Monday, August 31, 2009

Bench Monday.

This photo, though a bit dark, cracks me up.
You can see more here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday morning..

...and I should be getting ready for church. But...instead...I'm catching up with my favorite bloggers and listening to the FOOD Network in the background. A perfect way to spend time, if you ask me. This big ol' bumblebee was on the rope swing last week..and she let me close enough to snap a photo. I was inching my way closer but then she flew off...close enough to my ear that I could hear her buzz by. For a minute I thought she'd landed on my head!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whose idea was that?

It was hot. And sweaty. And SLOW. I had been stashing stuff for way too long..."for the garage sale"..this elusive garage sale I kept insisting that I was going to have.
I think we made around $250...which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick...
And would you believe that an older woman who spoke broken English stole from me? I gave her a great deal on a pile of boys shorts and swim trunks and she ended up stealing a few items! Really?! Stealing? At your age? From a GARAGE SALE? Not to mention my magic number was "one dollar". I was giving stuff away! She didn't need to steal it!
BUT...then there was the nice lady that wanted some of my used christian books that I just gave to she told us to keep the 50 cents change because she was so glad to get a pile of free books. It was a nice gesture.
Bottom line? It's over. And it's ALL out of my house and garage and shed. Next weekend? Garage cleaning and organizing. I can't wait...for real. That is one chore that is long overdue.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I must lie down. I'll post about something more interesting later...

Friday, August 28, 2009


We had a garage sale today. And we're having it again tomorrow.
I am wiped out. Seriously.

So...for today...I only have enough energy to share a photo I snapped of the garden yesterday. This is from the chickens point of view...just beyond reach.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bathing Beauties.

The girls have found a new favorite spot to take their dust baths...
Right outside the garden fence next to the pole beans. I think they must like this particular spot because it gets cooled off when I water the beans. The dirt they've scratched up looks dark and soft...even I think it looks nice and cool!
Notice their beaks hanging is HOT here today. They like the heat about as much as I do.

"Excuse me. I don't suppose a girl can get a little privacy around here?"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday in the Word.

Psalm 23:1-3
1 The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do you ever think in bullet points?

More often than not, my thoughts are scattered. Today is no exception. So, bullet points it is.

  • The garden is doing well. The aubergines, the peppers and the tomatoes are going full throttle. Homemade salsa here we come! But, I ended up removing the 8Ball zucchini. It was a little sad...but I think since I harvested about 8 or so beautiful zucchini I didn't feel as bad that it had to go.
  • The chickens EACH laid an egg yesterday! We got FOUR IN ONE DAY! That's a first.
  • I have been asked to be a part of an art/craft boutique in December with some ladies from church. I am looking forward to the mean...opportunity to make some stuff. I have been dying for some creative action around here. The blog is creative. And taking pictures is creative. But sometimes I just need to have paint in my hair or glue on my fingers or little bits of thread and fabric stuck to the butt of my sweats. You know waht I'm sayin'?! I have three pages of ideas and rough sketches of the things I'm going to make (all in bullet points, too!) so now I just need to make them a reality. Oh..yeah...and I need to make sure my sewing machine still works!
  • Laundry. Need I say more?
  • Grocery shopping. Dangit.
  • Work at 1:30. Off at 5:30.
  • Dust. Need to. Badly.
  • Garage sale. Can I please get this done before the weather turns on us? Please?
  • Winter garden. Yes. Maybe?
  • Canning. I need to can more beans...and I'd love to add some tomatoes and salsa to my repertoire...and of course, we need (yes NEED) more strawberry jam. That stuff doesn't last long around here so I need to make sure I make enough for winter. (I'm also thinking of having some for sale at the boutique...)
  • Preserving. I would like to freeze some corn...and some green beans...and possibly some squash purees. I would have to buy all of this fresh goodness from the local stand...which takes away from it in some ways. It would be so much more satisfying to be canning and preserving food that we've grown ourselves...or even traded with others...but...not yet. Someday! Do you hear me? Some DAY.
  • Life is good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Egg tally...33.

As of yesterday...two weeks after the girls began laying beautiful brown eggs for our family...our egg tally was 33. Not bad, eh?
I shared a half dozen with my aunt Lisa and another half dozen to my neighbor...poor guy has to hear them every morning as they work those eggs down the chute! He said he doesn't mind them at all...and that the noises make him laugh...and that he was going to go make an omelet! He did inquire about the flies...and I offered to buy him a stinky trap...but he declined the offer. I guess fresh eggs are a fair enough trade.

Bench Monday...

...because it's silly. And it makes you see photos in a different way.
I don't know if I'm following the rules right...I know there has to be a "bench"...and a person...and there's a bonus for chickens...
I'll try it for a while...if nothing else it helps me to see things from a different angle...and challenges my creativity...which is always a good thing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

All done...for now!

Well, here they are...4 quarts of peaches.
I did quart size this time around because those little pints of peaches just left us wanting more.
So seeing as how I'm teaching myself to can, and seeing as how this is only the second summer I've done it, it's still a learning process. And this time I learned to make sure that ALL of the peaches are RIPE before I purchase them. Um, yeah...just about half of the peaches were not ripe. So I only canned half of them which made 4 quarts. I am hoping that the other half will be ripe tomorrow...or Tuesday...and then I can preserve the rest. If they make it that long, that is. I have a feeling they will probably get eaten before that!

Well, isn't that just peachy...

I know...I know. I couldn't help myself. My pastor is doing a sermon series on the gifts of the spirit...and we haven't gotten to self-control yet. So...until then...bad jokes it is. Speaking of self-control...or lack thereof...I'm eating chocolate chips right out of the bag. Sometimes a girl just needs a straight shot of chocolate, you know?
So can you guess what I'm getting ready to do?
Yep. You're right. I'm getting ready to can peaches in light syrup. Yum. We just ate the last jar from last year's canning and they were SO good I just had to make more. And thank goodness I decided to do it today because the ranch where I purchase them is going to be done with peaches today or tomorrow! I was literally just in time! Thank goodness...I would have been so sad if I'd missed peaches this year.
I paid five dollars a box for these peaches...I thought that was a pretty good price. And they're delicious. This ranch has been in our area for years and years. The woman who sold them to me can't be less than 75 years old. She owns the ranch. And sells boxes of peaches and plums and nectarines every day. She also sells mandarins later in the season. Her property is beautiful with a gorgeous view of the hills and orchards all around.
Well...I suppose I should quit procrastinating and go heat up the canning pot!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our first casualty.

I'm so sad.
I have to say it is really sad when you break an egg that your own chicken laid. In the past, if I've broken a store-bought egg, I was irritated, but more because it was a big, gooey mess to clean up. But today...when I broke this egg...Libby's egg...I was actually sad. Sad because I know how hard our sweet little chicken worked to provide it for me. Such a sap, aren't I?

How do you say spider in French?

Can you see that little guy? I was trying to get photos of the aubergine flowers and that little spider caught me by surprise.
I'm not a spider person. At all. I'm not really a bug person. Good bugs are OK...lady bugs, praying mantis, bees, dragon fly's...but even still, I don't want them ON me. I'm kind of a wuss in that area. (Beekeeping this a bad sign?)
Years ago I went on a field trip with the boys to a bug museum at UC Davis. They had walking sticks and those giant Madagascar FLYING cock roaches. Oh my gosh...just thinking about those big ol' things makes my skin crawl. Flying? Really? I mean, it's not bad enough that they crawl?! Gross. Yuck. No thank you. And do you know that some of the kids were holding them? My SON being one of them?! Oh man...I wanted to tell him NO so badly. But...I didn't want to impose my fear and disgust on him. If he felt curious and brave enough to hold a big disgusting bug, go for it. Just keep it away from me!

But, as you can see, this little spider is far from big or flying. And it was really just minding it's own business and eating little bugs off my future aubergines. I am thinking that these are going to be white. Do you believe that I forgot what I planted? And then when I moved them a few weeks back I lost the tag. So...they will be a surprise! But I'm thinking white because the flowers are white. And by deduction, since the little lavender aubergine had lavender flowers, I'm thinking the white flower will be a white aubergine. So, we'll see. (And can I just say it's not as easy to type aubergine as it is to type eggplant? My mind doesn't think in French! I did take it in high school...but I pretty much just know how to ask where the bathroom is..."Excusez moi. Ou et le bain? Merci. Au revoir!" Madame McNamara would be proud.)'s Saturday. And we've got baseball games later. Seth plays tournament ball that goes well beyond the normal baseball season. We're crazy, I know. I could be so done with baseball season...but since I live with three males, extended season it is. Off to wash piles of baseball pants and make sure we have plenty of Gatorade!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Direct quote from an email from my sister in law this morning:
"I called you yesterday to let you know the okra was the bomb!!!!!!!"

This makes me SO HAPPY! And I don't even LIKE okra!
(And I just have to tell this little story...last weekend while I was buying the okra there was an older woman getting some, too and we struck up a conversation. And every time I went to say the word okra I would say, "Oprah". So I was cooking "Oprah" and preparing "Oprah" and pickling "Oprah". I could not get it right! Then I was telling my brother about pickling the Oprah...and telling Chris about pickling the Oprah. It was quite frustrating. Especially considering I like Oprah about as much as I like OKRA!)

They crack me up.

This is what I was looking at while I was canning the other day. Well, it's what I was looking at when I wasn't trying to get the fog from the steam off of my glasses!

The girls were right there at the (dirty) back door window wondering what the heck I was doing and just when did I think I might be able to bring out those scraps?!
"Um, hello?"

"Scraps? Like NOW?"

"Did you hear me?"
Look at that look she's giving me! And they are not afraid to stalk my back door to get what they want, either! These girls mean business.
Speaking of which, one of them is squawking right now...LOUD. I had no idea they would be so noisy! Everything I read said they'd make a little noise while laying an egg but I thought it would be like one big, "CLUCK!" as it was actually coming out. I didn't know they "clucked" it all the way down the shoot! My poor neighbors. I'm just waiting to come home to a note on my door...yikes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No regrets.

"When it's time for you to die, make sure it's the only thing you have left to do." -unknown

I heard this quote last night. I don't know what I was watching or who said it. All I know is that it was like a flaming arrow shot straight into my heart. It was the push I needed to make a huge decision...once and for all.
I've been a stay at home mom off and on since my youngest was born...11 years. When my husband started his business it was agreed that I would be the would be a family thing. It would afford me the opportunity to be available for the kids without having to worry about work schedules when they were on vacation or sick, etc. It has worked out for our family in so many ways and we wouldn't trade it for anything. It's been great. And I am thankful that I had the option.
However, the time has come to do something that I've wanted to do for a long time: to go back to school. There. I said it.
Now, you have to understand...I've "gone back to school" times? And I still don't have even my associates. say it and to commit to it scares me. Because as far as I'm concerned I've failed each time I have NOT completed school. But this time I'm trying to look at it from the perspective of "look what I have accomplished". I have accomplished half of my college education. I have completed my general education so now I can focus on my major. And really? It's only now that I truly know what I want my major to be. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up 20 years ago when I made my first attempt to go to college. And though I did know when I went back 13 years ago, I ended up getting pregnant again and then choosing to stay home with my babies...and I don't regret that decision for a second. Not for one second.
So...really...this is probably the perfect time for me to go to school. And the perfect time for me to decide what I want to be when I grow up. If I ever do grow up! I haven't decided how far I'll go with that, yet!
But I have decided that I want a college education. And I have decided that I want to be a teacher. Most likely a special education teacher. This is the area where I have the most experience. I was a counselor in a group home for SED (Severely Emotionally Disturbed) adolescents for just about 8 years...2 of those years were spent in the classroom on the grounds. Then I was an Instructional Aide in the SED classroom at our local high school for two years before leaving that job to help my husband with our business. So I have a lot of experience in the area of special ed. And's where my heart is.
For the longest time I thought I'd never return to special education. But a two month sub position in the library at my sons elementary school last year showed me that it's what I'm good at. Each of the classes had a scheduled library time...special ed classes included. So for the lower grades and the special ed classes we'd have story time where I'd sit in the big rocking chair and read stories to the kids before they were cut loose to choose their books for the week. Well, the special ed classes were some of my favorites. They were just so sweet...and, yes, special.
And I have to say, things just might change over the course of two years or however long it's going to take me to get a bachelor's degree in education. I might decide that I want to teach at a different level, for instance. But right now, one thing is for sure: I want my bachelor's degree. So I am going to go for it...and achieve it. And I am scared to death. But I really believe that it's the one thing that I would regret not doing in my life. I've wanted to for so long...and it's available to me...and I am perfectly capable. So...I'm going to do it. Keep me in your prayers...for wisdom choosing a school, financial aide possibilities, grants or scholarships for old ladies, time managment, etc! Because I am going to need all of the help I can get!
Because really...when all is said and done...I don't want to have any regrets in my life. I want to live life to the fullest and take hold of everything that it has to offer that I can, in turn, give back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday in the Word.

Psalm 139
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

I think I have shared this Psalm before...and I have a feeling I will share it again. It speaks to me, it whispers sweet nothings to me, it gives me hope and lets me know that I am not going this alone. Ever. May it whisper sweet nothings to you, too, today. xo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's better to give than to receive.

I love giving gifts. If money weren't an issue I would buy things for people and give random gifts all the time. I am constantly seeing things that I think this person would love or that person could use. I wish I had the means to give as much as I wanted to.
This was a gift for my father in laws wife, Kelly...hence the "K".
It's a coffee mug. But I thought it was cute as a planter. But since there's no will eventually be cute as a pencil holder! Or, dare I say, an actual coffee cup!
This basket full of goodies was just presented to my sister in law on Sunday. Please forgive the orange-y yellow of the was early morning and the sun was pouring through the window and I had a heck of a time with the lighting!
The basket contains some bar mops and some dish towels...a notepad and some sticky notes...and of course, the 4 jars of pickled okra I made the other day. I hope it came out OK. I told her to give it a week...and she said she couldn't wait that long...and that she'd let me know how it came out in a few days. That's fine, too!
Because I am very curious to know! I'll let you know what she says!

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Monday alright...

On a life note...I'm off to a bit of a rough start this week. I'm still waiting for that upward trend. Soon? Please? Thanks.
On a gardening note...this is what used to be a pathway in my garden. Um..yeah. When birdhouse gourd experiments and randomly planted zucchini plants that you didn't think were going to survive are involved there IS no such thing as a pathway.
So I just tiptoe carefully's OK. I figure it's a good way to block out weeds!
And...dangit...the zucchini has powdery mildew. And it's spreading to the gourd. And I don't know what to do? Anyone?
Is there anything natural that will get rid of this irritant? Or do I just have to pull the whole plant before it infects everything?
And just as I thought things were going quite nicely in the garden, too...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's official...

We have laying hens!

This is our first ONE DOZEN eggs. Aren't they so pretty? They're on the small side. But each time they lay, the eggs get a bit bigger every time.

This is happiness...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

All in a day's work...

Yesterday I decided that I was going to do some canning today. I've realized that it's not the actual canning that trips me up. It's the prep. It's a TON of PREP. Washing jars and lids...
Letting them air dry...
Making sure you have all the tools and supplies you're going to need...
And then once that's all set's time to prep the veggies. I found these reusable bags last year at the Dollar Tree. They were four in a pack! Aren't they great? I feel very responsible when I use them.

They're full of okra and pickling cucumbers.
Freshly washed green beans...soon they will be delicious dilly beans.
Thank you to my friend Carolyn for turning me on to these last summer. My life will never be the same.
Sweet little pickling cucumbers.
I tried to get them all about the same size...
Oh okra, okra, okra. I don't care for okra. Not even pickled.
So, why do I have a big strainer FULL of them? Because my sister in law loves pickled okra and her birthday is tomorrow. I think she's gonna love her gift!
Here they are just waiting for the boiling water and vinegar mixture. Fresh one minute. Pickled the next.
If nothing else, it's pretty to look at. I've never pickled okra I hope it turns out OK!

Luckily I cleaned an extra jar...I was able to get 8 jars of pickles instead of just 7. I hope they taste good.

Last year's pickles were a disappointment. They were too vinegar-y. The recipe I followed didn't call for enough dill my opinion. So they weren't dilly enough for me. Chris liked them. And so did my sister in law. But I just never could come around to liking them. In my opinion, they were always just a bit off. So this year I added extra dill seed AND a little sprinkle of pickling spice. I have no idea what I'm I hope it works out!

And finally...after a very hot kitchen, a very hot ME and a big mess...the finished product: dill pickles, dilly beans and pickled okra. Ta-da!
Now...just give me two weeks or so and I'll let you know how they all turned out. Except the okra...we'll have to get that report from my sister in law!


The pole beans are blooming...

...and I am getting ready to do some major pickling. Cucumbers...dilly beans...okra (for my sister in law...her birthday is tomorrow!)

Enjoy your Saturday...xoxo

Friday, August 14, 2009

busy bodies.

In my careful observation of these silly chickens, I've come to the conclusion that they are NOSY. They are constantly concerned with what the others have and what the others are doing. Nosy busy bodies.
For instance...can you see inside the hen house, there? It's Nellie...sweet little Nellie just minding her own business, trying to lay an egg for me.
Can you see who's standing there to the left? Yeah...that would be Betty, aka Busy Body. She's not laying an egg. She's just being nosy.
Hey wait...what's this?
Now what does Sweetie think she's doing? Nosy! she? Sometimes I think they're lending support...kind of like a doula. You think? Because sometimes when one is laying an egg one of the other girls will just set in the little stall area next to her and just...sit. Like a good friend.
And you it just me? Or do any of you feel a tiny bit bad about snatching up those beautiful brown eggs that our sweet girls worked so hard to produce? For some reason I feel a little bad each time I take their egg from the coop. I mean, I know this is why I got them. And I know that their brains are the size of a pea...or smaller...and they don't remember 4 minutes after I've taken it. But still...I feel a little bad. Such a sap, aren't I?
I've got a lot to do this morning so I better get a move on. I've got some errands this morning and then I work today from 1-5. Have a wonderful afternoon and I'll see you later!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting a grip...

Well...both boys are home from their first days of school and all is well. Seth started high school today and didn't bat an eye. He was ready. So I didn't worry...much. Ian, on the other hand, got the teacher I didn't want him to get. BUT, I may have to eat crow as he said she was nice, he related to a lot that she said and told me she has a good sense of humor. SO...even though I know my son, and like to think I know what's best for him, I may have misjudged this teacher's character. And I hope so, for Ian's sake. If not, this could be a rough year. Time will tell...but so far, so good.

The girls contributed three eggs to the bounty today. Such good girls! At this rate we could have almost two dozen eggs a week! Not bad I say. I am putting them all in an egg carton...when it's full I'll take a photo of our first dozen and then we'll EAT THEM! I'm keeping a tally to add to the Freedom Gardeners tally. I haven't been weighing the produce...but I started yesterday with the green beans.
Speaking of green beans...I need to get dinner started. Chris has worship practice tonight and would probably like to eat before he goes! Thanks for the encouraging words my sweet friends...I appreciate you!

I wish...

I have a lot to say today...but none of it is good. I'm a bit whiny...and full of complaints. I am dissatisfied...and hormonal. This is one of those days when I have nothing nice to say, so I'll say nothing at all. More later when I get a grip. xo

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Green beans and brown eggs.

Today was a good day in the garden.

The green beans are growing like crazy! (Don't you just love that shriveled up little blossom hanging on to the end of that sweet bean? I love it!)

I may have waited a little long to harvest some of them...they're a bit big. But...better big than wasted. So I waited until I knew we were going to EAT them.

As I was heading into the house...because it felt like it was 4000 degrees outside...I spotted a few red tomatoes and had to pluck them, too.
They were history about 2 minutes after this photo was taken. And they were GOOD, too. And yes. I bite my fingernails. Ugly, I know. I hoped...the girls are steady laying eggs. Beautiful, brown eggs.

I think that only three of the girls have laid eggs. I think that one of the Barred Rocks has yet to lay. I'm not sure as I haven't been watching their every move. But I have observed that the Buff's spend more time in the hen house scratching and squatting. And I saw one of the Barred Rock's doing the same thing. But I don't know for sure. All I DO know for sure is that we're getting FRESH EGGS! I've been waiting months for this...years if you count the time I spent researching and waiting for my sweet chickens. It's SO exciting. I cant even begin to tell you. I highly recommend chicken keeping. It is so fun. So satisfying. And really, so easy. Who knew?

Wednesday in the Word.

Psalm 138:7-8
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Guess where we went today?

It was lots of fun.

I'll tell you more tomorrow...because I am T.I.R.E.D.

{edit: Oh...and for the record. One of the girls laid an egg right before we left! I found it when I was showing my girlfriend our chickens. And when Chris got home, he found TWO MORE! That's three in one day!! YES!}

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday: some snaps of the garden.

The garden is humming right along these days...everything is growing and blooming and ripening. And I am loving it!
I clipped a second gourd the other day...the one on the left.
I think I clipped it prematurely. It's lighter and smaller...but I think I panicked a bit because it had dragged the vine down a bit. But, after cutting it I realized that those vines are TOUGH. And I would venture to say that the vine is tough enough to hold the weight of the dang thing it's supposed to grow! Duh. lack of patience in the garden reigns...dangit. I really need to learn to WAIT.
The peppers are doing really well. This is our banana pepper plant.
We harvested one really good size pepper last night...and this one will be plucked later today! Do you know how long Ive waited to pick these?!'s been tough.

Ahh...and the eggplant...oh wait, excuse me, the aubergine.
Aren't they gorgeous? I think these vegetables are so beautiful. And I have to say, I am not a "purple" person. I don't care for purple, I don't wear purple, it's just not ever been one of my favorite colors. (I like blue...just in case you were wondering!) But the color of natural purple? Purple plants? And purple vegetables? I think they're beautiful. Purple probably IS one of my favorites in the garden.
Oh...and did I mention? The girls laid two eggs yesterday?
Oh...I did?
I wasn't sure that I'd shared that my sweet, silly chickens laid our first two eggs yesterday! I'm still so excited...I open the fridge just to look at them every now and then...amazing.
It's supposed to be 105 degrees here today. Ugly. So I better get out into that garden and give everything a sip of water to keep them hydrated today. But I have a feeling I'll be between loads of laundry, a little bit of school shopping and checking for more eggs every five minutes!