Animal People

I haven't been on here in awhile, and that is because I'm so dang busy. That and the fact that the yarden is totally dead, and nothing is happening.

Although something did happen. We adopted a new kitten. Winks. We called him that because he had an eye infection that made him unable to open his eye, so he always looked like he was winking at you. Winks. It was a great name.

We had Winks for all of 4 weeks. He spent a week in the garage getting over his fleas, worms, mites, and other outside cat things that happen when a kitten is born outside before finding their way into your heart and home. He spent 3 weeks inside, becoming part of the family.

Today I dropped him off for his neuter surgery. He didn't come home. He passed away due to a terrible reaction from anesthesia, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest. It is rare, but it happens.

I am a terrible mess, I can't stop crying, and the animals are flocking to me, and I love it. I love my animals. Which brings me to my point.

I am an animal person. Some people are people people, some are cat people, some are dog people, and some go gaga over babies. I happen to have this weird thing about me where animals flock to me. They always have, and I'm sure they always will. Sick, healthy, happy, sad, injured... They always just seem to find me.

We will never have children, and we are perfectly OK with that. What we will always have in our future are animals. That's just the way it is. And I'm also perfectly OK with that. I am learning that most animals make it, and some don't. I am learning to be perfectly OK with that. It will forever be my cross to bear, and yes, I am perfectly OK with that.

To all the other animal people out there, I'm there for you.



Hello, my name is Ashlee, and I am an animal-aholic.

There. I said it. I'm sure I've said it before, and I will probably say it again, but it's true. And its all I can think about right now. Ok, lie. All I can think about is the tiny little kitten in my garage recovering from the emotional trauma of being capture and transported to the vet and who is also recovering from eye infection treatment.

I'm calling him Winks (coz he can only open one eye right now, and looks like he is winking, haha, get it?) and he is so cute. Remember Fuzz? She is still around, but Winks is a miniature version of her.

For now, Winks will remain an outside cat. For SURE until he is neutered and his infection is gone. Possibly still will remain an outside cat unless Andrew and I totally cave and bring him inside. I KNOW I have a cat problem, and I'm pretty sure he does too, but he is more concealing of it.

By the way, if you've been browsing the blog in my absence, my apologies on not being able to see any pictures. I recently deleted all the pictures from my Google+ backup, and I didn't know they were connected to the blog, EVEN THOUGH I uploaded them from my computer's drive. If there is anything you want to see, just shoot me an email and I will reload the pic for you. But don't worry, you aren't missing out on anything. 


Something's BUGging Me

Ugh... Effing garden pests... To be specific, cabbage worms. Now, I don't have any actual cabbages this year, but I DID have brussel sprouts, which I pulled out due to cabbage worm infestation. And I DO have kale (our FAVORITE plant food) which is slowly becoming infested with the damn things.
My kale bed

Now, I've been using diatomaceous earth to try and combat the little buggers, but as of late, it seems a waste of energy and money. I think I'm gonna have to pull the kale *big sad face...

I DO want to plant more kale though, and I want to put it under a row cover cover in the back yarden. All the internet sites say to use 1/2 inch pvc, but I worry about it bending appropriately, or not bending? I imagine it will look something like this...

I plan on using this Agribon AG-19 fabric to cover the hoops and the kale. The description says it will protect plants in temps as low as 26 degrees, which for this purpose is excellent as I want to try to keep the kale growing through at least January.

Have any of you used this fabric or something similar? Do any of y'all use pvc to make little hoop houses? How are they working out??


Ramen... Can This Be My Religion???

Just look it this bowl of ramen below... Take it allllllll in.... Can you smell it?
Just a cell phone pic, and it looks DELISH

I've been slightly obsessed with ramen and pho for the last few months, and I'm calling this my first real success. It has got to be the best freakin ramen I've ever had. Seriously. And there is even a restaurant in Cleveland  completely dedicated to the stuff - which I have tried twice (just to give them the benefit of a doubt) and I was sorely disappointed each time. But this is not a restaurant review, so I digress.

After scouring my best friend pinterest for homemade ramen recipes, I discovered that the key is a super flavorful broth and the best noodles - and not spaghetti, but real Asian noodles. Mine was vegetarian tonight, but yours doesn't have to be. Here is how I went about this...

Vegetarian Ramen

For the dashi (the broth)
2 quarts vegetable stock, or bone stock, whatever you like really! (Ramen is traditionally pork bones, but just go with what you like)
1 Tbs olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 Tbs yellow miso paste
black pepper to taste
~Allow the garlic to sweat/brown slightly in the oils over medium heat, then add in your stock. Allow the stock to reduce by half, then stir in your condiments. Bring the broth back to a boil before pouring over the noodles. (Make extra dashi and keep it in the freezer so you don't have to do this every time you want soup. By the time you boil your broth next time, all your toppings will be done including your egg!)

For the toppings
You can have any manner of vegetables or roasted/grilled meats
carrots (boil in broth)
spring onion (top soup raw)
celery (boil in broth)
mushrooms (boil in broth slightly)
eggs (drop your eggs into already boiling water for exactly 7 minutes, then plunge into ice water and peel -you will have a perfectly set white and creamy yolk)
cabbage (boil in broth slightly)
broccoli/cauliflower (boil in broth slightly)
~I think you get the hang of it. Use what you have and what you like. Don't go out of your way!

For the noodles
I recommend something along these lines....
You will want to boil these separate from the soup... Pour the broth over the cooked noodles JUST before serving.

So... put it all together... Bowl, noodles, broth, veg/meat,  spring onion, and hot sauce if you so desire. Make sure to treat your broth like sauce rather than soup, as it will be very strong in flavor, but OH SO GOOD!


Catching Up

Hey Y'all! Sorry I've been absent from the blogosphere... I don't know exactly what my issue is, but I just haven't been feeling the garden and blogging thing lately. Perhaps my lack of participation in the June blogathon due to lack of technology got me out of the habit and I just never bounced back. I don't know.

But anyways, even though I've been negligent when it comes to the garden, it is still producing! We have eggplants coming out of our ears, the tomatoes are FINALLY starting to come on, the peppers are having a record year, and I actually got enough cucumbers to can after last year's total lack of, well, anything.

I have put up about 9 pounds of kale (another huge harvest will happen on Thursday), 11 quarts of dill pickles, 6 pints of pickled jalepenos, and just this morning I roasted 6 large eggplants for the freezer and charred a tray of chilis, also for the freezer.

Don't count on me being around much in the near future... This year is my FINAL year of school! Woot! But that also means I will be in a classroom full time and taking regular classes... Husband and I have actually scheduled time for each other in our calendars each week since we will NEVER see each other. How freakin pathetic is that???

We are going on a big vacation next week to Boston, so I will be sure to post lots of pictures for y'all to enjoy in my absence :)

Hope all is well, thanks for sticking with me!


Ugh... Blossom End Rot

Ughh.... Blossom end rot... Dang it!!! When I planted the tomatoes, I did just as Granny prescribed and put in ground up eggshells and a ground up aspirin tablet. I even amended this bed with peat moss...


I checked all the tomatoes and these were the only two victims so far. The cherry tomatoes all seem to be fine. I just can't grow big tomatoes!!!


Picture Project

Since I got my fancy new camera, I have been obsessed with taking pictures - aren't you lucky my faithful readers???

I want to do something like this in my house (this is totally Pinterest inspired FYI)

The first thing that needs to happen is that I need to start collecting frames... I gathered a BUNCH from a city-wide garage sale a few weeks ago, and I got around to painting them! I want them all to match in color, but not necessarily size or style, and that is exactly what I got!

Some of these were REALLY ugly, but I found that the uglier they were before, the cooler they were after!

I even painted the frames that were already black... I wanted all the frames to be the same color black, the same finish, and lets face it... Frames from garage sales usually have some dings and scratches that need to be covered up. I painted the front and the backs of all the frames.

After the frames were dry enough for me to touch, I hung them across an old board so that they could cure and I could clean up the driveway. All I need to do now is clean up the glass that was in them, and get some pictures printed! Oh yeah, and I need to build those shelves....

For the frames and paint, I think I spent a grand total of $25... The paint I used I would not recommend sadly... It was kind of a pain to use as it really liked to spurt out big globs of paint when the sprayer button was first pressed... Every. Single. Time. I gave up doing the spray/move, spray/move I was taught all my life and just held the button down. I'm sure I wasted a lot of paint, but I didn't want globs all over my frames!

Now THAT'S a Sammich!

Sometimes, I kill me! I made up this easy recipe last summer when we were experimenting with veganism, and tonight, I mastered it!

I sliced up zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, and left whole some large portobello mushrooms whole then laid them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and drizzeled them lightly with olive oil, generously with balsamic vinegar, and topped with a sprinkling of steak seasoning blend. They roasted at 400 for about 40 minutes (flipped once, halfway through). While they were roasting, I did the dishes, and caramelized some onions.

Once the veggies were done (I USED to just top some bread with them and call it a day) I slathered some bread with veganaise (regular mayo, dijon mustard, or hummus would also be awesome!) and then layered in my veggies with the addition of spinach, and grilled it on my grill pan and pressed it with another cast iron pan.



Zucchini Fail

Remember when I presented my grand experiment of the season? Zucchini in pots? Weren't they so pretty???

Then a few weeks later, they looked this this... And I was so flippin excited!!!!

Well, here is how they look today.... And I am NOT so flippin excited....

I will be pulling these things from there pots sometime this week. We got a grand total of TWO squashes. That's it. You know, in a few weeks when y'all are sneaking your extra zukes into unlocked cars and flinging them at passerbys, and trying to feed them to your chickens and pigz and even THEY are sick of them, you can just send them my way because I am in zucchini withdrawal.... 


Cleaning Out the House

I've been in a "lets get this dang house cleaned out" kind of mood lately, and today I purged all my old magazines from their tidy containers of dust. Sorry, I didn't think about before and after pics until too late.

I realized that I uses to get magazines when I was a professional traveler to have something to pass my time on the plane. I then neatly filed them by title and date, to reference later on. WHO in their right mind actually references them later on?!?! Not me, I can tell you that. I swept up the thick layer of dust from the shelf and put our printer paper supply in the magazines place (rather than keeping it where it was on the floor and all over the desk rendering it useless.)

The local school has one of those community paper recycling dumpsters, so that is where everything went. Check with your local city about recycling laws and available options so that when you feel like purging useless junk, you know where to take it to dispose of it properly.

I'm thinking next on my list is my storage room!

Oh and a computer update! I finally had my motherboard replaced only come to find out that the thing needs a new battery as well. So, same old issue, same old wait, wait, wait. At least I can blog!


Coming to You Live! From a Computer!

The computer is still broken, but it is in my possession and works as long as it is plugged into a wall. So here are just some pics to keep y'all happy until I update the pics again. These date back to about 2 weeks ago, and the yarden has really changed, so I need to take new pics. Enjoy!


Computer Update #5

Got a call from the computer guys (whose fault this is not, I must keep reminding myself) that ASUS has given them an ETA for my motherboard of Monday! So hopefully, I will get the laptop back by Wednesday and I can be uploading all my new pics for you guys by the end of the holiday weekend. Woo!!

Hopefully, knock on wood, fingers and toes crossed, and all that jazz, everything goes well and the part really does arrive on time.


Computer Update #4

Well... Shit... The part still hasn't arrived to the repair center... I called and raised hell and will be picking up my computer (probably later today or tomorrow) UNrepaired so that I can at least use it plugged into the wall while these dudes wait for my new motherboard.

Its been 3 weeks and I am severely irritated.

Dear ASUS - I hate you.


Another No-Computer Update and Harvest Monday

STILL without proper technology, I am typing from school. Ugh. Apparently, Asus changed their ordering system for parts, so my future motherboard has fallen victim to technology screw-ups and the repair people are at the mercy of the vendor, so here I am, computer-less going on week 3.

I actually have a ton of stuff to tell you guys about, and am really bummed that I haven't been able to keep up with the June Blog-athon. So here is a list of coming attractions:

Harvest Mondays! I have pics!
New camera! I am REALLY excited about this one!
Chickens and Eggs!
Yarden Produce Preservation! (Already!!!)
Neighborhood pics!
School Stuff!

I suppose in the spirit of Harvest Monday, I can dish on what we have gotten so far.

Peas: 9 lbs 12 oz
Kale: 4 lbs 8 oz

Cherries will be picked tonight, so I will dish about those next week. This year they will be going into the dehydrator, as we still have preserves left over from last year. Peas will be going into the freezer tonight, and so will the kale. I have more kale to pick, so that will be added onto next weeks totals as well.

Question! How do you guys add a gadget to the side of your blogs that display your harvest totals? I really want to add that, but I have no idea how. I suppose I could just create a gadget and update it every week, but that seems like a pain. Any ideas??



Hey all! Coming to you from my tablet, so you know how desperate I am. I got a call from the computer doctor, and he is STILL waiting on a part for my laptop. It apparently needs a new motherboard, kind of an important thing.

Just some quick updates...

I spent my weekend computerless and built an entire swing set for my nephew. By myself. The instructions said "two men, 12 hours." It didn't take into account that women are smarter than men, and it took me 6 hours. Speaking of men....

I was gone for an entire total of 36 hours. Want to know what I came home to? (I'm supremely irritated, I wish you could see my face) Chickens had no food, Fuzz (outside kitty) was locked in the garage foodless and waterless, cats had no food, and the flowers in pots were half dead. It is apparent that when the yardener leaves the homestead in the charge of Hubby, even for only a day, all hell breaks loose. I'm just happy no one ended up dead. Still irritated as hell, but thankful..

Veggies are doing well, I am fighting the feral cats right now... They have worms, and they poop in my beds, and then my gross dog eats it, so then she had worms... Every one is healthy and has been medicated since I last posted, but now we have to take all kinds of precautions in the yarden so as to not re-worm (is that even a word?) the dog and possibly the inside cats simply from our shoes. Ugh. I hate animals sometimes.

I have lots of pictures to show you guys, and lots of stuff to talk about, but it is going to have to wait until I can get the pics off of my camera.

I really miss my computer :(


No Computer

I know I dedicated myself to blogging every da for the month of June, but my computer died. Well, kind of. It started this thing where it only wanted to work when it was plugged into the wall. I took it to the store where I purchased it (big shout out to Microcenter! Love you guys!) and they diagnosed it and said I need a new motherboard. THANK GAWD the thing was still under the manufacturer's warranty.

This post is coming courtesy of my tablet, which is not the most friendly to use to blog, so I just wanted to drop in and say sorry I haven't been keeping my end of the bargain! The computer should be back to me by the end of this week, so hopefully I will be back to blogging next weekend.



Yarden at the Beginning of June

I know, I'm supposed to post every day. I'm working on it. Here is a complete profile of the yarden in pics. Enjoy!

Front Yarden - The hydrangea is coming back really nicely!

The little unexpected hydrangea I cut from the other one is doing really well too. I have high hopes it!

Might be able to get a little harvest from the kale soon!

Back Yarden



Peppers and Eggplant

Peas - Lots of flowers, but no actual peas yet... 

Cucumber bed is finally planted. I got it in a little late, but better late than never!

Chicken coop decor

Umbrella stands with flowers! Well, it will have actual flowers eventually...


Blog-Post-Athon and Zucchinis in Pots

Carolyn over at Krazo Acres, as well as many other blogger have noticed a decline in blog posts as of late, and is passing on the idea of a blog-post-athon to get us all back in the habit. I missed yesterday, but I was busy! I am sure that this lull will pick up once everyone is relatively done with their spring/early summer gardening/farm chores (are we ever really done?) and has the time to blog again. But I'm gonna give it a go anyways. I know that I am reading everyone's blogs, but I just don't comment often. I don't know why, because I know that I LOVE comments on my blog, so I will also make an effort to comment more in addition to posting regularly.

Today I bring you my zucchini. I decided to have a go in pots just to see what would happen. Last year's monster zucchini that took up an entire bed were more than I could handle in terms of sheer annoyance. I purchased a smaller compact variety this year, hoping that they would do well in my pots. The red pots shown here are about 12 inches across at the top and the black pot is about 24 inches across at the bottom.
excuse the real estate sign... They are everywhere around this place!

They seem to be doing well so far, I will make sure to keep you guys posted throughout the season of course. 

Have any of you put zukes or other squash in a pot? How did it go?


Getting Mentally Prepared for Fall and Winter

Yeah, you read that right. Even though summer hasn't even officially hit, I'm already planning for the upcoming seasons. This fall will bring a whole round of challenges:

1. School will be insane. I won't get home until 7-9 PM 3 nights per week, and I will have lots of papers, lesson plans, research, and licensure stuff to complete.

2. Produce from the farm. I am expecting to harvest the squash the last weekend in September. I will be in the midst of my practicum. I will have to process hundreds and hundreds of pounds of squash. I am NOT letting it all go to waste like last year. Last year was an epic fail in terms of squash.

3. Just typical yarden stuff. Cleaning up for fall, dissasembling the chicken run/coop, etc... Yeah, this batch of chickens is going to be retired after the garden walk. They are too curious for their own good (never getting barred rocks or RI reds again), and they aren't producing anymore. We get MAYBE 1 egg per day from 4 hens. I guess this isn't really a fall chore, just a regular pain-the-butt chore. They are staying until after the garden walk though, because I registered under the "attraction" of laying hens. I can't let down the adoring public!

So here is how I plan on dealing with some of this junk... This summer I am going to focus a LOT of energy on creating a frezzer full of goodies so that we aren't driven to eating chinese takeout and pizza 5 days a week. I found on Amazon these containers and these containers which I plan on making lots of soups, stews, chilis, curries, side dishes, sauces, stocks, and whatever else that can be frozen for later consumption.

I plan on making a TON of tomato sauce this summer. I usually can diced tomtoes or just freeze the cherry tomatoes for making into sauce later, but this year will be different. I do NOT want to end up with a freezer full of "ingredients," but rather a freezer full of ready-to-go goodness. All I want to have to do is make rice/noodles/potatoes to go with our dinners. Even hubby can handle making pasta for pete's sake!

I also plan on making a bunch of ready-to-go slow cooker meals like I have done in the past. I have learned which meals work and which one's dont, so I will be updating that link for everyone also.

Another tactic I plan on enacting is prepping on Sunday. You guy's don't know this, but I am really trying to get serious about running. (Ok, this week hasn't been so good, but hey, it happens) I have my training schedule planed out through December. Sundays are my rest days (from running!) so I plan on using that extra time to do my shopping if needed and to prep for the week. I want to be able to just pull out a smoothie pack for breakfast (freezer upstairs) and a big mason jar salad to take with me for lunch (which doesn't have to be in a mason jar.. afterall I will have 150 plastic containers at my disposal). And then before I leave for afternoon classes, I want to toss in a crock pot meal or pull out a dinner to thaw and heat up (freezer) right before I walk out the door.

Chelsea is another issue, albeit a tiny one. I will have to prep her week's worth of food on Sundays also. Not a big deal, I will just have to get my rhythm and grover down early. Again, I will do whatever I have to in order to take care of my furbabies.

I think I have everything covered, but if you guys have any tips for me, please share! I know I won't be the only crazy busy one out there, so I know everyone can benefit from help!


Farm Planting

This past weekend we went down to my Momma's to hang out for the holiday and get some farm work in. Luckily for us, Hubby's dad did most of the work, but we still had to till over the plot again. No biggy though, Hubby tilled and I planted behind him. We got just over 100 mounds of squash planted - 6 rows of butternut, 4 rows of pumpkin, 4 rows of acorn, and 1 row of buttercup acorn. Here is the tour of the farm:
View from the barn towards the road

View from the road towards the barn
Part of the squash patch, only about 1/4 of it

My father-in-law's bean trellis

FIL's melons

FIL's corn rows - he likes to plant these in small sections about 3 weeks apart so he isn't harvesting barrels of corn all at once. 

Top part of the garden, we tilled this up and put 2 rows of squash at the very end. 
And no farm post is complete with some pictures of the most awesome farm dog!