Monday, March 29, 2010


We received a very exciting gift from a friend when we were down in KC. A friend of the family that goes way back, Boda used to do some homesteading and living off the land as well.

She gave us a bunch of canning things and most of the things we'll need to make wine:

Two glass carboys, a crown capper, syphon, fermentation lock, something to measure alcohol content, other things I can't identify, and this great book:

We had some awesome sumac wine last year and have been dreaming of making our own. Now Jeremy has dreams of dandelion wine, rhubarb wine, maybe some root beer, maybe some hard cider... The possibilities are endless! (If only our time was endless!) Thanks Boda!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

itty bitty quilts

While we were in Kansas City and Jeremy had building duties to attend to, I had sewing duties. I sewed like a maniac for a week or two to make sure I had some projects to take with me.

I took three little quilts down (not that itty bitty, they're about 3 foot square). I finished quilting these two:

And I got halfway done with this one:

A month or so ago I had whipped up another quilt and sent it down to Echo (mom-in-law's partner) to quilt while she had a recent hospital stay. She handed it back to me all quilted and ready to finish - so I came back with four little quilts!

The last quilt has an owner (unbeknownst to her) but the others I'm going to attempt to sell. (No more progress to report on our big quilt - I'm still waiting for the white fabric to come in.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flower box

Jeremy's mom is off in Southeast Asia for a 70th birthday present trip. We didn't help pay for the trip or anything, but we went down to KC to hang out with her partner (who can't skip dialysis to go gallivanting around the world unfortunately) and to build his mom a planter box.

Of course, any project must begin with a sketch (and a trip to the store).

We lugged down the table saw, mitre saw, and other tools so Jeremy could do this project.

It's official - we need some of these for our house too!

The box is all cedar with heavy duty locking wheels so it can be moved about easily. We can't wait to see what is planted in it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kansas City Zoo

And now, a few pictures from our trip to Kansas City. Okay - actually a lot of pictures, especially when it comes to the zoo. I know zoos have nothing to do with homesteading, but there are counts.

Baby llama!! Is he not the cutest thing you've ever seen!?

This would be the llama mama:

Snack time for the baby:

I'm sharing less than half the photos I took of these adorable llamas, so be grateful!

Across the path were these Fallow Deer. There were little food dispensers so for a quarter you could get the deer to come over and eat out of your hand. They were so adorable!

The meerkats were in an indoor building. I can't remember seeing meerkats at a zoo before. They are so cute! This rather chubby one was relaxing in the sun in the window.

In fact, they really liked hanging out in the window and staring outside.

If they weren't in the window, they were sunbathing in the dirt...

...or anywhere else they could get a good shaft of light.

On the other side of the building were the lemurs. I think there were five or six in this tight bundle.

Downstairs were a dozen or so spider monkeys - crazy, daredevil, leaping things. This one kept ending up on a branch a couple feet away from the window and then he would fall forward to rest his front hands (paws?) on the glass. They were very curios (and adorable, yes).

Going back outside we discovered the goats!

The goat pen had one of these food stations as well. And those goats were trained so well to the sound of a quarter dropping in the slot. Pavlov's goats.

The quarter drops and they both gallop over, climb the fence, and start fighting for who is going to get the few tasty morsels.

At the end of our tour of the zoo, we came upon an area where there were lots of kangaroos wandering around, not in a pen.

It reminded me very much of when I was in Australia and there were kangaroos everywhere. Of course, it was very weird to see kangaroos and snow, together in the same place.

Apparently the boy kangaroo had to be penned up because he was challenging everyone who came into this area of the zoo. I guess he thought people were encroaching on his property or his harem of lady kangaroos. So he's off on his own and has lady visitors from time to time.

I somehow end up going to zoos almost every time I travel. This was one of my favorite zoos. It reminded me a little of the Portland Zoo which I haven't been to in ages. I'll have to check it out next time I'm in Portland...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mushroom class

Last Saturday Jeremy offered a mushroom class here at the house. We're on a couple different listservs for gardening and agriculture so he put out the word and a lot of people showed up! I estimate about 30 or so.

They crowded into our back yard and of course there was some chicken coop envy going on. We went around and did introductions and people were there for all different reasons. Some had grown mushrooms themselves, on logs or in straw or other medium; one guy makes his own spawn; some were interested in growing mushrooms themselves; and a few just wanted to learn more.

Jeremy talked about mushroom log culture, when to get the logs, what kind, etc, and then everyone packed into the garage for a little demonstration about inoculating the logs.

Back out in the yard he showed off the 100+ logs in our yard and did a little demonstration of the "totem method."

People kept coming and going and the last ones left at about 4:30. The class started at 1:00 so it was a long day! But it was a great class with lots of good input from other experienced growers. Several folks bought logs from Jeremy to get themselves started.

There was also a guy from the New York Times (!) so Jeremy is (maybe) about to be famous. I'll let you know if something is published.

I'm behind on my posting (as usual I guess) because we just got back from five days in Kansas City. Jeremy's mom is off traveling in South East Asia so we went down to hang out with her partner. We had a great few days down there and were, of course, very productive. More on that soon!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I've seen several people lately knitting socks. I am so impressed. It's incredible how much time it takes to do that - especially when they can be bought so cheaply at the store. It makes you wonder about other things we buy at the store so cheaply: how much labor actually goes into making this?

Anyway, I know nothing about knitting and I have too many other hobbies and interests to take it up (and someone tried to teach me once and I was too impatient to learn!). So I was very pleased to discover a pattern for fleece socks. After a few failed attempts (the stretch has to run in just the right way) I made these:

Then I made a giant pair for Jeremy out of this fabulous thick, thick, thick fleece I found at Savers.

They are lovely. In fact, I'm wearing them right now even though I have about 3 inches of toe space in them! I'll have to make my own pair.

They make great bed socks and keep-your-feet-warm-around-the-house socks and lounging-around-the-house socks, etc. I can see many more pairs of these in my future.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sprout room

It's that time of year for everyone to be sharing their sprout growing setups. I showed you our disastrous mudroom a couple weeks back.

Jeremy inherited (lucky us) two giant 8-foot-long lights which we'll use for our sprouts. A few days ago he lugged in those lights and an extra door we had lying around and set up our sprout area.

The lights are plugged into a timer so we won't have to worry about turning them on and off. But of course, we don't have any sprouts planted yet! Don't worry, I'm sure in another week or two we'll have something planted and I'll post pictures then - or at least when something comes up!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jum Jum Balls

Jeremy remembers his mom making this when he was growing up. I have no idea where the recipe - or the name - came from. He has been talking about them for weeks and he finally decided to make them. I certainly wasn't going to - they have raisins! Eww!

So you mix up peanut butter, tahini, flax meal, raisins, and pecans. Just the right amount so it all holds together (sorry there aren't any amounts, Jeremy doesn't work like that when he's baking).

Then you roll them into balls and roll them in some wheat germ, which keeps them from being really sticky.

Jeremy keeps them in the fridge so they don't get all melty and he munches on one (or two or three) for snacks from time to time.

An odd snack I think, but he enjoys them immensely.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We're visual folks around here. Translated, that means, "I can't understand a thing you're saying. You're going to have to draw a picture." So we have a lot of doodles, drawings, diagrams, pictures, plans, and scribbles lying around the house.

I collected several of them to show you what I mean. Some of these make sense even now and some have ceased to have any meaning. What on earth were we drawing there?? Who knows...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We really need bees

Because we use a lot of honey! We often buy it in bulk at the co-op from Ames Farm.
Then we were at a foods warehouse last week and discovered this monster 12 pound container of honey! It was a pretty good deal so we got it. This should keep us going for a little while.