Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ordering Your Spring Seed...

Another Blog article I have out on gardening. I write on Thursdays, but usually every other thursday, not weekly... unless I come up with a topic I'm just dying to share and it may be more. For now, here is this weeks article, please finish reading over at Bakespace.

(You can sign up to get these articles by mail each day, and you don't have to come back and forth from my blog to theirs to read all the good stuff that they have going on.)

"Gardening Seeds 101

Gardening — By Shannon on January 21, 2010 at 11:12 am
Spring is still some time away, but ordering seed in advance will save you the unnecessary stress and hassle of shopping for your garden at the last minute. So let’s spend some time now figuring out what you’d like to plant and how to find the best seeds based on your budget.

Read More..."

Starting After This Giveaway...

...I have gotten a new contest system alternative. You will no longer have to leave your email address out in public view. I have a program called ContestMachine that had amazing feedback for its ability to keep your information private, and it will randomly generate a winner for me each month. Which means, my 3 year old has been picking winners from the list based on what a 3 year old likes! LOL

So, rest assured your information will remain private.

I will be announcing the winner of the last giveaway later today, as to give people more time to sign up. Columbine is a super popular flower it seems!!!

Thanks every1.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Little Yard Space - The Perfect Orchard For You

We thought about doing this, but didn't really have the needed fencing to get started, but we're keeping it in mind. I would like to grow these as perhaps a yard divider someday. This is called Espalier. An old European art of shading apple trees to grow low and along a fence in a trellis manor. They are amazingly hardy fruitful trees!

Give this page a look, and maybe these would be perfect if you have a small yard situation, or an ugly fence you want to hide. Just remember PATIENCE!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Outside of Our House is DONE!

...well other then my endless need to plant things. I have gardens planned for years to come still. However, when we bought this place and moved in June 1st of 2008 I knew the trouble we were getting into. The place was a large white damaged shell of a house. There was water damage, termite damage, everything was cold primer grey, and the damage was pretty much painted over. Structure wise everything was sound, and it was just going to be a lot of cosmetic work in the long run. The price on this place was as is, and it was going into foreclosure... it was a steal in this economy. Here it is the beginning of 2010 and a HUGE chunk of the work is done and for WAY under what everyone was warning it may cost. AND we did a lot more then was suggest.

Orginally damage repair was going to be around $10,000. Lets just say, the damage is fixed, I upgraded some of things like I wanted better columns, and better siding. I also wanted a deck and brick path. I got all that... and didn't even come close to such numbers as $10,000! I have to giggle thinking about what we got away with.

** Attention: My husband is a professional carpenter, and has taught me a lot I never thought I could do before... so this isn't one of those ANYONE can do it situations. We already owned the $$$$ tools and knew how to use them. **

Anyways, I'm taking this time to share some before and after pictures so you can see what was done over such a short time.

I know kinda boring huh?

Look at that view though! And that Pond was stocked with Fish?! Hubby was in love!

No idea if that worked, but oh well! (It didn't, cost $400 to fix)

Nice concrete patio thing off the kitchen. Overhangs are great when it rains, but not for entertainment.

Hubby build me a deck in the first 2 weeks we were here. Happy Birthday to me!

Now I think it is time to jump in and repair damage.

Lets put in a new brick walkway first, someone gave them to us.

Siding done!

Veggie Garden and Chicken Coop in (Fencing another trade on Craigslist)

A fence and garden in the driveways should help stop anyone from running over our septic tank (AGAIN!)
The septic damage from a truck!


Master Bath done until I can replace the mirror and lighting.
Living room change, its hand painted not wallpaper.
Kitchen in Green now!

Ok, thank you for following out little memory lane of our hard work on this place. We're very proud of all the work. I am going to take a break the rest of the month... but then there are walls to be taken down in the master bedroom! HAHAHA

Friday, January 15, 2010

Giveaway Alert Giveaway!!!

Oh yes... I just NEED to get some of these seeds out and to anyone willing to garden...

So how about some wildflowers?! I have some Columbine, Part-Sun to Full Sun.... AND I have no idea the color. This is just a mix of seed so you could end up with a ton of color mixes! How fun!!!

So go ahead and leave a comment here with a way to contact you... your own blog I can contact you through, or a valid email address and I will send the winner a pouch of these awesome seeds. I will draw the winner next Thursday Jan. 21st.

Sharing the joy of simple clean up!

I like to cook, and bake. Like that's not obvious, right? But I hate the clean up... the husband has to help at night, and I whine like a child the whole time. He doesn't even ask me to do laundry anymore, he just grabs the basket and does it. However, I am a clean person... can't go to bed without all the dishes sparkling and put away or I'd toss and turn all night thinking about it.

As you can tell I'm also very eco friendly when I can be. I do not recycle everything that leaves this house, but I've reduced out throw away items by 50% in the last year. And here is the easiest way I've managed to deal with reducing our waste, and saving me time cleaning!

Plastic Folgers/Maxwell/Coffee containers with lids! I keep between 2-3 of them out on my counter when I'm doing anything. I use one to throw all my compostable products into (ie. potato peel, onions skins, coffee grounds, ect), I use one for scraps just for the chickens to eat and I have one that is all other trash that really needs to be tossed in the trash can when I'm done. Since my compost can takes a day or so to fill up and I only take my chicken scraps out once a day or every other day, I pop the tops back onto the plastic cans and place them back on the counter, or under the sink until I plan to run outside with them. They are then easy to rinse and place back under the sink until the next meal prep time.

This really does keep more counter space freed up, less trash in my trash can, and so easy to just rinse and reuse these later. I love the fact the new coffee cans that are out have handles on them, so I can carry 2-3 of them at once out the door with the rest of the chicken feed and its less of a hassle then using everyday bowls or the old fashioned metal cans. No rust issues to worry about, I can forget them outside in the garden and bring them back in again to use after days of weathering... so these coffee cans last a much longer time. Totally eco-friendly!

What else could possibly help with quicker cleaning?! I leave myself a hot sink full of soapy water at dinner/meal prep time. As the greasy pans come off the stove and I'm done with those wooden spoons, they all slip into the sink right then to soak. No hard scrubbing for 30 minutes after dinner anymore! If I don't feel like hand washing... I just use that water to finish rinsing the dinner plates and load everything into the dishwasher without having to run the sink water again. That cuts the dishes time in half, and probably saved us a few gallons of water from our old routine!

I hope these tips help you too!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Local Gardening School on Organics & Layout

I am not offering my services, one on one with layout drawings of your yard for your gardening needs. I teach the basics on organic produce, heirlooms, native plants to our region and zone (I cover Zone 7B central NC), compost basics, the importances of techniques most gardeners should use, starting seed outside or indoors... and so much more! I charge for my time by hour... I also have the local options to have raises beds built, compost bases built, chicken coops and more through my husband who is a carpenter and contractor!

These services are to teach a do-it-yourself'er! I'm not coming over to dig for you, or plant or weed or harvest... this is strickly teaching you what you need to do to make growing successful, budget friendly, earth friendly and take up the least amount of your precious time! Gardening should be a joy and a hobby... something you do not dread in the morning. You should be able to sit around in the splendor of what you've done through out your season.

I insist of course you follow my blog... which covers many walks of the homesteading life... but this service gives you much deeper personal understanding of your garden and your own land. I do make house calls! ;)

Seed Packets

I forgot to mention, I have lots of seeds available for sale or trade. If you see something you want just get in touch with me and I'll try to get you some. I will still be listing seed giveaways all winter though! So if you rather just try to win some... go for it!

Right now I do have packets of beans, corn, hibiscus (white dwarf variety only this year), gerber daisies, white icicle radish, a few types of lettuce, some cabbage, foxglove (lavender), yellow coneflower (I may have purple left), red rocks penstemon, and so much more! Again, grown organically and $3 per pack + $0.50 to mail, if you don't have a trade.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Taking The Base Bread Dough, and Makin' Bagels!

Ok, here's a little walk through of the bagel thing!

First you have the balls I let get to room temp and rise again for about 40 minutes. Then I put holes in them and dropped them in boiling water. As you seen, the boiling water (with sugar and baking soda added) has made them rise more to nearly double size. You see I over floured them before I baked them and the flour caked on the crust... not all that great. However, a nice butter and slice and they were fantastic!


Quite simply you want to roll out some dough so its flat like with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with 1/4 sugar and cinnamon mix. Hand full of raises with that. Then Jelly roll the dough, then make a large BALL of dough. Cut out 3 oz balls from then, place aside and let rise another 40 minutes. Prehear your oven at 425 for 30 minutes with a broiler tray on the bottom rack and pizza stone on the top rack for your bagels. (I just used a cookie sheet, I can not find my pizza stone to save my life!) Now, that the 40 minute rest period has past, boil your water with 1 tbsp baking soda and 1/4 sugar or more sugar if you'd like.

When it gets to a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer (med to med-high). Poke holes in your bagel balls and stretch them to look bagel like. Drop a few in the water at a time, you want them to float and not touch. Boil 2 minutes, then flip them over for an additional 1-2 minutes. Take out with a slatted spoon onto a towel LIGHTLY dusted with flour (I screwed this up, with WAY too much flour) and allow to start drying while you finish boiling the rest of your bagels.

When done, and mostly dry place on your pizza stone (or cookie sheet) to bake for 20-25 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot water to broiler pan to STEAM your bagels as they bake. Now close up the oven and leave them alone until they are DONE! Crusty outside, soft and moist inside. YUM!

I hope yours end up prettier then mine, but ours were still tasty.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

5 Minutes a Day for Healthy Bread

Now, this is part of a book called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". I do not have the book, but they have a website and have had a few articles with bits and pieces shared from the book. The articles I'm going from are found in Mother Earth News Magazine.

From their December/January Issue They have 6 pages on "Healthy No-Knead Bread Recipes" from the authors of the above book.

Everything in this issue revolves around a 'Master Dough" recipe for all these different breads. So last night I created the master dough:

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (I did not use this, I used 1/4 cup crushed corn flakes...don't ask why)
4 cups lukewarm water (If you want herb flavor add the dried or fresh herbs to the water!)
[I added 1/2 milk with 3 1/2 cups warm water and 2 tbsp honey, it helps soften the wheat in the bread, but that's just a personal option]
Cornmeal or parchment paper (I use a silicone mat)
1-2 cups seed or nuts mixed

Mix dry ingredents, then add wet to your mixer with a paddle attachement. When the outside is slightly sticky and all the water has been absorbed cover the bowl loosely with a towel, unsealed cover or plastic wrap. DO NOT KNEAD. Let rise and fall for about 2-3 hours. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN DOUGH. Refridgerate for at least 3 hours so the dough is easier to shape and work with. (This dough will keep refridgerated for up to 2 weeks, it will become more sourdough like over time.)

When you are ready to bake take a piece of dough out you want to use, as much or as little as you want. Shape and set aside to come to room temp for 45-90 minutes depending on bread size and shape (example: 1lb loaf vs 12 small rolls).

Preheat oven (for loaf) at 450 for 30 minutes with a pizza stone on top rack and broiler pan on the bottom rack, empty.

After its ready, use a pastry brush wet to brush the bread, sprinkle on seed if wanted, and put 1 cup hot water into broiler pan. You can slide your bread directly on the stone, or onto parchment, or with a silicone mat. I used a silicone mat and put it on top of a baking sheet... my pizza stone is missing. It came out just fine.

Today.... I am making the bagels I saw a recipe for using the same dough base.

I will post that part of the recipe later, with pictures!!! 


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For The birds...

...yet we've got none yet?! Its been out there hanging for at least a month now.

Just sharing a pretty photo I just took from the back porch.
No Winter Visitors

Maybe the Reason is...

In the Kitchen Baking: Chocolate Orange Mini Cupcakes

So today the whims of a 3 year old were met by her mother...

No matter how much I fought she would not leave me be until I made CUPCAKES!!!

So what did I come up with?

Orange and Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting.

              1/2 cup milk

              3 large egg whites(do not discard yolks, you'll need them for frosting) 
              1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

  • Zest of ` fresh orange (or 1 Tbsp dried zest)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder unsweetened

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp softened butter

  • Butter Cream Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (or orange extract for more citrus flavor)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a few drops of food color, whatever you want

  • Preheat oven 350

  • Mix milk, egg whites, zest and extract set aside 
  • Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add butter while mixing on low one tbsp at a time. Mixture should be crumbly looking.
  • Add milk mixture slowly and mix on low for a minute and a half until mousse like.
  • Pour into cupcake/muffin tins with liners. Bake 18-22 minutes. (Until toothpick comes out clean.)
  • While cupcakes cool mix together all frosting ingredients until whipped nicely. Put on cupcakes when completely cool and serve.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Current Bakespace Newsletter/Blog installment

My very first article! Enjoy, and I hope you follow bakespace's blog as well as mine!

"The Garden Plan

Gardening — By Shannon on January 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm 

Now that it’s January, gardening may be the last thing on your mind. Of course it depends on where you live — while our friends south of the equator enjoy long days and warm temperatures, I can tell you it’s cold here North Carolina...." 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2 Days to Expected Delivery Date!

Yep, its 2010 and with a new year comes new little fuzzy butts! Our chicken eggs we've been following are coming up on their hatch date. Due Jan 4th, I started with 12 eggs, 6 lavender/split silkie eggs and 6 unknown standard mix chickens. We are down to 8 eggs total, 5 silkies 3 mixed. The other eggs never developed... either they got mixed in shipment or weren't fertile. Which ever, they were not meant to be....

But I wait anxiously on the rest!