Sunday, October 23, 2016

Baking Bread on Sunday

What a wonderful day.I spent this autumn Sunday catching up on neglected paperwork and chores. I also spent it baking bread.  This delicious bread recipe by Alexandra's Kitchen is easy enough for me to bake successfully each time I try it. My kitchen smells of homemade bread. I feel obligated to pass it on to you.

6 Ingredient Recipe

This Peasant Bread recipe only requires 6 ingredients that (except for the yeast) even I keep on hand.

  • flour
  • salt
  • yeast
  • water
  • sugar
  • butter
I cannot claim any part of creating this wonderful recipe but I can lead you to Alexandra's Kitchen. Not only can you find this wonderful Peasant bread recipe there, she also provides photographs and videos that lead you step-by-step through the process. Including how to proof the yeast.

Someone, namely me, is thrilled to have these step-by-step baking tutorials at my fingertips. You may find the site as helpful as I do. And if you are at all inclined to bake easy bread, you may find this recipe as wonderful as I do.

Additional Recipe Sites

There are many healthy, easy, and fun recipes on Review This! A group of contributors provide a variety of recipes and food fun. You will also find kitchen gadget reviews and cooking tips.

Recipes For Real People provides recipes for those of us who need easy recipes with fewer and easy-to-find ingredients. I have been thankful for these quick and easy meal ideas.

Culinary Favorites from A - Z is a site that provides recipes, cookbook reviews, and introduces us to top-rated kitchen tools.

If you plan on Cooking for the Holidays, this site is for you. Holiday and celebration recipes and ideas, festive drinks, and holiday table settings are the focus of this site. 

At Sam's Place you will find a variety of things that Sam enjoys. Including delicious recipes. Some of the recipes he shares are family recipes passed down to Sam and then to us. I have to say, however, I'm partial to his grilling recipes.

The opening photo design is created courtesy of FotoJet using my own photograph of today's Peasant Bread

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wordless (almost) Wednesday - The Slope

This is a panoramic view from The Shack deck - looking North (give or take).  The yard slopes steeply from the road down into the woods. I feel like I am on top of the world, looking down on creation when I am there. And it is a beautiful thing. 

Planning and dreaming of small house placement, gardens, chicken coop, fruit trees, and so much more. 

(Photo by WLS)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pawpaw Fruit Smoothie

Just this weekend I tasted pawpaw fruit for the first time.  And I loved it!  So of course, in addition to eating them with a spoon straight out of their peels, I had to try a pawpaw smoothie.  This fruity-sweet smoothie was delicious!


  • one ripe pawpaw (seeds and peel removed)
  • 5-6 mint leaves from my mint plant 
  • approximately 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • approximately 1 cup of frozen berries (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry mix)
  • approximately 1/2 cup of spinach leaves
  • three ice cubes
  • and water to the fill line

I don't really measure my smoothie ingredients as I just throw the items into the cup by handfuls. You can adjust the amounts based on your mood as I do.

The pawpaw created the most silky and creamy smoothie I've ever made. I completely understand why people choose to make pawpaw ice cream. I may have to try that soon. 

Related Links:

I love my NutriBullet and feel better when I have fruit or green smoothies on a regular basis.  You can read my NutriBullet review on ReviewThis!

Sun Nurseries is where I purchased and tasted my first pawpaw. You can read about that adventure here. You will also find a little blurb, and a link to follow, about high level of vitamins and minerals found in pawpaws. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pawpaw Taste Test

Pawpaw fruit on a seedling tree
For some time I have seriously considered planting pawpaw trees on my four acres. Before I purchased this land, and was in the daydreaming stages of what my homestead might look like, I seriously considered Pawpaw trees. The only thing that held me back was the fact that I had no idea what pawpaws tasted like. Today, I tasted pawpaws for the first time and the decision is made - I will plant paw paw trees on my land as a delicious step to increased self-sufficiency.

What is a Pawpaw (Paw paw) Tree?

A pawpaw is a fruit tree native to much of North America - zones 5 -7 (areas with cold winters and warm summers) 

The fruit is in the "custard apple" family. And tastes of banana, papaya, and some say of melon

They are nutritious, with high levels of Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and other important vitamins and minerals

In it's native habitat, the paw paw tree has few pests 

The zebra swallowtail butterfly larvae feeds exclusively on pawpaw leaves - but not in large or destructive numbers

Deer tend to feed only on the fruit; leaving the trees and branches alone - making the tree deer resistant

The fruit do not travel well commercially or last longer than several days when fully ripe.  This is why you may never have seen pawpaws in grocery stores

(information gathered from Sun Nurseries Pawpaws and Kentucky State University Pawpaw planting guide)

Public Domain Photo by Manuel.conde 

My Pawpaw Adventure

I love Sun Nurseries and discovered it early this past spring.  It is a bit of drive to get to it, so I don't go as often as I would like. But when I realized they had Pawpaws for sale, I made plans to drive over.

I'm so glad I did. As usual, the Sun Nurseries staff were amazingly friendly and helpful.  I bought a pawpaw, they gave me a plastic spoon, and I went outside and sat on the gazebo step as I prepared to eat my first pawpaw.

I had brought my own knife, and I was a bit surprised by the spoon. As soon as I cut the top off the fruit, I realized that the spoon was pretty important.

The cold (it had been refrigerated), sweet, yellow fruit was very soft. In fact, the texture reminded me of flan.  The taste was a combination of subtle banana and papaya...with the fresh coolness of melon.  

When I was finished, I wrapped up the seeds (to avoid littering) and stuck them in my bag. I was glad I did. The staff told me that I could plant the seeds if I'd like - since I'm not in a rush to have mature trees quickly.  The seeds information was good news.  I was worried that the seedling plants they offered for sale would be too large to get safely from Maryland to my land in West Virginia. Sure, the trees could sit on the front seat of the Jeep and poke out the sun rider roof, but the wind would surely cause great damage to the tree.

You can bet I'll be planting my pawpaw seeds and trying to grow my own sweet, soft, wonderful fruit and/or trying to find a way to transport a seedling tree up to my land.

Related Links:

An article about my first trip to Sun Nurseries.  If you are in the Maryland area and are looking for a wonderful place to see, consider, and purchase plants, shrubs, trees, roses, garden benches, fountains, boulder owls, and so much more... Sun Nurseries is your best bet. Definitely worth a drive. Each time I've been there, the staff are friendly, helpful, and they go above and beyond to make sure you are a happy customer. Each time I go, I wander around for hours; planning my future outdoor space, listening to the birds, sitting near the fountains, and watching the butterflies.         

The Shack is where I'll plant my pawpaw trees and where someday I'll live a country and more self-sufficient life.  I think pawpaw trees will be a great addition to that little piece of land.  I think the perfect spot will be where the "yard" meets the woods - near MY other trees (It still excites me to call them "my" trees!).

In my search for pawpaw recipes, I've found this book.  Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit has been added to my wishlist.

Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shipping Containers - Tiny Home Option

Two 20 feet shipping containers
I am still trying to decide the best option for housing on my land. I've looked at modulars, RV's, log cabins and more. Today, I went to look at shipping containers.  The idea of using shipping containers as homes is hard to imagine for some people. But I've seen plenty of examples of beautiful living spaces that began as a shipping container.

Baltimore - An Endless Supply of Shipping Containers

A good thing about living just barely outside of Baltimore City is that it is a port city. And shipping containers come in an endless supply.  Not long ago, my daily commute included driving past a shipping container and temporary office company.  So today, I stopped by there.  What I had in mind was checking out the price of one of those "mobile office" boxes.  I was thinking that if I choose to tear down The Shack and replace it with something that takes a bit to build, I'd have shelter in one of these little offices (imagine a small guard shack - the small offices are similar to those).  One of those small mobile offices should be easy to haul on to and off of my property.  Or I could use it for a shed when I'm finished living in it. Right? 

But that thinking was derailed as soon as I walked into the Wilmot Modular Structures office and met Lori.  

Lori was thrilled to talk to someone who didn't think using a shipping container as housing was odd.  In fact, she'd love to have her own shipping container home.  But that's her story and she should tell you her story. Back to mine.  I told her that I had considered shipping containers for a home, but I was too inexperienced to cut the windows and doors, and such.

"We do that for you" she said. And she happily showed me a shipping container that was being worked on and the plans she has worked up for several other shipping container abodes. 

I apologize to you that my only photograph of my adventure today was of a pair of the "many trip" containers.  I wanted a reminder about size.  Which reminds me - Lori talked to me about making sure to purchase a "one trip" container. That is a container that has only been shipped to the states once. They are in almost new condition, as I could easily see. I just wish I had taken photos of some of the one trippers. 

My Piece of Land and Situation

We chatted about several of my concerns about my lot... the drive up to my lot is a major concern. The road is nicely maintained, but it is a gravel road with switchbacks.  Long loads may not make it past the curves. Also, my lot is steeply sloped.  A fork lift or crane may be hard to get down to my spot.  

But the great news is that I could stack two or three shipping containers on top of each other. And doing that would most certainly get me high enough to see over the top of my lot... giving me a 360 degree, long range view.  Ah, heaven. I could place a smaller container on top of a larger container, and have a second story patio.  I could do so many things with this.

Small Homes and Big Decisions

I have so many decisions to make. And I think I'm still leaning strongly toward the log cabin on wheels.  But the containers are exceedingly tempting. Especially when you read what others have to say about their shipping container homes.

If you are at all interested in shipping containers for living space there are several awesome video tours to see, but this video is a must see:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tiny House, Big Living Review

Tiny House, Big Living
I find that I've said "I don't know why I waited so long" in my reviews on more than one occasion. This is another occasion. I have purchased my very first television show from Amazon and I'm thrilled I did. I purchased episode 4 of Tiny House, Big Living season 1. I feel a series binge coming on and I am pausing just long enough to tell you about this show.

Tiny House, Big Living on HGTV

I have not had cable for awhile.  I've only had cable for a short stretch of time (about 2 1/2 years) over the past 10 years or so.  I despise paying that much money for such poor service. The price tag seems so high for what it is and they hike the price higher each year. Basically, the only reason I had cable for those couple of years was for a few specific channels.  HGTV was the primary channel I wanted to watch.

Somehow, I didn't see Tiny House, Big Living while I had cable. Perhaps it came out just after I disconnected cable.  I had watched shows (I can't recall which channels.) such as  Tiny House Nation, Treehouse Masters, and Tiny House Hunters. 

Today, I started to search Amazon for those shows. And I found Tiny House, Big Living instead.

Tiny House, Big Living Season 1 - Episode 4

I chose episode 4 because the photo showed a plain but attractive exterior and a metal roof.  Simple with a tin roof is along the lines of my preferred tiny home exteriors.  But rest assured, there is a variety of exteriors to choose from in this series.

In this episode we watch a dad help his young adult daughter build a tiny house on a frame.  Her goal was to have her own living space and to be debt free. His goal, among many including some ulterior motives, was for her to increase her ability to be independent through knowledge of home building. 

We watch as choices are made and the home goes up.  I loved their creativity, their choices for the interior, and how this young lady imagined an ingenious ladder system for her loft.

I will stop here. There's not much that can be said about a single episode without leaking some spoilers.  If you are interested in Tiny Homes and haven't seen Tiny Homes, Big Living you might want to give it a peek. 

Purchasing Television Shows and Movies From Amazon

In case I am not the only one who hasn't purchased television shows from Amazon I want to tell you how easy it is.

  • Search Amazon as you would for any other item
  • Search under the Television and Movies category
  • Choose your item and click the "buy" button
  • My episode opened immediately and I viewed it
  • When I returned to watch a second time, I located it in my account in Amazon - under "Your Video Library"
Happy watching!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Met an Eastern Hercules Beetle Today

I wasn't sure whether to scream or faint when I saw it lying there on the steps.  It was THE biggest, strangest, and most frightening beetle I've ever seen.  It was on its back with legs in the air.  I skittered past it quickly and hurried upstairs. However, once upstairs I felt sorry for the little creature on it's back - legs slowly pumping, useless in the air.  I took my camera, and righted the creature, taking enough photos to be able to identify it as a Scarab Beetle known as an Eastern Hercules Beetle.

What is a Scarab Beetle?

Other than carvings on Egyptian artifacts I had no clue what a Scarab Beetle was.  I had to look it up.  According to :


  1. any scarbaeid beetle, especially Scarabaeus sacer, regarded as sacred by the ancient Egyptians
  2.  a representation or image of a beetle, much used among the ancient Egyptions as a symbol, seal, amulet or the like.
  3.  a gen cut to resemble a beetle.

Ah, so that settles it. My visitor was a Scarabaeus sacer.  Except, I didn't know what that was either. So I had to look it up.  The Scarabaeus sacer, otherwise known as a Mediterranean Dung Beetle. Aha! I've seen those on television shows on nature channels.  Yes, Dung Beetles.  Except this prettily painted beetle was not plain black in color. So I had to look some more.

More about the Eastern Hercules Beetle

Hercules Beetles are in the Scarabaeidae family, which include June Beetles, Japaneese Beetles, and Dung Beetles. There we go, I have had some up-close-and-personal experiences with Japaneese and June Beetles.  

The Eastern Hercules Beetle is the largest.  And my visitor was a male as evidenced by his horns.  Mrs. Hercules has no horns and is a bit smaller.  Mr. Hercules can grow to almost 2 1/2 inches long.  

Their colors are varied.  When I look at just his color (and ignore that face and those legs) I am mesmerized. It looks like some sort of beautiful water colored Rorschack test.

Their life span includes egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. I will not share any photos of the eggs, larvae, and pupae because I do not find them at all endearing.  But the adult male - after a few minutes - I began to see him as pretty.  

The good news is, they are not considered pests and can be found both in Maryland and in West Virginia. If I keep my eyes open, I may see another Eastern Hercules Beetle at some point. 

Here are some children, some adorable children who are much more brave than I am. They were brave enough to hold their Mr. Hercules visitor in North Carolina:

My Hercules

I turned him over several times after moving him to the mulch, behind a shrub, and to the shade.  And when I checked on him later I found him belly-up again. And when I checked on him even later. It is a good possibility that he's at the end of his life cycle since they live for less than 6 months as an adult.

After my initial fright, I am glad to have seen this interesting beetle. My interest in scarabs has grown and apparently I am only catching up with many people who like these beetles.

A face only his momma can love

Scarab and Beetle Gifts, Clothing, and Jewelry:

I was aware that Scarabs were a part of Egyptian art and the carved gems are used for jewelry. I've always loved ladybugs. But I had no idea how currently popular Scarab and beetle items are.  And I MUST get the Book of Beetles: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred of Nature's Gems. If you are at all interested in beetles, you can see what this book has to offer in the "look inside" feature.  I can see that my visitor is not the only strange beetle in existence.

THE Book of Beetles

CowCow Women's Skater Dress - Beetles

Egyptian Sterling Silver Scarab Bracelet