Friday, April 29, 2011

Forward Progress

Things are moving along around here.  The initial list of things to do is getting shorter. After over two days of digging and searching we now know where the septic tank is! Major accomplishment as now we can FLUSH!!!  You never know how  much you miss something until you don't have it. That goes for most things but especially this.  
The well is working and the water has cleared from muddy to a light rust color. We will get it sorted out eventually. At least we have water for everything except drinking and cooking.  I've just been taking the 5 gallon water jug to town as needed and this will work for now. 

We got the water hooked up to the RV and wouldn't you know it... The hot water heater is leaking big time.  I already knew it was bad when we bought this RV and so we had bought a replacement for it at the time.  It just hasn't been installed.  That will be the next thing on the list.  After that the RV is good to go and we can concentrate on other things. (like starting work on the barn)  

We had to make a trip to The Big City yesterday for sewer line, some more water line and a few other things. We also stopped and picked up two 55 gallon barrels from Craigslist for $10 each.  I'll use one for a burn barrel and the other to store feed in. Of course as things usually go, I looked at Craigslist this morning and saw some right here in the neighborhood for $7 each.  Oh well...

While we were at Lowe's I spotted a clearance rack with a 75% off sign on it.  Now if you have been hanging out here for any time at all you know I can't pass up a clearance rack without poking around.  It's just not possible.... Anyway, there on the bottom shelf were blueberry and raspberry bushes.
Well they weren't actually bushes, more like sticks with roots but you know what I mean.  I picked up 5 blueberry and 3 raspberry plants for $0.63 each!!  I don't know if they will grow but I can guarantee you I am going to find out. We had planned on putting in some blueberries eventually but how can you say no to a price like that??   Now I just need to figure out where to plant them.  I just love little "surprises" like that!  
    ~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dehydrating Strawberries

As I was saying last time, It is strawberry season!  The only thing I don't like is that the season is sooo short!  I just love strawberries!  They are one of my favorite fruits and my very favorite berry.  Shocking isn't it?  I really like other berries and hope to be growing some blueberries and blackberries soon.  But you can bet I am going to have to put in a strawberry bed too!  

I'm not lucky enough (yet) to be growing my own strawberries.  Lots of folks are in the same situation.  Even if you don't grow the dang things you sure can make good use of them.  Don't let folks tell you otherwise.  Watch for sales at your local grocery store or visit your farmer's market.  My plans are to pick up as many as I can afford.  I'll eat as many fresh as I possibly can , dry some to put on my cereals or whatever and make jelly with the rest. Lot's of folks freeze them but I try not to use my freezer for them.  Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just don't do it.

One of the ways I like to preserve them is to dehydrate them. It's super easy to do and even the prep time isn't all that bad.  Just core your strawberries and slice them evenly. (about  1/4 inch slices)  Place them on your dehydrator trays.  Don't let them touch, you want the air to circulate around them.   

   Kinda like having the kids in the car yelling "She's touching me- make her stop touching me!!" OK ... what was I sayin'?  Oh yeah,  Set your dehydrator at about 135 degrees and dry until they are dry to the touch and still a little pliable.  Let them cool and then store them in a canning jar or a zip-lock bag.  My suggestion for those of you who have a Vacuum Sealer is to vacuum seal them in a canning jar and store them in a cool dark place.

They are great to eat by the handful for a yummy snack.  They are also wonderful in oatmeal or your favorite cereal.  Try them in your baked goods too!  I made a yummy strawberry cake a while back with dried fruit.  Kids love them too so if you want to keep them around you might want to "hide" them somewhere!  LOL

    ~~~~  Hey ...  I'm Just Sayin'  ...  ~~~~

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawberry Jelly

It's strawberry season!  I absolutely love straw berries.  Fresh ripe juicy sweet pieces of awesomeness.  I tend to go "all in" when strawberry season comes around.  Last year I wasn't able to take advantage of the season so this year my intentions are to make up for it.  I made  strawberry jam year before last and am now eating from the last jar. Can't be running out ... that just won't do!   It's definitely time to make some more since it is our favorite jelly around here.  Making jellies and jams is pretty easy.  As with everything that I can  or dehydrate it is always prepping the food that is the hard part.  The actual preservation is the easy part.

One of my favorite ways to eat strawberries, other than plain, is to cut the stem out and slice them into a bowl.  Then I sprinkle a little sugar on them, cover them up and let them sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  They make their own yummy juice while sitting there. They are great just like that but what I really like to do is to make angel food cake, sponge cake or shortbread and top it with the  strawberries.  If you have whipped topping so much the better!  

There are sooo many recipes out there for strawberry jelly.  Most call  for using pectin.  The recipe that I use doesn't call for it.  It still makes great jelly! It's another one I found from I Love that site!  I also love this recipe. I did tweak it just a little though.  It is super easy to make and tastes wonderful!  The original recipe can be found HERE.  This makes about 5  1/2 pint jars.
Strawberry Jam
    2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
    2 1/2 cups white sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    In a big bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of  berries. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).  You are going to have to watch the pot, as it will want to boil over.  Skim off the foam and ladle into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space, wipe the rim of the jar and seal. It may seem a little "thin" but will thicken as it cools. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

    To test for jelling
    Place three plates in a freezer... after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate... if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned!

Grab some toast and give it a try!  There is usually one jar left that isn't quite as full as the others so you might as well enjoy it!  I promise, you won't believe the great flavor this jelly has!
    ~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin" ...  ~~~~

PS Notice the "film" on the jars?  That's from hard water.  I forgot to add a bit of vinegar to the water before canning.  It doesn't hurt anything, it just looks weird!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pump Fishing

     Once more I am amazed at how things have a way of working out.  And how the best laid plans sometimes fail to work out.  We had hoped to have the water on by this weekend.  Hey, it was a good plan, it just didn't quite work out that way.  
     We had everything laid out.  The pump is wired and ready to drop down the well. It is going in pretty easily until it hits something and will go no farther.  Hmmm... So back up comes the pump.            Something is down there and it's blocking the well shaft. So Mars ties a rope onto a rock bar and drops it into the well, hoping that maybe he can dislodge whatever it is.  So he's dropping it up and down and wouldn't you know it... He gets the rock bar lodged in there.  So both of us are thinking really bad thoughts.  You know, like OMG what are we going to do NOW?  Not only is there something down there that has to come up before anything else can be done, there is also a 30 pound rock bar stuck down there too!  Things are NOT looking good. 
      After messing with it for awhile he got it to move.  Not much but it did move.  Whatever was down there had to weigh a couple of hundred pounds.  And here he is with a small rope , knowing that if it breaks we are toast.  Neither of us said it out loud but we were both thinking of all the money some well service would ask to do the job.  Money we don't have. 
     I'll try and make a long story short but by now you should know I'm not very good at that.    By the end of the first day we had managed to get several feet back up the well.  And we could see a pipe down there.  So we figured we were dealing with a pump who's pipe had broken off and landed it all in the bottom of the well.  Mars called it a day and started trying to figure out just how to get the dang thing out of there and to do it more than a foot or so at a time.  I tell you the man is brilliant!            
Yesterday we managed to get about 60 or so feet of pipe and a well pump up and out of the well.  Somehow the rope that was attached to the well pump had created a perfect half hitch knot right above where the rock bar was tied to the rope. 
     I still don't know how that happened but I can tell you that the odds of hooking that dang pump by the rope and getting it up out of there are astronomical.  Once again the Man Upstairs was watching out for us.  There is NO other explanation I can even consider!  I wish I had taken a picture of it but at the time pictures were not on either of our minds.
     We had planned to get up this morning and finish wiring the pump and hooking up the pressure tank.  Then we would have water!  Well we got water this morning alright.  The thing is that it's not coming out of the well, it's coming out of the sky!  It has been storming and raining all day and it's probably not going to stop for a couple more days.  No sense in stressing out though.  Heck I think things are going really well.  We haven't had to call a Well Service yet and hopefully we won't!
      So we are still pretty much "camping out" and that's ok with me.  I picked up some paper plates and paper towels to cut down on washing dishes.  We've been using the BBQ pit for most of our meals the last couple of days.  Things are in total disarray in the RV.  So many things I either can't find or can't get to at the moment will just have to wait. 
     I actually pulled out my bread machine and am making some bread right now.  I bought a loaf the other day for the first time in I can't remember when. Almost $3.00 for a loaf of bread!!  Unbelievable!!  I knew there was a reason I had put the bread machine where I could get to it. I figure it will be a lot better than store bought and I don't have any real mess to clean up either!  
    ~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I realize that it has been almost a week since I have posted anything here. I will apologize and ask your forgiveness. I actually have an excuse this time.  No really, .. I do!  Even so, I apologize.  Time just kind of keeps getting away from me no matter how hard I try to keep up. 
  We moved out to the land this week! Now I know that almost sounds like the move is over... but there is still so much more to do. I'm not even talking about all the plans for the land.  I'm talking the low down dirty actual “moving” part. I have moved more times than I can count in my life. It is one of the least favorite things I can think of to do. I thought that this time the move would be different. You know, what with actually moving onto our own place and all.  But I have to tell ya... Moving Still Sucks!

Bud let us use his 16' trailer and we were able to get about 90% of everything. We still have to unload it here and take it back to him. (Thanks Bud!) I figure we still have about two more pickup loads left to go and everything will be in one place. I hate moving with a passion but this time around I just keep thinking “This is the last move I will ever have to make”!! Pretty good motivation I'm thinking.
We still don't have water hooked up but we went into the Big City today and picked up the last of the materials we will need. We should have water in the next couple of days. Right now it feels like we are camping out. The trailer is full and there isn't much room right now but that will work itself out too. Once the water is in the septic will get hooked up. After that, look out.... I'm going into super cleaning and arranging mode. 
The very first project on the books is getting started on the barn. We HAVE to have some place to store things. We have a plan and the materials for the barn that will give us the storage we need and room for the animals and tools and such. Until we get that done things are pretty much just sitting out in the open, so it is a priority.
There's tons more that has been going on but the details are boring and it all has to do with the smaller hassles of moving. It all has to be done, It doesn't matter if I like it or even if I don't.  

Oh yeah, where's my list?  I need to get to the post office and ... You know how It goes....
~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin'  ... ~~~~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Power's On!

We have ELECTRICITY!  Huge news for us since it seems everything has been put on hold (more or less) until we could get it done. This weekend we will go out to the land and see about getting the water well pumping and wire up a new box for the RV hook--up.  The stove in the RV had quit working.  We had thought it was probably the regulator but after taking it apart it looks like it just might be the seals on the plugs.  That should save a couple of dollars!
I called the tag office about moving the trailer out to the property.  I can't believe it but I am going to have to actually get a tag to move the RV.  Even though it isn't going to be on the road other than the 60 miles out there. At least in Texas they have a temporary tag for just this sort of thing.  Not so here in Oklahoma.  I have to register it, change over the title and tag it here.  I'm still trying to figure out why it costs almost as much to tag the trailer as it did to register and tag the truck!  So if all goes well it looks like I will get the tags on Monday morning and move the trailer out to the land on Monday afternoon.

 One of the things that I have come to realize is the importance of a barn.  It is the "heart" of a place I think.   We have the frame structure of a 23' x33' pole barn on the property.  We ran across a couple of good deals on Craigslist and now have all the tin and the wood we need to enclose the barn the way we want it.  There will be a storage room off to one side for storage of our things that won't fit in the RV.  Things like winter clothes and such that are rotated in and out seasonally.  And of course a place for the tools.  We will also have enough room for the animals in the winter and their feed. It might take awhile to get it all built since it's just us and I'm not a great deal of help!  But we have the materials and the time to get it done.  I'm pretty happy about that.
~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Applesauce Cake

When was the last time you had cake?  I used to love cake when I was younger.  I'm more of a pie lover these days but I DO love a good cake from time to time.  I'm not talking about a cake mix out of the box either.  I like cake made from scratch. I was looking through cake recipes over on I was surprised to find that many of the recipes posted there called for using cake mixes to start with. What in the world is up with that?  Anyway, I found this cake recipe awhile back and never remembered to post it here.  I really like this one!
Applesauce Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nuts and raisins in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream butter or margarine with sugar. Add applesauce; beat well. Stir in flour mixture.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tested done when a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

~~~   Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~

Friday, April 8, 2011

My "Field of Dreams"

Well it finally happened.  We signed the contract on Monday and I am now officially a Land Owner! I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to finally have done it.  It has been a long time coming and a dream has finally been fulfilled.  
      I just realized it has been almost a week since I wrote anything here.  I guess it's a good thing I'm not trying to make a living doing this!!  I would probably have been fired by now...  Then again, if it was work, I'm not sure I'd still do it.  So I would to say thanks  to all of you who come here and read my ramblings.  I know you don't have to, but I'd like you to know that I appreciate it.
    Now, on to all the things that have to  be done.  It's always something right?  The best part is though,  from here on out we can strive for more and more self-reliance and do it on our own terms!
  The first thing we are working on is getting the electricity hooked up.  The new breaker box came in and we've got it ready for them to hook up.  Once that is done and we have power we will hook up the well pump and all the stuff that goes with that.  Mars assures me there will be water soon.
   When we get all that in place we will be able to move the RV out there and commence to "living on the land"!  We could actually be out there by next weekend if all goes well.  I'm really excited.  Can you tell???  I've been floating on air all week!
      It has been almost a year since we came here to stay with my friend Mushroom and her husband.  They have been so good to us.  I have learned tons and tons of things while I've been here. I feel as though I have a new family because that is how they have made me feel.  I'm sure going to miss them both!  The good news though is that even though we are moving about 60 miles from here,  it's still not to far to come and visit often! 
   We may still have a shot at a spring garden this year.  I know we are going to try anyway!  Our last frost date is April 15th. It seems a bit late to me but hey it is Oklahoma.... There are still lots of things that we can plant for the season.  I don't remember if I mentioned it but I took a soil sample to the County Extension Agency and they did a soil test for us.  It looks like we have some decent soil to start with.  It needs a bit of nitrogen and such so we will be planting a large crop of blackeyed peas and some other nitrogen boosting veggies.  Why the blackeyed peas?  Because we LOVE them!!!   LoL
We have a whole bunch of tomato plants that we started from seed.  About 60 of them as a matter of fact. I want to get them in the ground this coming week if at all possible.  We are going to have tomato's coming out of our ears if they all take off (and it looks like they will)  That's ok though.  I want to can some whole tomato's, diced and quartered.  If the hot peppers do well I'd like to make some "Rotel" type tomato's too.  I would like to try my hand at making some tomato sauces.  I'm looking for some good recipes if anyone has any they would like to share.  Just drop them in the comment box or email me.  I'd love to hear from you!
     I've never made ketchup before.  Neither of us are really crazy about it.  But for some reason lately I've been using it more than before.  I might as well try my hand at putting up a batch! I'm pretty sure we are going to have plenty of tomato's for it.  :o)
 Another thing I haven't tried but am going to do this summer is to put up some Italian sauce. A basic sauce to start things off with garlic and onions and Italian seasonings.  Something I can pull out of the cabinet to whip up some spaghetti or lasagne or something like that. 
     I'm also going to be drying tomato's.  What I will do is to dry them in pieces.  That way I can use them in soups and stews and such.  If I want to make some tomato paste all I will have to do is to grind them into powder and then add water until I get the consistency I want. 
      We are hoping to find someone locally to come out and plow up the garden area.  Then we can pull out all the grass and such and Mars will till it up.  Getting the soil right in a garden is really important.  I think I've found a place to get free chicken and cow manure that has been "aged" a bit. That will get us started.   Once we get our chickens and the rabbits we will be able to use our own.  We really need to get all this done pretty quickly though or we will end up having to wait for a fall garden.
Since I have started just giving things over and not stressing over the things that don't go my way, it seems life has become so much easier. 
~~~~    Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...   ~~~~

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wood Stove and Canning Jars

I don't know how to tell you just how amazed I am at the things that you can find on Craigslist.  We have been keeping an eye on it lately looking for things that we need for the new place.  Dare I call the new place The Homestead?  Ya know, I think I will!  I think it qualifies as such for us.  Anyway....
     Mars spotted an ad for a woodburning stove on Craigslist.  Now I know that someone is going to be wondering what in the world we would do with a wood-burning cookstove living in an RV.  But (there is always a but,right?)  It is something that we both have been wanting for quite awhile.   Besides, I have plans, remember?  LOL
     The stove was posted right here in the town we live in.  It was listed as a 6 burner wood cookstove and
was in good working order.  The ad said $300.00 OBO (or best offer) so I gave the lady a call and set up a time to go and look at it.
     She's an older lady and from what all I could gather she is also a prepper.  She just doesn't know it!  We talked for a bit and Mrs  M and I checked out the stove. The lady said she had been using it until a few years ago. The stove is in good shape but needs some serious cleaning done. The top's kind of rusty but NOT rusted out anywhere.  It is missing the "lid lifter" and a door handle. With a bit of elbow grease it will be a fine stove.  We dickered on the price for a little bit and finally came to an agreement.  I am now the proud owner of a$225.00  wood stove!
   Wait!  If you thought that was a good deal... It gets better.... We got to talking about canning.  Turns out she had boxes and boxes of canning jars that she wanted to get rid of.  They all  had had food in them that she tossed out but never got around to washing them.  I asked her how much she wanted for them.   She told me that she would give them to me if I wanted to wash them.  Well, of course I said "Oh, well that wouldn't be a problem".   The whole time we are talking I am trying not to jump up and down and hug and kiss her!  End count on the canning jars.... 20 dozen. 
     I wanted to take a picture of the stove while it was all still in one piece but I didn't have the camera with me.  The dang thing is heavy.  Mars and our neighbor had to take it apart to be able to get it loaded.  I'll post some pictures of it soon and then I'll put some more up when we get it all cleaned up and put back together. 

  Oh, one more thing, The sweet little old lady's last name ... Angel.

~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What America has Become Folks!

This is just crazy.  What has happened to the United States of America? 

~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~

Friday, April 1, 2011

What Are You Waiting For?

In case you haven't been paying attention we are in some serious trouble.  Have you been to the grocery store lately?  Prices have escalated to levels never seen before and all signs lead to even higher prices in the coming months and years. 
     Folks- it is time to re-evaluate our food situation.  If for some reason you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to start stocking up your pantry.  If you haven't thought about long term food storage I seriously think you should start.  I cannot stress how serious this situation is becoming all across the country. 
      Just last month food prices rose 3.9 percent.  That is just one month.  The month before was almost as bad.  According to the Labor Department this is the biggest gain since November of 1974. The increase of the cost of vegetables alone was almost 50%   Bloomberg reported that coffee, sugar and cocoa prices will rise 50-100% by 2014. If those numbers doesn't freak you out I'm really not sure what will.    
     There are over 40 million people in the United States on food stamps.  That is an incredible number and it is rising daily. It is a good representation of just how bad things are getting. People are finding that they cannot afford to eat the way they have in the past.  There are more "meatless" meals being served. There are meals being skipped.  Folks are going hungry.      It is time for us all to take a really good look at what we can do to prepare ourselves for what is coming. It is no longer a matter of "IF" things are going to get worse.  They most certainly ARE going to.  So what can we do?  How about getting up off our butts and getting involved in our own food storage plans. It can be a daunting task if you let it overwhelm you. Just don't let it. Get up, make it a priority. 
     Even  FEMA suggests that you have at three day supply of groceries in case of an emergency.  Personally I think that three days is not nearly enough. Of course it is a start but many emergency situations last much longer.   For instance, we had a snow storm here this past winter.  Nothing was moving.  Even the mail delivery came to a screeching halt.  Three days into it we had another huge snowstorm move through and the trucks couldn't make deliveries to the grocery stores. The local news reported that stores had run out of things like milk and bread.  Because we were prepared this ended up being a "non-issue".  
    A few months ago I wrote an article  (here ) about some of the things that I do to save money when I grocery shop.  There are lots of valuable ideas that can help you while you are doing your shopping.  This doesn't cover everything but it is a good place to start.     There has been a huge resurgence of interest in gardening this year. It looks like some folks are finally waking up. I've heard that there are more people starting a garden this year than there ever has been before.  You can save tons of money by growing your own vegetables.  Not to mention the satisfaction that comes with it. You might be surprised at what all you can grow even if you don't have room for a big garden.  There aren't to many veggies that can't be grown in containers. The cost is minimal.  You need seeds, a place to put the seeds and a little bit of time. 
    Another thing that has been making a come back is home preservation of foods.  Canning and dehydrating foods is easy.  The hardest part is getting up off the couch and just doing it. There is a little cash layout to get started, but you have to remember that once you have the equipment, you will be using it for years and years. It will pay for itself in no time at all. There are even plans online to make your own dehydrator for next to nothing.  Preserving foods like this can save you tons of money and is a super way to get your pantry stocked up for the long run.  Not to mention how much healthier these foods are.  You know exactly waht you are feeding your family.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that if there ever was a need for having a well stocked pantry, that time is NOW.  Make food storage a priority. Think of it as insurance against the  rapidly growing rise in prices and the cost of feeding your family.  I know that alot of you are already doing some or all of these things.  For you guys (I'm talking to myself here as well) I  suggest you pick up your tempo just a bit. What you buy today will only be more expensive tomorrow. 

~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~