Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This night

Whatever path you follow, may it be a safe night for you all.

Happy Halloween
Blessed Samhain

And a blessed All Saint's day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Girl

I've been keeping in touch with Justine through the horrific hurricane.  She fared quite well.  They never lost power, even though the eye of the storm passed right over them.  The worst they had was loss of internet service for a while.  But imagine the horror of an entire dorm of girls without internet service!  Oh, the humanity!!

I've been heartened to hear that people I know fared pretty well.  My sister outside DC lost power overnight but it is already restored.  Our friends in Annapolis had water coming into the house and will have to replace carpet and some drywall in their basement but are otherwise fine.  Others are windblown but well.
My heart goes out to all those who didn't fare as well as those near and dear to me.  The pictures of the devastation are heartbreaking.

But maybe now people will start taking climate change seriously.

Oh, wait...  probably not.  Oops- my cynicism is showing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


What a week it has been.  Definitely a week of good, bad and ugly!
We've had trips to the ER (don't worry, everyone is OK), my brother had surgery, another friend was hospitalized in critical condition, and I had my conference in Des Moines- all in the space of three days!  But, we survived it all and everyone is on the mend.  I've been trying to keep up with my workouts to get zombie ready although I missed two days due to the conference.
I am still doing pretty well with my Independence days challenge as well.  A very quick update:
Plant something- Not a thing
Harvest something-Broccoli, kale, chard, lettuce, radishes, spinach, eggs.  Not too bad for the end of October.
Preserve something-  Froze a bit more broccoli soup.  That's about it other than the preservation of my sanity once again.
Waste not-  The usual recycling, repurposing, composting and scraps to chickens.
Want not- umm.... nothing.  Oh, wait, I did stock up on a few things at Aldi's last Sunday and got some chicken feed while it was on sale.
Eat the food- Tonight it is enchiladas with homemade sauce with salads from the greenhouse.  Hurrah!
Build community-  Eggs to work but I think that's the end for a while since I've only got two hens laying (Zeva and Micah)
Skill up- not much unless you count finding my way around downtown Des Moines.

I'm really hoping that this coming week is much, much calmer.  I don't think I can handle another week like this last one.

And to all of you in the path of Hurricane Sandy (that includes Justine!!) please stay safe!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Heading out

I'll be heading out of town tomorrow afternoon to Des Moines for the Iowa Occupational Therapy Association annual conference.  I've got a dinner meeting tomorrow evening with the speaker to go over her plans for the Friday conference.  I managed to find an inexpensive hotel room (and they have a pool and hot tub!!) that is between my dinner location and the conference site.  Hopefully less than 15 minutes to either.  I'm out of work tomorrow at 1:30 so I can get home to get the car, drive the two hours there, find my hotel, check in and get to the restaurant where we're meeting by 6:00 pm.  It's gonna be a full day since I've got back to back patient care in the morning, a lunchtime work meeting then only half an hour to finish all my documentation before heading out.  Whoosh.   It will be a wild time.
I've been doing well on my workout schedule for getting zombie fit for next summer.  I've started hitting the elliptical hard the past few days so I'm kind of glad I'll get the day off the workout tomorrow night.  But I plan to keep up with basic strength and endurance training while I try to find some good running routes.  I've also tracked down a few 5k runs coming up this spring and early summer so I can practice running a straight race for time without zombies or obstacles.
We've been having some lovely salads out of the greenhouse this week.  But very few eggs.  I've been getting only 1 or 2 eggs a day and most of the hens look exceptionally scruffy.
But the weather has been unusual!  We hit 80+ today!  In late October.  And we've been having rain this week.  Much, much needed!
Now, I've gotta go pack and get myself organized for the next two days.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm sure I'm gonna regret this

Remember waaay back when... you know, when I was talking about getting into better shape.  Yeah... that...  I haven't done a very good job.  But now I have some motivation.  Zombies.  Yup... for real this time!
I have let Justine talk me into registering both of us for Run for Your Lives.  It's a 5k obstacle course filled with zombies who want to get you.  At least the race we're registering isn't until next July.  In Minnesota.
So, I've not got 9 months to whip my sorry @ss into shape... or those zombies are going to eat me for lunch!

But seriously, having this deadline (lol- DEADline) will give me the motivation I need to get moving.  And it does look like awesome fun.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Sunny Sunday

Today was a glorious day.  Sunny, low 70's, light breezes.  Absolutely fabulous for October!  And many things were accomplished by all.
This afternoon, K12 and I cleared out the garden- well, mostly- I still need to get out there with a rake and gather up all the dropped peppers and tomatoes.  They made for squishy working out there.  Pulling up old vegetation is my least favorite part of gardening but it is one of those tasks that needs to be done.
While we were clearing out the garden, I15 worked on painting the library with primer.  Not a perfect job was done but he was much better at the end than he was at the beginning.  Painting is one of those things that you just need to learn by experience.
V was working on work for part of the afternoon and then managed to get the new door for the basement bathroom stained.  We got a louvered door for the closet in there since there is poor airflow that makes the towels smell mildewy at times.  It's one of those things that I've wanted for a long time but we had to custom order it since it's only an 18 inch door. We ordered it back in August when custom doors were on sale and it's been sitting in the shop waiting for stain ever since.
I also managed to get out and about to get chicken feed, bird seed for the feeders and dog food- as well as a few other odds and ends.  It was a great day for getting stuff done.
I've still got tomorrow off so we'll see what else I can get done.  I do want to spend a little time quilting if I can.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

For your amusement

I know I'm supposed to laugh with people and not at them but this one... well...


Friday, October 19, 2012

Another rainy IDC

Ah... a day off... and I don't feel like I accomplished anything.   And you know what... it feels great!
Well, I can't say that I accomplished nothing.  I did a few dishes and a load of laundry, V and I ran errands where we picked up paint for the library, more snaps for additional chicken saddles and.. get this, new upholstery fabric for the dining room chairs.  I love my chairs but the fake leather seats are showing their age.  Fortunately, JoAnn's was having all their home decor fabrics 50% off and we found a fabric that we could agree on.  One more thing to add onto my to do list...  Hurrah... I think....

But it is a chilly, rainy Friday and that means it's time for an Independence Days update.  Even though I have been busy at work I still managed to get quite a few things done here at home.  Not as much as I would have liked but that seems to be the way it goes.

Plant something-  A second round of radishes, lettuce and spinach went into the greenhouse and some of my cool Nero de Toscano cabbage.  I'm excited to see how long I can keep things going in the greenhouse.  The NOAA forecast has us warmer than average for the next month.  After that we'll see how much of an El Nino develops in the Pacific.
Harvest something- Eggs, kale, radishes, lettuce, a tiny bit of spinach and more broccoli.  It seems like most of the ladies are molting so egg production is way down.  Of course, that happens right when I've got people asking for eggs.  Oh, and I also harvested a few baby cabbages that formed after I cut one of my Copenhagen Markets.  I've got three of them- only about the size of baseballs- but they are nice little heads.
Preserve something- Made some cream of broccoli soup and froze it in individual portions for lunches.  That's about it.  I'm still working my way through the tomatoes on the counter and the few peppers in the fridge.
Waste not- the usual recycling, repurposing and composting.  Making soup out of odds and ends of veggies to keep them from going to waste.  It makes for great lunches at work
Want not- Ok... while definitely NOT a necessity we purchased a bottle or Templeton Rye, a locally produced, much sought after whisky.  It has been so popular that it has been virtually unavailable for the past year or more so we were excited to evidently time it just right at the store when they got in a shipment.  It is definitely something to sip and will be rationed well.
Eat the food-  This morning V and I had fabulous omelets entirely produced here.  Eggs from the chickens, peppers, onions and tomatoes for the filling.  Heavenly! Oops... I guess I did put in some cheese so it wasn't entirely produced here.  Darn.  Need to find that local milk and make some cheese.  We also had a lovely pasta meal last night with fresh tomato sauce and salads from the greenhouse.
Build Community- A dozen eggs to Jim and I've got requests for 3 dozen in the coming week.  I just hope the ladies can provide. Roger and Sharon are coming over tomorrow for a few eggs and I've got requests for 2 dozen at work.
Skill up-  Not a thing except making my first chicken saddles.
So, the week wasn't a total wash.  And I took it easy today.  I even took a nap this afternoon since it was cold and rainy.  Tomorrow the weather is supposed to start improving so I'll be back to busy for the next three days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The game is afoot...

Hopefully... good things are happening here!  V is negotiating with a potential new freelance client.  Woot!  This would be a fabulous thing for us.  His freelancing work has been steady but minimal since he lost a subcontract (the original contractor lost the account because of the client's financial outlook) last year.
So, because of that finances have been tight recently, especially since we're helping Justine with tuition.  (Good thing we've got a pantry and freezer full of food!)  But, an additional source of income would be quite welcome.  So send good thoughts his way.
We're happy that Justine's package arrived yesterday.  She evidently has declared me 'the best mom ever', LOL!  Amazingly, the thing that touched her most of everything I packed in there was not the cookies or the package of dark chocolate... it was the little bit of candy from the HS homecoming parade.  Awww....

Other than that, not much is going on here.
Work has been busy and I'm looking forward to a 4 day weekend coming up.  We hope to be painting in the library since V has finished the drywall back there and it's ready to go.
Many of the chickens are molting furiously.  V and I got one chicken saddle deployed on River (who needed it the most)... he held her, I snapped it on.  We also put one on Abbi but it was too loose and she kept pulling at it, so we took it off.  I've shortened the straps but we haven't put it back on her yet.  I need to get more snaps and make a couple more.  I've noticed that Helen is looking pretty bare on her back as well.  Egg production is WAAAAY down.  I only got one egg today and only three yesterday.  But at least they should be feathered out again by the time it gets really cold.
It's raining again.  Hoorah!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Poor Justine.  And curses on the US Postal Service.
I sent a package off to her in early October.  I took it to the postal substation at our local grocery store rather than going all the way downtown to the post office.  First Mistake.  It was in an official USPS "priority mail" box.  I paid my postage and got my receipt.  I did not pay the extra for insurance or delivery confirmation.  Second Mistake.  I dropped the package off on the afternoon of the 4th, knowing that I had missed the pick up time so it wouldn't go out until the next day (Friday the 5th).  No problem I thought.
Well, third mistake was forgetting that there was the postal holiday for Columbus Day.  It is such a non-holiday since everyone else still has to work and go to school that I overlooked it.  But even accounting for the holiday, you would think that a priority mail package would have arrived by now.

It hasn't.

We are all frustrated but keep being told that there is nothing that can be done without a tracking number.  I even took my receipt to the grocery store hoping there was some way they could look up the time stamp to coordinate with the postal computer to get the bar code off the package.  Nope.  They can enter information but have no way to get information out.

Hopefully her package is just delayed somewhere and not lost forever.  It has cookies (now old!) some tea, chocolate, her knitting (plus extra wool), replacement bowls, a concert shirt and a few other odds and ends.  sigh....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A rainy day

It has been raining today.  Hooray! This is the first real rain we have had in over a month again. We got less than 3/4 inch but I'm not complaining. Especially since I was at work all day- my 6th day straight.  Ugh.  And I've only got tomorrow off before I head back on Monday.  But I have a 4 day weekend to look forward to next weekend.  I've got Friday as my comp day for working today and next Monday is my usual day off.   I love it when they string together!  But I'm tired!  6 days of work is rough, especially when you throw in our late night on Thursday.  The movie/concert was fabulous!  And it was the opening performance of the celebration series for the Englert Theater's 100th anniversary celebration.
But, even with work at my paying job, I've been working around here as well.  Things are slowing down a bit but I'm still reporting on my progress on the Independence Days Challenge so here goes:
Plant something- Garlic, that's about it and that is later than I would have liked.  But at least it's in the ground!
Harvest something- hmm, eggs, a few herbs, radishes, nothing much more out there.  But I'm still slowly using up the ripening tomatoes and the last of the peppers.  And my lettuce in the greenhouse will soon be ready.
Preserve something-  Made a huge batch of broccoli/carrot soup and froze it in little containers for me to take for lunch to work. Not much else.
Waste not- using up last of the veggies before they go bad.
Want not- Got rice but really haven't done much shopping other than dairy and apples.  THAT feels good!
Eat the food- I've got some sauce cooking down (counter tomatoes and peppers) for enchiladas tonight. I ate one of my little frozen eggplant casseroles for lunch today and I've been having lots of yummy soup from the freezer for lunches during the week (not only the broccoli- I made some roasted tomato a while ago as well).
Build Community- Took eggs to Jim and have an egg order for next week.  I've been 'liking' several local organizations on Facebook (although I'm trying to not let it turn into a time-suck!) not that it means much.
Skill up- um....  I got nothing.

Other updates...
Our transplanted/potted pepper plants are doing well.  I cut them back pretty severely and they are happily shooting out new leaves and branches.
A few of the hens are looking rather bedraggled due to a combination of an overly zealous Magnus and moulting) I caught several of the girls ganging up on River yesterday afternoon and picking at her back so I'll be making some chicken saddles tonight- both River and Zoe need them badly.  I think I've got 4 or 5 hens moulting right now as well as Magnus. Poor rooster has lost almost all of his beautiful iridescent tail feathers.  With moulting hens egg production is down but we've still got plenty.
Tomorrow will be a day of laundry and trying to catch up on all my usual weekend stuff in only one day.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


A little excitement here this evening!  First (and sorry, no photos- it didn't last long!), the first harvest from the greenhouse:  A lovely, tasty radish!  Mmmm....
Next, and even more exciting, V won tickets to a concert tomorrow night!  The Alloy Orchestra (a three man group!) is doing a live performance of the score (with restored movie print!) of the classic silent vampire movie Nosferatu.  Isn't that the coolest thing?! So we've got a Thursday night date night! This is something we really had wanted to see but weren't willing to spend the money on tickets.  But it was meant to be!  I'll have to get to bed early tonight so I can stay up that late.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Photos

Yesterday was busy and productive- just not necessarily for me, LOL!  V really wanted to go to a train show in a town about 40 minutes south of here.  I agreed to go along... IF we then went the rest of the way to my parents to help them move furniture.  They got a new TV stand and were wanting help to move the TV and to help them carry out the old hide-a-bed from the den.  So, we got all that done. I snapped a few photos along the way.
Below is a series of photos of a treasured family heirloom.
 This is the original trunk that was used when Dad's ancestors immigrated to this country, handed down for generations.
 It's kin of hard to see (actually easier to see in the top photo) but there are grooves in the wood where the ropes cut into the wood when it was lashed down for transport.  And check out those hand painted flowers.
 And the original rope handles.
Such a family treasure!
Oh the way home, I snapped a few scenery photos.
A view down the Skunk River.  There was no other traffic so V could slow down for a better photo.  You can see how low the water is.  You could probably wade across and not get too wet.
All in all, a lovely day.  And V did get an engine and 2 observation cars at the train show.  Amazing how he conveniently 'forgot' his checkbook while I had mine.  Hmmm...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The last canning of the year

I had lots of tomatoes ripen at once from the ones I had picked green before the frost.  I mean, A LOT of tomatoes.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them but I started out making puree.  I had about 18 cups of puree. What to do, what to do...   Let's see, I don't need any more plain sauce, or diced tomatoes, or enchilada sauce or pizza sauce... not enough peppers for salsa... what's left?  Hmm... barbecue sauce?
I did find a recipe that called for 20 cups of chopped tomatoes or about 16 cups of puree.  So... it was a go.  I tried the recipe as written... and then tweaked it.  I didn't like the way it was spiced so I played around with spices until I got it how I liked it.
I ended up with 6 pints of lovely, thick, sweet/spicy barbecue sauce.  Pulled pork, here we come!   Not bad for a last minute decision from salvaged tomatoes. But this should be the last canning from the garden this year.  I still have some green tomatoes but we should be able to eat them as they ripen-  fresh or sauced for a meal from here on out.  And I'm OK with no more tomato processing for the year... really.  I have had enough of simmering tomatoes for the year.  But no worries, by next August I'll be pumped again.

It was cold here today.  We had a high of only about 45 today after a low of 28 this morning.  Definitely fall-like.   But it was a great afternoon for a few chores. K12 and I cleaned out the chicken coop and put in new bedding for the winter while I15 was off at the State Marching Band Contest.  Brr... a chilly day to be marching.  It's supposed to be another cold night tonight.  Good thing V started the furnace.

Easily amused

I must be easily amused today.  I was out running errands while V was at Kum Do this morning.  I knew I needed rice but didn't want to go to the regular grocery store so I decided to stop by a little mediterranean grocery that is new to me but was near where I was driving. It has been there for a year or so but I have never stopped.  I was really hoping that they may have squid ink but sadly, they didn't.  But I did find this:
 A 10 lb package of basmati rice at a reasonable price, in this really cool bag with handles.
 And it has a zipper!  How awesome is that!!
Spaz was intrigued by it.  However, I spoiled his fun when I didn't let him use it as a claw sharpener.  I'm so mean.

Rice has now been safely transferred into my storage tub and I've got this nifty burlap bag.  Hmm.... I wonder what I can use it for??

Like I said... I'm easily amused today.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A chilly October IDC

Brrr... It's cold outside!  It's currently 39 degrees outside and we're predicted for a hard freeze tonight or tomorrow night.  Ok.  I'm ready.  Of course, we got low enough last time around that I lost just about everything so it's time.  The peppers are dug and brought in, the broccoli harvested and the last of the bell peppers salvaged.  And honestly, even though this borders on sacrilege... I'm ready.  I've got tomatoes to process from those ripening on the counter and I'm actually TIRED of dealing with tomatoes.  I didn't think I'd ever say that.  But it's time.  I've got plenty in the pantry and freezer for the next year and while I'll miss having fresh tomatoes to eat (I refuse to purchase tomatoes in the winter!) I'm good with the freeze.  Hopefully we'll have a few peppers off the plants this winter.
But, it's Friday and that means that, hopefully, I can get back on track with my Independence Days posts.  I do love this challenge (although it's not really a challenge, more a way to organize your progress) because it helps me categorize what I've been doing to see that I am actually making progress.  Here goes for the week:
Plant something:  Only a bit more mesclun mix in the greenhouse.  I used up old bits of seed last time and had REALLY poor germination so I replanted.  That's probably OK since this will put it a couple of weeks behind the lettuce I planted before.
Harvest something:  Dug potatoes, salvaged a few peppers and green tomatoes and cut my single fennel bulb.  I also harvested more from the broccoli that would not die!!
This is a 5 quart pail filled to overflowing.  I've lost track of how many cuttings this is... I think six or seven, if not more.  And still some good sized heads.   Truly amazing!  These are still the same little seeds I started waaaay back in March and have gone on through record heat and drought.
Preserve something:  Froze some spaghetti sauce and some enchilada sauce. Dried some Orange Thyme and English Thyme.  Froze some roasted tomato soup in lunch sized containers for me.
Waste not: um...  can't think of much other than the usual recycling, composting and scraps to chickens.
Want not:  Not much unless you count V's purchase of the air rifle over the weekend. It should help with pest control, especially since he has already taken out several chipmunks.  He noticed today that the ones he has seen recently look like scared youngsters.  Oh, I've saved some seeds this week- that counts.
Eat the food:  Oooo..... lots of yumminess!  Enchiladas with homemade sauce. Stuffed chiles,  Broccoli rice, roasted veggies with home grown squash, potatoes and thyme.   Cookies and biscotti with fresh eggs.  Mmmmm....
Build community food systems:  Eggs to work, that's about it. With my recent success at getting onto Facebook, I've been looking at linking with some local organizations so maybe I can get more involved.
Skill up:  Hmm... nothing I can think of.  I've been pretty boring this week.

Now, it's late(ish) and it seems like it's been a long week, even with a day off in the middle.  I don't know what I was thinking...  With switching my day off I'm now scheduled to work 6 days straight next week.  Blah!  Quilting will never get done at this rate!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Yesterday V decided to try out his sniper skills.  He managed to bag three chipmunks, one even a head shot.  Impressive aim!  Especially for someone who has little experience.
I had the day off today.  My usual day off would have been next Monday but someone else needed Monday so we switched things up. It was pretty low key. I spent the afternoon baking.  Snickerdoodles and some biscotti.  I then packed up a care package for Justine with cookies, chocolate, tea, her forgotten knitting project and a few other odds and ends.  I included a couple of Corelle bowls since she managed to shatter the one she took to school with her.  She was lamenting the fact that she could no longer microwave her oatmeal.  Poor thing.  I've been collecting things for a few weeks or so but the broken bowl was the impetus for sending off the package this afternoon.
We had a cold front move through today with dropping temps, showers and wind.  Tonight should be fine but we're supposed to be down into the mid 20's tomorrow night.  Since we had discovered a couple of peppers still surviving out in the garden V decided that we should dig them up- LOL!  So, we found several big old pots in the barn and now have three new plants in the house.  His inspiration for digging them up was me saving seeds from the Volcano Hungarian Wax peppers.  It was a freebie 'experimental' pepper I got seeds for a few years ago with a seed order and we really, really like it.  I'm out of seeds and V was concerned that the seeds I was saving wouldn't breed true.  Poor thing, he likes his hot peppers.  He thought the best way to preserve genetic integrity was to dig up the plant.  LOL!  So, we now have a hot Hungarian Wax,  an Anaheim and a Sweet Italian pepper in pots in the library.  We cut them back quite a bit, some due to frost damage and some just to make them more manageable.  We'll see how they survive.  At least now I don't have to think I need to try to salvage something in the garden over the weekend when it freezes.  I can just let it all go... finally... until next year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Did you know...

... that if you reply back enough times to the Facebook bot without giving them what they want, you eventually get a real person who fixes your problem... AND gives an apology!?  Pretty sweet.  Now if we can just get I15 through the process.
... that finding a dead boxelder bug floating in your morning coffee is a serious turn off!
... that nothing smells quite as good as line dried sheets.
... that a 125 lb dog makes a lot of noise when he has the 'puppy crazies' even when he's 7 years old.
... that bad tomatoes smell... well... BAD!
... that sneezing cats are cute, except at 3 am.... when they're by your head.
... that Autumn is definitely here.
... that there never seem to be enough hours in the day.
... that I never seem to get enough sleep.
... that I am grateful for each and every one of you along on this crazy journey with me.