Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding Solutions!

There were many deep fried leftovers in the house since none of us were able to finish our plates.  I really was drawing a blank on what to do with them since left over fried food is often greasier than it was when it was freshly made.  Then it came to me.

Meatloaf.  I took the seitan nuggets, mushrooms, cauliflower, and onions and dropped them into the food processor.  Once they were "meaty", I added some oats, ketchup, bbq sauce and a few spices to perk it up and soak up some of the oil.  I glazed it with a bbq and mustard sauce and baked until it was beginning to brown.  It can out really well, help up together perfectly and tasted great!

It is really nice to stumble on something great off the end of something questionable.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deep Fry Friday Part 4: This may have been a mistake...

I had a brilliant idea.  I was going to make the ultimate deep fried dish.  I make my seitan chickin nuggets, battered mushrooms, french fries, battered cauliflower, and battered onion pieces.

I tossed them in a fresh herb encrusted breading and into the deep frier they went.  I was so excited.  I thought it might end up being the best meal of my life.  As I started plating I realized how heavy the dish was.

Without losing hope, I heaped fried food on top of fried food.  I could barely contain myself as I started to dig in.  The seitan chickin nuggets were on par as my usual.  The fries were great, the mushrooms we juicy and succulent.  The cauliflower was extremely flavorful, but the onions stole the show.  They were incredible.

About half way through my plate of gorgeous gluttony, I started to feel like I had made a mistake.  I looked around the table at Ashley and Kaleigh who were tearing into their plates just has vigorously, and they had the same look.  We wanted to keep putting it away but it felt like we needed to stop.  We all ended up eating ourselves into a belly ache but still felt like it might have been worth it....maybe.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apples and Family!

We have been in Maine for nearly 2 months now and I am still trying to see everyone.  We have been very busy starting new jobs and school and getting projects done at the house.  Sadly, some visits have taken longer than others.

My sister, Nikki and her kids, invited us to go apple picking with them.  Ashley, Kaleigh and I have a long tradition of apple picking and we were going to be sure not to miss it this year so this invite was perfect.

The orchard we went to had lots of Macintosh trees, a corn maze, a pick your own flowers, and even a pick your own herb garden!  It was a pretty cool place, we got to ride in a huge wagon to the orchard.  We even found a cool frog bouncing around the orchard.

I wish was a good enough baker to make some pie but sadly, I will just try not to ruin an apple crisp and be happy.  There is nothing like Maine apples!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


My sister has about 4 blueberry bushes in her back yard.  She invited Ashley, Kaleigh and I to come pick them as she said there were too many.  We expected to get a quart or so of blueberries from the bushes.  We were wrong.

After about 25 minutes of picking blueberries by the fistful we had no more containers.  There were so many blueberries that we barely made a dent in her harvest.  It was amazing.  The three of us left my sisters house committed to planting our own bushes.

A few days later, Kaleigh and I made blueberry jam with our fresh picked, organic, local blueberries!  We were able to get about a dozen jars of jam before we ran our of berries.  A week later, we are being asked to come pick more as they are falling off the bushes!

I can not wait until next summer when we are able to grow our own food.  It is going to be so rewarding.  This is what we moved for, becoming more self sustaining, more financially free, and the fresh ocean air!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Holding on until the very end...

After nearly 12 years. I had forgotten how chilly September mornings in Maine can be.  The past few days, when Kaleigh and I go out to catch the bus, we have been able to see our breath.  It warms up nicely by the late morning but these early starts are cold.  I suppose it signifies the last hoorah of the Maine summer.

We took full advantage of the month that we had though.  We went to the beach several times.  It feels great to get out of landlocked Atlanta.  In Georgia, the beach is not a day trip by any means.  From our new house, the ocean is about 35 minutes away and the state park beaches are about 1 hour.  

We swam in water that was far to cold to swim in, we climbed rocks to explore the wldlife that lives in the tide pools, we had many a picnic in the sand, and even went bookie boarding.  I have really missed the ocean.

We will miss the summer as the colder weather begins to roll in but we are still holding out for a few warm weekends before we have to say goodbye officially.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Composting; Step One: The Bin

For weeks I have been searching for free pallets to build a cubic yard compost bin.  My Dad and Sue hit the jackpot!  The delivered about a dozen old pallets to our house the other day!

The next morning I got to work.  Recently, I have been watching a great web series by the folks at Garden Fork.  They have an awesome video on building a compost bin from old pallets that I have been eager to get into.  Everyone interested in these bins should watch their video.

I had to improvise a bit as I went but it was very easy.  It cost me a few hours labor, some screws, hinges, and a latch.  That is it.

Step 1: get your materials.  Find your pallets.  I used pallets that have already seen their best years so perfect pallets are not needed.  Get your drill, some scrap wood, screws, hinges, latch, and some gloves.

Step 2: set your pallets up on a relatively flat area of ground.  Then stand them up against each other so you can eyeball where your screws are going to go, which side will be your door/front.

Step 3: screw it together.  I did not use and extra brackets or anything.  I just screwed the pallets into themselves.  I had to use two pieces of scrap wood from a broken piece of pallet to make sure it was secure.

Step 4: attach the hinges.  For my, this was the tricky part.  You want to make sure your door side it off the ground by about an inch so that you can get it open and closed easily.  Then make sure the hinges are level and screw them in.

Step 5: install the latch.  This actually seemed like an optional step since my door seemed to stay closed fairly well without it but down the road I may be happy I have the latch.

That is it.  It was an easy task and I didn't even get a splinter (thanks to my gloves)!  Now we have a great use for food that begins to turn as well as a great place to put all the veggie scraps after Kaleigh and I make our special broth!

Check out the outstanding video that I used to help me build this great bin here:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Paid off the new house!

This past Tuesday, Ashley and I paid off the new house.  We never even had to make a mortgage payment.  We had considered keeping a mortgage and doing more of the work we wanted to do with the house but the mortgage company, Mortgage Network, dropped the ball at every turn and could no longer make good on their commitment to pay out the moneys due.  Fortunately, we were in the unique position to simply pay the mortgage off and pay the contractor out of pocket for the new roof, siding, spetic, etc. Never use Mortgage Network.  As my niece would say "Nevah Evah!".

On the plus side, we are now mortgage free and neither of us has a car note!  We are in a great position for years to come and despite the headache, it feels great to have the debt gone.  It is a proud moment in our lives.  I am only 34 and own my home free and clear.

This past week or so has had a number of memorable Maine firsts.  Kaleigh began her first day of 2nd grade!  She is already making friends, it amazes me how quickly children her age make friends.  Ashley also started her first day off work.  She seems to really enjoy the hospital she works at which is great!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trip to the lake

My oldest sister, once a year, rents a cabin on Belgrade Lake in Oakland Maine.  Fortunately, this year, it was shortly after we moved so we were able to go visit her, the kid and her family.

We spent some quality time doing dinner after swimming.  There was a floating dock Kaleigh and her cousins really enjoyed until they got rained out.

We also played a brutal game with fake swords in the woods.  It reminded me a bit of my first time playing laser tag.  There is no other feeling like shooting and stabbing children only to have them get up and so I can do it again!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blackfly Ball!

I am still trying to catch the blog world up on my recent move to Maine.  We have done a lot of fun things and trying to capture them all is an enjoyable but time consuming task.

Shortly after Ashley's birthday, we headed to the Blackfly Ball in Machias Maine.  The Ball is hosted by the Beehive Collective which does radical artwork in larger than life fashion.  It is extremely impressive work that everyone should check out if they have the chance.

We traveled the distance to Machias mainly to see a band that Ashley, Kaleigh and I all enjoy, Blackbird Raum.  They are a folk/punk band from the west coast with some great politics and an amazing stage presence.

It turned out to be a late night with a nearly 3 hour drive home after a show that ended at midnight but it was well worth the time.  We all had a great day!  I hope next years Ball is as good as this years was.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ashley turned 28!

We have been working really hard on getting the house straighten out and trying to balance having fun.  Shortly after the girls arrival, Ashley was able to celebrate her birthday!  She went on a whale watching cruise, it was something she had always wanted to do.  She had a great time.

After the cruise, we went to a local Thai restaurant in Hallowell for her birthday dinner.  I made her a cookie cake for dessert.  It was a low key birthday but we have been pretty busy.

My computer is on its way out.  Sadly, this is a bad time for it to happen because it is hard to rationalize buying a new PC when we also need more insulation for the coming Maine winter.  I have been trying my best to get by with it.  It has been reformatted and it is somewhat improved.  I am trying to use a new photo editing program as well.  New software takes some getting used to and going through all the photos I have taken since the move is going to require some serious time.