Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Bounteous Bounty

When it rains it pours.  And currently, it's raining, pouring an pretty much hurricaning green beans in my gardens.  Just about every day, I go out and come back with this quantity!

I'm not exaggerating.  If you can't tell how much, it's about a one gallon ziplock back.  Almost. Every. Day.  It's great, but really, it's why I need some of these.

I bring them for lunch and eat them raw.  I like them raw, actually.  I bring in back to give my coworkers and their eyes bug out when "some" green beans is about 10 meals worth.  I've blanched and frozen 3 gallons of my own and I don't have a lot of freezer space, so I don't know if I can really do more.

And there are many more a-coming. 

This is such a perfect example of why you plant in succession.  The yield never slows down because just as one plant is dying off,the next generation is racing to produce more.  I've done this with other plants but the beans seem to be the winners in showing how it's done.

And this summer, I decided that I much prefer the pole beans to the bush beans, for two reasons.  The pole beans seem to produce for a longer period.  And, they are so much easier to pick.  Except for the plants that grew up the 12+ foot sunflower and I have to stand on a ladder to get them.  If you can keep them under control, they are easier to pick.  And, I guess a third reason, they take up less ground space because all they want to do is climb, so you have more space to grow ground stuff.

Pole beans do take longer to get going, probably because they have contests to see who can grow the farthest from the main plant, but overall, I think I will grow them from now on.

Do you see the zucchini up there too?  That was a surprise.  I got the squash borer in July and thought most of my squash was a goner but I had planted some a little bit later and I guess they missed out.  I had more zucchini and summer squash than I would have imagined and just today, there was that zucchini!  The plants really are pretty much done but a couple of still trying to flower and produce little tiny things that rot off.  I think this really is it.

As long as the frost stays away, I think I'll be in the beans for quite a while longer.   Last year, we had a snap frost, which I thought I mentioned but I can't find, and things were ruined in early October.  That was pretty unusual and based on the decent weather we are still having, I think we're in the clear for a little while.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making Me The Bread Winner

Remember when home bread makers became the rage in the 90s?  Everyone bought them for Christmas one year.  And millions of Americans were suddenly making bread at home.  It smelled so good. It was so easy.  And it tasted sooooooo good.

My parents bought one around that time and my father went to work making bread like it was his job.  And it was gooooooood.  But he had to stop making it because we would have all weighed 400 pounds.  Because we didn't eat it like sandwich bread.  We ate it like it was a snack.

And for decades, I thought that was what you did with the homemade bread from a bread machine.  It never occurred to me that you could actually make a sandwich out of the bread!  Seriously!  Did you know you can slice it thin enough for sandwich bread and use it like that???  Who knew?

My sister a-ster knew, that's who.  And it occurred me that if I made bread myself, it might be cheaper, it would certainly taste better and it wouldn't hang around in the refrigerator for questionable amounts of time.

So, I went to my parents' and was shocked that no one had absconded with it in the night.  I found the manual online and went to work making bread. 

Just like it said. 

But I was filled with dread. 

Because the bread...

.....was like lead. 

I didn't know you had to really use bread flour for the best results.   So, I bought bread flour and the results were amazing.

And then I went to work Sunday making wheat bread.  I had also learned recently that the wheat flour I bought and was repeatedly disappointed in might be just too heavy and they make a lighter wheat flour.  So I used that with the bread flour and ta-da!

Sandwiches for everyone!  K-ster said he really liked this one.  And unlike my last white bread adventure (even with the bread flour) it didn't fall apart as he was eating it.

Perhaps my favorite feature is the pizza dough.  I can come home from school, throw in the ingredients that my sister shared for amazing crust, set it on pizza dough cycle and go ride.  When I get back, the dough is ready, totally amazing, and we have the best pizza every time!  Once, I made too much and we had Thanksgiving calzones.  I've never been so happy with a pizza dough.  And I can pronounce all of the ingredients!!

This machine we have is a Kenmore but I want to replace it.  I love the size of the small loaf.  I love the dough feature.  I have plans for making dough and then taking it out for rolls.

But the pan is getting sketchy on the inside and the last time I used it, it smelled a little electrical.

So, I need you to recommend a brand you have and love so I can ask for a new one!

Monday, September 24, 2012

One More Barn Baby

Yesterday, I showed you the latest barn babies.  But there's one more baby at the barn this week.  It's a crybaby.  And her name is Sparkling.

Yesterday, I rode Candy, who I loved riding in August.  She's the one I was riding bareback here.   I rode her for a few weeks and enjoyed every ride.  Then she went a little lame and I couldn't ride her for a while.    They changed her shoes and now she's sound again.

I was tickled when r-ster said I could ride her again. 

I was not so tickled when I fell off of her, not once, but TWICE in the same lesson!  I haven't fallen off in a really long time.  I was recently thinking I'm pretty good about keeping everyone that I ride in control and how I haven't had to bail off a horse since I've been at this barn.  Except once when I was jumping Tucker and I knew I wasn't landing right and sort of slid off, but I landed on my feet so I dont' consider it a fall, per se.

So, Candy and I were just walking around at the beginning and she was snorting and sneezing like they all do as they get warmed up.  And she went bananas and took off.  I fell off but it wasn't so awful.  More of a surprise for both of us.  And she stopped right away.  I thought maybe she scared herself sneezing.

I got back on and told her that was enough of that.

We were having a great lesson, she was doing what I was asking (mostly) and I asked her to canter.  After a few attempts, she did.  And as I was settling in, she revved up and really went crazy and I went flying off.  She was racing around and all I could think is that she was going to slam up both face first into the wall.  And this time, instead of stopping to look at me on the ground, she went for another lap or two, just crazy.

Somehow, I torn the skin  below one nail, so I was  bleeding.  And I scraped my hand which is virtually impossible given the texture of the floor.  It's not sand or dirt, it's this super soft stuff.  I can't figure out what I scraped my hand on.

And both times, I hit my head, slightly.  Thank God I wear a helmet.  I checked it and it's not cracked or damaged.  And whenever I fall, I jump right back up and get right back on because I know that's the best thing to do psychologically.  And the adrenline pumping through makes everything feel fine.  Ha ha ha ha.

Adrenaline is such a bitch.

I rode for a little while longer and cantered her the other way and she was fine.  But my trust is a little shaken with her now because she wasn't being bad like Tucker sometimes was before I would fall off.  It was really out of the blue.  Both times, it was in the same direction and right around the same place.  Who knows what really goes through their minds.   I'm sure there was some ghost there that was looking at her.   I really, really felt a connection with her last month, but this time, it was totally different.  I'm not sure what I think about riding her again.

And then I got home and the stiffness started and my neck started hurting. UGH.  At least she's about 1 foot closer to the ground than Tucker, so it wasn't such an impact when I fell.  I sure do "feel this one in the morning".

And at least I didn't land on this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barnful of Babies

***Warning, this post is full of puppies and kittens, so you might have to squeal a little.  You've been warned.***

There's something for everyone at the barn these days!!

Here's what's going on around the barn:

Lots of scratching and rubbing.

And the winner of the longest tongue contest...  this guy right here.

Are you looking at ME?

Now I'm gonna come look at YOU!

Two peas in a pod.  It's amazing how much these two look like Gwennevere and Bandit.  Although we rarely saw them getting along this well!

Hey, what about me?
The kittens are the final 3 from the crazy stall full of cats from a few weeks ago.  They will stay there as barn cats.  They are really cute and now that they have stuff to climb on, they are crazy!
The puppies and their mother were found on the side of the road in N. Carolina and were rescued and brought up here last week.  2 were given away today and three others are already claimed (none by me!), so there's just one more and the mother.  I think they will end up staying as barn dogs.  The one with the white snout is my favorite right now but the longest tongue boy is very loyal and won't leave you once you touch him.  He's the mother's favorite too.
So far, the kittens and puppies are in different stalls, but at some point, they will all be out running around.  It's going to be a fun fall!

On a side note that has nothing to do with animals, go see what creativity has been going on in a-ster's sewing room!  Check out the last couple of posts.  Well, it does have to do with babies because l-ster is modeling her finery.  Or running away, you decide.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Bonus To Being Injured

So, while playing the role of sexiest French teacher this side of the bridge, I've made a fun discovery.  I don't have to wear matching socks because no one can see what's under the wrap!   That means:

 a) I can get dressed a lot faster because I can grab any two socks and it won't matter the color or the height of one of them.

b) I can wear those socks whose matches I know are somewhere in this house but load after load, they just don't appear.

As much fun as that discovery was, I've just about gotten over wearing sneakers to work every day.  And if one more person asks me what is going on with the "black sock", I might kick them with my good foot.  Why on earth wasn't this thing made in flesh color?  Or better, why didn't I decide last winter that it bothered me enough to do something and no one would have noticed because I was wearing pants?

This is one of my favorite times of the year for clothing because I have lots of fun sleeveless dresses that I can't wear once we get near October and usually I can't wear until about the last week of school in June.  I'm no fashionista, but it's really been a pain to wear sneakers with these lovely dresses.  It feel like an unmade bed.  Yes, my feet are remaining ache and blister free, but I do like to wear flats sometimes.

While I do love the days when I get to go to school dressed like this, it's really only fun when everyone else is dressed like that too!

And God help me, I realized today that I can't wear my winter boots with heels that I love so very, very much.  It's going to be a long winter.

Linking up here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Weekend In The Cannery

Well, I didn't get enough of my other chores done, but this is what I accomplished this weekend:

Bringing the grand total to:

31 jars of applesauce
6 jars of spaghetti sauce *all with my own tomatoes!!

I feel a lot better about the canning process this year since I didn't poison anyone last year.  But it is time consuming.

I still have a bag of apples and I'm debating another round of sauce next weekend or maybe just lots of apple pies.  But I sure did like that applesauce in December last year.  And we did run out in January...

I have used just about every jar I own.  I have a lot of half pint jars from all of the apple butter that I made.  I'm  not doing that again because I didn't love it and it took FOREVER to cook.  And wasted a lot of apples and jars!

K-ster is supposed to get me some cranberries soon, so I'll make some cranberry sauce.  I'd like to find a recipe for a cranberry apple chutney that won't kill me when I open it in a few months.  The USDA doesn't seem to have a recipe for that and I only use their approved recipes because they claim to test them all to perfection. 

I have no time for botulism.

I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder going out today to get more jars, lids, pea seeds for a fall crop and boot laces.  Like I was going into town, to the dry goods store, for Ma. 

I should have bought a bolt of calico while I was there.

Linking up here

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Let Me Cast My Absentee Ballot After the Fact

I'm not sure where I was when the following things were voted into society and I'm pissed.  Let the record state that I do not support any of these decisions and I expect a full reversal, effective next week.

a)  5 pound bags of sugar are now 4 pounds- and it took me a while to figure this out.  I have no idea if they are charging the same amount or less, but I'm certain they are taking advantage.

b)  8 ounces of yogurt has now become 6 and sometimes 5.5 ounces- did they think we couldn't feel the different size of the new containers?

c)  'uniform' shirts at grocery stores and drive throughs are now sloppy t-shirts-  I expect to see a collar and some sort of dreadful polyester attire on the teenager handling my food, not a too big t-shirt that makes them look like they're off to the beach.  This is only the first step in the dismantling of all uniforms and pretty soon, people will be working in 'regular clothes' and we'll never know who's in charge.

d)  everything coming in 100 calorie packs-  what if I want a snack but not a whole 100 calories at that time?  That's quite presumptuous, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'm Too Sexy For My Shoes

This is my new wardrobe addition.  Don't you love it?  It's the sexist thing in  my closet.

These days, these are the shoes I get to wear every day.  With skirts, dresses, capris.  I couldn't be more stylin.

The first day of school, a teacher said he thought that a) I had chosen a terrible pair of socks that did nothing for my outfit and then b) I had forgotten one.

It would seem that my ankle is a little damaged from life.  Nothing exciting to tell you, about how I was diving off a cliff and kicked the side, or I was being mugged and to thwart the robbery, I roundhoused the guy and knocked him out or even that I fell off a stripper pole.

It's complicated and doesn't have a simple answer like a sprain, or a break, so I'm just not explaining it.  Don't ask.

The ortho guy said to stop doing anything with impact, no stirrups when I ride, no standing when I spin and ice it twice a day for 10 minutes and come back in a month. 

Oh and wear that svelte stocking all day.

The no stirrups thing comes at a perfect time because I've been riding bareback once a week anyway because I think it's improving my riding, so now I have no choice but to improve because with or without a saddle, I have no stirrups.  So far, so good.  No wild horse chases.  No hijinks.  No near casualties.

Not standing when I spin is also not a bad thing.  I can still tell people in my class to do it, but I won't do it myself.  And it doesn't mean I have to stop teaching the class.  Another plus.

I was afraid I'd get a boot and have to keep it immobilized and that wasn't really going to work for me.  I'm not the Driving Miss Daisy kind of girl and it's my right foot, so a boot would have meant no driving.  I was ready to negotiate with the doctor.  I came prepared with all sorts of "how about" and "what if we try" and "I see your big heavy boot and I raise you one day without running".

He must have seen me coming because he didn't suggest anything outrageous.  And he said "I have a lot of patients like you".

I like to think he meant the lean, mean fitness machine kind of patients who need to exercise in order to function. 

Not the neurotic, 100 mph nitwits who hop on and off the table like a jackrabbit every time he asks.

In the meantime, I'm the teacher who shows up to a parent meeting in a pretty dress and sneakers. 

I am one classy beeee-otch.

Linking up here. and here

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stick A Fork In Me, I'm Done

Just when I was sure that American "cuisine" had gone as far as it could probably go in making a mockery of all that is good, real, food, they've done it again.

I heard an ad on the radio today for a restaurant that has all kinds of waffles and they especially want you to stop in and get the "fluffernella".  That's right.  Marshmallow fluff and Nutella.

There isn't much that I hate in the world of sweets, but the idea of hazelnuts in my chocolate really ruins my day.  I hate hazelnuts.  A lot.  I try to like them because I love the idea of a chocolate spread.   But every time I eat Nutella, I taste those hazelnuts and it just makes me want to scream.  What a waste of calories on something I don't like.

And I do try, about once a year, to enjoy Nutella.  And every time?  Total ruin of my dessert.

But now?  Now someone has taken what is one of those rare food obsessions that the French have, Nutella, and they want to mix it with fluff??  On a waffle?

I knew no good would come of Nutella being sold in everyday grocery stores in the US.  I knew Americans would do something to ruin the "charm" of this French craze.

I just didn't know they'd take the Fluffernutter and ratchet it up a few notches with Nutella and a waffle.

Forget "what will they think of next?" .  They've thought of it all. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Putting Up For the Winter

I waited all summer, literally since June, for these.

And I don't even eat eggplant!  I like the way it looks and this one is truly exquisite.  Something that purple should be fruity and amazing, not eggplant tasting.  It's pretty to look out and see a couple of them in my garden, so I have grown it before and then gave it away.  I had no idea it would be September when I was finally seeing what they'd look like.  And these actually have thorns by the top!  I've never seen an eggplant like this.

The peppers are finally coming but it has been ridiculous.  First, I couldn't get them to start and I tried several varieties, several times.  When I finally got plants, I put them in around the beginning of July and just today, I saw that there were small peppers that I could actually pick. 

I picked what I think might be a bushel of green beans.  It's really probably more like a few quarts, but it sure is a lot.  I like to freeze them for the winter and at this rate, I think I might make it through the winter with plenty of green beans this year.  There are so many more coming. 

Beans are funny around here.  The climbing beans are so slow to get going then I worry I won't have any and I plant more and then they all come in at once.  I actually have some that climbed a sunflower that is taller than the greenhouse and now the beans are at the very top and I either have to get a ladder or climb on k-ster's shoulders to reach them.  I'm not kidding.

I planted more cukes about a month ago and they have just taken off.  Without the dampness of spring the slugs are more or less hiding and the cukes are flourishing.  I think I'll get them until frost, for sure.  My original cukes pretty much done, so this is nice to see!

We went to pick apples yesterday and came home with about 70 pounds of a couple of kinds that I can't name.  I enjoyed the applesauce so much from last year, I wanted to get about 40 pounds now and then go in a few weeks and get about 40 pounds of a different variety.  We ran out in January last year, and I want to have more in the late winter.

We came home with this:

I made some applesauce and canned it, but there's more ahead.  And I still want to go back and get a different kind at the end of the month.  But I'll have to be sure to give k-ster just one bag this time so we don't end up with 100 pounds!

Again, I need some Ag Days NOW!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Agricultural Days- Can I Have Some?

As a teacher, I get 3 personal days and 15 sick days per year.  Since I am rarely sick, I have about one million sick days available.  It's easier to drag my ailing butt into my classroom than to leave plans for a sub, so I have called in sick a total of 2 times in my career.  But, we can't just use them for any old thing.

The personal days don't accumulate, so you get 3 to use or not and that's it.  They are supposed to be for things like closing on a house, a wedding you have to fly to, etc. 

But I need some agricultural days.  Some harvest days.  Some it's-September-and-my-produce-is-FINALLY-ready-to-harvest days. 

Because trying to pick things before school is proving impossible.  I'm out there in my nightgown and there are more beans than I can pick in the few minutes I have.  I'm trying not to get dirty but it's dewey and everything wet.  I'm trying to ignore the weeds that I'm itching to pull.  I'm busy until it's almost dark and I'm afraid of the bugs I'll find if I pick in the dark.

So these first few weeks of school are really getting in my way.  I planted some new plants that should produce nicely this month and I don't know when I think I'll get to pick them!  If I wait too long, they get bigger and more seedy than I like. 

It's a real dilemma. 

I think I need to go back to 1930 or maybe to Appalachia, where they didn't have school for a few weeks in September so kids could help with the harvest.

Or maybe I don't need whole days off.  Let's do a 2 hour delay 3 days a week.  That would work for me.

Think I can convince them?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just How Fit Am I Going to Get?

Today was the first real day of school, with students.

Last year, I gave a fabulous interpretation of the trauma of not knowing who I am teaching.    You might think something would have been learned about not giving us our classlists and what that means for the first day of school.

But once again, I was met with "why do you need class lists, can't you just print them?"  There's some glitch that won't let us print when we have the students.  Only the office can do that.

So no, I can't just print them.

Somehow, kids knew where to find me and I managed to make it through 5 classes of students I actually recognized.

But what I really want to know is this.  Research says, the more fit you are, the more you sweat because your body is becoming such an efficient machine, it just keeps you cool all the time.

I remember back when I started teaching and though it would be warm in the early days of back to school, I never, ever let them see me sweat.  That was before I became "conditioned" by all of this exercising I do.

Now, I spend the day from the time I leave my air conditioned car (something I don't even do all summer, but I do on the way to school to try to keep cool) until the moment I get back in it damp.  Moist.  Soaked, at times.

I wear as little as I can possibly get away with.

I have a fan.

I don't drink hot drinks.

I'm not alone.  Kids had beads of sweat on their lips and foreheads and they we're even doing physical labor.  I just asked them where the homework and agenda board is located.  Or, could they please put that paper in the homework bin.

So once again, I'd like the know, just how much more fit am I going to get?  I don't think people appreciate it when I tell them the reason I'm wet and smelly is because I'm such an efficient machine.

Forget about letting them see me sweat.  I think if they listen carefully, they can actually HEAR me sweat.

So, I have a new plan.  Mid day underwear changes.  I'm serious.  Isn't it nice to put on clean, dry underwear?  How about when you've been hot and sweaty for hours? 

Clean and dry is the way to go. 

This way, my last two classes will get the same temperament from me that my first class got, back when I didn't look like I was sitting in the sauna.

I'm going to ask if they'll stock them for us in the teacher's lounge.

Linking up here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

No Going Back

You know what they say, once you go roasted, you'll never go back to boiled. 

Right, no one says that.  THat's a really stupid sentence.

Unless you're talking about butternut squash.

Mine grew really small this year and I was about to throw them away.  Even though I grew the cutest mini pumpkins one  year, I am not a centerpiece making kind of person, so these wouldn't be very useful for decoration in my house.  They were so small that peeling them wouldn't be worth it.

My sister a-ster suggested that I roast them.  She says that a lot.  "Why don't you just roast them?"  Pretty soon, I'll be roasting cookies. 

She said to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, place them face side up on a tray and roast them at 375 for close to an hour.  No oil, no water, no foil over them.  Well, she didn't say those 3 things, but that's what I did and it worked.

I will never cut, peel and boil again.  These things just about fell out of the skins themselves once they were cooked.  And they were nice and sweet.  The little ones looked like they were more green and I worried that they weren't really fully developed but they tasted just as good as the bright orange one.  No bitterness.

I really didn't even have to mash them much once I took the skins off because they were pretty mushy.

We always have butternut squash for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they are awful to cut and peel.  Many a Christmas morning, my mother has played fast and loose with a knife, trying to get enough leverage to cut them then cut and peel them.  This was something my grandmother used to help her with but she didn't make it look any easier.   Sometimes my father helps but that just makes people say "remember the time grandpa took the squash down cellar and cut it with the saw?"

I don't know what it's like in your house when you're trying to work with butternut squash, but it's never been something that I aspired to do because everyone's always risking losing a finger.

So, I rarely make squash myself.

Until now.

Oh and I roasted a few of these babies too since I had the oven on anyway.  They're on their way to beet salad right now.

Of course I didn't mix them together.  I could never hide beets in something orange. 

Unless they were golden beets....

I better link up here and go to school before I think up how to introduce beets.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

sssSSSSSS---------->>>>>>> BOOOOOOOM!

When I was in high school, we had a pep rally every year.  I think we had two, actually.  One for homecoming in October and then it seems like the other was in the spring, but I might be mixing that up with senior's last assembly.  Which was much more serious than a pep rally.  

I was a cheerleader, you'd think I might remember when the rallies took place but it seems like cheerleaders actually weren't part of the rallies.  That makes no sense.  Cheerleaders ALWAYS run the pep rallies in the movies.


We had a principal who seemed to like pep rallies and he was all about class spirit competitions.  Each grade level sat in a quadrant of the bleachers in the gym and had a little rivalry going with costumes, posters, and lots of yelling.  His claim to fame was the following:

There are two parts to a bomb.  The ssssss and the BOOOM. 

Well, the way he said it, it sounded like:  there ahhhh 2 pahts to a boooooohhhhhhmb. 

And then he'd have one side of the gym be the ssssss and the other side was the boom.  Then it would go grade by grade to see who had the most spirit.  It would get really loud and really heated!

Completely ridiculous.

I was thinking about the idiocy of this whole thing recently.  Our principal there in a nice suit and tie, making one side of the gym go sssss and then running (literally) to the other side to make them go BOOM. 

What the hell did it mean?

Why were we imitating a bomb?

What did that have to do with school spirit?

Were we blowing up the competition? 

Were there sticks of dynamite we were supposed to be lighting?

Why did we do it?  Because he was running in a suit and he was the principal so we did what he said?  Was it actually fun to go sssss boom?

And most importantly, can you even imagine if a principal encouraged this today, in 2012?  Encouraging kids to think about bombs while in the gym?  And then mimicing the noises?

I think he became a legend because of the 2 parts to a bomb thing.

That's definitely how I'd like to be remembered.  The teacher who made kids imitate ammunition.

Linking up  here.  and here.