High Hopes for a Fruitful Summer

Our plum tree has blossomed and if every flower turns into a plum — well, let’s just say I’ll be happier than Little Jack Horner!

Tiny little bees were buzzing around the tree all day yesterday, pollinating away. Keeping my fingers crossed that the unpredictable Michigan weather doesn’t blast us one last time with winter’s rage.

For now, enjoying the beauty of spring, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

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Blogging Secretary Update

It has been one week since I started using the voice recognition software on my computer to make blog posts and it’s been an interesting week. I’ve learned a lot about using the software, the glitches involved, and even more about myself.

First I’ve learned I can really talk a lot about nothing! The first time I turned on the voice recognition software and started dictating a blog post, within 30 minutes I had four type-written pages of dictation. This transformed into the beginnings of four separate blog posts and I wasn’t even close to being done. I continued to talk as I made dinner and by the time dinner was served, I had the makings for nearly six more blog posts. So far this first round of dictation has resulted in three posts directly from the dictation and three additional posts dictated based on the posts I had done. And I still have dictation to review and edit. Yet, based on what I actually dictated, there should have been enough to fill 20 blog posts. Instead there was a ton of garbage. Boy I have a lot of hot air in me!

Next I’d have to say that dictating is hard. It’s not like you’re addressing an individual or anything like that. You’re basically talking to yourself. Because of that, there seems to be a lot of times when what I’m saying is choppy and not very clear. This can be resolved in the editing process but so often while I’m dictating it’s difficult to know what to say out loud. It’s amazing how much easier it is to think what I want to say than to actually say it out loud.

Further, I’ve learned that talking into the computer is one thing, but making what you have said readable is something totally different. When I put blog posts together in my mind everything seems so cut and dry and perfect. When I started dictating it felt like I had to force the words out and a lot of times I just stammered or stuttered. Even though I thought I had everything clear in my head as to what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t spit it out in a way that was pretty. Plus I’ve noticed I use a lot of words when I’m talking that I would never use when I’m writing. So talking and writing are very different animals.

I’ve also learned that when I do finally get the juices flowing and get on a dictation roll, I need to be sure to stay focused on the subject I want to dictate about. A lot of times I find I go off on a tangent and all of that just ends up getting deleted in the long run. Plus, occasionally the voice recognition software shuts off for no apparent reason. And this must be one of those “Murphy’s Laws,” but it only seems to shut off when I finally get back to talking about what I should be talking about not all the jibber-jabber that ends up deleted. There are definitely glitches to be worked out but it is still a workable endeavor.

Finally, I’ve learned that dictating a recipe isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I thought I could just list off the ingredients and then dictate the step by step, but the dictation software that I’m using doesn’t put in bullets or number formatting. Knowing this just means I read the list of ingredients needed in paragraph form and then copy and paste it into my recipe template. Still, in a perfect world the software would be able to do this. I know that there are softwares out that have this option, but they cost money. The one I’m using is free, so I really have no right to complain.

Overall I’d have to say this has been a very good experience and it is something I plan to continue to do. I have decided however I do not like doing it when Hubby is around. He can be rather infuriating with his interruptions and making fun of me talking to myself, but I know it’s just because he’s trying to get a little attention. Actually this is probably a good sign. It proves he’s not sick of me yet. Spending 24/7 together for the past year has been wonderful, although challenging at times. The fact that when I finally take a few minutes to do something solely for “me” and he feels a bit insecure and displays this through his actions, well, I think I can cut him a little slack.

So if you’d like to check out my posts that I made last week and today, head on over to Simply Grateful Cooking and check out my recent posts or simply click on the links that I provided below.

As much as I like the speech recognition software, I do have to say I really wish they would come out with something for “thought recognition.” Because although I use the voice recognition while I’m cooking which was one of the times I found myself thinking about making blog posts but was too busy to do them, I can’t use this during the only other spare time I have – while showering in the morning. I don’t think they have a headset and computer that’s waterproof, so for now it’s going to have to be while I’m cooking or if I can find a spare moment when hubby has left the house.

At any rate it’s just another challenge and hopefully this new trick of the trade will enable me to get back to blogging more and for this I am – Simply Grateful.


A Secretary for Blogging

One of the reasons that my blogging has been so sporadic and pretty much non-existent for at least the past six months is that I can’t find the time to sit down and type them up. I’ve taken pictures of tons of things that I’ve wanted to do blog post on, I’ve kept lists of what I wanted to do blog post on, and I have all of the recipes organized for blog posts that I want to do, still there have been so few blog posts that I dare say I can’t even call myself a blogger any longer.

At today’s date, I have more than 300 new recipes that I have pictures of and have tested that I want to do blog posts on that I have yet to do any work on other than organizing it. It is frustrating that I want to do all of these things and yet each week I continue to work on new recipes thus digging myself further and further into a hole. For months now I have complained, “I need a secretary!”

Well I don’t really think the “secretary” thing is going to happen, being a stay-at-home mom/wife and all. It’s hard to believe I’d ever be able to afford such a luxury. However, the thought prevails.

A few nights ago, as I sat stewing because I wasn’t blogging as I sat exhausted on the couch after another day in the homemaking trenches, I began to wonder where in my busy day could I possibly fit blogging. The only time I could come up with was while I’m in the kitchen cooking. Honestly, that’s when I’m thinking about doing blog posts anyhow. That’s when I write out blog posts in my head. So what if there were some way I could actually put my thoughts down somehow while I was cooking. If I could do this, then maybe I could actually get some blog posts done.

These thoughts brought to mind a software I used to use for journaling. Hubby bought me a software called Dragon. It was a voice recognition software. I used it for years and I enjoyed the freedom it gave me, but when my computer crashed and because I had not printed off my journaling or backed up my computer, and therefore lost months worth of journaling, I was completely devastated and stop journaling on the computer and using my Dragon.

That was several years and several computers ago. When I pulled out my Dragon software to see if I could install it on my new computers, I found my current operating systems didn’t work with it and to buy it again would cost around $75. Now that’s not a huge sum, but at the same time I can’t really justify buying voice recognition software just so I can blog. Hubby would definitely support it, but I would feel guilty.

Looking for another option I went online, did some research, and found a few options for free voice recognition software. One was already installed on my computer from Windows. I tried the program, but it was awful. It didn’t recognize the majority of what I said and it didn’t follow commands. It was very basic and not worth the effort.

The second option was through Google Chrome. Since I use Chrome on my computer all I had to do was open a Google Doc, hit the mic button and start talking. It worked far better than the Windows voice recognition software. As I explored Google Docs, I found there were add-ons that could be used to improve various aspects of the Google program. There I found another speech recognition program to add on to the Google Docs that was free. I installed it ,opened it up, and started talking.

Viola! It was like night and day. Everything I said, it typed. There was no punctuation, but for now I’m not concerned. I figure once I get everything down on paper all I have to do is go back and put in punctuation, paragraphs where I want them, and I’m done. I really hope this works. Although it’s only been one day since I began using Google Docs and the Google speech recognition, already I have four blog posts ready for editing. Even this little blurb was dictated into my headset and it took about 30 minutes to edit.

I’m not really sure how this is going to turn out but the more I use the software, the easier it should get. If this does turn out the way I’m really hoping it does, and I’m really really really hoping it does, this could mean I come back to blogging and it could mean getting back to journaling. It’s amazing how having Hubby home 24/7 takes up so much of my time. It seems like half of the day is spent just with him and I don’t even know what we’re doing but it takes time. I’m not complaining though. I have missed him for far too long, so I’m not going to look this gift horse in the mouth. But if I can utilize the time spent just standing around, cooking by myself and simply just talk my posts into the computer, this could be the beginning of something great.

The wonder of technology! I’ve often thought technology is a scourge on society, at least in some circumstances; now I’m not so sure, at least not in this particular instance, and for this I am – Simply Grateful.

 

6-Month Hiatus

It’s been a long while! Six months and a day since my last post here at Simply Grateful Housewife and even now writing is not going to again be part of my normal routine.

So much has happened in the past 6 months, but not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about blogging. I have piles of recipes and post ideas ready for the writing, but time just escapes me. When Hubby retired ten months ago I never dreamed that so many things that filled my days would suddenly become things of the past. It’s not that I don’t want to do them anymore, but for the moment I don’t NEED them as I used to.

Blogging used to be more of an escape for me. It filled in the long hours I spent alone — or at least without the company of my Hubby. Seeing him 16 hours a week for nearly two years and not much more than that for the twenty or so years prior to that, I was always looking for things to fill my time. Crafting, scrapbooking, writing, journaling, cooking, canning, blogging, and then gardening were just a few of the things I took up. Through the years I got burned out doing several of them, but the last batch of time-fillers I had chosen are still high on my list of things I want to do, it’s just that now isn’t their time.

Now my days are spent enjoying the company of a husband that I never truly got to know. It’s amazing how I could have been married to this person for 24 years  and am just now beginning to really know him.  Spending 24/7 with him for ten months is bound to give you a bit more insight into a person.

For better or worse! Hubby has brought this up many times and always concludes it with, “We’ve did the worse part for the past 23 years, so how about trying for the better part now!” Sounds like a plan.

We’ve taken day trips, seen parts of Michigan that we’ve never seen, done things we’ve never done, and spent days just sitting together doing absolutely nothing and yet we’re not bored. At first I thought I’d want to do all the things I thought I was missing out on. Now I’m just happy to spend a quiet morning with him sitting in front of the computer drinking coffee and me putzing around the house. Just having him home is enough to fulfill me.

This too shall pass!

Maybe.

I’m not going to expect this honeymoon phase to last forever and I can’t say honestly that there haven’t been days when he’s gotten on my nerves and I have to run up to the store to escape, but when I think back about all the time we lost and will never get back, I think I’ll take being with him rather than without him.

I’m always surprised to see how many visitors I receive each day on my blog and want to thank all of you for stopping by. I know as Hubby and I get more used to being together I’ll be able to return to blogging and do look forward to it. I miss the blogging but at the same time I don’t want to take time to do something so completely selfish — not now. Eventually the day will come when I’ll be able to split my time between “making up for lost time with Hubby” and doing the things that I enjoy doing by myself, but for now the only thing I want to fill my time is Hubby. That being said, who’s to say that day won’t come next week or even tomorrow?

At the moment Hubby is sitting in the office, in front of the computer, drinking coffee. I’m sitting on the couch, with Bell between my legs sleeping, and blogging. Not a bad way to spend the evening, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Relief From The Heat!

Todays Weather:

75 degrees, mostly cloudy, winds 10 – 15 mph, and absolutely no humidity!

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday it was 95 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, no wind, and humidity about 300% (okay, that last part was a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like 300%).

Finally a day I could spend in the garden and not worry about heat stroke, sun poisoning, or dehydration and I took full advantage of it. I cleaned up the zucchini (check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener Taming My Zucchini), pruned all 72 of my pepper plants, clipped more of the cucumber vines to the A-frame, and weeded.

The best part of the day though was being able to harvest my first 6 zucchini and first 3 Romanian Bell peppers!

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Last year I harvest more than 1,000 peppers from the garden with less than half of the plants I have now. I wonder if I can top that?

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to start getting warmer again, but still bearable. Next week…well that’s another story. 90’s all week and humidity again. Oh well, at least the garden will enjoy it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Planning Ahead Pays Off

Back in March when it was too cold to garden and Hubby had just begun his experiment in retirement, I spent three days in the kitchen (while Hubby was settling in to his new spot in the office) canning bags of beans I’d accumulated from grocery store sales. I canned pinto, Great Northern, navy, and new to my bean canning roster — Garbanzo beans (chickpeas). I think in the end I ended up with somewhere around 70 jars (varying sizes) of beans.

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For months now I have enjoyed using these beans in various recipes and can’t say enough about how nice it is to use home-canned beans right from the pantry whenever I want. I’ve especially enjoyed making Hummus with the garbanzo beans.

Today I made a batch of baked beans. It’s actually the second batch I’ve made this year, but although I took pictures of the first batch I neither did a post nor did I seem to find it necessary to save the recipe. I know we liked it, but I can’t cry over spilt milk. So this morning I spent several hours reviewing recipes, choosing ingredients, and then making a batch of quick, saucy beans.

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For the entire story and recipe check out my latest post at Simply Grateful Cooking for Saucy Homemade Baked Beans. These turned out excellent. It’s funny though, when I look back at the pictures of the ingredients I used for the first batch of beans I made, they look very different from the ones I used this time. I wouldn’t be surprised if I decide to continue my experiment with baked beans because there is always room for improvement.

Losing my first recipe could be considered a bad thing, but at least I found another one that everyone liked and got to experiment with some different ingredients, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Some Crops Aren’t Worth A Hill Of Beans

It took me several years to get a single bean plant to grow in my garden. To my delight last year not just one plant grew, but an entire garden of them sprouted, flourished and produced beans for months. We had more beans from our plants than we could eat or give away. I canned them, froze them, ate them, and when we finally couldn’t find another thing to do with them, I looked into how to dry them.

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Being the frugal gardener that I want to be, I couldn’t let a single bean go to waste. For months I let the beans sit on the plants undisturbed and at the end of October I harvested all the dry pods. Although my efforts were rewarded, they were not rewarded as well as I would have liked.

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Although I’d like to grow as much of our food as possible, for a suburban housewife this is one crop that isn’t worth the effort. That is at least not for the purpose of harvesting dry beans.

I love having had the success last year with our beans, but I am also very content this year that my bean crop failed, and for this I am — Simply Grateful. I know that must sound wrong, but check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener To Bean Or Not To Bean for the whole story.

The Best Remedy for a Summer Cold

Summer colds are the worst! Not that a cold at any time is any fun but having one when it’s hot and humid just somehow makes a stuffy nose, aching body, and fever worse.

Every June and then again sometime in December I get a cold. It’s not really a cold, it’s a sinus infection, but it has all the wonderful symptoms of a cold just lasting longer. The one in December isn’t as bad, or at least it doesn’t seem as bad because there doesn’t seem to be as much a demand on my time then. In June however there is so much to do outside with the garden and inside with painting projects and other home improvements that get put off until the weather is nice that being down for even a day puts me behind.

One of the best remedies for a summer, or any cold is hot soup and fresh bread. I know you might think that a hot bowl of soup on a 90 degree day isn’t comforting, but for some reason no matter how hot it is outside, that hot soup coating my throat when I’m not feeling good, picks up my spirits right away. This is where planning ahead really comes in handy.

Last fall when I was canning all the wonderful tomatoes from the garden, I managed to make two large batches of Tomato Soup and freeze it for just such an occasion. This meant all I needed to do was defrost a couple of bottles, make a loaf of bread (check out my latest post at Simply Grateful Cooking for the absolute best Gougere Bread recipe), and enjoy.

Does it get any better than that? Homemade soup and I didn’t have to do anything other than heat it up. I am definitely going to look into freezing more soup bases this year, as long as I can find the space.

Being sick is awful but having dinner done in the freezer makes it a lot more tolerable, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

The Year of the Tomato — NOT!

The color of my thumb is truly in question this summer. You know the old saying, “If you didn’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all?” Well that is my gardening, specifically tomato gardening life this year.

From prematurely transplanting seedlings and killing them all to not hardening the second planting of seedlings off before putting in the garden to dealing with sun scald and wind damage — things just couldn’t get any worse. Or so I thought.

The latest in my tomato garden saga is tomato leaf curl. What fun! Check out my latest post at Simply Grateful Gardener Tomato Leaf Curl Quandary.

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I can’t tell if I’m watering too much, too little, or with my luck it’s probably a combination of the two and now I’m left trying to sort out when to water and how much.

What’s left? Early blight, tomato worms, hurricane, wild-fire, earth quake?

Well I say, BRING IT ON! This has definitely been a challenging year for growing these supposedly easy plants, but with challenge comes new-found knowledge which hopefully means next year I can rise above all this and have a true Year of the Tomato.

For now I’ll keep struggling away until every last plant either produces fruit or withers and dies. In the end I’m going to be the foremost expert on what not to do when growing tomatoes, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

It’s Not Too Hot To Cook

I cannot believe the weather we are having. It has been so hot and dry this spring/summer that even the lowest parts of our property are cracking from lack of moisture. This has never happened before, not in the 23 years we have lived here.

My mornings and/or evenings are spent watering the gardens so they don’t shrivel up and die, and my afternoons are spent hiding out in the house out of the heat and humidity. My rain barrels have been empty for over a month, which goes to show how dry it’s been. I think we’ve had one day rain when I didn’t have to actually water. Otherwise there’s been a shower or two, but beyond that — nothing!

The only good thing about being in the house is that I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen working on new recipes, organizing recipes I’ve photographed for blog posts, and trying very hard to actually sit down and write a blog post. Where does the time go? I’ve given up trying to answer that.

Anyway, I finally figured out that since January I have photographed more than 70 new recipes I’ve worked on and HAVE NOT done blog posts on them! Playing catch-up is so out of the question that I don’t know what I’m going to do. Still, I refuse to admit defeat, so today I posted on Simply Grateful Cooking yet another new recipe I made, Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls With Daly Sauce. Of course it was on a recipe I made today, but it also included a sauce that I’ve wanted to share since August of last year. A little old with the new, progress at any rate.

Strawberry season opened up a few weeks ago and I did get out and pick about 20 pounds, so hopefully recipes will soon follow.

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For now, I’m waiting for the sun to go down enough for me to brave the heat and check on the gardens, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.