Friday, July 22, 2011

Lest you think I’ve become a slacker…

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I know, I know. I up and disappeared on you. Sorry about that. It simply couldn’t be helped. My husband has spent a lot of time out of town over the past several months helping with the storm cleanup and repairs. Sometimes a mama just has to prioritize to get the important stuff done.

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Like oven-drying figs…

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These babies are divine!

(They’ll keep for up to a week at room temperature, and for a month or so in the fridge. Remove stems, halve, and dry in the oven on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 12-24 hours or until they reach desired doneness. Use your lowest oven setting – mine is 170 degrees.)

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Apple and pear picking…

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And, of course, canning.

(Fig preserves and spiced applesauce.)

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Making fresh homemade pico de gallo (heavy on the onions and jalapeƱos) is a given for us.

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And check out this Hill Country Red Okra that I just picked this morning.

Gorgeous. I know what’s for dinner tonight.

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And lest you think my work is done… Not even close!

But, I missed you guys.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Checking in…

I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers you’ve sent our way in light of the awful weather event that occurred in Alabama (and elsewhere in the South) last night. There are no words for something like this. We’re fortunate that the most severe storms stayed slightly to the north of us. It was absolutely horrifying to watch it all unfold last night knowing that many friends and loved ones were in harm’s way, and that at any moment it could happen to us, too. We live just outside of Montgomery, Alabama. The county directly north of ours, Elmore County, was hit particularly hard. My husband is (at this moment) taking part in the search and recovery effort. The death toll is absolutely staggering. I type this message with tears and humbly ask for your continued prayers throughout this ordeal. I can’t even wrap my mind around the devastation that has occurred. In Tuscaloosa, in Birmingham, in Cullman, and the list goes on and on. Entire city blocks with buildings and homes have been completely leveled.  We have friends who have lost homes, but fortunately, no confirmed deaths among anyone that we know at this point.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Phillipians 4:6-7

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The BEST Gluten Free Sandwich Bread EVER!

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If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I discovered last year that cutting gluten from my diet helped tremendously with my Crohn’s symptoms. You also know that I tried and tried to find a suitable gluten free sandwich loaf and was disappointed time and time again. My loaves were passable, but they weren’t great. They were either too crumbly or too gummy, or they had that off-flavor which characterizes so many gluten free breads. I’ve done my share of whining about the cost of store-bought gluten free sandwich loaves, and what’s worse, these loaves were not wonderful either. Far from it. We even did sourdough for a while, but I found that it sometimes gave me trouble. 

I am so happy to tell you that I stumbled upon a recipe for the most delicious and versatile gluten free bread dough. We’ve made loaves for sandwiches with this dough. We’ve made pizza. (Yes, very good pizza!) This bread pairs well with a bowl of soup or stew. It would make fabulous buns for burgers or hot dogs. Cinnamon rolls are next up on the agenda. You can even roll it thin for crackers. You see, this dough isn’t like all the others I’ve tried. It’s not runny like cake batter. It’s dough. You can shape it. And it’s absolutely delicious! There’s nothing about this dough that screams gluten free. It’s incredibly crusty on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside (without being gummy). It reminds me of a nice loaf of Italian bread. My kids are begging me for a piece of this bread every time they think about it. The best part? You can mix up 4 loaves of this bread and store it in the refrigerator (for up to 5 days) until you’re ready for it. Hallelujah! We now have good bread again folks. And it costs me roughly $1 per loaf to make. I had to share it with you.

For me, the sad part is that I’ve owned this cookbook for quite a while. I bought it before we were eating gluten free. I used it for whole wheat bread and didn’t give the book a second thought when we switched to gluten free. I wish I had. There’s no telling how much money and time I’d have saved. Store-bought gluten free loaves are a thing of the past for this family. This is the only recipe I’ll ever need. No more failed attempts!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The farmhouse kitchen table

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I adore this farmhouse kitchen table. We’ve actually owned this table for almost ten years, but were unable to fully utilize it until we moved to the homestead 2 years ago. The ends of the table are actually comprised of 2 leaves which spent the majority of their lives in storage. The moment we walked through that front door I fell in love with this room because I knew it would hold my beloved table in it’s entirety. This baby seats 12 and is a dream to have when entertaining (which we do regularly – wouldn’t you with that huge inviting table?)

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This house is pretty well suited for entertaining guests. I love that the kitchen is open to both the living room and the dining room. That probably has something to do with why I spend so much time in my kitchen. It’s always right there beckoning me. And I never feel left out of what the others are doing when I’m in there. I can see everybody from my workspace.

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This is the view from the kitchen open to the living room. The dining room is separated from the living room by the staircase. Beneath the staircase is a nice pantry that for the life of me I can’t figure out how I ever lived without it. These rooms are connected by a loop which goes from the front door all the way around and back to the front door on the other side. That loop has made for some interesting games of tag on rainy days. We love it here. I feel truly blessed and thank God for bringing us to this place. If you would like to see the house as it was before we started renovating, you can click here and here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Upstairs Renovation: Kids rooms & Playroom

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I always enjoy seeing other people’s remodeling projects, and I thought you might like to see our latest completion. Remember this trip when we left the project in full swing? Well, we actually finished the renovation just after Christmas. I just never got around to posting pictures. And since I’m still mending, I haven’t got anything else to do today. ; )

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Before the renovation, the upstairs was actually a huge master suite. It was a wonderful space. You can see the before shots here if you scroll down through my old sewing posts. My sewing machine was parked in front of those gorgeous windows in Sara Lynn’s room.

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You may be wondering what would make a person be willing to give up such a wonderful space. One word: STAIRS. My bones need all the TLC they can get these days. And the kids aren’t complaining about the swap one bit. Everyone’s happy with their rooms now.

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Every piece of furniture in both of these rooms came from estate sales, yard sales, or flea markets. I much prefer the character and craftsmanship in older pieces. And the money I save buying things secondhand is a nice bonus. But mostly, thrifting is just plain fun. It just takes a little patience waiting to find the right piece at the right price.

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Daniel’s bedding came from TJ Maxx on clearance and Sara Lynn’s came from an estate sale. It looks brand new and was obviously barely used on someone’s guest bed. I still need to deal with the walls and windows in both of these rooms, but they are for the most part done. Whew!

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Are you familiar with Quercetti? Daniel received this gift for Christmas and he and all his friends love it.

It was just the right gift for a boy who feels he’s getting too old for toys but enjoys games and building things.

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This is the view of the playroom from Daniel’s bedroom door. It’s never this clean, which has a great deal to do with why I never posted pictures before.

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We have lots of books. (Mostly thrifted books). I can never seem to get enough of them, either for myself or the kidlets. We do use our local library frequently, but I don’t mind buying books either. Come to think of it, I can never have enough books, fabric, or seeds. Oh, and put a gardening book or crafting book in my hand and I’m in heaven!

With this remodel done, we have only the bathrooms left to tackle. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Living room & Kitchen

Dining room (I don’t have a decent shot of this room – how did that happen? This is the before shot. Basically all that changed in this room was the installation of wood floors. But I can’t wait to show you my farmhouse table that seats 12! Next post?)

Sewing studio (Did I mention that this was the garage in it’s previous life?)

And of coarse, the upstairs. I’d love to see what you’ve been up to around your house lately!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Homestead Revival–Giveaway: Keeping Bees

Head on over to Homestead Revival for a chance to win this fabulous book.

(It still hurts to type, so I won’t be doing much of it right now. But, I’m on the mend!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alive, but not (yet) kicking

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I just wanted to pop in and let you know that my surgery went as planned. No major complications.

I now have part of my right hip bone residing in my neck (an odd thought, for sure) and I’m taking it easy praying that the bones mend properly this time. And that they mend sooner rather than later.

Your well wishes and prayers have been most appreciated! Please keep them coming.