Days in the Life of This Girl

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
head in the clouds
i've been starting to think about all the things i want to grow in my garden this year. beans, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, peppers, chard, herbs, spinach, zuchinni, cabbage, many types of lettuce and greens, carrots, beets... if i had planned better i would have planted the garlic before the freeze came. maybe just maybe i can get some in just as the ground thaws and have results. anyone have experience with this?

i like winter and the things you can do in it, but it hasn't been that great of a winter. too cold to enjoy the snow or too warm so that it melts or even rains. gets dark by the time i'm home from work and is just barely light when i leave in the mornings. my scant weekend time is usually eaten up by just trying to do regular chores so there has been very little time to do anything outdoors. my snowshoes are feeling very neglected again.

looking forward to some time in warm sunshine, letting my bunnies exercise on the grass, having recreational fires in our firebowl, walks in the park, riding my bike, and maybe picking up a few fun new things to do during the warm weather.

until then, i'm going to be swathed in wool, covered with a blanket or cuddling a warm fuzzy animal (or my hubby the heater) in an attempt to feel less chilled. finding plenty of things which need to be done indoors and finding new ways to procrastinate doing them.

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posted by Jen @ 9:11 PM   1 comments
Saturday, November 21, 2009
hunting and gathering
it's that season again, when the menfolk head out into the woods in search of meat which will get us through the winter. i, for one, am hoping mine gets at least one to help with the food budget in these tight times. that leaves me what is commonly referred to as a "hunting widow". not that i mind that much. gives me some time to myself, me time.

this morning's me time is consisting of writing on my much-neglected blogs, figuring out that my hosting for some of the photos on said blog has been closed without notice and trying to ressurect them, making some excellent breakfast, drinking fair trade coffee with agave syrup and milk, washing some laundry, thinking about what i need at the store to complete the tortilla soup i plan to make, thinking about all the other things i also need to do today, and so on and so forth.

there is of course, the matter of the 6 heads of cabbage outside our house which i hope haven't spoiled that i should make into kraut before making said tortilla soup this evening. and there are all the leaves which have fallen all at once from the giant maple next to the livingroom window which should be bagged before it snows. oh and the garden which should be tilled under and the garlic planted for spring. and the mounds of crap in our house we have been meaning to weed through and simplify. and the checkbook to balance. and the floor to sweep and mop. and the list goes on.

for the moment, i will be peaceful and content in the consuming of my coffee and my experimental eggs (which have turned out delicious).

Experimental Eggs for one

3 maple flavor breakfast sausage links chopped into 1/4" coins
1/2 very small yellow onion chopped
2 new potatoes (I used the tiny ones that came from our garden) chopped into 1/4" cubes
2 eggs
Tabasco sauce

Cook sausage, potatoes and onions in a skillet with a little bit of oil (of your choosing, I used Sunflower) over med/ low heat until potatoes are soft and sausage is done.
Scramble 2 eggs in a separate bowl and add some Tabasco. I think I added about 6-7 shakes.
Pour eggs over the cooked sausage potato mixture and cook like scrambled eggs. Turn over half way through to be sure neither side is really runny.
Sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy. Sweet Spicy Egg Scramble thing.

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posted by Jen @ 11:14 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
back from life
The summer was jam packed with stuff and not enough time to do it. Working full time and trying to enjoy life is difficult when your days off are only the weekends (something I had not dealt with in years having worked a more regular retail job where your weekend tends to fall somewhere around Tuesday). We attempted a real garden (or gardens I should say) this year, having a yard and all. The results were mixed. The tomatoes were our biggest success story, which is told by how many of them I ate this summer in a tomato vinegrette salad and by how many quarts of tomato based products I have already canned this fall.

The frost came early, causing us to pick clean our garden in one evening. The green tomatoes have been pickled in various manners (3 different ways), the celery not quite all used and in the fridge, the hot peppers I will likely dry, the summer squash hoping I find a recipe to use all 7 of them, and the remaining herbs hanging to dry all over the house in bunches. That doesn't even take into account the bounty of produce gotten the weekend of the harvest party out at Driftless Organics CSA. We didn't get a share this year (due to our own garden), but knowing the farmers sure puts you in a good position for picking up your fair share of cabbage, potatoes, peppers, squash and other more exotic types of veggies.

This is the view of our "winter pantry" as it currently appears. Jars lined up, 2-deep full of delicious summer harvest. Tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, tomato basil soup, chicken noodle soup, pickled green tomatoes, piccalilli relish, dilled veggies, pickled beets, bread and butter pickles, chili con carne, sauerkraut, sweet and spicy pickled mini peppers and tomato corn salsa. Yet to come are more dilled veggies, dilled beans, more sauerkraut, chicken veggie soup, maybe some pickled garlic and maybe applesauce.

If I finally get some time, I plan to resume blogging recipies as well.

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posted by Jen @ 10:41 PM   0 comments
Monday, June 01, 2009
I like to ride my bicycle, I like to ride my bike...
For my birthday present to myself in 2007, I purchased a lovely yellow and white road bike which I had had my eye on for a couple of months at the shop. It was my pride and joy. I took to road riding like I never thought I would.

In May of 2008, I became a bicycle commuter, riding 9 miles each way to my job at the bike shop. From then until the snow fell (I skipped 6-8 weeks while finishing wedding planning), I navigated the streets on this noble steed (with a few Metro Transit rides thrown in for good measure on tired or rainy days when I wanted to rest my legs). (When the snow finally did fall, I switched to a more appropriate bicycle for the weather and continued to bike, with the exception of a few exceedingly icy days during which time I cheated).

I have thoroughly loved this bicycle, logging nearly 1000 miles on it. I accessorized it with a cycling computer, a rack, panniers, head and tail light, clipless pedals, fancy saddle, matching helmet and gloves. I was debating which color of handlebar tape I should put on next now that the stock embossed white tape had turned a dingy color of brownish grey.

To my surprise, I found a crack in the frame on Bike to Work Day. It appears all the hard work of taking me to work through the not-so-well-kept streets of Minneapolis had taken it's toll on my trusty bike. My beloved bike frame was headed for warranty replacement land.

The new frame arrived a week ago, lovingly packed in bubble wrap. Before it had even arrived, I'd had three offers from co-workers to assemble it for me (not that I don't know how, but I find I'm a little busy this time of year). The first to offer, Dave, previously my service manager and teacher of many mechanical things. He would be the one to bring life to my new bike.

Today was the day. With the parts stripped from my old frame, Dave went to work, carefully piecing together a masterpiece. And when he was done, a quick spin inside the warehouse let me know, this bike would be loved as much, if not more than the last. It's sleek carbon frame, the new cables and housing, the way it didn't make any noise at all while coasting on the cement....beautiful.

On the way home, I stopped to get the finishing touch - pink handlebar tape. In my mind, I had envisioned this bike streaking down the street with it's hot pink handlebar tape blazing. Turns out, hot pink is a hard color to come by.

I had debated ordering some online, but was well aware that online photos are not always true to color and the tape I ordered could well have ended up being pastel pink or salmon. So I opted for the "hottest" pink stocked by the Erik's, Cinelli pepto pink (or is it bubble gum?). Either way, it looks pretty sweet.

So, should I wake early tomorrow and the sun be shining, I may take this wonder on her maiden voyage through the streets of New Brighton and possibly Long Lake Park. And from there, the horizon shall likely be my ultimate destination.

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posted by Jen @ 9:54 PM   1 comments
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
New recipes
Some tasty things happening in our kitchen lately. Find them at And if I get some time soon, a few snapshots from our Valentine's camping trip, my friend Carey's birthday and even the Fat Tuesday Chili Cookoff. But not tonight. Tonight is for sleeping.


posted by Jen @ 11:28 PM   0 comments
Friday, February 06, 2009
One spoiled doggie
A day in the life of Thor.

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posted by Jen @ 9:25 PM   0 comments
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Baby Fishies
Those of you who have been to our house know that the living room is a veritable "sea world". Over the last couple of years, our saltwater fishy family has grown. Until recently, we had a mated pair of Fire Clownfish. The larger (female) of the two was a wild-caught beauty whom we nursed to health after she didn't do so well on her trip from her native waters to the local tropical fish store where Matt once worked. Her original mate was not so fortunate. We got her a new little guy and they had been living happily in their anemone for some time.

A photo taken the day before her untimely demise.

A recent accident while doing some tank maintenance resulted in the death of the female. Feeling sad about losing her and about our little male being all alone, we decided to get a replacement, which soon became 3 replacements. Our little clownfish now has a brood of three tiny clowns who are already finding their favorite spot in the anemone even on their first day.

Our new brood enjoying their anemone. They will all attain the dark red color as they mature.

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posted by Jen @ 10:19 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Breakfast complete with shiny sun
This morning, I decided to have a real morning, instead of going back to bed when Matt left for work. I had already assembled his lunch (homemade bean soup : pseudo recipe below and homemade apple crisp) and made him a breakfast sandwich (fried up a slice of homemade Goetta sausage on toast, and filled up his thermos with some fair trade organic dark breakfast blend coffee). Time for my breakfast. A slice of the Goetta with a fried egg on some lightly toasted whole wheat with a cup of that same coffee accented with some maple syrup and a dash of whole milk. Yum. I pulled up the shades in our office to let the morning sun shine in and decided I should blog just a smidge. I will be posting some photos a little later today, but I still don't have photo software on our main computer and mine is up in the cold cold attic.

And now the recipes.

Homemade bean soup
I started with pork bone broth (used the bones we had frozen from the pig from our wedding reception). Just simmered those bones in some water forever it seems until they were soft and all the remaining meat and cartiledge fell right off. I used dry beans for soup for the first time. Combining Northern White Beans, Pinto Beans and small Red Beans in a pot, washing them, soaking them, rinsing them, partially cooking them and rinsing again before they were ready for the soup.

Cut up some leftover ham, an onion, celery, carrots, 2 cloves of garlic, and some cabbage and sauted it ever so slightly in butter with some sage. Put about 1/2 cup of dry barley into the broth and set it to simmer for about 15 min before adding in the beans and the other goodies. Let the whole thing sit on low and simmer and hour or two. We had some for dinner last night with some crackers and it was super filling. Has to be all those beans.

Apple Crisp
Peeled and sliced 4 huge Cortland apples from Victoria Valley Orchard (bought for us by Matt's Grandma from the cutest little local orchard you would never know was there). Put them in a 9x13 pan with about 1/4 cup sugar (I used raw sugar), a whole bunch of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cloves, and a dash of ginger. Mixed up the apples to spread out the spices.

In another bowl, mixed up 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 2 cups oats, and about a cup of milk. (I also added about 2 tbsp butter this time around, but last time I made it without cause I didn't have any and it was still delicious). Stir this mixture up well until it's kinda crumbly. Spread it evenly on top of the apples. Bake until the topping is crispy and the apples are soft and they appear to be syrupy.

I have been eating this warmed and topped with yogurt.

Goetta Sausage
Ok, so this might make some of you go ew, but this sausage is made from leftover meat and oatmeal. It's kinda sloppy, but delicious. We had quite a bit of pork still left frozen from our wedding reception and didn'tknow what to do with it, so when we found this German delight on the internet, we thought it was worth a try.

I ground 2 lbs of leftover roast pork with an onion. Then I mixed in 2 1/2 cups of oatmeal and 8 cups of water. I also added a pinch of cayenne pepper. You take this whole sloppy mix, bring it to a boil and then simmer for a couple hours, stirring occassionally. It does get stuck to the bottom of the pan pretty badly otherwise.

Once it starts to look like it's thickening up some, put it into greased loaf pans and put it into the fridge to cool and set up. It's supposed to thicken up so you can slice it and fry it in a pan, but ours had a little more fat than we planned on, so it was a bit gloppy. I thought maybe baking the loaf or adding more oatmeal per pound of meat next time might be a good idea. But we still have sliced it up a bit, then squished the slices in the cast iron skillet to fry it up for breakfast. Currently this is what Matt is having as a favorite breakfast. If you make this, try not to judge it before you taste it.

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posted by Jen @ 8:45 AM   0 comments
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Three months

More coming soon, but I just got the DSL up and running at our new place and currently we only have one computer hooked up, and it doesn't have photoshop (and in case you didn't click on these photos, they are huge). Thanks to my good friend Amy for the beautiful photos.

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posted by Jen @ 9:32 PM   1 comments
Friday, November 07, 2008
no longer a city girl
As much as I have loved the city and living so near to everything, the time came for us to move on and move out. We're in the 'burbs, but it doesn't remind me of what I remember the 'burbs to be. We're still rather close to things. Closer to work by a couple miles which makes biking there even easier. All our necessary things are within five miles, all reachable by human power. We have our own yard in which to play with the dog or plant a garden. We don't have to worry about being a little too loud at night if we get excited about something we see on tv or something we are discussing. It's a little sense of freedom, even if we still don't own anything. And I feel like from here it is just a hop, skip and jump into the "country" which is where we'd both ultimately like to end up. This urban hippie girl will someday just be a happy hippie.

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posted by Jen @ 10:13 PM   0 comments
Seeking to find beauty in the simple and joy in the everyday.
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