Category Archives: Homesteading

The bread is a lie….

It’s been a tough month for us and finances are tighter then they’ve ever been at our house. So, when the wife told me she was bored last night, we decided to do something we’ve been talking about doing for a good while now.

Being the wild and crazy people that we are, we decided……..

 

…………..to make some bread.

 

Yes, seriously….and, no, that’s not a euphemism for anything else. We decided to bake some bread and see how it would turn out.

I bought my wife a bread machine for our first Christmas (back when she had to be gluten-free due to allergies), but one of the pieces got lost….in a botched loaf, we’re assuming….so it doesn’t work anymore. Of course, you don’t need a machine to make bread.

So, after we decided we were going to try to eat healthier, we decided to cut back on the breads and pasta and, since we weren’t eating that much bread anymore, we figured that making our own and freezing it could not only be a cost saver, but could also ensure we knew just what was going into our bread in the first place.  Have you ever read the label on a loaf of store bought bread??

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“The slice is right”, my @$$!

The first thing we had to do was find a simple bread recipe. So, I went to my old pal Google and did a search for “simple bread recipe”. The third one down was a very simple recipe from a great site called “The Simple Homemaker“. Sounded legit to me.

It looked very simple and, best of all, used very few ingredients. It called for:

  • 2 cups warm water, not hot or you will kill your yeasty friends
  • 2 teaspoons yeast—a packet contains 2.25 teaspoons–close enough.
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-ish cups flour, all-purpose is fine unless you wish to alter it for health reasons

The instructions were clear and, best of all, laced with humor that gave us a chuckle as we read them.

After the wife checked to see if we had the ingredients (I was convinced we didn’t have yeast…but we did…though short, a bit, on flour), we went to work.

Neither one of us have much experience in bread making so it was…..interesting…to say the least. I made the mistake of not flouring my hands before starting to knead the dough, with sticky results.  When we realized we were short on flour, we substituted a bit of corn starch into the mix, which I was convinced was going to be the death knell of the whole thing.

Now, the recipe calls for cutting the dough up and letting it rise separately….which we didn’t do. We left it in one lump and then cut it in half when we realized it was getting pretty big. Then, we remembered we didn’t have any bread pans, so we used a glass casserole dish sort of thing and a cookie sheet.

The whole time this thing was cooking, I was convinced (between the corn starch substitution and the haphazard rising of the dough), that it was going to be a bust

I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

We took it out and it not only smelled great, but tasted even better. We cut it up and I think I ate three slices then and there.

We bagged it up and put some in the freezer and the rest in the fridge. Now, I’ll admit, it might not look all that great (I’m blaming the corn starch!) but don’t let that fool you….it made up for it’s questionable looks with taste.

Yum!

Yum!

 

Something simple that tastes good….can’t beat that!

You know you’re old when someone asks how you spent your Saturday night, you tell them ‘by baking bread’, and you mean just that!

 

Until next time….

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The Case of the Useful Utility…

Blog…they name is randomness.

O.k, well, it’s really not “Randomness”….but, you know that already.

This is the post I’ve been threatening to do for a while now and for no other reason then it’s random and I like the subject matter. What else is a blog for?

Anyway, this past Christmas the wife and I were out looking for a gift for our brother-in-law. He’s a bit of the ‘hard to buy for’ type so it’s sometime difficult to try to plan on something to get him.

He’s what I usually term an “A-Ha!!” type. I see something and go “A-ha!…he’d like that!”

That’s what happened as we walked through out local Sam’s Club. They had a two-pack of Leatherman tools. The “Wingman” along with the smaller key chain built “Style PS”. The PS, by the way is TSA Compliant….according to the Leatherman website.

The price was right so I grabbed not only one, but two….one for him and one for…..well, me. I’m glad I did, too because we went back a few days later and the entire display was gone. Sold out. It must’ve been a pretty popular item and, after I got it home and started fiddling with it, I could see why.

First off, the “Wingman” is heavy. It only weighs .2 lbs, but if you knocked someone in the head with it, they’d sure feel it.

Note the rivets

Note the rivets

The thing is sturdily built, secured with rivets which also holds the belt clip. It’s made from 420 stainless steel unfolds pretty smoothly. The main tool is the pliers/wire cutters that form when you initially open it up. The spring has a good snap to it, without it being too hard to manipulate.

Rigid teeth for better grip.

Rigid teeth for better grip.

On the left side, as you look at this picture, it folds out into a small pair of spring-loaded scissors. I’ve cut with them and they’re very good and easy to use.

Snip, snip

Snip, snip

On the opposite side, it folds out (with one hand, if needed) into a pretty sharp knife that appears to also function as a line cutter, for fishing line, I would assume. The little ‘lock’ icon has to be pressed to fold the knife back in….a pretty nice safety feature so you don’t cut your own fingers off.

Note the locking mechanism

Note the lock icon

On the flip side of the scissor side, it unfolds into two small screwdrivers. A flat head as well as a ‘phillips’ head.

Handy dandy

Handy dandy

The other side, opposite the knife, offers a combination of bottle opener, file/rule, and line cutter…at least I think it’s a line cutter…or maybe it’s the “package opener” listed on the website?

Gotta have a bottle opener...

Gotta have a bottle opener…

The whole kit ‘n caboodle unfolded looks like this….

Not made by the Swiss

I wonder if the Swiss are jealous?

All in all a very hand little tool to carry around. Whether it be for day-to-day use or a camping trip, it’s something I’d make sure to have with me regardless of where I’m going. One of the best features is….it also comes with a 25 year warranty. Not too shabby.

I’d show you a picture of the key chain tool it came with, but it’s out and about with the wife at the moment….on the car key chain. For frame of reference, though, it’s the Style PS on the website.

Maybe next year, I’ll pick up the Super Tool model. Hey, don’t judge….it never hurts to have the right tool for the job.

Oh, and by the way, my brother-in-law loved it….and that’s what counts the most.

Until next time…

The Case of the Home on the Range…

It all started a couple of years ago with and article I saw somewhere online about “tiny houses“. I’m sure you’ve heard of these….most of them so small you can fit them on a trailer and haul them behind your truck.  A lot of time, the dimensions consisting of no more than 14′ by 14′.

The more I saw, the more interested I became with the whole concept of building a small home, owning it outright, and living a more minimalistic lifestyle.  Wanting to see more, I headed over to one of my favorite media outlets, YouTube, and did a search for “tiny houses”. As the web usually works, I wound up finding other topics…..one that really caught my eye was “Homesteading“. It, basically, takes the ‘tiny house’ mentality a step further where you live off the land and, pretty much, off the grid.

Off the Grid living is self-sufficient living. You don’t rely on any outside agency for your housing, plumbing, electrical needs, or food. You grow your own, collect your own water, supply your own power…usually via solar paneling or wind turbines…and, basically, fend for yourself.

I cam across LaMar’s YouTube channel and started watching it. Below, I think, is the first video I saw on ‘homesteading’….

The more I began digging into homesteading, I began coming across another phenomenon….Prepping. It seems that folks all over are preparing for some sort of catastrophe….natural or man made….to strike and want to be ready when it inevitably (in their mind) does. The National Geographic Channel even has a show devoted to the lifestyle, Doomsday Preppers. For better or worse, these people are really taking the whole ‘end of the world as we know it’ scenario seriously and are going to great lengths to make sure they’ll be ready when the time arrives.  Are they crazy? I don’t know, but I hope we never have to find out.

Living in Florida, we do a bit of ‘prepping’ just in case we get hit by a hurricane and, luckily, we haven’t had to make use of any of our stockpile. Besides the usual food and water, we also have a camp stove, flashlights, batteries, a crank/solar weather radio, toiletries, etc. We’re not thinking that we’re going to survive a doomsday scenario, but it never hurts to be prepared if you can. I think a bigger garden and some canning might be in our future, as well.

My wife and I are still a bit enamored by the homesteading life and hope to, someday, set up on a little piece of property in our own ‘tiny house’. Of course the word ‘tiny’ isn’t going to be literal…we’d like something decent sized and, if possible, it’s own plumbing. 🙂 (Oh yeah….and Internet!)

If homesteading might sound appealing to you, I’d recommend LaMar’s YouTube channel….it’s a great place to start and can give you the basics and foundation on just what sort of things this kind of living entails. It’s a very interesting way to live, for sure.

Until next time….

The Case of the (not so) Killer Tomato…

My wife and I have, for a while, been interested in doing some Homesteading. A few things have stood in our way….o.k…mainly one thing.

$$$Money, moolah, dinero, filthy lucre$$$

At this point, we don’t have the finances to buy any land and start building a small, off the grid type, home. So, until we can get there finance wise, we’ve started doing a few, smaller, things around our own condo/homestead. We talked about building a raised bed garden, but I was concerned about our HOA getting up in arms. I didn’t want to put a lot of time and energy into building one, if we were only told to take it down days or weeks later. So, to that end, we decided to try some container gardening.

So, we headed to Lowe’s…bought a few buckets, some soil, some mulch,some stands, and a few plants. We weren’t brave enough to try to start from seed, so we bought a few starter plants. When we got home, I drilled about fifteen water drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets, we dumped in the soil and planted the plants. I threw a little bit of mulch on top of the soil (the mulch on the outside of the buckets is from landscapers) and set the buckets on two bricks to allow for some room for the water to drain…..just in case we over watered them (we’d never do that….noooo).

Here are a few pics of our “garden”….

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Not much to it…simple and easy.

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The mulch on the outside of the buckets is from the landscapers, not me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was back in December and, just in case you don’t know, I live in Florida so we can do that sort of thing down here 🙂 We wound up planting two tomato plants and one green pepper plant. The green pepper plant hasn’t done anything. The plant on the far left, while it looks impressive, hasn’t produced anything in the way of tomatoes…yet. Just the other day, I found a few buds popping up, so we’ll see how they do. The plant in the middle is the one that seems to be thriving. It gave us our first and there seem to be five or six more waiting in the wings to offer themselves up as sacrifices for our BLTs.

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The plant on the far left…it’s trying!

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You have to look closer…

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A few more coming in from the middle plant….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, like they say online….”Pics or it didn’t happen“….so, here ya go. Our first, honest to gosh, real,tomato….

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Only on the internet would you find a guy be so proud of a single tomato…

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It died a good death and was very yummy!

Now, I’m sure there are plenty of things we’re missing here but, as I said, we’re just getting started and have found container gardening to be fairly easy and cost effective…at this point. If any, more experienced, gardeners come across this and want to offer up any advice, I’m all ears….er, I mean…eyes…this is the Interwebz, after all.

Until next time…