Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Hay Time!

Haying season has finally arrived. We knew it was coming, and we knew it was late. What we didn't know is that the entire family would have, or be recuperating from strep throat.

Haying for us is a very serious affair.

The kids "offered" to ride over to the hay field so we weren't so cramped in the truck. How thoughtful of them.
See the buildings in the distance? That would be Jabez Farm!
I was the designated driver, Kody was the designated goof-ball, I mean hay "tosser", and Heather was the designated stacker.
My Mister thought it was more manly to bring the bales to the truck.
Back at our farm, the hay was stacked into the loft of the shop. My Mister decided to build a ramp to elevate the back of the truck high enough to make tossing the bales easier.

His sons told him that his contraption didn't look strong enough.

After a lot a moderate amount of respectful heckling by the audience, my college-educated Mister rethought his plans.

Perfect height!
The loft is usually off-limits to our younger kids, so stacking hay gave them plenty of time to explore.

My guess is that a herd of deer wandered up the ladder and couldn't figure out how to get back down, or, the boys found the den of the ever elusive jack-a-lope.

My money's on the jack-a-lope.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post is linked with The Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From the Farm to the Table...and the Archives

Since we're still recovering from the big "Summer-Strep-That-Only-My-Family-Would -Think-About-Adding-To-The-Sunshine-Epidemic", I'm going to re-share my Zucchini Bread recipe from last summer with you. Because I know you've got zucchini busting out the walls of your kitchen. And because this is really good.

Which is the only reason I plant zucchini!☺

Today was the beginning of summer for me.

Even though the sun has been shining since July 5 (I kid you not!), summer doesn't officially begin until we make our first run out to the local farming community, called Sauvie Island.

Located a mere 50 minutes from my house, Sauvie Island is an agricultural dream. From long-horn cattle, to fruits and vegetables, anything farm-related can be found there.

Except for soybeans.

And maybe cotton.

Really, let's not forget where I live!

Here's what I came home with today. (Oh boy, I hope my Mister doesn't read this!)

I picked up a flat of just-picked raspberries, some Walla Walla sweet onions, shell peas, French green beans, Rainier and Bing cherries, corn on the cob, zucchini that hadn't been forgotten about, and a bouquet of dried lavender.

It smelled nice and I couldn't resist.

I also couldn't resist the really cool woven bag. It was made in Ghana, Africa and I have wanted one for as long as I can remember, which was probably only since last week. Now I can pack my farmer's market goodies to the car in style.

How's that for justification?

For dinner tonight, we enjoyed the corn, stir-fried green beans with garlic and onions, and zucchini bread.
I'm sensing another visit to the farm in the very near future!

Okay, I know you want some zucchini bread too. And because I love you, I will share. But you have to bake it yourself because my love has limits. *wink*

~Zucchini Bread~
2 cups unbleached white flour
1-1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. sea salt
2-1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
2 Tb. lemon zest
3 farm fresh eggs
1 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
1-3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two loaf pans.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and zest. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the oil, sugar, and vanilla.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, then fold in the zucchini and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread rest for a few minutes, then remove from the pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


While I'm recuperating from a nasty case of strep throat, I thought I'd share some family photos I managed to snag before my daughter and granddaughters left.

Between the high fever and the Percoset, my brain is a little foggy.

I was always a fan of picture books anyway.☺

Great-Great Grandma M (almost 91)., Kelsie (23), Maddie (almost 3), and Emmie (4 months)
We took a 5 generation picture when Maddie was about 8 months old, and while all of us are still alive and kicking, one of us was out fishing. This is my father's mother and I'm behind the camera...any guesses as to who is missing? We got this picture in one shot.

Then there's my mother's side.

My mother blinked. Maddie was hungry. My grandmother was busy, smooching on the baby. Kelsie and I are used to large family photo shoots. Just keep smilin', just keep smilin', just keep smilin'...

Maddie, Kelsie, Great Grandma (64), Great-Great Grandma N. (83), Emmie, and me.

Maddie still wasn't happy, she wanted pizza. My mother didn't realize that the picture was being taken, which just happened to be the very moment that she was lecturing my grandmother to stop smooching  on the baby.

While Kelsie reassured Maddie that pizza was in her immediate future, my mother was plotting a way to rip the baby out of Great-Great Grandma's arms and I just kept right on smilin'.

Finally, Great-Great Grandma was able to compose herself long enough to look at the camera.

 Like any good 5 generation matriarch would do.

And yes, Maddie finally got her pizza.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Easy-Peasy Whole Food Meal Plan...

What a  tough day this turned out to be. After 5 glorious days with my daughter Kelsie, and 2 beautiful granddaughters, it has come to an end. I will treasure these last days and keep them close to my heart...and telephone...until next month when we'll be heading down that way for a vacation.

I will not forget the moment when Maddie made up a special song and serenaded us with her Minnie Mouse on helium voice.

"♫I love my mommy and my Nana...I sooooooooo happy...♫"

Yeah. That got me.

I will not forget how Emmie lit up every time I walked into the room.

Or that she seemed to be rather fond of suckling my chin.

I will not forget the tractor ride with 3 adults and 7 children in the blueberry fields. Or how blue everyone's mouths were even though there was a sign clearly stating to "pay before sampling".


I will treasure the babies' baths in the kitchen sink, even though Maddie really didn't fit, but loved it the most. Or that "Nana has the best books and movies, Mommy." Or that that little precious, almost 3 year old would rather share Nana's ice cream than have her very own bowl.

And I really won't forget how Maddie stated that she "wanted to live with Nana forever."

I'm currently on Kleenex box #2.

And don't even get me started on how much I'm going to miss spending time with my "when-did-she-grow-up?" daughter. I started missing her 5 minutes after she arrived!

What I will need therapy to forget however, is that on Day 5, we realized that we had unknowingly exposed them all to strep throat. (Who in the world has strep throat in the summer? Oh yeah, that would be us.) So far, we have 1 that tested positive for the illness. Hopefully, that will be the end of it. Unfortunately though, I'm not feeling too swell either.

I'm hoping it's just my broken heart.♥

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Popovers with turkey, raw local cheese, Garden salad w/ Ranch Dressing

Breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, cheese, red peppers, green onions, sour cream)
Grilled hamburgers on whole wheat buns, baked sweet potato fries

Scrambled eggs, toast, raw honey
Fettuccine (brown rice noodles), with fresh Pesto sauce, Garden Salad w/Ranch Dressing


Speltcakes, with homemade blueberry syrup

Ham, Cheese, and Chive Omelette's
Date night (Kids are on their own!)

Lunches this week will be leftovers, grilled hot dogs/buns, Yogurt Smoothies, and whatever muffins are tucked away in the freezer!

For more menu ideas, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Mondays.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fritters, Zucchini Style

The zucchini nightmare has begun.

Somewhere between the first zucchini of the season and the pulling of the spent plant in the fall, I have to try and come up with new and exciting ways to use this prolific summer squash.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I really don't like zucchini.

At all.

I was the child who would still be sitting at the dinner table, hours after dinner was actually over, lamenting over the fact that my parents couldn't possibly love me if they were forcing me to eat a food that caused violent retching and possible convulsions.

I'm fairly certain that zucchini played a role in my pre-pubescent acne epidemic, and was probably the cause of Mt. St. Helens erupting in 1980 too.

My parents also called me "dramatic", but I think I was just misunderstood. (Clearly.) See, it's not as if I didn't like green foods. I loved sour apple Jolly Ranchers. Green jello made me smile and a tall glass of lime Kool-aid made me downright swoon. In fact, I'm fairly certain that I consumed every color of the rainbow in the Kool-aid department, but put a plate of zucchini in front of me, and green became my nemesis. 

As an adult, I love to grow zucchini in the garden, but that's where it ends. Unless that veggie is hidden in layers of chocolate, and flour, I still have issues with it. Unfortunately for me, my family LOVES zucchini. And not just the green stuff either. They like every kind of squash out there and expect me to prepare it for them!

Will this nightmare ever end?


I have discovered Zucchini Fritters and life will never be the same.

Just please don't tell my children...I'm not done martyring myself yet.☺

~Zucchini Fritters~
~The Players~

4 cups grated zucchini
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. dried parsley ~or~ 2-3 Tb. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup flour (I used brown rice flour to make it gluten-free.)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the can!)
salt & pepper, to taste
expeller-pressed coconut oil for frying

Mix all ingredients except for the coconut oil in a large mixing bowl. In a heavy skillet, heat a few Tb. of coconut oil to medium hot. Drop batter into skillet to make 3-4 inch pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes on one side, or until edges turn brown.
Carefully turn the fritters over and cook another 2 minutes. Remove and lay on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Cover to keep warm. Continue to cook remaining batter, adding more coconut oil as needed.
Serve with sour cream.


I'm linking up with The Homestead Barn Hop~C'mon over!

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to Take the Ugly Out of the Paneling

Photo Credit

Wood paneling. Just looking at the above picture makes me feel like a Keebler elf living in an old-growth hemlock. Fortunately, my paneling issue is not as severe as the above photo. But for me, any paneling is too much.

Our first home was 800 square feet of nothing but paneling. In. every. room. To say I have panel issues would be grossly understated.

Thankfully, getting rid of paneling doesn't have to cost a fortune. It doesn't require a carpenter who specializes in sheetrock and can be completed in a 24-hour period.

How great is that!?!

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new painting project. Our living room had been a dark orange-red, and I got bored. Then I went shopping. To Lowe's. Enough said.

I chose Cinnamon Sugar for the new color and loved it! The only problem was that we had one wall that had dark brown paneling on it. That end of the living room seemed dark, even though it was the wall that housed the entertainment center. I was hopeful that we would eventually sheetrock that wall, but after 9 years, my patience ran out.

Not to mention the remodeling funds.

New color on the walls
To paint a paneled wall, you'll need an oil-based primer and latex paint. If the paneling is shiny, you might want to take the shine off with a fine grit sandpaper.  Thankfully, the shine on my paneling disappeared about the same time that dark wood paneling went out of style.

Looks shiny, but that's the brief moment of sunshine we had peeking in.

Tape off any areas that you want to keep the primer off of. Make sure you throw an old sheet or tarp down on floor as oil-based primer is difficult to clean off the carpet. I used Kiltz Low-Odor primer. It dries in an hour and won't kill too many brain cells in the process. Using a throw-away paint brush (don't spend the big bucks on a nice brush because it will not make it out of this project alive),carefully paint along the ceiling, corner, and floor edges of a small area. Generously coat the brush with primer to paint down the panel grooves. You can use a roller for the smooth portions if you want, or just fill in with the brush. Because the primer dries so quickly, only work a small area at a time.

Make sure you pull the furniture out far enough to give yourself plenty of room to work. I had to work around cables, phone lines, and various wires since my Mister was "conveniently" at work!

Primer is messy, so have a clean-up plan ready for the little "oopsie's". I'm currently sporting a rather flattering speckled pattern over the top half of my body.

Trust me. It's flattering.

After the primer has dried for 1 hour, it's time to paint. Latex paint adheres very well to oil-based primer. I'm sure there's some sort of scientific reason for this, but I'm on summer break and don't really care what that reason is. I just know that it works very well.☺

If using a roller for the paint, use one that has a thick nap so that it will cover the grooves too. I used a brush along the edges, but only had to use it to touch up a few grooved spots. You may need to apply a second coat of paint after the first dries, but that will depend on your paint and the color.

The grooves are not so noticeable when they are the same color as the rest of the wall!

Clean up is easy; throw away the brush, toss the sheet in the laundry, and sit back and enjoy your new wall or room and wonder why you didn't do this sooner!

Meal Plan for a Nana Kind of Week 7/18-7/23

In what could possibly be my favorite week of the year, I'm going to be cooking some kid-friendly, simple meals.

Forget about Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, and Groundhog Day, this is the week that I live for. That one week where the garden takes a backseat, the laundry can pile up and flow out of the baskets, the painting projects and lawn care are forgotten, and the rocking chair becomes my favorite piece of furniture in the house.

My eldest daughter, Kelsie, and her two beautiful babies are coming to visit!

This is my BLISS.

Madison, Nana, and baby Emily

Here's what's cookin'...

Granola (finishing a bathroom & wrapping up the living room painting project)
Salsa Chicken, brown rice, garden salad w/ Ranch dressing

~Tuesday~ (They're here!)
Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (still new), scrambled eggs
Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza (new), Homemade Cherry Ice Cream (new)

Macaroni & Cheese (new), Salmon Patties, Yogurt Fruit Salad (berries, pineapple, bananas, vanilla yogurt)

Blueberry Muffins, Yogurt Smoothies
Thai Cashew Chicken, brown rice, Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream


Out to dinner for our last night

Madison, almost 3, LOVES blueberries. Last summer during her visit, Poppa and Nana took her to the blueberry fields at Sauvie Island where we picked a wagon full of berries. Madison is smart. And she remembers everything.

Guess where we'll be heading this week?



For more meal planning ideas, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Mondays.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garden Murders...and Redemption

I am a cold-blooded murderer.

There. I've said it. It's out there. I have taken a life. That's not even accurate, as I've taken about 1,000 lives this week.

I'm talking about a plant that bleeds red.

Beets. (What did you think I meant?☺)

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to rip the tender little seedlings from the ground, but that is what must be done in order for the beets to grow their bulbous roots. I say this with "tongue in cheek", but the reality is that it is very hard for me to do this chore. Last year, I tried to transplant my thinnings, but the beets didn't appreciate my efforts. Of course, the crows did, but that's a touchy subject.

So what can you do with beet thinnings?

Here are a few ideas...

1. Make pesto. Substitute half the basil with beet greens and process as you normally would. This is surprisingly good!

2. Add beet greens to your salads. If you look at the packaged (boxed) mixed salad greens in the grocery stores, you'll see that beet greens are quite often included. And they look pretty while adding extra nutrition to your meal.

3. Saute or cream and serve over rice, polenta, or pasta.

4. Sneak in a handful into a strawberry/peach slushie. Use this recipe and substitute the greens for the spinach.

5. Freeze for winter use in soups.

This is the one that I decided to take advantage of. Freezing beet greens or any other green for that matter, is pretty simple. It does require blanching first to preserve color and quality, but it only takes minutes to do.

First, wash the thinned greens thoroughly. Tiny slugs tend to stick to the underside, so check well. Cut the bottom stems/roots off and feed to the chickens, goats, or a hormone-crazed pregnant milk cow. (Just sayin'.)

Bring a pot of water to boil. Fill another large bowl with cold water and add ice cubes.

When water is boiling, add a couple of handfuls of greens. Don't overcrowd, you want the greens to float freely.

Blanch for 30 seconds. Any longer than that and the greens start to get mushy. Mushy greens are what adults who refuse to eat greens remember from their childhoods.

We want to avoid future green haters.

Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, remove greens from boiling water and immediately place in ice water.

The next part can be done in 2 different ways. Either drain the leaves in a colander, or gently remove the leaves one at a time and place in a freezer container. The goal is to not allow the leaves to bunch up, and remove as much water as possible. I've tried both ways and the latter was the better for me.

Gently layer the leaves into the freezer container. Some leaves may need to be folded over, but that's okay.

Label the container and place in the freezer. Use within 6 months for best quality.

Now that the beets are thinned, it's time to plant the second crop of beets!


This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Appley-Apple Muffins

It may be summertime, but I'm feeling the need to give a quick vocabulary lesson today.

Fast food: Food that can be prepared quickly and easily and is sold in restaurants and snack bars as a quick meal or to be taken out...(Wikipedia dictionary)

Mom-is-busy-fix-it-yourself-food: Food that can be prepared quickly and easily and is found in the freezer section of the kitchen fridge and doesn't require anything more than a toaster oven and motivation to be eaten...(Mom)

During the summer, mornings are busy. Here's what a typical summer morning schedule might look like...

1. Enjoy the peace and quiet while sipping that first cup of morning coffee.
2. Open all of the windows and doors, but only after turning off the house alarm. (Very important!)
3. Pour second cup of coffee, set it down somewhere while I water the outdoor hanging flower baskets and pots.
4. Fold load of laundry that was brought in the night before.
5. Waste 15 minutes searching for the missing coffee cup that is surprisingly in the last place you would think to look.
6. Wake up kids.
7. Pour a third cup of coffee and head out to the garden to water.
8. Get side-tracked on the way to the garden by playing with the baby turkeys in the tractor, checking the bees, chatting with the cows, or listening to the Mister explain his latest technique on mole-trapping.
9. Walk down to the mailbox to retrieve the morning paper.
10. Hang load of laundry outside.
11. Close all of the windows and curtains; turn on the fans to keep the house cool.
12. Wake up kids...again.

This list doesn't include potty breaks from all the coffee, actually reading the paper, or answering any phone calls that are just a given. By the time I get around to actually fixing breakfast, it's almost lunch time and really, who wants to heat up the kitchen at that point?

In the spirit of keeping the kitchen and mom's mood cool, I'll keep the routine and load the freezer with muffins.

It's a lot safer.☺

~Appley-Apple Muffins~
(Makes 24)

~The Players~

3-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (also known as soft white wheat)
4 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. sea salt
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
2 large eggs
6 Tb. sucanat (Rapadura or dark brown sugar)
4 Tb. coconut oil
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and grated
1-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup currants (can use raisins)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease muffin tin. (I used coconut oil.) Do not use paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, sucanat, and coconut oil until smooth. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and currants.

Pour the apple mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter evenly into 24 muffin cups. Bake for 23 minutes, or until springy to the touch and lightly browned.

Cool on a wire rack. Freeze leftovers in gallon freezer bags when completely cooled.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum for the 2011-2012 School Year

'Tis the's that time again to pull out all of the curriculum catalogs that have been piling up on the counter since February! If you haven't ordered your curriculum for the upcoming school year, you'll want to do it soon as July and August are the busiest months for filling orders. Remember when ordering to have a list first as it's very easy to get carried away with all the amazing resources out there!

Nineteen years later, those catalog's still spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E for me. I must learn self control....

Here is our curriculum list for the 2011/2012 school year.

~Grade 4/5~

Easy Grammar 3/4 (older copy; now the books are separated by grade)

Copywork from Paths of Exploration

History~Paths of Exploration (continued from last year)

Science~Included in Paths of Exploration

Reading/Narration~Little House books
Childhood of Famous Americans: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sacajawea, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Robert E. Lee, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Pocahontas

Bible/Character~Included in Paths of Exploration

~Grade 8~

Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before

Colonial Life Unit Study

Sticky Situations 365 Devotions for Kids and Families
Home Ec/Life Skills

~Grade 11~

Story Starters: Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before

Foreign Language~Rosetta Stone Spanish (beginning in January 2012)

This list may seem excessive, but we do NOT do all of these at once! I do not schedule Art, P.E., or Music because I don't have to. Give a kid a place to run, brand new colored pencils & drawing pads, and beginning piano books picked up from garage sales, and the children find time to do these activities on their own.

They get the credits, and I get a few minutes to myself!☺

This list will be under its own tab at the top of my homepage. And if you have any questions about different curriculum's, feel free to ask!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Busy, Busy Week of...Rest?

Summer is tough. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but by May, we have to hit the ground running and can't seem to stop until October. While I'm ready for the rains to stop by March, I'm almost giddy when they start up again in October.

It means we can finally rest.

And by rest, I really mean, we can start on our indoor project list!

Now that the sunshine is spending more time in the sky than the rain clouds, the garden is responding properly. In fact, we just planted our second crop of lettuce and spinach. In another week, we'll replant the beets and Swiss chard, and shortly after that, we'll add turnips to the garden.
The green beans are starting to climb the hog panel "arbors".

Spinach, Blood Red Beets, and Bright Lights Swiss Chard

The first zucchini of've been warned!

During the 4th of July festivities, my Mister raced in his second cardboard boat regatta. Last year, his team took third. This year, they took first! They also got first place in the "Best of Show" category. The planners and builders of the boat did a fantastic job of taking an almost 30 foot Hawaiian catamaran, made entirely of cardboard, and turning into a lean mean rowing machine. Congratulations to the Peacehealth/Lowe's team!

The winning boat, "Wiki Wiki Emua".
During my blogging hiatus, I decided to do a little painting. The problem with deciding to do a "little" painting is that it is never "little". Paint one wall and it makes the other 3 look tattered. It also made the garage sale hutch I purchased 4 years ago look like junk. So I fixed it. And then some.

The living room used to be a rusty orange color, now it's "Cinnamon Sugar". Yum.

This garage sale hutch used to be a nondescript dark brown. Now it's a lovely "antique" color! And I did it!☺

We still have all 25 of our meat chicks. They seem to pretty happy in the coop, but we're getting ready to bust them out and make them earn their keep in a new chicken tractor.

Just as soon as we build it.☺

1 more week until the chicks get moved to grass~6 more weeks until butchering day.

We've had a coyote problem around here lately. Because of this predator, we lost Ethel (one of our beloved momma turkey's), and Elvis. If you haven't met Elvis, look at the banner at the top of my page. He was our favorite 'roo and will be missed. Currently, we are on coyote watch.

It's not looking good for the coyote.

Our 2 chocolate turkeys, Nestle and Hershey, are doing well. Of course, Nestle's real name is Nestle the Second, as the first one met an unfortunate end. They will join the remaining 4 poults in the tractor as soon as the heat lamp isn't needed anymore. It looks like we'll have 1 Tom and 5 hens.

Some would call Tom lucky.

And finally, an announcement. In exactly, give or take, 8 months, we will be the proud grandparents of...

Waltzing Matilda "Tilly-mook" is expecting!

a calf!

Tilly is finally "with calf" and we are ecstatic beyond words!

Maybe I should knit her something?

Hop on over to the Homestead Barn Hop for more farm fun!