Friday, September 30, 2011

You just never know....

Hug your loved ones tight and let them know you love them.  You just never know.
Two disturbing deaths in our area in the past few days.  One we knew, one I've never met.
The one we've never met was a young man, 41, with three young children. He was the brother of the best friend of one of my coworkers.  He was killed in a farm accident on Wednesday evening.  Many people out there don't consider farming a dangerous occupation.  How wrong they are.
Also on Wednesday, the husband of one of my friends from church died suddenly.  I'm not sure of the circumstances, I'm guessing his heart but I'm not going to call her up and ask the details. He was only 50, the same age as V, and leaves behind his lovely wife Brenda and 4 children ages 7-12 ( if I remember right).  This was one of the guys V really liked talking to at church, we had borrowed power tools from them (they have a power post hole auger we used for the deck) and they have come over sledding on several occasions.
Just makes you think....  Life is so precious.  Make the most of every moment.
I didn't get as much accomplished today as I had wished.  I was a bit distracted.  I've got to go throw sheets over the tomatoes, we've got a frost advisory tonight and I've finally got a bunch of big green tomatoes on.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neighbors, straw and a half dozen eggs

That was my afterwork afternoon.  Whew!
I made a connection on Craigslist this week with a guy who has some straw to sell.  That's great because I was looking to buy some straw.  The last connection I had fell through. It turns out this guy is less than 4 miles away from us, just across the highway.  As the crow flies it would be much closer but with Rapid Creek meandering its way through, the roads take much longer.
So, after work, V picked me up and we made a quick trip to Menards to pick up the last of the lumber and roof panels for the chicken run.  Of course we had to decide to haul 12 ft lumber in the minivan on one of the windiest days this year.  We had a wind advisory this afternoon so it was interesting getting home with the hatchback chained shut over the lumber.
But, we made it home, unloaded lumber and hopped back in the van to drive over to the neighbor with the straw.  He's a really nice guy- a full time plumber and part time farmer.  We struck a deal for 20 bales of straw and he was amazed that we could easily fit 10 bales in the back of the van.  We'll head back to pick up the rest this weekend sometime.  But, it seems that now I've got a local connection for hay and straw when we need it.  The straw will be used for multiple purposes.  Some will be used in the chicken nest boxes, some for mulching strawberries and some for the garden in the spring.  We'll also most likely use some when we do some more landscaping of the yard next year.  At least we've got room in the hay loft in the barn to store it.
J17 announced when we got home that she gathered the first full half dozen eggs from the nest boxes this afternoon.  The girls are doing well.  Magnus has been a bit spooky but not REALLY aggressive.  He did jump at me last night but I was also rushing around (we were late to parade!) and probably seemed much more of a threat than I usually do.   I'll try to spend some time out there in the next few days to get him accustomed to me again.  I find that he gets more cocky when I don't have much time to spend out there. (I just couldn't resist the cocky joke!!)
I've got tomorrow off for my first 'real' 90% day.  I can't wait.  I've got a list of things to do- some left overs from last weekend- but also plan to spend some quality time with my honey.  It seems that as we get busier, we don't have the time to talk to each other much to see how we're really doing.  We went through enough trouble with our marriage a few years ago that neither one of us want to risk 'assuming' that the other is OK.  Of course, he is helping me build the chicken run so we'll be spending construction time together.  But that's NOT the same thing as sitting on the deck with a pot of tea and some biscotti.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CHS Homecoming parade 2011

Whew!  What a crazy day!  But we're finally home.  School and work were completed, parade marched or watched and dinner eaten.  Now I'm tired!  But I thought I'd share a few images of the evening.
First, while we waited for the parade to start, V and K11 were wrestling in the grass.
After dropping of I14 at the start, we sat near the end of the parade route for ease of gathering up participants so we had a while to wait before the parade reached us.  Not the best photo below but K11 was finally able to perfect making a whistle out of a blade of grass.
Ah, the joy of being easily amused!
Finally, the parade approached.  Here comes the band:
 I14 is the second one in the row.
 No one we know but a really cool old car!
 For a few string instruments on a hay rack, these guys sounded great!  Let's definitely support the performing arts!!
And almost at the end of the parade. J17 was a purple crayon in the art club group.
All in all, it was a good time.  At least the weather was nice, cool but clear.

And the latest update!  V is going to be interviewed on one of the local news stations in October for his book.  Woo Hoo!  Things are picking up!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm glad it's Monday

Surprised?
This weekend, the weather was cool and a little cloudy. A little damp around the edges but, all in all, great weather for working outside getting some of those fall tasks done.  I'm glad today is Monday because it was wet and miserable. Rainy and mid 50's is not my favorite kind of weather.  So, I'm glad I was at work today instead of at home fuming because I have things to do outside.
This is kind of a crazy week for us.  It's homecoming week at school for the oldest two children which means themes/costumes for each school day, parade on Wednesday, football game on Friday and dance on Saturday.  Even K11 can participate in the parade with his elementary school.  Of course, it's not high on his priority list.  We've got to figure out logistics for that evening. K11 is finished with band rehearsal at 4:45 and I14 needs to be at the parade start by 5:30.  Not enough time to go home. Maybe we'll pack a picnic dinner... or just eat late.  We'll have to see.
 I've got Friday this week as my day off.  My first 90% day didn't really feel like it counted since we were flying most of the day.  Last Friday was my comp from the weekend before so this will be my first 'real' day off.  So, I've only got a few more days of work before my next three day weekend.  Woot!  I think I'm liking this 90% work thing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Swept away?

V is still not feeling terribly well and is only able to work in short bursts.  We did get the final posts planted for the chicken run and V cut the old spikes off the old fence posts we used for posts.
J17 helped me clear out part of the garden.  She needs some cash for homecoming week and was willing to work for it.  So we got quite a bit done.
Among other things, I harvested the broom corn today.  A whole wagon load:
 It was sorted and tied into bundles:
and hung in the basement.
I know that for 'commercial'  broom making you're not actually supposed to let the seed set or ripen as the bristles get more brittle.  But, we will pull off the seeds for scratch grains for the chickens and I still want to try to make a broom.  I just love broom corn.  This is a multicolored variety- i think from Seed Savers Exchange but I'm not sure- I'd have to check the package.
Now, it's movie night- we're watching old movies.  the new TV is able to scan movies and re-render them.  Tonight it's Captain Blood.  Ooooo......

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It was strategy!

Yeah, It was...
I'm just going to keep telling myself that.
I was out in the garden this afternoon pulling weeds.  Of course, I didn't set out initially to pull weeds but I gave a tug on a huge lambsquarter plant and, low and behold, it came right up.  So I pulled some more.  There was a section of the garden where the weeds had taken over (where all my vining crops had failed and died) and gotten huge.  But, I discovered that the huge weeds, that are now blooming but have yet to go to seed, have crowded out all the other weeds.  I'm hoping that by pulling them now, before they seed, I will not only reduce the seed load for next spring but I'm hoping that maybe some of the newly exposed seeds will sprout and will then freeze in a few weeks.  Hmmm, maybe I'll even run the tiller over the section where everything is finished to encourage the weeds to sprout...  So, it was a strategy all along!  Yeah, right....
V is still not feeling well- he is having a terrible time kicking this respiratory crud- he ended up taking a several hour nap this afternoon so we didn't get too much done on the chicken run.  I wasn't feeling up to running the post hole digger by myself.  We did get the posts set- except for one that will need to be set in concrete because it is the gate post.  Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we can set that post and get started on the rest of fencing.  Of course, we don't have the roof panels yet- we're thinking about putting a roof over part of the run to provide some shade and protection from the elements.  But, who knows, maybe I'll change my mind.  The chickens haven't seemed to mind not having a roofed run this summer.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn

The Autumn Equinox is here.  Fall has arrived and it definitely feels like it here.  We barely broke 60 today and it was downright chilly this morning when I went out to feed and water the chickens.
Today has been a bit slower than I would like, not as much accomplished as I had hoped- but I'm not complaining.  We'll see if we get to the chicken run.  It's not going to happen today.
I thought I'd share a few photos of the day and maybe a recipe :-)
First, breakfast:
Nothing better than our own eggs.  Mmmm.....
The last rose of summer:
 And, now, what you've all been waiting for, the finishing touches on the rumpus room.
V built a little custom shelf for the back of the couch:
 He used left over bits of the bamboo flooring to create this little shelf just higher than the back of the couch.  It allows the little lamp in the corner a space to sit (J17 does her homework in that corner), a spot to safely set glasses and cups and, maybe most importantly, keeps the cats from clawing the back of the couch- that space is just cat sized and they love to hang out there.
And, below, the new entertainment center.
V custom built shelves for the space.  The side shelves will be for books and such and we deployed a new TV,  X-box and a Kinect.  We have been saving for this AV stuff for quite a while.  We had planned to get the children the x-box and kinect bundle last year for the holidays but it didn't happen then.  The next technology item we'll be saving for: V still wants to get a sound system and then we'll have a fabulous home movie theatre.  Yeah, I know, it's a big a@@ TV and is not at all frugal or green or anything like that... in fact, it's decadent.  We don't watch a lot of TV but watch a lot of movies as a family and with the big couch and TV we can all sit comfortably together without people having to sit on the floor.  This is our family room and I can't wait until it is all done.
But back to the rest of life...
It's beginning to look like fall outside as well as feel like it:
 The trees are beginning to change and the goldenrod is blooming.
And finally, for a recipe. V had some work to do for one of his employers and I was left at loose ends in the kitchen... what to do, what to do....  Remember I had been checking out recipes for using lavender?  I made Honey Lavender Biscotti.  Mmmm., heavenly!!  Too bad V is still a bit congested, he's missing out on some of the subtle aromas and flavors of these lovelies.
But the recipe:
HONEY LAVENDER BISCOTTI
Whisk together in a large bowl:
3 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
to this add:
3 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons orange zest  (I didn't have an orange but used the zest of the organic lemon I had in the fridge- it was fine)
1 Tablespoon dried lavender blossoms (Please make sure they're not sprayed!!)
In another bowl, stir together:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to blend.
Divide the dough into three portions and, on a lightly floured board (and with floured hands- it's sticky dough!) shape each into a log about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch tall.  My loaves were probably about 8 or 9 inches long.
Place these on a parchment paper covered baking sheet (I used my big jelly roll pan) and bake for 25 minutes in a pre-heated 350*F oven.  About half way through, rotate the pan so it bakes evenly.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on racks for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 275*F
Then, using a long, thin serrated knife, slice on a slight diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices, like so:
V is always obliging when I make biscotti and eats the little end pieces before the second baking.  Poor suffering man!
Place these slices on the same parchment paper,  cut side down (don't have them touching) and bake for an additional 15 minutes at 275*F.
Don't be tempted to over bake them, they will continue to crisp up as they cool.  Too long and they will be rock hard! (take this as a word of warning from someone who has done this with a different biscotti recipe!)
Behold:
Finished biscotti.  Allow to cool fully, preferably on a rack for air circulation.
Supposedly, these will keep for weeks.  I can't see them lasting that long!
I think I need to make some tea....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This and that

The week is progressing quickly.  I can't believe it's already Wednesday night.  And I can't believe that it is almost Autumn!  Where has the year gone?!  Of course, I'm not really too sorry to see this garden season end.  It has been pretty dismal.
A garden update:  I'm only getting a few tomatoes at a time now.  Except for the yellow cherry ones... those are trying to take over the world. But there are quite a few big green tomatoes out there.  If only they will ripen before frost.   The peppers are having another flush of production so we'll have plenty.  The scarlet runner beans are finally ramping up production.
A Magnus update:  First, thanks to all who commented on my post about rooster woes.  Magnus has been his usual sweet self all week. I was even able to pet him this afternoon, as was J17 when she went out to gather eggs.  Who knows,  maybe he was just having a huge testosterone rush on Saturday.   My theory for that is that there was too much testosterone in the air drifting North from the football stadium since the Hawkeyes staged an epic comeback to stomp Pitt.  We'll still keep an eye on him and won't put up with any nonsense.  From the hens:  We're still getting 4 to 5 eggs a day.  I'm waiting for the day we get our first half a dozen at a time!!  I'm definitely going to have to start incorporating more egg dishes into the weekly menu.
Otherwise, not much is going on here. Work has been a little slow this week- mainly because many of the patients on my unit are so ill that they're not even appropriate for treatment yet.  But that's OK.  It is giving me some time to get caught up on other stuff.
I've been looking up some recipes... Some culinary lavender recipes.  I really want to make a chocolate lavender cake sometime.  But what I really want to try (maybe this weekend) are Honey-Lavender Biscotti.  Mmmm... biscotti and tea on the deck.
I've only got one more day of work this week.  I've got Friday off as a comp for working Saturday.  We've got big plans for this three day weekend.  Friday, we're finishing the rumpus room in the basement (and deploying the new entertainment center as a surprise for the children!)  Then we'll be working on the permanent run for the chickens.  We figured out that we can repurpose some fence posts from when we removed the old fence so we don't have to purchase any support posts.  Of course, before we can finish the run, we are planning to install gutters on the side of the shop to divert water away from falling into the run.  And we'll be deploying rain barrels once we have downspouts- maybe not this fall yet but definitely in the spring.  We got the gutters this summer when there was a huge sale on them at the home center and we had a bunch of rebate checks from the kitchen remodel supplies.  They've been stored in the shop for a while waiting for us to have time and weather to put them up.  It was so hot for a while that working up on a roof wasn't too appealing.  The weather is to be lovely this weekend.
Don't worry- I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I got a package!

I had a package arrive today from the lovely Zan Asha of beekeeping fame!  A while ago, I entered a contest at The Renegade Farmer and actually won!  I won a copy of The Radish.  Kind of funny, to win a local magazine and have it shipped from New York.  But it wasn't so much the magazine but the extra prize inside.  I knew when I picked up the package that there was something more.
Inside was a huge packet of lavender.   Mmmm.....  I see lots of possibilities ahead.
Sorry, no photos, I14 borrowed my camera to shoot some video.

THANKS ZAN!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A drizzly Sunday

It was kind of a slow day here.  I'm feeling much better, as is I14, who also got it.  V, however, is still struggling with this respiratory malady, I think because he had to fly ill last weekend.
It was cool and drizzly here today.  Low to mid 60's and drippy.  Not an actual rain, just misty.  V and the boys worked a bit on moving shrubs outside the back door in preparation for the deck extension that we hope to put on at some point.
J17 and I did some shopping this afternoon.  I was fortunate enough to get a 30% discount coupon at a local store (Kohl's) and they generally have a great selection on their clearance racks. So, we shopped.  I needed a few things for work (new pants and a couple of fall/winter shirts), the boys needed new jackets and J17 and I found a few deals on the discount racks.  With sales, clearance and discounts, we got $500 of merchandise for $180 (tax included).  Not too shabby of shoppers. For example- we got I14 a jacket that was priced at $100.  Since it was 'end of the season' for fall jackets it was on sale at 50% off and on top of that we had the extra 30% off. I'm so glad that J17 has picked up the bargain shopping gene.  She even got a great deal on a dress for homecoming. We then hit the grocery store- the daily deal was 10 lbs of midwest grown potatoes for $1.99!
Magnus was a bit more his usual self today.  I was able to go in to feed and water them and collect eggs with no problems.  I even raked up the bedding under the roost without him going nuts.  Of course, he went after V but V slapped him around a bit with his gloves and he backed down.  We'll see what happens.  I got 4 eggs today, three brown and another blue one.  And yesterday, I gave away the first half dozen eggs- well, bartered more accurately.  In exchange, I got some lovely poblano peppers and some french sorrel.
Tomorrow it's back to work and school.  Only 4 days of work and then I've got a 3 day weekend.  My plan is to work on the permanent run for the chickens this weekend.  I would really, really like to go the beekeeping class offered by Zan Asha on Saturday but it would be a several hour drive and I'm not sure I can justify that.  I don't know...

I'm starting to get some ideas for my days off this winter.  I'm really hoping that since the house is more put together, I can spend some time sewing and/or quilting. It seems like forever since I've had time for either and I can't wait.  Now to get the garden put to bed for the winter, get the chicken run finished and a few more inside projects done so I'll have time.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rooster woes

We may be heading down a bad path with Magnus.  He has turned into a truly beautiful bird and is quite regal looking.  I have always been able to pet him- maybe not always happily on his part, he has been getting more aggressive recently.  I'm sure it is just part of his age and little rooster hormones kicking in- he is nearly 5 months old.  He is doing his duty with the girls - not too rough at least.
He has never been really fond of V- maybe he recognizes him as the alpha male on the farm or maybe just because V didn't spend much time with the chickens as they were growing up.  But regardless, Magnus has been getting more aggressive with me- and I'm the one who feeds them and brings them treats.  Until this afternoon it has taken the form of waggling his head at me, slowly approaching, flapping his wings and crowing- these didn't bother me at all- he is, after all, on duty protecting his girls.
But today, things changed.  This afternoon, after a Saturday at work, I was out in the coop, checking the nest boxes (the girls were all outside in the run) and he jumped at me.  He actually bit my shirt sleeve.  Fortunately I was wearing long sleeves or it could have been ugly.  Later I went back in to see what would happen- he didn't charge me but he definitely was stalking me, herding me to the door.  V went in and Magnus attacked his leg.  Not good.
I've been doing a bit of reading online for suggestions.  There seem to be two camps.  One is the 'win them over with kindness' crew who suggest hand feeding and snuggling them until they calm. The other are the folks who advocate showing him that you are the alpha chicken and not backing down.   He isn't bad yet but I don't want it getting worse.  I don't want to wait until he injures someone- especially the children.  One post I saw recommended using a squirt gun.  Hmm, we used it for behavior modification for the dog and cats, maybe it would work on chickens.
I'm open to feedback or advice.

I'd rather he not have to become dinner but I don't want to have to always watch my back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A little frosty around the edges

We had a little patchy frost this morning.  Nothing major but it still seems far too early for even this.  The squash vines took a bit of a hit but not enough to kill them, they're just singed around the edges.
I ended up staying home from work today.  V has shared his malady with me and I've got a sore throat and have been coughing all day.  I've generally been feeling like I got hit by a truck.  It was a beautiful day- too bad I was in no shape to really enjoy it.  But I did manage some laundry- hanging some sheets and towels out on the line and did some harvesting in the garden.  I gave the chickens several treats today- they always like it when I'm home- It seems that I bring them treats several times a day and they really like that.  It is so funny to see them run to the fence when I approach.  Only three eggs today, all brown, but several of the little girls are checking out the nest boxes so soon.....
I harvested our winter squash this afternoon.  Only 4 of them- at least that I found- I'm hoping that there may be a few more hiding in there that I missed- but sadly, they seemed to flower most when it was SO hot this summer and no fruit set on.  sigh... next year... next year.....  I didn't take any photos of them yet but I'll try to remember to post some.  This year we grew one called Speckled Hound.  A much more manageable size than the Galeux d'Eysines that we grew last year.  And even if we only got 4 squash this year- I've still got some frozen puree from last year that I need to use, so there will still be pumpkin bread this winter.  Those hundreds of pounds of pumpkin last year are still with us, it seems.
I'm off to bed early tonight.  I don't think staying up late last night processing hot peppers for the freezer helped with my illness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm back...

After a long day of travel, V and I arrived home Monday night.  Sadly, he came down with a cold Sunday night and was a miserable flyer.  But we had a lovely trip and the weather home was beautiful. We were able to see a lovely sunset above the clouds:
I've been dragging for the past two days.  I think I need a vacation from my vacation!  The garden has not miraculously weeded itself or recovered from the weird weather of the year.  But a few firsts!
Last night we had our first watermelon.  One of our two melons that set on. This is a Golden Midget from Baker Creek.  It probably could have ripened for another day but we were excited to eat it.  It was small enough that we finished the entire melon in one sitting- handy because I really hate having a watermelon taking up so much space in my fridge.  Definitely one to remember next year.
And today another first:
5 EGGS!!  INCLUDING OUR FIRST BLUE EGG!!!  WOOT!  This means that the little girls are starting to lay.  I've had my eye on a couple of them for the past week or so.
We have the potential for patchy frost tonight.  WAAAY too early in my book.  I don't really think it will be a problem- they're forecasting 34 but the sky is clear so who knows.  Honestly, I don't really care if the garden gets hit at this point.  After 4 days of not being picked, I only got half of a 5 quart pail of tomatoes.
But we do have peppers:
So, just in case, I picked a pail of peppers to freeze.   Guess what I'm doing after dinner...

Not much else is going on here.  The children are settling back into the routine of school, the chickens are doing what chickens do, the cats are being catty and the dog is ruling over all.

Oh, and a question.  I've got some quite overgrown pattypan squash.  I've been splitting them and feeding them to the chickens.  But does anyone know if I can store them like a winter squash for the winter?  I may try it just to see what happens.  I don't see why they wouldn't work.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What a great day

Nothing to take away from the history of the day and the sadness we all feel...
But we had a great day!
First this morning:  Brunch at V's friend's home.  I got to have a total local/sustainable foods geek moment!  It seems that his friend is also a local/sustainable food fan and, living close enough to DC, she has made the connection with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and meets him at his every 6 week drop off in the DC area.  So this morning, I got to have eggs and sausage from Polyface farms.  Of course, I was one of two guests present who actually knew the significance of that.  It was, for me, a true local foods nirvana moment!  The eggs were tasty and the sausage was fabulous!  It has been fun this weekend to be able to talk with others who 'get it'.
Then at 1, we met my sister and her husband in Annapolis.
Here we are:
We took a ride on a water taxi from the city harbor to the maritime museum.  We went way out into the bay so it was fun!
It was especially fun because there was another couple on board with small children.  It was so great to see the little boy's face (he was probably 3 or 4) when we passed a sailboat flying a pirate flag.  It was priceless.
There is evidence around of the hurricane and recent flooding.  Look below at all the flotsam in the water.
 There were lots of logs and branches floating all over, most likely washed into the bay with all the rain.
After lunch at the Chart House restaurant (mmmm... crabcakes!) we wandered around on Main Street.
Here is my BIL with his service dog Bryce.
Poor puppy was not expecting to have to get on a boat today and was a bit freaked out.  But, all in all, he did pretty well.  At the end of the afternoon, we were all tired puppies.
It was so great to see my sister and BIL, even if only for an afternoon.  Maybe we'll have to do this again sometime.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A day in Annapolis

V and I arrived in Annapolis last night and had a late dinner in a local restaurant.  This morning, we set out to explore.
It was a lovely day. This is the view down Main Street outside the hotel:
 We are staying at the historic Maryland Inn.  It was built in the late 1700s and many delegates of the Continental Congress stayed there when Annapolis was the national capitol- when the Treaty of Paris was ratified at the end of the Revolutionary War.
The hotel is built on a triangle between streets and is an interesting shape:
It is said that Ben Franklin and many other notables had drinks in the restaurant/tavern in the basement of the inn.  How cool is that!!
From the hotel, we walked the few blocks down the the city harbor:
And back inland to the State House:
Sadly, the State House is under renovation and we couldn't go in.  We wanted to see the room where George Washington resigned his commission prior to accepting the presidency.  We are such geeks!!
Right after lunch time we headed just a few miles East to V's friend's home.  Here is the birthday girl cutting her cake!
We had a wonderful time and met lots of great, interesting people.
V even got to do his very first book signing!
Tomorrow, we will go back to his friend's house for brunch and then will meet my sister here in Annapolis. 
So far, we're having a wonderful time and have managed to unwind.  There is a bit of tension though, being this close to DC on the anniversary of 9/11.  The terror alert is high and it was so odd to see signs along the highway urging people to report suspicious activity.  A bit of culture shock for those of us who have been out of the East Coast mentality for the past 17 years.
Now off to bed.  Tomorrow is another busy, hopefully relaxing day.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Excitedly busy

I'm frantically busy this evening.  So what am I doing???  Blogging of course.
Tomorrow afternoon V and I board a plane bound for Maryland.  We'll fly into BWI and spend the weekend in Annapolis.  My parents are coming up to stay with the children for the weekend.
I'm just about done packing.  V is picking me up from work at lunchtime Friday and we're heading straight to the airport.  We'll be back Monday night.
We're staying at a the Maryland Inn- a historic inn in Annapolis- built in the late 1700's.  Too cool.  We're hoping to see my sister this weekend as well.  I'm really looking forward to some down time with my honey.
I'm taking my laptop along- we'll see if I make time to post or not.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If only I had my camera

V and I both had meetings downtown this afternoon/early evening.  Mine with the social ministry committee at church and V with the writer's group from the paper.  So we met downtown before we went our separate ways.
We met at one of the local bookstores.  And, there, on the shelf was V's book!  I wish I had my camera so I could have captured the grin on his face.  Priceless!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A request and a prize

Erin asked about my recipe for Beer Bread. It is SO, SO easy!!
Here goes.
Mix together:
3 cups sifted flour ( at least spoon it into the measuring cup, if you're a 'scoop and dump' measurer like me- it may turn out like a rock!)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
Add into this 1 (12 oz) bottle/can beer
Put immediately into a greased loaf pan. It will be rising already!
Pour over the top 1/4 cup of melted butter and bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about an hour.  Check it as it gets close to the time, you don't want to overbake or it gets dry.

It's really kind of like a huge baking powder biscuit but it doesn't taste like it. So far I've added in shredded cheddar (about 1/2 cup- I didn't measure). On the list to try is finely chopped sauteed onion, hot peppers.  I'm thinking sun dried tomatoes would also be good... hmm, sun dried tomato/basil...   another one to add to the list to try.

And now, for the prize!
Many, many thanks go to LindaM at hello it's me for honoring me with an award.


The Liebster Blog award.  This award is designed to bring some recognition to small blogs and hopefully bring them more attention that they deserve.  It's even an easy one!  No embarrassing secrets or anything.  All I need to do is pass it on to at least 3 other blogs with under 200 followers.  Easy, peasy!  But that does mean that I have to make a decision.
Some small blogs of note that I follow- I'm actually going to award more than three:
Lisa at R & L's Homespun Life.  Lisa is an amazing woman who has recently started chemotherapy for an aggressive breast cancer.  She has such an amazing attitude that it humbles me.  She also writes about her family, garden and their efforts to simplify their lives.  Stop in to offer her some words of support. You won't be sorry. And I'll also mention that she lives not far from me.
meemsnyc at gardening in the boroughs of nyc is another fabulous small blogger.   She writes about her organic gardening adventures and living in New York City- well, in the boroughs.  Truly amazing.
Debbie at Happy Days is another wonderful blogger.  She is teaching herself to quilt and writes about her life, children, grandchildren and her new kitten.
Last but not least Akannie at Elegant Blessings writes quite eloquently about life in general.  A bit of gardening and a lot of wisdom.
If you haven't paid these lovely blogs a visit, please do so.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day: Beer Bread and Baby Corn

It was a lovely day here.  Definitely a fall feel in the air. We only hit the mid 60's!!  But it was sunny and breezy- a terrific day for airing out the house and getting a few things done around the house.
V and the boys worked to put the pool away for the year.  J17 helped me out in the house.
After the party, we were left with more than half a case of Bud Light.  V and I aren't huge beer drinkers anyway and especially not this one.   We're much more small, craft brew drinkers when we do drink beer. So what to do with that much beer that we would really prefer not to drink?  Beer bread of course!
I made the first batch Saturday evening and it went quickly.  I made it according to the recipe and while it was good, it was calling out for something more.  So this morning, I added some shredded cheddar.
 Mmm... I'm seeing a whole series of variations since we still have 14 cans left!  At least it's cool enough now that I don't feel bad running the oven.
My other project for the day was processing baby corn.  We do like our stir fry and one of the fun things in it has always been the baby corn.  So this year we decided to grow some ourself.  It is actually a type of popcorn.
 This one is Chire's Baby from Baker Creek.  Good thing we're growing it for baby corn and not planning to let any mature for popcorn this year since I got it planted so late.  It's just now silking so there is no way it would be mature by first frost.
 Isn't it cute?  For baby corn, you pick it a day or two after the silks appear.
 Blanched and cooled, I have 4 packages in the freezer for fun in stir fry this winter.
Hopefully I can get a few more packages in a few more days.  There are still more ears forming out there.
One thing, if you want to try this, be aware that if you want to have some mature for popcorn you would need to have plants specifically for that.  The ears are so tightly affixed to the stalk that I basically destroyed the stalk picking them.  Not like other corn I have grown in the past.  I've still got some seed so maybe next year we'll grow some for popcorn.  By then I14 should be out of braces and will be able to eat it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Old Threshers 2011

After the nearly 1.5 inches of rain we got yesterday today dawned cool, clear and beautiful.  Since the weather was so gorgeous, we took a trip an hour south of us to Mt Pleasant to go the the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion.  I've been attending this off and on since I was a child.  My Dad has an antique tractor that my grandfather used to exhibit and drive in the Parade of Power.  It isn't on exhibit anymore (Dad noticed too many of the brass parts kept coming up missing) but the event is still going on strong. I'm not sure what number reunion this was but it's a lot! So, here are a few photos of the day.

There was a steam calliope.  They had just stopped playing when we got close enough for photos.
And below, the line up of steam tractors:
 And there is always horsepower of a different sort:
 And everyone's favorite:
The steam train engines!!
In the video below I made a mistake in the voice over. They are actually using a horse-powered baler.  They had been threshing earlier.
video
The demonstrations are always fun.  We also got to see a potter working, the steam powered veneer mill and the steam thresher.  Oh, and there is always the blacksmith shop and new this year a wheelwright.
And there are always the obligatory photos with the NEW farm machinery.  This year it was Case rather than John Deere.  The tractor below costs more than we paid for our entire property!!
 And J17 likes the photo below enough that she is considering using it for one of her senior pictures.
It is definitely her!
Even the drive home was beautiful.
The crops are beginning to change and there is the hint of fall in the air.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A rainy Saturday

We needed rain and boy, oh, boy have we gotten it!  It has been raining most of the day.  Sometimes hard, sometimes not.
 The last time I checked we had .4 inch and that was a while ago.  And the sky has opened several times since in huge downpours.  But, even with the rain we had last week and the .4 this morning the creeks are still dry.  NOT a good sign.
We had planned to go to Mt Pleasant to the Old Threshers reunion today but because the weather is so dicey we'll go tomorrow when it should be beautiful. So, today became an inside jobs day.
Of course, we started off the day with eggs all around.  It's so EGGCITING and they taste SO good.
We got to the point this week where the 18 count egg carton I saved from work was almost full!  Eddie has been laying this week and she has been producing HUGE eggs for a pullet.  So far all that we have used have had double yolks.  And we have a new layer. At least, yesterday there was a little almost pink egg on the floor.  All the regular layers have been using the nest boxes so I'm thinking it's someone new. But I'm not sure who....  hmm, an investigation is due.
But, other tasks called today.  Laundry- of course I can't hang things out so maybe I'll wash sheets early tomorrow and hang them out before we leave... And the never ending task of dishes.  But my biggest accomplishment so far today has been organizing the pantry.
All the empty jars have been stored downstairs. The few remaining jars of tomato sauce from last year have been brought up and the new ones from this summer have been moved onto the shelves downstairs.  This also gave me the chance to check my bean inventory before soup season starts.
I hope you are all having a productive holiday weekend.  Remember to honor the workers in your life and take some time from your own labors to enjoy the time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trying on a new look

Please be patient...

It's a new month with lots of changes... maybe more here as well.