Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cashew Muffins with Salted Caramel

Posted by Paulette

Well, I guess I am in the process of writing a gluten free recipe book. have you noticed there's been a lot of gluten free muffins lately. Not all of the things I try turn out so well. But a good indication of success is the disappearance factor. Add to that the fighting factor, and we've got our self a winner. This muffin had both.
 And I was accused of colluding with Satan in the invention of this muffin. 
I have to admit, it was pretty darn good.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cashew Muffins with Salted Caramel

2cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cashew bits
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Caramel sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt (for sprinkling over the top)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • prepare muffin tins with papers or nonstick spray
  • In a large bowl, mix together the first 8 ingredients.
  • In a small bowl mix together the vanilla, oil, eggs and milk.
  • Add to the larger bowl and mix until well incorporated.
  • Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  • While the muffins are baking, in a medium size pot, melt the butter.
  • Add the brown sugar to it and let simmer on medium high heat, until it comes to soft ball stage,. you can test by dropping small amounts of the candy into ice water. If it forms a ball, and doesn't melt back into the water, it's ready. If you let it get past this point, you will have a harder candy shell.
  • Spoon over the warm muffins, and sprinkle the salt lightly over the top.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Beginning of the End

Posted by Paulette

Somewhere around September 1st, I pull out the sewing machine and it doesn't get put away until after Christmas. It's either on my desk or on the floor somewhere near it. My bedroom is covered in fabrics. Either from my latest and last sewing projects or laundry, or both. Usually both. Scraps of paper litter the desk and the floor with measurements, drawings and patterns. The Halloween season has already started. It was kicked off with a dance last night for our church's youth.

Jonathan and Hyrum took it easy on me this year for their Halloween costumes. Jonny wore his clothes and I just had to do his hair and makeup. Hyrum found a black graduation robe from last year, and I used the bottom of a t-shirt that the gym gave to us, that was never worn, to make a hood, which I then sewed to the black robe. Make-up and a branch painted black, finished his look. 

 Hyrum's makeup is just the white creamy stuff you can get at Halloween, with black eye shadow around his eye sockets and on his lips. Black t-shirt and pants under the robe. The red eyes are happy accident with my photography skills. He doesn't have red contacts.

Jonny's costume is Jack Frost from the Rise of the Guardians.
Kakai pants with a hoodie. His hair was sprayed with white hairspray, and then dusted with tapioca starch. Makeup is my foundation mixed with the white cream makeup. Then light blue eye shadow around the eyes, with indigo liner, then dusted with a glittery pink eye shadow,  rosy cheeks and then the same liner was used around his lips and then a nude lipstick over the top, softened it and made him look cold. More of the glittery pink shadow over his whole face to make it look frosted. 

Then I sprayed his hoodie with a strong hairspray and dusted it with epsom salts to look like snow. Repeated until the "snow" stuck really well.  

 What I didn't do in sewing for these two, was more than made up for with the other kids, including two of my friend's children. I'll get pics of those later.

Back to the sewing machine with me. Oh, and of course some baking needs to be done. There's a bake sale at the Fall Festival at the kid's school tomorrow. I'll have to bake up some gluten free magic. I have a request for the pumpkin surprise muffins.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gluten Free taco Muffins

Posted by Paulette
Getting 5 kids ready for school, sometimes means, we grab our breakfast and head out the door to the car. Sometimes you want a meal to go. And sometimes you want something that's savory. I think these muffins fit the bill. 

Gluten Free Taco Muffins
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup organic corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic 
2 eggs
1 cup salsa
1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, for sprinkling on top

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare muffin tins with paper liners or non stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix first 8 ingredients.
  • Add in the eggs, salsa, black beans, and water and mix.
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups filling to 3/4 full.\
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Let's Talk Dirt

Posted by Paulette Burton

A few posts back, I showed my new compost system. It consists of fencing stakes and palettes. Nothing fancy, but it's getting the job done. 
Today, I took some pictures to show how our compost system is put together. It's not a permanent structure. The palettes can be lifted off and carted away, and the stakes can be removed, by watering the dirt and then wiggling them back and forth, before being yanked out.

Pay no attention to the man behind the screen

We tried for 10 years to compost using old trash barrels with holes drilled in them and the bottoms cut off. They stank, and grew flies. We got turned into the vector inspector and had to throw out all of the "compost" and get rid of the trash can method. This new method doesn't stink. It smells sweet. And it doesn't draw flies!
palette slid over the top of fencing stakes

In order to have healthy compost, you need water, air and the stuff you're composting.
We buried a bucket of kitchen scraps a week ago, and then left it. When we returned, I turned over the compost pile. Do you know what I found? Dirt, and egg shells and onion skins. No rotting vegetables! In three months, my compost will be ready to use in the garden. 
You can also fast track it. By adding a combination of Coke, beer, and ammonia, the compost will break down faster. The beneficial microbes that protect your plants from pests and illness will be killed off with this process. So add them back in by watering the compost with yogurt, buttermilk, sour dough starter or kombucha. 

The microbiology was explained to me this way:
You have good microbes and bad microbes. They can't live together.
Good microbes love oxygen. 
Bad microbes don't. 
You need good microbes to turn the garbage into dirt. The reason why our old composting system didn't work, was because it didn't get enough oxygen! It was close to impossible to turn it.   

There's also a layering method that works best. 
You need a layer of dirt, then garbage, or green waste, as it's called. This can include grass clippings, vegetation from the kitchen (never any animal products except egg shells or yogurt to increase good microbe growth.), and brown waste. This is the dried out stuff like leaves, straw, dried grass clippings, or even mulched wood. 

So to recap:
Brown Waste top
Green Waste middle
Dirt bottom

Repeat. When you have a good pile of the stuff, let it sit for a week, watering  every day, and then turn it once a week or two. 
In the layering step, you are introducing the microbes to the party. They get to know each other and kinda figure out where they are, and then the start EATING! And the waste they leave behind is dirt. Wonderful, nutrient rich, dirt.  
If you were to reach you hand into the pile, you would feel heat. They're moving around. If the pile gets cold, give them more oxygen, by turning the pile. 
Now you know how compost happens.  

Instead of having a 3 pile system like mine, you may prefer to garden in your compost. Some people make a compost pile where they intend to garden, moving all around the yard, making new piles as needed. Three months from the time you stop adding to your pile, and let it rest, still watering and turning, you'll have a bed ready to plant in.

There are also systems that involve a rotating barrel. Check out my Yard Stuff Board on Pinterest for lots of great ideas.

Until next time, may your knees be dirty, you have grime under your fingernails, your plants grow healthy, and your compost not stink!

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Posted by Paulette

I love Fall. The weather gets cooler, the kids go back to school and i start preparing for the Holidays.
On our trip to Utah, the kids got to pick pumpkins from their Aunt Amy's pumpkin patch. One of those pumpkins was cut open that night and half of it was made into a delicious pumpkin soup. The other half came home in our ice chest.

This week, I put it into the microwave and cooked it until it was nice and soft. Usually I roast pumpkin in the oven, and it gets the additional caramelization which add so much more flavor to a dish. I didn't do it this time because we had early dinner appointment and I just had to get it done!

Today I pulled out the remaining pumpkin puree and made some pumpkin spice muffins.

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup almond milk

  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners or nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients and mix.
  • In a small bowl combine the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk. Whisk.
  • Add to the larger bowl of dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  • Fill muffin tins to 3/4 full.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall in Utah

Posted by Paulette

We're pretty lucky in Arizona. Our kids get a one week break from school in the fall. Maybe this is because we've been so miserable all summer long in the 100+ degree temps and we are given the opportunity to go somewhere else and experience fall. It does get cooler here. It's now in the 80s during the day. Not cold enough for the leaves to turn, but a welcome change, for sure!

This year we decided to go to Utah and visit some of Dave's family. luckily, I also have a few friends who live there too. It was such a whirlwind visit.

Here are some highlights of our vacation.
 The route to Page UT was closed and so we had a beautiful scenic detour through the Grand Canyon. This picture was taken South of Lee's Ferry. There's a foot bridge across the Grand Canyon that's about 1/4 of a mile long. 

Looking down over the side of the bridge, David spotted this Condor.

That's the best picture I could get with my phone. It was so far away that it looked more like a buzzard.

Our first three days were spent at a Hotel in Orem. The kids enjoyed the pool and the computer room. I tool a little time off to paint the girl's faces with my eye shadows. Sometimes it's good to have lots of colors!

 Aunt Amy, David's sister, just younger than him, had a beautiful pumpkin patch, which she invited us over to enjoy harvesting her bounty. 
This wasn't even the largest of the pumpkins. There was one that took  men to move to the porch.

 Christopher turned out to be the best pumpkin picker.

 That night I made pumpkin soup for dinner, and then I roasted the seeds and made a caramel sauce for ice cream topping. I've never cut open a pumpkin this fresh. The seeds popped and attacked me!

 This is the view from my mother in law's kitchen window. each day I watched the mist on the mountain burn off as the sun rose into the sky. On this morning we had some look outs.

 Pretty fat quail keeping watch.

 While the rest of the family stuffs themselves with fallen sunflower seeds from the bird feeders above.

Kanab is the last city in Utah before we cross over into Arizona. We have a tradition of stopping at the 3 Bears Creamery for ice cream before continuing on. The kids all had Superman ice cream in a sugar cone. They had a gluten free bread pudding, which I ordered with vanilla ice cream. I don't even know what Dave got. Mine was soooo good. Sophia was enchanted with all of the wood carved bears. Especially this one, who is catching a fish!

As soon as we crossed over the Grand Canyon the kids started noticing snow and begged for us to pull over so that they could play in it. As soon as we were able, we did so. It's not often that Valley of the Sun residents get to play in snow. They each brought home a snowball which we kept on ice in the cooler.

Our rear ends were sore, and our tempers short by the time we pulled into Mesa. We sure are glad to be home! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Joseph Had A Little Overcoat...Again

Posted by Paulette

Joseph is all finished up. 

Joseph had a little overcoat, then he made a jacket out of it. 
Joseph had a little jacket, the he made a vest out of it.
Joseph has a little vest, then he made a scarf out of it.
Joseph had a little scarf, then he made a tie out of it.
Joseph had a little tie, then he made a handkerchief out of it.
Joseph had a little handkerchief, then he made a button out of it.
Joseph had a little button. He lost the button, and so he made a song from it.

This is a very shortened version of a traditional Yiddish tale about thrift. A virtue which I think is lacking in our society today, but one that is quickly returning.

This doll is a special order. Which is something I do. I enjoy the challenge of making a 3-D version of an illustration or character from a book or story. It just so happens that this is one of my favorite stories.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Work In Progress Joseph Had A Little Overcoat Doll

Posted by Paulette

Sometimes when I have a new client, they like to see the process of their doll being made. This doll when finished, will be Joseph from the book Joseph Had A Little Overcoat. It's a story about thrift. 

So, I begin with a pattern. This one is of my own making. I trace the pattern onto the fabric, and start sewing and cutting and stuffing, and soon we have a new canvas with which to create a new character.

 Joseph's face has been needle sculpted which gives him more character than a flat painted on face. 
He's able to stand on his own, although he'll be more stable with a stand.

This character has a bit of a tummy. His fingers and thumb are wired for poseablility.
He is 15 1/2 inches standing.
Next comes paint, hair and some clothes. The easiest part of making the doll is finished. I make all new patterns for the dolls and clothes that I make for each doll.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vegan Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Posted by Paulette

Some days I run out of eggs. And then I make a vegan muffin. This one is also gluten free, so there's the best of both worlds. I've been trying to feed my family healthier meals. I've replaced vegetable oils with olive oil and coconut oil.  This recipe uses coconut oil. I always use whatever I have on hand, and so it's nice to know about substitutions.
 We don't drink cow's milk anymore. I've read that it's likely to have puss in it, which makes sense. When you produce food on an industrial scale, you should expect lack of quality. I am able to source some raw goat's milk from a friend occasionally, but her goats are a bit dry right now. So we make due with almond milk. Coconut milk is good too, but has a distinctive taste that isn't good for everything. So, back to why this muffin is vegan. It's one of  those substitutions I was talking about. In baking you can substitute 2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 2 tablespoons water for 1 large egg.
My baked goods still have a good texture, but they turn out a bit blonder on top. So, time to share the goodness. By the way, that's real butter on top. I am not a purist.

Vegan Gluten Free Banana Muffins

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
4 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 3 bananas, mashed
 2 cups almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with cupcake papers or nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together first 7 ingredients. In a smaller bowl mix remaining ingredients and then pour into large bowl, and mix until well incorporated. Spoon approx. 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

It's lovely if there's places where the brown sugar didn't fully incorporate into the muffin, because it creates pockets of caramel. So don't worry if your brown sugar is a bit clumpy.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Feeling Blessed On This Day of Rest

Posted by Paulette

This morning was beautiful. I awakened to hear Jonny in the kitchen doing dishes without being asked. He also said he was going to make breakfast, but when I informed him I wouldn't be able to eat what he was planning, he agreed to let me make something else.

I made muffins and was enjoying the fact that while Dave and 
I were working outside yesterday, the kids were working inside to get everything cleaned up and ready for Sunday. I appreciate that more than they know.

Then while I was posting the recipe for the muffins I made, I heard Katie playing nurse to her little sister Sophia. "Sophi, you're hot. I'll go get you some water." I turned around and Sophia had that "look" about her that a mother knows. That one where they're eyes don't look right. And sure enough, she had a fever. I agreed to stay home from church and watch her.

We both have had some good naps. It's 3:30 pm and I'm still in my jammies. I decided to go do some watering in the back yard. My little private Garden of Eden.

The family will be home soon. Let me share with you my little time.
This is our little wheelbarrow garden. 

I've planted some basil (you can never have enough basil), Spanish Lavender, lemon verbena, and some mint. I let them sit in their pots too long and didn't water them one day. This is what the Arizona summer does to plants. It zaps them! The basil and lavender seem to be reviving, but the mint got it bad.
It's coming back though. See that little baby, there? That's what good soil and water will do.

The sun is so bright, it's hard to make this one out. Those are my 5 ducks. When I came outside they were chilling out on the porch. I hate it when they lay on the porch. They Poo poo everywhere. Yucky! So I chased them off the porch, sprayed it off and set the hose to run under the fig tree. They discovered the puddle I'd made for them and decided to relocate. That big gray one on the right is actually wagging his tail feathers he's so happy. They have a cool place to sit and EAT! 

This is our new raised bed. It's composting and waiting to be filled with beautiful plants in October. It's "hot" right now, since it has a lot of steer manure in it. Isn't that box beautiful? It's like a piece of furniture, and I made it!
Maybe, just maybe, if I can make a raised bed for my plants, I can make a bed for Hyrum, since the one we bought from Ikea for him fell apart. Junk!

This is what good soil looks like. It's not Arizona dirt, and make no mistake, there is life in there. All of the microbes and insects in there doing their job. We used a mixture of beer and coke to fast track the  composting process. 

And we still need to add back in the beneficial microbes. The recent rain has helped with that, but I will be putting some yogurt or kombucha in there too. 

Well, looks like I'm out of time. The family is home. And I am needed.

Gluten free Pizza Muffins

Posted by Paulette

When I started living a gluten free lifestyle, one of the things I missed most was pizza. I learned how to make a pizza crust and a fantastic pizza from it. But what would be better than a pizza? Pizza muffins! 
 Recently while out shopping with a friend at Costco we picked up some sun dried tomatoes. She mentioned that they'd be good in muffins and my brain exploded with an idea, pizza muffins!
I've given my muffins to people, and they can't believe they're gluten free. So now it's time to share the goodness.

Gluten Free Pizza Muffins
makes 20 muffins

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups  grated mozzarella cheese + 1 cup for tops
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 3/4 cups water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare muffin tins with papers or nonstick spray
  • Whisk together first 9 ingredients in a large bowl
  • In a small bowl whisk together water, oil and eggs
  • Add to the large bowl and mix well.
  • Drop 1/4 cup scoops of batter into each cup of the muffin tins.
  • Sprinkle the tops with the remaining mozzarella cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
There is no need for sauce for these muffins, but if you'd like to add chopped olives, sausage or pepperoni that would be delicious!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Making Black Gold

Posted by Paulette

When David and I moved into our first house we had a huge back yard with lots of room for gardening. I had my vegetable garden and my flower garden with room to spare. The best part of that yard was a large space, probably 15'x 10' for making compost. He crowed about his plans to make black gold. I thought black gold was oil. How were we going to make oil? He soon taught me about compost, the food for plants. We moved away from that house more than 10 years ago and when we tried to garden in Arizona, we were a dismal failure. Right away we started with some recycled trash bins with holes drilled into them and the bottom cut off. We thought we were on our way to gardening Nirvana. Our hopes and dreams were dashed when we planted our first garden in March and watched our precious tomato plants shrivel and die in the heat. We didn't get even one tomato! The soil here is clay. Not the best for gardening in. So we had two strikes against us; the heat and the soil.
Time for us to go to school.  Our visions for our dream gardens are starting to take shape. After attending a class taught by Donna, we learned that the compost bins that we were trying to use for a decade were ineffective, and why. Our compost was taking FOREVER to decay and break down. I found plans for a composing system that was in line with Donna's teachings. Today we put it together.
 Our new system is made of 4 pallets which were $3 each at our feed store. I need to find a source where I can get them for free. The stakes were about $4 each, and we used 8 of them.
Our new system cost $44. We were lucky to get free mulch from Donna. She asked a landscaper to dump some in her driveway. It only took 3 weeks for her gardening friends to haul away what she didn't use. It's the lovely stuff in the center. This will be where we pull our brown waste from. The green waste will come from our kitchen and yard. The left and right sides of the system are for the composting. One active and the other inactive, and will be rotated every three months. If you are local and want to learn more about the science of composting, comment with your e-mail, and I'll send you Donna's info. Classes are $15 per person and $25 per couple.
She's a very insightful person. Here's her blog: Sharing Life's Abundance.

And here's the original system that inspired my easy peasy one.
 If you'd like to follow my Pinterest board for gardening it's here:

Gluten Free Almond Joy Muffins

Posted by Paulette

The little vacation that I had from being gluten free is over. For a short time I was able to have a sandwich made with regular bread. It was a freeing experience to be able to go out to eat and not worry about whether or not I was going to break out in hives, but that's over.
I've been working on some new recipes for muffins. They're the perfect grab and go meal or snack. This week I brought some to a friend who was surprised to find out that they were gluten free. She asked for a recipe. I'm the queen of dump and bake. So I've been working on measuring out things so that I can share the goodness. 
 I am hoping that going GMO free and gluten free again will heal my body. Time to tell Arthur Itis  and Hives goodbye. I was burned  twice this week by products that were gluten free. Both were crackers. One had corn, and the other soy. READ those labels! You can assume nothing!

I've created a new muffin, one I've never heard of. I'm calling it an Almond Joy muffin, because that where my inspiration came from.
 They're in the oven right now, and I've had three of my five children come and ask me what that wonderful smell is. 

Gluten Free Dairy Free Almond Joy Muffins
makes 18 muffins
  2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3/4 cups chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by either lining with cupcake papers or spray with nonstick spray. 
  • Mix the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, in a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and almond milk. 
  • Add to the dry ingredients and stir until well blended, stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each cup of the tin.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Oh My Gosh these are so good! Get them away from me before I eat them ALL!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Angel and an Elf

Posted by Paulette

Two more dolls:

 I've had some requests for for a Weeping Angel doll from the Dr Who series. I found the perfect fabric, and drafted a new pattern. This is a stump doll, which means that she has no legs. Her body is a cone on the bottom and to that I sewed her torso. Then the dress had to be slipped over her neck, and then her head and arms attached. Her dress is tacked in some places. 
Working with one fabric for the whole thing was a bit boring, until I started adding the hair, which is made from tubes of fabric with pipe cleaners inserted. The wings have been quilted.

 This is Peppermint. He's a Christmas elf. I've been wanting to make a black doll for a while. Shading the face is so different than on a lighter skinned doll. I used a white pencil first and then shaded over the top of it. I've discovered that if I spray the fabric with hairspray, it gives it a tooth that the pencil will stick to.

 His hair is made from a crocheted cap with acrylic yarn, and the combed out.
 I had two names for him Peppermint and Paisley. Peppermint won in the poll that I placed on Facebook. 
 I think I've had my doll fix for now. Unless I get a special order, I'll be putting away the sewing machine for a little while. And get back to yard work. It's time to build a compost bin!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

God's Gifts

Posted by Paulette

I woke up to a beautiful soft rain today. Living in the Arizona desert makes one very thankful for every drop of rain we get. When I was living in new Mexico, I would call my grandmother when it started raining and tell her to get her dancing shoes on. This is how it is in the Southwest. We love rain. 
Lately I've been spending a lot of time in the back yard working. It all started with the ducks. I built them a pen on the side of the house using a palate, some wood and chicken wire for a door and some fencing stakes. It only took a couple of hours. When the ducks were delivered they made a b-line for a corner of the yard with the most overgrowth of sage, a tree I can't identify with wicked thorns, and a naval orange tree. I noticed some trash tucked in the underbrush and was soon hacking away to trim everything up so that an adult can walk under it. This led to me hacking away at 10 years of overgrowth in the yard, which made a few huge piles of branches. 
 I've rediscovered how gardening is a therapy. It's good for the body, forcing me to lift and pull, and push and use all of the muscles of my body. It's sweating like I've never sweat before and cleaning out all of those impurities of my body. It's quiet time spent with nature, and communing with Heavenly Father who made all of this glory for his children. It's satisfaction of making changes that will stay that way longer than making a meal or cleaning the house. 
 So the cleaning up has turned into more projects of digging a pond for the ducks, and making raised bed gardens for vegetables that we will be planting in the fall. Planning has turned into implementing,and learning.
 David and I attended a class Saturday and learned the science behind composting. We learned microbiology. We also gained some new friends. God is so good to enrich our lives.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doll Making Season

Posted by Paulette

My last little one is now in kindergarten. This means that I am free to do more projects during the day. It means it's doll making season. The season has started with two Christmas elves. 

 Schneien  translates as "to snow" in German, he is a winter Elf. His heart is warm and so the cold doesn't bother him. he's available for sale in my Etsy shop.

Lebkuchen is also a German word. It's a ginger spice cookie that is traditionally made for Christmas. I thought it fitting to name her something sweet and spicy that matches with her ginger hair. She's smaller than Schneien, at only 9" tall seated, not including her hair. She would make a perfect elf on the shelf.

There are more dolls coming from craftewoman's workshop soon. I'm working on a Dr Who Weeping Angel.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Setbacks and Dreams

Posted by Paulette

This last week has been a hard one. We lost one of our ducks to a hunting accident. 

 This is Jackie. Isn't she adorable? This is the third time we've watched  her and she's been a little angel in the past. But she has a history of killing cats, and so was relocated from the country to the city. She's great and patient with the kids. 
Thursday she got into our duck pen and killed our little drake.
I got the call while at a church activity. Christopher was heart broken and while sobbing into the phone, told me that, "Jackie killed Rory." I had warned the kids to keep Jackie on a leash while in the back yard, but she slipped out the door, and made her way into the duck pen. After some strengthening of the entrance, I thought that the pen was safe. Saturday, she jumped the wall and attacked the two remaining birds. One of my hens has some superficial flesh wounds and will probably be okay, but I decided to board the ducks with my friend at her farm until Jackie gets picked up on Tuesday..

Strawberries are a really good price this week, 3 lbs for a $1. So I decided to try my hand at making jam again,  this time using pectin. I burnt the jam. So much for multitasking. I was making muffins at the same time. They were a disappointment too. I need to learn what my limitations are. 
So now I am dreaming about gardening. We have lived in Mesa, Arizona for 10 years. When we first moved here, I had expected to be able to garden the same way I had in New Mexico. There's a big difference between high desert and here. The soils are completely different. There it's decomposed granite and here it's clay. Do you know what happens if you add sand to clay? It makes cement. So there's lots to learn on that front. I am expecting that we will have to either do raised bed gardening, or dig out the existing soil and amend it. The good news is that there's more than one growing season here, and once we get the hang of when  to plant what, we should have a thriving garden. 
I'm pinning and reading like crazy. If you'd like to follow my board it's here.

A sample of some of the things I've pinned:
Upright potato digging and save on space

7 tips for growing mad giant basil plants


Tomatoes need calcium to achieve their full flavor potential, and calcium is often greatly lacking in our soils. 95% of a dry eggshell is calcium carbonate. When planting your tomato plants crush up (to powder) about 4 or 5 egg shells and put them in the bottom of the hole. Then plant your tomato on top. They'll provide calcium and prevent blossom end rot.


So this week I plan, and wait until I have more money to put my plans into effect. The kids start school in about two weeks and so far I've spent about $300 on school clothes. Most of that was from Goodwill's half off day. I have yet to buy the school supplies. That will probably be another $250. Having kids is expensive!

Hopefully this week will be better.