Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That's What I'm Talkin' About...

Have I mentioned my deep anguish over my not-yet-ripe tomato crop? Oh, I have? And that I pray over the plants, and wring my hands and gnash my teeth?

Oh. Sorry.

Well, the weather's been incredible. I've not mentioned it because every time I do it goes to heck, but it really has been fabulous. I've cut the water off, I've taken a pitchfork to the roots, and things are starting to come along.

Here's today's pick:

Obviously not all are ripe (few are), but I pick them that way and ripen them indoors, where I can keep an eye on them. Otherwise, they'll ripen and then rot or split or otherwise vex me when I'm not looking.

These are what I've been waiting for. They're a handful, each. My first this size weighed about 20 oz (1.25 lbs) and these are that or more. Ah, do you smell lasagna?

And so you ladies can sleep at night... Look, proof not everything around here is mutant:

Organique bit into no less than four, and fighting the hens off while taking these pictures was some work, but we did it. Now to leave them alone long enough to actually get them in the freezer...

Say What?

Hubby and I have been enjoying some Star Trek shows from Netflix. In particular, the Enterprise series (if you don't know, it's akin to the recent Star Wars movies; it's "recent" - as in lately produced, but takes place in pre-original Star Trek time - humans first deep space mission).

Something that struck me, in this fantastical, futuristic show is the disclaimer at the end:

"Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental...."

So, what...? To keep time-travellers from suing?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Because We Classy

You might have wondered from that last post what I was talking about with the water heater and Green Monster and all. Well, I actually meant to schedule that post to occur AFTER this post, but with the amazing piles of dishes, laundry, and garage-clean-out leftovers, my brain was running on (all too typical) low neural density. Hopefully this post will give some clarity, you know, in case those details left you a bit perplexed. Of course, something tells me you don't read here to keep your rational/reasonable side satisfied.

Last Wednesday was a big day. No, not because we scandalized the neighborhood by chopping heads off chickens (by the way, I updated that to include pictures. Annie, don't look) (we did that on Saturday, again), but because one of those unexpected events needed tending to.

Our water heater went out Tuesday night. Hubby is the one who confirmed it, he being the only one around here who gets to bathe regularly. And by regularly I mean every single morning. I try not to be bitter. So, after his cold shower Wednesday morning, he asked me if I could, you know, pick up a water heater.

Now, to review, I am a homeschooling mother of three daughters (1, 4, 7) ALL of whom are in car- or booster-seats, and I drive a Toyota Camry.

But, as any regular readers know, there are (I'm told) other unnameable attributes about me. Certainly it was one of those that made me reply, "sure, Honey."

First I got online (duh) and checked out one of those oft-advertised Rinnai tankless water heaters. It looked good until I plugged in our average electricity cost (fairly low) and current propane cost (sweet mother-of-mercy, spare us [is that swearing? If so, forgive me. I didn't mean to. It's just that the propane, well, if I hadn't bought that this year I'd be using a mighty fine camera by now]), and then the graph turned upside down and the regular electric tank heater started looking much better.

I picked out one from Lowe's website that looked about right, rigged up the necessary accessories, and headed into town. I feel so capable when I can install the trailer hitch thingy, hook up the Green Monster, and get myself out of the driveway without doing (much) damage to the riding mower that is just a bit short to see in my mirrors. Ahem.

When the Lowe's lady was helping me load it into the Green Monster, I thought, who needs a van, anyway? And then I thought about carseat laws and how they probably don't permit you to secure your children in Green Monsters, welded in or not.

Hubby didn't get home until after 7 that night, but by 10 we had hot water. Of course, by the next night, something was wrong, and we discovered that a loose fitting had leaked water onto the little computerized control panel on top. *sigh* Hubby worked on it a bit, and we hope it has had a complete recovery.

And finally, because our bourgeois lifestyle has been so well documented on this site (see here, here, here, and here, for example) let's have a little quiz to see how well you know us:

Once the old water heater has been drained and drug upstairs (I expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 2012), it will:
  1. be disposed of properly, in accordance with local laws and regulations
  2. add to the classy yard-art our Fancy Neighbors get to view
  3. have the top and bottom sawed off, and the middle turned into a tunnel for our classy playground
  4. be cut in half lengthwise, creating two troughs and/or sleds
  5. become a large-bird scalder
  6. be turned into a six-at-once turkey fryer
  7. all-but-one of the above
Any guesses?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Carseat Deal

Last week, while in town to pick up a fifty gallon water heater, I decided to get the ironing board I'd been needing, since I was hauling the Green Monster and all. Now, before you jump to conclusions, no, I don't iron. Except when I'm sewing. Which I've been.

I went to Costco, to get the iron I'd been drooling over as well, which, of course, they were out of. So I bought the cheap but still-way-better-than-the-$5-one-I-bought-for-college-12-years-ago Sunbeam iron. Right next to the iron were the carseats, one of which I'd been passing by every week with a slow pace and lingering glance. It's the Cosco Alpha Omega seat, which can be rear-facing for little babes, a regular carseat for toddlers, and a belt-positioning booster for the big 'uns.

We already have one of these, but, well, I bought it used, off Ebay (about $75), when Big Sister was about 6 months old. That would be early 2002. We've since bought booster seats and such as she grew, handing the older ones down to Little Artist, but that Ebay castoff had seen it's day (and crumbs, and mashed-in raisins, leaky diapers, vomit, etc). I'd been thinking on replacing it for some time, but the original $117 pricetag was a bit steep.

In recent weeks, it had dropped to about $100, but there were always other expenses crowding it out. This time, however, the bright red marker on the pricetag caught my eye. "Display only" it read, and the $99.97 price crossed out and "$75-" written in it's place. Well, since I'd already blown the budget with a $350 water heater, not to mention the ironing board and iron, I figured another $75 wouldn't be much noticed. So we plopped that display model into the basket (where Little Artist enjoyed a most comfortable tour of Costco) and swiped the magnetic pricetag off the steel shelf.

We are blessed, and looking forward to Organique confirming the "22+ pound" status so we can just install it front-facing.

Peter Piper..

..picked a peck of lacto-fermented peppers.

At least, we did.
But geez, here I go with my clarifiers: I don't really know if we picked a PECK, as I'm not sure how much that is. A bushel? A half-bushel? I don't know. Please don't think I'm lying, okay? I don't mean to.
I planted six each of an interesting variety of peppers. Both varieties are small, and fairly round. One is "Cherry Pick," which is a sweet type, and the plant stays somewhat small. "Cherry Bomb," on the other hand, is spicy, and grows large and breaks it's branches as it grows. I tried not to confuse them... They're good green, red, and pretty much whenever. If you like peppers, which I don't. In addition, we had some banana peppers coming ripe.
Hubby loves pickled things, but the 'modern' method of pickling, which includes pasteurized vinegar and high-heat processing, completely denatures the food. What was once a nutrient- and enzyme-rich way of preserving harvest's bounty has become exactly the opposite (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, link in my sidebar). To this end, I've tried to meet Hubby's preference for pickled stuff without losing the benefits of healthy eating.
*Note: In addition to Nourishing Traditions, I also consulted Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home.
The basic method:
trim and prepare peppers (vegetables, spices, etc)
stuff them in a jar (I used 2-quart jars)
add sea salt liberally (I don't recall the exact amount. I added extra because I ended up needing more water to cover the produce)
cover with filtered water
add a bit of whey.
Then, the really weird part:
Put lids on, and leave them sit on the counter for a few days, at least.
That's right; let them sit at room temperature for a while. After that, they can go into 'cold storage,' which is a warm fridge or the traditional root cellar. We have neither, so they're in a cold fridge.
This is the same method your granny used for the "crock" pickles, or sauerkraut. The idea behind it is that the salt preserves it for the short-term, keeping harmful bacteria from reproducing too rapidly. The whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt, buttermilk, etc) is full of lactic-acid producing bacteria, which, as their name implies, produce lactic acid. This serves to preserve the foodstuffs (long-term harmful bacterial suppression) as well as aid digestion.
These don't get cooked, canned, or heated. In fact, it's best to eat them cold (or mildly heated - not in the microwave).
Our peppers have been in the fridge for a month or more now, and they've lost some of their brightness, but we're hoping they're tasty (at least Hubby's hoping - they're not tasty even fresh, if you ask me). According to the books, there's no chance of getting sick if the process derails somewhere along the way. Apparently the smell will ward off any attempts at consumption. :)
So - here's to good-eatin', and good-livin' -- all at the same time. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tomato Patience

Well, it's the end of September and I've been having my Early Girl tomatoes coming ripe for a whole week now. I'm not terribly amused. There has been much prayer and threatening and wringing of hands in the garden. I have six quarts of tomatoes frozen. Six. I have twelve Beefmaster tomato plants, for Pete's sake. Twelve!

My other "early" tomato (Siletz) has been producing a few. Kinda...

Take this one. It looks nice, right?

But wait, when you turn it...
What is that? Ewww.
I'm guessing even blanching isn't going to make this one easy to peel.

Several of these have this condition, which, have you ever seen the Alien movies? I can only assume this is the horticultural version of that creature.

Poor tomato.

Friday, September 26, 2008

An Observation

I'm listening to the Presidential Debate on Sirius (playing on the computer) while I sew in the other room.

I notice that John McCain refers to his opponent as "Senator Obama."

Barack Obama refers to McCain as "John."

Wonder why?

Just Peachy

Last week we got to know some peaches.

On Monday we went to a nearby orchard I'd heard about, to pick peaches. The U-Pick price was 35 cents a pound. Now, anytime they drop to below $1, I'm all over them at the store, so I decided to make good on this opportunity, whether the fruit were a bit on the small side or not.

And proceeded to pick 63 lbs, plus the one Organique picked and ate without my knowledge while strapped to my back. Dust and all (and there was lots of dust).

They weren't fully ripe yet, so we spread them out (everywhere) and ate a few several tons.

By Wednesday, they were getting close, but we'd eaten a lot of them. So, because I can't leave well enough alone, we went back.

I took a few empty containers (getting hard to come by around here!) and we quickly picked them full.

I was surprised to find out we'd picked ninety-seven more pounds. *gulp* That surprised me, because it was only one laundry basket, an old-school enameled tub, and a half-bushel basket.

What followed was days and nights of blanching, peeling, eating, pitting, freezing, eating, canning, jamming, eating, and dehydrating. And eating.

Oh, do you see that pot up there? That's my new fabulous, much-loved, sturdy, thicker-than-tin-foil, non-scorching 16-quart stock pot I got from the restaurant supply on Thursday. I am in love. Especially with the fact that it was more than $30 cheaper than the most affordable one I could find online.
Pantry count:

13 quarts canned

34 quarts frozen

5 pints jam

2 quarts dehydrated

3 quarts refrigerated

many eaten, baked, used in recipes, oatmeal, etc. :)

In all, I'm surprised that I still like them. So often, after handling and dealing with produce in a quantity to wipe me out, I end up avoiding them for a long time. We still have a couple dozen fruit kicking around, but even now I peeled two, sprinkled them with some evaporated cane juice, and drenched them in some fresh, raw jersey cream. MMMmmmmmMmmMMMmm.

Much to love.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What Happens When...

I was trekking through a Blue State a while back, and happened upon some interesting artifacts. I can only assume they were left after some hapless hippie types (like the last post) wanted to get closer to nature.

Of course, I can't know the exact circumstances, but I'd guess they accomplished their closeness:

They must've gone in a group, because nearby there was another:

Do you think they might still be in there?

If so, do you think they're 'one with the dust (moss?),' or are they living carefully - without leaving any footprints (carbon or otherwise)?

JUST KIDDING! I was in western Washington, and this is what happens when you park your car overnight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Love Trees. I Do.

But I can't stop laughing:

Do you think they would mind so much if trees grew in our wombs?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Milestone

Can you guess?

No, Organique's been walking for a month.

No one's learned to read lately.

I'm not sure you want to know... But here's the story anyway.

This weekend was the last on-call weekend of the summer for Hubby. He didn't expect any calls, and I'm tired of buying chicken feed. Do you see where this is going? No? Okay, keep reading. We decided that we should try to harvest a few of these birds on Saturday, so we made plans. I had a new homeschooling friend interested in the process (I know, I'm amazed too!), and had requested an invitation to come watch. Of course, I immediately agreed, likeminded folk being hard to find these days. So I arranged with her that we'd be doing it Saturday morning.

Hubby worked a bit late Friday, so we were delayed in our setting up. Then, there were a few hiccups (as always) as we tried to find where the wind blew the 55-gallon drum we use as a chill tank, and how to set up the stainless steel "countertop" (yes, we've graduated from the bullet-shot fridge) we wanted to use. It was cool, windy, and spitting rain occasionally, so halfway through setup, I moved everything into our mostly-destroyed greenhouse for a bit of shelter.

Also right about then Hubby got a service call. And then another.


"You're leaving...?" I asked, knowing full well he had to. "But..., who's gonna kill these chickens?" I can't back out... I have an audience on the way!


I kissed him goodbye, and checked the scalding water temp. My friend was bringing most of her kids and a few she was watching. Gi-gi was visiting, and planning to watch Organique while I eviscerated the birds. Gi-gi's whole childhood was spent plotting how to get off the daggum farm, and she doesn't care to eviscerate chickens. Not that I would ever ask her to. Apparently, though, killing them poses no issue.

I was saved. Whew.

My friend arrived, with six kids in tow, and I wondered how this would all work out. I still had to hunt up some buckets and some details in the appropriate literature. Eventually we went out to the chicken house, where I set Big Sister to catching a big rooster. She did, in short order, and we stuck him in the garden cart with a board for a lid.
I let each of the kids take turns catching birds, and it was hilarious. I might start charging admission. "Chicken Wrastlin', 25 cents." It could be the new Rodeo. We eventually filled the garden cart, and hauled it to the torn-open end of the greenhouse (which, by the way, is in full [if not terribly near] view of the Fancy Neighbors. Poor folks.). Organique went down for her nap, and Gi-gi came out to do the deed.

It didn't take me long to decide I didn't like the way the deed was done. Of course, the last time she'd done it was somewhere around 1934, so I don't hold it against her. I did, however, retrieve the axe and block in short order, and.... I finished it. *shudder* I should clarify that the chickens didn't seem to be in pain, but they also didn't seem to be dying very quickly. I only support quick deaths, unless the critter deserves it, and ... nevermind. I took the second in-the-process rooster and finished him as well.

Oh my goodness, even typing this just makes me all twitchy.

Gi-gi took them and laid them on the ground a ways away, and my friend remarked to her daughter to be careful, because she remembered headless flopping chickens uncannily flopping after people as they ran from them. As if on cue, a headless bird flopped her direction, and in spite of her best efforts to evade it, it leaped up and smeared blood all over her calf and the cuff of her capri pants.

While she might've gone home and stood in a hot shower for three hours and sobbed, she showed remarkable sportsmanship on site. I've never even imagined a ten-year-old girl showing such grace when faced with the trial that is a blood-squirting, headless, flopping chicken carcass.

By now, though, my scalding water was 50 degrees too hot, so I added a few more gallons of cold water to compensate, and began scalding the birds. From here on out, I know the ropes (more or less). Of course, the phone in my coat pocket rang, and I dunked birds with one hand while fielding an offer of yard signs and bumper stickers from the wife of the Sheriff candidate we're voting for with the other. I didn't tell her what I was busy with. She might've declined our endorsement after all.

Does he seem to be having too much fun?

I picked one bird, and three or four kids half-picked the other. They were very interested in the entrails, at which point I was happy to play biology teacher.

Would you believe, the two older boys (pre-teen or so) took the chicken heads home as souvenirs? I suppose you would, if you had boys. I don't. Weird creatures, those. But their mom complied, as only a true homeschooling mom could. I did offer ziplocs, feeling pity for the presumably nice interior of their big SUV. And I sold my friend two lovely young hens, and I think that was a win for everyone (and everybird) involved.

Nothin' like takin' home a souvenir

After they left, I nursed the baby and fed my kids and braced myself. Hubby was still not home, and I wasn't going to have used so much propane and water for two measly (and they are SO scrawny, these standard-breed young roosters!) birds. The rest of the crew in the garden cart were still waiting patiently. We brought Organique's playpen out (because if the Fancy Neighbors didn't think we were total barbarians yet, we wanted to set their minds at rest), and improvised the death of a few more. I managed to kill, scald, pick, and clean five more beasts before the painful knots in my back became too much. The girls, meanwhile, played with the chicken heads like they usually do with their My Little Ponies (they're interchangeable, aren't they, children's toys and chicken heads?). Then they'd bury them and dig them up and poke their eyes, because, "those boys did that..." Oh my.

So, after an exhausting day (in many ways), I managed to put seven skinny chickens in my freezer, which is not near enough. I'm hoping Hubby can participate more next time and give it a go again next weekend. I REFUSE to buy any more turkey feed, and this last bag better put some fat under their skin, or we'll just have scrawny turkeys in the freezer too.

But - all in all - it was a milestone of a day (albeit one I wasn't aspiring to). If I have to go it alone again though, I'm rigging up a mini guillotine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm "It"

**Updated to include the proper link to Cameron's blog. I guess it's not so dumb after all...**

I've been tagged by Benny, a new blogger who is friends with a blogger I read every now and then. I'm always excited and humbled to be 'noticed' by 'nice' people who shouldn't ever know I exist, really.

And since I'm terrible at ever doing these things (sorry MamaJ! It's still in my system somewhere!), I should do at least one...

The rules:

1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

Hopefully these things aren't too divisive... :)

1. I'm not much for 'recycled' Christianity. If you believe in Jesus as your saviour, the rest is (should be) just details. While I enjoy discussing different points of theology and doctrines (sprinkle or dunk, infant or adult, etc), I don't like the idea of 'converting' one brand of Christian into another - if God changes their hearts/minds, so be it, but the active proselytizing of other 'already' Christians disheartens me.

2. I bite my nails - mostly when we have a season of 24 from Netflix to watch. I hate biting my nails, and my oldest does the same, to my deep shame. Is it genetic, or have I messed her up entirely?

3. I fell far from the tree. Even if my mother hadn't been handicapped, she was not very ambitious in much. She didn't excel in school, didn't have a career, didn't like (or know how) to cook, clean, garden, sew, knit, bake, can, or do other domestic things. My grandmother is very can-do (but can't train others in it, somehow), and philosophically very feminist and relativist.

4. I love old, big bowls. I have an enameled steel basin which I love, a matching larger 'bathtub' (full of peaches, right now), and a beat up aluminum bowl (the only aluminum I love). Each has a hole along the edge for hanging on the wall.

5. If there are doritos around, I will eat them. In fact, while I know a lot about health and nutrition, and practice it pretty well when shopping, I don't exercise the same discipline when faced with the offering. Potlucks, barbecues, about the only thing I can easily stay away from is aspartame-laden foodstuffs. That's easy.

6. I'm almost out of freezer space.

As to the tagging part, I'm a wimp. Will my tag be felt as a burden? Will I be overstepping my relationships by being so bold as to 'tag' someone? Will I feel rejected if my 'tag-ee' doesn't do it? Hmm... better add:

7. I'm paranoid.

Deep breaths, let's be brave... How many do I have to tag? Six? Sheesh. Okay, here goes...


1.Rachel, because she somehow found this blog and left a comment.
2.Annie, because she sent me a skirt and is pregnant with her second (!), and we share odd similar history like bare feet and church stuff.
3.Meghann, because she's also a new visitor/commenter, and is expecting her fourth baby any minute now (so I'm sure she'll have time to do this), and has Keith Green playing in her sidebar.
4.Cameron, because he's expecting my first niece, and has nothing on that dumb blog of his, except the weird paradox of the title "Life in Minnesota" and the location of Fargo, ND.
5.Mrs. Amy Brigham, because I need to be actually brave in this list, and really reach for a real-life much-read blogger. No offense to the rest of you; you're really amazing too, but I have a working relationship with most of you, so you're a little easier to approach. :)
6.And finally, MamaJ, if she doesn't hate me for never finishing one of these SHE tagged me with. *sigh*

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy First Year!

Today Organique is 1. Remember last year? What a week. I don't do the last few days (especially when they're post-due-date) of pregnancy with much grace.

Happy Birthday!

She's 1, and has been walking for a month, and is the sweetest, best-natured snuggle-bug I've ever had. I'm also older and have a different perspective of the amazing blessing of children, so perhaps that plays into it.

AND - I'd like to take this opportunity to announce the expected arrival of my first genetically-relatable (i.e. on 'my' side of the family) niece! My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby, and it's a girl to be named Mackenzie (perhaps I'm misspelling that - I'll find out). She's due sometime in late January, but don't hate me if I root for somewhere around the middle of the month.

And don't ask why we can't seem to produce any boys for this family. We don't know either.

Now to go make a peach... cake.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Freezer Count

This week has been filled with kitchen work. Wall street can't be trusted; let's hope the electric company that keeps my freezers running can.

We put up corn a few weeks back - in fact, it was in the middle of my folks' visit, and was a challenge with the two extra kids they brought.

I got an early start. It was a Saturday, sadly. I began shucking the corn the girls and I had picked (from Hubby's coworker's field - NOT our garden) on the previous Thursday evening. How much corn? Hm... About this much:

Plenty, methinks. When I had a good start on that, I boiled some water for blanching, got out my nice big bowls, and set to work. Ears need 4.5 minutes of blanch time, then dunked into ice water before cutting the kernels from the cobs. Just soyaknow. Eventually, the rest of the house awoke, and some kids (and a grandpa) finished husking what I hadn't done.

Blanching six ears at a time, and each set of six taking nearly 5 minutes, adds up to many hours. Especially when I was usually the onliest worker and had to pause occasionally to catch up on cutting kernels or emptying the ears from the ice water before the next batch was done. Hubby kept me in ice, and kept the chickens in corncobs, and my mom helped me bag the stuff into ziplocs.

And every time I got a little sore in the wrist, or achy in the feet, I just looked around me for a motivational reminder. Grandpa and the kids apparently didn't want me to slack, as they left no ear unshucked:

Laundry baskets...


Storage bins...

Nice of them, eh? That's okay: When they looked at my harried self and asked what was for breakfast, guess what I served? Yep: Corn. All around. All-You-Can-Eat. Because I am nice, I let them have butter and salt also. I tried a repeat for lunch, which didn't fly very well, but by then my mom was up and I think she made peanut butter sandwiches or something. Organique decided to introduce (raw) corn into her diet, and helped herself from the abundance.

The next day (because we are classy that way), I decided that the front porch looked like something out of the Appalachian neighborhoods in the book Christy - so my dad and I cleaned up the husks the kids had dropped. There were a few:

After a good 12 hours of kitchen work, I ended up with fifty-some quarts of corn - I gave 10 to a friend, and the rest will suit for chili and soup and such.

So far this week:

1 gallon of Garden Stew

20 quarts peaches

2 quarts tomatoes (c'mon, ripen!)

6 quarts blueberry applesauce

And since I'm running out of freezer space *gulp*, we'll be canning the rest of the peaches*.

*Sweet Jesus, deliver my kitchen from the layer of peach juice that already covers it, and protect it from further burial by such. Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's Cookin'

Well, it's 10:30 at night. What do you think is cooking?

Beef stock, for one. I'm following the prescribed rules of my Food Bible (Nourishing Traditions, and I'm worse at following it than I am the Real Live Bible), and making some hearty, tasty broth. Everyone does this overnight, do they not? My favorite way is to use a crockpot or big roaster thingy. Since I'm using a big bunch of soup bones, I'm using the roaster thingy. You know what I'm talking about, right? Like a crockpot, only metal, rectangular, and with a thermostat instead of misspelled relative temperature options? Sorry, it's late, and I get a little crazy when it's late.

Anyway, I put the bones in water and a bit of vinegar (helps draw calcium and minerals from the bones into the soup - not sure what it does to me when I use it in salads) and let them sit an hour before heating it. Then I turned it up "high" (not 'hi' - 450' to be exact) until it boiled. I skimmed off the impurities, but there weren't many. These might not be beef 'knuckles', perhaps. Then I turned it to simmer, where it stayed for the day, and will stay for the night, and maybe some of tomorrow as well. I'll remove the bones (and MAYBE give them to our naughty dog), tear up the meat, and strain the broth. Maybe I'll let it cool and remove the fat somewhere in that process. Then I'll put in more of all the lovely garden abundance and try not to eat it all in one day, like the last time I made it. Perhaps I'll have enough to freeze for later. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

I ALSO (because I am so amazing tonight) have chicken broth in the makings. And haven't even tripped a circuit yet. I roasted a chicken in the crockpot, and the uneaten parts (minus the feathery skin - gotta love home-processed poultry) are simmering with an onion and some garlic. I'll treat it like the beef stock tomorrow - remove bones (and likely give them to the naughty dog)*, separate meat, strain broth - then add veggies and some sort of starch. I'm undecided if it'll be barley, rice, or homemade noodles. The noodles are grand, but Organique hasn't eaten wheat yet (that I know of - her under-the-table expeditions might have introduced her to it by now), so I might forego those. I'll use potatoes with the beef, so not the chicken.

I even washed and dried diapers tonight, too.

But before I start floating away with all this inflation-of-ego, I better go make sure I set the dishwasher to ACTUALLY wash, because I'm pretty sure I forgot that.

*okay, I wouldn't really give the dangerous, splintery, cooked-chicken bones to our dog. Probably.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Garden Stew

There are few things in this world that make me feel the way I felt about my Garden Stew the other day. It was a delightful mixture of satisfaction with a (hard) job well-done, joy that everything was completely free of dangerous chemicals, -- and that with a minimal pricetag -- and the happy tastebud-dance-inducing deliciousness when I sat down to eat with my family.

To make it, I spent a few hours digging potatoes, picking corn, carrots, and onions. That was hard work, lemme tell ya. I need a potato harvester, but I'm pretty sure I could buy organic potatoes for sixteen decades for the price of one, so I probably will do without. Then, I removed a couple packages of grass-fed stew meat (beef) from the freezer.

I did not put the tomatoes in it, but they looked nice for the picture. :)

I made it in 2 pots, because I'm lusting after a new, GOOD stockpot, but I have to drive to town to get it on a weekday, which I haven't done. Maybe Thursday. My current stockpot was $11 or less, and the bottom is approximately the thickness of tin foil. It bows outward when heated, and causes the center 1 1/2 inches to burn. Even if all I'm cooking is water, it'll burn. I swear. So - I've had it. I also don't like using 2 pots. It's hard to make sure all the meat is fairly apportioned, let alone the salt and potatoes and whatnot.

When I was done, after patting myself on the back enough to make myself choke, everything in it was 'good' for me, and except for the beef and seasonings, it was all grown right here. I was really impressed with myself, which is probably not a good thing. It's not like my toilets get scrubbed, or the floors mopped while I'm tending to my silly garden for months. And it's only by God's grace that plants actually grow and all. And that they didn't succumb to the wind.

This corn had an interesting kernel. I'm not sure why. This is a hybrid sweet corn. It was planted somewhat near my open-pollinated popcorn, though... And bizarre kernel or not, it was SUCH a wonderful addition to the stew. I'm all inspired to go make more today.

I'm not even sure what to say about this carrot:

Peeling it wasn't exactly a job well done.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another Perspective

A majority of my favorite homeschooling, mothering, keeping-sober-at-home blogs have posted their firm views against Governor Palin being elected to the vice presidency, and all the conservative political ones post their firm support.

Which makes this perspective an interesting one, at least. It's not so much perspective as it is a report, but it's definitely not in either of the above camps.

The Sunday AM celebrations have been just worship, with some intercessory prayer, but no preaching or teaching. This morning after an extended time of worship, Dutch Sheets, our pastor, shared an exhortation, as he called it.

I believe you are aware that Dutch was used by the Lord to call prayer before the 2000 Bush election that was so close. He said this morning that this election is perhaps even more critical than 2000, because of the Supreme Court. If the right political posture is not elected, we stand to lose decades of progress and the repurcussions are enormous.

Last year Chuck Pierce and Greg Hood prophesied that in 2008 we are not electing a president, but the vice president. Dutch said he could get no release in his heart to back Huckaby. even though pressured by many in the body of Christ. Huckaby is a good man and a strong believer, but he was not God's choice at this time.

Dutch also told us that he knows a man who gave McCain a prophetic word, that McCain had made a vow to God when he was at the bottom during his POW days, and now God was calling in that vow. McCain was visibly moved by this word.

Dutch was traveling to Texas on Friday, and when he landed in the airport, his wife called and told him to get to the TV asap. He watched McCain introduce Governor Palin, and said he began to weep, even though he knew nothing about her. (we have had reports of many others including Newt Gingrich).

He asked what the significance of this 44-year-old woman was, and he saw the clock said 4:44. He asked the Lord what that was, and the Lord said, "Ezekiel 44:4." "He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD; and I fell on my face. NKJV North gate, representing Alaska.

A few years ago Dutch and Chuck Pierce went on a 50-state tour prophesying over the state their part in God's purposes for the U. S.

At the meeting in Texas that evening Dutch was relaying his experience about the Governor to Chuck, who said, "Do you remember what the word was the Lord gave us for Alaska ?" The Lord had shown them that Alaska is the alpha and omega state. It is the place where things begin and end.

You may realize that some of the Alaskan islands are on the other side of the Dateline, meaning that the day begins and ends in Alaska. The Lord said that Alaska is a gateway for the Ancient of Days to come into the nation. The Lord told Dutch (back in Alaska ) to tell the people of Alaska to look forward into their destiny. (Is this the DESTINY referenced in the circulating video clip from the Wasilla ASG, insinuating a prior prophecy?) Alaska has an assignment to open doors and a place where prophets and intercessors were trained. It turns out that the Governor, who was raised in a Pentecostal Church, according to our newspaper, founded the prayer movement in Alaska .

We will be having the last of our 90 days beginning in a major gathering Sept 11th. The significance of this is that Chuck Pierce had prophesied that there would be 7 years of war and Sept 11 marks the end of that time and the entering of the 8th year. Someone said that 44 = 4+4 or 8.

Dutch asked why he and Chuck were in Texas for this announcement, and the Lord reminded him that the word for Texas was that it is a prophetic state - that the Lord's purpose for Texas is this prophetic function.

Dutch then decreed that she will enter the White House. Now, if you don't know him, he is a very cautious man, has his feet firmly on the ground, and never goes off "half cocked" when it comes to prophecy. He said that he believes, as of Friday, the U. S. has come into a new level of alignment with the Lord and His purposes.

By the way, the Governor will be the 44th Vice President. He continued to declare that she will be the Margaret Thatcher of America, including that she would be President one day. Many other things came forth.

I believe we especially need to rally prayer for the family and children of the Governor. They will be targeted by the enemy and I believe we need special prayer for the oldest daughter. Please take this seriously in your prayers.

Any thoughts?

UPDATE: this from dutchsheets.org, found when I googled this guy:

There has been an email circulating with quotes from Pastor Dutch regarding Senator McCain and Governor Palin. This was NOT an email sent by Pastor Dutch. Someone took notes during a Sunday service and sent out this email. There are several inaccuracies within its content that warrant this statement.The comment about Sarah Palin starting the prayer movement in Alaska is incorrect. She did not start the prayer movement, however, she is a woman of prayer. Pastor Dutch did not state that she is Pentecostal; the media has published that.The comments regarding the vow made by Senator McCain while a POW are not correct. Pastor Dutch was told that someone sent Mr. McCain a letter that was prophetic in nature and asked if he had made promises to God while a POW. It was very personal in nature and his response was not disclosed.Lastly, the statement about Sarah Palin being the 44th Vice President is wrong. If elected into office, Governor Palin would be in the 44th administration but would be the 47th vice president.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From The Rock, Water Flows

Our area is full of secret little attractions that aren't exactly advertised with neon signage. And okay, maybe they wouldn't really be called "attractions" by most. I like them, though.

Occasionally we take the luxury of spending fuel and driving around some of these places.

I had never been to this area before, and drove Hubby crazy having him stop the car every five feet so I could take a picture of some little fancy.

I just loved the stream here, fed from springs.

The sign gave it such a wonderfully vintage feel.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Seasonal Laundry

During the warmer months I use my laundry line to dry most of our clothes. In our warm, dry summers sometimes the first garments hung up are dry before I finish hanging the last.

Of course, with the change of seasons comes a change in my laundry routine. The bright heat gives way to conditions that are better suited for tumble drying, and our clothes are soft instead of stiff and hard:

Oh, you thought I meant with the dryer, indoors? Oh no; that will come, but not yet.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday!

Big Sister is 7 today.

I can't believe it (I never can).

We're hopelessly at a loss as to what to do as a celebration; being sick derailed my house-reclamation plans, and what energy I did have left was spent remaking a room for the girls.

I painted the 'computer' room very girly, and then surprised them with the news that we'd be moving their beds and dressers (and not the rest of the junk) into there. It's the east bedroom, which gets the morning sun, but that will be good... right?

They slept in it last night, and Hubby finally installed the computer in their old room last night. This computer desk is the only thing that doesn't look like a whirlwind of destruction hit it. There's no other furniture in this room, but even so the carpet is showing only in spots...

I've been a mother 7 years now, and 7 is my favorite number. What a blessing. My heart is full of gratitude.

She is a wonderful sister, a great daughter, and is learning to be such a big help. She loves her baby sister to death, and (usually) treats Little Artist with kindness. She is a delight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Well, I was planning to blog about the crazy weekend we had with my folks visiting, who brought my step-brother's kids Vcitoria (almost 7) and Colin (a VERY busy 2). But then I had sixteen piles of laundry (give or take) that took all my attention on Monday, and then I got involved painting this computer room on Tuesday (it's going to be a girl-ish room for the kids... shhh!), and THEN I got whatever bug my folks seemed to have before leaving. And then my kids had yesterday (it's easy to paint when they stay in bed). About five p.m. I started feeling it. Hubby came home from work and fell into bed, and I'll spare you the details of my eternal overnight suffering. I seem to be the worst of us at this point, and the girls are doing much better, so I hope it's short-lived.

If and when I recover, I'll try to post something worthwhile. :)