Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come On Irene

Well, we're getting ready for the hurricane to hit us tomorrow.  After the 6 day power outage when the last one hit, well, I gotta say, I'm not psyched for this one at all.  We also have a basement that requires two sump pumps, which in turn requires power, and well, if we get as much rain as we're forecasted to get...We seriously need to get a generator, it's becoming more and more necessary here in New England.  The weather is so unpredictable these days, it's disconcerting to say the least.  Perhaps in our new house, we'll try to figure out something smaller solar so that at least we can power the absolute necessary on days when the power goes out.  We do have a well pump, sump pumps that need to run, a furnace when that's needed and a freezer full of hundreds of dollars worth of our hard-gotten food.  Yes, we need some alternative form of power for those harsh days.

I just went out to the garden to harvest the last of the tomatoes.  Some of them are still green, but they will ripen off the vine, so it's all good.  We're forecast for up to 70mph gusts and I'm thinking the delicate romas, which barely cling to the vine as it is, will be scattered to the four winds if I leave them out there.  So, today will be some prep for me for this storm.  I'm going to clean the chicken coop out well (I do it at least once a month anyways when they are spending most of their days outside), but since they'll be trapped in there all day tomorrow, I figured I would make it nice and cozy for them to weather out the storm.  I just hope they don't pig pile in a corner and crush each other like one of the other severe thunderstorms we had.  Just praying that the coop will stay put and they will be okay.  I'll be glad to get them more permanently attached to the building at the new house.

Speaking of new house...things are slowly rolling along.  We had one last crew come out to check on whether they could get the barn done for our modest budget.  That's 5 contractors that have come out now.  One could do it for our budget, but not until February (it's got to be done before closing, no options there because of the mortgage company requirements), the other 3 said nope, can't do it for that price.  Then my realtor found a crew of 3 guys who are qualified and hungry and said they could do it for the allotted cash.  Their written proposal should be coming in to the sellers today, so we'll be making the final decision on the barn by the end of the weekend.  We're running out of time so we've got to get the decision made now.   I never thought one old barn could cause so much worry and stress. 

Our realtor, who is also a very good friend of our family's, has been utterly and completely AMAZING through this entire process.  He's renovated old homes, barns and carriage sheds and his knowledge has been a God-send.  And he's been there for us 150% of the way through this whole process.  Just amazing.  We've had other realtors that were horrible in the buying and selling of past homes, he is by far and away , the best.  We are blessed to have him on the journey with us, someone is looking out for us with his guiding hand for sure. 

So, I'll update more on the progress with the house as time goes on. Today is the septic inspection, another check written out for more inspections and such.  We've got an appraisal to schedule as well, which will be another large check, and we've paid for the home inspection already also.  I find it so amazing (and truthfully absurd) the amount of money you have to pay out before you even sign on the dotted line, then all the closing costs and then proceed to hand them the hard earned down payment.  Wow, oh wow, thousands and thousands of dollars before you even get to the down payment.

Well, if the power's out, I may not be back for a bit.  Hopefully in the pleasantness of summer it wouldn't take the power crews as long to get it back on, but depends on the tree damage I guess.  Stay safe everyone! 

Riding out the storm, ~Peacemom 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Much Hope

This is the south side of the barn on the house we are buying.  It's got warts...great big ones. Unfortunately, after two structural engineers looked at it along with countless contractors, it appears there's not much hope of saving it.  It has seen 110 years in it's long and productive life. 

It's a true post and beam, not the bolted kind that just uses the bolts and brackets, but the real deal.  Most of the beams are in phenomenal shape for a barn of this age and life, all it's lines are clean and square.  But somewhere along the way, an owner allowed large holes to form in the roof and years of water damage have sent some of these beams to need to be replaced or reinforced.  That's before the new rafters, sub roof and roofing need to go on.  This barn is quite large, and the roof alone is cost prohibitive, but needing structural work is beyond our means.  It's very savable, but not for us financially.  As it's been for sale for over a year, no one else seems to want to tackle it. We're so incredibly sad to be having to make this decision.  It's a true piece of American history, and certainly one we're sure our little agricultural town would love to see saved.  We wanted to make it into a space where friends and musicians could gather and enjoy music together in a wondeful atmosphere, something Music Man has always wanted.  And a dream I really want to help him realize.

Short of a miracle windfall, we don't see how it's possible to save it.

Very sad today, ~Peacemom

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This is the harvest of peaches from our little peach tree.  And I do mean little!  We managed to get a bunch of them harvested after noticing that the birds were beginning to enjoy them, too.  So, peach and pecan pancakes with the real maple syrup for dinner was called for!  They were quite yummy, we all gobbled them right up.
Today, Maestro and I canned about 90 of them and got 6 1/2 pints of peaches put up for winter (did I mention they are little peaches?). The 1/2 pint we'll eat now, and one of them cracked during processing, which is a sad bummer.  It's never a nice site to see your hard earned, hard work processed peaches floating in the water bath canner when you take the lid off.  Ah well, we're 5 pints closer to cozy for the winter, so it's all good.  Next, I'll probably get some from the local orchard and do a few more quarts to keep us going.  Can't wait for apples and pears to come soon.  We have apple trees busting with apples this year, making me wonder if it's going to be a long, snowy winter. Often the trees know how to produce more food for the animals before we are even thinking about it.

All in all a fun day canning with my son, havesting with the family last night and eating some delicious pancakes. 

Wishing you sweet sunwarmed peaches on your tree, ~Peacemom

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moving Forward

This is the side view of the house we're wanting to buy...we're working out things with the current owners to make it ours.  It's a foreclosure, hence the totally overgrown landscaping.  It's a great house that needs a lot of work...the post & beam barn is the biggest hurdle right now.  It needs a new roof and a lot of interior flooring work, but otherwise, it's got great bones.  We're still hoping that it's going to be ours.  Financing is in place.  Meetings with contractors are beginning, the kitchen needs to be gutted and redone and lots of interior stuff, window framing, new flooring, walls moved.  It will be the project we've been wanting for a very long time.  And a place to raise our boys and a home to be our own.

Home, sweet home, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heirloom Salsa

Oh yah Baby!  This is the stuff!  Salsa from the garden, most delicious...just in case you wanted to try your own, here's my recipe:

3 large tomatoes (I used Gold Brandywine, Beefsteak, and a few Juliettes)
1/2 med onion
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and rib removed (if you prefer HOT salsa, leave them in, I'm a mild kind of girl myself)
Fresh Parsley (to taste, everyone's different, and it you like cilantro, well by all means throw that in too)
small amount of salt (to taste again, perhaps you don't need salt, but I like a little bit)
squeeze of lime juice from 1/2 lime

Chop, mix, enjoy!  We ate it with multigrain tortilla chips, then had the inspiration for chicken, cheddar, bean & salsa quesadillas.  I'm telling you, nothing oh nothing you can buy in a store tastes as good as this fresh from the vine salsa. 

Happy taste buds to you, ~Peacemom

Sunday, August 7, 2011


This is today's bounty from our modest garden.  Amazing.  This picture is not truly showing how gorgeous all the different colors of heirloom tomatoes are that are coming from that little plot.  I'm very thankful to my friend for starting these in her greenhouse many months ago and hosting a plant sale with them.  They taste utterly and completely amazing.  Even my sister, who is not a tomato fan, lavished praise on them and how good they are.  I'm feeling humbled by all the wonderful food that is coming out of a bit of effort and some sweat equity.

I went to the grocery store today.  I really don't enjoy this chore much anymore.  Since we've become mostly local foodies, it's a bit more then insanity to me that we have to have so many choices for everything.  I walked down the cracker aisle to find the whole wheat crackers I get for the boys for their snack. Today instead of just looking for the familiar plain brown box, grabbing and moving on to the next thing on my list, I actually stood there in stunned disbelief.  I felt like for the first time in a long time I had really noticed what goes on in those stores.  I was actually a bit flabbergasted by all the immense excess.  And felt wholly just how unnecessary I feel it is.  Do we really NEED 24 different types of wheat crackers?  There were 9 different brands of cheddar cheese, and may more varieties.  And multitudes of companies making yogurt...and types of yogurt.  I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed by it all. 

At the grocery store, especially this bountiful time of year, I buy mostly dry goods and staple items...rice, flour, sugar, Cheez Its.  You'll just have to trust me on this one, Cheez Its are considered a staple by my wonderful husband.  "Do you need anything at the grocery store?" posed to him is invariably followed by ", just Cheez Its".  They are their own food group for him.  But, my cart contained some watermelon that we can't get locally and a few bananas, which though not local are a treat from time to time.  That was it for fresh produce.  That's because I belong to 2 local food CSA's, NHCSA and Field to Fork Farm.  But, on top of that, I'm so happy to be harvesting my own food as well. 

I went to the garden with shears in hand to pick a few tomatoes.  Well, above is what I came out of the garden with!  I also have a lot more jalapenos ready, but I'm trying to stretch them out until the red bell peppers are ready so I can make some of my pepper jelly for my hubby and family.  My sister really enjoys that and has already requested a jar.  It makes colorful Christmas gifts.... But as I was digging in the soil to uncover the first of the year's red potatoes, I felt humbled.  One, that I'm able to grow food to sustain my family is an awesome feeling.  It is a real sense of accomplishment to know that we would not go hungry no matter what the circumstance.  If there is ground, and seeds, and water, I can grow food. 

I also felt humbled to be able to share those skills with my boys.  Maestro was in the garden with me, asking lots of questions and harvesting tomatoes (which he promptly ate 5 of immediately, that's the kind of snack I love giving him!).  I explained why we don't want the sunlight to reach the potatoes, why we need to pull the half eaten tomato a hornworm found off the vine so as not to sap the strength from the plant for no reason, and that the zucchini that went from blossom to 4 inches long in the span of 2 days is not quite ready to be picked.  He asked some great and thoughtful questions.  Ah, homeschooling at it's best.  I'm not sure what better way I can prepare them for life that learning how to grow and cook their own food.  The pure joy that comes from that experience and sense of satisfaction they accomplish is immeasurable.

We talked about making salsa today.  I had to explain to him I don't have any cilantro (REALLY dislike the flavor if that particular herb), but do have some parsley, so we'll make it with that.  It won't taste like store bought, but to be perfectly honest with you, that's more then okay with me.  Maestro's idea for the first new potatoes was some homemade clam chowder.  I am so happy to be able to tell him, that's a great idea!  And just about all the ingredients for that are going to be local for us.  Music Man just went to pick up our two gallons of raw milk from the CSA and they supply us with the world's best bacon to go in it as well.  I'll use the potatoes harvested right from our ground and shallots from my friend's garden and corn from a local farm stand I picked up on my way home from the grocery store.  Sounds like an amazing idea, Maestro! 

Sure glad you thought of it.

Wishing you a basket full of your own hard work, ~Peacemom

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh, The Times, They Are A Changin'

All I'm gonna say about this -for fear of jinxing it- is this...our family may finally have a place to call our own home.  Negotiations are being made, financing figured out, inspections done...we're in love with this place, and it's not just the amazing front wrap around porch, either.  More to come in another post if there's more to tell.  For now, we're hopeful it's the place to make our dreams, combined and individual, come true.  We'll see what happens.  Please send prayers our way. 

Hoping beyond hope, ~Peacemom