Tinker Verve

creating with spirit & enthusiasm…often with great results

You ought to try this…

This really is cool {and a bit groovy}!

Recently Mr T gave me a recipe for making our own laundry soap.  Have you heard about this?  It’s been around for a long time but we just discovered it.  For about $3.50 we can get approximately 180 loads of laundry washed in our top-loader.

It mixed up just like the recipe said it would and I’ve been using it. 

Now I don’t have to stand in front of the laundry soap aisle, shaking my head because I can’t believe how expensive laundry soap is.

You can find the recipe HERE.

October 17, 2011 Posted by | home life, sustainable living | 7 Comments

The land gives so freely!

What’s on your {late} summer reading list?

I have my favorite little spot to sit in the living room and I have a stack of wonderful books and magazines piled up all around me.  Any chance I have to sit down, I grab one and start looking for the next fun thing that I want to make, can, dehydrate, freeze…

My interests seem to evolve and change but they also seem to keep moving in the same direction.

Living off the Land!

I can’t get enough…it makes me get all excited!

Yesterday I ordered #3 & #5 crocks for sauerkraut, pickles, etc…

the laundry and housework has been very patient…so has Mr. T!

Look what I drug home over the weekend {along with a whole lot of other things}.  Oh, I’m so excited…it’s just so beautiful!

really, I promise…it is! 

A number was randomly chosen and we have a winner for my birthday give-a-way….Rosie!

Rosie is a local gal so I can’t wait to have this grand excuse to get together for coffee, tea, food…good conversation!  🙂

Oh, the comments that were left on this post…all of them made me smile…most of them made me cry just a little!  Thanks for sharing from your hearts, ladies!

August 31, 2011 Posted by | garden, healthy living, home life, in the kitchen, sustainable living | 4 Comments

Summer Grandeur…

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
— L.M. Montgomery

This has been a favorite summer for me!

I’m going to guess that it has much to do with that ‘gentle’ process of aging that none of us can avoid.

I believe that I have learned to enjoy the simple joys and pleasures in life more than ever.  And, because we were able to move to this beautiful country setting 3½ years ago, it has allowed for a more restful, less hectic life {which I fully embrace}.

I’ve made a quiet resolve with myself to keep it that way!   […so far, so good]

Another one of life’s simple pleasures that I cannot ignore is the power within a seed.

It amazes me each and every year.

And, it causes me to be impressed with myself {that’s always fun}.

Most of my garden is the result of seeds that I put in dirt…with my own little hands.

Many of my herbs I purchased but most everything else came up from seed: corn, green beans, peas, carrots, kale, lettuce, spinach, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, flowers.  Plus, we have a nice variety of things that come back each year: raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, horseradish and a small orchard with apples, plums, pear…

With fresh local lamb and beef filling our freezers plus the abundance of fish that we caught in Alaskan waters…oh, ya…and that fresh goat’s milk…we have been eating so well {too well}.  Everything is fresh and yummy…not to mention, oh, so healthy!

All of this makes summer so busy and so wonderful in a very worthwhile and fulfilling sort of way.

I have a few sunflowers that are nearly twice my height…

Do you remember the chickens {Silkies} I had in my booth at the Farm Chicks sale? 

Because the little one {the black one} was so little I didn’t want to put them in with the other chickens so I just let them have free-range of my garden.  I wasn’t sure how that would work.  I told them that if they got into my strawberries then they would have to leave.   They have done great.  They just kind of hang out in the potato patch.  I brought home a rooster for them recently and they literally are all inseparable.

Poppy, Nel and Papa Jack

I still haven’t forgotten that there is a give-a-way…go over HERE and sign-up…I’ll draw a name in a couple of days.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | farm animals, garden, healthy living, home life, in the kitchen, sustainable living | 2 Comments

Goat love :~)

I never, never saw myself as being a milkmaid to goats.

However, I did dream of having a milk cow for a very, very long time.

Once I realized that goat’s milk tasted just like cow’s milk {this, of course, depends on the type of goat and what they are eating}, milk goats seemed to be the acceptable compromise.

I have been loving these little critters and the wonderful milk I’m getting…two times each day!

My milking stanchion was broken for a while so it wouldn’t hold in Bella’s head.  She would eat her grain while I began milking but when the grain was gone she would pull out her head and nuzzle my neck and nibble on my ear.

This is a very fun and silly picture but I’m so ticklish that it would just make me crazy.

Last week while nibbling on my ear, she managed to slip the back off of my diamond stud.  I had to dig that little golden fleck out of her mouth.  After that she seemed even more and more determined to get it off of my ear.

Silly girl!

I get about 2 cups each time I milk.  Most goats would give more but it’s actually a nice amount for us…for now.

I’ve experimented with making some cheeses. 

We make ice cream on a regular basis. 

I eat yogurt every morning from the milk and I’ve made some soap.

Which reminds me….there’s a give-a-way in the works.

Make sure to head over to my last post, leave a comment there and you’ll be entered in to that give-a-way!

source of photos: Tres Birds Photography

August 16, 2011 Posted by | farm animals, goats, healthy living, home life, in the kitchen, sustainable living | 2 Comments

Fishing in Alaska….

It’s time for me to back up a couple of weeks.

When we returned home from our trip to Alaska I had the {amazingly♥wonderful} workshop/picnic event to ‘pull off’, my garden was in dire need of work and my raspberries we coming on strong.  I wish I would have kept track this year of how many gallons that we’ve picked but it’s somewhere between 20 & 30.

…but, I still want to show you some of the fun that we had in Alaska.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my parent’s have a place there where they spend their summers.  Mr. T goes up each year to fish but with a long list of great reasons {mostly having to do with the kids}, it’s been about 4 years since I’ve made the trip with him.  So, this was the year!

It was a beautiful, relaxing trip and my mom is the best cook ever so we not only came home with 200 lbs. of salmon and halibut but I personally brought home about three pounds.

wouldn’t it be horrible if we had to pay extra for a return flight if we managed to gain weight during our travels?   the financial restrictions are getting tighter and tighter…just might happen some day!  🙂

This the first year that I’ve fished and it turns out that I’m not too bad with a halibut pole.  I reeled in about 9.

Jelly fish – watch out for these buggers…they get tangled up in your line…if you touch the slime with your hands or it gets slung in your eye…OUCH!

pulling up a halibut

a neighbor of my parent’s was fishing in the same ‘hole’

our little boat coming back in for a long day out

not all of these were mine but ‘most’ of them were!  

my parent’s have a great room for doing the final cleaning and packaging of the fish

I was able to can some cod

We had a great time…Thanks Mom and Dad for sharing your AK lives with us!  🙂

August 11, 2011 Posted by | fishing in Alaska, sustainable living | 2 Comments

life on my little {growing} hobby farm…

It’s been such a busy couple of weeks here.  When I was getting ready for my booth at the Farm Chicks show I had to let everything else slide a bit so I could put all of my time and attention into that.  That’s just how it goes and I know that.

I had 10 new chicks {layers} that had to be integrated in with the old chickens.  They had been penned off inside the chicken house for two weeks so they could all get used to each other.  On Monday morning after the show I let them loose.  When I went out a little later, all of the old chickens had pushed their way under the fence and were out in my strawberry patch.   I don’t know how a chicken’s mind {do they have a mind} works but I found it quite funny.

Since that morning, the chickens have all stayed in but have been very bossy with the new chicks.  Slowly they are letting the little ones come outside.

There has definitely been a lot of drama in the hen house!

During this time we have also butchered 27 chickens with the help of my brother and sis-in-law.  That might not be a popular thought with every reader but since we do eat meat in this house it seemed to be a perfect fit with our desire for a sustainable, healthy, farm-to-table way of living.

This was our first time for this and the process was surprisingly smooth and easy.  I wouldn’t want to do it every day but am more than willing to do it again and again.

This sweet pair were in my booth at the sale and because a friend gave them to me for that purpose {saying he didn’t want them back} I am now in a dilemma as to how to make them a part of the flock.  Because of the wee~one, it will take a bit longer.  Right now they get the whole garden to themselves.  They stick pretty close to this horseradish plant but as soon as my strawberries start ripening I’m sure that they will not be welcomed in here any more.

We had a separate little pen for the chickens that are now in the freezer and although a bear cub found it’s way into it for a bit yesterday, it’s nice and big and I think that this hen and her chick will enjoy spending the rest of the summer in there.

So…as our little hobby farm seems to be expanding, it seemed only natural to bring home a couple of goats {in the back of my car}.

I was able to jump right in to milking one {oh, my aching hands} with the intention that the little one will some day also be a milk goat.

They are SO SWEET and lovable and so good with my nieces and although I haven’t let the dog in with them yet, he is very anxious and I think that they will get along fine

When I’m in the pen this little one is always right at my side.

BellaRose & DaisyMae

This does change my life…I told my friend this morning that I can go anywhere I want as long as I’m back in 12 hours!  🙂  I have wanted a milk cow for a very long time.  I didn’t envision milk goats but it really is a perfect fit.  I’ve made yogurt, ice cream and ricotta cheese.  It’s all very tasty…no different that cow’s milk…I promise!

June 16, 2011 Posted by | chickens, goats, healthy living, home life, sustainable living | 1 Comment

for the love of goats…

Have you ever milked a goat?
I’ve milked cows a little over the years but never a goat…until this week.

This girl stands ready and waiting.

With a little instruction…

…I take it on like a pro….[maybe not]…

My niece, Lindsey, even jumped in…eventually, with both hands!

It actually looks like I’ll be able to bring this girl home in a week or so.

…along with one of these kids.
Just when my house becomes kid-free, I feel like I need to take on more?…the upside?  I can get rid of this kid if it all goes bad!  🙂 

Isn’t she just the cutest?

I never saw myself owning goats, especially milk goats, but I am just SO excited.

I really love their {very healthy} milk and I’m excited to use it in a variety of ways.

May 19, 2011 Posted by | goats, healthy living, home life, my neck of the woods!, sustainable living | 2 Comments

urticus dioica…Stinging Nettle


1]: capable of being sustained
2]a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or  permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture>
b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>
Synonyms: defendable, defensible, justifiable, maintainable, supportable, tenable

What does sustainable living mean to you?

To us it means to have the ability to always take care of ourselves no matter what is going on around us.  We live rural.  It’s not uncommon to lose power here for several days in extreme weather conditions.  Also, with food prices on the increase we know that having a variety of items on hand will be beneficial…very beneficial… for a variety of reasons.

My brother is a great encourager when it comes to getting out and taking advantage of foods that are naturally growing around us.

On Saturday, he said that he was going up on the mountain behind our house to go pick some Stinging Nettles.  He wanted to cook them up and give them a try.  I was all over the idea of going with him.  I’ve known for years that Stinging Nettle {urticus dioica} is full of nutritional value and has many medicinal qualities to it.  Because I didn’t know what I was doing, I never pursued the idea of picking them on my own and cooking up a batch.

With a little encouragement and companionship I’m willing to try just about anything. {dangerous}

I also love the opportunity to hike around on the mountain behind our house with someone.

Enjoying a good hike and incredible, natural beauty {all the while staying on our dad’s property} we found a good nettle patch and each filled a shopping bag.   We then hiked back down the mountain, went to our own kitchens and a couple of hours later we discussed what we did with our harvest.

Marc made yummy pesto {here is his post} and I just froze mine to put in…well, whatever I want to put it in.  I plan to add it to smoothies. Yesterday I made some pasta and added SN to it.

Stinging Nettle is now much more than an unpleasant childhood memory.

It is surprisingly tasty and can easily be substituted for cooked spinach {which I don’t like} in any recipe.  This is the perfect time of year to harvest it.  Boiling or blanching it for 5 minutes removes the sting and allows it to be very usable.

fresh, young stinging nettles

º  º  º  º

To make my pasta I first ground some durum wheat.  As I mixed the remaining ingredients for the pasta, I added about  a ½ c. of finely chopped Stinging Nettle that I had first steamed.  I honestly don’t think that it added any flavor but it certainly added color and nutrition!

Here is something to think about.  How would your family hold up if you couldn’t get to a store for a few days {or several}?  Or if the local grocery store shelves were bare because delivery trucks were unable to transport.  We can watch the news and see how natural disasters affect the world around us but what if something hits close to home?  Our whole world feels as though it’s on shaky ground and I’m not only referring to the elements of nature…

If you are interested in learning more about Stinging Nettle just do a Google Search.  There is so much wonderful information!  I really enjoyed “THIS POST” that my brother sent to me.

May 4, 2011 Posted by | foraging, in the kitchen, my neck of the woods!, sustainable living | 3 Comments