Monday, November 29, 2010

Peppermint Discourages Mice in walls

Today, I recieved my "Mother Earth News" magazine in the mail. I absolutely love this magazine. After admiring the recipe for sliced bread. I found a short  article written by Norm Noe from Vancourver, washington. If you have the December 2010 / January 2011 magazine, look on page 53.

Here is what Norm says about peppermint and mice.

Peppermint Discourages Mice in Walls
I live in 102-year-old house, on a small acreage, which helps explain why I had a problem with mice in the walls. (It sounded like they were having a party in there!) The young lady that works where I shop said she had heard from her grandma that all you need are peppermint-soaked cotton balls scattered about, and mice will split!
  So I placed small, peppermint-soaked cotton balls all around the kitchen. I unscrewed two wall plugs and carefully slipped some in behind the sockets and, like magic, no more sounds of mice. Twenty-four hours later, no sign of the mice at all.

We do not have a problem where I live yet. If anyone trys the peppermint-soaked cotton balls to get rid of their mice problem, please, leave a comment with your experience with it! I am very curious about this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Homespun Yarn - Strawberry Shortcake

Hello world! over the last couple of days, I have been working with my spinning wheel. I recieved my spinning wheel for my birthday in june (2010). In the beginning I was defeted. I struggled with consistancy, drafting, getting the yarn to go to the bobbin, ect. Hours and hours of working on the wheel, I am FINALLY starting to make strings that actually resemble yarn! I am a perfectionist. So I want to continue to work with it to master it. Only time will sharpen my skills. I am actually pretty proud of my pink yarn (which is now known as Strawberry shortcake). I spun a total of 158 yards of worsted weight yarn.  The fiber in which I am spinning is Corriedale sheep wool. This wool was what came with my spinning wheel purchase. This was also my first attempt with plying (still have a lot of work to do to perfect it). So to you spinners out there that make beautiful yarn, please dont be too critical of my -not even close to a masterpiece- yarn. I hand dyed this yarn on my stove as well. here are the photos of the process.

Enjoy the photos!

Here are Corriedale Sheep wearing the little coats that keep their wool clean.  If you don’t have these coats on your Corriedales the wool gets stinking filthy!

My Kromski Minstrel Spinning wheel aka Penelope. Down towards the bottom you can see the full bobbin, and I am working on the bobbin to ply with.

A full bobbin of yarn.

Here is a photo of 158 yards of plyed yarn being dyed (approx 1 tsp of dye simmered for aprox 30min)

Yarn is taking the color very well! So happy with the result!

The yarn after dying and rinsing the yarn. Ready to dry now.

Close up of my perfect imperfections.

Hung to dry! Not sure what to make with it yet, But i have my eye on a pair of mittens. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, OH MY!

Today, I went to walmart and found some "Pie Pumpkins" that were produced in the USA *Yay!*. They were for 50 cents a pound. I purchased five of them. Not sure how many I am going to need to make the pie but I will let you know!

I am writing this blog as I make Roasted pumpkin seeds and Pumpkin pie!

I carved Jack-o-lanterns today, with my kids. My four year old assisted me in the annoying chore of separating the seeds from the core of the pumpkin. We finished with about two cups of seeds.

I have now drained the seeds, and spread them in one layer on a baking sheet. Here is a photo of the seeds getting nice and roasty inside of my oven! 

Pumpkin seeds are now finished! I have them cooling on the counter. Here is a photo of the finished product!

Now that the pumpkin seeds are cooling, I am going to finish putting away and washing the never ending dishes! Then I will start the pumpkin pie. Crust and pie all from scratch! I will also be sharing more recipe's!

Now onto the pumpkin pie!!!! It is best to use "Pie Pumpkins" Due to the pie pumpkins are sweeter and more suitable for pies.

I took one pie pumpkin, removed the stem, and cut it in half.

I then took an icecream scoop and scooped out the insides.

I am short on microwaveable bowls with lids. so here is my version. A glass mixing bowl with a ceramic plate... hey, it works!
I took the pumpkin and cut it in half again so i have 4 quarters. I cut it again so the pumpkin fits nicely inside of the bowl. I added a couple inches of water in the bottom of the bowl and put it in the microwave for 15 min. Here is a photo of my bowl concotion in the microwave.

Wooo weee, The pumpkin was hot!!!! Your probly thinking... DUH! HA! I just have to laugh at myself sometimes.

When I pulled the pumpkin out of the microwave and lifted up the plate (lid) the lid was boiling steam on it. I picked at the crust a little and the curst (skin) just peeled right off!

Being very careful, I used a serving spoon and scooped the pumpkin out of its skin and into my food processor.

I then put the food processor on high and ended up with my "pumpkin gloop"

Wow, That was easy enough! This is just one "Pie pumpkin"

Next is to make a single pie crust. The recipe I am using can be found by clicking here!

I then mixed together the following ingredients!

1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

one half teaspoon ground ginger

4 large eggs

3 cups pumpkin goo "sieved, cooked pumpkin"

1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk  ~ note for those in France: evaporated milk in France is called "lait concentre'"; "lait evapore'" is powder)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional) (metric: 20 grams)

After mixing the ingredients, I ended up with this :)

Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

The first 15 min has passed, Since the temperture drops anyways, I lowered the temp, Opened the door, snapped a photo, then shut the door again. Here is the photo after 15 min.

Well, I wanted to make a nice presentation of the final product... But as you can see from the next picture, my husband was too impatient to wait for the pie to set up, I was trying to take a photo of it right out of the oven and he wanted to cut himself a piece of it. Half of the pie is already gone and it just came from the oven about 30 min ago.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Pancakes

Like Apples? Like cinnamon? Like Pancakes?

Then I have a perfect recipe for you. I started making this recipe in high school. I just started throwing ingredients together. Then I received more and more requests for the recipe by guests. So I did the hardest thing in the world... writing it down. You wouldn't think it would be hard, but when you didn't measure things you went by looks and smells, it was kinda hard. So I finally took a day and measured everything out. This was about a year ago. Now everyone requests the recipe so they can make it themselves. Here is the recipe just for you!


2 medium apples (peeled cored and diced)
2 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups of milk
1/2 cup of melted butter
pancake syrup


~On the stovetop, combine the apples, lemon juice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, on medium heat until apples are nice and tender.
~meanwhile, In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, Combine the egg, milk and Butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
~Once batter is combined, Remove the apples from the heat and stir them into the batter.
~Pour batter by 1/4 cupful onto a greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes; cook until the second side is golden brown.

Yields approx 16 pancakes
Yield: serves 8


I have found that making large quantities of these pancakes Makes for a quick breakfast any time of the week. These pancakes freeze well and microwave just as well.
I would love to hear your comments about the recipe! Thanks!

Composting Bananza!

What is Compost?
com·post   /ˈkɒmpoʊst/


1. a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.
2. a composition; compound.

But I hear of people using kitchen scraps, do I just just throw leftovers in a bucket?


It is a little bit more complex than that.

First things first you need a composting bin. If you have the finances, you may spend a hundred dollars or two on a factory made one. BUT If you are like me, I like to save mulah (money).

I found a site with step by step photos on making your own compost bin out of a trashcan! (I am so doing this!)

Click here for the site!

Compost able items -

'Greens' or nitrogen rich ingredients

Urine (diluted with water 20:1)
dead leaves
Grass cuttings

~Other green materials

Raw vegetable peelings from your kitchen
Tea bags and leaves, coffee grounds
Young green weed growth � avoid weeds with seeds
Soft green prunings
Animal manure from herbivores eg cows and horses
Poultry manure and bedding

'Browns' or carbon rich ingredients - slow to rot

Cardboard eg. cereal packets and egg boxes
Waste paper and junk mail, including shredded confidential waste
Cardboard tubes
Glossy magazines � although it is better for the environment to pass them on to your local doctors� or dentists' surgery or send them for recycling
Newspaper � although it is better for the environment to send your newspapers for recycling
Bedding from vegetarian pets eg rabbits, guinea pigs � hay, straw, shredded paper, wood shavings
Tough hedge clippings
Woody prunings
Old bedding plants
Wood shavings
Fallen leaves can be composted but the best use of them is to make leafmould

Other compostable items
Wood ash, in moderation
Hair, nail clippings
Egg shells (crushed)
Natural fibres eg. 100% wool or cotton

Do NOT compost
Cooked food
Coal & coke ash
Cat litter
Dog faeces
Disposable diapers

Now onto the composting process! Away we goooo!

You can make compost by adding compostable items to a compost heap when you feel like it. It will all compost eventually but will take FOREVER mix is unbalanced, and may not produce a the best compost in the end. With a little extra attention you could improve your compost.

I did find a website that talks about two spicific ways to do compost. website can be found by clicking here.

They use a hot and cold method.

The Cool Routine -

1.Try, if possible, to collect enough compost materials to make a layer of at least 30cm or more in the compost bin. Weed the garden, mow the lawn, empty the kitchen bucket! Mix in some straw, woody prunings, scrunched up cardboard packaging eg cereal boxes � this helps create air spaces within the heap. It may help if you place a few woody plant stems or small twigs on the bottom first as this will improve the air circulation and drainage.

2.Continue to fill the container as and when you have ingredients. If most of what you compost is kitchen waste, mix it with egg boxes, toilet roll middles and similar household paper and cardboard products to create a better balance.

3.When the container is full - which it may never be as the contents will sink as it composts - or when you decide to, stop adding any more. Then either just leave it to finish composting (which could take up to a year) or go to Step 4.

4.Remove the container from the material, or the material from the container � whichever you find easiest. If the lower layers have composted, use this on the garden. Mix everything else together well. Add water if it is dry, or add dry material if it is soggy. Replace in the bin and leave to mature.

The Hot Routine -

1.Gather enough material to fill your compost container at one go. Some of this may have been stored in a cool heap and have started to rot slightly. Make sure you have a mixture of soft and tough materials.

2.Chop up tough items using shears, a sharp spade (lay items out on soil or grass to avoid jarring) or a shredder.

3.Mix ingredients together as much as possible before adding to the container. In particular, mix items, such as grass mowings and any shredded paper, which tend to settle and exclude air, with more open items that tend to dry out. Fill the container as above, watering as you go.

4.Give the heap a good mixWithin a few days, the heap is likely to get hot to the touch. When it begins to cool down, or a week or two later, turn the heap. Remove everything from the container or lift the container off and mix it all up, trying to get the outside to the inside. Add water if it is dry, or dry material if it is soggy. Replace in the bin.

5.The heap may well heat up again; the new supply of air you have mixed in allows the fast acting aerobic microbes, ie those that need oxygen, to continue with their work. Step 4 can be repeated several more times if you have the energy, but the heating will be less and less. When it no longer heats up again, leave it undisturbed to finish composting.

When is it ready?

Compost can be made in as little as six to eight weeks, or, more usually, it can take a year or more. In general, the more effort you put in, the quicker you will get compost.

When the ingredients you have put in your container have turned into a dark brown, earthy smelling material, the composting process is complete. It is then best left for a month or two to 'mature' before it is used. Don't worry if your compost is not fine and crumbly. Even if it is lumpy, sticky or stringy, with bits of twig and eggshell still obvious, it is quite usable. Any large bits can be added back into your new compost heap.

I hope this blog answers any of your composting questions!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Art of Wiggly Crochet

Wiggly Crochet, What the heck is it?

It is a technique used to add a 3-dementional wiggle or lace to any project. It is usually performed by making a basic filet crochet mesh as a separate piece and put a series of Double crochet on each side of the boxes that are made in the mesh.

This mesh was made by Chaining 62, dc 8th ch from hook (counts as first open mesh), [ch2, sk next 2 chs, dc in next ch] 18 times, turn. (19 open mesh)

I have done two wiggly crochet hotpads designed by Susan Lowman.
The first one i am going to show you can be found by clicking here, it is the Watermelon Hot-pad.
The seccond one I am going to show you can be found by clicking here, It is the Fall Leaf Hot-pad
Here is a youtube video that demonstrates how to perform the stitch.

I hope I answered any questions you may have about Wiggly crochet aka, the wave stitch.