Thursday, September 27, 2012


I have about five minutes to blog before my Internet access goes away for the weekend. So, here goes:

1) I need to clean my room. Badly. And make my bed. And finish unpacking. And I really wish I'd gone ahead and bought that storage trunk and matching nightstands when I had the money, because now it looks like I won't be able to afford it for awhile. :(

2) I realized on Monday while getting my nails done, that I had subconsciously painted my chicken coop with the exact same color scheme as my favorite nail salon. I'm not sure what this means.

3) Speaking of nail salons... I got my first French mani done on Tuesday. I'm hoping it counts as "natural" enough to not antagonize my nail-polish-hating father while still protecting my ridiculously brittle nails from splitting and peeling.

3) I also realized today while doing some mental inventory-taking that while I have an entire kitchen packed away in bins downstairs, and own enough furniture to make a go of furnishing at least a studio apartnmnt, I don't own a single towel. No, wait - I do. I own exactly one towel, a Wawa beach towel I won back when I was working for the company. Perhaps I should start thinking about buying some the next time they go on sale?

4) I'm accomplishing stuff on my bucket list! I just need to do an update post. Which, seeing as I'll have no Internet access, is not gonna happen this weekend.

5) This week, I've essentially run on coffee. :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Game Day Food

Or, Catastrophe!!!

It's football season! Not that I care about this, lol... the only way I know it's football season is because all my guy friends on Facebook start posting game-related statuses. :)

I'm not a huge sports fan. I like to watch soccer, and I can even stand the rare basketball game, but football? Eh. However, one thing about football season does make me happy - wings! For some reason I've been craving hot wings lately, so I decided to make Wednesday night "game night" and indulge everyone!

I should add that when Allen, my bro, found out what I was planning to do, he was overjoyed. He can't understand why I don't make Crockpot French Dip every Wednesday - he likes it that much - and it's been a few weeks since I've made it, so I'd promised him that it would be coming up soon, but even he was willing to wait another week if wings were on the menu. :)

Okay. I had a plan. But you know, sometimes a plan goes completely off the track, falls into a lake, sinks to the bottom, and you have to dig it out. Today was one of those times.

Monday night I made a batch of the most amazing barbecue sauce EVER and stuck it in the fridge to meld. :)

On Tuesday night, I poured two packages of mixed wingettes/drumsticks into one crockpot, added the sauce, tossed, and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

I loaded a second crockpot with mixed wingettes and drumsticks, and the most amazing hot sauce ever - 2 cups Frank's Red Hot with a roux of 4 TBS margarine and 4 TBS flour blended in to thicken it. I seriously considered trying Simply Scratch's recipe for hot sauce but in the end decided to make my own. I used to work at a place that made absolutely killer wings, and the owner always insisted that they were great cuz they were simple. :)

The next morning, my sister stuck the pot in the crockpot and and turned on low for the next 8 hours.

At 2 PM, she called me. The chicken wasn't cooking. The crockpot was "warm" despite the fact that it was cranked up on high. What to do?

I told her to leave it, since I figured she might be overreacting, and I knew if push came to shove, I could dump them out into a pan on the stove and get them cooked through.

I got home, and the chicken wasn't cooked, and the crockpot wasn't hot. I putter around, puzzled, and then I notice that the light on the front isn't on. Investigating this, I discover that the strain of having two crockpots running has tripped the breaker (who knows when this happened?!) and that's why nothing is ready.

I decide that this is the least of my problems, and I get busy mixing up dessert (Key Lime Olive Oil Cake).

Actually, because everyone in my family EXCEPT my dad can have duck eggs, but my dad CAN'T have duck eggs (though he can have chicken eggs), and he and two other people are gluten-intolerant (this is like one of those logic puzzles you did in school, right?!?), I made three - one big cake with regular flour and duck eggs for the family in general, one cake with duck eggs but no flour for the two gluten-intolerant-but-can-still-have-duck-eggs people, and one for my dad, with no gluten but WITH chicken eggs. Yes, it was complicated, but they all turned out well, so it was worth it.

Next I mix up a batch of faux blue cheese dressing. Originally I wasn't even going to try to include this, but after I saw that recipes for non-dairy blue cheese dressing are a dime a dozen, I decided to go ahead. Cuz, after all, half the fun of wings is dipping them in blue cheese. :)

This ended up being the. best. blue. cheese. dressing. ever. Even my mom, a former blue cheese afficionado, loved it. Here's the recipe (for my file): Blend one cup mayo with 1/3 cup vegan sour cream, add salt, pepper, 2 TBS apple cider vinegar, a good dash of thyme (or dill - I kind of preferred it with the thyme though), a good dash of garlic powder, and give it a good whisking, then crumble in 1/4 of a block of extra- or super-firm tofu. Let it sit before serving - the tofu will absorb some of the liquid and the flavors meld and ho boy! Good stuff. :)

I fixed easy wedge salads: one head of romaine lettuce chopped into wedges, sprinkled with sliced grapetomatoes, bacon bits, chopped red onion, and drizzled with extra-garlicky blue cheese dressing. :)

I stuck the salad in the fridge, asked Liz to start a pot of rice, and turned the crockpots of wings into cast-iron frying pans and started pan frying, tossing frequently to keep the sauce on the meat.

Results: Wings? Amazing. The barbecue wings were sticky and thick, sweet with a bit of tang and just the slightest hint of garlic, just the way you'd want them to be. The hot wings had the perfect blend of spice; the sauce wasn't quite as thick, but it was flavorful and coated the wings nicely. The rice was a nice tame companion, and the salad was amazing. We all raved about it to each other, and that amazing blue cheese dressing.

So, all's well that ends well... No more dual-wielding crockpots for me, though! :)

Bucket List Update

So I'm a little late with my update, lol. But that's cuz I've been busy doing all the things on my Fall Bucket list!

Okay, so, not all. :) But I've gotten seven since I last updated it!

#4 - I love having photos around me, but I'm so bad about actually going to the store and getting them printed out. This last week, while Abby was at school, I got some coffee and went to the Wal-Mart photo kiosk to print out some photos from this summer, starting with the first day our summer started. It was so much fun looking back at all the memories I've made this summer - spending lots of time with Abby, hanging with good friends around the pool, traveling to Alabama, all facets of the summer drama production, going to concerts, discovering new places, and on and on. :) When I went to the counter to get the prints, I impulsively bought a $1.49 orange mini photo album and went ahead and made a summer flip book. Love it! :) I think this is gonna become a seasonal thing.

#9 - As soon as the weather cooled, my fingers started itching for a crochet hook. :) So far I'm working on a sweater for someone special, and last night I finished a special present for a special birthday boy - a lion hat! :) It looks sort of like this, although larger (since he's turning 1!) and, in my opinion, cuter. :)
#15 - I was super proud of my very own Crockpot Gumbo recipe. :) Try it!

#20 - Um, I've totally read a bunch of new books since the beginning of the month! I just discovered the "free book" list on Kindle and I've been loading up my tablet a couple of times a week. My most recently finished book was Plague. It was good - a pseudo post apocalyptic medical thriller where a pandemic virus is unleashed in Hawaii - but kind of predictable.

#29 - It's been so lovely to be able to sleep with the windows open. This is one of my favorite parts of fall! I love listening to the night wind, the crickets chirping, feeling the breeze through the window, and watching the moon and stars as I fall asleep. :)

#32 - I'm modifying this item to read "/art show" lol! :)

#45 - I did buy a Honeycrisp Apple as soon as I saw them in stores - and man, I'd forgotten how expensive they were! I paid like $1.70 for a single apple!!! - and it was good, but I have to say I'm gonna try again in a few weeks, cuz the selection they had at the store wasn't great. Hopefully in a bit they'll be better!

Coming up this week: our country fair is this weekend (yay!) (#8); I've already brought up my off-season bins of clothing and I'm so looking forward to pulling out my cool weather favorites, packing away my spring clothes, and regaining some precious space in my closet (#13); and next week, I'll be making food for a craft party for a friend who's getting married later this fall and needs some help assembling decorations for the wedding (#17).

Monday, September 17, 2012

ArtsFest 2012

I'm trying to be better about enjoying the amazing activities and resources in the area, so when I got the brochure in the paper for the AnnMarie Gardens Artsfest, I was so excited! The festival sounded amazing, and I was double excited since I've never actually gotten to see AnnMarie Gardens (even though it's less than 30 minutes away).

Maggie and I invited Abby, Chris, and Natalie to go with us, and we had a blast!

Maggie and I arrived a little earlier than the others, and I enjoyed sitting outside of the art studio.
Everything was open to the public today, so adults and kids alike could wander around to the various art stations and create - clay, watercolors, crafts, etc.
Doesn't this look like fun? :)

 We were all hungry, so we went to the food tent area for lunch. There was jambalaya, cajun  chicken, turkey burgers, teriyaki chicken, smoothies, coffee, crabcakes, french fries, etc... Lots to choose from!

I think Abigail found the best choice! :)

The kids area was great - very hands on, lots of exhibits. We couldn't keep Abby still!

After we'd eaten, we decided to walk through the paths that had art displays and vendors. Abigail wanted her picture taken with all the scultures!

"Woman with a shawl"... and a four-year old :)

Aren't these driftwood horses amazing?!

So cool!

We also found this little suspended walkway through part of the woods. Amazing. Maggie and I want one now :)

Evenually we circled around and came to another kid's area.

"Mommy, I NEED a playhouse!"

We also checked out the indoor exhibits for a little while, but all too soon Maggie and I had to leave so I could drop her off at my uncle's house to go sailing. :(

All in all, it was a great way to spend the morning/afternoon, and I can't wait for next year!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Perfect Sunday Afternoon Snack

Happy Sunday! I hope y'all are enjoying your weekend. Mine has been chock FULL of fun stuff, but I gotta admit, it's completely done me in (lol) and I'm kinda looking forward to going back to my quieter weekday routine. :)

I spent yesterday morning at the local outdoor art festival - sooo much fun, but I started sniffling and sneezing after walking around under all the trees, and this morning I woke up at 4 AM with my allergies in absolute hyperdrive. :( I took half a dose of allergy meds and then went back to bed to try to sleep it off, but it didn't really help much.

Whenever my allergies are acting up, I crave carbs. I have no idea why, but I just happened to have this recipe pinned from my newest food blog find, Eat Live Run (go check it out - amazing!).  When I first read about an "olive oil cake" I was like... "Hmm?" But luckily I was curious instead of repulsed, and after reading the recipe I couldn't stop imagining it. The slight fruitiness of the olive oil lending richness to the delicate whiff of lemon, the slight crust giving way to the delicate cake inside... mmm. :)

So this afternoon I whipped out my blender and gave it a go.

First off: this recipe is so. easy. It's got eight ingredients, you can mix it up in ten minutes, and then all you have to do is watch it bake. It doesn't need icing. Couldn't be easier.

Here's the original recipe, and here's how I modified it to be more key-lime flavored:

1. Throw four eggs (I used eggs from my very own chickens! Sorry, just had to throw that in there :)) and 1 cup sugar in the mixer, and beat on high for five minutes.
2. While that's beating away,  whisk together 1 cup flower, 1/2 TSP baking powder, and 1/4 TSP salt in a bowl.
3. Mix 6 TBS lime juice and 1/2 cup extra virgin light olive oil (it's worth it to use the most expensive oil you have!) and give it a quick stir to incorporate.
4. Slowly stream oil/juice mixture into mixing bowl and fold in with a rubber spatula.
5. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture - make sure you get everything well incorporated (i.e. no dry lumps!).
6. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9" cake round, and bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 (mine took barely 40 minutes).
7. Let it cool slightly, then turn out onto a plate and dust liberally with powdered sugar. :)


I took it with me to drama rehearsal and it seemed to go over well. I can tell this is gonna become one of my favorite go-to recipes: it doesn't require milk (which I rarely have on hand) or fancy ingredients, and it's so simple. Love.

Have a great Sunday (and a great week!).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday

I was in a total dinner funk this week. No ideas. Or, rather, lots of ideas but nothing I knew my entire family would like. :/ I ended up on the Internet searching frantically through cooking blogs to find inspiration, and voila - suddenly I was back in Alabama...

... sitting in Joe's apartment, my allergies going insanely hyperactive, my nose running like a tap, feeling like a complete. idiot. And in that moment, Joe proved that he was the kind of rare, special guy that knows exactly what to do in a crisis.

He gave me a bowl of gumbo, and brought me cayenne and hot sauce. I used both, and five minutes later, my sinuses had cleared. Amazing stuff. :) And the gumbo was to die for.

My mind was made up. Gumbo it was.

I searched high and low but couldn't find a good crockpot gumbo recipe, so I did a lot of research - reading blogs and recipes and even some articles about the historical roots of gumbo (did you know such a thing existed?) - and with much prayer and crossing of fingers, I decided to strike out on my own and make my own recipe. It ended up being the kind of recipe that's kind of labor-intensive at the beginning, before you shove it in the crockpot, but that's so, so worth it.

Here it goes:

Sarah's Crockpot Gumbo
(Makes enough for nine, with leftovers)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped fine (I want a garlic press for Christmas!!!)
4 large stalks of celery (or enough that you end up with roughly equal parts celery and onion)
1 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb sausage (I used andouille)
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
32 oz chicken stock
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
3 bay leaves
Sage, thyme, cumin, paprika, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper, to taste
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
Gumbo file powder (optional)
Frank's Red Hot
Old Bay (optional)

Onion, garlic, and celery: this is what's referred to as the "holy trinity" of cajun cooking, apparently. :) Add them and a tablespoon or so of oil in a largish skillet (I used cast iron, for once, and it worked great!) and cook on medium-low until softened (but not browned). Add bell peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add sausages and cook, turning frequently, until just browned but not cooked all the way through.

Remove veggies and sausages from pan. Slice sausages into rounds. Add to crockpot. Add chicken.

Now to make a roux:

Heat oil in a pan on low - don't clean it out, all those little bits have a ton of flavor! Whisk in flour. It'll look "funky" as one blogger put it, but trust me. Continue cooking, on low heat, stirring constantly, as it darkens in color. Slow and low! :) If it burns at all or begins to smell overdone, throw it out and start again. You can make yours any depth you'd like - I did mine pretty dark! - but don't burn it.

Add the rest of the chicken stock and whisk. The stock should thicken immediately. Turn off the heat. Add spices as desired - I started out with about a teaspoon of each, and added more as I desired. It was a very intuitive process. :)

Pour the stock over the crockpot, place bay leaves on top, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

One hour before serving, remove chicken breasts from pot, shred, and return to pot; add shrimp.

Right before serving, add a good sprinkle of file powder and stir. This will add a nice taste and fragrance, and it'll thicken the rest of the stock.

Serve over rice (the traditional way!) with Frank's Red Hot (oh yes!) or Old Bay, if you're like me and a proud Marylander who puts Old Bay - not just crab seasoning, lol - on everything. :)

This got a 2 thumbs up from everybody, so I'll definitely be putting it in my "repeat" file! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012


I don't know what's come over me, but lately, I'm absolutely completely totally loving the weekend.

Part of the reason why weekends have never meant all that much to me is that for the last almost-three years, I've had a job I adore. In fact, if I could sleep in every now and then before coming in to work, I'm pretty sure I could work seven days a week indefinitely.

And don't get me wrong - nothing has changed on the work front, and I'm still thrilled to go back to work on Mondays and see my lil sunshine :) - but lately, the slower pace that sets in around the house around Friday has been soaking into my soul.

And it's not even like the last few weekends have been full of incredibly amazing events or anything! It's pretty much just whatever comes up, whatever various members of my family find to get in to. :)

My favorite things:
  • Sleeping in. Oh, glorious sleeping in without setting an alarm clock!
  • Staying up late. Knowing, of course, that in the morning, you can sleep in... :)
  • Enjoying the crisp morning air.
  • Leisurely breakfasts.
  • Packing away the school books and supplies for the weekend.
  • Deep-cleaning until you're sweaty and gross, then jumping in to the pool, fully clothed. :)
  • Spontaneous swims late at night with the stars overhead.
  • Drifting off for an afternoon nap
  • Last minute "internet dates" at the local coffeehouse
  • Wasting a few hours curled up on my bed, reading
  • Getting dressed up in a new outfit to go hear a friend's concert
  • Baking goodies for Sunday school
  • Hanging out in the hammock
  • Late-night marathon Catan or card-game sessions
  • Putting away clean laundry (I don't know why, but I always find this relaxing!)
  • Crafting!
  • Planning out the week and seeing what fun things are in store :)
  • Funny moments in Sunday school and/or church
  • Driving to church on Sunday morning with Maggie
  • Coffee - mm! And "The World's Most Awkward Drive Through" at the Dunkin Donuts in Charlotte Hall :)
  • Late night movie marathons
Anyway. After three days (I am so lucky. Be jealous lol) of weekend, I am completely rested* and ready to go back to work and see my girl.

*Except today, since I randomly woke up at 3 AM and couldn't get back to sleep until a mere 40 minutes before my alarm clock went off. I was ticked. I have no idea what woke me up. Early bedtime for ME tonight! :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blogging Break

I need to clean today. Desperately. And I was procrastinating, laying on my bed reading blogs on my tablet, until I read Kelle's post for today. She, too, is cleaning. But avoiding procrastinating.

The funny thing is, I was doing exactly the same thing: thinking that if I just ran out to get a cup of coffee, sense the energy of a Saturday morning, got a new candle to "inspire" me "as I cleaned" (yeah, right!!!), I would come home and be productive. I had to crack up at how well she had me pegged - just as she would have come home, lit her candle, and lay down, I would have ended up curled on my bed watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, bemoaning the fact that I lived in a room that looked post-apocalyptically messy.

As of right now, I'm not done cleaning, but I have gotten enough done that I feel it justifies a blogging break. :) (Update: I did get most if not all of the cleaning done, eventually.)

Allen and I went on a "date" last night, first to JoAnns so I could pick up some yarn for a crocheted present (and that's the last I'm gonna say, in case the lucky somebody happens to read my blog, lol!) and then to the coffeeshop for some Italian sodas and free wifi. We sat for an hour in the cutest, peaceful-est coffeeshop, he at a table with his laptop and I curled in an oversized leather armchair with my tablet, soaking up the Motown and Soul tunes playing over the radio, sipping the most beautific mandarin-orange soda, downloading free Kindle books with abandon and marveling at how much I loved being alive.

Or, at least, that's what I was doing. Allen was graphing something - something involving lots of mathematical equations and increasing output and changing input and flux capacitors. :) And he was downloading some satellite tracking software? I don't think he was having quite the same experience I was, but we were getting to spend some time together and I guess, in the long run, that's all that matters.

I got six things checked off my bucket list this week! :) Quick recap:

  • #2: Maggie and I went to Starbucks the very first day of September to get some Caramel Apple Spices. A-mazing. I don't really like their Pumpkin Spice latte, but it made me happy that it was in stock. :) However, I DO love Dunkin Donuts and Wawa's pumpkin coffee, so I was ECSTATIC when I found out they had started carrying it again! I may even buy some K-cups to stash at Chris and Natalie's. :)
  • #6: I bought my first Christmas present on Thursday. Predictably, it was for Khy. :) Since he doesn't read my blog, I feel safe in saying that I found the most awesome plastic/fabric-y coloring book that can be colored on with markers, and then rinsed under running water, and it becomes blank again. Magic. :) I've also started on one homemade Christmas gift, even though... yeah. Not going so great. :/
  • #24: Okay, I didn't actually buy a sweater this week, but I did wear it for the very first time! I actually bought it on clearance several weeks ago and have resisted the urge to style it up until it was officially September. It's orange, it's dolman sleeve, it's sooo comfy. Wait - I just realized I did buy a sweater this month - this one! - but I haven't worn it yet. So either way, I'm covered. :)
  • #38: This was one of my favorites! I had fun collecting music and discovered some new jams along the way. Some of my favorite picks that I've been playing over, and over, and over again: Just Breathe and The End by Pearl Jam, Buckets of Rain by Beth Orton, and Come And Find Me by Josh Ritter. 
  • #43: Boots! How I love thee! Now all I need is a really good, cold day to wear them. *sigh* I debated between these and these, but ended up going with the Trixie, and I'm sooo glad I did. I love the beautiful cognac color and they fit beautifully! I've already styled them up with a couple different outfits, but it's just been too warm to justify boots. 
  • #46: Oh, and it was amazing...

What else is new? Oh, yes... On Thursday night, I dyed my hair back to its natural ultra dark state (or as close as I could estimate). While I can tell it looks nice, I already miss the fact that it gets dirty so much quicker when it's dark. Or that I had to throw out all my peach-toned cosmetics because they just looked weird with darker hair. *sigh* Not quite sure what I'm gonna do about this yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday

My mom makes the best chili ever. And I am not a chili lover  - in fact, the only kind of chili I ever crave is my mom's. Unfortunately, my mom makes chili by "feel" - a little of this, a little of than - so there is no existing, written down, formal recipe. Burn! :( However, I finally got her to walk me through what she does to make chili, and modified it just slightly to make it crockpot friendly.

I'm already feeding nine people, and this time I am determined to have enough leftovers to make a second meal, so if you'd only like to make a normal-size batch, just cut the amounts in half. :)

3 pounds ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
4 bay leaves
4 cans of diced stewed tomatoes (no seasonings)
4 cans dark red kidney beans
Cumin, taco seasoning, chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons of beef stock concentrate (or two cubes)

Put ground beef, onion, garlic, and seasonings in crockpot on high until beef is cooked through. Drain fat; add tomatoes, beans, beef stock concentrate, and bay leaves. Season. This can be eaten as soon as it's heated through and the flavors have had a chance to meld, but trust me, it's MUCH better if you leave it on low to simmer all day. :)

Serves eight people hearty servings, with enough leftovers for a second meal - finally! The nice fine texture of this chili makes it especially great over baked potatoes (and cheese and sour cream... *drools*) or hot dogs.

And, of course, if you're cooking chili, you just gotta make some cornbread. It's a RULE. I was exhausted and not up for the challenge of making gluten-free cornbread, so I used a mix (lol) but here's the recipe I'd be using if I were making it from scratch. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chick(ens) Dig New Digs! :)

After months and months of working on it, the new coop is completely ready and installed in the new run!
Okay. Okay. It'll need a front panel once winter sets in. And a better ramp. And I'm not totally in love with the paint job, so it'll probably get repainted at some point. Oh, and I'll be tearing off the roof at some point and replacing it with a shingled roof.
But despite those little things, it's still a fully functioning chicken coop. Which, for now, equals = done.
The coop and run.
Notice the nice door that lets me go in and out without endlessly jiggling the latch and theatening the safety of the curious hens inside. :) And the fact that I can stand up all the way once I'm inside! These are definitely improvements over the old (btw, I do intend to install some 2x4's and a tarp across the roof, both to provide cover in bad weather and to protect against hawks/owls).
A front view (the missing panel will go in the space on the left).
I found out today that the ramp is purely decorative - I set a chicken down on it and she slid all the way to the bottom! However, they don't seem phased by this - they just fly on up. *shrug*
Nice and roomy! And completely lacking in nesting boxes right now - I had originally intended to install them, but since the hens seem perfectly happy laying without them, it's slid to the bottom of the priority list. Plus, the little nests they make in the hay are so. darn. cute.
The back has two doors, allowing for easy cleaning (just slide a wheelbarrow underneath and rake out the dirty straw!) and plenty of access to the inside of the coop. Cuz I am NOT sticking my hands in to get eggs without being able to CLEARLY SEE that there are NO SNAKES. Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen.
See? Cutest little nest ever! (I did give them more straw, though... I wasn't sure how much to give them initially but it looks like they could use a little more).
I have some space under the coop to store my hay in the short-term, plus stick the feeder/waterer where they'll be sheltered from the elements.
The hens were extremely curious about our presence in the run - they were interested in the camera, the buttons on my dress, etc. :)
"Excuse me... what's going on?" :)
Me and my beloved hens!
In my denim dress, no less - rocking my inner farm girl. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


1. I collected three eggs today, which means - fanfare, please! - that all of my hens are now laying. As a reward, I bought a bale of hay to line the inside of the coop (just kidding, lol, I meant to buy the hay yesterday, the day after the new coop was installed in the new run, but I never made it up the road). Despite the fact that the hens seemed perfectly happy laying on the bare floor, they immediately loved the hay, fluffing in it and settling it in and emitting happy-chicken noises. I praised them copiously for their diligence in providing me with fresh, amazing eggs. I love my chickens. The only explanation I can come up with from my rapid metamorphosis from "Ew, chickens are smelly and GROSS!" to "Eee, chickens are ADORABLE!!!" is that my pent-up mothering instinct was desperately seeking an outlet and the three small chicks I bought for an Easter photo shoot just happened to be nearby. Regardless, I'm in love.

2. My allergies have gone completely crazy. I have no idea if it's the fall allergens starting up, or an as-yet undiagnosed food allergy (cringe) (I have an appointment with an allergist coming up - eep!), or what... at first I thought I was getting sick, but one dose of Benadryl and everything cleared up for twenty-four hours, when it started again. Abster is sniffling, too. :( So far, my strategy for dealing with this is to take allergy meds as often as possible, and consume large amounts of caffeinated drinks to counteract the drowsiness brought on by the meds. An imperfect plan, to say the least.

3. Speaking of caffeinated drinks... I pulled up to Dunkin' Donuts today and they had pumpkin coffee back in stock. Glory, glory, hallelujah! I literally did a fist pump and said "Ye-es!!!" very loudly, causing Abigail to raise her eyebrows, lol. This makes the second coffee shop in our area to bring on the pumpkin-flavored drinks. As soon as Wawa gets theirs, we're all set.

4. I wore a new sweater on Sunday. It was orange, it had dolman sleeves, it was the perfect weight, and it made me so outrageously happy. :) I wore it with a black skirt and black loafer wedges, but I can't wait to pair it up with the new skirt I have coming in the mail and the new boots that arrived on Saturday. Today, I wore my new denim shirtdress for the first time (bought it at the thrift store for $6 at the height of blistering summer heat on faith, because it seemed impossible that it would ever be cool enough for me to wear something that heavy, and had the tailor shorten the sleeves for me). All this to say, I love fall clothes!

5. Dare I say it? I know some people will want to kill me just reading this, but... I'm already thinking about Christmas time. Aided, no doubt, by the fact that my family has started rehearsing for the Christmas program, and I start rehearsal next week for the church Christmas cantata (I got the lead!!!), but I'm happily anticipating pumpkin pie, handprint Christmas trees, black friday shopping at 2 AM, picking out the perfect wrapping paper, carols playing nonstop, and hot cocoa. I've totally started writing my winter bucket list. And for the first time ever, Abby seems to be looking forward to the idea of snow. She's told me at least half a dozen times how I'm going to teach her to make a snow angel, and then we're going to make them together; also, that we will go sledding. :)

6. We had the most. amazing. weekend. Normally on long weekend like this, everyone is working on different projects, my dad is trying to get stuff done, but this weekend had an amazing relaxed vibe that felt, honestly, like being on vacation. We stayed up late, we played endless games of Catan, we swam, we snacked, we slept in. I enjoyed it immensely. :)

Back to School

I spent some time on Labor Day mustering the twins and Ruth to help me get the "school closet" cleaned out and organized, and putting together everyone's plan for the year (pulling books, making a list of what I need to order, figuring out which computer which person will use, etc). Today we went back to school! This is especially important to me since this is probably the last year the twins will be homeschooled - I have a feeling that by next year they'll be full-time college students. Time goes so fast!

We have three homeschoolers this year - Allen and Liz (16), and Ruth (12). Anna (19) is also studying from home through an online college this year.

Liz will be taking three classes (4 credits) through the local college this year, one completely online. In addition to those courses, she'll also be taking math, Bible doctrines, biology, and government & economics (one semester of each). Although we're not using a formal curriculum, I'll also be working on her writing skills, doing some final prep for college English next semester.

Allen is taking two separate math courses, including Trigonometry, Bible doctrines, chemistry, government & economics, C++, and English.

Both twins will also be doing some intensive SAT prep, as they'll probably be taking the test next spring instead of next fall.

Ruth will be doing math, science, American history, language arts, spelling, critical thinking skill builders, and reading, reading, reading. I was amazed today to hear just how much her reading has improved through a summer of Maggie's tutoring.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

All Fall!

It's September!

I loooove September. :) It heralds the beginning of Autumn, my FAVORITE season, and even though technically the first day of fall is really more than two weeks away, for me, fall starts NOW.

I celebrated yesterday by going and getting a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks with Maggie (#2 on my Fall bucket list); today I wore a new sweater (#24). I also got my new pair of boots yesterday (#43) although after trying them on for a minute I concluded that it's still really too hot for boots.

Abby starts school this week - an open house on Wednesday, and her first full day on Friday. This is really the only part of fall that I hate - sending her back to school. I miss her! :( But I have lots of fun things planned out - specifically #11, #15, #34, & #35. :)

Lizzie starts school this week too! (This I am excited about. Mostly cuz she's so excited lol) I can't wait to see how she does - not that I have any concerns, I just can't wait to watch her succeed!

Bring it on, Fall! :)