Summer Vacation – Day ?? (only 8 days left)

Today was a busy day as we’re wrapping up our summer vacation and getting ready to go back to school.  A started out the day at the Gladstone Goodwill shop where I picked up a lovely set of casseroles and a baking dish.  The are handmade and decorated with blue slip.  I’d been waiting for them for weeks, trying to see if they would hold out until they were half price. Today was the day. I think they are just lovely.



My second stop was at the Oregon City Goodwill store.  I really couldn’t find much and was just about to leave when I spotted a big brown canister.  I went to look at it and it seemed to actually be a crock for but it was a little stuck between shelves so I had to figure out how to un-wedge it.  I opened the lid and figured out it was a 10 liter fermenting crock.  I’m really looking forward to trying to make some pickles or sauerkraut.




The third stop was Safeway where I picked up some shrimp (for etouffee) and some bangers (for supper later in the week) on clearance.

The last stop was Albertson’s.  They had a lot of meat on clearance.  I was able to pick up 13 chicken quarters, 8 pounds of ground turkey and pork, some shredded cheese, and bread for under$15.00.  The drumsticks are in the freezer, the thighs got boned and frozen, the bones made stock for the étouffée.  The ground meat made 8 batches of meatballs; tandoori turkey, thanksgiving turkey, sumac turkey and barbecue pork.  They are also all tucked away into the freezer.


Aside from the cooking, I was able to get all of the linen ironed and folded.  Now my feet are killing me and I’m going to take a little rest.

Posted in 2015, August 2015 | Leave a comment

Fig Jelly (yes, jelly – not jam)

I had a heck of a time trying to find a recipe – any recipe – for fig jelly.  Fig preserves,yes; fig conserve, yes; fig jelly that’s actually jam, yes; clear fig jelly, no.  So I made it up.

fig jelly

    • Steam juice 1 load of figs for 2 hours.  I collected about 10 cups of juice, which I boiled to reduce it down to about 5 cups.
    • To the reduced fig juice, add the juice of 5 small lemons and 8 T low-sugar pectin.  Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down.
    • Add 4. 5 cups of castor sugar and bring back to the boil for 1 minute.
    • Remove from the heat and ladle into sterilized half-pint jars.  Cap and process (I used a steam canner) for 15 minutes.

fig stuffs

Posted in 2015, August 2015, Putting up | Leave a comment

Emergency Ready? – Staying Warm

If the power goes out, so does the furnace at our place.  We do have propane, but without electricity, the fans don’t work.  The water heaters are lovely, they run on propane and after a cold day, a warm bath is wonderful.IMG_0813

We also have a fireplace and, while we can’t afford to upgrade to a wood stove insert right now, we are hoping to someday.  For now, we spent July putting in 5 cords of firewood – oak, fir and pine mostly.  This should keep us in fires for a normal winter.  We are still looking out for some wood, but only if we can get it for free.IMG_0792

I was also able to pick up a lovely goose down comforter at a tag sale for $8.00.  I soaked it an really hot water with a teaspoon of Dawn and 1/4 of Oxi-clean.  It took a couple of soaks until the water stayed clean, then I threw it into the washer for a hot water wash.  I did double spins with felted dryer balls (I added a couple of drops of lavender oil).  The it went out onto the clothes line in the sun for a couple of hours before getting rolled up, stuffed into a pillowcase and stored in a cedar chest for fall.  This brings us up to 7 down comforters in total which should keep us toasty warm the winter.

Posted in 2015, Emergency Supplies, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 34

It’s been another busy couple of weeks here at the backyard farm. Summer has been fun, full of house organizing, garden sprucing, good recipes, thrift stores, tag sales and projects galore.  It feels like it’s coming to and end, but we still have some time left.  So here’s to more summer fun to come.


We found some lovely fleece at a barn sale; sheep, llama, alpaca and pygora goat wool.



This is my first try at washing wool – a little Dawn, some hot water and very little swishing.  This is some of the llama wool.  I probably need a better way to dry it.


I went to a spinning group and a lovely group of ladies helped me start to learn to spin some yarn.  I found out that my wheel was out of alignment, part of my wheel are loose, my roving is a bit sticky with lanolin and that this is going to take a lot of practice.  I spent another day fixing up the wheel – hopefully it better now.


I did start sewing my sampler squares together into a large afghan. It’s taken a long time and several experiments to figure out how to join everything together, but I think I like the squares sewn together with yarn, it’s a nice, flat look.

IMG_0796I’ve also started melting down some of the candles that I purchased at the thrift shop and making some new candles.  The one problem that I’ve run into is with the cone mold on the right.  It keeps cutting off the wick on the top.

IMG_0795Only one more strand to go for my first basket.  I think it will turn out pretty well.  I learned a lot, but I really quite like it.


Posted in 2015, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 22


  • 4 lb fresh pork belly
  • 3½ tablespoons – Morton Tender Cure
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed


  1. Trim, rinse and pat the pork belly dry.
  2. Combine salt, sugar, and peppercorns and mix well.
  3. Place the pork belly into a zip lock bag and thoroughly rub with curing mix.
  4. Place the cure rubbed pork belly in the fridge for 7 days then rinse thoroughly with water.

    bacon day 0

    Bacon – Day 0


  1. Smoke at around 200 degrees for 3½-4 hours adding soaked wood chips every 45 minutes or so; until the internal temperature of the pork belly registers 150 degrees.
  2. Allow the bacon to cool completely then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before slicing.
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Summer Vacation – Day 20

Today was wonderful.  We woke up to clouds which just seemed to thicken up as the day progressed.  It was a lovely break to the 90 free days we’ve had for so long.

DH and I decided to head out toward Canby to look a a few tag sales.

Sale One:  They had some great antiques and a ton of really fun things that we don’t have room for.  We did pick up a steam juicer for this year’s grape harvest, a deep fryer (for DH), a couple of bags of old dice, a double burner, and a really cool old fruit grainder/press (for apples – – and maybe cheese).  The prices were great.



Sale Two: At this sale we picked up a 16 foot ladder and a Swiss cuckoo clock.  The clock didn’t work when we got home, the chain that controls the pendulum just fell as soon as I put on the weight.  It was so inexpensive that I fiddled for a couple hours and managed to get the chain back where it belongs (had to take out the mechanism) so now it’s great.  It’s running a little bit slow, but I’m working on that.



Sale Three:  This sale was being run by a group of grandparents.  They were adorable.  We picked up a handmade fireplace grate which is, unfortunately, a bit to big.  We also got a really amazing old knife marked “I. Wilson, Sycamore St. Sheffield, England”.  It’s got the strangest handle I’ve ever seen but is really sharp.



Sale Four:  This sale didn’t have anything too fabulous, but lots of fun little $.05 – $.25 items.  We picked up a hose, lazy susans, wooden spoons, a strainer, potpourri, bath salts, and a few other odds and ends.

Sale Five:  The last sale was close to home, just up the road.  We pulled in right as they were taking down their signs but they welcomed up back to their barn.  We ended up getting 2 cords of firewood and 2 wool rugs.

All in all it was a very productive day.

Posted in 2015, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Smoked Salmon with Ginger Syrup

I was about to pick up two nice salmon fillets on clearance yesterday and since we’re out of smoked salmon, I decided to do a quick cure and smoke.  I also have had a bottle of Ginger syrup sitting about that was a little too strong on pancakes or waffles.  I decided to take out the pin bones and give it a go in a wet brine over night and smoke it tomorrow.


  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 c Ginger syrup
  • 1/3 c kosher salt
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 T black pepper corns


Posted in 2015, July 2015, Putting up | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 11

The heat wave continues – Today it was 98, yesterday 96 – We are supposed to be over 90 degrees for the next week.

This morning started with a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs from our chickens with home grown spinach, scallions and parsley.  We also had a bit of bacon and some lovely cherries from Washington state.



It been hard to get much outside with the heat so we’ve been confining our garden work to the evenings.  Today we finished mulching the pig garden.  We call it the pig garden as it used to be the pig pen.  The plants went in a little late and were little 25 cent discount plants at the market. The weeds were terrible this year so we are trying a new mulching method.  We were going to lay down newspapers and straw but we don’t take the newspaper anymore.  We called the local paper and the directed us to their print shop for end rolls of newsprint paper.  We’ve rolled it out in layers 3-4 deep and topped it with 4-6″ of straw.Garden June 30


Early in the day, DS2 and I made a batch of hibiscus lime soda, DH and I picked up the milk from the farm, we planted a few more plants, did a little laundry and took care of a few other chores.

Posted in 2015, July 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 6

This may be a good day for reading.  It’s 10:30 in the morning and already 77 degrees out.

I made buttermilk biscuits and country gravy for the boys this morning.  We add fresh rosemary to both the biscuits and the gravy and they all seem to love it.

buscuits and gravy The biscuits are great on their own too. With a little clotted cream and some hedgerow jelly.

Buttermilk Biscuits
     Combine and blendbiscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1.5 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • .75 t baking soda

Cut in 1.5 sticks of cold butter the add 1 – 1.25 cups buttermilk (no buttermilk, no problem, just add a T or so of lemon juice to regular milk).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.

I’ve been trying to tackle small. manageable jobs this summer during the heat.  This morning I worked on the side entrance that leads into the dog run behind the garage.  There was a bunch of cedar chips, leaves and dirt all over the sidewalk, the fig tree was attacking everyone that tried to pass by and the bike rack and old water barrel that we never use was just piled up (for two years).  I moved out the junk, built a support for the floppy fig branches, swept up , weeded and put the recycling and waste bins in their places.

Posted in 2015, Baking, June 2015 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation – Day 5

This morning we headed out early to pick up a new baby goat.  He is a 3-month old Nigerian Dwarf wether currently named Chopper (his dad was Harley) but we are trying on new names.  The current favorite is Frodo (yes, he’s a dwarf, not a hobbit, but close). He is a lovely little guy, about 8 pounds, bright white with horns of two different colors.


Capricorn is not too sure about him.  When we first introduced them, Capricorn just looked horrified as Frodo chased him around the pen.  They seem to have settled in together – not quite friends yet, but we have high hopes.  DH has been working on the goat pen most of the day until the heat (97 degrees) chased him back down toward the house.  The goats have plenty of shade and water and we’re checking on them regularly.


I hid inside a little sooner than DH.  After Having DS2 help me pick up limbs from winter, rake up twigs, and repair a section of fence this morning, we retreated to watch a couple of episodes of Dr. Who.  I potted up a few more geranium and a new fern this afternoon for the front stoop and the screen porch – both are, thankfully, in the shade.

stoop flowersWe’ve started irrigating the front yard.  I decided to take a photo at the beginning of the summer, the place is a bit of an unruly, bushy, overgrown mess.  Hopefully, the end of summer photo will be a little more orderly.

front June 2015

Yesterday I stopped by the thrift shop in town and found these lovely little herb pots.  The corks were disgusting – sticky, fuzzy, greasy – but DH suggested a little Dawn detergent.  I smeared it on, left it for 15 minutes, rinsed and scrubbed with hot water and a brush and they are beautiful.  I adore handmade items for my kitchen and dining room – pottery dishes and cookware, hand-made wooden bowls and plates and great old wood spoons.

herb pots

Posted in 2015, June 2015 | Leave a comment