Earthworm Living


First Thing in the Morning
August 13, 2013, 8:12 am
Filed under: Exercise, Outside, outside play, walking

First thing in the morning…

“First thing in the morning, before you meet or greet anyone, remember to greet all of nature, all visible and invisible creatures. Say to them: “I am grateful for your work, I love you and want to be in harmony with you!” At this very moment, in response to your greeting, all of nature will open to you and send you energy for the entire day.”

~ Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

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I think you can probably tell by how looooooong my shadow is in the pic that this is at sunrise. This was taken recently on a beautiful morning out on the walking trail while I was telling nature how much I appreciate it! …and exercising! 🙂



Amplify a Phone’s Speakers
June 30, 2013, 6:42 pm
Filed under: outside play, Tech, yard

Amplify a Phone’s Speakers

While outside today doing yard-work I wanted to play some music from my phone. Now, my phone has a pretty good built in speaker, but out in the yard that speaker can be over-powered by the road, neighbors, and distance. 

So I found a cute flower pot I had sitting around empty. After knocking out the remaining dirt I placed my phone inside the flower pot. I should probably note that the speakers should be facing the base of the flower pot. This allows the music to bounce off the pottery sides of the pot and exit the pot amplified. Easy peasy!

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My flower pot has 2 drainage holes in the bottom. I’m sure I was losing some of my ability to amplify thru those holes, and maybe next time I’ll consider covering them, but it still worked well!



Bat Box
June 29, 2013, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Outside, outside play, yard

Bat Box

Our backyard has such a bad mosquito problem. People have said that it’s because we have lots of mature trees back there. I’ve often blamed our neighbors to the back for letting water stand in large puddles in the low spots in their yard. We’ve even gone back there several times over the years to maintain little drainage channels we had dug for them. Nothing seems to help. I hate to use DEET on us, but I know it’s the only thing that REALLY works.

I, personally, skip the poison and the backyard opting to suffer any mosquito bites I will get while in the front yard. I worked as a scorekeeper at our local ballpark for years as a teenager. So I learned early on that if I could avoid scratching them, the itch would dissipate within 5-10 mins of being bitten. Not only that, there wouldn’t be a welt or bump from the bite.

However, I want to enjoy our backyard without being coated in poison or worrying about getting bit a million and twelve times.  Did you know that bats eat a lot of mosquitoes each night?! I didn’t realize either! So I looked up plans for homemade bat boxes, but being impatient and wanting to get going on a potential solution immediately I also bought one. It’s pretty basic, but if bats house in it that will be fantastic!

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There’s an old power pole on our property line next to the backyard that was just begging to have a bat box. The instructions say it could take up to a year and a half for bats to make a home in it. I’m taking the “build it and they will come” approach. 🙂

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So it won’t be immediate gratification, and may not even be helpful for this summer, but hopefully we’ll be enjoying our backyard more by the end of next summer.

I’m thinking I need to add a couple more…just in case.



Bike Maintenance
April 8, 2013, 6:44 pm
Filed under: outside play, rehabilitate, Repairs

Bike Maintenance

In our family we have a tendency to repair rather than replace our things. Which leads others to offer us their old and or broken things. Since we don’t like to waste and have repair skills, we usually accept their old and broken things. (which is part of why I have too little space in my house and sheds, yes, more than one shed.)

A friend who has 3 sons all within a year of each other (twins and a singleton) passed down their 3 most recently outgrown bikes. Being the former bikes of 9-10 yr old boys you can imagine they’ve seen their days of wear and tear.

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We have this thing we do called frankensteining where we take the good/working parts from like items and put them all together to make one item that’s as best as it can be with the parts available. The bikes were no exception. First find the best frame with the best brakes attached. Then swap out parts so that it has the best seat, tires, chain, and handle grips from the three bikes.

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And after you’ve fixed what the kids did when they were “helping” you do the repairs, it’s ready to ride! A freshly rehabbed bike!



Adventures in Peeling Peaches
August 5, 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: canning, Cooking, u-pick

Adventures in Peeling Peaches

Last weekend and this weekend I went to a U-Pick orchard that’s nearby and picked a ton of peaches. Ok, not a ton, but it seems like it when I’m committed to preserving all of them before they spoil. Last weekend it was about 36 pounds of a white peach variety called Collins White. This weekend it was about 44 lbs of a yellow peach variety called Encore. 80 lbs of peaches! Just what exactly was I thinking!?!?

I have yet to fully determine why, but all peach canning recipes call for peeling the peaches. This goes against my sensibilities since I don’t peel raw peaches when I eat them and my mom always taught me that the most fiber and lots of nutrients was in the skin. Now my husband and I have had the great skin struggle for the last 17.5 years. He likes things peeled; I don’t. Back to the peeled peaches situation. All I have been able to determine is that maybe the skins will make your canned peaches taste bitter, but I’m not even certain this is the real reason for peeling peaches before canning. Nonetheless, I’m peeling these peaches and trying to act like the husband didn’t win the great skin debate…after all, I’m just following a recipe as opposed to doing what he wanted. LOL!

The instructions for easily peeling peaches is all over the place. Cookbooks, canning recipes, the internet, etc. It sounds like a breeze on paper. ON PAPER! It has a definite learning curve. I thought it would be a breeze. After 2 full weekends of working on it, I am starting to get a system.

How to peel a peach (traditional instructions):
Drop peach into boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Immediately move it to ice water. Slip peel off.

Sounds easy right?!?!

Eh, I found there was more to it than just that. When it says boiling water they mean a rolling boil. Not a simmer. Not an almost rolling boil. Make sure the WHOLE peach is covered with water. If a little edge is exposed the skin won’t slip off and you will be using a knife for that spot. When they say ice water they don’t mean cold water. It needs to be serious ice water and changed out after every couple of peaches so it stays ice cold. Finally, the peach shouldn’t stay in the ice water until it’s cooled off. It needs to be in there maybe 5 seconds so it’s just cool enough to touch. If you do all these things the right way the skin might even slip off while you’re trying to pick it up out of the ice water. Otherwise, you’re going to be cutting off a lot of skin and losing a lot of flesh in the process.

One extra thing I am doing is cutting the peach in half before I slip the skin off. Having skin on it still makes it easier to grip when cutting. I was having the hardest time cutting them once they were skinless and slippery.

Enjoy your skinless/peeled peaches!



Homemade Peach Fried Pies
July 26, 2012, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Cooking, u-pick

Homemade Peach Fried Pies

I know that fried pies are not the most healthy of foods, but I had a craving and needed it quenched! I started with this recipe on allrecipes http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Apricot-and-Peach-Fried-Pies/

A screenshot of the recipe:

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I really only used the part of the recipe that tells how to make the crust and then used pie filling for the insides. One batch I used canned pie filling and another batch I used a homemade concoction of freshly picked peaches from our local u-pick orchard. They both turned out great, but try finding canned pie filling that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors in it. It’s quite hard!

Of course, it wouldn’t be one of my concoctions if I didn’t go fiddling with the ingredients. So the shortening used was the trans-fat free organic version from Spectrum. Then since my family has so many lactose intolerant people we subbed Rice Dream Organic rice milk, original flavor, for the cow’s milk. It tasted normal and not weird like some might worry. LOL!

I rolled out the dough into circles using a homemade french rolling pin. Placed a blob of peach filling in the middle and closed it over. My preference was to leave the bottom crust hanging past the top crust so that the bottom could be wrapped up around the top edge and crimped. this seemed to keep the filling inside better.

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Then it’s time to cook them. I used canola oil (since it has a fairly high smoke temp to keep the carcinogens at bay) in my iron skillet. I’ll point out that it isn’t deep fried completely submersed in oil. It only takes a layer on the bottom. Probably no more than 1/4 inch of oil. It may take some trial and error to get the right temperature.

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When they’re nicely golden brown and you feel they look yummy, take them out and place them on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

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Once they’ve cooled enough to not burn your mouth with the pie filling they’re ready to eat! YUM!

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Build a Cedar Sandbox
May 28, 2012, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Crafts, Outside, outside play, yard

Build a Cedar Sandbox

I ran across the plans for a really cool sandbox that had this great lid that when closed made a neat roof for the sandbox and when it’s open it makes a bench for the kids to sit on.

Spring-boarding off of that design I sat down with my pencil, paper, ruler, and big ideas. Soon I had drawn up the design for our sandbox complete with measurements and supplies list.

We chose to use 1″ cedar as the box and pressure treated 2×4’s for the foundation. I know that pressure treated wood would have worked for the whole thing, but I don’t like the idea of my kiddos getting those pressure treated chemicals all over them.  So that leaves the moisture tolerant cedar. It’s not a cheap wood, but it’s not THAT outrageous.

Cutting the pieces and placing them into their general locations.

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More wood cutting and assembling. The base is done in the one below.

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Finished and ready for sand! We added the ropes to the base just in case we ever decided we needed to move it. It won’t go far filled with sand, but it will probably go a little bit….with a lot of muscle.

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Kiddos having tons of fun!

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Since it has no lid, we lay some spare wooden fence pickets across the top to keep it from being a giant litter box. LOL!




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