Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

 I hope you all have a safe evening.
And for those who are celebrating Samhain- have a blessed evening.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My middle child

Is growing up!  I14 was confirmed today at church.  He is now considered a full-fledged adult member.  He had a small class:
Only three of them.  My parents came up for the day and my brother and SIL also joined us for the occasion.
After church, we all headed to our house, joined by CR, I14's mentor, for lunch.  I kept it pretty simple, pasta with a choice of two sauces, fresh bread and tossed salad.  For dessert, pumpkin pudding and ice cream.  It turns out that my brother and CR know each other from having worked together on occasion (CR works on the planes that my brother uses to test fly equipment.) so there was lively conversation for much of the afternoon.
We still need to carve our pumpkins for Halloween and finalize costumes.  K11 will be trick-or-treating with friends and I14 and J17 will go out briefly to the neighbors when she gets home from orchestra.  Looks like tomorrow will be a fend for yourself night for food.  That's OK, we've got lots of left over pasta and quiche in the fridge.
My parents brought us some corn for the chickens, gleaned from the fields.  We traded them for some eggs.  Mom also brought some oatmeal for the chickens.  They had it in storage and moths got into it and it was quite wormy (That's why I store my extra in the freezer!).  I sealed it in old coffee cans and took it directly to the coop to ration out. There was NO WAY I was bringing that buggy stuff into the house!!  But I'm sure the chickens won't mind the extra protein...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mmm... Brains....

And other Saturday trivia!
J17's Dungeons and Dragons party went off well this afternoon.  The brains were quite tasty!  But, boy, it was loud here!!  Seven teenagers having fun is quite noisy.  But a grand time was had by all.  They only had a few hours this afternoon since J17 is off this evening being a roving violinist at an Italian Dinner fundraiser.  Most of the time they were all together this afternoon was spent creating characters and for most of the group this is their first time with an RPG.
We had lots of snacks- including some junk that I don't normally buy.  And one boy brought a giant bag of pizza rolls that I cooked in the oven for them all.  I made the mistake of eating a few of those and some candy corn and now I feel a bit sick.  It's amazing how quickly you get 'un-used' to eating processed food and junk.  But I was heartened that the first thing the kids finished was the bowl of grapes.  And they are all getting together again in two weeks to continue the game.  They don't have school on Nov 11 so they're planning an all day game-fest.  I'm kind of glad I've got to work that day!!
I spent part of the afternoon (while the party was going on) in the kitchen.  I'm still there off and on.  I'm having a quiche making marathon.  I had over 4 dozen eggs in the fridge so I decided to make some quiche- 6 of them!  Two each of the following:  Southwestern (sweet corn, chili peppers, onions and bacon), Broccoli/ cheese and sausage/ mushroom.  Two we will work on for dinner tonight (and leftovers!) and the other 4 will be frozen for future use.  More quick meals for the freezer.  Yeah!!
Tomorrow, I14 will be confirmed.  One more entertainment event to get through.  Whew.  But I've got everything ready but dessert.  One more thing for the oven today and then I'm done.
Gotta run and check the oven.  Hope you are all having a productive weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Plotting and planning

We woke up to a frosty 26 degrees this morning.  Brrr...  But I didn't have to go out in it.  Since I worked last weekend at the hospital, I had today off as a comp day.  We've got a busy, busy weekend ahead of us so this was a great opportunity to do some planning and prep work.
Tomorrow afternoon, J17 is having some friends over for a game afternoon (RPG, not video games) and she gave me a list of requested snacks for the party.
 Peanut butter cookies were requested by one of her friends.  I dug out my grandmother's recipe.  Yum!
And what's a role playing game without some brain food:
Yes, we're some of THOSE people who have a brain jell-o mold.
Jell-0, evaporated milk and just the right blend of food coloring
 and into the fridge it goes.  I'll get some more photos tomorrow when it's unmolded and completed with gummi-worms.  The perfect thing for Halloween weekend.
Then, in addition to other cleaning and party planning (I14 is being confirmed this weekend and we'll host a family lunch on Sunday) I spent some time thinking about an apron.
Susan at e-i-e-i-omg! is hosting an "Apron Sew-off"!!  How much fun is that!  I seem to have misplaced my apron during the kitchen remodel and had to can tomatoes this year with a towel pinned around my neck- efficient but definitely NOT stylish.
So, first I pulled out the apron patterns that we have.  Not much to choose from... we've got historical:
and not:
I'm not up for a full length apron- although the pinafore looks lovely it takes 3.5 yards of fabric!
I've got a fabric in mind- one that I picked up with an apron in mind a while ago:
But I've only got 1 yard, 6 inches.  I really liked the fabric and got all they had left on the bolt which wasn't much.  I really love batik and hand dyed fabrics!!
But I"m thinking...  The apron in the middle takes 1.5 yards.  I don't have enough
But, what do you think of my pick from the scrap box to coordinate?
I've got about half a yard of the dark fabric in an odd shape - it's a charcoal gray with orange pinstripes and green viney bits.  I was thinking of doing the center bodice panel, waistband and ruffle out of the dark.  I think it's a plan- it may not work but- it's an apron.  I can't wait to get started. I've got a November 21 deadline!  What a great project to jump start me into sewing again!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I saw something this afternoon that struck me as wrong on so many levels.  While K11 was at band this evening, we stopped at the grocery store for milk.  While walking through the produce department I saw a display of apples.  Crazy apples.  Flavored apples.  Apples that taste like tropical fruit and bubble gum.  EWWWWW.  What is wrong with apple flavored apples?  i understand the hope to get children to eat more fruit but REALLY???  That is just wrong.  And of course, there was the price.  $4.99 for a package of 4 apples!  No, thanks, I'll pass on those.  I'll stick to the local orchard.
I did manage to get to the farmer's market this evening.  I14 had to meet with his confirmation mentor before Sunday so I dropped him off and hit the last half hour of the market.  The last market of the season is on Saturday morning and there were so few vendors left this evening.  But, I did get some good deals, especially showing up at the end of the market at the end of the season.  I spent a total of $12 and got 4 giant butternut squash, a buttercup squash, a long island cheese squash and a HUGE head of organic broccoli.  Since my squash did pretty pitifully this summer I wanted to make sure I had some for the winter since I LOVE cubed, roasted squash over pasta with some parmesan.  Mmmm...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh, No

Say it ain't so.  Mattel is purchasing the parent company for Thomas the Tank Engine.  How sad. I do hope they keep those lovely wooden railroad toys going.  How sad it would be to see those wooden toys go to be replaced by only plastic Barbiefied or Hot wheeled garbage.  sigh.  I know that the plastic Thomas toys are already there but the wooden ones were so great for little hands when the boys were young.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Domestic Tranquility

It was a lovely day to be at home.  Except for some early morning fog, the weather was beautiful.
As much as I usually pack into my days, today seemed rather laid back. Oh, I was busy but I spent most of the day doing domestic things.  Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning and a little outside stuff.
I was doing J17's laundry for her.  She usually does her own but has been so busy recently that she hasn't had time.  So, this morning, after they all left for school, I ventured into her room to retrieve her hamper.  It was a great day for line drying but I still didn't get all of her laundry done.  But, at least she has some clean stuff to wear.  I even got a great big hug from her this afternoon... awwww.....
My stash of green tomatoes is quickly ripening and I made a big batch of sauce that I'll freeze.  It will be so sad when the last one ripens.  No fresh tomatoes for 9 months!  sigh...
V was busy writing most of the day but after lunch we set out on some errands.  Chicken feed was purchased as well as some re-bar and six 80 lb bags of concrete mix for the deck pier.  V was really hoping to get to mixing and pouring that today but he has a deadline coming up for one of his jobs.  Maybe tomorrow- it is still supposed to be warm tomorrow before the bottom falls out of the temps in the next few days.
Not really much to say.  I was busy but not hectic today.  It was awesome.  I even took a little time to read while waiting for laundry and sauce to finish.  Amazing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The last gasp of summer

It was an absolutely beautiful day today!  The last of summer. I guess technically it would be Indian Summer but that isn't a very politically correct term.  Much was accomplished here.
V skipped out of church this morning to work on the retaining wall by the back door.  There is a chance of rain this week and we don't want mud to wash down in front of the door.
The first course of blocks was in, complete with drainage when the children and I got home.
 The white tube you see is the concrete form for a support pier for the deck extension.  It goes down another two feet into the soil.
He made quite a bit of progress today:
 There will be one more course of blocks, then we will pour the concrete pillar and back fill.  We will have another retaining wall on the other side as well.  Each of those blocks weighs 85 lbs so I'm glad he was doing all the lifting!!
J17 and I worked on the chicken coop- cleaning out and replacing bedding.
 Since they have only been in there for a few months I didn't take out all of the bedding since some of it wasn't too bad.  I may regret that come spring.  But at least it has been cleared out under the roost where it REALLY needed it.
 We collected eggs while we worked and got a few more later in the afternoon.  But the poor chickens... we moved the feeder since I didn't like where it had been.  They were totally freaked out and afraid to enter the coop for a while. Silly bird brains.  See, Abbie isn't amused:
 Apple turnovers were baked for afternoon tea on the deck.  Mmmm...
Frozen turnovers from Wilson's Orchard across the road.  Yummy!!  All handmade at the orchard kitchen, baked up fresh in my oven.
I got part of the frost killed garden pulled out.  I did the peppers but the tomatoes will wait for a bit.  They are at that awkward state of being dead where they are floppy and the vines are hard to break.  Probably if I had cleared them while the vines were still crisp they would have been easier- or if I wait until they dry out.  But today they were just too annoying and I was easily frustrated.
For dinner, I cubed and roasted one of my Speckled Hound squash.
I wasn't terribly impressed- but it wasn't a fair taste test.  This was a small one that wasn't fully ripe when picked but the frost killed the vines so I didn't have a choice.  All in all, it wasn't bad roasted with onion, garlic and some fresh sage tossed in at the end, sprinkled with parmesan.  J17 liked it.  Hopefully the bigger ones will be better.
And, finally, this day ended with a glorious sunset.
A fitting end to a beautiful day.
And tomorrow is to be equally beautiful... and I've got the day off.  Mwahahaha...

Just in time for Halloween

V's book!!

Ok, it was released in September, but this is the busy time for promoting it.
He's got an interview on Tuesday afternoon with another newspaper,  a radio interview on Iowa Public Radio on the 31st and will also be doing a reading/signing for the Iowa City High book club after school on Halloween.
It is more history than ghost stories- of course, the publisher is History Press.  He has taken some of the local stories and legends and looks at how history and story intertwine.
And I do believe that photo of the black angel on the cover is one of mine.
And, the author at his book signing last night:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finally done!

What a day!  First, I had to work at the hospital today.  Getting to work on football Saturdays is always an adventure, especially since today was an 11am game and the tailgaters start early.  For those of you unfamiliar to the IC area, the football stadium is across the street from the hospital.  Definitely someone was NOT planning ahead on that one, although the original hospital was probably a block or more away but has grown to be huge over the years.  So, with traffic and pedestrians on football days it always seems to take extra time to get there.  And that's even with V dropping me off a block or so away and me walking in the rest of the way.  The hospital is also on security lockdown to keep rowdy fans out (mainly to keep them from using the restrooms!)  Even leaving can be tricky, depending on the time.
Anyway, I made it home mid afternoon and helped the boys a bit with their outside task that V had set for them.   We had some landscaping block delivered this week and the boys were digging the soil back for setting a new retaining wall beside the back door as well as the hole for the concrete footer for the deck extension.
That job done (well, mostly), we all rushed off to the mall for V's book signing.  He didn't have a line of people there but had people at the table pretty steadily.  My brother stopped by to get his book signed and the pastor of our church was there as well.  The children and I picked out books and used the gift cards we had collected.  We over-shot a bit on our estimate and I ended up having to pay $14 out of pocket.  It's easy to spend $100 on books!  I14 got three new novels (two in a series he's been reading- he got most books since most of the cards were his), K11 got 2 books and J17 and I each picked out one.  I had a hard time picking a book- there were too many choices.  I was looking at some farmstead reference books but didn't see any that thrilled me that I didn't already have.  I don't need another cookbook.  They didn't have any of the herbal references that are on my wish list.  So, I ended up with a novel- a sci-fi/fantasy, end of the world romp with lots of magic and good vs evil stuff:  Darkwar by Glen Cook.  I'm needing some light winter reading so I hope this one is good.  I'm still working on the book I got at the Atlanta airport (Cleopatra) on our way home from Annapolis after I finished the one I had with me (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents).
After all the book store excitement, V, the boys and I went out to dinner- nothing fancy, just the Chili's out by the mall.  Now I remember why we don't do anything like that often- not that the food wasn't good- it just wasn't GREAT.   J17 drove separately since she has a birthday party for one of her friends this evening so didn't come with us.
At least I had K11 help me chase the chickens into the coop before we left so we didn't have to go out in the dark to close them in.  But, I did forget to leave any lights on at home and we came home to a dark house.  Oh well, no harm done.
Now, I'm tired.  I've got a load of laundry going but it may stay in the washer until morning.  We'll see how long I can stay awake.  This working 6 days straight is draining.  Good thing I've still got 2 days off- tomorrow and Monday and I only have to work three days this week.  Sweet!

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Official

The 2011 growing season is over.
We had a killing frost/freeze last night.
I'm OK with it.
I'm ready to be done.
And start dreaming of Spring.......

Thursday, October 20, 2011

If it's not one thing...'s another!  This week just keeps going!!
There were several things I forgot to include in the report of our week's plans.  On Tuesday both J17 and I had doctors appointments for check ups.  She didn't have school on either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday because, as a senior, she doesn't have to take the standardized tests that everyone else does.  So, she had an appointment on Tuesday with the doctor and an eye appointment on Wednesday morning. She managed to break her glasses a bit ago and was due for a new prescription anyway.  Fortunately I was able to get her in quickly when she didn't have to miss school.  So this afternoon, she picked me up from work and we went to order her new glasses.  Whew!  I'm glad this is an expense that doesn't happen every year!!  And she didn't even pick out expensive frames! Yowza!!  A bit of sticker shock!!!  But, she needs them.  She is OK to drive without her glasses- barely- but she really needs to be able to read the road signs.
So,  a few extra things on the to do list for the week.
It felt like we were pulling teeth tonight to get I14 to pick a costume idea for tomorrow.  Since it is the last home football game, the band has a bit of fun.  Instead of their uniforms, they march in costume for half time.  Of course, it's going to be COLD!  I do think he's finally decided on a doctor costume- I've got a lab coat that barely fits him but we've also got a surgical scrub gown that is large enough that he can wear a sweatshirt under so I think he's going to wear that. Add a stethoscope and he's all set... and we've got a couple of those as well.  The funny thing is that, except for the lab coat that I needed for school long ago, all of those things have been scavenged from dumpsters.  So it's a cheap costume.  I like that.
Other than world events, there hasn't been much going on here.  I'll confess, J17 and I did stop at the new Shoe Carnival store after we ordered her glasses and I got some new shoes.  I desperately needed some new sneakers since my 'good' ones have holes in them and paint splotches from when I was painting the garage at our old house.  Time for some new ones- especially since I am going to really try to find some time to do some 'real' exercise to try to drop some weight (doctor's orders!)

This morning while V was taking me to the bus stop we saw a shooting star.  It turns out that it was more likely a part of a satellite that broke up but it was still pretty cool!!  For some reason, it made me hopeful for the day.

Like I said, not much going on.  Today was our open day- so J17 and I filled it.  I think tomorrow evening I'm going to have to make some tomato sauce since all those tomatoes are ripening. And then I work on Saturday...

Oh, and another thing (I just keep going, don't I!!) V was interviewed last week by the local paper (Press Citizen) and that should appear on Saturday.  He will have his book signing at B & N on Saturday afternoon.  And today he got two calls- one from the other local paper (The Gazette)  for an interview... and the one he was most excited about... he's going to be interviewed on Iowa Public Radio!!  I can't remember right now when that is scheduled but it's pretty cool!!  He also has another reading/book signing at City High.  J17 and the teacher in charge of the book club arranged for him to come in on Halloween afternoon to the school for a special event.  Now he just needs to think of a few witty things to write in people's books!!!

The only other noteworthy thing I can think of is that we have a FREEZE warning tonight.  It's supposed to get down into the 20's!!  But, we're ready.  I've got my tomatoes ripening on the counter, the peppers are picked and V installed a new programmable thermostat for the furnace.  Bring it on!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The week is half over!
Several events down, several still to go!
I never should have told him to look like he was enjoying himself AFTER the 90 minute concert!
V and I went this evening to watch I14 and the rest of the band perform at the Bates Field Follies- their end of marching season performance/party.  I'll tell you, they have WAAAY sharper marching uniforms than I ever had when I was in band!!  And this is even without the hat with the sparkly plume!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Polish Linguisa Tomato

Susan made a comment on my last post about my huge Polish Linguisa tomato.  They are a variety that I started growing a few years ago when I was looking to try some new heirloom varieties. I must say that I have been really happy with them. They are large, "sausage shaped" paste tomatoes that make delicious sauce.  They are a bit sweeter than the Amish Paste and have consistently produced better for me in the three years I've grown them.  Definitely my favorite sauce tomato at this point.
Of course, they aren't all as huge as the one I showed yesterday (pictured below in the middle of the top row):
But they are reliable producers and frequently produce 'doubles':
 I don't have any large ones quite ripe yet (I made some sauce on Sunday with all the ripe ones) but even with the small ones you can see how meaty they are.
As an added bonus, I have found them to be pretty resistant to blight.  Two years ago when we got hit with late blight they were the last to be affected and survived with no intervention on my part.  And the poor dears were still blooming out there in the frost.
So, there's my two cents worth.  Definitely an heirloom variety to try if you're looking for something new.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caught unprepared

I was unprepared for frost last night. I knew it was forecast to get into the upper 30's last night but I woke to 34*F!  I hadn't covered anything in the garden.  I knew it was supposed to get into the mid 30's tonight and right around freezing later this week.  I had planned to pick all the tomatoes this evening- which I did- but not until it was almost too late.  At least it was only a light frost that just hit the tips of the plants.  Even so, there were some peppers that were hit by frost that I didn't bother to pick.
Almost every horizontal surface in the kitchen is covered with tomatoes.  I still left quite a few little tomatoes on there, picking the biggest ones.  The Polish Linguisa paste tomatoes outdid themselves this year:
Isn't that HUGE!!  I do hope enough ripen at one time to make some more sauce.
I've also got two pails of peppers that I really need to process.  These I'll probably just split and freeze for stuffing.  I'm going to have to rethink growing cayenne peppers next year.  I always grow one plant and they produce well but I really don't use that many of them.  I don't know, I'll have to think about it.
Now, it will be time to really clean out the garden and start planning for next year....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a standard Sunday

Not much out of the ordinary here today.  It was still too windy to put up the roof panels on the chicken run so they are still open to the sky.  They seem to be doing fine with it- they are flourishing!  We got 8 eggs today for the first time.  There was obviously a new layer since I found a little egg on the floor by the waterer.
Took J17 and I14 off shopping this afternoon.  I14 had grown out of his shoes (again!) and the pants he was wearing today were obviously a bit high water.  So, we got him three pair of jeans and some new sneakers.  J17 wanted to come along since we would be right next to the art/craft store and they are having a sale on her favorite brushes.  While there, I succumbed to an impulse buy:
In their baking section, they were having a clearance of their 'fall' bakeware.  I snagged these two pie plates for $4 each.  They are oven, dishwasher and microwave safe and are much deeper dish than the ones I've got.  And I actually only had two pie plates left due to attrition over the years.  The one that looks orange is actually much more of a reddish/cinnamon color than the photo shows.  We're planning to use these tomorrow night for quiche.  We're trying that again since we never ended up having it last week, even though it was planned.
Which brings me to menu planning.  Got that done as well. Here goes the plan for the week.
Monday- quiche.  We'll eat late since J17 has orchestra so it gives me time to get it prepped.  I14 wants to help- in fact, he brought up the idea of having quiche when we were looking at the pie plates in the store. So, quiche it is!
Tuesday-  hamburgers and sweet potato fries.   J17 has a violin lesson that she leaves for at 7 so she needs to be done eating by then.
Wednesday- Burritos. This is a quick meal solution since I14 has to be back at school no later than 630 for a band concert.  It's kind of cool that they actually do a concert with the marching band.
Thursday- Chicken and rice.  Amazingly, no one has anywhere to go!!
Friday- we'll do ravioli. Our local store has these amazing, frozen, portabella mushroom ravioli that are a quick meal.  Friday will be totally crazy and we probably won't have I14 eating with us (gasp!!).  I don't even think he will be coming home after school.  The band is marching in the UI homecoming parade and they will be bussed to downtown at 4:15.  Immediately after the parade, they will be fed and  then have a home football game.  This will be the first time the freshmen will march at halftime so I14 gets to march.  After the halftime performance the band will have it's end of marching season party at school so he won't be home until late.  Sadly, the poor kid has an orthodontist appointment in the morning so will be doing all this playing with freshly tightened braces.  Ouch!
I don't have a plan yet for Saturday.  I work all day and V has his first book signing event at the local Barnes and Noble store from 4-6.  We still have some B&N gift cards from birthdays and such that haven't used yet so the children will go along and we'll get some new books.  Ooo, I LOVE new books!!  I don't have a card but I'll see if I can muscle in on someone's card.  All combined, we've got $100 of gift cards.  That will get LOTS of new books!!
So, it will be a crazy week here with lots of running around.
We did pick up some granola bars at the store this afternoon so I14 won't starve before he has to march in the parade on Friday.  J17 and I also made a run to the apple orchard just down the road and got a bunch of apples.  I'll have to make sure I get there again before the end of the month since they are only open through October.
I'll probably be harvesting the last of the tomatoes tomorrow evening- ripe or not- and more peppers.  It has definitely cooled off and we're forecast to get into the mid 30's.  That most likely means frost and I'm ready to be done in the garden so I won't be covering anything.  Most of the huge tomatoes that were still out there have ripened so there really isn't much left.  I do need to freeze some halved hot peppers for stuffing over the winter.  Not that there is a shortage of hot peppers.  Those are the one thing that did really well this year. 
I've got to go.  I've got lasagna in the oven so I need to make salads.  Have a great week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A few photos of the day

Inside and outside, it was a lovely day.
J17 and I sorted through patterns and fabric.
I guess it was too much for her!
 Below, Magnus struts his stuff.
I pulled a bunch of nettles for the chickens and also discovered a lost pattypan squash in the garden.  They were clucking around- doing what chickens do.
The lovely hens featured- mostly showing their tales- from left to right: Abbie, River, Zeva and Gretchen.  Helen is in the background
We are still waiting to put the roof panels on the run.    It has just been too windy to put those panels up safely since we got the supports up.  It was also much too windy to have a bonfire.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.
Ticket spent most of the day outside...
 Now he's tired from catching voles.  Or sad because I took his little pile of dead voles away from him... not sure.
And I can't believe how many leaves have fallen!
It looks like Fall is truly here!

A Beautiful Saturday

It is an absolutely gorgeous day today.  Cool and breezy- just like October should be.  We were hoping to build a bonfire outside and cook over an open fire today but I'm worried that it may be too windy.  At least we had 2.5 inches of rain in the past few days so we don't have to worry about the fire risk of the last few weeks.
It was so lovely this morning.  There I was- out in the garden, picking late summer tomatoes, midmorning coffee in hand, Magnus crowing, hens clucking around, Ticket snuffling in the weeds by the barn (vole hunting)- and it hit me once again how much I really love all of this.  J17 and I laugh with each other on occasion that we were born in the wrong era.  Maybe it's not the era- just that we need to build the life we want, regardless of era.
I took eggs to work yesterday for the three co-workers who were there.  It was fun to see how excited they were about it all.  I've already got two of the three who want to work out a more regular (think $) arrangement for eggs. One of my co-workers doesn't think she has even had a fresh egg in her life and was surprised to learn that eggs are actually somewhat seasonal, since I warned her that we likely won't get as many in the dark days of winter.  So, I was able to do a little 'foodie/locavore' education.  She told me that she was going to serve some of the eggs (I gave her 6) for breakfast this weekend as her boyfriend is coming from Chicago for the weekend.  I encouraged her to take him to the farmer's market to pick up some local bacon to go with them and told her which was my favorite producer there (We've nicknamed her 'the bacon lady' even though she sells much more than just bacon!)  I'll have to check back in next week to see how it went for her.
Now, I've got to get going. I've wasted enough time here this morning.
Have a fabulous weekend!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ordinary Miracles

The song "Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLachlan came up on shuffle on my ipod this afternoon and I was inspired...
Still a bit rough but you get the idea.
  Hope you enjoy.  Think of it as a little gift to you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday wonders

Well, not that many wonders...  except that it is raining.  Right about dinner time the sky opened, the lightning crashed and the thunder boomed.  It really poured for a while.  I'll have to check the rain gauge but we got a quite a bit of rain.  Good thing, because we really needed it. Now it has settled into a gentle rain.  Hopefully it will continue for a while.
I've got tomato sauce simmering on the stove and J17 is baking cookies.  It's a great night for settling in.  I'm doing something I rarely do and I'm watching TV.  Ghost Hunters- a true indulgence!
In the more unusual events of the day, I got a summons for Jury Duty in November.  Yee Ha.  I'm thrilled... hear my shout of joy.  Hopefully I won't have to actually report.  Especially since the day I would have to report is one of my days off and I've got an eye appointment scheduled.  figures.
Mmmm... J17 just brought me a cookie... mmmm.... snickerdoodles.....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not much Tuesday

Not much going on today.  I was back at work and V continued to work on the chicken run.  It's about ready for the roofing panels to go on.  Working alone he didn't get as much done as we could have together.   Oh well, the price of being a working woman.  But the chickens are enjoying the bigger run even without a roof.
Dinner plans went off without a hitch.  I love preparing things ahead! Dinner was prepped and on the table in half an hour.  It went like this:  Frozen french fries into the oven (yeah, I know... frozen french fries... at least they don't have lots of garbage in them) then I worked to shred a small red cabbage from the garden and make coleslaw.  That made and in the fridge I heated up the shredded pork and added in the BBQ sauce.  The sauce we love is a locally made one that is sweet and spicy and oh, so tasty.   I've got an equal amount of pre-shredded pork in the freezer for another meal later.
But I've got a confession to make- I didn't get around to making tomato sauce yet.  I didn't have quite as many ripe tomatoes as I had hoped.  But I'll still have time to do it tomorrow night after dinner when I've got more tomatoes.  So no great tragedy.
Still, not much going on... and that's OK by me.  Sometimes boring is just fine.  This is actually a slow week and it's welcome.  I'll have to take advantage of it while I can- next week looks crazy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eating well in the age of busy

I've had comments and questions from people, both online and IRL about how I manage to cook every night and how we manage to have sit down meals with me working outside the home and children involved in activities after school and evenings.
Let me tell you, it used to be crazy and we ended up eating not very well, especially a few years ago when V was working outside the house.  Then, I got smart and realized that I needed to be more organized if we were going to eat well.  There is nothing worse than coming home after a long day at work, knowing that you need to be somewhere in an hour and a half, and trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  So, I started meal planning.  With a bit of planning ahead, I can maintain my sanity and we can still eat well.
I started with a dry erase board on the fridge.  All these years later, we still have the same board.
I usually take a few minutes on Sunday afternoon to come up with the meal plans for the week.  At that point I've got a good idea of after school/evening activities and also an idea of what the weather will be like.  The dry erase board also has a section for 'other notes' so I can write reminders if I need to do things like soak beans or do some make ahead preps.
Here's the plan for the week, with explanations:
Monday- the plan for dinner tonight is grilled turkey tenderloins, pasta with pesto and salad.  I try to do meatless Mondays but I'm taking advantage of the last day of forecast lovely weather and we're going to grill.  I've also got the day off today so I can do some make ahead prep for the rest of the week.  This evening, J17 has orchestra rehearsal.  She leaves at 5:15 and gets home around 7pm.  I usually plan to be ready to put the meal on the table when she gets home.
Tuesday- we're having pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and probably french fries.  J17 has a violin lesson at 7:15 so she has to leave shortly after 7 to get there.  I get home from work at 5 so that leaves me less than 2 hours to do chores and get everyone fed. Here is where the planning ahead comes in.  I'm cooking a pork loin roast in the crockpot today (Monday) while I'm off and will pull it and add BBQ sauce.  It will make a meal for Tuesday and one for the freezer for later.  All I have to do is heat it up.
Wednesday- K11 has band rehearsal after school so we all get home a little after 5 but amazingly enough, no one has to go anywhere else that evening.  So, we'll have our meatless meal today. I'm planning to make quiche.  I managed to harvest some broccoli from the garden today that will go into the quiche along with some cheese and our own eggs.  Wednesdays is also the day I do my grocery shopping.  The sale ads come out on Wednesday.  V picks me up from work after he drops K11 off at rehearsal and we've got an hour before rehearsal is over so it's conducive to grocery shopping.  I get the ad emailed to me so I can spend time over lunch doing some planning.
Thursday will be spaghetti and salads. In another planning ahead for the week, I'll also be making up some marinara sauce today while I'm home and puttering around the kitchen. I can use some fresh tomatoes from the garden.  By cooking it ahead it will be ready on Thursday evening and will just need heated up.  I may or may not add in some italian sausage- we'll see how I feel on Thursday.  And again- no one has anywhere to go!
Friday- The meal plan calls for beef and veggies. I'll take a beef roast out of the freezer on Thursday evening and put it the big cast iron dutch oven in the oven (it's one of those enameled ones- NOT a Le Creuset on my budget!).  I'll let it cook for a while while I do other chores and then add in some root veggies and cook for a while longer.  It's one of those easy meals that I can throw together while doing other things and I don't really have to think about it much.  I'll probably mix up some beer bread to bake alongside it in the oven and it's a complete meal.  This week we don't have plans but often on Fridays I14 has to play in the band at football games.  Again, we usually eat late as he's home between 7:30 and 8.  But that's ok because on a Friday night, we don't have to get to bed early to get up early.
Saturday and Sunday we plan as we go but they're not usually as busy.  That also allows us some flexibility.
I'll try to remember to do another Meal Plan Monday posts in the coming weeks.

UPDATE!!  This menu plan isn't set in stone.  There is already a modification in the works. Wednesday night's meal will now be jambalaya.  We've got quite a bit of left over turkey from this evening and a couple bits of other stuff (a left over grilled brat from Sunday night, etc).  Jambalaya is my 'catch all' meal for left over bits of meat.  Whatever is lying around goes in- otherwise it tends to not get used.  So.... quiche is out.   But, since I still want to have my meatless meal this week, we'll have cheese tortellini with marinara sauce on Thursday instead of spaghetti with meat sauce.  See, it all works out.  I'll just have to plan something else to use eggs!!  We're getting an average of 6 per day! Hmmm, maybe we could have quiche on Friday...... I'll have to think about that.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Soaking up the sun!

It was another wonderful sunny, warm day today.  The perfect day for working outside.  I managed to spend some time clearing out the South end of the garden.  But mostly, we worked on the chicken run today.  Finally!  This has been a project that has been weighing on my mind recently, especially as the temporary run that I built earlier this year has been slowly disintegrating.
We had managed to get the repurpose fence posts set a while ago, and the top plate installed.  So, today, we installed the fencing.
We are so fortunate that V's brother gifted him with an air compressor and nail/staple gun set when he was here for V's birthday.  It made short work of stapling fencing to the posts:
 J17 helped with the chicken run while the boys were occupied elsewhere with jobs of their own (outside of course!)
 After we installed the chicken wire, we reinforced it with repurposed livestock panels from when we took down a bunch of fencing last fall.  They made the prefect support/protection for the run.
After the fencing was installed,we worked on framing for the door.  Of all the things we moved with us from our house in town, we, for some reason, brought with us, the gate from the chain link dog run that we dismantled while we were there.  It made the prefect door for the chicken run!  So far, the majority of the items used are repurposed.  
Below is Magnus looking after his girls after we removed the old temporary fencing and they were allowed to explore the new, expanded area:
 Isn't he beautiful!?  He's HUGE!
Amazingly enough, with all the ruckus going on and all the possible 'threats', he was a peach today with no aggression.
Tomorrow, the children are back in school but I've got the day off.  V and I are planning to put up the roof (covering about a third of the run) and netting over the top.  We noticed several hawks and a big owl cruising around this evening so we're looking at putting fencing over the top of the run that isn't roofed. 
I'm excited to get this task crossed off the master 'to do' list. It has been weighing on my mind for a while.
This evening, we ate dinner outside on the deck because it was so lovely. After dinner, V and I sat outside and discussed future plans and construction ideas.  Sort of a question/answer and brainstorming session.  Many future projects are 'in the works'.  Stay tuned for future adventures!
Also on tomorrow's 'to do' list is baking muffins.  I volunteered for snacks for K11's class for ITBS week and I'm to supply snacks for 26 students on Tuesday.  I figure apple/oatmeal muffins and apple cider should make a great, nutritious snack.
More tomorrow on the chicken run progress.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Like Summer in Fall

It was HOT today!  At least hot for October.  It hit the mid 80's here today.  A bit too windy for working up on ladders hanging gutters so other things took precedence.  But we weren't all work and no play!
With the new x-box, we have new capabilities.  Networking!
K11 was upstairs
playing head to head games with I14 who was downstairs.
The headsets allow them to talk to each other.  Too much fun!
Mostly, I worked on household maintenance stuff- laundry, dishes, etc.  Let me tell you, with the warm, dry wind today, things dried quickly on the line.  Mmmm... line dried sheets!  But J17 and I did have a little fun!  I had some errands to run so she came along.  We stopped back at the fabric shop and she turned in her application.  Hopefully they will call her.  And while we were there- of course we looked around since it was the Columbus Day sale event.  They had Simplicity patterns on sale for  99 cents each! What a deal since they are often $12-15.  So at that price we had to pick some up.  I got 4 patterns for myself and J17 picked out a few as well.  The fun thing is that with the multi-sized patterns we can each use each others if we choose.  I haven't purchased new clothing patterns for myself for years so I'm excited about this!  I also picked out some lovely dark olive green linen for a pair of dress pants (fortunately we had a 50% off coupon since it wasn't on sale- man, fabric can be expensive!!).  J17 got some soft, pale blue fabric for a nightgown that she wants to make.
Now I'm really excited to get sewing.  I picked out a lovely skirt pattern that I want to use with some fabric I got last weekend. Yes, I bought fabric without having a pattern in mind- so what- I really liked it! Tell me you've never done the same thing!!
Since I got lots of the maintenance things done today, I hope to do more 'fun' productive things in the next two days.  The weather is supposed to be continuing hot and clear and we've already warned the boys that tomorrow is a technology free day (no computers or x-box) since they need to get outside and enjoy the weather while it lasts.
More tomorrow....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekend, glorious weekend

It's Friday night and I'm looking down the barrel of a three day weekend.  Unseasonably warm weather is forecast with highs in the low 80's all weekend and sunny skies.  Ah, heavenly....
And no one has any obligations this weekend- unheard of.
It should be fun!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Busy living life

It's been a bit hectic around here.  Life!  We're living it to the fullest.  Working outside in this glorious weather, work at the hospital for me, parent teacher conferences last night (I14's grades leave something to be desired!), spending quality time together as a family. All these things, and more, are occupying my time.
Collecting eggs:
Seven eggs today!  My collecting basket is an old one that I got from my grandmother when I was younger.  It was a little Easter basket that once had my name on it in glitter glue.  The glitter glue is long gone but the basket, cushioned in the bottom with a bit of an old towel, is the perfect size for collecting eggs. They are colorful enough to look like Easter eggs!
Enjoying the last flowers of summer:
and the turning leaves:
After tomorrow, I've got another three day weekend.  The weather has been fabulous- around 80, sunny and clear.  Saturday we're hoping to put up the gutters on the shop.  These need to be in place  before we can finish the chicken run (or we won't be able to reach the eaves).  So we'll keep working on it. I've got some more tomatoes ripening in the garden- probably not enough to can, but maybe some to freeze.
So much to do, so little time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Three years and I'm still here

Today is my three year blogiversary.  Amazing that I've been at this for three years now. My first post was October 3, 2008.  How far we've come in that time. 
And, yes, I'm still here.  Visiting with grieving friends yesterday kind of took it out of me.  But, a few photos of the weekend.  
First, my beautiful daughter!!
 J17 ready for the Homecoming  Dance on Saturday night.
We went off Sunday afternoon (before funeral) to the fabric shop and she picked up her pattern and fabric for her prom dress.  Yup, she's going to make her dress again.  And she picked up a job application since they're hiring.  She's hoping they can make an exception to the over 18 rule they state on the application.  I even picked out some fabric and two new patterns for myself.  I'm really planning to spend some time sewing once the weather turns this year.
Speaking of weather turning- this is the view from the deck:
 The leaves are really changing.  Of course, the frost we had both Saturday and Sunday mornings helped.  I covered a few things in the garden but most of the peppers and tomatoes fared for themselves.   The peppers that weren't covered took a hit but the tomatoes don't look too bad.  Of course, the ones with lots of huge green tomatoes got covered.
I tried my hand at soap making again this weekend.  Well, kind of... I still had some goat milk soap base left over so this was the melt and pour stuff.
 The yellow is an herbal blend with calendula petals.  The blue is lavender vanilla.
Lastly... Recognize this girl?
She was merely the precursor.  Today, the south side of the house is crawling with boxelder bugs.  No asian ladybugs yet but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

So, happy blogiversary to me.  I'm saving a giveaway for 1000 posts.  But I've got a while yet so you're safe! 
Have a great week.