Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blizzard of 2015

This past week has been crazy. First over the weekend we got about 7 inches of snow. During that little storm, we taught Matt how to use the snow blower. Not that we needed the snow blower to move the snow, a shovel was more than enough, but we wanted him to practice in a smaller amount of snow first.

He did a good job and we allowed him to use it during the blizzard to get us and neighbors out. He made 50.00 and got some food as a payment as well.

I took this picture of my backyard last Saturday. I fell hard right after I took it and have been super sore since. I bruised my tailbone really bad and hit my head hard so I had headaches for a few days. Nothing broken and no concussion. That's why I have been absent from here.

The snow started Monday afternoon for us here. I live about 20 minutes inland off the coast of southern NH. We started out with ocean effect snow showers.

Tuesday morning I attempted to open the backdoor to see how bad it was out. I didn't go outside until today. I hate the cold and I was super sore from both my fall and my RA. There are about 4 or 5 stairs hidden under all the snow.

Matt and Steve digging out the cars during the height of the blizzard. Both of them went out several times during the two days of the storm to keep our driveway sort of clear. Our neighbor had to dig our door out Tuesday morning after he crawled out his window. Matt snow blowed the end of his driveway for him as a thanks.

The blizzard was finally over Wednesday and both Matt and Steve again spent the day outside cleaning up. Matt mostly. He had to shovel out the shed door (we have a chest freezer in there) and the backdoor (where I was standing to take this picture).

Icicles above the backdoor. I ended up knocking them off. The sky was so pretty too.

Bigger collection of icicles coming off our metal roof. I need to take them off before they fall off and brake that window.

Remember that picture I took of my backyard before the blizzard, right before my fall? Well here is the yard once again, only full of all the snow and Matt's snow fort. He has been working on that thing for days. Notice the table. You can just make out the top of it.

Part of my garden. These are my snap pea trellis. They come up to my neck (I am 5'6"). Lots of snow back there. We had to dig out part of our oil tank so that we can get to it to get more oil. Something we will need soon I am thinking.

The path from the driveway to the backyard. It may not look like a lot of snow here because it was light and fluffy snow and blew all over the place. Now that storm is over, we are getting more tomorrow. They are estimating another 6-8 inches. Winter has finally arrived.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Homeschool Week

I figured I might as well keep a log of what we do weekly here on my blog, that way I have something else to show (besides written work and pictures of projects) when we have our portfolio evaluated at the end of the school year.

This past week was nothing very exciting. Matt worked on his math, science and language arts through Easy Peasy online. He doesn't complain much about doing these subjects this way. He seems to enjoy them and it is easier on me. I do have to have him do the work with me right next to him or he will lie about doing it. I caught him in this lie yesterday when I asked him what he learned about in science and asked about his language arts.

Matt chose what he wanted to learn about in history this year. What I had planned for him to use did not work out. It ended up being very dry and boring. So, we scrapped the curriculum and let him choose some topics. He has been working on a Cold War note pack and reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis. All I remember from the Cold War was the Berlin Wall coming down, but had no idea why or what the wall was for. We never learned about it in school. So I am learning along with Matt. Something I enjoy about homeschooling. We start WWII in two weeks. Again, a topic he choose.

 This past Monday would have been Edgar Allan Poe's birthday. I have always enjoyed his works and figured Matt and I would read some of his short stories and poems. We read A Valentine and figured out who the poem was addressed to. Clues are in the poem itself. We also listened to The Raven. My all time favorite. I had it memorized at one time but now all I can remember is the first paragraph. Here is the video that we listened to for the Raven. I love Christopher Lee's voice.

We also read A Tell Tale Heart. Again, another one of my favorites. I also found a video on Youtube that acts out the story. I remember seeing a play at a high school that had A Tell Tale Heart in it and loved it. This is the video we watched:

I love Youtube and have been using it more and more in our studies. It makes learning easier for me and seems to make things stick for Matt.

Matt also had an archery class, something he enjoys. I just need to talk him into competing like a few of the other kids have been. Matt is good and can do well in competitions.

I had a doctor's appointment and some physical therapy as well as some errands to run this week. Matt decided to stay home so I got things done relatively quick. The errand day was also the day Matt said he did his work when he didn't. He will be in a world of hurt next year when he is dual enrolled in some online classes if he doesn't do his work. He is only going to take math online, other subjects will be done by me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I usually only make these around Thanksgiving time, but Matt loves them so much, that he has been asking for them more often. I've used cinnamon in place of the pumpkin pie spice and the cookies taste just as yummy.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin (I use canned)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat sheet.

2. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, pie spices and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour mixture slowly, mixing well.

4. Drop by rounded tbps onto baking sheets. I use a scoop.

5. Bake 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned and set in centers. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love Chocolate Chip Cookies? It is my husbands favorite cookie and has to beg me to make them. I have made them so often, that I have memorized the recipe. I made a batch last night and so far I have only had 4 of them. Here is the recipe that I follow.

2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F .

2. Mix the butter and both sugars until creamy. 

3. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix.

4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.

5. Slowly add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture and mix. Add remaining flour and mix well.

6. Add chocolate chips to bowl and mix well by hand. 

7. Scoop onto parchment (or Silpat) lined cookie sheets and cook for 10 minutes.

8. Cool a couple of minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Picking Seeds For This Years Garden

My favorite time of year is coming closer. Right now my favorite seed catalogs have arrived. The first two are my most favorite, Baker Creek Seeds and Territorial Seeds. I don't need many seeds and one of these days I will learn how to save my own seeds so I don't have to buy anymore. Some seeds I am not going to try to save, like carrots, tomatoes and peppers. I have had no luck growing tomatoes and peppers from seed, so I will keep buying them in plants from Burpee.

Working on what I will be ordering. First up are Danvers Half Long Carrots from Baker Creek. I have a little bit of these seeds leftover from last year, but I want to plant a bunch more, so I need more seeds. Check out my post on how I store my seeds. It's funny to look at the picture of the bucket that held all the pill bottles last year compared to what I have this year.

I sure have gathered a lot of seeds. Our garden was a lot bigger this past year than the year before, so lots more room to grow new things. The packets up at the top of the picture are empty. I keep them and put them in my garden journal for reference. Here is my garden journal from last year.

I'll be placing my seed order in about 3 week or so. Waiting for our tax refund to come in first. Not that I plan on spending a bunch of money, but when I order my tomato and pepper plants, I will spend about 150.00 or so.

Weekly Menu 1/12 ~ 1/15

Monday ~ Ground Beef Stroganoff Over Noodles

Tuesday ~ Beef Stew

Wednesday ~ American Chop Suey

Thursday ~ Meatloaf, Mashed Potato, Green Beans

Friday ~ Homemade Pizza

Saturday ~ Sloppy Joes on Homemade Buns

Sunday ~ Corn Chowder

Dessert of the Week ~ Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Come check out some other ideas for meals at Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Learning How to Crochet

A little bit before Christmas, my sister taught me some basic crochet stitches, enough to get a basic understanding. Living on YouTube after taught me more. I love video tutorials. I can pause them and watch again if I don't understand a stitch. I am a very visual person, so watching how something is done helps me out. Looking at a book is no help in this case.

I figured my right hand (my dominate hand) would bother me a lot. Crochet may not be the best thing for someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I am figuring out what makes me feel better. I bought ergonomic hooks to help me grip them better. For the first couple days my left hand hurt, not my right. My left holds the yarn and doesn't seem to move as much as my right. The lack of moving and holding something makes it stiff and sore.

I saw this beautiful blanket made out of nothing but granny squares and I knew I wanted to make one like it, only using greens and blues. It is the colors in my bedroom. So I learned how to make a granny square. So easy! I have a little problem getting my tension 100% right, but I cant stand having the yard wrapped around my fingers. So far I have 15 done in this really pretty green blue color. I am going to get a few other colors that compliment this one. It may not be perfect, but it will bethe first blanket I ever crocheted.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Goals For The Year

This past year I read a total of 60 books, mostly between October and December. So far this year I have already read 5 books and it is only the 8th. I think I am off to a good start.

My goal this year is to read more than I did last year. I am also planning one book a month that is faith based. I had started "The Best Yes" and "Before Amen", but never finished them. Life got in the way while doing the bible study on them through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Those two books are the first ones on my list this year.

Here is my little monthly faith based book list. The links are for either Kindle or paperback.

January ~ Before Amen

February ~ The Best Yes

March ~ Women Living Well

April ~ Sacred Marriage

May ~ Created To Be His Help meet

June ~ Creative Counterpart

July ~ The Circle Maker

August ~ What Happens When Women Say Yes To God

September ~ A Women's High Calling

October ~ Praying For Boys

November ~ Spiritual Parenting

December ~ The Women of Christmas

I am also reading a few devotionals everyday. Revealing Jesus is my morning devotional, The Duck Commander Devotional is my afternoon devotional and Women of the Bible is my evening devotional.

The first two have short sweet readings with a small prayer.The Women of the Bible takes one women from the Bible a week, starting with Eve. You read her story, read scripture, answer questions, a prayer time and reflections on what you read. I have just started reading about Eve and have enjoyed it so far.

Most of my other books that I read are what others would call fluff. I love romance novels, Amish books have been keeping me entertained right now. I also love fantasy books.

I started reading Outlander the other night. I have been watching the show on Starz that is based off the book. I have enjoyed it so far and figured I should have the book finished well before the show starts up again in April. I am giving myself a week to read the book. It has 850 pages, so I should be good.

Now to go curl up with a good book.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weekly Menu 1/5 - 1/11

Monday ~ Veggie Beef Soup

Tuesday ~ Stuffed Chicken Breast, Mashed Potato & Corn

Wednesday ~ Baked BBQ Ribs, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans

Thursday ~ Minestrone Soup

Friday ~ Smoked Sausage, Green Bean, Potato Casserole

Saturday ~ Beef Stew & Homemade Rolls

Sunday ~ Left Overs

Desert of the Week ~ Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday

Monday, January 5, 2015

How to Dehydrate Parsley

This past summer my parsley plant went nuts. I managed to get 4 or 5 clippings from it. We use a lot of it in our cooking, so the only way for us to keep it was to dehydrate it. Thank goodness it is so easy to do.

First thing I did was clip the stems, leaving about 5 inches or so left on the plant. Not sure if this is how to trim them, but this is what I do and it always comes back fast. Then I take all the leaves off and compost the stems. Wash up the leaves and dry them in a salad spinner.

Once that is done, place the leaves on your dehydrator trays leaving some room between the leaves. I left a ton of room between these leaves for some reason. I got to the point that I was dumping the leaves on the trays and spreading them out as much as I could in a single layer.

Set the dehydrator at 110°F and dry for 6-8 hours. I tend to do it for 8. You want the leaves brittle and to crumble easily. Leave the leaves whole and store them in an air tight container. When you use them, then you can crumble the leaves if you wish. It will release all the yummy smells of parsley.

The leaves stay this beautiful green color, just like the fresh parsley. They even smell just as yummy.

I happened to have a store bought jar of parsley in the cabinet and decided to compare the two. The store bought stuff was a dull green and smelled like, well, nothing. My dehydrated parsley looked and smelled like fresh parsley. Not to mention mine is cheaper.

This coming summer I am planting a bunch of Oregano and Thyme to dehydrate. I use those in my cooking a lot as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Homestead Goals

It's time to plan my goals for the homestead. Some goals that we had for last year did not happen, so they are the priority for this year, They must get done. Other things are just things that we want to do to make things a little easier.

First off, we need a new oil tank for our heating oil. We hate the only company we are able to get heating oil from. All the other companies will not deliver to us until we get a new tank. There are a couple spots of rust on our current tank, then again, the tank is outside exposed to the elements.

Next is new windows. I may or may not have accidentally broken a window in the front of the house when I tried to get it to stay open. Our windows are the crank type, three section windows that go out. I love them actually mostly because I can have the windows open while it rains in the warm weather and not get rain inside. But unfortunately these windows are original to the mobile home (It was build in 1969), so they are horrible on keeping warm air in during the winter and the cold air in during the summer. New windows is a must to help keep our heating bill down. Our current windows are single pained. We do have storm window inserts for some of them, but not all. My hubby does what he calls a "redneck storm window." He basically takes the screens that come out and covers one side of it with that shrink wrap stuff for the windows. Once he puts that in the window, he then puts up a layer of the plastic around all the windows. He added some thicker plastic on the outside front to help keep the cold air out thanks to the broken window.

I would like to get a rain barrel or two to help with watering the garden. Only problem is, we don't have gutters on our home. Come to think of it, I don't think any of the mobile homes in our park have gutters. So what I have been thinking of doing is putting up some gutters on the backside of our shed and use the run off from that to fill our rain barrels. I have the perfect area for the barrels, I just need to have something built to raise them up a bit so I can use the spigot on them. I have all these pictures and ideas of what I imagine it will look like going through my head. I'll have to draw them and get my ideas down on paper.

The hubby wants to take the fence that we put up around the garden every year and turn them into panels to make it easier to put up and take down. Not to mention, look a little better too. He has been collecting wood for the sides of the panels whenever he is at a job site that has some in their trash. I can't believe what these construction workers throw away sometimes. Only issue is, hubby can't fit a lot of stuff in his mixer (he drives a concrete truck).

I would like to either build or buy a pre-made small storage shed for just my garden stuff. I have a lot of tools that tend to take up a lot of space in our shed. Space that we need for other things. Plus if I have all my tools in one place, I can find what I am looking for so much faster. Half the time I can't find anything I need when I need it. It gets very frustrating.

A large recycle bin is a must as well. One with a lid. We currently have three 50 gallon trash barrels that we fill up each week with recyclables. The lids are long gone so when it rains or snows, it collects in the barrels and makes them heavier and messy. We tried drilling holes in the bottom of the barrels, but they don't work all the time.

I need a new area for my compost pile. Last year we just threw everything in the old tomato bed. It probably has nice soil in it now that I will move into the big bed. The old tomato bed needs to come out to make room for the new oil tank area. I have tried those containers that you crank to turn and even a wine barrel that rolls on rollers, but the openings are either too small or the crank breaks because someone over fills the bin. I want something that doesn't move. I can easily mix the stuff up on my own or have Matt or the hubby help.

Finally, I would like to make some A frames for my cucumber plants and my pumpkin or melon plants. The vines from the cucumbers were crazy last year and we kept missing cucumbers. Our neighbors always took the over grown veggies we had, not realizing they are not meant to be that big and taste better smaller. Oh well, nothing went to waste. Others went into the compost to break down into good stuff for next years plants.

What are your goals for around the homestead this year?

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