Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Shed & Photos

Note: If you are scrolling through my main blog page, you may be seeing the roasted red pepper photos duplicated, below.  Simply click on this blog header to go to the full entry with correct photos.

We've made significant progress on the garden shed (and that's the universal "we" - as in HandyMan has done most of the work).  Once the windows go in (selvaged from replacing the windows in the house), the roofing asphalt goes on, and the door is framed out, it will be ready for storage!  I'm sure HandyMan has a few more steps in there, but thats the nutshell.

This week  I'm going to let the veggie photos and captions speak for themselves.[gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Monday, August 30, 2010

September Batch Cooking

batchcookingjpg



9/10/2010 Note: If you're visiting from MoneySavingMom, I posted this when I did my batch cooking last week.  The providence of this shone true this week when chaos hit our house this week!


Over the summer I've fallen off my batch cooking wagon and my meal planning habits. Now, it is time to get back into shape in the kitchen and get back into shape myself! In order to get myself in better shape and to keep HandyMan and Gbaby's hollow legs full, some meal planning is necessary so that we don't break the bank.


I've added more proteins in my diet and more vegetables to all of our plates. The biggest change in our meals is to have the carbohydrate component as a side to the veggies and proteins, so that we can all get what we need at the dinner table. My all in one type dishes, like lasagna and enchiladas, will carry more veggies and minimal carbohydrates per serving.


Since I'm batch cooking around the whims of a toddler, the days of getting the once a month cooking done in one day, are not a reality.  I've broken my plan down into projects per day:


Monday: Baking Kits (Biscuits, Cornbread), Instant Oatmeal Kits, Veggie Quiches


Tuesday: Batch cook Black Beans & Pintos, Coconut Beans & Rice Kit, portion Beans for freezer


Wendesday: Ground Beef Meals (Lasagna, Taco Packets, Cowboy Beans kit, Chili Kit, Beef & Barley Soup Kit)


Thursday: Cook Chicken, Chicken Enchiladas, chicken kits for salads, Souffl├ęs, Macaroni & Cheese sides


Friday: Finish whatever wasn't done and clean up the mess!


I've linked up my recipes and the recipes I've found elsewhere on the net.  The other's I'll share next week.  Stay tuned, I will post later in the week to let you know how things are going.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Kid Adventures

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week was week 2 of HandyMan's staycation.  It brought more progress on our garden shed with the help of friends.  A day of rain brought some extra time for me to work on inside projects.

carGBaby and I were treated to a fun visit to a local butterfly conservatory.  It was such fun watching GBaby take it all in and then begin to explore the new environment.  We headed south for the weekend to visit with dear friends who were "nearby" from out of state.  We had a great adventure at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.  I'm really not sure who had more fun - GBaby or the four adults who tried to keep track of her amongst the many exhibit and other kids!

We wrapped up our weekend visiting with HandyMan's mom where GBaby happily played in the water fountain on the back patio for many hours!

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Easy Caprese

When fresh tomatoes and basil are in season, there is nothing better than a Caprese Salad. I had hoped to have fresh mozzarella to use for this years first Caprese, but instead, I used the  ricotta and it was just as heavenly! Here's the “recipe”.



Easy Caprese Saladcaprese


1 plate of Tomato Slices


Fresh Mozzarella slices to match the slices (or dollops of ricotta!)


20 + fresh Basil leaves


3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar


3 Tbs Olive Oil


Salt & Pepper to taste


Directions


Layer the tomatoes on the bottom, top with cheese and basil. Drizzle the stacks with the oil and vinegar. Follow with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!


This post is linked at GoodCheapEats - What's on Your Plate and It's A Blog Party: Delicious Dishes

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cheese Making 101: Mastering Method

A number of years ago, I completed a bachelors degree in Applied Mathematics. I am a firm believer in partial credit so I don't consider this cheese making adventure a complete failure. I followed all the directions and ended up with an edible product off of one batch and some amazing ricotta off the other batch. As far as yummy, smooth mozzarella that “pulled like taffy” as my resource web sites here and here described, that was a fail. Overall, in this experience of trying to make mozzarella, I give myself a C.


cheese1I tried two batches. One batch I followed the Junkett recipe with a cross between their directions and the directions at Heavenly Homemakers, including hanging it to drain the whey overnight. I think that was mistake number one. The final product of this was a dry, grainy, firm, rubbery ball of curd that doesn't melt, but tastes ok.


cheese2With the second batch, the curds looked really promising. I switched to the microwave directions from the Junkett for firming up the curds. Still didn't work. Once it set, the curd was much like a rich, thick ricotta that is very yummy!


I did some research after this project and found this site. From their pictures, I concluded that my milk was not fresh enough. Next time, I'm going to try finding a local brand of milk and give that a try, or try their powdered milk/heavy cream option. Stay tuned for Cheese Making 102.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Garden Party: The Shed

We have had two and a half days of rain.  So much rain, that it filled the kiddie pool for us.  The grass has also grown, and the weeds have taken a further hold in my garden. I feel the end of season coming, but know that it's still a ways off.  Especially since my tomatoes are just getting started.  They loved the rain and I was happy to see a bunch of green tomatoes out there!  A few days of sun and they'll ripen right up.   My second planting of green beans are blossoming and some of my pumpkins are well on their way to orange.  I've pulled up some fresh carrots that have already been devoured and a bit of rosemary that will go in grilled potatoes tonight.

What is showing the most signs of progress is the Garden Shed!  We decided that it would be more convenient (and free up more space in the garage) if we put up a shed that would house the lawn and garden equipment.  HandyMan has been busy on his staycation this past week and a half.  We have floor done, walls framed out and part of the roofing rafters in.   We've had some great help and also have wonderful friends coming to help us out on it this afternoon and evening so we'll see how far we get tonight.  Hopefully by next week it will be even closer to, if not, done.[gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

HandyMan has been off work this week and we have filled up week one of ourstaycation.  The weather has been beautiful! I have taken time to work on a number of projects in my garden, in my candle shop and in the kitchen.  We have been blessed by the help of friends as we both work on our respective projects.

At this point in our two week respite, HandyMan's project is well underway thanks to the help of a friendly neighbor visiting across the road.  A framer by trade, the neighbor helped HandyMan get all four walls framed out in one afternoon.  This skilled tradesman could breath the measurements, flick a pencil and everything was marked out in a matter of seconds - work that would have taken us much longer!  Such a surprise and a HUGE blessing!

We were able to spend a relaxed evening with friends and visit over dinner and watch kids play in the cool evening.  It was very nice.

Today is a wonderfully rainy day. One of the first we've had in a long while.  It is good for the farms, for our garden and for a nap!

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Freezer Friday: Pepper Bombs & Portioned Squash

freezerfridaysm This time of the year, my local produce market often has deals that are just too good to pass up.  This week it was large baskets of beautiful red peppers.  I got 16 red bell peppers for $4.  I got half of them chopped up into Pepper Bombs yesterday and will try to get the rest in the freezer today.

redpepper

I also have come into some zucchini and yellow squash (from the gardens of others) that have been shredded and pureed and frozen in portions.  This way when I'm ready to make my Hidden Veggie desserts and breads, my veggies will be ready.

What have you put away for a cooler day?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clean Space

410_Office_empty The space that I call my work room is a multipurpose space.  I use it for soy candles, for sewing, or for whatever other project I’m currently working on.  When necessary, all my projects can get put away, and I have extra guest room space.  As part of preparations for The Weekend, I cleared out my work room.  Almost all signs of candle production were stowed away.  All equipment for craft fairs, stashed (or used elsewhere –tent and tables got put to work!)

The bonus of having put everything away last week is that now as I work my way towards my fall projects, I have a clean space to start with.  I have some sewing and mending projects waiting for me.  I also have to get my candle-making-behind in gear to get ready for the Bainbridge Market on September 4th and the Greene Apple Festival on September 25th.

In the next week, I hope to let some of the candle making supplies seep back into this clean space and hopefully get the sewing machine out to begin preparing for fall.  What projects are you working on as fall approaches?

Note: Picture is not my Empty Space, as mine is a bit less "pretty".  The empty space pictured is from a Google image search and original site is linked through the photo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grown Up Granola Bars

HandyMan volunteers as an assistant coach with our local high school soccer team and pre-season practices start this week.  Since HandyMan is not too far removed from those he is coaching, he comes home with the appetite similar to that team members.  So for soccer season, I make sure to have lots of dense snacks around that are sure to fill him up - and balance some of the calories with some healthy stuff.

granbarsThis is one of those recipes.  We love the sweet and salty combination found in a certain commercial granola bar and I like to use whole grains where possible.  This trifecta perfectly matches great taste, healthy whole grains and budget friendly all into one dense snack!

Grown Up Granola Bars


4 cups Quick Oats (Rolled oats may not hold together as well)

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup Wheat Germ

1/2 cup Ground Flax Seeds

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Honey (I used part cheap pancake syrup as I didn't have enough honey on hand)

3 Eggs, beaten

1 cup Vegetable Oil

2 cups Chocolate Chips

2 cups Dry Roasted Peanuts (coarsely chopped)

Directions

1.  Beat together oil, honey, brown sugar and eggs.

2.  In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, flax seeds and wheat germ.

3.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Then fold in peanuts and chocolate chips.

4.  Press dough into a large jelly roll pan (11" x 16").  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

5.  Allow to set about 10 minutes, cut in the pan and then allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.  Store in an airtight container.  I cut them to fit in the snack size baggies and usually get about 36 out of a pan.

This post is linked up to Life as Mom's Frugal Friday and It's A Blog Party: Delicious Dishes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tomatoes!

I love the fact that my garden has been taking care of itself the last week.  With the bits of rain we've gotten, I haven't had to water.  I pull a few hands full of weeds when I'm out there - barely putting a dent into the overgrowth of native grasses.  But more or less, my garden is at a pretty independent stage.

All those bold tomatoes that have been sporting their hints of orange for weeks are finally turning red!

17augGarden2

This little butternut is getting close too:

17augGarden4

Shades of orange are beginning to show on my little pie pumpkins:

17augGarden3

My green beans are doing well and I have lots of blossoms on my first planting again and my second planting are looking good- probably another week or so away from beans.

My white hostas are in bloom in my flower bed and I've gotten a couple stems of gladiolas back.  I didn't dig up my bulbs at the end of last season as I should have, but apparently the peach glads are a hearty bunch!

17augGarden1

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Re-inspiration

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week brought a wonderful day with a dear friend, Greek food, and much needed naps for both GBaby and myself.  It seems as if this summer has been on fast forward and now it's the middle of August - it was time to slow down and try to catch my breath.    I let go of some of the things that seemed so important -hence fewer blog posts, less cleaning, less tasks - and this week involved more time with people.

I worked my hours at Made In Chenango one day this week, which gave me a day to catch up on my computer work and offline correspondence.  One day I gave myself permission to rest.  One day was beautifully sunny and spent catching upon laundry.

In this down time of sorts, I dreamed of sewing projects, kitchen projects, and de-cluttering.  I was re-inspired to do what I do as the Mom and household manager, and to to it well.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garden Update: Bush Beans for Dummies

2010gardenI’m a bush bean dummy.  Remember, my bush beans were planted by accident, and I haven't had much time to research.  So, silly me didn’t realize that they will blossom and produce multiple crops.  Imagine my delight and surprise when I started seeing another wave of blossoms on the little bushes that were part of the first planting.  My second planting is beginning to show signs of blossoms to come.  There is hope of loading my freezer of one of GBaby’s favorite veggies after all!

In other news, my tomatoes are getting close!  I think I may have ripe tomatoes to report next week.  My butternut squash and pumpkins are beginning to show tints of peach and orange, but still have a ways to go.  I’m down to one living acorn squash bush/vine, I’m holding out hope for at least one gourd to make it!

(Sorry, no pictures this week as I have run out of daylight hours again today!  I'll have more next week.)

*Linked up to An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Sunshine

sprinklerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Sunday slipped away, full of family, friends and food.  All the makings of a great weekend. We were so bless to have extended family and friends come to visit from all over the country an be present for GBaby's baptism and reception.  Last week was so full of preparations for The Weekend and Vacation Bible School and all went well.

We had beautiful weather for the weekend.  I had such fun giving the kids garden tours and watching them explore all the different plants looking for fruits and being fascinated by the bugs and frogs and flowers.   Granddad put up ropes to hang GBaby's swing from a tree in the back yard, now all she wants to do is "zing -zing".  We were also gifted a great new sprinkler for the back yard.  Granny and Granddad babysat on Friday night while we finished out VBS, allowing G to just go to bed - she had been such a trooper all week but really needed the evening home!

This evening we get to share dinner with a dear friend on our way to getting her to the airport.  What a wonderful way to finish off a great weekend!

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sick Plants

I have a few plants in my garden that are doing great.  My pumpkins are taking over like they're on drugs - I counted at least 8 little guys out there this morning.

Aug8garden3

My green peppers look beautiful, although I only have one little pepper to show for it:

Aug8garden1My poor acorn squash were looking all wimpy and when I inspected further, I found that the main stem is hollowed out and it killed the plant.  Could this be the work of cut worms?  Any other guesses?

Aug8garden2Finally, my tomatoes are a little less bushy than I would like and while I'm used to the leaves curling a little bit because of the hanging style of planting, all the yellow leaves are not so good.  I gave them some plant food this morning and I'm hoping they'll perk up and be happy and grow lots of tomatoes in the next couple weeks.

Aug8garden4How are your gardens?

Linked at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Monday, August 2, 2010

Party Planning: Prep List

On Friday, I mentioned The Weekend I have coming up.  I am a planner by nature, added to time spent hanging around in the kitchen at a summer camp, I’ve come to rely on detailed lists.  In the camp kitchen, the whiteboard was THE plan for the day for every detail that needed to be done (down to things that needed to be pulled from the freezer to defrost for future meals in the week).

This week, there is a lot going on, but I *plan* on prepping 15 minutes to an hour each day so that I can fully enjoy the time visiting with family and friends.  I can also plan the baking at the same time to minimize the oven heating up the house.  So I've broken the tasks down for each dish I am preparing and spread the steps out over the week.  Since I took the time to sort it out step by step before the chaos of the week began, I don't have to think about it later and make sure I've got it all.  I can just do it!

Saturday Dinner: Fajitas (#beef & #chicken) with grilled onions and peppers, black beans, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, Cookie Icecream Sandwiches

Sunday Breakfast: Quick Breads and Fresh Fruit

Sunday Lunch: BBQ Beef Sandwiches, #Baked beans, #Pasta Salad, Potato Salad, Cheesecake Bars with Strawberry & Blueberry Spread/Sauce

(#Items others are contributing to the festivities)

The Prep Plan


Tuesday:

*Prep Freezer Cookie Dough

*Defrost Brisket



Wednesday:

*Prep Fajita Marinade

*Grate Cheese,

*Make ice & lemonade cubes to the freezer

Thursday:

*Cook Brisket overnight,

*Make ice & lemonade cubes to the freezer

Friday:

*Shred meat,

*Make BBQ Sauce,

*Chop Peppers & Onions for Fajitas

*Defrost Black Beans & Sandwich Roll Dough

*Make ice & lemonade cubes to the freezer

Saturday AM:

*Defrost Tortillas, Quick Breads

*Fill fruit basket, cut melon

*Bake Cookies

*Marinade Fajita Meat

*Cheesecake Bars

*Potato Salad

*Fajita condiments to serving dishes.

*Make Lemonade to Fridge

Saturday Evening & Sunday: Enjoy the friends, visit, catch up, laugh, love!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Following a weekend with my parents, Monday and Tuesday brought a great visit with a good friend.  It was such fun to watch our kids play together and explore the water, the playgrounds and their world around them.  Since GBaby was the youngest it was particularly fun to watch her try to keep up with the older ones.

IMG00378

I came home to more produce from the garden and pleasantly cooler weather.  I'm setting up our snack area for next week's Vacation Bible School and was blessed by the many hands that were there to help-especially since GBaby was somewhat under the weather and super clingy!

I also spent two days working my hours at Made in Chenango, which was a great break from the normal routine for me.  HandyMan was a particularly great help once we got home this week - pitching in with the laundry, cleaning, diapers and time with GBaby.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!