Monday, December 21, 2009

An early Christmas present...

I have a little story to tell today. Once upon a time, a girl fell in love with a blog. (Technically, after the birth of 5 children, I guess I could be considered a woman...but it makes me feel old, so I'm going with "girl".) The blog is The Pioneer Woman and Ree Drummond is her name. She doesn't know it, but she's my BFF. I love to read about her conversion from city girl to country girl and all the things that go on with a working cattle ranch. And, her ranch is in the same area as my grandparent's home, so I know exactly where she is and where the towns are that she discusses on her blog. It makes me feel like I know her better than all the other readers because I've been to her town and could probably stalk her if I wanted to...which I don't... well, maybe I do want to, but I won't.
Anyway, a few months ago she wrote a cookbook. Now, I don't usually buy cookbooks, unless they have something to do with slow cooking. But let me tell you dear friends, I love her recipes. I've tried several and each one has been fantastic. So, when she posted her "Griswold Book Tour", I noticed that her very first stop would be Tulsa, my old stompin' ground. So, I thought it would be fun to go over for the evening, do a little shopping at Utica Square, eat somewhere fun, and then go to her signing. I figured I'd get a book there and then have her sign it. Sounds good...right.

The signing started at 7:00 p.m. and I figured I'd get there 10 minutes early to get a spot... Well, I knew something was wrong when I got to the driveway of the location and the line to get in the parking lot was all the way in to the street....hhhmmmmm.... Looks like a lot of people. When I finally got into the parking lot, there were simply no places to park. I drove around for about 25 minutes and finally found one about a block away. Of course, I now realize that the entire city of Tulsa has decided to attend and it's going to be a long night. I don't really care because I'll get to meet my hero...The Pioneer Woman! And, get her lovely signature in her beautiful cook book that I'm even willing to pay full price for!

I get to the door of the location and honestly, I can't get in. Women are stuffed into the building and I truly cannot get in the door. Some people are coming out and one of them told me that all the books sold out in about 10 minutes....there aren't any more books. What!! Because some people are leaving, I'm finally able to get in the door, but I can't go anywhere. I was pressed against the wall with about 500 women. I can't even see PW. I can hear her, and she sounds lovely....but there is no way I'm going to be able to see her with all these women. I stood there, against the wall, for about 40 minutes. By now it's almost 8:00, and I've got a 1 1/2 hour drive home...there's no books, so there's no reason to even stand in line to see her. So, I left. A little disappointing, but I'm positive that the organizers had no idea there would be such a turnout.

I posted about my experience on her blog...encouraging others to bring their own books and to get there early.
Guess what!!

She saw my post and emailed me personally!! I got an email from PW...she felt badly that I hadn't gotten to see her after my long drive, so she said she'd mail me a couple of signed copies. I emailed her back and told her that I thought it would be so wonderful if she'd send me some for me and one for my friend, Adelia. Well, I waited, and waited, and waited... She was on her tour and really busy, so I just figured she'd get around to it eventually. Then, one day, she posted on her blog that if anyone wasn't able to come to her signing, she'd be happy to sign their books if we'd send them to her. Ohhhhh.... I'm pretty sure she meant for me to SEND her some books to sign...

Well, I noticed that she had tacked on one more stop on her Tulsa... And, it wasn't really publicized much... So, I thought I'd try again... I went over on Saturday. Here's where I went...
The signing started at 1:00, so I got there around 12 noon... I wasn't taking any chances this time... I got my number and hung around for an hour in a bookstore. At 1:00, she arrived.
I was number 30, so at 1:30, here's what happened... I met my BFF for the first time...
We had a really deep one minute conversation!
She was lovely and she signed my for me and one for my friend...
Adelia...give me a call... I have your book. Merry Christmas friend...

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Drama...

It's been an eventful 2 weeks. You probably don't remember, but last year I went to an auction at a restaurant that was closing. I was able to win a new freezer. Not just any freezer, but my DREAM freezer. It has 3 doors and 75 cubic square feet. It's beautiful!! It was only 1 1/2 years old when I got it. It's so tall that it wouldn't fit through the garage door. Not a regular door, but the door you raise up and down to drive your car it... it's tall. Anyway, it's such a blessing and I use it a lot. I mean it. A LOT. It is packed to the brim. Ten days ago I went in to the garage to put something in the freezer and when I opened the door the light didn't come one. I looked at the thermostat and saw that the temp in the freezer was 38 degrees. It's usually -3. So, I knew it had been off for a while. My ice cream was already squishy! Roger came home and looked at it and couldn't find anything wrong with it. I called a heat/air guy and he said he'd come look at it the next day, which was a Saturday. I waited for him all day. I called him 4 times! He never showed and never picked up and never called. I was so frustrated because my food was defrosting! I called another heat/air guy and he came out the following Monday and said it looked like the compressor was out. So, I spent the next 2 days farming out all my stuff. We had 1/2 a cow, 5 turkeys, all my veggies/fruit from my garden, about 20 lbs. of chicken breasts...the list goes on. Thanks to the generosity and empty freezers of good friends, all our food is taken care of. The compressor should come in this week and I'm hoping it will be fixed before the weekend. It's going to cost a lot... Merry Christmas.

Then, to top it all off... Our neighbor's dog, of of the 2 that run loose, got into our chicken yard and killed 3 of our chickens. Thankfully, my Reds were in the coop and were safe. But the young chicks we were raising to try to get another female were in the yard and he got 3 of the 4. Naturally, the one that survived was the rooster! Ugh!! My Handy Man was able to go ahead and butcher 2 of the chickens, so I guess it's not a total loss. One of my friends has a rooster that she needed to get rid of, so she brought it over this weekend. He is gorgeous and crows every morning and evening. Handy Man likes to hear the crowing...he says it reminds him of his time growing up in Africa. I don't think the neighbors will appreciate it though, so he has to go...

But, not everything has been so full of drama. I had a few ladies over last week for a cookie party and it went really well. Of course, I didn't slow down enough to take pictures, so you'll just have to believe me that it was fun. I was chosen to host a Betty Crocker Cookie Party. They sent me a package in the mail that had several cookie mixes, treats for goody bags, recipes, and a $15 visa card for supplies. Fun.
I've just been chosen to do a Fun and Fit party in January. They are sending me a package with a special game for the Wii and also some healthy treats. If you're interested, let me know.

We're winding down our school and beginning to get excited about Christmas break. The kids have their piano recital this week and I have a get-together on Wed. evening. I think that's about it for us. Not a lot of things schedule after that... I like it that way :-) Handy Man has been working on his windmill and he's hoping it will be up in January. I keep telling him there's no rush, but he is excited to get it done.

I pray that anyone reading this is able to enjoy the holidays and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Much joy to you....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas...It's begun...

I'm feeling a little more bloggy lately. There's a lot going on right now and I'm reminded again and again how blessed I am. Friends that I love are struggling and I don't know how to help. So, I pray. And, I try to spend time with those I love most. So, here's what we did this evening.
Typically, we put up our tree on Thanksgiving night. This year we were in Dallas with our extended family and didn't get home until Sunday evening. The kids were all for putting up the tree, but after 6 hours in the car with heavy rain the whole way home...well, the tree would have to wait. Tonight was the night and they were very excited. I had gotten a Lego set about a month ago during a sale and I brought it out tonight for an extra surprise. It's the Lego Christmas Village... For one blessed hour, the punks worked together and helped each other get their village put together. Now THAT'S a gift!

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Week I Learned....

I have a write-board in our school room that I use to put a new journal entry up every school day. The kids have a notebook journal and are required to write at least 3 complete sentences for each entry. I thought that I might participate on my blog... no promises as to my consistency, but at least it will give me something to write when I have nothing to write.
Oct. 2 2009 Journal Starter -- This week I learned...

This week I learned that The Walmarts carries over 4000 items that are made with or from corn or corn products, including pudding, marshmallows, and graham crackers. Is that bad? I don't really know. I also learned that the Right Choices Corn Maze in Southwest City, MO, is really 45 minutes away...not 30 minutes. I also learned that the Everglades in Florida are a national park. And, I learned that during the Great Depression, one of FDR's many programs included hiring a few hundred thousand men for the CCC...a conservation program where the men worked at national parks, forests, and monuments. They made $30 a month. They lived in what looked like army barracks and had early morning calisthenics each day...and they were thankful. I've caught bits and pieces from the PBS special by Ken Burns on America's national parks. Even though the contents is surprisingly interesting, all his shows are alike... Even the music sounds like the music from his civil war special.
OK, I think I've reached my minimum of 3 sentences.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm back...sort of

It's been a while... I'm re-evaluating my time and the way I spend it. Not sure what this means for this blog... I guess I am trying to decide why I do it and if it's a reason that justifies the time. On top of that, I don't really have much to say :-). I talk about my chickens, my garden, my kids and family, but I'm not certain it's of any interest to anyone other than my aunt.

For example: Here is a picture of our grapes. Not enough to make wine, but plenty to make homemade grape juice.
It might not look like much, but when you have to take the stems off of all of those grapes...well, it seems like the mountain of grapes don't get any smaller. Handy Man and I worked on these grapes for about 4 hours. Of course, we didn't even get started until 9 o'clock. PM!! Why do we always do that?! By the end of the night/morning, I was in a grape juice induced stupor. I think there was about 50 lbs.
Anyway, once I got the stems off about 8-10 lbs, Handy Man would cook them so that the juice was about to burst out of the grape skins. Then, he'd put the purple blob in a straining bag and allow the juice to drip into a bowl. Once he had squeezed all the juice out of the hot grapes, we'd ladle it into quart jars. We ended up with about 15 quarts of grape juice concentrate. We went ahead and canned the juice in a water bath. Now, we just pop open a jar and add about 2 cups of water... It's heavenly. The yummiest grape juice EVER!! You wouldn't necessarily need to add water, but it still tastes amazing and makes it last longer. Now, I can pretend to be a grownup and have a wine glass of grape juice while Handy Man has his evening glass of red wine...for his heart, of course.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hatching a chicken...

Here's what's been going on at my house. We happened to peek in on this little one as he/she was beginning to hatch, so we caught the whole think on the camera. Science!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's Growing...

Some people grow roses... I buy mine (actually, Roger buys them).
Some people grow cucumbers and zucchini...I just wait until my firends (thanks Rebecca and Karan) have more than they can possibly eat and are giving it away. We just don't eat those veggies very I don't want to expend the energy or space for them.

Here's what I DO grow...

Lovely cantaloupe! I've harvest 2 so far and they are fabulous. I have about 14 on the vines right now.



and tomatoes... I've harvested about 75 lbs so I can make tons of spaghetti sauce.

I planted the green beans because we had the extra space. I've been getting about a handful each day and have harvested about 2 gallons. I think we'll plant more of those next year! They're yummy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Summer Reading

Yes, yes...I know. You haven't been able to sleep at night because you've been wondering what in the world has happened to Trish! Thanks for the thoughts, but you needn't worry. I'm here. I'm still trying to hang on to every last drop of summer... I'm gardening for the first time ever and am enjoying it immensely. And, I'm working on getting my act together to start school. But, enough about all that...
One of the things that I have enjoyed so much this summer is getting to read. So, I thought I'd do a little book list/review... I checked several of these books out from the library, so I don't have them in front of me, so I might not be able to give you the authors. You're smart. You can find it if you want to.

A Handmade Life - written my the gal that has the blog I really liked this book. It is a memoir that chronicles her life and the food that she associates with the times of her life. It has 50 recipes...including the Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake. I've made this twice and it's fantastic.

The Egg and I - By Betty MacDonald -- This book was written in the 40s, I think, and was a bestseller, which was rare for a woman. It tells about her and her chicken-loving husband living on a farm in Washington state. It was a funny book. I liked it.

Onions in the Stew - Betty MacDonal - Continues her story after a divorce, and a new marriage. She and her husband and 2 daughters move to an island in Washington state. It was ok, but I like the first book better.

Country Matters - Michael K? - Another book about a New York couple buying a farm and how they came to love it. It was a good book...easy to put down and pick back up. Has some language.

The Curate's Awakening - George MacDonald - A fabulous fiction book that deals with questions about God and faith. I try to read this book at least once a year.

A is for Apron - a book of apron patterns. I actually made an apron to hold clothespins and harvested produce. I love it.

The Magic Apple Tree - Another book that chronicles a life on the farm. Written by a gal that's famous in England. Another book that's easy to put down and pick up. I like reading about this you see a pattern?

I read several books about raising chickens. The one that I actually bought as a reference is The Joy of Keeping Chickens.

Made from Scratch - I loved this book. The author is Jenna W. and she has the blog Her book tells about her transformation from a city dweller to a country dweller in the city. She tells about her first attempt to raise chickens and other endeavors. And, she gives info on how you can start small as you head towards the goal of homesteading.

Hobby Farms - a sort of reference book on how to do things on a farm, but as a hobby.

I subscribed to 2 magazines that I really like. Hobby Farms is a magazine that deals with mainly the outside stuff...barns, pens, gardens, tractors, etc... The other magazine is Hobby Farms Home, which deals with the inside stuff. I like them both, but would go with HFHome if I had to choose one.

I read LOTS of cookbooks and information about canning and preserving...

Wow... I guess I was a little single-minded this summer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unattended Kids

I'm trying to savour each day of my summer vacation...and not let it get sucked up by the black hole that is "the internet". I don't know about you, but hours can just fly by when I'm online... So, I've been a little MIA on my blog... but I had to share this. Of course, it would NEVER apply to MY kids :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

So you won't get lost...

I was looking through a book that I had checked out from the library, and I saw a picture of something similar to this:

I thought it would be fun to have something like this in our backyard since we seem to be utilizing more of our land... We don't want anyone to get lost!
Roger cut out the arrows and I painted the words. I think you can make out most of the words, but for some reason the camera didn't pick up the bottom ones too well. There's school room, garden, chickens, shop, tree house, vineyard and orchard, beehives, and firepit.

And, I mentioned in my last blog post about my hatred of the Japanese Beetles. This is what is hanging from the arbor in my backyard... and if we didn't fight the JB's, these beautiful grapes would be all shrivled and black. Don't you think my hatred is justified?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ode to the Japanese Beetle

I don't toss around the word "hate" too often, but I have to be honest. I hate Japanese beetles. I hadn't seen too many around until these last two days. They are getting worse each day. I even called Handy Man at work yesterday a little freaked out because I was seeing so many flying around outside as I looked out my kitchen window. They're just evil looking...straight from... well, you know...
These are pictures of some JB on our lovely grape fines!! Argh!! On the picture below, it's hard to see, but there are about 6 beetles on that leaf. Double Argh!!!!
I am so bothered by these horrible creatures, I wrote an Ode.
Ode to a Japanese Beetle
How do I hate thee, let me count the ways.
You fly into my forehead causing me to slap myself unnecessarily.
You land in my hair leading me to dance around flailing like a spasmodic idiot.
But worst of all, you foul creature, you eat the leaves off my lovely fruits and vegetables.
I loathe you.
I dread the time of year you emerge from your hellish cocoon,
roaming to see what you can devour.
(Yes, the biblical analogy is intended.)
We will fight you oh formidable foe...
Insecticide is our friend as we wrestle to save our beautiful, sustaining crops.
Be gone you miserable, repulsive mass.

What do you think? You didn't know I had it in me, did you?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet The Girls

We have chickens. I can't even begin to explain how unlikely it is that this city girl, a lazy city girl at that, has decided to welcome these feathered creatures into our life. I have come a long way baby!
We have 3 girls that we hope will supply us with fresh eggs. Here's what they looked like when they arrived. They were little balls of puff that gave the sweetest chirps. They eat and poop like pros. Their first home was a box. It worked well for about a week. We then expanded their apartment to a larger box and it's worked well as they grow big enough to put outside in their permanent home...the Chicken Castle...otherwise knows as the chicken coop. They are named after our grandmothers. There is Bertha, Mildred, and Irene. They were much easier to tell apart when they were little...we've since had to put a black spot on their feet to make sure we keep them straight... Not that they care.

Here's what they look like now. They are about 4 weeks old and we have been putting them in their Castle during the warm days and bringing them back in the house during the chilly nights. We have a warming lamp in their Castle and in the evening they chow down on the unsuspecting moths. The hole in the floor leads down to the bottom of the coop which is fenced in and lets them be on the grass. They haven't really figured that out yet.

I think this is Mildred. She's the leader of the pack...just like grandma.

Here's a picture of their Castle. There are screened windows on the sides and a large door to check on them...or just visit with them. The nesting box goes over the porch so I don't even have to put my shoes on when we need to start gathering their eggs. Aren't I smart? And lazy?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Little Cow Patti

This is for my friends Adelia and Wendy, who've never heard this song. This was one of my dad's favorites.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's Up With the Garden

The garden isa growin'!!

Someone... someone anonymous asked for pictures of my square foot garden. I'm happy to oblige!

We have 2 boxes that are 8' x 4'. Technically, that's considered 4 boxes...they just happen to be connected. So, here's how it's goin'.
Box number 1: It is loaded with 4 roma tomatoes at the top, peppers in the second row, 2 plants of basil and 2 oregano in the third row, and the 4th row has on square of marigolds and then 3 squares of onions. Yum!!
The other half of that box (or you could call it box #2) has: 4 more roma tomatoes (for all that yummy spaghetti sauce I'm going to make!), 1 pepper and 3 squares of bush beans in the second row, 4 squares of beans in the 3rd row, and the last row has 2 squares of onions, a bean, and a marigold. I heard that marigolds are supposed to keep pesky pests away, like rabbits and such... we'll see...
The next box has this on one side: The top row has 2 roma tomatoes and 2 beefsteak tomatoes (for Handy Man's hamburgers :-), the 2nd row has 4 cantaloupe, the 3rd row has one parsley and 3 onions (I had the extra space so I just planted them last week), and the last row has one marigold and 3 beans.
The other side of this box looks a little sparse because we're staggering the corn. It has: on the top row, there are 4 cantaloupe. Here's the deal with the cantaloupe... I started these from seed during the cold in Feb. Well, I planted extra just in case some of them didn't make it to the garden. The problem is, they ALL survived and I'm to emotionally involved in all this to kill the leftovers. So, that's why we have 8 squares of cantaloupe. In the 3rd row, there are 2 empty squares saved for corn and then 2 squares of corn. In the last row, it's a marigold, then empty, then corn. Some of the corn didn't come up the first time and we had to replant a few of them, so we'll see how they turn out.
Finally, here's something that has absolutely nothing to do with my garden... It's my lemon tree! I have about 10 lemons that are growing every day!! Fun!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Somebody, Somewhere, is Bleeding!

Here's a scene I come upon at least twice a month.

Where: Utility room bathroom
What: Open Band-aid box

What else?
Band-aid trash for, like, 5 Band-aids.
Where else?
All over the bathroom. NOT in the trash. Come on! The trash can is right there!

And these pics were taken AFTER I'd already put a hand full of Band-aid trash...well, in the TRASH!
Seriously kids, if your injury requires 5 Band-aids, you should probably tell mom.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Terrific Taters

It's Mother's Day. I've had a lovely day and thought I'd blog a little. I had been meaning to post about baked potatoes for a while now. I don't know why, but baking potatoes always intimidated me. That, and making rice. Thanks to my crockpot, and my beautiful electrified rice cooker, I am now a rice and potato goddess. I discovered about 2 years ago that I can make baked potatoes in my crockpot. Since I have the "Big Mama" of crockpots, I can make 7 humdinger sized potatoes with no problem. Awesome!!

The details?

Wash your taters and scrub them clean. Or, if you like to eat dirt, and I've heard that there are those that do, then just skip that step. Next, I take a fork and poke each one about 5 or 6 times. I'm not sure why, but that's what all the recipes I've seen tell me to do. I have visions of potatoes exploding and covering my kitchen ceiling, so I don't mess with this part of the recipe. Always poke the potatoes!! Then, I take a stick of butter and I smear it all over the potato. Now, if you're not going to eat the skin, or you like the taste of dirt, I don't suppose you need to do this. However, it makes me feel a little bit gourmet when I drench them with butter...and I know how much you love butter! Who doesn't I'd like to know!! I plop those babies in the CP and cook on low for about 8 hours...or high for about 4. They come out steaming hot and fall-apart delicious. Then, you can put MORE fat on them... butter, cheese, sour cream... mmmm. I'll take two. After all, they ARE vegetables.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This and That

I keep thinking I need to post something... but I don't really have any earth shattering news or exciting events to write about. Wait! My oldest was talking at the dinner table last night and with his exuberant hand-waving, completely flipped over his plate of spaghetti. Most of it flipped into the butter tub. That's it. That's our exciting event. Is your heart racing?

For our family, the end of April and then through May is probably our busiest time of year. As we wind down our home school, warm weather taunts us as we get our algebra and spelling finished. And, it's time for my yearly "Project Surge". I am suddenly inspired to get busy with all these projects I keep seeing around the house. But, I. must. stay. focused... I've got to finish up May before I can tackle the fun stuff. That doesn't mean there's been no fun around here. My garden is up and running and I must say that I'm just tickled with it. Everything looks really good and we found beans poking through the fresh soil yesterday. I transplanted my cantaloupes today and will get a few marigolds in this weekend. See... not all work and no play.

I also had a birthday last Saturday. The yearly melancholy-ness came and went without too much ado... Birthdays and Mother's Days without a mother stink. But, my family came through and I had a lovely day. The weather was beautiful, and I felt loved.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Human Body

When I quit teaching in the public schools to stay home with my first son, I packed away all my stuff, thinking I'd save it for when I went back to work. Five children later, and with a decision to home school, well... I haven't had a (paying) teaching job is almost 15 years. Since I taught 3rd grade, it's always fun when one of my kids goes through that grade and I get to pull out some of the stuff I saved from those early years. Actually, I pull out saved stuff for almost every grade since we seem to go over the same stuff every year, just a different difficulty levels. For example, the human body. My 3rd grader and my 1st grader were covering that topic in both of their science schedules. So, I made a few schedule adjustments so they'd be going over that topic at the same time, and then I pulled out my human body stuff. I have copies of all the major components of the human body. We took butcher paper and traced and cut out their body so we could attach the parts as we studied them. These are so fun!

You can't see it, but the top of their heads will "flap" down so you can see their brains. And, behind the floppy lungs is a heart. You can see it peaking out from behind. The big pink/brown thing under the lungs is the liver, which is attached with a brad so you can look behind it and see the stomach, the gall bladder, the spleen, the pancreas and the kidneys. Under the liver is the intestines. The large intestines is a darker orange and is connected to the small intestines, which is a lighter orange. The whole group is also attached with a brad so you can look behind them and see all the other stuff. Then, one leg shows muscles, while the other leg shows bones.

These guys have been hanging in our school room since January, but it's time to roll them up and put them away. I told they boys that their "bodies" were blog worthy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Break in Italy

It's a really long, boring story...but through a twist of fate, Roger and I were able to go to Italy last month. I went with my girlfriend last year, and I was able to go back and take Roger with me. We were there over spring break...5 nights and 6 days. We had a blast! I was able to be a "tour guide", and I loved it. Our hotel was in ancient Rome, so we just walked out the door and down the block to visit the Colosseum, the Forum, and all the ruins of ancient Rome. We visited the Vatican and went to the top of the dome in St. Peter's Basilica. We went into the basement of St. Peter's and walked by the crypt of St. Peter himself! Ok, this man knew Jesus! And his remains were right there! Behind the rope, behind the glass, behind the security guard... We also saw the casket of Pope John Paul in the next room. Anyway, it was a fabulous trip.

The one thing we did this time that I didn't do on my first trip was take a train down to the city of Pompeii. Pompeii is about 2 1/2 hours from Rome by train, so I was tempted to just skip it. But, my 6 year-old actually studied Pompeii this year. When he found out that we were thinking about visiting Pompeii, he said, "Mom, all I want is something from Pompeii." Oh brother! I could have picked up something from Rome and faked it...told him it was from Pompeii...but I just couldn't do it. So, off we went. 5 hours round trip! It was the town that was buried about 2000 years ago from a volcanic eruption. The volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, is really there!! And the town, well, it's really there too. It was completely different than I imagined it. The town of Pompeii is about the size of Siloam Springs, not some little, tiny village that you can just look at and see the whole thing. It was really quite big. We were there for about 5 hours and still didn't see it all. I took a few pictures, but eventually, they all begin to look the same.

This is at temple in the Pompeii Forum, where they did all the government stuff. Sort of their version of Washington DC. Their worship of gods was intricately interwoven in their government. Imagine that!

Below is a picture of their small amphitheater. There are 2 more, and one of them is about the size of a football stadium. They had their own version of gladiator events.

This picture is to prove that we were actually there :-) I'm holding the Rick Steves guidebook, like a true tourist.

The museum had the plaster casts of the people that they found buried. When the volcano erupted, it spewed so much soot and debris that most people were killed when their roofs caved in on them. If they weren't killed by that, they suffocated. When they excavated the city, they would send small sensors down into the ground. When they would find a pocket of space, they would send plaster down into the tiny hole to fill the space. They would often find that the space was in the shape of a person, which meant that the person had been covered, and then had decomposed, but the shape of his body had been left behind.

I wonder if this person was praying when he died? Or trying to cover his mouth so he could breathe.
This person's skull was still intact when they recovered him.

Fabulous trip. Fabulous time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Cupcakes!

Here's what the Easter Bunny made for our Easter celebration! Aren't these adorable?

They are cupcake pops that I made on Good Friday. Some of you may remember that my BFF, the Crockpot Lady, used to post a recipe on her blog every single ding-dong day during 2008. Well, when Jan. 1, 2009 rolled around, for some reason, she thought she should go back to her real life. While she still post recipes every now and then, she's not providing me my instant recipe gratification, so I've begun to wander around the blogosphere a little. Hence, my 2nd BFF, Bakerella. She posts pictures of yummy cupcake pops that she makes, and if you aren't inspired by her pictures, well... I don't know what. Anyway, I figured I'd try to make some of my own.

The picture above looks like little cupcake soldiers, all in a row...excited, I'm sure, at the thought of being eaten. I used red velvet cake. I cooked it according to the box. Then, I crumbled it up and added a whole can of cream cheese frosting. That's right! A whole can! That moistened the cake up...A LOT! Then, I used a melon ball scooper to scoop out the cake and shape into balls. I chilled them overnight because I started way too late at night and was really tired. The next day, I shaped each ball into an oval and pushed one end into a little flower cookie cutter. This caused the other end to sort of mushroom over the cutter, hence... it looked like a cupcake. This was easy to do, but took a long time. The cake mix made 62 of these babies!! Once the cupcakes were shaped, I chilled them again. Then, I melted chocolate and dipped the bottoms of the cakes and added sticks. That's what your seeing in the picture above.

Once I finished the dark chocolate, I melted white chocolate and dipped in the tops. That's what you're seeing in the above picture. Then I used what I had on hand to decorate each one. I used regular m&m's, sprinkles, and sanding sugars. I can honestly say that the red velvet cake was the most awesomely moist cake I've ever had. I guess if you add enough fat, you can make just about anything taste great.
Once again, the kids think I'm a kitchen goddess... They have gone on and on about how yummy they are. And, each one is really only one bite of cake, (Ok, maybe 2 for those of you that would eat it nice and daintily instead of shoving the whole thing in your mouth like me), but they think their getting a "whole dessert" when they have one... This leaves more for me!
I bought a Styrofoam block to push the sticks into so they wouldn't get smashed, but I had no idea one recipe would make so many. I explained my quandary to my Handy Man, who immediately reached out and grabbed a box of Kleenex, grabbed the nearest ink pen, and proceeded to stab holes into the bottom of the box with questionable glee. Problem solved. That's why you see a Kleenex box in the last picture. And, that's just one of them... there's another Kleenex box full of pops, but it isn't in the picture. Happy cupcake Easter to us!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beautiful Compost

After I posted about my endeavor to garden, I got a couple of requests for pictures of my compost barrel. My Handy Man cut a door into the side and attached it with a hinge. Since we don't really need a lot of compost, we figured this barrel would produce about the right amount for us.
This is what it looks like when it's composting... Just a barrel, minding its own business...producing good enzymes to help the stuff inside become yummy compost, quickly. Notice that my boxes have their trellis poles up. These will be used to hold up the tomatoes and cantaloupes. I know what you're thinking... "Aren't cantaloupes too heavy to be on a trellis?" My friend, Mel Bartholomew, assures me that they can be trellised. And, when they get heavy, he says to use pantyhose to make a nice little cradle for them to use until they're ready to be picked. Walmart has their Hanes pantyhose (queen sized in brown) on sale for $1.00 this week, and I had 6 coupons for $1.00 off any Hanes product! Free cantaloupe cradles!! Awesome!
Handy Man bought the stuff and made the trellises last week. He enjoyed showing our boys how to weld the corners.
Here's a picture of the top. Handy Man used chicken wire to allow air inside to circulate. Isn't he smart!
In this picture, you can see the bottom. I'm not sure how Handy Man made the holes, but I'm sure he used one of his super-duper tools in his shop. The knob on the door just screws into a piece of wood that he attached to the inside of the door. I don't think we need to worry about anyone stealing our compost, so there's no lock :-)
I couldn't resist showing a pic of my beautiful little onions. Aren't they cute! It will be a shame to eat them...OK, maybe not.