ANN BAILEY: A staycation is a great way to spend some quality time at homeI love staycations. While I enjoy traveling, being at home on the farm is something of a luxury for me. Between our children’s activities and job at the Herald, it doesn’t seem like I’m there nearly enough. Last week I spent a few days enjoying the Bailey-Gregoire version of a staycation. There wasn’t a lot of relaxing going on at our house and when we did, we didn’t drive far, but we did get a lot accomplished both indoors and outdoors besides having some fun.
With high gas prices, “staycations” are predicted to be in vogue again this summer. Instead of taking a long trip somewhere, people are planning to stick close to home and relax in their backyards or take day trips to nearby attractions, according to news reports.
I love staycations. While I enjoy traveling, being at home on the farm is something of a luxury for me. Between our children’s activities and job at the Herald, it doesn’t seem like I’m there nearly enough.
Last week I spent a few days enjoying the Bailey-Gregoire version of a staycation. There wasn’t a lot of relaxing going on at our house and when we did, we didn’t drive far, but we did get a lot accomplished both indoors and outdoors besides having some fun.
One of the first jobs we tackled was to paint the vanity and move it and other paraphernalia back in to our upstairs bathroom. This spring we had the bathroom re-plumbed and remodeled, and we had to move everything out. It has been sitting in the upstairs hallway for the past month, so it was good to get it back into place.
My sister, Bonnie, also helped me with another moving project. We exchanged a sofa from our house with one of my mom’s. Six months ago, we did the same thing in reverse. At the time I thought the sofa in my mom’s house would be a good fit for our living room so Brian, my husband, and my brother, Terry, exchanged the two.
During the interim, I decided that I really liked our own sofa better, so I decided to switch them back. Brian and Terry were not available so I prevailed upon my loyal sister for help. My mom’s sofa, which has a pull-out bed, was pretty heavy, but with the help of my sons, Brendan and Thomas, we managed to make the exchange without major damage to our backs.
This time the sofas will stay put. I have a feeling that even if I changed my mind again, I wouldn’t have a moving crew available. I think I’ve already tested my family’s loyalty enough.
Another little project that was completed early in my vacation was to have the last bit of water removed from the basement floor. Brian used the shop vacuum to clean up the water on Friday, and I was delighted to wash clothes that day without worrying about dropping them in the water and having to re-wash them.
My elation was short-lived, though. The next day it rained and with each successive rain the pool deepened and spread out. By the last day of vacation, the floor was again covered with a couple of inches of water.
Besides dampening my enthusiasm for clothes washing, the rain made it logistically challenging to get work done outside. However, by watching the forecast and working furiously when the sun shined, we managed to get lawns mowed and the remainder of our garden planted. I also weeded most of the quack grass out of our flowerbeds. As any gardener knows, quack grass is hateful and hard to get rid of.
Odds and ends
Although I would have liked to have doused the quack grass with chemical, I resisted the urge and, instead, removed it by getting on my hands and knees and pulling the clumps as best as I could, and then using a trowel to remove the stubborn roots. I’m sure I’ll repeat the process several more times this summer, but for now the beds look pretty good.
Besides mowing and gardening, I also tidied up the barn and cleaned the straw out of the dogs’ kennel during the week. We put straw in the kennel during winter to keep our canine friends warm, but figure they’re better off lying on the cool concrete during the summer.
In between chores, I found time to give my daughter, Ellen, a couple of horseback riding lessons, go to a movie with our family and attend several graduation receptions. They weren’t exactly day trips, but did provide some diversion from the whirlwind week of work.
Our staycation was a great way to spend some quality time on the farm. I’ve already got a list of chores planned for the next one, which hopefully will find us drier.
When I returned to work last Tuesday and learned that I had omitted, not one, but two key recipe ingredients in the Rhubarb-Strawberry Coffeecake, recipe, my face was redder than the rhubarb dishes I had featured in my column the previous week. If anyone made the recipe the way it originally was printed, I apologize.
Here’s the correct recipe:
*1 16-ounce package frozen strawberries
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine and cook strawberries and rhubarb for five minutes. Mix sugar and cornstarch and add to strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Stir in lemon juice. Cook and stir until thick; cool.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
*1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift dry ingredients in bowl. Cut butter into pieces and cut into dry ingredients. Quickly stir in buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until moist. Spread half of batter in 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread filling over batter. Dot with remaining batter.
½ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Mix ingredients. Sprinkle over top of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set.
*Note: I used fresh strawberries instead of frozen and they worked well. I also substituted ½ teaspoon of almond extract for the vanilla. I liked the results even better