"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Easy, Cheap, Quick

After picking blueberries and canning ALL DAY the last thing I want to do is make a really involved dinner. So I looked at the garden, looked in the fridge, and decided on this quick skillet dinner.

After I had my fill, oops!

I found the recipe in one of my favorite new cookbooks, "Meatless", by the editors of Martha Stewart Living, which in my opinion is one of the best new-ish cookbooks out there. Meat is REALLY expensive (plus, I was a vegetarian for 5 years and am not a big meat fan) and this cookbook is really great at giving you some new ideas for using veggies. It's perfect for me because I can look up recipes by ingredient; for example what's about to go bad in the fridge (mushrooms!) or what I have plenty of in the garden (kale!). I'm not being paid or anything to rave about this cookbook I just really like it! Basically this meal is just eggs cracked onto a bed of sauteed mushrooms, garlic, onion and kale. Really simple and easy to cook (like most of the recipes in the book) it took almost no time! It was VERY tasty especially after a hefty squirt of Sriracha sauce. :)

So what about you? Do you have a "go-to" easy peasy dinner that you like to make after a busy day? 

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Monday, July 22, 2013

Busy Summer

It seems that the summer chores never end when you live in a place where summer lasts about as long as a sneeze. There are things to fix, things to dig up and move, things to plant and harvest, harvests to put up, and animal housing to figure out. This week I'm on vacation and it's great to FINALLY be able to try to catch up. Bush beans need to be planted where the garlic was, blueberries need to be picked and made into jam, the front steps need to be stained, the gutters cleaned, the trim painted....it's enough to make me pull my hair out! So instead, I'll take a breath and be thankful I have the health and vigor to do all these things. The want and happiness to do these things. And of course, there's the sunshine to enjoy!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another beautiful day

Since I often spend my time on the computer while drinking my coffee in the morning, I thought I'd try and jot a little something down here. We've added to our little duck flock, acquiring ten little Muscovies. They are in their own little pen right now since they're only a few weeks old, but once big enough can be put together with the Khaki Campbells. The garden is doing fantastic! We have been eating kale almost every day (and even giving lots away). We have plenty of peas, although I can't help but eat the immature ones because they are my favorite. After picking the radishes I reseeded with kohlrabi and collards, and in the lettuce's place I planted more radishes. I have to say I like this square foot gardening business.

I've started this fantastic book called, "Your Money or Your Life", which is basically just reaffirming all my beliefs regarding working. Right now it's a necessity but someday it will not be. We've also been looking at camps farther up north with stars in our eyes. 10 acres in the middle of nowhere with a little A-frame house, no running water and no electricity. Someday that will be ours. Either that or if we come into a large amount of money there is a plot right up the hill, a beautiful 26 acres that I'd love to buy. It's a little above our price range though. I just hope some developer doesn't buy it. I wanted to live here forever but things are changing in this small farm neighborhood already. We'll see how long we last. All I know is if we move, the asparagus beds and rhubarb plants come too!

Well, that's all for now. Have a wonderful Friday!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July

Celebrate in any way you can, as this is one of the most, if not the most, important holiday we have as American citizens! I'll leave you with a quote by one of my favorite founding fathers, John Adams.

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."

Remember when you light those fireworks and eat your barbeque those brave men in 1776 who stood up for what they believed in for this country, regardless of the strength of those they opposed. And of course, remember all the farmers as well as soldiers who took up arms to protect the country they held dear. Would you do the same today?

Until next time and Happy Fourth of July!!!

xoxo Stacie

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Busy Season

Once again, free time is scarce! When you are a gardener every time you step out the door you notice something that needs to be weeded, something that needs to be picked, something that needs to be planted, and so on. Our chicks are HUGE and the ducks are full grown. Turns out we have 5 males and 4 females. It looks like 3 males may be on the chopping block because that is a bad male to female ratio. We've eaten loads of peas, kale, lettuce and radishes. The garlic scapes have been harvested and turned into a beautiful jar of pesto. I've made both rhubarb chutney and rhubarb-orange butter. Strawberry season has just started and I've a date with my mom to go picking so I can preserve some of those too! We've also started tackling a room remodel (our guest bathroom). Between all of that, reading, crocheting and that pesky little chore called work I've barely got time to relax. It's okay though, I like being busy.

What is your busiest season?

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A few garden pictures

Although I don't have much time this morning (Maine Fiber Frolic is this weekend, hooray!), I thought I'd post some pictures my husband took of my garden a few days ago!

Garlic, and shallots on the farthest end.

Potatoes are looking great!

Two different kinds of kale, and peas.

Tomatoes and marigolds (forgive my unfinished bed). Hello weenie dog!

Just for fun, I'll add a few animal pictures as well! 

The chicks are getting so big, and are almost ready to go outside!

The ducks

Well, that's about it! We're off to spend money on lots of awesome stuff at the Fiber Frolic. I saved up for awhile for this, and I can't wait to take lots of yarn, buttons, and other cool fiber related gear home! Hope your weekend is fantastic!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Finally, a litte SUNSHINE!

For the first time in over a week we had a beautiful, sunshine-filled day yesterday! Not that rainy days are all bad, my potatoes shot up like rockets and I got a lot done inside. I canned a batch of rhubarb chutney (from 'Food in Jars'), organized and cleaned out my craft closet, got a lot of crocheting done, and made spice mixes, sprouts, dough, and kombucha!

But SUN, sun is the best of all! Our asparagus bed is all finished and planted. I can't wait to see them sprout up next year. We had a lot of leftover dirt from digging that so my husband threw together 2 more raised beds for me. I hilled the HUGE potatoes AGAIN and made a little trellis for the peas to crawl up. After some visiting with family I was gifted irises, sorrel, a black cherry tomato, and calendula to plant. I've only got the irises left to do today, and some bush beans I started from seed. I planted my cushaw squash as well and hope it does okay climbing up our giant arbor from our wedding. Today it's time to mow which is our most hated chore around here. I can't wait to have the whole yard mulched over and filled with raised beds, because grass is a total waste.

We've also enjoyed having the hummingbirds back for the year! We've also got a bluebird in one of our birdhouses and a whole mess of goldfinches hanging around. We also saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly by...boy was he pretty, and huge! All I know is lots of birds means a healthy yard full of bugs and seeds for them to eat.

How was your Memorial Day weekend? Rainy and yucky, or nice and sunny? Did you get a lot done?

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Friday, May 17, 2013

Where the green things are

I am so awful at keeping this blog up! This time of year I have no goals but to go to work, come home, and dig in the dirt. I find it really hard to stay cooped up and write when there is sod to be broken and raised beds to be built. In the morning I have about twenty minutes of quiet coffee drinking and computer time so my new goal is to try and get a little something written during that small window. Here we go!

Our ducks are HUGE! My husband set up a new pen with a pretty sweet gate he made from stuff laying around. We still can't tell their sexes for sure but a few days ago when wrangling them we heard the male raspy noise coming from at least two. The ladies are big 'ol loudmouths quacking like the world is ending. 

The new setup

We have one Silkie hen who has been laying on eggs in the rabbit barn, although we are crossing our fingers we aren't quite sure they are fertilized.  Time will tell! Of course the airmail chickies are doing great in the brooder. We've lost two, bringing the total down to fourteen. Keep your fingers crossed we have more hens than roosters!

Here they are, growing slowly
As far as the garden goes, things are taking off quickly. We had a couple days of heavy rain we really needed and things shot right up. The garlic looks fantastic with the shallots close behind. The potatoes have popped out and may have to be hilled soon. I've got to make some bean teepees this weekend because the peas are about three inches tall and if we get more rain I could blink and have them crawling every which way. Our beloved kale (both kinds) are getting large and beautiful. I can't wait to eat them! I'm getting my asparagus bed ready this weekend since I've got to pick up the crowns I ordered at the extension office this Saturday. Of course, I've still got a multitude of direct seed things to plant as well as a ton of seedlings that are quietly awaiting their time in my south facing window. It's just hard starting a garden from scratch when all you've got is sod. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and rabbit poop.

Welcome to the jungle!
There's an update on what's going on around here. How about you guys? Any greenery sprouted? Any new baby animals?

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

I have no shame! I'll leave you with this embarrassing picture ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A duckie update

These ducks are out of control! In three weeks they have at least tripled, if not quadrupled in size and are ready now to venture in the great outdoors. Our Sunday plans include picking up some rebar and fencing and putting them in an old plastic dog crate (until the husband finishes up their permanent house) so they can enjoy the spring grass and bugs. They are getting more adult feathers everyday and we are beginning to hear hints of quacking. I really can't believe how fast they grow as opposed to chicks. It's almost overnight!

Did you say we're going OUTSIDE?

Here's a updated pic from their cage under the brooder. My dad lent us his sweet rig, which is a brooder on top, with two wire cages below for when the chicks/ducklings/goslings get too big for the brooder but still need some time before they go outside. Let me tell you, I am ready. I can deal with poop but duck poop is just something else entirely in it's grossness. They are, 'just being ducks', as a friend of ours reminded me but it'll be nicer when they are 'just being ducks' outside and not all over the floor of the garage. We have been know to have predators around since we are in a pretty heavily wooded area so for now we are going to have them close to our bedroom window so we or the dogs can hear any nighttime disturbances. 

What are your plans for this Sunday? We're also heading over to my parents to load up the arbor they've been holding for us since our wedding. I can't wait to put it up in our yard and plant some morning glories to climb on it. We're also going to swing by tractor supply...maybe they'll have more ducks? I will have no self control if there are Indian Runners! Well, here's to hoping you all have a fabulous Sunday afternoon.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Motherhood; duckling style

Oftentimes my husband and I have conversations that start like this :

Me : "Hey, I think getting some ducks would be really cool."

Husband : " Ducks are pretty sweet."

Me : "Mom said Tractor Supply has chicks already. Wanna check it out this weekend and just see what they've got?"

Husband : (Now understand he has received the wife 'green light') "I mean, if you want to sure! We can go Saturday after you get out of work."

So, after work on Saturdays I always head to my parents. After coming in and greeting the dogs my dad looks at me with this big grin on his face and says, "So, you're getting ducks?". Ever the instigator he is! So we took a family ride over to the good 'ol TSC and lo and behold...there were a mess of cute little brown Khaki Campbells. Since they looked so happy all cuddled up together we took what they had left, which was nine, home with us and loaded up my dad's brooder in the truck. I grew up with a mess of ducks and ducklings because my Mom adores ducks. You should have seen her staring longingly into the box on our ride home. I think once they're older she'll end up with a few. Needless to say they are all warm and cozy in their brooder fed and watered and entertaining us like mad. I spent close to an hour yesterday peering in like a little kid just watching them. I have to say, it was love at first peep!

Khaki Campbells are known for their great egg laying abilities and we also wanted something to take care of the slug problem we encountered last year. Ducks in general are excellent foragers and don't require much grain in the warmer months. The only downside to the Khaki Campbell is that aren't very good mothers, so we may end up getting a few more ducklings of another breed that make good mothers so we can raise our own ducklings. I am looking forward to having them out with me in the garden eating pests and keeping me company (plus, eating the weeds I throw to them). They are going to make an excellent addition to our growing homestead.


Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Letting your husband cut your hair and other money savers...

I have had some scraggly, nasty hair ends for about a month now. Usually my husband's grandmother cuts my hair but she's been out of state for quite awhile and I had become desperate. Now, not desperate enough to PAY someone to cut my hair or anything! I don't think I'll ever be that desperate. So I picked up a pair of shears (because no way am I messing up my best craft scissors on my stupid hair!). I then explained to my husband the extreme faith and trust I was putting in him by letting him anywhere near my head with a sharp object. I then patted him on the arm and tried to inspire him with my words, "Mess it up, and I'll kill you". He did a good job, just trimmed the ends and they were nice and straight. I then used this tutorial to fix things up a bit and TA-DA! Semi-free haircut (the scissors cost money, sadly). I like to think that I saved around 20$, not to mention the last time I actually got a cheapo haircut the stylist did such an awful job that I had to fix it anyway. So I also saved some sanity! Then I got to thinking...what other things can I save money on so that I can put more $$ towards paying off the mortgage?

1.) Magazines

Personally, I love magazines. Pretty colorful pictures and lots of recipes and ideas to try. But paying 4$ to 7$  an issue? No freakin' way man. Yes, I know subscriptions are cheaper than the list price but those still COST MONEY. So instead I signed up for Recyclebank and read and clicked some things and got POINTS which I then use for FREE MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS! So far I've gotten Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, Everyday Food, Woman's Day, Country Living (that's a flippin' good one!), another Martha Stewart for my mom, and Real Simple. Holy cow that's a lot of free magazines! Plus, you don't have to keep them for yourself you can give them as gifts as well.  Who wouldn't like to pine over pictures of beautiful flower arrangements in Martha Stewart Living? Well, probably your dad....Not to mention, once you're finished reading them you can give them away to someone else. RECYCLING! HOORAY!

2.) Making new stuff from old stuff

I work at a credit union, so I see a lot of the same people all the time. One of our neighbors comes in quite often and knows we have some rabbits (and that we love free stuff, apparently) so he brought us over two rabbit hutches when his daughter's rabbits went to the big carrot farm in the sky. They are not the style we like to use (not to mention large and cumbersome for housing just one rabbit). My husband is also of the making stuff work persuasion so he ripped one of those puppies apart and made me a cold frame for the garden. Now, it's not the prettiest thing and you won't see it in Organic Gardening or anything, but it gets the job done and it was FREE (because he even rescues reusable hinges and all that jazz). The best present is a FREE present I say!

I've also rescued old tin cans by crocheting a little can cover. Now you can put whatever the heck you want in that can and it even looks snazzy! I mean, if you're into the look of plain 'ol tin cans that's cool but I like things pretty. I do have some standards you know.

3.) Grow it, baby!

We are big fans of sprouts and those fancy schmancy microgreens. Unfortunately they are super expensive and not so fresh in the store. So I bought a reusable sprouting top kit for $4 at the health food store that you use with a quart size wide mouth canning jar. These things last FOREVER and if you're a mason jar nut like me you have at least one jar hanging around. Our favorite are mung bean sprouts and they are super cheap and a half pound bag gives us loads and loads of sprouts. My husband then made me a planting flat out of a bunch of crap laying around in the garage and I planted microgreens in there. They were super tasty! Again, the seeds are pretty cheap just look around for the best deal. I also keep those plastic containers lettuce blends come in from the supermarket and use those like mini greenhouses. I have some wheat grass growing in a couple on the windowsill right now. Even in the winter IN MAINE you can grow something tasty and good for you!

4.) Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without

I should probably get this tattooed on my arm since it is my personal mantra. Is it ripped? Sew it! Is it worn beyond repair? Re-purpose it! Do you really need it, or can you live without it? Do you really need 5 of those if you only use one? I have piles of sheets with rips and tears waiting to be made into rugs, cut up holey jeans waiting to become potholder gifts (thank you Tightwad Gazette!), old mugs waiting to be filled with candles, and old carrots trimmings and the like in a bag in the freezer waiting to be veggie stock! Options are endless. If you can't think of a use for something, try googling it! You'd be surprised!


Since we have moved in this house the amount of STUFF people have given us is outta control. If the word is out you'll take anything they'll offer it to you first. Sometimes things will be duds, but just put it up for free on Craigslist or offer it to someone you know can use it. Just in the last week the ladies at work have given me celery scraps for our rabbits, the solids from juicing for the chickens, and three boxes of Morningstar Farms faux meat goodies. Dude, I'll take it all. Of course this goes both ways and if you have a surplus or something you can't use make sure you return the favor. Nobody likes a mooch.

These are just a few of the LOADS of money saving ideas you can find around on the internet. If you've got any awesome tips, feel free to comment with them! I'm off to eat breakfast thanks to my wonderful chickens. See? Even the chickens know I like free stuff! Keep 'em coming, Buckeye!

Yo Stacie, I'll lay so long as you keep feeding me all those scraps!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hello again, friends!

Needless to say it has been ages since I've posted on here. When we bought our place in May we kept putting off getting internet! First we didn't have a computer, then my brother in law built us one, then my husband lost his job so we didn't want to have another bill, and then, and then, etc. Well now that husband o' mine is in school (exciting, I know!) so we really couldn't put it off any longer. Unheard of are the pen and paper kind of assignments because literally ALL his assignments are done online. It's pretty ridiculous in my opinion. But I digress...

Yes it's true, we bought our own place! Nothing felt better than to sign on that dotted line (actually, many  lines!) and know that something was OURS! We had been saving since we got married so we got to put a big chunk down and have a tiny little payment that we can swing no matter what happens. It's just a little single wide mobile with a HUGE two car garage and it's just shy of having 2 acres. Not the big farmhouse in the country I'd always envisioned, but do you know how much it costs to heat those? In all seriousness what we could get for a house with what we had was trash. We looked at a couple and they needed loads of work and were in such bad condition. I never thought I'd live in a mobile but when we walked in it just felt like home. It's definitely fine for the two of us. Most people have problems with storage in mobiles but between our 5 closets (seriously) and the giant garage we don't have enough stuff to fill the place up! We've had some issues (had to replace the water pump...TWICE) but that is just part of home ownership. We both really love the place though, and can't wait for the spring to come so we can dig in the dirt. I had a few little plots last year but this year I've already bought my seeds and we are planning on EXPANDING! Hooray! It's at the top of this giant hill and when we take the dogs for walks the view is amazing. You can see mountains, and the lake. We're also situated in between an old deserted garage and a giant field so we have a lot of privacy. Our only neighbor is really the older man across the street, Leo, who is retired and was in the Marine Corps during Vietnam. He is the nicest guy! He lets us use his snow blower and comes over to visit our animals. He is the best neighbor we could have asked for!

So, about those animals...first of all, we got another dog! We adopted him from a man who had recently gotten divorced and worked so many hours he really was neglecting his dog. He wanted to find him a home where he got the attention he deserved. So now he lives with us! He's a black lab and golden retriever mix, around 3 years old named Tito and he is a big ol' lovebug!

Look at that face!
We couldn't have asked for a better addition to our family. He is so good with our other dog, Sookie, too. They love to play together and snuggle on the couch together. It was like they knew each other all along! My husband is now itching for ANOTHER dog but I think two is enough for now...unless he finds another dachshund like Sookie!

Out in the yard we have three rabbits, two does and a buck, and one egg laying chicken along with four Silkie roosters. The funny story there is that my dad gave us a whole mess of the Silkies and a few died and one got eaten by something...and now all we have is roosters! Then he gave us some older laying hens and a rooster but the rooster just got out all the time and scratched up my garden and we only had one who laid and she always got picked on. So we sold those and now we just have one left, a Buckeye. We love her so much we're going to get a whole mess of Buckeye chicks come springtime from the hatchery. They are a rare breed so we can't find them around here. They are all so entertaining though! The rabbits are great and we've already put a bunch away in the freezer as well as selling some at the farmer's market. A lot of people get grossed out at the thought of eating rabbits but they are one of the easiest, cleanest, and cheapest meat animals to raise. We like them!

Buying a house can also be an incredibly expensive task even after you pay the mortgage. There are so many things you need that you really don't realize until you move in. Since it was May and warm when we moved in we went without a dryer until around October. Those things are expensive! Thankfully my father in law let us use his riding mower for a while since we have a big open yard. Then my husband's grandfather gave us a push mower and a weed whacker. Also we've gotten tons of animal housing from different people. One woman I work with gave us a chicken coop, and someone who I wait on every week at the credit union gave us two rabbit cages. Also when my brother in law moved into his place he gave us this walk in chicken coop but we ended up using it to hang our rabbit cages up in. It's really nice, and it was free! The stuff that my parents have given us has really helped us out too. My husband has a big toolbox on wheels and tons of tools thanks to my dad (plus a welder). My mom has given me tons of stuff for decorating and for the kitchen as well. Thank God for our family because we couldn't have been as frugal as we have without them.

As for my husband and I, we are doing pretty well. I work at the same place as I have and I love the women I work with and I love seeing the same people every week. My schedule has changed from four half days to three full days and that's really nice. I save on gas and have an extra day to do projects around the house. My husband has had a harder time of it with finding a good job and keeping that job. He's gotten laid off twice, which is expected in this economy, but really hurts when you've gone and served your country and then no one will hire you. Thankfully we found this amazing program through the VA called "Vocational Rehabilitation". They pay for your training, all your books and all you need for that training (including notebooks, printer ink, etc), give you a monthly stipend, and help after training to get you a job and keep that job. It has been a real blessing. The only downside is that my husband's school is about an hour away so on bad weather days it can sometimes take him over two hours to get home. When spring gets here it will be much better!

So, that's what has been going on since my blogging disappearance. I hope to be writing more often now! I welcome any questions or comments. 

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie