Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Dinner

As I wrote in my last post, Christmas was not what we had originally intended.  Dinner was wonderful nonetheless.  I was excited to be bringing an entire feast of foods that I had grown and made to the table.

I almost forgot to photograph it, but did get a snapshot just as we started to eat.

It's not the best, but you'll get the idea.  The prime rib was of course from DenBesten farms.  The carrots and green beans were from the garden.  I'm really hoping that all of this snow will melt and I'll be able to harvest the last of my carrots.  The potatoes were Yukon Golds that I grew.  We've almost used all of the yukon golds, but since they're starting to sprout, that is just as well.  They also had bacon that I made earlier in them and some Cabot cheese. 

Dinner was delicious, but would have been better if my parents could have been there.  I was able to get another meal from the prime rib and made stock from the bones for later meals.  Nothing goes to waste here.  Toby even got the carrots and last of the meat from the bones after the stock was made. 

This was the 4th meal for the Dark Days Challenge at the (not so) Urban Hennery.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The weather outside is frightful

It's snowing again.  We have a couple inches on the ground from last week and we're predicted to get about 20 more inches today and tomorrow.  So, have I run to the store?  Nah.  I'm sitting here with bread in the oven, the bones from yesterdays roast in the pot for stock and happiness in my heart.

Yesterday was not what I had expected, but wonderful nonetheless.  We got a call from my parents yesterday morning at about 9:30.  I was thinking it was just to tell us they were on their way.  Instead it was my father calling to say my mother was nauseated and having chest pain.  I'm a cardiac nurse (I haven't worked since Morgan was born) and Hubby is a paramedic.  We're the ones who get called whenever there is a problem.  We told them to call 911 and met them at the hospital.  Thankfully all seems to be ok.  Mom is having a stress test as I write this, but it looks like the whole thing was just some anxiety and stress.

We made the best of it and went home to eat our meal.  My parent's will come over sometime this week for Christmas.  The kids will be thrilled to have the holiday last a little longer and have another day of presents.  We're just happy that Mom is alright.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you had a wonderful day.  Now is the time to reflect over the year and get ready for the new one.

Peace to all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all.  I hope your day is as wonderful as ours. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First snow of the season

We are having our first snow.  It started yesterday and was predicted to be nothing.  They lied.  Cape Cod is buried and we have about 4 inches with it still coming down.  I'm really not a fan of snow.  My friend Kiwi loves it and wants me to appreciate it too.  While I love having 4 distinct seasons, I am not a big fan of winter and the snow.  Apparently, I need to move.  I will say that it is pretty.

The tomato frames against the garden.

The broccoli giving some texture to the garden in the snow.

Every year I think it would be nice to decorate this with lights.  We've lived here for 9 years and it hasn't happened yet.  Outside decoration doesn't really happen here. 

I'm obsessing about the chickens again.  They are really well protected this year, but still have a coating of snow in their run.  They're refusing to go out.  I forced a few to go out, and even put some goodies in their run, but they won't budge.  I wouldn't care, but their food and water is in the run out of necessity.  I'm sure they'll go out eventually, but I worry anyway.  Yes, I'm probably nuts. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meal #3 lot of stored veggies from the garden.

I woke this morning to a dusting of snow.  The kids were excited to see even the coating that we got.  The week is supposed to bring flurries most days this week, with no meaningful accumulation.   Right now, I'm really happy with pretty, but not inconvenient.  Tomorrow is the solstice and I'm planning to plant some things to celebrate.  For now, we still have lots of stored veggies from the garden. 

Last night we ate some more of those veggies.  I decided to make a roast in the rotisserie oven.  You will remember the infomercials from 8 or 10 years ago.  Hubby bought me one long ago and it is in sad shape.  The plastic arms that hold the door on have broken.  Hubby had taken it into the fire station once and we're now missing parts as well.  It still works though, and I refuse to throw it away until it completely dies. 

As you can see, the roast was a perfect medium rare.  I never make roasts and when we order our half cow from Den Besten farms, I always account for that.  There are always a few that I allow, but generally even those get turned into jerky.  The sides are the Rio Grande russets from the garden with raw milk from a local farm.  The sugar snap peas were frozen from the garden, along with the beets that were harvested in July. 

It's amusing to set a plate in front of my family and have them ask for more veggies before they even eat.  The garden veggies have that effect on us.  Somehow the store veggies just don't taste quite the same.  These will run out eventually, so I'm planning a trip to the Providence farmers market with some good friends in January.  It will be nice to see all the other lovely things they have as well.   Dark Days meals aren't so tough when your pantry and freezers already hold so many wonderful local things.  You would be hard pressed to find a meal we eat that doesn't have at least something from one of the local farms. 

This post is part of Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions and The Dark Days Challenge at The (not so) Urban Hennery. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Potatoes year in review

This is the first year that I made an effort to grow potatoes for the year.  In the past I've planted grocery store potatoes in pots (failure) and 2 years ago there were seed potatoes bought on a whim (failure).  This year I decided to go all out.  The year started with me buying a ridiculous amount of seed potatoes.  When I realized my error, most of them were given away to other gardening friends.  This is what I ended up with.

All seed potatoes were purchased from Fedco's Moose Tubers.  These were the Rio Grande Russets.  We are big russet lovers at our house and I had high hopes for the potatoes.  I planted 5 pounds and got approximately 40 pounds of potatoes when all was said and done.  The groundhogs did a number on them, so I'm sure I would have gotten significantly more otherwise.  The taste was nice, but not spectacular.  They've also been keeping quite nicely in my 50 degree basement.  My biggest issue with this variety was the size of the potatoes.  Most were quite small.  Since we like our russets baked, that poses a bit of a problem.  There were only a handful big enough to bake.  I'll be looking for another variety next year.

Next up were the Yukon Golds.  These are delicious potatoes.  I planted 2.5 pounds and ended up with about 20 pounds at the end of the summer.  They produced nice sized potatoes with a couple real whoppers.  Being an early potato, they aren't keeping as well as I would like.  Many are starting to sprout, so we've been eating them faster than the others.  I will certainly do these again next year.  Despite being the potato with the smallest yield, they are worth it for the taste.  Hopefully I'll be able to get enough to last until seed planting.

All Blues were the next variety I planted.  I planted 2.5 pounds and ended up with 40 pounds of spuds.   That's a pretty amazing yield.  The tubers were a decent size for the most part, but are longer and knobbier than the rest.  I thought the kids would love the blue color, but it freaked my 6 year old out instead.  The flavor is quite earthy and not really what we enjoy.  Since they really need to be peeled in order to make them slightly less earthy, the knobbiness is a bit of an issue.  In the end, they won't be planted again.

Lastly were the Kennebecs.  This is THE Maine potato.  I planted 5 pounds and got over 50 pounds in return.  The size was all over the place, from tiny to huge.  I've never been a huge fan of the waxy, all purpose potato and was prepared to dislike this one.  Instead, it's one of my favorites.  The flavor is wonderful and truly taste the way I want a potato to taste.  It's keeping pretty well in the basement.  A few have started to sprout in a half hearted way, but I think they'll last the winter. 

A few notes on planting and storage.  All of these potatoes were planted on April 21st.  I planted them in beds amended with aged chicken manure and nothing else.  They were planted about 3 inches deep and then hilled once up to a depth of about 8 inches.  All were harvested in September despite many of them dying back significantly earlier.  A few had been snuck out for us to eat throughout the summer.  They are being stored in cardboard boxes in my basement.  The temp is currently 50 degrees with 60 percent humidity right now.   We are loving having all these potatoes for meals. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pressure canning beans

Last Wednesday I posted a picture of some beans that I had just canned.  Leigh had requested that I post how I did them.  They are so easy it's ridiculous, so here you go.  I use this method for all my dried beans because I can never remember to have them ready when I need them.  It also works for all those beans that have been in your pantry for longer than you want to admit, and are hard as little rocks.  I have way too many of them.

 You start by rinsing and sorting your beans the way you would for any cooking.  Next add 1 slightly rounded 1/2 cup of beans to each pint jar.  Fill with warm (not hot) water and let them sit overnight.

 Next you take a picture of your six year old because she's way too cute and wants to be in the post.

In the morning simmer your lids, start your pressure canner heating and boil a few quarts of water.   Next, drain the soaking water from the beans.  You can rinse them more if you're worried about the cleanliness of your beans.  This is also the point where you can add any seasonings that you think might taste good.  These are pintos and I added 1/4 t granulated garlic and a few turns of black pepper.  Fill the jars with boiling water, wipe and cap.  Then pressure can at 11lbs pressure for 60 minutes.  If you want to do quarts, you would do 1 cup of beans and cook for 75 minutes.

Voila!  You have convenience food.  Since it's freezing out here, I tend to do this in the winter.  All of my beans are depleted, so next on the agenda are red kidney beans.  In my pantry I keep jars of red kidney, white, pinto, black and garbanzo (chick peas) beans.

I'll be linking this post to Simple Lives Thursday.

Edit:  This post has gotten quite popular on Pinterest.  To answer a few questions.
1.  I have used this same formula for many kinds of beans.  Garbanzos, black beans, kidney and pinto beans to name a few.
2.  Feel free to add meats and things if you wish.  This is a processing time that will safely process meat and just about anything else you wish to add.

Thanks for your interest!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dark Days meal #2 Dinner with the kids

Tis the season for craziness.  I had started this challenge ready to take on the world.  Then daily I would think "Oh this meal would be good, but there are 2 items that don't count.".  So, last night I decided to just bite the bullet and make sure that the meal was done and taken care of. 

It's been interesting to define what SOLE means to this challenge.  I'm trying very hard not to bend the rules.  Everybody seems to have different ideas of what exactly will count.  There was a great discussion in the email list last week about this.  To define what I'm doing I'll say that since I am so close to the coast, I'm going to include all of Southern New England and the lower half of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.  I'm sure this will have some tweaks throughout the year.  For instance, when we were on vacation in Virginia, we bought a cured Virginia ham from a tiny little farm.  It isn't local to me at home, but was certainly bought in the spirit of the challenge.  When we eat that, it will probably be included. 

So on to the meal.  Last night Hubby was working at the fire station and it was just the kids and I.  They, being kids wanted something that didn't have too much going on as far as complexity.  My kids will eat a lot of things that other children won't, but they do have their limits.  Last night was all about them.

The components of the meal are:

-Hamburger sans bun from Den Besten farms in Raynham Ma topped with raw milk blue cheese from Great Hill dairy in Marion Ma  The kids did not have the blue cheese. 

-Bread and butter pickles that I made from my garden last summer  It was a particularly good year for pickles and we're running out of them quickly.

-Home fries made from the All Blue potatoes that I grew in my garden.  They were fried up in the lard I rendered from the pig we got at Den Besten.

-Cascadia sugar snap peas from my garden.

It was a yummy, but simple meal.  The burger with the blue cheese and pickles was really amazing.  Hubby is going to be very sad that we ate some of his favorite sugar snaps without him.

This post is part of the Dark Days Challenge at the (not so) Urban Hennery.  The meals from around the country are really neat.  Head on over and check out what's cooking.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Soap

Last Spring I went to a great class on soapmaking.  It was a fabulous time and my friend Kerry and I decided we needed to do it again.  Kerry has a fabulous candle business and is into all the crazy crunchy things that I am.  We did all of this at her house with a few other friends.  Since Kerry is thinking about teaching and/or selling soaps, she bought a large amount of the tools we needed.

Things got set up.  We were making a soap with oatmeal and honey along with some nice scents that she had.

 This is Stephanie getting ready to make some soap.

 Everything ready to go.  

Starting to show trace.

Pouring soap into some of our makeshift molds.

These were some that I made with orange oil.  I don't do well with scents and actually ended up having a mild allergic reaction to something there.  I'm relatively sure it was one of the other scents we were paying with before we got started.

They all need to sit and harden now.  

The soap we made used coconut oil, organic palm oil, soy oil and olive oil.  The additives for mine were oatmeal and honey and one batch with orange oil added for some scent.  They were done using cold process.  I'm anxious to delve into soap more now.  This summer will be fun as I'm planning to use some of my veggies in place of the water for some of the soaps.  How cool would it be to have soap with some of my cucumbers, melon, tomatoes or carrots?  I can't wait to try it. 

Friday, December 10, 2010


Not only is it 5 degrees out, it's only 57 in my kitchen.  No wonder I'm cold!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Harvest Monday Dec 6, 2010

This week I went and pulled enough carrots to get us through a few weeks.  The fall harvest has been gorgeous.  It's really getting cold here lately and the ground is starting to freeze.  I have a feeling this will be my last harvest for quite a while.  There are still some odds and ends in the ground, but I will most likely leave them there until the next thaw.  I love looking at all the greens that everyone is harvesting and we have a few in the garden.  Unfortunately, my family only eats greens under protest.  It's all about babysteps. 

The rest of the garden has been put to bed for a few weeks, so nothing to report there.  I'm starting to plan for next year and will be adding another raised bed in the last space I have in my side yard.  There is a free planner on the Mother Earth News site that is very easy to use, so I've been playing with that.   The seed catalogs are dribbling in.  I've gotten 2 so far, one from Pinetree and the other from Totally Tomatoes. 

This post is part of Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.  Head on over and see all the wonderful harvests. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gingersnap Cookies

So, you may have noticed that I'm doing a lot of cooking lately.  It does seem to be that time of year.  Today I'm going to lunch at t friend's house and we'll be having a cookie swap as well.  This year I decided to make Gingersnap Cookies.  These are also one of those cookies that I discovered later in life.  My love of all things chocolate has made me miss out on some truly yummy treats.  Because it's a dark cookie, I use at least half whole wheat flour in my dough.  It certainly can take it!

Gingersnap cookies

2 cups flour  (white, whole wheat or a combo)
1 T ground ginger ( or more if you like em spicy)
2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
cinnamon sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine the flour and spices in a bowl.  Beat butter and sugar well, add egg and molasses and beat until light.  Slowly add the flour mixture until just blended.  Form into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. 

Bake for 10 minutes. 

I can't wait to see all the yummy cookies at today's swap.  It's good to have friends that are good cooks as well!

This post will also be a part of the Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap at Farmer's Daughter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The first night of Hannukah

Last night was the first night of Hannukah.  Since Hubby is Jewish and I'm a Christian, we celebrate a lot of holidays.  The kids love it and really enjoy the fact that they get to celebrate two religions.  This year our Hannukah was even better because the meal came in large part from our own garden. 

We had latkes made from potatoes that I grew and eggs from our chickens.  The applesauce was made from apples we picked at the farm down the road from us.  I made the brisket from the half cow we got this summer from a local farm and it was simmered with carrots and onions from our garden.  I had even made beef stock from the bones when we got the cow this summer and canned it up.  The best part was that it was delicious.  There are even leftovers for tonight. 

This post is part of the Dark Days Challenge at the (not so) Urban Hennery and Simple Lives Thursday. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I came to snickerdoodles late in life.  I used to always go for the flashier cookies and tended toward anything chocolate.  One day it came to me that I had never tried them, so I set out to find a recipe.  Strangely, most of the recipes I came across used shortening in them.  Shortening does not come to my house.  I decided to modify a few recipes and came up with this one.  They're all butter, sugar and white flour, but man are they good.


1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
1 t baking soda
2 t cream of tartar
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 T sugar
2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 and grease cookie sheets

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and mix until just combined.

Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Form dough into small balls and roll in cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown at the edges.

This recipe is being added to the Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap at Farmer's Daughter.  Check out all the yummy recipes added.   It is also being added to the Retro Housewife Goes Green:  Green Holiday Blog Carnival. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 29, 2010

It's really cold outside!  My garden has a heavy layer of frost on it, but I still have a harvest for the week.  Last Tuesday I decided to harvest the rest of the broccoli.  I'm leaving the stalks in the ground just so I have something to look at, but they're done for the year. 

We've done lots of eating from our garden this week though.  The canned tomatoes and sauces have made an appearance in many dishes.  Potatoes and carrots have also been big this week.  I made my Vegetable Beef Soup this week so all of the above was used, along with some frozen green beans from the garden. 

The remainder of the garden will stay in.  There is still some cabbage, although the heads never got very big.  The carrots are gorgeous and will be pulled whenever I can get them out.  The beets didn't get very big and will also be harvested when the ground thaws a bit. 

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what everyone is harvesting this week.  It's amazing to see what people are getting in this cold weather.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winterizing the chickens and lessons learned

We've had a warmer than normal fall so far.  Last year the girls were wintered up in the first week of November.  This year, we've had some cold nights, but nothing too bad.  The biggest issue is always the water.  I've been able to bang the waterer on the ground to break up the ice.  This morning was different though.  It was 21 degrees when I woke up and their water was a giant block of ice.  It was time to get them winterized. 

We learned a lot last year.  There is a learning curve with everything and chickens are certainly no exception.  Last year we had them under J's deck.  There were a lot of problems with that though.  I had to shovel a huge path out to them, which then turned to slippery ice.  If there was an issue in their yard, we had to climb under the deck, which just wasnt' fun.  It also didn't give them too much light under there, in addition to limited protection from snow. 

We got smarter this year.  They're now between the house and shed on J's side of our duplex.  It's south facing, so more sun.  It's right off the walkway, so snow is easier to deal with.  We don't have to climb under the deck either.  In order to offer even more protection, we put plastic sheeting over their yard to minimize the snow and wet.  Last year I spent hours trying to get snow out of their yard so that they would go out to eat and drink.  (Their food is in the yard out of necessity.)  I was just a little obsessive about it, actually.  Ok, I was a lot obsessive about it.  J laughed at me a lot. 

They seem pretty happy about the set up.  What's even better, is that their food and shavings are kept in the shed.  Last year they were in my kitchen.  It was messy, a major pain and I ended up with a nasty pantry moth infestation brought in by the feed. 

I can't tell you how happy I am with this new set up.  Of course I drove J crazy getting it set up today.  He calls me his 'Wife without benefits', but is easily placated with peach butter.  Men are easy.  The girls seem happy, but they need to start laying better!  We're only getting 1 to 2 eggs a day.  I didn't get the lights going early enough and it's taking a while for them to get back into the groove.  There will definitely be more chickens next year. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What I'm reading

Since the kids have been in school, I've had lots of time to myself.  One of the things I'm doing is to catch up on my reading.  Currently, I'm enjoying The Resilient Gardener Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe.

 The book takes a look at some of the history of growing foods along with the challenges that have been dealt with over time.  Deppe has Celiac disease which prevents her from eating wheat or anything that has gluten in it.  This has shaped how she gardens and cooks, as you might imagine.  Instead she focuses on 5 foods that are the basis for a healthy diet.  In this case potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.  

She and another man garden together on leased land in the Pacific Northwest.  They grow almost all their food on this land and store it in their garage.  There are chapters on each of the foods that she grows, with great detail on what kinds of seeds she prefers and why.  Great detail is given on how they grow, problems that may arise and how to deal with those problems.  Storage and recipes are also given plenty of attention.  

I'm finding this to be one of those books that makes me want to add more beds to my garden.  As seed catalogs start to arrive, I'll be making lots of notes as to what new varieties would be fun to try.  Every family has different tastes, but focusing on the basics is wise for any of us that are wanting to grow a large amount of food for our families.  I love the idea of also growing many things that require almost no attention to store for the winter.  Getting out of the canning kitchen is a wonderful thing in my book.  

I'm always looking for more books to read and would love any suggestions you have.  So tell me, what books are you reading now?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers from the US.  We'll be enjoying our day with my family in Plymouth.  It's wonderful to know that the turkey came from a small farm in Duxbury and most of the veggies came from either my garden, or my mother's.  Of course there is nothing at all local about that delicious Chocolate Pecan Pie, but I wouldn't be without it anyway. 

Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Makin Bacon

We got our pig back in September with the knowledge that I was going to make our own bacon.  This is all brand new to me, so I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.  It turned out to be so easy!

I started with a 7 pound belly that I cut into 3 hunks.  Then made a mixture of 1/3 c kosher salt 1/3 c light brown sugar and 1/3 c maple syrup.  This is based on the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  They use quite a bit of 'pink' salt which has nitrates.  I wanted to avoid those, so went with the above mixture.

This then got smeared all over the belly and placed in a 2 gallon zip top bag.  I placed it into  dish and put it into the fridge.  There it sat for 7 days, being turned daily, but otherwise ignored.

This morning I lit my new smoker for the first time and placed the bellies in.  I used hickory chips and think I'll use apple wood next time, but the smoke was quite nice.  The smoker never heated up as much as I wanted, so after about 1 1/2 hours, I pulled the bellies out and put them in a 200 degree oven for about 70 minutes until they got to 150 degrees.

They looked pretty good so I decided to try some, just to see how it turned out.

It was amazing!  This piece had virtually no fat, but had that classic bacon taste without any of the chemical taste to go with it.  This pig had a good life and I'm happy to make it all that it can be.

Lastly, I cut the slabs into halves and put them in freezer bags and stored away.  There is still another belly in the freezer for me to play with.  I think I'll try a slightly different brine and wood.  This is fun!  Next I want to try a ham as well.

Edited to add:  When I made this there was a note that I had made with the basic ingredients next to the instructions in the book.  I couldn't remember where I had seen them, but after searching blog posts discovered this post of the same name by Annette over at Sustainable Eats.  Apparently it stuck with me, but not enough to remember specifics.  Thanks Annette!

I'm also linking with Simple Lives Thursday.  Head on over and see the wonderful things people are up to.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yummy breakfast.

The kids were home today for Veteran's day, so I made a quiche.  The recipe is called Refrigerator Pie from Alton Brown.  I love it because I can use any old thing I have laying around.

This one was made with bacon, onions and cheddar cheese.  The crust is homemade with whole wheat flour and half butter, half home rendered lard.  Yummy!

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday.  Click on over and check out what everyone is up to.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

String the lights

Tis the season to light the chickens.  The girls have stopped moulting, so it's time for them to lay some eggs for us.  The lights have been on for a few days, but this is the first night that they've come out to enjoy their extra hours.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 8,2010

I can no longer say that carrots are impossible.

Apparently, the trick is to plant them in July and let them grow in the fall.  At least at my house.  I'm still in shock that these gorgeous carrots came from MY garden.  The really great thing, is that there are still lots more out there.  My new plan is to forgo the spring planting(well maybe a small one) and after I harvest the garlic, to plant a whole bed of these beautiful roots. 

These were planted by making seed tapes on toilet paper.  It took just a few minutes and then they were ready to go.  I'm thinking that I'll do the same thing with the beets when I harvest the onions.  We don't really eat beets in the summer anyway.  It's all about the rotation baby!

This post was part of Harvest Monday.  Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions and see what everyone is harvesting this week.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All ready for Winter

It's getting to look more and more like winter around here.  The leaves are almost all off the trees (and on my garden!).  The weather is getting colder and they're starting to say things like 'mixed precipitation' on the news.  Today was the day to straighten out the shed and put everything away until Spring.  All the tools were cleaned and the shed was swept out.

In the process I managed to disturb a cozy little nest of mice.  They jumped out at me and scared the pants off of me.  Poor Morgan heard me screaming and went and hid.  Then she wouldn't go near the shed for a while.  It took a bit of explaining that it wasn't that I was afraid of the mice, just that they surprised me.  I must admit, I feel very bad for the mice.  They had a nice cozy nest for the winter and I destroyed it.  The poor things will probably die now.  Is it pathetic that I feel bad for the mice?

The shed is all nice and clean now.  It will be wonderful to have it ready to go in the Spring.

The garlic bed all planted and mulched.  I can now forget about it until next July.  What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I continued on my quest to be known as the weird neighbor this week.  At the top of the street is the bus stop.  The yard is a big corner lot and has been covered in the most gorgeous carpet of leaves for a few weeks.  I've been coveting those leaves.  I've spent actual time sitting and thinking about how to get them for myself.  It's a disease.

Then a miracle happened.  The landscapers mowed up those leaves and placed them in 35 large composting bags.  I made Hubby stop the car on Tuesday and ask if I could have them.  They of course looked at me like I was nuts.  Then he said he just needed the bags back.  Hubby and I made plans to get the leaves on Thursday.  Then yesterday another miracle!  The landscaper came down and said he needed the bags sooner than he thought.  So, he and his helper hauled them all down in his truck and helped me dump them on the garden!  All free!  All for me!  Yes, I realize I need help.  We even made plans to do the same thing next year.

While talking to him, I realized we really weren't all that different.  He was working hard to try to buy a place to do the same things.  He had rented a place that he thought he would be able to buy.  He had chickens, both hens and meat birds.  He wants a big garden as well.  I felt a kinship to this wonderful man.  It also turns out that he's a friend of the homeowner up the street.  I now have a leaf dealer!  He can feed the need for leaves!

I'm connecting with Simple lives Thursday blog hop.  Hop on over and check out how else people are living simply.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Monday Nov 1, 2010

Brrr!  It is certainly November here in New England.  It was 25 degrees when I woke up this morning.  The kids were bundled up in winter coats and the heat was turned on.  The living room was 58 degrees, so there was no messing around today.  As a result, I decided to harvest a few things that I was unsure of.  Tonight is supposed to be just as cold.

There was quite a bit of broccoli and a few beets that were big enough to harvest.  I left the broccoli in to see how well it does.  There are a few more heads started and some side shoots that may develop.  Since I've never had anything planted this late, I'm not sure how well they'll do.  The beets are not sizing up as well as I would like, so I thinned them and we'll see what happens.  I know both broccoli and beets are ok with some cold, but I'm not sure when they'll be destroyed.

The rest of the greens, cabbage and carrots are looking good, so they'll stay in the ground.  My Pac Choi has gotten far too big, so the chickens have been enjoying it instead.  The cabbage is still forming heads, I'm curious to see what will happen with them.  It would be great if the cabbage, beets and carrots would continue to size up, the light is getting scarce though.

This post is part of Daphne's Dandelions, head on over and see what everyone is harvesting this week.