Garden to table

I was debating on whether I should tell you about my garden or show you what we made from the garden produce. I decided to do both in some stages. Today was an absolutely beautiful day outside. It was not too hot, but the sun was shining the entire day, and the garden dried out a bit. I don’t believe it will fully dry out anymore this fall because of the large plants that have taken over and shade almost every square inch of the place. As much as I enjoy my flowers, I will never let them have free reigns in my vegetable garden ever again. Three years ago when the hollyhocks tried to invade I was smart enough to say no. This year when it was the cosmos, I was a push over. You can see by the picture to the left what that has meant to my beans and beets. They have also overrun the onions, not to mention the poor peppers and even some of the tomatoes and one of the zucchini plants. At least James was tough enough to pull every cosmos plant from the north side of the carrots and so they alone have survived to have one entire side exposed to light of day.

I also allowed just seven sunflowers to grow. One is like the giant’s beanstalk. I swear it is nearly 12 feet tall. The view here is supposed to give you an idea. The post on the fence is about 4′ 6″ and those cosmos around it are as tall as I am which is 5′ 6″. The fence in the front has a few peas left on it. They are still producing though not all that many. I believe we used them in a stir fry one time and had some steamed with carrots another. Mostly Paulina and I have been eating them in passing when we are outside. I planted twice and both times only about one-fourth of them came up. At one point I suspected the local pheasants from behind the dike were coming in for a midnight snack before the poor little seeds could sprout. Mostly this garden is overrun with weeds and flower plants. I guess that is what happens when you are out of the area for six days and then the rain hits and you can’t get into the garden for over two weeks. Now it is so far gone that I don’t even want to try. The positive note is that when it frosts the flowers will protect the other plants, at least I hope.

Cucumbers on the fence

potatoes and beans, fried

The cucumbers are starting to fill in the fence line and for the past two nights we have had slices in vinegar and cream for our salad at supper. Tonight I was able to peel a few potatoes that Paulina dug up earlier this week, and with the handful of beans that I picked today, we had them both fried in butter for supper. I just love that for a meal. Add the chicken breasts that Paulina grilled and we were set with a great meal. The only thing better is when you add a fresh beat in that pan with the potatoes and the beets, then it has a nice sweet taste to it. Of course we are not counting calories or thinking of cholesterol with this meal. We also made some thumbprint cookies with chokecherry jelly for desert, but I will save that for the next post. Happy Gardening to you!!

De-clutter advice

I hope you all see this post for what it is worth without being offended. I have been putting out a few posts here and there about de-cluttering and getting organized in my house. I have also spent lots of time on some “sites” to see what others have to say about clutter and how to eliminate it, and they mostly include list after list of what to eliminate. May I just say that people who keep most of the items on those lists are not looking to eliminate clutter because if they keep those items they don’t really have a clutter problem, they have a hoarding problem and that is a completely different issue. There I have put out my feelings on this and so after one little explanation, I will give you my list.

Here is the thing, I keep things mostly because I am anti-filling up the land fills. I want things to be thrown away only when they have completely reached the end of the road of use. I am all about repurposing items and recycling. I just wish that it was financially possible for us to have a recycling drop off in our area. Because we are such a small population it is more costly to collect and transport items to a center than it is to purchase more land for a land-fill, and in our are that means taking land out of agricultural production, which means less area to grow food, so you figure out what that really means.

Styrofoam

I have come to the conclusion the only real way to de-clutter is not to buy it in the first place, which is a bad idea for the economy and capitalism, but that is a completely different post. Now with that as background material, here is my “list” of what to please leave off any future lists of 25, 50, 60 80, 100 things to throw away to get rid of clutter. I already know to toss these items and I don’t want to be insulted because I see them on your list. So here is my list of 10.

 

  1. The banana peels from breakfast. (compost pile–then on the garden)
  2. Empty juice containers (recycle)
  3. Cardboard boxes (ok so I do need to break mine down and recycle them)
  4. Broken dishes (like really do you put that on there–of course I have been saving some to break up for a mosaic table top, but those are old ceramic pieces)
  5. Styrofoam insides of flower arrangements (Yes, I forgot where I put them, they are in the garbage now)
  6. Used gift wrap (I swear I threw it away this summer)
  7. Plastic bags from stores (I reuse them for small garbage bags, and I promise to take back the rest and recycle them in the future)
  8. Old food in the fridge or pantry (our rule has always been when it smells or the mold covers the entire top, it goes out, and not to the stray cats either because here we just end up with skunks and raccoons in the yard.)
  9. Toilet paper rolls (I confess there was a time when I used them as candle molds, or fire starters in the fire pit, but currently they are straight in the garbage, they are cardboard and will break down at some point–I need to find the company that figured out how to make the rolls without the tube.)
  10. And finally, last but not least or best is the: Dried up pens. (I have a theory that pens and pencils multiply when we leave the room, and though I don’t ever toss one that is still functional, I am quick to eliminate the dried up ones.)

Hopefully this has come off in the way I intended. Perhaps I will work on a serious list of what I keep to recycle and repurpose and what we actually do with those items. Earlier this year, we filled our van and drove to the place where Jessica lives and dropped the items at the recycling center there. It was a good feeling to know that what we were removing from our space was going to be remade into something useful and not just dumped into a landfill. Mostly I am hoping manufacturers begin to figure out ways to reduce the amount of garbage that comes with each product. I know that a good part of our packaging is there as a safety factor, but we need more of a happy medium at this time.

What do you do to help out the environment???

Rain clouds

Clouds to the south over the trees.

Looking north

I took these pictures a few days ago, but the sky isn’t much different tonight. I went to check the garden (found a cucumber) and James went to dump the kitchen compost container, and we both barely made it into the house before the rain began to smatter against the windows. It was not much rain this evening, but enough to keep the pool closed. Paulina will not be getting much of a final check at this rate. Either no children come, or the weather sets in and they have to leave after an hour or two this whole week. It sounds like next week will pretty much be the end because the other guards are leaving to return to school, and they really have not had anyone there. It was plenty hot and busy in June, so I guess that is just how this summer is going.

It is good that we are getting this rain now, at least some of the crops will be salvaged, and perhaps there will be a little moisture going into the ground for hope of something better next spring. James talked to his brothers and it sounds like the row crops will be a little less than a great crop, but at least it is better than if the heat would have continues. Also, I am hopeful that this means the pastures will be ok. Half of what we own is pasture land, and I am always concerned for how that holds up.

James and I were in Bismarck today to pick up my aunt from the airport as she came back from Phoenix. She had been there since the middle of July or so. It was just a little less than a month, and I think time for her to get home. Ha!! I don’t know how many times this past week, I wanted to pick up the phone and ask her to come over for coffee or just sit on the porch, and then I remembered she wasn’t here yet.

One of the best things about the trip to Bismarck was that we really didn’t have much time to shop, so it was plan what we needed and get to it. I liked the idea because not buying is my new best way to eliminate clutter. We did purchase a few needed items, and then we browsed the canning area where I picked up some lids and both powdered and liquid pectin for making jelly. I need to get at those choke cherries tomorrow afternoon, no excuses. I also bought a larger embroidery hoop to do those towels that I stamped yesterday. I put a new bulb in the light beside my rocking chair, now I have no excuse for not doing those towels as I watch television at night. Hmmmm.

I learned that I won’t need to start my long-term substitute job on the first day of school because they are going to have the students stay with the regular classroom teachers on the first week until they get the schedules all in place. I will be starting on the last Monday in August and stay until the teacher is back. Ya!! I enjoy that room and am looking forward to being there. I know most of the students and the other teachers, and it is one of those really small schools that just feels like home.

Well, enough for tonight. I am supposed to be finishing my message, and I just can’t get to it even though I pretty well know what I want to say. These are the times, I would love to use note cards and a few key words and just talk. I am always afraid to do that because I might never get to the point and end it. I already carry on too long for some people in the audience (mostly family, Ha ha!!). Catch you later.

National S’mores Day

Fire pit

Full moon

This morning on the Today Show, I learned that it is National S’mores Day. Hurrah!! I think. I am now wondering if it is also National Fire Pit night because to celebrate and to have S’mores you certainly need a fire pit or a bonfire or something with fire. Of course the news show this morning showed lots of ways to eat the graham cracker/chocolate/melted marshmallow mess in all sorts of ways including in your kitchen with the marshmallows melted over candles. I would not recommend that unless you have the fire department and your insurance on speed dial, and then I might not confess what caused the trouble. They also showed examples of how some fancy restaurants are now creating desserts with those flavors in mind.

Well here in our town just south of the North Dakota/South Dakota border we tend to eat them outside huddled around a fir pit of some sort. We sit on lawn chairs, drink pop (no soda around here) or coffee or even some have a beer now and then. We put our marshmallows on long forks with wooden handles that we bought at some large department store, and we compare our preferred methods of cooking them. Some of us let the buggers start on fire and peel off the charcoal and eat the goo. Others toast it carefully until it is just a bubbly brown, and a few throw the burned up mess in the fire and start over. We watch the moon rise over the dike and comment on the breeze that often blows the smoke in our face. We notice things like the bats flying overhead eating up the mosquitos as they go. We listen for the sound of the owls hooting in the dusk, and we complain about the cars and pickup trucks that speed past the intersection with mufflers that would have gotten them pulled over in the middle 1970’s when we were teenagers.

That is life in our small town. Some days I want to run away to a bigger city to live close to the grandchildren. Sometimes I want to blare the Simon and Garfunkel song: “Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town” out the window. And sometimes I want to ask the people who appoint themselves in charge of this and that exactly from where do they get their ideas. And I realize that if you want to win the war you have to be very strategic about picking your battles. I believe I have chosen mine, now I just need to get to work on it, and when I am finished, I will share it with you here, but until that time, I will keep it to myself, and just sit in my yard, especially today on National Day of celebrating S’Mores, and I will enjoy what is right here in front of me at this time. Enjoy your day!!

Happy Anniversary???

So today is our 35th wedding anniversary. It is a much cooler and far more pleasant day today than it was on that day. I swear it was the hottest day of the year. We got out of the car at the church and it felt like we walked into a furnace. Well, I am not sure if it was that bad, but it sounds good. I really wasn’t all that hot, but the photographer kept going off about how the men in tux’s needed a fan going. Having the fan going caused the candles to burn faster and since they were purple and not a standard color they were not dripless and so I am thinking that there just might be some residue of that wax left in the carpet on that stage. Good grief!!

I really was not intending to take any trips down memory lane today. I brought it up because from the way the day is going, I am not sure how many more anniversaries there will be. Yesterday we went to a gathering for James’ oldest sister and her husband as they were celebrating their 50th anniversary, which technically is a bit later this month. This morning James was all out of sorts to the fact that Paulina asked if he had slept well last night. We finally dug out of him that he wanted to get out and do something, as in mow the lawn, but it was damp and foggy outside and he couldn’t get started at 6 a.m. as he would have liked. (Not sure if that was a serious comment or a dry joke.) He is mowing now at 2 p.m.

Cutting in the tree

So in the meantime, he decided the tree branch that has been hanging by a bit of bark way up near the top of the tree just must come down today. He called the local electrician/plumber/appliance salesman and begged to use his boom truck. I had told him to lay off because he does not rent out that truck for all sorts of reasons, but somehow James always gets his way. Well I started off watching this process then quit then finally stepped back in to call it off. Even after he had cleared several branches to get to the one he needed to cut, he continued to diddle around up in the air with a chain saw. As soon as I heard a break I gave a yell to let him know to quit. It went something like, “as long as you haven’t killed yourself yet, you should quit, it is enough.” Myron had been teasing him if he wanted the tree shaped like a bear or a porpoise. I think we were all ready for him to get down. The picture to the right shows him on the broken branch. It was damaged in December in the ice storm and the poor thing has been hanging ever since. It took three cuts to get it out of where it was wedged in.

Now that he is on the mower, I waited for him to mow under the clothes line so I could hang out the one small basket of items that should not go in the dryer. I had said I would not do laundry and hang it out today just to give my back and hip a break. Well I waited and waited and finally I went outside and stood on the other part of the lawn so he would have to mow under the clothes line. He stopped and said I should move because he will use the hand mower there not the rider. Why is it that some days you just want to beat them?

Well he did take the broken branches to the dump and he cut up some of the trunks. Perhaps it would be a good night for a fire pit. Maybe if we do that some of the bugs will leave the yard. Some time we will be able to do that with the grand kids here and they can eat hot dogs and marshmallows straight off the sticks cooked over the fire and they too will have great memories of being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We were hoping to do that this weekend but we were all too tired and it was a little too wet. That’s all for now, catch you later with more on the sale and the birthday.

Sorting, washing, organizing…

We spent today sorting many of the boxes that we dug out of the closet and up from the basement. We also dug out more boxes from almost every corner of the house. Sadly we didn’t completely clean any of those corners. I keep hoping for some time yet this summer and into the fall. At least the closet looks better, and it feels so much bigger. James and I sort of agree that it is because of all those craft boxes that have been removed, and also because of the new shoe shelf, which allowed for us to toss out that ugly broken shoe stand. Yipee, it was nothing by a pain that I tripped over and it scratched up the floor.

Sweatshirts drying on the line.

So, the bedroom looked pretty cluttered yet last night. We drug most of the boxes of clothes downstairs, and I am about 3/4 of the way through washing everything. Most of it will end up on the rummage sale. I have picked a few things to put away for another day, about four items to keep, and an arm load of old t-shirt material items to add to the stack slated to be cut into t-shirt yarn for to crochet rugs. I also have a pile of jeans to be cut into quilt squares. Like I said, I am hoping to get to some of these projects this fall. If I have to do it in the evenings, I am thinking that I will need to invest in a decent light.

The best part of it all is that I was able to find homes for the sheets in the towel closets in the two bathrooms upstairs. We also fit the boxes of pictures into the computer room for now, and James went through a box of old pay stubs and bills, and was able to toss everything except one envelope of information about the concrete in front of our house. He put that in with files of other house upgrades. I also threw away some boxes, but still need to figure out how to let go of those balloons. I mean really, I think I have every myelin balloon that was ever given to anyone in this family. In 35 years, that is a lot of balloons.

Our real goal this summer was to get the basement emptied of some of the junk there, so we can actually use it as livable space. As it was we took about five boxes up stairs from there. Paulina went through her suitcase of Bratz dolls and a couple of other containers and organized things better. I think there was even some garbage generated in the sorting. In going through containers, she found some of the pieces for certain of her dolls, so they can now be stored away for when she ever has her own place.

Workbench that may become a plant holder, or a seat, not sure yet.

She has identified a few of the old pieces of furniture that she is willing to take to college. She and her friend, Katie, will be living in a campus apartment this year, and so they have room and need for more than just their clothes. They won’t need a fridge, but I can send some dishes and baking supplies, which should help clear out some of the kitchen areas, too. Yaaaa!!! All these things go with the idea that they are not to come back. Haha, as if that idea has worked well in the past. I also identified a few pieces that I would like to see removed from the house and not brought back inside. One of them ended up on the porch for now, not sure if it is going up for sale in the near future, or just staying outside.

Plant mess

Last evening as we were working in the house there was a short rainstorm outside. When the wind came up, we just ignored it, which is not something we ever do. When I went downstairs to put a box on the dining room table, I peeked out to the porch from the living room and found a slight disaster. The plants that had been sitting on the ledge and the little table were on the floor and some of them were completely out of their pots. I did the best I could to stand them up and put them back together, but I am afraid the little aloe vera plants will not survive.

Tent is doing well!

After my fiasco with the plants,  I was soaked and needed to change. By that time James realized the wind had picked up, and he ran out to see if the tent needed to be taken down, then he was soaked. He had put it up in the morning to see if it was still usable. We have had that thing since 1992 when we were chaperons for the Senior Class trip that was a canoe/camping trip in Minnesota. That was the only time we ever went camping away from home. The only other times we used that tent was with track meets. It was along at the 1997 State Meet in Minot and Jessica, Victoria, Paulina and Sarah Wiley stayed in there through the whole meet. We were really afraid that Paulina would try to get out and run around (she was only 2) but they must have had enough toys along to keep themselves occupied. It was great.

Well, James decided not to chance taking it down during the storm thinking it would do more harm than good. This morning when he went out to check on it, there were only a few damp spots in it. Apparently all the years packed away in the basement have not done it any harm. Hope the kids have fun playing in it this weekend. James is thinking that Jaxon might enjoy camping out with grandpa on Friday night. We shall see how long that lasts. I wonder how high they would jump if someone snuck outside and tried to scare them????

 

Garden progress: fruit trees

Ripe choke cherries

Lots of choke cherries

The other day when I was out in the garden, I took a walk around the yard and checked on the trees. I found that the chokecherry trees are producing this year and the birds have not eaten all of them off yet. This morning James picked the tree that is fully ripe, hopefully we will get to the others before the birds do.

 

apples

plums

The apple tree has lots of apples, unusual to have two years in a row of good produce around here. The apples are pretty small this year, and I suppose that is because it was so dry early on. I am not sure if that really makes a difference, but it seems to be this year because the plums are also really small. The good news about the plums is that so far we have not seen any of the webs indicating that little worm in the fruit. I would appreciate getting enough of a crop to make some jelly. The hard part will be that they won’t ripen until after school starts and I am in the middle of that long-term substituting situation. Well it will be good to be busy and to be paid.

Not much else to mention here. We had our first meal from the garden today. I made some stir fry that included the peas that were picked a few days ago. We also put half of a zucchini into it, and James and Paulina ate that part of the stir fry. I dislike how soft and soggy zucchini gets when cooked in stir-fry. I ate the other half of the zucchini grilled with Cajun spice on it, oh yummy!! We had fresh peaches and fresh strawberries for dessert. I don’t think that I will need to nibble on chips this evening, hurrah!! Today is my last day of lounging around. Tomorrow starts my serious effort to drop 5-10 pounds before I have to squeeze into dress clothes five days a week. Yikes this could be a major challenge. Hope you are enjoying the rest of the summer.

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