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Barre workout for my barre belles

Hey all! I promised my barre classes I would do a video for them so they can still do a barre workout at home while I am away.  Really I’m just posting here so it’s easy for them to find it!  But if you’ve never done barre before and you’re curious…check it out!

By the way, if you choose to follow along, I am not responsible or liable for any injury you may incur while performing this workout, so please use common sense to help you avoid injury and, if you need to, consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Homemade beef jerky

Field season is upon me this weekend! I’m traveling for three weeks–I’ve got two weeks’ worth of training and a week of wetland mapping verification in Idaho and Colorado.  I love field season–I enjoy working outside and traveling to new places and seeing new things and learning about different ecological systems.  It’s hard work, but it’s a kick.  There are days when I think, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” and also plenty of days when I think, “I don’t get paid enough to do this.” It’s a mixed bag some days, but I love my work.  The nice thing about my job is by the time field season is coming to an end I am usually over it and ready for some office work.  I spend the winter in the office mapping wetlands and doing data entry/QC, and whatever else I need to do.  Then by the end of winter I am jonesing to get outside and do field work again.  So it all works out.  And I usually have interesting stories from these field jaunts and fond memories of some really tough days from years past.  Plus some great photos to boot.  Speaking of photos, I’ll be documenting my summer on my new Instagram account, so if you want to follow my adventures you can check me out @thenomadicecologist.

With field season comes the challenge of finding food that will keep in hot, unrefrigerated conditions that is tasty and not junk food (fruits and veggies are still my friend even in the field).  One thing I decided I need in the field this summer is beefy jerky.  Let me be clear about something: I do not eat beef jerky from a grocery store.  In fact, I have not eaten beef in any form for probably 20+ years.  I have made my own jerky before, but it was of the venison variety.  I don’t have any venison so I did the next best thing and I bought some local Montana beef to make my jerky.  Want to know how I made it? Then watch the video below!  And I’ll see you in the field soon!

Urban Farmgal’s Future

Hello, friends! Big changes in my life, as described in the video below.  I’m excited about the possibilities, despite some sadness associated with these changes.

I am in the process of setting up an Instagram account and I need help picking out a moniker.  Here are a few ideas I have so far…feel free to chime in and offer different suggestions to help me figure out what my new online profile will be!

In no particular order of preference:

@thatfieldecologychick

@sassyfieldecologist

@badassbarrebabe

@tricorythodes (this is a genus of mayfly, which is featured in my storybook)

HELP ME!!  PLEEEEEEASE….I need other brains to help me decide.  Suggestions welcome!  The winning moniker may be used for other social media accounts eventually, so I want something I really like and identify with, because as described in the video, urban farmgal’s future is uncertain.

the drought is over

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post–things are hectic in my life right now, so there’s been no time for blogging. Field season fast approaches, and the blogs will be sparse for the foreseeable future.  But for today, a video that shows how I make my smoothies.  Fruit, yogurt and a few other special things make for a delicious, robust smoothie.  Check out the vid below!

Fluffernutter fudge–and they all say…”fluffer-what?”

I was late to the fluffernutter game, too.  I was probably in my mid-30s before I realized what ‘fluffernutter’ meant (and I’ve still never had a fluffernutter sandwich but I have had a fluffernutter milkshake and it was total yumma). I know, I know…

*turns bright shade of pink*

But (in my defense) for a lot of years I didn’t eat marshmallows because I was a vegetarian and I avoided the gelatin…and vegan marshmallows weren’t really a thing back in the day.  And I don’t even know if marshmallow fluff has gelatin in it or not–I don’t know that I’ve ever bought it to be honest.  I don’t always go for the vegan marshmallows because I have to go to a different grocery store to buy them and it’s not always convenient to make two stops when I’m grocery shopping…so I just suck it up and eat them anyway.  And enjoy it.

I’ve been on a peanut butter rice crispie treat kick lately (SO. GOOD.).  Hubby and I have demolished a couple of pans of those in recent weeks with no regrets.  And hubby likes peanut butter fudge.  I usually only make fudge during the holidays and this year I decided I was going to find a fluffernutter fudge recipe to try out.  A quick search on the Google was disappointing.  Most of them had WAYYYYYY more sugar than I wanted in my fudge.

And yes, I realize that fudge is like 70% sugar.  But I wanted to try for something different.  So I made it up myself.  On the fly, over the stove.  And you know what?  It’s pretty darn good!  The marshmallows help hold everything together and because they are in the neighborhood of, ohhhh….all sugar, you don’t have to add much additional sugar to the fudge (the powdered sugar added in my recipe is to help bring it together and make it solid). So I thought I’d share the recipe with you.  If you have a hankering for peanut butter fudge (and 15 minutes to spare) then you can make this fudge!  Here’s a video that shows you how!

Thanksgiving pie: cranberry orange cream pie…with a chocolate crust

Wow, this past week went by so quickly because I spent most of my days in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving.  Just like last year, I began my preparations on Sunday and did a little bit of work every day to ensure that by Thanksgiving morning I wasn’t in a crazed, chaotic rush to get everything finished by dinnertime.  And it worked!

One of my favorite pies is this cranberry orange cream pie that I modified from a recipe from Southern Living magazine years and years ago.  I last made it maybe 3 years ago and when I was planning my Thanksgiving menu earlier this month (listen for me to rattle it off on the video), I knew it was time for this pie to make another appearance.  I love this pie so much that I knew I had to share it!  You really need to make a pie.  So why not make this one?  Find the recipe here.

 

Fall is time for…

Plenty of things:  knitting, drinking tea, coloring in front of the fire, drinking tea, reading in front of the fire, drinking more tea, planning my Thanksgiving menu (I get immense joy out of planning my menu and then executing it!!), putting the garden away for the winter, choreographing barre routines, working on my cottage food license…so many things to choose from!!

I have been getting some knitting and sewing done this month–I finished two projects that had been in limbo for a few weeks while I found time to pick up some zippers that were the correct length and color-coordinated with my fabric.  Here are the finished products:

These small bags are sized to hold a Kindle Fire, so they are roughly 5 inches tall by 9 inches wide. The purple one was for a friend–she is one of my barre regulars and I just adore her.  The green one was a donation to a silent auction for a meeting I attended last month. I started another one last weekend that does not yet have a final recipient assigned to it yet.  One of my favorite winter activities is to knit in front of the wood stove in the evenings or on those nasty days when it is snowing hard and I have no desire to go outside.  Sometimes I exhaust myself and end up taking a nap, knitting needles and runaway balls of yarns drooping off the couch.

I’ve been reading more in the evenings this fall.  I just finished reading Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner.  This book discusses the battle over water in the West:  dams, floods, irrigation canals, droughts, politics, corruption, etc. I remember waaaaay back in college I started reading this book and I became so disgusted and enraged that I had to stop reading it.  Now, nearly two decades later (Whoops, did I really just date myself? I guess I did…) I can read the book because let’s face it: with all the crazy going on in the world these days, one sort of has to desensitize oneself in order to get by.  I’m not saying I’ve Capturecompletely lost my compassion, but I tend to let the bad things roll off my back more easily these days because I have to if I am going to maintain that compassion.  But suffice it to say that this book brought up many excellent examples of how humans can be so arrogant and stupid in their quest to exert their control over nature.  And, get this: to follow up that book, I chose my next book to be The Battle for the Buffalo River by Neil Compton.  And guess what?  This book follows a similar plot as Cadillac Desert!  The good news is this book has a happy ending–the Buffalo River was not dammed and subsequently became the nation’s first national river in 1972.

Still, there is only so much reading on such depressing topics I can do in one sitting.  So I break it up by coloring, knitting, reading other things, planning Thanksgiving, and pondering my cottage food license (to be honest, though, I haven’t really done much work on my cottage food license this fall–which is something I SHOULD be working on).  I tend to find that coloring is generally more relaxing, though.  And I have several new completed pages in my coloring book to show for my relaxing, fire-side efforts:

Now that Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, I need to get serious about my menu.  I found a new recipe for a Moroccan-spiced winter squash dip that I made last week and I LOVED it.  If my vegan friend comes again, I will have to make this dip.  It will pair perfectly with homemade pitas, which I made for the very first time last weekend (along with homemade, from-scratch, falafel–it was the best!).  And I know what you are thinking: How can that be?!  How have you never made homemade pitas?

I know, I know.  It’s just one of those things that never happened. But they are so stinking easy, I will be making them again.  And again. In fact, maybe I will do a video on how to make them!  And you will make them, too!  Perhaps the video will include the winter squash dip, too.  But first…

I’m going to dig out my pile of unsorted recipes now.  Maybe I will find a hidden jewel that I need to include in my Thanksgiving menu this year.  It will be like a scavenger hunt to find exciting new foods to try!

 

Paid road trips are my kind of vacation

When was the last time I took a vacation that wasn’t tied to visiting family or working?

Ummmm….

But you know what?  I don’t mind the so-called ‘working vacation.’ I mean, I’m not really one that seeks out a tropical beach with an umbrella over my head and one tucked into my drink.  I’m more of a road trip sort of gal.  I like to seek out cool hikes, scenic mountains, waterfalls, kayaking waters, or funky little museums in out-of-the-way towns in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, for example.  So if I can tie a little work into a road trip, work that may take me off the beaten path to explore new towns/wildlife refuges/waterfalls/boating waters–why would I pass that up?

In short, the answer is I WON’T!

Earlier this month I had a meeting halfway across the country–Hubby and I presented a training course on a project we worked on years ago.  And since we don’t board MaeBelle (she would die of a broken heart, being ‘abandoned’ and all) we drove the 1,800 miles to the meeting. The trip served multiple purposes: we attended the meeting, we got to visit family and friends, and I got to do some field work in Colorado on the drive back. Hubby couldn’t stay for the entire two week trip, so it was just us girls on the drive home.

My field work was in NW Colorado–from Meeker to Craig to Maybell (And YES! MaeBelle got to go to Maybell, Colorado!!) and points beyond.  It was a pretty sweet gig–drive around looking for wet spots, take photos & GPS points, make notes, move on to another wet spot.  I’m involved with a project at work where I’ll be mapping wetlands in Colorado, and it’s always helpful to have a little on-the-ground reconnaissance before you begin work, you know?  Lucky for me, Colorado is between Montana and Arkansas, so things worked out pretty well.  I went just a little bit out of my way to visit NW Colorado, but I got to visit a friend in Avon and I got to spend the night with my in-laws (free room & board PLUS dinner and breakfast (I mean, I guess could have had gas station hot chocolate and Cracker Jacks for breakfast instead of the homemade huckleberry pancakes.  Confession: a few days earlier I did have that exact gas station breakfast, so I guess I CAN have it all. Life is good.  2nd Confession: I much prefer Crunch ‘n Munch to Cracker Jacks. That is all.).  Total damage to my odometer?  Well, it was about 250 miles longer to take the scenic tour, which, in my opinion, was totally worth it.  My fuel was paid for, my rooms were paid for, my meals were covered, I earned a few bucks…and I got to hang out with my favorite doggie (who is an AWESOME travel partner still at 13 1/2 years) and see some cool places.  What is not to like about this set up?

I need a bumper sticker that reads:  WILL WORK. WILL TRAVEL. WILL PLAY.

Have I mentioned how much I love my job(s)?

Tomato Fennel Soup

Who likes fennel?!  Not the seeds, the large, white bulb!  Not being a particular fan of licorice, I can’t say that fennel is on the top of my grocery list–ever–but a few years ago I had some tomato fennel soup that was out-of-this-world good.  And I have been wanting to make it ever since.  This week it finally happened.

We got fennel in our shares ANDDDDD I just happened to order a 20 pound box of Roma tomatoes to process into tomato sauce this week.  I had tomatoes to spare for soup.

This soup is so simple.  Roast veggies. Dump into large pot. Cook 10 minutes more. Blend. Serve.  YUM!  I served this soup with feta cheese and some homemade pesto.  Double YUM! I’m too lazy (read: busy) right now to write up a recipe, but you can sort of make it up as you go.  This was my inspiration, and I adapted it from there.

With fall weather moving in today:  cold, cloudy, drizzly, this was the perfect bright spot in my day.  Go make this soup!

The Chicken Wars

Fall is on its way and the days are still nice enough that MaeBelle and I can sit outside and enjoy the warm, sunny afternoons.  The chickens are enjoying these final days of summer as well, chasing bugs around the garden, eating sunflower seeds, and dusting in the squash bed.  It’s soothing to sit and watch them do their ‘chicken thing’ while listening to their soft clucking noises of contentment they make while they roam the garden.  So peaceful.

And then came the chicken wars.  The girls were dusting in the squash bed this afternoon.  It was not peaceful.  But it was pretty darn funny.  I’m not sayin’ I’m going to lay blame on anyone, but Miss Buffie is a bit of a pig in my personal opinion.  I’ll let you decide for yourself.  What I wouldn’t have given to have been a fly on the wall in the coop tonight as they came in to roost…I REALLY need to get a webcam in there, don’t I?