Thursday, March 18, 2010

I found the most amazing cookbook...

Today I found The Victory Garden Cookbook at the thrift store. It's awesome. Each chapter is based on a different vegetable and has a bunch of great, easy recipes using that veggie. Say I get carrots in my CSA box ...Oh look here some 20+ carrot based recipes. Say I get something a little different like Jerusalem Artichokes or Kohlrabi or Okra...they all have chapters too. I'm really excited about using this cookbook. I know I could probably find all these recipes online but it's so much nicer to have them all in one place and this way I don't have to print out recipes or run back and forth to my computer while cooking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday and Monday's CSA produce usage

The Fail: a cautionary tale -

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I tried to make a stuffed acorn squash with what I had on hand. I read several recipes online but didn't have all the ingredients for any of them. I tried to make it work with a frozen veggie mix, leftover chicken, cream cheese and some spices. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't something I'd want to force anyone else to eat. The best part was when the filling was gone and I was able to eat the acorn squash on it's own. Basically the moral of this story is "don't improvise a recipe with a veggie you've never eaten before."

The Win: waste not want not-

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I'd heard of roasting the seeds after you carve a pumpkin so I thought I might be able to do something similar with other winter squash seeds. I looked it up online and pretty much everyone agreed that any recipe that works for pumpkin seeds should work for all winter squash. I (mostly) followed these directions and made some yummy roasted squash seeds to snack on.

And an old favorite-

Since I'm almost out of the chicken broth I made in this post and this post back in January I decided to use the chicken bones and some of the veggies (especially one really old onion) to make another big batch of chicken stock. I really like making my own stock. I can put the spices I like into it and it's a great way to use veggie scraps.

Total produce used so far -
2 heads garlic
1 banana
1/2 bunch spinach
2 carrots
1 onion
2 sticks of celery
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 acorn squash

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday and Saturday's CSA week produce usage

This is actually pretty fun. I've experimented with making my own recipes and everything has been pretty tasty so far.

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Friday I started by roasting two heads of garlic in tin foil (for the first time). The beautiful white heads of garlic were just too much to resist. I'd missed lunch (bad Lyneya) so the first head's worth was spread out on bread for a quick snack. The second head was split between a chicken dish and making some garlic cream cheese.

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My first disappointment occurred when I tried to find out how to store my spinach and discovered how quickly the nutrients in spinach disappear (considering how long it took to get to Alaska there are probably no nutrients left in my spinach). In an attempt to use my spinach while it had the possibility of some nutritional value, I tossed some chopped spinach, leftover roasted chicken and half a head of roasted garlic in a frying pan with some olive oil. I fried it up a little and it made an amazing dinner with some dehydrated apple chips on the side. (In the future I'd probably use more spinach since it shrunk a lot more than I expected.)

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Then I mixed the last of the roasted garlic with about 8oz of cream cheese and a little basil, oregano, sage and onion salt. It made an amazing spread and a great breakfast on toasted bread this morning (no one else had to smell my breath).

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This evening I got home pretty late and wasn't in the mood to cook. Instead of cooking I decided to make a "green smoothie" like the wonderful ones I'd seen Sheri post on her Green and Crunchy blog. I tossed a bunch of spinach, a banana, some blueberry syrup I made last fall, and some strawberry Kefir in a blender and made a really tasty (kinda weird looking) green smoothie.

Total produce used so far -
2 heads garlic
1 banana
1/2 bunch spinach

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My pretend CSA box

The CSA I'm thinking of joining requires that you pay for your box a couple weeks ahead of the expected delivery date so even if I join today it would be about three weeks until I could expect my first box. Since I'm pretty excited about this concept I decided to get enough veggies and fruit to pretend I'd received a CSA box and see if I actually use it. Honestly, I probably didn't buy as much as I'd get in a box. However, since honey isn't here and I'm the only one eating I thought I'd be a little conservative. I went to the local grocery store and gave myself a free pass to buy anything that interested me (and looked good because not all their veggies do). I lucked out because some of the veggies were being restocked and I was able to wander behind the store employee and get amazingly fresh veggies.

What I'm starting with -
1 bunch Spinach
1 bunch parsley (Usually I have my own window grown parsley but my plant needs a break so I get store bought)
1 Acorn Squash (I made extra money in college working at a farm picking Acorn Squash so I think I should see what it tastes like)
2 bananas (they didn't look great but I really wanted some for smoothies)
1 bunch Celery
2lb Alaska grown Carrots
3 yellow onions
5 heads Garlic (picked them right out of the restocking box. Beautiful and fresh)
1 big bag shredded Cabbage (leftovers from my sauerkraut making class)
1 lemon
1 orange
8 lb apples (leftovers from a big bag bought in bulk a couple weeks ago. I should probably dehydrate some of them)

To some of you this may seem a pitiful amount of fresh produce but if you knew how little fresh produce normally lives in our fridge you would understand how overwhelming this amount of produce looks to me. Where my family lived when I was younger necessitated canned or frozen goods because fresh produce would spoil before it reached us. Plus going to the store was not a regular occurrence. Now that I have regular access to fresh food I need to change those habits.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is anyone a part of a CSA?

I'm considering joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). We are trying to switch our diets to be more natural and healthy but have encountered a few hiccups.

1 - The produce we can get at the grocery store in AK is usually a step away from spoilage
2- I didn't grow up using a lot of produce so get a little lost when I look beyond the carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
2b- My husband is getting really sick of carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes
3- I'm intimidated by the prices of produce in the grocery store and tend to only bring home an item or two
4- We're both still learning how to cook
5- We need to keep our budget in check

The CSA I'm thinking of joining, Glacier Valley CSA, is Alaska based (not all the CSA's that deliver in AK are actually based out of Alaska farms). They try to use as much local produce as possible from a variety of farms but in the winter they do supplement the root cellar offerings with organic produce sent in bulk from farms in the lower 48. Each box is $35 and you can buy them weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. It seems like you get some staple veggies in each box and some new and interesting veggies to experiment with.

I'm hoping some of my readers who've tried CSA programs or something similar will chime in with their experiences and help me decide. It's a big expense and I'm a little nervous about making a commitment to get boxes of fruits and veggies when we haven't been the best about eating them in the past.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


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A dehydrator only a mother (or thrifty maven) could love. It takes the trays from the dehydrator I bought when I was in college ($40 new), a slightly better dehydrator and it's trays ($5 Salvation Army) and the trays from another used dehydrator ($12 Value Village). All told I can use up to 11 feet of dehydrating space (I'm only using 9 of the trays in the picture). Additionally my thrift store purchases also came with 8 fruit leather trays and I have another functional fan/heater if my favorite one ever breaks. Just the extra trays would have cost me $7-10 each new and the fruit leather trays would have been about $5 each.

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And here's the jams I made in my class at the Cooperative Extension. A nice blueberry jam and a low sugar strawberry. One of the people in the class brought bread she made that morning and a french butter bell. So we got to eat fresh made, still warm jam with homemade bread and nice spreadable butter. Best class ever!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thank You Grandpa

Thank You Grandpa ...
-for loving so many children no one else wanted
-for taking a chance on a troubled teenage boy
-for unconditional love
-for creative punishments
-for being a man of principle and honor
-for teaching that to your children
-for stories
-for smiles
-for being a cranky old man

I love you Grandpa and I'm going to miss you so much. I'm so glad for you that you don't have to be trapped by your own mind anymore but I'm going to miss your smile and stories so much. You didn't have to raise my dad and you surely didn't have to love him but you did and it changed everything. I hope at the end of my life I have even a fraction of the legacy you've left behind. Thank You Grandpa and I love you.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Colin Beavan over at No Impact Man recently wrote a piece for the Guggenheim Museum on progress and it really struck a chord with me. I strongly recommend stopping by and giving it a read and maybe checking out some of his other posts.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Canning Class!!!

I looked up "retro canning" and found pictures of a bunch of WWII era posters.

Now that spring is getting closer (this is AK so despite the unseasonably warm weather we've been getting this year I'm not convinced it's really spring yet) the Cooperative Extension is teaching preserving classes again. I found out about the classes yesterday. Just in time to sign up for the first one - tonight. I'm getting pretty confident with making jams and jellies (the subject for the first class) but could definitely use some additional help. And I haven't yet tried any of the other techniques they will be covering - Pickles and Sauerkraut, canned fish (my fisherman uncle might come with me for this class), canning veggies and meat, and lastly dehydrating and freezing. I'm really excited about these classes. I've always been the kind of person who can find a book to teach me just about anything but one of my goals regarding simplifying our lives is to become more involved in the community. So taking classes in preserving will help me spend time in the greater community and learn useful, tasty stuff.
On a side note the plumbing is now fixed. And I gained a lot of knowledge on plumbing troubleshooting.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm starting to miss the outhouse

Caution - Gross subject matter and pouty author ahead

I'm staying at the family home to help watch my nephew. Unfortunately. right before I arrived, the plumbing stopped working. Our best guess is that the aforementioned nephew facilitated a meeting between the household plumbing and one of his toys via the toilet. Yippee! (yeah that was sarcastic) So today I'm pretending to be a plumber and trying everything I know (or can find the directions for on the Internet) to get it back up and running again.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 7 Money Free Week - Review

Day 11 money spent - $0
Fly lady - on hold until I'm back in my own home

While I didn't always enjoy it, it was very freeing to spend an entire week money free. Normally, when I get bored or just want to get out of the house, I go shopping at the thrift stores or book stores. While I am very good at looking for deals, I still often spend money I don't need to just to alleviate my boredom. This week I had to discover other ways to entertain myself. I spent some time just hanging out at the library, I made my own instant oatmeal, I dehydrated lots of food, read several books, and had a couple adventures in creative cooking. Not only did my spending moratorium help us save money but it also helped me in a couple several seemingly unrelated areas of my life. It helped me loose weight because I had to eat at home. I can think of at least three times this week when I was heading home hungry and was tempted to just stop and pick up something to eat but didn't because of the money free week. It helped me get in shape. I was much more active this week than normal. I got out and did things instead of wandering around behind a shopping cart. It built my cooking skills. I ran out of milk on the second day of the money free week and had to get creative with some of my recipes. Going "money free" also taught me a lot about eating from the pantry. Normally I see one ingredient, decide what I want to cook with it and make it happen even if every other ingredient in the recipe has to come from the store. This week, I looked at what was in my pantry and came up with creative combinations thereof. It was actually really fun and I made some outlandish and tasty meals.

What did I learn this week?

-I don't need money to be happy. I was at least as happy as normal this week and maybe a little more.

-The easiest way to avoid spending is to not go shopping. If I'm not in a store I can't buy stuff. (simple and yet so revolutionary)

-I don't have to follow the recipe exactly.

- A good deal is only a good deal if you need what you're buying.

-Free cycle. Need I say more?

- I have a LOT of food in my pantry.

-Both the base and town libraries are great!

-Lots of other stuff I'm sure I will remember later.

It made me smile

Money Free Week Day 6 - Late Post

Money spent day 10 - $0
Flylady - still working on hot spots

This is actually yesterdays post. I spent most of the day out in the Valley again helping my brother paint his house. When we were done, I was so tired and hungry it was a fight not to just stop somewhere and pick up food before the 1hr drive home. I was very stern with myself and came right home. Then I snacked on a bunch of dehydrated apples while I cooked some dinner.

Honey was able to get to a WiFi connection yesterday night so we got to spend some time in a real-time chat instead of just sending e-mails back and forth. It was really nice to get to communicate back and forth.

On my last visit to the library I checked out The Home Creamery. I'm hoping to try some of the recipes once I have some milk again. I'm thinking I might be able to set my dehydrator up to keep the milk at the right temperature to make yogurt. Eventually I want o try making Keffir but I need to find a source of keffir grains first.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"How It All Ends" - A Climate Change Video Worth Watching

Thanks to Rachael over at Happy Doings for this link. Trust me it's a video worth watching and then sending to all your fence-sitting friends and relatives.

Money Free Week Day 5 - I am worn out

Day 9 money spent - $0 (yippe!!! Back on Track)
Day 7 Fly Lady - paused as I wasn't home today at all

I spent today at my sister's house watching my 4 year old nephew (on about 2 hrs of sleep). I am worn out. I wish I could post something fun or helpful but right now my main priority is getting some sleep :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Money Free Week Day 4 - Homemade Instant Oatmeal

Day 8 money spent - $30 (My sister's child care for tomorrow fell through so I had to get gas so I can get there to watch my nephew. I'm sad that it broke my money free week a little but not that I will be able to help out family.)
Day 6 Fly Lady - working on my "hot spots"

Homemade Instant Oatmeal....seems a little like an oxymoron but I'm always on the lookout for quick affordable breakfast ideas. I like oatmeal but it takes too long for our normal morning routine and I usually only buy the little "instant" packets for camping trips and the like. Since I'd dehydrated so many apples and wanted to figure out some uses for them other than just snacking, I decided to try and figure out how to make instant flavored oatmeal. The obvious choice for my first adventure was "Apple Cinnamon" (plus it's my favorite).

The Simple Dollar and Budget 101 both had decent directions for making your own instant oatmeal packets so I used their recipes as a starting point to figure out a recipe that works for me. The first thing I wanted to change was the use of zip lock baggies to store the individual servings. All those plastic baggies seemed wasteful and I've been trying to get away from storing food in plastic. Instead I decided to make a mix that could be added to regular quick cooking oatmeal to turn it into instant. Below is the recipe that worked for me.

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For the Instant mix
(this is made to please my palate so you might have to change the amounts to please yours)
1/2 C Oat Powder (oatmeal that's been ground in a blender to make powder)
1/2 C Dried apple bits (I used the blender for this too)
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon

Mix it all together in a jar.

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When you are ready to make the oatmeal, add 2 Tbsp mix for every 1/4 C Oatmeal (the apples tend to float to the top so make sure to get the whole mix in every scoop). Then add as much water as makes you happy and enjoy.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Money Free Week Day 3 - Buying Stuff Withdrawal

Day 7 money spent - $0
Fly Lady day 5 - so so but still working on it

I think I'm suffering spending withdrawal. I don't need anything. I'm not going to die if I don't see what's at the thrift store but I still really, really want to go and check. The first two days went OK but it seems like I can't turn around without thinking of something I should run out and buy. Honestly, it's pretty sad. I didn't realise to what extent I was using the thrift stores and just wandering a store and shopping in general as a stress reliever. We are working so hard on getting out of debt but to make it happen I need to curtail my spending (a great deal at the thrift store is only a great deal if what you bought was actually a necessity). I really need to reevaluate this area of my life and come up with a plan. I do not think this kind of relationship with money is healthy so I need to change.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Money Free Week Day 2 - More Dehydrator Fun

Day 6 money spent - $0
Flylady Day 4 - doing OK and my sink is still shiny

Zucchini and Apples
(not together)

Before my money free week started, I picked up some zucchini on sale. Inspired by Sheri over at Green and Crunchy, I decided to dry them and make zucchini chips. (I'm really enjoying my dehydrator and have no idea why it was in the garage for so long)

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I couldn't decide which seasonings to put on the zucchini so I tried several different seasonings. Clockwise from the top- taco seasoning, nothing, sodium free Mrs. Dash, Johnny's seasoning salt, and garlic salt (I was pretty light on the ones that involved salt). My favorite seasoning were the garlic salt and seasoning salt. I think because they taste more like potato chips. The chips were great plain but even better with a tiny bit of ranch on them.

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Since I had half a zucchini left that didn't fit in the dehydrator, I sliced it up and cooked it with a little olive oil and some spices (Really yummy). I think I'm going to have to add zucchini to our menu more often.

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And apples! And more apples! The results of dehydrating a big bag of apples picked up in bulk. I actually should have a couple more jars of apples in this picture but it took me a few days to dehydrate all of them and I wiped out a couple jars while I was waiting.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 1 Money Free Week - A Yummy Accident

Day 5 money spent - $0
Day 3 Fly Lady - so far so good

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This morning I decided to see if I could use up some of the leftovers and older veggies in the fridge. The idea was to make a soup for lunch. From the fridge I gathered bacon, veggies, leftover Benihana Chicken and then added some of my homemade Chicken stock. I didn't have any onions so I threw in some lipton onion soup mix. I added a wild rice mix with seasonings from the pantry and toward the end I tossed in some frozen peas. I guess the rice soaked up all my stock because the finished product had the consistency of gumbo instead of soup. But it was really, really yummy and I used up some of the fridge debris.

I'm also trying to get rid of a lot of the extra clutter that we don't need and putting stuff up on Craigslist and FreeCycle (depending on the item). I've given away a few things and sold two things so far.

Have you noticed that I've got a lot of self improvement projects going on right now? I've noticed that every time Honey is gone I get in this "fix my world" mode. When honey is home, we stay pretty busy with working on the house and "Army stuff." When he's gone, I can only do so much on the apartment and all the "Army stuff" disappears. Plus, I get kinda lonely. So to keep myself entertained (and hopefully not shopping) I use these times to work on the big projects that are easier w/o honey here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let's Try this Again

Day 4 money spent - $20 (food at the Cafe hosting the Pagan Meet up Group and seeds for the Ostara planning session)
Day 2 Flylady - my sink is shiny and I'm dressed to lace up shoes
I haven't done as well as I'd hoped with my spending goals so this coming week (Feb 22-28th) I'm going cold turkey. I officially declare a Money Free Week! No food, no gas, no thrift stores, nothing! I have more than enough food in the pantry to feed me for a month much less a week and I can't think of a single thing I absolutely can't live without in the next week. Let the freedom from money begin!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Sink is Shiny :P

Day 3 money spent - $30 (took sister grocery shopping at Costco and picked up a few perishable staples for myself)
Day 1 Flylady - Shined my sink
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I've been trying to spring clean my house (keyword - trying). Organizing and cleaning is one of those tasks that overwhelms me pretty quickly. It seems to be a never ending task so it's really hard to get excited about accomplishments when I know it's just going to have to be done again in a few days. I never let my house get dirty but it tends to be cluttered and that drives me crazy.

A friend at our last duty station was a devoted follower of the Flylady system and it seemed to work for her. I've decided to try the system for myself while honey is away and I have the house all to myself. The website has 31 days of baby steps to get you started and develop the habits that are the backbone of the system. Even if the whole system doesn't work I'll probably gain some techniques that will work for me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Something to Hug

Day 2 money spent - $4.50
Meet Honey the Second
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Honey the First gave me this wonderful teddy to keep me company during the various missions that keep him away from home. He made the bear at Build-A-Bear and the outfit came off a stiff uncuddly military bear I'd picked up at the thrift store. The combination of cute cuddly bear and cute tiny ACUs is wonderful but the real kicker is that Honey recorded a message so when I hug the bear it says "I love you Honey." Awwwwww.... Cute and Smarmy.

A Company I already liked just got better

Owner of Multi-Million Dollar Company Hands Over Business to Employees - ABC News

I first discovered Bob's Red Mill when I wanted to make a Gluten Free dessert to take to an SCA feast for my friends with Celiac disease. I was impressed with their variety of Gluten free products and had a lot of fun experimenting over the next few months in making yummy tasting desserts that my friend could enjoy. As we've been trying to eat out less and keep our food at home healthier, I've used Bob's Red Mill products quite a lot (I can get them in bulk at Natural Harvest).
This morning my news feed was headed by the news that the founder of Bob's Red Mill has given the company to the employees. Pretty cool huh? He decided he could never sell the company to someone else and trust they would maintain the principles the company was founded upon. He could however trust the company in the hands of the people who had built the company right along side him.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And it began with a wimper...

Day 1 money spent - $0

In the days leading up to Honey leaving for another 5 week army trip, we found out we were going to have to replace our roof. We knew when we bought the house we were going to have to replace the roofing in the next few years but this winter has been especially hard and some of the roof issues have come to a head. We came to the conclusion that we're going to have to replace the roof this summer and fix these issues before they get any worse. Since some of the problems stem from having a hot roof flowing into a cold roof, we're going to be changing some of the underlying roof structure while we're in there. Sucks to be us. I'll be honest it was not a pretty sight when we came to the final conclusion. We're entering the home stretch on the apartment and I was really looking forward to having the summer off to work on my garden and plant trees.

Sad, bummed, such is life...

Because we have some major expenses coming up this summer we decided to try and save as much as possible in the next couple months. For the next five weeks Honey is gone and wont have many opportunities to spend money. I'll be here but I'm going to try and eat from the pantry and avoid most spending. The only thing I'm really worried about is gas money. I've already committed to helping my family (60 miles away) with several projects while honey is gone so that's a good chunk of change in gas money right off the bat.

And just to show it never rains but it pours. When I tried to turn on the computer this morning (honey has my laptop again), it just constantly restarted itself. I don't think honey's computer likes me as it did something very similar last time he left as well. So I dug out the 11 year old laptop honey had when we met. (I'm pretty sure the duct tape holding the casing on isn't factory original) It's pretty slow so I'll be cutting back on my Internet time (that's probably a good thing) but I'm going to try and keep posting regarding how my low spending month is going.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Strawberry Kiwi Jam - Yummy


In honor of my newfound canning jar collection I made Strawberry Kiwi Jam last night. The strawberries are ones I froze last summer for just such occasions and the Kiwis were purchased as they don't freeze well and I don't have a good source for Alaska grown ones yet (guess I just might have to grow my own). Unfortunately, I still haven't mastered the art of keeping my fruit from floating but it turned out much better in this batch than in previous ones.

I got the recipie from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jams, Jellies and Preserves which I checked out from the library. I'm really liking this book. It has great recipies that have been tested and idiot proofed (I need that when cooking).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Kitchen has been Overrun!!!

Ok. I think I'm ready to admit I might have enough canning jars.

I responded to an add on Craigslist from an older lady who wanted to winnow down her collection of canning jars now that she was preserving for two instead of a whole family. For a few dollars I gained all these canning jars and she gained more room for her fabric stash. It's mostly pint jars (several dozen) with a few of the quilted crystal 1/2 pint jars and about 20 quart jars. Since it'll probably be a couple years until we have our garden fully up and running, I probably wont use all these jars right away but it's nice to know I'll have what I need when I need it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dehydrator Fun

I recently dug the dehydrator I purchased back when I was in college out of storage and now I can't figure out why I didn't have it out this whole time. I'm terrible about eating my fruits and veggies. However, I will snack on dehydrated apples like they're candy. I was having so much fun dehydrating snack foods I ended up buying a second dehydrator at the thrift store for $5 so I could add the extra trays onto mine and dry more food at once.
Apples I picked up for $0.45 a LB (this is AK people, that price is just short of miraculous). I'm giving the slices a pineapple juice soaking before dehydrating to prevent browning. The apple infused pineapple juice is amazingly yummy after you're done soaking the apple slices.
Laid out on the dehydrator trays.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. My house smells so yummy.
Victory! Apple Chips. I dehydrate the hell out of my apples because I like crisp chips better than the smushy textured dehydrated apples you can get at the stores.
My loot for the last two days. Apples and some carrots that were getting soft for using in soups and taking camping.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Toy Society

This is the best idea ever! The Toy Society makes small homemade toys and stuffed animals and leaves them in random places for children to find. I am going to have to go through my fabric and find some that will work for toys.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pretty Wally Hangy Thingy

(Yeah, I'm weird. Live with it)

The last few weeks I've been worried about one of my favorite little stores. Good Karma is a wonderful little store run by a young couple. It has such a happy vibe. They both work at the store so they can spend time together as a family and I've watched their daughter grow from an infant into a toddler. They have great ritual supplies and the best essential oils made by local artists with intent. Since mid January every time I've driven by their lights have been off and the store has been closed. They are a small niche business so they usually operate month to month and I was worried that something happened and they went out of business.

Last week Honey and I stopped by one more time crossing our fingers and hoping they would be open. They were. Kinda. The store was lit by candles and they were having a candlelit sale. Apparently, there were some family related financial issues and in taking care of what had priority they were unable to pay the electricity for the shop (But they are still open and will have the electricity back soon!). Honey and I decided it was worth a little spending spree that we would normally not indulge in to help out one of our favorite little shops...Hence the pretty wally hangy thingy...


I've always really liked this wall hanging when they had it in the store but I try not to buy things new unless I have to. Fortunately, the circumstances allowed me to finally own it without feeling guilty for needless spending. Each part is a different Sabbat. You could use them separately or hang them all at once like I have. My MIL got us the copper pentacle in the middle for Christmas (I really did luck out in the MIL department). We performed a little house blessing and protection ritual before we hung it.

The hanging for Imbolc. So pretty.

I also got several new essential oils, a little cauldron, 3" pentacle for our portable altar box, and honey got a nice metal pentacle plaque to replace the resin one he was tricked into buying online (they said it was clay). If you have a chance, send some positive energy toward this wonderful little store and the family that runs it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Card is Here! Happy Dance! My Card is Here!


My Card for the Imbolc Art Card Exchange came! I've been eagerly awaiting its arrival since I sent off the one I made last week. Tami made my card and it is absolutely beautiful. The picture on the front is from a painting she made for her daughter's room. The sun on the inside is from a stamp she carved and she wrote the poem just for me :) I hope Jen over at Chasing Domestic Bliss does this again because it was wonderful fun (hint, hint) but we wont pester her too much about it since she's pretty busy with other projects as well.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Perserverance Pays Off - The Tale of a Food Mill


Last fall my Mother In Law taught me how to make jam and can it. One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was the feeling on connection and tradition that it carried. She taught me like her grandmother had taught her. We used a food mill that her grandmother had given her and had been in turn given by her mother. I loved it.

When I left that day, she gave me the food mill she'd bought before she inherited the family food mill. Unfortunately, it was cracked. She hadn't used it in so many years it had been shoved aside in storage and somehow gotten cracked. We tried to fix it but the first time I tried to use it the crack got bigger and the bowl broke. :( Poor little food mill. I salvaged the bottom pieces with the various sized holes and the metal crank part that pushes the fruit through the holes and put it into storage with my canning supplies for next summer. Throughout the winter, as I slowly gathered my collection of jars for next years canning season from the thrift stores I kept my eyes out for a new (used) food mill.

A couple months ago I found a metal food mill bowl and crank with no bottoms for a couple dollars. I was so excited and brought it home in the hopes I could use the bottoms from my MIL's food mill and make it work. They didn't fit. Now I had two incomplete food mills :( This Monday I found a food mill bowl at the thrift store without any of the other pieces ($0.99). Why not give it one more try? I brought it home. The bottom pieces from the first food mill fit but the crank is too wide for the bowl. The crank from the second mill fits the bowl but the bottom is a little too big for the opening in the bottom pieces of the first food mill. Enter handy-dandy honey (he is going to hate me calling him that) who was able to take a metal punch and make the holes just a little bit bigger so all the parts fit together. Now I have a food mill made from the parts of three food mills :) Am I weird that this situation just tickles me pink? Plus my "new" food mill is still using an element of the food mill my MIL gave me so I get to keep the family connection going. Eventually I might find the parts to fix my other incomplete food mill and pass it on to someone else and keep the chain going.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Imbolc Open Circle

The night started with all of us who weren't active participants in the ritual (calling the quarters or being the maiden, mother, or crone) gathered in the fellowship hall of the UU building we were borrowing. Those who were familiar with the chants for the ritual taught them to the rest of us (simple, repetitive and beautiful). It really set a tone for the rest of the ritual.

When the time came for the ritual, we all formed a line and slowly processed into the main room of the UU building. The room was darkened except for the candlelight. The circle was marked by a large ring of battery operated tea lights (beautiful without the risk of fire in someone else's building). Each quarter had a small alter with several candles and the symbols of its element and there was a raised fire pit with a small fire in it as well. We followed the inner edge of the circle, chanting "The Wheel Turns" and after everyone walked the entire circle once we spread out evenly along the edge. With chants interspersed throughout - the circle was closed, the quarters were called, the Lady was invoked in her three-fold maiden/mother/crone form (poor Lord was ignored). We all (who wanted to) participated in a working involving holding a ring, setting a goal or intention into the ring, heating the ring in the flame, setting it on an anvil and striking it with the hammer and then quenching the ring in the water from the cauldron. Basically, it was an opportunity to ask the Lady's blessing on a goal for the year ahead and affirm it through action. Then we were led on a guided meditation (not my favorite. I prefer silent meditation) based on the Imbolc tradition. We shared milk and cookies (yummy). The quarters were thanked and released and the circle was opened.

Overall I really liked my first Open Ritual (normally my exposure to formalized rituals is participating with Honey in a Wiccan style ritual). It seemed a little one sided because while the Lady/Moon/Goddess was referenced several times the Lord/Sun/God was completely ignored (kinda sad since Sabbats are supposed to be Sun based holidays). But it was an opportunity to meet other local Pagans and see how they celebrate. The set up was really well done and they were able to invoke a very otherworldly and mystical feeling in a very regular space. Not to mention the great potluck afterwords. Everyone brought great food and a lot of the offerings were traditional Imbolc foods. I brought some of the Raspberry Chipolte Sauce I made last fall with cream cheese to pour it on and crackers to spread them on. I figured Imbolc is still the winter season of eating from the stores (preserved food), the time of calving (dairy), and spicy food for the growing sun (chipolte).

The chants at the Ritual were -

The Wheel Turns
Brid is Come
Tall Tree
Everything She Touches
Holy Well and Sacred Flame

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Imbolc Open Circle Prep Night

This evening, we went to help set up for tomorrow's Open Circle for Imbolc. Afterward, there was an opportunity for fellowship and a little bit of a bardic type event. It was an opportunity for those of us who were new to get to know the rest of the group and everyone to trade Imbolc lore from their particular tradition. Overall pretty awesome and casual. One of the organizers brought her henna and gave designs to those who wanted it.



One wrist had the symbol for the Lady and one has the Lord. She sealed it with some sugary lemon juice (the white flaky stuff) and I'm trying to leave the design on as long as I can to get it darker. I think I would love to get tattoos like these one day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yesterday...I wove a Sunrise...It made me smile

A pictoral trip through my yesterday.


I call this pattern "Woven Sunrise." I thought it was a fitting craft for Imbolc.


I finally made a home for all the canning jars I've been collecting at the thrift stores this winter. I figure if I pick them up a few at a time when I can find them at the thrift stores, I'll be able to build my collection for .10 to .25 cents a jar instead of about .75 a jar like they are new. Hopefully I'll have enough jars by the time canning season comes along.


The cutest "green" shirt ever. Picked it up at the thrift store for my niece (who isn't born yet).