Sunday, February 7, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week 1

Last week, I made the scary commitment of actually writing down goals for the 4x7 Sewing Challenge, hosted by berrybarndesigns.  Once it's written down, it has to happen!

I more than got my 7 hours of sewing in this week and most of it was selfish.


I started the week with this gem.  It's not my horse blanket, but it is my trainer's horse's blanket and since I've always thought it was so dumb to throw away torn blankets when they can be repaired, I was thrilled to finally be able to give in to my curiosity and fix one.


Plus, I'm sure the people over at Pessoa are ready to croak over seeing their name so ridiculously tacked onto another brand of blanket that doesn't even match.

Selfish sewing indeed :)

Then I had two quick hand sewing repairs: an old fleece vest that I wear for riding which was like a $10 buy at a discount store about a decade ago and has lasted me all this time, and k-ster's snow pants.  They are fairly old and look great, but one of the threads appears to have rotted and came undone.

Easy peasy, and no need for pictures.

K-ster's friend had some curtains for his bathroom that were too big and he wanted me to cut them down.  I am sad to say that I didn't do anywhere near my best work, so I didn't take a picture.  He's tickled, the windows are covered, and they are out of my hands.

Selfish because I wanted them done so I could get to the next thing.  Case closed.


I also finally got around to cutting out the paper pattern for Sloan leggings from Hey June.  I'm really skeptical that they will work without a fancy coverstitch  machine, but I cut them out and thought about fabric.  I took a trip to Joann to see what knits they  had and bought the most ridiculously expensive knit in the place, completely by accident.  By the time I got to the register and realized, I decided it was fine since it was slightly on sale and I usually get great bargains, so I was due to pay the price.

By then my sister suggested that it wasn't the best knit for leggings because it probably wouldn't have enough stretch all the way around, and stretch is my biggest worry for self made leggings.  I agree and now I have to restrategize that one.

And figure out what I'm going to do with that fabric now....

But, all the while in the background, the rainbow quilt was coming to life!


I've had this rainbow idea floating around in my head for a long time.  I thought if I sewed a bunch of strips together in a rainbow and then cut them up and arranged them, I'd have quite a quilt.

Construction, deconstruction, reconstruction.  NO idea what got into me.

So, I got out all kinds of strips that I have in my stash, as well as my stash itself, and got to work making 2 inch and 3 inch strips.  I decided to do a 3 inch, then 2 inch, then 3 then 2 of each color.


When I was done, I had about 48 inches by 60+ inches.  While Bo gave his kitty approval, I wasn't so thrilled.  I knew I wanted it to be wider than 48 inches, but I didn't know what to do.

So, I decided to take each color away from the others, so I had just a fat strip of red, orange, etc.  All that sewing only to under the rainbow.  My plan was to cut a bunch of 8 inch squares of each color because that's how wide each color was.

Just as I was about to cut, I had a brainstorm that I should make a log cabin out of the rainbow, with a white square in the center.


Because most of what I do when I'm not following a pattern (and sometimes even when I am) has very little forethought and never any measuring, all went really well until the second orange strip.  I ran out of strip, so I had to make more and then I had to make more red, all of which took a while because I had already used most of the red and orange strips in my stash.  Lots of repeats there.

All together, I liked the look.

I thought a white edge would really pull it together.

So far, the entire top was nothing but my stash and scraps and I was really pleased with that.  I debated what to do about the back when I found this piece folded away.


I'm not really sure why I had yards and yards of this stashed away but I think it might have had to do with a fish applique quilt that made a few times.  I was on a roll and thought this looked like bubbles so I bought a bunch.  It might even have been a remnant at the time so I snatched the whole thing.

I don't do much applique these days, so the fish quilt hasn't resurfaced in a while.

I don't worry too much about backs matching fronts or making sense with fronts because in my mind, they are two completely separate things.  But, with the blue in the rainbow, this would be fine.

I was on such a roll with using just what I had in my sewing room, I thought maybe I could finagle a batting.  Whenever I make a quilt, I always have left over batting but never enough to do much with.  It's usually long strips that are less than 12 inches wide.  Or nice wide pieces but not too long.

I fantasize that I will make bags and potholders, but who really does that?


I've heard about whipstitching or zigzagging batting pieces together to make "frankenbatting" but I remember someone tell me they thought it would fall apart inside the quilt, so I've only added a small strip here or there as needed.  I knew I'd quilt it pretty close, so I thought I'd give it a whirl with this.

I should call this challenge the "Give it a Whirl Challenge" because I think I've said it out loud and in print about a dozen times this week.

I was fairly pleased with the batting although there was a little curved issue that I didn't realize I'd done but no one will know except for me.


I needed to get some white thread, which was what I planned to quilt with, but while I was at Joann, it hit me that maybe rainbow thread would be fun.  I bought two of the smaller spools and actually ran completely out of both.  This about 60 x 60 so I was shocked to run out of one spool, let alone two.  I almost bought one bigger one, but figured I'd be stuck with rainbow forever.

I thought the rainbow would be neat on the white spaces and I think it is, but it's better in real life.  Or at least, real light.



The only successful quilting I can do on anything over about 24 inches is my wavy quilt stitch.  My machine has this stitch as one of its few decorative stitches and I feel like it gives me a lot of leeway.  I am all about precision but when it comes to manhandling a quilt through my regular sewing machine (that means not a longarm!) precision goes out the window and I'm happy if I can make it through a row without breaking anything, including a body part.


This is how I roll, literally.  I don't pin baste.  I did that once and was furious at the mess I made.  It bunched and was just awful.  I lay it all out, smooth and smooth and smooth, hold my  breath and roll it up from one direction on the diagonal, smoothing as I go.


A woman at school who knows I sew walked into my room the other day with some things she didn't want anymore and in the bag were these!  I don't know what you'd call them, but they go around the rolled part of the quilt to keep it rolled.  I have been looking for these forever because I was sure I had seen them once, but didn't know what they were called.

At one point, I even asked k-ster if there was a tool that went around pipes like this because I thought maybe I could get them at the hardware store.  But, without a picture, the best he could come up with was something that wasn't open like this and the openness is what makes it work.


They aren't completely fool proof.  As you unwind one side, they start to  get too loose and then the other side isn't quite ready for them.  So, there is still a period where I'm holding, squeezing and praying that it won't all come undone.

But overall, they are a Godsend.

I finished the quilting but didn't take a pictures because it was too dark to do them justice.  Plus, now I can put the binding on and completely finish it for next week's reveal.

I had one of the most productive sewing weeks I've had in a while.  Probably since last year's 4x7 Sewing Challenge!

Can't wait to see what's up this week, and with a snowday already declared, I'll be Giving it a Whirl all week long!

Linking here:
http://www.berrybarndesigns.com/blog/4x7-sewing-challenge-week-1-progress
http://www.julieslifestyle.blogspot.com/
http://olives-n-okra.com/merry-monday-90/
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2016/02/clever-chicks-blog-hop-177-featuring.html

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Trusty, Dusty Machine

'Tis the time of year for horses to wear their blankets and recently, a blanket came in looking like this.  The part that ripped had a piece of the strap to keep the blanket on, and no strap = a useless blanket.

Horse blankets cost anywhere from $100 to crazy amounts I can't even type, so if a blanket rips, you really don't want to run out and buy a new one.

For someone who sews, the idea of throwing away a blanket because of a tear is heart breaking, but the idea of bringing a very dirty horse blanket near my sewing room and Lady Bernina was impossible to process.  I'm still twitching at the idea of horse sweat gliding through her Lady parts!  The only way I'd consider it would be if the blanket was washed first, but washing it might make things worse because the batting might fall out and really make a mess.

Back when I first discovered freecycle.com, I ended up with this very old Kenmore.  I got it for a
friend who decided she wanted to sew and since it was free, I figured it was worth cleaning up and testing out.  And it worked just fine.  Straight stitches, no nonsense.  Can you imagine stitching on a machine that can only do a straight stitch???

My friend was highly unimpressed with this behemoth and quickly found a more modern machine that weighed about half of this one and looked a lot more modern and pretty.   I don't blame her. It's like driving your great grandfather's jalopy.  It's big, it's noisy, it feels ancient and it has some rust and dirty spots.  It does not inspire sewing things like lace or baby blankets.

It makes you feel like you need to be sewing seat covers and industrial strength straps on things.

For years, maybe close to a decade, it has sat in her garage, never touched again.  I figured this might be a good machine to use to do some barn tack repairs because :   it's already given a lifetime of use so if it dies, it's no big deal.  It's pretty heavy duty and seemed like it could power through thicker materials.  I wouldn't mind if it got dirty.

Where to set it up  became the next question.  It's winter and cold outside, and at the barn, the only place with heat is the bathroom.  I didn't really want to haul it in to the barn but I also didn't want to set it up in my kitchen, though that seemed  like the best idea because I could clean that room best if I got dirt and horse grime all over the place.


It turned out to be a very mild weather, so I set it up out in the unheated garage and got to work.  What should have been a very simple set up quickly became a big fight with the thread and just as I was about to give up on the whole idea, I changed threads and it was like a whole new day.

I needed a lot of space to spread out both the ripped blanket and the blanket that I was going to use to get the new leg strap.  There's something wrong with the plaid one, aside from no horse wanting to be caught dead in plaid, so she told me to go ahead and cut whatever I needed off of it.

In my experience, all of the blankets I've used have the same leg strap and buckling system.  Not only would this work because the buckle was the same, but the angle it was sewn on the plaid blanket was the same as the navy one, so everything was set to come together like it's supposed to.


I did some math and actually got a tape measure to make sure I was placing the strap at the same place as it was on the old blanket.  Good thing I did because on the plaid blanket, there was more space between the strap and the back of the blanket binding, so I had to make some on the spot decisions. One of those decisions was how to attach the binding.  Since the binding of the navy blanket was still in one piece (how this all was torn is kind of unfathomable because the material is completely gone but the binding is still intact... what horses can accomplish in the ways of destruction is really mind boggling), I didn't want to cut it and create a bulky join.


I decided to rip out the top stitching on the binding so I could open it and slide the new piece in and restitch.  Two rows of stitching and a very old seam ripper and a lazy seamstress who didn't want to go in her house to get her better seam ripper made for a lengthy process but it was eventually all ripped out and ready to sew.

I sewed the binding on first because I was most concerned about that.  I figured I could fudge the attachment of the rest of the new piece as long as the binding properly encased the new piece.

Once I figured out my thread issue, that machine sailed right through!


The plaid had some nice lines that I actually followed for folding and sewing but I needed to pin it all in place.  This material is thick ripstop nylon and there is a nylon lining inside.  Most of what I needed to sew didn't involved batting but there was one area that was slightly thicker with some batting in it.  It's all pretty slippery and I thought maybe some spray on glue would be good next time to help hold it in place.

Getting pins through the waterproof layers was tricky and my fingers are pretty sore.


If the old blanket had been navy this would have been even better but it's totally functional and saved a ton of money!  Plus, when someone isn't familiar with every horse in the field, she can say "the one with the little piece of plaid on the blanket" and everyone will know who she means!

I'd like to offer to do this more often for people, but set up is a pain.  I have nowhere to leave this old machine set up and it's so heavy I'm not sure where I even want to store it.  At the moment, it's riding around in my car but that has to stop.  There's a problem with the presser foot, so if I were to do more repairs, I'd need to find a replacement.  I think it's bent and the needle kept hitting it, so I ended up using the only other foot I could find which was a rolled hem foot.  It did the job but wasn't ideal.

I'm pretty sure this machine is from the 1950s, so to use it in 2016 is a pretty impressive feat!

Linking here:
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2016/02/show-and-tell-link-party-47/
http://www.myturnforus.com/2016/02/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy.html
http://www.thesitsgirls.com
http://olives-n-okra.com/funtastic-friday-60/ 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Kick In the Butt I Need In Winter

Does winter make you lazy?  It's supposed to be the hot summer days that makes us laze around, but for me, when the cold weather comes, I sometimes find myself frozen in place.  I'll  be comfortable and warm and the thought of going somewhere and getting cold again just doesn't appeal to me.

Don't get me wrong,  I don't hang around inside all winter, but I want to lay on the couch and loll around much more than I do when it's warm.

When it's warm I like to loll in my hammock!

The other thing I don't have any motivation to do in the winter is go to my sewing room.  It's upstairs and we only heat upstairs enough to keep the pipes from freezing but because it's not well insulated, we don't spend time up there.

But then I want to sew and sometimes, I actually need to sew, so I have to bite the bullet and get on it.  If I wait until afternoon, the sun is in my sewing room and it's not usually as cold as I think it's going to be.  Plus, I can turn on the heat if I want, but I hesitate to throw money out the walls like that.  Usually, a pair of socks, slippers and a vest are all I need and I'm plenty warm.

Berry Barn Designs

Last year, I ran into the 4x7 Sewing Challenge from www.berrybarndesigns.  The plan is very simple:

1.  sew a little bit every day for the month of February.  (that's the 4x7.  She's a math girl.   It took me a while to figure out the significance of those numbers.  And since there are 29 days in February this year, it's actually 4x7+1.  I figured that out all on my own :)
2.  once a week, go to her linkup and show what you've been working on.
3.  possibly win a prize each week.

Something hanging over my head to make me do some of that sewing I always want to do but never get around to?  Possibly win a prize?  Yes please!!

I discovered that I really cannot possibly sew every single day, but I doubled up some days and had to skip others.  In the end, my biggest achievement was my Queen of Hearts quilt because I had always planned to make one but never got around to it.  You can see everything I posted here, here, here and here.

I actually won a prize one week which was really cool because I love to win but also  because it was the one prize I wanted to win the most:  a rainbow of fabric!

So, this year, as we headed toward February, I started thinking about the 4x7 Sewing Challenge and lo and behold, she's doing it again!  I'm excited because I have a LOT of plans.  I know the goal is to sew for yourself, but I don't really want to sew for myself as much as I want to get things in my brain out in material to see if they will work and how they will look.  And to get them out of my brain so I can think about other things!!

And really, that is sewing for myself so I can stop driving myself crazy with these ideas and actually see if they will work instead!

1.  A rainbow quilt.  Or two.   Like the Queen of Hearts quilt ,  I've always thought about making a rainbow quilt in strips, out of nothing but scraps, but I never get around to it.  I have finally have big plans for the rainbow I've put together here!

2.  Repairing barn tack and blankets.  I've fixed a few things here and there with my machine, but horses are filthy and I hesitate to use Lady Bernina to sew through dirty blankets.  She'll get all dirty and grungy herself.  I recent reacquired an old clunker of a machine that might be just the right thing.  If I can make it work, I can fix things for myself but possibly make a little extra fixing them for other people too!

3.  LEGGINGS.  I have a pattern ready to go, but I'm convinced I will just blow through the seams the first time I wear them, so I have to get on it and try my first pair.  I'm told that I will love them!

I also have some plans to rearrange my sewing room but I can't put the details into writing yet because it's unlikely that I will really do it this month and I hate to write out a plan that I probably won't even attempt.

What about you?  Do you have sewing projects floating around in your brain that you never get a chance to sit down and do?  Do you need motivation to get your butt in gear and make things?  Do you suffer from the winter doldrums that leave you surfing pinterest but never leaving the couch?

DO IT!  Join in the 4x7 Sewing Challenge and see what happens!

Linking here:
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2016/01/clever-chicks-blog-hop-176-featuring.html 
http://www.julieslifestyle.blogspot.com/2016/02/cooking-and-crafting-with-j-j-36-and.html
http://www.sewcando.com/2016/01/februarys-first-craftastic-monday-link.html
http://www.skiptomylou.org/made-by-you-monday-274/
http://olives-n-okra.com/merry-monday-89/

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Parfait Perfection

Are you big dessert eaters in your house?  In my house, there's always the desire for dessert after supper, but there isn't always something for dessert.  I don't always bake desserts, I rarely buy them and sometimes, I don't want to think about dessert and all of the extra calories we don't need.

But someone always asks if there's dessert and scrounging around will quickly commence if something isn't provided.

Enter the parfait.  Parfaits are great for a bunch of reasons:

-they sound fancy because the word is French
-parfaits are really just mini trifles
-parfait means perfect in French, so you feel like you're making perfection
-you can totally make it up each time and it will always taste good
-you can put them in fancy glasses to fool everyone into thinking you're fancy

Wow, that's two fancies in one post.  I'm not fancy, so there must be some underlying Freudian thing at work here!

In my mind, parfaits are a mixture of fruit, yogurt, some kind of crumbs and something sweet.  This month, I've made the following parfait a few times to rave reviews:

-graham cracker crumbs
-Stonyfield vanilla 0% fat Greek yogurt
-frozen peaches
-coconut
-chocolate

First, that Stonyfield vanilla Greek yogurt is so sweet, you'll think you're eating ice cream.  And it's not really as thick as the Greek yogurts I like, so it works well in this parfait.

I crush graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle them into the bottom of a glass, saving some for another layer.

Then I scoop in about an ice cream scoop full of yogurt.

I chop up the frozen peaches and sprinkle some in, saving some for another layer.

Sprinkle some coconut.

I used Dove chocolates that were super on sale from Christmas, but any kind of chocolate would work.  Chop it up and sprinkle.

Then do the whole thing again.

I use the peaches still frozen and make this as I begin making supper and let it sit out.  By the time supper is over, the peaches have thawed and the whole thing is a nice chilled dessert.

Big surprise:   my quantities are vague because it depends on how many you are making and how many things you are adding in.  I chop as I go.

Because there's yogurt in it, it's pretty filling, and because there's chocolate and coconut, it's pretty sweet, so everyone leaves feeling satisfied.  I can't verify the healthiness of it, but it's definitely better than brownies or fudge or pie, no doubt!

Over the years, I've done this with different kinds of yogurt and different fruits.  Experiment and see what you can put in your parfaits to make your family go crazy!

Linking here:
http://www.skiptomylou.org/made-by-you-monday-273/
http://www.sewcando.com
http://www.flamingotoes.com/
http://julieslifestyle.blogspot.com/
http://olives-n-okra.com/merry-monday-88/  
http://www.myturnforus.com/2016/01/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_28.html
http://www.thesitsgirls.com 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January Means Garden Planning



Every year, I sort of plan my gardens in my mind and I get seeds and get ready to be organized and systematic in the winter and then suddenly it's May and I'm planting willy nilly and have no idea what I'm doing anymore.

I will proudly say that I label everything one way or another (usually with a sharpie and I write directly on the container), so it's not like I go out and have to guess at what every plant is as it emerges, but I'm bad about recording planting dates and highlighting the good vs. the less prosperous varieties.   Plus, I hate to count ahead for the days when the seeds are supposed to be ready to harvest because that points out the end of summer for me way too far in advance.

Instead, I blindly go along from day to day watching progress, paying no attention to how many weeks it's supposed to take for some of my veggies to ripen.

The first year I had the greenhouse, I was good about writing in a notebook and I recorded every seed I planted for about 4 months.  We had had a really mild winter that year and I was lucky enough to get peas going in March and lots of other stuff in April.  The following year, we had a normal winter and a frost killed everything in April that had been doing so well.  Lesson learned!


And then it was high summer and I was just a planting and replanting fool and the sun bleached my writing and I just gave up.

I know there are tons of garden planning apps and programs that would help me with this, but that would mean bringing my ipad to my greenhouse which would mean filthy and wet fingers all over it. 

This year, I swear I'm getting a white board to write the dates I plant the seeds and when they emerge.

Last week, I ordered all of my seeds.  Or so I thought.  I was very methodical and actually wrote down everything I wanted to make sure I grow this year.  I went through all of my current seeds to see what I have, how old they are and what I need.

I always thought ordering seeds from catalogs was something Pa did on Little House on the Prairie which in this modern age, I would have no need to do.  As I've grown in my gardening knowledge and preferences, I've discovered that what I want isn't always available in my local stores.  And what I want is organic and heirloom and definitely non-GMO.  Seed catalogs seem to be the best choice for what I want.

And that's all I will say about my beliefs about organic, non-GMO and heirloom.  Otherwise, another dissertation like this one will be the result and I can only torture my fans with one dissertation per quarter.

You probably imagine that I save my own seeds.  Saving seeds can be a jackpot or a great disappointment.   There's biology at work in creating seeds and if you have several varieties of plant, such as 5 kinds of tomatoes, they can end up cross pollinated.  That means when the seeds form, they may or more likely will not, look like the original plant.  So, the most amazing tomatoes this year might produce something awful next near.  The way to prevent this is to grow one kind of plant in one garden and one kind in another but I have no desire to do that.

I have saved some beans from year to year and grown the offspring but that's about it.  There's too much at stake in relying on my own saved seeds.  If I didn't buy seeds and those that I saved didn't grow or weren't good, I'd be pretty mad that I didn't have whatever vegetable I would have had.

I've had great luck with seeds from Seeds of Change, so I definitely ordered from them.  I've grow a few things from Territorial Seed and I've liked them, so I got a few seeds from them too.  I always go to Seeds of Change first, because they were the first catalog I ever ordered from.  If they don't have what I want, then I go to Territorial Seed.

And after I  placed my orders, I realized I completely forgot to order cilantro.  And these watermelon radishes that I keep seeing everywhere.  I've asked around and people told me they got them from Seeds Now.

Since I follow Seeds Now on instagram, I knew they were having a flash sale this weekend, so I ordered my forgotten seeds from them.

Now I simply cannot wait to start my seeds in the greenhouse and get going.  We just got a foot of snow, so it's definitely not time even for peas, but I'm excited to get my act together this year and have a very full summer of harvesting!

Linking here:
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2016/01/clever-chicks-blog-hop-175-featuring.html
http://olives-n-okra.com/merry-monday-88/ 
http://www.skiptomylou.org/made-by-you-monday-273/
http://www.sewcando.com
http://www.flamingotoes.com/
http://julieslifestyle.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm Sort of the Weird Neighbor Your Mother Warned You About

I don't spend as much time running around the blogosphere as I used to, and I'm sad to say that I don't read anywhere near the number of blogs that I did a few years ago.

Instead, I use the time that I have to read snippets here and there or get specific recipes or suggestions because otherwise, I'd spend 23 hours online and never sleep.

There's just too much out there!

One word that catches my eye a lot while I cruise the interwebs is the word "homesteading".  This word sort of makes me vibrate and get a little  nervous.  Because I immediately picture long haired hippies living off the grid with chickens in their living room, burying all of their harvest down in their root cellars, while trying to make a heating system out of bricks and 55 gallon drums.

This is completely a combination of every homesteading/doomsday prepper show I've watched on TV and the exact reason I fear the word homesteading.

When I first started blogging, I found a lot of like minded souls who had gardens and did a lot of DIY stuff.  They sometimes tossed around the word homestead and I like the quaintness of it, or at least the control that it meant they were taking over what they were consuming and putting onto the earth.  This pushed me to continue my pursuit of being somewhat self-sufficient.  I started a second garden, started canning and drying as much as my gardens would let me and learned to always run to the internet when my DIY project went awry or couldn't get started.

Legendary greenhouse and clothesline.
I read their posts and enjoyed the lighthearted "life on the farm" attitudes of these women (mostly) who had real jobs and real lives but, like me, had small farming aspirations on the side.  6 chickens, a goat, a huge garden- all of this got me thinking a small farm might be good.

I already had the greenhouse.

And then I started seeing homesteading in a different light, probably thanks to the stupid shows on TV.  Even on the internet, homesteading seems to have a heavier feeling.  People are stocking up and acting like the apocalypse is coming tomorrow.  And it's made me bristle a little bit.  What I once took as a sort of fun side activity that has great benefits is actually the way of life for soeme people.  Or so it seems.

And it's made me realize a lot of things:

Love my electric breadmachine.
#1.  I like electricity.  I didn't grow up without it, we always had reliable service and many of the "homesteading" activities that I do actually require it.

I like heat.  I like AC.  I love hot water.  I enjoy my mobile devices when they are fully charged.  I don't want to live off the grid.

#2.  I still have a job.  And I have to.  Even if I had won powerball, I think I'd still have to work.  For a while at least.  Because I need that contact with the outside world.

Plus, if I didn't have anyone to shock at work with my "pioneer days" behavior, it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, right?

#3.  Animals are great and their food and products are wonderful, but they are a lot of work.  And like a garden that is so easily destroyed by nature, animals can get sick and die and all of that time invested is gone.

Thawing ice inside my house.
We have winter here!
I'm a teacher, so I have summers off, and it sounds like a great idea to have a few sheep and a donkey when it's 60 degrees on a May morning.  But going out to deal with a barnful of animals when it's 19 degrees and dark in January at 5:20am, BEFORE I spend the day wrangling 6 classes of preteens and then repeating it all when I get home and everything has frozen solid and I can't open the door to the barn because it froze shut suddenly loses its appeal.

Again, why I need a job.  I can't live knowing that if my steer dies of illness, we won't have meat for the winter.  Or of I can't unfreeze the water, everyone's going to die of thirst.  Or that I might lose a finger to frostbite because the pig got out and wandered away and I didn't have my gloves when I went running in search of it.

So, let's be clear.  I will not use the word homesteading on my blog in the near future.

Here are some claims I am pretty confident that I can make and stick to:

I will continue to do what I do and pretend that I am a little bit like a pioneer woman.  I will not grow dreadlocks and stop washing with soap because someone said that's what nature intended.

I will still read the great DIY suggestions that I find.  I will try to convince k-ster that I need him to cut me some wood for projects and ask for help trying to figure out how to make something that will make life easier.  I will not suggest that we build a house out of logs all by ourselves from the back 40.

Mainly because we don't have a back 40.  And I don't like log homes.

I will continue to use vinegar as an all purpose cleaner and disinfectant.  I will not throw out all bleach and ammonia because I think that sometimes, we really need to use them.  Just never together!

Total crop failure. Thanks to wildlife.
I will keep my gardens and can and dry food and get excited when it's January and I'm still using my own canned tomatoes.  I will not tear up the front lawn and make it a garden.  Yet.

Canning on Aunt Mildred's porch!
I will probably expand my gardens over time until it feels like I can say that I have "crops".  I'd love to have an orchard and grow some fruit trees but keeping pests at bay naturally is very daunting to me.  I will not quit my job and become a farmer.

Unless I hit the jackpot and can live knowing that I have the cash to help me if the crops and animals fail me.

I might have a few chickens along the way, mainly for their eggs.  Those of you who know me are definitely picturing me slaughtering chickens and being all "what, anyone can do it, it's no big deal, that's what they are there for" but it's pretty unlikely.  If I HAD to do it, I would, but I am not in a real homesteading predicament where I HAVE to do anything.

I will continue to wash my clothes in an electric, new fangled washing machine with commercial soap that I didn't produce with witchcraft and spells in the back yard.  I will mostly dry those clothes on the line but I will not wear cardboard stiff jeans or hang my clothes in the rain, so I will continue to use my dryer when necessary.

I will continue to use modern medicine for myself and others if it seems like the most reasonable course to keep from dying.  I will not use herbs to cure everything.  I will continue to convince myself that I will get better tomorrow and refuse to see a doctor until I've had enough of that.  I will most likely not see a healer and even a visit to a homeopath is unlikely.

Restaurant nachos can be delicious!
Circus peanuts.
I will continue my pledge to eat a lot of clean and organic foods.  I will not 100% give up the occasional fast food binge or foray into a bag of circus peanuts.  It's 2016 and it's just so easy to fall off the healthy wagon.


As I write this, I hope my thoughts are resonating with a lot of you.  In my reading, I've discovered a lot of people who seem to be like me: enjoying making and growing things myself and knowing where they came from, while also using gasoline in my modern car to get to the store that sells the things I need in order to do it myself.

Knowing that it's possible to live off the land while writing about it on my electric powered laptop.

Sometimes, we've had enough greens!
Buying produce at the grocery because it's February in New England and if I eat one more green from my greenhouse or potato from my stash I might kill someone because I crave a piece of real, fresh fruit.

Do you try to DIY until it falls apart and you cave and buy BIY( buy it yourself)?

Do you pledge to eat off the land until the land produces nothing and you have to eat off someone else's land?

Do you swear you will eat well, know the source of your food and stick to a reduced desserts diet only to decide that chocolate covered anything sounds like a good idea some days?

Do you make your own vinegar cleaner and then decide you have to add a little ammonia too just in case the vinegar doesn't really disinfect?

Linking here:
http://www.myturnforus.com/2016/01/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_21.html
http://olives-n-okra.com/ 

Friday, January 15, 2016

One Pot Ham Dish

I discovered part of this recipe on the fly.  It seems the best tasting meals I make are those that I hear about with no specific measurements and adjust as I go.

I originally heard about potatoes and greens from an Indian woman I know.  The eggs and ham were totally my own addition and definitely necessary for a whole meal.

First, I took some olive oil in a pan and chopped up some potatoes to add in.  They were red potatoes but I imagine any kind  would work.  I also very thinly sliced a very small red onion that I had laying around.  I doubt this did much for flavor but it made everything smell really good! 


While the potatoes were sizzling on medium high, I chopped up some ham and tossed it in.  The ham was the impetus for this dish.  I have bought a thick slice of ham from the deli before, but when the kid handed this to me, it was the thickest slice I've ever seen!  Usually, they tell me they can do about 3/4 of an inch and that's the thickest that blade will go.  This was at least 1.5 inches thick!  I realized I had to find several uses for such a big piece!

This would be a great follow up meal to a ham dinner!

After about 20 minutes, the potatoes were getting soft, so I added greens.  I had some "baby cooking greens" in one container and spinach in another, so I added them both.  I'm always amazed at how much they cook down.  By the time I added what I thought would be enough, it must have been enough green to fit in one of those large plastic spinach containers.


That's a lot of greens for 2 people but when they cooked down, it seemed like very little.

One of the things I always worry about when I add greens to steam down is that whatever was already in the pan is going to burn.  Probably because this happened once with onions and spinach and it was a raging mess. This particular pan allows me to hold onto handles on both sides to shake it around while the cover is on and keep things moving.


The greens wilted pretty quickly, so when everything was flat, I took the cover off and stirred it all up.  Then I added the eggs.  I decided 4 eggs, one for each corner (of a round pan?) , would be good.


Again, I worried that the potatoes and ham would scorch as the eggs were poaching, so I did a little bit of time with the cover on and a little with it off.  If I remember correctly, I think I turned the heat down a little bit here.  I probably could have left the cover on the whole time but I was worried about the food on the bottom.

When the eggs looked solid, I added a little balsamic vinegar to the pan.


We each had 2 eggs and a hearty helping of the greens, potatoes and ham.  It was really good and easy to make.  Since there were potatoes in it, I didn't make a starch on the side and since there were greens, I didn't make a vegetable, so this was a great one pot meal.

This fed 2 people and we ate the whole thing.  I can't imagine how you would do this for 4 or more people in one pan.  I think you'd have to have two pans going at once because adding much more to the pan could be a problem, plus too many eggs might make it a mess in the final step.

Linking up:
http://www.thesitsgirls.com
http://www.julieslifestyle.blogspot.com/2016/01/cooking-and-crafting-with-j-j-34-and.html
http://www.skiptomylou.org/made-by-you-monday-272/
http://www.flamingotoes.com/2016/01/show-and-tell-link-party-45/ 
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2016/01/clever-chicks-blog-hop-174-featuring.html
http://www.myturnforus.com/2016/01/freedom-fridays-with-all-my-bloggy_14.html
http://olives-n-okra.com/funtastic-friday-57/
http://www.sewcando.com