Archive for June, 2011

How to Make Homemade Natural Air Freshener

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by Tonia 31 Comments

Can we talk straight for a second? Sometimes the house can use a little freshening up. Knowimsayin’?

This week, for example, we had a couple sunny days {finally!} after a long stretch {weeks!} of rain and thunderstorms. When it gets sunny around here, it means we’re outside all day long busting our butts to get the gardens weeded and to catch up on the chores and projects that were on hold while it was raining.

We’re in and out with dirty boots to grab water or tools, we scarf down a quick lunch and head right back out without cleaning up, etc. The house gets messy, fast. After a few days like that, it’s time to give it some TLC.

So this afternoon, after sweeping the floors and doing the dishes, I went around the yard and cut some flowers for the table.

And I made some air fresheners as well. This is the simplest little project, and exactly what our house needed to perk it back up. All it takes is a vessel of some sort {I used old Ball jars}, baking soda {the list of uses this substance has is seemingly unending}, and your favorite essential oil.

Fill the vessel {Ball jar} about 1/4 full of baking soda, and add 6-8 drops of the essential oil into it. You can leave the jar open for maximum scent dispersal {but keep out of reach of pets}, or do what I did and punch some holes in the lid with a hammer and nail.

The baking soda absorbs odors, and the essential oil smells delicious and natural. This is much more economical and environmentally friendly than those chemical air fresheners you can buy and plug into an outlet.

Shake the jar gently every few days to revive the scent, and add more oil as needed.

I did a few different scents and placed the jars all around the house. Orange in the kitchen, to energize us. Rose in the bathroom, because it’s calming and feminine and dainty. Rosewood in the living room because it’s the smell of the first home I ever had, when I was a baby in Peru.

Smells can invoke all kinds of emotions and memories. Have you ever had that experience where a certain smell suddenly brings back a forgotten moment to you?

The smell of chainsaw fuel, snow and wood reminds me of my dad. Leather and hay bring back so many special moments spent with my horses growing up.

Apple pie reminds me of a moment when I was little, playing outside in the yard in the autumn, the smell of my mom baking inside wafting through the window, and a feeling of total safety and contentment.

And the smell of dog fur brings back the feeling of freedom and wildness I had on a sparkling winter night under a full moon when I took my Husky and my Springer Spaniel {who thought he was a Husky} out for a nighttime dog-sled run in the woods.

Summer Movies

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by Tonia 6 Comments

I talk a lot about wholesome, outdoorsy, earthy things on this blog. But truth be told, there is a whole ‘nother side to me. Another layer to the onion, so to speak.

I went to school for film and television. It didn’t work out as a career because I was unwilling to live in LA or NYC- I couldn’t be that far away from my family, and last time I checked they don’t let you keep livestock in your backyard in those cities, and because I fell in love with a Minnesota boy.

But, I still harbor a pretty strong affection for all things cinema. Summer movies are the best. A couple I am looking forward to this summer: the last Harry Potter {duh} and Our Idiot Brother {“tomion”}:

And while I’m confessing things: I also really like fashion, and sometimes I paint my nails. Does that sound like a homesteading tomboy to you? Maybe not, but I think it’s cool when people have lots of sides to them- it makes for a more interesting individual.

But how do you choose which of your interests, passions or personality traits is going to predominantly define you? I chose homesteading as my main path, but there are plenty of other passions I want to explore before my time is up.

The problem is, some choices rule out other choices {like, obviously I have ruled out film-making, at least for now, by choosing to homestead.} Choices, choices, choices.

Thankfully, some choices are easy- like picking which movies to see this summer!

parade of peonies

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by Tonia 7 Comments

The peonies in our yard are opening up! Finally! I was trying to be patient, but I have been running out to check on them every morning for the last month. And today, it finally happened!

They’re all planted in a long row. Looking at them is almost like watching a parade go by. Or maybe I’m just in the mood for parades since the Fourth of July is right around the corner? Either way, it’s a spectacular sight.

There are no words to describe their smell. Smelling them is like a mini-vacation. They transport me to somewhere exotic, mysterious, and ancient. But then I open my eyes and I’m still right here in my yard. It’s amazing to me that we’re able to grow these in our northern climate, and it makes me so happy and thankful!

The light pink and white ones are almost open too, so more photos to come.

When Life Gives you Eggs, Make Crépes.

Posted on June 28th, 2011 by Tonia 20 Comments

When there are chickens around, eggs happen. And when eggs are happening, eating them needs to happen regularly, too, otherwise they stockpile in the ‘fridge. And then before you know it, you have more eggs than you know what to do with. This happened today.

Lucky for us the French invented crépes! Thin, slightly sweet, egg-loaded pancakes that can be topped with unending combination of delicious things: bananas and Greek yogurt, strawberries and whipped cream, peaches and cinnamon, maple syrup and peanut butter…

But we’re trying to use as many eggs as possible today, so we’re topping our crépes with slices of prosciutto, eggs, parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of sea salt, crushed pepper, and fresh thyme.


For the crépes:

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the topping:

9 thin slices ham/prosciutto
9 eggs
Chopped fresh parsley or thyme to taste
Sea salt & pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese to tatse


Combine flour, sugar, salt, milk, four eggs and the melted butter in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Heat a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with butter. Add 1/3 cup batter and swirl to completely cover skillet. Cook until underside of crepe is very lightly starting to brown, about 2 minutes.

Loosen edge of crepe with spatula and then either using large spatula or your fingers, lift it up and flip it over.

Cook another minute and then slide out of skillet onto wax paper. Repeat until batter is gone {it should make about nine}.

Preheat oven to 350. Place crepes on a rimmed baking sheet {3-4 per sheet}. Place prosciutto slice in center of crepe and carefully crack egg onto prosciutto.

Fold edges of crepe toward center, using the egg white as the glue to hold the edges down.

Season with salt and pepper and bake until egg white is set, about 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and cheese and serve.

This post is dedicated to my friend Caitlyn, who went through a crépe faze when we were about ten years old. I would show up at her house and she would be in her usual position in front of the stove, spatula in hand, huge bowl of batter by her side. She’s the only ten-year-old I’ve ever known that asked for a crépe pan for Christmas.

“Want one?” She’d ask, and she knew the answer, so there would be a steaming, golden, buttery crépe sliding onto a plate in front of me before I could say anything.

We ate them with massive amounts of whipped cream.