Saturday, March 30, 2013

Little Carts for Little Shoppers

 How cute is this?
Our non-shopper, Taylor, doesn't mind hitch'n a ride with 
Grandma and Pops if we're going to Frick's,
the best little grocery in Union, MO.
They have little carts for little shoppers, 
just perfect for Taylor as we selected our bunny cake
and some good eats for Easter.
 Plus some Nutella for her peanut butter sandwiches! 

They smoke their own meats right in the parking lot, which can be really super bad because it smells delicious and makes you want to run right in and buy up a whole bunch of meat, which we did today-- although ours was raw.  The sales were pretty good so we stocked up on some for the freezer.   By the time we were done, Taylor's little cart was to the top.  It was then that we realized you can't leave the store with the tiny carts.  I guess they have lost several over the years.  Such a shame.   So we repacked her cart into a larger one and headed for the truck.     

   I had to get some photos, as strange as other shoppers
thought I might be.  You see, they can't expand as they are
in the middle of town.  This is town with a real town square where the original courthouse sits smack dab in the center.   

Their parking lot is cramped, hardly large enough to back the truck out of a parking space without running into  a shopper or the car  behind you.  
They are moving to a new location that is not right in the middle of town,
I know their products will be the same, and the workers will likely be the same
but it just won't have that small time grocery that it's been.
Maybe they need to get larger to compete with Wal-Mart down the way 
or the discount grocery that has lots of room and a whole lot of 5 for $25 packages of some sort of meats and fishes that come from China - no thanks, I will pass on those.
Actually, I'll pay a little more if I can trust where I shop.

I guess this is my tribute to small town grocers.
I hope they keep their little carts.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Snow Damage in the Coop Yard

 We had record snow for March, just outside of St Louis,
and it proved too much for the chicken yard.
We have to wire the top of their pen because the hawks
sit in the branches above it just waiting for their opportunity.
 The wire also covers the sides so nothing can slip
in between cage and coop.
Plus it runs up the lower sides with the bottom
buried beneath soil and rock so nothing can dig under.

Leaves had fallen on the chicken wire, 
leaves we should have cleaned off much earlier, 
but it gave them better cover.

Then it started to snow.
A lot.  
Very quickly.

The weight of  8.5 inches of snow was just too heavy.
Today my husband took care of the snow and leaves,
reconnected the wire and is working on strengthening 
the top so this doesn't happen again.   

The coop looks a bit unusual.
We're technically not allowed to have chickens 
based on subdivision rules.
So we built a "tool shed"
I don't think it is fooling anyone, 
especially with two roosters crowing!

Our cedars were heavily weighted down.
 I saw several large branches alongside the road 
in front of neighbors houses.  I'm sure we'll discover some as well.

Although beautiful, I could do without this much.

 The turkeys were out and about, even in the snow.
    They wouldn't let me get a good shot before
they ran off into the woods.

 I'm hoping this was our last snow for awhile!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

For The Birds

A late March snowstorm hit our area today
causing problems for not only humans
but also the little birds.

 These little prints say it all.
I took shovel in hand every hour, 
or sometimes on the half-hour,
to clear the snow from the back deck
so the birds had a place to stand while waiting
their turn on the feeders.

We've measured at 7 1/2 inches by 7:20 Sunday night.
 It's over a foot North of us.
We still have a couple more inches to go according to the news.
It's a wet, heavy snow, difficult to push around.
  As I returned to re-clear a path across the courtyard  
  below the new snow is a layer of slushy mush,
  I'm not sure if it will stay slushy or turn to ice.
I hope to work from home tomorrow,
I'm an hour away from work and I don't want to 
try our roads in the dark tomorrow morning.
 I'm not a very good snow driver.

 My husband has been trying to keep ahead of the snow
on the subdivision road and our driveway.  
He has a plow on our four wheeler so he drives
around every few hours, coming home soaking wet.
I'm taking care of decks, porches and pathways.

It is supposed to be in the 60s by next weekend!
I hope we've seen the last of the snow! 

Catawissa Mo Maple Syrup

It's 100% pure maple syrup from the best
Catawissa MO maples this side of Calvey Creek.
Our friends came over for an evening of fun 
conversation and a few games of pool
 (watch it, she's a shark) 
plus presented us with a delicious bottle of syrup.

We didn't tap our maples this year so this was fantastic,
 light and sweet,  perfect on waffles.

Our friends  live on  about  50 acres just up the way from us.
They have a tiny house, no more than 500sq ft, IF THAT.
They rent out the two larger houses on the property but didn't feel 
they needed anything more than this for the two of them.

They have bees, raise meat goats, dabble in herbs and raised chicken
a few years ago but  plan to start up again.     

She's retired as a realtor and began to study chain saw carving, 
 participating in festivals across the country creating amazing
carvings and doing a lot of charity work.

They are opening an on-line general store which 
features everyday ladies items as they experiment with 
stock, but will branch out into more of their homemade items.
I'll share more as things develop.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ancient Grains Bread and Dehydrated Tomatoes

Our dehydrated heirloom tomatoes created a gourmet
treat on our meatless Friday night.

Place dehydrated tomato slices in to a closed container
to which you have added olive oil to cover,
herbs (basil, marjoram , thyme)
 black pepper and sea salt plus crushed garlic.
Allow to soak for several hours.  

I stopped into Whole Foods on my way home from work.
They were sampling their Ancient Grains bread and it was delicious.

     They started with a Bible Bread mix with 
spelt flour and sourdough, there is whole grain barley,
malt flour, flaxseed, bean flour, sea salt, millet,    honey,
 poppy and caraway seeds plus yeast.  It's soft inside
and nicely leathered outside.

We topped the bread with the tomato-herb-oil mixture 
and added other toppings as desired.

I mixed up a nice salad using a garlic dressing, 
mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, red onions and black olives.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mulch to Sleety Snow

 I stand at the garden wall
 bundled up in my work jacket and pompom knit hat
with rake and clippers in hand.

Taylor drives the four wheeler trailering the wagons of mulch
although Tom backs it down to the top of the wall.
We start raking it out, either letting it flow down the hill
or shoveling into buckets to mulch from the front of the wall.

It's cold and damp.
We've lit the courtyard fire pit both for warmth
and to burn off bits of leaves and limbs.

We're preparing for Spring, but Winter still holds some surprises.

 The pileated woodpeckers have been Demanding suet,
both male and female await their turn
which hopefully means babies will be visiting soon.
They are very aware of their surroundings  so photo
ops are rare except at angles through the screened windows.
 I am considering a  woodpecker suet feeder that has an extension
so they can balance their tails.  Currently they dangle, swinging
back and forth due to their enormous size.

You can see the iris popping up along with some
soapwort and the stella d'oro lillies.

But the morning brought sleety snow,
2-4 inches expected, mixed with rain,
accumulations mostly on grassy surfaces 
and our road which is gravel and would quality as a grassy surface. 

I told my husband I wanted three things out of life this morning.
1.  Coffee
2. Read the Blogs
3.  No SNOW

 They say two out of three ain't bad.
They are wrong!
Oh where, oh where is Spring?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Energy Usage Down in 2012

Well, I'm back.
It looks like I failed jury duty, out of the 37 in the pool
they only needed 12 so the rest of us were dismissed.
This was my first experience with jury selection.
I will say it was quite interesting and the final
selection was something of a surprise to me 
considering the type of civil case and circumstances.
I'm still eligible to be called since it's a six month period.
One of the ladies is now serving on her second trial 
with the last one only two months ago!

On to business . . .  
Our Energy Usage was down in 2012
but only by 1% as compared to our
spectacular decrease from 2010 to 2011 of 21%.
I understand it will be considerably more difficult
to keep up a good rate but we can do better.

One observation is that we did not burn as much wood
for heat during the winter.   The winter wasn't as cold as
it was last seaon.  We didn't have the
consistent colder temperatures that allowed us to
keep the wood burner going last season.   
 We also didn't want to burn too much wood as
we didn't have as  much on hand.

Now what more can we do to get that percentage up?

**Unplug items we don't use.  
Why do I keep guest room clocks plugged in unless we have a guest.

 **Turn off more lights .
I'm bad about keeping lights on, especially when I'm home alone at night.

**Watch the summer A/C - this was our high point 
   The daily average was between $10 - 12.86.
 The low was Oct -Nov at $3.78 to $3.87  
July and August saw extended temperatures over 100 degrees F.

 We have a geo thermal system so unless we installed solar, 
we can't get much better and solar is way out of our price range.
We don't use a dishwasher at all and hang clothes to dry
when the weather allows.  

  Any other ideas?

You can read our 2011 post at this link.
                 Lowering Energy Usage by 21%

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Expanding the Garden

 We're expanding the larger garden this season, 
cutting down  some of the trees on our five
acres that are blocking the sun on the  
North Eastern side of the house.

The hubby will keep the good wood for use
next winter or for a fire or two in
the burn pit in our court yard as neighbors
gather round with drinks and snacks.

 We inherited  (at least temporarily) some lawn furniture
when my brother-sister in-law moved onto their yacht.
We're debating the color since we do need give them another coat.
I say either keep them white or something that will blend 
into the woods since this is by the garden.
My husband insists on John Deere Green!

It's hard to get a good view but this is where 
our garden  sits.  The greenhouse will be used 
for the first time this year. I've got a  wooden table 
to set  things on as we're working and then 
boxes framed with tree trunks for various plantings.
Herbs and tomatillos in the first bed along with peppers.
Zinnias and onions below this bed.
We had cukes,tomatoes and squash varieties in the second bed.

Pumpkins, peas, and more squash at the bottom bed
Beans at the top.
There is a third bed that was unused last year
but will be dedicated to squash this season.
Supposedly, since it has not mulch, we will get fewer bugs.

We have a small Western side garden for greens
radish and the potato box. 

 I have plans for lots more herbs ! 
Culinary and Medicinal.

This isn't my view but it's my brother-sister in-law's lot
which is next to ours. Of course this is ground level
but when you're in a house like ours,
two stories with an actual attic 
 the view goes on forever!

This is looking from the Eastern garden area
towards our place.
Don't look too close, it's messy right now!

My little Western side garden  radish seeds are coming up.
These are the ones I planted before the deluge of rain
  where they went floating down, down, down
and will probably puddle up at the end of the planter box!
I will have to replant .

 Tomorrow the hubby tows away tree limbs and  
cut up trunks and prepares the lower area for
our utility trailer which will hold our gardening
items.  He will also build some more structures for holding the wood.

I have jury duty starting tomorrow.
When I get home I have to log into work and handle anything 
that can't wait so I don't know if I'll have time to post but
I'll catch up over the weekend!

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Should Have Known!

My husband mentioned that he had a delightful lunch 
of wine, crackers and cheese.
 Of course this is the image I had in my mind.

Really?  I should know better!
This is what Actually happened  . . .

Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon-
still not too bad, right?
(  LOL, more on this later)

Then I found the cheese source.

The topper was his choice of cracker!
Sometimes I wonder about him.

If you want to read about my experience with purchasing 
this particular brand of wine-which I happen to really like-
 read along here
 I guess my taste runs to the 
"wrong side of the tracks" 

wine and cheese link
 Pimento cheese spread

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Washed Away

The sun finally came out this evening.
That would normally be a good thing  except 
I'm a little concerned.
You see, I planted some seeds last week.

I don't know where the radishes or lettuce will come up.
It's all washed away or swished around.
Seeds used to be here, they still may be- or not.
Not to worry, I have more

I don't have a rain gauge, but our fountain is full
with the non-stop rain we've had since Friday night.
 The low water bridge is way under and the
creek doesn't have far to go before it floods the road.
 It isn't that bad, we have another way out.
We need the water.

I haven't been very  productive, except for planting a few seeds .
So - I'll show you our new mailbox.
It's HUGE, I'm thinking about throwing our next party in it.
I'm sure the mail lady is happy because she normally 
drives down to the house and leaves packages at the door.

I've made progress on my husband's puzzle.
Well, it's my puzzle now, he put a piece or two on it
and gave up.  I'm struggling with sky, a dog and  chopped wood now.

Sorry the posts have been so lean lately.
I don't know what's wrong but I am exhausted 
when I get home from work.
There is a bug going around.
Or I've been lazy this week.

Next week I potentially have jury duty.
We'll see if I'm selected.

We just got another heavy downburst, it's absolutely pouring!
  Hopefully it's clear by morning. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cutting Corners- BOM

Back into the swing of things- 
Cutting and piecing the corners of my 
Yes, it has been in the works forever now!

 I have two complete, 
one cut and ready to sew
and the last in a pile to be 
trimmed down to 2 inch blocks.

Then there will be hundreds 
and hundreds
of flying geese
and a log cabin 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

BBQ Chicken & T's Pepperoni Pizzazs

They are at it again- filling me up with as many delicious 
pizza flavors as they can, 
this time one of my very favorites, 
Tom's BBQ Chicken Pizza and
Taylor's Pepperoni Pizza creations.

Our BBQ Chicken Pizza started out with my husband's homemade pizza dough.

Preheat your oven 550 degrees for 45 minutes.

2 C all purpose flour 
(or 1 C All purpose and 1 C semolina flour)
 2 TBL cornstarch
   1 tsp granulated sugar
  1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 C + 2 TBL water
2 TBL olive oil

  Mix all ingredients, kneed well.
It is an extremely dry dough.
 He rolls it out on parchment paper, super thin, 
so thin you can't pick it up.   Transfer it onto the back
of a cookie sheet in order to get it to the oven 
and place it on the preheated stone.

For the BBQ pizza, we used Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauce-
sweet and  ever so slightly spicy.
He sprinkled some garlic and red pepper flakes into the sauce as well.
He topped it with grilled chicken breast  cut into cubes,
(spiced with Montreal Steak sauce)
topped it with thin slices of  red onion
and a combination of  mozzarella and  provel cheeses.
 Provel is a combination of cheddar, Swiss and provolone, 
a signature St. Louis cheese.
 Marjoram, basil and thyme are also sprinkled onto the toppings.
 Transfer it, along with the parchment paper, into the oven
 Remove after about 5-6 minutes by transferring it again 
on the back of the cookie sheet and sliding it onto your slicing surface.
It should look like these photos.
This is for an ultra thin crust- like Imo's pizza 
for those that have tried it.

Taylor used the same method to create her pepperoni pizza
although she is a little lighter on the seasonings.
She used  traditional sauce rather than BBQ.
Both were fantastic, especially since I didn't have do a thing,
except enjoy the dinner!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Potato and Cabbage Soup

I never thought I would like green cabbage 
  (except in a wonderful bacon, cabbage and noodle bake); 
however, today I discovered cabbage recipe #2
that I like.  We had it for lunch and dinner tonight.

It is a simple Potato and Cabbage Soup
 made, of course without a recipe,
by hubby who was home today.
I was up in the attic working from home, so 
going  about my normal day, just not in the office.

He chopped potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage
added garlic, pickling spice and salt to taste.
Put them in a soup pot and
covered them with water.
To the water add
 J.B. Jamison's chicken flavored soup base
(He usually puts in more base than the jar calls for, 
tasting as he goes until he likes the flavor.)
Then boil until tender.

I ate mine on a plate, like corned beef and cabbage
without the corned beef -
which I also don't like.
I'm no fun on St Pat's.
He had his in a bowl like soup.
We both added a pat or two of butter.

The   L.B. Jamison's soup base really makes all the difference.
You can see their product through the link. 
We like all the flavors.

Good Stuff!

Linking to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop