right now

right now

Aug 7, 2010

Caffeine Rush

I got so much accomplished today! My "BFF" is having a BBQ tonight and I had self-imposed a deadline of 2:00 to get my kitchen cleared of all to-do items as well as mow the lawn, I did it! My one-woman show would never have happened if my kids hadn't been so cooperative, I consider myself very lucky! I kind of felt like Ma Ingalls sending her kids out to play with badgers in the crick, but whatever, they were safe and within earshot. I usually never let them go outside without me (we have a sex offender that works across the street, lovely, huh?) but it was a lovely 83 degrees and they played Lincoln Logs on the deck in the backyard almost all day. Does that mean payback will come tomorrow LOL?

0600: First shot of espresso...made garlic pepper dill pickles! I used my crushed dried chipotles from last year so this batch will be screamin' hot

0715: Child wakes up (probably from the vinegar smell LOL) and is overly excited about our newest vegetable to make it's debut, Yard Long Beans! These were so fun to grow and look like they will be beautiful in stir fry, my favorite winter dish for all our frozen harvest. I think we will always grow these from here on out.

0800: Sliced every pepper that dared cross my path and froze. Check this one out, is it a pepper or an ultrasound picture LOL?

0830: An iced latte, made all the berries and grapes that were in the fridge into juice and froze

0855: Watch with amazement at this little weird creature that hitched a ride in on the oregano:

0900: Decided to actually remember to dry some herbs and peppers this year, harvested and hung oregano and a few fish hot peppers and watched the kids fold my laundry - yep, you read it right! I was in shock so I had another shot of espresso

0915: Decided to clear my fridge of those damn watermelons. Can't bring myself to throw them away so I froze chunks to put into smoothies later.

0945: Decided to try EG's idea and feed watermelon to the dog.

Update: I forgot about Sprocket and the watermelon until the kids yelled "she ate it ALL"! I ran in to see that she did indeed eat it ALL, even the rind... I'm sure we will have a mess on our hands later...

1000: Made potato salad to take to the BBQ tonight

1100: Found every random tomato I could to make sauce before they spoil on my counter, still not enough so I made stewed tomatoes, 1 pint for the freezer

1200: Trip to the garden to make sure nothing else was left that I could possibly clear out (except the jalapenos of course, they are ALWAYS there!)

-saw that my Climbing Malabar Spinach had bolted in the heat, pretty little flowers though

-Noted that the Orange Wellington tomatoes that fell over during the storm are indeed dead. Drooping more with every passing hour. This is very bothersome since there are a couple of dozen green full size tomatoes on there that I was planning on saucing. Pizza Boy will not be happy about this. My Romas are my last hope I think.

1245: Mowed the lawn. I cheated a bit. It is so thick and damp from all the rain we have been having I didn't bag it ( I should have because it is too much mulch!), I just put it on the highest setting and zoomed around it quickly, 90 minutes is quick in my yard! It's still thick, damp and yucky but now it's thick, damp, yucky and all one length!

1415: Enjoyed a popsicle in the sandbox with the kids, then inside for another iced latte.

1445: Added the bleu cheese into my potato salad

1500: I asked the kids to pick up their mess and they actually did it (I'm sure this is because they are eager to go to the BBQ too since my BFF's 2 boys are their BFFs too!

1600: Ran everyone through the showers, clean clothes, yay! Kids were nice enough to let me blog, I think they have figured out their Type A mom is way more pleasant to be around when I have a clear head and counters.

We're off to the BBQ, and some much needed adult conversation time! I can truly relax now that I won't be accosted by random vegetables when I walk back in the door tonight. Although I am sure to be attacked by BFF's vegetables, but that's okay since I don't have to take them home with me! As long as she doesn't stuff any of that godawful Kolhrabi in my car. She loves that stuff, blech LOL! I think it's not the right time of year for it, so I should be safe!

One might think I was on crack today, but from what I understand crackheads bounce off the walls without getting anything done!

Now, where's my adult beverage?!...

Aug 6, 2010

kinderGARDENS Update: Week 17

Inadvertent Farmer

Week 17, the summer is flying by!

Better late than NEVER, which is what I thought had happened here. Remember the limp leaves on the green roof? Well here they are, same leaves, recovered and now climbing. Note how they have only grown about a foot in 17 weeks?????

And just look - a mini pumpkin developing on the green roof!

The seeds the kids sowed last week have sprouted and now we have the promise of a new season in the garden!

Next up: another of the kids' favorite garden activities... digging potatoes!

While this didn't happen this week, it does involve the kids digging the much anticipated potato cages. Suffice it to say they were very disappointing this year, so traumatic was the experience for me that I am just now able to talk about it LOL! Due to my fantastic results last year, I really had tried to convince many people to do the potatoes in straw cages this year... I'm Sorry! I don't know what the difference was this year, but the yield was horrible:

Total Potato Harvest
Rose Finn Fingerlings - didn't even weigh, one plate's worth!
Red Pontiac - 3 lbs
Red Norland - 3 lbs

Too bad my butt serves as the opening frame of this video, here is the way "things are supposed to work" in the cage system. It really is easy to harvest them this way, that is, if there were potatoes to harvest!

He was so excited!

Poor Finn searching for his non-existent Finn potatoes! The few we found are in the front of his little wagon.

Rose Finn Fingerlings, kids call them airplane potatoes because the usually have wings! This is how I first got my kids to eat potatoes.

Red Pontiac harvest. The Red Norlands are not pictured since I waited an extra few weeks on them, but they look the same as this, same yield, although the potatoes in general appeared to withstand heat better and skins were stronger than the Red Pontiacs.

Go to The Inadvertent Farmer to see what other kinderGARDENS contest participants are doing this week! She has a guest author this week who writes about using a Praying Mantis nest as a way to get older kids involved in the garden!

Aftermath: not too bad!

That was a crazy night! We normally have pretty high sustained winds around here, it's on the coast, after all, but the gusts usually spell disaster! When I filmed that video my neighbor was looking for her little dog out there and part of the fence had blown down! My dogs won't even go out when it's like that. So the high winds lasted about 45 minutes, we got an inch of rain in about 10 minutes, and then thunder and lightning and a steady slow rain for several hours after that. The silver lining of all this rain lately is no watering the garden in the early morning all week!

The verdict:

Sunflowers are simply amazing, still tall this morning

This is certainly not what I expected. My Orange Wellington tomatoes are in a container that is massive, sized for a tree, and very heavy. Definitely a W-T-H? moment!

Below are the tomatoes I was concerned about, the UFO's, especially since they stick 8-9 feet into the air and I haven't saved seed yet.

So my ridiculously unstable PVC experiment was a huge success! I kind of had the feeling it would be, since I had tried everything else previously. Last year I had super strong fencepost Florida Weaves going on and they effectively created a brick wall for wind, shredding the tomatoes during Hurricane Season. This year I opted for this floppy mess of a system, the PVC is literally jammed in the corners without rebar and simply tied together with twine at the top! The PVC flexed and swung back an forth in the wind but the vines were so spread out the air flew right in between the whole thing!

A branch of Quadrato Peppers was found about 30 feet from the plant, now I guess I'll get green peppers instead of red!

It actually gets much worse here in the fall, with the strongest hurricanes and tropical storms typically arriving in October, then in November the Nor'easters start arriving. My fall plants are so much closer to the ground then that it isn't as devastating. This is the reason I can't do hoophouses or tunnels here, the winds are too much. I learned my lesson after losing a bunch of money in PVC, rebar, and plastic 2 years ago!

On a high note yesterday was the 2 loaves of bread I got baked, sliced and frozen. I could have done another 1-2 loaves, but want to make sure this particular recipe thaws well. I have a feeling that getting the right recipe will be a big learning curve.

Now I need to get a weekly kinderGARDENS post together, that has been a challenge this year with the heat!

Aug 5, 2010

There might not be a garden tomorrow!

Just got back from the garden, my neighbor and I were out there battening down the hatches, 50-60 mph gusts and my 8 foot tall tomatoes are DOWN, with 2 dozen big green ones on the vine! Sorry this is so dark, I was hoping the wild storm clouds would show up, but the winds kicked up pretty good about halfway through, now it is driving rain, thunder and lightning!

All my hard work! I can't even think about it now, I'm going to read a book...

Show me the sunflowers!

The other day, Mama Pea of A Homegrown Journal asked for her readers to show her their sunflowers, so here they are! Not as many as I would like this year, I kind of forgot... but thanks to our long growing season I was able to recover and let the kids plant a few!

If any of you remember my "mud clump" that I brought home last year, here it is - the green bush with no flowers yet in center of photo! A fellow Master Gardener had divided her perennial Maximillian Sunflower last fall and was kind enough to bring a truck bed-load of "mud clumps" to class one morning to give away. I am very excited to see it bloom this fall, it has grown immensely since I planted the 1'x1' clump of mud last fall!

I think it's time for her to visit the hive, she was so loaded down with pollen she was having a hard time fighting gravity and staying on the flower when I took this!

What a great way to start the morning... FOR ME!...
When I returned from my early morning harvesting and photo taking, I walked into the house to find my two kids up and had made themselves breakfast! Of course I would prefer they wear shirts at the table, but I'll take what I can get. I think we are finally turning a corner in the child self-sufficiency department. Only days ago my morning would have been greeted by them whining out the back door at me in the garden "I'm hungry, mommmmm!, NOW!"

This morning's harvest included the 1st Roma of the season, I would prefer a little more ripe, but as I was checking it fell off into my hand! Don't think those jalapenos are all that needed picking, there are at least 200 out there but I am ignoring them, just picked a red and green for a heat check!

I want to thank all of you who posted comments yesterday, I was having "one of those days", and it was so nice to know there are others out there making it work, and I got such good advice and inspiring words, I am ready to tackle today with a clear head. It is supposed to be in the low 100's today so I will be in the kitchen all day, and instead of brooding about budgets, I will be taking action! I plan on baking bread today, and organizing my cabinets better so I won't put it off all the time (like having the bread ingredients so high I can't reach them LOL). I have a renewed energy today for being finance-challenged and embracing it rather than ignoring it hahaha! Thanks for your support, everyone!

So Mama Pea, I see your sunflowers and raise you one "Summer Fridge"! How 'bout it, everyone? Let's see pics of your "stuffed away, don't know what I'm going to do with it, help me I hate this vegetable but can't bear to throw it out, pickled" fridge contents!

Oh yeah, some of you gave me way too much credit for my "mommying": don't think I'm super-mom with my kids all the time LOL, today for instance, with the heat they will be plugged in to kid's movies on tv all day or I would never get a week's worth of bread made and kitchen cabinets organized!

Aug 4, 2010

Random things...

The triple digits and dewpoints in the 70's are back! The weather has been getting to me, with a reverse case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I have been finding myself so tired in the afternoons I almost fall asleep while making dinner!

The military wife thing has been tested to the limits lately, and I'm not even talking about missing hubby, although we do! One of the jobs that naturally falls 100% to the military wife is finances, for obvious reasons. So along with trying to keep the children occupied while missing their daddy and running the house and garden and all that entails, comes the job of trying to pull extra zero's out of thin air to add to bank balances. I honestly don't know how brand-new 19-20 something military members with families do it - I have been doing it for YEARS and we had the benefit of not having children for several years of it. Raising a family on one enlisted military income takes a lot of creativity and is definitely not for the faint of heart. One of my New Year's resolutions was to be honest to ourselves about our finances and I think blogging about the challenges occasionally lets me see that it's "okay" to not have a lot of money, and that I can still find common interests with others whether or not I am in the same financial "class" as them. We are slowly improving by reining in our unnecessary purchases, and trying to budget for the ones we feel are important. Take Target, for example: has anyone in the history of the world ever been able to walk out of there without spending too much? In our case, the amount $74 seems to be the standard, so I just won't even walk in the door now. Music? Camp? Vacations? I view these as important so it's hard to compromise on these. Our "vacations" our quite different than people that are not in the military, however - they aren't random trips to places we would like to see, they are always trips home to see family that are very important to us, so saying lay off the vacations is akin to saying "you can't see the grandparents this year", yeah, that's non-negotiable! So that's what's eating at me this week, budget revamping! (Funny how that always goes hand in hand with the property tax due date!)

Here's the cheap fun we have been having lately:

Kids made pillowcases today to send to the Persian Gulf. One for daddy, and an extra for a single sailor that might not get handmade goodies from home...

Free swimming at the Y, always a hit on a hot day! The kids were barely swimming when daddy left, so they are showing off their "mad skillz"

Playing nicely in their room... the shock of this moment hasn't quite worn off yet!

Cheap fun with bugs...

I baked bread today, this time just made the dough in the breadmaker, shaped and baked by hand. I like the results of this far better, but have a question for you dedicated bread makers...

Do any of you rely solely on homemade bread and have kids at home? With bread loaves topping $3 a loaf now I would like to make it at home, but it takes ALL DAY! What's the secret? And do homemade loaves freeze well, or are they dried out later?

Finn's harvest today

Yes, when you are a military mom you get to deal with clothes like this. I thought I had it hidden but he found it and INSISTED on wearing his gun shirt from daddy everywhere this week!

Aug 2, 2010

Harvest Monday and yukky watermelon!

It has rained all weekend, so with a little extra time on my hands (right), I broke out the tablecloth for Harvest Monday!

UFO's, Fourth of July, Orange Wellington tomatoes, Japanese Climbing Cucumbers, Quadrato d'Asti Rosso Bell Peppers, Yellow Stuffing Peppers, Jalapenos, Fish Peppers, Raspberries & Blackberries

My jalapenos have been "not hot" all summer so I have been leaving them on the vine to turn red and see if that helps. Usually I find the hotter ones towards the end of the season anyways. I had planned on making salsa today so I only harvested enough jalapenos and Fish peppers for a batch, and I sure am glad I tasted them before dumping them all in - screamin' HOT! They were still green and just the shoulders had that purple-black to them. Way too hot for doing stuffed jalapenos for the freezer, so now what? There's about 100 out there that need to be picked!

I was just sure that my 2nd sowing of Golden Wax and Dragon's Tongue beans were waiting for me to harvest... not quite yet, there were only 6, but soon! Baby Bush Watermelons were ready...

Yes, you can probably guess... we don't like watermelon here, either! I will say for me it was way better than canteloupe, "the 80's Stucco Fruit" - to me watermelon tastes like nothing... but I will say the nothing that I grew in the garden was better than the nothings I have tasted from a grocery store LOL! I will call this a success and be able to say at least I have grown melons. Now when I move to the frozen northwoods of MN I can check this off the list of things I wish I could grow there :)

Happy neighbors though, they will be receiving lots of watermelon.

Anyone know of a melon that is sour not sweet, LOL? That's the kind I want...

And what the he{{ is up with the Quadrato Peppers this year? I know I'm not the only one...

With the rain for most of the day, it has forced us to be inside, and it was kind of nice to have a "weather delay" from the garden. We went to the library, I was able to actually finish a knitting project, and was able to make 6 1/2 pints of salsa for the freezer, and 1/2 pint for the fridge.

Aug 1, 2010

got muffins?

now you do!

my favorite blueberry muffin recipe is "To Die For Blueberry Muffins"