December 27, 2013 - Chop, Chop!

It doesn't seem possible that the end of 2013 is near!  The year has gone way too quickly for me, but I guess time flies faster as one ages.

We had a nice Christmas holiday.  The kids came for a simple Christmas Eve dinner, and presents were opened at that time.  I told them I'd done my duty by hosting the Thanksgiving feast, so I planned on taking it easy this year and enjoying Christmas without all the fuss and fancy.  I set up a build-your-own taco bar and let Costco provide the desserts.  I sat myself down and enjoyed visiting with the family, and it took just minutes to clean up the mess, with only one load of dishes for the dishwasher.  I think I'll make this a tradition, only I would prefer a soup and homemade dinner rolls menu rather than tacos, which were Mr. Granny's choice.

We had some excitement to watch the entire Christmas week.  Our next door neighbor had a professional tree trimmer come and prune her four big sycamore trees, and the two huge English walnut trees.  They really cut the sycamores back drastically.  I'm not so sure it's the best way to do it, as new growth is in the form of weak water sprouts, but it seems to be the accepted way of pruning these giants.  I must say, they are quite ugly in their new nakedness!  On the other hand, I was impressed with the walnut tree pruning.  One of those trees casts morning shade on about half my garden, and had many dead branches that would break and fall onto our property with each windstorm.  I had one fall on my head once, so I had to be especially careful about gardening if the wind was blowing!  Now the garden will get a lot more light, and my body should be safe from falling limbs.

 A worker in the walnut treetop.  Hi, up there.....high up there.

 Walnut trees looking so much better.

 My garden will appreciate having so much of the old growth removed.  I don't think the squirrels will be too happy though.

The last of the four sycamores being pruned.  Or stubbed.  They all end up looking bare naked like the one in the background.

 I wish I had a better photo of all the wood that was removed from six trees.  Her entire front yard is covered about 6' deep or more, with just the driveway left open for the cars.  Even the "lighter" pruning of the walnut trees left an unbelievable amount of branches.  The branches are covering her hedge, and overflowing into our side yard.

This one, as viewed from the bedroom window, looked a bit too close to our house.  I had to go out to see if we had any damage from it, but it missed the house by about 6".

I figured they would be in today with the big chipper to begin clearing up the mess, but they must be taking a long holiday break.  

December 3, 2013 - Thank You, Robbie!

Robbie, from Palm Rae Urban Potager, has been kind enough to give me the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!  Thank you, Robbie.  You also inspire me to add color to my vegetable garden by including flowers for the pollinators and for our personal enjoyment.

Upon receiving this award, I'm supposed to tell seven interesting things about myself.  That's been done many times before, so I won't bore you by being too repetitive.   I'm also supposed to list the blogs that have most inspired me.  I've decided my list will not be passed on, as these bloggers that have most inspired me in the past, are no longer blogging.  I miss them all so very much, but they will always be remembered.

They are, with the date of their last post:

Liisa at May 10, 2013
Caffeinated Mom at July 19, 2010
Momma_S at August 6, 2010
Robin at August 1, 2013
Ribbit at  July 29, 2013
EG (Jeff) at (evidently still active for invited readers only, which doesn't include me)

Gosh, I sure do miss them.

December 2, 2013 - Well Blow Me Down, or Throw Me Down or...

Knock me down.  Whatever.

I was out trying to clean up the latest pine mess from the last wind storm.  I had the big garbage can, and I should have known better than to try to move it without first closing the lid.  As I pushed it forward, the lid swung back toward my feet.  I tripped.  The can came crashing over.  I fell.  Face first.  Right onto the lid that was now on the pavement.  My nose has several cuts, it throbs, and I'll most likely end up with two black eyes.  I hope I heal by Christmas.

November 30, 2013 - The "Empty the Freezers" Challenge Continues

The first two weeks of the "empty the freezers" challenge went exactly as planned.  I stuck strictly to the menus, though only for Mr. Granny the last week or so.  After I gained two pounds from the first week's meals, I ended up tweaking my meals just a bit and got everything under control again.  Even though I ended up removing quite a bit of meat, fish, poultry, veggies and breads from the freezers, I took advantage of a good sale on lean ground beef and ended up freezing 12 pounds of it.  So the only freezer that looks as though it might be getting a bit emptier is the refrigerator freezer.

This week I have to concentrate on using up my glut of beef wieners, ground beef and chicken breasts.

*(f) = from the freezer

11/29 We ate Thanksgiving leftovers

11/30 Crockpot baked beans
Grilled all beef wieners (f)
Corn muffins

12/1 Grilled chicken breast (f)
Green beans (f)
Baked sweet potato
Tossed salad

12/2 Shepherd's pie (ground beef (f), mixed veg (f), mashed potatoes)
Lettuce wedge w/light 1000 Island dressing

12/3 Grilled Salmon (f)
Creamed peas (f) and potatoes
Carrot/raisin salad
Tartar sauce/lemon juice

12/4 Beef (f) stew (peas (f), carrots, celery, potatoes)
French bread

12/5 Fried chicken breasts (f)
Corn (f)
Boiled potatoes
Chicken gravy

12/6  Spaghetti w. meat - sauce and meat (f)
Green beans (f)
Garlic french bread (f)
Tossed salad

November 26, 2011 - Thanksgiving Preparations

The Menu

Roast Turkey
Cedar Planked Salmon (Bryan)
Smoked Crown Roast of Pork (Scott)
Dressing (Amy)
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Butternut Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar
Green bean Casserole (Alicia)
Lion House Dinner Rolls and Butter
Deviled Eggs (Amy)
Layered Salad (Amy)
Grape Salad (Amy)
Cranberry Sauce
Glazed Fresh Apple Cake
Pumpkin Pies (John)

The turkey is thawing in the refrigerator, rolls have been baked, cranberry sauce is chilling and the squash casserole is precooked and ready for the oven.  It looks like everything is under control.  I have to go to the store in the morning to buy apples for the cake, and I'll get it baked in the afternoon.  That just leaves the turkey to roast, the potatoes to cook and mash, and the gravy to make on Thursday.

Rolls, cranberry sauce and squash cooling on the counter.  There just happened to be enough dough left over for a few cinnamon rolls for Mr. Granny's breakfast and snacks.  I might force myself to eat one too  ;-)

Five-year-old Alicyn has requested root beer, vanilla ice cream and bacon for her Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, I will see that she gets it!  I have a feeling I'll be able to talk her into a nice warm roll with butter, too.

November 16, 2013 - A Challenge Accepted

Tiny Gardener threw down the challenge today, and I accepted the challenge.  I will, to the best of my ability, try to empty my freezers and pantry of excess foods between now and Christmas.

The freezers are stuffed.

The laundry room freezer.

The garage freezer.

The refrigerator freezer.  Not quite as stuffed as the others.

I got a head start yesterday, when I took two one-gallon bags of cherries that had been frozen since 2012, and turned them into 12 jars of cherry jelly.  Or cherry syrup.  I don't think it jelled very firm.

So, here's the plan.....

I took a quick inventory of what was on hand (mostly what was on top), and came up with dinner menus for the next 12 days.  Hopefully that will take me to Thanksgiving without going to the grocery store.  After that, there will be a few days of eating leftovers, then I'll take another inventory of the freezers.

11/16 Grilled salmon (freezer)
                Green beans (freezer)
                Scalloped potatoes
                Tartar sauce/lemon juice

11/17 Grilled chicken breast (freezer)
                Buttered peas (freezer)
                Baked butternut squash (storage)
                Tossed salad w. tomato

11/18 Pizza: pepperoni, pizza sauce and peppers (freezer)
                Mixed fruit cup

11/19 Roast turkey tenderloin (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes and  turkey gravy
               Waldorf salad
                Cranberry sauce
                Rhubarb (freezer) Pie

11/20 Grilled hamburgers (freezer) on              
                Homemade hamburger buns (freezer)
                French fries
                Lettuce and tomato

11/21 Hot turkey sandwiches (leftovers) on
                Homemade bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/22 Chicken fried steaks (freezer)
                Mashed potatoes with country gravy
                Green beans & summer squash (freezer)
Sliced tomatoes

11/23 Chicken Mozzarella (freezer) with
                Marinara sauce (freezer)
                Mixed veggies (freezer)
                Whole grain spaghetti
                Garlic French bread (freezer)
                Tossed salad

11/24 Pork roast (freezer)
                Pork gravy
                Roasted carrots
                Roasted potatoes
                Waldorf salad

11/25 Chinese Pork & Noodles (leftover pork) with
                Hard cooked egg; chives; soy sauce
                Mixed fruit cup

11/26 Bacon (freezer)
                Scrambled eggs
                Hash brown potatoes (freezer)
                Homemade bread, toasted (freezer)
                Cinnamon rolls
                Chilled peaches

11/27 Chili with beans (hamburger freezer)

11/28 Thanksgiving

Anyone else want to join in on the challenge?

November 15, 2013 - Same Old, Same Old

Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking.  Nothing worth writing about is going on in my life lately, just the same old, same old.  Boredom.  Blah.  It's not even winter yet, and I'm yearning for spring.

Yesterday I was so bored I decided to bake bread.  I've been making all of our bread lately.  Mr. Granny will only eat bread made with white flour, so I was making his and buying whole grain bread for myself, but after I happened upon this simple bread recipe from Hickory Holler Farm, I bought myself that perforated French bread pan and began making the 2 loaves of French and one loaf of pan bread from her recipe each week.  The bread tastes soooo good!  I love using the regular loaf for toast and, of course, the French loaves are great for garlic bread or just for dunking into big bowls of homemade soup.  Anyway, boredom made me decide to bake and fill the freezer.  I used my regular bread recipe, doubled, for one loaf of bread and a pan each of hamburger and hot dog buns.  Then I made two loaves of french bread and one loaf of...well, it's still French bread but in a bread pan, a must-have for my morning toast.

Of course, I cannot resist eating this good bread.  DUH!  I've taken to weighing myself every morning, thanks to the bread.  I've set a "danger" point where I'm still a couple of pounds below my desired top weight, and when I hit it I only have to watch what I eat for a day or two to get back to my lower desired weight.  Since I've begun baking and consuming all that bread, I've hit that "danger" point about once a week!  No gardening to keep me in shape, comfort food weather, white bread.....

I was going to go out and rake the front yard today.  We had a little wind and a bit of rain last week, so the pine tree mess is back.  Not even close to as bad as it was after that last big wind storm, but just rather tatty looking.  Then I see this "Severe Weather" warning on my sidebar.  I clicked on it, and sure enough...........


Sigh.  I might as well wait to clean up the mess, because it will be another big one.

November 5, 2013 - Harvest Monday on Tuesday

I haven't been very good about blogging about my harvests the past couple of weeks, but I have had a few pounds to add to the totals for the year.

 Tomatoes that have ripened inside, have been weighed and added to the total.  Last week there were just enough to make some seasoned tomato sauce for the freezer, and these will soon be ripe enough to go into the pot for another batch of sauce.

I'm almost at the end of the tomato season.  This is all that's left to ripen.

Yesterday I did dig a few small parsnips as I was cleaning the leaves from along the fenceline.  They weren't in very good shape, evidently the root knot nematodes have now moved into that area of the garden.  I got just over 12 ounces from the four parsnips.

I picked a lone sugar snap pea yesterday, and ate it right there on the spot.  It was so good!  I still see quite a few blossoms, but they just aren't forming pods.  We're getting very close to having a hard freeze, so I hope they will at least give me a meal before it hits.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

Other than those peas, two small cabbage plants and the baby spinach, there's nothing left in the garden.  It's almost rocking chair time!

Total for the year (to date) is 1007 pounds.  I'll probably end the year at around 1010 pounds once the remaining tomatoes ripen.

Visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others have harvested!

November 4, 2013 - Wind Mess Cleanup

 Luckily the weather was sunny, rather warm and relatively calm yesterday, so I could begin cleaning up all the mess from the previous day's windstorm.

I raked it all up and bagged it, then used the leaf blower for the final cleanup.  Unfortunately this will all go to the landfill, as it was too full of large twigs and branches to chop up for the compost pile.  I do so need a chipper-shredder!

 All cleaned up again.....for now.  

 I also got a new piece of 4 mil plastic for the spinach bed, cut and stapled on the end pieces, then used one large piece to cover the back, top and front.  I put in four more hooks for extra bungee straps to hold it down during windstorms, and it's all weighted down on the front edge to allow for easy removal by just rolling it up on that 1x2 board that's stapled to the front.  The spinach got a good sprinkling from the watering can, then was covered up for the night.

The patio and the side yard mess will have to wait for another day.  I was too tired to tackle it.  At least this is mostly leaves, except for a few large limbs from the neighbor's sycamore, so I can pick them up with the mower and dump them in the compost.  

November 3, 2013 - Goal Met and Wind Woes

My 1000 pound harvest goal has been met, before weighing another tray of tomatoes that are still ripening, and a few parsnip yet to be dug.  There's no way I can top last year's 1040 pounds, but 2013 was definitely a success nonetheless.  If my onions and tomatoes had performed a bit better, it could have been my best year ever.

Wind woes, oh my!  I spent a day last week cleaning up the pine mess after one of our all too frequent wind storms.  I raked out the flower beds and the entire front yard, swept the driveway and front porch, and chopped all of the leaves with the leaf sucker vacuum.  Everything looked so nice and tidy.  Then yesterday this happened......

 Leaves, pine boughs, pine needles and pine cones......

Pine mess and neighbor's leaves everywhere!

 The patio is covered with dirt and littered with leaves.

The back yard is quite clean, as the leaves all blew up against the side fence where they will be easily vacuumed up.  The plastic covering the spinach bed took a bit of a beating though.  I had removed it earlier in the day, during a short rain, then bungeed it down to keep the wind from drying it out.  I guess I should have used a few more bungee cords.  I need to buy a new sheet of plastic and do a proper one piece cover this week.

The mess I have to clean up today doesn't compare to what happened elsewhere around the Tri-Cities area, where there were downed trees and power lines, and our newest elementary school, under construction since June, collapsed. 

We have always suffered from high winds in this area, but I really think they have been more frequent this past year than ever before.  I know I've had to do much more cleanup than in the past.  I'm surprised our pine trees aren't naked by now, they've lost so many branches!

October 28, 2013 - Basking in the Cuteness

A couple of people have expressed their concern because of my lack of blogging recently.  I'm still alive, people!  It's just that the gardening has slowed drastically, and I'm bored to the point of playing a lot of solitaire and Scrabble with my computer.

We're expecting our first hard freeze tonight, so I've picked the green tomatoes and they are ripening in the house.  Weight totals are added to my sidebar as they are moved from trays to kitchen window.   Just six pounds to go before I hit 1000 pounds of garden produce for the year! 

I still had one pepper plant, so I pulled off all the peppers and got them into the freezer yesterday.  

There weren't many carrots surviving after Annie and the squirrels tried digging up the bed, so I pulled them all and had delicious baby carrots for dinner last night.  

Some of the flowers are blooming prettier than they did all summer, but I fear today is the last time I'll be enjoying them.

We're in the middle of another big windstorm, so the pine branches have been joined by the neighbor's leaves to litter our yard.  The leaves were so deep on the front porch this morning, I had to dig around in them to find the newspaper!  I had moved the lettuce cage over to cover the spinach seedlings, and stapled on plastic to keep the little plants warm. This morning the entire cage had blown off the bed and was up against the back fence.  I had to go out and staple on some heavy boards to (hopefully) hold it in place.  I may have to find some tie downs!

Spinach seedlings (last week).  They aren't much bigger yet, so I hope they survive the winter.  Yesterday I found two huge slugs sliming themselves all over the plants.  Today I noticed the squirrels had again dug holes throughout the bed once the cage blew off.

I had Mr. Granny light the pilot on our propane fireplace insert last night.  I'm preparing for the oncoming frigid temperatures, and ready to plop my body into the recliner in front of a roaring (or maybe a simmering) fire.  In the meantime, I've been basking in some real cuteness.......

Great-granddaughter Yaya (Amaya) is three weeks old today.

October 10, 2013 - The Garden in October

 It's still touch and go with the sugar snap peas.  The vines blew off of the trellis during our last windstorm, but there are some blossoms showing on the few upright vines.  I see just one pod developing so far.  

 The raspberry canes have been transplanted.  Eventually this should be a more productive bed than the old bed, as it is nearly twice as long as the old 8' bed.  Right now the canes share their spot with carrots, onions and the snap peas, but they'll have all that space to themselves before spring arrives.

 There are still a lot of green tomatoes on the three remaining plants, but I'm only finding a bit of color on four or five a week now.  Night temperatures have been dropping into the high 30s this week, so a frost is probably not far off.

 The two new beds have been built, but the far bed still needs some soil and compost to bring the level even with the top.  I put a few spinach transplants into the near raised bed, but next spring both beds will hold the tomato plants.  There are still two broccoli plants giving me a few side shoots, the recently transplanted strawberries are looking strong and healthy.  

 The north garden is looking quite empty, but many of next year's planting beds have been cleaned up and prepared.  

 The east garden is empty, except for a few parsnips and nasturtiums along the fence at the left, and two or three lettuce plants, along with a few bunching onions in the net covered bed.  The ground is littered with walnuts from the neighbor's tree.  Too bad they're wormy and unusable.

 A view of the north garden from the patio.

The garden shed has been cleaned up, and most of the tools have been cleaned and stored for next year.  I've been busy washing buckets and containers for winter storage.

Yaya update:

 Great grandbaby Amaya Christine (Yaya) with proud daddy Aaron.

All dressed up for her trip home from the hospital.  Mama says she's doing fine, a very good baby, just eats, sleeps and poops!

October 7, 2013 - Harvest Monday (Updated)

The weather has been too cold for them to ripen, so I harvested most of the peppers and pulled the plants.  There were about 27-1/2 pounds of them here, and my daughter took 5 pounds of them home with her.  The remaining peppers were all donated to the food bank.

I'm still getting a few tomatoes.  I manage to get about two quarts of tomato juice a week now, just enough for drinking, but not enough to bother with canning.

My year to date total is now at 981 pounds.  I might get another 20 pounds of tomatoes, but it's doubtful.  

Maybe I could add this 6 pounds 12 ounces to my harvest total......

  I just got back from the hospital, where my new great-granddaughter was born just 2 hours ago.  Welcome to the big world, little (Amaya) Yaya !  

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday.

Update....about 4 hours after the birth

Yaya with her mother, Alicia. They look alike, don't they?

September 30, 2013 - Harvest Monday

The first day of autumn found our temperature dropping by 30 degrees overnight.  The past week has been cold and rainy, with daytime temps running ten degrees or more below our normal end of September weather.  Tomatoes are being ripened on counters and windowsill, most of the peppers are refusing to turn color, and the battle with powdery mildew on the cucumbers has been lost.  All of the beans have been picked, and the vines removed.  The few decent parsnips of the year were harvested early to make room for the new raspberry bed.  Windstorms have battered marigolds and pepper plants, causing a lot of stem breakage.  I try to get out to do garden cleanup between rainstorms, and it's going quite well....but every bone and muscle in my body feels it.

Harvest Recap for the Week of September 23 - September 29


Total for week:  40 pounds
Total year to date: 948 pounds

There is very little left to harvest now, so I'm going to do an "almost the end of season" tally.  I'll still have a few tomatoes to pick, a lot of green peppers and, with luck, a few small carrots.  The snap peas are still iffy, but blooming now.  The following totals are rounded to the nearest pound, so add up to 954 pounds, 6 pounds more than the actual total.

Beans, bush - 35 pounds (final)
Beans, pole - 50 pounds (final)
Beets - 7 pounds (final)
Beet Greens - 3 pounds (final)
Broccoli - 10 pounds
Cabbage - 15 pounds (final)
Carrots - 12 pounds
Corn - 23 pounds (final)
Cucumbers - 45 pounds
Garlic - 1 pound (final)
Herbs - 3 pounds (I didn't weigh most of the herbs I harvested)
Lettuce - 23 pounds
Melons - 29 pounds 
Onions - 32 pounds (final)
Parsnips - 3 pounds 
Peas, shelling - 7 pounds (final)
Peas, sugar snap - (blossoming now, a harvest is iffy)
Peppers (hot) - 1 pound (3 potted plants given to son Scott to try to grow through the winter)
Peppers (sweet) - 80 pounds
Potatoes - 73 pounds (final)
Radishes - 1 pound (final)
Raspberries - 12 pounds (final)
Rhubarb - 6 pounds (final)
Spinach - 7 pounds
Squash (summer) - 101 pounds (final)
Squash (winter) - 136 pounds (final)
Strawberries - 38  pounds (final)
Tomatoes - 201 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday.