Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the Moment


I often think about things I’d love to blog about, a project I am doing, a good recipe share, cool projects my boy is working on, my life enthralling thought of the day…yet it often never materializes.  Life is busy and although I find this space to be therapeutic it is just not one of those life sustaining tasks I must complete, kinda like folding socks.  Not happening as of lately!

A couple weeks back I was sipping some of Maine Man’s homemade brew with a friend and she said, “I know what your can blog about, do a post on some of the struggles you’ve had lately, how life isn’t always grand, about being stuck in the sandwich generation.”

After she left I thought she is right, it is a post so many could relate to.  She too has her struggles while raising four young children in addition to  managing the care of her two ailing parents.


MM & I have been care- taking to some degree now for well over 4 years.  Started with some neighbors and now we are managing the care of a few close relatives in addition to raising our children, working, and tending this  small farm with the never ending to-do list.

It is no place you even envision yourself especially when you are young.  I alway pictured us raising our children then helping our parents as they advance in their age.  NOT!  If there is one thing I have learned in life is that LIFE will never go as you have planned!   But some how you have to learn to roll with it and have faith that everything will work out eventually despite the hardships and struggles you go through along the way.


Now more then ever I find myself more present in the moment.  Not in everything I do but most noticeably when doing chores.  I was just telling my Dad last night that I use to despise housework for a good many years, in particular dishes and laundry.   Now I find it therapeutic.  Weird, but true!  Just something about the rhythmic, repetitive nature of it.  The zone time to think and process all that life has in store for you.


I have no doubt that someday I will look back at it all and have no regrets for the sacrifices we have made to help others but regardless there are a good many days I struggle to keep my sanity.  Life is not without challenges and in these trying times is when we do our most significant personal reflection and spiritual growth.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Perception is your reality


If there is one thing I cannot stand it is negativity!  Shit, I bitch here and there about stuff but not right steady.  And generally when I have issues my wheels are always turning to formulate a plan to fix the problem.
Tonight into tomorrow we have more snow coming.  The shelves in the local supermarkets have been cleared clean of bread and milk and people just can’t stop complaining about the fact we are getting more snow.  Ummm…it’s winter in MAINE…WTF?  Yes we have had a lot lately but we didn’t have shit in December & January if I recall.  No matter how much white stuff we have Spring is still quickly approaching.  We are bound to have warmer days ahead!
Country Boy recently hatched out some chicks, although a bit too early for those little tweeters, their existence always gives you a glimmer of hope. The wood pile is getting low so that to proves that things are about to change or we are going to freeze….lol.  It won’t be long and we will be gathering our tapping supplies and boiling down sap.  Stocking our shelves with natures liquid gold.
So in effort to keep a positive light I may dig through my photo archives and share some summertime photos.   But I might sneak one winter post in for my Florida friends as proof.  Maine Man just started a batch of his famous “hard tea” so I foresee a post coming real soon on that too.  So stay tuned we are still kicking in this neck of the woods…..

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I may suck at being a faithful blogger as of lately, but some day life may simmer down and I’ll do better. Right now it’s all about prioritizing.  Regardless this is good little saying I came across today.  I found it while cleaning out my friend’s house a couple years back.  I also wanted to share a few pictures from a recent trip to Florida.


Attitude….The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, church, or home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past.  We cannot change that people will act a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.

—Charles Swindoll


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Making Broth



On a regular basis I make soup broth. Currently I have a pot simmering on my 1960′s countertop with a couple quarts in the fridge from last weekend waiting to be made of. We are a soup family regardless of the time of day or season.  I wrote a post about making broth back in 2010 but since then the topic has been brought up time and time again with friends. I am often surprised at how many people have never considered making this simple concoction.  With that said along with my passion for home cooking I felt the need to write about it once again.
I make chicken broth more often then any other type of broth.  Beef & vegetable broth I make occasionally. There is no need to follow a recipe.  I usually cook it in a crock pot  anywhere from 7 to 24 hours on low depending on my mood needs.
Anytime we eat meat with a bone, mostly chicken I throw the carcass in a bag into the freezer.  Same goes for any extra veggies you may have. You can even go as far as saving carrot peelings, celery ends, and potato peels.
This will take like 5 minutes to whip up and then the crock will do the rest of the work….
  • Place chicken carcass in crock pot
  • Fill with water leaving a little space for veggies/herbs
  • Splash (1/4 – 1/2 cup) of vinegar, I have also heard white wine, lemon or anything acidic.  It helps to sap the nutrients and minerals out of the bones.
  • Add an onion, couple carrots, couple celery stalks, garlic if your feeling adventurous
  • Couple bay leaves, several peppercorns, sprinkle of kosher salt, and if desired whatever herbs are handy (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary).  I usually throw in 1 or two herbs, whatever is in season or dried.
  • Cook, cool, strain, use for soups, gravies, whatever your heart desires or store for future use.  It also freezes well.

*Modifications…for beef broth use beef bone, for vegetable broth I don’t use vinegar and I use a wider variety of vegetables, whatever left overs I have  fresh or frozen including but not limited to potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes.

It’s a fairly simple process.  I encourage everyone to try it at least once and compare it side by to store- bought stock.  Pretty sure you’ll be done with buying broth other then for back up stash in your cupboards.  That’s all it took to covert me a few years back.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Basic Wine Making ~ So fine Homeade Wine by MM


A couple years ago Kim and I attended a basic wine making class at the Common Ground Fair.  A large, bearded gentleman in a jean jacket stood before the crowd with a five gallon bucket in hand and said, “I’m going to keep this real simple!”  Since then we have had a great deal of fun with the skills learned that day.  We give wine for gifts, bring it to holiday gatherings, bbqs, and parties.

We’ve also utilized wine for bartering as well.  Exchanging for goods as well as pay back for good deeds done.  Plus it’s just plain old satisfying to sit down and enjoy an ice cold glass of relaxation that you created yourself.

To get started you’ll need an air tight container with an air lock.   We use a multitude of different containers including 5 gallon buckets, jugs, jars, and carbouy’s.  The air lock is just a water chamber that keeps air from entering the wine and lets the gasses out.  Clean all containers including bottles with bleach and water.  Rinse well!!


We have made a great deal of apple, strawberry, and blueberry wine as well as a multitude of other fruity flavors, too many to mention.  I start by soaking roughly 1.5 gals of fruit in roughly 3 to 4 gals of water, mash it a bit and let it set in a cool place a couple of days to absorb the flavor. A refrigerator is the best bet or set it outside if it’s cool enough.  Basically your making a fruit infused water.   Next I strain off the fruit and add 10lbs of sugar and 1  tablespoon of yeast to the juice or fruit water.  Sometimes I use bread yeast and sometimes I use  a packet of wine yeast.  Both work fine however the wine yeast is a bit more user friendly.  It forms a hard layer when it drops out of suspension.   If you start with a fruit juice make sure it does not contain preservatives, which could stop the yeast from working.  This recipe will not work with grapes so don’t try it, just trust me on that!!


We’ve also fermented tea and lemonade adding a bit of ginger which was a big hit with the ladies.  I’ll do a post on that at another time.

70 degrees is the preferred temperature for fermentation to occur so find an area in your home that is closest to that if possible.  It is not an exact science so don’t overthink it, we don’t and we are able to pull it off.  We live in an old farmhouse and the temperatures can vary room to room by 20 degrees in the winter.  The beauty and curse of wood heat.

The magic begins in 2 days.  The yeast grow and consume the sugar creating a byproduct of alcohol and CO2.  Place the container out of direct sunlight and it will make a wonderful bubbling noise until the sugar is gone or the alcohol content is too high for the yeast to survive.  They die and fall to the bottom in roughly 8 weeks give or take a few weeks.
Lastly, siphon it into sterilized wine bottles or mason jars.  Pour over ice & enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

No Can Pickles, Margaritas, Guns...heck ya!



Like most people I love pickles! I have canned them many times before. However, last year my pickles were an epic failure! I overcooked them or something because they came out way too soggy…..beyond edible.  Anyone that cans knows how bad that sucks.  Lots of work was put into growing those babies from seed, tending the endless amounts of weeds and insects trying to steal your precious goods, picking, cleaning, canning.  Damn!  Well this year my cucumbers did not do well and regardless I was stuck in Florida in the prime of Maine’s canning season.  Thankfully I was home in time to put up my favorite crop, tomatoes.  I was fortunate enough to make up lots of spaghetti sauce, canning some and freezing the last of it as that is the  lazy easy way out.

I like canning but honestly I’m all about making life easier!  Making this type of pickles is a tangible goal for anyone especially if someone gifts you the cucumbers. 10 minutes top to delicious pickles the whole family will enjoy…I promise!
This will make a half gallon
  • 4 1/2 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of vinegar
  • 1/8 cup & 1 tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3-4 dill sprigs (or whatever you want I tend to use more)
  • couple cloves of garlic
  • several pickling cucumbers washed and sliced lengthwise
Mix first 4 ingredients, bring to boil, cool til warm and place in jar with remaining ingredients.  Cover with something breathable like cheese cloth or a tea towel for 3 days then refrigerate.

The first 2 batches I made NEVER made it to the fridge, we devoured them starting the day after I made them.  Batch 3 that Maine Man made has been in the fridge a couple weeks and are still very tasty.  Not sure what the shelf life is on these but I will definitely figure that out next garden season!

My kids are fortunate to have a good Papa that takes time out to teach them real life skills.

Practicing up so she can beat the boys!
 This is her third year she is able to go out hunting with her Dad.IMG_9832
On a final note I want to share with you a tried and true margarita recipe
This only makes a small amount but if you need, there are lots of conversion charts.
  • salt for rimming the glass
  • 1 1/2ounces tequila (blanco, 100% agave)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau (not Triple Sec)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Catching Up....



In the past I used to like to blog late in the evening when all was quite on the homestead.  Now it seems I can barely stay awake much past 9 pm.  Even though I have not put a lot of time in this space I do give it a lot of thought on a fairly regular basis.  I find I especially think about what I could write about or what I would love to share when I am in the midst of doing mindless jobs around the farm…. mowing, weeding, stacking wood. Then nightfall comes and the only thing I care to do after cleaning up is spending time with my family or curling up to good book. Days….well they are jammed packed between the kids and the other family commitments I currently have.  Any hoo…here I am.

The most recent book that I completed and thoroughly enjoyed is A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist.  It was a quick, easy, inspiring read.  It can be purchased on the website I have attached to the title.  I was fortunate enough to buy the book directly from the author at the Common Ground fair where I listened to her speak.  I admire what she and her husband do yet it the same breath I do not envy their lifestyle as I have a pretty good idea of the work and sacrifices it entails. I am pretty content just doing the semi-homesteading thing we do right here.  Never the less she has made me realize I too could write a book (has been a long-time goal of mine) and she has perked my interest in learning more about fermenting food.  I initially had planned to share a no-canning pickle recipe I recently concocted not once but twice but due to internet glitches that will have to wait to a later date.

Annabelle is the first calf to be born to our farm.  Being the novice farmers we are we estimated her birth date way before she actually made an appearance into the world.  Did you know a Momma cow is pregnant for 9 months just like humans?  Poor ole girl!  Annabelle was delivered by Maine Man, Country Boy, and a neighbor.  She was a biggin’ weighing an estimated 100+ lbs requiring a little assistant to make her debut.  It meant a lot to us that we had a female as she was born to Lily May our big Hereford that was gifted to us by our farmer friend.  Now we know his legacy will live on!