Friday, December 31, 2010

I don't want to post this...

... but I feel like I have to, now that the task is done.

Today I cleaned out our fridge.


I think the last time it was cleaned out was when we bought it. And then, it was just washed down, not cleaned-of-rotten-food.

I did it as part of The Frugal Girl's Food Waste Fridays. I figured, heck, we need to do this - maybe it will help us keep waste down.
Little did I know how MUCH waste was currently hiding in our fridge.

Ready for it?

Here we go!

I can't look!



Dear lord.


(Please ignore the vodka bottle in the background. That's NOT part of the waste.)

Hey Ben? I found all the rubbermaid containers you wanted for work. OH! And I found some of our white plastic jar caps. Wow. AND there's that broccoli I chopped up but couldn't find a day later.


I'm trying to not beat myself up over this because A) This is easily a few months worth of food, B) it doesn't get thrown out - it goes to the chickens, and C) I haven't exactly been stable the last month or two.

But there it is.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What A Day

This has probably been my most stable day in months. This morning I woke up, a little drowsy from the serequel, but in a good mood. I set out a fruit plate and some dry cereal for the girls, then stretched out in front of the fireplace and dozed until about 9:30. It is amazing how they well they are when I'm napping. I think my being so sick for 8 weeks helped them realize they could play without me... hee.

Anyway, I packed up the 400 pounds of beef that I picked up yesterday for a co-op and headed into Columbus. Another thing that amazes me is how excellent the girls are in the car. I suppose they kinda have to be - driving is a LOT of our daily life.

Met up with some ladies at SS, where I got rid of most of the beef, and headed to Aldi, where I somehow forgot my debit card's pin, and therefor had to have the poor checker lady void off $30 of my $50 order (I had a $20 cash in my wallet). Face red and embarassed, we promptly snuck out and headed home.

The girls napped in the car for almost an hour, so I spent the time cleaning out the front seat and back feet areas. I got out 2 trash bags full of garbage... HOLY CRAP. I found a bunch of shoes that were M-I-A, as well as some toys that Morri swore she left at grandma's. Also found my Kohls credit card, which is not a good thing, LOL!

Anyway, now I'm home, and doing some chores. It's been a very positive day. I feel very productive and self confident. I am stable. I was able to cuddle Morri for a few minutes after she bumped her head on a chair. I made the girls a full lunch, at the table, instead of snacks all day. I am considering working on our bedroom... it's been MONTHS since we've built the wall, and our side still isn't mudded completely.

I'm wondering if it's the serequel... if it is, this is totally worth being drowsy in the morning!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

GF/EF/DF Sugar Cookies & Toppings

When T was 'diagnosed' with allergies, I remember a few things went through my head.

With wheat, it was "What about sandwiches?!?!?"
With dairy, it was "What about cheese!?!?!"
And, for some reason, with eggs, it was "WHAT ABOUT COOKIES!?"

It has continued to be "what about cookies?" for a year or so now. And with Christmas, things like sugar cookies, gingerbread... you name it, it's there. And she can have none of them. :( Or at least, that was my idea.

For a year or so I've been buying GF/EF/DF cookies at a whopping $5-$10 per package. INSANE. But I did it to give my baby some cookie numminess.
Until sugar cookies. Unfortunately, run of the mill grocery stores don't have pre-cut, pre-shaped christmas cookies that are GF/EF/DF. Maybe they should. Could be a market there.

I looked up some recipes for T-safe cookies, and found most of them called for random substituted ingredients that we don't have on hand (cough-xanthamgum-cough). One thing we do have on hand is Domata, a great pre-mixed flour that can (pretty much) be substituted cup for cup for regular flour in a recipe. I just haven't used it much.
So finally I kicked myself in the butt, got up, and made this recipe, substituting the Domata for the flour and corn starch for the eggs. (And for the record, I wasn't aware you COULD sub starch for eggs until now. Thanks, Mr. Google.)

The verdict: They held shape REALLY well, during cutting and baking. However, they ended up hard as rocks, to the point where the girls couldn't actually bite down on them.

I was surprised at how well Tams could use a knife, both to get the icing ON the cookies and IN her mouth.


And then Morri, including missing front tooth:Photobucket

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Random Tuesday: I'm a CRRAZZYYY rabid squirrel! I WANT MY COOKIES!


I find it extremely amusing that something like being "allowed" to post random thoughts has me blog writing again. Heck, maybe I should just start posting my random crap every day instead of trying to make concise posts. Hm, something to think about.

Saw a new psych yesterday, since my old one dropped my insurance. New doc seems pretty neat. He, of course, figured out I'm batcrap insane fairly soon, and his exact words were "Well, Marc (my old doc), you got out of this one, didn't you!" all with a chuckle and head shake. I somehow think I SHOULD have been offended, however, I am not in the least.

Had a victory today. A stupid small one, but still a victory. I cleaned the girls rooms, and when I started to stop half-way through, I told myself to keep going and did. Their rooms are now fully picked up, vacuumed, and de-cob-webbed. I started something, and finished it. That's a big big thing for me.

My poor body. All I've been feeding it is junk lately. No kidding. Yesterday's food consisted of a toaster strudel, frozen pizza, zebra cakes, french fries, a bite or two of mashed potatoes, and 6 cherry turnovers. I have vowed today to at least have two vegetables, a fruit, and some dairy servings. I think I may have to go on a raw diet for a month or two soon.

Oh, yeah, and the psych? When he found out I was still hoping for vet school? With kids? "You're crazy."
Hah. Thanks psych! Glad you noticed.

Speaking of crazy, my mood has been interesting the last few days. I am now med-free, at least for the time being. I can see the mood 'curve' in my mind. Saturday I was extremely manic, Sunday as well. Yesterday I was up, but not UP. Today seems fairly even. If I could have this sort of mind-frame, this sort of mood, every day, I would be happy. I would be even more happy if we could clear up some of the foggy/confused/detached moments. But right now I feel pretty even-keel.

Considering making cookies with the girls. I'm considering even more making two batches, one GF/DF/EF and one mainstream, so that Ben and I could also enjoy them. I still haven't gotten over the texture issues of non-gluten flours.

Tams hasn't had a bottle in two weeks now. I think she's pretty much weaned. She asked for it once a day or two ago, when she was upset, but she accepted a cup of milk and a binkie instead. It's a little bittersweet... I think I would have rather her put down the binkie before the bottle, but I refuse to take it from her. She's miserable enough at night sometimes whenever she has reactions. I think we'll start keeping all the binkies in her bed, though.

I think I should get worst mom of the year award. My kids stocking stuffers include burger king happy meal toys. But they're zu-zu-pests. I figured that's the same as getting the real ones, right?

Oh, and Ragu pasta sauce is freaking tasteless. And Kroger store brand has cheese in it. Okay, the ORIGINAL, "tradiational" sauce has cheese in it. WHAT? I can understand the 'garlic and parmesean' variety having cheese in it. But seriously? The original? Fail, Kroger. FAIL.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Budget Musings

Yesterday I was crunching some numbers to see what we could cut in order to pay down our debt. The trick is, the house doesn't get added on to until all the debt is paid off. And I have this obsession with sun rooms. And guess what? We have plenty of space on the front of the house to add a sun room!

Problem is we can't until all the debt is paid off.

So, after crunching numbers, I realized a few things.

1. We pay way way too much on cell phones.
Solution: Keep the contract for Ben, put my phone on pre-paid. (I used a total of 13 minutes last month... seriously.)

2. Our electric heater and A/C sucks down energy like nobody's business.
Solution: Wood heat with free wood picked up throughout the year. Run the A/C only when it gets unbearable.

3. We spend way too much on fast food.
Solution: Uh, stop eating out.

4. We spend way too much on beer.
Solution: Track a month's spending, cut it in half (or more), and stick it in the budget.

5. We spend way too much on gas.
Solution: Try to combine trips. Have Ben stop at grocery stores/libraries/post office/etc on his way home instead of driving the half hour separate trip. Buy gas when cheap and store in the 55 gal 'gas pump' we have in the garage.

6. Impulse buying at the grocery store.
Solution: Make Ben go with a list. He will be clueless in the store, and therefor will only buy what is on the list in fear of his life.

7. The grocery bill.
This is the hardest one, I think. Currently we spend $400/mo on groceries. This does include the very few (toilet paper, ziplocs... can't think of anything else) disposable items we buy.
But that means we're spending about $15 per day for food. I find this outrageous for some reason.
Solution: Spend $10/day, a total of $70/week, on FOOD ONLY. Budget paper products as needed. Shop sales (big time). Plan out all meals, including snacks. Try to stock up on big sales out of that $70, if possible.

A lot of our budget was eaten up by me NOT checking sales. Now I have a price book that shows me what a good deal is, and what a bad deal is. Especially across stores. For example, Kroger had grapes at $1/lb, which I consider a great deal... until I saw that Carnival had them for 88 cents/lb. The difference doesn't add up to much... until you buy 10 pounds, and realize that's a $1 less. Again, not much, until you realize that many items have that same price arrangement. And those cents add up, so I've noticed! Also coupons are wonderful.

So, $10/day. This should be extremely interesting. I'm going to try to do it for one month, and put that $120 aside for money for stock piling.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chickies Overload!!!!

Spring and summer is the time of babies.
Apparently, for us, it's also the time to buy 30 more adults.

But the babies are the best part.

Months ago I ordered some Blue Laced Red Wyandottes - a rare, and beautiful, breed of chickens that took my breath away the first time I saw them.


June 1st I received 14 of these chickies.

Unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of them when they were day-old and fluffy.


You can already see the beautiful patterns and colors in the wings. We have some really dark ones and some really light ones.

A couple of weeks later, here they are, in all their glory. Now they're housed in the barn and their feathers are almost all filled out.

I can't wait for them to grow up.

Then, a few weeks ago, we hatched some of our own home-layed eggs in the incubator. We had about 28 eggs in there, and only got about 10 chicks, but I was happy with that! They came out nice and wet and weak.

Then a few days later puffed up nicely!

So, that's the chickies so far this year. We have another set of eggs in the incubator set to hatch soon.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A rant, of sorts.

Living out in the middle of nowhere has some amazing benefits. We have land, animals, a safe, crime-free environment for the kids. We have a house that was practically given to us - true, it needs repairs, but what house doesn't? We have a wonderful school, a quiet atmosphere, and the chance to see the stars in all their glory without any lights.

I do believe that sometimes the cons outweigh the pros, though. The cons are many and are extremely life-limiting.
- In order to go grocery shopping, we have to drive half an hour. There is a small grocery store about 20 minutes away, however, it's prices are sky high and it's produce leaves something to be desired. In summer, there are farmer's markets, but (except for 2 I can think about) those are even 15-20 minutes away.

- Our closest Catholic church is 10 minutes away. However I find it extremely boring and do not like the Priest. I also don't like how they aren't involved with the community, as I find that one of the ideas of Catholicism. The next closest church is about 35 minutes away.

- There are very few, if any, chances to meet other moms unless your kids are in school. Our library (15 min away) does have a weekly story time, but they're always full. I have yet to find even an online mom's group for our area. I am hoping that our YMCA membership will help - hopefully I can enroll the girls in some classes and make friends. But even Licking County, where the YMCA is, is 25 minutes away.

- Doctors, allergists, dentists, hospitals, and other related services. Tamsyn's allergist is 30 min away. My dentist is 25 min away. My therapist is 20 min away. And heck, my psych is almost an hour away.

- Because of the distances of, well, everything, we spend a TON on gas money. Ben's gas allowance JUST for work is $100/week. That doesn't include my gas for things like appointments.

Lately I have been very lonely and trying to reach out to find friends. I'm part of a columbus mom's board, but 90% of them live in downtown columbus or the surrounding neighborhoods - 45 min to 1 hour away.

As you can imagine, it's very frustrating. And disheartening. And I'm not sure how to fix it.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

This looked like a ton of fun. Credit goes to "The Un Mom". The idea is you take one post where you just blurt out random thoughts that are going through your head. Sounds kinda like therapy to me, but hey, it works.

I hate how our phone works. Not the phone itself, but the service. Our area code is 740. I should be able to call all of 740 without dialing 1, right? At least in my mind. But nooooo. Some 740 require a 1, and some don't. So I end up dialing, just to get a 'you need to dial a 1 or 0' message. And if I dial a 1, when it's not needed, i get the OTHER message. Incredibly frustrating.

I have this planner, and I love it. It's notebook sized, plenty of room to write in things. I paper clip things like invitations, business cards/appointment cards, etc in it. I'm very organized with it. The problem is I don't look at it every day, and therefor tend to miss things.

I need to buy the kids some soy-doh.

I need to do weird housework like picking up all the hairbands in the bedroom.

We need a vacation. And a babysitter. And a new kitchen floor.

I feel like my life is going downhill and uphill at the same time. Medication has changed EVERYTHING. But on the downside, I'm getting fat. I'm drinking more. I'm on the computer all. freaking. day. I can't seem to get up early, even though I set an alarm and have things to do.
And I have no idea if it's medication related, or if it's just me. Am I a lazy? Am I unmotivated? Do I just need stimulation? School starts soon. I have some homestudy courses registered.
Am I still depressed? Do I need to go on a mild antidepressant in addition to my BPD meds? I suppose this is things I need to talk with the therapist and psych about.

I need to take some photography classes. Or at least learn how to use my camera better. Heck, I need a new camera... this one is 5 years old.

Does wet steam cleaning the carpet kill dust mites, or promote growth?

I need to organize my closets. I seem to have a ton of storage space and absolutely no idea of how to use it.

Morrigan has no idea that there are 14 baby chicks in our utility room. I've managed to hide them for almost a week and a half now. This weekend I'm kicking their little fuzzy butts outside to the pen in the barn because they stink.

I'm 23 now. I don't feel different. I almost didn't notice my birthday passed. We were at Rusty's party all day, and the only recognition I seemed to get was a very disappointing night out, where we all went drinking, and then everyone passed out. And then had to get up at 6am the next morning to pick up the kids. I feel kinda cheated, honestly. I wanted my tattoo, or to go on a bike ride with Ben, or to play card games all night. I wanted a cake and ice cream. I wanted to have my own little party with my friends and my family. But we had to go to Ben's parents instead, because Rusty's party was on my birthday, because he wanted to watch a car race on his birthday by himself. Lucky him. He got to do what he wanted. Not that I'm angry or bitter at Ben's parents, because I'm not. It was just kind of a sucky day.

On to a new positive note, we figured out another trigger for Tamsyn's eczema. The new allergist we're going to noticed she tested positive for eggs, and had us take them out for 3 weeks. A week into it, things have improved dramatically. She's even had a few slip ups (bite of bread, finger-full of cheesecake) with very little reaction other than some itching and very slight redness. It's a very positive sign!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dancing Baby

Tamsyn is a mover. She loves dancing. We can put on some music and she'll sway and wiggle and turn in circles. Her cutest move is when she starts marching and bouncing.
Sometimes daddy gets involved, and they have a ton of fun together.




And then, sometimes, she just has to jig on her own.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More Wild Visitors!

One of the perks of living out here in the boonies is our visitors. So far we've had a snake and a hawk. Now we've had two visitors in one day!

Our first was a bumpy little toad. Ben almost stepped on him. We seem to find a lot of our visitors that way! The girls were fascinated.


Ben gave it to Morrigan to hold, and she did, with no hesitation!

Then she decided, on her own, to let it go. I was proud. Sometimes she's very possessive.

It started to hop away...

And the chase began!

Our second visitor was slightly less active, but beautiful none-the-less.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Morrigan's Chicken

Morrigan has adopted one of our adolescent chickens as her own. Luckily the chicken in question is extremely tame, one of our hand-raised ones.
But she carts it around all day. It's sooo cute.


We were a little worried about her hurting him. He seemed a little lethargic, but once she put him down he bounced around fine. She named her "Gray".

Then Morri got creative. She decided to find Gray a house.


So that's Morrigan's new pet. Much better than a puppy, in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garden Explosion!

Memorial Day weekend, after a relaxing day with Ben's parents and family (Happy 59th birthday, Rusty!) we were gardening our butts off! All together we put 80 plants in the ground. 36 tomato plants, organized and caged; 36 peppers, including a few different hot and spicy varieties. Our asparagus is exploding in wonderful stalks.


The house bed has been tilled, hoed and weeded. You can see all the weeds in the back here. There were a ton of thistles and weeds! Once, last week, the WHOLE house bed was covered in all these weeds.


Then it was planted with 8 wonderful herb plants, including rosemary, basil, lavender, spearmint, and peppermint. We surrounded it with chickenwire to make sure the chickens, and other assorted wildlife, would stay out.


We have 8 more herb plants waiting to go in the ground, a few various veggie and fruit plants like watermelons, cucumbers, and zucchinis.

I also found a grape plant hidden behind all the weeds in the house garden, fighting it's way up the trellis. We have another grape vine growing in the front garden, and I believe that I will transplant it on the other side of this trellis.

In the hidden, overgrown area of the front garden, we found this absolutely beautiful rose bush. The one flower I am absolutely in love with is roses. The other flowers really don't interest me, but roses are wonderful.



Whew! We both got sunburned and dirty. I love it. This year we will have homegrown produce, homegrown herbs, homegrown honey, goat meat, goat milk... Our homestead is really taking off!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Diggin' in the dirt, First strawberry harvest, and bees!

So, Ben's grandmother, bless her, was an avid flower lover. She brought in the flowers, artfully aranged, to her church every week. They ALL were from her garden.
There are rows, ROWS of these flowers. Our yard is a fantastic, colorful picture during spring.

The problem? I absolutely hate them.

They are invading our gardening space. They are invading the weed patch (aka front garden to-be). So today I dug some up.


I'm hopefully giving them away.

In other news, the bees are doing good. They seem to be business as usual, which means the queen is still alive.

In that one you can kinda see a few at the opening of the hive, if you look real close. I was a little afraid to get too close because of last week's fiasco.

And today was our first strawberry harvest! They were new plants last year so we only got a couple of measly berries, but this year they're in full swing! Here's a handful so far, but there's a TON of still-unripe berries, and a bunch of flowers left too!

Other than that, life has been pretty calm lately. This weekend will probably be a chaotic one, because the next few weekends are full!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random Post #1

Whew, we have busy busy weeks ahead of us!

This weekend is, thankfully, free. Next weekend we have a birthday party. The weekend after that we have a baby shower! The weekend after that I go to the dentist. The weekend after that the girls go to a new pedi!


Luckily the weeks seem pretty empty.

June 29th summer quarter at school starts. I have three at-home classes. It will feel good to keep learning, even if it's at home! I hope to go back for real classes by winter.

Life on the farm chugs along! One of our hens hatched her chicks a week or so ago. Out of 15 eggs, only three hatched. :( I was very sad.


She seems to be taking care of them, at least. She protects them from the roosters and feeds them.


I love watching natural-hatched chicks. They act so different from hatchery chicks.

Our asparagus is also popping up, finally! We planted 25 roots a few weeks ago, luckily before the rains set in. Now I'm sure they've had plenty of water, and we mulched on top of them to keep the weeds out and give them nutrients.

Also in the asparagus bed was some odd looking fungi that I pulled up after I took the picture. First off, I'm allergic to mushrooms, and second off, I didn't want the kids getting into it and chance that it was poisonous.

Not sure how good you can see it.

My strawberries are also taking off! I hope to have a good harvest this year, out of the six plants. I'm sure the rain are helping them too!

I need to mulch the bed really bad... the weeds are getting ridiculous.

So anyway, thats the update from the Doran farm!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bee Update - And We Screwed Up

We checked on the bees a few nights ago.
They were buzzing in and out of the hive with no problem! Little efficient workers. Female, of course.


Then we checked the top to see if we could see anything. They were building! You can see the bright white of the new comb on a few of the bars here.

And a close up:

Then we lifted up the top box to see how far down the new comb went:

Then we had this BRILLIANT idea of checking on the queen, and taking out the 'queen cage'. Great idea, in theory... pop the cage off, push it onto the next box down, take it out, check for queen. In theory.
So Ben took out the nail and it just hung there. We thought there might be a tiny bit of comb stuck to it, so he took his screwdriver and pushed it down.
Little did we know that we accidentally broke off a whole freaking comb. A big chunk.
We lifted the top box to find broken comb and some REALLY ANGRY BEES!

They kinda swarmed out of the hive and came at us.. Ben stuck the box back down pronto, and I ran away. A bee got stuck in my hair, I freaked out and started rolling around on the ground. But nobody got stung!

So, um, yeah. We totally screwed up our fragile new hive. Hopefully they'll tear it up and try to rebuild.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Slithering Surprise!

I'm going to make this a cut post, because some people are terrified of snakes.

This post contains snake pictures!
Enter at your own risk!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Crafty Caterpillars

I remember making the egg carton caterpillars when I was a kid, so I figured the girls would like it too!

We started by donning our now-dry painted aprons. Then we got out the paint, pipe cleaners, beads, googly eyes, and egg carton.


The girls had a ton of fun painting.

Then I put Tamsyn down for a nap. This was a bit too hard for her. She painted but had no interest in the rest of it.

Morri and I glued on eyes, a bead nose, and sparkly pipe cleaner legs, mouth, and antennae. We stuck some beads on her 'pillar's antennae too.
The finished products: