Monday, January 31, 2011

The first order in!

My order from Baker Creek Seeds arrived today.  I'm truly amazed.  I placed my order last Thursday night and it arrived the following Monday.  With- get this- a note apologizing for any delay.  That was a delay??  Impressive.
Here's the haul:
Tomato Ananas Noire- multicolored big tomato- 1 1/2 pounds!!
Melon Tigger advertised as small- 1 lb- fragrant melons- that and they look really cool!
Tomatillo Purple- Just what it says- supposedly sweet enough to eat raw from the garden... Mmm
Corn Chires Baby- we love baby corn in stir fry so we're going to try to grow our own.  It makes popcorn when mature!
Pepper Purple Beauty- nothing too exciting but I don't have purple bell seeds, just red and yellow
Swiss Chard Rainbow- because we love it.
And as a free gift they sent a pack of Carrot Parisienne- globe carrots- good thing because all I have are old carrot seeds that I was going to plant this year.

See, I showed some restraint.  I'm still waiting for my other order from Cook's Garden that shipped on Saturday so maybe tomorrow.....  then you can see how much restraint I didn't show

And speaking of tomorrow, I'm off work for the next two days.  Woo Hoo!  I just decided to take a couple of vacation days.  The weekend was so crazy that I didn't get much accomplished and next weekend will also be a bust since we will be traveling to my parent's farm for Dad's birthday.  I need a little down time for sanity and to do some laundry, sorting and organizing the back room to make a space for the kitchen counters to be stored when they are delivered.  Plus, I'm coming down with a cold and have a sore throat so I thought I'd keep my germs to myself and with the round of snow set to arrive, having Wednesday off will just reduce the pressure of having to get up and clear the driveway to try to get to work.  Maybe I can actually enjoy the snowfall now.
Hope you all stay safe and warm.  It's snowy out there already.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Many thanks to Debbie at Happy Days for giving me this lovely award.  She seems to think I'm stylish.  Debbie is a wonderful lady and seems to keep herself always busy with her grandgirls, redecorating and living her life to the fullest.  If you haven't stopped by to visit her, I encourage you to do so.
So, apparently, I'm supposed to share 10 things that you may or may not know about me (or want to know). Here goes:
1.  I've been in 49/50 states of this lovely country of ours.  Somehow I've always managed to miss Louisiana in my travels.
2.  I'm allergic to lanolin, which makes keeping sheep out out of the question for us- I couldn't handle them without my skin falling off.  NOT pleasant.
3.  I'm also allergic to anise.  I love the flavor but a round of nausea and vomiting isn't worth it.
4.  I'm actually pretty disorganized.  My desk is organized chaos... but I know where things are.
5.  I could easily be a vegetarian but I live in a home with three avowed omnivores who won't give up their meat.
6.  I have three college degrees.  One undergrad degree and two graduate degrees. I'm also on my third career.
7.  I love to travel and have been to Europe and the Philippines when I was younger.
8.  I lived on a dairy farm in western New York (near Attica) for 6 months when I was in high school.
9.  I took 10 years of piano lessons and would LOVE to get a piano if I could just figure out where to put it.
10.   I waited until I was over 30 to have children. Even though our oldest is now 16 (almost 17!) we will celebrate out 25th anniversary in May.  My family had given up on us ever having children.  Then we had three.  Go figure.  We just waited until the time was right- well, at least better.

Now for the hard part.  I'm supposed to pass this on.  I always HATE having to choose because there are so many bloggers out there that deserve this.  But, if I have to choose one, I'm going to have to go with Erin at Garden Now, Think Later.  She demonstrates tremendous style and composure. I'm not sure I could have survived having a hubby deployed overseas and being left home with two active boys to tend house and garden on my own- at least not with my sanity still intact.  My hat is off to her.  Maybe some of her organizational skill will eventually rub off.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little link love

I've had a couple people ask me, both here and IRL about J16's art work.  I thought I'd give you a link to her blog.  It has been inactive for a while but she just decided to restart it, as her 'business' website isn't done yet.
I hope you enjoy her life Inside the Box.
She is hoping to go to school for Graphic Design and is quite talented with computer graphics as well as drawing.

Girls day out

J16 and I ended up having a sort of girls day out today.  It started off as a trip to the DMV to get her replacement permit.  She needs to get in driving time so I let her drive on all the errands I had to run.  Bird seed at one store, dog and cat food and a few stock up items at the grocery store... the usual Saturday stuff. Then, when we were at the grocery store V calls.  He has been having trouble with 'winter legs'- you know - that horribly dry skin that happens in the winter.  Anyway, he asked us to go downtown to The Soap Opera, a small shop that specializes in bath and body needs, with many products made by/for them or locally made.  There is a lotion that we used to get often for his legs in the winter but he hasn't needed it in years- I can't touch it because it has lanolin in it which gives me dermatitis.
So, we went downtown.  While we were there, we stopped for lunch (Mmm, french onion soup..) and stopped in at the library so J16 could replace her library card.  We also checked out a couple of other shops and the newish bakery/health/grocery store downtown where we picked up some organic spinach, hummus and some tea.  All in all a lovely afternoon.
I am so thankful that at 16, she is still willing to be seen with me in public and actually enjoys having lunch and shopping together.  We have frightfully similar taste in many things so it isn't a chore for either of us.  I am well aware that our relationship is definitely among the minority of mother-daughter relationships and for that- I'm grateful.  I guess I've done something right along the way.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Poor Sweetie

Poor J16.  What a horrible day.  Of course, being hormonal didn't help but she really did have a crappy day.  First and foremost, she has apparently lost her wallet.  She knows she had it yesterday afternoon as they have to show their permits to the driver's education instructor before they can drive.  But, somehow, it has vanished.  She has searched her book bag and room.  We searched the living room, the car and the garage.  We even drove back to the school at 530 pm to check it out.  Fortunately since there was an event at school tonight, it was open.  She didn't find it in the room where she was waiting for us to pick her up from driver's ed and a janitor was even nice enough to let her into the main office to check the lost and found.  No luck.
Of course, the DMV is closed on Mondays and she is set to drive again on Tuesday.  Fortunately, they are open for a few hours tomorrow morning so guess where we will most likely be.  In addition to her permit, she had her school ID, several gift cards, her international black belt certification card and some cash.  sigh....  The gift cards she had at least registered online already so there is hope for those.  But really, we aren't holding out much hope.
To top off the day, we went to refill her birth control prescription (yes, I know, I cover my ears and say LALALALALA- although she uses it for regulation as much- or more- than anything else) and they told us they didn't have any.  Of course- all this got put off until the last minute and she needs it TOMORROW. Fortunately, the store in Coralville (maybe 10 miles?) had some and was able to fill her prescription.  We ended up driving all over town this evening but got her prescription and the few groceries we needed (and a really great deal on grapefruit- 18 lb for $5!).  The whole wallet thing was discovered because I was initially going to have her drive to the drug store.  At least it was discovered tonight rather than Tuesday, right as she was to produce her permit for the teacher before she drives for class.  She is a bit calmer.  We had time to talk in the car and I think I was able to convince her that it isn't the end of the world.  Not much anyway.
I hope your day went better.  Mine was great before all this happened.
Oh, and J16 was also complaining that she had an ink splot on a drawing she is working on for class and had to work on salvaging the piece.  It's one that she is hoping to enter in a juried art show and potentially sell so she was a bit upset about that to start the day.

But tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orders are in

I finalized my lists and ordered my seeds this evening. I ordered from Baker Creek and Cook's Garden A few new things... but I'll keep you guessing until planting time ;-)
Not much going on here.  We have entered the mid-winter doldrums.  Blah.
The weather has been cold and kind of dank but not much snow- not like folks in the eastern US.
Justine and I started belly dancing classes again.  This time on Sunday afternoons (much better since she has driver's ed on Thursdays)  We are taking the level one class- like we did last time- and- get this- the instructor asked us both if we would like to take the level 2 class as well.  She seems to think that we're up for it.  The level 2 choreography is quite challenging.  I'm definitely going to have to practice!  There will be a recital in April for us to 'strut our stuff'.
I13 is working on selecting his classes for his freshman year of High school.  Ack!  That just drives home that J16 will be a senior!!!!  I don't know if I'm ready for that one.  She brought home the information about registering for the ACT in April and has started to bring home college financial aid packets as well.  She is looking at schools in Minneapolis, Boston and in Pennsylvania (Kutztown University- where V's sister is a professor).  Nowhere close to home.
Our friend Mike will be coming up to visit from Missouri sometime in the next month or so. He has told V that he will bring along his laser transit/level for us to use when installing cabinets.  Of course- after using one, V will probably want one of his own.  Men and their toys.
It seems to me that there was something else I was going to say but now it totally escapes me.  Oh well, it must have not been that important.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, Phooey

I had some disappointing news today.  I got news about my request to reduce my work hours.  It wasn't exactly a no... but it was a "While we understand and support your request... blah, blah, blah".  The upshot is that I will be able to reduce my hours at some point in the future, for now, I have to wait.   With one of our therapists set to retire at the end of May, administration is unwilling to let me reduce my hours until her replacement has been hired.  They are worried that my reduction in hours will jeopardize patient care if we are unable to fill her position in a timely manner.
So, I have to wait, and the likelihood of this happening by spring planting is slim to none.  But, one bonus, they are now able to advertise the new position as a 60% position instead of the 50% that will be vacant.  We are trying to advocate for hiring a full time therapist, which would allow us to expand the services we offer as well as provide service on holidays- not that I WANT to work holidays but we know it's coming...
However, we aren't holding our breath on that one in these times of budget crunches.

But, in better news.  V mailed in his book contract today.  He has to get on the ball now.  He has to have the photos and illustrations ready by the end of May and the finished manuscript in June.  He was whining a bit about having to set up a calendar/schedule for himself so he can keep on top of all his projects.  Poor guy- he has to actually live by deadlines.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Fun Saturday

One nice thing about having a party- it is a reason to clean the house.  Not that we don't clean normally but sometimes you need something to motivate you to do things that tend to slack off- like dealing with the recycling of bottles, really cleaning the counters and sorting through that pile of papers/magazines/stuff that accumulates.  
We started the day with a good breakfast before getting to work straightening up.  Below is just one more reason I LOVE getting local, not factory farmed eggs:

I mean, really, what factory farmed operation would include this monster in its box?  It was HUGE!!!  The box barely closed over it.  V ate it for breakfast and it had a double yolk- and it was probably about the size of two 'regular' eggs.  Poor chicken.....

We hosted our second annual sledding party this afternoon.  We didn't have quite as many people as last year- I think a consequence of having it on Saturday afternoon rather than Sunday. (I think there were more conflicts for people on Saturday afternoon)  But still, we had 5 families show up.  I13's friend Nikki came over as well.  It was fun- apart from our children and Nikki- all the children here were 6 and under with the youngest about 2.
 Getting ready to go.  A friendly push is always welcome...
 Toasting marshmallows in January and having s'mores.  Mmmmm.....
Checking out the slopes!
Everyone who came asked if we would be hosting again next year.  Most likely, we will.  This is fun for us as well and pretty easy to host.  Starting the fire and setting up the seating around it was probably the most labor intensive.  Otherwise, apart from cleaning up (which needed done regardless) I baked some cookies, warmed some apple cider in the crock pot and supplied hot chocolate mix, hot water and s'mores ingredients.  Pretty low key.  And J16 thinks she may have scored a babysitting job.  The littlest girl (Annie) was getting too cold (It was low 20's) so she stayed inside with J16 for a while and her mom was impressed with how well Justine interacted with her so got her phone number.
I am sad to say that we did have an injury on the slopes today, though.  Two dads were sled racing down the hill and crashed into each other.  One ended up with a snow burn on his chin.  Nothing too major but we used it as a teaching point for the children to be careful.  Leave it to the dads to get injured!  LOL!!

I hope you all had as great a Saturday as I did.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A little shriek of terror!

Ack!  We just ordered all our new cabinets and countertops for the kitchen.  Breathe.......  breathe.....  breathe....  I've never spent that much money on one room before!  I was somewhat prepared for the damages but it still takes my breath away.  By waiting until there was a sale, we ended up saving just over $3000 on the combination of cabinets and counters and the sink base and new sink were free.  But, it's still a huge chunk of money- I'm glad we set aside some from the sale of the old house for this.  At least this is the last BIG project in the house (except for replacement windows which will be done piecemeal).
We should have cabinets and counters here by mid to late February so we will have time to check them for damage and get any replacements on things that aren't correct.  We're plotting the plan of action for the total kitchen gut and remodel coming up in March.  Stay tuned for more plans to come....
Now that the order is in, I can start giving some thought to how we will eat without a kitchen for a week or so....  I see lots of use of my crockpot, microwave and electric skillet.  And many sandwiches for lunch.  I definitely don't want to rely on take out (although some Thai food sounds good).

I'm such a Mom.

Do I spoil my children?
This morning, it was a frosty 14 below zero outside.  That's air temps- not counting the wind chill.  I didn't really want the children to have to stand outside to wait for the bus in temps like that.
When I was a child, riding the bus to and from school, the bus would stop at the end of the drive, honk and wait for us to board on really cold days.  Since my children are being picked up ON the highway- the buses stop traffic on a state highway to pick them up- the buses do NOT wait.  If the kids are not waiting by the road, the bus will not stop- so they have to go out early to be there on time.
Being off work and with the cold temps this morning, I spoiled the kids a bit.  I pulled the car out of the garage to the end of the drive and let them wait in the car until they could see their bus crest the top of the hill.  V thinks I was being too soft.  I think it was the smart thing to do- rather than have them stand out there for 5 minutes waiting.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still plugging along

Whew!  Where has the week gone! It has sure been busy here.  We've finalized the kitchen designs and will go tomorrow to order our cabinets. EEK!  I'm hoping it will look as good in real life as it does in my imagination!  After we order, we will have about 4 weeks wait for the cabinets.  That should give us plenty of time since we plan installation in mid March.  I'm not sure what is happening with the counters yet- that isn't my assignment! LOL!  Those may end up being the most expensive part of the kitchen- possibly even more than the cabinets- we'll see.  We will be getting three separate custom counters: one for the main L of the kitchen, one for the island and we are building a separate small bar area on the North wall. It should look great when we're finished.  But, we have to get there first.
I've got tomorrow off since I worked last weekend.  But it won't be a day of rest.  In addition to getting the cabinets squared away, I've got to straighten up the place a bit for the sledding party that we will be hosting on Saturday afternoon.  I've got to make sure I've got enough apple cider and hot cocoa and probably will bake some cookies.  It's supposed to be COLD here tomorrow through the weekend.  Hopefully it won't be too windy so we can build a bonfire outside to warm little sledders (and bigger parents).
If you're in the area- stop by on Saturday afternoon (1-4) for some good sledding, good food and warm drinks.  I might even let you sit on my new couch.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I have to submit a recipe??!!

I'm participating in a chili cook-off on the 30th.  It's a fundraiser sponsored by our church.  I've taken chili to church functions before- although my chili has been deemed by some "not suitable to be served to Lutherans".  I make my chili spicy!
I picked up the rules yesterday.  And they say that I have to submit a recipe!!  I don't use a recipe.  It is never the same twice.  But, I can give them an approximation. So, today I'm making a batch of chili and measuring what I put into it.  Of course, I'll have to specify that these are home grown, home canned tomatoes: one quart of sauce, one quart of diced tomatoes;  frozen diced hot peppers, a home-smoked dried chipotle, locally raised grass fed beef, red and black beans, onion, garlic and spices.
I have to submit at least 4 quarts of "competition chili" that will be judged on flavor, texture, consistency, spice/taste and aroma.  There will be prizes for Best Overall, Most Original, Hottest, , Best Tasting, and Best Vegetarian.  I was thinking about submitting a vegetarian chili but V wants me to add beef.  The scoring is 50% from the judges, 50% popular vote.  There will be up to 20 competitors.  As of yesterday, we were up to 16.
Wish me luck.

Snowy day waffles

It is a snowy day today.  The children didn't have school- it was already scheduled off for the MLK holiday- and I didn't have to go to work, either.  J16 was supposed to have a drive this morning with her driver's ed instructor but the teacher called and cancelled.  We've got a couple of inches of snow on the ground already and now it's changed over to sleet.  Ick.  I'm just glad we don't have to go out in it.  And, this is giving us some more snow on the hill for sledding.  We're hosting the second annual sledding party for our church on Saturday so we've been hoping for some more snow.
But, being a slow, snowy day, I decided to make waffles for breakfast.  This is something I try to do periodically on weekends and then I freeze the left over waffles for the children to have for breakfast during the week.  Much better than the frozen grocery store waffles you can get.
I thought I'd share my recipe for the children's favorite- that I made this morning:
Chocolate chip waffles!
I'm going to give you the recipe that I actually use- it is doubled and 'tweaked' from the original recipe- that wasn't for chocolate chip waffles at all.

3 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (either fine or coarse ground is fine- I like the texture of coarse ground)
2 T baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separated
3 1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
10 T butter, melted
Mini-chocolate chips (about a cup- I never measure)

Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside. I start the whites whipping in my stand mixer and usually by the time I've mixed the other ingredients, they are nicely whipped.
Blend dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix together milk, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla- beat to break up the egg yolks.  Add the wet ingredients to dry and stir together.  
Once the batter isn't too lumpy, add mini chocolate chips.  I don't measure but it is about a cup.  You can use more or less as you prefer.
Finally, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Bake in your waffle iron per its directions.  

Warning- this makes LOTS of waffles- probably 2 1/2 to 3 dozen- I don't think I've ever counted- of course with teenagers around, I'm usually lucky if I have a dozen to freeze. You can easily make only half a batch of these if you have smaller stomachs in your house.
These have a bit more sugar than usual for waffles and with the vanilla and chocolate chips added in- it makes then think they're getting a treat for breakfast- even though they're not really that sweet.  I have also made it with slightly less sugar- It is really a rather forgiving recipe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gothsta- it's what's for dinner!!!!

A total impulse buy- not at all local or sustainable: Italian pasta colored with squid ink.

 But it does make for a fun dinner!  Check out J16's new hair color!

Kitchen obsessed

Sorry for the silence.  I've been obsessed with kitchen planning.  We've got a plan for the cabinets, now we just need to decide on a brand and where to order from.  Any suggestions or warnings?
We were looking at Mid Continent cabinets that we can either order from a local dealer or order online and do some extra work to get the details we want.  Or, there are Omega cabinets that are made locally in Waterloo. Or... KraftMaid, or Diamond or Schrock- although we're leaning away from them due to hearing lots of complaints about poor quality.   Too many choices!
And don't even get me started on the counter tops....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I got my seeds sorted this afternoon and started my planting calendar.  One thing I noticed is that my seed starting will begin right around when the children have spring break.  Well, thinking of spring break got me started thinking about our project that we have planned for that week: Our kitchen remodel. Thinking that if we are going to order cabinets for the kitchen, we had better get started since we have just two months to go.  So, I sat with the catalogue and the kitchen measurements.  Eek. I never thought it would be this hard. There are too many decisions.
I've never been able to plan a kitchen from the ground up.  Our current cabinets were built in place and are anything but standard size.  It's fun to dream (and then pare it down to reality!) I've got a rough idea for the base cabinets and most of the wall cabinets.  I can plan the cabinets but I'll leave it to someone else to figure out the counters.  We've got the cabinet style selected and our countertops and paint colors:  maple cabinets, black granite counters and the walls will be a forest green below the chair rail and yellow above.  Now on to selecting the flooring.  This will end up costing us a chunk of change but we've been saving a portion of the old house sale $ for this (after the well, septic and insulation)  And part will still go for new windows.
The next step is to go to the planning center at the store where they have the computer program that lets you lay it all out and make sure it fits before you order.  Maybe this weekend after I work Saturday.
In something totally unrelated.  K10 and I were talking as he did the dishes after dinner this evening and he evidently had been complaining to his friends at school about having chores to do.  Evidently none of his friends have any kind of chores that they have to do around the house.  And he said that his friends thought it was weird "the way we live"- meaning that the children have assigned chores.  We talked about it and decided that he was learning things that his friends won't know when they get older.  I, of course, was appalled that his friends don't have to help around the house at all.  If they don't learn now, what will they do when they are older??


Ugh,  I wasn't able to avoid the stomach malady that has been making its rounds at work.  I left work early yesterday and stayed home again today.  I am feeling a bit better but not well enough that I feel motivated to go to work.  That, and it was snowing and I just couldn't face getting out of bed.  So, I slept until 10:15- definitely a sign that I'm sick since I can never usually sleep that long.  I ate some toast a while ago and that went well so maybe I'll move up to some soup for lunch.
I spent some time last evening making up my seed order wish list.  I'm hoping to go through my seed collection and see what I've got this afternoon.  Then, it's on to the final list.  I'm planning, in addition to my order with Baker Creek, to place an order with Cook's Garden.  I had such good luck with the broccoli blend I got from them in the past that I want more.  That, and I want to try their rainbow cauliflower mix.
I'm debating if I want to plant the galeux d'eysines again this year or if I want to try something a bit smaller.  These were really tasty but the size was a bit overwhelming.  I'll have to see...  I also want to be careful about cross pollination with my squash varieties.  I've got a couple of varieties in mind.....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Productive days

This weekend has been busy and productive.  Yes, it was all mostly house maintenance stuff but it's nice to have it all done.  For the first time in I don't know how long, there are no clothes in the laundry baskets and no piles of dirty clothes waiting to be washed.  WOW!!  And the dishes are all done, the floors vacuumed, the holiday decorations all put away and, the biggest, most amazing of all:  The shop/pole barn now has heat!!
There was a 'Suntube' heating system installed in there when we purchased the house but we had never turned it on.  Since the former owners had let their chickens roost in the shop, the system was all covered in chicken sh*t.  That and it wasn't hung very safely from the rafters.  And, it didn't have an outside intake.  But, V has been working on it and this afternoon installed the fresh air intake and fired it up.  It runs on natural gas but is actually an infrared heat system.  And it works!!  V was actually able to warm it up enough to apply the finish coat of varnish for the entertainment center shelves that he's still working on.  We're going to use it sparingly since the shop isn't insulated and we don't want to waste all that heat going out through the steel building walls and roof.  But, if we are able to work out there on select days in the winter it will definitely speed up things in the house.  We want to eventually install a wood stove out there and were looking at the few old stoves in my parent's barn when we were down there at Christmas but they would all take LOTS of work to get them operational again. (although I would LOVE to have the old wood burning kitchen range that is out there!!)
The new chore rotation is working out well for the children.  We will enter into week two tomorrow and they will move onto a different set of chores for the week.  Poor K10- You would have thought I was torturing him when he had to vacuum this afternoon.  Of course, the rule is, if you do a really bad job (hoping that you won't have to do it because you do it so badly) you just have to do it again until you learn to do it right. None of the chores in the rotation are things that they haven't had to do before, it's just now there is a weekly assignment so we don't have conflicts over who's turn it is.
J16 was at a friend's birthday party last night and learned that a different friend of hers who was there has chickens.  But, amazingly enough, they don't eat the eggs.  I'm not sure why they have chickens then.  Evidently the mom has trouble eating eggs from chickens she knows,  the daughter (J16's friend) doesn't like eggs and the dad doesn't eat them due to cholesterol problems.  So, there may be negotiations in the future to obtain eggs from them.  Woot!!  Fresh eggs without the chickens.  I'll still be working on V about chickens for us but for the mean time this would be great.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thinking seeds...

I've been perusing the seed catalogs.  Dreaming of Spring when it's 14 outside.   I'm making a few selections.  I think I'll be placing an order through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year.  We want to try the baby corn (you know, the kind you get in stir fry) since we all love it and I'm guessing that it could be canned or frozen for winter use.  I've also spotted a melon that I'm curious about.  And.. I'm sure the list will grow before I actually place the order.  Not that I NEED any seeds.  I've got plenty of seeds left from last year.  But......

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A cause for celebration!

Woot!!  This evening we popped the cork on the bubbly we didn't drink New Year's Eve.  ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT!!  Why the celebration, you may ask?
Here's the scoop:

V's book proposal has been accepted by the publisher. Woo Hoo!!  Now he just has to write the thing and have it ready for an October release.  Of course, he expects to make enough money to maybe buy a beer but, heck, it's a book deal.

In more immediate work news for him, his friend has been named director of advertising for the business she was out here visiting a while ago and is sending more freelance work his way.  This means that things are definitely looking up for me cutting my work hours.  If he can get his freelance business really up and running maybe I can go down to 80% someday in the future...  or, more likely not....  we still have three children to educate.

Monday, January 3, 2011

January Harvest?

Yup, we had a harvest.  Ok, Ok, it was only 4 beans but still, we harvested 4 beans.  And with 3 steps from the window to the stove, they were the freshest cooked beans in history.  I added them in with the rest of the veggies in last night's soup.  Hmmm... tasty.  And another harvest (of a sort) tonight.  I was making Enchanted Broccoli Forest this evening for dinner and it called for dried mint.  Well, I don't have any dried mint in my kitchen (unless I wanted to open a tea bag).  But, thinking about what was growing just over the porch rail last summer, I grabbed a flashlight and headed outside.  Freeze-dried mint still on the stalks in the kitchen garden.  Probably not ideal but, you know what, it smelled heavenly and worked well.
This evening was the first installment of Meatless Mondays.  We have always eaten vegetarian meals sporadically but I'm trying to be much more intentional to start out this year, with the hope to work up to at least 2 veg meals a week.  But, it will be a challenge to sell to my solidly omnivore sons.  I13 liked tonight's meal well enough, K10 wasn't too thrilled.  But, I think that next time I'll not use the juice of an entire lemon to drizzle with butter over the top- it was a bit tart in spots.
So, I'm going to be scouring my vegetarian cookbooks for meals I can sell to the entire family.  J16 will be easy and V is usually game for anything I put on the table.  But the boys....
I struggle sometimes with their food preferences.  While K10 isn't necessarily a picky eater, there are certain things that he has NEVER liked,  For example- potatoes of any sort.  He will barely even eat french fries!   I mean, really, what 10 year old doesn't like french fries!?   And he doesn't really like tomatoes/sauce either.  I13 has his own food "issues".  He is getting better as he gets older but he has always had issues with certain textures of food- he really dislikes bread with "stuff" in it which the rest of us adore.  He is also generally reluctant to try something new- but again, he's getting better.  Neither boy is too thrilled with dried beans- except as refried beans.  But, we're going to be working on that this winter....
Time to dig into my vast cookbook collection.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Looking ahead

I've been looking ahead for the new year, thinking about what I want to accomplish.  I've got a tentative list going.  I'll share it here but I'm sure I will add to it as the year goes on.


  • Kitchen Remodel (scheduled for March- oh what fun we will have on Spring Break this year!)
  • Finish Upstairs Bath- we need to wait until it is warm enough to cut tile outside with the tile saw (water cooled blade)
  • Complete the deck- phase 2 is planned we just need to do it.
  • Construct herb spiral - this got postponed from last year due to late septic construction.
  • Build 3 bin composter
  • Build greenhouse
  • Exercise for 30 minutes 5x week.
  • at least 30 minutes of "me time" each week for crafting, dreaming, etc.
  • Visit my parents at least once a month- they aren't getting any younger and we were so busy last year...
  • Learn a new skill
  • Work on cutting my work hours to 90%.
Domestic matters
  • Set up new chore rotation for the children
  • Aim for 2 vegetarian meals/week.  This means getting more creative so boys will eat them.
  • Try for some local components at every meal.  I've tried putting percentages of food and I've tried to focus on specific local meals in the past. I've had trouble with those.  But, I think if I try to incorporate local foods into every meal... That will be easier.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm not expecting to be able to do every meal,  Breakfast is often just cereal and coffee (although Quaker Oats is "local"- we don't eat a lot of their stuff)
  • Keep up the usual R's- Reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.
Like I said, I'll most likely be adding/modifying these as the year progresses.  I'll have to try to remember to post updates on how I'm doing- if only to keep me honest!