Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Monday, September 27, 2010

Free Advice

... given to my 20 year old daughter (over the past five years;)

Don't be in a big hurry to move out until:
  • College classes finished and no student debt
  • A paid-in-full used car
  • An emergency fund of $1,000
  • Know how to balance a checkbook
  • Only use a credit card if you have the money in the bank already ... and it can be paid off immediately ... better yet, don't have one.
  • Learn to cook using whole foods
Advice I gave my daughter before she should ever decide to get married:

  • Make sure you and your future spouse are equally yoked; both spiritually and philosophically.
  • While you are a DINK (double income no kids), live on one paycheck and bank the second, even if that means living in a mobile home or tiny apartment.
  • Stay home with your children while they are small.  Daycare is so expensive, and granny daycare (well, let's just say ... granny will be too old and worn out by then;).  They are only small once and the window of opportunity to shape their future is very slim.  If you have followed the DINK suggestion, then this one will be much easier.  You don't have to keep up with the Jones ... just a rambunctious toddler or two.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In The Dump Diet

If our western society would dump cheaply processed foods, supersized portions, excess sugar and white flour, and anything remotely modified ... get out and work in the garden, mowing the lawn, walking the dog ... moving ... and last but not least .. let common sense be the rule of the day instead of the governments stupid food pyramid, the population would be headed down a healthier path.

Things to chuck out of your pantry:

Any snack that comes in a box.  Replace with a piece of fruit or veggies and a good dip ... or just skip the snack.

Cake mixes and frosting in a can.  Cake should be a once in a while treat .. not something every day of the week.  Making a cake from scratch is not that difficult.  Take time to bake your own.

Anything that says 'Helper' ... such as in hamburger.  It's much healthier to just keep good food items stocked in the pantry and fridge or freezer to make your own quick meal.

Learn to cook.  It's not that difficult.  Practice on your family.  Don't give in to whiny kids pleading that there's nothing to eat.  Teach them how to make healthy snacks.  You will save lots of money and soon they will stop whining (I promise;).

Lastly, just dump shopping with coupons that are for junk food.  Since when does cheap food equate with healthy living?  You are what you eat.   Government subsidized foods are addicting for a reason.  

The Dump Diet is solely my philosophy, however ... continue eating the government recommendations at your own risk.

It's time to wake up from our comatose state and start feeding our families REAL FOOD.

Don't even get me started on school lunches ;(

What have you dumped from your pantry lately?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Small Batch Freezing

 We're still harvesting some green beans, broccoli, and sugar peas ... so every other day I'm blanching small batches of veggies, cooling and drying them off, and freezing single layer on trays .. then storing in freezer bags for use this coming winter.  It's amazing how fast the stockpile is growing from small batch freezing. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pine Nut Warning

This past week I made basil pesto.  A staple in our freezer during the winter months to mix with hot pasta dishes.  Nothing says summer sunshine on a cold blustery day better than pesto.  Now my four half pints have been dumped in the trash.  Why?  Because of pine mouth!  Last night I had a piece of toasted bread with peanut butter before bed.  For some reason I thought the bread might be tainted as it left a very bitter taste in my mouth.  Again, this morning I had a piece of cinnamon toast and complained about the bread.  I could not get the bitter-medicine taste to go away.  A computer search with the phrase, "bitter taste in mouth after eating" gave the typical medical problems such as diabetes and liver ailments as possible culprits.  Numerous links to articles attributing having eaten small pine nuts from China, Korea or Vietnam were also displayed.  Funny!  I had just made and eaten pine nut laden pesto the day before I got pine mouth.

My package of pine nuts was purchased at Trader Joes.  I do remember reading something about the countries of origin being perhaps Korea or Vietnam.  And ..  thinking back, I tried to buy pine nuts at Costco earlier this year with no such luck.  The pine nuts didn't smell rancid .. but they were a little darker in color than the larger variety I normally buy. 

If you eat pine nuts, please check out some of the links to see for yourself.  Please don't take a chance and end up with pine mouth ... it could take several weeks to go away!

Pine Mouth Puzzle
Bitter Taste ... Caused By Pine Nuts?
Risks Of Eating Pine Nuts
More Nuts
Emergency Medicine, Taste Disturbances

Friday, September 17, 2010

Simple Living?

I think SLOW living is a more accurate term than SIMPLE living.  Finding purpose in all homemaking, gardening, life skills is not easy (simple).  Adding one new skill and mastering it before tackling another one is important if you want to live SLOW and with purpose.  Living SLOW allows you to use and regain senses/skills that our forefathers used.  I can imagine that daily living was even more labor intense without running water and electricity in the home.  And having to drive a team of horses and a wagon as a mode of transportation ... would make your trips to town maybe be no more than once or twice a year.  I can understand the reason my mother-in-law wants nothing to do with canning, sewing, or SLOW living.  She was raised on a farm with ten siblings, no running water or electricity.  The amount of effort to live off the land and make clothing, put away food would be a non-stop job.  I'm sure one reason she has good health today is from her early years on that old farm.  Good food.  Lots of exercise.  Having to get along with so many people under one roof, working together.  This farm family survived the Great Depression from the resources on their farm.  Having the knowledge and skills to hand make nearly all of their necessities gave them the tools to survive.

If you're into SLOW living, please share a few skills you've had to learn.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Guest Room Bed Addition

For as long as I can remember, my idea of a guest room had to include lots of comfy beds ... and be a room set apart from the main living space that could be closed up until needed.

   Since we were able to build and design our own home several years ago, such a room was in the plans for the space above our garage.  I recently added another bed .. one discovered at a second hand store .. that I'm sure was under priced at only $80.  It's probably made from brass tubing and sand cast iron seeing how the pieces fit together with the side rails.  I primed it a rust color and added layers of oil rubbed bronze and a light spray of a metallic brown with a bit of the old brass color showing through to give it a well worn antique look. 

A trip to the Hospice Thrift Store netted a mis-matched set of double sheets ... look at the great wide floral border on the top sheet ... ($4.50 for the sheets and pillow cases).  The other bedding includes a king size white open weave blanket, an electric blanket, and floral coverlet with matching quilted shams, which were stored away and/or on the pop up trundle bed .. now stored underneath the daybed ..
vintage sheets
daybed with pop-up trundle can become a king bed

The accent pillow and winter farm scene picture were also thrift store finds.

This bed will one day sport the quilt I'm putting together with squares pieced by my late grandmother. 

Shopping second-hand and in the basement storage room made this new bed addition a thrifty find.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Home Preserving Tomatoes

This week and last have been spent busily in the kitchen canning various tomato recipes.  While I love to have tomatoes canned and on the shelf, it's nice to have some in the freezer too.  The recipe below is one that was handed down to me by a neighbor.  It had been given to her .. and I'm not sure of the origins.  I made it last year .. and was very happy with how easy it is to make ... it's slow cooking as I type.

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 - six ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
2 teaspoons basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the onions, carrots, peppers and garlic until tender.  Place vegetable mixture and remaining ingredients in a 5 quart crock pot.  Cook on high for 8 hours.  When done, cool then divide into 2 cup portions and freeze.  Yields 11 cups.

You can puree it a bit if desired in a food processor after it's cooked and cooled.