Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wardrobe Wednesday- That Time Of Year Already?

I know some people love Fall. The leaves changing colors, the crisp air, pumpkins, apples. What's not to love right? How about the fact that Winter is on it's way? Cold, snowy, icy Winter. I don't love Winter, therefore Fall gets under my skin too.

For more Wardrobe Wednesday head on over to Heathen Family Revival.

Have you entered my giveaway yet? You have until Sunday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

RTT: Birthday Party

Well it's Tuesday and the best way to get everything out there is to pull out the Un Mom's Random Tuesday Thoughts badge and get to it.


Shall we?

First off, not sure why but my hair looks amazing this morning. Like once in a blue moon crawl out of bed and shine kind of hair. I usually have to brush it at least twice before even thinking about leaving the house and even still it has a mind of it's own. Well, not today. Too bad I don't have big plans today... like leaving the house.

Mae's Birthday parties were Saturday. Yeah, we decided on 2 parties instead of one giant chaotic mess and they were both a SUCCESS! We had the "friends" party in the afternoon with a few of Mae's friends from school. The girls played in the bouncy house we borrowed from a friend, they ran around finding clues during the scavenger hunt, made bead and pipe cleaner bracelets, and decorated cupcakes. The whole thing went so smoothly. A real thing of beauty when a plan comes together. The Gardener even got into the the party mood (it was his Birthday too after all) and made a bead bracelet for me. My brother-in-law made the 10 hour drive from his house in Minnesota just for Mae's party. Good thing too, because it was nice having an extra adult around to help with the parties. Those uncles sure come in handy once in a while!

The Family and Friends party started about an hour after all of the girls left which gave me enough time to clean up a cupcake's worth of crumbs off of the kitchen floor, have an adult beverage and prepare the food for dinner. After dinner we all went outside and the kids played in the bounce house, re-ran the scavenger hunt with a new crowd, and jumped in the straw.Most of all, the kids had a great time!

As visible in the party photos, the weather was beautiful. Saturday was forecast to be rainy and cool but the rain stayed away and it was even warm enough to shed our sweatshirts when the sun came out. Today and yesterday though have been a fall weather reality check. It rained almost all day yesterday and the wind blew and blew. Mae came down once last night scared from the blowing wind. We calmed her down and put her back to bed with an extra stuffed animal and turned on her radio to distract her from the howling wind. She then slept through the night without any more problems.

This morning the girls insisted on getting out their winter gear complete with hats, mittens, and scarves. It was a little chilly waiting for the bus but I think we could have done without the scarf. Eh, whatever. There are frost warning for tonight so I hope to get out to the garden today and harvest the rest of the squash and start on the brussel sprouts.

I think that's about it. Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Garden Club Giveaway

Get your gardening gloves and knee pads ready. It's time for another installment of Monday Garden Club.
The garden is slowly dying off and plans for next year are already being discussed. The (4 wheel drive) Gardener has been scouring the Internet for a used one bottom plow to pull behind the ATV. He is the real brains and muscle of the whole operation. He does all of the tilling and power tool related chores while I do the picking, cooking, freezing and canning of all of the vegetables. Which reminds me that I promised a giveaway for today.

Recently my family has expressed their love of preserved foods. I make pickles and I get special requests for the jalapeno dills. The salsa is always is hit but it's the peaches this year that have my mom and brother calling me saying that they have "dibs" on a pint. Since the peaches were delicious and especially bountiful this year, I am feeling generous and would love to offer up a preserved pint of peaches (say that three times fast) to one of my fabulous readers. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a number randomly and announce the winner next Monday. The contest will be open until 11:59PM next Sunday night, October 4.

Disclaimer: I have no license to be selling any kind of food product but I can assure you that I take utmost care in making sure that the food I preserve is safe. I sterilize all of my jars and process the filled jars in a boiling hot water bath for the appropriate amount of time. By entering this contest you agree that I will not be held responsible for any illness caused by my canned peaches. Basically I don't want to get sued.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Then And Now

Then and Now is a blog meme by Secret Mom Thoughts. Basically it's a look back at how life has changed over the years (or in my case months). Go to her site for all of the info and join in the fun.

Then: June of this year. Only 2 weeks after planting our garden

Now: Many of the veggies are done but I'm still getting tomatoes, beans, brussel sprouts, squash, and peppers. What a fun garden season it has been.

Make sure to stop by here next Monday for a special Monday Garden Club giveaway! You do Not need to have a garden to participate, everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wardrobe Wednesday- School Picture Day

Some mornings I feel like the bus can't get here fast enough. Today was one of those mornings. The girls were cranky. They didn't want to get dressed. Especially not in those terrible clothes I picked out for them. "But you need to look nice today, it's picture day." I hollered from the kitchen as I was trying to make them something to eat that they wouldn't complain about. "Well I'm not wearing that dress" Binny whined while pointing her finger at a very cute sweater dress that has never been a problem up until now. "The button in the back gets caught in my hair." After holding up outfit after outfit I started to lose my cool. "you will wear one of these 3 outfits. I don't care which one but I'm not running upstairs any more, this is it!" Finally she chose another dress. "Fine, now go eat your breakfast" I say as I brace myself to go through the same song and dance with Mae "But I only want bubble gum for breakfast!" says a sassy Binny as she stomps off toward the kitchen.

On to Mae. "I want something pretty. Why can't I wear what I wore yesterday?" "Oh you mean the dirty outfit that is sitting in the hamper? Not happening Mae, find something else." "But I don't have any pretty clothes, all I have is rags!" (note to self- get rid of the Cinderella DVD) "Go upstairs, find something and come down to eat breakfast. You are 7 years old now, you can get yourself ready."

We made it through breakfast and no Binny did not have bubble gum.

Since last year's school photos were a waste of $60, we decided not to purchase any prints this year. Binny had a weird hair flip thing going on and the photo company never offered re-takes. And since I take hundreds upon hundreds of photos of my children, getting the school photos are not necessary. Even if the children aren't ordering a photo package, their photo still gets taken to be included in the class collage (which at the last minute I decided to buy for $6 a pop).

Not that this was the morning for such an endeavor but I figured as long as the girls were dressed for school pictures, I would take a few outside as we were waiting for the bus. Staged, school portrait style. I hauled out a stool from the kitchen and my camera. Binny by now had some food in her tummy and was being somewhat cooperative. She plopped herself up onto the stool and smiled, while her hair again had a mind of it's own.
Mae, our hard start in the morning anyway was still not in the mood to cooperate and certainly not in the mood for me to photograph her. This was the best she would give me, a half smile. Between clicks, the half smile would turn into a full scowl.
The bus pulling into view was the most beautiful sight on this cloudy Wardrobe Wednesday. Amazing how my kids seem to turn in their devil horns for angel wings when they hop on the school bus. Their teachers and bus drivers never have a bad thing to say about either. "They are both such a delight!"

For more Wardrobe Wednesday (and most likely less drama) head on over to Heathen Family Revival.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


...years ago yesterday, the Gardener and I were helping some friends build a retaining wall in their front yard. It was a huge project so they called all of their handy friends and we got to work. Dirt, concrete, heavy lifting. You name the body part and it was probably sore after that long day. We went home, showered and planned to go straight to bed. As I was getting dressed after my shower something happened, something strange, scary and exciting all at once. My water broke! Mae was on her way.

We read all the books, attended the class even watched "the video" so I thought we were prepared. We knew exactly what to do. As soon as my water broke, I started writing down the frequency of my contractions and called the hospital. The nurse on the phone says "Oh, this is your first baby? You have plenty of time. Take a shower, (yeah, did that) call your family (Oh do I have to?) and come to the hospital."

I'll spare you most of the labor details but I will say that when people make a blanket statement about how long it takes for a woman to have a baby, don't believe them. My water broke at 8:30 PM and Mae arrived at 12:12 AM. Less than 4 hours start to finish. We were told that the first one takes a long time to arrive. "Plan on at least a whole day."The nurse didn't even believe my husband when he said the baby was coming. She put me on the toilet (thinking I just had to shit). Mae was almost born in the potty. The nurse was caught off guard and begged me to wait to push until she could set up the room and call the doctor. I didn't have an epidural so it was just me trying to relax and not let the contractions get the best of me. My very patient and extremely tired husband was coaching me along every step of the way. I'm not sure how, but I waited for the doc and almost as soon as he walked through the door, Mae made her appearance.

The next morning we didn't show up to help our friends finish their landscaping project. I kept telling them that we were going to have a baby on Sunday, my actual due date and they all thought I was crazy. Well, Crazy was right.

The early days of having a baby in the house were tiring. Up all night, trying and failing at breast feeding, getting the dogs used to a new crying, screaming, stinky, attention hog. Eventually we all got the hang of it and now all of a sudden she's turning 7. How does it all happen so quickly?

This last year for her has been difficult at best. The hospitalization, IVs, doctor visits but she's taken it all in a stride while making the most of it. Remember the cupcake?

Mae has made a special request of Orange Chicken for dinner tonight with vegetable pot stickers. (She's definitely my kid.) Her Birthday party is this Saturday and last night we heard from 2 more of her friends that can make it. I just hope the weather cooperates.Happy Birthday to my sweet MaeMae!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Garden Club

Get your gardening gloves and knee pads ready. It's time for another installment of Monday Garden Club.

Last night we finally got some much needed rain here. Only about two tenths of an inch but at least it was something. The whole month of September has been rainless with beautiful sunny days and warm temps. The garden has somehow held on through the dry spell and is still rockin'. The green beans are still growing but I can tell there are getting close to the end. Some are a bit stringy but edible yet still much better than the beans they try to pass off as fresh at the grocery store. Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to complain blog about. The crappy quality and high prices on meat and produce in the grocery store.

None of our local grocery stores (that I've noticed anyway) sell organic meat and eggs. And yes there is a difference. At first I thought all this buy organic hype was complete crap but I have changed my tune. I'm not sure if it's that the food quality in the US has gone down or maybe I'm becoming a food snob. Probably a little of both.

Over the last year or so I have bought only free range eggs from chickens that are raised less than 5 miles from my house. They are about twice as much as the regular store bought but well worth the price for the superb quality. I couldn't believe my eyes when I cracked a store bought (factory) egg this summer. It was so pale looking. I sniffed it twice just to make sure it was still safe to use. I guess I forgot what other eggs look like.

A woman up the road from us has a small farm where she sells eggs, fresh pork, fresh chickens, garden produce, etc. A few months ago I saw she had an ad in the paper selling whole pigs. I stopped over at her house, wrote her a check and two weeks later I picked up 5 boxes filled to the tippy top with smokey pork goodness. Bacon, hams, pork chops, ribs, roasts, even 3 big tubs of lard. Now you would think that buying a home raised well-treated animal and paying for the butchering and smoking would be expensive. Think again. I paid less than $2 a pound for the most delicious pork there is. We already ate all 9 packages of breakfast sausage because it was so darn tasty.

Over Labor Day weekend while we were hosting family, I grilled a big 9 pound happy chicken from the same local farm and I plan to do the same this weekend for Mae's Birthday. The taste is out of this world and because so many people are now turning to this way of buying and eating food, a small business is flourishing. I could go on all day about this but I'll stop before I scare away all of my vegetarian readers.

I have also been freezing and canning almost everything from my garden so that this winter we won't have to rely on the grocery store for our vegetables. I have already frozen 8 quart bags of green beans (I still have to freeze the beans I picked yesterday), 4 bags of peas, 8 bags of broccoli, 3 bags of sliced summer squash and tomatoes all ready to make this.

The girls picked the rest of the melons...

The second crop of raspberries are starting to ripen...The brussel sprouts could be picked any day now but I really don't have the room in the fridge or the time to process them. That's alright, they're doing fine in the garden yet.

My neighbor brought over a big grocery bag full of apples over the weekend and in return I pawned off a few peaches because believe it or not, we still have some and we're kind of getting tired of them.
Then today, I turned half of the apples into applesauce. No fancy recipe here. Just apples and a bit of water to keep the sauce smooth. I also added about 1/4 cup of honey for sweetness.

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments, I'll add you to this post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

All The Other Kids Have One

The mom of one of Mae's friend's just called to say that her daughter will be coming to Mae's Birthday party next week. (Our first RSVP, very exciting!) She then asked me what kind of gift her daughter should get for Mae.

"What is she into?"

I start to panic and the only two words that enter my brain are HANNAH and MONTANA. Thinking of ways to gently say keep that shit out of my house no, we don't really do any of that character stuff. But I didn't, I just said that Mae doesn't have a list and whatever her daughter picks out will be just fine. "Well... does she like Polly Pocket? Barbies? Computer game credits? Does she have a Webkins?" No, no, no and nope. She finally said that her daughter received a jewelry making kit for her birthday and that she really likes it. "Sure, that'll be fine. I'm sure she'll love whatever your daughter picks out." And she will.

It would not be the end of the world if Mae was given a Barbie or a Hannah Montana doll or whatever else is adorned with the pop star's face, but I think she would grow tired of it all very quickly and still not get the hype. Mae likes to color, and draw, and write, and play Checkers, and watch PBS kids shows. She likes to climb hunting stands, and go bear baiting, and race remote control cars, and jump in the straw mow. She likes to wear dresses and ride her bicycle, but she hasn't got a clue who the Jonas brothers are and why all the other girls call them "hot." Over the summer Mae has become a very open-minded, independent, fearless 7 year old. I know peer pressure is out there alive and well (Thank you, Dr. Phil) but damn it all, why do toys imported from China need need to be part of it? Besides growing our hair long and moving to one of those FLDS compounds, how do we get away from it?

Whoa, overreact much?

I guess this sort of thing happens at the beginning of the school year. Mae has mentioned a time or two that "the other kids can have cookies for snack, and all I get is 2 plums." She loves plums but the fact that the other kids have something different perhaps even sprinkle covered is intriguing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Club

The whole Monday part of Monday Garden Club is kicking my ass. I generally don't blog on the weekends so by Monday morning I tend to have something else blog-worthy and I blow off the garden. Such was the case yesterday with the teeth brushing photos.

Oh and I've been busy trying to eradicate some pesky fruit flies. With all of the ripe and ripening fruit and vegetables around, my kitchen has become a fruit fly hangout. I set out some traps and learned that fruit flies love a glass of white wine as much as I do, except I put a little dish soap in theirs. Does the trick but I still have quite a few to get rid of.

So, Monday Garden Club, late but not forgotten.

Many of the veggies are done for the season but the broccoli and beans are still going strong. I picked a meal's worth of broccoli again yesterday and an ice cream bucket full of green beans for what seems like the millionth time. I have been blanching and freezing as much of the homegrown as I have room for. It will be so nice not to have to buy much of that this winter.

The tomatoes are still going crazy. I gave away an entire grocery bag full of assorted tomatoes on Sunday and another bag yesterday and still probably would have enough to make a lifetime supply of ketchup.
The cantaloupe are ripe and delicious. I make the girls sit outside on the porch to eat them because they are so juicy. By the time they are finished the juice is dripping off their elbows.

Same goes for the peaches we picked at my in-laws'. Messy but delicious.

I canned peaches again yesterday which now puts me up to 12 pints, and 7 quarts of peach halves. I still have about 10 pounds of peaches to use up yet. Maybe jam... unless anyone has a better suggestion.

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments, I'll add you to this post.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Clean Fun

The weekend was fun. The weather was great and I think the fresh air was good for us. We spent almost the entire weekend outside, even to brush teeth. There is an indoor bathroom with running water but this is much more fun.