Tuesday, May 31, 2005

More strawberries, Cider stories and Red clover

Last weekend, I had a very relaxing time. Saturday was my day of rest. Although, I still did my usual cleaning and preparation of meals. I just didn't tackle any new projects. Sunday, instead of sleeping in, we got up early and with my neighbor went and picked at the strawberry patch. Actually, she invited me along, but when nick and I found out, we opted to take our car. She was leaving her kids at home this time.

We got there right at 8 and picked for an hour and a half. Nick and I picked two buckets each, which equaled about 12 pounds. We bought one bucket and with the others, the owner has this deal where if you pick for them, they will give you back a 1/3 of what you pick. So, we ended up with still alot of strawberries. Their prices are reasonable too. $1.00 a pound if you pick.

We wanted to save our money yet still enjoy the strawberries. Between the strawberries from the Amish farm, Joyce's and the strawberry patch, you'd think we'd have alot of strawberries, but our weakness is strawberry shortcake. We have eaten alot of them up! But we decided to save the rest which is about 3 gallon sized freezer bags and save for a rainy day, maybe even make some strawberry jam out of them or save for smoothies.

Sunday after we got back and I processed them for the freezer, I washed laundry and hung it up to dry on the clothesline. Worked in the garden a bit even picked some mulberries. I've got almost a gallon picked. Cleaned the kitchen up, vacuumed the carpeted rooms, and took Huck on his daily walk.

Sometimes our neighbors dog, Cider goes along. That is always a treat. He is so funny, a yellow lab, he runs all over the place so full of energy. The other day, Huck and I were walking back from our walk and there was Huck so tired, putting one foot in front of the other. He was so tired and hot, and all of a sudden here comes Cider, just loping along, not panting, not tired, as if he was teasing Huck for being so slow. Huck stopped, looked back at me, then ahead to Cider, I'm sure he was thinking that it wasn't fair he had such shorter legs. I just started cracking up thinking what was going through Huck's mind!

Later that evening, my friend and neighbor, Ginny went red clover picking with me. I had wanted to get more and glad I did, because the place where I go they had mowed down! But there was still plenty to be picked! I have been picking red clover the last few weeks and drying them. Red clover is best when made as an infusion. An infusion is where you take the herb you are using and steep it in boiling water for several hours. It is much more nutritious than just making tea out of it.

Monday, Nick and I just enjoyed ourselves relaxing. I spent time cross-stitching, reading, relaxing in the shade outside. We talked outside about our plans for the house, the yard, and garden. We went to Maggie's in the evening to work on the rest of the rows in the garden. I picked red clover while I was there since we have only one hoe. The vegetables are coming up so nicely, corn, green beans, beets, peas, cukes. We stayed and visited awhile with Maggie then headed home.

What a wonderful weekend it was!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

strawberry picking is fun!

Last Monday, Bear and I went out to see my "Aunt" and "Uncle" in Rockville. Joyce invited us out to pick strawberries and to visit my cousin, Sandy who was in town. We had a good time. We stamped some cards and visited. The weather was warm. Bear even managed to get sunburn on his arms. I am suprised I didn't, since I wasn't even wearing anything to cover my neck. I just wore a baseball cap. I picked a lot of strawberries, but Joyce, Bear and Sandy all came out and helped too. I have several containers in the freezer waiting to be made into something, whether it be strawberry shortcake or strawberry jam. I am thankful they let me come out and pick! Thanks, Joyce and Duane!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Don't Throw Away! Freecycle it.

Today a lady came by and picked up my leftover garage sale items. I am a member of a yahoo group called Freecycle. It is an email list where people give away things that they no longer need for free. It saved me a trip into town to the thrift store. They have groups all over the U.S. You can either offer an item out or put a wanted ad in. The main website is: www.freecycle.org to search for your area.


Chamomile

Yesterday while walking to the post office I could smell a fragrance coming from these tiny flower buds that smelled so familiar to me only I couldn't think of what it was. It smelled so good! Well, I thought about it all day and still couldn't think of where I smelled it before, only that it was so comforting. So, when I walked to the post office again today I reached down and gathered some up. Oh, the scent!!

I took the bunch in and asked the postmaster my friend if she knew what it was. She knew right away, Chamomile! That's it! I love chamomile tea! So, on my way home I picked some and planted it in a pot. I hope it grows well as I would love to have chamomile tea whenever I want. Chamomile spreads like mint so hopefully by next year I'll have a big stash. I don't know if it's too late or not for this year, but next year for sure I want to have a bigger herb garden and have culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs. A few ideas to grow them would be to get an old wagon wheel and plant each herb in a different spoke. Or to get an old ladder and in between each rung have a different herb. Oh, the joys of planning!

A website I found

http://chamomiletimes.com/

My bio poem

Noel
Friendly, Laid-back, Quiet
Wife of Nick
Lover of dogs, cats, country living
Who feels happy, peaceful, and energetic
Who finds happiness in nature, long road trips, and being with Nick
Who wants children, a simple life, and a country home
Who gives encouragement, a listening ear, and time
Who enjoys sewing, rubberstamping, cross-stitching
Who likes to wear dresses, sandals, and hats
Who would like to see more considerate people, the earth taken care of, more local businesses
Resident of Missouri.
Wright

Monday, May 16, 2005

The homesteader's most valuable resource...

It doesn't matter if you are the poorest SOB on the face of the planet, if you are a homesteader there is one thing that you have more of than you could ever use up.

Time.

We live in an age where folks think that everything should've been done yesterday. And I tell you what, that is probably the hardest attitude that I'm trying to overcome.

There are so many things that I want to do to our homestead, and I want them done now! But it is just not meant to be that way. I don't have the funds (or the desire) necessary to live that kind of life.

When weighing options for getting work done here so far, I've always been presented with two basic options. The "easy" way and the "hard" way.

Obviously the easy way entails paying someone else to do the work; whether paying for labor or renting equipment to use myself. But there's that key word -- "paying."

The hard way always means doing the work myself, often with materials scavenged from somewhere else. Oh, and it almost always means lots of time.

Thankfully, I rarely have money to pay anyone to do my work for me. And I say thankfully because it really is much more fulfilling to do the work yourself. Because I have all the time in the world.

Yes, I do have a day job. But my evenings are all mine, along with all day Sunday and half-days on Saturdays and Mondays.

Fencing in my yard is the perfect example. I'll be scrounging the wood from old pallets and doing all the labor myself. Sure I won't be able to fence in my entire yard in a week's time, but if it takes me half a year to finish, so what? Yes, it's hard as hell to take the boards off pallets; especially the one's I've been getting lately, seems whoever put them together thought it'd be a good idea to put four nails in each place where wood touches wood. But I've got all the time in the world. My yard's not going anywhere, and neither am I.

When it's done, I'll have done it myself and at no cost to me.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Stainless steel cleaner and dish soap

I went to Walmart the other day looking for a good all purpose cleaner. There was a specific one I was looking for that I had seen at Woods but they did not carry it. So, I began looking trying to find the right one. Just when I had about given up, (for there were too many to pick from) I glanced down and saw one called Orange Clean. It seems a long time ago I used one with a similar name to clean wood surfaces and I loved the way it worked. So I picked it up, bought it of course, and took it home. I couldn't wait to try it out. The label said it was for tubs, sinks, countertops, ovens, and more. It is the best all purpose cleaner I have used. I used to buy 409, but this is way better and it smells nice when you are cleaning. The best thing is that when I sprayed it into my stainless steel sink, it made the sink shine so beautifully and it has stayed shiny too.

Update 11/14/2012- Well, I can no longer find this cleaner anymore. At least not locally. So, I ordered a new bottle of kitchen cleaner from Nutri-Life which my neighbor sells. I am excited to try it. I use the Dish Drops for my dishes and love the way it cleans. Just a few drops is all that is needed to create mounds of suds and my dishes sparkle when I'm done. I love both the light fragrances, Citrus and Green Herb. I noticed that the kitchen spray is the same Citrus scent and can't wait to try it. I should get the bottle next week. I don't care for overpowering scents since I have sensitivity issues with chemicals.

One bottle of Dish Drops lasts me a long time. It cost me less than $5 and since I place my order with my neighbor I get free shipping. I think that's a pretty good deal!

I'll be sure to post about my review of the new kitchen spray once I get the chance to use it! And I've been curious to know just how long a bottle of Dish Drops last, so I'll make a note of it when I open the bottle and see.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pallets: A homesteader's best friend...

Businesses usually have to pay someone to haul away their old pallets. That means that they are ripe for the homesteader's picking! And the potential uses for them are without number.

I've been getting pallets from the newspaper that I work for. Tonight I put three full-size pallets together along with one half-pallet to form a compost bin.

What I did was simple. I took the slats off the back of the pallets, stood them on their ends and nailed them in place. The half-pallet simply slides in the front, which will allow us to remove it when we want to get the finished compost out.

But that's not by far the only thing you can do with them.

You can make fences out of them. Which will be one of the projects that we tackle in the near future.

You can construct sheds and woodsheds.

Anything you can imagine building with wood can probably be made out of pallets. And it'll be one heck of a lot cheaper than buying store bought lumber -- by which I mean free!

Update: It is now 2012 and the pallet compost bin we made in 2005 is still standing. Well, sort of, the neighbor dogs torn down the front piece, but that's because we weren't living on the property for several years. The fact that what remains it's still there sturdy as ever though makes me love pallets!

Bear has access to pallets now with his job and I'm excited to rekindle my love for pallets and build many things next year with them! :-)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

First official city wide garage sale

We had our first official city wide garage sale last week. The sale has been going on for the past few years, but we had never been a part of it. Someone asked me if it was worth it and if I planned to do it again next year. My answer was that I had this sale to rid myself of clutter I've accumulated over the past few years and that I hoped to not get myself in the same mess again.

Hopefully, by this time next year, I do not have any junk to get rid of because I do not have any junk, but if I slip into my old ways and gather more junk, then yes, I will be having a sale again. Perhaps though if I don't have any junk to sell, then I can bake cookies or sell some crafty things. I had wanted to do that last week but ran out of time to prepare. I wanted to make sure that I had everything set out to sell way ahead of time.

The sale went pretty good. I was suprised with the number of people that came on Thursday. The nearby city was having their city wide sale on Saturday so I knew that it would be pretty slow then. but had no idea how slow. Friday slowed down from Thursday's rush and Saturday was so boring! I had like three people come the whole day until 2. I should have stayed open until 6 or 7 but by 2, I was exhausted. It is surprising how tiring it can be to sit and wait for someone plus the wind was blowing so hard that every few minutes I was jumping up and picking up items off the ground.

I think what I'll do next year, (here I go again, this is assuming I have stuff) is set out items on Thursday and tell people as they come that I'll be putting out more stuff each day. Then when Friday starts, I'll box out what didn't sell on Thursday and mark it way down and put out Friday's stuff and so forth. I had several people come back each day to see if I had put out more stuff. Also what I did was when it got slow, I'd run back inside and find more stuff to get rid of. There were several items I kept holding on to, but knew i'd never use them. I ended up selling those first.

It feels good to get rid of junk in my life. I feel so free! Now, if I can just organize the house better...

Blessing bags completed.

The first batch of blessing bags have been completed. Here are the last of them. Next challenge is to make 25 more in a Christmas...