Thursday, July 31, 2014

Love Notes

My Mama heart has been skipping beats as July draws to a close.

August is coming.

My birthday? Don't care.

Beach trip? Not a second thought.

I am focused- preoccupied, even- on the first day of school.

There is so much going on during August. There is plenty to keep me occupied, busy, distracted. Yet somehow my Mama heart keeps reminding me that there's only 25 more days until school starts.

I figured out this spring that my daughter's future elementary school holds a counseling session in the morning (!) for parents dropping their kindergartners off on the first day of school. Apparently it's in the library... with the counselor... and there's tissues, and cookies, and craft supplies for writing notes to the kids, to be delivered during their very first lunch.


Like I'm doing that.

But wait- so I don't go, and then all my girl's peers get notes delivered during lunch, and she's left out? Um, I have a problem with that.

But I'm not going to the library during Sob Time. So what to do?

An intuitive friend suggested I just tell Audrey that she will see friends getting notes during lunch, but hers will be in her lunch box.


Of course while making said notes I was forced to realize the therapeutic value of the process of making them, but I'm still positive I'm not cut out to group-project this type of thing.

One nice little stack of notes later, I can report that I feel a little better knowing I can open a drawer and grab something homemade to tuck into a lunchbox and send out into the world with my girl in the oncoming months of S-C-H-O-O-L. Something that might make her smile, something that will remind her of the people waiting for her return back at home, proud and loving and excited about the adventure she's about to begin.

Now, where are the tissues and cookies...................................?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Green, dark, and cooler
I had almost forgotten
We have been waiting

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Crock of 'Kraut

Oh mama, am I a lucky girl. See that crock up there? That's a Karen Walker original, made just for yours truly to try a hand sauerkrautin'... and made for me in good faith no less, as I have never actually made sauerkraut before! But how could one not try with something like that ready and waiting?

So guess what I did today...

Six pounds of cabbage, three tablespoons of unrefined sea salt, a few ceramic weights, one gorgeous crock... put them all together and what will we get (in 3 or 4 weeks)? Nom, that's what.

Nom nom nom.


(Thanks for helping with the photos- and pounding- mom!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...over-the-moon egg-cited (haha, couldn't resist) about the gifts coming from our girls on a daily basis now. Yesterday we got eight- eight!- beautiful brown eggs of all sizes, and I'm thinking the eggs we bought from the grocery store last week will be our last store-bought eggs for quite a while! Oh, how I've longed for that!
...smelling chocolate chip banana muffins (adapted from this recipe) wafting through the air.
...looking at the amazing underbrush and scrub regrowth in all the clearings we've made in the woods, which is all up in my eye every time I look out the back windows. Ugh.
...wondering how I'm going to fit everything I need to do into this week before August comes and we ramp up into Audrey Is Going To School mode.
...looking forward to a little trip we have planned mid-August to take all our minds off of that oncoming ramp-up.
...loving the shining reports that came home with the kiddos after their first two-night sleep-away with Grammy and Gramps, in addition to their hugs, laughs, and goofiness that we just aren't the same without.

Right now I'm playing a mind game with myself and struggling between the prep I want to do to feel like we're all ready to have a Real Kindergartner among us, and the mushy Mama sentimentality that haunts me as I walk through these last few days of not having a Real Kindergartner yet. There's a fine line there somewhere. I hope I find it sooner rather than later. It kinda feels like the sentimentality may be tipping the scales.

Wishing all success in seeking balance as we head in to the last few days of July!

Happy  Monday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rainy Day Breakfast

We had a brief spell of freakishly cool weather last week, which did wonders reminding us that summer will not actually last forever.

On one of those rainy days I found myself craving something fall-like, baked, and cinnamon-y. I was looking for my hand-written recipe from my mom for what she's always called "Cabin Cake," but couldn't find it and instead came across "Grandma Greiner's Sour Cream Coffee Cake." Well, that'll do. That'll do just fine.

Grandma Greiner's Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Makes at least 9-10 generous servings.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar (we use sucanat or evaporated cane juice)
2 eggs
2 cups flour (we used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp good vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup full-fat sour cream
(also about 1/2 cup additional sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon for "filling")

Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8x8 brownie pan. Cream butter with sugar, then add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. On the side, mix dry ingredients and then add to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream (begin and end with flour mixture). Pour 1/2 batter into bottom of brownie pan and spread as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with additional sugar and cinnamon, then top with second half of batter. Sprinkle additional sugar on top, if desired. Bake for about 40 minutes, and let it rest for about 5 minutes after removing it from the oven before slicing and serving. We eat ours with a drizzle of melted butter and a cup of hot coffee (decaf for the kiddos, of course).

This cake is moist and fluffy, even if you choose to make it with whole wheat flour, like we did. It's an excellent breakfast for adults and kiddos alike, and when it's baking it smells like brown butter and cinnamon and all those things I love about autumnal baking... even if it is just a rainy day in July.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...puttin' up! In the last week or so, I've made super green veggie powder, fermented swiss chard stems, brined onions, frozen and canned peaches, peach country wine, blackberry wine, our first onion braid (currently curing on a nail in the pantry), garden salsa, and on the list for this week is grape jelly, something else with the last of the onions, and sauerkraut!
...doing a happy dance because a second chicken has started laying eggs! Two eggs per day from our sweet little ladies, it's crazy how happy that makes me.
...reading about summertime cover crops for the garden in my latest Mother Earth News and thinking about planting some buckwheat this week.
...stealing a few minutes here and there to start planning the fall garden and set up a crop rotation schedule (don't I sound all official and pro-fesh-on-all?).
...trying hard not to pine for a clothes line right now... but this summer sun! The energy waste with this dryer! The smell of sheets full of fresh air! But...but...but... not yet, self, slow and steady wins the race, delayed gratification, blah blah blah. *sigh*
...realizing that truly, right now, I sound like a country bumpkin with this list!
...also realizing I've been kinda heavy-handed with the italics in this post. Ah well. 

Right now, I think I have my head out in the garden and fields because of this amazing weather. 'They' say it will be gone by the time the sun gets up today, but wow was this past week and weekend wonderful. It'll be same old same old in no time, but a brief break, the chance to be outside during the day, and the work we got done around the place is keeping my mind out in the sun this morning.

Alas, there are plenty of things needing attention in our air-conditioned spaces, so the garden must go back to being visited in dawn and dusk hours, and we must fall back in line with Living In Texas In July.

Happy Monday in July.

I wonder when I can get started planting cabbage...........................

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Walk Through the Garden, July 15th

Alas, July, you are slowly claiming bits of my garden for yourself, and I fear I won't reclaim those plots until the fall! There are already two beds empty, mulched, and waiting for cooler weather... and several more are on their way... quite a difference from our last walk through this space, no?

I have already lost the pumpkin patch and all our summer squash to bugs (squash bugs, harlequin beetles, and termites). Our green beans have been very disappointing and are also on their way out, and our onions are finishing up, though I fear they'll all be pretty small.

Our herbs are hanging in there, and we have a big, robust, and highly toxic poke weed plant thriving along side them all that will be ready for harvest soon... I plan on making poke weed ink from the dark purple berries for my mom to play around with in her studio... then ripping it out, composting it, and not allowing another to grow among our food again.

All our sunflowers are gone now, most infested by aphids and their care-taking ants. I lopped the blooms off and wired them to the chicken coop door so the girls could pick them apart, leaving the sturdy stems rooted in the ground to continue their role as trellis to our late cucumbers (if they can make it through August!).

About half our tomato plants are hanging in there, as are the established bunches of swiss chard and the marigolds. BUT- it's not all grim! Our cantaloupe has really taken off, and we have no less than 6 little melons growing on its vines! (saying that now, there will probably be another insect infestation by the end of the week to take care of it, but celebrate the little moments, right?)

It's easy to get a little bummed standing among the wilting, crispy plants that have been so nurtured and loved... and I was admittedly a little down standing out there watering as the sun came up... but then I glanced over at the chicken coop, wondering why the girls sounded especially agitated... and there on the floor of their run was their first pullet egg! I was able to get in there and get it before the thick brown shell was cracked by the layer's curious sisters, bloom intact and still warm.

Now that'll just turn a girl's morning right around, I must say. *swoon*

It is easy to lament the inevitable fallout of the summer garden in Texas, but I just have to keep reminding myself of what it's given us already- bountiful zucchini and crookneck yellow squash, countless cherry tomatoes and enough big slicin' tomatoes to make four pints of homemade salsa, pounds upon pounds of ruby red beets, enough lambs quarters to feed the chickens fresh greens for two months, salad greens and chard- still growing- enough to share, radishes, basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, and green onions aplenty, and it's not dead yet! So chin up. It'll cool off.


And now there are eggs to look forward to!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving a hot, sunny, splashy, shady, sticky, laughy, happy weekend. We found the chance to sneak down and crash Grammy and Gramps' peaceful pool time, and the kids didn't stop smiling the whole time.

Come to think of it, they may still be smiling about it.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Year Ago, Today.

One year ago today we closed on this house of ours. Closing was the climax of an incredibly stressful summer for me... maybe even the most stressful summer yet. Like... imagine riding a roller coaster, but not being entirely securely strapped in, while trying to juggle, all in a hurricane. Yep, that's a pretty good simile for last summer.

I remember pulling away from the title company- keys to our new house in my cup holder- feeling so relieved and so overwhelmed that I had to putt-putt-putt through the parking lot to collect myself before actually leaving. Then I realized that from the title company, I didn't know how to get to my new house. 

What a summer.

Closing was the climax, indeed, but we still haven't quite gotten off that roller coaster ride. Sure, I'm no longer juggling, the weather is much calmer, and we're on the downhill run, but we're still on that ride. It's been a bit of a bumpy one, too.

This morning I find myself looking back at the distance we've covered since we first started on this ride (getting tired of the roller coaster metaphor yet?), and despite the fact that the end may still be out of sight I'm so glad we're here. No regrets.

I'm so glad we found this place.

I love every step we've taken to make this house our Home.

I love the feeling of growing our family roots in this land, and pushing them deeper and deeper into the sandy soil as each day goes by.

This house felt like an impossible idea such a short time ago, and the celebration in my heart today is in appreciation of finally finding it... of finding Our Home.

Look back at the tribute to our old place last year here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Out of curiosity I looked up when we first got our little peeps, and assuming they were about a week old when we brought them home, I figured out they're around 17-18 weeks old now.

Holy cow (or should I say holy hen?), they could be laying eggs any day now.

How did I miscalculate so badly in the beginning? I was thinking it wouldn't be until the fall that we'd get our first sweet little pullet eggs... but no, thanks to the early laying habits of red sexlinks we might get some before the end of the month!

I've been told by chicken-keeping friends that the first few pullet eggs end up just kinda falling out of the chicken wherever she may be, because in the beginning they're not aware of the process. We decided to help the Red Ladies out a bit by making them some 'practice eggs' with the hopes that they'll catch on and put their eggs where the wooden ones are... when the time comes.

Who knows if the colors matter, but they mattered to us! Anyho, there's one in each nesting box now, so we're ready. I hope they are...