Oh, My Golly!

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Don’t you hate hearing people say “I’ve been sooo busy!” ? I do, but I find myself saying it. I’ve read articles on how to not be so busy or at least to think about the busyness in a different way.  Like finding joy along the way. Like how we saw a beautiful rainbow on our way to orchestra class last Friday. My busy times have been good ones so it isn’t a negative thing. I do regret not really having time to sit and blog. ‘They’ say it’s all about making the time. So, hear I go!

I finally stopped itching! We are still having summer here in Maine so at least I get to enjoy some of it! I was out in the garden yesterday. I thinned beets while my daughter harvested zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and a few small cukes. The garden is still producing and it is middle of September! I am thinking of ordering some chicks. They would be laying by Spring. The only thing stopping me is my inability to make a decision. I am worried it will be too cold. The chicken FB site says it will be fine. I really should just do it. I have a beautiful, large and safe coop that has gone unused for a year. It is time.

I have been knitting, and sewing. I made a dress ( A Washi ) and I have been doing some alterations for a friend. I am knitting a shawlette for a wedding I may be going to. (I say may because I still have not settled childcare for the girls yet) I am also working on socks. I am finding my groove again. Even making up menus and baking bread again. Routines work so well for me.

Speaking of routines we have a brand new one this year. My oldest daughter is going to school. Eighth grade! I am at home with just one child. That hasn’t happened since 1991! My youngest daughter and I have started Bullet Journals together. So far it is very fun. We are taking our ‘school’ year pretty slow. Planning what we want to do. I know it will have sewing and art. Yes, a little math too. We even put in a rest and relaxation (knitting) time in our schedule. That I love.

I missed the boat in blogging about all our camping trips, the girls’ camps, and some landscaping project that we have been working on all summer. I am looking forward to my 50th birthday! Wow, Oh my Golly, 50! I can’t decide what I want to do. I am torn between going away by myself for some quiet and pampering or a get together with our family here at home. Maybe I will have to do both!

I hope you all are in your fall groove. It feels good!

 

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Daytrippers

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At this point in time I can honestly say this has been the best summer weather wise that I can ever remember. We have had a nice mixture of sun, rain, a little heat, and nice cool breezy nights. Perfection. This morning I read that we are going to get some hazy, hot, and humid weather this week. I will try and remember that the summer has been glorious so far.

We biked on Swan Island here in Maine. It was beautiful and quiet. We took a ferry out to it with our bikes and a picnic. The total distance was 9 miles. I felt it towards the end. I was very glad I did it though. Endorphins were coursing through my body! The girls did a good job too. We did rest along the way and took in the sites. At the tip of the island we had a picnic. It overlooked the river. Another day we took a trip to Sebago Lake. We have not camped yet this year. We are daytrippers!

We picked strawberries twice and froze a bunch. I also made 11 pints of strawberry jam! I gave a few away but most will go in the pantry. I also cut and froze some garlic scapes. The garden is starting to produce. We have eaten lots of lettuce, and snow peas. I see a little head of broccoli in there and some tiny squash. I even have a pepper and the tomatoes are getting bigger too. Slow start to gardening this year but it is coming along. This week I need to plant some fall beets, and maybe some more greens. Probably after this week of heat.

I finally got around to seasoning my new wok. We had a colorful stir fry the other day. I cooked it on the side burner outside. I have electric stove tops inside and I thought the gas would be better with the wok. The veggies kept their color and were still a little crisp just the way I like them.

I moved a little table we had outside to the back deck. Not sure why I never thought to do it before. It is perfect for a cup of tea and my knitting or my notebook for planning. I have been spending mornings out there listening to the birds and watching the sun get higher in the sky. I can keep an eye on the deer that are trying to eat my raspberries too. I am working on a sock as you can see. I used double points for the very top and for the heel and gusset and am trying out a size 9 circular for the leg and foot. So far so good.

I hope you are having a lovely summer wherever you are!

Just Time

We didn’t do any big celebration for Summer Solstice this year. It was in the middle of the week. Dad had to work the next day. It has been really wet. Too wet to try and light a fire. It is fine though, we have lots of things planned for the summer. We also have lots of un-planned time as well. I think that is what summer is for! Each girl has a week of camp. We ‘sort’ of have a camping trip planned for some time this summer in the eastern part of the state.  There will be a 4th of July party. I have a loose plan to take the girls to an island, on a ferry, with bikes. We have plans to visit all the boys at some point too. But for the most part it will be a free, uncluttered calendar, kind of summer. I am very happy about that.

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There has been time. Just that. Time. In this first full week without lessons, or plans, or driving, there has been time for sitting, knitting, baking, and playing. It is amazing to watch how the girls transform back into their playful, relaxed, and thoughtful selves. I sometimes wonder if it would be boring to always have so much time. It wouldn’t for me but I wonder about the girls. For now though I know they are enjoying all this unstructured time.

I made myself an apron. With a friend, we each made one. It is a wrap around apron and I absolutely love it. It is so comfortable. It has two deep pockets. I can easily wear it all day if I needed to. No ties around the waist. I can’t say enough about it. I made the first pie of the season. Yes, the season, in my opinion, starts now. It is now that all the fresh fruits start to ripen. This pie is a Strawberry-Rhubarb. Both in season right now. My daughter decorated the pie for Father’s day. We both talked about doing a year of pies. This being the first we wondered what July would be. Blueberry? We are working on what each pie would be. Twelve Pies! Can you imagine? Stay tuned.

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There was an afternoon when we sat outside being silly. My daughter taught my how to take a selfie. It isn’t as easy as you would think. It must come naturally for her at her young age of thirteen. After too many shots to count we did get one, maybe two, that were acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. Yes, I am still wearing the apron.

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The moths are stuck to the screens in the morning. That is always fun to play with them and identify them. I have started the sleeves on my angora sweater. It has a Moorish Lattice on the yoke. This sweater is the softest thing. I wish you could feel it. I tried to do the sleeves two at a time with a magic loop. I learned the technique and felt comfortable with it but my yarn is so fine and stretchy that where the loops were being pulled the sweater was getting stretched and holey. So I switched to a 16 inch circular and it looks much better. I am glad I learned magic loop though!

Today it is rainy. The girls are playing with a castle that one of them made out of foam board. She made it in two days. It is huge. This is what passing the time is all about. I am looking forward to more of it.

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far.

 

 

Nesting

As it is Spring, I have felt the urge to clean, organize, tidy up, and beautify. Many times this hits me in September. It may again. I guess it makes sense, every 6 months or so I need to restart.

I ‘Spring’ cleaned the house. It took me four days. I was battling some kind of virus but that wasn’t going to stop me. It was time. I don’t think I have cleaned the house this well in a few years. I still have to do the outside windows but that will wait until it is a bit nicer out. For now though, the curtains, floors, walls, cabinets, and inside windows got a good cleaning.

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When I say beautifying I mean switching things around, putting out new candles and changing where the plants go. I went outside and found some early blooming flowers and trees to bring in. Every year I fill little vases with small bits of flowers from outside. I love seeing them at the kitchen window. There isn’t that much color outside right now but when I see it at my window it tricks my mind into thinking that flowers are blooming everywhere.

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Dean brought out the table and chairs for the deck. I put out a vase of Forsythia that is just about ready to bloom. It really is quite inviting of a space now. I think we may eat our lunch out there today. Spring really has arrived here in Maine now. I have been in that nesting mood even though there are no babies on the way!

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The girls and I planted some flowers and broccoli last week and many of them are up and thriving. It is time to start the battle of the broccoli! I have a history with broccoli. I will not quit trying to grow it by seed. We eat a lot of broccoli and my dream is to grow enough to freeze it like I do green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. I will succeed!

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I harvested my first batch of spinach last week. I topped pizza with it, put it in a salad, and added it to smoothies. More to come this week. Gardening season has officially started here. I may even plant some peas soon.

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This blog can’t have enough pictures of pizza! One of my favorite foods. I have a lot of favorite foods. By the looks of the pizza I also like cheese.

I feel quite energized right now. Probably because of the warmer weather, I am over my cold, and I have a very clean, beautiful house. Seize the day!

 

 

 

Inside

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It has been very cold lately and it snowed here all day. It is beautiful and I am so happy to have snow on the ground. I hope to go snowshoeing tomorrow and take some pictures of all the white. But today we have been staying inside where it is cozy and warm.

I am happy about getting this blog settled in its new place. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I can’t say I enjoyed talking to the lady at Hostgator. She was very rude and actually laughed at me. I did have a lot of questions, but I have been paying them all year and I guess I figured I deserved to be given some time. I guess she didn’t think that way. Glad I am done with them.  So far, things have been easy and working with WordPress.com is very clean and understandable.

I made Brussel sprouts the other night. They came out so good. I used to eat them as a child and hated them. They would be frozen or come out of a can. Eww! Then I decided to serve them fresh to my family and would roast them with salt and pepper and olive oil. The family ate them but I never got a great response. Then I cooked them in a crock with the lid on and generously salted and peppered them. Sprinkled a bit of oil and baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. My family raved over them. They love them that way. I asked what was wrong with the other kind and they said that roasting them made some of the skins hard. I love it when they are honest with me. Constructive criticism is a good thing.

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Before Thanksgiving I made some lard. I explain how to render lard here. I used small mason jars rather than large ones. I found out the hard way the lard is very hard to get to when it is deep in a jar. The jars I used this time are 16 oz jars and that is exactly what I need for my pie recipe.

Here is my weekly menu. Hope it helps you decide what to make. I always love different ideas. I would love to hear your ideas!

Monday:  Honey Garlic Chicken with thai veggies and rice

Tuesday: Squash soup and crackers or bread

Wednesday: Homemade mac and cheese with side of broccoli

Thursday: Taco night

Friday:  Potluck in afternoon, leftovers at night

Saturday: Chuck roast with homemade cream of mushroom soup and mashed potatoes and carrots

Sunday: Chicken Soup and crusty bread

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Before December

So here we are, three weeks before the December and January holidays. Three weeks before I see all my boys again. It was a very fun, relaxing, loving visit with everyone. We didn’t go anywhere. We had one friend come over. A single man without family in the area. We ate well. Played Ticket to Ride and Dutch Blitz. There was singing and guitar playing. There was talking and discussing. There was some political/social talk that sneaked in but it was calm and cool. I am always educated when we all get together that is for sure.

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I requested a picture of all five of the kids for my New Year’s card. It got done on the morning everyone was leaving. Just in the nick of time. It took a while. It isn’t easy getting a good shot of five kids, even though three are adults. The sillies got started and then the tiffs and then finally we got a few good ones. I will share them after I go through them all. There are a lot.

For now, we are all cleaned up and back on track to finish our homeschool projects and then move right on to the gift making and decorating for the holiday season! I do have a menu to share!

Monday:  Pork chops, brussel sprouts and cubed yellow potatoes

Tuesday: Beef roast, red potatoes, and broccoli

Wednesday: Slow cooker beans and bread and veggie

Thursday: Oven baked chicken with brown rice and delicata squash

Friday:  Shaved veggies over pasta with teriyaki sauce

Saturday: Turkey Soup (of course!)and crusty bread

Sunday: Red curried vegetables with Jasmine rice

Have a nice week!

 

Little Disruptions

Sometimes I wish I was one of those people that could just stick to the plan no matter what. Sometimes. I know I am not that kind of person and usually it is a good thing. But sometimes I look back on my week and wish that I wouldn’t have let so many things get in the way of my plan or allow so many little disruptions to sway me. I actually don’t even like those types of people that never let anything get in their way. Maybe I feel they are a bit selfish. Well be that as it may I am feeling a bit behind on my normal routine. It isn’t laziness. It isn’t a lack of discipline. It is many little disruptions like a cold that slowed me down. It is the night out my husband and I had. It is the fact that the garlic needed to be planted. It is the car that needed to be inspected. It is the floor that is being redone. It is all these little things, and some big, that have shifted things for me.

I feel a little panicky about it right now because this is not the season to be losing control of ones schedule. The holiday’s are coming. Two birthdays are coming. I have gifts to make. I have food to bake.  I have an advent Calendar to put together. Parties to go to, and maybe plan. Oh dear can you feel the panic?

Deep breaths Vickie. It is only the beginning of November. Things will be okay. We are finishing up some of our homeschooling projects. A break will do us good. The garden is now finished. The floors will be done this weekend. You need to get a grip. Maybe start getting up earlier for a while. Write down things more often. You know, make those lists, check them twice. Meditate. Go on a long walk and clear your head.

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My daughter took this picture. It is what we see right outside our back yard. This helps calm me. I am hope you all are having a nice week.

Here is our menu for the week. (A day late)

Monday:  Hamburger tacos with tomato, avocado, onions, and cheese

Tuesday: Honey Mustard chicken, rice and broccoli

Wednesday: One Pot Lasagna

Thursday: Beans and dogs

Friday:  Pork chops, baked russets or sweet potatoes, and veggie

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Lentil Soup

Happy Halloween and This Week’s Menu

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Trick or Treat? It seems like Halloween, the ‘holiday’ gets longer and longer every year. We started celebrating on Saturday. With Halloween on a weeknight, a Monday no less, any parties needed to be planned for the weekend. And party we did. The girls and I, with a friend, went to a Halloween party and a dress up Contra dance. Tonight the girls are out with dad going house to house. Visiting with friends, knocking on doors, and going to a haunted house. I expect there will be some very tired girls tomorrow.

I am home with my son. He is playing music and I made a pie. My first apple pie of the season. I had a home made but frozen pie crust in the fridge so I decided to throw together a pie for the adults here that won’t have a big bag of candy.

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I dressed up this year. I usually don’t. Maybe it has something to do with having daughters. We did it together. Maybe it is because I am older now and don’t care what anyone thinks. What ever the reason, it was fun.

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I am the gypsy on the far right. Our friend is the squid.

Here is our menu for the week!

Monday:  Spaghetti and tomato sauce with salad

Tuesday: Pork Teriyaki with rice and brussel sprouts

Wednesday: Fried chicken, squash, and salad

Thursday: Vegetable Soup and rolls

Friday:  Noodles Romanoff and green beans

Saturday: Chili

Sunday: Whole chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots

Have a wonderful week!

Forcing Tomatoes to Ripen

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I realize the gardening season is pretty much over, at least here in the Northeast, so it might seem weird to be talking about tomatoes still. In the beginning of October I felt it was time to start finishing up with the plants that were not going to be covered up. It has been a warm fall (again) but I knew it wasn’t going to be warm forever and any day we could get warning of a frost and I didn’t want to be scrambling around outside in the dusk trying to pick all my sensitive vegetables.

Even though the tomatoes were not ripe yet I brought them in. Many of the tomatoes did ripen up. We made salsa, sauce, and froze some for future use. For some reason though, this year, many of the tomatoes did not ripen up. I had a lot of tomatoes. It was a very good year. It could have been the heat we had in September. I read that extreme heat can hinder the ripening of tomatoes. They like it between 75 and 80 degrees and the temps were up to 90 during some weeks in September.

I read on a gardening site that you could force ripen tomatoes. I was a bit skeptical. I was quite surprised though because it has worked wonderfully. So far I have only had to throw away 2 tomatoes. I had tons of tomatoes. To only loose 2 is amazing. They don’t ripen at the same time. That is very helpful. Halfway through I made a tomato soup. Enough to freeze! I am about ready to make some more or maybe another tomato sauce. Of course we have been eating them in salad and soups too.

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So this is what I did. Wrap each tomato individually in paper. Place them in a box. Add a few apples. Yes, apples. They emit a gas called ethylene and it makes fruit ripen. Cool, right! Anyway after you add the apples close the box and put in a warm, but not hot place. I kept my boxes right in my kitchen.

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See the difference already? This was after about four days. I took out the ripe tomatoes and put them on the counter. This minimizes rot.

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About a week and a half.

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I took this picture just a few days ago. I started out with four boxes and now I am down to one.

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And a huge bowl of nice ripe tomatoes is sitting on my counter. I guess that is another way to extend the season!

Now off to make some more soup!

 

 

 

 

Monday’s Menu – Picking Season

Hello, hope your weekend was wonderful. We spent most of our weekend walking around the Common Ground Fair here in Maine. As always it was fun. The girls made spoons and wet felted trivets. We saw friends, ate great food, saw animals and of course fiber!

My husband took the girls apple picking. Didn’t get anywhere near what we will need for processing but it is a start. I will go back and get more apples for sauce, dried rings, and pie! I got a bag of pears at the farmer’s market last week. They are so pretty, tasty and juicy.

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Here is this week’s menu:

Monday:  Shaved veggies and rice noodles

Tuesday: Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday: Beans and rice

Thursday: Pasta with shrimp and white sauce

Friday:  Pork Tenderloin

Saturday: Out

Sunday: Out

Have a great week!