Monday, October 28, 2013

More Craft Show Bliss

I worked on more burlap tonight and made a couple of burlap and ticking table scarves.  One wider (which I prefer), but then I had only a smaller amount of the ruffle left over, so I split it in two and made a narrower scarf out of the leftover.  I just love the ticking with the burlap.  I sold several of these last year, so am hoping to sell more. 

I found the twine!  In fact, Mr. Right found the twine out in the garage in a box of gardening supplies, so I am back in the pennant making business.  I finished up this one that says snow.  I even added a little lace between the letters to add to the stitching across the top of the letters.
Will I get ready in time?  That is the question!  Let me know what you think...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Craft Show Joy

We are busy getting ready for our yearly craft show again.  I've been slow to start this year and even wondered if I should do it, but my daughter really needs to raise the funds to go to Japan for 4-H this summer, so we are doing it.  I have been making a little progress and wanted to share my Joy pennant.
I know that making burlap pennants aren't new in bloggarland, but hey, I've been meaning to do it for awhile.  I've got a bunch of these cut out and prepped and am trying to decide on what words.  Oh yeah, I'm trying to find my twine too!  We moved, and everything is still boxed up.  I'm afraid to unpack it all, because I'm not sure if this is permanent, but I can't seem to find the twine!  Frustrating!

Anyway, let me know what you think of my Craft Show Joy.  I think it's really cute and I need to make about a hundred more.  Whew!  Crafting is a Joy, but hard work too!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Flock on the Prairie

When we moved to the Idaho prairie almost two years ago, we had only dreamed of being able to own chickens to get eggs.  Well, it's been almost a year now that we've had our own chickens.  You can check out our first girls HERE, HERE, and HERE.  Well, now we've turned into sheep farmers!
 I can hardly believe that we've gotten ourselves into this new adventure, but I have to admit that these girls are pretty cute!  We have a friend that found these sheep (I know, they look like a goat) for free.  The thing is that they may all be pregnant. 

For now, we have three, two whitish and one darker.  They are an American Black Belly crossed with a St. Croix.  They are pretty hardy and able to lamb on their own.  The former owners had to get rid of them because the pigs they were in with had pushed them out of the barn.  We happen to have a small (horse) barn, so we borrowed some panels to pen them off in an area.  We have a pretty large yard that needs some sort of grazing animal because it is nearly impossible to walk through with the tall grass and ditches from rain wash outs (oh, yeah, and the junk that used to be in it.) 
We spent the weekend fencing off the yard, and researching what we should be doing with sheep.  We figure the worst case scenario is that we have some sheep meat. 

I can't get close up pictures, because they haven't been handled too much and are very skittish.  I am sure that I will be posting  a lot about our adventures with our new sheep.  For now, to get 5 kids to name only three sheep without arguing!
If you have sheep, do you have any great advice for newbies?  I'd love to know what people do with lamb meat.  Neither Mr. Right or I have liked the lamb we've had, but we are going to try. I would love to hear what you think about our new flock!  We might be adding a few more to our flock in the next day or two.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

More Week Than Paycheck #2

Now that you have gotten your budget in order, or at least made a plan of what little to so with your money that you do have (See my first post on this HERE.), it's time to get down to the knitty gritty of making do while things are tight.

Groceries are always my first concern.  I don't know why, but this is my biggest worry, that I won't have enough food to feed everyone in the house.  This is a perfect time to eat leftovers!  I know, most people really don't care for leftovers, but you can stretch your family budget some more by having a designated leftover meal day. 
A look at my stack of leftovers today!

Some ways to make your leftovers more exciting and taste better:
  • Fry It - Ok, not the healthiest thing, but some things are great fried up in some butter, such as leftover baked or mashed potatoes, oatmeal, meats, etc.
  • Bake It - unlike microwaving the food, this gives things a nice crispy edge and sometimes may take a little of the "staleness" out of it.
  • Leftover Day - My kids don't love leftovers, but they do get a kick out of picking their own meal once in awhile.  I pull all the leftover containers out of my frig, and line them up on the counter, and it's a free-for-all.  I'm always amazed at the combinations they will come up with.  My 3yo ate baked oatmeal, egg bake, applesauce and a cupcake for lunch!
  • Goulash - Mix meats and veggies together with a tomato sauce and pour over fresh pasta. 
  • Stir-Fry - If you have a bunch of veggies, rice and meat leftover or any combination of those and make a stir-fry of them.  My favorite recipe is for this is here:
Fried Rice

-2 TBSP Vegetable or Olive oil
-1/4 Cup Onions
-1 clove minced garlic
-6 cups cooked rice
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-2 cups frozen or leftover veggies of your choice (we like peas, carrots, mixed veggies, etc.)
-4 large eggs, beaten
-1-2 cups cooked meat (chicken, pork, steak, or whatever you have in the frig leftover!) - optional
1. Cook rice as directed if you don't have leftovers.
2. Heat Oil large pan on medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and cook for about 3 minutes.  Don't overcook!
3. Add cooked rice and soy sauce.  Stir in veggies and meat. Cook until warm
4. Beat eggs.  Push rice to one side of pan and pour the eggs in.
5. Cook until eggs are slightly scrambled.  Once eggs are cooked, mix in with rice.
6. Enjoy!
By eating those leftovers for an entire meal one or two days a week, can not only prevent waste of food, but it can also be a budget-saver.  That's one meal you don't have to buy for the week!  When you find new ways to recreate them, your family may not even realize that it's a leftover at all.
What are some of the ways that you use leftovers?  I will be linking this up to some of my favorite blogs in the right column over there, so be sure to check them out!

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Week Than Paycheck

Do you have more week left than you have paycheck?
I know we often do.  I know, I know it is so important to make a plan and to budget your money, but believe me, on one income that greatly varies according to the work load, I know about coming up short.  Sometimes the best of plans don't work out, and in a time when many people may be on furlough because of the government shutdown, for the next few weeks, I thought I would share some tips on what we have done (and are doing) to make things last and survive a long week or two.

My first tip is to have your money in order.  I'm no expert, and I can honestly say this is something we struggle with, but the best place for this in my opinion is to go to a Financial Peace University (FPU) class in your area.  They have a Home Study version, but I will say that doing the class with other people, helps you to stay accountable to each other and to yourself.  I still will go to those people I took the first class with for support when we don't know what to do.

Now, I could give you a link to Amazon (which I would get paid on) but once you take one of Dave Ramsey's FPU, you can always go back and take the class again for free and use your original materials.  Now, what we found was that our materials a few years later were updated, but so far, we have been able to follow along just fine.

This one class, I promise will be a life changing event if you take it similar.  Don't get me wrong, it takes a lot of work, but it will change your financial future.  It doesn't matter if you are just a little short on this weeks paycheck, or if you have so much debt you can barely breathe, or even if your finances are in order, this class will improve your financial life in some way.  So go ahead, look up a class in your area today!

We just started taking the FPU class this last week for our second time, so I'll keep you posted on how that works for us.  We are working on our "Quickie Budget" this week.  I know I am dreading the end of being able to buy what I want, when I want, but I'm also relieved that things will be back on track.
What are some of your suggestions for making it through too much week at the end of the paycheck?  Stay tuned as I share more ideas in the coming week or two. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gleaning Plums

We've had a pretty busy summer, and try as I might, I haven't gotten around to posting here and updating things.  For that, I apologize.  So with a little nudge from a good friend, I am starting with a new post today to share one of the things that keeps me really busy every fall.

Since moving West, it's been difficult to change my concept of harvest time.  We had a great big garden in the Midwest in which I was busy harvesting and preserving.  In the West, I haven't been in a house long enough to actually grow a garden, but we have been greatly blessed with the great outdoors and some wonderful neighbors!  One of our neighbors here, shares their fruit orchard with us after all their family and friends pick what they need first.  I often feel like the old picture of "The Gleaners" when I go to clean the trees of the leftover fruit.
Here's an excerpt explaining the picture from Wikipedia that describes the picture:

"The Gleaners is an example of Realism. It features three peasant women prominently in the foreground, stooping to glean the last scraps of a wheat harvest. Their gaze does not meet the viewer, and their faces are obscured. In the background, bountiful amounts of wheat are being stacked while a landlord overseer stands watch on the right. Millet has chosen to center the women and paint them with a greater contrast. The earthy figures blend into the color of the piece, ingraining them well into the scene. Through the misalignment of vanishing points among the three women (as drawn along the backs of the women), and in particular never aligning with the central focus of the background, Millet conveys the message that while the lowest-class women occupy the same canvas as the abundance depicted in the background, they will never be a part of that actual physical abundance—they occupy their own space layered on top of another space, in both the painting and in real life. This is a commentary on the lower classes' inaccessibility to upward mobility."

Anyway, my finds are not quite that dramatic, but I will say that with five children and one income, I am thankful to any of the extra harvest that I can get!

So, here is what I was able to pick in just a few minutes off of one broken branch at the orchard:
These are Italian Prune/Plums.  They taste wonderful and have a free stone!  I actually filled this 5 gallon pail full.

 I cut some in half, taking out the stones to freeze and then also did some in the oven to dehydrate.  We found the dehydrated version turned them a little sour, so I'm not sure I will do many more of those.  I did a search on for plum recipes and found a recipes fore plum dumplings.  I found this to be very interesting, and the fact that it could be frozen for future use, really interested me.  Although, it is a pretty lengthy process to make 125 of them, like I did, I do think it's worth it in the end!

 The first thing you do is cut the plums in half, not all the way through, to get the stone out.  Then add 1/3 tsp. of sugar into the stone cavity and place in a bowl.  This is my 100 plums ready to go.
 Next we rolled out the dough to wrap around the plums.  I had the help of my teenager, so I think that we ended up with an extra cup of flour, so had to add an extra egg yolk and a couple of tablespoons of butter to make it work.
 Here's my four inch round cut out on the left, and then I rolled it out a little more to make it a tad bigger and oblong in shape.
 I folded each oval in half over the plum and sealed the edges.  Sometimes, I used the juice from the plum to make it seal better.
 After boiling the plums in water and making a sauce for over, it make a yummy dessert. 

Here's the Recipe for the dumplings which I adapted from
100 Italian Prune Plums
3/4 cup sugar
8 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 teaspoons salt
12 egg yolks
1/2 cup shortening or butter, softened

10 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

Sauce (for only 25 dumplings at a time):
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1.  To pit the plums, slice them almost in half, open and remove pit.  (plums need to be free-stone in order to do this.)  Place about 1/3 teaspoon of sugar where the pit was and place in a bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large pot with water to cover.  Boil and cook until tender.  Mash potatoes with masher.  You will need 4 cups of mashed potatoes.  Set aside.
3.  For dough, make a pile of flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix together (this will make a big pile!)  Make a well in the center and add 4 cups mashed potatoes, egg yolks, and shortening into the well and work into the dough until it is smooth by kneaded.
4. Divide dough in half and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into 4-inch rounds with a  biscuit cutter.  Roll each round a little more to be an oval shape.  Hold the dough in your hand and wrap around one plum, folding the dough in half and sealing the edge tightly.  Make sure there are no leaks for the plum to fall out.  Place on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with flour and freeze individually.  Once frozen, they can be added to a Ziploc bag, making sure they are covered with plenty of flour.
5.  When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Place the dumplings in the water and cook for 10 minutes, making sure it is cooked all the way through.
6.  Meanwhile, make the sauce by bringing the butter and brown sugar to a boil and boil for one minute.  This will caramelize as it cools off. 
7. Remove the dumplings from water with a slotted spoon and pour caramel over it to serve.  Enjoy!