Tuesday, May 31, 2011


First - Erin, Blogger is still acting funky and I can't post to your comments (anyone else experiencing this?). The boy's books came in and he's got four duplicates. Want me to send them to you? He's pretty geeked up about making a 'book pal.' Three are Goosebumps and another is a Captain Underpants.

Second - Graduation is DONE! The ceremony went well and only a few parents snuck in air horns. The graduations were set right on top of each other so while we were coming in, there was one still going on. It worked, but man, the schedule was tight. We made it out with minimal mishaps - so I have to be happy. We have a fantastic faculty that really does an amazing job supporting the ceremony and the students and to pull them away from a holiday weekend makes them that much more special.

So, now I'm offically a kept woman, however I somehow feel like I'll be earning my keep more this summer than I do when school is out. I gain freedoms like going to the bathroom whenever I want, but I lose the ability to go by myself with no one offering suggestions and pointers for success. Hard thing is: I've got to find ways to entertain these kiddos. There are a few sports camps that I'll look into sending them to, but neither of them is real athletic. I wonder if there are some math/science camps in the area for the boy. I'll look into that tonight.

Last night after graduation, I came home and pulled all this!
I swear none of this was near to pulling size yesterday morning. This morning I woke up early and made a veggie pie for a morning meeting. Everyone seemed to like it. Oh! I've gotten a few more zucchini recipies that I'll hopefully get up tonight.

Yesterday I also got a Keychains for a Cause order for some 2011 keychains. Thank you for supporting my school's Relay for Life Team!

Lastly, and least expectedly, at our final faculty meeting I was selected for the Faculty of the Month award. It's my first time being teacher of the month and it makes me happy, mostly because my awesome team teacher nominated me and said some very nice things. He's in the classroom with me day in and day out and really sees what and how I teach. It's a nomination that means more in that respect than just a popularity contest. It's been a great two years working with him and I'm sad to see him go (he's moving to self contained sped).
Over all, I've had a banner couple of weeks, I'd say. Hopefully the good karma will last through the summer.

The morning comes early - although 30 minutes later than during the school year will not hurt my feelings one bit. Sweet gardening dreams.

Erin - let me know about those books, okay?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Harvest Monday - What!? I have to cook dinner AGAIN!?

This is the post I was working on when the storm blast came and we lost power last week.

Why is it so amazing that each night I find myself looking in the fridge, freezer and pantry wondering what to make for dinner? Why can I not seem to see passed the one night and plan ahead and possibly...oh...stop at the store for dinner materials, I'll never know. So, when I glanced in the fridge in full dinner-should-have-been-started-twenty-minutes-ago mode, I found what's greeted me over and over for weeks.
Not that I'm complaining, but now I have to do something with it all and I'm running out of ideas, and since I haven't gone to the grocery in ages, we're low on other materials as well. Dinner that night turned into another Hail Mary dinner where you throw things together and hope they work out in the end - much like the zucchini cornbread bake from the other night.

This time, I found some left over frozen ravioli that's been in the freezer for some time. I chose to ignore that last fact.

Then I chopped up those zucchini, squash and some onion and garlic from the garden and sauteed them.

In the mean time I put some left over chicken fingers in the oven. Yes, by this time I REALLY had no idea what I was doing, but I was going for it full on.

The final product wasn't so bad! I took this picture before I put some sprinkle cheese over the top.

Would I make it again? Sure would! It was oddly tasty. Almost like a chicken parmesean or something.

Today is Memorial Day and also my graduation ceremony. We're walking 408 kids and it has me nervous that the ceremony isn't until 4:00 PM on a holiday where people have been sitting around BBQs all day, if you catch my drift. We graduate in a HUGE arena where they hold concerts and the hockey team plays and it's just fantastic, but it's a lot of running around. I have to get there at 1 to unload programs and diplomas and diploma covers. The kids get there at 2, they open the doors at 3 and the ceremony begins at 4. I'm hoping to have the ceremony at under an hour.

I have my fingers crossed. I'm really very anxious - when you're counting on 408 teenagers (and their parents and guests) to act in a dignified manner, things don't always happen the way you'd want.

The administration did give me and my partner a beautiful, beautiful flower arrangement to thank us for the work we do.

It's just beautiful. Look outside - this was the night of the storm. It was about 5:30 PM when I took that picture and it usually stays daylight here until after 8:00. The storm was just about to hit when I snapped this.

The morning comes early - and even with the kids spending the night at the grandparents it still came at 6:45 AM. I think I can stop blaming the kids for early wake up calls when we do it even to ourselves. Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, May 27, 2011

We Got Lucky

I know I speak for all when I say that Erin's film of her recent storm was beyond anything I could have imagined. The way she said it came out of the blue was frightening and winds just fierce. I just got finished reading her post when I remembered that storms were forcasted for our area. I checked the radar:
We're where the red exclamation point marker is. Keep in mind that it was bright sunshine without a hint of a storm when I checked. It came quick, it came fast, and it came like it had a purpose. I took a short film - not as dangerous as Erin's funnel cloud, but the wind is obvious. So is my attempt to correct the boy's grammar, but the way I rephrased the sentence...it worked so the point would have been lost on him.

We lost power, as obvious by the candles in the fireplace, yet negated by my awesome flash, but the boy immediately exclaimed, "Hey! The Nook has a light! Can I go get it and read?

Thank you, Power Outage.

The dog was just as frightened as the kids. Before the power went out, the dog was huddled in the bathroom with the girl. He didn't come out all night. It's a small bathroom. He's a big dog. It didn't work out well.

We came out unscathed, but it was amazing the damage around us. Trees were down everywhere. Thank goodness the trees that were down on my way to school were all dead trees and obliterated as they hit the ground, but this afternoon as I was coming home, I noticed damage I didn't see as I drove to school in the dark. People everywhere were gathering limbs. leaves and debris. I can not believe I missed seeing our neighbor's tree uprooted this morning:

The picture was taken from my drive way. It was a perfectly healthy. amazingly tall oak.

We got lucky; yes we did. The post I was working on when the power went out will have to wait for tomorrow. The morning will hopefully only come arond 6:00 AM tomorrow. Not early, but early enough. Sweet and safe gardening dreams.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I hate that sickeningly sweet smell of squash bugs in peril.

Although I must say I hate dogs drenched in fish emulsion water more. I was spraying the garden today when Big got the idea I was playing with him and tried to chase the water. The more I moved the hose, the more he thought I was playing and leaped into the stream.

Could have just let go of the trigger to stop the flow, but why would I have thought of that?

Stinky dog.

Stinky, BIG dog.

And, no. He's not on the couch after the fish emulsion spraying. This is an old picture. He's now sulking outside for a bit until the stank washes off.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garlic, Veggie Stands, Blueberries and Nancy Sinatra

Don't forget to post a link or send your zucchini/squash recipes to thecorneryard@ymail.com and then visit the page listed on the right sidebar. The recipes are adding up, but we're far from the 101 recipes advertised, but we can make it. Even if it's just a suggestion of a standard recipe to add it in. It's all good!

The girl came out to the garden with me this morning to pull the garlic. Turns out she's a master squash bug/egg detector, being at the right height to just peer under the leaves. She also gets supreme joy in yelling "BUG! BUG! BUG!!" Not only did we pull a slew of squash bugs and their eggs off, we also spotted a vine borrer moth. Seems like everything showed up early this year, but everything is growing strong, so I can't complain.

The garlic in the front bed (on the left in this picture) had bulbs 2-3 times the size of the other beds. Looks like that will be the variety and location for this year's planting...if I could remember what it was. They really look and smell great.

I hung all of the good sized ones to dry in the basement and let the boy take the rest and the squash/zucchini from this week that I didn't pawn off on the babysitter last night outside to have his first veggie stand of the season.

He sold all of the squash in the bucket to one customer. He has his eye on some of the new Pirates of the Caribbean Lego sets that just came out. While we were sitting outside, we picked the blueberries and the boy kept chomping on handful after handful after handful.

When he offered me one, I looked in the bucket and saw it crawling with little pink worms. He didn't seem affected by it in attitude or health. Protein, right? ...no, seriously, right? Bad mom of the year award is coming my way.

Not to be outdone, last weekend the girl tried to do her best Nancy Sinatra impersonation. Her fuzzy sleek cow print dress, mod hair and Mommy's boots made the perfect ensemble.

Ignore the bandaid on the forehead. There was nothing wrong with her. I think her brother wanted to read a book without her and she started crying. Bandaids fix everything. So, then, does fuzzy cow dresses and boots made for walkin'. I see a future for her. Too bad she has her sights set on working for Waffle House.

The morning came at a decent hour this weekend - thanks to a babysitter who wore them slap out. Sweet gardening dreams.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's a Squash, Squash, Squash,Squash World

Yesterday I came home from school and pulled even more squash/zucchini. It's amazing that squash can look puny one day and beastial the next. I had NO idea what to make for dinner. I haven't been "menu shopping" in quite some time, so it was a free for all/Hail Mary kind of night. I took the squash/zucchini, onion, garlic and oregano from the garden. I browned some ground beef, sauteed the rest and threw it in a Pyrex.
Then I threw some spaghetti sauce and cornbread mix over the top and made ourselves a cornbread-zucchini bake.

It's the first time I've tried anything like that and it was pretty durn' tasty. It was even good cold when I took left overs to lunch and became impatient and ate it cold for breakfast.

Thinking however, about the prolific properties of squash recently...I just almost emptied my fridge of squash yesterday and then picked this out of the garden today:

Good grief!! So, my gardening friends...here's the challenge...I'm starting a new page to this blog with 101 things to do with squash and zucchini. Post here or email your recipes to thecorneryard@ymail.com and I'll attribute, link to your blog and post your recipes there. It's a perfect reference site. Granny, Ifully intend to put your chocolate zucchini muffins/cake there and my zucchini pie, but there are so many more ideas out ther that are begging to be tapped. Send them on, Zucchini Lovers of America! Ok....that was rather cheesy - but send the recipes regardless, okay?

To conclude.....and this is something EG experienced in his visit....Onions make a fantastic sound when you crack the stems. A sound that is irresistable and enticing to four year olds. EG heard the mandates of no touching and experienced the allure of the alliums first hand. Yesterday I caught the perpetrator red handed.

According to her, she wasn't touching them, she was 'cracking them.' She then voluteered to go ahead and pull one for me for dinner to make it all better. Perhaps I can train her with the same affinity for trapping squash bugs.

The morning comes early. Don't forget to send or post those squash recipes!! Sweet gardening dreams.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Completing the Checklist

I will say, 5:10 AM comes early every morning, but 3:30 AM was just a bit too early for me today. I had to get up, out of the house and down to school by 4:30 in order to decorate for our senior breakfast this morning. It stunk, it was early, but all of this is SO much better than coaching cheerleading. Been there, done that, NO thank you.

The cafeteria ladies really do a fantastic job. They actually wrapped 450 sets of real silverware for the kids. I bought a bunch of junk to throw on the tables. Here's a picture of one when it was about half way from being finished.
This is what has been my headache since March. We run a program called Unleashed Memories in which parents, family and friends all write letters to their students congratulating them on their graduation. I collected letters for 437 kids and with help of other students before and after school sorted them from March until just last night (and even some this morning). We stopped counting when we got close to 7,000 letters. Our faculty is wonderful. I can't do this project unless every kid has letters. Around May 1 I send out a panic email to the faculty saying who needs letters and they turn them out in droves. I'm talking hand written notes of encouragement. It's heartwarming. The community also brought by generic supportive and encouraging cards to put in bags I felt were a little thin even at the very end.

It's fantastic to see grown men cry at letters from their mothers. These kids listen to their parents tell them they love them each and every day but this is likely the first time they really hear them. Then there was a child who's mother sent the review for her AP Chem. test with a sticky note reading "School's not over yet." Love it!

Here is what the commons area looked like before we let the kids in. We had the lights dimmed because I was playing a slide show of the pictures taken at the senior dinner Monday night. I've already mentioned how awesome our cafeteria staff is. Look at this spread they put on for the kids. There was more than this as well. There was hand made potato hash with peppers and onions and gravy and grits and the fruit was in carved out watermelon baskets. The cinnamon rolls were hand rolled that morning.

They do all this AND have to feed the rest of the general population of the school (we have about 2,000 students total).

I usually don't get to eat at these events because I'm busy running interference, but I had my students trained. I tutored them in what to say when I came over and snatched a piece of bacon off of their plates. They were to respond, "Would you like another?" It was just hysterical when one kid came up and offered me a piece of bacon. Another brought me a biscuit while I was walking the commons and another some fruit while I was dealing with a problem with the letters. They're good, good kids.

Here's what it looked like in full swing. Actually, the picture misses half of the commons off to the right hand side so double the children you see here.

Did it go well? Eh...*shrug*. I've gotten amazing compliments from the kids. Some even made a thank you poster, but three parents have emailed that their kids are missing letters which makes me sad and irritated with myself, but there's no way in telling if the fault lies with us or the post office and when we've got our hands on 7,000+ pieces of mail without an automatic sorting system, something like that's bound to happen. So far, I've heard of 3 missing letters out of 7,000+, so it's not so bad.

Graduation tickets have come in so we're doing review games for our final while the kids count tickets. Now I need to wait for exams and pull failures' tickets, walking cards and diplomas. Next Friday is practice and away we go!

I also pulled another zucchini today and if the bees don't show up soon and start pulling their weight I'm going to log a complaint. This is a garden blog by the way.

Seeded post cards are ready to go! The package had 4 cards in there and not 8. Looks like I need glasses for my glasses.

The morning comes early, but at this point 5:10 AM is looking purty durn' good, my friends. Sweet graduation dreams.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Havests, Garden Dishes, and a Present For You!

First, welcome to all of our new friends! Thanks for following. Your advice, support and commiseration is indispensable.

The school year is winding down and that brings all of the senior functions and graduation. I've gotten the news that our superintendent is not coming, which alleviates some of the stress factor. The principal and I met with all of the kids speaking at graduation to get the program settled and I shipped it off to the printer today. Done and Done.

Senior Dinner was Monday. I sent five kids home for not meeting dress code. One of those who came back dressed correctly I almost sent home again. Looks like next year I'll have to specify "big-boy" ties and not their little brother's clip ons. Dinner went off without a hitch. I had a few hundred dollars of gift cards to give away - including gas cards which were a favorite and then I bought a Galaxy Tab which wound up going to one of my students who is a good kid which made me happy. Tomorrow morning is the Senior Breakfast for which I've (along with student help) have filed close to 7,000 letters family and friends have written to the students congratulating them on their impending graduation. I'll get there at 4:30 AM to decorate. I've got so many toys to throw on the table including some 2011 glow in the dark glasses. Seriously, how can this not be a party when I've got 2011 glow in the dark glasses!

On the garden front -- this is a garden blog, right? Squash harvests have been abundant!
This weekend we had some family over and I put some out to snack on.

Then, I went to the garden to find some goodies to make a roast veggie dish and pulled some of the girl's purple potatoes. I couldn't believe they were ready already, but they were.

Everything in the dish from the onions, garlic and herbs to the potatoes and squash all came from the garden. It was yummy!

The squash harvests continued today. I'm telling you, getting yellow squash for the first time in three years is not hurting my feelings one bit. Those front two beds are where the squash will go for now on.

I got something in the mail today that made me smile. A while ago, I partnered with the Nancy Jo Tennis Tournament to help them raise money for the American Cancer Society from sales through Keychains for a Cause. I didn't get to go to the tournament itself, but someone was kind enough to send me a program and look! There we are:

Now, as if that wasn't enough to bore your stiff, look what I found at the post office the last time I went to mail out keychains!

Very, very cool! They're just post cards embedded with seeds and you can plant them. With having EG over last week I started thinking of everyone who commented about the wonderful camaraderie between us all and I'd love to send one of these to you. There are eight, so eight of us can plant the same seeds and share a friendship part of our garden.

Cheesy, yes, but fun. I'll stick one of these in the mail for the first eight of you who email me (thecorneryard@ymail.com) your address. I'd love to keep up with everyone's postcards through blogs. It would be a fun link!

The morning comes early. Very, very early tomorrow. Hope I don't set off the school's alarm again this year. ;) Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Auntie Daddy's Delima

I'm fortunate after several, several years apart to finally have my very dear friend since 4th grade living back in our general area. Her name is Natalie, however I've always called her Nattie. For some reason, the girl has always called her Auntie Daddy instead of Nattie, and so her delima becomes alliterative. Before I ask you advice for her, here are some awesome pictures of her garden:

It all looks so healthy, doesn't it! This is her first garden at this house and she's gotten it going so well. Her spinach, however, is acting a bit odd.....

Her spinach has lots of sandy white dots mostly on the undersides of the leaves. The white dots feel like salt-like grains which easily brush off with fingertips and wash off without leaving any discoloration or sign of disease behind. I can't seem to find anything about it on-line which leads me to almost want to think it's a trait of the variety of spinach - but I just totally made that up. Does anyone have any good, concrete ideas as to what it is? Here's a picture from an old Garden Web post that shows what she's talking about: Spinach Problem

The morning came at 7:00 today and 8:15 yesterday!! I know, my heart stopped as well.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Year of the Squash

The squash is coming in wonderfully! Seems like this is the bounty from that first round of females I hand polinated. Here's the take from Tuesday night.

Yesterday I got home and harvested this:

The rest of the females on there are rotting down so I suppose they didn't get polinated well. Hopefully the bees will show up soon. I just can't hand polinate during the week which is cutting in to my squash bounty.

I'm having my first major bout with bugs. The cucumber beetles are everywhere and no so are the squash bugs and flea beetles. I found today that the flea beetles have gotten by cucumbers badly. I just can't go out to the garden multiple times a day to pick bugs while school is in session. Ah, the pros and cons of starting early.

Speaking of school: This was a testing week and there was a three hour block of time where the seniors didn't have testing, so I got the responsibility of finding them something to do. All 459 of them. My idea for a carnival/picnic was shot down as not being educational, so instead I organized 19 cooperative learning/lateral thinking/team building activities (see how I spun this? Educational field day!) We had games with rope, PVC pipe, marbles, wooden dowels, blindfolds and rubber chickens. Who doesn't love a rubber chicken?

It was FANTASTIC! Kids and teachers both had a blast and about half of the kids stayed home which suited our purposes just fine. As luck would have it, testing ran long and we ran out of stations. We ran for some trash bags and played Cattle Call. Everyone paired up and chose an animal based on an assigned letter and we separated them to opposite endzones of the field. The left side all had to yell their animal's name while the right side yelled the sound their animal made. Blindfolded - they had to find each other.

The innitial start was fantastic with the shreaking/zombie walking kids all walking towards the center of the field. A teacher took this film when it was about half over.

HA! Play it again. Hear the kid going "Duh, duh, duhn, duh" at the very start? His partner was yelling "SHARK!" He was yelling the music to Jaws...however I don't believe he got it quite right.

More fun was never had by anyone.

The morning comes early. Who's my partner!? I'll yell "FROG!" Your turn! ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Harvest Monday on a Tuesday -EG Visit Part II

Don't know if anyone will go back to yesterday's post to see the comments, so I thought to double post my last comment here:

Y'all are so right. It was an utter delight to have EG (Mr. EG to the youngins) come visit. I honestly don't think I've ever been so excited about a "garden event" in a long time. His thoughts, his ideas and his general unassuming nature endeared us all to him immediately. It was surprising to hear his voice in person. I kept thinking I was watching a film of his and then realizing he was really there in person. It was rather surreal.

I know we all feel the same way - we know everything about each other and there's no way we haven't actually met since we're all obvioulsy kindred spirits since out of all the garden blogs out there, we have our own circle, but it was just wonderful to share the gardening camaraderie with him.

EG, you did a true good deed by coming out of your way. I know I'll remember it fondly and so will the kids. THey've already made me recall all of the Jude videos on your site.

In preparation for his visit, I went down to the garden and did a bit of harvesting.

Do you see? Do you see!? I harvested my first three zephyr squash!!

I used the squash in an artichoke and squash dip with some onion from the garden thrown in for good measure. This is what was left of it by the time we sat down for dinner. YUMMY!Then, I took the lettuce from the garden and made a salad for dinner. The rest of the dinner was creamed potatoes with the rosemary from the garden and some steak with nothing from the garden involved, but still yummy.

It was such a fantastic visit and one I'll remember fondly. I've still got a few more pictures for fodder for a few more posts so stay tuned!

The morning comes early. Sweet harvesting dreams.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Calling in the Reinforcements - The Surprise Revealed

Las week I mentioned being overwhelmed by cucumber beetles and yesterday I posted having found six squash bugs early in the season. My beans have a disease, my lettuce is bolting, my soil isn't balanced enough and the eggplants are struggling. I'm drowning - and it's early in the season.

See...look at these bean leaves. It's not just relegated to this patch of beans either. The beans on the side yard are showing the same damage.
The eggplant is showing obvious damage from flea beetles. They're everywhere and nowhere at once. I just can't find them, but their presence is obvious.

What does a woman do when faced with these obstacles at the start of the growing season? Why, she calls in reinforcements.

I needed a terminator of click beetles, the eradicator of earwigs, the only man I know who goes up against one squash bug after another and comes out victorious, sporting each of their heads on toothpicks to place high on his trellis as a warning to those that may tresspass against him. You may doubt his prowess, my friends, but you know. You know he's the master. The main man of gardening. The go-to guy for any of your needs. You need a planter? He's your man. Have your eye on an electrical thermostat to connect your greenhouse with your solar heated dish washer? He's your huckleberry. You may not recognize his back - but there is no denying the voice:

Yes, it's Mr. EG! Idiot Gardener, you were right. It was going to rain men.

EG was in town for some training he needed for work - since he was only about an hour from us, he was kind enough to stop by for some supper and a look see around the garden. It's piddly and paltry in comparison to his, but he learned me not to be afraid of nitrogen or of a little pesticide use in the right places at the right time. I'll shoot the garden with some stuff tomorrow and see if I can't spruce it up a bit.

I've enough EG fodder of our visit to last for a few posts, so I'll leave you with this last image.

It's just fantastic to have made friends like this. Gardeners ROCK!

The morning comes early. Thank you, EG, for making the trip. Sweet gardening dreams.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sixes and Sevens

Six = the total number of squash bugs I drowned in the garden today. Six! I thought they'd hold off another month or so. Amazing how the plants are a beacon.

Seven = The girl woke up this morning and immediately came to our room and asked, "Mommy, what's that bright thing outside my window?" She had slept until 7:15. That "bright thing" was the sun. We're usually long out of bed when the sun rises. It's proof positive that the mornings really do come early at our house.

Hot Mommas!

Happy Mother's day to all! I figured on this mother's day to share with you one of my most favorite things about my house. It's very important to me to be surrounded by family - family pictures not withstanding - so I took a tour of the house and took some pictures to show you a few of the special mothers in our lives.

This picture is of the man's grandmother holding his mother as a baby.

This is the man's father's mother, Florene.

This is my father's mother. I just love the dress and hat!

This picture is a topic of much debate. It's assuredly my great grandmother on my mother's side, but there's disagreement as to if the baby she's breast feeding is my grandmother, or one of her brothers.

This lovely lady is my maternal grandmother, Anneliese. She's an amazing woman.

Her husband (far left) and his mother are pictured below

That boy on the far left grew up to marry the beautiful woman above and have this darling baby - my mother as seen here with her father.

My mom - who, by the way, still has that same look about her when she thinks there's no way possible that you don't know that you've just done something idiotic.

When you've out of the house, it's hard to find pictures of yourself as a child, but I dug this one up out of a scrap book. Here we all are at Disney, I believe. Mom's just a few years older here than I am now and it always amazes me that she always seemed to have all of the answers and seemed so self assured and together and here I am making things up as I go along. I now realize she had me hoodwinked. I hope the boy and girl are just as easily led.

There's no doubt she and all of the women on my walls did an awesome job.

Thanks, Mom, for giving me the tools I need to wade through the adventure myself.