Saturday, July 27, 2013

One of my favorite "rooms"

Our back screen porch is one of my favorite rooms at the Green Grass House. It was here when we moved in and I like to picture fifty years of people enjoying a respite from the rain and summer sun, mosquitoes and Colorado winds in this cozy room. It got junked up early in the spring when we started on the basement remodel - what was supposed to be a few weeks of having boxes everywhere turned into months instead. The kids and I decided we needed it back and ended up with the perfect excuse when my cousins came into town from CA to visit. Nothing like a deadline to get you moving on clean up!
Horsey chairs! These are vintage, from my grandparent's long ago basement set up. The windows above them transom up to leave half of this wall screened and open for summer.

My folks' table and chairs - I grew up using these and love that we still get to enjoy family meals on them.

A lovely bench from my mom's friend Sally - I believe it came from her mother in law? Found the cheery bright red wool pillows at World Market at end of season last year - yay!

Sara's favorite spot out here - this big, squishy papasan chair is a great spot to curl up with a book! It was my brother's before it came our way - I just made a new cover for the big pillow my mom had already made for it.
Toy chest built by our neighbors and used by their kids for years before coming our way - full of outside games, blankets for chilly nights and hammocks.

My grandparents' wood burning stove - she cooked many meals on this for ranch hands, family and friends. We are going to pipe it in this fall and hope to keep the memories alive by baking in here ourselves. The cabinet next to it was here when we moved in, tucked back in the garage amidst the other random stuff. Check out the vintage apple press on top - hoping to put that to work this fall!!

My grandparents' tete-a-tete  - it was red wood once upon a time, we have had it for about 15 years now, through two moves and three sets of cushions.

Breakfast set from our first house, with the tiny kitchen and no room for a full table. Little water stand came from my friend Kristy - we just tiled the top a week ago. Funky hutch was built by David for our first apartment - the base and counter are sides from a butcher board style desk that was being thrown away. Our first microwave just about filled that space on the counter LOL!

Cabinets from my grandparents' kitchen remodel years ago. The corner was in the kitchen here, but we had to take it out to fit the bigger size of the '57 stove. Counter topped it two summers ago to make a lovely long buffet for parties here - we can fit all three chafing sets, or lots and lots of trays and platters. The cupboards have all the hand me down melamine that has come our way and lots of other outside entertaining goodies. Right now it is holding drying garlic.
Nearly everything in this room has come our way from someone else. In most cases, it was a treasured piece from someone's past that just didn't quite fit their lives anymore (my parents' table set, horsey chairs, neighbors' toy box) but were too loved to be given away.  In some cases, they are sweet curb dive finds or discarded things that we have chosen to make into something functional and fun.  In one case, it came back to us the long way - the wood burning stove went to one of my cousins' in-laws when the old farm was sold. They used it and enjoyed it for many years, before remodeling the screen porch they had it in. Before moving it, they contacted my cousin to see if she wanted it back.  She didn't, but bless her, she thought of us and our crazy little farmstead. A weekend drive to southeastern CO, a pleasant opportunity to reconnect with people we hadn't seen in years, a trailer and truck drive home to Lakewood and it was back in the family!

When I sit here in the quiet of a late evening or early morning I always feel like there are whispers of so many life moments floating through the air. When I work in this room, gathering the tools for a project, drying a harvest, shaking off shoes or peeling off gloves from the garden,  I feel like they are nodding in agreement that working is part of a full life. When my family is all together in here, listening to some vintage radio, reading or chatting, I feel like they just might be smiling in agreement that relaxation is part of life, too. When I have the pleasure of sharing this room with friends and family, enjoying a meal together or just chatting over a glass,  I feel like those whispers have to be agreeing that sharing our lives with others is one of the best parts of life.
The reminder above the door before you head out into the "real world".

July Garden Recap 2013

A bit early, it isn't quite the end of July, but I have some time to kill today while I wait for a load of laundry to finish drying and that is a rare, rare thing so I'm taking advantage!

The Garden! Ahh, the garden. First time here to (more or less) plant the whole thing.
Things we've learned so far:
  • We planted too light. 
  • Reseeding stuff that doesn't come in is necessary if you want a pretty, consistent garden look.
  • Straw does indeed contain weed seeds, however they are less horrible than the weeds we already had, so it has been totally worth it anyway.
  • Wet cedar fence board walkways are VERY slippery.
  • Shredded bark mulch hides grubs very well, but when you find them, the chickens love to munch them down.
  • A really good base tan from working outside doesn't mean you can't still get burned like a toasty little marshmallow the morning you decide not to bother with sunscreen.
  • Getting a yellow jacket stuck between your foot and the top of the too-big garden slogs you are wearing results in multiple little stings before you can think to yank off the shoe and throw it.
  • Ice on those little stings is a miracle worker!

Aeriel view of the garden - Sara was kind enough to climb on the chicken coop to snag these for me!

Aerial of herb garden and our old cinder block shelves that have made two moves and been around for 15 years now!

 My grandfather's hand me down garden bench and the compost piles (in desperate need of a turning, watering and covering on two of them)

My ham-n-cheese balls posing for a picture in the herb garden.

So far the harvest is...underwhelming...for the amount of work the kids and I have put in. A whole lot of the early summer was spent doing a lot of permanent work that took time, but doesn't result in harvest. The walkways. Fencing between the herb garden and veggie garden so we can do chicken rotation this fall/winter. Putting up the cinder block shelves and Sara's garden tire. Drip systems and other irrigation. All fabulous things that will mean much less work and an earlier start on planting next year (yay!) but set us back for getting stuff in this year (boo!).

So what have we gotten so far? Lots of lettuces of all sorts of varieties. A few tiny tomatoes. Even fewer tiny (but oh, so heavenly) strawberries. Even fewer cucumbers, but more are coming. Tonight - green and yellow beans!  Herbs of several sorts - nearly all of my perennials made it back - our lovage is not happy, but it is there. We lost the sachet lavender (not a huge surprise, it is very borderline for our zone 4/5). I put in many new plants this spring, but that will be another post for another time because I would have to check the garden book to remember them all - we have 35+ varieties of herbs out there.

All in all - not a bad first year on here - particularly considering this has been nearly all the kids and me - David has been working 70+ hours a week for nearly three months now. We are lucky to see him at all some days! Again, a post for another time, but it has been a pretty stressful summer in that respect!

How does your garden grow? :-) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer is kicking my hiney.

What a season so far. David has been working at least 65 hours and often many more at the camper shop, so everything around the Green Grass House has landed on the kids and I so far this year. Whew! My aches have aches, and I keep thinking that SURELY with working this hard the scale should be showing some difference, but it isn't, so far.  So, what have we been up to? 

We planted this year - for the first time - the whole of our garden space. Tomatoes, pole beans, bush beans, potatoes, garlic, melons, squash, basil, leeks, peppers, lettuce and other things I'm forgetting right now. (Luckily it is all in the garden binder I have been working on - that will be another post, though...)

We curb surfed this rolling counter-cart thingie and are fixing it up to use for a FAC market idea I have buzzing around in my head. Maybe. Someday soon?

We had to tear apart our shower (the only shower in the house, mind you) because of rotting tiles and wall. We knew this when we moved in here, but really, really hoped it would be several years. It did make it five years from move in, but finally bit the dust seven weeks ago. Yes, I said seven weeks ago. What was supposed to be a one week or so project has morphed into one of those projects from hell that is still not done nearly two months later. Sigh. On the bright side, I have new-found appreciation for how much I really like showers after two months of tub bathing. :-)
We work with our two new adoptees quite a bit - they both had some rotten habits from before they came to us. Ruby, on the left, is a muttly little girl, theoretically boxer, but definitely not ALL boxer. She came from Fremont County Humane on foster transfer, but she's our first foster fail -she'll be here for the long haul. She is scared of many things but is getting better all the time. Chester is a boxer from Maxfund, he is mostly standard lunkhead boxer. They were both skinny little things (you could put fingers in between every rib on Chester - he was found hiding under a bush in a park in Denver) that are filling in nicely and just want to be near us all the time.

It isn't all work all the time - more posts later on that - for now I'm off to feed kids!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Asian Themed Chicken or Turkey Lettuce Wraps

FINALLY! I have a few spare minutes to start blogging up some of our favorite Green Grass House recipes.

Asian Themed Chicken or Turkey Lettuce Wraps were inspired a bit by Elephant Bar at Belmar in Lakewood. We like to eat there, but it is in a decidedly hip little area that tends to look at the kiddos and us like we are strange interlopers from the Nether. That, combined with it being a little pricey and tough to get into a lot of the time convinced us we needed to make our own - plus now we can control exactly where our ingredients come from - extra bonus!

What you need for 4 fairly hefty servings:

3/4 cup sliced raw almonds
2 tbsp. olive oil (or other high heat cooking oil if you prefer)
2-3 stems of brocolli (yep, just the stalks - a great way to use them up!)
1 pound ground turkey or chicken (we have done packaged, and ground at home, both work just fine)
2 cloves of garlic (for normal people - we use 6, but we really, really love garlic around here)
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce (feel free to use more to taste - I have to watch my salt intake so we go a little low on this)
1 tbsp. mixed Asian blend sesame seed/sea salt *

* We had a lovely blend made by The Art of Spice that we used - it finally ran out and we had to recreate it ourselves - 1 part white sesame seed, 1/2 part black sesame seed, 1 part medium grind sea salt, 1 part Chinese 5 spice powder. If you don't want to go to the effort of making it, or if you can't find all of these, we carry it in our shop, too.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan until crunchy and brown over high heat.

Set toasted almonds aside, turn heat down to medium and add turkey/chicken to your hot pan. If you are using low fat breast cuts, add a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking at this point. While meat is browning, turn your attention to the veggies.

 Peel the tougher sides of brocolli off and coarsely dice them. Peel and thinly slice garlic cloves.

 Add the brocolli and garlic to your pan, along with the rest of the olive oil if you didn't already add it all with your meat.
Cook, stirring frequently over medium high heat until veggies are softened and meat is well browned.

 Reduce heat to low and add sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame/salt blend and stir well. 

 Serve with large leaf lettuce - iceberg is the kids' favorite, I'm partial to one of the butterhead varieties. Scoop spoonfuls into the middle of a leaf, roll it up sort of like a lettuce taco and munch away. It's messy, so eat over the plates, but oh, so good!

 We sometimes use this as an "in front of the tv watching a movie dinner", too!  This is Sara's setup, complete with little umbrellas in the water glasses and the Xbox remote primed for surfing Netflix. :-)


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So, it happened yesterday...

I turned 40. An event I anticipated would be heralded with some impressive celebrating and a hearty dose of grown up frolicking. Instead all I wanted to do was crawl in a cave and hide out until it blew over. What is wrong with me? I apologize in advance - this will be a different post from the usual here. I was raised that sharing your upsets, your heartbreaks, your sadness, your frustrations - all of these were not allowed. They just upset other people and that is a no-no of epic proportions. I go.

I had this idea in my head, one where 40 would be older, wiser, more in control. I would exude that confidence associated with people truly comfortable in their skin. I would have children that people wanted to be around. They would be the epitome of amazing homeschooled kids that would *prove* without a doubt that I was making the right choice for them.  I would have a house that invited people in and made them want to be here. I would have a business that supported our family and our community. I would have a wonderful group of friends that stretched far and wide. I would be both cougar sexy and motherly. I would homestead, work, school, create, volunteer, nurture, inspire, change the world and do it in size 6 yoga pants and matching tiny tees. I would live up to at least some semblance of the overblown impossible ideals that are foisted upon women in my generation - the idea that you CAN have it all - that women for generations before us fought for us to be able to do ANYTHING.And you should do it all FABULOUSLY all the time.

You already know where this is going. Of course, that ideal is impossible. Of course I'm none of those things. Of course I'm not the only one that feels this way. Of course, I shouldn't let these feelings bog me down. And yet, it feels Like if I haven't gotten somewhere in the zip code of this ideal yet, there is no longer hope for it to happen. I'm overweight. I'm unhealthy and likely to kick off before my kids are grown if I can't fix that. Sexy isn't even in the running for an adjective in my descriptors. Size 6 was 17 years ago. My business continues to putter along - not supporting anyone, but taking time, energy and money. Our third home is in its fifth year of remodeling. Although doing it yourself is rewarding and cheaper, it takes so. darn. much. time. I have many, many acquaintances but few friends because I am a bad friend.  My children, although delightful in so many ways, are frustrating...and frustrated. With me. With our chaotic life. Our schooling is sporadic - wonderful some days, not so much on others. Sara is starting into the pre-teen years of questioning - herself, me, the world as a whole. Alex has learning issues that make everything we work on...harder.

Then I start in on the self-doubt. Is it my fault he is that way? Something in the womb? Not enough stimulus in those first months? Not enough time together? Not enough intervention from outside sources? Do we work too much? Not enough? Why didn't we buy an easy house? Why do I volunteer with things that don't reward me back? Why can't I say no? Why don't I make friends easily? Why does my willpower suck? Am I ruining my children?  Am I ruining me? Am I ruining EVERYTHING?

I *know* without a doubt that I should stop my whining. There are so many people in the world, and in my immediate life, that have it tougher by a stretch. Friends with kids who are sick, so sick that their time here is limited in ways I can't imagine. Friends who are losing parents. Friends with financial struggles that make my business grumbles pale in comparison. People with a whole host of problems that leave my little whines in the dust. But then there are also the people that make my life look just as cruddy as it feels. Friends with the proverbial "world on a string". Marathon running moms with impressive jobs, amazing children, perfect homes and adoring husbands. Are they really all of that? Probably not. The fabulous (and horrifying) thing about the internet is you can be just about whatever you want. Pinterest the right things, post the right things, link to the right things - anyone can create the idea of a perfect life. I *know* this all in my head...but my heart is another matter.

So, what now? A little baring of the soul is good for a cathartic cleansing (and I know that so few people read this blog that it isn't really like I'm throwing everything out to the whole wide world - one of the few times I am grateful for not being a big time blogger type!). I suppose it is good that the first born perfectionist in me will not allow me to just wallow in this for too long. People might find out how lame I really am. Better get on it and fix that. Therein being one of the problems. How? If I was capable of "fixing" it, wouldn't I have already done so? Why aren't I willing to make changes that help life? Is it really that hard to put my well being first? Or maybe that is the problem...I'm too selfish? And back to the doubting we go. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where did January go????

My pondering for the morning as I am getting co-ops squared away, invoicing people for the homeschool Valentine's Party, and being inundated with garden planning info - what the heck happened to my January? I know the answer,but it was still a shock to see February come up on the calender. We were flattened by the flu for nearly 10 days. Never has the whole family had one bug, all at the same time, that smooshed us with the ferocity of this year's respiratory influenza. Five days of that was spent with all of us hovering in the 100+ fever fog, watching crazy amounts of Dr. Who and Create TV and basically taking turns with who was most able to get up and stumble to get more ginger ale, soup, hot tea and ibuprofen. We're all good now, but losing that much time in our normal crazy and chaotic lives has wreaked some serious havoc on the The Green Grass House.  We're behind on all sorts of stuff: school for sure, and work, sort of, although that is mostly caught up - just a couple more orders that came up during that time to wrap up. I start playing for a children's theater this week - something new to stretch my boundaries and wings a bit - that will wipe me off the slate here for the next 3 afternoon/evenings and all day Saturday. All in all, lots of funkiness happening this month and last!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cleaning up my interwebz...

Got a wicked backache today and just really don't feel like doing much of anything productive...but really would feel like a big bum to call it a day at 10 am. Solution? Twiddle around on the web - fixing blog headers, finally publishing our Green Grass House Facebook page (yep, never got around to it after the big "cover and profile" pic changes many months ago), create logos, place product supply orders, lots of projects that I can sit on my behind to do :-) Bum children are taking full advantage of having a few more days of freedom before we get back into schooling - Sara is currently on Zoo Tycoon and Alex is Minecrafting. Did I mention a bum sort of day? Um...yep. Funniest find so far...I apparently REALLLY need to update the landing page we made years ago for a project that needed just one website for all the things we did: The Zserdin Family page The thing is - I really like that picture, so maybe it will just stay that way - or I will dig up something current, too and leave both.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

It was a super low key New Year's Eve for us this year - made foo-foo appetizers with the kids for the four of us and played board games, watched a few episodes of Once Upon a Time and just barely made it to the ball drop - I think we were all in bed about 5 minutes after :-)
There is a theory that whatever you do on New Year's Day will set the precedent for your year - with this in mind we worked some, played some and created some. A little bit of house cleaning, and made a list for back to work on Wednesday. Made a gigantic batch of 40 breakfast burritos to freeze. Cleaned out and organized the spice cupboard and magnetic rack, cleaned the fridge out, made menus for the rest of the week and did lots of laundry. And best of the day, made a 5 gallon batch of mead!  We burned the bad from last year, but have yet to make resolutions - I'm always so torn on those, in some ways they seem destined to fail and more appropriate to some of the other holidays that celebrate the turning of the wheel more distinctly. At any rate - probably tonight! Hope this finds all of you out there well and Blessed!