Thursday, March 27, 2014

We're Debt Free!!!

I haven't mentioned anything about the land being paid off since I hinted at it last month.  I wanted to wait until I had the actual paperwork in my hands.  I've never really felt like it was truly ours and until I had the deed in my hand I knew I wouldn't.  I know we've been paying on it but someone else was holding the deed. I just never  really felt like it was ours.  I know that sounds kind of silly but that's the way I've felt for the past three years.

 Well, guess what came in the mail this week!  We officially own our place.  I am feeling like I'm on the top of the world every since we got the deed..  Even my back problems seem small today! I walk outside and look all around me and still think "Wow, this is OURS"  No one can take it from us.  A lifelong dream has been realized.   I've wanted a place to call home for most of my life.  No renting no mortgages. A place that was mine, that no one could ever take away. I walked around the property today in between rain showers and everything looks so different to me now.We owe nothing to anyone.  And we did it on  $11,000 a year and the preps we brought from Austin. We are officially LAND OWNERS!

Let the games begin!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Powdered Milk

Do you store powdered milk?  I used to store just any kind at all.  I'd  use my FoodSaver to vacuum  seal it in jars.   Every once in awhile I would have to open a jar because I'd run out of regular milk.  I would only end up using it for cooking because the smell was enough to gross me out.  And trying to drink it? Oh heck no, not even chilling it and even adding a bit of vanilla extract would make it any better. I'd rather drink 2% milk, which to me is like wanna be milk but hands down better than some powdered milk.

So there I was with all these different brands of milk sitting in the pantry.
I stopped buying powdered milk and figured I can always use what I have for baking/cooking.    I had broken one of the very first "rules to remember"  of long term food storage. Store what you eat and eat what you store.
  One day I'll have some goats (maybe. That is if I stop reading over at Carolyn's blog about her goat antics and adventures. She's my "goat guru" and has made me think twice about getting some goats my own. And she's funny too) I would like to have a source for milk and cheese here though and not have to worry about it. We'll see...

I was grocery shopping one day and saw a can of powdered milk that I recognized. I'd never tried it before but a friend stores the same brand and she uses it in her world famous biscuits. (Well in MY mind they should be world famous!) After a few times trying to get my biscuits as nice as hers always are I got to thinking maybe it's the milk that makes the difference.  It turns out I was wrong about the biscuits.  I still can't make them turn out as amazing as hers are but I've been practicing a lot.  Anyway..... I had been on the lookout for the same brand and finally found it in a local grocery around here.
 It's called Sanalac dry milk.  One of the first things I thought of when I  saw it was "Wow, isn't that a baby formula?"  It's not but the name is close enough to make you want to double check.

I made a quart up and set it in the fridge to let it chill.  I don't know about you but I can't handle milk that isn't chilled anyway.  The first thing I noticed was the texture of the dried milk. It's truly a powder.  Not like so many of the other brands.  It was a little hard to mix up at first because it sort of clumped up in the bottom of the jar. Now I mix it up in a quart jar using a little hot water and then adding the powder.  It seems to be easier to mix up like that. Once I finally got it mixed up good ( now I just shake it rather than trying to stir it)and took a smell.  It didn't have that nasty smell that most powdered milk have. Once it was cold, I gave it a test run.  I was craving some cornbread and milk Now if you think I just poured it into a glass before checking out the flavor, you'd be thinking wrong.  No way I'm going to possibly ruin a good piece of cornbread.  I took a tiny sip. Just because it didn't have a nasty smell I wasn't willing to swallow a mouthful and end up either gagging or spitting it out. (or both)

 All this talk just to say I really like it.  The flavor is just great.  It actually tastes like whole milk. I suppose if you like 2% milk you could just decrease the amount of dry milk.  All this really means is that I've found a new milk that I'll gladly be adding to my food storage.

PS  This is not a paid ad, I just really think it's a good product.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes

Just a friendly reminder.... Spring is right around the corner! And for a little inspiration well, who better than Guy Clark to remind us. I don't know when it happened but this is my tomato inspiration every single year! Besides, it puts a smile on my face.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Checking In

It seems like everything is on hold around here.  Held hostage by the weather for the most part.  We didn't properly put the gardens to bed last fall and so there is work that needs to be done on that front.  When the weather cooperates we are trying to get things done.  Mars has the plans in his head and although I really want to keep reminding him there are things that need to be planted now,  I've learned to try and let him do his thing without too much harping on my part. The current push is on the row we will plant potato's in.  It's got all manner of Bermuda grass in it and so we're digging as much of the roots out as possible.  It's taking some time but there's nothing we can do about that. The main goal since starting the gardens has been to make it harder and harder for the grass to grow and making the soil better and better. It'll be a continuous fight but much more manageable in the long run  This will be the third year we've had the garden.  Every year the soil keeps looking better and better and we're finding more and more worms out there lending us a helping hand.

 We got a pretty good rain here this weekend so now we'll have to wait till it's dried up enough to be able to get out there again. So it looks like I'll not be boring you to death just yet with the garden progress report. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Free Seed Catalogs

I love it when my seed catalogs start coming in!   Many of them have some wonderful tips and information that's new to me. I think I could spend hours reading them.  Well I realized a few weeks ago that with moving out to the Hillside Homestead I wasn't going to get any catalogs if I didn't order them.  So while I was poking around the net I compiled a list of Free Seed Catalogs from companies that carry heirloom and open pollinated seeds.  I thought I would share some of the ones I found and some that have been favorites of mine for a long time. Oh and did I mention they are Free?  I just love that word!  

 Free Catalog List  ( heirloom/open-pollinated seeds)

Abundant Life 
Baker Creek
Bountiful Gardens  

Heirloom Acres Seeds  
Johnny's Selected Seeds  
Potato Garden 
 R.H. Shumway's
Sandhill Preservation Center 
Seeds of Change  

Seed Savers Exchange 

This is in no way a complete list. It's just a start.   If you have some that are your favorites, please share them with us!!  I just love reading them.  There is something I find wonderful about being able to hold them and flip the pages... I can make notes and use a highlighter too when I come across something "cool".  ( Don't tell anyone but I even "ohhh and ahhh" over some of the things I want to try)
I've also found an excellent source of seed catalogs by the state from Mother Earth News. 
                             ~~~~~~  Hey... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~~

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'll Be Back

Sorry for the silence.  I'm recuperating from another back procedure and honestly haven't felt much like doing anything.  Even though I knew they told me that this "procedure" wouldn't be as easy as the last couple I never expected to be in this much pain. Walking is a major problem as is any sort of bending, standing, sitting or for that matter much of anything else. 

I'll be back soon.