Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soil Sifter

Thanks to a TERRIBLE day at work, I got home late and consequently didn't get any ivy ripped out. But, I did get my soil sifter made. It's framed out and the wire mesh is attached. I forgot to get a picture, sorry, but I'll try later.

This will hopefully help sift through the nearly ready compost to get the usable stuff and to get rid of all the rocks in the area that will soon be my gardens. I can't wait!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Menu Monday

Again, last week's meal plan was more of a starting point, not followed closely :) But luckily the weather was crappy this weekend, so I got to spend some time inside, working on the kitchen mostly. I made bread, roasted a chicken for the week, made blueberry muffins, cleaned (a bunch!) and a bit more that I don't really remember. We also got to grill out twice! It wasn't anywhere near warm enough to eat outside, and we did get rained and snowed on a bit yesterday, but it was completely worth it!

Unfortunately, that means I didn't get anything done outside. According to my planting schedule, I'm supposed to have my beans in the ground this weekend. Not gonna happen. Also, my parents are coming this weekend to help me build my raised beds. I don't even have half of the ivy gone, let alone the stones cleaned out of the dirt. I haven't finished building my soil sifter (though I did buy nails, woohoo, I can at least get that done). I'm just hoping and praying the weather this week will be on my side.

I also haven't really thought about my menu much. I'm coming up with it here on the spot at work, which is probably why I keep deviating :) I also discovered this weekend that I need to start planning for weekend lunches too. Wow, this post really makes me seem behind, how depressing. Anyway, on with the menu.

Monday - pot roast, potatoes and carrots (already in the crock pot)
Tuesday - chicken tacos
Wednesday - pork chops
Thursday - spaghetti
Friday - at Nathan & Kira's
Saturday - ribs, etc. (family over for my birthday!)
Sunday - pizza

Check out more menu plans at www.orgjunkie.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quick shopping trip

Today I went to the dentist. I don't mind the dentist at all, so it wasn't a big deal, except that I completely forgot to pack my lunch. (And there is now a small cut in my mouth, the kind that really annoys you, and it's right where my tongue rubs the roof of my mouth, grr...) This resulted in me having to go out and get lunch.

I decided to stop at Tractor Supply Company on my way. Though they didn't have vermiculite (I still can't find it!), I was able to get some wire cloth to make a soil sifter this evening. I have a lot of great compost ready to go and a bunch of soil from under the ivy that was growing on the pavement, but both need to be sifted out before use. I also plan on making a few more stops before heading home tonight to get a wheelbarrow, look for vermiculite and pick up a few things for inside the house.

Last night I did get outside to work, but didn't get a lot done, so hopefully I can do more tonight too. I don't know why, but for some reason I'm struggling with ripping out the ivy. Not that it's hard to do, it's actually much easier than I anticipated, but I find myself not wanting to do it. So I'm careful to leave some. I don't want it gone entirely, just mostly. This makes what could be a fairly quick job with the electric trimmers, very tedious and time consuming. Oh well. I can't plant anything outside yet anyway, so I guess I have a little time.

I'll try and get pictures of my progress tonight, as well as some seedling updates! I got my sweet peppers and some basil in this weekend and everything else has sprouts by now. So exciting!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Adventures in Drying Clothing

Last night, finally, I got the clothes line hung in the upstairs bathroom. A while ago I took out the shower doors from our upstairs bathroom. It's a teeny, tiny little room and the shower mechanism doesn't work. It hasn't since we moved it. It's on our grand list of things to do, but it needs a serious remodel (ugly pink everywhere, and did I mention it's tiny!), which will be far off in the future. For now, it's useful as a toilet upstairs and we occasionally brush our teeth or wash our faces up there. And, until I removed the doors, I would hang clothes on hangers from the cross bar to dry.

With the door gone, however, I had nothing. I made things a little difficult :) So after having the hooks and the line, I finally mounted it all last night. Woohoo! It's not exactly what I had envisioned, but it will work for now. Total project cost was about $5 and about 20 minutes.

Something about it being light outside, and not frigid cold, seems to make it a lot easier to be really productive after I get home from work!

Adventures in Demolition

Sunday I finally finished ripping out whatever that ivy-covered lattice covered structure was sitting in our yard. I did most of it myself and it was a very good experience. It felt empowering to be outside again and doing something constructive (or destructive as the case may be). I did need to ask Hubby for help though. The posts were buried about 4.5 feet in the ground, 4 4x4's and 2 2x4's which all ended up being 12 feet long. The physics of me pulling them out of the ground just wasn't on my side. I got all but two of the 2x4's, and I'm still a little sore. But God did it feel good!

With the structure gone, now we have an open area covered in ivy. Most of the exposed ivy is leafless as it used to be covered by structure, other ivy that we've already ripped out or the bushes that were there. So we've decided to rip most of it out as well. We'll leave the stuff up that's growing over the wall, but I think most of the ground cover is coming up. I'm sure it will come back again in no time :)

Also, Hubby and I discussed things and I think this is going to be the site for my garden plots this spring. This area gets more sunshine and the ground under the ivy is pretty nice. There are a few rocks and stones, but nothing compared to the rock garden which was my first pick. The only thing I'm worried about now is the critters, the other area was a lot more sheltered than this, which is WIDE OPEN. I also don't want car exhaust blown directly onto the gardens. People usually don't park in the three end spots, only visitors, and most visitors pull in, so I guess it's okay. I'll make it work. Hubby's on board with it so it will be much easier and if it doesn't go well, I'll move them next year!

After disassembling the structure, I now have a lovely pile of wood. Good sturdy wood! With this I am going to build a shelter for our garbage can and recycle bins. No more raining on my cardboard and no more dripping recycle bin juice on my leg in the morning! Woohoo! I'm not sure about the rest of it, but I'm sure we'll find something good for it. I don't really want to use it for the garden because I'm pretty sure it was treated wood...we'll see.

If all goes well and the rain stops be the time I get home tonight, I hope to be ripping out more ivy this even to prepare the area for gardening. Yeah!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Monday

For some reason, as the weather gets better, it's getting harder and harder for me to stay organized inside the house. However, I keep trying.

Monday - tacos
Tuesday - homemade chicken nuggets, oven fried potatoes and possibly a veggie of sorts...
Wednesday - pot roast
Thursday - pork chops, fried potatoes and, again, a possible veggie
Friday - chicken, potatoes and asparagus on the grill or, if it's raining, oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes and asparagus
Saturday - ribs and whatever Hubby makes, his day
Sunday - homemade pizza

I haven't gone to the grocery yet this week, which is why I don't know much about the veggies. And, if I don't make it tomorrow at lunch, we won't be eating chicken on Tuesday!

Check out more Menu Mondays at www.orgjunkies.com!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Adventures in Going Green at work

As of yesterday, I am in charge of communicating to my peers at work how and why to go green. I get 3-4 minutes for a powerpoint and need to break it down as simply as possible. It's harder than I thought it was going to be.

A little about me: I love to research. I love to compile information and then present it cohesively, I really do. It's probably why I should really by in journalism (like my degree says) rather than design. But, you go where the job is. Anyway, my problem lies in being concise. I love sharing information, probably way too much. Hubby calls me "Captain Explaino" and I usually deserve it. But who do people come to when they need information? That's right, me.

So my struggle here is to impart information on a subject I am passionate about into a short 3-4 minute powerpoint. I could seriously get up and have a conversation with the group for probably and hour or two without a problem, but all I get is 3-4 minutes.

So today I am praying for clarity of mind and patience. And I'm thinking about handouts :) Do you think it'd be over-the-top to suggest starting a compost bucket in the kitchen?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Menu Monday (Tuesday)

I know I'm late. Sorry. Way too busy at work yesterday to post. But Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

Last week, well, let's just say I tried and keep it at that.

This week, I've got a plan again and I'll hope to follow it.

Monday - chili (I ate mine with a baked potato)
Tuesday - chicken parm
Wednesday - beef stew
Thursday - smoked sausage soup
Friday - At Grandma's Birthday Party!
Saturday - Homemade Pizza
Sunday - At Nathan and Kira's?

As much as I love soup and stews, I know Hubby's getting a little tired of them. He has also stated he doesn't want anything with little cut up bits of meat...so the chicken parm is going to be real chicken parm. And it also means I can't get away with the two of us splitting less than two breasts of chicken. He'll want a huge portion of meat, which means food is more expensive...sigh. Now that he's back on the field for work and walking almost 30 miles a day while pushing a 100lb spreader I can't really deny him his nourishment. I just wish I could get him to change his perspective a bit :)

Spring Cleaning

This post is not about what you may think :)

This past weekend, my husband and I started to tackle a project we've wanted to start since we moved in. The previous owners loved the English Garden look. Everywhere in our backyard there is Ivy and river rock. I was a manicured, planned out garden. Just not my thing. I believe if you're going to spend that much time and energy on a garden, it should be producing something other than the occasional blossom to look at!

Anyway, when pulling into our driveway parking, you used to see this.

A big, overgrown mess. It doesn't look quite so bad in this photo, but the entire roof of that structure had caved in (all trellis) and the sides were on their way. The ivy was everywhere, taking over everything. There were also some sort of evergreen bushes on either side that were very shabby looking. My husband hates them. So, Sunday we spent a few hours outside together enjoying the beautiful weather. And so far we have this.

The overgrown ivy and broken trellis' are gone. Most of the bushes are gone, and they weren't easy to get out, let me tell you! It ended up being just two huge plants, one on each side, that had big branches going all over the place. And all of the branches were held down by tons of ivy. It was a little nuts, but we did pretty good. There is I think one more main branch down there, and we didn't actually dig anything up really, it wouldn't budge. Hopefully we can soon. We filled up Hubby's truck bed and then some with debris and took it to my parents where it will decompose nicely and be used in their garden. We just don't have the room!

The main structure is going to be disassembled and then used to create a nice box to cover our garbage can and recycle bins closer to the house. In it's place, my hubby wants to put a bunch of river rock that we're thinking of moving from next to the house. The area where I want to put my square foot gardens is currently covered in rock. I don't know If I want it all removed, or just moved around so I can put my squares down. If it's all gone, what will I put around the squares? I don't really want to plant grass (mostly b/c that'll mean he'll put fertilizer and weed killer on the grass right next to my garden!) and don't want to spend money on any other type of ground cover...so I don't really know what do to. Guess I should decide soon though!

Oh, and I planted some lettuce this weekend in the basement as well. The onions are sprouting nicely! I told my parents I wanted 4 2x12's for my birthday and for my dad to come and help build the boxes :) Everything's moving along nicely!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sprouting Seeds!

This morning I went down to check on the seeds to see how they were doing, make sure they weren't too dried out, too hot, too cold. And much to my wondrous surprise, I have sprouts!

Both of the broccoli I had planted sprouted, this is the larger of the two so far.

And 2 of the 16 onions have started to show some signs of life as well!

And, since I'm sharing, I almost through this away a while back, because the last leaf fell off, but I saw tiny buds and it still looked quite green. And now it's back to life!

Way too much work to do here at work today to say much more, but I just had to share the wonderful news!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Adventures in Sanitizing

Until recently, I relied on very hot water and the occasional bleach treatment to disinfect things in my house. I'm a true believer in the saying "God made dirt, so dirt don't hurt", but when it comes to things like raw meat, I don't like to mess around. And my husband isn't quite as strong a believer as I am, so I've looked for more green and more frugal ways to sanitize.

This dark and ominous photo is of my bloody cutting board. No, I didn't just slip in some Queen's English slang, it really is bloody. This is from my beef stew the other night. I love this cutting board, but it's textured and has score marks from my knife as well. How do I make sure it's clean?

As I said earlier, I used to rely on really hot water and a little bleach. But not any more, especially since I've turned the water heater down a few clicks. Now, I use a combination of vinegar, peroxide and a good brush. The brush was $0.99 at Ikea, yes it's plastic, but I'm okay with that. The vinegar and peroxide were purchased in bulk at Sams Club and for two huge bottles of each, I think I spent maybe $10, maybe.

My company just came out with 30% PCR content bottles and all plastic triggers, so I got a bunch of those and made my own cleaners. Left is vinegar, right is peroxide and in the middle is a wonderful concoction of cleaning agents from my mom. I'm not sure what's in it (b/c I don't remember), but it's an all-purpose cleaner with things like tea-tree oil and grapeseed crush in it. It smells wonderful and does a really great job!

For my cutting boards and other contaminated items, I just spray vinegar then spray peroxide, let it sit for about a minute, scrub with the brush and then wash off as usual. The comination of the two is a wonderful disinfectant. Mixing them together in the same bottle doesn't have the same affect and can produce some harmful fumes, so keep them seperate until the last minute!

I got this from a site on this wonderful world wide web, but I can't remember where. I'm sure if you do a quick google search you can learn much more about this though!

Adventures in flooding

Just to start, I want to say how lucky I am. My house is essentially on the top of a hill, or as much of a hill as we have in Swanton, OH, and this morning my yard was almost dry. My sidewalk was dry enough that I took old bread out to the birds in my slippers. My basement is a little damp with a small trickle going to the drain, but that's about it. And I'm very thankful. The park down the street, at the bottom of our little hill, is a lake. The baseball diamond is flooded completely. And this isn't the first time it's happened. The golf course in town is completely under water.

We here in NW Ohio have had almost 6 inches of rain in the last 3-4 days. Paired with all the water left from things thawing, we're completely flooded. It's days like today when you can really tell that this land used to be a swamp. It still wants to be a swamp, and it would be if we'd let it.

The baseball diamond, you can see the dugouts half submerged.

The golf course. There's a green just on the other side of those front trees.

More of the golf course, from the other side.

This is not a ditch. This is someone's yard.
Almost every yard off of the main roads on my way to work have spots like this.

Sorry for the blurry photos, but I took them while I was driving and didn't really "look" at what I was taking. I'm just glad I haven't put any dirt out in my garden area yet, it would just be a muddy mess! It's stopped raining today, but got really cold with 40 mph winds all day. Woohoo!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Monday

So last week's menu was all sorts-a screwed up, but, it's plan, it's not set in stone. I did get to make a yummy bbq chicken pizza last night, so that was good. And I honestly don't remember at all what we had Thursday. That's probably not good. Oh well, hopefully next week will be better!

Monday - Pork chops, asparagus and cheesy-noodles of some sort
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Spicy chicken nuggets and baked potato wedges
Thursday - Red Lentil Curry (I'm going to try again with this one)
Friday - Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots
Saturday - Roasted Chicken and vegetables
Sunday - Pizza

There is one little caveat to all of this. Pork loin is on sale at one of the local stores this week. If I get to the store to get a pork loin roast, I will probably add that in and then use up the leftovers. I'll update if I get to all the stores I plan to shop!

For more Menu Monday posts, visit orgjunkie and browse through Mr. Linky.

ps. I shredded my finger tip this morning while doing dishes, on a box grater. So, the giant bandaid on my finger is making typing a little tricky today. Please forgive any typos on my part. Thanks, and have a happy Monday!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Adventures of an Indoor Garage Sale

This Saturday I woke up at 5:45am to take my hubby to work. My friend Kira and her son walked over at about 6:15am and we headed off. We met my mom and went to an indoor garage sale in a high school by her house. It started at 8am and we were actually EARLY!! (I'm never early). I thought it was going to be a dud, by turned out to be very fruitful.

For a grand total of $10, I got the following:

An awesome giant Brita filter. It didn't have a filter or the digital thing on top, but I have a pitcher in my fridge, a bunch of filters I bought at Sams. Awesome!
A beautiful Sterilite container. Perfect for my potatoes, onions and garlic in the pantry.

I also found a box of jars that had about 6 little ones and 7 older jars, the kind with the glass lids and metal bars holding them on. My mom thinks she even has a box of the rubber seals for these jars somewhere in her basement!

And finally a few books. One is an old math book, one is a book all about the great benefits of apple cider vinegar, another is a story book "Angels watching over me" and finally an older book called "Home and family living" that looks quite interesting. They are the four stuffed on top of the bookshelf.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good haul, especially for about 20 minutes of shopping. We were done by 8:25am. Crazy.

And, at last, I have started some seeds.

After doing so, I was actually a little worried. I realized there was no place in my house where it was at least 70 degrees. No where. So, I had to get creative. I decided to put them under the grow light in the basement and cover the tray in plastic. I'm hoping it gets a little warmer under there than it is everywhere in the house. I'm just worried about the light. We'll see. If it doesn't work, I'll try again when it's a little warmer out and I can actually get some sunlight in the house. I have sown 16 onion and 2 broccoli (a few seeds per "pot").

Pray for my seeds everyone. Hopefully I'll have a good update in a bout a week!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I've been remiss...

in the blog world. I haven't been blogging this week, and I'm sorry. Sometimes life takes over!

But I'm back, and I'll try to be more persistent.

Today my mom sent me a link to this site. She and my youngest sister are going to be making blankets and other warm things for babies in Appalachia. I am going to try and help out as well. Mom and I are going to a huge indoor garage sale this weekend and will be looking for fabric or old clothes as well as canning items and anything useful for the garden.

Last night I sat down and really planned out when and where things need to be planted. It's a start! Hoping to get the light up in the basement tonight!

Oh, and I exchanged my yogurt successfully yesterday, got my $1 back from the coupon and got a gallon of organic milk for just $3.66 (but I have to use it up this week). I will also be baking Amish Friendship bread this evening thanks to Sara! Anyone want a starter?

Monday, March 2, 2009


God, please make Monday over. Amen.

I've given up my snooze button for Lent, and let me tell you it has been a struggle already. I'll keep praying it'll get better. For now, I just want to go to bed.

But before I do, I had one final happy thought to share. I bought some A&W root beer for Hubby at the store today. A 12 pack of cans was on sale at 3 for $11. Not much of a sale, I know, but the boxes had $1 off coupons stuck on the end. Okay, I figured that would be good. I just put the pop in the stinking fridge and the stinking lady at the stinky grocery store forgot to take the stinking sticker off!! So now I'll take they yogurt back and get my $1.

I have put an email into Stonyfield (thanks Sara) to see if they can tell me it was a printing error, but now that I have the coupon issue as well, I think I'll just head over there tomorrow during lunch or maybe after work.

Good night.

Menu Monday, and then some!

Just a warning, this might be a long post :) And, I know I'm late. It's been quite a long day. This morning a broke a glass while doing dishes, and it's gone downhill from there.

But, enough boring stuff. On with the menu:

Monday - Beef and noodles with broccoli and carrots (my own creation, recipe tomorrow)
Tuesday - Smoked Sausage Soup
Wednesday - Chicken Stew (still using chicken out of the freezer from my crock pot chicken!)
Thursday - Red Lentil Curry (Hubby won't be home for dinner, so I'm experimenting with this myself first)
Friday - Dinner at Nathan and Kira's
Saturday - White Chicken Chili? (I never know what the day may bring, so I may just throw this in the crockpot in the morning and if we eat it, we do, if we don't, it'll be for lunch).
Sunday - BBQ chicken pizza

If you want to see more of Menu Monday, look here for hundreds more!

This weekend 's little romp outside really made me want to start growing stuff! Unfortunately it is still VERY cold here and, although we missed the big snow today, I'm not sure there won't be more for us before it's over. Hopefully I'll get some seeds started in the basement under lights this week.

This big red guy prompted a little walk around the property yesterday. I tried to get a good picture of him and his two friends (another cardinal and a blue jay) through the window, but there's something that has been sprayed on it that messed with a coating, I don't know what, but it won't come off and it's screwed up the view out my kitchen window. So Kira and took a walk outside. I think we scared the birds away quickly, but I managed to almost get a picture of him!

And, not only are my strawberry leaves green, but I've got bulbs coming up! These were bulbs I thought were dead and gone. We have animals that like to eat bulbs around here, and nothing came back last year, and I didn't think these would either. I didn't mind planting strawberries around this light post because of that. Now I'll have to transplant these guys! We also saw some crocus sprouting and a few other small things. Hopefully the cold again today won't do any damage to them.

And just to end this wonderful day of mine, I got home to find this. I managed to get to the grocery during lunch today and pick up what we needed, which included some yogurt for me and for Hubby's morning smoothies. I got home and was putting the groceries away when I just happened to notice this. The date on the yogurt says Mar 05 07. TWO YEARS ago this yogurt expired. Now, I'm hoping this was just a stamping issue, but I'm not taking my chances. And though I'm not one to try and spread things, I think others need to watch for this in my area. So, I will tell you I purchased this at the Kroger on King and Sylvania and it is Stonyfield whole milk plain yogurt. Please just look for me. Thanks.

Here's to a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday update

I ventured outside this morning after cleaning in the kitchen and what-not and much to my surprise, it was lovely outside! So I did a little digging in the dirt and it was just glorious! Don't get me wrong, it's still cold, but the sun is shining and it feels downright warm when it does. Plus most of the area I was working in today is well sheltered from the wind. But, to this gal with Cabin Fever, I don't think it takes a lot to feel good outside right now. By the time I headed back in, I was wishing I had put another layer on (I went without a coat!!)

I transferred the top of my compost pile into the bin, which is now almost full. While doing this, I discovered the most wonderful compost at the bottom of the pile. It's about two feet deep and the circumference is about that of a large tractor tire. I'm so excited! It was a frozen solid block, but I chipped away at it a little and found the good stuff. As soon as it thaws I can start using it.

I also got most of the soil ingredients I bought yesterday transferred into their bins. The company where I work sells, among other things, garbage cans. And for nearly cost, I have purchased a few 10 gallon cans with lids. Into these I have put peat moss, top soil/potting soil, and the mushroom compost I purchased yesterday. Most of this was still frozen solid too and wasn't the easiest to work with, but I'm pretty sure it will start to thaw in the shed. When the thaw happens finally, I will add my wonderful compost to the mushroom I purchased and create a mixed compost bucket. I'm also still on the lookout for the elusive course vermiculite prescribed in the Square Foot Gardening books.

Now I'm off to shower and set up the seed starting station in the basement!

Gathering supplies

This weekend I've done a little gathering for my upcoming garden. I went and bought peat moss, some potting soil, top soil and a bag of mushroom compost. I also put an order in (with my mom) for a garbage can full of muck from the chicken coop and the pig pen :) Hopefully I will get the gumption up to go out and move the compost pile into my new bin. It'll be hard, however, since today's high is about 20 with single digit windchills (that's Fahrenheit folks). It's a little cold for working in the garden still! I also got some weed barrier for the bottom of my boxes and almost got wood, but I decided to wait.

I also got some stuff to start my seeds! I've decided to wait a little bit to start. I have a feeling (which has been substantiated by a few other people) that we'll have a late frost this year. Since I haven't gotten everything set up yet, I'm not going to push it.

Updates to come!