Getting Ready for Winter (and a sweet potato recipe)

It’s been busy around here the past two weeks. We haven’t gotten much further on the garage, though that is the main project again for today. Most of the daylight hours, which are way fewer now, have been spent on outside projects.

We cleaned out the garden.

garden clean up

Hubby downed some trees, cut them up, hauled them home, split them and then I helped move the piles (this picture does not represent the piles, I had already moved them)…

wood piles

…so he could stack all of the wood. It’s almost a work of art.

wood stacking art

Meanwhile, I used the first of this season’s sweet potato crop in some African Stew, recipe at the end of this post.

african stew

Which we ate with a fresh loaf of bread (almost a year of home baked bread).

bread loaf

We added a new attachmentl to the pretty kitchen power tool. A grain mill, which seems to be heavy duty. I’m hoping to test it out today on some wheat grains I bought and I will be sure to report back on how it went. This is a terrible picture.

grain mill

The African Stew recipe I use is from a children’s cookbook the girls got as a gift years ago. I have not been able to find a replica of this recipe online, so I’m going to type it out longhand. I’m sorry that I’m not tech savvy enough to be able to offer you a “printable version.”

2 T oil (I use olive oil)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato

1 can chick peas

1/2 cup brown rice

1/4 t salt

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 cups chopped kale

2 T lemon juice

1 T soy sauce (I have made it without soy sauce and it was still yummy)

hot pepper, ground or flakes (optional)

*saute garlic and onion in oil until softened, then add 2 T stock and cook 3-5 minutes longer

*add remaining stock, sweet potato, chick peas, rice and salt

*bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes

*remove 1/4 cup of liquid and mix with peanut butter, pour back into stew and mix well

*add kale, cook 5 minutes

*add lemon juice and soy sauce and hot pepper to taste



Cleaning Out the Garage

As I mentioned in my Hobby Adventures post, in order to pursue a few of the hobbies I have on my list, the garage space needs to also be a work space. Cleaning out the garage is perpetually on the “to do” list anyway, so I encouraged hubby to move it up in priority. We spent many hours on it this weekend and though I know we made progress, it is a way bigger project than I had anticipated and a way more emotional project as well.

Garages (and closets and basements) often become the repository for things we don’t immediately know what to do with, for things we think we may someday have a use for, for things we are saving for our kids to use when they get their own place, for things that have monetary or sentimental value that we don’t want to get rid of, etc. Over the years, there is a subtle encroachment on usable space, and one day, you realize that you can barely fit one car in a garage meant for two.

Some of the decisions are easy. There are things we haven’t used in years, the girls will never use them, time to go. But then the question of garbage or give away or sell arises, and that answer is not so easy.

For example, a perfectly good light fixture from our bathroom. We are not shiny brass fans.

light fixture

Or the sink from last winter’s renovation project that is in great shape (we bought a vanity with an integrated top).

bathroom sink

Believe me, there are way more things that fall into this category, but I won’t bore you. I posted pictures on Facebook and no one local expressed interest. So now what do we do? Does this stuff just go to the landfill? Or do we put it on eBay? Or a local free/for sale page? These are the questions that come up over and over again.

The next category is memorabilia/stuff from grandparents/relatives. We found a box of cassette tapes from when the girls were little. We don’t have a tape player any more. I was on my way to the garbage can to toss them all in when I stopped and thought I should just check eBay. People are selling these on eBay, so they’re now sitting in the house with the little vases and candle sticks and ceramic coasters…



bud vase

It’s out of the garage, but in the house, and I’m just not sure what to do with it all. And I’m guessing there will be more as we continue on through the garage.

We also found a journal from when one of the girls was in third grade. There are three entries, much of the entries are about what a brat her sister is (was). It choked us up a little, and made us chuckle because we could totally picture her writing it then, and maybe even writing a version of it now. It choked us up because it seems like yesterday and because even though that daughter thought her sister was a brat, and I’m sure the other daughter felt the same about her, they have become the best of friends. Their relationship is more than I ever could have imagined and I am grateful beyond words. Empty nest is hard on a day to day basis, but stuff like this amplifies the distance and lack of togetherness.

I can’t end this post about the garage without mentioning the 1972 Cub Cadet. Hubby bought the Cub Cadet around 10 years ago because it was a solid tractor, made when they still made real tractors for lawn and garden.  It would be our snow removal equipment, and it was in great shape. Ten years ago was the last time it worked.

cub cadet

I have tried to convince hubby that we should sell it, and I have teased him repeatedly about it decorating the garage, and I have asked him to get rid of it, but he is determined that he will get it running again…


Hobby Adventures Part II

I have been thinking a lot about some of the new hobbies I would like to try out. Luckily, many of them either do not require a huge investment into supplies, we already have the supplies, or someone we know has the supplies which we can borrow.

Two posts back I wrote about my first attempt at photography. I have been playing with the camera, mostly taking pictures of Fargo and sunsets.

Some are pretty terrible.

blurry fargo pic

Some are pretty good.

faro face

fall sunset

I mentioned that I had crocheted, but I have never knitted beyond a few rows of basic knit/pearl. When I visited my parents, I looked through some of my mom’s MANY bins and bags of yarn and found some I like. I think I will try some sort of smaller shawl/scarf type item.


I would like to try and build a piece of furniture. We have most of the tools necessary, or we have access to them. This past summer we planned to build a pergola. Actually, hubby was mostly planning it, but I think I would like to be more involved if possible. But I also want to try and build shelves, or something for the kitchen, or a potting table, or something to go under the pergola.

Maybe something like this.

I would like to try and refinish an older piece of furniture. My father-in-law refinished many pieces in his time, and I love them all. The issue with both building and/or refinishing, is where to do this. Between the dust and the fumes, I’m not sure we have an appropriate space. Maybe we need to spend a few weeks really working on the garage…

messy garage 1

messy garage 2

Ok, maybe it might take a few months. And then I think our first furniture project will be this one.

My father-in-law gave us directions on how to build a quilting frame. This could be a two in one project, building something and then use it to making a quilt. I like this pattern, but would likely wait until I can enlist the help of my youngest, the artist, to come up with the color combination.

I did a ton of baking the past few days and we canned another batch of peppers. We’ll continue to work on updating the house, the master bedroom is on the list for this winter. Of course there is always dishes, laundry, playing with the crazy puppy, raking leaves, etc, but I’m excited to add a few of these new projects to the list.

Oh, and does rescuing another dog fall under the “hobby” category?





Catching Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks, and the longest number of days between posts since I started this blog about 9 months ago. We have said some temporary and more permanent good-byes, and saying good-bye is hard. There has been a lot going on with garden veggie processing, baking, Fargo-ing, kitchen updating and some running. There has not been enough going on with cleaning, organizing, weeding…but really, when is that list ever done?

Also, blogging is fun, but it’s hard work. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Blogger’s Block (is that a thing?). The process of coming up with ideas for posts, taking and editing pictures, and putting words together has seemed like too much time and energy…until today.

I have done a lot of baking, mostly to gift to others, but I’ve been baking the old favorites and not adventuring into new recipes. The most recent thing I baked was Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, also an old favorite, but maybe new since the blog.

pupmkin bread

Though I generally follow the recipe, I have tweaked it quite a bit, using hubbard squash just for starters. I also cut the sugar down by one cup and use a cup of white sugar and a cup of brown. I use 1/2 cup applesauce in substitution for 1/2 of the oil. I use 1/2 white wheat flour instead of all white. I leave out the cloves, which I do for most recipes that call for cloves. I finish it off by adding semi sweet chocolate chips because everything is better with chocolate.

I spent a few hours over the weekend making fresh salsa, now that we finally have a few ripe tomatoes. I added onion, cucumber and peppers (green and Hungarian Hot Wax) from the garden, locally grown corn (more on that in a minute), a little vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Hubby said it was the best ever.

fresh salsa

In the top left corner of the salsa, you can just see a plastic bag full of many ears of corn. That bag is actually the second bag of corn our neighbors gave us. Here is a picture of the first bag.

bag o corn

Although I didn’t actually count, I believe we husked, steamed, cooled and sliced (for freezing) around 6 dozen ears. Thank you wonderful neighbors!

And, to top off the weekend, for the first time in our homeowner lives, we have an over the stove microwave. Thanks to the hubby for his hours of work on this baby!


Although it made good sense on its own, especially given that the current unit is 20 years old, there was some ulterior motive. We are hoping that we can use the space our current microwave is sitting on for more baking room.

I will stop there for now. Happy Monday to all!

Rain Barrel

It was a pretty darn dry summer, and it was super stinky hot too. We have talked a few times about getting a rain barrel to help supplement the water we use for food crops, and this year we got one. In researching rain barrels, we saw images of some with beautiful paintings on them.

Given that we have amazing artists in the family, and the one who excels in painting was going to be home for a month, it seemed a shame to leave the rain barrel in its plain state.

Here are some images of the rain barrel project.

Base coat:


Fargo supervised:


Adding some background:


Looking amazing already:


Finished and we LOVE it!


Yard art at its FINEST!




Beautiful New Fence!

It has been a long time since I posted about ripping down our old disintigrating garden fence, \which the hubby designed and built and I loved, in preparation for a new one. In the interim, there has been much planning/research/design/purchasing and there have been lots of things going on that have kept it from actually getting built.

We typically spend a good chunk of Memorial Day Weekend planting the garden. This time around, during Memorial Day, the soil was ready (once we got Fargo to let us broadfork his new favorite spot) and the pathways were cleared:

soil ready

soil ready 2

And the plants were ready:

veggies ready

The peppers were so ready they had flowers and…peppers!

pepper flowers

baby peppers

I mean, these veggie starts are SCREAMING to be planted. Given that we share space with bunnies, deer, groundhogs, etc. where we live, I would have bet money that planting without a fence would have meant disappearing veggie plants within a day or two.

As of yesterday evening, we have a fence!! I have to admit, I was worried about whether I would like it. I knew what the plan was, but I just couldn’t decide if I thought it was a good plan. I can honestly say…I LOVE IT! I think the hubster did an absolutely amazing job with the design and construction (even through rain).

finished fence

There are some finishing touches that still need to be added, and I think we will eventually relocate the gate. The plan was to do that right away, but it got scrapped for the sake of getting the project finished. But I truly think it is beautiful.

I think the bluebirds agree and will be happy the construction is finished:


I’m not sure Fargo approves, however.

poor fargo



Apparently, weeks of abnormally dry weather, followed by weeks of ridiculously wet weather makes for an incredibly beautiful dogwood. It is truly one of the highlights of Spring each year, but this year it deserves its own post.

early dogwood


fargo dogwood

dogwood close


I try to spend time looking at it to balance out the amount of weeds I look at during the MANY hours I’ve spent weeding during the last few weeks. The dogwood makes me happy!


Beauty of Spring

Although I have only run once since Sunday, and if I went and changed right this very minute I’d have time to do a short run this morning, it’s not happening. Maybe I will run after work? In the meantime, I am looking back at pictures I have taken over the past two weeks and realizing how much I love the beauty of Spring. If I’m going to be honest, I must add that I’m not a fan of spring allergies.

Fargo and I have spent a ton of time outside this week. I weed, he spies on the neighbors and poses for pictures.

fargo tulips

He knows everything that goes on next door!

fargo spying

This dogwood tree made a great backdrop for prom pictures.

fargo dogwood

Sometimes Fargo needs to rest…while I continue to weed…

fargo resting

This bleeding heart looked rough after the late frost, but has really recovered nicely.

bleeding heart

It was cold and rainy yesterday and it’s supposed to stay that way for a while. We needed the rain, for sure, but there is still so much outside work to do. Of course, there’s quite a bit of inside work to do as well, since I’ve been ignoring the inside list for the outside list…


Lamb’s Ear

Do NOT let it get out of control…like this…

lambs ear

It takes forever to do this…

ripping lamb's ear out of garden

That pile is the base of an old butterfly bush (invasive, do not plant) and the lamb’s ear from about 1/3 of one perennial bed. Great way to work the hammies and make them sore to balance out the OUCH in my quads from the Half.

Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with my perennial beds. Right now, I’m leaning more towards hate. They are SO MUCH WORK!! For whatever reason, the past two years, the grass and the lambs ear have been attempting a coup.

It’s all lambs ear!!!!! Last year I ripped the lambs ear out of the closer half, and you’d never know it.

lambs ear

I was late in removing the old growth from the front beds, saved it for last, because I worry about Fargo being out front, near the road. And because I didn’t want to see all of the grass and the weeds hiding under last year’s dead flowers.

old growth

Fargo was quite helpful, as usual.

Fargo always helping

At least it will look better from the road, just don’t look up close.

cleared and raked

It would be easier if we used chemicals, but we don’t. I have spent at least an hour weeding, almost every day, for the last two weeks, and you would never know. But once the flowers, and the plants that are supposed to be there, really kick into gear I will be back on the love side of the scale.

The hubster thought it would be fun to share that his dinner tonight, was wild roasted turkey (he brought home from a hunting trip last week and prepared himself), on a sandwich with home baked bread, a sweet potato from our garden and homemade cookies for desert. All of the hard work does have its rewards!