Wednesday, April 27, 2011

backpacking test run

Olympia wants to do more hiking, camping, rafting and any other more adventurous stuff. We tried for an overnight backpacking thing last fall but it didn't work out. This year, we plan on hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia for a weekend. Someone in the ward is a thru hiker and is really excited so has offered us a ride so we can hike thru instead of out and back. That won't be until the fall but we are practicing now to make sure we can make it 8 miles a day with loaded packs on. We didn't do 8 miles today since we went after I got off work but we did 3 miles with loaded bags in 2 hours. I think we'll be fine. We have one more practice run left. We'll be going to stone mountain and hiking up and back down with the packs. It's pretty steep in spots and we've been told that that is what it'll be like.

There's a park nearby that has an equestrian trail, hiking trails and biking trails (all seperate). The trails were very nicely groomed. We had to walk the bike trail until we got to the turnoff for the hiking trail. The turnoff is hard to miss as it's a large arbor with flowering vines covering it. It smelled great.

We went down a lot of stairs and knew it meant trouble later on. At the bottom was a stream where we took a break.

100 years ago, these woods used to be a meadow pasture. You can see how quickly things get overgrown out here. There are a few original trees scattered around. We found one. It was huge! It could have fit at least three of me holding hands around it.

Once we crossed the river, we started back uphill.
It really had our calves burning.

Honeysuckle is one of my favorite flowers. It smells so good! It fills my lungs and makes me smile. I found out Olympia had never tasted it so I corrected that. It's too bad there's not much nectar in each one.

We took a wrong turn and ended up on a different trail which meant we didn't get to see the ravine overlook. I was looking forward to that. We came out on a different part of the bike trail and a guy passing by stopped and took our picture for us.

Instead of heading straight back to the car, we took the long way around, past the meadow they are restoring.

The bike trail was lined with these little trees that were covered in these little purple flowers. The flowers smelled good but it was their deep purple centers that I really liked. Olympia took some home to her horticulturist husband to identify them.

We were expecting a thunder storm tonight so we were hoping we wouldn't be stuck in a downpour. We made it back to the car before any rain fell. It was a nice evening.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I recently got some pics from the bike tour in September that others had taken.

We had pulled into our campground in Moab and Cheryl decided she was going to trat us to dessert that night for out birthdays. Rod and I celebrated birthdays on (or right after) the ride. She bought a cheesecake for us to share. I had already had my fill of dinner but made room for cheesecake.

I really don't like that pic above! I look drugged. We had already pedaled over 200 miles that week and my allergies were making my eyes swollen somewhat closed.

This is just after I pulled into camp outside of Monticello. That's me standing in the back. I hadn't even had a chance to shower yet...but notice everyone else is clean and relaxing. I am just that much slower. But hey, it's about the journey. I don't mind being slower because I'm savoring the scenery.

This is when we just got started. I'm the one with the blue bag on the right. We rode together for the first part of the day while we navigated some confusing dirt roads.

I was just finishing a climb over cock's comb. It was a tough climb but not as bad as it appeared it would be when we came around the corner.

These trips are so much fun! I'm a little sad I won't be doing it this year but it's time for a break from that this fall. Day rides, close to home will have to suffice.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

bathroom sneak peek

I've been trying to decorate my house. It's something I've never really done before. My tastes are too expensive for my wallet so I have been finding a thing here and there at thrift stores for cheap. Here's a couple things in my main bathroom.

The candle has a really good smell to it but for some reason, it only gives off its odors occasionally. The serving tray and doilie that it is sitting on are from a thrift store. Adam doesn't like tarnished silver (the tray is tarnished silver) and threatens to clean it up for me but I love it's patina! The coral in the serving tray is all from Florida from '91. The tall coral on the floor is my latest thrift find. It's pretty big for the bathroom but I like it anyway. Bear doesn't though because he used to try out that spot for protection for the storms.

Adam bought this lighthouse in South Dakota when his Grandpa died. I love that it's neutral in color. The small jar holds all my tiny shells, as well as some of my coolest ones. One day, I came home from work to find it scattered across the counter. I scooped them back into the jar, noting that half of them were missing, including my volcanoes and flamingo favorite shells. Then, I walked into the living room and found a few piles of vomit...I guess sea shells don't sit too well in Tucker's stomach! The taller container has a few things I've found but most of them were bought or given to me. And the coral was also found in Florida in '91.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

worker bee

Adam's been busy getting lots of little projects done since he's not very busy with towing. A few nights ago, while I was busy working the garden, he pulled out his saws and ripped some boards for another project for me. He had an idea of how he wanted it done, and I had a different idea for it...which isn't unusual for us. He took what I told him and incorporated most of it but thought of his own unique gate closure system. He didn't explain to me how it would work, just that I would like it. Part of what he did required the use of hand tools...strange, I thought, since he prefers power tools. But I wasn't able to find out exactly how it would work until a couple days later when he had a chance to work on it again. What is it, you ask? Well, it's a composting bin. I don't have a picture of it yet though. He and a friend finished it yesterday and carried it to the backyard and placed it over my already existing compost pile (just piled on the ground with no containment). He was right, the gate closure it pretty nifty and the bin is very solid...and large! Pictures to follow. He also built the gate for the fence we put up in front of the clothesline and dug the dirt out so I could open the gate. It's on a hill and the ground was in the way.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Temple trip

On Saturday, Adam and I wen on a double date with an old coworker and his wife. We went out to eat, then to the temple open house. The grounds look very different, though the temple itself (on the outside) looks the same. The inside is amazing! It used to be quite plain but no more!

The sun was setting so we walked around the grounds before taking the tour which turned out a good thing since the sun was long gone by the time we got out.

She had been to an open house before, in St. Louis, and was very impressed that time. But she didn't know that she was going to another one. She thought she was going to an Amish temple, which she wasn't so thrilled with because she had never heard anything of one. Plus, she was confused because Adam drives and worked with electronics which wasn't fitting of an Amish man. She was impressed with this one as well.

I was also really impressed. You can see why it was closed for almost 2 years. It really made me happy to have the knowledge of the gospel that I do have and motivated to do better to not take it for granted.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

garden progress

First off, let me apologize for the format of this post. It refuses to let me fix it so I have given up. Here's my future garden. Who knew that a little garden could take so much work!?! I certainly never thought that it could be! This area is in front of the extra bedroom and I will be gardening in the smaller flower bed to the left of the main bed as well. It's all about the size of a smallish bedroom. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if I had just plopped a raised bed on top of the grass but there were a ton of rocks that needed to be removed and large roots from the crape myrtle and holly bushes Adam pulled out last fall. I wouldn't have minded them being there if it weren't for the fact that they're sprouting new branches! So I've been diligently trying to get as many out as I can. Also, I've only been using a shovel and pick axe so no tiller or any other machine to make it go fast. Adam doesn't understnd why I would WANT to work hard when there are other options (even though we don't have a tiller or bobcat or the means to rent one right now anyway). But it sure does give me an appreciation for all the people who have lived without all our modern conviences! And I will treasure that garden because it holds alot of my sweat, blood and tears. Ok, not tears, but blood and sweat, for sure. These pictures were all taken during different stages of progress...though it may not seem that much has changed from one pic to the next. This last pic shows the area I've been saving for last. One portion of it is saved because there are some plants I will be transplanting to another area of the yard and wanted to wait to pull them out until I'm closer to finishing so they don't die while waiting. The dead looking area along the house is where the half the roots I have to deal with are. I don't have any pics of where I currently am but I am halfway done with that rooted area and half od the plants have been removed and laid in a shady area so they don't dry out and die while they wait until I am finished so I can work on a flower bed elsewhere where they will be put. I should be done by the end of the week with all the digging for this bed. Then, we'll be able to put a raised bed on it and fill it with good, composted soil. April 15th is the day here in our gardening zone that they say is safely past the last frost...the day you can plant outside. I wanted to be ready to plant by then but I will have to wait a week or so, I think. Which really, isn't too much later. I can live with that. Of course, plans don't always work out the way I want so we'll see... I am having trouble deciding what to plant though. I want tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, peas, green beans, beans, cabbage, squash, potatoes...and if I think hard enough I'll remember the couple of things I'm missing. But my garden is kind of small so I won't be able to fit all that! I will be making bins for the potatoes so they don't need to take up room in the garden at least. And maybe a table for the back deck where I can have planters with lettuce. Any creative suggestions that don't take up garden space?

Monday, April 4, 2011

fermenting (and other ramblings)

I have gotten really bad about updating my blog. So here's another nutshell, but all on one topic. Well, all on one topic except for a tiny little intro with something that makes me very happy. I got to use my clothesline for the first time this past weekend. It's just so pretty to see clothes/blankets flapping in the wind. They dried during the first 2 hour session of conference.

I have a lot more room on the lines than I thought I would. I was so sure it was going to be cramped...but then I've only ever had a single line, or 2 at times so I underestimated just how much I can fit on there! I was pleasantly surprised. That's a queen sized quilt and two loads of laundry. I don't think I'll ever run out of room.

And one more note. This weekend, I was able to watch General Conference. While I was watching, I was able to feel His spirit and that allowed me to forget, for a time, the heartache that has come with a stressful time for my family. He loves me. I know He does because he allows me, an unworthy, imperfect being, to feel His love for me and to recognize the numerous small things that He has given me to bring me joy, like watching a bird peck the ground for food, clothes flapping on the line that my loving husband built for me, a pantry full of food and too many other things to list but also, He has placed me in a family that is amazing. I often don't feel like I belong because there is nothing too special about me as there is about everyone else. They are such good examples to me about unconditional love and being there to support each other through life's trials. I am unworthy of all I have but He blesses me continually anyway and I am truly grateful!

So, back to the purpose of this post. Fermenting. The book I started following to change my eating talks a lot about fermenting fruits and vegetables (though mostly veggies since fruit turns to alcohol after just a couple months whereas veggies last anywhere from several months to a couple years.

Why would anyone want to ferment food, you wonder? I'm glad you asked. Fermented foods are loaded with lactobacilli, the same probitotic found in yogurt. Also, the veggies go through enzymatic changes that makes the food easier to digest. Strangely though, when eaten with meat, it actually helps to digest some of the vitamins in meat that would otherwise be unavailable to the body. Easier digestion means the whole digestive tract works much more efficiently. I wouldn't have believed that one except for that I know first hand how wonderfully that actually works!

There is that reason, but also, fermenting food is an ancient form of preserving foods for the winter when there would be no fresh produce. Sure, there's canning nowadays that wasn't available back then. But the high heat kills a lot of the vitamins that would be available in the fresh veggies, or fermented veggies. Anyone who knows me, knows I like to learn the "old ways". It truly makes me happy to learn these things.

Of course, these kinds of foods aren't without a downfall. The taste is not the same as the fresh/canned varities we're used to. I don't mind tastes I'm not used to but there are people who fight anything different and they are a hard sell! But I'm continuing to try to break through that barrier.

One thing to note: you lose the probiotic effect of these foods if they're that traditional dish of boiled sauerkraut and hot dogs, if the store bought stuff was even fermented to begin with, which is unlikely, wouldn't offer any probiotics unless some unheated sauerkraut was put on top of the dish. Anyway, you only need a small amount to get the effects so that would work.

Some of these experiments have been SO tasty and some have been downright disgusting but most are somewhere in the middle. So without getting into recipes on this post, I will show you what I've made and what I thought of will come in another post, another time.

Asian veggie medley. This is the last one I made and I haven't actually tried this one yet but I like the dark color.

Orange marmalade. It's very liquidy (which the book warns you about). I could have handled that but the taste was so disgusting that I couldn't handle it at all! I read on someone's blog that it was too sour. I made one jar with peels and one without. I figured the peel is what made it sour. They were both equally disgusting...and bitter, not sour. I won't be sharing the recipe on this one ever.

Corn relish. I liked this one well enough.

This is called's a spicy, Latin American version of sauerkraut. I prefer sauerkraut but this works well with Mexican food.

Sauerkraut. Adam likes it well enough when it's completely fermented but when it's under-fermented, he says it tastes too much like cabbage for him. I really like sauerkraut. The sauerkraut needs about 5 months to really mature so I really need to do a whole crock full to actually keep it around long enough to reach 5 months.

Salsa. I made this one without onions for Adam. He hasn't tried it yet but I like it...not too spicy.

Pickles. Not a fan of this recipe but I've eaten them a couple times.

Ketchup. I like this! I pretty much stopped using ketchup (except for fries) because of the high fructose corn syrup. I don't like how sweet storebought can be anyway. This one has a little sweetner in it but you don't notice it really. It's more of a robust flavor...I like it.

Mango chutney. I commented on this in one other post. This is, by far, my favorite ferment so far...except for the bubbles (which is normal for chutneys and many other ferments). I just love it! It's sweet, spicy, salty, tangy...everything except bitter.

Now, here's the problem with fermenting...everything is supposed to stay beneath the liquid or it can mold. Her's those weird pickles a few weeks later. Only the portions above the liquid are affected but I haven't been able to bring myself to try the portions below the surface just yet. So far, this is the only one I've had problems with.
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