Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Been Busy: Shop Updated.

Sorry for my lack of posts the past few days. I was working on a deadline to get an order into the printers on time. I just sent it out, and I feel completely exhausted. I've been working during any free moment that I have on my inventory for The Gallivanting Girl. I decided at the beginning of the year that my etsy shop was getting a complete overhaul. I found a professional printing service, bought a negative scanner, and I've begun the long process of editing and creating new work to add to the shop. Things are looking great though. My first order to the printer had over a hundred prints (all on metallic paper, which I'll be excited to see). Below are some of the items that are going to be in my shop (if they haven't been added already). I'm hoping to get all the new listings added by this Friday. Tell me what you think.

"Will You Wait?"

"Morning Graze"

"Is it any Wonder?"

"Foggy Morning"

"Bright Eyes"

I'm really liking my new edits. They should make really neat postcards/notecards which is something I'm hoping to add to my shop too. Right now I've just got 4x6s listed, but have prices up for larger sizes, and I ordered some 5x7s so they'll be getting listed too. I'm also wanting to design a 2012 calendar to sell next fall as well. Never a dull moment around here.

In other news, I put my buck and doe rabbit together again, so in about a month we'll have another litter of rabbits. I've moved them to their new quarters down at the barn which will make life a lot better for all of us. They had been bunking in temporary cages in our little shed by the house and they had plastic catch-trays that I was having to wrestle out to dump in the icy tundra that is our yard. Down at the barn their cages are suspended above the stall area, so clean up is a breeze. The bucklet, as I call him, (the only remaining kit from their last breeding) has become my little buddy. He loves attention and is a very pretty boy. I'm hoping to buy him some ladies this spring, so he'll get to be the new breeder buck.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walmart / Healthy?

I watched the news last night (believe me, I'm not a fan of the news, so this isn't a regular occurrence), but there was a bit about Mrs. Obama supporting Walmart in their push to lower sodium, trans fats, and sugars in its house brand products. They said it would help lower childhood obesity. Are you kidding me? That's like saying changing the color in wine will cure alcoholism.

I'd much rather see them re-work the recipes in their products to quit adding so much corn and soybean substances that aren't necessary, as well as the chemicals, preservatives, and unnatural ingredients that fill the ingredient panel (as well as scare the crud out of me). I understand that things must have a shelf life, but it makes me a bit uneasy when I read the ingredients of bread and there are so many additives besides what should be there: flour, salt, water, and yeast. On a common brand of honey wheat bread this is the ingredient list: unbleached enriched wheat flour (flour, malted barley, niacin, iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, yeast, whole wheat flour, honey, high fructose corn syrup, wheat gluten, wheat bran, soybean oil, salt, cultured wheat dough conditioners (ethoxylated mono-diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, distilled monoglyceride, calcium peroxide, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes), calcium carbonate, yeast nutrients (monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulfate), calcium sulfate, soy flour, vinegar, and soy lecithin. I don't know about you, but that really makes me feel sick. I don't know what half of those things are and yet it's just in plain old bread? I don't want to feed my daughter that. Not even if somebody told me that every one of those ingredients is safe in the amounts they are in, and you want to know why? Because the only things that really need to be in it are flour, water, yeast and honey. End of story.

No, the true obesity problem is that we are a nation obsessed with convenience. The faster, simpler, and easier we can get to exactly what we want we are hooked. Diet pill promising results with no exercise or dieting, sold. Supper in a matter of seconds in the microwave, why not? We don't care where the food comes from as long as it's cheap and can quickly get to the table.

Not me, I enjoy taking a meal from a batch of simple ingredients to a nice, healthy supper. It isn't nearly as time consuming as it is made out to be. Honestly when was the last time you cooked a meal from scratch? No boxes of Macaroni with the bright orange cheese, no packets of pre-mixed spices, no frozen pre-made entrees. Just a recipe card and fresh ingredients? That's what I think would help the obesity problem more than ever is teaching the population how to actually use all the beautiful produce and meats out there. If more people used them, then more farmers could grow them to meet the demand, and the prices would be more consumer friendly. I'm a big believer in the farmer's markets.

Here is an example of a farmer's market in Jackson, Mississippi via NatalieMaynor on Flickr.

I see this and I want to run to the computer and search for a yummy way to use all the pretty vegetables. It's not daunting, but exciting. I imagine it will take a major change in our behavior as a population for the food industry to try and bring the quality and nutrition that a farmer's market can offer, but at least farmer's markets are becoming more prevalent in our society. I just wish they were the norm instead of the exception. Maybe that will change in the next ten years.

This is an example of a farmer's market it Dallas, Texas via muddbutter on Flickr.

All I'm saying is that the thing we need to change is the fact that we can't raise enough healthy food (ie, produce, meat, and dairy) in a way that we can feed everybody without significant change on everybody's part. If you want to eat steak, why not contact a local beef producer and ask about purchasing some from him? If you want eggs, stop in at one of those signs along side of the road advertising for "Fresh Brown Eggs." If we take advantage of what's right next door, then we not only know who raised it, but also that it is fresh and healthy for us. I also wish we'd push legislation to bring direct-to-consumer agriculture into everyone's life. Smaller farms would have a better footing in the industry which would help local economies, build community (by getting people out and talking with their neighbors), and would (in my opinion) greatly reduce the food quality issues that we have now (smaller scale/diversified farms don't run into the myriad of problems that the larger scale 'factory farms' do.

I also would like to see cities allowing backyard and rooftop flocks of chickens, and lots of gardens in any available plots (rooftops included). I'd like to see dairies in all states find a way to be able to sell directly to consumers (even if it would require a signed paper indicating risks that the consumer acknowledges because as far as I can tell that's all that's holding it back is liability). All-in-all I'd like to see Americans be able to fend for themselves a bit, and be actively involved in where their food comes from instead of what is commonplace: opening a bag or box and placing it's unknown sourced contents into the microwave and not caring what you're putting into your body at every meal.

What do you think?

Real Estate Hankerings.

This property is located at 5455 E High School Road in Butlerville, Indiana. The asking price is $24,900 for a 3 bed, 2 bath, 3,784 square foot home on an acre of land. If it was sitting on about a hundred acres with a few more outbuildings this would be my heaven. I love the porches. I hope somebody brings this one back from ruin into its original glory. Beautiful house.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Goose Eggs and Rabbit Meat.

Don't let that sweet face fool you...she's dangerous.

That's my daughter Joelee. Yesterday she gave me yet another gray hair. I was making some hot tea with a blanket around my shoulders, and she was playing in the blanket. As she was swinging back and forth behind me she was getting more and more wild. All at once she flung herself headfirst into the metal cabinet to my rear. I picked her up (and she quit crying immediately in perfect Joe fashion--this kid is as tough as they come), and I gave her to my mother-in-law so I could finish our tea. Not two minutes later I walked over to check on her (being that I found a giant dent in the metal cabinet), and it looked like she was growing a second forehead. I've never seen a goose-egg like that. Thank goodness it went down in a hurry, and Joe is just left with a bruise over her left eye. Oh the things about motherhood that nobody tells you about.

I've gotten almost all of our garden seed in the mail. Four varieties of dry beans, green beans, peas, spinach, onions, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, and carrots. I got a $25 coupon for spending $25 from one of the seed companies, so I bought myself a cherry tree too. This is going to be a big garden year, and I couldn't be more excited. I'm hoping to start more seed than I need so I can sell some of the seedlings and make some of the money I've got invested back. This garden is hopefully going to produce enough to freeze and can and use fresh to feed my family this coming year.

On new year's day, we butchered my first batch of rabbits. I got a buck and doe last summer for free and their first litter (9 kits) were all sold to other people, and the second litter (8 kits) I kept all for myself. Believe it or not they were all bucks. There were two blacks, and five grays, and one very odd colored buck that was a creamy colored with dark points and red eyes. I decided I'd like to keep him and buy a few new does next spring to breed him to, and that the other seven kits would be butchered for my family to eat.

I'd heard so many things about rabbit meat, and I wasn't going to be making any judgement until I tried it myself. I'd butchered chickens before (which for the time and effort didn't really give me much meat), I've raised cattle most of my life, and I'd even raised rabbits quite a few years, but never for meat. People told me the meat was stringy, greasy, gamey, fatty, etc. I now had almost thirty pounds of rabbit meat neatly packed in ziploc bags ready to go in my freezer and I wasn't even sure if it was edible. Believe me, it is delicious. I'm really not sure what causes such a balking factor with rabbit meat for people. It's easily supplied (a rabbit's gestation is only a month, and it takes about four months of grazing to raise a kit to butcher size and you get about five pounds of meat), it is very lean and healthy (where people thought it was fatty or greasy I'm unsure), and it tastes and has the texture of white meat chicken. It was a very pleasant surprise.

There is something very empowering being able to feed your family with food that you've grown. Food that you've cared for and tended to. You know they were raised in a way you approve of and you know exactly what was put into them. No hormones or antibiotics just grass and sunshine and the occassional apple or carrot that they eat from your hand. Same goes with the garden. You cultivate the soil, drop in a seed, and weed, water, and toil, and ta-dah a few months later you're harvesting a bounty of delicious, fresh, healthy food that far outweighs the time and sweat you put into it.

Have I mentioned I'm really ready for spring?

Artistic Moment of the Week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Learning How to Write.

A photo of my Grandma around my age. Wasn't she beautiful?

I have such a hard time actually writing what I'm feeling on this blog. It's not that I can't write about such things. I keep a journal and write in it almost daily, but for some reason I hold back so much I'd like for all of you to know. Perhaps it's because I feel a fear of sharing too much, or even worse, you not wanting to hear what I have to say. I've decided to get over it, and write, and we'll see what happens.

Life on the farm is a bit stagnant. This time of year gives me a slight case of the blahs. Spring is my favorite season, the warmer days, the greening of things, all the baby livestock, it doesn't get much better, so I get a bit anxious in waiting for that time of the year to get here again.

My grandpa's birthday is today; he's eighty-one years old. My husband, Mike, Joelee, and I went up to see him on Sunday, and I hate to say it, but Alzheimers has changed him so very much. He's just a shell of what used to be my grandpa. It's really hard to visit, he's so quiet anymore, and that's the one thing my grandpa never was. He used to know it all, and could keep you entertained with stories for hours. The bright side is that he does know who Joelee is and he fawns over her whenever she's around, and I can't ask for anything more than that.

While we were there, my dad gave me an awesome present. A box of slides that my grandma and her family had taken in the late fifties. Hence the photo from above. I never thought I really resembled her until I saw this particular photograph. The smirky smile has traces of me all over it. I'm really excited to find all these glimpses into her life when she was my age, you know? She looked so strong, and happy, and she's such an inspiration to me. You see, she died when I was about nine, and she was sick a lot of those nine years of my life. I have a hard time remembering what she was really like. Honestly, Ma Kettle, and a few other strong-roled, funny actresses make up a majority of what I've lumped together as what my grandma was like.

I've been slowly scanning the slides onto my computer, along with a huge batch of negatives from my numerous years of using film photography. I'm expanding my shop and I've started using a professional printer, in readying for my next big venture which is getting out there and selling my work at markets, festivals, and bazaars. So far, this year is turning out to be incredible. My optimism is through the roof.

There I think that's a good start at opening up. Maybe tomorrow I'll share a few facts about me, and some talk about my garden plans...I'm sure you'll be just sitting at your computer waiting for me to put the post up...ha.

Chow Down.

Photo via Framed Cooks.

I have absolutely become a 'foodie' in the past year. Never did I think I'd be the girl scouring the internet for food blogs and drooling over the beautiful food photography. I envy the bloggers who take amazing photos just for their blog. I usually end up having to go through my archives for a photo of mine that matches the theme of the post. That's something I'm going to try and work harder at this year. I've got to do a better job at taking my camera everywhere with me and actually taking photos with it too. It's a habit I got out of, and that needs to change.

Anyway, back to my post: there are so many amazing food bloggers out there (that's why I started the 'Chow Down' themed weekly post, so I could feature them), and the blog "Framed Cooks" is definitely amazing. The photography alone makes me so jealous. She's one of those bloggers I'm going to try to emulate in the coming year. This is her recipe for "Naked Ravioli" and it looks delicious.

Naked Ravioli via Framed Cooks:

1 Pound ground meat (beef, pork, veal, etc.)
1 Egg
1/4 Cup grated parmesan
1/4 Cup fresh parsley
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1 Pound bow-tie pasta
4 Tablespoons butter
20 Fresh sage leaves
1 Cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper
Extra grated parmesan for garnish

1. Combine meat, egg, cheese, parsley, and onion. Roll into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter and pop into fridge until ready to use.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Cook meatballs in boiling water for five minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Put in a bowl and cover to keep warm. Cook pasta in same water until done, adding peas in at last minute of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, cook butter and sage leaves in small pot until butter is light brown, about five minutes. Toss pasta and butter mixture, researved meatballs and pasta water to make a light sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Add parmesan and serve.

Sounds delicious.

Craigslist Cravings.

In Seymour someone is selling barn doors from an old horse barn. I'm going to use a few someday for our upstairs doors that I'm going to put on sliding tracks because our floors are so uneven our doors always catch or don't close all the way or numerous other issues. Plus, I love the look, so it's a win-win.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Real Estate Hankerings.

This property is in Arcola, IL for 49,900. It's 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, and almost 3,000 square feet. It needs lots of work, but there are a lot of beautiful features on the inside.

Artistic Moment of the Week.

Gotta love Brown Swiss. I swear I'm going to have some again someday. I like the colors in the photo. Slightly muted and soft. Very beautiful.

Craigslist Cravings.

He's gotta be the cutest thing ever. He was in the Indianapolis Craigslist Pet section. I don't need a puppy, but they are fun to look at. Maybe next fall will find me a bit less busy and a pup will join the farm then. Until that time, I'm going to look at various puppy pictures and say 'Aww.'

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting a Good Start.

Detail said: "Interior of Mrs. Botner's storage cellar. 800 quarts of 'food for the winter.'..."

This is my dream pantry. I'd love to not have to go to the grocery ever again. That would be glorious. I have already ordered my garden seed for the year, and I'm really looking forward to what it will yield for us. I got $25 extra to spend since I spent $25, so I also bought a Cherry tree which I'm giddy about. My other purchases were: green beans, peas, carrots, roma and cherry tomatoes, onions, spinach, butternut squash, broccoli, pumpkin, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, black turtle beans, red kidney beans, eggplant, and garlic. I'm going to be a very busy girl this summer.

I also ordered myself a scanner from Canon to digitize all my film negatives. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I could literally do a jig I'm so happy. I've got my film from photography class in college as well as film from before I had my digital Rebel that I've not been able to reprint and after I get them on the computer they will be easily printed for selling. Hopefully this will push me to sell at festivals and bazaars because I won't have any excuse not to.

Otherwise this spring is going to be full of livestock. Currently I only have a small batch of chickens, two goats, and three rabbits (my original buck and doe and one of their buck kits). Just a week ago I had seven other kits, but we got them butchered and put in the freezer. I was leery about how I'd take the butchering, but it was quick and not as awful as I'd envisioned it to be. I'd never had tame rabbit before and it was a very nice surprise how delicious the meat is. Rabbits are a very dismissed meat animal. They are cheap to raise and very prolific breeders. Butchering 7 kits I got 28 pounds of healthy, tasty meat. They give a much better return than cattle, hogs, chickens, or lamb for sure. I'm going to build three or four grazing pens to raise kits in, and I'll be buying three or four more does this spring. I'm also going to raise a box of ducklings and perhaps another box of chicks, and I'm hoping I can find some goslings as well. We also have three horses, but they don't contribute to the farm much except for their manure which goes on the garden.

I'm a very busy girl, but I couldn't be any happier!

Chow Down.

Did you know that January is National Soup Month? I didn't until I started reading the food blogs and there was much hullabaloo about it. Funny thing was that I was actually looking for a soup recipe when I went to reading the food blogs in the first place, so I'm calling it fate. More specifically I was looking for a "Beef and Barley"-type soup. I found what may be a new favorite (I haven't tried the recipe yet, but I'm just going out on a limb): Portobello, Beef, and Barley Soup found via the Washington Post.

Portobello Mushroom, Beef, and Barley Soup:
(4 Servings)
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. lean top round, cut into cubes
4 C. beef broth
1 C. water
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 leeks, white part only, sliced crosswise (I'll probably omit this just because of lack of availability).
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/2 C. pearl barley
1 C. diced canned tomatoes

In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the beef and cook until the cubes have browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the beef broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and skim off any fat from the surface. Add the carrot, celery, leeks, onion, mushrooms, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the barley and cook, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until all the vegetables are barely tender and the barley is fully cooked but still firm. Add the tomatoes with their juice and cook for 1 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Sounds wonderful for tomorrow since we'll be getting some snow. I'm sure I'll tweak the recipe while I make it, but that's the reference recipe I'll be using. Stay warm everybody.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Proposed Projects.

Someplace on Tumblr, but I lost my notes. If you know who to give credit to, please tell me.

Via Woman's Health Magazine on

Georgia O'Keefe via
I'd like somebody to do a photoshoot of me. Is that a strange want? Probably, but I love the candidness of the photos above and I'd like to have photographs of me that give me something to look back on someday. I don't have very many photos of me anymore, and the ones I do have are usually me making an awkward face because I was talking or unprepared. I'd like to get prettied up and get a few images of me and Brute for old-time's sake and definitely one with my camera and a few with Joe and Mike. Just a random thought floating through my head today.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Compelling Compositions

"A former creative-writing student at Columbia, Janssen says the surest way to win her heart is to read to her in bed. 'I think that is so delicious,' she says. 'My dream is to find a guy who will actually make up stories for me, someone who can tell me a different bedtime story every night. I need to find the John Irving of my age.'" --Famke Janssen inerview in the June 2006 Best Life Magazine.

I am a quote-aholic, and I read way too many publications, subjects, and genres in a day to be normal. I found this quote and I could have easily written it. I didn't find that guy though. My husband won't read to me or make up stories, but it would be amazing if he would. That would be the epitome of perfect.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Resolutions.

Photo via Me. And can be purchased here...hint, hint.

I've got a nice big list of resolutions. I love writing down goals; it's actually a guilty pleasure. I have multiple lists and I go back over them often to see what I've accomplished. Silly, sure, but I get a big sense of pride knowing my dreams are coming true. My biggest want for this year? Well, I want to get stronger. Pregnancy took a lot out of me (and added a lot to me I'm afraid), but I've vowed to get myself back to where I feel like myself. My weight is fine where it is now (I've been working my butt off for that), but now it comes down to toning and building some of my muscle back.

Another resolution is to take my camera with me everywhere. I have a really bad habit of coming across perfect potential photos when I'm sans-camera. I was really bad about only taking my camera with me on scheduled gallivants, but this year I'm going to not only take my camera with me everywhere, but take tons more photos too.

I also have made a resolution to sell my work at a minimum of three festivals, learn a new skill, enter projects at our county fair again, plant a decent garden, write (not mattering what or how much, just write), go to five (new to me) auctions, try a new recipe a week, and quite a few more that I won't bore you with. I highly suggest, if you have a free moment, to grab a piece of paper and jot down a few resolutions of your own. It might just spur you to complete one or two of them.

Happy Belated New Year.

Blog of Note.

This blog is an inspiration of mine. So many beautiful images combined with lovely quotes. I go through and say, "Ooh this is my new favorite quote." And then I scroll down to the next one and it's "Ooh this is my new favorite." It's not that I'm fickle, but that there is just too many good things to be had on the Daily Poetics blog. Take a look for yourself and have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Real Estate Hankerings.

I can't believe what you can get for just a little money and some work. This property at 515 Washington Avenue in Evansville, Indiana features 6 bedrooms, 4 baths, and is 3,151 square feet for only $32,000. What an amazing piece of architecture. Sigh, yet another place I'd love to save.