Monday, May 30, 2011

A Success...

It worked!

My rotten soybeans sprouted. Just a handful so far but I'm hopeful of my second (intentional) sprouting of cannelini beans and great northern beans, and maybe some more soybeans.

The birthday boys are headed off to a breakfast and movie with their grandparents and the rest of us are spending the cooler morning hours getting some of the plants in our garden. The plan is to have the entire plot planted by next weekend. And after that...

0ur new sandbox

... we are heading to the beach!


The party? Oh, it was a HUGE success also. I will be putting together a post with lots of pictures for you to see this week. Thanks for all the hopeful comments about getting prepared for it. I think I'm still dizzy from such lack of sleep, but boy was it worth it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Year Ago and Now

Wade Richard Klouda

One year. 

"There's nothing like a newborn baby to renew your spirit - and to buttress your resolve to make the world a better place."  - Virginia Kelley

I can hardly believe a year has past. I look back at the pictures of my baby son and I try to remember the days. I have to fight back happy tears. I remember years of loving on each one of Jackie's children and how much they mean to me. Holding several of them just hours after their birth. I remember little Seth holding my finger as we walked into a Target store and him asking me when I would have children that he would play with. I know he meant playmate. Now Seth could be babysitter. On one visit this winter Seth, Cade and Jude (Jackie's gentlemen) had fun doing the math of "how old they would be when Wade turned ___".  I am just focusing on year 1 for today and looking forward to year 2. 

Funny how life works out. Happy Birthday Dear Ones.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome to the Family / Party Progress

Say hello to the newest addition to our farm family...

This adorable little girl was born one week ago today and has been shy with pictures until this morning.

At first her mother and aunts surrounded her...

And then they shoved her out of their protective circle to let us see!

Here is her sister. No longer the cute baby, a gawky teen, but still pretty in her own right. She turns one this weekend. Her birth (the first on this farm in a very very long time) was a huge surprise the afternoon we returned from a visit to Kentucky!

This is the beginning of our own little herd: the mother, the bull, two aunts, her older sister and baby makes six.


Still drowning in party preparations here. Does anyone else go all out and then at the last few days before the party regret undertaking so many new projects for themselves? Yep, that would be me. But go big or go home, right? It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't making everything from scratch. Good thing I have my own little party elves over here painting, sewing and in general making me NOT lose my mind! Thank you dear dear friends...

Just a few peeks at the upcoming festivities... these lovely things make me smile and will be seen at the dessert table.

I can't wait to show you the rest. I may not sleep for the next two days but this party is going to be worth it.

Chores with a Baby

Many times farm chores are things I want to rush through to get to the relaxing part of my day. (Did I just say that?!?!) With a bunch of active kids there never is a dull moment here. While there is no relaxing on a mini farm, sometimes chores can become adventures. Like chickens for example. Throw in a 20 month old, a teeny tiny pair of mud boots and a patient mommy and this is what you get...

Seriously, aren't her boots cute!

Her favorite part of the whole experience is unloading the basket one by one and placing them in the egg carton. Some of the hens lay huge round eggs occasionally and she tries to fit the giant egg into the tiny well and we get some of these...

A small price to pay for eager hands. But all in all she gets excited and grabs the chicken shaped egg basket when she sees me putting on my boots and I just can't resist. The enthusiasm wears off as the child gets older... say 10! (My oldest turned ten this week.) So I don't mind taking her. Eden was the same way with the chickens. Jude grew up in the barn watching me milk a goat twice a day from his walker. I love that my kids are growing up with animals that contribute to our family's food supply.


Today I am shoveling mountains of topsoil and mulch to get the yard looking its best for a double birthday party at this rural blue house this weekend. The girls are coming over to help get together some fun carnival themed games and decorations. There will be lots of happy party pictures to come next week. My to-do party list has a couple dozen unchecked items that desperately need immediate attention. I think today I will tackle the perfect gluten free onion ring and see if I can turn an adult daiquiri mix into kiddie sno-cones?!?! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oops turned Agricultural Experiment

I accidentally left soybeans soak way too long and by the time I found them they were sprouting. This is not what you want for making soy milk. I drained the water off and this is what I saw.

It reminded me a bit of potato eyes growing those creepy white arms and legs. Bummer. Then I remembered an article Lauren sent me about using store bought dried beans to plant and grow instead of seed stock. Lauren and I fill each other's inboxes daily with interesting articles and links to pretty things and this one stuck in my mind (definitely not pretty but on the interesting side). I remember skimming it and then filling it away in my mind as a must try. Little did I know that it would come in handy so soon. Even though it was raining I headed outside to do a trial plot. Please do not allow this one occurrence of immediate action fool you into thinking I'm incredibly ambitious. Nope, I'm only half dedication to growing my own food and half convinced that if I didn't plant right away the stinky beans would end up in the compost and I cannot waste anything. The guilt from throwing out a cup of moldy beans would surely send me into a guilt spiral. Okay, so maybe not that bad... anyway...

I had about a foot in my greens bed between kale and spinach that made a ideal place to try three rows of edamame.

The article said to plant them one inch apart possibly two in a hole, just to make sure something comes up since sprouting and planting is just a good idea not really a guarantee. But since it was raining, I rushed and ran a trowel through the soil and sprinkled a heavy layer of sprouted beans.

Guess you can see that my planting style is a lot like my cooking style, really no measurements and no fear of absolute failure. I also planted some by my peas, not wanting any beans to go to waste in case this experiment actually pans out.

I'm really hoping this style of planting works. It is so much cheaper to buy dried beans at the store instead of ordering the seed stock alternative. The price of edemame seed is crazy per ounce (I think I paid $2.29) and I got my organic soybeans for $0.99/lb. Oh, pretty pretty please work because I'm dying to have some of these dried beans growing in my garden this year.

Cannelini beans are the stuff that traditional Italian meals are made of. These were expired at the store so they were FREE! I think I feel round 2 of bean seed sprouting happening very soon.


Also so very exciting news from the new raised beds...

I am dedicating these beds to called my kitchen garden. They will be growing the things that can be planted early (greens and peas) or are perennial (asparagus, herbs and strawberries). These plants grow fast and will be included in meals several times daily. So instead of heading out the the big garden and wandering through row after row of vines and late season crops all of these will be right out my kitchen door.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How I Would Like To Spend My Last Day on Earth...

Well we all know by now that the rapture did not occur yesterday.

But think about it, if yesterday was your last day on Earth did you spend it exactly the way you would have liked to? Did you live completely in the moments? Regretting nothing and living fully? If Jesus had come for me yesterday, I would not have changed even one second. Honestly. For a bit I have been struggling with contentment but yesterday with all the hype I actually realized how blessed my life is and a few times I was close to shedding happy tears. I was overwhelmed simply walking through my empty messy house, finding thankfulness in each pile of belongings. The sink, counters and even some of the floor was covered in dished that needed to be washed but I didn't see them. I knew I had to be outside and left the chaos to be in the sunshine with the kids. It was a strange and welcomed way for me to be viewing my house. Enough of the sappy sentimental stuff, let's see some pictures!

I started my day with a breakfast that was slow and deliberate that included the best homemade latte I have made in months. I took my foamy drink, wrapped myself in a fuzzy blanket and settled in on the couch to watch cartoons with the kids. Now cartoons are nothing like they were when I was a kid, so they had to catch me up on characters and plot. It wasn't about the TV at all but about caring about what they care about. Cartoons were cut short as the boys headed out with a grandparent for a shopping trip and the girls and I abandoned household chores and went outside. It was the most perfect day, weather wise, and that is saying a lot for our normally cloudy area. While I detailed the van (think Q-tips) my girls had a pool party.

Such simple things make them smile: empty cups, straws and a kiddie pool full of warm water. For hours they would splash around then come out to sun and dry themselves and then jump in the water again. The interior of the van slowly became clean, I enjoyed the process. Since I was trying to be as lazy and purposeful as possible it was simply butter, jelly and crackers for lunch. Let me tell you, afternoons like this are what childhood memories are made of.
The boys came home and the baby fell asleep so we tidied the house for when Blake came home. Supper was on the grill: hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled pineapple. Our grill is not fancy, it's actually more like a pit that we pile sticks in then hope a flame can catch. In the last hour of light we washed van not caring that the kids got more suds and water than the vehicle! The task of course turned into a water fight. Tons of laughter and happy screams filled the open fields around our home.

Showers and dessert were followed by music. The boys played while Eden and I improvised verses to "this old man" until he played 40. After this the kids were collapsing on the couch, almost begging to fall asleep.


My heart believes that I will not know when Jesus will come for His own but I think the idea that yesterday could have been the last day I would ever spend on this Earth was worthy of attention. If the news had you contemplating and sharing your faith then this whole story is not a bust, but a success. If even once you found yourself appreciating more and worrying less, it worked. No one knows when He is coming so we should be living each day as our last. I think yesterday was pretty much as good as it gets.
And even though I despise feet, I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing my kids do everything barefoot!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good Food Friday: On Saturday: Soulvaki (Shish Kabobs)

In general this can be made any way you like it, however this is my recipe that is quickly moving to a family summer favorite. Here is what you need:
  • 2lb. pork roast
  • Assorted veggies (Eggplant, peppers, red or white onion, mushrooms, etc.)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Dried oregano for seasoning skewers on grill
Cute your pork into bite sized cubes. Mix all ingredients (except veggies) to create a marinade. Marinate pork cubes at least 30 minutes or overnight if you plan ahead. Use marinate for basting as well. While pork is marinating I then cut up the veggies (use what ever your family enjoys) into bite sized pieces. I start with the eggplant because I like to soak my eggplant (at least 30 minutes) in salt water to remove some bitterness.
Eggplant and pork marinating.

Bite sized veggies.

I snip the skewers in half to make grilling easier for me and to create an illusion of "less is more". No more than two pieces of meat go on a skewer then and my guys eat more veggies!
My mini skewers waiting to go on the grill.

Grilling. I cover them with a large cookie sheet.
Grill over medium-high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve as soon as possible! Enjoy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Souvlaki Shish Kebobs & Moving Grandmothers

Just a quick update from our Two Blue Houses. This week has kept Jackie and I both running. Checking in with each other between the insanity we quickly compared notes. Jackie is knee deep in helping her Grandmother move out of her house. She has furniture, linens, kitchen supplies, and moving trucks. Throw into the mix kid sport games, driving multiple places at 45 minutes plus each way, and five kids. An adventure to say the least.

I just helped pull my first "late nighter" with my own kid. Corey needed help with an extra credit project for one of his teachers. She is hosting a "Greek Feast" and the kids can bring dishes to earn extra credit. Main dishes receive the most points of course. However, we weren't able to start shopping for this said project until 8 pm. Moussaka was an option but to involved, tiropites to expensive with all that cheese and I have NO idea where to get the pastry part of that recipe, we settled on Souvlaki "little skewers" or shish kabobs.

Corey had to buy the ingredients. We went to the store and I helped him navigate dollar per pound for the pork, which veggies to buy for the kabobs, and picking up the garlic powder I didn't have in the pantry. Of course I stated when we were walking into the store that we needed skewers... and we didn't remember until we returned home. Nice. Oh well. Gary to the rescue! Corey was able to see the inside of a grocery store at 11:30 at night. I was busy making sure the pork was marinated & veggies cut. Corey of course had to measure the spices for the marinate, help create the skewers, and be part of grilling (on my cast iron griddle) and clean up.

I am sitting here waiting for the kabobs to cool so that I can refrigerate them. If it isn't one kid I am losing sleep over... it's the other. Welcome to parenthood. **Wink**

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Animal Chores

Our work is never done. We don't live on a "real" farm but we sure have regular, steady, daily chores. Honestly, I love doing the animal chores. It is impossible to complete them with a baby on your hip so it usually means a few lingering minutes of meaningful free time. A peaceful moment to make sure all the animals are fed fresh food and have clean water. Time to scratch a bunny's head and talk with the chickens about how they need to keep laying such wonderful eggs. 

Today I ran out between rain storms to let the chickens out in the yard. Let them eat worms, bugs, and compost and save us money on that feed bill! As a side note: I have found some great articles and resources lately about feeding rabbits and chickens non-commercial feed and I just bought 900 mangel beet seeds to grow for feed this winter. I am pumped! Anyway, Wade was sleeping (don't worry I had the video monitor) and I had just a minute to get the beagles in the pen, check the green house, give the rabbits a snack, check water, and feed "starving" baby chicks. One of the new Silver Wyandotte roosters and I had a meaningful heart to heart, eye to eye chat about how he needs to respect me and my position or I would eat him. We gave each other a good long meaningful look. My last roos respected me but not Corey or Gary... this batch better respect me too. 

However, we don't have a normal "life". Chores are there day in and day out regardless of the weather or if we want to get away for the weekend, which never can happen because of the animals. There are more than just animal chores now. There is making yogurt, kefir (water and milk), making dough, baby, plants, and planning a head for the next day's three meals. The days of collapsing on the couch at the end of each work day to watch TV are long gone! Instead we trying to see how quickly we can do the chores after the baby is finally asleep so we to can hit the hay.

What chores are part of your daily life style? Do you find that friends and family understand your homesteading chores and how it "limits" you? I would love to hear what you think

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

Sometimes living the homesteading life is no fun. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions. But we are always counting our blessings.

Last week our family was offered a free above ground pool with all the trimmings. This sounded like a dream to the kids. Who wouldn't to spend the summers of their youth around a pool? I spent all of my vacations as a kid and teen at the pool, whether in my neighborhood or at my grandparents and I can verify that it definitely made my summers sweet. Collapsing at the end of the day, shoulders and nose pink from the sun and body drained of all energy. It was lovely. The idea of having the same for my children always motivates me so I said yes, we will take the pool.

The a bit delayed as usual reality sets in. Keeping a pool is an expense we are not prepared to undertake. Chemicals to buy and hours to spend over our new free time activity overwhelm me with our already gigantic list. I begin to weigh the convenience and luxury of having a pool over the alternative, starting to build a barn and keep animals.

With such unimaginable destruction in the country due to both flood and drought, lives and dreams are being uprooted. It seems silly for me to be fretting over whether or not to get a pool when so many are going without basic needs. Food prices and gas prices rising compromise my daily decisions. Not in a worry sense but more of just being aware. Aware of the possibility and responsibility I have to do serve the best of my ability to those around me. I have six acres and instead of my gut chanting "pool," it is saying "provide." Plants, seeds, animals,... Whatever I can do, I will do. Save more seeds. Scavenge for supplies to build a barn. Barter for quality animals. Spend my summer and fall, winter and spring with my family on my mind instead of my body relaxing in a pool.

Living a homesteading way of life is sometimes an escape and sometimes a healthy dose of reality. I have given up plenty in my mind to live here like convenience, concrete and city water. Fun stuff often ends up on the bottom of our list with other "more important" chores. In the end, I know the pool was a distraction, and a valid one. However, in this case the right thing and the hardest thing are the same. So even though it kills me to say this, we will be forgoing a free pool at this time and instead choosing more work. I know it sounds contrary to everything our culture and generation believe but I still have a smile across my face. I am making a good choice.

Yes, we are always adding to our work, but it also adds to our blessings. Rummaging through old pictures of our life here so far remind me of all the great things the country life has to offer...

Like my kids growing up with chickens and unlimited fresh eggs...

Boys covered head to toe in mud...

The family gathered in the garden during harvest...

Hosting all kinds of parties with plenty of parking...

Campfires, hot dogs, s'mores, music and wine...

Baby animals, so cute!

Having the resources to plant, harvest and can a garden this size...

And of course views like these...

Rather than dwell on what you want and what you are going through, take a moment in your life today to be thankful for all you have and what you have gotten through. I guarantee that list is going to be pretty uplifting and we could all use a few more reasons to smile today!

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