Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Catch Up

It's February, it's cold. The kids are home again for a snow/ice day (the second or third this school year). I thought I'd sit down and write a catch up post since I haven't been posting regularly.

I am dreaming of spring. I'm sure you are too! I am so tired of being chilled, even in the house. I broke down and bought a king sized heating blanket. Sean and I wrap up with it on the couch in the evenings and watch Netflix. It sure makes the winter bearable. So do these beautiful Valentine flowers that my sweetie got me.


My sculpting business is going well. I used to have to sell on eBay just to attract customers for custom sculptures but the word is out and I have a steady flow of customers just through word of mouth. I feel very blessed. I did take a couple of weeks off after Christmas to give the old hands a break. We went and saw the new Star Wars movie and as soon as I got home I got the bug to sculpt one of the cute creatures. Here is a little Porg.


Wesley has had a big month. One of the major school projects is called The Wax Museum. They get to choose a famous person and research that person. Then they dress like the character and resite a memorized speech when someone pushes the "button" on their hand. The whole school and parents are invited to this event. It was well done and all the kids really did a great job. Here is Wesley as Harry Houdini.




He is also doing really well in karate. He started last fall and has been learning his moves. He got his first strip two weeks ago, which is a big deal! We are very proud of him.


Wesley started an instrument this year in 5th grade. My parents were nice enough to let him use my old saxophone from when I was in middle school. It's still in good shape and he's able to play well with it. We are planning on having some pads replaced this summer so he can go into middle school with an instrument in tip top shape.  


The dogs got a nice new dog bed for Christmas and they all like to pile into it (except Winston). Chance will be turning 15 years old this spring and is pretty spry still. The addition of the two young boston terriers seemed to have brought out his inner puppy. We hope to have him around for at least a little while longer.



The first crop of lettuce in the tower garden has has come to an end and the second round is already growing. The instructions say that flowering crops are not recommended for inside growing. I figured this was due to the lack of pollinators (bees & butterflies). I'm always up for a challenge so I planted eight cucumber plants in the base of the tower. Here we are two months into growing and there must be 80 flowers. I was clueless as to how to hand pollinate so I went to YouTube and learned all about male and female cucumber  flowers. It was pretty easy to tell the female flowers after watching a video. They have a tiny little cucumber under the flower and if it gets pollinated then the cucumber continues to grow bigger. If unpollinated it dries up and falls off. The flowers are open for about 24 hours so once a day I go over there with my little paint brush and hunt for the female flowers. There are usually about 2-4 a day to pollinate, it takes less than a minute. Now I've got 20+ cucumbers growing and am looking forward to fresh cucumbers soon. Have I mentioned how much I like the tower garden?



A couple of weeks ago we finally got some beautiful weather and we all got to get outside and enjoy some sun at the park. It was a welcome change. Come on spring!


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Basil

The Tower Garden has been planted for over a month now and is growing like crazy. The lettuce is nearly at its end and new seeds have been started to replace them this week. The cucumbers are all full of flowers and baby cucumbers which is super exciting (yeah my life is pretty dull). When you grow flowering plants that need pollination indoors you don't have all the bees, moths and butterflies that normally do the pollination for you. So each morning I get up and take my small paint brush and brush the male flowers and then brush the female flowers. I had to watch a YouTube video showing me the difference between the two flowers but now have the hang of it. I'm excited to have fresh cucumbers to eat.

The four little chambers of basil I planted produced a ton of basil leaves. Far more than I use fresh in my cooking so I was trying to figure out ways to preserve the crop so it didn't go to waste. It dawned on me that I have a dehydrator sitting unused in the cabinet so, once again, I went to YouTube to learn how to dehydrate basil. It looked simple enough, put the basil leaves on the dehydrator trays and let it run at the lowest heat (95 degrees) for 12-24 hours.


I filled all 6 trays, cramming all the leaves in there. Twelve hours went by and they were just limp little leaves. So I left it going over night, the next morning still limp leaves. That next evening I checked it and it was still the same, limp not crispy. At this point it had been 36 hours and I was about to give up. I got online and found a site that said to just pop it in an over at the lowest temperature (which on ours is 170 degrees). I put them all on a cookie sheet and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes. They came out nice and crispy and beautifully green. I crunched all of them up and put them in an empty spice container. This is what a big mixing bowl of fresh basil produced.


I do have a newfound respect for the price of organic spices. :)

Monday, January 29, 2018

El Sicky

Last week was a long week. Friday morning Wesley looked a bit off. It seemed to come out of no where as he was fine eating his breakfast and then when we were leaving for school he looked tired and said his head hurt. I should have kept him home in retrospect but sent him anyway. The school called at 2 to say he had a fever, so I went and picked him up. The school nurse said to go have him swabbed for strep throat as it was going around the school. He was swabbed for both strep and for the flu and the test came back positive for Influenza A.


Since it was caught early the nurse practitioner prescribed him Tamaflu. I was a little uneasy about the Tamaflu but still went and had it filled at the pharmacy. $116 later I was home with a packet of pills. Then I remembered Wesley had never taken pills before. Yep, there was no way he was going to swallow pills. So we just decided to skip the Tamaflu.

He was pretty miserable for two days, Saturday and Sunday. Then Monday morning he comes bounding down the stairs declaring he feels great. No fever, no congestion, nothing. We watched movies Monday and Tuesday. Congestion started up Tuesday night which produced gallons of yuck but for the most part it was extremely mild in the world of flu symptoms. I'm very grateful. Plus nobody else in the house got it. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fudge


The kids and I were getting into my car and my drivers door handle just fell off. I let out some choice words which consisted of "Oh FUDGE!" (my kid appropriate F word). Both kids let out an audible gasp and looked at each other with their mouths open. I looked at them incredulously and asked why the gasp, stating that I didn't say the "F" word I just said fudge. Greta looked at me and in her quite little voice said "I thought fudge WAS the F word".

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tower Garden

I've become pretty obsessed with tower gardens. What is a tower garden you ask? Well, it's a hydroponic tower that circulates water around while growing tasty vegetables. I was intrigued the first time I saw the gardens at our church (they have three) and then the gal that tends to them asked me to help. I was hooked. Once a week we would meet at the church and add water, plant seeds or harvest goodies. It was fun!

I started researching them and after running the numbers decided we needed one at the house. It will take about a year of growing my own greens (and not buying them from the grocery store) to pay for the unit. It is a large investment up front ($525 for the unit plus $250 for the grow lights) but growing your own food is so satisfying.

Right before Thanksgiving we arrived home to a giant pile of boxes on the porch.


It was like Christmas! That is all the components to the tower garden including the base, LED lighting, extension unit, minerals and rock wool.

Thanksgiving day my parents were over and helped us put it together. It went together a lot quicker than we all thought it would. There isn't much to it.




 Here is the unit built but without the lighting. I did opt for the extension which makes it two rows taller (an extra $70). I waited to order mine until the new LED lighting was released. I didn't expect the lighting to be so bright! It was blinding! Should grow some great food.




We pushed it over where we wanted it and ordered a hot water heater pan to put it in (in case of drips or leakages). I filled it up and added the mineral blend and let it run for a week. I started seeds after a week. I started them in their own rock wool in a tray and once they were coming up I popped them into their own little chamber on the tower. I planted the top two rows with kale, then a row of romaine, a row of basil, two rows of black seeded lettuce and the bottom row is cucumbers.



It's been growing for a month now and I've harvested lettuce for the first time this weekend. I made lettuce wraps and used these big old lettuce leaves for the wrap. Growing food in your own home in the middle of winter is very cool. I really love it!





Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Well another great Christmas over and done and I wouldn't change a thing. My parents were here along with my sister and her family. It was nice to have a full house for the Holidays.

We did all of the traditional things like make sugar cookies:



Our elf, Christopher, came for a visit. He likes to hide every morning in a new place. This was our favorite hiding place. He seemed to be missing Santa Claus there at the end.



All of the kids had a great Christmas morning unwrapping their treasures. Greta finally got a Hatchimal which she is super excited about. It plays all sorts of games and even mimics you as you talk. We had a great time watching it hatch.




Wesley was so excited to get a video camera as he wants to start making YouTube videos. He's been shooting video and is busy reading all about techniques.


He and the nephews were also excited to get some Nerf guns. The new Nerf Rival guns shoot little foam balls that are (in my opinion) more fun. The boys and Grandpa went out and had a Nerf battle.



Even the dogs got to unwrap some new toys. Winston loved his new ball he even went to sleep with it in his mouth.


The other 3 all enjoying the new dog bed.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Radio Show

A lady at church approached me and asked if Wesley and I would like to be in the radio show they are putting on for the community. I, being an age that had never seen or heard a radio show, had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that it was like a play but instead of acting we stood at old time square microphones and read our lines from a script. It didn't seem very difficult so I said yes.

It must be said that I'm not a public speaker. I don't like reading in front of people. I have a box and I don't step outside of it very often but I decided a little change is good. Plus I knew Wesley would have fun with it and it would be a memorable thing to do together with him. And it was!

The play was "It's a Wonderful Life" and we all dressed in 1940's clothes and hair styles. I had to look up hairstyles on YouTube and learn how to roll my hair. It was a learning experience. My parents came to see the show and taste all the food. I'm thrilled they came!

 Here's to stepping outside your box!








Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mayor for the Day

What an exciting day Miss Greta had! There was a coloring contest in the elementary school for kindergarten through second grade. The entries were collected and the mayor had to pick her favorite. The winner this year was Greta! As a prize she got to ride with the mayor and Santa in the Christmas parade and throw out candy. She also won $25 and a plaque. She was so excited!





She anxiously took her money to Build-a-Bear (.com) and ordered a reindeer stuffed animal with her $25. Here is her winning picture. Good job Greta!


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving

We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving at home with my parents. You wouldn't know that by the amount of food that was on the table! Snow crab made another appearance this year. We made a small turkey breast and four pounds of snow crab for the omnivores and I made several plant based dishes for the non-omnivore.




My parents brought over Just Dance for the WiiU and everyone danced! It was great. I have a video of my mother dancing but she'd kill me if I posted it. I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!