Friday, March 19, 2010


Look at the post I found hiding as a draft! LOL I must have started this in March before spring activities took over my life. We really had fun with this study of the forsythia bush. Most of you probably already know how this works---you take some cuttings of a bush that flowers in the spring and then you 'force' them. That just basically means they are 'forced' to bloom before their natural time. This happens because our homes are warmer than the outside environment they've been in for so long.

Pooh's drawing is insightful as usual. The forsythia buds point downward. Once they start to open, you notice how the greenery heads upward and the bloom continues in a downward direction.

Here you can see more how from the one bud area, one bloom and one stalk of greenery develops.

One of the best things to cheer you on a cold winter day is to look at some yellow blooms.
This is definitely something we'll do again. It's easy, lasts quite a while and provides excellent observation opportunities. Put it on your calendars now to try in late February. That should work for most climates.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Exercise Habit--A Habit for Mom

You can see that I worked on this habit last year here. My friend and I did pretty well. I think we managed to keep walking together for about 3-4 months before our lives took over and it no longer worked.

I still have the goal of getting into shape. Last year's summer hike up a mountain really drove home the point of how out of shape I've allowed myself to become. (As if the weight isn't enough. Sigh.) I also have a strong history on my mother's side of diabetes. Which is pretty much a bummer of a disease and one to be avoided if at all possible.

I once owned a treadmill. Sold it to my neighbor. LOL I tried to like walking on it, I really did. I would listen to music. I watched TV. I varied the pace. It still bored me to tears. Five minutes into it I'd be thinking, "Oh darn! How much longer do I have to do this???" I love to walk, just not on a treadmill. (Does anyone else have a problem walking in a straight line? I didn't realize that I did until I walked on a treadmill. I kept having to adjust to account for the width of the belt.) Walking outside is the best. However, I live on a main rode which means I have to drive to the only real place around here to walk. Guess what that is? A 1/3 mile circle track. Yep, more boredom. The interesting places, and ones where you don't have to worry about being kidnapped from, are a 20 minute ride away. Then I would have to plan around the weather. You can see where that was going...

Ok. So. Next idea. Workout at home with exercise DVD's. I have VHS tapes too. Like Richard Simmons. LOL Hey, don't knock it! It really works for some people. I also have Pilates, Salsa Cardio and Walk Away the Pounds. This for me is one step up from the boredom of walking on a treadmill or in circles. My problem with it is that I can't exercise first thing in the morning like that. I need warm up time. The King and I were trying to get up together at about 6am to exercise together, but I would do about 20 minutes and try to head back to bed. I wasn't motivated to do it in the evenings either. Don't I sound like a big baby?

I know what you're thinking. Excuses, excuses. Well, yes, but it was all part of my challenge. They keep saying you have to find what works for you.

I did! I joined a gym. AND I'm taking group classes. What's weird is that I would mainly classify myself as an introvert. However, the classes are motivating for me. Go figure. I've done Zumba, Dance Fusion, Muscle Pump and I even tried a Hip Hop class! They all work for me. Well, except the Hip Hop stuff but that was mainly because the teacher didn't know her two new dances so there was no sweating that went on. I sweat easily so that should tell ya why it didn't work. I also tried a spin class. Which was a lesson in pain. Not in the legs. In the butt. Who knew there are little bony areas under all that fat that will hurt for 3 days straight after sitting on a little tiny, black cycle seat??? The instructor told me that you eventually get used to it. I'm thinking there are a lot more fun things that don't require that much getting used to. Sheesh!!! Anyway, I've been going about 2-3 times a week. Some are 9:30am classes and some are in the evenings. I have a place to go that stays warm and is pretty much always open. The boys have a daycare room to watch some TV in. (They are the big kids in there. All the other kids are toddlers and it's so funny to see them in there with all the little ones.) And best of all? It doesn't bore me to tears!!!

I know a bunch of health gurus are telling people that there are all kinds of stuff you can do without joining a gym. There's walking, dvds, soup can workouts (not eating them-lifting them), playing with your kids, etc. Somehow, I just don't think that's cutting it for a lot of people out there. We need more motivation. We need to see other people doing what we're doing. People more coordinated, people less coordinated. People skinnier, people not skinnier. So, if you're like me and need group effort, a gym is a good place to be. One bonus is that I know several other people that go there. Sometimes they are even in a class with me. Bonus!!! Plus, it makes me accountable. If they don't see me at a class that I'm normally at, they ask me if I'm ok.

Current exercise habit begun on January 29th. Six weeks and counting...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's Growing Around Here

First I have to say that this year's greenhouse didn't produce much. I kept fighting whiteflies and the really awful aphid. A ladybug would have had a heyday in there if I could have found one. They literally suck the life out of the plants. I did get a few miniature size peppers and I have a couple of tomatoes coming, but that's about it.

See what I'm talking about? The pepper is still alive and growing a new leaf here and there, but it's pretty much just a waste of space. A big clean out is coming soon...

However, I haven't given up. I've planted quite a few seeds that are for this years garden and some of them are doing well. I think it helps that we've had some days reach close to 70 and that means I can open the door for ventilation. I'm hoping an early spring bug will find the smorgasbord and move in. So far the praying mantis sac that's in there still hasn't hatched.

Ok, so here's some of what I've planted: zinnias, chard, kale, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, various flowers, huckleberries, ground cherries.

This is a tray of mostly flowers on the left side. You can see the calendula is up. On the right is I think are various things: Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, Nasturtium, and the peppers/eggplants.

One success are the two cucumbers plants that survived their battle with the aphids. They are sporting some baby cukes! So exciting!!!

Here are the zinnias. There are doing ok. However, you can probably see that in the same tray there are a couple of 'cabbage' plants that just can't get a break. Again-aphid attack.

In the outside world of growing...There has been mostly just pruning going on. I have pruned my grape vines (hopefully the right way!), my rose bushes, my rose of sharon and my butterfly bushes.

I cut back the butterfly bushes more severely this time. They had grown to over 12 feet tall and were blocking sunlight from my little green arborvitaes. They were actually hanging over the fence into the driveway at one point this summer! You can already see how there is new growth coming. I may eventually replace most of these with blueberry bushes. We'll see.

Hark! What grows there? It is my garlic. Garlic is very hardy and survives the snow. I hope this spring isn't too wet though. Last spring's wet weather rotted some of the bulbs.
In the above picture you may also be able to see the seed papers I put down. I think I laid down about six of them. I'm not going back out there to count right now. It's only 6:30am!!! Anyway, these are papers I made in December watching TV with the family. They appear to work great! I went to check a couple of days ago and the radishes have popped up. I think I saw one little lettuce plant up already too. Beside the papers, I sprinkled some turnip seeds and those are very small but coming. I need to check everything later today. When the sun is up! LOL

I really recommend the seed papers. They were pretty easy to make and super easy to put down. You just smooth out the soil, put down your paper and cover it lightly with a bit of soil and straw. That's basically just to hold it down. You can already see how the paper is disintegrating from the weather and the effects of being in the soil. It's wonderful in that the seeds are already spaced correctly and they don't go anywhere when it rains or you water! That is fabulous!!!

The growing chores are just beginning. I have tons of transplanting to get done and even more outside work to do. This week I'm concentrating on getting control of my house and then I'll be back out there. Come on, everyone. It's Garden Report time!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What are YOU looking at?!?

This is our snowman with a bad attitude. Hee Hee The King helped Tigger get him together and then when Tigger wasn't looking he added some embellishments. I went out to look and started laughing hysterically and was taking photos. Tigger had an absolute COW because he hated the 'hair'. That just made me laugh harder. Sometimes it's just hard to be a parent. Eventually, Tigger did remove the offending parts. Two days later he went out and banged off the head with a stick.

Pooh helped The King do the other snowman and they added this guy's decorations together. There was no bloody ending to this guy.
The snowmen came from a February snow. This week we had another snowfall which was a surprise because we were expecting mostly rain. It was a nice wet snow which allowed some great snowball fighting.

I know Tigger has gotten over his problems with his snowman because he can laugh about it now. He even said it was like him! (bad attitude)

We've been very happy with our many snowfalls this year. It is highly unusual for us to get this many snow storms. We are loving it! Tigger just wants more and more for snowboarding purposes. I'm about ready for spring though. I have gardening to get to and these unusually low temps are messing with my schedule now. Can't have that!!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Greener Food

One of my goals (and I have many) is to get my family eating healthier. That includes more greens. We aren't bad eaters. We do eat good food, but we also eat a lot of snacks. Some weeks more than others. The boys will eat some vegetables but each one likes different things so some nights one will have a feast and the other will have a famine. At least with the vegetable portion.

I had read about a year ago about 'green smoothies' and while they sounded fascinating, I just couldn't imagine being able to afford getting all that organic produce. I do buy some things organic when I can, but whatever anyone may say, it's expensive around here. My garden doesn't yet produce what I'd like so that's still not an option. I'm working on it little by little but for now, I don't have all organic fresh greens growing whenever I need them.

I went ahead and tried the green smoothie and you know what? It's good!!! I buy organic when I can but don't stress over it (and please don't leave a discouraging post about how bad it is to use produce that isn't organic!). I have made smoothies three different days. If you don't believe me when I say it's good then you should look at the photos below.

They both love it! How great is that?!?

Here's our favorite recipe so far:

2 Handfuls of Kale and at least one cupful of water --Put in blender and get the greens broken down. (If you have a fancy blender ie Vitamix, you don't have to do the extra step.)
Add in:
One banana
One cup frozen mango
One cup pineapple
Ice to taste

Pour and enjoy!!! I like to use the fancy wine or cordial glasses to make it an extra special treat. It's also something the boys think is extra special. They aren't normally allowed to use those glasses.

This is a great way to get some extra fruits and veggies into your diet and your kids diet. The really green color is almost half the fun! So much food aimed at children has that bright color from unnatural sources. This is bright, green, sweet goodness! There are about a bazillion different recipes to use in this. You can even check YouTube for green smoothies. Find a combination you like but make sure to change it up now and then. I'd like to find a way to get berries into our smoothie without it turning a gross brown color. There's a trick to it I'm sure. This week I hope to try it again using spinach. I had read you can use frozen spinach but I wouldn't recommend it. You can definitely taste the difference. (Ew.)

Right now our frequency isn't the greatest. One per week. However, once the weather gets warmer this should be a perfect cool treat to combat the heat. You could even turn it into popsicles I guess if you wanted to. Wouldn't that be a riot?!? Pull one out and surprise your kids' friends that are visiting. LOL

Happy green goodness everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Farmer Boy=Doughnuts

One of the free reads we've been working through is Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We've sort of skipped over the beginning in the Little House series as I wanted them to connect to the stories and I thought starting with Almanzo's story (being a boy) would foster that.

Tigger absolutely loves this book. It's his favorite. Pooh on the other hand suffers through it waiting for Peter Pan's turn to come up. He says Farmer Boy is "boring".

Weeeelllll, about 2 weeks ago we got to chapter 7 entitled 'Saturday Night'. In this chapter Mother makes doughnuts. We were just drooling with the thought of those doughnuts! Hot, crisp and sweet! Oh wow, I think I'm drooling again!!! Anyway, by the time we were done with that chapter I was looking up doughnut recipes on Google. (Who can live without google? Not me!) I tried looking for a recipe that would tell me how Mother did it. The book describes hers as twisted doughnuts that were twisted just right so that they would roll themselves over while frying. I did find that there is a book published with loads of recipes from the Little House series. You can find it at Amazon (another place I wouldn't want to live without.) However, I decided I wanted a recipe where I could throw the dough into the bread machine. I looked around and found one I thought looked easy enough (I'm not going to recommend it for doughnuts though because it just wasn't sweet enough.)

From the different descriptions I found while googling, this is what I came up with as far as making our doughnuts:

Once the dough is ready (remember! i used a machine), roll it out about a half inch thick. Cut into strips of half an inch thick...

Fold the strip in half and twist it like you would with two pieces of yarn.

Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise.

Fry, sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!!!

Mine didn't come out like Mother's. LOL First, as I mentioned, the dough wasn't a sweet dough. I plan to find another dough recipe I can use next time. Also, when I had mine frying they didn't turn over by themselves. However, the texture was really good and they rose well, so I'm not complaining. The heavy dose of powdered sugar compensated for the lack of sugar in the dough. I was really surprised by how dark they came out but a friend who just recently made her own doughnuts said hers were dark as well. I'm guessing that's normal? It would be fun to see if any of you try it how yours come out. Let me know if you do!!!

I don't have any photos of Chapter 8 but let me tell you, it was another chapter that had us drooling. It started out with a big stack of fluffy pancakes with syrup and everything. Then it moved onto chicken pies and hop n john. Oh My!!! I didn't make my own chicken pie. I cheated and instead got 4 of those little chicken pot pies from the store. Those were a big hit with Pooh. He ate his and asked for another. LOL I didn't have any more that day but I now have 4 more sitting in my freezer.

I know Farmer Boy isn't supposed to be about the food but we sure are having fun with that aspect! It's a great book for seeing how hard children used to work for their families. Life lessons in an enjoyable format. For those that may be like me and have never read any of the series, you're in for a great education and great treats by delving into this book!