Tuesday, September 29, 2015

3 Ways to Use Your Apple Harvest

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have lots of apples! In Fall, I think that when it comes to food, pumpkins try and take center stage, but I feel that the apple is too often overlooked.  (I am biased, while I do love pumpkin and I love the idea of eating seasonally, I am definitely a huge proponent of the apple and all you can also do with them.)

So, yesterday, I worked on the first of 3 ways to use your apple harvest.  (Don't worry, I will share more as I try out recipes.)


First, my go to way of putting up apples is always apple butter.  I LOVE apple butter!  It makes me think of my great grandmother.  She was always canning and her apple butter was just the best.  Unfortunately, her recipe wasn't passed down to anyone in the family, but I have found a recipe that I feel is pretty close (or at least as much as I remember...)


I follow pretty much everything they do.  I would suggest that if you have a dutch oven, it works wonderfully for this task.  Mine is a 3 quart dutch oven by Gourmet Living which is very affordable for a dutch oven. 

Post apple softening in cider vinegar and water.


I like using our second hand food mill to reduce the apples to create the puree.

I know there are a lot of crock pot versions, and I am sure they are also good, but I just like the hands on approach and I have a lot of say over how thick and how it sets up and I can do the whole process from start to canning in about 3 hours.

Just after canning.

They make really good gifts. I always make sure to make myself plenty and then have at least a few jars for gifts.

Cut out some small squares of cute fabric and viola! A lovely gift for the holidays!

Ok, enough on apple butter.  So, while I had apple simmering, I found a recipe through Pinterest (hey, speaking of, follow us on Pinterest here) for a crockpot apple crisp.  


I only changed one thing, due to not having just old fashioned rolled oats.  Instead I used my package of Bob's Red Mill Rolled 5 Grain Cereal. 

Was a great substitute for the regular old fashioned oats!
I quite enjoyed this recipe...actually the hubby and I enjoyed it so much that we forgot to take a photo before we ate it all...

Finally, another fun idea I saw on Pinterest was on my mind while working away.  That was a great way to use the old unwanted rinds and peels. (As you will see, you actually use these in the apple butter, but not in the crisp.)  I love trying to use everything, so you can imagine how excited I was to find a recipe for making your own apple cider vinegar from the remains.  


I will note that this is the first time I am trying this recipe, and results won't be in for quite some time.  But it was easy, and we use apple cider vinegar for all sorts of things here, including upset tummies, recipes (like apple butter! Ok...Ok...I will stop going on about the apple butter...) and even to help keep the angora rabbits healthy.  So I was all about giving this a try!

My apples making us some vinegar.
So in about a month and a half I will be letting you know how it worked out.  But if I understand, this is basically a form of lacto-fermentation so I am sure it will be quite nice.

I still have plenty of apples, and plan on getting many more from our local you-pick over the next couple of months, so keep an eye out for some more ideas for these little gems.

How do you like to use your apples?

Ash

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's Fall! That means apples and yarn!

Guess what? It is Fall now!  Today!  (Even though the temperature it is still in the 100's here...) And to help usher in the new season, this past Sunday we went out to our local 'you-pick' orchard and collected a bunch of apples!  Which means soon I will be making and canning apple sauce, apple butter and apple pie filling.  Although I may have to go get more apples if I want to do all that....

Our local 'you-pick' orchard...we braved the 105 degree
afternoon for our apples.

But oh, Sundays really are quite lovely for a drive in the country!

The hubby enjoyed the drive, too.

Not a bad haul for our quick afternoon out.  

Fall is also the perfect time for lots of cuddly yarn!  We have been trying to spin up a bunch and I just loved this nice plush pile of freshly plied and washed alpaca yarn.

Cozy, comfy yarn!
I am trying to spin a bunch up for a show that we are heading to in mid-October.  You can, of course, find our selection of yarn here at our etsy shop!

And we recently gave these little cuties a trim so I now have some super soft baby angora fiber to blend into our yarn.  Look at this face!
Little Jet is too cute! 
Soon I will share our stacks of yarn and pics of our freshly canned goods with some recipes, too!

Ash


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Dance of Homesteading and Running Your Own Business (and how I learned to love them both)

Today has been a great example of the dance of homesteading and working from home.  For the first couple of months or so, I struggled with this.  I felt as though I needed to be working solely on the business, and doing the housework, keeping up the house and the animals were all taking away from that.  But recently, as I reexamined what it was that I had hoped to achieve with the business, I realized that one of the things I wanted most was self sufficiency, creating a homestead in our little slice of the world.  And to do that, I needed to also focus on how much money I can save by being at home, which creates a more self sufficient and environmentally friendly household.



I think it is engrained in us that we should work, pay bills, buy stuff, repeat.  And I knew deep down that was not what I wanted.  I wanted to break that cycle, which is where I thought starting my own business fit in.  The first steps were very hard.  Depending on just the hubby's income to live, still having bills to pay, and still very much getting caught up in the hustle and bustle and expectations that we should be making more to do stuff and buy stuff with.  And just the doubt that comes along with the slow growth that happens when you start any business.

I began to think about getting a part time job to supplement and I began to crunch the numbers.  Since we live a little outside of town a few things became apparent.  My being at home allowed me to make almost all our meals from scratch, which saves us a lot and keeps us healthier.  Us having one car cut down on expenses and gas, and if I had a job, too, we would, at the very least, have to pay more for gas, and at the most, would have another car to keep up, pay for and insure.

It started to dawn on me that part of what I love is being able to provide good meals, grow food (when the critters of the area aren't eating them), put food up for later, and generally take care of the homestead that we are building.

And it is a dance.  All this could easily be a full time job, so fitting the business in at the same time can be tough.  I'd say, in all honesty, that I can't give 100% to either.  But I think that is okay.  The business (or the vegetables) may grow a little slower, but I am building on a bigger vision.

And so, today has been a great example.  This morning I got the hubby off to work, then fed the animals, took the dog for a walk and watered the garden, including our new batch of greens I have planted in pots and have covered in wire.  (Humans 1, critters 0.)



After everyone else was taken care of, I started dough for some french loaves, and got the crockpot all ready for potato chowder, with several vegis from our CSA box from Talley Farms.




Then I set to work.  I have an exciting project we are doing with Birch Fabrics for this year's Quilt Market.  Only a littler spoilers...it is going to be a cozy quilt from some brand new Birch fabric.  But more on that soon.


At lunch time, I set to soaking some dried beans for future meals, and baked up that bread.  Then it was back to cutting fabric for work.

After the brain felt nice and melted from cutting as close to perfectly similar quilt pieces, I figured I'd share a few (or more...hehe) thoughts with you.


I hope for all of you starting something new in your life, you allow yourself the time to grow into it.  It is hard, and if you ever need to talk about it, don't hesitate in emailing me here or leaving a comment below.  But if you are anything like me, things will start to fall into place.  Believe me, it is still going to be hard.  But I am learning so much, and am finally starting to really enjoy the ride. (Well, except the dishes.)

Ash

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Prepping for our first 3 day show!


Whew!  I know I have been awful at posting, but we have been hard at work preparing for our first 3 day show!  We are heading to the Creston Rodeo for 3 days of good food, selling our goods, festivities, and LOTS of sun.  We are in a heat wave (it was still 80 degrees at 10pm last night....I think about 104 at the hottest part of the day yesterday....) and I have been wracking my brain on how to deal with the dust and heat at our booth.

First, we bought some awesome bright green astroturf to put down to cut down on the dust right in our booth and to be adorable.  Next I set to work making a give-a-away to those that come check out the booth that will be much needed....paper fans!


In the making...


Ta da!  I had fun designing it!

Of course, in addition to making things to make the booth look nice and help everyone not die of heat stroke, we have been hard at work making some more product.  I am a bit nervous I still don't have quite enough, and will be working like a maniac today to finish, but I am pleased with the results.

Still working on this pillowcase...

How perfect is this fabric?!  I just love it with the edging.
I hope someone takes these pillowcases home to love!

And a few more towels to add to the mix.

So if you are in the Central Coast area of California, come stop by this weekend! (Here is our etsy local link for a little more info!)  Just head on down to the tiny and adorable town of Creston and you can't miss it!

More soon!

Ash

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sweet and Simple Crochet Clutch Pattern

We are so excited to share our first DIY pattern!  This one is a little clutch we have been working on here at Fiberton Acres.



We have been selling these at our local markets and shows, and they are a lot of fun to make.  Great for beginners, but also such a great stash buster for any level.  Plus, I LOVE buttons!  So I have a blast finding adorable buttons to go with each one of these little beauts!

I have the whole pattern below, but if you'd like to print it off, click here.


Fiberton's Sweet and Simple Crocheted Clutch


Tools/Materials:

  • Size G Crochet Hook
  • 1 Skein (~150 yards) worsted weight yarn (on the thicker worsted weight side) in main color
  • Small ball (~10-15 yards) in contrasting color
  • Alternative for yarn: Use up your stash or small balls for striping!
  • Thread and needle to secure button.
Abbreviations:

Ch: Chain
Sl: Slip Stitch
Sc: Single Crochet
Hdc: Half Double Crochet



The Pattern:


Chain 40 in main color.


Row 1:


Turn, and skipping the first 2 ch, half double crochet (hdc) into 3rd chain from hook. The first 2 ch will become your first hdc. Continue in hdc to end of row - 38 hdc total.



Row 2:


Ch 2 and turn. Hdc into each stitch to end.


Row 3:


Ch 2 and turn. Hdc into each stitch to end, but at last stitch, don't pull the final loop through, leaving the 3 loops on your hook, like this:




Then grab your next color and pull that through to complete that hdc. This is the best way to switch colors smoothly.





Row 4:


Ch 2, turn and hdc to end.


Row 5:


Same as row 3, you will ch 2, turn, hdc to end but don't complete the last stitch to change back to main color (see row 3).


Clip off contrasting color to get it out of the way while you finish. Pick the main color back up and complete last stitch with it as you did above.


Rows 6-10:


Ch 2, turn, hdc to end.


Row 11 (buttonhole row):


Ch 2, turn, hdc 32 times, ch 1, skip next stitch, hdc remaining stitches. (This will fit up to a 1 in button. If you want a larger or chunkier button, hdc to 31 stitches, ch 2, and then skip next 2 stitches and hdc to end.)


Row 12:


Ch 2, turn, hdc to end, including 1 (2) around chain. 38 stitches total still.


Rows 13-21:


Ch 2, turn, hdc to end.


Finishing:


First, fold the bottom of your clutch most of the way up, like this… (You will want to check to see where you like the buttonhole to sit on your top flap.)





Next, starting at the bottom right of the clutch, sl through all thicknesses of your piece. (Right by the fold, as we are about to secure the pouch in place.)


Then sc up the right side through all thicknesses and continue on to flap edging. This will give your clutch a more finished look. At the corner, chain 1 and sc back into the same stitch you just sc'd into. This will create a clean turn. Continue across top. (You will be crocheting into what is called the ‘post’ now, which is wider than a normal stitch, so you may find you need to make 2 stitches into each post to create a clean look. Let me know if you have questions on this.)




At the next corner, do as you did on the last corner with 1 ch and sc back into same stitch as the last sc, then continue down the left side to secure the last side of the pouch. Cut yarn and slip through loop on hook to secure.





At this point, turn inside out and pull all yarn ends through to wrong side and weave in. (I often then secure them further with FrayCheck. Also found at most craft supply store.)


Now your clutch should look something like this! Time to pick out your button! The hole will stretch a fair amount if you want a chunkier button, but I'd say no more than 1 in. If you did a bigger hole, you can do a much larger button.





Mark where your button will sit, and stitch on with thread and needle and secure well.





And ta da!!

Your very own handmade clutch! These are so fun and fast that you will want to make them for:
  • gifts (your friends will think you're the coolest)
  • every outfit you own
  • anytime you see an adorable button
  • to use up those scraps
  • or when you want some quick gratification!



Thanks for joining in the fun! We’d love to see your creation! Share your clutch (or ask us questions) on our Facebook, Instagram or Ravelry! Or, if you think this is cute and fun and all, but don't want to pick up your hook, head on over to our etsy shop and pick one out for yourself. :)


Ash


PS - We are working on growing our patterns and DIY section on our website, and we have a few already on there you can check out for both knitting and crochet.