Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthday's and such

We celebrated two birthday's this week. My sweetheart's birthday was Tuesday he turned forty-five. We celebrated with lasagna and cheese cake. Friday was Lauren's birthday. She turned twenty-two, although she keeps saying she wishes she were still eighteen, but don't we all!

Twenty-two years ago on August 12th, I became a mom for the first time. I was twenty-two, almost twenty-three years old. Now that little bundle is the age I was then. Mind boggling at times how quickly time goes.

I will never forget the way I felt holding my little baby when they placed her into my arms. I wasn't fearful, although if I had been smart, I would have probably been very afraid. You just don't realize how much your life changes once a baby becomes a part of it. Nothing is ever the same again. You become a very different person than the one you were before.

This morning I awoke with plans to cook a big breakfast. I had bacon and wanted to make homemade biscuits. I looked up a new buttermilk biscuit recipe and begin preparing the dough in my favorite glass bowl. Andrew joined me in the kitchen and we were talking as he cooked the bacon. After cutting out the biscuits and placing them into the oven, I begin to clean up the dirty dishes. I wash my big clear glass Pyrex bowl by hand and dried it to put away.

I love this bowl. I have had it for many years and have used it to mix cake batter, cookie dough, dumplings, brownies, biscuits and so many other things. It was the largest bowl I owned. I keep it on the top shelf in my cabinet over the dishwasher. I nest several smaller glass bowls inside due to space limitations in my kitchen. Which has never been a problem...until this morning. I don't know if my hands were still wet, maybe my arms were a little weak from not being awake long, but whatever the case, this bowl filled with the other glass bowls slipped from my hands and hit the counter top with a loud crash! Glass went flying! Everything stopped...when it was all over, my favorite bowl was shattered into millions of pieces all over the counter and the kitchen floor. I stood very still as the glass continued to spill off the counter top onto the floor.

My husband ran to grab the shop vac and begin to vacuum up the glass from the floor while I bandaged my cuts. Then we worked together to clear away the debris. I ended up with three band aids, but no major cuts that would require stitches.

During all the calamity, the biscuits cooked on in the oven. Little did they know they would be the last thing that would be mixed in the big, glass Pyrex bowl. They were good, that is one consolation.

I will have to go shopping soon to find a new bowl to replace the one I lost this morning. However, I think I will rearrange my cabinets and put the glass bowls on the lower shelf, so they will be easier to reach next time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eggs and a Few Things...

We have EGGS....
Hennie Pennie started laying last week. She was giving us one a day until Saturday...Andrew and I went to the flock swap at the Downtown family feed store and we brought home two more hens. We wanted to supplement our eggs production until our other six were old enough to lay. I guess these new hens disturbed Hennie Pennie's routine and she has skipped a couple of days giving eggs. On top of that, the two new hens have only given two eggs in four days. So I suppose it will take everyone a little time to adjust to the new conditions. Hennie Pennie is a barred rock and lays brown eggs. The two new ones, Goldie and Blackie, are Ameraucana's and they lay the blue-green "Easter" eggs.

Here are the last of my heirloom tomatoes. I was very disappointed with my tomatoes this year. I have never had problems growing tomatoes in my life. But this year, they got bottom rot and I lost all of my tomato plants. I did manage to harvest a few Roma's and a few of these heirloom variety tomatoes.

I planted a couple egg plants and this is my Japanese eggplant. I usually only plant black beauties but thought I would try something different. So far, so good.

One thing that did very well was my banana pepper plant. I just planted one, but it gave and abundance of peppers. I decided to pickle a few of them.

My fig trees started off with several figs this year, but as it ended up, I had one lone fig. I picked it and enjoyed a little taste of fig anyway. Well maybe next year they will do better. I can only hope.

The basil and carrots seem to be doing well. I harvested the potatoes last week and a few brussel sprouts. I have been putting up peas steadily the last few weeks. Clearing out beds to start planting for fall. Still in the planning stages, but need to get cracking as it is time now to plant a few things. Hopefully the fall garden will be more successful than the spring/summer one.

Just a little update on the happenings around the "urban ...stead." Next time I will try to have some pictures of the hens to post and hopefully a few more eggs. I will also try to remember to take a picture of Jack's new digs as well.

Still enjoying my parents visiting and getting ready for Noah to start back to school in two weeks. The first of next week I will take him for a hair cut and supply shopping. He is getting excited, but I on the other hand, not so much! I have enjoyed our long, lazy summer days at home. But I suppose it will do us all some good to get back on a routine and have a little more structure in our lives...or not...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Great Resources

Here are a couple of resources for those of you who are interested in gardening and raising livestock on a small scale. Both offer great information for those who are beginning and for those who have some experience and just need a refresher. I would highly recommend them both for your home library.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Weekend festivities

The fourth of July has come and gone once again. This year we spent the holiday at home enjoying the pool and the grill. Andrew bought a few fireworks and we ended the day by sitting out front watching the fireworks display going on in the neighborhood and the kids got to shoot off a few of their own.

Lauren flew in from San Antonio on Thursday night and she stayed in Charlotte instead of catching her connecting flight on into Fayetteville because a friend of hers from Little Rock flew into Charlotte the same day for a visit. So Noah and I drove to the airport in Charlotte to pick them both up.

The following morning I noticed that the upstairs didn't seem to be keeping cool and we discovered that the air had apparently quit working. I am assuming it is the freon that needs replacing. Because of the holiday weekend, it was impossible to find someone to come and service it. So here we sit, Tuesday, July 5th still without air conditioning in the upstairs. Thank God that our downstairs unit is working fine. The problem is, all of our bedrooms are upstairs...

So I have been sleeping on the couch for the last four nights and will be again tonight. The HVAC guy is scheduled to come tomorrow at 11:00. I am praying that tomorrow night I will get to sleep in my bed again. My back is starting to rebel...

Recently I was in the library and ran across this wonderful little cookbook all about shrimp and grits. Sometime after reading this cookbook, I made a trip to Charleston, South Carolina and discovered a place called Hominy Grill. I also discovered their recipe for Low Country Shrimp and Grits. For three months now, I have been obsessing over shrimp and grits. I knew it wasn't a matter of if, but a matter of when I would try my hand at preparing this feast for myself. For some reason, today I decided would be the day. Nothing special about the day, I suppose I felt we deserved it since we have spent the last few days uncomfortable due having no air upstairs, and having to sleep on the couch and the livingroom floor. Maybe it was the fact that Andrew has to go back to work tomorrow after taking a long weekend off. I don't really know why I decided to cook such a wonderfully decadent indulgence tonight, but I did. And I must say, it was delicious!

Having excess zucchini and squash from the garden I have tried to find different ways in which to offer this delicious summer staple to my family. Tonight I grated one zucchini and one squash along with one carrot. I added some egg, seasonings, a little flour and some panko crumbs. And after squeezing the grated veggies for what seemed an endless time and still I was unable to squeeze all of the water from the veggies, I mixed all the ingredients into a bowl and then dropped spoonfuls at a time in a skillet with hot oil and cooked four minutes on each side. The resulting Zucchini/Squash fritters were a hit. At least they were a hit with Andrew and I, seeing as though the kids didn't even try them. I often wonder where I went wrong with those kids...but then I remember that I was the one who allowed them to eat or not eat what they wanted. I have many times gone back to the kitchen to prepare a different meal for a child that didn't like what was being served at the dinner table. So I suppose I did it to myself, and have only myself to blame. But I digress.

Along with the shrimp and grits and the zucchini fritters I sliced and grilled some french bread that I sprinkled with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and dried basil. Grilled it long enough to put a few grill marks with a light toasting and served it with our special dip. Which consist of melted butter, some special seasoning and Andrew's secret ingredient...

Supper was delicious and very special on just an ordinary night at home. It was restaurant quality all at a fraction of the cost that we would have paid were we to have gone out to eat. The only problem is, I told Andrew that I wish I had a sous chef to help me prepare the meal and a bus boy and dishwasher to clean up afterwards.

To top it off, Lauren made a key lime pie for dessert...can't get much better than all of that.

Good thing I have a treadmill coming in ten days. Eating all that bread dipped in butter and all of the butter, cheese, and bacon in the grits, with the bacon grease used to fry the shrimp, and the whipped cream on the pie; well it could really put a hurting on a girl's figure...

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Few Changes

Well as you can see, I've made a few changes to my blog. I felt it was past time for a change around here. I've had the same template since I started this blog so I hope you find it pleasing to the eye. I am still working on it, but it is up and running, so read on.

I know I have been scarce around here for some time now. But I hope that will soon change. I have been working on some blog post that I plan to put up soon. Of course, summer has been pretty lazy and laid back for me so if I am a little slow at it, just be patient. Some days I can't seem to resist the pool. So Noah and I often find ourselves spending long, lazy days in and out of the pool. Those days are usually followed up with long, lazy evenings on the deck and eating off the grill.

A few updates...

Well the chickens are doing well. We ended up with more roosters than hens with our first batch, so we had to find homes for the roosters because the neighbors were beginning to ask questions...So we bought a second batch of chicks and they are now big enough to go into the coop now. We got more Barred Rock and two Ameraucana's. We had those before and they lay the green/blue eggs. So although our egg collecting day will not come as soon as I had hoped, we are enjoying the process. Andrew finished the hen house and it looks very nice. I will try to post photo's soon.

Lauren left this morning to fly to San Antonio, TX to meet her boyfriends parents and family for the first time. I really think that will be all I will post about that right now.

Noah is enjoying his summer vacation. We have gone a couple of times to meet one of his school pals for a play date and they have had a really good time.

Megan is enjoying her summer as well. She has been taking a little break from piano lessons for the last few weeks. But she will start back on Tuesday. She also turned sweet sixteen this month and is officially looking for a job. She had a slumber party with a few friends and we gave her a surprise party after church on Sunday night. I really think we pulled it off and surprised her.

Some books I am reading:

Well everyone is getting hungry and I have liver thawed for supper, so I better get into the kitchen and get cooking.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicks and the Kid

Well spring has sprung around the Sandhills of North Carolina. The Bradford pear trees are in full bloom and the wisteria vines are everywhere.

In our own yard the grass is starting to green up some and the garden is coming along. I have one bed planted with cooler weather crops. I am hoping they will do well. We have the other beds ready to plant just waiting for the right time to put the other things in the ground.

A little over a month ago Andrew brought home eight Barred Rock chicks and they are really growing. He built an intermediate coop that we can put them in and let them peck around in the yard until he gets the full coop built. They are really enjoying sunning themselves in the warmth of the sunshine.

Today I took a few photos.

Noah had the day off from school today and enjoyed being out playing in the nice spring weather.

I have other things to post but I will save those for another time. Hope everyone enjoys a wonderful weekend. I will be spending mine studying for a test in my Anatomy and Physiology class next week. Good thing is, there is only one more test, a paper to write, and the final in the lecture class. I will be very glad to get this course behind me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rabbits and baby chicks

Most women are happy when their husband's buy them diamonds or pearls. But I am thrilled that my honey bought me these...

I have been wanting some barred rock chickens for some time now and have kept my eye open for anyone who had some for sale nearby. We decided that when Tractor Supply got their shipment in this month we would buy a few to start a small backyard flock.

Their shipment was due in on Monday or Tuesday. I called on Wednesday and they were sold out. I called around to several other places and no one was getting any in for at least a month. I decided to search Craigslist for someone that might be selling chicks. I ran across someone in a town about an hour north of here that was advertising various chickens. So I called the number and he told me that he didn't have barred rocks for sale, but did I know about the "flock swap" that would be held the following day. Of course I knew nothing of such a thing, so he proceeded to tell me just what the "flock swap" was all about.

Andrew was outside working on his new project; redoing his dad's old boat; so I stepped out to tell him about the event that would be held the next morning starting at 8:30 in the morning. I would have gone myself but because of Megan's piano lesson at 10:30 the next day, I knew that I couldn't go before and it would probably be to late to drive the hour up there after her lesson was over.

The next morning, Andrew got up and left the house before 7:00 and drove the hour to Sanford to the "flock swap" in search of some barred rock chicks. All because I wanted them.

What a great man he is! When I returned home from Megan's piano and a little grocery shopping, my sweet husband had come home, built a warming box filled it with shavings, hooked up the warming light, filled the food and water dishes and had them waiting in the garage for me.

I know this man loves me, and I love him so! Can't wait until the chicks get their colors. This is how they will look once they are grown.

In other news, Megan got a rabbit a month or so back. She and I drove two hours south of here to a farm where they raise various types of rabbits. We had of course already decided on the Holland Lop. That was the type we raised when we lived in Arkansas. She chose a nice white and gray color. He was also the tamest one of the litter. He has turned out to be a good choice. He is pretty docile and easy going. He enjoys getting under my feet while I am on my computer.

Lauren and I are on spring break this week. But Noah isn't. I really wish he had spring break with us so that I wouldn't have to get up and go somewhere every day of my break, but I suppose I will be glad for the break when it comes in April.

So far this week, I have bought some plants to put into my early bed. I am getting only one bed ready for planting this month. I am putting in some lettuce, cabbage, spinach, onion, broccoli and some greens. We are also building a potato bin to plant potatoes. I hope to get what I have put in the ground tomorrow.

Well there is more to tell, but I will hold off on some of it for another post.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reading List

For Christmas I was blessed to received a Barnes and Noble Nook Color. Since then I have been doing a lot of reading. For someone who loves books like I do, this is the prefect thing. I have more books than I have room to house them, and with the Nook I can carry my whole library around in a case the size of a small book. I do however, still love holding and touching "real" books. There is just something about the feel of the pages at your finger tips and the smell of a new book, to which nothing can compare.

I actually read this book last summer. I was in one of my marathon reading spells where I just crave reading a good book. I had read several of Jon Katz's books on his dogs and his farm and was just hungry for more of that kind of reading. I went to the library and scanned the shelves and I ran across this book. I brought it home and begin reading and couldn't put the book down. I read it like a starved woman. I read it like I was devouring a buffet after a month of doing without food. I immediately begin looking for her second book. Chosen Forever. I was unable to find it at the library. So I was forced to moved on to something else.
Over the Christmas holiday's I was in town one day and went by Tractor Supply. I like to go there and look around ever so often. The smell of the place reminds me of when we had our mini farm and it makes me feel good. I picked up the latest copy of Urban Farm magazine and as I was heading to the register, I found a bin of discounted books. What to my surprise, there it was, Susan Richards book. Of course I grabbed it up.

I am not disappointed by it. She continues the same great writing that was in her previous book. Today while searching the Internet for more books by Susan, I found this one. It was available for download on my Nook. Of course it is now in my e-library. I look forward to starting it. I'm sure it won't disappoint.

This one is about a subject that I love. Goats and all things goat related. I never dreamed that I would become such a lover of all things goat. After having goats for a time, and having to move back to the city living, I find myself longing more and more for the farm life. Goats are one of my favorite farm animals to have and raise. I hope that it won't be to long before I can again have the pleasure of owning goats.

Of course this one is just another in the long line of goat related literature that I possess. I haven't read it yet but plan to soon.

After reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I knew I wanted to read more books about people who were radically living for God. So this one seemed to fit the bill. It is a book in progress, one that I am reading a bit at a time.
This one is a tough one. I read about this one some time back. I wanted to read it then, but I hesitated. I just wasn't in the right place emotionally to tackle this sort of book. It just seemed to difficult to undertake at the time. When I saw it was available on Nook, I purchased it. I was saving it for the right moment to begin. That moment came last night. I was only able to read a little of the book before having to stop. It is just such an emotionally draining book. It is good, but heavy. So this one will be read slowly. At times when I feel I can take a little more in without it being to distressing on my psyche.

And finally, The Dirty Life. What can I say about this one. It was the first one I purchased on my Nook on Christmas day. I begin reading it the day after Christmas when we were "snowed in." I was pulled into the book in such a way that I haven't been for some time. It was as though I were in the book. As though I was in Upstate New York working this farm. It was an awesome read. Just the kind I like, and was just perfect for the long leisurely days after Christmas.
You may have noticed these books have one thing in common...they are all non-fiction books. Most of them are memoirs This I have come to realize is my favorite type of book to read.

**If you would like to read more about each book you can click on the photo and it will take you to a site with more information on each one. **

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow day

Happy New Year! Yes I know it is the 11th of January, so I'm running a bit late. Today is a snow day for us, the second this week. We had about six inches of snow and now a layer of ice on top which makes the conditions very messy.

We had about six to seven inches of snow the day after Christmas as well. Both snows were beautiful. I enjoyed sitting by the window and watching the silent snow fall to the ground and blanket us with white. Walking into the back yard was so nice. Something about the snow covering the ground that makes everything so quiet and peaceful. Like an insulator from the rest of the hustle and bustle of daily life. It was completely quiet. Normally you can hear the roar from the distant highway or the military planes going overhead. But for a time, everything was quiet. Almost as if I were in a cabin deep in the woods. Nice little winter break from the normal routine of life.

Inside the house is warm and toasty. We are all home together. A rare thing now days. Andrew sits at his computer, I at mine only a few feet away at the kitchen table. Noah is in the living room playing Star Wars Lego on the Wii. The girls sit across the room from one another each on her own laptops. The modern day family time. At least we are all together and we share a laugh or a story every once in a while.

On the stove is a pot of Zuppa Toscana ready for a warm, hearty lunch. All seems right in the world. At least in our little part. No one has anything pressing to do or work on. Just a few extra moments of leisure given as a gift to our otherwise busy lives. In a day or two all will return to normal. Noah will go back to school, Andrew will return to the business of building and scheduling and deadlines. Lauren will go back to work for what will be her last week at her current job. More on that later. Megan will resume her school work and I will return to the chores of cleaning house, washing laundry and transporting Megan and Noah here and there. But just for a couple of days, we are free, suspended here together in one place just enjoying a chance to just relax and do nothing of much consequence, but just to enjoy.

So back to Lauren's job issue. She has finally decided to return to college! For which I am so thankful. So she will be leaving her full time job and seeking part time employment while she attends classes. She has an interview tomorrow afternoon for what I hope will become her new work. She will be taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday's. This semester she has enrolled in three classes. Her major; Criminal Justice with Latent Evidence Technology. She hopes to work in a crime lab. She then plans to continue her educational pursuits in the field of psychology, possibly going on to get a masters in psychology. But for now, one step at a time. I am thankful she has decided to take the first step.

Speaking of first steps, I have enrolled in a class this semester. I have for years considered going back to school to pursue a Radiography degree. I currently have a BS in Social Science with a history minor. I taught school for a short time, but have never really used my degree for any other gainful employment. To be quite honest, I have no desire to work in that field anymore. At one time I suppose I did, however, with time I have found that is not really of much interest to me. I have been attracted to the medical field in some form or fashion.

Seven years ago I checked into the program, and even went as far as doing some of the pre-req work of shadowing in a Radiology department. During that time, Andrew and I decided to try to have another child. Not long afterwards, I got pregnant. But it was not to be, I had a miscarriage at twelve weeks. At that time, the company Andrew works for moved us to Little Rock, Arkansas. Within three weeks I was pregnant again. This time we were blessed with our wonderful gift from God; Noah. What a great and awesome gift! So for the next few years I was busy with more important things than going back to school. I did however, during this time think of possible entering the nursing field at some point, and I continued to entertain the idea of radiography. Like with everything else in my life, I find that if there is something that you really want, if you are patient, God will bring the opportunity back around later on down the road of life. So many things in my life has shown this to be true.

So here we are several years and two states later, Noah is now in pre-school and I am offered the opportunity to pursue this option for my life. So one step at a time. I have a couple of pre-req classes that are required that weren't required for my first degree. Those being science. Chemistry and Biology specifically. The chemistry class wasn't offered at a time this semester that I was able to take it. Noah's school is only three hours a day, so I was working within that time frame or an evening class. But the Biology was offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. So I am taking Anatomy and Physiology I. I am very excited about it, however, a bit nervous at the same time. I haven't been in a classroom setting since graduating nearly thirteen years ago. I have also been told that Anatomy and Physiology is a pretty tough course. But I am sure that with God's help, I will manage to do fine.

I am excited by the new doors of opportunity that are opening. It will take some time, but like the Earl Nightingale quote goes :

"Don't let the amount of time to do a thing hinder you from doing it. The time will pass anyway, so you might as well put that passing to the best possible use."

So the journey begins. One step at a time and eventually I will get there. The journey of a thousand miles...


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