Friday, April 27, 2007

"Kitchen Day" again

This past Tuesday was Kitchen Day, of course, but it didn't work out like last week's. I acquired the usual Tuesday things: Kinda Local Organic milk (with an extra blessing of cream!), and then got an early start on some other dinner items.
Namely 40 day-old cornish cross chicks, which in 8 weeks will be appropriate table fare. I would like 30 for myself (well, I guess I could share with Hubby and the kids), and that leaves room for a few for a friend and some to accidentally kill, which we managed already. The girls found a dead chick today and promptly brought it in the house to show me. Very nice of them. They’re in my redneck-fashion chick brooder, which once was a large field pig-feeder. About 5 feet tall, and almost that across, it’s lid became the hood (Hubby put a socket for the bulb in the middle) and the walls of it were rearranged to become a circular 2’ high wall or so, about 8’ across. It does the job nicely.

The hens seem to be laying sporadically, perhaps based on the weather. One day we had 23, the next, 14. We have at least one hen that will crack and eat an egg, but we’re not sure what to do with her (or if it’s more than one). It doesn’t seem to happen every day.

Thursday we went to town and did errands, including buying a small locking file cabinet to put the “school stuff” in. Little Monkey has a hard time understanding that “school stuff” is only for “school time” and not to be drug around the house “all the time”. I would like to keep the special-ness from wearing off too soon. Hubby let me go to town to get the file cabinet and make a trip to Costco without removing 3 bags of feed from the trunk, which made situating our purchases interesting!

I also made three triple batches of ice cream on Thursday. Blueberry, Chocolate, and Strawberry. With the 2 birthdays coming up, and my reluctance for store-bought poison, I thought I better take care of business before my sweet cream turned to sour cream. And it DID help me use up 21 egg yolks. Now to determine a “cake”. Perhaps the oatmeal cake I make for breakfast sometimes?

The kids and I are leaving town for a day to visit Gi-gi and stuff.

I had to abandon my post for a while; Little Monkey got into daddy’s coffee beans and strew them from one end of the living room to the other end of the dining room. Not a small area. We cleaned that up and fed the critters in time for Big Sister to whack Little Monkey with a broom and she came in dripping a bloody nose all over. So we’re a bit late to leave town, but we’re going!

Monday, April 23, 2007

My littlest will be 3 in less than 2 weeks. Amazing. Hubby turns 29 next week, 5 days before her birthday. She is truly his little girl, I'm afraid...

Hubby was one of those kids everyone worried about. Diagnosed with ADD or whatever the fad was, and always into some kind of trouble; intentional or otherwise. I recall a story of some relative (great uncle or somesuch) showing up in the neighborhood to show off his brand new, shiny Lincoln. Everyone gathered 'round to admire it, and then headed into Hubby's grandparents' home... Everyone except Hubby. Hubby got an idea. He retrieved the garden hose, which had a sprinkler-attachment on it, and carefully placed it in the center of the interior of the new Lincoln, and headed for the faucet. An uncle snatched him up right before he got the job done, thankfully, but that was pretty typical for him. And yes, he has red curly hair.

Little Monkey doesn't have red hair, but it's VERY curly. Curly and golden, like an angel. She even has those rosy cherubic cheeks and sparkling brown eyes, but behind the image of innocence lies her daddy's mischievousness. Yesterday she found time to move all of my non-hanging pots and lids to the family room. She arranged them on the coffee table, and got a large restaurant-style stainless spoon and the 3 pound tub of Smart Balance. She scooped the margarine into each pot and lid, and stirred briskly. Then abandoned the cooking trial for something else. Today we can't find my 5 year old's pants. I mean, we know where yesterday's mud and grass-stained ones are (in the laundry), but as for the rest of them, we have no idea. ALL the pants from her drawer are missing. Little Monkey can't seem to recall where she put them, though she has admitted to taking them from the drawer. I have checked everywhere - everywhere! Toy boxes, closets, under beds, in the washer, bathroom drawers, kitchen cupboards... To no avail. On Saturday she dumped out a 3-gallon bucket full of chicken feed. Just because. And last week she opened one of my popcorn tins - this one full of barley - and scooped the contents out of the tin and into the silverware drawer and dishtowel drawer. After that she took what she could carry into the family room. I'm grateful for my high-powered, bagless Dyson vacuum! Which reminds me, the girls shattered the square glass thing that covers their bedroom light earlier, and I have yet to clean that up...

I ordered a math curriculum for our 5-year-old and we started it on Friday. Thursday (Town Day!) I found everything I needed to complete the manipulatives set in a science/toy shop in town. I'm glad to see she isn't behind, though we haven't used any formal curriculum up to this point. The calendar time is new, but she's catching on to that, and we've done 20 lessons in 4 days (yes, she even wanted to do it Saturday and Sunday). It's a great homeschool math curriculum, very scheduled and organized. Which is helping me make homeschooling a regular part of our routine. I'm also adding a word a day to a list of words to recognize. She knows the letter sounds and can read simple words, but this will help her, I'm hoping. As for Little Sister, well, she enjoys playing with the pattern blocks and linking cubes, but I need to order her preschool toys from LFL so she can have her own "schoolwork". And a locking cabinet for everything.

The weather has been wet. I'd think I was back in Western Washington if i didn't know better. Yesterday and Saturday were rain all day; either downpour or drizzle. Hubby looked for the spots to replace the shingles blown off by the windstorm last week but couldn't find where they came from... so far no leaks that I can tell. It's supposed to be better tomorrow, though.

The peas aren't dead after all... I see a few popping up finally. Don't know if they'll ever make it to maturity, but I hope so! Sixteen eggs yesterday; too many for me. I think I have 7 dozen in the fridge. We've been giving them away, but I think they're up to regular size, so perhaps I'll put up a sign. I need to do something. They're as good or better than the organic eggs Fred Meyer sells for $3.00/dozen, so I'm thinking about $2.50 would be appropriate. I need to find out if I can back my car up to the farmer's market sometime and sell them from my trunk. Maybe sell some chickens...?

Baked bread today, did (am doing) laundry, and put away the turkey/barley soup. I shouldn't be this tired! Little One crawled into the bed behind me and put herself to nap, so that quiets things down a bit! Tomorrow I think I'll buy 30 chicks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday - Kitchen Day!

I'm happy to say that the girls' room is still clean! We had a hefty glitch the other night, but it finally got taken care of. I haven't looked in there for a few hours though; I may need to temper my excitement...

Today is my Kitchen Day, and while I didn't get a ton of things cleaned perfectly, I DID get a lot of cooking done. Yesterday I had to run to town for my midwife appointment, and had planned to make Split Pea Soup. I prepped the carrots, celery, and onion in the food processor, and then started looking for the split peas... I used to buy them by the barrel, I swear. I guess I thought I had enough to last for eternity, and haven't bought them in a while, because they were nowhere to be found. Thankfully I had to run to town anyway, so I just figured to pick up some split peas. I did, but not at the price I'm used to! $1.19/lb for plain, ol', bulk split peas. It did save me a stop, even though I paid more. I used about 5.8 lbs for my pot; made about 3 gallons.
If you're interested, it goes like this:

  • Split peas and water, about 1:2 or 3 in a pot or crock pot.
  • sliced carrots
  • diced celery
  • an onion or so, diced
  • Black pepper (fresh ground)
  • Spike - available at Fred Meyer in bulk (along with expensive peas)
  • Bay leaf (or leaves, if you make 3 gallons)
Bring to boil, simmer a good while (or put in crock pot on low for the day). I usually use a bit of bacon for taste, but I haven't gotten around to smoking the bacons yet, so this one is meat-free. I also make it fairly thick; when cool it can stand your spoon up nicely. I used to add basil and thyme, but used Spike this time. VERY tasty!!!

Now, that was all yesterday, but today I measured and bagged and froze the remainder of the soup.

I also roasted a home-grown, home-processed turkey, which smells really tasty. I also used Spike on this. I'll let you know how it tastes.

I was able to acquire a gallon of raw organic cream today, on the Black Market. I used some of it to make ice cream! Yummy! I got the recipe from Nourishing Traditions (see sidebar) and tweaked it only a bit. I made blueberry ice cream, with blueberries, cream, honey, maple syrup, egg yolks, and vanilla. It called for arrowroot powder, but I don't have any yet. The only thing I'm ashamed of is the honey. It's cheap "clover" honey from Costco. The blueberries are from Azure, naturally grown, the maple syrup is organic, egg yolks laid today, and real vanilla. But wow, it's sure good. Very fluffy and full of all those great fat-soluble vitamins like A and D and such... Since it's not pasturized those things remain intact and useable! So this ice cream is pretty imperative for good health. :)

Another recipe from the same book is for sauerkraut. I made some of that today, too. Or, I started to make it. I got some organic cabbage (2 small/medium heads), shredded it in the food processor, put it in a bowl with the abovementioned salt, and beat it up. I need a good cabbage-abusing tool. I used the handle of a giant wooden spoon my husband's grandparents gave me ages ago. It took a while. After you beat it up, you put it into quart jars, press it down, put a lid on, and walk away. That is, just leave it there. On the counter. At room temperature. For days.
Then put it in cold storage (I'm still not sure exactly what that is... the basement? The fridge?) for as long as you want to wait till you eat it. It is a lactic-acid fermentation, which kills nasty bacteria but promotes good-bacteria (think yogurt, etc). VERY good for you, so I read. I look forward to eating it.

The hens are upping production consistently. We're getting 15-18 a day, but they don't start laying till 10 am or so. Do I have lazy hens? I gave away 3 dozen yesterday, and 3 1/2 dozen today, and still have plenty on hand. I need a spare fridge and a roadside stand.

My seeds are VERY reluctant to sprout. The peppers I shopped for and ordered so meticulously are not germinating worth a darn. I don't know if I messed things up or what. I thought the peas I set out were a lost cause, but I've seen a FEW trying to sprout. I must've had 15 packets of peas. I may be lucky to GET 15 packets of peas in harvest! :) The broccoli and cabbage starts are doing okay. Visions of freaky un-canned, un-cooked sauerkraut dancing in my head! Just what I'll have time for, with a newborn and homeschooling to do...

As to my appointment, things look good. I was not dehydrated at all (better not be! 2 quarts+ of liquid per day, baby!), bp and heartrates for me and baby were good, minimal weight gain (all that water, maybe?), and another chiropractic adjustment to keep me together. I'm very grateful for that.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Accomplishing a bit of Simplicity!

I found a great site. I love great sites. Ones where you learn a lot and it adds to your life in some way. I am often "whelmed-over" with the daily chores of life, of being a mother and a wife and a caretaker of critters I eat. It seems as soon as I get something squared away, the kids are into it and undoing all my work, which is very demoralizing! Why bother folding the laundry, if while you're putting some away, Little Monkey "makes a nest" with what remained? Well, I feel like I'm making some headway, finally. Large Family Logistics (ok, I know I don't qualify for a "large family" but it seems I deal with the mess of one!) has given me some really great ideas for organization and scheduling. Their blog has some great archives full of great time-saver recipes, and hands-on how-tos for everything related to those noblest of callings, wife- and mother-hood.

Last Thursday you couldn't be certain the kids' room was carpeted. Much of it toys, LOTS of clothes, and general mess. The clothes are a big issue; we are blessed with hand-me-downs in varying sizes, and while I try to keep them organized and put away, I fail sometimes and it becomes Dress-Up Day. Everyday. This time when we cleaned, not only did we sort and store wrong-sized clothes, but when the laundry was done, I let the kids pick out about 5-8 pairs of pants/shorts and 5-8 shirts (plus socks and underwear of course) and the rest was put into marked boxes. EVEN if it was cute and it still fit. The idea here is that even if they dirty all their clothes, it's no more than two or three loads! Toys were pared-down, of course, and the room REMAINS clean (we clean each night, and bring laundry down in the morn), and it's been almost 4 days. I know, that's not impressive to most of you, but it is to me!

Suggestions that are helping:
~Scheduled daily tasks: Monday - laundry, Tuesday - kitchen/recipes, Wednesday - office/business, Thursday - errands, etc...
~Daily "Four Loads by Four O'Clock" : Okay, we don't have that much after monday, but getting it done and put away daily is a big help.
~Focus areas: I'm proud to say these things are looking great: my cookbook shelf, top of fridge, front lawn and side play-area, kitchen counter remains a work-in-progress.
~Decluttering as a habit.

There is still much to conquer. Homeschooling hasn't been a super-scheduled thing, but next school-year we'll have to have a curriculum and plan, PLUS do all this around the next Blessing. The kids aren't used to much scheduling, and don't have specific, assigned chores (more like, "help Mama with this!"), so we need to work on that.

Today ALL laundry is done, folded, AND put away. Even Hubby's. Tonight I'll soak some pintos and add a dash of lemon juice (makes them easier to digest/less gassy!) and make a giant vat of chili tomorrow. I'll have to cook the meat separately at first, beef for me, pork for Hubby.

God is good.

Monday, April 02, 2007

ooOOOo A Contest!

Not sure how this works, entirely, but you could win one of these over here. But you must hurry...