Roof Blunders, Microwaves and Cake


Hmmm…what am I looking at you might be asking?  Lovely, isn’t it?  This is the two holes that were punched in the roof by a large branch at some point while the house was empty over the last 6 years.  There was a large maple tree growing next to our bedroom, hanging over the roof with dangling widow makers.  We decided to remove the tree along with the grandmother oak because of this, not wanting a repeat of this on the new roof.  When the bank took possession of the house, they put new shingles on it.  As you can see by this quality work, they put the rubber skin down along with a nice piece of left over flashing rather than actually patching the holes the way they should have been done.  Shoddy work for sure, and if it was not being paid for by a bank, but would have actually been inspected, I’m sure it would not look like this.  But, at least it’s watertight for now, and we are thankful for that.  Though shoddy, it kept a lot of water damage being done to the entire room and foundation under it.


And, this is the branch that Michael pulled out of the attic space that punched the larger of the two holes you see above.  They hadn’t bothered to remove this, either.  We are going to keep it for a souvenir, it’s currently in the garage awaiting some place of honor mounting. Michael’s a bit funny like that, he likes to keep the odd things.


We also got the contractor to come back to install the microwave and cabinet over the stove for us that had done our cabinet install. Because, of course, nothing comes easily in old home renovations, we ran into some complications.  The beam above is not straight nor the same thickness all the way through, being hand hewn.  The contractor needed to shim the cabinet well to get it to set right, and when trying to install the exterior venting, ran into the little “dog house” for the bulkhead stairs for the basement.  So, it’s a two-part install process, he’ll be back on Monday to finish it up.

Today is a cool day here in southern New Hampshire.  That being the case, and I having bananas browning on the counter, I decided to make a banana cake with cream cheese frosting.  It’s in the oven now and promises to be yummy gauging by the heavenly scent wafting through the house!  I’m going to give you guys the recipe in case you have some bananas needing their place in a cake, too.  Enjoy!

Banana Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups ripe mashed banana (about 4)

2 tsp lemon juice

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cups softened butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk


1/2 cup softened butter

1 8oz brick cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Mini chocolate chips for garnish

  1. Preheat over to 275 degrees.  Grease and flour  9 X 13 inch pan.
  2. In small bowl combine mashed bananas and lemon juice.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, soda, cinnamon, salt).
  4. In large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer), cream 3/4 butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
  6. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  7. Stir in bananas.
  8. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for about an hour and a half, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Depending on your oven, may take and hour 20 minutes to and hour 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool completely on rack.
  10. For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  11. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla
  12. Add confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until smooth.  If too thick, add a few drops of milk until it’s the right consistency for spreading.
  13. Spread on cooled cake and garnish with mini chips.

Until next time, be well, and blessings to you all.


Onion Jam, A Little Disappointment and Bedframes


The onion jam turned out with a wonderful flavor, the only problem I had was that it didn’t set.  Grrrr…not the first time this has happened to me using liquid pectin.  I will need to reprocess it using powdered pectin, which I get a better quality of product with.  Ah well, live and learn.  I won’t be purchasing the liquid any more. A few years ago, I made and canned my own liquid pectin using the crab apples from our tree. It actually turned out great, and I ended up using all 10 jars that I canned, but it’s long gone now.  I may try to make some more this year, but I need to be in the fall harvest for that to happen and right now is when I need it.  So, powdered will work in a pinch.  Following is the recipe for the onion jam, which I got from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving:


Quick Red Onion Marmalade

1 1/2 c thinly sliced halved red onions (I chopped in my food processor instead as I didn’t want the stringy onions since I was using it for a spread)

1/2 c finely chopped dried cranberries (also used my food processor on the puree setting, left a little of the onions in with them for moisture as they chopped better that way)

1/4 c lightly packed brown sugar

1/4 c apple cider vinegar (must be 5% acidity, so no homemade here, please)

2 Tbs grated orange rind (organic if you can find them…well for all of your ingredients actually)

3 cups unsweetened apple juice

1 package  1.75 oz regular powdered fruit pectin

4 c sugar (I know, I know a lot of sugar, but you don’t use much spread on each sandwich and pectin won’t work right if you alter the sugar, so splurge this one time, okay?)

  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.  (Beginning canners, please use the Ball website to learn to do this if you are unsure. Food safety is the utmost importance, and this gives you a much more detailed description than I could provide for you… http://www.freshpreservingcom/Official.  My official disclaimer ).
  2. In a skillet, over medium heat, combine red onion, cranberries, brown sugar and vinegar.  Cook, stirring, until onion is transparent, about 10 minutes. (Ummm, hopefully you like the smell of pickled onions because this gets a little…how shall we say? pungent, yes, that’s it, odiferous at best)
  3. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine cooked onion mixture, orange zest and apple juice.  Whisk pectin in until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Add sugar all at once (save yourself the headache and pre-measure this out into a bowl so you can add it all at once) and return to a full rolling boil (make sure you start timing AFTER that rolling boil is achieved, otherwise, your pectin won’t set right either…it’s rather tempermental stuff sometimes), stirring constantly.  Boil hard, stirring constantly for 1 full minute.  Remove from heat and skim off foam.
  4. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot marmalade.  Wipe rim clean and dry.  Center lid on jar, screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tip tight.
  5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.  Makes about 7 eight ounce jars.


This recipe is worth giving a try, I think it will make a great spread, it certainly came out delicious. You would need to like a sweet and sour kind of flavor with a citrus note, in fact I’m thinking this would make a great addition to a sweet and sour sauce for homemade Chinese food (making note in my brain for a future Chinese food night, yep, think this would be yummy for dipping spring rolls in, too, if thinned out a bit).  I like to do a fried rice, spring roll and some kind of stir fry night from time to time.  Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good trip to the Lucky Corner or China Garden, too, but this would be far healthier to just make my own and so some nights I do just that.

DSC_0299Okay, for the folks that were following and want to know what the board with the holes in it originally was on the farm…are you excited to learn it?…I bet you are!  My original guess was some sort of fencing, they would run barbed wire or something through it.  I thought that seemed plausible, but alas, it was nothing like that as it predates barbed wire by quite a bit.

rope bed

Back in the day, this was the frame for a rope bed.  In the days before box springs, they used ropes woven together to hold mattresses.  If you were wealthy, you would have had a mattress stuffed with wool, the people of lesser means used hay (hence the term “hit the hay” when you’re getting ready to go to bed).  The ropes were put in one side of the hole and then move over to the next hole and have it come back out that hole.  This would have been originally horizontal, as in the above picture, rather then vertical, as we see there in our wall.  We figure they must have needed a board to mount the lathe to, found this in the barn scrap pile and put it in the wall. Kinda neat, huh?

Gonna end for now. If anyone wants to try the onion jam recipe, please let me know how it comes out. You could also reasonably keep this in the fridge for a while if you didn’t want to can it, and I’m sure it would freeze well also.  Until next time, be well and blessings to everyone.

Pulled Pork, Blueberry Shortcake and Insulation


So, with all the renovations we have going on, making meals has been as challenging as wrestling cats.  But, I decided that I needed to make a nice Sunday meal and I had a big pork butt in the freezer that was calling for the crock pot.  I thawed it out, rubbed it in yellow mustard, and created a nice spice rub to coat the roast in and smothered it in fresh onions from a local farm stand.  Aren’t they beautiful?  I’m very much missing my garden for the second year on a row, but we are blessed to have plenty of fresh food available at outstanding farm stands.  Cooked on high for 5 hours, and it was falling apart and delicious!  The guys all ate it on fresh rolls, and I had mine sans bread.  I served it along with some sauted zucchini mixed with fresh tomatoes and some of those lovely onions.  Then for dessert, some homemade blueberry shortcake.  I picked blueberries at another local farm and so we had to have some shortcake.  I tried a new recipe for the cake part.  Usually, I make a biscuit. But this time, wanted a more cake-like bread.  It made for a delicious summer meal, and everyone was full up at the end of it.


Well, doesn’t this look warm and cozy?  This is the current state of our bedroom ceiling.  It’s gonna be great once we get it finished.  My husband and I are both very ready to have this done, moving the living room twice a day so that we can put our bed on the floor has quickly lost it’s appeal.  Yep, ready to have this done.  Limited time and the hot temps have put a damper on the pace at which it is being completed. We’re hoping to have it completed in the next couple of weekends.

About all to report from the homestead this week.  Will be canning some onion jam soon in the cooler temps, if it comes out well, I’ll post the recipe here in case you might want to give it a go yourself.  Michael does not like mayo so I am going to try the onion jam as a replacement for this.  I have made him hot pepper jelly in the past, so we’re going to give this a whirl.  I haven’t tried it before, but it sounds good.

Hope everyone’s summer season is passing with a lot of fun, some relaxation and a bountiful garden.  Be back soon!


We’re In!


Hello Everyone! So sorry that it’s been so long since I posted.  We have been 100% consumed in the house and getting our family moved in.  So much time consuming, exhausting work, but we are moved in. No, we weren’t able to get everything done that we wanted to do, we just simply ran out of time with lots of unexpected smaller problems cropping up that took so much more time then we anticipated.  One of which is the internet/phone service.  We need to rewire the house to update the phone service to actually be able to use internet here. Since we got rid of regular tv a couple of years ago, we stream everything now, so the tv viewing (when we have time for it!) has been sketchy, and right now, we have no phone as the splitter needed to supply both to the house grinds all service to a halt.  UGH.  My husband has spent to much time and energy trying to get that to work, and now that Radio Shack is long gone, he’s finding it tough to find the parts he needs to complete the job.  First world problems, I know.

Okay, we are in the new homestead for a bit over 2 weeks now.  We are still surrounded by a sea of boxes because a lot of the places where we are planning on putting that stuff haven’t been completed yet.  Need to make the large bookcase in the living room so that we can unpack about 12 boxes of books.  Need to add shelves in the kitchen to store the home canned food as we have no pantry space at all.  This was a problem for us in the design, there is no clear place for a pantry, so we just decided to add some shelves as we need them.  There is no linen closet in the bathroom as we haven’t yet completed the shower stall wall where the closet will go, so boxes of stuff are piled in the bathroom, and the room that is the boy’s den is a sea of boxes because the master bedroom is not completed.  We decided to drop the ceiling in the bedroom, thereby adding a lot of work to complete it.  The air quality will be better (important always, but more so as I have asthma and the space was a veritable critter crap and old junk repository), and we now will have cathedral ceiling in the bedroom, which is going to look wonderful once it’s done.  I will be adding some more photos to all this once I can find the cable for the camera to download them!

So far, we’re loving it here.  I have slept better here then I have in years at night, even though we are sleeping in the living room right now until the bedroom is done.  I’m not sure if it’s because this is a place we can handle best financially and so my mind is a bit at ease or because it feels like home to us, but either way, we’re relieved that this is home for a while now.  We got a good one!

The chicken coops were two of the hardest things to get here. The larger coop was built by a friend of ours, and it is made like Fort Knox and weighs a ton.  We decided to leave the girls in there while we moved it since it was just a matter of sliding it on and off the trailer.  This sounds so much easier then it actually was and in the end, we made it happen, but it was not without some tribulations.  The coop sits on cinder blocks, one on each corner.  Well, the ground it was going onto was not very level, and in the sliding/moving, one corner collapsed…then the others of course went with it!  The girls got a bumpy landing and the coop is now sitting on short cinder blocks making it tough to clean.  But they didn’t miss a beat in the egg laying and we’re still getting plenty of eggs each day.  I have one hen that has gone totally broody and is sitting on the other girls eggs every day.  This causes us to get pecked pretty good getting the eggs out from under her and her puffed up and angry with us.  I’m probably going to have to separate her for a few days and try to get her off that behavior. We have no rooster, and so her sitting on eggs does us no good and she won’t lay while this is going on, so we are feeding her for nothing, which never flies around here for very long.

So, back to the house.  I have enjoyed using my new gas stove.  So thankful to have my propane back, but I have been cooking on electric for so long now that it is taking me time to get used to it again.  The fact that it heats up so much quicker is interesting…I may or may not have burned a couple of egg breakfasts because of it.  We got a convection oven this time around and it cooks so evenly and I can use both trays in the oven to bake.  Good for those cookie monsters that live in my house!


So, here’s a little old house trivia for you…see if you can figure out what this post was originally designed for.  This was found in the front wall after we pulled the lathe off so we could insulate and eventually get the shiplap on that wall.  Any ideas what this was originally used for?  Our friend Gary was the one who told us what it was, guru of old house information that he is.  I never would have guessed it, but thought it was SO cool once I found out.  It was recycled, which I love.  That old Yankee ingenuity and thrift at work!  Leave in the comments if you know what it was (Gary, you’re excluded!) and perhaps there will be a little homemade homestead gift coming your way!

I am going to try to be better now with the blog that things aren’t so immediate and hectic in pace for us.  I will get lots of pictures of the renos you were following before just as soon as I find that cable.  Things are moving along here for us, we just need to keep the momentum going and complete more to let us completely move into the homestead.  Right now, we feel very in limbo with our stuff and needing to get settled for good.  Until next time, cherish each other and your homes!