Showing posts from March, 2015

Kids' Corner: Homemade Lipsticks

Today, our pre-teen guest blogger will share how she made some homemade lipsticks this weekend. It's like a blockbuster Kids' Corner-Meets-Herbal Apothecary post--if crayons were made of herbs.
How to Make Custom Lipstick Colors with Crayons! by Tiegan Trach
I just recently bought a lot of lipstick, and I realized that it dried out my lips and there weren't many colors to chose from. So I searched for a way to make my own lipstick. I came across a way to make lipstick out of crayons, and if there's anything I don't have to go and buy, it's crayons.
You need: coconut oilcrayonsrulerknifemeasuring spoonspotglass bowlwatercontainers to put your crayon/coconut oil mixture into (I used bottle caps)
First, you need to cut your crayons into 1 inch lengths and peel off the paper. I found that if you score a line in the crayon you can easily break it along that line. 
Next, set up a double-boiler by filling the pot with water and then putting the bowl in the pot. I was ab…

At Least We're Still Eating

Though there's still between six and 12 inches of snow on the ground in most spots and we're nowhere near ready to plant any spring crops outdoors, we still have plenty of last year's harvest stores to enjoy for dinner. To wit:

Along with filet or perch we had garlic green beans and sweet corn fritters. Despite not having a great green bean harvest last summer, we still had enough frozen beans to last through this long winter. We also still have a good deal of garlic, though some of it is beginning to sprout, which gives it kind of a greenish flavor. 
The corn fritters were made possible by some frozen corn from our bumper crop of sweet corn this summer. These are basically pancakes with corn in them, but fried in a half inch of oil. Kirk made them from a recipe in The Good Housekeeping All-American Cookbook, but there's a very similar recipe here. Just use regular salt and skip the sugar if you use fresh or frozen sweet corn from a farm--that's plenty sweet enoug…

So Many Seedlings

It occurs to me that my last post was a little depressing, what with all the broken glass and hail. Things really aren't all that bad. Despite the way this winter insists on hanging around, we have a lot of new growth on our seed-starting shelf:

Four whole trays of onions and leeks are getting bigger each day. They have their secondary leaves now and have been fertilized once already with some nutrient-rich aquarium water.

These are brand new salad seedlings, which include arugula, spinach, lettuce and beets for greens. These germinated quickly, but will need to ride out several more weeks indoors until the cold frame soil warms up. The weather the past few days has not been helpful in this department as lows have been in the teens. We also need to replace some glass on the cold frames to trap the heat they'll need to survive, so we're not expecting fresh salads any time soon.

Our cabbage and broccoli seedlings are looking really good this year. This weekend they should b…

If You Don't Like The Weather...

…just wait a minute. 
Or so the saying goes about the fickle New England weather.
Trouble is, I was enjoying the weather this afternoon, and didn't need a change, thank you very much. Tiegan and I took a walk after school and had a lovely time: balmy breezes, warm(ish) sunshine, pleasant conversation. About a block from home, though, it started to sprinkle.
By the time we got home, it was lightly raining. No big deal. 
I went to check the sap buckets, and they were overflowing thanks to the warm afternoon. I was getting a little wet while I transferred the sap to the big buckets, and since we had so much, I had to get another one to of the basement, wash it out, and dig some more holes in our snowbank/refrigeration system:

Just as I was sliding that last bucket into place, an icy gust of wind nearly knocked me over.
And then I was pelted in the face with a barrage of hail.
The temperature dropped like a stone: 20 degrees in just a couple hours, and it's still falling. The…

The New Maple Sugaring Set Up

With just a few warm(ish) days, the snow pack has melted significantly since Kirk first dug out a place for the fire pit on the patio back in February:

And, as you can see, Kirk set up the fire pit and our evaporator system to start boiling sap today. Last year we used any old bricks we had lying around for the floor, but today Kirk bought some fire bricks for an upgrade:

Now the cinderblock box has a fireproof floor to protect the patio and an inner wall to protect the cinderblocks. It makes the area for firewood smaller, but I think it's better insulated, so it produces just as much heat.

This is normally a weekend project, but Kirk had off today, so he decided to get a jump on boiling our first 7 gallons of sap before more sleet and snow arrive over the weekend.
We cannot catch a break on the weather.
Despite the fact that it is still most definitely winter, we're slowly but surely getting our spring projects underway. As I write this, the sap is on the cusp of becoming sy…

Getting Started

I apologize if you're bored of reading about the weather, but that's kind of all there is to talk about right now. I guess you can just take a break and come back in May? (I wouldn't mind doing that in life, thank you very much.)
Though today was cold and blustery as per usual this winter, yesterday was amazing: sunny and 55 beautiful degrees!
So we shoveled the remaining 32 inches of snow off the lettuce bed:

You can see by the way that Kirk's feet aren't sinking into the soil that the ground is still frozen. We've had a lot of melting in the past few days, though, and we are hoping to speed along bed prep by getting rid of the snow so the soil can dry out more quickly. We lose the insulating power of the snow in trade, but once the snow is gone completely we'll put the cold frames on that spot and speed up the warming through the magic of glass.

This snow is now heavy and icy, and there's still plenty of it. I'm sure this won't be the last be…

Chicken Update

It's been another, shall we say, brisk day. It was just 5 degrees outside when I left the house this morning, and it didn't get out of the 20s today despite brilliant sunshine.


Lots of people have been asking how the chickens fare in all the snow and cold.

They're fine. Here's proof:

As you can see, there's still plenty of snow in the garden, though the ice you hear crunching on the path is almost all gone. The chickens came out the day Kirk shot this video, but when it gets below 20 or so they tend to stay inside the coop. They also don't like snow on their feet, so we try to keep the run at least a little shoveled out for them. You can also see that Kirk threw down some wood shavings for them to walk on. 
The inside of the coop is fairly warm, if you're a chicken. Remember, they have a light in there, and it adds a fair amount of heat during the coldest part of the night since it's an incandescent bulb. The heating pan for their water also add…

Digging Out The Maple Tree

Last Sunday we decided it was time to tap the maple tree. A look ahead at the weather showed that this week would bring above-freezing temperatures for at least a few hours most days, and that means that the sap should start to run. Last year we waited until March 8, but I think we missed the earliest sap that yields the really pale amber syrup. This year we thought we'd try to get an earlier start.
But first, some digging:

It's hard to gauge in the photo with all the whiteness, but I am standing in the path to our front door, looking over some steps carved into the snow and across a path that Kirk (mostly) cleared to the tree. The snow here is still 24 to 30 inches deep, and it wasn't easy to shovel as it is now compacted into an icy block.

If you look closely, you can see Kirk shoveling behind the tree. In the end, he couldn't get all the way around to complete the circle because the snow on the north side of the tree is really frozen solid. We managed to make enoug…

Cat on a Cold, Snowy Roof

We're all a little stir-crazy here in snowy New England, even the cat:

That's Fletch, looking like he's ready to pounce on any intruders from his perch on the roof of our side porch. We're not quite sure if he used a snow bank to help in his climb or just leapt up from the fence, but the poor guy must be incredibly bored. The only places for him to go are through our few shoveled paths, and his neighborhood prowls are pretty much impossible with all the snow on the ground. Hunting hasn't been great, either (though he did leave us half a mouse a couple days ago, so that's something). 

I love how in this photo Fletch looks like he's working on his vicious bobcat impression. Kirk, who caught Fletch on the roof while feeding the chickens, said that he was actually just mid-yawn. Still, I wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley.

This looks like he's liking the drips off an icicle. I will never understand how or where that cat gets enough to drink,…