New Work, New Hours, New Life

This is the first week of my new job. Not commuting nearly three hours of the day, in addition to cutting my office time in half, has been a huge adjustment, in the very best way. Only two days in and I have a sense of peace, productivity, and rightness that I think I’ve been missing for some time.

I absolutely love my work at the food bank! I’m the outreach coordinator and the projects I have to start are thrilling, creative, and will connect me with such incredible people. I know I will be very busy in this role, but it feels like the right challenge for my skills and the perfect fit for my desire to make a difference collaborating in my community.

Aurelia started at a new school and will be there the three days a week I am in the office. It’s wonderful how well she adapts to new environments, though she is my serious darling and takes her time soaking in newness before drawing conclusions. So far, she loves her teacher and is warming up to the other kids and adults. I am grateful to have found another childcare with such respect and gentle regard for little ones. My parenting at home is going to have to adapt some because I’m used to only having Aurelia early mornings, after school each evening, and on weekends. This made our time together tightly packed and as fun and relaxing as possible. Now that I have so much time with her during the day, I need to try to create a routine the will allow for both of us to relax and play, but also clean, cook, work on the house, read, and garden. I need time to work at home and she needs a regular nap. Just the balance of these needs requires considerable planning and flexibility. I’ve long envied stay at home moms and now I have the chance to try to make it work at least part of the time. I honestly feel like I have the best of both worlds right now. Can you feel how happy I am?! Ah, the glow of the first week.

Here are some pictures from our time the last couple days.


at the local park.


baked potatoes, roasted elephant garlic, cheese, sour cream, bacon.


loaded baked potato, thyme marinated grilled steak, smashed garlic on country bread, broccoli salad. (dinner with family at grandpa’s birthday party.)


planting pumpkin starts in the garden.


baked potato soup – I pureed Aurelia’s portion in the blender per her preference. recipe below.

Leftover Baked Potato Soup
Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
4 large leftover baked potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions:
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion and garlic. Cook until they are translucent. Add the stock and stir to combine. Once the soup is back to a simmer, add potatoes, buttermilk, and sour cream. Add this mixture to the soup stirring constantly. Optional: Use a potato masher to lightly break up the potato pieces in the soup for a thicker, less brothy soup. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, ladle into bowls. I ate up a bowl and a half as is and wasn’t missing a thing, but it would be lovely with chives or cheese on top too, I’m sure.

 

a dozen pictures in a day

1. Aurelia has her mother’s allergies on top of cutting a few gigantic molars.  Her overnight fever over the latter gave us the gift of a whole day home together. But look at that poor face!

2. Trying to salvage some flowers in new planters. We spent a good part of the breezy morning outside. I drank coffee and read a bit while Aurelia played on a slide and with her wagon, moving toys and leaves around the yard.

3. When Aurelia went down for her nap, I made a coconut cake with a chocolate ganache and shaved coconut on top.

4. I also rushed to do my hair, my nails, and put on a face mask before she got up. It’s amazing what you learn to do in 2 hours!

5. Miss A wouldn’t eat much all day and only accepted bits of strawberries, a pickle, a cheese stick, and milk for lunch. Ah, well. We watched a bit of Dora while she did some watercolor paints and I made a broth and started dinner.

6. It wasn’t long before she was ready to help. Mixing curry spices with olive oil and vinegar.

7. Cauliflower tossed with the curry oil blend. Chopped all stem and florets for roasting. Saved leaves for later.

8. After roasting at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, added in a sauteed half onion and the reserved leaves, chopped, and tossed with lemon juice.

9. A local FFA chapter from Nyssa High School is raising Tilapia and selling them at the Red Apple grocery. These two cost less than $3 together. I still had to filet and scale them a bit, then stuffed them with lemon garlic butter and onion. Salted skins and sealed in foil parcels. Baked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then opened foil tops and broiled for 5 minutes to get some color on top.

10. Dinner, first course: curried cauliflower, roasted sweet potatoes, and grilled polenta.

11. Dinner, second course: baked whole tilapia

12. The end of our lovely day. Progress happening on my house. Today, the furnace people were there starting their work. Here you can see the back patio, and if you take a short leap of the imagination, you can see it done, with me in the garden, Aurelia following roaming chickens, something on the bbq, and our glasses of sun tea sweating by the swingset.

Chicken Coop

I really prefer farm animals of the four legged kind and can’t wait for my first cow, but chickens will be my first animals on Good Life Farm for the practical reason of needing eggs and the basic reciprocal relationship chickens have to the land and benefit of the farm as a whole. Keeping chickens seems to be on a trend lately for backyard or urban homesteaders, and while I think it’s awesome that people are able to bravely raise chickens in a variety of spaces, I am far more wary of the mess and work involved with the species. When I think of keeping poultry of any kind, I see stinky, dark, enclosed coops and cranky, aggressive chickens. That possibility makes me shudder. My solution is to have a brilliant coop that is bright, airy, and easy to clean.

I found a great article on “How to Build the Ultimate Chicken Coop” in Country Living and am buying the plans to this dreamy coop. I’m thinking that with the house scraps, extra shingles, and a few things from the local hardware store, I should be able to have this done and ready for my first chicken order next spring without spending the $1600 the folks in the article did. I don’t expect it to look quite as chic, but we’re not precious farming here. It’s the organization, protection, and accessibility that appeal to me most.

Great idea, don’t you think? We’ll see how it goes.

For more information on why you should try to source local farm eggs, read this excellent post by Kate at one of my favorite blogs, longest acres. A link to the longest acres homepage is on my Blogroll in the sidebar. If you have a favorite blog, send me the address and I’d love to check it out and hopefully add it to the growing Blogroll too.