Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Inside The Life of A Purse

Every few months when my purse gets so heavy I can barely haul the thing around I decide to clean it out.  And it's always fascinating to see what I find.  A few weeks ago we reached the strap breaking point so I cleaned it out and took pictures.  Isn't that what everyone does?
Included in all the madness is a flower clip, a recipe, and knitting pattern (I don't knit), the flower from Lolly's purple shoe, an inhaler, a paper fish, the cover to my taser, a face mask, green glittery bow tie and electrical tape.  Franky, I'm not even sure why I had some of those things in my purse.  Like electrical tape.  But I think it had something to do with Halloween costumes.  My purse is like the Swiss Army knife of accessories. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book of the Week! The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren

 I read this book last year and got so much good gardening information that I just have to share it with you. 
And the thing I enjoyed the most about this book is that, as much as there is about all the amazing things she did and everything that worked, she also talked about the mistakes she made and the things that didn't turn out so well.  Like the snails. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Favorite-Days Off

With These Two

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Garden Report from....2011....yep

It is January in Utah right now.  It's cold.  It's icky.  The air quality is making me miserable.  And I'm ready for summer.  I'm desperate for summer.  I need it NOW!  But, alas, Mother Nature doesn't give a flying fig what I want or need.  Which leaves me no choice....I have to go to my "happy summer place" in my head.  So obviously I've been thinking about gardening, what I want to do differently this year, what new things I want to try, etc.  Because I am a hippie garden nerd.  And then I thought to myself, "Self, you never did a blog post on last year's garden!  All that weighing and OCD note taking is going to go to waste!".

So, here I am.  Talking about last year's garden.  I'm an exciting person.

Every year I draw up a garden plan, figuring what we're going to plant and where we're going to put it.  I even color it.  And every year it ends up being completely different from what I plan.  It's a good thing I spend all that time planning so we know exactly what not to do.  Of course, that doesn't stop me from drawing up garden plans year after year.  It works for us.

Last year I read this great book "A Quarter Acre Farm: How I kept the patio, lost the lawn and fed my family for a year" by Spring Warren.  I got lots of great ideas from this book and for some insane reason I decided to weigh everything we got from our garden.  At least, almost everything.  Towards the end I slacked a little.  Our scale can only weight about 3-4 lbs worth of produce at a time.  The weighing thing got old fast.  But don't be surprised if I do it again next year.  

I decided to grow all Roma tomatoes since I had heard that they were the best for canning.  I had planned on planting 8 Roma tomato plants.  But because I am me, I ended up with 4 Roma tomato plants and 4 Celebrity Hybrid plants.  Oops.  We planted our garden (most of it) on May 28.  We got our first tomato (Celebrity) on August 15.  It was 18 ounces.  One tomato, 18 ounces.  It was huge!

Season Totals
Celebrity Tomatoes- 58 lbs. 11 oz.
Roma Tomatoes- 30 lbs. 8 oz.
From these tomatoes I canned 32 quarts of tomatoes (for spaghetti, etc.) and 12 pints of tomato soup.

Obviously, the Roma plants didn't produce nearly as well with growing just over half of the amount of Celebrity tomatoes and I couldn't really see much of a difference as far as canning the tomatoes went.  I think this year I'll stick with the Celebrity tomatoes for all of my tomato plants.  Let's just  hope I can keep up!

We always plant one grape tomato plant that is referred to as our Tiny Tomato plant.  My girls eat these like candy!  But we learned after one year that planting more than one Tiny Tomato plant is not a good idea for us.  Even with just one, we were giving away lots and lots of tiny tomatoes.  We even went on a "Tomato Tour" one day taking tomatoes to quite a few friends in our neighborhood.  Hopefully they appreciated it.

Season Totals
Grape Tomatoes: 16 lbs. 12 oz.

We planted 4 pickling cucumber plants this year and it was our most successful year with them so far.  I've found that if I plant less then 4 plants, I don't have enough at one time to do pickles.  But then I end up with lots of pickles.  So I'm thinking next year I might trade with one of my garden friends because a family only needs so many jars of pickles!

Season Totals
Pickling Cucumbers: 37 lbs. 1 oz.
Pickles: 35 pints of bread & butter, dill and sweet dill pickles.  See what I mean?! 

Our green pepper plants did surprisingly well this year.  We actually got some!  We had enough for jelly, salads, stuffed peppers, lots of good stuff.

Season Totals
Green Peppers: 6 lbs.
I was able to make 24 half pints of pepper jelly.  That's a lot.  So if you need some, I'm your girl!

And then there was the corn that I hadn't planned on planting at all until I read a book called Soil Mates.  It was a pretty easy book that talked about companion planting to prevent bug issues and to increase the health of your plants.  In all honesty, I haven't had as many bug issues before as I did this year after trying to do companion planting, but that could totally be a fluke.  Either way, we really enjoyed the fresh corn.  I don't think I weighed the last couple of harvests but I know we got at least 10 lbs 14 oz. and were able to freeze 4 bags of corn from it.  Although it's a little chewy so I'm thinking they may have stayed on the stalk too long or my kitchen table waiting to be frozen for too long.  We'll see how it goes this year....

After planting pole beans for the last three years, we have come to the conclusion that pole beans just don't flourish in our garden.  They  grow well and have beautiful leaves and cover our garden wall, but they just don't produce all that well.  This year we only got 3 lbs. 4 oz. of green beans.  It's better than nothing, but I think we're going to give bush beans a try this year.

As for squash....this was a learning year for us.  We planted a yellow squash plant in an empty area before thinking it through.  Despite the lovely shade from the corn, our yellow squash was still able to produce 6 lbs. 7 oz. for our squashy enjoyment.  Our zucchini squash didn't do so well either.  I know, it grows like a weed.  But not for us.  I just didn't realize how shady it was going to be.  Like I was a learning year for us.  Actually, every year is a learning year when it comes to gardening.  And other things.

Although my attempts at growing dill didn't get very far, I did grow basil and just loved it.  We had a super yummy margherita pizza with the ingredients mostly from our back yard!  I also made up several batches of pesto and froze that.  The only problem there is that pine nuts are so ridiculously expensive!  $18+ per pound!  But I'm growing basil again this year and I'm even thinking of expanding to some other herbs.  And!  I attempted to grow some garlic as well!  I planted it at the wrong time, but it did really well until it got too hot.  I've read you can either plant it in February/March and harvest in June or you can plant in September and harvest the following May.  I didn't get around to it in September so we'll see if I can get it planted in the next month or two.

I haven't made our official garden plan for this year but I'm thinking of trying a few new things like potatoes, onions and artichokes.  I'm really (pathetically?) excited!  So, winter can end any time now.  No really.  I'm done with you winter.  You couldn't be bothered to snow for Christmas so I have no use for you now!

So.....anyone else got any garden goodness to share?  I love hearing about what other people do in their gardens.  Remember....I'm the hippie garden nerd.  And if you come to my house in the summer, I will probably insist that you come see my garden.  Consider if fair warning.
This is before it got really crazy and unruly.  Hard to imagine a Chaos' garden being unruly. I know!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And Then It Was New Years!

This year we actually got to spend New Years' Eve at home!  We usually spend New Years' Eve at CG's parents house, but this year the big bash was the night before so we got to get our party on at home.  I realize this may sound weird to many of you, but by the time New Years' comes around, a fun night at home with the family is just so wonderful. 

Dinner was Appetizer Night, which consisted of various appetizers purchased from our local grocer's freezer.  It also required very little cooking on the part of the family "chef".  We also had this yummy Cream Cheese Pesto Dip that I got from the lovely Emily of Is This Really My Life?!.  We used pesto that I had made this summer with basil from our garden and it was just so yummy I can't find the words to describe it to you.  It really was that good.  And super easy to put together.  Making it taste even better. 

While we enjoyed all this yummy excess of food, we also broke out CG's Star Wars Monopoly!
We had a great time and played Monopoly for about 2 hours.  Yes, they played Monopoly for 2 HOURS and were sad when it was time to put it away.  The game hadn't actually ended, but Monopoly doesn't really ever end....if just goes on and on my friend! 

Then we headed outside for our noisy welcome of the New Year.  Technically, it was 8:00 p.m. and not Midnight, but there is no way that my girls could stay up until Midnight and not pay the consequences for many, many days.  Even at 8, our celebration was awesome.  Crowns, horns, Snap-Its and those noisy popper thingies were all involved. 

And there may or may not have been a surprise attack of silly string by boring old mom.  They never saw it coming....he he he.... 

And the last, official picture of 2011.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Simpler Christmas

As all ten of us know, I haven't really been in blogland lately.  Or any land, really, besides the pharmacy.  I've been waging some major germ warfare.  Between mid-September and the beginning of December at least one of the three girls in our family have been sick.  Usually at least 2 of us.  And really, that's less than blogable.  Do you really want to know how many square feet of vomit was cleaned up?  As a side not of blogability, I'm now a firm believer in the powers of probiotics.  We started using it the beginning of December and the only illness that has affected the girls is a small cold.  Loving the probiotics.  I'm also going in to Lolly's classroom twice a week to clean every flat surface with antibacterial wipes because I am desperate to stop the madness of it all.  I'm a woman on a mission.  A mission of germ destruction.

So, now that we've got my blog absence out of the way, onto Christmas.  Because everyone who is totally on top of things posts all about Christmas on their blog.  I just do it in January.  Because I'm not on top of things.  Hence, the blog title.  Ahem.....

The week of Thanksgiving I got strep for the first time in my life.  Seriously, I had gone almost 33 years without having strep and I get it the week of Thanksgiving.  And I thought I was going to die.  It was HORRIBLE!!!  I have a renewed sympathy for anyone who gets strep.  It felt like I was dragging for days and days after that.  It was brutal. 

The thing that was weird was that not having a traditional Thanksgiving totally threw me off.  It was like the Holidays didn't begin.  And then I was in denial about the impending Christmas holidays.  But the problem with being in denial is that Christmas still comes and if Mama's not making it happen....well, it's not going to happen.  As a matter of fact, quite a bit of it didn't happen. 

Since this holiday season seemed to be a season of firsts, I thought I'd go ahead and get a little laryngitis.  It was relatively painless but mildly inconvenient.  And then there was the blasted inversion.  For the love of all that is holy, I had things to do!  And no oxygen to do it with. 

You know when you reach that point when you realize that in order for the holidays to be even remotely happy, then something has gotta give?  Well, I reached that point.  A couple of times, actually.  Christmas cards?  Hopefully next year.  Twelve Days of Christmas Service?  It didn't even come close to happening.  But I did manage to get a few things done.  The necessities were taken care of....present under the tree, special events attended and, importantly, a coping mommy so that the family could have a happy holiday. 

We even managed to decorate a little gingerbread village.

Yes, most of my December was sponsored by large quantities of Mountain Dew.
Attended the event of the season...Babs preschool winter program.  So adorable.

And the same day we attended the other event of the season....The December Traditions report.  My Lolly's first oral report. (She did awesome!)

Dipped some yummy treats in fabulous chocolate from Utah Truffles.  It's yumminess is beyond description.  But this picture should be enough to totally make you drool and wish you lived by me.

And, of course, matching jammies on Christmas Eve.

And Santa, being awesome, did not disappoint.  Although there were some concerns that he wouldn't come which were expressed around 2:30 in the morning Christmas Day.

Thankfully, I started my Christmas shopping last January (don't be too impressed, it was just 1 thing) and my mom came to watch the kids so I could wander through a few stores freaking out about not being able to find what we needed.  Online shopping has it's perks.  But it just doesn't have the same "feel" as real life shopping.  Maybe someday I'll be a true convert.  Either way, the girls were sufficiently (hopefully not excessively) spoiled and Christmas dreams came true. 

Even Dexter got a few presents....lucky dog.

Despite all my best efforts and the drastic trimming of my to do list, Christmas Eve morning did include me making the last batch of grape jelly for family gifts.  At least it was yummy.  I think. But for all the seasons ups, downs, steroids and stress, we did have a wonderful time.  And hopefully you did too.
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