Friday, July 31, 2009


Wanted to share this with you for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's one of the favorite spots in my house. The big photo of the tree and the bench reminds me SO much of the park in Chicago where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. The small photo of the child at the beach is me, and perhaps the last time I looked decent in a bathing suit. I love clocks. My dear friend Chris gave me the wallwords that say 'Sleep perchance to dream...'. So, just to look at this spot makes me happy.

I also wanted to share it with you cause I didn't sleep a wink last night! I'm not sure why. Hormonally, the progesterone cream has pretty much cured my insomnia. Last night was different. I was too excited to sleep. I kept thinking of things I wanted to do, make, and blog about! I should have just gotten up.

I coined this phrase last night: 'The floorboards of my mind are creaking under the weight of ideas". I also coined "You are a bull in my emotional china shop", but that is for another day and post.

A snippet of what was going on in my mind....

I should have gotten braces as a child. Is the goldfish still alive? Did I just hear a chicken squawk?? Were they all in the coop last night when I locked them in? If I got a cow...exactly where would I put the fence? Omagosh I can't wait to start embroidering again. I want to dress like a vintage housewife. What the heck am I doing wrong with my camera? I keep forgetting to call Lisa. Who did my hair back in 2006?

Ya...I could go on and on.

Speaking of my camera. I must be on a huge learning curve, cause I'm starting to want my OLD one back. I can't seem to get a good photo on this one. I've a lot to learn I guess. I apologize for the quality of the photos lately.

Question of the day: Does anything keep you up at night? Are you a sound sleeper?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

That Bread....a Baking Challenge!

Let me introduce to you.....the bread that changed my life! I've been positively evangelical about this bread since I've starting making it a couple of weeks ago.

I've always wanted to find a good bread recipe that lasted for a couple of days without becoming inedible, to make sandwiches, toast, etc. My friends....look no further!

I know a few of you have yeast fears. Let's settle those fears, shall we? I'm challenging each and everyone of you to make this bread this week!

You just won't believe how easy it is. The recipe will follow the photos. I make a loaf of this EVERY DAY now. It's what we use for sandwiches. A panini on this is fantastic. I love the frugality of making my own bread. You'd pay about $4 for a loaf of artisan bread like this, and you can make it for about 25 cents. It does require a 'dutch oven'. I use an old cast iron one, but I'm thinking that any covered pan that can withstand a temperature of 500 degrees should work. If you don't have anything like that, still try this. You might not get the chewy texture on the crust, but a more crunchy texture.

Here is the beautiful dough ball about getting ready to be put in the oven:

Here is the finished product. It's a recipe that I adapted from the Mother Earth News magazine for No Knead Bread. I don't follow it exactly as they do, and my results are fantastic. I now have about six ziploc bags made up with the 'bread mix' and all I have to do is add water and I'm done.

I TRULY hope this will put some of your bread making fears to rest. Please let me know if you try it!

Could you please let me know if you like step by step photo tutorials? I didn't want to be redundant about things. I know a lot of blogs use them. Do you like them?

The recipe:

3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix the yeast and water in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the flour and salt together. Add to the water. Stir it around until it forms a shaggy ball. Cover it with plastic wrap tightly. (I used a towel the first time, it needs the plastic wrap). Let it sit for 10, preferably 18 hours, at room temperature.

Now comes the fun part....punch the dough down (it will be VERY wet) and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Take a few more handfuls of flour and mix it into the dough, making it just where you can get ahold of it and it feels sorta like a water balloon. It will be a very soft, loose dough. I like to rub flour all over it at this point and slash it a couple of times on the top. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour or so.

Heat your oven to 500. Put your dutch oven in the oven while it's preheating.

Don't let the following step freak you out. After the oven is preheated, you have to lift that bread with the parchment paper and put it in the pot. I've never successfully done it without the bread deflating. It doesn't seem to matter!

Lower the oven temp to 425.

Cover the pot, and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover, and bake about another 20 minutes, or until your bread looks brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Try to let it cool for an hour before you cut it. Try hard.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meet My New Workout Partner.....

His name is Scott. He is never late. Always ready and waiting.

I bought this awesome mower on my trip to Shipshewana, Indiana last month. The same place I bought the 75lbs of flour! (Which I'm burning through by the way).

I'd been wanting a mower like this for some time. I have about an acre of grass, so it always seemed preposterous to mow it like this, but you know me.....and if you don't, you will. I'm cutting what I consider 'my yard', and Glenco cuts the back mess with the lawn tractor.

I take it in sections at a time. It's great exercise. There is something almost spiritual about cutting grass like this. It's so methodical. It's so 'quiet' compared to the roaring mowers around us. I'm deeply satisfied knowing I'm doing something that is good for me, good for the grass, and good for the environment. It's a win win. It's also cheap, which I really love! No gas baby!

Things I love about it:

The aforementioned. The ease of operation. It's light. It does a really great job at cutting. It looks like it 'belongs' here. So old timey.

Things I don't like so much:

Notice how the wheels are set out a bit from the blade. I'm sure they had to make it like this, but if you aren't careful, you'll have little strips of long grass that you miss, if you try to follow your wheel tracks.

Our property is VERY uneven. Makes it a bit of a challenge.

All in all, I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. It's a 20" Scotts Reel Mower. I'm pretty sure I paid just over $100. I was a bit too excited to notice the exact amount. Sorry. Gosh, all I need now is a SmartCar and I'll be so green.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And the winner is......

Comment #15 - Janice!

I'm so glad this was a random drawing. I'd never have been able to pick out a winner. You guys cracked me up and touched my heart.

Janice...welcome! Your first time here and you are a winner. What luck! Please email me with your full name and address.

Welcome to all the new readers and a hearty hello to all my return readers. You are all so special to me and I aim to prove it.

I'll press the apron tomorrow and get it out in the mail.

Thanks so much to everyone that entered. It's your comments here that makes it a special place for me.

More giveaways soon! This is my favorite part!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

At Long Last....The Giveaway!

A Gen-yoo-wine vintage apron is up for the giveaway today! This apron is SO sweet. Just wait til you see the craftsmanship on this. Such tiny stitches, so perfectly sewn. Notice the nice little pocket detail?

You'll love having this, and you need it! A farmgirl doesn't cook without an apron ya know.

Start posting your comments. (one per person please). Since it's been so quiet around here lately, I thought I'd leave this giveaway up for a couple of days. The winner will be announced Tuesday night, sometime before I go to bed....about 9 CST time.

Thanks so much for reading my blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009


My plans for the weekend involve lollygagging.

Lol ly gag : To fool around; to spend time aimlessly; to dawdle or dally.

I'm not making a list. I've no goals to attain, other than lollygagging and doing whatever strikes my fancy.

Life is short. Make sure you make time for lollygagging.

PS....That chair was a yard sale find this week. $2. :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Love Puberty

Say you had a pimply-faced, oft times moody 13 year old boy around the house all the time. Say, that you 'accidentally' squirted him with the hose today. Say that he got 'out of sorts' when you did, muttering something about his suede flip flops. Say you roll your eyes, say he rolls his. Say he and his friend go off to the Squirrel to probably talk about how lame adults are. Say you let a little time go by and think of something funny to do. Say you tape a bottle of Pamprin (what a boy in puberty needs if you ask me) to a telescopic marshmallow toaster and plan a sneak attack to the camper to poke it in the window at him.

Say you are trying to plan your attack since there are windows on every side. Say you think...hmmm...I'll go around the blue lagoon and then sneak up, hopefully unseen. Say you have Crocs on. Say you just watered a new shrub border that is a full of clay soil and you haven't mulched yet. Say you step on that clay soil and go flying. Say you fall down and are covered in mud. Say you lay there laughing hysterically and the aforementioned pubescent teen comes out of the trailer laughing hysterically.

Say you shower, wash your shoes off, and start laundry on a day that isn't laundry day at all. Say you feel so grateful that you can resolve conflict sometimes with good ole belly laugh.

*Head bowed, hands folded* Dear Jesus....get me through the teen years. In one piece. With a sense of humor. Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lunch Memories

Lunch. I just like the sounds of it. Let's stop mid-day and have a bite. Lunch can be satisfying, or quite disappointing. My earliest packed lunch memories are of going to Day Camp at Calumet Park in Chicago. Mom would pack me a bologna sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper. A can of pop would be wrapped in foil. Did it really keep it cold? There was ALWAYS Twinkies, Ding Dongs or Ho Hos. Come to think of it, I don't remember a day going by in my childhood without SOME Hostess product. I always felt loved when I opened my lunch at Day Camp. For a brief moment, I was home. I was loved. I was safe.

In grammar school I was one of the fortunate kids that got to walk home everyday for lunch. I was always greeted with a nice grilled cheese sandwich and bowl of soup...and yes, you guessed it...a Twinkie. Sometimes mom would have a new pencil or something special there for us too.

Today I pack my own lunches. I still feel the same way when I open it. I feel home. I feel a connection to the things that I love. I know people that eat nothing but fast food all the time. They are missing out on something special.

Do you have any lunch memories?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Big City

Let me preface this post by saying I was born in Chicago. Raised in Chicago. Worked in Chicago. Married in Chicago. Accustomed to city life, I worked in the 'Loop' and commuted by trains and buses daily. I love the museums, the Lake, the shopping, the 'energy'.

It's been a long time since I've been in the city my friends. I'm only an hour away from it out here. This weekend I realized that I wasn't just an hour away, I was light years away.

We attended the Dearborn Garden & Architectural Tour yesterday. 22 award-winning gardens on display on Chicago's Gold Coast. The gardens were magnificent. Most weren't bigger than my living room but stunning nonetheless.

This one was a personal favorite.

It was a beautiful day in the city. 75 degrees and sunny, with a beautiful lake breeze. Oh how I miss that lake breeze.

I became painfully aware about 20 minutes after getting to the city that it's been a long time since I'd been in that mode. I seriously thought a woman was hitchhiking when I realized she was hailing a cab. I used to hail cabs!

I won't even go into how I felt about my clothes. So many people dressed so fashionably. This is my latest fashion accessory. It's a keychain. Oh gets's also a flashlight!

That's a little felt bag with squirrel on it. What am I 12?

In a futile attempt to feel better about myself this morning, I did the following to my hair. I give up. I'm not leaving my property.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

8 Down 1 to Go

Lives that is. I sure hope so. I'm not too sure he's in the clear. Poor thing wants to go out so bad. He's up, he's drinking a little water, but still not eating. When he tries to eat, he's aspirating. I'm starting to think he may need to be tube fed. I don't mind nurturing animals, in fact I love it.

Poor little Mocha.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oh My Mocha

Oh my dear Mocha....what happened? You were missing for two days and we found you like this. I'm heartbroken and oh so worried.

So is Aaron.

Calvin....not so much.

Your mom was asking about you today. She looks so worried.

She stayed up all night. She even sent out the bat signal in hopes it would help.

Here you are this morning. Don't try to get up need your rest. The Dr. doesn't know what happened to you, neither do I. 105 fever. No food ingested in three days. Salivating. Lethargic. All tests came back clear. Please pray for my kitty.

Even the chickens were up late last night worried. Note to's called a ROOST pole. You are supposed to use it. Bird brains.

The Family "Pig"nic

For about three years now, I've been hosting a family get together here at the house. It's informal, as most picnics are. It's all of Glenco's side of the family. The only family I have close by is Cindy and Aaron, and I do see them everyday. Glenco's family, even though they are relatively close by, we only see them once a year for the most part. I am to be remedying that soon.

About 15 minutes before it was supposed to start, I came down with a killer headache. I apologize to the family members that I didn't even get a picture of!

Allow me to introduce you to.....

Jim and Sarah. Dad and Daughter. Glenco's younger brother and his oldest girl. Sarah, I know you are LOVING me for posting this pic. They have a great relationship.

This is the lovely Samantha. Oh my she is so lovely, and she has lovely offspring. This is Elena. She has a son too...but did I get a pic? Um...nope.

I'm sure you recognize Lenny Kravitz here. That is Cindy, my older sister (I'm the baby), Aaron's mom. She needs a good man if you have one available.

Here is Jim again and his dashing son Ryan. Ryan is the second born, the first born Jason, was unable to attend due to work.

Oh! Here is the front side of Ryan. How cute is he? He's a 24 year old bachelor. Send in your resumes girls! And that is Glenco manning the grill. I've never been so painfully aware of how badly I need a cupola on the garage.

Here's a much better pic of Sarah. I wouldn't diss ya girl. So pretty. Looks run in Glen's side of the family.

Here's the niece Rachel. She's Jim's last born.

Sherie and Valerie. I sure wish these gals lived closer. Oh the times we could have. Oh the weeds they could pull for me. Glenco's two younger sisters. Glen is the eldest.

Here is Aaron again with Miranda, Sherie's daughter. Every year, when I take pics, it's the kids that just get me. Heck, hard to even call them kids anymore, you know? She has breasts now. When did that happen? I demand to know.

I had an awfully nice time. The Advil Liqui-gels kicked in and I just totally took it easy and let everyone wait on themselves. It's amazing really. People really do know how to poor their own drinks and find forks. I never realized that before!

Melissa..I'm so sorry I didn't get your photo. A pox upon me. I'm sorry. I also didn't get a pic of the two little hooligans in the pool, or the progesterone cream that ended up on the bathroom ceiling! TOO FUNNY! I KNEW I shoulda put that away.....I'm not used to little ones about anymore.

Here's the matriarch of the whole clan. Genevieve. A mild mannered gentle soul she is. She's had a hard time in life. I'm not quite sure why she reminds me of the Godfather in this pic. I mean no disrespect. I just keep hearing Marlon Brando in my head.

I asked the I mean, Genevieve for a very special thing and she, I mean, said yes. About 20 years ago, I gave her a sewing box that my mom had given me when I was 11. Why? I've no idea. I used to be awfully bad about things like that. I really so don't like clutter, and it must have been clutter at that time.....she still has it, and she's giving it back. It's going to be SO special to me. I just can barely wait.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nothing a Trip to the Library Can't Fix.....

Thanks for your kind comments regarding my 'outofsortness'. I've been off kilter a few days, but feel that I got my mojo back late last night as I finished pitting the cherries....ohhh about midnight. I'm happy to report that all the sour cherries are resting safely in the freezer.

I've taken all of your comments to heart. I really have.

I made a trip to the library yesterday. That always cures what ails me. Book therapy. Now, I'm not joking when I say that I had to go pee as soon as I got there, I was THAT excited when I found a few of these great books. When I go to the library, it's like all of my organs get mixed up and put in places they don't belong. It's hard to describe.

I'm not sure if you can read the titles or not. Do you have ANY idea how hard it was to NOT get a few cookbooks? I'm the poster child of self control.

See that top book? ADHD & Me. Ya. Well....I'm diagnosing myself with Adult ADHD. Are you laughing yet? If you know me in 'real' life, you probably are.

Not shown in that pile are the cds, dvds and homeschooling books that I brought home as well.

Aaron was quite proud of his pile. A new 'thing' we started is that he has to get books from the following categories every two weeks:

Age appropriate novel
Practical how-to

Well how did this chicken pic get in here? I just wanted to show you how big the girls are getting. I'll have to properly introduce you to each of them in another post. That's Helen on the upper left. She's a true blue chicken now. She even runs away from me, the ingrate. If you are new to the blog, you'll have to read back to some of the Helen stories. Click on the 'chickens' link on the lefthand side.

PS If you're a family member, and you keep coming here checking for family picnic pics, please be patient with me...they should be up by this time tomorrow.

Until grateful ya'll.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm Trying

I took this picture this morning on a weed identification nature walk with Aaron. I loved the way this particular flower was up above the rest.

It was trying so hard.

I feel like that today.

I'm trying.


Trying to balance homeschooling, work, the garden, my social life, and my quest for a simple quiet life.

I feel battle weary today. Bad headaches and sciatic nerve problems are cropping up. I think it's my body's way of telling me to slow down some.

I'm trying. :-)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Sometimes a farmgirls gotta do what a farmgirls gotta do. When the cherries are ready, you pick them. Rain or shine, get the cherries. Night before last when I got home from work there was a steady heavy drizzle, but I didn't let it stop me. There's pies in them there trees! By the way, that isn't a mole on my face, which now I almost wish it were, cause it looks so Cindy Crawford...not sure what that is? A leaf bit? A tick? I dunno...

Every single time I pick cherries I think of my dear Aunt Gladys who fell out of a cherry tree and broke her leg. I always worry that I'll do the same. It's just the stuff that happens to me. See how precariously I'm perched on this ladder with wet rubber shoes on? It's an accident waiting to happen I tell you. (By the way, love those grubby shoes. Bought them at Target a couple of years ago, they were SO cute new. I love how I can muck about in the yard and then just hose them off. I'm about due a new pair, don't you think?)

Glenco came out to make sure I didn't fall off of the three foot ladder. Oh, I didn't tell you I have dwarf cherry trees? :-)

Apologies for the pics. The light was terrible. I think my shutter speed was about 1/8. I'm holding my breath, standing on a wet ladder people...cut me some slack.

Here are the jewels. These are sour cherries, sometimes called Pie Cherries. Montmorency is the variety. I don't like to eat them right off the tree, too sour for me.

Just as in life, some of the best things are just out of reach and require extra effort. It was right about this moment when my frizzy curly hair got all tangled up in the tree branches and I imagined myself hanging from my hair out of the tree. Didn't that happen to someone in the Bible?

I don't spray my trees with any chemicals. I'd love to say that it is cause I'm so organic, which really I am, but the real truth is that I'd never have the time to prune and take care of these trees correctly. It's by the goodness of God that I get anything at all! I planted two, cause you need a pollinator with these trees. This year one died, I have no idea why. Renee, you'd asked in a comment how I keep the birds off the trees? I'm sure they do get some, but they like the mulberries much better which actually ripen at the same time! How convenient that I have a large mulberry tree just steps from the cherries! Maybe they haven't discovered the raspberries, or the cats lying on the porch keep them at bay.

If you have the space, and you truly don't need much, I'd encourage you to plant a couple of these trees. They are beautiful in the spring, loaded with white flowers. Structurally, they are a pretty, small landscape tree. You will be so tickled going out and picking something off of a tree in your yard, and making a pie with it. Trust me on that one.

I'd planned on making cherry muffins this morning. Given the time of the month right now, I dare not bake them. I dare not I tell you. I want to share this recipe with you though.

Before I do, let's talk about muffins a little. I'm assuming that you bake alot, and maybe know these tips. If you do, scroll on down to the recipe, if not, read this, it will really help. (Do you know that all the time I write this blog, I'm paranoid that I'm using comma-splice sentences and run on sentences!? I'm sure am, I'm sorry.)

OK...muffin tips. Don't even think about using an electric appliance anywhere near your muffins. You really want to do it all by hand. You aren't making CAKE, you are making muffins. You don't want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter. I actually imagine that it is some nuclear mixture that will explode unless I treat it with the utmost care. I kid you not. I mix it SO gently, barely getting it mixed at all. It's hard to describe, and you can thank hormones that I don't have a photo of it to show you. Next time I do make muffins, I promise to show you a picture, ok?


You should also have an oven thermometer and make sure that your oven is correct. Disasters may ensue if you think you are baking at 350, and your oven is really at 400.

I like using an ice cream scoop to insure that my muffins are uniform. I also do not like using cupcake liners on muffins. It's just my preference, but I like having a nice browned crust on my muffins.

Ok, without further adieu, the recipe. If you don't have access to cherries, try looking in the freezer section. I THINK they sell sour cherries there.

Cherry Vanilla Muffins

Makes 12.

Preheat oven to 400.

2 1 /4 cups of flour

4 t. baking powder

1/2 t salt

3/4 cup of sugar

2 cups of sour cherries

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 c. of milk ( I prefer using 1/2 cup regular milk, and 1/2 cup buttermilk)

1 T vanilla

Sift your dry ingredients together, mix in your cherries. Set aside.

Mix your wet ingredients together.

Mix the wet and dry together GENTLY! Remember the nuclear theory!

Bake about 12 minutes (longer, if you've used frozen cherries). Again, I just look and can tell when the muffins are done. Look for a golden brown muffin, that seems a bit firm when poked.

Cool, and glaze with a mixture of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. I don't have a recipe for that, I just plop about a cup of powdered sugar in a bowl, add about a teaspoon of vanilla, and then enough milk to make it drizzleable.

Count your blessings today ya'll.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

75 lbs of Flour Indeed

I spent the day in Shipshewana Indiana on Monday. For those of you that aren't familiar with that area, it is an Amish community. I used to go all the time, and then it just got a bit old. It was fun to go this time, I'd not gone in some time. What did I get? Let's see about 75 lbs of flour? Check. Why I got this, I'm not sure. Cause I could I suppose! I do go through alot of flour around here with baking and all..but 75 lbs? I keep hearing Morilla say to Matthew, from Anne of Green Gables...'25 lbs of brown sugar indeed'.

I also picked up this clothesline. It was .99. I can't even begin to pronounce the name, but that is why I got it, I just got a kick out of it. It feeds my clothesline obsession I have now. I miss my soft towels, but I'm 'stickin' it to the man'. The man is the electric company.

I also got something else that I'm drooling over, but that's another post, so I'll keep you in suspense for now! I didn't take any other photographs of the area. Two reasons, well three. #1. I plum didn't feel like it. #2 I didn't want to look like a tourist. #3 Seems disrespectful to the Amish.

Other news on my wannabe farm. The raspberries are about ready. I pick enough for breakfast every morning. I doubt I'll have enough for jam at any given moment. They get gobbled up too fast. I'm not a huge raspberry fan. I prefer blueberries or strawberries.

I feel so rich in my soul when I go out in the morning and pick raspberries for my breakfast. Simple pleasures.

I eat this alot. It's a blend of lowfat cottage cheese and lowfat/low sugar yogurt blended with fruit. Very yummy, and healthy to boot.

Just wanted to show you the view from the screen door tonight. It's really filling out isn't it? The raspberries are right behind the kettle grill there. The gourds are starting up the trellis.

Oh ya, the Blue Lagoon is still here. Didn't sell it. Probably won't now. Is it me or does it look smaller?

Other little news, the girls now 'put themselves up' at night! Hallelujah! No more scrounging in the dark for chicken birds. Now if they'd just reach a wing out and shut the door, I'd be set! Helen is doing fantastic. You'd never know she'd been sick a day in her life. Goes to show you what a little faith and a lot of love can do.

Be happy ya'll.