Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 in Review

The lovely Laura posted this questionaire, and I decided to play along.  Feel free to join in, too.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

  • We decided to have a baby, and got pregnant.
  • I learned to use a pressure canner.
  • I had a student teacher.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make resolutions for last year, I made plans for an apple orchard, berry patch and chicken coop.  We planted 6 apple trees, about a dozen berries, and didn’t get the chickens.  I’m planning to put together a list of goals for next year, and you can bet that a chicken coop will be on it!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A few of my friends had kids, but nobody in our family.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully no.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just this one…  We’re home bodies.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Our little boy! Oh, and chickens 🙂

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • June 25, the day that Isabelle the baby horse was born.
  • July 5, the day we found out we’re having a baby.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Professionally, my biggest achievement of the year was receiving the “Women Taking the Lead to Save the Planet” award from the local Women’s League of Voters. 

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m happy to say that I don’t feel like I had any real failures, but taking time off from my second MS degree is something that I’m not entirely happy about.  We just decided that with our baby on the way, we had more important ways to spend time and money.  And I plan to go back to school.  Really, does a teacher ever stop going back to school?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I cut off the tip of my thumb back in September, and I’ll probably always have a scar and a misshapen thumb.  But it was minor in the scheme of things.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

This was a pretty non-consumeristic year for me.  Good thing, because it looks like 2010 will be the year I get a new car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I’d have to say my husband.  He’s always supportive of me and my ideas, and he is my constant companion on this journey.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Nobody that I care about.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage and taxes

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Our baby, could you tell?

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Big Green Tractor

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter? oh, about 21 lbs fatter

c) richer or poorer? the same, but on the verge of getting poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Cleaning (but not really…)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Rushing around

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With our families

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

I continue to be in love with Ed.  Eight years and counting.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

This is embarrassing… I love 18 Kids and Counting and Big Love.  Also really like Big Bang Theory.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


24. What was the best book you read?

I really liked Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Uh, I don’t think I had one.

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted a baby, and now I’m expecting.  Can you tell that’s a recurring theme?

27. What did you want and not get?

Haha… chickens!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I’m a big fan of Food, Inc. and I also just watched and really liked Julie and Julia.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I can’t remember what I did for my birthday, probably low-key dinner with the family.  I turned 28.

30. What’s the one thing that made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The baby on the way…

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Ha! Eco-friendly meets whatever’s in my closet meets Walmart meets whatever’s in Ed’s closet meets maternity clothes.  For example, right now I’m wearing velour maternity pants from Walmart and Ed’s John Deere sweatshirt.  It was not such a good year fashion-wise.  But then again, I’m not a fashion icon to begin with.

32. What kept you sane?


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I respect Toby Keith a lot for speaking his mind, and plus he sings some really great songs and puts on a great concert.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Two: climate and healthcare.  I’m pretty annoyed that we can’t get our act together politically when it comes to the climate, especially when so many people are making amazing strides on an individual level.  As for healthcare, I really believed it would be wonderful to have reasonably priced insurance for hard-working people who don’t get it through work, like my husband, dad, and brothers.  However, the capitalist in me is pretty ticked that the health insurance I work hard to obtain is considered a “Cadillac” plan and according to the current bills, I’m going to end up paying big taxes on it to fund what?

35. Who did you miss?

I miss friends who have moved away, but I’m glad I get to keep in touch through the internet.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I don’t think I can say for sure.  I meet a lot of great people through work and through the blogging community.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

Be patient.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“And it’s funny how it’s the simple things in life that mean the most.  Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes.  There’s no dollar sign on a peace of mind, this I’ve come to know.”


Filed under Home, Sustainable Living

Let it Snow

I can’t believe how fast the snow’s coming down! Ed has the day off work today but he’s headed out to do a side job.  First, he cleaned out the wood stove and started a fire for me (how romantic, I usually do it myself).

In the time it took me to post these photos, there’s a lot more snow on the ground, but from what the forecast says, it’s not supposed to amount to much.


Filed under Home

12 Month Meme

I’ve decided to post the first post of each month for the last year, along with the first sentence or two of that post, following Sharon from Casaubon’s Book’s lead.  I’m also going to add in a photo from the post.  It’s a fun look back at 2009, and pretty well-balanced for what I typically post: some animals, some recipes, some wildlife, some garden.



Berry Patch Plans “Happy New Year! I’m not making resolutions for myself, I’m making plans instead.”



Tapping Trees “Today, Ed’s family took advantage of the warm weather to get outside and tap trees.  It’s a tradition that both of our families carry on.”



Majestic Annabelle “On this first day of March, I’ve been running around trying to get everything done before the big snow storm moves in this afternoon.”


Leftover Turkey Dinner Casserole “We had so many leftovers from the other night’s Garlic-Lime Roasted Turkey with Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing, I decided to turn it into a Shepherd’s Pie-type casserole.

May (Couldn’t choose between these two pictures, so posted both to make up for the lack of one in April)



 Annabelle Update “Today was our opening day at the farm market, and Annabelle loved all the attention she got.”


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Dog Days  “Duke and I enjoyed some time out in the sun, on my parents’ lush green grass.”


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Strawberry Fruit Leather “I usually make jam instead of jelly because I don’t like wasting all the fruit pulp that’s left after the juice drains.  However, when I made strawberry jelly this time I used the leftover pulp to make fruit leather, and I have to say I was impressed by how easy it was.”


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Spotted  “Here’s the cute little spotted fawn that we spotted in our backyard last night at dusk.”


Few Days Break  “I’ve decided to take a few days worth of blogcation.  Be back soon!”


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All Grown Up “The wild turkey chicks we spotted in the spring and enjoyed watching grow up over the summer are now huge!”


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November in Color “For such a gray November day, there’s a rainbow of color outside.”


Christmas Decorations “Just a few pictures of what we’ve done around the house.”

If you decide to play along, please include a link so I can come check out your 2009!


Filed under Home

A New Car?

So… the saga of my car and its problems continues.  I drive a 1997 Ford Explorer.  We didn’t trade it in during Cash for Clunkers because no payments were better than having to make payments.  However, about a month ago the brakes went out while I was driving home.  Fortunatly there wasn’t an accident, and Ed and my brothers fixed them.  Two weeks ago, it failed emissions because the check engine light was on, which has been on for months, and we thought it was due to a problem with the light in the dashboard, not with the engine itself.  So we have to get that fixed in order to pass emissions testing.  Then today, it wouldn’t start.  It seems to be running fine now, so we’re not sure why it wouldn’t start.  The problem is that it’s simply not reliable.  Over the years, I’ve been stranded a few times when I was taking classes at the University, but fortunately most of the time when something’s wrong I’m close to home.  I hate having a car that’s unreliable.

And there’s a big difference between me being stranded alone and being stranded with a baby.  So, we’re seriously considering getting a new car.  It’s not the best time to take on another monthly payment, with me going on leave and basically not getting paid from April through September, but really when is a good time to take on more debt?  We’re looking at used cars, and I have only a few requirements:  My car needs to have four-wheel drive, especially for our icy, steep road.  My car also needs to have room for equipment and bags of soil that I cart from Agway to the greenhouse at school, as well as occasional random farm items.  Oh, and it needs to be safe and reliable, as well as family-friendly, since I have a tendency to hang onto a car for years and years.  We’re looking for a car that’s a few years old with low miles, and my requirements pretty much mean getting another SUV.  (I’d love to drive a pick-up truck, but it’s not exactly a mom-friendly car…)  Used hybrids are few and far between, and they’re mostly out of our price range.  Biodiesel is mostly out, since diesel engines tend to be more expensive and I’m not looking to take on making our own fuel.  Flex-fuel compatible is fine, but there’s no ethanol station around here, and I’m not convinced that ethanol is better than petroleum.  So it’s looking like we’re just going to keep having to do what we’ve been doing: driving less and conserving fuel.  It’s hard to make an eco-friendly choice when there isn’t a perfect choice out there, and even the better choices are prohibited by cost.  At least for this week I’m on vacation and don’t need to go anywhere for the most part.


Filed under Home

Hearty Oat Bread

Adapted from the recipe for Oatmeal Bread from King Arthur Flour

  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp honey

Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan.  Cool to lukewarm, then mix in the yeast and honey and let sit for 5 minutes.  Combine the flour, oats and salt in a large bowl, then pour in the liquid.  Mix to form a dough, then knead by hand for 10 minutes.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 1 hour.  Shape the bread and place in a loaf pan, then cover and let rise another 1 1/2 hours.  Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 minutes or until done.


Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Recipes, Sustainable Living

Freezer, Pantry, Leftover Meal

This is just what it sounds like… a meal created out of leftovers, from the pantry and the freezer.  I thought it came out pretty tasty for a meal inspired by the fact that I didn’t want to let leftovers go to waste.

Seared Pork Chops

I thawed two thick-cut, bone-in pork chops from our pig in the freezer.  Pat the pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper.  Add about 1 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil to a cast-iron pan over medium-high to high heat.  Sear the pork chops on one side for about 3 minutes, sear on the fatty side by holding the chop in tongs for 1 minute, then flip and place in a preheated 350° oven for about 10 minutes.  This can get pretty smokey, so make sure to have the hood fan running or the window open (preferably not in winter!).

Mashed Potato Cakes

Mix about 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes with 1 egg.  Melt a few Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat, then drop in the potatoes in big spoonfuls.  Flatten the potatoes into cakes and brown on both sides, then season with salt.  My aunt always makes these for dinner on holidays, transforming the mashed potatoes leftover from lunch.  They’re better than the originals!

Creamed Spinach

Easy! I made creamed spinach for Christmas dinner, and just warmed it in the oven while I made the pork chops and potato cakes.

Homemade Applesauce

Also easy! Just open up a jar of home-canned applesauce.


Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, What's for Supper?