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Showing posts from May, 2012

Quick & Dirty: Weed Identification (not THAT kind of weed!)

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See that? That would be Mr. Moon taking his blind date to the prom. Apparently. Anyway, when this plant started growing, we thought it was a thistle. It got so tall, growing there in the drainage flow of the compost pile, and we were so excited to see how big the thistle flower would be on a stalk that is 1.5 inches in diameter, and then suddenly--YELLOW!

[Get it? Blind date, because it was an unidentified plant and he's wearing a silly tuxedo shirt? Yeah, I find myself funny, it's ok, you don't have to laugh. As long as Mr. Moon does. It's required for him to laugh at my jokes.]

Our friend growing next to the compost pile was apparently not a thistle, so I took this picture and posted it on my Facebook soliciting advice. My mother-in-law (except not really because she's my sister-in-law's mom but whatevs) piped up right away to tell me it is apparently called Prickly Lettuce, but that it is in fact not edible. Also very invasive, so we needed to get those flow…

Update: Scallions are less never-ending than promised

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When I was a kid, I did a science experiment about growing plants. What I found is that you can take away dirt and light, but plants need water to survive. Simple, right? Not so much. 20 years later, my parents still have that hanging basket of ivy plants that we stuck together after the experiment was over. Even now, you can still tell which plants spent their time lacking soil, or light, or worse yet both. They are a little smaller, a little spindlier, a little yellower. The leaves are closer together on the one that was lacking both light and dirt.

After I posted about my scallions going slimy and shooting off their root bits, I was ruminating about that experiment. I owe a thank you to so many people for helping me learn as much about science as I have--and especially teaching me HOW to learn about science--but my mom is the one who stands out the most. We haven't always been on the same page, but she was awesome at helping to talk me through figuring out doing experiments wi…

Eats & Treats: Weekly Menu Plan

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Last week didn't get posted because by the time I remembered about it on Wednesday, we had already completely re-arranged everything and skipped a lot of stuff. This week is sort of a "back to basics" week, trying to get back on track with planning and execution.

As you may recall, lunches are sort of suggestions. Ironically I think I stuck to my lunch plan last week better than the dinner plans. In any event! 



* Fruit Salad:
I love this because it's a product of looking to see what's on sale and in-season this week, finding lots of produce that's great for salad, and taking advantage. Seasonal eating at its best. On top of that, making a little extra means we can use it for lunch sides the rest of the week.

* Brats:
Of course, who can resist a cook-out on Memorial Day? I was once at a Memorial Day celebration where a recently-returned soldier who had been serving in Iraq was asked how he felt about the holiday becoming synonymous with the first real cook-…

Finances for the Rest of Us

Once upon a time, I had no money skills. I spent all my time scraping by, and any time I seemed to get ahead it just got flushed down the toilet. Car repairs. Unexpected school supplies. Medical bills. Thieving roommates. You know the drill.

I started getting control of my finances while I was working on a $7,000/year income and still covering half of the bills with a $3,000 credit card debt that I was trying to pay off. The tipping point for me was seeing a snippet of Suze Orman's show talking about managing your money, and it got me looking for more information. I stumbled upon Get Rich Slowly.

Along the way, I've read a bunch of personal finance blogs. Books just never quite make sense to me, but blogs are typically written in a much more conversational tone, one where I can give instant feedback through comments--even if I don't, it's still a conversation to me. It helps me process the information better. But through the years I've noticed a lot of personal fi…

Update: Never-Ending Sacallions

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As you may recall, I've been growing scallions in a vase in my kitchen. A few times, I've had to take a couple minutes and clean out the vase, soaking the rocks in vinegar water, and pulling soggy outer layers of onions off the stalks. I could probably avoid doing this as often if I remembered to change the water more frequently...

Then one day I went to clean out the vase and found this:
A bunch of these little root structures looking like they'd broken off the bottom of the stalks, but when I sorted through, each stalk still had roots at the bottom! Though you may be able to see here, some stalks had brighter-white, new roots. Exactly as many had new roots as I had stalk-less root structures, in fact.

I have no idea what this means. But the experiment continues!

Dude, Get On That Already!: Kitchen Edition

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This is what our Nook looked like, upon us moving in. I'd like to say that Mr. Moon and I made a mess of it all moving in, but the truth is it looked worse than this before we cleaned it up and then made a mess again, and half of this isn't even ours.

Let's review what we're seeing here, shall we? To the left is a pile of boxes full of towels needing put away, and almost-unpictured is a stack of small appliances for the shelves that were built under the lip of the lunch counter. Behind the red curtain is a mess of canned goods needing sorting, though by the time we took this picture the dry goods had been put away in the sewing cupboard next to it. You can also see the drawers of Mum's yarn, tucked away back in the corner where she couldn't get to them because of the kitchen table that was just a catch-all for all manner of everything. We had brought in the recycling bins already, because the floor had been just a pile of recycling waiting to be picked up &qu…

Fixing a debacle

So... you know how we spent 6 hours on Tuesday cleaning the carpets? And you know how I said that water stain came right up? Yeah... I should have waited until it dried.

The edges of the stain are not as exact, but that would be because the entire carpet is brown now. Now so brown that you can even see it in pictures, I tried. Possibly not even so brown that the Old People eyes will even notice. But it's brown! Just like that plain water stain was!

My favorite part? The section that is worst is actually the one with plain water and vinegar, but the spots where I used soap are a bit better. Why is this my favorite part? Oh, that would be because when I called the professional carpet cleaning company to ask them why plain water turned my carpet brown, they said it's because I used soap in the carpet cleaner. Uhmm.... No. Plain water turned the carpet brown first, hence the needing to clean it to begin with.

After I had one person tell me that the only thing that touched the carp…

Cleaning with Nature / The Amazing Power of Vinegar: Carpets

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How did we spend a gorgeous, warm sunny day?

After dropping the 'Rents off at the airport (and eating breakfast, and crashing out for a nap while Mr Moon vacuumed), we discovered that this carpet cleaner the 'Rents bought three years ago and never even opened the shipping box? Oh yes, it's a steam mop. It only works on the top layer of carpet and only cleans as much as a small, dry microfiber mop head can collect. This is NOT a room-sized device, let alone one for getting the high traffic areas of three rooms. Though, possibly great for picking up spills and such, and I'm excited to use it in the kitchen.

So Mr Moon and I met up with my uncle who is in town for work for the day. I got to show off the pride of my accomplishment in the garden, he got a couple pictures and made all the right noises, oohing at my project, then we grabbed some lunch at the pub up the street.

And then came the carpet cleaning. We ended up deciding to go back down to Big Lots and rented a …

Quick & Dirty: Beer as Slug Bait

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Did you ever hear the tip about using old beer as slug bait? I hadn't, until I had something eating my cauliflower leaves and saw one on my garlic. 2+2 probably = 4. Enter: the beer that's been skunking around in the garage for a good long while, which Mr. Moon and I are too afraid to taste test in case it has in fact gone bad.

A couple cups of beer set near the cauliflower and broccoli, removal of any chewed leaves, and we haven't seen any more damage to them. I did, however, have to snag Mr. Moon to help me save the garlic yesterday, as I went out to pick some herbs for the fish and saw at least a dozen munching on the garlic scapes. We used a skewer and a chopstick (I recommend the former rather than the latter) to pluck them off and drop them into the beer. Later, I stuck my head out and watched another one crawl its way into the bowl. I want to feel bad about killing living creatures, but as far as I'm concerned there are worse ways to go than drowning in beer (…

Eats & Treats: Weekly Menu, Mother's Day Brunch

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Happy Mother's Day! 
Somehow I learned that to love people you feed them (in my family?? NEVER!), and my standards means I usually cook. I once created a new tradition for Christmas day in my family by being SUPER!Broke and giving the gift of Quiche for brunch. Since then, as I'm not a fan of Quiche, we have a tradition of me cooking the main dish for Christmas morning (usually french toast casserole AKA a less-sweet bread pudding). Everybody looks forward to it, and the gift giving becomes a lot easier.

Along a similar vein, Mr. Moon and I decided that rather than a drab card or just a phone call, we would like to do something special for Mum. My family usually takes one grandma and my mom out to brunch, but we decided we'd rather cook ours.

What was on our menu? Waffles (we have three waffle makers, it seemed like a good idea to USE them); quiche "of some kind"; biscuits & sausage gravy; ham; fruit salad (no whipped cream dressing--I'd never heard of …

Mr. Moon is so FULL of Surprises!

While I was taking a nap the other day (yes, some days I feel like a toddler), Mr. Moon was a busy, busy bee. After he got the Heather beds planted, he took it upon himself to clean up our side patio. This area had been a dog run before, and when the 'Rents moved in the area was torn up and full of mud. Due to lack of sunlight, stuck in the small space between two houses with a privacy fence between, there was little likelihood of getting grass to grow back in, so they paved it. That's where the trash bins have sat for the last 9 years.

Being out of sight, out of mind most of the time, the area was a bit cluttered. Leaves from the bushes and trees in the neighbors yard, blown dirt, moss, dampness from cement that wasn't poured with any kind of a grade so it just puddles up. Yeah, it's hit. But Mr. Moon really gave it a day of rehab!

Now, you can open the gate and be met with clean, empty pathway. The trash and recycling bins are along the garage instead of the fence, s…

The Latest Dirt: The Garlic Experiment

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You may recall that when we planted our garden a few weeks ago, we had two sets of returning garlic bunches as well as a couple new ones. Here you can see the bunch on the left that was in this bed, reportedly anywhere from 3-5 years. On the right are the two taller sets of scapes that indicate the new plants. Below on the far left are three sets of scapes that were bunched together in a pot, which we broke up to see if old garlic that gets separated will grow better than old garlic that we just let grow.
To keep ourselves sane and not feel as if we're wasting space, our goal is to get scapes off the old garlic and let it keep away aphids. If it gives us usable bulbs, great. If not, no big deal. The new stuff is for bulbs of usable garlic.

So far, as you can sort of see in these pictures (much better in the bottom one up close) is that I have given these scapes a hair cut. As it happens, I've done it three times now--cut them down to just below where they all split off. I…

New white board! Plus this week's Menu: May 7-13

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As you may recall from previously, we have a white board in our kitchen. It had gotten a but smudgy, and I didn't like that the weekly menu planning always involved me trying desperately not to smear/erase the long-term project planning with my forearm. Thus, I re-did it!

Now, the sections we use less often are at the top, so we're less likely to smear things when we write the weekly schedule, menu & to-do list.

Now featured: Updated projects list, re-organized by room. It had gotten a bit chaotic down there. Also, color-coded stars next to our daily routine list. Mum & Pops have committed to being in charge of the dishwasher AND have been keeping up on it, so Mr. Moon isn't solely in charge of that anymore.

I put the chores that are repeating--in this case, taking out the trash and updating the whiteboard--in wet-erase marker just like the lines and work schedule so that I can easily erase the schedule and menu and to-do list without worrying about those (or worse,…

Juicing

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A while back, Pops got a juicer. We all just kind of rolled our eyes, but I was still pretty excited about it! And today I finally got to play with it.

We bought a 25 pound bag of carrots. I did NOT juice the whole thing, for one reason: the fridge and freezer are FULL. Full to bursting, I've rearranged it three times this week, I'm not doing it AGAIN for a bunch of extra juice. So, the carrots stay in whole form, where they don't need to be refrigerated yet.

This is how you know I'm not a design blogger.
If I were, this would be in a glass vase on
a doily with flowers in the background or
something super-classy like that. Instead,
behold my Tupperware pitcher that uses
a shower cap as a lid!

I got 2 quarts of juice out of about 8 pounds of carrots. That was only 9 carrots! I mean, one of these carrots was as big around as my FOREARM. It was slow going; I kept having to turn it off to empty the cup. And then the pulp jar. And then I couldn't get the light back…

Quick & Dirty: Never-Ending Scallions

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I saw this around somewhere and had to try it. The idea is that you can put the white-ends of scallions in water and they will grow, and that you can just keep cutting them off and letting them regrow indefinitely. Last week sometime I took all the white ends of some scallions and put them in water. A few days later, I added some other scallions I'd used. Kept the water changed every few days, used some as needed. This is the result!

It seems like it takes about 4 days to grow from nubbins to a full, useable stalk. I'm considering getting another bunch of stems to use and make starts, because what I have here I use most or all of at once and then have to wait. I'd like to have at least a couple different batches going so that I always have some available to use.
*Tip: Cut them all the way down into the white part of the onion, past any spots where they split off. Otherwise they seem to grow slower and not as sturdily, the tips get brown, and you end up with some spots t…

Celebrate the little things

It seems like time gets away from us, we look ahead at what we have yet to do and we forget to appreciate what we've accomplished already. Some of my favorite blogs have a feature where they re-cap their month, but it's usually just a re-cap of their posts. You can scroll for that.

Five little things we accomplished in April that are really kind of big:

* Mr. Moon and I re-affirming our commitment to each other, our relationship, and ourselves.

* So many little moments that culminated in creating good habits. Evidence: The kitchen scrubbing today that only took 45 minutes, including cleaning up from breakfast. Mr. Moon getting lunch today before he walked out the door to work, and it was even a healthy lunch at that!

* You can see 50% of the floor in the garage.

* Nothing falls out of the freezers when you open them.

* The laundry hampers don't have a single full load, there's only one load of clean stuff sitting around to be folded, and I haven't done more tha…

Menu Plan: Cinco De Mayo week!

This week we discovered a fun and exciting lack of plans. Nothing more than our bare-bones schedule. It was nice! So we opted for a more exciting (read: complicated) menu plan. Sorry I failed to post this on Sunday.

Monday: Mr. Moon's day off! We wanted to exploit his love for grilling, so we planned Brats on the Barbie (which if this weren't the first week of posting menus you would know was a boot-up from last week's Brats on Monday menu plan, which got tossed because we needed produce and 10% off for seniors day is on Tuesday). Pork Beer brats for me, chicken and sundried tomato for the rest of the folks. Chunk Salad for a side dish. But wait, where is the starch? you ask. THE BUN. That's all the starchy side you need, I promise. That being said, if you crave a little more variety, you can do what I did and snack on some of my oranges for dessert.

Tuesday: Mr. Moon's other day off! Freezer Meal for the week: we used up the two whole Tilapia. Stuffed them with le…

Food Choices

Living in a house with four people is difficult enough when everyone cooks for themselves. Mr. Moon likes to HELP with the cooking, but prefers to be given direction and instructions rather than be given the title of an end-product and let loose. Mum is learning new things to cook all the time and is limited in her mobility. When we all originally discussed Mr. Moon and I moving here, I agreed to take responsibility for most of the cooking and meal planning and grocery shopping. Pops has no desire to participate in any of it, really, though we can send him grocery shopping and only expect a 10% variance from the list.

But beyond the physical and emotional is the medical. Cancer diet for hormone-related cancers recommends a low-hormone diet. This means that Pops needs to be cutting out, in order of importance: Red meat; fowl; dairy; fish; all animal products altogether (honey is OK). Best advice is to go vegan, but he's a cheese addict and has no desire to limit his enjoyment or u…

Quick & Dirty/Garden Report: Chive blossom!

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Isn't she so precious?? My first chive blossom. Well, bud. I'd read that they make pretty purple flowers, but never seen one. Looking forward to what becomes of it.