Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have Mercy!

It's official. As of last Friday, Bryon is employed full-time at St. John's in Lebanon (Mercy) and we are very happy about it. Bryon said he can't believe how nice it is to not dread going to work every day. Amen that!

He's excited about his skills and what he can bring to to table. They actually appreciate him and are very enthusiastic to have him there. He seems to have just fit right in.

Some days are diamonds and some days are rocks.

Last Friday was a definite diamond.

Grace School Pic Spring 2011

Here is Grace's school picture for the spring of her Kindergarten year. Pretty cute :) She chose her outfit and hairband. She had that hairband on in the fall picture too. The girl has style. Her OWN style.

One day she came in with her jeans rolled up one time from the bottom to nearly her knees and was rummaging through the desk drawer for paper clips.

I asked what she was doing and she said Addison rolls her jeans up like this and clips them with paper clips. I asked if maybe she meant safety pins? She said yes, safety pins. So goofy as it looked I hooked two safety pins at the top. I figured she was either going to be the goofiest kid at school or a fashionista.

Just before we headed out the door she asked me to take the pins back out. She said she didn't want to wear them to school that way, her legs were just hot.

Seemed logical.

Out they came.

She hasn't asked for them to be that way since. I guess it was a short lived trend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wife Wanted

Today I was thinking on the way into work ... after getting up, making coffee, kissing Bryon goodbye as he sped out the door with aforementioned coffee just after 6 am, getting Grace rolling on the incredibly slow journey to getting dressed, groomed and fed, getting myself dressed, groomed and fed, making my lunch, making the bed, feeding the chickens, waiting for the bus to arrive, noticing my ever growing grocery list protruding from my car dashboard and checking my iPhone calendar of to dos ... what I need, what would be amazingly helpful, is a Wife.

Not one of us millennial wives either, I need a nice 1950's wife who cooks and cleans and meets the kids after school with homemade treats (my Mom used to have brownies, choco chip cookies or another favorite grahamn crackers with icing in the center, Yummmmmy!) Of course she was mostly a 1960's wife which was when it all started to change for us women. More freedom, more power, more careers and somehow so much more to do it seems.

I would like my Wife to meet me at the back door after work each day with a nice glass of iced tea or a mug of coffee and the day's mail (preferably a spanky NEW issue of any of my favorite magazines) and then fluff up the cushion on the deck chair for me as she keeps the rest of the family at bay so I can relax and think deep thoughts about Martha Stewart's Whole Living and her meditation tips or which chicken breed really IS for me.

Then as the aromas of my favorite meal (fill in the blank here) wafts in through the screen window, I finally hear the dinner bell ring (she has an actual bell) and I am summoned to dinner with my family. She only appears to serve us and then disappears to tend to laundry and various other sundry cleaning chores (i.e. cleaning the cat box etc.). When I'm troubled to refill my own tea glass, I notice the fridge is now full of everything on my list as is the pantry.

When we are finished, we all retire to the living room to watch the family hour of television and then Grace is off to shower or take a bath, Bryon and I can catch up on emails etc while my Wife finishes the day's chores, tends to the animals, maybe sweeps the sidewalks and pulls some weeds while she's out there and finally retires to her own abode... away from us... wherever it is that she disappears to. 

Then, with nothing else to tend to but our own selfish desires, hobbies or whimsy we can finish up the evening at leisure. 

Wouldn't that be nice?

To have a Wife of your very own?

Disclaimer: This is not a reflection of Bryon or his participation around the house. He helps a lot. He works hard inside and outside the house. I'm just particularly tired right now, definitely PMSing and more than a little disgruntled. I think I need a vacation. And/or a Wife.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flipping The Bird

One night, not too long ago as Bryon was on his way out of Grace's room after putting her to bed, she asked him while sticking up her middle finger, "Is this your naughty finger?"

Bryon answered, "Yes, yes it is" and promptly exited the room before she could get in any followup questions.

He came out into the kitchen chuckling and told me about it and Grace yelled from her bedroom "What does that mean? Why is it your naughty finger?"

We simultaneously told her to go to sleep. 

No more questions.

Then last night she asked me again in pure journalistic style demanding full disclosure. She promised not to tell anyone or where she heard it. She just wanted to know.

Did I mention she is only six?

Now up until now if she's asked me a direct question about something I've pretty much told her the bald truth and she knows that. She's asked me several girly parts questions etc. and I've just told her the facts as clearly detailed as I think I can to a six year old. 

Bryon teases her a lot telling her crazy made up stories and she'll ask me if something is true and I'll say "No" ninety nine point nine percent of the time. But last night I just flat out could not come up with any way to explain what or why flipping up your middle finger was the ultimate insult without inspiring a whole new slough of questions I also did not want to answer.

So I took the chicken way out and told her it was a grown up thing and she was too little to know and to just not do it. The parenting equivalent of BECAUSE I SAID SO THAT'S WHY. Of course that never really works, it only delays the inevitable.

So tonight I looked it up on the internet... Wikipedia of course, and you can too if you are interested (Wikipedia explanation here) As you would expect there was the typical explanation, the one that we as Westerners all know and love and utilize in traffic on a regular basis.

But there was also these on the actual supposed origin of the phrase and action: 

It is identified as the digitus impudicus (impudent finger) in Ancient Roman writings[1] and reference is made to using the finger in ancient Greek comedy to insult another person. The widespread usage of the finger in many cultures is likely due to the geographical influence of the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman civilization. Another possible origin of this gesture can be found in the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending the digitus impudicus was one of many methods used to divert the ever-present threat of the evil eye offence[2]. Another belief for the origin is more recently durring the hundreds years' war, when france and england was at war with each other over territory. In the beginning the English won most of the battles against France, even when the British were greatly outnumbered. Much of Britians success is due to their new weapon the long bow, however it takes a skilled archer years of practice to correctly be able to use this weapon. And the key to using this weapon was by pulling back the arrow against the string with your middle finger and then releasing it so the arrow is then slinged away by the force of the pulled back string. Then the king of france put a bounty on british archers middle finger, because if an archers middle finger is chopped off then the archer is incapable of using a long bow anymore. However when the british did win battles they would mock their french enemys by flipping the finger at them showing that they still keep their middle fingers.offence[3]

Now with that many spelling and grammar errors I'm a little skeptical about whether or not that is all correct but it would be a lot easier to explain the archery reference than the other.

I distinctly remember the first time I ever flipped the bird. It was on or near the first day of Kindergarten and our mean old neighbor, Doc Greer, (I have no idea why he was called Doc) ran over our black Cocker Spaniel named Poochie and left him for me to find on the way to the bus. Every time that old man drove by our house from that day forward I stuck up my middle finger at him with pride and malice having no idea what it actually meant. All I knew was that kids got into big trouble for doing it and adults did it when they were really angry so it was good enough for me and the situation.

I don't even know if he ever even saw me do it. I was usually running to hide immediately after as his dust trail was drifting away.

I haven't flipped the bird in a long time now but it's always good to have the "digitus impudicus" ready to activate  if the need should arise.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recipe Sharing

Last weekend I had a slumber party. Me, not Grace. Grace was at Nana's. Five girlfriends and I (the guilty know who they are) met for breakfast at our favorite cafe in Marshfield, Uptown Cafe, (we just call it Freda's because Freda owns it) and spent a Saturday and Sunday talking, eating and reading magazines. It was heaven. We finally got caught up with each other and laughed a lot.

Good times!

We ate an entire pan of brownies (I may have had more than my share) and I made quiche and enchiladas. I didn't tell them until the second helping that I sneaked venison burger in there. They liked them :)

I made homemade enchilada sauce (adapted from All Recipes) and Yummy Quiche (also All Recipes). That site is awesome. Check it out if you've never seen it before. You keep your own online recipe box and print the recipes out in 4x6 cards that you cut and fit right in your recipe box. Very handy!

I wanted to include a few of the recipes from the weekend along with some a couple of other handy recipes I use almost every week.

Look on your store bought packages of taco seasoning and almost all of them have a bunch of preservatives and MSG. This is just spices... most of which you already have in your cabinet. This recipe makes about 1 cup and you'll already have it when you get the hankering for Mexican food.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Makes about 1 cup

4 tbsp chili powder
8 tbsp onion powder
4 tsps ground cumin
4 tsps garlic powder
4 tsps paprika
4 tsps powdered oregano
4 tsps sugar
2 tsps salt

Mix it all up and keep it in a jar with a lid. About 3 tablespoons of mix supposedly equals 1/4 oz. package of commercial seasoning. I just keep adding it until I'm happy with the taste.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Makes about 2 large 32 oz cans worth. (I like a LOT of sauce on mine and add it to the beef and beans too)

2- 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 small onion (tiny really)
1 1/2 tbsps taco seasoning
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa

Saute onions and garlic in a splash of olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the rest and bring to a boil, then simmer 15 minutes.

I've posted this quiche recipe before but this time I had one leftover so I cut it into pie sized slices in the pan after it cooled, covered it with saran and tin foil and froze it. Now when I want to take a piece and salad in my lunch. I just pop out a piece, put it frozen in my lunch box (with an ice pack of course) and heat it in the microwave for  1 1/2 minutes. Super YUMMY!

Yummy Quiche

8 ounces bacon ( I used about 3/4 pound of sausage instead)
1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, finely diced and drained
2 (9 inch) unbaked 9 inch pie crust
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten (I usually use 6-8)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup diced onion (I didn't use the onions)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers, drained


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place bacon and or sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

Place crust in a 9 inch glass pie plate (I used the kind with an aluminum pan). Sprinkle bacon/sausage inside of crust. In a small bowl, combine Cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, mushrooms and flour. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cream, onion and green chiles. Add cheese mixture; stir well. Pour mixture into pie crusts evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes (I covered it with foil the last 10 minutes so the crust wouldn't burn), until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

This was supposed to make one quiche but I used more than 8 oz of sausage so it made two perfectly yummy ones!

These next two are super handy and I use them both a couple of times a week usually. I haven't bought Bisquick in a couple of years now since I found this recipe. I keep this baking mix in a big glass container in our extra fridge and just pull it out when I need it. I usually just add the wheat germ a few tablespoons at a time when I'm making individual things. The other ingredients will last a long time but the wheat germ has a shorter lifespan.

Busy Mother's Baking Mix

5 lb bag unbleached flour (you can add some whole wheat flour but it makes everything heavier)
3/4 cup baking powder (aluminum free)
1 cup wheat germ (you can just add a tablespoon or so as you use the mix if you want)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cream of tartar
3 tbsps salt

Whisk it all together well in a super big bowl (I use my big metal bowl) and store in an airtight container (preferably in the fridge).

Use for the following recipes:


2 cups mix
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp oil

Can add frozen berries etc too.  Beat together milk, eggs, oil. Add to mix until moistened. Pour 1/2 cup at a time onto oiled griddle.

Same as above but add 1 tsp vanilla and 2 more tbsps oil

Cut Out Biscuits

3 1/2 cups mix
1 stick butter (I use real unsalted butter)
3/4 cup milk

Roll out 1" thick and cut out.
Bake 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees

Drop Biscuits

3 1/2 cups mix
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup milk

Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes

Okay, this is the last one for today. I used to buy LOTS of refrigerator rolls because they were easy and I like bread with dinner. Finally I figured there had to be a better way and I found this recipe in Mother Earth News. Since then I've bought the book apparently now they have a website too

I use this master recipe to make dinner rolls several times a week. We all love them. They are different from refrigerated dough but now I prefer them. You can add whole wheat flour but again, it makes them denser so that's up to you. There are LOTS of different breads you can make from this one basic recipe. All I've done is a big round, dinner rolls, rolled it into bread sticks and pizza dough.

Artisan Bread Master Recipe

3 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast (1 1/2 pkts)
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt or coarse kosher
6 1/2 cups flour

Mix it all up, cover lightly and let it rise two hours. Then you just put a date on it and stick it in your fridge. You can keep it up to two weeks in there. I just pinch off a dinner roll sized piece, sprinkle some flour on it and roll it into a ball. Slice the top with a serrated knife, slap it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you stick a pan of water in the oven along with it, you'll get a very crispy outside and a chewy inside. No water and you have a softer roll but still chewy. They get pretty hard if you save the leftovers for the next day but if you microwave it for a few seconds it's just like new AND warm again....

We don't usually HAVE leftovers. I fix one roll a piece.

Okay, so that's a lot of cooking but I just wanted to share. Next time I'll share egg noodles and meatballs...

I'm stuffed now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Signs of Spring

One of the first signs of spring on the farm and one of the first outdoorsy farm rituals is the presentation of the legs. Yes, these are indeed my pasty white, slightly scarred legs and the first shorts of the spring. They may not be pretty but boy was I happy to set them free. I think my super cute garden shoes compensate for any unsightliness.
Of course you can't go wrong with forsythia either. We have two bushes of it started now. My tiny little lilac tree has leafed out and I just saw tonight that my peonies were peeking up. Tulip foliage is up but now blooms yet. I'm waiting not so patiently for those. 

Here is my greenhouse lettuce. I took this Sunday and this afternoon when I checked on it it was pretty wilted. I think it got too hot in the greenhouse yesterday during that 80 degree day. I need to remember to vent the window in the mornings. Too many things to get done before we leave the house it seems.

Sunday I was sort of bummed because NONE of my little seeds had popped up yet. Bryon said he saw one green sprout but I couldn't see it anywhere. I think he was just humoring me. TODAY, however, there are sprouts galore! Three kinds of tomatoes, and lots of herbs.

We finished working up and preparing the garden beds on Sunday and planted potatoes, carrots, radishes, lettuce, onions and swiss chard. We had lots of good compost to add to top off the beds from last years chicken house clean out and a year's worth of table scraps etc. Looks like it's going to be cold the next few days so I'm not expecting much to happen for a while out there, but I'm ready!

This is one of my hilariously happy hens. The come running when any of us come outside now and follow us around the yard like puppies. I don't think they miss those roosters at all. I know the rest of the family don't. Good riddance I say. 

Bryon and Gary worked all weekend on our little patch of woods by our driveway and behind the pig pen. The burned off the undergrowth to make a path for a new fence so we can expand the pig pen and raise five or six pigs this year. So many of our friends want pork now so we thought ... how much trouble could a few more be? 

We are also going to get a couple of goats. NOT milk goats. While I would LOVE to have a Jersey cow or even a milk goat, there is NO WAY we are going to be able to milk an animal twice a day, every day. That is just more of a commitment than we can make and apparently you can't just milk them occasionally which would be ideal. 

I think goats will be fun ... as long as we can keep them in the fence. 

I have no idea what kind we'll get. I think we are just going to go to the Fordland Small Animal Swap Meet and see what there is. I'm pretty sure we'll fall in love with something. I just hope they can fit in a dog crate because otherwise, it could be an interesting ride home.

Kiss That Frog

Okay so this is actually a toad I think but still...

Grace found it the other night and carried around for a while until I finally convinced her to release it back to the wild before it leaped to it's death from her hands. She really has a good eye for wildlife just like her Daddy.

I'm pretty sure she really did kiss the thing. No Prince appeared but her Daddy did come home shortly after. He would argue that he's more of a King than a Prince I'm sure.

 She and Grandpa found these frog eggs in a giant pool of water behind the pond. Her teacher asked us to bring some of them in in an old jar so we collected some and took them in this morning. I have two milk jugs full of puddle and pond water to take tomorrow for their class aquarium so they can see if the become tadpoles and then frogs.

There might be a whole bunch of new pets to take home from class soon.

The spring peeps have been just as noisy as ever. The first night the temp was anywhere near the fifties, they started up and have just been gaining intensity ever since. 

One time some of our city friends were at our house and it was the year that the cicadas were at their 17 year peak. You could hear them going to town INSIDE the house. They were very loud. My city friend couldn't believe it when she was going out to her car, she said "It's noisy in the country!" Well.... yeah. But at least it isn't sirens, garbage trucks and teenagers peeling out and blowing out their car stereo speakers. 

Some noise is just more tolerable than others. 

Give me the country noise anytime.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

They come to snuff the rooster... oh yeah.

Rooster number two is no more. Five hilariously happy unhumped hens is all I have left for now.

The great rooster experiment is officially over. I liked having him because with a rooster, it just sounded like a real farm out here. The roosters (yes I had two) turned out to be mean and liked to flog everyone but Grace especially so we had to rotate between Grace and the chickens for outside time. With spring finally here, that was just not going to continue to work out so today I asked Bryon to dispatch of the remaining rooster.

We killed an ate the first rooster a few weekends ago. My theory was that if we only had one rooster, maybe it would become nicer since it wouldn't have any competition anymore. Nope. Not so much the case. Still nasty. And it was sneaky nasty because it usually waited until your back was turned to attack. Of course with Grace it really didn't matter. They both went right for her immediately. Bryon too. They had a special hatred for Bryon.

I gotta say I'm glad they're gone. Of course now the whole Buckeye heirloom breed chicken experiment is basically for naught because of course now there will be no more. I guess I'm just more of a barnyard sort of girl after all.

I sure hope my hens can grow some of their back feathers in now since they won't have a rooster humping them 24/7. They are some scraggly looking birds right now.

I got the chicken house all cleaned out and freshened up for another year today. It took forever but it's so nice now. I hope the hens will start using the nesting boxes now and my eggs will stay cleaner. We'll see.

Today really gave me spring fever bad! And allergies, bad. It's hard to enjoy the outdoors when you can't see or breathe. Hopefully tomorrow will be better in that respect.

Bryon worked out in our little barn and cleaned some of the big barn while I cleaned the chicken house and rabbit hutch. Tomorrow after church is going to be dedicated to the greenhouse and starting some seeds. I gotta plant some stuff man!

I do have tiny little half inch lettuce seedlings from the seed I saved last year. It's way over seeded because it was impossible to separate the seed from the chaff but it's doing okay so far. I'm ready to get some stuff in the gardens though.

Maybe this year I can actually keep track of what and where all my plants are. It's good to have goals.