Yes, We’re All Ok

It’s just been a crazy week.

In the last 10 days, Ed has had one day off: yesterday. Of the nine days he worked, he has put in mostly nine and ten hour days, in addition to the hour or so drive time. The drive time has extended too, due to road construction. He’s spent what little spare time he’s had, building the chicken coop. I know he’ll want to tell you about that, but I will tell you that it’s finished enough for the chicks to be in it, in relative safety.

Since yesterday was his only day off, we had to run all day. First was a trip to the vet for Libby. I was concerned because she seems to be losing weight. She’s always had trouble with flea dermatitis, and I wanted to take care of that too. It was our first visit with that vet, and it won’t be the last. He was very good, and he didn’t charge us an arm and a leg. He said that Libby’s issues are more than likely flea related and he put her on the flea pill. We took care of her shots while we were there. He told us we could just bring Meeko over and he could get his shots and a flea pill. He wouldn’t charge us for an exam. You can’t beat that.  We brought Libby home, and headed back out for the hour drive to Liberty. We were home long enough to put groceries away before I had to be at a Sisters-in-Service meeting at church, and Ed the men’s Bible study out at the preacher’s farm. It was a long day.

What am I doing while Ed is working?  To be honest, since we started the Whole 30, I’ve spent most of my time in the kitchen. Since processed foods are out (as well as grains, dairy, and legumes),  I am spending a whole lot more time cooking. There is no “grabbing a sandwich”. There is a whole lot more clean up too. The up side is that I have energy to do it all. Looser fitting clothes are a bonus too. We have ten days left before we enter the “reintroduction” stage.

When I haven’t been cooking, I’ve been planning for school, which we start next week. I did have one day where I was able to get outside and do some clean up. That is when I got our Thursday picture of the week. I went out to the barn to look for something that I had misplaced (that happens a lot), and saw this guy on the door. I called Kat to bring my camera, and we used hers for scale.

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Kat and the praying mantis as long as her phone

Lord willing, I’ll be able to get the herbs harvested tomorrow, and set to preserving them. Oh, we harveseted the potatoes this morning. It was disappointing. I’ll share more about that next time.


Proof I’m an Idiot, or Stress Makes Me Stupid

Like well worn grooves in a old dirt road, our patterns of behavior often keep us in the same old rut. When something happens, we don’t think it through, we just react. Remember the scene in Jumanji where Peter is looking for the ax and discovers the shed is padlocked? Focusing on the locked door, he picks up the nearby ax to break it. Then he realizes that what he wants is already in his hands. You can watch the scene here.

I have some issues with anxiety, but normally I catch it before it takes over. One of my favorites verses is Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I have used this verse often both as a prayer and as a simple reminder; and as I said, normally, I can catch the anxiety before it develops a life of it’s own.

Evidently, yesterday was not normal. I don’t even really know where I lost track. Okay, yeah, well maybe I do. Ed’s late schedule has meant that I am up way later than I want to be, which also means I’ve been sleeping in later too. Yes, I could just deprive myself of sleep, but as anyone with Bi Polar disorder knows, that just isn’t a good idea. I woke up feeling rushed, and didn’t get my morning Bible reading in. I usually check my email early in the day, and I didn’t get to that either. Like I told you yesterday, Ed had to be at work by one, so again, that threw the “schedule” behind.

Since I didn’t have Bible study at church this week (a large number of our church members are in Colorado for the National Youth Roundup: NYR), I thought it would be good day to get Katherine in the kitchen and do some meal prep. Then I discovered we had one onion left.

First proof of idiocy: What are the number one and number two veggies that we use more than any others? Onions and Garlic! What did we not plant this year? Onions and Garlic!

Have we mentioned that we only have one vehicle? Have we mentioned that it has a manual transmission that I don’t know how to drive? The second point becomes irrelevant when Ed is at work, because he has said vehicle with him. Still it leaves us at a disadvantage.

Anyway, we needed onions. There is a little grocery store on Main Street. It’s a mile round trip. Before the accident, I walked that distance several times a week. No big deal. Now, it seems daunting. Nevertheless, we needed onions and I wanted to go get them. Katherine thought I had lost my mind when I told her, but was more than willing to go along. The whole trip took thirty minutes. Maybe I’m in better shape than I thought.

We spent the afternoon prepping veggies and cooking meat, using recipes found in It Starts with Food. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I kept thinking that I really needed to post something here, and really wanted to do some kind of feature (I actually have a couple more in mind that I will share later). That is where I got the idea for “Picure of the Week Wednesday” After I made that post, I checked my email and saw that I had a ping back from Rebirth of Lisa for my participation in her Word Crush Wednesday event last week.

Second proof of idiocy: I completely forgot about that event, and I really liked doing it. May end up choosing the quote earlier in the week, posting it on Wednesday, choosing my pictures on Wednesday and creating “Picture of the Week Thursday” Are you all totally confused now? Wait, it gets better.

Last night, at about 10:10, Ed called, as he always does, to tell me he was on the way home. I got his supper lined up, and then went to take a shower so that when he got home, I could go to sleep. As I was heading for the shower, the phone rang again. Ed’s truck broke down eight miles from the house, and he needed me to find someone who could come pick him up. He didn’t have any numbers in his phone, and this is where the proof of idiocy becomes undeniable…for both of us.

I don’t have a single phone number of anyone in town. I take that back. I have two numbers: one of those people is on vacation in Alaska, and the other is in Colorado for NYR. So, I did what I always do when I need to get a message to someone. I hopped on facebook to see if anyone was available…nope. OK, look up phone numbers online. Ever tried to do that? That is when I got a small glimmer of brains. I remembered that old, almost unknown, and rarely used thing called a phone book! Yes people here still have house phones, thank the Lord! I looked up the number of one person that I thought might be available, but his answering machine picked up. I left a message, and then had the only brainstorm of the day. There is an elderly couple who live across the road from us. Mr “A” has helped Ed mow and helped us with other things too. I had his number at one point, but I don’t know where it went. So I checked the phone book and there he was! By this time it is 10:50, and I really hate calling people late in the evening, but I did.

I talked to Mrs. “A”, apologizing for the late hour of the call and explaining the situation. Sure, he’ll go get Ed! No problem! So, our nearly 80-year-old neighbor went and brought Ed home. In the meanwhile, the person I called first called back, asking is Ed still needed a ride. I thanked him and told him we had it covered. When Ed got home, we both thanked God for good neighbors, and asked Him to handle the truck situation. We should have let him.

This morning, we had another problem. The truck was still eight miles from town and Ed was afraid that the damage was severe. We don’t have a lot of cash. There are (at least) two mechanics in town, but evidently, no tow service. The closest one is twenty five miles away. You KNOW that cost, right? The second problem was that the mechanic wouldn’t be able to work on the truck until tomorrow. Ed needed to be at work by three today.

Ed got hold of the tow service and then called his job to give them a heads up. He told them that if they wanted him to come in, they might have to come get him. He really didn’t think they wanted him that badly.

Not being one to just sit on my hands, I felt the need to do something. I know two people who have cars they could loan us for the weekend, but they both live about seventy five miles away. I got hold of my son Kyle and asked if I could get use of a vehicle, would he and his girlfriend bring it to me. He said yes. I did manage to track down a vehicle but it wouldn’t be available until this evening. Okay, we’ll take what we can get.

About an hour later, Ed’s job called. They had someone lined up to come get him and bring him home tonight. We were both impressed. A short time later, the phone rang again. It was the mechanic. Not only had they got to the truck today; it was fixed. The problem? A broken belt. While Ed walked down to get the truck (again, about a mile round trip), I made phone calls, thanking everyone and telling them we wouldn’t be needing the loaner vehicle. As I hung up the phone, I felt that I could almost hear the Lord say, “Oh ye of little faith!” Yep! Last proof of idiocy!

Ed went to work and I sat down to catch up on my time with Lord. I’ve decided that tonight is going to be night off. I cooked a lot yesterday, so I wouldn’t have to today, so supper can just be leftovers, and Katherine can help clean up. Maybe we’ll watch a movie. Maybe I’ll just take a shower and go to bed early. Tomorrow I’ll start working on smoothing out those old ruts.


Chicory on the Homestead

Yes, I admit it; I spend entirely too much time exploring the net. Pinterest is one of my biggest downfalls, but email notifications from blogs I read can keep me going for days. I’ll see something, which will make me think of something else that I really need to look up, and suddenly the whole afternoon is gone.

A few weeks ago, during one of my exploration excursions into the world wide web, I saw pictures of chicory blossoms. A few days later, when I saw those pretty blue flowers on tall, spindly stalks, I was really hoping I had chicory growing outside my barn doors. I went online and looked at more pictures of chicory plants and blooms! Yes, it’s chicory! Chicory root can be dried and used for coffee! Yes!

One thing I have discovered about identifying plants; once you know what something is, you see it everywhere. We have a lot of chicory. I noticed some growing outside my back door. It had been cut off several times with the weed eater and lawnmower so it wasn’t in the best place for a long healthy life. I thought that would be a perfect place to dig up the roots.

Well, not quite. This first snag was the stones underneath a very thin layer of top soil. The roots grew down through the stones. Ok, well, I’ll just dig them up. I wasn’t expecting the larger layer of gravel underneath the stones. At that point, I knew that my little garden trowel was not going to help me. I did manage to break a few roots loose, but called it a day.

A week or so later, when Ed was off and it was too wet to mow, I asked him to help me get the chicory root by the barn. Ed really likes chicory so he was agreeable to the task. Well, guess what? Underneath a thin layer of top soil, he found gravel: dry, hard as a rock, gravel. He went to find the mattock. If you don’t know, a mattock is kind of like a pick ax.

Ed and  the mattock

Ed and the mattock

more rock

more rock

After breaking up the dirt and gravel, He alternated a couple of different sized shovels to dig up the gravel and expose the roots. It took him over an hour to get this.

Wheelbarrow full of chicory

Wheelbarrow full of chicory

Since I really hate to waste anything, I spent some time looking up alternate uses for the stalks and flowers, but didn’t find much. However, I did find out some things I didn’t know about dried chicory root.

For instance: while it’s true that chicory is often used as an additive to coffee, it actually has sedative properties. So I suppose if you drank enough of it by itself, it would put you to sleep. It also works to relieve constipation. When I told Ed, he said that he would hope that it wouldn’t do all that at the same time!

Since all I need are the roots, I tried to remove them with my garden shears, but that was not going to happen. I ended up getting the hatchet from the garage and chopping the roots off. Chicory blossoms open and close at the same time every day. It was fascinating the see rootless flowers continue to open and close for four days after the roots had been removed.

Anyway, my plan was to chop up the roots, roast them, and then grind them in my spice mill/coffee grinder. Chopping up the roots was a little harder than it looked, and to make an already long story short, I enlisted Ed’s help. Between him, I, and the food processor, we finally got it ready to roast.

washing the roots

washing the roots

all clean and ready to chop

all clean and ready to chop

chopping the root

chopping the root

Roasting chicory smells wonderful! Katherine asked if I had something chocolate in the oven. She was disappointed to learn it was the chicory. Once it cooled, I ground it in the spice mill and put it in a repurposed honey jar.

ground chicory

ground chicory

I made Katherine a cup of chicory tea, but she wasn’t impressed. She said it smells a lot better than it tastes. Out of curiosity, we made a pot of straight chicory in the coffee pot. It was ok, but not something I would want all the time. However, adding a tablespoon or so to a pot of regular coffee adds something that I can’t quite describe.

Yesterday morning, Ed noticed the chicory jar is nearly empty, and asked me if I was ready to go dig some more.

Did I mention Ed really likes chicory?


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve in our new home has been relatively peaceful. Since we are not traveling this Christmas, and are having a simple Christmas dinner here with the two kids, I asked them what kind of Christmas dessert they might want to have.  The only enthusiastic response came from my fourteen-year-old daughter: “Red Velvet Cake!”

I had never made one before, but I did have the recipe passed down from a step-grandparent. “Ok” I told her, “but you have to help.” She readily agreed, as she is one of those rare people who would rather cook food than eat it. I decided to turn the whole thing into a baking afternoon, and had her help me choose a few recipes off pinterest. I should note that normally, we limit all kinds of sugar and processed foods, so this was definitely a special occasion, but hey, it’s Christmas, right? Besides, I thought it would also give us some mother/daughter time that didn’t involve school work.

The first recipe we made was for a Chocolate Chip Danish. I would have taken a picture, but my family inhaled it before I had a  chance. If you are really interested, you can find there recipe where I did: here.

Next we did Carmelitas. I was going to insert a link to the recipe, but when I went back in to get it, this is what I found. It might just be a glitch, so I’m going to leave it in for you. Yes, they are a ooey gooey mess, but they are really good.

Then we tackled the cake. It is pretty time consuming, but all things considered, I think it turned out ok. Of course, the real test will be tomorrow’s dinner. Like I said, the recipe I had was printed on an old recipe card. This one is almost identical to the one I have.

Last we did a loaf of gingerbread. I found the recipe here. Simple, straight forward recipe. Katherine started mixing it, but the smell of the molasses was a little much for her, so I finished. I got this pretty serving platter, as a gift from my step-grandmother. She is a talented artist, and hand painted the plate. Pretty cake on a pretty platter. No one has tasted the gingerbread yet, I think everyone OD’d on the danish. I am thinking it will make a nice addition to Christmas morning breakfast along with some bacon and eggs.


My daughter and I had a nice afternoon together, and she even helped with the dishes without complaint. She is my youngest, and I know that I have to cherish these times that will be over all too quickly.

Ed and I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas, and the Lord’s blessings for the coming year.