Sunday, March 30, 2014

Planting Has Finally Begun!

Yesterday Tom spent a lot of time on the tractor, cultivating and using the bed shaper to make the rows for potato planting.  Dylan and I planted spinach and lettuce and spent several hours cutting seed potatoes.  Behind Tom and Dylan you can see the ridges made by the bed shaper.  It pulls the loose dirt together in rows and makes potato planting easier.
 Don't get the idea, however, that potato planting is too easy!  Dylan and I spent about 3 hours today planting.  It's good exercise, but my back got pretty tired.  I'm glad we ran out of rows.  Tom will run the bed shaper tomorrow so we'll have enough rows to finish  the potatoes.  Then, onions will be next.
Tom kept the buckets filled for us.  Dylan cranked up the rock and roll music so we could plant and then dance when our backs needed a break.  The wind was blowing so hard that at times it was hard to hear the music!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Yesterday Warm, Today Cold. . . Spring Weather

Yesterday was so warm, 70 + degrees, that we worked outside most of the day.  Dylan used the chain saw to cut brush and trim trees; then he stacked and burned limbs.  We even roasted hot dogs over the fire.

Tom got the little tractor and cultivator ready to go, so when the ground warms up enough, the equipment will be ready.  I took the opportunity to put a new coat of stain on the deck.  We were too busy last fall to get to it, so now it really needed it.  Dylan had already power washed it a couple of days back, so it was time.

The forecast for last night was rain or snow, so Tom left the tractor out of the shed to get washed off in case of rain.  I got the deck stain on by 3 p.m. so it had plenty of time to dry before the rain came and the temperature dropped.

Surprise!  Surprise!  We got snow.  I took a picture of the deck early this morning.  The picture of the tractor was taken after sunrise.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

New England Clam Chowder

Cold weather keeps coming!  I decided it's time to try another homemade soup that I have never made from scratch.  I have always loved New England Clam Chowder, so I don't know why I had never made it myself.  It is wonderful, so if you've never made it, you may want to try it too.  Most of the ingredients I already had, except for the clams and the 1/2 and 1/2.  Since we're "land locked" I used canned clams.  If you're on the coast, fresh clams would be wonderful.


NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER

2 cans (6.5 oz.) chopped clams
2 slices bacon, halved
2 1/2 cups chopped, peeled potato (3 medium)
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Drain canned clams, reserving the juice.  If necessary, add enough water to the reserved clam juice to equal 1 cup.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan.

Stir the reserved clam juice, potato, onion, bouillon granules, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and pepper into saucepan.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  With the back of a fork, mash potatoes slightly against the side of the pan.

Stir together flour, milk, and half-and-half; add to potato mixture.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Stir in clams.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until heated through.  Sprinkle each serving with crumbled bacon.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Starting

Dylan planted cabbage and broccoli seeds indoors and has them under grow lights.  They are up and growing and seem happy.  After the winter we've had, it's good to see seedlings again.  Two more weeks until daylight savings begins.  That always makes us feel closer to spring too!


In this gardening operation, I tend to be the secretary/bookkeeper most of the time.  Today I took time to write planting dates on the calendar.  We have a big desk calendar that hangs on the wall in the kitchen so it is easily seen and we can all keep track of what is coming up.

University of Missouri Extension has this wonderful guide available, (G 6201) called "Vegetable Planting Calendar."  It lists all the garden vegetables and gives the planting date ranges for each one depending on location (south, middle, or north Missouri).  Each year I go through their chart and then write the vegetables that should be planted on the appropriate dates on our big calendar.  For example, on April 1st I can see that it's good to be planting potatoes between the 1st and the 15th of April.  That gives us a target date.  Then, by watching the weather forecasts for our area, we can decide if we want to try to get potatoes in the ground earlier.  If the weather is predicted to be cold and wet, there is no point to push the planting back to March, because the potatoes won't grow anyway.

Another helpful guide is G 6570, "Starting Plants Indoors from Seeds."  It also has charts for annual flowers and vegetable seeds telling when to plant and how to grow them.  If you need additional information on how to access either of these, leave me a comment.




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Necktie Tribute

For most of my husband's career, he wore a necktie to work every day.  Over the years, I saved some of them, thinking I would use them to make a quilt someday.  Someday showed up this winter.  We've had a long, cold winter this year; conducive to working on big projects.  After talking about doing this for at least 15 years, it's nice to see it take shape.

I started with over 50 neckties.  They had to be ripped apart and cut into strips.  The hardest part was deciding how to put them together.  I have looked for necktie quilt patterns for years, but didn't find any I really liked.  Most were more about the quilt pattern and less about the neckties.  The ties I had to work with had a large variety of patterns themselves, so I decided it needed to be more about the necktie patterns with a simple quilt design.  One thing about most quilts is that you don't know what they're really going to look like until they are finished.  So, I figured it was time to stop stressing and just get started.

I finished sewing all the pieces together yesterday.  I plan to surround the pieced rows with a narrow border of gold fabric and then a wide border of black.  After that I'll take it to be machine quilted.  The difficult part is completed, so I feel that I'm almost done!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lights!

Today, February 9, I finally took down our lighted tree.  After Christmas I couldn't stand to give up the pretty lights because they brightened the dreary, cold days.  So, I packed away the Christmas ornaments and added snowflakes.  This continued to "brighten things up."


I may have been a little hasty in packing away the lights.  This is the way it looks outside today.  The ground and the sky are the same color. . . WHITE.  Monochromatic.  Bland.  Cold.  I've seen a cardinal or two at the bird feeder, but I'm going to need a whole flock to improve the looks of this!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Snow, More Cold, More Snow. . .

etc., etc., etc.!  The winter just keeps coming!  This is one we'll remember for a while.

Earlier this week there was so much snow in the air that it looked like fog.  The snowflakes were small, but there were so many that the treeline to the south was not visible at times.

A couple of outdoor activities for our exercise plan this winter:  keeping the bird feeders filled and shoveling snow.

I was trying to take a picture of a sun dog yesterday morning.  It's in the center of the picture just above the horizon.  There were a couple of sun dogs, but my camera did not do either of them justice.  We had another 4 - 5 inches of snow.  This picture was taken before I shoveled snow off the patio and the sidewalk.