Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Garden

We started our garden and its growing strong. But its not your typical garden, not because it does not have the normal vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, etc. But its not your typical garden because its a hay bale garden.

Last year we had a very difficult time with our garden, we did not plant it in the sunniest part of our yard, since not much of our yard is that sunny. Then it rained most of the spring and early summer so the vegetables got eaten by slugs. The ground around them was to wet and they could not grow. This year my brother-in-law saw a hay bale garden in a magazine and suggested it to us. We thought it was a good idea because it was like raised beds so better drainage and it was not permanent so we could move its location from year to year.
The first step was to buy four bales of hay for each garden. Dan was able to get these from a farm down the road and made two trips with his VW wagon to get them home. We put them together on the side of our house (the sunniest part of our yard). Making two square beds right along the driveway. Once the beds were set up we had to cover them with organic fertilizer and then cover that with rich dirt and fill the middle hole so we could later plant root vegetables. Once they were covered the magazine stated that they should be keep well wet for two weeks to help them break down and then once that started you could plant right in the hay and root vegetables could be planted in the center. I suggest using a soaker hose daily to keep it well moist during this time because we found it was the most effective way to keep the garden wet and provide enough water directly to the hay bales. You only need to run it a short time each day but it needs to be daily and for a short time not just getting the tops wet but really running through the hay bales.

After the two week period we went to the garden shop and bought our small vegetable plants. You can not plant seeds in these beds but your could start from seeds in small pots and then transplant into the beds when they were ready. We were very excited to start planting we came right home and started. The middle was very easy to plant in and we planted our carrots and beets there right away. Then when I started to plant the tomatoes in the hay part of the garden I realized some of it was not soft enough. This could have been avoided if we had used a soaker hose in the beginning to keep things wet but we did not so they had not broken down enough. So we went and bought a soaker hose and ran it for a few days and then we were able to plant the whole garden. The garden has been planted for almost two weeks and we run the soaker hose almost daily for a about ten to fifteen minutes. Everything is growing beautifully and looks like it is doing well. We are very excited and hope the progress continues.

We also have planted a few things in the old garden area towards the end that is the sunniest and to keep the slugs away we have small dishes on the ground filled with beers. We have caught a few slugs already so it works. But even still those vegetables are not doing as well as the new hay bale gardens, so it may just be a drainage or sun problem but looking forward to these gardens continued success.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rainbow stew Update

I have finally update my blog on Rainbow stew to include the pictures of the finished product. This was a great activity for the preschool students and reinforced the ideas of color mixing. It is also a great stress relief for all ages when you squish the mixture around in the bag. Make sure the bag is taped well and if a student is starting to turn it to brown give them a new bag to start mixing again. Enjoy and have fun.
Check out the full blog below for more information and how to make Rainbow stew.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Azelea Garden

Dan and I went down to RI to visit his brother two weeks ago and he showed us a hidden treasure behind his house. If you go through the woods from his apartment which is located in Kingston RI you come out in an Azelea Garden. This garden is open to the public and covers about six acres of land. There are also Rhododendrons in the garden. We went during the end of April so most of the flowers were just buds but because of the warm weather some had started to open. the whole garden was very beautiful.

There are over 500 different varieties if Azelea's and Rhododendrons found in the garden. There are also some beautiful bridges over small brooks. Some interesting fun trees and a rock moon gate. This moon gate was very unique and beautiful as well. If some parts of the garden you can see the new plants just starting to grow.

We had a very fun day and it was so beautiful. If you are ever in that area check it out. Its open year round to the public thou the best time I am sure is when the flowers are all in bloom. Check out their website for more information.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fruit trees are back

Two years ago when we first moved into our house we planted four fruit trees. Two Apples, one peach and one Cherry. We planted them late in the fall so we were very surprised when they flowered the following spring. We were even more surprised that fall when all but one of them produced.

That fall a year after planting we had the pleasure of eating two cherries, four apples and three peaches from our own trees that were just one year old.

This spring we were once again happy to see all four trees budding and we were hoping we would be lucky enough to have them all produce this year. I have been watching the trees closely this spring and am disappointed to say only three of them have leaves. The cherry tree still has small buds on it but they have been there for a couple of weeks now and no leaves have bloomed out.
I wish I could say it will bloom soon but the other three trees got their leaves a couple of weeks ago so I am starting to think the winter has damaged our young fruit tree.

The other tree that is disappointing right now is the apple tree that did not produce last fall. It got many leaves and then flower buds but the flowers bloomed one day and were gone the next. I do not think they had time to be germinated by the bees.
The leaves look great but there are no flowers like the other two. I hope it will surprise me and that the cherry will as well but for now I look forward to the apples and peaches from the other two trees. They look healthy and happy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

bridal shower towel cake

Last weekend Dan and I attend a Jack and Jill Cocktail party wedding shower for some friends of ours. On the invitation they stated that they wanted to think green and we should not wrap any of the gifts. I thought this was a great idea but I wanted to make our gift beautiful and unique while not wrapping it.
With all of these thoughts in mine I decided to make a towel cake. I had done this for other bridal showers and can be very simple. This is also nice because you can get the towels from the registry to use in making the cake and some of the kitchen gagets as well.
The time before that I did this the bride had registered for pink towels so I put it together with those and a tub of kitchen utensils.

The cake came out good but this time I was much more creative.

This time I bought more towels, I did not use a tub of utensils but just some of the kitchen gagets they registered for to decorate and hold the cake together and also made and got some other decorations.
This bride and groom had registered for white towel so the finished producted came out looking even more likea wedding cake. I rolled the the largest towels one inside the next to make the bottom of the cake and then inserted a mixing spoon inbetween the rolles half way in. I made the second layer with the medium size towels and then connected them using the mixing spoon to hold the layers together. I did the same thing witht he small towels and used a spatual between the rolls of the two layers to connect the middle to the top. I wraped each layer with a ribbon and put a bow in back. I cut shapes out with my circut machine and used these with other utensils and fake flowers to decorate. The cake topper was made out of a biscut cutter and fake flowers. I love how this one came out and will continue to use these ideas to build future towel cakes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In the woods

So while I was in the woods taking pictures of the cave we found Macguyver in I also discovered a wonderful site. There is a small stream that runs along our property and through the back woods near our house. But because of all the water this stream is growing and bubbling like crazy.
The water has created numerous water falls along the path and it twists and turns in many different directions. I was like a kid going along the stream taking pictures and seeing where the water would go. I sat out there for a while just listening to it bubbling over branches, splashing down the rocks into small water falls, and spreading through the woods making new paths.
I enjoyed myself so much when Dan got home that day I took him out to explore it with me.
When Dan and I went out there we took more pictures and explored even further into the woods then I had prior. Besides the stream with the waterfalls, and hidden paths we also saw some wonderful rock walls, a fallen down tree covered in mushrooms and many shades of rocks.
It was a wonderful adventure and a great time in the woods.

My lost Kitten

I went out into the woods near my house today to take some pictures where we found our cat earlier this week. About two Saturday's ago Macguyver was out playing in the yard with Hobbes. Macguyver is not even a year old yet but had been going out for short periods of time and stayed close to the house most times. This day I was out working in the yard and so was Dan most of the day but we did not see either cat, so figured they were out on an adventure together. Later that night Hobbes came to the door to come in but Macguyver was no where to be found.
Every day we looked for Macguyver, we walked the roads near the house we went into the woods and we even walked down the farm near our house (where he was born). We did not find him. :(
We missed our little kitten so we decided to make some fliers. He had a collar with my address and phone number and a micro chip in is back that could be scanned to locate us. But nothing came in from either of those. We figured he lost the collar and was either lost in the woods, someone had taken him in or worse yet the coyotes had gotten him.
Wednesday night we put 50 fliers in our neighbors mailboxes. When we got home I saw a white spot in the woods and like we have done for a while we went out to investigate hoping it was him but thinking it would just be another white bag. But it started to run and Dan followed it. It was him and he was hiding in the back of a small rock cave. When we were really quiet he slowly came out to us. we took him home and now he is save with us.
He was very hungry and scared for a while of any noise, but he was not injured and now he is almost back to his playful self. We are glad he is home and so his is big brother Hobbes.
We will be doing some more training with him before he goes out again and hope he will stay closer to home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rainbow Stew

Last week in my preschool classroom we talked about St. Patrick day. We are also studying a unit on colors right now and tied this all together with some lessons on the rainbow. As a special project I made the things for rainbow stew and brought them in for the students to play with and create their own rainbow stew to bring home.
To make rainbow stew I used 1 cup of cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, 4 cups of water and food coloring. I made three different colored patches because I needed enough for forty kids, but if you wanted to make less you could add the color after cooking once you divided it into smaller portions. So I took all these things and put them in a pot of the stove. I cooked them on med/high until they started to thicken. I made one patch of red, one blue, and one yellow.

I brought them all to school and with the kids I put a small portion of each color in a zip lock bag and taped it shut. The kids could them squeeze the bag and play with it to mix the colors. As the colors started to mix they were able to see all the colors of the rainbow start to form. I few students were very ambitions and did mix the colors until they turned brown but it took longer to do this if I had put the right amount of mixture in the bag and most of the kids stopped when they saw all the colors.

The students really enjoyed this and many even wanted to make more than one bag.

This was a great activity for young children.

This is also a great stress release and many adults have enjoyed mixing the colors as well.
Once the bags are down and not over mixed you can also hang them in the window to use to create brighter colors as the sun shines through.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Early sign of spring

When I got home from work today I grabbed my camera and heading straight back out. I notice on my trip from the car to the house some early signs of spring that I just needed to capture before they based me by.
I love this time of year when the rain finally stops and the sun is shining high. Little buds start to form, small green leaves stick out between the leaves (left on the ground from last fall).
I can smell spring in the air and see growth all around me.
There are many early signs of spring but my favorite are the flowers. I love to see the crocuses that I plants my first fall in this house come up and almost flower from the first sight of them.
The other signs I look for is the buds on the bushes and trees. I noticed the fruit trees were also budding which is great because it reminds me of a special treat I will get when they produce this fall. Spring is special time of new growth, fresh starts and great life. I am glad I had this special moment to find these special treasures and the promise they will bring me in the future.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Coquelets sur Canapes

For my birthday Dan bought me some Julia Child cookbooks. So last night we decided to cook Coquelets sur Canapes, which is Game Hens with chicken liver Canapes and Mushrooms.
First we had to clarify the butter, which means melting it until is separates and then you skim of the foam and shift out just the clear liquid not the white liquid at the bottom. We used the clear liquid to saute bread slices on each side. They came out crisp and brown. We then boiled bacon for ten minutes. We grounded the bacon with the chicken livers, and port wine and spread it on top the bread.
Next we sauteed mushrooms with shallots, butter and port wine and then set them aside. I rubbed the cavity of the game hens with shallots, butter, garlic, and tarragon. Dried the outside and wrapped them with the rest of the boiled bacon. They went in the roasting pan with oil and butter then into the oven. The recipe said we had to baste the hens every five to seven minutes and they cooked for about 45 minutes. This took some time. When they were done. I took tablespoons of the broth and cooked it with more shallots and port wine and chicken stock and made a reduction.
We then toasted the bread and liver in the oven for a minute and heated the mushroom saute. The bread goes on a plate with the hens on top, mushrooms around and reduction sauce on top. Now its ready to serve.
What I learned was that I needed alot of butter, smaller hens, and alot of port wine, but they were very good and since our game hens were larger we had plenty of left overs.
The chicken was very good, but I have decided I am not a big fan of chicken livers pate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Waiting for Spring

When we first moved into our house a year and a half ago my husband and I planted four fruit trees, a peach, two apples (one pie apple and one eating apple), and a cherry tree. That spring we planted many more flowers around the yard and saw what plants were already growing around.

We also planted a garden, unfortunately that did not go over well. It started off the day we planted it by hailing an hour after we finish and not just any hail but grape size hail stones. Then the spring and summer were so wet that it was more of a swamp and the slugs took over. Though we got some yummy potatoes, some lettuce and a few other things not as great as we hoped. We did get some fruit that first year which was better then we thought since the trees were not even a year old.

This week I have been thinking about our plants, trees, gardens and land. Earlier this year I had received an invitation to join the arbor day foundation I thought it was a great organization. I am really into nature and our environment so I sent in the $20 to join. Well this week I got a surprise, I received my membership card, a pamphlet of the trees, shrubs, and bushes they sell and a letter. The letter stated that I was now a member and would receive ten free trees in the mail between march and June depending on my planing zone, I would also receive another free gift. I can not wait to find out what it is. I was also very excited about the pamphlet because most of their trees are around $5 but I think the most expensive is $15. I was looking and reading all about each one trying to find out if I could plant any others in our already crowded yard. I am not sure where I will even put the free ones but have many ideas for future planting.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

korean bar-bque

Went out to dinner with my family tonight for my birthday. We went to this neat restaurant in Westborough. Its a Korean place. We started off the meal with sushi. IT was really good my favorite was the Hawaian Sushi. Which had tempora shrimp with salmon and toped with mango and nuts. We also had shrimp dumpling for an appertizer. It was all very yummy my nephew who is three really liked the soy beans and mizo soup that we had next.
For our main course we we had them grill boneless short ribs, scallops, and shrimp on the table grill which my nephew enjoyed watching. Then you wrap the meat in lettuce with white rice and a variety of vegetables. That its really unique and delicious as well. We had noodles with chicken which were very sweet and vegetable fried rice along with our main courses. They also brought out a steamed egg which was still bubbling in its black dish when it came out. I tried it but it was salty and tasted different I did not like that.
For dessert we had red bean ice cream and green tea ice cream and a banana egg roll. Which I would describe as a fried banana wrapped in a crispy flaky pastry shell it was very good. We also had chocolate cake since it was my birthday. My nephew picked it out for me and it was really rich and chocolaty. It was a delicious meal and a great time with the family I enjoy trying new food.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I cooked a new dish the other night. It was really easy in fact the most difficult part was getting the recipe as I cooked. My monitor had broke earlier in the week and so I was using my work laptop to check e-mail etc. I had found a recipe for sun-dried tomatoes with spinach and pasta and saved it to my e-mail. When I decided to cook it I pulled up the recipe on my laptop and put the laptop on the kitchen table since I could not print without my computer. The laptop keep going into save mode or was just across the room from where I was cooking presented a couple of challenges but it all worked out great.
I added Chicken and Mushrooms to the recipe as well. It only took about half hour to cook and most of that was cooking the pasta (the chicken was from leftovers so was already cooked). Dan came down to eat and said it looked picture perfect, he told me I had to take a picture cause it looked like something you see in a magazine.
The best part was that not only did it look good it tasted great as well.
Dan thought it was fancy but I thought it was great for after work since it was easy, quick and tasted great. We both enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Went out and sat by the stream behind my house yesterday afternoon. Feels and looks like spring out there. The snow is melting the stream is running. The moss is green and a few branches even have small buds on them. Its wonderful to take a moment and listen to nature all around. The stream flowing through the woods and over rocks and branches. The birds and animals running over the snow and leaves. Its just so peaceful and relaxing out in the woods. I wish I could join nature each day for a few moments to get away from my busy life and our busy world and just look at the simple pleasure that are all around us. I hope you enjoy the little piece I took back with me in my picture, the world is a great picture and I can treasure the quiet moments I have in nature.

Friday, February 19, 2010


When I first graduated from college I had an elementary education teaching certification (Grade 1-6) and a psychology degree. I was ready to teach. Well I quickly found that getting a job would not be that easy. The first couple of years I taught everything from a substitute preschool teacher, a special education Kindergarten teacher, a building substitute for grades fourth and fifth grade, I was a one on one tutor for a bipolar third grader, and a special education assistant for four third grade classes. These experiences taught me one thing that I did not want to teach up to sixth grade. In fact I preferred the younger students mostly kindergarten and preschool. But my certification was not in this area. So I went back to graduate school and started working in a childcare center. After two years, three classes and two more teacher exams I was now certified to teacher preschool through second graders with or without special needs and I still had my original elementary certification.
I then got a job in a public preschool and found I was teaching a wide range of students age three to five with many different disabilities. I liked my job but I wanted to learn more about my students disabilities and if I wanted to keep my teaching certifications I still needed to get my masters degree. So I decided to get a masters in moderate special needs. Now two and a half years later and six classes later I have just received my third teaching certification my license to teach moderate special needs students grades preschool to eighth grade. I am triple certified to teach my students. I can teach students in grade preschool through eighth with special needs, preschool through second with or without special needs, and regular education students in first through sixth grade. I have decided I do not want to teach above third grade but have to keep my options open. I am also completing that masters degree. I am enrolled in a master program in moderate special needs so all my classes in this field will carry over and I am quickly approaching the end. I love my job and my students and am excited that I am qualified to do my job well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My hair cut

Today I went to the hair dressers. I went in with a full head of hair that came half way down my back when it was curly. Now for those that do not know me I have not cut my hair in about twenty years. At that time I was in the sixth grade and decided to cut it really short I could not do anything with it. It took a couple of years to grow out to the point where I could style it again. I hated it and swore I would never cut my hair that short again. I have years of horrible class pictures to reminded me of that terrible decision. To this day day I still have no idea what possessed me to want to cut it that short.

Anyways back to today. I have been planning this for a while I went to the hair dressers and chopped my hair off. I still did not go as short as I had twenty years ago. But I took off twelve inches and when it is straight it comes to my shoulders when it is curly it will be just above the shoulders. Why did I do this well this time I had a purpose. I wanted to donate my hair to locks of love. I know so many people that this organization has helped from family, to friends, co-workers and even students. I wanted to help these people as well. I left the hair dressers feeling good about what I had done. It is going to take a while to get use to the feeling I am still trying to brush out the long hair that is not there but I know I made a difference and its all for a great cause. My twelve inches of hair will benefit someone with cancer and help them feel better about themselves. So that they can keep up their positive attitudes and continue on with their life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Day

Today was productive but not as exciting as I hoped. First before I get to far into my snowy day I need to explain what happened with the cookies I had made up for Dan and why they were left behind. He was so excited about his cookies and did not want to forget them so as he was walking around the kitchen getting ready to leave he carried them around with him. He was making tea to bring in the car cause it was snowing and cold outside. He kept them in his hand the whole time but then he needed to put them down to pour the tea water into the travel cup. He was tired so even thou he only placed them on the counter for a minute that is where they stayed. He did not realize it until he was looking for them in the car when he got to work.

As for the rest of my day it was snowing all day so instead of going to Flexcon ( a contact paper supply store for teachers) I stayed home. I ironed my curtains and hung them up, Macguyver only attacked them once while I was ironing. I finished my laundry, it only took four loads. I ordered photos to hang up in the living room, and I made dinner. I was suppose to have graduate class tonight but due to the snow that was canceled as well. It was a productive day at home but I am not a person that can be inside without others for long periods of time, looking forward to running all my errands tomorrow.

Cookies continued

I made the cookies with many trials along the way. I got all the ingredients out and then Dan called and said he would be home in about 30 minutes. So I put everything aside and decided I needed to start dinner first. I was planning a salad and crab cakes for dinner, so with the salads made and the crab cakes cooking in the oven it was back to the cookies. Brown sugar was almost out but had just enough to make one patch of cookies. I was mixing up the batter when Dan walked in.
Batter in the freezer time to wait three hours, was not sure I would still be up to this at ten but was going to give it a try.
At nine o'clock I decided to check and see if the batter was hard. It was an hour early but it was solid so I decided it was ready and started to roll out the dough. I had cut out have the cookies when Dan came down and helped me so by 9:30 all the cookies were cooling on the rack.
Dan was so excited he decided to eat one right away and almost burnt his tongue. But they were awesome and we went to bed after bagging them up so the cats could not get them and making a small portion for Dan to bring to work with his lunch. When I got up this morning Dan was gone to work but the cookies for his lunch were still on the counter, he left them behind.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I am going to make some yummy cookies. Its right after valentine's day, and I just got some new cookie cutters for Christmas so I want to use them and I have been wanting to make these sugar cookies that were Dan's (my husband) favorite when he was growing up so at 6 o'clock I have decided to start. He is not on his way home yet so it would be a nice surprise if I was making them when he got home.
I just pulled out the recipe and noticed it said they need to chill three hours before rolling them out and cutting them then cooking. I have all night and no work tomorrow so I will start them now and then they can chill while I make dinner and we eat then later I can cut and cook them. Dan will be able to take some to work with his lunch tom.

The First

This week I am on vacation. I am a teacher and it is school vacation week. I am going to try this out and see if I can post something new and interesting each day this week. If I do well I will try and keep it going after I go back to work. That will be the more difficult part since not only am I a teacher I am also taking graduate classes twice a week, I'm newly married, remodeling a house with my husband, and have many more hobbies.

On top of all this I have two cats Hobbes is a year and a half and yes he is an orange tiger. Macguyver is old half a year old and he is white with brown tips.

Macguyver is my interest today. Have you ever heard of a cat that loves water? My husband was taking a shower the other day and had left the door opened to the bathroom a crack. Next thing we know Macguyver was in the shower too and it did not phase him that he was getting wet until he was directly under the shower head then he jumped out.You would think this would be the end but know a couple of days later I turn on the shower but did not get in I left it running and went to grab something in another room when I got back Macguyver was swatting at the water and walking around the edge of the tub.

Time to make sure the door is always shut when in shower, claws in the shower does will not equal fun.