Two Year Blogaversary

Facebook reminded me that a year ago was my first blogaversary. Honed critical thinking skills lead me to conclude that it is now my two year blogaversary. Where do the days go when they fly by so quickly? It doesn’t help that we feel like we lost about four plus months of our year to family illnesses and deaths. I’m still having a little bit of a tough time posting regularly but I’m hoping to catch up over the next week when it will be too cold for me to want to leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

There are no posts about running as it’s been a year since I’ve done any. I haven’t even walked much. This needs to change and I’m hoping to find my mojo and to get moving again. I had actually registered for an event in Oct 2017, but deferred to 2018. Maybe I’ll have some “back of the pack” fodder to share, but it’s so so so hard to get moving once the inertia is gone. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here are posts I am considering to kickoff my blog in 2018:

The first post will detail what I did with the wood.

I’d also like to talk about our first go at making pickles.

And this lentil stew is pretty incredible, so I’ll write more about it.

Beleve it or not, it’s time to start thinking about seeds for the garden, so I’ll write my annual Fedco/seed ordering post. (catalog pic from last year)

I’m going to enjoy the last few days with the kiddos before my nest empties out again. I’m going to spend some more time learning about my camera. I’m going to think about goals for this blog and for me in 2018. If you are on Instagram, I tend to do a better job with (almost) daily pictures there. I very much appreciate those of you who visit here and follow my Empty Nest journey.

 

 

 

Some Fancy Camera Photos (and some ponderings)

Sorting through all of the stuff from my in-laws’ house, and my house, has included piles of pictures. A few things struck me along the way. One, before digital cameras, a lot of money was spent to develop many pictures, in order to get a few really good ones. Obviously, there were pros and cons to that process. On the “pro” side is all of the memories that sifting through piles of pictures brings back. On the “con” is the piles and piles of pictures to sort through to decide keep vs pitch.

Second, since digital cameras, the freedom to keep snapping picture after picture in the search for good ones, is tremendous. Knowing there won’t be money spent on developing rolls of film, means that newbies such as myself, can just go crazy.

Third, it takes a conscious effort to print out pictures and have hard copies. I think it’s an important thing to do. If you aren’t great about backing up the contents of your computer (me!), then it is especially important. After the eldest’s graduation, I made a photo book from an online site, something I haven’t done in a long time, and ordered some prints as well. I need to do this again.

In the meantime, I will share a few (of the many, many, many I have taken) with you here. Fargo may be getting tired of being my main model, though he hasn’t said so yet. The kiddos are in here too, while they’re home, and I love snapping the sunrises and sunsets.

Capturing good news for the eldest.

Keeping Busy

I’ve been keeping busy the past few weeks. Still cleaning out the house, trying some new hobbies, continuing with some old ones, prepping for the kids to come home (they’re here…YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!). I’m going to savor the days with the family and then I’ll be ready to kick 2017 out the door.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen…

I’ve been busy with a secret new hobby project (I used a mitre saw and a drill!)…

Fargo helped me make beds for the kids….

And I’ve been playing with the fancy camera some more (post of pictures forthcoming)…

Now that it seems both kids will be staying on the West Coast for a while, I’ve been doing some deeper empty nest reflecting. I may try to share some of those thoughts, though I haven’t decided yet. This has mostly been a more lighthearted blog and I need to decide where to go with this in the new year.

Thank you to those who have continued to follow along with me on this journey!

 

Black and White Photos

A friend of mine works in my building. We are not in the same departments, but we’re on the same floor. Every few weeks, we bump into each other in the restroom, laugh about the fact that it’s the only time we end up seeing each other, and do a 60 second life catch-up. The last time it happened, I ended up getting tagged on Facebook by her for the black and white photo challenge making the rounds.

I rarely post on Facebook. When I do, it is most often a kid or garden or Fargo The Terrible related thing. I enjoy seeing other friends’ family-related posts. Up until this “challenge,” in the years I have been on Facebook, I have never participated in any that have taken place. I almost didn’t participate this time, but I liked the concept. Choose a black and white photo with no people in it, post it with no explanation. You are supposed to tag a new person to participate each day, but I didn’t do that. It’s been going on long enough that I figured people can just do it if they want, they don’t need my coercion.

With today’s technology, it’s easy to just turn a color photo into a black and white photo…or is it. As I rarely opt for black and white versions, I didn’t realize how many color pictures do not translate well to black and white. I started looking for pictures begrudgingly at first, but actually ended up enjoying the process and posting the pictures I chose. It was a nice distraction from the rest of life.

I’m pleased enough with the results to share the pictures I chose:

My Own Fancy Camera

After a lot of research and discussion with hubby and agonizing (as is my usual mode of operating), there is a new fancy camera in the house. It actually arrived about a month ago, but I really started just playing with it a few days ago. I’ve been a little afraid to really mess around with it and I’m hoping the youngest will give me lessons when she gets home for Winter Break.HINT HINT!

For now, it’s all set to automatic, pretty much pointing and clicking. I’m pleased with picture quality so far.

Of course, Fargo and a spectacular sunrise are both pretty easy subjects. I’m very excited to learn more and to (hopefully) share some cool pictures here after putting the camera to work.

In Between the All Consuming Clean Out

The all consuming cleaning out continues. I’m trying to attack every inch of the house and remove everything that has not been used in the last 10+ years or has no sentimental/material value. This has resulted in many piles. Fargo may be concerned about the status of the house.

The air hockey table is gone to make room for a craft table. It went to a good home where youngsters will hopefully have lots of fun playing. The craft table is downstairs, but since I have everything pulled out of the closet below the basement steps, the furniture has not yet been re-arranged.

We did manage to move my in-laws’ jelly cupboard into the dining room and it is absolutely perfect. I think they would be proud of what we are filling it with.

I added a new recipe to to my baking toolbox, and it’s so yummy that I made a 4th batch this morning. Favorite Pumpkin Muffins by Pinch of Yum are easy to make in the morning. Warm muffins for breakfast pretty much ROCK!!

All of the ingredients go in the food processor or blender (which is on the max end of what my ancient work horse of a unit can tolerate).

I didn’t put chocolate chips in the batter because I thought that might put the machine over the edge, so just added them to the top at the end.

Unfortunately, the first time, I forgot to spray the tin. It wasn’t a complete disaster, and I did get to eat about a half a muffin’s worth of bottoms that were attached to the tin. You can see the raggedy bottoms.

I remembered to spray the next three times. These are definitely worth trying if you like pumpkin muffins.

When I do sit down to cross stitch, or attempt my (as yet to be identified) crochet project. Fargo has been extra good about keeping me company. He is an exceptional hip warmer.

Look at that lower lip!! I just love that lip!

 

 

 

Cleaning Out

This has been our focus the past few weeks. Dealing with so much stuff from my in-laws’ house prompted us to take preemptive action here. How is it possible to accumulate SO MUCH STUFF!?!?! Of course, much of it can be chalked up to sentimentality. But the rest is just not going back through it all every few years to clean out the crap.

We opted for a staycation last week to try and get a handle on our house. Four heavy bags of paper went to the curb for recycling. Garbage cans were full as well. But now there are piles of “what the heck should we do with this” stuff. It’s random, no solid theme, and very few large items. We have china, beanie babies, old cameras, sheet music, statuettes, Disney VHS tapes, etc.

It took way longer than it should have, but I posted 9 whole things in ebay. No takers yet. Here are a few of them.

See what I mean? No theme. I keep hoping, as most people I’m sure do, that something in the piles will be worth millions. So far, no dice.

I want it all gone. I want to work towards only having stuff we really use, or which has sentimental value left. It’s a LOFTY goal, that’s for sure. Hoping the kiddos appreciate this (way) down the road.

It’s That Pumpkin Time of Year!

Fall happens to be my favorite time of year. Amongst all of the stress and emotions, I have tried really hard to stop and breathe and look at the colors, even though they were fairly muted this year. These are cell phone pics. I did get the new camera about 2 weeks ago, and I’ve been reading the manual, but haven’t gotten the guts up to use it yet.

We even got some pumpkins and mums and attempted to decorate.

I hadn’t really had a chance to do too much pumpkin baking, but made time last week to try something new. Sally’s Baking Addiction Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bundt Cake was the winner.

Unfortunately, we didn’t grow any type of pumpkins or pumpkin-like baking squash this year, so had to settle for canned. It is what it is. Here are just a few pics.

I have a pretty narrow bundt pan with a wide circumference, so I knew it wouldn’t turn out quite the same as Sally’s.

I should have thought to cut some of the pointier peaks off because once I turned it upside down and cut individual pieces, they toppled over. Next time.

So so soooooooo good!!!!

It really has continued to be unusual times in our household. We have been trying so hard to catch up. I have been trying hard to get back to moving the body, though it’s in the form of walking, and only a mile or two at a time. In the few moments when I do stop and relax, I sometimes have company.

Pergola Proud

Every day I have good intentions of putting together a blog post. It actually takes way more mental energy than one might think, and I’m low on that lately. We still have a lot of rough family stuff to deal with, though I’m REALLY hoping we are on the other side of most of it now. The girls are good, which helps. We’ve crossed a few things off the huge to-do list, which helps. I’m cooking/baking some yummy stuff again, which helps. Fargo keeps us busy, which helps.

I realized, as we ate lunch in our new and beautiful outdoor space yesterday, that I never wrote the “we finished the pergola” post. Although it took longer than anticipated, and due to The Lost Summer we haven’t been able to use it as much as we anticipated, it is done and it is wonderful. Neither of us can believe how it has changed the patio space into so much more than it was.

You can go back and see the earlier stages of the project here: Pergola I and Pergola II. We had gotten as far as putting enough of the structure together that it was time to fasten it to the concrete. Unfortunately, that process was more intense than we had anticipated. Between needing (very good) friends and relatives to lift the sucker into place, to chalking out where it would sit, to moving it away again, and then moving it back once the rubber footers were fastened, all proved challenging. The fastening was a hurdle as well, since the lag bolts kept breaking off and we had to get new ones. Finally, the fastening was done.

And the structure was attached.

This particular pergola has a high table on one side and a bench seat on the other. Next step was the table.

Fargo supervised, as per usual.

At that point, we decided not to use the bench seat. After spending some time walking around the patio and assessing the things, it seemed like it would close in the space too much. I am very happy with our decision.

We found some high stools to go with the high table. We mixed and matched some end of the season outdoor furniture. We attached a shade above the high table that can pull down to the ground (if necessary) and block the setting sun. The shade makes the space usable, as the hot late afternoon sun was one of our main problems.

It’s pretty fantastic!

We are hoping to use the heck out of it starting next Spring. I enjoyed working with hubby on this project and I’m hoping we can do more empty nest building of stuff together.

Sauerkraut

It was about a year ago that a friend and I got to talking about sauerkraut, of all things. She had made some and then was nice enough to bring a jar in for me. It was awesome! Being the wild and crazy empty nester that I am, I decided right then that I wanted to add cabbage to our garden this year, specifically to make sauerkraut. Hubby was totally on board.

I opted for Gunma from Fedco Seeds after reading all of the descriptions. The resulting cabbages were HUGE!!! We had four of these suckers!

My friend loaned us her Ball Canning book when it was time to shred. Sounded pretty simple, but it was a LOT of shredding.

As I shredded each batch, hubby salted it. I guess I didn’t realize that sauerkraut is simply cabbage and salt left on its own to do its thing.

There are quite a few ways to ferment the cabbage into sauerkraut, we opted for jars. Thanks to my friend, Beth, who gave me many jars of grain to grind, there were a few large ones in the house. Hubby smashed the cabbage down into the jars while I still continued to shred.

Once we filled four jars, we used cheesecloth to cover the cabbage and sewing weights in sandwich bags to hold the cheesecloth down.

 

Time to stink up the house! Every few days we removed the scum that formed, but otherwise, it was low maintenance. Fast forward to five weeks later. We used the smaller three jars this morning for the first batch of canning. We need to get some more small jars in order to do the rest.

We tried the “raw” sauerkraut, but it definitely has a different taste, neither of us was super excited about it. We again followed the directions from the Ball Canning book and cooked the cabbage until simmering.

Ta-da! And I can tell you, as we dropped sauerkraut everywhere and ate the dropped blops trying to get it into the smaller jars, that it is crazy delicious.

As soon as we have time, we’ll do the rest. It will be interesting to see if a few days more of fermentation makes any difference in the taste. It’s definitely going to be an every year thing!

Special note: As an early anniversary/holiday gift, we picked out a fancy camera for beginners. Hopefully it will improve the pictures on the blog…once I actually learn to use it.