Monday, December 31, 2007

Cherry Cranberry Chicken

Ever cook so much of one thing that you get into a rut?
I needed a new twist on chicken, at least from what I usually fix. I threw this together tonight from what I had, and it tasted great :)

I took some chicken pieces (with skin on) and stuffed them with a few fresh cranberries. Then I browned them in a little oil in a skillet for a few minutes, turning once. I transferred them at that point to a long shallow open casserole dish, skin side up, and mixed together some brown sugar and enough soy sauce to make it liquid...sprinkled some more fresh cranberries over the top of the chicken pieces, and some dried cherries. Then I spooned the brown sugar/soy sauce mix over them as well. Baked at 400 degrees uncovered, occasionally spooning the pan juices over the tops of the chicken pieces. It's done when breasts are fully cooked (slice to check) and skin is crispy. It has a crispy skin, juicy and tender flesh, and the saltiness of the sauce is a nice complement to the sweet tartness of the berries. Fruit trees will be a must when we get our land. I want to have some dried fruits handy. They really add a lot to a meal...the cherries and cranberries were delicious!

It was great with a fresh, dark green salad. The salad is easy -- salad greens (I used torn romaine, watercress, and spinach) with sliced veggies (I had carrots on hand, and thin-sliced some onions). The addition of some hearts of palm, sliced, makes my husband really happy, and of course sprinkling in some chunks of feta (to him, feta + greens = Greek salad). The "croutons" are some french bread I had on hand that, after a couple days, had grown hard as a rock. I sliced a few slices, toasted them in a skillet with a little drop of oil and a pat of butter and some garlic. Dicing them is optional, but they make a great crunch factor in a hurry for salad :)

Here's hoping everyone who celebrates this time as their new year has a great and safe celebration!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Shabbat Shalom!

Trouble with Blogger

I'm getting free header graphics, like I have in the past, but even with the same dimensions they are coming out as if wrongly-sized and blurry, even though the original is crisp and perfect. Very frustrating.

Then I got a scare when I went in to edit fonts and colors. The template went completely midnight blue on me...the whole thing. So, apologies for the header stuck in blurry incoherence and the side bar in carnival colors. Even if you put your glasses on or contacts in, it's still blurry.

Hope Blogger gets a strong cup of coffee and figgers out what's going bonkers...


Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Confess

The gift I bought for my cousin out-of-state never made it there.
This time, it wasn't the post office's fault.

Perhaps I should be a little sadder?
Here is why it never made it.

I'm not sad. Not sad at all.

This is the bee-YOO-tiful Icelandic sheep pelt I purchased...uh, for my cousin and her new baby... from Monica at Small Meadow Farm, who has the most gorgeous sheep.

I had every good intention.

This was to be very special. It's for a baby that even prior to birth never was nourished with anything but the freshest and purest organic and homegrown foods, devoid of all the bad stuff. A plump, cuddly, newborn infant who would be nestled all warm and snug into the springy caress of softest wool....the gift...far from the blast of cold winter air or chilly drafts. Babe and wool in perfect harmony.

Only the best wool would do. Only THIS pelt would do...

Look at those waves and crimps...white to silver to charcoal...(sigh of bliss)
Look at it backlit by the sun, the springy loft and depth that makes you want to sink your fingers right into it...or just to hold it up and nestle into it (ok, maybe I have wool issues...), the variations of color undulating throughout...
And the glow of Devonshire Cream and hint of Vanilla when the light hits it just so.

I thought it the perfect

However, I was a very tiny bit insecure. After all it was for a baby gift. Was this a little over-the-top? A little bit over-personalized to the point of being, well, strange?? The sort of gift they'd really really love, or ....think was, well, strange??

I usually adopt the rule when buying for people like myself "buy what I would like," and it usually works well. But the closer the birth date drew, the more paranoid I got about whether they'd truly appreciate this....gorgeous...pelt. Like I would. If I, too, were pushing out a full term baby without pain killers or hospital personnel, right there in the living room, like a heroic pioneer girl. My imagination began working overtime.

"Well, dear, do you have everything you need for the baby?"

"Yes, Mom, we have the crib and the cloth diapers, plenty of sheets and blankets. Not to mention the pelt."

This conversation and others like it filtered through my mind over and over the more paranoid I got about whether it was a ridiculous thing to send...even though to ME it was PERFECT. I comforted myself every time I walked past my sofa and sank my fingers into the deep woolly wonderful-ness. (<----My grammar teacher just groaned again)

And so, the big day came. Yes, my cousin who is no bigger than the fine edge of a piece of typing paper had a home midwife delivery, safely and heroically, and now has an adorable daughter, her first child. They are ecstatic. And of course, tired.

It was this tired ecstasy I heard when she called to tell me the good news. She could only talk for a bit before trying to catch a needed nap. It was hardly the time to assess other things, yet I did ask what she needed, if anything. She named a couple small items, after which I casually mentioned that we'd be mailing a gift soon. And happened to mention I'd given some thought to something unique, warm, beautiful...but was a little unsure as to whether they'd like one or not...a....uh, a....yes well a pelt, beautiful warm woolly pelt.

Since telephone lacks the benefit of the visual element, there was no body language to read. Only the exhaustion of a new mom totally in love with her new daughter. So, since there was no particular reply to my statement, I changed the subject and we rounded things out with well wishes and goodbyes to all.

And THIS....bee-YOO-tiful...woolly wonder...will remain right here, at home in the sunny spot at the back of the sofa, petted and beloved. Until my cousin one day visits and her eyes light up at its very sight and she sighs a particular sigh and I feel released to entrust it into her care...OR...(in the event that doesnt happen) till never, and it's (to put it ever so delicately)...MINE MINE MINE!!! (lol ok am I happy or what?)

And so, for now, we sent the gift that keeps on giving.


And I ...I will lean back into a silvery crimped softness and springy wooliness and dream of sunny fields , the crackle of golden hay, slow gentle creatures and crazily leaping lambs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kiwano: The Horned Melon Experiment

otherwise titled What to do When You're One of the Few People Not Celebrating Christmas) ;-)

At the store yesterday, I noticed something in the produce section. It was a curious-looking fruit I've noticed in a seed catalog before, one of the items I circled because of my strange attraction to unusual things (ha! what does this say about my friends and husband?? heh heh). Or maybe I saw it nestled between the pomellos and the starfruit and decided to root for the underdog.

Nah, I got it because of my strange attraction to unusual things... I won't explore that subject in this post, though...

This will attest to my subtle programming by my Ultimate Very Favorite Way Coolest Seed Catalogue of Greatest Esteem, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Nevermind the depictions of its founder in campy Roy Rogers get-up, Jere Gettle is one incredible heirloom seed sort of guy. This catalogue is bursting with lists and descriptions of seed varieties, many of them rare or lesser-known in this neck of the woods. The pictures and sheer selection are addictive. You've been warned!

Anyway, here is what made it home with us yesterday...

Cute little fellow, eh? It's a remarkably beautiful fruit...or melon, depending on which name for it you adopt. In the store it was labeled Horned Melon, and in the Baker Creek Heirloom catalogue (happy sigh), it's called Jelly Melon, Kiwano, or African Horned Cucumber.

Hello, beautiful!

Here is a close-up. What color! Looks good enough to eat...maybe

The color up close is that of a flame orange-red cucumber with yellow splashes, about the size of a lemon, and yes, those are spines. A cucumber with a cactus complex? You can hold it in your hand gently, and the spines don't hurt, but to grab it roughly would cause you to release a tighter grip.

It is described in the catalogue as a

"very unusual fruit with spiny 'horns.' The green-yellow skin turns a bright
deep orange when ready to harvest, and the pulp inside fruit resembles lime
green Jell-O. The fruit has a sweet-sour, banana-lime-tropical fruit taste; good
juiced and sweetened. This fruit is showing up quite often in US markets. Native
to Africa, it is hardy and easy to grow about anywhere you can grow melons.
Beautiful vine and fruit! Tiny seed."
Since it's a full sun plant, and Florida seems to get a lot of that much of the year, I really wanted to give this a try to see if we liked it. And so naturally, it called for an experiment. I mean a guinea pig. I mean a husband! When I brought this fruit home yesterday, J wrinkled up his nose and said he'd tried on of these before, and its taste "wasn't much." I asked him if he'd tried it sweetened like the catalog suggested, and he said he hadn't.

So let the experiment commence! (arrange hair straight up like a mad scientist "Zees ees our feerst subject. --raising knife -- You can see eet ees putting up very leetle reseestance...")

First, we slice the, cucumber...mystery Lime Green Jell-O fruit...or whatever...

It slices easily, about like a thick-skinned cucumber would. I'm looking for jiggly Jell-O. Instead, I see seeds and pulp. The pulp is a shade lighter than lime green. We're still on track...

See that little dribble of juice on the plate, from the cutting? It does have a slightly thick, clear, consistency, like gelatin that's unfinished firming up. It's not slimy, though. I dipped my finger in it for an initial taste. It tasted mildly of lemon, only not as astringent and with a bit of a fruitier flavor. But mostly like a mild lemon.

A closer look reveals each seed encased in this clear green fruit capsule, very juicy. Any firmer and it would have reminded me more of a pomegranate seed. But these were juicy, slippery, and non-slimy. Pardon the picture quality. These are all indoor pictures and I don't know the right setting yet for the fancy camera I have. It's not the camera's fault...I'm just not worthy. Yet

It's time to juice the fruit. It requires only the most expensive, advanced, high-tech juicer. Here it is partially juiced. The skin is pliable, like the skin of a lemon, when juicing, and the pulp comes out very easily. There are a lot of seeds. They appear soft, too, rather than hard and woody. We'll see..

We'll try this sweetened three ways. The first way, with granulated sugar. Otherwise known to many health-conscious folks as The Devil Itself. But nevertheless a substance that still survives in our own cupboard today. We only do this in the interest of a good cause, a service to humanity. We must see if this is actually edible, or if its use lies only in its beauty and novelty. We'll do our duty. It's a sacrifice, but public servants we are... ;-)

The reason we're testing it with just plain sugar is to test its use as a possible sweetened juice to be used alone or with other juices.

OK, next up, some yogurt.

This is pre-sweetened vanilla yogurt. The store-bought kind. Hey, it's what was in the fridge. I haven't learned to make my own. Yet. Anyway, the point here is to test for its yum potential in smoothies made with yogurt.

Next up, in orange juice.

I know I know, I have further disgraced the name of Canon. I often enjoy drinking a blurry morning glass of OJ, so it was worth being included in the test.

Here is the freshly-juiced melon half, which is a bit bigger than a large lemon half.

Here is the juice we'll add to the bowls of sugar, yogurt, and orange juice. It really looks a bit like lime Jello-O. Not sure to test this with or without seeds, but as the seeds cling to the pulp and there are so many of them, we'll try it with the seeds for now.

Looks yummy! And in it goes...
First, into the bowl with a little sugar.

In the second bowl, the seeds/juice are combined with sweetened vanilla yogurt.

And lastly, some juice with seeds stirred into some orange juice.

How fun! Alright, hubby was summoned to the table for the taste test. After all, he'll be the one eating most of these fruits if we decide to grow them. He's definately the fruit lover around here!

The suspense built, a spoon was weilded and a rating scale of 0 to 5 was employed...0 being "Intolerable" and 5 being "The Nectar of Heaven." Here are the results:

(Drum rollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll)

1. The juiced pulp with sugar added: Score = 4 points Very Good
Flavor: Smooth and pleasant, with no aftertaste. Mildly tropical and tasting of very mild sweet banana. He like this one. We'd likely try it both with and without seeds as a drink as such.

2. The juiced pulp mixed with sweetened vanilla yogurt: Score = 5 points J ate the whole thing
and said it was an excellent combination. He described the flavor as entirely different than the juice he had tried by itself...when combined with sweetened vanilla yogurt, it had a distinctly mild tropical lime flavor, very smooth and non-acidic, with no aftertaste. I think it tastes borderline kiwi. It would be excellent as a smoothie this way. Very mild and sweet and delicious! He found the seeds to be cucumber-like in size and with a firm shell not quite as hard as a mature cucumber's. He drank it down as is, and wondered aloud if this might be an extra benefit as fiber. At which point I mentioned to him that the seeds are highly toxic and poisonous. At which point he looked at me and burst out laughing. Yeah well, ok so they're not. Just keeping the man's attention.

3. The juiced pulp added to orange juice: Score = 0 points. Ugh. Not so good. Jiggly pulp and seeds floating in orange juice with no taste benefit and muddying the flavor considerably. Looks like something you'd concoct that takes awful but is "good for you." Worse tasting than barley green and better tasting than castor oil. Nuff said.

Final Results: #2 wins hands down...and the fruit is a keeper. We'll try some sort of filtering of the seed from the juice, possibly slightly heating it and using a strainer. Or we'll use it with the seeds included, more for ease and health.

Any combination of this with other fruit juices would have to be experimented with. It is pretty cool in that it changes flavor according to what it's with, at least as we tried it. It would be fun to play around with!

Just for kicks, I got out my stick blender and blended the yogurt/juice combination till the seeds were just teensy little flecks. Ground up like that they come out in texture about like strawberry seeds you eat along with the strawberry when eating those fresh. I've not used psyllium seed that much, but it might be along the lines of that in texture. In the yogurt mix itself, after being blended, it went down very smoothly and not super gritty. Texture, yes, but more liquid than bulk and a VERY enjoyable taste. This might be a GREAT fiber source, so delicious that no one thinks of it as a fiber fix as much as a terrific treat.

Update: Since posting this, I found one mention online of the seeds potentially being toxic to mammals. I can find no hard data to support this, and the fruits themselves are found in the melon section of the produce department in my store. Hmmm. Well, till this is cleared up, I may try to strain the pulp through a strainer/colander. I also found folks who tried and hated this fruit, describing it as slimy and horrid. It seems that before fully ripening, it can be sliced and used as garnish and cooking amendment with meats and such, and that if left to be overripe, it tastes like overripe tomatoes. Well, that would put anyone off. However, I instantly like the SWEETENED fruit. Without a bit of sweetener, it is unremarkable in flavor. Many of the fruits we use, however, are ones we're used to. I think we'd hate lemons if we didn't have a clue how to use them. Or limes. Etc. Anyway I am posting this CAUTION: Don't eat the seeds simply because we tried them. Do your own research to determine edibility and safety. For now, we'll research this claim of toxicity (I'm not sure if it's just someone's opinion of if it's based in fact...I saw no data or sources cited) before utilizing the seeds. But we WILL use the juice :)

The scooped-out fruit shells are also used by people as unique presentation containers for scoops of ice cream and other foods, for fun. So let's play with our food :)

It's a keeper!

What to do on Christmas Eve...

when you are the only four people in the county who don't celebrate Christmas??

1. Sleep in that morning. Everyone. Very very late. Just because you can! (ok and because your daughter called way past her curfew last night because boyfriend's car wasn't operable for driving her home, long story, and so you got your tired parental behind out of bed, dressed in mismatched clothes and drove to fetch her which is fine but not good news at that hour...ha!)

2. Did I mention sleeping in? That is a GIFT in our house!

3. Leisurely have hot tea and make hubby breakfast. Daughter still sleeping in...

4. Leisurely shower and dress and talk about...what else?? ideas. Take care of a little miscellaneous business...mail, stamps, etc. Teach daughter how to pay one of her first bills. On time.

5. Leisurely head to the grocery store that closes in four hours, for things we simply need for the week. Chuckle at the timing of going grocery shopping four hours before pre-christmas shopping is shut down.

6. At the store, hum and smile and marvel at the really great sales and the overabundance of cream of mushroom soup. Wonder how many people across the world are making some version of grean bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup. Stay out of the way of desperado shoppers who are careening precariously down the aisles as if their lives depended on getting the last box of stuffing mix. Continue to hum and smile. Pick out weird fruit I've never seen in hopes of trying it and if liking it, saving the seeds to plant later.

7. Leave store.

8. Hubby calls to ask if he can take me out to eat. Is the pope catholic??

9. Arrive home and unpack groceries. Daughter is cleaning kitchen because she is having friend over for the cook. WHAT???

10. My daughter wants to cook. With another person. In my kitchen. This years concludes with my being a VERY HAPPY person! She has cleaned the fridge. And the floor. Oh how she must like this friend. Or oh how she must love toll house cookies.

11. Hubby takes me to dinner. Waitress is new. We don't get what we order. We're very nice about it. She looks at us as if we ordered wrong. We are kind. We are happy. We don't care what goes wrong. We're together and not rushing around for any reason. We sit and chat through two pitchers of iced tea.

12. We arrive back home to daughter and friend looking through recipe books. Hubby heads to work. I curl up with seed catalogue and listen to the ongoing dialogue of what sounds great and what ewww would not be tasted with a ten foot pole. There are far more ewws than ahhhs. Two shelves of cookbooks later, they decide on the first recipe they originally discussed. Broccoli cheese casserole. My daughter wants to cook it because it's something she loves from family gatherings past, and her Aunt Peggy always cooks it. And she wants to take it to the dinner at her boyfriend's tomorrow. And she wants some for at home.

13. The girls decide to triple the recipe. (this is where I start chuckling in earnest, silently)

14. My daughter has bought some of the ingredients in advance. Such as the plastic cheese and the frozen broccoli. The recipe calls for a few cups of cooked rice. I hear clattering in the kitchen...a lot lot lot of clattering. I decide to stay out of it unless asked for help. The kitchen is theirs tonight, and they're learning.

15. They learn the difference between a few cups of cooked rice and using a few cups of uncooked rice and ending up with enough rice to feed Thailand. They learn this lesson with my good Basmati ;-)

16. The friend is the official onion chopper. R's eyes swell and tear so much from onions she can hardly be in the same room. I hear here in there, sauteeing them....sniff, sniff, sniff. She weeps great onion tears of desire for this broccoli casserole.

You can't see her tears, but here she stirs...and weeps...and stirs some more...

17. After much cooking, and thankfully, washing, the chicken timer dings and hearty comfort food smells waft from the oven. There is enough broccoli casserole to feed somebody well through the new year. And it tastes good. All are happy! Casserole is snacked on, dishes packed up for tomorrow's dinner, and movies cracked out to watch. They huddle in R's room for girl talk and a chic flick and I get a serious chic flick A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, the five hour version, and settle in. I weep for the first time in forever at a movie. I am happy and weeping and sucked into Jane Austen-ness. Then I wonder if I'm hormonal. Then I miss my husband and call him and we chat. And I finish the movie, hours later, with intervals of calling hubby for friendly conversation. And I glance at the clock and discover it's no longer christmas eve...

18. So I no longer wonder what in the world to do on Christmas Eve! It came, it went, we had a great time!

19. And so now I wonder ...what to do...on christmas day....when we don't celebrate christmas day...


Hope everyone out there has a wonderful time during their breaks with friends and family! And great green bean casserole, the kind with cream of mushroom soup in it, and Durkee onions on top.

Or broccoli cheese casserole cooked for someone you adore!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday's Adventure: Top Tropicals

Wow! The stars were aligned or something, but J and I had the same days off for a change, woo hoo!

Monday was our big chance for a day trip, so we looked up a place we've recently been wanting to find...a nursery specializing in trees and exotic plants hardy to our area, especially fruiting plants and fragrance plants. We're not looking for something delicate, but rather something that will both weather the extreme heat and some of the vagaries of the winter thermometer (though this year has so far been quite warm).

Another reason we wanted to find this place is because of the happy coincidence of its being within driving distance, and their carrying a tree we've been very curious about, the Moringa tree. It's a tree I saw mentioned in various articles online related to permaculture and the use of trees as fodder for livestock during times of drought. I'm really excited to know that trees can be used as feed during lean times...the branches and greenery of willows, poplars, and many other trees and shrubs...even holly. Moringa is a tree that seems to have traditional uses for nearly every part of the tree. It thrives despite adverse weather and environmental conditions, can be used as fodder, its many parts used medicinally or as food for humans, and its flowers stir-fried to impart a mushroom taste. Interesting! Our web search for a US supplier turned up this nursery I just mentioned, Top Tropicals, less than a day's drive for us!

Getting there was fun. They refer to their location as the "Tropical Boonies," which is just what is was :) The directions include instructions that read "you can try to Google this location, but the directions are WRONG, so ignore them," and "make a left hand turn at the unnamed dirt road just past the RV park on the right." My kind of adventure!

Then you follow the signs...

This was the first of several signs. And it was a dirt road. Miles and miles and miles. And every so often another sign similar to this one.

Till you get to this sign. Don't be fooled by the illusion of other addresses being pointed to. It's still out in the boonies. It's a very very bad picture. Which is what happens when you're taking it through the windshield of a moving vehicle, pointing right into the noon glare of the sun. Sign on right points to further promises of finding the place. More dirt road to come...

Aha! Another bad shot, but we found the place!

We were met by one of the owners, Mike, and had the FUN of getting to amble around the place as much as we wanted, wandering among the fruiting, flowering, and fragrant plants. (To read Mike's and his wife Tatiana's story, click here.) Not that we actually knew what most things were...there were many plants with which we're unfamiliar. We'll have to research the web site info, since most of them are described well in the online catalog of plants in stock. There is also a wish list for plants not in stock, and the catalog list is much more comprehensive than even the many plants currently on site. Many seeds can also be ordered via their website.

I was really drawn to the fragrance shrubs and trees, ones I've only ever heard of in books, but never seen. There were the Ylang Ylang, the Frangipani, Joy perfume tree, Orchid trees, all sorts of Jasmines, and many I've never heard of...with exquisite frangrances I wish could be adequately described. Oh, heavenly, even with the dip in temps to the 60s! It seems these folks purchased this 20 acres in the past couple years, and have really put a lot of work into the place in a short amount of time. Pics on their site show it nearly a marsh, with standing water in a lot of places, before they put in their two ponds. They've planted fruiting and fragrance plants all around and hope to be getting a harvest next year. They also put down a lot of mulch and compost to improve the sandy soil. Now there is a wonderful diversity of growth everywhere, and we were so delighted to notice bees humming among even the low grass and the weed growth, which has flowers of its own. It just did my heart's been so long since I've seen that many bees working such a big area. A joy!

They had an amazing selection of mangoes and harder-to-find trees...too many to list all of them since it takes up four or five full pages, but just to give you an idea, we saw quinces, loquats, lychees, lemons, limes, kumquats, sapodillas, tamarinds, natal plums, barbados cherries, persimmons, strawberry trees, breadfruit, guavas, figs, durians, papayas, chirimoya, and my husband's absolute favorite, mamey (pronounced mah-MAY). Here is his VERY happy face upon discovering THOSE...

We even saw coffee plants, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla...such fun!

We tried to exercise some self-restraint, which wasn't easy to do, and attempted to limit ourselves to two obviously the moringa. They had several of those in stock, so we snagged one, and J wanted to get a mango, so we got the Carrie variety, after asking Mike for a recommendation. Of course ALL the varieties of mangoes were tempting, and making a selection was difficult, but Mike said the Carrie variety is such that it will never be carried in a simply is too full of nectar and too juicy to survive shipping and handling. In fact, they are best picked straight from the tree, because if they fall to the ground, they are so full of juice that they burst open. And they taste out-of-this world, or so he said. We were convinced. A Carrie made its way home with us, along with a Moringa. Now we have them huddled next to the three papayas J has potted in the backyard.

Here are the papayas and the moringa. The papayas have the pointed leaves and the moringa has the more delicate looking leaves and the white flowers on a very slender stem.

Here is a close-up of the maringa blooms. The sturdy green pole thingy is what I have it staked to.

Here are the leaves of the moringa, and the stem, which will one day be a sturdy trunk...I hope! We were told it will look wimpy till we get it into the ground permanently, at which time it will flourish and be really lush and fast-growing.

Here's the Carrie Mango. I hope it survives our amateurish beginning attempts long enough to get planted on LAND that we HAVE...hopefully sooner than later.

Update on that score...we have the good fortune, or rather blessing, of having narrowed our search target down from a region to a county and now to a specific area. I can't elaborate on how we're attempting to acquire acreage there, or give any more details just now, but they will be forthcoming if we're successful. We're much farther along than we've ever been! One transaction is in the legal process of being investigated (for no loose ends, etc) and another is in negotiation, depending upon the owner's being amenable to terms we're negotiating. Ah, the waiting part... EVERY day we do something related to the land. EVERY day we add to our computer file of things we have questions about and need to look up, or have looked up but need to keep investigating. EVERY day we have more conversations. I can't every day get online just now, since the computer is sustaining two of us with many time demands jobwise and one lovesick teenager whose boyfriend is stationed in the military beyond phone distance. This blog has been sadly neglected, but I do try to dash here in the event there is anything important in our process to detail.

I've now had going on three days with my husband due to the irregularity of our schedules. It's like being on a honeymoon, especially since we never had a honeymoon :) With the weather turning cooler (finally!), it's been spring-like and sunny and we've had SUCH fun being together. It's definately the shot in the arm I needed! I've been homesick for this man :)

I discovered the nausea I'd been experiencing for weeks was due to a medication, and after discontinuing it two days ago, I feel like my old self...yay! It was eating a hole in my stomach. No more! My blood sugar was also not in balance, something I have to be careful about, so that's being addressed now, too. The more physical work and organic veggies we can have at hand, the better it is for us both. We LONG to be at that point in our land journey. It's getting closer than farther, that's the consolation. And every month we keep plugging away at the jobs is another month closer to being debt-free. Anything we do on the land will be done without debt. One change we hope is about to happen is the transition for our daughter in her nursing career. Hopefully, within only 3 or 4 months she will have her LPN license. We're certainly praying all goes well with that, too! (Praying hard!) It will release us as her primary monetary support so that she can partially support herself while still availing herself of home and food here while she pursues further schooling...and a job! She is looking forward to being employed and having the ability to manage her own expenses as much as possible, and I see it as a good and gradual transition. Which will free up more resources for us, too!

Well, that's the scoop for now. Over and out till there's something else to report. I'll do a post about fodder trees soon, hopefully. I think it's an under-utilized resource in the US farming community, most likely.

Hope all are well! :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shabbat Shalom

Hanukah's over...and so is this week. My prayer is that our light shines as brightly all throughout the year in ways that count. Peace to your household this night and day tomorrow.

Shabbat shalom!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mazel Tov!

Congratulations to my cousin on the birth of her first child, a baby girl! They've named her Havah...a beautiful name:) It was a home birth, and all are safe and answer to many prayers! SO happy for the new addition to their farm and family!

Surviving the Bah Humbugs

My own bah humbugs, that is :) Yes, I was tired, but also I just have times I get reflective/introspective and just want to step back and "process" things sometimes...and let the world keep spinning its own crazy spin...and be a spectator. Or maybe I really miss having four seasons and it seems strange to my body not to have any appreciably cold weather to sear the senses, clear the head, and make for bright cheeks and dashes indoors to bake goodies and curl under the warmth of an afghan on the couch. It's ten degrees or so cooler here than the summer weather, but still in the 80s. My plants and yard think it's one long summer. Since my garden was minimal this year, and laid to bed much earlier due to work schedules, I don't have lingering outdoor chores, but when we have it all underway in a bigger fashion in the not-too-distant future (for necessity rather than experimentation), will this season-that-won't-end prove exhausting? Strange, it seems unnatural to be hot ten months out of 12. The upside is the longer growing season, which I'm watching carefully, to see what planting times we'll need at what intervals throughout the year, since they're so different than four-season areas. We may need to plan a "salad season" if the weather ever gets below the 80s, in which to grow the lettuces and such and hopefully give the rest of the garden a sabbatical. Let's see...last year this time, we'd already had a couple of cold spells. Crazy crazy weather :)

I'm fighting some sort of keeps us busy in the details and my mind won't stop chipping away at questions and things I want to research here. I've seldom been here to blog in the last few weeks because of a reluctance to just ramble on, when most of the research is not anything I can put into practice in the now. It's not theoretical, I tell myself. We'll need to know something about many things, to have an idea, to avoid bigger blunders, to have something to start with and from which to fine tune. But I've been mostly reading others' blogs, and simply shutting up about it all for a bit. (Me, that is) Also, most of my writing comes off sounding like a complaint, which is strange since I daily feel grateful for nearly everything in my life.

I'm physically feeling much better...yay! And I'm not pregnant, which I wouldn't have minded (in fact, would have loved!), but which would have definately have put a different spin on some upcoming plans. School's going well for R, and J's job is more predictable than mine has been. Mine's been jammed with long hours, and with respites in between where there is no assignment at all...the schedule is unpredictable. And I've recognized a very important fact: I'm simply homesick. I love being home, working around this place, doing the stuff that needs to be done. It's my domain, where I feel comfortable, where I can be myself and dress the way that's comfortable and make a world for my family. I love feeling this way! I love taking care of my household and seeing my family happy here. It's our springboard to other places, too...but our place to come home to.

So, yes, I pulled myself from the doldrums and hurriedly pulled together a celebration night while there was still a day or two left of Hanukah, and we had a wonderful time together of lighting lights, having time together and talking, saying things we seldom stop and really talk about, and gift-giving. It was relaxed and fun, and everyone participated, and we ate pizza and laughed. There were not tons of gifts, but a few good ones, and mostly what we loved was just stopping and celebrating as a family...right here at home. And piecing together the beginning of what'll be our own tradition for this holiday. Yay! The menorah's still in the window, and the electric one will still be plugged in through the upcoming weeks...just because.

We're planning another trip to the more northerly counties to go look at the land, and have been on phone and emails with several contacts. While nothing has finished materializing, we're still in prayer and believe that ultimately what's meant to be WILL happen since we're being consistent and doing our part. God will help us with the timing and the open doors, and I do really believe that there is a "right place" He'll guide us towards. Thank you so much to those of you who're anticipating with us that day ...when it finally opens up and we start THAT new beginning phase!

I'll post a couple short posts about what I'm sniffing out just now about some native and non-native plants. J wants us to start gathering together some pots of tree seedlings. I'm not so sure we need to try to keep a bunch of seedlings growing in pots without having a place to plant them quickly...I'm concerned about keeping them healthy in pots in the meantime, but since he's so excited to try it, I'm aboard :)

OK, enough of this post. I'm already thinking of deleting! I'm boring myself to death!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Small Break

Goodness, I haven't been here in a while! Not sure the cumulative reasons, but life's been busy and I'm under some sort of fatigue. That was not helped by the fact I either had a case of food poisoning or some sort of stomach virus the past week. Green I was :) If the constant nausea doesn't go away, I'll be going to get a pregnancy test (I don't think that's what it is, though...)

Can't seem to get on a good schedule...I've been scheduled to work 12 hour nights, then the job changed. Add to that having a family, trying to sleep during the brightest hours of the day, and then doing a changeroo when one assignment ends and the next kicks in PLUS the fact my boss has me running hither and yon on my off days. Let's just say the house is a mess, my daughter's been eating more cereal than usual, and I have a very patient and understanding husband. And the four basic food groups of the nauseated...pepto bismol, dramamine, immodium, and water.

We're also in a holding pattern to hear back from our contact in our area of interest as goes the land. We've got the ball rolling, but how fast it's rolling here near everyone's holidays has yet to be seen. I've got more to type here about things I've found online, especially about tree fodder, something I found mention of when reading permaculture literature recently. But I can't seem to find the ooomph to do anything more than check mails and sip clear liquids. Sure hope this passes soon! It's too sunny outside for this to be winter malaise. I seldom wish to be younger, but that thought has crossed my mind more than once recently...wondering if age is taking away some of my bounce-back-ability. Hmmm.

Hubby has been doing admirable substitutionary cooking in my absence from the kitchen. Tonight was the first time I could take the smells, even the cooking smells, long enough to make anything. I should have stuck to a clear broth and some steamed veggies, but instead made creamed chicken over biscuits...and steamed veggies. So far so good, as far as keeping it IN the stomach :)

I've reaaaallllllyyyyyyy got to get my nights and days back in sync. I've read a lot of books during those 12 hour work or two full books a night. But I'm even booked out, which I thought was impossible!

Sorry this isnt an interesting post. Documenting life and our process isnt always interesting, I guess. It's Hanukah, and we haven't lit a single candle...I've not decorated...we've set aside a night when we'll have a celebration, but even that is destined to be quiet and smallish this year. I really wanted to do things differently this year. ..don't I say that every year? I'm going to have to get more deliberate, way ahead of time. It's rather liberating not to be in the christmas rush as in past years, though the change still at times seems very radical. It seems radical to NOT be shopping, getting into debt, booking our schedules silly, and cooking for a month ahead of time as in the past. Were I to put in one request for a change in Hanukah, that would be that the music be as awesome and fun as the christmas music that's all of the things I love the most.

We'll form our new traditions as we go, but I feel a bit guilty that I didnt do that this year, no matter what the reason. This time with my daughter and my husband together is really precious, and since she'll likely be moving away in the coming years, I want to make each moment count.

And go clean the dishes and go back to bed.

To sleep, perchance to dream. Perchance to awake feeling ten years younger?? ;-)