4 gallon crock + 2o pounds of shredded cabbage + pickling salt = A whole lot of sauerkraut!
This was my first time making sauerkraut and after reading many recipes I decided on the old fashioned way to do it. I used the recipe out of Putting Food By, by Janet Greene and made it in an old family crock. My Dad gave this crock to me not too long ago. I'm sure he intended as decoration or storage (it came with 35+ year old news papers of the moon landing and other major headlines). I don't think he had intended me to use it for a more practical purpose and maybe after the 5Th quart of gifted sauerkraut he'll hope he had never given it to me. I just love the idea of using it for like they did back when it was made in 1908.
I shredded cabbage from the garden using my Kitchen Aid mixer attachment to do all the shredding, it work fabulously and went really fast! I layered two pounds of shredded cabbage in the bottom of a 4 gallon crock with a 2 1/2 teaspoons of pickling salt. I then packed the cabbage down with the bottom of a jar and repeated until I reached twenty pounds of cabbage. The cabbage leaches water and creates a brine with the salt (this happens astonishingly fast).
I covered the cabbage with a cotton cloth, placed a plate that fit snugly in the crock and put a gallon jar full of water on top to keep the plate under the brine level. It is important to change the cloth and clean the plate everyday, the recipe says to scrape the "scum" of the top, but so far I have not seen any, only yellows brine.

Twice I have had to make a week solution o brine to
add to the crock to keep the liquid above the cabbage, 11/2 teaspoons of pickling salt to 1 cup water.
A few of the recipes I have read disagree on the time to let it ferment, 10 days to 4 weeks is what I am going with.
The fermentation period also depends on the temperature at which you keep the sauerkraut. The lower the temp the longer the process, the most important thing is to keep the temp as constant as possible and never above 72 degrees (it will spoil).
I am going to can mine once it is ferment because I could never use 20 pounds of sauerkraut fast enough (I can't even imagine trying) and it would be nice to give some away (isn't it just what everyone wanted). You could keep it in the crock and use what you need as long as you keep the brine level about the cabbage. I'll let you know how the canning goes.


A Showman is Born!

We have been done with fair for a few weeks now, but I just haven't gotten around to sharing a few really sweet photos. I am the 4-h co-superintendent of the sheep barn @ the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede, along with my mother who is the other co-superintendent. It is a busy job that requires us to live at the fair all week. I love it! I have always loved the fair and have only missed one since I was 10 years old when I started showing my sheep in 4-H. I even made it the two years I was really pregnant with each of my sons, who were born in Aug and Sept (the fair is the last week of Aug), the youngest was born the Sunday of fair.

Anyway, this year was a whole different kind of experience with
two little ones with me all week. Thanks to my mother, I could not have done it without her.
My oldest got to show his first sheep in a show called Lads and Ladies Lead. It is not a costume show, but instead it is to display wool as a functional material to wear and to promote the wool industry. We had a great turn out in contestants this year, it is open to all ages and garments. Whether the outfit is knit or sewn, second hand or commercially bought, there is a category for all. I didn't have any of my own sheep at the fair, so my son borrowed the cutest Shetland ewe, she was the perfect size. I was amazed at how well he walked her around the arena, he is used to sheep, but not leading them around on a lead. He won his category and Grandma won for her hand sewn, green vest of Pendelton wool he wore. It sure was a lot of fun! We also had fun with some silly photos of daddy and the boys with Uncle Burt ( a dummy we take to fair every year). He is a really popular guy, everyone loves to get their picture with him (and of course he is stuffed with wool and has a great hair piece made from wool).


A Cake To Remember

Happy Birthday Boys!
My boys have their birthdays with in weeks of each other, so to make life a little easier on myself and my family we gathered their birthday celebrations into one smashing day. I know this won't go over well every year, but since they're 1 and 3 they don't have much say or care.
And of course we were doing two in one, it had to be good. The whole family was invited and we did a BBQ on the deck and totally lucked out on the beautiful weather.
My three year old is really into trains, especially "Tommy" (Thomas the Tank Engine), yes we are on a nickname basis we know him that well. So I had a simple and sweet idea, to incorporate a vessel which uses locomotion, into the commotion, in the form of a train cake.
What you see was not my first idea. Note the 30+ individually decorated cake pieces, hand laid candy track surrounded by coconut grass, all laid out on a 2 X 4 foot board covering the whole dinning room table.
My mother had come home the week before with a cake pan with 9 individual train car cups, what fun! It looked like a great idea. After baking 4 pans worth of snickerdoodle cake the morning of, just to get enough for the party (not counting the practice run to make sure I could get the cake out of the pan) By the way, on a side note, for situations such as these baking spray with flour in it (yes it exists) is worth the small investment. I and many others (Thanks everyone!) were busy decorating each train car with frosting and candy as guests trickled in.
It turned out great, better than I had expected, each person and child could pick the car they wanted and it took every kid there to help blow out the candles. I can tell you this though, it most defiantly will not be repeated every year.


I'm Back!

Oh my gosh! Is it over yet? I don't really meant that, it's just that this summer has been soooo busy, I just now sat down and took a breath. I think in my last blog I was counting down the days till summer was in full swing and now I feel like I blinked and it is September. Time for Isaac to go back to preschool, the boys birthdays and fall to creep slowly (faster than I think) into view. I have do so much this summer that I couldn't possibly go back, except maybe to show you my first sewing project (yes, believe it or not sewing is a newer hobby for me), I'll have to show you later. Along with the 20 lbs of sauerkraut I made two days ago and the oh so cute sweater for Gavin that I am almost done with. Well the pictures will have to wait. You know it is really nice to be blogging again I hope my readers will come back!


geese, ducks, chickens OH MY!

Our newest farm tenants are growing fast and have to be moved to their new and more permanent home (there's a duck in with the chicks, really, can you find it?!). The geese have tripled in size in less than 2 weeks and act as though they were full grown. It's cute now because they're not nearly as intimidating as they will be when they're full grown and making an obscene amount of racket while threatening to pinch you with their beak at every turn.
The ducks are the very opposite, sweet and gentle, each with a bit of their own personality. The chicks, well they're just little chickens and I don't find to have as much character as ducks and geese, but they are still very cute. 
Today we are going to "teach" the ducks to swim. I don't think there will be much teaching going on, I think swimming is a pretty innate skill for any age duck, but it should be fun to watch.


with out the bucket

It has been a long time since I have posted a blog. It could be the busy, almost summer, days or the hideous illness that plagued our family for a week and a half or it could be the lack of interesting things happening in our lives. Well, I can tell you for sure it is not the third option, we have so many things going on that I couldn't get them all up. So I will start with geoducking without the bucket. If you have never goeducked before it is a lot of fun and a lot of work. Goeducks only reside in the Pacific Northwest and in a small area of Alaska coast. Their a large clam (bi-valve) and are buried in the sand about a meter down. Now, they cannot move as their foot is too small to move their mass. They can weigh upwards of 8-9 pounds and are a delicacy that go for a heft price.
We geoduck in front of our house when the tide is low enough. Usually we use a goeduck can (a sturdy metal tube about a meter in length, open on either end with handles). You locate the goeduck, dig a trench around it without disturbing it too much and then push the can down around it as far into the sand as possible. You start digging out the sand from the center until you can pull out the creature. The can is essential to keep the sand from continually falling in to the hole.
We usually have the can, but this time we didn't and Ty was determined to dig one without the can and on his own. He said he probably moved about 3 yards of sand from the hole and it took him over two hours. Needless to say, Gavin and I went back to the house half way into the adventure to take a nap (it was that exhausting to watch and Gavin was covered in sand). But in the end he came out victorious and made a couple of friends too. I love the picture of Isaac, it's one of those that you cherish for ever (not that you don't cherish every picture of you kids). We had geoduck fritters that night. The tide was well on it's way in when they were finally finished.


frog friend

Well I am not going to say much today, too sick. I think it is just wrong to be sick when it is sunny out, illnesses should not be able to live during nice weather.
 All I have today is a friend we keep finding in the lavender starts every day we water. Isaac wasn't sure what to do with this green lavender lover, it seems it was ok on his knee, but not his hand. 
Isaac can run with the biggest of our farm tenants, he isn't afraid of the big sheep or llama, but doesn't particularly like small creatures yet,  but I am confident he will grow to love them.


plant labels

It is just amazing how one day can be lusciously beautiful weather and the next turns to torrential down pours all day. I had the garden all ready to plant corn, the ground was tilled the rows were marked and hoed, all I need to do was soak the corn, plant it and watch it grow, but the rain beat me to it. Now I have to wait for another window of opportunity to get it in the ground. We did manage to find an opening in the rain , all though very brief, to get out, blow some bubbles and hope that summer is really on her way.
A fellow gardener and I were discussing plant tags, plastic or wood? I label seeds I have planted in the greenhouse or plants in pots, but I don't put the labels in the garden. I usually can remember what went where or I draw a map. As long as no one else tries to do any gardening it's not usually a problem. For my tags I like to cut up plastic milk jugs to make my plant labels, but since we don't drink milk out of plastic jugs at home we have to acquire them some where else (family members).
You can buy the plastic tags at a store (they work great), but who wants to spend the money. This is just the place for my motto "I can make that", I don't like using plastic that much, but I figure I am adhering to one of the three "R's", REUSE!. I always use both sides of the tag and recycle the plastic when I am done.Many gardeners do like to put labels in the garden though (it makes sense doesn't it). I do understand that if you put plant labels in the garden you wouldn't want the plastic tags everywhere because you would have to pick them up at the end of the year (hunt for the plastic tag game), so cardboard tags will work for the season (the do get lost easy), or those large craft tongue depressors work great, they're wide to give you plenty of room to write those long plant names.
The wood and the cardboard will just grind up with a pass of the tiller or mulch into the soil when you put you garden to bed for the season. (Of course that's not grass you see growing in my garden rows, you must be imagining things)
We did had a little fun earlier this year making decorative garden signs. My mother is the artist who panted plants pics on Fir rounds that Ty cut from the back pasture and stakes he split from some fire wood. TY then screwed the round to the stake (nailing it will split the wood), then he sanded the surface of the round just a little to make it easier to paint. After it was painted we then sprayed a sealant on it to protect it from the weather. I think they turned out really neat and would make a fun project for older kids. Now if we can only keep the dogs from pulling them out and chewing them up.
Well off to re-pot tomatoes. Remember, "someone made it, why not you".


think art

I just had to add my Lilac pictures and this very neat tree growing in the side of a cliff on the beach, to go along with the Lilly of the Valley pics. I want to take a few more flora and maybe some fauna pictures, frame each of them and hang three on chain down the wall. If you need help imagining here's a sample.  Alright not the three images I was thinking about, but I haven't gotten all of my pictures taken or put together yet, but you get the idea, just imaging the pictures framed and adjusted to relatively the same size and shape hanging like this down a chain on the wall. I think it is a really simple way to add some art to your walls that you did yourself.   
On a completely different note, yesterday my sis, a friend and I went some place amazing. First, happy birthday to them both (the reason for this awesome outing) it was so much fun. Every woman should have this experience at least once in her life, but probably more like at least once a month . The worlds problems could be solved and I guarantee that world peach could be achieved if everyone spent one day a month to go here. Are you interested yet? We went to the Olympus Spa, which is a Korean day spa and wow is it great. There are multiple relaxing pools of varying temps, steam rooms, dry rooms and you can use all of it for a totally reasonable price. As a treat we splurged and added scrubs and moisturising treatments. Let me tell you I have never been pampered like this before and I have never been cleaner (shinny new penny I think was the term used). Just so you know, it is nick named the naked spa for a reason, no swimsuits allowed in the pools, but men are not allow either so birthday suits it is. They have these places all over the US, so find one and us it. I have been asking myself how I never knew about this heavenly place before, but I am sure glad I do now.


lovely lilly

Just imagine a valley of these, can't you just smell it. I wish I could bottle it and save it to smell anytime I wanted because these special little flowers don't last long enough. I find it frustrating and a little sad that floral fragrances never smell quite the same when they come out of a bottle. I love Lilly of the Vally with it's sweet little bells tinkling in the breeze and that beautiful aroma wafting through the air, there great to put by a gate or walk way to smell as you pass by and any cute little thing that doesn't mind the shade is a good thing ( was that too Martha?).
I wanted to share a great web site that my sis showed me. It is a conglomerate of crafty tidbits from talented bloggers like many of us. You find all sorts of great things you would love to make and just don't have the time, ahh dare to dream http://craftgossip.com, check it out.


back to the grind stone

Hi everyone, we are back from a wonderful extended weekend in the San Juan Islands. It was great! There was an abundance of good weather, good food and good company. It was just the boys, Ty and I exploring some different parks and beaches, taking some great walks and having a very fun picnic at the park. It was just what we needed. I now feel rejuvenated and ready to jump back into the garden, preschool and the beginning of summer. Yes that's right I said the beginning of summer, it is right around the corner. Can you believe it is already mid May, how did that happen? I still have so many things to get into the garden and so not enough time.(Gavin caught a cozy nap under the picnic table during lunch until his brother discovered his  fun little fort.)

I definitely don't have time for many projects with summer on her way, but while we were on the many ferry crossings it takes to get to the islands I did manage to finish another wire knit bracelet. This time I went with a green color pallet and a different clasp, I think it turned out nice, I am going to add it to my Etsy shop, which is slowly growing.


got brain food?

I keep reading snippets here and there about brain foods and lucky for us one of the tastiest is the blueberry (I am not personally a fan of oysters, but their good brain food too), but our blueberry row at home needed some help. I had a little encouragement from a friend recently and by encouragement I mean she came over with a shovel and a pick-up truck full of cedar sawdust and started hacking into the blueberry row (I couldn't let her do it all by herself). You see we have neglected it over a few years and it was starting to look like part of the lawn with blueberry bushes as weeds. Well, we fixed that by pulling up the grass and then adding cedar sawdust throughout the row. Blueberries love acidic soil and cedar is just that, it also turns out that weeds don't love acidic soil and take longer to come back, it is a win win kind of situation. We are devising a net system next so when the plants actually start producing those tiny brain boosters we can keep the birds from getting them (we wouldn't want them to get any smarter than they already are!). By the way, blueberries are not too tough to take cutting of and propagate your self. A heat pad, perlite mix and a rooting hormone and in a few months you should have small blueberry bushes. Hardwood cutting are the easiest to root, but soft wood will work.
Another grow your own food to smarten you up (as if you not already, I mean you are growing your own food how much smarter can you get) Kale, Chard, Collards, almost all leafy dark green veggies are intelligence builders and they are so easy to grow and there are some great recipes out there, so I guess there are no excuses.


Happy Windy Cinco de Mayo

April showers bring wind storms to blow down May flowers? I can't remember any day (let alone in May) the we have had such strong sustained winds all night and day, it is very strange and is not conducive to gardening in any way(unless in the greenhouse).
Our first farmers markets of the season started this last weekend. A kind and good hearted friend of mine has a stand and lets us share with them since I really don't have enough product to fill my own tent. Maybe when the peas and other garden goodies come out I might, it does make it a little easy on yourself if you can share babysitting the stand with someone (I haven't took my turns yet but I will). Anyway, she is doing two markets per weekend, a larger market on Saturday and a smaller more informal one on Sunday that doesn't last as long. Had I had been more prepared I might have more crafts to sell, but right now it is mostly starts that I had too many of in the greenhouse. My goal is to make enough money to pay for this years seed and potting soil. On a side note I wanted to share my favorite potting soil with everyone, it is a great mix of soil, sand, perlite and many other tid bits, it is just great for seed starting, I don't use a special seed starting mix anymore.
Back to farmers market items, I wanted to add to our very small medicinal herb garden this year so I started lots of Blue Anise Hyssop, Yarrow, Echinacea, and some other goodies. I took the extras and some extra Dill, Hollyhock, Heirloom tomatoes, some Lavender I propagated last year, some extra cabbage starts and rhubarb stalks. We are not at our total goal at the end of two markets but it is that much closer.
People were interested in the starts, but were really looking for Tarragon, Rhubarb plants and other veggie starts. So while at the nursery I went on a Tarragon seed hunt, last year I looked for the plant and found out that the plants don't come out into the stores until a little later in the season (around May) maybe because their are not supposed to be hardy (although mine made it through the winter outside just fine). What I found out on my seed hunt is... you can only find Russian and not the traditional French Tarragon in seed because the French will not go to seed. I am not sure of the flavor or characteristic differences between the two, but we will find out in a few weeks since I bought the Russian seeds to start. I did earlier this season propagate my French Tarragon by pulling a few plants apart and making sure they had some root left and they are doing good. Well, gotta run, don't forget to have a cold one (what ever it is just as long as it's cold) for Cinco de Mayo


wire knit bracelet

It is amazing how everything else can go out the window when gardening season starts. I can see how blogging rates might spike during the winter months, but I'm not ready to quit just yet, I think I need to get into a routine of blogging after the boys have gone to bed (yeah, we'll see if that ever happens).
I also needed a project to show everyone, not that I don't have something going constantly, but I wanted something finished and without roots and dirt attached to it.
And here it is, Ta Da... I finally made it through a whole wire bracelet, it took me a few goes but I got it and I put it on Etsy. By the way, you might notice my new Etsy shop link on the left, it took me a while but I finally got that up and running also (I feel pretty accomplished today). We will see what comes of it. Wire knit bracelets are surprising easy (as long as you don't let a two year old get a hold of it and you make sure you are have enough beads and wire). I already have another one in the works. They are just about as close to instant gratification as you can get with knitting and a little bit brainless so I can even do them with little distractions running around.
Speaking of little distractions, I had to add a few pictures of my farm boys and our farm fashion when we are gettin' stuff done , are they cute or what! Bye for now.


The day after

It is the day after Earth Day, did you miss it? Ty and I were discussing the sad truth that only one day is set aside for the ONLY place we have to live, even though we live here every day of our lives. While every day should be considered Earth Day, Ty made an uplift point. Ten years ago would every television station, talk show, stadium, company, small business or the Internet be paying homage to the destruction we have reaped and the spectacular beauty we live upon, no. Ten years ago many people didn't know such a day existed, so yes there is a silver lining.
Last blog I implored you all to find new and simple ways to adjust your life to help limit your consumption and in the end your waste, e.g. replace paper napkins and paper towels with cloth (saves money), use chlorine free bleach, turn off the light when you leave a room, buy biodegradable trash bags (wow are those simple or what!). I said I wanted to find three more ways my family can reduce our foot print. I have decide to go with one major change, NO MORE PLASTIC! This one is a doosie and not for the faint of heart. I really don't know how we are going to do it, but we can start with not buying or bring anymore plastics into the house. I have been trying to weed it out of the house already, but I think we are ready for the next step.
Now I don't like to admit I, on occasion, watch Oprah (rarely!), but I happened to catch a few minutes yesterday where they were talking about a garbage heap the size of Texas floating between California and Japan, in some places it is 90 feet deep. I did a little research on the net and it seems to have been around since the fifties, it is created by trash being thrown strait into water systems or the majority has been blown off the land into the water, the swirling currents collect the trash and consolidated it in to what has now been loving dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In the beginning the trash raft was largely made up of biodegradable garbage, but in the passing decades plastics have taken over and it is now 80% plastic. I was horrified that such a thing existed, but more so that I had never heard of it before.
So, as I make my grocery list I am taking a time out to think about the products that are significantly packaged in plastics. I'll try and find a better alternative and if I can't we will juts do without. A lesson I think all of us (especially Americans) could learn a little better. Living without, living with less, do really really need all the junk. Well, off the store, thanks for listening to another rant. I should be better by tomorrow and back to my usual cute kid and farm pictures. Ciao!


What are you doing?

What are you going to do on earth day, it's tomorrow did you know? Regardless of the fact that everyday should be earth day, I encourage us all to consider three ways we can incorporate simple yet meaningful ecofriendly habits into our everyday live. Here are a few that I try and practice (and I am not always perfect at doing all the time). Switch to energy saving light bulbs and stop using incandescent (the amount of energy they waste in heat is amazing), reduce shower time by just two minutes, plan outings in the car with multiple stops to reduce car pollution, buy second hand, turn the thermostat down. These are just a very few things that everyone could incorporate into their lives with hardly a ripple of change to their "norm". They are so easy and guess what they all save you money too, if your not motivated by helping the earth and the future then just help your wallet. Don't forget the most important ways you can live REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!!!!!!!!! These are so easy and again save you money. If you need a hint in ways to practice each of the three R's then let me help. Reduce what you buy, come on, do you really need more stuff? Look at what you are buying, is it going to just sit on a shelf, will you use it more than a few time a year or once a month? Does it really have to be new, if you need something often you can buy it just as nice used, consignment is no longer meant for people who can't afford it, it is meant for everyone who cares about saving ourselves from ourselves and, you guessed it, saves you money. Now onto Reuse, take plastic containers, do you really need to spend more money on more plastic containers to put left overs in? This seems really silly, food you buy comes in reusable containers you just have to use them, not buy different ones to put different food in. Instead of getting rid of furniture remake it (another way of reusing), give a makeover, new paint or fabric and it looks completely different. Lets get over the mentality of "I can't do that myself" cause you can and you will like it better. You always get just what you want and the satisfaction that comes with it is worth more than any expensive piece you could ever buy. Remember someone made why can't it be you! Reuse those grocery bags, it's not trendy it's responsible! Last, but not least Recycle, recycle plastic, glass anything you can it will cut down on you garbage bill, compost food waste, recycle clothing to others the list goes on and on for what you can recycle. Recycling to me means reuse, because that is eventually what happens to something recycled. Whew, I am exhausted. funny how ranting about something you feel strongly about cone take it out of you. Well stay tuned for tomorrows blog and we will see how the rant grows. Thanks for listening.

Inspirational Growing Quotes

"Gardening requires lots of water-most of it in the form of perspiration."
~ Lou Erickson, www.quotegarden.com