Monday, December 29, 2014

Photo Challenge Fail

So, I failed my photo challenge. 
There was just no way I could keep up with the frantic rush of the Christmas season, 
the multiple illnesses the Brat Child had, 
my own health issues, 
the dog's ongoing mystery illness, 
the cat's UTI, 
normal life and all its demands,
 taking specific photos 
and blogging. 

So, here are the photos I did take:
 Ok, so I didn't take this, my sister did 
(that's her front and center with me to the left, 
my mom to the right and my daughter in the back), 
and it was taken on Thanksgiving, 
 but it was going to be my photo for "Family".
 This is Bailey getting one of her regular baths with medicated shampoo.
Since August, Bailey has had a mysterious skin issue where she looses her hair
and scratches until she has open sores which then develop into skin infections.
We are on possible diagnosis #3: food allergy. 
I now get her meds at the Pharmacy-
the name reads "Bailey J. dog of Jamie"
 This is Gibbs the cat.
Here he is shown playing dead 
waiting for an unsuspecting Vet Tech to enter the room
so he can attack them.
He went from love bug to rabid jaguar in 6 seconds.
After attacking the tech and me, 
he prowled the room continuously
hissing and growling and swiping at whatever got in his way.
He had a UTI, easy enough to fix with pills.
Ever try to give a rabid jaguar pills?
 This is Gibbs hiding from getting his pills.
He learned to keep the pills in the side of his mouth
so I thought they had been swallowed,
then he's spit them out in the hallway.
Now I crush them up and mix them with canned food.
So far he doesn't suspect.
 A photo from Valley View Farms in Baltimore.
It has every ornament imaginable
even some you can't imagine.
 Christmas Day and the Brat Child with one of his favorite gifts.
 A shot of one of my favorite gifts- the game Quelf.
If you want a night full of hysterical laughing,
play this game.

So those are the photos I managed to snap this month.
Will I manage to do the January Challenge?
Who knows.
I'll make an effort, but I'm not going to make it seem like a chore
or worry about getting it done.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Photo Challenge

#6 Shopping- 
not that I got much accomplished 
since I had both Big E and the Brat child with me.
Neither one is keen on shopping.

#7 Bright. 
No explanation needed

#8 Ornament-
This is my flying pig ornament.
The pig is actually an example of Scherenschnitte
which in German literally translates to "scissors cut".
It's the art of cutting paper into decorative designs.

#9 Something You're Reading-
Picked this up at REI (my new favorite store)
in order to learn some things for the big hike in October.

#10 Wrapping Paper

#11 Green

#12 A Beautiful Sight
Our church Christmas tree-
not only is it beautiful, but so are the handstitched Chrismons
and the fact that the Brat Child was so thrilled to help in the decorating.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Photo Phriday (on Monday)

I'm a slacker, I know, but things get hectic and time disappears and suddenly 
it's Sunday night and you're laying in bed and you realize 
that you never blogged the photos on Friday like you intended.  
You also realize you forgot to do something with the Elf on the Shelf- 
who is really the Elf on the Top of the Refrigerator 
because that's where you toss him after each day's shenanigans.  
But despite this, you stay in bed and channel Scarlett O'Hara 
and decide to worry about it tomorrow.
So, here are the first 5 photos, 
and I promise I'll get back on my designated schedule
(like there's anyone out there reading this and disappointed I didn't blog on Friday)
Day 1: My View
(outside my office)
Day 2: Favorite Holiday Movie
(Miracle on 34th Street- actually Big E's favorite)
Day 3: Red
(Our family ornament at church)
Day 4: Joyous
(The first married couple Christmas tree)
Day 5: Today's Temperature
(It's really just rain and extreme fog but looks as cold as it was)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Something New

With the holidays breathing down my neck and snapping at my ankles nearly upon us, 
free time is nonexistent and stress in over abundance 
both of which make blogging 
or having any kind of coherent thought nearly impossible.  
So I'm going to attempt this photo a day challenge:
Every Friday will be "Photo Friday" and I'll post the photos from the week.  
I'm hoping I can get Big E and the Brat Child to take photos too, 
and if anyone wants to join along and share, email me your pics and I'll post them on Fridays. 
Let's try to make this month about fun things and enjoying the season
instead of screaming and ripping our hair out

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Feelin Hot Hot Hot

I got the new electric chicken water heater
set up just in time last night.
Our high temperature today is in the 20's.
That's Fahrenheit.
It seems to be doing its job
and keeping the water from freezing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday

My first flock of pullets.
Today I only have 2 of the original 6 pictured above:
1 of the Buff Orpingtons 
and the Araucana.
I miss my Barred Rocks.
Might just need to get a couple more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cat and Dog Games

 This is Templeton.
He is one of two barn cats.
I saved him from certain death when he was a kitten
(someone was going to give him to their dog as a play toy)
Templeton has attitude.
He only pays attention to you and allows you to give him attention when he feels like it.
And he enjoys messing with Bailey the chocolate lab.

 Bailey is in the background,
leash looped over a fence post while the humans take care of feeding the horse.
Templeton is perched on the log by the barn door
pretending not to notice the dog.

 But then he looks at Bailey to make sure she's watching
while Templeton rubs up against the door.
He's also been known to sit perched on the bow of the old boat,
closer but still just out of reach.
It drives Bailey bonkers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Chickens

 The girls were out and about for a bit this evening.
They were thoroughly enjoying the piles of compost 
that were heaped in the garden.
Nothing makes these hens happier than a nicely aged manure.

 They haven't been allowed to roam as often or as long as usual
because my mom saw the big fat fox sitting by the coop.
 I spent the last nice weekend getting the coop ready for winter.
Basically that means a good cleaning and
covering the run in plastic sheeting.
We get a lot of wind on the hill and the plastic gives the girls protection from that.
It also helps keep out moisture.
I leave the door uncovered for ventilation.
When the inside door from the coop to the run is left open during the day, 
there's a nice flow of air through there that is usually enough.
But if more ventilation is needed, 
the plastic allows me to cut holes where needed. 
 We did discover an area where the local fox seems to be digging.
The hens were scratching around on the inside, 
but the area of missing grass outside leads me to believe something is trying to work its way in.
I never did anything about burying wire under ground and up until now, it hasn't been an issue.
So my brother put a stake in the area,
and I found a scrap piece of chicken wire and some large rocks
to completely block it off.
There are some make shift barriers around the perimeter now
that will hopefully keep the hens safe until spring
when I do what I knew I should have done in the first place
and bury some wire to prevent things from digging under the coop.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Black Gold

 Recently, Big E and I managed to get the garden weeded 
and tilled and ready for the winter.
We have a large pile of straw mulch and weeds that need to be burned 
(to hopefully kill off some of those squash bugs that lived among them)
but other than that, it's all good to go.

 We also began carting wheelbarrows full of composted manure
up the hill from the barn to the garden.
(and after pushing a few wheelbarrows full I realize we have a crap ton lot of work to do to get in shape for the 40 for my 40th)
It's black gold.
We're hoping this helps with some of the issues the garden was having this past growing season.
We had a great year the year before, but this year was less than stellar.
I blamed our lack of fertilizing.
(Not to mention we had that little thing called a wedding to plan)

There's about 3/4 of the garden left to fill with all that warm composted fertilizer
and once that's done,
we plan on covering it with black plastic.
I've been told the black plastic will heat up and kill off bugs and weed seeds.
At the very least it will help the soil warm up in the spring 
so perhaps I'll have quick germination for those spring veggies.
Now we just have to wait out the winter...

Monday, November 3, 2014

40 For My 40th

Lately, I've been in a funk.  Maybe it's the stress of life, maybe it's the realization that I'm living the last year of my 30's and heading straight for 40, either way, I haven't been able to shake it.  It occurred to me that perhaps I needed a goal.  Perhaps I needed something to work towards- something that would be a pretty significant accomplishment.

Years ago, I had it in my head that I wanted to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.  Really, I'd love to do a thru hike (hiking the entire AT from Georgia to Maine) but that's a 6 month trip and not realistic for a working married mom.  But a section hike- that's possible. 

But the years came and went, and I got busy with other things.  I never forgot about that idea, but it just seemed like something that wasn't going to become reality.  There's always an excuse not to do something- the gear is expensive, I'm not in shape and getting in shape is hard.... but then, after turning 39 and feeling like I hadn't really accomplished anything (and coming across a list I had jotted down of things I wanted to do before I was 40- none of which I've done) the thought of a hike became something I thought about regularly.

I decided it seemed fitting to hike 40 miles for my 40th birthday.

Still, I hadn't really actually planned anything.  I just decided in my head that I should do it.  So this weekend during a trip to Bass Pro Shop, the plan was hatched.  While looking at camping stuff with Big E, I mentioned how I'd really like to actually go on the backpacking trip I had been talking about (since before I met him) instead of talking about it.  He agreed.

So, we have a little less than a year to get into shape and get our gear ready for the 40 for our 40th. 

I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


 One of our best crops this year
was carrots.
Because of our rocky soil (as evidenced in the above photo)
we never tried carrots after our first attempt
produced very small and extremely deformed carrots.
But when the 8 year old showed an interest in growing some
(I thought he might eat them, silly me, he just wanted them for his rabbit)
I figured what the heck.
The results were so good
we have plans to plant more next year.

 I used 2 different ways to can them but they both start with washing the carrots
 Peeling the carrots.
and cut the carrots.

To can regular carrots
(That is to say just carrots and water no fancy recipe)
boil a pot of water.
Add cut and washed carrots to the water.
Bring back to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Fill your jars with the carrots leaving 1" of headspace.
Use the water the carrots were cooked in to fill the jars.
Make sure you have that 1" of headspace.
You can add salt now- 1tsp for quarts 1/2 tsp pints.
I choose not to use salt.
Remove bubbles, wipe the rim
and process at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 min for pints, 30 for quarts. 
 I also canned some glazed carrots.
You will need:
6 1/2 -7 lbs of carrots
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
Cut and wash your carrots per usual.
Combine brown sugar, water and orange juice in a pot. 
Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. 
Keep syrup hot and pack carrots tightly into hot jars, leaving 1" headspace. 
Ladle hot syrup over carrots
(make sure you  leave 1" headspace). 
Remove air bubbles and wipe rims. 
Add hot lids and rings. 
Process pints and quarts for 30 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure for weighted gauge 
and 11lbs for dial gauge.
Makes 6 pints or 3 quarts.

I'm looking forward to eating some carrots this winter!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Home Grown Carrots

Nothing tastes better than carrots straight from the ground.
Just ask Abby.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Buh Bye, Fruit Fly

If you have produce in your house, chances are you've had fruit flies at one point or another too.
They like ripe fruit.
They love fruit (and veggies) that are beyond their "ripe" point.
I recently had a problem with them because of a couple of bad peaches
in a bunch I purchased from the orchard.
Luckily, that same day, a blog I follow posted the cure for fruit flies.
(Find original post here)
So here's what you do:
Get a jar, cup, whatever.
I used a red solo cup at home
but I think using a 4oz quilted canning jar is nicer.
Put a squirt of dishwashing liquid in the jar.
Add about 2 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar to the jar.
Stir carefully 
(don't splash it up the sides, just mix it a bit)
Use a piece of plastic wrap to put over the top.
Hold it in place with a rubber band
or use the canning ring like I did here
(the canning ring works great!)
Use a pen to poke some small holes in the top.
I poked about 5 in there.
Set it somewhere where the flies can get to it.
I set my on the kitchen windowsill.
In just a few hours,
I got about 40 of those buggers.
(those small blackish specks in the bottom of the jar).
It really works!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

 Okay, so maybe it wasn't killer tomatoes
and nothing was attacking, 
but there were a lot of freaking tomatoes we needed to harvest.

So I managed to get 4 one gallon freezer bags filled with peeled tomatoes.
I freeze them until I have the time 
to work on cooking and canning pasta sauce.
And Big E made a large batch of salsa.
I'm sure we'll be making more of this 
and freezing and canning it.

Read how to Peel Tomatoes easily.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DIY: Magazine Files

Because I have limited space in my new place,
I have to make use of as much vertical storage space as possible.
So I had Big E install some shelves above the desk in our room.
But because I still wanted the room to look nice
(as nice as it can with the nasty paneling and ugly carpet)
I wanted to use magazine files to hide all the computer paper,
clip boards, binders, spiral note books and magazines.
Unfortunately the nice magazine files are pricey.
So I happened to find a way to make my own.
First, you need boxes.
The USPS is nice enough to offer them for free.
Just walk in and get them from the display.
You'll need to make sure that a magazine will fit.
I used 2 different sizes, one that just fit the 8.5 width of a magazine
and one larger that can hold binders and such.

Put your boxes together and tape them shut
just like you were getting ready to ship it.

Now it's time to cut the box to the right shape.
Measure about 1.5" from the front edge
and draw a line
(as seen on the left side of the box above)
then draw a line from the corner of the box to the end of the line
(this makes the diagonal cut)
Use a box cutter to cut along the line
and your box will then look like the one above.
On the inside of the box, tape down the loose flaps so they don't snag anything.
Then you have a magazine file.
But it's ugly.
I tried using wrapping paper to cover them, 
but was less than happy with the result.
Then I had an idea.
Decorative duct tape.
Just run the tape down the box.
I left about an inch on the ends to fold over the edges.
At the corners, 
cut the tape so that it lays flat and neat.
And here you have the finished product.
Because the pattern is so busy, 
I didn't really worry about lining it up 
and it looks fine. 
(I promise to take better photos next time!)