Thursday, January 24, 2013

Still alive...

You remember that moment in the late fall when you realize that life is about to finally slow down? You know~after the canning, garden clean-up, butchering, winterizing, back-to-school planning, etc...

I remember it too.

Only, the slow-down didn't happen here.

Still busy, just a different kind of busy. Here's some of what we've been up to...

Bailey guarding the feed room door.

We said goodbye to our beloved behemoth, Bailey. At 14-1/2 years old, arthritis had set in and  crippled her. She was ready, even if we were not. The hardest decision was whether to let her die of natural causes and bury her, or to call the butcher truck and end her suffering.

We chose the latter. Somehow, it seemed less wasteful. Hopefully by the time our hamburger is ready, we'll be ready.

For now though, we're eating a lot of vegetarian meals.☺

"Hey Porky, you've got a smear of jelly behind your ear!" Pigs.

Porky left for freezer camp too. The largest of our three pigs, he weighed in right at 300 lbs. His siblings were about 50 lbs. behind him, so they're hanging out a little longer.

Porky was a real pig.

We'll give up our vegetarian ways when the bacon is ready.☺

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company~LOVE.

My seed order finally arrived. All 66 packets of seeds. I've always said that I'm an addiction just waiting to happen.

Hi. My name's Kim and I'm a seed catalogue-aholic.

Hmm...I thought that would purge my guilt. But alas, I have none. Not whatsoever.

Shameless. Is it Spring yet?

12 feet of laminated ugliness.

I've been spending a lot of time with the new "man" in my life. His name is Mr. Orbital Sander. I love him. He allows me to take ugly furniture like the table above, and turn it into something less ugly.

Sand, primer, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, seal.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but the table color is ivory painted over barn red, then sanded. I'm not sure it will stay this color, but for now, I'm diggin' it.

I'm currently eye-balling some ugly laminate cabinets... the dining room, utility, family room, and all 4 bathrooms.

My Mister got scared, so he booked us vacation tickets to Cancun.

Like a trip to a tropical paradise will distract me from Mr. Orbital Sander.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

January Meal Plan

Now that it's a new year, I've decided to start planning meals again. Not that I wasn't before, I just lacked the "follow through."

It's all about the follow through.

Even though I had the best of intentions, my lack of motivation kept me from doing the important things like, thawing the meat, soaking the beans, buying the groceries, etc...More often than not, I found myself pulling out the omelet pan and scrambling up some eggs.

Omelette's were even too ambitious because they require thought, and my only thought was "git er done." Hence, the scrambling. Not exactly the meals that dreams are made of.

When planning for a month of meals, I start by shopping in the pantry/freezer first. Then I list the meals that my family likes, that are time-convenient, or are meals that use whatever I have an abundance of. After that list is finished, I divide them into weekly plans and write them on a weekly planner. (This planner is much classier than my old stand-by...the spiral notebook.) On the back of each weekly planner, I write my grocery list. I've found that it's important to take both my meal plan and my grocery list together, because I almost always forget to add something.

I say almost always because it makes me feel more competent than I really am. ☺

Our monthly budget for groceries varies, but we try to keep it around $150.00/week. Every 3 months, we make a Costco and Bob's Redmill run to restock basics such as; sugar, dried beans, rice, spices, and gluten-free staples.

And it ensures that the Mister and I have at least 1 day every 3 months without kids.

It's the little things, really.

Here's what's cookin' this month~

~Week 1~
baked chicken, Mac & Cheese, roasted broccoli/cauliflower
White Chicken Chili (new), gf Cornbread
Parmesan-crusted Tilapia, brown rice/butter, green salad
Homemade gf Pizza
~Week 2~
Lentil Burritos, Guacamole, tortilla chips
Crockpot Mongolian Beef, brown rice, salad
Thai Butternut Curry Soup, Bob's Redmill GF Hearty Whole Grain Bread
~Week 3~
Pot roast, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, veggie (to be determined)
Venison Stroganoff, jasmine rice
GF Beef Empanadas (new)
Salmon Patties, brown rice w/butter, green beans
~Week 4~
baked potatoes, cube steak, salad
Spicy Thai Noodles (with brown rice noodles)
Mexi-Mac, sweet corn
Salsa Chicken, brown rice, salad
Breakfasts: Soaked Oatmeal, brown rice farina, eggs, raw milk kefir smoothies, muffins, Cinnamon Spiced Granola
Lunches: Leftovers, nachos, egg salad or tuna sandwiches (on home-baked bread)
Since I've only planned 28 of the 31 days of January, that leaves room for date nights out, or date nights in...
Hey, it could happen. ☺

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gluten Free "Neiman Markus" Cookies

Okay. So, I'm about to share with you just how far removed from civilization I've been. I have a cookie recipe, apparently from someone named Neiman Marcus, and until today, I had no idea who or what that was.


Neiman Marcus is a store that carries designer labels. I googled them. They carry clothes that are usually only seen on runway models. Clothes that normal women roll their eyes at and wonder, "Did she not notice her striped shirt and checkered pants do not go with that paisley jacket?" And that those hideous make-your-eyes-cross patterns sell for $1,000 a piece? And we (I'm inserting myself here) normal women notice that these same models look like they've never eaten a cookie a day in their lives? And then, some clueless woman who thinks Google is a Godsend, finds that not only does Neiman Marcus carry make-you-dizzy outfits, but the store also sells cookies!?!

Be still my heart. Finally. A store that caters to the blind and the hungry. Now, that's a place I can get behind.

Just as long as I don't have to wear paisley with my striped wool socks. ☺

Gluten-free "Neiman Marcus" Chocolate Chip Cookies

~The Players~
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
6 Tb. granulated sugar
2 eggs
4 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. sea salt
3-1/2 cups gluten-free cookie flour blend (*see below)
1-1/2 t. xanthan gum
1 Tb. instant espresso powder
2 cups chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, flour, xanthan gum, and the espresso powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop by large spoonfuls (or cookie scoop) onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake @ 375F. for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before moving to cooling rack.
~GF Cookie Blend Flour~
2 cups fine-ground brown rice flour
2 cups fine-ground white rice flour
1-1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca starch/flour
Mix ingredients together. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.
The flour recipe comes from Mary Capone, contributing writer/chef for Living Without magazine.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

2013. A new year. For some, a new start. For others, an opportunity to practice the fine art of correcting mistakes.

I don't know about you, but I fall into this category. Call it brain fog, old age, or denial that time's-a-flyin', but I'm not a lover of change. As with any new year, change does come. It must or we fail to grow.

Over the last few months, my blog is one thing that hasn't really grown. Not because there aren't people reading it, but because I haven't had the energy, time, or inspiration to put into it. I contemplated closing this blog and devoting my down time to napping and watching old Malcolm in the Middle reruns, but after a month of that, it got old. So, with this new year, I won't be focusing on resolutions that are made to be broken. I'll be focusing on goals. On growth.

And on getting myself off of the couch.

The pity party is over. No more woe is me attitude. Life is what it is. You learn to adjust and adapt. You grow and hopefully inspire others by just living life in all its the fullest.

Here are some 2012 2013 goals I have:

For the farm

1. Downsize our farm. *Gasp!* (Did I just say that out loud?) We have too many free-loaders that are costing us big bucks in the feed department. At least half of the chickens and all but 4 of the turkeys will be heading to freezer camp, as will our 14 year old arthritic cow, Bailey.

2. Butcher the hogs. Those once cute little piglets have turned into 170-266 lbs. of ravenous, dirt-plowin', eating machines. And quite honestly, they scare me. Especially Porky, who is our largest and most aggressive eater.

3. Repair/replace water lines at the barn. The pigs decided to turn their once dry pen into a spa-like environment by rooting up the water lines which caused their home to flood. Of course, they did this while the Mister was in the middle of his work week. For now, our water comes from a waterfall behind the barn and is hauled with buckets. Can't really get more homesteady than that.

4. Start our tomato seeds by the end of January. This is a goal I make every year, and every year I forget to order the seeds in time. Not this year. This will be the year of tomatoes. Which reminds me that I need to place my seed order in the mailbox...

5. Help the Mister build a hoop house. By help, I really mean nag-until-it-gets-done. Because really, I am not a very good hoop house builder.

My pathetic attempt is still sort of standing. In a leaning-to-the-East kind of way.

For the home/kitchen

1. Repurpose. This is a big one because I have a lot of ugly old junk. Dressers, tables, even old lamp bases are going to get an overhaul. I plan on getting to know the paint people at Lowe's very well.

2. Spend more time in the kitchen. Yes, I'm weird that way. Fact is, I love my kitchen. I love my pots & pans. And I especially love to get creative. Expect lots of new recipes this year. And thanks to my children, better pictures with the new camera they bought me for Christmas.

3. Organize. In the next month or so, the last of our adult married children will be moving into their new home. While it has been so fun having the rooms full again, I have realized just how unorganized I really am. The first project on the list: Get rid of all the homeschooling supplies I no longer need so I can repurpose some of those bookshelves into a functional pieces of furniture.

4. Learn to make hard cheeses. Is it just me, or do cheese presses look like something from Medieval times? And how come every single cheddar recipe out there is different than the one before? Is it because there's lots of room for error or because no one wants to admit that their cheese-making adventure was an epic fail? Oi.

For our homeschool

1. Update transcripts. I have an entire year of grades still on paper. Since we have a senior this year, I need to get on this pronto.

2. Plan ahead. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-and-hope-you-land-on-something-soft kind of gal. Some would call it "unschooling," I just call it procrastination. We will still have a more laid back school year, but I need to be better prepared for all of the "what's next" questions.

3. Graduate Mandie. Even if I'm not emotionally ready to do so.

For me

1. Be quick to forgive. It's getting easier with age, since I don't really remember most of the day anyway, but I want to be a purposeful forgiver. Life's too short to waste being angry or hurt by words said in the moment. Let it go.

2. Continue to heal. Right now I am reading the book, "Autoimmune, The Cause and the Cure." (Review to come.) I'm lacto-fermenting veggies, drinking raw milk kefir, kombucha, and avoiding all foods that cause an inflammatory response. I'm walking more, listening when my body says to rest, and letting go of the things that I cannot change. Like my height. And how fast my leg hair grows.

3. Be patient. Because all good things come to those who wait. Just as I waited 44 years for a milk cow, I can wait for those moments when my patience is rewarded.

4. Listen more. Let my actions speak for themselves. And dear Lord, let my actions speak only good things. And my temper tantrums be behind my closed bathroom door.

5. Enjoy every single moment. Every breath. Every joy. Every tear. Even the tears that come from sorrow. Because in our sorrow, there is life. It means that we are feeling. That we are living. And that we are loving.

Happy New Year, from my home to yours!

2013~Bring it on!