Oscar and the Cedar’s

“Oscar and the Cedar’s” sounds like a band that might open for Mumford and Son’s, but I am much more literal that that. I’m heading back to this blog after a month hiatus, with an update on the cedar we sawed from my mother-in-laws property this winter, which you can read more about here. Oscar, our sawmill, is making an appearance this round.

DSC_0992I should start by saying that on the day we skid the trees out of the woods, I not only forgot my good camera, but I had neither my long-gone-missing point and shoot (found on the Fourth of July in my tackle box from the previous year) or my cellphone camera since my phone had long since lost all battery power. This is not a complaint in the least, more just to let you know that I have absolutely zero photos of the skidding process (getting the trees out of the woods) with our logging winch and tractor, loading the logs onto the trailer to bring home, or driving the logs over two hours home. I indeed totally failed on this front, but I had a great weekend so that counts for something.

That aside, this cedar is going to be the planks for our porch. It’s pretty fun being able to take a tree from standing to finished decking without any third party, or second party. Each board is five-quarter by six rough. The finished size will be approximately one by five for each deck plank. Here are some shots of Andy processing the cedar we brought back home.

DSC_1103 DSC_0979 DSC_0988 DSC_0993 DSC_0995 DSC_0998 DSC_1010 DSC_1019 DSC_1021 DSC_1095 DSC_1093 DSC_1062 DSC_1097 DSC_1108 DSC_1100 DSC_1024 DSC_1023 DSC_0986 DSC_1110Andy has laughed and told me I haven’t covered this nearly as intensively as I should be, and he’s totally right. I may never live down completely not getting any footage of the initial skidding.  We will likely be cutting, winching and skidding a few more out though so I should be able to redeem myself.

Until I have that chance, maybe I can distract you with photos of cute dogs in a field. Here’s to hoping.

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xo,

Heather

 

Good Fire, Good Marriage, Free Download

I was going through some old design work recently, and came across a very simple piece I made with the intention of hanging it in my house. Despite the fact I have yet to print this off, or indeed hang any art of any kind in my house, I still love it. The work is a quote by Marnie Reed Crowell, discussing the merits of how a good marriage is like a good fire. Considering we only heat our house with wood, it seemed fitting. I thought you guys might appreciate this as well as a free download. As always, this is for personal use only and not for resale in anyway. I want to make a note that the fire emblem on this was an image that came from somewhere which I then turned into a vector file. I made this so long ago though I cannot for the life of me find where it was from. If you stumble across it, please let me know so I can give proper credit!

To download simply click on the image, and then right click and choose “save image as”. That’s it!

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Have a happy Tuesday! I’ll be back next week with some around the house updates.

xo,

Heather

 

Oatmeal Truffles {Vegan Friendly}

I used to be terrified of failure. Then it hit me that failure is the only way to learn, and that at least I tried and can say I gave it my all. I still struggle with it sometimes, but this acceptance of failure has led me to do some pretty ridiculous things that sometimes work out, and sometimes don’t. Like, starting my own handmade soap company because why not (worked out), and building a super classy potato box last year just to see if they were any good (sort of worked out, but decided against one for 2014 since we’re trying a new method).

One of the places I’ve learned to accept and love failure is in the kitchen. Love might be a strong word, but I love that it forces me to just go for it, experiment, try something new, and learn from it when it dies in a blaze of glory and curses. It’s a growing opportunity. Sometimes things succeed exceptionally well which of course makes me feel like I could win “Worst Cooks Ever” on the Food Network, and sometimes—just sometimes—the happy accident happens. Which is, of course, my very favorite thing to happen in the kitchen because it means you end up with something better than you intended. That’s a straight up win in my book.

Oatmeal Truffles (1)This weekend I had a happy accident which started with the following train of thought, all in about 2 minutes.

“I can make granola. I bet I can make granola bars.”

“Ohh, what if I made chewy granola bars?”

“How on earth do you make chewy granola bars?”

“Where’s my phone?”

“Oh, that’s how you make them? Wait, this ones different. So is this one.”

“I’ll wing it. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll bake whatever happens into granola clusters or something.”

That, my friends, is how delicious Oatmeal Truffles were born. You are welcome.

The granola bars were on par to be pretty delicious, but I must have added too much agave or not enough coconut oil or something. They were just a little too sticky and drooped in bar form. I started squeezing the bar to see if it was just a compression thing. As I did that, I ended up with a ball. At that point I genuinely did not care that I didn’t have granola bars anymore.

Oatmeal Truffles (2)This is where, in happy accident land, a light bulb went off. I ran into the pantry and grabbed my raw cocoa powder and shredded coconut while I completely and blissfully forgot about any granola bars that might have been in another space and time.

Oatmeal Truffles (5)You get where this is going, right?

Oatmeal Truffles (6) Oatmeal Truffles (7) Oatmeal Truffles (8) Oatmeal Truffles (9)I even put my fancy pants on and did a single line of chocolate around while leaving the ends plain. Then I ate it immediately after taking a picture.

Oatmeal Truffles (10)I’ve got to tell you guys something. These are delicious and surprisingly filling. They taste like no-bake cookies but without the butter/dairy. I ended up deciding the best combination was a mix of chocolate and coconut together, which you can see below. One other happy accident I found, but isn’t pictured here, is that if after you coat the balls in chocolate you can keep rolling them in your hands and the chocolate absorbs into the peanut butter oils and makes a nice non-powdery coating.

Oatmeal Truffles (1)At the end of the day, I’m pretty excited I didn’t end up with granola bars. These are so darn good. I’m going to wing giving you guys a recipe just like I winged these. Pretty much once your mixture can easily hold together in ball form you’re good to go. Remember one tip though, it’s kind of a compressing into a ball motion versus a quick roll to make it all stick. These are vegan-friendly and even raw-vegan-friendly if you use raw nut butter! I think what I like most about these is that they are not overly sweet. I’m not huge on sugary sweet desserts and these fit the bill. It’s also pretty easy to be satisfied with one or two, since they’re very dense and filling.

I know these won’t save the world, but happy, not hangry, people make good decisions and express kindness to others. That’s got to count for something, right?

Oatmeal Truffles
A delicious happy accident that tastes somewhat like a no-bake cookie, and is vegan-friendly and raw-vegan friendly (if you use raw nut butter).
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Mixture
  1. 3 cups thick cut oats
  2. 1/4 cup agave nectar
  3. 1 cup peanut butter
  4. 1/4 cup coconut oil (I'm not sure this is definitely needed, experiment!)
  5. 1/8 - 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  6. Few tablespoons chia seeds
  7. Few tablespoons shredded coconut (I use dried shredded, not moist)
Exterior
  1. Shredded Coconut
  2. Raw Cocoa Powder
  3. Baking Chocolate
  4. Whatever else dried product you want to roll them in
Instructions
  1. If using coconut oil, melt before adding. It helps to add in the peanut butter to the coconut oil to melt everything down before mixing to coat the oats evenly. Add all "mixture" ingredients in a bowl and combine. Set mixture in the fridge to cool for an hour. Test to see if the mixture can hold ball shape by grabbing a small handful and compressing into a ball and then rolling around in your palms. They should hold up pretty solid. If they don't hold add more peanut butter (or play around to see what works best for you).
  2. Once they hold, roll into balls and roll in your mixtures to coat. Place in a single layer and put back in the fridge to fully set up.
  3. Now, eat!
Notes
  1. You want these to be cold when you're working with them. The heat of your hands will begin to melt the peanut butter/coconut oil. If they get too warm just put the mixture back in the fridge to chill again before continuing.
Like A Cup of Tea http://www.likeacupoftea.com/
xo,

Heather

Welcome to Sawmill Nation

Andy and I have been wanting a sawmill for a number of years now. We had no way of justifying an expensive production model with hydraulics, so instead we focused on smaller home models. We looked at just about every brand, and eventually settled on a Woodland Mills. Rather, I had settled on a Woodland Mills. That was until recently, when a deal came up that was too good to pass.

DSC_9642A few years back Andy and I went to his friends place to help him and his Dad saw some lumber. Our friends father had purchased a Hud-Son Oscar 121, which had been purchased used from another guy who bought it and decided it was too much work. Andy jokingly said, “When he’s ready to sell it, have him give me a call.” We moved on, and continued to look around casually while renovating the house. We knew we were going to buy a sawmill this year, but we figured it would be this fall. That is, until we got a call recently saying our friends Dad was selling his mill – a mill that had been barely used.

With our anniversary just about a month away we pretty much looked at each other and knew we had to jump on it. My heart was still with the Woodland Mills, but I came around pretty quickly. We ended up getting the mill, extra track, and a box of new blades for about 1/2 of what everything would cost new. We wished each other a happy early anniversary, jumped in the truck with the dogs and picked it up.

It was just in time too, since our neighbor had a pile of logs out back him and Andy had cut and hauled out this winter.

DSC_9621It’s been fun getting the mill setup, and getting the feel for it. Andy and our neighbor have mostly been the ones using it, but I’ve been learning the ropes too.

DSC_9627We’ve been cutting a lot of 2×6, with some timbers and other various dimensional lumber mostly hackmatack, poplar and a scatter of pine and maple. I’d say overall we’re happy with the setup. The logs are cut nice and maintenance seems to be straightforward. We had an issue with a wave in one of the boards from the blade jumping but that had more to do with the figure of the grain and some pitch build up most likely. Like I said, this is a learning curve for everyone involved (me the most).

DSC_9635The log pile is almost decimated at this point, which means we’re looking forward to cutting the cedar Andy felled at his mom’s place a few weeks back. For now we’ll keep cutting up our neighbors lumber with him, and then at some point we’ll do some hackmatack up at the farm too for a lean-to off the barn. One of the reasons I love Maine, and particularly where I live, is that there is a strong sense of community and neighbors helping neighbors.  A lot more gets done, and faster, when we’re all willing to step in with our resources to get it done.

DSC_9641I know this sounds a bit odd, but the truth is that our little homestead feels a bit more complete with Oscar here. We’ve been wanting a mill for so damn long that it feels like an accomplishment. We aren’t big spenders, we understand the worth of a dollar, and we have made sacrifices specifically so when something like this comes along  we’re able to buy it. That might seem rare in the age of keeping up with the Jones’s and instant gratification, but it’s a deeper feeling like no other to see a long term, hard worked for, item come true.

DSC_9662To both Andy and me it’s important to provide for ourselves. We live in a vastly interconnected world but we also think it’s important to be able to provide for ourselves in some ways. I’m not even close to totally self-reliant and I’m okay with that. We are in no way hardcore homesteaders, and don’t intend to be. In the case of the apocalypse, I am – in the famous words of Dido – going down with this ship. My self-sustaining goal is less dooms day zombie survival and more to have food in a snow storm, to decrease my grocery bill significantly in the summer, to enjoy the taste of summer in the winter with a can of homemade salsa, and to have lumber on hand (or the ability to cut it before we need it) for projects. It’s important for me to just do my part.

Overall, we’re happy. We know it’s not for everyone. I know I’m a bit of an odd duck in the world of marketing to women in that I don’t want diamonds for my anniversary. Last year we stumbled upon our long sought after Suburban a month before our anniversary. This year, it’s a sawmill. Next year? Who knows, but I bet it won’t be jewelry.

858680_10101646540750989_1955072273187390111_oxo,

Heather

From Forest to Floor

I’ve mentioned before that in the past we’ve  sawed our own lumber, but I’ve never really walked through an entire project soup to nuts…er, cedar to lumber. Since we’re planning on building out our porch this summer I thought this was a great opportunity to show the entire process. This is a short post, but it’s the first of many about the porch (though proceeding posts about it may not be until later this summer).

DSC_9551Sustainable forestry is very important to us. Cutting just to cut is not something we do. It’s a very purposeful process, in both for the wood we need and being conscious of all the surrounding trees. Andy’s mom happened to have a thick cedar stand on her property which worked to our advantage. Not only do we need cedar for our decking, but it was also beneficial to free up some of the trees for the overall benefit of the cedar stand. While Andy chose the best trees, his mom tallied up the board feet.

DSC_9475DSC_9489Andy cut the logs into 8, 10, & 12 feet which we’ll be able to haul home on our trailer later this summer. The easiest way to measure everything out was simply to use his tape which is attached to his wedge pouch. Note: I am positive the technical term is not “wedge pouch” but it was better than calling it a “reverse wedge fanny pack” which sounds like “reverse wedgie” which while I have no idea what that would be but it sounds ultimately horrible.

DSC_9546Overall it was a very successful day, and we not only freed up some smaller trees but now also have enough board feet for our porch. Later this summer we’ll be winching it out of the woods, loading it on a trailer and bringing it home to saw on a sawmill.

DSC_9518As always the dogs were with us (and under my eagle eye watch). We can always count on them for cleanup with a smile.

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So while we wait for the logs to dry I wanted to share some other news in equipment acquisition land—we 99% likely getting a sawmill very soon!

While it might not be entirely relatable, I have wanted a sawmill for a number of years now and the idea of finally getting one is absolutely thrilling to me. We have a lead on a great deal. While it’s not the original sawmill I wanted, I couldn’t be happier that we’ll finally have one and at an awesome price. I’m keeping my hopes in check, but crossing my fingers! I will be SURE to update when/if this happens!

xo,

Heather