Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cold, rainy Sunday

It has been cold, damp and dank here.  Only into the upper 40's and rainy.  It's that cold, bone-chilling weather that makes you want to curl up with a warm quilt... or work on one!  While J17 has been working on her prom dress, I've been working on her Steampunk quilt.  I've got a post up over at Dreams of Empires complete with pictures.  Even V declared it pretty awesome.  Of course, he preceded that comment with "It turned out better than I thought it would".  Gee, Thanks.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

This cake is NOT a lie!

I did something today that I've never done before!
 I made an Angel Food Cake from scratch!!  A full dozen egg whites went into this baby!  And with all the yolks I made a chocolate custard/mousse.  Since it is a hybrid thing, V is calling it a Chocolate Elk!  The Elk is still in the fridge- but this evening, we had a fabulous dessert (we very, very rarely have dessert!):
Homemade Angel Food Cake with freshly whipped cream and fresh strawberries.  Absolutely heavenly!!

Independence Days 2012- week 12

I'm a bit late with this post.  Normally I do these on Fridays but last night I was busy.  First, J17 picked me up from work and we went to the fabric store to pick up a better coordinating border fabric for her quilt that I've got in my stash and to run a couple of errands.  Then off to home where I needed to get started baking.  It's my week to provide bread for church this Sunday so I needed to get that made so I can drop it off Saturday morning.  Bread rising and dinner made, I had a few other chores to do so writing a blog post wasn't on the list.   But today, before anyone else gets up, I'm out here writing before I go into whirling dervish mode again today.
But what has this week seen for the IDC?
Plant something- hmm, no seeds but I did manage to transplant my tomatoes and a few herbs and peppers.
Harvest something- chives, walking onions, oregano, lambs quarters, spinach and eggs (45 this week).
Preserve something- Not a thing except eggs in pasta for the freezer.
Waste not- The usual, recycling, composting and scraps for the chickens.  I did use strips of cut up cottage cheese cartons for plant labels in my little transplants.
Want not- Made some pasta for the freezer to use up eggs.  I even had to break into my 25 lb package of flour! I'm not sure it counts that while J17 and I were at the fabric store I picked up a few remnants for the stash.  Our store occasionally has a deal where all the remnants are 50% off so that always makes it tempting.  I'm also going to count the work on the herb spiral here.  It is working to build a better structure for growing our own.
Eat the food- We had pasta from the freezer one night this week.  Already eating up all that hard work from last Sunday.  Used roasted squash from the freezer for making pasta.
Build Community Food systems- Stopped at the last of the winter markets last weekend.  I do really need to sell some eggs at work- we're getting overloaded.  Of course, we want to try to make mini-meringues this weekend to see if this is something feasible for J17's grad party.
Skill up- Not a thing new.

Seems like a lackluster week but we're in that odd part of the year when it's spring and the early stuff is in and growing but I can't really do much with the main season stuff.  That and I've been preoccupied with other things. Still working on that elusive balance thing- I actually think I've been doing pretty well with that this week and even though they don't fit into these categories very well, I feel good about my week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Strange looks

I have to laugh! I got a very strange look from a guy this afternoon.  Today, V picked me up from work and we made a trip to our 'favorite' local home store to pick up some concrete.  As we shopped, we engaged in our usual playful banter/bickering.  We checked out, I pulled the van around to the loading area and we began loading in our eight 80 lb. bags of concrete mix.  As I put one into the van, I remarked that they were heavy.  The next bag I was carrying, V attempted to take from me.  "I can do this, I'm not a weakling" I protested.  V reminded me that I had just complained that they were heavy and I retorted "I didn't say I couldn't do it, I just said that they're heavy!"  At that point, the guy who had pulled in next to us, gave me an odd look, glanced at the bags of concrete loaded into the van, nodded and walked away.  I'm not quite sure what to make of it but I thought it was funny!!  It seems that most guys aren't used to seeing women hauling large heavy items. Hmm....

In other randomness...  I got the garden tilled this evening.  Well, almost.  I ran out of gas with only about nine square feet left.  I think I'll do it by hand because it's not worth the effort.
And, an amazing development!!  My sacrificial cucumbers that I planted long ago when it was really warm are finally up! It must have gotten too cool for them to germinate quickly.  But, that is just fine as hopefully now we are past the freezes that plagued us for a bit not long after I planted them.  And I noted while I was out there that my potatoes are beginning to poke through.  Hoorah!!

Tonight J17 is at the City High Film Festival.  She is one of the co-MCs for the event and she has been working really, really hard for the past few weeks to get ready for this.  She will be out until late.  Fortunately, they don't have school tomorrow so she can sleep in.  But, as long as it isn't raining, V has jobs planned for the children tomorrow.
We've got rain forecast for the weekend.  Maybe that's a good thing.  I've got lots of inside stuff to do and J17 still hasn't finished her prom dress (prom is on May 5th!)  I've suddenly realized that I've only got about three weeks before J17's graduation party.  Ack!!  I'm not ready!!!!  I've got a wall in the living room that still needs painted, the living/dining rooms look like a tornado hit and I've got to finalize the menu.  I'm doing all the catering myself so I've got to get on top of this!! Also, in just over two weeks, J17 turns into J18!  A legal adult.  I'm not ready for THAT either.  Isn't she still only five???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thinking and Rethinking

THINGS have been in the air lately.  I've been thinking (you thought you smelled something burning, didn't you!) and rethinking my plan to open a shop on Etsy.  I'm not sure if you have heard of the uproar that has been going on over there, but check it out. I'm pretty sure I can NOT buy into a system that doesn't play fair with it's sellers and seems to be rewriting the rules to cover their butts.  I finally gave up on reading the comments on the thread. I only made it through about page 30 (of currently 80+ and growing) of comments.  People are ANGRY!  I've heard of many artists who are closing out their shops and looking for a new venue and heard that Etsy has shut down shops for some more outspoken individuals.  For more of the backstory that Etsy doesn't want to tell you, check out Regretsy for some fun- they are often crude and irreverent but honest.  (There is more than one post there on this subject so I picked what I feel is the most telling for the link.)  Still, the whole mess has left me with enough of a bad taste in my mouth that I no longer want to use Etsy.  I'll be looking for a different venue for setting up a shop when I've got a few items made.
In other thinking of crafty type things... the fabric for J17's quilt arrived yesterday (along with a few 'extras').
Love it!  But I have a problem.  Since it is that lovely, rich, mahogany brown it has much more of a red tone than any of the other fabrics in my stash that I was hoping to use.  Hmm...  I'll have to put some thought into this one.  But look at this:
 eQuilter sent me a lovely handwritten thank you on my invoice- complete with a sticker!  Aww... how sweet.  And, 2% of the purchase price goes to charity.  Pretty cool!

Last night after dinner, the boys and I did a little work:
 We filled in the herb spiral.  Well... mostly filled in.  This is the base layer of soil from our pile that is mostly clay. I'm hoping for a nice rain to settle this and then I'll put some nice topsoil on the top before I plant.
My new little sage plant is waiting to take its place at the top of the spiral.

I'm still thinking...  I'll be back later this week....

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Manic Monday

I did it again.  My day was jam packed busy!  But before you marvel in amazement, know that I loved every minute of it.  When I reduced my work hours, it was because I didn't have time to do all the things I wanted to do in my life.  So, I'm taking full advantage of my days off and cramming in as much as I can.  I still don't have time for EVERYTHING I want to do- but I'm trying my best.
So, today while in whirling dervish mode I managed to get seedlings transplanted- well most of them.- I ran out of pots and space... and many of my peppers are still quite tiny so they can live in the 72 cell cubes for a bit longer.  That is a task that seems to have taken me most of the morning.  It's amazing how the number of seedlings seem to grow exponentially when you're repotting them.  But I've got the tomatoes for me, for my friend Jim and for the plant sale all potted up.  I've also got tarragon, marjoram, thyme, summer savory, clary sage, and lots of basil started.
Outside, I planted my broccoli and cabbage plants into the garden and got three little beds dug for new planting areas along the barn and chicken coop/run.  I'm planning to plant luffa gourds to vine up the west side of the barn, vining nasturtiums along the chicken coop to shade the west wall from the afternoon sun and sunflowers along the west side of the chicken run- also to provide shade.  We discovered last summer that, being on the west side of the pole barn, the coop and run get baked in the sun in the afternoons so I'm hoping to use some plant shade to keep it a little cooler in there this year.
Inside, besides transplants, I did some laundry, made granola bars so K12 has snacks for School of the Wild, cooked up some chicken for a few meals this week and made dinner.  We had chicken enchilada casserole for dinner this evening and I've got broth with a little chicken in it in the fridge for later this week.
Now, I'm tired, but it's a good tired.  It's time to watch Eureka and unwind.  Tomorrow it's back to work.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A busy Sunday

Earth day started off rainy and cool here.  Nothing going on outside this morning.  So, I delved deep into the Pasta Mines of Moria.  V has long joked that when I'm heavily into canning that I'm firing up the Canning Fires of Mordor so for pasta we had to have something else.  Yes, we are that geeky.  But seriously... today was pasta day.
I have decided that 4 batches of pasta is about all I can stand to make in one session- after that, it isn't fun anymore!  Today I made 2 batches with lambs quarters puree and 2 with a roasted butternut squash/onion/rosemary blend from the freezer.  Three batches went into the freezer and we had squash fettucini for dinner.  Mmmm... with an garlic, herb and cream sauce... delicious!  And a dozen eggs are now out of the fridge.
After the pasta marathon, I cleaned the kitchen since I made quite a floury mess.  Then J17 and I ran a few errands.
While I made pasta V and the children worked to re-place Sleepytime Bridge over one of the creeks since it had washed out in the storm last weekend.
I honestly don't know where the rest of the day went.  I had hoped to get my little seedlings transplanted today but I didn't have enough potting soil to do it (that was one of the things J17 and I picked up on our errands). I do like to use potting soil because there is less possibility for disease and weed infestation- especially since many of these seedlings are going for the plant sale.  Speaking of infestation... I discovered, much to my dismay, that I had aphids on my little seedlings.  Ack!!  I'm not sure the plants are big enough to risk spraying with anything- even something benign- so I used a low-tech solution.  I rolled tiny bits of painter's tape and used it as a wand to act as a sticky trap for the aphids.  Did you know that aphids stick really, really well to painter's tape when you touch them with it?  I'm sure I didn't get them all but I put a significant dent in their population.
Tomorrow is my Manic Monday.  On tap is seedling transplanting, digging new beds by the barn and coop and a trip into town to have some legal paperwork finalized for V.  Soon his whole legal saga will be done and I can share a bit of the stress we've been going through for the past few months.  If the soil is dry enough in the garden I'm hoping to plant out my little broccoli and cabbage seedlings as well.  We'll see, it is pretty wet out there.
Tomorrow K12 starts 'School of the Wild'.  This is a pretty cool thing in our district, I think.  Every year, the 6th grade class spends a week outside at our local nature center.  They get to explore prairies, swamps and woods.  They learn how to construct shelters for survival and learn a bit about wild edibles and wildlife.  Since they only have a 4 day school week this week (Friday is a day off for Midterm conferences) his class already had one day earlier this spring where they got to go to the Raptor Center where they rehabilitate and release birds of prey.  They got to watch an injured eagle be released back into the wild. Pretty cool stuff.  I wish we had something like this when I was growing up.  And his class has chickens!  They hatched out some eggs and have chicks in the classroom.  Evidently there is a chance that we will be able to 'adopt' one or more at the end of the school year since they have to go somewhere.  We'll see.  We've already got chickens so we'll let someone else have first choice.  Of course, K12 wants to bring home the one they've named Fabio.  Only if Fabio is a girl!
I do hope you all had a fabulous weekend.  Mine seems to have flown by!

Love your Mother

Happy Earth day everyone.
I know I'm preaching to the choir, but let's all be good stewards of what we've been given... not just today, but everyday.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The spiral takes shape

The rain held off for long enough today that I got to do some construction on the herb spiral.  I'm modifying my initial plans but I think this will be much more stable.
 We had one of our retaining wall blocks that had broken last fall during construction so I used it to support the center of the spiral so I didn't need to use so many bricks.
 The herb spiral begins to take shape
 Now I just need to fill in the dirt and add some topsoil.  There were a few more bricks added after that photo was taken.
While I was out with my camera I snapped a few photos of other things outside.
 I actually don't remember the name of these.  They were one that I picked up for a quarter at the end of the season two years ago.
And the freeze doesn't seem to have effected the peonies.
I did make it to the last of the winter farmer's markets today and found a lovely little sage plant.  What I did not get done is make pasta.  I was planning on it but then Roger and Sharon stopped by and we spent most of the afternoon chatting with them.  A distraction that was definitely worth the delay for pasta.  I did send them home with 2 dozen eggs which helped clear out the fridge some.
Oh, and I nearly forgot.  Yesterday was our 'farm-iversary'  We closed on this place in 2009.  Hard to believe we have been here for three years already.  We've come a long way but there is still so much to do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Independence Days 2012- week 11

I'm not sure if I've picked up a touch of whatever V has had, if I've got something entirely different or if I'm just exhausted but I woke up this morning- after 7.5 hours of sleep- feeling like I hadn't slept at all.  I've been dragging and achy with one of those 'behind the eyes' headache all day.  Work was brutally busy again today and once again, I ended up staying late. But now I'm off for three days so hopefully I can catch up on some rest... or not, knowing me....  I do plan to sleep in tomorrow morning.
It's Friday and you know what that means.  It's time for my Independence Days Update.
Plant something- I started some dill seeds.  That's about it.  It has been much too wet to work in the garden.  Counting the half inch of rain we got today we've had 4.3 inches of rain this week so things are pretty squishy out there.  I desperately need to repot my little tomato seedlings so that is on my short list for the weekend.
Harvest something- walking onions, chives, a little oregano and some spinach!!  Not much yet but, hey, it's April in Iowa.  We also got 44 eggs this week.
Preserve something- nope.  But I think tomorrow will be pasta making day.
Waste not- just the usual.  Nothing exciting here.
Want not- Hmm.... I can't really think of anything.  There haven't been any great sales at the store to stock up on anything.  I guess since this is the 'prepping' category, we had a good 'dry run' of bugging in on Saturday night when we had those intense storms go through. Everyone was calm and orderly heading to the basement.  Even unplugging electronics went fairly smoothly, although the boys need to get better at unplugging their computers faster.
Eat the food- Eggs. I really need to find some new egg-heavy recipes.  I did whip up some fresh pasta the other night for dinner.  From idea to plate in an hour.  Not too bad.  We had our little bit of spinach in salads.
Build community- nothing this week.  I didn't even sell any eggs at work.  But tomorrow is the last of the winter markets.
Skill up- not much new here, either.

This has been a bizarre week.  At least it seems like it.  It has been both really long and really short at the same time, if that makes any sense at all.  I know I was really busy but I can't quite recall at what...  I guess I should read my own blog, LOL!  

Now, since it's Friday night, I may just go have a little drink and fall asleep while watching a movie.

Oh, and if you're curious.. HERE is the link to the 'perfect' fabric I ordered for J17's quilt.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Not much

It has been pretty boring around here.  Not much to report.  The weather has been cool and kind of rainy so I haven't been able to do much outside.  sigh....
I did manage to get my quilt 'sandwiched' so I'm ready to start quilting.  Last night was spent on "family facial night", LOL!  Both boys have broken out terribly (I think this has to do with a combination of hormonal changes and lack of thorough facial hygiene!) so we spent time with mud masks.  While we were playing with mud, J17 and I decided to play along.  It's been a while since I did a full facial for myself.  It was pretty nice!
This evening, I was bad.  Well... not really, really bad.  I ended up working late, V isn't feeling well and went to bed soon after I got home, I was really not in a mood to cook (not usual for me!) and two of three children were whining for Chinese take out.  I gave in and J17 and I made a trip to our favorite local restaurant.  While we were waiting for our order, we had a lovely, lively conversation with the owners' daughter who was hanging out in the restaurant, ostensibly doing her homework.  She is a funny, gregarious third grader who had lots and lots of questions for J17 about high school.
After dinner, I was bad in a different way.  I placed an online order for some fabric.  I'm planning a quilt for J17 and managed to find just the right fabric.  Of course, I don't NEED fabric... but I need fabric!!  Gardening better start in earnest soon or I'm going to get MORE.  Of course... I need things to do on rainy days...  and the year is nearly a third over and I don't have any items ready for my dream shop.
This week has seemed to be really long. Work has been busy and the weather has been wet.  Probably sometime this weekend I'll be doing a pasta marathon since I've got lots of eggs in the fridge and it will still be too wet to work outside.  We got about an inch of rain today and it's raining again.  I just hope it doesn't turn into a wet spring like last year.

Ok... I'm tired and just rambling now.  Tomorrow will be an IDC update.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First greens of the season

And other Tuesday stream of consciousness ramblings.
Today I harvested spinach for salads.  Woo Hoo!!  Ok, I'll admit, there wasn't much of it and I combined it with some lettuce that I had purchased to have enough for our salads- but we had the first greens of the season from the garden.  I also used a walking onion so we had two things from the garden.  For us, having anything harvested in mid April is amazing.  Normally, this would be the time of year when I would be just starting to plant my early stuff.  But I've got spinach to harvest, the peas are up and I've got lettuce and little kohlrabi up out in the garden as well.  What a bizarre year.
I'm hoping that the soil dries up enough that I can work up the rest of the garden soon.  I've got lots and lots of little lambs quarters plants out there and, while I want to harvest some, I also want to till them back into the soil.  I also want to get my little broccoli plants and cabbage planted out soon but the soil is still a bit too wet after the nearly three inches of rain that we got over the weekend.  I did manage to get the onions weeded.  My goal for this gardening season is to work out in the garden for at least an hour a day after work unless it is raining.  Hopefully that way I can keep a better handle on the weeds this year. If it isn't raining tomorrow I'm going to try to dig the new beds by barn and chicken coop... or start laying out my herb spiral.

In sewing news.  J17 has asked for a quilt to take with her to college.  She wants a 'not quite twin sized' quilt for her bed.  She wants a steampunk theme with an airship.  So... I was working on the design for a central applique. If it's raining tomorrow after dinner maybe I'll try to 'sandwich' the celtic knot quilt so I can start the quilting process and get that out of the way before I start on something new.

Otherwise, I was back at work today after a 5 day break.  It was a busy day trying to get to know all the new patients who have come in while I've been off.  Work is always much more mentally draining than the physically draining work at home and it's a different kind of tired.  So it was nice to get out in the garden and weed.  I'm still working on this 'balance' thing. Maybe someday I'll figure it out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Manic Monday Montage

Ok, maybe it wasn't as much a manic Monday as I usually have.  It was actually a pretty laid back day.  I even took a nap on the couch downstairs.  It was cool and really, really windy outside and the sun didn't peek out until late afternoon so it wasn't a good day for anything outside.
I did manage to finish a quilt top this afternoon.  You can check it out at my other blog.  I made some crackers, did some laundry and made another trip to the home store to pick up more bricks, but otherwise, I did nothing all day.  It was great!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Damp days projects

LOL!  I usually think of 'dark days' projects for winter but the soggy conditions outside today made me think of 'damp days' projects.  J17 and I made a trip to the fabric store this afternoon after she decided earlier this week that she really doesn't like the way her mock-up of this year's prom dress was fitting (she has learned well why I tell her to make a trial run before she cuts her expensive dress fabric!!).  So, we went in search of a new pattern and fabric for the trial run of this one.  I'll have to post photos later.  It is a really cute 'retro' pattern from the 50's and is quite simple- but classy.  Even with prewashing the fabric she already has the dress cut out and about half finished this evening- it only has 5 pattern pieces!  So getting the final product completed by prom (May 5th) shouldn't be too difficult.  She is hoping to also make an 'accessory' so she can enter the scholarship contest that JoAnn Fabrics has for making your own prom dress.
I even pulled out a pattern and some fabric for a shirt for myself and got it cut out this evening.  It's been a while since I made anything for myself- it should be fun.
While we were out and about, J17 and I stopped and picked up bricks for the herb spiral. I'm guessing on how many I will need. I just hope it dries out enough in the near future that I can get started on construction before the sale ends next weekend. At the current sale price of $.29 per brick it isn't too bad cost-wise for this project. Unfortunately, the weather doesn't look like it will cooperate much.  Of course... I like playing in the mud!  At least the rain has 'settled' the original core pile of dirt so I won't have to worry about the bricks sinking too much.
Other than that, I've not got much.  Tomorrow is another Monday... I'll see how much I get done.

We're wet but fine

For anyone concerned-we aren't close to the locations in Iowa that had the tornados last night.  We did have a scary hour or so last night when the storm line moved through.  We were at the head of the bow echo (if you're familiar with those) so we had LOTS of wind and LOTS of rain.... 2.8 inches of rain.  2.25 of that came in about 45 minutes with strong winds and intense lightening.  The rain came out of the South, a direction we don't normally get driving rain from... so we re-discovered leaks that we thought we had fixed in the foundation.  Fortunately, nothing was damaged by the water coming into the basement and except for an extra load or two of towels in the wash, it wasn't too traumatic.
The rain was so driven by wind that it actually blew up under the chimney cap and we had water leaking out of the bottom of the chimney and it looks like a little rain blew under the roof vents in the chicken coop... but all in all, we fared well.  Not even any tree damage (thank goodness, we still have one downed tree from last year that we haven't touched).  But, sadly, my pile of dirt for my herb spiral is now a pile of mud  ;-)

If that's as bad as it gets... I'll take it and be thankful!

Hope others in the storm paths fared as well as we did!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A pile of dirt!

I was playing in the dirt today.  I made a big pile of dirt.  4 wheelbarrow loads of the stuff.  We're slowly whittling down the big dirt pile they left for us when they replaced the septic system.  We've got a few places to fill in the yard since it settled more over the winter again and we still need to move more to backfill behind the retaining walls.  But today, I moved dirt for my project.
This is the beginning of my herb spiral.  A pile of dirt on a 5 foot circle of layered newspapers to block the grass.
Hopefully tomorrow I will go pick up the bricks to construct the spiral.  I'm pretty excited about this project.  It has been on my list since we moved.  And I've got little plants on order to arrive in May so I'd better get it done.
 I think what took me longest to decide was where to put it. It is on the southeast corner of the house near the iris bed and one of the roses.  Not too far from the house from either the front porch or the deck.  Oosh, you can see how bad our lawn is in this photo!!
And while I was out working there.  I decided I need to do something with another area that has been sorely neglected:
The south wall.  Some previous owner's idea of landscaping was to put down landscaping fabric and gravel.  So far the only thing I've got planted in there is a clematis.  But that space is crying out for some edging, topsoil and plants... and the eradication of the masses of Creeping Charlie that are threatening to take over the world.  Let's see how I do before J17's party in mid May....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Independence Days 2012- week 10

Week 10 already!!  My, how time flies when you're having fun!
My conference yesterday was excellent.  It was on managing pain.  Always a good topic and the speaker was fun, which made the day go quickly. And he gave handouts with lots of good information- not just copies of his powerpoint slides.
The weather has been fickle. It got down to 26 on Tuesday night and Wednesday, while the temps didn't drop as cold, it was clear and calm and we had a much heavier frost.  Considering that, with the research I've done online, 25 degrees equals about 90% crop loss on apples, I'm thinking the harvest this year is toast.  If we had only had one cold night, that would be one thing, but this was our third or fourth sub freezing night since the apples started blooming.  Pah!  Today, it is cool and rainy.  Not that I'm complaining.  We desperately need the rain and the weather is giving both V and I a forced vacation from outside manual labor for the weekend- a much needed rest for these old bodies.
It is Friday, and that means it's time for my weekly Independence Days update.  I feel like I've been busy but I'm not sure how it will translate into the IDC categories.  But, that is one thing that I like about this not-really-a-challenge challenge- it helps me see how far I've come.
Plant something- got my potatoes in the ground before it started raining since it is supposed to rain off and on for the next 4 or 5 days. I opted to plant them before I had to play in the mud!  I also started some cucumber seeds in a pot the other day but they're not up yet. I do need to get my little tomatoes transplanted soon- they are getting to the stage where they will begin growing quickly and will need more room.  I'm reserving some plants for myself, some for our friend Jim and any left will go to the annual charity plant sale at church. I'm so glad we have been doing that plant sale. I'm really, really bad at 'thinning' perfectly good little plants.  Oh, and I also tried sticking the base from another celery stalk into a pot of dirt.  The one I did weeks ago is rooted and sending up little leaves- it's looking much better now that the box elder bugs have moved out of the house and aren't sucking the life out of it anymore.
Harvest something- chives, some oregano, walking onions and eggs.  50 eggs so far this week!  That number may go up a bit since it's only mid afternoon. I have collected 5 eggs so far today but there is still plenty of time for the girls to lay a couple more.  Twice this week we have gotten 9 eggs from 10 hens in a day!
Preserve something- nope.  I'll probably make some pasta this weekend sometime since I've got so many eggs but that will  count for next week.
Waste not- The usual: composted, recycled, scraps to chickens.  I've saved a few cottage cheese cartons to cut up to use for plant markers- especially for the plants that go to the plant sale.
Want not- Stocked up on sugar since there was a great sale at one of the local stores last week.  Today, V and I went to another local store and bought 10 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that they had on sale for $1.69/lb.  We repackaged it and popped it into the freezer.  V had fun with his package labeling skills again!
Eat the food-  Finally made homemade refried beans this week. I know it isn't difficult, I've just don't seem to have been able to organize myself well enough- and we had gotten lazy with the ease of opening a can.  But, we're out of canned refrieds and I've vowed to not buy any more.
Build community food systems-  V and I stopped at the winter market last weekend.  Since we had such an early spring there were lots of goodies there.  I picked up some lettuce and spinach since mine don't seem to be growing very fast.  We also got some fabulous flavored olive oil from one of the vendors.  I got V hooked on the sun dried tomato/basil one over the winter and when we were there he sampled the oregano/garlic blend and was sold.
Skill up- Hmm, I wonder if the pain management seminar I went to counts?  But it's not really a homesteady thing.  Otherwise, I've got nothing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We took a hit

It got down to 26 degrees last night here.  Brrr....  and while it was breezy and the frost only settled in low lying and sheltered areas things still got nipped about the edges.
 My lovely Bleeding Hearts are all droopy :-(
 As are the tips of the roses
 Even some of the perennials that you'd think would be pretty hardy look bad.  Above is the frost bitten Anise Hyssop
 The leaves of the peonies are curled up. I can't tell how much damage the buds took.
Our June-bearing strawberries that are blooming in April (go figure!) have black little hearts from the frost.
 The shoots of my newly planted asparagus got frosted.  Ugh.
 And when even the nettles look bad, you know it was cold!
The apple trees look pretty good but I can't tell if there was any damage to the blossoms or any fruit that may have set.  I also can't tell if the red currants are OK.  They look good but they are still blooming as well.

And finally, since there were other photos still on the camera when I downloaded these, I realize that I never shared with you the completed baby quilt.
K12 is my "super-enthusiastic" helper.  The expectant mother pronounced the quilt 'perfect'.
It will definitely keep the bambino's little brain busy!!  The giraffe print flannel that I used for the backing is so, so soft and for the binding, I used a bit of black micro-fleece.  I've definitely got some texture and pattern stuff going on.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A not quite so manic Monday

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Easter was pretty low key here.  I had to work Saturday so we planned lots of things for Sunday afternoon- only a few of which happened.  We had hoped to move dirt from our massive dirt pile to backfill some more behind the retaining walls since they settled over the winter.  But, the battery died on the garden tractor and none of us were too motivated to move a huge dump wagon of dirt up hill.  So, the children got a break from Easter labor camp.  Instead, they sat inside, eating candy and playing video and/or computer games.  Yeah... we let them rot their brains like 'normal' kids occasionally!
I wasn't feeling too hot either yesterday or today (some stomach malady- nothing serious- I was just feeling off) so I didn't get as much done as I would have hoped.  I did get some laundry done on Sunday afternoon and got the herb garden and iris bed weeded.
For my usually manic Monday, I was busy but don't feel like I got much done.  This morning was spent with V on a trip to the home store getting some more decking supplies (and a new battery for the tractor), then we spent most of the afternoon swapping out beams under the old deck so they will mesh together better with the new deck addition that will commence construction soon.
When V didn't need me, I spent time cleaning up near the barn.  Last year when the tree fell on the barn we didn't do a very good job cleaning up all the debris and I want to plant loofah gourds there (to vine up the side of the barn) so I needed to pick up the multitude of shingles, nails and bits of boards that were still all around that corner.  I got the West side done and part of the South side.  But, in order to put up my mini greenhouse much more junk needs moved.  Sadly, the South side of the barn has become a 'catch all' space for things- fence posts, livestock gates, scrap wood- you name it, it's probably there- well, maybe not THAT many things.
I guess amongst all of that, I did also manage to bake some bread, do some more laundry and cook up some beans for burritos tomorrow night so the day wasn't a total wash.
I'm still feeling a little off.  Honestly, if I had been drinking I would say that I've got a killer hangover- headache, nauseous off and on and tired.  But, I haven't been drinking...  Not since some wine with dinner on Saturday night, and even then, not enough to have caused a hangover.  I am feeling better this evening but even though I feel I slept well last night (something unusual for me!) I'm still just tired.  Maybe I'll just get a shower and call it an early night... perhaps I'll even read a book for a while....

We've got another COLD night forecast.  I'd better get my little seedlings off the porch before I get too comfortable.  I hope we don't get a hard freeze.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Independence Days 2012- week 9

A bit frosty around the edges!  Actually, we fared pretty well last night.  The thermometer on the porch was reading 29F this morning when I got up at 5:40 am.  A tad bit chilly after the 80 degree temps we've been having recently.  Amazingly, while a few things got nipped around the edges (mainly in the herb garden) most everything looks to have survived pretty well.  The apple blossoms look OK but it's hard to tell.  The strawberries already have buds on them but I don't think they're developed enough to have taken much damage.  Still, we've got some cold nights ahead early next week so we'll see how we come through.
My away from home work has been rough for the last few days. It's been busy and the patients are really ill which always makes my job more stressful.  Plus, being Easter weekend, there are a lot of people not happy about being hospitalized and away from their families.  I do work tomorrow so I've got one more day to go before I get a break- but then next week should be easy: Monday is my day off; I work Tuesday and Wednesday; Thursday I'm off all day at a conference for continuing education (one on managing chronic pain) and Friday I'm also off for my comp day for working Saturday.
Today is Friday. Time for my usual Independence Days check in.  It's been a bit hectic around here so I hope I've got things to report.
Plant something- actually not much. Only my sacrificial cucumbers and some melon seeds that I saved from a really tasty honeydew that I picked up at the store.  But soon I'll be planting again.
My seed potatoes arrived from Seed Savers Exchange today.  Organic Mountain Rose and Yellow Finn potatoes. And aren't those just the coolest mesh, drawstring bags that they came in!!  I had really hoped that they would have arrived earlier in the week since I had wanted to plant them this weekend but that is not to be.  I need to let them sprout a bit and then cut them so it will probably be the end of next week before I can get them in the ground.
Harvest something- eggs (46 this week) and nettles.  Do the masses of lilac blossoms that I've been bringing into the house count?  I suppose I could make lilac jelly but I'm not sure I'm that motivated this year.
Preserve something- hmm... I can't think of anything
Waste not- mainly the usual- recycling, composting and scraps to the chickens.  I did snag another 18 count egg carton from work before it got thrown out.  And I'm definitely going to hang onto these wonderful bags from Seed Savers!
Want not- they're having a sale on sugar at the store this week.  I picked up two packs but I'll probably stop tomorrow on my way home from work and get two more.  We did pick up candy for the children for Easter and I'll probably try to ration it.  Although they aren't usually too bad about rationing it themselves.  I think last year I found part of someone's chocolate bunny in the cabinet in June.
Eat the food-  Yummy raviolis last weekend.  Brats from the freezer- most everything from the freezer this week.  We stopped at the store the other day to get sugar and milk and couldn't really think of much else we needed.  Yeah!!
Build Community Food Systems- sold 5 dozen eggs at work this week!  That's a new record. Otherwise, not much.
Skill up- hmm, hand crank pasta maker and ravioli maker is all I can think of.  I'm sure I'll have lots to report in this area next week.  V has all kinds of plans for deck and construction stuff for my Monday off.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Fool!

The fool is on us.  April is playing tricks on us.  Or possibly it was March.  We are on record for the warmest March ever.  And now, in April we've got a freeze watch for tomorrow night. sigh...
everything is so lovely right now:
 The Bleeding Hearts are absolutely beautiful.  This photo doesn't do them justice.
 The apple tree is blooming.
It's not quite in full bloom- but it's close.  I'm guessing that means no apples for us this year.  My little trees that I planted are still too young to really be bearing so I'm not worried about losing fruit there.  But my heart goes out to our orchard owning neighbor.  Ugh.
The lilac is loaded and fabulously fragrant.  I guess I'll be clipping several more vases of lilacs tomorrow night before the forecast low of 28F.

I knew I shouldn't have tempted fate by planting those cucumber seeds!

Monday, April 2, 2012


It's been a tiring few day.  Several 'big things' have been accomplished as well as several small things. I'm too tired to report much.  But big things: yesterday the chicken coop was cleaned out and fresh bedding put in (poor bird-brains: they were terrified to go in at first).  Today, all the lumber and decking materials for the deck extension were delivered (deposited in the drive!) and we carried them all into the shop.  V and I also went and picked up our replacement windows for the addition.  The 'addition project'- the deck extension and new windows and siding on the addition is "The Last Big Project" on the house.  At least until we find something else to do.
Now, we can start construction.  Oh... boy....  hear my cries of enthusiasm.....

Also today, I repaired my rabbit fence (blown over by a thunderstorm), planted some sacrificial cucumbers (you know, just in case it doesn't freeze anymore) and declared war on the inordinate number of thistles that have appeared in the yard.  Oh, and I also got that baby quilt top finally finished and sandwiched with the backing.  I was going to quilt it this evening until we ended up moving lumber late at night since the delivery guy didn't get here until after 6.
Now, it's time for a shower and bed.  I have to work tomorrow. Hahahaha!!

Oh, and how's this for an advertisement photo to colleagues:
Eggs you don't need to color!