Monday, September 23, 2013

All Things Fall

Fall brings many different emotions to different people. Some morn the warmth and strong sun of summer, others can't wait to see summer go and welcome the colors! Here in Maine we have beautiful leaves, fields of orange pumpkins and crisp days. Fall is my favorite season hands down. This is what our fall is going to look like this year:

Finish canning. I started canning in August and have canned mostly foods from local farms and friends gardens who have traded for eggs. When I have finished I will share my list and totals and how I store them. Just so you know, I love canning. It's hard work but it's instant gratification as soon as you line up those beautiful jars and step back to see your food insurance policy.

Start on Christmas presents for friends and family. This is something I struggle with. I hate gift giving. Not because I am a crab but because of the message it can send. I feel like if I don't give them something perfect and meaningful that the recipient will feel I cheated them therefore I must not care much. Untrue, but it's so much pressure! Once I had kids I decided I need to really explore Christmas and how our family wants to celebrate not just follow my extended family's deep seated traditions. It's a touchy subject, but my first baby step that I am starting this year is that I will only be giving gifts made with my hands. I might need to do a separate post on this! To be continued...

Buy and raise meat chickens. Lord and money willing, I would like to buy 25 meat chicks and raise completely organic for slaughter. We have reduced or grocery bills to around $75 a month and that has consisted of a lot of sale chicken of all kinds and not organic. And, it bothers me. So, I did some research (of course!) and crunched some numbers and we should be able to raise these 25 birds for about $1/pound of finished chicken. Then I will have a freezer full of chicken for the winter and I can cross that of the list until spring when we do it again!

Homeschooling. This is our first "official" year homeschooling though I have been teaching Puzzle Boy the basics as he has grown. He knows his colors, can count beyond 20, knows his letters by sight, has improved his speech and is learning sight words. This year is kindergarten and I prefer to use this year to experiment with different types of learning and have fun! We school 3 days a week and are part of a co-op that meets all day Fridays. Our basic goals for the year are to start reading, start simple math, work on social skills (like stranger smarts, how to ask for help without mommy, working it out with friends), learn our states, homestead skills and so much more! Homeschooling is unlimited!

Build that house! Oh gosh, don't get me started! But, we should have walls and a roof by November. Perhaps moving in around Thanksgiving? Remember it won't be finished! Just needs to have hot water, hold heat and be functional.

Split wood. After discussing it with my parents, they have agreed to let me borrow their wood cook stove that came from my great-grandfather's home. I am so excited! Not only will this save me on propane cost for my cooking but it will also save a little on heating fuel as well. Cook stoves are not famous for heating but they do throw enough to help a small well insulated house. Plus I am nostalgic and like the idea of waking up to start a fire and set my percolator on the top to make me amazing coffee. It's been a dream for years.

Enjoy Maine. Yes, I live here. But, I rarely just drive out to the ocean or visit farms or go for a hike and enjoy my home state. Sad, huh? Fall is my favorite season to enjoy my state because it is just so beautiful! So we will be picking apples, go explore a trail, visit the lighthouses and enjoy the best weather all year!

Fall can be busy and slip right by. Winter is so long here, preparing for it is necessary not only physically (like firewood and buttoning up the house) but also mentally. I need a winter game plan! Fall gives me time to ease into winter and decide what I want those short and gray days to look like.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Do You Have Grungy Cabinets?

Let's just assume you do because, let's face it, no one washes and de-greases their cabinets daily. If you have cherry cabinets you probably have no idea just how nasty they are. If you have white like this household does then you look at the filth daily. Most days I just ignore with firmness. Yesterday morning I cleaned them with a surprising snowball effect... it started with the microwave buttons. You know, the buttons on the microwave, they seem to be magnetic to all kitchen grime. Well, for some reason this grime was bothering me at 7:00 am and it needed to be DEALT with. I scrubbed with the dish rag. Hahahahaha! Yeah, right. It's grease embedded with 478 finger touches worth of who-knows-what. But I want you to hitch up your britches 'cause I am about to blow your mind into thrifty cleanliness.

Ta da! I really can't explain how this so quickly was produced in my brain as the answer, but there it is. Dish soap (preferably the blue one *wink wink*) and baking soda. Mix together about 3 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 tablespoon dish soap and thin with water until a just pour-able paste forms like this:

Then it's just as complicated as finger painting. Smear this on the grimiest spots and let it sit for about 5 minutes (see first picture) and then scrub lightly with a barely damp rag and scrub the rest of the cabinet. After it has come clean, wipe several times with a warm wet rag and use a toothpick to get any paste out of the tiny corners if it doesn't wipe out. Dry with a dry towel to avoid water spots.

This will dry slightly as it sits so little bits of paste will end up all over the floor and counter as you scrub. They wipe up no problem, scrub the floor and counter as you do. The results of cabinets that look like you just repainted will make this worth it! See how this can snowball? I just tried to make it feel purposeful and called it my fall kitchen cleaning.

Reasons I love this breakthrough of brilliance:




Makes you get over your tactile issues with finger painting.

Your welcome. Til next time!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

There's a New Man in the Barnyard

Say hello to Copper! He's a Buff Orpington we have adopted from our friends over at American Family Now. I took a trip up to visit with Mama and to let the kids play, and then after lunch we loaded up the young rooster and headed home. Their older rooster they have is named Chrome which I thought was an awesome rooster name. I decided to keep with the metal theme and name him Copper which also happens to be what color he is.

He cautiously entered the coop and introduced himself. There was a little showing off in the first couple of minutes from both Copper and the hens! I threw in some fresh grass for them to nibble on to break the ice and they seem to be fine. He already is taking his job seriously by going to get a stray hen who wandered to the end of their run. I think I'll keep him! Well, as long as he doesn't stick a spur in my ankle. Then we will have words.

He's a beautiful boy. I will really enjoy watching him with the hens. And, perhaps he will encourage me to revise my sleeping and waking habits. I'm thinking that would be a plus. I need to go to bed and get up A LOT earlier. It's a problem in this lifestyle.

I have not posted as recently because I have been canning and this makes my back hurt. Sitting at the computer to write a post feels like torture when my back gets like that. In my kitchen in the new house I will be putting my counter tops at the right level for me and investing in a gel mat. Canning requires hours of standing. Ergonomics are a must for someone like me with a pre-existing back problem. But, I have hit a lull as I wait for my tomatoes to ripen so I will be catching up soon!

Til next time!