1.31.2011

It Was a Baking Kind of Day

Yesterday I found myself in the baking kind of mood. I made a citrus scented ricotta cheesecake with a citrus simple syrup and homemade bread. Yum!
Citrus Ricotta Cheesecake
Crust:
1 package graham crackers
4 Tbs melted butter
2 Tbs sugar
~girind up the graham cracker until they look like sand, then mix everything together and press into a springform pan and set aside in the fridge

Filling:
16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz cream cheese (no diet stuff here!)
2 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange and 2 lemons
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar (this is not a terribly sweet cheesecake)
~Mix everything together in the food processor until smooth (dont worry if there are still graham cracker crumbs in there, it will be fine) and poor into your crust filled pan. Bake at 350 until a knife comes out clean, I didnt time it, so just keep your eye on it (it will not look cooked and probably wont even be brown yet, but will be kind of puffy and jiggly)

Citrus simple syrup:
Juice of your previously zested fruit, and enough water to make 1 cup of liquid
1 cup sugar
~Bring the ingredients to boil just to melt the sugar and let cool, poor over cold cheesecake. Yum!

** I made this recipe up, so feel free to tweak it as you see fit... I like a lot of citrus and a lot of vanilla, but you can use less if you want

Bread Boule (Courtesy of Mother Earth News) No Knead recipe
3 c warm water
2 packages of yeast (I use more than they say in the article, my bread never rises well)
2 T kosher salt
2 T honey (they don't call for it in the article, but I like it)
6 1/2 c unbleached white flour

~Mix the water, yeast, salt, and honey... allow the yeast to do its thing and get foamy
~Mix in the flour until everything comes together
~Put the goo in a bowl and allow to rise until it is enormous
~No kneading!!!!!!!!!!
~Cut off a hunk of dough and form it into your loaf and place onto a cornmeal dusted stone to rise again
~Bake at 450 until it is brown and crusty and hollow sounding, EAT!
**This make a LOT of dough. The article calls for the dough to simply sit in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use at will. Just cut a hunk off and bake. The texture and flavor will improve as it sits, kind of creating a sourdough flavor. We made a little loaf to eat with eggplant and homemade sauce last night. I failed to take any pictures... Sorry! But it was pretty good!





I better get on with my day. Hubby said before he left for work that he expect me get some work done today. He knows I am really good at procrastinating and not getting my day started until about 1 or 2 pm... Today I have a bunch to do... Get the seed starting going (tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and lettuces) wash all of Oliver's blankets and towels in preparation for his homecoming tomorrow, a TON of laundry, a TON of dishes from yesterdays baking excursion, and cleaning in general... It gets messy around here in winter, especially the floors in the back entryway... tons of dirt and salt and snow...

1.28.2011

I Already Broke A "Resolution"

I was looking back at my list of goals for 2011, and I discovered I already crushed one. And not in a good way... If you go all the way to the bottom, the very last thing is to NOT adopt any more cats... Yeah, well, OOPS! My little Oliver is such a little snuggle bug, I don't know how I could NOT have kept him. Oh well... Back to the old drawing board...

The garden starting is slow going... I have my "shopping cart" of seeds to order from Johhny's and am just waiting on Momma Gardener to send me my gift certificate she got me for Christmas. Really, the best thing you can get a gardener is an excuse to buy seeds! I am super excited to put my order in.

Other than that, there isn't too much to report here on the urban homestead. Oliver goes in on Monday to have his kahunas chopped off... I'm sure I will be a wreck!

1.25.2011

Is This Because I was Raised on a Farm?

Has it really been 11 days since my last post? Bad Blogger, Bad Blogger!!! Honestly, I have been swamped with homework (this math class is kicking my a$$) and on Sunday, we rescued a cat. Yeah, another cat. NO MORE CATS!

However, this little guy has always lived in our neighborhood, and plays with Punkin through the windows and doors. He is not a stranger. So anyways, on Sunday, he was walking up the driveway and I noticed that he had blood on his neck. I thought, oh crap, he got in a fight, he needs stitches, this sucks! So we went outside with some food, and very surprisingly, he walked right up to me and started eating and purring. I have never seen a stray cat (a real stray, not a Punkin stray) be so friendly. so upon closer inspection, I could see that he had sliced his ear open, and Hubby told me to take him to the animal hospital. So we went...

At the animal hospital, they told me he needed all these sorts of medical things, and it was going to bee over $200 to get him fixed up. Now, I am not going to spend that kind of money on something only to let it be released and get into more fights and need fixed again. So I called Hubby and told him the situation, he said absolutely not. We will take him to the APL and drop him off... Yeah... I don't give animals away either. I rescue them, I get attached, it is UGLY.

So Monday comes, I take the little guy to my regular vet, they say he has ear mites, and scratched himself open because he was itching so badly. He has an upper respiratory infection, needs antibiotics, oh, and yeah, he still has his kahunas. Those need chopped off. I called Hubby once again and told him the situation (and a lot less money) and he said, OK! So we have adopted another cat. He is currently sleeping in the garage with some heating pads and towels to snuggle until Wednesday. Wednesday is the big day when we will have him tested for the feline diseases and get all of his shots. If all his tests come back negative, he will have his kahunas chopped on Monday...

Now, I dont know if its just me, or if it is all girls raised with a zillion animals. THEY FIND ME! I swear, they just find me. I dont look for them, they look for me. Throughout my life I have rescued dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, toads, chipmunks, and yeah, even some bugs... Momma Gardener says I just have a big heart. Well, who couldn't have a big heart when something this cute waltzes up to your door and asks "Please Help Me?"

Oliver
So that is him. My little love bug. I couldn't even tell you what his back looks like because every time I go into the garage to check on him, he is flipped over on his back in his cardboard box, and then struts over to me, crawls on my lap and flips back upside down. I have never seen a stray so sociable. At the vet, everyone was picking him up, giving him kisses, rubbing all over him... He is a darn ham!!! I can only hope now that everything goes well on Wednesday and that the girls don't hate him. Oh and that he doesn't pee on anything... Hubby will kill me!

1.14.2011

Who Would Have Thought it Would be This Hard...

... To take a precalculus class?  I need class 1580 to get into class 1610, and in order to get into 1580, the school needs my high school transcripts. Now, you might be wondering, how does one take college classes without them having the transcripts? Exactly my question!!!!! I was not even aware that the stupid school did not have them!!! So I talked to Momma Gardener in extreme distress, since she still lives my home town, and asked her to please help! She talked to the high school, they faxed a release (because this is Top Secret - via the CIA and all), she sent me the release, I signed it, scanned it back to Momma, and she took it to the Board of Education. Great! Right?

Wrong. So then MG calls me back, saying the girl cannot pull the transcripts until Tuesday (the last day of registration for this semester is tomorrow). I say, Why???? She says "You are so old, you are on a different system. The kids of today are microchipped and carry their transcripts around in a chip in their brain, and to retrieve them, they just get plugged in, Matrix style." Im like, ok, this sucks, this sucks really bad. So MG says she will do her best to convince the girl (who did not seem too smart) to try and retrieve my transcripts (Un-Matrix Style) and send them to MG's fax, and MG will send them to me ASAP...

I did not think this would be that hard???

1.13.2011

It's That Time of Year....

...When I go insane!!! January and February always leave me with barely any work, and I really do go nuts. I forget what the inside of an airplane looks like. I start to wonder if I still have a job. Maybe they forgot about me? Maybe I pissed off one too many schedulers, and instead of torturing me with too much work, they do the mental torture and don't let me work at all. And having jury duty this month doesnt help my working ability by taking me off the schedule for 2 additional days.

In all seriousness though, It is usually around the 15th when Hubby starts to freak out on me and doesnt work at home. He will go to the office because I am so annoying... Why don't I go somewhere with my travel benefits you ask? Oh that would be because it costs money! In the world of real estate, January and February are the really really slow months... The cash flow doesnt help my cabin fever.... I just dont know how many more times I can clean the house, or wash the sheets. All of our undies and clothes are clean, the cats are clean, the house plants (all 2 of them) are watered, the garden is planned, the dishes are done... AHHHH!!!!!

Momma Gardener was supposed to come this weekend and relieve me of my insanity, but due to circumstances beyond any one persons control, she has cancelled. That's OK though! I surely can find something to do... Right?!

I suppose my only relief is that classes start again in FIVE days! Count 'em, FIVE DAYS!!!! At least then I will have someone telling me what to do... Thanks Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.12.2011

Dear Momma.....

Remember last week when I told you I wanted a pair of Carharts next year? Preferably a pair of blue coveralls like I had when I was a kid... Those were awesome... This is why.....   (As a side note... I am going to BFF Stephs house to retrieve a snow blower)

Me, looking all sexy, ready to attack the driveway

Hubbys Car

Looking at the snow through the tires point of view

the street

Our Front Steps

1.08.2011

The Mailman Probably Thinks We Have Problems...

Because everyday when the mailman delivers the mail, there are more bottles on our porch... Wine bottles. A TON OF THEM! We are saving up to do a border around all of the flower beds (all 2 of them) because they are on a hill, and the soil and mulch washes away with every rain. I saw a house in a trendy neighborhood that had this, and I liked it, and I thought since we live in an Italian neighborhood, wine bottles as decor would fit in just right! I estimated it would take about 310 wine bottles... I honestly have NO CLUE how many we have...

Now don't go thinking we have been able to save this many bottles all by ourselves (even though that would have been a good time!)... We have a neighbor, Joe, that works at a bar down a couple streets away, and he gives us a delivery every weekend, and not to mention, Sam, of course saves all his bottles for us as well... I am thinking, definitely, that we will have to take the labels off....
One Example..... 
A Second Example....


Bottles on the porch

Bottles in the Storage Room










1.07.2011

Goals for 2011

You know, I am not a resolution type of person... Lose weight, swear less, read more, and onward, etc.... I do better with goals. The beginning of the year seems to be a good opportunity to set goals because you have a long time to complete them, many different seasons in which to accomplish them, so on and so forth. Anyways, here goes the list...

HOUSE:
1 - Finish all bedroom doors and actually hang them
2a - Knock down office wall, create new dining room
2b - purchase and install new window in new dining room
3 - Purchase and install (or have installed) the new pellet stove
4 - Remember to turn off the basement light more when doing laundry (my worst overall bad habit)
5 - Get the new office room in order with a desk/table thing, shelving, file cabinet, and a HEATER (this room was added as en extension and is friggin freezing!!!)
6 - Finish all the trim work that has yet to be painted, or even sanded....
7 - Install the remaining 2 windows we already have purchased... Might need help with the upstairs bathroom window... I am afraid of heights...
8 - Paint porch railings and floor
9 - Purchase, install, and finish the shower in the upstairs bathroom so we and our house guests can actually use it... Oh and install the fan (already purchased) for the shower... Might need help with that too, I am not an electrician

GARDEN:
1 - Build raised beds and fill them with dirt and compost
2 - Actually keep track of the stuff we produce in terms of weight/numbers/etc...
3 - Remember to get the plants in the ground on time, and NOT kill them before doing so
4 - Dig up the 2 spindly spiny plants in the front yard (they seem to want to climb my brick wall) and replace them with something more useful, like herbs or something of the like...
5 - Build the wine bottle retaining walls (I will make a post on this later, but we are starting to look like alcoholics)
6 - Pull all the weeds that grow along side our house on the side with the vacant house (why is it that we always have lived next to a vacant house? Do we smell or something?)
7 - Im sure I will add to this list as the year goes on, but thats all I can think of right now...

PERSONAL STUFF
1 - We decided that it would be a good year to see if we can go an entire year (from right now) without purchasing any new clothes. We decided that undies and socks and the like will not be included in this. Losing weight to fit into the clothes we already have is a number one priority in NOT spending any money. However, if we are given gift cards, we will gladly spend them :)
2 - Use our bicycles A LOT more... Gas is silly expensive, and bikes are no impact on the environment... Plus we can lose weight and fit into the clothes we have and save money!
3 - Eat at home. We have a tendency (especially in the winter) to eat out. Its too expensive, makes our waists fatter and our wallets thinner... It should be the other way around!
4 - Stay motivated for school. This one is just for me. I am in school trying to finish my degree which was started when I was 17 (eek! Eight years ago!) and I never finished due to a lot of reasons. I dont need to explain those to adult students, everyone has their own reasons... But anyways, I never know what is going on with my company since we are in the middle of a HUGE merger, and I just don't hold any seniority, so I need to have a backup plan.
5 - Work on the backup plan for goal number 4
6 - Be a better wife
7 - DO NOT adopt more cats... Even though I want to, Hubby might kill me

This seems like a long list... But as I think about it, a lot of these goals are long term. The to-do list for the house is just that. A list. Those things can be checked off one by one. The whole not buying clothes thing, and eating at home WAY more are going to be the really tough ones... Happy 2011!!!

1.06.2011

Look What I Found!

Tonight while driving home from Vietnamese food with my BFF Steph (not a gardener... Can't even get this one to recycle), we drove past this set of HUGE table things! I love trash night! Anywho, I only snagged one table. I figure that would be plenty for this tiny garden. The other one seemed a little shaky... I might still go back out there and push the thing home anyways. I don't have room in my garage for it right now, so it is standing behind the house. BFF Steph is in the picture too, laughing her tail off!






The snow is coming back to C-town in full force. I shoveled the driveway once today (to be a good wife) since Hubby drove the little car. The little car is a 99 Mazda Miata, and yeah... that car and snow just dont mix very well. At least when I drive it! I'd say we have about 2 inches now... I took this picture of the driveway while it was light out before the first shoveling... Its a LONG driveway... At least shoveling it is downhill :)



Momma Gardener is coming next weekend for a little visit. She is coming and has the intentions of helping me put away the Christmas Village, which has a home on top of my cabinets. I got bored today and I just did it. It sucked doing it alone, but I had Punkin and Charlotte to keep me company!

Charlotte in the Bubble Wrap

Punkin LOVES Paper!

A Couple of Christmas Pics

My nephew Grady... I think he likes wrapping paper more than presents!



1.03.2011

Sams Chickens

Our neighbor across the street, Sam the Fireman, has 10 chickens. They are so big! I went over there to deliver a bagful of egg cartons, and he didn't answer the door, so I walked in the back to see if he was out. He wasn't, but the chickens were! I had forgotten that several weeks ago he told us that he had gotten a rooster, so today was my first glimpse! He is VERY big and such a sweety. All the little ladies were outside eating bugs and whatnot and squeeking and clucking away! I can't wait to have our own chickens!

Here he is!

Some of the lovely ladies

1.02.2011

Seed Starting Shelf

I have been wracking my brain since we moved into this house as to where in the heck I am going to start all of my seeds... I used to do it in the basement of the old house, and there was absolutely no light. I used a florescent fixture 24/7 until the plants were big enough to go outside. Anyways, I placed the shelf in front of a south facing window on the second floor so that no houses are blocking sunlight. I hope to not have to purchase more light fixtures, so I am willing to just see how it goes this year. I also ordered 2 more heating mats since our house is silly cold... What can I say? We are cheap! I did also get some plastic sheeting to sort of wrap around the shelf to create a greenhouse effect. Just gonna have to see how it all goes! I am pretty excited to get rolling already! As a side note, I totally irritated the Hubby by talking him into buying a new christmas tree for next year. I got a 9 ft prelit tree for $55marked down from $275!!! One of my best finds yet!

I spent most of the day yesterday mapping out the garden, and I came up with a raised bed plan for the back yard that gives us a total of 553 square feet of gardening space, and space for chickens! Yes, I am still determined to have chickens... Also spent some time sorting out seeds and figuring out what I want to order this year... I am not ordering again from SSE after my utter disappointment in the germination rate of their seeds last year. I am going to try Johnnys Seeds this year and see how it goes.

the shelf

left over seeds

Punkin, my ever faithful helper