Monday, October 16, 2017

Totally fall

One sign that it's fall are the bushels of autumnal food we harvest from our garden: squashes and apples.

Also: bear poop under the apple tree.  I am so very sorry to assault your senses with pictures of bear shit, especially if you read this early in the morning while eating breakfast.

But I thought it was so impressive to see these huge piles of droppings right underneath the tree where the bear gorged on our apples.  It was so thoughtful of him/her to fertilize the tree for us, don't you think?

Talking of apples: we've been making apple cider.  One of our trees (the one with all the bear poop, the one under which we planted our first born's placenta almost 15 years ago), produced 150 pounds of apples this year.

We put Steve's Dad (his parents are visiting) to work, and he helped pick enough apples to press into cider.  We went to our neighbors', who have an antique cider press, and produced eight gallons of apple juice, which we will drink, freeze and make into hard cider.

More signs of autumn: 

  • fires in the wood stove, 
  • walking in the woods with crunchy leaves underfoot, 
  • rotting salmon by the river,
  • dogs in front of the wood stove,
  • homemade buttermilk biscuits

We've been driving across our mountain pass to collect more elderberries.  So far, I've made seven gallons of elderberry syrup.  We're making wine with some of it, and I can't wait to tell you how it turns out.  We have to wait a few months to taste it...

We had a great time with Steve's parents enjoying the fall colors, mountain views and excellent coffee on the other side of the mountains.

Another important fall event is Luke's birthday.  He turned 13, which means he's a teenager, which means we now have two teenagers in the house, which means we are getting old.

It's okay, though.  The teenage dudes are great.  It's our little daughter that worries me, because she is already acting like a teenager at almost eight years old.

Luke is awesome.  He's turning into a thoughtful, funny, considerate, but-still- with-plenty-of-fire young man.  One of the examples to illustrate this was when a girl in his class asked him out.  Luke, not wanting to hurt the girl's feelings while being terrified at the chick's proposition responded: "No offense to you at all, but I'm only in seventh grade, and I'm not ready to date anyone."

How sweet is that?

I will leave you with pictures of fingerless mittens I knitted last year.  I teach how to knit fingerless mittens in one of my online courses.  They are different and more fancy in the pictures below, but it's a step-by-step video tutorial on how to make some amazing Christmas presents!

And I'm gonna throw a picture of our house in after something very rare happened: the living room was cleaned up.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Homesteading in Paradise September, and also: chatting with me on Facebook Live!

Hello dears,

Here is the movie for September's Homesteading in Paradise series.  As always, lots of beauty and inspiration in that one.

Also, I wanted to tell you about something super fun l'm doing.  I want to connect with you, so I started doing Facebook Lives called "Coffee with Corina".

Oh my goodness, they are so much fun!  Steve and I did one Thursday morning, and even the dogs, ducks and chickens joined in.  Lots of people asked questions and popped in, and there's nothing more fun and rewarding for me than connecting with y'all!

You can ask me questions about:

* Homesteading tips and tricks
* Cheese making* Fermenting foods and drinks* Animal husbandry* Gardening* Favorite recipes* Canning and preserving* Making body care products*Mental health - how to stay sane (one can hope)* ... and anything else you want to ask (well, maybe not exactly EVERYTHING!) 

If you want to be notified in a quick email when I'm doing the next one, go ahead and sign up here!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A recipe for plum cobbler - gluten free, dairy free, no refined sugar - super yummy

Social media can make you drool, doesn't it? I posted a picture of Eva in front of the oven watching my plum cobbler bake, and so many of you begged for the recipe.

Well, here it is. I'm so nice, aren't I?  And if you want me to send you the printer-friendly recipe, just click here!

Click here to get my recipe

But before you get cranking on this, come on over to Instagram and Facebook to give me a Follow, so you can keep seeing pictures you want to drool over.

This plum cobbler was inspired by a Betty Crocker recipe I found online, but I modified it a bunch. I used gluten free flour and no refined sugar but maple syrup instead, but you can totally substitute plain flour (same amount as gluten free) and white refined sugar instead.


For Filling:

4 cups ripe plums (Italian plums that are not too juicy)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (about 2 limes or 1 huge lemon)

1/4 cup maple syrup (or more if your plums are on the tarter side)

3 Tablespoons corn starch

For Topping:

1 cup flour or gluten free flour (I love Namaste Gluten Free Organic Perfect Flour Blend)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 cup milk (or almond milk or coconut milk)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  • Cut plums in quarter pieces, take the seeds out. 

  • Put lime juice, maple syrup, corn starch and plums into a saucepan and bring to a boil. 

  • Stir constantly until it bubbles and thickens. This only takes a couple of minutes once it boils. Don't let it burn! We don't want no charred cobbler, darlin'!

  • Put this onto a pie plate. 

  • Put in the preheated oven to keep warm. 

Then mix the topping ingredients:

  • Put flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix together. 
  • Cut the oil or butter into this with a pastry blender or two knives until this resembles wet sand. 
  • Then add milk (or almond or coconut milk) and 1 Tablespoon maple syrup and mix til it forms a soft dough. 
  • Drop this dough onto the plum mixture by blobs. 
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Hint: you might want to put a baking sheet underneath this to catch the bubbling-over syrupy stuff so your oven won't start smoking. How do I know this? Hmpf.

Serve this sucker with plenty of whipping cream. 

Some tips and tricks to make this awesome

Use Italian prune plums, wash them first

It helps tremendously to have a cute girl helper cutting up the plums

Put a baking sheet underneath the cobbler to catch any drippings, so things won't turn nasty smokey


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Why I make a lot of things myself - and why you can, too! PS: Christmas is coming up

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I make a lot of things myself: from-scratch cooking, medicine, candles, and also natural body products like soaps, lip balms and medicinal salves.  There's just too many weird ingredients in commercial stuff, many of them cancer causing.  

In fact, there are over 80 thousand chemicals on the market and many of those are found in items we use every day in our homes and personal body care items!  Yuck!

But to make matters worse, only 1 percent of those have been studied for safety!  Insane!!!

In the good old days, people made their own products, from growing herbs, making their own candles and soaps.  They knew the exact ingredients that went into their products and they had the skill sets to do it.

They didn't rely on big corporations to sneak questionable ingredients into the items they used on a daily basis.

How have we lost that in just a few generations?

For starters, we're busy and the stores make it convenient, at least in the short term. Many of us didn't have anyone to teach us how to make these things at home. The only way we've ever had them is to purchase them from big companies and store shelves, trusting they're making it from the best ingredients.

But we don't have to be at the mercy of big corporations and stores. 

Enter my friend Melissa Norris.  

If you don't know her, she's a popular homesteading blogger and public speaker, gorgeous, talented mom and teacher, and my friend.  She's written a couple of wonderful books, and her latest is Hand Made: the Modern Guide to Made-from-Scratch Living and the Hand Made Masterclass.

The reason I want you to know about Melissa, her awesome book and her masterclass is because I want you to know how to make things yourself.  You know I don't recommend things lightly, but I can say 100 percent that this is worth it.

The Hand Made Masterclass and Bonuses are packed with resources to help you:

  • make your own nourishing soaps with natural colorants
  • beeswax candles in Mason jars
  • herbal infused body butters and moisturizers
  • create your own customized tinted lip balms and lipsticks
  • countdown calendar to Christmas to help you plan out your handmade gifts
  • tried and true recipes for making your own handmade natural products
  • each project is broken down in the amount of hands on time, cost per item, and how long until you can use the item
  • and so much more!

The combined value of all the trainings and resources is over $180, but for the next few days (until October 3rd), you can get EVERYTHING at 80% off!

Click here to get the Hand Made Masterclass for only $37, including the physical paperback copy of Hand Made: the Modern Guide to Made-from-Scratch Living.

And guess what, it's worry free because if you don't love it, Melissa has a money back satisfaction guarantee.  I love that woman.

Here is an excerpt from her intro:

"You'll discover old-fashioned, from-scratch cooking, and recipes so finger-licking good, they'll become your new go-to's.  Because I firmly believe food should be enjoyed, that the best recipes don't have to be complicated, and healthy can still taste good!

You'll find a marriage of the old ways and modern methods - recipes and tutorials for growing your own culinary and medicinal herbs and for making homemade soaps and body care items, and strategies for creating a haven in your home amidst our crazily paced lives.  The door is flung open, soup is simmering on the stove, a cup of tea is steaming, and the rocking chair with grandma's quilt and I are waiting.

Come on in, friend. Come on in."

Click here to get the entire Masterclass for only $37.

P.S. Remember the early bird pricing is only through Tuesday October 3rd!

PPS: Christmas IS coming, and some of the things you'll learn how to make would be awesome Christmas gifts!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Autumn abundance and gorgeous-ness in our neck of the woods

So much happened in the past two weeks, I don't even know where to begin.  Big emotions are happening here, I can tell you that.  Our three homeschooled kids are now in public school, and it's bringing up lots of sadness for me, but also incredible pride in how well they are doing.  I'm happy to hear from their teachers something I knew all along: that they are all great kids, leaders, courteous and motivated.

Oh, and also this:

I've never seen my oldest kid in a tie, but last week at homecoming, he showed off his newly acquired outfit (which I purchased at Value Village).  Actually, obviously the focus of his pride here is not his clothes, but his date, who was crowned homecoming princess the night before at the football game.

This is mind-blowing on so many levels.

First, my son is old enough to have a girlfriend?????? (He's almost 15.)
Second, can you believe that I now attend football games????? (I hate football, mostly because I don't understand the rules.)

I'm happy to see that my kids fit in well.  I'm thrilled to know they are expanding their horizons.  I'm glad that I'm overall pleased with this small public school, about which I've heard such bad things for years.  I think the teachers are all incredibly nice and helpful and committed there.

But Gosh darn it, I hate putting my sleepy kids on the bus every morning at 6:30am and welcome them back home at 4pm.  I'm having a hard time getting used to them being gone all day, doing things I have no idea about, learning stuff I have no control over...

It's a good thing, really, it is.  It's just that my mother's heart misses them.  I'm so glad they are growing up.  But this transition is so sudden and feels so harsh.  I feel so many conflicting emotions.  But it's a good thing.  But... but... but...

Here's the bottom line: My kids are getting used to school, and they like it.  They are thriving.

Having all this time freed up during the day leaves me to pursue my own passions.  I'm working on something amazing for you (actually several awesome new things), but I'll tell you about them another time.

Besides working, I also take time for self care.  Mostly, this means biking and spending time in nature.  Cause if you have a place like this, why would you not want to be out in it?

The garden is winding down, and I sowed cover crop in many of my garden beds.  I have to put floating row cover on the soil, lest the pesky birds gobble up all the seeds. 

It definitely feels autumnal, with colder temperatures, plentiful harvest bounty, and ripening fruit.

I just picked a bunch of our European plums, and also some of the daliahs blooming in my garden.

We had to light our wood stove for the first time the other day, and our twinkling lights in the kitchen turn on earlier every night...

Remember the baby ducks our mama Ancona hatched?  They are now almost full grown - it happens super fast with ducks!  (And human children.  Sigh.)

They hang out with our chickens, share food and compete with Raka the dog for food scraps I throw out into the yard.

And talking of food: I'm making a lot of it right now.  There's nothing like a perfectly grilled chicken on our new Traeger BBQ to welcome my kids back from school.

And bread!  Bread!!!  Look at these perfect, beautiful loaves.  They taste as good as they look, and I'm sorry to keep pushing this, but you should take my online course to learn how to make this, along with other things like sauerkraut, greek yogurt, kombucha and beet kvass.  The whole course is only $39, it's totally self-paced, you get to watch me demonstrate how to make all this in my kitchen, and if you read my students' testimonials, you'll want to buy it.

Don't you want to make and eat this bread? Sure you do! Take my online workshop!

In other news of the week, I'm not the only one bitten by the biking bug.  On Sunday, my seven-year-old daughter rode 20 miles with me, and not just on flat, smooth blacktop.  No, she biked up and down some pretty tough logging roads with big hills.  This kid rocks.

Also, we've been spending some quality time at the river.  The salmon are spawning, and it smells ripe out there.  Unfortunately, we can't fish because the season is closed, but we still like to watch the salmon with their huge humps battling in the water.

I'll leave you with images of other busy-ness last week:

Making lip balm with my lemon balm infused and calendula infused oils...

Knitting more hats and head bands.  Winter is coming, people...

And my favorite picture of all, the care package I put together for my friend who just gave birth to her baby son.  The basket includes all things made and raised here on our land by us: a loaf of bread, Gouda goat cheese (I teach another online course on how to make Gouda), tomatoes, cucumbers, smoked salmon caught by Luke last year, goat milk soap, fig jam, a tin of homemade salve, and some pork chops.