Monday, July 10, 2017

Life lately...

Hi,

I thought I would give you a little glimpse of what we've been up to lately along with a few photos from my phone. 

Summer has arrived in the PNW.  We've been enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the 80's for a couple of weeks now.  By enjoying I really mean taking advantage of the dry weather and taking care of much needed projects on our property.  Mostly splitting rounds for desperately needed firewood. We nearly used up all we had last winter.   We've also been cleaning up by collecting the many downed branches, running them through the chipper, and spreading all that mulch where it's needed (hydrangeas beds, chicken run, etc.)  


We come in hot, sweaty, filthy, and completely exhausted!  It feels good to work hard, to feel sore muscles.  It's even better than a workout at the gym- I'm sure we burn just as many calories and notable progress is made on the property. 😀  After work like that, we reward ourselves with ice cream cones, and don't feel a bit guilty about it!  

I even found some gluten free ones at the grocery store.  I'm so glad because we have taken Mary Anne off gluten now too.  She was exhibiting signs of intolerance with very red, rough hands. Hannah suffered just like that too.  Wanting to avoid a Hannah situation with Mary Anne, and with Sarah having been diagnosed with Celiac's... it just seems prudent.  

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We have a small garden this year, but what we do have is growing!  This year we planted zucchini squash (because we love zoodles), spaghetti squash because it's a great substitute for pasta spaghetti, butternut squash because we use that in our breakfast bowls, beets, basil, green beans, and lettuce.  
Oh, and weeds.  😏 So far so good. 

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Once we are done with school for the year, I take the rest of June to absolutely NOT think about any aspect of it.  
Now that it is July, I've started thinking about next year - what we need to study, and what curriculum we have on hand that we can use, what I need to buy, and school supplies we need.  Can you believe we have graduated half of our children?!  This year I will have one new to high school (Dan), and the three little girls.  (4th, 2nd, and 1st.)  I can officially give my kindergarten curriculum away.  😮  I've just about finished deciding on what we'll cover.  I only have a few things I'll need to buy, and then to do the nitty-gritty of lesson-planning.  

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So far this summer I have done ZERO canning.  Usually I buy flats of strawberries, and then flats of raspberries. Some for jam, some for eating.  There was so much rain the first part of June, that it has delayed harvest times of everything.  I kept watching for them - U-pick signs along the road are the first clue that the picking season has arrived.  I never saw a one!  I missed it.  Thankfully, Costco carries frozen organic strawberries year-round! 😀  I do hope we haven't missed raspberry season. Have you ever put a blueberry inside where the raspberry stem was?  So good!  You should try it. You should also try a chocolate chip there too.  You'll thank me!
I like to put raspberries in a quart of white wine vinegar and let it sit for a couple of weeks.  The vinegar gets infused with the raspberries.  I use the infused vinegar to make oil/vinegar salad dressings.  
My other favorite thing (besides just eating them as is) is to make raspberry sauce for pancakes and waffles.  Just cook the raspberries on low and add a bit of sugar (only a little)  It makes for a super delicious ice cream topping too.  
We will try to go blueberry picking, but if we miss that too - well...Costco to the rescue.  Yay for frozen, organic blueberries!
I used to can peaches, but I can not find a source of organic that is affordable for canning.  So - we just enjoy eating them in season.  
Last year I canned a TON of applesauce, and we have only 3 jars left!  Did you know applesauce makes a great egg substitute? (1/4 cup = 1 egg) It also makes a great oil substitute. (1:1) And, if you use a variety of apples you will not need to add sugar!  It's amazingly delicious!  

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We lost a goat.  
Long story long...
I had taken the girls on a little "adventure" day over to Camano Island to check it out and escape the heat.  Hannah thought it would be fun to pack along a secret treat for when we got there.  We thought it would be so fun to pack ice cream and cones to eat on the beach when we got there.  How fun is that?  Kind of a reward for a long drive.
It took us just shy two hours to get there, but when we arrived at the trail head parking, there was an ambulance.  Having never been there before (so not knowing how long the path to the beach was, and not wanting to get in the way, we opted not to get out of the car, but dished out ice cream cones in the car instead.  Believe it or not, the ice cream survived.  The girls were thrilled - almost like eating leftover pie for breakfast!
My impression of Camano Island - it's quiet and scenic.  It's what I imagine Deer Isle, Maine to be like.  I could definitely see Eric and I living there in years to come (you know the ocean is forever calling to me.) The only thing it seems to be missing is a charming little town with gift shops, an independent book store, etc.  We didn't explore the whole island, so maybe there is one.  
Anyway, the day was a hot (89 degrees - that's hot for Washington!), and once we were home the girls asked if they could sit on the back deck and play with water toys. (a bucket filled with water and toys like army men or pocket dolls or whatever.) Abbie went out first and discovered one of our goats lying on a stairs that lead up to our deck.  She came in crying saying that Kaanapali was there bleeding and missing a leg!  
We immediately thought a bear got to her, but the more Hannah and I thought about it, that didn't really fit the circumstances.  It turns out, as I looked closer, that she wasn't really missing a leg, but she had skinned it, but good and was bleeding a lot.  It was a mess! I'll spare the gore-y details, but suffice it to say, we had to put her down.   We have only three now.

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Ellie's chickens are doing well, even the one that was missing for a few days.  At least I think they are well.  We are only getting an egg or maybe two per day from four hens. 😒  I'm not sure why.   We quit giving them so many scraps so that they would eat their feed to ensure the proper nutrients needed for egg-laying. Ellie is good to check their water each day.  If you've have chicken experience, we'd love your advice!  (she has four hens, one was in the coop.)

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My calendar is filled with doctor's appointments.   For a time, while Eric wasn't allowed to drive due to his broken collar bone, I was taking him to all of them, but now I only go to the ones with the rheumatologist. (for moral support and catching details from the doctor's conversation.) There are appointments for Hannah too (still trying to get to the heart of her digestive issues), and for Mary Anne - she has begun vision therapy.  
Also - for the next few weeks I'll be taking a dear friend to chemotherapy appointments.  Nothing like that to give one a bit of perspective.  I catch myself complaining about something and then realize that I have NOTHING to complain about.  I am privileged every day to do life with my favorite people!

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Eric and I are just about ready to take our coffee roaster exam.  There is so much to know - from seed to cup how coffee is grown and processed, to green coffee buying, to cupping, to brewing and extraction, and of course all aspects of roasting.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.    

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So life is pretty busy, but the schedule is loose, which is one of the best parts of summer vacation.  


- Carol












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