Friday, September 25, 2009

This Weekend's Project

Build a Better Birdhouse Sunset Magazine Website

By the end of the weekend I hope to have a couple of these birdhouses finished. I think it will be a really fun project with the kids. I would like to do at least three, one for each kid. That way it is more interesting  for them. I would love to provide a home to some of the birds that will come here for the winter. The project directions say the house is suitable for most smaller birds.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today's Project Inspiration

Grab this book.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking 

It will change the way you think about dinner, and home cooking in general.  My goal is to do about 90% home cooking from scratch like Grandma used to do. I think it's a good idea to keep all the preservatives away from the kids.  I would like to do 100% but I'm a realist and I know it's hard to avoid some things.  There would be mutiny afoot if I didn't let the kids have popsicles and the occassional cheetos.

If you get this book swing by Sam's club and get a big bag of flour and a jar of yeast. I also recommend getting some gallon Ziploc bags with the slide closure and dividing the flour up. We keep our extra flour in the freezer so it doesn't go rancid and the smaller bags make it a lot easier to use and store. Just remember to get the extra flour out before you need it. Yeast doesn't seem to like the freezing temps.


Made From Scratch: Book Review

I found a really neat book at the library. "Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life." By Jenna Woginrich.  The book is really entertaining and very inspiring, I finished it in an afternoon, sitting on the porch swing while the kids ran around screaming.

This young, sane, and college educated woman decided to take a conscious step away from city life and start homesteading. Her stories are funny and yet you can feel her pain and frustration when things, inevitably, don't always go right.  From her disastrous attempt at beekeeping to her first successes baking, Jenna will have you laughing and pondering taking on some new challenges of your own. The book is available on Amazon, and I'm sure proceeds will go to building a new fence, stocking wood for winter, or feeding the chickens.

Also check out her blog: Cold Antler Farm

Monday, September 21, 2009

Honey Bee Madness

I am very intrigued by raising honeybees in my backyard.  I found a website named appropriately enough  Backyard Hive which has some really interesting information about raising honeybees in top bar hives.  As I understand it bees are not thriving like they used to and lots of people who are familiar with the industry are urging people from every walk of like to take on beekeeping  in order to support the species. Beehives are now everywhere from a farmer's field, on the roof of high rises in New York city, and in school yards. I can't see why bees can't also have a home in my backyard. 

It's interesting that whenever I bring this subject up with anyone they act horrified. You would think I am talking about raising rattlesnakes. I can't imagine why bees instill such fear in people.  I need to do some more research and find out what type of hive is best in our Arizona climate and what we need to do before thinking about getting the actual bees.

P.S. The photo above is a nod to my kids who love The Bee Movie. Black and Yellow.

Fall is creeping in!

It feels like Fall is slowly creeping in. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70's, and I'm hoping I will need a sweater in the evening.  I love to sit outside on the porch swing and watch the kids play until it gets dark.
I was hoping to get a bale of straw and some mums and a few pumpkins to put on the front porch, however I was reminded that my darling son would shred the bale and have straw tracked into the house.  Maybe I can find some old baskets to recycle and stack my flowers and pumpkins on instead.

Utah Peach Pie Jam

Peach Pie Jam
We made this jam from peaches we bought from The Bountiful Basket*, a food co-op in our area.  I bought 32lbs of  Utah peaches for $20. Not too shabby. The peaches were already almost over ripe wen we got them so I wasn't able to make the fruit leather I had planned, but that's ok. The kids are eating up this jam like crazy.

I canned two dozen jars of jam, gave a bunch of peaches to friends, and peeled and froze some for later.  That fresh peach taste will be awesome in smoothies in the middle of winter.

* The Bountiful Basket is also in other states too. Visit the website here to see if there is a drop-off near you.

Welcome to our little homestead!

We just bought our house on 1/4 acre in Northern Arizona a few months ago. We just finished getting settled in and some real projects will be taking place over the next year. Hang in there with us!!

Please look at the archives to the left or visit our main page. This is an old entry and there are MANY more now!!!