Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photo Op

We have an incredible nature park just a few miles from our house. It's my go-to place for peace and quiet. Stick to the paved path if you need civilization (i.e. other people/dog walkers). Or, do what I do and follow random paths.... randomly. You never know when you might come across a horseback rider or raccoon. It's also an excellent place to go for geo caching.

I took Emma and my camera (that I am still trying to master) and snapped a few pix.

We rested for a bit at the picnic pavilion, couldn't resist this shot.

Here's my sweet Miss Em

Ahhh, the roads these toes have traveled so far...

This one is one of my favorites... total fluke how it happened though...

As we were walking back, I heard a distinct crackling to my left and caught this doe by surprise.

Emma kept chattering away and calling to her even though I was shushing her as loudly as I dared. I was hoping to see a baby, no luck. Just this guy:

Yeah, I KNOW!! What do you think? 6 or 8 points? (I'm not sure how to tell.) Then, I totally missed the next shot, an even bigger buck!! I love seeing wild life up close like this.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What I see Out My Window

Ah, Fall... such a gorgeous season!!

This is the view out my front window (ahem, it WAS the view, until the wind/rain dropped all the leaves.)

I absolutely LOVE red leaves! We planted a Red Maple and a Red Oak the first month we moved here. 5 years later, the color is fabulous! About the time the Maple looses all it's leaves, the Oak turns. Ah, fall. :D

Friday, October 30, 2009

Public Service Announcement

When the house gets too quiet, all moms know to check on the little ones. This is why:

Here's the "artist" providing today's makeover to the lovely Honey. (It only took 4 days for the blue to wear off.)

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind emails and comments. I'm doing much better and hope to be back to my regular self very soon. It's been a tough road, but what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger. (All props to Kanye for the quote, which has been my song of inspiration lately. :D)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Still here, I promise

Hi~~ This is me, waving at you!

I've not fallen into a crack in the road - just hit a speed bump that slowed me down a little. :D

Remember when I posted about the volunteer potatoes ~ the ones that came up from last year? Well, I needed to mulch the garden and also plant things that needed to go in, so I dug up the volunteers. 12 pounds of potatoes - all because during last year's harvest, some potatoes got left behind. That's frugal gardening, I do believe!!
I'll be back posting soon ~ thanks for checking in

Monday, June 1, 2009

Independence Day Challenge Week 5

Raspberries blooming.

1) Plant something:
Okay, I had to re-plant the yellow & butternut squash and the loofa. The ones I started indoors didn't survive the transplant, even though they were hardened off. The ones coming up from seed look 1000% stronger anyway! I also had to re-plant 2 tomatoes that didn't survive. I'm still not done planting tomatoes or peppers because this new garden spot is just not cooperating. Also, another row of radishes (what's the secret to getting them to form a bulb?), lettuce, spinach and my 3rd and final attempt at peas. Plus, sunflowers, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Someday, I'll have a camera that takes amazing shots. Until then, please admire this blurry jar of jam :D

2) Harvest something:
Just a few handfuls of lettuce and all the rhubarb (about 1.5 pounds). OH! And, the meat birds!! 55 pounds of chicken. Jerry, his dad and the boys processed the 10 birds in about 2 hours. Boys said it was gross, nasty and smelly. Jerry said it wasn't too bad. His dad didn't say much, other than my MIL said he better NOT bring home a chicken. Ok, more for us! I refrained from showing you a before and after. I LOVE before & after photos, but I know that not everyone is fond of home grown meat. Seriously though, it looks just like supermarket chicken.

3) Preserve Something
I went to the Farmer's Market in search of strawberries, and I found the last of the harvest. $4 a quart. I really wanted to make jam this year, so I forked over $8, happily. They were so good!! I stopped by Dillon's on the way home and found the above strawberries on clearance for $.79 a pound. I bought 14 pounds. They ended up in a strawberry rhubarb crumble, strawberry rhubarb pie and JAM, glorious, ruby red jam. My children have already tackled the first jar and declare it's the best jam ever. I know it wasn't local (strawberries were grown in the U.S.) but I saw the bargain and had to have it.

4) Prep Something
Remember that giant, 5' x 5' compost bin I had? In the middle of the garden? Well, I was soooo tired of looking at it smack in the middle of the garden. It was too big and hard to reach in and turn the compost. Jerry was convinced that it could be cut down and repurposed. He spent an afternoon chopping thru the free pallets and re-making them into this wonderful, 2 holer!! WHOOT!! I'm so excited!! I've now got hinged doors!! That makes it so easy to pop open, and flip the compost from one bin to another. We still have the old, black composter, sans lid to hold the excess. It's now hidden behind the shed. In it's old place, I planted watermelon. Hope it's not too fertile there. We shall see. :D

5) Cook Something:
Making jam was new to me. First year to harvest and cook the rhubarb. Surprisingly, it was so simple. Why was I worried? The jam set up nicely too! And the crumble? It didn't last long. It was SO GOOD! We are having the pie tonight. It may be all we eat, but that's how we roll. :D

6) Manage Reserves:
Still washing jars in anticipation of more canning sessions. Added more toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant & razors to the stockpile. Stockpiling is so new to me... it feels weird to have excess stuff. But, I'm learning that combining coupons with sales really DOES save a lot of money.

Knee-high by the 4th of July? Yep, I think it will be!

7) Work on Local Food Systems:
Planted extra Row for the Hungry. Donated some tomato plants to community garden.

Chooks in the garden, eating bugs, earning their keep. In a few weeks, I hope to have the garden fenced in so that the free rangers will stop eating the good stuff that I'm trying to grow. Seriously, we've gotten ONE strawberry ~ they've devoured the rest. They'll have 1/2 acre to roam and I do have 2 raised beds full of greens for them that they haven't discovered yet.

Etched In Stone

Yesterday, in my fine town, a man walked in to a church and shot another man, in the forehead. He killed a husband, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 10. He killed Dr. George Tiller. An abortion doctor.

No matter which side of the issue you are, this post isn't open to debate.

It is, however, my story. A deeply personal one.

Have you ever heard the theory that we are all born with a chalkboard? Everytime something is said to you, good or bad, it gets recorded. Sometimes, the writing fades over time if you don't hear it enough. Other times, what's said over and over eventually gets etched in, deeper and deeper until it makes you who you are.

I believe this. I've struggled for years to erase things on my slate that others thought about me and said to me, things I know to be untrue. But, there are some things that are etched so deeply, there isn't enough spackle to fill in the fissures.

On an ordinary summer day, when I was nine, my mother turned to me and casually said,

"Did you know that you were supposed to be aborted?"

My earth stopped and I was in some kind of a vacuum. What? What did she say?

"Yes," she went on, "your dad only wanted one child, so when he found out I was pregnant with you, he wanted to have you aborted, but I said no."

She went on to say that there was a doctor who was in agreement. Supposedly there was a sonogram showing me as having no arms or legs - just a torso and head. This was used to try to convince her that an abortion was a good idea.

Knowing the narcissist that is my mother, I wonder if she said it for shock factor (probably) or to get me to hate my birth father (probably), to garner sympathy (of course) or to hurt me.

I didn't know how to respond. I mean, I was 9 and I just heard that I was unwanted and should have been dead. What do you say to that?!?!

Over the years, she has said it a few more times, each time, forgetting that she'd already told me. Everytime I heard it, it etched deeper, and deeper. She even said it to me during my pregnancies.

Had I been aborted, I would not be here. My five wonderful, delightful, blessings from God would not be here.

When I hear the word Abortion, it etches this even deeper into my soul.

I wasn't wanted. I wasn't supposed to be alive. The pregnancy was to have been terminated. I was to have been terminated. Eliminated.


I believe that every human is on earth for a reason. It's up to each person to make their own choices and discover what they need to. I'm not here to judge. What you choose is your business.

I just wonder, who was eliminated, by choice? What futures will never be?

I don't wish to open this up to discussion or debate. Yesterday, my world was a firestorm of personal opinions and debates and I sat by, quietly watching, listening and praying.

All I ask, is if you have people in your life that you care about, look deep into their eyes and see what has been written on their slate. See what's been etched and what you can help to erase. It's never too late to change the slate.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Jerry changed his work schedule last week and we're just not settling into a routine... at all. His hours are shifted as are his days off. Consequently, all my routines have been thrown into a swirling pot. The kids are out of school for summer. And, for the first time in 8 years, I'm working from home.

It all adds up to upheaval. Not that's it's bad.... I LOVE having him home, even if he is asleep when we're awake. I just can't get a grip on a new schedule.

I'll be back when things aren't so upside down.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rain followed by Sun

Less than 2 weeks ago, the potato patch was spotty, at best.

Then it rained and rained. Finally, the sun shone. And, now you can practically watch it grow. Sadly, the weeds are growing just as fast.

Emma turned 3. She has discovered Barney so Gma got her 2 Barney videos. She also noticed, for the first time, that we have a Barney beach towel (was Dalton's ~ 12 years ago!). It's hers now. She's the most singy of all the kiddos, so we belt out the ole "I love you, You love me" song at the top of our lungs, and we don't care how much eye rolling occurs ~ secretly, we know they are singing too. :D

Inspired by Paul, I begged, pleaded, asked to have one so Jerry built this trellis system for the yellow squash, butternut squash and loofah. He used scrap lumber and also t-posts for anchors. I've got to tie the string on, and it's good to go. I have to decide if I'm going to want more for the cucumbers and tomatoes. How does one stake 75 tomato plants while on a limited budget?! Suggestions, please!

I can not stop taking pictures of the chix. They make it easy by hurtling towards me where ever I am. LOL That never gets old!!

Speaking of chicks, I have been letting the meat birds free range outside in the afternoons. What does this shot look like to you?! A daisy? Yeah, me too. One week to go til butcher date.

I should do updates to the challenges, but I don't feel like it. LOL So much is going on right now in the garden - doubling it has been a bit of a pain. Grass turf is a bugger to get thru. The ground underneath hasn't seen the light of day for 35+ years (back when it was farmland/tilled fields.) So, we are transplanting the turf, double digging, adding compost to holes, mulching between plants and looking forward to this fall when we can plow it all under.

  • Blackberry and blueberry bushes arrived, yet to be planted.
  • Lettuce is slow coming up, so are radishes.
  • Peas are a total loss thanks to the chickens for scratching them up, twice.
  • Rhubarb should be harvested.
  • We got asparagus in small spurts, never enough all at once, but I planted 10 more.
  • Planted another peach tree ~ Elberta.
  • Jerry & I shared the first strawberry of the season.
Cole, Braden & Dalton
The boys had a Father/Son fishing trip this past weekend. While they were gone, the girls painted nails, went shopping for coloring books & stickers and had a sleep over in mom's bed.

We have an entire week of balmy, breezy spring-time-in-Kansas weather forecasted (which translates to highs of 80, lows of 60, winds 10-25 mph and low humidity.) Paradise on the prairie!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adopt a Soldier

Do you remember the movie Pay It Forward? The premise was to do a good deed for someone and they will pay it forward, creating a ripple effect and the good deeds would just keep on being done.

I love that idea. I'm always on the lookout for a way to 'pay it forward'.

A website was sent to me recently that has a daily good deed report. Check it out. Every month, they tackle a new project.
Reading their site led me to Wish Upon a Hero. Of course, it's been televised several times, but *ahem* I don't watch much tv so I missed it. Anyway, the premise there is you can be a wish grantor or wishee. So many of the wishes are for card showers ~ for a great grandma celebrating a milestone birthday or a recent graduate who has no family or for a child that needs a pick me up. Yes, this I can do! I signed up and have been having a blast sending out cards. (Although the website is painfully slow ~ not complaining, just saying.)

Of course, that website led to me the best one yet Adopt A Soldier. I signed up a few days ago and today I got an email with my soldier's info. That was FAST!!

My soldier is a 39 year old gal from California. Now, when I think of Soldier, I think of my nephew - young, 20-something, single guy. I don't think of someone who is my age!! I didn't get much info so I don't know if she's a wife or a mom. All her request said is that she'd like some personal care items. She misses being in familiar places (home!) and whatever she gets (cards, letters or packages) she will share with the other soldiers there.

That made me tear up. She's a gal after my own heart!!!

I know that with summer upon us, this will be a fun project for our family to work on together. Gathering little items and making cards, letters and pictures to send to Colette.

So, won't you take a minute and go be a hero?! Let's pay this one forward!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

72 Eggs, Scrambled

What do you do when your hens are producing 10 eggs a day? You find recipes that use up lots of eggs! We decided to make breakfast burritos.


6 dozen eggs, scrambled
3 pounds sausage, browned
Green Peppers
Cheese (we used 1/2 slice of American cheese but shredded works too.)
Aluminum Foil

Next time, I'll know to not try to cook all the sausage and eggs all at once. Or, I need to find commercial sized pans and stove to cook on!
The kids can easily pop 1 in the microwave for a minute ~ 2 for 1.5 minutes. We like ours with salsa and sour cream. Our recipe made 80+ burritos. Had we had more tortillas, we'd have come close to 100 burritos. But, we decided to make breakfast bowls out of the leftovers. Delish! Next time, we may add shredded potatoes or more veggies.
Next up, Egg Noodles (frozen & dehydrated) & Batches of French Toast for the Freezer
If you find yourself with a lot of eggs, try some of these links to recipes using a lot of eggs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indeterminate or Determinate?

Can't wait to pick something!

I am so impatient to plant the rest of my garden that I decided to toss 10 tomato plants in the ground last night. If they don't make it due to this chilly, wet weather, well, I've got hundreds more. At least I feel a little more productive right now.

When I started them from seed, I just wrote the name of tomato on each stake and failed to include any info. It's important to me to have determinate & indeterminate tomatoes planted in specific places in the garden, more for the difference in staking than anything.

What's the difference? Well, Determinate will set fruit all at once and then they're done. So you can pull the plants out and do something else in that spot. Indeterminate will continue fruiting as long as there is favorable conditions (not too hot, not too cold.)

Rather than have to dig thru the seed packets, I turned to Wikipedia and found this table of Tomato Cultivars. It came in pretty handy.

On a side note, I'm glad I didn't plant last Thursday when all my neighbors did. We got hit with penny to nickel sized hail and they've all lost their tomatoes. I haven't had much luck with having tomatoes bounce back after being destroyed by hail. Other plants/vines come back, but not the tomatoes. Now, they're all in a scramble trying to find more. I have plenty to share of certain varieties, thankfully.

When I plant my tomatoes, I put about 1 tablespoon of Epson Salts in the bottom of the hole (our soil test shows we're on the low side for Magnesium). Add a little compost, then set the plant. I actual bury my tomatoes up to their uppermost leaves. A past neighbor of ours actually laid his in the ground horizontal and gently bent the leave up above ground. Either way, it seems to help the plant set out additional roots. More roots = more stability in these winds.

I am listening to the thunder as I type this, thankful that my collector hubby has a large supply of milk crates. All the maters have their milk crate armor on ~ hopefully this will ward off any hail/dogs/chickens/kids. LOL What we gardeners go thru, huh?!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Someone Special

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! I did. Above is a lovely card made by Cole. Inside, he shared several sweet sentiments and the back was so cute too.

It shows a chicken eating a worm and it's from his line of "Hungry Chicken" cards. LOL

Every Mother's Day (and Christmas too) someone very special has helped in choosing my gifts. She is a creative, kind and compassionate lady. My children enjoy spending time with her and talk about her almost as if she's a dear auntie. But, she isn't a relative. She's the art teacher at school. Mrs. H has a knack for leading the kids in art that allows them to be creative but the art is useful. I mean, who else could have the kids make a ceramic bird feeder (complete with drainage holes!) for Mom's Day?! Every year, I look forward to receiving more goodies that she had a hand in. My dear hubby isn't much of a shopper and really, doesn't do gift giving. That's a whole 'nother post, but suffice to say, it's taken me a lot of years to be okay with not getting gifts from him. Yes, I know gifts don't equate love, but that's not how I was raised and it took a lot for me to overcome the disappointment of not getting store-bought gifts. The artsy, homemade gifts that I LOVE and CHERISH come about thanks to Mrs. H. So, Mrs. H, when I'm 85 and still admiring these lovely gifts, I will be thinking of you and praising your goodness!!

Aubrey and I attended our first ever Mother ~ Daughter Tea. It was so nice! Muffins with Mom Day complete with songs by the Kindergartners. She painted the darling heart shaped dishes (thanks again Mrs. H). They remind me of friendship charms - one for me and one for her and when we look at our hearts, we think of each other. I have some fun little things planned to use these. Oh, and the tea pot has a poem that slides out and a tea bag ~ so we're going to have a tea party the next boy-free weekend we get. (Thanks to Boy Scouts!)

The gifts just keep coming! Someone else at school had the great idea to sell these little plants in coffee mugs for $1. And, Jerry got me the pink flowers. Plus, he made me a wonderful french toast w/ sausage breakfast to eat in BED with a newspaper and birds chirping outside my window. Who could ask for anything more?!
The afternoon was spent with Phelan and family. Cole got to ride solo and the girls got to ride with Phelan. And hold tiny kittens. And eat delicious, fresh-from-the-oven bread. And play with the not-so-tiny goats. And see Courage up close (she is a beauty!). And talk about plans for beef cows. And hang out with friends. And so much more. A very nice afternoon in deed. Even with the cold, windy day. The bonfire was excellent. I don't think I've ever had a bonfire on Mother's Day before. Seeing my kids so happy is truly a fabulous gift. Spending time with people I admire and appreciate is just the icing on the cake.
On the way home, I saw several Cardinals. They remind me of my Texas Grandma. Whenever I see them, I know it's her way of sending me love. I love you too, Grandma.

Oldest son and about 90 kids from his school, spent Friday night sleeping in boxes & Saturday raising money for a homeless shelter here in town. They got a surprise donation of a $200 check from one gentleman. I have no idea who it was, but Sir, you ROCK! You were the talk of the day! The kids had a good time, learned about a very real need in our community and discovered that 40% of the homeless are under 18. It's events like these that get them to see the world out there is really in their own backyard.
We had a great weekend ~ hope you did too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco De Mayo

Thanks to my web friends for providing recipes for tonight's feast. We are not Mexican ~ although I was an exchange student to Mexico City in high school ~ and after touring that beautiful country, I often times wish I still lived there. Let's not debate that remark - just know that there are some incredibly beautiful places, free of signs, telephone poles, wires & consumerism etc that I fell in love with. Plus, it's warm & sunny. Unlike here, where it's chilly and cloudy and I'd swear it was October.

Anyway, on with the link love:

My frugal resolve caused me to buy a large bag of pinto beans for $1.59 instead of the can of fat free beans for $.65. I used a fabulous recipe from a Year of Crock Potting and next time, I'll definitely double it so we can have beans in the freezer.

J&J have a really good tortilla recipe and tortilla chips too!

Plus I made some taco seasoned ** hamburger and we are cracking open the very last jar of salsa made with last summer's produce. *SOB* It seems like fresh tomatoes are so far off in the distance.

We'll pull out the fabulous blanket (pictured above) that I brought back from Mexico and have a little carpet picnic. Ole!
**I do think that he meant to put 1/2 tsp on the cumin - as much as I love it, 12 tsps would've been a bit much. LOL

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mending A Sheet

Last summer, our fitted sheet ripped - from top to bottom. Normally, I'd run out and buy a new set of sheets and I did ~ flannel sheets. They came in sooo handy during the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge and $15 for a set of king-size flannels seemed to be a good bargain. Now that spring is here, flannel sheets are getting a little too toasty. So, what to do with the ripped sheet?

I could go out and buy a new set ~ but that would invalidate my No Buying New rule. (I did look at the few garage sales I visited last week, but no one had king size sheets.) I didn't want to waste the gas to run to thrift stores and I haven't noticed sheets in them before anyway.

Instead, I opted to mend the sheet. Problem is, I wasn't sure how! I looked at a few sewing options ~ most suggestions were to zig zag stitch it several times. This would be a great if my zig zag stitch was working.

I looked into no-sew options and found that I could use fusible interfacing to cover the rip on both sides. I didn't have any in my meager sewing stash and I asked around my circle of friends - but no one had any either. I had to break down and spend $1.06 for half a yard. It was plenty.

I cut the interfacing into strips. I ironed the sheet, put the interfacing down and ironed it. I did both sides.

Funny, but now it looks like we have the "stripe down the middle" ~ you know ~ like kids that share bedrooms do so each person has to stay on their side of the room.

I got the bed made and also decided to switch out the down comforter to the lighter, summer weight one. Guess what I found?! Yeah, the old set of sheets. The ones I replaced 2 years ago because we'd had them for 5 years and I was tired of the pattern. Sigh. Sometimes my "organization" makes me crazy. If the iron on patch doesn't hold, I now have a free back up plan.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Potato Admiration

I was reading ATW's post about how he and his wife are having an herb contest and I can so relate! My husband and I disagree on just about everything (when they say opposties attract, we took it to the EXTREME). Usually with us, the person with more experience gets his/her way... not so with the garden.

Take the above photo. It is of my good neighbor's potato patch. See how close the rows are? See how close the plants are? SIGH. THAT's how I wanted MY potatoes to be planted. Why? Well, it works for my neighbor and it's space saving.

This photo is of 1/2 of our potato area. See all the missing holes? Complete missing rows ~ okay you don't know what's missing, but I do! I told my husband that we should plant like good neighbor, but noooooooo... we have to do it well spaced out. So, now? Now we get to double the size of our garden because we're out of room. (And, if you're wondering why I didn't plant the potatoes myself, well, we were working "together" that day and I let him have his way.)
It's somewhat hard to see, but Jerry is scalping the lawn about 15 feet out from the current garden. This will give us roughly 35' x 75' plus several raised beds that are in another part of the yard. I had wanted to enlarge it last fall, but it didn't happen - we were debating the merits of enlarging it... suffice to say, he came to my conclusion. *ahem*

Since you're here touring, let me show you what's growing...

See all the greenery in the rows between the raised beds? Can you guess what they are? If you said potatoes, you are the Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! (what does that mean, anyway? lol) When you don't harvest 100%, the ones left in the ground will grow the next spring. So, we have about 25 bonus plants growing in all kinds of odd places. If they survive the traffic patterns, we'll harvest them too.

Raspberry bushes are looking quite flush. Only 1 failed to sprout so back it goes for an exchange.

Broiler chickens are huddled together in the revised chicken tractor. It's chilly and drizzly today, but they are fully feathered so should be okay. At night, their tractor is covered and stays very warm. I only wish we knew how old they were - we bought them from Atwoods & all they could tell us was they were between 1 - 4 weeks old. So, they are now somewhere between 5 -8 weeks. We plan to butcher around Memorial Day weekend.

Strawberry beds are not as assalted with the poultry netting on, but the Chickens still get in and create havoc. We'll be ordering the electric poultry fencing. We'll either put it around the garden to keep the girls out or create a run to keep them in. It's being debated. :D
Speaking of keeping things out, I don't know if I shared a photo of the rhubarb rescue Jerry built. It has worked great at keeping the horses from eating the stalks to the ground. They keep trying, but they can't quite reach the edge to pull it over. Ha ha ha ~ foiled you!