Easy Homemade (And Cheap) Lazy Kate and Plying Experience 

Tonight I was ready to ply yarn for the first time. I watched chain plying videos and it looked like too much work for an almost baby’s bed time yarn adventure. So I made up a little contraption from things around the house to hold my single ply S spun yarn as I fed it to my drop spindle. 

I made it using a pair of scissors, a dowel and a shoe box. The yarn was wound onto used toilet paper rolls that I talked about in a previous blog. 

 
I put the rolls in to see where they would sit first. 

  

Then I cut a hole using the tip of some scissors and poked the dowel through. I used caution with the scissors but had to take a picture.

  

There I tried to gauge where the other hole should be. 

  
  

It was kind of off but worked! 

  

  
You can even close the lid to keep dust off your work or to take with you if you’re traveling.

  

Then I undid the ends of the yarn and twisted them together before tying them onto the spindle. From there I worked on loosening bits of yarn that were overspun and tried to straighten them out a bit before spinning. I spun in the opposite direction (clockwise) than what I had spun the singles. I tested the spin to make sure it wasn’t overspun by loosening it and seeing if it curled up. If it didn’t I wound it and kept going. If it was I fed it more yarn. 

  

It was a lot of fun and pretty easy other than the yarn falling off at times with its bulky fluff. 

  

At the end the overspun bits were pretty bad so it took a bit more time to straighten it all out. It eventually worked out nicely and now I have the cushiest yarn to play with! In the morning I will put it on the yarn swift and make another blog about it. 

  
  
  
  
   
 

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Bottom/Low Whorl Spinning – First Experience 

I was trying to write a blog post earlier about some things that correlate more to my spiritual path. It wasn’t happening. My daughter has gone from taking naps that last at least an hour (usually more) to 20 minute naps before waking up ready to play. It could be teething (I can’t believe how many teeth are bombarding her poor baby gums lately) that is keeping her restless but she’s generally still happy and curious. The lack of good naps and her high energy keep me pretty much depleted of any brain power most of the time. 

So I decided to craft. Stress relief! 

I had a tiny bit of Targhee wool top left and decided to give bottom or low whorl spinning a try. One of my drop spindles was made to do both high and low whorl spinning. 

  

The verdict? I LOVE IT! 

I think this will work a bit better when my hooked Viking age spindle is in my hands but for now the groove works pretty well. 
I also noticed I wasn’t getting into the groove and finding myself spinning constantly with my fingertips instead of spinning and letting it go like I’m supposed to. That led to MUCH less over spinning. Here I only had that issue really when adding on pieces of wool. 

I can see this type of spinning working better on the go. The spinning bowls come to mind. Place on your lap or table and spin your spindle on it and it helps keep it in place. Or that’s how it appears. A woman in a fiber arts group I am a part of was even able to spin in the car! #goals 

  

Now, I’m in a place where I can either spin some angora rabbit fur or a rainbow with black accent merino and silk top blend. If you’re like me with crafting I get so anxious about “messing up” the better or harder to find (for me) stuff that I become stalled. Time to make a decision! In another blog! 

  

Mason Jar Raw Milk Butter – Revisiting My Childhood

I believe I was in the 5th grade the first time I can remember making butter in a mason jar. We took a jar, heavy cream and a classroom full of kids and made butter! How? Pour and shake. 

And shake. Shake and shake and shake! By the time we all got a try I think a few of us gave it some more shakes. 

Since then, I have often made butter in this fashion. Salted, herbal, plain, etc. It is a work out but worth it. Much different tasting from store bought too. You can easily make this in a food processor or a blender but what’s the fun in that? 

Recently, my mother set out to make butter. When she got to where she was told she could procure raw milk she was told she needed to own part of the cow that produced it. That wasn’t happening. Living where we do now we fortunately have access to raw milk and cream. Store bought milk is generally stripped of the goodies needed to make butter. Even heavy cream wasn’t really the same. Raw milk butter? Heavenly. We generally make ours salted. 

This time around we have raw cows milk but we always buy raw goats milk or cream when available. We prefer it. It is one of the many reasons we want to own goats. 

This recipe and process would be a lot easier with raw cream. There is still some fatty goodness in the milk but it takes longer in my experience and doesn’t yield as much butter. We are out of butter though so I’m working with what I’ve got! 


Here’s what you need to make it with just a jar: 

*Raw milk or cream 

*Jar with tight fitting lid

*Salt

*Manpower (it’s just me and the baby today so I WISH my mom was here to help!)
Now, I don’t have an exact recipe. I pour whatever amount of milk fits into my jar with a good bit of space left. Later I add salt to taste. 

  

  
Add milk and and shake! You will start to see pieces chunk up and eventually separate. It will start to turn a light hue of yellow. When it starts to look like chunky lumpy butter (I’m not super helpful with this recipe) you can pour the buttermilk out and save. 

    

  

Some people will now rinse their butter but I never felt there was much of a difference. 

  
I generally just flip the jar over and use a spoon to push out extra liquid. You can put it in cheese cloth and gently squeeze out extra liquid though. 

  

  
Once you are satisfied you have all the buttermilk out you can add salt! I added one pinch to this because we may like salt a bit much in this family.

  

  

Store in a jar! I generally will refrigerate if I make a ton but you can leave this out if you plan on eating it all in about a week. 

Pretzel Buns (and rolls!) Recipe 

After spending the day cleaning and playing outside with my one year old yesterday I was pretty exhausted. So of course I needed bread from scratch. 
  

Of course I did.

A bread that always fights me and wants to be kneaded like it requires a deep massage for some horribly knotted muscles that won’t ease up.

That would be pretzel buns (and rolls. Because I wanted size options).

Unfortunately, once I got to the stage where I was ready to start pinching the dough my daughter had a “I need mommy right NOW!!!!!” meltdown. Which lead to them becoming breakfast today. I left them on the counter with a damp cloth overnight and they are totally fine! 
You will need: 

*4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

*4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter 

*2 teaspoons Kosher salt

*2 teaspoons active dry yeast 

*2 teaspoons sugar 

*1 1/4 cups warm water 

*1 large egg (beaten)

*1/4 cup baking soda 

*Pretzel salt. I was out so I used more Kosher salt. 

  

To start mix the yeast, water and sugar. After it is fully mixed leave until it starts to get frothy. This should take about 5 minutes or so. 

  

Once the yeast mixture is frothy add in the butter, flour and salt. Here I would put have put it into a mixer if I had one. I don’t so I mix as much as I can before kneading on the counter. I don’t usually find myself needing more flour as it doesn’t stick for me. There is no harm in sprinkling your hands and the surface with flour first though. 

  

Once kneaded I plop it into a bowl sprinkled with flour (I used the same bowl) and cover for an hour in a warm area. 

  

  

While waiting you can get a baking pan ready by placing parchment paper or non-stick foil down before setting aside. 

  

After the hour has passed punch down the dough before placing on a floured flat surface. Cut evenly into 12 pieces by cutting the dough first into quarters then cutting those into thirds. If you want smaller pieces to use as rolls just cut the thirds in half again. I personally just rip them apart. I like using my hands. 

  

  

  

Now, there are methods of making the bun by rolling first then pinching the sides in to seal the bottom. My daughter is usually RIGHT THERE (and she’s one) so I tend to just quickly roll them up. Sometimes they are not so pretty. I tend to cook just for my family who I am pretty sure don’t even look at my food before inhaling it so there’s that. I pinched these though and they look perfect! The pinching gives them a lovely look. 

  

  
 

 After pinching (or just rolling like I usually do) lay the balls pinched side down and at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover and let them rise for at least 30 minutes. Once they are done move your rack to the middle slot and begin pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit before moving onto the next step. 

Boil 2 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Carefully add the baking soda and mix as you to to prevent clumping. Simmer. Once it is ready you can gently plop 2-3 (or more depending on the size you made) dough balls at a time in. Drop them in seam side down to begin with and leave for 30 seconds before flipping over for another 30 seconds. Mine sink then rise up! 

  

Remove the balls using a fork to scoop underneath or with a slotted spoon and place seam down on the baking sheet. When they are all ready brush completely with the beaten egg. Once done sprinkle your salt on before taking a sharp knife to make a X across the tops of the dough balls. 

  

  

  
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dark golden brown. Take out, cool and ENJOY! 
  
 

  

Homesteading – A Lifetime of Dreaming 

Ever since I was a child I can remember wanting a farm. A small one for just myself and my family. I can vividly remember an instance when I was young and we drove past a small homestead on a big plot of land. I thought to myself: “that’s going to be my home.” I think I might have even said it out loud at one point during the road trip but I can’t remember any responses. 

  With my Uroma (Great Grandma) at my Opa’s homestead.

The idea of a small farm appealed to me greatly living in a large city. My family was a big inspiration. The home my mother grew up in was a short drive away from the main part of the city. Large and lovely and surrounded by land. Oh, and built by my mother’s family when she was a child. How cool is that? I loved it. I remember daydreaming a lot while walking around exploring. 

There was a man with a peacock over the bridge that I vaguely remember and my mom told me about her family owning livestock on their side of the stream. Stories of family events where my Opa slaughtered a pig and prepared it himself to feed everyone made me want to do the same. Not in a grotesque sort of way but in a: “I want to nourish my family from my land.” Kind of way. 

  
 My family’s backyard in 2009

When they sold the house and moved I was devastated. I went up to the top room, looked out of the window at the back yard and cried. I admit I was extremely dramatic about it too. I think I was around 11 years old. It was the perfect place for a homestead. Though not for me. The frogs under the floor at night terrified me as a kid. Haha! 

  
My 21st birthday spent in the garden (the little girl is my baby sister)

In our own home my mom worked hard to grow gardens in the awful clay soil our city had. Every place we lived she had to have some living thing. When we moved into the last house before she left the state we had all built a large garden under her artistic direction. I even worked in a Garden Center and brought home plants all the time. We had a meditation garden and a large compost bin I had wanted so SO badly and finally received for my 21st birthday. It was great for city living. 

  
On my 21st birthday feeling deeply blessed over my compost bin birthday present

  


My dream of homesteading has been long in the making. Luckily, it’s always been a passion of mine and I have been able to gain useful skills over the years. Now, it is just bringing the dream to fruition. 
  
The meditation area of my family’s urban garden in 2009

Becky’s Homestead – Homesteading on YouTube

Lately, I have been watching a lot of “Becky’s Homestead” on Youtube as something to watch/listen to while doing chores, nursing, taking time for myself, crafting, et cetera. I love videos on Witchcraft, Heathenry and Paganism so I thought homesteading would be good too! She’s very informative and I like being able to see visuals of the kind of life I am working towards. Great for inspiration and planning! Be sure to check her out if you want to learn more about homesteading! YouTube can be a great resource for first hand experiences, views and information regarding homesteading! 
  

This is the first video I watched: 

You can also find her on Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/beckys.homestead/

Easy Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe 

Although we strive to be self-sufficient it isn’t always possible seeing as we live in a townhouse with a tub for a very small future garden. We also have decently busy lives currently when my husband is home. There are many things I make from scratch but we also keep backups just in case for some semi-homemade dishes. Canned condensed cream of mushroom soup is one of those things. I use them in casseroles of all kinds and it makes everything taste even more amazing with its fatty deliciousness we all know isn’t great for us.  

The other night I made a cheesy quinoa casserole with mushrooms, cauliflower and a sauce made of cream of mushroom soup blended with onions, garlic and herbs that made a thick savory goodness. While it cooked I washed dishes. We recycle everything we are able to. So I was cleaning the food out of the cans and I sliced my finger open. AGAIN. I winced and swore off ever using canned soup as I cleaned my wound then put some breastmilk on it (don’t knock it until you try it! I have zero issue with the cut today). 

So here I am today making my own canned condensed cream of mushroom soup. Unfortunately, it only lasts a few days in the fridge. Fortunately, that won’t be a problem for my family! We really do love this stuff. Another plus is that it only takes about 10 minutes to make. 

To make your own you will need: 

*1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (I do half chunky out of personal preference. We also use Crimini typically.)

*2/3 cup milk of choice (we don’t tend to have animal milk at home but we did today. So that is what I used. Cashew would be the best choice for vegans.) 

*1/3 cup flour (we buy organic unbleached in bulk)

*1 1/4 cup vegetable stock (I made ours and added 1 teaspoon of white miso paste but that isn’t necessary.)

*3 teaspoons of spices. Usually, people use 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and a mix of the rest of salt, pepper and other things. I used garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and a dash of smoked paprika. 

  

I pre-made my stock so I could blend the miso paste in so it was already hot. I set it aside and whisked the flour and milk in a cold pot before adding the stock in. You can do this in a separate bowl if desired though. 

  

Be sure to heat the stock separately first and whisk the milk and flour unheated before combining. 

  

Afterwards, add in the mushrooms and spices.

  

Whisk whisk whisk! 

Let it cook for 5 minutes or 1-2 minutes longer for a little extra thickness. 

  

Now it’s ready to be used or saved! Let it cool before pouring into a mason jar and sticking in the fridge. It only lasts a few days so be sure to use it up! It tastes way better than store bought! 

   
 

Viking Strong – How Homesteading and Heathenry Inspire a Healthier Me 

Being healthy is extremely beneficial to homesteading. Depending on what you do or plan on doing it is much easier to get on the floor and help a struggling animal give birth, prepare land to grow crops, care for livestock, work long hours crafting things your family may need and/or whatever else you may need to do if you are healthy and strong. 

 Me today:  

When you look at me you probably see someone who is clearly around 200 pounds overweight. I have no room to talk right? I don’t think so. Even at what is currently a few pounds shy of my heaviest I work to be a stronger and healthier person. I do not equate weight with health but many do. I walk when the weather and my baby permits it, my family goes hiking whenever my husband has a day or two off, we went back to a Vegetarian lifestyle (This is a personal choice. We have nothing against meat but until we can raise our own livestock we will be trying to stay away from meat unless bought from a local farm. It is easier to simply just eat vegetarian with our lives though), I use the beastly elliptical in our living room, et cetera. Instant results don’t happen in a healthy way and I slip up a lot but I try. My goal is to be “Viking Strong” as I once was. I have always been overweight…but I could also at one point lift, cut and carry large Noble Firs that were much taller than I am, lift and build with cinder blocks all day, knock down a grown man, garden in an inhospitable and hard environment for hours a day, et cetera. Again, weight means nothing in my eyes. You can be big and strong. Fat and healthy. I know people of lower weights who essentially live on Oreos and can’t walk more than a mile. Their weight doesn’t make them healthy. 


Me in 2009 working with Christmas trees at Target: 

  
Health relates to Norse (or any part really) Heathenry as well. When people generally think of the Norse they think of Vikings. Tall, fair, strong, brutal and cunning. They were mostly farmers or craftspeople who used their whole body to work all day every day. Raiding season was probably even harder on the body. Their gods were seen as just as strong if not stronger. It is one aspect that draws people to them. Their strength. It is a belief held by various cultures that health impacts your spiritual life. A good diet can provide sharpness and clarity of mind. Working on physical strength can help with blood flow and other physical aspects that can impact the mind as well. Many see the body as a vessel that holds the soul. The body as a temple of sorts. The gods can see when you treat it with respect. 
Me in 2010:  
These are a jumble of personal views I felt compelled to write after a walk around the neighborhood. Sunna’s warmth on my face and the presence of Spring apparent in the air. I just felt good. If not for worrying about the skin on my pale child (worried about her getting burnt) I would have walked longer. Speaking of health and fitness is something we are bombarded with alongside ads for things that promote the exact opposite but contain a conventionally fit and beautiful person to display it. I don’t general speak about it except at times on my Instagram when posting about a geeky virtual running club I am part of. Today something compelled me to make a short note of it though. Not a lecture but I reminder to myself that I need to work hard in every aspect of my life for my homesteading future and spiritual growth. 
 Another reason to work hard:

   

Easy Savory Artisanal Olive French Toast 

The other day my family went to “Central Market” in Poulsbo (WA) to pick up some groceries. There my husband found an olive bread that he said was just like what he had eaten when he was in the Middle East. We brought it home and never got to it. It hardened and dried. 

Most people would have thrown it away but we know how to solve this problem. Make French Toast! Back home we often would buy various artisanal breads at our favorite Farmers Market. It almost always was rock hard the next day. So we started using it to make the BEST French Toast. Never soggy and has a nice chewy quality. For regular breads you can make it similarly to the instructions below. Instead of making it like this savory recipe use your regular French Toast recipe for soaking the bread in.

I don’t have an exact recipe for this. It is mostly experimenting with what you like and how much you want to make. What I do first is whisk some eggs.

  

Then I sprinkle the mixture with different herbs and spices. Pictured here is Turmeric, Salt and Pepper, Powdered Garlic, Smoked Paprika, Creole Spice and Dill. Use what catches your fancy though then whisk it again. You can add a dash of milk or water to make it fluffy. 

  

  

Then you cut your bread into slices no wider than an inch thick and place in the mixture to soak. Because these breads are usually dried and hardened it can take a bit. 5-10 minutes per side. Less for fresher bread. 

  

  
  
Then you can fry them in butter or oil until golden brown. If using garlic like I did you may get unsightly spots when cooking. It always still tastes fine to me though. 

  
  
Serve with alone or with Parmesan cheese or crumbled queso fresco! If you want to make your own bread from scratch that is even better! 

Quick and Easy Blackberry And Chia Jam 

Blackberries grow in wild abundance where I live in Washington State. Growing up in the city in San Diego I never saw these kinds of things unless we went camping or on vacation out of state (or country). Sure, I saw farms with strawberries, pumpkins and other edibles but wild blackberries? Never. Not any wild fruit actually. We have only lived here as of last July and didn’t find out about the blackberries until the season started to wane. No wild harvested jams or pies for us this time around! I did get to eat a few fresh berries however and my baby got to try her first blackberry straight off the bush thanks to new friends here. 

The other day we went to the store and I decided to make jam since my husband didn’t have interest in the mandarin and honey marmalade I made. What does go for? Blackberries. Well, he went for them after not finding plums. Out of season but still available. Part of me wants only to support in season foods grown locally or on my own land someday. The other part of knows that even though out of season these green house grown berries will make him happy. I suspect I will have to do the same with my children if they develop a fancy for a particular food. Though, I will always encourage and educate them on eating in season. 

So today I am making jam. Blackberry and Chia Seed Jam with Honey! We tend to have an abundance of chia since my husband consumes some daily. I am usually not a huge fan (he usually will take a spoonful with just water and hold it in his mouth before swallowing it. No thank you.) but I think along with the berries it will be good! It also will boost the healthy goodness of the jam! Everything in this jam in fact is pretty healthy! A quick Google search of the ingredients will give you lists of all their amazing properties. 

This particular recipe wasn’t made for canning though I will have plenty of those in the future! It will last a week or two in the fridge depending on how often you take it out and how tight you deal it. You can even freeze it for the future though that can alter the taste and texture. This recipe can also easily be made VEGAN if you prefer (it’s also naturally gluten free of you need it to be). Just swap the honey for maple syrup! 

Ingredient wise you will need: 

1 pound of blackberries (I am using fresh but frozen is fine and generally cheaper!)

3 tablespoons of chia seeds (We got ours from Costco)

3 tablespoons of honey (we use local) or maple syrup. You can alter this to taste. We like things on the sweeter side. 

You can also add a dash (I tend to eye things but I would say this would be around a teaspoon or less) of vanilla extract.

OPTIONAL: a tab of butter (noted later)

   

 
After I took this picture I discovered my daughter is tall enough to reach onto the table. There she grabbed the honey and attacked it happily like Winnie the Pooh. I finally managed to get it back and she joyfully bounced next to me as she sucked on her hands after. Oh parenthood. 

To make the jam you will need to add your berries to a pot (I use a slightly abused enameled cast iron pictured here. I promise I clean the crap out of this thing.) and heat on low while you mash lightly (leave some chunks!). They will create their own juice so there’s no need to add anything else just yet. 

  

After mashing I keep mixing on low for about 5 minutes. You may start drooling now when the smell hits you in the face. A dish cloth can be used to sop up the mess. 

    
 

Now you can add the chia seeds and the honey (or syrup). Stir continuously (be sure to scrape the bottom) for another 5 minute or so and watch it thicken delightfully. 
If it begins to froth a tab of butter helps. You can try coconut oil if making it vegan but if I remember correctly it is something in the dairy that helps. It doesn’t harm the jam so leaving it for thing is fine. 

   

 
 

Afterwards, turn off the heat and let sit for a minute or two before adding the vanilla extract. Now, you could can this in your preferred method if you want but due to the lack of pectin, et cetera it still won’t stay much longer. I let mine cool completely before putting it in a mason jar and setting it in the fridge.

  

You can put this in Tupperware as well. For a mason jar use a ladle and if you can there are different tools to help reduce splatter and waste. 

   

 

I love easy to make treats like this. It is great for the beginning homesteader to a seasoned one. Perfect when you don’t have a lot of time and/or don’t want to wait for good eats. Plus, just because it is easy doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious.