Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Morning at the lake, other stuff

A cool morning with a nice breeze. Win!

Still working my way through the "Couch to 5K in 8 weeks" app on my phone. Due to children and weather I am currently on week 5 when I should be done with it, oh well.  It absolutely amazes me that i can run for 8 minutes at a stretch now without dying. 

Hot, sweaty, probably stinky and suprised at myself. Who would have thought? Maybe this is my mid-life crisis.

I've started going to a local lake because 1) it's cooler 2) WAY more fun and 3) more private because, well, sweat (refer to selfie above)

This isn't even a hill, it's a small incline. Never before wished the world was flat.

Here she is, watching.

Something unexpected and delightful happened this morning,  I was actively followed by this doe. Running may not kill me, but by the end of the timed part it's pretty ugly. I think she was curious about the heaving panting noises I was making. Three times within a minute I turned around to see her a safe distance behind me, ears pricked, watching intently.  The sounds she was hearing were not unline a deer grunting.  She must have followed along each time my back was turned.

What else.

And there was a day when we were all climbing the walls and I sent them out to play. In the rain. I went too. No one melted. 

The oldest 2 and I slept out again one cool night.  It was nice to read by lantern light.

Not even sure where this book came from, found it cleaning. It was an engaging, easy read.  I would read it again. Yesterday I started the book Fight Club. Love, love the writing but it's a shame already knowing the big plot twist thanks to the movie.

Obligatory cat picture:


We were growing carrots in this basket.  It's now a cat bed.

Monday, July 5, 2021

July babies, summer

Mr. A turned 3 last week, very exciting stuff. He was certain that he wanted two things: frosting and a candle. Done and done! The cake was really fun to make, it's 3 small cake layers with a mini bundt cake on top. The center of the cake spilled out sprinkles and mini M&Ms when it was cut into. We had a small, fun, party with the grandparents and papa. There will be another with the cousins mid-month and a party for Mr. H's 6th birthday at the end of the month. 

This happened yesterday,  oops!

She has 5 perfect fluffy little babies. There were three other eggs in the nest that she got off of to take care of the hatched peeps. They are in the incubator and if they make it I'll slip then under her when she's sleeping.

We haven't slept out again, or actually left the property with the camper. I need to fix that. My dad found us this big heavy tire rim and I made a fire pit in front of the camper, very exciting. It's the perfect size to toast marshmallows. I need to get some plain bread so Mr H can make grilled cheese sandwiches using the pie iron. You can see my friends vintage Shasta across the street in this photo. She fixed up a 1400, which is the same one I had before buying the Metzendorf. 

Summer is in full swing, it's been very hot this year. We spend most mid-days inside the house. Our town had Heritage Days this weekend and Mr. H and I went to the car show and park with friends.

Here are the kids in these bubble suits, which is hilarious.  They could run into each other full speed and bounce into the air or roll away. It was great.

With the kids we didn't get to see many cars. Here is my favorite which was alot smaller inside than you would think.

There is usually a good turnout for the car show but this year there were *800 cars* participating.  Instead of just being along Main Street they overflowed onto all of the side streets and filled the small parking lots. It was so, so nice to see people out and life getting back to the old, pre-covid, normal. 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Walking a field

What a gorgeous day.

Yesterday my dad and I spent the morning together for a belated Father's Day.  Dad and my husband have been building a playyard for the kids out in our yard so I've seen him every day but this was the first time we could get out when the field we wanted to walk was ready (plowed, disced and rained on). Looking for arrowheads and artifacts is something my we always did together; my mom, dad and I and my grandpa when I was younger. My dad and I still enjoy it. 
You just walk along carefully between the rows and look at what's sitting on top of the ground. It's a nice way to get outside and gives us a couple of good hours to talk. 

We did find one!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday morning

Last night was a long one, with a wide awake Mr. A and a miserable and teething baby P.  We all slept in.  When I went out on the porch this morning I found this,  a beautiful Rosy Maple moth. I also found that someone had dropped by our house and left a container of s'mores brownies on the porch for us.  A cup of coffee and one of those was my breakfast,  calories be damned. It was the most amazing,  lofty, chocolatey,  marshmallow-y, googey delicious treat I've ever eaten and felt like a big hug. So thank you to whomever left them.  Today is going to be a good day.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Well.... still here.

 Hello friends. It's been a long time since last posting, and thank you for your kind comments. Honestly, for weeks there I was just trying to keep myself together.  Then it seemed like there was nothing to say. But here we are with a fresh start. 

 Things are the same in many ways. And different in many ways. Nothing dramatic or terrible. But it's easier to get out of bed in the morning and I no longer feel like my days are a toe dip into purgatory.  The days are long and hard but there are also moments of joy. I had a much needed brunch with a friend today. There is a walk with another friend scheduled for later in the week.  When friends ask how they can help, this is what I need. Truly. 

My husband and I have been prioritizing time for ourselves since Mr. H. has been done with kindergarten.  Basically , when we can, I have an hour or 2 in the morning and then he paints in his studio after that. So.... I've downloaded this "couch to 5k" app and am at the park during the week. With earbuds in, and listening to a funny talk radio show,  I do not notice running for 2 minutes at a stretch.  Which is no chore to people like my sister who run 50 mile races. BUT.... and here it is.... I am 5 foot 6 and, wait for it..... 194 lbs. There it is. I am super fat. I blame this on Baby P., stress and too many cocktails. Trying to run, at any level, makes me a little less ashamed of that. Even if I am out there flushed and sweating and plodding around in a ballcap and sunglasses disguise. The park where I am going is right against our town "senior center ". Today I had a mutual "nod/wave" with another runner in his 70's. 

Good Lord let's change the subject. For some reason playing cards have hit me hard. There are so many decks coming out every day that are just gorgeous. I don't do magic or cardistry (yet) and only play the occasional game of solitaire but who cares.

Mail day! $20 of my "got cash for Christmas and stuck it in a Mason jar" money ordered this:

Don't get worried over the "stripper deck" on the lower right. I've learned it's the term for a deck of cards that has been cut in a specific way to be used in magic tricks, although for the life of me they all look the same. I will try to learn a trick with them to amuse the kiddos.

The kids. Baby P is *just* on the cusp of crawling and has been for days. Up on all fours, rocking back and forth, then dropping to his tummy to army crawl wherever he needs to go. There has been a lot of vaccuming. Mr. A is super polite, super sweet and very clingly. He has been enrolled in preschool for the fall. And Mr. H. has made a big mental leap since graduating kindergarten.  He just seems to see the world in a way that he didn't before. He is still deeply in love with Baby P.

The oldest 2 and I had our second sleep out of the season in the camper last night. We caught fireflies and Mr. A did not go bed until 11:30.

Honeysuckle and peonies.  The house smelled absolutely amazing. 

It's time to reinvent this blog and make it something more sustainable.  I have loved, over the past years,  being able to look back at what my little family has been up to at any given time. I'd still like to do that but no longer have the time for long posts (this one has taken an hour with interruptions). It seems like small "Facebook " type posts with a single photo might be what I am up to. It's better than silence.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

What we found in the woods


What a beautiful weekend. Especially after the suprise snow this week.  We are lucky that even after two days of snow and freezing temperatures the trees did not lose their flowers.  The oldest and I took a long walk out back yesterday.

We found some teeth and claws that I was missing from the red fox skeleton I'm articulating.  Very, very slowing articulating. 

We found this green Jack in the Pulpit. There is a little cluster of them. I was absolutely thrilled having never seen this plant before!

Morels are up! There are 8 groups of mushrooms out by the shed. I marked them with sticks because they are TINY. Must have just come up overnight.  Asparagus is up too, barely.

And we found this out by the back property line. Yep. 

I wasn't sure exactly what I was holding but a quick Google tells me it's a 9 mm handgun made in Croatia in 1999 and used in the Iraq War. What the actual crap.  The clip is missing. It was sticking out of a pile of leaves back by the old dump (apparently no one living here before us had garbage pick up. It's disgusting) I called the non-emergency police line today and two officers came out to tag it and ask some questions. 

So that has been our weekend thus far. A row in the garden has been tilled. The kids and I will put up a fence and plant snow peas tomorrow. 

I've been missing because this last couple of weeks have, frankly, sucked. It started two weeks ago when the baby fell sick over the weekend. Baby P. vomited for 8 hours straight, many calls were made to the after hours line. Then slowly the rest of the house got it. Hours of vomiting. All except me. Who was playing nurse, cooking, so much laundry and by Thursday night had apparently had enough.  My body reacted by having a full blown panic attack, complete with hallucinations before and after.  I've never felt that frightened. 

I had 5 more of these episodes on Friday.  It happened twice in a row in the morning when I was alone with 2 kids.  I ended up calling my dad hysterical and babbling nonsense until he came over. My husband came home from work. It was terrifying and left me disoriented. My PCP said I sounded exhausted, especially as there was a night where I was up with Mr. A from midnight until noon the next day.  She may have a point. I'm too old for this kind of thing. I now have a prescription for a PRN anxiety medication, am taking it daily  but am feeling mostly better. 

I keep thinking of a line from Charles Bukowski which is this:

I can safely say I've tried it and am ready to move on.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day. Here is hoping for some work done, some sunshine and maybe a nap thrown in.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Sap is done! Flowers.

 I finished up the sap, we ended up with a bit over a gallon. 

 Here is a video of the sap boiling for anyone looking at a desktop. NO idea why it doesn't show on mobile so here is a picture:

You can see that I don't use any "real" wood to speak of, just twigs and small branches that are fed through the holes in the cinder blocks. 

Every time you heat sap, it causes minerals in it to solidify.  This is called niter and a sediment that falls to the bottom.

Gross. Most people filter this out several tjmes through the boiling process but I have yet to try anything that works well and doesn't take forever. So I asked Reddit and found an old timey method of gently heating egg whites with the finished sap. As the egg whites cook they pull all of the sediment out of the sap.

It looks absolutely disgusting. 

But after skimming the egg off the top and filtering it through a damp dishcloth it had worked like a charm.

Maple sap is officially syrup when a candy thermometer hits 219. I pour it into mason jars and water bath them for 15 minutes for a shelf-stable seal.

So there you have it. When I think of the whole process,  tree to plate, it seems like a miracle. That these inconspicuous trees in our yard bless us with a year's worth of sweetness.   I cannot wait to make homemade maple donuts. 

The kids and I raked out 2 flower beds this week.

We have seen a few honeybees on the crocus, not  as many as last spring. In fact my dad across town lost all 5 of his hives over the winter. 

Mr. H is taking these roses to his teacher tomorrow.  

He picked out the bouquet today when I took him to the store. There was a bit of an incident yesterday where his kindergarten class was outside playing and were run up upon by a pack of three aggressive pit bull dogs. His teacher was nipped at getting the kids away and it was later determined that the dogs had already bitten someone else that afternoon.  The owner has apparently been located and fined. I wish I were joking.  So flowers are the least we can do.

Off to bed, morning calls early here.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

It's just another day


Kwazii's grant adventure lasted about 3 days before my dad called after dinner one night and started the conversation with "Hey, I'm really sorry to say this but...." apparently Kwazii had decided the best thing to do on his vacation was to beat up a Buff Orpington hen.  Repeatedly.  So I apologized and told him to bring him home. So he's back. Totally mild mannered and a perfect gentleman.

I think the trees are done flowing for us. Signs are: the world is starting to green, sap is barely flowing, yesterday I pulled a bucket and the liquid was yellow. Lastly, most of the trees are really budding:

Plus TSC had told me that they won't refill my propane tank as it is "expired" in spite of the fact that it was filled two weeks ago. So... today it rained all day but this weekend I'll pull the taps, store the buckets and finish everything on a fire or the stove. 

There was a day when, at 3 in the afternoon, I did not know what was for dinner. Usually that ends in enchiladas but we had no enchilada sauce. How hard could it be to make, I wondered.  Turns out pretty easy.

This is more or less what I did. We loved it much more than store-bought.

In other cooking news, Mr. A and I were watching the Mother's Day episode of Dora. Dora's dad was missing some cake ingredients so Dora and Boots went to find them. What is this cake, I wondered? Is it real? Because I want to bake this.

So here are the missing ingredients : 10 bananas,  6 nuts and 1 piece chocolate. 

Here they are in the kitchen with some other random ingredients.  Why is Dora's head so big?

Here is Dora with 6 eggs.

And here is mom with the finished cake.  It looks delicious. I'm sure this cake is pure fiction and I need to get a life.

My life right now is feeding, changing, wiping, cooking, washing, prepping, cleaning, repeat. Nothing happens around here. For the first time I'm having a really hard time coming up with conversation with people outside of our household. I have an hour to myself each day, max. Who wants to hear that the big thing today was *leaving town!* and buying shoes (shoes for walking, not sexy. Also size 10 wide) Or that I packed a lunch? Took a shower?  Painted my toenails? 
I mean, really, who gives a crap? 


My kids tell me every day they love me and for that I am beyond grateful.  For now that will be more than enough.  

Monday, March 8, 2021

Sap, cooking, reading and being too tired for a proper title.

The trees got tapped on the 24th. I hung 6 buckets, snapped one drill bit off in a tree. It's been very slow going with the weather, the bright side of that being I've been able to keep up with the sap collected.

With this classy professional setup:

A water canner on a propane base for a turkey fryer. It's ugly as sin but has been absolutely perfect. I set up where I can see it from the kitchen window. In this way it's been like a crockpot,  turn it and check on it but basically forget about it. It takes me only seconds to step out the door and top it off.  I have no idea how many gallons have been boiled down but the liquid is light brown now and wow, does it taste like sugar. Tomorrow going to be beautiful so I may move the pot over a woodfire for the day to get that smoky flavor we really liked. 

There's not much else going on outside. One of the geese has started laying a beautiful large egg every other day. According to my dad, Kwazii has settled in well and "wasted no time introducing himself to the ladies". My dad has Olive Eggers, Buff Orpingtons, Dominiques and Speckled Sussex hens. It might be really fun to incubate a handful of eggs and see what hatches.

There's really been no crafting aside from a few Postcrossing cards. This one was made for a woman in Germany who loves tattoos and is collecting handmade cards.  I actually have one of these old style bluebirds between my shoulders, it's funny, I hadn't thought about it a really long time. This might be my favorite handmade card.  Mr. H saw me drop it in the mail and wailed "NOOOOOO.... now I'll never learn to draw a bird! Why did you do that!" 

The Hound of the Baskervilles is getting started tonight.

I made the goal to read a book a month this year so instead of sewing have been reading Poachers, just finishing it a few days ago. It's another southern gothic type read full of beer drinking, cat shooting and unhappy relationships. Here's my Goodreads review:

Yep. The last story was a doozy. I had both cried and was thoroughly creeped out by the end of it. My wild imagination + the story of the mythical game warden Frank David has all but guaranteed I won't be fishing by myself for a long, long time. Stephen King wrote a short story whose title I can't remember about a young boy who meets Satan while fishing a trout stream.  If you mixed that Satan with Mark Trail back in his badass days you would get Frank David. 

Well. Moving on, involving fish ironically.  Store bought fish. 

Lent has been a lesson. I did great with the no meat/fish/seafood for about a week and a half until it occurred to me that I had been dizzy all damn day for days on end. Fish and seafood got added back to the mix and I've been experimenting with tofu.

This is just a crispy tofu stir-fry with a bottled sesame sauce we like.

Green beans, mashed redskins and salmon with ginger/soy glaze:

More fried tofu with a jarred Indian butter chicken sauce from Aldi. Chick peas, green beans. Homemade naan.

A double batch of these delightful things last week:

From Martha Stewart magazine.  Oh, are these good.

So basically you mix the first 6 things into a dough and chill it. Roll balls of dough in the coconut (we don't have finely shredded coconut here, I pulsed some in the Nutribullet) put on parchment paper cookie sheet and press your thumb in middle. I don't remember the baking time or temp. You let them cool, dip the bottom in chocolate, let that harden and add the jam (strawberry for us).  Really good with coffee or tea.  After the cookie sheet fiasco, I baked these on perforated pizza pans lined with foil.  My friend L has graciously donated an actual cookie sheet to this pathetic cause. I truly hate shopping.  This week I also broke my final remaining liquid measuring cup. It had belonged to my mom. It was a beautiful clear, ornate, depression era thing and I refuse to buy an ugly Pyrex one so have been measuring out liquids using, wait for it, one of Baby P's baby bottles. 

Which brings us to the obligatory kiddo update.

These were an impulse buy at Dollar Tree. Good Lord, best $2 ever spent. Mr. H and Mr. A had entire evenings with shark parades, shark fights, shark races. The day they got them Mr. A. fell asleep clutching the balloon's string.

Baby P has mastered the art of rolling. He is adorable with his talking and his big toothlesssmile. And so happy all the time. Easiest baby ever.

Mr. A. has mastered the art of being "2". Here he is today, sulking in the base of the lilac tree. Because I refused to let him climb it while he was holding a hand saw.  He's mostly really funny. Last week he grabbed my butter knife at dinner and said "I stab you!" in his little person voice. I mean, of course I took the knife off of him but then I did excuse myself so I didn't start laughing in front of him.

Mr. H is really coming into his own and loves being a big brother to Baby P. He and Mr. A do fight constantly but, really, the younger one starts most of it and Mr. H has the patience of a saint with him.

And that's all I know.

Actually,  one more thing. Yesterday marks "12 weeks before our final frost day" here so we will be starting strawberries under lights. I think someone also gave me a free package of cabbage seeds and the geese like cabbage so we will probably start those too.