Skills & Info

Hmmm. Well that didn’t work

Good thing I went out to the barn to get some potatoes today – otherwise all would have been lost.  Apparently my plan of packing carrots in wet sand is NOT such a good plan.  I read about it in a root cellaring book, but I must have done something wrong.  My carrots are ruined, and pretty much all of my potatoes. 😦  There was too much moisture, and apparently not enough air flow, and I ended up with a lot of mold.  I was able to save about 10 pounds of potatoes – but out of the 50 pounds left, that was kind of a devastating blow.  Good thing I learned this lesson now instead of when I really had to rely on those stores.

So next fall I will be looking for a new method of storing my root vegetables that does not include sand or moisture.  I should be able to save some of the carrots for the horses, but they’re mostly lost.

Ugh.  Bummer.  Chalk one up for learning experiences…

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Categories: Skills & Info | 2 Comments

*Off* Off-Grid

I’m a hopeless researcher…

Image courtesy of Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Internet searches lead to ever-more clicks and open tabs.  Visits to the library end with arm-loads of books ranging in topics from interior decorating, to ancient texts, to gardening, to art journaling…  It doesn’t matter where I start, chances are my search will lead me in wild and unrelated directions.  Boy, we won’t even go into what happens when I walk through the doors of a bookstore.  I think I need a 12-step program for books!

I wish I could say how on earth I came upon the book Surviving Off Off-Grid, by Michael Bunker. I vaguely remember hearing or seeing his name in the past few weeks – either on a podcast, or maybe a blog – not sure exactly.  But I do know that his book has been on my Wish List on Amazon for at least a month or two.  So I ordered the book, and now find myself utterly engrossed.  Oh – and that’s not a typo – there really are two “offs.”  You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Michael considers himself a “Biblical Agrarian.”  Hmmm…  According to Wikipedia, Agrarianism “…refers to a social or political philosophy which values rural society as superior to urban society, the independent farmer as superior to the paid worker, and sees farming as a way of life that can shape the ideal social values. It stresses the superiority of a simpler rural life as opposed to the complexity of city life, with its banks and factories.”  (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrarianism).

Umm.  I can definitely dig that!  🙂

You’ve probably seen me kid about being called Amish-Robin by my friends, with pictures of women in bonnets, and horse drawn buggies. Kidding, perhaps, to some – but a goal, in fact, for me.  Well – maybe not so much the bonnet:

Amish Robin in her Southern Bonnet

But definitely the ideal of living a simpler life sans much of the technological noise that pollutes everyday life.

I’m just beginning chapter four in the book (it just came in the mail a couple days ago), but already I find his writings putting into words what only my mind could express silently.

What once I could only call “off grid” has suddenly taken on a new expression:  *Off*Off-Grid.  Meaning not just simply the conversion of our typical everyday lives and conveniences to solar or wind power, but the idea of taking a serious look at all these so-called “conveniences” and deciding if they really do contribute to the desired end result, and if they really are making life easier.  Well, maybe not easier, but simper… there is a difference.  “Easier” is all a matter of marketing.  Many of these so-called time saving devices are expensive (meaning we have to work long hours to pay for them), require maintenance (again, requiring money by way of working, and the time and frustration to keep them functioning), often break because they’re cheaply made in China (there are many downsides to that one!), and more often than not, take longer to pull out of the cupboard (or cabinet, or garage, or wherever!), plug in, use, clean up and put away than if we just used the old-fashioned way of doing it from the get-go.  Not to mention that many of them (read: ALL!) use electricity – requiring an ever-increasing monthly bill that we have to work to pay for – all in the guise of convenience.

I’ve written about my disdain of electricity in the past.  Yet, here I sit on a computer, clacking away. But Michael Bunker talks about, in the beginning of the book, how technology is subjective.  It’s not a matter of eschewing every circuit board and plug-in – but choosing wisely those technologies that contribute something truly beneficial to your life.  Some may claim that televisions or microwaves or air conditioning are truly beneficial – but I’m going to agree with the author that they’re only a necessity to those who are not strong enough to do without them.  With the rare occasion of a DVD once every month or two, I don’t watch television.  I think it’s the devil’s work (kidding – but only sort of…).  I haven’t owned a microwave in about 12 years – happily.  And air conditioning – eh.  I don’t have it at home, and I do perfectly well without it.  We have it at the office, and more often than not I have my vent covered with a giant book on sport fishing to keep that fake cold air off of me.  I like being cold outside in the winter – not inside in the summer.  But those are just minor examples.

By clicking on “technology” in the sidebar under “what I’m writing about,” you’ll find some of my past diatribes on living without modern conveniences.  Much of what I could say here would simply be a repeat of those earlier writings.  The gist of it is:  I can certainly do without a lot of it.  Not all of it, however.  I certainly wouldn’t want to get rid of my rototiller if I didn’t have to.  I live in the Rocky Mountains – stress on the “Rocky.”  That little tiller is worth its weight in gold to me come spring and fall.   And I do enjoy my little black box of clickity-click (aka: my laptop) – it helps me learn, keep in touch with family and friends, and occasionally empty my brain via blog post.

But back to the point: the book and the author.  If you’ve ever thought about ditching more than just the grid, but ditching the chaos of this crazy modern lifestyle for a truly more simple existence, I really do recommend this book.  For those who just can’t drop the Kindle or the Nook yet, it’s even available in e-book format (how’s that for a contradiction?!)  I almost wish it was quitting time at the grind, just so I could head home, pull up my chair under the apple tree, and continue reading more.  A word of “warning” (although, I’m not sure warning is really the right word)…  Michael Bunker is definitely a devout Christian man, and often backs up his philosophy with Biblical verses and notations.  Personally, I’m perfectly fine with this.  Some might not be.  But just so you know it’s there before you buy.  Oh, and he also has a podcast on Blog Talk Radio.  It’s pretty much a question and answer type show and he covers everything from living off off-grid to bible study, and darn near everything in between.  It’s really an interesting program. I just found out about it when I got the book.  I’ve been downloading the episodes on iTunes (ummm, maybe another one of those necessary evils???)

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to find a book that expressed what I was after:  not so much a complete and total avoidance or shunning of all technology, but a judgement-based use of technology.  Not simply accepting all technology just because it’s technology – racing out to the store for the latest iThis or SmartThat – but really considering what it is that you decide to use in your everyday life.  And in the decision to leave the grid, not just transferring your current consumptive lifestyle to a solar panel, but taking a look at all those gadgets and appliances, and asking: “Do I really need all of this stuff???”  A true acceptance of the spirit of Voluntary Simplicity.

And of course, there’s that Agrarian part. 🙂  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my garden???

Categories: Skills & Info, Technology | 2 Comments

Let’s talk health…

I could go off on a diatribe about health care, health insurance and any number of things along those lines.  But that’s no fun.  How about we talk about taking your health into your own hands instead?

It’s no secret, to those who know me, that I don’t hold a lot of faith in western medicine.  What I’ve experienced over the years is that the only thing they come out of medical school knowing how to do is write prescriptions for medicines that they’re “sold” on by pharmaceutical representatives.  (Yes, that is a gross generalization, but work with me here.)  And many of these pharmaceuticals have lists of side effects longer than your arm.  So why take ’em???  Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but more often than not you can adjust your diet and/or employ natural medicines that will control the problem without worrying about that long list of side effects that are often worse than the original symptoms that you’re taking the drugs for.

I have a story for you.

About a year and a half ago LLM broke a molar – cracked that bugger right in half.  We could see the crack plain as day.  So he went to his dentist, who failed to see the crack and instead convinced him that he had an abscessed tooth and needed a root canal.  But first, he had to take some antibiotics to eliminate any threat of infection.  Against his better judgement, he began taking the antibiotic and made an appointment down here in Missoula for a root canal a couple of weeks later.  Well, to make a long story short, when he went in for the root canal the oral surgeon told him he didn’t have an abscess – he had a cracked tooth!  By that time it was too late – he had taken the antibiotics and finished the prescription. A month or so later his guts started giving him some really awful problems.  Awful.  So awful, I don’t even want to describe them.  So he went to the doctor… who gave him more antibiotics.  Which he took, again, against his better judgement. They helped for about a week or so, and then the symptoms reemerged.  He went through this for darn near a year.  He’s a growley man to begin with – this made him impossible to be around. At one point during this back and forth, he decided to look at the info page that came with the original antibiotics.  One of the side effects: the development of chronic colitis.  Yep, that’s what he ended up with after taking an antibiotic that he didn’t need.  Colitis.  And anything the doctors could suggest were more antibiotics.  Some of which had even more awful side effects!!!  Like increased chance of colon cancer.  Seriously!  That’s how they were going to “fix” his colitis.

After literally a year of putting up with this, I put my foot down and took matters into my own hands. I can put up with a lot, but I had had it. I did a lot of research, and came up with a regiment of natural remedies that included grapefruit seed extract, heavy doses of probiotics and papaya enzymes.  Literally, within days, the symptoms subsided.  I made him keep up the regiment for about six weeks.  Since then, he’s only had two minor episodes.  And as soon as he feels the symptoms coming on, he takes the grapefruit seed extract, and within two doses the symptoms are gone.  He hasn’t had symptoms at all now in a couple of months.  But he keeps the grapefruit seed extract, probiotics and papaya enzymes on hand just in case.

Now, I’m no doctor.  I have no medical training.  Heck, I haven’t even taken a first aid course at the Red Cross in years.  However, I am a strong believer in the power of natural remedies.  A strong believer in knowing your body.  A strong believer in taking care of that body.  And a strong believer in doing research to find natural remedies to help with what ails you.  Man has existed on this swirling rock for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years.  And only in the past couple hundred has man decided to play God and make remedies that are supposedly superior to God’s natural medicines. I am not a strong believer in those medicines.

I have a few other stories along the lines of LLM’s experiences, and in the end the lesson learned is always the same: the natural remedies have succeeded where the western doctors have failed.

Again, there are exceptions to every rule.  But throughout history, ancient cultures have employed the medicines of mother nature to cure any number of ailments from minor infections to cancer.  The point is, don’t discount them because they’re not written on a little piece of paper by a man or woman in a white coat.  Next time you find yourself with something minor – use it as an excuse to try a natural remedy.  Perhaps it’ll give you the courage to seek those remedies out more often instead of relying on the poisons handed down by the pharmaceutical industry.  If you don’t want to risk it on your own, then find a local naturopath – they’ll help steer you in the right direction.

** The opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.  I do not offer medical advice.  Please seek out the advice of a licensed naturopath before trying natural remedies.  And for God’s sake – don’t stop taking medicines if your life depends on them!

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Snowicane (like a snow hurricane)

While we’re not getting the sheer magnitude of snow the folks out east are seeing, today’s definitely a quintessential Montana winter day.  They said it was going to snow, so I thought it would be a great day to head up to the ski hill.  Ummmmm.  I don’t recall hearing anything about this wind that’s accompanying the snow!  It’s darn near a hurricane out there – what I’ve termed the “Snowicane.”  So Bella and I are hunkered down inside, eating (way too hot) chili, drinking chocolate milk and catching up on blog reading.

Mayberry has been writing a fantastic story over the past few months.  It had trailed off for a few weeks, but he picked it back up again a few days ago, and it’s amazingly exciting.  Filled with good ideas and knowledge to consider, too.  I highly recommend heading over to: http://mayberryspreppernetworks.blogspot.com/ and starting from the beginning.  It’s written in diary style, and I’m totally hooked.

It’s hard to think about gardening with the snowicane outside… but I probably need to start considering what I want to grow this summer.  And I can guarantee you I won’t be ordering seed from the “big” seed companies – I learned a lot about them over the past two years, including that many of their seeds are genetically modified.  No thanks.  I want to stick to items that can be canned, or otherwise stored for a good long time.  Carrots will be grown, but I’m not going to can them again.  Canned carrots are icky.  I still have several jars in the pantry, and I just don’t know what to do with them.  I can probably come up with some kind of “root cellar” contraption out in the barn for the carrots and potatoes.  I hear storing root veggies in coolers and/or galvanized trash cans can be easy to do without having to dig up the yard and building an honest-to-goodness root cellar.  I picked up a root cellaring book a couple months ago, but haven’t read it yet.  Too many books, not enough time.

I need to yank out an old notebook that I had started that listed the skills I wanted to learn.  Some of them have been figured out, but there are others I haven’t even touched yet.  Reading Mayberry’s story kind of kicks my butt back into action.  Since I’m not doing anything else this afternoon, perhaps I’ll re-visit the list.

Stay warm!

Categories: Food Storage, Gardening, Misc Musings, Preparedness, Skills & Info | Leave a comment

Happiness is…

… A packet of seeds.

Seeds are nothing new in my world.  I adore seeds – all kinds. Those happy little packets represent the freshies I love to munch on all year long.  For the past couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to have access to a garden where I can grow with reckless abandon… but why stop there?  (More on that in a sec…)

I was reading a series of blog posts the other day on the so-called Survivalist Seed movement.  There’s a bunch of companies out there that will sell you hermetically sealed packets of seeds, that are then enclosed in a can or some other contraption, designed for long-term storage.  It’s all good and well, and I’m never one to dis’ free enterprise.  But man, those seed packages are expensive!  We’re talking over $100 – at times over $150!  For flipping non-gmo/non-hybrid seeds.  Zoiks!  If I put my mind to it, I’m sure I could go out and gather the individual seeds I’d want, and do the storage myself.  However, that’s just another one of those tasks relegated to the “someday” list.  But the guy who was writing the posts was exposing the serious mark-up by these companies who are, essentially, profiting on people’s fears.  I won’t go into the long and short of it, because more importantly, he pointed me to a source for seeds at a much better price:

Mountain Valley Seed Company of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Now these folks have it goin’ on!  For just over half what I could have spent with one of the survival seed outfits (including shipping), I got a can of seeds (16 varieties, hermetically sealed, then re-sealed inside a #10 can), plus some additional carrot and lettuce seeds, and a pound each of Alfalfa and Red Clover seeds for sprouting.  I’m thinking about heading back over there to buy a few more varieties just for kicks. (My box of seed joy came in today’s mail. 🙂 )  But the point being, I was super happy that I happened upon that guys blog post.  I had been hemming and hawing about buying some LTS seeds, but just didn’t want to fork out that kind of money.  So this new-found source will be my go-to.  Another great source is the Seed Savers Exchange.  But their seeds just come in regular old packets, so you’d have to do the re-packaging yourself.  But either way – using either source will put you way ahead in the game.

I looked at buying some sprouting seed locally, but heck, even with the postage the sprouting seeds at Mountain Valley Seed were still less expensive!  A few weeks back I tried my hand for the first time at sprouting seeds in a mason jar.  I put them in salads and on sandwiches, and they were yummy.  First time I had ever had wheat sprouts.  But I love alfalfa and radish sprouts, and when I happen upon clovers growing in meadows, I generally munch on a few, so I’m sure the clover sprouts will be tasty too.  The best part about sprouting is that you can grow fresh, crunchy yumminess anytime of the year.  No need for hot sunny days – all you need is a jar, some seed, a little bit of water and some cheese cloth and you’re set.

Since time is short here before heading off for a business trip, I won’t get to start any new sprouts until I get back from Minnesota.  But I’m really looking forward to exploring the world of sprouting even more.  I understand that putting them in homemade bread is an awesome way to boost the nutrition content.  I don’t know how I can expand on the amazingness of my homemade bread – but hey, I’m willing to try!

I think I may try growing some lettuce in the windowsill at home, too.  Why not?  Need to experiment and see what I’m capable of…

The sky’s the limit!

Categories: Gardening, Skills & Info | 2 Comments

Raaaaaaaain – I don’t mind….

It’s raining up here in the northern Rockies this evening.  And I like it.  We had such little snow over the winter, that it’s nice to finally see some moisture gracing our parched landscape.

The garden report is looking pretty good.  All the pepper, tomato, chive, cumin and basil seeds that I planted a week and a half ago are starting to peek out of the soil in their little peat pots.  And the radishes, lettuce, spinach and peas are doing the same – but peeking out of the soil in the garden instead.  I had been a little concerned because after we planted the seeds in the garden, it turned pretty chilly for a few days – lows in the 20s.  But they seem to be enduring.  That’s good – fresh salad’s on the way.

We have five 50-gallon rain barrels situated to catch rain off the tin roof on the lean-to…  With all this rain, they’re filled to the brim.  We used one entire 50-gallon drum two weekends ago washing the clay out of the back of LLM’s truck.  (Clay that we were told was fabulous top soil.  So now there’s a pile of clay sitting outside the garden fence, mocking us.)  And another water barrel was about half-used from watering the chickens.  But with this evening’s deluge, they’re filled to overflowing once again.

A water catchment system is a project that needs to be started up at the Sanctuary.  We go through quite a bit of well water making sure the garden is wet enough all summer long.  Not to mention the rest of the water usage from showers to dish-washing.   LLM’s been on the look out for a used cistern to set out by the garden.  It can be filled with the water from the barrels, then used as a gravity fed system to water the garden.  Plus we can rig something up so it can catch its own water during these thunderous rain storms.  That’s a better solution for watering the crops than using generator fuel to pump the well water.

There’s no spring or creek at the sanctuary to help with the watering chores, even though the Clark Fork River runs along the edge of the property.  But it’s also a drop of about 200 vertical feet down to the River.  So trying to use River water for anything would be more trouble than its worth.  I kind of wish there was a creek –  I’m really interested in trying to build a water ram.  It’s a “technology” that the Amish use to pump water into their houses without the use of fuel or electricity.  From what I understand, for every 10 foot drop in elevation from the water source, the ram can propel it up 100 feet.  So it appears to be a pretty efficient use of manual energy.  In my little mind I have an idea of how it works – but if I tried to explain it, I would probably ramble incoherently for paragraphs…  So I’ll leave it to you to look it up if you’re interested.

I’m sure there are some other options out there to help with rain catchment.  For instance, there are no gutters on the house, shop, woodshed or lean-to to help direct water flow.  But we’ve been thinking of a couple definite strategies to try out one of these days to help with the watering chores around the OM-stead.  Strategies that won’t take any energy usage.  Unfortunately the water ram probably isn’t something that can be tried any time soon – not on that piece of ground anyway. But the gravity fed cistern to water the garden is something that’s definitely on the to-do list for this summer.  It’s hard to watch so much rain fall from the sky knowing that we don’t yet have a fully operational system to take advantage of it all.

Categories: Gardening, Skills & Info | 1 Comment

Excitement

It’s like Christmas here in the northern Rockies.  Well, really more alike Advent because I have to wait and wait, and I don’t want to.  🙂

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been toying around with the idea of different grain mills.  I have a little one – a Back to Basics model that was super cheap.  I got it so it would give me an idea of what it’s like to grind my own grains.  I like it well enough, but the capacity is low, and you have to put the ground grains through a couple times to make flour fine enough for bread making.  I think it’s better geared toward grinding small amounts of grains, beans, seeds, etc.

So I went about the process of researching different high-capacity, hand-crank mills… well, because ya know, why use electricity if you don’t have to.  😉  I thought I was pretty set on forking out the cash for a Country Living grain mill.  It’s super heavy duty. But there are a lot of parts to it, and some of the essential ones you have to buy separately. Adding to the already expensive price tag.  Plus, no store in town carries them – which means I’d have to pay to have a 15-pound grain mill mailed to me.  Ooof.  I could get an electric WonderMill at the local kitchen goods store, but I don’t want an electric one.

Pretty, isn’t it?

A few weeks back I was paging through the latest issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine when I came across a pretty, shiny red grain mill – hand crank – from a company I had never heard of…  GrainMaker.  Hmmm – interesting.  Upon closer inspection of the ad, I noticed a little emblem that we see all around town – the Made in Montana logo.  Made in Montana?!?!  A hand crank grain mill made right here in the state?  Well, it gets better.  Not only is it made in Montana (Montana’s a pretty big state), but it’s made just south of here in the Bitterroot Valley – in a town called Stevensville!!!  Holy Cow!  I can drive there in 45 minutes from Frenchtown!

Now I was excited.

I did a little more research, and came across some comparisons and reviews of the mill.  Some people liked it well enough, but a one review site used the term “Herculean Strength” in describing using the mill.  But still – it comes with all those extra pieces that the Country Living grain mill charges extra for – and has fewer overall parts.  As it turns out – there’s a heavy duty auger for use in grinding larger grains – like dry beans and corn – and they admit that it does take some strength when using it.  However, if you take out that heavy duty auger and replace it with a smaller coil auger, it becomes much easier to use.

So I emailed the company, wondering if there was someplace I could try one out – to make sure I could crank the thing and use it happily.  The price tag of this one isn’t anything to sneeze at either, so I want to make sure I’ll like it before forking out that kind of money.  The wife, and co-owner of the company, emailed me back today to say I was welcome to come down to the shop any time and they would have one set up for me to try out!  She sounds like a lovely lady…  I told her I was super busy until June 15th, but once work calms down that she could expect a visit.

The entire contraption is forged and machined right in their shop.  No foreign pieces and parts.  Made and assembled right here in Montana, by Montanans.  Who can argue with supporting a small, local business?  I’m really excited about heading down there.  I’ll be back in town from our conference on June 14th.  I have about a half-day’s work in the office on the 15th, then I plan to take a ride down the “Root” and check it out.

Hopefully by mid-Summer, I’ll have myself a fancy-schmancy, shiny, red grain mill set up on my log bench to happily grind my own wheat into flour.  My bread will have never tasted so good.  🙂

Categories: Skills & Info, Technology | 3 Comments

Old World Skills, or… How Grandma used to do it.

electrical wiring in street - delhi (india)Electrical wiring in India

When it comes to the use of electricity, technology and modern conveiences in general, often the response is “I can’t do without…” this or that thing.  I often wonder – is it that people *can’t * do without these things, or they won’t?  More often than not, I think the answer is “won’t.”  For eons man has lived happily without the need for things like microwaves, iPods, cars, televisions (my personal “most-hated” of technological gadgets), dishwashers, etc.  Thousands – tens of thousands – hell, hundreds of thousands of years – no need.  Yet, in the past couple of generations we’ve succumb to the feigned need for all the creature comforts of modern life.

We’ve become soft.  We’ve lost our skills.  We’re setting ourselves up for epic failure as a race of humans.  We’ve disrespected our ancestors that perfected life skills over the millennia.

Every day there’s some new kitchen gadget designed to make our lives easier…  but really, all it does is add to the destruction of age-old skills and gives us one more thing to wash. Last weekend when I was up at LLM’s place, we were sucked into the flashing box for a little while, and on came a commercial for this new contraption to crack eggs.  Seriously.  They now have an “As Seen on TV” device to help you crack your stinking eggs.  We both sat there, slack-jawed, in shock and dismay that someone wasted precious brain power to come up with that.  And what’s worse, is that someone will actually buy it…  And marketing at it’s best – they made it appear that cracking and scrambling eggs was the most difficult and messy thing a person could possible spend their time doing.  I forget how much this contraption cost – but a hard-earned penny would be too much.

I could go on and on with examples just like the can’t-live-without-it egg cracker.  But you get the idea.  So much stuff in this world to make up for what we could do with two able hands and a couple of basic kitchen essentials like a pan or a bowl.

There’s so much to be learned by looking at the current old order communities.  Or by reading the histories of the western migration.  Embracing the old world skills and giving them a modern life could be the salvation of our sanity, our bank accounts, and in the worst case scenario, civilization as we know it.

Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy I do my best to embrace.  Simplicity is really a misnomer, since the lifestyle is often more time consuming – but it embraces ideals that are finally coming back into vogue in some circles.  Movements like the Slow Food community; back yard chickens; organic gardening; food preservation by canning and drying, making bread from scratch.  The skills our grandparents, and the generations before them, took for granted.  They were the pioneers of voluntarily simplicity – whether they knew it or not.  Whether it was voluntary or not…

It’s my goal to learn more of the old skills this year.  Last year I perfected bread making, re-introduced myself to canning and drying, learned to tan a deer hide, and gardened until I had dirt permanently embedded in my fingerprints and feet.  This year it’s chickens, and toying with sprouting grains.  I hope to get my heavy duty grain grinder and stop purchasing flour.  I also want to try my hand at cheese and yogurt making, and finally try making tortillas and pita bread.  Another thing I’d really like to reincorporate into my life is not buying convenience foods.  I don’t buy many of them, but today I came out of the market with two boxes of cereal (frosted shredded wheat – I’m addicted), and a box of macaroni and cheese.  I know I can make mac and cheese from scratch, and I ought to be doing that.  But I have no clue how they make shredded wheat in those awesome, milk holding little pillows of happiness.  😉

So whether or not you have an unhealthy fascination with making your life more difficult on purpose, like me, I encourage you to try at least one old world skill this summer.  Channel your great grandmother and do something you think would have been part of her every day life.  It will honor her memory.  🙂

Categories: Skills & Info, Technology | 5 Comments

I’ve got plans…

And I’m making a list, too.  🙂

I have nearly three weeks of vacation banked at work, so before it gets too crazy (as it always does late April through June), I decided to take a few days off.  While I’d love to say I’ll be lounging on the beach in Hawai’i, the truth of the matter is that I’ll be doing some serious spring cleaning.  Yep – we’re talking aprons, babushka, work jeans and t-shirts.  We’re talking dirt, dust, culling and cleaning.  My plan is to lighten the load!

For a single woman living alone, I seem to have a whoooooollllle lotta “stuff”. I’m not a big fan of “stuff”. I try to make sure that everything I have has a specific purpose… but right now I have “stuff” that hasn’t been used in eons, and I probably no longer even know is there.  So it’s my mission to find it, then get rid of it via Craigslist, Freecycle, Goodwill or some combination thereof.

My expectation is that this will be not only a physical purging of “stuff” but a mental purging as well.  Once the “stuff” is gone, and what’s left is organized, I have even more plans…  I want to finish getting my 72-hour kits finished up for me and the puppers.  That was supposed to be done by April 1st, but I biffed and didn’t get it done.  That’s okay – it’s on the list.  I also want to do some personal strategic planning – making a check list of skills I either want to learn or those I’d like to perfect.  Some equipment I’d like to invest in…  my two biggies are a Country Living Grain Mill and a manual wheat grass juicer.  Those two things alone will set me back $500.  Ouch – but I know they’ll last me a lifetime.  And I’d like to formulate a plan to get out of the system – off the grid – away from the rat race…  As much of a rat race as there is in the northern Rockies – but you know what I mean.  I see so many people who have figured out how to do it without a 9-5 – and I want to figure out how to do it too.  And I will.  So while I’m up to my ears in “stuff” purging, I’ll have plenty of time to be thinking, planning and wondering.

I’ll be off work from this coming Thursday through next Tuesday.  I’ll try to remember to take pictures to post my progress – I’m so ready to start the process that I may do a little bit this evening.

I hope you find sometime to purge the “stuff” from your life that’s weighing you down as well.

Categories: Misc Musings, Skills & Info | Leave a comment

Never Again…

Never again will I EVER mess with another bread recipe except this one.  I just made eight loaves of the most amazing French bread on the planet.  Not only will I never, EVER, again mess with another bread recipe – I may never purchase another loaf of bread from the store again!!!!

Doesn’t it look delicious?  I ate a quarter of the loaf already!!!

So where did I get said recipe, you ask?  From the Prudent Homemaker’s website.   You’ll see a link to her site in my sidebar.  But for a direct link to this absolutely amazing recipe, you can go here.  The only change I would make to her recipe is to add a tablespoon of sugar or honey when you’re proofing the yeast.  That seems to help it do its thing.  Also, she doesn’t mention exactly how long to bake the bread.  As you can see, I made round loaves – they baked for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees and came out perfect.  I also added the beaten egg brushed on top and sprinkled a little kosher salt over the top, too.

I’ve tried a bazillion bread recipes over the past few years – some turned out okay, others were a complete failure.  This recipe is the easiest, tastiest and darn-near fool proof one I’ve found so far.  And as I stated above, I don’t think I will ever try another “regular” bread recipe again.  No need… this one’s perfect!

The Prudent Homemaker has a ton of fantastic food storage and pantry info on her site.  I highly recommend it.  I stayed up way too late last night reading a bunch of her articles.  I think I’m going to head over there right now and find a way to email her to tell her how fantastic this recipe is!  (as well as how awesome the rest of her site is as well.)

Next up: coloring the Easter eggs.  🙂

Happy Easter!

Categories: Food Storage, Skills & Info | 1 Comment

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