**** WARNING: Some images may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. ****

Today there was a bit of an accident involving our washing machine, basement, and sump pump. Basically, the sump pump was unplugged by a member of our family and she forgot the plug it back in. Then, another member of our family decided to do a load of laundry. She didn’t know the sump pump was unplugged. As you may have guessed, there was a minor flood in our basement.

In order to clean it up, we had to get out a machine that we DSCF2067don’t really use a lot. This machine is like a vacuum cleaner, but also has the ability to suck up water that is on the ground.

As we were finishing drying up the basement rugs and floors with the Hoover SteamVac, we noticed that the machine was getting our rungs really clean. We also noticed how dirty the water coming out of it was. So we decided to bring it upstairs and clean our family room rug.

This is how it works: you put soapy water in a top compartment and start vacuuming. There is a button on the handle of the vacuum cleaner and this controls the water. When you push the button, water sprays out of the vacuum cleaner onto the floor. If you release the button, any water on the floor is sucked up and deposited in a bottom compartment. This function makes it very convenient for cleaning rugs and floors.

When we finished cleaning our family room rugs, we dumped out very dirty water. It was actually rather unappetizing, because the water was a a murky brown you’d expect to find in a mud puddle. In our defense, though, this rug is in the room that has a wood stove in it, and it is also gets the highest traffic than any other room in the house. We vacuum the rug frequently enough so it was a surprise to see how much dirt the steamvac got up.

We took a video of the steam cleaner in action, and also of the creek water that emerged from it. If you have dirty rugs, I would definitely consider renting or even buying some sort of steam cleaner. There’s no link to Amazon this time, as I couldn’t find the exact product. On a scale from one to ten, I would rate this product a 10, and my parents would rate it a 10 as well.

Living amongst other people as most of us must, we interact with each other on a daily basis even if it is just talking to the clerk at the grocery store check-out. There’s superficial chit-chat at parties, get-togethers, church, receptions, school, work, etc.

It is interesting for us to note the things one says which offend others. We have also noted that offenses usually happen between adults, not children. Apparently, according to our parents, it used to be common knowledge to steer clear of certain topics: politics, religion, and sex. As long as people never spoke about these topics, you could get along with just about everyone.

We have a couple of examples, though, of things which have offended adults in the past, and this without any politics, religion, or sex either.

“….every fooping summer…..” this is a silly word which we use in our family. It was invented by Niles and we hardly realize that it could be taken as a replacement for another word. It has just become habit for us to say it. Unfortunately, when my mother was speaking to a professing Christian woman, she let our family phrase slip out and a look of real horror appeared on the woman’s face. Too late, though, our mother could not take it back. Is saying “fooping” really that bad? We guess that to this woman, it definitely was.

Cutting down a few trees in our own yard – we once had some very rude neighbors. They would say things like this to us, “We don’t consider it our yard and your yard; we consider it one big yard.” Uh-huh. Affirmative. Well, our parents were thinning out some trees on our property because they were getting overcrowded and sick as they were planted too close together by the previous owner.  Our parents cut down every other tree. Big mistake. That was unacceptable to our neighbors as our yard was also their yard. It was always interesting to all of us that their yard was not our yard as well.

We sometimes tell the dentists that we don’t want x-rays and that we can get them next time – you’d think it was a criminal offense. We understand that dentists get sued and that this is what they are scared of. They certainly couldn’t care less if you get a cavity between your teeth – at least we’re pretty sure our dentist couldn’t care less. Besides, even if he did care, he wouldn’t get angry about the x-rays; he’d just talk to us. But come on, you sign a waver form and we get x-rays on every other visit. Not good enough. It is horrendous every time we suggest that we do not want them to take x-rays.

So it does seem like it is rather easy to offend people, adult people, and they usually let you know that you have caused them great discomfort. What ever happened to live-and-let-live and mind-your-own-business?

So what unpardonable sins have you caught people committing?

This year we planted beans from the survival kit our parents just had around. They are a kind of bush bean called Spike. We weren’t convinced any of these seeds were going to germinate, so instead of putting 2-3 seeds in holes spaced nicely down a row, we just sowed them down the row. Every 2-3 yards or so, we put in a couple of marigold plants too. We try to remember to plant marigolds amongst our beans to keep the bugs away and they work great.

Yesterday, we decided that it was time to start picking the beans because we had seen the day before that some were pretty big. When we started picking, we found that there were actually a ton of beans out there. After we were done picking, we had filled up a huge salad crisper. Needless to say, we didn’t eat all of them last night. We gave a bagful to one of our friends, we had them with supper, and our dad took the rest to work today for lunch. We harvested some more today too. It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten good beans like these so it’s very nice.

There are two basic reasons some of our past bean harvests have been less than exceptional. The first is that we have wild rabbits in our yard and they unfortunately demolish the bean plants if they discover them when they are just getting started. You can’t exactly trap a rabbit and we don’t always get to fencing our beans; therefore, no beans or not many beans.

The second reason is because bugs have eaten the leaves and nibbled on the beans making the plants both diseased and unappetizing. This will happen when we either forget or are too lazy to plant marigolds with the beans. Bugs that eat beans don’t like the way marigolds smells so they stay away. It really works; while we were picking, we only found about five bugs, only one of which was a Mexican Bean Beetle which would actually have been harmful to the bean plants. They look a little like Lady Bugs except its body is orange, not red. Like lady bugs, Mexican bean beetles also have black spots. We picked up the beetle when we found it and tried to feed it to a chicken, but surprisingly, it wouldn’t eat it.

Anyway, this type of bean is really good – it produces lots of beans and they taste very good. If you’re planting beans next year and you’ve had problems with Mexican bean beetles eating them, I would definitely suggest planting marigolds amongst your bean plants. Sure beats spraying some kind of poison on them.

SAM_5264Yesterday, while our mom was cleaning up the garden, she found a really weird looking caterpillar and told me to come get a picture of it. Upon looking it up, we thought it might be a yellow wooly bear caterpillar, but there were slight differences. We found that it was actually a milkweed tussock caterpillar, which we’ve never seen or even heard of before. The milkweed tussock moth we actually have seen, but the caterpillar is new to us.

Anyway, we took pictures of it and then a chicken came over to us. He looked at it and then walked away – apparently he didn’t like the way it looked.

That was pretty interesting to us since the chickens eat almost anything, including an occasional stinkbug. They even eat Japanese beetles. Anyway, this species of caterpillar looks really funny if you want to look it up. We’ll give you a picture, but there are some better pictures on the internet. Hope you like the picture!

by John

DSCF2060Blueberry season is almost over which is very good timing since the zucchinis are coming in now. Whenever we start getting zucchinis, we get so many that we basically have to eat zucchini in almost everything we eat. We make chocolate zucchini cake,  zucchini bread and muffins, sausage zucchini soup, zucchini pancakes, and steamed zucchini & onion open-faced sandwiches, but mainly, we make a ton of stir fried zucchini. Stir-fried in butter with just some Lawry’s garlic salt with parsley and pepper is how most of us like our zucchini cooked. Some family members also like chopped zucchini, tomato, and cheese  in their omelettes.

It is very rewarding to grow your own food and to make use of everything you grow, either by eating it or by storing it.

With zucchini, we like to get them when they are no more than 7 inches long. It they are longer than that, we usually just use them for breads and cakes.

For our open faced sandwiches, the smaller and more tender, the better. Six inches is a good size for a sandwich. You just slice your zucchini lengthwise about a 1/8″ and slice up some onions too. Then you steam them. Put the steamed zucchini and onion on sliced slightly toasted French bread. Season how you like it (salt, pepper, and basil for instance), top with a slice of cheese (we use Provolone), and then broil until cheese starts to get brown. Really good!

Next is our recipe for zucchini pancakes. We eat these with soy sauce & a little vinegar (oddly enough). These are a real treat for us and here is the recipe:

2 medium zucchini, grated
1 tsp salt
1 carrot, grated
2 T. minced onion
2 T. minced parsley
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. flour
dash pepper

In colander, mix zucchini & salt; let drain about 15 min, squeezing out excess liquid with back of spoon. Mix well-drained zucchini, carrot, onion, parsley, egg, flour & pepper. Drop by tablespoonfuls into 1/2 inch hot oil in skillet and fry until brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper.

Last, but definitely not least, here’s our soup recipe – it uses up a lot of zucchini unless you’ve let yours get too large. It’s better to use smaller zucchinis anyway. They hold up better in the soup and the texture is better and we think they taste better as well.

Zucchini sausage soup recipe:

1 lb hot Italian sausage
2 c. sliced celery
2, 28oz cans tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
1 c. chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried whole oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
6 small zucchini, cut into 1/4″ slices
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c. water
1 c. red wine

Cook sausage in Dutch oven until browned. Add celery and cook until tender; drain off drippings. Add next 8 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat, simmer 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

If you try any of these recipes, we hope you enjoy it :)