Saturday, June 30, 2012
We put our old sofa on our terrace. The wasps decided to build a nest there. Oh fun! Luckily no one got hurt. Juergen just went to the store for poison. They picked a warm dry place with lots of soft stuffing to build a nest. At least Juergen found the nest today, and not tomorrow at the baby shower! Oh that would have been awful!
Today I set out with a shopping list. I need to buy food for a baby shower, and cake mix for a bake sale. I also need some quick cement for a craft project Nicole is working on. Juergen was suppose to do some work in Leimen but the heater guy didn't leave him the key. And we gave the renter the other key. He could not get in to do the work. That's frustrating. I'm not sure when he will have time to finish the job now? That really sinks! Anyway, I stopped by the secondhand store in Heidelberg. I bought about 12 videos for Jessica. She was over joyed! After that she wouldn't let me do my shopping. Frustrating. So I'm home folding laundry. I'll leave Jessica with Juergen while I get my shopping done. At least one of us will accomplish something today. I hope the renter is understanding. We wanted to have everything in order for them. Tomorrow is July 1st. Oh man!!! That is just how it goes. I spoke too soon. The heater guy just called. He will bring Juergen the key. I'll have to get my shopping done later. But thank God the work will get done.
Friday, June 29, 2012
We would like to start having calmer more restful weekends. But this will not be one of them. We have a house guest this weekend. We need to finish the work in Leimen this weekend because the renter officially begins renting on Sunday. Nicole has to hand in her art for grades on Monday. She is very busy. And I will host a small baby shower for a friend on Sunday afternoon. So it's all very good, but even the good can make you tired. Hopefully we can start to slow down soon.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I have tried allot of things to lose weight before. Weight watchers is the only thing that has worked for me. I just have a hard time staying with it for more then 2 months. But I signed up for 3 months of weight watchers online. I will try again. I hope I can stay with it. I couldn't sign up for the program in English, so I have to do it in German. I guess that will give me German practice too. I'm encouraged that the Dr said I'm very healthy. She was so surprised. But I want to keep it that way. I'm 50 years old. I don't want high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems. And I would not want to be seen in a swim suit right now. So here we go again.
I just got my tests back from the DR. I'm very healthy. Thank God. Everything is perfect. Blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar etc...all perfect. I just need to lose weight. Having Jessica at home for an entire year has taken a toll on my health. Stress fat. But we have finally hired a personal aid for Jessica. Someone who has experience with autism. She starts Aug. 1st. She will work 20 hours per week, and I will have some time to look after myself.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I picked the last few colored carrots from our garden. The garden soil is pretty hard. It needs a few more years of love and attention. The carrots could not grow straight down into this hard clay soil. I’ll use these fun carrots to make a vegetable pickle. I’ll probable just get one jar out of them. But it will be a special something for my Christmas salad. The water Iris is picking a very good time to bloom. Nicole has to show this water feature at school next week. I’m not sure how we will move it to the University, but we will. The 3 fish in the pond are doing very well. They will also be part of the art show! I also got a new load of mulch delivered today. Philip and Thomas helped me out by carrying mulch in wheelbarrows to the front yard. I paid them 5 euro each. They did a great job. I need more weed blocker cloth to cover a piece of the ground here and there. Once this is done, we will finish spreading mulch and planting the flower bed. It's going to look fabulous! And it's pretty fun to see two 14 year olds with a little extra cash in their pockets. They were off to the store to buy soccer trading cards. Oh the joys of life!
This guy shares more about how he builds his 2nd greenhouse. He is preparing to provide. I feel the same. I'm not just trying to grow food for our family, I want to grow enough for 8 families. Right now it may not mater, but one day it may be important.
I really like the wooden side pieces this guy built on his greenhouse. He attaches the plastic to these side panels. It works very well. I'm not sure I would want the poles he has in the center of his greenhouse. I don't think I'll need that kind of support. We don't get hurricanes here. But I think if we have the wooden door frame I saw in the last video, and this guys side panels made from wood...that would be the way to go. He also uses 2 layers of plastic. They say that helps the greenhouse last 3 times as long. So instead of replacing plastic every 2-3 years, you could have a life of 6-10 years with a double layer of plastic. It also increases the insulation so the greenhouse stays warmer in the winter. I also want to grow a grape vine in the inside of my greenhouse. The vine will shade my plants in the summer, and will drop its leaves in time to allow more light in the winter. Notice how he has the plastic attached to the top part of the wooden side panel. The bottom drapes down. That is so he can vent the greenhouse. The bottom part can be closed in winter, open in the hot summer.
We had pretty much decided to keep Sarah in the 2nd grade for a year. But we also found out she is dyslexic. After talking with he class room teacher and math teacher we decided she could move forward to the next class. She is very well connected in her class. She is also doing better in school then we thought. Her German grade is not very good, but her math grade is fine. She will get tutoring in both. If she really can not keep up, we can move her back to the 2nd class at the mid term. She is very happy!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A friend of mine traded me her good berries for our vegetables. Nicole and I picked 5 gallons of mixed fruit (cherries, gooseberries and currants). We are making juice. I'll add a little sugar to the juice, and we will have a very good syrup to have with ice cream or pan cakes. Juergen's mom use to make this berry syrup.
We are planning a party for the International students in September. We want to use the party tent for that. I'm interested in setting it up in the area I have set aside for the green house. Then maybe we can put a good greenhouse plastic over the tent...making in effect a high tunnel greenhouse. My tent is 5 meters by 8 meters. It's giant. It has a super strong metal frame. If we set it up in the summer, we could add a rocket stove to the flooring. Then after the big party, we could move all my high raised beds and tomatoes into the high tunnel. I could have tomatoes until Christmas, and salad all year around! So it could be the best of both worlds. I know that it’s summer, but we will get winter again. I feel like I need to plan for the cold. And if I had a green house now, my tomatoes would be doing even better right now! I had an awful dream last night. I was in East LA during the riots after the Rodney King trail. Large areas of LA were burnt down, and there was allot of violence. People were dragged from there cars and beaten. I was actually in East LA when this happened(this was almost 20 years ago). I had been at a game show called "The price is right". We heard about the trial when we got out of the show. My friend and I drove through a fast food place, then drove back to San Diego. We found out LA was on fire after we had arrived in San Diego. We had escaped the fire by about one hour. In my dream last night I was at the game show. But instead of winning cars and boats they were giving away food. And I won an egg. That was considered a great prize. The dream shook me up. Today I went shopping with Jessica. We bought dried beans and peas. You can store beans and peas for years and years. I'm also hoping Juergen will let me raise chickens for eggs.
Monday, June 25, 2012
This was the last show recorded by Claria. She was 96 years old. She said they eat allot of pasta in the depression. You can store pasta for years. Pasta, rice, and beans all store well. It's a good place to start if you want to save food. I want to put in a good store of olive oil and sunflower oil, salt, sugar,tea, coffee and oats(just to start).
I was shopping with Jessica this morning. My cart was full of food. Then this old man looks at my cart and says, the war is over, you don't need to buy so much food. But he doesn't know I have 5 kids. And 2 of my kids are 14 year old boys. I shop like this at least 3 times a week. We would be in trouble if we had to live off the food I have stored. I think about this allot lately.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
I thought I would share an update on my garden. We picked our first gladiolas today. I’ll have allot of flowers in about 1 week. And I ate my first artichoke today. I have to say it was the very best artichoke I have ever had. I guess it’s because it was fresh…not days or weeks old. It traveled from my garden straight to the kitchen. I saved the water I cooked the artichoke in. They call this artichoke tea. It’s suppose to be very good for your liver. You keep it in a jar in your refrigerator. You can drink a cup per day. It is only good for a week. It is suppose to help lower cholesterol if that’s an issue for you. And the artichoke was so sweet I didn’t need to add anything to it. No butter or lemon. It was awesome! I don’t know if I want to share my artichokes. I have about 10 growing on my plants. I could easily eat these myself. The good news is they are only about 50 cal each if you don’t add butter! But I’ve also read a good plant can produce 30 artichokes per year. So maybe I’ll share a few. The peas are growing. I’ve got lots of green tomatoes. I am also getting lots of cucumbers. Those few days of sunshine helped us allot. Now we are getting rain. That’s good too.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
It's a beautiful day. I just spent a hour in my garden watering plants. it's suppose to rain this week. But we are enjoying a sunny weekend. My newly transplanted flowers are under stress without water. They have not established roots yet. We worked in Leimen today. Thomas and Nicole pulled wallpaper from one room. The renter wants to repaper the room themselves. A heater guy came by. He will be putting a new heater in the house. This should make the heat more efficient for the renter. We can at least write the cost off our taxes. And we hope Juergen will be spared the phone calls from a cold and angry renter because the heater isn't working. We will also be ordering a new front door. Something that helps keep the heat in the house. Juergen, Philip , Sarah and I worked on the garden. We pulled weeds and swept. The renter begins renovating this week. They will move in in July. And by the grace of God we will finally have this mater settled. It stood empty 11 months. That's allot of work, and a very large loss of money! But that's water under the bridge. I'm anxious to move forward. I brought Jessica home from Leimen. As we drove home on a very busy road this extremely impatient man in a BMW was tailgating cars. He passed the cars in front of me 2 times. Once he almost got into a head on collision. You could just see how pressured he was to go fast, but he couldn't. The road was so full. He just couldn't go fast. And after 10 km he was only one car ahead of me ...after all his passing, risk taking and tailgating. His stressed out driving gave him no distance, no advantage. And a life style of that kind of pushiness will probably bring him a heart attack if he doesn't die in a traffic accident first. I kept thinking, the road is full. Accept it and enjoy the ride. And I thought maybe the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. Not about my driving style, but my life. My life is very full. I can stress out trying to get someplace, or I can try to just accept it and enjoy the trip. I came home and cleaned my house, and then worked in the yard. I have allot of work, but it is so much easier when I do it with joy. And being in the beautiful sunshine was so much joy to me. I thank God the added work of Leimen, and the $ stress is nearly behind us. For all our trying to push this situation forward, it had to run it's course. And I guess that's a lesson I needed to learn.
Friday, June 22, 2012
I bought a chicken house on eBay. It's really a super size rabbit cage. It came in the mail. A few of the pieces were broken. It’s made of really bad martial and it's junk. Nicole is trying to put it together. The wood is already warped from being wet. You would think a chicken house could handle rain. I should send it back, but it would be impossible to fit into the boxes again. We emailed the seller. Maybe I can get some of my money back? We will paint it to water proof it. We will also add better wood and metal to make it stronger. Juergen hasn't said yes to chickens yet. I just thought "if we build it, they will come". I'm glad Juergen isn't building this. He would be so mad! PS. Shelley, I told Juergen I bought the house. He seemed OK with that, as long as I don't just buy chicken's without his say. I have been told it's best to buy chicken's in spring. Maybe we will just set the coop up and get chickens in the spring next year. I think it will be very good for Jessica to care for chickens. She can feed them and collect the eggs. She needs a "job". And we love the eggs. The poop is also good for the garden. But I'm also going to have to wait for Juergen's final yes.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
I think this is a good idea. I bought 20 buckets on eBay for my tomatoes. I think I should buy 20 more to store some food. I could store rice, beans, oats, corn flour, and medical supplies. Only store what you already like. And once you store it, use it...replacing what you use. A little rainy day supplies. Store seeds too. Don't forget to store coffee, tea, sugar, tooth paste and soap. If anyone wants to trade my fresh vegetables for rice, dried beans, coffee etc let me know.
I went to the Dr today. I needed a full checkup. She drew blood. Next week I will get other tests run. I think I'm basically healthy, but I think my thyroid is not working correctly. So this is mainly what she is checking. She is a very nice Dr. I hate to go to the Dr normally. I'm not sure why, but I put it off as much as I can. I did go last spring. So I guess that's ok. But I have not had a full check up with all the lab work for 3 year. And I'm 50 years old, so everything starts to go. I think I had better devote more time to myself. This past year I have not had any personal time. Just time for the 2 houses, the kids etc. I'm not complaining, but I know I have really got to start caring for myself. So even though I hate Drs, I'm proud I made myself go. So now we are also busy in the garden. The lawn is being mowed. I mowed half of it, and Philip is doing the 2nd half. Nicole dug the baskets of flowers out of the front yard. We then took a weed eater to chop down the tall weeds and grass. Now we are covering the whole thing with cardboard. Cutting holes in the cardboard where the plants where. Then will come weed blocker fabric, and mulch. Finally we will return the baskets to the holes. I should have taken a before shot. I missed that. But believe me, it was a mess. I'll save the photos for the finished project.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I bought 20 ten liter buckets on eBay. After drilling holes in the buckets, we started to plant them with tomatoes (plants I had started from seed). But as we started to plant the tomatoes, it began to rain (again). It's rained allot this year. I like the rain but this is getting to be a drag. The weeds are taking over. And while I have loads of flowers on my tomatoes, I have very little fruit. We could use some more sunshine. It's not easy to find a good balance. I'm hoping to have a green house for my tomatoes next summer. I'll need to water everything, but I can have more control. Today we interview the second person who wants to be Jessica’s aid. I hope we can make a wise choice.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
It's been raining allot this year. Everything has grown. Especially the weeds. So I spent 2 hours pulling weeds this morning. I need to spend another 6 hours pulling weeds just to catch up with it (sadly). And it's getting warm so my lettuce is starting to go to seed. I am planting new lettuce to have a summer crop. This will need to go under a shade cloth because lettuce doesn't like heat. I have cabbages to pick. I want to make sauerkraut this week. I've never made sauerkraut but I have watched video's on you tube. I think I get the general idea. We will give it a shot! Here are some photo's of some things I planted today. Tomatoes , zucchini and red onions. I got these seeds in Italy. Yesterday we interviewed a very nice women who wants to be Jessica’s aid. We have another interview on Wednesday. So maybe we will have an aid for Jessica by the weekend. That will be a blessing to Jessica because she can get out of the house more. And I will be blessed to have some personal time. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve had any time I could call my own. I’m not complaining…just grateful I can look forward to some time.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
This guy is long winded,but his ideas are really great! I just bought 20 10 liter buckets on eBay to try the idea out. I will put tomatoes into the buckets. I'll mulch the tomatoes with straw to help save moister. And I can add a little of my compost tea to the water. This will feed the tomatoes when they take in the water. I am sure this idea will work well. You could do this on any balcony. Very cool idea for any small garden.
They don't celebrate father's day here in Germany. well not today at least. There is a day in May that the dads go drinking. But today is father's day in America. And by God's Grace I got to see my dad this year. I wish he was here now. We could use his help chopping up my cabbage for sauerkraut. My dad loves to chop stuff up. And he is a store of good ideas for my garden. That comes from his own experience with gardens. And I guess that's why I love my plants so much. All those years watching Victory garden with my dad. Happy father's day Dad. I love you!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
I’m inspired by the BBC video series by Nigel Slate called “Simple Suppers”. He has a recipe for a Thai Curry paste. It is ground lemon grass, ginger, spring onions, garlic, chilies,and coriander. You can add this fresh paste to a soup made of fresh vegetables like tomato and eggplant. And of course coconut milk, chicken broth , fish sauce, and some sort of meat. I’m going to use the left over chicken from last night. I have one large chopped baked chicken breast. You could add shrimp or beef. To this soup you can add a few glass noodles. These noodles don’t need to be cooked. You just take a package of noodles and soak them in hot water for a few minutes. I may grate a few fresh carrots in for color and texture. I’ll top with fresh coriander and fresh lime. It sounds really complex, but it’s not. It comes together very fast. The trick is the freshly ground spices. I love Thai food. My kids will love this soup!
Friday, June 15, 2012
My small group is coming for dinner. I'm going to cook chicken that has been marinated in olive oil, garlic, basil, and fresh lemons and limes. I bake this tonight. My family will be at our church retreat. Jessica doesn't like crowds, so I'm going to stay home with her. Juergen will come home early. We are invited to a big party at the Heidelberg castle Saturday night. The kids are happy because they get to stay at the retreat. It will be a busy weekend.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Today I'm going to use some of our cabbage from the garden. We are making cabbage rolls. I'll even use some of the tomato sauce I made this week to cover the rolls as they bake. I'm using old bread instead of rice. I'll use Italian spices and I'll add one or 2 eggs in my mix. I am also using red cabbage instead of white. I have allot of cabbage in the garden. I am going to try making homemade sauerkraut later in the month. That's a first for me. Our broccoli soup turned out very good. I only used half of the broccoli yesterday. I got one big pot of soup plus 5 quarts to put in the freezer. Today we are cooking the rest of the broccoli in the Crockpot. I brown 4 chopped onions with 6 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then I add the onions and garlic to the Crockpot with clean chopped broccoli. To this I add water and chicken bullion. I cook this for about 8 hours on low. I blend this mix until its smooth. I add some small chopped and peeled potatoes (just a handful) in the pot to cook. Then I blend the cooked potatoes, they thicken the soup. Finally I add some milk and cheese, salt and pepper. You don’t need to grow your own broccoli to make this easy soup. I guess you can also add the potatoes to the Crockpot and let them cook with the broccoli. I was making it up as I went. We are just learning to grow, cook and save our own food. It's all new to me.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
During my vacation I began listening to an audible book called “Cleaning house “ by Kay Willis Wyma. It’s one mother’s experience teaching her overly dependent children how to be self reliant and organized. One of her ideas was to set a task for her kids (and herself) once a month. And to motivate them to do it she gave everyone a clear jar with a certain amount of money in it. When the task was done (for example making the bed) they got to keep their money. When the task was not done a dollar was taken from the jar. At the end of the month they got what was left. I feel like a month is too long for my kids to wait for anything. We will be working week to week . I gave them all a Euro a day for the task we are working on. And I also feel like I can not trust my kids to actually keep the money in the jar. What is to keep them from just spending it on day one? So I just made mom money. They get 2 ones and one 5 in their jar. At the end of the week what ever is left can be redeemed for real cash. Right now we are starting out slow. I expect the beds to be made before they go to school. If it’s not done they lose one mom dollar. I am not going to remind them to do this task. They need to be able to do it by them selves. BTW, I won’t be sitting next to them when they go to work either…they have to grow up! So far everyone has made their beds every day with out my reminding them (except Philip & Thomas who forgot once). But they only forgot once because it cost them! I mean business! We will be making the bed every day for 2 weeks, then adding picking up the cloths in their room. I say add because they will need to do both things for the same money! After the cloths we will work on the desk...then we will add cooking one time a week. And so on. Everyone in the house (including Juergen, Jessica and I have a jar). I am helping Jess make her bed everyday. She likes that. The kids will not get pocket money anymore. They will only get the money they keep from doing the tasks of the week. So now I’m making 2 very large crock pots of broccoli soup. I harvested 10 broccoli plants today. I needed the room to plant other things. Thank God for crock pots! I wish I had a big freezer. I would just freeze the soup. But I only have a small freezer. I’m probably going to can it. My garden went crazy when we where gone. It’s a jungle and I need to harvest so much at once. It’s going to make me pretty tired dealing with all this fresh produce at one time. It’s a good problem.
Monday, June 11, 2012
this man inspirers me.
To my local friends…I really need people to come pick salad from my garden. Please, do not be shy! It's fresh, organic heirloom lettuce. And it's free! We are eating a salad a day but I just have too much. Please come by and get some fresh salad. If we don’t pick the lettuce it will go to seed. It needs to be picked. My good friend Vivienne just came to pick up some salad. We had tea and a nice visit. She is going to teach me how to cook Indian food in exchange for my fresh vegetables. I'm getting the best part of the deal. She is a great cook! Please do not be shy, I have allot of very good salad to give away. I’ll give it away for free… but if it makes you feel uncomfortable I will also trade it for any useful thing or skill. I have so much very good lettuce right now, I would hate for it to go to seed! I even have a few plants to give away. Tomato plants and flowers and peppers. Everything we have started from seeds. I don’t have many plants to give away…so this is a first come first serve offer. It was a cold and wet day, but I just loved sharing a tea with my good friend!
Last night I chopped up my tomatoes with the skins still on them (a good amount, maybe 2 dozen ripe tomatoes), garlic, onions, peppers, and few dried chilies. To this I added a few cans of processed tomatoes, Italian spices, olive oil, red wine, and red wine vinegar. I cooked this on low over night in my crock-pot. Then I used a mixer to make it into a smooth sauce. Lastly I added coarsely chopped parsley and Basel. I’m going to use this sauce for pasta and pizza. I got 5 quarts of sauce to freeze, plus another 3 quarts I used now to make a wonderful tomato soup. All I did for the soup was add fresh milk and some fresh sweet yellow bell pepper to give it some crunch. I’ve got 75 heirloom tomato plants in my garden. If we get some sunshine, I hope to have allot of tomatoes for sauce and salsa.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Nicole and I chopped up most of the rest of the veggies we brought home from Italy. I'm trying to make a large pot of tomato sauce to can for pasta and pizza. As I chopped up my last giant bell pepper I said, "I wish I had the seeds for this, it's such a sweet pepper". Well I had the seeds. They are right there in the pepper! Silly me! So I collected these good seeds. I'll try planting some now, and save some for next year too. I also want to plant one of the garlic I bought in Italy. It's got a great flavor. If you like some heirloom vegetable like peppers, or tomatoes, melons or peas...do save the seeds. Seeds don't just come in packages at the garden center, they come in vegetables you buy at the farmers market! I'm so new to this whole garden thing it just doesn't come natural to me. This is how gardeners have done it since forever. Taste what you like and harvest the seeds .
Yesterday I canned some of my veggies in flavored oil. First I chopped a good variety of vegetables (radishes, carrots, onions, cabbage, kohlrabi, bell peppers and garlic). I blanched the vegetables in a mix of salt water and red wine vinegar. Then I drained the veggies and fill the jars. Finally I made a oil with olive oil, sunflower oil, limes and oregano, and chopped peppers. I covered the veggies with this oil mix. I cleaned the jars and processed them in my canning pot for 25 minutes. I should be able to use this mix on salads. I have so much lettuce in my garden. We will be eating allot of salad this summer. It looks so beautiful, and I hope it taste even better. I got the basic idea from a Jamie Oliver video. We are eating sausages with Nicolas home made ketchup for lunch. Juergen is driving home from a good visit with his family. I don't know any details, but I hear the birthday party was really good. Richard (Juergen's dad) was blessed.
I have some tomatoes, peppers and fresh garlic and onions from Italy I will process as sauce. I think I may use my Crockpot. This is the general idea, but I’ll do my own thing. I will try to can my sauce. I hope to can allot of tomato sauce this summer. We have 70 tomato plants.