Countdown to Christmas

Well, here we are – one week until Christmas. I haven’t posted anything about it because I’ve been so busy getting ready. It’s been a veritable Santa’s workshop at Apartment Farm this year. I made a quilt, embroidered name plaque and baby booties for the baby this year. And I’ve got four sewing projects and a little something for husband to finish up this weekend too. And of course, we still have wrap everything. Busy, busy!

I’ve also been baking cookies (of course). Recently I’ve done chocolate chip and soft gingerbread drop cookies. Tomorrow I’m going to do a double batch of snickerdoodles, dipped in red and green sprinkles, as well as some Russian teacakes since those are husband’s favorite. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get to the spritz this year since I have no idea where the press is. I think it’s in a plastic bin at the bottom and back of the canning cupboard, where it will have to stay. I just don’t have the energy or the will to unpack everything in there to dig it out. Next year though.

And despite some drama, we were able to purchase our annual Christmas ornament – a nativity scene of Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus. We thought it was especially fitting this year since we brought home our own wee babe just three months ago. And we didn’t have a nativity ornament yet, so double-win. The baby loves looking at the Christmas tree – all the bright colors and shiny and glittery ornaments really catch his eye.

We’ve been having a lot of cozy time in at home, which is the perfect way to spend cold winter days where it gets dark before four o’clock in the afternoon. We actually have a fair number of Christmasy Golden Books, so we’ve read through those. And we’ve gotten a few Christmas and winter-themed books from the library. We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer together. This week we’re going to try to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. And I’ve been doing a lot of crockpot and casserole dinners – bean and ham soup with rosemary, scalloped potatoes, chicken with onions and tomatoes in red wine, and the like.  And I try to bake fresh bread every week – I’ve been doing a lot of pain d’epi and rye loaves.

So we’ve been busy, but we’re really enjoying the season and hope all of you are as well!

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Oh Lovely Weekend, We Meet Again

Ah yes – Weekend Time. Is it just me, or has this seemed like a really long week? Weekends are great. Two whole days to relax and recharge. I hope everyone is getting out and enjoying the weather this weekend – still a touch humid around these parts, but the weather seems to have equalized a bit. We’ve been able to have the air conditioning off since yesterday, and I hope we can leave it off for a little while now. It’s certainly hot, but seasonably, so it’s not unbearable. It’s nice to get fresh air circulating through the house and hear the summer sounds.

As for housebound me, I’ve still got some of those infamous sitting projects planned for the weekend. With husband’s help (i.e. strong, steadying arms) I’ve been able to negotiate the single step down from our back door onto the deck, so I’ve been able to sit out on the patio a couple of evenings recently. Slow progress, but progress. So I definitely plan to spend some time lounging back there with a good book.

Otherwise, my fabric order from JoAnn Fabrics arrived in the mail today with the remaining items I need for the baby’s quilt. I mentioned the fabrics I chose the other day in my quilt update post over on Somebody’s Mother if you’re interested in seeing what I picked out. And they were all on sale! So I plan to finish up cutting out the quilt blocks this weekend, which shouldn’t take long. And if I can decide it’s not to hot to work with a hot appliance this weekend, I may even drag out the iron and press and pin them all.

And though I’ve desperately missed being able to walk down the street to the farmer’s market each Sunday, I’ve still been communicating via email with the good folks at Midnight Sun Organics about the canning tomato harvest. They report that the tomatoes are just starting to come on pretty good, so they’ll likely have a small batch (around fifteen pounds) of the #2’s (the less than pristine, canning-quality ones) available this weekend. That’s enough to put up 4-5 quart jars of tomatoes, which is a good intro round for a pseudo-invalid. Husband has awesomely stepped up to help me with the canning this year (is this guy a keeper or what?) since I’m off my game. A lot of the the work I can do sitting down – washing, scoring and and peeling the tomatoes as well as putting them into the jars. I’ll need his assistance with the heavy lifting – getting the stockpot of water set up on the stove, sterilizing the jars, and getting the filled jars from the kitchen table to the counter next to the stove. I may or may not be able to be on my feet with crutches to get the jars in and out of the canner – we’ll see how that goes. It’s working with boiling hot water and heavy glass so he may not even want me to mess with that part (he’s also a good protector-type). But I’m excited that with our teamwork, canning season may officially begin this weekend! 

I also think I mentioned awhile back that I got a new hand-sewn mini blind for the bedroom (from my mother in law) and my sewing table/vanity got a little makeover. I promised pictures, but where are they, you ask? I plan to get those taken and posted for you all this weekend as well. Pretty cool what you can do with a little fabric or paint to make something that’ s just perfect for your space.

And let us not forget pie. I’ve been absolutely nuts about it recently and if I could’ve been, I would’ve been baking two pies a week at least over the last three weeks. Well, this weekend I’m shooting for one. I can’t take a pie-less existence anymore! So I’m going to ask husband to haul all my ingredients to the kitchen table so I can work sitting down. I really want to try to make a batch of mini Shoofly pies. I loved the first full-sized one I made, and I’ve been thinking about doing them up in a miniature for a little while now. I have four five-inch metal pie pans, so I’ll have to have husband dig those out of the bottom of the pantry. And you better believe I’m going to double the crumb topping on these babies. So stay tuned on my (hopefully) successful endeavor in whipping them up on the small scale.

So that’s it – that’s the master plan. Oh, that and not setting the alarm clock for the next two days. I really love that part.

Project Bed Rest

Yes, you read that correctly. I took a fairly bad fall down the stairs at the train station Friday coming home from work. The miracle of it is that the baby is fine. My ankle took the brunt of the fall though, so it did not fair so well. I’m on bed rest for the forseeable future. I can only use crutches to get up for bathroom breaks and the like – which is about all I can manage this pregnant anyhow.

So, that’s the state of things. But I’m trying to keep on top of the things that I want and need to do from the couch. Husband is covering the major bases of course – preparing the meals, keeping the house tidy, running the errands, making sure I’m okay and helping me out. To keep myself motivated and in a positive frame of mind, I’ve decided to outline all the things I can still get done while sitting and laying down.

– Cut the quilt blocks for the baby’s quilt. I’ve been procrastinating on this one because it’s been so hot, but we have the air on and I’ve got nowhere to go.

– Work on the wedding/honeymoon albums. Six years later, maybe I’ll finish them while on bed rest!

– Prep fruit for the freezer so we have pie fillings this winter. We currently have a pint of cherries that need pitting.

– Brainstorm chalkboard paint projects. I’ve got a can that I’ve been meaning to use. I thought of one project that might just work, so if I can convince husband to head to the alley and spray up a few things for me, I’ll post about it this weekend.

– Enter some recipe contests. It’s been ages since I’ve entered any, so I need to make up a short list of the ones that sound interesting to me and see if anything in my repertoire will fit the bill.

That’s probably enough to keep me busy through the weekend. I’m really glad I’ve been so nesty in the last few weeks – the house is in order and all of the major baby stuff is organized. I’m glad those things are taken care of, so now I don’t have to worry about them while my ankle recovers. I’ll know more after I see an orthopedic surgeon in a week, but hopefully the news at that visit will be good!

There’s still tomato canning season ahead of us, and I wanted to make up a bunch of meals for the freezer before the baby arrives, so cross your fingers we get good news at the doctor! Either way, I can do some of the prep for those things while seated, and husband has already volunteered to help me can tomatoes and make the meals – we might not be able to do as many as I had planned, but as long as I can get a batch or two of tomatoes put up and a couple of dinners, I’ll be happy.

Surprise! It’s Raining… Again!

I won’t pretend that I’m not getting exasperated by all this rain. I like a good spring thunderstorm as much as the next person. Just this morning, we enjoyed some time sitting on the deck watching the fog coat the landscape while we waited for breakfast to finish cooking. It was a little cool, but lovely nonetheless. And we were hopeful the day would improve into the “promised” sunshine and high seventies.

Alas, it did not. Breakfast was excellent – I made crockpot pulled pork (I let it go overnight so it would be ready in the morning – useful, but a bit odd to have the smell of pulled pork waking you up in the morning) with my home made barbecue sauce, jalapeno corn bread, roasted breakfast potatoes and scrambled eggs. Quite a spread, and the highlight of the day thus far. After we finished eating, we decided to head over to the thrift shops a few neighborhoods away to donate a few bags of items and see what we could find. And that’s where the day went downhill. We got caught in a torrential downpour, and it’s been raining ever since. We cut our trip short and hustled home, but by the time we made it back we were soaked.

Before we could even dry off at home though, we had to attend to the plants. We dragged the four pots of tomatoes and cabbages under the deck overhang next to the stairs to prevent them getting too water logged and damaged by the wind and any flying debris. Moving these pots constantly to protect them from all this errant weather really makes we want to invest in some wheeled plant coasters, like these –

 We also took down the hanging baskets of peppers and moved most of the pots to the interior wall of the deck. Fortunately, we haven’t suffered any damage yet. No broken stems or soil washouts. The only planter that’s still exposed to the elements is the windowbox with the chard, thyme and oregano in it, but’s secured pretty well and has excellent drainage, so I think it’ll be okay. I’m going to check it in a few hours to be on the safe side though. The weather report says we could have 80 mph wind gusts and hail with this storm, but hopefully not.

So, no deck pictures or sun tea today. Time to start prepping my fabrics for the baby quilt instead. 🙂

Rain, Rain Go Away…

Of course, when it was in the eighties with sunny, blue skies during this past week I was tied to numerous excel spreadsheets and business minutiae in a downtown highrise. Now that I’ve got two whole days of freedom it’s rainy, blustery and barely in the forties. Sometimes life isn’t fair.

I had great plans to obtain the rest of the potting soil and work on transplanting some of the overcrowded plants this weekend, but no. I wanted to make up a few gallons of sun tea. I’d also planned to spend the rest of the time outdoors lounging on the deck with a good book and grilling out for every meal.

Well, even though it’s raining we’re still grilling out. Husband has moved the grill so it’s under the porch overhang and donned his rain jacket to brave the elements so that I can have the barbecue chicken that I’ve been craving. I’m trying to convince him we should apple smoke it, but he’s voting for plain old grilled. Either way will be good. To make it true barbecue chicken, I’m cooking up some of my home made barbecue sauce to slather on it. We’ll maybe serve herbed rice or black eyed peas on the side. A good warm weather dinner even though it’s anything but warm – I’m hoping it will maintain our faith that proper spring and summer are acutally coming. Someday.

Except for doing a massive grocery shopping this morning, we mostly did indoor things. Catching up with blog reading and forums and reading books (which is a nice thing to do in a cozy chair by a rainy window). And now that we know that our little Apartment Farmer is a boy, it’s time for me to get serious about his quilt. It won’t be anything terribly fancy, as this will be the first quilt I’ve ever attempted to make, but it will be made by his Mama. I’m going to sort through my fabrics and old clothes to see if I can make up blocks from as many fabrics that mean something as I can. I have a dark blue dress with a white floral print on it that I used to wear all the time when my husband and I first moved to the city. I’ve got my favorite old pair of dark-wash Levis that I wore up until a few years ago when they literally fell apart. There’s a blue Veruca Salt t-shirt that both my husband and I wore all the time when we first starting dating – they were the first band we bonded over and went to see in concert (I plan to use the front logo for a wall hanging – way better than a band poster, and there will be plenty of fabric from the backside for the quilt). And I’ve got some blue/white fabrics that I’ve picked up over the years with no specific use in mind that will be perfect for this little quilt.

So I guess rainy weekends aren’t all bad. And I’m hoping if it’s rainy now, our three day weekend for Memorial Day in a few weeks will be filled with sun… here’s to hoping.