Spruce Goose

I am attempting to spruce up the blog today. Making it pretty. (Making it easier to read) and to see! My Mom is here visiting. She is going to watch the boys while Mr Darcy and I go to a conference. We get to spend some time together first, though. I love it.

Right now, she’s across the room talking about art with my middle son. They are going to do pastels and paint while I am gone. He has been so excited about this. He got out all of his art supplies in anticipation.

So, what would you like to see on this blog? What would make it easier to see? What is missing?

Do tell.

~Janna

ps – I added a subscription button. I know – fancypants

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Janna and the terrible, no-good, awful, horrible day

I should be happy today.

Today, I finally got to put my family room back in order. The week of Thanksgiving, we sprung a leak in the boys’ bathroom shower. It leaked through the ceiling in the family.

The repair was finally finished YESTERDAY. I know, you’re doing the math in your head right now and saying, “WHAT? That’s 11 WEEKS!!”  Yes. I am aware of that.

This morning, I vacuumed while my Roomba worked her tail feathers off. I made the boys help me move couch, chairs, tables, piano, rug and more chairs back to their original locations. I steam cleaned. I vacuumed some more. I was happy. My family room was back in business. No more piano at the front door. What’s more, the boys are no longer sharing a shower with us. Nothing says fun like having your boys use your special, curly-haired, fancy conditioner…

But I am not. I am mad. I am getting upset over the least little thing and I am about to cry.

What’s wrong with me?

Last night, I cooked a whole chicken my Christmas-gift pressure cooker. I probably won’t do that again, because it was mushy. However, after we ate the chicken that we wanted to, I took the rest of the meat off the bone (I hate that job) and then placed the rest in my stockpot with a teaspoon of vinegar. I even used my meat cleaver to chop the bones so the marrow would escape. I was so Nourishing Traditions.  After bringing it to the boil, I let it simmer away for hours. I was going to let it simmer all night long, but that idea scared me so I transferred the whole thing to the crockpot and let it do what it does best all night long. (Now, if you aren’t singing Lionel Richie’s All Night Long by now, I don’t know what’s wrong with you!)

Just about 30 minutes ago, I carefully strained every last piece of whathaveyou out of the crockpot (it took longer than I thought with the broken bones) and turned off the crockpot so it could cool and I could remove that layer of fat that settles on top.  You see, I have big, big plans for that stock tonight. Or, I did. I was going to introduce my family to Matzo Ball Soup.

When we lived in California in the 80’s, most of my classmates were Jewish. I was able to spend time at their houses, at their grandparent’s houses as well as go to Passover and many, many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I am so thankful to have these experiences in my memory bank. At one house, I was able to try Matzo Ball soup for the first time. YUM!  Now, I am bought a Manischewitz box mix, but my plans were to just use the matzo ball mix inside. We were going to have this amazing family moment. It was going to be epic. My oldest would write about it on facebook and we would be the coolest people on the block. Mmm hmmm….

While getting out our other leftovers for lunch, I started looking for my chicken. No where. I asked my three precious angels. They didn’t know where it could be. “Maybe Dad took it” said one. I called Mr. Darcy. He did not take the chicken. I searched the fridge like there were solid gold bars to be found in there. No chicken. I shut the door, then re-opened it as if something might change in my line of vision by that motion. No chicken. I searched the pantry (gross, I know, but I had to see) and the freezer (not there, either).

Our boys have rotating kitchen cleanup jobs. Every week, one loads the dishwasher while another handwashes while the other one puts the food away.  Or something like that. The only conclusion is that one of the boys threw the chicken (several cups worth) in the trash.

I was angry. Then sad. Then anger won. I resisted the urge to yell, but I did manage to let them know how I felt. UGH. I am still mad. They still don’t get it. I hate wastefulness. I also am not fond of knowing that they don’t really care that I am upset. In their minds, they are thinking, “wonder why Mom is so mad about leftovers. She didn’t get this way about the leftover rice…”

I should also take a moment to mention that the table clearer from breakfast threw out my cup of chai latte I was still working on. Grrrr.

I’m done complaining. I am going to gather my boys and read Hinds’ Feet on High Places and pretend the chicken debacle never occurred.  Then we’ll go to basketball practice. Then we’ll eat delicious, nourishing broth.

The end.

~Janna

preparedness – grinding grains

I wanted to let you know about a sweet giveaway contest for a Wondermill Junior Grainmill. You can find out the details on this page.  I would really like to win this myself as I have been looking for a hand-crank mill to use if we lose power. It kinda defeats the purpose of having 150 pounds of wheat if I can’t use it when we lose electricity!!  I love, love, love my Nutrimill for everyday use, but this would be a great starter mill for someone, or backup mill for those of us who have an electric mill. Here are some details from the Urban Homemaker site:

Product Details The Wonder Junior is the highest quality most versatile hand mill available at an affordable price.

Features Include:

  • The hopper is large and holds over one quart or 4 cups
  • Wonder Junior is one-piece construction so the hopper will not come off during use.
  • Heavy-duty patented double clamp
  • Attaches to tables or counters up to 2 inches thick
  • Clamp will  never move or loosen up like other hand grain mills on the market t
  • Uses extra large lifetime lubricated bearings
  • Heavy duty base can be bolted to any table or counter, if desired.
  • Stone heads are one-third thicker than other hand grain mills will give a lifetime of use
  • High-quality stainless steel burr heads are for milling wet or oily grains,  seeds, or coffee.
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

You can create super fine flour or coarse cracked grains for cereals.

By simply swapping the stone heads for the stainless steel burr heads you can make:

  • delicious peanut butter or other nut butters
  • grind flax or any other oily or wet grains
  • herbs and spices
  • soy beans
  • legumes
  • Fresh coffee.

Enter for yourself! Maybe one of my readers (or me) will win!

 

~Janna

Preparedness

What I am going to write about today might offend you. Please don’t let it. I am simply making an observation and saying we need to do better…

 

Because I make bread and mill my own wheat, I am constantly looking for improvements in both my products and the prices.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, but many of the websites associated with these topics are affiliated with the LDS faith.  I am not LDS. In fact, we are non-denominational Christians and my hubby happens to be a pastor. Now that I have given you that small background, I’m going to tell you: The LDS church does a GREAT job with preparedness. It’s not just something they kind-of believe in …they are serious about it. They are so serious, they have pantry and storage and canning centers all over the US. They have brochures and websites telling you what you should have and why to prepare yourself and your family and even your neighbors.

We are experiencing a freak icy weather time down here in South Texas. Many of my friends and family in North Texas are on day 4 or 5 of a winter storm that has caused them to lose power and be homebound because of the roads. There was panic at our grocery store – you could feel it. You could see it in the “emergency” Gatorade and Doritos that were being thrown in to shopping carts. 🙂 Most people I have spoken to in our old stomping grounds have run out of food and some are risking personal safety to get to a store.

What would we do if something major actually happened? How would we cope if we couldn’t get to the store or the stores weren’t opened? How would you and your family survive? I read a fictional book once where there was no power due to electromagnetic pulses. Fiction, but it really started me thinking.

Well, I want to get better at this. I don’t want to be crazy about it, but I do believe we can learn something from the LDS church. They recommend a 72-hour kit supply of some items, a 3- month supply of others and a year supply of even more. Why am I not doing this?

Here’s what I already do and where I am going to try to make improvements on:

Wheat: I buy this in 125-150 lb increments. I am about to get another order of 150 pounds. Most grains, when stored properly, will last for many, many, many years.  You can make breads, tortillas, rolls and even cereal with wheat.

Oats: Oat Groats don’t last quite as long as wheat will, but still are a great thing to have in your storage. You can run them through the blender or food processor to have steel-cut oats, or flake them for oatmeal or mill them for flour. Yum.  I am trying to order these from Azure Standard and convince my sister to pick that order up since Azure doesn’t yet deliver closer than 4.5 hours from me.

Powdered Milk: I almost always have a large box of this in my freezer. I am going to be honest: I won’t drink it. When we lived in Alaska in the 70’s, my Mom got on a powdered milk kick because regular milk was so expensive and now I can’t stand the taste of a glass of it. I am just recently okay with smelling it. However, I use it all the time in cooking and baking. In fact, last night I made delicious (and I mean DELICIOUS) potato and ham soup and used all powdered milk. You couldn’t tell at all. In an emergency, however, I am pretty sure I could drink it if I felt I needed it…

Beans: This is tricky ( and I am going to hope Mr Darcy doesn’t read this post) because my guys won’t eat beans. I suspect the boys would if they had never seen their Dad turn up his nose at them. I digress…I just used lentils in chili to increase the protein and was so thankful for my immersion blender. I pureed the tar out of those beans and it just made the chili so nice and thick. Yeah, for Mom! I am going to do more of this-cook beans on the sly, puree them and add them to things. More good protein for my boys. This kind of protein will come in handy as a meat replacement, if needed. I can also grind beans into flour. (Did you know you could do that?)

Canning: Okay, you know I am a novice at this, but I am on my way! The goal is to can lots of things so we have them when veggies (and fruit) are not in season and in case of emergency. Imagine if you had no power, but you could still open a jar of canned peaches to serve with your makeshift meal?

Pastas: I am going to try to purchase an extra box each time I shop for long-term storage. Yes, I could make my own pasta – and I have. I just don’t like to . There, I said it. It’s not fun. It’s a lot of work for something that’s pretty cheap to begin with.

First Aid Kit: okay, not technically food, but do you have a GOOD kit at your house? We do. In fact, I also keep one in the car and have used it many times. We were blessed by a big kit from my Mom one year and it really gave me peace of mind when we had our first hurricane come close. You can find them at Amazon.com as well as other places.

Water: Here is an area I need to make a huge improvement in: We do a poor job in storing any water. I have started doing some research in water filtration systems – do any of you know anything about Berkey Water Systems? Any of you out there have tips or info on water storage for me? 🙂

Finally, fuel: We own a camping stove and keep butane for it and are blessed with a natural gas grill. I don’t know anything about how the natural gas lines would hold up in a real emergency so I am going to have to do a little research on this as well. Mr Darcy and I have had an eye out for a generator as well. Unfortunately, we usually have that eye out during hurricane season…not the best time to be shopping for a good deal on one of those when EVERYONE is looking for one!

We live in an area where we could actually lose power during hurricane season. It’s happened as recently as last year in parts of our city and several years ago, many lost power for a week or more. I believe that my job as homemaker (aka: COO of our home) is to plan for this kind of thing as well as the regular operating procedures of our house. Big companies and small companies have an emergency plan – we should, too.

 

That’s all. Enjoy the winter weather, if you are getting it. Enjoy spending time together.

~Janna