Monday, September 12, 2016

Well, We Finally Had to Have a New Well


For the past 13 years we have had to be very careful with our water consumption during dry summers because we only have a 16' dug well and if it is a dry summer our well will go dry. We only had it go completely dry once, but we are very careful every summer and be sure to conserve and use rain water as much as possible.

This year has been about the driest summer since we've lived here and we finally had a well drilled about a month ago. If we hadn't we would be out of water now, even with careful use.

It is nice to have the drilled well. It goes down about 140 feet and we should be able to water gardens  (and ourselves) much easier in dry years.

We will still be using all the rain water we possibly can, especially in the garden room. The plants really thrive being watered with rain water.

We still need to have the water tested, but we did get the HealthyWise TDS meter water test kit

The  meter is easy to use, simple and to the point. No calibration, no fuss, just dip the end into your water and wait a minute or so for the reading to settle in and that's it. I used this to help determine what condition our new well is in, we are going to have it tested by a regular lab but this tester gave us an idea of what could be wrong, if anything, with our water. It shows that our new well is, well -- good, (I know that wasn't that funny, it sounded better in my thoughts, guess it should have stayed there).

I figured as soon as we had the well done we'd get a ton of rain, but that hasn't been the case. It is still very dry here. Hopefully it will be a rainy fall or we could be in for a rough year next year too!

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#HealthyWiserTDS

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Review for Night Provision TX11 Tactical Flashlight Torch Cree XPL-HD 1000 Lumen LED




Every once in a while we get a product that we just love and fits in with our way of life. Flashlights are something we have a lot of and are always looking for better ones. 
  
Out of all the flashlights that I have tried this one so far is the best. The TX11 Tactical Flashlight is small enough that you can put in in you pocket with out any trouble yet it is powerful enough to light up the night giving you light where you need it. There are several different light settings allowing you to conserve battery life if you are going to be out for long periods but then with the push of a button you're back to full power when you need it. The The TX11 Tactical Flashlight is a bit more than a lot of other tactical lights on the market but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for and what you're paying for here is quality and durability, something that in an emergency situation you can depend on. This light carries a 5 year warranty but I've got a feeling that it will last way beyond that. It comes in a really nice box suitable for a gift, a holster to put on your belt, a lanyard and two O rings and a spare button cover.

 Disclosure: We received this product for free/discount in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This review is our opinion of the quality and function of the item. We have not been compensated for this review nor are we affiliated with the seller. This review is our opinion and our opinion only.

#TX11

Friday, August 12, 2016

Actually Had Some Rain Today!


Yesterday I posted about us having such a dry summer and today it rained! Not a lot, but enough to give the garden and plants a good drink. I should have posted weeks ago, maybe the rain would have come sooner!

Every year we try to add to our gardening tools; last year it was shovels, this year it is hose nozzles. I know that sounds odd, but I like to have a decent nozzle at every hose. We have a hose in the garden room, one on the back deck, one on the front deck and one for the garden. The hose on the front deck has the RY Gardener nozzle and the nozzle works out really well because I can use it as a light mist all the way up to high pressure. Plus the handle is a no slip grip so even when my hands are wet I can hang onto it easily. I have used it for seedlings and even high pressure for cleaning off the deck.



I am already thinking of what will be on next year's shopping list. Floating row covers. We have had ours for about 13 years and they are really getting worn out.  I use them not only for plant protection from frost, but also plant protection from chickens. They love any freshly turned ground.

I think rain is in the forecast for tomorrow as well. I hope so!



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#RY_GARDENER

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Dry Year and The Plants Are Suffering



This has been an unusually dry and hot summer for us and it is really starting to show in our garden. Our well is only a 16' dug well, which has gone dry on us in past years so we are very careful with our water usage in years like this.

We save and use as much rain water as we can but even that storage is almost gone.

This year we have grown more food in planters and large pots on the deck and have an expandable hose with a fireman style nozzle that has been very handy. The nozzle makes it easy to control the flow of water so I don't feel as I am over watering and wasting water.
The weather forecast is for rain this weekend. I hope so, but that has also been the forecast the past few weekends and we  have yet so see any of this rain. The next town over has, but not us. Meanwhile I will save all of the cooking water (full of nutrition for the plants) and water sparingly.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

The AYL Flashlight


Every once in a while we receive a product for free/discount in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This week we received the AYL flashlight.

It is a compact light and also has a clip so you can hook it on your belt, this is nice considering that it would be a bit awkward to put in you pocket. I puts out a lot of light. I use the 18650 batteries that are included, I think they last longer then the 3 AAA. The zoom function works well, but like other Cree LED's when you zoom out you get a square light pattern, this is not a bad thing, it's just odd. Slide the zoom back just a bit and you get a normal light. This light has 3 brightness settings, a strobe setting and an SOS setting, not really sure what you would use the strobe setting for, if you were injured or in trouble you would use SOS. The flashlight comes with a battery holder to use 3 AAA batteries, a 18650 battery with sleeve and a charger to charge the 18650 battery.

The flashlight does give off a lot of light, which is great. We use a lot of flashlights around here and we like them to be bright and the batteries to be long lasting.





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Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Is It So Hard To Relax?


For years I have been trying to meditate. It really shouldn't be that hard, but it is for me. As soon as I sit for more than 2 minutes I feel as though I need to get up and be doing something....have I watered the plants, are the dishes washed, what are we going to have for supper tonight....the thoughts never seem to stop.

Instead of sitting quietly I decided to try meditating to music and then maybe I could go from there to total quite.

I got a copy of Tranquil Guitar Soothing Music For Relaxation and Sleep CD and have been playing that and trying to clear my mind. The music is very peaceful and there are ocean waves between songs that make the transition from one song to the next without any interruption.

I try to take the time every day for at least 20 minutes to just sit and listen to this CD. I have been doing it for about 5 days and I do feel more relaxed.  I am hoping to be able to take my 20 minutes with this CD and later in the day do 20 minutes of silence.  Wish me luck!

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 #TranquilGuitar








Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Black Bean Brownies, Baked In The Sun Oven





I know....black bean brownies?? How could they even remotely be something that would taste good. I will admit I had my doubts. I found the recipe at Just Making Noise about 6 months ago and filed it away as "interesting."

A few months ago we decided to try to incorporate more legumes, beans and fiber into our diet and I thought back to this recipe. What the heck...what have I got to loose. Worse case the chickens will have quite the snack.

I was amazed at how good the recipe came out. I did change it from the original a bit by reducing the amount of honey to about 1/3cup (we don't have many sweet things, so we can cut back a lot on sweeteners and still enjoy the taste, original recipe calls for 1 cup) and I used chicory root as an instant coffee substitute.

I have been making this recipe every week for the past month. Today I tried it with kidney beans instead of black beans. The taste isn't quite as rich, but still VERY delicious.

The recipe says to let them cool completely and refrigerate. While that does make the taste even better I can hardly wait that long and end up eating them warm, with cream.  Fresh Jersey cream. I know.....how could it get better.

My husband likes them a little sweeter than I do, so he will top them with a little maple syrup. We also have added strawberries along with the cream. We are addicted.

I usually bake the brownies in the oven for about 20 minutes (you don't want to over cook), but today was  sunny so I decided to try them in the sun oven. The cooking time was longer (because of the clouds) but they cooked up nicely. I love the idea of using the sun oven...free cooking.

Black Bean Brownies Baking in the Sun Oven





 Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups black beans, well drained (15 oz canned is fine)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. chicory root
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or combination (I use 1/4 cup each)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter an 8x8 baking dish
  • Combine the black beans, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, instant coffee, sea salt and honey into the food processor. Blend till smooth, the batter should be thick and will be kinda soupy. Add in butter and or coconut oil and blend about 15 seconds more. 
  • Add walnuts, like large pieces of walnuts only pulse to mix in, if you like smaller pieces blend for about 5 seconds more. I like the smaller pieces and will blend them in.
  • The original recipe said to bake for 30-45 minutes. I found that to be way too long; 20-22 minutes seems to be right for me. You might have to experiment. When you press your finger in the middle it should make a dent. ( I have over baked these and they are still good, just a little dry. Cream took care of that. So would ice cream. )
  • Let cool completely and refrigerate.
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Friday, July 1, 2016

Time For Some New Pics and Updates



It is hard to believe it is already the first of July. I can't believe how quickly the time goes by. Seems like only yesterday we were caring wood for the wood stove. I'm glad it wasn't yesterday...I definitely need the summer break from wood carrying!

For the first time ever we decided to buy some shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get some more fresh vegetables this year. We will still get the bulk of our food from our own gardens, but this year I would like to do more preserving and hopefully have enough vegetables to last the entire Winter/Spring until next harvest season. We always seem to run a few months short on some of our favorites. We are actually quite excited about the CSA. The farm is all organic and they also have herb and flower gardens that their customers can pick from.

Our chicken population has shrunk and grown. Friends of ours moved and we took their chickens for them. Welcome 5 new chickens. They don't have names because 2 are the same and the other 3 are the same, so we call them "the twins" and "the triplets" ("twin" or "trip" for short)

Molly and Emma (the mother/daughter team of cows) are happily grazing on the pasture we opened for them yesterday. I'm afraid Emma is developing a habit of getting out of the fence at night (how? good question) and doing a walk-about. She is in in the morning and no one has complained, so I guess she isn't getting into too much mischief. She hasn't touched any of our gardens so I don't think she's out for long. Probably just likes to prove she can.

We've had a "first" this year....Bluebirds have made a home here in one of our birds house. We see them flying around every day and we even have an Indigo Bunting. I never get tired of watching the birds. Neither do the cats.

On to some pictures:




Bees Friend in Blossom
Bees Friend


Emma
Molly
Baby Chipmunk
Jasper
 (That is not a chipmunk in his belly)


Until next time.....

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

LED Car Lightbulb Replacements Review





Every once in a while we receive a product for free or at a discount for an honest unbiased review. If it fits in with our lifestyle and we think others may be interested we will write about it on our blog.

These are nice little LED's. The light output is white which is not a problem especially for the interior of a vehicle. In the video I didn't state the fact that the light on the left side is the original bulb, and as can be seen, the right side is the LED. With the camera it is hard to see but there is a difference in the light output.

On a side note, there are two wires that are bent around the bottom of the base.If you straighten these you can remove the LED itself from the base, I found this to be a chance to experiment with these bulbs in other 12V applications. I am anxious to try these in some of our solar projects, I think they will work very well. They give out a good amount of light. #iTimo






Monday, June 6, 2016

Easy Baking Recipes, Desserts: Rhubarb Crumble (No Refined Sugar)

I love rhubarb season and am always looking for new recipes. I discovered this one last week, but made some changes to make it a little  healthier (no refined sugar).



Rhubarb Crumble

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup honey
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3 cups rhubarb chopped into apx 1" pieces
1/3 cup maple syrup 
* more maple syrup can be added to taste. Some people don't like the sour taste of rhubarb as much as others.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon orange peel (optional)

1 tablespoon butter



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, oats, salt, honey and butter and mix well. I used a mixer for this. You don't want to over mix.

Spread 1/2 mixture (or a bit more if needed) into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate, You can use your hands to pat the crust into the pan. Don't worry if the crust is not all the way up the sides.

Combine rhubarb, maple syrup, cinnamon, orange peel (if using) and mix well. Pour into crust. Dot with butter.

Spread remaining crumble on top of the pie, covering as much as possible. It is okay if a few spots show, but try to cover as much as possible,

Bake for about 40 minutes, until rhubarb is tender.

Delicious warm or cold. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Our New Obsession: Indoor Gardening

As many of you noticed, up until a week or so ago we were away from our blog for quite a long time. The biggest reason was a new project (which I should have been writing about, but didn't)- a garden room.

We call it a garden room instead of a greenhouse because it is heated year round and is connected to our house. The room is heated with solar and wood. Our hopes are to incorporate solar heated water for heating next winter.

We are experimenting with tomatoes (which we enjoyed all of last winter....I know, I should have written), cucumbers, lettuce and greens and herbs. Oh..and we also had one squash plant last winter and got one squash.

The small piece of gutter pictured below has been planted with lettuce seeds. We plan on adding more gutters which we can suspend from the ceiling to gain more planting space.

Tomatoes are growing in hang baskets and large pots.

 

We put wire in front of the  window for cucumbers to grow on. It is the first time we are trying cucumbers indoors. Next to the cucumbers is an avocado plant.

The goal is to grow as much as we possibly can during the winter to have fresh vegetables. I even put a few carrot seeds in a hanging basket.

More to follow....I promise!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Bar Brat Ice Ball Maker




Every once in a while we receive a product for free for an honest review.  This week we received the Bar Brat Ice Ball Maker. I would not put a post on our blog about a product if I didn't honestly like how the product performs.

I will admit when we first opened the ice ball maker I was skeptical. It looked too small to really bother with for making ice. But after we made the ice we were quite happy. I like the fact that this seals well so we didn't have to worry about water spilling in the freezer (we have a small propane frig with a very small freezer, so things tend to get knocked around a bit). The ice also removed very easily ( the mold is made of 100% BPA- free silicone) and because of the large size of the ice balls we only needed one per drink.

Our drink of choice was our homemade rhubarb juice
I am also going to use the ice ball maker to freeze juice to add to drinks as well....some frozen pineapple juice in our seltzer water, maybe some frozen grape juice in the rhubarb juice.  I think this would even be a fun way to freeze some fruit (inside an ice ball).

 All this fruit talk is making my mouth water for summertime fruits! The grapes are budding and so are the apple trees. I have already started preserving some rhubarb and am looking for new recipes to try. One can never have too many rhubarb recipes!



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p9l8x1t5



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spring Garden Pictures


It is finally feeling like Spring around here. The birds are busy making their nests and the flowers are starting to bud. I might even be able to cut some rhubarb in the next few days!



Spring Flower Closeups


Beet

Chive Bud

Chive

Dandelion

Pear Blosson

Poppy Bud

P
Violet
Teasel
Pear Blossom

"Weed", but so pretty!

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Easy Baking Recipes: Berry Cobbler

This recipe has become one of our favorites. It is a recipe I got from my grandmother, and I have made a few changes to make it a little healthier. I have replaced the refined sugar with honey and maple syrup.  We like this cobbler as a dessert, but even more for breakfast! It is good warm or cold.


Berry Cobbler

Ingredients:

4 cups frozen mixed berries partially thawed.
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange peel
1/4 cup honey

For the biscuit topping:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine berries, flour and peel in a bowl. Combine well. Add the honey and stir in as well as possible.  Pour into 8"x8" baking dish

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender, or your hands to work in the butter until the mixture resembles small peas.  Add the milk and maple syrup and stir until the dough forms. Add a little more milk if necessary.

Drop the biscuit dough onto the berry mixture in globs. It is okay if the dough does not cover all of the berries.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are done.

Great served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.