Monthly Archives: June 2009

Brian’s Project: A Tractor Post

“So… since you’re always looking for interesting pictures for your blog, you should come outside and bring your camera” says my husband when I arrived home last night.

“Is everything alright!?” I said, a little worried.

I went out to see what he was talking about. Turns out his project for the day involved tearing apart our main tractor, a JD 4010. We put a lot of money in to this tractor last year and had joked that it was not allowed to break down ever again. The only thing left to break was the hydraulic pump and it really needed to be replaced awhile ago. It died out in the hay field the other day so Brian hauled it home. He had to take off the entire front axle to get the pump out. The pump itself costs $1200 so any money we can save on labor is great. I’m so glad Brian can do stuff like this!

Here is the tractor where it sits until the pump is replaced. That red thing in the picture is The Bone Creeper. Brian asked for the creeper as a Christmas present last year and he uses it a lot.

Here is the front axle!

What kind of projects are going on at your house?

Menu Plan Monday

Toast or cereal with fruit for me, eggs for Brian.

Mostly PB&Js + pretzels and/or lettuce & peas from the garden + string cheese (same as last week unless I get creative)

Monday: Walleye Parmesan with Homemade Garlic Shells

Tuesday: Lil Smokies with Homestyle Mac & Cheese

Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Hamburgers with Baked Potatoes on the grill

Thursday: Chicken Tenders (from a bag :P) and Hashbrowns

Friday: Homemade Pizza & Breadsticks

Sour Cream Raisin Cookies (may go in our lunches) and Easy Apple Crisp with Ice Cream

Check out what everyone else is eating over at Menu Plan Monday.

What are you eating lately? I’d love some new make ahead recipes and have some to share as well.

A Year’s Worth of Strawberries

Old bath towels are great for covering the countertops when canning. No worries about making a mess! This is where we were crushing the berries and that is all of the foam we scraped off after boiling.

Our filling station and some of the finished product.

This is called working double time.

I’m spending the day with my Mom and sister today. We met at our favorite berry farm just after 8 AM and started picking. 30 pounds of strawberries later we headed for home. My Mom hulled all those berries while my sister and I went to Meijer for more pectin. Of course we also stopped by the bathing suit section, etc., etc. but we finally made it back home.

That’s when the fun began. We had a pretty good assembly line going. One would crush, one would stir 2 batches at a time, and the third would manage the canner and jars. We pumped out 2 batches before breaking to attend my cousin’s graduation party. It was nice to see some family that I don’t get to visit with very often.

Back at home the jam making continued. We also sliced some berries to freeze and left the 12# that we picked last week in the freezer for shortcake throughout the year.

All in all, here is our bounty:

25 pints jam
13 half pints jam
8 4 oz. jars jam
20 cups crushed, frozen berries
2 qts. sliced frozen
10 cups “foam” to use right away

If Brian and I used 1 pint every 2 weeks (which we won’t) we would have enough for a whole year plus some for my Mom and sister (who don’t use much) and plenty to give away. I’d say this was a success. 🙂

About half of the finished product.

Do you can your own jams or jellies? Do you do enough for a whole year? This time we went to the U-pick farm but I’m hoping to have enough of our own someday. Does anyone grow all of their own fruit for jam?

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday was started last week by Amy over at Muddy Boots. I see she hasn’t done a FF post yet today so it may not be an ongoing thing. However, I’ve been working my butt off and I’m ready to talk about it!!

I haven’t mentioned this sooner because I know how I am. I get all fired up about things and forget them the next week. I didn’t want to talk about working out if I was going to quit. Well, not this time!! I started Jillian Micheal’s 30 Day Shred Workout on Monday, June 15th. I’ve worked out Monday – Friday for two weeks now.

I heard about the shred from several different places right in a row, even from one of my new favorite blogs Cents to Get Debt Free.

For those not familiar with the workout it goes like this:
There are 3 levels, progressively harder.
Each level is a short warm-up, 18 minutes of hard work, and a short cool down totaling around 22 minutes.
You do 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of abs and repeat 3 times.
Each 6 minute circuit features different exercises so it is NOT BORING, which I like.

I stuck to level 1 for the first 6 days. Tuesday I moved to level 2. I confess that I didn’t work very hard Tuesday morning because I was confused and slow to grasp the new moves. This could have been avoided by watching the segment first but I thought it might scare me off. Instead I watched it on fast forward afterward, pausing for the moves that stumped me. Wednesday, despite getting up @ 5 AM in hopes of working out, I was only able to squeeze in about 10 minutes total. I worked extra hard for that 10 minutes to compensate! 😉 Today was the first time I really got in to level 2 from start to finish. It was challenging and I was fighting hard at the end just to finish.

I can honestly say I have never physically worked this hard before, at least not consistently. It is addicting. I can’t wait to get up and get started. I feel so good afterward and think this is a big part of why I’ve been in a really good mood lately.

As for physical results, I am already seeing them. Day 2 I weighed 134.8#. After one week I weighed 132.4#. I won’t be surprised if I gain or level off as I build muscle but I’d like to be around 120-125 like I always was until the last couple years. My clothes fit a little better already.

I haven’t changed much about the way I eat although I am watching my portion sizes and avoiding mindless eating and stress eating. I’m trying to add in more fruits and veggies and have realized that I eat A LOT of bread.

What do you do to stay in shape? Have you ever taken on a regular workout? Were you happy with the results?

I really did do a Menu Plan!

I really did, I just never posted it. Okay, I also never finished it. Better late than never. Here it is:

Mostly frosted shredded wheat.

Mostly PB&Js + pretzels and/or lettuce & peas from the garden + string cheese

Monday: Leftover Spaghetti and Quick Cheese Bread

Tuesday: Meatball Subs/Toasted Bread with Parmesan

Wednesday: Hot Breaded Chicken Salad (this was great to take to the hay field)

Thursday: Lil’ Smokies (for me)/Hamburgers (for Brian) w/ Cheddar Potato Strips

Friday: Marinated Steak and Baked Potatoes on the grill

Strawberry Shortcake w/ whipped cream or ice cream

What are you eating this week?

Cut Off From the World

Okay, I don’t consider myself to be very high tech. I haven’t used my ipod in 6 months and I refuse to text message. However, today I felt so cut off from the world it was scary, and I was having major withdrawals. Our internet is only working off and on so if I’m missing for awhile that will be why. We can no longer pick up a good signal and there is nothing the company can do to fix it so we’re looking for a new service provider. Every time I turned around today I couldn’t continue with my plans because I couldn’t get online. Here’s what I mean:

I wanted to preserve my garlic scapes but I didn’t remember how they said to do it on that website I looked at the other day.

Since my Mom, Brian, and I picked a bunch of strawberries on Saturday I was dying to try Abbie’s Strawberry Shortcake recipe but couldn’t get the page to load.

I was planning to browse recipes for this weeks’ menu plan and knew I wanted to make Quick Cheese Bread with dinner tonight. Luckily this thing started working. The bread is in the oven so I’ll keep you posted!

More importantly, the builder was here repairing the shed that burned and I needed to write him another check. I had to tell him not to cash it for a few days since I couldn’t get online to transfer the money from our savings to our checking, or to update our check register and compare the online banking with our Quickbooks.

Maybe I really am addicted to the internet like my husband used to claim. Of course he doesn’t say that now, he’s too busy fighting me for the computer so he can check the weather, browse craigslist, drool over tractors on ebay, and watch the grain prices on our local elevator’s website. Oh, what is this world coming to!?!

Where do you spend your time online? Do you rely on the web like we do?

Herbs and Our Front Porch

I picked up some herbs from two different places lately and finally planted them today. The planter boxes are something that my Dad was getting rid of. I think he made them from old deck lumber. I painted over the brown paint so they now match our porch. There were already drain holes drilled in the bottoms. I added some hay and then a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.

From left to right we have Peppermint, Thyme, and Lavender. If the plants do well I expect the Peppermint and Lavender to fill in the box.

Here from left to right is Curly Parsley, Rosemary, Basil, and more Curly Parsley.

We were just talking about how much we enjoy our porch so I thought I’d share a few more pictures. A passerby during early evening might find us sipping iced tea in our Adirondack chairs. We found this table in the garage when we moved in so I painted it to match.

Of course the dogs are never far away. I’m really surprised that Maci hasn’t chewed up or otherwise damaged those citronella pots yet. I picked them up on clearance years ago for 10 cents each and just got them out the other day.

The iced tea is cold, won’t you join us for a glass!?

P.S. I’ve finally replied to the comments from the last 3 posts so if you had left a comment you may want to check back there. Sorry I’ve been slacking lately! 🙂