Thursday, June 20, 2019

Chocolate sauce

I want to make a note of this because 3 out of 4 of us really like it.  The other person?  I stirred some of the chocolate sauce into a glass of milk and a certain small someone complained "This tastes like nothing! It's worse than nothing!"  Too bad for you, little guy.  The rest of us like it.  I think his problem is that it tastes like dark chocolate which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's this one from Allrecipies.

Warm until butter is melted:
1 1/4 C milk
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Tsp vanilla

Whisk in:

3/4 C sugar
1.5 Tbsp flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
tiny pinch salt

Simmer and stir for 5 minutes, or until you get bored.
Pour into jar.  Lick spoon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Who's eating our sassafrass tree?

I've been seeing this on the leaves of the sassafras tree by the driveway but due to a busy weekend (yardsale! rain! husband away for the weekend!) haven't had a moment to really check it out until today.

Something had obviously been nibbling.  Excited to find out what, I started looking on the underside of the chewed leaves.

And found this.  A dead stick? No, but it mimics one.  Best I can tell it's a purplish-brown looper.

Another looper caterpiller, along with this little fuzzy one we haven't been able to identify.

After inspecting them for awhile, we set up a tiny terrarium.

I think this is just a holding pen.  I'm thinking of setting up a 5 gallon tank with plantings so we can raise a couple of different varieties of  butterflies and moths at once in the house while supplying different food sources for each.

Also today I moved the young birds that were left out of the garden coop and into the main chicken yard, managed to lose a pheasant, moved a hen with chicks back to the main coop and cleaned the garden pen in preparation for installing the 2 remaining ducks out there tomorrow.  However, I've also pulled my lower back quite badly so we'll see how I feel in the morning.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Doors around town

I have a bit of a soft spot for old doors and like to creep around taking pictures of them. God only knows what strangers who see me doing this think. 

 We do have some beautiful doors in town.  Anyone local want to guess where these are from? All in Greenville proper.

This is my favorite one.

That archway was probably a window once.

I love the old blue doors.

And old buildings.  Lucky this town is full of them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Days in pictures

An odd free moment spent dorking around with one of my vintage typewriters.

Space party at the local library.

Historic rains one day last week. We had downpour for hours and there is a river running down the driveway.

Visiting with a chinchilla at Agway.   We were told that this little thing is so used to customers and treats that he rushes to greet people.

We were at Agway buying a beta fish and supplies for this:

The tackiest fish tank ever.  Yes, there is a snail named Gary.

Found a small garter snake in the garden.  We put it back after watching it and holding it.  My husband says we have a very big milk snake living by the garage but I haven't seen it yet.

Bee brought home a young flying squirrel one day.  We had no idea they were even on the property. 

Peas and rhubarb.  The garden is looking fantastic this year. 

So are all of the plantings on the porch.

I found a really nice sundress at the resale shop downtown.  It lets me pretend that I'm Kate Winslet in a movies set in the 1950's, perhaps Wonder Wheel with a little less crazy.  OK, on second thought maybe not Wonder Wheel. 

There was a birthday with rum cake.

And the little one has started to take a little shaky step to get from one place to another.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Weekend, crayons & fishing derby

I was that weirdo in my car taking pictures of strangers cattle today. It was just a really pretty scene.  

It's been a fun weekend.  Yesterday we had two parties to attend in the neighborhood; the neighbor's 6th birthday party (pirate themed, lots of fun) and a neighborhood block party. It was a really nice day and we had fun getting to know some new people.  I showed everyone the photo of the coyote that had come through.  The oldest has made quick friends with the neighbor kid, they're both super sweet little guys and get along great.... put them together and the plotting and planning of mischief quickly takes over.  It's adorable.

The kids and I made oven crayons today by taking the papers off of all of the broken ones crayons, chopping them smaller, filling a mini muffin tin and baking them. Sure, a pack of new crayons is less than a dollar but this entertained everyone for a full hour, myself included. There is something really satisfying about snapping crayons into tiny pieces.  My mother used to do this all the time with us when we were little.  I always thought it was thrift but now I suspect it was just that it got both of us kids to shut up for a good chunk of time.

We sorted then into solid color groups and made some rainbow ones with the leftover pieces. We added some glitter to those. 

Sprayed the pan first, 275 for 10 minutes.


Later in the day the oldest and I went to a kids fishing derby for Relay for Life. There were probably 100 kids or more fishing. We didn't catch a single thing. After casting his line about three times he was pretty much done with it and on to obsessing over the cupcake stand. So we got a cupcake and a drink and just enjoyed ourselves. We had brought a net with us and found some water strider insects and this, the biggest aquatic snail I've ever seen:

If we would have been anywhere else this thing would have come home with us for fish-tank observation but as it was we put it back. 

It was so, so nice to spend some time with my oldest just the two of us.  Sometimes I really miss those days when we had undivided time together.  Although today I did jokingly question if he was my child.   The order of things he was interested in went as follows:

Cupcake stand
Port-a-potty (he's never been in one)
Gummy fish
Introducing himself to strangers
Lying on a blanket
Talking about dragonflies
Talking about bugs
and..... finally... fishing.  Waaaaay down the list.

Then we came home and used our new crayons.

There were two things that happened over the weekend that caught me off guard.  One, at the neighborhood party the gentleman hosting used to work at the same place as my mom but retired opened with "How are your parents?" (Well, my dad's great and my mom died four years ago... so....)
Second, at the derby today the woman signing us in greeted me with "Oh, I had dinner with your parents yesterday!"  (Was a psychic involved?) She meant my in-laws but it still threw me off and the whole conversation was awkward.   I'm not trying to be sensitive, it was just bizarre.  We live in a small town and these conversations never happen - two in one weekend?  I mean, what are the odds?

  • My husband put up two swings in the maple tree out by the shed for the kids.  They are both overjoyed by those swings.  We had spent all spring looking at pre-fab swing-sets but 1) we don't have time to build one 2) they seem boring 3) I got on Pinterest.  There are so many fun things to make that the kids will love. And I do love me some crafting.  We're planning a little playground area out there filled with a slide, music wall, swings and a climbing dome.  I bought some cement pavers from Wal-Mart and am making a painted hopscotch pathway.

The "what on earth do these peanuts plants remind me of?" mystery has been solved.  It was bothering me so I just started googling pictures of wild legumes and found this:

Crown Vetch.  We have the pink and yellow ones here.  They're legumes, related to peas and yep, most of the plant is edible.  

Other fun things have been going on so the next post will be lots of pictures.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Growing peanuts part 1

We're officially growing peanuts. 

That title really makes it sound like we know what we're doing.  We don't.  But we are having a lot of fun.

My grandpa grew peanuts in his garden when I was little.  This was years and years ago... probably like 30 years ago.  I remember helping him pull the plants up and being shown how the peanuts grew in the ground and being mightily impressed by the whole thing.  Treats that grew underground? Who knew?  It was like a magic trick.  I don't know what variety of peanuts he planted (Grandpa was a very adventurous gardener and would save seeds from pretty much anything to see if he could grow them)  but I do still have a baggie of them that he gave me about 5 years ago  This was a man that never threw anything out.  

Suspecting that 30 year old peanuts wouldn't have the greatest germination rate, I sprung for a packet of these from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds when we put in our spring order. 

We're growing Tennessee Red peanuts.  When we opened the packet I was a little disappointed to see how few pods there were but then we started shelling them.

Or rather he did.  There's a new rule around the house called Don't do anything that the oldest is capable of doing for you/learning about. He shelled all of the peanuts, insisted on washing and drying the shells and then we counted the peanuts together.  There were 50 seeds.

We wanted to give them a head start on the growing season so the next day we got out some supplies, he planted all of them and we put them under lights.  We talked about how peanut plants grow. This was May 10th I think.  They germinated really quickly.

Here they are in the tray before we planted them out.  The leaf pattern is driving me crazy because they look so much like a wild flower I've seen somewhere but can't remember the name of. Does anyone know the plant in thinking of? I'm wondering if the two plants are related.

The root systems look really good.

I have no idea how big a peanut plant grows so we spaced them out like peppers.  There are about 45 plants out there.  The world's smallest peanut farm.

This picture came from The National Peanut Board website a site which would have been helpful to know about before we started this whole adventure, but what fun would that have been?

. When the peanut flower is fertilized it grows something called a peg with the baby peanut on the end of it.  The peg grows to the ground  where the baby peanut buries itself under the soil and continues to grow.  At the end of the season you pull the plant, shake it off and voila! Peanuts!  At least that's the plan.  One can assume that regular weeding is pretty important in the process and God knows I'm no good at that.  The idea is that this weekend we'll go out there with cardboard and grass clippings and mulch around the transplants.  Then when the pegs appear I'll pull the mulch up so they have clear ground to bury themselves in.

We're very excited about it all.  To be continued...

Friday, June 7, 2019

Another happy chicken mama

Taken this morning.  You can't tell but that's a happy chicken face.

My old red ranger hen went broody about two weeks ago.  She was very serious about being a mother and was absolutely glued to her nest.  The thing is; we don't have a rooster anymore.  Since losing Nigel in the spring, getting rid of the devil booted bantam and finally losing Rocky to a coyote we are without a man out there.  Ladies don't really care, honestly.  But it doesn't make for fertile eggs.  So this little lady was sitting on eggs that weren't ever going to hatch. 

Enter the stork.  I posted an ad on Craigslist for day old birds but none showed up.  So I found a woman on Craigslist with older chicks for sale and asked if she had any young ones.  She did. 
$20 later:

Two Lavender Orpingtons, a laced Wyandotte and blue Cochin bantam.  I can't believe I forked over $20 for 4 chicks that will probably just get eaten by a coyote at some point but it was worth it.  It was so much fun to go out last night while she was sleeping and slip the babies under.  And then see her happy chicken face this morning.  Looking back through the blog I see that this hen is 3 years old and a good mom.  I really need to put a leg band on her.  She, along with my bantam hen mama, get full retirement plans and can stay here until they die of old age.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Best dinner idea, thanks!

Last night I made a recipe I saw over at Schoonover Farm Blog.  It was for Swedish Dill Potatoes.  We've never had anything like it and it sounded fun and interesting.  Plus, a good way to use up the potatoes we have in the kitchen now that volunteer plants are all over the garden.  It seems like I always miss a full dozen potatoes when I dig them up which works out - It's like having perennial potatoes!  I added meatballs and some mushrooms to make it a full dinner.  

It was unbelievably good.  My husband, while we were all having seconds, said "Wow, thank you for making such an incredible dinner".  I told him to thank the lovely folks at Schoonover Farm.   The only thing we'd do differently next time was to make sure we had some crusty bread on hand to soak up the Bechamel sauce.  Bechamel is basically butter suspended in whole milk.  It's as indulgent as it sounds.

Now I can't wait for a cold rainy day to make the Swedish Kalops too.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Gettin' fat on doughnut French Toast

For those times when you want to get really fat, this is what I suggest:

Collect some doughnut scraps from the kitchen.  Preferably the kind made by the Mennonite ladies up the road that probably fry them in lard.  Grease a pan with butter.  Arrange the doughnuts pieces with some fruit for form's sake.  

Mix a big goose egg with half & half, pour over the doughnuts.

Cover and refrigerate over night.  The next morning bake at 400 for 25 minutes. 

To ensure you're not EVER going to wear a bathing suit this summer, go ahead and pour some homemade maple syrup on top. Enjoy.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Life is good

My children are more or less occupied. 

My husband is tilling more garden rows for me.

Yoga today, then buying plants at the greenhouse with both littles. Ice cream. Wine . Lounge chair. Best evening ever.