Friday, January 29, 2010

Garden Update January 29, 2010

Look how pretty! The previous owner planted lots of bulbs all over the "yard" and things are starting to come up. These daffodils bloomed just yesterday. Aren't they pretty :)

Last week, I posted about the "no longer so cute" little woodland creatures who are eating my container garden that we brought with us when we moved. At first, I joked with my husband that I hoped it was a deer because with all of the onion tops and parsley it had eaten, my sausage would already be seasoned. We discovered though, that it is probably rabbits. We found a rabbit "village" - lots of rabbit holes and lots of rabbit families - just a few feet from the location of the container garden. My Dad is planning to take the boys rabbit hunting soon, but really, there is no way to keep them completely out of the garden, so I think we are going to have to try to contain the entire garden somehow to protect it.

The plan is to build 4' X 8' raised beds (hoping to have the first one finished by next weekend) with a hinged lid composed of 2 4X4 frames with hardware cloth stretched across the top and sides. The lids will fasten to the raised beds with some sort of clasp so that they cannot be opened without an opposable thumb, lol. Under each raised bed we are going to put hardware cloth to help keep out the diggers. I don't know if we will be able to completely outsmart the critters, but we will start here and add more reinforcements if necessary.

I am also planning to add lids to the container garden, as the onion tops and parsley are growing back. Hopefully we will still be able to harvest and use these at some point. And speaking of harvest - I harvested 8 carrots this week (5 orange and 3 white) and used them in a soup - well, only what the kids didn't eat right away made it into the soup. Very yummy! I hope to plant more as soon as the new beds are ready.

While my parents were here last weekend, my Dad helped me to make a compost bin, and he, Mom and our oldest son helped to fill it with leaves. I'll get a picture of it soon and post it. It is nothing special, just posts and hardware cloth, but we definitely need it for the garden and we have more than enough leaves to get one started.

I also mentioned last week that I wanted to work on getting some salad greens to grow indoors. We have many East facing and many South facing windows that get so much beautiful direct sunlight. A week ago, I planted the first small container (an old bowl) with mesclun seeds and they are up.

We will probably harvest some as micro greens and let some continue to grow to the "baby greens" stage. If they look to be growing well, I'll let one or two plants get bigger. I planted a second container yesterday - in a lettuce container from the grocery (thanks for the idea, Alea!!).

In another week, I should be able to tell if they are going to grow well. If they are, I will plant another container and then a fourth the following week, maybe with spinach.

Do you have a winter garden growing? I love to read about other people's gardens and would love to read an update of yours. Please post a link or update in the comments :)

This post is linked up to Fertilizer Friday.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tell Me Thursday

This was Monday at our new house. I guess since the weather has been mild, they thought it was time to grow and bloom. I'm glad I got pictures because it is supposed to be below freezing again for a few days. Here is a picture from today - so pretty!

Tell Me Thursday

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Updated Menu

In an earlier post, I asked for help with menu ideas as I had not had a chance to plan the menu and was hoping to avoid the store this week (we live 30 miles from the grocery).

My friend, Alea, from Premeditated Leftovers (go visit her!!) left a comment with some great ideas which we are going to incorporate into our menu. In addition, I found another bag of dried beans, this one black-eyed peas, and I decided to incorporate those into the menu as well. Here is some of what we came up with:

Pumpkin bread (in the oven as I type)
yogurt with pecans (from my Uncle's trees, so local) and maple syrup
Coconut macadamia nut cookies
homemade crescent rolls
homemade granola bars
some sort of scone (printed about 6 recipes - will try to update when we decide)
pear sauce muffins (local, homecanned pear sauce) - if we have any eggs left

tortellini with red sauce and steamed veggies

Crockpot Black-eyed pea soup (made some veggie stock with odds and ends from the crisper)

chili as Alea suggested in her comments with the dried beans and diced tomatoes and some of the ground turkey

"blackened" tilapia over caramelized onions and veggie blend.

If I have any black-eyed peas left over after the soup, we'll have hoppin' john with the rest of the ground turkey, rotel tomatoes and some brown rice.

If we have sausage left over after the soup, we will also make pasta salad with it as suggested by Alea.

We will probably eat the ham for breakfast instead of incorporating it into a supper meal.

I'll try to update the blog as the week goes and let you know how the meals are going.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

5 Minutes for Mom

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 1-25-10

Well, it is already Monday afternoon and I still don't have a menu plan for this week. We had guests over for the weekend (yay! We were so homesick and it was great to have a little bit of "home" come to visit.) and as soon as they left, we started unpacking boxes again. The boys and I continued the trend this morning after a really abbreviated school (just the basics today) and got 4 boxes of toys unpacked and sorted (and some even boxed up for donation) and at least 6 boxes of books sorted. So I guess now I need to start thinking menu. Any ideas? We live out in the "country" now and are trying not to have to drive 30 miles to go to the store this week. Here is what I have in my fridge/ freezer:

4 slices of ham (large slices for frying/ breakfast)
3 lbs of ground turkey
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb tilapia
1 lb smoked sausage
1 lb black beans
1 lb kidney beans
1 lb cheese tortellini
1 Box Cous Cous

4 eggs
1 lb sharp cheddar
1 wedge parmagiano regiano
2 oz. feta cheese
1 quart heavy cream
1 pint yogurt

2 pints salsa
2 jars spaghetti sauce
3 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans rotel tomatoes (with chilis)
1 can creamed corn
1 can black olives
1 jar kalamata olives
assorted pastas
Puff Pastry
2 lbs butter
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Soy Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
Pizza Sauce

2 lbs asparagus blend stir fry veggies
2 lbs broccoli
6 small onions
1 lb california blend veggies

1 lb almonds
1 lb walnuts
2 lbs cashews
2 grocery bags full of in-shell pecans (from my Uncle's property)
typical pantry items like baking items, oatmeal and such

We have a few things left over from the weekend, so tonight we will probably have those. Anyone have any idea what I could do for the rest of the week? Thanks :)

Menu Plan Monday

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tell Me Thursday

About a month ago, I happened to glance at myself from the back in a mirror and discovered that my hair reached all the way down to my waist! I had not realized it was so long. For some reason, seeing it that long really spoke to me and I felt called to cut it shoulder length and donate it. The pony tails in the picture were an entire foot long and she cut more off when she shaped it. Hard to believe it had grown that long without my realizing it.

Tell Me Thursday

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Garden Update January 19, 2010

Can you believe that even after a hard freeze (low of 18 Degrees for 5 straight days), a lot of neglect before the move, and then moving, my container garden survived! That is until something in our woods ate about 1/3 of it, including some of our onions. I am disappointed to be sure, but I'm trying to chalk it up as a lesson learned BEFORE I actually build and plant the spring/ summer garden.

I have several different plans for a garden floating around in my head. One includes raised beds with small holed chicken wire under the beds and a mesh covered hinged top on each. This would be expensive to build and would only really work for things that don't get really tall or spread out too much, which means I'd need another option for those items. A second idea is a fenced in area with small chicken wire covering the entire ground inside of the fenced area and tall fences since deer are everywhere on the property and they jump regular fences as easily as I walk.

If you have experience gardening in this type of environment, I'd love to hear your experience and what you've done to help your garden efforts make it to your table. Does a dog help? We are getting one in a few weeks, but it will most likely be indoors or in the kennel at night, which is when I think our uninvited dinner guests are dining.

We are also ordering chicks soon, so if you have thoughts on breeds, coops, etc, I'd appreciate hearing your advice.

In the mean time, I think I will stick to making compost from the acres of leaves we have scattered all over the property, and trying again to grow salad greens indoors. At least I know the deer won't get that salad. :) I'll post pics once I get that experiment started.

Taking things for granted

When dh first accepted the job and we started planning the move to another state last spring, we decided to rent a house for a while so we could take our time looking for just the right house. We thought it would take one to two months. In fact, it took 10 months. In retrospect, I am glad we did that instead of buying right away and settling for less than we wanted. However, because the company would only pay for one move, we decided to leave our household goods in storage and "rough it' with air mattresses and patio furniture. On the whole it was not that big a deal - we got used to the furniture- but getting our real furniture back has been such a joy. Having real beds, real chairs and a sofa - well, I'll not take those things for granted again. Yesterday, for the first time in 10 months the boys and I sat together on the sofa for reading time. I had missed that so much, and I think the boys had too, based on how long we sat and read together, at their request.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 1-18-10

It is so good to be back in the kitchen. During the whole buying/ moving process, we ate from the pantry as much as possible at first (so as not to have to move it) then when things got really busy, we started relying on prepared foods from the grocery and take out. Whew! I'm glad thats over. Its good to be back in the kitchen.

The next month or so are going to be a time of learning for us. Our new home is 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store and almost 45 minutes away from the nearest farmer's market (the only one open this time of year). There will be no running to the store to pick up a missing ingredient or gallon of milk. So experiments are under way and adjustments will be made as needed. For now, the goal is twice monthly grocery shopping. If that goes well, I'd like to try to get it down to one big trip and and one small trip (milk and produce) per month. Anyway, here is this week's menu (I usually put all locally grown/ raised items in bold, but right now, there are not any locally grown items in our menu. Hopefully very soon, that will change):


*Yogurt with maples syrup and walnuts
*Oatmeal with nuts and fruit (this is the preferred vehicle to get coconut oil into our 9 year old)
*Eggs, ham and grits with fruit
*French Toast (to use up some leftover homemade bread) with maple syrup and fruit
*Homemade crockpot granola with either yogurt or milk and fruit
*Strawberry and Blueberry smoothies

*Leftovers from supper
*Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches (We are using homemade foccacia bread to make sandwiches this week - I'll try to post the recipe - its a favorite here).
*Green salad with what ever is available (my favorite is feta cheese, kalamata olives and walnuts with ceasar dressing)
*Cheese quesadillas (how do you spell that anyway?)

*Carrots and cucumbers dipped in dressing
*Homemade rolls with honey butter
*Cookies, probably oatmeal chocolate chip (got my kitchenaid mixer back from storage!! Will make a double batch of cookie dough, bake one batch and freeze the rest for later)
*Popsicles (the boys have been asking for popsicles for a while. We make smoothie and freeze it in popsicle molds - we will probably do strawberry this week, but we also really like blueberry)
*Hummus and Pita
*Chips and salsa
*Cashew butter on graham crackers


We now have freezer space again so for a few of these meals, I am making double batches and freezing half for later.

*Sloppy Joes (freezing half for later) sliders on homemade rolls with a green salad and fruit (probably grapefruit)

*Fish tacos (panfried tilapia) with chipotle mayo and steamed broccoli (I plan to pan fry 2 pounds of tilapia and IF there is any left after supper and lunch, I'll freeze the leftovers and reheat later in the oven - the boys love tilapia and it makes a great quick/ easy lunch- like chicken nuggets, only I know whats in them)

*Green salad with olives, feta cheese and shredded chicken (from the freezer-left over from last week), with homemade rolls (left over from sliders)

*Spaghetti with meat sauce, oven roasted veggies (olive oil, salt, pepper - roast in 400 deg oven for about 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until nicely browned (we like ours almost charred - so yummy!!) and green salad

*Gyros (ground lamb, spices, garlic, onion - will post recipe once I find it) with lettuce, onion and tzatziki (made with homemade greek style yogurt) on flat bread (will post this recipe once I find it) , hummus and (if our parsley plants survived the freeze and the move) tabbouleh.

*Clean out the fridge, leftover buffet, Yoyo (you're on your own).

Check out Organizing Junkie for hundreds of menu plans.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Are In!!

I have not been posting much lately for several reasons, one of which is that my computer was not working properly and would not connect with the internet. Thankfully, that is all resolved now, so I am hoping to be able to post more. The other main reason for lack of posts in pictured above.

We bought the house and most of our stuff is here! It has been such a treat to sleep on actual beds again (in our rent house, we had very few of our household goods and were sleeping on air mattresses). There is still a lot of unpacking to do before I can start on the fun stuff like building the garden beds and hen house and such, but hopefully, most of that will be done by early next week. I am eager to get my hand dirty :)

Above is a picture of the house and a very few of the many, many trees on our property (almost completely wooded and hilly- idea for goats, maybe, but not for gardens, lol). I will get more up as soon as I can get them loaded onto my computer.

I'm glad to be back :)