Wednesday, April 29, 2009

homemake crackers

I made my first batch of homemake crackers. They turned out really good! Everyone loves them. If they sold these in the store I'd buy them. The recipe is called saltines, but they are really just a plain crispy cracker.

SALTINE CRACKERS heat oven to 350

3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup lard

mix together until it is pretty uniform. I put it in the stand mixer and walked away for a while.

Drizzle in water. You want a stiff dough, so be sparing.

Either roll out the dough thin or send it through the pasta roller. Cut into 2" squares. I used a pizza cutter. Put on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 until medium brown.

It's pretty much like making cookies. Next time I'm trying it with whole wheat. I love finding new things I can make myself, especially when it's things I normally buy in a store.

Monday, April 27, 2009

baby steps

I love doing "pioneer" stuff. Things I've done today-- Read scriptures and prayed. Exercised by walking around the lake at the park near our house. Cooked and ate oatmeal with flaxseed for breakfast. Took care of the chickens. Homeschooled my daughter. S~ dissected a mole the cat had caught. It was the first mammal she's dissected. Made laundry soap from homemade soap. Washed my laundry with that homemade laundry soap. Did the dishes with homemade soap and scrubbed the dishes with a dish rag I knitted. Puttered around the garden. Spun wool. Wrung out the deerskins. Cooked a ham (on a great sale from the grocery) and cut up the meat in 1/2 lb chunks for several future meals. Boiled up the bone for future soups. Used food storage to make lunch. Worked on reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese. Cleaned the bathtub with nature cleaners (vinegar and cream of tartar). Collected eggs from the chickens. Sat around talking with the kids and a beloved friend (this is known as family home evening). All these things qualify as homestead type activities because I didn't pay anyone else to do it for me OR I used very basic ingredients OR I used my own materials. I consider walking around the lake just as good as working out at a gym. The ham serves as several meals instead of buying meat in smaller (more expensive) portions. Reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese is my language study, instead of attending a class. Having an evening with my family is a lovely way of entertaining ourselves, better than watching TV or going to the mall. I like to think some of the stuff I'm doing will eventually be useful. The deerskins will eventually be clothing. The yarn will eventually be an afgan.

I did a bunch of other stuff that doesn't really qualify as homesteady (phone calls, balancing the checkbook, shopping, watching funny youtube videos, writing on this blog). But it feels good to think that I am making progress on this pioneer adventure. I'm doing more than I used to. I'm taking baby steps toward simple living.

Friday, April 24, 2009

chickie girls

Even if I complain about my chickie girls, I still love having them in the backyard. They are my first real step toward urban homesteading. One of them is sick and laying shell-less eggs. I can't tell which one. They all act healthy. I've been told this illness is going around, but I sure don't have a clue what to do about it. The rest of them are laying (abundantly).

front yard

The strawberries are looking lovely and the rhubarb is going great. This was the first year we were able to eat off the the rhubarb and it was a huge treat! They said to only pick lightly this year, but next year the feasting will begin! The strawberries are just barely starting to flower, so we have them to look forward to. I have both these in our front yard. I also have two apple trees and several blueberry bushes. And flowers.

my beautiful daughters

Both of these pictures were from the same night. C~ was the bride in the school play (she spent most of her big scene locked in the bathroom). M~ went to a church dance. Don't they both look lovely?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

lawn mowing

It is a beautiful spring day today. I love spring. This one is a bit different. I don't have grass in my backyard. The chickens have done a meticulous job of removing all the vegetation in the backyard. I have chicken wire around the garden squares, but other then the garden squares the girls have been very efficient. I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand we don't have to mow; on the other hand I like green. These girls are serious lawn mowers. Who knew? They didn't manage to remove it all last summer. I still had a green lawn last fall. I guess they've been working hard all winter. I just didn't see this one coming. They have free run of the entire backyard. That's a lot of space for nine chickens. They got it all. Seriously. All. Every blade. They've even eaten a six inch strip around the outside perimeter of our yard where they've stuck their heads through the fence as far as they can. On the other hand, they are loving, friendly birds that are really good at laying eggs. I love my chickie girls but we really look like poor white trash with our backyard like this. Front yard is still green.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


A friend died this weekend. He grew up with my children. His family moved away a few years ago, but we still kept in contact. He was driving, his girlfriend was with him, and they were rammed by a drunk driver. Their car exploded, they both died. He was 19, she was 16. The drunk is in the hospital. Life is so unpredictable. My heart is just breaking for the families. I know my friend has moved on to the next life. We're all here for a short time. Some of us are here for a really short time. None of us know when it will be over. Even if my friend is with God now, it is still an horrid trial for his family. What do you say to a woman who has her son killed in such an awful way? The drunk is being charged with two counts of murder.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Wow. It sure was easier this time. By soaking the hides in an ash solution the ashes stained the membrane. It was tons easier to see when it was stained. It all scraped off fairly easily. So far the only hard part has been graining the neck. No wonder I had a hard time the first time I did it. I was trying to grain the most difficult part of the entire hide and not understanding what in the heck I was supposed to be doing. This time everything makes much more sense, but graining the neck was still about impossible. How ARE you suposed to be able to get the grain off of that part of the hide? I finally just gave up on the last part of it. But I got most of it off. I grained, I acidified, I got the membrane off, I wrung it out. Now I have them soaking in the soap/oil solution.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

third try

Here's my latest attempt to disgust my children. They can't handle me working with the deerhides and singing "and we tanned his hide when he died Clyde..." I'm trying again with the deerhides. This is a picture of me fleshing. I didn't take a picture of me graining this hide. My first two attempts at graining (the two hides down in the basement) didn't go well, this time it went much better. Now for the next step, membraning. I'm hoping the weather will be pleasant tomorrow because I'm anxious to get to get on with it. I have yet to successfully turn deerhide into buckskin, but I'm working on it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

laundry soap part two

I really shouldn't give recipes until AFTER I've used it a few times. I'm not happy with this particular recipe. The soft gloopy soap is floating on top of the borax/washing soda/water solution. If you give it a good shake it stirs up, but I'd prefer to have a more homogenous mixture. It seems to work ok, but then again I'm not exactly picky about that sort of thing. It'll be a while before I try another recipe, I've got a ton of this stuff.

BTW, just as an experiment I tried washing my hair with my soap (not the laundry soap, just the homemade bar soap) and it worked ok, but it does seem to need a conditioner afterwards. My hair isn't at all picky about what I do to it or maybe I should say I'm not at all picky about what I do to my hair. I'd give the "shampoo" soap bar a qualified ok. I'm still going to try to make liquid soap and see how that turns out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

laundry soap

OK, I made laundry soap with my homemade soap. It was really easy. I'm using it right now in the wash. I'm also using it to do my dishes. I love getting around the system (or getting around Walmart, in this case).

Laundry soap mix

grate up 2 bars of soap
dissolve (melt) in 1 qt boiling water
add 2 gallons warm water
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda

Mix until dissolved, stored in a closed container. Use about 1/4 cup to do a load of laundry. It'll get gloppy when cooled, but just mix it in with the water.

election job

I worked another election. I don't think I'm made for those sort of jobs. It feels like such an incredible waste of time. I could've gotten so much more done at home. But they pay me. Fussing around the house doesn't pay. DH assured me that all jobs are like that-- you exchange your life for their money. I don't think I could do that on a daily basis.

Monday, April 6, 2009

frog science lesson

I've been homeschooling the kids for a long time. This is a picture of S~ dissecting a frog. It was absolutely fascinating. In this picture she has just figured out her frog is a female and FULL of eggs. I love homeschooling. I love spending so much time with my children. I love learning together. Next year will be my last year; S~ wants to go to high school after that. I can't say I've been the best teacher, but I sure have enjoyed it (on the whole, there are days.....). Now the kids might give you a different picture of homeschooling, but for my part-- I love it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

city chickens

I'm trying to learn how to embed a video onto my blog. I need to make another one of these since the girls have been laying for a long time.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

april fools

Spaghetti and meatballs. I've been wanting to make this cake for a long time. My friend has a birthday on the 1st of April and that gave me the perfect excuse! The "meatballs" are chocolate so this not only looks cool it tastes divine.