24 September 2015

Fall 2015 Capsule Wardrobe

Autumn in Minnesota is a funny thing. It can be 80 degrees and then suddenly it's 50. And the nights get cooler and mornings seems to stretch into night with the dew and frost touching the ground longer. Watching the leaves change and sipping warm cider or coffee while the breeze blows is heaven. Until one day, it's 20 and you didn't realize winter was coming so early.

I seems that summer is slipping away from me at an ever increasing rate.
I've been canning up the last of the garden harvest and bringing in the winter squash for storage.
The garden will be tilled one last time and the meat chickens all slaughtered.

Now, what will I be wearing in the cooler weather?
I've got pants that seem to rotate seasons with me and a few shirts.
I keep all my long johns and swim wear together in what I call a seasonal drawer.
I bought a few new pairs of wool socks for winter. How I love wool socks!

I wanted to have more flannel shirts and warm sweaters in my closet. But, realistically I still have a few of them. I need to see how they go together.

I'm having a problem of whether I should stay with the colors that I've been using. The navy/pink/mint with purple and yellow thrown in for good measure. But, I've decided to go with a navy/red/white/mint with a touch of black  for more of a autumn feel. I'm making a red skirt from some wool that I've had for awhile with flannel pockets. :) (so cozy!)
And some red corduroy flare pants.

It's likely that the pants will not be done before I start wearing it all, but it will be a welcome addition once the chill sets in.

I've been using stylicious (a free app) to put outfits together.

22 September 2015

Downton Abbey Quilt-part 2

Well, this quilt has been tough. I did it as a challenge and it was that! 
The top squares are together and all I have left now to do is put them together in strips, make the middle and outside strips and attach all of that together. Then the top will be completed and go off to the quilter. 

On the left side you can see the fabric that tI will be using for the strips in the middle.
If you are interested in the pattern it is "Wild Rose" by Chris Hoover, All of her designs you can see here including this one and a few others that I really like.
This is a intermediate pattern and I really feel like I stretched my quilting abilities with this one. I feel really good about it so far!

This is my master bedroom. It normally looks this way, I didn't clean anything before I took this picture. I'm actually proud of my accomplishments in keeping a clean house. It's a daily struggle for me. I am working on my daily habits still. Laundry day is a success.

This is where the quilt will be going. Hopefully, you can see the reasons why I chose the colors that I did. I want it to look good in this green tea room.

I hope to have some pictures of the finished quilt up as soon as I can get the rest of it attached and off to the quilter's house.

18 September 2015

How much meat do I need for a year?

I don't think I blogged about this last year, but it's been an on going conversation with my Mom as to how I could make sure we're getting good quality meat and how much I should produce. Last year, around this time;I had ordered a quarter of a bison, a whole hog and a tenth of a bison for all ground meat later. We have not ate it all yet… 
I even gave some bison ground meat away for Christmas presents so people could try it out. 

So. many. pork chops. I’ve got the receipt for what I ordered last year and we are not going to order any more chops. We are ordering half a hog, a quarter of a bison and a lamb. 
We only have one upright freezer and the regular sized on on top of the fridge. 

Last year we had 170 lbs of bison(with both orders combined), and 278 lbs of pork. I slaughtered 3 chickens and 2 rabbits at maybe 5 lbs a piece? So, 15l bs of chicken and 10 lbs of rabbit?

But,  no deer meat. I really miss that. Although some people DH works with gave us a bag of venison burgers. I wish I could get some venison like I used to have access to back home. I think next year I’ll have to take up deer hunting. One deer would probably set us up just fine with everything else we have. 
I'd eventually like to raise my own pigs, but with what we are eating we'd only need one pig a year. I suppose I could raise 2 pigs every couple of years. 

2014 meat

170 lbs Bison
278 lbs Pork
  15 lbs Chicken
+10 lbs Rabbit
473 lbs of Meat

2015 meat (expected)

100 lbs Bison
160 lbs Pork
  60 lbs Lamb
  30 lbs Chicken
+50 lbs Rabbit
400 lbs of Meat

Hmm, after looking at it like this I might harvest less rabbits than I thought. I don't harvest that many rabbits right now because I'm still working on my breeding stock  getting regulated. I am phasing out the dutch rabbits. I sold 6 of them, enough to buy a few bags of food. Then I had another litter, 3 more little rabbits... I have 5 left. So, I guess I'll eat the other 4. One of them I'm not sure I could bear to eat. She's almost like a mascot to me now. 

Per my Mom's suggestion I tried to get it around 356 lbs. On the premise that you will have 1 lb. of meat per day. For our household that's a 1/2 lb. a person. Some days we have company and eat more, for example a roast. And some days we don't eat any at all, when we go out or have salad. I went over last year, by a lot. It’s really hard to estimate that when you have to order by the half or quarter. I don’t know how large the animal is to begin with…so half of a 300 lb hog is 150 lbs, but what if the hog is only 190 lbs? But seeing the numbers in black and white from last year will help me going forward. It created a baseline for us to work with. I think I did ask for a smaller one this year. So, we’ll see how that goes. I am excited to try out the lamb this year. We like to try something new every year. 
I’m trying luffa plants and lamb this year. HA HA, I just noticed that they both begin with the letter ‘L’.
(This blog post is brought to you by the letter 'L' and the number '2'.)

We ate maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of it? I have been buying hot dogs at the store this past year, and some sliced meats, but not too much. This year I’m going to get more brats done and see what my options are for sausages. Since we’re going to eat them anyways I need to get them with the meat that I’m buying. Plus, no nasty additives in these. I’ve found that I don’t buy too much meat at the store. Oh, and I bought a few bags of shrimp. They weren’t as good as the fresh ones back home…but what did I expect? HA HA. I miss the seafood too. Not sure how I can deal with that. Maybe I can barter with a fisherman? I really hate fishing. I fall asleep or run up and down the river bank or if I'm in a boat I just jump in cause it's so hot. 

Anyways. I’m still working on getting this down. I know last year we spent about a thousand dollars on meat. But, that’s not too bad really. That's a bit less than $84 a month. Not too bad for all the bacon, steaks and ham we can eat.

If I could do that each year and grow (almost) everything we need from the garden we’d be doing really well. Then I’d just need to figure out the grain situation. 
I’ve found that buying potatoes at the source helps a lot too. $5 for 50 lbs. They last a pretty long time. 

I do this because I want to be able to regulate the chemicals and antibiotics that are in our meat and food sources. 

As of now, we have fresh eggs, rabbit, chicken and veggies on our homestead. And I buy the pork, bison and lamb from a neighbor. Literally, down our street. 
Let me know what you think, are you doing anything to be more self sufficient or community sufficient? 

10 September 2015

Strawberry jam with a new recipe

There were more...but we couldn't stop eating them out of hand. 

DH and i picked berries together and it was such fun. (in June...)Ive never been strawberry picking, only peach picking(In August before school started again).  My Mom and I used to go picking peaches together. There aren't any good peaches up in Minnesota. They advertise them, but the ones I've bought have just been flat in my mouth. No zing the way a peach should have. That sweetness that drips down your chin and pulls your mouth into a smile as you eat it. Nope, they just don't exist here. Only in South Carolina. I know that you think Georgia produces more peaches than anywhere, but they don't. South Carolina produces more peaches, Georgia just advertises more.

I digress, strawberries. So living in a different location brings different fruits and vegetables to the dining room table. I may not be able to get sweet, fresh peaches here in Minnesota. But, the strawberries are out of this world! I've never tasted a strawberry picked right off the bush and still warm from the sun. It's a slice of heaven. I wanted to save that strawberry heaven feeling, so I decided to make... strawberry jam. And of course, no complaints from DH as it's his favorite flavor of jam! 

Making strawberry jam 

I also made some apple jelly. You can see the finished apple jelly on the left and the strawberry jam on the right. And the peanut butter that I had to buy so we could have PB&Js with all the yummy jam! 

I took this recipe from my favorite canning book. I'm sure you would love it. 
The Better homes and garden canning book. I've made almost every recipe in it and it is wonderful! 

If you can only get one book for canning I would say get the Ball book for the year and then get this one. (I know that's 2, but you can get the ball book in a set each year so it's practically free!) 
Another thing to add to my pantry/cellar that's going to be in the basement. 

I can't wait for that jam to set so I can have a sandwich and a cuppa tea. 

All in all I used about half of the box of strawberries to make 8 half pints and 1 pint plus a little bit that I didn't fill up a whole jar so it's in the fridge.  Not bad for a few hours of work I'd say!

07 September 2015

Too much

Lately I've been purging stuff. We had a garage sale at our church and I donated a lot of stuff. I saved it up in our garage for about a month. But now I'm feeling that itch again. Something has to go. I get such a high when I get rid of stuff now. I used to get that feeling when shopping, now I only go shopping for groceries, pet supplies and for some occasional special purchases. I want our house to be comfortable. I wanted to sew again but I haven't really reached the point where I'm organized enough yet.

 So I purge. You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff I've donated, tossed or recycled since I've been about 19. I always knew that I don't want to be surrounded by junk. Having lived with a lot of stuff already, I want to be able to move freely and dance in my living room if I want to...Ok with or without my DH.  Sometimes I just have to dance and sometimes my dog wants to join, how can I do things like that if I'm surrounded by clutter?

When we moved to Minnesota I thought that we had gotten rid of enough things to be comfortable. But, it turns out that I need different things to be comfortable here or it just didn't fit in the house the same way. So, out it went, to the recycling bin or to the thrift store. I try not to throw away good, usable things that someone else might be able to get more use out of still. I did sell a few things, like shoes that I bought when I worked in an office. I had to have these designer shoes...turns out that they aren't as important to me anymore. Especially since my office is sometimes muddy and I get poop on my shoes daily. (Remember that I'm a homesteader!)

We live in a stuff centered culture (Assuming that you are in the US like I am anyways. Some other cultures are the same, but for my discussion I'm talking about the US mainly.) We have too much stuff in our houses, so instead of going through it all and getting rid of what is no longer applicable to our lives and well being we keep it all and even rent a space to put the stuff we don't want to see or deal with; Some people call this a temporary measure, but I call it avoidance. Your life changes, it's OK to be finished with something and let it be used by someone else. You don't have to hang on to it forever. Let it go. (Please don't sing...) You free up mental space when you let go of physical objects too. You can free the stress in your life as well. You may not realize that all the junk that you own is owning you right back. It weighs you down and can make you heavy-I mean overweight. I know several people who have lost weight by decluttering their lives. Not to mention that it isn't for the weak or weary. But you may feel that way at first.
Be intentional about your things.

If you don't know where to start than start with the trash. Take out the trash in the bin and then walk around with a new trash bag and throw away things that are laying around the room. It will look better even if you only get one piece of trash picked up.

Then go through something easy like....your car, your purse, or one junk drawer. You could even try to go through something and set a goal of getting rid of 5 items from a room. I do this all the time. I don't like dusting and having to pick things up or moving a lot of things to vacuum. And having pets means that cats will walk on every surface and knock things over so, this is why I can't have nice things. (No, I'm kidding) Dogs jump on things and my large 'declutter dog' likes to jump and dance with me. (It's cute, I promise.)
So, I try to keep things to a minimum in our lives.
DH and I would much rather spend time together doing something meaningful. I won't go into details, but experiences are much more lasting memories than trinkets. Also, strangely we spend less money this way on junk and more on what we actually want to do with our lives.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that my home, life, or pets are perfect. NO! I'm human and if I'm right so are you, so we aren't perfect.
The only perfect person is/was Jesus Christ.
That brings me to another point.

Don't let perfection get in the way of good enough. Sometimes I only have time to clean off the counter in the bathroom, or do the dishes in the kitchen. Just because I can't make the room look perfect doesn't mean I shouldn't do anything. I do what I can and if it's good enough then I move on.
I'm not going to spend my time scrubbing and cleaning. Is my house spotless? heavens, no child. But, it is not a filthy cesspit of bacteria either.

It's good enough (unless I'm about to do something on the counters, then I scrub and scour it) most of the time.
A magazine is not coming to take pictures of my home anytime soon, nor is the clutter police coming, but...when you have less things to organize you have less to clean and more time.

Which is more important to you?

03 September 2015

Pat sloans block of the month-2014-globetrotter part2

The friend that was making this along side me had to take care of her mother so I ended up doing this one alone. I waited awhile, but then i just wanted to finish it. I told her it was understandable, and it totally is. If it was my mother I hope that people would understand that she is important to me and I would take time out of my regular lie to take care of her if she needed me.
I did most of it within a few weeks. Ill show you all the blocks. They are not in order of month or anything. My favorite block is the one with all the purples and no green. It has the floral white print in the middle and dark purple on the sides. It looks like a folded origami piece to me.

This is my favorite, in case my description was weird. 

Here is all the blocks attached and the inner blue border being attached. I had some issues with that...but I got it all squared away. (Ha, ha...quilting jokes...*sigh* I know I'm a nerd.)

My quilt inspector. Who is also my 'Declutter dog', but he approves of soft pretty things that he can lay on, like pillows and blankets and they are even better if I love them and want to lay on them too. I should be glad someone wants to cuddle me. 

And this is what it looks like all together! 
I've gotten loads of complements on it when I went to the store to get some backing fabric for it and decided to use up what I had at home. I also took it to show my friend. She loved it too. The outside borders are called piano keys. I thought that was interesting. It took awhile to get them all sewn together, but I like the effect it gives the quilt. This was supposed to take a year...but I wanted to get it done so I could start on some Christmas presents. Now, it's off to my favorite machine quilter's house. 
I will post photos of the quilting when it comes back as well. This quilt is 62" x 62"-lap size. 

Have you ever done a Block of the Month quilt? Have you done this one? Post it in the comments! I'd love to see it!