Monday, December 31, 2007

Seed Catalogs - The Review

I must live at the end of the Earth. After jealously reading about everyone else getting scads of seed catalogs in the mail, mine have finally started rolling in. So, things that I have noticed/decided:

1.) Open pollinated varieties are almost non-existant. Hmmmm. I wonder why? Is it because there was crop failure, people just aren't interested in them anymore (I find that hard to believe), or are more nefarious things afoot?

2.) Territorial is scaling back its offerings. I compared the 2008 catalog to an old 2006 catalog, and found fewer lettuce, carrot and, most shockingly to me, ultra-early, extra-early and early tomato varieties. They were my sole source of tomato seeds that will survive in our barely-reaching-80-degree summers! Wah!

3.) I'm looking more toward jumping ship from my beloved Territorial/Johnnies to someplace like Fedco, who seems to be fighting the good fight. At least Fedco seems to be trying to shake itself off of the Monsanto monkey.

Well, at any rate, I'll be shopping online more, which is probably better for the environment, but it's not as nice as curling up under a blanket on a cold, stormy day, and drooling all over the catalog dreaming of summer tomatoes, while looking at the perfectly sliced ones on the pages of a catalog. Drip.

Have a fun, safe night tonight. I guess those in the UK are already in the new year. Let's hope it's a better one than the last!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Seed Catalogs

Is it just the mail system around here, that can't manage to get the current local grocery store ad to me until after I've gone shopping, or have I been blacklisted?

I have only received one seed catalog, and it's from a place I've never ordered from, and probably never will.

Maybe the mail carrier is carrying off with my seed catalogs....


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Frenzy

Okay, I'm over myself. Finished all of the shopping, half the presents are wrapped, baked up some bread (we were completely out), made a batch of S'more Thumbprint cookies, sent brownies and more cookies with Mr. E to work, sent off the long-distance cards....

Tomorrow we're baking gingerbread, both people and a house. I'm also heading to the library to pick up Crunchy Chicken's book club book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, and my regular book club book, Three Junes. Thing 1 has a friend coming over as well, so the morning will be spent tidying up after today's baking frenzy, and preparing for another one.

Tonight I'm (hopefully) finishing up the cards. That'll be one less worry. I always do cards where you pop the photo in. One year I had the audacity to hand stamp cards, and everyone complained. Where's the photo of the boys? So, back to purchased cards it is. I suppose if I were creative, I'd stick the photo on the cover of a card, but I like the framed look of the purchased cards.

So, what's left to do? More cookies, candy if the weather cooperates, which it looks like won't happen, finish wrapping, Saturday we torch the tree, Sunday we flop, and then the Xmas gauntlet arrives; 24th eve at the in-laws, Xmas morning with the boys, then race down to my parents. Anyone else have a gauntlet to run?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

No Ho

I have decidedly run out of Christmas spirit. This is what happens when you are the sole reliable computer-capable person on either side of the family, and said families want everything ordered online.

First, I set up wishlists online for all of us. Then everyone picks what they want to order. Then they hand it all to me to order for them. For some reason, they can't be expected to push a button and hand over their credit card information. Except in the case of my MIL, in which I have to pick out and order her present to my FIL! She wants to get him a weather station, would I find a nice one and order it? Oh, and could I order $** worth of toys for the boys, as well?

So essentially I'm doing everyone's shopping. I hope they're all having a stress-free holiday, because I'm not enjoying this. All I want to be doing right now is baking cookies and making fudge, and instead I'm spending inordinate amounts of time at the computer.

And to top it all off, the ONE thing I really, really, REALLY wanted for Xmas is completely sold out from everywhere, and not expected to be in until late January.

But I want it NOW!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Killed a Tree

We butchered a tree today in the spirit of Christmas. I know there's a live tree/dead tree/organic tree/fake tree/no tree debate going on. But I just gotta have my Christmas tree. And it's local, at least.

There are a lot of rules for our tree. We put candles on the tree. I can hear you gasp. Everyone does. But we haven't had tree flambe yet. When I got married, my mother-in-law gave me the candles, candleholders that clip onto the branches, REAL tinsel, and a two page list of instructions so I wouldn't burn down our house. Yes, you have to be careful.

The tree must be real. Fake ones burn real good. The tree must be fresh. So we generally go out to a local tree farm and cut our own. We also light the candles a little early, but I'll get to that in a minute. The tree must be a noble, or some type with small needles, and layered is best. Pyramidal sheared douglas fir bushes just won't work. The candles have to be placed so that there is NOTHING above them, and they must stand straight up. If you use tinsel it must be real, metal tinsel. Not the fake plastic stuff. We reuse ours every year since it's extremely hard to find. My mother in law's list also said to make sure that an ornament was behind the candle to reflect the light, but in reality, that rarely works out.

Usually, we go to the inlaws on Xmas eve, and oooh and aaahh over their candlelit tree. By the time we get home we're tired, need to do the Santa thing, and our tree is getting a little dried out, especially if I haven't been good keeping it watered. So we started "torching the tree" on the solstice. We invite a few friends over, have cookies and cocoa (hot buttered rum for the grownups), and light the tree without the rush-rush-rush of "we need to get this over with so we can open the presents".

It's become a special time. A time where you have to slow down (no running around all those candles!), even if for just 15 minutes. The light is totally unlike electric christmas tree lights. It's warm, glowing. For 15 minutes we stop and think about family, friends, and what's in that present that the candle's dripping wax all over!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Toy Safety

Are you buying toys for little ones this year? You may want to check first. Listed are many toys popular with the under-5 set, with recent test results for lead, cadmium, mercury, and other heavy metals you don't really want kids to be around. Be patient. The site is a little slow, probably due to a lot of traffic.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Did you know that the US is one of only three countries that have not adopted the metric system? Myanmar and Liberia are the other two. What are we waiting for? It's too expensive? Too much of a hassle?

How much of our kids' education is wasted on learning standard units? Three teaspoons per tablespoon, 16 tablespoons per cup, two cups per pint, two pints per quart, four quarts per gallon. How much extra ink is wasted printing two measurements? Or if they don't, then they're printing two kinds of labels, and storing separately packaged product for export to, oh, anywhere. How much waste is there in that? How many factories have to make things in standard and metric? Wasteful. And when someone screws up converting? Or when someone brain farts and uses the wrong system, as was the case with the Mars Climate Orbiter? There was a $150 million that could've gone to metric education and adoption!

Every time I add up my veggie weight, and I do it in ounces, I have to add up all the ounces, divide by 16, write that number off to the side to save for when I add up the pounds, take the remaining decimal, multiply it by 16 to get the remaining ounces, and then add up the pounds. And that's just for weight.

What a frickin' headache. From now on, it'll all be done in metric.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful....

Egads. What a mess. Four inches of snow, followed by 2.76 inches of rain since midnight (and it's only noon!), and you get a real mess. Roads closed and water, water, everywhere. There was water nearly going into the boys' classroom, due to clogged gutters. Apparently they couldn't fix the problem, and as I left, they were going to dig a ditch to try to give the water somewhere to go. I can't see how it will work, since it's a low spot to begin with. Thankfully we haven't had the wind that was forecast.

So, it's a perfect day to hole up and bake! And in case you're also in the mood to bake (sounds like most of the country is socked in), here's my recipe for yummy homemade bread.

First of all, let me say - Get thee an electronic scale!!! Especially if you're new to breadmaking. I don't know what it is about my flour, but I always end up with too much flour if I measure it with my measuring cups. I have three different sets, and it's they are all the same, I checked. Also, if you want to be certain about the amount of salt you add, weigh it. The volume can be radically different for the same weight of salt depending on the manufacturer, and if it's kosher or not. Having the right amount of flour will significantly ease the learning process. I am so adamant about this, I'm not even going to give the measuring cup equivalents!

White Sandwich Loaf
Makes 3 1-1/2 lb loaves

20 ounces (567g) All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons (22g) instant yeast
2 Tablespoons (28g) sugar
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons (30g) vegetable oil
3-3/4 Cup (876g) milk, warmed in the microwave for about a minute or two to take off the chill. You don't want it warmer than about 105 degrees F.
29 ounces (825g) bread flour
Cooking spray

This recipe also takes a Very Large Bowl. Mine is a 4 quart (liter) bowl, and if I had a larger one, I'd use it. In your Very Large Bowl, stir together the all purpose flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the oil and warmed milk. Mix well with a large wooden spoon. Stir in a cup of bread flour at a time until no more flour will go in with a spoon (about 5 Cups). I kind of jab the spoon into the center of the dough to try and work in as much as possible. Don't overdo it, though, you'll get the rest in there in a minute. Your dough will be fairly sticky at this point.

Pour most of the remaining flour onto a clean surface (I have a huge cutting board, but a clean counter will work as well). Turn out the dough onto the floured surface, cover your hands in flour, and knead the dough for 6-7 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep your hands from getting goopy. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or your Very Large Bowl, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Remove the bowl and resume kneading for 5-7 minutes. You may need to add small amounts of flour at a time to keep your dough from sticking to your hands and board. Your dough should be tacky, though, like a Post-It Note. Take out all that tension and aggression on the dough!

Sprinkle a little more flour in the dough bowl (yes, I'm still using my Very Large Bowl), put the dough in it, spritz the top with cooking spray or dust it with flour, and cover it with plastic wrap. The traditional method is to use a damp cloth, but it cools down the dough. Put the dough in a warm place (I use the top of my fridge) and let rise 60-90 minutes at 70-78 degrees (the cooler your house, the longer it takes), until when you poke the dough with a finger, it doesn't spring back.

Turn your dough out onto a LIGHTLY floured surface (you don't want to add flour at this point if you can help it). Flatten out your dough slightly, and divide it into 3pieces (if you have your scale handy, you can weigh them). Flatten out your dough, and place the smoothest side down. Shape into loaves. There are many ways to do this, and a quick internet search on shaping bread loaves will give you enough ways to do it differently each time. Drop it into a greased loaf pan (either a 1lb or 1-1/2lb loaf pan. I use the smaller because I like huge tops, but either will work), spray with cooking spray, or dust with flour, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.

If you like, you can lightly brush the tops with butter or egg wash before putting them into the oven.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn out the loaves onto a cooling rack.

Now here's the hard part - try not to cut them for at least an hour, preferably waiting until they're completely cool. We never can, and sacrifice one loaf almost immediately :-).

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Yesterday afternoon the snow started to fall. We were on our way back from seeing "Enchanted" with my friend, J, and her family. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it if you've grown up (and enjoy) all those Disney princess movies. One of the best movies I've seen in years!

Anyway, we stopped by the store for a few last-minute items for the annual "Guys' Xmas Party." Mr. E still hangs out with the friends he had back in high school, and we had the guys and their families over. When I came out of the store, big, wet flakes were falling like someone had just turned on the snow machine. It kept falling, and we were watching the road and the thermometer to try and determine whether or not we were even going to have the party.

We did. And everyone had a good time. Everyone brought wonderful food and drink, and we talked and laughed and enjoyed ourselves, watching the snow come down. By the time everyone left at midnight, we had about 4" on the ground. The roads weren't too bad since the snow came slowly over a matter of hours.

Today we got another inch before it all turned to rain. Tonight a huge storm is barreling down upon us, and the forecasters have told us to brace for 60mph winds. My heart goes out for our Canadian neighbors who have had over a foot of snow, now the drenching rain to weigh it all down, and the wind to top off everything.

In the meantime, we have all taken bets as to when our right-leaning snowman will crash to the ground. We each have chosen a time when we think it will tumble.

I'm off to do some work for our school. I know I promised to post my bread recipe, and I will soon. I just didn't have time today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Posting, snow, etc.

I've decided that I'm an every-other-day kind of blog poster. Trying to find the time or the insight to blog every day, even for a month, is too taxing to me right now. Maybe once I get the hang of it, I'll be able to whip out intelligent, insightful posts every day. Until then....

Snow is in the forecast again tonight, although they can't come to a consensus as to where or when or how much snow we'll get. I bought some onions as a charm to work against the snow. It only snows when I'm not prepared and am low on milk or something. Maybe I should've bought more eggs....

If you haven't figured it out already, Western Washington is not used to snow and ice. It really is a mess, cancelling school, closing roads, and tying up traffic for hours. We don't get enough snow here to neccessitate large numbers of plows, so unless you live on a main road, you're SOL. Ergo, snow, when it happens, is a huge deal.

On Monday night, it started snowing in earnest. I called Mr. E, letting him know that the forecast models said we were supposed to get 3" of snow. He said "Let me know when it's 32". At 33.3 and dropping, I called again, and he headed home. Fortunately or unfortunately, it stopped before it got to 32, so he had no problems, but just the same.... This is our snow dance.

I do love it when it snows (and I'm prepared!). Hot cocoa, a fire in the woodstove, goulash soup and crusty bread, snowmen, wool sweaters, and Mr. E, "snowed in", sledding on a nearby hill, everyone (with kids) out enjoying another taste of childhood, recalling the huge snows of '70 or '85. (Yeah, I'm a local.)

Next time, my bread recipe!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Winter is in the air! Not quite on the ground yet, though. It snowed heavily for a few hours today. Enough to cover the grass in white, but not enough to stick to the paved surfaces.

The mountains are expected to get over a foot of snow tonight. The boys are itching to go skiing. They'll need to wait a little while longer, though.

With Thanksgiving so early, I have yet to get into the "ho" spirit. The snow helps a little. Usually I have the house all decorated and the lights up the day after turkey-day, but I'm only a third the way there, and we're having a party on Saturday....

I made Impossible Beef Enchilada Pie tonight. Got down to the last ingredient - dang, no baking mix. So I found this one online. Darned if it doesn't work better than the store-bought stuff! No more buying baking mix! Even buying a small box, it goes bad before I've finished with it. I made a quarter batch of the homemade stuff. Yea!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

Bad poetry, but you've been warned....

My First Bird

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
I've ne'er made one before.
I'm really kind of nervous.
It seems like quite a chore.

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
O'er recipe books I pour.
My bird's a thirteen pounder.
I hope I don't need more.

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
I hope it turns out good.
And not like a rubber chicken.
Or tough like a hunk of wood

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
What more can I say?
Than think of me in the kitchen....
Have a happy holiday!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Light and Dark

It's a dark, damp, dank, dreary day. It was so dark at 3pm, I almost turned on the outside lights. It never got above 40 degrees, and rained intermittantly. Thunder rumbled, and hail, well, hailed.

After reading Simple Living's post on white space, I decided that it was time to declutter. I'm realizing how much stuff is slowing me down.

It's so much faster making lunches in the morning if there is counter space available. How much time is wasted looking for a place for this or that? How much time is wasted dusting things, and around things? How much time do I waste searching amongst stuff, trying to find the item I need?

So in the spirit of Flylady, I did five 27-fling boogies. And although not totally cleaned up, the lack of so much stuff makes me feel calmer. Flat surfaces free of stuff definitely bring down my blood pressure. I don't feel all the guilt of having it there in the first place. No embarassing messes. Anyone could walk in at any time. La! What an ideal! Okay, I'm not there yet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I have given up on my search for a heritage turkey for this year. I have found some non-organic, locally grown ones, however, so that'll have to do. The only ones I can find are fresh ones, so I'll have to wait until Tuesday to get my bird. I'll brine her on Wednesday, along with making the pies, starting the rolls, and making more detailed lists.

I am totally scatterbrained, which is not unusual, but this cold makes me more so. Even with a shopping list, I forgot half the stuff I went to the store for today. I kept getting sidetracked - OH! what gorgeous leeks! I must have a couple! Even though I have no idea what I'll use them for. Need potatoes for potato leek soup. Can't think of what else goes into it, though. Huge crowds didn't help at all.

Even at home, I can't seem to remember the most basic things. The boys' coats have mud all over them, and I've only now thrown them in the wash. Thing 1's hood needs to be sewn on as well. So much for an early night. I'll be knitting and watching Persuasion for a while....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Comments Anyone?

I had to delete a comment today. I'm not terribly sure what it said, as it was written in what I believe to be Portugese. English I can handle, although some words in The Queen's English and Australian English cause me to run for the dictionary (or Google). I took French in school, and have access to German translation. Spanish, if it's basic, I can sometimes muddle through, given its resemblance to French.

Other than that, folks, if I can't read it, I delete it.

Sorry to the poster if it was legit.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ecos Laundry Detergent

I just switched to ECOS Laundry Detergent today. I used Tide before, and had to use Tide Cold Water for anything washed in cold water during the winter. Powdered Tide simply won't dissolve in our frigid winter water temps.

My friend, M, usually gets all my boys' hand-me-down clothes, and she commented that she can always tell who the clothes come from because of the strong scent that Tide uses. I'd prefer no scent at all, but my local Costco doesn't carry Tide Free.

Trying to wean myself off oil as much as possible, I decided to try ECOS. It's vegetable based. I must admit, I was sceptical about how well it would work. It's a very thick liquid, and you use only 1/4 cup per load. More concentrated = less packaging. I like that.

I've run a few loads today, and everything has come out clean, and with no scent at all, even though it says it's "magnolia and lily" scented (granted, I do have a cold, but it's not that bad). I didn't have anything with stains on it in the load, or any mud-caked jeans or socks, though. I usually have a tough time with towels. They generally have an unclean smell to them, even though I wash them on hot and dump lots of borax or other laundry booster in with them. I detected none of that this time, and I didn't add anything extra.

So, so far, so good. Maybe now M won't know who the clothes came from.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Ugh. Sick. Brain non-functioning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Virus


There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand. This virus is called Weary-Overload-Recreational-Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your personal life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK, immediately take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work-Isolating-Neutralizer-Extract (WINE) or Bothersome-Employer-Elimination-Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I'm not doing so well at NaBloPoMo. Had lots on my mind the last few days, and instead of posting, or at least being generally productive, I've been pacing, researching stuff online, and basically procrastinating and being useless. I promise a better post tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Wind

After a weekend that seemed very chilly, since I was outside freezing my (insert body part here) off watching the boys' soccer games, it sounds like we're in for another wind storm. Depending on who you listen to, we're in for gusts somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60mph tomorrow.

So we'll be hunkered down, reading, knitting (me), playing games, watching the leaves fly about, what have you, since the boys are off school. I was thinking about taking them to the movies, but there's nothing good out right now. All the kids' movies are "rotten" according to my favorite movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes.

The snow level is dropping like a rock, and while it won't be snowing here, it will be definitely colder. Highs that had been in the 50s, will only get to the 40s. Lows will get closer to the snowflake mark, and we'll be watching for "lumpy rain".

Hold on to your hats, Northwesterners! Here comes round 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Oh, deer!

Deer and cars do not mix. They have a tendency to do damage to one another, and should be kept strictly separated.

I was on my way to pick up the boys from school, minding my own business, hands at ten and two, eyes on the road, when all of a sudden...

WHAM! And I see a deer's head, right there in the side window next to me. AAAAGGGH! Where did it come from? Where did it go?

There was no body, so I assume it was all right, though probably a bit worse for wear. It just darted into the road from tall bushes, right into the side of my car. My mirror was shorn off, although there was no other body damage to the car. I pulled over to check for a body, and to pick up the pieces of my mirror. Some twit coming the other way honked at me - okay, can you see that my car is damaged, and that I'm picking up car parts in the other lane? Apparently not.

So today's fun and games have so far included a massive online search for a new mirror (none found), and will continue with calling places to fix my mirror. Unfortunately it was a hit-and-run accident. I'm sure the deer didn't have insurance. If I see it again, I'll cite it for failure to yield right-of-way, improper lane travel, leaving the scene of an accident....

In happier news, our electricity usage was down 11% over the same time last year. Yea!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Using less water

Not sure how we managed it, but we used 30% less water during Sept/October than we did the year previous. Wooo-hoo! I'm sure the wet months helped - I didn't need to irrigate the garden. Still, that's quite a bit of water saved. Good job, family!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


One of my favorite fall foods is beef stew. I make it in the crock pot; it's the only thing I make in the crock pot.

Soups and stews are great, since it's the only way I can get Thing 1 to eat a vegetable. I tuck all manner of things in there, and he never knows what goes into him. Obviously he can tell peas and carrots, but he'd never eat a parsnip or a turnip if he could help it. Tonight's stew only had potatoes, carrots, and peas from the garden. I didn't put anything too wild in it.

We made Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits, which were pretty darn good. His recipe calls for a lot more baking powder and a lot less butter than mine. I tried out his method of using one's fingers to cut in the butter and shortening, and although messy, it worked well. You are able to feel any large chunks and smoosh them, whereas with a pastry cutter, you'd never feel them. I think a food processor would work well, so long as you didn't overprocess and heat up the butter and shortening.

That's all for today. I've been cleaning my mess room (computer/craft room), and have a headache, probably from all the dust! However, the room is much cleaner, and I should have it completed tomorrow, all ready for the Christmas rush.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I noticed yesterday that gas was up over $3 a gallon again. With soccer winding down, I'm thinking conservation again.

Being that we're a way from anywhere (Clif Bar's 2 Mile Challenge will get me precisely nowhere), it's almost necessary to drive for anything. I try to park in one place once I get there and walk to the different stores for my shopping. I drive in one direction for any "big box" shopping kept to one day a week, the library, grocery store and small-shop shopping, which is in the other direction, on another. Hopefully I keep my car in the garage for the other 5 days.

Thing 2 wants to start riding bikes to the store. I've thought about this in the past, and have even picked out a bike trailer to haul the stuff. But I'm pathetically out of shape, and our area is very hilly. I used to ride all over the place in my younger days, and I'd enjoy riding again. Heaven knows I need the exercise, but....

The roads we live on are heavily travelled by huge trucks that don't give a hoot if you're on the road or not. They frequently cross over the center line as you're coming at them in the other direction (in a car, I mean). There are several blind corners, and Mr. E is terrified that I'll die, and has strictly forbidden Thing 2 from riding on the road. Lots of bicyclists travel around here - it's very pretty - and I haven't heard of anyone killed or injured. I checked the local papers online, and even the big papers, and can't find anything for this area. Of course, even if a house burns down around here, it doesn't make the news.

Mr. E's answer is to drive our bikes down to the trails, and ride from there. Which is fine for a ride, but Thing 2's purpose (and mine) is to ditch the car in the first place. Get your exercise in while doing the shopping.

I guess I'll need to actually ride a bit before I start worrying about shopping on bike. Until then, I'll fork over the money for gas, and keep my shopping trips to a minimum.

If anybody knows what happened to Path to Freedom, could you please drop me a line? I haven't been able to view their website for days.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Gardening in November

Ooooohhh. Do I ache.

Today was one of those rare (for November), partly cloudy, warm-enough-to-get-by-with-just-a-sweatshirt days. So I spent four hours putting about in the garden. Which means I:

1. Planted the rest of the garlic, bringing me to a total of 80 heads.

2. Cleared one of my 100 sq ft veggie beds of weeds. You could barely see the broccoli, and the shorter spinach was completely lost.

3. Dug up some of the horseradish.

4. Cut down the crocosmia, black-eyed-susans, penstemon, and some other plants for the winter.

Monday and Tuesday are also supposed to be nice, so I'll head out in the afternoons to deal with the yard.

Until then, my bath (loaded with bath salts) awaits....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Baking Day

Today was baking day. Thing 2 and I managed four dozen chocolate chip cookies, a dozen blueberry muffins, and a loaf of light wheat bread before lunch.

The chocolate chip cookies were Toll House ones (no nuts). Usually I do the pan variety, since it's so much faster, but today Thing 2 gave me his best pathetic Puss-in-Boots-in-Shrek II look and asked "Could we please make circle cookies?" Apparently they just don't taste the same. Which, come to think of it, they don't. "Circle" cookies are much crisper. I guess I prefer chewy.

During baking time, I got to explain all the reasons why you do this and that. Like why you use frozen blueberries, and not thawed (they don't explode as much). Or why you have to be careful how much you stir the batter (the muffins won't rise as much). And what the difference is between baking powder and baking soda.

I never got any of that when I was a kid. Almost everything came from a boxed mix. Which was fine. My mom isn't into baking from scratch; I am. So every chance I get, I like to learn about the reasons or the chemistry behind cooking techniques or recipes.

I taught myself how to make bread. It's been a long journey. One of the first batches I made, I made a quick run to the store while it was baking. When I returned home, I found out that the thermostat in the oven went wacko, and the bread was horribly burned. Black, really. I tossed the smouldering rocks on the back porch and forgot about them overnight. The next morning, I looked out the door to find a squirrel's rear end poking out of the loaf. He ate his way into the center, and was cleaning it out from the inside. A most bizarre sight to be sure.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice was my epiphany. I finally understood what dough should feel like. I had been adding way too much flour, and was rewarded with very dense bread. Although I have never achieved "windowpane", my breads are now light and tasty. And aside from cracking the window on the oven while trying to spray water on a baking loaf, I haven't had any disasters. Sourdough is my next hurdle.

I'm looking forward to my next baking day with Thing 2. He shows the same curiosity about food preparation that I did when I was his age. I hope I am showing him a no-fear, box-free path to baking.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Brrrrr. Woke up to 23.7 degrees. Anything that's not perennial is definitely dead now. The boys bundled themselves up complete with stocking hats and their heavy ski gloves before facing the elements at the bus stop.

Thing 2 is all excited. We're spending a good part of tomorrow baking. Chocolate chip cookies and one or two kinds of bread are on the list of things he wants to make. We're on our last loaf of white sandwich bread, and we could use some light wheat or whole wheat bread as well. I'd like to try out these Holiday Rolls too, as I think they would go very well with the turkey for Thanksgiving. I want to try them first rather than make them for the first time on T-day.

Forgive me for such a lame post. All I can say is I was attacked by a dementor today. Mr. E brought me a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, which, although it wasn't chocolate, helped a little. Frankly, it was damn good. But all I can think of doing is crawling in bed with Sense and Sensibility, which I'm reading for only the fourth time.

Better and brighter tomorrow.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

National Blog Posting Month... But wait! There's more!

It's National Blog Posting Month! For those not in the know, it's an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month, where you're supposed to write an entire novel in a month. Being the novel reading type, not the writing kind, I decided to jump on this instead. All I'm supposed to do is write an entry a day. Much easier.

So if you haven't seen it, the latest in fast food, pancakes in a can, the Batter Blaster. How this can be labeled as organic is beyond me, especially since I'm certain that the propellant cannot possibly be so. You have to watch the demo. No. Really. You do.

So is this really such a time saver? I can whip up a batch of pancakes in the two or three minutes it takes the skillet to heat up, and while you're waiting for the pancakes to cook, do the dishes, already. I just throw them in the dishwasher anyway. A bowl, a liquid measuring cup, a dry measuring cup, a set of measuring spoons, and a batter spoon, and a small bowl to melt butter in. Wow. Tons of dishes to do. Heck, make up a huge batch on the weekend, stick the leftovers in the fridge, and nuke them for a few seconds. Even faster and they really taste just fine. Promise.

I wonder what the markup on something like that is. Not worth the money, in my opinion.

Thankfully, no store in my area carries it. Yet.

Ah, yes. Yesterday was Halloween. One of my fave holidays. When else do I get to dress up as the Slightly Wicked Witch of the Northwest (hiking boots, jeans, plaid flannel shirt, Gore-tex raincoat, and hat) and sneak candy bars? Especially Reese's peanut butter cups? I'm turning into a pumpkin....

Speaking of pumpkins, I rather like how my jack-o-lantern turned out, although it took WAAAAAAAYYYYY too long:

And this is of some of the maples in our yard a couple weeks ago, that I've been meaning to put up here, but haven't found the opportunity:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Good Word

Although I haven't been tagged, I'm picking up "The Bloody Good Words Meme: thirteen words (in no particular order) without which life would be ineffably dull" from Hedgewizard's Diary.

1. undulate - Mr. E introduced me to this word, early in our marriage. Although it means hilly or lumpy, I always associate it with him.
2. snuggleupagus - not to be confused with Snuffleufagus, the character from Sesame Street. A home-made word referring to someone you are snuggled up to.
3. acrimony - you can just feel the bitterness when you say it....
4. onomatopoeia - I learned this word when I was in third grade. Thus began my love of very long words, which led to my reading the chemicals listed on the sides of cereal boxes, which in turn led to my becoming a chemist.
5. dalliance - it even sounds flirty.
6. liberal - in the sense "tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded; specifically, not orthodox or conventional"
7. plethora - from one of my favorite quotable movies "Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?"
8. mirth - what would life be like without it?
9. isthmus - again, I love the way my mouth feels when I say it.
10. lollygag - from another favorite quotable movie "You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you?"
11. caprice - a Jane word that I totally love.
12. effervesce - what's life without a little bubbly? Of course I prefer mine in the form of Coca-cola.
13. acquaintance - a totally underused word. How else can you describe someone you've met, but don't know very well? Or you don't care for the person enough to call them "friend"?

Friday, October 26, 2007

First Frost

We had our first frost last night. It's almost a celebration here. Something that I watch for. A signal of the end of the gardening year (except for all the overwintering veggies). It's time to run out with the pruners and clean the garden up for the winter. The trees that haven't turned and lost their leaves will start doing so now. Another couple of weeks and they will all be bare. Thing 2 looked out the window this morning and, with a smile on his face, exclaimed "Frost!" You'd have thought it had snowed.

There is something definite about first frost. Tender plants wither and turn to mush. The grass is all white. Tiny ice crystals in different forms beg to be investigated quick! before they've melted. The crunch, crunch of the grass under your feet. Those really cool tall crystals that lift up the dirt or mulch, ready to be picked up, measured, then smashed by small feet. The days are sunny and crisp. Real fall is here.

With last frost, you're never certain until it's a couple of weeks later, and then you can say "I guess last frost was last Thursday," or whatever. It's just not the same.

A few more frosts will need to happen before I dig up the horseradish. I'll probably pull the fall carrots this weekend. A little frost makes them oh-so sweet. It looks like we're in for a run of non-rainy weather, so it's a perfect time to get all those yard chores done.

Today we're out to a farm to pick our pumpkins. I'm planning on doing a cat for mine. If you want to try out your design before you slice, check out this nifty tool: Pumpkin Simulator

I'm hoping to also find some pie pumpkins to freeze. I found out last Sunday that I'm doing Thanksgiving dinner this year. The last time I did that, I'm suprised we didn't get sick - the turkey was totally undercooked.

We take turns being at my parents' place or Mr. E's parents'. It's the inlaws turn, but their oven is broken, and since they're living it up in Hawaii right now, they won't have a chance to get it fixed before turkey day. So, I'll do the honors. Thing 2 has asked for lots of stuffing, and cranberry fluff, a salad made with crushed cranberries, apples, grapes, nuts, and Cool-Whip. I have no excuse other than it's a tradition. {hanging my head in shame}

Mr. E doesn't like turkey, or pumpkin pie, or cranberries, for that matter. Thanksgiving is totally lost on him. Poor guy. I'm hoping to try a heritage turkey this year. I hear that people that don't like turkey, sometimes like heritage birds. The trick is finding one....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I just got the natural gas bill, and it said that this last month was on average 5 degrees colder than last year. I think the weather gods saw that and tried to make up for it all at once. In a bizarre change of weather, we suddenly have sun and VERY warm temps for this time of year. 78 degrees!

I went out to plant my garlic in a sweatshirt, but with all the digging and loosening of the soil, I turned into a puddle. So I changed into a 3/4 length sleeve knit shirt, and was working in the shade, and still was too hot. I finally had to dig out a t-shirt.

So with all the changing going on, and in and out of the house, I only got half the garlic planted. It's still 40 cloves, but I still need to plant the softneck garlic.

I love garlic. I grow Music, which is a potent, hardneck variety, and Inchelium Red, which is the softneck. I tried to plant them on tight spacings last year, but they didn't do so well. This year I dug in lots of compost, and planted 10 across my 4-foot bed, and made each row 9 inches apart. I'm going to mulch them with a lawn clipping/shredded leaf mix this year since we're supposed to have a cold winter. Hopefully that will also keep the weeds at bay, as well.

Music keeps forever in my garage, and I braid the softneck, which lasts until spring hanging in my kitchen. I haven't purchased garlic in at least five years.

Thanks to those who have posted comments! I'm not ignoring you. Things have been a little hectic lately.

My friends and I have been trying to solve the Emerald City Search. We're not having much luck with it. Every place we've checked out has yielded nothing. Waaaaayyyyy too much time spent puzzling it out. I finally had to give it a break yesterday as the laundry was piled high, the house a disaster, and bread needed to be made. After a marathon day, I felt I could take it a little easy today, but tomorrow will be another busy one.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tears in my eyes

I always wonders if the lectures ever get through to my kids. I think something made it through.

Thing 2 informed me that a group of kids from his class are forming a "Green Club", with the goals of getting the school to recycle more and planting trees and flowers. They're kind of all over the place right now, with ideas of veggie beds, worm bins, and all sorts of things.

I praised him for wanting to enact positive change for his school, and printed out some information from different green school campaigns. I advised him to take some simple steps at first, and build from there. I don't want them to get frustrated dealing with the bureaucracy of the school system. He also brought a catalogue of drought-resistant plants to school.

Backpack stuffed, ideas bursting from his head, I sent my little environmental advocate off to school.

Now if I could just get him to turn off the lights when he leaves the room....

Thursday, October 18, 2007


We are expecting our first windstorm of the season today. Depending on how close the low comes to us, we could have wind gusts of 50mph. Right now it is calm. A time to get all the laundry done, and pick up anything outside that will fly away.

I love windstorms. Granted, I live in a relatively treeless area, so power outages are generally short lived, and I have never experienced a tree going through my house. Our big windstorm last year left us without power for 10 hours or so. It went out just after the boys went to bed, and was on by the time they got up. My parent's house was out for 10 days.

I enjoy the feeling of hunkering down, not being able to watch the TV, or mess about on the computer. A fire burns in the wood stove. Thing 2 makes a "nest" of blankets and pillows, laying on the floor in front of the stove, book in hand. Candles are burning, and I heat water for tea or hot chocolate on the wood stove. We play games while there's light enough to see, and tell stories when there isn't. Mr. E has a few ongoing stories that the boys love. It used to be Captain Smile and Mr. Hurt, or Agent Cobra and Agent Viper. Mostly they love Willard stories - an obese seagull that floats off the ferry dock next to the McDonald's in Seattle, that often gets mistaken for a buoy.

I alway feel like I have to get prepared whenever there's an "event" like this, whether wind or snow. It never fails that when I am prepared, nothing happens, and when I'm not - well, that's when we get 10" of snow*. There's enough in the freezer and the pantry that we could last for a month if we had to, but it always seems like I'm that one magic ingredient short for this or that. Ah, well. One of these days I need to learn how to cook by putting together the things I have instead of going strictly by a recipe.

So, off to get "prepared" and ensure that this isn't anything more than a light blow.

*Ok, I can drive in the snow, sort of. I live in a really hilly area (100-250ft elevation per mile driven) with no guardrails, pathetic plowing, and a bunch of nuts in their SUVs driving over the speed limit, not caring which lane they're in.

Later -

Looks like we had a 40mph gust. Not bad for the first storm of the season. Lost power for about 3 hours this afternoon. Got it back just in time to make dinner. All's well, but the backyard looks a mess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

World Food Day

I missed the Blog for the Environment Day. I was busy catching up with the house after taking a relaxing weekend at a friend-of-a-friend's cabin on an island out in Puget Sound. But more on that later.

Last night I caught the tail end of a Nova program on epigenetics. I was amazed at the ability of the environment to affect not just my own life, but the lives of my grandchildren, even if they have not been exposed to the same environment.

That's not very clear. Let me put it this way. Researchers found out that males exposed to famine during late childhood, had a four times greater chance of having grandchildren with diabetes.

In other words, choices that we make with regards to health habits (smoking, drugs), pesticides that we are exposed to, famine or too much food, has an effect not only on our own bodies, but of our children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, even if they have not been exposed to the same drugs, pesticides, or food allotments. That cigarette is not only hurting you, but it's hurting your yet unborn children's children, as is that Big Mac! Talk about a legacy.

Pesticides are one of the things that alters the epigenome. I have a degree in chemistry, and the more I look at all the stuff that they're dumping on the food I eat, the more questions I am asking myself. Do I really want to trust that this food has been sprayed with chemicals deemed "safe" by the EPA/FDA? Shouldn't I trust that my government will not allow something that is bad for me on my food?

I used to drink diet soda with Nutrasweet (aspartame) every day. I don't think I drank a lot of it. Maybe a two or three cans a day. One day, back in 1990, I started getting horrible headaches. It felt as though someone was jabbing a knitting needle in between the lobes of my brain. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and this left me in tears in the middle of work. After a couple of months of this, I started breaking out in hives on my neck. Finally, a co-worker showed me an article that attributed my headaches to Nutrasweet. Other people had reported having the same reaction to it. This was sold to the public as being "safe". It was fast-tracked throught the FDA as a replacement for saccharin.

From Wikipedia:
"After initial rejection by the FDA due to studies linking it to brain cancer, FDA commissioner Arthur Hayes approved aspartame for human consumption in 1981. In 1983, Hayes quit the FDA under allegiations of accepting corporate gifts and joined Searle's public-relations firm as senior medical advisor."

Searle is the company that manufactured Nutrasweet before it was bought out by Monsanto. Awfully fishy, don't you think?

Am I going to trust our government agencies to decide what is safe in or on my food anymore? No way. And that not only goes for pesticides, but the chemicals that go in my food, GMOs, and how animals that I eat are treated.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

No more strawberries

Well, I have called a moratorium on purchasing conventionally grown strawberries. If you haven't heard, the FDA is allowing the use of Methyl Iodide on plants. Mmmm. Tasty. Just what you want to feed to your kids.

How many field workers do you suppose will be sickened by this stuff? Read the recommended protective gear on the Methyl Iodide link. Supplied air, full-facepiece respirator? How many field workers have you seen wearing one of those? How many strawberry farmers do you suppose have one (or will get one?) They'll just load it into their tractor sprayers, set off, and heaven help them when the wind is behind them.

It's getting insane what they put on or in food these days. It's getting to the point where I don't want to buy anything from the store!

Take bread, for example. How long does store-bought bread last for you before it goes all moldy? Maybe a week? Even with all the anti-fungal chemicals and preservatives. I've had my homemade bread last for two (before we ate it all) without going moldy. I realize that a bakery has prime conditions for mold, but my insides don't need fungicide, thank you. Maybe they should do something about their operating conditions, instead. I can't think that the working conditions are that healthy if they allow that much mold in their bakeries.

Have I said that making bread is easy? Let me tell you again. Once you get the hang of it, it's easier than pie. You get a light upper-body workout, and can take your agressions out on the dough rather than... well, whatever you take your agression out on. Your house smells wonderful, and nothing beats the taste of fresh-baked bread. I'm tweaking my recipes, and will put them online in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gender Bonding

Ugh. Mr. E SO owes me. Two soccer games in rain and wind, and 50-degree weather. Brrrrr. Mr. E gets back today from his guys' weekend at the ocean.

Most husbands around here take a week or a long weekend and go fishing or hunting with their buddies. Ever since they were old enough to drive, Mr. E and friends go for a long weekend and play games. I'm not talking Monopoly, here, or even poker. These are brainy strategy games they don't carry at Target or Toys R Us. Like Torres, Ticket to Ride, and Puerto Rico.

It started as a weekend getaway at a friend's parents' vacation house, moved to another, then out to a rented house at Ocean Shores, then to Moclips, and now to a friend's house near Ocean Shores. They used to eat Cheetos and Squirt, and breakfast was Cap'n Crunch cereal. Sometime in their mid-thirties, they came home feeling so sick, they decided they couldn't do that anymore, and have since substituted real food, except for the Squirt. No heavy drinking (no drinking at all until quite recently). No chasing girls. It was in our "marriage contract" that he would go on this outing with his friends once a year. I suppose I'd rather he did that than some other "entertainments" men find to do.

When they moved the weekend to the ocean, they started building sand castles. Nothing artistic. Put together a civil engineer, a contractor, and hand shovels to four other guys, and they build a fortress. Their goal: to keep the tide back for as long as possible. They start early, because it has to be finished before high tide. Sometimes they're so successful, parts of the fort are still around the next day, but they don't like that. Someone might damage their car driving around on the beach at night.

It's my turn for a girls' weekend next!

Friday, October 5, 2007

New Look

Okay, so I hated that old skin. This is much better. Nice and green, and my eyes don't pop out from the pink and orange clashing. I'm sure you're thankful, too.

Got quite a bit done 'round the homestead today. Fixed the light sensor on the lamppost so that it actually turns off during the day. This turned out to be much more work than originally planned.

First off, the blasted screws were stuck. This led to an emergency trip to the hardware store and the library. Once you're out, you're out, right? And once you're at the store looking for WD-40, you remember all the other stuff you need to get, like fertilizer for the lawn.

Being that it's a gorgemous day (yes, you read that right), we walked to the library, which took a little extra time, but I saved in gas, right? The library was a really quick trip. Thing 1 and Thing 2 had their shiny new library cards in hand, and were dying to use them.

Back home and I sprayed the heck out of the screws. After a time pulling out the squash vines and weeding a bit, I went back to try the screws again. Didn't budge. After 30 minutes of prying, banging, and cussing, I managed to get the screws loose and the top off. But then I couldn't get the blasted twisty-thingies off the wires. Thankfully Thing 2 was there to help out, running back and forth to the garage for wire cutters, new twisty-thingies, and his brother. They took turns holding the lamp while I rewired the thing. Ta-Da! It worked (Thank the stars)! So now I won't be wasting electricity during the day anymore.

How much could one lamp use? Let's see: Average 12 hours (that it has been on when it shouldn't) x 60 watts x 365 days = 262.8 kW. Yikes! I need to get a CFL bulb in there soon.

After that wonderful sense of accomplishment in the field of wiring, I headed back to the field of - well, the field. Ripped out all of the tomatoes, unmangled*, stacked and stored the cages, pulled up all 400 feet of soaker hoses and stored them, and pulled more weeds. Thing 1 pulled up all 8 1/2 lbs of carrots for me, which I washed and stored.

All that fresh air and exercise wiped me out, so we went out to eat. I'm off to bed soon, with Henry David (Thoreau, dear. The book, not the dead guy. That would be really gross, whilst somehow keeping with the Halloween spirit. I'll pass.).

*Mr. E ran over my tomato cages with the lawn mower, claiming that there wasn't enough room between veg beds. Which is all very suspicious, since we measured that very carefully when we put them in, giving him two extra inches just to be sure.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Is there anybody out there?

Just curious. Anybody out there actually reading my trials as a stay-at-home mom?

A trying day today. The boys were sent to the principal for fighting. Grrr. They never hit each other at home. It's been so long, I can't remember the last time it happened. I don't understand the agression that comes out at school, especially Thing 1.

I'm tired of lecturing them. My heart breaks. I've always taught them that brothers have a special bond that's there for life, and to never raise their hand against the other. I thought the lesson worked. Til today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Winding Down

I took the opportunity to take a few photos while it wasn't raining. We have four sugar maples which are simply gorgeous this time of year. They always turn one at a time, from north to south. I can't wait for the day we finally get to tap them for homemade maple syrup. It's a couple years off yet, at least.

I think I know where they came up with the idea of Shrek's ears. I have no idea what these are called, but they look cute on my bird feeder roof.

Monday I pulled out the rest of the tomatoes off the vines and started pulling them out of the ground. I found many more acorn squash that were hiding amongst the vines which are succombing to our fall weather. It was a challenge, dashing out between downpours. I'm afraid I've left a mess which will have to wait until tomorrow or, more likely, Friday. It's supposed to be nice then, and I have a laundry list of things to get accomplished. Like weeding the spinach, planting the garlic, cleaning up the veg beds, seeding cover crop, and fixing the lamppost.

I'm laughing now at my post less than a month ago, where I thought I'd only get 125lbs of produce from the garden. Now I'm thinking I'll get something like 175lbs.

I made a dent yesterday in the tomatoes that were all over my kitchen. I made four pints of pizza sauce. We'll see how they turn out. They tasted awfully lemony, and a little thin. I dumped in twice the amount of oregano and four times the garlic powder called for, and it still wasn't enough.

It's hard for me to judge what things will taste like after they've been canned and mellowing for a few weeks. The strawberry jam I made in June tasted way too sweet right away, but has since gotten better. I'm assuming that the salsa I made will be the same way.

Note to self on the strawberry jam: Make at least two batches, as Thing 1 really loves it for breakfast!

Also note to self: Be very careful when carrying gravy to the table! I made the second-biggest mess of my life the other day. I was getting dinner on the table, and was taking the cream gravy, putting a spoon in it as I went. I was right next to the table, when the gravy dish dropped right out of my hand! WHAM! it hit the floor, right side up and EXPLODED! Gravy flew everywhere! On the table leg, gobs on the braided rug, all over my cloth-cushioned chair, 12 feet down the hall, and almost to the ceiling up the wall 10 feet away. Somehow it managed to miss the clock on the wall, and another chair in the corner. Wow. It was impressive. If I wasn't in such a dither trying to get it all cleaned up before it stained, I would've taken a picture.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from school, telling me that Thing 2 had a fever. I rushed over and brought him home, took his temperature. He was only 99.3, and still pretty peppy even though he had a stomachache.

As the day wore on, the fever increased, and so did my anxiety. You see, Thing 2 is Type I diabetic, which throws a whole new spin on sick days. He wasn't eating, and he needs some carbohydrates to keep his blood sugar high enough to keep him from passing out. Thankfully Gatorade was palatable, and he sipped it slowly throughout the day.

By the time dinner rolled around, I felt like I had to get something in his stomach. The list of usual sick-day food wasn't sounding good to him, so I threw out acorn squash to see if anything would work. His eyes lit up a little at that, so I steamed some, mashed it with butter (mistake) and brown sugar. He made it through a little bit, then started to feel sick. This is where I panic, since he had just had insulin, and if he upchucked, what carbs would I be able to get in him then? Thankfully, he kept it down, we made it through the day, and he slept soundly all night.

On top of all this, we have to check for ketones in his urine, because if they get too high, they can cause nausea and vomiting, and then we're pretty close to going to the hospital.

So, hopefully you understand that I was holding my breath all day yesterday. (But apparently not my fingers, looking at my last post - cringe.)

This morning he woke up smiling with no fever. He's still in his Sponge Bob pjs, but he's up playing with his toys, singing and making Boy Noises. Food still isn't sounding good to him, but when it does, I'll be taking it slow this time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I'm in a pissed-off mood today, stemming from many things, not the least of which is a pounding headache that I suspect is from the sulfites in the wine I had last night.

So I'm reading all my favorite blogs, and I come across one of a woman who has moved to my old hometown from somewhere in the midwest. She and her husband are really fixing up their place, and are very industrious, and watching all that they do kind of kicks me in the butt. They're off in the country, building their homestead, raising goats.

One night, they hear a horrible screaming sound. And they're pretty shaken up by it. The goats are fine, so they wait until morning. They go on a little walk to where they heard the sound that tore them from their beds in the middle of the night, and they've found two burrows or dens (I can't tell which from the photos.) Now, having grown up here all my life, I have come to the conclusion that it was probably coyotes grabbing a rabbit. If you've never heard a rabbit scream, it's truly amazing that such a sound can come from a small creature. I can't tell if the rabbits are on the property, or if the coyotes are. Doesn't really matter to me.

What does matter to me is their response to the wild animals. Tear down all the woods, and develop the land. Kill the wild animals or drive them out. This is the 21st century, people! Protect your livestock with fencing and leave the coyotes alone.

We had coyotes in the woods behind our house, until one evening we heard gunshots, and no more coyotes. Ever since we have been overrun with rabbits, rats, moles, voles, and any number of other rodents. Thanks a lot, whoever killed the coyotes. Did you bother to take into account my vegetable garden? My food source?

So what I didn't mention, is that the blogger I was reading is one of those over-the-top religious types. Normally I stay away from that kind of thing, but the combination of homesteading, my hometown, and they're starting from scratch kind of grabbed me. Is this kill all the animals thing religious hickdom? I thought they were supposed to take care of God's creatures?

Which brings me to my other rant. My over-the-top religious neighbors put up a sign that says "Pray to end abortion". Great. My personal feelings aside, is this really appropriate for a dead-end street with tons of young children on it? I don't think so. Who, except for us and a busload of elementary students is going to see it? Do they think God appreciates it? Do they honestly think they're going to convert a handful of people sticking a sign up in their yard? Sorry. It makes me even more against the right-wing lunatics, and more firm in my beliefs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall - It's Here!

Temps are dipping into the 30s at night now, and snow is forecast as low as the passes on Friday. Fall is here!

I am busy pulling in produce from the garden as we only have 2-3 weeks before frost, and dealing with it one way or another. At one point I had about 15lbs of tomatoes, 10+ lbs acorn squash, 12lbs pears, 10+ lbs apples and 6lbs of carrots on my counter, and I realized why the Pilgrims had Thanksgiving. The women were sick of trying to find ways to store all the food! Put it in their bellies!

I now have 8 pints of spicy salsa put up. Today I'm canning all the pears, this time using wide-mouth jars. I didn't understand the need for them before. Now I do! This should be a much easier. I haven't made the pie/cake for Mr. E's coworkers yet. Probably won't happen until Thursday as I don't have the buttermilk for one or shortening for the other.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's Up?

So here's what I've been up to lately, besides the usual stuff.

Obviously the weather has changed. This is what the woods out back look like on a misty morning. On days like these, I'm wondering where the "old man clothed all in leather" is. I probably would call the police if he showed up at the door....

This will eventually be a moebius scarf for my mom. It's roman stripe pattern in some yarn whose name has since been lost. It's the first time I have ever 1.) Used lace weight yarn and 2.) used a provisional cast on. It took me a year and at least thirty attempts to finally figure out the cast on, and only because some wonderful person made a video of how to do it. What can I say. I'm a visual learner.

Speaking of learning, my two boys passed their 3rd and 5th grade WASL! Woo-hoo! Not that I like the WASL. As far as I'm concerned, it's just one more stress I don't need to deal with. I can't figure out what they're asking for half the time, especially on the math. "What is 2+2? Use a chart to find your answer. Explain how you got your answer." Hmmm. It just is? Funny thing is, they smoke their levels testing each year.... At least they didn't come home with huge packets of extra work so they can pass the 4th/6th WASL.

In the kitchen, I am trying to deal with a large pile of apples. So I canned 6 pints of Curried Apple Chutney, which used up 10 apples. I'm thinking that Sunday will be Salsa day, and either an apple pie or apple cake to send with Mr. E to work, and Monday or Tuesday I'll be canning pears that were on sale at the store ($0.69/lb).

Of course more bread this week. I was low on milk and used powdered instead, and it didn't come out near as nicely. I'm thinking of making my own hamburger buns. It's got to be cheaper (not to mention better for us) to make my own vs $2.50 for 12? I should do the math one of these days.

Fall is definitely here - I had to turn on the furnace yesterday, as it was 67 degrees and dropping in the house during the day. I'm charting our energy and water usage, trying to see how far I can reduce. I'm doing well, except for natural gas, and I believe the reasons for it are the fact that I have two growing boys whose clothes are getting bigger, and therefore I'm doing more laundry (slightly), and that they are taking more showers than they used to, especially with soccer. The last one is a good thing, though! I'm also canning more, which would use more gas as well. It's not like the amount of gas has gone up a lot, either. A little over 2 therms for the month, but that'd be a 12% increase over the same time last year.

There are some people who are taking the reductions to a totally different level, trying to reduce their use to only 10% of the average American's! I'm not sure that would be possible for me without freezing and using candles for lighting. Currently, our electricity usage is 4.3% less than the average household. Only 18% of our lights are CFL, so I think we can do a lot more there. They have some sort of credit for using hydro, which we do for the most part, but I think that's kind of cheating. Our natural gas usage is 11.7% below the national average, and our water usage is 36% less than average. Of course they go on to other things like gasoline, garbage, food, and "stuff", but that's way too much for my small brain to handle just now. Definitely a worthy goal, however.

Okay, I feel like I've touched briefly on way too many topics today. I'll try to do better in the future.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Slowing to a Slug's Pace

The last two days have been slow. Thing 1 caught a cold, and is now in bed with a temp of 101.3.

Our typical fall weather is upon us, with rain, rain, and more rain. Not the typical downpours of most places, just a gentle, chilly, misty, pervasive wetness. They say that Northwesterners have more words for rain than any other place, kind of like eskimos and snow. I have yet to find a word that describes something between drizzle and light rain. Rizzle? That's what we had yesterday. Slug and snail heaven.

Thing 2's soccer game yesterday was in the middle of the wettest time, and as soon as he was home, I threw him in the bathtub, where he stewed for an hour. Hot chocolate is the boys' drink of choice on days like these, usually with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, although I thought it a bit early in the season to start that. I did, however, start a fire in the wood stove, which warmed the house nicely. Maybe a bit too much, as the thermometer read 78 in the family room. Mr. E watched sports on tv, and dozed, while Thing 2 made a "nest" out of pillows and blankets in front of the stove, grabbed a book and snuggled up to read. We lazed about like that all afternoon and evening. It's nice to slow down sometimes.

However, today is usually my major shopping day, and I can't since I'm tending Thing 1. I should do all of tomorrow's chores today, but am having a hard time bringing myself to do that. So it looks like another slow day. I think it's time to start knitting again.

LTR - It feels like I'm coming down with the bug as well. Might just be a slow week....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2007 Harvest Goal Met

Wooooohoooo! I made my fruit and veg harvest goal of 100 pounds! I still have quite a bit to harvest yet - cabbages, squash and tomatoes - and so I think I'll get to 125lbs by the end of the year.

The apples did amazingly well. I don't remember how many I had last year, but I think it was on the order of 5 lbs. This year, I brought in 39lbs! I can hardly believe that my four little trees gave me that many apples. At this rate of growth, I may be up to my ears in apples soon. Yeah, yeah. Don't count my apples.... Next year, I definitely need to spray for coddling moth, though, as Alkemene was badly infested, and stock up on ideas for things to make with apples.

Tomatoes did poorly. I didn't get them covered in time to prevent late blight, and it did in four of my plants. Fantastic made HUGE, beautiful fruit, but I think I'll only have five ripe ones when all is said and done.

I think that measuring my harvest was a great idea for me to do, although Thing 1 prefers to eats the food straight out of the garden, and not weigh it first. But this way I can measure my success, and it'll get me in gear to get out and plant, thin (I finally thinned carrots - what a difference!), water, and generally take care of my garden. It sparks my competitive streak, too, which in this case isn't such a bad thing. Next year there will be no trip to Europe smack dab in the middle of spring, so that should help as well.

I FINALLY found local honey at a little roadside stand. Hooray! I picked up some locally grown veggies, too, and we're doing kebabs tonight.

The weather is about to turn, and summer will be over. We're in for rain and 60s temps. The snow level in the mountains is supposed to be low enough on Monday, that we should see a dusting in the higher mountains. Our bbq dinners will be a thing of the past, and will give way to soups and stews, and fires in the wood stove, if I find a wood supplier....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Cleaning

Around here, I find that Fall Cleaning is more necessary than Spring Cleaning. Oh, I understand why it was necessary for the total house cleaning to be in spring. After a winter of burning coal and wood, the house is full of ash and soot. Boots worn in the house tramped in mud and things I'd rather not think about from streets and barnyards. And now that there's more light coming in the windows, you can see all the dirt.

Not having to deal with any of that, as we are a shoes-off house and use a cleaner form of heating, I find that Fall Cleaning is much more necessary. All summer, the house has been neglected. Most of our days are spent outside, and we wind up dumping and dashing. Housecleaning is not the most enjoyable thing to do when it's 85 degrees, either. So the household chores slide for the summer, and after the boys head back to school, I'm staring at an empty, filthy house, with a lot of time on my hands, and no excuses.

So this week, I've started my Fall Cleaning. I'm starting in the kitchen, cleaning out drawers and shelves, and getting rid of anything that hasn't been used in the last year. It's the worst room in the house after replacing the countertops a couple of months ago. The oven is cleaning away, and I'm pulling down all the spiderwebs that always pop up this time of year. They're often back the next day, though. Of course, if anyone notices one, I'm just letting the little guys decorate for Halloween!

In other goings-on, it's time to start the fall yard clean-up. I've been hacking down the daisies, pulling weeds as I go. Somehow I missed a bunch of huge thistles, so will need to put on the armor to go after them. Mr. E assures me that he will catch the mole in the backyard by the end of the week (oh, cocky he is). And a mixture of big leaf maple, vine maple, and bittersweet nightshade, roots entwined with roots needs to be pulled out and dealt with, but I don't think I'm going to get around to it today.

Off to the garden....

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eating Locally

I now have a slightly dodgy internet connection now, which is better than none at all.

Apples are coming in at a good clip, and I am hard-pressed to find something to do with them all. It's actually fun in it's own way, as I get to pour through recipe books to find recipes with apples in them, or, yesterday, green tomatoes.

One of my tomato towers fell over yesterday, and several large, green tomatoes fell off the vine. It seemed a shame to chuck them, since we're not fried green tomato fans here. So I found a recipe for Salsa Verde using green tomatoes instead of tomatillos. It turned out pretty good, although I think I won't use red onion next time, as it bleeds into the salsa giving it a strange color.

We had the inlaws over for dinner, and they left with most of the tomatoes. I made apple crisp with apples from the orchard, caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes, garlic, and basil, and parsley potatoes, with both the parsley and the potatoes from the garden. Not bad for one meal! The steak was also local, but that was all. The wine was Spanish (brought by the inlaws), the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Italian.

I try to eat locally, but am getting frustrated. The magical one hundred miles in this area doesn't incorporate much arable land. There are two mountain ranges, which provide nothing, and Puget Sound, which, aside from farmed fish and mussles, doesn't give you much, either. They've even warned of not eating too much wild caught fish in the Sound from all the pollution. I finally have accepted the fact that I have to look at my whole state as a local food shed.

Washington State is known for it's wheat. There are millions of acres of Eastern Washington planted in wheat. Yet until recently (like my last trip to the grocery store) you couldn't buy wheat from Washington. No kidding. It all gets carted by rail to the ports and shipped off to Asia or Egypt. I could buy wheat from Montana and Alberta, but not Washington. Now I can get all-purpose flour from here, but not bread or whole wheat, and only in 5lb bags.

We're known for apples, too, although I'm starting to supply our fruit needs from home, and good wine. There are huge fields of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries North of here, but all of the ones you can buy in the store are from California. Even from the stores that are owned locally.

I keep thinking about why I'm not thrilled with farmer's markets in general, and I think it's because of the fact that if they are offering it at the market, it's already growing in my garden. No-one sells honey or eggs there, which I would really like to get, or meats of any kind. We used to get a quarter of a cow (okay, I know that's not the right terminology), but it was really expensive, and if the power went out, as it's wont to do here, we'd be out $700 of meat. If you want flowers, there are tons, but I don't think dahlias are edible.

So what's a locavore to do? Could you live without citrus, olive oil, spices, and bread flour? I suppose you could, but it wouldn't make very interesting eating. So I think I'm just going to go for the major stuff, and allow all the accoutrements be non-local. Is that okay? Do I need to ask permission? If so, from whom?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chaos Theory

Things have been insane around here of late. The apples and tomatoes are multiplying exponentially. I've been canning pears, making apple pie, apple cake, and Spiced Apple Pear Freezer Butter. Salsa is on the horizon, as soon as I pick up some peppers and cilantro (forgot to plant some this year).

On top of that, school started. The school bus schedules are all different this year, and so, first day of school, we patiently waited at the end of our driveway where the bus has picked the boys up for the last seven years. No bus. Peachy. So I took four of the five kids at the stop to school. After calling transportation all day, and not getting any answer (they turned off their phones and let everything go to voice mail), I got through to a human, who assured me that they would let the driver know that he needed to turn down our street. I figured he'd at least listen to the kids, who usually wind up directing the substitute drivers anyway. But no. He dropped them off at the end of the street, four blocks from our house. So the next morning, I took them down there, card in hand which clearly states that the bus stop is in front of our house, and let the driver know where he needs to go. He looked down on his sheet and said "Oh, I guess it does say that." Apparently, he cannot be prevailed upon to actually show up at school on time however, and the boys get home an hour after school gets out.

Soccer started for Thing 1 on the first day of school, and of course it's not on the same day as Thing 2. So we're doing soccer six days this week, as Thing 1's game is today, and Thing 2's is tomorrow. They've moved the date and the place twice on us now.

I (finally) finished my striped socks, and have a picture of them to show, but the network adapter on my computer is wonky, and won't connect. A chat with customer service yielded nothing but "update the drivers" which they haven't done since 2005. I just bought the adapter this year. So for now, I'm on Thing 1's laptop in Mr. E's office, and neither one are pleased.

Knitting has taken a back seat to everything else right now. By the end of the day, I'm wiped out. And after reading several stories in Magic for Beginners last evening, I took a nap, dreaming of rabbits, cats whose skin comes off, and witches. When Mr. E woke me up, I was even more a wreck, with a headache to boot. Guess I won't be reading that right before bed. I need to finish it quick, since book club is on Thursday, and it's my book to discuss.

I'm not terribly sure how to run the discussion on the book. Is there symbolism? Or did she draw a couple pieces of paper out of a hat with things associated with magic, stuff the ideas into a blender and hit "puree?" I'm not sure what to think, which may also be the point.

I had a Lizzie Bennet moment. Our neighbors are having tough times and their house is in foreclosure. I had guessed that things were bad, but Mr. E wouldn't listen to my opinions. I had discussed this with another neighbor, who was complaining about the state of their yard. I don't care for it, but am willing to make allowances since my yard isn't picture perfect either. Anyway, I was being careful about my suspicions, as I am normally a very gossipy-type person, and it's landed me in trouble before. So he, also being a very gossipy-type person, threw out the possibility of drug use, and I said "I don't want to speculate on that." Well, it sounded like something Lizzie might say. I was very proud of myself, and felt I grew a foot, which is not necessarily a good thing when you're 5'10". Anyway, I know it sounds like a Very Small Thing, but to me it wasn't. I feel like I've turned a corner on this nasty little habit of mine. And I got to say "I told you so" to Mr. E, which I don't get to do very often.

On a happier note, it looks like the weather is going to be good for a while, so hopefully some of my later tomatoes will ripen. I have a bunch of huge green ones, and I really want to try them. I'm thinking a hoophouse is the way to go here, as only the earliest tomatoes will ripen no matter what I do to them. I'm trying to think of a way to do it so that it is movable, and I can interchange with a tunnel cloche. Plans will be laid this fall! Mr. E won't like it, but I hear they make a huge difference around here, especially in a cabbage summer like this year. And maybe if I tempt him with the possibility of more pesto, since the nights are usually too cold for basil, he'll warm up to the idea.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Fair Day

Today we enjoyed our local fair. We go to this one because it is one of the smaller fairs, and it doesn't overwhelm you with the numbers of animals, whether they be quadripeds or bipeds, or the size of the rides and the lines to get on them.

Thing 1 is just about of the age where the kiddie rides are too small for him, but after a spin on the teacup ride which resulted in his tossing his cookies, we decided that most of the big-kid rides were out for this year, so he went in many of the fun houses instead. Thing 2 loved this rocket ride, and went on it at least six times, and went on a rope ladders and slides kind of fun house maybe five times. After his fifth time on the ladders and slides, Mr. E asked if he wanted to go again. He said "No, it gets kind of old after a while." So Mr. E pointed out that the rocket ride had no line, and ZOOM! he was over there in a flash. Guess that one doesn't get old quite so fast.

We went with my friends M and J and their families, and Mr. E's old boss and his son. So between all of us, we were15, which, unfortunately, is too large a group to keep together, and before long we were all split up. I was kind of hoping that we'd get to spend more time together, but since all of their kids are smaller (my two are 11 and 9, theirs ran from 7 to 3), little ones tire much more easily, and they all left fairly early. But a good time was had by all, I think. At least we had a good time, exclusive of the up-chucking incident.

I finally found a summer hat. I wish I had found it early on in the day, but now I have one. So now I won't turn quite so red in the face from the heat. The guy that sold it to me said "Let me take off the tag for you." I guess I looked like I needed it right away.... It's a straw number with a broad brim, and it looks much more feminine than my Full Sail Ale baseball cap.

I also got my baker's dozen of Fair Scones. MMMMMMM! Usually they're ALL MINE! but Thing 1 has decided that he really likes them too, so now they're not ALL MINE!, but have to be shared. Which I suppose is better for the waistline.... Humph.

Before the fair, our friend Sir J, came to install my new microwave. A week ago, I turned into Wonder Woman, and in a sudden burst of strength, pulled the handle right off the microwave, making it impossible to open and completely unfixable. So a new microwave it was, almost completing the replacing of all major appliances since we've been married. Of course no two microwave mounting brackets can be the same, and this one was to sit on top of my tile backsplash (who came up with the idea to have a low mounting bracket anyway? Must be a man.) So Sir J came to my rescue, installing the microwave for me this morning. Which I am very happy about. Because we have no power tools.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Full Circle

I love wreaths. I would like to have a different one over my door for every season. They're so welcoming! I have my Xmas one, of course, and a Halloween one with Kleenex ghosts, but aside from October and December, my front door is wreathless.

At our old house, we had salal, doug fir, and cedar, and I would make a Christmas wreath from fallen limbs after the first fall storm, which usually comes around Thanksgiving. We have cedar here, but no doug fir or salal, and I've taken to buying my Xmas wreath at Costco.

So it's been a few years since I've made a wreath from live material, and I am rather pleased with this one of bay leaves from my garden. I majorly pruned the two plants that flank the shed door, as they had topped ten feet, and want to turn into massive trees. I have enough to make another wreath, and will probably do so tonight. If I were really anal, I would've dried the branches first, making sure all the leaves were pointed in the same direction, but I prefer the loose, two-tone effect.

The Oregon Climate Service came out with its winter weather predictions, and it's looking to be a cold, snowy one again. Hopefully that means we won't have many mosquitoes again. I don't think I've been bit more than twice here at home this year, which is a welcome relief. I love the snow so long as Mr. E and I don't have to drive in it - it's very hilly here, and after the two rush-hour snow events of last year.... Last time I watched the weather very carefully, and told Mr. E when to come home. He made it just as the snow started to stick. How's that for timing? Hopefully he'll listen this year.

So add to my list of to-do items, buying a cord of firewood, and figuring out a way to block up the vents to the crawlspace. Our floors get so cold, my feet freeze unless I have on my very fuzzy slippers, and I'm the only one that has them. Also, protect the rosemary so I don't lose it again. That was painful. I had two three-foot-tall bushes completely dead by spring. Let's see, cover the salad greens with a tunnel cloche, pile up compost around the roses....

It never ends, does it? LOL.

Kind of like a wreath.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm not sure how this happened, but what started out as a compliment, suddenly has become a flurry of guilt-induced activity. The odd thing about it is, the guilt is flying back and forth over 4700 miles and 8 time zones.

Hedgewizard keeps an impressive list of all that is coming from his garden and pantry on his humorous blog. He held a "Delurking Day", so I delurked and dared to say that I hoped to have as productive a garden as his. Somehow that made him feel guilty, and sent him into a frenzy of activity, which he claims is my fault. Guess I should've stayed a lurker?

Of course I feel guilty about setting all this about, even though I didn't mean to. I've been known to put my foot in my mouth before. Being the guilt-driven person I am, I have since cleared the strawberry bed of weeds and runners, replanting where needed, watered all the veggie beds, totally cleaned the kitchen, which looked like a bomb had gone off in it, done three loads of laundry and hung them on the clothesline to dry, restocked the wood shed, and restacked the leftover wood, since the pile had fallen over, and am about to attack the herb garden. And did I mention that it's 86 degrees outside?

I know, us Northwesterners are weather wimps. I can handle cold temps and rain, but heat I cannot bear. Very few of us around here have air conditioning, since there are so few days that we need it. But I suffer when it gets towards 90.

I'm actually enjoying this little bit of summer, since it won't last long. I saw geese flying South today; more signs of fall. I'm anxiously awaiting the Oregon Climate Service's winter weather predictions. Some people think that we're going to have a mild winter after a crummy summer, others think that we're in for another bad one like last winter (floods, windstorm, and snow).

Until then, it's work outside during the sunny days. Even if it's 86 degrees, and guilt-ridden.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Harvest Time

It's really starting to feel like fall now. The weather has turned cold and damp again, and I just picked 14 lbs of apples from our Alkemene (or for those in the UK, Early Windsor) tree. The Akane apples are just about ready, too, although I think I only have a couple of pounds of them this year. My harvest tally is really going up now, having pulled the potatoes this week, too. Now I need to figure out a way to store all of this....

My original goal was to harvest 100lbs of food from our yard. I'm pretty sure I'll make it, since I still have all the tomatoes on the vine, at least 20lbs of acorn squash, 5lbs of cabbages, plus carrots, lettuce, and spinach, and the apples from two more trees (although not as productive as Alkemene). So maybe I'll hit 120lbs or so. Next year, I'm thinking 200lbs would be a good goal. But I think I'll go metric. 100kg? Adding up ounces and pounds is a royal pain, especially since I try to use a calculator as little as possible. Why? It keeps the little gray cells active.

I spent all day out in the yard yesterday. After the week of vacation, and a summer of general neglect, it was time to weed out the veg beds (400sq feet), and the herb beds. I accomplished quite a bit, and it should reduce the amount of weeding that I'll need to do once the rains come and all of the weed seeds germinate. One more day and I should have the edibles beds taken care of. I need to pull out the thyme and replace it, and totally get rid of the horehound. That stuff is nasty, and seeds itself all over the place. And since I've never actually used it, it'll make room for things I will use, like marjoram. I probably won't get to the front yard until after school starts, but we'll see.

I am a convert to mulching. I used some dry lawn clippings on half the carrots and some broccoli. The carrots on the mulched half were larger, and had fewer bug problems, and less weedy. The broccoli had been plagued by fluffy little evil wascawy wabbits. Apparently they don't like stepping on lawn clippings, because as soon as I put down a couple inches of grass, they left those broccoli alone. AHA! Now if I can just keep them away from the peas in the spring....

I know, put up a fence. But I don't want a fence, and the way the beds are set up - 4ft wide beds with 4ft wide path of grass in between - Mr. E wouldn't be able to mow. No, I'll just figure out other means, and keep chasing them off like Mr. MacGregor. I just need the coyotes to come back, and whoever keeps shooting them, to knock it off.

Last night I snuggled with the boys, and read three chapters of Pride and Prejudice to them. If Mr. E can corrupt their minds by introducing them to Rush's music, I can at least try to give them a little culture through good literature, right? They groaned about it before I started, but once started, didn't want me to stop. Thing 1 giggled over Mr. Bennet's comments about his wife and children. Thing 2 commented about the "bad" grammer. I'll see if they want me to read to them some more tonight. Now that there will be no more Harry Potter books, I'll need to find something else to read to them. I've read all of the HP books out loud to the boys, even when they were old enough to read them by themselves. I put in the voices for the characters, and they prefer my reading to the book-on-tape version, except for when my voice cracks during emotional scenes.

Mr. E did a wonderful thing last night. We were at a bookstore, and they had all these Jane Austen books in hardback. I've nearly worn out my Emma, and the others aren't going to last long. So I told him, for Christmas/birthday, I'd like the books in hardback. What do you think he did? Bought me one of each of the books they had to enjoy now! Awwwww. Thanks, honey! I'm missing Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, but he said to order them online. Now I have reading material for cold, blustery nights.

Isn't that what fall is all about? Preparing for winter?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting Back in the Swing

Bread! Tuesday I had to make more bread since we were out. Here's what my loaves look like. Half a loaf disappears that first day. Each loaf is a little over 1-1/2 lbs. I figure if I'm to bake all my own bread, we'd need somewhere on the order of 160lbs of flour each year. That's not including the flour for pizza, muffins, and everything else. I'll try and post photos of other things around our homestead, as I take them.
By the way, what is the definition of a homestead? Does my house, acre, veggie and herb garden, strawberry bed, and eight fruit trees count? Or do you have to raise chickens, or something?
Summer seriously throws me for a loop. I miss the routines of the school year. Not school itself, mind you. When I finally manage to get something of a summer routine going, something throws itself in my path like vacation or day camp, and I have to start all over again.

We finally have some sun and warm temps, so I got up at a reasonable hour and got the sheets washed and on the line. Load #2 is on there now. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny as well, and I think I'll try and get the sleeping bags washed and on the line, or at least some of them. My clothesline isn't in the best of places, right behind the garage, and the sugar maples cast shade in the morning, and, by this time of year, the house in the afternoons. Since Mr. E originally didn't approve of my clothesline, I tried to put it in the most non-visible part of my yard. Now he approves, after smelling how fresh the sheets are coming from the line.

Fall is definitely in the air. The vine maples in the woods behind us are red already. Most of the plants are in a state of confusion. The blackberries are just now starting to flower. The lawn is mostly green, even though we've never watered it. Usually by now it's totally brown. I feel like summer hasn't really been here at all. It seems like we've had May/June weather in July and August. Hopefully we'll have a nice Indian Summer. Some years we do, and it's pleasant to go to soccer practice in weather that's not cold and raining, and taking home cold, wet, muddy boys.

Time to check the clothes on the line....