Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wacko for Flacco!

On Sunday I went to my first ever minor league baseball game and guess who just happened to be there, Joe Flacco, the quarter back for the Baltimore Ravens. It was quite exciting. Apparently his brother, Michael, plays for the Aberdeen Ironbirds. A crowd soon formed around him in the stands, not too far from where I was sitting. Police had to come and escort him away to a different part of the stadium where he wouldn't be pestered by fans.

It's sad that he can't even watch his brother play baseball in peace. Although it's not like I was helping any seeing as I did make sure to get a picture of him.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Times Up!

My 31 days to accomplish my 31 things is now over. My final day was officially last Thursday. I definitely didn't get to everything, but I still feel as though I accomplished more than I would have without the list. The items in orange are the one's I didn't get to.

1.) Bake cookies.
2.) Complete a 4 mile run.
3.) Finish The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.
4.) Go for a walk in the woods.
5.) Finish knitting the sock that I started a while ago.
6.) Pick strawberries and make jam with Brittany @ Little Miss Scatterbrained, Amy @ Little Miss Moon Blossom, Genevieve @ Lil Miss Explorer and maybe even Kara @ Lil Miss Wisecracker.
7.) Finish planning my trip to Chile in August! I still have so much to do and the trip is coming up so fast!
8.) Can another batch of beans.
9.) Organize my disaster of a hall closet.
10.) Finish Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
11.) Wander around the library.
12.) Sit on a park bench.
13.) Harvest and eat beets from the garden.
14.) Extend the height of the garden fence.
15.) Do something with the extra bird cage that is just sitting in my apartment.

16.) Organize my recipe box.
17.) Finish the blanket I’ve been crocheting.
18.) Sew an apron.
19.) Log onto Second Life to hang out with Lantern and Brocair (my uncle and grandmother). 20.) Finish reading Pushed by Jennifer Block.
21.) Talk to my friend Jody about bee keeping.
22.) Pick up horse poo for the garden.
23.) Make fried lentil balls.
24.) Clean my refrigerator.
25.) Participate in Chinese Thursday at work (we all order Chinese food together).
26.) Throw a disc (Frisbee) around.
27.) Stake, cage and/or trellis tomato plants.
28.) Give myself a pedicure.
29.) Modify some giant t-shirts that I have so I can actually wear them.
30.) Go to JoAnn fabrics.
31.) Sell some stuff at a flea market or yard sale.

I guess 15 of 31 isn't too bad, that's almost half. I am surprised that I didn't get around to sitting on a park bench, I thought that was going to be an easy one. However, I'm not too surprised that I didn't do any of the one's involving cleaning and organizing.

There are a few things that I didn't officially complete, but I still wanted to mention. Although I didn't finish it, I did make a good amount of progress in crocheting my blanket. I also threw a disc around at a wedding with some friends this past weekend, but it was after my 31 days so it doesn't count. Lastly, although I didn't talk to her myself, my parents saw our friend Jody the beekeeper this past weekend and they talked to her about bees since they knew that I've been interested. She said that she could set us up with some bees early next spring. Now I really have to follow up with her and get more information. I'm super excited that next year I could very well be a beekeeper myself!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Poo!!

I'm proud to share that I have been shampoo free for over a month now thanks to Brittany at Little Miss Scatterbrained. Check out her post on going Poo Free to learn more. In a nut shell, I decided to stop using shampoo because I heard that it's pretty harsh on your hair and strips away all of those nice healthy oils. Now to remove some of the excess oils from my hair, I just rub a little bit of baking soda into my scalp. I rinse that out and then I rinse with apple cider vinegar diluted with water.

For about the first 2 weeks my hair was uber gross and oily because my head was in over-production mode since it's used to having to keep up with me constantly stripping away all of the oils with shampoo. But after about 2 weeks my head figured things out, stopped producing so much oil and things got a lot less gross. Now I can actually go a few days without washing my hair and it doesn't get greasy.

All in all, I'm loving that I don't have to buy shampoo ever again. In addition to saving me a few bucks, it's better for my hair and I'm not exposing myself or the environment to all of the chemicals and other additives in shampoo. Plus, if you think about all the energy that goes into making the shampoo, packaging it, transporting it and then storing it on a shelf in a building with air conditioning/heating and lights it's really saving a lot of resources to skip the shampoo. In comparison, baking soda is cheap, I don't have to use much at all on my hair and since I buy a giant box that I use for all sorts of things like cleaning, it lasts a really long time and there isn't much packaging.

If you're interested I think you should totally give it a try. Just stay in there past the 2 week gross part- it gets much better.

Monday: 2.1 miles
Today: 4 miles!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Making Some Progress

I only have 3 more days to finish my 31 in 31 Days list! I have a feeling I'm not going to reach my goal, however, I have accomplished a few things so far:

1.) Bake cookies.

I made raspberry jelly thumbprint cookies. Yum.

5.) Finish knitting the sock that I started a while ago.

6.) Pick strawberries and make jam with Brittany @ Little Miss Scatterbrained, Amy @ Little Miss Moon Blossom, and Kara @ Lil Miss Wisecracker.

First we picked some perdy strawberries at Highland Orchards.

Then we made some delicious jam.

It a very enjoyable day!

10.) Finish Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.

Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome book. I loved all of the birth stories and the way Ina May describes birth and the things that influence it.

11.) Wander around the library.

13.) Harvest and eat beets from the garden.


20.) Finish reading Pushed by Jennifer Block.

This was another totally awesome book. It's packed full of tons and tons of information about the short comings of our modern maternity care. Everyone really needs to read this book.

23.) Make fried lentil balls.

I'd show pictures of the actual finished product but they really didn't turn out that well. Let's just say I need some practice. Interesting process though. My friend gave me this mix so it really wasn't too hard. You first add water to your mix (pictured above) and let it sit for 15 minutes. Drop spoonfuls of it into hot oil and cook until done. Place in a bowl of lukewarm water. After about 10 minutes take the lentil ball out and squeeze out the water. They are then eaten with some yogurt and topped with some cumin and salt. It was definitely interesting and not too bad. But again, I need practice and I'm not even completely sure exactly how they are supposed to turn out!

25.) Participate in Chinese Thursday at work (we all order Chinese food together).

I ordered chicken w/ string beans and fried rice. It was delicious.

27.) Stake, cage and/or trellis tomato plants.

Needless to say I've got a lot of work ahead of me if I want to even get close to finishing my list in the next 3 days!

Running Update

Recently I've been forgetting to add my running mileage to the bottom of my posts so I figure it's probably a good idea to record them now before I completely forget.

Friday 6/11- 2 miles
Saturday 6/12- 2.8 miles
Wednesday 6/16- 2 miles
Sunday 6/20- 3 miles

I haven't been keeping to a schedule or anything so I've been running fairly sporadically, which probably isn't the best thing for improving. I'm just not exactly sure how to change that. Sometimes it's hard to make running a priority when there are so many other things to do and then when I do have time for a run I tend to get lazy. Also, now that it's so hot out in the afternoon I've been doing more of my runs in the morning, but that makes it so easy for me to just roll over in bed and sleep for an extra hour instead of getting up. I should probably plan my runs, however making a plan and sticking to it are two different things. I don't think running on set days of the week would work for me. Maybe I just need to sit once week and plan out my runs for the next few days. Then I can work around things that are going on and make sure to fit in more runs. I may also be less inclined to be lazy if I've got it written down somewhere.

Any other ideas for getting in more runs and getting my butt out of bed in the mornings when I need to run?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ranch Dressing

With both the garden and the CSA program, we've been bombarded with lettuce. And with lettuce comes salads and with salads comes salad dressing. Needless to say we've gone through a ton of dressing. Just the other day we completely ran out. I really didn't feel like going out and buying more so I decided to make some. I first mixed some sour cream with mayonnaise in about a 1:2 ratio. Then I chopped up a bunch of parsley and a bit of dill from my garden along with some garlic scrapes from the CSA.

I mixed that into my mayo mixture. Added a little salt to taste and stirred in some milk to make the whole thing a bit more pourable.

After it was all mixed up I put it in a handy left-over mayo bottle I had lying around because I'm cool like that.

The whole process didn't take more than a few minutes and boy was the final produce tasty. This batch was a bit dilly, but tasty nonetheless. The cool thing about this is that you can make it however you like with whatever you have lying around. You could throw in some onions, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, chives and I'm sure tons of other things to mix things up. The possibilities are endless! I'm totally excited about experimenting with dressings now. Bring on the lettuce!

Monday, June 14, 2010


One of the things that I absolutely love about being in a CSA program, is being introduced to new foods. This past week we got kohlrabi in our boxes- I had never even heard of that vegetable before. But isn't it pretty! I love the colors and its just so weird looking.

The other thing I love about this CSA program is that they tell us what to do with weird stuff like this. Apparently since these are still young and tender we can just cut up the root part and throw it in a salad, which I did and it was very yummy. It's almost like a cross between a turnip and a potato. I hear you can also cook and eat the leaves.

Have any of you ever encountered this strange vegetable before?

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I finally got around to making some of the popcorn that I got at the bulk foods store. This was the first time that I've ever made popcorn that doesn't involve using a microwave although I have seen my mom make it this way. My husband helped me and since we both didn't really know what we were doing, it was pretty exciting. We put some vegetable oil into the pot and then threw in a small handful of popcorn kernels. We didn't know how much it'd make so we decided not to put in too much. You can imagine our surprise when we took off the lid and the pot was completely full. After we had everything in the pot we put the lid on and turned up the heat. Every few minutes I'd shake the pot to stir it around. We both jumped when the first kernel popped. After all of the popping sounds stopped we removed it from the heat. I sprinkled a little salt on top and it was done. All in all it probably took well under 10 minutes to make this whole pot of popcorn.

The popcorn was delicious, even my husband who really doesn't like popcorn loved this stuff. I'm going to have to make this more often. Not only is it delicious even without adding any butte, but it doesn't have all of the weird unknown substances that microwave popcorn does. It's also pretty cost effective. I got a 3 pound bag of kernels for under $2 and we hardly used any of it for this big batch. I'm hooked.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Never Knew That Logs Could Be So Cool

At Calvert's Gift Farm, where I pick up my CSA shares, they have tons logs propped up and stacked all over the place. Can you guess what they are used for?

They have lots of holes drilled into them and a little bit of wax covering the holes.

They have tons of them just hanging out.

Just a hint, it's not for fire wood.

I would have never guessed this myself.

Give up?

They actually use these logs to grow Shiitake mushrooms!!! How cool this that!! I would have never thought to do that with a bunch of logs.

A few weeks ago when we went for our first CSA pick-up, my mom asked about these logs and got to take home some extra Shiitake mushrooms. The farmer explained to us that they drill holes in the logs, put in mushrooms spores then seal them with wax. After letting them sit for an entire year, they soak the logs in a barrel of water (you can see one of the barrels in the top picture). Mushrooms then grow out of the holes. Pretty sweet, huh? He also told us that these mushrooms taste much better than store bought (something I can attest to) because the ones you get from the store are typically grown on sawdust, which does not sound too appealing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Harvest

Today I picked a bunch of stuff from the garden.

I got some giant chard. This bowl is actually quite large, although it's a bit hard to tell in the picture.

I got a large mound of lettuce.

More radishes. These were some of the biggest ones I've gotten from the garden so far. Do you see the double radish on the right? I didn't know they grow like that.

And beets! I love me some beets so I'm excited to cook these up. Did you know you can also eat the beet greens? They are quite tasty.

Freezing Strawberries

Freezing strawberries is a great way to lock in their great taste and nutrients for weeks or even months after they've been picked. When freezing strawberries, I first wash them and remove the stem. Then I spread them on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer for a few hours. Freezing them this way reduces the amount that they will stick together later.

After the strawberries have been in the freezer for a little while they can be put in plastic bags or containers then placed back into the freezer until they are used.

After picking, 50+ pounds of strawberries I had a lot to freeze. But it's ok because frozen strawberries are marvelous in smoothies. Speaking of smoothies, check out these babies:

Just frozen strawberries, yogurt and sugar. Mmmmm.... delicious.

Running this morning: 2.6 miles

Monday, June 7, 2010

Natural Bug Repellent

One of my goals for this year has been to keep my garden chemical free, however that doesn't mean the bugs will leave my plants alone. Therefore as an added defense for my vegetables I occasionally whip up this quick natural bug repellent to spray on my plants. It's made from inexpensive ingredients that can be found in most kitchens. All I use is a small onion, some garlic and a few drops of dish soap.

I quarter the onion and smash the garlic cloves. I place it all in a pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer for an additional 20 minutes. After letting it cool a bit, I strain the liquid to get out all of the onion and garlic chunks.

I pour my mixture into a spray bottle and then add a few drops of dish soap. This can be sprayed directly on the plants without hurting them. The rain will rinse the repellent off of the plants so it does need to be applied fairly often.

I've been using this a bit to try and deter the slugs from eating my veggies, and it does work pretty well as long as I remember to apply it fairly frequently. The beer traps have been helping too. However, I'm finding that the most effective way to eliminate slugs from the garden is to pick them off by hand. I know it's gross, but it works. The best time to do it is after it rains or right before it gets dark when the slugs are starting to come out. Here is a batch of slugs that I collected just the other day.

I seriously don't know why there are this many slugs in my garden, and the scary thing is more keep coming. Hopefully one day I'll get ahead of them.

By the way, I apologize for the yucky slug picture, I just can't help it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Morning Run

It's been over a week since my last run. I keep letting the afternoon heat as well as excuses like being busy get in the way. But this morning was different; I finally went for a run. It's actually the first time I've run in the morning before work, and I'm a bit surprised I ended up doing it at all. As I was setting my alarm last night I told my husband that I probably wouldn't run. Then as my alarm went off this morning I pushed snooze, rolled over, and told my husband again that I wasn't going. But a few minutes later I somehow ended up rolling out of bed and putting on my running clothes grumbling the whole time.

Once I got outside things were pretty pleasant though. There was hardly anyone else around, birds were chirping and I saw about a million bunnies. The best thing by far, however, was how cool the air felt. Typically I've been doing my runs in the afternoon, but recently it has been getting pretty hot, which makes it much harder to run. This morning I definitely didn't have that problem. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I was dreading it would be and I managed to run 2 miles even though I've been lazy this past week. Unfortunately I think I might have to make these morning runs into more of a habit now that the hot weather has arrived.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Intro to Jam Making

Here's a brief overview of the steps involved in making strawberry jam.

1.) Wash the jars you'll be using and get them warmed up a bit. I like to fill them part of the way with warm water and then leave them in my sink until I need them.

2.) Fill the water bath canner with water until it's about 1/2 or 3/4 of the way full. You want enough water in there to cover your jars by an inch or two when they are lowered into the water. Turn on the heat so that the canner is boiling by the time your jars are ready.

3.) Wash your strawberries and remove the stem.

4.) Mash your strawberries in small batches. I put no more than a handful in a bowl at a time. A potato masher can be helpful.

5.) Continue mashing until you've measured out 4 cups of strawberries if using liquid pectin and 5 cups if used powdered.

6.) Place the mashed strawberries into the stockpot. Add about 1/2 a tsp of butter to keep down the foaming. If using liquid pectin, add your 7 cups of sugar here. If using powdered pectin, add it at this point and save the sugar for later. I was using liquid pectin here so the fruit and sugar are being mixed.

7.) Bring your mixture to a rolling boil.

8.) If using liquid pectin, add it now. If using powdered pectin, stir in 7 cups of sugar.

9.) Bring back to a boil then boil rapidly for exactly a minute.

10.) Remove from heat and skim off any foam that has developed on the top. You can save this foam and eat it with toast- it's very yummy but just doesn't look so pretty if there's lots in your jam.

11.) Ladle your hot jam mixture into your prepared jars using a funnel. There will be about 8 cups of liquid so you can fill either 4 pint jars or 8 half pint jars. I often end up with a little extra, so it's good to have an extra jar handy just in case.

12.) Wipe around the lip of the jar with a paper towel to remove any jam that may be there.

13.) Place lids onto the jars and attach your screw bands.

14.) Place your jars into the water bath canner and lower them into the water. There should be about an inch or two of water covering your jars.

15.) Bring the water in the water bath canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes.

16.) Remove the jars from the canner and set aside on a towel. Leave the jars here for 24 hours to let them cool and for the jam to set. If any of the jars don't seal within a few hours put them in the refrigerator. The jam is still edible, it just won't keep at room temperature.

17.) The next day remove the screw bands and wash your jars in warm soapy water.

18.) Store your jars in a cool dry place. They should be good for up to a year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So Much Jam

After hours and hours of work this weekend, we've got jam, lots of jam.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bulk Foods Store

This past weekend my mother-in-law took me to an awesome bulk foods store in Myerstown, PA. I definitely stocked up. Check out what I got:

20 lbs. whole wheat flour
12 lbs. oats
6 lbs. corn meal
wheat germ
wheat bran
sunflower seeds
caraway seeds
flax seeds
sesame seeds

And it only came out to about $30. I love bulk foods stores in PA. I just wish I lived closer to them.