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A visit to the funny farm + a plea for help from the color coordinated.

We got to go play at Gail’s this weekend.  What fun!  She has loads of White Silkie chickens, big ol’ honkin’ turkeys, a bunch of goats, and two different types of pot bellied pigs.  See that white goat with kids back by Nellie in the green coat?  That’s Cotton — twin to my Cotton.  I cannot tell you how much I love that both of our Saanens are sisters named Cotton.  Remember the “This is my brother Darrell and this is my other brother Darrell” from whatever Bob Newhart show?  Heh.

cotton

On pig in particular, Lele, loved Duke and me very, very much.  Here, she’s deciding that she likes Duke so much that she’d like to put her snout…

precrotchshot

Right into his crotch!  Whammy!  (Notice the smirk on Charlie’s face?)

crotchwhammy

BAM!  Going for the jewels again!  Man, does she ever love Duke.

crotchagain

She seemed to be rather interested in my toes.

leleme1

But, aw, what a sweet piggy!

leleme2

BAM!  She tries to get me!  When I would let her smooch on my toes, she kept trying to get between my legs.

leleme3

Trying for access from behind.  I think I might have fallen on her back and gone for a ride if it weren’t for my ninja reflexes!

leleme4

And now for those with taste:  I could not get a good pic of the carpet to show the color but, if you look at the middle of this pic, that’s pretty close.  It’s more rich in person, though.  If you look back at the kitchen post from a while back, you can see more of it.  Again, the color isn’t quite right in the pics.  (The carpet to the left is a faded blue, almost gray, from Isaac’s room.  I’m not worried about that right now.)   The blue-green-teal-something is all over the dining room, living room, master bedroom, and hallway.

I’m going to paint the walls now that Josie is out of her crayon-on-the-walls stage.  But I’m completely clueless what sorts of colors.  Help!

The living room is first up.  It gets lots of light through a set of big, south-facing front windows.  All of our trim is crappy, darkish, fake-wood junk.  We’ll eventually get it changed out for something more substantial but, in the meantime, we have more important tasks at hand.  I can give it a quickie paint job, though.

Oh, I just found some pics I took of the living room not long after we moved in.  Of course, things have been rearranged since then but the basics remain the same.

carpet

2013 Polar Plunge — 9 days and counting…

Good grief.  What did I get myself into?  I’m gonna diiiiiiie!

/drama

Team SpeedKin and the Psychotic Penguins

See those two links?  Click each of them, then click on the team members’ names, one by one, and note the “Give Now” button in the right sidebar.  Ahem.  And/or don’t forget to show up on the 26th to cheer us on!  The official plunging begins at 11:00 a.m. but it’s starts getting crowded beforehand so arrive early to get a good view for heckling cheering.

Team SpeedKin will have Steve, Cody, Charlie, Duke, and yours truly (cowering behind everyone else, frantically looking for an escape) while the Psychotic Penguins is Isaac’s team.  The two fellas that are listed there as of this writing have backed out.  There are supposed to be two more confirmed but they’ve yet to register so I dunno.  Isaac will definitely be there so feel free to donate in his name.

I have done absolutely nothing concerning our costumes for this grand adventure.  We don’t even have any feasible ideas at the moment.  I think we’ll just call it a a success if we show up!

(See my original 2013 Hannibal Polar Plunge post here.)

I’m gonna diiiiiiiiieeeee!!!!!!

We’re back!

After much kerfluffle, we have internet once again.  We had to switch providers, from HughesNet to WildBlue.  They both suck but, as of right now, WB sucks less that HN.  The HN we had would be a better deal except that it just would not work anymore.  At least WB’s customer service mostly speaks English so that’s a step up.  I think WB must calculate data used much differently than HN because we’re blowing through the same amount of data in half a day that would have taken us two days with HN.  I just don’t understand that.  Isn’t data data??

I did our taxes a few days ago… only to find out I can’t actually file them until January 30th, when the IRS opens up their e-file system.  I could always sent in hard copies but I bet that’d take even longer than waiting for e-file to open.  Remember how slowly tax returns were processed when everything was hard copy?  And now that they’re used to (and pushing everyone to) electronic filing, I betcha hard copies via snail mail take twice as long.  But who knows?  I’ll just wait for the 30th.  And here I was so proud of myself for getting them done the day after we got Steve’s W2, beating the rush!

We lost a goat this past week.  Maggie, the free pygmy, most likely got into something she shouldn’t have.  She was very, very clever — always managing to find a way to break into the back room (where the feed is stored).  In that same room are various other not-so-good things that she could have eaten.  Long story short, she’s gone and buried now.  She was a jerk of a goat and none of us really liked her much but it was still sad to see her go.

And chickens?  Holy cow, they’re dropping left & right.  It must be some sort of disease, maybe flu, who knows?  We’ve lost about half of the flock so far.  No signs or symptoms, just fall-over dead.  It’s not affecting anything but the chickens.  There’s definitely something not right going on with them.  They haven’t laid a single egg in at least a couple of months.  Birds slow way, way down in the winter, true, but there are always a few eggs laid here and there.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s best they weed themselves out so we can start anew in the spring.  I’ve been reading up on various breeds and am really leaning towards hatching out some of the Icelandic landrace.  They’re a very hardy breed, aren’t phased by heat or cold, and are great foragers.  Honestly, we’re not big fans of chicken meat so we don’t mind a skinnier bird such as the Icelandic, as long as we get a nice supply of eggs and they are willing to work hard to forage their own food for a good portion of the year.  We will gladly use the culls — pulling off the breasts & offal for a freezer stash and using the rest for broth.  It will be a relief from the seemingly endless whole chickens in the freezer, actually.

The Great Garden Fencing Project continues.  Steve’s got about half of it done now and hopes to have the rest completed within a couple of weeks.  It’s slow going when he works so many hours.  It’s definitely a race to get the goats & birds into the garden before it’s time to plant!  With any luck, they’ll double team the horribly overgrown garden weeds into oblivion in no time.  Then we have yet another looming deadline to get another pen built before planting time.  We can turn them back out into the backyard pen but it’s been through the sloppy trauma of winter and would really appreciate a break in the spring to grow back.  Once we have at least three large fence areas done, we can better rotate them through as needed.

We’ll eventually get everything coordinated… I hope.  Chickens, waterfowl, goats, garden, orchard, permaculture, pasture/grain for feed…  It all takes a lot of figuring and refiguring and tweaking along the way to get everything integrated into one, big, seamless operation of yumminess.  Oy.

I’d better get this posted before it’s delayed any further.  I’ve already had this drafted & adding to it for three or four days, never getting a chance to finish.  Just like life around here — never finished!

Ruts, cinnamon soap, local resources, and WAPF.

Full GAPS continues with Steve, Nellie, and Josie mostly on board now.  (Isaac eats what the family does, of course, but he eats the cafeteria lunch offered when he’s at school, whatever that might be.)  I, the main cook, seem to be stuck in a rut and desperately need to break out of that.  I think I’ll be doing some dinner-inspiration hunting and menu planning over the next few days before I have a mutiny on my hands.  Once we’ve gotten past Christmas, I’m going back to redo the Intro, much more slowly this time.  I’d have already started it since this is a “slow” time of the year for me in regards to not having to drive to this activity & that activity constantly but we haven’t even started our Christmas shopping yet, nor made any neighbor treats, nor have I begun my holiday sewing.  It’s going to be a busy, busy few days starting tomorrow and I don’t want to have to deal with that on Intro.  Bah humbug!  And my schedule picks back up to insane levels by the second week in January so I’ve got a small window to get the worst of Intro over with before having to deal with too much reality.

There.  I’ve said it out loud so now I’m committed.

I made another batch of honey coconut milk soap/shampoo the other day.  I made it just like all of the others but something different happened this time.  I added the honey at trace and it started turning red!  I’ve never had that happen before.  I’ve added honey both at the end of the hot process, right before molding it, and at trace and never had it do this.  It also turned thin.  I was worried, wondering if I’d just wasted a batch of goods, but I mixed the snot out of it with the stick blender and it began thickening again after a long while.  After it cooked for an hour or so, I tongue tested it for a zap and it was fine but it smelled like… something.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but the smell and now dark brown color begged for cinnamon.  So in went some cinnamon before I molded it.  The kids all came running in, wondering if I was making GAPS-friendly cinnamon rolls.  Ha, no.  I unmolded and cut it and it’s a gorgeous deep, chocolate brown — and smells of cinnamon, of course.  But that cinnamon makes it a bit scratchy so we’ll save it for using on rough feet & muddy gardening hands, rather than scrubbing down kids in the tub.  How do I know this?  Because goofy Steve grabbed a bar this morning to shower with, not even waiting for it to harden with curing.

I’ve been working on the SlowMoFood site this week, when my sucky internet cooperates.  While I’m very much not a person with any style, sense of design, or taste whatsoever, I’m liking the the way it’s starting to look.  Besides fiddling with its looks & navigation, I’m also working on adding pages for “local resources” and “online resources”.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Who in the area has raw milk?”, “Where can I get fresh, local produce that’s not swimming in chemical goo?”, and that sort of thing.  So, instead of trying to keep all of that info in my head to share when asked, I figured it was time to compile it all in one place a bit more reliable than my brain.  I’ve searched and searched but not found a resource like that already in existence for our area.  Maybe this will help us all connect, both local consumers and local producers.  While I was at it, I thought maybe an online resource page would also be helpful for certain things that are not available locally.  There are a bazillion of them out there already but I’ve found better deals & better products not always on the same, or any, lists.  Now when I run out of something and need to reorder I don’t have to wrack my brain and/or google for hours trying to re-find where I got the best product/deal last time.

And ya know what?  Because I don’t have enough on my plate already, I’m thinking I’m going to start a local WAPF chapter.  I have no idea yet what that exactly that will entail so I may yet live to regret it.  More on that later as I find out.  (FYI:  WAPF has a wackadoodle sort of feel for a lot of people and I used to get that same vibe.  Then I realized I was lumping in a bunch of other crap, such as Mercola.  *gag*  Once I cleared my head of the self-induced confusion, I realized the organization held a lot of value for me.  Like anything, no one is going to agree on every. single. issue but, overall, I think they serve a great purpose — to get people to open their minds to traditional, healthful foods and start backing away from the crap foods that I see usually fill most grocery carts.)

So there ya go.  I was going to rant on the Boy Scouts but I have some parmesan-topped broccoli calling my name.

It’s out to get me and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Remember the Christmas Crack house?  I was driving by it last night and, from a mile or more away, I could see that it was no longer blinking, just constant lights.  It doesn’t look half bad like that, thought I.  The blinky crackhead timers must have blown themselves out, I mused.  Until I got closer.  As I passed directly in front of it, not daring to take my eyes off of it in case it should be mere trickery, it blinked.  For three whole seconds.  No one else on the road but me.  And it blinked.  Deliberately.  At me.  After I passed, the lights all came back on, nice & steadily glowing in a menacing manner.  It knows.  And it is letting me know that it will make me pay.  It’s personal now.

Speaking of things trying to kill me, holy Super Smelly Grandmas!  Geez.  I don’t know if this is a common thing on GAPS but I’ve become a bloodhound.  My nose now has super powers.  I’m picking up odors from all sorts of places — and I don’t even want to think about where half of them are coming from.  So we’re sitting at the season’s first basketball practice the other night and in walks Super Smelly Grandma.  Of course, she has to sit right next to me.  I swear the woman had bathed in perfume five minutes before practice.  And, of course, I’m allergic to perfumes and sprout an immediate & massive headache and feel like barfing all over the freshly-buffed gym floor.  But she’s so nice and I don’t want to hurt her feelings so there I remain, getting sicker and sicker, my eyes actually started to tear from the intense smell.  I couldn’t think through my pounding head, couldn’t figure out a solution.  I was frozen in place and simply could not move.   Finally, Nellie came over and saved me by asking me to take her to the bathroom.  Whew.  I picked up all of our things and, once done with bathroom duties, we nonchalantly resettled far away.  I’m used to walking past people with perfumes and air fresheners, dryer-sheet-clothed folks, and that sort of thing but this one just took the cake as the most miserable experience my poor nose has ever had.  I’d have been sick without the GAPS-super-powered nose anyway but that just made it even more intolerable.

GAPS Day 17:  Well, we’re not actually on Intro any longer.  Yesterday, we moved on to full GAPS.  Just a smidge over two weeks on the pretty darned restrictive GAPS Intro is a great accomplishment for Charlie and Duke, I’d say!  I’m very proud of them!  (Cody and I will go back and re-do the GAPS Intro at a much slower pace after we give ourselves a break, sticking with full GAPS in the meantime.)  Even more impressive?  We had four holiday dinners to attend during Intro and they didn’t slip up at all.  :-D  I need to print out a full-GAPS list of allowed foods for them — there are several out there but I especially love this one from Well Fed Homestead for its simplicity and thoroughness:  What can you eat on the GAPS Intro Diet?

While there’s nothing exciting going on in the garden right now, we are building up our wood chip reserve for next year.  The electric company has been doing quite a bit of tree trimming recently.  Steve & Cody have been able to go get a few truck/trailer loads of wood chips in the last couple of weeks.  I know the neighbors must think we’re nuts to have such a huge, long pile of them in the back yard (and a smaller one in the front yard).

(Is anyone else procrastinating on Christmas gifts?  I’ve made a few things but I’ve not yet started on the bulk of it.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my fabric stash is buried in basement piles of crap.)

2013 Hannibal Polar Plunge Fundraising Begins!

It’s that time again!  Remember when Cody, Isaac, and Charlie all did the Polar Plunge last year?  They raised over $1000 for Special Olympics with just the three of them.  Very cool stuff.  Thanks again to all who donated to Team SpeedKin!

Thanks to some spousal smack talk during last year’s event, Steve and I are joining the team this year!  And Duke is now old enough (minimum age is 10) so he’s doing it as well!  Cody and Charlie will rejoin the team but Isaac is branching off to form his own team.  (I’ll do another post once he gets his team & fundraising page up & running.)  That makes us a team of five and we’ve set a goal to raise, altogether, at least $1500 this year.  $300 bucks each.  (We are required to raise a minimum of $75 each before we can plunge.)  Let the begging begin!

For those new to this, let me explain:

What & When:  On Saturday, January 26th, we dress up in silly costumes (there may or may not be coconut bras involved) and run & fall into the freezing Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri.

Why:  To raise money for the Special Olympics of Missouri.  If you can spare $1, we’ll take it.  If you can spare a few thousand dollars, well, we need to talk about an under-the-table deal.  What?  I’m kidding!!  Seriously, whatever amount you’d like to donate will be appreciated and all proceeds go directly to the Special Olympics of Missouri.

Bonus:  The individual who raises the most money gets awarded The Golden Plunger!  Sweet!  (Edit:  Charlie has informed me that The Golden Plunger goes to the individual with the best costume.)

What You Can Do, Option #1:  Donate!  Donate through our online fundraising page here:  Team SpeedKin’s Fundraising Page.  Or get me a check (email me for my mailing address) for any amount, made out to SOMO (Special Olympics of Missouri).

What You Can Do, Option #2:  Join our team!  Do you have an overwhelmingly stupid urge to jump into the frigid Mississippi in January with us?  Let me know and you can join Team SpeedKin!

What You Can Do, Option #3:  Show up and cheer us on!  Even if you don’t want to part with any cash, we’d still really appreciate you coming out to use peer pressure and occasional threatening body language to ensure we don’t chicken out cheer us on that day.

I can’t wait!  Okay, I’m lying. I can wait.  I can wait until, like, July or something.  Crap, what did I get myself into??

Look forward to more begging between now and the end of January.  :-D

Hannibal Polar Plunge 2013.  Be there or be warm square.

I am so friggin’ moisturized.

GAPS Intro, Day 11.  Things are still going well… almost.  Night before last, we had to go to a 4-H Christmas dinner and we were to bring “finger foods”.  Knowing there wouldn’t likely be much of anything there for use to eat (more on that in a minute), I decided I’d better take a couple of things we could at least munch on to avoid boredom while everyone else ate.  (And, no, we couldn’t skip the dinner.  You’re required to attend so many meetings each year in order to do 4-H things so we had to go and watch everyone else eat.  Argh.)

I ended up making these brownies from The Well Fed Homestead — not quite GAPS Intro legal (because I used regular cocoa powder and vanilla extract) but not bad.  Ew.  We didn’t like them.  Charlie and Duke said they were okay but I think that’s just because they were desperate.  Heh.  I felt like complete crap & had a massive headache for 24 hours.  The kids didn’t have any reactions, thankfully.  It might have been something I forgot or did wrong — or maybe it’s just because we’re not big chocolate freaks that we didn’t care for them.  I’ll try it again in a few weeks.  I also made these absolutely wonderful peanut butter cups from Grain-Free Foodies!  Oh, man, they are sooo good!  (I know they weren’t the problem because I’ve already had all of the ingredients without any issues.)  I spooned the mix into peanut butter cup candy molds I have and froze them.  Because they’re mostly coconut oil,, they don’t get too hard to eat, just perfect.  Really, you have to try them!

The water weight loss seems to be slowing down now, right on time, as I’m down about 10 pounds since we started this.  I do seem to be having trouble eating enough.  There’s so much fat in what we eat, it doesn’t take much to fill me up, plus I find myself forgetting to eat.  That’s an old problem of mine, forgetting to eat, that I haven’t experienced in a few years!  It’s not a good problem to have — our bodies need fuel to run and even more so to heal.  I need to get a handle on it.

Yesterday, I started a bunch of pickles fermenting in one of the big Pickl-Its.  I think that’s the ferment we’re all most excited about!  I am trying to NOT get my hopes up too much for this batch, however.  I couldn’t find any pickling cucumbers this time of year so had to settle for slicing (English) cucumbers.  Ew.  But ya gotta work with what ya have, right?  These stupid things were so greasy from whatever crap they put on them to prevent shrinking & wrinkling, it was gross.  I had to find something to wipe my hands on in the store after just picking them up and putting them in the produce bag.  Disgusting.  I scrubbed those suckers like they were covered in maggot-infested pig crap.  I also started a couple of jars of beet kvass finally.  I’d had to wait for some jars & PI lids to be free or I’d have done them already.  I can’t wait to taste both new ferments!  By the way, the kimchi is now in the fridge, doing an additional 10-week cool ferment.  It smells so good!

Last night, I whipped up a quick batch of honey & coconut milk soap and set it to mold overnight.  It’s now curing on the organ.  I also decided to try my hand at coming up with my own, customized lotion recipe.  I love it better than any other I’ve tried so far!  Here’s what I did:

Melt 400 grams cocoa butter and 400 grams shea butter over low heat, then add in 200 grams avocado oil, 200 grams sweet almond oil, 20 vitamin E capsules (snipped open to squeeze the oil into the mix), and 40 drops each lemon and orange oils.  (I know some folks have trouble with citrus oils & sunlight but I never have.)  I poured it into a couple of big jars, stirring occasionally as it cooled, and left it overnight to finish setting up to whatever consistency it would be.  I lucked out because it was exactly as I wanted it.  This morning, I scooped it back out of the jars and stuck it in the KitchenAid with the whisk attachment, and whipped it, whipped it real good.  (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who remembers that stupid song?)  I whipped it a few minutes until it was light & fluffy, the consistency of good ol’ real whipped cream.  I scooped that fluffy mess into a couple of big jars for home use, and couple of small tubs to throw in my purse, and four half-pint jars for gift-giving.  Crap.  I’d better label them before Josie finds them and eats it all, thinking it is whipped cream.

I’m also in the middle of making a double batch of honey coconut milk soap this morning.  I figured as long as I have the stuff already out, I might as well go to town.  Might make another batch or two before I put it all away…  I’m also making some healing salve and finishing up that bee sting/insect bite salve for the MVBA silent auction this weekend.  Good thing the kids are working on independent projects in the basement this afternoon!

FYI: You know how, when baking and cooking, you drop bits on your hands and lick them off, taste a bit from this spoon, and from that pan and, before you know it, you’re stuffed?  Same thing happens when making soaps & lotions.  Well, except  you don’t eat them.  You drop a bit of this here — and rub it into your left arm.  You drop a bit of that stuff there — and rub it into your right arm.  You want to see how quickly this oil absorbs so you rub a bit on your left leg.  Hm, you wonder how that other fat will feel on your face so you rub a bit in there…  And pretty soon, you’re like a greased pig, sliding around the kitchen like a crazed pinball and you can’t hang on to a single spoon or spatula.  Yeah, I’m pretty moisturized right now.

Christmas on Crack, Pancakes, and Swollen Nuts.

GAPS Intro, Day 6.  I missed a couple of days since the last GAPS Intro update but there was really nothing worth mentioning. It’s up & down as to how we’re feeling day to day but, overall, we’re improving.  My swelling everywhere has really started going down.  I’ve lost a bit over seven pounds so far.  I can really move water weight around — up to ten pounds each day when I’m eating crap.  Once I get the worst of the swelling down, the weight loss should throttle way back to a reasonable rate.

We’re easing into Stage 3 right now.  Yesterday, we added in pancakes — a mixture of eggs, winter squash, and nut butter.  They were okay — a definite treat as far as something different being added in!  This morning, I made them without the nut butter and we all liked them much better except for Charlie.  Knowing my issues with nuts, I’m going to be very, very careful for a while, holding them off to a bare minimum as long as I can to allow more healing.  But, the things you can do with nut flours will really open up what I can make for treats which will really help with the kids’ morale.  Steve brought home a couple of three-pound bags of raw almonds from Sam’s last night.  Per the Mighty Internet, I soaked them overnight, dumped & rinsed this morning, and am soaking again for the rest of the day, to dump & rinse again this evening.  I’ll then put them in the dehydrator at a low temp for 24 hours or so, then finish off with roasting.  That process should remove/neutralize a lot of the offending critters *crossing fingers* so we can eat them with less issues.  After some gentle experiments with them to see if we react okay, I can grind them into flour and make occasional — but much appreciated! — treats.  That’s the grand plan anyway.  Cross your fingers & toes for us!  Side note:  Nuts really swell up when you soak them!  Of course, it makes sense and I expected it but I was surprised at how much swelling there was.

We moved ShowTime in with Oatmeal yesterday.  Those two were going at each other through the fence so we figured, what the heck, the more, the merrier, right?  So that makes three does that will be bred in the same month.  That’s going to make for a very busy April & May!

We still don’t have any Christmas decorations up and, honestly, I have no idea where to put the tree this year.  We’re rearranged the living room to allow for maximum seating (and plants!  Heh.) which leaves no tree space.  On the other hand, we no longer have a tree.  Our big fake tree we’ve had for years finally bit the dust last year.  We do have a few smaller ones so maybe I’ll work some sort of miracle today and find space for a couple of those.  I’d like to get some outside lights up this year, too, now that we’ve moved the dog pen and have regained our front porch.  Hmm, I’ll have to send Steve digging through the basement tonight to see what we have in the outdoor light department.

Speaking of outdoor lights…  Holy crap.  There’s this house that turns on their outdoor lights every year, religiously every night.  They’ve framed the house with lights stringing from the eaves to the porch railings, even on the garage.  But, good grief, they’re butt ugly!  There’s plain white on part and various multi-colored on other sections with no rhyme or reason.  Even worse, they have them all on the blinking setting — but not at all timed!  Not that I’m some sort of Christmas decoration expert by any means but, dang, this particular house causes epileptic fits!  I think each little section of lights is on a different timer and each timer is set to a different — and random — interval.  Imagine Christmas as an Angry Rambo on Crack — that’s what these lights are.  And they’re out in the middle of flat cornfields so you can see it for.ev.er.  Seriously, these lights cause an instant and overwhelming rage-filled trance in me.  Yeah, rage-filled trance.  I never knew there was such a thing.

And on that note, I’ll close.    ;-)

Happy 19th Birthday, Cody!

Cody turned 19 yesterday. Wow.

Thanksgiving was fun.  We had a small gathering here on Friday and then another dinner with some of my relatives in Bloomington on Saturday.  Sunday, I took Isaac down to Mizzou for a NaNoWriMo write-in.  All weekend long, it was one bad food choice after another.  That’s why I’ve waited to start the GAPS diet until today.  Being on the road during intro would just flat-out suck!

Today is GAPS Intro Day 1.  So far, so good.  The food is yummy.  We’ve had variations on broth + veggies + meat — it’s amazing how many different looks/tastes/textures you can get out of the same stuff.  Of course, it’s only noon…  I tossed a turkey in the 18-quart roaster last night, along with some celery, onions, garlic, and salt & pepper.  We’ve not yet dug into the turkey meat itself but the broth is starting to get yummy.  I also have a 6-quart crockpot full of already-finished turkey broth.  (I keep gobs of turkey and beef broth in the freezer so I can just pull out a quart or two when needed.)  I boiled up five pounds of ground venison this morning as well, kept in the fridge so we can add it to our meals throughout the day.  Onions, garlic, winter squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots are all well-stocked so we can add handfuls to everything we cook.  Gotta keep the (veggie) carbs up so we don’t bonk.  We will do a sensitivity test for yogurt tonight at bedtime and, if all is well, we’ll add that in tomorrow.  Starting this morning, I’ll be culturing our yogurt in the Pickl-Its jars.  A few days/weeks down the road, we’ll do the same for kefir.

I finally made it out to the garden to cut what greens remained.  I probably ended up with about three or four gallons of various kales, mustards, collards, and chards.  They’re all getting dehydrated and will get added to soups & stews throughout the winter.  Once dehydrated, it’s easy to crumble them up and sneak them into just about anything — without anyone but the cook knowing.  ;-)

I fermented some cranberries with ginger over the weekend.  Man, they’re good!!!  Just a little bit will do ya and a drizzle of honey is needed but, oh, man.  Great stuff.  I also started some ginger carrots and kimchi.  The carrots will be done this week but the kimchi will take a few weeks.  I also meant to start sauerkraut but Steve ended up needing all of the cabbage we had for egg rolls.  I’ll buy some more cabbage next shopping day and get the sauerkraut started next weekend.  That also takes a few weeks to ferment.

Good grief, I’m hungry and tired.  Must be the combination of the weekend’s crap food extravaganza and the new diet.  I’ve been eating constantly today so it’s not a lack of food.  Heh.

I think I’ll just let this go as the Most Boring Blog Post Ever.  I’ve got no oomph today.

Seeds, Oliver, beekeeping class, ferments, and GAPS diet.

Seed catalogs have started to arrive.  Doesn’t it seem a bit earlier this year?  I don’t remember getting catalogs before December.  Whatever, it’s nice to start figuring the next season’s planting as we head into the dark, chilly part of the year.  I’ll be sticking to the usuals, such as peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc, but I want to get more herbs going this year, along with root veggies, and maybe try again with the squash family.  (Why am I the only person on the planet who cannot grow squash??)

This past weekend, Isaac was in a musical at the high school.  He was in the chorus, playing one of the orphans and, later on, one of the thieves.  Rehearsals had been going on for two to three months — that was a lot of work, I bet.  They put on three shows over the weekend and we went to the Saturday evening one.  It was really amazing!  I was so incredibly impressed!  Not just at the hard work & talent involved but that people can get up on stage and do… anything.. in front of so many people — without having a nervous breakdown and passing out.  *shudder*  Taking him to & from rehearsals felt like a major pain in the butt at the time (it wasn’t, really; it only took a few minutes out of my day) but seeing the show made it all worth it on my end.  I hope he chooses to do more!

Our beekeeping club will be having their annual holiday dinner in a couple of weeks.  Man, those people are some good cooks!  At each holiday dinner, they hold a silent auction.  Most everyone brings something or two to put on the table and then we all mill around and jot down bids.  It’s to raise funds for the club and it’s just plain ol’ fun.  We’re not talking big ticket items, just little things.  I think last year I made a bee-themed bag?  This year, I’m making some bee sting/bug bite balm.  I’ve got some herbs infusing for it right now.  Maybe if I get enough time after Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll sew something up as well.

Speaking of the bee club, they’ve decided on a time for the 2013 beginning beekeeping class.  I’ll make a separate post about it down the road but, for now, it’s going to be February 16 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Same as always:  Everyone is welcome, kids included.  You get not the class but also membership into the world’s best local beekeeping club, the Illinois state beekeeping association (you don’t have to live in Illinois), a free beginning beekeeping book, and door prizes.  The cost is $30 — that’s for the entire family, not per person, and includes everything I listed.  Good, good stuff from good, good people.  If you’re in northeastern Missouri, southeastern Iowa, or western Illinois and are at all interested in learning about bees, this is where you want to be.  You won’t be pressured to buy bees — at all — but you will have an opportunity to get in on the group buy if you wish.  Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you want more info.

I recently got in a much-awaited order:  Pickl-It jars.  Oh, man, I’m excited!  I’ve done great with ferments like kombucha, viili yogurt, and kefir — even doing some salsa now & then.  But, overall, I’ve had horrid luck fermenting veggies.  Sauerkraut, I’ve tried repeatedly and all have been disasters.  Blech.  Now, armed with the Pickl-Its, I can give t another go — anaerobically, as it should be.  This week, I’m prepping to start sauerkraut, kimchi, cranberries, ginger carrots, and beet kvass.  I got the beet tops cut off the beets this morning and put into the dehydrator.  I’ll pound those to dust and sneak them into various soups & stews over the winter.  I can’t stand the things but I can’t stand to let them go to waste , either.  From the book I have on anaerobic ferments, it says the beets need to sit for a week or so without their tops to concentrate the sugars, before I make the beet roots themselves into beet kvass.  I should be able to get the other ferments going over the next couple of days, though.  I’ll keep you all updated on my new fermenting adventures!

In other news, I’m going to be starting on the GAPS diet Monday.  GAPS stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”.  Don’t let the “psychology” part of it fool you — while I may be completely psycho, it’s also for allergies and a gazillion other things.  It’s not a permanent diet but a temporary, healing diet.  The first month or so, the “intro” is rather restrictve but it’s very quick.  You start out with a limited range of well-cooked meats & veggies that are not likely to offend your system and then add other things back in, one by one, backing off if they cause you any issues.  Once you’re on the full GAPS diet, it’s pretty  easy as the choices are plenty.  The gut continues to heal and, after a year or two, all should be as well as can be and you can transition to a normal diet, to hopefully include even grains and other major offenders.  I’m going on it for my severe allergies.  There’s not much I can eat anymore without some sort of reaction — and those reactions are getting worse and worse.  I went on the full GAPS diet last year and saw some remarkable improvements, even without doing the intro.  It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’ve experimented on myself enough to think this could be at least part of the answer for me.  Either that or I end up in the ER one of these days with one of these stupid reactions to food.

So now ya know.  I’m sure I’ll be rambling on about GAPS this or that stages & foods over the next few months, probably some whining along with it.  Keep me in line, folks!

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