Posts from the ‘farmgirl’ Category

What is a Tamarind? Oh, Sweet Tamarind!

It had to be more than twenty plus years since I ate a tamarind.  Last weekend I was presented with a sweet surprise.  My sister in law brought me a box of sweet tamarinds.  Now, these are hard to come by, so I knew this was a most precious gift.  If you are not familiar with tamarinds this post will help you appreciate them. 

Tamarinds grow on a tree mostly in tropical climates.  I have memories of eating tamarinds as a kid and climbing on tamarind trees, and just hanging out and eating them atop a tree.  When they are not ripen the shell is hard and kind of greenish, once they are ready to eat the shell turns brownish and is easy to crack, similar to the way you would crack an egg shell.  Most tamarinds that are ready will fall to the floor, as the shell dries.  Here are some pictures,to give you an idea.

Box of Tamarinds
Nutritional value – not much, but they are delicious! Mostly carbs, sugar, and fiber.  They are also high in calories as you can see in the box.
I like the fact that they are harvested in a way that is environmentally friendly and the box is recyclable.
Here is what a tamarind looks like
The shape varies and so does the size.
To eat it, just crack it open with your hands.
This is what you will find inside the shell.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking … but I assure you, it does not taste like that.
Close-up of the shell
Each section of the tamarind will contain a large seed.  To eat it, you separate a section and suck on it until you just have the seed.  The pulp is sweet and you must chew on it as well.  The seeds are very hard.
Here’s the whole thing.  The fibers hold the pieces of tamarind together.
Once you eat the whole tamarind you have an empty frame.  For the sake of this post I had to eat one.  Oh, the sacrifices we make for blogging!
Here’s a close shot of the empty frame.
And there you have it; this is how you it a tamarind.  Hope you enjoy this post, I did. 

Hitching the Trailer – Hitching the Future

Well, we accomplished what we head out to do.  The trailer is all packed with all our “important” belongings and ready to go.  We packed all we needed, three piece living room set,some pictures, beds,mattresses,some linens, tables, hutch, dishes and pots,dining table, chairs, new stove,dressers… and a bit more.  We had to play puzzle for a while to make everything fit into 16 feet of space – but we did. Except for some personal papers with sensitive info on them, everything else is packed and ready to go. Soon Eddie will take it to the farmhouse. 

I have found that the cats hate an empty house, since they don’t have where to climb and jump.  Now, it is running mania all over the space.  They have even gotten annoyed at each other at some times – interesting reaction.  It is time for them to get their summer coats and with no furniture around, cat hair flies all over and I find myself vacumming the entire place twice a day or more. 

With everything packed and just four glasses, a couple spoons, four coffee cups, a frying pan, a cooking pot, and four plates left, plus clothing and grooming essentials, we have managed to survive.  This presents a profound message to me – how little we really need to live day by day, and how much we complicate our lives with stuff.  We actually can function with what we have and the rest is truly excess.  Excess that is just to “make pretty” and useful when having guests and entertaining others.  I will probably rethink the 16 foot trailer once we are ready to unpack and simplify some more.

A heavy “do it yourself” restoration is ahead of us – that will be interesting, since the farmhouse needs to be gutted out. It will take us a few months of hard work and long days to do it, since it is only the two of us doing most of the work.  We still have to take down the walls and ceiling, and start fixing some rotted wood.  We have left the place empty and taken all garbage out, including ripping apart kitchen cabinets.  The farmhouse is now empty of stuff, except for an old heating stove and a water heater.  Here are some pics of the work we have ahead of us, some were taken before we cleaned up and ripped some stuff apart.

Kitchen before we ripped cabinets out – a true nightmare!
Other side
Other side
This stuff is gone now, rooms are empty
More craziness!  This farmhouse was abandoned for almost three years!
Leading to upstairs
Part of living room – tiny bathroom is there too.
Here’s one side of it.
Here’s the other side
Back room of the kitchen, floor needs repair.
The wood is fine here but needs sanding and repainting.
Here too!
Upstair, more sanding and repainting on this floor, the wood is actually good.
It is obvious that the home went thru some awful redecoration trances over the years, and later,through major neglect.  The rooms on this 100 year old farmhouse are actually pretty roomy, except for the back room and the bathroom (a later addition); the entry or foyer, living room, kitchen and two upstair bedrooms are an exact 15×15, the back room is a 14×11 and the tiny bathroom is 8×4.  This gives you an idea of the work ahead of us, but it should be fun, interesting non the least!  Hope you enjoy this post, till’ next one!


Benefits of a Tin Roof

We have been restoring the farmhouse little by little – step-by-step – all on a cash budget. While the progress is slower this way, it is our new way of doing things – slow but steady. Our next project is to replace the old tin roof with the same type of roof. The actual roof is 100 years old. In the beginning, we were not sure of what type of roof to use, but being that tin is one of the most durable materials used in old farmhouses, is lightweight, and can withstand the elements very well, we decided to use the same type of roof. Tin is also one of the cheapest materials, and is not corroded by rain or salt, and tin roofs are still on the market today. It is an economical solution to roofing, but also will go well with the architecture of the house, enhancing that yesteryear charm and appeal. Right now, we are in the process of obtaining local estimates before making the trip there.
There are many benefits to a tin roof besides its charming appeal:

• durability,

• economy,

• the musical sound of the falling rain on it,

• minimal maintenance,

• lightweight,

• metal resists mold, mildew, and damaging insects such as termites,

• insurance premium reduced in some states,

• energy efficiency,

• availability in many colors,

• tough and fire resistant,

• and longevity

I am sure that we will be very happy with the results, once it is installed. The only issue we are debating right now is if we want any color on it or the rustic appeal of metal tin, which is just historically charming.

Inexpensive Green Cleaners

I always like to recommend anything I like.  I have been training myself to live greener over the past year or so.  In the beginning, I dislike the fact that some green products were more expensive than other regular brands – I did not want to pay more to be green.  However, this is not the case, as I have found very good products that are not expensive and do a great job cleaning.  One of this products have been around for a long time – even before the green movement became popular – I am talking about our grandmother’s time, maybe more. In fact, Bon Ami has been around since 1886.  This product is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and it is pack in 65% post consumer recycling material, and can be disposed off in the recycling bin when you are done.  However, the packaging is so cute that you will be tempted to go the extra mile and use the container as a pencil or pen holder.

Bon ami is a powder cleanser.  It has five simple ingredients – limestone, feldspar, biodegradable cleaning agents from corn, coconut, palm … plus soda ash and baking soda – according to the product label.  Their logo has been a cute little yellow chick and the company’s motto is “Hasn’t scratch yet” – this is because the cleanser is very soft and does not contain any chemicals.  Here is a picture of the product in case you are wondering.  It is very convenient to use and it is inexpensive compared to other more modern green products.

Another convenient product that I like and is not expensive is Pure Citrus.  This is an air freshener that is made of citrus and lavender oil extracts and is 100% natural, non aerosol, and not tested on animals.  In addition, it is made in the USA. Here is a picture of it.
Pure Citrus air freshener
As I am learning to reduce my footprint on this planet I am testing some products and sticking with my favorites – These two I will keep using.  There are also more natural ways to clean and freshen up your home by using natural ingredients in raw form – but if you are looking for convenience, these will do.

Sock Cat Toy

I live with five felines who loooove to play with toys.  As any cat owner knows, cat toys are not cheap.  I inspect cat toys regularly for dangerous wear and tear.  Being that their favorites are always cloth mice, I decided to recycle some old socks and make them into mice.  This is very easy to do and the cats approve of the end result.  Here is how you do it.

  • Any old sock will do.  You can make the mouse small or large, depending on the sock, or you can fit a few socks inside each other for a bigger toy.  You can also cut half of a large sock to make a smaller mouse.
  • The sock should be inside out.  Roll the sock from the foot part up and once you reach the end, fold the other end to envelop the rolled part.
  • Sew on both sides that look folded, so when cats play it does not come apart.
  • Next, attach a ribbon as a tail.
  • You can sew eyes, but it is really not necessary – cats will bat around a blind mouse.
  • Here are pictures of the end product.

handmade cat toy
If you’d like spread some catnip inside before closing it or on the outside.  I hope you enjoyed this week’s project.

When the Cows Come Home

We all have heard the popular phrase “till the cows come home,” referring to a long and indefinite period of time.  “I will party till the cows come home” is a good example of it.  However, what happens when the cows come home?  And if they do, are we prepared to receive them?  I have asked myself that question many times, and the answer is always the same – I’ll never know until I see them.

Preparing for life changes can be exciting, exhilarating, scary, and many other things; however, we won’t know until the cows come home.  We continue with our plans of leaving Jersey and moving to the country.  Although we are preparing for it, and are excited … we won’t know until the cows come home.  For now, all we can do is wait for them, and prepare for their arrival.  In a way, it is good that things happen a bit slow, it gives you time to appreciate the road, the roses, the thorns, and yes, it gives you time to wait for those cows.

Picture taken on our way to the farmhouse.  I guess some cows where having second thoughts and heading back.

Simple Abundance – Always a Great Read

More than a decade has gone by since the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach came out and became a bestseller. I had this book sitting in my library for almost two years and recently I got to read it.  I loved it!  The principles on this book are true now more than ever.  Eddie and I have embarked in a journey to live the simple life and this book, although written with a feminine point of reference, is a source of inspiration, as many of the principles apply to men as well.  

Many families and individuals are simplifying their way of living, for many, this way of thinking has come after the effects of the current economy;for others, it has been brewing for quite some time. In a way, living the simple life is living mindfully, and has nothing to do with economic status.  Rich or Poor, both can live the simple abundance life, as it is more about spiritual connection and appreciation of the everyday blessings.