A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Week in Paradise: Vieques, Puerto Rico - Day 2

After our breakfast and my morning walk on our little beach, I walked up to the hotel office to inquire about getting ourselves to Culebra for a day sometime during our visit.  Culebra is the third island that makes up Puerto Rico. It is smaller yet than Vieques and we thought it might be fun to island hop to check it out. They gave me some information about the available flights and prices and I took that back to Shane to discuss.  It appeared we would have to spend a whole day on the island, taking a 9am flight and returning at 5pm, so we would want to be sure of our plan. While the woman spoke with someone at the airline (you have to take an air taxi to get there from Vieques or spend 3 hours on ferries each way - no thanks!), I noticed this great old sign with the original beach names and the new ones assigned by the NAVY during their presence.

Our first goal as we set out for the day was to check out the grocery store for a few things. We were looking for snacks, sunglasses for Shane (he forgot his) and sunscreen. We had made a couple quick stops the day before without much luck at local markets. Today, we found a much nicer, well stocked super market that actually had loose veggies (instead of having to buy two saran wrapped onto styrofoam - eww) and a nice selection of other things. The only snack we picked up were strawberries, but we got the sunscreen we were looking for. An employee suggested we try BlackBeard Sports for sunglasses, so we made our purchases and headed to downtown Isabel II.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Week in Paradise: Vieques, Puerto Rico - Day 1

While waking up without an alarm was magical, we did end up rising considerably earlier than we expected, largely because of the time change.  Vieques is on Atlantic Time and does not observe daylight savings time.  During our visit, that meant the time was an hour ahead of home.  The timing was good since we knew we needed showers and breakfast before we called for our rental car, which was to be ready for us at 9. As we stepped out onto our patio, the view was breathtaking. A little sliver of rainbow danced on the horizon, adding some joy to the beginning of our trip.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Week in Paradise: Vieques, Puerto Rico - Traveling there

The evening before we left, we dropped our dogs off to my mother so she could make sure they were looked after while we were away.  Our dogs love having visits with her and her animals, so it works out well.

Up before the sun, our friends, John and Chris, met us at our home to take Lexi to school and us to the airport.  They had offered a few weeks before to avoid us having to pay to park a car at the airport for a week and we could not be more grateful for their help.

We arrived with plenty of time to get some breakfast and make it to our gate to wait for our flight.  Traveling for work, flying has become much less exciting to me than it used to be.  However, on this day, I got to sit next to my favorite person in the world, which made the trip spectacular!

Mother nature did a fabulous job of reminding us whey we chose to take our honeymoon in the winter... snowing while we waited to take off, and causing the need for two rounds of deicing before we could do so safely.

A quick check of the weather app on my phone confirmed the disparity in weather that we would soon be enjoying.  A nice 55 degree gap in temperature would be a welcome change from the winter doldrums in Michigan.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The $613.00 Chocolate Bar

While traveling in Texas last week, I stayed at the cutest little boutique hotel.  There weren't many decent choices for lodging, aside from pricey Bed and Breakfast spots. When I found The Hangar (check it out here), I was thrilled by the price and the World War two themed decor and overall style of the accommodations.

It's been built to look like an airplane hangar and is located at Gillespie County Airport, a quaint airstrip for small planes.

Folks fill The Hanger on the weekends (only 50 rooms total) and unique gatherings are held in their themed conference center and ballroom. For example, there was a gathering of Pearl Harbor survivors and Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) spent some time there filming once. It has an observation deck for watching planes and a super cool 40's Diner that serves only lunch.

I'm told Thursday through Saturday they have live music in the Captain's Lounge and that it is quite the soiree!

I had a hankering for a bite of chocolate as I settled into my room for the night, so I asked the desk clerk, Carol, where I could find the vending machines. She explained that because the hotel was kept as much in true "1940s" fashion, they didn't have any. I could walk over to the airport terminal and purchase one from a basket that was on the honor system (in the dark) if I wanted.  I passed.

I went up the pretty staircase to my room and put on my pajamas and turned on the television.  My phone rang a short while later. Carol had walked over to get me some chocolate and wanted to bring it up to me.

Being an absolutely amazing and sweet lady, she brought me this glorious snack (which hit the spot!).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  We have all heard that.

Few can deny saying it at some point in their childhood.  Is there truth in it? Not really. Words really can and do hurt. Most of us can let some silly things roll off like water on a duck's back, but negativity eats away at our emotional armor and those things get through and penetrate deep into a person's well-being.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Walnuts - Part 2

Having woken up with very sore hands, arms, shoulder and back, I decided I really did need to find another way to husk these treasures without quite so much abuse to my system. (If you missed reading Part 1, here it is.) I had read about people driving over them, but worried about that crushing the actual nutmeats and ruining my labors. At this point, I was absolutely up for the risk... so when my mom offered her limestone driveway as a place to husk the nuts "smarter, not harder," I went for it! Shane loaded the second 100+ pounds into the truck and off I went!

Do you see the white creepy crawly visitor coming out of the husk of the walnut? That's a husk fly larvae. They live their entire lives in the husk and cause no damage to the nut itself. They are gross, and really work to soften the husk, which I found just made it easier for me to remove (once I got over them being so yucky). :-)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black Walnuts - Part 1

While on a trip to the west side of Michigan camping for Shane's birthday, we discovered a hickory tree that was dropping its bounty.  That bounty needed rescuing... I was sure of it! :-)

I gathered over several days as they fell in the wind and rain and we easily removed the green husks to reveal the tasty nuts encased in their shells.

While out and about, I also gathered some acorns for crafts, and the leaves from the respective trees for reference.

When we came home, I spent time learning about them, and discovered I would need a special nutcracker to make lighter work of removing the shells, once they were allowed to dry and ready to be cracked.  The same nutcracker was also designed for the very tough to crack black walnut, should I ever have a chance to get hold of some of them.