Flat Surface Challenge Continued

I woke up this morning to a nice, neat, organized bed side table (flat surface challenge part one).  It was lovely.  I decided to complete the challenge this morning in the kitchen/dining areas.

I had done a deep clean-up on the dining room two days ago and the table was already cluttered – it is a dining table, a work desk, a card table, a snack area, a drop-off for groceries and generally the place everyone throws everything when they come in the house.  The hardest part is avoiding the temptation to just move the stray items into an area where they don’t belong either.  Lesson learned – – – I have too many things and need to start a gradual reduction so everything has a home.

The other area in our home that acts as a landing pad is our kitchen island.  I love this island – a four foot square of Eastern Hard Rock Maple with a bar sink – – so useful.  Except when it’s covered with junk, which it is most of the time.  It’s located just as we come in the down from the garage, just across from the dining room table, so what doesn’t land on the table land here.  It took only a few minutes to find homes for everything (well sort of) and make it into a useful space once again.

Posted in August 2017, Spring Cleaning | Leave a comment

Quick Bread and Butter Pickle


  • 2 pounds sliced cucumbers
  • 1/2 sliced yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt


  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sliced cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


  • Place the cucumbers and onions in a bowl, adding the salt to coat the vegetables completely.
  • Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Rinse the cucumbers under cold water 4-5 minutes to wash the excess salt away, Drain thoroughly.
  • Combine the  vinegar, sugar, water, garlic, pickling spice, turmeric, and clove together in a saucepan to a simmer 2-3 minutes.
  • Add cucumber and heat until just boiling.
  • Remove from heat, and transfer to jars and store in the refrigerator.
Posted in August 2017, Putting up | Leave a comment

Flat Surface Challenge

I bumped into an interesting website yesterday, UfYH (the long name is a tad unsavory).  I really liked their idea of “taking care of your physical surroundings”.  The site has a bunch of challenges, mini challenges and ideas for organizing your surroundings.

I chose to start with the challenge – “Pick three flat surfaces (counter, desk, table, dresser top, etc.) and clear them off, moving all items to where they belong. If any items don’t have a permanent home, find or make one! Check in here with your progress.”  It was getting late so I only managed one surface tonight.


Posted in August 2017 | Leave a comment

Summer’s coming to an End…..Preserving the Harvest

Today was a “get stuff done day” run awry.  I was going to finish the blackberry jelly and the fig & ginger jam I started last night, make a batch of fig honey, brine the salmon fillets, clean up the living room, add cabbage to the sauerkraut jug, make another batch of zucchini bread and a couple of types of pickles.

It went off course when I discovered we had run out of honey – no honey, no jam. So I knew I needed to run to the market.  DH came with but he wanted to stop for bagels (coupon) and return some shoes to REI (I love them – so nice and helpful).  We went to four markets before we finally found some fresh dill for the pickles and finally got back home at about 2:00 – so much for cleaning the living room.

We had to stop back at the house to pick up DS18’s french horn for its annual chemical cleaning and I made the mistake of hopping on Craigslist to look for Weck Jars (my obsession).  I found a vintage Weck electric canning/sterilizing pot for only $70.00.  It was old, but had been a display in a shop years ago and then put into storage and never used.  We made the detour to pick up the canner – only problem, we had driven the Electric car thinking we were only running to drop off the horn.

Long story short (not really) we had to find a charging station to get home – the three we found were all broken, the Blink help line was not helpful, we finally found a station in the next town, had to goof around in the store for 30 minutes waiting to charge and finally arrive back home (still with the horn) at 5:00.  Aghhhhhhh.  I had wasted the entire day.

I did manage to clean out the refrigerator that DS23 had stuffed while we were on vacation and get a few things started:

  • the salmon is in the brine
    • 1 quart water
    • 1/3 cup kosher salt
    • 1 cup brown sugar





  • another cabbage has been added to the sauerkraut jug
  • the fig honey (actually a thick syrup) is cooked down and draining
    • 1 large pot of very ripe figs – cleaned and quartered
    • water to cover
      • cook for about 1.5 hours and drain
      • reduce the liquid to a syrup





  • two pork tenderlion and on pork loin are in the Canadian Bacon Brine
    • 1 quarts water
    • 2 cups Morton Tender Quick (cure)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 spring sage
    • 2 sprigs thyme
    • 5 smashed cloves of garlic
Posted in August 2017, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back from Vacation – Sauerkraut

The cabbages aren’t huge, but this is the first year I’ve had any success with cabbages in my garden.  I’m going to try my hand at making some fermented sauerkraut in one of the crocks we  picked up at Rowe Pottery Works in Wisconsin while on vacation.

  • 850 g shredded cabbage
  • 1.5 T pink salt
  • 1 t juniper berries
  • 1/2 t caraway seeds


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vacation Photos – The road to PEI: Niagra Falls

On the fifth day of our Vacation, we drove from London, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. Along the way we stopped at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The town was lovely and the views along the view walkway were incredible. We didn’t get into Montreal until almost midnight, but the stop was definitely worth the time.

Posted in July 2017 | Leave a comment

Vacation Photos – The road to PEI: Shashone Falls

Outside of our first stop, Twin Falls, Idaho. This is Shashone Falls on the Snake River. Shoshone Falls is 212 feet high, 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet wide. Tomorrow we head to Laramie, Wyoming.

Posted in July 2017, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation Day 23: Beeswax Wraps

I purchased a beeswax fabric food wrap a few months ago and loved using it to wrap up my sandwiches for lunches at school.  The draw back was the price.  I had tried making some a few years ago using wax melted in the oven on a cookie tray – what a huge mess.  They were thick, not flexible enough and the tray was really difficult to clean.  I found a new method and it works really well…….

First, cut the fabric to the desired size using pinking shears to help prevent fraying.

Lay the fabric down on a sheet of parchment paper with an old bath town folded underneath to act as an ironing board.

Place shredded beeswax (I think this it should be beeswax so that it stays flexible when cooled) over the fabric.  I also found that using small piece of beeswax sheets for candlemaking worked well.

Lay a second sheet of parchment over the top and iron gently with a medium iron.

Iron gently, pressing sideways to distribute the wax into the unwaxed fabric.  When all of the fabric has been covered, remove and hang to dry.

Posted in Food Storage on a Budget, July 2017 | 1 Comment

Summer Vacation Day 21: Decluttering the Homestead

Well, we had another water problem at the homestead.  This time a leaking downspout, left unknown and unattended, created a patch of dry rot.  I was pulling out the wall of the screen porch when I discovered the problem.

For the repairs, we’ll have to take out a bit of the hot tub deck.  The good news is that the hot tub hasn’t worked in three summers now so this was a good reminder to get rid of it – to begin the Homestead Declutter.  DH took a chain saw to it and it was gone by late afternoon.  The deck will be rebuilt with less of a drop from the existing roof deck.

We also decided to create easier access for the repairs and reduce the number of areas that we must water by moving the two raised beds from the backyard to the kitchen garden – the old pig and chicken yard.  The strawberries were transplanted into one box and the other, when we get a little extra soil, will be planted with vegetable.

Posted in July 2017 | Leave a comment

Summer Vacation Day 12: Zero’ish’ Waste

This morning I met the results of three days of car shopping…….the refrigerator is packed with leftovers and food that is ‘just on the edge’, the counters are cluttered and the dishes are piling up.  Time for a big clean, but how to do it without wasting all of the bits and pieces of food in the fridge?………

First, the before photos……

……. sorry the photo is terrible, I didn’t have the lights on and the fridge light only works part of the time.



The Projects

Project #1: Five Spice Chicken Thighs with Ginger and Scallions (soy, ginger, garlic, 5-Spice teriyaki, scallions – – marinate overnight and grill.

Project #2: Country Potatoes for Breakfast (whoopsie – eaten before the photo)

Project #3: Dried Pineapple, Bananas and Mangos for snacking Dried Tomatoes for Tomato Powder

Project #4: Leftovers Lasagna with two different leftover sauces and Chèvre, Brie, Mozzarella, leftovers. Parmesan and pasta from the pantry.

Project #5: Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas with chicken from last night’s supper, pepper cheese from the graduation party some spinach that has a day or two left.  Sour cream, scallions, tortillas and green enchilada sauce from the pantry.


Project #6: Strawberry Black Currant compote with Honey

Project #7: Chicken Salad with more chicken from last night’s supper.  Mayonnaise, scallions, apples and almonds from the pantry.

Project #8: Chicken Salad for Chickens – – -Yoghurt that was getting a little old and some wilted spinach and lettuce.  The hens should love this.

Project #9 Water Kefir – no leftovers, just needed to make a new batch.

Project #10: Milk Kefir – this week’s milk

Project #11: Peanut Butter – peanuts from the graduation party that had gotten soggy from sitting in the bowl.  I tried to re-dehydrate them but it didn’t work well.  I threw them in the food processor with a little additional peanut oil.

Project #12: Dairy – every week

Project #13: Butter – look at that color!!!

Project #14: Viili Yoghurt – for this one, milk from the refrigerator, inoculated with last week’s yoghurt incubates at room temperature on the counter.

Project #15: Greek Yoghurt – for this one, milk is heated to 170 degrees and cooled back to 115 degrees before adding last week’s yoghurt.  It incubates for 5 hours in the Yoghurt Maker.

Project #16: Hardboiled eggs for Deviled Eggs – I make a simple recipe – – eggs, mayonnaise, salt and a tiny bit of yellow mustard.  Our hens do lay pretty eggs!

Project #17: Lemon and Honey Frozen Yoghurt – I added 1/2 honey, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cream, 1T vanilla and the zest of two lemons to 3 cups of last weeks Greek yoghurt.  It chilled a few hours before I popped it into the ice cream machine.

Project #18: Prepping for Stir-Fry lunches – We had a little leftover chicken breast that needed to be cooked so I poached and shredded it.  The boys will use it for stir-fry lunches.  I also cleaned and dry some spinach and lettuce, and cut up some carrots.

Now, The after Photo………….


Posted in July 2017 | Leave a comment