Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keeping with tradition....and other stuff

So in "keeping with tradition"...it has been WEEKS since I last blogged. I had so many good intentions to blog at least ONCE a week, so I may have to try that one again.

But as they say..."the path to Hell is paved with Good Intentions"...or something like that.

So here is what we have been up to the last few weeks:

Log splitting...still not done, and definitely NOT stacked, considering every morning around 5 or 6 a.m. I am stumbling over large trunks of wood on our dark back patio...but I digress...

I have managed to make/can Pear Butter...been thinking long and hard about Caramel Apple Butter. The more I think about it, the more I love the idea! For the Butters this year I am making up Pint jars & 8 oz jelly jars. The 4 oz jars just aren't enough when it comes to the Butters. Also kicking around the idea of some Pumpkin Butter as well....then there is the Jalapenos that still need to be canned. I don't think I can wait for B-Real to do them any longer (the Debbie Meyer Green Bags will only keep those suckers fresh for so long).

You can now find Nutshell Farms items at The Dreaming Tree Photography Studio and Art Boutique in Downtown Bryan, Ohio...right on the square! :)  I am SUPER excited about this! They had their grand opening last Saturday (hence one reason for the blog hiatus...busy little bee creating items to sell through there). Things went really well for owner Kylie Bishop, and I believe quite a few Nutshell Farms items have sold already.

I am excited to see where that business venture takes Nutshell Farms!

Busy, busy, busy....at work...blech!

Chickens are doing splendidly...some of our chicks from this spring have grown enough & are laying!

The 2011 Garden is proving to turn out pretty darn good! :)  We have been harvesting Cauliflower as big (sometimes bigger) as our heads! Broccoli is a constant staple in our house, and the fact that we have been eating our own homegrown broccoli is out of this world! Brussel Sprouts will soon be gracing our dinner table, the squash did well, as did the cabbage, jalapenos, tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, chives, garlic, and red peppers!

New soap will be making an appearance at our farm as well! Batches of Natural (fragrance free), Cinnamon Chai, and Lemon Poppy seed will be on the agenda this weekend! Maybe, oh maybe, B-Real will make a couple more soap molds so I have do all three batches in one day (even one weekend would be nice). He made me one...and we wanted to try it a few times to see how it would work...and the orders are piling up, we are out of soap...and I'm stressing about the curing time. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for cold process soap to dry and cure...just squeaking into our first 2011 holiday season craft/vendor show. And I REALLY want to unveil these treasures of soap upon the locals! We already have a little of a following...thanks to my Mom & her church officers! THANKS MOM, you have been our biggest supporter since day one!

As some may know, my Mom was diagnosed last summer with Uterine Cancer. My mother has been my rock, my best friend, my hero....for a very long time, so the thought of losing her was totally devastating for me.  She is doing great now, she made it through surgeries, chemo, and a couple rounds of radiation...all while keeping her grace, faith, and humor!

My mother has never once doubted my ability to create, and has always encouraged us girls no matter what the endeavor. I will be eternally grateful to my Mom for teaching me how to be a woman, how to be my own person, and for never (at least outwardly...lol) doubting my talents. 

Well...it is now 9 p.m...and as silly as this sounds...my bed is calling to me. I must at least lay down, as my day will be starting again very soon!


Nutshell Farms

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Seasons They Are A Changin'

It's getting to be that time of year again. . . you know. . . HARVEST Season! While Autumn is my favorite time of year, the last several years have also become increasingly more hectic with every passing fall.  Every year I tell myself that I will be "more organized", "ahead of the game", so on and so forth. 

Well, this season has started off no less hectic/chaotic than any other year. . . in fact, I am already contemplating throwing in the towel! Say 'to heck with it all', and hunker down til the first snow has fallen.

LOL Okay, so maybe that was a little over dramatic, but you get my point!

I am ready for cooler days, crisp evenings, bonfires, fresh baked apple/pear/pumpkin bread, and soup. . . Oh how I long for soup! Since today and the next couple of days will be record-ish highs, I will have to fore go any ideas of simmering up huge pots of steamy belly-filling goodness.  I do see some cooler days on the horizon though, and I am ready (impatient would be more accurate).

Here are a couple recipes that I am yearning to try:

I have to admit that I have fallen in love with The Pioneer Woman, she is my super hero! Her recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup looks so yummy! She is so down to earth, and her food is definitely "family friendly" recipes.

I stumbled upon the Use Real Butter blog just the other day. . . and she has my mouth watering for this Chocolate Stout Chili! I LOVE Chocolate Stouts (or any stout for that matter)! I fell in love with them upon drinking my first 'Lion Stout' at my favorite restaurant up at the lake house. . . Shay's Chop House is one of the best places to eat! "You have to chew it before swallowing" would be B-Reals description of it, and since he started low-carb the heavy thick beers are out of the question for him! More for me! :) 

This last recipe is from In Jennie's Kitchen, which I have admired her wonderful recipes for quite some time now. My heart aches for her and her children during the difficult situation that they have faced. Kale, White Bean and Ravioli Soup isn't a traditional "bean soup". . . but the kale gives the soup a nice texture! Come on, who doesn't like Ravioli anyways?!?

So I challenge you, in between the hustle and bustle of the upcoming Harvest/Holiday season. . . try some fabulous new soup recipes (don't forget to share them with us/family/friends)!


P.S. Hopefully there will be a more consistent flow of blog posts. I really enjoy doing it, but when things are hectic blogging falls to the wayside. So I will be starting slow & steady on this new blogging regimen, trying to complete one blog post every week (no matter how small/large). Are we taking bets on how this will turn out? ;)

This upcoming Labor Day weekend will not go to waste on me! Oh no, while everyone else is enjoying festivities. . . I will be slaving away canning, creating, and OCD style organizing my upstairs rooms (fingers crossed that all 3 rooms get done)! FUN FUN!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Start of our New Collections!

I must admit...blogging regularly is a struggle for me. It's not that I don't spend hours on the internet every week, or that I don't have anything to say...it's just something very easy to procrastinate on!

I have been working away on some new stuff for the shop, and I am so excited about them! Here is a taste of what's to come this Fall/Winter season:

Super soft Merino Wool
More colors coming soon! :)

Acrylic Yarn
Sizes from Newborn to Adult

Acrylic Yarn
Sizes in Newborn up to Adult

Available in different sizes & colorways.

That is just a little sneak peek! :)  More items are available in the shop, and many more designs are coming soon! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting to know the "us" behind 'Nutshell Farms'

So...it's been a few years now that there has been an "official" Nutshell Farms, and I don't believe I have ever really introduced just who the 'us' is. Well, how about I start right now! If you would like to get to know us, please check out our new tab 'About Us'.

More posts coming in the next few days...I know, I know...I ALWAYS say this & don't post again for 3 weeks.

Since vacation ended, we have been busy tending to the gardens...using very useful information that we have learned, to improve them! Filling orders...decided in the near future I have got to update my office & current system for the shop!

Oliver has been a handful since we got back from vacation...guess that will happen when you leave a cat alone for a week (when he is used to be spoiled EVERYDAY). I need to take him to the groomers & get him trimmed. He has really long hair, and I brush him everyday...being gone didn't help! He now has some out of control dreads & it has been high 90's here...and still climbing...and it is just time for him to have a hair cut. I will post photos of before & after. I get him trimmed, but keep the booties & the mane. :)  He looks like a lion, but he is SOOOO skinny without all that hair. He looks like such a big cat (when he has all his fur), but the fur is deceiving!

I must say though that I do love my groomer! She does a fantastic job with him and every time he comes home from her, she puts a little bandanna around his neck! B-Real & I usually have one good long laugh right after he gets home...at his expense. He does look pretty adorable though when he gets trimmed.

The gardens are coming along fabulously. I am already picking vegetables everyday...time to start working on some new recipes!

We bottled the garlic wine (yes...I really did type GARLIC!) on Sunday! So excited to start using that in my recipes! The other wines need to be stabilized before they can be bottled.

Need to start working on some more soap! B-Real & I are in love with the soap that I have made, and others in our circle of family & friends have had some positive feedback on it as well...maybe coming to the online shop soon! We will have it available at our fall shows...still need to try out some more soap recipes!

Also on the horizon for Nutshell Farms...more breads & baked goods, homemade cheese, some "Tasting Days" (more right below on this), new shop items, even some low-carb items! :)

The "Tasting Days" is an idea that I have been kicking around for our food products. This would be available for local residents only (unless you happen to be making a trip to the NW Ohio area & want to book ahead). It would involve some great food...good conversation...and a chance to sample our items for free! But...like I said...this is still in the "thinking about it" stage. 

We are growing everyday as individuals, as a couple, and as a company! We are so thankful for our family & friends! Hope you all have a blessed evening...time to partake in a glass of wine, some delicious cheese, and some fresh berries!


Nutshell Farms

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not enough hours in the day!

I can't believe it is the middle of June already! YIKES!! We have been uber busy here on the farm...planting, weeding, picking strawberries, tending to the chicks (which are all grown now!) and chickens...and the list goes on!

We have new jams & jellies in stock, new items in the shop, and more coming soon! 

We have also been switching up our diets...blech! :(  B-Real is sticking to the low-carb/high-fat diet, and loves the results that he has gotten. I; on the other hand, had to change up my diet due to some health concerns. After many months of pain and being sick...and loads of EXPENSIVE tests later...I am now on a low-fat vegan diet. I wasn't much of a meat eater before this...but I have a love affair with anything dairy! Ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cheese...oh cheese how I miss you! I find myself craving things like hot dogs, and brautwurst! I have to say that I feel SO much better! The fact that they didn't have to remove any organs (they were talking about taking out my gall bladder...possible problems with my liver...pancreas...etc) is a plus, I have struggled with the no dairy rule though, and I hope to one day introduce it in small portions back into my diet.

We also have vacation coming up next week! YEAH! :)  I am so excited to spend a week @ the lake house. There is nothing more relaxing than the lake house in Northern Michigan. It is about a 6 hour drive from our farm, but so worth it! We have our own dock on Portage Lake, and it is about a 15 minute walk to Lake Michigan. Plus there is a fantastic winery about a 10 minute walk from the house...HEAVEN!

Well, I will try to keep up to date more often...things have just gotten extremely hectic! We will also be MIA for that week of vacation. There is no internet service at the lake house, and it is about a half hour drive to any Wi-Fi service....so we will be totally disconnected! :) 

Hope everyone has a pleasant week!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baking disaster: My Arch Nemesis

Check out my new article, “ Epic Fail: Life After a BakingDisaster.”

There have been MANY fails in my kitchen, not only with baking…but in cooking as well!  While most people don’t get to encounter these fails, they are there…haunting my dreams at night.  Depending on the severity of the fail, my usual instinct is to retry to recipe.  More often than not, there will be two batches of some baked item on our counter; one that is prize winning delicious, and one that is a flop.  Now when I am saying “flop” I mean there is something less than perfect about the recipe, but only minor tweaking is necessary to achieve desired results. 

What does one do when something entirely fails though? 

It has always been my philosophy to totally avoid a particular failed recipe for quite a while, normally setting that recipe on the shelf for months (sometimes years) before there is another attempt.  I have found lately that there have been more fails than successes with the low-carb baking that has been attempted. 

The low-carb diet really isn’t conducive to enjoying baked goods; however, there are many wonderful recipes out there now that are aimed at the low-carb lifestyle.  I personally have found that the synthetic ingredients needed for these treats are expensive, somewhat difficult to locate in a rural area, and somewhat hinky towards my digestive system.  Although I have had difficulty partaking in the low-carb items, B-Real truly enjoys being able to have baked treats that don’t add large numbers to the scale each week.  So for him, I continue to attempt delicious low-carb treats!

One nemesis of late has been the “Peanut Butter Brownie” recipe from one of our low-carb cookbooks.  Several attempts have been made, each time an EPIC failure arises!  The first attempt consisted of a severely undercooked middle, with dust bunny dry edges.  Other attempts since have been just as unsuccessful.  The latest attempt has confirmed (between both of us) that it’s time to move on!  While I am not one to give up on a recipe, it has become abundantly clear that delicious low-carb peanut butter brownies are NOT in our future.  While the brownies cooked more evenly, the middle was still more “fudgey” than the edges, the chocolate portion was very light in color and had a more cake-like texture, and the overall taste was “synthetic” and instantly turned the stomach after eating. 

How does one recover from such an “epic fail”?

Dust yourself off, and try something else! I tend to switch gears & go for a “tried & try” recipe, bringing about some good baking karma.  It can be very discouraging when you have tried a particular recipe numerous times, and each time it turns awry!  I had a 10 minute vent session to B-Real about synthetic products and what they could be doing to a person’s guts (I was really on my soap box for a hot minute).  I trudged along though and tried a recipe for some Low-Carb Pecan Sandies…long story short…not a home-run either.  B-Real promised to eat them, but the texture was very grainy/sandy and when baked they oozed some buttery grease.  BLECH!  I keep holding onto the fact that the Low-Carb Tortillas that I have been making are AMAZING!! The tortillas taste more like flat bread, and there is WAY more flavor in those bad boys than are in regular corn or flour tortillas!
While not everything I have made the past couple days were a fail, it is hard to recover from those kind of blows to my ego.  I guess I will have to try again another day.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend everyone! :) 


Nutshell Farms

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wacky Weekends...

So the weekend has come & almost gone already...where does the time go?

I started the seeds for our garden (YEA! I accomplished something more than laundry), B-Real & his dad tilled up the front yard (we had our front yard dug up this winter & had to replace our sewer pipes...blech!), and I am going to be trying my hand at some sugar scrubs...which I am VERY excited about! The first 2 batches of soaps are almost ready to sell; I just need to trim, then weigh, then "package".

Our first batch was an "unscented" style vegan soap. The second batch was Chai Tea with Vanilla & Cinnamon vegan soap...only I don't think I added enough fragrance to them...the natural oils have a pretty strong scent of their own, and I aired on the side of caution...didn't want anything that was too over powering in the scent department. Here is a sneak peek of the soaps:

This is our "unscented" vegan soap...smells wonderfully natural!

Chai Tea with Vanilla & Cinnamon Vegan Soap

The photos aren't the greatest...but the soap is curing in the furnace/wine room. There is only one light in the entire room...but here is a photo of some of B-Reals wine:

From left: Strawberry Wine, Garlic Wine

Now I know what your thinking...GARLIC WINE!!?!?! Actually it is for cooking or marinades, and it is VERY "garlicy"!  He also has a large batch of grape wine (it is to the left of the Strawberry Wine in the brown grocery bag). Now all he has to do is stabilize the wine, and we can bottle it! :)

Hopefully tomorrow I will get my butt in gear & make some gooseberry jam...mmmm...my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I'm sure there are lots of people out there that are thinking...what the heck is a gooseberry??

Well, it is a SUPER tart berry, and the only reason I love them so much is because my Grandma & Grandpa Z had two huge bushes of gooseberries...and Grammy Z would make the most DELICIOUS gooseberry pie! The crust was melt in your mouth, with sugar sprinkled on top, then the juicy plump gooseberry sauce in the middle....sweet yet tart...  Oh how I miss my Grammy Z & her AMAZING baked goods! She would bake things from scratch, with NO recipe, and I never learned how to make her pie crust. I am however a 'Champion of Jams' (I gave the title to myself), and my gooseberry jam on a fresh baked biscuit is as close I will every get to Grammy Z's legendary gooseberry pie!

But I digress...I have begun to ramble. Well, I really should get back to the grind & finish at least today's to-do list. :)

Oh...for those of you that have stuck in there throughout the rambling, and have found yourself at the end of this blog post...here is your treat! Each weekend (til the end of April) we will be offering a coupon code...all you have to do is enter  TGIW20  in the coupon code section @ checkout @ you will receive 20% off your entire purchase! :) 

Have a wonderful day!



Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Urban" Farming

So we have "officially" drawn out the gardening plan! YEAH! We are much more prepared, and organized (thankfully) this year! Each year that we have had a garden; or grow anything here on the farm, we have learned something new...mostly through trial & error...and some research.

We have our Heirloom seeds (this will be the very first year we use ALL heirloom seeds), and the garden is mapped out on paper. Now all we have to do is: start the seedlings, make the paper planting pots, till the gardens, lay the brick walkways...and plant away! :) That seems like a LOT of things to do, but we have a few weeks before we will be putting everything in the ground.

B-Real & I have stumbled across some excellent articles on the "Urban Farming Movement". While we do call it "the Farm"...Nutshell Farms is found with in the city limits of our small Northwest Ohio town. We have huge stacks of cut wood for our wood burning stove (which we heat our entire house with), 2 large garden spaces, a strawberry patch, apple tree, pear tree, and at the back of the lot we have a palatial chicken coop with an outdoor run. So as an homage to the Urban Farming Movement, and to all those self-sustainer's out there...here are some of my top picks from Etsy today! :)

Herb Barn   $475.00
created by: ECOGRO

created by: Urban Cheese Craft

created by:  Fenster Blau Studio

Seed Bombs  $21.00
created by: Visual Lingual

Well, thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to check out todays featured shops for more great products! :)


Nutshell Farms

WFH - Trying to make this work...

So it's been another couple of months since I have last posted. I have all these grandious ideas of blogging, and blog ideas/topics/etc...but I just haven't been putting them "down on paper" so to speak. Since I am trying this WFH (work from home) thing, maybe my delusions of grandure will actually come to fruition!?!

Since I am home so much more now (and spend ENTIRELY too much time online), I will be trying to maintain the blog at least every few days. We have loads of new items in the shop, more items coming soon, craft & vendor shows lined up, and tons of ideas for great blogs! :) 

Won't you join us on this adventure that we call life...and possibley buy some great handmade items? ;) 

Here are some of our newest items:

Those are just some of the newest items listed, more everyday! Thanks for having a look!


Nutshell Farms

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An almost completely unproductive day...

It's been a while...again. When things get hectic around here, the blog is the most likely to suffer! :)  A lot has happened in the last few months...hopefully within the next couple days we will post some of our newest items in the shop.

Mom is almost done with her last round of radiation for now. I've been working on LOADS of new items for the shop. Jeff has slacked on the wines. School resumes in June. The holidays were stressful...and not very "holiday sparkley". How is it the day after Valentine's Day already? Work has been....well...work. Winter has made me a hermit. We are this close to having all the needed supplies to make our own soap. Jeff & I have both lost 30 lbs. on our new diet. Oh so MANY project ideas...and so LITTLE time to complete them in.

Well...that sums it up for right now...I think. I feel more accomplished now, than when I started this post. :)  The most productive things I have done since I got off work @ 8am this morning is add wood to the stove, and get a shower...I love unproductive days! :)