Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home Cookin #1~ Sambussa

Welcome Readers! As our weekends draw to a close Sunday is the perfect day to have a peaceful gathering with family around the dinner table.

Every Sunday I will blog about what we are cookin' up in our kitchen along with the recipe!

Any readers who try out the recipe please COMMENT below with your thoughts/suggestions/reviews!!

Today we are cookin' up... Sambussa

Ingredients:
1 cup of lentils
1 medium sized potato (cooked and chunky mashed)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
3/4 cup diced onions
2 minced garlic cloves
3 TBS olive oil
2 tsp paprika
1 beaten egg yolk
1 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1 tsp ground coriander
oil for frying

Pastry:

For Pastry:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon oil
6 tablespoon water

Making Pastry:

Combine flour, salt, and oil until bread crumbly texture. Slowly add water mixing well, knead until smooth. Cover with a warm damp cloth and let sit for 30 min or more. Roll out dough into 10 balls (even size). Roll out dough thin until its at least about 5 inch circle.

Directions for filling:
Rinse the lentils and bring them to a boil in the water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions, eggs and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the spices and chopped green peppers and simmer, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the pan from the heat. When the lentils are tender, combine them with the sauteed vegetables. Then add chunky mashed potato. Season with salt and pepper.



Finishing!:
Cut dough circle in half and take the half and make a cone. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of filling, fold top over forming a kinda of triangle. set to the side. Repeat until all pastry's are made. Heat 2 inches of oil in a pan and fry on both sides until golden brown. Set on paper towel to drain excess oil.
Serve on a bed of rice and with a nice side salad! : )

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why 100% orange juice isnt 100% orange juice..

So we make a choice to buy 100% orange juice! Great! Except now we know its not.
These juice company's may list their item as 100% orange juice (not from concentrate) but they may not be telling 100% of the truth.

The first step in making that yummy juice is putting it into a huge vat and sucking all the oxygen out of it.. HUH? Well this keeps the juice fresh for about a year.... BUT.... it also removed the orange flavor...

So who wants to drink pulpy juice that has no taste? No one so these company's hire the perfume smell producers to create "flavor packs" this pack puts the orange flavor, smell, etc back into this juice... seem crazy?

So how do they get away with not putting that on the label? Well since the flavor packs are made from orange by products its not required.

It disgusts me that we can drink chemical flavor packs and have no idea. This all ties into the fact that all foods should have clear and accurate listings of what's inside. GMO, chemicals, etc

Well I have a glass hand juicer and I think I may just plant a orange tree. Yet another disappointment in our contemporary food system.

Worm Composting!!!

So this weekends project was simple and took less then a hour but hopefully will provide lots of wonderful compost over the years!

A wonderful worm bin! It seems funny that one would welcome worms into their home but we did that gladly!

Here is what you need to build your own!

Supplies:

~Power drill or a sharp nail and a hammer
~Rectangular plastic storage bin with a lid, any size
~Newspaper and cardboard
~2 cups ordinary soil, any type
~Red worms (Lubricous rubellas) or compost worms (Eugenia fetid)

Instructions:
Using the drill or the sharp nail and a hammer (the latter is much more difficult — use a drill if you can), create two rows of ventilation holes around the top edge of the bin, starting beneath the lid. Space the holes about 3 or 4 inches apart. The exact size of the holes doesn’t matter much, but they should be 1/4 inch or less in diameter. To make sure the bin doesn’t leak and can be kept anywhere, don’t put any holes in the bottom of the container. Lack of bottom drainage means you’ll have to be vigilant to make sure the contents don’t get too soggy, because there’s nowhere for water to go.
Shred newspaper into fine strips. Use plain newspaper, not shiny inserts, which may contain harmful dyes, and not office paper, which has been bleached. Rip the paper into strips. While you’re at it, rip up some plain corrugated cardboard, too, if you have it. It must be bare cardboard, not paper coated, because again, that paper may contain bleaches or inks. It’s easier to rip up cardboard that has been soaked in water first. Worms really like corrugated cardboard — they snuggle up in the channels, so tear it into worm-size chunks roughly 4 inches square.
Wet the newspaper strips by placing them in a bowl or bucket and drizzling water over them and stirring until they’re all equally damp. Add the shreds to the worm bin by the handful, squeezing them first to make sure they’re damp, not sodden. The ideal consistency is that of a wrung-out sponge. You don’t ever want to have standing water in the worm bin.

After you’ve added about 4 to 6 inches of newspaper to the bin, add the cardboard pieces and about 2 cups of soil. The soil adds grit to the mix, which helps with the worm’s digestion. Toss it all together to mix it. Add the worms. Put a little paper over them right away, because they don’t like the light.


Possible Worm Problems:
Worms Dying?
~ It may be that they are not getting enough food, which means you should bury more food into the bedding.
~ They may be too dry, in which case you should moisten the box until it is slightly damp.
~ They may be too wet, in which case you should add bedding.
~ The worms may be too hot, in which case you should put the bin in the shade.
~ The bedding is eaten, and it is time to add fresh bedding.
Bin Smells?
~ First, it may be that there is not enough air circulation. In this case, add dry bedding under and over the worms, and do not feed them for two weeks.
~ Second, there may be non-compostables in the bin DO NOT feed your worms meat, dairy, grains (bread, ceral, etc), greasy, or processed foods
~ Third, there may be exposed food in the bin. Make sure you bury all food under the bedding!

Harvest Time!!
Keep a watch on your bin! You'll start to notice (hopefully) that the bedding and food scrapes are disappearing! YAY! Once most of the bedding and food is devoured you can start harvesting your worm gold!
Move your finished compost to one side of the bin, place new bedding and some food scrapes in the newly empty side, close and leave for a few days, most of the worms will have migrated to the new bedding side allowing you to scoop up your new fertilizer! Make sure to keep a watch for lagger worms so you can pick those out and put them back into your box!

Making Worm Tea:


What You Need:
~ 2 cups of finished worm compost
~ A 5 gallon Bucket
~ Old Pantyhose
~ Rain Water (or Tap)
~ 1 Tablespoon Molasses
~ Bubbler (the kind they use to keep bait alive in the bucket)

What to do?
~ Fill bucket 3/4 with rain water (or tap)
~ If your use tap water let your water stand overnight if using rain water proceed
~ Add your 2 cups of worm compost into old pantyhose foot, tie off at the top
~ Add bag of compost to your bucket
~ Add molasses
~ Turn on your water bubbler and let bubble for 24 hours
~ Your done now go give your plants a treat!

Rose Stages!

DAY 1: New Bud

DAY 2: Bud (Stage 2)

DAY 3: Partial Bloom

DAY 4: Full Bloom

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekend Project #1- Make a Worm Compost Bin

So every Wednesday I will post a blog about this coming weekends project! Stay tuned!!

This weekends project:

A Worm Bin:

Supplies:

Power drill (or a sharp nail and a hammer)
Rectangular plastic storage bin with a lid, any size
Newspaper and cardboard
2 cups ordinary soil, any type
Red worms (Lubricous rubellas) or compost worms (Eugenia fetid)

Using the drill or the sharp nail and a hammer (the latter is much more difficult — use a drill if you can), create two rows of ventilation holes around the top edge of the bin, starting beneath the lid. Space the holes about 3 or 4 inches apart. The exact size of the holes doesn’t matter much, but they should be 1/4 inch or less in diameter. To make sure the bin doesn’t leak and can be kept anywhere, don’t put any holes in the bottom of the container. Lack of bottom drainage means you’ll have to be vigilant to make sure the contents don’t get too soggy, because there’s nowhere for water to go.

Shred newspaper into fine strips. Use plain newspaper, not shiny inserts, which may contain harmful dyes, and not office paper, which has been bleached. If you have a paper shredder, run the newspaper through that, because the finer the paper shreds, the better. Otherwise, rip the paper into strips. While you’re at it, rip up some plain corrugated cardboard, too, if you have it. It must be bare cardboard, not paper coated, because again, that paper may contain bleaches or inks. It’s easier to rip up cardboard that has been soaked in water first. Worms really like corrugated cardboard — they snuggle up in the channels, so tear it into worm-size chunks roughly 4 inches square.

Wet the newspaper strips by placing them in a bowl or bucket and drizzling water over them and stirring until they’re all equally damp. Add the shreds to the worm bin by the handful, squeezing them first to make sure they’re damp, not sodden. The ideal consistency is that of a wrung-out sponge. You don’t ever want to have standing water in the worm bin.

After you’ve added about 4 to 6 inches of newspaper to the bin, add the cardboard pieces and about 2 cups of soil. The soil adds grit to the mix, which helps with the worm’s digestion. Toss it all together to mix it. Add the worms. Put a little paper over them right away, because they don’t like the light.
*Instructions from Mother Earth News DIY catalog*

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pictures Around Sunny Spot Gardens (week of July 18th)








Well its Been Quite a Sunday

Hey happy sunday! It seems we've grown in readers!
Welcome new friends!!!!

So today has been quite a day! First I started by watering everything cause today looked to be a scorcher with no rain -_-
I started picking up the trash that has littered our yard.. pieces of edging, junk wood, plastic bags, etc
Jerry and his wonderful wife stopped by to pick up their tiller and brought me a bunch of banana plants and enough strawberry plants to fill both small beds!!! I was more then happy to share some kelp meal, a mix of organic items for a organic fertilizer, dried hibiscus flowers, and some coneflower seeds.

We got the banana trees planted right away, they are now mulched with hay and deep watered. Just about a hour ago I filled the strawberry beds and planted those! 7 plants each bed : )

Yesterday I made a new batch of all purpose cleaner and I just love how well it cleans without that overpowering smell and finger wrinkling chemicals!!
All-Purpose Cleaner
This cleaner you make right in your spray bottle

2T vinegar
1 t Borax
Hot water
A few drops of a mild dish detergent
10 drops of essential oil, optional

In a 16 spray bottle put vinegar, borax and hot water. Swish around until borax has dissolved. Add the drops of dish detergent and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Add the essential oil.


I'm waiting till this evening when it kind of cools off to spread the other hay bale around the backyard but may not get to it.

Hope everyone had a productive and joyous weekend!!! : )

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The End of the Supermarket Banana

The end of the banana market.. brought on by a crazy lethal fungus. *sigh*
This is the problem with monoculture.

If you go to the supermarket you can see at least 5 different types of apples, 3 different tomatoes etc.. problem is you only see 1 type of banana and that's because we only grow Cavendish for market. Why? Because we are so obsessed with perfect look, how it ships, how big it is that we forget about things like taste, assortment, choices!

So this fungus is spreading through Asia and Australia but what if it spreads to Latin America? Since that's where most of our bananas are grown it could and would completely wipe out the supermarket banana.

How can we stop this? Well in short we cant. The fungus can spread so easy.. catch a ride on someones dirty shoe, a single plant brought over from Asia, anything really and that's what scares the crap out of myself and many other people!
My stand is to find and buy as many different types of banana plants I can and grow the crap outta them! Maybe transform my entire front yard into a banana forest!! Well... maybe that's a little much but I'm going to get A LOT..!! : )

Don't have room to plant a banana? Stock up on bananas now.. Mash them up and FREEZE! maybe in 3 years banana bread will be a delicacy and you'll still be able to bake up a batch!

The PERFECT Summer Drink

The hottest days of the year are upon us so many ask the question...
What is the perfect summer drink?
Something cool, light and refreshing.....
WATER!

Yes I know that was a boring answer but this is the perfect summer drink and all it needs is a little pick me up!

Borage:
A beautiful herb/flower that can grow huge with squash like leaves and bright purple flowers.
Use:
Trim off the flowers as they bloom and add 1 to your ice cubes as you make them. Not only does this make every ice cube fun and perfect for get togethers or cute for kids it can cool you down as well.. read on! Also trim the young small leaves crush between your fingers and place in the bottom of your cup before pouring in some water. The leaves (flowers to but to a lesser effect) have a cooling liquid stored inside them so when you crush and add to your glass of water it actual cools the water and as you ingest in turn cools you. : ) All Natural Cooling agent friends!

Cucumbers:
Slice up a cucumber and place slices in a pitcher of water for a slight refreshing taste!

Citrus(Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit):
Take a fresh citrus fruit and slice into think slices place into a pitcher and add water, store in fridge for 1-2 hours. Pour and enjoy a infused fruit water drink!

Mint:
Ah Mint cool and refreshing at the same time! Cut some sprigs of fresh mint from your plant and place into a pitcher, pour water over top and steep for 1-2 hours! Enjoy a cup of refreshing cooling water! Try different types of mint.. apple mint, spearmint, classic mint, etc

Mango:
Summer is the time for mangoes and at supermarkets and farmers markets your bound to find some cheap. Slice them up throw into a pitcher add water and steep for 2 hours, add some stevia or agave as a sweetener and enjoy your fresh and fruity drink!

Bakers Creek Seeds VS. Other seed comp

So im sitting going through my seeds so i can get started planning when i open my pepper packet there is nothing there!!!! AHHHHH

I cannot believe I put an empty pack back so now I have to order more seeds!
I get on my favorite site (rareseeds.com) Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds and start adding. As always I go through each catagory..
My first addition was a cauliflower, I have never grown cauliflower but knew I wanted a self blanching type (the act of tying leaves around the growing head so it stays white instead turning yellow). I found one called Snowball.
I did a google search of the seed and the first pop up was seed savers exchange. There you get 50 seeds for $2.75, I click back to bakers creek there you get 200 seed for $2.25.
Well this sparked my interest and I started doing it with every seed I wanted to order:

SNOW BALL: $2.25 for 200 seed at Bakers Creek VS. $2.75 for 50 seed at Seed Saver Exchange

Violet De Galmi Onion: $2.50 for 300 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. Nowhere (I could not find this seed anywhere else)

Little Marvel Garden Pea: $2.25 for 100 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. $2 for 1 oz of seed at Victory Seeds

Thai Red Chilli: $2.50 for 25-50 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. $2.89 for 75 (non-organic) seeds at Gourmet Seed

Caribbean Red Habanero Pepper: Both Bakers Creek and Mountain Meadows had this seed for $2.50 for 25-50 seeds

Jupiter Pepper: $2.50 for 25 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. $2.50 for 20 seeds at Reimer Seeds

Cosmic Purple Carrot: $3 for 800 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. $2.50 for 650 seeds at Victory Seed

Echinacea Purpurea: $2.50 for 50 seeds at Bakers Creek VS. $3 for 50 seeds on Local Harvest

Henderson's - Charleston Wakefield: Both Bakers Creek and Sustainable Seed had this priced at $2 for 300 seeds

What my goal was to show that shopping around is a great thing for every item you buy including seed. Not to mention different company's have different descriptions and reviews so it can help make up your mind if your torn between 2 types. Like i found out that Henderson's - Charleston Wakefield Cabbage is actually recommend by my state as a great variety to plant! : )

Friday, July 22, 2011

A catch up

So this week has been busy between stress at work and trying to get the tilling done.

So after i tore up a large chunk of our backyard with the tiller, Ronnie went to work on the front yard and did the same thing! : ) We are now all dirt and ready to plant!!
I want banana trees in the front, maybe some papaya, as well as a couple garden beds, and flowers along the sidewalk. In the back will be almost all garden beds with the occasional fruit tree!

Ronnie found me this cool metal rack that connects overhead on the side of the road. That rack is now set up where you walk out of the chicken area and into the garden area! Pots of herbs will sit on the rack except the top shelf where i plan to put some flowering vine plant to cover the top.. maybe passion flower or climbing jasmine!

I got enough concrete blocks for the ends of the new beds but dont have the funds to complete the beds or fill them up! : (

I moved the 2 strawberry beds slightly but they are empty until i get some plants.

I started a trellis (a-frame type) out of some downed scrap trees and just need to collect more branches to complete it!

We moved large pieces of a downed tree from the side of our house the the back stacked on a pallet, these will be our firewood this year as it has been seasoning for over 6 months! : )

Its been a busy week and Im glad the weekend is here! Maybe some relaxing, blogging of course, and working outside is a must! I have to get those darn seeds started!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Urban Farming Bug

It started as a thought and turned into a full blown lifestyle!

As i sat in my small apartment bouncing a little baby on my lap I thought why couldn't I grow my own food, so i tore up the 5x5 area outside the front door and planted. It grew and that small plot gave me a bug that grew along with the plants.

When we moved into our house on a 1/4 acre the bug was unleashed and out popped the first small garden. Seeing the delight in my young daughters eyes as she ate beans and tomatoes right from the plant fueled my bug even more. So i built a larger garden, then another larger garden, then 3 smaller gardens, now I rid my yard of the weed called grass and am planning 3 more LARGE garden beds as well as a Sunflower patch and a bean trellis bed.

This is not to mention my peach tree, lemon tree, fig tree and new blueberry and blackberry patches. I'm addicted. I work 40+ hours at my "real" job then come home to work all weekend in my under construction urban farm but it feels great! Like I'm making a difference 1 garden bed at a time!

My 3 year plan will have banana plants in the front yard as well as flowers, herbs, and a mix of veggies, my backyard will have 2 peach trees, 2 apple trees, my lemon tree, my fig tree, a established blue and black berry patch, 2 strawberry rows, plus more veggies and fruits then a 3 person family can eat (I have a deep freezer and a canning set on standby)not to mention my lovely chickens blessing us with eggs everyday and maybe even enlarging the flock to 5 little fun birds!

I consider myself very lucky to be able to share my adventures with you while I grow and also grow my Urban Farm!!!


Barn hop..HERE!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grass Be Gone

So thanks to the kindness of Jerry I sit here typing this while cooling off.
My backyard has been tilled. The entire section I wanted cleared is now ready for building.

I know I want a couple long beds but after I type this out I plan on sitting down and figuring out what type of beds I need then planning it out. I spent probably over 10 hours this weekend removing the smaller garden beds, tilling, raking, cutting down dead trees to use for bean trellis building, and other garden work.. I'm sunburnt and tired but had a very productive weekend!

I ordered a small order of seeds from Bakers Creek including some cabbage and carrots and some purple and yellow coneflowers!

I also plan on starting seed today.. tomato, pepper, and some other longer growing seeds.. beans and squash sprout to fast to start right now!

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farmageddon Movie Screening in Tampa

Hey everyone you have got to get on facebook and click attend on this awesome event. My family is making a night of it! I have been wanting to see this movie since i first heard about it!! : )
Click on the title to be transported to the screening facebook Page!


Jerry

Jerry I want to take a minute to thank you again.

This gentleman and his wonderful family came over to my place yesterday bearing gifts!
A rototiller to borrow (MAJOR SCORE), a bag of wonderful looking assorted eggplants (YUMM), and some minerals (ORGANIC) to add to my soil!

I hugely appreciate this kind act of generosity! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I love the face to face interaction with other like minded people, and love meeting my readers!

Today I plan on tilling my backyard! Next to my current beds i have ALL grass.. I want it gone!!! Once tilled I have options more garden beds of course, but maybe some flowers, herbs, trees, more fruit bushes, maybe some ground cover.. The possibilities are endless and anything besides grass and weeds will be a life changing event! : )

Once my urban farm is done being under construction I plan on having a get together with all of you who can attend! A potluck of sorts complete with a bonfire! More details on that in the near future! : )

Thank you again Jerry!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The World After Mondestro ( A short story)

I have written a FICTIONAL short story in journal form about life after Mondestro's take over.

Friday: September 28th, 2034

It was a quiet afternoon, fog hung around us like a veil of doom. The sky had gone dark with monstrous looking clouds rolling in from the north bringing flashes of light illuminating the tired and ragged appearances of those around me.

Hundreds of us all stood jammed into a building that once was a seed bank. Now empty and deserted cob webs hung in every corner you could see, empty shelves hung, some by just a nail with labels of what used to be. The only thing in the room besides us was a platform in the front with a single stand and a microphone.

We all waited silently as if hoping for a miracle. On to the stage walked the last remaining heirloom farmer. Looking exhausted he got up to the platform. "Friends," he started "today I come with bad news.. Mondestro has seized my remaining crops, cleaned out my storage of seeds, and told me I would be thrown in jail if I planted any other heirloom vegetables or fruits." We all just looked on in horror. " I'm sorry friends" he continued " today I bring no food and will not be able to bring anymore, we must all move onto the next town and see if there's anyone left who can help us"

My head got foggy and I felt like I was going to pass out, I hadn't had anything to eat in 3 days.. I couldn't bear to eat that GMO food that Mondestro forced us to. It makes people sick, many have died. My own family were all sick depending on me to bring them "real" food to help them get better. Now our last remaining farmer has been destroyed and left us all with nothing. I pushed through the crowd to the outside. There stood Mondestro's Force, waiting for us like we were animals to hunt down.

As soon as we stepped outside those seed bank doors they started arresting us for supporting the "evil", throwing to the dusty ground women, children, and elderly not caring. All they knew was we were against them and the GMO crops so there for we were terrorists. I ran for my life knowing that none of the people who went to Mondestro's Jail came back. I could hear the screaming behind me as people fought with the little strength they had left. I cried as I ran, how could this have happened? Why, why did we let this happen?
I got home shut and locked the doors behind me, blew out the candles and shut the curtains tight. I told my family to not make a sound. Outside we could hear the sounds of their troops marching through the streets and the sounds of people crying. It was a awful feeling and we have seen it happen way to often.
Mondestro who changed the world slowly with their Biotech crops killed off most of the livestock by feeding them GMO corn instead of grass, then they killed the grass and fruits and vegetables by spraying their toxic chemicals over all the land wiping everything out besides their special modified crops. A mass panic set in as peoples children got sick, the elderly died, many otherwise healthy people got fatal diseases like cancer.

At this point Mondestro (known as Monster Destroyer by the resistance) had their grips on our entire food system and what they said went. Courts were wiped out replaced by total rulers, farmers were left with nothing unless they wanted to plant GMO and a lot did until their families got sick from it. then they fled to who knows where. The entire United States became a sick nation ruled by the all mighty powerful Mondestro! We the people were left with nothing but our will. Some of us started the resistance, a group of people hell bent on bringing back "real" food, the food that made us healthy and happy. We joined together and some farmers joined us. We converted barns into grow houses for organic heirloom food, we raised chickens and fed them some of the grown food and scrapes. We went weekly to the old seed bank secretly to pick up our rations. We would all donate our time to help out on the farm and in return we shared the harvest. We had a good set up people were getting slowly recovering.. that is until this week. Now here I am hiding from those monsters with my family with no food and dwindling hope.
I dont know how much longer we can do this... how much longer can we hold out against the most powerful force this world has ever seen!
God save us all.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We are on YOUTUBE!!!



Subscribe!

How to buy local and organic on a budget

As most of my readers have seen by going to the grocery store is that organic is more expensive.
So how do those like myself on a budget shop for organic and local products?

The first step is to shop directly from the farm or ranch. For example a pound of grass fed beef at publix goes for $8.50 but I bought a pound for 6.. but in bulk it goes to $5. By cutting out the middle man you cut out money you would otherwise be wasting and putting into the multi-million dollar businesses. By shopping local not only are you getting healthy high quality fresh meat and produce that hasn't been driven 300 miles to land on your plate but you support local people!

The 2nd step is be a smart consumer! Look in your pantry, or freezer.. pull out the items stuffed way in the back.. how long have those items been there? A while I bet! How often do you find freezer burnt spoiled meat you throw away? That's money being tossed out. Well how do we become a smart consumer? Plan ahead!!
Plan out a weeks worth of meals as best you can.. maybe Monday you eat beef, Tuesday pork, Wednesday chicken, Thursday leftovers.. etc then find out how much meat you need for that weeks meals. ONLY buy that much!!! Same thing with produce.. sliced fruit with cottage cheese for breakfast a apple in a child's lunch for school think what you will need and only buy that amount. Its simple planning and math that can take a budget and make it work.

The 3rd a final step. DO NOT eat fast food. As a typical American I found it easy to grab a dollar hamburger or some chicken nuggets while out shopping or doing errands but you spend a lot of money only stopping once or twice a week! I mean think about it the normal combo meal is $5 maybe $6... but you have 3 or 4 people in your family so now your total for that one meal is around $20 that could buy a pound of grass fed local beef, some potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes the makings of a fantastic home cooked meal.
Just curb your hunger and instead of grabbing fast food head to the grocery store. Not only can you save money this way but your health. That fast food junk is filled with by products, fillers, pesticides, and under paid farmers sweat(not literately I hope)..

Let me tell you a short story about me and fast food.

I was pregnant and working 40 hours. There was fast food and pizza parlors on every corner and I didn't feel like cooking so I ate at one of these "restaurants" and along with me quitting smoking I gained 100 pounds. When Brooke was born I wanted her to eat healthy so after breast milk when she started real(baby) food I made my own from fresh veggies and fruits but I wasn't focused on my own health only hers. The problem with this was I never lost the weight I had gained. Only now as I make drastic changes in the way we are living and eating is the weight slowly coming off and I'm finding more money in my pockets!

I urge everyone even those not on a budget to use these tips to help save yourself some money and be wiser about how you shop!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Woodstock Mentality

Is it possible to have another Woodstock? or has the culture changed to much?
First ask yourself this and answer it then read on...

Woodstock is looked upon by many as a definitive time in American history and has gained popularity and even kids know about it but what was it really?
A music festival? Yes but so much more! this was a time when over 400,000 people came together as a family joined hands and suffered together but through that loved each other respected each other and grew. Lack of water, food, bathrooms didn't cause these people to attack and turn on each other! No these people helped each other and did what they could to make those days the best of their life! They succeeded!
It may not be something we think about in daily life but what if we did? Would it help us all get along? Would it be possible to have another Woodstock? It has been tried many times but people seem to have forgotten what Woodstock was really about. Not the music that was a additive, Woodstock ended up being about love for each other.
Sadly I don't think another Woodstock would be possible in this day and age. We have been filled with anger and hostility. We curse each other and hurt each other. Its sad to me as I look around and see how angry people are in day to day activity. How I wish i could have been apart of Woodstock to experience the love, and freedom and of course here to many wonderful artists who passed to soon!

Maybe if there is one thing you take away from this blog please take this. In your day to day life catch yourself getting angry and push it away. That car that cuts you off think to yourself at least I'm not hurt and continue on your day.
Don't hold onto anger or it will eat you alive, don't harbor sadness or it will consume you, live your life a little more free and happy and other will catch your vibes and maybe together we can have a Woodstock movement right here in our own city.

Listen to the power in this song and all that is explained without a word:

Friday, July 8, 2011

All good things must come to an end

Well this week I took some much needed time off work to relax, clean and organize the house, as well as get started on the backyard work! Sadly this vacation time is coming to a end and Monday i must head back to "real" life *sigh* it was nice while it lasted though! I think i was productive as well as relaxing!

I got my blueberry patch finished! 4 plants with room to add 2 more, I also started my blackberry patch with 3 plants that will spread and turn into a nice patch as blackberry's send out canes I still have to set up blocks around the edge to help keep the grass, sand, etc out and keep the rich compost soil in!

My fig that I pulled up and replanted is not looking so good but will hopefully recover and quickly!

The rain today flooded out my backyard. It started at around 10 and stopped around 6 well when i say stop i mean the downpour we are still having spurts of sprinkles! I would say my new fruit plants are well watered in! We are expecting more rain tomorrow but probably not a wash out like today.

This week my friend and I went to Parkesdale Farm Market in Plant City where we enjoyed a strawberry milkshake, did some produce shopping, and looked at their plants for sale. They have Raspberry plants for $4, blueberry plants for $6, and grape plants for $9! I will be having the DF (dear fiance ;) )build a arbor soon so i can get a couple grape vines, but as you see above i bought some blue and black berry plants!

My focus this next week is to design my backyard, get a rototiller over here so i can till up this forsaken grass and start building the remaining needed garden beds!
I'm looking to make two 4x16 beds and two 4x8 beds. I'm on the lookout for concrete blocks REALLY REALLY cheap or FREE (anyone on here??) to help create those beds.. Large logs work well to!

This season I'm thinking about starting up a little front yard business selling transplants and other plants. Anyone interested in something like that?

I also have some exciting news as I was asked to be apart of WMNFs sustainable living show with Jon Butts! It was supposed to be this coming Monday the 11th but my "real" job interfered so I had to decline. He did say that we would have to plan a future date to have me come on the show and when that happens I'll let you know!

Happy Weekend!

P.S: Don't forget to "like" us on facebook!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Woes of Florida Soil

So do you have so much garden space your little compost pile can't make enough to keep up? Yes? Then keep reading!
I'm here to explain some different types of soil improving that you can start now and be able to use come next season..

Sheet compost.. start by tilling up your grass, lay down sheets of newspaper all over the area you will be planting, after the newspaper water in down, top with hay and grass clippings, then on top of that add some well rotted farm animal poop (rabbit, chicken, horse).. top all that with another layer of hay.. after 2 months of sitting till into soil.. wait another 2 months and start planting

Another way is kind of a combo method.. as normal till up the area you want to plant. Take tree trimmings, grass clippings, dead leaves, hay, vegetable throwaways, fruit rinds, ripped up newspaper and dig out 6 inch trenches every 3 ft in your garden fill with these mixtures of "trash".. set fire to all this waste after it starts smoking (grey smoke) cover with your soil, wait until the next day and. Till the burnt charcoal pieces into your whole garden then top hay after 2 or so inches of hay add well farm animal manure (as before you can check craigslist for this)

And the most expensive way is creating the perfect dirt using bagged top soil, peat moss, vermiculite, and compost (in ratios of 1:4) a bail of vermiculite and peat moss are between $10 and $20 a bail and top soil and bagged compost runs between $1.50 and $3 a bag so on the small scale this may be the better route for some since one mixed and spread you can plant right away but larger scale this gets expensive!

I hope you can find a way using these or other methods to improve your soil.. and my best advice for what to do with your Florida "soil" after you dig it out is TOSS IT (or use it to make a sand box)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicken Flight Feather Clipping

Today I had enough of the chickens flying the fence URG.. so I decided to clip their flight feathers!

Its a simple process that does not harm the chicken at all.

First my daughter chased them down and brought them to me.
She wrapped each one in her favorite blanket and handed the bird to me like a gift.
Next I laid them on their side on my legs pulling one wing out slowly and carefully.
Once fully extended I clipped the 10 or so last feathers(the longest).
You only want to clip one side so it throws them off balance and they can't fly right.
After all the chickens were done my daughter herded them back to their area and shut the door.
The End!

The last 3 days since their clipping the haven't gotten out so now here's hoping this permanently fixes my escape bird problem as they love to devour my fruit and veggies!!!

Above: Flight Feathers before Clipping

Below: Flight Feathers after Clipping (even with smaller back feathers)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pastured Eggs VS. Supermarket Eggs

So almost everyone has ate a supermarket egg.. You crack it open and out comes a watery egg white and a soft limp pale yellow yolk, but this is what we expect and we shouldn't! We should demand better..

The USDA states that a egg is safe to sell 45 days after it was laid.. So here’s how to tell how old the eggs are that you get in the supermarket. At the end of the carton you should find a “sell by” date. You can estimate the date the eggs were packed by counting back 45 days. Scary? Yeah a little especially since those poor chickens were living in such terrible conditions, i for one know that living in a 2x4 with 7 other people would make me miserable and if i was a chicken i wouldn't be laying the highest quality eggs!

Now for those who have had a farm fresh egg you know the taste and look is very different, you have a plump yellow/orange yolk with thick whites that don't look like water but there's more then that in numerous studies done farm fresh VS. supermarket egg.. farm fresh has shown to have more vitamins, nutrients, and other goodies.

Mother Earth News ran tests of eggs from pastured flocks across the country.
Their findings showed that pastured eggs had approximately one-third less cholesterol, nearly three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene and twice the amount of omega-3s as compared to the standard USDA data.
A follow-up study in 2008 confirmed that pastured eggs contain three to six times more vitamin D as well. Pastured eggs also normally contain higher levels of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with good eye health.

Huge difference? I think so!! So Vote with your fork and buy local pastured farm fresh eggs (more and more farmers markets have numerous local egg sellers)


Click HERE to barn hop!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Hey everyone!
What are your plans for today?

Well this morning I went to Home Depot and got some paver bricks (they were on red,white and blue sale) and some cans of spray paint for the shed...

Homeward bound..
When we got home we taped off the shed and started spraying.. major fail.. it was not consistant and had runs.. ugh
So now I'm going to have to buy a bucket of paint and roll it out which I should have done in the first place : (

Well after the failed shed attempt I dug up and filled a trench that I planted 4 blueberry bushes in, then treated them to a help watering and some hay mulch.. my hope is they dig their roots out and get big and strong providing me with a small productive blueberry patch!

There's no clouds so far today which is good for fireworks later as long as it keep up but bad for anyone working outside, within 10 minutes I was dripping with sweat and dirt clinging to me.

We plan on planting up a raspberry patch later and then heading down to channelside for 4th of july activites and fireworks at 9!!

Happy 4th everyone! : )

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Local Farmer Spotlight: Kuntzelman Family

If you could choose would you pick meat that has been sprayed with who knows what, driven hundreds of miles from a factory farm who knows where, made with unknown parts ground together with such a high fat content people who have heart problems are told to stay far away over local pasture raised grass fed happy cows/sheep/chickens that meats so rich in omega 3 and so low in fat heart patients are allowed to eat it and sometimes even encouraged to??? I mean really what would you choose?

Well I choose the latter and went out to visit the Kuntzelman family to pick up my locally raised meat, and meet the family and the animals.

Brooke, my grandma, and I made the 30 minute trip to Dover and pulled up in front of this cute humble home with rolling fields and tall grass in the back.. a beautiful golden retriever jumped up at our arrival but soon settled back under the shade of a big tree, I walked up the driveway to find a young man and woman sitting outside enjoying their view and having some cold water, a baby monitor sat on the table. I introduced myself, my daughter and my grandma after we all shook hands we started the tour.

First close to the house was a large brooder with heat lamps and little 3 day old chicks running around.. Ahh! I remember having chicks : )
Next was a large area of the pasture fenced off where a metal chicken house sat and I saw laying hens and a couple roosters walking around and some happily hiding in the tall grasses!
Then on to the meat chickens which were in a box like structure that gets moved around the pasture everyday allowing the birds to have fresh grass and scratch the metal box had a large blue tarp over top to keep the awful FL heat from hurting them.

Next it was time to see the cattle/sheep/and goats! We walked over wild blackberries, cow patties where you could see worms have already started devouring, and through knee high grasses.. this is the life! My grandma wasn't enjoying it quite as much and is so the green acres theme song! Once we got close the goats rushed over and the cattle looked excited. The owners had brought treats for us to feed them! Brooke tried so hard to feed the cow but didn't understand to keep her hand there when the cow went to take it so my grandma fed them getting licked in the process while Brooke and I pet them. The sheep kept their distance munching grass and other weeds in the field. The goats though came right over and Brooke got to pet them as well she LOVED it and didn't want to go!
We walked back to the house passing a little garden where sweet corn and some winter squash was growing. When we got there we did some talking and he brought up a good point.. ever driven passed cows and they are in a field of neatly cut grass that maybe a inch or two tall??? Yea me 2 and that's how you know they are on grain feed.. in order to be grass fed that grass will have to be tall and thick for the cows to be able to eat and live off it!!!

At the ranch they use all natural methods but like a lot of small farmers cannot afford the "organic" license, fine by me as long as they continue to use organic/natural methods.
Life is a beautiful circle which modern agriculture has ruined and this farm is bringing it back!!!

Congrats Kuntzelman Family!

Here is their price list:
(Prices subject to change please call them for current prices)
Chicken:

Boneless Skinless breast ~ $8/lb
Wings ~ $5/lb
Whole Chicken ~ $3/lb
Pasture Fresh Eggs ~ $3.50/dz

Lamb:
Lamb Chop - $10/lb
Leg Chop - $9/lb
Whole Leg of Lamb - $9/lb
Leg Roast - $7/lb
Shoulder Roast - $6.50/lb
Split Rack of Ribs - $8/lb
Ground Lamb - $7.50/lb
Bone in Stew Meat - $5/lb

Beef:
Ground Beef: $6/lb (over 10 pounds price drops)

And a brief summary right from the owners themselves:

We came to farm after we decided to "opt out" of the conventional food system. We wanted to produce the healthiest and best tasting food on the planet for our family and then we decided we wanted to provide it for others too! We are still very small but the demand for our products if huge. However we are growing slowly so that we don't compromise quality just to get bigger.

Beef/Lamb - From birth to death our cattle and sheep eat nothing but grass and/or hay when the grass isn't growing. We provide them with an organic mineral supplement and move them to a fresh salad bar of grass daily.

Chicken - We raise our chickens on pasture in floorless pens that provide protection from predators and elements. In addition to grass and bugs they get a locally milled grain ration.

Eggs - Our hens rotate behind the cattle and sheep to scratch though the cow pies and eat fly larvae and parasites that can hurt the cows the next time they come into that pasture. In addition to bugs and grass they also get a locally milled grain ration.






Saturday, July 2, 2011

What a great start to July!

Oh friends do I have things to share!
First of all,
Those flower seeds i scattered last weekend? SPROUTED!!! I'm so happy and hope more continue to sprout and grow into big beautiful flowers!

This morning my grandma, Brooke and I made a trip to Sunset Ranch (which will be making the eat local spotlight this weekend!!!) We picked up pasture raised, grass fed meat! Ground Beef, Lamb Chops, Whole Chicken and chicken wings! We met some cows where Brooke loved petting them and my Grandma got licked! : ) We also got to see some goats (Brooke pet those 2) and some sheep!

After the Ranch we made a trip to Parksdale farms where we have not been since my Great Grandmother passed away and I was a little girl. We enjoyed their famous fresh strawberry milkshake while Brooke had ice cream then shopped. Man did we shop, Little wood baskets perfect for everything from storing items to harvesting, LOTS of fruits and veggies, and plants! I got my friend Jennifer over at Gardening for Newbies a holly plant which she has really been wanting, I got myself 2 raspberry plants, 1 blueberry, and star jasmine which has such a wonderful sweet smell!

On top of all this wonderful news and adventures today I have started my 9 day vacation where I plan on potty training my daughter, Planting all my new plants, weeding, painting the shed, and laying down bricks around the bush and bird bath!!