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    7 Quick Takes

    January 31, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
    — 1 —

    Are you trying to incorporate more vegetables into your diet? Lately, I’ve fallen back into a habit that I had maintained for a long while after we finished GAPS, but then lost when spaghetti squash wasn’t available for a while. Anyhow, I have a homemade meat spaghetti sauce that I love, but rarely make because serving it over pasta of any kind makes me sluggish. What I forgot is that it is just fabulous over spaghetti squash.

    For the perfect spaghetti squash “noodles,” cut your squash in half, scoop out the insides {like you would a pumpkin}, and put the halves {cut sides UP} into a covered dish filled with about a quarter inch of water. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. You want it to still be a bit stiff when the time is up because that is how you’ll get that “noodle” effect.

    — 2 —

    Last week, I modified my normal meat spaghetti sauce and started calling it “winter sauce.” Son E. was cleaning out his winter garden, and I ended up with a ton of miniature broccoli and cauliflower heads {he has trouble getting them to get very big before they want to flower}. We grated a lot of both, plus a few carrots, into the sauce, and…it tasted great! It was the perfect way to use of the vegetables when I hadn’t anticipated them during my menu planning on Monday.

    We like broccoli and cauliflower, but not on its own. We put it into things. I love that I’ve discovered more dishes in which we like it, plus the children love any excuse to use my Salad Shooter to grate vegetables for me, so it’s a win-win situation.

    — 3 —

    Every once in a while, I get a chance to see our life through someone else’s eyes. Our own lives are always “normal” to us, so getting outside of that perspective can be a shock to the system. In this case, we had a group of contractors meeting out back to discuss the mother-in-law quarters we are building. My four children were out there, too, both spying on these men as well as playing or working, depending on the child. Two goats were chewing their cud on the patio, staring at the group. A small flock of ducks squawked and ran away from something that frightened them. And then? Then, a lop-eared rabbit went running past, likely trying to escape our property while no one was looking.

    These guys must think we’re nuts! I have it on good authority that they are already calling us “The Goat House.”

    — 4 —

    I changed the comments system here on the blog! Some of you probably already noticed this. The results of my short little comments survey revealed that, if you are using a Mac product, the comments are intermittent at best, and if you’re on an iPad, chances are you can’t comment at all. Well, that’s no good! So, I installed Intense Debate, and the nice thing is that it is only on new posts, which means none of the old comments were lost.

    If you want to know the benefits of ID, you can see Pam Barnhill’s little tutorial, which basically explains why it’s so great. I think my favorite plugin is CommentLuv, meaning it’ll tell anyone reading your comment what you last post was on your own blog.

    — 5 —

    One of my geriatric ducks started laying eggs again. This was a nice surprised, as I had reconciled myself to a flock of freeloaders. She didn’t just lay one egg, which is what I first assumed. Nope. She’s laying half a dozen eggs per week! Now that is exciting.

    — 6 —

    Guess who came to my house for dinner this week? Michele White, from Preschoolers and Peace…plus a couple of her sweet children. She was only here for about an hour, having dropped by on her way home, but still it was a delight to meet her. She is just as wonderful as I’d imagined.

    — 7 —

    I thought, while we’re building our mother-in-law quarters, I’d include one photo a week, a view from my back sliding glass door. It’ll be fun to document the progress, and the change in my view. This isn’t looking straight out, mind you. It’s me looking over to the right. Our property is of the pie-piece-shaped variety. Our orchard is basically a triangle. By putting the guest house off to the right and close to the fence, we were able to minimize the footprint in terms of how much of the yard it actually took up. We had ten-foot-deep beds on the edges, so we’re losing those, but saving grass {important, since it’s planted in pasture}. We’re also preserving the view from the dining room out all the way to the orchard. Someone early on had suggested putting it off to the left because it “made sense” in terms of where the entrance is, but all I could think was that I’d never see my beautiful sunset peach tree from the dining room, and that was not acceptable!

    This way, when I look straight out, it’ll still have that long, spacious feel that made us fall in love with this property in the first place.

    Another upshot is the the guest house will block the light from one of our neighbors behind us who insist on leaving flood lights on {for their puppy?} all. night. long.

    Anyhow, this week, they did the trenching:

    When our contractor said that “the trencher” was coming, I thought I knew what to expect. After all, we’d rented a Ditch Witch years ago when we put in our sprinklers. But this? This was basically a bulldozer with a man-sized wheel on it that moved like a mill wheel. On the wheel were little buckets with teeth, and lots of them. Each one dug up a bucket of earth, and then there was a piece of metal that pushed the earth to the side.

    The trenches are three feet deep!

    It is so interesting to watch this process up close.

    And that is all for this Friday. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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