Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January Gardening

I haven't showed you my ET tree yet.  Can you see the pointing finger? I just love this thing!  As you can see, it's part of my clothesline.   Mars cut the top part of the tree off for a couple of fence posts and left me with a natural clothesline! Nothing like a re-purposed tree with some character.

We've been taking full advantage of the nice weather here in Oklahoma the past few days.  Who ever said that winter is a slow time of the year sure hasn't been around here this week! 
We just about have the main garden ready to till in the fertilizer and let it sit and "work" until next month.  There's one more 100 ft row that needs to raked out but its just about ready for the next step. 

   I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but our neighbors have several horses.  And where there are horses there is horse poop!  Lots and lots of horse poop. We've been told to "help ourselves" to however much we want which is great.  There's a bunch of it that's over a year old and that's the pile we will be loading up from.  You just can't beat "free" manure. It's probably going to take several loads.   

    I know that we'll have to deal with the weeds that will come from it but it's just going to have to be that way.  We still haven't worked out the mulch situation, but we'll figure something out.  As this is the first year we have planted here I'm not sure what the outcome will be but hey, you have to start somewhere!  With a garden this large though we should get  something out of it!  In a couple of years we should have some really nice dirt.  I'm just happy that we have good stuff to start with. 

 The neighbor's chickens are laying again.  They gave us these . 

Sweet huh?? 
 You can sure tell which ones are the store bought ones. 
   Our own little chicken saga is continuing as well.  Mars is working on a smallish enclosed outdoor run for them and the posts are set.  We just need to pick up a few treated 2x4's to secure the chicken wire to.  That's  going to have to wait till the next check though as it's just not in our budget this month.  We've got the wire and he's cut down the old telephone pole for the posts.  We have the material here for the nesting boxes and have figured out what we'll use for the roosts too.  So all we'll be "out" of  pocket for are the 2x4's.  It seems that this project has taken a lot longer than I ever thought it would.  All in good time though I suppose. 

   On another note, we met another neighbor who lives a couple miles up the road.  He stopped by this weekend while he was out on his 4-wheeler and introduced himself.  They have a deer processing business!  He let us know that sometimes folks don't come pick up their deer for one reason or another and that we could get a good deal on some venison or hog occasionally.  WOOT!!  Right now he's got 70 lbs of venison he's asking $50 for.  Sure do wish I had the money to move on THAT deal!  Anyway....

   I should have known that I was worrying for nothing about having no place to start our indoor seeds.  Mar's made us a shelf out of some scrap metal and old wood he had laying around. He mounted it on the one big window we have that gets good light most of the day. Sorry about the picture quality but its cloudy and rainy out today.

    It's not very big but using the egg carton's we should be able to at least get some tomato and pepper plants started.  A good friend of mine sent us several varieties of heirloom tomato seeds last year and I've got 5 varieties started so far. (Thanks Kronic!) Using the egg cartons we should have room for 120 plants in the window.  Well, until they get bigger anyway!  I guess we'll worry about that when we get there....  first we have to get them sprouted!
                               ~~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~~

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cop or Soldier

Don't laugh.... This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. If you want to see how you do HERE is the link.

Cop or Soldier? » online quiz

If you decide to take the quiz leave me a comment and let me know how YOU did. It's kind of scary to think how much the lines have started to blur.  Don't worry if you score low, I've got a feeling many will.

Thanks to WireCutter for the link.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peruvian Coffee and Other Stuff

A while back a friend sent us some Peruvian Coffee Beans to try.  I hate to admit it but we have only just now gotten around to roasting some and trying it.  I followed the directions he'd given me a few months ago. Turned on the fan above the stove and put some of the beans in the skillet and got them good and hot. They kind of "crack" when they are roasting and do put off some smoke.  Then I ground the beans and put on a pot of some of the best coffee I've had the privilege to drink!  OH SO GOOD!  I can't believe I hadn't tried it until now.  I could get really spoiled with this stuff.  Of course I can't afford it but dang.... Yummy!  

I had to venture out and off the property this week.  Twice even!  It seems these days I really don't like even going to town, much less Little Big Town.  It has to be done though.  I took my grocery list and bit the bullet.  Mars chickened out and wouldn't go with me.  Said he had work to do on the garden... yeah...  I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with the fact that I go to no less than four grocery stores.  Garden indeed!  lol  Is it my fault that things are on sale or cheaper at one store over another?  I have to admit I was in shock at the way prices are going up.  Even from last month to this one there were increases.  Meat, especially beef, is becoming darn near a luxury these days.  Shopping the sales is the only way to be able to afford it lately.

And speaking of meat, I'm beginning to worry about the rabbits.  We still haven't had any luck with them.  They are all around  9-10 months now and still no babies.  I've even re- checked them all to make sure I really do have does and bucks.  I was talking with MMPaints about it and have decided that maybe they are getting fat.  Does don't breed well if they are fat.  So I've cut back on rations the past few days and will see if that helps.  Something's got to give soon though.  I'm not really fond of feeding rabbits that aren't going to be productive to our little homestead.  

Another thing I'm not especially fond of is going to a new doctor.  It always feels like I'm starting all over again. And the one thing I don't want to have to do is start over.  But this time around it just couldn't be helped.  It is no longer feasible to have to make a 100 mile round trip every month, especially with the way I detest going to "The Big City" anyway.  Which is kind of funny really because you could probably put 3 towns of the same size inside the Austin area!  So anyway, now I've met my new Doctor and am in the process of getting all my records to him.  From the first visit I would have to say I think I'm going to like him.  I've been going to a clinic for the past year or so and its a real rushed situation.  The doctors don't have time to spend with you or even to listen to you.  This man is different and I already appreciate the difference.  We'll see how it goes.  

Wow! I just re-read what I have written here and it struck me.... Boy do I NOT lead an exciting life!  I'll admit it though, I kind of like the slower pace these days.  That will change come spring but for now...   I'll take it!

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


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tastey Tuesday

 Now I know what you are probably thinking.  That's one ugly cake.  Sometimes though, you can find the most amazing things underneath the surface, if only you can look past the outer appearance. This holds true in all of life's experience.  This sure holds true with this cake.  Pudding cakes were really popular back in the 80's.  I'm not sure what happened but they kind of just faded out of the "foodie" crowd.  It's a shame too because man oh man this is one good slice of chocolate heaven.  

Chocolate Fudge Pudding Cake

   1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2/3 cup white sugar
   5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
   1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup milk
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 1/2 cups boiling water
    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x9 pan.
    Whisk the flour, baking powder, white sugar, 5 tablespoons cocoa powder, and the salt together in a large bowl. Mix in the milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Stir in nuts if you want and pour the batter into your prepared baking dish.
    Mix brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa powder together; and sprinkle over the batter in your baking dish. Pour the boiling water slowly over the top of the batter and topping.
    Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. The top of the cake will be set and the bottom will be soft. Spoon into individual serving bowls.  To send this one over the edge top it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9x13 pan.  I'm sure glad I did too because even with just the two of us here it was gone in under 3 days!  
I was a bit nervous when I first made this.  The final step of pouring the water over the top of the mix made it look like a soupy mess and I kept thinking.... I'm not really sure I did this right.  Don't worry though.  It all comes out great after it's time in the oven.  A nice brownie-type layer  on top hides a rich gooey sauce with the consistency of a kind of pudding underneath it.

Now this cake isn't served the ordinary way.  You can't just slice it and serve it up.  You have to scoop it out of the pan and flip it over on its "back" so to speak. (kind of like a cobbler)  It's great like it is, but to really make this one a standout hit, serve it hot with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or a good dollop of whipped cream. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Ramblings

I had this big ol' post all written this morning and thought I had saved it.  Yeah, that didn't work!  So here we go again.  The weather here has been all over the place this past week.  We had snow, temps down to 18 and up to 70. Sunshine and clouds, and even winds that blew gusts over 40mph.  So we did what anyone would do.... Roll with it! 
Mars has been working on the fence off and on and it's really looking good. 
He and the neighbor have decided to rebuild our adjoining fence line as his wire needs to be re-stretched and some reinforcements done on it.

I'll take pictures as that gets done.  They have decided to put in a gate between our properties as well.  It will make it so much easier for everyone if we don't have to walk down the hill and around to his property.  I'm just glad we have some good neighbors as they are the only ones within a quarter mile or so and are pretty much in our back yard!  

Mars needs some more fence posts and so we spent a couple of days clearing brush and he cut down two of the dead cedar trees.  They make awesome corner posts!  It's also nice to have the area clear of (well almost) all that brush. 

  We burned a huge pile of brush and branches one day when the wind had stopped blowing.   
It's amazing how much more area it opened up. It looks totally different now. 

OH!!  I never told you about our amazing Christmas present from my Mom and Step-dad.  Mainly because we weren't sure what the plan was.  Check this out! Pretty cool, yes?

They didn't know that we had bought a niceTroy-Bilt  tiller last year. No worries though.  We now have a plan!  We are keeping this Bad Boy and will sell the Troy-Bilt in a couple of months. Spring is always a good time to put one out there on Craigslist.  We are going to use the $$ from the sale to purchase the parts and materials necessary for installing a drip line irrigation system for the gardens.  So in a way Mom got us a new tiller AND an irrigation system.  Pretty cool.

 This is what we have been up to this weekend.  Trying to water a garden area as large as this one by hand would take all day every day to do. 

The picture at the top of this post is the same area. I'm SO excited.  
And of course there is the other garden area up the hill.
We will be tilling this up too. I don't know if you can see it here but there are three large rows that were done last spring.  The bit of green still there are turnips. 

 So how was your weekend?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

I've been taking pictures of the road in front of the house since last summer.  Here is the one from yesterday.  See that white stuff??  Woo Hooo!!!!  I'm still enjoying the change of seasons here.  Sure is different than it was in Texas! 

Did you know that there are 3 Friday the 13th's this year?  And that they are 13 weeks apart?  Pretty interesting!

Here's a picture from yesterday.

And here is what it looks like today! 
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday.  We are working out on the property clearing and burning some brush and "stuff".

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tattler Canning Lids

Just a quick note today to let you all know about a super great deal on Tattler Canning Lids that's going on today only.  I just love my Tattler lids and wish I could "move" on this great deal... but times are tough and money's tight. If you CAN afford to do it this is a super deal.  40% off 100 regular and 100 widemouth Tattler lids for $85.75 and FREE shipping!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cutting Corners

 I've been trying forever to find new ways to make our very small fixed income stretch just a little bit farther. I've read every single article I've come across over the years that have anything at all to do with cutting debt and saving pennies.  Before we moved from Texas many of these things had already put into place.  We've never had credit cards and so have none of those debts that plague many folks.  We sold all the vehicles and now have the old faithful Dodge diesel.  Mars bought it before we moved from a friend of his and got a great deal on it.  With good driving records we have a very small insurance payment.  I shop around a couple of times a year to make sure we have the best rates available and only carry the minimum required by law. 

  We don't go out to eat anymore and cook most everything from scratch.  I make our bread and bake our desserts as  well.  I grocery shop with a list and try to hit the sales for the best deals.  I used coupons until the printer croaked and since we don't buy the Sunday paper anymore we don't get those either.  I buy in bulk as much as I can.  I know folks talk about all the good deals they find at places like Sam's and Costco, but I can't justify the annual expense of being a member.  It just wouldn't save us as much as it cost for the membership.
Hopefully the garden will produce well this spring and summer and we will be able to cut back there as well since I plan on canning or dehydrating as much food as possible.

  We have a landline phone because after doing all the research it was the cheapest way to go.  Neither of us use the dang thing much anyway!  If we could get away with it I think I would just disconnect it but with family in other states I just can't do that. 

  We don't have a TV and so don't have that to pay for although we DO still have our Netflix DVD account. Our internet is our "connection" to the world.  Out here there are only a couple of choices for internet and so satellite is what we went with as it is the least expensive here.  Unfortunately we have to watch the bandwidth we use.  Let me tell you that THAT was the hardest thing to get used to.  Until we moved out here I had never been limited to the amount of time spent or things downloaded on the net. 
  We no longer have a water bill as we are on well water now.  Our stove runs on propane and averages out to about $6.00 a month.  We go to town 2-3 times a month and so save on diesel that way. 
 We've pretty much done most everything we can to trim things back. Other than the land payment the biggest bill we run into has been the electric.  We've been keeping the thermostat down to around 60 degrees  this winter.  Which is actually pretty comfortable.  I LIKE wearing my winter clothes and don't mind layering them at all.  But even with that our electric bill was HIGH.

 I don't remember if I've ever said anything about the situation with our electric company.  When we moved out here they hooked us up at what they call RV rates which are more than double the rate for regular homes.  I was told at the time that once we got the trailer "permanently" on the land they would send someone out.  He would then decide if we would be able to have our rates lowered.  Well, once we got the trailer skirted in I called the electric company to let them know what we had done so they could send the guy out to check it.  Imagine my surprise when I was told that "An RV is an RV no matter what you do to it".  At first all I could think of to say was... "BUT...BUT...." YOU SAID...."
Anyway, I almost went into meltdown mode.  You would be so proud of me though!!  I calmly asked for a Supervisor and waited patiently for the callback.  When she finally called that afternoon we had a very long conversation in which I explained to her what we had been told when the electricity was going in.  She assured me that "An RV is an RV no matter what you do to it".  I wanted to reach through the phone and let the choking begin!!!  I explained all the things Mars has done out here to become "permanent" including wiring up the barn and the well.  All the sudden she said "The barn?  You have electricity in the barn?"  Well of course we do, its dark in there....  lol  Anyway, long story finally coming to an end now (I bet you're thinking "whew, bout time")  They came out, looked at the wiring from the pole to the barn and POOF just like that our rates were cut to less than half of what they had been. Which means that $250.00 bill for last month is now running at right around $120.00.  Quite the savings!  Once spring gets here we will have that cut down to probably around $25.00. That danged heater is expensive to run....

I'll keep looking for ways to cut more corners but I think they've already been cut so much they are now round !!

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

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Ramblings

Some of y'all may remember there used to be an old house on this land. It burned down several years ago and a bunch of it had been hauled away before we ever got here.  But there was still a good chunk of trash, old metal siding and the cinder block footings from the house.  And of course all the old stuff that used to be in the barn. Years and years of rusty old junk.  Large and small piles of crap stuff scattered all around the place. 

We have been taking serious advantage of the beautiful weather we have been having. We've been burning trash and cleaning up things. We loaded up the truck with scrap metal and made a couple of trips over to Recycling center this week. Now you want to talk about a double bonus!!  First off we get rid of all that crap stuff laying all over the place AND they actually PAID us for it!!  It doesn't get much better than that.  LOL  I think we may have another two loads or so to take them but it's amazing how much better the place looks now.

When we first moved out here I had hoped that we could use all those cinder blocks that were once the footings on the old house. Unfortunately, the fire that destroyed the house also destroyed the "integrity" of the cinder blocks.  Most just crumble or break when they are moved. Never one to be deterred, Mars decided that he could still put them to some good use around here. He's been breaking some of them up into small chunks and using them for "fill" in some of the low spots around here.  Living on the side of a hill, things sometimes tend to wash down the hill when it rains. Not a lot but enough to make some low areas.  He's filled in a good sized hole in driveway. And some was used on the back side of the barn where the rains had washed a small "gully" the back length of it.  He's also crushing some and making walkways to the trailer.  It's all a work in progress but I can see it shaping up.  One of those things that gets attention while hes plotting the next project.

This week he's also been working on the fencing we are putting up for the goat run.  I'm not exactly sure what you would call it....  so I'm calling it a goat run!  Using dead cedar trees from the property he's making corner posts. (H-Posts I think you call them) It won't be much longer now and the fencing itself will be going up.  It will be a 100 x 175 foot fenced in area when its all done. So that's progressing right along too.  I don't have a lot to do with all of that other than to be the "gofer" and the "holder" of things.  Like the tape measure, tools, etc. 

I've also been trying to get our food storage inventoried and rearranged. I've been making use of the underbelly storage on the RV for quite some time now.  The thing about that is that its really deep and doesn't have much height to it. It makes it hard to get to things that are stored towards the back.  So I've been trying to get things lined out so it's easier to see and to use what we have.

So that's pretty much what we have been up to all week. It might not be very exciting but it's forward progress, which is the right direction to be moving in. 

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

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I've been pouring over seed catalogs the past couple of weeks. One of the things we will be ordering this year is Amaranth. What an interesting plant.
 I've become fascinated with it and have read many articles about it. I am surprised more people don't grow it. "
The attraction of the crop to both earlier civilizations and modern consumers is the highly nutritious, golden seed. Amaranth seeds are unusually high in protein for a non-legume, running around 14 to 16% protein. Even better, the protein is well balanced in amino acids, and is high in lysine, an amino acid most grains are deficient in (legumes also have high lysine)."  It's grown around the world.  From Africa, India, China, Russia, South America and Mexico people use it for grain, greens, and ground for flour.  The grain is similar to Quoina and can be used like rice or popped as a treat.  The leaves are edible and similar to spinach.  I'm hoping the rabbits will like it too but I'm pretty sure they will.
Amaranth is also drought tolerant and is supposed to grow well in many climates. It's actually in the pigweed family.  Oh, and did I mention it is a beautiful plant ??  It has huge colorful seed heads.  Shoot.... All that and pretty too???  I mean.... I've just GOT to try this!  We have a perfect spot picked out to grow it too.  It grows pretty tall and will make a nice "hedge" along the front of part of the property.
So with some of the generous Christmas donation from a wonderful reader (THANK YOU!!! You know who you are!!) one of the types of seed I'll be ordering is some Amaranth and giving it a shot this year. 

As if that wasn't awesome enough, I got a big surprise in the mail yesterday.  My Mom sent me an early birthday present. My birthday isn't till the 14th but she's good like that.  LOL  We were on the phone talking about the neighbors wanting us to take some of their chickens off their hands. Their rooster population is growing more than they want to deal with and they aren't "into" killing chickens. So if we will "help them out" they are going to give us some laying hens too.  What a deal, right?   I mentioned to my Mom that I wanted to get a big pot to dunk them in.  Anyway..... (and yes, my conversations wander the same as my writing :P)  Obviously she was listening closer than I thought.  I was So surprised when I opened the box and saw this beautiful 16 quart stainless steel pot.  I just love it!!  It's going to get a workout for sure.  It's even tall enough I can use it as a water bath canner for my quart jars. And boy oh boy I could sure make up a big ol' batch of soup or chili or beans or .....   Anyway, Thank you Mom and Sandy. It's an awesome present and will get much use. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

 Banana Bread

I'm pretty sure I've finally got one of the best Banana Bread recipes ever! I just love how dense and moist it is and it's not lacking in banana taste like some are. This recipe will make two loaves of bread. Which is a good thing because we devoured the first one in record time!
Banana Bread


    5 very ripe bananas
    4 eggs
    1 Cup Butter/ 2 sticks (you can substitute shortening if you need too)

   1 cup white sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon cinnamon

    1 teaspoon nutmeg


    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease 2 - 9x5 inch loaf pans. In a medium bowl, mash bananas and stir in the eggs until well blended. Set aside.
    In large bowl, beat shortening and gradually add sugar. Stir in vanilla and banana mixture. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; blend into batter. Add walnuts if desired. Divide between the prepared pans.
    Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Grab a cup of coffee and have a slice (or two)!

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