Sunday, April 14, 2024

Snapshots: A Solo Weekend

First, lookit all the pretty flowers!

Showy tulips, mostly.

And the little peach tree in a corner of the garden has lots of blossoms on it. It remains to be seen if they will ever result in peaches, but we have hope.

Second, the big news this weekend is that A. took all the kids to Arizona to meet up with his family in the Chiricahua Mountains. I stayed here to take care of the animals.

That meant I was by myself for three days.

So what, you may ask, did I do with myself?

I went for a run every morning.

I planted some more things in the garden (onions! yay!) and watered the plants that are in the garden every day.

I went to church on Friday to rearrange the Easter flowers.

Those daisies might actually make it to Pentecost Sunday, which is the last day of the Easter season.

I watched a couple of movies, including the Barbie movie that came out last year that was so popular.*

I had popcorn and a cocktail for dinner one night.

Brandy+lemon juice+maple syrup+water=thumbs up.

I did useful things like clean out the cabinet that houses my baking supplies.

Such an awkward shape and depth.

I even read a book I found that someone had left at the post office. The whole book, because I had so much time to read. It's a contemporary Christian romance novel--the title is "Love and the Silver Lining," ahem--that I would never have bought, but it wasn't bad. It wasn't great, either, but it was better than the Barbie movie, anyway.

It was a very relaxing few days, but my family will be home today, and I'm happy about that.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* I am sorry if you liked it and this offends you, but I found it so incredibly stupid, I almost couldn't watch the whole thing. The only reason I did is because I actually paid to rent it. Boo.


Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday Food: The One With the Lasagna


Short version: Not-Lent scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: One kid asked as he was eating, "Where's the meat?" I said the eggs are the meat. And he said, "Oh yeah. It's Friday."

Except it wasn't actually a Friday in Lent, so we were not eating eggs for that reason. We were eating them because they are easy; I have a lot of eggs on hand right now; and the one child who doesn't much care for scrambled eggs wasn't home.

Good reasons.

I did go to all the effort of microwaving some potatoes to dice and fry, which is always a good idea. Plus, I put both grated cheddar cheese and fresh parsley in the eggs. All in all, a nice dinner, even if it was meatless.

Pretty, too. Well, prettier than most of my food, anyway.


Short version: Lamb chops, cheesy potatoes, raw broccoli

Long version: I took out one bag of lamb chops and it was . . . a lot of lamb chops.

Enough that I needed two skillets to cook them.

We had several left over, but only because one of the children who normally eats multiples was very tired and not very hungry.

Cheesy potatoes were a staple of my childhood, but they are not something I make much now. The only reason I made them this time was because I had a LOT of bechamel sauce left from making the lasagna, so all I needed to do to make the potatoes was add shredded cheddar to some of the bechamel, then microwave (again!) potatoes and slice them to mix with the sauce. And bake it, of course. 


Short verson: Insane lasagna, garlic bread, green salad with vinaigrette, Italian cheesecake

Long version: I've already told you about the lasagna. 

Pasta in process.

I had a sort-of pizza crust left over from pizza night the week before, when I had too much dough for the smaller pizza I made in a skillet. So I took some dough and put it in another skillet and baked that partway. I stuck that in the freezer, figuring I would find a use for it later. I did, this night, by smearing the top of it with garlic butter (soft butter mixed with finely diced green garlic) and baking it until crispy. Because there weren't enough carbohydrates in the lasagna, you see.

And then, as if this wasn't a heavy-enough meal, I finished it off with cheesecake.

I had originally intended to use my frozen ricotta cheese in the lasagna. But when I made the more-traditional Italian version of lasagna that does not use ricotta, I still had that ricotta to use. So of course, I combined it with a ton more dairy, plus sugar, to make cheesecake.

I loosely used this recipe, except (always the recipe excepts for me) I made a 3/4 recipe--which already almost completely filled my 9-inch springform pan, so the entire recipe would definitely have been too much--and I didn't use as much cream cheese as called for. I just weighed all the creamy things, starting with the ricotta, adding one block of cream cheese, and then adding sour cream until I had the correct weight for the three. Or close enough, anyway.

I also did not mix it for twenty minutes. I thought surely that was a typo in the recipe and it was meant to be mixed for two minutes. But no, careful reading assured me the recipe really intended me to stand there for twenty minutes with a handheld mixer.


Two minutes was fine.

The hardest part with these kinds of recipes is remembering to get the thing out of the oven and into the refrigerator after it's sat in the cooling oven for two hours. I forgot about it until I was going to bed, so it sat in there for more like three hours, but at least I didn't forget and leave it in there overnight. That would have been sad.

One child couldn't get over the slightly grainier texture, but everyone else loved it. Some liked it even better than a very heavy New-York-style cheesecake.


Short version: Leftovers, sausage, bread and butter, raw produce

Long version: The kids had lasagna at school for lunch. The coincidence of that being the day after I had made my first ever lasagna was pretty funny. It also meant that I didn't serve any of my leftover lasagna for dinner.

Instead I cooked one package of boudin and one of plain smoked sausage. There were some lamb chops left, so that made enough meat to apportion for everyone. Some people had the leftover cheesy potatoes; everyone else had bread and butter for their starch.

Everyone had either raw bell pepper or cucumbers with salt and vinegar for their vegetable. Such as it was.


Short version: Lamb, lamb-y rice, onions, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I used one of the boned-out ram leg roasts for this. I cut it in half so it would fit in the pan, browned it, then sliced it and put it back in the pan to cook some more, along with onions, garlic powder, and apple cider vinegar.

The rice was lamb-y because I cooked it in the lamb stock I had made with the Easter leg bone. I did cut it with an equal amount of water, though, so the lamb flavor wouldn't overpower the rice. That worked well.


Short version: Meatless fried rice, leftover lasagna

Long version: I had thought there would be some lamb left over. There was not.

After-work (and First Communion class) Plan B!

I used the leftover rice, plus the leftover onions, to make fried rice with just eggs and frozen peas. All those who wanted it had a small amount of the last of the leftover lasagna, and then filled in with the fried rice.


Short version: Chicken soup, biscuits, chocolate pudding

Long version: This was chicken soup from just before Easter that I stuck in the freezer when we had way too many leftovers on hand. It had potatoes in it, which broke down in the freezer, but that just thickened it. I put in a bit more rice to cook as it was heating up, and I also added the last of the fat I had skimmed off the lasagna's bolognese sauce, which added some nice flavor.

Standard baking powder biscuits. And remember, there is no rule that says they have to be round.

Or even all the same shape. Chaos abounds.

I had a whole gallon of milk that tasted slightly off as soon as I opened it in the morning, despite the use-by date being at least a week in the future. Boo. I made a double batch of this pudding, which used about half the gallon.

Refrigerator check!

Nice block of asadero there.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Lasagna Insanity

Some time ago, I realized I had never actually made a lasagna myself.

This seems odd, given the fact that I love lasagna, and cook so much. I had this thought about five months ago, and then it sort of sat there in the back of my mind since then.

Then I had to make ricotta cheese a couple of months ago with some milk that was heading south. That sat in the freezer until I thought, "Hey, doesn't lasagna have ricotta cheese in it? I could make lasagna with that."

I also had two packages of ground bull meat and the last quart jar of roasted tomato puree from the garden last year. This all seemed to me to be the ideal start to a really good lasagna.

And THEN I thought, "Well, if I'm going to have all these homemade ingredients in it, I might as well just make the pasta, too, right?"

Yes, this is really how I think.

I looked up several recipes for lasagna with homemade pasta, which is when I discovered that traditional Italian lasagna doesn't actually have ricotta in it. Or mozzarella. Instead, it has a bechamel (white sauce made with butter, flour, and milk) layered with the meat sauce.

I've never had this kind of lasagna, and also didn't have a lot of mozzarella on hand (or rather, asadero, which is my mozzarella substitute), so I decided I would try it.

I used this recipe for the meat sauce and bechamel (described by the author as "a beast of a recipe"--indeed), and for the first part of the pasta making in a food processor. For the rest of the instructions for the pasta making, I used the description in my absolute beast of a book, The Old World Kitchen: The Rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking, by Elizabeth Luard*. That had instructions for rolling the lasagna noodles by hand, which I had to do because I don't have a pasta machine.

I made the bolognese (meat sauce) on Friday, which required several hours of simmering. Because I had four pounds of ground bull, I actually made a double recipe of that, which is a LOT of bolognese.

I made the rest of it on Saturday. I decided to make enough for my 10"x15" Pyrex baking dish, so I made 1.5 of the recipe parts. This is also a LOT of bechamel sauce. And honestly, stirring the bechamel for so long while adding the milk in small increments was sort of painful for my hand and arm.

Then I compounded the hand and arm excercise by rolling out all the pasta with my rolling pin. It has to be really thin, and that's a lot of pasta. It required some pretty steady, intense pressure to get it rolled out thin enough. And THEN, I had to grate all the Parmesan. I was actually sore the next day. Those Italian peasant women must have had arms like Arnold.


I finally got all the parts made and ready for layering.

I had rolled the four pieces of pasta out on their own pieces of parchment paper, so I could move them and stack them that way. Worked really well.

I had some help with the assembly.

Of course.

I had just enough for four layers in that pan.

Ready to bake.

I did not, however, bake it on Saturday. I figured I would enjoy it more if I had a break to forget all the work that went into it, so it just went into the refrigerator until Sunday, and we had it for our Sunday dinner.

That was a good call.

So the big question: Was it worth the literal hours it took to make?

Not really. 

I mean, it was delicious, and I was surprised at how good the bechamel was with the meat sauce. A. also really liked the homemade pasta in it, which was much softer and more delicate than storebought. I also liked how light it was in comparison to the typical American lasagna that is so loaded with cheese.

But I think I still like the cheese in the American version. Maybe just not so much of it.

I have more bolognese from the giant batch that I froze, so I think I might make another lasagna sometime with storebought noodles, still the bechamel (I had a bunch of that leftover, too, which I froze), and some asadero cheese in it. Then I can compare the American and the Italian versions.

Oh, and you might notice that although this all started because I had ricotta in the freezer to use, I didn't actually use it in the lasagna. So instead, I made an Italian cheesecake with it. Which we ate after the lasagna, of course.

So the final verdict: I'm glad I tried it, but I probably won't do it this way again.

* This is such a great book. So detailed and comprehensive, and her voice throughout is very engaging. At the end of the two-page pasta recipe detailing how her friend Michaela in Italy made this lasagna in her own kitchen, she said "Michaela would be proud of you." I was certainly proud of me, and I'm sure Michaela would have been, too.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Snapshots: Blooms

The tulips have started blooming!

Mostly purple, white, and yellow ones, which I like better than red.

I went to the church on Friday to see how the Easter flowers were faring on the altar. There's no heat in our church during the week, and the cool environment really preserved the flowers remarkably well.

There were some droopy ones, though, so I dismantled the big arrangement and distributed the good flowers to the other vases, also moving the Easter lilies.

I'm not Church Lady this month, but I'm going to take care of the flowers as long as they last. So I guess I'm an Altar Society of one.

It had been a long time since the kids had set up a game with toys in the living room, but they certainly did this weekend.

There was a whole long story associated with these cars.

And then there was this installation.

They always were very expansive in their games.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Friday Food: The Easter Lamb


Short version: Shrimp tacos or burritos, refried beans

Long version: Last meatless Friday in Lent! We had been the lucky recipients of wild, USA-caught tiny "salad" shrimp from the excess commodities this week, which is what I used to make dinner. All I did was saute them with taco spices. My sister, who was visiting, encouraged me to add butter and parsley, too, which I did.

To make the refried beans, I used one quart jar of my home-canned pintos in a pan with oil and sauteed garlic, mashed and simmered until thick. So good.

We had lots of avocados to make guacamole, too, which always elevates this sort of thing.

Some had flour tortillas (burritos) and some had corn tortillas (tacos), and all enjoyed their meal. I know I did.


Short version: Pork, cornbread, green salad with vinaigrette, rice pudding

Long version: Pork butt is so useful. I make this meal a lot when we have guests. It can be made mostly ahead, with minimal work at dinnertime, which is nice when there's a lot going on. It is also good for people who have dietary restrictions, as there is no gluten, alliums, or dairy if you avoid the cornbread and rice pudding. And it makes a LOT of food.


Short version: Easter lamb, pita bread, potatoes and onions, tzatziki sauce, hummus, chiffon cake with strawberries and whipped cream, sugar cookies

Long version: Would we have anything but lamb for Easter dinner? Of course not. We had kept one of the back leg roasts bone-in just for Easter dinner when we were butchering a couple of week ago.

I used this recipe for it, except--there is always an except with me and recipes--I was preparing the garlic by hand, rather than in a food processor because the pieces of mine were in the dishwasher at the time. So I only did six cloves of garlic instead of 15. Also, I used the juice of only half a lemon, I didn't use the mint or nutmeg, and I didn't measure the other things. 

That's a lot of excepts.

I did put garlic in slits all in the meat, though, which is always a good idea.

I had room in the Pyrex with the lamb, so I cut up a few potatoes and an onion to go in there, too. Rather than doing a separate spice mixture for that, I just used some of the lamb spice mixture. Very good.

I use this recipe for pita bread, this one for tzatziki, this one for hummus, and this one for chiffon cake.

My garden-nerd goal is to use something from the garden for every major holiday meal. Easter was early this year, but I did have parsley and green garlic to use. I put those in the tzatziki.

A modest first harvest.

The sugar cookies were extra undecorated ones from St. Patrick's Day that I had in the freezer. I let Poppy decorate them with colored sugar, and they were very colorful.

All together, a very nice meal.


Short version: Fried pork 'n' cornbread, leftover shrimp, green salad with ranch/tzatziki dressing, chiffon cake tower

Long version: We had quite a bit of cornbread left, which gets pretty dry if it's not fresh. I solved that problem by frying cubes of it in a bunch of bacon grease and butter in a skillet, to which I also added the leftover pork with a bit more salt and maple syrup. This was quite popular.

I turned the tzatziki sauce into something like ranch dressing by adding some mayonnaise to it. One child had the last of the shrimp in a tortilla with this dressing in the wrap.

I also had some chiffon cake left over. A. had thought it would be good sliced into layers with whipped cream and strawberry jam between the layers. It was very good that way, but also pretty much impossible to cut neatly.

A towering pile of sugar and deliciousness.

Luckily, our family doesn't care what it looks like if it tastes good. And this definitely did.


Short version: Lamb curry, rice, crackers

Long version: All the lamb left from the leg, plus the curry powder left from dying eggs, plus lamb stock I had made with the bone, onion, carrots, potatoes, green peas, and cream.

It's so handy that I have both lamb and curry powder left over after Easter. Dinner in the following days is foreordained.

I also spent my entire morning rescuing failed sourdough (it got overheated when I put it on the woodstove to warm up) by making hundreds of crackers. I hate making crackers because it is very tedious, but the children enjoyed them.

So many crackers. Luckily, they freeze well.


Short version: Leftover curry and rice, bread and butter

Long version: Nah.


Short version: Pizzas, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: There were only five of us at home, so I thought I could just make one half-sheet-pan pizza. But then I was afraid that wouldn't be quite enough, so made a pizza in a 14-inch cast iron skillet. 

The big one had bacon; the one in the skillet was just cheese.

Refrigerator check!


Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Bonus Snapshots

Sunday's snapshots this week were all about the church flowers, but I had lots more photos from last week. So here they are.

It snowed last week, which temporarily subdued the daffodils outside, but didn't kill them.

Bent, but not broken.

I had already cut some to bring inside, so when we woke up to a cold, overcast morning on Monday, I was able to light some candles on the breakfast table to illuminate our reminders that yes, it really is spring despite the weather.

Spring flowers, winter candles.

I had a lot of driving to do Thursday, so it was very unfortunate that only about 15 miles into the hundreds I had to do, I hit a large raptor of some kind. Thankfully, it hit my antenna and passenger side mirror instead of the windshield. Not thankfully, the mirror snapped clean off.

It was still hanging by the turn-signal wiring, so I managed to pull that out enough that I could put the mirror safely inside the window and raise the window about halfway. 


It was a bit chilly driving the remaining 80 miles to Walmart, but once I got there, I was able to purchase some Gorilla tape and fix the mirror to the outside of the door so I could roll the window up all the way again.

My super classy ride.

Then I went to a track meet.

With, of course, a button-up collared shirt and my dorky Mom Hat to shield me from the sun.

Saturday we finally got a day where we weren't running all over creation and the wind wasn't too bad, plus A. and I were both home, so we finally put in some of the garden. As always, A. did the digging and I did the planting.

Also as always, the transplants got milk jug greenhouses to protect them. I ran out of jugs, though, so some just had rock walls. And some were left with nothing. We'll see what survives.

I transplanted around a dozen kohlrabi plants and I think sixteen cabbage plants, plus planted seeds for carrots, beets, parsnips, and turnips.

That night, I put together the Easter baskets.

My sister brought things to fill a communal adult Easter basket, so there was plenty of chocolate.

I have a brooch I bought to use in my hair when I got married decades ago, and I used it in Poppy's hair on Easter.

She was delighted, of course.

Easter featured the worst winds of the whole week. For this reason, we did our egg hunt inside the place my sister and her friend were staying in the village. This was very convenient, as it is literally right next door to our church. So we just went over after our 8 a.m. Mass for breakfast provided by my sister and our egg hunt.

Easter girl looking for eggs.

Can you spot the cleverly hidden egg in this photo?

The eldest child hid the eggs, so all I had to do was watch the fun while drinking the mimosa provided by my sister.

It was nice.

There you have it! My (bonus) life, snapshotted.

P.S. The first couple of comments reminded me that probably many of you might want to know what books were in the kids' Easter baskets: The complete set of the Samantha American Girl books (bought on eBay because anything American Girl is extortionate new), The Everything Kids' Football Book, Murtagh by Christopher Paolini, and Northern Borders by Howard Frank Mosher.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Snapshots: Alleluia

I'm Church Lady this month, which means the Easter decorations have been my responsibility. There haven't been real flowers on the altar since we moved here almost six years ago. I decided that this year, we would have fresh flowers for Easter.

I did order one custom arrangement from a florist for the center of the altar. Then I made a special trip to a Walmart to get lot of cut flowers, plus potted Easter lilies. I used the cut flowers to make three smaller arrangements. 

It was a lot of work, but I'm so happy with how they look (and smell!).

Happiest of Easters to all of you. I hope it's a beautiful one.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Friday Food: Broccoli Salad for Mom


Short version: No-meat fried rice

Long version: All day I had thought I would make breakfast burritos for dinner, and then I went into the kitchen to actually make dinner and saw the leftover rice while I was taking out the eggs.

So I used the rice, the eggs, some already-cooked onion from the freezer, and frozen peas to make fried rice, instead.

This is what it's like to cook without a meal plan. You just never know what I'm going to do.


Short version: Lamb 'n' bean burritos, broccoli salad

Long version: I used the random bits and pieces from our sheep butchering to make a burrito filling. All I did was simmer the meat pieces with a couple of onion ends (I keep these in the freezer after I cut up an onion for stock and so on) until it was tender. Then I broke it up with my immersion blender. To the blended meat, I added sauteed onions and garlic, tomato sauce, cumin, chile powder, paprika, and both pinto and black beans.

The kids ate their with flour tortillas. A. ate his with corn tortillas. I didn't eat anything, instead making the broccoli salad my dinner.

I don't think I have ever made a broccoli salad before. My original plan for dinner had been to use the meat for something like sloppy joes (there I go being unpredictable again), and I had thought I would want something like coleslaw to go with them. I didn't have any cabbage, but I did have broccoli. Hence, broccoli slaw.

But then, when I was looking at recipe for broccoli slaw, I came across several broccoli salad recipes that called for bacon. And I had bacon leftover from breakfast.

See how it all worked out?

I used the broccoli (chopped quite small, because I don't like big, chewy broccoli chunks), finely diced onion, diced bacon, and raisins in it. For the dressing, I pretty much made the same dressing I make for coleslaw, except without any celery seed in it.

It was really good. A couple of children tried it, but I pretty much ate it all myself. Which is how I thought it would end up. 


Short version: Roasted rooster with potatoes and carrots, giblet gravy, green salad with vinaigrette, chocolate ice cream

Long version: The rooster was one we got from our neighbor. A. prepared it all the way from killing to cooking. He roasted it on a bed of potatoes, carrots, onions, green garlic, and parsley, with butter and garlic under the skin.

Rooster ready to roast.

All of the children love chicken, so this was a very popular meal.

Pretty plate.


Short version: Lamb 'n' bean quesadillas, raw broccoli, yogurt with strawberry jam

Long version: I had enough of the lamb burrito filling to make quesadillas when I got home, so that is what I did. I had meant to make an enchilada casserole with it, but never did that on Sunday, so quesadillas it was. No complaints.

I've noticed an increase in yogurt consumption since I started making strawberry jam. It is awfully good as a yogurt mix-in.


Short version: Lamb chops, rolls, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: Some of the many lamb chops A. cut with his reciprocating saw when we butchered sheep last week. All I did was fry them in tallow with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and za'atar.

I had made the rolls when I thought I would make sloppy joes with the lamb meat. But since we had burritos instead, I still had the rolls. They were slightly stale, but I cut them in half and microwaved them with butter, and they softened right up again.

I found this meal that the one child who doesn't really like lamb much will eat it much more readily with the curry dip (mayonnaise+sweet curry powder). Nice to know, given how much lamb we have in the freezer now.


Short version: Chicken stew, oatmeal/walnut muffins

Long version: I had simmered the chicken carcass the day before to make stock, then picked off all the meat and made a stew with that, the stock, and all the leftover potatoes/carrots/onions/gravy. Plus peas.

I also made the muffins the day before. They were a new recipe I tried and they were very unsweet. I don't like supersweet muffins, but these I think needed more sugar than the recipe called for. They were fine as an accompaniment to the stew, however. And one child announced with great satisfaction while he was eating his, "You're a great baker, Mom," so I guess they had at least one real fan.


Short version: Elk steaks, boiled potatoes, green peas, rotisserie chicken on the road

Long version: This day ended up being crazy busy, with a lot of driving* for me. I left at 10 a.m. and didn't get home until after 8 p.m. 

My sister also arrived for a visit this day, of course while I was gone. When she actually got here, I was at a track meet with one child and A. was driving the school bus. To ensure there would be an proper meal for our guest (and everyone else), rather than just quesadillas, I made most of this meal in the morning before I left.

I actually mostly made it at 5 a.m., which is when I peeled, chunked, and boiled the potatoes, steamed the peas, and put the steaks in a marinade. Then, when A. got home after 5 p.m., all he had to do was fry the steaks and re-heat the sides.

Not that my sister would really care if she were presented with a quesadilla, but steaks are better. A. made a sauce for them with cream and red wine, so they were very well-received.

I had bought a rotisserie chicken on my way out of Walmart. I ate some of that for my lunch in the car as I was driving to the track meet. And then the trackster ate most of the rest of it on our way from the track meet to Holy Thursday Mass.

Refrigerator check!

Stocked up for Easter.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

* We have to drive a lot to get anywhere, but this day I had to go several wheres, so it was a total of almost 300 miles. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Seasonal Flowering

Look what's on my table right now!


Those daffodils and apricot blossoms replaced the arrangement of dried weeds I'd had on the table since Thanksgiving.

A study in contrasts.

Although I do appreciate the subtle beauty in things like that dried arrangement, by the time spring rolls around, I am definitely ready for something more colorful and not brown. 

I purposely don't buy flowers at the store. I have the same feeling about store flowers that proponents of seasonal eating have about produce: It's better to wait for them to be local and in-season. 

This means that it is a long wait for there to be flowers around my house in the spring, but that just makes it all the sweeter when they finally appear. That vase on my table brought joy into my home in the form of flowers.

So tell me: Has spring sprung where you are yet? What are your signs of spring?

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Snapshots: My Apologies

First, I am so sorry I forgot to put my refrigerator photo at the end of Friday's post. Let me remedy that now.

There. Don't we all feel better now?

I walked into the kitchen the other day to find this on the floor.

Rag dolls do the splits. 
Girls are fun.

I spent about three hours at a track meet on Thursday, which is about two hours and fifty minutes longer than I want to be in the sun. Luckily, I am a Mom with a capital "M," so I don't care at all about the fact that I have to wear a long-sleeved button-up linen shirt and the world's dorkiest (but shady!) hat to avoid the sun.

This is my "Fun in the Sun" face.

That very strong sun has been good for the spring flowers in the mechanic's pit.

Crocuses! Daffodils!

The apricot tree behind the pit was also in full bloom.

The butchering we did on Saturday was much less aesthetically pleasing. We had two sheep to cut up. That's a lot of meat.

This is the meat from only one sheep.

Butchering always results in some . . . interesting dishes.

Mostly of the sharp variety.

And lastly, when Poppy went out to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, she came back in with this:

An old calabaza shell makes a surprisingly good egg carrier.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.