Saturday, December 17, 2016

IKEA Therapy

I love IKEA. Seriously. Forget Disneyland. It is the happiest place to which I can go, well IKEA, Target, Panera and Graeter's Ice Cream. They all make me happy. I was left to entertain myself, after meeting up with my daughter for our traditional "It's a week before Christmas and Dad hasn't bought mom's presents yet"  breakfast. Every year, we meet for breakfast at First Watch, have a breakfast (just the 3 of us), then the kid takes the hubbs out to buy my xmas presents. We  have family time, the kid and the hubbs have daddy/daughter time and I get a free day. It is a win-win all around.

So after breakfast, I shirked my responsibilities and headed to my happy place. And I was driving the hubbs zoom zoom car too, hehe. I meandered through the aisles ooohing and aaahing and picturing how each item would look in my house. But I restrained myself by purchasing only a few items. Unfortunately, I was limited by my bank account and cargo space. Otherwise, it would be a semi loaded with stuff parked in front of my house.

Lantliv Plant stand
I found some self watering planter pots. Which of course required some plants.
Small self waterer
I lined my pots with a small piece of weed block cloth so the soil doesn't clog the drainage holes. I punctured a hole in cloth with screw, aligning it to the drain hole, feed the wicking cord through the cloth then the pot. I then added my plant. Voila!

Kalanchoe
There was a larger size. It was much easier to install the liner and wicking cord. 
"Himalaya Mix" Left-peperomia obtusifolia, Middle-codiaeum variegatum batik and Right-chlorophytum comosum (aka Spider Plant)

I also bought these plants (and pots)
Ficus Microcarpa Ginseng
Araucaria
Crassula
What's nice is most of these plants only require part sunlight.  But I do have a plant light if I need to supplement. It was wonderful to play in the dirt in December...even if it was the indoor houseplants  kind. My house will be oxygenated thanks to all my new plants, I had some IKEA & gardening therapy and thanks to my kid (and hubbs), I know I will have the perfect xmas present.  It really was a wonderful day!

And I did buy other stuff but I kinda need to wait and slowly sneak stuff to put out when the hubbs isn't around. I really don't need all those questions about how many shelves do we need? (alot), do you really need another picture on the wall? (yes, yes I do) and how much money did you spend? (somewhere between we are eating ramen and peanut butter sammiches)...


©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorised use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sauerkraut Festival

October 8th,  my sisters and I ventured to Waynesville, Ohio for the 47th annual Sauerkraut Festival.

**I didn't have my camera so the photos used are from the Dayton Daily News, Waynesville Sauerkraut Festival page and Inside Guide Cincinnati.**

Waynesville is a charming town in Southwest Ohio, established in 1796, is of Quaker origin, known for its antiquities and the Sauerkraut Festival.
According to the festival website there were over 450 vendors (I didn't count them them but it seemed the vendor tent/ booths/ carts lining the street would never end.

There was the traditional fare of sauerkraut topping metts and brats. Stuffed cabbage rolls, cabbage stews and soups.

Unusual fare--sauerkraut pizza, bread cakes, and brownies. I am not that adventurous.

Some yummy things to make at home, like the German "Sundae". It is fried potatoes, sauerkraut cheese, sour cream, bacon bits and an olive.

 Oh--sauerkraut balls!  Tasty little nuggets of deep fried potato-ey and kraut goodness! Interesting factoid-- Sauerkraut balls are not authentic German and have been accredited to both German Mennonites and Polish immigrants They are tasty regardless of who created them! And different Ohio cities have different recipes. Akron Ohio the recipe is a breaded deep fried base of sausage, potato and kraut. Cincinnati's version is pork based (ham or sausage), potato, kraut and cream cheese. Other regional variations include bacon or beef.

The food booths were interspersed among the vendor tents, which is rather brilliant actually. You eat, walk, shop, then eat more, walk more and shop more, ha!  I did bring a tote bag for the few things I did buy, which were handcrafted soaps-The Oregonia Soap Company-Purple Fields and Orange Blossom;  Cashmere Bath Company-Almond crushed bath bombs (they smell sooo nice!)  and a few unnamed  items which will be given as Christmas gifts.

My sisters and I spent about 2-3 hrs exploring the various booths and shops. We weren't able to explore everything, but there is always next year. A fun time was had by all! I can't wait to go back to Waynesville for the Christmas in Waynesville event. It is a charming town with charming traditions.





©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorized use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Garden Update


Every year I say, "Well there is always next year" when something in the garden is disappointing. This year the disappointing factor was me. To be honest most of the time it is me. Or I am a contributing factor. This year, I have been having some health issues, that combined with the 100°F weather or monsoon type rains, and I had to stay frequently indoors.



 My garden is overgrown with sprawling tomato plants and twining morning glories. Despite the straw in the garden, the weeds secured a strong hold as well. The tomato cages bent under the weight of the fruit filled vines. Sadly  quite a few were tossed into the compost pile due to being overripe, there was hornworm damage, the low hanging tomatoes had nibble marks and the top of plant tomatoes had been pecked by birds.

We may go back  out over the next week to gather the rest of the peppers but by and large everything is on the decline. Squash bugs overtook the east part of the garden. The hubbs and I are taking a few "staycation" days later this month and we will used those days to clean up the garden. Once everything is cleaned up, we paying to have the plot plowed and a load of manure turned in. I am undecided if we will overseed with a cover crop (ryegrass) or cover it with straw.

Regardless, I still managed to pull in quite a haul. I had to used my garden dump cart to harvest everything. And all the critterdom will celebrate tonight, as the gate to the garden is open and they can feast upon what remains.


Assembly line for prepping the tomatoes (27 pounds!)


I worked in batches to blanch, peel, remove any less than desirable spots and placed everything in ziploc bags. I put the ziploc bags over ice in the cooler until I have time on Monday  to start making sauce and salsa.  Not pictured--but I have jalapeno's  ready to make a small batch of candied jalapenos. 


I am kind of tired now, haha


©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorised use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Stuff

I could have sworn I had written a post about this. Apparently I forgot to tell y'all, but I have new appliances. Well, a  new stove and dishwasher. The refrigerator will be soon--not soon enough though! My sister moved into a condo with white appliances and she had a brand new black refrigerator that didn't sell with her house. The builder wouldn't switch the appliances to black, so we bought them from her (mid July).  This is the first time in all the years the hubbs and I have been together, that I have kitchen appliances never used by anyone else. They aren't fancy but I really like how the  white appliances provide an uninterrupted visual line with the  white cabinets in my kitchen.



The new stove is a glass top. Aesthetically it is beautiful, all shiny and clean lines. Although the OCD me freaks out at all the smudges, smears and spots. A big reason as to why I don't have stainless steel appliances. Such a big difference from the old (and I do mean old, >20 yrs) coil top electric stove.  I love the oven, because it has convection capability. It has been a slight learning curve using the glass top. I really wanted a gas cooktop but, oh well, that is a someday dream.


One thing I found out about using a glass top is all cookware needs to be smooth bottomed.  My 21 quart waterbath canner has a concave bottom. It is one of those old speckled enamelware pots. We found it tucked in the very back of the kitchen cabinet when we bought our house in 2000. Who knows how long it had been in use prior to that. The previous owners lived here for 55 yrs. So it  was time to retire the old water bath canner.

Our date day this past Saturday was to Rural King (the romance is real). Long story short, I was going to pass on the canner I found because of the price but the hubbs strong armed me into buying it. It was kinda pricey ($79.99) but then I found it normally retails for $100. So now I have a very sturdy, flat bottomed, stainless steel water bath canner. Bonus is the canning rack from the old canner fits the new one. And wow wee does this hold the heat!  My favorite thing with the new canner is the clear lid so I can see what is going on with my jars.

So shiny!
 I already  broke it in canning salsa. I had a really good harvest of tomatoes this weekend. So I put the new waterbath canner to good use. I canned 9 pints of salsa and ended up with 2 & 3/4 quarts of a beautiful red sauce.

8 lbs of nekkid tomatoes, with another 11 lbs to go for sauce
Salsa in progress of cooking down and of course-a taste test

This sauce was AMAZING! I used fresh herbs from my garden-basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. I seasoned with some salt, pepper, minced garlic and onion. OOOHWEEE, so good!


So far the new water bath canner (and stove) seem to be going well. I have, possibly an irrational fear, I am going to ruin or break my stove. By scratching it or dropping something.

Or break it because of too much weight--which is why I have not yet used the pressure canner on the glass cooktop.

Because we have all seen the pressure canner/ glass cooktop fiasco on Snopes, right?


Yeah, so I am kind of petrified... I mean imagine all the weight of the pressure canner, filled with quart jars...

Does anyone out there use their glass cooktop to pressure can?  I really need advice.

©My Cozy Little Farmhouse 2009-current. Unauthorised use and/ or duplication without written permission from blog author/ owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided acknowledgement is given to My Cozy Little Farmhouse, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Great Garage Clean Out

Or an alternate title..."how to not be a hoarder." Which by the looks of things we are...um, errr..were..are trying to not be!

I don't have any before pics to share because it was bad. Oh so bad!

4th of July weekend, I decided to take advantage of the cool, rainy weather-combined with the fact the hubbs was gone for the day to attack the hoard pile. Here is the de-crappifying in progress. My kid came to help, otherwise I may not have survived.

We sorted into to trash (I ran out of garbage cans), stuff for the scrapper to pick up, a small section of donate and and a small section of keep.  The trash portion took 4 weeks to dispose of all the stuff completely. I am STILL waiting on the scrapper to stop by. And every week I have taken a small donation to Goodwill on my way to the grocery, so it was manageable for me.



Unbeknownst to the hubbs, I plan on completely reorganizing the garage. Where to go for inspiration? Why, PINTEREST of course!

Compact, swing out storage for plywood and drywall.

Popular Woodworking
Overhead lattice to store pvc pipe, copper pipe, or any lightweight length of building materials

Source
Organized storage for all the cordless drills, batteries and chargers

Source

Organize his fishing poles from this


to this

Source
You would think the hoarding issue would have been the main reason I was motivated to clean the garage. Sadly, no. The real reason was this small jail cell looking space (assuming this is what jail cell's look like). The hubbs uttered the words, "well if you clean it out you can have it", in response to my idea for the space. Haha-- the fool. He didn't think I would clean it out. He was wrong!

This is the secret new project! Perhaps not a complete secret. It still needs a lot of work before I can reveal what purpose this room will serve.  The rest of the stuff needs moved.  Some electrical needs moved. We need to frame and add insulation, drywall, etc...


Here is a mock up for the garage reorganization. When this is completed we will actually be able to use the garage for it's intended purpose  and park a car in the garage bay.

I have to say it feels good to have a project. Well, a project to divert my attention from all the other projects I don't want to do, haha. And it feels good to get rid of so much unnecessary stuff.  We will have more funds this month, because we recently refinanced the house and did some debt consolidation.  Hopefully ALL of the outstanding projects will soon be addressed since our money woes are now a thing of the past. Life is very good my friends. 

Anyone else have super secret project or de-crappify their house?


Sunday, July 24, 2016

2016 International Can-It-Forward Day

July 22, 2016 was the 6th annual International Can It Forward Day! 

The Can It Forward tradition began as a way to share the joy of canning. You don't have to be a foodie, a gardener or a canner to participate or enjoy the "fruits" of labor.  

The last few years have seen a resurgence in the art of home canning and food preservation. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn. Whether it is to continue a family tradition, to have better control of your food chain or you simply want to learn to make sauce from a bounty of garden tomatoes, there are plenty of resources from which one can use.

In honor of Can It Forward, the following sites posted recipes or hosted videos.




My contribution to Can it Forward was one of my favorite recipes, 2 day Zesty Zucchini relish. This is one of the first 3 recipes I learned to can when I took my canning boot-camp. If you do a search on the "interweb" as the hubbs likes to call it, you will find quite a few variations of zucchini relish. Mine is a 4-2-1 ratio recipe and is somewhat similar to the Ball recipe. But of course I have to tweak it and put my own stamp on the recipe.

Supplies
9-10 half pint jars
rings
lids
water bath canner
funnel
magnetic wand for lids
paper towels
heavy kitchen towels
heavy baking sheet
colander
ladle
non-reactive stock pot
small saucepan or tea kettle of hot water to activate rings
measuring cups/ spoons
sharp knife
1 or 2 gallon Ziploc bags

Ingredients
8 cups cubed zucchini 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups diced onion
1 cup of diced red pepper
6 tablespoons of canning salt
2 & 2/3 cups apple cider vinegar, natural, No caramel coloring added
2 cups of firmly packed brown sugar
1 &1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 level teaspoons of dry powdered mustard
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 and 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice  (I pick out the cinnamon stick if using store bought)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon shredded horseradish

DIRECTIONS
DAY 1:Clean, destem and remove bad spots from all vegetables.
Dice all vegetables into 1/2 inch cubes.
Place diced, rinsed vegetables into a large ziploc bag with canning salt.
Cover with enough cool water to cover.
Store in refrigerator overnight.


DAY2: Assemble canning supplies
Wash jars, rings, ladle and funnel.
place jars on a heavy duty tray in a preheated oven (mine is digital so I set it to 215°F)
Fill water bath canner with the correct volume of water, so it will cover the the jars by 1-2 inches. Bring to boil and hold temperature steady.
Drain and rinse vegetables. Press to remove as much water as possible.
In a separate, non-reactive stock pot-Combine Vinegar, brown sugar, spices. Bring to a slow boil.
Add the vegetables to the vinegar solution. Bring to a rapid boil, stir and cook for 7 minutes.
Remove jars from oven


Remove from heat and ladle into the hot jars.
Break up any air pockets and leave 1/2 inch headspace.
Use a paper towel dipped in hot water (remove excess water) to wipe the rim of the jar.
Remove lids from hot water bath, tap off excess water and apply rings finger tight.
Process in the water bath for 10 minutes. (Time begins when water has resumed rapid boil)
I did small batch canning, processing 4 jars at a time. I recently installed a glass cooktop, so I am nervous about the weight of the canner.
At the end of the 10 minutes, removes the jars carefully and place on folded towels in a draft free location.
You will hear the sound of success almost immediately--the metallic ping as the lids pop close.
Leave the jars undisturbed until completely cooled. Check the lid for flex--there shouldn't be any!
If the jars failed to seal, place in the refrigerator immediately and use within 2 weeks.
Otherwise remove the rings, wipe down the jars, label and then enjoy.
This recipe makes 8 full half pint jars and a 3/4  half pint jar which is my "taste jar".  I don't process the taste jar, it goes directly to the refrigerator.
Properly canned, this is shelf stable for a year. Not that it lasts that long!


My favorite use of this relish is in chicken, egg, potato or macaroni salads. Sometimes just a spoonful by itself, too.

**DISCLAIMER** I am not a professional or expert canner. Any recipe and instructions posted on this blog is for informational purposes only and does not serve as a legal liability. Please refer to to your local state extension office for help and always follow proper canning protocol.
When in doubt--Throw it out!



Monday, July 11, 2016

Freaking Fracking Rabbits!

Ehhrrrmmeeehhggaawwddd! 

The freaking, fracking, rabbits are eating through my fence. Two weeks. Two stinking weeks I have had my fence and there are FIVE patches. 

You realize of course, this means war!

I have already decided next year, I am building a hardware cloth enclosure. And I am electrifying it!

At least the deer have only left paw prints and a few, umm... presents near the garden perimeter.

In my ongoing quest for critter deterrent, we have nearly tried just about everything around the perimeter or inside the garden.

Chunks of Irish Spring
Animal urine (dogs)
Coffee Grounds
Bone Meal
Blood Meal
Fabric sheet sachets (to hold human hair or pet fur)
Mylar strips
Aluminum pie pans
a scarecrow
a plastic owl
I even had the hubbs get tanked and pee around the garden.

Except the critters keep coming. Apparently I grow really good stuff, man. HAHA

Off came the gardening gloves. No more Ms. Nice Gardner.  It's on like donkey kong.

I ponied up the money for Liquid Fence brand  Deer and Rabbit deterrent. It is eco friendly.  The ingredients are  "Putrescent Egg Solids, Garlic Powder, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Water". 

This stuff is rank! I accidently got some on my clothes and thought I would need to burn them. It actually washed out just fine. Once it dries it is barely discernable to the human sense of smell. The dogs found it quite interesting though.

Yes- I could have DIY'ed a similar batch  but I didn't want my house to reek. That is most definitely a cook it outside kind of smell. And I wanted instant gratification because I was mad as hell.

Last night I sprayed the outside and inside perimeter of the garden, all the raised beds, around the grape arbor, around my remaining peach tree and just to be a jerk around the compost bin. The idea is this is supposed to mimic decay/ decomposition and the critters will think predator activity is nearby. All the reviews tended to give a high ratings. Although one review said it may draw in  some confused turkey vultures. Oh joy.

There didn't appear to be any additional perimeter breach. We also had a monster bonfire last night. So I am not sure if the liquid fence worked or if the fire/smoke scared the critters away.


Look at my delicious little lovelies...NO FREELOADING CRITTERS are touching these!
How about you? Are you doing battle with critters?


Sunday, July 3, 2016

No time for housework, I have a garden to tend!

Remember when I was wishing and hoping


And complaining I had the 3 stooges of seedlings

And some stuff was way overgrown and out of control


And everything was all muckety muck


But I persevered. Slowly bringing the garden back to life. I cleaned out the weeds. SO MANY WEEDS!  I added bird netting and a small section of plastic fence to protect the strawberries.


I planted some blueberries plants (AGAIN!) and used a pair of folding trellis draped with  bird netting


I tried using bird netting to protect the blackberries but it was a big ol' tangled mess.


There had to be a better way.  I made a berry hut. It has some design flaws. This is the first edition. I will post more about it later.



I installed 110 feet of plastic fencing. I would have preferred to install a stronger fence but budget wise this is what I could afford. Maybe next year...



And I made an ugly, pantless scarecrow. HAHA, I used a nylon chinese lantern for the head and I stuffed the body with plastic bags.

Why yes, my scarecrow IS holding a pin-wheel.
Then I upgraded the ugly pink head to the Bird-Be-Gone Scary Eyes which I bought at Rural King. It is rather frightening in appearance. The eyes are reflective. 

I have my eyes on you!
And I mulched every last damn inch of raised beds and the veggie plot. I used pine chips for the blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb and black berries, since they are all prefer slightly more acidic soil. FirstMan from Two Men and a Little Farm gave me the idea for bagged straw bales, where I used every where else. 

Don't mind the weeds around the raised beds. I need to lift the bird netting to do weed control.

I even added a small flower patch inside the veggie plot. I hope these flowers will draw pollinators to the garden.

I added a cute little rain gauge and a few solar lights on the inside perimeter of the fenced plot.
So...whatcha think? I am absolutely in love with my garden this year :)