Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011!

We're counting down the last few hours of 2010.  A new year is just around the corner.  I hope that for all of us that 2011 is:
and, last but not least
Full of LOVE

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How did I do?

 I promised a goal update for my 2010 goal list.  Some things I did well, others- not so much.
But, here goes:

Home/house goals:
  • Sand North wall in the kitchen and paint--  Not done- but we are planning to do the whole kitchen remodel in March- we'll do all the mess at once!
  • Finish kitchen island-- see above
  • Finish work on upstairs bathroom-- Not done (sigh....)
  • Plan and begin construction on deck-- DONE- phase one is complete, we'll continue next summer
  • Sort closet and donate clothes to Goodwill-  DONE
  • SELL HOUSE IN TOWN!!!-- DONE, DONE and DONE!!!!!  Can it really be just this year that we sold it?  Wow....
  • Replace septic system --DONE
Garden/land goals:
  • Complete raised beds -- One done for the strawberries
  • Construct herb spiral-- Not Done- the septic didn't get done in time for this.
  • Draw master permaculture plan- Ongoing
  • Plant apple trees- DONE and a pear tree
  • Plant apricot and/or cherry trees-- DONE- well. actually, bush apricots and cherries
  • Replant strawberries into raised bed--  DONE
  • Add another blueberry bush or two-- DONE
  • Remove fence between yard and meadow-- DONE
  • Build three bin compost pile-  Not done
Personal goals:
  • Once again, get in better shape.-- NOPE- I just recently started really giving this some attention
  • Learn a new skill or two. OK, I'll confess- this is the knitting goal again- NOPE- I didn't make the time for knitting- but I did learn lots of other skills.
  • Complete CEUs. - DONE- my license for the state is done but I have National certification to renew in January.
  • Spend more quality time with V. --Actually, we did pretty well.
Food production/security:  At least 2 local meals a week.-- We didn't do too bad at this one-  It was easier in the summer but with more local meat in the freezer makes it easier.  I need to be more conscious of making meals more local but probably some portion of just about every meal is local.
Try our hand at making wine.--This one wasn't a firm goal- good thing because it didn't happen.  
The three R's: I want to continue to repurpose and recycle as much as we can.-- Yup, we are still being quite frugal and try to be responsible in our purchases.
I also had a goal to complete one quilt- yeah, that didn't happen this year.  Oh well, it gives me something to aspire to for next year.

We were extremely busy this year and there were many, many more things we got done this year that weren't actual goals.  The basement is nearly finished- part of the reason the upstairs didn't get done.  The upstairs, while not completely finished, is livable while the basement wasn't.  So, I think that counts.  All in all, not a bad year.
Now to put on my thinking cap for next year.  Hmmm... Kitchen plans are definitely on the table...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm still here

Just been busy.  Wrapping up the end of the year.  I guess I'll have to go over all of my goals for 2010 some time soon.  I know there are some I met and some I didn't, some that have been put on hold or altered in some way.  Maybe tomorrow or Friday.  I've got Friday off for the new year's holiday.
My other excuse for not posting here is that I've started a new blog. This one is closed to everyone for now but I may eventually open it to selected readers.  Right now it is sort of a personal log.  Let me explain....
I have spent the past few days feeling rather pathetic.  I know I'm overweight and out of shape. my blood pressure is up and I need to do something different with my life and health- I've known this for a while.  So, for Christmas, I asked, and V got me, an elliptical machine (AKA the torture device).  I was appalled at how out of shape I was and how hard it was for me to do even a few minutes. So, I have begun, in earnest to make some changes in my life, weight and health.  Hence the new blog to use as a record that I can go back to and see where I've been.  I will eventually need some cheerleaders (otherwise known as people to keep me accountable).  I've already found one.  C, a therapist who works for us occasionally when she is on break from her university teaching position, is also wanting to make some changes in her life.  So, last night we had a workout challenge.  We're hoping to keep it up even when she goes back to her real job.
So, this week I've been working, doing the usual household tasks and embarrassing myself with my 'out-of-shapeness'.
On a brighter note- the seed catalogues have been coming in fast and furious.  Too... many... choices... not... enough...time.....
And, after talking to my immediate supervisor, I have to write a proposal about wanting to go to 90%.  I have to detail how I see this working and the impact it will have on patient care.  I've got the option to do half a day every week or a full day every other week.  While time every week would be nice, I'm leaning to the every other week option simply because of travel time to and from work.  With the bus trips, I spend probably an hour and a half commuting every day.  And, I'm thinking that with a full day off, I would be more likely to be able to get larger projects accomplished.  Still, I would LOVE to go to 80% but I know that financially that would never work with as tenuous as V's work situation is.  Freelancing is definitely NOT that profitable- at least not when he's just establishing himself out there...  And, we have to remember that J16 will be a senior in high school next year and is beginning to look at colleges.  sigh....  I'm going to be working until I drop.
Again, I'll try to post a goal update later this week, and I need to start thinking about my goals for 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Images of Christmas 2010

A few images from the past few days...
V baking!?
Christmas Eve is the one day of the year that he bakes.
Mmm, Sacher torte
Chocolate and almonds, how can he go wrong.
Santa has arrived
The kitties inspect the packages.
One of my gifts.
I've got bees in my bonnet for spring....
And the children were nestled all snug in their ????!!!
Yes, they were initially horrified but then decided that they are warm and comfy.
Matching Zebra!!
And remember all those big boxes I got for V?
Here they are, all unpacked and assembled:
He's already got it filled.

I hope you all had a splendid day- if you celebrate Christmas- and even if you don't!

We had 7 or 8 inches of new snow here so it was nice to hang out at home in our jammies all day. Today we will go to see my parents on the farm.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours
Merry Christmas!

Blessings and abundance to you and yours.

We don't need to dream of a White Christmas
It's here!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For your amusement

V had a short piece published in the paper this morning. Totally silly.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter begins

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone. Now the days will begin to get longer. I, for one, can't wait! Today I arrived at work in the dark and left in the dark. Ugh.
I was disappointed last night that it was too cloudy to see the moon. Actually, it's probably a good thing because I would have been up in the middle of the night to see the eclipse and I was really tired already. It's a good thing I was able to sleep because today was an incredibly busy day. It seems that the doctors suddenly realized that "THE HOLIDAYS" are fast approaching and wanted evaluations on lots of people to see if they are safe enough to go home. They are discharging people left and right and only the sickest of the sick will be left soon. But, the good news is that I don't have to work the holiday weekend and after tomorrow I will have a 4 day weekend. Woo Hoo!
The children had their last day of school today before winter break. They now have two weeks off. It must be nice. Maybe I need to go work for the school system so I can have my breaks and summer off. Hmmmm...... But, no, I like my job too much - even though I am thinking of cutting my work hours a bit for my own sanity.
Nothing much else to report here. Life has been pretty boring. One of J16's friends came over last evening and they baked some cookies to take to school today. They had fun. That is about the most excitement the past two days. I'm hoping for a dull day at work tomorrow. I ended up staying late this evening to finish an evaluation on a patient so I get to leave early tomorrow to make up for it- assuming we're not to busy. As professional staff, we are given the liberty to "flex" our hours for best patient care. We have the freedom to stay late if work demands it and to use that comp time to leave early when possible. Unfortunately, I know all too well that it usually only "flexes" one way. But, my co-workers knew that I was staying late so they will be sure to try to get me out early. A little early start on the holiday would be welcome.
Have a wonderful Winter, now that it is really here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cookies and a full day

It has been a busy, busy weekend here. Saturday afternoon J16 and I finally made a trip to Kalona to the Stringtown Grocery and the Twin County Dairy cheese house. Mmmmm.....
Now I've got whole wheat flour and oatmeal. Yeah!!
I spent the evening baking. First, one of V's favorites:
Biscotti. Yummy- and no added fat except the almonds.
Then peppermint kisses.
Last year, after the holidays, I stocked up on the peppermint kisses when they were on deep discount and tucked them in the fridge drawer. Popped on top of chocolate drop cookies they are an upscale version of peanutbutter blossoms. The recipe made LOTS- probably 5 dozen. So I took a few dozen to church this morning for the soup luncheon that capped the day's festivities.
This was the big day for the children at church.
K10 was a shepherd. See him adoring the baby?!
LOL! They passed the baby Jesus down the line so everyone could see him.
Even the sheep! They have these great sheep costumes that consist of a white stocking hat with ears sewn on. The preschoolers are all the sheep and get herded in to sing. It's too cute.
I10 was a reader for the program but mostly played in the band.
He had to be there at 7:30 this morning and played at both services. My parents came up for the Christmas program and stayed for the second service and lunch. Dad actually had tears in his eyes following the band playing the postlude. I did shoot some video but the file is too big for Blogger to upload. Sorry, you'll just have to imagine how good they sounded.
J16 sang in the high school choir- a version of the Magnificat. They sounded great- and again the file was too large. Ugh. Too bad Blogger has such a small file size for video.
Then was the soup luncheon. This is one of the high school fundraisers. They are working for the next trip to the national youth convention in 2012.
Now here's something you don't see everyday:
A whole bunch of high school students willingly washing dishes!
We ended up not going caroling- that we usually do. Partly because it had already been a long day and partly because my parents were in town. We did our gift exchange with them this afternoon so that's done if the weather turns bad later in the week. Mom got me another over the sink strainer. She was a bit worried because I already have one. But I can think of times when I would have loved to have another.
I've got three days of work this week. The children have 2 more days of school and then are off for two weeks for winter break.
We've got menus planned for the week. Solstice in on Tuesday and Christmas coming up quickly. I found out that our church is serving lunch at the Free Lunch program on Friday the 24th. We didn't make it on the day after Thanksgiving. I'll have to ask the children if they want to go. They actually have enjoyed it when we have done it in the past and it is a good eye opener for them. We'll see.
Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


While the children were in rehearsals for tomorrow I helped wrap gifts at our church. Every year we have an Angel Tree for families in need. I have been involved with this, in some form, for years. This year, our congregation provided gifts for 52 individuals in, I think, 10 family groups. For these gifts, the parent, or head of the family, gives suggestions for gifts (ideas, sizes, etc). I was wrapping the gifts for the largest family group we had which was a grandmother, her daughter and the daughter's 6 children (ages 16 to 2). While this event usually brings good thoughts and warm feelings, this year it left me quite disheartened. Definitely a sign of the times, parents asked for many more practical gifts for their children this year. Where I usually wrap toys and games, this year there were requests for socks, a new coat, flannel pajamas and children's clothes. All the wrappers this year commented on this and it seemed to make all of us a bit sad.
How sad that the economy is so bad that parents who can't afford gifts for their children are desperate enough to ask for socks and underwear.
How disheartening for a four year old to get only one toy and the rest clothes.
How disappointing for 16 year old twin boys to get socks and pajamas for Christmas.
How sad that a mother, instead of asking for something for herself, requests a gift card to the local grocery store.
These are, indeed, the dark days of winter....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Homemade sugar scrub

Ooo, two posts in one day. What is the world coming to! I did get a lot done today. Three loads of laundry, shopping, hanging solar lights on an outdoor tree, gift wrapping and even a bit of lounging on the couch ;-)
I haven't gotten my baking done yet- but there is still time.
I decided to tackle the gifts for my coworkers this afternoon. Homemade sugar scrub. If you've never tried sugar scrub it is a wonderful thing. I found this recipe a few weeks ago and made some for us. Mmm, heavenly....
I'll share the recipe with you. It is quick, easy and makes a great gift.
A half pint of bath time heaven.
The important stuff.
Ingredients- for each jar:
1/2 cup Raw sugar crystals- there are several brands available, just make sure they are not too fine- you want the chunky ones.
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1 Vitamin E capsule
Essential oil for fragrance- I used lavender and vanilla, combined
1 wide mouthed half pint jar with a lid (you can double the recipe and use a pint jar- I had half pints)

Put the sugar in the jar.
CAREFULLY add the oil.
You will need to stir it a bit to get out the air bubbles or it will overflow.
Puncture the Vitamin E capsule and squeeze out the contents into the jar.
Add a few drops of essential oil
to your preference of scent.
Stir again gently to mix.
Add the lid and a ribbon if you want and it's done.
Simple, huh?
I was going to use raffia for the bows but I couldn't find it. V has moved my wrapping stuff so many times last summer that it has gotten separated. I'll keep looking.
Each of my coworkers will get a jar of this, a bar of homemade soap and maybe a chocolate or two.
To use the sugar scrub, you scoop out a teaspoon or two with your fingers and rub it on wet skin in a circular motion. Let it sit for a bit and rinse thoroughly.
A WORD OF WARNING!! The sugar scrub will make your tub or shower VERY slippery. I always make sure to wash the tub out with soap when I'm finished so the next person in doesn't slip and break their neck.
Happy gifting!

A day off

Sorry for the long silence. Things have been hopping around here. But, today I hope to have a chance to catch my breath. I've got the day off since I worked last Saturday. Of course, my list of what I want to accomplish is probably longer than my arm. Top priority is wrapping gifts without prying eyes of children. I also need to get jars for the sugar scrub I'm making for coworkers so I can get that going this weekend.
Here's a partial list:
A couple loads of laundry (this never ends!)
Wrap gifts
Grocery store run- they're having a 1 day only sale today
While I'm out at the grocery I've got a few stocking stuffers to pick up and will get my jars.
I'd like to make a run to Kalona to the Amish bulk store- we'll see...
Bake some cranberry orange bread
Bake biscotti
water indoor plants
Or, maybe I'll just throw all this to the wind and spend the day on the couch drinking tea and looking at the new seed catalogues that have begun to come in.....
I'll try to let you know later what I get done.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tagged! 4 things

Debbie at Happy Days tagged me for a meme. It's pretty simple so I'll play along. I like simple these days.
This one is 4 things. Here goes:
4 shows I watch- hmm, it starts out hard- I don't watch much TV. But if I had to list- most would be from Syfy- Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, Stargate Universe and then, not Syfy- Mythbusters
4 things I'm passionate about- My family, my job, my garden, the environment.
4 words or phrases I say a lot- "Fabulous!" "Oh Shit!"; "Curiouser and Curiouser, said Alice." and from work: "Talk to yourself like you'd talk to a friend."
4 things I've learned from the past- Never take anyone for granted; Always let people know you love them- they can't guess; Be true to yourself no matter what others think; Money doesn't buy happiness
4 places I'd like to go- the Agean, Great Britain, Australia, Venice
4 things I did yesterday- laundry, baked cookies, received a gift, sang
4 things I look forward to doing- sleeping in on Saturday; seeing my family for the holidays; going to the beach in North Carolina; watching my children open gifts
4 things I love about winter- sledding; warm scarves; hot chocolate; watching the birds at the feeders.
Now, I'm supposed to pass this on to 4 other bloggers. Here is where I part from tradition. I can never narrow it down to just 4 people, and many people don't want to play along. So, If you want to play, consider your self tagged! I'm curious about other's answers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ninjas and an early gift

I made ninjas this afternoon. Yup, ninjabread men!
Mmm, tasty!!
The annual holiday party at the dojang where J16 and V take classes is next weekend. J16 is contemplating taking these with different colored frosting belts on them. Too much fun.
And V got me an early gift today.
Isn't it beautiful!?!
Handblown green glass with bare trees etched on the glass. It stands probably about 10 inches high and is absolutely gorgeous. I think I will light it often. As some of you may know or have noticed- I have a thing for trees. They are by far my favorite image. Isn't V just the sweetest thing? He said that this isn't for the holidays- it's just because he knew I would like it. Awww....
Have a fabulous week ahead.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do you see a problem here?

Hmmm, what kind of ornament is that?

Blizzards and bean blossoms

Those two things don't seem to go together, do they. But they do at our house. This morning, when I left for work it was 38 and raining. When I came home this afternoon, it was 25 with snow and all that rain from this morning has frozen on the roads. Yuck. We are in a lull right now but are forecast to get several inches of snow over night with high winds. Yup, we have a blizzard warning from this evening through tomorrow afternoon. FUN! I'm just glad I made it home safely.
But, on to the beans:
Blossoms at 6 am.
I'm not holding out any hope that we will actually get any beans from these but they are fun to watch climbing up over the sink.
This evening, J16 was supposed to have a school dance to go to- fortunately it has been cancelled so we don't have to go anywhere. I13 is supposed to have rehearsal tomorrow at church but we'll see what the weather brings. Tonight, since we're staying in, we will be decorating the tree and maybe baking some cookies. I did a bit of an impulse buy yesterday afternoon as I wandered around in the mall downtown while waiting for my bus.
Yup, you read right.
We'll be baking NINJABREAD MEN.
They were too cute to pass up. Of course, I need more cookie cutters like I need a hole in my head but, hey, they are fun.... And you can NEVER have too many cookie cutters... right??

Thanks for all of your supportive replies to my whiney post. I talked to V on the way home this afternoon about me cutting my hours and he was supportive of that. I have no illusions that I'm suddenly going to have loads of time to accomplish everything I want but it's a start. What was most hopeful was how understanding he was of how tired I am. For the record, I have always been the primary breadwinner. V stayed home with the children when they were small. Actually, out of the almost 25 years that we have been married, he has worked full time for maybe 5 or 6 of those. He hasn't had a "real" job since he was laid off two years ago but he has been doing some freelance writing work that has been bringing in about $1000 a month- not much- but enough to take the pressure off if I drop to 90%. All this is still in the planning stages. I'm not even sure my boss will approve a change. We'll see....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Busy times

Wow, I haven't had time to sit at my computer for a few days. It's been a whirlwind around here. There was the usual Monday night madness with band and orchestra rehearsals. Tuesday, K20 had his first ever band concert. They didn't sound too bad for students who have only been playing their instruments for 3 months. Last night, I was just trying to get caught up around the house. It seems that the dishes have been piling up- as has everything else.
I still have a few holiday gifts to get- little things for stocking stuffers, mostly. And I need to make some more soap. I've decided that my co-workers will get "spa" sets this year- handmade soap and homemade sugar scrub. So, I've got to get that done as well.
I work on Saturday so I'm in the middle of a 6 day stretch of work. I haven't brought this up with V, but I'm contemplating cutting my hours at work, if we can afford it. V has been bringing in a little money with his writing and has been offered a book deal (nothing really big but it's a start!) I know that, since my job takes care of all the insurance, that I can't cut my hours too much. I was actually thinking of maybe working 90%. That would give me one afternoon off a week- or a full day every other week. Who knows, it's probably just a pipe dream, but I have realized that I'm tired. I have been working full time, supporting the family mostly single handed for most of the last 16 years and I'm just plain, old tired. Something needs to change in my life. I really want more time to spend on the farm and garden but with working at the hospital and working at home, it's difficult to find the time to really make things work. There are many, many times that I envy people who can stay at home or who only work part time. OH, I know it's not all soap operas and bonbons but I would love to be able to structure my time the way I want to, not how someone else tells me it needs to be. I often feel that I've bitten off more than I can handle with this place, starting all the gardens and landscaping from scratch. I know that I'm fortunate that I have a blank slate to work with but it is often overwhelming with the amount of work that needs to be done- both on house and garden.
Oh well, enough whining for one night. I'm just feeling overworked and under-appreciated (mostly by my family). I've got so much to still do before the holidays are upon us. The only decorating that has been done is a single poinsettia that I picked up at the annual sale at the hospital. But, I'm at the point now that, if no one else wants to help me, it just won't get done- then I won't have to take it all down again in January. Oosh, I'm sounding pretty bitter aren't I. I definitely need to find time for some "ME time"... and soon.
Thanks for listening to my whine. Maybe I'll try to make some cheese to go with it next time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Subfloors and soap

This was one of those weekends where I feel I was busy but don't feel I accomplished much. Oh, I know that's wrong, actually a lot got done- but I just don't feel very satisfied- probably because there is still so much to do.
J16 and I went out yesterday and obtained V's gift. We had to haul it in the house and wrap it quickly because there is no way I can hide something that big. I'll let you know what it is sometime. It's been fun seeing him look and say "those are BIG boxes". I don't think he has a clue what I got for him- it's not what he was expecting me to get. We were fortunate that he was busy when we got home to carry it in. He was working on replacing the subfloor on the landing by the new South door. This is the place where there was all that water damage and we ended up rebuilding the exterior wall. As expected, the subfloor was a mess:

Splintered subfloor with a hole going all the way through.
You could look down and see the washer and dryer through the floor.
This afternoon, J16 and I took a little time to try something new:
We made soap.
Of course, we cheated and didn't REALLY make soap. We got some pre-made goat's milk soap, melted it and added our own fragrance and color. We got quite a few molds along the way and J16 plans to make a number of bars for holiday gifts. The celtic knot molds were our favorites so we tried those first. The pink ones are a vanilla- clove mix and the pale green ones are rosemary-mint with ground apricot shells for scrubbies. They smell divine.
Someday we'll try REAL soap making- I've seen some great posts on how to do it. But we figured this is a safe place to start.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Not much going on here under the troll bridge. Work has been busy, as has home. But really, not much going on. So, just a few random reports of the week.
J16 passed her first drive with her instructor. The other student out with her didn't. But, she says she has to parallel park in 4 more weeks so I guess we need to work on that.
On Sunday late afternoon, I13 will begin rehearsals with out church band. Every year they do a special service with holiday selections from Mannheim Steamroller- being Lutherans- the band is called the Wittenberg Steamroller. Musicians from 6th grade and up can play and I13 has been playing as long as he has been allowed. K10 will be able to play next year. It is a fun experience for I13- he gets to play challenging music with people other than just his classmates. Playing with adults has been great for him and it has helped him form some good relationships with some other adults in the congregation.
K10 is busily rehearsing for his first band concert next week. While it will be fun, that first elementary band concert is always just a bit painful.
V has been busy with work, both paid and unpaid. He is currently working on two different freelance jobs which is keeping him busy.
Me, I've been holding my own. I'm a bit frustrated that no one but me ever seems to notice that things need done- like dishes, laundry or vacuuming but, I guess that's what being a Mom is all about...
I'm thoroughly glad that tomorrow is Saturday. I'm hoping to take J16 out driving again. We're forecast to get 1 to 2 inches of snow tonight so I want her to get to drive in it. I'll probably take her down to a local business that is closed on weekends and have her drive around in their parking lot again. It is a huge place with multiple parking lots, drives, stop signs, etc, The perfect place to practice something new without traffic. She's been there before....
While we're out driving, I plan to go off and pick up V's holiday gift. I've decided to get him NOT what he is expecting me to get him. Ha!
Tomorrow evening, V and I are off to dinner at our church. One of our members is a Cordon Bleu certified chef and is preparing a 4 course dinner as a fund raiser. The proceeds will go to help with remodeling/repairs of the campus ministries house next door to the church. As well as a good meal, it will also be a great time socializing with other adults.

See, I said it was all pretty random. Nothing too exciting going on here. Sometimes, that is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First snow!

Not much, just a dusting but it's still snowing and cold and WINDY! What a way to end November. It made it seem a bit more seasonal and I actually found myself smiling while the snow swirled around me this afternoon.
I took a day off work today. No particular reason but I had some things I wanted to accomplish that are more easily done during the week.
I managed to get much of my holiday shopping done this morning. Hurrah!! Just a few more things that I want to order and I'll be done. I still need to pick up V's gift. I can't decide between two different things. Hmm, I'll have to think on that one.
J16 wants a book on herbs. Any suggestions? She likes mine (I have Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs) and wants one like that- but I want to get her something different. She has a strong interest in herbs and herbal medicine that I'm not discouraging.
Mostly today, I puttered around the house, getting small things done.
It occurred to me that I haven't done an Independence Days update for quite a while. It's getting pretty samey this time of year but here goes...
1. Plant something- Tulips!! J16 and I finally got around to planting the tulips that I picked up at the end of the season. It's a bit late so hopefully they will do well.
2. Harvest something- lettuce, sage leaves, a few walking onions. Gleaned some corn from the fields for the birds.
3. Preserve something- cubed and roasted roasted the rest of the squash that was starting to go bad and froze it in meal sized portions. We like to have squash cubes tossed with olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary roasted in the oven. Served over pasta with parmesan cheese it is heavenly. I've never tried to roast it and freeze it before but it's all set to thaw, reheat, mix with parmesan and serve. We'll see how it goes.
4. Waste not- Hmm, can't really think of much different than the norm. Froze the extra lasagna since there is no way we can eat it all before it goes bad.
5. Want not- Gleaned corn for bird food. Organized my extra canning jars for next year. I'm still trying to organize the basement since construction is coming to a close.
6. Build community- not much here
Gotta run and get my pizza out of the oven.

7. Eat the food- Mmm, squash lasagna. Need I say more...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's a little lasagna between friends...

We had friends over last night for a lasagna feed. It was a wonderful evening full of good conversation and good food. I made two batches of lasagna. Well, actually, J16 made lasagna while I did other things. I had all the children in the kitchen helping since I was so far behind schedule. J16 was the kitchen assistant/prep chef, I16 was the sous chef and K10 was the bus boy and runner.
The first was a traditional lasagna with tomato sauce and italian sausage- that was the lasagna "with". The lasagna "without" (the vegetarian option) was something new for me. I made a winter squash lasagna. One of my pumpkins was starting to get soft and needed used so I researched recipes online and then made my own creation...
Mmmm, tasty!
I started by peeling and cubing about 2.5 lbs of squash. This I tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped onions and garlic then roasted it at 400* until tender and beginning to get a bit of caramelization. Once out of the oven, I added finely chopped fresh sage leaves (5 leaves) and a bit of dried rosemary. I used a pretty traditional cheese filling with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan but substituted some shredded provolone for some of the mozzarella. The sauce over all was a garlic white sauce. That's where I13 came in as sous chef since I didn't have time to stand there and stir the sauce with a whisk for 15 minutes. The layering was noodles, cheese, squash mixture, a bit of sauce, repeat, ending with noodles and sauce over all. I didn't let it brown as much as I would have liked on top but the cheese was beginning to bubble over the edge of the pan onto the bottom of the oven- ick.
For sides, we had breadsticks and salad. Thanks to Jena at Married to the Farm for the recipe for The Best homemade breadsticks EVER! They were definitely a hit. I made a tossed salad and yes, even after all the frost and cold weather, I was still able to pick some leaf lettuce out of the yard to dress up our purchased lettuce.
All in all, it was a great night. We'll have to do it again soon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

For the birds

I love birds. Wild ones, that is. We had a parakeet while I was growing up and it always pained me to see it in a cage. My parents did have finches flying free in the greenhouse attached to their old house for a while- that was much better.
For years I have had bird feeders outside the window. Last year, with all the chaos of house renovations, settling in and just not knowing what I was doing, I didn't get my feeders hung. One had been broken in the move and never got fixed. The others were stashed in the barn and buried under other things.
But, this year, I've got them hung again- much to the eternal torment of the cats who REALLY want to get at those birds. I've had them filled for about a week now and the birds are flocking in.
The list observed so far:
Sparrows (lots of these!) I've never been good at identifying the different species but I know we've got some introduced ones and some native.
Black capped chickadee- my favorites!
Blue jay
Tufted Titmouse
Dark- eyed Junco
Downy woodpecker
I just hung a new thistle feeder for the finches on Tuesday evening and they haven't really discovered it yet. I did see a goldfinch there this afternoon so it should soon be a busy place.
I'm hoping to see more goldfinches and some purple finches this winter. I know we have cedar waxwings around here - which I also LOVE!- but I'll probably have to get some berries to attract them.
We've also seen the huge rough legged hawk that overwintered here last year- well, I'm assuming it's the same bird. I'm hoping that if I put out some corn on the ground that we can attract the wild turkeys that I know are lurking around.
It's fun to watch the birds and I always find it calming. K10 and I spent some time identifying birds this morning before anyone else was up. (I knew what they were but it was fun to see him trying to identify them.)
Anyone else feed the birds? I know some people are against bird feeders, saying that it makes the wild birds too dependent on us. But they seem to be in the bushes and weeds as much as at the feeders here.
Update only a few minutes after posting- I can now add Red-Bellied Woodpecker to the list.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

She Did It!!

Woo Hoo! We picked up my nephew this morning and then- wait for it--- J16 drove all 75 miles to my parent's farm. And we arrived safe and sound! This was definitely a confidence booster for the girl who hates to drive. This was her first time on an interstate highway and the first time with more than just me in the car. But she did fine. Fortunately, the traffic was light this morning and it was a lovely day.
We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and nephew. My brother and SIL were hosting today for "strays" who had nowhere else to go today so didn't come down to join us.
This afternoon I took a walk in the fields and gleaned probably half a bushel of corn. Dad confirmed my fears that his tenant plants GMO corn so this will be feed for the wild birds this winter (although part of me hates to feed it even to them). If it had been non-GMO field corn I would have set some aside to grind for us- especially since this was picked directly off the stalks and not from the ground. There were a few gullies formed from all this year's rains that they didn't drive the combine through so there were several feet of unpicked rows on either side.
My nephew confirmed for me that my pumpkin was, indeed, served at the 126 where he is kitchen manager. He said he made ravioli and rissoto. He also used some pears that my parents gave him and said that he overheard one of the servers telling a customer that the pears came from his grandparent's farm. It was evidently quite the selling point. Who knows. Maybe I'll have to see what else I can interest him in next year. It could be fun to provide him with some specialty produce. Hmmmm..... the wheels are turning.
I've got another three days off but it will be busy. We've got a ton to do around the house and we're planning to have friends over for dinner on Saturday. I've got bread to bake and a pumpkin to process since I noticed that it is beginning to go. One ended up on the compost pile yesterday as it had a catastrophic failure in the basement that I didn't catch in time.
I hope all who celebrated Thanksgiving here in the US had a memorable day. And for all reading from outside the US. I hope you had a peaceful Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This is it. Here in the US it is Thanksgiving Day. A day when we are to step back, spend time with family and friends, share a feast and give thanks for another year and a bountiful harvest. Unfortunately, it seems that many have forgotten the Thanks part of Thanksgiving and are more focused on the food and planning their shopping extravaganza.
I'm Thankful today that I've got friends and family who share the idea that we need to give thanks.
I'm thankful for all of you who have been along on this journey for another year.
Have a safe, wonderful day. Thank the farmers who helped provide your meal, and if you produced it yourself, be sure to thank the earth for it's bounty.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still Thankful- part 4

I should be running out, right? But there are so many things I'm thankful for that I certainly can't name them all. I did an activity with patients looking for the positives in not so positive situations... and we even decided that we can be thankful for laundry- because it means that I have clothes to wear and a family to generate more.
I'm thankful for dishes- even though I hate doing them- because they mean that I have food to put on the table. I'm thankful for my freezers and well stocked pantry to see us through tough times- especially with food prices that keep climbing.
I'm thankful that I live in a prosperous country where I'm free to do what I choose (within reason and law!) and I am truly indebted to all the brave men and women who serve to defend our freedom- both at home and abroad. I salute all of you and wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.
Still more to come.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful- part 3

Tonight is a quick post because I've been busy. But that, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for. My job has kept me hopping recently. I am incredibly thankful that I have a job that I love, co-workers whom I adore and who are a pleasure to work with. I get an incredible sense of fulfillment with my work, helping others to overcome the obstacles that life has placed in their ways. It isn't always easy and it isn't always fun, but it is definitely worth it.
We're closing in on Thanksgiving, I'll have more tomorrow to be thankful for.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful- part 2

Another day of Thankfulness. Where to begin... there are so many things.
Today we had a cold front move through so I am thankful for my warm house. I may complain of all the work that still needs done, but the fact remains that my home is lovelier and larger by far than the homes of most of the world's population. I am grateful that my family and I have been granted the challenge of taking this poor, neglected house and turning it into a warm, snug home.
I am continually grateful that we have been graced with ownership of our land. Five acres of heaven. Oh, some may call parts of it a swamp and a weed patch- but where they see swamp and weeds, I see wetlands and wildflowers. We still have a long way to go to bring this land to it's full productivity- but I'm patient. I'm also grateful that my family is along for the journey, learning and growing alongside me.
K10's beans
K10's beans are growing well in the south window. They are over a foot tall at this point and growing strong. I'm thankful that he has a glimmer of the joy for growing things that I do. I'll have to nurture that joy as we nurture the beans.
It's a great feeling to focus on my blessings. Anyone want to count their blessings along with me this week?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful- part 1

We are creeping up on Thanksgiving Day here in the US. A good time to reflect on what we are thankful in life. So, I'm hoping to post a little every day this week about what I am thankful for in my life. I've been feeling quite whiney lately so this will help.
First and foremost, I am thankful for my family. My darling husband who has been with me for more than half of my life at this point. Where would I be without him. He has strength, both of character and of spirit as well as physical strength and knowledge to keep us going on all the work that has been done on this house and farm.
And where do I start with my children. They are brilliant, creative, self assured creatures that I am truly blessed to have. And, even at 16, Justine is not ashamed to go shopping with her mother and have lunch at the mall- in sight of everyone (gasp!)
I am also thankful for our pets. They bring a richness to our lives. Chase the deer from the garden and catch mice in the house. They also are loyal, loving companions who are great to snuggle with on a cold night.
I am truly blessed to still have my parents. They are both in their 80's now and still going strong. They have contributed so much to my knowledge and love of life that it is a debt I can never repay.
I am also blessed to have loving siblings, nieces and nephews, all who "get along", which I have learned is not always the norm in life.
Tomorrow I'll find a few more things to be thankful for.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

Swiftly flow the days....

I've always loved that song. You've got it going through your head now, don't you?
And it seems like a fitting song for my life recently. I've barely been home when it's been light this week. Crazy schedules, teenage angst and just plain life have been getting the best of me. But, it's Friday and I don't have anywhere to go.
Have a weekend as glorious as that sunrise.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


...I am reminded of how "not normal" my children are. Sometimes it makes me worry about their ability to connect with their peers but mostly it brings me great pride and joy. Over the past few days K10 has been quite "musical" singing, humming and whistling while he works or plays. A few of the tunes I've noticed: The theme song from Poirot (PBS Mystery), Theme song from Blake's 7 (old British sci-fi) and the "warrior's song" from the movie Zulu. Pretty eclectic stuff, huh?
My children may have never watched "Dancing with the stars" but they can recite (with proper accents) entire scenes from The Good Neighbors (old British sit-com). Our TV is on the Discovery channel as much as on Cartoon Network and they get excited about watching Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. They even like the History Channel!
They are all readers and even K10 has read Tolkien and much of the Redwall series by Jacques. We play pun/ word games at the dinner table. And my children have been heard to say outrageous things like "That is the best cauliflower I've ever tasted" and "Can I have another carrot?" They like milk and apple cider better than soda and dislike fast food. They all LOVE steamed broccoli but don't like processed cheese.
So a question: With children like these, have I done well? Or as some of J16's friends have said "Your family is just so weird"- have I done them a disservice by helping them become so unique that they are considered odd?
I like to think I've done a good job... They seem comfortable with themselves.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Madness

Oosh, if this is what Mondays are going to be like- I want off!! The afterschool running around is crazy! Of course, I'm just along for the ride for most of it. Poor V is the driver.
Here is the usual drill: K10 has to be picked up at school at 3:15 and dropped off at band rehearsal at 3:35. Then V drives across town to pick me up early from work at 3:45. We generally run errands until K10 is ready to be picked up at 4:45. Then home and take J16 to orchestra.
Except things just got crazier! J16 now has driver's education after school until 4:30. So that adds another stop into the mix. Tonight she was home for all of 5 minutes before she had to head back out for orchestra, not returning home until nearly 7. Poor kid- she was gone for 12 hours today. That's a LONG day for a teenager- or anyone else! And that will be her schedule for the next 12 weeks or so. Unless she drops driver's ed. (please, NO!!!!)
She evidently had a run in with the teacher about scheduling driving time. The registration letter we got indicated that driving time could be scheduled during a free period at school, before or after school- they will work around your schedule. Well, this afternoon, the instructor told her that she HAS to have a study hall this trimester while she is in driver's ed to schedule drive time. The problem is, she doesn't HAVE a study hall this tri- she is carrying a full load of classes and was never told that she has to have a study hall. I REALLY hope this can be worked out. Otherwise, we will be shelling out for her to take it in the summer- which would also mean 6 more months of being her chauffeur. While I've got some anxiety about her being out and about on her own- It will also be really nice when she can drive herself to orchestra or her lesson.
But enough whining. I've got my usual Monday update. It's going to be getting pretty samey here for the next few months.
1. Plant something- nope. But I did get rabbit fences put around my bush cherries and apricots. I actually received the first seed catalog of the season already. It seems a bit early- I'm not done cleaning up from this year's garden yet! Oh, and I ran strings from the pot to the curtain rod in the kitchen for K10's beans. They are starting to climb. This should be fun. I'll try to remember to post some pictures.
2. Harvest something- only some herbs for last night's roast chicken. But, mmm, fresh sage leaves are yummy!
3. Preserve something- no again. Unless I can count that I've still got my hair after going out driving with J16 yesterday!
4. Waste not- hmm, we've made it a point to eat potatoes on multiple occasions. Remember my joy at the potato deal I got a few weeks ago- bah- they aren't keeping very well so we're having to eat them quickly. At least the squash and pumpkins are keeping well. Other than that, it's been the usual around here. V and K10 spent some quality time on Sunday pulling nails out of salvaged lumber so it's ready for repurposing. Let's see, I also made stock from what was left of the chicken we had last night for dinner.
5. Want not- I'm sure there is something. Now that V has moved out of the storage room downstairs I really need to get my canning supplies better organized in there. Currently they are stashed in various places around the house and some empty jars are in the barn. I want to get them all organized so I have a better idea what I've got for next year. Got I13 a new coat over the weekend- and a few more pair of jeans. He is at that awkward size. Around here, the boys sections at the stores only carry pants up to size 16. Those no longer fit so we have to move up to the mens department. The problem is that he is so skinny- it's hard to find any mens sizes with at 28 or 29 inch waist.
I guess I can count the bow purchase in here- I think I'm probably more excited to use it than the boys will be. But who knows, we'll see after the holiday.
6. Build community food systems- We've been drinking locally produced apple cider, that's about it.
7. Eat the food- Oh, yeah! Our chicken last night was fabulous (fairly local- but not within 100 miles ;( ) and the fresh herbs were divine. We've eaten some of the broccoli from the freezer and pumpkin muffins. We had pasta sauce made with the last of the tomatoes I picked green and that had been ripening in the house and the last green pepper. Yummy.

That about wraps it up for another week. I hope you all have an excellent week ahead.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I bought a weapon today.
The first time in my life that I bought something that can kill.
I guess it isn't so bad. I bought a youth sized bow for the boys for a holiday gift. The children have archery training in junior high and they have had fun with it at camp. I'm always looking at something new to get them outside, as well. J16 was along with me when I got it and she says she wants to be able to use it, as do I.
I figure it is a good skill to have and one that could potentially put food on the table. The bow I got is a compound bow that is adjustable for different draw weights and lengths. At it's maximum setting it has a 45 pound draw which is enough to be legal to hunt, should they ever decide to do that. I have an uncle who was a bow hunter along with some cousins so maybe they can give the boys some tips.
It could be interesting after the holidays....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I think I'll have another glass of wine...

Not much going on tonight. J16 is off at her friend's birthday party. I13's party that he was supposed to go to was a no-go. The birthday girl started vomiting this afternoon so there was a last minute cancelation. If she was going to get sick- I'm glad it was today and not tomorrow after she had exposed everyone.
Laundry is done, dishes are done, boys are playing video games. Hmm, maybe a drink and a book are calling. I may have to see how the new couch does for reading.....

And don't worry- V is on daughter retrieval duty tonight so I won't be driving any more today.

Rain and birthdays

It's finally starting to look and feel like November. It is a chilly, gray, rainy day here. Not much going on in my life. The usual weekend fare- laundry, cooking, cleaning. I'd like to get out and put cages around some of my little bushes before winter to protect them from bunnies but that will have to wait until it stops raining.
The two older children will be gone this evening to birthday parties. One of J16's friends is turning 18! This is a girl who is now a senior and who lived just down the street from us at our old house. Ack, I'm not ready for any of my children's friends to be "legal adults" yet. I13 will be heading out to a party for his friend Nikki. Goodness- what does that mean at the junior high level that he is invited to a girl's party... Hmmmm.... But, they are going rollerblading at the rec center and should have lots of fun.
J16 starts driver's ed on Monday. This should be interesting. This is the girl who is terrified to get behind the wheel. I'll have to make sure I take her out driving again to see if she can gain any more confidence.
Other than that, not much going on in my life. Yup, I'm rather boring. Not much happening construction-wise this weekend either. Again, we had hoped to get a few outside things done but the weather isn't cooperating. Maybe tomorrow.....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

600 posts and an outrage

I noticed that this is post #600. Amazing. Thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride. It's been fun and I'm looking forward to another 600 or so.
And now for something completely different (Thanks Monty Python!)
Thanks to Kim at The Inadvertent Farmer for tipping me off to this one. It is just now making the news.
Just in time for the holiday season, has lost my business. They are, citing freedom of speech, refusing to stop sales of "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure"- a book that is essentially a how-to guide for child molestation. They have received hundreds, if not thousands, of messages and emails of protest but are still holding firm. I for one, will take my business somewhere with a better sense of social responsibility. I urge you to also use your dollars wisely when you shop. Kim said it so much more eloquently in her post. I urge you to go read it.
UPDATE: The book is no longer on the Amazon site. Hopefully that means that the public outcry worked. The furor this caused was very bad publicity for them- and just at a time of year when they probably do a LOT of business.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My usual Monday

Yup, It was a Monday. Up at the crack of dawn- and with the time change it was actually starting to get light when I left home- and off to work. The usual errand run around after V drops K10 off at band. But we did go to a local overstock store and picked up a new set of sheets. Our favorite set of flannel sheets self destructed on the bed last week :( Then, pick up K, hurry home only to turn around and take J16 to orchestra rehearsal. Late dinner as usual. Now, it's time to check blogs and do my usual Monday IDC update.
1. Plant something- Nope.
2. Harvest something- Nope.
3. Preserve something- Nope again. (not looking too promising so far, huh)
4. Waste not- the usual recycling, repurposing and using cloth bags at the store. V and the boys broke down LOTS of cardboard boxes that have been accumulating and took them to the recyclers. I guess along with all this comes the distribution of pumpkins. Since I know there is no way we can eat that much we've been giving them away. Now, I'm down to only three whole ones plus all the puree I froze earlier. Oh, and in putting in the new door, V was able to repurpose bits of lumber to make a new threshold and to correct the bad framing.
5. Want not- hmm, I stocked up on Zatarain's box mixes. Yeah, I know- it's in a box but we love it. I use their jambalaya as a way to use up left over bits of meat in the fridge and it is something that everyone likes and is pretty fast. But they had them 5 boxes for $5 which isn't a bad deal for them. I also got a whole bunch of pears from my parents and Mom brought me jars and rings. Hopefully I won't have to purchase any jars for quite a while.
6. Build community food systems- pumpkins again. It's a theme, isn't it! But, now there is a good chance that some of my produce will be served at a local restaurant where my nephew works. That would be SO COOL!!
7. Eat the food- last night we had some broccoli from the freezer and I made pumpkin biscuits. Ok, they were a variation of Sweet Potato biscuits. The pumpkin was a bit wetter than when I've made the recipe with mashed sweet potatoes so I ended up making drop biscuits since they were waaay too soft to knead and roll.
Here's the recipe if you're interested.
Pumpkin biscuits
Dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Cut into this 1/2 cup butter and set aside.
Combine wet ingredients and add to dry.
Wet ingredients:
2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (I used pumpkin puree)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider
Mix together.
For sweet potatoes, the recipe says to knead and roll out to half an inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter and place in a greased pan. For the pumpkin, I greased muffin tins and dropped the mixture into them.
This made 12 muffin/biscuits.
The recipe says to bake at 400*F until brown on the edges. I baked at 350* because I already had something else in the oven. They turned out fine. In fact, they were such a hit that the there were only two left over and I think V had them for breakfast this morning. Ha! What a great way to disguise pumpkin that everyone liked! I think I'm going to be doing lots of that this winter. These were great because they aren't really sweet but they're not exactly savory either. A nice balance. I need more of that in my life.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Progress at Troll Bridge Farm

It was a beautiful, sunny day here in the Midwest. The perfect day for hanging sheets on the line and tearing a hole in the side of your house....
Well, not really. But V did replace the South door today. Gone is the ugly security door that had been there and the new, energy efficient door is installed. Here are some views of the day...
V tries the new door frame for size.

See, nothing there!
Now everyone can look in and see my messy pantry!
The new door is in!
Since V didn't really need my help constantly but I needed to be within earshot for lifting, holding, etc, I spent the day in the kitchen.
Cranberry Orange Nut bread.
Check out K10's beans- they're getting big.
My parents did come for a visit this afternoon, bringing my oldest nephew with them. Andrew recently moved back from Chicago and is working as a chef at one of the higher class restaurants here in town (126 for those familiar with the Iowa City restaurant scene). He took one of our big pumpkins and was going to take it to work. He was talking about putting pumpkin ravioli on the menu. Hmmm, maybe we'll have to go out to dinner soon....
Mom also brought, in addition to a big bag of pears, a gift of sorts. She says she is slowing down production and brought me this:
Two boxes of pint and half pint jars.
Woo Hoo!
I think I counted 25 jars and there is also a big bag of rings. They got to sit on the new couch and see all the progress. This was the first time my nephew has been out here so it was all new for him. Mom was impressed with my new freezer and laughed that it is so much easier to put stuff into the freezer than to take it out. Too true sometimes. Their one freezer is about the size of both of mine combined. But I did take some pumpkin puree out of the freezer and I'm trying an experiment. Pumpkin biscuits. I'll let you know how they turn out. If they're any good, I'll share the recipe.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A bit of this and that

I'm feeling much better today. I'm not sure if it was the garlic broth or the 11 hours of sleep. Both probably helped tremendously. Today was a bit of little bits of lots of things. This morning was errands, dropping off pumpkins, dropping off bread for the church service tomorrow, picking up prescriptions, groceries, etc. the usual home stuff: dishes, laundry and making a big pot of chili. Yum.
V got his stuff cleared out of the storage room and we finally got the new freezer deployed in the house. Hurrah!!! I've been bugging him about getting that done for a while. So I spent some time this afternoon sorting and organizing the freezers. Hmm, does this mean I need to change my blog title? Now I've got two half-full freezers. It's kind of scary to be able to actually see what I've got. Maybe now I can be a bit more organized about eating down the inventory. I've now got one freezer for meat and such and one for veggies and other non-meaty items (I discovered a lost box of Girl Scout thin mints- mmmm). I was amazed to see how much frozen broccoli I've got from the garden this year. I filled an entire freezer basket of just broccoli. But, sadly, I discovered that I've only got one package of corn left. We didn't freeze any this year since Mom and Dad's corn "failed" and that's where we usually get it. I guess I should have picked up a bunch from the farmer's market and frozen some on my own. Oh well, too late now. It will be a cornless winter.
But, we will have pumpkin and broccoli to eat so we won't be veggie-less. I'm pleased to report that we now only have 4 galeux d'eysines left! Woot! That is a much more manageable number. I may be giving one of my remaining ones to my brother or nephew but that would be ok. I've still got plenty.
Now, I've got to go make some cornbread to go with that chili.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ugh, still sick

I'm REALLY ready to be healthy again! I've been hacking and coughing all week. I'm guessing that it may be bronchitis but I'm reluctant to go to the Dr since they will just throw antibiotics at me. We've already had one round with resistant organisms in this house, so I'll take my chances unless things get much worse. The OTC meds have been doing nothing for me so I'm going to go back to my old standby herbal remedies. So, after a nice hot, steamy shower, I've rubbed down my chest with Tiger Balm (Love that stuff!) and am going to have a nice hot cup of broth- heavy on the garlic. At least I'm sick enough that garlic breath won't bother V as much as my coughing!
Tomorrow I've got some errands to run, including a trip to Mt Vernon to see Jen (of Emerald Sunshine). I'm going to deliver some pumpkins to her since she gave me the lovely seeds that produced this epic bounty. Then, I think, this weekend we will be putting in the new door to the deck. It's supposed to be sunny and in the 60's this weekend so it may be our last good weekend weatherwise for work like that. My parents were going to come up and bring us some more pears but now they're thinking again since I'm still sick. Hopefully I'll feel better soon.
I hope you all have a healthy, happy weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I don't often get political here. My political views aren't necessarily a secret but they're not something I publicize. I tend to be a very accepting person and am very tolerant of others opinions. As such, I request that you respect my opinions. If you don't agree with what I'm going to say, that's fine- just don't try to tell me I'm wrong. Ok?
I must say that I'm disappointed in 52% of my fellow Iowans today. On several accounts.
First, and probably least controversial is my disappointment that Frances Thicke was not elected to be the secretary of Agriculture. He is an organic farmer and I think would have been a good voice to have be heard.
Second, I'm most disappointed in many Iowan's decision to unseat three justices on the Iowa Supreme Court, including the chief justice. This story has been long in the making. As some of you may realize, Iowa is one of a handful of states that has legalized same sex marriage after the supreme court issued a unanimous decision that a law to ban same sex marriage was unconstitutional- based on examination of the Iowa state constitution that guarantees that no law will be passed that discriminates against any group of citizens (my words, not theirs). This decision was met with much hand wringing by a small number of individuals who I feel are "hate and fear mongers". These same individuals had proposed an amendment to the constitution a few years ago banning same sex marriage- it failed due to not enough support. However, this time around, they decided to "get back" at those "activist judges" and launched a million dollar ad campaign to spread anger and fear, claiming, among other things that allowing same sex marriage would somehow erode our other rights, including our right to bear arms. Ummm.... I'm not sure how that works. Anyway, the way the Iowa judicial system works is that the supreme court judges are appointed by the governor from a list of candidates who are selected as the best/brightest out there (a merit system). Although they are appointed, every 8 years their retention is put to a popular vote. So, this year, succumbing to the fear and hate spewed by a few, Iowa voters threw three judges out of office. For doing their jobs. For putting aside their personal and political views and interpreting the law as it is written. For making a case that discrimination is not fair.
I'm sorely disappointed. Regardless on your view of same sex marriage, this was a travesty of the political system. Our judicial system should be free from political agendas. The judges should be allowed to make decisions based on what is legally RIGHT, not what is politically popular without putting their jobs on the line.
Lets hope that better judgement reigns soon and that those who spread fear and hate of that which they don't understand learn tolerance.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Is it Monday already?

And November?! Where did the year go?
I actually stayed home sick from work today. I came down with a nasty cold and have been coughing and coughing... Sometimes hard enough that I'm worried I'm going to throw up. Ick! Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you look at it) the chest congestion has started to break up, but I'm still coughing. But, it will be back to work tomorrow. Today, we got the children out the door to school and I fell asleep on the couch, propped up on pillows, and slept until 11. I think that was more sleep than I got all last night.
Being Monday, I guess I should do an Independence Days update, as usual.
1. Plant something- not a thing. And it will remain this way for a few months unless I decide to try planter box lettuce again.
2. Harvest something- the last few tomatoes and peppers out of the garden and... wait for it... Brussels sprouts! Yup. Last spring, I planted one plant that I got from the local grocery store. Honestly, I kind of forgot about it. It didn't really do very well and most of the little sprouts were only about the size of my finger tip. But they were tasty.
3. Preserve something- Not a thing here either.
4. Waste not- hmm, we've been giving away pumpkins so they don't go to waste, I hope that counts. Plus, the usual composting, recycling, using cloth bags, etc.
5. Want not- stocked up on some more coffee. They have been having a coffee sale at the local grocery store. We've picked up a few packs of decaf hazelnut coffee. We like to make half and half coffee, especially on the weekends where we're likely to drink more coffee than usual. Since coffee prices are predicted to go up we've been picking up coffee to store when it's on sale. There are many things I'm willing to go without to be frugal- coffee isn't one of them at this point in my life.
6. Community food systems- the only thing I can think of is the pumpkin trade that's going on here. I'm getting a copy of a cookbook in trade for three pumpkins- not a bad deal.
7. Eat the food- I can't pinpoint a specific meal this last week but we've been eating the last of the ripening tomatoes and the last of the peppers plus some salads from the yard lettuce.

And just a reminder to all folks here in the US - although I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here- Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Socialist, Independent, or are holding your own little Tea Party- GET OUT THERE AND VOTE. Our voices count. Let's be heard.

And there is no complaining allowed if you don't vote.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

I don't care if you celebrate Halloween, All Hallows Eve or Samhain. I hope you all had a blessed day.
Here are some photos of our day. Well, photos of the children enjoying the day.
Ooo, pumpkin guts....
K10 learns the way of the drill to make holes in his pumpkin.
J16's creation.
They are strategically placed to be visible from the road.
We got exactly 2 trick or treaters. Oh, well....
J16 ditched her planned costume and went as a raver
glow sticks and glitter are great things.
I13 as a construction worker
considering how long they have been working on the highway, this was probably the scariest costume out there tonight.
He collected candy in a traffic cone!
K10 went as "Hank the janitor"
All the costumes were no cost and ready in about 5 minutes.
My kind of costumes.
Ooo... scary
K10's is bottom left- pumpkin with shotgun blast to the face.
Only a 10 year old....
Look at that haul-
Sugar rush- here we come...