Author Archives: Farmer Deb

Making a Pillow, a Beginner’s Sewing Project

I have a friend who started a small ranch-based combination animal rescue/learning environment for people with brain injuries (and at-risk youths). From her web site, Hope Farms Project (yes, I made her web site):

“Inspired by her son who suffered a stroke before birth, Lisa is committed to offering children, youth and adults with disabilities an opportunity to live up to their fullest potential. She believes that nature, nurtures. Lisa’s personal experience watching her son grow and heal in nature with animals has motivated her to leave the political job she loved and pursue her passion for animal-assisted social work. Hope Farms Project is the result of that decision and she has never looked back.”

pillowI’ve been volunteering my graphic design services to Hope Farms whenever I can and have also helped in her garden. This year she got the great idea of teaching homesteading skills to her students and asked me if I would do the honors. She knows I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, make a lot of things from scratch and have a few homesteading skills myself. I jumped at the opportunity!

How to make a pillow

Homesteading students

Classes will be held the first Wednesday of the month and so the first one was April 6. The theme was sewing, the first project was to make a 12″ pillow. I thought it would be nice if I chronicled the classes here and it would give me extra things to write about. This was a good project to get the students familiar with a sewing machine, sewing by hand, using a pattern and how things “go together.”

Sarge waiting for his new pillow…

Learning how to sew at an early age has been the basis, I think, for many of my other skills, having used the knowledge to do things like build fences, tile my kitchen splashboard, design my own clothes and inventing a fabric pet-related product that I had sold on the internet for five years.

I’m trying something new with the project instructions: I’m using a plugin designed for recipes for the instructions! I think WP Ultimate Recipe would be pleased. You can find my instructions here: 

Pillow Making, a Beginner Sewing Project
Print Recipe
how to make a throw pillowHere's a little project that can be put together in an hour or less. The size of the pillow is your choice. The instructions here are for a small (12") pillow. Note: You can print these instructions, the instruction photos will not print.
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Pillow Making, a Beginner Sewing Project
Print Recipe
how to make a throw pillowHere's a little project that can be put together in an hour or less. The size of the pillow is your choice. The instructions here are for a small (12") pillow. Note: You can print these instructions, the instruction photos will not print.
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Ingredients
Servings: pillow
Instructions
  1. Fold fabric in half, right sides (outside of fabric) facing together.
  2. Optional: Make a 13" x 13" template/pattern out of paper, pin or weigh down on your folded fabric and cut (two pieces). Otherwise, just cut two 13" x 13" pieces of fabric.
  3. With the two pillow pieces still right sides together, pin them on all four sides.
  4. Sew seams on 3 full sides of the pillow with the sewing machine, 1/2" in from the edges. Partially sew the 4th side, leaving an opening large enough to fit your hand into.
  5. Trim corners to an angle (a little bit, make sure you don't cut the stitches). This will keep the corners from bunching up when the fabric is turned right-side-out.
  6. Reach into the pillow, grab the far end and pull it through the hole -- turning the pillow right-side-out. Push out corners by sticking a finger in them.
  7. Optional but helpful: Iron the pillow flat, folding the unsewn seam edge to the inside. This will help you later when you hand-sew this last opening closed.
  8. Stuff pillow with the batting. You can make it as full (firmer) or loose (softer) as you want.
  9. Pin the opening closed with straight pins.
  10. Hand sew the opening closed. That's it, you're done!
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My Secret Ingredient and a Camp Potatoes Recipe

secIngredPeople often ask me what seasonings I use to make my foods taste so great, so today I’m sharing my secret ingredient. I call it, no surprises here, Herban Farmer’s Secret Ingredient. I make this myself, hand-grinding the peppercorns in an antique coffee mill which gives them a nice variety in consistency, adjusting the ingredient proportions and using sea salt, so that I finally have it the way I love it. And do I ever love it!

Although I have an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to spices, seasonings, oils… this is the one seasoning that I use so much that I have to make a new batch several times a year. Plus, I have a few friends that are addicted to this stuff and come to me with their empty jars for refills. Not to mention it makes great Christmas gifts! This seasoning just seems to disappear… but considering that I use it for breakfast (it’s great in egg dishes), lunch (great in salads, on sandwiches, in soup, etc), dinner (awesome on meat, fish, poultry, seafood, vegetables, mashed potatoes, in sauces, stews, soups, jeez, even on cottage cheese!) and anything in between (yes, try it on grilled peaches or vegetables, you can’t go wrong) it’s no wonder I’m always having to crank up the old coffee mill.

potatoesI’ve even had friends joke that it makes a great sachet for the underwear drawer and will also do in a pinch to melt snow off the driveway… but enough of the jokes. This seasoning has become my ~secret ingredient~ and I have decided to spread the wealth and sell it on my blog. Every bottle is filled with my personally hand-made Secret Ingredient. The price includes shipping and packaging (and that’s not cheap these days!). If you order any of my other products such as the fermentation kits, I’ll throw in a sample packet of my Secret Ingredient.

So… try it, you’ll LOVE it!

Here’s the perfect recipe to begin with. I’ve been making this for decades. Not only is it easy to make, delicious and satisfying, but it’s also the perfect dish to make when you’re camping. I’ve even backpacked into wilderness and made this—it’s so easy when all the prep (cutting up of food) can be done in advance and carried in baggies. You could also add some meat to this to make it a meal rather than a side dish. Diced ham is a nice addition. Want to get even fancier? Add some grated cheddar to the top and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Potatoes with Peppers and Onions
Print Recipe
potatoesThThis side dish is delicious, satisfying and easy to make. It's also a great camping dish since you can do all the prep at home. This goes especially great with grilled trout. It can also be served as a meal, just add some protein (ham is good) and cheese at the end. It's also a VERY good breakfast dish paired with eggs.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Potatoes with Peppers and Onions
Print Recipe
potatoesThThis side dish is delicious, satisfying and easy to make. It's also a great camping dish since you can do all the prep at home. This goes especially great with grilled trout. It can also be served as a meal, just add some protein (ham is good) and cheese at the end. It's also a VERY good breakfast dish paired with eggs.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in boiling water for about 2 minutes. This will remove some of the sticky starch that would otherwise make the potatoes stick to your skillet. It also speeds up the cooking process. This step can be skipped, but just know the potatoes will stick more to the skillet. Drain and rinse potatoes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add peppers, onion and potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with Herban Farmer's Secret Ingredient and sauté until the vegetables are soft and browning nicely, about 20-25 minutes if you've parboiled the potatoes, about 35-40 minutes if not. You can add about 1/4 c of water and cover at this point to deglaze the pan.
  3. If adding ham or cheese, that can be done at the end. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Gallop intentionally!

This is a short story about a funny, profound (or profoundly funny) statement.

Spoiler alert: There’s a recipe at the bottom for a seriously delicious carrot cake.

horse portraitA couple of years ago I was out at the barn riding my horse, Joe. He’s a sweet and personable horse and usually pretty low key. I had been lungeing and riding him in the indoor arena and afterwards decided to ride him around the property. I had a bareback pad on him (essentially just a padded piece of fabric, with no stirrups) and a bitless bridle that I was trying out.

bareback pad, bitless bridle

This is a barepack pad and bitless bridle.

We were outside the back end of the indoor arena. Inside, I could hear a couple of women chatting and riding their horses. Joe suddenly noticed the activity, decided it was a saber-toothed tiger or something worse, pivoted 180° on his left front leg and took us off at a full gallop. We covered about 500′ in less than a second (or so it seemed), just long enough for me to start looking for a soft place to fall. In the meantime I pulled back on the reins and shouted “whoa Joe.” He stopped fairly quickly, bucked a little then settled down. I got him walking again and soon enough he acted like nothing had happened. I was amazed that I hadn’t fallen off. It all happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to squeak out some adrenalin (or pee for that matter). It was also nice to learn that bitless bridles do work! We walked around the property for another 10-15 minutes and then I decided it was time to call it a day. I took him back to the barn to untack and do the usual end-of-the-ride stuff — brushing, picking out his hooves, sharing treats (peppermints, horse cookies, carrots, apples or his favorite—my carrot cake).

terolyn training

A beautiful day to ride.

Later as I was heading out, I ran into two friends chatting in the lounge area. One already knew about my speedy adventure with Joe and the other didn’t, so I shared my little story. One woman commented that she always gallops when bareback, which is very true. She and her friend have Arabian horses that they’ve owned for years and they ride like they were born in the saddle. With mere bareback pads, they gallop all over the place, up and down small ravines, over gullies, even ride their horses backwards—and never, ever fall off. I’ve NEVER ridden like that (sadly, I just realized right now, I probably never will).

gallop intentionallyWhen the one woman said she gallops bareback, the other looked at her incredulously and asked, “but do you gallop intentionally?” The other replied solemnly, yet very emphatically, “I always gallop intentionally.” I had to laugh at the exchange—from my position, it all looked and sounded so serious. I was also tickled by the expression, “gallop intentionally.” It just sounded so profound, like “live consciously,” but with more gusto. I told the girls that would be a great bumper sticker. So I went home and made one!

SO: If you want to remind others to live their lives intentionally and with passion, to gallop intentionally just as YOU do, you need one of these bumper stickers! They are 10″x3″, removable waterproof vinyl and professionally printed. Click here to buy one for the amazingly low price of only $3.99. Postage is included!

Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

 

Carrot Cake, Joe's Favorite!
Print Recipe
carrot cake recipeThis carrot cake is dense, moist and bursting with warm flavors. I'd recommend baking it in a bundt or similar cake pan. It can be served slightly warm, with whipped cream, a little ice cream or your favorite cream cheese icing.

 

Off label use: this makes a really great breakfast food!

Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Carrot Cake, Joe's Favorite!
Print Recipe
carrot cake recipeThis carrot cake is dense, moist and bursting with warm flavors. I'd recommend baking it in a bundt or similar cake pan. It can be served slightly warm, with whipped cream, a little ice cream or your favorite cream cheese icing.

 

Off label use: this makes a really great breakfast food!

Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (This recipe seems to work as is at this temperature, regardless of elevation.) Butter baking pan if needed.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon) and set aside.
  3. Grate carrots and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the oil (mix with fork) into the sugar.
  5. Add four eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add pecans, mix.
  6. Add dry ingredients, a cup at a time, mixing well. Add grated carrots, mix until all ingredients are blended.
  7. Pour into baking pan, bake for 1 hour or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean or cake springs back when pressed with a finger.
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes on a rack, then remove from baking pan.
  9. Slice and serve with your choice of a dollop of whipped cream, ice cream or cream cheese icing—or plain (my favorite).
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