Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It Appears a Dairy Cow Is In Our Future


I went to the grocery store yesterday and I realized that over half of the items on my list were dairy foods: cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, milk, Parmesan cheese, and buttermilk*.

No regular cheese, though. And why no regular cheese? Because A. went to the cheese factory in our local village a few days ago and came home with this:


You are looking at 17 pounds of cheese. That's right. Seventeen.

The larger brick is just over ten pounds of sharp cheddar, and the slightly smaller brick is just over six pounds of mozzarella. 

You may find this ludicrous. Perhaps you think that A. just got carried away and brought home more cheese than we could ever eat.

Nope. This is the third time we've bought this quantity of cheese. It lasts us a little over a month.

You could say we eat a lot of cheese. And butter, milk, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese . . .

Yeah. We're gonna have to get a dairy cow some day. And that day is probably going to be sooner rather than later.

* No cream, but only because I go to a different store for that to get the real, not-ultra-pasteurized cream.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Return of the Irritating Monkey


Thus far, Jack has shown no interest whatsoever in sitting down and staring at a television show. Not that I can get too upset about this. I mean, does an almost-three-year-old really need to veg out on the couch on a regular basis and watch animated animals cavort around?

No. Far better to pretend to mow the grass with Daddy's moving dolly or build elaborate structures with scrap wood.

Then again, it is awfully nice to sometimes have the option of putting on a cartoon for children so they're not all up in your face all the time.

Part of Jack's disinterest is probably because the only thing we ever put on is an episode of the original Transformers television show from the 80s. This is my bribe to get Cubby and Charlie to pick up their toys at night. After nighttime pick-up, they get one episode of Transformers. This is perfect for the older two, but Jack is mostly disinterested. It is a show for older kids, after all.

However, one of Jack's favorite books at the moment is Curious George Makes Pancakes. So it has crossed my mind that he would probably really like the Curious George cartoon on PBS. I hadn't ever tried it out on him, though, mostly because I didn't really want to start the whole expectation of a cartoon.

Until this morning.

Jack woke up at the unpleasant hour of 5 a.m. today, thanks to the back-to-school cold brought home by his brothers. I read him The Big Caribou Herd and we spent some time discussing the animals. A. got up and read him a tractor book. And then I wanted to lie down for a little while before starting to pack lunches and make breakfast (not so much with the sleeping last night). So I suggested to A. that he could find Curious George on PBS Kids online and see if Jack liked it.

He did. Jack was enthralled with the sight of his book buddy in actual motion, talking (kind of) and everything.

He got to watch two episodes before it was time to wake his brothers up for school. Twenty minutes of reprieve for Mom and Dad? Thanks, monkey. I still think you're annoying, but you sure are useful sometimes.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Take Note


Let us all just pause for a moment and let it sink in that today is exactly one month before my due date with Baby #4. (And Girl #1.)

 . . .

Now that the pause is over with, I can acknowledge that that doesn't actually mean all that much, considering babies come when they damn well please. Cubby was ten days early. Charlie and Jack were each a couple of days early. So maybe this one will be early too. Or maybe she'll be three weeks late, like I was.

That's unlikely, actually, because the medical community really doesn't allow women to go that far past their due dates anymore. So it's safe to say that I'll be having this baby next month one way or another.

I washed and sun bleached the diapers yesterday and there are 25 quarts of applesauce in the utility room. I'm totally ready, right?

Right.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Eat Your Clutter


Though I would never be considered a meticulous housekeeper--let's not talk about the last time I cleaned behind the television, for instance--I do have some serious issues with clutter. It adversely affects me in a very noticeable way. Emotionally, mostly.

This is very unfortunate, considering that I live in a two-bedroom house with four other people, three of whom are small children. And that there will shortly be another small child in this already-crowded house.

I spend a lot of time picking up, putting away, and throwing things out when I can get away with it.

My absolute least-favorite kind is the kitchen counter clutter. My children are forbidden from putting any of their toys, pencils, papers, or other junk on the kitchen counters. That's my work space. My cubicle desk, if you like. It drives me crazy to have to work around non-essential items.

But this time of year, I don't mind a certain kind of kitchen counter clutter.


Tomato clutter is A-OK. Also, carrots, pears, garlic, and shallots. Worth the counter real estate.

It makes me happy to see my counter filling up with tomatoes. It also makes A. happy, because it means that we all have to be appropriately congratulatory about his woodchuck greenhouse, without which I doubt there would be enough ripe tomatoes to clutter up anything.

Of course, this kind of clutter is much more satisfying to take care of than, say, picking up a thousand small pieces of cardboard from Cubby's latest complicated cardboard creation*. Because this kind of clutter gets turned into Finny's tomato sauce. Also, at the command of Prince Jack, some apple/pear sauce.


Don't cross the boy with the crown.

Then most of the clutter turns into food for the freezer.


Actually, the apple and pear sauce (in the jar) will probably all get eaten before I have to freeze any. But some of the tomato sauce will get to the freezer. Hooray.

The only downside? More clutter in the form of this:


Dishes are absolutely the worst part of food preservation. Jack agrees.

* That kid makes everything out of cardboard. Crowns (he made the one Jack is wearing in the photo), robots, castles, and, lately, a smartphone. Yes, out of cardboard. He made little letter pieces that can be arranged to type things out. He informed me quite earnestly that he's been puzzling over how to add Minecraft to it next. And this is why I will never buy him a real smartphone like his friend from school has, which constitutes his sole exposure to the addicting devices. Much better to make them out of cardboard. At least when you're seven years old.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

And Yet, I Keep Typing


I just noticed that this post right here is published post #2502 on this blog.

That's hard to believe. How could I possibly have 2,502 posts' worth of words to spew about essentially nothing?

It's a talent, I guess.

That was a joke.

Just for the sake of round numbers, I should have noted that this thrilling post about canning applesauce was #2500. But if I had known that one was such a momentous marker, I would have felt some pressure to make it, like, about something, rather than just a random stream of consciousness about The State of My Canning.

In hindsight, that was the perfect post for momentous #2500. Because it wasn't momentous, or introspective, or deep. It was a random, not-terribly-exciting bit of a random, not-terribly-exciting life.

And really, that's perfectly representative of the entire story I've been telling here for the past, uh, almost ten years. (That is also hard to believe.) Random and not terribly exciting, but fun anyway.

So here we go with the next 2500 posts about inconsequential triviality. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Fodder in the Playroom


Yesterday evening I was upstairs doing dishes when I heard the children shrieking from downstairs, "SHEEP IN THE HOUSE! THE SHEEP ARE IN THE HOUSE!"

I went downstairs to find the four remaining rams milling around in the kids' bedroom.

Super.

A. was moving their fence, so they were wandering around and apparently wandered right through the downstairs door that one of the children left open.

They were happy enough to follow me back outside, though. After all, it's not as if there was any corn in the kids' bedroom.

I did not run upstairs to get the camera to take a photo for you, because I really wanted them out of the house quickly.

I shut the door and went to find A. "Your sheep were just in the kids' bedroom," I said. "But at least they didn't poop in there*."

"That's a good story," he replied. "Good blog fodder, right?"

As if our whole lives aren't blog fodder without even trying.

Then, when the kids were picking up downstairs before bed, they discovered that while the sheep hadn't pooped in their bedroom, they HAD pooped in the playroom.

Even more super.

Luckily, sheep poop is relatively dry and inoffensive and easy to clean up. Easy for A. to clean up, anyway, because I certainly wasn't doing it. And the boys, of course, found the whole thing HILARIOUS.

Come on, cold weather. We need to do some more slaughtering.

* It's important to be cool when dealing with things like sheep. Otherwise you'd spend all your time getting hysterical about things like livestock in your house.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

It'll Just Have To Do


After approximately two and a half hours in the kitchen this morning saucing and canning the latest bag of feral apples A. picked for me, I now have 25 quarts of applesauce successfully canned.

I think I'm done with applesauce. I mean, I could make more, but I don't really want to.

Next I'll have to can the sauerkraut that's still sauering in the linen closet downstairs in the fancy handmade ceramic fermenting crock the MiL gave me for our anniversary:


I did not make those pickles in the background in the crock. They're refrigerator dills, not fermented pickles.


See the clever little split ceramic plate to hold down the cabbage and the well around the outside to make a water seal to keep out air? So fancy. And well-designed.

Yes, I am aware that canning sauerkraut destroys its probiotic superpowers. I just don't like the taste of uncooked sauerkraut. I'd rather get my probiotics from yogurt. Much tastier.

Then there are the many pounds of Seckel pears we brought back with us from our last trip to Blackrock that are still ripening. Those will probably be canned as pear sauce.

And maybe I'll actually get a chance to can some tomatoes, because our forecast this week is calling for several days at or above 70 degrees with lots of sun. It should get pretty toasty under A.'s woodchuck greenhouse to ripen the many, many green tomatoes that are sitting out there.

So, okay, I'm not really DONEdone with the food preservation for the season, but at least I'm done with the applesauce. That's something.