Sunday, March 31, 2019

The homestretch...

I don't have much to write.  I spent all weekend analyzing data.  My head hurts from looking at so many numbers.  The good news is I am done with my class at the end of April.  I am also in charge of implenting a new program at work this April.  If my nerves aren't streached tight enough, last week the roads were black ice on the way to work and back.  I'm really hoping that isn't the case this week.  I know April just starts tomorrow, but I am ready for it to be over.

 I did get a few minutes to slip into the greenhouse and plant some spinach, lettuce, bok choy, and peas.  As you can see in the adjacent photo, it will be awhile before I can play in the outside beds.  The snow has melted enough to see that the mice have decimated many of the trees.  It is very frustrating.  I really hate mice.
A pretty boring blog overall.  Once I'm done with my class there will be more projects, baking, and gardening.  I just have to make it through April.  Do you have any big goals?  Have you been able to get in the garden?  What have you planted?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Rotten snow...

This time of the year is frustrating.  It is finally warm enough that you want to be outside, but the snow is still deep and rotten.  Snowshoeing is impossible, because it sticks to the snowshoes.  If you don't use snowhoes then you just trudge through knee deep snow.  Poor Ella just tried to swim through it.  Do you see her peeking?
I'm still making wine.  My husband got me a wine barrel for Christmas and it is fabulous.  It really enhances the taste.  I put my Concord grape wine in the oak barrel for a month.  I then bottled it.  I also bottled some sour cherry wine.  People keep giving me berries and I finally gave in and upped my game.  I went from making 1 gallon batches to five gallon batches.  You are only supposed to use one type of wine per oak barrel, but I think the grape that soaked into the barrel will be a nice addition to the chokecherry.  I have three five gallon batches of chokecherry, so it will be used quite a bit.  My 'fun' hobby is actually quite a bit of work.  I reuse wine bottles and it takes a lot of elbow grease to clean off the labels.  The five gallons of grape made quite a few bottles.  Luckily, a nice niece has been saving bottles for me.  She saved the day today.   I had no large bottles left except the ones she gave me.   My grandmother also was a big help, because long ago she gave me a copper scrubber.  I have found the best way to get rid of labels is to let them soak and then scrape the paper off.  The glue comes off easily with a slow small stream of cold water and that copper scrubber. 

While perusing Pinterest I found a book about wine making, The Homebuilt Winery written by Steve Hughes.  He talks about taking an old wine barrel, stripping it down, and re-sanding the inside.  My husband got me a 5 gallon barrel, but before that I had little gallon barrel.  It worked perfectly for my raspberry wine.  After about the fifth batch, it stopped enhancing the flavor and did the opposite.  I found my little barrel and the metal bands came off easily.  In case things fit together like a puzzle, I took tape and numbered all of the staves.  Next weekend I will sand it down and re-burn the inside.  It should be ready about the same time as my next batch of raspberry wine.

Another future project is starting my seeds.  I dug out around the greenhouse.  Hopefully, this week the ice will melt and I can plant some lettuce and spinach.  I need to sort thorough my seeds and determine what I need.  Every winter a volunteer tomato appears somewhere in my houseplants.  This year I have one in my mother-in-laws tongue.  Hopefully, it will make it to spring.  Not the best photo.  It is going to take some work to re-pot the little bugger.

Homework is still slowing me down, but I still seem to finish a few projects here and there.  I saw a blue bird on the first day of spring, so hope springs eternal.  How is your spring going?  Are you off to a good start?  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Spring has yet to spring...

Here in the Black Hills January and February are known for being cold.  March and April are known to bring big snows.  We had a blizzard on Wednesday.  It is hard to tell, but we probably got about 18 inches of snow.  The wind blew like crazy, so we had some lovely drifts.

 A long time ago we invested in a tractor with a snowblower.  It didn't take long to make a trail to the main road.  The best part is we are supposed to have temperatures in the 40's and 50's next week.  Yeah.
I made some chocolate babka loaves this weekend.  They turned out perfectly.  As you can see a little mouse nibbled on the corner of one loaf.  I love Pinterest.  Without it I would have never known the joys of babka.  Chocolate and bread.  How could you ever go wrong with that?

I hope you all survived the snow and flooding.  My mom sent photos of a Robin.  My husband and I saw about fifteen disgruntled geese standing on a frozen pond.  Spring is around the corner.  

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Will wonders ever cease...

Saturday was miserable.  We had several more inches of snow and nasty winds.  It has been a long winter.  

Friday morning had been warm, so the teachers and I introduced 30 students to the joys of snowshoeing:)  Have you ever taken 30 teenagers to do anything?  It is always an adventure.  South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks has an excellent program that allows you to borrow snowshoes for free.  I have used it before with my nieces.  Anyway, our center is in a beautiful location next to the creek.  We handed out snowshoes and started helping students figure out how to get them on.   All of a sudden I look up and half the kids are gone.  They didn't wait for everyone.  I headed out after them at a run.  I'm always anticipating disasters, like somebody falling through the ice or heading off on their own.  Well, it turned out to be a perfect day.  We figured half the students would 'dip out' as they call it and quit after 200 yards of hard work.  Boy we were wrong.  All in all the little buggers went a minimum of 2 1/2 miles and some went 3 1/2.  No complaints (teenagers and no complaints?), lots of laughter, and everyone helping each other over logs and around obstacles.  I love my job.  Just when you start to get cynical they surprise you.  I surprised them and  asked the culinary arts students to make hot cocoa and apple cider for when we returned.  Then we watched To Build A Fire based on the Jack London short story.  I never show movies in school, so they were elated.  Many of them had never tasted apple cider.    None of them had ever  used snowshoes.   I thought our ELL students would struggle.  I forgot they play soccer daily.  They were running and jumping in the snowshoes like gazelles.  All in all it was a great experience.  The day will always be in my heart.  

The kids weren't the only ones that got to snowshoe.  Today was beautiful, so Ella and I got to go for a run.  We didn't get to last week.  It was just too cold.  As you can see, she was also super happy.

I am so thankful that we have such beautiful views on our Sunday excursions.  Today the colors seemed to jump out.
That was it for the weeks, adventures.  I've been pretty limited on projects with my online class.  Yes, I'm still whining about it.  If I have to hear the kids complain, I figure I get to a little.  

Have you ever tried something new and had such a happy outcome?  

Sunday, March 3, 2019


Hygge encourages a nook to read, relax, and rejuvenate.  Well, that I have...
There is nothing better than some chai tea, a good book, a fuzzy dog, and a husband that is willing to take a few photos, so his wife has something to blog about.
I hope your weekend was warmer.  I'm holding tough and waiting patiently for spring.