Wednesday, 31 December 2008

And.......uncovering the fireplace......

And.......uncovering the fireplace......
A lovely surprise. :)

All clean!

Fitting that their first snack in the farm house is apples. They were contentedly munching for a good 20 minutes, which is how I managed to get everything swept and the downstairs windows washed. The boiler guy was up and down and in and out draining radiators, but the kids were amused. I put together their toy bins Nana got them (me) for Christmas and then we explored.

What I found in the "not really a room" secret space I will post later this week. I just about teared up with glee. It was like old house karma cashed in. I hope we can find a way to put it back......I know, I don't blog for a week and then I leave with a cliffhanger, unfair!

Dearest is staying at the farm all alone this week and we just bring him food and more blankets (thus the effort to get the fireplace working and I wouldn't be surprised if he moves his bed to the main room.....). He's making progress on the heat situation, the bathroom issues, and such. We miss him terribly, but are faring well packing and baking and cleaning.

I was contacted this week through facebook by a very long lost friend. That plus packing reminded be to be incredibly grateful for Dearest being in my life. We'll be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary on Sunday. Yes, TEN. Time sure does fly. Of all the times I moved as a kid, they were all sudden, sad, and abruptly cutting off with established relationships. As an adult, we've moved around Des Moines, but always because we wanted to and because it meant adventure and promise. I found the Dutch hex Dearest's grandma gave us on our first anniversary, it happens to feature the colors I picked out for the farm house. We never hung it here at the haunted mansion because we were pretty sure the neighbor delinquents (the 8 year olds behind us) would use it to perfect their egg aim. Anyway, sorry for the ramble, its been a long day.

And yes, I'm on facebook now. And yes, if you're my "friend" you can see the photo she tagged me in and check out my 1990 3-4 inch tall bangs. Geesh. I think there's as much product (specifically Aquanet) in my hair in that photo as I'ved used in the last 15 years! *(Edited to add said photo....I am in the front row, right side.....):

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Day 2 of Farm Livin'!!

We took possession of the farm on Monday. MP has done some cleaning, but is mostly just still watching the little ones and making sure I get fed. I stayed overnight yesterday (and tonight) - mainly to make sure the heat situation was under control. I'm glad I stayed . . . I noticed that the downstairs (heated by the brand new hot water boiler) couldn't climb above 60 degrees all day, and dropped to 50 slowly over night. I watched the boiler cycle a few times and found that the temp was to heat the water to 145 when it dropped in temp to 115. Way too cold. It's now set to heat the water to 200 when it drops to 180 - first floor still isn't warm, and I need more blankets. Brrrr! We're going to have some more radiators added to the system. I spent the evening fixing 2 basement doors that the previous occupants had broken while moving stuff out, and insulating the wall of plywood in the basement that used to be a drive in garage - seems to have helped the basement a lot.

We've been lucky not to have had any significant water damage on the main floors, but we did have some pipes break - we now have no water running to the 2nd story. Boiler guy noticed the water pouring into the basement when he was in to put the boiler in before we had taken possession. He found a shut off valve quickly so no damage to speak of (that we've found) apart from the pipes. If I get lucky, the damage will be to the portion of the pipes I have easy access to and I can cut them off and run new line to them from the basement without too much trouble - this may be the case as that is the most likely place for the pipe to have frozen - I can see where the insulation should have gone, not sure where it went : ).

Tomorrow I buy some propane or kerosene space heaters to use in case of emergency, and (hopefully) start tearing out the first floor bathroom.

Other stuff . . . internet is ok with wildblue satellite, but VPN is slow. Telecommuting will be rough.

MP's laptop will be traded with a comparable but less marketable version of her current laptop rather than spend the 300 - 400 to repair. It's a good trade on both ends, but MP is a litle sad - she was attatched to that thing.

Temperature check!

Outside - 22 degrees

Main floor shows 60 degrees on both thermostats - we often set our thermostats this low at our old house, but we can make it hotter if we want - this is as hot as the 1st floor can get at the moment. shiver but it could be worse so no complaints.

Basement was super cold under the addition (no plumbing there), but much warmer under the main part of the house. I turned on two of the space heaters down there just in case, but I think it would have been fine without them. I need to get some thermometers down there - running the space heaters will get expensive soon.

It's lonely out here - I'm eager to get the new bathroom and the hot water installed to MP and the kids can start staying here with me.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Day

My mac powerbook broke. The power plug stick thing broke off in the plug hole. Gah. Panic. Stupid.

I watched Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer for the first time. How I missed that childhood classic for 31 years is completely beyond my understanding.

Dearest and Lil'Bug made a snow dragon and a sitting snowman.

Stam's chocolate was consumed. Lunch was had at Nana and Pawpaw's. Yummy.

Read aloud Spiderwick book 3. Thank you Uncle Jason!

That's about it. Simple, quiet, lovely.

I'm blogging from Dearest's work laptop while cuddling sleeping nursling, but I won't be updating much more until my computer is ameliorated. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

speaking of heartwarming . . .

Heat is officially on in the new house! Part arrived and was installed today.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve! aka Vaguely Related Heartwarming Photos.......

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

When it rains it snows. . .

More good luck - the propane kit didn't arrive, so still only the cookstove heating the main floor and space heaters in the basement (furnace for the second floor is working fine). If it comes in tomorrow they'll install it then. If not it won't get there until Friday and we'll have another few days of this. At least it's warmed up to the twenties outside . . .

Stuff and things.

Boiler install wasn't completed yesterday - wrong LP conversion kit had been shipped. Should be installed today.

Also, when the boiler guys got there to start the install, two of the space heaters we had brought down had blown breakers (despite being set on 'low' (750W) setting AND having each on a separate circuit). They said the temp in the basement was 35 degrees.

just a sec . . . .water freezing point . . . Fahrenheit . . . 33 mumble mumble . . .so 35 minus 33 . . .


So we had a whole degree to spare - no worries!

The last few days have been the coldest so far this year (highs in the negatives) if another breaker had blown we've had been at freezing soon after. The boiler guys are leaving a propane heater there tonight to supplement the space heaters just to be sure we don't have problems.

It's been a rough week trying to manage that situation - I can't express how happy I am that the boiler will be in today. I've been lying awake at night worried about freezing pipes half a state away. Basement pipes wouldn't be a huge deal (not that it would be nice) but we'd replace them and move on. I've been more worried about the upstairs - the plaster is all intact or repaired in this house, floors and woodwork are done, etc. If that were water damaged from freezing pipes . . . . I suppose we'd be able to fix it eventually, but it would be a big blow to the pocketbook and to morale, which is generally lower than it should be at the moment.

On the upside I talked to the family yesterday evening and they are planning to be out on saturday. We'd hoped for yesterday, but the cold snap is causing them just as many problems as it's causing us. So various errands and Christmas prep today, then Christmas eve and Christmas, then move prep on friday and actual moving stuff and taking possession on saturday - not a bad schedule. I'll get the plumbing on bathroom number one torn out and fixed and make a final call on the plumbing in bathroom number two, then get the hot water heater installed, then move down the family! Good times.

I'll get MP to add some heartwarming yet vaguely related photos to this so it's not so boring to read.

Go Team Stamps!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

only 98 million miles . . .

Between our farmhouse and what amounted to pretty much the only heat source for a few days. The wood cookstove the current family uses just wasn't cutting it with all the wind and the cold snap - add to the equation the cracked boiler and furnace with no ductwork - the pipes they were a-freezin'!

We drove down to put the space heaters in the basement during the ice storm that was making life fun for everyone a few days ago. When we got there I broke off an icicle from a leaking pipe - about 5 minutes later the icicle was back - I'm glad we decided to make the drive.

So current state - boiler to be installed monday. Furnace up and running yesterday. Wood stove (which actually does put off enough heat for the first floor) won't be gone until the boiler is up. In the meantime we put space heaters in the basement so the pipes down there won't freeze again.

deep breaths. repeat - "the pipes won't freeze", "the pipes won't freeze" . . .

So the emergency appears to be mitigated - we are releived, and thankful. Thanks to bluegate farms for the offer of help!

Friday, 19 December 2008

What our life looks like right now......

Blueberry sat up for the first time from crawling position this week. This photo is of the 3rd time she did it!

So serious, this one.

Our house has been invaded by self multiplying boxes. Which means loads of wild fun for a four year old! Her energy is amazing. She's been helping me pack and bake. I can't believe we take possession of the farm next week and next week is Christmas and then after that I get to see a few friends that I haven't in almost 5 years (or more!). It'll be like a debate team reunion only without Paul.
See? She's up to no good. No good at all.

She's teaching the little one how to make faces at the camera. Good times.

Blueberry is also cutting fangs. Just like her sister, her first teeth will be vampire. Oh how the time flies. Also, the bow is merely a tribute to her amazing hair that, even at 6 inches long, will not lay down. Ha!

Oh Christmas Tree!

I am really enjoying some of our new traditions. We may not get a "real" tree this year, but a couple days ago Dearest brought home this rosemary tree and Lil'Bug found it the next morning and was so excited that Santa brought her a tree after all!

We will be eating some might fine "dark days" bread!

Swamp Fire in a Bottle

A few years ago I was asked what is in "Cajun" seasoning. The store blends never get it just right they said. This is funny to me since my very Cajun family always uses store blends. My favourite is Slap Ya' Mama. The ingredients are so simple and no MSG. One day we ran out! It was the end of the world until I decided to give making our own a try.

Mmmmmm. So good it's burns. Kosher salt, cracked white pepper, cayenne, granulated garlic, and a wee bit of turbinado. It's not the same ingredient set as SYM, but it is absolutely divine on broiled Iowa chops, steak, chicken, bread, pizza, soup, cheese, salad, my licking get the idea.......

It will be one of our very first add ons.........

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Spent the day yesterday with my Dad at the farmhouse getting the basement sealed up and the heat turned on. Pipes had started freezing - the family living there now will be out next week, in the meantime we'd hoped their wood burning stove would be enough heat . . . no such luck.

But some good news - no damage from the pipes, boiler is on and working, furnace will be operational by the end of today. This is work I'd hoped to do myself but the cold snap forced my hand a little so we're having a local heating/cooling place run the new duct work for the furnace and get the boiler operational.

**edit - Good news! The boilers cracked and we have to buy a new one! Or the whole house will freeze! @$%^

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Busy-ness of Moving

Now with the December open house out of the way, we begin the messy work of packing our thousands of books. It is funny really. We each have a bags worth of clothes and then hundreds or thousands of books. Even the kiddos.

I will also pack up the good dishes and breakables.

Then there is the business of connecting and disconnecting utilities and whatnot. Working on those.

Plus grades had to be reported (for my job).

In the mess of all that there is Christmas. Yay!

When I finally got a moment to reflect on it, this is the first time we have moved where we did not just move in the day of the closing. It is strange to think that the house is ours, but we can't move in just yet. It's like being 40 weeks pregnant. Will you go to 43 weeks? Probably not, but its a messy uncomfortable time with a whole lot of to do's!

Moving our food stores will probably be the most complicated thing we do. We have two deeps freezes full of meet and veg. When you move a freezer you have to let it sit unplugged for 48 hours for the compressor to do something. The details of that elude me, but I do know that it is important. So it looks like we'll be getting a third freezer, a larger one. Then we'll move all the goods into that one.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Last night was the coldest moon. It was stunning, bright, and bold against the icing snow.

Tonight the sky held low clouds, blazing pink overhead at dusk. Not a horizon sunset, but a canopy of candy. It was amazing.

As we approach the solstice, the nights get longer, but we hope for the turn towards Spring. We spent the afternoon looking at appliances and making holiday cards. I graded papers, tended the nursling Blueberry, watched movies with Lil'Bug, and listened to the twinkle box play carols. We will begin the move into the new house just after the holidays, just after the seasonal change is officially winter and we begin the push towards Spring. It is incredibly symbolic for us, as this is an enormous change in our lives and has revitalized hope within each of us in our home. Even our sickly bird stopped plucking her feathers and began a proper molt (after 7 years!).

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wow, this is really late coming out of the Draft box.

the rules: "Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Change all the answers so that they apply to you.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I have MAD wrapping skillz. I can get really crazy with the foof and glue gun too. I learned from a master chocolatier and those chocolate guys really know how to doll up a classy package. My MIL does bags though and sometimes we just use those.

2. Real tree or Artificial? We had a real tree once when I was a kid. I was very allergic. It may not have been the tree though, and my intention is to get a real tree from now on. In fact, I sold my big pretty fake tree last summer. Real trees are awesome.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually, right after Thanksgiving. I LOVE decorating the tree. I love stringing lights. My fantastic tip: get icicle lights (if you string lights and don't have a pre-lit). It's easier to cover the tree, you only use 20 ft, and you can move the strands around to fill gaps. I've never had a tangle issue and I just dump them into a crate at the end of the year (no fancy wrapping and twisting).

4. When do you take the tree down? When the issue becomes one. Once it was in May. ;)

5. Do you like eggnog? Fresh from a local farm! I love eggnog lattes, ice cream, frozen yogurt, candy, bon bons, cake, soda, oh man I love eggnog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My teddy bear. When I was two. It was a gift from a cousin and I doubt much thought went into it, but that bear got me through some hard times. Yes, I still have him.

My favourite gift as an adult? My camera. Oh man. It is still awesome.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Husband. He doesn't like spending money or surprises. He likes very specific things. This year I got him really warm socks to go winter hiking in. Two pairs. I gave them to him a couple days ago and he's worn nothing else on his feet since. Seriously, socks. Who knew?

8. Easiest person to buy for? My daughters.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No. But I am looking for one. We had one as a kid that I loved that was carved wood and had sticks and leaves glued to it. I used to want one of those white porcelain with gold paint sets, but I am over that. I would like to make one next year.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Hand deliver, handmade. We started making ours yesterday.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Not so much received, as didn't. One year my parents forgot to wrap my gift(s) and I got nothing. No one noticed (but me, obviously). I was old enough not to say anything or cause drama, but it really made me sad. Later that week I was looking for something and found the gift, a whole collection of Margurite Duras novels. The whole family was horrified about that happening, but then they thought it was funny. I'm not sure funny is how I would label that memory.

One year I was the only one in the family with a job, I was 19, so I gave my siblings money to buy presents with and took them to the mall. They bought presents for everyone but me. I didn't really expect them to, I guess, but no one in the family ever said thank you either.

Actually my husband thinks it is sad/funny that all my holiday memories end with a tragic/sad punchline. Like, I once starred in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it was a blast, a worked really hard and got rave reviews from everyone......but I am not sure my family came to see it.

You get the idea. Still I love Christmas! I love giving gifts, making gifts, and watching others feel loved. Now that I have my own family, I feel loved as well. My husband always makes sure I do. I love that man!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Muppet Christmas Carol!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? All year round. This year, I'm not sure we've even started.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. Never. It breaks my heart when people do this with the things I make them.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pecan pie and cream cheese pecan pie (the kind where the layers switch places while it cooks). I once ate an entire pie one year while waiting for everyone to arrive for dinner. One of the guests caught me, left (I thought to snitch), but returned with two forks. Well, yes, I was eating it with my hands. How awful is that? Later someone was setting out the pies and the missing pie was finally noticed.

The following year, M. gave me two forks for Christmas. She is so funny!

16. Lights on the tree; colored or white?
colored, lots. I love all the colors. In fact, when looking for colored lights to buy, I seek out the 5-7 color ones as opposed to the 4. It's just not the same with out purple!

17. Favorite Christmas song? Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Just to Grandma and Grandpa's across town.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Nope. But when I do, its usually recited with a Cajun accent.

20. Angel on the tree top of tree or a star? Star. I know the secret to getting it to fit. ;)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Nutcracker, lots of toys and fun stuff., so its easy to throw everything on and claim the theme is Nutcracker.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham. I love pig meat.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? To see my girls smile on Christmas morning. Also, to start moving!

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? no idea. this is a long meme, so maybe no one.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Writer's Blogk. Geesh.

With all the exciting things going on, I sit here with idle fingers?

So, couple things. Hobbit (wonder pup) is finally doing better. Yay.

We packed our first boxes that go straight to the farm instead of storage! Woot.

No, I did not finish grading stuff early. I am still plugging away. Not much left though, enough to make me stressed.

My kitchen smells funny and I ate Chinese food at the mall (ie, nauseous......) so my kitchen will still smell funny tomorrow.

Open house went poorly. Gah. BUT I finally got the listing up on! Crossing fingers that someone from, say, CA, will see it and be all, "What? A mansion like that for only 199,000$ Seriously? Bad neighborhood whatever. Ever driven through LA? Yo, sign me some mortgage papers, yo." and buy our house for Christmas. That's my Christmas wish.

Good news. Pressure test for farm propane GOOD! Except on the range and stove. Secretly I was hoping for that. I was dreading cooking on them. Perhaps it was my inner Yoda that was telling me that they were actually not working/dangerous...... NEW range and stove for Mama Podkayne. Glee! The Force is with me!

That's it for this week. We move soon. I must pack. I am missing park days something fierce and I am thinking about having a moving tea for my park day friends. Thoughts?

Friday, 5 December 2008

It's That Time of the Year.....Again.

Yes. It is finals stretch at work. Which means I have finals to grade, revisions to grade, last week's assignments, quiz corrections, and grades to calculate and submit. For 3 classes (about 55 students total). It's actually a relief to get done. I am grateful to be able to have such an awesome job. Next semester I am only teaching two classes, both Literature (Children's and SciFi), and I am very excited.

Sunday we also have an open house, so on top of grading I must clean, clean, clean.

Today I also must finish making phone calls for the impending move. (Closing happened last night!)

I figure to add to the chaos maybe I should bake bread and make a turkey feast. Why not? I am already operating at maximum capacity......

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Dish on Internet

Ok, so Internet at the farm is a problem and that is a problem for moi since I teach online classes.

So it boils down to either dial up (gasp, the horror!) or satellite. The dish people don't seem to know where to send me when I say Internet only, I'm not interested in TV. I'm not. We watch movies, play Wii, and sometimes I watch a crime drama on my laptop. So I have spent 45 minutes on hold collectively only to be disconnected repeatedly.

I'm going to try again after lunch. Advice and feedback if any of you all have dish Internet would be welcome.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Septic What?

The idea was planted in my head that I might have to change laundry soap/toilet paper/cleaning products because of the farm's septic system.

Well, that snowballed into me researching septic systems and how they work which led to making a few calls which led to finding out that our new farm's system hasn't been inspected in a long time according to the regional health inspector.

Crap. (See, I can be funny.....)

So today, I am working on this problem.

And I also ask......what other things are commonplace, common knowledge to you farm folk that I might be missing? What other surprises are in store for me and mine?

A tale of five one.

In the last couple years we have been touring farms, reading about farms, produce, and livestock. We stepped up the study when we finally put our home on the market in September and suddenly, graciously, we received invitations to several farms. I meant to write about these visits when they happened, but alas.....

The first one, the home and garden of fellow unschooler Meg and her family. 3 acres right outside of town, nestled between neighbors, but far enough out to feel like a secret world. We tagged and let loose monarchs, roasted marshmallows, and picked white peaches by moonrise light. It was magical. I loved talking breastfeeding, unschooling, and history with Meg and her family. Her kiddos are older than Lil'Bug but they were all fast friends. What I came away with is that I aspire to be Meg. Her garden was overflowing and messy, her kids happy and curious, and she could count the stars if she wished.

The next farm we visited was 10 acres to the West of town. Close to a major road, lots of wide open space, a tree stand at the back. Lots of lawn, lots of wind. Their garden was overflowing as well. We shared a meal and talked gardening. Good time. What I came away with there was that the home is just as important and how your family lives inside and out must be comfortable and work for us. They built their own home and it is beautiful. We also got a feel for what our 10 acre minimum actually played out. We decided on the drive home that to make the farm do what we want, we'd need more than 10 and we wanted a water feature to draw wildlife.

Then we visited Sugar Creek Family farm. Another 10 acre farm, but this one is/was a working CSA. We toured her garden, and chicken set up. Ate amazing food and let Lil'Bug get messy. We went back later to learn how to butcher and pluck chickens. We added to our list of requirements good fencing and more distance from neighbors.

The next farm we visited was a 40 acre horse farm. They had a neglected apple tree to harvest, but also a pond, pasture, timber and nice out buildings. That farm was an hour and 45 minutes away from Des Moines. We adjusted how far we were willing to drive from home to work. Not quite that far. ;) We had a nice visit and tour, met some of the neighbors and our host's family. Picked so many apples!

Last year and this we attended the Farm Crawl. An unschooler from our local yahoo list posted the event and we toured and toured! This year I paid intense attention to the Blue Gate CSA because they farm like we intend to, on a property most like what we wanted, with many of the elements (like bees) that we have our hearts set on, AND our new home is nearby in the same county. This past Saturday we visited with Jill and Shaun again, without the busy chaos of a crowd! It was a delightful time. Lil'Bug harassed their cats a bit though. We are working on that with her, she just gets so excited about animals.

I'd like to add, Blue Gate's eggs.....we scrambled them up for breakfast and Dearest and Lil'Bug thought I had added cheddar cheese to them. I did no such thing. The yokes were orange and the flavour....cheesy! Wow. I can't wait to have fresh eggs of our own.

The plus one? Ours. We close either tomorrow or Thursday? Wahoo!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Haunted Mansion

Cousin D. took this photo in October. Have I never posted a picture of the outside of our city home? Huh. Well, here it is!

This is what we woke up to this morning. Lovely, wet, slippery, sticky snow. It will be gone by Tuesday. Such is life in Iowa!

More of Our Week in Photos

Lil'Bug's first ceramic at art class. She was defiant and set on painting the owls feathers blue even though the project was supposed to use 7 different colors of brown for the feathers and belly. It was her first testing of the teacher, my guess. The teacher just smiled and complimented her creative color choice! Score. She's a keeper, someone who understands kids, and nurtures my kids creativity.

Thank you EC for stating somewhere on your photography site that better pictures of children could easily be had by setting the focus on their eyes. It just keeps on getting better! What you can't see in this photo is that her hair sticks about 6 inches straight up. I keep thinking that the longer it grows, the more likely it will get heavy enough to lay down. Nope. So we put a token bow in the upshoot and claim intention. Ha.

Aunt Deedle with Blueberry. We had such a good time with her. I wish she'd come more often.

The bread I made. We ate it with bean soup today. Not worth 24 hours worth of work. This week I am testing a 3 hour bread.

Friday, 28 November 2008

More Catching Up With Photos

This was our Halloween ensemble a la Lil'Bug. She wanted to be a spider. Then she wanted me to be the web and Blueberry to be the egg sack hanging on the web. It worked out pretty well I think. I used a Mei Tei for the egg sack, stretched webbing over a hula hoop and purchased a spider outfit for the tot.

We went roller skating soon after her birthday. She was not a fan, but had a pretty good time with friends anyway.

We've been building. Lil'Bug asked me to include this picture in the blog. She's just become aware of the blog and is excited, curious, and wants to participate in content. Cool.

Giving Thanks for Food!

Every meal that we say grace Lil'Bug says, when it is her turn, "I AM THANKFUL FOR OUR FOOD!"
I am too.
The last couple weeks I have taken pictures of a couple beautiful food moments.

This is the very successful attempt at preparing a Shank Boil. I altered the recipe just a bit. I used a Dutch Oven, skipped the parsnips, and instead of cooking on the stove top, used my oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours. Good stuff. One of the best beef meals that we've done from our grass fed local side of beef, ironically on of the cheapest cuts and I was so nervous about it I set aside the cut with the tongue, heart, and liver. Sooooooo very good.

This is how we roast pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for pies and soups. Under each half is a tablespoon of salted butter.

Beans and ham. Easy. The beans are actually underneath the onions too. This is the heartiest, simple meal I know of. Usually I also add celery, but we were out. Another local mama adds cabbage. I want to try that in the future. The beans soak overnight, the soup cooks all day until the ham falls apart. Even yummier as leftovers and freezes very well.

One random afternoon Aunt Bee showed up bearing these. Tur-oreo-crispins. A play on turduckens of our heritage. She is so cool. I am thankful that I lent her my kids a cookin' cook book. ;)

I am thankful that we eat as well as we do, for less than most families manage, and that we've been blessed to live the life we do. Food is our fuel, how we maintain our bodies and mind, nourish. We thank God for the abundance we are granted, the generosity of friends and family that have helped stocked our pantry this year after our miserable garden output.

May you and yours also be blessed this Thanksgiving and the Thanksgivings following.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Cousins from Nebraska came a visting on Beggar's Night and I forgot to post the pictures!

We decided not to go door to door and instead set up an indoor trick or treat. It was fun!

Blueberry is getting so big, but maintains her serious gaze. Cousin D. caught her in the moment at the park.
Later she snagged some watermelon off the table. Good stuff that.

Cousin D.'s middle child is about six months older than Lil'Bug, but it was if we reunited long lost twins. They were attached at the hip the whole day and even developed insider jokes that sent them into fits of giggles only four year olds can know!

I am so glad they came and I hope they make the trek more often once we have the farm! We are planning a Spring visit westward as well.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Fairy Godmothers

My Aunt Deedle. She's been a light in my life, a safe place to call home. She and my uncle nurtured my curiosity, work ethic, and generally gave me a chance to love and to learn how to be loved. They were proud of me. They questioned my choices respectfully and taught me that adversity is not a handicap, nor is a "handicap" an adversity. My uncle passed away seven years ago and my aunt moved to Galveston, TX and opened a bed and breakfast. A pink one.

The hurricane damaged her home this fall, but not as much as some of her neighbors and friends' homes. Still, she needed a break and took a "hurrication" to visit Iowa for Thanksgiving. She doesn't come up here often because our estrangement from her sister makes visiting a delicate balance and a force of drama. But this year there was the hurricane and new babies and our upcoming move and she decided to come anyway.

I am so glad she did. :) Lil'Bug and Blueberry took right to her. She spent all day with us on Tuesday and we showed her the town our style. Science Center, art class, and lots and lots of good, fresh Iowa food. At one point she burst out over dinner and asked my uncle if he would believe this, Mama Podkayne can cook!? Yes, I suppose that is something of a miracle. Considering I actually have kitchen fires, 2nd degree burns, and food poisoning requiring hospitalization under my belt.......Still, her exclamation brought me to tears.

Anyway, we delighted in her company. Looking at the above photo, I actually see a family resemblance I had not previously! Neat.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

MamaP should blog more often.

But since she's not, I will! : )

Two things irritate me lately.

1. People overblowing the financial 'crisis'. If you are using words like 'Armageddon' or 'doom' or 'catastrophic' I'll put you in this category. Stop it. You are scaring people.

2. People who aren't feeling the impact of the current financial problems pretending like there are none. Stop it. People are scared. Get some compassion or karma may serve you up a plate of empathy.

If these seem to be in conflict to you, you probably fall into one of the category's above.

Simply put - there are a lot of people losing jobs, and prices are going up, and that's rough. Several of my friends had to find new jobs, and half the building I work at got laid off - I'm only 30 and this is the first time I went through something like that. Not good.

On the other hand, my worst case scenario typically involves meteors, so I get suspicious when people use extremely emotional words to describe something as variable as the economy. Things will get better eventually.

In the meantime, remember to help out your friends and neighbors where you can. It's important.

. . .

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree. I love having a Christmas tree, I love decorating it, I love my daughter's reaction to it all lit up, I love the warm glow.......

The downside to moving the week before Christmas and having a house on the market it the lack of practicality of said tree. All my ornaments are in storage. I sold our fake trees and all the lights last summer since we are going to have a real tree from now on (and LED lights for safety). The upside is that I'll be able to get the LED lights on clearance after the holidays. Yay.

Still, I am a bit sad. It took me seven years to get this place put together enough to safely have a tree with lights up (because of construction chaos it just wasn't going to happen....) and now I must wait one more year......

I must be practical. So tomorrow I am dressing up the girls to see Santa at the mall and posing them in front of the retail display trees. Yes, I am cheating. ;) Pretty picture backgrounds, no work for me (other than fighting mall traffic). Wish me luck and smiles!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Still a Mystery

Hobbit does not have Lepto/Lepro or whatever the thing is. What he does have is highly diluted yet highly acidic urine with a bit of crystallization. Maybe this is just a urinary/bladder/kidney infection that is a result or just part of what he's been dealing with or the medication. He's held his weight at 63, so that's good, and he's eating though he's still picky.

So then, apparently "enthusiastic" means flighty and "shoppers" means they can't really wait 3 hours (even though I'm supposed to have 24) but unable to actually say t hat at the time so they just disappear? Seriously. I bent time for these people, they should at the very least take 5 minutes to walk through. We had other things planned that we set aside for this. Grrrrrr.

On top of all else, Dearest has been either at band practice or working late so we've only really seen him sleeping since Wednesday! He's at work all day today too and then game night tonight with the guys. I would have thrown a pissy fit about him going to game night tonight after being gone all week, but then I remembered something. When we move to the farm, no more game night and no more band practice. These are things he is giving up for the move and for us. So I am reminded that we are all making sacrifices for this big change and it is weeks from happening.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Friday Chaotic Friday

Just writing a quick hello.

Hobbit's vet now wants to test him for Lepro? I don't have time to research it before the appointment, but I know he's been vax'd for it. Gah.

Why I don't have time today? Because a Realtor almost walked in my home with no notice, despite the note on my listing that I require 24 hours. Fine whatever. I was nice about it and he's coming back with enthusiastic shoppers at 4:30. ENTHUSIASTIC SHOPPERS! Still, my goodness, I haven't folded the diapers, made beds, or done the dishes and my kitchen smells funny. I have 3 hours to ameliorate the situation (I get wordy in panic mode) and dog still has to get to vet at 4, across town, 20 minute drive. For now, babe is sleeping and Lil'Bug has been bribed/occupied with some princess dolls that I found on top of the armoir all covered in dust, never been opened. Mystery. But still, occupied.

I am crossing my fingers. It would be a huge blessing if these are the ones that buy our house. Now. Because the timing would be perfect.

Ok, I am turning on the time bending powers and making a clean sweep of the haunted mansion. See you in 15 minutes, or 3 hours your time. ;)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Good Things

Just a quick update.
Good things:
  • Hobbit is slowly recovering. We had (have) to change our routine a bit and baby him a bit more and the medication schedule is rigid (I am so not used to anything being scheduled and inflexible), but we are adapting.
  • Propane tank is not as expensive as we planned for AND the place we found has excellent customer service. (Thank you Blue Gate!)
  • Insurance policy in progress. That was harder than it had to be. Seriously. Why does State Farm have excellent agent service and crappy claims service? Anyway....State Farm it is.
  • My Aunt Deedle is coming from Texas for Thanksgiving! Yay! (Also, preparing for family drama that everyone says will not happen. Is everyone is apparently ignoring reality and living in a fantasy world of flowers and peaches? Seriously.) Keeping my humor about.
  • Found a Kung Fu class Lil'Bug can take! (Thank you Julia!)
  • Shepards Pie with lamb for dinner tonight.
  • Playdates.
  • Called insurance company. Good thing I did. Hospital submitted the forms wrong. Bills owed 800$ less than we were actually billed. This is not the first time this has happened. I now call and verify every single one of my bills, first insurance then origin. Sometimes it is one or the other, but it has only been right once (Anesthesiologist). I will be sad to change insurance companies in January though, because even though there have been so many mistakes, they have always worked to correct them and have been really REALLY nice about it.
  • MidAmerican gave us another 4 digit refund! (Which in turn paid for the boiler repairs, ironic that the way I saved so much money is what broke the pipes.)
So that's life here. I'll post pictures a bit later. I have medication to wrap in dog treat and a load of diapers to wash and fold before I loosen the compost bin and transport it to our afternoon playdate.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Snacking Thoughts

We don't eat a lot of junk food. Now and then we'll eat chips and I suppose we (Dearest more than the rest of us) also drink soda (pop, Coke, whatever its called) and coffee (which I do not consider junk.....) but we just don't eat a lot of the processed convenience or snack food that are staples in most America's pantries.

We don't eat it because we don't buy it. If we did, we would. I know this because I am drawn to the bag of Ruffles and stash of Reece's peanut butter cups leftover from the party last week. If I bring home a box of Truffles or Twinkies Dearest mows through them in one sitting. But these things are EXPENSIVE and just look at the ingredients. Yuck (and yet oh so delicious.....).

We all need snacking food though. I don't deny us snacks. Here's what we keep on hand:
Tortilla Chips and Salsa.
Fruit, a variety every week. Right now our bottom fridge bin is full of apples from our picking outing back in September.
Nuts (cashews and almonds right now).
Dried cranberries and raisins.
Popsicles, the all fruit kind.
Cheese and meat (Lil'Bug calls this a "naked" sandwich....)

Lil'Bug helps herself to any of the above whenever she is hungry. She knows that if she plows through it all then it is gone for the week so she typically doesn't. One week last summer she ate a whole box worth of Popsicles in one afternoon, but I suspect she was just thirsty. Also, some of those were homemade smoothie pops and actually had spinach and carrot in them too. So ha. She never binged like that again though and she never sneaks food.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Things I Have Recently Learned About My Food Processor....

And through experience I might add....

The food processor is an amazing tool. I use it to chop onion, mince garlic, and dice ginger. It does a better job for these if not overloaded. If overloaded, the items turn to mush.

Bread is hard. But not as hard as some people make it out to be. It is way easier with a food processor.

Food processor makes pie crust easy as pie. If the butter is properly chilled and not left out too long, the blades do the work of cutting up and in the butter. Then since it is really fast, you don't even have to re-chill the dough to work it. Time saver!

Something you should know about the food processor is this: DO NOT try and use it to mash potatoes unless you like potato glue. Not fluffy mashed taters but instead super runny, potato glue. Yuck. Also, sorry about that. Some things are worth doing by hand.


So Hobbit had an ultrasound this morning. I am so glad that they don't have the same procedures for people (I've had 10 ultrasounds over the last 10 years) as he had to have his belly shaved and be held down. Yikes. Poor pup.

Anyway, there is no mystery mass. No enlarged organ. No nothing. His pancreas is tender and showing signs of abnormality. The specialist thinks he had a pancreatitis attack, though a mild one, and is in a lot of pain. That pain is likely causing him not to want to eat, he says. So pain meds for Hobbit on the menu. The vet also sent away for a blood test to confirm diagnosis. Not sure what else was going on, but all his organs are in the correct place now and the right size.

I still think there is something unknown, but I'll go with the flow on this one and make him comfortable and happy until we can do more or this passes. That's the update.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

34 days

34 days until the farm is ours. That is amazing to me. I feel like that 9th month of pregnancy all over again, nesting, eating, pacing.

Add to that my worry and tears over my poor dog Hobbit and two very upset little girls who don't understand what's wrong with their pup. I wish I understood or had answers for them.

In the meantime, laundry still has to be done, meals put on the table, and clothes sorted for winter. Packing should begin soon as well. I am waiting on that, since we don't know exactly when we will actually move. Closing is mid December, but the family who lives there may rent from us for a bit, the weather could turn nasty, or the holidays could get crazy. Life happens, but we are blessed with patience and options.

I am tired today. It's sleeting. Blueberry has slept all day and Lil'Bug is ancy. I think we will head out soon to look for play sweaters and long pants for Lil'Bug. She grew again. Kids do that I suppose.

Also, Dearest stopped by at lunch time with a Starbucks Pumpkin Chai iced latte. Yum. Also, he did that instead of hanging out with the guys at our favourite local Deli. Why? Because I am so anxious and sad and he knew I needed a hug. I am very lucky to have his love and support.

The Week that Never Ends

Update as of Tuesday morning. Obstruction not on x-rays anymore, but 2nd vet says she sees an unknown mass pushing his intestines way back against his bladder. An ultrasound will be done to determine what this mass is (ie tumor, enlarged organ, ????). None of it sounds good to me. The ultrasound can't get done until Wednesday morning so he might come home for a bit later today or they might keep him there.

I want him home. We'll do what is best for him.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Mead and Lamb Burgers

Some thoughts I am distracting myself with while Hobbit is undergoing x-rays and the vet is discussing surgery.

Last week I had the opportunity to try Mead for the first time (thank you, Cousin David!). Those of you who know me, know that I do not drink alcoholic beverages because I don't like the taste. Well, Mead is yummy! I only had a couple sips, but it was mild and sweet. Something else to consider making once we get the bees established!

We also ordered a whole lamb this year. It was a luxury item, but we had hoped it would fill the gap between running out of pork and beef and getting the new supply. As it happened, the pork came before the lamb. We also wanted to cook with it, see if lamb meat would be versatile enough to justify raising sheep.

So far I made a delicious batch of lamb burgers (though not as tasty as the former Chat Noir, in Des Moines, used to serve). They are supposed to be paired with fresh mozzarella and focaccia buns, but the bread was frozen by mistake and I was so flustered by the thought of eating LAMB BURGERS on Sara Lee white bread yuck buns that I forgot to get out the cheese. The meal was good anyway AND, though she wouldn't eat at dinner time, Lil'Bug announced she was hungry at bedtime and raided the fridge for leftovers. She ate almost all of the leftover meat from dinner. Cool.

I think next time I will try and spicy the recipe up a bit. Chat Noir's were spicy. Of the things I really miss from there, lamb burgers, mufalatos, and their caramel pumpkin pecan cheesecake really top the list.

Update Monday

So far, Hobbits urine is still showing sugar, but his blood work is completely normal. This in itself is strange, since usually sugar is in both if present in one.

He wouldn't take a treat at the vet. He's lost 3 pounds since our last visit (last week). He's dehdrated, so they have him on fluids right now. An x-ray shows something in his stomach, so either he's not digesting food at all and the tiny bit he ate over the weekend is just sitting there or there is something obstructing. So they are doing a barium x-ray and keeping him overnight.

An obstruction makes sense. It's not easy to fix, but it makes sense. I hope the vet figures this out. Soon. I want my hyper, loving, obnoxious dog back. I will even let him sleep on the end of the bed now.

Messy Day

We're headed back to the vet with Hobbit today instead of Thursday. I want an x-ray done. He's now refusing even bacon, though I can coax him to eat hamburger in tiny bites, he throws it up in less than 5 minutes. He just lays here. I'm at a loss and I can't get him his meds and I can't wait until Thusrday for a re-check.

Lil'Bug is having an obnoxious day, full of snot and energy and jumping. Yay for that at the vet. Gah.

Blueberry is still snotty sick, but sleeping and calm at the moment.

Bean and Ham soup in the crockery, cornbread for dinner too.

That's about my day, but for grading papers this morning. I'll update later.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Wish List Since We're at It.....

Old fashioned cider press. Seriously. Yellow Daisy Mama sent me a link to their family tradition and I have been drooling over cider presses online since.

An ice cream machine. I had one and gave it away. I want the ice cream bowl from Kitchen Aid but a bigger, even hand operated one would be awesome. I figured out that I can make ice cream from scratch in a few years, really from scratch- all from our farm. Honey, milk, eggs, berries.....all I will need is ice and salt! So very cool. I am thinking about making a goat milk/cream and honey recipe too. Which means I'd need a milking goat and honey bees. If you give a mouse a cookie........

An apiary box/kit. I actually need this by Spring when we move the bees in the porch column to somewhere not in the porch column. I had one for the last seven years but I gave it away last summer. I felt like the farm dream was too far off and it was wasting its useful life in my basement. I suppose that's like getting pregnant after selling all the baby stuff at a garage sale. You know, like last year.

Telescope with SLR attachment. My heart is aflutter at the thought of seeing the meteor showers in August without having to make camping plans.

Speaking of SLR. I want a macro lens and a super hard core zoom lens. I always have but now I'll have wildlife to take pictures of. :) And more bugs. And more flora. And more babies? Just kidding, (sort of....). I really enjoy my camera. Since I found the 5$ frames at Walmart (I know, not very PC) I have planned on actually framing and displaying my work. My passion for it never really went away and now it is so much fun!

A camera for Lil'Bug. She has the photo bug too. She's great with my camera, but I don't like the anxiety sharing my SLR gives me. Plus we usually want to use it at the same time.

Whiz-Bang Chicken Plucker Plans. I think the name describes it? Seriously, if we're going to raise chickens for eating this would be a handy machine to have on hand.

See what I mean? We will see what the next year brings. Hopefully we will sell the haunted mansion soon and there will be a tiny bit of profit that can go to these whimsical (yet practical) things on our list.

Oh, and while we are at it, 30 or more cats. That's right, cats. I want to guarantee that we don't have any problems with crazy neighbors like we do now. Since the way the world works is you either have crazy neighbors or you ARE the crazy neighbor, I thought I would just take care of this problem (that we seem to have where ever we go.....) and cement my place in the dynamic- 30 or more cats should do it, no? :)

*edited to add* Perhaps we should just tell people we have 30 cats, name them all, insist on telling crazy cat stories to anyone who bugs us. That's what one of our current neighbors does. It's like crazy without the commitment of cat food or litter boxes. Suddenly, I think I understand her a bit better now. LOL.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Spinning of Possibilty

This is a picture of what Lil'Bug calls the "frog pond"; it is a mud hole that has been there before the creek was dammed up. Possibly spring fed, possibly just a low spot that water drains to. It's neat. She asked me today if it would be good for ice skating. I think it might, I don't know. It is a lot closer to the house, pretty shallow and has a nice slope to the bank, so maybe. We will see.

Our 40 acres will open up to us a slew of possibility to us and to her. What should we choose? What kind of peaches? What variety of apples? Which livestock? Ice skating, sledding, duck hunting, wild crafting.......the list just seems to get bigger every day.

But today I am thinking about the farm business itself. Our farm approach will be simple, but not easy. We will start small, provide for ourselves and family, then grow a little, do a market stand with what we produce that is excess of our own needs, and then go from there. Perhaps the next step will be to offer a share box at the market stand that will include what would be in a share that week, if one subscribed to the CSA. BUT A SHARE OF WHAT?

The full CSA model is really appealing, but the add ons could be where we will make our mark, I think. Add ons like meat, dairy, honey, fruit, herbs, and specialty vegetables. At our weekly homeschool meet up we talked about how great it would be if one CSA or co-op of farms could put everything a family would need for the week in a box with recipes. Grain would be the only thing needed then, as I am not considering growing wheat and grinding flour. (Ok, I am considering it for myself, but not for farm production....).

We currently spend 60-85$ a week on groceries, for technically a family of four (Lil'Bug and I each eat 1 serving, and Dearest eats double. We'd have to match that cost or less I think to be appealing to a wide customer base, no?

The problem is that I don't see us being able to sustain all of those things on our 25 workable acres. That's why farms specialize, right? But it is a really neat idea.

So then I started thinking about livestock........
One of the things I am constantly amazed about is the price of meat. And organic raised meat? Get out. Seriously. We cannot afford to eat the way we do buying from grocery stores. Also, it may be organic at the store, but where is it from? California? Florida? Canada? Mexico? So much is lost in transport, that it is hardly worth it to buy "organic". (Also it is silly to me to buy product that's shipped in when we raise that same stuff in Iowa and ship it out....) BUT when we buy directly from the local farmer and pick it up in bulk from the local processor, we pay less than consumers are paying per pound for regular meat. We paid last year 100$ a month for meat and we ate meat with almost every meal, including most breakfasts. We ate out less, we lost some in the power outage and we ran out early BUT this year we are buying a bit more, cutting it up differently, and eating out even less. Another bonus is that we now know more recipes in which to use the meat we get. Seriously, some of these cuts are like 8$ a pound. Yike. We paid around $1.60 per pound for everything, just about. (Tell me if I'm wrong Dearest, but that's what I had in my notes.) More for the 26 lbs of lamb meat though. This is prime stuff, grass fed, pasture raised, and local. Beef is Black Angus. We're eating like kings and paying less than people who cut coupons for grocery store meat. Why doesn't every family do this?

Ok, back to my mindful thought wandering......
Last year I wrote a post about things we considered when we started looking for a property and making the decision to move to this lifestyle: here. Now, a year later we are worrying about many of the same things, but not others. The new place is only 6 minutes from town, hospital, fire department, gas stations, etc. The roads get re-graded once a week, plowed within 24 hours usually. It is near the county seat, but far enough from the sources of employment in Iowa that housing developments are not an immediate threat. Maybe 20 years from now Des Moines will explode horizontally again, though I hope not.

So these are the things I am thinking about today while hand feeding Wonder Pup (Hobbit actually ate a whole can of food, though only out of my hand a bite at a time with coaxing and he's still peeing (still odorless) inside....he ate food, yay!). Also, the cat is completely mended and back to her antics.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Update on the Pup

At the vet, urine sample was analyzed. High sugar. While the vet tech analyzed a blood sample to verify Diabetes, the vet explained the medication process for diabetes, dosage, method, ect.

The blood sample came back with normal blood sugar. ????

So, while the urine didn't indicate infection, we're treating him for bladder infection and doing everything possible to convince him to eat. So far I've fed him out of my hand, some roast beef and some spoonfuls of easy digest mush canned food.

The vet thinks he might have had a pancreatitis episode. This could have been random or from eating a food that upset him. Likely people food on Saturday. We had a party here so he must have eaten a scrap of something in the yard or house. I used to have a relative who didn't believe us when he was a puppy that he was super sensitive to people food and she would sneak him scraps and he would get sick. Since then we have been really super careful, though he would get bits of cheese for meds or a bit of turkey at Thanksgiving. Never hot dogs or chips or plate lickings. I am feeling super guilty for not checking the yard for scraps after feeding 12 under 9. I mean, I should have.

We will recheck his blood and urine in one week. In the meantime we will hand feed him whatever he will eat. Advice and prayers, again, are welcome.

Our Dog Hobbit

Hobbit has been a part of our family for almost 8 years. He's the grand pup of my Aunt's dog, my childhood buddy on her farm/ranch. He's an Australian Shepard. He's my baby even if he's really been annoying the last year, with pregnancy and new baby anxiety.

He's sick. Really sick. The vet can't figure out what is wrong with him. 8 weeks ago all his blood tests came back completely normal except for thyroid and he had gained 30 lbs in one year, so we started him on a thyroid medication. Now his thyroid level is perfect and he's lost 20 lbs (in 8 weeks?). And now he's not eating anything. Not even bacon (I thought I'd give it a shot). He's drinking water frantically and peeing bucket loads every hour (no doubt from all the water). He urine is odorless. At first we thought Lil'Bug was spilling water (yes, in the house). It takes a whole bath towel to clean it up. We have him confined to his kennel or the kitchen so we can more easily clean it up. If we let him outside for too long he searches out water accumulation and drinks and drinks and drinks like there s no tomorrow.

I'm worried there might not be. Nothing I found online is promising. Kidney/renal failure, diabetes, food poisoning, ect. He'll starve to death if he refuses to eat. He won't even eat BACON!

We're going back to the vet today. They expect me to get a urine sample. Advice on how to do that is welcome. It's not like I can put a potty seat on a bucket. Gah.

In the meantime, I am praying for answers and for his comfort.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Art in the Farm House

I mentioned in my last post that I plan to keep home in a different way. Here's my plan.

I plan to choose things to fill my home that are natural, pretty, functional, and handmade when possible. I hope to make some of them myself, learn to use the sewing machine I got for Christmas two years ago. I hope to craft candles from beeswax. I hope Dearest makes furniture.

I looked around my current home today, at the walls. My walls are filled with department store art. Not a single family picture, no "wall of shame", mostly mass produced prints. Lovely, but not welcoming. My own art went to storgae durring staging because they lacked proper framing.

In our new home the walls will be filled slowly with art we make, art from artists we know personally, and photographs of our family that we take, not studio posed, but capturing the spirit of each of us. Welcome home.

Identity Crisis

A strange transformation is happening at Chez Podkayne. We are listening to farm reports, reading Hobby Farmer for ideas and getting excited about them instead of bitter, we are gearing up for winter in a way that is actually different than what we'd do in the city, we are collecting winter wear of a different grade (LOL Ha! I told you, Dearest, that we'd need all those gloves and hats that I've horded over the years!), and we are preparing for the move in more than just physical ways.

This is a blessing that we've hoped, planned, studied, and worked for over the last 10 years. This is it. I'll no longer be the Mistress of Hatton House, but a farmer and a farmer's wife. We'll have land to tell people, "Get off of." Sorry, that's the joke around here. We'll raise our kids as Southern Iowans, which is appearently different than just Iowan. There will be less diversity close to home, even less than now, and that worries be a bit.

The transformation is more than just rural to urban though. I'm rethinking how I'll keep home, what role I'll play on the farm (we've discussed that I would teach full time (possibly on campus) for our off farm income once the kids are older), we've discussed having more kids, we've grown closer to our family and continue to foster relationships in healthy ways, and we've discussed finding a church community.

This move is about so much more than putting down roots, it's about growing and thriving as a family, and lifting each other up.

Blog Layout and Linky Love

I am working on some basic layout things, updating bloglinks, favorites, etc. I'm only including those who I have read for a while, but I may miss some. Gah. It is tedious. I'll write a real post later.

*Update. Still adding links. May take a few days.

Monday, 3 November 2008


I know, I've been a bad blogger or rather a really busy mother! This week Lil'Bug turned FOUR! Yikes.

My sister has started a tradition of making her nieces' birthday cakes. This year she asked Lil'Bug what she wanted and the response was, "A pirate ship with my family as the pirates!" Ha ha, I thought. Bake that Aunt Bee.

Well, she did.

She is so cool.

Argh, Matey.
Captain Lil'Bug, pirate captain princess.

First mate, Blueberry.

Blowing out the cannons. Way to go Lil"Bug. Happy birthday my sweet love.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Oven Magic and My Superhero

So this week was busy and frantic. Why frantic? My oven broke. It broke in a difficult to fix way, the part was expensive, time consuming way.

Not so terrible but for the fact that my cousins were coming and I wanted to show off my new found cooking skills paired with our local produce and farm fresh meats. Bake an apple pie or two, you know, be all domestic and such. But no oven = no pie. I think I did O.K. with our fresh pasta sauce, and local bakery bread but still. It wasn't what I had planned.

We had a great time with cousins, but that gets its own post. :)

So then the dog and cat get a vet visit for rechecking thyroid levels and 1 year vaccinations and we load them up on Friday and get it done. No big deal. Except that it was and now the cat is having a likely vax reaction and the dog is strangely ill as well. Yeah, let's add to the birthday party on Saturday chaos dog and cat vomit, shall we? Um, no. Right.

Then 3 hours before party time, the low temperature alarm in the fridge goes off and we realize it ain't (isn't doesn't sound right here) coolin' the grub no more. Holy moly people. My fridge too? My appliances are all 3-7 years old, they should not be pooping out on me and why now? Right, because 25 people are about to arrive at my house.

Then, Lil'Bug says quietly that she has a headache and doesn't want to wear a costume to her dress up party. Oh no. She is almost always "in costume" in some manner and she is NEVER quiet about anything. No, she's sick. Oh no.

Dearest leaves to get the last bit of food for the party, I clean up more of the dog and cat "issue", feed baby, change poopsplosionalooza, give Lil'Bug a snuggle and some children's Tylenol and a cough drop and hope for the best.

When my sister arrives with the fabulous cake I have not even brushed my hair.

Dearest returns with food, fixes fridge, and party guests arrive. Lil'Bug is sick, chaos ensues, fun is had, kids are all fried from week long Halloween events that Des Moines insists on hosting plus birthday part extravaganza, and before it was all over tears were shed, drums were played at full volume, and parents were, well, awesome. And.....then it was over.

Somehow my house was cleaner after than before (thank you Nana!). My BIL found out we are moving to a farm, and I had to awkwardly address that.

Oh, and as I was closing the door for the night I saw on our realtor sign "Open House 1-3". OMG. No. No. No. I call our agent, sign stickers were a mix up. Thank God.

I crash.

Dearest FIXES oven.

All is well with the world. Until the dog and cat start (continue) their misery and we end back up at the vet Monday AM, sick kids in tote. And then I get sick. So is life.

The point of this woe is me ramble is that through it all my Dearest just plugged away, got things resolved, cleaned up messes, and made things work. My hero.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Our New Tractor

We purchased the Ford tractor, which turns out to be a 2N instead of an 8N. I'm still happy with it, but somewhat frustrated due to the lack of hydraulics. It'll be a great lawnmower and an adequate snow remover and post hole digger if and (most likely) until we decide we need an upgrade.

Pics of the tractor on the trailer - it's parked at a friends house until we get onto the farm in December.