The Lost Summer

Back in mid July, I started drafting a blog post entitled, “Walking is Our New Running.” Hubby is no longer able to run so we were trying to embrace walking together. We had been doing pretty well the previous few weeks, walking 4-5 mornings/week, seeing pretty sunrises. I was going to include pics of the pretty sunrises and scenery in the post, like this:

Hubby’s body even managed a 4 miler, which was our last real walk. In the third week of July, we said goodbye to our Summer.

Who here has ever heard of Babesiosis? It’s a tick borne parasite. Only a very small number of you? I hadn’t heard of it either, until my dad contracted it. Here is some information:

https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/babesiosis/index.html

From the “Disease” page, some important information that pertains to my dad is that Babesiosis can be a severe, life threatening disease if you do not have a spleen. My dad does not have a spleen and he became critically ill. We are pretty certain that if his family doctor (whom I called and thanked), did not immediately think to have his blood tested for this parasite, my dad would not still be with us. It’s been a months long recovery, and his red blood cells are still being monitored.

I share this, in more detail than the happenings in the rest of our lost summer, as a heads up, a plea, to be vigilant about checking yourself and your pets for ticks. My parents are not outdoorsy. The chances of them getting a tick bite are very slim, let alone my dad getting a tick bite from a tick with babesia. All of the doctors and researchers are saying that Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases are on the rise. Please don’t take any chances.

At this point, let’s just say that the bad news Summer continued. We lost both of my in-laws, 10 days apart, and learned that a close family member has terminal cancer.

It’s been hard on the girls, and on us, that they’re so far away. With the eldest no longer in college, she moved further from campus. The girls don’t see each other as often, so when they sent us a picture together, it helped our hearts.

The pergola and pergola space got finished, but we haven’t had been able to really make use of it (pergola post to follow later).

It’s been hard to give Fargo The Terrible the time he deserves. He did his best to hang in there (always more Fargo pics to follow later).

It’s been hard to do anything in the house beyond the basic dishes/laundry. (I can’t bring myself to share a pic of the messy house to illustrate). As you may have noticed, there have been no blog posts for a long time. It’s been hard to find the energy to do more than the bare minimum. We are lucky to have friends/neighbors who made us food. THANK YOU, you know who you are!! It has been hard keeping up with the garden produce, and a few things did end up going to waste.

We randomly had enough hours and energy, at the same time, to be productive. We are attempting to make sauerkraut, which is currently smelling up the closet in which it resides (sauerkraut post to follow later).

We got one batch of peppers canned. We are calling these (and any batch of cheesy roasted peppers we make) Pepper Roulette this year. Every once in a while, there’s a HOT one in the mix and it can be from any of the three varieties.

We made a first go at pickles (pickle post to follow later).

And we just got the sweet potatoes harvested last weekend. They are smaller and many are unusually shaped, but hopefully they are yummy.

A more positive and productive Fall is welcome.

Entering Summer ’17

As we transition from spring into summer, there are some new flowers and colors and growth to admire.

Just when we were breathing a sigh of relief that the strawberries and cherries were petering out, the black raspberries started to ripen.

Echinacea, pink and white, is adding to the perennial bed beauty.

The larkspur is creating a flower jungle. My plan is to try and keep on top of the seed pods as we definitely don’t need it spreading farther than it already has…we’ll see how that goes.

Fargo is helpful as always while we work outside. In this case, he thought my pile of branches needed a little unpiling.

The veggies are coming along. I dealt with some aphids on the tomatoes. Something is eating bean leaves, but the plants seem to be hanging on overall. Cucumber and squash plants are having trouble getting past germination. We’re not sure if it’s a seed fail or if something is eating them as soon as they pop.

A quick brag picture because hubby was really rockin the crusts towards the end of pie week. Woven lattice tops for the win!

Feel free to follow me on instagram. Some pictures are repeats in the blog, but not all.

Spring ’17 Continued

I have been having fun taking flower and Fargo pictures.

Tulips in the morning.

Same tulips in the afternoon.

Fargo loves being out in the sun, but I’m not sure he’s really able to relax.

With a ton of help from Fargo…

The first round of veggie garden weeding is DONE! Unfortunately, there will be many more rounds because the only thing we don’t have to work hard to grow is weeds.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

A few weeks ago our neighbor dropped off a yummy treat. As soon as we tried it, I asked her for the recipe because it was amazing. Apparently, it’s an old recipe, so old that she can’t remember where it originally came from. In addition, she has tweaked it a bit, so there is no link and I am crediting our neighbor. I have now made it twice, and I tweaked it a bit too which I will mention later.

The first thing that stood out to me about the recipe instructions, was to combine boiling water and the oats. (I just noticed that my finger is photobombing this picture…nice…)

I had fun trying to spread the chips and the walnuts evenly and prettily across the top.

Finished product.

The first time I made the cake, I mostly followed the recipe, just used dark chocolate chunks in the batter vs chips. It seems to me to be fairly low in sugar to begin with, but the second time, I replaced a bit of sugar with honey, and used all dark chocolate chunks, no chips. The dark chocolate chunks from Trader Joes seem less sweet than the chips. It is still delicious the second time around, even with my tweaks. I froze and mailed some of the first batch to the kiddos, hoping to get a taste test report soon.

I have not yet figured out how to add recipes so that they are easily printed. SORRY!!

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups boiling water and 1 cup of old fashioned or quick cooking oats and let stand 10 minutes.

Sift together:

1 3/4 C flour (I used 1 cup of white wheat and 3/4 cup freshly ground hard white wheat)

1/2 t salt

2 T cocoa powder (I used Special Dark Cocoa)

1 t baking soda

 

Add to oatmeal and mix well:

1/2 c butter

1/2 c white sugar (I used a little less and subbed in honey)

1/2 c brown sugar

2 large eggs

Add flour mixture and 6 oz chocolate chips. Pour into a 13″ x 9″ greased pan (I use coconut oil for greasing) and sprinkle top with 6 oz chocolate chips and 1 3/4 c chopped walnuts. Bake about 40 minutes.

In between the baking, cooking, cleaning, volunteering for a dog rescue, blogging and yard work, I humor my spoiled empty nest pup when he wants me to hold his chew toy while he chews.

I got out twice this past week for just over two miles each time. I’m trying to get back into the groove, but it is darn freaking hard. I may sign up for a half in early November to try and motivate myself to do better. I just wish I knew if it would actually motivate me, or just make me feel guilty if I don’t get miles logged.

Molly on the Range Recipe Round Up Part II

I didn’t think that I had taken so many pictures of the Molly recipes, but when I started typing out and putting together the post, I realized I needed to break it into two. Here is the second half. Hopefully I will test out even more in the near future, though tonight I’m going with a Spicy Cauliflower Burger from Pinch of Yum. I’ll report back on that one soon.

Unfortunately, Molly doesn’t have an online link to her Shakshuka Couscous, so I have a link to a post by Sarcastic Cooking. I haven’t spent much time on this site, so I don’t know much about it. Molly does not use Adobo Sauce, she uses Harissa seasoning. I had never heard of Harissa before, but luckily my mom happened to have some and she gave it to me. As a side note, I just saw Harissa Salsa at Trader Joes, though I didn’t try it yet. Molly doesn’t use pepper jack cheese, she uses feta. I believe these are the only two ingredient differences.

The onions, garlic and seasonings smelled incredible.

Molly says you can make this without the couscous if you don’t have time to let it cook. She has a whole backstory to this dish which is fun to read. I used the veggie broth base and I think I should have added a little more liquid.

This was interesting. It took way longer for the eggs to cook than I had anticipated.

Molly says you can leave them uncovered if you like a runnier yolk, or you can spoon the tomato/coucous mixture over top if you want more of a buttery textured yolk. That’s what I opted to do, especially since they were taking so long to cook. That is why you can’t see the eggs below.

Hubby thought it was excellent. I thought it was a little thick and overly tomato-y. I liked it a lot, but will definitely try to adjust just a tad next time.

My Ex-Boyfriend’s Meatless Balls was a MUST just because I thought the title was great. As mentioned in the previous post, the link goes to a video that Molly made. I have to give her credit for saying you use nuts without laughing. In the book, she gives the option to choose walnuts or almonds. I went with walnuts and I toasted them in the frying pan for a few minutes.

Then everything goes in the food processor, and blend. I tried to mix too much vs pulse and my blade began to lift from the bottom again. I had to mix more by hand. Also, I need to figure out how to fix my burner because the frying pan is tipped enough that the oil isn’t evenly divided, thus the bizarre looking arrangement below.

Let me tell you, these are AMAZING!! We tried one on its own and then we did the actual pasta with sauce/meatballs thing.

You can’t even tell by looking at them that they are meatless. And did I mention they were AMAZING?? Hubby, the meat eater, was super impressed. We were both very excited for lunch leftovers the next day. Definitely bringing these back for a repeat performance soon.

Fargo was, once again, worn out by all of the food excitement.

 

Playing With The Fancy Camera

One of these days, I’ll understand the light issues/adjustments. But otherwise, I’ve been having some fun. A few turned out pretty neat. I could literally take sunrise and sunset pictures every darn day and never get bored. Of course, I never seem to get bored or tired of taking Fargo pictures either.

Three of the many balls in the yard.

Poor attempt at fixing color issues due to incorrect light settings.

More playing with color adjustments.

Social Media

I am not well versed in social media. I get by with Facebook and I’m still learning Snapchat a year later. Hubby and I only finally agreed to let the girls put Snapchat on our phones because it would mean hearing more frequently from them (though I do admit it’s been fun). Although I understand that the idea of Snapchat is that the pictures disappear and, therefore, don’t take up room on phones…I may or may not screenshot some…or a lot.

As I try to figure out what my goals are for this blog, expanding into more social media platforms seems to be a good step. Having an empty nest is different for everyone and it would be nice to draw in others who are figuring out how to approach their new normal. Creating a space to mutually support each other as we try new hobbies, or second careers, or travel more, or deal with crazy puppies, etc. would be fantastic.

So, with the help of my girls, this blog now has an Instagram:

instagram

And a Twitter:

twitter

Fargo is pretty pumped to be the star of all of my social media pages.

fargo paws

I’m thinking that the next step will be a Facebook page. Oh, and figuring out how to best use it all. Suggestions are more than welcome.

Blogaversary

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I started this blog. I probably don’t have any more readers than I did a year ago, but it’s been a really great personal project. I have gone back to posts about recipes and activities for reference and I’ve used it to reminisce about the past year. A huge thank you to those of you who have read, supported and contributed thoughts, ideas and supplies to this venture!

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of running since the big running weekend in October. There has actually been no running since the big running weekend in October. With hubby’s running ban, I’ve tried to get out walking with him almost daily. Definitely easier on some days than others at this time of year. Maybe the new year will bring back some running mojo…maybe?

It’s been great having the girls walk with us.

family walk

Fargo continues to add “The Terrible” to his name in terms of leash manners. Every time I think we’ve made some solid progress, he does something TERRIBLE in terms of pulling and lunging behavior. I so want him to just walk nicely for us. He also still zoomies, which can be painful/dangerous if you are in the way. Everything we read says most dogs are done with the zoomies by age one. Fargo The Terrible is going on three and he is obviously NOT most dogs.

Then he does this and The Terrible is forgotten:

fargo leg snuggle

fargo b chair

I think my baking skills have progressed pretty well, and the next post will be about the first go with the grain mill. Now that I have different grains, and new bread baking book (thanks hubby!), I am excited to try some different breads.

We are still cleaning the garage (mostly hubby is still cleaning the garage) with the idea of creating work space. I have done more cross stitch lately in the attempt to get back to hobbies and try new ones. I have yarn for a knitting project and will soon be getting wood for a furniture building project. Good indoor winter stuff.

I have used the eldest’s camera to play with photography more than just with a cell phone.

tufted titmouse

dec winter sunrise

The next decision will be what to do with the blog. After a year, am I ready to see if anyone else is interested in empty nest trials, tribulations and adventures? Am I ready to try and attract more readers beyond family and friends? I have purposely avoided common tags, and made up funny and obscure ones, which hubby always points out with a “aren’t tags supposed to help people find you?” Maybe it’s time to be less obscure.

 

 

December, Part II

THE ELDEST IS HOME!!!! She brought her bestie with her for a few days. And their wish for snow was granted. Not a ton of snow, but enough for it to look pretty and give them a dose of Winter.

The nest is partially full and Fargo is happier. Hubby and I may be just a little bit happier too. Fargo is also pretty happy about the snow and about playing in it with his popped soccer ball (this is why we can’t have nice things).

fargo snow ball

fargo snow ball 2

Bundle up!

bundle up

This makes my heart happy.

happy fargo

Counting down the hours til the nest is FULL!!