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January 2011

Thoughtful Friday - January 28, 2011

Have your heart in your life's work, and be stout-hearted. Do something, act always, and do it now. Don't be afraid. Many a man has been defeated by his doubts—lack of confidence. Take your risks—you cannot eliminate them, you cannot escape them. You can diminish them by dominating them. ~Batten's Wedge


Owning your own business - whether it be a retail storefront, a service, or whatever - is not for the faint of heart.  It's constant work, and constant stress - especially in an uncertain economy.  Which is why it is SO important to love what you do - to have your heart in your life's work.  

We LOVE The Weed Patch.  We live it, breathe it, and more than occasionally dream it while we're sleeping...  We love wearing so many hats, we love the products, we love Country Village, and most of all we love our customers.  You, our wonderful customers, are what make it all worth it!  

We get emails almost every day thanking us for something - and it's so encouraging and fun when we know that we've gone above and beyond for a customer, and that they notice.  But even for all those customers that don't email us a pat on the back, we truly LOVE going above and beyond.  We're not perfect, but we sure try hard.  Our hearts are definitely in our life's work!

So on this first Thoughtful Friday of 2011, we'd like to say thanks for being such wonderful customers - and more, wonderful friends.  If there's ever anything we can do to help you out, just ask!  If you just want to say hey, we love that, too!  Thanks for making The Weed Patch what it is, because without you, we would pretty much be...nothing!


Is your heart in your life's work?  Do you truly love what you do?  
Do you bravely take the risks necessary to reach your goals?

A Beautiful Foggy Mess!

Today was SUPPOSED to be sunny and 55 - but at the store the sun only peeked out a couple of times, and I don't think it made it much warmer than 47 or 48. Oh well - that was a bummer, because I am in SUCH a Spring mood - but it's ok, because tonight we have some fantastic fog... I love fog, especially with how it plays with the light. None of the below pictures are current (today) - but they're all taken by either Janene or myself. I hope you enjoy them - maybe one of these days I'll have enough time in front of the computer to put together some more desktop backgrounds, if enough people let me know they'd like that. In the meantime, here's a few pictures of fog that we love....

Do you like the fog? What's your favorite weather?
Should we do some new desktop backgrounds from our pictures?

A Garden for 2011!

A Garden for 2011!Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. 
~Mark Twain

Well, we're already almost through January 2011.  We have so many wonderful things to do this year, but the year is already almost 1/12 gone!  Time sure does fly, it's absolutely incredible.  Of course, the store tends to do that, as there is simply so much to do!  


A Garden for 2011!

At home this year, among other things, we have a goal to eat as much from our own garden this year (and many years forward!) as we can.  This is a rather large undertaking for us, as we have several beds to dig out and prep in the coming weeks - we had one moderately successful bed this past year, planted very late in the season.  This year, we're planning on adding four beds, plus a raspberry bed, as well as a full container garden.  We'll be documenting our toils and rewards throughout the year, and we welcome any advice more experienced gardeners may have!  

A Garden for 2011!

What are your big goals for this year?  Have you started on them yet?

It feels like Spring!

Spring is Coming to The Weed PatchToday we took some time to relax, and we went to Flower World here in Snohomish.  We love Flower World - and today was perfect, as there wasn't anybody else there!  Ben ran all over the place - quietly, interestingly enough - and all the staff thought he was quite cute.  We saw so many beautiful plants and trees, and Ben particularly loved the pond with the turtles and fish, as well as all the waterfalls.  Since it was raining, we didn't do much outside today, but inside was enough.  

We initially went to get our creative juices flowing for our new garden this year - last year we loved having our veggie garden so much that this year we're adding several beds, and it's never too early to start planning!  (Actually, some would argue that we're late...)  

We did end up getting a new house plant - we're going to fill the house with plants, as well as the new gardens.  I (Chris) have always loved plants, and in addition to an increase in air quality I'm excited for the relaxing effects that plants have for me.  Even though the wind and rain was a bit cold, today still felt a little like Spring!  

Are you looking foward to Spring this year?  What are you planting in your garden?


Dinner Tonight - Weird Casserole


Like I'd mentioned on Facebook, this is one of those casseroles where you throw half your pantry in a casserole dish, put in the oven, and hope it tastes good.  Although I love love love to cook, I really got out of the habit of it, between the busy 4th quarter at the store and not having fridge for a month.

This casserole came together because we needed dinner, and this is what we had for ingredients, so it is definitely one of those that could have a lot of different substitutions, depending on what you like or what you have on hand.  The basic elements of The Casserole are the meat, the starch, the veggies, the cheese, and the "goo" that holds it together and makes it creamy. 

For meat, I tend to go with chicken, because I usually have leftover rotisserie.  Canned chicken or tuna work in a pinch.  The starch is either cooked egg noodles or rice, and the veggies are obviously whatever I have that sounds good together.  I like a little crunch in my casserole, so you could use water chesnuts, celery (though careful, it has strong flavor), or even slivered almonds.  Plus, cutting them up nice and small is a sneaky way to get more veggies into your kids' diet - you hardly notice the texture, and the flavor isn't as strong, and you have the bonus of the added veggies.  Cheese for me is usually cheddar, but in this case, swiss fit better and needed to be used up. 

The "goo" typically starts with a can of good 'ol Cambell's Cream of Something Soup, then you can do a little bit of mayo, some sour cream, even plain yogurt.  A great way to reduce the fat and calories of your casserole is to use lighter fat versions of these things, as well as the cheese.  Just don't use fat free, for goodness sake - the texture and flavor just end up tasting flat.

Anyway, enough blabbing, let's make dinner!

Weird Casserole

Egg noodles, 3 big handfuls (about 1/2 a package or so)
Onion, about 1/4 cup minced
Garlic, 1 crushed clove (you can also use a shallot in place of the onion and garlic, as that's what a shallot tastes like!)
Mushrooms, about a cup, diced up
Frozen Spinach, about 1/2 cup chopped finely (I buy loose bagged spinach and grab what I need)
Water Chesnuts, 1 can, chopped up (unless you want large chunks)
Cooked Chicken, about 2 cups chopped
Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 can (other flavors would be fine too)
Plain Yogurt, about 1/4 cup
Cottage cheese, about 1/4 cup
Swiss Cheese, about 2 or so cups shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste, 1/4 tsp each or so (if you have one of those salt-free seasoning blends, like Mrs. Dash or something, adding 1/4 tsp of that would also be tasty)
Ritz Crackers, crushed (use as many as you need to cover the top of the casserole with a light coating, which was about 10 for me)

1.  Cook and drain the egg noodles.
2.  While the water is boiling, and the noodles are cooking, chop up all the veggies as desired.  Saute the onions, mushrooms, and garlic in about a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat until soft and yummy looking, about 5 minutes or so.
3.  Combine everything together - the cooked noodles, cooked veggies, spinach, water chestnuts, chicken, soup, yogurt, cottage cheese, and about HALF the swiss cheese.  Add the salt, pepper, and a seasoning blend if desired.  I used 1/4 tsp of regular Mrs. Dash, and a dash (no pun in tended, that's just what it was!) of Tobasco sauce.  If you have too many noodles, just add some more veggies.  If you don't have enough noodles, don't worry, it'll taste great.  The key is to have enough "goo" for your casserole to be nice and creamy.  Chris' casseroles always taste better than mine, and I think it is because he puts more goo in his than I do.
4.  Pour into a casserole dish.  Mine fit into a deep dish 7 x 11 inch dish, but a 9 x 13 looked like it would have been right too.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, then sprinkle on the cracker crumbs.
5. Cover with foil, then bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Then take the cover off and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through, the cheese is melted, and the crackers have toasted a bit.

Serve with a tossed salad or steamed veggies.  Seems like it would serve about 6, with some leftovers.

I guess this casserole isn't that weird.  It was just weird to me - I've never used yogurt or cottage cheese in a chicken casserole before, nor do I typically use swiss or sprinkle with crackers.  It felt funny to me to keep opening the fridge, freezer, and pantry, take something out and throw it in.  The flavor didn't turn out weird, though, so maybe I'd better think up a different name...