Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nuthin' much

I puttered around the house today, getting this and that done. Nothing huge, but little accomplishments that add up. We were up early. I12 had to be at church at 7:40 this morning for a final rehearsal and then the youth choir he is in sang at the 8 am service. We're not used to getting around that early on a Sunday morning (we're usually in the 10:30 crowd) but in some ways, it was nice to get home early enough to still have most of the day left.
Lets see, I got some Christmas lights hung outside since the weather is still cooperating with us with low 4os. Nothing spectacular, just icicle lights around the porch. It's funny though, they actually illuminate the porch better than the regular porch lights do.
I cleaned up a bit around the house, washing ziploc bags, doing dishes, a load of laundry and general scrubbing.
V and J15 were hanging drywall in the basement. They're making progress on her room. It has been on hold for a while while other, more pressing matters took priority, but now that work outside is closing in, work inside is becoming more frequent.
I made cranberry mustard for gifting this year- 7 quarter pint jars plus a bit of extra for us. This was a recipe I hadn't used before and I was expecting it to be a bit more mustardy than it turned out to be. Not that it's bad- it just wasn't what I had expected.
I also finally ground some of our corn.
It turned out lavender!
I used a spare coffee grinder that we have from somewhere. It didn't make the cornmeal very uniform, some was ground into flour and some was pretty chunky. But the mix worked and it was very tasty.
It bakes a lavender/gray color.
But OH, so tasty with butter and honey!
The children pronounced it 'wrong' but yummy. They thought the color was odd but they ate it. In fact, of a whole batch there is only one piece left!
We had a lovely, local meal for this dark, chilly day: one of our grass fed steaks, spiced fried potatoes (diced potatoes and onions with pepper and cayenne) corn from my mom and cornbread. A bit heavy on corn but the cornbread was an afterthought- mainly because I wanted to grind some of our corn. The wine V and I had wasn't local- but it went well.
Now, after 4 days off, I've got to think about getting back into work mode for tomorrow. I could SO live the life of simply working on our land and not leaving- but, we're not at that point in our lives and the mortgage needs paid.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Local produce

This afternoon, the children and I shelled our Bloody Butcher heirloom corn. I hope to grind some tomorrow and maybe we'll have some pink cornbread for dinner.
Isn't it pretty?
We didn't have a huge harvest but still ended up with about 6 pounds of corn. We would have had more but it was so wet here this year that the ears started to mold on the stalks before we even harvested it. So we were VERY careful about shelling it, trying to not get any bad bits into the mix. So, there was quite a bit wasted on several ears. But still, it is not bad for a first harvest.
Here's another local product that V was quite pleased to find at the store on Wednesday night on the way home:
Locally produced whiskey
We're not huge whiskey drinkers but this stuff is really good. It was even mentioned in Wine Enthusiast magazine last year. In fact, it has been such a hit that the small company producing it has been unable to keep up with demand and there has been none on the store shelves for at least 6 months. So, when V saw a single bottle gracing the shelf he snapped it up. We stopped to pick up milk and tortillas and see what else we find.
But here is what is really special about it, besides the taste:
Every bottle is hand numbered: Batch, barrel and bottle.
Even the date bottled.
Pretty cool!

Today is Black Friday

My parents celebrate 54 years of marriage.
I get to spend the day with my family.
I'm not buying anything or going anywhere.
I emptied, re-baited and reset 3 mousetraps from the garage. Eesh, that takes us up to 18!
I've got a pumpkin in the oven.
I'm doing dishes and laundry and general household clean-up.
The weather is warmish- for late November- so I can work on my raised beds this afternoon.
We're eating leftovers from the feast at my brother's house. (It was fun. My family, my parents, my Brother and SIL, and several couples that they know from a gourmet cooking club- from Germany, Turkey and other far flung places- so the food, while not all traditional, was FABULOUS!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


There are so many things to be thankful for, on this day- and all the year.
Here are just a few:
I am incredibly thankful for my family. For V and the children who help me get through life and who are willing to try to live out this crazy dream with me.
I am thankful that my parents are still with us, and that they have and continue to teach me about living simply and frugally.
I am thankful that we have been given the opportunity to transform this neglected house and 5.5 acres of land into something wonderful.
I am thankful that God has given us strength of mind, body and spirit to make it possible.
I am thankful that I have a job that I love.
I am thankful, even though I may complain about finances, to realize that we are rich beyond comparison with most of the world. But I need reminded of that on occasion.
I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry and safe water to drink.
I am even thankful for our crazy pets. They provide comic relief in our days, companionship and are ever on mouse patrol.
And I am thankful for all of you, my friends. You have made this journey less lonely and made me feel that I'm not so crazy after all.

Peace and blessings to you all this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

She's obsessed!!

Our kitten that is. She is obsessed with plastic. Not playing with it- eating it! I'm really glad we use cloth bags for groceries and try to not buy things with too much packaging because every time we have anything plastic in the house, she is trying to eat it- ASAP. I caught her trying to chew on the pack of toilet paper that hadn't yet been put away last week, and last night she opened the kitchen cabinet doors to go in and chew on the plastic bags that some of my bulk stuff is still in (she was after the quinoa last night-note to self- I need to put it in a jar before I go to bed). I'm really glad I don't generally store things in plastic but transfer them to other containers. She isn't interested in the food that's inside- she just wants the plastic. Store bought bread- yup, leaves the bread but eats the bag. I had saved a couple of mini ziploc bags from getting bulk spices over the weekend and had put them on top of the microwave until I had time to wash them- you guessed it, she got hold of them last night and chewed the corners right off.
Anyone else ever have experience with this? I've had cats before with weird behaviors but this is WAAAY beyond any other I've ever had. This is more than just curious cat- she is truly obsessed! V asked our vet when he had them in for boosters but all he said was "Hmmm".
Any suggestions are appreciated. Right now, all we can do is keep everything made of flexible plastic out of her reach.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Thankful IDC

Turkey Day is almost upon us. I don't have to cook much this year. We'll be feasting at my brother's house this year- about a 10 minute drive. Yay!!! I'm responsible for bringing the mashed potatoes and milk. Oh, I don't know if I can stand the strain!!!
It's been busy but since it is Monday, I'm going to do my usual Independence Day Challenge update- especially since I've got things to report.
1. Plant something- no. But I did get my first seed catalogues in the mail this week. Ooo... garden porn!
2. Harvest something- A jalapeno pepper from the indoor plant.
3. Preserve something- Made chutney from the pears that were going bad in the fridge. Yummy.
4. Waste not- Hmm, the usual here. I was really good at using cloth bags when shopping.
5. Want not- Continued work on organizing my pantry and cabinets. Stocked up on some spices that were on sale at the food co-op when I was there picking up spices for chutney. Got an extra bag of cranberries for the freezer. Oh, and local honey.
6. Community food systems- Made a largish donation of food to the local food bank. The high school youth at church were doing a special food drive. I donated a few of those excess cans of tuna, some canned veggies that I picked up a couple of weeks ago specifically for the food pantry (They were on a really good sale but we don't eat commercially canned veggies), canned beans, some rice and peanut butter.
7. Eat the food- I've been a busy little bee in the kitchen lately. The pear and gorgonzola tart was good this evening. It was tasty but it was more work than it was worth. I was pretty sure that the boys wouldn't like it so I also made a quiche for dinner. Everyone was satisfied.

I've got my resume and cover letter ready to turn in tomorrow for the Clinical Supervisor position. V is still waiting to hear anything after his interview. We'll see. He isn't feeling well. He's got a terrible cold and has been hacking and coughing... including most of the night last night so I've essentially been up since about 2:30 this morning- so I'm TIRED! At least it is a short week this week. The children's last day of school for the week is tomorrow but I have to work Wednesday as well. I'm SO ready for a long weekend.
I hope you are all getting your Thanksgiving preparations done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chutney Sunday

Ok, I confess, I am a newcomer to chutneys. My parents, while widely traveled in the world, have always been fairly conservative when it comes to food. While I have tried many world cuisines, there have been gaps in my food education. I had never had chutney until last year.
I had my first introduction at the food preservation workshop that J15 and I attended in the fall of 2008. After that, we made and canned our first batch of apple and green tomato chutney. In fact, it was the first thing that J15 helped can. We fell in love!
This year, I'm trying a new recipe. With the abundance of pears I needed to process, I was pleased to find a recipe for pear chutney in my Simply in Season cookbook. It has a much more complex, sweet/savory flavor than the one we made last year but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.
It went from this:
Diced pears, dried fruit and spices.
To this:
Thick and flavorful!
I was pleased with how it turned out. We've got some for us and several small jars for gifting this holiday season.
The finished product.
I've got 5 half pint jars and 5 quarter pint jars for gifting.
Here is the recipe:
12 cups pears- peeled, cored and diced (you can also use apples or a combination)
1 1/2 cup onion- chopped
1 jalapeno pepper- seeds removed and minced (I used one from our indoor plant!)
4 cloves garlic- minced
1 cup currants
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 inches of fresh ginger root- peeled and minced
4 cups brown sugar (less if the fruit is sweet)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp each: ground cloves, yellow mustard seed, salt
1 1/2 tsp each: chili powder, ground cumin, whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until mixture thickens (about 50-60 minutes) Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Ladle into sterilized jars, allowing 1/2 inch headspace, seal and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
It was a great and tasty way to use up my pears. I have only 5 left and those will be used tomorrow evening when I'm making a savory pear and gorgonzola tart for dinner. I'm turning into quite the kitchen queen here lately!!!
Have a thankful week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Busy Saturday

It was a busy Saturday here. I'm still trying to organize my kitchen cabinets and get a handle on what I've got in stock. When we moved in, I had a vague idea of where I wanted things to go, but having lived here for 4 months now, things are starting to fall into place. But my kitchen cabinets were a shambles, with things becoming more and more jumbled over time. They are looking much better and I've discovered that, in addition to not needing to buy tuna for a while, I also don't need to get any pasta of any sort for quite a while. Taking stock makes me realize that we could eat quite well for quite a while from our stores.
In other news: IT BEGINS!!!
The first seed catalogues arrived today.
Unfortunately, even though I don't need any seeds for next year, there are things I spotted that look interesting.
Then, there was the weekend squash audit. Eesh. I'm glad I checked!
This was NOT there last weekend!
Fortunately, it really didn't extend into the flesh very far and most of the squash was useable.
But more worrisome was this:
It looks for all the world like little mousey teeth marks. EEEW!!!
At least it was on the same squash as the bad spot so I didn't need to use 2 this weekend. I've set traps downstairs near the squash and potato storage areas, the last thing we need is to have a little rodent 'friend' helping himself to our food. I didn't see any other evidence of them but I'm not taking any chances. We're up to 15 now from the garage since we started setting traps in there about 2 weeks ago. You'd think they would be slowing down by now!
I tried a few new recipes today, as well.
I really need to process the rest of those pears. I've also got a recipe for a savory tart with gorgonzola, cream cheese and pears. YUM.
The other thing I tried was a recipe to use up that squishy squash. A last weekend, V was in the car on his way home, listening to The Splendid Table. He heard them talking about a recipe for roasted squash and greens over pasta that he thought sounded good. So, I looked it up and we tried it this evening. I did have to pick up some endive at the store and some half and half but it was well worth it!!! Of course, my predictions were accurate and the boys didn't like it but, oh well, more for the rest of us.
The last thing I made this afternoon was a cranberry, apple, jello salad that my mom has made for years that K9 absolutely adores. I used it as an opportunity to teach J15 how to use the food processor. Of course, I feel like I spent the afternoon in the kitchen- but it was great. V and I did make a run to Menard's today and the grocery store. I picked up not only things for us but a few things for our friend Jim who lives across the street from our old house. He shared some whole wheat pastry flour with me this week and was wanting celery, eggs and regular flour from the store. He doesn't have a car so getting there is a problem for him and, since we were going anyway....
And now, it's time for that pear tart. And it's our usual Saturday Family Movie Night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dining together

I've got a post up today at Homemakers Who Work about the family meal. I think it's rather sad how many families don't sit down together for a meal each day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ok, I just saw a spot on CNN. They are reporting on a new study linking teen obesity to the food they eat. Wow! Who would have thought it!!! I think that it's a Master of the Obvious study!
Really, the study reports that lack of exercise isn't as big a culprit in childhood/teen obesity as thought previously. This one soundly points the finger at 'super-sized' foods and sugary soda (64 oz drink anyone?) It's about time. The spot talks a lot about portion control- something I definitely need to get a handle on in my personal life. sigh

Monday, November 16, 2009

Zombie broccoli- IDC update

The broccoli that wouldn't die!!
It's Monday and time for my usual Independence Days Challenge update. Just when I thought I was done harvesting, nature surprised me.
1. Plant something- nope but I did sort and organize my seeds. Looking at what I have left over from this year and those I saved, I don't think I'm going to have to buy any. Yippie!
2. Harvest something- YES!! When I was cleaning out the garden weeks ago. I left a few broccoli plants that were still green. They were ones that I had already cut the heads from a long time ago. But they had started shooting out little side shoots and I thought I'd see what happened. Imaging my surprise when I went out yesterday afternoon and found the zombie broccoli (as J15 named it). There were three big side shoots that had heads on them. Not huge but enough broccoli for a meal for the 5 of us. And there are a few more smaller ones out there that I left. If the weather holds, who knows, maybe we'll have broccoli for Thanksgiving.
3. Preserve something- Not this week. Although my pears that I put into the fridge are soon going to need processed, they're getting awfully ripe- but OH, so tasty! Hmmm, maybe a pear pie....
4. Waste not- UM, nothing much too interesting here. Did move lots of leaves from the old house for our compost. Other than that, recycled, repurposed and reused as usual.
5. Want not- picked up another 10 lbs of potatoes (at 88 cents per 5 lb bag!) and 4 bags of sugar for 99 cents each. Reorganized my pantry and put my whole wheat flour, oatmeal and rice into more secure storage containers. Oh, and stocked up on some canned beans (another good sale) and some more white and brown rice. It figures, just when we were going to try to eat mostly out of storage, I end up making lots of purchases to put into storage- but for some reason, they were having really great sales on some staples last week.
6. Community food systems- nope, other than talking to a co-worker about why we do what we do. She seemed genuinely interested but I don't see her making any changes in her life any time in the near future.
7. Eat the food- Hmm, tonight, crockpot chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli- all from stores or the garden. All week is planned with meals from stores. We'll probably have to get milk before the end of the week but that's not so bad.
I12 helps peel potatoes for dinner.
It feels good to be getting back into the habit of eating from stores. We had gotten side tracked recently. Doing inventory while I cleaned the pantry helped. I finally have a better idea of what I've got- who knew that I have 12 cans of tuna!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Of windows and old news

It was another wild day here at the money pit. I didn't get to the bottom of the pantry, other things got in the way. I was outside swinging a mattock to dig trenches for my raised bed blocks (through about 60/40- clay/rock mix!) for a while. Let me tell you- it's a full body workout! After a bit, J15 came to get me, she has decided to try to overcome her fear of driving and had asked me to take her out to learn to drive. She didn't do too badly. I drove her down to a local business park and let her drive around in deserted parking lots for about a half an hour. We both survived with all our hair intact! After her driving lesson, we ran a few errands and headed home. V had been a busy boy while we had been gone.

A new window!

He installed a replacement window on the North side of the basement, between the house and garage. There had been a window there but it had been boarded up and covered over. We decided we wanted all the natural light we can get so we've been uncovering many windows that were boarded up in the basement. The North window went so smoothly that he decided to tackle one on the South side of the house as well. This one is at along the basement stairs and was a bit more complicated:

Before, all boarded up and nowhere to go.

Out with the old.

He's not messing around with this one!
But, best of all, we had a surprise. Stuffed into one of the cinder blocks of the wall below the window were a few crumpled sheets of newspaper. Now we know about when the 'addition' was built onto the house: late July 1961. A few highlights:
What a great headline!
J15 worked hard to reconstruct a recipe from the "Women's pages"
She was excited by all this and found the recipe for a Raspberry Linzer Torte. YUM!! We'll have to try it sometime.
More news.
Check out the latest fashions!

New furniture anyone?

And I like these prices at the grocery store!

But, back to the job at hand. We did get the window done. It didn't go in as smoothly as hoped but it is in.
It looks out on where the deck used to be.
It will eventually be underneath our new deck that we are planning so we opted to put in a glass block window to soften the view but still let in some light and air.
All done!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A productive day

Whew! What a day. I got my painting done, raked and bagged 4 huge bags of leaves and then V mowed the lawn in town with the mulching blade and shredded the rest of them. So the house in town is ready for the open house tomorrow. I brought the bags of leaves home for our compost pile. We haven't been raking leaves here so I didn't have many to add to the compost.
My rose at the town house is still blooming. It's right by the front steps and is a beautiful, inviting splash of color. When we got it, it was supposed to be a red, climbing rose. It is neither. But it is beautiful!
It's almost a shame to leave it behind.
I did get to work on the pantry. I forgot to take a true 'before' picture so here is shortly after I started:
What chaos!
I moved some jars downstairs to the food storage room. That's where most of these will eventually end up. But, we don't have the drywall finished in there yet so I know we'll have to move the shelves at least one time. And they're much easier to move without bunches of jars on them!
Much neater. I even found room for my crockpot and my stock pot. I moved my jars of beans from the kitchen cabinets into the pantry and my emergency back up of canned beans as well.
I only did the top shelves. There is also a huge space underneath that I'm thinking will become the recycling space. However, it has been a 'dumping ground' for all sorts of things since we moved in. It's a job for tomorrow- I'm tired.
Too tired to start on this!
There are paint cans, window screening materials, a 'bag of bags' and who knows what all else. J15 was helping me this afternoon and wanted to tackle this tonight but I nixed the idea and we organized the kitchen cabinets instead, putting oatmeal, whole wheat flour and rice into storage containers. I discovered a whole bunch of boxes of pasta that I didn't realize I had tucked down behind some other things. We'll be eating well from storage!!
Now, I've got a pork loin in the oven and we're going to make some biscuits since I have more flour than would fit in my container....oops.

The dawn of a new day?

Yesterday's sunrise from my front porch.
Yesterday was hopefully the start of some new ventures for us. V feels that his job interview went well. He should hear soon one way or the other since they want the job to start Dec 1. Also, yesterday I submitted my letter of interest in the clinical supervisor position that's coming available. Now, I just have to do a formal cover letter and update my resume before Thanksgiving. My department hopes to have these positions in place for the new year so things should progress quickly on that front as well.
Today, I am off to finish painting the basement at the old house. I haven't been able to make time recently but it needs to happen today because our realtor is hosting another open house tomorrow afternoon so I want it done! He did say that there was a family that looked at the house and came back for a second showing so we'll keep our fingers crossed. They evidently have daughters attending the university and are looking for a house. They were concerned that it is only listed as a 3 bedroom house (there is a 4th non-conforming bedroom in the basement) and they want 4 bedrooms. We'll see.
After I finish painting (and probably raking the leaves there!), I need to work on cleaning and organizing the pantry at the top of the basement stairs. I never got around to wiping everything down after all the construction dust we have generated in the last month or so and it's driving me crazy. The pantry area has also become the place where people (not just me) stick stuff that they "don't-know-where-else-to-put-it" so I need to organize things better. I want to shift some things from the kitchen cabinets to the pantry to make more room. I've been gradually rebuilding the food stores and need to find places for everything. We worked hard on eating down our supplies before we moved- so everything fit neatly when we moved in- now, not so much.
Well, I've got a busy day ahead of me. Time to get another cup of coffee, put in the contacts and start a load of laundry.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A bittersweet night out

We had the going away party for my coworker this evening. Her last day is Friday but several people had conflicts later in the week so we got together after work at a local restaurant. There were many laughs and a few tears but mostly just good conversation among friends.
The gang!
I'm incredibly fortunate to work with a fabulous group of people I can call friends as well. We don't socialize together all that much since we work together all week and we're all busy with our own families. But after the baby shower on Sunday and the get together this evening, we have decided that we need to do things like this on a more regular basis to unwind.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Concerts and craziness- IDC better late than never

Whew! It's been a wild few days. Here are a few stats since Saturday night:
Mice caught in the garage- 6
Percentage of workers on the job today in our department- 50
String concerts attended- 1
And a beautiful concert it was. Last night J15 had her first concert as part of the PSSO (That is the Preucil School String Orchestra). She has taken violin lessons for years at this school (Suzuki method) and this is her first year in the PSSO. As the program last night said "this group is the most advanced of five training orchestras at the School". She has wanted to play with them since she was tiny- mainly because they get to wear a red satin sash:
Modeling her concert dress.
Last night they divided the larger orchestra into several smaller groups and it was a lovely hour of beautiful music. But it meant a crazy night of running here and there.
Tomorrow will also be a bit wild. V will have to take I12 to confirmation (my usual job) since I have a farewell party after work for my coworker who is done at the end of the week.
Being at the concert last night I missed out on posting my usual Monday IDC update. There isn't much to report but here goes:
1. Plant something- No
2. Harvest something- picked some catnip to dry for the kitties.
3. Preserve something- No
4. Waste not- reused concrete blocks from the deck foundation for raised beds. Nothing else of much interest.
5. Want not- got a few chemical glow sticks at an after Halloween sale. Yeah, they're plastic and chemicals- but at 37 cents each they provide a measure of safety for the vehicles and they make great nightlights should we lose power. Stocked up on the store brand of frozen cheese tortellini. I've been trying to get away from prepared foods but these are so good and everyone likes them (they're fabulous with pesto!) and they only take a few minutes to cook. That makes them a great meal for busy nights around here. Since they were on sale this week I picked up a few packages for the freezer.
6. Community food systems- not much here.
7. Eat the food- we've been really bad this week. I was so busy last weekend that I didn't do my normal meal planning so V and I were having to discuss meals in the car while I was waiting for the bus. We were also discussing finances (not pretty at the moment!) and trying to cut even more from the grocery bill than we have been. I need to get more organized and try to plan all our meals based on what we have in stock and try to avoid going to the store except for milk and eggs.
sigh- why can't it ever be easy....

But on a brighter note- V has a job interview on Friday!!! Cross your fingers for him on Friday the 13th!!! And I've decided to throw my hat into the ring for the clinical supervisor position. They started accepting applications for it this week (through the 20th) and hope to have the positions filled and ready to go by the first of the year. If I get it we could definitely use the extra $$. So think positive thoughts for us both on the job front.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Breaking the Eggo habit

I've got a post up today over at Homemakers Who Work about our quest to break our habit of purchasing frozen waffles. Check it out here.
I'm happy to report that we've been Eggo free for over a year now.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Construction of all sorts

It was a gorgeous day here. Sunny and 70 degrees. A nearly perfect day for November. Perfect enough for getting jobs done outside.
V tackled replacing a basement window. This is the window that had been boarded up and the deck had been built mostly covering it (who knows what they were thinking!). We also needed to make repairs to the block in the wall as several had been broken out to put in an exhaust fan in the downstairs bathroom. We removed the fan ages ago since it was installed badly and was a mousey highway into the basement. While the blocks were out, we decided to install a new window in the opening- one that we can actually open!!!
V works on the blocks where the new window will go.
While V worked on the window, I began robbing out concrete blocks that had been used for the deck foundation. We're not going to keep the same structure for the deck so all of these blocks are for my use.
One course down, two to go....
What am I using blocks for, you may ask???
Why my raised beds for the garden, of course.
Raised beds, roughly laid out.
I still need to dig out the bottom course of blocks and there are some that are being used to support the deck frame after we pulled it off the house. But I should have enough to make two 4x12 foot beds. I'd like to eventually have a few more but we'll have to acquire more blocks from somewhere first.
Blocks out of the way, stakes in the corners for the first bed.
Now I just need to dig out the trench to set the blocks. I've got a string line to use as a level. Since the beds are set into a hill, the Southwest corner is about 14 inches lower than the Northeast corner. That's one of the reasons for using raised beds on this slope, to help control erosion while making it a useable space. That, and the previous owners dumped lots of gravel all over this area- most likely because it got too muddy for their horses- and it's really hard to work. By having raised beds, I can avoid having too much gravel in the soil.
I'm hoping to have these finished before it gets too cold to work so I can have them ready to use in the spring. We left a huge pile of compost at the old house that I'm thinking about moving out here to fill the beds. It will be messy but well worth it, especially since the house hasn't sold yet and we don't have any compost here that's ready yet.
All in all, a good day's work. Tomorrow is supposed to be another beautiful day. It makes me a bit irritated that I have a baby shower for a co-worker to go to tomorrow afternoon. I'd blow it off but I'm one of the hostesses- so I'd better be there- even though I'd much rather be out working on my dream.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Playing to beat the band

Or more aptly- playing WITH the band.
I12 had his first Jr High band concert this evening. They sounded great! J15 and K9 stayed at home so it was nice to sit in the audience with V and just enjoy the music.
A few photos of the evening:
Of course, Mom has to fix his hair before we leave...
The proud musician.
He plays the euphonium (kind of like a small tuba). The school is good enough to provide him with two instruments. He has a good one at school that stays there and has another practice instrument at home so he doesn't have to carry it back and forth on the bus everyday. That's great since it weighs about as much as he does. I'm waiting for the day when they tell us we have to get him one of his own (I'm guessing when he gets to high school) and I'm not looking forward to that expense. But it is something he really enjoys and takes pride in doing a good job so it's all worth it.
Now, just to get the basement finished so I can get a piano. I took lessons for 10 years as a child but have forgotten most of what I know. I'd love to take it up again. Also, K9 seems interested in the piano and he hasn't selected an instrument to learn yet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Over the top???

Debbie over at Happy Days has awarded me the Over the Top award. I'm honored. Thanks Debbie! But she has been terribly misinformed and thinks I'm Wonder Woman. (If only I could fit into my bustier!) Now, for this award what I'm supposed to do is to answer the following questions in one word. Hmm, this could take some thought and I'm feeling a bit brain dead tonight- work was a bit overwhelming today. But here goes:

1.) Where is your cell phone? Pocket
2.) Your hair? ponytail
3.) Your mother? Creative
4.) Your father? Frugal
5.) Your favorite food? Chocolate
6.) Your dream last night? Bizarre
7.) Your favorite drink? Tea
8.) Your dream goal? Progressing
9.) What room are you in? Dining
10) Your hobby? Quilting
11) Your fear? Failure
12) Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13) Where were you last night? Home
14) Something you aren't? Fake
15) Muffins? Blueberry
16) Wish list item? Chickens
17) Where did you grow up? Farm
18) Last thing you did? Shopping
19) What are you wearing? Jeans
20) Your TV? OFF
21) Your pets? Three
22) Your life? Crazy
23) Your friends? True
24) Your mood? Content
25) Missing Someone? John
26) Your Car? Toyota
27) Something you are not wearing? Jewelry
28) Your favorite store? Paul's
29) Your favorite color? Purple
30) Last time you laughed? Today
31) Last time you cried? Saturday
32) Your best friend? Roger
33) One place you go over and over? Beach
34) One person who e-mails you regularly? Debbie (not from Happy Days, another one, LOL)
35) Favorite place to eat? Home

The next part is the hardest. I'm supposed to pass this award on to 6 other bloggers. But, since my brain hurts from work today (and shopping for clothes for I12 to wear for his band concert on Thursday - I mean really, how hard should it be to find black pants, a white dress shirt and a tie!) I'm going to cheat. I follow so many blogs and I love each and every one. So, I'm going to invite anyone who wants to play along to do so. The questions are kind of fun to answer. So, if you're reading this, consider yourself nominated for this award, because I think you're all over the top!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Independence Days- Y2, W 26

Another week gone by. Another month gone by. And now it's November! Where has the year gone?! It seems like I never have enough time to accomplish the things I want to do. I know this is a common complaint, I've got no lock on this one but it's frustrating at times.
I'm just coming off a 3 day weekend but I'm feeling like I didn't get anything done. Now, I know this isn't true. Friday was a wonderful time to recharge and spend time with my parents. Saturday was spent in the kitchen, baking and cooking. Sunday...I'm not sure what happened to Sunday. We went to church and I made lunch and did some laundry and did some shopping and made dinner and did dishes but other than that... I'm not sure....
Today was tiring. I was back at work. It was an odd day- nothing went as planned. And I had a student start with me. She's here for the week and she is very motivated so she asked LOTS of questions. All of which combined to just wear me out. So tonight after I got home and got dinner started to the point where it could be left for a bit. I went out for a walk to get some fresh air and unwind a bit. The sun was setting and the moon was rising HUGE and orange. I wish I'd had my camera with me. It was beautiful- and just what I needed at the time.
But on to my usual Monday business. My Independence Days update....
1. Plant something- Nope, and not likely to change for a while.
2. Harvest something- Nothing here either.
3. Preserve something- um, no to this one as well.
4. Waste not- The usual- recycled, composted, repurposed. The kids created Halloween costumes from what we had around the house, nothing new here. V used planks from the dismantled deck to build another, larger bridge over one of the creeks. I helped him get it set in place yesterday afternoon- Oh, that's something else I did on Sunday- that accounts for the time in the afternoon where I didn't get anything done- I guess I did do something.
5. Want not- Stocked up on potatoes as the grocery store was having a great sale. 25 lbs into storage although we'll probably use 10 lbs of those for Thanksgiving since we are to provide the mashed potatoes (for 15!) I also picked up some pasta that was a good deal and will keep in storage. Put 2 loaves of pumpkin bread into the freezer for later. I'm really glad I checked my squash since 2 were going bad already. I tried to get as many pears as I could into the fridge to see if we can keep them for a while. The ones that wouldn't fit we're trying to eat fresh. I plan to share some with my friend Jim.
6. Community food systems- stopped at the local cheese factory on my way home Friday. Baked bread that will be used when we help serve at the Free Lunch Program here in town the Friday after Thanksgiving. There was a collection of bread on Sunday that will be frozen and used for the lunch. Anything not used for lunch will be donated to the food bank or the homeless shelter. Got pears from my parents that I will share. I'll can some if I have to but I'd rather eat them fresh.
7. Eat the food-
Mmm, buttercup squash soup.
Made not only pumpkin bread from my squash but also made soup on Sunday for lunch. I didn't really have a recipe but it was tasty. I sauteed onions and garlic until translucent, added chicken stock, squash puree, some thyme, salt, pepper and a little hot sauce (Scorned Woman sauce that J15 brought me as a gift from New Orleans this summer- I Love the name!). Even V thought it was good, which is amazing since he isn't usually fond of creamy soups.
Not bad for the last week of October.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin bread

Yesterday, as I was putting potatoes away in the storage room (5 lbs of 'local' potatoes for $.99- a good price- even though the local was Nebraska. I need to pick up some more while they're still on sale since I'm supposed to supply mashed potatoes for 15 for Thanksgiving!) I noticed that one of my winter squash had a funky looking spot on it. This prompted me to check all of them. I discovered that two were just beginning to go bad. Yeesh, it's not even winter yet! I guess the wet year has made them too wet to store well. I'll have to keep a close eye on all of them this year.
Anyway, I ended up with two buttercup squash that needed used- pronto! So I cut out the bad bits and roasted them in the oven. You know the drill, cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, cut side down on your baking pan and cook in the oven (400) till they can easily be pierced with a knife.
I already had the oven going since I was baking wheat bread (and rye) for us (and I needed some to take for a donation to the free lunch program) so this wasn't a big deal.
But then, after scooping out the yummy insides, I was presented with a problem:
A whole bowl of squash!
That's a 2.5 quart bowl full of squash. That's a lot of yummy, nutritious goodness to use.
So I decided to make pumpkin bread. It seemed in keeping with the day- even though I'm using squash. It really doesn't matter, pumpkin and squash are pretty interchangeable. In fact, I remember hearing once that much of the commercially sold canned pumpkin is actually squash.
Pumpkin bread
Preheat oven to 350*
Beat together:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Add in 2 cups pumpkin (or squash) puree.
In a separate bowl combine:
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
Even though the original recipe doesn't call for it I also add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients and some vanilla to the wet- probably about 1/2 tsp of vanilla- I'm not sure- I never measure it (oops)
Slowly blend dry ingredients into wet and divide batter evenly into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. And yes, it is important to flour them (trust me on this one from past experience).
Bake in your 350* oven for about an hour and:
I actually made a double batch yesterday. I could have made more but I only own 4 loaf pans!
I've still got some squash puree in the fridge. I'm thinking maybe some soup for lunch, mmmmm.