New-twi-sun

Happy Summer Solstice!

While other people spend the longest day of the year outside celebrating, soaking up the sun and enjoying the company of loved ones, I was at the dentist.

4 shots of novocain for 2 measly fillings, and 5 hours of numbness that left be unable to speak. If you know me, you know this is NOT my norm!

I also think it’s cruel for the dental hygienist to try to strike up a conversation, when clearly I cannot talk.

You’re moving? Where”

Nawf Cawoyina”

Great! What part?”

Chapuh Hiw”

For school?”

Yea”

“What are you studying?”

New-twi-sun”

Well that’s great to hear. How much longer for the degree?”

At this point, I gave up, pretended I couldn’t hear her and headed to the reception. Luckily, the receptionist was a dear and just said “You’re good to go Elizabeth, we’ll file the insurance”.

At least SOMEONE understands not to mess with me. It’s just wrong to do that to us numb patients…

So, I came back, greeted Sheff (Harley is at the vet for 72 hours for his heartworm treatment) and checked out the garden.

HOLY SQUASH!

I hadn’t seen the garden in several days due to my Denver trip. The recent rain turned my veggies into overdrive!

There were 3 or 4 yellow squash ready for the picking, a monstrous zucchini (30 ounces!!), and at least 40 tomatoes on the plants (still green). BUT.. the most exciting thing for me was the baby butternuts. They’re everywhere! I feel like I heard somewhere that you should pull off some of the developing squash, so the plant can concentrate into just making a few extra-awesome butternuts, rather than numerous mediocre butternuts… anyone concur? Not sure I want to abort these guys though… I might give them all a chance.

And so… what to do with the zucchini with a BMI of 50? Make zucchini bread, of course!

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Everything tastes better in Pyrex!

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And even better with a Pyrex pot holder!

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Apparently we’re having some crazy storm right now. The sky is black, the wind is crazy, and Sheff is in the bath tub. Better go find my flash light and be prepared!

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Sunday Funday

Have I already used this title before? Seems possible. I have trouble naming my posts….

The dogs and I have had a pretty good weekend here at the farm. Yesterday was primarily consumed having my car detailed. I spent almost 4 hours sitting inside the shop, watching Cartoon network with a 9 year old (who also made me an origami swan while I tried to beat my boss at Hanging with Friends). As much fun as I had waiting, the true fun was seeing the inside of my car!

I’ve had Matrix now for 6 years, driven over 90,000 miles, and have never seen it so clean and shiny inside! Truly amazing. NO more snow globe of dog hair, that’s for sure. Highly recommend Karworkz in Knoxville, if you’re in need of  detailing.

I also hit up some thrift stores and an estate sale, to pick up more vintage linens (some are listed in my shop!) and random odds and ends for the new apartment. pillowcases

The $8 table had a little work done today. A trip to Home Depot today left me with sandpaper and wood filler, and the hardware has been removed and holes filled. Next up – sanding and painting!

Baked some muffins today from this delicious cookbook:

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Only I used cow’s milk, so there went the vegan baking. Whoops!

In other random news – the tick situation is getting out of control here. I had to remove one from Sheff’s eyelid this morning! Ack! And so, Frontline has been applied to both my furballs tonight, which should hopefully help the situation.

DSCN1393ewww – do I see a tick?? 

For those following the 52 lists, 52 weeks project, here is my list for Week 2.  The prompt was: what have you learned from another country/state/culture.

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Lastly, I think my first vegetable will be harvested from the garden tomorrow. It is a zucchini, the first of many, I am sure. Bring on the zucchini muffins, cookies, casseroles, pizzas, crab cakes, etc. Unfortunately, I am 6 days later than last year for my first vegetable. And how do I know this? Because I am Sheldon-Cooper-OCD and keep detailed harvest logs/spreadsheets. Don’t you??

:D

And Friday rolls around again

… the weeks seem to be flying by!

Some highlights of this week:

  • Homemade ice cream – I lugged my thrifted CuisinArt ice cream maker to work. My new-year’s eve attempt at homemade ice cream may have failed, but it turns out that the hospital’s walk-in freezer is much colder than my garage freezer, and the machine worked like a charm. Homemade vanilla ice cream was very much enjoyed by my staff, and it was unanimously agreed that this purchase was $8 well spent! (However… who knew that heavy cream was over $5 a quart? Homemade ice cream is not cheap!)

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  • I still exercise – I’ve been on a bit of a hater phase with my gym lately. I don’t think I’ve been in the past month. The Westin in Chicago had a very nice hotel gym, which I did utilize while I was travelling, but I realize that my membership fees are going doing the toilet regardless of whether I go or not. Since I hate losing money… I forced myself back in to the gym this week. Kept telling myself “just 20 minutes… you can do 20 minutes”. Turns out, once I was on the treadmill at my half-marathon pace and a fast-paced song on my iPod shuffle, I was quite enjoying myself, and walked for a nice 33 minutes. Not bad! Makes me want to go back and walk some more. I do miss my days of half-marathon training, and look forward to living in a neighborhood again that makes that more doable.
  • I found (more) pyrex! This lovely piece was discovered at a thrift store, hidden under a salad spinner. It’s another Butterfly Gold pattern, in mint condition, along with the patterned lid! Lovely. I also picked up a set of matching juice glasses at the flea market last weekend, as well as 50% of a butter dish.
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  • Ticks are here. Not necessarily something to celebrate, but it seems as though tick season has begun. Harley had the first tick of 2011, found inside his ear (gross), and my mom found the second tick of 2011, crawling on her back in bed. Gross. Since then, we have reclaimed the couch as dog-free, which is confusing the poor canines. Mostly Harley, since he seeks refuge on the couch from Sheff (FYI: in his old-age jealousy, Sheff has attacked Harley several times, and Harley is now petrified of him). We also loaded up on Frontline from the vet’s office this week.
  • Winter returned. Not really. I’m so glad that we’re not seeing snow this week, like other parts of the country are. However, the warm 70s and 80s (!) are gone, replaced by boring 50 degree weather and rain for the next few days. Boo. Just as I had packed up the winter clothes, electric blanket, and dry-cleaned the winter coats. Not that I need winter coats for 50 degree weather, but you know…

Tomato massacre. My tomato seedlings, planted 6 weeks ago or so, were tragically murdered by Mother Nature earlier this week. A store-bought greenhouse kit was the culprit, trapping in excessive sun, heat, and humidity, that, evidently, the seedlings couldn’t take. Life as a farmer is rough. And so, we’re turning to plants for tomatoes again this year. But never fear, I will still grow an heirloom variety, just trying to choose one. Thoughts?

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last summer’s beauties

Energizer Tomatoes

Will these tomato plants ever quit? Apparently not. It’s now October, and my plants are still producing tomatoes like a little factory. They don’t grow quite as big anymore, and tend to be holey if I let them vine ripen, so I’ve been picking them green and bringing them in the kitchen to ripen.

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I know have 35 green tomatoes (and a few ripe ones!) on the counter. My goodness. Every few days I bring in a bunch to work and put a smile on my coworkers faces :)

I picked a handful today in preparation of tonight’s frost warning. I cannot believe it. Just 11 days ago, we were setting record high temps, and now I’m sitting here in my fleece jacket and slippers (and some other clothes too…) hearing that we might get a frost tonight!? Crazy. Please do not let this be indicative of the winter to come. I might have to move away….

Well, actually, I might be moving away next year anyway. Yup – I finally committed to applying to grad school and spent some time this morning getting my GRE score sent to my potential grad school (for the mere cost of $23! boo) and trying to request undergrad transcripts. How exciting! I could settle back into some studying I think. My cross stitch projects would probably have to go away. And no more homegrown vegetables :(

But what about homegrown yeast? Yes, my latest exciting endeavor (other than grad school applications, of course) is to bake bread using a natural starter. (this means using the yeast naturally present in my house/food, rather than from a little grocery-store-industrially-mass-produced packet). I heard about it on NPR’s Splendid Table this weekend, and have been reading up on it. It’s quite the science. I still have more reading/research to do, but hopefully I can start feeding my starter this weekend! Any ideas on names? Apparently every home baker names their starter. They sort of become a pet, since you have to feed them on a daily basis. Maybe Roger. Or Henri. I don’t know.

That’s all for now. I have to go remove handfuls of sheep innards from Harmo’s mouth.

Oh my gourd!

Don’t you love vegetable humor? :D

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The summer garden has finally come to a close. This is an assortment of ornamental gourds (the warty guys), pumpkins and spaghetti squash. Funny thing is that none of these were planted (except for the one spaghetti squash plant I found at Lowe’s) so they must have appeared from 2009’s old trashed pumpkins.

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If it weren’t for such a dry summer, and my neglect, I’m sure these pumpkins could’ve gotten a lot larger. I just hope they last until my talk with the kindergarten students about pumpkins. I want to show them what I grew in my very own garden!

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Would you like to know my go-to recipe for spaghetti squash? Well, alright then, here it is:

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tbsp canolive (my 50/50 blend of canola and olive oils)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (~ 2 cloves)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 chopped roma tomatoes (or canned, whatever is on hand)
  • 1 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 3 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wash squash. Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds.
  3. Place face down in baking dish, add 1” water and bake 30 minutes. When tender, carefully scrape out the “spaghetti strands”
  4. Put cooked spaghetti squash aside
  5. Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Cook garlic, onions, basil 4 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes.
  6. Mix bread crumbs and parmesan. Set aside.
  7. In a very large mixing bowl (preferable vintage pyrex), combine the squash with all other ingredients
  8. Pour into greased 9×13 baking dish
  9. Top with crumb mixture
  10. Bake for ~30 minutes, until hot and bubbly

Delicious! I think Harmo would like it :)

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The end is here

Today after work I pulled out the squash and zucchini plants. Definitely makes the end of summer seem closer.

My squash and zucchini did great over the past two months. The final numbers from the harvest spreadsheet show that I had 50 yellow squash and 36 zucchini.

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The first squash!

I have baked numerous batches of zucchini bread and zucchini muffins. Several recipes of squash casseroles were featured throughout the summer, as was grilled squash, squash pizza, roasted squash, and stir-fried squash.

DSCN0602 The always-full basket of squash

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Squash casserole, like everything, looks better in Pyrex

I remember the days in July when I would have to check the garden everyday, or find myself with a zucchini the size of a baseball bat. Then it slowed to a crawl in August.

zucchini 001 The many sizes of zucchini

And so… the fridge drawer still holds the last few of each.. maybe one more batch of muffins?

 

Lazy Day Sunday

Had a fun time at game night yesterday. Improved my cranium skills, and discovered a new game with a twist. Plus, my zucchini chocolate chip cookies were a hit!

This morning I was able to sleep in until almost 9 o’clock! (of course, that was after the dogs woke up me up at 7 for breakfast). I watered the garden, harvested another zucchini + squash + 3 tomatoes, refilled the birdfeeders, and made a yummy brunch (thin bagel with egg and provolone, with squash casserole and salsa).

And, today we’re celebrating the 50th tomato of July. Incredible, I know. I maintain my popularity at work by bringing in weekly baskets of my goodies. I also made this cupcake stand using $1.70 worth of thrift store dishes, and am currently using it as the perfect display for the tomatoes!

 

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Nothing planned for the afternoon. Well, OK, come on, it’s me. There’s always some sort of plan!

  • I’d like to get some reading done: Sunday paper, current novel, and psychiatric nursing textbook I bought at the library sale Friday (it’s something I wish I had when I started my job!)
  • May run out to home depot and buy some bell pepper seeds. I hope it’s not too late to start them, but I have an area of nice soil (where the potatoes were) that I hate to leave empty.
  • Vacuuming again. I bathed both dogs yesterday and they’ve been shedding like crazy. I guess it’s all that dead fur that the bath loosened up and is now covering everything. hahaha!
  • Planning my week out – including preparations for my big upcoming weekend! The Boy is coming in town (for the first time since April!!), as well as one of my closest friends for her birthday. This means cupcakes need to be baked, of course.