book shelves get cluttered
-my parents don’t feel comfortable (no sofas to sit in)

Things I’d like to Accomplish:
-paint room
-install ceiling fan
-find fabric and make curtains to keep out cold and bright sunlight as needed
-get rid of papasans and get a sofa

living room focus cleaning:

move furniture and clean/wax wood floor
clean off/dust bookshelf
clean off tv screen and mirror
organize media cabinet
wash rug and blankets
dust ceiling
wipe down door/window frames

Saturday, February 9, 2008

sugaring season is in!

i had hoped to tap a few weeks ago but didn't get around to it. the weather is perfect though...days in the 40's, nights in the 20's.

today, i drilled two taps for a maple tree in our front yard on the west side of the house. it is a silver maple as all our maples are but it is a multi-branching tree which is supposed to produce higher amounts of sap than the straight trunked trees which is what i tapped last year.

i need to purchase more stiles. my friend was going to give me a few more but she is in texas for the month studying midwifery and she and her family won't be back until after the season is over.

it takes a minimum of 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. last year i think i ended up with a quart? i don't remember but it was delicious.

i'd love to put away at least a gallon but i don't think i'll reach that goal this year. but, any amount i put away saves me lots of $$ as i spend at least $9 per quart (maybe more, i don't have my receipts in front of me).

last year, the spouts ran into buckets that i covered with trash bags to keep out the rain and bugs. this year, i washed out gallon vinegar bottles and have the spouts running directly into the bottles. i cut a small hole in the corner of a gallon zip lock bag and pulled it over the spout first to protect the opening from rain/bugs. i can just bring out new bottles and switch them out every day since i have several empty vinegar bottles (i use vinegar in the wash with every load in the fabric softener dispenser.)

last year, i boiled it down in the kitchen which was workable but awful humid. this year, i think i'll try it outdoors on the gas camp stove.

i am tapping 2 weeks earlier this year than last...i tapped very late last year and it only lasted about 2 weeks, tops. next year, i hope to tap mid-january.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

versatile bread recipe

i love this recipe. i think i found it online years ago and i've just recently revived it. it is so simple and quick and this time around, i'm experimenting with different ingredients. so far, so good! the basic recipe calls for molding into two round loaves. i've also molded it into baguettes and put it in loaf pans to make an excellent sandwich bread. whole wheat seems to be too heavy but unbleached whole wheat works well. so does half unbleached and half ww or spelt. next, i plan to try adding oats and herbs.

cuban bread

5-6 cups flour (i've used everything from whole wheat to unbleached to spelt)
2 T. sugar
2 T. yeast
1 T. salt
2 cups warm water

mix 4 cups of flour with sugar, yeast and salt. add warm water and mix in mixer for 3 minutes or by hand for 100 strokes. add remaining flour until dough is not sticking anymore. knead until dough reached elastic stage. (i have a kitchaid so i just mix it in there until it's ready).

place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp dish towel. place in a warm place for 15 minutes.

divide into 2 pieces. shape into whatever loaves you would like. if putting in a loaf pan, grease first.

place in cold oven on top shelf. put a 9 x 13 glass baking pan (i forget the real name of these) on bottom shelf and fill with boiling water. turn oven on to 400. bake for about 40-50 minutes. when loaves are nicely browned, set on counter to cool (if you can wait that long but at least let it cool 10 minutes so it cuts easier). this bread can be cut thick to eat with soup or thin for sandwich bread. my kids devour it! (this can actually be a not so good thing as i have to make it several times a week.)


Monday, February 4, 2008

this week: zone 3: the playroom

this week, my focus will be on cleaning the playroom. in my binder, i have a cover page i've decorated to inspire me to achieve a fun place for the kids. the cover page is followed by two more pages:

page 1:


Goals for Playroom:
-to have a clean, organized room that is a fun area for the kids to play and learn in and for adults to relax in
-utility area for laundry to dry in during winter

Trouble Spots:
-table is constantly cluttered
-drying racks constantly clutter the room
-cold, drafty by south windows and door
-diaper area is messy

Things I’d like to Accomplish:
-paint room
-hang world map
-buy and install ceiling drying rack
-find fabric and make curtains to keep out cold and bright sunlight as needed

and page 2 which gives me a checklist of what i need to get done that week:

Playroom Focus Cleaning:

clean out paper storage cabinet

move furniture and wash wood floor

clean off/dust bookshelf

organize all toys on toyshelf

clean off table

straighten fabric bins

dust ceiling fan, ceiling/corners for cobwebs

wipe down switch plates, doors and frames

organize desk drawers

organize diaper area

polish wood stove/clean off glass

dust pictures on wall

the 2nd page has checkmarks so i can mark off as i do it. there are plenty of blank slots at the bottom so if i need to, i can add items i forgot since this is my first time through this page. once i get the zones all tweaked out, i'll laminate the pages so i can mark them off and erase when i'm done with the week.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

our first eicfbd was a success!

this morning, we obliged in eat ice cream for breakfast day (thanks phoebe for reminding us of this annual event). the kids complained greatly that we were having ice cream instead of oatmeal's the best part of parenthood, being able to torture kids like this!

yummy goodness for all!...starbucks ice cream and homemade toppings galore! we had fudge sauce, whipped cream (real of course), peanuts, almonds, pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, sundrops, cookie dough, waffle bowls and sugar cones

sage's dream came true this morning!


mom! don't take my picture when i'm eating....or playing...or reading...or anytime! (teenagers!)

ridge models his cone hat

jaden learns what happens when you bite the bottom of the ice cream cone

strangely, i still feel hungry....could this be why this is not a common practice?! i think i'll go cook me some bacon and eggs now.

Friday, February 1, 2008


february...the month of love and fun. we start it off with eat ice cream for breakfast day tomorrow. the kids are very excited. this will be the first year we participated in this event but i wanted to do something that was different than our normal routine and would be loved by all, including my husband who loves ice cream.

this month, i hope to accomplish a lot in the short month. thankfully, we get that extra day! haha

-paint playroom
-hang world map in playroom
-order seeds
-sew bag for carrying purse stuff and herbal medicine stuff
-start sourdough
-start kombucha
-tap trees
-work on binder (the neverending task)

another peek into my binder

a bit of inspiration

this is a work in progress

my meal planning tab cover page

my sourdough section

some pages i created....
birthday and anniversary calendar

meal ideas including entrees, veggies/sides and starches

my meal planning calendar...on the right hand column, i write down the meat i purchase and then scratch it off as i use it up so i always know what i have on hand which is very helpful for a family of 7
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