Monday, December 31, 2007

I finally did it!

One more accomplishment for 2007. For over 6 months I've had the goal of making a totally handmade, local pizza. I've been making my own dough for a long time, I made my own sauce in August and canned it, but have been held up on making my own cheese. I've tried to make mozarella 2 other times and it wasn't succesful. The first time I ended up with ricotta instead of mozarella, the curds just never formed up. The second time I got the right curds but when the cheese was hot enough to knead and stretch it was too hot for me to handle, so the cheese never really formed right.

So, I got some Playtex rubber gloves and tried again. This time success! It really is easy to make if you have good gloves and use enough rennet to get the curds to form. I used whey in the pizza dough and wow! is that a great addition. I'm going to make some bread with the rest of the whey.

Here is my totally handmade, local pizza before going into the oven. I was even able to grate the mozarella to put on the pizza, I don't like big chunks of cheese on pizza. Here it is cooked, it was delicious!
I'm so excited to have finally accomplished this!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 in review

I'm feeling the need to list the progress we've made in 2007 toward living a more sustainable life-style. My eventual goal is to be mostly self-sufficient, this is still many years away.

Things I learned in 2007:

  • Sewing, including zippers and pockets. I still need to learn to do buttons. I can do elastic waist pants and T shirts with no problem. Since this is all Logan wears, I'm pretty set on making all his clothes.

  • Hot-water canning

  • Jam making

  • Bread making

  • Knitting

  • Composting, including worm composting

  • Seed saving

  • Growing a much wider variety of veggies

    • Changes I made in 2007 to live friendlier to the Earth:
    • Joined a CSA

    • Shopped at the farm market each week

    • Ate at least 1 local meal a week since May

    • Turned AC up to 80

    • Turned heat down to 67 during the day, 55 at night

    • Composted

    • Switched to reusable menstrual pads

    • Made more of our bread and bought less

    • Used our solar oven, that we made, in the summer to cook

    • Grew and preserved a lot of veggies

    • Used the library a lot more instead of buying books like I did in the past

    • Got more active politically in causes I care about

    • Volunteered at a cat adoption center and as a habitat steward

    • Expanded my butterfly garden

    • Stopped buying convenience foods and started cooking every night

    • Stopped eating fast food (mostly)

    • Quit drinking Diet Coke (again, mostly, still working on this but down to 1 or less a week)

    • Changed all light bulbs to CFLs and am much better about turning off lights in rooms we aren't using

    • Found local sources for all animal products that we consume

    • Reduced consumption (still working on this, yarn and fabric are my weaknesses)

    • Bring my own bags when shopping

    • Set up rain barrel to harvest rain water, used this to water garden all summer

    • Collected shower water for watering

    • Switched to cold water for washing all laundry

    • Used a drying rake to dry some of our laundry (when we move and get a clothes line, I'll do more of this)

    • Cancelled most catalogs I was getting (this was over 30!)

    • Put up a mason bee house, a ladybug house, and many bird houses

    • Switched all cleaners and soaps to natural products
    • DDW - Week 11

      This quick, easy, LOCAL meal made the work in August so worth it! This week we had spaghetti with sauce I made and canned in August.

      Tomatoes - my garden
      Basil - my garden
      Onions - my garden
      Spicy red peppers - my garden
      garlic - West Grove, PA - 20 miles

      Noodles - Harrisburg, PA - 110 miles

      Wednesday, December 26, 2007

      DDW - Week 10

      Huh, I just found this in my non-posted section. I thought I'd posted this last week.
      I'm posting this a few days late, but I noticed the round-up hasn't been done yet for last week so I decided to go ahead and put this up. I feel like I'm cheating using this meal as local, but being the week before Christmas it was the best I could do.

      Vegetable Indian Vindaloo curry

      Local (all under 20 miles):

      Carrots - CSA

      Brocolli - CSA

      Green peppers - CSA

      Cauliflower - CSA

      Corn - frozen this summer

      Very much not local:



      My next meal will be better.

      Farm expansion

      We expanded our farm for Christmas and moved it to a permanent location. Here is the overview of the whole farm.

      Here is a close up of our animal area. Notice the animals are all very friendly and come right up to us. We added Logan to the farm and hope to add Mark at a future date. Maybe he will bring us a tractor?
      Here is the barn my mother in law gave me for Christmas, it is the perfect addition to the farm. And we have our vegetable garden right in front of it.
      Here is our wildlife area with a pond and some woodlands.

      All that is missing is our orchard. I'll have to find some trees to add.

      Monday, December 24, 2007

      Holiday decorations

      I thought I'd post some pictures of a few or my favorite ornaments. I really like Santas and birds.

      Woodland Santa

      Wizard Santa

      Farm Santa


      We have 4 of these pinecone ones, all with different animals coming out of them.

      If I find the time, I'll post pictures of some of the decorations around the house.

      If I don't find time, have a wonderful Christmas!

      Wednesday, December 19, 2007

      Winter flowers

      I know it isn't officially winter yet, but it sure feels like it here. I really dislike winter and tend to get depressed so I have a few blooming plants in the house to keep my spirits up.

      This amaryllis has 9 flowers on it! I've never had one get so many flowers.
      The hybiscus spends the summer outside and comes in for the winter. It always seems to like being in the house and will bloom all winter. It currently has 3 flowers on it.

      Tuesday, December 18, 2007

      Saturday, December 15, 2007

      DDW - Week 9

      This week we had breakfast burritos for dinner. We never eat these for breakfast.


      Bacon: Rumbleway Farm - 25 miles
      Eggs: Locust Point Farm - 7 miles
      Cheese: Mooo-over Cheese - 25 miles
      Whole Wheat tortillas - 85 miles
      Onions - Not local

      Wednesday, December 12, 2007

      2 types of slippers and a hat

      Here are my latest projects. I made 2 different types of slippers and a hat that rolls on the end instead of having a brim.

      Monday, December 10, 2007

      Bug-out bag

      A couple of months ago I ran across the idea of a bug-out bag (or a 72 hour kit) in a number of places all in 1 weeks time. I took this as a message that I needed to put one together. Logan and I started working on getting all the supplies together over time so the expenditure wouldn't be as large and we now have our bags complete.

      I've split the items up between 2 bags with one being much heavier than the other. I figured I'd carry the heavy one and Logan would carry the light one if Mark wasn't around, or if Mark was around he'd carry the heavy one, I'd carry the light one and Logan would be off the hook. The idea is we have to be prepared for some serious walking for 3 days time if an evacuation should become necessary. While natural disasters rarely occur in Delaware, I figure it can't hurt to be prepared and I feel better having the bags packed and ready to go should we need them.

      Here are the things in our bags:

      Water, 4 liters total
      Water filter
      Peanut butter crackers
      Clif bars
      Beef Jerkey
      Menstrual supplies
      Baking soda
      Sunscreen/bug repellent
      Hand sanitizer
      Lip balm
      Camp towel
      First aid kit
      Space blankets (1 for each)
      Hand crank flashlight/radio/emergency siren
      Rain ponchos
      Waterproof matches and lighter
      Disposible gloves
      Dust masks
      Map of area, including walking trails

      Now I need to get to work on amassing the 90 days of essential supplies that the CDC is recommending in case of a flu pandemic. They say to be prepared to not leave your house for 30-60 days if an outbreak occurs.

      Saturday, December 8, 2007

      DDW - Week 8

      This week we had a vegetable stir-fry.

      Carrots, parsnips, green peppers - CSA, Calvert Farms, 15 miles
      Brocolli - John's Farm Stand - 3 miles, frozen in September
      Corn - Lockbriar Farm, frozen in August, 46 miles

      Soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic powder - not local

      I did eat this over rice left over from a meal earlier in the week. It wasn't local, but since it was left over from another night I don't think it should count against me ;)

      Tuesday, December 4, 2007

      Too cute

      Check out what I made for Logan for Christmas! I think it is adorable. It is supposed to be a sheep, but I think the ears are a little long, but I still love it. He hasn't seen it yet, it isn't easy to make something for a child you are never apart from without them knowing what it is but I pulled it off!