Friday, May 29, 2009

Studying

I haven't been sleeping all that well this past week. Well, I slept so hard last night! It was wonderful to sleep so deeply after sleeping so fitfully for a number of nights in a row.

My neck is still sore. It's definately not 100%, but it's not nearly so bad as it was when I woke up yesterday, so I'm seeing improvement. I figure there's no reason to drag a dr. into it as long as there's some improvement as I go along.

My plan for the day is to do all the laundry. That's a fairly not strenuous chore, and it's piled up this week, with needing more laundry soap and then my neck yesterday. So that's the job I've given myself, and Ben says he'll take care of the rest.

Since I don't really want to just sit around doing nothing the rest of the time while the laundry washes and dries, I'm going to study. I've got a number of books from the library that I haven't really gotten the chance to go through, so I'm going to check and see if any need to be kept and read more in depth.

Also, we got a new lawn mower this weekend! But I have no idea how to drive it, because it's a manual transmission, so I have to study the book and see if i can pass my lawn mower's driving test some time next week. So far I've learned just from looking at the pictures on the key chain that came with the key that you are not supposed to back over children and mow off their legs. And that the manufacturers assume that men will be doing the mowing (hence the warning not to back over children? I know that some people have low opinions about a man's ability to pay attention, but I'd assume it's not that bad).

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Day Off



Yesterday, after I spent the day making laundry soap, deep cleaning and scrubbing the master bathroom, making apple pie, and freezing extra dinners, I said to Ben that I was going to take today mostly off, just doing my regular chores and the laundry, and nothing much else.
This morning I woke up with my neck seizing/cramping up, unable to move my head more than an inch or so in any direction. I don't know if I've overdone it with the work I've been doing, or if I just slept funny, or if some one event caused a pinched nerve or pulled muscle.... but I do know that I'm taking today off, whether I like it or not.
I'm not really superstitious, but we'll just call this the third in a run of bad luck and hope that's over for now. The first was that we scratched the neighbors' truck kind of bad when we borrowed it this past weekend, and we'll have to pay to fix that out of our savings. The second is that the transmission on the car blew out and will have to be replaced (it's under warranty, thank God) and we are completely without a vehicle until Tuesday. So, in case superstitions are real, I'm calling this injured neck number three, and hoping the bad luck will just leave me alone for a while now.
If anyone needs me, I'll be pouting on the couch in a stiff position, feeling sorry for myself. :(

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gearing Up for a Busy Time with Big Recipes

My very busy season is beginning. Summer finds me busy with mowing the lawn, weeding and caring for the garden, and dealing with the harvest, as it does many people. With four-five times as many tomato plants out in the garden this year as last year, I'm looking at a big canning season in a few months. Not to mention the increase in the amount of peppers and corn and squashes and beans. Anyone who's kept up with a garden while preserving the harvest will know what I mean.

When you include in these activities the fact that summer is also a busy time of holidays, family, friends, and occasionally traveling, it can seem overwhelming.

But I have a plan. I plan on spending any rainy days from now till harvesting begins working on busy time prep. Since I can't go outside and work, and there's not anything that has to be processed yet, I can use this down time to my advantage.

Yesterday I spent the day making extra quick breakfasts and got a 1 1/2 doz. breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos put together and in the freezer. I also made a quadruple batch of sweet n sour sauce, divided and froze it, for quick dinners made from chopped veggies and leftovers of pork or chicken.

Today, I've planned pasta for dinner, so I'll double or triple what I usually make, and put it together as individual pasta bakes. I mix the pasta and sauce and a little cheese all together and then spoon it into small pyrex dishes. These are wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, labeled, and frozen. It makes an easy dish to have on a hot busy day, since they can be heated in the the toaster oven.

I'm going to apply the same tactic tomorrow, when I have a baked potato bar planned for dinner, by baking most of the bag of potatoes and turning all the leftovers into frozen twice baked potatoes.

I'm also including cleaning in my plan, since I really fell back on cleaning last summer, I want to try harder to keep the house company ready. So, on the rainy days or the slower ones, I'll remember to add at least one bigger cleaning or organizing project. Such as wiping down the cupboards, moving everything and scrubbing the counters, deep cleaning the bathrooms, vacuming the couch, etc.

Here are some of the recipes mentioned in this post:

Breakfast Sandwiches
http://beppycat.blogspot.com/2008/06/bacon-and-cheese-biscuit-egg-sandwiches.html

Breakfast Burritos
I used these homemade tortillas
http://beppycat.blogspot.com/2008/04/whole-wheat-tortilla-endeavor.html
and filled them by following the same procedure of baking scrambled eggs in a dish described in the egg sandwich post, but for the burritos I mixed a bit of sour cream, salsa and cheddar cheese into the eggs as I was scrambling them. This extra moisture did cause the eggs to take longer than usual to set, but made them very southwestern. Also, baking the toppings into the eggs makes the burritos easier to eat, since they can't crumble or drip out.

Sweet n Sour Sauce
I pretty much follow the recipe on Tammy's Recipes
http://www.tammysrecipes.com/sweet_sour_shicken_over_rice
But I put it together in a much different way.
Into a jar measure all the spices and the cornstarch, add half of the liquid (water in the recipe, but I use chicken broth, and orange juice or pineapple juice are good too), and shake it up well to combine. Then in the saucepan mix together the other half of the liquid, the sugar, the vinegar, the soy sauce, and the ketchup. Whisk in the shaken up contents of the jar, and whisk until boiled and thickened. So my version leaves out the flour and the oil. Then you're left with the seasoned sauce and you can mix in pinapple chunks, chunked onion and peppers and bamboo shoots and broccoli, and chopped up leftover cooked meat, like roasted chicken or pork chops. We also like to add toasted sesame seeds and serve it all over rice. This is a tasty dinner that's just as much of a treat as going out to the buffet.

Twice Baked Potatoes
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/07/twice_baked_pot/
I can't really say it any better about these than Ree does. She's right about leaving the green onion out if you're freezing them! But I will add a pinch of onion or garlic powder to the whole mix so I can still get that taste.

Enjoy the recipes, and if you have any more good ideas about how I can stay ahead of busy times without falling behind on meals and cleaning, I'd love to hear them!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Look What I've Got!

Over there in the corner. Could they be?

Yep! They're baby cinnamon queens!

I guess that makes them Cinnamon Princesses.

Boy, we had a full weekend! I have blog posts for all week, just from one weekend. But, for now, we'll start with the baby chicks. We wanted to increase our flock, because we've been selling pretty much every egg that gets laid around here. So I arranged to get these three chicks from the couple who sold us the original half-dozen last summer. Eight is the limit to our flock for now, because our tractor coop won't hold anymore than that. Once these three are big enough to graduate from their box, they'll be living in a chain link dog kennel and igloo dog house until they start laying. Then we'll integrate them into the flock, when they're as big as the others.

In the mean time, they're just chicks in a box, being pretty cute. I saw one yawn yesterday. It thinks it's people.

I've got big plans for today. Since I spent most of last week outside, mowing the lawn and trying to get the garden put in, I'm going to be tryin to catch up on some indoor work. I've got lots of things to bake and freeze, and a couple of scuzzy bathrooms that need some major scrubbing. I've got my list all made, and my mp3 player charged, so I'd better get going and really buckle down to work!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 22, 2009

I've Got Chills! They're Multiplyin'!

Okay, so, I may have gotten a touch of sunstroke yesterday. Seriously, how can I be so wimpy? I was only outside for a few hours in the morning. Anyway, I'm sure the fact that I missed a big patch on my shoulders when I put on my sunblock did not help. Ouch.

I tilled up the section for the tomatoes and peppers and I also prepared a bed by the deck for my loofa. I got the loofa planted and used the push mower to trim here and there and do the edges around the shrubs and fences. I also planted the tiny little chamomile seedlings, but I have to admit, I don't have great hope for them.

That leaves the fifty or so tomato and pepper seedlings that I have left to get into the ground. But since their section is all fluffed up and prepared, that shouldn't take too long to do this morning. I'm hoping to be back in before ten or so, when it gets hotter.

We're also growing some Sunberries this year, and I'm pretty interested to find out what they taste like. The seed catalog raved, but I have my doubts that an annual berry can have all that much going for it. And other reviews I've read pretty much say that it being a fast growing berry that tastes okay when you add sugar to it is about all it's got going for it. I've got some started as seedlings, but they sprouted so much later, they're still small, and I don't know if they've hardened off as well as the tomatoes. But I'm going to plant them anyway and start some seeds directly in the garden as well.

I'm excited to finally get all those little sprouts out of my sewing room. Fighting the damping off and keeping them alive was getting kind of annoying. I'm the worst when it comes to house plants. Having them outside in the dirt where they're not completely dependent on me will probably really increase their odds of survival.

I wonder if it's possible to force a black thumb to turn green? Like forcing a bulb or something.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A more interesting life?

So, I was thinking this morning that I'd better start doing some more interesting things, or my blog is going to suffer.

It's not that I've been doing nothing, but I haven't really been doing anything worth taking pictures of.

On Tuesday I borrowed the neighbors' mower and mowed the whole lawn. It had gotten away from us while we were gone, so I really needed to do it all at once, which meant begging the rider. But I absolutely can't stand borrowing, so that's the last time. It'll be back to the pusher rotation starting today or tomorrow. We'd like to buy a rider ourselves, but they're so expensive, and I don't really know enough about them to confidently buy one used. I don't understand how people can ever get started with animals and farming when all the fencing and equipment costs so much! It can be frustrating.

I was out for about four hours on Tuesday, and got a bit sunburned, even though I did have sunblock and my sun hat on. I even took a lunch break, but all that sun took it out of me a bit, so yesterday I did more indoor things. I scrubbed the kitchen, because we've been spotting ants here and there, and bugs in my kitchen is traumatic for me, so I wanted to get rid of any crumbs that might be drawing them. I did go out and hoe in the garden and turn the compost pile, but I didn't stay out for long. I guess I'll have to buy a pitchfork for turning the compost. The shovel just didn't cut it, and I ended up moving most of it by hand. My pretty pink John Deere gardening gloves that my Mother-in-Law bought me are worse for the wear. Gardening gloves only seem to stay pretty as long as you don't use them.

Today, I'm going to get a section of the garden all ready and plant the tomatoes and the peppers. I'm also hoping to put something in place at the end of the deck for the loofa to climb and to get them in the ground as well.

After all that ambitious planting, I'm hoping to catch up on the four episodes of Lost that I'm behind and knit. I'm totally in a couch and knitting mood, but I'm saving it for later to motivate me to do the planting and such that I have to do.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drunken Sprouts

I spent yesterday unpacking from our trip and cleaning and organizing the dining room. Our table is such a catch-all, it needs to be stripped bare, and all the detritis put away every week or so, and I hadn't done it for quite a while, so it was piled. Now all that's not in it's proper place is a small stack of stuff of Ben's, that I know he doesn't want me to throw away, but I have no idea were to keep.

That made me feel productive, so I started on a bigger project. I collected and sorted all the canning jars that have been collecting along the stairs all winter, putting them all in their boxes and stacking them in the storage room. Now I can see exactly how many of each size I have (way too many quarts, and not nearly enough pints, but we will be doing a lot of canning, so that might turn into: just enough quarts and way way way not enough pints.), and be ready when the time comes. I also gathered every ring and box of lids and canning tool and package of pectin from all their various storage places and put them into a plastic tote alongside the jars, for easy transport and access.

I inventoried the canned goods we have left, and put them all into the storage cabinet in our closet, so they'd be in one spot. In the fall we'd stored quite a few on cardboard under the bed, so they'd be out of the sun and we could slide the whole thing in and out, but there's plenty of room in the cabinet now, so in there they all went.



I set up some alfalfa seeds to sprout, but I'd used all the cheesecloth last fall sewing storage bags for onions, so I decided to knit a little net to make the draining and rinsing easier. In case anyone is curious about a pattern, it's just a garter stich square of about thirty stitches with crochet cotton and size 1 needles. It does it's job and keeps the seeds in, while letting the water out, so it works just the way it should.
For our anniversary, I got Ben a small winemaking kit, and we've been making some blackberry wine. The blackberries were on a very good deal at the grocery store, so we bought enough for the wine, and I stole a couple of cups of jucie before the fermenting began and made about five half-pints of jelly as well. Anyway, last night we siphoned it into this secondary fermenter, and there it will stay for the next year or so, getting ready to be drunk. It was pretty fun to do, and we actually did not spill any wine on the floor. I was impressed with us.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nieces

Here I am with my brand new niece, Liliana Irene. She is Ben's brother Dan's new daughter. The new mom, my sister in law Missy, is in the background, and I hope she doesn't mind being partly on my blog. Love you guys!

Here is little Missy J in her First Communion Dress, after the mass was all done. Her outfit came together pretty well. The dress was much more full than she wanted it, so I resewed the skirt and it's lining on Friday night when I got to their house. I took about six inches out of the width at the hem, and after that, it fit her really well, and she liked it a lot.

I couldn't resist posting this picture. It turned out so arty, and it was pretty much completely an accident.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 15, 2009

Making a Zippered Pouch - Rosary Pouch

I spent Wednesday afternoon making an embroidered pouch to go along with the rosary that I made for Julia. Here are some quick instructions. This could be adjusted for any size or use, like a makeup bag or a electronics pouch.

First, mark out the dimensions you want the bag to be. Don't forget to take into account the seam allowances. My dimensions for one side of the pouch are 4X3.5. I marked both sides on one piece of fabric, so the entire rectangle is 4X7. This is also the time to draw in the embroidery and complete it.


Cut out the embroidered piece and a lining piece of the same size.

Using a zipper a couple of inches longer than the opening, sew the zipper right sides together, with the outside of the zipper tape aligned with the raw edge of the fabric, to both ends of the main piece. Flatten this out, and press it, and topstitch along the fabric edge. Remember to remove any of the marking ink before pressing, or it can become permanent.

Fold the piece right sides together and zip the zipper half-way, so the zipper pull will be in the middle of the opening.
Sew the two side seams, backstitching all the way to the top to be sure to catch the zipper teeth in the stiching. Carefully reach in and un-zip the zipper, then turn the pouch right side out.

Prepare the lining by sewing the side seams and trimming them to reduce bulk. Then press the top edge down to create a finished edge.


Slipstich the lining to the inside of the zipper tape, fitting it in place first, and making sure the seams and corners are all aligned.

The lining and slipstiching will make a finished inside, with no ravelling threads to get caught around the contents of the pouch. Make sure to put the lining in the bag so the right side is to the inside. It'll look inside out before you put it in there.

Here is the finished pouch with the rosary that I made.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On a Thursday

Finished Rosary with Embroidered Pouch
I finished Julia's rosary yesterday. I had to wait till then because I needed to order the center piece and the cross from FireMountainGems, because Hobby Lobby didn't have any gold choices at all. I was surprised by that, but was pretty glad that Fire Mountain's shipping was fast enough to get it to me on time, even though I didn't order till Sunday. The rosary is made with round glass beads. The pink beads are 4mm and the white beads are 6mm.
Today, I'm going to get my hair cut. I'm really looking forward to that as a chance to relax a bit, because the next few days are just going to be crazy! We leave for MI tonight, so I have to get the house ready and get all packed. We'll be getting in pretty late, and tomorrow we have family activities with lots of people and then Saturday is going to be the First Communion which includes a morning long retreat and then a First Communion/Birthday party afterward. And on Sunday we get to head to Ben's brother's and see their new baby! She was born on Friday night, so she'll still be shiny and new, lol. Ben and I are excited we have another niece now.
I won't be around to answer comments, but I do have a post all written and scheduled to go for tomorrow, about how to make a zippered pouch like the one I made for the rosary in the picture above. And then I'll be back on Monday... probably kind of grouchy and tired. But I'm really looking forward to all the fun and festivities this weekend.
I'd probably better head off and get packing. I can't decide what shoes I should bring. Isn't packing just so hard sometimes?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seedlings

My seedlings are still all hobbling along. I wouldn't say they are triving, but a lot of them are still alive, so that's a pretty good track record for me. Next year, I'm definately going to have a better set up. I'd like to have a long kind of grow light as well, but they were sold out at both the stores I checked, so that'll go on the list for next spring.

I'd be glad if my tomatoes would learn to be real, grown-up tomatoes. I'm of the opinion that what they really need is to go in the ground soon. I've repotted some of them into bigger containers, and may do a few more this week. But what I'd really like is to get them hardened off next week and planted. Plants under my care do so much better when they're in the ground. If it's in a pot, or in the house, it's chances aren't good with me.

The experimental loofas are thriving though. I can't wait to get them outside, so they can really stretch out and start climbing. I don't know if our season will be long enough for them, but I think it will be, and we should get some loofa sponges this fall.
It's a cold windy wet day today, so no gardening will be taking place at my house. I'm looking forward to a time sometime soon when it'll hold off raining for at least four or five days, and then I can work up more of the garden plot, and get all this outside. Then the weather is welcome to go back to it's schedule of raining every other or every third day.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wedding Anniversary Times Two

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. Which was why I didn't post, because Ben treated me to a weekend away, and I was off shopping for bulk oatmeal in Amish country. He really knows what makes me happy.

Seven years ago Ben and I got married in Kalamazoo, MI. All of my wedding pictures are pixelated like that because we couldn't afford to hire a wedding photographer and a friend did them for us with his digital camera. Which was a really nice one at the time. I don't mind though. I like the old-fashioned, newspaper-like look they have.
I actually didn't enjoy my wedding much. Sometimes, I wish I'd enjoyed it more, but mostly I'm okay with things being how they were. I enjoyed preparing for it quite a bit, because I learned cake decorating and made our pillared cake, and I sewed Ben's vest and tie, and made my bouquet and veil, and all those things were super fun for me. But the day it's self was stress filled, with lots of tension. I was young, and I took things very personally, and felt that I was responsible for everyone's happiness, and very much didn't want to be.
It's a good thing I enjoy my marriage so much. Things improved a million times after the wedding day was over. That's why I don't really regret that my wedding day wasn't some magical fairy-land of happiness... I'd rather live in real life with Ben.
Two years ago we celebrated the validation of our marriage in the Catholic Church in Chandler, AZ. This was one of the best days of my entire life. It was filled with so much fun, and love, and faith. I grew up a lot in five years, and it was nice to get to stand up in front of God (again) and make vows, especially since this time I knew what I was getting in to. I was able to relax and have a good time. I've learned to be a hostess without feeling stressed out, so my guests can have more fun around me. I've learned that other people's wishes are not demands, and don't have to be either acquiesced to, or resented, but simply met to the best of my ability with graciousness.

But most of all, I've learned that a good relationship is a blessing from God. And having Ben in my life, no matter what else comes along, is a treasure that I'm priviledged to be given.

I love him so much, I marred him. Twice.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cloverfield

Okay, so you know how every so often I like to try to think of a name for our house, because all the cool houses and farms have names? Like Green Gables. And The Hermitage. Well, we were watching the John Adams mini-series last night, and he named his farm Peacefield. I really like that, so I thought maybe something-field would be a good name for our place. And I came up with Cloverfield, because we have so much lush beautiful clover.
I really liked the ring of it.
BeppyCat of Cloverfield...
Eggs fresh from Cloverfield Farm...
Then I realized that that's the title of a movie that came out last year that was about monsters or some such.
Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Because BeppyCat of Flat-Rectangle doesn't really have that romantic sound.

What else have I been up to other than daydreaming about naming my house? Oh, this and that. I wrote an article for Associated Content today, and I visited with our neighbor. I've been sketching more designs for homemaking themed t-shirts. I'm hoping to have one or two finished and loaded onto cafepress by tomorrow.


I pulled out my jewelry making supplies and put together most of rosary as a gift for Julia's First Communion. I've got to get to Hobby Lobby and pick up the centerpiece and a cross in gold, since the only ones I have on hand in my supplies are silver and pewter.

This morning I needed one last egg to finish the dozen my neighbor had requested, so I went out to the coop earlier than usual to see if there were any yet, and one of my hens was just getting out of the box when I opened the door. The egg was still hot! Which was cool, yet very creepy all at the same time, seeing as it had just that instant come out of her. I suppose that even for me, who collects the eggs right from their coop, there's a bit of a disconnect between the hen and the egg usually.

Our Amish Snap Peas have sprouted, and so has the first batch of radishes. I've got lots of onions coming up through the straw in their section, and the herbs in their herb bed all seem to be really settling in and getting ready to do some growing. I was just thinking the other day that I'd love to be hearing the sound of the canning jars doing their pinging thing, but I suppose it's a bit soon for that right now. But remind me of it in August, when the last thing I want to see is my jar tongs and the canning pot.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Raised Beds from Pallets and other things

I managed to finish everything on my to do list yesterday! But today I was pretty tired out from my very full week, so I took it easy and did mostly indoor work. Though I did plant some carrots and radishes.

Here's the compost set-up I did yesterday. This plastic bin had gotten broken pretty badly across the bottom, so I broke the bottom out all the way and then dug up and flipped over the sod, so the compost would be sitting on dirt. (I don't know, I just read it works better that way.) When I want to mix the compost, I can just lift it up, set it on the bare patch next to it, and fork all the compost right back into it. It's not fancy, but it'll keep it from spreading all over the lawn, anyway.

The ladies say hi.Ben and I picked up these pallets (actually, I think they might be called skids) from a motorcycle shop that was giving them away. The same place that we got all the bricks for the border of our herb bed. They've been in the garage since, waiting for their destiny. I started breaking them down this week, and it's easier than I thought, though I still can't figure out how to remove the rusty nails. I think I might have to just cut them off flush, using the dremel tool. But luckily, the parts I wanted for immediate use don't have any nails left in them after the whole thing is broken down.
Here's what I did with one of them. I used two of the ready made box like parts and screwed them to stakes made from some other scraps. I filled this with sand and aged manure for growing carrots and turnips. We have to grow root veggies in rasied beds because our regular soil is just way too clay to get any good results with those. This is about two feet by two feet, so not huge, but a fun way to do a little "sqare foot gardening" for the varieties and plants that can't handle our clay soil.
I planted the carrot seeds in here this afternoon, which were some Minicor that my mother-in-law sent in Ben's birthday gift. They look like they'll be the perfect variety for eating through the summer. And just the right size for growing in my little boxes. I planted some radishes every five inches or so along the rows to mark them, since they germinate and are harvested so much more quickly than the carrots.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers...

(Okay, so my next door neighbor isn't really a stranger, but I couldn't resist a little Blanche Dubois.)

On Sunday, Ben mowed a large section of the yard, and yesterday, when I went out to mow, I found that he'd bent the mower handle pretty badly, so it was much much more difficult to get through the tall clover with it. So, after trying to fix it and failing, I was silently saying not so nice things about my husband, along the lines of "fine, you can't use things without breaking them, then you can mow all the lawn from now on!", when the neighbor saw me in the garage and stopped by to ask a question.

Well, we visited a bit, and he said he'd let me get back to what I was doing, and I mentioned that I had been about to mow the lawn, but since the mower wouldn't work well, it would have to wait for Ben to fix it and then do the mowing himself. And he asked why didn't I just borrow theirs? Well, in general I do not like borrowing things, especially not gigantic tractor-like lawn mowers with a scoop, that I have to climb to get on and that cost more than I'd spend on a car. But my mower was broken. And it's supposed to rain so much this week! So, I gave in and had him show me how to use it.

I had so much fun! It's so much faster than the push mower, so I did the entire yard, including the way-back, with all the scrub and weeds. (I did ask him about that first, since I was scared it would wreck his mower.) It did make me pretty sore though, because the darn thing is so huge, I didn't fit on it right at all, and had to stretch to reach the pedals and stuff.

So, now that the lawn is all mowed, I just have to get out our little one today to do along the edges around the trees and the deck and stuff, and it'll be all done. Amazing. No wonder people don't usually mow two acre yards with a push mower. :)

My list today has the finishing trimming that I have to do on the yard, and setting up a box for my compost instead of just piling it on the ground, organizing paperwork and paying the bills, setting up a new big litter box for the cats, baking cupcakes for the neighbor to say thank you for the use of the lawn mower, and working on some more of my Homemaker t-shirt ideas.

Last night Ben and I built a little raised bed and started filling it with sand, but Ben insists that carrots won't grow in just sand, and so he's going to pick up a bag of manure and mix that in when he gets home. So we'll probably plant carrots this evening.

I'd better get a move on if I'm going to finish everything I have planned for the day. I'll carry the camera around with me today, so tomorrow I can post photographic evidence of my industriousness.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 04, 2009

Did anyone get the name of that bear?

So, today's my monthly day of waking up feeling like I was mauled by a bear sometime during the night. But once I'm up and moving around a bit, I do start to feel better and limber up. Good thing too, because in order for my excellent lawn mowing plan to work, I have to make sure that mowing happens everyday it doesn't rain. Or we'll never keep up with just the push mower to do the work. So, I'm going to shake off the bear aches and get to moving. Also, do you all think you'll be completely sick of the references to lawn mowing by the time Oct. rolls around? I will be.

I finished the First Communion Dress and got it shipped off to MI. I hope that it'll fit her and she likes it. Unfortunately, the pictures I took before I packed it up are really blurry. I'm not sure how that happened, since I thought they looked good, but they're not worth posting. So I guess we'll have to wait for the conclusion to the First Communion Dress series for a couple of weeks, until I can get a chance to be in the same room with it again and take some good pictures. It turned out pretty cute though. I will say that.

I used the last of the pumpkin puree from the freezer yesterday to make pie for this week's breakfasts. I've been taking stock of the things we canned and froze last year and trying to plan for this coming year.

I think that this fall, I'll want to freeze at least twice as many quart bags of apple pie filling. There's only one left right now, and that's because I've been saving it since I realized it was the last one a month or two ago. And I think I should can about a third to a half more applesauce, since I'm down to the last three or four quarts right now. I don't need to have any more bradied apples or spiced apples, since those hardly got touched, but I might want to have more jam and jelly, since the apple jelly proved to be very popular with our friends and family, and I gave most of it away.

The relish and the dill pickles are lasting just fine, so I think that most of the cucumbers this year will be eaten fresh. Though Ben did plant some gerhkins just to experiment with pickling them.

The okra that we grew last year was a flop, and the best pickled okra we put up was from our friend Ken's mom's garden, so we'll hope for such a gift this year too. We might bribe him with canned goods to make it happen.

What we really need to have in stock the most will be sweet corn, green beans, snap peas, spinach, and other veggies of that sort. The green beans we froze last year are edible, but that's about all you can say for them. They're pretty tough, and I don't know if that's the fault of the freezer, or they weren't picked soon enough, or it's my processing. I think we'd both prefer canning the beans this year. I'm planning to freeze the snap peas, so I hope that'll turn out better that last year's string beans. I think that it'll be best to get the pressure canner working and learn to pressure can so I can do the veggies that way. I think we'll enjoy them more and eat them way more often.

We'll need at least four times as much tomato sauce, since we ran out way back in December, I think. And I'm hoping that I'll get enough tomatoes to try making ketchup too. And salsa would be fun. It's funny to me, how I don't really like tomatoes raw, but tomato products are absolutely some of my favorite foods. Whenever I eat a tomato slice, I always just think it's like a pale shadow of the yummy taste of tomato sauce. Anyway, to have so much tomato sauce, I'm really hoping that my little seedlings can pull through. They're not looking really awesome though, so I guess I might have to resign myself to buying some plants at the farmers' market. I was really hoping not to have to do that.

Well, I had better get moving and quit stalling, since it's time for breakfast and to get my harder chores finshed. I'm listening to a book by Michael Pollan right now, so I'm looking forward to hearing more while I mow, and then, this afternoon, I can rest while I read some of the books I've got out of the library. My renewing habit is getting out of hand, so I figure I'd better try to keep up better when I check things out.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Homemakers' Club

By popular demand, today's post is going to be about the Homemakers' Club that I belong to, that met at my house a few weeks ago.

I refer to it as the Homemakers' Club for ease, but in reality it's the Hamel chapter of the MCAHCE which stands for Madison County Association of Home and Community Education. And it used to be call the Home County Extension, I think. In essence that's what it is, the county extension club.

Our chapter has about 20 or so members at any given time. In general, meetings follow the format of a board meeting, with the rules of order. The meetings generally last 3-4 hours, all told. Everyone gathers in the home of the person who is hosting that month, and visits a bit, then snacks and coffee and drinks are served, and then the meeting is called to order. The Pledge of Allegiance is said and the minutes from the last meeting are read. The business presented for the club usually involves charitable giving or news items involving us or other chapters. There is a report from all the officers and people who head things up, like the 4H leaders, and from our treasurer. The members all collect and donate different things, like cancelled postage stamps, Campbell's labels, can tabs, milk lids, Box Tops for Education, old blankets and towels, canned foods, old eyeglasses, and toiletries. These are all given to charities that can use them like the local schools, the Lion's Club, the animal shelters, and the food pantries.

At every meeting, a lesson is presented. The person who presents the lesson attends a main teaching session at the University of Illinois Extension offices, then brings the handouts and information and reports the lesson back to the club. The lesson can be about many different topics. The last one was about retirement funds and the different tax laws and such surrounding ira's and whatnot. You can tell I was riveted by that one. :) The March meeting usually has a gardening lesson. The last one was about ground covers. There have been fun ones, like Using Your Creativity, and then there have been ones that don't apply to me very well at all, like retirement homes. And there are some in between, like the one about retirement money and the one about writing wills and having living wills. Things I should know about, but aren't super intested in. It's generally a good mix.

In addition to the meetings, there are also outings that are fun for us, like last summer we went into St. Louis and saw My Fair Lady at the MUNY. And charitble events, like the Easter bake sale we held at the bank in town to raise $300+ for the Animal Shelter and the ALS Association. There will be a lunch service stand at the Hamel community wide rummage sales on May 16th, as well. I won't get to attend that, because I'll be gone to MI then, but it's also a charity fundraiser, where the ladies will serve sloppy joes and hot dogs and other treats for sale at the community center in town on the day everyone is having their rummage sales.

The ladies in the club are generally of my grandmother's generation, though there is a mix of those in my mom's generation. The only one close to my age is about six years older, but she had to quit and go back to school and work. It's difficult for people of my generation to join, I suppose, since most of them work or have kids at home, and the meetings are on weekday afternoons. But the clubs only meet once a month, so I would think it might be do-able for some sahm's to join and attend.

Though there is a big age difference, and it can be frustrating when they don't know what I'm talking about sometimes (like trying to explain about audio books and mp3 players... I shouldn't even have gotten into that conversation, lol), I find that I do have a lot in common with the ladies as well as a lot I can learn from them. Though the club's lessons themselves rarely cover baking or gardening or animals or canning, all I have to do is ask during the social parts of the meetings for lots of input and advice.

So, that's my view of the Homemakers' Club and how it works.
http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/madisonstclair/index.html
Here's the link for the county extension, which has some great resources, but which doesn't really mention this particular program. The University of Illinois Extension site in general has tons of info about planting and gardening all sorts of fruits and veggies though, so it's a good site to browse if you're interested.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Related Posts with Thumbnails