Friday, July 29, 2011

Anime Camp

Grace attended anime camp for four days this week. Each student created their own anime comic strip. They started off with a rough draft of their idea which is in the above picture.

Now we move in to each box of the comic strip which is on larger pieces of paper.

I included this pic just because it is so cute. This morning I put the dogs outside so the stray kitty could walk around and stretch her legs. They were at rapt attention the entire time watching.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lets Talk Tomatoes

This afternoon was all about tomatoes. I am guessing I had about 60-70 tomatoes to make my way through. From 1:00 - 5:00 I spent my time cooking 4 pints of pasta sauce, three containers of stewed tomatoes, and sliced 30 tomatoes to go in to the dehydrator for drying. By dinnertime I was plum tuckered out. For dinner I prepared tacos and hubby cut up all the fixins. Once we sat down to eat the plate of veggies was in front of my and I told my husband that the smell of the tomatoes was actually making me sick. lol. Tonight after dealing with the chicken chores I cut up more bell peppers to put in the freezer. Hubby brought home from the garden this morning 8 more cantaloupe. After the tomato drying finishes tomorrow I think we can take a breather until our next trip to the garden on Monday. I am all out of pasta, salsa, etc. mixes. Does anyone have an easy recipe for pizza, pasta or salsa made from fresh tomatoes to freeze. Don't send me anything I got to can, too hot for all that nonsense.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A First For Me

Today was mom's appt to get her test results. Very good news. Her thyroid cancer is stable, we will not have to return for another CAT scan for six months and blood work every three. Her thyroid cancer is finally behaving like typical thyroid cancer with being managed by her thyroid medication. It only took us 10 years of surgery and treatments to get to this point. Thank you God! After her appt we had lunch at the hospital then took a detour on the way home to stop and shop at Whole Foods grocery store. This was my first visit and I thought it was great. Wish we had one closer. I guess I can just look forward to shopping there every three I could have bought so much more if I had not had to worry about the 1 1/2 hour trip back home with any cold stuff. Next time I will definitely remember to take a cooler. I was still able to pick up some cereal, flavored green tea, stevia packets, organic taco shells, swiss cheese, sandwich meat, and organic spaghetti noodles. This store was beautiful and had so many new to me products. I did pick up two cans of soda made with stevia named "Zevia" to try. I had not seen the soda anywhere. I tried it and have to say I wasn't that impressed. To me it tasted kind of salty and even less tasty that regular diet soda. I just wanted to try it on a whim, because at 1.00 a can it is a little out of my price range. Ok, alot out of my price range. Well onward and upward. Tomorrow will be all about turning tomatoes from the garden in to stewed tomatoes and pasta sauce for the freezer. First thing in the morning I am off the Walmart to purchase more freezer containers and packages of pasta or salsa mix.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Busy Day at the Homestead

This is what happens when you don't go down to your garden for a week. Scott brought home two bucketfuls of tomatoes and bell peppers, a cooler full of carrots, two watermelons, 8 cantaloupe, a few onions and cucumbers. Tonight after our walk we are starting the dehydrator back up. Today was Grace's second day at Anime Camp and she is really loving it. This afternoon we brought the kitten over to our house from my moms. Tomorrow mom goes for her visit to the hospital to get test results. Below is a picture of the stray kitten.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Update on the Kitten

I promise to try and get a picture tomorrow. This is the sweetest kitten. Not feral at all. Had to have been dumped by someone. This morning was the visit to the VET, our biggest worry was the FELV/FIV test which she passed with flying colors. She does have a few small issues including an eye infection, roundworms and coccidia. We still plan on finding her a home much to Grace's dismay but the kitten will be with of for 10 days until she finishes all her medications.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Last Thing We Needed

For lunch today me and Grace decided to go to our favorite mexican restaurant. When we pulled in to the parking lot there was a group of 4-5 adults gathered around a small kitten, trying to keep him/her from the street. We went in and ate, by the time we were finished the lunch crowd was gone. Of course the kitten was still present and as cute as ever. Skinny, eye discharge and sneezing a little, but very friendly and following us to our car. Grace was beside herself with worry. I had all intentions of getting in the car and leaving. I kept looking back to the kitten laying int he parking lot. He/she had planted itself underneath the shade of a bush (did I mention it is in the low 90's today). I made a call to my mom to see if we could house the kitten in her spare bedroom until other arrangements could be made. Picked the kitten up, put him/her in the car and went to moms. Once we arrived I gave the kitten both canned and dry food which she/he immediately ate in about three minutes flat. Now the kitten is sleeping peacefully in a cage I had and I'm wondering what to do with it. Three dogs, two cats, three hermit crabs and 14 chickens already reside at this residence. We really don't need another pet, but he/she is very friendly and very cute.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A New Direction (Possibly)

It is looking less and less like we will be able to get our new drama program off the ground. Road blocks keep getting thrown in our path. We are now considering that maybe God doesn't want us to start a new program at this time. It will be heartbreaking for some of the kids, but not all the kids would have been coming back due to scheduling difficulties, etc. I know that Grace will be very disappointed so I haven't told her yet until we know for sure. Grace has mentioned over the past couple of weeks that she would really like to concentrate on her singing in public. She is even talking about going to an open mic night at a nearby art gallery to sing. As many of my readers know this doesn't completely come out of left field because she has been singing in musicals for the past three years with some solos. Today I contacted a local teacher that provides voice lessons and she has her students perform various times during the year at different venues. So this may be a new path for Grace to take, but we will still keep our eyes open for any audition possibilities at the local community theatre. I also hope to sign her up for some more art classes once she meets her anime camp teacher on Monday. I think she has visions of being a "singing star". Time will tell.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fourth Day Back At It

School that is. The first couple of days were a little rough getting back in to the groove. We still aren't getting up early enough to finish by lunch. We usually take a break for lunch then finish around 2:00. The first two days of math were not fun but the third day was much better and I anticipate today being good. I scheduled Fridays up with everything that I couldn't fit in to the schedule on Monday - Thursday. So today we will have picture study, nature study, drawing illustrations for her children's book that we have been working on all summer, personal development, math, spelling, and story starters. Looking forward to a different pace today with the school work. Normally our schedule involves math, science, history, literature, English, math, reading, etc. Next week Grace is going to a Anime Camp for two hours each day so I will schedule very lightly in the afternoon when she gets back to round out a 4 1/2 hour school day. Starting this early will give us the option to take a whole week off for Thanksgiving and two for Christmas without any worries. Also some extra days during the year when we really don't feel like getting up and doing school. The flexibility schooling at home is just awesome.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Scott harvested over 50 roma and beefsteak tomatoes today. So that of course warranted a trip over to my sisters tonight for us to make 4 containers of spaghetti sauce and 5 of salsa. I went on to the Mrs. Wages website and they also carry packets to make ketchup and pizza sauce. None of the stores in town carry these and it is probably to late to order online. I might start looking around the internet for a recipe for the pizza sauce. We make home made pizza at least once a week. Scott also brought up from the garden today bell peppers, banana peppers, cucumbers, and cantaloupe. So today was all about making sauces and tomorrow will be all about baking. If anyone would have asked me a couple of years ago if I would be doing all of this with the garden, chickens, etc. I would have told them no way. But I do enjoy it and feel ties to days of old.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Sorry I haven't been around in the past 4-5 days. Usually I try to post something each day but quite frankly nothing really is post worthy. All the potatoes are out of the ground and either stored or dehydrate and three batches of salsa have been prepared and frozen. The weekend was pretty quiet. Watched alot of TV on youtube and netflix. Last week Grace had gotten pretty bored and we decided to start school this week. Of course when today got here she kind of wanted to change her tune. We started anyway. I think we are really going to like Teaching Textbooks for math. It will be good for her to hear someone else explaining math to her instead of just me. Today hubby is down out the garden getting the remaining carrots out of the garden and depending on how many tomatoes are harvested I may try my hand at making some pasta sauce to freeze. Lots of smoothies being made for snacks with all the strawberries, blueberries and bananas that I have on hand. Delicious! I have had alot of trouble with joint and muscle pain over the past month and we think it might be a side effect from my newer acid reflux medication. Because of this I switched back to nexium a few days ago and am going to the drug store today to purchase some vitamin d (advised to take 2000 units a day) and I may pick up a multi vitamin too. My mom goes this week for all her testing she receives every three months for her cancer numbers. Please pray no growth and we can continue to do no treatment for another three months.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some "Drama" with our Drama

As many of my readers know we are heavily involved with a drama group that performs throughout the school year. The drama department that me and another person head up is actually attached to a non-traditional Christian private school that is housed at my church. We have run this drama program for three years with rave reviews from the school, parents, etc. About one month ago we were told that they were moving the drama program to a five day a week class during the school day as opposed to an after school activity and another teacher would be in charge of the program. Wow, kind of a slap in the face. We were not included in any of the conversations about this. Just bam here you go. The school did inform us that we could still do our own drama program after school - same hours, equipment, stage, facility, etc. Which is very nice of them, but in all honesty we built the stage and financed all of our endeavors on our own without their help. So today was the big meeting to reinvent our drama program. New name, etc. We do have the opportunity to perform some of our productions at the bigger theater in town that is in place for our community theater. That is kind of exciting. Some of the board of the community theater came to see our last production of Alice in Wonderland and was thrilled with our youth's performances. They actually wanted us to come and perform it this summer at the community theater but we just couldn't work it out logistically. So, it is kind of like starting from scratch rebuilding our drama program, but of course this time we only answer to ourselves and don't have to please anyone else. Some of the production we are considering for the year is The Jungle Book Musical for the elementary kids and high school will be a choice between Fiddler on the Roof, Into the Woods, or Aladdin.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Garden Has Taken Over Our Lives

For those readers that come to read about homeschooling, chickens, or other items - maybe you should come back in a week or so. This garden has really taken over our lives. But it is sooooo worth it. Last night hubby went down to the garden to dig the remaining potatoes up and today he will get all the remaining carrots. We were so over run with produce that we donated a bunch to our church's food pantry to hand out today. I think the finally tally was 47 cukes, 60 pounds of potatoes and 20 pounds of carrots. For home we harvested another 10 cukes, 30 tomatoes (roma and best boy), two small squash, 6 small onions, and another 17 bell peppers. The amount of bell peppers that we harvested off of 4-5 plants is just crazy. Probably overall all about 80 - 100 peppers. My sister came over last night and we made another pot of salsa to freeze. I also dried a bunch of tomatoes and still have about 20 small tomatoes lingering around the house. Today I need to cut up the bell peppers and freeze them. Today the garden and us will get a rest. Scott has to go to the gallery to do some work and I am babysitting my nephew. Later I plan on taking Grace and my nephew to the library and out to lunch to get us out of the house today. Not much we can do outside with temp in the mid to high 90s with a heat index of even higher. Speaking of heat my poor chickens. I tried putting fans on them yesterday but they just ran and weren't interested in the breeze. I then tried spritzing them with water and they didn't really like that either. Once we get through today I think the rain will be coming and the temps will go down about 10 degrees.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Picking Blueberries

Yesterday was all about blackberries and today is all about blueberries. Last year we picked at a friend's house. This year that same friend called a few days ago to say she has a bumper crop this year and needed people to come pick or they would go bad. The basket photo is just in the beginning. Between myself and hubby we picked almost three gallons of blueberries and there was so much more to pick. Will return at the end of the week or first of next week to pick again. The heat was awful. We started picking at 9:45 and it was already 90 degrees. Once home we froze most of them. Scott is really in to juicing right now and will use alot that way. I like to put them in smoothies. This afternoon I created my own concoction of yogurt, blueberries, 1/2 a banana, a splash of milk and a tablespoon of ice cream. Yummy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gifted Blackberries

This morning after church I was gifted with 3 gallons of blackberries from a fellow church member. This woman is incredible. She is 87 years old and is still out on her scooter picking blackberries, blueberries, etc. off her property. She also helps take care of her 65 year old daughter that has health problems at the moment. I once told her that she needed to write a book with all the knowledge she has of the old ways concerning foraging, baking, food preserving, gardening, etc. She has a recipe for anything. When I take her bucket back to her tomorrow I am going to talk to her about me and Grace going to her house maybe twice a month to learn things from her. Canning scares me! I have never made jam or jellies in my life nor know where to begin. I froze most of the blackberries but hubby wanted me to keep some out to add to his juices he has been preparing with our veggies. Does anyone out there have some good recipes for blackberries? If so please leave me a comment so I will know what to do with all of them.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Whirlwind of a Day

The day didn't start off exactly as planned with me over sleeping. Didn't get up until 9:30. I had some anxious chickens wanting out of their coop by that time. Jumped out of the bed and ran outside in my nightgown to let everyone out and feed them. Next had to wash two buckets of potatoes and some tomatoes and peppers. I needed to get the veggies ready for my sister and a member of my church. Made deviled eggs to get rid of some of the abundance of eggs we have at the moment. Meant to also make brownies but that will have to wait till tomorrow. Four loads of laundry accomplished. Hung two loads on the line but close to impossible to get dry because of the humidity. Clothes hung from 11:30 till 7:00 and the towels were still super damp and some of the shorts were also damp. Finally just had to bring in to put in the dryer to finish up because of threat of rain. I cleaned both bathrooms for the first time with baking soda and vinegar and it did a fab job. Went to dinner with my sister and now babysitting nephew. Very tired. Hubby called and will be home late.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Homemade Salsa

We made almost 5 pints of salsa last night. Our first two harvests of tomatoes had to many blemishes, etc. to scald and use. Finally yesterday Scott was able to harvest enough blemish free tomato to make the salsa. This was my first time ever doing this. It was an incredibly easy process. Believe it or not I had never even scalded and peeled tomatoes before. I wish we would have enough Roma's to make some pizza sauce but our Roma plants didn't do as well as the other tomatoes. The only ingredients needed for this salsa was Mrs. Wages Salsa Mix, 18 medium tomatoes, and 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar. Depending on the remainder of our tomato harvest I might have to make some more of this and freeze it in my mom's freezer. These would make great Christmas gifts. It keeps in the freezer for up to a year.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gardening and Chicken Updates

Today is all about the garden. Scott has already brought up one load of bell peppers (20) and tomatoes (30-40 in various ripening stages). 18 of these tomatoes will be prepared tonight to make freezer salsa. He also came back with a load of red potatoes and carrots. The carrots will be refrigerated for carrot juice (did I mention hubby bought a juicer) and salad toppings. We do plan on drying some of these also, but right now the priority for drying is going to the potatoes.

Above is the finished playpen coop for baby chicks. At this point we will not be building a roosting area. The brooder box is turned on its side and is plenty big enough to house the two chicks at night with the fenced lid on for protection. Last night was there first night out and they did great. These two 5 1/2 week chicks were so much louder and obnoxious than the 6 Buffs we raised inside. The reason we decided to build a more permanent play area was in the Spring we will raise a few more chickens to add to the mix. The more eggs the better.

I haven't taken a picture of the Buffs in a while and wanted to show how much they have grown. They will be 15 weeks old this Saturday and already look like adults. The Buffs are so docile and friendly. When I go in to the cage to do anything they are very curious and want to be right under my feet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Under Construction

Husband is busily building yet another chicken enclosure. Our baby chicks will be 6 weeks on Monday. Even though they seem to think they are all grown up and deserve to stay outside all the time, they are not big enough to go in with the mean old rooster or the very big Buffs. So next best option was to put together a permanent play area that was more secure than the one we have up now. This area is completely enclosed so predators can't get to the babies. Next spring I am sure we will let some eggs hatch again and will need this area at that time also. With a complete enclosure we can leave the house while they are outside and not have to worry about them. Husband is very good at building something out of almost nothing. The only item we needed to purchase was more chicken wire. Already had the wood and rocks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Side Benefit of Gardening

Together time as a family. Today I dried 9 trays of potatoes and once they finished we moved on to bell peppers. We created an assembly line. Scott washed and cored the peppers then handed off to me to slice in pieces. I placed all the pieces in a bowl and Grace placed them on the drying trays. We all assisted in planting during April and May but Scott has been mostly responsible for harvesting and maintenance. I think Scott would definitely be a farmer if we could pay the bills.

I Am So Behind

I have so much to get accomplished today. The weekend was kind of a bust about getting things around the house done. Saturday was a big grocery trip and a birthday party. Yesterday was an unplanned doctor's visit for Grace and then waiting on medication at the pharmacy. Grace gets swimmers ear sometimes twice a year. Very painful. Her ear canal gets so swollen that the drops won't fall down into the ear, this time had to go with oral antibiotics which will take longer to counteract the bacteria in the ear. Last night was hard because she was so fed up with the pain after the past couple of days she was in tears. So today is the push to really get some stuff done:

  • Grace needs to get back to some school like stuff - spending way to much time on the computer. Today she will paint her volcanoes, read, hermit crab study and clean out the hermit crab cage.

  • Hubby is building a small pen for the 5 week old chicks to stay outside. They are driving me crazy. Not quite big enough to go in with the buffs or the game fowl. They need a few more weeks on their own to gain some size to protect themselves if the pecking order becomes a problem, but they are too old to be kept inside even if it is only at night.

  • In the kitchen I need to make some deviled eggs and chocolate chip cookies. We have some red potatoes from the garden that also needed to be sliced, blanched and put in the dehydrator for drying.

  • Hubby needs to go down to the garden today and harvest lots of stuff. Which means I will have lots of time in the kitchen to clean it all and start getting it prepared for drying, or giving to friends and family.

  • Some weekly cleaning needs to take place also, like: upstairs bathroom, washing clothes and hanging to dry, cleaning windows and doors, sweeping and mopping.

  • I am currently go through alot of school papers that need to be sorted and filed as well as start planning our daily subject schedule for school. Believe it or not school will start in 4 weeks for us.