Thursday, December 31, 2009

tally-ho for 2009 garden

The garden/chickens only produced 7.2 lbs for the month of December, but hey, it's winter.

Grand announcement-- the 2009 garden produced 692.5 lbs of food.

That's food we ate (and we have eaten almost all of it) and it was organic, fresh, delicious and as local as food can get!

I fully expect next year to produce much more. This past year's apple crop was non-existant. Well, four or five apples. The year before we got baskets and baskets of apples. I'm already planning out the garden for 2010 and while I do not expect the chickens to do quite as well, I expect the garden to do even better. I really want to grow more of the food we need to buy in the grocery store.

Of the new things I tried I was most impressed with Chinese cabbage and Fortex beans. The Chinese cabbage did well in both the spring and in the fall. It sure was a lot more productive than the regular cabbage! The Fortex beans were delicious and productive (and an heirloom seed gift from my mother!) I was totally unimpressed with the eggplant and the watermelon. The yard long beans did well and were interesting but I was the only one in the family who really liked them. Kohlrabi was interesting to grow and delicious to eat but it sure didn't produce much food for all the space it took up. Swiss chard was ok. It grew ok but it's no one's favorite vegetable. Most of the rest of the stuff I grew I've grown for many years and is very reliable, ie bush beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peas, cucumbers, etc.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We had a lovely Christmas together. All the kids were here and DD#1 brought her boyfriend for us to meet. It's been fun. We had all grown-ups for the Christmas nativity play.

hanging out at Christmas

We went to the zoo on Christmas eve, like we always do. It was cold and rainy and easily the worst weather we've ever had for visiting the zoo. We still had a good time. And then back home for more game-playing (and massive amounts of eating).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the kids are coming home

All my kids are going to be here for Christmas. We picked up the two college girls last night (and promptly fed the starving students pizza). College boy is coming in this afternoon and GI Joe is coming this evening. I've been so looking forward to this. It will be a crowded house. We even have an extra, a friend of DD#1 is coming to stay next week. I haven't had to cook for an army in a long time and I'm very much looking forward to it. I love cooking. Although the girls love it too and I've already been informed they get to take over the kitchen at least some of the time. The question is will they get out of bed before noon?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

DH graduates

It's official! DH graduated from nursing school. Now he needs to take the RN exam and then off to find a job. The building where he graduated is a symphony hall. It's is like something out of Phantom of the Opera. He's worked so hard this year to earn this.

Abinadi and King Noah

New seminary video

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I love Christmas

I love everything about Christmas except the presents. I love having an extra excuse to think on the miracle of Christ's birth, I love the decorating, the food, the music, the parties, being with family, the whole atmosphere. I like everything except the presents. Presents represent a materialism that I'm just not comfortable with. My kids think I'm nuts.

Isn't this a nice picture? My oldest son was taking pictures as we decorated the house for Christmas. I liked this one the best.

Monday, November 30, 2009

November tally-ho

Garden-wise November was a really slow month. It was pretty much the leftovers of gardening and on top of that the chickens were molting and hardly laying at all. In spite of these complaints the garden (and the chickens) produced 15.5 lbs of food. So far the urban homestead in 2009 has produced 685.3 lbs. Naturally this doesn't include all the soap and that sort of thing, this is just the food garden and the chickens.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I's such a sucker for pictures of our cat. Isn't she sweet? We're home for Thanksgiving. Later today we decorate for Christmas. I love being with my family. Right now they are out taking a walk around the lake and I'm staying home cooking. I miss the kids who can't be here today. BUT they will all be here for Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

soap and politics (in that order)

I'm tired. I've been labeling soap most of the afternoon. In a lot of ways that's my favorite part of the business. I usually find a documentary on netflix and waste an afternoon labeling. Today I put together the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle soap and the Chocolate Panda soap. Two of my very favorites. I guess I'm just a sucker for the chocolate smells.

On a family note my 3rd son is home for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's so good to have him here. More politics were discussed in the first hour he was here than in the past few months put together. I guess that's why he's a studying political science-- he's actually interested in that sort of thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

easiest diet ever

I decided I was eating too much and committed to not eat between meals. I know this sounds way too simplistic, but it is amazing how much of a difference it makes in my eating habits. I've already lost a few pounds. I like simple solutions to problems. This may sound sort of dumb but it sure is a major step for me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday Open House

OK, I've taken the plunge and announced a HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE on December 5th for Hodgson's Homestead. I'll have the soaps and beauty products and hand spuns on display all over the living room. It should be really festive with the house all decorated for Christmas. I've never done anything like this before, it should be fun. Please come! It's an open house, so just drop by and visit, see the new stuff, buy some stocking stuffers. I'll have some gift baskets made up, too. Bring the kids, I'll have a corner for them to play in. There will be some little yummy treats to help the holiday spirit. (How many days do I have to get ready for this??????)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

look what's planted in my garden

In the fall I take the chickens wire off my garden squares and give the girls a chance to roam in the garden. They each took one square and settled in. Doesn't it look like I'm growing chickens?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Godzilla cake

I was asked to make a "boy" cake. I was thinking of making some aliens. I was conferring with my best cooking helper, my daughter, and she drew a picture of Godzilla fighting aliens. I dropped the aliens, but kept just about everything else about her drawing.

fall colors

The sun was setting and it made the fall foliage so beautiful. I love interesting light.


Pippin hanging out with the chickens. Pippin is adorable. She can't help it, she just is.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

fat of the land

I get a kick out of living off the fat of the land. Yesterday I picked up some bales of straw (for the chickens) that someone had just set out "free." I'll be going back today to get more. I can only fit five bales into our mini-van at one time, but there are stacks and stacks available for the taking. People use straw as decorations around Halloween and then want to get rid it of immediately afterward. AND the same day one of the ladies at the farmer's market had some soap supplies she no longer wanted and gave them to me for a very good price. So in this case it is literally the FAT of the land. Shea butter, avocado oil, that sort of fat.

I really haven't decided how far I want to take this soap making. It is sucking up my life but I do get a kick out of running my own business. I have several opportunities to make this business bigger, but that would mean giving it more of my life. I haven't had time to do much else other than make soap over the summer (meaning no sewing). Still, I want to be able to continue to experiment and learn how to make more beauty products and soaps. I finally came up with an absolutely perfect facial lotion, that took several attempts. I want to keep experimenting. I'm still having fun with this. Somebody has to buy this stuff or I can't keep making it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

october tally-ho

The garden produced 64.2 lbs in October.

Total for the 2009 (as of end of October)-- 669.8 lbs

Half the chickens are molting, they aren't laying many eggs, but we are still getting some. I won't be getting much produce from the garden for the rest of the year. So the year's total isn't going to get much bigger.

Monday, October 26, 2009

my son the ranger

My son earned his ranger tab. I told people he was in super-hero training. Actually it is closer to agreeing to being tortured for a few months and if you can survive with honor you are a ranger. He was pure muscle before he went in and he lost 25 pounds. We went out to his graduation and they put on quite a show. The picture of the guy saluting was actually dropping into the water from a high rope he had shimmied along. They did lots of interesting explosive demonstrations and jumping off/climbing up cliffs and jumping out/being retrieved with helicopters. That sort of thing. It was very interesting. The fighting demonstration reminded me of Karate demos. He is in recovery mode. He's eating (they don't let them eat hardly at all during ranger training) and sleeping (guess what else they don't get to do) and basically healing from the ordeal. He's very proud he completed his training and thrilled he never has to do it again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

growing sweet potatoes

It's easy to grow sweet potatoes. REALLY easy. It just takes a long time. Here's how I did it. Towards the middle of February I bought a couple of organic sweet potatoes from Whole Food market. I mistrusted what might be on the sweet potatoes at some of the more conventional stores. I didn't want to eat this, I wanted them to sprout. I brought them home and put them in a plastic dishwashing tub with a couple inches of damp dirt in it. I buried them half way into the dirt and put the tub in a warm place (top of frig). I left them there until they sprouted (only one of the potatoes sprouted, the other rotted). In a few weeks I had green leaves and put it in a mildly sunny warmish place, like next to a window. Keep the soil a bit damp and leave it like that until the weather outside is dependably warm. Early April is bit early, late April or May. Around then. It might grow like crazy, but that's ok. You can eat the extra leaves as greens. The phillipinos treat them like a delicacy. Actual planting--- roughly yank the slips (shoots?) from the mother sweet potato and immediately bury the hairy rootlike part of the slip in the dirt at least a foot apart from each other, maybe two feet. Now you ignore the plant until October. Watering if it is getting less than an inch of water a week, but even that isn't totally necessary. They love sunny hot weather and will try to take over the garden. They are sort of hard to mess up. In October, or whenever it gets around frost time dig them up, let them dry in the sun for a day and then put them in a big plastic bag, with the top left open. Put this in a warm place, like about 80 degrees. Leave for a couple weeks. This is called curing. After that just store them in a normal temperture place. They stay good for months.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

sweet potatoes are in

I dug up the sweet potatoes. They are about the last thing in the garden. Some tomatoes will still ripen and some peppers and a few other things, but the garden is basically done for the year. The sweet potatoes are the last serious harvest before winter. I got almost 30 lbs. I already cooked up the first batch and they are delicious!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's your favorite scent?

I need help. OK, I'm begging for help. Anyone and everyone who might read this blog would you let me know what your favorite scent is. I can get just about ANY scent in the department stores or in Bath and Body Works or at Victoria Secrets or from all-natural essential oils, etc. I'm serious. I can get just about any scent. I want to get an idea of what people really like. Sometimes I use a scent that I love and my customers aren't near as interested. Other times I'm ok with a scent and they go nuts over it. I want some new ideas.

SOOOOO I'm taking a survey, put your answer in the comment section. You can go in as anonymous. What's your favorite scent?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

City chickens (now with eggs!)

My kids helped me put this together. They're wonderful!

Friday, October 9, 2009

it's still raining

It rained all day yesterday and the weatherman said it would rain all day today. Good day to stay inside and get some work done. I love being at home. It's my favorite place to be. Rain encourages me to just stay home and putt around the house. There sure is plenty to do! I've been making .... homemade food. You know-- bread, yogurt, sprouts, that sort of thing. I'm trying to eat fewer chemicals. I've been leaning that direction for a long time and I decided to just take it to the next level. I just feel better about eating things that I understand. I had homemade yogurt for breakfast, with a bit of cherry syrup. Most of the syrups available from America are all made with high fructose corn syrup, but I get this from the Global market and it is made with (this is the complete ingredient list) sour cherries and sugar. It's from Slovenia (I think). It's fabulous. I also had a fried egg (guess where that came from) and a bit of 100% apple juice. I have a bread sponge raising (fermenting?) and that's for lunch. Did I mention I like to cook?

Monday, October 5, 2009

soap business

These are a few of my newer soaps. I think they turned out really pretty. Packaging the soaps is the funnest part of the business. A lot of people have asked for gift baskets. This is my first attempt at making a gift basket. I'm glad I made it up before Saturday's market. Half the soap I put in the basket sold out. I need more practice making gift baskets, but I'm basically happy with this one.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

tally-ho for September

The produce total for September is 90.1 lbs. That means the total for the year is 605.6 lbs. This includes eggs. When I say it out loud it sounds good, even though this hasn't been that great a gardening year. I love eating out of my own yard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

field trips

The best part of homeschool is the field trips. We've had a very active homeschool group for the past .... 16 years. It has been the one perfect part of my life. Now it has fallen apart. We are trying to arrange something for this Thursday, but all the main members have grown up and moved away and I'm on my very last year with my very last kid, it just feels like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. We've had such a good run.

Every month we'd have one field trip and one academic activity. Long trips in the mom vans with the seats all packed with the kids playing cards games and talking. The moms nattering away about life. Visiting interesting museums and historical sites. Eating lunch together. The kids climbing trees and running through the woods. It has just been wonderful.

Some of my favorite memories-- Butt bumping down the smooth capital steps when no one was looking. Gathering the kids together to look at a deer, who promptly squatted down and dumped a load. Finding out how much Mary Todd Lincoln's sister hated her. Watching Lewis and Clark canoe into St. Louis. Touring Powell symphony hall immediately after watching "Phantom of the Opera." Finding out that Daniel Boone's daughter was married to Governor Boggs. Camping together during a torrential downpour. Country day reports, complete with food samples. And, of course, going apple picking every year.

I love homeschooling. I'm going to miss it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shall we whine?

I'm tired. Every Monday I try to get to the bottom of my inbox. That means doing all the financial stuff, taking care of all the paperwork that flows this way, just clearing out the incoming stuff. I'm amazed by how long it takes to do. It generally takes me at least an entire afternoon, usually most of the day. That's always a happy feeling to be able to see the black wire of my wire inbox. Usually it is covered with papers. Oh well. Now that I'm done with that I can get to the rest of the work I haven't done yet today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

new soaps

I haven't even packaged them up yet, but I had to show off how pretty they turned out. These are my newest soaps. They smell heavenly and I think they look really pretty. I tried some artsy techniques on them and I think they turned out really well. We'll see what the customers think!


It's been fall for a few weeks now and I'm in the routine of seminary, high school, homeschool, soapmaking. Each new activity takes a bit of time to settle in. The farmer's market goes for another month and a half and then I'll have a new adjustment to make. I'm looking forward to having a bit more time for projects other than the business. It feels funny to have so few kids around here. I sure miss having the whole bunch of them. I've only got two left at home (and a third who comes to visit once a week). I am most comfortable with the roll of "busy young mother." I'm not settled into my new roll in life. Old coot. I have to force myself not to cook as much. I don't need to do laundry every day of my life. Even my shopping has gone way down. I sure miss the fun we had together. Homeschooling for all those years. This is my last year of homeschool. But it's not like I'm not busy all day long. I've still got two kids to take care of, my wonderful husband, the business, seminary, the chickens, the garden, and a ton of other things. Can I still miss having all the kids at home?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

homemade noodles

One of the advantages of having chickens is all the eggs I get to cook with. These homemade noodles have eggs as a main ingredient. They are delicious.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

my daily bread part two

I messed that entry up but the picture did appear. I am so tech UNsavvy. How will I survive without my kids?

ANYWAYS, the picture represents one day's pickings out of our garden. Well, garden plus chickens. But, obviously, it was a good day. A better than normal harvest. It is wonderful how much food we get out of our garden. It isn't enough to feed the family for the year but it is a good amount of food and every year I try to expand it and get more.

my daily bread

Thursday, September 3, 2009

early September day

It is a beautiful fall day. It's only the very beginning of September so maybe it is too early for fall, but it is lovely. Last night for dinner we had fresh salsa made from the garden. I love it when I can do that. We've eaten all the onions I had stored. I think I'd have to plant an acre of onions to make them last the entire year. I use a lot in my cooking. I'm getting tons of peppers right now. I prefer to eat them fresh, but frozen will have to suffice because they are coming in too fast. I love eating out of my garden. I know exactly what has been used on it (nothing) and how fresh it is (very).

Monday, August 31, 2009

August tally

This month the garden produced 68.7 lbs.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm on TV, sort of

My soap made it on TV. Here's the link.

It's about a 10 minute clip, the part that my soap is a part of starts at 4:04 Pretty cool, huh? We have some of the most wonderful people at the Farmer's Market. Molly's a real mover and shaker, as you can tell from the video clip.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

chickens in the rain

I haven't talked about the girls for a while. They have taken over the back yard. They run around, eat bugs, eat grass, eat whatever. They destroy my garden (when there's an opening in the chicken wire). They dust bathe. And they sure look funny in the rain. You'd think they'd huddle away from it, but no. They don't really seem to care how scraggly they look. I find them amusing. AND they're still laying eggs!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

new year of seminary

I'm the new seminary teacher. We started on Monday. Seminary is the before school religion class for high school students. I knew a lot of kids might come but I was shocked when 24 kids actually showed up! That is such a huge sacrifice for them, to go to church at 5:30am every day before school. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. They are a wonderful bunch of kids. I'm so proud of them. We are reading the Book of Mormon this year. About half of them have read it before and for half of them this is their first time to read it all the way through. I have two kids who don't speak English as their native language and one kid who is readjusting to English after speaking German for the past four years. Some kids are well-grounded in their testimony of Jesus Christ and some kids are searching and some kids just don't care. In other words it is a pretty typical class. I want to be a good influence on them. I help them find their own testimonies of their Savior. I heard a couple of the kids talking after class and one said to the other that his day just doesn't go right unless he attends Seminary. And the girl agreed. So if all they get out of Seminary is that life is better by going to Seminary then I've accomplished something.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

garden pics

Just showing off some garden pictures. The pretty flower is from the sweet potatoes. Isn't it gorgeous? The plants have tons of these lovely purple flowers on them. It is like a show plant. I'm getting tons of peppers, of all varieties. The lettuce looking plant is Chinese cabbage. It is so easy to grow and tastes fine. This was my first year growing it, but it's a keeper! The beans are from my mother-- Fortex. I'm so impressed with those plants. Easy to grow, productive and tastes delicious. Isn't that why we garden?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

pretty treats

I'm the new seminary teacher for our building. That means I teach the teenagers the Gospel every school day at 5:30am. It is a privilege and more then a little scary. For our first meeting I wanted to do something a little special and I made these mini-cupcakes. I don't have anything to show how tiny they are, but they are about the size of a piece of chocolate from a valentine candy box. They turned out really cute. People went nuts over them. They are different from a normal cupcake because they are frosted with candy. So they are half way between a piece of candy and a slice of cake. I thought they turned out really cute, especially all put together on the tray like this.

soap room

With five kids off on their own I actually had a spare room. After raising seven kids in a three bedroom house this is sort of amazing. S~ preferred to stay downstairs (where she has half the basement as hers). With my DH's encouragement I took over the smallest bedroom and converted it into my business office/workroom. I bought a desk and chair at the thrift store and reassigned the wire shelving to myself. The boxes are all full of soap. The chemicals are on the white shelving. I call this my meth lab. It is really wonderful having a place to keep all this stuff. It almost feels like a real business.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It was so hot today

We finally have a miserably hot summer day. It's August and I think this is the first one. July set records for being lovely, it just isn't normal. It was pretty steamy today at the Farmer's market. People still showed up, but it was just hot, how else do you say it? I LOVE air conditioning. That is probably the biggest crack in my "naturalness." I could live without a lot of things, but summer in this part of the country air conditioning is needed. That year we lost electrical power for over a week in both the summer and in the winter everyone (EVERYONE!!!!) agreed it was easier to deal with no power in the winter. When it is cold you just keep putting on more clothes and blankets, but in the summer you suffer. But today we have air conditioning and it is truly a blessing.

The chickens are so funny when it is hot-- they find the coolest, most shady part of the yard and hunker down on the ground. I think the dirt helps to cool them off. They all become mouth (beak?) breathers. They hold their wings out from their bodies, I assume that lets their body heat out. And do they ever drink a lot of water!

Friday, August 7, 2009

soap business

This blog started out as a chance to chronicle my attempts to live more simply. Then a business happened before I even realized it. It just sort of happened. I'm probably spending too much time messing around with the soap business and not enough with the simple living business. I haven't gotten much sewing done ever since I started this business and I miss it. BUT I'm learning all sorts of interesting things in the soap/beauty products world. Soap? I've got that one down pat. I'm still learning, but I'm way past the basics. Beauty products? Whoa. That is a much bigger challenge. My goal is to make natural products that are good for us (me). I'm really having fun with this but the biggest problem is shelf life. It's easy to make products; it's hard to have them last. I could just put in a chemical preservative, but that would defeat the whole reason I got into this. The more water in the batch the harder it is to keep it fresh. I just made a lovely batch of lotion and I'm very happy with it. I'll be selling it on Saturday. See if anyone else likes it. I' d love to expand into all sorts of products, but the shelf life is my biggest thing holding me back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

love them eggs

We have chickens, chickens lay eggs, we eat eggs. Here are two dishes we make fairly frequently. The omelet is an .... omelet. The hamburger looking patty is a black bean burger. It is usually in a bun with tomato and lettuce and cheese. I'll give you the recipe because it is delicious, vegetarian and uses up my food storage and they charge a lot for it at the store. It is good cheap food.

Black bean burgers (no real need for measurements, just throw it together)

2 cups of cooked black beans, mashed
1 cup of frozen corn (or fresh)
Optional- 1/2 cup of misc. chopped vegetables
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dry potato pearls or flakes (more or less)
1/2 cup dry onions
2 eggs (more or less)
salt, pepper, red peppers, to taste

Mush it together like meatloaf. If it is too watery add more potato pearls, if it is too dry add more eggs. Drop, by plops, onto wax paper. Smoosh down into a burger shape. Fry in oil, on both sides, until brown. Serve hot on a bun with all the fixings.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

July tally-ho

I've been weighing what we bring in from the garden and keeping track. It is truly impressive. In the month of July we brought in 80.7 lbs of food (that includes eggs). For the calendar year of 2009 we've brought in 363.1 lbs. I think farming my yard is well worth the effort, besides the food is totally organic and fresh. Fresh means standing in garden popping peas in my mouth. That's fresh.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

bollywood suggestions

For those of you who haven't discovered Bollywood movies yet you are in for a treat. We LOVE them. Some of them have better plots then others but they all have great dancing/singing/fun stories. And they are "cleaner" than American movies. I don't think they ever get worse then PG. I prefer that.

Here's are suggestions from us Hodgson women.

Om Shanti Om-- I love the dances in this one. It's about reincarnation (I think).
Main Hoon Na-- Action, romance, family squabbles, comedy. This is the perfect "something for everyone" movie. I LOVE it.
Kal Ho Naa Ho-- My daughter's favorite. We're always singing the music from it.
Dil Chahta Hai-- Another favorite from my girls
Veer-Zaara-- An Indian man falls in love with a Pakistani woman. Problems ensue.
Jodhaa Akbar-- More historical, supposedly a true story. We couldn't film this in America, we don't have that many trained elephants on our entire continent.
Delhi 6-- More realistic, gritty. There is still singing and dancing, but it isn't a fantasy, like most Bollywood movies.
Lagaan-- I LOVE the rain music from this one. Set in the 1800's, it is about clashes between the Indian culture and the British culture during colonization. The good guys are so good, the bad guys are so bad.
And finally, an oldie but goodie-- Bawarchi. The only movie our family has ever watched that made my children want to do good deeds for each other. It is set in the 60's, so if you can handle it being a bit dated it is a great movie.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

mid-summer garden

Every year I start out my garden with such high hopes and every year it doesn't live up to them. But every year I have some successes among my failures. This year I've been very impressed with Fortex climbing beans. These seeds were given me by my mother and it is a wonderfully tastey, high-producing climbing bean and an heirloom plant at that! Another plant that was very impressive was the garlic. It has a different growing cycle then I've ever had to deal with before (planted in the early fall and harvested mid -summer) but it produced quite a bit and was absolutely no maintainence. Chinese cabbage was another super easy big producer. This year was my first year to try Yard Long Beans. They are easy to grow and producing quite a bit, but I'm the only one in the house who really likes the flavor. Kohlrabi was easy to grow and tastes good, but it didn't produce that much. Sure looks wierd. Naturally the bush beans did great. The onion sets are the perfect plant, they grow every year and you can harvest them at anytime. Radishes produce dependablely, but no one really likes them that much. Swiss chard was easy, but it isn't anyone's favorite either. Leaf lettuce is easy and produces pretty good as long as the weather is cool. And, as far as I can tell, sweet potatoes are a good garden plant. they worked last year and they sure look like they are happily growing this year. Rhubarb. I like plants I stick in the ground and ignore. Rhubarb definately qualifies as low maintainence. I guess I should mention apples, even if this is an "off" year for apples. When they choose to produce they do it very impressively (they usually only produce big crops every other year). And strawberries. They are easy and taste fabulous, but my strawberries are on the tiny side. We still eat them. I guess I should throw in raspberries. They're easy to grow and taste great but I never get enough to bring in the house.

Things I have trouble with year after year-- spinach. I never get hardly any at all. Sweet peas. I get enough to make it worth my while, but they sure never make it to the freezer. They taste good picked fresh and popped in the mouth, but that is about all I ever get. Potatoes. I get a crop's worth, but they are so cheap in the store they're hardly worth growing. Carrots. I'm really lousy at growing carrots. Tomatoes. You'd think I'd have this one down pat, but I really need to talk to someone who's a tomato expert. I get some but never the huge amounts most gardeners get.

Plants that hardly seem worth the effort-- Broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, nasturiums. Let me just say nasturiums are a lovely flower and are supposedly edible, but no one likes the flavor, so it is more of a bragging right then a vegetable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

stay at home mom

Whenever anyone asks me what I do I say I'm a mom. I've been a stay-at-home mom since my oldest was little. This upcoming school year will be my youngest daughter's last year of homeschool before she goes to public high school (her choice). I love my job. It doesn't pay well, but it the best job ever. This past weekend I attended a memorial for a friend who died of cancer recently. It was held at the lovely home of his niece. I had never met the niece before but in the course of getting acquainted with her she told me she was a teacher and stressed how she could NEVER stay at home, just sitting around. I managed to keep my mouth shut (not one of my greater talents). She had a preschooler and was pregnant with her second child. I felt sorry for her, she has no idea what she is missing. How I treasured those days with young children. Wearing beyond belief, but a fabulous adventure. It was a huge adjustment to go from college classes and working to staying home with the boys, but I loved it. I read to them, we explored nature together, we entertained ourselves, cooked together, played together, we grew up together. I don't remember much "sitting around" going on. The biggest freedom I remember (which I still have) is the freedom to learn whatever I wanted. I've had tons of people tell me I can do anything. Well, I can. I can learn anything I'm interested in. Largely, because I'm a stay-at-home mom and I decide what I'm doing with my time. I've been able to learn a huge variety of skills/crafts/hobbies. I haven't learned to repair cars or computers, but that is because I don't want to, not because I can't or because I don't have the time. Now I have five of my seven kids out of the house. This is my last year of homeschooling. I don't really qualify as a stay-at-home mom anymore after this year. Great job. I'll miss it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

my products

I was hoping you could actually see some of the stuff I make/design/sell at the farmer's market. I'm having fun with this. Can you see the Panda soap? It's all chocolate and vanilla colored. That's actually made from chocolate. It's a lovely soap, all that cocoa butter makes it so soothing. This is only half of the table, but it gives an idea of the sort of stuff I sell. The weather on Saturday was delightful and we had big crowds. I love it when people come up and tell me they love what they've bought. They did that quite a bit on Saturday.

at the farmer's market

This is my stand at the farmer's market. We were right in the middle of unloading, so the back hatch on the minivan isn't closed yet. I'm talking with the Bee Guy. he's the one I get my beeswax from. As you can see my wares are displayed in baskets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

library display part two

library display

I was asked to provide a display for the library this month. I choose to show off a variety of things I learned to do. I learned all of these from books I read at the library. The little girl dresses use French handsewing (by machine). I even made the stuffed doll. I made one of those dolls for each of my girls. They were well played with. If you look at the display the dresses are on top, if you look carefully at the right hand side there is a Japanese purse, I used Omiage to do it. The second level has soap and gardening and chicken raising (which is mainly what this blog is devoted to). The third level has a couple of cakes that I whipped up just for this display. They'll be pretty nasty by the end of the month! I also have sugar flowers. That was a fun craft to learn. Insanely too much work, but they look pretty cool. The bottom level has knitting, spinning and making buckskin.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I know, I know, I need to take some pictures. I really am a lousy photographer. It is mid summer here. July is as bad as it gets, weather-wise. It is hot and humid beyond belief some days. We spend most of our time indoors during July. I really want to keep my garden going well into the fall. This is the time of year when I always feel a bit defeated. The only thing I can think of to put in are more beans, but by this time the bugs have figured out that I plant a lot of beans and are right there and good to go. The chickens scratched up my beautiful cucumber plants while I was on vacation and I pulled the sickly plants out, put fresh compost in and some new cucumber seeds. They've already popped up. It is amazing how fast things grow in the summer time.

Right now I'm getting a few beans, some lovely Yard Long Beans (a Chinese vegetable, super easy to grow, why don't more people grow these things?), onions, hot peppers, and that's about it. Oh yeah, a few tomatoes. I really am not a great tomato grower. I wish I was. I need to learn how to do it better. AND we're eating the garlic that we recently pulled out of the garden.

Oh, and the chickens are laying pretty good.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


At the farmer's market today I had several people stop by to tell me how much they liked the soap/lip balm/body bar. That is a real compliment to have people come back and tell me they like my products. I'm trying my best to make this little business a success, but I don't want it to take over my life. It seems willing. I really enjoy solving all the sniggly little problems of figuring out how to make this a successful venture, but God's work comes first, then my family, then, somewhere down the line comes the business. I do like having a business I can fit into my life. For example the other night I was labeling soaps and my daughter plopped down to help. We had "All Creatures Great and Small" running and it was a sweet time. The soaps look good and I didn't have to leave my family. Have I mentioned I like this better then substitute teaching?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

this and that

I've been running around trying to catch up from being gone for so long. I'm almost (but not quite) back to my routine. It's amazing how much work there is to do when you're out of town for a while. I made three batches of soap yesterday and two today. I cleaned out M~'s room and turned it into a soap room. Or I guess I should call it my business office. The garden has suffered from my absence. I think the potatoes are dead. The chickens got into the cucumbers and there are no more cucumber plants, they're all dead. In the same patch as the cucumbers the chickens scratched out all of the green onions. They obviously don't like to eat onions and we ate them all tonight in a lovely onion-y curry. My beans have a bad case of the bean beetles, but I feed the beetles to the chickens whenever I catch them. They sure like to eat those beetles. We had chinese yard long beans with dinner tonight. They are really good. I cut them up and used them like beans. They taste slightly different than beans, but they are very good.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I just tallied up the amounts the garden/chickens have produced in the month of June. The total was 83.8 lbs! This is the first year I've been consistent about weighing the food we are raising. The picture is of the garlic. It was super easy to raise and produced quite a bit. It took a long time, but it was totally brainless once it was in the ground. One sad note. While I was on vacation the chickens squirmed through the fence around the cucumbers and ate everything. So I need to refasten my chicken wire and then replant for a late crop.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

raspberries and apples

The raspberries were wonderful this year. We had to fence the bushes off so the chickens didnt' eat all the fruit. When I left on vacation I picked as many raspberries as I could, then I removed the fencing. The chickens were very happy to finish the picking for me. They love the raspberry bushes. They give them a place to hide in the shade.

The apple tree has some sort of wasting disease where some of the branches die and the leaves turn all brown, but this tree seems to have survived, with fruit! I'm not sure what the disease is but I know it killed one of my apple trees a couple of years ago. I usually lose a few small branches to the disease each year, but that one year I lost an entire young tree. I love apples. We had an apple tree in our backyard when I grew up and that apple tree played a major part of my childhood. We practically lived in that tree every summer.


Beans, beans the wonderful fruit. These pictures were taken right after I picked a whole bunch of the beans. You can see the strings they are climbing up. The beautiful flower is for Yard Long Beans, which is a chinese vegetable, look like a bean, used like a bean, it's not a bean. The other is a Fortex bean, seeds given me by my mother from her garden. They're doing fabulous and they taste great. I haven't grown climbing beans in a long time, I forgot how good they taste. They're so easy to grow. The only problem I've had is a bean beetle attacking them, but the beetles are easy to pick off and kill.

John Pack

OK, so no one has ever heard of him, but he is on a famous statue, farthest to the right, barely mentioned, but he's right there! We went out to Utah and visited the "This is the Place" monument and looked for evidence of John Pack (DH's only even mildly famous ancestor). We found him, last in line, but, hey, he's in the line, right behind "unidentified pioneer." John Pack was with the very first bunch of people who entered the Salt Lake valley with the pioneers. The monument is at the place where Brigham Young said, "This is the right place."

road trip