Thursday, April 28, 2011


I've talked before about the grand expansion plans for this year.  
They have finally come to fruition...
The apples have blossomed!
Tuesday and Wednesday lent perfect opportunities for the finishing of the projects.  
Warm, but not hot, and sunny with lots of light fluffy clouds made for perfect heavy duty work weather.  
We first got all the cardboard that the high winds had moved all around and placed them back on the bottom of what would become the new garden.  
I put W. on the task of  watering the cardboard...why? 
First I wanted it weighed down so that it would stay put while I finished loading the compost onto it.  
Second, I wanted it wet so that it would hold moisture and decompose quickly while providing a lovely barrier to kill off grass and weeds that were working their way up.  
He did a great job.  
While W. did his task, I turned the compost heap.  
I hadn't done this task since I mucked out the chicken coop.  
The top foot was rich in worms (and chicken guano.)  
Under that, was rich thick moist, earthy smelling, compost.  
I filled bucket after bucket of it and poured it upon the cardboard.  W. was put in charge of spreading it with a hoe.  
From top left clockwise: (small bed) potatoes, the new large garden, (bottom) the herb garden, (small, far left) lettuce, beets, spinach, peas and carrots.
Once the bed was filled and spread, we pushed some of it aside to create walkways through  the garden.  In the first strip we planted red and yellow onions.  
We use so many onions through the year so we figured plant lots (as in 150 sets.)  
Also, we had some rogue garlic pop up from last year's crop.  I pulled them up gently, and then replanted them in neat little rows.  
The potatoes went in as well into one of the beds built last fall.
The kids loved the idea of blue fingerlings.
We planted red, white, and blue potatoes W. found at the grocery store.
They were overpriced, but I figure for $3.99, we'll get lots of little yummy potatoes.
My rhubarb has decided after 3 years of not bolting, to try and bolt every day.  
Every morning I go out and pull out yet another attempt.  
What does this mean for the season if even the 
rhubarb can't make it to May?
During all this we had botany lessons about the food cycle (from food to compost (side loop into chicken food and eggs to compost) to worm food or bacterial food to soil (plant food) to things we eat) and the water cycle.  We also talked about underground plants and above ground plants.  
So much can be fit into every day life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This and that...

You may or not know this, but Country Sister and I have brothers as fact, sometimes since this is kind of a girl thing, I contemplate asking our sister-in-law to write here and there as well...
Well, I was late posting today and did not post on Saturday due to a visit from my brother and his family...While it was a short visit, it was a lot of fun.  We went to the zoo and to the Children's Museum...
There was lots of play and lots of cranky, sleep deprived children.  
So we spent this morning getting caught up on errands, chores, laundry, and sleep.  
We also made cookies.
My dear little C. decided that she wanted to make cookies with her mother, and I was okay with this because we have lots of little odds and ends around to make them with.  And since things were not scrumptious for you on Saturday...I will make today scrumptious...
Jumbled Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs molasses
2 eggs (or 1 double yolker as we used today)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup oats
2 cups fun stuff (I used malted barley chocolate chips, pecans, and raisins.)
Cream sugar and butter, add molasses, and beat well.  Add the eggs and beat well, then add the vanilla.  Stir in the soda and salt.  Then add the flour and oats.  Mix in the mix-ins, scoop out onto a cookie sheet by the largish tablespoon, then bake for about 8-10 min at 350.

I also have been working on something special, but I cannot show's going to be a gift.  

I am contemplating buying this book...

Does anyone have experience with it?
Is it worth it?
I think I could come up with the perfect sweater that my husband wants for Christmas.
If he wants it then, I better start getting to work...
Which brings me to the new item on our sidebar...
Click on the Eat, Sleep, Knit.
button on the sidebar, and it gives me yardage towards my Yarn Marathon...
(and while you are at it, contemplate their yarn that is at quite a reasonable price.)
I may not run them in real life, but I'd like to be able to knit that much in a me get there!

PLEASE...Pretty Please...with cookies on top!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What the hay!

Well, we've run out of hay.  
Last winter we deep littered the chickens.
Instead of a weekly muck out of the coop, we first put down a deep layer of leaves and grass clippings from the fall cleanup and then put hay in the chickens' laying boxes.
Every week, I'd take an old feed sack full of 2 flakes of hay down to the coop and put it on top with a hand full of corn on top of that.  This way the chickens would stir up the layers and the coop would stay sweet smelling.  I would also dump out all the hay from the laying boxes onto the floor and put fresh hay in.  This way I had pretty clean eggs.
After mucking out the coop a few weeks ago, I realized we had gone through the hay we had bought and put in the  garage for the deep littering.  
The laying boxes were getting a little muddy from the chickens' feet and thus, the 10 eggs I collected yesterday were in desperate need for a good washing.
What's a girl to do when she is all out of hay and the boxes are getting muddy...and she's out of wood shavings, hay and other good items for the job?
She gets thinking.
My husband taught me how to get our lawnmower going a few weekends ago.  All the clippings from the mowing job went into the compost heap...and hay is just dry really tall grass (well kind of) I bet you can figure out what I did. 
The chickens had to go immediately into the boxes and check out what the new item was...I am always amazed by how curious creatures they are.
Was I rewarded with nice, fresh, non muddy eggs...
Not so much...
maybe I should teach them to wipe their feet off before coming in the (chicken) house.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A whole lot of haulin...

Sunday afternoon was a glorious time.  
It was so warm, almost hot.  
The sun came out and the children started begging to go out and play, and I can't say no to that for I was itching to get out myself.  
I've been reconsidering my garden space ever since I looked at all the seeds I have, and then looking at the little garden room I really do have.
So it began, the Spring expansion I have been planning all winter.  
I began hauling more rocks left by the previous owners.  They had rock walls that were not properly put together so their rock walls were falling every so often upon my strawberries and raspberries.  I moved these to the area where I was going to make our biggest garden bed to outline it and keep the kids and dog out of the area.  
Then I sent the kids on a mission.  
I had collected boxes all winter to the point were we didn't have a garage, we had a box storage area.  The husband was complaining about the vast quantity of boxes everywhere.  
The kids' mission was simple...get the boxes and bring them to me.  
They did this as I tore the boxes apart and placed them where I wanted the garden to be.  Then I placed the rocks around the border on top of the cardboard.  
After this, the kids and I dug the finished compost out and hauled wheel borough after wheel borough of compost to the new garden.  I saw worms a size I have never seen them before.  They must have been getting fat on the richness of the soil.  
They made new pencils look tiny.  
W. caught some of these and fed them to the chickens who would delight in playing tug-o-war with them.  
I still need some more soil, so I may dig up some of the soil from the last place we mobbed the chickens to destroy grass.  
It should be very rich due to the free fertilizer the chickens deposited for us there.  
Our next mission:
Potatoes and onions need to go in!
(Pictures will be added after the sun comes up...
if we ever see the sun...
it is Pittsburgh after all (famous for the lack of sun and overabundance of clouds and drizzle.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday...Pealing off the wallpaper

Sorry about the delay...yesterday got away from me.
Well, it's been a while since I've had any continuation of my maple sap story.  My house only has wallpaper in the dining room, so I wasn't so worried about what old timers would joke about...
pealing off the wallpaper with the moisture sap gives off.  
We only got about a quart of sap...
yes this will yield a few tablespoons, but it's the concept that I am looking for.  
The kiddos helped each step of the way.  
I want them to see from tree to pancakes.
So I heated up my cast iron skillet, and dumped in the frozen block of sugary water.
Then over medium heat I cooked off the sap slowly.  
During this time I went out to the coop and got half a dozen eggs.
I came back in and it was syrup...It only took about 30 minutes.

To catch up on the saga of our maple syrup...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy birthday... me!
Remember being little...
Birthdays couldn't come fast enough.
I was mad because March had 31 more day for me to wait.
My mom always made my favorite...carrot cake.

Now things are different.
I turn 30 today.
My hair is slowly turning gray (I blame C...most of it came as soon as she became mobile.)
I have responsibilities.

To me, it's hard to believe I've left my 20's behind...
A lot happened in my 20's.
I finished two degrees.
I got married.
Bought a house.
Had two kiddos.

Oh well, maybe my 30's will be equally splendid.
But for different reasons.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Round 3 planting

More planting occurred today.  We just did not have enough tomatoes and the new varieties came in.  So today  Moskovich tomatoes went in as well as Gilbertie Paste tomatoes and more California Wonder peppers.  Lemon Balm and some supplementary spinach went in.  Last time I planted indoors, I made some paper pots and filled them with some potting soil.  I decided to go a different route this time.
For Christmas, my in-laws gave us a Kureig coffee maker.  It makes a perfect cup each time.  The one thing I hate is all the waste it creates.  For a time, I took off the foil top, dug out the coffee grinds, then recycled the plastic bottom and the foil tops.  

Then I realized they look like perfect little pots, and coffee can be used as a potting medium as well.  So off came the foil tops with a small knife and with a few jabs of the knife, I loosened up the coffee grinds.  I then added a touch of potting soil and water and poof...there I had some little one inch pots.  Perfect to start seeds and then transplant them into larger newspaper pots.
Let's see how this goes.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Things that happened this weekend...

::sleepover parties
::birthday parties
::impromptu dinner with friends
::my husband and I cranking out harmonies our old Dylan tunes and some bluegrass
::scraping down stalls
::breaking in a new chainsaw
::next year's firewood falling
::delivering last fall's sweet cider to make good on a barter
::catching up with friends after winter hibernation
::live trad music at a local tavern
::the first ice cream cone of the season

Things that didn't happen...

i could make a long list here...but after reading the above, i hate to tarnish all that good stuff with things that will just have to wait until tonight, or tomorrow, or whatever.  I guess if it didn't get done, it must not have been all that important. 

Take a second to think about one simple and great thing that you did this weekend.   Smile.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday

Cleaning out the freezer and refrigerator was necessary this week due to a food delivery.  Yes, our favorite grocer delivers.  They deliver fresh, organic, healthy and not so healthy food for our family (as long as it is a big enough order.)  
So I started looking through the fridge...yes old rice from earlier in the week...cranberries my sister had given me from her friends' bog...beets, but of course...and in the freezer...what meat is taking up the most room...well it would have to be that roasting chicken from the pick 8 I ordered from the butchers a few months ago (yes 8 choices of meat...about 50 pounds has lasted us months...there is still plenty of it frozen in the chest freezer and the fridge freezer.)  
And through this, I pieced together dinner...nothing miraculous...nothing to write home about as my grandmother would have said...just a hearty scrumptious meal to be shared with my family.
Scraps for dinner
Your Own Personal Pot Luck Dinner!
clockwise from top...chicken...cranberry sauce...rice...roasted beets.

I mixed my Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and a bit extra oregano with some sea salt and pepper.  I coated the chicken with the seasonings under the skin as well as on top.  I then also brushed lemon juice and olive oil all over the whole chicken and poured about a quarter cup of lemon juice into the cavity...this lends a lot of flavor.  Preheat the oven to 450 and roast the chicken for about 45 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the bird.  Pull out of the oven and let sit for about 15 minutes (while you finish the beets.)

With the leftover seasonings from the chicken (unused as  not to be contaminated by the chicken meat) I made roasted beets.  Just wash and trim about a pound of beets and rub with a little olive oil and place them in the oven with the chicken  for the first 45 minutes...remove them from the oven and let them cool down.  They should be tender.  The skins should just slip right off...slip them off, chop them into bit sized pieces and then toss with a little more olive oil and the seasonings....cook for another 15 minutes while the chicken rests.

And the cranberry sauce...well that is simple enough...Just 3 cups cranberries still cup cup sweetener (or a little less...honey and sugar work well at a 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup ratio only using 3/4 of a cup)  Bring it to a boil and boil until it looks like jelly...put it in the fridge to cool.

Heat up whatever little tidbits you have in the fridge to round out the meal...and what have you got...a cleaned out fridge, dinner, and a scrumptious delight!