Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crazy prep time

T had previously convinced me to take the entire week to spend up north before the Alzheimer's walk. Now, because of the funeral, Monkey and I were going to skip our week of "vacation" and wait for T so we would only have one vehicle up there.

My father-in-law had a follow-up appointment here in Bangor yesterday from his surgery a few weeks ago (a month ago? has it already been that long?). He spent the night rather than make the round trip in one day.

T asked him to spend an extra night (tonight) so Monkey and I can hitch a ride north with him tomorrow. This way, I get to put in a full day in the office today, spend the entire week in Fort Kent and we can all drive down together on Sunday (T will meet us up there on Friday). YAY!

In preparation for my vacation, I've been attempting to get everything done at the house. Nothing burns me more than coming home from vacation to a house that looks like a tornado just came through. My house looks like it did when I finished spring cleaning right now (wait - did I finish spring cleaning? Who knows... ha ha). And it feels SO good. I've threatened T with bodily harm if it doesn't look this good when we come back on Sunday. I'm sure many other wives out there would agree - husband's aren't always the greatest about the home environment when they are "bach'ing" it for the week (he likes to think he's a bachelor again when he's alone - hence "bach'ing").

Yesterday was one of the longest days I've had in a really really long time. Monkey woke up at 4 AM. She was only awake for a few minutes, but it was long enough that I couldn't fall back to sleep. At 5, I gave in and got up to pay bills. Monkey and I also had errands to run (like making sure T has food so he doesn't starve without us).

I also have also prepared my final batch of tomato sauce for the season yesterday. It's been a long time coming and it was such an absolutely wonderful feeling when I was putting the finished sauce into containers for freezing. T will be using some in a veggie lasagna for dinner tonight. I impressed his dad with my cooking last night (Chicken Marsala - yummy) so T's going to work his magic tonight (See? He's really not as helpless as I might make it seem).

I also spent some time yesterday on a new dehydrator experiment. I've been experimenting with is quite a bit this year, first with the banana chips, then with cherry tomatoes. Now I've made apple chips. It was so super easy. I just cored them, sliced them, tossed them in the dehydrator and let them go for about 12 hours. We tried them out and liked them so much that I immediately started another round to run overnight. I packed them this morning with the intentions of doing another batch overnight tonight.

My bagel and coffee are gone, so I must now be headed to work for the day. I doubt my day today will be nearly as productive as yesterday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gentle reminders

I complain a ton about living in the "city." I know Bangor isn't exactly high speed city life compared to other parts of the country, but it is for me.

I grew up in the sticks. I'm not joking. Our closest neighbors were the bears. So "city" life was a pretty big adjustment for me. T grew up in town so he didn't mind hearing traffic nearly as much as I did.

When we bought our house back in 2004, my one requirement was that we were out of town. Luckily, T agreed.

We found an affordable ranch just 20 minutes out of town - far enough to be out, but close enough to not have a heinous commute for work.

This morning, God gave me a gentle reminder about how peaceful it really is where we are. Yes, I want to move back home. But the only thing I'm missing here is my family. I do still have all of the same natural enjoyments I get at my parents - actually, more so.

Monkey and I awoke to a doe and her fawn (pictured above) having their breakfast under the big oak tree across the street from us. I wasn't sure Monkey would be able to see them (heck,
I'm surprised I saw them). Sure enough, she spotted them and started pointing and grunting her excited to see animal grunts. T wasn't nearly as thrilled because I woke him up to show him. Oops. haha

A few weeks ago, while I was getting ready for work, I noticed about 30 turkeys enjoying our back lawn (pictured to the right). There were just as many itty bitty babies as their were adults. It was the first time I'd seen any babies so I found it pretty cool.

We even had a moose run through our yard last spring. That caught us really off guard. Neither of us had ever seen a moose around here in the 4+ years we'd been here.

I do get to laugh at T now, too. Every time we stay overnight for a visit at his parents, he always complains about not being able to sleep because of the traffic.

So this is my reminder to myself. City living isn't all that bad.

Unforeseen events

We were notified yesterday of a death in the family on T's side.

The funeral is on Saturday morning in my hometown.

Unfortunately, the timing makes it so that I can not participate in the Alzheimer's walk after all. Fate just doesn't seem to want me to do this walk. I couldn't last year, either.

My mom will still be going. And she will be accompanied by Monkey in her stroller (we don't want to bring her to the funeral with us).

With these circumstances, I'd much rather be doing the walk in the pouring rain (or snow) than have lost a member of the family.

RIP Uncle Roger. You will be missed by many.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alzheimer's Memory Walk 2008 update

We're 1 week out until the walk. I've surpassed my goal twice in donations. So, I've increased my goal twice. I started with a goal of $50. I was a little worried with it being so close to the walk and my hectic life. How was I going to round up donations?

Turns out, I had nothing to be worried about. I hit $50 pretty quickly, so I increased my goal to $100. When I surpassed that after a week, I increased my online goal to $250.

I still need $55 to reach this goal. But, considering I signed up for this walk only 3 weeks out, I'm pretty impressed.

Again, I want to thank everyone for their support. I can't even begin to express my gratitude.

Now let's hope the weather cooperates so we're not walking 4 miles in the rain!

- If you haven't already and you would like to, please make a donation on the Alzheimer's website.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Been busy

Monkey and I have been busy bees.

We've been up to our ears in corn (hardy har) and keeping an eye on the potatoes. Now I'm just being corny. We didn't plant potatoes. haha We've really been watching our paper bags filled with tomatoes for the ripe ones. And then, of course, the tomato sauce. I think we've got 5 or 6 batches left with the tomatoes we have left to ripen. I see the end of the tunnel!!

Yesterday, we left our upside down house and played in the yard all afternoon. We haven't been getting outdoors nearly enough. Housework can wait. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to put out our fall decorations. I was tempted to pull out the Halloween stuff as well, but I decided we'll wait for a nice day next week to do that.

I could also hear them harvesting the corn field down the road from us, so I plopped Monkey into her stroller and we went down to watch the red tractor. She was quite enthralled until she noticed the cows in their pasture across the street from the corn field. We ended our little walk Moo'ing at the cows.

It's Friday. That means we'll be running into town for me to drop off and pick up paperwork at the office. This usually prompts me to run errands in town at the same time (save trips to town and do it all at once). There's a few things I need at Sam's (we're out of olive oil for tomato sauce - the horror!) and my contact solution is buy 1 get 1 free at Walgreens. May as well get a couple bottles at that price!

With that, the little one and I are off to pick up our books, get out of our jammies and head on to town.

May you have a productive day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Movie night

I'd like to turn our Friday night into Pizza and Movie night for the cold weather months. This being the first official Friday of Fall, it seems like a good night to start! Picnics on the living room floor will be allowed.

I'm looking for movie recommendations. I'm thinking we'll do 2 movies: 1 child friendly and 1 for us after she hits the hay. That may be ambitious and we may only get in 1, but that's ok.

We don't watch movies all that much, so here's a list of the most recent we've seen (so don't recommend them! :-P):

Into the Wild - I can't tell you how much this movie depressed me
Little Miss Sunshine - LOVE
The Harry Potter movies - books are still better
The Incredibles - good, but a bit violent for young kiddos, in my opinion
Finding Nemo - only movie Monkey has ever seen!

Small, sad list, isn't it?

Help us increase our movie knowledge!

PS - I hate blood and gore. My husband is kind enough to avoid those for me when picking up a video. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Trying to get over a bug.

And I'm in the office today.

Very much looking forward to the end of the day and my nice cuddly bed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Around the state in less than a day

So, we didn't hit the entire state, nearly. But we did do a pretty big loop through!

We started off an hour later than we were hoping, but 9 AM was still a pretty good start. We made our way down to Unity for the Common Ground Fair. It being my first time, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We had a lot of fun! Monkey enjoyed the music and people watching. T and I got some good ideas for next year's garden (specifically, the tomatoes!). Monkey also loved all of the animals, but like most toddlers, she lost interest in the sheep dog show after less than 15 minutes.We spent most of the day there checking out all of the booths and exhibits. The hand knit goods reinforced my desire to learn how to knit.

From Unity, we took the long way home (long, out of the way route). We drove to Skowhegan to visit Oak Pond Brewery. It's owned by a husband and wife duo. He gave us a tour and then gave us samples to try. T very much enjoyed Laughing Loon, but he also liked the Nut Brown Ale and Pale Ale. We brought 1/2 gallon each of Laughing Loon and of the Nut Brown home. If you bring the bottle back, cleaned and ready to fill, you can get a refill for $5. Great deal!

From there, we took Route 2 back towards Bangor instead of hopping on the I-95. We stopped at Conant Orchard in Etna (it's right on Route 2 - you can't miss it). We got a paper grocery bag full of apples for $11. That is an awesome price considering we spend $10 a peck at Treworgy Orchards in Levant. The price was great, but for overall experience, I still recommend Treworgy Orchards. They have a petting zoo, corn maze, the apple orchard, hay rides, a pumpkin patch and an ice cream bar.

From there, we headed on home. It was a very full day!

A new day

After a bit of wallowing yesterday, I ended up doing quite a bit of busy work. After a semi-restful night of sleep, I'm feeling better today.

We're off to the Common Ground Fair today. It's my first time and I'm pretty excited.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Difficult day

I'm giving myself a pass on all of the things I was supposed to do this afternoon. My house is still upside down and I just don't care right now. I feel bad for T when he's been working all day and comes home to this chaos, but I just don't have it in me.

I just had a horrible day emotionally. My grandmother (D - we don't call her Memere, so I'll just call her D here) is having some health issues and had a doctor's appointment here in Bangor. My Mom, Aunt B and Pepere came down for her appointment and Monkey and I joined them. Mom and Aunt B went in to speak to the doctor with D. So Monkey and I stayed in the waiting room to keep an eye on Pepere. He likes to walk and tends to just take off, so we couldn't leave him in the waiting room alone. Especially not in a strange town.

He obviously doesn't know Monkey. That's something I accepted the day I told them I was pregnant and he turned around and told D that it was too bad I wasn't married first (yes, the day that consumed our lives while preparing for it was no longer a memory for him--even though that's all he talked about for a year or more).

It's happened. So much sooner than I was ready for. He doesn't know me. At least, in that strange environment with just the two of us there, he had no idea who I was. He thought I was his niece for some time. It completely broke my heart and I nearly broke down right there in the waiting room. Even writing it out now is just so extremely painful.

This is the man that used to change my diapers. He used to cuddle on the couch with me. He used to take me to pick strawberries ("Look at the big F-ing berries!" - inside joke. D will get it and get a chuckle). And today he looked at me like I was a stranger.

This makes being 200 miles away so hard. So so very hard.

And on that note, I want to publicly thank everyone that has made a donation in support of the 2008 Memory Walk. Words can't tell you how very much I appreciate the support.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Keeping up on housework 101

Is there a class of this nature? If so--SIGN ME UP!

I've hit an all new frustration level in trying to keep this house clean.

If only it would be as easy to clean as it is to dirty.

So tonight, I've turned to beer again.

OK, so I've got a 12 pack in the fridge. If it's here, I'm gonna drink it (2 dry years took a toll on me, it seems).

And on this Thursday evening, I look forward to next Thursday when NBC's new Thursday night line up starts! It's been far too long since we've had a good dose of The Office. And I'm a little interested in the new show, Kath & Kim. I did start enjoying 30 Rock by the end of last season, too.

We are not TV people, by any means. Hell, poor Monkey scared the crap out of herself with the DVD player just today (she didn't realize it would open and pressing buttons is one of her favorite activities right now). But Thursday night is our night to sit down in front of "the box" and get a little entertainment.

I'm hoping to learn to knit this winter. I think Thursday nights will be a great opportunity for me to take it up. I'll actually be sitting in 1 place for a period of time. Why not keep my hands busy?

I'm also hoping to learn to make cheese this winter. I read a few articles in Mother Earth News over Labor Day weekend and it piqued my curiosity.

And this, my friends, is how the mind of drunk Jodi works. I went from housework to TV to knitting to cheese all in a span of less than 5 minutes.

So with that, I bid you farewell for the night. Better to make an ass of myself privately than to broadcast it on the world wide net. ;-)

PS - Thank goodness for spell check.

A beautiful sight indeed.

We have reached the end of the growing season, it seems. T informed me this morning we're expecting a frost tonight. Luckily, we only have tomatoes and parsley left in the main garden. We've got a few small green peppers in the bed in front of our shed.

I harvested the rest of our basil yesterday. That was the most aromatic beautiful basket of green ever seen. We cleaned it and put it through the salad spinner a few times (Monkey loved helping spin - I think we've got our official salad spinner next year!). I let it sit in the basket for a couple hours to make sure all of the water was gone. I spun it a bit more and then wrapped it all in paper towels. I put the rolled towels into a resealable storage bag, squeezed out as much air as I could and tossed the whole thing into the refrigerator. I did this with my parsley last year and it lasted approximately 2 months. Hopefully, it will be as effective for the basil!

T is planning on using a tarp to cover the tomatoes and remaining parsley to protect them from the frost tonight. I'll be running around with old sheets to protect my flowers and pumpkins.

Like I said yesterday... Winter is coming.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've gone and done it

I had a couple beers and now I'm buzzzzzed.

Good thing T is doing bed time tonight (it was his turn anyways. HA)!

I want to recommend Sea Dog's BluePaw. It is blueberry flavored ale - not plain ale with floating blueberries in it like you get most places. (See all of their brews here).

It is unreal straight from the tap (I do mean in a glass, of course), but you can get it in bottles as well.

And, well.. YUM.

Have a good night. I am. :-)


Don't mind my off kilter layout.

I'm updating. Monkey has waken from her nap so it's going to have stay off kilter until tomorrow.


Winter is coming.

Yep. You heard it here first.

OK. So maybe you didn't hear it here first. Really, all you have to do is look outside to realize winter will be here before you know it. The leaves are starting to change in some places. Farmers have started their harvests. And, as I type this, I see a squirrel busily collecting acorns on the big oak tree across the street from our house.

When I got home from work last night, I saw T had changed out the screens for the window panels on our doors (Anderson Doors - worth every single penny we paid for them - and we got them on sale, of course).

While T was putting the mower away last night, he insisted Monkey and I go check out the new tires that arrived yesterday for the Jeep. While in the shed oohing and aahing over the beauty of them and how wonderfully deep the treads are, T started organizing a bit. He was rearranging to make room for the ton of corn he'll be adding to the 2 ton of wood pellets already in there.

I spied something that actually made me look forward to the snow (crazy, right?).

Our snowshoes and Monkey's sled! So instead of dreading the cold this year, I've decided to embrace it with open arms. After all, I did enjoy the snow last year. Perhaps this is another one of those things that change when you become a parent? I look at things through her eyes more than I do my own now.

I'll end this with a few pictures from last winter. Afterall, it's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's not easy being green

Monkey encountered her first frog tonight. And Mommy had one of those "WHY didn't I grab the camera?!?!" moments. I found the little jumper while doing my daily rummage through the tomato plants for anything ready to come in. I picked it up and brought it over to where Monkey was munching on a cherry tomato.

She LOVED it. I didn't dare let her take it from me for fear she would be like her Uncle K and smoosh it to death. But I did let her pet it and poke at it. The squeals were delightful. We then let Kermit go--and she proceeded to chase him around a little. We then left him peacefully hiding under the freshly mowed grass to continue on our quest for ripe tomatoes.

For once, I didn't get peed on (by the frog, sillies!)!

I've found a squash I do not like.

I didn't think it was possible.

I'll be the first to admit to being a picky eater. However, motherhood changes things. As well as making me scatter brained and in constant need of a notebook to jot down reminders, it has apparently also affected my taste buds. I don't think I could be considered a picky eater anymore because I'll eat most any food placed in front of me (oink oink).

Obviously, we love summer squash. I'm surprised we didn't turn into gourds when that was all we ate for a month. A few weeks ago, one of T's co-workers gave him a spaghetti squash. He suggested mixing the cooked squash with some actual spaghetti for our first time. Lo and behold, we loved it (especially with our infamous tomato sauce--ha). I'm left wondering why we had never tried it before now! It is going to be a welcome addition to next summer's garden.

Also gifted a butternut squash, we tried it for the first time a few days ago. I cut it open, scooped out the seeds and baked it with some butter and a touch of brown sugar. For starters, I didn't bake it long enough. Dinner was already late that night, so we took our servings from one half, but we put the other half back in the oven for a while. I didn't enjoy it. It reminded me of turnips, and I am not a fan of turnips (even after my new mother taste buds developed). T seemed to be on the fence. And Monkey--my Monkey whom could also be known as Piggy-- she only ate a few bites before turning her attention to the rest of the food on her plate.

So, dear readers, I have an assignment of sorts for you. I want to know how you cook YOUR butternut squash. I still have another one to cook (we were given one after we bought one at a farm stand). Anyone can do an online search, but what I want is your tried and true recipes.

You may make a convert of me yet.

Monday, September 15, 2008


As some of you may already know, my Pepere (grandfather) is suffering from Alzheimer's. It's a horrible disease, much worse for the family than the person actually suffering it. He is happy and doesn't realize what is happening, but we are forced to watch him forget things and people. And we get to dread the day he no longer remembers who we are, his own flesh and blood.

Currently more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's. Unless we find a way to change the course of the disease, 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.

I want to do my part to fight this fatal disease – but I can’t do it without your help. Memory Walk funds help the Alzheimer's Association advance important research into better treatments and a possible cure for Alzheimer’s. And for the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

I'm participating in the Alzheimer's 2008 Memory Walk in Fort Kent on October 4.

Any donations made to the Alzheimer's Association are greatly appreciated.

You can support me here: Jodi's Donation Page.

Thank you for your support, either monetary or moral.

Saving money

Some people are scared of sales fliers. OK, not really. Some (many) people just don't have time for them. I will admit to being one of those people. Lets face it. When I first moved out on my own, I was working 50-some-odd hours a week and keeping a household. Not to mention, I was 22 and spending far too much time partying (nothing wrong with that).

When we first found out we were having Monkey, we needed to decide what we were going to do as far as child care. We said I'd work 3 days a week (30 hours). I would work on T's day off, on Saturday and we'd send Monkey to daycare 1 day a week. Once she arrived, this changed. Neither of us wanted to put her into someone else's care, even if it was only 1 day a week, no matter how much we like the person we had snagged a spot with. Obviously, that has an effect on our money situation.

Sales fliers became my best friend. And coupons.. oh the coupons I started cutting.

Cutting coupons can be overwhelming. It's very important to remember to cut only the coupons for products you use (or want to start using). It's also important to find a storage system that works for you. Personally, I have 4 envelopes of coupons: baby products, groceries, grooming/home care and store specific.

Every Sunday, I sit down with my coupons and fliers and make a game plan. I plan my meals and see if there are things we need that are on sale, I have a coupon for, or better yet - both!

I need to share the great deals I got today. Walgreens is fairly new to Bangor and today was my first visit. Purex laundry detergent is buy 1 get 1 free. Um, hello? Great deal. What made it EVEN BETTER is that I had a coupon for $1.00 off with the purchase of 2. I also found a coupon in the flier for 2 boxes of Puffs Plus for $3. I spent a grand total of $10.54 - with a savings of $9.97!

These are products I use in my home every day already, so why not get it for so much cheaper? You can bet I'll be back to Walgreens in the future.

Also, for you parents out there, they are selling Walgreens brand non-aspirin (like Tylenol) and ibuprofen (like Motrin) for buy 1 at $4.99 and get 1 free. Know that it is children's and not infant's (I almost bought a couple of each to stock up when I realized this).

And while I'm on money saving tips for parents - here's a great one for you parents of girls. You know all of those adorable little dresses we dress our daughters in? You can reuse them as shirts later! Example: the shirt you see below is a size 0-3 month dress that I dressed Monkey in for her aunt & uncle's wedding last October. (I'm only thinking of this because that's what she's wearing today.... ha ha)

Can't tell, can you?

I will end this post on the cuteness that is my toddler. What else could I possibly say?

Happy Birthday

I forgot to post a shout out to my dad yesterday to wish him a very happy birthday.


I get a free pass since he was actually here for me to wish him a happy birthday in person, k?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rainy Day

After a failed attempt at sewing (I woke up Monkey from her nap with the noisy sewing machine), I'm quietly surfing the net. The weather isn't cooperating for outdoor projects. And truth be told, I need a day off in the kitchen (though I do have enough tomatoes inside for yet another batch of tomato sauce!).

I have the antennae for Monkey's Halloween costume completed. I also have the basis for the bee body started. I decided that as much as I like to think I need my Mom's help, I really don't. I've been using a sewing machine and free-handing projects since I was a kid, so there's no reason why I can't handle such a simple project (and have it be cuter than this)! She taught me well and at my age, I don't need her to hold my hand anymore. I also have the supplies together to make her wings. I had completely forgotten about wings!

I decided to share a picture from last Halloween. At the time, we didn't realize how appropriate the monkey costume was (she's a climber, I tell you!). Please know that I won't be posting any pictures where you can see Monkey's face well because I want to protect her identity (which is why I call her Monkey here in the first place).

What you can't see is the embroidery on my shirt. I made a "logo" for "****** Zoo" (*** = our last name). And on the right side, I embroidered "Mommy, Head Keeper." And yes, that is a stuffed monkey tied to my leg.

I now am looking online to figure out what I'm going to use for my costume this year. I really just need to put together a bee keeper hat (I'm thinking of just using a mosquito netting hat) and make a bunch of little bumble bees to attach to my hat.

Too bad T is being a spoiled sport this year. I was going to dress him as a honey pot.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The waiting game.

Monkey passed a wonderful night last night. Mommy, however, doesn't sleep when we're home alone. After 3 hours of sleep, I needed a pot of coffee (way to try to wean myself, eh?) and a couple glasses of soda (I know - so healthy) to get myself going over the course of the morning.

I was able to at least get myself showered and changed. We've since folded 2 loads of laundry, washed the few dishes that we left in the sink last night and while Monkey napped, I made a double batch of tomato sauce. After all this tomato sauce, we haven't even put a dent into the tomatoes still in the garden. Lucky for me, they've only been ripening up a batch or 2 at a time so I'm able to keep up with them (mostly).

I've lost all ambition on making apple chips. I know I'll regret this if I lose the apples, but at the moment, I just can't do it.

My parents are on their way from their mini-vacation in Bar Harbor. And by this time, T and all of the helpers my father-in-law lined up should be 3/4 of the way through splitting and piling the firewood. Hopefully he'll be able to make it home before Monkey goes to bed.

So for now, Monkey and I alternate chasing each other around the house, reading books (OK - I do the reading to her) and sitting to wait.

I'd love to convince her to take another nap so I could try to take 1 of my own, but I know it's just not in the cards.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Afternoon errands

I've been out running errands all day today. With T at work all day today, out of town tonight and all day tomorrow... well, let's just say Monkey and I needed out of the house to break up the monotony of it all (especially since we've been here alone all day Wednesday and Thursday as well!)

I couldn't find a nice yellow fleece at my local Wal-mart, so I made a stop at Jo Ann's. DING DING DING! Fleece is on sale for $5.99/yard (regularly $8.99/yard). Now, granted it would have been cheaper to use a 40% off coupon at regular price, but I really needed to get it today because tomorrow is my one chance at getting my Mom's help to make it. The felt by the yard is also on sale for $2.99/yard (regularly $4.99/yard - 40% off). It's really wide so it will work very well to cut strips to make the stripes.

I found a black sparkly headband in the $1 bin at Jo Ann's. I needed some pipe cleaners, so I bought some of those, which I can attach to the headband as antennae. And I already have a bag of cotton pom poms (that I bought at the Dollar Tree), so I can attach a couple of those to the top of the pipe cleaners.

Speaking of the Dollar Tree.... I bought a few random Halloween decorations that I have a few project ideas for. I will refrain from the Halloween decorating until we at least hit the month of October.

Cheap cheap cheap! Loving it!


Fall is by far my favorite season. When I see the mums appearing outside, I know it won't be long before we have the pleasantly cool weather and the changing of the leaves. With fall comes the funnest holiday... Halloween!

In the past, when fall rolled around, I'd decorate with mums and cornstalks. I would forgo the Halloween decorations. It was just T & I, after all, and we are adults now (or so I've been told).

So this September, I'm sticking with my traditional "fall" decorating. But now that we have Monkey and she's old enough to have some fun with it (I'll just keep telling that to myself), October is going to be filled with ghoulish decor!

Last week, I went to buy mums to start the process. Wal-mart has great deals. Here's my first money saving tip for decorating: Hit up Wal-mart early. For $2.50 and $4.50 for mums, the nice ones go quickly. For a total of $25, I have all the fall flowers I need to start the transformation. If you wait too long, you're going to end up with a wilted selection - or need to go elsewhere and pay more.

We have also gone to pick our pumpkins. Money saving tip #2: Find a local pick your own pumpkin patch (a good place to start your search is http://farms.2havefun.com/). Our spot is Rocky Ridge Farm in Corinth. We've been going there since we moved to our house 4 1/2 years ago. In the past, it was $1 per pumpkin, but this year they've upped the price to $1.5o per pumpkin. That is still an insanely cheap price for pumpkins! (This is not per pound - it is per pumpkin!!). For a total of $15, we now have our second phase of our fall transformation.

I'm currently planning the next phase of our transformation.. but that's for another day (and I will share pictures when I finish up).

Back to Halloween. Growing up, my Mom made our costumes (and more often than not dressed up with us). We actually still have one that she made for me out of a suit she wore while pregnant for me. It's a little Indian (Native American, to be politically correct) costume that she lovingly designed and sewed for me to wear as a toddler. It originally was a skirt but she turned it into shorts when it was my brother's turn to wear it. It then got passed on to my aunt's 2 kids and has since made its way back to bro, for C, my nephew, to hopefully wear in the next year or 2. (It won't fit Monkey until she's at least 5 because she's so darn tiny!). So this is one of those fun things I was looking forward to as a parent.

We were gifted at a baby shower, appropriately enough, a monkey costume for last year. So I dressed as a zookeeper and hauled around my little monkey to visit my sister-in-law, friends and co-workers. This year, however, I'm making Monkey's costume. After much consideration and brainstorming, I've settled on her dressing as a Bumble Bee (and, I, obviously, will dress as a Bee Keeper).

I purchased a pair of black tights for her this weekend ($4/pair - ouch - but she can wear them all winter, so I'll still get my money's worth out of them). I also found a long sleeve black t-shirt for $4 with shipping on E-bay. This is the base of her costume. Today, I am going to Wal-mart to buy some yellow fleece - and depending on cost, either black fleece or black ribbon (which ever is more cost effective) to make the stripes. I'm just missing the hat, but I remember seeing a bee antennae headband at Jo Ann Fabrics last week, so I'm going to bring my 40% coupon (sign up for their mail fliers - money saving tip #3!) and see if it's still there.

T is heading north after work tonight to take care of my in-law's firewood (my father-in-law obviously can't cut, split, haul and pile wood this year after having his surgery a week ago). My parents are in Bar Harbor for a couple days but are coming to visit Monkey and I tomorrow (and spending the night before heading back north). Little does my Dad know, I'm sending him outdoors to entertain Monkey so Mom can help me sew my first Halloween costume for my daughter. I look forward to carrying on the traditions my parents made for us as I look back on my childhood fondly.

Besides, I need to enjoy the childhood years before they turn into teenage terror years....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The verdict is in.

After 13 hours in the dehydrator, the banana chips are done. Monkey has already taste tested and they pass with flying colors. ;-)

T & I both find that you can taste the lemon juice, but it isn't an unpleasant flavor addition. The juice actually made a thin crispy crust on the outside (the banana itself isn't crispy, but I sliced them so thin that you don't notice).

Speaking of slicing - the mandolin was useless. They were a little too ripe so they just kept mushing up while I attempted to run them through. I put it aside after 1 banana and sliced the rest with a knife.

I may attempt apples today. If not, I'm going to do them this weekend, for sure. I can't get away from making tomato sauce today, though.

We also tried a new wine last night. I'm not much of a wine drinker (give me a cold beer any day!) but I have to admit I really enjoyed this one. It was a Gewurztraminer. At $10 a bottle, it is also affordable. See more about this wine at WannaBeWino.com.

And with that, I must be off. My teething child wanted to snuggle most of yesterday so I didn't get all of my housework done, as I had been planning. Who was I to say no to snuggles? At least she seems back to herself today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I just need to share the exciting news.

We've been going through Teething Hell for the past month. Monkey has only had 2 teeth since around Christmas. She popped #3 & #4 this morning. Teeth #5 & #6 look like they are also right there and ready to come through any time now.

At least now I understand why Monkey has been in such a bad mood this morning. Poor girl.

The end is in sight! Hopefully we'll get a little break before the next round.

The Banana Experiment

Well, I've done it.

While T was entertaining Monkey by sharing his breakfast, I quickly peeled and sliced my bunch of bananas.

I did a little reading up thanks to Google last night. My findings were that in order to get crispy banana chips, I would need to fry the slices in coconut oil (which is what you're getting when you buy them in the grocery store). Doesn't that defeat the purpose of eating banana chips? That's not exactly healthy.

I also found that in order to keep the color, I would need to soak my slices in an acid (I used lemon juice because we have 2 huge bottles of it in the house). This is supposed to do nothing to the flavor.

After soaking for a couple of minutes, it was time to load my dehydrator. I'm very glad I didn't decide to attempt apple chips at the same time as my dehydrator is full with just my small bunch of bananas!

We'll be checking on our bananas periodically today, but they'll need to go for 12-16 hours, according to what I read last night.

As my house is now filled with the smell of warm bananas (smells like banana bread - yummy), Monkey and I are setting about the task of cleaning house. All of our food preservation projects have pushed house work aside on the list of things to do... and it shows. The bathroom needs cleaning, the carpets need vacuuming, the laundry needs doing (and it's a perfect day for hanging it out!) and the floors need washing.

So, with that, we're off to get things clean. Starting with the currently poopy fanny I can smell standing in front of me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lunch time ramblings

As I sit here on my lunch "break" (I eat at my desk and usually work through lunch), I realize I have a problem.

I'm looking back at my posts and come to realize that they are all about food.

Now I know where these hips come from (HA!).

My weight has been on my mind a bit for the past few months. Before I got pregnant, I lost 10 pounds. It was wonderful. I only gained 23 pounds while pregnant and, thanks to breast feeding, it all melted off within 6 months. And then I lost another 15 pounds.

As we talk about a time line for baby #2, I worry (and how can we not talk about a time line?Everyone is constantly saying "It's time for another" or asking "When can we expect another baby?). Will I gain 60 pounds next time? Will I be able to take it off next time? I'm nearing my 30th birthday. It's harder to lose weight after you hit 30, or so I'm told. Am I just going to put it all back on (plus some)?

It's a stupid thing to worry about, I know. For the first time in my adult life I'm at a place where I'm comfortable with myself and how I look. So it makes me worry. And then, obviously, I feel stupid and selfish because there are bigger things to worry about.

Will the next baby be healthy too? Can I handle 2 kids on my own with minimal help with our families 4 hours away? Can we afford another mouth to feed and bottom to diaper? Am I really ready for more sleepless nights (Monkey still doesn't sleep through the night!)? How will Monkey feel sharing the spotlight? Can I possibly love another child as much as I love her - and love them equally?

My mind tends to run away from me sometimes. And runs a vicious circle. And I wonder why I've been having trouble sleeping lately (that plus the myriad of medical issues our families are dealing with at the moment, I'm sure).

For the time being, I really should just stick to worrying about getting all of our garden harvested.

And for those of you that are wondering and asking about baby #2 - for the record: No, I'm not pregnant.


I have a disease. It's called "can't put down a book once I've started until it's finished." So yesterday afternoon consisted of an hour of Monkey & I reading books, which means I did not make bread. (The book was nothing to suggest. An adventure romance novel to just dull my mind for a few hours... haha).

I also did not make apple crisps. T hadn't brought up the dehydrator for me. And to be perfectly honest, yes, I could have gone downstairs to get it myself... but there was absolutely no space on my counters for me to put it anyways.

I found a huge bunch of "overripe" bananas for 29 cents a pound I snatched those right up to try making banana chips. I say "overripe" because they were really just past their prime and not anywhere near ripened enough to turn into bread. The dehydrator will be put to use tonight after work or first thing tomorrow morning. I'll be extremely upset with myself if it doesn't.

I processed all of the tomatoes we had in the house already. But T & Monkey went to pick more last night and my counter is once again full of tomatoes. I did manage to at least get them all clean but I'll need to go pick herbs before I'm ready to make more sauce. I'm going to need to buy more parsley, though. T ran a little experiment with parsley this year. He planted a small section with new seeds and a small section with leftover seeds from last year. So we didn't get much parsley (last years seed didn't grow). Needless to say, I was a little annoyed at his choice of produce to experiment with. Next year, double the basil and parsley and skip the cilantro (I don't cook with cilantro so it was really wasted space in the garden).

I made something different for dinner last night. Remember all that summer squash we had? Well, one produce drawer in our refrigerator is still full of it. So I made a variation to the squash and tomato pasta I posted about a couple weeks ago. I sliced the squash this time. I also added thin slices of sweet italian pepper and chunks of sweet italian sausage. Instead of canned diced tomato, I diced up a HUGE beef steak (why use canned when I've got so many fresh, right?). It was a lot better than my first attempt. T actually raved over dinner. I know I did something right when he actually says something about my cooking.

And on that note, it's time to finish getting ready for work so I can hit the road and start my 11 hour day. Have I mentioned how much I loathe Tuesday?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Busy weekend

A full day of work, pumpkin picking, processing 3 dozen ears of corn, 2 batches of tomato sauce and a zucchini bread that was far more work than it was worth later, we have now reached Monday.

I spent the morning at the office. The afternoon will be spent making 2 more batches of tomato sauce and apple chips. I also want to make some bread (regular bread - not zucchini or pumpkin or banana or anything of the sort - just plain old wheat bread).

I can't believe I'm about to say this.

I'm almost ready for winter. At least the garden and all of the fall work that comes along with it will be done.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Making pizza on the fire

Pizza is one of our favorite foods. What's not to love? Yummy veggies, crispy crust, warm sauce and ooey gooey melted cheese.

I grew up in a town where there is no such thing as take-out. Don't even think about delivery! So we made our own pizza. Back when we didn't know any better, my mom would use those Chef Boyardee kits. Then she moved on to Robin Hood dried dough packets. I think she still uses them. When I moved out on my own, I moved to the big city (Bangor). I've got take-out and delivery now! Yet I felt unsatisfied with my pizza.

So, I started making it on my own again. I started off with Mom's way, but one day I stumbled on prepackaged dough balls (Portland Pie Company wheat dough is my absolute favorite) in my grocery store deli case. This dough was so much easier to work with and I was able to even master tossing dough (albeit, sloppily). Soon later, we invested in a pizza stone (thanks again to Alton Brown - he really doesn't lead us in the wrong direction) and we've never turned back.

Friday night is pizza night in our house. There's nothing as satisfying as a hot slice of pizza and a cold beer at the end of the week. Now that we live out of town, delivery is once again not an option. That is fine by me. When we're pressed for time, we will order take-out from one of the 3 gas stations that make pizza near us, but I still make our pizza 99% of the time.

T came home one day with the idea that we need to grill pizza. It was an extremely hot summer day so I was more than willing to attempt grilling. If it meant not turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen from 100 degrees to 110 degrees, why wouldn't I try it? I have yet to brave putting my dough directly on the grates (though I read in the Playboy Advisor a few months ago that you can). I just can't get the thought of failure out of my head - because failure means I need to clean dough from the grill grates. That doesn't sound like fun to me. So we use Boboli pizza crusts. Top as you normally would and then put it on your preheated grill. Be sure the flame directly underneath your pizza is turned off. The other burner[s] should be on low/med-low. I usually rotate the pizza quarter turns every 15 minutes (yes, that means it's on the grill for an hour).

On our first wedding anniversary, we stayed at my in-law's camp on the lake (the start of our annual Labor Day weekend trip). It was a pretty hot weekend so I wanted to avoid using the oven and I didn't have what I needed (Boboli crust) to grill pizza. So we decided to make it on the fire. Before the purchase of our pizza stone, I would use a cast iron frying pan to bake my pizza in (great for those of you that love deep dish pizza). My father-in-law has a huge one he uses to cook on the fire, so we pulled it out and gave it a whirl. Make sure your fire is burned down to coals (T gets to play in the fire all day to get a good batch of coals). We burned our crust that first year, but we have now perfected the art. It requires constant attention but it is well worth the trouble.

Now that I'm only working part-time, I am supposed to have more time in the kitchen (or so you would think). I'm no gourmet chef, that's for sure. But I really do try. I'm constantly on the look out for new recipes to try, healthier options for my family and ways to cut costs (I DO only work part-time, after all). So when T's cousin mentioned she makes her crust from scratch, we asked her for the recipe (I haven't received a yay or nay to my request to share the recipe yet, so I'm going to withhold it for the time being - not everyone checks e-mail hourly like fanatical Jodi).

I tried this recipe for the first time last night. It was a little too salty for our taste, but that is a super easy fix (cut back a bit on the salt next time - duh). Otherwise, we loved the flavor. I did find it really difficult to work with, though. I've long since left the days of spreading dough behind me but tossing was really not an option. It was too wet and doughy (less water and more flour?). I'm fairly certain I can adjust it for my needs (I'm needy and I know it).

And now that we're all craving pizza, I'm going to snag the last piece out of the fridge.

Friday, September 5, 2008


We have 27 tomato plants in our little garden.

No joke.

There are 6 different tomato varieties (I thought we had 9 but can't remember the other 3 for the life of me.. will verify with T later). We have your regular beef steak and cherry tomatoes. T wanted to try amish paste because he's heard they are good (they are). And then he went a little crazy.

Again, no joke.

I seriously thought I was going to have to commit him this spring. I have never seen another person get so horny (for lack of a better term) over tomatoes! I honestly didn't know what to make of it.

So we ended up with a red zebra, golden girl and yellow pear as well. He was searching and searching for other seedlings at the nursery (Everlasting Farm) just because the names sounded cool, but we were there just too late in the planting season and they were all gone by then.

Speaking of Everlasting Farm, they were a new find for us this year. We both absolutely loved it. They have a fantastic selection of plants (ornamental and edible). I drooled over the landscaping.

But I digress. I'm talking about tomatoes today!

Today, I finally had the opportunity to make my first batch of tomato sauce for the year. We use a recipe we found in Martha Stewart Magazine last year. We just happened upon it about the time we needed to start preserving our tomatoes. Martha's Simple Tomato Sauce recipe is simply wonderful. It's very easy to make and is extremely delicious. It's suggested in the recipe to add your choice of meats, vegetables or herbs after taking it out of the freezer for use. We decided to add the herbs during the cooking process, while they're fresh. I was very generous with the basil and parsley. I also added a bit of oregano. It is also suggested to run it through a food mill for a smoother sauce. We just use our immersion blender a bit in the finished product and that works just fine for us.

Getting the sauce started

My favorite way to use this sauce is in a veggie lasagna. I saute chopped mushrooms and green peppers before mixing into my sauce and layering my lasagna. We tried it tonight on pizza, too. No more jarred pizza sauce for us (I have no excuse for using jarred, anyways)!

All done! Yummy!!

My next project with the tomatoes is to dehydrate some of them. I'm thinking of dehydrating the golden girls because we weren't overly crazy about the texture of them. I'm also going to dehydrate some of the cherry and yellow pear tomatoes. I've never dehydrated tomatoes, so this will be yet another experiment in our household.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Change in plans

I will try to get back to my regular posting later today. I just have time for snippets right now.

We weren't able to go pick pumpkins on Tuesday like we were planning. We'll be going on Saturday instead.

We did go pick some apples last night, but they aren't 100% peaked yet.

Monkey and I are picking tomatoes this morning. I'll be attempting a tomato sauce with her (she's not quite ready to help over a hot stove - and she doesn't enjoy when I'm working in the kitchen instead of playing with her).

My father in law is in surgery this morning to repair 2 herniated disks. Good thoughts for him are appreciated as we can tell he's not looking forward to the recovery (he had this happen about 9 years ago as well, so he knows what he's in for this time).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Recap:

Just a few highlights from our weekend at camp.

Friday, T & I left Monkey with his mom (I owed her a nice visit because she didn't see her at all when we were up 2 weeks ago). The 2 of us drove to Edmunston, New Brunswick to visit the beer and wine store, Boutique J'Embouteille. The owner is a lovely woman and you can tell she truly loves what she does. She's extremely helpful and answers any questions you may have. It was our second time there but not nearly our last. Their website isn't that great but I really do like the store.

The weather Saturday was so-so. It was overcast, but the temperature wasn't too bad. Monkey still isn't up for long jaunts in the canoe, so our options were limited. We ended up going to climb Hedgehog Mountain. We were stupid and forgot to bring the backpack carrier with us so T carried Monkey to the top. The entire round trip from the parking lot and back took about an hour. A couple on their way down told us it was foggy and you couldn't see much from the top. We were able to see more than expected. If it had been a clear day, we would have been able to see Mount Katahdin.

Hedgehog Mountain used to have a fire tower on it. You can still see the supports in the rock where it once stood. Down when you first get on the trail stand the 2 ranger camps (pictured below). The road has since grown in and the camps are falling to ruin.
We spent Sunday walking loops in the neighborhood. It was chilly and we had showers so we couldn't meander too far on foot. The evening ended up being pretty nice so we took a ride in canoe before dark. Someone set off fireworks but Monkey and I were both asleep by then. T said they were the nicest he's seen this summer (though that isn't say much as we've only seen fireworks twice all summer).

The entire time we were at camp, a family of loons came around. They must live in our cove. We even saw the juvenile being fed. I think they had radar for when we were eating because we ate most of our meals out on the porch overlooking the lake. We'd sit down and here they'd come. Monkey loved watching them!

We drove home on Monday. We got home around 2 giving us time to harvest tomatoes, touch up paint on the decks, T to transfer his wine to a carboy and the regular household chores that come with being gone for a few days (tons of laundry, anyone?).

That is how we spent our anniversary weekend. Today is our 3rd anniversary. Time sure does fly when you're having fun!

After I get home from work tonight, we're going pumpkin picking!
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