Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Better than Jewels

For some women this would be laughable, but when I finally got tomatoes this summer I remember thinking they were prettier than jewels! They were so shiny and red and yummy and I was so grateful to have them. Tonight I was grateful all over again.

I didn't realize how late the evening had gotten when I looked up and it was almost 5 pm already. We typically eat at about 5 since that give us time to eat and clean up and spend some time with the little guy before he heads to bed around 7 or earlier depending on the day! Today we'd eaten a late lunch due to my work schedule. Then we headed out to enjoy an actual sunny day. We've had so few this fall that they are a real treat!

This weekend we were able to find an older single child Burley for a really good price. Okay, it was $20 if you must know. Seriously, is that a good deal or what? :) It is dusty, but in good condition. We figured today was a good day to take it for a spin and see if little guy liked it or not. What fun to actually get on my bike again! We used to bike a lot, but last summer I was very, very pregnant and then the little guy was too small for a trailer (and I was healing from his birth and had no desire to get on a bike and check how the healing was going and all). So basically it has been 2 years since I've ridden my bike. That ended today. And with any luck we'll get a few more rides in before the snow flies. The little one really enjoyed the trailer right away. He kept waving at me (Daddy pulls him) and smiling and laughing. We'll be enjoying biking as a family a lot in the future, I have no doubt!

So we got home from riding and then gave our dogs baths while the little one avoided his afternoon nap. Then I checked my e-mail and bam! it was 5 o'clock. YIKES!

I decided to use one of my spaghetti squashes that I bought at the farmer's market on Thursday. Last year we enjoyed some for the first time and I remembered I had done a spicy sausage tomato sauce with it. I cooked up some sausage, dumped in some onion and green pepper, opened 2 cans of tomato sauce I had gotten off of freecycle (a woman gave me 3 cases of 12 cans each and had more for others) and thought that would be it. I decided we needed more chunkiness to the sauce and ran downstairs again.

These tomatoes waited for me in their pint and quart jars. I added a pint of diced tomatoes and some seasonings and we were ready to eat in no time. I love my shelves and crates of canned goods. Seeing them makes me happy and eating them makes me even happier!

Happy fall eating,


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thanks to all of you (and the big Guy upstairs!) we had beautiful weather on Monday. Finally. We decided to take advantage of it and head out to a beautiful park along Lake Michigan. I used to frequent the park with my dog fairly often when I was single and Mike and I had our engagement pictures taken there. It is a bit of a drive from our house now, but totally worth it! Especially this time of year when the leaves are looking so beautiful.

Little guy seems to really be fighting afternoon naps and rarely will fall asleep. (We keep hoping and still give him 'rest time' even if he just plays and talks in his crib the whole time.) Of course, on Monday he slept and slept and slept so we didn't get to the park as early as we planned, but it was still great!

There are lots of woods and trails and beautiful Lannon stonework benches and steps. We took advantage of the picturesque area to take some pictures. Makes sense, huh? Others seemed to have the same idea as we saw no fewer than 6 very large cameras coming out of the park as we were heading in....some family pictures, one engagement set, others just getting photos.

Is it just me or do you have lots of pictures of curious toddlers looking like this?

Or when you finally have them looking they decide they need to point at the picture taker?

It is really challenging taking good pictures of active little ones, isn't it? And I'm trying not to get him frustrated with the whole 'sit still and look at me and smile' thing right now. I'm just trying to get something that looks fairly natural and very like him. Extra points if he is smiling. And even more points if it is in focus and somewhat framed. This ones misses on the whole 'in focus' and 'smiling' thing, but it is a pretty great shot of a pretty great kid.

I really love this little guy.

Wishing you sunny days!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

You Guys are Good!

Seriously, you guys come thorugh!

Today it is SUNNY! And they are saying possible sun tomorrow and maybe even Tuesday. That may be more sun than we've seen all of October. Happy dance here in Milwaukee!

Mike is sanding on the deck as I type and I am headed out to stain as soon as he finishes. We will get this done yet. I have off tomorrow so if the weather can hold I'll be a happy, happy girl. And I work very early Tuesday so maybe we can even get to a park yet.

Thank you for all your help in procurring a few days of decent weather. There is a possibility we may be in the 50s for most of this week. You pulled some great strings and I am thankful!

Hope you have a beautiful Sunday too!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can I Get Some Help Here?

I've been in an odd mood lately. It could have something to do with the fact that we had an unbelievably beautiful September (23 days in a row with sun and gorgeous temps) and then SLAMMED into late fall/early winter. The temps have been in the 40s, it has been dreary and rainy and just all around crummy. I love fall and miss the 'early fall' that is sunny and sweet during the day and cool and crisp at night. This weather makes me just want to hibernate!

I've been taking advantage of this weather to make lots of soups and warm food. There is something wonderful about that, but I wasn't ready to transition so quickly from grilling to stews! I want to be using things from the farmer's market and making salads. I needed the time to transition and we didn't get it.

So we are now trying to get our deck sanded and refinished before there is snow, but we need at least 2 days of sun. We need to get the outside toys picked up and put away. We need to trim a few hedges that grew like crazy after the pruning this summer. We just need a few days of early fall to get those 'wrap up the summer' projects wrapped up. Could someone put in a good word for us here in Milwaukee?

I'm trying to remain hopeful since we got married on November 3rd and it was beautiful. Last year we had 4 days in October get above 80 degrees. In 2007 there were 4 days in October that were above 70 degrees. Is it too much to hope/want/expect at least a day in the 50s or even 60s before the first blizzard?

Can I get some help in requesting just one beautiful weekend? I really want to take the little one to a beautiful park and get some fall pictures with him. I need some sun to do it. Please, I'm begging I need a few days of transition weather!

That concludes my whining about the weather for today,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This weekend my parent's were in Wisconsin again. It was wonderful to see them and the little one had a blast charming his grandparents. However, their visit was not all in fun.

We lost a dear family friend last week and Saturday was her memorial service. She and her husband were like a local aunt and uncle for me and my sister's growing up. Our biological ones were all out of state, but these two were able to fill in. They didn't have children so they spoiled us, treated us like adults and disciplined us like we were their own depending on what we needed at the time. She fought cancer for almost two years after having been told she only had months or maybe weeks to live when she was diagnosed. Her diagnosis came the week of our wedding and now she has passed at only 49.

Three weeks ago my mom came up and we went to see her one last time. She was on heavy medications and we only had a few moments here and there when she was lucid. When she was with us she was so much like herself. She was sharp, funny, and pointed. She talked about things that had happened recently (like her visit to Kentucky in July) and things from my childhood. She was yellow, swollen, and not eating or drinking. For me it was an experience I'll never forget and I'm grateful that we got to spend time with her.

The biggest challenge for me is how to reach out to her husband. He is a outdoorsman who learned how to be an amazing nurse to his wife. He expected to have 30 more years with her and that he would go first (he's 9 years older). He spends his time welding, hunting, and fishing. Suddenly he was having to administer 4 different pain meds, run IVs, and watch his wife as she slipped further and further from him. She died on their couch while he slept a few feet from her. He now has to cope with being alone.

We do not live close and my husband has only met him once. They have almost nothing in common. I've never called this gentleman out of the blue before. However, I can't help but feel a desire to spend time with him now. I want to be there for him if he needs us as my parent's live so far away. He has lots of friends and some family in the area. I know that he has a full life and that many people will be watching over him. I think that my way of coping may be that I want to help him feel cared about. It is something I've been thinking about and will be continuing to figure out. How can I best serve him and be there for him? What will be helpful to him and what would just be for my own benefit?

Loss is so hard. We are grateful for the time she had and that the 'bad' part really only lasted about 3-4 weeks. She was not in pain and didn't suffer. She is now in a place where she can do all those things that she loved again.

I'm grateful that she was in my life and that I got to say goodbye. I'm grateful for the lessons she taught me. Life is short and you never know what the next day, week or month will bring. Stop complaining and just enjoy where you are. Make a difference in other people's lives. Spend time doing things you love with people you love. Collect things you love; collect lots of them if it makes you happy. Speak your mind. Sing like there is no one else in the car. It is okay to be a woman who has a strong opinion and doesn't back down. Not everyone will like you and that is perfectly fine. Sometimes friendships end, but hold onto the friendships that mean something to you. Marry the person who is right for you no matter how different you are. Be yourself until the very end.

Thank you M. for teachin me so much.

More grateful people over at Heavenly Homemakers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Find Friday--Bummer!

Today my Frugal Finds were spoiled! I was going to share with you some of the ways I frugally feed our family wonderful in season, local foods by showing the bounty of our local famer's market. However, when I got there yesterday they vendors were either gone or were about to pull out!

I haven't been able to go in almost 2 weeks (it is open T, Th, and Sat) and was so looking forward to a visit. However I had to work from 11-5 and by the time I got to the market it was about 5:30. The weather was cold and rainy and I'm guessing they all headed home a little early because of it. I'm kind of thinking that the crowd gets pretty thin by then, but I do not really know as I am typically there in the early afternoon. I'm especially disappointed because I will not be able to go Saturday or Tuesday and Thursday I have the same schedule. And they close in about a month....YIKES!

The West Allis Farmer's market is made up of all local vendors. They must grow what they sell. I love the variety of items offered and find that I can often get some amazing deals. They open at noon and I'm guessing they close between 5-6 depending on the crowd. I really think that finding a local farmer's market is one of the most frugal ways to feed a family (at least during the summer) if you do not have a garden. To give you an idea of some of the best deals I've gotten this summer...

Cabbages (rather huge ones, both red and green) $1
Cantaloupe $1
Smaller Watermelons $1 and 2/$1
Green Beans $1/lb (typically they are about $2/lb there)
Zucchini (a bin of about 8 bigger ones) $1
Beets (a huge basket) $2
Eggplant 3/$1

And the list goes on and on. I do walk the entire market and really do try to find some of the best deals. However, the prices are all very good and the food is even better! There are some all organic vendors, some that sell meat and eggs, a few apple orchards, lots of sweet corn, flowers, herbs and all kinds of other great vegetables and fruits.

I'm already dreading the end of the growing season. And really it is already here as we are expecting flurries on Saturday afternoon and highs in the low 40s on Monday. Looks like winter showed up a bit early this year!

Have a great day,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rock the Vote!

This post is a shameless promotion of my sister and her photographic talents. And an appeal for your vote. I'm Heather and I approved this message.

My sister is into photography. Not your average portrait photography or even the typical digital photography. She has become interested in all kinds of unique photography that I do not even begin to understand. She uses old, unusual cameras. She develops her prints. She plays around with papers and exposures and all kinds of things to make her prints even more unique. She takes 'photos' using only the sun and flowers. Again, I do not fully understand it, but I appreciate that it is really amazing art when she is finished with it.

She is currently involved in a photography contest. Actually it is an alternative photography calendar contest. There are like 85 different submissions and she is one of them. If she is one of the final winners she'll be featured. I'd be really grateful if you'd check out the entries here. Her photo is most of the way down the listing. Her name is Sarah Speakes and the photo is of a not fully opened lilly. It was 'taken' using only the photo paper, the flower and the sun. From what she's told me this is called a Lumen picture. The photo is called Elegance and it is!

And when you are finished and realize how amazing her photo is you can vote for her here. And if that one is full you can vote here. Again, you'll go to Sarah Speakes and check her name. Then submit your vote. They are taking votes until they get to a certain number so time is of the essence.

Thanks so much for your support of my sister! Seriously, shameless I know, but she's my sister and I want her to do well.

She's a mom of 3 kids (my nephew is 6 and neices are 5) and her husband is in the Air Force. He deploys every 5 months or so and is gone for that long. It is hard for them to be apart, and I can't imagine how challenging it is for her to be home alone with the kids. And not near any of her other family because of where they must live for his job. At one point she had two new babies and a little toddler and had to handle it all on her own. Can you imagine grocery shopping with two car seats, an early walker and just two hands? I cannot. My brother-in-law is away for training right now and I'd love for her to win this contest as a great pick me up. So please vote for Sarah Speakes and Elegance! We'd both be really grateful :)

Thanks so much,

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy October!

I cannot believe it is October already! Although Mike's schedule is crazy right now which means it is Oktoberfest season. This weekend he had 7 jobs in less than 3 days. Needless to say we didn't see him much. But he loves what he does and we are grateful for the work.

Little guy has started walking. Amazingly he just started taking a few steps here and there and now seems to pretty much have the hang of it. He doesn't walk everywhere yet, but we know it is just a matter of a little more time. He is getting bigger and more active every day! He never did the stand and balance move that most little ones do. The one where they just stand in place and then squat down and play or pick up something and then stand back up, never moving their feet the entire time. He still doesn't really do that, but has figured out how to balance enough that he can walk from here to there when he feels like it!

He is also signing more and more words. We started with milk forever ago and within the last month or so he seemed to be really into signing milk, more and food (the only ones we'd taught him). So I started doing a few more and now he also does water, mommy, daddy, drink, and even please sometimes! I need to do more research to keep expanding his signing vocabulary. It is so cute to see him do it and I'm glad he is communicating with us even though he doesn't say many words yet. His signing also leads to funny situations. Every morning the first thing I do when he gets up is change his diaper. After that we head to the kitchen and he has breakfast. Well he must be hungry first thing because now he is often in his crib signing 'food' and 'more' as soon as he wakes up. And he keeps signing it the whole time I change him. Breakfast must be his favorite meal!

I've only got 1 quart jar and 1 1/2 pint jar left in my kitchen. I've still got a box and a half of apples. I also have a really, really full freezer. My parents are coming up for a quick trip this weekend and my mom is bringing me more jars. Here's hoping the apples stay good until she gets here! I love looking at all the jars I've canned. It will be great to do more and more things as the years go by. There is nothing like knowing you've got provisisons. And that there is no BPA in them. Fall is really a great time of year and I can't wait to pick up some things at the farmer's market. Spaghetti squash, here I come!

Have a great day,