Friday, October 31, 2008

Lily of the Valley Fairy

Fairy maybe but that kid still has a face only her momma could love.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Power of Information

I believe in disclosure. I believe that people have the right to make choices based on the information they receive. I believe that people should be given all the information. Recently a law was passed requiring supermarkets to disclose the country of origin on all their produce. Two weeks ago, I passed up the garlic noting that it had been grown in China. I did not need trust Chinese garlic, particularly since some of it was going to be eaten raw in hummus. So I did not buy the Chinese garlic. Yesterday I noticed the garlic had a new sign next to the price. Product of the USA. Granted that's just a small change, however it proves that consumer pressure can cause even large supermarkets to yield.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fooling With Felt

I have found a new hobby obsession -- needle felting. Now my first attempts were laughed at by my family and called zombie, mummie and soft sculptures of Van Gogh's The Scream. I had never held a felting needle before but after they all went home I vastly improved my technique. So first here are the gnomes:

And then, coming soon for Christmas are the Wise Old Woods Queen and her husband the Woods King with unicorn. I will also be making a prince and princess and of course the little sister princess.

Now I am glad to have some things to populate the wood castle that I found at a yard sale for $15. The exact same one is here for much more. I just love being able to give my kids things I never would have been able to buy for a gift!
Now, those of you who read my blog know I like to recycle and that I never, ever pay full price for stuff, and this too affects my needle felting. Most people use expensive wool roving. However, I use recycled wool. Some of it I have found in thrift shops as balls of wool and some I have found in thrift shops as wool sweaters, ugly and ready to be un-knitted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yoghurt and Cheese and Bread...OH MY!

With rising grocery costs we've been getting creative with food. A friend of mine was kind enough to give me some of her yoghurt start (thanks Kim!!!). She got it from a friend in California (we're in NJ) and her friend in CA's family took it with them when they escaped Lebanon in the 80s.

So first step make 1 gallon milk into yoghurt. This is easy (again thanks to Kim!!!). Bring one gallon of milk just to a boil. Do this carefully as it will boil quickly and wildly foam out of control all over the stove and take hours to clean, but I digress. Once to a boil, remove from heat. Stir in a package of non fat dry milk. This is optional. It makes it creamier. Then let it sit until it is cool enough to put your pinky finger in for 10 seconds. Stir in 3 T start (or you can use plain commercial yoghurt). Pour into two quart size jars, and pour the remainder into a glass pitcher. Put someplace warm for 6 hours.

Sweeten the two quart size jars with vanilla extract and honey. Add some sea salt to the pitcher. Line a collander with cheese cloth (doubled) or unbleached muslin (single layer). Put the collander within a bowl to catch the whey. Pour pitcher into lined collander. Top collander with a plate and put the whole shebang, bowl, collander and plate into the fridge for about 12 hours. The liquid that collects in the bottom is whey. Pour off the whey into a jars and seal tightly. You will need this for your bread.

I have discovered how to make 100 % whole wheat bread in my breadmaker that myhusband will eat (he likes the texture of store bought bread). It is light andfluffy and yummy. The secret is whey. Here's the how to:

Put the following in breadmaker and use whole wheat setting, light crust is best:

3/4 cup whey
1/4 cup + 2T water (hot water if your whey is cold from the fridge, otherwiseroom temp)
2T canola oil
2T molasses or honey
2T vital wheat gluten
3 c whole wheat flour
1t sea salt
2t yeast

So for the cost of 1 gallon milk, I have 2 quarts yoghurt, a crock full of cream cheese, and the ability to make whole grain bread that is not dense.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Come On and Take a Free Ride!

Anyone who has read my blog knows I love free stuff. Even more than getting something free, which is always a thrill, I love GIVING something away for free. (Just ask my local freecycle moderators!) Well, if you are in the Hunterdon County NJ area on November 1, 2008, come on and take a free ride on South Branch Community Chapel. Our good friends at The Inflation Station have donated their wild inflatables for us to give free rides to the community. Its totally free, we're all volunteers, and don't worry about it being a church thing -- nobody is going to preach at you. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pax Exitus

That's my version of the Latin *Peace Out*. Today I experienced this literally. My husband is on his way back from bringing Pax, my golden retriever, best friend for thirteen years, my loyal companion who lay at my feet all those times I was unfit for human companionship, to go to the place where all good dogs go. I am unconsolable. I cannot believe this dog, less than a week a go, walked two miles with me. He outlived all his littermates, and for a golden, lived a nice long life. But I miss him terribly. My husband is back now, $262 and one dog less. He said he perked up when they got there, jumped out of the truck and wagged his tail and wanted to play.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Energetic Ideas…

One reader asked me with what ideas I came away from the Energy Festival. That can be summed up in one word: community. I felt an overwhelming urgency to work together with my community to obtain alternative energy, to produce our own food, to support each other, to help each other, to grow together. Now honestly, I have a few neighbors with whom I could see this working, a few with whom we are already living like this, a few that could care less, and a few that would likely reject such ideas outright. In reaction to this, I have been more active in seeking out opportunities to help out my neighbors, to get to know them, to talk to them less and listen to them more. An amazing thing has happened in my trying to be a blessing to them – they are going out of their way to be kind to me! One has dropped off firewood, another a few bags of clothing she came across for my girls, another bringing some garden scraps for our momma bunny. Hmmm….could this be catching on?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall Fiber Festival

I thought of my two friends, Jilly and Rachel at today's fall fiber festival.

The girls had fun. I learned how to knit. Well sort of. I hope I can remember it. Now I just need to figure out how to start something. Well maybe. I resisted the urge to buy wool as I know my mom is buying me some and some felting needles for my birthday. However, I did get myself some heavy duty hand lotion.

There was a petting zoo though the turkey was quite grumpy. Guess someone's a little too keeping track of the calendar these days...

The girls got to try their hand at what Salamander calls "balding the sheep".

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another Good Day at the Curb Shop...

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Those boots are merrells and the birds are happy to see another feeder go up since they are nearly done with our sunflower heads.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bonus Bunnies

Yesterday morning my daughter came in from feeding the bunnies screaming and jumping. Why all the fuss? It seems that the bunny we got Tabitha as an early birthday present came with bonus bunnies.