Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Adventures!

So it's been a while since I've blogged here, but with VERY good reason... I've been using the time I would normally Blog to research and learn about two new adventures we're planning for this coming spring. This year I made a vow (one of my"New Year's Intentions" for this year) to stop waiting for "someday" to do the things I want to do, because, unfortunately, sometimes "someday" never comes. So, I'm making these things a priority, and making them happen now.

I am taking our little Suburban Homestead to the next level. Later this month, we're going to tap our maple trees and do our own Maple Sugaring, and when the weather warms up more, around April or May, we're going to start our very first beehive! These are two things I've always wanted to try, but just never really had the time.

Our Maple Sugaring Supplies have arrived!
Spiles, tubing and food-grade buckets. 
So how am I learning about this stuff? Well, maple sugaring has been pretty easy for us, as we've been on many educational tours at several maple farms, plus our neighbors have been sugaring for years, and we have learned a lot from them. I've also been studying up by reading books and watching YouTube videos on the subject.

Some beekeeping books
Beekeeping is quite a bit more complicated! I did sign up for a beekeeping course at a local Beekeeper's Association, but unfortunately the class filled up quickly, and I did not get a spot. I'm not giving up, though! I spend an hour or so each day reading beekeeping books I've gotten our of the library, as well as reading beekeeping forums and watching videos online. I'm lucky to know several local beekeepers, so I definitely have many mentors available, which also helps!

So that's what I've been up to. It's been nice to have something positive to focus on, while we continue to be bombarded with SNOW and absurdly frigid temperatures here in the Northeast. It's really been ridiculous... unlike anything I've experienced before. It's a bit overwhelming and discouraging, to say the least.

The end is in sight, however... according to the extended forecast, we're expected to start having warmer temps next weekend, which means it will be a good time to tap our maple trees and start waiting for the sap to flow! Of course, I will be documenting our progress here, so come back again, if you'd like to find out how it's going!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Garlic Bread" Crust Pizza

It's been AGES since I've done a "Pizza Post" but last night's pizza was so yummy (if I do say so myself!) that I felt it needed to be shared.

Like many of my favorite recipes, this one started out as a mistake. I had planned on making a pizza with pesto and sundried tomatoes, because pesto and sundried tomatoes are the best combination ever. But when I went to my freezer to get some pesto, I realized our winter supply was all gone. Boo. I wasn't really in the mood for sauce, since I REALLY had nice, garlicky pesto on my mind. So it was time to improvise! I minced up several cloves of garlic, along with some herbs and a little bit of salt and plenty of olive oil. I spread it all over my stretched out crust, much like one would do for garlic bread. So essentially the crust of this pizza was garlic bread. And yes, it was as delicious as it sounds like it would be.

Here's how it came together:

The dough... spread with a mixture of olive oil,
minced garlic, herbs and a pinch of salt. 

A layer of "Cheese" (I used Daiya shreds, but if you're not
vegan you can use regular mozzerella cheese)

Red onion, red pepper, spinach and sundried tomatoes
(I sauteed the peppers and onions first, and wilted the spinach)

Another layer of "cheese"

Finished pizza... so good! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Thoughts on Laundry...

There are certain things in this life that are constant. The sun will always rise in the east and set in the west, you have to pay taxes, and there will always be LAUNDRY.

We all have laundry to do, and it’s never ~really~ done. This used to be something that really stressed me out. I hated that there was never an end… it just kept coming. I’d empty the hampers, and the next morning they’d be filling up again. But over the years I’ve learned to make peace with laundry. I’ve figured out laundry routines that make this task more manageable and less stressful. At this point in my life, I actually don’t even mind doing laundry that much. Crazy? Not really. Here’s how I’ve simplified my laundry routines.

1.       I changed my attitude about laundry. There is no way around doing laundry, unless you can afford to have someone else do it for you (which I can’t) so at some point I figured I might as well try to look for something positive in doing laundry. It’s nice to have closets and drawers filled with fresh, clean, neatly folded and hung laundry. Doing laundry for my family means that we’ll all have those nice clean clothes when we need them, and we won’t be scrambling around the house looking for a pair of clean socks.

2.       I stay on top of it. When you go days without doing laundry, you end up with giant mountains of dirty clothes, which just feels completely overwhelming, and ends up taking forever to do. I find it so much easier to do a little bit of laundry every day, rather than let it pile up. Most days, I only have two loads to do, sometimes three. I try to get the first load in first thing in the morning, so it can be going while I’m cleaning up breakfast and getting started on the day.

3.       I finish, everyday. I like to finish things. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to check things off my “to do” list. With laundry, that can be tricky, but with only a couple of loads to do each day, it’s actually doable to see each day’s laundry through to completion. I make sure that every evening before I go to bed, the last load of wash for that day is finished and folded.

4.       I have a plan for “extra” laundry. When it’s time to wash bedding and stuff, it can add significantly to the amount of laundry to be done. To keep it from getting overwhelming, I stagger the days I change the sheets on the beds. This only adds a load or two onto my regular wash for the day, so it’s totally manageable.

5.       I made my laundry area a nicer place to be. Recently, I spruced up my laundry area, and it’s now it’s much cleaner and prettier. While I still don’t exactly love doing laundry, having a nicer space to be in while I’m washing and folding DOES make a big difference in my attitude.

This past week we had a plumbing issue, which left me unable to do laundry for several days. As I slogged my way through the backlog of dirty clothes, I was thinking about how I have come to take my laundry routines for granted. Not being able to use our washer for a few days was certainly quite inconvenient, but it could have been worse. Since my laundry was all caught up when the issue occurred, I only had to deal with laundry from the days the washer was out of commission. It would have been much worse if I already had a backlog when the things went on the fritz. In just two days, I managed to have everything caught up.

*NOTE:  I realize that not everyone has a washer and dryer at home, and I’m VERY grateful that I do, as that has not always been the case.  It wasn’t such a big deal when I was a single person, but there was a time when I had a 6-year-old, a five-year-old and a two-year-old, and NO washer and dryer for several months. That was a pretty miserable experience.  Let me tell you, schlepping laundry for a family of five to a laundromat with three little ones twice a week is no easy feat. That experience definitely made me appreciate how easy I have it now! To those of you who are doing laundry for a family at the Laundromat, I bow to you, because that is HARD. Blessings to you! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Indoor Garden, Update!

Our backyard, this morning. Much more
snow has fallen since this was taken!
Would you believe we're having ANOTHER snow day today? We've already gotten about a foot of snow so far, and it's still falling. This is on top of the nearly two feet we got last week! While I always enjoy a day off from our regularly scheduled life, all this snow ~is~ getting a bit tedious. The worst part is that there's no place to put it! The snowbanks are so high! I will admit, that while might be inconvenient, it is very pretty.

So back in the fall, I talked about starting up an indoor garden.  Since we're home with the snow day, it seemed a good time to post an update on how this project was going. We have several places around the house where we're "Gardening" this winter. The main indoor garden area is in the basement:
Our basement "Garden"... potatoes, greens, peppers
(and some gardening supplies)

It's not pretty, but it works! We've got potatoes, greens, and peppers growing down here, at the moment.The grow light is the key to this whole setup. We tried growing potatoes once before. They sprouted fine, but the potatoes were teeny-tiny. I have heard that you do need good light to get good potatoes, so hopefully this year's crop will be better, now that we have the grow light.
Potato Shoots!
Arugula sprouts! We've been growing some nice
baby greens for salads: arugula and spinach.

In addition to the basement garden, we've also got a few things growing upstairs in the kitchen. On our big kitchen windowsill, we've had a potted herb garden, however that one has been a struggle, as the cats keep digging them up. I can't even take a photo of those right now, because currently all the pots are empty. Boo.

But then we also have this:
Did you know that you can re-grow scallions? Next time you pick up some scallions at the market,
try this: Cut off the green parts for your cooking, like you normally would. But don't throw away the root part! Place them roots down in a small jar, with about a half inch of water. In just a few days, they'll start sprouting up! You can just keep cutting off the tops, and they'll keep growing. How cool is that?! 

Since we've still got a good two months before I can even think about growing anything outside, I'm thinking about adding a few more things to our indoor garden. Since the scallions did so well, I'm thinking of trying leeks. I'm also thinking of trying some indoor carrots. As always, I'll post progress as it happens!

Meanwhile... stay warm and dry, friends!