Not Back to School

You may have heard here that my children do not attend school. At least not all day, every day. One of my daughters plays violin in a strings class during the week at the public school. Public school starts tomorrow. So strings class starts tomorrow. For us, for now, that will be it. It is still summer here. Some of the best weather days are in September. Low humidity, and sunny days are perfect for camping, bike riding and hiking. Maybe we will even get another camping trip or two in.

My girls are always learning. We don’t have to sit at the dining room table and open books and have a lesson for them to learn. In all this great weather before winter settles in we have so many opportunities to learn biology, zoology, botany, and meteorology just to name a few.

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Imaginations will still be allowed to run. Houses and forts will be rebuilt and managed. ‘Businesses’ will be ventured. The cold and snowy weather of winter will be the time to come in to read, do projects together and settle into a routine of sorts.

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So the feet will stay bare (and dirty), the beach-combing will continue. As always the learning, investigating, illumination, and ‘education’ will continue as well.

 

 

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Monday’s Menu

Whew! what a weekend. One son came on Thursday night and stayed until Sunday night. The other two sons arrived Sunday morning and stayed all day. We had a really nice time together. There was a little work on the wood, we got it all split. We sat around talking a lot. Laughed a lot. We had a tasty lobster and steamers meal together.

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A giant truckload of tree length logs got turned into cut up logs.

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With the help of a gas powered splitter and two strong people the logs turn into a pile of split wood.

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Which then gets stacked.

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What a stack! You can’t tell by the photo but there is still a lot more to stack. It will get done. Before winter.

By night fall we were all tired. I served pie and vanilla ice cream. I made a four berry pie (strawberry, blueberry, raspberries, and blackberries) with a lattice top crust. It was so good. All but one piece got eaten up.

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Here is this week’s menu!

Monday: Chef’s salad

Tuesday: Pork chops, summer squash & zucchini sauted

Wednesday: Angel hair pasta with tomato sauce

Thursday: Teriyaki Chicken on grill, brown rice and broccoli

Friday: Steak on grill, sweet potatoes, salad

Saturday: Bean, rice, tomato quesadillas

Sunday: Camping

 

 

 

Making Lists and Checking Them Twice

All my sons are coming home this weekend. We are planning to finish the wood splitting and stacking. After all the work we will have a nice Lobster Bake. I am making lists of what and when things need to be done. I am very excited. We do not get a chance to be all together very often, at least not as often as I would like.

I hope your weekend has some fun plans too!

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Looks like fun, right?

 

Saying Goodbye to the Girls

For almost twenty years I have raised chickens. Mostly for eggs but also for meat. The sixteen chickens I have now are getting old. The youngest are two years old and the oldest are around five. They are not laying that well. I get on average about five eggs a day. That is terrible for having sixteen chickens. Rather than feed them through the winter I am going to donate them to a farm that will process them for food.

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This is Princess. One of the oldest. Yes we named them. Well, my daughters named them. Princess has been a good chicken. She is showing her age. Not laying at all now. This year she went broody and we waited, and waited, and waited for the 21 days to come, and she ate her eggs. It was sad. I would have loved to see little chicks.

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Princess again.

We introduced two roosters this year. We have had other roosters in the past as well, but we have had plenty of years where there are no roosters. As you know, chickens will lay eggs without a male.

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This is Prince. He is the more dominant one. He does a very good job keeping the girls happy and safe.

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This is Greg. I like him better. Much quieter. Much more docile.

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This is Emy. Probably the most favored. She is very tame. She will come to the girls. Loves to be picked up and can be hand fed. She will be missed.

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This is Granny. She is slow, old, and doesn’t lay anymore. She has actually never really been active. She sits a lot of the time. Doesn’t really range around or find food. I am actually surprised she is still alive.

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It is fun to raise chickens. I will probably do it again. I just think we need to start over with a new flock. Maybe take a break through the winter, or longer.

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I actually have to have chickens again. My husband made this super duper chicken run five years ago. It has worked beautifully to keep out the critters.

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Maybe while I have no chickens to take care of I will get around to quilting this little wall hanging. I have 22 chicken collectibles in my kitchen. I call it my chicken kitchen. Say that ten times!

We will miss our little ladies, and their eggs but sadly it is time to say goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refrigerator Pickles

I do not have many cucumbers this year. It has been very dry. I have watered my garden often but it just doesn’t compare to a good soaking rain. The cucumbers I have had are small. I got a bag full of cukes from my son who is a farmer. Lucky me! I made refrigerator pickles the other day. They are the Claussen type. Salty, crisp and so tasty.

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You start by cleaning the cucumbers. Cut off about an inch off the ends. This helps keep them crisp. Then cut in quarters. Some of the shorter cukes I cut in slices. It doesn’t really matter what the shapes are.

I used a combination of ‘Claussen’ style pickle recipes that are out there on the web. I kept the cut up cukes in a bowl of cold water.

Fill quart sized jars (that have been sterilized) with a clove of garlic, onion slices, a dill flower, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, some mustard seeds, and some allspice seeds.

Heat to boiling 1 1/2 quarts of water, 2 cups of white vinegar, and 1/3 cup of canning salt. (Not regular salt)

When boiling, pour the liquid into the jars to about a half inch from top. Screw on clean tops and rings. Now place on your counter for four days turning the jars over every day. After the fourth day put them in the refrigerator and they are ready to eat! They can be stored for 3 months. If they last that long.

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Enjoy your day!

Monday’s Menu – Vegetable Tian

Hello again! It is Monday and time for a recipe and the menu for the week. We are getting a nice soaking rain out there. I can count on one hand how many times it has rained this summer. I am feeling pretty thankful and so is my garden.

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I love to make Vegetable Tian at the end of the summer. All the veggies in it are from my garden or straight from someone else’s. I don’t often grow potatoes because I don’t have the room yet. I have lots and lots of trees that could come down to make another garden spot but well you know, priorities and other things that need to be done prevent that from happening. Maybe next year!

Anyway, Vegetable Tian is so easy to make and so fresh and delicious. Here is how I do it.

1 good sized onion

Olive oil

2 tomatoes (the Roma’s are best but you can use any)

Zucchini and Summer Squash

1 or 2 potatoes

1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan or Romano cheese shredded

Garlic powder, salt, pepper, and basil (I use fresh)

Chop the onion and saute with olive oil. Transfer to a oven safe container that is no more than 3 inches high.

Slice the remaining veggies into rounds about 1/4 inch thick

Line the baking pan with the veggies. Feel free to make designs. Just make sure the tomatoes are not all together.

Sprinkle with cheese, herbs and salt and pepper. Cover with foil or the cover of container if it has one.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then uncover and broil for 5 or 7 minutes until cheese is bubbly. This is a great dish to serve with a main dish or use it as the main dish!

Here is the menu for the week.

Monday: Spaghetti with tomatoes, garlic, onion and shrimp (and butter. Lots of butter)

Tuesday: Chicken pieces with Vegetable Tian

Wednesday: Trout in foil on the grill with brown rice and green beans

Thursday: Taco night

Friday: Pork roast cooked in dutch oven with potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and chard. 

Saturday: Baked Ziti with hamburger and veggies

Sunday: Family BBQ and Lobster bake (after the wood is stacked) coleslaw, deviled eggs, lobster, clams, chips and home made three berry pie.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

Home Made Ironing Board

I moved my sewing room to the daylight basement that isn’t really being used for anyone or anything. I have a big table in the middle of the floor for sewing and cutting and I used a desk for ironing. I use an ironing board to iron clothes, mostly my husband’s for his job. His clothes and the ironing board are upstairs in our bedroom. I didn’t want to take all his clothes down stairs to my sewing room and iron and I didn’t want to keep moving the ironing board every time I needed it so I decided to make a small board for my sewing and quilting. Luckily I already had an extra iron for travel.

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It is just the right size for all those quilt block pieces. I am quite happy with my new sewing space, although I really have not had time to go down there and sew! Soon though, I can feel it.

I like to search blogs for new ideas and I stumbled on this blog. The board looked very easy to make so I decided to give it a try.

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Not many materials needed. A piece of plywood or thin wood cut to your specifications, a staple gun, scissors, pretty fabric for the top and some batting. (I actually used an old mattress pad I had saved)

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Lay the plywood onto the batting and cut it about two inches wider on each side. Then cut your pretty fabric about the same. Maybe a bit bigger.

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Then pull up the sides and staple. You may need to tap in the staple with a hammer (I used a rock because it was handy). Then you may need to trim a bit of fabric and batting from the corners so you don’t have too much bulk.

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Fold each corner and staple. Staple guns are amazing. They are so powerful! Add a few extra staples in spots that look loose.

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Turn it over and you have your very own, custom made, beautiful, ironing board!

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Now go sew and iron something!

 

 

Monday’s Menu – Dilly Beans!

 

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Good Monday Morning! I can’t tell where you may be reading this from but from where I sit it is sticky, hot, and what I call ugly weather. I am trying to be patient while waiting for the cool, crisp, beautiful days of fall. I am not a person that loves summer. I don’t feel as though I can do anything when it is so hot and humid.

My meals this past week were simple and easy for the kind of weather we are having. The weather man said last Wednesday would be cool, but it was not. The humidity came in sooner than they expected so we did not have chicken enchiladas. We had BLT’s with lettuce and tomato from the garden. And home made bread that I was able to make on Monday when it was cooler.

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Monday my daughters and I baked and canned. It was a lovely fresh, breezy, summer day. We made muffins, bread, cookies and we canned dilly beans. Very accomplished. Later in the week I did nothing but sit in front of water trying to stay cool.

Dilly beans are one of the easiest things to process. I use the recipe out of the Ball canning book. I also use my go to site for canning. I have been visiting this site for years. It is the Pick Your Own  site.

First I pick the beans. I use yellow and green. Then I cut the tips off. With hot jars, I place a garlic clove, a dill flower, and a bit of cayenne powder in each jar.

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Place the beans inside the jars. I stack them in like my friend taught me but I think you can put them in any way you want so far as they are packed in. Then carefully pour the vinegar salt mixture into the jars, place the caps and can for 20 minutes. This is a simple version. You should read the recipe in the Ball book. If you have never canned before you will need to know about sterilizing and safe canning tips.

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We took a jar to the lake last week and ate it up in less than 10 minutes! We just couldn’t stop!

This week there are just three of us eating. My oldest daughter is at camp for the whole week. I asked the younger one for meal ideas and she gave quite a few. This explains the pasta, and dough theme. Her favorites. Mine too.

So here is this week’s menu.

Monday: Pizza on the grill 

Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday: Baked Ziti (leftover in the freezer, just enough for three!)

Thursday: Chicken on the grill with rice and beets

Friday: Pancakes with berries

Saturday: Porkchops with garden orzo

Sunday: Shrimp and rice with tomatoes and cucumbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Garden – Part One

It has been too long since I wrote about my garden. Things are really happening out there now! I have begun to process the overflow of veggies now. I don’t think this is my best garden ever but it is producing and thriving. It has been so so dry here this year. Even with watering it just isn’t enough and doesn’t compare to a good soaking rain.

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We harvested all the garlic, and put it in the woodshed on a screen to dry out. This year the bulbs were very large. I am quite happy with the garlic this year. Maybe they like it dry!

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The tomatoes are doing well. They could be a little more prolific, but I really shouldn’t complain because so far (crossed fingers and say a little prayer) there is no sign of blight and no horn worms. I am not sure there will be much in the way of canning salsa or sauce though, but we will see. There is still quite a bit of warm weather left in the season.

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The peppers are a huge disappointment. The plants are small, and have at the most one pepper on them. I am not sure what the problem is or was but I don’t expect they will do any better. I have tried picking the small ones off so that more will grow. Some of the plants do have more flowers on them but really the plants themselves are so small I don’t know how they will hold the fruit. I may end up buying peppers from the farmers market this year if the tomatoes do come through, so we can have our salsa and sauce.

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String beans are doing pretty well. We have eaten quite a few, and I froze a few batches as well. Last week I even made dilly beans. So yummy! I have another 6 rows of beans that are not producing yet because I planted them in July, but I am hoping for another batch so I can make more dilly beans and freeze a bit more. I thought I was getting too many beans but suddenly it seems my plants have stopped putting out more flowers. Good thing I planted more!

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All things watery, the summer squash, cukes, and watermelon are trying so hard to survive. They are growing and I have harvested some but it is slow going. I have had better years for these plants for sure. Again, the season still has some time so I am hoping we get a little more. I hope the watermelon keep growing and sweetening up. I have really tried watering these plants more than the others.

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We still have peas coming. They are small but the girls still love to go out and snack on them. I planted too many and wish I would have used a couple of the fences for more cucumbers. The kale, dill, basil, and asparagus are all doing well too. Stay tuned for part two of the garden when I talk about my successive plantings and my fall crops.

Happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

Yes and No

As with all things we do there are projects that we love and when we finish we say ‘Yes!’ and then there are those that we look at and try really hard to say yes but in the end deep down we know it is a big ‘No!’. Recently I finished two projects. We were travelling to Canada as a family and I didn’t have to drive at all. So there was lots and lots of knitting time!

The first finish is a Yes. These furry little things are made from 100% angora yarn. I love squishing them. They are for my son’s friend. This will be her first baby. I don’t have any grandchildren yet and I was so excited to be able to knit up these booties. I may knit a hat too.

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The project that I am rejecting is a shawl that I have been working on for a couple of months. I don’t like the size, it is just too small. I even used a bigger needle than they called for. I also don’t like how the lace looks. Maybe it is the texture of the yarn but the lace hardly shows up. Maybe blocking would change that but I don’t think blocking will change the size that much. It barely curls around my shoulders. I want a shawl that will warm me on those cold winter nights.

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I don’t know yet what I will use the yarn for. Maybe a nice hat for all this curly hair. I don’t normally wear hats because of my hair but I do want to wear a hat in the winter. I guess I will have to look for a hat pattern that is just for wild out of control hair.

Happy Knitting!