Today, we had another soggy Fresh Fork CSA pick up.  I think Trevor should invest in Gortex running gear for the crew, and maybe some sand bags for the tent.  It was really a smooth pick up.  The kids wanted to wait with me, so they ran around in the rain while I waited in line for our goodies.

Here’s what we were expecting this week:

  • 1 tub (4 oz.) goat milk feta
  • 8 oz. jar of brandied cherry preserves
  • 8 oz. mixed baby greens
  • 1 sleeve of leaf lettuce
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 bag of Mrs. Miller’s dried egg noodles
  • 1.25 lb.s Andouille
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 8 oz. pak choi
  • 2 lbs. onions
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 1 24 oz. loaf of apple pound bread

Here’s a group shot:


I don’t have any immediate plans for the sweet potatoes, but I’m glad that everyone in our house likes them.  I’m thinking of using the ground beef in a crock pot unstuffed cabbage tomorrow.  I only got one pack of beef and I’m checking on that.


I’ve never used Andouille sausage in anything before.  For now, it’s in the freezer and I’ll think of something later.  My husband just found a sweet potato and Andouille recipe that sounds promising.  The goat cheese will disappear on crackers and toast.  Cheese never lasts long in our house.


Greens disappear without much effort and these will be no exception.  We need to keep our veggie intake up to balance the cookies this week.


I have all of the ingredients for French onion soup and will make it in the next day or two.


The Brussels sprouts and pak choi will make good sides this weekend.


Apple pound cake is a new one for us.  I’m sure it will be eaten quickly once we taste it.  The noodles will be in the cupboard for a few weeks since they aren’t perishable.  We still have turkey in the freezer, so some soup may be in order.


We aren’t cooking a ham for Christmas, but I’m sure these preserves will be tasty no matter how we enjoy them.  I’m considering making homemade jelly doughnuts for Christmas.  Maybe they will have cherry filling.


I also splurged on extras this week.  We were out of eggs and still wanting to do some baking this week.  The breakfast patties were so good when we had them before, so I couldn’t turn them down.  I wanted to try some local eggnog.  The bacon will be in the freezer for as needed in recipes.  The spinach pasta was dinner tonight.  I can’t remember the individual prices, but our total was $28.


I’m excited for the holidays this week and hope to enjoy cooking a few meals at home.  Eating out really does get old, but sometimes it’s definitely the easy way out.


Usually my Grandma has a Christmas party the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, her party was on December 17th this year.  It sure felt early!

The party was at my aunt and uncle’s house.  They also host Thanksgiving.  The Christmas party is much calmer and less hectic.  There was family, food and fun!  There were 4 main courses to the evening.  They included pizza, salad, cookies and drinks.  My uncle home brews beer and there’s always a new beer to try.  There are also usually some shots of sorts throughout the evening.

No family affairs are complete without a game of Scrabble.  We have some really good players in our family.  Although it’s a 4 person game, routinely it’s played in teams so more people can play.

My aunt is good at getting toys out for the kids.  Nick and Sally were the only two kids at the party and after pizza, a tub of Legos appeared.


Nick enjoyed checking them out.  It’s so cool that his Great Grandma will get down on the floor and play with him.  It’s so precious to build awesome memories!


Sally liked all of the little pieces.  She’s still a bit little for them, but she had an audience, so I wasn’t worried.  My aunt’s tree was tall and slender and looked great with all of the Grandma’s packages around it.


Sally and Aunt Carol take the best photos together!

This clock on the wall cracks me up.  It’s more than 15 inches across and has a prominent spot on the wall.  The funny thing is that everyone is always asking what time it is and everyone is always looking at their phone for the answer.  Sometimes things are too obvious.


Aunt Melissa gave us this pink comforter and a few pillows for Sally.  The kids fell in love immediately.  And, so did Aunt Carol.  It was getting late.


Soon after these photos, it was time for pajamas and the drive back home.  We took a few detours to look at the awesome Christmas lights in their neighborhood.

 Posted by at 6:55 PM

Today was just one of those days.  It started by the kids waking us up at 7:15AM.  Usually, we are up by 6:30AM at the latest with an alarm.  My husband was running late for work and Nick was picking this morning to have one of the longest temper tantrums ever.  It’s really not that hard to use the bathroom and get dressed before you play.  Today, he thought I was asking way too much.

Stephen left for work and the kids and I finished getting ready for the playroom.  This is when I go to the JCC to workout and then go to the Kid Kare spot to play.  We had a tough time getting out the door and had to stop at the post office on our way.  I finally had our Christmas cards ready to mail.  It’s actually pretty good timing for us.  I think everyone will have them before Christmas.  I didn’t want to go into to post office, so I pulled up by the drive through mail box.  I got out of the car to get the cards, which were neatly stacked in a box and they fell over.  About 20 of the cards landed on the ground.  I’m glad it was mostly dry in the lot.  If you get a smudged card, you’ll know why.  We paired our list down (by more than 1/2) this year, but still mailed over 100 cards.  I love holiday cards!

By the time we arrived at the J, I already knew that spin class wasn’t going to happen.  I could have rushed the kids and made it to class, but some days it’s just not a good idea.  We had 3 errands to run after the J and I didn’t feel like spending a whole hour in class.  Of course, I had to explain this to the instructor since I ran into her on the way in.  I ended up walking the track for a bit with a friend and then headed to the fitness center to spin on an ESpinner.  I wasn’t feeling it so I ended up on the elliptical.

After a quick shower, I picked up the kids and headed to the lobby area for snack time.  After sweeping up tons of pretzels, crackers, Cheerios and other snack items from the car the other day, I decided on no more eating in the car.  Now, we need to plan and extra 10 minutes before we go anywhere to have snacks, but I feel like the kids are enjoying them more and we are wasting much less.

We needed to go to the UPS store to ship packages, the camera store to pick up some developed film and to Heinens.  Lucky for us, all three of these are in the same parking lot in Pepper Pike.  By now it’s past 11AM and the kids are starting to get hungry for lunch (despite just having a snack).  We went to the UPS store first.  The line wasn’t too long.  I had all of the packages and address and my credit card all ready to go.  A lady was making a zillion copies on the copier and Nick was very interested.  She had him helping and he loved it.  I don’t think the lady knew that she could feed the whole stack of papers at once and I didn’t want to screw her up or lose my place in line.  But, it was painful to watch her copy them one by one.

When it was my turn and the clerk figured out that I hadn’t shipped from there before, I needed my ID.  That should be an easy request.  But, my purse is a mess and I never know where anything is.  So, I excused myself from line to look for it.  I found it quickly and was back in business.  The kids were quite antsy at this point and I was pretty done too.  $50 later, the two packages were shipped.  Apparently, they charge you extra to ship breakable things.  I thought it was ridiculous, since the heavier box was only $13, but I quickly decided that the packages were no longer waiting to be shipped and I didn’t have to go anywhere else with them.  Next year, I will box everything myself and probably use the post office.  I think that’s more reasonable.

After leaving the UPS store, we headed to Dodd Camera.  I picked up the CD and asked a couple of questions.  They actually talked me out of a purchase.  I was happy for their expertise, but surprised that they said not to buy what I asked about.

Heinen’s was painful since everyone was hungry and crabby by this time, but we got milk, yogurt, bananas, and a few other items before heading home.  I fed the kids some bread in the car for lunch and we subsidized it with other food at home.  I didn’t even realized they had eaten in the car until we got home.  Nick said, “at least we didn’t spill any mommy.”

I was super glad that we all took naps this afternoon.  I think the long weekend of festivities caught up with us.  We did a craft this afternoon and hung out at home.  Stephen worked late and did some shopping on the way home, so we had a weird evening.  I’m happy the cards and packages are taken care of and most of our shopping is done as well.  The holiday rush is crazy and the crowds and lines get longer as the week goes on.

I’m looking forward to a few fun events this week followed by some relaxing family time this weekend.  I’d hope for a white Christmas too, but that looks out of the question.  It’s December 19th and there’s 50 degrees in the forecast.  Bring on the snow, we have skiing to do!

 Posted by at 8:24 PM

I’ve been working on a Naturalist Certificate from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  We need to accumulate 150 hours total over a variety of discipline areas.  Most of my hours to date have been from taking classes at the museum.

Yesterday, I ventured out on a hike.  This took place at the Burkholder Preserve in Ashtabula County.  Did you know that the museum owns over 5,000 acres of land in Ohio?  It’s impressive.

This 24.9 acre property was purchased in 2009.  It’s draw was its location along part of the Grand River and some flora that isn’t found at other museum properties.

About 15 people participated in the hike.  I was really glad that it snowed!


All of the participants were dressed properly for the winter weather.


We had many awesome views.




We concluded our hike with a trek back to the road where we had left our cars.


Stanley Stine and Garrett Ormiston led the hike.  I can’t wait for the next one!


It’s hard to believe that this was the last Geauga Family Farms CSA pick up for the winter.  Once again, Stephen and the kids went to St. Noel to pick up our share.  I had a scheduled hike that began at 10AM in Ashtabula County.

Here’s a group shot of what we received:


Let’s take a closer look:

Wheat bread (not 100%), Swiss chard


Radishes, very large sweet potato


Lettuce, spinach


Cabbage, turnip




We were getting pretty low on produce.  Before this pick up we had a small head of cabbage and a little bit of lettuce left.  Most of these items are quite welcome in our fridge.

We’ve had many meals out this week, but I’m happy to say that after tonight, I don’t have any meals planned out this entire week.  Eating at home will make it very easy to use our veggies.

I’ll probably make unstuffed cabbage again.  It’s easy and freezes well.  Stephen sliced the bread so we could freeze it.  I’ll make Harvard beets again.  It’s an easy recipe and everyone likes them.

I never know what to do with the turnip, but last time I made some turnip and potato soup that turned out well, so I am guessing that will make an encore appearance.

The spinach will get used in a pasta dish or quiche this week.  We’ve been cooking the chard with some onion, spice and Balsamic vinegar.

I’m looking forward to cooking a few local fresh meals at home.


Nick will be 4 in February.  He’s mostly potty trained and learning to dress himself.  Lately, he’s really wanted to be helping whenever I am doing chores.  I decided that we need to make him a list of chores.  We haven’t came up with a specific schedule, rewards or allowance.  I think it’s good to start with a list and figure out what is within his capability.  Whenever I am working on things around the house, I now find myself thinking about whether Nick (or even Sally) could do this or a modified version.

Here’s our starting list:

  • put pajamas and underwear in the bathroom in the morning so it’s ready for bath time
  • put away silverware
  • put away dishes (anything that goes in the lower cupboards)
  • bring trash cans in from the curb
  • put new trash bags in our waste paper baskets
  • put dishes in the sink after a meal
  • hang up coat
  • straighten shoes in the kitchen
  • vacuum carpet
  • take clothes out of the dryer
  • sort laundry

Lately, Nick hasn’t been taking naps.  I’m starting to use that time to teach him various skills and chores that will help him in everyday life.  I think it’s good for him to learn how to take care of things for himself.  Eventually, Nick will have a schedule for his chores and Sally will have some too.  For now, I am enjoying all of the help I get.  I’m also enjoying the days when he still takes a nap.

 Posted by at 11:31 PM  Tagged with:

Between my MCL class two tear in May, physical therapy, a busy summer and more recent knee injury, I haven’t worked out with a trainer in a few months.

Now that my knee is better, I decided that I needed to step it up with regard to my workouts.  I’ve become rather lazy with them lately.  It turns out that I had 3 trainer sessions left, so I scheduled them for the next three weeks.  There’s no reason to wait until January!

Today, I worked out with Pauline.  She has a great personality and I’m hoping that this is the beginning of many great workouts.

I’m not going to stress about my weight during the next couple of weeks.  I feel good about making exercise a priority and feel that the weight loss will follow.

I’m excited to get a good workout plan in place and raise the bar!

 Posted by at 9:54 PM

Back in the middle of November, I did a post on our freezer inventory.  Last week I got to thinking about our pantry.  I did a good job of freezing some of our favorite fruits like peaches and blueberries, but I also spent a considerable amount of time canning this summer.  It dawned on me that I don’t have a good list of what we made and that will make it hard to decide what to make for next season.

So, I’ve done my best to summarize each item that I canned this summer and its current inventory in our pantry.  Our house has a canned cupboard and it’s actually being used for its intended purpose.  It’s also fun to look at this list because we picked most of the items personally at local farms.  The exceptions being tomatoes and pears.

item amount canned in inventory 12/14 unit
pear sauce 22 18 quarts
chopped pears 6 0 quarts
applesauce 18 13 quarts
chopped apples 2 0 quarts
peach jam 8 7 pints
peach honey 5 5 1/2 pints
sliced peaches 28 25 quarts
strawberry jam 6 3 1/2 pints
strawberry- vanilla jam 9 7 1/2 pints
strawberry -lemon butter 4 4 1/2 pints
apple-plum sauce 6 5 pints
tomato sauce 9 8.5 gallons
blueberry jam 3 2 pints

I think it will be good to revisit this list every once in a while to make sure we don’t forget what we have and to get an idea of how much we really use during a given year. I already know that we need many more quarts of chopped pears next season!


Last night, we went to the Country Lights at Farmpark.  It was such a great experience!  This post is rather picture heavy.  I had a hard time choosing photos.  We are members of Farmpark, so our tickets were really reasonable.  I think the 4 of us got in for $14.00.  Tickets go on sale in October each year.  We actually bought our tickets several weeks ago.  I think every night sells out each year.  It runs for about 3 weeks.

We were greeted by a snowman family and a swan family.  We arrived just as it was getting dark.


We stopped for a visit with Santa.  We haven’t figured out exactly what to tell Nick and Sally about Santa.  So far, they know he’s a character and there are stories about him.  They don’t know to ask him for stuff and we are fine with that.


There was a train exhibit in the classroom.  Nick was particularly fond of it.  He even asked a couple of questions.


We had a 6PM time for the wagon ride.  It turns out that we could ride the wagon at anytime.  Next year, we’ll know to wait in the workshop line first, then move on to other activities.  I don’t have outside photos of the ride since it was dark and the wagon had plastic coverings for wind.  The horse drawn ride took us around the park and there were tons of light displays that were based on nursery rhymes.  It was very well done.  There was a show in the equine center.  We skipped it due to time.  Nick and Sally aren’t usually up past 7:30PM.

The elves spend all summer cutting wood for the toys.  There are 50 to choose from.  Each child gets to build one.


Nick picked out the helicopter.  Elf Leigh helped him build it.


Elf Jim helped Sally with her bus.


Then, we moved to the paint station.  Nick was concentrated hard.  Do you notice the nice new “photo ready” shirt.  We realized they had smock shirts right after he got paint on his shirt.  Stephen washed it out in the bathroom when we were done.


Sally picked blue for her bus.  She loved painting!


The glitter station was last.


After the glitter, we laid the projects out to dry.  Everything was so nicely decorated and organized.


Next up was snack time.  The classroom had pretzels, cookies, hot dogs and other light items.


We stopped for a few photos and then headed back to the workshop to collect the mostly dried toys.


I waited with Sally and Nick while Stephen waited in line to have the toys wrapped in newspaper.


Everyone was beat and we escaped without any too tired tantrums.  The car ride home was full of tired happy tears.  We can’t wait for next year!


Here’s another idea for keeping Nick and Sally occupied away from the TV.  I saw a version of this on another blog a few weeks ago.  It’s basically a pick up game.

All you need is pom poms, paper clips and a container.  I bought a bag of pom-poms at Michael’s craft store.  I had some fun paper clips that were shaped like treble clefs from Stephen.  Nick had the test tube apparatus from a Lowe’s Build and Grow project.

Sally loved it.  Most of the time she just used her hands.  It was nice because we could talk about numbers and colors while she played with the pom poms.  She was quite proud of herself.



Nick had a blast too!  It was fun to watch his concentration at work.  Sometimes he just jams them into the test tube and then wonders why they won’t come out.  That’s how I know when it’s time to quit the game.


My craft supply shelf is building along with my arsenal of crafty projects and activities.  I’m happy with our progress.