Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Decorating The Bathroom

I was at the fair for the weekend, and when I came home.....WOW! THE BATHROOM WAS BRIGHT BLUE!!!!! Mum got busy and painted it. I must say, it's much brighter, and happier, and crisper with the new colors.

Our hope was to do it in a Victorian era inspired decor. The woodwork has always been stained the dark brown, but it pops out a lot more with the blue as a back drop. The blue itself is very Victorian, that time being famous for the loud colors and frivolous furnishings. The white curtains with some lace look even whiter up against color, and the longer length gives them some graceful flow.

We also have some prints to decorate with....all Victorian looking. When we get those up, I'll be sure to post some pictures so you can see the finished room! We have some ideas for the floor, as well.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! Our post more once it is completely finished. :D

Summer Gardening!

We've started harvesting from the garden! Almost everything is doing very well......Mum's put a lot of effort into our veggie garden this year. There are also a lot of things that we haven't grown much before (like melons, carrots, and cabbage) that are doing awesome!

Here are some pictures of what we've harvested so far......
White Radish......we'd actually forgotten that we'd planted the white variety! 

Our very first cabbage!!!! Needless to say, we had some magnificent cole slaw last night....

Carrots!!!!!!! These are by far the best we've ever grown. We dug up quite a few today, but there's still another bed full! We planted those a week after this, so we'll wait a bit and then harvest them.

Another radish! Mum took this picture while I was away. It was huge!

Aside from these, there are also green beans ready to be picked, a lot of healthy tomato plants, and some beautiful sunflowers and marigolds. Then there are some melons and yard long beans that are still quite small, and some cucumbers, which we're attempting to grow up a trellis, that are just developing little babies.

Happy gardening! Please tell us about your harvesting successes in the comments! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So Far This Summer.....

Summer is already off to a great start! We just finished putting up some hay today. Still more to do, but we already put up about 200 bales. We've got it down to a science: Mum driving the truck, Dad stacking in the trailer, AJ and I loading bales. Then, back at the house, it's Mum stacking in the loft, AJ taking them off the hay elevator, me putting them on, and Dad unloading. Mum and I both agree; haying is our favorite seasonal chore. As Mum says, "It's a great satisfaction to see a barn full of hay and know you're set for the year." And, of course, it smells wonderful. So earthy and sweet.

Another family tradition also makes haying one of our favorite chores.....the promise of a Coolata from Dunkin Doughnuts afterwards! :)

Aside from haying, the garden is also starting to do very well. Mum's been working very hard in it. Her cabbages are beginning to form heads, the onions are growing quite large, and the gooseberries are ripe! Plus, Mum and I were very excited to harvest our first batch of spinach!!!! We couldn't get over how prettily green it was. The pictures don't do it justice!!

Happy Fourth!

Monday, June 4, 2012


It seems that almost every year, our family is blessed with some adorable animal to take care of to foster for a while.....there was our little of 5-day old kittens two years ago, our orphaned guinea hen last year, and this year....raccoon's!!!!!

Our elderly neighbor found these two adorable 1-2 month old baby raccoon's on the side of the road, and everyone on the road carefully watched them all day. As it got later, and there had still been no sight of Mama, we decided to catch the babies and put them somewhere safe for the night. Mum (being the resourceful one she is) picked them both up and walked them home, where she put them in an empty wire cage with plenty of soft hay. She next drove them up to our neighbor's garage, on the property where they were found, to spend the night.

We got the 'kittens' on Friday, and it's Monday now. Mum's been feeding them milk out of pet bottles, and our neighbor, who is tickled pink by them, has been giving them some wet cat food. There's still no sign of Mama, but they are both eating well so far. We were all very surprised about how tame they already were; they may hiss when you pick them up, but they've never tried to hiss, bite, or lash out at us.

Please check back often! I will be posting regular updates about the little creatures.

Laundry Day

Another beautiful spring day in New England; blue skies, and green sprouting everywhere.

Homemade laundry detergent.
How the finished product should look...
Ingredients...I've included Mum's favorite pre-wash stain remover.

Along with the warm weather comes the ability to finally hang our laundry outside. Mum hasn't never really used our dryer! In the summer, everything is hung outside on a large clothing line, and in the winter, an Amish clothes-rack is used in front of our wood stove. Some people consider hanging up clothes to be  a bit of a nuisance; much easier to just 'push a button.' But our family has found that it doesn't take much time at all, that the clothes feel softer, smell better, and saves a lot of money on the electric bill.

But Mum's laundry tricks don't stop there....she also makes her own laundry detergent. Originally she found the recipe in a magazine, and has consistently made all of our laundry detergent for two years. The ingredients for it are easy to find (you can find them in most grocery stores), and can be purchased for under $10.00. It can also make 108 large loads! Mum figured it out, and each load (about 1-2 cups of detergent) only costs $0.08!!!!! Compare that to many smaller loads of store-bought detergent, costing about $0.26 per load.

Laundry Detergent Recipe
1/2 Bar of Fels Naptha, grated.
1 Cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda.
1 Cup of Borax. 


1. Grate the Fels Naptha, 

2. Fill a medium size sauce pan about half way with water, and then heat grated Fels Naptha in it, until dissolved.

3. Add the washing soda and Borax, stir until dissolved.

4. Remove from heat. Place the mixture in a 4 gallon bucket, and fill with warm water. 

5. For best results, allow the detergent to set and cool overnight. The mixture will become thick, like jello. You can break it up with your hands, making it look like gelatinous curdled milk. 

Small loads of laundry will use about a cup of detergent, large loads should take 2 cups. It cleans the clothes very well, however, will not work on stains. Clothes with stains should be pre-treated and then washed for best results. Mum's favorite stain remover, which she has found to work very well, is Resolve.

So there you have it! Happy Washing, everybody!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

5 Facts About Nettles

1. Feed them to your poultry, and they act as a natural de-wormer.

2. A 1-cup portion of nettles provide 369-493 percent of you're daily value of Vitamin D.

3. Drinking nettle tea can help reduce joint pain, fight allergies, and clear your sinuses.

4. Just a small handful of nettle leaves provide more than 100% of your daily value of Vitamin A.

5. Nettles contain 40% protein, an amount unheard of in vegetables.

Talk About Living Off The Land!!!

"You sure you want to eat that, Bean?" Questioned my grandmother as I took a heaping spoonful of, what I believed to be, cooked spinach.
"Yeah, why? Don't you like it?" I replied. She just gave me a look and turned back to the stove. "I like spinach." I continued, "We never eat it just plain, like this." Then, as I caught Mum smiling at me, something clicked. "Oh! Is that nettles?"

Funny as it seems, it occurred to me to be a very likely possibility. After all, Mum had recently printed a Swedish recipe off the internet for nettle soup, and just that morning had commented on how the dangerous weeds were popping up in the strawberry bed. And I was right. She had harvested them that morning.

I smiled, pleasantly surprised, and sat down to eat. Yes, I was nervous...I'd been stung by nettles enough to know that eating one that had not been properly cleaned would result in a rather unpleasant experience, but I was curious, none the less. Dad then entered the kitchen, and started fixing himself a plate. "Spinach!" Mum whispered urgently at me, pointing to the green heap on my plate, "spinach!", so I nodded and played along.

We went through dinner quietly, with only small talk, until Dad finished and leaned back in his chair. "That was good, Mom." He said.
"How'd you like the spinach?" She inquired.
"Good, different. We don't usually eat that."
"Good." She replied with a straight face, "Because it wasn't spinach. That's nettles."
"No sa!" My Dad laughed, "Really?"

We all agreed that they tasted, and certainly looked, exactly like spinach. Although certainly not the best thing you'll ever eat, the nettles didn't taste as bitter as we would have initially thought. We can't wait to try them in something, like a quiche. And so, that was our first experience eating nettles. But how did Mum actually prepare them, you ask?

To harvest nettles, pick the top leaves off the plant (make sure to wear gloves! They are called Stinging Nettles for a reason). Then rinse them in water, and boil for ten minutes. This will be enough time to rid the nettles of their sting. Rinse the nettles again in cold water, which will ensure they keep the bright green color! You can either eat them plain as a side-dish, or as a substitute for spinach in your favorite recipe. If you will be freezing them for future use, make sure to squeeze as much of the water as you can out, because they do hold a lot of moisture.

The water you boiled the nettles in will have turned a brown color; save this water and use it on your plants, or to prepare nettle tea. Directions on tea making will come soon!