Friday, September 30, 2011

Madeira Cake

One of my favorite, fast coffee or tea cakes is Madeira Cake by Nigella Lawson. This one has the optional poppy seeds which go so well with the lemon.

I've baked it on a Friday afternoon with the hopes it will be around long enough to be enjoyed with coffee for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Growing

My hoop house growing has had a set back. I've never had trouble with cutworms and caterpillars before, but now I seem to have a plague of them. I am wondering if they arrived with some composted cow manure I bought and added to the soil, only to discover it wasn't very nice at all.

Jeff and I have been looking for pests and squishing all we find. I'm hoping our friendly toads will eat some of them! The toads have made themselves at home in the hoop house and there are little 'toad wallows' here and there where they dig in a little for coolness and moisture. They amuse me, but they also startle me sometimes when I am planting or weeding and they shrug up out of the soil!

The pests have been attacking my parsley, basil, cilantro and broccoli. They have demolished the beets and spinach. They even got inside collars when I tried to protect the seedlings...boy, was I mad then!

So far, the collards, radishes and carrots are doing ok, but I'm a little afraid to say this in case I am jinxed! Some little radish seedlings:

I know things will get better, but it is frustrating at the moment to plant and watch it get eaten. However, I LOVE the hoop house! I am looking forward to writing up my last construction post to show you the roll up side and the doors on hinges.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fresh Baked Bread

I am in the mood for baking and am hoping the weather turns fall-like soon, so it's enjoyable to have the oven on. Between the summery temps and my 'incubating' condition, the heat has been too much for me to contemplate turning the oven on very often. But, I have made some pizzas and mac and cheese in the past couple of weeks.

Today, I made yummy 'white toast bread' from Sweet and Savory Swedish Baking by Leila Lindholm. I love the taste and texture from poppy seeds on the sides and bottom and the Malden salt flakes on the top!

I ate 3 hot slices with softened butter right out of the oven. I can do that as I'm eating for two! Well...not all the time ;)

I am such a fan of Leila Lindholm. I hope to see her latest book published in English sometime soon. It's called Hello Cupcake and, if you click that link, you'll see that the preview pictures are gorgeous. In the meantime, however, I still have a lot of cooking to do from her two books that I already have!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shopping for Baby!

I've been a little quiet on here lately, mainly because I had a cold. I didn't want to take anything for it, so I just suffered through with lots of sleep and general lazing around and watching episodes of Midsomer Murders.

As soon as I felt better, we began shopping for the baby! Last weekend, we spent a lot of Saturday and Sunday at various stores and now, there is baby stuff all over the house. It is one more step that makes this feel very real and exciting. I've been unboxing and trying to get all the cardboard out of the house. Jeff has a lot of bits to assemble now.

We got some of the major items, like a 'travel system' that includes a stroller and attachable, newborn car seat. Hurrah! We have a way to bring him home from the hospital!

We got a 'bouncer' for a safe place to set him down and hopefully amuse him with the motion it makes. We got the Baby Bjorn carrier that everyone seems to get, a whale shaped bath tub with toys included, a pelican water jug for rinsing, some little toys and blankets...

Oh, we have the crib too! But I have to order the matching changing table from the web as it's not sold in stores. But no real rush as the nursery is still in a state of complete upheaval that has spread to a couple of other rooms too! Much furniture is getting shifted around or stored. Painting will be commenced within the next week or so. I am hoping to hit an upcoming sale on the paint that a store clerk told me about when I was picking out paint samples.

I have lots more ideas about what to get and need to make lists for our next shopping trips for the feeding and changing items. Fortunately, my mom and dad have been sending lots of clothes, so I haven't even had to think about that!

The doggies think everything is for them and I suspect they are going to think the bouncer is an exciting new kind of dog bed when Jeff gets it assembled...

(photos from Babiesrus website)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pizza Night!

I recently got a lovely new cookbook by Leila Lindholm called One More Slice and reading it gave me such a craving for pizza! Tonight, I tried her basic crust and it came out beautifully. It is my favorite sort of pizza crust--with some durum wheat mixed in.

I made the tomato sauce from our garden puree and topped it with mozzarella and parm. Yes, I do like rather a lot of fresh, black pepper too ;)

The only trouble was the heat! It is still too hot here to comfortably run a 500 F oven. I am looking forward to some fall weather.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

1st Day with the Cover

We timed the skinning just right! Yesterday, we had a hot day for attaching it, which meant the plastic was flexible and stretchy. Today, the temperature was quite cool (60's F) and the plastic tightened just right and really looks good!

Here is the north side.

Here is the south side with the ventilation needing parts/finishing.

It is cozy and fun inside! I can't wait to get the doors on!

Ignore the 2x4 bracing--that is leftover from our preparations for Irene. We will only use them as a precaution in the most severe weather as the house is quite solid.

The rain from the remains of Hurricane Lee is a good test of the covering. We have one small drip along the hip board that we will have to locate and cover with some repair tape I have ready for just such times. Also, water has not pooled anywhere on the plastic, which is really nice to see! I won't need to worry about going out in storms to dump water off it.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Garden Construction Project: Building a Hoop House PART 2

After the exhausting long weekend of preparing for, getting through and recovering from Irene, it was nice to get back to normal and have a holiday weekend to continue work on the hoop house.

The next step was to affix the hip board to the south side of the house. This is to help with the roll up ventilation. Hopefully, water and snow won't pool above it too much.

It was fastened to the hoops with c shaped pipe straps. Even though it is a metal to metal contact, it is a tight fit and doesn't slip! (Our back up plan, if they had slipped, was going to be cutting bits of old bike inner tubes to squeeze between the contact points.)

The hip board was attached to the end hoops with a self tapping screw. There are two rows of wiggle wire track on the hip board as we need to have eyelet screws in between for lacing the anti billow cord over the roll up ventilation section.

Here is how the wiggle wire track looks on one of the end walls.

All potentially sharp or rough edges were covered with felt tape.

The plastic was cut to length (we have a roll that will cover it twice). Then, we started pulling the plastic over the hoops and temporarily secured it with clamps and 'tacked' it down with the wiggle wire in places until it was pretty well aligned and tight. Then, all the wiggle wire was snapped into place.

Progress shot. The rolled up part will become a proper roll up side for ventilation. We need to assemble some pipes and attach a handle/crank. It will be further secured with anti billow rope laced between the hip and side boards. A couple of narrow strips of plastic will be attached at each end, between the hip and side boards. Having this double layer at the ends will help keep out the wind.

Inside the 'bubble'!

So, still remaining to do is the roll up ventilation, neatening up the ends of the plastic on the end walls, cutting the doors to size and mounting them on hinges and deciding what latches to use. I think after that, all I have to do is get planting!

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's a...


I'm so happy we can stop calling the baby 'it' now!

Yesterday, I had my exciting 20 week ultrasound, giving us a glimpse of a healthy and active looking baby. We counted limbs, fingers and toes! Here is baby's web debut:

I started to really feel pregnant in week 19 and grew out of my jeans. Yoga style pants with a stretchy waist are good right now. I'm not ready for the huge belly band pants yet! I still feel very well, just less flexible in the middle and there are some brief aches now and then. Also, I started to really feel the baby moving around and being especially active at times, like when I try to go to bed! I guess I have to get used to never want to go to bed.

It's time to work on the nursery and sign up for classes. This week, I got info about first baby pictures that can be taken in the hospital and a form to send back right away! That makes it feel like time is flying. We are so excited, but haven't really started to prepare yet! I don't think buying stuffed toys counts...