Tuesday, December 7, 2010
We've had our share of illness this fall. First Sweet Pea (age 9) got the flu, followed by pneumonia. He missed a whole week of school. That was before Thanksgiving. Now Big Dog (age 12) has the flu. I stayed home with him today and got a lot of things done. I made homemade pizza calzones which I will slice into portions and then freeze. They will be for school lunches. I also made Christmas cookie dough and am preparing to make lasagna right now. I love to bake! I got in a little cleaning and attempted to put the lights on the tree. I need to buy some more lights. It's very pathetic looking right now!
Hope everyone has a happy holiday season!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Our little dead-end road has a lot more traffic than usual these days due to deer hunters. There is quite a bit of public hunting land accessed from our road, so we have trucks driving by much more frequently than normal.
Even with all the "traffic," I've learned that if you live rural and want to meet people other than your 2 neighbors, you have to DO something about it. People don't just walk up the sidewalk and say, "Hi! I'm ___ and live a few blocks down the road" like they do in suburbia. I've been attending church and a few people are remembering my name (if only I could remember theirs). I joined the school improvement team at my son's school to meet the teachers. I am also co-coaching 2 activities this fall--an academic reading team that will compete in a literacy "game show," and a a team for Odyssey of the Mind in which students use creative thinking, team-work and problem solving to complete in a problem-solving competition. Already I'm getting to know a few more people. Even though our "town" is small, the school district includes children from 5 different towns and lots of rural space in between, so the school district actually has a lot of students. Many more than I anticipated when we first moved here.
My meal planning is going pretty well thus far. I put all my meals in my Windows calendar on a rotating basis, so I have 5 meals planned automatically for each week. I just match up my grocery list with my menu for the week and I'm good to go! I do mix things up a bit. I might have Wed's dinner on Monday or something like that, but it sure helps to know I have all the ingredients on hand for 5 different meals. It's not too convenient to run to the store if I run out of something!
I would like to be making more things from scratch to avoid preservatives and eat healthier, but I have some roadblocks. 1st of all, it takes TIME to make everything from scratch and in case you didn't notice, I'm a little busy right now! 2nd, SOMEONE in my family prefers processed foods over homemade!!! This person would rather eat blueberry muffins from a mix or pizza from the chain, rather than completely homemade. How sad! : (
We will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for 22 of our relatives. This is my first major Thanksgiving dinner, so I'm looking forward to it. It takes a lot of planning and organization. I have purchased everything except for the potatoes and we've borrowed tables and chairs, so we're on our way!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
You can buy chicken broth in a carton or cans at the store or you can make your own. I usually use a combination of the two and add a spoonful of chicken base as well for extra flavor. You can find both the broth and the base near the soup section of the store.
To make your own broth:
After we have a roasted chicken for dinner, I put all the leftovers (meat, bones, skin everything) in a big pot on the stove and sometimes add onion, carrots, and celery for extra flavor if I had them on hand. Cover and let it simmer for a few hours. Then I put a colander over a large bowl and put everything through. The veggies, meat and bones stay in the colander and the broth goes in the bowl. I then take whatever chicken meat is left off the bones and cut it up for the soup. Sometimes there's a lot of fat in the broth. If you put it in the fridge over night the fat will harden on top and you can spoon it off. The broth usually get gelled, so just heat it back up a bit.
I got this recipe from HeavenlyHomemakers.com.
2 1/3 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
1/3 C water
1 tsp oil
Mix flour and salt together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add the water and oil. Pour over flour and stir and knead until combined. (I put all my ingredients in the bread maker and le tit do the kneading and mixing for me while I do something else. I just turn it off after about 10 minutes.)
Wash, dry and flour your countertop. Roll out the dough and then cut with your pizza cutter into this strips. While I'm doing that I have pot of water on to boil. Place the strips into boiling water and cook until nearly done.
Heat up your broth. Add any chicken, chicken base or other seasonings (I like pepper or garlic) or cooked veggies you want and then add your noodles. Heat and simmer until dinner time.
We had this last night and it was yummy!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Actually he's quite housetrained, but pees when he gets excited or nervous still.
I was going to post about the homemake noodles I made for soup, but I'm really too tired!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I am really going to try to pack lunches for all 3 of us most every day this school year. Last year things were hectic with building and our kids ended up eating school lunch almost every day. The oldest chose pizza every single day of the year! It also was pretty expensive for 2 kids--we were paying a little over $20/week for unhealthy lunches! When they did pack a lunch it wasn't very healthy--usually a Lunchable. So far we've had 4 days of school and I managed to have lunches for all 3 of us every day. One day the boys took leftover cheeseburgers from the previous evening's dinner. I've been buying a lot of non-fat yogurt for them and grapes and pretzels. I've got a list of ideas to draw from.
I also have planned all my dinners in advance and have them saved on a calendar so I'll also know what's for dinner and can buy my groceries accordingly! :) Yay for me!
Now that's is dark outside, I must get my blacklight and locate the source of the puppy pee smell in my living room. I bought some Nature's Miracle and hope that it works!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Josh bought a pick-up a few weeks back to use to snowplow the drive this winter (300 feet--that push snowblower just isn't going to do it). He knew a guy who knows a guy who's a mechanic on the side and gave him a good deal on a bunch of repairs, but it took 2 weeks. He picked it up this morning and then went to look at a snowplow he found for sale on Craigslist. Turned out the plow-selling guy works for a guy whose wife Josh works with. He decided to leave his truck with that guy who is going to weld on a frame for him. So, I had to go pick him up. We live out in the country, but the plow-selling guy was 45 more minutes in the country. It was a beautiful drive. We passed a sign for an apple orchard and on the way back, Josh stopped for me! Turns out it was on the property of an Amish family. When we pulled in the drive, there was one little girl out tending the goats. As I approached the house, another adorable girl came bouncing out the door, eager to sell me her apples. I got a half-bushel of Courtlands for only $5!
Later this afternoon, Josh, Big Dog and I went into the woods to start getting some firewood. Josh cut up a downed tree and we helped carry it out of the woods to the trailer (well, he did most of it, it was heavy and a long way to carry). Then while Josh split the wood, the boys and I finished clearing the area around the rope swing. Now they can swing high without hitting the bushes!
Now I have an apple crisp in the oven for dessert! I will make applesauce later this weekend and maybe try my hand at a pie--we'll see!
Monday, August 16, 2010
This weekend I made some yeast dinner rolls and pancakes for the freezer. I am planning on making another roll recipe this afternoon. I also need to paint some baseboard trim and I want to clear the area under the boys' rope swing they haven't used all summer.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Once I get back home on Thursday (sans boys) I hope to make some meals ahead for the freezer: lasagna, enchiladas, cookie dough, garlic bread, taco meat, cooked ground beef, chicken noodle soup . . . I also hope to have ripe tomatoes some day so I can make and can some salsa. I need to get my menus planned. Josh and I used to get paid on opposite Fridays, now it will be the same Friday, so we'll only be paid every other week. This is going to take some adjustment in the way I shop and plan.
I have some more rooms that need to be painted in the basement and more organizing to do down there as well. I was planning to tile the kitchen backsplash this summer, but honestly, "it ain't gonna happen!"
I also have a few books I'd like to read and relax for a little bit!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I know everyone and their neighbor has blogged about their use of homemade laundry soap, so I won't bore you with all the details. However, here is the recipe I used:
1/3 bar FelsNaptha soap
1/2 C washing soda
1/2 C borax
Grate the soap and put in a saucepan with 6 cups of hot water. Heat and stir until soap melts. Add borax and washing soda and stir until dissolved. Pour mixture into a bucket and add 4 cups of water and stir well. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and keep stirring. Let soap sit for 24 hours to thicken a little. Use 1/2 C per load. There are little to no suds in the washing machine.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
I have TONS of wild blackberries this year! Last year they were just thorny canes. Last night I picked about 4 cups of the frist ripe ones. The boys want me to make some blackberry crisp today. I think I will try to do that! Some places have huge plump berries while others have smaller berries. I wonder if they are different varieties or if the locations make a difference. The ones on the hill tend to be smaller than those down the hill on the edge of the woods. The berries are at various stages-some still small and white, some pink to red, others black; therefore I should have a long picking season.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
We are due for a break in the heat wave today due to some rain moving in. So far the weather map shows rain all around us, just not here! We could use the rain, as I'm sure most people can!
My fruit trees are a disaster this year (year 1) and I can just hope they survive and try again next year. After all my diligence in plucking off the caterpillars, ants ate the peach tree leaves and I never did figure out what was eating the apple trees. I have been spraying them with an organic treatment for fungus and insects, but I believe I started too late. The damage was already done.
My 2 little blueberry bushes are healthy and are producing a handful of berries each. One of the raspberry bushes is producing berries, but it appears to have some insect damage. The other raspberry bush is green and healthy, but has no berries!
I may go brave the mosquitos before the rain to pick some wild berries this afternoon. I'm off to a really late start today due to being up with the puppy for the majority of the night. Once the kids got up this morning, it was back to bed for me! I'm glad I don't have to work during the summer! I need to vacuum the carpets and mop the kitchen floor. It would be nice to get a loaf of bread started also. I guess I'd getter get started!
PS Last week while the boys were at grandma's house, I made a batch of soap using canola, olive, coconut and castor oils. It is curing and looks pretty nice!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
This afternoon my mother in law is taking Big Dog and Sweet Pea back to her house for the week.
Honey, our 5 year old golden retriever is still adjusting to having a puppy in the house. Her behavior has changed a bit sometimes. Yesterday when mother in law arrived, Honey barked and barked at her. That's not her normal behavior. She is also getting protective about her food--worried the puppy will get it I guess. I'm going to have to do a little research to see how to deal with this.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Honey has been enjoying the puppy. She's learning not to eat the puppy's food. She shares her toys and water dish and sleeps near "Hunter" while he naps. It's quite cute!
Shortly after 9:00 this evening, Honey started barking and looking out the back window. I heard my youngest say "Foxes!" He was correct, we had a pair of foxes bouncing through the back yard. That was pretty exciting--it was the first time we've seen them here.
The garden is growing well now. Finally! I've started mulching around the plants using grass clippings. I am hoping that will keep the weeds down. We've had a lot of rainstorms recently. We still have a downed tree blocking half of our road from Saturdays' storm. All the rain is helping the garden and unfortunately the mosquito population grow. Michigan is known for having a lot of mosquitos. There are t-shirts at tourist stops here with a picture of a mosquito and the words "Michigan's State Bird." Anyway, between the humidity and mosquitos (both caused by the rain) it's not been very comfortable working outside this week. I usually go out in the evenings, but the skeeters are just too much!
Josh has officially hung all the drywall today for our finished basement. I know a few families who have lived in their homes for years still planning to finish their basement "as soon as they have time." Fortunately, I have one of those husbands who makes time to do the projects that are important to our family's safety and enjoyment. Drywalling actually improves the fire rating our our floor, so it is a safety related project. We've also installed a storm room where we'll keep all our storm supplies.
We all love our new home so much! We're really building family memories here and we've only lived here about 10 weeks!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Big Dog's outside mowing the lawn with the John Deere for the first time. He just drove by the patio door and smiled and waved in at us. He feels like a man. It helps that he's now taller than 1 grandma and just a few inches shorter than I am! The paths are terribly curvy! :)
Josh drywalled the ceiling in about half the basement this weekend. That was a huge job! I helped with that on Saturday. Sunday I did laundry and cleaned the house.
Next week I begin summer vacation. I have so many things I want to do:
1. Start a compost pile
2. Make soap
3. Make wild berry preserves
4. Tile the kitchen backsplash
5. Get back to quilting
6. Make a braided rug
7. Keep up the garden
8. Preserve my homegrown veggies
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
My blueberries and doing really well. The raspberries and apple trees also seem to be doing fine. The peach tree, however is becoming food for ants. I need to find out what kind of spray I can use on it.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I am really fighting a battle with those darn tent worms! They of course made tents in our large trees out back, but what has frustrated me is that the caterpillars crawled up to my new fruit trees and bushes! I have to go out there everyday and pick off the caterpillars and squish them on the ground. I am finding 4-6 caterpillars each day. That is a lot on my few tiny plants! I wonder how much longer they will be around. Hopefully not too much longer--I noticed the ones I squished today were getting pretty long. I wonder how people wil larger trees or larger numbers of fruit bushes handle this--I am sure they don't go out everyday and search every inch for caterpillars to squish!
Hopefully your gardens are doing better than mine! I still have high hopes, though! (and sore forearms!)
Monday, May 17, 2010
Don't you love how once you find something good on the internet, you often find more an dmore links to more and more good information? While looking at our local newspaper online, I found a free introduction to canning class for tomorrow evening I am going to try to attend. That led me to the website of the group hosting the class--Fair Food Matters. They have a variety of classes scheduled for the next few months--more detailed and advanced canning, making cheese at home, raising hens, eating local and root cellaring. I also found a link to a local farm I had not heard of that has all kinds of classes going on as well! I had no idea all of this was available to me and I am so excited!
Friday, May 14, 2010
Garden: It's doing terribly! The T posts keep bending in the wind. There's grass growing all over the place in there and no signs of anything I actually planted! Grrr!
Dog: Honey got into her first tangle with another animal yesterday: the fierce ground hog! She tore off after one and actually caught it. She didn't pick it up or anything, but I think she got it with her paw. The two of them were eye to eye for a bit, then Honey started barking and the ground hog screetched and they were at it. Honey didn't really attack her, mostly just barking and jumping around, but the ground hog was trying to defend itself. I tried calling her away but she wouldn't come. I had Sweet Pea go get Josh who was downstairs. Honey retreated after he called to her a few times. Both animals seemed to survive the ordeal, though Honey's tongue was bleeding--don't know if the groundhog got it or if she bit it when she was barking.
House: Josh has framed the basement all in and started the rough in electrical. We got bids for the HVAC and plumbing and it's not pretty. Not sure what we're going to do about that yet. We are still waiting for the builder to finish the railing on the front porch! Supposed they special ordered the pieces and they came in the wrong size, so they had to re-order them.
Garage sales: Yesterday I stopped at a garage sale on the way home from work. They had a bunch of really cool. old oil lamps--but they wanted $25 a piece. Today I went to a few more and found a cool old oil lamp for $3--so I bought it! I also got a sweater, a puzzle, a book, a gas can, and a bulletin board for Big Dog's room.
Job: I applied for a transfer to one of a few open positions, but did not get one. I'm disappointed, but still employed, so I can't really complain!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I've always been a person who likes to have a full pantry. But now that the "corner store" is a 15 minute drive at 55mph, I really like to have everything we need at home. If I was missing an ingredient mid-dinner preparations in the city, I jumped in the car and was back home with what I wanted in 10 minutes. Now it's at least 35 minutes, plus the extra gas. (Unless it's late on Sunday, then I have to drive a bit further.) If someone gets sick, I want to have the basic medicines we need in the cupboard. If I get sick or break a leg and can't get the grocery shopping done for a few weeks I know we have plenty to eat right here at home. Even if we lost a job for awhile, we have lots of food here to save on groceries each week.
Before we left the city, we started eating from the pantry to avoid moving all that food. We didn't have a lot of storage space at the rental house, so it wasn't the best-stocked pantry around. My new kitchen, however, is a dream! I have a full pantry with deep shelves and so many kitchen cupboards, some are nearly empty! We've only lived here a month, but I'm working on getting everything stocked back up and it feels good to see lots of cans in the pantry and meat in the freezer.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday was cooler and damp. We returned the rotatiller and made a trip to the big box store. I bought some fencing for the garden and Josh picked up the overhead garage door he ordered for the pole barn.
I finally organized my closet Sunday. Our previous house (not the rental) had a master closet the size of a bedroom, so I had shelves and everything in there. This home has nice-sized closets, but no room for shelves other than above the hanging clothes. I bought one of those over-the-door shoe organizers. I found one that didn't have plastic or vinyl on it and it looks nice and keeps all my shoes up and off of the floor. I put my sweaters in a bin in the basement and made a small pile for Goodwill.
Yesterday I made some homemade bread and cookies! I grilled some steak to go with it and baked a few potatoes for dinner.
Josh has been working on framing the basement and really appreciates his new pneumatic nail gun! He worked on the bulkheads today around the ducts and plumbing. That's a big job.
Monday after work I got most of the seeds planted and put the garden fence up. Then Josh and Big Dog returned from the store with a load of over 200 2x4's to unload. (They were $1 off--and that's a lot of money when you need a couple hundred!)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
We also have an issue with lots of non-fruit bearing brambles! They are everywhere and difficult to remove due to how throny they are. They are not in a place where we can just mow them down.
I haven't started my garden yet. I've been trying to locate an alternative to a rotatiller that I can rent to pull behind the tractor.
This evening we are going to our son's elelmentary school for the science fair. He made a simple project all my himself using his electronics kit.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Yesterday the cement for our sidewalk and approach to the garage was poured and some of the railings were installed on the front porch. Today the final grade of the yard was completed. We still need to go over it to break up the larger chunks of soil and collect the largest of the rocks.
We bought a 50# bag of grass seed today at Tractor Supply Company, along with a new open trailer with a ramp for talking the tractor in for maintainance, among many other uses. I also bought some peat moss for the yet-to-be-tilled garden and the book Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance. It has information on everything from gardening, to home repairs to raising animals, baking, shed building, butchering animals, making sassafrass rootbeer . . . anything we might ever want to know ( and then some)!
Josh is hoping I'm going to make cookies soon. I am hoping to avoid it. My day started 14 hours ago and I'd like to rest now.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I also got the boys to eat a bit of spinach this evening. The nutrition educator who comes to my parenting class made some quesadillas with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, grilled chicken and spinach. My students loved them and said they couldn't taste the spinach. I made some tonight with our regular meal of grilled chicken, mushrooms and rice. Each boy actually tried it and liked it! They only ate 1/4 of a quesadilla each, but that's more spinach then they're ever eaten before, so I didn't want to push it! Sweet pea said, "If you can't taste it, what's the point on putting it in?" I know the cream cheese wasn't the healthiest thing, but I figure sometimes it takes "a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down!" I do the same thing with that high fructose laiden V-8 Splash and V-8 Fusion. It's not all healthy, but it get the veggies in them at least!
The last few days we got the rest of the barbed wire from the woods and we used the John Deere to drag up an old metal trailer frame we found that had been hidden behind the brambles. We're trying to get the rest of the junk that surfaced once the snow melted and before the leaves come out and hide it all again. If we can, I'd like to start getting some of the fallen trees out of the woods as well before the poison ivy returns and we can't get to it anymore.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Step 2: Sell the house. Check.
Step 3: Build the new house. Check.
Step 4: Move into the new house. CHECK!
We got our temporary certificate of occupancy late Wednesday afternoon. My parents came down Wednesday evening to help us with the move. Josh's mother came down Friday morning. By Saturday we were organized and cleaned enough to make Easter dinner before my parents left. This afternoon everyone is gone and we have our new home to ourselves. Too bad I'm so incredibly exhausted. I got some groceries this afternoon. Tomorrow it's back to school for the kids and I, so we'll have to review new bus numbers, bus stops, and after school procedures today. I have some school work to be done before morning also.
My mom and dad gave us our birthday money early so we could buy some fruit trees. Maybe I can do that next weekend. We're hosting our monthly Euchre (cards) club this Friday, so I need to get the inside of the house in shape as much as possible.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The other one isn't really a recipe. It's scrambled French toast. Basically it's French toast, using scraps of leftover breads such as hamburger buns that are torn into bite sized pieces. You can cook in in a frying pan or bake it in the oven.
Monday, March 29, 2010
You may recall we are living in a fully-furnished cottage. Therefore, all of our furniture, dishes, linens, and most of our "stuff" is either packed in the pole barn or in the storage unit. So, from that respect, we don't have a lot of packing to do this time. This weekend, I packed a lot of non-essentials from the rental house and we took them to the pole barn. I started packing some food in those blue reusable grocery bags and have them all lined up on the table, so we can still get to the food, but it's ready to go at any time. Jacob took apart our "closet" and we packed up many of our clothes. I've gone through the dishes and packed everything that was ours. Most of the toys are packed and in the pole barn. As soon as we get occupancy, I will load up the truck and we'll be taking things over there. We want to be out of this house by the end of the day on Wednesday if at all possible, so we don't have to worry about another month's rent. As you can imagine, we have numerous other expenses at this time.
I guess I'll see what else I can pack up and then sit around and wait for them to call!
Friday, March 26, 2010
The insulation in the basement requirement was one that Josh discovered about a month ago when he was researching requirements to finish the basement down the road. He asked the builder about it and the builder got all out of shape about Josh speaking to the township about the house. The builder said we didn't need insulation in the basement to meet code because they meet that criteria through an overall house insulation factor, an alternative to the basement insulation rule. Then, when it showed up on the inspection, Josh wanted to say, "I told you!"
At this point, the house is done. The cement is poured and the deck is built. We are waiting for the builder and the inspector to figure out the insulation issue. Once that is settled, we can move in. I just don't know when that will be. This afternoon? Monday? Next Friday?
Meanwhile, I am cleaning and packing at the rental house. (Actually right now I'm taking a break!) An important goal we have at this point is to be out of our rental house by Wednesday-the end of the month to save us another month's rent. We recently discovered we need an additional $2500 for our retaining wall. We hadn't planned on that cost, so we really don't want to pay another month's rent when we obviously need the money for that wall!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The carpet installers came out today (Sunday) and finished it up. We've been pleasantly surprised by subs who work on weekends to finish the job a few times now! We put down some of that sticky backed plastic over the carpet on the major walkways to protect it from dirty feet. Which brings me to mud. Not just regular mud, but the oozy, sink up to your ankles, get your boot stuck mud. The kind of mud that actually has an odor to it--not a pleasant one.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Inside, the flooring installers have installed the vinyl flooring in the 2 bathrooms and are working on prepping the kitchen/dining/laundry/foyer floors for more vinyl early next week. Once the floors are done, the cabinets will be installed. They have all been delivered already.
We're getting close! I've purchased window treatments for the essential windows for now. I've also got the stools for the island and all the appliances.
We can't wait to get all our own stuff out of storage. It's now been nearly 5 months since we've slept in our own beds, sat on our own couch or eaten on our own dishes and we miss it all! Hopefully it won't be too much longer!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I wish someone would come back and work on the siding. It's not been touched in 2 weeks! (It's not a sub--our actual builder's crew is doing the siding.) So, siding's still about 25% done.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Living room and half wall to basement.
Back of the house!