Tag Archives: organic

Homemade Coffee Creamer

Things have been crazy-go-nuts here on the homestead with harvesting, cutting and splitting wood, prepping for fall classes, and having a mobile little one running amuck. That being said, I figured that I owed you all at least a quick post seeing how it’s been so long.

For the past month or so I’ve been living off from homemade creamer in my coffee. It was an idea I found mentioned on a few other homesteading blogs and I decided to run with it. The recipe is easy enough to memorize and make any time you’re out:

– 2 cups of any type of milk or creamer

– sweetener to taste

– 1 tsp. of vanilla

– spices to taste

So far I’ve played with using cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk, heavy creamer, whipping cream, and light cream. Maple syrup, honey, and sugar all work well for sweeteners. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and almond extract have all joined in the mix on occasion. This is a wonderful add on to any cup of coffee, chai, or cocoa.

10 Ways We’ve Improved

I was getting a little disenchanted with the whole homesteading thing this morning while reading a friend’s post. This friend has been going at this much longer than I, has more knowledge, and is much more efficient. However, it got to me nonetheless, and I felt like I just haven’t been doing enough to simplify our life and help with the homesteading schemes and dreams as they were. For us, this means doing things naturally, safely, and mostly on our own. I decided to sit and think of at least ten ways that I’ve made our family healthier, safer, and/or more self-reliant.

1. Avoiding chemical cleaners and using organic methods instead, like for combating mold/mildew.

2. Swapping to organic, human, and local health products. I personally only use baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair now. Joe uses Dr. Bronners, and for soap we’re now buying goat’s milk soap from the farmer’s market.

3. Adding a wood stove into our home.

4. Taking the plunge of getting our first livestock: laying hens. They’re free ranged with no antibiotics. Great, healthy eggs high in vitamins than store bought ones and we know how the girls are treated.

5. I’ve increased the amount of repairs done to clothing to keep things being used longer.

6. Knitted items are being burned our at a decent pace now and a braided rug has been started.

7. Canning and stashing began with a bang this year. We all ready have the same number of jam jars in the freezer that we did over the entire course of last season.

8. We’ve made a full swap from using DEET products.

9. Joe’s been finding numerous projects to do using the free pallets that we’ve been able to track down.

10. We’ve been able to focus on making even more food at home than before, which is great! Bread, ice cream, pasta, and many other attempts have come out well. Some things we’ll still buy as we only have so much time in the day, but its’ nice o know that we can do these things in a pinch.

Gearing up…

Planting season has almost slowed down. Four of the five gardens are planted, only the beans/pumpkin bed is awaiting seeds after I finish fencing it off. That’s the one thing you don’t think about when you decide that your laying hens are going to be free-range: they like seeds and sprouts – a lot. Thank heavens we thought of that before we started planting! Needless to say, come next year, everything will be going a lot smoother.

So with planting season slowing up to simply water, weeding, and planting second sets, life should be a little smoother around here, right? Wrong. Things are just gearing up. Rhubarb is up at the in-laws. We have one bag already which will be pretty much used fresh. The frozen stuff from last year needs to be thawed and jammed before I start using this season’s for that same reason.

Strawberries are up and we’ll be picking this weekend. With any luck we’ll get all twenty-five pounds done in one session so any extra I get at the end of the season will be bonus. If strawberries are up now, raspberries and blueberries are right around the corner.  We’ll be doing those at pick-your-owns this year, something we’ve done with blueberries in the past, but raspberries will be an added step. Granted, we will be picking what we can of the wild ones around the house if the birds and deer don’t get them first.

As far as tea supplies go, we’re borrowing the in-laws dehydrator so that I can collect some dandelion, raspberry, and clover, if it’s not too late to do such. I’m also hoping that this will let me get a better handle on drying the mint throughout the year as well as drying up spinach for stews and the like, if there’s’ a good harvest.

This doesn’t even touch on the other projects we have going, nor the ones we’re trying to plan. We just removed all the carpet in the master bedroom and will be painting the floor before winter. I’ve been working on cutting up a bag of scraps for braided area rugs, but that isn’t anything I plan on having done for this winter. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to sweeping instead of vacuuming the bedroom, though. That will be a plus!

There’s finally another wood bin done up. While we’re technically behind on wood still, it’s nice to be moving in the right direction.

Some say that summer’s their time to relax and breath. Personally, I know I’ll be ready to sleep away those cool winter days when they come back.

Pigs-in-a-Blanket and General Goingons

Before I get around to doing a general update on what’s been happening around our little patch of land, I wanted to share the new family favorite when it comes to hot dogs. In lieu of trying to make our own buns or eating them with bread, which is sacrilegious in the way of hotdogs, if you ask me, we’ve come to making homemade pigs-in-a-blanket.

I can’t recall where or when I came across the recipe, but what we used for the blankets I titled “Super Quick Wheat Buns.”

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 tbs. warm water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar or honey
  • 2 tbs. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Begin by combining the water, yeast, oil, and sweetener, letting that rest for 15 minutes. After adding in the additional ingredients, roll out and cut into triangles. Wrap a triangle around each hotdog, using a little egg wash or water to help seal the dough down. Bake these off at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes on a greased cooking sheet. We’ve also made hamburger buns with this recipe as well. It’s very universal.

In other news, we’re almost there on the gardens. We’ve been slowly fencing them all in, recycling some old cribs and pallets for some of the fencing and using basic chicken wire in other areas. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, but each garden will have it’s own style and look to it.  Our chickens like to follow me wherever I am, and unfortunately this also means into the gardens for weeding. Some plants have already been started, and others transplanted. Onions, chives, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans have all found their way into the soil. Here’s hoping that cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, pole beans, bush peas, pumpkins, and potatoes will be soon after.

There’s a lot to go, still, and we’re hoping to chip away at it this week and have everything done this weekend.  I’m hoping in the new future to get a chance to update the garden page and add some photos of our garden beds as well. Hopefully that will become more of a living record of how things progress through the season.

Joe has been doing a lot of work on the front and back stairs that we’re hoping to post pictures of eventually. The back stairs needed a lot of shoring up, especially since there were no braces underneath. The front stairs, while intact, we really wanted to add a larger top landing to for safety’s sake. We were able to recycle free pallets for the wood in both projects, and once their painted, they will both look great!

Speaking of painting, we’ve been spending the last four weekends working on patching up the paint on our house to appease the powers that be. Joe’s folks have been kind enough to help us out with that. It will be grand when everything’s done and over, though, as it’s really cutting into the time that we’ve been able to spend on the gardens and putting up next year’s wood supply. With the upcoming long weekend, we’re hoping to play catch-up.

Garden Planning – Stage I

While it’s only January, spring is right around the corner in many ways. When you want to try to live off from your land through the majority of the year, the earlier you begin your garden planning, the better. For us, it’s become a thing where we tend to wait until the last minute to decide where things are going to go and what we’re going to plant. This year we really want to get a good jump start on things and hit the road running.

Pumpkin plants from last year (2010).

Last year we planned on growing everything from our own seeds, but that didn’t pan out so well. The pumpkins we started indoors didn’t take and the seeds we planted were hit y an early frost. (That’s what I get for trying to beat the geese.) We had to purchase seeds from the local Agway store so that we could continue onwards. Those that we were able to harvest our own seeds from were the pole beans, bush string beans, and pie pumpkins. This year we’re going to wait a little longer to start seedlings (except for the potted plants) and hopefully keep enough seed for next years crop, barring any issues with planting and harvesting.

Our store of seeds looks like this right now:

  • Boston Pickling cucumber
  • Dwarf gray sugar peas
  • Small sugar pie pumpkin
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Early girl tomatoes
  • Sugar ann snap peas
  • Staight eight cucumber
  • California wonder green peppers
  • Pole-style string beans
  • Bush-style string beans
  • Mixed herbs
  • Mixed lettuce
  • 1 Garlic bulb

It looks like the only seeds that we’ll actually have to get at some point will be those for the corn. That is, if we decide to try growing corn again. Last year we lost the entire crop to the crows when it came time to pick it. If we harvest it a little earlier, we might get lucky.

It’s going to be a long wait until the first full moon in May!