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While it is obvious that any land we “own” will never truly be ours while we have to pay property taxes that could lead to confiscation in the case of default, here’s a new twist:

Your Land is no longer your land! U.S. Government Stealing Land « thesustainablehome

Total Votes: 52 - Rating: 6.37

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06/Oct/2008: Soaping Supplies

Thanks to Tracy, here is a great website to get those much needed soaping supplies in bulk for a reasonable price:


Total Votes: 36 - Rating: 6.19

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02/Sep/2008: Bread Frenzy!

Well, it all started when one person (Tracy) posted some links. That's all it took. Now, I am on a bread making binge!

Our all around favorite is Pretzel Rolls (made two batches just today). There's no corned beef or pastrami sandwich better than one on these rolls!


(For step-by-step pictures, go to her page)

Bretzel Rolls (adapted from Recipezaar.com)
2 hours start to finish - Makes 8 sandwich size rolls

* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast which will need proofing)
* 1 1/3 cups warm water
* 2 tablespoons warm milk
* 2 tablespoons melted butter
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar
* 2 quarts of water
* 1/2 cup baking soda
* kosher salt
* spray oil (I really like this stuff, the high heat canola is great)

1. Mix the flour and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl)
2. Melt the butter and warm the milk
3. Combine the butter, milk, water, and brown sugar in a separate bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved
4. Add the butter mixture to the flour and stir until all the flour is hydrated and you have a firm, pliable dough ball
5. Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 2 minutes, or if you're kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes
6. Round the dough into a ball and cut it in half with a bench scraper or chef knife
7. Continue rounding and cutting 2 more times until you have 8 even dough balls
8. Arrange the balls on a lightly floured surface, cover with a damp cloth, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes
9. Pat the dough balls into rolls by slightly flattening them (you should have a semi-flat disc about3 to 4 inches in diameter)
10. Arrange the rolls on a lightly floured surface about 1 inch apart, cover them with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes
11. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, line one large 3/4 sheet pan, or two 1/2 sheets with parchment paper, spray the paper lightly with oil
12. In a large stockpot, bring the water to a rolling boil and add the baking soda (make sure the pot is deep enough that it doesn't boil over when you add the baking soda, you may also want to add the baking soda slowly to lessen the chance of boil over)
13. Drop 2 rolls into the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds, turning once
14. Remove the rolls from the water with a slotted spoon, drain them, place them on the prepared sheet pans, and sprinkle lightly with salt
15. Once all the rolls have been boiled, bake on the upper and middle rack of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the rolls are nicely browned all over, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through cooking
16. Remove the rolls and transfer them to a wire rack
17. Serve warm or at room temperature

These I am making now because my husband came home from work wanting a French Dip sandwich and we did not think the Pretzel Rolls would be the same:


French Bread Rolls to Die For
Submitted by: JOCATLIN
Rated: 5 out of 5 by 406 members Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes Ready In: 2 Hours 20 Minutes
Yields: 16 servings
"Simply delicious French bread rolls with a crisp crust and chewy texture."
1 1/2 cups warm water (110
degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
1. In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3. Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 9/2/2008

With this Quick Au Jus:


2 c water
1 TB beef bouillon granules
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 ts crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp garlic salt

In a large saucepan, combine the water, bouillon, pepper, garlic salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes.

Though next time I will try making some from scratch. I had never thought of doing that with the beef scraps before (I am such a "let's make soup" person with meat scraps). Here's the one I will try:



January 9, 2008


Serves 6.

These sandwiches are incredibly satisfying.

• 6 crusty French rolls (about 3 oz. each)

• 3 c. homemade au jus (see recipe)

• 11/2 lb. very thinly sliced rare roast beef

Optional accompaniments:

• Creamy Horseradish Sauce (see recipe)

• Spicy brown mustard

• Sliced Muenster or provolone cheese


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Split the rolls horizontally not quite all the way through. Place them in oven until they are warm throughout, about 5 to 6 minutes. Bring 3 cups au jus to a simmer. Add thinly sliced roast beef and simmer for 1 minute to just warm the beef. Remove the beef and divide it among the warm rolls. Add any accompaniments desired and serve with cups of hot au jus for dipping.

To make Creamy Horseradish Sauce: In a medium bowl stir together 1/4 cup prepared horseradish sauce, 1 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, if desired, and 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions or fresh chives.

Nutrition information per serving with cup au jus:

Calories 533 Fat 21 g Sodium 850 mg

Carbohydrates 44 g Saturated fat 7 g Calcium 0 mg

Protein 40 g Dietary fiber 3 g


Makes about 3 cups (enough for 6 French dip sandwiches).

Note that the nutritional analysis for this recipe was done with 1/4 cup per serving. But you should actually serve 1/2 cup per person to make sure there's enough to enrich every last bite of sandwich.

• 1/2 lb. beef stew meat or meaty beef scraps

• 1 tsp. salt, divided

• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 1 c. finely diced onion

• 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

• 1 tsp. tomato paste

• 4 (14-oz.) cans lower-sodium beef broth (this was tested with Swanson brand)

• 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 bay leaf


Season the stew meat with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the stew meat and brown well on all sides. When the meat is well-browned, add the onion, reduce heat to low and cook until the onions are tender and beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic clove and tomato paste and continue cooking for 5 minutes more. Add the beef broth, Worcestershire and bay leaf, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to medium and simmer for another 25 minutes or until reduced to 3 cups.

Taste broth and add as much of the remaining salt as is necessary to give a deep salty-beefy flavor. Remove bay leaf and meat, and pour into cups. Serve with French Dip Sandwiches.

Nutrition information per cup serving:

Calories 22 Fat 1 g Sodium 250 mg

Carbohydrates 1 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 0 mg

Protein 1 g Dietary fiber 0 g

Total Votes: 34 - Rating: 6.79

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I was stunned the other day. My son was looking around on My Space when I saw a funny picture in his "Friends" list. I asked him who that was and it turned out to be my sister's page. Looking at her friends, there were my brothers (step-brothers)! I cried when I saw their pictures. The last time I saw them was when I was 14-ish (20 plus years ago). I can't believe we have reconnected and on MySpace! Now that I figured out the years, I am feeling REALLY old! LOL! I'm just blessed to have found them.

Computers: When was the last time you vacuumed your computer? We started having issues with our computer slowing down so I decided to take a look. OMG! You should have seen how clogged everything was with dust. Once we did that, the computer worked fine. We also installed more RAM and updated the BIOS. Hmmmm, the BIOS was ONLY 7 years old (no wonder it didn't like the new RAM).

Other than that, not much else to add. Still playing Diablo 2 and loving every minute of it!

Total Votes: 35 - Rating: 6.54

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13/Jun/2007: Our New Truck!

We now have a new truck! As you may be able to tell, we don't spend a lot of money on "things". We don't have cable or satelite T.V. We have dial-up internet service. Despite being so frugal, we were always struggling because of our truck (2005 Dodge 2500 Quad Cab Cummins). Well, we finally decided that we were paying too much money for a truck that we may not be able to drive once California's smog laws go into effect in 2010 (they are going to start smogging Diesels). So, we found a gem of a truck for $1300!

It's a 1973 Chevy K10 (NO SMOG! California does not smog vehicles that are 1975 or older). There is a 9-inch lift (4-inch body and 5 inches of leaf springs). It has a new intake manifold, 4-bbl Edelbrock carb, new heads, new rear driveshaft, starter, fuel pump, and battery. The tires were thrashed, so we just bought some used 38/15.50R-15 Super Swamper TSL Radial Tires with Center Line rims for $600 (these tires are typically about $350 each and the rims are about $250 each).

We have put new gauges in, speedometer cable, changed all grease and oil, bought a "new" front drive shaft and new U-Joints for this. We already had a toolbox, so that went in the back. My husband is planning on building a push bar for the front and roll bar for the bed. We will get a set of running lights for the front, since we can't really see anything below the hood of the truck. With most of the heavy (engine) work done, it's all small things that are typical with an older vehicle. This will be a GREAT bug-out vehicle, once we are done. There are some things we are thinking about, like a behind-the-seat gun rack and in-cab storage features we can come up with. Once we pay back my SIL and Mom (SIL loaned us $1200 for the truck and Mom loaned us $400 for the tires), we are going to purchase a 1973-ish Chevy Suburban for me. We will need that extra room, since there are three humans in this house, plus two dogs and anyone else that wants to go anywhere with us (whether it's camping or we need to go somewhere due to some kind of emergency).

We are just thrilled! A HUGE weight has been lifted from both of our shoulders. NO MORE TRUCK PAYMENTS!

Total Votes: 28 - Rating: 6.93

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I had a great breakfast and have figured out a new way to prepare potatoes. I baked most of the bag last night and let them sit overnight. Today, I will cube most of them (I was thinking of cutting some into "french fries"). Then, I will lay them on trays covered with freezer paper (I usually use wax paper), being careful to keep the cubes seperated. These trays go into the freezer and once frozen, the potatoes will go into freezer bags.

I use this method to freeze just about everything else (bell peppers, onions, berries, etc.). Of course, with most items I do not pre-cook the items before-hand. This makes healthy cooking a bit easier for me.

The breakfast I had this morning was cubed potato, fried, then one whole egg plus two whites poured over this. I then added lots of garlic, red peeper flakes, and black pepper. I was amazed! With the potatoes pre-cooked, I only used 1 teaspoon of olive oil to fry the potatoes to a nice, golden brown.

I am also attempting to dry some whole grape tomatoes the natural way, before they mold on me. I have them on a pizza pan (the kind with holes on the bottom) floating around the kitchen (most of the time I keep the pan in the cold oven. As of right now, I have a few that are beginning to resemble raisins, so this might actually work! With normal tomatoes, I usually slice them as thin as I can and place them on wax paper. They usually dry with the consistency of dry fruit leather, and I can eat them like chips! This works GREAT with REALLY ripe tomatoes. I just need to find better containers. The jars I have are clear glass, so all my dried veggies have lost a lot of their color.

I have been working on a "Greens Jar", which now has some dried dandelion greens, dried green onions, and the dried tomatoes. The way a "Greens Jar" works is take some of your greens throughout the growing season and dry them. Add them to the jar, then use that in soups or whatever through the winter months. It makes a great "soup mix", especially if you have thrown in some herbs through the year.

Total Votes: 9 - Rating: 3.56

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One change this year has been home schooling. My son was adament about going to high school, so we enrolled him in public school for the last semester of his eight grade year. I have been impressed with his performance (he is getting As and Bs) and the ghetto school I was complaining about has some great teachers. I am pleased with the education he is getting!

Now for the great news. It turns out the city school district has changed all high schools into Magnet schools, with each one focusing on a different subject. We have applied for my son to go to a school that will train him in all aspects of automotive care! The auto shop is state-of-the-art (not like when I was in high school) and he will have the opportunity to intern with one of the local dealerships when he is a Senior in high school! This is a fantastic opportunity, especially since this is the first time I have seen my son excited about anything regarding school.

The application process is different typical high schools. We had to prepare a resume. He also had to write a 300 word essay about why he wants to attend that school and what he wants to do with his life. It was a great experience. Then, he has to go through an interview before he is accepted into the school. Wish my son luck! The interviews begin March 5th, and I have no idea when the decisions will be made.

Total Votes: 7 - Rating: 3.71

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I was wrong. Since I do not work outside the home, and my son does not go to a public school, I thought we would be safe from this flu or cold that has been going around. Well, today is day 10 and I am still ill. It is finally lessening, thanks to OTC meds (Sudafed and Mucinex), Vitamin C, chicken soup and TONS of orange juice. Without these meds, it would have developed into bronchitis. I was finally able to get three loads of laundry done, washed a few dishes, and made some more chicken and rice soup. I ended up taking a two hour nap, but at least I was able to get some things done.
This year has been different. It's been trying, eye-opening, and a learning experience. We are ending the year with me STILL being ill (it's been almost a month now and I still have the cough), my 8 year old step-daughter moving back from Tennessee (just in time for Christmas!), my husband still happy with his job, deciding my 14 year old son will move with his cousin, and a new puppy.

My Son: We were asked a few months ago to consider allowing my son to move in with my nephew. My nephew is moving to Littlerock, California where his fiance lives and is the big brother my 14 year old never had. They get along great, and my son actually listens to what my nephew tells him to do. The main reason for our decision is the environment. My son wants to go to high school, and all the high schools here are "ghetto". Our schools are some of the lowest ranking high schools in California. The schools down south perform better and are smaller, allowing more one-on-one interaction between the teacher and the students. In the long run, we feel this move is in the best interest of my son. This was a difficult decision to make. I was prepared for him leaving the house when he was 18, not 14. My son is excited about the move. He really loves his cousin and the fiance.

Our Puppy: We acquired our new puppy from my husband's work. Day shift found him wandering around the tracks. He was extremely shy (almost acted like he had been beaten) and so thin we could see his spine and hip bones. He was so scared when I picked him up! The first night, I bathed him, fed him softened dog food, and water. He ate two cups of food that first night (he's approximately 4 months old). We have named him "Boxcar Willy", and have been desperately trying to figure out what kind of dog he is. I have narrowed it down to two breeds: Yellow Labrador (Fox Red) and Hungarian Vizsla. He will be a great hunting dog once we train him. Right now, he already retrieves, flushes, and wants to point. He also has a GREAT nose! Can you tell I am excited about him? Today is a week, and he is 99% house broken! Is there anyone out there who has some tips on training or suggestions for books/videos?

I am thankful this year is almost over. I hope next year brings more clarity and happiness for all. I also hope to find an occupation I can do from home. It feels strange that in a few months I will no longer be homeschooling.

Total Votes: 76 - Rating: 9.13

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25/Oct/2006: Our teaching schedule

My son and I have finally discovered the best teaching schedule for both of us. We are doing one subject (text book) a month. This month, with Geography, it is more like unit studies. When we got into Japan, we watched movies ,read books, and checked out (on-line) life in Japan today (salaries, rent prices, cost of food, entertainment, sights to see, predominate religion, etc.). It's amazing how incorporating the other information has helped to cement the information within my son's brain.

The next subject will be Algebra (we have Beginning and Intermediate), and we are already working on projects to do. We don't have it all worked out. I was thinking recipes, helping with sewing projects, and some wood working projects my Father in law gave us.

Total Votes: 69 - Rating: 9.68

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It's amazing when all you have is yourself for company, and you don't really like it! I discovered a lot about myself with this past month cut off from the world wide web. I had never realized just how isolated my life is until I had no one to "talk" to or share my thoughts with. I have my husband here, and my son, but that's it! I used to relish the times my husband would be at work while my son was at a friend's house, but mostly because I could read the latest news of friends, family and the world. Once the Internet was not an option, I actually went a little "crazy". I started thinking about my life: my age, my choices, my marriage, my kids, etc.

My age (my kids): While I am only 37, I AM 37! I realized within the next couple of years, I will be experiencing the change. I had always thought I would have option to have another child once we were more "settled". It hit me hard that time is slipping by faster than I had let myself realize. I had always joked with my son, pointing out, "Only 4 more years and you are out!" but 4 more years and we will have an "empty nest". Once that happens, what will I do? Who will I be? I know I will always be "mom" and "wife" but who is "Brenda"?

My choices: I have spent years attempting to make myself more self-reliant. I don't want to "need" anyone. Well, it turns out I was deluding myself. I do need others, even if it is just for companionship. It has been 14 years since I have felt this alone. I love my husband, and thoroughly enjoy the time I spend with him, but is that enough? It would seem not, since my mood has dramatically improved since regaining Internet service.

My marriage: I used to stress when paying bills, because we never had enough money to pay them all. So, I decided to give that over to my husband. I also gave over control of how all the money was spent. This has now changed. While we still do not have enough money to pay all the bills, we have enough to pay more than we have been. I can't stand being late on bills, but that will have to do until our bills are paid down.

This time has also caused my husband to re-think his current career path. All I have ever cared about is his happiness, so I will support whatever decision he makes (as long as we don't lose money). We are still researching options, and will be picking up some applications tomorrow.

Total Votes: 73 - Rating: 9.55

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