Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last weekend I ordered some seeds & potatoes due to an email I received from Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa.. I usually wait too long to order the potatoes, finding some out of stock already. Not this time. Thank you email!
Here is what I ordered...
5 lbs. of Yellow Finn
5 lbs. of Yukon Gold
2.5 lbs. of German Butterball which I haven't grown before.

There is nothing like fresh hash browns for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Last year I grew some fingerling potatoes which I might grow again (from my own stock). The other night I threw together a casserole of fingerling potatoes, shredded zucchini (shredded & frozen from the garden), onion (from the garden), mushrooms, green & red peppers with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on & cream of mushroom soup mixed in. It was really good and I made enough for 3 meals. Tasty with a loaf of artesian garlic bread dipped in olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

And the seeds...
Calypso Bean
Hidatsa Shield Bean
Lazy Housewife Bean
Golden Sweet Pea
Double Yield Cucumber
Parade Cucumber
Lacinato Kale
Slobolt Lettuce
Cinnamon Basil

I know I need more, but I have to check my supply up at the farm. Also, with the house on the market, I won't be able to start seeds in the dining room. So I'll be buying starts from Almost There Farms on Highway 14 west of Arena on the way to the farm. They are grown from Seed Savers seeds and I have had good luck with them in the past.

In this recent cold spell we are having, I am dreaming of the rich, earthy smell of a freshly turned garden, the fresh "summer scent" of cilantro and the taste of the first ripe tomato off the vine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making Your Own Blog Book

Blog Book

Before Christmas, I was trying of think of a special gift for Steve. While searching for a solution for a blogging email problem I am having, I came across an article on making a book from your blog. I checked it out and started right away. It is fairly easy. It does take some time to put together if you don't want every post from your blog in the book but it is doable. I focused mainly on the farm related posts so I had to delete a lot of other posts first. The program pulls the info right off your blog. In order to pick and choose what I wanted printed, I manually "unpublished" all blogs that I didn't want in the book. After making sure everything was correct, I ordered the book and then "re-published" all the old entries. It was fun to pick out the cover style and what pictues I wanted for the front, back and introduction page which I used for a dedication page. You can also add photos anywhere in the book. There is an option for hard cover or soft cover  and pdf.
Well, Steve loved the book.  Here he is Christmas morning, reading it after the kids left.

So if you want to give a special gift or just want to save your posts in a lasting way, this is a good solution.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Herbal Baby Salve

With our new granddaughters arrival, I have been looking through books for helpful & healthful items to provide for her. Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal is a great book for herbal recipes for your family. The first one I'm going to make is for diaper rash, cuts & scapes & irritated skin.

Bottoms- Up Salve
1 part calendula flower
1 part comfrey leaf
1 part comfrey root
1 part St. John's Wort flower
Olive oil
Grated beeswax
1. Combine the herbs & salve & store in an airtight container. Make a solar infusion by steeping 2 oz. of the herb mixture in a pint of olive oil for 2 weeks. This will create about 2 cups of herbal oil.
2. At the end of the 2 weeks, place the mixture in a double boiler (or I use a crock pot) and warm for one hour over low heat. Strain.
3. To each cup of warm herbal oil, add 1/4 cup of grated beeswax. You may need to warm the oil a little longer to melt the beeswax.
4. When the beeswax is melted, check for desired consistancy; place one tablespoon of the mixture in the refrigerator for a few minutes. If the salve is too hard, add a little more oil; if too soft, add a little more beeswax. Pour it into a glass jar. The salve does not have to be refrigerated and will last for months (or years) if stored in a cool area.

About making solar infusions...this should be a warm, sunny spot. After the two weeks of steeping time, strain the oil through muslin or cheesecloth. When the oil has been poured off, put the herbs in the cheesecloth or muslin & squeeze throroughly, getting every last drop if you can. To make a doubly strong medicinal oil, add a fresh batch of herbs to the oil & strain again after two weeks.

Now not everyone has a warm sunny spot (especially in the middle of a Midwest winter) so you can use a double boiler or crock pot to speed the process along.Place the herbs & oil in the double boiler or crock pot & bring to a low simmer. Slowly heat for 30-60 minures checking often to be sure the oil isn't overheating. The lower the heat, the longer the infusion, the better the oil.

This is not a new process for me. I have made solar infused oils many times for different salves & lip balms.  It all depends on the herbs you use.

Jaelyn's hospital photo
I think I will make baby oil next. Stay tuned for that recipe soon.

This weekend we are going to the farm so there will be more progress going on there to blog about soon :-)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Last Night...No Power

Well, sometimes plans change. After working at the shop all day, our plans were to exercise, eat leftover pizza & watch a movie. As we were changing into comfy exercise clothes, the power went out. We heard sirens in the distance, so I figured it was probably an accident. It was very foggy. Then more sirens. It went on for about 15 minutes. All the lights in our subdivision were out. We decided to exercise by candlelight. (how romantic :-) I suggested we take a walk afterward. The only time we would see the neighborhood dark. It was kind of spooky & nice at the same time. We could imagine all the people inside lighting their candles, getting out the flashlights. Kids (and adults) whining about no computers or games to play. We only heard two generators. We had the gas fireplace going when the power went out, otherwise there would have been no heat. This all brings to mind how helpless we would be (at the townhome) for an extended power outage. At the farm, no problem. And that's the way we want it to be.
It turns out the reason for the outage was a plane crash. A small twin engine piper went down a few miles from our house. It hit an oak tree, the ground & then  pieces of it hit a house. Luckily, no one in the house was injured, but the two people in the plane died. It took almost three hours for the power to come back so we played backgammonon & drank some wine until it did. When it finally came back on, it was very erratic. On & off about 6 times. Then off for another half hour & finally on again.  I turned off the furnace & tv after the first few episodes of that.
It is a good thing to have loss of power sometimes (except for the unfortunate circumstances involved). It teaches us that we can live without the hum of fridges, computers & the noise of TV's & stereos. Some family time, all together, huddled around some candles is good for the soul sometimes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sorry I haven't been keeping up with posting...

Seems like I have been so busy lately. We haven't been to the farm for a few weekends. Steve says next weekend for sure. Work has been busy! We are so lucky to have a busy shop. After I get done cleaning the house this morning, I'm off to the shop to sand cabinets. We were there yesterday late too. Then home to watch Julie & Julia, have a glass of wine & eat some pizza.
Last weekend we went out for brunch with our daughter Amy & fiancee Rob at the place that they are having their wedding & reception.The food was great & the room looks out over a park-like setting of old oaks & a pond. Really beautiful. Here is a picture of the happy couple. We are so excited for them. The wedding is in May & will be here before we know it.

Amy & Rob

On Tuesday, I headed down to see Kristin, Tim & Jaelyn. I had such a great time. It is so special to have a grandchild. All the cute expressions and little cooing noises. And that sweet baby smell that newborns have. I am so proud of Kristin & Tim. They are adapting to parenthood just like I thought they would. The love I see in their eyes for Jaelyn fills my heart.  It was so hard to leave that sweet little baby, but we'll be back soon to see her.

Jaelyn had her first professional photo shoot at a week old. The pictures turned out so cute. Here is a link to them. Her's are the "sweet little girl" photos. The photographer is Patricia Mingus. She really does a great job.
If you can, please leave a comment after the pictures. There are free photos involved if they get 30 comments or more. Last I checked they had 17.
I am going to start posting more. Right now, since we have the house set up for showing, my computer is not in a appropriate place for comfortable use. Since our computer is getting old & acting up, we are thinking of investing in a laptop soon. Of course it will have to have a web cam so we can feel closer to the kids when we move to the farm. :-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our New Love

I am in love with a new person in my life. There is such a thing as love at first sight. The instant I saw her, I knew her.  A miniature child of the child that I had 31 years ago. I remember feeling the way my daughter and her husband are feeling right now. In awe. In love. The little child who has been nestled in her womb. Sometimes kicking, sometimes hicuppping, loved by Kristin & Tim since the day she was created. Ten fingers, ten toes, and that cooing sound that I will never get enough of. Tearing up (both Steve & I) when we saw her for the first time. The little pink knit cap covering her hair of  brown. Struggling to get fingers or a thumb in her mouth. Wide awake right after birth. These memories will be imprinted forever in our minds. Welcome to the family Jaelyn Nicole.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow

I have a day off today. It is snowing steady now and they are predicting up to 10 inches. I am very fortunate to work with Steve. He knows how freaked out I get driving on bad roads. So I'll be doing thing around the house and try to get some relaxing in too. I wish I had the snowshoes here. I'd go outside and play.
Yesterday, I got home from work around one to do a final clutter removal before the realtor came to do pictures. It did look pretty good when I was done. Then, when she left, out came all the stuff that is normally on the counters, the cat toys from the cupboard, extra pillows back on the bed, etc. I felt strange with all the "stuff" put away out of sight. I couldn't wait to get it out again and be me. I guess our personalities are linked to our stuff in a way. Just think, every showing that we have, all the stuff will all go back into hiding again (along with the cat). Sigh...but it will be worth it if it sells. Especially in these times. Six months is what the realtor says it is taking now on average. I am hoping the first person that looks at it, falls in love with it and all the work will be done :-).
I'm really getting excited about the upcoming birth of our granddaughter. It is bringing back so many memories of Kristin and Shane when they were born.
The last couple of days, I have been working on a slide show of the progress at the farm. Starting with when we first saw the property until now. So far, I have all the pictures picked out and now I have to find the right music. That always seems to be the hard part. Maybe I'll try to post it on the blog when I am done.
Enough writing, I have some crafting & relaxing to do ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hops (Not the Bunny Kind)

While at the farm this weekend, I read an article on growing hops in the LaCrosse Tribune. Here is a link ...

When we first bought the farm, we talked about growing hops. Then a conversation at the Renewable Energy Fair a couple years ago got us thinking about it again. The article about Gorst Valley Hops has renewed our interest. There is a Midwest Hops Production workshop in February we are thinking about going to. We are trying to find a cash crop that we can produce on our land. The goal is to have our cabinet /furniture shop at the farm and was to have my practice in town. Now that the practice is out of the picture, we need something that will make us money until the cabinet/furniture business gets established. Hops could be it. It is certainly worth researching.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blue Moon and Happy New Year!

Eli & Lizzie's house through the frosted window pane
Happy New Year everyone! I hope all of those resolutions are taking effect now that it is the 4th day into the month. We had a great weekend at the farm. We arrived at the farm on Thursday afternoon, brought in some wood, got the fire roaring & relaxed for a while.

Shane made us this wood rack for Christmas. It really works great!
Our lives have been very hectic lately so it was much needed. I actually thought the whole weekend would be a relaxing one, but Steve had a different idea.
On New Year's Eve there was a "blue" moon, which is the name for the second full moon in the same month. We decided to celebrate that event by going cross country skiing (Steve) and snowshoeing (me) around the property. It was a clear, beautiful night. The temps were near zero but no wind. This is the first time I've snowshoed. Steve had an old pair from his college days that I used. It was so peaceful. The moon was so bright that the shadows from the tree branches laid on the snow.

That was so much fun, we went again the next night. Not for too long though. The wind started to pick up and it just got too cold. After playing in the snow on Thursday, we played Backgammon, ate snacks & had some wine. We actually made it until midnight! That hasn't happened for a few years. Friday we took it easy, had a nice dinner, then Steve started talkng about drywall. Uh oh...looks like my relaxing weekend was slipping away.
So the next day, he was down at the local hardware store renting a drywall jack. (I had been trying to talk him into having someone else finish all the drywall & taping). So here it is, the drywall jack.

We worked all day & into the night on the ceiling. By 8pm Steve was so tired of putting in the screws above his head, we stopped & decided to finish on Sunday. The radiant floor heat is so nice! It was well worth the time, effort & money we spent for it. We couldn't have worked on the new area without it with the temperature so cold outside.

We did have a few visitors during the day on Saturday which was a welcome break. Eli came over to visit for a while, letting us know that the family is doing great and they are keeping warm. We told him he could have a cabinet that we didn't need so he & a couple of the boys picked it up later & dropped off some fresh baked bread & butter.

Later on, neighbors Jim & Nancy stopped by to catch up. This was our first weekend back at the farm since the first week of December. We were in bed by 9:30 that night!
Sunday morning we awoke to this...

That's 16 degrees with a 29 below wind chill. Brrrr!

Looking into the bedroom area from the living room.

We started working again around 10am. We had a nice lazy breakfast. The ceiling was finished around one. Time for lunch, hot showers, clean up and head home. As hard as we worked this weekend, we also mixed in sleeping in, fun & friends. It was a great weekend!

Peace for all in the New Year