Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Savannah's having puppies!!

No, these puppies aren't mine. They're actually my parents', and they are the puppies of Savannah's full sister, Georgia. Ladies and gentlemen, I am super excited to announce that my dog, Lady Savannah of Cambridge (aka Savannah Pearle Nolan) is expecting! Brett is taking her to the vet today for the ultrasound so that we'll know how many puppies to expect. The daddy's name is Jake, and believe it or not, the two of them met at a Braves game in Atlanta! Back in June, Brett and I took Savannah and Chuck-Chuck to Bark at the Park, which is a special day at Turner Field when dogs are welcome. My dogs had so much fun eating treats, playing with other dogs, and of course cheering on their heroes (Savannah is partial to Jeffrey, while Chuck idolizes Brian McCann). And, yes, I know I'm one of those crazy dog people. 

Anyway, Jake is a beautiful dog. He is a bit bigger than Savannah, with that beautiful, blocky head so prized in Golden Retrievers. His coloring is a little darker than Savannah's, and he has a beautiful feathered coat. Jake's parents live in Atlanta, and Jake works as a certified therapy dog. He has an amazing disposition. We already have had several people inquire about the puppies for use as cadaver and bomb id dogs, as Jake is such an amazing worker. With the combination of Jake's discipline and Savannah's drive (especially in the water!), the puppies will surely be great as therapy dogs, hunting retrievers, sporting dogs, and especially family pets. 

Both Savannah and Jake are AKC registered Golden Retrievers with dysplasia-free hip certifications. Jake is elbow and eye certified as well. The puppies should be here mid-September, and be ready to go home in beginning-to-mid November- just in time for Christmas! If you're interested, let me know by commenting or through email. Savannah and the puppies will be in Clemson (not Warner Robins) and we will hopefully have Jake for a week or so when the puppies are ready to go, just in case you want to see him in person. For now, I will work on getting a picture of him up here. Here's my favorite picture of Chuck and Savannah together- this was actually taken at Bark at the Park:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tagged! Six things you might not know about me...

I thought I was done blogging for the day- until I checked out Jenny's blog! Since I am all caught up with both my housework and schoolwork (having had a productive day, as evidenced in my earlier blog), I am glad to comply :-)

Here we go...

1) I am OCD when it comes to getting up on time in the morning. I am such a routine person that I fear that a few minutes lost sleeping in will throw off my whole morning, then my whole day, etc. I actually set three alarms in the morning, and as my husband points out, double-check them multiple times to be sure they're set correctly! But to be fair, I do need to get up at the same time everyday to be sure my BBT is accurate for FAM charting purposes.

2) I am sort of glad that I work with mainly guys (yeah military!) As much as it kills me to admit it, there is definitely less drama. I am also glad that I wear a uniform to work- otherwise, who knows how long it would take me to get ready!

3) I may seem put together, but I have no clue what I want to do with the rest of my life. Midwifery, law school, full-time philanthropy, stay-at-home mom...who knows what I'll end up doing?

4) I have trouble pronouncing L words. If I'm not paying attention, I'll slip and say something like "Warren" instead of "Lauren." Super embarrassing, I know. 

5) I am really weird about running out of stuff. As soon as a bottle of something I use daily runs low, I'm out buying another. This means that my bathroom is in a constant state of clutter, despite my best efforts. I am extremely loyal to my particular products as well. In fact, I have bought the exact same planner for 5 or 6 years running. Ridiculous.

6) I spend a lot of money on my hair. My husband still does not know how much. I think he prefers it that way!

Last-minute preserving.

As I get ready to head out on my "desert adventure," which sounds much more exciting than it really is, I came to the realization that I had plenty of veggies in the garden that I needed to use up before I leave. So, what do you do with loads of green tomatoes? Make green tomato pickles! Although I don't have any pictures of the pickles I canned, I am really pleased with how they look, and I was lucky in that all the jars sealed properly. I cannot wait to come back home and try them out! Here is the recipe:

Dilled Green Tomato Pickles
yield about 6 pints

5 pounds small, firm green tomatoes
1/4 cup canning salt
3 1/2 cups vinegar
3 1/2 cups water
6 or 7 cloves garlic
6 or 7 heads fresh dill or 1/4 cup dill seeds
6 or 7 bay leaves
Wash tomatoes; drain. Core tomaotes; cut into halves or quarters. Combine salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Pack tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Add 1 clove of garlic, 1 head of dill (or 2 teaspoons dill seeds) an 1 bay leaf to each jar. Ladle hot liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

To take care of the mass quantities of jalapeno peppers, I decided to dry them. It's really simple to do! Just thread a need with a double length of thread, and string the peppers along it. Then hang them up and wait! Here is a picture of some peppers I started drying a couple weeks ago. They will be great in chilies and sauces later.  

Finally, I mentioned before the winter garden I put in last week. I cannot believe that the peas and beans are up already! You can also catch a glimpse of the tiny lettuce(s?) behind them. Take a look:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hummingbirds! (and book recommendations)

After months of mentioning how much I love my hummingbird visitors, I finally managed to capture some decent pictures of them. Since Brett was here this weekend I borrowed his camera and snapped more than a few pictures of my feathered friends. Here are a few:

I also want to mention a few books that I read recently that I think are amazing. The first is The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. You can read more about it here. Since I'm lazy, here is a summary of the book via Amazon (thanks, Amazon!): 
"The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery."
The best quote I have read to sum it up comes from Gail Hudson, one of the editors at Amazon, who writes, "Remembering women's earthy stories and passionate history is indeed the theme of this magnificent book. In fact, it's been said that The Red Tent is what the Bible might have been had it been written by God's daughters, instead of her sons."

Bottom line: I love, love, love this book! I borrowed it from the church library last week, but I will definitely be borrowing it to add to my own collection. 

Another book in the same vein is The Witch of Cologne. Although this book, which was written by Tobsha Learner, lacks the same biblical backbone that The Red Tent has, it carries the same theme throughout: the mysteries surrounding women, their gifts, and their relationships. It also has some really neat references to old-school midwifery practices. And we all know I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. I'm still finishing this one. 
Finally, Brett and I visited this new book store that just opened near us. It carries old and new books, and is organized in such a way that it's easy to find what you're looking for. For anyone reading this that is familiar with the area, it's located next to Thai Pepper, at the intersection of Russell Parkway and Carl Vinsson. Brett found some nerdy Star Wars (maybe Star Trek??) books he was looking for, while I contributed to my stash of kids' books. I love books and the memories I associate with the first (or maybe millionth time) I've read each one. In fact, I think books are so important that I am collecting a considerable number of them with the intent of having a large "library" established by the time I have kids. I want my *future* children to be surrounded by amazing books- I can think of few things that are more important to the intellectual development of children than books. Some of the books I picked up yesterday:
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Three books about Laura Ingalls Wilder, including a picture book (not to be confused with the Little House series, which of course I already have)
- Little Grown-Ups
- I Like it When...

What's your favorite children's book?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amish country.

I know I crack on Pennsylvania a lot. I mean A LOT. As in, I never could live there again, the cold kills me, the people (for the most part) are rude, etc. etc. However, as hesitant to admit it as I am, the Keystone State has some redeeming factors. The general lack of humidity in the summer, the fact that fire ants can't survive there, and the awesome soil that allows for growing all sorts of cool pumpkins, melons, etc. that don't grow well here in middle Georgia are a few of them. I also (on occasion) miss the landscape. My parents live in northwest PA; that's directly north of PIttsburgh, just east of Cleveland, and slightly south of Lake Erie and the New York border. The land is utterly beautiful there. Rolling hills are everywhere, and everything just seems so, well, green. Anyway, my hometown is tiny. It has (at last count) 3 traffic lights, 1 decent gas station, and numerous dairy isles (for you Southerners, as dairy isle is kind of like an independently-owned, smaller version of a Dairy Queen, but somehow a million times better). I graduated from high school with, like, 85 other people. As small as Cambridge Springs is, I didn't even grow up within the town's borders. I lived out in the country. Seriously. As in, we lived on a dirt road (gasp!), my parents had (have) a dairy farm, and for the longest time we had an address like this: RR3 Box 101, Cambridge Springs. RR, by the way, stands for "rural route." It was a sad day when we got a new address, one that complies with the 911 code (to make it easier for emergency services to find you). 29727 Hogback Road just doesn't sound as quaint.

One of the cool things about growing up where I did is that we had some, well, different neighbors. Several Old-Order Amish communities make their homes near us. I grew up familiar with the buggies that drove by, the bearded, plainly-dressed people who stopped to talk to my dad, and the barefoot children racing each other home from school (see post below), bonnet strings blowing back in the wind. Now, these aren't the kind of Amish that people normally think of, the kind that inhabit popular places like Lancaster, PA. The Amish that live near my parents are infinitely more strict in terms of plain living. We're talking lighting a lantern to walk through a woodstove-heated house, out through three feet of snow to use the outhouse in the middle of winter. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. I bet they probably have bedpans for those occasions.

One of the things I find most interesting about the Amish are their enormous families. As the oldest of seven children, I definitely have a big family, especially by today's standards. However, compared to Amish families, my family is very small. The family that lives closest to us, for example, is composed of a man, his wife, and their 17 children. That's considered normal. Being as extremely interested in midwifery as I am, I am dying to know about Amish birth traditions. I know for a fact that they practice home birth in nearly all situations. Once the neighbor lady, knowing my mom's background in both nursing and neonatal care, came and asked her to attend her delivery and help. My mom refused, for several reasons, one of which being that the woman said she was carrying twins. This leads me to believe that Amish women likely either practice unassisted birth, or are attended by female family members who aren't necessarily trained in midwifery. Another possibility is that there simply wasn't a midwife available. However, because the Amish community near our home is so big, that seems unlikely. Anyways, I will be keeping my ears and eyes open to learn more.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees.

I meant to write about what I had planned today (see entry below), but I ran across this trailer. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is an amazing book and I can't wait to see the movie. For those of you that don't know, Brett is studying honeybees for his master's work, and will be continuing that work at the PhD level at Georgia. Anyways, Brett told me that recently he met the beekeeper that worked on the set of the movie. The movie looks like it will be good- the casting seems right-on, anyways, but I still recommend that you read the book first. 9 times out of 10 the book is better (in my humble opinion, of course.) The Southern Gothic style has always been one of my favorites.

Interesting note: Sue Monk Kidd is from Georgia and currently lives somewhere in Charleston. For a while, though, she resided in the humble little town of Anderson, SC. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

I hate packing...

.......especially when it's for a long period of time! Sorry I haven't written in a while, but I'm crazy busy getting ready for an extended trip out of country, if you catch my drift. In between packing, doing last minute errands, and studying, I've been working on my winter garden. I figure that if I plant it now I will have even MORE to look forward to when I get home! Here's a list of what I either have already planted or will plant this week:

-sugar snap peas
-green beans
-lettuce (Bibb and a variety mix)
-greens (turnip, mustard, and collard)
-a few more tomatoes

And I'm hoping to obtain some garlic this week as well. The tomato "suckers" that I started are also ready to plant, and I moved most of my potted plants into the yard. Brett will take care of my Christmas cactus and the rest of my houseplants, and I will be moving my herbs indoors. I feel the worst about abandoning my hummingbirds. I have to refill the feeder every other day or so- that's how many visit! I love watching them :0) If I had an amazing camera I would take a cool picture of them for y'all. Although I was sad to tear out all my summer crops, I am grateful to live in a place that manages to squeeze two growing seasons into one year! 

In case you needed a laugh, here is a ridiculous picture of me from this weekend. I was busy cooking dessert, and was caught off guard. I have no shame.

Coming tomorrow: some pics from my family's home in Pennsylvania- including some Old Order Amish homes near us (don't worry- I respect the People enough not to take pictures of them- even if it is tempting sometimes.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

We got to meet Fingers!

For those of you who don't know, Brett and I are pretty crazy about Jimmy Buffett. So when we were in PA last week and I heard that Presque Isle's Parrothead Club was holding its Key West Phest, we jumped at the chance to go. Although we didn't get to see Club Trini (the name Jimmy's Coral Reefer Band assumes when he's not with them), we did get the awesome opportunity to see Greg "Fingers" Taylor play. Fingers is an AMAZING harmonica player and has graced a number of Jimmy's albums. The crowd was pretty thin, most likely due to the chilly, windy weather, which allowed us to get up close and personal with him. Fingers was even gracious enough to take a picture with us!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Headed off to PA....

So Brett and I are off to PA tomorrow for a family wedding. I am super excited to see everyone in my huge, crazy family! When we get back I will update with pictures of the wedding, my parents' dairy farm, etc. Praying that we have a safe flight....

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Getting ready for fall (already!)

I said I'd write back after I got some legitimate work done. Well, here I am, days later, still feeling unproductive. Wait- it's not that I haven't been busy. It's just that I am able to find a million things to keep me busy OTHER than the things I HAVE to do (i.e. homework.) For some reason I cannot find the energy to read for my class. Ever since I decided what I really want to do (i.e. midwife) I seem to have become physically and mentally unable to do work for my Master's. I know I have to finish my Master's before I can move on to something else, but it's so hard to focus! I am in dire need of motivation....

I (well, I should say Brett, his parents, and I) did manage to get a TON done around the house. While the guys finished building the new sunscreen for our back porch (which will help shade us from the ridiculous middle Georgia sun), we ladies were busy indoors.  My entire kitchen got rearranged, and now I have loads more room for storing all the kitchen items I have. The garage got cleaned out, and I managed to freeze about 8 quart bags of peaches. I learned that instead of using sugar syrup, you can substitute juice. The ascorbic acid in juice helps to prevent the fruit from browning. I bought a jug of organic, non-sugar-added apple juice and used that, so I'm excited to see how it will turn out. I'm betting we won't miss the extra sugar!  I also strung several jalapeno peppers to dry in the kitchen for use later. 

Today I canned nectarines. Brett was kind enough to pick a huge box of both peaches and nectarines, and although I bagged the peaches and froze them, I wanted to save some room in my freezer by canning the nectarines. I used a medium sugar syrup (1 cup of sugar for every 2 cups of water) and they look great. I can't wait to open a jar this winter and enjoy the taste of summer!

This week is going to be incredibly busy. On Wednesday Brett and I are headed to PA, so I have a lot to do between now and then. Besides working and forcing myself to do schoolwork, I plan on getting my garden ready for late summer/fall crops. I have already ripped out the early beans, many of the cucumbers, some of the butterfly garden flowers, and the zucchini and squash plants that are done producing. Now it's time to plant new beans, winter squash, carrots, lettuce, greens, and onions. I also want to try to find some gourds to try. Is anyone familiar with collecting seeds? I'm planning on doing that as well. Finally, Brett heard from a coworker (an avid gardener) about the process of cutting tomato "runners" and re-rooting and planting them. We decided to try it, and cut two suckers off and placed them in water. Hopefully they will produce as well as the plants we cut them from- those are taller than I am!