Monday, December 30, 2013

We had a fabulous Christmas with family.  The opening of gifts on Christmas Day with the grand kids is the most wonderful gift we could receive. 
Frank and I gave Collin an electric child's motorcycle and Carli an electric Vespa-turquoise of course!!!  After a few crashes here and there in the beginning, they got the hang of them and were on them every waking moment for the next few days.  They went around and around the fields in the back and in between the fruit trees.  The weather was so perfect to be outside.
I was asked to knit a bunch of these rosettes for a friend to put on her children's packages.  This picture doesn't show them finished as I also knit lots of leaves to go along with them.  The gifts inside were hats and the rosettes were going to be attached to them after they were opened.  Here is the picture of my friend's gifts.
Collin and Carli asked me what was my favorite chicken and I pointed her out-
Carli drew a picture of her for me.  Pretty good likeness!
They have been laying tons and tons of eggs even though the temperatures in the evening have been very cold.

I made these pumpkin pie tarts-

The recipe is: Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In medium bowl, combine 1-15 oz can of pumpkin; add 1/2 cup sugar; 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used Allspice); 1/2 tsp. vanilla; 1/4 tsp salt; stir well.  (At first this doesn't look like very much but you only put a a tablespoon of this mixture in each tart pastry).
You can use your favorite recipe for pie dough; or use pre-made refrigerated pie crusts from the store.
Roll out the dough and find an object that is 4" round, trace around it on the dough and cut it out. Lightly brush all around the dough with beaten egg.  Put a tablespoon of the pumpkin pie mix in the middle; fold dough over filling; press around edges with a fork sealing in the mixture.  Brush egg on top of each pie and sprinkle with sugar.  Place pies on baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray so they won't stick.  Bake for 10 minutes or until brown.  My opinion of this recipe is that it needs some butter, was a little dry.  I think if you brushed the inside of the dough with melted butter, that would make a big different in flavor.  And if you had your own applesauce in your pantry or home made strawberry jam, substitute those with the pumpkin pie mix and they also would be fantastic.
The time together just flew by, how come Christmas just comes up so fast and gone before you know it.
Frank and I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful friends; a beautiful and giving and loving family; to be able to do what we love to do, farm.
We hope all of you that take the time to read our blog about every day life on a small farm had a fabulous Christmas holiday too and will come back to hear more in 2014!!!
Happy New Year

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Glitz & Why Leave Wrap Hidden Away

In 8 days, we will be sitting in the front room with the fire going, family around, grandkids begging to open up a gift before the next day-Christmas!!!
As most people do, we purchase most items through the internet and they get delivered right to the front door.  I really hate shopping at large malls any more.  It used to be the highlight of my year, but no longer.  I much rather look for the best deals, for my specific purchases, through the convenience of my chair, than to wonder through crowded stores, trying to find parking spots, and the traffic.  I do buy some items  locally as we want to support local small businesses.
I used burlap bags a friend gave to us for under the tree skirt.  She owns Dutch Bros. and they held coffee.
 A group of my gal friends got together and arranged a Christmas tour of each other's houses decorated for Christmas.  It was set up for this last Sunday and it was so much fun going house to house in our small neighborhood and seeing all the special ornaments, lights, trees.  The friend Diana who had the last house visited had a huge spread laid out for us of home made cookies, candies, nuts and fresh hot chocolate.  We all agreed it will be an annual event from now on.  Our house had some glitz and glam lights which are magnified by an old mirror in the back of the hutch.
 While getting the wrapping items out from the closet, I wondered why I kept it hidden away. The bows and holiday papers were so beautiful. So I decided to make our efforts easier and put the wrap, next to the tree. As each item gets delivered or purchased, I don't have to pull out or put back all the items needed to wrap the gift up.  One of these old crocks was on the front porch so I cleaned it up and brought it inside to keep all the bows, tissue paper and tags. 

Another idea I decided to do was to create my own Christmas tags.  Celli had given me the kid's latest school photos and they were sitting here on my desk.  I scanned them in black and white (my printer prints in color but it isn't a very good printer); put in an Avery peel off label sheet; and printed them out, a sheet of Carli and Collin. Now all they have to do is find their own picture knowing that is their gift.
What ideas do you have going this Holiday Season???  Will be chatting with you again before the big Christmas Day.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wreath Making Class A Success; Wonderful Thanksgiving

How was your Thanksgiving?  All our guests wanted to be outside, kids playing in the tree house or watching the chickens; adults either in Frank's shop or going on a walk.  The weather was ideal.  Today when I woke up it was 29 degrees, holy difference
Our family brought their friends who have 4 kids, so we had 6 kids; 5 dogs and 6 adults + some local friends for dinner and weekend stay.  It was really a wonderful time, we put out a big puzzle to put together for inside fun; the fire was lite and some people brought out their Kindles and read for a while in between meals. 
A highlight of the weekend was when all the kids decided to rake the leaves on the lawn and ended up having a terrific time playing with just "leaves".  They put together their small tent and drug it outside on the lawn and covered it with leaves with only a small eye hole.  Then they covered themselves with the leaves; and lastly they all jumped in the middle of a huge pile.  No expensive toys, nothing electronic; just pure nature and fun.
The Fresh Wreath Making Class was such a big success and I have to say, it really took some doing to get it all together after having so many people stay over until Sunday and the class set for Tuesday.  But with Frank's help, we were able to cut cedar greens; eucalyptus; olive branches; rosemary; got some noble fir limbs; climbing ivy seed pods; different types of pine cones; I dried lemon/orange slices; burlap ribbon; items spray painted with gold and silver paint.  We moved all the furniture out of the front room and put down a large plastic tarp with all the greens and wreath making items in the center of the room.  The smells were heavenly!!!  Then we put tables all around the pile and placed Florist Designer Lisa Hunter in front of the fire place.  I had door prizes wrapped; refreshments out on the dining room table and wire cutters; pruning shears; wire; and scissors set on each table.  We were ready to go for our large group of wreath makers her at Windmill Farm.
The ladies had such a great time talking and laughing and creating.  As they finished their wreaths, I took pictures and it was fun to see how each wreath was different.  Lisa made a wreath as she demonstrated to the group and that became the grand door prize won by Caroll Reece, our Upholstery Extraordinaire friend.   Here are some photos that speak for themselves. So many more but don't want to over-load you with photos.
I love this last photo of Mrs. Margaret Hughes, she was just getting ready holding her wonderful wreath with lots of gold splashes and it matched her gold purse.  Too cute. The people that come to our classes have become good friends of ours and have made good friends of the people they have met here.  Life on our farm has brought us so many blessed gifts.
Until next time, enjoy the Christmas Season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sweet Peas Time and Turkey Time

Some years I remember, some I don't, but October and November are the months to plant your sweet peas to bloom in spring of 2014.  It is an investment of time now that you will be happy about later.  Some places that get very cold during winter would be best to be planted in early spring.  But here in Northern California, if we wait too long in early spring, then it starts getting too hot for them to bloom in June.
Cultivated sweet peas go back at least 300 years. In their native Sicily, these ornamental peas originally had weak stems and intense orange-jasmine-honey scent. Modern hybrids are stronger-stalked and have larger blooms.
  •   Sweet peas are happiest with their heads in the sun and their roots deep in cool, moist soil. When possible, plant low-growing annuals in front of them to shade their roots.
  • Choose a well-drained site. Alkaline soil is best; sprinkle some powdered lime on the surface if your soil tends to be acidic.
  • Prepare a rich soil by mixing in generous amounts of compost and well-rotted manure mixed to a depth of 2 feet.
  • Prior to planting, you're going to want to dig a nice deep trench of about 4 inches in depth.
  • After you dig the trench, make holes with a pencil, drop in the seeds, and press down on the soil to firm it and shut out any light.
  • Before planting, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. This helps getting them germinated right away.

Sweet peas need support similar to climbing beans or snow peas.  Each year I let my creative side go to town and plant them in different spots that may compliment something else growing, such as in between carrots and beets or next to beans.  I sometimes use bamboo poles in a tepee style; last year I did a row and used the nylon netting and that worked well.  This year my plan is to grow lots more so I have them available to possibly sell from our farm.  So my spot is a long row next to my greenhouse with a possible arch over to another row.  If my idea works, I will be able to walk through an arbor of sweet peas-heavenly scents!!!

I love Thanksgiving.  Mainly because it brings everyone together to spend some real quality time together, either all in the kitchen helping with the food, or even on the couch watching sports. Memories are made for the kids to remember when they are adults about the traditional family foods prepared; funny stories being told; seeing relatives you only see a few times a year; tons of foods you normally don't eat; decorations on a table in the dining room; having people over that would normally be alone on Thanksgiving.
Enjoy your day and we will be back after Thanksgiving. 
Oh-our wreath class is full, but am adding people to waiting list in case someone cancels.  I will have lots of photos and stories to tell on the next post about the fun filled class.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Time to Start your Indoors Narcissus-Paperwhite Bulbs; Make a Chicken Pot Pie

I haven't been out shopping in a long time to my usual stores-Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowe's, Joann's, Staples.  Boring isn't it.  Most of everything else I need, I do from home via computer; on-line as everyone is doing the free shipping and I am a coupon girl so have some %s off if they don't have free shipping.  I wanted to start my narcissus bulbs for the holidays, but had not seen any that were reasonable enough to purchase. Most that I saw came with their own containers, dirt and a few bulbs.  I like using my own containers and I needed at least 10-20 of them.
Have you ever smelled a paperwhite Narcissus bulb blooming?  It just knocks your senses over, fabulous!!!  They have great qualities -
  • Fast growing, fast flowering
  • Ideal for windowsills
  • Strong, rich fragrance
  • Super easy to plant and care for
  • Excellent gifts for gardeners and flower lovers everywhere
  • In a few weeks they will be ready to bloom, just in time for Christmas and after.
    The 2nd edition of our Windmill Farm-CSA business being featured in the Edible Shasta-Butte magazine will be out in a couple of weeks.  Earl was out last week taking photos so it will be fun to see which ones they selected.  As soon as it is printed and available, I will let you know!
    I have been feeling like baking lately, so I made a chicken pot pie.  They are not that hard to do.  I like to make my own crust, but using store purchased pie crust makes it even easier.  And you can get the pre-cooked chickens at the store to save time too.  I saute the onions, carrots, parsley, celery, chicken, broth, a little milk/1/2 & 1/2 in a big pot, when cooked, add a little flour to thicken up the broth; add frozen peas and put into a pre-cooked crust.  Then put a top crust on it; sprinkle some coarse salt on top, punch with fork to let steam out and cook at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes or until crust is brown.  Oh, and I whip up an egg and brush on egg over crust and that really gives it a golden brown.  Talk about home comfort food!!!
    Have a great week and hope you come back again to hear more about what is happening here at our little Windmill Farm.