Honeycrisp Apple

Today, I have been home sick.  Lots of sleeping, and watching several documentaries about food on Netflix.  There are so many and they range from disheartening to terrifying.

About a year ago I significantly reduced the amount of wheat I eat and added a lot more rice, mostly organic.  Now, there is a report about arsenic in rice,  even organic rice.  What next?  What food can you trust anymore?

We’ll work harder at growing more of our own.  We just planted our fall-winter crops and put cold frames over some of the squash in hopes of bringing a few to edible size.   If you have a Vitamix, you can take almost any greens from the garden, add a few things and make a soup.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

The fruit triumph:  This photo represents the complete harvest from the Honeycrisp apple tree this year.  One apple but it’s perfect!

I can’t really save money on couponing because so many of the coupons are for proccessed foods, the kind of foods we are trying to reduce our consumption of.   I do trust the Bob’s Red Mill company and buy a fair amount of their products.  I came upon a great deal through Vitacost.  I had never heard of  Vitacost before but the offer of $10.00 off on my first order got my attention.   They carry a lot of brands, foods and supplements.  Bob’s was the only brand I ordered this time.    Their prices are already discounted significantly from the grocery stores and the $10.00 off just sweetened the deal, so I ordered.  In less than a week, the pantry was refilled with rice flour, gluten-free pancake mix and more.

I’m sharing that link here.   If you do order, I would really appreciate it if you go thru this link.  (They throw a little my way for the referral.)    It’s really a great deal!  I will certainly order from them again, probably quite regularly.


Give it a try!


CHEESE MAKING – Inspired by a wonderful GARDENING & COOKING blog

A Favorite blog of mine originates in the same general area where I live, the Pacific Northwest part the of the evergreen state, Washington.

Check out NWEdible life http://www.nwedible.com/  Blogger Erica is a chef, homemaker, gardener and extremely entertaining writer.  She has inspired my gardening and cooking.  She gives advise on growing your own food and how to cook it in ways that are creative and delicious.  I starting to follow her blog when I realized that OMG… I’m growing food that I’ve never enjoyed eating and cooking before, like kale and brussel sprouts, but I can’t let this bounty go to waste so I started looking for recipe inspiration…. what I found this time wasn’t what I was looking for but WOW is it wonderful.  There will be time for brussel sprout recipes later……  hmmmm…. I wonder how Lemon Ricotta and mint would taste on brussel sprouts???

This photo and the link is from her blog, check it out.  It’s great.

This is the photo that drew me in.


I tried the cheese making part of this recipe.  It required patience but turned out great!     I put it on crackers and topped it with raspberries that I had picked and frozen this summer.  YUM!

Thanks Erica,  for a great recipe, a way to use a few sprigs of the mint that grows so well in the herb garden and for a reason to learn something new.  Cheesemaking, another skill in the journey toward increased self-reliance.  The photo is so appetizing, more like art than food!  I will make this cheese again and serve it with the figs.   I will make it for guests, I will take it to parties.   We will enjoy it at home ‘just because’.

Where Erica gardens is a zone warmer and several weeks ahead of where we are.  I’m incredibly jealous of the figs she can grow.  We tried a fig tree but our single digit temperatures in the winter caused the tree to die back more than was reasonable.  It’s gone now and in its place is the columnar apple.   The apple is doing great and doesn’t mind the cold winters.

PS:  check out Erica’s jam and jelly recipes.  There are some really amazing combinations.  Far from the ordinary!  http://www.nwedible.com/2012/08/create-your-own-signature-jam-by-mixing-and-matching-flavors.html


Hens on alert!

This morning the hens were all clucking loudly, standing on the perch, standing at attention and staring at the woods.   Hmmmmmm…. something was out there.  We didn’t see it but they did.

So…. I put the wildlife camera on the wire wall of their fortress.  They are not allowed to free-range because of the vast number of predators we have around here.

– for more info about the chicken fortress – check out this post: https://ourhomeinthewoods.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/the-new-improved-chicken-coop-fortress-tour/

– for more info about the wildlife camera – check out this post:  https://ourhomeinthewoods.wordpress.com/category/wildlife-photos/

I’ll leave it there for a few days, then I’ll see the back yard and the woods from their point of view.   Was it a weasel, racoon, coyote, bobcat, cougar, bear or just the neighbors dog again?


Hosta ‘Fragrant Bouquet’

HOSTAS – Easy to Grow, Lots of Variety!


hosta ‘fragrant bouquet’

They come in an amazing array of colors, patterns & sizes.  This variety is not only a beautiful color and impresive size but has the addition feature of the wonderful fragrance of the flower!

I’ve been growing them for about 20 years.  When we moved out to our home in the woods, where there are huge shady areas, we have really increased the number of varieties as well as the number of plants.

What they need:

Partial (early morning or very late afternoon sun) to bright shade.  Hint:  keep the blue varieties out of direct sun, it causes the waxy coating that is the blue color to melt away.  Ours are in moist soil most of the time, not soggy, but moist.  They are very cold hardy.

Use them in pots or in the ground.  They are impressive in large clumps, borders or alone.

Pests; these can be a favorite of slugs in very damp weather,  I have also had problems with deer, elk and rabbits.   I will throw a light net over the top from time to time to discourage them.

I have enjoyed hosta’s so much that I’m considering starting a chapter of the national Hosta organization for my area.  Does anyone have any experience doing this?  I would love to get some ideas….

Add some hosta’s to your garden, Have some fun!


The Newest Re-Cycle Treasure – Bat House

I found this great bat house for $6.00 at a garage sale. It was never used. It was purchased at a bat conservation fundraiser for about $70.00. It had been hanging out in a damp garage for a few years. It needed some TLC. I brought it home and my husband took it to his shop, sealed the cracks, tightened the joints and primed and painted it the color of the house. One week later it’s hanging proudly on the sunny south side of the house, lookin’ great!


We should all be attracting bats our gardens!

Some bat facts from Bats Northwest:

What are bats good for? Lots!!!

From Bats Northwest website:

Bats are a vital part of the ecosystems in which they live. Many are considered “keystone species” because so many other plants and animals depend on them for survival. In each ecosystem that bats inhabit, they play an important part. Fruit-eating bats disperse the seeds of plants critical to habitats such as the deserts of the American Southwest and tropical rainforests. They are increasingly important in natural reforestation of cleared or burned areas. Nectar-eating bats pollinate many important plants, in some cases being the only pollinators. Insect-eating bats eat literally tons of insects every night. If we didn’t have this natural pest control, we would be overrun with night-flying insects such as moths, beetles, flies and mosquitoes. Bats are important for what they provide as well as what they eat. Bat guano or droppings are one of the world’s best fertilizers. And bat guano is also a major source of nutriments for the other life in some cave systems. We can thank bats for healthier crops and healthier people, for being major contributors to such ecosystems as rainforests, deserts, and cave systems, and for providing numerous items of use to humans such as balsa wood, mangos, carob, figs, tequila, cashews, guavas, bananas, rope fibers and fertilizer.

See……. Bats are great!


Ever Wonder Who Visits Your Yard? FIND OUT…

black bear broke into the pen and now is breaking into the chicken coop to steal grain

this bobcat tore the top netting off and ate 11 chickens!
neighbors dog came over to leave ‘deposits’ in our yard 😦 bad dog!
black bear broke into the chicken pen
cougar in the front yard

When you live in the woods, you’re never really alone.   You may not see ‘anyone’ when you look around,   But even if you don’t see them,  ‘they’ are there.  You often sence their presence.   ‘they’ could be in the trees, in the woods or in the ground.  You may catch some  movement out of the corner of your eye,  or hear a sound, maybe just a hint of movement.  You may not see or hear anything but the hair on the back of your neck stands up.

We have learned a lot about who visits our yard by installing a wildlife trail camera.  Though these aren’t commonly used by gardeners, these are a common tool of  hunters.  We bought ours at Cabellas for under $200.  It stores info on an SD card that you buy.

deer passing through the back yard

We have seen deer, elk, coyotes, bobcats, bears, the neighbors dog and most recently a cougar.   It also captured a strange car that came down to the house one day.

There are a variety of features.  An Internet search for trail cams will  bring up lots of options.   Ours is a Bushnell.   It’s worked very well for 2 1/2 years so far.  We’re going to buy another and use both, one in the front and one in back yard.

Ours will take stills or video.  It is motion activated.   It takes  color by day and the infra-red takes black & white photos by night.  I change the eight aa batteries about once a year whether they need it or not.

strange car that came down our driveway???????

It’s a great way to find out what might be in your yard.   Maybe one day some I’ll be posting a photo of big foot, or maybe not.  In the mean time, enjoy some of the photos the camera has captured in our yard.   It is interesting for security also, although after the fact.