Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh and by the way...

I've been busy. Here's a sample. Ok, you're right, it was more than a sample. I am SO bad at secrets.

A photo heavy post...

Oh, HELLO there, tomato.

I see you've brought friends!

And look at that lovely little pumpkin-shaped one.

Remember those three little tomato plants I got for my new box? Well they aren't so little anymore.
They're ginormous. I after 63, I stopped counting the tomatoes. Too many, perhaps??? Never.

I thought I would give you all a nice tour of my deck. Oh, I wish it were a beautiful 5 acre farm with gardens and flower gardens and landscaping, a chicken or two, grass mowed with a push mower, a picnic table and fire-pit. But we aren't in "the right place" for a real home just yet (remember that whole unemployment thing??) so we have a deck. This is me, making the best of it.

I'm attempting to grow as many vegetables as possible in pots. The tomatoes are obviously going very well. Additionally, we have:

Peppers (complete with bloom):
Peas (a total failure on the left there, since they dried up after a long weekend away and haven't recovered yet)

Green beans (a similar story on the top there, only I think there is an additional "something is eating the leaves" thing going on):

Carrots (down on the bottom, we'll have to see how these manage, since I'm fairly certain that root veggies were not intended for 5" deep pots):

And more peppers (on the right):

Rounding out the deck tour, we have

More carrots (in the blue pot):

Cucumbers (doing surprisingly well with lots of blossoms and what I can almost certainly say are FUTURE CUCUMBERS!):

All I need are a few lawn ornaments and I'll be "that neighbor".

P.S. I selectively excluded the hanging basket that I have because it is the only non-edible plant I got this year and is completely and totally dried up and pathetic. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The strawberry picking was pretty good, although the we missed the first round of picking, and the berries for the second round were fairly small. That meant a long time picking, and a long time cleaning and slicing.

Once again this year I made jam. I got 6 1/2 pint jars (don't worry, the half jar went straight into the fridge and is pretty well gone already) and hope that will last us a little while. My dear hubby likes his jam sandwich snacks.

I made my first attempt at a strawberry rhubarb pie (the rhubarb was the last of the season from the farmer's market down the street!) and it turned out beautifully. The strawberries pretty much eliminated the tartness of the rhubarb, so this pie was perfect for those of us who don't particularly like that tartness. I found the recipe HERE and would highly recommend it.

Definitely put a baking sheet under this pie in the oven, just in case the juices get away from you. I had expected it to be one of those extremely juicy, flops on your plate sort of pies, but once it cooled it held it's shape when cut and didn't have too much juice either. What can I say, I was impressed with my pie skills. You should try it, too!

With the total success of the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie came the total failure of Strawberry Hand Pies. The problem came when I prioritized the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and left the hand pie crust dough in the fridge too long. It dried out and became unruly and unmanagable. It cracked and the strawberry juices leaked out, leaving puddly crunchy messes all over my baking sheet.

We ate them anyway and they were described as "fine". Oh well. At least they were eaten and I'm determined that next year's hand pies will be delightful.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New happenings

I started my new job at the end of January, had a long long long training experience there, and finally was starting to get out on my own and do things for myself. I experienced so much stress during this time, I wasn't sure if it was the normal "you are new and just have to suck it up and get over the hurdles" kind of stress, or if it was "this job is so genuinely stressful that you can't stop thinking about it" kind of stress.

Needless to say, I was constantly worrying about it, constantly thinking about what needed to be done for work, constantly dreading meetings with my supervisor because of the things she would instruct me to do, that I was terribly unhappy. I had thought that after the initial hurdle of stress, things would get better. Then, I looked around at my coworkers. They were always busy, constantly missing deadlines because of insane workloads, constantly under review and covering their butts. I heard one woman (who recently resigned) threw up every day before coming to work. The (good) benefits were keeping a lot of people trapped there.

And I didn't want to get anywhere near that myself. I hadn't taken care of myself at all since I started working--no haircut, no exercise, no decent (ie semi-healthy) meals, no relaxation, no crafting. My last day there was Monday, the 27th.

So we are back to being a one-job family. I feel bad for relying on my husband for so much, and that he is trapped at his job for the money and benefits. At the same time, I know that I made the right decision because of how relieved I felt on my last day. So I'm back to job hunting, and in the meantime, I'm trying to live as cheaply as humanly possible.

Yesterday, I spent my time doing something that I haven't had time to do. Something that makes me unbelievably, undeniably, unimaginably happy.

I rearranged, re-folded, and organized our linen closet. Ahhhh... that's better.

And it was a free activity!