Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I probably shouldn't ruin my chances

For those of you on Facebook.  Meyer Hatchery is having a giveaway.  3 blue chicks: a blue Ameraucana, a Blue Orpington and a Blue Copper Maran.  Set for delivery the week of June 4.  Not that I NEED more chickens... but you never know.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Photos from the day

A few photos of the morning to brighten your day.
 The Red Emperor Tulips are putting on quite the display.
 A lonely daffodil.  They don't seem to be multiplying very fast.
 A flat of beauty yet-to-come
 Syrphid Fly larvae!  I've been struggling with aphids on the spinach in the greenhouse and, since the weather has warmed up and it's HOT in there, the spinach has started to bolt.  I was going to pull it when I discovered dozens and dozens of syrphid larvae (Hover Flies) devouring the aphids.  Woo Hoo for beneficial insects!!  I've decided to leave it go for a while to give them time to develop.
 River is hopeful for a snack
The ladies line up, hoping I'll toss them some tasty treats.  They love their clover!

And now, the chicken coop awaits.  Off to more fun!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring = busy

Whew!  I'm tired.  It was a gorgeous day today.  Mostly sunny and mid to upper 60's- so I spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy things today.
I15 and I made a run to the garden center this morning.  They were having a special promotion that 5% of your purchase would go to the City High Band.  I was forced, forced I tell you to go spend money at the garden center. Actually, I didn't get all that much,  I picked up a mixed flat of annuals, a couple of wave petunias and 8 bags of mulch.  On the way home we stopped to get gas for the tiller and the mower.
I got as much of the garden tilled as I'm going to.  I've decided to not till the South end of the garden as it still has a lovely layer of straw mulch from last year that I'll plant among and add to.  I'm hoping to shift to no-till so we'll see how this goes.
V got the riding mower unearthed from where it had been buried in construction debris last year since it was so dry that we didn't have to mow at all. He mowed most of the lawn and then I did the trim mowing with the push mower.  The excitement of the afternoon was the unseen/unknown mouse nest in the push mower motor catching fire.  Of course, there would have to be a fire just after I had filled the gas tank!  Fortunately, I was able to find a stick and poke most of the nest material out before it caused any damage.  V then disassembled the mower casing and we removed the rest of the mess.  *&^# mice!
Tomorrow is another busy day.  K13 and I are slated to clean out the bedding in the chicken coop.  Oh, the fun we have.  V and I15 will work on 'gravel reclamation' to rake the gravel out of the lawn and back into the driveway.  It has a tendency to migrate with snow removal in the winter.  I'm also hoping to get my broccoli, cauliflower and other early brassicas planted out into the garden.
I've got Monday off as a vacation day.  I realized that I'm maxed on my vacation time at work again and would lose time if I didn't take a day before the end of the month.  At least Mondays are fairly easy days for someone else to cover for me.  The weather is forecast for thunderstorms so I'm hoping to have a sewing day but we'll see what happens.
I'm going to be focusing on the flower gardens this spring as well as the main veggie garden.  We're hosting a Victorian/Steampunk Garden Party in late June so I want the outside spaces to look fabulous. Yes, we will play croquet and have tea and cucumber sandwiches.  It will be amazing.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Late, but at least not never

Sunday we had family game night.  We played a new game: Kill Doctor Lucky.  It's kind of like Clue in reverse.  You have to get a weapon, get in a room alone with the good Doctor and bump him off.  The catch, the other players will try to stop you.
We had a grand time,

and the guys all donned their game hats.
V's brother said this photo reminded him of the Dogs Playing Poker paintings.  Possibly.  But I think it's a great thing when the boys ask if we're going to have game night again soon.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nettle Pasta Recipe- per request

This is a repost from last year with a few tweaks.

This morning, I geared up and headed out to harvest:

 I had to wear gloves because I was cooking with fire!
Stinging Nettles to be precise!   
I harvested my bowl of nettles (sorry, I didn't measure but there really weren't that many, maybe 15 or so 4 inch clippings.) they were then blanched and cooled.  To preserve the color, I plunged them immediately into ice water.

 The basic recipe:
2 1/4 cups flour (I used a mix of semolina and all purpose)
approximately 1/3 cup cooked nettles
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Put the nettles into the blender with the water, olive oil and salt and give it a whirl.  The stems are a bit fibrous so make sure they are well blended or it is hard to separate your noodles later. 
You can add the eggs into the blender at the last minute or you can put them in separately, it doesn't really matter.  

Put the wet ingredients into a well in the dry ingredients and slowly mix the dry into the wet with a fork.  As it gets firmer, use your hands.  Knead it until it becomes smooth and silky, adding additional flour as necessary.
Cover it (either wrap in plastic or cover with an oiled bowl) for 20 minutes. Then cut into pieces, roll thin and cut into noodles.
 I dry mine on an old flour sack towel draped over a wooden clothes rack.
At this point, you can either dry them completely for storage, dry them partially for freezing or cook them fresh.  I let mine dry until I was ready to make dinner.

Last night's dinner:  Fresh nettle fettucini with chicken and alfredo sauce.  That and a side salad of lettuce and spinach from the greenhouse was a perfect spring meal. 

I love it when the boys are excited about eating weeds!  I even contacted my nephew, the chef, and asked him if he wanted to do a chef's special of nettle pasta at the restaurant.  Of course, he would need LOTS of nettles.  But, we happen to have LOTS of nettles. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring means...


And nettles mean...
Tonight's menu:  Chicken alfredo with fresh nettle pasta and side salads from the greenhouse.  Mmm!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I guess the drought is over here

It has rained.  And it has rained some more.  And yet still more!  We were officially out of drought conditions a week or so ago but today has definitely put us over the edge.  I do wish I had deployed my rain gauge already because I'm guessing that we're at about 3 inches so far.
I was at work, but V took some amazing photos this morning right after a particularly heavy downpour.
Our little, foot wide, a few inches deep creek has taken over the valley!  Some of the water near the road is probably at least 3 feet deep.
Both bridges are underwater... well, one is mired in debris and the other has floated downstream again. At least V had the presence of mind this morning to go tie it to a tree with a rope so we don't have to track it 3/4 of a mile downstream like we've done in the past.  And I can see that my running path is probably a bit squishy.
Even getting home was an adventure.  There was water lapping at the edge of the highway not far to the South of us, where it crosses Rapid Creek.  There were acres and acres of land underwater.
It is supposed to keep raining for the next few days.  Well, there goes my hope of getting any garden in any time soon.  Oh well, I'll just have to content myself with my seedlings inside.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Still kicking!

Long time, no post.

Things have been a bit busy around here and blogging has taken a back burner.  But life is still rolling along here at Troll Bridge Acres.  Here's a quick update.
On the garden front: I've got lots of little seedlings up!  But I'm having germination problems with some of my peppers.  Seed that I just got last year so should still be good is having terrible germination this year.   I'm also struggling with aphids that have migrated from one of the houseplants onto my seedlings.  Grr!  I thought we had them under control on the houseplants but I guess not.   I was hoping to till at least part of the garden but it has been rainy here lately so it is still too wet. Maybe later this afternoon... we only got a little shower this morning and it is sunny and windy this afternoon.  But I'm not holding my breath- I was out a little bit ago and it's still pretty squishy.  But, I'm not complaining about the rain- we're finally out of drought conditions!!  I15 helped me clear off flower beds last weekend and we planted a wisteria vine to climb up the pergola on the deck- something a bit more permanent than the morning glories.
On the work front (paid job): Today is my one day off after a 6 day stretch.  It has been a really, really long week and I'm dealing with a pretty tough patient group right now so it has been really sapping my energy.  I've got 4 days to work and then I get a 4 day weekend with the alignment of my Friday comp day for working Saturday and my usual every-other Monday off.  I can't wait!
Chickens: The big girls are finally back into the swing of things and we're getting 6  or more eggs/day.  I'm going to have to see if I can sell a few at work since the fridge is quickly filling up!  The little girls are growing quickly and are at that awkward 'teenage' stage.  But they are healthy and appear happy.  I came down this morning to find them all snuggled up roosting on the stick I put in there for them.  I did change the wood chip bedding I had in the kennel for them.  The downstairs bath was getting a bit stinky!
Sewing: ugh.  I haven't had much time to spend at the machine.  I've got a blouse that I started weeks ago that still isn't finished.  I don't have much left to do but just can't seem to get it done.  I've got a jacket for I15 cut out and ready to start.  Next weekend I'm hoping to spend some quality time in the sewing room.  I've also got to do another baby quilt for work.  One of the social workers I work closely with is expecting in August.  I had hoped to have my business website up and running in April but I'm rapidly losing the month.
Zombie training:  I was doing really, really well until I slipped on wet grass and twisted my knee last weekend.  It hasn't so much been painful as much as it just feels unstable and like it wants to hyperextend when I run. It is getting better but I've taken the week off running because I don't want to injure it further and REALLY do some damage.  But, I'm registered for a 5K run/walk next Sunday afternoon, the Rehab Run, sponsored by the Physical Therapy department at the University.  Even if I have to walk it I'm going to do it.  And Justine and I are going to do the Mud Run in June and our big race is in July.    I'd really like to do the Color Run but our most local race is the same weekend as Run for Your Lives.   Oh well, maybe next year.
Family:  V has been busy writing so house stuff has slowed down.  But, he's continued to put up more ceilings in the basement on his off days.  It is so nice to be doing 'finishing' stuff!  Now that it is starting to warm up, I'll probably be doing some painting as well soon.  I think I'm going to be going through LOTS of primer in the basement.  The boys are charging along through the school year and Justine will be finished with her first year of college in mid May.  Hard to believe that it's just over a month away.  Wow! Where has time gone.

Well, now that I've wasted some time here, I've still got lots on my to-do list for today that I've been avoiding.  Back to work, although I'd really much rather just sit and enjoy the weather....

I'll try to work through my blog reading backlog sometime soon and will really try to post more often.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


We managed to pull off a surprise party for Mom's 82nd birthday today.  It was awesome.  One sister drove in from Colorado and they had the hard part:  how to get my parents to my brother's home 70 miles away.  They succeeded. I took the day off so I picked up my other sister from the airport this afternoon, prepared food and we all met together at my brother's house.  He recently had knee surgery and isn't traveling very well yet so it was easier for him to host even though I was cooking.
It was a glorious success.  The look on Mom's face when she realized all of us were there was absolutely priceless. We see each other but it seems difficult to get us all in the same place at the same time.
Here's the whole gang!  A grand time was had by all!

Monday, April 1, 2013

RIP Marilyn

After a great day Saturday when Marilyn was eating well, active and running to be fed when she heard the door open, Sunday morning she refused to eat.  She continued to not eat much, if anything, all day and by evening she was looking pretty weak.  So, I was not terribly surprised to find that she had died in the night.  We believe that there was more wrong with her than just her vision as she seemed to have some GI issues as well.

We gave it a good try and had her with us for just over a week but it was not to be.

But, the upside (I'm trying to put the positive spin on it) - chick care will now be MUCH less time consuming and maybe I'll be able to get things accomplished again.  It seems like the last week she has been taking lots of my time.