Tilly's Tiny Family Farm
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2013 Blogs

September 28, 2013 Starting Off

After thinking too much about what to start off with, I decided to wing it. So let me tell you a bit about me and then you can think if we have any common ground. Married with a small passel of children, I spend my days schooling my child (another to start the program next year), writing, working at a local retail store, reading, gardening, cooking, baking (yep I separate the two), cleaning up after my small brood, and spending time with my family. I also collect frogs, love the color purple, and paint with acrylics. I am a part of 2 home businesses that are small, but hopefully growing. One deals with fixing computers and web design, while the other is woodworking and various crafts. Between my husband and I there is a various cornucopia of talents and knowledge. Jack and Jane of all trades, but alas, masters of ... a few. With my craft business, I have been learning new talents with the help of our wonderful local library. My newest interest is homemade soap, which I have yet to get all the equipment together for. I want to venture out on that new soap horizon, but every new talent or future disaster does require materials and equipment. For which I need to collect as I find what I need. For fun, look up soap molds.... oh my goodness! There are so many different ones I don't know how to choose. Maybe to start with frogs, we'll see. My major contribution to our craft business is hand painted garden rocks. Frogs, turtles, snakes, bumblebees, rainbow cootie bugs, ladybugs, and more. The smallest one I have ever made is the size of a pencil eraser. It was a very cute, red ladybug. And so I've started off my blog with a small bit of a lot of stuff. See you later alligator.
September 29, 2013 Recipes

I posted a few more recipes. I will post up pictures under each recipe as I make them again.
September 30, 2013 Farmer's Market

The wonderful, colorful, fresh produce; the knitted or crocheted baby booties and hats; hand made greeting cards; hand painted crafts; fresh baked yummies; and a variable cornucopia of goodies found at a Farmer's Market. More of which are popping up all over the place. Whether to make a few extra dollars as a hobby or enough to make a living, these markets give more to the community than they receive. Produce without chemicals and fun gifts or decorations you know will be unique. I love Farmer's Markets! I usually find organic green bell peppers for cheaper than the local grocery store, new varieties of tomatoes in colors I never imagined from heirloom plants, and beautiful quilts, cards, cutting boards, and other items. I have yet to regret any purchase I have ever made at a Farmer's Market. If its something that interests me enough, I will see if its something I can grow or make myself. I have noticed a lack of homemade soaps at our local market. A lack of which I hope to fill next year. Along with my hand painted garden rocks, next year I will take the plunge. I will sign up for a whole season at our local Farmer's Market located in Nevis, MN. It started only 2 years ago, yet has grown to quite a group. Now if I can find my own little niche for a booth I will have something unique as well as fun. Tho I am proud to say no one else makes hand painted garden rocks in this area so I get quite a few smiles and chuckles from them. Usually bought as a small gift for their child or grandchild, its best to see their faces light up when they see a tiny penguin or turtle they just know will tickle one's fancy. So next Memorial Day thru Labor Day I shall strive to present a wonderful table or two of goodies for our local Farmer's Market. Once you shop at one, you feel apart of it. I feel this is my way to truly be a part of it. Making me feel more connected to my neighbors, friends, and fellow tourists at heart.

October 8, 2013

Its that time of year again. October has arrived and all the various tasks and chores that need to be done before the snow flies. We harvested our Lima beans for seed for next year. We're planning on doubling our gardens next year since we know we'll have more land to work with. Harvested the last of our purple, yellow, and orange varieties of carrots. Harvested the last of our cabbages, onions, and broccoli. We have some swiss chard growing yet, we'll wait til the first frost for that one. Might get another crop of peas harvested too, all flowering in this chilly weather.

Lots of native and local honey bees spotted this summer in our gardens. Not using any chemicals or chemical fertilizers has brought quite the list of beneficial insects to our gardens. We doubled our garden space this year... less lawn to mow... he he. Yet next year the plans to double again will hopefully give us a harvest large enough to share with our family and friends. Anything not used after that will go to my Farmer's Market stall. Fortunately my mother gave me some fruit trees she didn't have time to plant this year. Apricot trees and a few apple trees as well. We're going to plant them tomorrow and hope they survive the winter and the deer. My hubbie plans on putting some mesh around them to keep the deer from rubbing them to death.

Along with harvesting and planting fall veggies its also time for yard cleaning. For me it also means spring cleaning... since I was too busy to do it this last spring with the addition of the larger gardens. I admit I like cleaning to a certain extent. Slowly ridding your house of stuff you haven't used in years and de-cluttering your frequently used areas of the house is therapeutic. It also gives you a fresh start right before winter. Clean areas to work on those scrapbooks or crafts. Plenty of room to cut fabric or sew clothes for the kids. Unfortunately our sewing machine cord frayed. We have to purchase another one before those projects can start, but there is always something to do.

So toodles my lovelies and have a safe October beginning!

October 13, 2013 Tackle a Nagging Task

One of the goals on The Happiness Project was to tackle a nagging task. I like that idea. I have lots of nagging tasks. When I put them all on a list and try to weedle them down... I actually DO them. Whether its finally getting to Spring cleaning, creating an emergency kit to keep in the vehicle, or the dreaded Last Will and Testament. I have been neglecting this little task for years. I have found that this task nags more than any other one since I now have 3 children. Who will take care of them if something happens to hubbie and me? What about their savings accounts and my small businesses? What about a Living Will? What happens if I am incapacitated and no one knows what I want?

Well, its time to write it out and get it done. The more research I do to find the best way of doing so makes me feel better that I am finally taking care of this task. As someone below the national poverty line, I need to find the cheapest way to do it as well. Preferably free. Alas! The internet becomes my ally! Many free, customizable documents can be printed for free! And all you need is a notaries signature, which some banks offer for free if you have an account with them. Bonus!

So off I go in all my free glory to get a nagging task done! Once I have purchased ink for my printer.... which is also on my task list...

October 22, 2013 Memories

Family has always been important to me. I try to make it to every event I can to support my loved ones. The ones I find hard are the funerals. I'm usually the one trying my best not to cry, but to support others that have been closer to any tragedy or loss. Then I get hugged and all dry eyes fly out the window as the dams burst forth and it sinks in. I have lost someone close to me. I have lost someone I cared about. Even though they are no longer in pain, I miss them.

This month was a bit of a double blow to me. My cousin, Adam Poole, was killed in a duck hunting accident on October 5. He believed firmly in safety and even the most prepared are not immune to accidents. He was a light extinguished too soon. He always gave me a hug when it looked like I needed one... no matter what some of his friends might have thought back in high school. He did his own thing and was loved for it. His grins were contagious and his little pranks were a hoot. They even had a camo day at the local high school in his memory. Teachers & staff, along with all our relatives and friends were at the funeral. I was told they stopped counting at 600 people. There was a line to get into the church. The joke was that he was late to his own funeral since the line took 20 to 30 extra minutes to get everyone seated. It became standing room only after that. I have never seen a line at a funeral. Many tears were shed over the obvious show of support for the family who lost their young loved one.

The kicker... he just got married last month to his sweetheart. As I couldn't get out of work for his wedding... I first met his bride at the funeral. Such a sweetheart. My love and prayers are with the rest of the family as they also deal with this tragedy.

Then there is today. Today is the anniversary of my cousin Ron Hamm's death. I believe I was one of the closer cousins to Ron. He made time for me even tho he was a lot older. Born January 23, 1973 and died October 22, 1992. Just 19 years old. From what I remember of the funeral and the details surrounding his death, he was hit by a drunk driver. I may not remember much about the scenario back then... but I remember Ron. I remember him letting me use his small trampoline to jump onto a top bunk, even after my parents said I'd hit my head on the ceiling. I remember him sneaking me candy when we came to visit. I remember his laugh and his wide, toothy smile. Most of all... I remember him. He will always be close to my heart.

November 3, 2013 Baking Euphoria

pumpkin pie Snow has yet to hit us here and stay... yeah! I mean ...er... *cough *cough ... hi. Colder weather and the drastic fall of leaves from bushes and trees has come tho. And what comes with cold weather I ask?

Baking! I LOVE to bake! Muffins, cake, brownies, cookies, pie, bread.... did I mention cookies? he he

The only trouble I have this year is converting most of my favorites into gluten free alternatives for the hubbie. I did, however, convert some last year. So homemade pumpkin pie was on the agenda for the day. Gluten free pie crust as well. Tho I always burn the top edges of the pies,  it always tastes good for the main part. I actually stopped putting pie crust all the way around the top rim of the pie pans to prevent this. If there is no crust.... you can not burn it right?? This pie is made with pumpkin mash that was not precooked. It means its a little more like tiny fibers instead of a smooth mash, but that's the way the hubbie likes it.

Well here is our 9 inch pumpkin pie. I've updated the pumpkin pie recipe to include this new photo. Snazzy huh? I will post my gluten free crust as soon as I can.

November 14, 2013 Cold Day, Warm Kitchen

pancakesAfter not feeling well and just being sick in general for a few days, I have a tendency to get stir crazy. Once I have recouped for the most part, I go on a baking binge. So this morning when my baby boy (he is 3, but hey still my baby) asked for pancakes... I said sure! He immediately runs to the kitchen thinking they are going to materialize before his eyes or be transported to the table by some mysterious means. He has yet to understand we have to mix them up and cook them first. It makes me smile a lot lately. Especially when he wanted pizza last night.... which I botched the GF crust on but its coming along. Still experimenting on something that is not too dry or tasteless.

So with our gluten free pancakes this morning we also decided to take some pictures. So these have been updated under the recipe.

Along with GF pancakes, GF pumpkin pie, and GF pizza..... we also made gluten free banana bread. Here is a picture of the mini loaf. This recipe has also been updated.

My children ate the first mini loaf as soon as they safely could. Its always cute when they run off with a goodie and scarf it down with laughter. At least I know when they like one of my new recipes. My favorite time is when my oldest boy hid under daddy's desk. Every once in a while you would see this little hand sneak out from under the desk and swipe a cookie off daddy's plate. Daddy would come back with his coffee to find an empty plate and laugh, then you'd hear little giggles from under the desk. Usually chocolate chip cookies. This was before our gluten free and wheat free restrictions.

banana breadSo if you are having a cold day like us today, make some memories and bake up a storm!

November 19, 2013 Good People, Kind Hearts

Once in a while, I will be behind someone at a grocery store who is a little short on cash. Usually a small child trying to buy a simple toy and is 20 cents short or an elderly lady who has misplaced a couple bucks. They always look so heart broken. I'm usually one of those to reach into my own wallet and hand them what they need with a smile. I always receive a smile, an earnest thank you, and sometimes a few tears. I had never been on the receiving end of this situation until yesterday.

All I wanted was a 2 pack of heirloom tomatoes to go with my groceries. I was thinking of treating the kids to a taco night. For some reason, the tomatoes were not ringing up as a food item and therefor didn't qualify for my food stamps.(yep, even hard working people need food stamps) They were also ringing up at the wrong price. We got the price figured out, but they couldn't get the tomatoes, which are obviously a food, to ring up correctly. Its not the cashier's fault. It's not even the manager's fault. It's whoever entered the item into the system. It happens. I happen to also work at this place, so I know how often it does happen. I smiled at the cashier and told her its ok, I guess we just wouldn't have tacos tonight.

I was tired from just working and finding my various cornucopia of baking supplies. There was no way I had the energy to walk all the way back to produce and grab a different, questionable tomato. Plus there were 3 people in the line behind me.

The sweet lady behind me handed me 3 dollars and smiled. I looked at her and for the first time ever I was the one to say thank you for a kindness. The kindness struck me so hard that I tearfully said thank you and paid for the tomatoes. She said she has been in a bind before and that it was no big deal. Well, to me it WAS a big deal. A kind stranger helped to give my kids a healthy dinner that night. I couldn't stop the tears as I paid for my groceries and wished the lady a nice night. She told me to enjoy those tacos. I said the kids will be excited and once again said thank you.

I feel the need to do so again. THANK YOU! There are kindhearted people out there. Just when you think you are hitting rock bottom, someone reminds you of that fact. Not everyone is mean spirited or hates their job. Not everyone is after what you have or trying to harm your children. Some people care, some people are just good at heart.

November 24, 2013 Gluten Free Flour

I recently found a new product at our local Walmart. Betty Crocker came out with a gluten free rice flour blend. Right on the back is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. This is one of the things I have not been able to make yet as a gluten free goodie. And so the experiment starts. Instead of chocolate chips, I had on hand some Nestle mint chips. They have dark chocolate chips and mint chips all together in one bag. Which remind me of those after dinner mints you sometimes get in the restaurants.

Well here is Betty Crocker's recipe. What was the verdict? The kids ran off with the first batch immediatly. Then the hubbie ran off with part of the next one. I have to say these cookies are moist and delicious. The way a real chocolate chip cookie is supposed to taste. It reminds me of my great grandmother's recipe. Superb! Thankfully I made a double batch so I can take some to work with me for a snack. I have a feeling most of them will be gone soon as my daughter keeps sneaking into the kitchen and comes out with cookies. I had to put them away yesterday just so they didn't eat them all in one sitting. Tho I ran out of this new flour from Betty Crocker, I plan on picking up a lot more for future cookie endeavors. So toodles for the day and happy baking!

December 2, 2013 Simple Dinners During a Snowstorm

I find comfort food to be a wonderful thing when they predict 6 to 18 inches of snow for your area. I think they call it a flash storm or flash snow or something like that. During this time, however, every one and their family decide to head to the grocery stores and clean them out as if they shall be trapped forever in their home if they get snowed in.

As my uncle has a plow truck I am not too concerned with getting stuck for too long. In fact, I prefer to stay home and use up what I have on hand. Its a good time to get creative and for some reason the kids always have a tremendous appetite at this time. So for tonight, we threw some lima beans, cauliflower, and chicken breasts in a pan. My hubbie seasoned it and we popped it in the oven for 70 minutes at 375 degrees. Its delicious! The kids like it too. I always add some cubes of cheese to their plates too for a more balanced meal. I find tho that once the kids like one item, they want it constantly for a few weeks and then hate it for a while. What do you do when you buy a ton of grapes and the kids decide they don't want them that week? Well, you make grape juice, syrup, or throw them in gelatin. Once they are in gelatin, its like a whole new dish! Yay for creativeness! So enjoy your snow day and bake up something good, toodles!

December 11, 2013 Locally Made Leathergoods

leathergoodsI have to pass on a business in this area I think has been a big impact locally. Itasca Leathergoods of Lake George in Minnesota. They started out with moccasins and boots, but have branched out to so many products I can't stay away from their page. Their locally made footwear feels so soft and durable. I have even tried my hand at stitching a few together when my father-in-law tried to patiently teach me. He is one of many locals working from home for this wonderful company. I thought it would be a great idea to lace them at home for some extra money. Turns out I don't have much strength in my hands for such intricacies. Thats ok, my father-in-law does an awesome job!

These wonderful people have increased their workforce using local people. Their products are made in their Lake George store, but they have expanded their stores to include Crosslake, MN and Hayward, WI. Placemats, belts, and a whole lot more. Tho I am always pinching my pennies, I hope one day to be able to order a custom pair of grape Cota shoes. I do have to chuckle every time I navigate to their website and peruse their goods. After all... my mother will wear moccasins all summer long if she can. So maybe its ingrained in my memories. So for now I daydream as I look at their site. Who knows, maybe one day I can pinch enough pennies to afford a quality product from a local shop.

I encourage everyone to check out their website. They also will trace your feet for a custom fit. How nice is that! So toodles and enjoy the eye candy on their site!

(Logo image belongs to Itasca Leathergoods, check them out on Facebook)

December 18, 2013 Our Businesses

vanityI realized with my last post that I have yet to actually provide any links or solid information about our businesses. So here it is. A blog about our businesses.
Rowland Computers Plus Facebook

My hubbie repairs, disinfects, and builds computers and networks. Our regular website is currently down due to borrowing some parts from our server box to fix my computer. Because my hubbie loves me :D . I do basic websites and advertising.
Caveman Woodworking and Crafts Facebook

We are currently working on the gallery for our regular website. We are hoping to include an online shop eventually and a link to our etsy.com shop once that is operational. For Caveman Woodworking and Crafts, my hubbie currently builds window boxes, birdhouses, napkin holders, business card holders, and other wooden items. He made our bathroom vanity too. Pictured to the upper left. I hand paint rocks and seal coat them so they can be outside (hand painted garden rocks) year round. My hubbie crochets hats and other accessories as well. An example of my rocks is posted below. Frogs, snakes, turtles, ladybugs, cootie bugs, penguins, and bumblebees. This winter I am developing a few new designs. I had requests for loons, owls, fawns, and bunnies. We'll see how far I get once I catch up on my regular stock.

So there are our businesses in a nutshell. This summer I plan on bring our goodies from Caveman Woodworking and Crafts to our local Farmer's Market for the whole summer season. Well, toodles my lovelies!


December 22, 2013 Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

Wanted to add a link to the best gluten free sandwich bread I have tasted so far. It also has nice flexibility so it doesn't fall apart on you. Its not dry and tasteless either.
Gluten Free Sandwich Bread that doesn't suck (yes that's the name of it) Enjoy and toodles!

December 28, 2013 Minnesota Nice

Threat of another blizzard like storm. Makes you want to heat up some cocoa and watch it fall. Tho I am one of those usually at work when it starts so I'm shoveling it off my car instead. There is something I always notice around this time of year. You have your usual crabby people not used to the snow or the temperatures. You have those who complain just to complain.

Then you have those who will stop at the side of the road just to see if you are ok. To pull you out of the ditch or even just give your vehicle a tug with theirs. I have seen at least 3 times so far where its an itty bitty car pulling out a van or larger car. No tow truck. Just thank yous and people with a heart. That is Minnesota Nice.
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