Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Picking Eggs

As it's almost Easter, I've been thinking about my family's traditions. When *B* and I had our first Easter, two years ago now, he came to my parents' house for Easter. As per usual, after getting our baskets, my family picked eggs. I don't mean we decided which eggs we wanted, I mean we picked eggs. *B* had never heard about this tradition, so I explained it and kind of laughed off the fact that he had never played the game. On the radio this morning, a guy talked about picking eggs and the show's hosts were clueless. I asked around at work, and across the age ranges, no one had heard of it.

Where did picking eggs come from? It's not a generational thing, and it doesn't seem like a regional thing. So I did some research and came up with these references: a post from the Food Maven and the April 6, 1904 edition of the Carroll Herald.

What did I learn? No one really has any clue where it came from :o) But I do know this: I intend to carry it on. And this Easter, I intend to conquer!

Ooo Giveaway!

Hannah over at www.honeyandjam.com is giving away the most precious pie pan this week! She also has a recipe for Lime Cookies that I'm going to HAVE to try. Check it out!

Monday, March 29, 2010

DC Trip!

*B* and I, after watching National Treasure for the last two days, have decided to take a DC trip on Friday! I'm so excited. Though we've lived nearby all our lives, we've never done the "normal" things: visiting the memorials, seeing the White House (outside of course), and going to most of the museums. Because of my dad's interests, I've been to the Natural History Museum and Air and Space Museum probably 15 times each. But the museums I really want to see, like the American History Museum, I've never been to. It will be during the cherry blossom festival, but on a Friday there shouldn't be TOO many people. I will post MANY pictures for all of you all who can't make it out here.

Pearls of Prepper Wisdom

It occurred to me this morning that from childhood, we all know about self-reliance.

  • Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. (My Dad)
  • Be prepared. (Boy Scout Motto)
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (Proverb)
  • God helps those who help themselves. (Proverb)
  • Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst (Proverb)
Can you think of any more?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reminders in an Inspiration

There are very few pieces of art, be they paintings, movies, or songs, that I can say changed my thinking permanently. One of those would have to be the movie "V for Vendetta." When I first heard of this movie, it made me think of the "Dial M for Murder" books. But this movie is nothing like that. It's actually based on a graphic novel. One of the reiterated themes is "people shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people."

This may be a spoiler for those of you who have not seen the movie.

In this movie, a nuclear war started by America breaks out. A government party called Norsefire came to power. Then, the British government detains all undesirables - gays, activists, etc. The government uses them to engineer a virus. The government then attacks its own people through contaminated water and an outbreak at a school and tube station under the guise of a terrorist attack. Years pass with curfews, government propaganda, surveillance, and corrupt police presence. Everything is done supposedly "for your protection." Finally, after a child is murdered by a policeman, a masked man named V wins people over and gets them to see the truth of their imprisonment.

Spoiler over.

There are people out there who believe the attacks on our country September 11th was not the work of foreign terrorists. I neither espouse nor deny this position. I do, however, keep a healthy dose of caution when listening to the news, other people, or promises of our politicians. I fear indoctrination and mindless repetition of gossip. Only through intelligent discourse and research can we see through the lies and half-truths that people spout.

I get a number of emails from my grandmother detailing how evil our current administration is. Whether you agree with their principles or not, you should be able to back up your claims. In one memorable email, the original writer (it was a forward) cited supposed lines out of the health care bill and wrote their take on it. Things like "line 362, rationing of health care. line 671, creation of death panels." Wishing to be informed, I read the bill. The lines cited had nothing to do with those things listed. The writer was simply trying to win over those who would not do their own research.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the current political climate, there are a few things one can do:
  1. Inform yourself by gathering your information from as many sources as possible, from both in and out of the country.
  2. Prepare yourself with food, health, and safety needs in case of upheaval - political, economic, natural, or otherwise
  3. Research those you for whom you vote. Just because their name has a D or and R next to it does not indicate their true beliefs. And perhaps the right person for the job is an independent. Though, as I've always said, anyone smart enough for the job is smart enough not to run.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

My amazing fiance snuck downstairs when I fell asleep on the couch. He cut some new boards for our pantry shelves so that we just about doubled our storage space. He also cleaned both turtle tanks for us. On top of that, he started washing clothes.

That was where things went wrong.

I woke up, started reorganizing the pantry, and decided to finish it tomorrow. He put the laundry in the washer and we both went upstairs to watch a movie. Halfway through the movie, he realized that he didn't put the drain pipe for the washer back into the utility sink after cleaning the turtles.

For the second time in six months, our basement has flooded.

So we both went down and cleaned everything. I am thankful that none of it made it over to the carpeted side this time. But we did lose some boxes from our dishes, and we soaked a bunch of our belongings. The water made it into the pantry (through the door) and wet the labels on the cans I hadn't finished stocking.

We've decided to ask *B*'s uncle to install a drain for us in the utility side of the basement. That should keep our flood damage under control, though we'll continue to keep our flood incidences down. On the good side - maybe this drowned the ants that were starting to come inside. No one told me being a homeowner was so difficult :o)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yummm, Early Easter Treats!

I've decided to make treats for work tomorrow. I've always wanted to make bird nest cupcakes. Two of Martha Stewart's creations inspired me:

Well, I'm not Martha Stewart, but I think they came out well.

The recipe is really easy. I toasted up some coconut:

Baked some vanilla cupcakes:

Made homemade vanilla icing:

Rolled the cupcakes in coconut, and "glued" Cadbury eggs on top with icing:

Voila! Cupcake treats for my colleagues.

Simple Pleasure Thursday

Today's simple pleasure is trying something new and loving it. I had a few extra minutes this morning, so I stopped by Starbucks - a pleasure in which I rarely indulge now. I got my standard tall, non-fat, with whip mocha. But when the lady asked if I'd like something to eat, I bit the bullet and got something called Mallorca sweet bread. It was awesome! I wish I had the recipe. It tastes like the bread from a danish minus the filling. Whenever I get some time, I might try to come up with a similar recipe. It appears to be a Puerto Rican dish.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sssssss... *poof*

I think I've hit the wall. I didn't realize it, but I've been in burnout mode for the last few weeks. I've been going into work JUST on time, and leaving as soon as I'm allowed. I haven't been keeping up with writing down my lesson plans, I haven't been keeping up on my emails, and I get fed up with my only standard level class very quickly. The only day I actually enjoy in my life is Saturday (as I mentioned in my last post).

*B* and I went for a nice little 1 mile walk with Hailey today. On the way home, we stopped at the park and enjoyed the weather for a bit. Or should I say, *B* enjoyed the weather, Hailey enjoyed the squirrels, and I despaired over how I couldn't enjoy myself because I have school tomorrow.

I do try to enjoy what time I have outside of work. And I also try to enjoy work. It's just that I can literally feel my shoulders knotting over themselves as soon as I hit a certain intersection near work. It's like the point of no return. The tension is nearly impossible to release, too. I've realized that I eat to relieve stress - especially pizza and ice cream. While that's nice to know, I can't seem to relieve stress any other way.

At the end of the day, I'm too tired to go to the gym, and I am not the type of person to sit idle. There was a point when I could manage a little better. I'd come home, crash, and watch Wife Swap - the most brainless show there is. Unfortunately, they moved it to daytime only.

I'm hopeful that spring break will really help me get my "mojo" back. After spring break, we only have 7 weeks left. It doesn't feel like that's really true, or even possible. A week of that is exams, and another week and a half is rocket projects for my physics kids. Over the summer, I can work on making my lesson plans more professional looking. Apparently, the first year is the worst, at three you're doing well, then by five years, you are in the groove. I sure hope they're right.

Making it Through the Week

For some reason, this week is going by both amazingly fast and insanely slow. I feel as if, lately, I've been living for the weekends. And when only 2.5 of the 7 days we get a week are weekend days, that makes life a little tricky. One week and a couple of hours from today, I'll be starting spring break. For that, I am very thankful.

This weekend, we go to check out suits/tuxes for *B* for the wedding. I'm really excited. Even though he didn't get to go with me to get my dress, I get to go with him for his outfit. I'm thinking a charcoal grey suit with a grey vest and red/white shirt and tie. If he gets a red shirt, it'll be a white tie and the reverse for the groomsmen.

Things I still need to do:
- decide on a DJ
- decide to (and if necessary) send out save the dates
- find a summer job
- contact our sponsor couple
- pick and plan a honeymoon

I think everything else wedding-related is just about taken care of. We will meet with the flowers guy next week during my break. I've been emailing our photographer back and forth. I'm just waiting to be able to buy my dress in a few months.

Though I will say, I haven't been doing myself any favors on slimming down into that dress. I haven't been to the gym in over a week, and I just ate orange chicken for breakfast. I need some kind of schedule/structure to force me to go to the gym and to watch what I eat.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I'm Soooo Sore!

This has been a great weekend. I think I've gotten everything I ever wanted. Man, am I going to pay for it tomorrow :o)

Friday night, we got Hailey. She's been great. While the cats still hate her, they can be in the same room if they have the high ground.

Yesterday, we had a small barbecue. We cleaned all morning, and I even weeded out a flower bed and planted strawberries. Then, we entertained until about 11:30 at night. We had a good time, with a fire and all.

Today, we worked almost entirely on our new garden. My tomatoes are JUST starting to sprout.

The salads are just about to pop through too. If you look really hard, you can see the little sprouts poking out their heads.
Those little sprouts from a few weeks ago have exploded into all of these containers. The purple racks were flower bulb shelves *B* got free from work because they were going to throw them out. They're so useful!The bigger containers house our new lettuce plants.Our lovely $10 blackberry bush. It should get to be 4' by 5' and produce this year. We'll see if that happens.*B* is digging our asparagus beds. Yummm, asparagus. When I was a kid, even after my mom stopped tending her garden, we had asparagus. She'd send us out to pull stalks out of the yard. Ah, memories.So far in our garden we've planted lettuce and peas. Notice the grid lines - they're made out of paracord. Just in case :o)Our full garden. It ended up being 7 by 2 squares. While they're a little more than a foot a piece, it makes life easier. When we get more soil, we'll finish filling in the holes and plant our flowers and herbs around the perimeter.
The only things I didn't get pictures of are our potatoes and our new peach tree. As far as the potatoes go, we just cut up some potatoes that had sprouted and planted them in plastic containers out by the garden.

When we went to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute things, I pined for the peach trees sitting outside the store that were only $13!!! I finally convinced *B* to let me have one! It is an Elberta dwarf peach tree. They're self-fertile, and produce freestone peaches. I've very hopeful, yet cautious. I'd love to report back with good news!

Friday, March 19, 2010


We have added a new member to our family. Welcome, Hailey!

A friend of mine wasn't able to keep her dog when she moved, so we volunteered to take her. She is a 4-6 year old mutt (maybe golden retriever and shepherd or hound). We'll be getting her papers soon, so I'll know a lot more about her then. Right now, both our cats are hiding down in the basement. I'm hopeful they'll come around soon.

Before we got Hailey today, *B* and I started work on our garden. We decided to go with a square foot garden made of cinder blocks. This way, we can plant herbs and flowers in the blocks without taking up space in the garden itself. With our cars, we can only bring home 16 blocks at a time. So right now, we're going in stages.

Our compost pile from last year is doing all right, but it hasn't really turned into soil yet. We need some more creepy crawlies I think. *B* has been trying to balance out the greens and browns, but I don't know if it's quite working out:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Simple Pleasure Thursday and Mystery Plant Game

Today my simple pleasure is having two bloomed crocuses in my backyard! Also, I learned that they close at night. I never knew that!

*B* and I stopped off at Southern States today and picked up some more plants - strawberries, red leaf lettuce, and buttercrunch lettuce. While I had started some seeds, nothing has come up yet, so I wanted to make sure that we'll have some kind of food growing in our garden this year. Take a look at all our lovely plants:

On that note, we planted very few of the things growing in our yard. Some, I recognize. Others, I don't. If you know what it is, please drop a line to help me out. Thanks!

Mystery Plant A - Hibiscus?

Mystery Plant B

Mystery Plant C

Mystery Plant D

Mystery Plant E - Yucca?

Mystery Plant F

Mystery Plant G

Mystery Plant H - Dead yucca stalk?

Mystery Plant I

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Brother is Amazing!

My little brother is absolutely amazing. We had asked him over to barter some help - exchanging help building our square foot garden with Indian food. A few weeks ago, he asked to stay the night for a few days. He said he'd build us a cat tree. Long story short, we now have a cat tree, but no garden yet :o)

And oh what a cat tree it is!
You can tell my baby cats absolutely love it! We were worried Wicket wouldn't be able to fit her tush into the house, but she squeezed through there.

About midway through construction, I fired up the grill and made honey-butter shrimp (chicken for *B*). So yummy!

My daffodils and crocuses are just now peeking through the soil. As soon as they show their colors, you bet I'll be posting pictures! With any luck, our garden will be underway this weekend. Welcome to spring :o)