Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloweenies

Just a quick post to show pictures of the girls' Halloween costumes.  I'm "supposed" to be paying the bills right now (BORING!)  It didn't get done earlier because I was on the phone with the Department of Environmental Protection, trying to get information about recent mining and drilling in our area to see if that could be the culprit for our well being ALMOST dry.  (Haven't heard back regarding drilling, but they have not yet mined under us.) 

My unexpected but long overdue Physical Therapy appointment for my sore back/hip left me more sore now than I was this morning, but hopefully now that I am getting the appropriate treatment, I will be on the road to recovery.

J's unanticipated visit to the Orthodontist resulted in the removal of her expander - just until Monday.  J is thrilled to have it OUT!

This afternoon, we drove to a friend's home to trick-or-treat with them, since no one treats out here in the boonies.  Then this evening, we drove to another friend's home for potluck dinner (I "made" KFC chicken.)

I must mention, since it's Halloween and things are scarey, the 'possum that JP dispatched out back on the veranda tonight (too bad you weren't here to help out, K!), and the flock of baby cockroaches that scuttled out of the package I opened a few minutes ago.  Ew.

So...now it's back to the boring bills.  Ho hum, and Happy Halloween!

L decided that after wearing her cute pink kimono
to school, that she wanted to be the "colorful"
witch again this year!

J is a racoon - really!  I swear that she has ears and a tail there somewhere!

 
Here's the whole crew we went trick-or-treating with!

Remains of the Day

It didn't take long for the dogs to sniff out the pile of left-over parts from the deer that my parents harvested over the weekend.  They were unattended for only a few minutes, and came loping home with huge grins on their faces, bodies smeared with greenish, foul-smelling muck.  I wasn't planning on giving the dogs baths last night, but we all agreed that it was mandatory!

We had no water Tuesday night.  After the girls got their baths and I had finished smearing pumpkin slime all over the kitchen counter and floor (from hollowing them out for Jack-O-Lanterns), a mere trickle of water dribbled from the kitchen spigot.  JP went out to the water station twice and emptied 400 gallons of water into the cistern, but we still did not have running water when we went to bed.

Luckily, the pipes and pressure tank filled over night, and we had water for showers and cleaning up petrified pumpkin slime yesterday.  Good thing the dogs didn't discover their "goodies" one night earlier!  Dad made several trips to the water station yesterday, and our cistern has been refilled.  I think it lasts both our households about 5-7 days, so we will have to keep hauling water until the Well Man can enlighten us on the problem with the well.

We borrowed the porta-potty from the tree house over night while the water was out.  When I returned it yesterday, I discovered cobwebs in all the corners and dead minions on the window sills.  I dusted, swept and aired it out, and shook out the rugs and blankets.  Now it's neat and tidy and ready for hunting season the Monday after Thanksgiving!

This morning, I tackled the van, which has been smelling suspiciously of sweaty soccer socks and stale french fries.  After basically living in it for the past 10 weeks, this is not surprising.  I vacuumed, polished and febreezed every nook and cranny, and while it doesn't have that "new car"smell back, it does smell much more fresh!

Today I am FINALLY going to Physical Therapy for them to work on my back, which is still painful more than a week after I injured it.  In addition, I have an emergency appointment scheduled for J at the Orthodontist.  Part of her hardware is dangling and dangerous!  After all of that, we have Trick-or-Treating this evening.

The final remains this day, will happen when JP & I "inspect" the girls' treat bags, and remove anything that we "don't approve of" to dispose of in any manner we desire...hint, hint, nudge, nudge, say no more.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blood & Guts

Today was butchering day on Poplar Ridge.  The egg laying up here is getting more pathetic by the week.  Yesterday we gathered 3 eggs - from a total of 22 hens!  They haven't stopped eating, however.  They go through 150 lbs of chicken feed and 50 lbs of corn every 3-4 weeks, along with kitchen scraps.

Ultimately, we decided that the 4 roosters must go, along with the 4 hens that have still not quite recovered from their nakedness despite all the goop and spray and aprons that I have put on their little pink backs and back-sides.

J had a serious problem with this.  (She happened to be away last year on butchering day.)  "You are just so MEAN!"  she cried.  "How would you like it if some bullies picked on you until you had sores, and then someone KILLED you just because you were sick?"

No amount of reasoning with her that chickens don't think and emote like humans would convince her that this was not completely unethical.  Not even the cold hard fact that we raise these chickens for FOOD, swayed her.  She flat out refused to help, so she was sent to work in the garden, pulling out cornstalks while the rest of us did the dirty work.

I don't LIKE doing this, in fact, I feel a bit bad offing these chickens who run up to me every time I go outside (I MUST be bringing them food if I'm coming outside, right?)  The girls and I especially have invested quite a lot of time and energy into keeping these animals healthy and happy.  I too, have to keep reminding myself that they are costing us more and more each day they are not laying, and that having some organic, free range chicken meat over the winter will be much appreciated.  I can understand why the Native Americans would thank the animal that became their meal for dying in order to sustain them - I am ending a life, even if these creatures only have brains the size of raisins.

My parents were busy over in their cabin today, processing a deer that my Dad harvested last evening.  They really depend on the meat that they can procure from hunting to get them through each year.

Even though we all have mixed feelings about this day of blood and guts up on our hill, at the end of it all, the jars of meat on our shelves, and the packages in the freezers are testament to the hard work that we do here and our part in living sustainably on this earth.

By the way, I saw a flock of Turkey Vultures circling overhead this evening.  They will enjoy the parts that we don't...so we are not the ONLY ones gaining here!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boob Job

A big group of us, who all work for the same employer, are having a pot-luck tomorrow to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, with special celebration for 2 women among us who are Breast Cancer survivors.  After tossing around ideas with my friend today, we came across some cute cookies on Pinterest.



Here is a sample of the big Boob Job I did this evening...4 dozen pink bra cookies are all ready to go!

Soup

I canned these things yesterday, and took a good look at them today.  Besides the ingredients for some yummy soup, what do they look like?

Chicken Stock, Horticulture Beans, Shredded Chicken




To me, they look like the culmination of a season of hard work.  I planted, weeded, picked and shelled all those beans.  I fed, watered, cleaned out the cage for, butchered and prepared that chicken meat and broth.

These jars represent a job well done, the chance to take some time this winter to relax, and, yes, they look like the makings of a delicious pot of soup.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Not Much to Say

There is not much to say this week. 

We are down to the final week of soccer.  J's coach recently texted an invitation for J to join her Indoor Soccer Team, which does not have practices during the week, but has games 30 minutes away every weekend for the next 8 weeks.  When I finally broached the subject with J, she looked at me in a horrified manner, and said "You didn't sign me up did you?"  When I replied that I had not, she responded, "Good!  I need a break from soccer!"

Oh, thank goodness...so do we all!

Not much happened this week besides the strange man in day-glo orange underwear who mooned my friend, K, and I at soccer practice.  Or the fact that Kali freaked out and nearly attacked J when she was in her raccoon costume.  I had to hold her back and get J to take her mask off before that crazy dog settled down! 

There was also Thursday, which was a very lovely after-school time with the girls.  Practice was cancelled because of cold and rain, so we got homework and music practice done, and sat together to read, and ate non-fast-food dinner together.  SIGH.

Mom is doing better all the time.

Our rooster pullets started to crow.

I had to work today, and it threw off my whole day.  I hit a wall after dinner, and was only able to pack PB&J sandwiches for the girls' lunches tomorrow.

I just nodded off there in front of the computer.  Gotta go...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pink Week

I've gone pink this week for Breast Cancer awareness month.  Medical Alert:  Get your mammogram.  Do your breast self exams.  Don't wait if you're worried about something...show your medical provider.  I raise my glass to my friends, N1 and N2, who fought and are fighting this disease.

We are coming off a long weekend.  One in which we declined to participate in soccer practice or music lessons on our days off from school.  It was wonderful!  This is not to say that we were not busy, as we certainly were, but we also took time for fun stuff!

On Thursday, a friend came for the day, and all of the girls joined a bunch of their friends to play 4 Square while I attended Parent-Teacher conferences.  Later, we baked cake pops (which we decorated as eye-balls on a stick,) wove rubber band bracelets, and the girls recorded another short film.

Friday was a rainy day, so the girls and I drove up to the city and visited the Science Center.  I thought I could overcome my fear of heights and try the climbing wall with L.  When I got 16 feet up the wall (barely over half way), my knees were shaking so badly that I couldn't hold on to the footholds, and cautiously rappelled back down.  We watched an Omnimax movie about the migration of monarchs - it was fabulous!  From the (very dirty) windows upstairs, we could see a giant rubber ducky floating on the river!


Saturday, the dogs FINALLY got haircuts.  Their hair was so long that Stella was looking sheep dog-ish with hair over her eyes.  Of course, after the hair cuts, they had to get baths and get their bedding washed...whew!  Thankfully, the shower in our Master Bath is now functional again, after the contractors spent an hour or so re-grouting and re-fitting tile, and I spent another 2 hours sealing all the grout and re-fitting the door.  Both dogs showered with me, which made it super easy!

Saturday evening we went out to our (new) favorite Indian restaurant with Mom & Dad to celebrate JP's birthday.  A group from a local Synagogue was also there celebrating something, and therefore our service was S-L-O-W.  During a lull in the surrounding hub-bub, J noted (quite loudly) "They're wearing Jew hats."  Afterwards, we came home for 5 Flavor Pound Cake, ice cream and presents.

Sunday was soccer day again.  Both girls tied their games.  This was J's last home game of the season, so I brought Mom along with me to watch it.

And now, we are back to Monday.  School.  Piano lessons.  House cleaning.  Rain.  The only excitement of the day was the beautiful drive that I took out to the orchard to get 2 1/2 bushels of apples for sauce.  They are cooling in the basement, waiting for Wednesday when I should have time to cook up my secret recipe of "Mommy Sauce."  Tomorrow I must head back to work...sigh.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Little Known Facts

1.  The average human produces between 1 and 2 liters of saliva daily.  That could explain why J slurped so much right after having her expander put in.  She is doing SO much better now - started eating "real" food again on Friday, slurping less frequently, and no longer screaming each time I tighten it.  We are over half way through the treatments with this thing, and with another appointment scheduled next Monday, we are hoping it will be out soon!

2.  Vermont is actually named after the Green Mountains ("les verts monts" in French.)  This is just to prove that old people can actually still learn new things.

3.  Men stop caring about how they look at age 46.  Today is JP's birthday...want to guess how old he is?  I'm hoping he spends a few more years before he grows the dreads and Z Z Top beard and stops showering!  (Here is the article, should you be interested!)  Ah, well...I think I'd love him even if he turned grungy!

4.  Magic Erasers actually have magic in them.  This is true...I've tested it myself!  It has now been more than 6 weeks since we have used the shower in our Master Bath.  We had some problems with leaking, cracking grout, and buckling tiles.  It took the first 3 weeks to get in touch with some one to look at it, and then then next 3 to get them to fix it.  In the meantime, I was supposed to clean the minerals from our super hard water out of the grout.  I honestly gave up on trying to keep it clean months ago, so it was looking pretty bad, but even after scrubbing it with a tooth brush and Lime-Away for almost 2 hours, it didn't look much better.  I worked on it with plain old soap and water and a scrub brush for another hour...still bad.  Today, with 30 minute's notice that they were on their way to fix it, I used up 2 whole Magic Erasers, and it looks pretty doggone good!

5.  Grass seeds have a better chance of germinating if you actually water them.  I know, I know, this is no surprise!  Unfortunately, since I did my landscaping around the pool, it has been hot and dry - probably the hottest and driest it's been all year!  I dragged out the sprinkler and watered 2 or 3 times, but somehow forgot to water what I planted in the front yard.  By Saturday, there were a few sprigs of green coming up every place but there.  After our down pour this morning, things are super green...even out front!

Just look at all that GREEN!

6.  I actually enjoyed soccer yesterday!  It was a really warm day, but the breeze blew through during L's game several times and sent great drifts of leaves spinning through the air like a flock of butterflies.  J and her teammates ran their little hind ends off in their game, but J was in the right place at the right time to kick a goal - no small feat, when their competition is a fierce as theirs has been!

7.  Breaking a mirror does not apparently cause 7 years of bad luck.  (Unless of course, there is some delay in the bad luck starting.)  I dropped my compact this morning, and the mirror shattered.  I was a bit nervous, since I had my big meeting with the CEO and Director today to discuss the fate of my employment.  Not only did they not downsize me out of a job, they asked me to work MORE hours!  Doesn't seem like there is any bad luck emanating out of my compact (although I'm keeping it closed...just in case.)

The day was pretty gorgeous too, broken mirror or not!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pumpkins & Cornstalks

Now that it is October, things have warmed up a bit...Indian Summer I suppose.  But things have started to gear up for the flurry of activities that come with the nearing winter.  J was invited to a Birthday party in 2 weeks, at which she was instructed to wear her Halloween costume.  Her Halloween costume?  Oh right,  I'm supposed to be crafting that by hand during my free and lonely days since I'm basically a Stay-at-Home-Mom.  Yes, well I ordered one on eBay recently, and hopefully it arrives (sans cooties) in time.

JP's sister phoned last night with the news that his nephew is engaged.  They are getting married next summer in Iowa.  She asked about our plans for the Holidays too, since Thanksgiving is coming up.  Thanksgiving?  OMG...we have J's Birthday (and JP's and my Mom's too) before that!

Our Girls' Night didn't really materialize the other day, but we were able to finish everything, including voice, piano practice, and showers in time to sit together to watch an episode of "Emergency."

Last night was a bit stressful too.  JP, who didn't make it home until 7:30, remarked that he thought since I was no longer home schooling, I would be less stressed.  How can I NOT be stressed, when I'm trying to get homework done, music practice done, ferry kids to and from soccer practice, make a healthy & delicious meal, and get the kids to bed on time in the space of about 4 hours...by MYSELF?  I tried to let him know that this is just a crazy time of year!

It's not like I lay around eating Bon Bons and watching TV all day, although I do give myself the opportunity to go more slowly - to read a book while I eat my lunch, and to take another 5 or 10 minutes after exercising to stretch.  Yesterday, I helped my Mom for about an hour, then spent the next 3 hours working in the garden.  I cleared out an entire TRAILER full of weeds, and brought in tomatoes, basil and jalapenos, all of which had to be taken care of.

The corn stalks are tall and dry - very Fall looking, and there is a smallish, but beautiful creamy orange pumpkin out there.  Seeing the pumpkin made me think about pumpkin roll, which is a favorite dessert for all of us.  It is way to complicated to attempt on a Thursday morning, so instead, I opened a jar of pumpkin that I canned last Fall, and baked my special Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mini Muffins.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mini Muffins
adapted from "Amish and Mennonite Kitchens"
 
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c + 2 T oil
2 T yogurt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 t baking soda dissolved in 1/3 c water
1/4 t baking powder
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c mini chocolate chips
 
Beat eggs with a whisk, then whisk in sugar, oil, yogurt, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Stir in remaining ingredients with a rubber spatula.  Fill greased mini muffin pans 2/3 full and bake at 350* for 15 min.  Makes about 4 dozen.
 
So there's my little bit of Fall for you.  And by the way...I'm taking the morning off to have tea and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mini Muffins with my girl friends.