Tuesday, December 29, 2009


How can a south wind be so bitterly cold? It made my face hurt just bringing the dogs in. I'm glad I got plastic up on my son's windows last week. He is in a southeast room and would be chilly tonight otherwise.

I got another present! The only gift I gave this year was to my friends, Michael and Carrie; they received knitted washcloths. Because I'm a novice knitter these took months to make! But that's partly due to my only knitting when I watch tv and I simply don't spend much time doing that. They gave me a book on green gardening. Two gardening books this year!

I've been watching a show, on my computer, called The 1940s House. I've thought about what it must have been like dealing with wartime rationing but this really brings it to life. The main difference from the show and what I've read is they're not dealing with the queues to get their rations. Still fascinating.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Snow !

As you can see, lots of snow but not much wind. The official tally is 18 inches.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas blizzard

The interstates are closed for the duration and we're under a blizzard warning for all of Friday. Saturday afternoon the snow is supposed to end but the winds will still be 25-30 mph. Sunday will be dig out day!

My son and I had decided to basically skip Christmas this year; we don't really need anything and wants aren't in the budget. Imagine my surprise when the UPS man dropped a box off in the garage (he never comes to the door). My sister had peeked at our wish list on amazon and sent R a years subscription to xbox live and me a book on year-round gardening! It certainly seems funny to be reading about gardening in this weather.

The power is holding steady, we've got plenty of food; the most onerous chore tomorrow will be taking the dogs outside. Stay warm and safe.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I know this puts me in the minority but I don't like Facebook. I'd much rather spend my time reading an interesting, thoughtful blog post than the little dribbles of information that are being dashed off on a wall. I don't need another site to play games, Pogo has more than I can use now. I've got co-workers trying to add me as a friend who are not my friends!

For me, it's become more bother than it's worth so I will probably drift away from it...and not miss the wall at all.

The Politician vs The Snow

This made me laugh; the governor and several top state officials flew into town to tell people not to travel during the storm. Yes, it's a big storm coming. Yes, it will be dangerous to travel. But, why was it necessary to use state funds to fly from the capital to another part of the state to issue a statement about the weather forecast? Seriously?

Tomorrow we are supposed to see the beginning of a massive 2-3 day snow storm with accumulations of 12-18 inches and strong north winds. It's very likely that the interstate will be closed on Christmas Eve and Day. If this system is anything like the prediction, I suspect Sunday will be the first time we get out again and that's only if the wind goes down.

Because I'm getting older, I suspect, this makes me think of other big storms. The winter I'm remembering now began in November 1996 with the worst ice storm I've ever seen leaving a solid 5+inches of ice coating everything. After that lovely beginning we were subjected to a series of snow storms but the winds were the killers. Every time the roads were plowed, the wind blew the snow right back on leaving 20 foot drifts in places. The roads around town were blocked for a week. No mail, no groceries, no wonder I over-prepare! Some roads were blocked for over 2 weeks. The tragedy from that winter were the over 36,000 cattle that died.

I don't expect anything like least not yet! I should have some great photos later in the week; that is, great if you like white.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Washing short hair!

Yesterday I got my hair cut; the first time in 15 months (how's that for frugal?). Last time I washed it, it reached well down my back. Today, it brushes my shoulders. What a strange feeling!

I went to a stylist recommended by a friend and am very pleased. If you ever happen to be in Sioux Falls in need of style, definitely check out Serendipity. I've noticed before that the purchases I have the most satisfaction in come from a salesperson who has taken the time to really talk and find out what I want and need. That is what Beckey did, a thorough discussion of what I wanted and what would flatter my face. Once we settled on the style, she found pictures so I'd know exactly what we were aiming for.

What is funniest is how many people don't look at me. My son and my parents didn't even notice!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Composting in the cold

What do you do with your compostables in winter? Last winter I just kept adding to the compost bin outside but this year I keep thinking there should be a better way. Our winters can be brutal and who knows when it will get above freezing could be months!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Home Alone

Friday night is date night for my teenager so I'm on my own. I'm definitely getting the hint of how the empty nest will feel. It's...strange. On the flip side, I wonder how my brother is adjusting to having another adult in the house fulltime after living alone for so many years.

Outdoors we are still in a deep freeze with no sign that we will rise above freezing in the next five days. I think that makes this a good time to curl up with a book and a cat (I choose the book, the cat chooses me).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A great Saturday

This morning started off with the buyers coming to pick up the elliptical. They were happy to get a good piece of equipment and I was happy with the cash and extra room in the exercise room.

This evening, my son went to get the mail where he found notification that he's been accepted to university!!!! I would do a happy dance but would probably embarrass him in front of his girlfriend. :)

On the down side, it looks like the snow is here to stay. Unfortunately, that also drags the temperature down and having the furnace running dries out the air. Ready for springtime, anyone?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trade in result

A couple weeks ago I heard about where I could get cash for cds/dvds. I went to the site and entered the ISBN number, whenever it was at least worth $1.50 I added it to the sell pile. Boxed up, shipped with Media Mail (the cheap way) and waited for the email. A few of the cds were in poor enough condition that they wouldn't take them, but I still got a value of $118 for the box. Today the check arrived!

So, if you're like me and all your music is on an mp3 player (and backed up on another hard drive) consider selling on some of those cds you never listen to anymore. If you happened to mention my name when they ask where you heard about them I'd get a referral bonus too. :)

On another topic: when you wait too long between cleanings, the guinea pig cages become a major project...and more than a little whiffy too. On the plus side, the mess that just got added to the compost pile is well on it's way to being decomposed already. Lol.

Julius, the alpha piggy, died of old age last week and left a hole in the leadership. Now Gus and Octavius are fussing at each other deciding who gets to be in charge. This, even though their cage is twice the recommended size for two males. Silly boys.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A gift!

What else can you call it when you're given a September-weather day at the end of November? Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler, but still not bad. Days like these make a long weekend feel like a full holiday!

On the shopping front: I was interested to see my little solar array was going to be one of the special deals on Amazon so I checked back to see what the sale price astounding $5 less than I paid! It looks rather more impressive since they show the original price as twice what they normally offer it for. Sneaky, very sneaky. Of course, it doesn't show well if they have to say "Check out this amazing 8% off Black Friday Lightening Deal!"

I now get to enjoy the proceeds of my trade-in videos with my new copy of Star Trek!!!

Live long and prosper, my friends.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buy Nothing Day?

I have mixed feelings about setting aside one day as a token 'buy nothing' day. In my journey to be more frugal and green, it is natural to buy much less than I used to and there are many days when I don't need anything.

The timing of this observance seems futile. So many of the Americans this should be aimed at are in such a peak shopping mindset on Black Friday that this campaign won't even be worth a passing thought. I know people who will be getting up a couple hours from now to drive to the early sales.

I won't be buying, but not because it's a special day, just because.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I just sold my Highlander dvd set on Amazon marketplace. Yes! More money on the credit card I'm working on. I was on schedule to pay this one off in March, but if things keep going like this maybe I'll get it gone a month early. It would have been done already if Chase hadn't played their twisty games with the minimums. Meeting their higher demands cut into what I could pay extra elsewhere. No fear though, Chase is next on my target list.

No new debt!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My weekend

Saturday wasn't the most productive of days, though I did make butter and tried a recipe for cheese and onion bread. Most of the day was spent watching season 2 of True Blood. I've read all the books but the show deviated so far from the original storyline that it's fascinating to see where they'll go next. Oddly enough, the vampires and shapeshifters are just part of the background, what is really strange to me is the Louisiana setting. It's like a peek onto an alien world with a completely foreign culture. I suspect that, like my own part of the country, you'd have to grow up there to really appreciate it.

Today has been busy doing all the things that should have been done yesterday. Best of all I made a great start on setting up our go bags. I'm trying to duplicate most of the items for each of us in case we're separated. I still have a few more items to track down, but it's getting close to complete. A short work week ahead then a four day weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Go bag

Before I start this topic I'd like to point out that I haven't seen the 2012 movie and do not believe anything special will be happening then.

That said; do you have a go bag? For those unfamiliar with the term, that would be a bag packed and ready to grab and run out the door with in case of sudden emergency. Examples would be flash flooding or wildfire, basically anything that makes it unsafe to stay home but strikes with minimal warning. Some people keep everything they could imagine needing including MREs, water, first aid kit, weapons...

Imagine for a moment; right now, as you're reading this, you get a phone call that in 5 minutes your house, your neighborhood, everything around you will be flattened. How fast can you get yourself and your family in the car and away? The go bag is supposed to take the pressure off of trying to grab things you will need when your adrenaline is up. One person said that after making a list of things to take, it took him five hours to find it all in his home.

Currently, I don't have one but since I've been reading the Posleen books again; well, let's just accept that this series makes me paranoid about alien invasions. :) I think this weekend would be a good time to work on my list.

Monday, November 16, 2009


"Spend $55 on fragrances and receive this fabulous makeup kit worth $340!"

Oooooh, they sure know how to grab me. After 10 months of saying no, it's hard to resist everything shiny, colorful, and so very feminine. But I don't need new makeup and certainly not more perfume so the email got deleted.

I think part of the urge to pamper myself is the mad rush to spend that grips the country during the holiday season. I'm going to indulge in a little pity party here because I'm human and I feel sad knowing there won't be any gifts for me.

No wonder people get depressed this time of year. We get our hopes up that this time it will be different but it never quite reaches the happy ending.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

plantar fasciitis

I can't talk about gardening because it's November and there is nothing to report. There will continue to be nothing until early spring and seed starting. Sigh.

Instead, I'll talk about feet. (I can just imagine the shivers of anticipation now!) For the last year and a half I've had plantar fasciitis in both my feet. Basically, the muscles that cross the heel are injured. Walking any distance or standing for a long time hurts. At night the muscle tightens, so walking first thing in the morning is agony. The cats have learned to stay clear because I tend to stagger. I thought it was getting better because I wasn't having the morning pain and it only bothered me if I overdid the walking, but it's come back full force.

My doctor's advice was to stay off my feet. Not really an option. I tried the night splint but found it too uncomfortable to sleep in. Different shoe inserts, heel pads; don't help. What does seem to make a difference: stretching frequently, never going barefoot and foot rubs. I hope that weight loss will be my most effective long term tool. I've also accepted that spending the extra money on quality shoes is worth it to avoid some of the pain so I ordered a new pair for work.

That's pretty much it for what's on my mind tonight. I will try to get back to posting regularly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Uhhh, I always feel weird when I'm so tired that I fall asleep early (7:30) and wake up at bedtime.

You are getting sleeeeeeeepy....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

And it's all gone....brown

My world has been painted over in all the varying shades of brown lately. From the deep, rich black-brown of disced fields to the palest beiges of ripened corn stalks, brown is the predominant color. Although I miss the vibrant greens of spring and summer, I'm grateful we haven't swung straight into glaring whites. The sad part is that we seem to have skipped right over the wondrous array of fall foliage. Somehow, the trees went from green to dead brown or bare branches without the normal displays of golds, oranges, yellows, and reds.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lessons passed by

On a recent episode of Deal or No Deal (UK), the contestant mentioned being sent to the UK in 1964 by his parents to get him away from the 'troubles' in Cyprus. My first thought was 'What troubles?' All I knew of Cyprus was that it's an island near Greece and a popular holiday spot for tourists. Now, thanks to the internet I have a very basic understanding of what was happening there in the 60s and 70s.

How come this wasn't discussed in school? Isn't more recent history just as important as covering the (yawn) Civil War four years in a row? I should ask my parents if they remember this. How much is happening today that we don't hear about on the news?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A fruitful weekend

Here is the result of Saturday's labors: 9 quarts of apples. A co-worker had an abundance and gave me a box full of tart apples. After passing some on to my parents, I got busy peeling and slicing. In the middle of the winter, I now have these ready to transform into crumbles and pies.

A batch of zucchini bread is in the oven now and the house smells delicious.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Crunching numbers

Now that the mid-month bills are paid I've worked up the budget for next month. It's fairly standard except the car insurance which comes due every six months hits in December so I'll set aside the $500 in November to have that covered. Really not bad considering that's also covering a 17 year old male driver.

It's hard to stay on track when I hit these frustrating times. I'm whittling away at the debt but not getting to see any paid in full. It really is human nature to quit trying when we don't get fast results. I won't quit, of course, because the one thing debt doesn't do if ignored is go away. It may take longer than I hoped, but that's better than going further into debt.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Introducing the girls!

They aren't too interested in exploring outside yet, but seem to be settling into the barn okay. I didn't get a rooster because they'll be living in town when I move them here. (Not that it's much of a town, but I still must consider my neighbors.)

I love the colors and patterns of their feathers and, of course, those awesome chaps on their legs! My very own hens.
I knew today was the last nice day we were going to have in the near future so a quick text to my boss over the weekend got me a day off. I finished clearing off the small garden and hauling the debris to the compost heap. Some digging, generous application of compost, and I finally got my garlic planted (all taken from this year's harvest). Lastly, I sorted the carrots. This was a bit sad because it simply was an awful year for them. The only good news: there are plenty of tiny carrots and greens for the guinea pigs. I still had to sort through and remove all the black walnut leaves and stems which the pigs can't eat.
Recently I was accused of being unsophisticated. Now picture me wearing my Robot Army tshirt and a ratty old gardening jacket, liberally splattered with mud and hands black with muck as I sorted the carrots. Not exactly cocktail party standards. Still, I'd be bored stiff at a cocktail party and I quite enjoy what I do, so it must have all worked out right.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Busy in a good way

We had nice weather! Taking advantage of that, I cleared out much of my garden, set up the pallet compost bin for garden waste and (exciting stuff here) bought hens!

They are lovely girls, 5 months old and very friendly; gold-laced cochin. I've been watching craigslist for young chickens that people won't want to keep over winter and these were only a few miles away. I don't have my coop yet so they will be boarding at the farm until I get that sorted. Pictures tomorrow. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our special friends

Isn't it amazing how pets know when we need support? I couldn't get to sleep last night then woke very early and had the same problem. My cat, who always sleeps by my feet, climbed on top of me and started purring. I could feel the tension melting away and finally got the rest I needed.
Unconditional love, with fur.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


There's been a confirmed case of H1N1 flu at my son's school. I hope the vaccines come here soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

and the .....

rain rain rain came down down down...

Just a bit on the damp side today. ;)

I went shopping after work today and bought food to tempt my recalcitrant teenager. He's been trying to avoid insulin shots by skipping meals. This is just one of those adjustment phases we have to work through; trying to keep the physical and mental health balanced. At the very least it's a reminder of what is important and where my focus needs to be.

Monday, October 12, 2009


My work desktop today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wedding recap

The wedding was great fun. I haven't been to one in over 15 years so I'm not sure what is normal anymore. The one part that seemed awkward was when they paused the ceremony to play a song over the speakers. And I know my face had a scornful expression when the pastor talked about a wife submitting to her husband. The reception was good. I got to see a side to some of my co-workers that I never would have imagined and my son dances like a wildman! The best man spoke for 28 minutes!!! and would have continued except the groom took away the mic. My son showed his sweet side by charming an elderly couple who didn't know any of the guests and were sitting alone until we joined them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Really snow!

Although it's melting, we may get more tomorrow. No real accumulations forecast though...which is fine by us.
There is something about weddings that makes me consider life, choices, and crossroads. I have no way of knowing where I would have ended up if I hadn't eloped twenty years ago. I do know I wouldn't be here with the son I have so there is no doubt in my mind at all that I chose the right path.

In the near future there will be changes; my son will go to college and become more independent every time I see him. This is supposed to happen and he will carve out his own path to follow.

I thought I would be taking a new path too. A chance to share a future of new experiences, adventures, and companionship. I may have misunderstood. Confused and disoriented, I want to shout 'What the hell just happened?' but nobody will answer.

Instead, I will put on the mask that tells the world that everything is fine. (I perfected this when my husband was drinking himself to death.) At least I have my blog now to release some of the pressure.

Dum dum de dum....

We're going to a wedding this afternoon. In honor of the situation, my son got a haircut and his first SHAVE!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


If you haven't visited Trauma Queen's blog yet I encourage you to do so and check out the link to his best posts. Today's ( was good for a chuckle...especially for someone of my advanced years.


This looks funny but I've got too many half-grown peppers to give up to the cold so I dug them up and resettled them in the basement.

There's something so pretty about onions. Mine didn't get very big this year, but I don't use a lot when cooking anyway so these suit us fine.

I finally lost another pound bringing my grand total up to eight. It does make it a bit easier knowing that not going on a food binge has rewards. I even got up and exercised this morning. My hand/wrist stopped hurting days ago so that was just a short-term problem.

I'm taking my son in for a flu shot today. I won't bother for myself, but I'd rather play it safe and avoid any complications from illness with his diabetes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

so messed up

Last night I wanted chocolate. Not just a taste or a piece, I wanted it all. Binge. Where others might drink too much, use drugs, or take risks to escape I eat. Yesterday was the moment when all the overwhelming, confusing and painful thoughts and feelings peaked. Is it an improvement that I recognized what was happening inside my head? I went straight home after work and watched a kids movie on tv (Zathura). Curled up on the sofa with a very large cat anchoring me down and knitting needles keeping my hands busy I was safe. I knew there was no possibility that I would drive 8 miles in the rain to buy candy, especially when I couldn't stand the thought of seeing and talking to people.

My big brother has a thick skin. I picture him impervious to hate, cruelty and unkindness. A modern superman. I wish I were strong like him.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I mentioned to my son that it occurred to me while cleaning the bathroom on a Saturday night that my life is a bit lacking in glamour and excitement. His reply, "Mom, the last thing you need in your life is glamour and excitement."

I'm still chuckling.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello, October

Something is wrong with my right hand/wrist focused between the thumb and arm. I could pay the $30 copay and ask my doctor about it, but I already know he'd say not to use it until it feels better. I've discovered that I'm basically crippled when trying to only use my left hand, so this is a good time to train myself to use the left more often. Even little things like the computer mouse are tricky!

October is here with a wet and chilly entrance. Over 2 inches of rain and a possible freeze tonight combined to get me to start the furnace for the first time. I've covered the pepper plants to protect them from a light freeze which should be the worst we face.

I still need to plant the garlic for next year and dig the carrots (a little too muddy right now).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not a good day

It's pouring rain...still. It could be worse; I could be one of the people who work outside or who need the crops to dry out.

An upset stomach morphed into a nasty headache so the times I would normally be the most productive were bad.

I keep getting twinges of pain where I had shingles last year...worrying.

On the plus side, my 55 gallon barrel arrived today. This weekend I'll get it cleaned out thoroughly and set up in the basement with an emergency water supply.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Just a week after my son renewed his xbox live subscription he got the 3 rings of death on his console...which is out of warranty...and would take 2 or 3 weeks to get repaired...and cost $100.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

All that moaning and I forgot to mention the good. I got a call from my favorite Glaswegian today. Although it's been months since we last chatted, you'd never guess it. Some friendships stay strong no matter how much time passes. You can see from this picture that when we last saw him my son was shorter...not now!

Someday he will reach his dream goal and move to Australia. Hopefully, not too soon. I'd like to visit Scotland again, but Australia...not so much.

Farms, future and past

The wind has switched around to the north and picked up speed. Leaves swirl around me like my own private whirlwind. It's been a weekend of recognizing that autumn is well and truly upon us; pulling out the air conditioners, closing up the polytunnel, bringing the onions inside.

There have been frustrations. Worst was learning that my parents refuse to even consider saving the barn. Their viewpoint is that they have no use for it (even though it houses the hens and turkeys!) so what does it matter if it collapses. My mother wants to burn it down! The most damning statement was 'if it was ten years ago maybe'. Ha! And just who was living there ten years, twenty years, even thirty years ago and never lifted a finger? Such bloody-minded complacency just staggers me. When I considered their track record I'm not so surprised. When we moved to the farm there were four sheds, a garage, and an outhouse that are all gone now. Soon, all that will be left is the farmhouse. Nobody who wants to buy a farm will look at a place with a house on a hill and no out-buildings. When the time comes it will be bought for the land and everything else will be bulldozed; the apple trees, lilacs, raspberry bushes, even the pines that have stood well over a century.

So why does this matter so much? The logical side is that, while it may not be cheaper, renovating the barn is the green choice. Emotionally, this is the heart of my childhood. I was never one of those girls who loved to be in the kitchen or playing with baby dolls. I was outside exploring, playing, getting bit, scraped and bruised. My roots aren't anchored in the house where I grew up, they're in the farm. My closest sister and I would swing open the door to the hayloft (the one that's lost the bottom hinge) and play with the kittens hidden in the straw bales. One year I shovelled out the entire barn, massive piles of manure. The paint that is left stops at that height because it's as high as I could reach.

The future I would wish for the farm? To be home to a young family of green weirdies, raising organic vegetables, a friendly sow called Cuddles with 13 piglets, a sweet-natured milk cow, a few daft sheep and lots of birds. It's a wonderful way to spend a childhood.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Deepening my pantry

There is something enormously satisfying about having a full pantry. It's been a fairly recent exercise for me to stock up and I'm sure to make some mistakes along the way.

My parents have a membership at Sam's Club and took me along last week. It was interesting to learn that buying in bulk quantities kept the price down by around 25% compared to the grocery store. I kept my purchases limited to items I know will be used and were practical--no huge boxes of snack foods. A 3 liter bottle of extra virgin olive oil, 2 gallons of vinegar, large bag of baking soda (that covers a lot of cleaning), large bag of walnuts (which will be frozen) are some of the items I got.

This weekend I bought a gallon of local honey. A gallon seems like a very large amount to me, but this is the only food that never goes bad. I wish I had bees, but for now all I can do is plant lots of flowers for them.

So, why the deep pantry? Although it's a terrific way to be frugal and prepare for financial hardship that isn't what motivates me. I worry that we (everywhere) are balanced very precariously in so many ways (economically, population, environment, resources...) that anything could throw us off. I was talking to one of my co-workers recently about having water for emergencies and his response was that if anything happened to the water supply he'd go buy this just the difference between people who come from farms versus city folk??? As if in that situation all the hundreds of thousands of other people in the city wouldn't be trying to do the same thing?

I follow the government recommendation for water: rinse containers with a mild bleach solution and fill with water. Refresh the supply every six months. I'm still working on building up a stockpile as gallon containers become available.

So, that's where I'm at. A lot of the people I know think I'm a bit nutty but that's ok. Normal isn't all it's cracked up to be. ;)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If wishes were tickets

Do you ever play the 'what if' game of winning the lottery? Someone posted about that recently and it made me think what if I did. Actually, I rarely buy a ticket; I get bored quickly when I don't win anything and don't think about it for six months or more. When I do, I'll calculate what the winnings would be after taxes (govt would take around 40%) and imagine what I'd do with that amount.

I don't play for the big ones, I can't even imagine having 80+ million and wouldn't know how to adjust to that. $100,000 seems like the perfect amount. That would pay all my debt, including the mortgage and leave enough for my son's college education easily. Even the $60,000 that would be left after taxes would allow me to cash-flow the tuition. Ahh, dreams.

Right now the lottery is built up to the point that the payout would be $570,000. This is where the imagination gets to run a bit wild. Solar panels for anyone in the family interested. College funds for my sister's kids. The barn roof!!! In fact, I'd have the whole thing fixed up properly. A privacy fence around my back yard so the dogs aren't driven mad by all the unrestrained dogs in town and the neighbors couldn't ride their four-wheelers and snowmobiles across. Have the well pump on the farm repaired. Maybe even a wind turbine for the farm; it would be the first in the county!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Normally when I'm feeling hard done by and overwhelmed by the bad I would turn to comfort foods. Not today. This time I've been working my ass off for the last two weeks to lose six pounds and there's no way I'm going to sabotage that.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Indian summer?

It's been surprisingly warm with more sunny days forecast. Having to water the garden this late in the season feels odd, but we haven't had rain recently.

I hope the weather holds out long enough to allow these black bell peppers to grow to maturity.

This dry, shapeless mass is actually my cilantro which I've been collecting seeds from for next years planting.

Something that keeps going beautifully, parsley.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The winter squash is developing nicely. Lots of these beauties out there growing away.

I love the contrasting colors between the marigolds and red cabbages.

Nothe the standard idea of a flower garden, but I put so much energy into the vegetables that I neglect the flowers. Since I watched an older Alan Titshmarch show, How to be a Gardener, I feel motivated to make it up to my poor flowers. I've been composting around the perenials so they'll get the boost in the spring when I'm obsessing with the seedlings.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


A beautiful day for a holiday weekend; sunshine, light breeze and very relaxing. My clothesline is full of laundry soaking up that sunshine and fresh scent, but the feeling of accomplishment today came from getting up and exercising first thing this morning.

I dug up the turnips and rutabagas. So much for seeing how well they keep into the winter - every one had been chewed up. The winter squashes are developing well. I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow.

Now, we're off to see GI Joe at the local cheap theatre.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weight loss

I've decided to lose weight/exercise (and it's not even New Year!). My goal is to lose 2 stone by the end of the year and exercise 5 days each week. I would like to lose a lot more but it will be easier if I can set smaller goals.

I normally take my lunch to work so the problems start when I get home in the evening. I'm tired, hungry and even with the best intentions will grab whatever is available. I'll then sit down and won't have the drive to get back up to cook something nutritious. Which means I'm going to have to be very careful not to buy any of those easy foods. Today, as my first serious day, I cut up some tomatoes (from mom's garden) to munch while the roast chicken breast is in the oven. Except...those have been eaten, the chicken will take another 30 minutes and I'm hungry! Grumble.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Feeling like Fall now

There's a decided nip in the air every morning. The horse chestnut tree has been dropping leaves for a couple weeks already, but that doesn't really count because it does that every late summer.

Things have eased up a bit in the garden now that the onions, garlic and potatoes are dug. If my tomatoes had produced I'd be keeping busy there, but black walnut trees put a stop to that early in the summer. Next year I'll have to put them back in the polytunnel. My late lettuce and spinach are still growing, but it's bitter and slow so the guinea pigs get all that. The one thing I have masses of still is parsley! It loves growing in the polytunnel.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where did August go?

Earlier this month I asked my boss to slip in an occasional vacation day for me to catch up on the home stuff...well, that obviously hasn't happened! Work is busier than ever. Weekends don't seem much better; yesterday was spent helping my niece move and unpack. Today I caught up on laundry, mowed the lawn and dug the potatoes.

Because I have zip for will-power (and it's worse when I'm stressed) I'm setting a small goal that will still be a challenge. This season I will not impulse buy the Halloween candy that calls me. Very hard because that stuff is at eye-level in all the stores right now! I met and won the first round with the addictive sugary stuff this morning when I went to pick up my son's insulin supply for September. Victory!

This is also the time of year when I have the opportunity to pre-buy LP for the furnace at a set cost. $1.22 per gallon which is much, much better than last year. Still, it's a guessing game as to how cold the winter will be and how much we will need. I think I'm going to go for 700 gallons. Imagine how much less it would be if I had solar heated water plumbed into the system. Forget the pumpkin coach and ballgown, if I had a fairy godmother I'd be wishing for practical stuff.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Checking in

We are still alive. Search parties not necessary.

It's just been too busy to focus on the blog. I haven't even had time to keep up reading my favorites!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Still more harvest...

This is my pantry so far this year. Lots of homegrown goodness saved up for the long winter. My mom also kept a pantry of canned vegetables in her basement. We never had much money, but we had enough to eat.

Recently I read a blog post that spoke of boiling canned veggies for 10 to 20 minutes after opening. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that because of course you would end up with overcooked mush. No wonder they didn't like canned vegetables! After being assured that this was recommended for all home canned items, I did some more research. Based on an average of 25 cases of botulism each year this is the recommended practice. Uh still sounds like scare mongering to me. My family has canned for generations without any illness. The pressure canner is designed to work at the same temperature and pressure used by commercial canning factories. Clean jars and lids, pressure canner with a good seal, appropriate pressure and time are all that's needed. If you are uncertain of canning safety, then freezing may be what is best for you. I will continue to can my harvest and enjoy a full pantry that won't be at risk when the power goes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leeks and other news

I took a stab at getting some more energy back into myself by going downstairs and riding my stationary bike. I want to do it again tomorrow but that will require a bit more dedication (getting up an hour earlier than usual).

Two weeks ago (!!!) I bought leeks at the farmers market. Because I'm a coward when it comes to trying new recipes, tonight found me pulling them out for the first time. I cheated and simply substituted it for the onion I normally use for this dish. Fortunately, I had put the leeks in a green produce saver bag and they were still just as crisp and fresh as when I bought them. I enjoyed cutting it up and separating all the little rings; no tears! Flavor: nice, subtle.

Question: how do you store leeks when you grow your own? Do you simply dig them as needed and when the garden season is over, that's it?

I've got diatomaceous earth (sp?) dusted all over my house. My son says he can smell it although I can't (which is a complete reversal from normal). Keeping a close eye on the flea situation...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Getting swamped

This may be a very rewarding time of year, but it's also extremely busy. Even with the garden in full production I still have my full-time job and all the normal upkeep of my home. I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. I'm going to ask my boss to work in a day off wherever he can spare me. There's just so much to do!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

beans, beans and more beans

This first picture shows the bush beans; low to the ground but prolific producers.

These are climbing beans. I've only got one cropping out of them so far but should see more. They're bunched at the top of the 6 foot bamboo support I built so it may need redesigning for next year to give more height.

Question: has anyone had this happen to their zucchini plants (courgette)? I had the same problem last year in the other garden. It strikes just when the plant is starting to produce well.

Next question: can I use cloves from this years garlic harvest to plant next years crop?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A day in the life

Sometimes my day doesn't get really busy until the evening. Last night was a good example. I don't get home from work until 6 p.m. A quick change out of the work clothes, feed the guinea pigs (gps), throw a couple hotdogs on the grill and head out to the garden. I picked the climbing beans, then the second crop from the bush beans, a quick meal and went back outside to clean out the dogs wading pool and enjoy a nice chat and cuddle with them while it refilled. Off to the farm where I collected the eggs, reassuring the turkey that he doesn't look THAT bad due to his moulting, inside to check on the cat and show her she is still loved, then back out to harvest my mom's beans. Unfortunately, even with the rain the night before they had gotten too dry and were limp and soft. I took them back home to give to the gps. Downstairs to start a load of laundry, realizing it's too late to start a loaf of bread plan on eggs for breakfast, fill the gps hay racks, online to solve the tanga puzzles, back downstairs to hang up the laundry, decide I'm too tired to write this post and off to bed!

About the beans: I was thinking the climbing beans were a disappointment because they took so long to produce but I've changed my mind. These are so easy to pick (no bending over) and don't get dirty when it rains; I'm going to plant more next year.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beets - blimey!

Beets (beetroot) is easily the messiest, most time consuming vegetable I've canned so far. I am absolutely knackered! And I only had enough for four quarts; imagine if I had planned for more.

First they had to be boiled until the skin slipped off fairly easily (seperated by size), skinned, sliced and packed in jars. Add two tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt to each and fill with boiling water. Finally, in the pressure canner for 35 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. What a relief when they all sealed. How frustrating if some hadn't! I'm still clearing up the mess in the kitchen.

Friday, August 7, 2009


A long week, a longer day. I've got a busy weekend planned; digging the rest of the garlic and digging and canning the beets.

We had hamburgers and fruit salad at the farm. I'm still working on trying to convince my parents that the barn is worth saving. A farm without a barn is a sad, barren, naked place. As bad, or worse than a farm with no life. Now is the time to act, before the cost of steel rises again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More harvest

I wanted to make a beef stew in the slow cooker today but I was out of potatoes. Obviously, it was time to dig up one of my Yukon Golds in the garden. Aren't these beauties? I'm definitely planting more next year!

This afternoon I went to check out the local farmers market. A lot of the produce is exactly what's in my garden, but it gave me a chance to fill in where mine is less productive. At the Hutterite table I got 8 large slicing cucumbers for $1.00 and a large jar of honey for $5.00. Another farmer had leeks which I've never tried. If I like them I'll make room in the garden next, what do I do with leeks???

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Even more special: this is the first garlic I've ever grown. So, now that I've dug it up, what do I do next? Should it be allowed to dry like an onion?

Today was a good example of why it's beneficial for me to work from home some days; I was so angry I was swearing loudly at the emails. At the office I'd have to bottle all that up and seethe.
I inadvertently revealed my blog to my parents! I've avoided that because on some topics we have wildly divergent views and I will not censor my opinions on my own blog. Of course, they may quickly become bored and stop visiting like my sister did. While this is multi-purpose, keeping friends and my brother updated and providing myself with a journal of my gardening; I mostly write as a way to give back to those bloggers in the UK who delight and fascinate.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More fun from the past

My dad and my son at a Twins game many years ago. We always went when they were playing the Yankees and they always won. That made the game even more fun.

I hadn't noticed until now what a tip the stadium looks after the fans had been eating and spilling all over the place.

This is about all I can manage for a post after a tiresome day of work and stopping at the store.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What do you hear?

An intriguing post on Mrs. Nesbitt's Place (archives): describe what you hear right now.

The fan is whirring. Guinea pigs are munching on corn husks and rumbling at each other. Filters on the fish tank splashing. Muffled explosions from son's room as the latest battle rages.

That's it. 10:30 pm.

Back in history

How is this for a flashback? My brother, two sisters, and me with the broken arm.

I don't know if I was sent as a trial for my parents or a notice that four kids were enough but I seemed to cause a lot of bother. Breaking my arm was traumatic even for me; I can remember falling off the horse (sliding sideways, no saddle of course). I'm glad I don't remember landing! My arm never did heal right and is still shorter and crooked compared to the right.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Canning corn

Today I bought 2 dozen ears of sweet corn from a local farm family. I wanted to try my hand at canning corn. It wasn't cost effective compared to buying canned corn at the store, but I'm trying to get experience with as many local veggies as I can.

I was waiting for the roofers to come get the rest of their equipment out of the yard, but since they haven't I'll just have to mow around it tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lovely day

I love these flowers. We've always called them tiger lilies. I'm not sure why since they're spotted instead of striped, but still beautiful.

This is the first one to bloom this year. I've tried sending the seeds to England before but they didn't sprout that time. If anyone would like to try again, please let me know.

Obviously, watching me work is a high-stress, exhausting business.

The final roof post

Ooohh Ahhhh! Completely, totally finished. I've even paid for it. Look at the shiny new roof vents! Ok, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

The gutters should work more efficiently also since it's increased the area open to catch runoff.
Some year I'll get solar. Until then, the roof is done.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


No pictures tonight since it's raining, but the roof looks great. A lovely soaking rain that's filled up the barrels and refreshed the garden.

My contractor will be stopping tomorrow to pick up his check. This is going to feel very strange after saving for months to suddenly have my bank account down to a pitiful amount. I know it's a worthy investment though. Not a cosmetic or luxury item, just something badly needed and now good for decades.

I would like to stay up and chat, but work has drained me and my eyes won't stay open.
Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This is a small portion of the mass of old materials removed from my roof. The roofer estimated that thousands of pounds of weight have been lifted off my poor old house. There were actually wooden shingles in the layers! I've never even seen a building with wooden shingles. I wonder if these layers have been added ever since the house was built back in 1935.

Here it is with a clean paper over the new sheeting. Tomorrow they will put on the shingles.

A little peek at the second cropping of peas, lettuces and spinach. Besides a tendency for the spinach to bolt, I'm quite pleased with the experiment. Will definitely plan on doing this again next year.

I picked a nice bunch of peas today and just finished munching on them for a snack. The shells were tossed to the guinea pigs as a treat. Yum all around.
Finally, I had to admit that the animals had brought an invasion of fleas into the house and I got out the foggers. It's a big job of moving the pigs down into the basement, covering the fish tank, making sure all the cats are out and clearing the house of anything that must be kept clean of the insecticides. Even when it was safe to return the pig cages had to be stripped down and cleaned so they would have a safe environment to come home to. The cats got another frontline treatment and we're done!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

My addiction

I love reading blogs. When I find one written by somebody who is interesting, intelligent, funny, informative...I feel like I've struck gold. And that's where the addiction (or is it compulsion?) comes into play: I have to go back to the beginning of their archives and read it all. It's not a hardship really; I love reading and can take my time. Right now I'm in May 2007 of Mrs. Nesbitt's Place. This is a treat because she posts lots of pictures and I can explore Yorkshire through her camera. Sometimes they visit places I've seen (Blackpool and the Lake District) and I get the pleasure of remembering.
Thank you to all the bloggers who take the time to share their lives.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Phew! Another long day.

I'm trying to think over what I did and figure out why I'm so knackered.

Laundry washed and hung outside.
Washed dishes.
Garden watered (emptied an entire rain barrel) -- this might be part of it. Lots of trips with the buckets.
Some organizing of the pantry.
Finances -- figured out what is going out in August and how much has to be transfered from savings to pay for the roof.
Farm -- another load of chicken compost and a chat with the parents.
Roofer -- discussed the schedule for next week and arranged for my son to work with them. He can always use the money!

It doesn't look too bad listed out like that. I'm desperately in need of a shower though. I had no choice but to use mosquito repellent; they like me too much. Tomorrow is supposed to be another hot one. Oh joy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The first addition to my pantry this season and it's not even from my garden. I received a grocery bag of green and wax beans from a gardener who had a glut even after doing her own canning. I'm trying to imagine just how large her garden must be!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One aging female

I'm going to have a bit of a moan about the aging process, so the squeamish may choose to skip this post.

Actually, the gray hairs don't really bother me and the 'freckles' on the backs of my hands I can ignore easily enough; the wrinkles on my face keep surprising me though. I don't feel all that old, yet the signs are there and more obvious all the time.

I'm looking forward to the end of monthly cycles (especially since my son is 17 and I have NO desire to start over with a baby!) There has been a slow-down; the longest stretch between cycles so far has been 13 weeks. Unfortunately, there's a negative aspect as well; when I have a long delay between cycles the next one tends to be extreme. I went through every pad (yay for washables) I own in one and a half days. No hot flashes yet!

There's probably a way to age gracefully...I haven't found it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ahh Torchwood!

It's raining tonight so I'm posting pictures I took yesterday. This is my second planting of peas lettuce and spinach for the season. Definitely experimental.

The zucchini plants are off to a good start.

If there ever was a show to make you look sideways at government officials (more than you already do!) it's Torchwood. Excellent episode. I can't wait until tomorrow night.
Work was normal enough but I really missed my nap.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 9

It's the end of my vacation and I'm ok with that. Having fun, relaxing, and accomplishing things all balanced out nicely. Tomorrow is back to more sleeping in!

I am a

What Flower
Are You?