Sunday, August 25, 2013

Checking In

I'm still not sure if I will come back to a regular posting schedule, but since I updated the Haphazard Homestead On The Road blog, I thought I would make a quick post here as well. We have been very busy this summer.

We are doing life learning (a type of homeschooling) now and technically began that on July 1. We have made new friends, had camping trips, enjoyed field trips with other home schoolers, had picnics with other life learning families, visited museums and other points of interest, went to the Missouri State Fair, and have done many other things both at home and away. All of those things have been both fun and educational.

Kat at a family art event at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art earlier this summer.

Shane continues to work most of each week in Joplin, MO, with occasional Fridays worked here in Kansas City. None of us really likes having him gone, but it is better than being laid off. Our garden has been very atypical this year, mostly because the weather has been atypical.

Rowan turned 10 in July 4.  We celebrated with a camping trip and a visit to museums in St. Joseph, MO.

Here it is late August and we're just now getting cucumbers, our peppers haven't matured enough to set on fruit yet, and we're picking lots and lots of green beans. I canned 20 pounds last week, have another 25 pounds picked and ready to can, and I expect another 10-15 pounds before we are done.

In terms of those goals I set at the beginning of the year, I've reached my reading goal and increased it from 18 books to 24 by the end of the year! I have read a few of the stacked up magazines, but unfortunately have done very little toward the other goals, including all those crafts I was going to make.

We have two more camping trips planned for our season, on next weekend for Labor Day, and one in October. I hope to write about those on the other blog as they happen. That, in a nutshell, is what's been going on here the last couple of months. I just want to say if you're still checking in here, thank you. I appreciate your support although I haven't been a very good blogger lately. I'll see you again...perhaps.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Here's A Rock And There's A Hard Place...Guess Where I Am...

Just checking in to say I'm still alive; we're all doing well, we've been traveling with Shane a bit while he's been working out of town, doing some other fun things closer to home, and I had the chance to meet, in person, someone who's been my e-mail friend for the past ten years!  (Hi, Melinda!)

But here's the deal...I've had absolutely no inspiration to post anything here for quite a while.  Neither am I ready to close the blog for good. 

So...I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I probably will be.  Just waiting for blogging season to come back around.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Home Again

Hope everyone had a great weekend. 

We are back from camping and I've put up two new posts at Haphazard Homestead on the Road.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ready to Roll

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the US. Though not the original reason for the holiday, it's usually considered the unofficial beginning of summer. For us, that means camping season is finally here!

There are new tires on the RV, and it's clean and ready. Our clothing, personal items and food have all been packed, so we're ready to roll as soon as Shane gets home from work.

Unless things have changed in the past few months, the park where we will be staying has no wi-fi service, so it will be likely be Monday evening or later before you hear from me again. Considering how few my posts have been lately, that's probably comes as no surprise.

Anyway...I hope all of you have a safe and fun weekend, wherever you are!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What the...?

Have you ever seen anything like this?  We found it in our back yard earlier this month, right after that freak snow on May 2.

It's dandelions...a dozen or so...but all the stems were conjoined. 

One of the strangest things I've seen since the circus came to town when I was a kid.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden Pics and Stormy Weather

Our garden is finally beginning to look like a garden. 

That's great, in general, but the late growth is presenting a few problems.  Our early crops, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, are just starting to take off.  They are cool weather plants, so not only do we wonder if they have time to mature properly before really hot temperatures arrive, we were counting on them nearing harvest by now so that we could sow other seeds in their place.

What to do?  What to do?

As they are still rather small, we are considering transplanting them back into pots and trying to over-summer them and put them back in the ground as large bedding plants in late August for a fall harvest.  I'm thinking this isn't the best idea.

We could just sacrifice them so we can use the real estate to plant our summer crops (i.e., zucchini, peppers, etc.)  It would work, and monetarily we'd only be out a few seeds, but I just hate the idea.

Or, we could leave them be and add more beds (raised or in-ground) to plant our summer crops in.  This is probably what we will do.


We had thunderstorms with strong winds overnight.  Here is a limb from a small maple that has broken and is draped over the power line running from the pole to our house.  Our electric utility has been notified, but because we still have power, we are not on the priority list (apparently lots of folks lost power in the storm).  We've been told a crew will come out soon, but probably not today.

Problem is, more storms are on the way.  In the 15 minutes it's taken me to write this since taking the pic, the skies have grown dark again and the radar is turning red.  If there's much wind with this next round, we could easily lose power.

Still, I'll take this weather any day over the snow we had three weeks ago.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Unfortunate Weekend Events and A Week of Ham

Our weekend didn't turn out at all like we expected.  We had planned a nice visit here at home with my sister and brother-in-law on Saturday afternoon, with them staying overnight in the RV, then on Sunday we were going to join up with my niece and her family, as well as my daughter and son-in-law and spend the day at the zoo.

Instead, shortly after they arrived, my brother-in-law fell ill with some episodes of dangerously low blood pressure and he and sis spent the entire weekend in the hospital, with us making a few trips back and forth ourselves.  My BIL is 68, and has a known serious heart problem, but they ruled that out as the cause right away.  He is also diabetic and I think they have determined that some late and missed meals on Friday and Saturday, as well as some late medication, were the main reason his blood pressure was plummeting.  His blood pressure has since stabilized and he should be released today after one more precautionary test on his heart.

Because of the sudden change in plans, I have a ton of food in the house.  In anticipation of our weekend, I had baked a large spaghetti casserole for our meal on Saturday, prepped ahead a big pan of breakfast enchiladas, and I had thawed a half ham to cook today.  I also bought several kinds of individual-wrapped snacks that I had planned to take with us into the zoo.  Of course, very little of the prepared food was actually eaten, and I still have that ham to bake today.

I invited my daughter and son-in-law over for supper last night, so that took care of half the spaghetti casserole, and I individually wrapped half the breakfast enchiladas and stuck them in the freezer.  They'll go with us on our first camping trip in two weeks, along with the pre-packaged snacks.

Here's what I plan to do with the ham:

Monday:  Baked ham, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, asparagus, rolls.

Tuesday:  Ham with parsley sauce, boiled potatoes, green beans, salad.


Wednesday:  The rest of the Baked spaghetti casserole, garlic toast, salad, home-canned peaches.


Thursday:  All-American Ham and Cheese Roll, potato cakes, corn, asparagus.


Friday:  Hawaiian Ham Quesadillas, tater tots, salad.


Saturday:  Ham and shrimp pasta, garlic toast, salad.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April Resolution Review

I'm a week late with this post, but April was a whirlwind for me, and I'm just now catching up.

I set some goals at the beginning of the year, so I thought I'd give a quick monthly update on my progress in April. 

  • Goal - 18 Books and more than a year of Mother Earth News and Hobby Farm Home back issues (and yes, I've let the subscriptions to those magazines expire).
  • April Progress - Read 2 books (9 books of 18 total), and none of the  magazines (so still at 10 magazines of 38 total). 
The books I read were:

  • Goal - 12 completed projects, preferably one a month, with one being a quilted item and another being knit socks.
  • April Progress - Quilted a table runner for my dresser ( 4 projects of 12 total)

So, I finally quilted something.  So many people (I'd venture to say they're mostly women) say quilting is their hobby of choice, so I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and learn a new skill.  I enjoyed the process, but I didn't love it.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a crafty project I hate, like mending clothing, and 10 being a project I love, like crocheting an afghan, I give quilting about a 6. 

I chose colors that coordinated with our bedroom, and I think selecting the fabric was the best part of the process.  I also enjoyed doing the machine quilting, which in this case was simple diagonal lines.  Cutting and piecing the top was okay, as was sewing on the binding.  The part I didn't like was, that as careful as I felt I was being, there were still glaring mistakes.  I've read that it's to be expected with a first quilt.  I chose to leave the mistakes in, because I just didn't have the patience to rework any of them.  That is the main reason I may not quilt anything else.  Then again, maybe I will.  It will probably depend on the type of project and my mood.

All that said, here it is.  It's a simple hourglass pattern, without border, but with binding I cut myself.  I did all of it on the machine.  If anyone is interested, here is the pattern, and here is the websites I used to teach myself the basics of quilting, and how to get the diagonal lines straight.

  • Goal - Organized planning, leading to an organized garden.
  • April Progress - We completed our spring planting sometime early in April, but I don't recall taking time to fill in what we did in my garden organizer.  I really need to do that before I forget entirely.

    And I'll just be blunt.  Three mornings of frost in late April sucks.  Snow (yes, snow) during the first week of May sucks more.  So far, everything has survived, with the help of tarps and upended buckets for cloches, but growth has been very slow for this time of year.

  • Goal - To switch over to less harmful types of sweeteners and/or reduce sugars in our foods.  To grow more of our food in our backyard.
  • April Progress - We switched away from buying granulated white sugar in March and were able to stick to that decision in April.  No other changes were made.

  • Goal - To join a local yoga class better flexibility, balance and overall health.
  • April Progress - Again I say, gardening is great exercise!  Reach high for the tarps, carry them to the garden, spread them out, haul firewood to hold them in place, wait out frost and snow, then reverse.  Repeat approximately once a week, well past last average frost date.

  • Goal - To pay off our RV.
  • April Progress - Shane continues to work out of town several times a month, so we are continuing to pay extra each month toward the loan principal.  A noticeable dent in the balance is being made.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Over the weekend, Shane and I laid the new wood laminate floor in our kitchen/dining room. By new, I mean it had never been installed. But it wasn't actually new, since we bought the supplies a couple of years ago when we bought the back door. Like I mentioned before, things get a done around here but it can take a while sometimes.

We started around 9:30 on Saturday morning. It took us about an hour to move appliances and furniture in to our living room. It looked like a flea market or some used furniture stores I've been in.

The demo work started around 10:30. Here is our old floor:

It was in pretty good shape, but had two qualities I didn't like. It showed every speck of dirty and drop of a spill, and it only looked good if I cleaned it by hand, buffing it dry as I did. It didn't matter what I used to clean it, if I didn't buff it out, it looked streaky and felt sticky. Of course, having to hand-mop it meant that I didn't clean it as often as I should have.

But the real reason we ripped out the old floor was because our old sliding patio door had leaked and caused water damage to the first couple of feet of flooring in front of the door. In this pic, you can see the floorboards had warped and lifted, and we had screws in them to try to hold them down. The board farthest to the right is chipped, too.

We knew the brand of the floor, but were unable to match it because it was an older style. We tried to save the good parts of the old floor as we took it up, but the slats had been glued together per old-school installation practices, so it came up in broken pieces. Oh, well -- we tried.

Underneath, we found vinyl. Looks like a 1980s pattern to me. It was in surprisingly good shape, but not our style.

It was 11:30 or so when we started the de-squeaking phase. Close examination in the basement revealed that hardwoods were under the dining room side of the room, while the kitchen had plywood sub-flooring. We aren't sure if it was always that way, or if the kitchen floor had been replaced. In any case, all but one squeak was in the old hardwoods.

To eliminate them, we located each squeak by foot, then Shane sunk screws through the vinyl and into the hardwood in the general area until the noise was gone. Some areas needed just 1-2 screws, while other squeaks needed many.

De-squeaking took a couple of hours, at least. Normal people would have stopped for lunch right about now, but we worked through.

We put down the underlayment, then began laying the floor boards at around 1:30. We started at the back door and worked our way in, cutting boards at the end of each row, and cutting in around cabinets and the niches where the stove and fridge sit. The first few rows were slow going, but we found our groove toward mid-floor, and were experts by the time we reached the inside wall.

Still, with all the cuts, this was a time consuming job. The last board went down at 9:00 p.m. We promptly changed clothes and rushed out the door before the restaurants closed. Fajitas and margaritas hit the spot!

I guess we could have stopped there, but when we got back at 10:30, we swept up the sawdust and mopped, then moved the appliances and furniture back in. I was so happy to see that I could use a stick mop similar to an overgrown Swiffer and have a clean, streak-free, non-sticky floor!

Here is the finished product:

Okay, so it's not a dramatic change, but it's a nice one for us.  Just being able to mop the floor from a standing position will make my life so much easier!

We finished up the day's work and headed to bed around 11:30 or so. Sunday we moved all the small stuff back in (plants, small appliances, etc.) and cleaned the living room and vacuumed up the sawdust in the garage, where all of the cutting had taken place.

We went to the home improvement stores and bought the new door trim and baseboard that we decided needs to be updated as well, but Shane had no time (or energy) to attach those. He's out of town this week, so the trim will have to wait a while, but hopefully not a year or two.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Haphazard Homestead Happenings

Where does the time go?  The days are just flying by lately and so much is happening around here.

The gardening is beginning to show signs of growth.  Except for the potatoes, onions and ginger, everything we planted this year went directly into the ground as seeds.  Almost all the little seedlings have started to come up.  We have carrots, onion, radishes, peas, lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, and beets.  No signs of cauliflower yet, though.  We've been eating asparagus on a regular basis, and some of our rhubarb is almost ready to harvest.

We had a couple of nights of freezing temps last week (in late April?), but we covered everything and it all made it.  The weather, and therefore the garden, are running a few weeks behind this year, and I'm wondering now if we'll have any room for our late spring plantings that I had thought would follow behind some of the early crops.  Oh well, we might just have to build another raised bed or two.

Like everything else, our flowering trees are behind schedule.  Our red bud, white bud and crab apple are just now starting to bloom.  One of our young rhododendrons is in full splendor right now, though.


I have almost completed my April craft project and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to finish by tomorrow afternoon.  Look for it on Wednesday, along with the rest of my April goals update.


For those who enjoy hearing about Bob the Basement Cat, he is doing well, but we've come to the conclusion that he is either partial or completely deaf.  I'm not sure how we missed it, actually.  We can often go in and out of the basement and do whatever we need to do, and if he's asleep or just looking away from us, he might never realize we're there.  Also, when you speak or make other noises, his ears don't move toward the sound, not even a little.  It might also explain why his meows are so very loud and might be the reason he craves touch so much.


Our weekend schedules are filling up fast for spring/summer.  A couple of biggish home improvement projects, a trip to the zoo on Mother's Day, a day of city-wide garage sales, and camping, have us booked up for most weekends until after Independence Day.


19 more days until school is out for Kat, possibly for good!  We have decided we will unschool her once this year is over.  Learning about this lifestyle change is huge in our lives right now and is what I've been spending much of my time on recently.  I promise, though, that this shift won't turn this into an unschooling blog.  I'm not sure I'll blog about it much at all, but if I do, I'll spin it off to a separate blog much like I do with our RVing stories.  Just thought I'd mention it, since it's been taking me away from the blog and Facebook page lately.


I apologize again for not being around to visit your blogs and pages much lately, but I'm going to try to remedy that this week. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Finally-Finished Door

Some of you may remember us replacing our nasty old sliding patio door with a new wood-framed door with operating side lights.  You can read about it and see the pictures here.

It remained the Not-Quite-Done Door for more than a year.  Exactly nothing else happened with it until this past week, when Shane finally found the time and inspiration at the same time to finish the project.  He added the surrounding trim, stained the wood, lacquered it, and even touched up the aqua paint above the door (and in other places around room). 

It looks great now, and it's nice to finally mark it off our to-do list as completed. No, make that completely completed.  Now all that's left to do in the kitchen/dining room is the new floor.  We have the supplies, so it's another matter of time and inspiration coinciding.

Taping off.

See the small piece of blue tape near the top of
the window?  Swiper's getting ready to swipe it.



While we were at the home improvement store buying lacquer and a quart of paint to match the walls, we started looking at a product called Deck Restore by a company called Synta.  It's a "liquid armor resurfacer".  It's similar to the Rhino Linings for truck beds, only it's for decks and/or concrete. 

We looked at the information in store and had nearly decided it would be a good addition to our deck for a number of reasons.  About that time, a salesman (not on commission, BTW) walked up to us and told us how great a product he thinks it is and answered a lot of questions we had based on his experience with it at his home.  In the middle of our conversation, a customer passing by interupted to say, "That stuff is amazing! It's just simply amazing!"

Our only questions now are what color we want, and when we'll have the time to apply it.


My apologies for not taking time to comment on your blogs, if I get to them at all, and for not being around on my Facebook page very often this past week.  That goes for the foreseeable future, too. We have several "projects" going on here and my online presence hasn't been a top priority.  I hope you'll bear with me; things will surely return to what we call normal sooner or later.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Couldn't-Be-Easier Strawberry Ice Cream

Our strawberry plants are beginning to bloom, so it won't be long before we have enough berries for ice cream!  This ice cream has just four ingredients and doesn't require an ice cream freezer.  I used frozen strawberries from last summer for this post.  I have also used blackberries, raspberries, and peaches with good results.  Just make sure they are solidly frozen first, and adjust the sweetness after everything else is blended.  You may not need as much sugar as you think.

This ice cream is fresh tasting, and both sweet and tangy at the same time.  I think you'll love it!

Couldn't-Be-Easier Strawberry Ice Cream

2 cups of frozen strawberries (if frozen in syrup, reduce or eliminate sugar)
2 cups heavy cream (I had and used raw cream, but any heavy cream will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sugar to taste; amount depends on fruit and whether or not it has a syrup

Place frozen berries in bowl of a food processor with the chopping blade attached.  Process berries until ground into fine bits, almost like a course powder.  Warn your family and pets first that this will make A LOT of noise.

Add vanilla. 

Add cream gradually while continuing to process, until the mixture is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream or a very thick milkshake.  Stop processor and scrape down sides as needed. 

Taste for sweetness; add sugar or other sweetener 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is reached.

Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe bowl with lid and chill until firm, 1-2 hours.  Alternately, you can spoon the soft mixture into traditional freezer-pop molds or silicone yogurt/popcicle molds for individual frozen treats.

Makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Healthier Nacho Chicken Casserole

Recently I saw a recipe for a Mexican-style cheesy chicken casserole that sounded tasty, but it had a few ingredients I'd rather not use, like canned cream of chicken soup, white rice, and packaged taco seasoning.  It also had pre-shredded cheese (eww - cellulose) and canned corn (eww - I don't like it).

I decided to make some changes so that I'd feel better about eating it and serving it to my family.  Here's my version, which I think is a little more nutritious.

Healthier Nacho Chicken Casserole

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons unbleached white or whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked brown rice (1/2 cup before cooking)
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
1-1/2 cups frozen kernel corn
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles, with liquid (could use 1 large fresh mild chile, seeded and diced)
2 Tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (or 1 packet of store bought seasoning)
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (shredded from block cheese), divided
2 cups diced cooked chicken (either light or dark is fine)

Heat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 2-quart baking dish with pan spray.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in flour.  Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Whisk until mixture thickens.  Set aside.

In large bowl, combine rice, tomato, corn, red and green bell pepper, chiles, taco seasoning, 1 cup of cheese and chicken.  Pour thickened chicken broth over mixture and stir until well combined. 

Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the crushed tortilla chips.  Return to hot oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6  servings.

Monday, April 15, 2013

To Forage or Not To Forage?

An odd but decidedly cool thing happened in our family recently. 

A couple of weeks ago, I entered a book giveaway for a book about foraging called Dandelion Hunter:  Foraging the Urban Wilderness.  I was lucky enough to win, and I started reading it last week.

At about the same time, without having discussed the book I won, Shane joined a Facebook group centered on foraging Missouri wild edibles.

Also at the same time, without any of us knowing what the others were doing, my son-in-law began foraging for wild edibles in his own neighborhood.

While we've each eaten the occasional berries, nuts, wild mushroom or wild greens, as far as I know, none of us have ever had a driving interest in foraging wild edibles for either culinary or medicinal uses.

Some say there are no coincidences, so I'm taking this as a sign we're on the right track in taking up this line of study, whether for fun now or for more serious reasons in some unforeseen future.  Many plants and fungi can be mistaken for others, causing skin irritations, illness or even death.  The way I see it, three sets of knowledgeable eyes are better than one or two.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning to believe we have a lot more to eat in our garden than we planted!

Do you forage wild edibles or do you know anyone who does?  If so, are your reasons more culinary or medicinal?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Simple Sausage and Egg Casserole

Here is an easy recipe that I adapted from a few others I found online and in cookbooks.  Add toast, biscuits or some homemade pastries, and maybe a bowl of fruit, and you have a simple weekend breakfast or brunch.  It can be made in the morning or the night before.

Simple Sausage and Egg Casserole

1 pound pork breakfast sausage
3-4 large potatoes
8 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon seasoned salt or seasoning blend of choice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh parsley (or 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley flakes)
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice

Meanwhile, crumble and brown sausage in a large pan or skillet.  Drain; rinse if desired.  Spread cooked sausage in bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick spray.

Peel potatoes and cut into 3/8" dice.  Bring to a boil in salted water and let boil about 1 minute.  Drain, then spread over sausage in pan.  Alternately, use a package of frozen chunky hash browns. Set pan aside to allow sausage and potatoes to cool.

In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, seasoned salt, pepper and parsley.  Beat until well combined.  Pour mixture over cooled potatoes and sausage.

To bake immediately, heat oven to 350°F.  Sprinkle casserole with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

To make ahead, cover sausage, potatoes and egg mixture, then refrigerate overnight.  When ready to bake, heat oven to 350°F.  Uncover casserole and sprinkle top with shredded cheese.  Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes about 8 servings.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Simple Soap

I just wanted to show off my latest batch of homemade soap that I made yesterday.  These are actually shampoo bars, but the difference is in the ingredients, not the method of making them.

This is my first batch of hot-process soap.  It was made in a Crock Pot and only took about 90 minutes, including clean-up.

In the past I've always made cold-process soaps.  There are advantages to each method, but in terms of curing time, hot-process wins hands down.  While still soft, it can be used the day after it is made, as opposed to several weeks of curing time with the cold-process version.

Because it was my first time, I didn't try to take any photos as I made it.  I plan to make another batch this weekend and will try to enlist Shane's help so that I can write a tutorial with pictures.  Stay tuned for that.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mute Monday

Friday, April 5, 2013

Coconut-Carrot-Zucchini Snack Bars

I made these bars for my family's breakfast, but they are great for snacks or lunchbox treats as well.  Use any frosting or glaze recipe you like (I used this one), or to keep things simple, add the nuts to the batter and give the bars a quick dusting of powdered sugar.

Coconut-Carrot-Zucchini Snack Bars

2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (or oil of choice, but the coconut oil adds flavor)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup shredded carrot (1 large carrot)
1 cup shredded zucchini  
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 C chopped nuts of choice (optional) (I used walnuts)

Heat oven to 350°F.  Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with pan spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, coconut oil, honey and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the carrot, zucchini and pecans.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt. 

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix just until they are combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed lightly.

Remove from oven and cool completely (in the pan) on a wire rack.

Frost as desired and top with chopped nuts.

Makes 15-20 bars, depending on size.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pottering About

Last week during spring break, Kat, her mom (my daughter T) and I spent an afternoon at Paint, Glaze & Fire Ceramics and Coffee House.

The concept at Paint, Glaze & Fire is fun and simple.  Customers choose and pay for unfinished pottery pieces, then pay an additional small studio fee to paint them there in the shop while also enjoying hot or cold coffee drinks or tea.  The staff then glazes and fires the pieces and they're ready to pick up a few days later. 

I remember doing a little ceramic work as a Girl Scout when I was young, but this was the first time for Kat and T.

I chose a spoon rest to paint, largely because I broke my old ceramic spoon rest a few months ago and I needed a new one.  I think my sponge-painting technique leaves a lot of room for improvement, but the colors - a deep sea green, browns and tans -- are spot on for my kitchen.

Kat chose a couple of 5-inch tiles to do free-form coasters.  Doctor Who fans will recognize her rendition of the Tardis, and the muffin (if I'm not mistaken) represents some aspect of the My Little Pony cartoons and toys.

I liked T's oversized coffee mug the best.  The drizzle effect was another experimental technique that turned out great, in my opinion.  The colors chooses were shades of purple and teal on a cream colored background.

We had lots of fun that afternoon, and I plan on returning and trying something completely different next time.  The shop also features a comfortable lounge area and free wi-fi, as well as classes, parties and even a summer ceramics camp.  If you're local to the Kansas City area, you should check it out and have some creative fun!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Settling Back In

We had a very nice spring break last week, but whew! -- I'm glad to get back to some usual routines this week.  Kat is back to school, Shane is working out of town 4 days a week, which has become almost "normal" for us, and winter appears to finally be settling down into spring.  Here are a few highlights from the weekend:

Kat was with her mom and step-dad for the weekend, and they took in a special Doctor Who event at a local theater.

Kat, my son-in-law M, and friends.

Meanwhile, Shane did some work on our back deck - by himself on Saturday and with my dad's help on Sunday.  The condensed story is that we had a deck, we removed the railings to put up a sun room.  We decided against the sun room in favor of building a larger deck, then we decided against the idea of a larger deck and in favor of just putting the railings back up. 

Of course, the original railings were long gone, we we had to buy new lumber.   We used some extra fence pickets to put a privacy wall at one end of the deck.  We'll be the first to admit our own yard is pretty junky looking right now, but our neighbor's yard on that side is a real eyesore with a shed that is falling in on itself and a trampoline that is hanging in shreds.  We'd rather not see it, and we'd rather not have their dog go into a barking frenzy every time we step out onto the deck, so the privacy wall helps with both of those issues.  Looks pretty nice, too, if you ask me.

Our deck is a tall one, 6-7 feet above ground level, so we still need to buy siding of some sort to underskirt it, and of course we need to stain and seal the new lumber, but this is a nice start.

While the guys worked on the deck, I managed to fix breakfast for us, do several loads of laundry, and prep and plant one of the raised beds with snow peas and onions.  We ended the weekend with a nice meal out with my dad and some friends.

I have a full week planned.  I plan to back outside to plant more of our raised beds, make a batch of soap, complete my menu plan for April, return to my M-W-F blogging schedule, and possibly start my next craft project.

What is on your schedule for this week?

Friday, March 29, 2013

March Resolution Review

It's hard to believe that a quarter of the year has already passed.  Time just flies for me lately!

I set some goals at the beginning of the year, so I thought I'd give a quick monthly update on my progress in March. 

  • Goal - 18 Books and more than a year of Mother Earth News and Hobby Farm Home back issues (and yes, I've let the subscriptions to those magazines expire).
  • March Progress - Read 2 books (7 books of 18 total), and 4 of the  magazines (10 magazines of 38 total). 
The books I read were:

  • Goal - 12 completed projects, preferably one a month, with one being a quilted item and another being knit socks.
  • March Progress - Started and completed the second toe-up knitted sock, completing the pair.  I also crocheted a couple of much needed pot holders using this pattern. ( 3 projects of 12 total)

The socks are far from perfect, but functional and very comfortable.  I love how they match, but aren't identical.  I really enjoyed knitting them and I'm sure I'll knit more in the future.

  • Goal - Organized planning, leading to an organized garden.
  • March Progress - We finally bought a new printer and I was finally able to print pages from the garden planner I mentioned in earlier posts.  I love it; it's a very functional and attractive planner to use.

    We have begun planting and so far have potatoes and two new gooseberries bushes in the ground.  I transplanted 76 strawberry plants into a new pyramid, the garlic we planted last fall is coming up, as are the perennial asparagus and rhubarb.  We had big plans to continue planting early crops, but last weekend we were hit with our third mega-snowstorm in two months, so planting will have to wait a little longer.

  • Goal - To switch over to less harmful types of sweeteners and/or reduce sugars in our foods.  To grow more of our food in our backyard.
  • March Progress - I have decided that the only way for me to do this is to just do it!  Despite the cost difference between plain granulated sugar and organic cane juice crystals, I used up the last bag of white sugar and I've vowed to eliminate it from sugar from our shopping list entirely.  I consider cane juice crystals the next step up on the sweetener hierarchy.  Not the best choice, but a better one.  We also continue to use local honey, molasses (local when possible), Sucanat and real maple syrup as sweeteners, but not with any regularity.

  • Goal - To join a local yoga class better flexibility, balance and overall health.
  • March Progress - I still haven't made any effort to find a different class, but with gardening starting up, I'm not to worried.  Gardening is great exercise!

  • Goal - To pay off our RV.
  • March Progress - Shane has been working out of town a lot lately.  He's been getting both a per diem allowance (there is usually a little left over after expenses) and at least a couple of hours of overtime on almost every check lately.   That has helped me to continue to pay extra on each RV payment.  I don't think I'll reach the goal of having it completely paid off this year, but the balance will be reduced considerably.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Getting Crafty

I was going to write about how my daughter T., Kat, and I went to this really cool combination coffee house and ceramics studio and got all artsy-craftsy earlier today, but I ended up leaving the house without a thought of grabbing our camera, so that post will have to wait until our artwork is ready to pick up in about a week.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about Shane and Kat doing some leather crafting last weekend during the snow storm.

Shane is pretty good at leather-crafting, as you can see in this post from my old blog.  A while back -- maybe a year or so ago -- Kat became interested, so they started a project together.  It's a craft that can take years to perfect, but is actually quite simple to learn in basic form and is suitable for crafters of all ages.

Kat's first project was a tooled tri-fold key wallet.  As so often happens, projects get set aside around here, but they finally picked it back up and finished it last weekend.  Here she and Shane are using a device called a stitching pony to hold the key wallet steady while they stitched the binding.

Here is the interior of the finished wallet...

And here is the exterior.  I don't use her real name on the blog, so it has been electronically erased from the center area there.

Her next project is going to be a belt, with a daffodil pattern. Here she is doing a practice pattern for it on a piece of scrap leather.

I can hardly wait to see how it turns out!
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