Sunday, December 26, 2010

A homesteaders cupboard

Im snowed in, yes this is our road after 8" of snow, and its like this for 12 miles until you exit the national forest.
a good day to blog about,,,, BEING PREPARED *wink*

At some point in Late July Early August , i questioned myself more than once about that amount of food I was canning for a family of 3. How many Jars of beans do i really need? who actually eats this much salsa? Will my family grow tired of chicken soup?

It is now The end of december, and im getting the answer to all of these questions: you need a lot, yes you do, and maybe but they will get over it.

Our trips the grocery store these past couple months have been stress free and simple. especially financially, a trip to the store requires a small list of basic items when you grow and preserve most of your own food.

I am no expert, but thought maybe I would share some tips , lists and homesteading recipies for all of you out there who are trying to learn the same of living of the land and sustaining your family as much as possible

it aint easy, thats for sure , i canned about 300 jars this year, and we are going through it no problem. The picture above is our canned good cupboard as of dec 26th


Green beans, tomatoes, salsa, tomato soup, pizza sauce, chicken soup, chicken broth, chicken chili, peppers, pickles, peach and blueberry jam, blueberries, peaches, applesauce, applebutter, blueberry syrup. potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash:)

We also have eggs from our chickens and meat from our chickens, honey from our bees.some broccoli/homemade veggie pies in the freezer and lettuce in the greenhouse and homebrew that hubby made:)

GROCERY LIST( im sure im missing items, but this is usually what we buy at the store or have on hand at all time)

flour, sugar, butter, cheese, yogurt,yeast, oatmeal, peanut butter,milk, juice, coffee/tea, rice, pasta, pretzels( the famous snack in our house)

now a lot of this will last a week or 2.. so sometimes the list can be A LOT smaller, making your grocery bill 30.00!

A WEEKS worth of MEALS at the Cool Homestead

day 1 breakfast: oatmeal with blueberries, toast, juice

day1: lunch: peanutbutter and jelly

day 1: dinner: Breakfast burritos with salsa,cheese, jalapenos

day 2: breakfast: toast with honey , peaches, and juice

day 2 lunch: peanut butter and jelly(lol norah lives on pb&j)

day 2 dinner: 1/2 Homegrown chicken, beans, and potatoes

day 3 breakfast: eggs n toast

day 3 lunch, grilled cheese tomato soup

day 3 dinner: pasta with homemade sauce, butternut squash

day 4 breakfast: oatmeal with peaches and toast

day 4 lunch: applesauce, cheese sandwich

day 4 dinner: potatoe soup( made with canned chicken broth n taters from the garden and broccoli yuuummy)

day 5 breakfast: toast, yogurt n peaches

day 5 lunch: pb&j

day 5 Dinner: Chicken Chili, bread n butter

day 6: breakfast: eggs n toast with applebutter

day 6 lunch: homemade pizzas with sauce that was canned, canned peppers, onions, n broccoli

day 6 dinner: tomato garlic soup, applesauce, bread n butter

day 7 breakfast: oatmeal

day 7 lunch: yogurt n peaches, cheese slices

day 7 dinner: chicken soup with noodles, applesauce

This is just a somewhat typical mealplan for us,, and repeat......of course sometimes we go outside the homesteading list and buy granola bars or chocolate chips for cookies,, but for the most part we stick to the basic and use what we have
someother meals as i sit here and think
-omelets with spinach and cheese
-pancakes with blueberrysyrup
-chicken sandwiches with lettuc
-bean burritos with salsa n cheese etc....

We are still learning a lot, but this year feels like a major accomplishment for us in self sustaining our family

we recently had a pretty good snowstorm so im thankful for all the canned goods, the cookstove, and the homebrew.. so even being stranded here for a week doesnt seem too stressful:) I credit that to the homebrew,, teeeheee

Thursday, October 21, 2010

simply happy*Happy simple

" As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. -Henry David Thoreau-

simple photos along with a simple yet delicious bread recipe, tried n true*

THis is the *SIMPLE*staple bread at the cool homestead. I make ALL of our bread fall through spring and most of summer(I Do slack on the bread makin in the summer months)

this recipe is nothing fancy, but sure to please.. does not require all kind of crazy ingredients(if you are trying to live simple, the last think you want is a recipe that ask for everythng but the ktichen sink:o)


remember homemade bread dries out easily , this recipe is for 4 loaves, i usually half it.

Wholesome Homemade honey Wheat Bread

2 envelopes yeast

4 cups water

1/2 c butter

1/4 c molasses

1/2 honey

2 tsp salt

6 c whole wheat flour

4 c white flour

*dissolve yeast in warm water

* in a large bowl mix butter, molasses , honey n salt

*add yeast mixture and then gradually add flour

* turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth

*place in buttered(or oiled) bowl and let rise until double(about an hour)

* punch down and let rest for a few minutes

*divide dough into 4 parts and shape into loaves

*place in greased pan and let rise 1 additional hour

* bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes

rub bread with butter after it is out of the stove<

Wrap tightly with saran wrap and put in ziploc bag( we wash n re use our ziplocs over n over) to keep from drying out**

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goodbye Summer Hello Fall


I guess its time for my quarterly blog post,,lol, there is where i catch you up on everything that has been going on for the past 3 months,,haha,, Im trying to tell myself it would be a lot easier to just post every week , but I cant seem to sit down and focus!

Life has been insanely busy on the cool farm:)

shortly after my July post, The garden Bounty was full force, leaving me with no time to sit down and blog, let alone sit down much at all! july aug and sept i spent the evenings canning my BUTT off.. i manages to do tomatoes, tomato soup, salsa, green beans, jam, peppers, pickles, pasta sauce, apples, peaches, applebutter, applesauce , chicken stock, chicken soup and chicken chili. Im sure im forgetting something.

tell ya what folks, if you arent sure what to do with those old chickens that arent laying any more, and dont want em to go to waste, they make excellent chicken soup and chili!!!

Not so good to just eat as the meat is a little tought n dry, but the chicken soup turned out delicious! We butchered 9 of the old hens and are now butchering the good schtuff,, 10 roosters: 4 down 6 to go!

we have FINALLY gotten rid of the chest freezer,, which was a big step for us. we figure if we plant to go off grid, we have to ween ourselves from the big appliances..... so ill be canning most everything from here on out. we can fit a chicken or 2 in our small freezer, so we either have to can the rest or just do a couple at a time:)

I managed to can about 300 jars this season, the photos is about 240 jars into canning.

Im still canning chicken stock, but other than that am done for the season, and holy smokes, it was a lot of work! I have it down to a science now, and it makes a world of difference when he have an order and a way of doing things, so you arent spinning in circles,,lol

We now have 6 hives, and robb has started feeding the weaker hives sugar water, making sure they are all set n ready for the winter ahead! we managed to get about 20 lbs of honey for ourselves this year:)

we ordered 6 additional hives this week! so assuming all 6 make it through the winter, we will have 12 established hives, which means a whole lotta honey to sell>3 fortunately, we have 3 different stores that would like to carry our honey:) this winter we will be shopping for jars. creating labels, and maybe even investing in an extractor. This year we did the good ol crush n strain method, which was fine n dandyfor the small amount of honey we got, but with ** ******12 HIVES***, i would like to make this as easy as possible. Cheese cloth n a bucket aint cuttin it,,lol.

So fall is here and i would like to say that things are slowing down,, but they really arent,, im busy sewing/working, robb is busy building a woodshed and chopping wood, taking on his new of adventure of home brewing his own beer :0,, im planting more blueberry bushes and some raspberries.. and the list goes on and on.

for now im enjoying this quiet moment, with my coffee , while the lil mama naps for a bit:)

Until next time......

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If i were a Pioneer.........

Im guessing i would probably die of starvation sometime around, mmmmm, january.
I once read an arcticle in Mother Earth News , about a family that canned 1000 Jars every season,, yeah, you read that right,, 1000... I hope n pray , that if i happen to be a poineer in my nextlife, that maybe they could be my next door neighbors? Maybe i could mend thier socks for free food or something?heehheee
The task at hand : to self sustain,, and it aint an easy task( note that i just said i would be dead by january)..
Its now July 8th, and i feel like ive canned more beans than ever( well because for me it HAS been more beans than ever) . My goal was to can around 50 qts of beans,,... sounds like a lot huh? well in the grand scheme of things, it really peanuts.. 50qts of beans would provide us with one serving of beans a week for most all winter and spring,, 100 qts would be ideal, giving us 2 meals or so a week,, there is not way im cannign 100 qts this year, even if wanted to, i dont think i have that much beanage out there!
So far this year i have picked out 20-25 gallons of beans(enought for about 25-30 qts),
30+ lbs of potatoes(with about 20 more lbs+ to come),,
god knows how many cucumbers( for some delicious pickles that only I will eat,,hehehe, hubby n miss norah dont like pickles),and I canned some jalapenos for our pizzas this winter:) and pulled about 100 onions.
and tomatoes are just starting to ripen! Next on the list , salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce!
I may end up canning some of my potatoes, we do not have a root cellar or a basement,,eeek,, didnt think too much about that when i was planting all the taters,,,, The pantry is pretty cool and dark,, so we will see how long they last in there,, thought about putting them in the crawl space, but would rather they rot, than get eaten by critters:o
Garden season is about half way done,, and I already wearin out!
Having a toddler and a sewing business doesnt help,, but i suppose those pioneer women had a lot going on too, 9 kids, etc,,lol...i bet they made for good helpers though!
BEE UPDATE: we know have 7 hives,, yes they multiplied,, started out with 3 this spring,, but throw in some hives that swarm( 50ft up in a tree, yes yes he went up there n got em),, and a husband who insists we split some hives .. and voila,, you end up with 7..
CHICKEN UPDATE: hmm, lets see since my last post, im pretty sure we have atleast 14 killled.. 9 were killed in one night,, needless to say we fixed the back coop and got some more .. I got 6 Black austrolorps for mothersday,, and we brought home 20 more( a nice lil variety pack) from "chick days".. THey are all alive n kickin, and we are sure to shut the coop right at dark , and check, and double check,,lol..
Now lets just hope those coons stay away from my corn!!!
Sorry i havent posted in awhile.. Im just trying to keep up with everything around here...
and its hard to sit down and blog..
Wonder if those poineers would have time to sit down and blog about thier day,, doubt it! heeheeee
stay tuned,,,,,,,,,,
hubby told me to start looking for a honey extractor....... looks like we will be getting some honey from the hives this year..Yippppppeeeeeeeeee

Monday, April 26, 2010

sitting down and somewhat focused

Hello hello hellooooooooo, is anybody out there???????? IM still here, I promise!! I realize ive been terrible about posting on here,, but with the gardens, bees, sewing biz , housechores and a toddler, ive been spinning in circles trying to keep it all together..

thought Id post some pics of whats going on here at the Cool Homestead......

spring planting is done, and summer crops are going in now! ill have pictures of the gardens soon

potatoes are up and rocking, I also planted peas, onions, broccoli, carrots lettuce spinach , swisschard, scallions for the spring crop..
Bees are doing great, we have 3 hives, 2 are doing excellent, one is struggling, and does not approve of their queen.

Robb will be rescuing a hive this week from a guy down the road too..

the Greenhouse growin has been a total blessing, everything has been done from seed this year!! i planted over 400 plants, and am selling veggies, herbs and perennials:)

we have had 6 chickens killed in the past 3 days by a raccoon,, and had a fox eyeing the coop last night... slept with a gun by the bed, and kept waking up this morning, just waiting to hear chaos.... we plan on hatching some chicks soon, and now have good reason too,, darn animals are killing all our chickens!!!!

thats our life in a nutshell right now,, sorrry so short, but its better than nothing, eh?
other than that just enjoying like in the Pisgah National Forest:)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

SPRING wherreeee areeee Youuuuu?

"Giraffe wheeerreeee areeee youuuuu?" this is what my daughter frantically repeats when she cant find her favorite stuffed animal, giraffe, or a missing toy,, she doesnt look for it, just yells out "where are youuuuuuuuuuu?" a couple times hoping it will suddenly appear in front of her exclaiming "Here i am Norah"
I decided to give this a try .. opened my window this morning and yelled out to Mother Nature " SPRING whereee areeeee youuuuuuuu"?
She responded with 6" of snow.
Im an Ohio girl Born n raised for the first 27 yrs of my life so you figure I would be used to snow In March, well Im not.. the past 5 yrs Ive lived in NC the winters have been soooo MILD,, last year this time I had spinach,lettuce and carrots in, and peas pushing their little heads through the earth exclaiming "here I am".. and i didnt even have to say peas where are you,,heheee
Now the ground is still pretty much frozen, it is warming up this week, so im anticipating planting peas, spinach , lettuce , onions, carrots, followed by some potatoes!!!..
another HUGE reason i need to see the SUN is because My wonderful Husband built me a greenhouse about 2 months ago!
its been a MOOD enhancer for sure, it can be 30 outside and 90 in that baby when the sun is out!
Ive started A LOT of seeds,,including but not limited to so far i have seeded19 romas... 23 brandywine tomatoes 10 sweet banana 15 jalapeno 18 broccoli 6 basil 18 lavender(only 5 germinated i will have to do cuttings instead, much easier)18 painted daisy1 8 gallardia flower 18 echinacea(purple cone flower)6 cilantro 6 eggplants 9 rosemary (from cuttings)9 buddleia(from cuttings)9 st johns wort9 dill18 blue chrysanthemum9 thyme9 catnip9 dianthaus allwoods pink(heirloom perennial)9 chrysanthemum robsinson red(heirloom) perennial).. PHEWWWW
I do have them under grow lights on cloudy days, which work excellent,
I have 2 shelves and 2 grow lights,,
I am really looking for it to warm up and for lonnnger days , so i can transplant my tomatoes into quart pots and plant my broccoli into the ground,, and then next week i hope to start peas, spinach, swisschard, onions,, and then potatoes shortly after
all my seedlings are doing fantastic thus far, and im hoping to maybe set up a little stand out front and sell my xtras! we get like NO traffic haha,, during the week I might see a car,,
Lets just say when a car goes by my daughter says " a car,, look a car!!!!" heehehe or Robb and I will look at eachother and say " is there a car going by?" and will get up to look out the window,, yes its that secluded,,lol
But on the weekends folks drive through the Pisgah NationaL forest and some stop to by eggs. we do really well with eggs in the summer months, so why not add some perennial and veggies, and some HONEY,, which ill BEE bloggin about next....
we are getting our Bees in 3 weeks!
Until then Ill be in the greenhouse poking my head out from time to time yelling SPRING wherrreeee are youuuuuuuuuuu?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Laundry 5 cents

Ya know those little Primitive signs you can buy,, "laundry 5 cents",, i realize they are supposed to reflect the cost 100 yrs ago, but honestly, i wouldnt do 1 load of your laundry for 20.00 in this here machine... Im pretty sure Im going to have a hard time keeping on my own...

So here it is,, Ive tried it out a little,, ( im not doing all my laundry in it,, haha, ill admit,, i still have the luxury of my other washing machine am enjoying it while its around)

Its definetly very basic.. although if you look at robbs face in this picture he does look thoroughly confused.. well we couldnt figure out which way the darn wringer went on,, and either way you put it on there is still a gap between the washer and wringer, so when you wring the clothes water goes ALL OVER the floor and the clothes you just wrung out,, so you have to almost lead the clothes as you go,, you can just wring and let em hit the ground or they will be just as wet as they were before you put em through the wringer,, slightly annoying, but i figure all these little annoyances will just be second nature sooner or later.

We still need to buy another tub for washing... I will probably just buy that at the local feed,, its a LOT cheaper..

Next nice day i plan on taking this beauty out and givin her another try... I plan to use it ATLEAST twice a week,, get myself use to it:)

as far as the DRYER goes, I have not used that badboy in a month and a half..Im done with it completely...

When RObb and I were pricing solar, (and we are pricing solar base on a 5000-8000 dollar system mind you,, so thats verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry cheap, and ya wont get much. enough for lights and small appliances, toaster, etc..) we were absolutely FLOORED by how much electricity a dryer uses.. and you would be too,, its unbelievable... so from that day forward, i gave it up,,

It realy hasnt been to big of a deal, i hang them out on nice days, and hang them next to the cookstove when its cold out(which has been the past month straight)..

I have no reservations about doing our laundry by hand.. it will be A lot of work,, but im always complaining about my "mom" arms,, and let me tell you after i turned that wringer a few times,, i knew i was going to have some good lookin arms in the verry near future,,:well i hope verrrrrrrrrrry near future,,

our house is on the market, has been for about 8 months now,,, so we are just waiting, and we may be waiting for a long while with the way the economy is...

we are enjoying our time here in the Pisgah National Forest forest though, and this way ill get plenty of hand washing practice in, when the weather breaks and i can wash outside..
Until then Ill be out in my Greenhouse, where its 85 degrees as long as the sun is a shinin':)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chasing the Dream

well thats what my dad calls it. Homesteading, self sufficiency, off grid , whatever it may be... is known to my father as "chasing the dream". Hearing him saying this makes me smile again and again.,, because he gets it, and so I christen this post,,, chasing the dream.......................

I met my husband 16 years ago... I remember sitting out on our fenced in cement slab patio, off of our tiny shag carpet , way way outdate apt, talking about our future,, most of which included living In a Log cabin in Alaska.. why Alaska?? I really dont know, Ive never been, nor has he.. I really believe we both had this ultimate dream , of living in the in the middle of nowhere,, happy, living off the land 2 kids runnin around..............

well that didnt happen,, atleast not for a long time,, although these conversations continued for the following 15 years, late night campfires talking about our dreams, hopes, ideas of freedom, truth , happiness.. we held onto them kept them tucked in away in a safe place,, because your dreams are sacred.. and holding onto them until you are ready and following through are completely priceless.. ..

Years went by , we bought a house, had a small garden, froze our goodies, and still entertained the idea of "chasing the dream".. but then it was just an idea,, something fun to think about,, fantasize about.. and still seemed way out of reach.

Its hard to "chase the dream" when you are young( and dumb) , when your priorites are going out the bar with your friends, concerts , festivals, sleeping in on saturdays, not necessarily being lazy(we both had full time jobs) but just not having your whole heart in it.....

so years pass, we move out west for a a year, and then move to NC, ,, this is where we found ourselves, what made us happy, what we wanted out of our life...

in 2006 we found a Home smack in the Middle of the Pisgah National Forest.... it was the dream home, the home we talked about 13 yrs prior,(only not in alaska haha)...

and hour to a store, 45 minutes to the nearest gas station,,, wild and wooly it is.....

We have picked up where we left off,, started "chasing the dream " again,,

we now have a decent size garden, egg layers, butcher our own chickens, cook on a woodcookstove , can our veggies and are now the proud owners of 3 bee hives and a sweet lil greenhouse

this BLOG is Ultimately about our OFF GRID journey,,, we have decided to take the plunge,,, and would love to share our journey with ya'll..  now we are preparing and planning:)

Im excited to start blogging , sharing stories about chickens, gardens, greenhouse growin, woodstove cooking, veggie cannin , bee keepin' , and simple livin...

I would be tickled if you would come along, and read my our Blog,, read my ramblings, while we

CHASE THE DREAM...............