Wednesday, March 31

Spring Is Sprouting!

My little seedlings are coming along quite nicely. After a conversation with our contractor, I may have to end up giving many of them away if our yard isn't regraded by planting time. I'm not giving up yet, though.

Monday, March 29

Motivation Monday - 10

Week 10

Circuit One - complete two sets of each before continuing to Circuit Two
Crunch - 20
Reverse curl - 20
Powerup - 20

Circuit Two - three sets of each
Pushup - 15
Single-leg squat - 12 each side
Row - 20
Glute bridge - 20
Lateral raise - 15
Alternating lunge - 12 each side

Thursday, March 25

Steak au Poivre

I made this delicious dish last night. It was so easy to make and gave a lot more flavor to the steak than I anticipated.

Steak au Poivre

Yield: 4 servings (I halved the recipe and it fed all five of us but I do the half-the-plate-should-be-veggies thing. I would definitely allow more per person if we were having company.)

3 T cracked pepper
4 8-oz rib-eye steaks
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (I only had a regular onion.)
1/4 c Cognac (I didn't have that either, so I use vermouth.)
1/4 c whipping cream
1 T butter

Press cracked pepper onto both sides of each steak; cover and chill one hour. Heat 2 T butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steaks 3 minutes each side or until browned. Remove steaks from skillet; cover and keep warm.
Sauté shallot in skillet over medium heat until tender. Wipe out excess oil from skillet. Pour Cognac into skillet and ignite using a long match.*
After flames die, stir in whipping cream. Simmer until thickened (4-5 minutes.) Add 1 T butter and swirl to blend. Serve over steaks.

*I did not light the alcohol. I was a little scared of it and my hair was down. I wanted C to come home to a hot meal not a flaming house and a bald wife. If he's here next time, I'll definitely try it.

Source: The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

Wednesday, March 24

CSA Delivery #9

I don't have a photo this time. We picked up our share Sunday but had to put it right away as we had company coming. It wouldn't look much different from any of the other photos anyway. 

We received chicken - broilers and breasts, beef - summer sausage and a whopping 5 lb brisket, pork - chops and ham steaks, eggs, sourdough bread, brownies, whole wheat bread, corn meal, egg noodles, apple butter, apple jelly, blueberry jelly, green beans, corn, saurkraut, sorghum, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice. 

We only have one Winter Season delivery left. We'll have a break for a few weeks before the Summer Season starts. I know it will be a challenge to make sure we use it all but I can't wait for weekly fresh veggies!

If you're interested in joining a CSA, you can check out the one we use or find one that suits your needs at

Finally, I just have to show you our CSA bacon. It is crazy big - eight slices to a pound! The taste is incredible (and I'm not a bacon fan) and the grease is the clearest I've ever seen. Regrettably, I didn't save it from the first package I cooked. 

Tuesday, March 23

Hillbilly Teeth

Last week, I found the cutest kids' snack idea here. Today was our turn to take snack for T's Girl Scout meeting so I made these. The girls loved them!

Wish I had a better photo. I was a bit sloppy with the peanut butter as twelve girls were clamoring for more all at once. :)

Monday, March 22

Motivation Monday - 9

Week 9

Jump rope for 45 seconds. Rest for 15. Repeat five times.
15 pushups
30 slow crunches
15 squats
30 alternating lunges
Rest one minute and go back to the start. 

Repeat a total of 3x.

Saturday, March 20

Spring Break

I'll be back to my normal blogging rhythm next week when school starts back. It's been a productive but relaxing week.

What I've been doing (instead of blogging):

  • Cleaning everything out of the basement to get it ready for construction. Almost done!

  • Playing games with the kids. I'm not always good at seizing the moment so I've made it a point to stop being 'busy' and sit down with them every day.  

  • Lots of baking and cooking. 

  • Dumping warm laundry on my kids on the cool mornings we've had. This is one of our favorite little habits. I love that they love this so much. If I call from the basement, "Everybody on the couch", they know what it means and go running. Any other time they would insist that there isn't enough room on the couch for three people.
  • Sewing these little blankets and napkins.

Tuesday, March 16

I Haven't Disappeared...

It's my kids' spring break and there are so many card games to be played. :)

Plus, things are getting quite busy with the upcoming house renovations. I'm learning that every time I step outside to meet with the supervisor and subs, at least two hours somehow passes before I come back in. Not that I mind, of course. I'm learning  a lot about drainage, excavation and moving dirt around in general. It will be fun to post before and after pictures! 

I will do my best to write a 'real' post tomorrow. 

(Thanks to Tabatha for keeping me honest here. It's nice to be missed!) :)

Thursday, March 11

Check Out My Mad Sewing Skills

I'm totally kidding. I have no skills but I sew on anyway.

My grandmother used to make these little covers. I was reminded of them when I visited my parents recently.

Sadly, this is probably the coolest thing I'll ever make...

Wednesday, March 10

CSA Delivery #8

Only two more deliveries in the winter season! It has been a great experience for us but I'm ready for fresh food that will be used quickly. It'll be nice to have a break from the storing and rotating so many things.

This week, there are some new things in the mix...

Chicken breasts, ground beef, chuck roasts, pork roasts, bacon, pork blade steaks, whole wheat and rye breads, cupcakes, fettucini, cornmeal, popping corn, chow chow, green beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato juice, muscadine jelly, saurkraut and sorghum.

And if my vegetarian tendencies aren't clear enough, witness the chaos that is my freezer. Front to back it's nearly all meat -- in fact, the only things in there that aren't are some leftover veggies for soup and 7 pints of chicken stock (in the door). I can't even use my ice maker right now.

I've got to get busy using some of this. Of course, what I'd love to do is some freezer cooking but that's nothing short of a punch line at this point. Can't wait for my post-renovations deep freezer purchase!

Clearly, we won't need the 'family portion' of meat from the CSA next year. I was worried that the regular portion wouldn't be enough for five but that's obviously not the case.

Tuesday, March 9

Garden 2010

Because of our renovations, I had planned to not expand our garden this year. For this reason, I had decided to purchase plants as opposed to starting seeds since I wouldn't be growing a lot of any one thing.

However, now that I've talked to the excavator about extensive regrading, I'm realizing that I'm going to have SO much loosened soil that would be SO easy to add amendments to! I feel dizzy at the thought of how much work that would save me.

Plus, I see Carrie's happy little seeds sprouting and I want to do something now!

I have lots of seeds from last year (which lowers this year's costs - yay!) so I started some today. I'm a little anxious about the work I'm setting myself up for but I know it will be a stress reliever to be out in the garden. Plus, the kids will want to help so I may even give them each their own plot to tend.

I'm unsure but forging ahead!!

Monday, March 8

Here We Go..

I'm taking a break from posting workouts on Mondays. If anyone misses them, please speak up! :)

Today, I met with our contractor and several subs. This house renovation thing is becoming more real. I am ready!

Here's what we have planned:

  • Finishing our basement to add an additional bath, two more bedrooms and a kids 'hang out' space
  • A two-level addition. The upper level will be a great room and a dining room. The lower level will be a new laundry room, a workshop and, most exciting to me, a below-ground cold storage room! This will be home to root vegetables, my home canned goods and, at long last, a deep freezer.
  • Enlarged decking for entertaining space
  • Regrading of our yard
  • Clearing trees for additional parking as well as for more sunlight for vegetable gardening. Dare I hope that a chicken coop is in my future?! :) 
I am both excited and scared. We do need the extra space and look forward to hosting larger groups in our home but spending this kind of money is frightening, especially in times like these. Maybe it will give a few more men a bit more job security. That's what I choose to believe anyway...

Friday, March 5

Beef Barley Stew

I made this yummy stew yesterday and served it with slices of buttered Amish garlic bread. This would be great to feed a crowd. It uses beef chuck which is an economical cut and is very hearty, so much so that I couldn't finish mine. 

Beef Barley Soup
1 1/2 lbs. beef chuck steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, diced
5 celery ribs, sliced
6 carrots, sliced
1 qt tomato juice
2 qt stewed tomatoes
1 c pearled barley
2 bay leaves
(NOTE: I'm generally heavy-handed when adding seasonings and don't measure them. The following amounts are approximate but adjusted down for those with milder tastes than ours.)
1 T dried basil 
1 t sugar
1 t pepper
1 t sea salt
2 t garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and simmer for 4 hours on HIGH or 8-10 on LOW. Remove bay leaves before serving.

I also made homemade tomato sauce for tonight's spaghetti which I have been craving for the longest time. :) I have a new appreciation for the canned tomatoes I've been receiving from the CSA all winter. I can't imagine how many plants they must tend to! Three quarts of stewed tomatoes cooked down to just over a quart of sauce. I'll definitely be canning my own this summer. :)

Happy weekend! 

Wednesday, March 3

Julie On The Road

My running buddy extraordinaire, Julie, has started blogging! (It's always fun to introduce someone new to the blogosphere!) She will be heading to Australia next week to sing for our troops. You can follow her adventures on this trip (and beyond) on her blog.

Check it out!

Monday, March 1

Motivation Monday - 8

Week 8

Four sets, sixty seconds rest between.

Pushup - 15 
Single-arm row - 25, fast tempo
Downdog shoulder press - 15
Dip - 20, slow tempo 
Single-arm row - same count, other side
Lateral raise - 12, slow

Find exercise descriptions here.