Wednesday, November 26, 2014

For the Sauce

Tomatoes ready to give their all for the sauce. Nothing like freshly made pasta sauce for fresh pasta. It also makes a great snack with a few pieces of crusty Italian bread for dipping!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Super Simple Pickles

You can make super simple pickles from extra cukes,  using the brine from your favorite store bought pickles.

After you have finished the jar of pickles, don't throw the jar...or the brine....away. Simply slice up your fresh cukes and drop into the brine. Stir with spoon to be sure that slices are covered.  Let sit for a few weeks in the fridge and then enjoy!

(I actually will only re-use the brine once, maybe twice, then throw away.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thistle for Rennet Part 2

The thistle is slowly drying. Some is looking good, some, unfortunatly, are turning into white cotton, meaning they will not be usable.

Hopefully, there will be at least enough dried thistle to make the process worth while. Then again, this is my first try, so maybe practice makes perfect?

Stay tuned for (hopefully), the next step after the thistle is dried and ready.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saving Ground Cherry Seeds

I have been wanting to grow ground cherries for quite some time, but never go around to sending for seeds. So, when I was at a market in Penn Yan, NY and saw ground cherries for sale, I decided to just harvest them myself, and bought some. I found that stripping the seeds out in small batches works the best.

The harvesting of the seeds is really quite simple. First, you need to remove the paper casing.

Next, squeeze and drop the fruit into a bowl of shallow water

Let sit in the water and allow the seeds to float out. If need be, you can safely manipulate the seeds out of the fruit with your fingers, into the water, without damaging the tiny seeds.

Remove the meaty parts, leaving only the seeds. You will notice that the seeds will go to the bottom. Should any seeds be floating on top, discard those individuals, as they are no good.

Next, carefully pour the water off of the seeds. This is easier than you think, as the seeds will remain behind if you pour slowly and carefully.

You will now be left with the seeds.

Let the seeds dry thoroughly, then either put them with the rest of your harvested seeds for packaging when you are done, or package immediately.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Collecting Thistle for Rennet

The other day, my friend Martha was talking about making rennet from thistle. As it sounded interesting, we decided to begin harvesting the purple flowers (before they dry and explode with seed, at which time it is too late, I guess). This is the first bunch that I harvested here at the 1840's farm.

According to directions, they need to dry for about 3 weeks before we can go to the next step. In the mean time, more flower heads should be blossoming soon. The thistle plant is so pretty, that I hate to cut the heads off.

Stay tuned for the progression of rennet making with thistle. (It should be noted that it is said that this rennet should be used with goat or sheep milk only as it can make cow's milk cheese bitter. )

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I did some simple pickling the other day using a few cukes that I had to pick. I made a simple brine using white vinegar, sugar and cloves to taste, brought to a slight boil then poired over slices cukes, along with a few cinnamon sticks and a sprinkle of mustard seed in the jars.

Because I only made 2 jars of pickles, I did not bother to do the actual canning process after I filled the jars. Instead, I refrigerated the them after they had cooled.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tree Frogs

I love it when the tree frogs come out at night. They also like to hide in the umbrella during the day. Once in a while one will climb on my hand or arm and just sit with me. So cute!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Avacado Update

In April, I made a post about the avacado pit that I planted and was finally sprouting. It was coming beautifully too. Then, while I was up in NY, my parents checked on it, and found it obliterated.  Something ripped it apart. There wasn't even anything left for a picture.

Oh well.....just have to try again later! And we still don't know what...or who....ripped that pit and seedling apart.

Getting Artistic

Once again, I have been playing with some awesome photography software. This was a picture that I took in a friend's garden a few years go. It is a fav of mine, but I was curious as to what more could be done with it.

This is the result of "play time".

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Looking for Attention

This cutie was looking for attention, and not shy about asking!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Books to Date

"Garlic" will be released in a few short months through Hatherleigh Press.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Go Away!

Not much to post for today. A very cold, cloudy, rainy, dreary day. And it is still July.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guard Animals

Not only did the llama go to the fair, but so did his herd of sheep.

Llamas are often used as guard animals, as their powerful kick can hurt or even kill predators. Left to bond with their herds, they become very protective of their charges.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Insect Police

We have lots of these little fellas around the house and garden in florida. They, along with the many tree frogs, help keep the insects that we don't want, at bay.

This one decided to pose for his picture!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Second Time Around

Part of sustainable living is recycling, repurposing or passing things along that you no longer need or want. For me, even though I really don't like clothes shopping and find shoe and jewelry shopping pointless and quite boring, I absolutely love a good thrift store, second hand store, flea market, yard/garage sale or junk store. And the more disheveled,  the more fun the hunt is.

Just got these two to add to my Christmas decoration collection at an area thrift store for .49 each! I have been having to slowly obtain new ornaments after all mine were stolen a few years ago.

Second hand shopping doesn't have to mean junk!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cow Barn Series

I took lots of pics at the cow barn at the fair on Saturday. Watch for more.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Old Book

This is when dumpster diving pays off! I picked up a stack of very old books from the garbage.  They must not have been in there long, as they were still very near the top.

I gave an old medical book that was in the pile to a friend who is a nurse practitioner.  Another was a very early 1900s copy of House of the Seven Gables which still had a handwritten homework paper in it from the 1920's. Another was a youth's book from the 1870's. Some little kid wrote a letter to Roy Rogers inside of the cover which is quite a mystery as to why.

Finally, the book Old Christmas. I did a little research on it, and found it to be a first edition of the first American printing! And, while it does have value, I fell in love with the book, and it will go on my shelf.

I'll add that, when I saw the pile of old books, I just scooped them up and looked at them later in the day. As I love old books, when I see them being discarded, I just grab them, knowing what I don't want, friends and family will.

With this pile, it was none too soon, however, as not 5 minutes after I grabbed them, the skies let loose and it poured. Only a few minutes later, and these books would have been soaked and lost!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Handsome

This big guy was at the fair with his herd of sheep in tow. When I went to take a picture, he came over and gave me a nice pose!

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Software

I downloaded some free software a while back, so that I can get creative with my photography. The subject here is a bunch of green coconuts.  (Yes...the coconuts are green before they are brown!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

RV Garden

Small, very basic garden in front of my parent's R V that I put in front of my parents camper. Tomatoes, garlic,  cucumber and okra.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fun Farm Photo

I downloaded a new photography program and have been trying it out.

The base of this was a photo that I took at State Fair last year of ine of my favorite subjects....pigs and piglets. Turned out looking like a painting by the time I was through "playing".

Not Bad.......

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Fur Flies

Definitly is summer. The cats are shedding like crazy. (Sigh!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Christmas in July

As one of the cable stations is doing  Christmas in July programming on the weekends, I thought we could make a contribution as well.

This is last winter, looking out the kitchen sink window, into the back yard, from the 1840's NY farm house.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moon Shine

I was really hoping to see a nice, big, Buck Moon last night, but was a bit disappointed.  It didn't seem any different than any other. At least from my vantage point.

However, tonight's moon was better. Still not overly impressive in comparison to others I have seen, but got a few nice pictures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Garden Friend

While I was out in the garden this morning, this little guy was out and about. What a little cutie, and a good little bug catcher too!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Aloe Blossom

One thing that I like to have in the garden is the Aloe Vera plant. It comes in quite handy to sooth and heal stings, slight burns, cuts and so on. And it not only works well on humans, but my animals have benefited from the plant as well.

One of the larger plants has started to bloom, as you can see in the photo. As this is actually the first time I have experienced an aloe blooming, I will be watching and photographing.

It is worth mentioning that, if for some reason you cannot grow or do not want to grow an aloe plant, you can purchase pure aloe gel in health food stores. In fact, I usually keep a bottle in the fridge when I need more than what my plant could supply. And, storing in the fridge makes the gel even more soothing, especially for irritated areas, sunburn, insect bites, etc.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Guide Coming

I just completed a guide for the company, Crisis Education. Pretty interesting information that they are offering. Check it out at:

I will post when the guide is released!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Avocado Sprouted

After well over a month, the avocado pit that I have been trying to start, just sprouted. Hopefully avocado trees are slow growers, as they do get quite large and I'm really not sure where it will go.

Actually, this is my 4th attempt at trying to get one of these things to start, so in reality, I wasn't expecting too much this time either. Well....surprise!

I have tried burying the pit loosely in soil, sticking toothpicks into it like a small tripod, then standing the pit in shallow water.....nothing was successful. This time I left over half of the pit exposed, putting only a little of the bottom into the pot of soil, then kept a clear plastic cup over the top of it. It worked!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pineapple Patch

The pineapple patch has a mix of producing plants and young plants. Some of these plants were started from the tops of mature pineapple fruit by cutting the tops off and setting in shallow water or on top of a soil filled pot,  allowing them to take root, then add to the patch. Other plants, however, started as "babies" from the adult, producing plant, similar to the way a spider plant produces babies.....only not quite as many.

It should be noted that a mature plant will produce only one pineapple in its' lifetime.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Coconut Harvest

It has been coconut harvest time at parent's place. The palms were full this year and the coconuts just keep coming!

The worst part is taking the husk off. It is the most labor intensive part. But, after the coconut itself finally comes out, it gets easier!

After we drilled 3 holes in the end to drain the water (and save it), simply tap around the middle or the equator of the coconut, and it will crack. Usually quite nicely. The white meat is then broken out of the shell, usually in chunks and pretty easily too, once you get the knack of it.

Good, sweet,  homegrown coconut! Next, some fresh coconut candy.......

Friday, March 7, 2014


Been doing some dehydrating once again. Peppers and tomatoes from the garden, The colors were so vivid as the foods were drying.

So, what did I do with the results? The peppers have been stored in a dry containers, while the tomatoes were stored in oil. Some tomatoes that were crispy, chewy dried, will be ground up for tomato powder. (Yummy for a dip ingredient!)

I also recently got my third dehydrator. Will post soon on how it goes. Last summer I really got hooked on cheese making and dehydrating. I can't wait to experiment!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Just completed the manuscript for "Raising Cattle", for Hatherleigh Press (Random House distribution).

It is available for pre order.

Processing Coconuts

There are 2, full coconut palms on my parent's property, and the ripe ones are dropping daily! So, we were processing.

Once we got the coconuts open, using a machete, hammer and wedge, the meat itself was pretty easy to remove from the shell.

Of course, the food processor was acting up, so I used the immersion blender and attachment to grate the coconut. In lieu of drying,  it was placed in plastic sandwich bags, 1 pre measured cup per bag, and placed in the freezer.

Oh yes....the fresh, home grown coconut is delicious!