Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm still here

This old year has had a lot of ho hum, good, hectic, happiness and sadness in it. On Halloween after many months of preterm labour, Our new darling granddaughter arrived in this world. She is such a light for us. Then November hit us with my dad in and out of the hospital. Thanksgiving was spent with him in the hospital on isolation while they tested for TB and Legionnaires disease.  Samples were sent to the CDC and the Mayo clinic. The next day my daughter was in the ER passing 3 kidney stones. Dad was taken off isolation but they still really didn't know why he was so ill. One of his doctors told us they might never know they were just trying to treat the symptoms so he could get better. 3 days later with a lot of fluid in his lungs, bags of medicine and on oxygen they sent him home. His 3rd morning at home he passed away.
We are so grateful for the time we had with him, He got to meet is new Great Granddaughter and his last 2 days were at home, with him feeling better and laughing and reminiscing at the good old memories with us. When his time came, It was fast ...and not painful, which is more than Mom and I could wish. Even with his passing he still kept on giving. Dad had signed up to be an organ donor. I got a call that night from the hospital. They had just finished surgery and now because of Dads gift of life a young man can see again. I think it kinda fitting that some of Dad is living on in this young man with a whole new lifetime to see the wonders of the world.
 

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Now at Wash. U.: A Butter Churning Club?

Welcome to blogs.riverfronttimes.com
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The three founding members of WUChurn (l-r), Sean Wang, Jeremy Winer and Zach Kaufman, demonstrate the fine art of butter-making.
​One night last spring, three dorm-mates at Washington University had one of those ideas that seems absolutely brilliant if you've been up very late studying: Why not start a butter-churning club?

Not that Zach Kaufman, Sean Wang and Jeremy Winer grew up on dairy farms or anything. Kaufman had churned once, on a grade-school field trip, and, in third grade, had read the entire Little House series, although he says he did not enjoy it. ("But you enjoyed the butter portions," Wang suggests helpfully.) But the idea charmed them. They started watching YouTube videos to find out how, exactly, churning was done. They told their friends about it. They started a Facebook group that has, so far, attracted more than 60 members.
Eventually, the time came to put up or shut up. Would there be a butter-churning club or not?
And so they put together a funding proposal, complete with PowerPoint, and presented it last week to the Wash. U. Student Union. "They liked us a lot," says Winer. So much that the Union voted unanimously to allot the group, now called WUChurn, $467.
The three founders purchased supplies at Schnucks: a pint of heavy cream and several Mason jars to serve as temporary churns until they get around to purchasing a more traditional crock-and-dash churn. (As they had learned from their research, you can churn butter simply by shaking up a Mason jar filled with cream, though it's not nearly as picturesque.)
Last Friday, the great moment arrived: For the first time, they churned.
"It took three minutes," Winer says.
Wang: "Who knew it was so easy?"
They were so pleased with themselves, they gathered on Saturday afternoon in the Danforth University Center to do it again.

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Jeremy Winer pours the unchurned cream into Mason jars.
​The first and most obvious question: Why do students at Wash. U., which offers no classes in agricultural studies (though it does have a community garden, the Burning Kumquat), need a butter-churning club?

"It's a unique experience on campus," Kaufman explains earnestly as Winer pours cream into three Mason jars. "It's a way to create local, organic dairy products and support the humane treatment of animals. It's healthier."
"It tastes better," Wang adds.
"And there's no butter on campus," Kaufman continues.
What?! How can this be?
"We've been talking to the dining staff," says Wang. "They have to use spray stuff. There's no margarine, either."
"They may have some at brunch on Sundays," Winer interjects.
"We saw a niche," Kaufman concludes. "Now we're working on health codes."
"The proper storage of dairy products," Wang explains. "Right now we're using the refrigerator in our suite."
The three pick up their Mason jars and begin to shake them vigorously.
"There's not much material we have to buy," Kaufman says as he churns, "so there's not much overhead."
The group's biggest expense will be the churn. On EBay, they go for between $60 and $160. ("We expect it to last 100 years," Wang asserts.) They also plan to buy a strainer and a spoon to wash the butter, as well as Tupperware containers for storage. The executive board is currently looking for a dairy where they can buy cream, so they don't have to rely on Schuncks. And maybe one day, they'll get a custom Wash. U. butter mold.
"In the spring we're planning to have a butter-carving competition," says Kaufman. "And maybe we'll expand into ice cream and cheeses." They're not sure if they'll continue to use antiquated equipment, though, or if they'll concentrate on dairy.

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Sean Wang can't believe it's butter!
​"It's an easy break," Wang says, opening his jar to check the progress of his butter. It currently looks like whipped cream. "It's so intense here. Food is like an afterthought. This is easy and repetitive."

"It makes a cool noise," says Winer, holding his Mason jar up to his ear. "It's a stress-reliever."
"A productive stress ball," Kaufman agrees. "We're going to siphon off the buttermilk into a pancake committee."
"The treasury committee wants us to make flavored butter," Winer adds.
Although all three are majoring in the sciences (Kaufman in biomedical engineering, Wang in econ and physics and Winer in philosophy, neuroscience and psychology), they haven't thought much about the scientific principles involved in turning cream into butter.
"Maybe we can quantify the amount of time it takes to make a certain amount of butter," Wang muses.
"Or strap a pedometer to the wrist to measure how many calories you burn," Kaufman adds.
With the butter nearing completion, Winer is dispatched to the cafeteria line to scavenge for rolls. He returns triumphant with a few slices of white bread. "They gave it to me for free!"
Each of the WUChurn members takes up a plastic knife and begins to spread butter on a slice of bread. Kaufman and Winer's butter is light; Wang's is thicker and doesn't spread as easily.
"We should have a spreading class," Kaufman observes.
"I like my clumpy butter!" Wang says defensively. He takes a bite. "This actually tastes really good. I can't believe it's butter!"
Winer eyes the three Mason jars while he eats his bread and butter. "We have so much butter right now."
"Let's bake something!" exclaims Wang.
"We should save it for the next meeting," says Kaufman. "Let's get sample cups on the way out." This evening the six members of the executive board plan to schedule the first general meeting and delegate club duties, such as cleaning the churn.

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A toast to butter-churning (on white bread).
​Winer has started shaking his Mason jar again. "My butter is starting to look clumpy like yours," he informs Wang.

Though WUChurn's funding doesn't officially kick in till second semester, the group is already planning for the holidays.
"Butter makes a great Christmas gift!" Kaufman declares as he wipes excess butter off the table with a paper napkin.
"Or Chinese New Year," Wang chimes in.
"Or Hanukkah," Winer adds.
As the three leave the building, they continue to stare in awe at their Mason jars.
"We made butter!" Winer exclaims.
Wang giggles. "This is so rewarding!"
WUChurn is open to the general public. If you know of a local dairy that can provide cream, please contact the group at wuchurn@su.wustl.edu.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

I Made Cheese! I hate cheese!

The two things I've hated eating since I was a baby, are cheese and potatoes. I know, my mom has always told me that's un-American to not like potatoes, but hey I like apple pie. My poor hubby is of Irish descent and he really, really likes his potatoes. Poor guy I think we were married for about 8 years before I cooked potatoes more often then his Birthday and holidays. The Army actually got me eating potatoes, not much choice to not eat them in Boot camp:) But cheese is another thing. Yuck! What really gets me is that cheese looks so good. Every time I look at cheese I think it looks delicious. It really looks like something I should love. Then I taste it, and well, we don't want to even go there. Lets just say I still hate cheese! I have learned to tolerate mozzarella cheese, well if its on a pizza, and just a light coating. That's a big step for me, I went all they way into my 30's ordering my Pizza's without cheese, and getting a lot of weird looks at Pizza Hut for ordering that too. But now I'm 50, I can't believe I just told you my age, and  I can eat my Potatoes and Mozzarella like a grown up.
I bought this Mozzarella cheese making kit for a fun activity that my daughter and I could do with my mom on her birthday. We followed the directions, or so we thought we followed the directions, laughed a lot and ended up with nothing that looked like mozzarella cheese, but we sure had fun trying. So today I was determined to try it again. First I watched this video.

Boy we didn't do nothing like this the first time.

Separating the curds and whey   

Adding Citric Acid to milk
Checking the temp after the rennet was added


Kneading and stretching
Walla, I made cheese

And it only cost me;    $35.32 
Cheesemaking Kit  $23.75, Shipping  $5.49, 2 Gallons milk (1 gallon for each attempt) $6.00
But everybody sure loved it on the home made Pizza we had for dinner tonight                                                           

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A rushed move and kids car playmat

Things have been so hectic. Apparently my daughters landlord decided to never tell us that he lost the house she was renting to foreclosure. We had no idea until a bank official showed up and told her we had 72 hours to be out. After a very frantic packing job, with a 110 degree heat index (we even packed dirty dishes, no time to wash them) we ended up with her all her worldly belongings spread out between my mom's, my son's and our house. The kids sleeping in the spare room upstairs and my daughter sleeping in my sons camper in our backyard, for the last few weeks. We just got them moved into a lovely house yesterday.

I did get my DGS's Car Mat finished for his 2nd birthday.
Next project up on the list of things to do is a helmet skin for my son and a dollhouse play mat for my daughter inlaw's future niece.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

How To Weave On A Peg Loom

I've been looking for a project my DGD and I can do together this summer and I think I have found it. Peg looming. It is an ancient form of weaving and its beauty lies in its sheer simplicity! She can make some scarves for her Christmas presents and maybe she'll want to try working on a rag throw rug while I'm working at my loom. Here's a great tutorial I found, and a quick video of a Peg loom rug... enjoy





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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Natural Ant and Mice Repellant

As I've complained about often here, we have a major Mouse problem every Spring and Fall. With all our wet weather again our mice have invited all their relatives to visit yet again.
Now I have no more traps this year, I found the secret Mouse and Ant leave us alone Elixir Peppermint Oil. Mice hate it. Ants hate it. Bugs hate it also, but I am in LOVE with it.
First I made up some Peppermint Castile Soap Spray.

1 gallon water
4 tablespoons peppermint castile soap (I found this at Walgreens)
I also added some peppermint oil to boost the peppermint odor
Combine the ingredients.

I then filled a spray bottle with it.
Spray the backs of counters, baseboards and all other areas you have problems. Do not rinse.

And now Ant and Mouse’s are BYE BYE

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rice Paddy

I think I need to change my garden plans. Since Mother Nature is determined to turn the garden into a paddy, I guess I should just give in and plant rice ☻


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Soap Making

I'm gonna admit to how dumb I am☻I always just assumed that lard was animal fat. Now I am educated and know that Lard is Hog and Tallow is Beef. In class this week they went over soap making. And I soon figured out why my cleaning soap didn't smell like my grandma's used to. I can remember when I was a kid and every summer I spent at my Aunt and Uncle's Farm and my grandma's house. I would always leave for home with a few cherished bars of my Grandma and Great Aunts Homemade Soap. Boy we sure loved that soap. It was too harsh to use as body soap, but grate some of that soap in the washer and add Grandma's homemade quilts and that night you were sleeping under the smells of a fresh country summer on the farm. My homemade lard soap just didn't have that smell I love. Then my teacher passed around a few bars of her soap and I found that smell again. I also learned how they rendered tallow to make their soap. That's what I've been missing.  So the Butcher is going to have 25lbs of beef fat for us the 1st of May with which my daughter and I will be rendering into.
Even though they thoroughly went over the instructions in my Urban Farmsteading class, I still like watching the process visually. So here's a video I found . 





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Monday, April 18, 2011

Too Much Grandpa In Her

Last night I got a call from my DD. It seems that my DGD (who just turned 7 last week) takes after her Grandpa a little to much in the "little devil" department. DD told the kids she was going to take a shower and the she would call for DGS (2years old) to give him his bath. She left them on the couch watching Worlds Funniest Videos. After her shower she stood in the bathroom doorway and called DGS. He proceeded to toddle down the hall towards her yelling "I coming" with a big smile. That is until he suddenly ran face first into an invisible barrier and landed, with a startled look, on his bum. Apparently while Mom was in the shower his big sis, my sweet adorable little granddaughter, strung a sheet of Saran wrap across the hallway, just at face level. She says she got the idea from the Worlds Funniest Videos, which, her mother states, will no longer be watched in her house. I can see her point. The sweet little darling can come up with her own evil ideas without the help from a TV show☻She did get out of bed later and go apologize to her mother for "taking out" her baby brother.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Growing Sweet Potatoes in a Bag

Available at this link
The 1st thing I'm trying from the Extension Center's class on Urban Farmsteading, is going to be growing sweet potatoes in a bag. With our iffy spring weather and the sweet potatoes long growing season, I'm hopeing I can just bring the bags into our warm house and plop them under grow lights if this fall turns cool to early.
Gayla Trail from yougrowgirl.com has a wonderful article on how to grow sweet potatoes in a bag over at The Globe and Mail click here to read . She explains how she re-purposes over-sized green shopping tote bags for her grow bags. This is just perfect for me. I have so many of those black reusable shopping bags that I have not been using since I replaced them with my home-sewed bags. If this works well I plan to try carrots in grow bags. We've never had much luck growing carrots in our clay soil.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

A Hetic Spring

Well things have been hopping crazy around here. Between the weather, my family and the garden, I've been running on empty. We're gonna be having another grandchild so I have lots of baby things to start making. The weather is slowly letting us get into the garden and I did get 50 lbs of potatoes planted. This is our 1st year that we are planning to grow enough to store all winter. But I still planted more than my new garden plan allotted for so I had to revamp the design again. I have over 300 hundred plants to start inside, There won't be a flat surface in my dining room that's not stuffed with newspaper cups with lights hanging over. Each year I have a unique (Well unigue to me) plant to grow in the garden, last year was Sorghum, this year is Luffa Gourds and Paprika Peppers. I didn't end up making any sorghum molasses but the animals sure loved eating it. I hope to do better drying the peppers and making our own smoked paprika. And I can't wait to have some homegrown luffa sponges to use.
After plowing and tilling the garden, not to mention planting 50lbs of potatoes I am proud to report that the homemade deodorant works fantastic. Though my hubby was a little surprised when I asked him to smell my armpit and tell me if my deodorant was working☺ That idea was a no go, but I can't smell any unwanted odor and no one is complaining, so I can only assume it'd working. Since I last posted I've made another batch of soap.
Tonight I start an 18 hour workshop at our Extension Center. It's all about Urban Home-steading Farmsteading  (they changed the name because of the now infamous trademarking of  Urban-Home-steading(s)) . It's supposed to teach us the skills, tools and strategies to live a simpler, self-sufficient life. So hopefully I'll have lots of new ideas to post in the coming weeks. Well we have 3 Birthdays this week, and I'm still not finished with making their presents so I had better get busy.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Almost Garden Time

 Our weather is finely in the 50's this week. With the ice and snowing melting and the property a big mud bog it's really got me in garden mode. Time to start planning the garden and start the seeds ☺

Paper Pot MakerLast year I started my seeds in 2 liter soda bottles, sorta like mini terrarium. But I found this technique very space consuming. I needed alot of lights for the amount of plants I started. And I found that my plants became very leggy because with the height of the bottles I could not lower the lights to the proper distance. This year my daughter is starting a large garden. And with my DGS's 2 year old "helping" fingers, she figures that it's a better idea to keep her seedlings at my house.  So now it's time to come up with a better way to start my seeds. I've always wanted the Paper Pot Maker, but no way will I spend $18.95 for it. After hunting around the Internet I found these 2 video's. I like this 1st video because it seems to make a stronger pot, more like the wooden pot maker. But the 2nd video is more simpler, and if you twist the cup in the last step it should tighten up the pot bottom just as good. I think will be using one of these 2 video's to start our veggies this year.




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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Original Recipe?

Something I would like to try someday. I was thinking homemade Ginger Ale or Root Beer, but now I'm thinking maybe Homemade Coca-Cola



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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just some snowy day pondering

As with any winter storm you get a lot of closings and since our area is living thru a Stormageddan, the TV stations have been posting the lists of hundreds of closings all day long. For me I can't help reading thru these lists scrolling across the bottom of our TV screen. I haven't heard of a lot of these business that are closed today but I'm finding much humor in them.

Some are funny, as in Camptown races won't be singing any songs today because Camptown is CLOSED and don't even think about looking for a Home Away from Home because that's closed too.

And duh, for the Crystal Clean Pressure Washing being closed, who would want their car or house being pressure washed in the middle of an ice storm.

And then there are the 'say what' closings, I mean, not to put down any businesses, but... I have to say. I can't see myself wanting to visit the Grabber Hair Salon, I know their closed today but really, they sound painful. And why would I send somebody to the Inertia School of Dance. I mean really don't they understand that in common usage the term "inertia" may refer to an object's "amount of resistance to change in velocity" or sometimes to its momentum, depending on the context. And I cant figure out what the School of Cleaning Etiquette is but I assume when they reopen after the storm everyone there will be all neat, tidy and very polite.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just call me the Ice Walker!

I made it to the chicken coop with a load of water and back with fresh eggs and an armful of wood, and no broken hip! Well if you live anywhere in the central or eastern U.S., odds are you are in or preparing for some winter weather. Were all set, with our food storage and emergency supplies there was not much needed. The tornado that hit our town years back, taught me that I was going to be prepared for the worst. We do always have the New Madrid earth quake looming over us. If we ever got the big one our little town would be on it's own for a long time I think. Though I still like to delude myself that as long as I have Earthquake insurance it won't be happening.

 My brother in law is the Fire Chief on Little Gasparilla Island . The island is a unique and wonderful place in Southwest Florida, located in Charlotte County along the Gulf of Mexico about one mile from the mainland and accessible only by boat or ferry. He keeps posting these pictures of the view outside his office window, Can you guess that I want to hate him right now. I offered him a trade of a bad winter storm for a week of his sun and ocean breeze's and he said no go :( I have only myself to blame, we did move back here from sunny South Florida for the changing seasons. And right now I'm ready for it to change to spring. That groundhog had better be seeing it my way or else!!!!!!!
Really though, were all sung as a bug in a rug. The animals are fed and cozy, the batteries are checked, wood stoves roaring, pot of beans simmering on the stove, new book on the Kindle, if my son wasn't out in harms way plowing for MODOT it would be a purrfect storm. Keep safe everyone.....
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