Jul 23, 2010

The Container Experiment and (Possible) FAIL!

It's a rainy (and a bit of a lazy) day here in the North Country. At least I won't need to water today...

I was out there looking at things yesterday, and it doesn't seem as though my container experiment is going too terribly well.  I keep getting blossoms on my squash and zucchini plants, but they only ever fall off.  I don't seem to be getting any "fruit" on them.

Then there's my tomato and pepper plants...  I have "fruit" on those, but they don't seem to be getting too terribly large with the passing of time.

I have a small square-foot garden in back.  I have heads of butter leaf lettuce in all 6 spots this year.  They're ones that just popped up on their own.  Likely from those that went to seed last year.  So, I saved them, and they seem to be doing pretty well.  Not as large as the ones that we had in Maryland, but still enough for me to make salads from and lettuce for sandwiches.  Still... I think everything would do so much better, if I were able to put them into the ground.   Though, that's something that's really allowed where we're living at the moment.  So, we'll see...

The season's not quite over.  I'm still holding out hope for me wee little plants...

Now, on to the blog hopping...  This week, I'm hopping with:

New Friend Fridays

Welcome to everyone stopping by!  I'm happy to have you here and hope you'll choose to stick around.  This is a space in a flux of growth.  In time, I hope it will start to become something much more.  Until then...  Hope you all have a GREAT weekend!

Jul 13, 2010

Open Fire Cooking

This past weekend, I decided to prepare for my most recent and grand experiment.  Open fire cooking.  Now, I suppose that I could have simply done this on the BBQ grill with charcoal, and it would have, likely, been easier.  There's just something about an actual fire...  Indeed, I was amusing myself, as well as my son, who probably likes fire a little too much. lol

I first needed to begin acquiring what "tools" I didn't already have.  Among them, the single most important... the fire pit.  (I just didn't think Housing would appreciate me digging a hole in our front yard and creating one there.  So, I decided to compromise...)

Now, my neighbors have a fire pit that we often congregate around together...  I didn't want to have to borrow theirs, though, and I could have purchased one like theirs for a good deal less than I spent on the one I ended up with.  But, as I told Dh when we were discussing it, I wanted to spend a little more and buy one that would serve us well in the years to come, even after we're on the land in Missouri.

As I was shopping, I took many things into consideration because, let's face it, there are a lot of options on the market at the moment.  I could have bought a metal one, one with a table around it...  The things I was thinking about as I bought it was something that would last; something that was sturdy because we have a lot of kids between our family and our neighbors', and something that would be good in which to place a Dutch Oven.  I also didn't want to break the bank!  The result was a clay fire pit, which I picked up from Lowes...

I figured it wouldn't be too much different from cooking on a hearth, and, as Dh mentioned, it will probably be more weather resistant than a metal one would have been.

So started our grand cooking experiment...

Now, we have a cast iron Dutch Oven... somewhere...  It's likely among the camping stuff that has been "buried" in the garage behind Dh's workbench.  (Did I mention that cleaning out the garage is on my list of "things to do" while Dh is deployed?  Something else I'll share once that occurs...)  Given that I just wasn't up to digging in the garage yet, I decided to cook with aluminum foil.

For the experiment, I cooked chicken and garlic, which I drizzled with a little olive oil and white wine, shrimp with garlic, a mix of yellow squash, zucchini, and mushrooms, and red potatoes, which I cubed.  For dessert... because I had a sweet tooth later that evening, we had a revised version of "campfire sundaes", which comprised of cut up bananas, peanut butter, and a couple of marshmallows.  Everything was cooked on coals in aluminum foil pouches...

How did it go?  Not too bad for a first time.  I do have to work on my sense of timing a bit.  The chicken actually cooked more quickly than I had expected, so I sat it off to the side to "keep it warm" while I cooked everything else.  Unfortunately, it ended up getting a bit over-cooked and dry.

The shrimp... (Mental note:  Use uncooked shrimp)  I had forgotten that it was already cooked and should have only been heated up...  So, that came out a bit rubbery.

The veggies and potatoes came out really well, though, and the sundaes were delicious.

So, it wasn't a complete failure...  Definitely a learning experience and something that I will be doing again over the course of the summer.

On another note... My son is very happy that we now have a fire pit of our own and is talking about using it, even during the winter.  Might have to try out a recipe or two that I have for hot drinks.  We'll see...  After all, it gets really quite cold up here during the winter.

Jul 10, 2010

This and That - Saturday Share It

Welcome to Saturday Share It.  This is a feature that I've done n my other blog, Hiccups In Time.  It started with me simply sharing links that I came across throughout the week.  Then I shared links, explaining why I found each engaging.  Now... I'm just adding the links into my explanation...  I hope you enjoy this week's installment here at A Return To Simplicity.


Our journey toward simplicity and homesteading finds us in the suburbs. Not apartment living. More like a townhouse, but we don't have a lot of space in which to garden. My understanding is that we can expand, if we'd like to, and without permission. It's a little late in the year to do too much. So, that might be a project for next year.

This year, though. I'm doing more in the way of vegetable growing. Only we're doing it in containers at the moment... We have lettuce, tomatoes, and this year I inherited some other plants from a family that was preparing for a last minute PCS (Permanent Change of Station). Among the plants I procured were sweet peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash. I LOVE zucchini and squash. My kids, however, are not big fans.

As I was poking around little bits of the blogosphere this morning, I came across a recipe from Homesteading On The Internet for This Can't Be Squash Casserole.  I loved that she cooked it on an open fire!  Something that I would LOVE to do, myself.  With the exception of the fire, we have the means...  Our neighbors have a fire pit, though.  I'm not sure how well it would go with that, but I'm thinking that I might have to give it a go at some point or another.  Never know unless you try, right?  And it's just been SO hot lately.  Cooking is just not something that I've been wanting to consider lately...  Yes, I might have to try a bit of outdoor cooking.  Something beyond grilling.

I'll let you know how things go...

As I was catching up on my feeds last evening, I came across a video at Green Mountains Homesteading that really just says it all for me these days.  I just had to share...

In truth, I've never been terribly political in my views, but the more I've begun to become cognizant of the abuses that are being made... I'm starting to pay more attention and be more vocal regarding my views. As I see it, it's the only thing that will make things better in the end... After all, it's seems to have been our readiness to trust, as well as our complacency as a people that has gotten us in the spot that we currently find ourselves.

Not too long ago, I found Nancy's blog, the "How To" Homemaker.  I LOVE it!  The other day she posted information about the book So Easy To Preserve from the Georgia Cooperative Extension Office.  I'm definitely adding it to my list of books to get in the near future.

With Dh deployed, I'm looking for ways to keep myself AND my mind occupied.  I've figured what better way to do so than learn some of the skills that are of interest to me for when we homestead.  Among those things is preserving.

Dh has the Canning Guide from the US Department of Agriculture, but I'm definitely open to any bits and tricks I come across along the way...  I especially want to try my hand at jams and jellies.  One step at a time, I suppose, and... I'm not deluded enough to think that my little container garden will give me any major yields this year, but it's all a learning process I figure.  Right?  One baby step at a time, and better to take those steps now than to take them when we're more in need of the foods and what-not.

So explains the journey I have ahead of me...  From Southern California City Girl to an (Aspiring) Southern Missouri Homesteading Country Girl, and this blog will be relating the steps in between...

Welcome to my path, and thank you for joining me!

Jul 9, 2010

A Happy Friday To All!

Working to get this blog off the ground after having recently been "re-purposed"... This is the FIRST Friday that I'm taking it "on the road". I'm going blog hopping!

For starters, we'll be hopping with Java and the over 40 set at Never Growing Old.

There's more blog hopping to come... But will get this up and add as I go. ;-)


I also came across this fun sounding blog hop...

New Friend Fridays

WELCOME to ALL who are dropping by for the first time!

Please excuse the construction dust... I'm doing a few renovations over here. You may know me from my other blog, Hiccups In Time. Why another blog? Why this one? Well... our family is working its way toward a more simple lifestyle. A journey that will eventually include our own homestead. I wanted to record our journey along the way. Doesn't really fit in with the niche (military spouse and mommy) I've developed over at Hiccups. So... I figured I would re-purpose the blog that I have here to include this newest niche. Perhaps... someday... the two will come together, but it may not either. Either way, I hope you will join me for the journey. It's sure to be... interesting.

Have a GREAT weekend, everyone!

Jul 6, 2010

Going Full Circle

This past weekend, my kids and I were able to share in the joyful celebration that was their great-grandfather's 90th birthday party.  90 YEARS!  The thought simply amazes me and reminds me that life, at 40, isn't even half over...

Throughout the celebration there was a video playing that was comprised of pictures from Grandpa's life...

Now, I must say that I did enjoy viewing the pictures of my own family (Dh and the kids), including the ones of Dh when he was kid.  They helped me to see how far we have come over the years... how much we've changed and grown up.  The photographs that I must admit to having enjoyed the most, though, were the ones of Grandpa when he was a child, himself.

I can't say that I know a lot about Dh's Grandpa.  The things I do know Dh has told me or those things I've picked up through conversation.  Such as the fact that he lived on a farm for most of his life, and, given the dates that were attached to the photographs in the video... he grew up during the Depression.

You know, though...  While looking at them, I noticed one thing.  Even during tough times... they were still smiling.  My thought is that it was due to the fact that they knew the secret to happiness...

As I was growing up, I didn't have much extended family around me, and when I did, it seemed there was nothing but bickering that occurred between them and my parents.  Needless to say, for the most part, we weren't a very tight knit family on either side.  It's only been in the most recent of years that I've truly realized how important family is.  It is a lesson that I don't think I would have ever really learned without Dh's help.  I now know, though - from this weekend past - where he learned it.

Near the end of the party, there were "speeches" made.  No one had anything but glowing remarks to say about Grandpa.  How he has been a wonderful role model and how he never hesitated to make sacrifices for his family...  He grew up in a different time.  A time when the focus of life was more upon the intangible things that money can't buy.  Back when the way of being was more... simple.

And here we - his grandchildren - are... after all the "progress" that has been made by our nation... our world... trying to get back to that simple way of being.  Who would have ever known that it would be, at times, so difficult?

I am happy to say, though, we do have one piece of the puzzle in place...  the importance of family.  Because... without family and the love of others, the whole long trek really isn't worth a hill of beans.

Jul 1, 2010

A Quick Note

Hello, everyone!

I just wanted to let you know... I'm going to be rather silent here the next few days.  Despite my best efforts, I don't see me keeping to my schedule as I would wish to due the holiday weekend.  The 4th of July weekend has, over the years, become something of a family reunion weekend for Dh's family.  So, we're going to be really quite busy.  On the positive side... I may very well have wonderful tales to relate in the near future. :-)

To those of you in the US... I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday weekend.  For everyone else... may you and your family share wonderful moments this weekend!  Things should be back to normal come Tuesday, at the latest.

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