Monday, October 29, 2007

Beef Recall and Flat Rate Boxes

Gosh, I don't claim to be any kind of tech expert, but this one's really got me stumped. My post on flat rate boxes is listed as a related blog post under this article about the recent beef recall due to e. coli on What???

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sourdough Starter

I've finally succeeded in starting my very own sourdough starter from scratch. It is all "wild" caught yeasts, no commercial yeast booster. I used this recipe, because my previous attempts were plagued by the fast growing, gassy bacteria.

I had a few little problems on this attempt.

On day three my jar started to grow some mold. I just scraped it off and transferred the remaining starter (the mold was only on the jar at the top of the starter) to a clean jar. Every time I fed it after that I moved it to a clean jar and I didn't have any more problems with mold.

Since we've been having such warm weather (the house was consistently above 75 during this experiment) my starter thrived on being fed every 12 hours rather than every 24. There were a couple of times when it looked like the yeasts were dying, but I added a bit of rye flour and started feeding it more frequently and it took off again.

I was waiting for my starter to raise nicely, but after reading this page, I decided it sounded ready after all and decided to go ahead and try baking a loaf of bread. I used this recipe and produced the loaf pictured above! Incidentally, I proofed the starter for the bread, then kept some out for the mother and fed it again while I was making the bread, and the mother did raise beautifully in the jar.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nora 13 Months

Do other babies do this? As I recall, all Hannah's signs were solo efforts.

Nora thinks that some signs are cooperative efforts. "Bear" for example. She doesn't scratch at her own chest; she leans over and scratches at mine. And when she signs "dance," her little fingers either dance in the air or on my palm, not on her own. She also likes to pull my "I love you" hand to her cheek for hugs.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Graffiti courtesy of Hannah:

Nora's chair.

Hannah's chair.

Evidently she thought we might forget.

Nora has been practicing her pirate utensil-in-mouth grip.

"Not" Your Head

Here's a new Hannah-ism:

She thinks "nod," as in "nod your head yes," is "not." She told me as she was shaking her head, "I'm notting my head." And then as she nodded her head, "Now I'm yessing my head."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I love flate rate boxes!

I mailed a care package yesterday totaling 13 pounds 15.4 ounces in a flat rate box. That would have been $15.35 in a non flat rate box.

14 pounds of dried fruit, trail mix, and granola bars. Dried mangoes and apricots are favorites of Michael and his team. Michael's only complaint about the food over there is the lack of fresh fruit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whispering Dove Goat Farm

We visited a local farm with our attachment parenting playgroup. The tour was better paced for the adults than the children, but we all had a good time and learned a lot.

The farm is on 13 acres, and they have 50 some goats, 3 dozen chickens, a handful of potbellied pigs, an eight hole rabbitry, guinea hens and bees!

The primary breeding buck. Doesn't he look regal?

Several young goats.

Hannah chatting up a goat.

The farmers sell animals, eggs, meat (goat, rabbit, and chicken), honey, and soaps made from goat milk.

I was interested to learn about several laws that hamper their ability to sell their products and make a livelihood from their farm. They cannot process their own meat, but have to send the animals that are to be butchered to a USDA approved facility for processing. Of course, this is expensive and increases the cost they must charge their customers for chevon. They said they are allowed to process a certain amount of rabbit and chicken. They cannot sell goat milk without a full scale approved dairy in a separate building. They used to be able to sell pet milk, but there is a new law that requires them to add charcoal to any pet milk, discouraging human consumption. Milk shares are also not legal in North Carolina.

They also disparaged the notion that honey can harbor botulism, praising the antibacterial nature of raw honey. They surmised that the botulism warnings were a product of an anti-honey lobby. I still won't feed honey to a baby under one, but the botulism issue wasn't one that I'd questioned before.

Speaking of bees, I asked about the "Colony Collapse Disorder" that has been plaguing the bee world and was surprised to learn that they weren't much concerned about CCD, but there is a new threat from a hive beetle that they are very worried about. They are hopeful that their chickens will be able to keep the pest under control, should it appear on their farm. Apparently the insects hatch out of the ground. See the final picture above for a view of the chickens foraging in front of the apiary.

When we got home Hannah looked out at her slide in the back yard and told me we should move it to the front so we'll have room for our animals and so they don't hurt her slide. She even wants bees on our farm now, since her little friend told her that if one stings her she can just rub it to make it feel better.

The farmers told us they got their start after the wife clandestinely bought some chickens and pigs. Maybe I'll have to follow her lead and get some chickens while Michael is deployed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Magnetic My Little Pony Update

My mom and little sisters (14 and 10) have informed me that My Little Ponies did not used to be magnetic back when I played with them. Now they have one magnetic foot that activates features on different accessories. Little sister aged 10 says they had a castle with a cake that changed from one layer to three when activated by the magnet. They also had a cash register and a sink that opened.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday 10/22/07

Monday: Hamburger and Onion Stuffed Bread*
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Tacos with leftover Roast Beef and Black Beans
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Curried Salmon Cakes
Sunday: leftovers

* Hannah can help.

Visit Laura for more menus!

Friday, October 19, 2007

State Fair

We saw rabbits.

And sweet potatoes.

And giant pumpkins, including a new state record pumpkin.

This Brahman cow was beautiful.

The apples smelled so sweet.

Hannah talked with this pretty cow for quite awhile. And the cow seemed to enjoy the conversation. Nora "moo-ed" at all the cows and "cock a doodle doo-ed" at all the roosters.

Hannah took this picture of the piglets.

Hannah enjoyed the PBS booth.

Hannah spun her teacup with abandon.

Hannah wanted to hold every one of the chicks and ducklings.

We had a grand time and wore ourselves out thoroughly. Hannah was making plans about all the animals we should have on our farm. We were disappointed to find that they didn't actually have the petting zoo indicated on their map, but Hannah sure loved the chicks and ducklings.

There were a few things that made the fair stand out as a distinctly North Carolina state fair: the tobacco and the sweet potatoes. The first vendor booth we came across after we came through the gate was a chewing tobacco tent (18 and over only, and completely enclosed with a zippered door). There were also several displays with hanks of tobacco leaves and I noticed one FFA project that was an apparatus for drying tobacco.

We saw a fancy booth complete with a diver in a tank recruiting for Navy EOD.

And of course we ate cotton candy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

so much for regular communication

Michael has moved to an even more remote forward operating base, and now we're down to one phone call a week, plus snail mail. That's from daily email (excepting generator failures) and twice weekly phone calls, plus snail mail.

Hopefully communications will improve as they settle into the new place.

Hopefully Michael's living conditions there will improve also, before it gets cold. He's really roughing it now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bronze Stars

I just found out about two new Bronze Star winners today.

Matt Breed is from our hometown. His older brother gave me a bracelet in first grade. I still have the bracelet.

Daniel Bogart is an USMC EOD tech, like Michael.

Congratulations and many thanks!

Menu Plan Monday 10/15/07

Monday: Asian Salmon Roll Ups*
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: eat out
Thursday: French Dip Sandwiches
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Baked Chicken Fingers w/Honey Mustard*
Sunday: leftovers

* Hannah can help.

Visit Laura for more menus!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Granola lends itself to experimentation. Substitute, play around, and enjoy!

Today I doubled the recipe, used maple syrup, millet, and 1.5 cups each pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsalted mixed nuts
1/2 cup mixed seeds
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut OR millet

Roast oats (and millet if using) on baking sheets at 250 degrees for one hour.

Heat tahini, honey or maple syrup, water, and vanilla over low heat until melted.

Mix nuts, seeds, coconut (if using), and roasted grains in large bowl. Stir in liquid mixture until well combined.

Spread on baking sheets. Bake one hour at 250 degrees.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Unread Books Meme

The below listed books are the top 106 books most often marked as being unread by LibraryThing users.

The instructions are simple: Bold what you have read, and italicize books you have started but couldn’t finish. Add an asterisk* to those you have read more than once. Underline those on your TBR list.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice*
Jane Eyre*
A Tale of Two Cities

The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World*
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo*
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility*
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake: A Novel
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey

The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

41 read.

3 unfinished.

3 TBR.

Found at Mommy Brain.

unintended break

Sorry about the blogging break. We've had a family crisis. I'll write more about it when the threat is over.

Everyone is in good health, and I'm sure everything will turn out okay. But we could use your prayers.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Menu Plan Monday 10/1/07

I am done shopping at the big commissary on Sundays! I keep forgetting when it's payday weekend, because we don't wait for payday to do our grocery shopping. Yesterday we managed to hit a payday weekend and a case lot sale. It was a mess. The checkout line wrapped all the way around the back of the store to the entrance and it took us half an hour to get through. I think once that line gets going it just perpetuates the back up. People get in line right away and then send off the other spouse or the kids to pick up the things on their list. As much as I enjoy our quiet Mondays with no errands or activities to run to, we're going to have to move our grocery shopping day and Monday looks like the best place for it.

Monday: leftover Tuna Noodles w/White Beans and Capers
Tuesday: Crockpot Burgundy Beef and Mushrooms
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Garlic and Herb Chicken from freezer
Friday: Curried Salmon Cakes
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Artichoke and Walnut Pesto Pasta

Visit Laura for more menus!