My Green Thumb Girl

I was using old magazines and newspapers to pack up glassware. My girl slipped a seed catalog out of the mix and settled in for a good read. The gardening bug hits early around here! :)


Liebster Award

One of my new favorite blogs, Country Road Abode, recently nominated me for a Liebster Award! It is an informal way for bloggers to learn more about each other, discover new blogs, and perhaps gain a few new readers in the process. I have always been a fan of those silly personality surveys on social networking sites, so I had a ton of fun filling this out and reading the answers of other nominees.

The general ‘rules’ for accepting a Liebster Award:

1. Post the award on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.

3. Write 11 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers.

5. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions. 

Here goes!

1. What's your favorite thing about where you live?
It’s very difficult to pick just one- Maine is wonderful! I love the terrain, with its vast forests, rolling hills, mountains, and lakes. Autumn is gorgeous, and summer has warm days but cool nights. I also love that even the ‘big’ cities are pretty small.

2. What is your favorite post you've ever written? (leave a link!)
Simple is as Simple Does, which is about how the 'simple life' is anything but.  

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I have notebooks of poetry from when I was just eight years old, complete with acceptance speeches for, I don’t know, my Pulitzer? I apparently thought very highly of my ‘work’.

4. What was the first blog you started reading?
Orangette. I loved it so much, I went back and read it from the very beginning. It's actually what inspired me to start my own food blog.
5. What movie do you think should have a sequel?

Big Night. It’s one of my favorite movies, and, though I adore the way it ends, I would love to see what happens later on.

6. If you could be a member of any TV-sitcom family or group, which would it be?
The Andy Griffith Show, though not necessarily a member of the family, just a resident in the town. I had originally thought Father Knows Best, as it's one of my all-time favorites, but I think I might go insane if Betty was my sister.

7. What's your favorite song?    

Yikes! I know it’s cheating, but I cannot pick just one- anything by Glenn Miller.

8.  What is the worst job you've ever had?

Customer Service Rep for an insurance company. Eight hours a day on the phone talking to doctor’s offices. I do not like being on the phone, especially when forced to talk to people I don’t know who are frustrated and rude. As an absolute introvert, this was pretty much my worst nightmare.

9. Do you collect anything?
This is probably really strange, but I sort of collect boxes. I like vintage-y, interesting ones that look like they should hold tiny treasures, like an old pocket watch, some foreign coins and a string of pearls. Their the kind of boxes you would see in a movie, tucked into the corner of an attic and covered in dust, most certainly containing a mysterious journal or old family photographs.

10. What is the best compliment anyone has ever given you?

Do you have any idea how much you inspire me?? You are my idol. When I grow up and get married I wanna be just like YOU.” From my sister-in-law, and yes, it made me cry. J

11. How far away from your birthplace do you live now?

About three hours.

11 Random Facts About Me:  

1. I LOVE Frank’s Hot Sauce, especially when pregnant.
2. I am mildly obsessed with the color purple.
3. I would much rather buy a book used than new, especially if it’s from a dusty local book shop.
4. I’ve pretty much had the same hair style since ninth grade.
5. I have always owned at least one cat for my entire life.
6. I don’t wear make-up, except on special occasions.
7. I have traveled to Ireland, England, Italy, Mexico, Scotland, and Canada.
8. I am very passionate about natural pregnancy and childbirth, and spend a great deal of time researching.
9. Roller coasters make me cry.
10. I have HATED the game hide and seek for as long as I can remember. I cannot stand jumpy-outy things and being snuck up on.
11. I am really good at spelling words backwards.

My 11 Nominees:

(I’m not sure how to tell if they have less than 200 followers unless it’s displayed on their page, so some of these are assumptions.)

2. Life as a Trigonometric Function

My 11 questions to the new nominees:

1. What made you decide to begin blogging?
2. If you could switch places with someone for a day, who would it be?
3. Where would you most like to travel?
4. What is your fondest memory involving food?
5. What is your favorite book?
6. Who do you consider a role model?
7. If you won a million dollars, what is the first thing you would buy?
8. What is your favorite hobby or pasttime?
9. What is your favorite meal?
10.What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?
11. What is one thing you would change about your life?

So there you have it! It's been a lot of fun putting this together, and I can't wait to read the responses! Thanks again for the nomination, Country Road Abode! 


Buckwheat Pancakes

If you are still here and don’t follow my Facebook page, then you may have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months. 

My husband and I are, of course, over the moon!! I am currently 17 weeks, nearly halfway there already! I started a separate blog called On the Nest to document my pregnancy. I don't update it as often as I would like, but be sure to head over and subscribe if you are interested in what a whole food, natural pregnancy looks like.

   A quick recipe for you!

These buckwheat pancakes are so good! They taste a bit like gingerbread, and I think would be amazing with a hefty pinch of pumpkin spice seasoning. I love them because they are quick, fantastically healthy, and make an awesome toddler breakfast. 

I’m still on the fence about wheat, so I really like that these contain only buckwheat flour, which is technically an herb. One cup of buckwheat flour has a whopping 23 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber, and 98% of your daily value for magnesium. Add to that substantial amounts of iron, B-6 and potassium, and you have a veritable superfood that you can feel great about feeding to your growing children. 

I warn you, however, that buckwheat has a slight green hue. This is enhanced by the addition of blueberries. So if you have a picky eater, they may initially be wary of these. But swiped with a good amount of pastured butter and doused with a hefty splash of mineral-rich maple syrup, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone sticking their nose up at these. 

Buckwheat Pancakes

2 cups buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons real maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut oil or melted butter

Set a large skillet over medium heat. We’re letting it get hot while we mix up the batter.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Whisk well.

In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet into the dry and combine thoroughly. As this recipe is gluten-free, there is no need to worry about over-mixing!

If desired, fold in a cup or two of berries. I used 1 ½ cups frozen wild Maine blueberries.

Melt a pat of butter in the preheated pan and spread it around. I use a large cookie scoop to pour the batter, which is about ¼ cup, but feel free to make whatever size pancake you desire.

Cook for a few minutes, or until the edges just begin to look dry, then flip and cook for a few minutes more. You can place cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm. (But be sure not to forget about them, as they will dry out fairly quickly.)


New Year Goals, and Oatmeal

Hey y'all! (Oh, I wish I were Southern and could get away with saying that...) Well, it's almost 2014, can you believe it? No one can, though it happens every year. It's all "how quickly time flies" and "where did the year go?" Reminds me of Mainers complaining how cold and snowy it is every December. Umm, this is MAINE, people. Get over it. :)

I don't do resolutions. Resolutions are usually unrealistic and hardly ever achieved (like couch-potatoes vowing to start running every day and lose 20 pounds...it just ain't gonna happen). I believe in goals- solid, attainable To-Dos for the following year. I have slowly chipped away at my Thirty Things to Do Before Thirty list, but seeing as I only have two years left, I am repeating some of those on my 2014 Goals. 

  • Install lights in the chicken coops
  • Move worm farm to larger container to allow for expansion
  • Look into more solid fencing for chicken run
  • Try pressure canning
  • Begin grinding own grains
  • Learn how to ferment/sprout grains
  • Create a sustainable, realistic menu planning routine
  • Try out Cornish rocks for meat birds
  • Get published, even just in a local newsletter 
  • Get my driver's license
  • Create and maintain a garden
  • Bake a successful souffle 
  • Make homemade, healthy-ish chocolate eclairs
  • Work on paying off debt

2013 was a wonderful year. My baby girl went from a little infant who had trouble sitting up unassisted to a bonafide toddler running around the house. My husband got so many promotions I lost track, and is now in the long overdue team lead position. Our livestock grew from 5 chickens to 22, then down to 19 (dang raccoon), from 1 coop to 2. Patrick practiced harvesting on our 3 test meat birds- it went both better and worse than expected. We delved further down the rabbit hole of whole foods, incorporating things into our diet such a probiotics, fermented cod liver oil, raw milk, and soaked grains. My very first niece was born in February, and should be walking any day now (!!!). This year I also spoke more to my father than I think I have my whole life; we have had our issues, but 2013 marked a true breakthrough in our relationship. We grew tomatoes and peppers without really trying, started a rhubarb plant and strawberry bush, and realized we have wild raspberries on our land.          

Over the next week, I will be working on a full blown blog overhaul. It may or may not involve a migration to a different server (Wordpress, perhaps?), but it will definitely mean a lot of glitches and missing pages. So please excuse the mess around here for a little while.

 Do you have any goals for 2014? Let me know in the comments below, or pop on over to my Facebook page and let's chat!

Maple Blueberry Apple Oatmeal
or Mabluappmeal
Serves 1

This isn't so much a recipe as an idea, but it was too good not to share.

Maple syrup (preferably Grade B, which is more flavorful and nutritious)
Apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
Blueberries (preferably wild), about 1/3 cup
Unsalted butter
Sea salt

Preheat a skillet over medium heat. I love my cast iron for all things fried or sauteed. Or maybe just for all things.

Add a tablespoon or so of butter. Once it melts and begins to bubble, add the apples and blueberries. Stir to coat. Let the fruits cook for...a while? Like I said, not much of a recipe. I sauteed the mixture until the apple juuustt slightly resisted a prod from a fork.

Now add in a couple good dashes of cinnamon and a glug of maple syrup, maybe one good swirl over the fruit. It should hiss a little as it hits the pan. This is good. That sound means caramelization, a cook's favorite word.

Let it all bubble and simmer for a few minutes, until most of the liquid is gone. Now sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and spoon atop your morning oatmeal.

Best Ever Oatmeal
Serves 1

I know, oatmeal is pretty darn basic. But I find that this particular combination of ingredients creates the perfect bowl of porridge, creamy but not mouth-coating, sweet but not cloying. 

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut sugar, sucanat, or brown sugar
Pinch salt
Dash cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. The temperature is important here- cooked too fast and your oats will still be a bit crunchy, too slow and your mush will be exceptionally, well, mushy. I have an electric stove with knobs that range from 1 to 10, and I find 3/4 to be the sweet spot.

Stir often, until the oatmeal does not immediately rush in to fill the spot left when you scrape the spoon across the bottom of the pan. We want the mixture to lose its immediate liquid-ness, but not be so dry as to become a clump. I hope that makes sense!

Remove from heat and serve.

Note: I know oats should ideally be soaked, but I cannot ever seem to remember that the night before.


Homemade Laundry Soap

A friend recently asked how I make my laundry soap, so I thought I would just give her the link to my blog post. Then I realized I don’t have one... How could I have missed that! Homemade laundry soap is so easy; it’s kind of like a gateway drug to simple living. It is incredibly cheap, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. You only need to make a big batch every few months, so it’s not even remotely time-consuming. Once you do something as liberating as break away from the chemical monstrosity that is commercial detergent, there is no stopping you. Baking bread? Homemade toothpaste? No problem! You just made your own laundry detergent, for crying out loud.

I have two ‘recipes’ that I alternate between, depending on the amount of free time at my disposal. One is a powder- it’s much quicker, but requires a food processor (followed by the cleaning of said processor). The other is a liquid- more steps involved, but no food processor. While I love my food processor (thanks mom!), it does require a bit of finagling to properly clean. When you have a little toddler running around, those few extra minutes at the sink can make all the difference. The recipe today is the powdered version.

This leaves your clothes smelling like, well, nothing. If you are used to the overpowering odor of scented detergents such as Tide, you may be surprised. These days, unless your clothes smell like a Spring Meadow and your kitchen like Vanilla Sugar Sparkle, then you must be living in filth and despair. Fragrances are rampant in our society, and they are nothing but harsh chemicals that hardly ever smell like what they advertise. (I’m pretty sure a spring meadow smells like wet dirt and frogs. And sparkles wish they smelled as good as sequins. Losers.) They cause and exacerbate allergies, headaches, and skin disorders, and most of the time only serve to cover up the bad smells instead of actually getting rid of them.

Even if you don’t care about the danger of chemical fragrances, or how the ingredients look more like a laboratory experiment for explosives, or even how all those lovely additives wreak havoc on the environment, I still hope you will try making your own laundry soap. If you’ve ever loaded up the washer only to discover you’re out of detergent. If you want the ease of using just a few ingredients for your ENTIRE cleaning arsenal (post coming soon!). If you want to simplify your life, and be able to count on your own skills instead of Walmart. Today is the day, my friends. ::cue epic music:: Onwards!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Unfortuntely, I have not counted how many loads each batch makes. It's a lot, though, trust me. I use it for our clothes (inlcuding baby's, since there's no additives to irritate sensitive skin) and cloth diapers (which are washed every other day), and I go through a batch in maybe three months.  

The soap here should be the most basic you can find. Fels Naptha is acceptable and does a good job, however it does contain some questionable ingredients. I prefer my homemade coconut oil soap, though something like Dr. Bronner's* or Kirk's* castile bar soap would probably work great, too. 

Lastly, there is some question as to the safety/necessity of borax. I have done my research and feel comfortable using it on my clothes and linens. I also feel it that adds additional cleaning power. If you would prefer to skip the borax, simply replace it with an additional 3 cups washing soda. 

3 4.5 ounce bars of soap 
3 cups washing soda
3 cups borax

Chop the bars of soap and scrape into the bowl of your food processor. Process until it looks like tiny pebbles or very coarse crumbs.

Add in the washing soda and process again until the mixture is uniformly powdered. (My mixer is too small to hold the whole recipe, but if yours is able, you can add all the ingredients in at this point, and skip the next step.)

Pour the washing soda/soap mix to a very large bowl and add the borax. Either whisk thoroughly or pop a lid onto the bowl and shake shake shake!

Transfer to your desired container and label. I use an old metal tea tin.
  • Use 2-4 scoops per load. 
  • For additional grease-cutting power, add a few drops pure lemon essential oil to the wash.  
  • Either add 1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar to the final rinse cycle, or simply pour it into the softener compartment in your washer. The vinegar helps soften the laundry naturally, normalized the pH, and helps rinse away soap residue. 

* If you decide to buy any of these products at Vitacost, please click through using this link. If you purchase more than $30 worth of items, both you AND I will receive a $10 credit. It's a win-win!  

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be from an affiliate, meaning I make a very small percentage of money if you buy the item (at no cost to you!). I truly appreciate every cent that your purchase contributes, as it helps me keep this blog running. Teach Me Tuesday

This post is linked up to My Turn for Us' Freedom Fridays, Our Heritage of Health's Old-Fashioned Friday, Teach Me Tuesday