so far, with the addition of the gutter garden and other little spaced growing areas around the house, we’ve managed to plant the following:

salad greens
spinach
mustard
naturtium
scallions
carrots
kale
radish
cabbage
fennel
beef steak tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
roma tomatoes
green peppers
thai peppers
jalapeno peppers
cucumber
snap peas
shelling peas
pole beans
cantelope
strawberries
blueberries
cilantro
basil
chive
dill
mint

 

YAY for home grown food. we shall have a great time harvesting this summer! hope y’all have been able to get your garden’s in and are enjoying the spring!

 “all changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

anatole france

this recipe was SUPER easy!

remember this pile of zucchini from my finds at the farm yesterday?

well they went in a water bath with onions and little salt earlier today…

then into the pan to cook for a few minutes

in no time at all; fit nicely between phone calls, blogging and a couple loads of dishes (i love working from home)

we have PICKLES!!!

today i went to some farms nearby so i could do some canning as our little garden supplied us with fresh eats but not enough to put any away. i stopped and picked green beans for $.60/lb which is a great price. it was so nice to be out on a real farm with long rows of growing food and the great smell of cows in the barn…but then i’m weird that way!

also picked up some small zucchini for this recipe that i wanted to try plus some tomatoes and they even gave me another HUGE zucchini so i have more zucchini to process for bread. on that note, i was talking with someone about making 9 loaves of zucchini bread and she told me that what she does with these large zuccs is to grate them up and then pre-measure the amount you need for your bread recipe and freeze them like that. then all you have to do is thaw a package and drain the extra water and you can have fresh zucchini bread in the middle of the winter. so, i used my little vintage squatty pint jars for just that and now i have ten jars of grated zucchini for my bread making in the middle of winter.

then i was off to get some peaches (YUM) and also grabbed some apples, a few onions, peppers, potatoes and a butternut squash.

then back to the house to start all of this…

and it only cost me $75 (not including the kitty)

but speaking of the kitty…he decided that the stem of the butternut squash seemed like a tasty little bit to chew on, only he didn’t get very far. i’m just glad i had my camera out and kept myself from laughing long enough to take a picture.

anyway, back to serious matters.

i got started around 6:00pm which is a bit late to start a canning rampage…but it’s what i’ve got to give right now between work and the garden and life…

so i decided to go for the applesauce first as the jars were already clean and ready from building the pantry the other day.

i just used the recipe out of my ball canning book but added some ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and of course cinnamon to spice it all up. it turned out lovely and i was able to fill the pantry with 24 half-pint jars of applesauce.

i do have one word of warning. this was my first time making applesauce and of course it’s thick and think things that are boiling bubble and spit and man, did it get me good – boiling hot applesauce sticks to the skin so well and i have a 2nd degree burn on the inside of my forearm from reaching across the pot that proves it…

so just be more careful than i was…

then i started on some green beans and got seven quarts done and put into the pressure cooker by about 10:00pm. well, you know the pressure cooker takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R so to fill my time, i washed up some of the dishes and grated my other zucchini and got those jars i talked about above all put together and in the freezer. finally, i chopped another huge zucchini eric gave me when i took over some zucchini bread into chunks and put it in the freezer for making soups and stocks.

by this point, the beans were done and it was after midnight. i went to find my husband in his office and we chatted for a bit and then i stumbled to bed sometime after 1am.

this morning, i labeled and put away everything and started on the pickles after attending to some other work and chores. i’m finding that my little kitchen is working just fine for the canning although it’s not as convenient as a larger kitchen where you can spread out and put the dishes in a dishwasher after canning…but oh well. i don’t can every day huh?

 

so this came as a gift…my eyes went wide!

it measured 15 inches tall and 5 inches across. i’m sure if you are in the pacific northwest, you have one of these too.

this is just how i chose to use it up…

i know, i know…so boring…nine loaves of boring.

but boring never tasted so good!

here’s the recipe i used (modified from an allrecipes.com version):

3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
3 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t nutmeg
3 eggs
1 c veg. oil
2 1/4 c sugar
3 t vanilla
2 c grated zucchini
1 c chopped pecans

mix flour, baking powder, salt, soda and spices in a small bowl. cream eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. add dry ingredients and stir together. then stir in zucchini and nuts. pour in prepared loaf pan(s) and bake at 325*F for about an hour (mine took about 70-75 mins) or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. cool. slice. eat. enjoy!

my husband’s mom came over yesterday and i shared with her my plans for my pantry. she is so good about offering input and is full of great ideas. she shared her concern that a track system might not actually be able to hold the weight of all the canned goods i planned to store and she told me about a free standing, industrial grade shelving system that she purchased at costco that can hold 600 lbs per shelf. i started to wonder if she was right and as i’ve said before, i hate doing things twice.

so off we went to costco.

sure enough, i found a shelving system that’s made to hold an army of home canning plus just about anything else i think i would want to hold…and i saved $20 from my original plan! it’s a few inches less deep than i had wanted but i think i will end up with the same amount of storage as a more deep system would have blocked the electrical panel and i was going to loose space working around that. plus the free standing system doesn’t worry me with regard to weight and it’s metal instead of wood which i think will also last longer.

so here’s the little space that got the overhaul. it measures 49 3/4 inches wide by 18 inches deep (to the electrical panel door) and will hold stuff all way up the ceiling which is 91 inches high.

here’s the shelving system i put in. oh – and mom’s gonna give me two extra shelves from her set that she’s not using…score! thus the extra long posts that look ready for more shelves…

so then i put what’s left of last year’s canning and the few extra jars i have in the house on the shelves and put up the tension rod and curtain to hide it all. later today i will unpack the, um – ten plus boxes of canning jars that are still in boxes from our move. i just didn’t have anywhere to put them in my little 1940’s kitchen…but now – i have a lovely pantry to fill with empty jars – all ready for more canning. speaking of which – the tomatoes and grapes are ripening up perfectly. i just hope we can keep from eating all the tomatoes so i have something to can – but they are SO good, it’s hard to stop! since the shelf is only a finger’s width from each of the side walls, it’s perfect to tuck the curtain when i’m canning or doing a pantry overhaul. as you can see, there’s loads of space on this puppy!

and just after 10pm last night, it was all done and the curtain drawn. my husband always teases me saying…

just when we’re ready to go to bed and he leans in and says “honey, you ready for bed?” i respond “yep, but first i need to build a shelf.”

and tonight…that’s just what happened (thank you dear for helping me move the file cabinets and get the shelf in place).

…and now i’m off to bed…really this time.

i feel fortunate that even while i lived in a house twice the size of our new farmhouse, over the last couple of years i was on a journey to decrease our stuff. we had a garage sale last year that i prepped months for by going through every full closet, drawer and cubby and pulling out the excess. it was overwhelming to see how much extra stuff we were storing away in the hidden recesses of our home.

now we live in a two bedroom, 864 square foot home and i love it.

i read an interesting post from a blog i follow which discussed the balance one tries to reach when aiming to live small but also aiming for self sufficiency. the two often contradict each other but i still believe, as the writer does, that it’s possible. so i’ve been thinking about how to better use my storage spaces in our little farmhouse in order to give a home to the items that afford us sustainability without loosing the battle of clutter and hoarding senselessly.

one area that’s greatly underused is a little nook outside of my bathroom. well, i’ve made plans for this little nook. it shall be my pantry. i decided i wanted flexibility of the space and so opted for a track shelving system only to go to home depot and find that they are out of their minds when they want $10 for each shelf brace making that $20 per shelf (not even including the shelf itself). i thought i remembered seeing track systems at ikea so i took a quick ride over to find out that yes they do have track systems for almost half the cost of the home depot system. score! the only problem? they are out of the shelf brackets. gah!!! so all i walked out with is the rail system and a tension rod for the curtain (which i already have) to go over the front to keep it visually tidy. so, this project will have to wait a bit, but after doing the math, i figure i can store over 550 quart jars on that thing…and that’s inspiring me to get organized!

i’ve decided to go ahead with the rabbits.

so…

in about two weeks, i will have received the all wire cages i bought, set them up in their little enclosure (that i still need to build) and brought the rabbits home.

they are florida whites. two does and a buck and are about 8 months old.

by the time i get them and let them get settled they’ll be read to, ahem…well you know.

i’m excited and yet didn’t plan on rabbits being the first element of my dream to be added after the veggies…but i gotta take what i can get and i’ve been looking for months for florida whites only to stumble upon a 4-h student that wanted to get rid of some extras she never sold from earlier this year.

photos, of course are coming soon.

been drawing today.

i’m a bit of a planner and i don’t like doing things more than once. i also know that come spring of next year i’m going to be off and running wildly and i wanted to get a plan sketched out so that i can mull over it this winter and be ready to go come spring. the only thing that will start pretty immediately is the digging up of sod to make all the raised, keyhole beds (a permaculture technique that increases linear feet of your garden…think i’ve drawn in too many paths, but i’ll figure it out as i go).

so here’s the long term dream…with still some areas left to fill in still in the “back 40”.

isn’t it dreamy?

 

elements include –

  1. extensive veggie garden with 3 zones for crop rotation
  2. 5+ espaliered fruit trees (funny looking things between the posts)
  3. more dwarf fruit trees as i get them (especially peach)
  4. berries, berries, berries
  5. kiwi arbor at entry to the “back 40”
  6. rabbits for meat
  7. chickens for eggs and meat
  8. goats for milk and milk products
  9. barn for farm work
  10. hoop house/greenhouse for veggie starts since there isn’t room in the house
  11. bees for honey and to help all the plants grow better
  12. permanent placement of our vintage trailer which we plan to use as a guest house
  13. flowers for beauty and to remind me of my grandmother’s yellow farm house
  14. lavender fields for making beauty products and to help the farm smell a little better
  15. rain water collection system on both sides of the house
  16. 3-section compost bin
  17. fire pit for our time with family and friends (and making lots of s’mores)
…a farm girl can dream can’t she? smile.

it’s been too hot for me to do much out in the garden but the heat has been good for the veggies and everything is thriving.

the last couple of mornings, we’ve had breakfast straight from the garden and it’s so amazing. the flavor is unlike anything i’ve ever had from a store or farmer’s market. makes me a believer in the saying “if you haven’t grown it then you really haven’t tasted it” from a new book i’ve been reading, grow the good life by michele owens. we just pick it, wash it and chop it up and then we find ourselves intertwined in lively conversation and crunching away at our home-grown nutrition. it’s amazing to me how full you can get on so little when it’s straight out of the garden.

on another note, i’ve just found some florida white rabbits for sale which is the breed i wanted to raise for meat and i’m trying to decide whether to scramble together a hutch and start my rabbitry. just today i received a pamplet i ordered on how to build rabbit hutches. so, i’ll give that a looksy make my decision.

here’s a quick photo of our breakfast for two…