Friday, August 29, 2014

Random 5 on Friday: Ramblings From a Hot Kitchen

The Pebble Pond

1. Does your grocery store wrap up over-ripe fruit and veggies for "quick, reduced sales"? You should cash in on those, especially if you're a baker! I picked up 2 bunches of bananas for $1.90 and made 6 DELISH loaves of chocolate chip banana bread, 5 to freeze for quick snacks and breakfasts. Well, at least that's the plan until the kids get hungry...

2. And just because the oven was already on, the house all hot, and my Mom had just delivered 5 quarts on wild Maine blueberries, I made a blueberry pie using this simple recipe. I even made the crusts from scratch! (But Pillsbury makes some ready-dones that are awesome...) I struggled with them though; I don't think a 85 degree kitchen helped keep the dough cool...The pie was yummy topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

Photo Credit (Yeah, not my photo. The pie didn't last long enough for a photo...)

3. Summer returned to Maine. Not that it REALLY left as temperatures have been in the 70s and that's still summer around these parts, but we were in the mid-80s for a couple of days this week. ::melt:: But it's great for my itty-bitty zucchinis and ripening pumpkins!

4. And a perfect time for the flock to get out for long afternoons of free ranging while the kids read in the hammock. Unfortunately the ducks spied my ripening cherry tomatoes and filled their crops. I'm sure they enjoyed them...

5. But I am ready for fall! Nothing like the vibrant fall colors of the trees, the warm days, but cool evenings, the turning of the seasons. (Winter and snow can wait a while though...)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Backyard Nature Photography

Over the last 1 1/2 years, my photography has "gone by the wayside". I've missed snapping photos, being creative. So, I thought I would devote some time every week (or so) to reigniting my hobby, and share my captures with you! (Let me know what you think!) This week I focused on backyard nature!

A New Pumpkin Flower
Opening Pumpkin Flower
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Stick Bug
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Fungi on a Dead Tree
Something in the Woods 

(Photos taken with a Canon Rebel XTI using a 70-200mm lens on manual.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary! Or check out these link-ups for more photography fun!

Joy Dare Blog

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Life's Funnies, Learning, and Lobster

1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?

Oh, there's been so many! But this past weekend was WONDERFUL. My Mom and Dad drove down to spend the weekend with us. Dad repaired a wall in the livingroom, a hole that's been there for over a year. We had Chinese for dinner. There were lots of laughs and reminiscing about life's funnies. And I was able to spend some unexpected time with my special someone.

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?

The most? I worked in a preschool as a teacher's aide during college. Such a fun place! I was able to do lots of creative learning projects with the kids. And even though I didn't go to college (then) for teaching, it ignited a spark! The least? I worked as a waitress in high school. The boss wasn't the nicest man...

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?

Both! But for us? I can't start before Labor Day. There's just something wrong with that! LOL Maine summers are short enough!

4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?

Does spending 5 hours in an 85 degree kitchen baking 6 loaves of chocolate chip banana bread, homemade rolls for steak and pepper sandwiches for dinner, and a blueberry pie count? Who would think baking could tire a person out!

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'

Oh, 'A woman's work is never done' seems to be my motto lately! As a single Mom, I've doing it all, mostly. Some things just have to wait as there are only so many hours in the day. The kids aren't going to remember a few dirty dishes in the sink, right? or a floor that isn't swept? But they'll remember a Mom that was there, listening to them, doing things with them. I'm fortunate to have family and friends that help us out though!

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

Photo Credit

Well, my Dad was a lobsterman for most of his life, so LOBSTER. It's something that I grew up on. I can even tell you if a lobster is male or female...I like it steamed with melted butter (of course).

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.

Hmmmm. I'm going to go with 'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity". Even in the hardest of times, there's something to be gained, to be learned from, to push us forward. It's harder to open our minds to those opportunities though when we are stressed, anxious and emotional.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Random 5 on Friday: Ramblings

The Pebble Pond

What a week! How was yours?

1. Have I shared that I have been experiencing pain and stiffness in my wrists and loss of grip strength in my hands since mid-June? My doctor diagnosed me with "tendonitis", probably the result of kayaking in rough water and continued use, and suggested I wear wrist splints and rest. (Rest?!) Although the pain and stiffness have lessened, it's still there. I was tested in June for Rheumatoid Arthritis, just to rule it out. I found out on Tuesday the results came back positive. So, with worry, that afternoon I went back in for a follow-up test. I learned today that it came back negative! Phew!

2. My boys have incredible hair! It's thick and curly and grows super quick. This week was Buzz Time! Just look at the difference!

OK, I'll admit it...I had a great time "teasing" Sam's hair up into a respectable afro. ::wink:: Impressive, huh?

3. I made dark chocolate zucchini brownies...and zucchini bread, with and without chocolate chips...and zucchini cookies, frosted. I'm zucchini'ed out! The rest will be shredded and frozen for baking during the winter. Our garden only produced 4 great squashes, but that was plenty for us! (ETA: On closer inspection of the zucchini plants we have 4-5 more itty bitty squashes growing...)

Click here for Chef In Training Awesome Frosted Oatmeal-Zucchini Cookie
Recipe.That's Nikki's Cookie Photo as Mine Didn't Look Quite a Professional.

4. Since I'm supposed to be resting my hands - I used an electric mixer to bake my zucchini goodies - I have been doing more reading, finishing The Blue Bistro (finally) by Elin Hilderbrand. I'm now reading To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, a book I just randomly grabbed off the shelf. Have you ever done that? It can be interesting! Really!

5. And watching "Three's Company". Do you remember that show? I suppose it shows my age, but that show was and still is a riot!

As always, special thanks to these weekly link-ups:
 photo 337a3ef2-b881-48f4-8a2c-9c69e457cb5b_zps8b6152cf.pngHomegrown LearnersWeekly Wrap-UpManaging Your BlessingsThoughtful Spot Weekly Blog HopThe Multitasking Mummy Hip Homeschool MomsJoy Dare Blog

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random 5 Ramblings: Friday

The Pebble Pond

1. It's 11:17am and I am still in my PJs, the ones with cows jumping over the moon and pink and white stars splattered all over them.

2. It rained earlier. I should have known as I have 2 loads of laundry hanging on the line to, er, dry. Extra rinse, right?

3. But the sun is out now! I am hoping to have a fire in our fire pit tonight to roast hot dogs and marshmallows with the kids and their friend T. It's always a fun time...and summer is slipping away.

4. In the meantime I'm going to make some zucchini bread from this recipe. Chocolate chips?

5. And read some more Elin Hildebrand's The Blue Bistro once I've gotten dressed for the day and caught up on some household stuff.

What are you up to?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge: This and That...and a Cute Cartoon Frog

1. The best part of waking up is____________________________________.
Being alive to experience another day!

 2.  Given a choice, which animal interaction would you most like to experience (or for those non-adventurers...which would you dislike the least?) - Swim with the dolphins at one of several locations in the Florida Keys, a lion encounter ten minutes from Victoria Falls (Africa), or a day at a remote base camp high in the Big Sur wilderness via the Ventana Wildlife Society helping track California condors?
Oh, I would choose a lion encounter near Victoria Falls, hoping I would get to experience the falls too. Can you imagine how amazing they would be up close?
Photo Credit

 3. What is something you fear about 'old age'? What is something you look forward to?
The only thing I fear (a little) about "old age" is being alone. My kids will be busy with their own families and lives. I hope they will make time for their Mama...or I'll just have to camp out at their houses, spoil the grandkids and out-stay my welcome! :wink:

 4. Hot sauce...are you a fan? If you answered yes, what's something you make/eat that must have hot sauce? On a scale of 1-10 how hot is too hot?
Nah! I don't like hot, spicy foods.

 5. It's been said that children learn what they live. What do you think children learn at your house?
I hope they have learned that they are loved deeply and they can trust in that love forever no matter what choices - good or bad - that they make. That they will always know that their Mom is there for them.

 6. What's your favorite movie with a number in it's title?
Er. Hmm. Movie with a number in it? Let me get back to you...

 7. Saturday (August 16th) is National Tell a Joke Day...share one here.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Random 5 Rambling: My Staycation

The Pebble Pond

I spent this week with my special friend, enjoying a staycation together. (My kids are still visiting with Grandpa and Nannie Lobster.) It's been a week of yummy meals, enlightening discussions, road trips, and lots of laughs.

1. I don't know about you, but I love watching thunder and lightning storms blow through. Watching those dark clouds move across the sky, the wind whip around, the increasing splatter of cool rain, the boom of thunder, and the flash of bright lightning is amazing. A number of storms rolled in and out this week, one including a downpour of small hail (which is unusual).

Taken in Freeport, Maine by Jon Cole (Photo Credit)

2. My friend and I went to a small town fair. I watched my first ever demolition derby. Have you ever seen "junker" cars smashing into each other like bumper cars? It was fun cheering on the drivers and wondering which cars would make it through to the next round. (My favorite car came in 2nd place.) We also wondered around the livestock barns (as a thunderstorm brought more downpours) and saw the cows and goats. Mooooo!

3. We made a fabulous dinner of rotisserie chicken, "fried" Granny Smith apples with cinnamon, and baked brie with apricot preserves. Oh, my - baked brie! This is the super simple recipe I used. And I harvested 3 zucchini from my garden, the first of the season, and made dark chocolate frosted zucchini brownies using this recipe. Rich and fudgy! You would never know there was squash in them.

4. Road trip! We drove north to Coos Canyon on the Swift River.

5.  We watched "Heaven is for Real". Anyone else seen it? What did you think? And as a special treat I watched "The Pioneer Woman" on the cooking channel. We don't have cable, so it's kind of nice to "borrow" some screen time from a friend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Keys

1. What would you say is the key to success?
Happiness, hope, contentment. Success can't be measured in dollars or material wealth. Success is measured in enjoying life, contentment with where you are and what you have, and hope for the future.

2. Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? Any desire to visit that part of the US of A?
Never been! I'm not a big fan of temperatures over 80 degrees. It's a good thing that Maine doesn't have many super warm days! Why not see Florida though? There's something wonderful to experience everywhere (even with the heat, bugs and alligators).

3. When and where did you last see a real live donkey? Monkey? Turkey?
It's been a very long time since I have seen a donkey or a monkey, but we often have wild turkeys wandering around, especially early mornings. They're most definitely NOT Thanksgiving turkeys, although they are hunted and eaten. Look how, er, cute they are!
Photo Credit
4. An old Portuguese proverb says, 'Beware of the door with too many keys.' What do you think this means? Share an example of how this has proven true or false in your own life.
Am I the only one that had to Google the meaning? LOL But each site had a different take on the meaning! For me, it means to focus on a simple, uncomplicated life, and I'm all for that. The less cluttered my life is with activities and things, the more I enjoy and am content with what I already have.

5. Besides your home, vehicle, and special jewelry, what is something you keep under lock and key?
My heart. After years of a challenging marriage and divorce, I had "locked" up my heart...but I've recently given the "key" to someone wonderful. ::blush::
6. When's the last time you got keyed up about something?
Oh, today! :sigh: But the good thing is that everything worked out and I was reminded that patience isn't my strong suit.

7. Who thinks we need an easy one right about now?  Key lime pie...yes please or no thank you?
Yes, please! It's not my favorite, but it's a tart treat on a summer day! I like any kind of cheesecake or New England pumpkin pie better though.
8. Insert your own random thought here.