Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garage Sale

I’ve been working all week getting ready for a garage sale. We are empty nesters now and we feel the need to simplify. We have too much stuff. We’d like to move in a few years and it would be nice to have less stuff to move. Since our subdivision is having its annual garage sale, we decided to try to make a little money as we clean out our closets and attic.

Getting ready for a garage sale is an ordeal. Deciding what to part with can be very emotional. You have to make really tough decisions. Certain things trigger memories of better times. I am allowing myself to keep one plastic tub per child. I am putting school work, art, and favorite toys and clothes in these tubs. I also have several tubs containing their books, toys, games, and trophies which I will give them when they get their own permanent homes. One down and two to go!

I am one of those weird people who actually enjoy cleaning and organizing but it hasn’t been fun. Last weekend we cleaned out our attic. My husband broke the ladder into the attic which we will have to have rebuilt. He dropped several boxes of glasses and they shattered all over the garage. I am still finding pieces of glass. Everything in the attic was very dusty. I spent most of yesterday washing stuff. And now the weatherman is predicting rain all weekend. Bummer!

My garage is now full of boxes. I will be pricing things and arranging them on tables today. I hope I can avoid getting emotionally attached to these things and can put them up for sale as planned.

If the garage sale is successful, I will have a few bucks and a clean garage. If not, I will be hauling a lot of stuff to the Goodwill or Salvation Army Shop! Either way, my reward will be a nice clean garage and attic.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Garden Flow

I love this weather. Cool, crisp mornings and evenings and warm, sunny afternoons. I have been working like a dog – cleaning up my yard and planting flowers. There are four things I like about gardening: fresh air, sunshine, the ability to immediately see results of your labor, and getting so involved in the work that you are able to forget about everything and really enjoy yourself. It is a very satisfying hobby.

It can be addicting. New ideas for improvement constantly keep popping into my head. My middle aged body and my budget can’t keep up. I ache all over and my pockets are empty. I am happy to have a few rainy days to rest and regroup. It is early in the season and I still have plenty of time to do whatever I want to my yard.

Gardening takes patience. It can be a very relaxing and rewarding hobby if you let it. You have to be careful not to get obsessive about it.

I was very disappointed in my vegetable garden this week. It is a small little garden encased in 2 foot fence to keep out the rabbits. I can’t get a tiller in it so I have to work it with a shovel or garden fork. This year it was full of roots and huge dirt clods and I even found some rocks in there. I don’t know how those rocks and roots got there. Anyway, I turned over a layer of dirt and then chopped up the clods with a hoe but it still was too rough to plant. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I quit for the day. My back hurt and I was frustrated. We got a little rain that night and the next afternoon I hopped back in there with my hoe and I raked and chopped mindlessly until it was nice and smooth. The rain has loosened things up and the raking back and forth really smoothed it out. I was able to plant seeds and pepper plants. I was so happy.

I had forgotten about “flow”. Flow is the state of being where a person is totally immersed in a task. They lose track of time and forget about the world around them as they focus completely on what they are doing. It is very calming and satisfying.

Lesson: Have patience. Break down difficult tasks into a couple of days. Establish “flow”. I will try to remember this all summer as I work around the yard.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring is Here!

I hope you had a great Easter! My new ham and cake recipe were awesome! The ham smelled so good while it was baking and tasted delicious. The cake was perfect: pretty, delicious, and low fat!

Spring is finally here! Warm sunny days, thunderstorms, and greenery everywhere you can see. Some of the flowering trees are beautiful this year! I am spending the rest of this month cleaning out my closets and garage for the huge garage sale our subdivision will be having the first weekend of May and cleaning up the yard.

It is so hard to decide what to keep and what to discard. I can only do a little every day because I have found that I am emotionally attached to some of my “stuff”. A lot of my things bring back memories of when the kids were little. I have to be really tough about getting rid of things and only have the emotional fortitude to do a little at a time. It’s going to take awhile. I’m trying to do a little spring cleaning at the same time.

My husband and I are going to start cleaning up the yard this weekend. It is supposed to be a beautiful, sunny weekend and we’re hoping to get it all done. The grass looks like a jungle. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the grass is really long and there are lots of pesky weeds already that need to be pulled. I highly recommend Preen for weed control. You can sprinkle it among your flower beds and mulched areas and weeds will not sprout. It doesn’t hurt your flowers. Preen saves you a lot work. I used it last year and I think it is a wonderful product.

There is a lot of work to be done this time of year: cleaning, gardening, mowing, weeding, getting out the window screens and lawn furniture, washing the window, etc. There are also a lot of things to enjoy: eating lunch outside in the warm sun, a long scenic walk, playing golf or watching a baseball game, eating fresh strawberries. We love these warm spring days!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone!

It is Good Friday and a beautiful spring morning. We are expecting hot weather today and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. Easter should be sunny and warm.

I have cleaned my house, made a beautiful spring wreath for my front door and a large Easter basket for my children, and bought groceries for my Easter dinner. My youngest son is home from college for the weekend. I am going to relax and enjoy this day. Tomorrow I will bake Easter Egg Cookies, color eggs, and bake a spiced ham. I am trying a new recipe that was in our newspaper Wednesday and I will share it with you. It sounds delicious!

Roasted Fresh Ham with Maple-Spice Glaze

8- to 10-pound bone-in fresh ham, preferably from the shank end, any rind removed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup

Put the ham in a large roasting pan, preferably one that's shiny enough to reflect lots of ambient heat and not so flimsy that it tips when you pick it up. Set the oven rack as high as it can go and still afford the ham at least 2 inches of head space. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Smooth the spice mixture all over and massage.

Cover the whole kit and caboodle with aluminum foil, shove it into the oven and leave it alone for 3 1/2 hours, while you go do whatever it is you do when a big, sweating hunk of meat is roasting in your oven.

Peel off the aluminum foil. Baste the ham with about half the maple syrup, preferably using a basting brush. Take it easy so you don't knock off the spice coating. Use small strokes. Or just dribble the syrup off a spoon.

Continue roasting the ham, uncovered this time, basting every 15 minutes or so with more maple syrup as well as any pan drippings, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone registers 170 degrees, about 1 1/4 hours. If it starts to singe or turn too dark, tent it loosely with foil, uncovering it just at the last to get it back to crunchy crisp.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before carving.

On Sunday, I will roast a turkey breast and make mashed potatoes and gravy, garlic and parsley pasta, green beans with bacon, corn, and rolls. I will reheat my ham. I am also making an Angel Lush Cake for the first time. I sampled this cake at the grocery store and it was delicious!

Angel Lush

1 (20 ounce) can DOLE crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained
1 pkg. (4 serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Reduced Calorie Pudding & Pie Filling
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping
1 (10 ounce) package round angel food cake
10 fresh strawberries

1. Mix pineapple with its juice and the dry pudding mix in medium bowl. Gently stir in whipped topping.
2. Cut cake horizontally into three layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut-side up, on serving plate; top with 1-1/3 cups of the pudding mixture. Cover with middle cake layer and an additional 1 cup of the remaining pudding mixture. Top with remaining cake layer; spread top of dessert with the remaining pudding mixture.
3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Top with strawberries just before serving. (from Kraft)