Friday, August 31, 2012

Once in a blue moon...

... it may rain.  Of course, on the night of the blue moon (the last until 2015) it is cloudy as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac makes its way toward us.  Oh well, at least I saw a bit of the moon on the western horizon this morning as I was doing chicken chores before heading off to work.
It's a quiet evening here. I15 is off at a football game (the first of the year), V is downstairs in his office and K12 is on the computer in his room writing a story.  I am feeling better, thanks for all your concerns.  I really think that all I needed was a good night's sleep.  I did get my tomatoes canned last night.  6 and a half quarts of tomato sauce.  Not too shabby.  I really do need to reorganize the pantry and the shelves in the canning room to make room.  I picked a few more tomatoes so I'm probably going to be canning again over the weekend.  And I've got TONS of peppers out there that I need to do something with- but I'm waiting until a few more turn red to process them.
And I have to share my find from last night:
Vulture Capitalism has nothing on Vulture Tomato!!

But, it's a Friday and time for a quick Independence Days Update.  So here goes:
Plant something- nothing
Harvest something- broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, eggs, basil.  I keep meaning to go check out the elderberries but it just hasn't happened.
Preserve something- froze 11 packages of broccoli, canned tomatoes
Waste not- The usual: composted, recycled and scraps to chickens.
Want not- hmm, nothing I can think of.  Although I suppose I could use my research for needles for the treadle machine in here.  We're hoping to go to Old Threshers this weekend (depending on the remnants of Isaac) and it occurred to me that I may be able to find something there as well.  I mean, where better to ask about treadle sewing machines than in a place dedicated to steam power and all things old.
Eat the food- quiche- yum!  some great tomato sauces, and tonight, tortellini with pesto.
Build community food systems-  Not a thing.
Skill up-- only sewing machine research.  I found a great online book on cleaning and maintenance of treadle machines.

That's about it.  I'm guessing that I15 will be calling soon for a ride home.  Oops- here he is now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I've got no oomph

I really, really need to process tomatoes but they're going to have to wait until tomorrow.  I've got absolutely no energy today.  I've been fighting an annoying cold (sore throat and post-nasal drip) and didn't sleep well last night.  As a result, my tail has been dragging all day.  I've got tomatoes staring at me from the counter but I just can't bear to start.  So, tomorrow it is. I just hope they keep.
Today, as I was on the way home, V called- not necessarily in a panic, but concerned- asking where the benadryl was.  K12 came home all broken out in hives.  Fortunately, I keep liquid antihistamines on hand (as well as some tabs) because the liquid absorbs more quickly if you really need it.  After some meds and a cool shower, he is feeling better but we still don't know what triggered it.  He thinks it was the cooked spinach from lunch yesterday but I'm thinking probably not- he has had spinach before and if by chance there was something on it, I would have thought he would have reacted before this.  More likely it was something he had today but he can't think of anything different that he had.  He said he had teriyaki beef dippers for lunch today so I'm wondering about MSG (if they use that in school lunches) since I know that can cause reactions. I do know that people can develop allergies to things that have been fine before so who knows.  He has never had anything like that happen before so didn't think to mention it to any of his teachers and suffered through the last couple of hours of school all itchy and broken out.  I do have to wonder about the observation skills of his teachers since V took one look at him and went running for antihistamines.  We gave him the lecture about allergic reactions and how they could be quite dangerous or even life threatening if they got bad enough.  I think he was uncomfortable enough that he actually heard us for once.  He's still a bit pink around the edges so I'll probably dose him with antihistamines again before I send him off to bed.
In fact, I think I may take something before bed as well as I'm still not feeling quite up to speed.  After all... tomorrow is another day... and tomatoes beckon....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Big Baskets of Broccoli, Batman!

Yes, it was definitely a harvest of epic proportions here this afternoon.  But is now all chopped, blanched and cooling off some more before I package it up for the freezer.   Not a bad harvest from second and even some third heads!  I really had given up hope for much from the broccoli because it was so hot.  In fact, I nearly ripped it out before we went on vacation.  Fortunately I ran out of time, LOL!    With the rain and slightly cooler temperatures it is growing and producing like mad.  I'm not hoping for this much again but there may still be enough for a few meals out there.  Good thing we all like broccoli!  I think I may do some little "quiche packs" since I don't use as much in a quiche as we eat as a side dish for a meal.... and of course there is soup....  Mmmmmm.......

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quest for needles

In my manic Monday off, I was on a quest for needles.  My new, old treadle sewing machine came without any needles.  I've been doing some research and found that I, amazingly enough, had a needle that was reported to work.  It didn't.   Evidently all the standard needles are too short and I couldn't get it to take up the bobbin thread.  I tried to lower the needle but by the time I got it low enough there wasn't enough of the needle shank left in place to keep the needle steady.  I made a run to a local sewing machine shop because I know they have a guy who will actually service old treadle machines.  Of course he wasn't in and the guy there just wanted to run google searches (which I have already done exhaustively!) and wasn't helpful in finding the kind of needles I need to try.  I have found somewhere online that sells them but I may see if I will have time to run to a few of the quilt shops in Kalona to see if they have any ideas.  I would guess that with their huge Amish/Mennonite population that there are still treadle machines in use in the area.  But that trip won't happen any time soon.  Work beckons tomorrow and for the rest of the week.
We did have a lovely rain yesterday (1.2 inches!!) and this morning it was pea-soup thick fog out there. That interfered with my gardening plans so I just had to stay inside to sew.  Oh the hardship...  I got started on the quilting for Justine's Steampunk Airship quilt and I'm pretty happy with how it is turning out.

I did manage to pick tomatoes this afternoon and made a killer pasta sauce for dinner.  Sh... don't tell the boys that there was also zucchini in the sauce...
And now, for some reason, Mandy is attempting to crawl into my backpack.  Crazy cat.  She does the strangest things sometimes.  Ah, and now she is attacking my pincushion.  Hmm....  I think it is kitty wacky hour.  A little entertainment is always fun.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shhh, it's quiet here

I woke later than usual this morning to the wonderous sound of water falling from the sky.  Such a lovely sound.  It has been quietly raining all day.  Not fast or a lot, just a slow, gentle rain.  The last time I looked we were up to about half an inch but that has been a few hours ago.
It has been a quiet Sunday here.  A bit of laundry, a trip to take garden goodies and eggs to a friend in town and some quilting have been on the agenda along with things like reorganizing a kitchen cabinet.  I've got a bunch of tomatoes that I'm going to process shortly (after I get my quilt backing into the wash) but I'm not guessing that I'll get more than 3 quarts out of them.
Last night I made two quiches at the request of the boys.  One was experimental but a huge success. I finely shredded a zucchini, sauteed it and pressed the excess water out of it.  This was added to the quiche filling with sauteed onions and jalapenos.  It was quite fabulous!  The other was with fresh broccoli from the garden and a little ham.  Mmmmm....  I really should do quiche more often.  It is so tasty and uses up eggs.  Plus, we all had leftovers for breakfast this morning.  Double yum!
Otherwise, it has remained quiet.  I think I'll get back to sewing...  such a refreshing change of pace.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A quiet morning

Good Saturday morning to you all. It is a quiet morning here.  So far, I'm the only one up, the coffee is brewing, chicken chores have been completed, to-do list is being formulated.
I missed my usual Independence Days Challenge update yesterday.  I was relaxing after a stressful week.  So, I thought I'd do a quick update this morning before I head off to make pancakes (K12's request).
Plant something- Not a thing.  I do hope to spend some time in the garden this afternoon (although it looks like rain is coming- Hoorah!) and would like to get some lettuce and spinach planted.
Harvest something- tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, the last honeydew, eggs- lots of eggs.  With the cooler temps the ladies have picked up production. I need to put a few egg heavy dishes into the menu plan for next week.
Preserve something- made some peach jam, 7 pints of enchilada sauce.  Dehydrated some veggies for making soup mix
Waste not- The usual
Want not-  I did get a couple packs of sugar that were on sale last week.  But my big ticket item is my treadle sewing machine.  I still need to research needles that I can use on it and give it a whirl.
Eat the food- fresh broccoli steamed on top of our chicken and rice (which impressed the MIL- I guess the ONE thing I'm good at is cooking- LOL!)  Sauteed peppers and onions with burritos, lovely grilled grass fed steak with spiced fried potatoes.  Yummy.
Build community- not much- I've been sticking close to home except for going to work
Skill up-  Not much other than checking out my treadle machine.  I've been doing research on it.

Otherwise, it seems that Justine is doing well and settling in to school life. She is planning to get involved in some community service activities as well as her schooling and work-study job (she doesn't know yet what she will be doing).  The house seems a bit quieter without her but it hasn't really sunk in that she is so far away.  We email or text regularly but it's not the same.

And let me just say... this whole election debacle is making me crazy.  Can't we just start over?  Some of those Republicans (and not just the major candidates) are beginning to scare the s&*t out of me.  Do they REALLY believe some of that crap?!  I'll admit it- I'm a liberal and am big on social justice.  My ideal would be if everyone respected everyone else's beliefs and rights.  Is that really that difficult?  And a shout out to mamaraby at Under the Maple Canopy for posting this video.  Be warned- it is NSFW but hilarious.  I do think my favorite line is something like "because no one knows more about women's issues than middle aged white guys with comb-overs".

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Thanks to all of you for listening to me whine and for your great comments.  My MIL will be heading out early tomorrow morning.  She will be taking a few things out to Justine for us.
Justine decided early on that her mattress is pretty uncomfortable and wanted a waffle pad for it.  I'm sure they are less expensive to get here than in Philly.  She also requested two more of her pillows.  One for the bed and one for her desk chair which evidently doesn't provide as much back support as she would like.  I also tucked a jar of peach jam- dubbed Gelatinous Yum by the children into her stuff along with her travel mug which she forgot in the car when she unloaded things.  She appears to be settling in well.  I haven't heard from her at all today- a first.  She has been in orientation so far and classes actually start tomorrow.
I managed to get 7 pints of enchilada sauce canned this evening between running I15 around to band practice, picking up prescriptions and getting a few last school supplies for the boys (those upper grade teachers don't tell you what you need until you start class).  Not bad for a Wednesday.
I've noticed I've been much more irritable than usual the past few days- I'm sure it is just my pent up stress and frustration.  Hopefully things will calm down soon and we can figure out our "new normal" routine for the school year.

Thanks again for all your support.  Tomorrow night I will sleep very well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trying to be gracious

Ok, Warning- rant ahead...  If you don't want to hear it, don't read.

I'm really, really trying to be gracious.  I KNOW that V's mother is trying to be helpful, that she is out of her element and isn't able to do the things she normally does, is trying to 'earn her keep' while she is here, and that I should be grateful that she is still in our lives.  I KNOW all of those things.

But she is driving me crazy.  I may even have a drink tonight before bed- on a Tuesday!  I have been trying for the past 4 days to give her tasks to do to keep her busy.  Things that would be helpful and that I felt comfortable having her do.  Today she was home with V.  After a few days away from home and his work, he had things to do so spent most of the day in his office working and just turned her loose on the house to do what she wanted.
Let's just say that if I hear the phrase "I did _______ for you today because I know you're so busy and can't keep up the way you should" one more time I may scream.  The _______ could be filled with washed the boys bedding, swept the basement floor or folded laundry  (I had to resort them as they were not even close to being sorted right- and I refolded my work clothes- I'm pretty particular about them).  Am I grateful that all these tasks got done- yes- and I'm trying to be gracious.  I just don't think she realizes quite how what she is saying sounds to me.   To me (and I know this is my own insecurities talking) she is challenging my competence as a homemaker and parent.  Am I a spotless housekeeper- not at all- I know that.  My house is lived in and somewhat cluttered, and mostly still under construction- and at this time of year, I AM busy, so some things slide.  And with teenagers and pets it is a continual challenge to keep up with things.  But- really..... what a slap in the face.
She was even complaining about the canning jars on the kitchen counter.  Too bad- it's that time of year and I've got tomato sauce on the stove.

Thanks for listening- I think I'll go have that drink now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Good, bad and OMG!!

It has been a day of many, many things.  First, it was my last day of vacation.  Nevertheless, I had to go in to work for a few hours to help out.  Well, I didn't HAVE to go but they were shorthanded and swamped.  So, I took the risk to leave my MIL home alone for a few hours with a few tasks that were fairly harmless (sorting socks and re-organizing my linen closet).
V got home at lunchtime, just before I got home from work (I worked 9-1).  It is SO, SO nice to have him home. He went on a winery tour with one of his sisters while he was in PA and got me a present:
Isn't that a hoot! Especially since I run therapy groups.  Of course, I don't think I'll be wearing this one to work- and not because the design is in little rhinestones.
The bad news is that V's mom found out that her car now won't be ready until THURSDAY! Last week they told her it would be done tomorrow.  So she is here for a few more days.  At least V is home.

But now for the OMG news!!!  I am so, so psyched about this.  Late Saturday night I was perusing Craigslist and stumbled across something that made my heart skip a beat.  I contacted the seller and was the first caller.  The transaction was made this afternoon.
Here she is-  I have yet to name her
 This is a Damascus Rotary Treadle sewing machine.
They were sold by Montgomery Ward (primarily, although evidently other department stores also carried these or similar ones), manufactured by the National Sewing Machine Company in Illinois. (oops, I took the photo before I had the drawers back in- I must have been impatient)
I've been trying to find out information about this particular model but have been having no luck.
Everything I can find is about machines that are labeled simply Damascus or Damascus Grand (the top of the line model).  This one doesn't seem to have any information out there about it.
I do have the serial number but there evidently aren't any records from the company that are available.  sigh...   If anyone can give me information or point me to a spot I may have missed I'd appreciate it.
This machine was being sold by a young woman who inherited it from her great-grandmother but is moving and doesn't have room for it.  It came complete with an entire drawer of attachments (evidently a $.75 value in the 20's) and the instruction manual (sadly missing the cover and hence, the date).  But it is in working order.  The only thing I'm missing are needles.  I'll have to do some more research to find out about those.
I have wanted a treadle machine for a long time and every time I have previously tried to get one I was too late.  Mom has an old treadle machine and I remember using it as a child when all three of us girls were trying to finish 4-H projects at the same time.  Whoever only had to straight stitch used the treadle machine.
And, yes, I know... I was fiscally irresponsible.  I spent $150 on this machine that could have well gone to other things.  But I'm so, so, so excited about it.  It is absolutely beautiful.  Now I guess I have to let V get some trains when we go to Old Thresher's in a couple of weeks.  Turn about is fair play.  But even he thinks it's a pretty cool machine.
And now I can sew if the power goes out- and get some exercise at the same time.  In my research I stumbled across several accounts of quilters who try a treadle machine and never to back.  We'll see.....

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I'm still here.  Not that it has been a long time since I posted... it just seems like it's been two very long days.  While I have gotten quite a bit accomplished, I haven't done as much as I had hoped- mainly due to having V's mother here.  I really want to go weed in the garden but she will want to help and she really isn't able to at this point- but would try anyway...  So, I haven't gone.  I had plans this morning to work on Justine's quilt...  But we spent time discussing genealogy- although I did discover that I could leave the room to do something else, come back and she would still be talking.
We DID get the coat closet sorted and outgrown coats and gloves packed up for donation today.  Of course, it took at least twice as long as it would have if I had done it myself- she kept resorting things I had already done and then I'd have to do them over again... sigh....  She also helped peel peaches yesterday for making jam- that was nice.
She had news yesterday that her car probably won't be ready until Tuesday so she is here for the weekend and Monday.  V will be back on Monday afternoon.  I am scheduled off on Monday from work but am 'on call' in case they get swamped since one other therapist needs to be off due to no child care.  I'm almost afraid to leave V's mother here alone.  I worry what 'tasks' she will try to accomplish.  I know she means well, but it really isn't a help to have her put away the dishes since she doesn't know where anything belongs.  But trying to convince her that it is easier to have the boys empty the dishwasher is about as effective as herding cats.  And I think her hearing is going as she misunderstands many things we say and can't quite tell whether you're talking to her or someone else.  She and K12 were talking (more she was questioning him about what he was doing on the computer and he tried to answer so she could understand) while I was working on sketching quilting lines on Justine's quilt.  I snapped at one of the cats who kept trying to steal the pencil out of my hand and she came out of K12's room thinking I needed her for something.  K was behind her just shaking his head and rolling his eyes.
Having spent this much time with her, I'm starting to really worry about her.  She seems so disorganized.  It took me 90 minutes to get her out of the house yesterday so we could run errands I needed to do.  It makes me wonder if she should be driving herself cross country alone. She is younger than my parents but somehow seems much less sharp.  And this is a woman who was a college professor.

Ok, I'll stop whining now.  It's just that it has been a frustrating couple of days and I don't really have anyone to vent to.  V is gone and I'm not going to complain to the boys about their grandmother driving me crazy.

Ah... family....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to school IDC

The boys started back to school yesterday.  My MIL arrived safely last evening and I thoroughly enjoyed my day of solitude.
I woke yesterday to a roaring thunderstorm that provided us with a lovely 1.1 inch of precious rain.  Fortunately it had dissipated to only a mist by the time the boys had to go wait for their buses.  The rain made it too wet to do any weeding in the garden so I busied myself with tidying up the house- especially the downstairs bath, guest room and the kitchen.  I brought in the table from the deck and stashed it in the back of the library and hauled up my sewing machine and some other quilting supplies so I can work without bothering my MIL in the spare bedroom in the basement which is where I usually work.  The table isn't as strong as I would like and it gets kind of bouncy if I run the machine at a fast speed but it definitely works.  And the lighting is great back there. Maybe when the walls are finished (drywall isn't completely mudded yet and it's unpainted) I'll permanently move my sewing machine up there.  Of course, V wants to use that room for his study- hmm, best 2 out of 3 falls???  I did get the borders cut and on for Justine's Steampunk Airship quilt- now I just have to sandwich and quilt it.  Hopefully I can get it done soonish to send in her first care package at college.
But it's Friday, time for my Independence Days Challenge update.  Not that I feel I've got much to report- and this is from the last 2 weeks (although one doesn't really count since I was out of state).
Plant something- not a thing.  Sadly, not all of my little fall seedlings survived- but then, did I really need 10 heads of cabbage? I tell myself not....
Harvest something- tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, a honeydew, basil, oregano, eggs
Preserve something- 7 quarts of tomato sauce.  The tomatoes seem to be in a lull- I think this is the result of the super-hot temps we had that kept them from setting on.  I hopefully should be getting more ripening in the next week or so.  I certainly hope so- I still don't have as much canned as I'd like.  I've also been using my dehydrator this week.  On Tuesday I made some 'Cream of this and that' soup (you know- that catch-all veggie soup) with broccoli, zucchini, onion and peppers.  Justine just loves it (as do I) and we got started talking that all the ingredients (except the half and half) could be dehydrated and pulverized before cooking.  So, I've been dehydrating zucchini, broccoli, carrots, peppers and a couple of tomatoes to make 'soup powder'.  I do need to dry some onions as well but I think I'll wait until the MIL is gone... they can be a bit overwhelming, LOL.  I'll experiment with the mix and then send some to Justine for a quick meal option.   I'm wondering if dry milk would work to add some creaminess, a little bouillon and viola!  Just add hot water!
Waste not- the usual: composted, recycled and scraps to chickens
Want not- not much this week, although I did get a few pounds of Colorado peaches that are destined to become jam this afternoon (I'll have my MIL help).  There is also a sale on sugar at the local grocery that I want to get to, as well as a '2-day sale' starting today with a few other specials - like cheap toilet paper!
Eat the food- Cream of This and That soup (LOVE my immersion blender!) and I made a killer tomato sauce for over pasta last night.  Everything but the salt and pepper came from my garden.  LOVE IT!
Build community- got a great local melon- that's about it.  Oh, and while not exactly local to me now, last week when we were in MN, my MIL, one SIL and I stopped at Homestead Mill- a local grain mill in Cook.  What a fascinating place- I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have someplace like that near here.  I did get a bunch of pancake/muffin mixes as gifts for co-workers (they're the absolute best for allowing me to have 2 weeks off in a row!!) including mixes for wild-rice pancakes. They sell the mixes in these lovely muslin bags that were actually made on site at the mill (we met the lady sewing the bags- they also screen print them all as well!) I made muffins (blueberry and cranberry/maple/pecan) for our last breakfast on the lake since everyone needed to bug out quickly- and they were fantastic!
Skill up- hmm, not much- although I did disassemble the vacuum to try to figure out why it is squealing when it gets hot... no luck- it still squeals- I wonder if a bearing is going in the motor or something....  sigh- I don't want to have to worry about getting a new vacuum!

With Justine off in college, finances will be getting much more interesting.  We had to spring for a new laptop for her and we're trying to get by this semester without her having to take out any loans.  But it will be touch and go for us.  Good thing we've got lots of food in the freezer and I know how to cook.  But I do think this means that our alcohol and entertainment budget will be slashed.  Oh, what will I do without my weekend wine with dinner.....  Not that we are lushes by any means but we do love the occasional bottle of wine.  hmm...  I wonder if the birds have left any elderberries.......

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A change of plans

I had a phone call this afternoon from my Mother-in-law.  If you remember, she was involved in an accident while on her way here before we left for Minnesota.  She got a rental car and continued her trip and vacation with all of us and left her car in Illinois being repaired.   After the reunion vacation, she spent time visiting her sister in Duluth and waited for her car to be finished.  But, it seems that they are still waiting for a part and she needs to leave her sister's home.  So, guess what, she is coming here for an indefinite amount of time while she waits for her car to be repaired.  She will arrive some time tomorrow from Duluth and spend time with the boys and I.  Good thing I've got time off.  So, I've only got one day to myself... sigh...  And I guess I'll use it cleaning up the downstairs bathroom and spare bedroom.  I wonder if I can move my sewing machine out of the spare bedroom into Justine's room so I can still work....

And she's off!

V and Justine just left for parts East.  I'm a bit of a whirlwind of emotions at the moment but it hasn't all sunk in yet.  Give me a week or two to really start to miss her.
They will travel as far as Eastern Ohio today and finish the drive tomorrow, staying with V's sister until move-in day on Saturday.
My tiny little girl is off on a grand adventure, starting her life as an adult. Eeek.  I'm not sure I'm ready for this. But look out Philadelphia- she's on the way!!
V will leave PA on Sunday, arriving home late Monday afternoon.  The boys start school tomorrow and I'm really kind of looking forward to having the house entirely to myself for a couple of days since I've got a few more vacation days ahead.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've ever been alone in this house for any period over an hour.  Gardening, closet sorting and quilting are all on the agenda.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wonderful Weather

... if you consider 70 and rainy wonderful.  I certainly do!  It has been a cool drizzly day here all day.  I got up early since I had so much to do and wanted to pick tomatoes before it rained again.  I was a bit disappointed.  I lost more than I would have hoped while we were gone.  The first week in August would not have been my first choice for a vacation but we were coordinating with 4 other schedules and this was the one week that worked for everyone.  sigh.  I probably would have been better off if it hadn't rained. I lost quite a few ripe tomatoes because they split due to the sudden influx of moisture from the big rain last weekend and rotted.  But I still got enough to can another 7 quarts of tomato sauce today.  And the cool weather made canning a joy- well, as much of a joy as canning tomato sauce can be....
I fed overgrown zucchini to the chickens and picked a couple of small ones for dinner tonight.  I discovered only 4 oversized cucumbers so that's not too bad.  But the weeds.  Oh dear. The weeds have grown huge in just a week.  And I discovered that a couple of the tomato plants blew over in the storm last weekend.  But since the tomato vines, too, have had explosive growth in the cooler, damp weather we've been having there is no way I will be able to right them now.  So, it's a tomato jungle out there.
I'm trying to have some of Justine's favorite meals in the next few days since they leave on Wednesday morning to take her out East for college.  V will be back home on Monday.  So, the boys and I will be here by ourselves for a few days.  We would all go east but the boys start school on Thursday this week.  It seems so, so early.  And we've got to get them fully registered for school.  We missed registration/fee paying days last week when we were gone.  K12 has Jr High orientation on Wednesday so I'm sure we can get it done then.

V picked the dog up from the kennel this morning and oh, my he was stinky and tired!  So, it was dog bath day as well as tomato and laundry day.  The cats have started to forgive us for abandoning them for a week.  At least things are starting to get a bit back to normal.  NORMAL!?  hahaha  We'll never be considered normal!   And thank goodness for that!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home at last!

And everything here is green!!  Woo Hoo!  I dumped 1.8 inches of rain from the gauges and that was even after a few days of evaporation.  The lawn will need mowed and I think the weeds in the garden grew several feet!
And good guesses on the last post.  We have spent the last week on a family vacation in cabins on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota.  We were there with V's mother, all his siblings and the niece and nephew.  My MIL is originally from that area and her brother, sister and some other relatives came to spend a day with us as well.
My children got to spend time with their cousins who they rarely get to see.  I've got the oldest and youngest of them- so all 5 cousins are between the ages of 12 and 18.   So they were quite able to amuse themselves on an island with lots of water sports opportunities. The place we were staying gave us free access to canoes, kayaks and waterbikes (fun contraptions!), there was a swimming beach with floating islands, a water slide and a zip line and we rented a speed boat for water skiing and tubing.  We also did some fishing, hiking and took a day trip to the International Wolf Center in Ely.  A grand time was had by all.
Now, after a nine and a half hour drive home, we are all tired.  I was feeling pretty good, even with all the novel strenuous activity, until I sat in the van for that long.  Now I'm stiff and sore but I've got TONS of work to do tomorrow.  It was too late today to pick tomatoes but I know they are out there and I saw several split ones.  I don't think I've lost too many due to not being here.  I picked about every tomato that was even thinking about ripening and took them along with us so we had fresh tomatoes all week. The relatives raved about them!
But, here is another photo to embarrass myself:
My pathetic attempt at water skiing.  We did a 'geriatric run' for all of us over 45- without children along so they wouldn't laugh at us.  I never made it fully up.  But then, I haven't water skied since I was 17!  However, I give all of us kudos for at least making the attempt.  I was much better at tubing!

More tomorrow after a good night's sleep in my own bed.  And besides- today is V's birthday and we spent it all driving.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sharing a secret

Guess what?  I've got a little secret.  Well, not really a secret, just not something I have been talking about here... and why I've been a bit quiet this week.
My confession?  I've been on vacation!   A REAL VACATION!  With little to no internet connection.
Check it out and see if you can guess where I've been....

And yes, that splash you see is me hitting the water at 30 mph.  Awesome!!!

So, any guesses???

It has been a fun week but I can't wait to get home to see what's happening with my garden.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Hey, everybody!
Today is "Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor's porch" day!  Get out there and share the wealth!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Early August IDC

Whew!  What a busy day!  My MIL arrived this afternoon.  And, let me say,  I love the woman dearly but she is going to drive me crazy.  She has been on a cleaning frenzy in the kitchen.  Not that my kitchen is that dirty- but it is lived in and I had been canning tomatoes and freezing broccoli all morning.  sigh... I know she's trying to be helpful.
But, now a quick Independence Days update before things get really crazy.
Plant something- planted my little fall seedlings.  A few have survived... otherwise we're just trying to keep things alive.
Harvest something- eggs, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, basil, zucchini and the first eggplant!
Preserve something- canned diced tomatoes earlier this week.  This morning I did 4 quarts and two pints of tomato sauce and 3 pints of enchilada sauce.  Froze the last of the broccoli.
Waste not- The usual.  Nothing too exciting here.
Want not- stocked up at Kalona on Monday.  Got 50 lbs of flour, some whole wheat flour, cornmeal. pectin and a few other staples. We also got a pork loin on sale ($1.88/lb) and cut and repacked it for the freezer.  Got a bunch of tortillas at the outlet and froze them.
Eat the food- lots of yummy garden produce lately.  I made a lovely pasta sauce of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions and basil.  Mmm....
Build community food systems- took some eggs to work, shopped at the Amish grocery and stopped to get cheese and curds at the cheese house.
Skill up- nada

Not sure when I'll make time to post again.  Let's hope for some rain!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday thoughts

It has been a busy, busy week.  But now I'm off for a few days.  Things may be crazy around here so I may not be posting much.  My MIL was to arrive this afternoon but she had car trouble in Illinois and now won't arrive until tomorrow.  She was driving her brand new car (got it last week!) when the truck in front of her threw a piece of tire debris up and she was unable to avoid it.  Unfortunately, it hit the front of her car then rattled around underneath, ripping hoses and damaging the air conditioner and radiator.  At least she is OK!  She had to wait for 2 hours on the side of the interstate for the tow truck due to a mix up.  Evidently, it will take a week for her car to be fixed.  So, since I have tomorrow off, I may be driving to pick her up, or she may get a rental car to complete her journey as she wants to visit others out here while she is in the midwest.  She was tired and not in much of a mood to make that kind of decision when V talked to her this evening.
Of course, I'm not complaining that she is a day later- it gives me a bit more time to tidy up the house and clean the spare room for her.  And I've got tomatoes to can and plants to water and laundry to do and weeds to pull and......  you get the idea!
A few observations of the day- interestingly, the hybrid tomatoes I planted are the ones having the most trouble with blossom end rot.    I planted two hybrids (a beefsteak and a paste tomato) because in the garden rotation I'm back to the end where we had blight really bad three years ago.  But, of the Big Mama paste tomatoes- probably over 80% are unusable due to really bad blossom end rot. The beefsteaks are a bit better but almost all the heirloom varieties are much, much better (except the Amish paste which are struggling).  Hmm, makes me wonder if the heirlooms are better suited to these adverse conditions.  The Black Sea Man and Amana Orange tomatoes are going gangbusters.  I got one Amana Orange that weighed in at 24.5 ounces (just over a pound and a half!) Not bad for scorching, dry conditions.
We continue without rain.  Nothing new there.  This week our county was one of many more declared a disaster area due to the drought.  Not that it surprises me.  Our neighbor's corn is barely taller than the fence and already turning yellow.  Trees are already turning and dropping leaves.  The grass is brown and crunchy. We've had trouble with numerous critters eating the ripening tomatoes- I think for the water content.  I've noticed, for the first time EVER, immature boxelder bugs eating tomatoes.  I've never seen that before.  We're keeping the old kiddie wading pool half filled with water for birds and wildlife.  It is common to see 20-30 birds out there at a time.  Of course, I think that has been helping with the insect population as I haven't noticed as many bad bugs as I had feared.
The honeydew vines were really curled and wilted this afternoon.  I'm not sure if they just needed watered of if there is some pest causing trouble.  I watered them well this evening and will check them in the morning to see how they look.  Of course, with no rain and high temps in the mid to upper 90's (we hit 100 on Tuesday again) I'm amazed that anything is still alive.  I've lost several of my fall seedlings already.  Even well watered and mulched, it has just been too much for them.
I don't think there is any relief in sight.  I can't believe that school for the boys starts in only two weeks. I can't imagine, if the weather doesn't break, how they can hold classes in some of these un- or poorly air conditioned buildings.  We'll see what happens when the time comes.
Now, gotta run throw some laundry in the wash and clean the spare room.  I've procrastinated enough!