Friday, April 30, 2010

This garden is NOT going as planned!

GGGRRRR!!! What a year to try to garden! My whole plan went out the window when we decided to move to Kansas. I don't know what I'm doing anymore.  

Usually we rent a big rear tine tiller on some Saturday and work up our garden plots twice before we plant. But since DR has been busy tying up loose ends on Saturdays and the weather hasn't been cooperating, the storm clouds are rolling in as I type, I attempted to get to work on my own this week during the good days.

This is one garden plot. See the green stuff? Yeah, those are weeds. I probably should have done something about those last fall. I'm not the BEST gardener folks.

For the last two years we've planted two garden plots; beans, peas, cucumbers, carrots, sunflowers, black beans, radishes, onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, popcorn, potatoes, spinach, lettuce, pumpkins, zuchinni. I think that's all. One plot is over there near the grain bin. See it? The one with the tree stump is closest to the house.

This year, since we are moving and I don't know when, I'm only putting in a small garden in the plot closest to the house. It measures about 36' x 36'.

I attempted to work it all up with this little $100 tiller that we usually reserve for weeding between the rows. It worked long enough for me to get a spot measuring about 20' x 27' worked up. But then it broke!! See the handle thing you pull to start the engine? Well, it stopped working. It doesn't spring back and now I don't have a workable tiller. So I resorted to putting in seeds in what I'd already worked up. So far only small rows of carrots, peas, beans, radishes and cucumbers have been planted.

Did I mention it was REALLY windy today too? Gusts of 30 mph or so. Do you know how hard it is to plant carrot seeds in wind gusts?

My poor hollyhocks may get blown over.

I was so mad at this point, wind and a broken tiller, I mixed up a double batch of chocolate chip cookies and ate a big giant spoonful....or five.....okay, I didn't count how much I ate. Don't judge me people, I'm a grumpy gardener.

Of course, it hasn't been all bad today. When she wasn't digging up my seeds, Yahoo was enjoying the dirt.

She even took a big mouthful....good for her!

And Yap volunteered to cut spinach for dinner all by himself. I was so proud of him! He was eating big handfuls as he went!

I know what you are thinking.

"Prairie Mother, aren't you just starting a garden today? Where did that spinach come from?"

Well, it grew from spinach that went to seed last fall. See? I told you I'm not that good of a gardener! Dinner for the grumpy gardener tonight will be spinach and chocolate chip cookies. Care to join me?

Foody Friday - Healthy Granola Bars

Don't these look yummy! These have become my favorite cookies. Chewy, healthy, and easy to eat on the go! I found this recipe on but modified it for our own tastes.

Healthy Granola Bars

2 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
1 c. applesauce
3 T flaxseed
1/4 c. honey
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. cranberries or raisins
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
3 T. sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Lightly press mixture into a prepared pan. Bake at 325 F for about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. Let cool completely in pan before removing. Makes 24 bars. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photo Thursday - DR

DR getting ready to work in the garden. I like the sepia effect. It kind of looks like an old tintype or daguerreotype.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Gypsy Life; The Never Ending Road Trip.

A couple weeks ago I posted about flying out to Kansas for a job interview with DR. Over the last couple weeks, he has finished the second part of interview and talked to many people regarding this position. We both feel confident that this is a good move for his career and for our family. Therefore very soon we will be moving to Kansas.

Now, if you are reading this and part of my family, you are probably shaking your head and saying, "Moving again? Those poor guys!"  If you aren't part of my family you need to be filled in on the gypsy existence and never ending road trip our family has been on the last seven years.

Quick timeline;
Aug. 2003 - DR and I were married and I moved from central Indiana to Kentucky.
March. 2004 - DR's job moved him, temporarily, to Delaware. I was two months pregnant with twins. I move in with my sister in Indianapolis because we don't know how long "temporary" will be and what issues we may have with twins. So for the next few months DR and I flew back and forth to see one another. In June, "temporary" became permanent and I am told by my doctor to no longer fly.
August/Sept. 2004- Yip and Yap were born very healthy and a month later my mom and I drove to Delaware with the babies. DR didn't like the position he was forced into with this company and so....
January 2005 - My parents and teenage brother came to Delaware and helped move us back to northern Indiana....through a blizzard....with 5 month old a rental house that I'd only seen once.....two years before.  
October 2005 - We moved again to a house we bought two streets away because,you know, we thought we'd be there for a while.
July 2006 - DR is asked to take a position in southern Indiana close to his family....we move again.
October 2007 - The company moved us again to where we are now, central Illinois close to the Indiana state line. This is the longest we have been in one place since DR and I have been married.
Today- We are preparing to move to southwest Kansas.

In seven years we have lived in four different states and in six different houses. And now we are contemplating the biggest move yet to southwest Kansas.....and I have to admit I'm very excited about the idea of moving again. During the years of moving I've had conflicting emotions about the moves; anxiety, eagerness, anger, happiness. There was always a lot of unknown variables to every move but in every community we moved to I always found wonderful people, places and attractions. I've learned a few things in my years as a gypsy that have positively changed my outlook on life.

My Grandma M. asked me once which was my favorite house of those we had lived in. I couldn't pick one. We've owned and rented houses that were two stories and ranch homes. Some had basements, some didn't. We've lived in big towns, small towns, and in the country. There was something I loved and hated about every house.  I've learned to be flexible because no house is perfect. The house itself isn't important; it's the family and home that is built within the walls that counts. This time, I doubt I'll even see the house in person before we move there. I trust DR to find a good house because he knows what we need and what I want. My only request is a house that is self-cleaning!! Is that too much to ask?

A lousy part of moving, of course, is the packing and unpacking. A few of our moves we have been lucky enough to have movers pack everything up for us, but not always. Although it may be in our genetics for DR and I to be packrats, we have learned that we just don't need....stuff.  Therefore I'm constantly cleaning out cabinets, closets and toyboxes of stuff we just don't need because I don't want to pack or unpack it. I've learned that when I'm not attached to stuff I enjoy my day to day life much more. It's kind of hard to explain, but I'm less stressed about losing things or possessions getting stolen. Oh, I still have some stuff that is very important to me like family heirlooms but the possessions I would have been attached to ten years ago don't seem nearly as valuable now.

Personally, the most difficult part of moving has been meeting new people. I have never been what you call a "social butterfly"; I'm more the "wall flower type". Even though it seems we'ved moved a thousand times and I've met many new people, it's always hard to put myself out there for the first time and form new relationships. I'm perfectly happy as the hermit, staying at home and becoming engrossed in my own projects. The thing is, I've very rarely been disappointed when I finally got to know people in a new community. People everywhere are just wonderful and I miss each and every one of my friends we have moved away from. I have become more confident in myself over the years when approaching people but I still have a long way to go.

The best part of moving, by far, is seeing new places and taking advantage of different opportunities each community provides. Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Gettysburg, Statue of Liberty, West Baden Springs are places we've visited that we might not have if we hadn't move close to each location. I'm excited about all places we could go to from Kansas. The Rockies aren't too far and I'd love for the boys to see history first hand in Dodge City, the Queen of the Cowtowns. Of course everywhere we have lived we've found little gems in each community too. The hedgehog at the library the boys loved to visit. The art guild of which I was a member. The playground and grocery store within walking distance of our house. The little things create memories as well as the big things. 

Why would I be upset about moving again? Before I married DR, I loved to travel! I've had the opportunity to travel across the country; Washington, Arizona, South Carolina, Texas to name a few. We are on this earth for such a short amount of time and this world is oh so big. I want to see as much of it as I can! Rather than be grumpy about moving I'm looking at it as an adventure full of opportunities. Who knows what Kansas will bring? All I know is that I'm ready and we will do great!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Good Herb - Book Giveaway!

The next book giveaway, The Good Herb: Recipes and Remedies from Nature, by Judith Benn Hurley.

I bought this book a few years ago with the intention of starting an herb garden, drying herbs and cooking with herbs. I did start an herb bed at our last house in southern Indiana but I haven't had one since so that's why I'm giving this book away.

Not only does this book contain recipes and remedies but also lore and legend and tips for growing each herb.

Here's a bit of a teaser for you;

Broccoli and Potatoes with Dill (pg 94)

2 med. diced red potatoes
handful of fresh dill sprigs
1 1/4 cups of broccoli florets
3 minced scallions
2 t capers
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t olive oil
1 t minced fresh dill or 1/2 t dried
fresh ground pepper

Steam the potatoes, covered, over boiling water to which you've added the handful of dill for about 5 minuters. Add the broccoli and continue steaming until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes more.

Tip the potatoes and broccoli into a large serving bown and add scallions, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, and pepper to taste. Toss well. Serve warm as a side dish or very slightly chilled as a salad. Or use as a filling for crepes or omelettes.

To Enter this Book Giveaway;

1.  Leave a comment below and/or...
2. Leave a comment on my Facebook Fan Page.

Winner will be chosen at random next Monday evening and announced Tuesday!  Good Luck!

Househusband Book Giveaway Winner!!

And the winner of the my Househusband Book Giveaway is......

Congrats Abby!!
Contact me and let me know where to send your book!

The next book giveaway will start this afternoon, stay tuned.
Hint; gardeners will like this one!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Marker Monday - Tin Can Lantern

I found a book on colonial crafts at the library with the intention of building a drop spindle to spin wool my sister sent me. That was an utter disaster that doesn't even warrant its own blog post.

But in the same book (sorry, I already returned it and don't remember the title) we did find instructions on how to make a tin can lantern. Paul Revere was a silversmith and probably made similar lanterns in his day.

First fill a clean tin can with water and freeze overnight. The ice prevents the can from being smashed while you are hammering the holes.

Then draw on a design with a permanent marker.

Using a large nail and hammer make holes along the lines of your design. The closer the holes the better your design will turn out. If you don't make enough holes, the light won't shine out well and your design won't show up very well. Don't forget to draw a dot on each side at the top. That's where you'll put your handle.

Yap. We found laying the can on a towel keeps it from sliding around and makes it much easier to handle. Also, if you get tired working on it just pop it back into the freezer until you are ready to work on it again.

Yip...he sooned learned this little toy hammer wouldn't work... he passed it on to Yahoo to play with.

When you are all done with your design allow the ice to melt out of your cans. We used a 15 oz (left) and 48 oz (right) size cans.

Cut a wire hanger about 10 inches for the small can and 12 inches for the large can.

Bend the wire with pliers to look like this.

Then attach to your lantern. You might need to use the pliers to bend it some more to make it fit.

And now you have your own colonial lantern. (Sorry for the lousy pic! I'm still trying to figure out how to take good night time shots.:P )

We are planning on hanging these outside on the porch when the wind settles down this summer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Devotions for Kids - "Feed My Sheep"

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
 John 21:17

After Jesus died on the cross and came back to life, he appeared to his disciples many times before he returned to heaven. One such time, he appeared to Peter and other disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galillee. As he speaks to Peter, Jesus asks three times.."Do you love me." Each time Peter answer is yes. Jesus responds, "Feed my sheep."

"Feed my sheep." What a simple request Jesus made of Peter.

But what does "Feed my sheep." truly mean?

In the time of Jesus sheperds cared for their sheep day and night. The animals grazed and slept on the hills and so did the sheperds. The sheperds showed great devotion to the care and well being of the flock, doing all they could to feed them and attend to all their needs at all times. Jesus often used the analogy of sheep and sheperds during his ministry.

Jesus is our sheperd, caring for us day and night. But when he told Peter, "Feed my sheep.", it was his way of passing on the sheperd's responsibilities to Peter. Take care of God's people Peter, all their needs, day and night.

As a Christian we need to listen to Jesus' command to Peter as a command to us. Jesus wants US to feed his sheep too, day and night. God doesn't only want us to watch over those people in our church or our family but people we see in need everywhere.

Not sure where to start "feeding his sheep"? Even though God's people are spread across the world, we don't have to travel the ocean to feed his sheep. Look around where you live. Who needs help close by? Maybe you can start by donating food to the local food pantry or better yet, volunteering there. Maybe volunteer or give supplies to your local animal shelter.

Dear God, Thank your the most simple of your commandments; to care for and love your children, your sheep. Help us Lord to reach out and help those in need, close or far. Amen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Who Needs Toys??

(pssst...don't forget to enter my book giveaway!)

Who needs toys.....when you have corncobs?  Yap and his "submarine fleet" in the sandbox.
He spent hours playing in the sand like this. No toys. No shovels. Accompanied only by his own torpedo sound effects.
Every summer is like this; I find him in the sandbox engrossed in the details of a world of his own creation. Focused and intent on the important task at hand. He can't be bothered by siblings or parents or dinner!
Who knew all that he needs to be happy is leftovers from last harvest? The world of boys continues to amaze and confuse me.  

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuffed Pork Steak - Foody Friday

Guess what! Today's recipe is NOT BREAD! I bet that's all you thought my family ever ate didn't you?? However the men in this house are quite the carnivores so I'm familiar with meat, just not very confident with it.....yet.

But here is one I love!! Stuffed Pork Steak! It goes great with Spaetzle. (This recipe works great with chicken breasts too. )
First get you meat and pound it out nice and thin.
Plus, you can count swinging a big old meat hammer as your upper arm workout for the day. Multi-tasking people!!

Liberally season your steaks. I like to use lemon pepper but seasoned salt or salt and pepper would be good too. Experiment!! Then lay a row of cheese in the middle. I used Munster cheese but take your pick. Mozzarella would be great too.

Add some spinach on top. I used frozen spinach just because I didn't have fresh on hand.
Roll up your meat and stick a toothpick in it to hold it together.
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a hot skillet and brown all sides, a minute or two each side.
Remove and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese. Put into an oven heated to 375 for about 30 minutes or so.
Wallah!! Yum, yum!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo Thursday - Spring Flowers

I don't consider myself too girly. Those of you who know me are probably shaking your head in agreement. Very rarely do I wear anything pink or flowery or bright. But I love flowers and have been taking pictures of flowers everywhere this spring. So today I'm sharing just a few of my favorite shots. Enjoy.

(Don't forget to check out my book giveaway!)

This one is my favorite. I'm not sure what kind of plant it is. Anyone know?

Violets in the back yard.

I know, not a flower but Yip found this on the back porch and wanted a picture. I just wish I could have gotten it more in focus but I was holding a baby at the time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why Boys Fail - Whatever Wednesday

I recently finished the book Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind, published 2010.  DR recommended it after he saw it on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind

As a teacher I saw many boys disinterested in school including my own brothers and as I a parent I don't want Yip and Yap to come to despise school in their teen years or even earlier. 

The author, Richard Whitmire, begins with a number of statistics found worldwide, not just in the United States.

- 1 in 4 boys who have a college educated parent can't read a newspaper with understanding.

- College graduating classes are roughly 60 % female and 40% male, with male enrollment constantly falling.

- These gender gaps show up in all races and classes.

These, along with other statistics, suggest boys are falling behind and failing at an alarming rate.

The authors conclusion is, The world has gotten more verbal; boys haven't.

Throughout the book Whitmire cites how poor boys literacy skills have become. Many make it to middle school with poor reading and writing skills and can't comprehend the content in other disciplines; science, history, etc. 

Whitmire goes on to look at likely causes of reading lapses. For example; lack of good reading instruction programs and lack of books that boys want to read, not enough writing assignments given or topics that are unimportant to boys.

The book continues by addressing what gets unfairly blamed for the gender gaps, possible solutions to get our boys caught up in literacy, why these gender gaps matter (ex: marriageable mates) and what actions need to be taken.

Whitmire concedes that he is not an expert on this issue but numbers don't lie. The reason he wrote this book was to get the attention of the federal government to put the time and money into getting our boys, and our nation, back on track globally.

I've only briefly touched upon the content of this book and the major points Whitmire covers. As a mother of boys I would recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the education and future prospects of their sons, grandsons or nephews.

Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy ManP.S. - I am currently reading Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy Man (again) and would also recommend it to parents of boys. It is a good book to read along with Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind.
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