Ripley Victory Garden Week 1

Although I have been working in my garden for the past month I am going to label this update as Week 1.

Let’s start this series of posts with what a victory garden really is.

Copied verbatim from Wikipedia: Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany[1][2] during World War I and World War II. In wartime, governments encouraged people to plant victory gardens not only to supplement their rations but also to boost morale.[3] They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.

In 2021 we are not in the middle of a World War but I certainly consider what we have gone through the past 15 months a war nonetheless. With food supplies interrupted and many essential items becoming scarce I think we all learned a lesson that we can’t always count on someone else to grow all of our food for us.

Thankfully I learned at a young age how to grow my own food and how to cook and bake. Many in the last year realized “oh shit, I have no idea how to do anything.” Yikes right?

I am calling my garden a victory garden because that’s exactly what it is, a victory for not feeling completely helpless and it feeds my family and others that need it. This just pushes me to be even more sustainable and self sufficient.

In March I called my local plow guy and asked him to come over early to get a new part of my garden I wanted tilled done for me. Of course he groaned it was too early to till but I told him “peas Don, gotta get my peas in!”

In the new ground tilled I planned on getting my tomatoes planted in it. I have always wanted a single row of tomatoes so it would be easier to pick from on all sides. I also had Scott help me add a new pallet fence.

One side of the fence I planted approximately 150 onions and the other side so far is 18 tomatoes.

We are slowly replacing the old pallets in the fence with new pallets. Inside that fence there are 10 raised beds 8’x4′. They are also getting old so we are working on those as well.

So far I have 5 of the raised beds planted. Eggplant, shallots, red and green cabbage, jalapenos, a permanent bed of strawberries and one of red raspberries.

In the large stand alone garden I have planted, Lunchbox mini peppers, rainbow sweet peppers, and green bell peppers, two kinds of potatoes, peas, zucchini and yellow squash.

I have also planted basil, parsley, celery and sweet pea for color to climb up my garden arch.

I have so much more to get done but it’s a great start!

I’ll update weekly as the season gets on. Are you growing a victory garden this year? I would love to hear from you!

See you next week -MM

Not Impressed with Our Debt – Back At It

When I originally designed a plan to pay off our debt I had a steady paycheck. Unfortunately in life things happen to derail our plans and like many during this pandemic I lost my full time job.

If you know me personally then you know that I am resilient and weren’t surprised when I jumped right into making my own money during the lockdown. I took on 4 part-time jobs. Yes four! I started offering home delivery again through my baking business and it quickly grew to over 30 orders a week. I also started selling even harder in my Etsy shop and those sales have continued to skyrocket. I went back to the grocery store I have worked at for years and picked up two closing night shifts and I was hired at my local Town Office for about 15 hours a week.

I have been happy doing what I needed to do to stay afloat but after my husband’s heart attack things became clear to me that I needed to find full time employment. Working crazy hours takes a toll on your mental and physical health and not only was I working 4 part-time jobs but my husband was working two full time jobs! Enough was enough. Time for a change.

I have accepted a full time position and I am very happy and relieved to just work 9 to 5 again. Of course I will still have my Etsy shop and although I am stopping home delivery weekly I still have plenty of side bakery orders to satisfy that creative side in me. The store will always be there if I need it but for now I am turning in my key.

Although times are changing and people say men can start taking on more of a role of homemaker it still isn’t the same as having mom and wife home and taking care of things. Being gone at night working or attending a meeting has really screwed up our eating schedule.

So in the coming weeks I plan on getting a plan back together for getting our debt paid off even more. We have done a great job in not taking on any more major debt and our biggest most expensive debt is down to just over $5000 from a whopping $40,000. The end is in sight for that one!

Thankfully with the stimulus payments we were able to pay my husband’s medical bills in full without having to do a payment plan with the hospital. Yippee!

Major life illnesses, although very scary, really make you think about what is important and where your priorities lie. It’s time we enjoy ourselves a bit right? – MM

SAL Fraktur Hex #25

I finished Fraktur Hex! I did it! Such a huge happy dance over here folks!

I spent yesterday finishing the last three birds. Before I frame it I want to stitch our initials and date but other than that I am moving on. It has been almost a year and a half and a huge journey for me because this was the largest project I have ever undertaken and the first time I have stitched on linen.

Here is where I left off last update:

And here it is finished!

I have to pick a new project but for now I am just going to enjoy looking at this one.

Please visit the other stitchers in our SAL. They are stitching wonderful pieces. Thank you again to Avis for continuing to keep us on track and organizing all of us. See you in another three weeks! -MM

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

New Walkway from Old Material

We installed our side walkway in the summer of 2018 and after a couple of years it has settled in and looks like it’s been there forever, which is a good thing!

We used the bricks from our old outdoor fireplace that was destroyed by a fallen apple tree and re-purposed them into this walkway.

Old Outdoor Fireplace removed but we left the base stones
New path mapped out
Grass dug out and soil tamped down
Ready for placement!
It was like a puzzle to find the right placement for everything
This was pretty much the final placement with a few tweaks here and there
Fall 2020 just a few months ago and the walkway has settled in nicely.
We really love it!

We know that technically we should have put a base of sand or underlayment down before we placed the stones and bricks, but we wanted this project to be a no cost solution to our walkway problem, so if it sinks a bit for now we are ok with it. When we have more cash for projects like this we will definitely have a professional do it.

For now we love it and like it’s imperfections. Let’s dream of flowers and bees and warmer weather shall we? -MM

SAL Fraktur Hex #20

I got a little bit more stitched this last three weeks!

Here is where I left off:

And here is where I am now:

I have 1/4 completely finished!

Please visit the other stitchers in our SAL. They are doing wonderful pieces. Thank you to Avis for continuing to keep us on track and organizing all of us. See you in another three weeks! -MM

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

From Pumpkin to Pie

Another frustrating item missing from the shelves this fall has been pumpkin puree. The kind of pumpkin used in sweet breads, pies and cookies.

The shortage is not due to the pandemic but due to the wet growing season last year.

While waiting for pumpkin supplies to replenish in the grocery stores I for the first time tried making a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin.

Certain varieties of pumpkin are better for pie making and others are better for carving a Jack-o’-lantern.

I bought four pie pumpkins from a local organic farmer and friend and figured if I liked the end product I would grow my own pie pumpkins next year.

Here’s a step by step from pumpkin to pie.

These are a variety of pie pumpkin called Long Pie. They are a heirloom variety so I can save the seed and grow them next year!

On the advice from my farmer friend I treated the pumpkin just like a winter squash when cooking it.

I cut it lengthwise and scooped out the seeds and microwaved it on high for about 15 minutes in a glass pyrex pan covered with a piece of plastic wrap with a corner vented.

After cooling I scooped out the cooked flesh and got about enough for one pie. Now other articles I have read stated that you need to squeeze out any excess liquid from the flesh before using it. I did not have this problem with this variety of pumpkin. It was very dense. No excess liquid to be had.

I was concerned because this pumpkin puree did not look anything like what you buy in a can at the store. It looked exactly like butternut squash. No worries though! It looked like pumpkin once I got all of my ingredients in.

Once you cook and scoop out the cooked flesh run the pumpkin through a food processor or in my case a mini chopper to puree even more.

Now for the other pie ingredients. I followed the Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe which is on the back of the can. 2 Eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ginger, pumpkin puree (about a cup), 1 can of evaporated milk and an unbaked pie shell.

Mixed everything other than the milk together.

Looks more like pumpkin doesn’t it?   Then I added the evaporated milk.

The mixture got pretty foamy on top for some reason so I skimmed some off after pouring it into the pie shell.

I baked it at the same temperature and for the same amount of time as the Libby’s recipe called for. And out popped a perfect pumpkin pie!

It was so creamy and smooth and delicious!

This baking experience has inspired me to add this pumpkin to my to-grow list for next year. If I get as many pumpkins as I did butternut this year then I should be well supplied for next Thanksgiving.

If you have a chance to try a true pie pumpkin in your recipes I encourage you to do so! -MM

SAL Fraktur Hex #16

I have worked pretty consistently on Fraktur Hex these past three weeks.

Here is where I left off last update:

And here is where I am now:

I got more done on the center and still working on the last corner!

Please visit the other stitchers in our SAL. They are doing wonderful pieces. Thank you to Avis for continuing to keep us on track and organizing all of us. See you in another three weeks! -MM

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Not Impressed with Our Debt September 2020 Update

I haven’t updated since June so I thought I better get an update posted today.

It’s been a frustrating few months. I have made some progress in some areas and put some debt on in other areas.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Honda loan balance in June was $1600 – Now down to $900. I made a triple payment in July and another regular payment in September. Yay!
  2. Our clothes washer finally said enough and died on us. Instead of paying for a brand new washer which was at least $800 we went on Facebook Marketplace and found the exact model we had currently only much newer for $250. We paid for it in cash we had saved. Double Yay!
  3. My big 20 qt mixer started to seize and spark. We put it off for a month but finally got someone to come in and repair it. Cost was $150. We again paid in cash. Triple Yay!
  4. I paid $525 on my credit card this month. I took the minimum payment and added in the few things I charged on it for the month then I added in the interest amount from last month and paid $525.41. I plan on doing the same this next month. Yay x 4!
  5. We did put about $800 on our other credit card this month. We bought a new couch. It was more than I wanted to pay but we have barely used our living room all year and I was very tired of each of us hanging out in our bedrooms and not being all together to at least watch a movie or football game once in a while. Our old couch (which was only about 6 years old) never was comfortable so we stopped hanging out in the living room together. $800 was worth bringing us back together I think so money well spent! Minus 1 point though for adding more debt 😦

Unfortunately school taxes are looming due and I know I am going to pay them late because I just don’t have the funds to pay them in full this month. It’s ok though. I’ll get them paid I just won’t be able to pay much extra on our debt in October.

That’s about it. Only $900 left to pay on the Honda! Until next update -MM

Lactose Intolerant

It’s official (at least in my mind) I am lactose intolerant. Especially after last night’s late night stomach problems after eating macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Most of my adult life I have suffered from what I would call random stomach problems and stomach problems suck right? The most frustrating part is that people love to tell you what they think is your problem (trying to be helpful) but in reality there could be a 1000 different reasons and combinations of foods that make you sick when you eat them so I have just always stayed away from eating much in public. I especially would never eat anything fried or greasy out unless I knew I was going home right after.

About a year ago I had one of the worst bouts of stomach upset I have ever had and it was at a party we were attending. About half an hour into the affair (the other guests said later) I all of a sudden turned green and then I left and headed straight home. All that night I was sicker than a dog. Stomach upset and ache, diarrhea, chills, nausea. I was so frustrated.

At one point a month later I had been feeling pretty good, no stomach upset for a while and then I realized it was because I hadn’t had a glass of milk in weeks. Hmmm…. But I had had ice cream and cheese and such but no pure milk.

Right then and there I stopped drinking milk entirely and voila, no more massive stomach upset. Life-changing to say the least. My doctor was on board with it. She said I didn’t need a test to tell me if I felt better cutting out dairy.

Now I am still able to have dairy once in a while without too much upset but last week I was eating way too much and I was suffering for it. A Klondike bar everyday and mac and cheese (even though I used Lactaid to make it) really bothered me. Not the massive stomach bothering that milk does to me but enough bother to slow me down.

I haven’t tried taking a Lactaid pill before I eat dairy. I will have to experiment with that. At this point I just avoid dairy all together and my tummy thanks me for it.

Don’t worry I will not walk into my next party and announce I am lactose intolerant to everyone. That’s just not my style lol!. -MM

Dinner Ideas

I have been so frustrated with cooking lately because I feel like I get no help doing it. I don’t bother asking what anyone wants anymore because I get the same answers, either “I don’t know” or hot dogs.

In fact I was so frustrated the other day that I took a notepad and wrote down every dinner choice I could think of off the top of my head. You know what? I came up with almost 70 choices! Nothing fancy, just regular old standbys but we tend to forget some of the classics when we get stuck in a rut right?

This actually helped me a lot. I thought I would post what I came up with in the hopes of giving you some ideas too:

  1. Roast Pork
  2. Sausage with peppers and onions
  3. Grilled pork tenderloin
  4. Shake and bake pork chops
  5. Hot dogs (of course)
  6. Hamburgers
  7. Spaghetti and meatballs
  8. Fish Fry
  9. Loaded baked potatoes
  10. Grilled thick pork chops
  11. Pan fried pork chops with mushrooms and pan gravy (easy)
  12. Soup with grilled sandwiches
  13. Steak and mushrooms
  14. Turkey breast
  15. Full turkey dinner
  16. Pulled pork sandwiches
  17. Sliders
  18. Beef Stew
  19. Chicken Pot Pie
  20. Big Salads
  21. Ribs
  22. Salmon
  23. Fried Shrimp
  24. Breakfast for dinner
  25. Meatloaf
  26. Pot Roast
  27. Mac and Cheese
  28. Tacos
  29. Nachos
  30. Fajitas
  31. Kabobs
  32. Filet steaks
  33. Chicken kiev
  34. Chicken cordon bleu
  35. Roasted chicken
  36. Fried chicken
  37. Chicken parm
  38. Fried chicken cutlets
  39. Crockpot chicken and chili sauce
  40. Stuffed chicken breast
  41. Chicken rice casserole
  42. Tuna noodle casserole
  43. Sausage and corn
  44. Pizza
  45. Wings
  46. Chicken fingers
  47. Chicken soup
  48. Beef soup
  49. Potato bacon soup
  50. Cauliflower soup
  51. Ham and Bean soup
  52. Lasagna
  53. Stuffed shells
  54. Ham
  55. Ham and scalloped potatoes
  56. Ham and Cabbage
  57. Chicken spiedies
  58. Meatball subs
  59. Chili
  60. Spaghetti and meat sauce
  61. Ratatouille
  62. Stuffed peppers
  63. Stir fry
  64. Chicken or veggie Alfredo
  65. Smoked pork chops
  66. Goulash
  67. Spanish Rice
  68. Sub Sandwiches
  69. Rotisserie chicken (dinner in a pinch)

This list really helped me see that I do have choices for dinner I just forgot what they were! Haha These are just the main dinner choices I came up with. Next post I will list all of the side choices I came up with. Hope this helps you as much as it helped me! -MM

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