Monday, June 30, 2008

Menu for 6-29 to 7-5

B: Cereal
L: Panini
D: Out after Mass

B: Breakfast Sandwiches (They warm up wonderfully, btw.)
L: Italian Beans and Special Bread
D: Eggs, Sausage and Toast

B: Muffins
L: Leftover Italian Beans
D: Pizza Night! (Ben just has to have pizza night once a week, lol)

B: Crock Pot Oatmeal
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Pork Chops

B: Crock Pot Oatmeal
L: Quinoa Salad
D: Noodles and Sauce

Friday (Fourth of July Celebration!)
B: Breakfast Sandwiches
L: Ribs (I'm sure there was bbq in 1776), Mac & Cheese (in honor of Thomas Jefferson. No, really. Look it up.) , Baked Beans (a fine tradition of the Boston Patriots), Corn on the Cob (a true American food), and A Special Dessert (I'll have to check my colonial cookbook and see what I can make that would be authentic. A spice cake, perhaps.)
D: Leftovers

B: Crepes (in honor of our French friend, General Lafayette? just kidding.)
L: Leftovers
D: Nachos, leftovers, watermelon

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Finished Sewing Projects!

I'm feeling so good today because I got some sewing done! It's good to have finally gotten some fabric projects finished. I made a few new projects and finished some that were halfway through.

Here are two dish towel aprons for my mom. She liked mine a lot and picked these towels out for some of her own.

And here is a work apron for her. They can buy plain ones, but she thought it would be fun to have one made out of this colorful coffee cup fabric. This was an easy project, just two layers of fabric. Then I finished all the edges with bias tape using my bias tape foot on the machine, starting with the top of the pocket, then the sides, then the bottom (folding the bottom corners of bias tape in and stiching them down for a clean finish. I used one whole length of bias tape for the ties and to finish the top edge, by centering the apron in the bias tape and just sewing the bias tape closed until I hit the apron.
And I also finished this skirt that I started a few months ago. I made it from a recycled sheet from Goodwill. It's a standard tiered skirt. The first tier is as big as my hips plus a few inches, the second tier is two of those strips, and the third tier is four times the first. I hemmed the bottom just by using a rolled hem on the serger. Right now the waist has a drawstring because it turns out I'm out of my stock of elastic, so I'll have to pick up some elastic to finish it completely, but I can wear it with the drawstring for now. It doesn't look quite so full and frilly on me, but it's definately ruffle-y, so I'm a bit unsure if I like how it turned out. Well, that's not quite true, I know that I really like the way it turned out, but I don't know if it's fashionable enough to wear. Maybe I'll post pictures of me wearing it next week, and you all can help me decide.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Focaccia - Panini Style

I used the focaccia recipe that came in the book with my bread maker. It was a very simple recipe, all I had to do was let the bread maker knead the dough, then press it into the 9X13 pan and let it rise, add an olive oil and garlic topping with some grated parmesean and bake it.
It turned out very good, with a nice flavor and a very soft texture inside. I did skip some of the seasonings, like the oregano and the italian blend because I thought they might clash with the sandwich fillings. And I'm an herb wimp.

I split the bread and filled it with deli meats and cheeses with the outside in and the inside out. I buttered the inside edges (now the outside of my sandwich) and cooked them in my rigged up panini press. I heated both pans together with them stacked and then added my sandwich and pressed the top one down.

Here's my sandwich. I was really glad with the outcome of this experiment. And Ben absolutely loved his. Of course, I should have taken pictures of his, because it was much prettier, with onion, tomatoes, and radish sprouts. He's a more adventurous eater than I am.

I also tackled the peaches this afternoon. They were at a perfect point, and very easy to peel.
I did decide to flash freeze them before adding them to a freezer bag for storage. I couldn't resist attempting an arty shot of the quartered peaches all lined up and ready to freeze!

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You have new Picture Mail!

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Green can be cool and friendly-like

Well, Ben has been out of town for a couple of days, but he's back today, so I'm feeling really happy about that. I never sleep well when he's gone, hence the 4am post. Well, I actually did sleep fairly well last night, but there's a thunderstorm going through right now that woke me up. I'll probably go back to sleep when it gets light out. Don't ask, I just feel safer once it's light. Weird, I know.

So, on Tuesday, I gave myself the day off. I watched movies and took naps. I really needed a day like that, because this is turning out to be a very busy season, so it was good to pretend it was winter again for a day. Unfortunately, I still haven't gotten anything made! I had good intentions, but I just can't seem to actually do any knitting or embroidery without falling asleep. I certainly hope this doesn't keep up.

Yesterday I thinned the seedlings in the garden. That was actually kinda sad. I didn't expect that, but something about pulling up all those little sprouts seemed so wrong. I do hope I did it right. The corn really ended up looking thin once there was just a single plant in each spot. I did save all the radish sprouts for Ben to eat on a sandwich if he'd like. They're almost too big, but I'll let him decide if they're tender enough.

I painted the chicken coop frame and the doors as well. I was supposed to make the handles and attach them to the doors too, but I couldn't really figure out how it should be done. I had a few ideas last night while I was falling asleep, so I'll try those out when I get up. I also have to give the coop a third coat of paint, at least in a couple of places.

Also on my list for today is doing something with the twenty-some peaches sitting on the counter. Ben bought them to make jam, but was too busy with building the coop over the weekend and abandoned them. I'm not really in a jam making mood, and the thought of heating the kitchen up with a big pot of water just for six jars of jam doesn't sound delightful (I'll have enough standing in a steamy kitchen when the tomatoes come in!), so I'll probably just peel them and split them into wedges and freeze them. I might take the trouble to freeze them laid out on parchement paper on a cookie sheet, so then I can put them in ziploc once they're frozen and it'll be easier to get them out just a couple wedges at a time for smoothies and such. If I put them all in a bag initially, they'll just stick together in a big block.

I do have a few other things to finish today as well. Dinner tonight is grilled sandwiches, and I want to make some kind of bread for that, either foccacia or maybe ciabatta. I'll have to check my go-to source for good recipes, Tammy's Recipes, and see what she might have along those lines. If there's nothing tried and true there, I know the bread machine book has recipes for both. And it'll be a plus to let the machine do the kneading for me, since painting brought back some of the tenderness in my wrist.

I should also mow the lawn, but it's stormy right now, so I'm not putting too much priority on that one, since it'll probably be a wet day. I'm glad not to have to mow, not because of the work, but because right now our yard is FULL of really pretty lush clover and it smells super good. I don't want to have to mow it all down, but I know I'd better soon, or I'll need a hay fork for the clean up!

Of course, there's always laundry and sweeping and general cleaning to take care of too. Sometimes it feels like I can't manage to do outside things and inside things on the same day. I guess the outside work is generally more tiring, so I tend to come in and just rest.

I'd better get going, since I'm falling back to sleep again, but I'll definately post more about the coop and my bread experiments later.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Bacon and Cheese Biscuit Egg Sandwiches

These breakfast sandwiches are made of Bacon and Cheese Biscuit wedges that are split and filled with scrambled eggs.

Here are the finished biscuits. It's pretty much a standard biscuit recipe with four slices of crumbled bacon and a cup (by volume, not weight) of shredded cheddar cheese added after the butter has been cut in, but before the milk is added. I patted this into a round dish and cut the wedges before baking them.

I scrambled eight eggs, but instead of using a skillet to cook them...

I poured them into the same well greased round casserole dish.

I baked them at 350 for fifteen to twenty minutes. You'd have to experiment with yours, my oven seems to bake very hot. I got this idea from this tip, here.

After they cooled a bit, I cut the eggs into eight matching wedges.

I split the biscuit wedges with a sharp serated knife, and put an egg wedge in each one.

They were so yummy! The only thing I might do differently in the future is to use a sharper cheddar. I used medium and didn't get a big cheese flavor. And it only makes sense that if I'm eating the fat in the cheese, I want to be able to taste it!

Since this isn't really an every day sort of breakfast, I individually wrapped each sandwhich in foil and put all the foil wrapped packages in a labeled freezer bag. I popped them in the freezer for convienent breakfasts when we're on the go. I'm thinking that they'll reheat well if I thaw overnight and then rewarm in the toast oven, but I'll have to try it and see how it works first.

Here's a cost breakdown:

Flour - $.20

Baking Powder and Salt - too small to count

Butter - $.30

Bacon - Leftover from another meal, but the amount of bacon I used probably cost about $.80

Cheese - $.60

Milk - $.25

This means the entire batch of biscuits cost $2.15. Divided by 8 equals $.27 a wedge. The eggs cost $.10 each which brings the meal to a grand total of $.37 a sandwich. Totally beats McDonald's!

And even though this isn't really an everyday breakfast, it's not that bad for you either. Each biscuit only has half a slice of bacon and about less than half an ounce of cheese. There's one egg in each sandwich and the butter is about a 1/4 of an ounce. You could also easily adjust the biscuits to use turkey bacon or crumbled turkey or chicken sausage.

I'm glad that I ran across that tip for baking the eggs, because I love breakfast sandwiches and have wanted to make my own for a while, but couldn't ever figure out a good way to get the egg to stay in one piece on the sandwich. These are a slightly healthier and much cheaper version of one of my favorite treats!

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Menu 6-22 to 6-28

B: Fruit
L: Sandwiches
D: Waffles

B: Egg Sandwiches on Bacon and Cheese Biscuits (this is a new recipe I'm trying out, so we'll see how it works. I'll post pictures later.)
L: Yogurt and Fruit Salad
D: Roast Chicken with Potatoes

B: Muffins
L: Frozen Pizza
D: Chicken Fajitas

B: Muffins
L: Leftover Frozen Pizza
D: Chicken Nachos

B: Muffins
L: Baked Potato Bar
D: Ham and Provolone Grilled Sandwiches

B: Muffins
L: Omelets
D: Pizza Night!

B: Leftover Pizza
L: Out (We're going to pick up our chickens! It's a two hour drive there, so we'll eat on the way.)
D: Chili from the Freezer

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Slaying Dust Bunnies

This has been a strange week for me. On Monday and Tuesday, Ben was gone till quite late at night, since he had to attend work functions for dinner. I missed him quite a bit, so I was feeling very happy when he was home yesterday evening and it was still daylight!

I also was quite ill yesterday too, and while I don't want to specifically blame the dessert I made in the last post, I do think it was a bit too rich and definately didn't exactly agree with me. Since I wasn't feeling well, I didn't really get much done, and I still haven't fully restored the house from Ben's care last week. (I told him he's a terrible housewife and he's fired. I'm glad my wrist doesn't hurt anymore.) That means I've got plenty to get done today, and top of the list is conquering all the drifting balls of cat fur everywhere. Some days I'm very tempted to just shave the cats.

I did invite the neighbor over for dinner though, so that's a motivation to get my floors clean and cook a good dinner. Our meal plan kind of went out the window this week, since Ben wasn't home to eat, so I think that tonight I'll serve a pasta bake (simple to put together and something I can make a bit ahead of time) with asparagus and some fresh garlic breadsticks.

Also, I keep trying to set goals for myself to finish an embroidery or sewing or knitting project, mostly so my blog doesn't become only a food blog. (Blogging as motivation.) But I never seem to be able to concentrate or sit still without falling asleep lately. I'm not too tired when I'm cleaning or whatever, but the minute I sit down to embroider or knit, it's zonk, out cold. I really really want to be more productive, but I can't seem to keep my eyes open the last few weeks. I'm going to blame the anti-inflammatory medicine and hope that things will change now that I'm not taking it any more.

I'm also definately in the mood to gear up for the weekend. We're very busy tomorrow, but I'm really feeling like doing something to make this weekend a special one. Ben's had big happenings at work this week, and will again next week, so I'm thinking he'd really enjoy a relaxing weekend. And I'm always up for a celebration.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Frankensteining Caramel Oatmeal Bars

When I was young, my mom would buy these box mixes of caramel oatmeal bars that were so yummy. She and I both loved them, and they were probably one of the first things I learned to bake. I've looked and looked, but they just don't make them anymore. Lemon squares, yeah, and chocolate peanutbutter I've seen, but no more Caramel Oatmeal.

Recently, Ree, over at Pioneer Woman, posted a recipe for Oatmeal Bars with an apricot jam filling. I was immediately reminded of the bars we used to make from the mix, so I thought I might try using the bar recipe and filling with caramel instead of apricot. I used the caramel sauce recipe from Tammy's Recipes (awesome site for tons and tons of good recipes).

The caramel sauce recipe makes quite a lot. I used about half of it to fill the bars, which is maybe slightly more than the 12 oz of preserves Pioneer Woman calls for.

Here are the bars before baking, with the top sprinkled on.

A side view before baking of the caramel and bar layers.

Here is the all the leftover caramel sauce. That recipe does make a ton. I didn't seal this jar, it just for storage. I figured storing it in glass made the most sense since it can be reheated right in the jar for topping things.

The finished bars cooling off. They took forever to cool, and I had to wait till they were completely cool before cutting them.

I did get to taste them last night, and I have to admit, I can't really give them a raving review. It's mostly my fault though, since the caramel was so delicious, and I messed up the bars. I ran out of brown sugar and so had to substitute more than half with cane juice crystals instead. I think this made them more dry and crumbly than they should have turned out. I also used more caramel than I needed, so the crumbly bars coupled with the weight of the caramel made them really messy and hard to eat. And the caramel overpowered the bar part in taste, as well. I may try again, with the right ingredients and less caramel next time.

My quest for Caramel Oatmeal Bars continues.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Homemade Lemonade

Today I made some lemonade as a treat for Ben. I used Martha Stewart's recipe here. Yes, it is a Good Thing. ;) Really though, it turned out super yummy, and I loved the idea of making a simple syrup with the citrus zest to sweeten it. I had to add some orange juice in order to get a full cup of juice, but that made it taste even better!

I used an antique handkerchief from Ben's grandmother as a pitcher cover. I wanted to post pictures of that, but I forgot the camera in the car yesterday, and, as you can see, my phone does not capture details like that very well.

Just thought I'd post a quick review, since this is probably the time of year that lots of people are looking for good lemonade recipes. I think this one is definately the way to go, and it wasn't complicated. You don't really even need a juicer or a reamer. I used my hands and a fork and just squished most of the juice out like that. I just wish I'd known how easy it is to make lemonade from scratch when we lived in AZ and the citrus was just laying on the ground for the taking (literally).

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A Bushel and A Peck

Our biggest accomplishment this weekend was planting the garden. Because of my tendonitis, Ben did most of the heavy work, like hoeing up the hills and the raised rows, and I did most of the sowing and covering. I would post pictures but since it's still just a bunch of bare ground with an odd landscape of squash and pumpkin hills and cucumber rows, I'm afraid it wouldn't be too interesting. We're starting most everything from seed, except the peppers and the tomatoes. So there are some actual plants in our garden right now too, but it's mostly just lines drawn in the ground right now.

It wasn't easy for me to decide to start everthing from seed because we're getting such a late start, but we already had all the seeds, thanks from some gifts from Ben's mom and our friend, Ken, and going out and buying fifty different plants is a very big investment! We decided that it was worth the work to just plant what we've got and see what comes up. And even if the frost kills the corn before it ripens, at least I'll have some pretty bunches of cornstalks to decorate with in the fall.

To me, gardening is really kind of a test of faith. Most of the things that I do, like crafts and cooking, depend alot on how well you do them, and you get fairly immediate results. Even something like knitting that takes a lot of cummulative work has immediate feedback in that you can see dropped stitches or look at the stitch pattern as you go and tell if it's right. But with planting seeds, you follow the directions and then for the next week or two, you feel odd watering things that you can't see, until then you get your little seedlings. So, I'm going on faith that all those seeds I just put in will turn into real plants that I'll be able to see soon.

We went to the Farmer's Market in Edwardsville on Saturday morning. It was quite nice! I would really like to get a booth there next year. I don't know if we'd have much produce to sell, and I don't think I'd want to go through the trouble of getting the eggs from the chickens certified, but I would definately be able to sell plant starts and baked goods. I found out that to sell at a Farmer's Market, you don't have to have a certified kitchen and you can sell homemade baked goods. I'm thinking that muffins and breads and pies and maybe cupcakes would sell well. And granola too. I might look into renting a booth in the fall, maybe in Sept. for a weekend or two, to see how it would go.

Anyway, at the market, we picked up some produce for the week's salads and such, and we bought some heirloom tomato varieties for the garden. I also bought a peppermint plant and a lemon balm plant. I just love the way mints smell! I put them into the corner of the garden for now, but I know they can't stay there. Ultimately, I'd like to put beds all around the deck and the south side of the house for an herb garden. I figure I'll just give it plenty of room to run. It's nice and warm there, but I don't think it would be the best place for more delicate things, because it actually can get really hot and dry compared to the rest of the yard. But they tell me that mint can survive anything and then take over your yard afterward, so it should be good there.

I'm very excited about finally getting to plant our garden! I can't wait to see what comes up!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

My Husband and Martha Stewart

The other night while watching Martha make cookies, Ben (in his Martha Stewart impression voice):

Sift in one tablespoon of pure evil. If you don't have evil, corn starch will do.

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Stormy Weather

Ben tilled our garden spot yesterday. It took so much longer than I thought it would! But it's good and tilled now, and as soon as it dries out again after today's thunderstorms, I'll be able to get out there and plant. I do hope it won't turn out to be a waste of money to buy tomato and pepper plants, but hopefully they should produce at least a few dollars worth by the time the frosts come.
There are these cute little puppies I've seen in the yard twice this week. They're not exactly puppies, more like half grown dogs. I'm used to the neighbors letting their dogs run, but I haven't seen these two before. And they're so pretty, I'm keeping then next they come. Yep, that's me. A dog thief. Well, I wouldn't really steal them, but I'm beginning to think they might be strays. They're safe enough for now, since there's plenty of other animals' food to eat at the other houses, and there's no big roads for them to want to cross, and I might ask around about thier owners in the mean time.
I'm spending the morning finishing up a couple loads of laundry (sheet washing day, yay!) and watching the storms go through. I finished the second book in the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers, so I think I'll see if I can download the third one from the library and finish the series (I think there's only three, anyway). I've also got a gigantic cookbook I borrowed from my neighbor to keep me entertained.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A dry spell

We're pretty excited around here today, because it hasn't rained since Monday! And that means that the garden spot is probably dry enough to till this evening. This is the longest time betweens rains that I remember so far this spring. I'm pretty excited about getting everything tilled and then getting our pumpkin seeds and corn seeds into the ground. We're going to be buying plants for the peppers and the tomatoes, since I never did get them started inside.

I say "we'll" be tilling, but really I'll just be cheering Ben on. My wrist doesn't hurt nearly as badly, but it's still tender, so Ben's ordered me to rest. He says I'm not supposed to do anything, and he'll take care of my work, but by the look of the kitchen, I'm afraid he's just biding his time till I'm better and I can do the catching up! I do appreciate his concern though, and he has been preparing all of our meals and everything. I eat better during the day with him around to feed me, that's for sure. I don't usually serve myself such good meals.

I'm such a lightweight when it comes to medicines. This anti-inflammatory is making me such a zombie. I keep falling asleep in the middle of doing stuff. But it's like a little vacation, I suppose, so I've set myself to enjoying it. I had a meeting of the county extension club yesterday and visited with our neighbor and took a walk with Ben. I didn't take my pill before my meeting though, because I just knew I'd end up falling asleep and drooling on myself if I was "medicated" for it. I wouldn't want to disgrace myself among the older ladies, lol.

I've been going through some cookbooks for ideas and marking pages of some of the recipes I want to try. That's my attempt at being productive while be on ordered wrist rest. Also, I can do the laundry without hurting my wrist, so I've gotten completely caught up with that. I might see if I can rake the soil one handed after Ben has tilled it later, and I'm sure I can help him plant the seeds too.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


On Saturday, I browsed some fun antique dealer stalls around the park where we met friends to watch an Old-Time-y baseball game and go on a home tour. I picked up about five of these little cookbooks from Good Housekeeping. Each one has a different theme. Judging from the picture, you migh think the theme for this one is "Braaaaaaaaainssssss......". But it's not. Obviously, it's Egg and Cheese, Spaghetti and Rice Dishes. Considering that the eggs are not strictly with the cheese, and I haven't found a single recipe that combines spaghetti and rice, I don't know why it's written quite like that.

I do know that food stylists of the fifties should hang their heads in shame. These dishes are Susan's Macaroni, Tomato and Cheese on the left, and on the right is Nan's French Fondue.

I think this chicken is just pretty happy to be in the pasta section of the book, instead of the egg section.

Anyway, I bought this one in particular because I thought it might be cool to have lots of egg recipes on hand when our chickens start laying. I haven't gotten the chance to check out many of the recipes yet, but I'm planning to do that now for a little while till Ben's done with work. If I find any great ones, I'll share.

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I did end up going to the dr yesterday because I couldn't use my hand or wrist at all without it hurting pretty badly. She said I have tendonitis, and I have to take an anti-inflammatory (which makes me seriously sleepy and out of it). She said is should feel better in a week and if it doesn't feel better in two weeks, I should go back in. I also have a splint to wear that keeps it from moving, so that feels good. I'm not supposed to do anything if it hurts, so yesterday I cleaned the kitchen up one handed. It actually wasn't too hard. I'm glad we've got a dish washer!

Anyway, I'm supposed to rest it and not use it much for now. I'm planning to pretty much just spend the day going for walks and watching movies. I'm also reading the sequel to A Voice in the Wind, so I'll probably read for a while too. Turns out that most everything I do on a daily basis involves my hand and hurts my wrist. Now might be the perfect time to practice knitting with my toes!

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Of Mice and Beppy

Sometimes things just don't go according to plan at all. We didn't get any work on the chicken coop done at all this weekend. We went into St. Louis on Saturday to do a home tour of historical homes. But most of the were new inside, so it was more like just seeing rich people's fancy houses. But there were antique dealers in the park, and an old time-y baseball game, so that was fun. I bought some Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks from the 50's. When we got home, Ben mowed the lawn and I cleaned the house, and then I went out and finished up the lawn so he could rest.

And yesterday we had friends over for dinner, so we went to Mass and then did our grocery shopping, and then came back and cooked dinner. I made roast chicken with chicken jus, mashed potatoes, roasted green beans, dinner rolls and we had strawberry shortcakes for dessert. Ben helped me alot in getting things ready, and I think it all turned out fairly well.

I did something to my right wrist near the beginning of the day, and it just kept getting worse and worse as the day went on. It hurt so bad to use it or put any pressure on it, like kneading dough. By the time I went to bed last night, it hurt to just move it, not even with any weight bearing. I iced it and wore a brace while I slept. I think it feels a little better this morning, but I haven't taken the brace off yet, and I've only used it to type this so far. We'll see how it feels. My hands and wrists hurt a little bit most of the time, but I've never had this happen, where it feels injured for no reason.

Ben is working from home today so he can help me out with things, and in case we decide that it should get looked at by a dr. He told be I shouldn't be using it, so a lot of my plans for the day are out the window if that rule still stands. I can't mow the lawn one handed, or embroider one handed, or crochet one handed, or even bake muffins one handed. But I'm sure he'd right that it would be better to not use it for a day or two than it would to permanently injure it. Good thing he helped me catch up this weekend or things would really be piling up around here, with last week's rest-fest!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Patriotic Holiday Banner in Progress

Yesterday I finished the blue part of my patriotic banner. This one is very slow going because it's all x's except for a little backstich where the stars are. X'x drive me crazy! I would like to finish if for Flag Day though. But I'll make the 4th of July my ultimate deadline for this one.

After dinner last night Ben and I lifted the plastic we'd put down to kill the grass in the garden area. It work really well. The grass is all dead and the dirt is really clear and we've got tons of nightcrawlers out there making worm holes. But man, did it smell swampy!

I hope that now that we've lifted the plastic it'll be able to dry well and we can till. That is, if it ever stops raining! I'm glad I'm not a farmer, or I'd be worried about the future as well as frustrated by the weather. It hasn't dried up enough here all spring to work any of the ground. Only a few of the farmers managed to get their corn in so far. Anyway, at this point, I'll be glad to get anything in, or there won't be any canning or freezing at our house this year.

I'm working on a special project today that I'd like to raffle off here on my blog to raise money to help save animals in shelters. I hope it'll be something that people will want to win enough that they'd be willing to donate money for the chance. Does anyone have any suggestions on the logistics of holding an online raffle? I was thinking of doing it by the honor system, but I would like to know how much we raise, and also be able to give more chances to higher donators, just like raffle tickets, but I'm unsure what the best set up for that would be. Any thoughts on this would be welcome.

I hope I'll have some chicken coop building pictures tomorrow, but that'll depend entirely on when Ben wants to start building. Also, we might go one this home tour thing with our friend Ken and his girlfriend, so the coop could have to wait till tomorrow night instead.

Anyway, things are looking good at our house. It's sheet washing day! (I just love clean sheets. If it weren't for the energy waste, I wash them more than once a week.) And it's homemade pizza night! And I've got a fun project and a cooking dvd. Really, there's not much more that could make me a happier cat right now.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

the real issue

I do have to say, my frustration yesterday wasn't so much having to rest when there are things to be done. I completely agree that chores are never more important than staying healthy. My frustration really comes from deciding when I've crossed the line from "resting for my health" into "being completely lazy cause it's way more fun to sit on the couch and read than do anything else and inertia has sucked me down into the land of couch blob."

I'm coming very close to that line this afternoon, but I'm going to hang out and enjoy my awesome book for the rest of the afternoon, and worry about un-blobbing myself in the morning. I can't remember where I heard it, but someone used to say "get outside and get the stink blown off you". Not that I stink. I think it's just a metaphor.

And in case anyone is concerned, the mono symptoms have eased, and I'm no longer (how to put this delicately?) suffering from feminine problems. Plus, after the hour and half nap I just took, how could I not feel more energy? :D

But don't worry, I'll still take it easy. I'm just hoping to, oh, I don't know, accomplish something tomorrow!

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I've compromised the need for rest with my desire for order by employing a cleaning method I like to think of as puttering around. I'm reminded of my dad a little when I do this because it pretty much involves wandering around at a very unhurried pace putting things away and cleaning a bit here and there. That's how I took out the trash and the composting and cleaned up the front porch and the kitchen this morning. You should try it, you might like it. It's particularly effective when you have no absolute goals or deadlines.

Seriously though, I'm feeling better today. Well, not physically, in that case I feel worse, as the sore throat has settled in. But I'm not complaining and actually feel pretty calm and happy. I've been working on my flag themed embroidered banner, though there's not much to it to take pictures of yet. And I've been reading a very good book called A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. Julie told me I'd like it, and she was right! It's about gladiators and Christians in the first century in the Roman empire. Very interesting. If only I could somehow read and embroider at the same time! I might have to pull out some knitting so I can be productive while I read.

While puttering this morning, I realized that the grass is not nearly as long as I'd thought it was. I was concerned about leaving it till Ben could do it this weekend simply because I thought it would get too long to mow and end up plugging up the lawn mower. But now that I know that it's just some thin weeds making it look alot longer than it really is, I'm not worried at all about just leaving the back for Ben to do this weekend. And I'll start again on the front next week when I've got my energy back.

And I even have a little art project how-to in mind for this afternoon to post. I can't have my blog turning into all boring lawn care now, can I?

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Now that I've got your attention:

I was tagged by a cute little dog named Sushi to help spread the word about the breast cancer site. (Life on the internet is surreal sometimes, no?) If you visit the site and click around the advertisers will pay the breast cancer site so much per click (just like my google ads work, so it's true, I'm sure). This money goes to provide mammograms for more women.

I'm lucky in that cancer is one of the boxes I do not have to check when filling out those family medical history forms, but I still do my breast check exams every month, because I know that if you can notice and catch breast cancer early your chances to survive are much better.

And when I think of all the very wonderful and special women in my life, I know that I would want each one of them to be doing all she can to stay healthy and be around when I need her!

So click the link below to help raise some money and give someone else's very special women the chance to stay healthy and safe!

The Breast Cancer Site

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Struggling with Myself

Those who have been reading my blog for a long while might remember that through the last couple of years I've had relapses of mono that I had but didn't know about the fall before last. This comes on for a day or two, makes me ache-y and exhausted, makes my glands swell and gives me headaches, and then goes away. At first I would feel like this every other week or so, and then it got to be farther and farther between that it would come back. I haven't had these syptoms since Feb. now, and before that, probably Nov.

Anyway, it's not too much of a big deal and doesn't usually bother me, since the solution is generally just to sleep more and rest for a few days. Also, at the risk of sounding really pathetic, my period generally makes me sick. Like, fever, sore throat, chills sick. My dr in AZ told me this isn't really unusual, since it's more likely to pick up a virus or whatever when your body is, um, preoccupied and expending energy else where.

Well, the point of all this background is to say that I'm feeling sick this week. On Monday I after I had done so much work, I was feeling exhausted, and I didn't feel any better when I woke up yesterday. So yesterday I didn't really do much of anything. I was hoping that after resting most of yesterday, I'd feel better today, because honestly, yesterday was kind of boring. I'm not very good at doing nothing anymore. But I'm not feeling any better this morning, with swollen glands and a headache.

Here's the problem though: I know that I should rest in order for feeling sick not to end up lasting for weeks, but I look at all that has to get done (mowing the lawn, cleaning the floors, basic things like dinner and dishes) and I feel like I'm just being lazy for not getting up and doing it. Like, I'm not sick enough to be stuck in bed, so I should be working.

I suppose I just wanted to vent a little, but also to ask this: Do you all find it difficult to balance rest with work? I usually don't, but this week I keep feeling like I'm using "have to rest" as an excuse for laziness. (Though I suppose that this could be because the lawn has become my mortal enemy and I'm consumed with mowing. It just takes so long and never ends! So I might just be feeling "lawn mowers' remorse" every day I don't mow.) Does anyone else have a problem deciding when it's okay to just do nothing? How can I judge these things? I guess in the end, I fear that I'll just keep on saying, "but I have to rest for my health", right up until I've neglected all my comitments and responsibilities.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Making Laundry Soap

I bought ingredients at the Amish bulk foods store to make some of my own laundry soap. I've read about it on lots of different blogs and really wanted to give it a try. I think Crystal does a great job of showing how to do it.

Here are my ingredients. I used a bar of soap called cashmere. It was the cheapest on the shelf, at three bars for ninety-nine cents.
I think the grated soap is pretty. I'm weird like that. I used a grater that we had bought when all our things were packed up that we'd needed for temporary use. I saved it just to do weird things lik grate bars of soap with it.

Here is the soap melting on the stovetop with the hot water. I looked and looked for my "crafting" pot, but couldn't find it, so I ended up using one of my regular cooking pots and making sure to rinse it very well afterward.

Here is the entire batch right after I've mixed it up. It solidified into a gross solution, just like all the other blogs say it does. It really does look like some kind of disgusting white egg drop soup.

So far, I think it's working really well. I think that what I would do differently would be to use real laundry soap, like Fels Naptha. I'd also like to add lavender for disinfectant and scent purposes. I also think it might be good to get some tea tree oil to add a few drops at a time to the whites and towels and sheets. Plus, I've heard that it's a good idea to use white vinegar in the rinse water as well. I did use a whole cup each of the borax and washing soda, and I would definately do that again.

Ben and I figured out the cost and for this whole batch it was less than a dollar to make. I can do about 50-60 loads of laundry with this much detergent, so I think that as long as we're happy with the cleanliness of our clothes, this is a great way to go. I was having a hard time fitting laundry soap into my cvs deals, so this is just much better.

I'm planning to pour it into empty detergent jugs to make it easier to use and measure. I think that'll be much more pleasant and sanitary than dipping my hand and the cup right into the bucket!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

On a Roll

Ben likes to call this particular art installation
"A Beppy Prepares"

Well, I've finished just about everything on my list plus a couple of small things, like phone calls, that I had to add as well. All I've got left to complete is baking the sticky buns. I've got the dough mixing in the bread maker right now, so then they'll be ready to bake while the meatloaf bakes.

I've had a good day and I feel like I've really accomplished some things today, but I'm definately ready to have a good rest under a fan (it's so hot right now!) and work on my embroidery. Maybe I'll have some progress to picture tomorrow.

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Menu for 6-1 to 6-7

I'll be serving veggie sticks with each lunch and tossed salad with each dinner. There's yogurt for snacks, and I might try making some multi grain crackers this week as well, to go with hummus or cheese dip.

B: Cereal
L: Turkey Sandwiches
D: Eggs and Toast

B: Pancakes
L: Wraps on Whole Wheat Tortillas
D: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

B: Pancakes
L: Meatloaf Sandwiches
D: Baked Potato Bar

B: Pancakes
L: Wraps
D: Lasagna and Bread Sticks

B: Whole wheat Oat n Blueberry Muffins
L: Leftover Lasagna
D: Macaroni Salad with Turkey and Peas

B: Muffins
L: Grilled Cheese
D: Pizza Night!

B: Leftover Pizza
L: Leftover Macaroni Salad
D: Nachos

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To Do Today

I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by my to do list today, so I thought I'd post it here for a little accountability and cheerleading. My blogging friends are always so encouraging, it's nice to have the feedback.

1. 1 hr of Lawn Mowing
2. 2 (at least) Loads of Laundry
3. Plant all the plants my mom brought me and water all the others waiting for the garden
4. Make Meatloaf and Peel Potatoes for Dinner
5. Make Sticky Buns to thank the neighbors for letting us borrow their truck
6. Update Blog (which I've done, yay! see my latest finished project below)

I didn't jump right into my morning routine this morning either, so there are still the litterboxes and trash and dishes to take care of as well.

I'm planning to be able to post by two this afternoon that I've either finished all these things or have them well underway. That's my goal for the day, and I'm planning to reward myself with a movie and embroidery (or a nap, if I'm really tired, I didn't seem to sleep very well!).

After dinner we'll be going to pick up our chicken coop building materials. We didn't want to do that after Mass in our church clothes yesterday. I'm getting more and more excited about our building project. I think I might invite a couple of friends over for a chicken coop raising!

Anyway, I'll update at two and let you all know if I acheived today's goals!

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Spring Embroidered Banner

Here is my finished Spring banner. I think the satin stitching in the dragonfly is my favorite part. My satin stitching is rarely so even.
The flag themed one in still in the hoop and is going slowly. I haven't really gotten the chance to work on it much. Maybe this afternoon I can have a nice sit down and pull it out and get the blue finished. That'll depend on when I finish the rest of my work, I guess. I'm still working on my lawn mowing as fitness routine, so I'm pretty tired by afternoon after an couple of hours of outdoor work.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Even BeppyCats Get the Blues

But I'm feeling tons better now. I did have a dr's appt on Friday, and I decided to just go get it done. It made me feel better to follow through with a commitment. Everything there went well. I'd even lost three pounds. And, if it's not too distasteful, I've got to congratulate my doctor on being the fastest speculum this side of the Mississippi. That woman has pelvic exams down to a science.

Anyway, I've been having a fairly good weekend. Yesterday we spent the day in bed. Ben had been planning a day of absolutely nothing for a while, and he was glad to get the chance. We even bought snacks and had a cooler. It was fun. And I napped like crazy.

This morning I mowed the lawn for an hour or two, then I cleaned the kitchen and sorted the laundry. I also made some laundry soap. This is the first time I've tried it, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow morning to see how it turned out.

Right now, Ben's making a materials list for our chicken coop. I'm very apprehensive about working on this with him, because building anything with Ben is a big challenge for me. I'll be very glad when it's finished, because then we can go pick up the chickens! I'm very excited to get my chickens.

We've borrowed the neighbors truck, and we'll be heading to Home Depot after mass this evening to pick all the supplies up. Hopefully we can get the coop built within the next couple of weekends. I'm sure the people we're buying the chickens from want them picked up sooner than later, considering that everyday it's like they're feeding them for us at this point.

I'd better go now, but tomorrow I'll have pictures and the week's menu, so have a good time till then!

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