Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dirty Hands - Happy Heart!

Here is how one thing can lead to another and here is how my sunny days melted away into chilly nights!
I'm preparing my soil for a cottage style garden - a garden that is a mix of flowers and yummies. Except my really handy Mantis didn't work and I had to do it all by hand!

Here is how a small project turned mammoth!

I wanted a little brick 'niche' right next to the sidewalk. This little 'niche' would be the perfect size for a table to sit two people - me and the Apple Farmer! Wouldn't that be sweet? The rest of the grass in this area would be turned and garden would be planted in it. Only problem was, I hit something hard when I started removing sod! I unearthed an old path which likely leads to the site where once stood an outhouse - a necessary edifice in the early days of our 130 year old farm house! So my little 'niche' got bumped out into the middle of my flower bed. I didn't finish un-earthing the path, or I'm sure I'd still be digging today!

Here is why I go to bed after I take Advil!
But I'm sure these onions are going to be so yummy this summer in salads and sandwiches!

Here is why my muscles hurt - not because I run - but because I plant asparagus!
My chickens like it when I dig up the dirt! They scratch and scratch! They also scratched up all the onions we planted in the above bed! The onions have officially been planted twice - that is why they will taste extra good this summer!

So now you know why my hands are dirty and my heart is happy!

Time to weed the strawberry patch! Can you see how much fun that will be? Grrr! But I'm sure I will be really happy when it looks like the north end of the asparagus bed - all cleaned up and ready to go!!

Cash or Check Only!

No electricity, no problem! It doesn't stop the Amish and Mennonites in our area from building a great business! But, if you decide to visit two of my favorite places and forget to bring cash or check along because you are in the same habit that I am of using the debit card, you will find yourself up a creek, which is where I've found myself on more than one occassion! But happily, not today!

Today we were in need of asparagus crowns, peat moss and elemental sulpher (to plant my blueberries in so that they will live long and prosperous lives). Of course, it is nearly impossible to leave this place with other essentials, like a Fuscia, eight little brussel sprout starts (mmmmm!) and some rooting hormones... Yeah, I know, who buys rooting hormone? Well, I do when I want to propagate a bunch of concord grapes and red raspberries!
I LOVE greenhouses!

I really, REALLY LOVE greenhouses!!

So I tried to get out of the greenhouse within a reasonable amount of time....
We also went to H&M! Bulk foods and great prices! You can even buy a big bag of dehydrated marshmallows to mix in your healthy cereal so it isn't healthy anymore!

Our main purpose for coming here was to buy candy! I know! Even my kids had a hard time pulling their jaws up off the floor when I told them what was on the shopping list! But hey, there's a price to pay for being the favorite Aunt, and this favorite Aunt has only a couple more days to get ourselves ready to head to higher elevation to enjoy a bunch of nieces and nephews! Thirteen, to be precise! Note to siblings and parents: I can't wait to see you all either!!

The 5K Puzzle

I'm starting to experience a running burn-out! I've been feeling it coming on for a couple of weeks now, and because I really want to meet my 5K goal this coming September, my burn-out concern has been in the fore-front of the peanut in my noggin. So, while at the grocery the other evening, when the Runners Times magazine reached out to me and beckoned, I followed its call. I really try to avoid purchases like these because they are not on the grocery list! So I thumbed through it looking for an excuse to ignore the temptations and put it back on the rack! I didn't put it back on the rack...

It has been a very educational and fabulous read! I've tried to order books on interlibrary loan on the topic of running, including one very highly recommended by my sister-in-law, Teresa, the "Chi of Running," and the books have been unavailable. So this read was perfect timing!

A fabulous article, called The 5K Puzzle, has me all charged up again with a whole new perspective. After reading the article for the fourth time, I am certain that my burnout has everything to do with working too hard! Too hard? Yup! Too hard! I'm a tough coach when it comes to coaching myself to run! LOL I drive myself for improvement and focus on mileage for the training log! But I'm a changed self coach and will refer to this article all the way up to race time! It has reminded me that the reason we run is for fun.... duh! I kinda forgot that part! It is full of guidelines for improvement without over doing and ruining the efforts made to improve pace, endurance, stride, efficiency and even recovery!

So there it is! Goodbye burnout! Hello fun! And today was fun!! Tuesday was a medium run, which, as a beginner, the short, medium and long runs will not vary greatly yet. So I decided this means that my long run is likely my hilly road run - I can accomplish it in around 40 minutes. My short run is likely about a mile and a half, roughly 15 minutes (a tad over that because I'm really slow!)- I can run that and still have plenty "gas in the tank," so my medium run is going to be somewhere in between and so I aimed for a 30 minute run (note the focus on time, not distance - see, the article is already working for me!). I tried to aim for more level terrain - it was a beautiful morning!! Found some, but still, not much!

Going Up! Up! Up!

Running through one of our hayfields towards Joe's house - isn't the Amish Saltbox Style architecture so neat?
My running buddy - she can't run on the highway with me, but she can run around the farm with me!!

Much better! Level ground! But check out all of the pruning that still needs to happen!

Running up through the hayfield to the north side of the orchard - up! up! up!

Ah - level for a teensy bit with a lovely lift in a short bit!

I can handle this one!! Down! We call this The Fairway - I'd be lying if I said we've never considered a driving a golf ball down that direction!

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
- a chinese proverb

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Nursery!

After my lettuce, broccoli and artichokes germinated and wore out their welcome in my bay window in the front room, I relocated these little babies into the cold frame outside the front door. But I probably relocated just a tad early, since we are expecting 26 degrees tonight... Now if they were still in my bay window we would be enjoying lovely evenings in the 50's, but not anymore! I ruined that luxury! So there they are under glass with a brooding lamp over the top of them all. They are incubating! Well, that is except for the artichokes. They were germinated and destined for a productive life while they are under my cruel control and they are in the process of being brainwashed so that they will think that they will be starting their second year of life this summer. We are slightly too cold for this amazing perennial plant. And it will never live a perennial life here, that's for darn sure! So while the above little plants bask in the warmth of the brooding lamp, the little artichokes are left in the dark to shiver and winterize. (insert evil laugh)

Souvenir and Farewell!

Flat Stanley-etta is on her way back home to Ashlin! Don't worry, Ashlin, I marked on the envelope so that the post master will be extra careful so our friend and traveler will arrive safely back to you!

Flat Stanley-etta didn't leave here empty handed, though! I've been busy working on some gifts and Flat Stanley-etta saw this bracelet that I had just finished and just knew it would be a perfect souvenir to bring back for Ashlin!! So this fun Cha-Cha bracelet is also making its way to Utah!

We send it to you with tons of hugs and kisses! Thanks for sending your Flat Stanley-etta to us! We really enjoyed her!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Great Visit with Flat-Stanley-etta

We have company! She arrived in an envelope in our mailbox and boy are we ever excited!!
Today was the busiest day of our visit. We packed up and spent the day in the city! This is a pretty exciting thing for us to do because when we go to the city we take care of appointments and shopping that we don't have available locally. It is almost a two hour trip, but the time to travel will vary every single trip, since you never know when you are going to get stuck behind a horse and buggy, a slow moving tractor, or road construction. Today, we managed to find all three!Where ever we go, we always buckle up!

Our first item of business was four appointments with the pediatric dentist. Her Royal Highness was seen for the first time since she was two weeks old. She had her first cleaning and X-ray and was a perfect little patient. The hygeinist remembered assisting the dentist with the procedure almost three years ago!

X-rays show that she has a perfect little permanent tooth waiting to fill the spot where her natal tooth was extracted. Since I stayed with my little peanut for her first cleaning, Flat-Stanley-etta offered to stay with the bigger boys to be a support to them!

Watching TV with Human Resources!

We didn't get a photo of the President at his appointment. He wouldn't sign my photo release allowing me to post his photo on my blog...

After working up an appetite at the dentist, we got to have lunch at sonic, which is a very rare treat!

Everybody say grilled CHEESE...

The Attorney is letting Flat-Stanley-etta try out some of his fruity flavored drink!

The fun doesn't stop here! We got to go to Target and do a little shopping for Her Royal Highness' fast approaching third birthday. The bead store to pick up a few items to finish a couple of projects! Flat-Stanley-etta got a little carried away in here. She tried to bathe in a bowl of blue pearls!

After the pearl bath, the fabric store and finally Wal-mart for some much needed milk and bananas. After loading up the groceries and driving home, we unloaded! Silly Flat-Stanley-etta thought she would be clever and sneak a ride into the house in the bag of bananas. Unfortunately she hurt her arm! No need for panic because I'm really good with bandaids! In no time, she was fixed up as good as new! And Amazingly, despite her great pain, she just kept on smiling through the whole ordeal!

Ahhhh! The day is done and here is the picture of the crew! What a busy day!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Rather than hitting the hills today, I relied on my kind but dull treadmill and ran the 'flat-lands'. The weather, above freezing, didn't favor running. A bit too foggy on the rural route for the dusty orange colored windbreaker that I commandeered from the Apple Farmer.

After all of my whining over running those mocking and frozen hills that meander past our farm, I am now ready to confess that they have been a big help to me in just the five times that I've run them in the last week and a half! Progress, still, has been very slow going for me and my impatience hasn't been extremely motivating for journaling about. Yet, I'm once again recognizing that without documenting the hard and pathetically slow runs, and writing only about the landmark runs, I set myself up to reflect back on the highlights, which would never truly represent the growth that this quest will finally bless me with when I complete my first 5K race in September.

I'm very pleased to report that my knee, along with some hip pain, seems to have resolved itself. I credit this to the advice my friend Jessica gave me, to raise my incline from zero to .05 or 1.0. Upon making this change, the relief was immediate, even though I initially bawled about having to run up a 'hill' during my workouts. The pain slowly healed and I have been two weeks without any issues now.

A couple of weeks ago, I also began setting the 5K race on my treadmill, rather than running until I hit three miles. I really like this setting for several reasons. I set my pace, it keeps time and 'remembers' my finishing time while I walk to cool down, and it counts down from 5K to 0. For some reason, counting down, rather than counting up just feels better for me! The think that I love most about running in kilometers, rather than miles, is that kilometers count down a lot faster than miles do, even though I'm running the same distance! When I hit the button that sends my very slow running pace up to a 'running-for-my-life' pace, I get great satisfaction out of watching those numbers turning so fast that they even have to skip 2, 3 or even 5 numbers to keep up with me!!

Today's run was one of those landmark runs. First, I ran 5K without stopping to walk. This was very exciting since I was really feeling doubt that I had any capability left in me to run like I used to. I was excited to make it half-way through the run with ease. Since I had made it to the half-way point with ease, I felt that completing the run without stopping would be a realistic challenge. The last 2 K I had to employ a lot of positive self talk, with the last 1 K requiring a lot of determination to keep moving. Obviously, this run would also qualify as my 'pre-mid-life' personal best time, since I was able to complete it without walking. My 5K times prior to the drudgery of running my hills have made steady improvement: 43 minutes and 20 seconds,
40 minutes and 12 seconds, and a lucky 40 minutes and 9 seconds. My time today was 37 minutes and 30 seconds.

A lot of my impatience and frustration as I plug away at my goal stems from the memory of my personal best when I was 23 years old. My time was based on a 3 mile run and not a 5k run. I haven't taken the time to figure out how the pace would transfer over to a 5K because 3 miles is getting pretty close to a 5K, except to figure that it was fast in comparison with what I now manage! I completed the 3 miles in 21 minutes and 18 seconds which averages to a 7 minute 6 second mile. Not fast compared to many, but it still felt great to finish with that time as my best time! I may never reach that pace again, or maybe I will. I don't know what my body still has in it! I do have to constantly remind myself that what I am accomplishing now is what is important, and even though the progress has been slow, I need to focus on the fact that it all has been progress!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!

The Hopkins were so kind to watch our kids for us while the Apple Farmer and I went to the city to celebrate our anniversary on Monday! The kids had a blast with them! This is one of the day's events that they are still talking about --
The Dart! Original paint and perfect interior!
A show car!

And they all got to try out the driver's seat!!

So the when the Apple Farmer saw the advertising for a car show down in K.C. he couldn't resist taking his boys.
The President and the Attorney jumped at the opportunity and had a great time!
They didn't say, but I think there was a lot of drooling last night!
There were classics and concepts, slot cars and a really cool robot. Above is an Audi R8 with 525 horse power. Below is a Corvette Stingray Concept.

The Attorney's favorite was the Ford F350
and the presidents 'favoritest' was the Porsche.
And since I have now been corrected by the seven year old that there is an 's' in Porsche, and a 't' and an 'e' in Corvette, and I'm very indifferent as to how many horses there are under the hood of a car, I probably ought to consider my post complete, as it is very obvious that I am writing about something I know absolutely nothing about!
One thing I do know, is that I will be cleaning up the zillions of car brochures that will be laying around my house for the rest of the year!!!

Sour Dough Heaven!

Here is my final product!
And is it ever divine!
I can't count how many times I've gone in search of a good loaf of sour dough bread and have come up empty handed!

My sour dough wo's are over and a good loaf is as simple as mixing up some of my very happy starter with water, flour and salt and letting rise over night. Then I shape and let them rise for a few more hours, then bake!

We've made sandwiches with these, toasted them and they are just like english muffins, made garlic bread and french toast!


Twoy-wees is how her Royal Higness asks for curlies in her hair! I honored her request this last Sunday, since I had turned her down several times the week previous. Here is what we ended up with! A sweet little girl who is all about being a girly-girl!
The dress is one I made for her birthday last year and I'm so happy that it still fits her! I made several attemps at smocking and never hand pleated the fabric tight enough to make it work. I finally went and found a small checked gingham to help with a tight pleat and it made a world of difference. I enjoy smocking and I hope to have the chance to do some more smocking, but I hope I'm not limited to gingham fabrics for the rest of her royal toddler-hood!