Thursday, December 31, 2015

365 Things

I've tried everything but hypnosis and I have yet to manage to stick with a plan to de-thing my life.  The little hoarder that lives inside me gives me nothing but lip service.  Well, hehe, I think I've got A Plan.  Shame!  That's what it will take!  I am going to put on (limited) public display the painful process of my de-thinging.  And you all get to witness it!  Doesn't that sound like fun?

(Insert the sound of crickets...)

Starting on January 1, 2016, I will be shedding a thing a day.  I think, trying to keep this in some sort of manageable shape, I will be putting them out there - seven things - every Monday.  I may also take full advantage of the material to muse on these things and the process of shedding them.  Be warned.  It may either be as boring as watching paint dry, or it may give you the heebie-jeebies (how much stuff DOES she have, for natssake!)  I expect you all to hold my feet to the fire and to needle me unmercifully if I show signs of slacking off.  I was going to start a page and have it all categorized, but I suffer from ADD, not OCD. 

I will use Facebook, Freecycle, Craigslist, Goodwill, and the curbside (which, for some reason, local folks use with reckless abandon - piling a bunch of junk by the road with a "free" sign on it.  And it sits and becomes a gelatinous pile of unrecognizable flotsam over the months that it is there.  There ought to be a law...), or, finally, the transfer station, my very last choice.

Truth be told, I have been working my way up to this.  In the month of December, I shed a nice little pile of things.  It didn't even make a dent. 

Along with the de-thinging, I am going to shed a few pounds and a few bad habits.  I like to think of the coming new year as the Year of Light(er) and Possibilities.  I have prepared my support systems so that I won't be inclined to backslide as easily as I usually do.  I am also trying not to cram every last bad thing into tonight as if it's the last fun day of my life.  I had to turn away from the potato chip aisle, the chocolate aisle, the adult beverage store.  That's not saying that I don't have enough adult beverages at home to tide me over to the new year.  I. Can. Do. It.

Any other Resolutioners out there?  Do tell.....

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesings (or Monday Musings a Day Late)

I'm still trying to figure out how, when I spend an hour clearing off a surface, less than a day later, someone, SOMEONE, has cluttered it up again.  Dang poltergeist. 

One of these days, I am going to totally give up planning anything.  I had decided to take a vacation day yesterday so that I could get some things done around the house.  I did not have much time over the holiday weekend and I was rather desperate to have some down time.  Hardyharhar.  I had a much later start in the morning due to the afterglow of my sisters descending upon me to form a "Sisters' Day and Overnight Pre-Birthday Bash" on Sunday.  It was a ball!  - face masks, hair masks, hand masks, champagne, lobster, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, music, laughter, movies.  All three of my dogs are depressed - Pepper got to sleep with Aunt Connie and I get the feeling that he thinks it's my fault she is not now living with us.  Pfft.

Anyhoo, late start in the morning but totally worth it.  Planned to swing by and drop off a carton of eggs with my favorite egg customers and make the schlep to Trader Joe's.  Instead, sat and had coffee for an hour with my customer.  Decided to just make my post office run to mail a couple of Christmas (hahahaha) packages only to find that every post office I stopped at took their lunch hour right smack dab in the middle of my free time.

Headed back home and decided to get gas, since I didn't want to gas up on my way to work.  (This was before hearing about the impending ice storm).  While I pumped, I tried to call my hay guy for the sixth time.  Got him!  But I had to act that very afternoon!  Called my neighbor, who also gets hay from my guy, and beat a hasty retreat home.  I managed to let the dogs out and change clothes before my neighbor's truck and trailer came into sight.  Up the mountain we went.  I love my hay guy (I do actually have a crush on him) - he saves hay for me at $3/bale.  He sells to everyone else (except my neighbor because, well, it wouldn't be fair) at $4/bale. That would make quite a difference to my budget.  Then he stores the hay in his barn and helps us load when we need it.  Unfortunately, my neighbor with the trailer has only one speed.  Slow to the point of reverse.  Four and a half hours later, we were wrapping tarps around the hay in his trailer because it was getting dark and said ice storm was coming.  FOUR AND A HALF hours to move 106 bales.  I think the actual loading took a half hour.  The rest of the time was spent in painful ponderous-ness strapping and quadruple strapping the hay to the trailer.  Needless to say, nothing else got done, other than feeding all the furries.  I also discovered, mid-hay-loading, that I had forgotten to remove the egg-of-the-day out of my down vest pocket.  Plus, the weather plummeted from spring-like to raw and frigid and I got so cold it took me hours to warm up.  I had barely enough time to change clothes again and scuttle over to another neighbor's holiday party, where I mumbled a few words, tossed back a glass of wine, ate as many bacon-wrapped scallops as I could grab, and left.  I am not exactly a shining example of the perfect party guest.

Now I am all about my New Year's Resolutions.  I usually am all humbuggy about resolutions, but I think I need to take myself to task this coming year.  If one more wheel falls of this cart, I might as well call it a sled and downhill we will go.  The biggest problem is keeping the list to under 20 resolutions!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Best Christmas present ever!  Meet Daisy, Jasmine's heifer calf born just before the holiday.

May you all get exactly what will make you happy this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Patience is my middle name. Not.

My birthday present arrived!  I can't open it for a week!  (Will she make it?)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Musings

I was grocery shopping with my mother (92) not so long ago and, as we inched up the line towards the cashier, I started looking at the contents of everyone's carts.  Three out of four held 95% processed, packaged foods.  The woman in front of us plopped an endless number of canned, boxed and frozen processed food-like things.  My mother had fresh romaine, fruit, whole grain bread, vegetables.  No wonder she is 92 and sharp as a tack.

I started making The List for 2016 and realized that more than half of the items were carried over from 2015.  Sigh.  One of the things on the list that was moved to the top was to Plan the Garden.  This year was a hodge-podge of reckless abandonment, when it came to planting.  And it showed.  I have already pulled out the binder with my graph paper and I am determined to have it planned no later than the end of February.  Let's hope my focus can hold.

I've also started to think of my resolutions for 2016 and this year I've only got three.  More about those later.

More and more of the people I know are stepping away from the commercial side of the holidays.  I think this may be because we are getting to the age where we have more than we need and don't want more "things".  Even my friends with grandchildren are backing off - because their parents overload them and why over-overload them?  There is nothing more off-putting than watching children rip through piles of gifts, glancing at them and flinging them aside, looking for something better.  Gah.

This year the only overloaded residents of the Little Lucky Farm are four-footed/hoofed.  Santa Jane once again made all their dreams come true.  I came home from meeting a friend for a drink to find a big box on my doorstep.  This sort of threw me because it was Sunday and it wasn't there yesterday, which I thought was Saturday, but now I wasn't sure.  It was a USPS box, so - are they now delivering on Sunday?  Are these the same people who will not cross the road to deliver a package and sit in their car, honking their horn until I am roused to don rain gear and trudge out to get it?

Anyhoo, after I dragged the box in and let the dogs out, I put on the kettle and busied myself with some of the things I ought to have done two weeks ago...  When I let the dogs in, I ignored them for a few minutes until I heard the sound of cardboard - which should not make a sound.  Sure enough, Miss "Nothing Escapes My Nose" Lovey had sunk her fangs in the box and was dragging it off to a quiet corner.  I quickly opened it and stored the goodies.  This morning, I had to count my fingers after dolling out the salmon treats.  Even the sheep and llama (Santa Jane is good to ALL the LLF critters - including me) got special treats.  Norman and Apria almost trampled the fence line in order to get theirs first.

I was hoping for snow for Christmas, but it seems we will be getting spring.  In case I continue in the sloth-like manner (vis a vis posting), I will wish the merriest of Christmases to you all now!  If I manage to drag my carcass to the computer before The Day, I will wish you even more merriment!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gleaning lunch.

While it makes me almost giddy to be able to amble out in the darkish days of December and harvest a salad, it is also appalling.  Count me on the crazy side, but it is wrong - WRONG!  Where is my snow?  Why am I forced to view brownish vistas every stinking morning?  Blech.  I want winter during winter, dammit!

Now that I've calmed down, I will share my surprising little harvest with you.

Volunteer mustard - the plant that keeps on giving.
I may never have to plant it again.  I just have to relax about it growing
where it wants.

Mixed spicy blend in the cold frame.

Kale.  'Nuf said.

Swiss chard has battled through a couple of
freezes and has - so far - eluded the voles.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Musings.

I do wish there was more truth in labeling.  Squash.  I was lulled into a false sense of ease when approaching my buttercup squash.  After wrestling like a crazed sumo with the thing, a more apt name would have been "Alligator Squash" or "Rhino Squash".   Somehow (hahahahaha, snort) I ended up with a bushel of winter squash.  After giving away another half bushel.  I just. can't. help. myself.  It was all I could do to keep my hand from picking up the phone, reading that my favorite winter vegetable stand was closing for the season and had BUSHELS of pie pumpkins for FREE.  But I did sit on my hands until the hysteria passed.  I mean, really.  I had thought about climbing Mount Big Bertha this weekend, but the closest I'll be getting is to continue giving her the google-eyes as I pass by in the cold storage room (aka guest room).  I have mustard to make.  (Colonel Mustard in the Dining Room with a Rope!)

People who think dogs are two dimensional are so limited.  If you spend more than ten minutes with a dog, his/her personality is bound to shine through.  My boy, Scrappy, has an amazing amount of personality - when he wants me to give him something, or come over and hug his noggin, he gives me the big Moo-Moo eyes.  I can feel them on me, even with my back towards him.  And of course, I do whatever he wants.  Lovey is guileless - what you see is what you get.  She wears her emotions on her face, her backside and those ears!  Of course, the Pepperoni is a whole nuther thing.  He is 4 pounds drama and 4 pounds manipulation.

I was roused out of a sound sleep (and a very nice dream, thanks a lot) by the pre-attack cry of an owl.  If you've never heard one, count yourself lucky.  I lay there, in the dark, with my heart pounding.  What must it feel like to be some unlucky small creature, not hearing the danger gliding above you, then, WHAM!  I bet that scream will freeze any prey to the spot.  Guess that's the idea.  All that was left of whatever became dinner was a bit of coarse fur on the deck.

I am having a heck of a time this year, getting into the holiday spirit.  It might be the combination of unseasonably warm weather during the day, followed by tree-cracking cold at night (perfect combination for sap gathering if it were spring.  Which it ain't.)  Or it could be a severe case of the grumps brought on by too much Christmas noise too soon - pre-Halloween, for natssake.  It is probably all of these things, plus something I can't quite put my finger on.  As I get older, I get a longing for a simple celebration of it all.  It's almost, dare I say, a longing for a Hallmark holiday.  This is odd, because I haven't ever had one and I am not the type of person to like sappy stuff.

(Sensitive Souls Alert - proceed with caution if you have good hygiene sensitivities - coughcoughmamapeacoughcough) As I was happily munching away on my from-home lunch recently, my coworker stuck his head around the corner of my office door (I am inconveniently close to the office kitchen and everyone seems to need to tarry around my door - sometimes bringing germs - while their coffee brews) and asked me about my salad.  I had just picked it that morning - December! - and I carefully identified all the greens:  tatsoi, arugula, mustard, kale - and the homemade pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.  I also noticed:  cat hair, dog hair, which I left out of the narrative.  That made me wonder about just how much foreign, non-food matter I ingest in a week.  I shiver to think.  Then, again, I could consider it a free source of fiber...

Friday, December 11, 2015

On the 20+ Question Band Wagon

Here is more than you'll ever need to know about me...

1.  Do you like bleu cheese?  OUI.

2.  Have you ever smoked?  Yes, unfortunately.  Quit 17 years ago.

3.  Do you own a gun?  Is this a loaded questions?  Hehe.  Yes, I do.  Watch your step.

4.  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?  Has to be lime - 'cause it's green.

5.  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?  I've been known to bite.

6.  What do you think of hot dogs?  Love me my Pepperoni...and any natural-type hot dog is okeydokey in my book, as long as it's covered in onions, relish and mustard, eaten outside in lively company.

7.  What's your favorite Christmas movie?  Polar Express

8.  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?  Lattes!  Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

9.  Can you do push-ups?  The only push-ups in my life involved undergarments. 

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry?  My great-aunt's pseudo-engagement ring.

11. What's your favorite hobby?  Knitting!

12. Do you have A.D.D.?  What?  What?

13. Do you wear glasses or contacts?  Glasses to read.

14. What's your middle name?  Carol.

15. What are your thoughts at this minute?  What?  What?  I'm thinking that this is a long list.

16. Name 3 drinks that you regularly consume.  Coffee, tea, adult beverage.

17. What is a current worry of yours?  That I won't be able to retire in four years.

18.  What do you currently hate? Congress.

19.  Where is your favorite place to be?  Home, sweet home, with my doggies.

20. What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?  Not a hotdang thing.

21. To where would you like to travel?  Parts of the USA that I missed while thinking Europe was more interesting.

22. Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their blog.  Carolyn, if she still exists.  Anyone (like me) desperately in need of inspiration!

23. Do you own slippers?  Yes, I do.  And they are totally disreputable, as slippers ought to be.

24.  What color shirt are you wearing?  Black.  Call me Johnny.

25.  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?  Did once, slid off.  So, no.

26.  Can you whistle?  Only managed to once.  In choir.  Mostly, I spit noisily.

27.  What is your favorite color?  See 4.

28.  What songs do you sing in the shower?  I can belt out Joni Mitchell or Adele.  Not that you'd recognize either.

29.  Would you be a pirate?  No, I get seasick.

30.  What's in your pocket right now?  Lint and cat treats.

31.  What's the last thing that made you laugh?  A blog post.

32.  What vehicle do you drive?  2007 Hyundai Tucson- manual, baby.

33.  What's the worst injury you've ever had?  Broke my left ankle.  I now sport 14 screws and a couple of plates.  I can make most security scans very musical.

34.  Do you love where you live?  Sometimes.  I'd love it more if it was not in New York.

35.  Would you change your first name if you could?  Oh, yes.  I have it all picked out.  Imogene.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Decorating Hack

(I bet some/most of you are surprised I knew that term!  Interesting, isn't it, that a word that once meant something sub-standard, now is all the rage.)

While last year's attempt at winterizing my living room windows was a success, it was a marginal success.  I had sewn flannel-lined shades that did, indeed, block most of the cold that vibrated into the room, but they were awkward to fold up and tended to block a lot of the already puny wintery light.

After mulling it around off and on, I came up with another (bright) idea.  Fleece curtains!  While I am sure that there might be some who develop a nervous tic at the mere thought of fleece as window dressing, I managed to find a nice, medium-weight dove gray fleece on sale when my DS Connie and I hit JoAnn Fabrics some weeks ago.  Since there would be a small amount (less than a yard) on the bolt after my purchase, I got a larger discount for buying the whole thing.  Woot!

I decided to make it as easy as possible, with minimum sewing so that, in case it was just awful, I would still have most of the fabric with which to make jammie pants.  It pays to be one step ahead when you know not what you do.

The result?

LOVE THEM.  And they required no sewing whatsoever.  I measured the window, cut them to length, and folded the top over an inch and a half, then cut small slits at regular intervals, through which I threaded the tension rod.  Omg.  They are so warm and cozy and don't look half bad.  As a matter of fact, in order to help Slimbo work through a relapse (this vertigo stuff is never-ending, it seems), I dug out a piece of dark brown fleece with little white paw prints and did the same thing for the cat room window.  When light comes through the little paw prints, it gives the room a rather dappled effect and lets just enough light in that it's not cave-like.  Cool.  Slimbo has rallied, although I am sure it's not because of the curtain or that he's developed a liking to the antibiotic sludge I squirt down his gullet twice a day. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekend Chow

The prep.

Little Hasselbacks.

Chobani was looking for willing participants in their #MadeWithChobani Series (lots of good recipes!) and, while I do make my own yogurt, I rarely have the patience or presence of forethought to make my own Greek yogurt.  Ergo, Chobani.  I use Greek yogurt as a replacement for sour cream.  I use it in my mashed potatoes.  I use it in pancake batter.  So it was an easy yes.   After I dragged my sorry self home through the pea soup fog on Friday night, I was in the mood for comfort food.  Balance and nutrition had absolutely NOTHING to do with my quest for comfort.  I had wanted to make these little Hasselback Tater Tots (find the recipe here) and it seemed like the perfect time to make good on my promise to Chobani and rustle up some little tatery morsels. 

After sifting through the last of my own potato crop, I gleaned a little pile of small potatoes.  They were thoroughly washed and dried, then cut into thin slices just shy of the bottom.  I tossed them with EVO and salt and pepper and put them in a hot oven (425*) for 30 minutes, pulled them out, brushed them with a little more EVO and then back they went for another 30 minutes.  While they were having their crisping up session in the oven, I whipped up a dip - Chobani Greek Yogurt and a heaping tablespoon of Pensey's Green Goddess mix.  I added a titch more garlic and pepper, let the tater tots cool slightly and dipped away.  Heaven!  While I could have used my homemade ketchup, I tend towards the tangy rather than the sweety, so this dip was perfect.  And, yes, I felt MUCH better after consuming a few of these cuties. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Another go at it.

Poor, poor lonely ear warmer...
As the previous winner has seemingly dropped off the edge of the world, I drew winner #2 - Susan from Canada!  Please email your mailing address and I will get it off to you.

Another giveaway is in the works - stay tuned.

On the subject of AFOs (Almost Finished Objects), the Baby Blanket from He(double hockey sticks) is finished - all needs done is weaving in the 100 ends.  Then blocking and wrapping and off it goes to swaddle cutie pie Adrian.  Just in time, too, as the holiday is too-fast approaching and I have a list that looms!

Other than a challenged "B" and a little pattern
lapse, I am satisfied with it.

I've also been plugging away in the processing department.  After spending so many years in terror at the mere thought of pressure canning, I have come to find it's not rocket science.  It also allows me to free up freezer space and populate my (over-stocked) shelves with glorious colors!  I processed two and a half gallons of turkey stock, four quarts of sweet potatoes and three quarts of butternut squash.  Still to rassle with - Big Bertha, my 8 pound Hubbard squash.  She will take an entire weekend, me thinks.
Turkey stock, sweet potatoes and
squash - the possibilities are endless!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Musings.

I celebrated my much-anticipated long weekend by wrestling with the flu.  Sigh.  I can usually fend off most germie afflictions with many daily dosings of Emergen-C, sage honey tea, elderberry tea and rest, but this proved too much for my lagging defenses.  My mind boggles when the germ-spreading party exclaims, "Oh, I HOPE you didn't get this from ME!" after spending the good part of the week horking and hacking across my desk.  No surprise at the outcome, is there?

I have been hemming and hawing about getting a flu shot this year (oops - too late!) but - strain your thinker on this - I got the flu from my co-worker who has a flu shot every year, yet gets the flu every year.  I am not a fan of shots and vaccines, although I do get a tetanus shot, given my propensity to gouge myself with wire at every opportunity.  Plus, I went through my little girl lamb, Hickory's bout with tetanus.  That got my attention.

As I get older, I grow more intent in distancing myself from Western medicine.  Whether this is wise or not, it is what it is.  I am so appalled by the state of health care in this country (world) that I don't want much to do with it.  Somehow, being in touch with your own body, eating healthily, making as much of your own food as possible, getting enough sleep (ha), creating balance - this is what really works as preventative medicine.  When the occasional illness occurs, using non-toxic remedies makes perfect sense.  You don't need three paragraphs of warnings about side effects on your mason jar of sage honey.  As long as you don't spray your calendula blossoms with pesticides, you are good to go!  After living long enough to have arrived full circle on most of the dire warnings put out there by the 'experts' - Chocolate is bad!  Eggs for breakfast will kill you!  No more coffee!  I now feel free to ignore them completely.


So, (hehe) where art thou Catina?  If I don't hear from you by Wednesday this week, I will do a second drawing for the ear warmer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

High on the Ick Scale

My friend, Cynthia (who, almost singlehandedly brought the Randall cattle breed back from the brink of extinction - you can read about her journey here) gave me four pounds of grass-fed beef liver.  Well.  When life gives you that much liver, you make liver treats!

Using a very loosely-goosey recipe, I slurried up the raw liver (hence the Ick) with some of my organic garlic and then mixed it with enough organic raw oats to keep it from oozing off the pan (SUPER ICKY).  After ladling onto two parchment lined pans (eeeeeeuuuw), I baked them at 250 for what seemed like hours, rotating pans, until they were dry-ish.  I cut them into small squares and put them back in the oven for another half hour or so, then turned off the oven and left them to crisp and cool.  Needless to say, windows were opened, damn the frigid temps.  What I won't do for my pups.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Musings. And a Winner.

That sinking feeling you get when you realize you thought the Goodnites Bedtime Pants ads were targeted at you.

I was a cranky baby.  I was a bossy-pants, cranky toddler. I would terrorize my larger, more docile cousin by continually snapping his plastic pants until he'd had enough and would roll on top of me to make me stop. This bossy-pants attitude did not ease up as I grew older, either.  There were after-school dust-ups wherein I ruled mostly because I was an early grower who then stopped.  And all the kids that were smaller than me, where suddenly larger than moi.  Retaliation was painful.  Once I realized I was not going to reach my desired height of six feet, I developed other methods of defending myself.  Twin weapons of vocabulary (fueled by the "Word of the Day" in Readers Digest - "You are a nebulous nincompoop!") and a well-honed acerbic humor served me well for years (and still does).  Now I am just cranky without being combative, and I can't remember most of my big word vocabulary.  That being said, I recently had an encounter that brought me back to grade school.  It involved a representative of the state government that had my hackles raised higher than normal.  He was sitting in his car with a co-worker in one of our paid parking spots.  After I inquired if he was an employee or client of our firm, he assumed an attitude and said, "yes".  I called him on it and he got his whities in a twist and pulled out his 'badge' - he worked for the branch of government that oversees unions or somesuch.  I was so unimpressed that he was spluttering.  After more back and forth that was worthy of a playground repertoire (on both our parts, I may add), he moved his car.  I then trotted in and reported him to the building super.  Shades of me at 9 and 94...

Enough meandering.  The winner of the spiffy blue ear warmer is....

Catina Hoak!  Please email your mailing address and I promise to get it in the mail to you before winter sets in...

More giveaways to come!  (Dental and annual physical appointments are scheduled for next month - lots of waiting = lots of ear warmers!)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ear warmer, anyone?

Besides the Baby Blanket From He(double hockey sticks), I always have a project or five on the knitting needles.  I can cover short waits, long waits, my ridiculously short lunch half-hour.  This often leaves me with a veritable pile of ear warmers.  That got me to thinking - perfect fodder for a giveaway! 

This particular ear warmer is knitted up in a nice medium blue wool (Wool Ease) and is from my favorite pattern from my favorite pattern-maker-upper, Melanie.  It should fit a medium to large-ish head.  Mine is rather large-ish, although I am sure it is not packed with brain cells.  Air?  Marshmallow?

If you would like to be in the running for this ear warmer, leave me a comment below about your favorite winter-time memory (recent or not).  I will announce the winner on Monday, November 23.  Cut off date/time for comments is Sunday, November 22 at midnight.

Good luck!!

Completely unrelated aside - is it just me, or is the entire world beginning all sentences with the word, "So"?  If "so", why?  It's driving me crazy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Feathering ones nest takes on a whole new meaning...

As I was putzing around on Sunday, waiting for my neighbor to come and save me from myself (I had been wrestling with a giant tarp for hours, trying to get it on top of my shed and tacked down for the winter.  What was I thinking?) I decided to clean off the back deck.  This included winterizing my gas grill.

As I pulled the cover off and lifted the lid, two members of the vermin society leapt up and made me scream like a little girl.  They leapt up out of their larger-than-life, heavily feathered mouse condo.  Honestly, I have never seen that many feathers unless they were on the chicken.  It was super-deluxe!  There were little bits of greenery, moss and lichen.  I could just imagine those little, flea-ridden bodies settling in for the winter (can you tell I am not a fan of the vermin society?).  I went inside and got my hazmat suit on, grabbed a trowel and my giant trug.  OMG.  That trug was about 3/4 full of feathers!  The grill is now 3/4 full of moth balls.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Love bug.

This is my great-nephew, Adrian.  AKA the Love Bug.  He is modeling his baby sac with matching hat, knitted by his besotted great-Auntie Sweezie.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


As I wound my way to the dreaded j.o.b. this morning, I switched on my favorite oldie radio station - being between audiobooks.  And got holiday music.  Wha???  There is nothing - NOTHING - that will take the starch out of my love of the holidays more than starting the commercialism before Thanksgiving.  Bah, hemlock.

I thought I would pop up and give you an update as to my antics and those of my various dependents.  I am slowly making headway on my winter prep.  Slow being the operative word.  Given that there are now two hours of daylight at my disposal during the week to get outside things done, I find myself multi-tasking my way out the door, through my chores, and inside again.  It goes something like this:  gather ingrate leftovers, a bucket and leaf rake - head out the door.  Toss leftovers to said ingrates, clean nesting boxes (I am ever hopeful of discovering an egg or five - still waiting), feed, check water, empty hanging flower pot, rake one-quarter of the chicken yard at a feverish pace on my way back to the deck.  Where I quickly open the back door, grab a handful of Norman treats (he doesn't like fruit or anything healthy), then toddle down the other steps (dropping the remains of the potted plant at the foot of the stairs), towards the sheep.  Apples to Icelandics and llama, special treats to Norman, then hot-foot it to the barn for hay.  Put hay in feeder, check water bucket, fill as needed, back to stairs, up and let two out of three dogs (the Pepperoni refuses a third outie) outside for breakneck running (Lovey) and 'watering' of everything upright (Scrappy), while I dump plant remains in compost pile.  A quick jog past the flower beds, filling the bucket, then back in the house and off to work.  Wheehaw! 

I did, however, get the large chicken coop cleaned out last weekend, and have been spending time getting manure raked into nice hills, so that they can compost down to wonderful black gold by spring time.  I've discovered my mustard greens have multiplied all over the place, so I whisk out every once in a while with scissors and basket to cut some.  The voles have not discovered the chard yet - bloody vermin - so I am still able to snip at those.  The curly kale is thriving and I am enjoying that as much as possible.  Our weather has been anything but winter-like.  So far, it's lots of rain, but rain beats snow in my book.  At least until the real start of holidays - mid-December.

Slimbo is coming along.  He still lists to port and his head is cocked at an odd angle, but he is able to get around pretty well.  The only sticky bit is that Lovey has now discovered that there is cat food beyond the baby gate to their room.  At first, she just battered the gate down.  I would come in her wake and brace it up again.  Once I out-maneuvered her on that, she discovered she could easily jump over it.  Sigh.  I was forced to use my brains - ouch - and developed a Lovey-proof system.  Unfortunately, it also freaks Slimbo out, so once he is out of the room, he's afraid to go back.  Which is a problem, as that is where his commode is located.  I had put up a tension rod, about a foot over the baby gate and I hung two little LOUD wind chimes on it.  It scares the bejeebers out of Lovey (and Slimbo) but doesn't phase Kramer the Two Dimensional Cat at all.  It's still a work in progress.

The chickens continue to disappoint.  Linden needs his hooves trimmed (on list), the llama is apple-crazed, the Pepperoni is darn lucky he is so cute, and Scrappy continues to be the Best Dog in the World.

I've got a few dozen things to check off my list by the end of the weekend.  It's either that, or I shoehorn them into my tiny bit of available daylight during next week.  I have a feeling that the other snowshoe will drop at any moment!

Friday, November 6, 2015


I'm already down to 0-2 eggs a day.  I do the happy dance when I discover two eggs in the nesting boxes, pathetic chicken owner that I am.  I know I have some geriatric girls in the flock, but I have more than 30 freakin' chickens!  I mean, really.  I think it must be a solidarity issue - no one lays an egg until the half-nekkid  moulters are back to their feathery selves.  Which, at this rate, will be in the middle of winter, when everything poultry forgets its purpose in life. I am forced to buy eggs from friends who have kind, productive birds - though, I'd rather face that humiliation than eat a store-bought egg.  It's going to be a loooong winter.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Close One

Tuesday night I came home to find Slim(bo) collapsed on the floor of the cat room, panting like a dog.  After frantically searching for the source of his apparent lack of ability to stand, walk or otherwise move his hind end, I put a call into the vet on call.  Unfortunately, it was not "my" vet but one of his cohorts.

Bringing him in was out of the question, as he was in a great deal of distress and if his back was injured, I wasn't about to make it worse.  She did not offer to come to me (heaven forbid) and gave me the number of another vet who did house calls (!!!!!). When I reached her, she was sympathetic but in Tennessee.  More frantic calls to my vet.  Her assessment was paralysis caused by a blood clot and heart trouble.  Slimbo is 5 y/o.  A very poor prognosis.  She gave me yet another number for another vet who provides euthanasia at home.  I call, nearly pass out myself from the cost, tell him to come and gird my loins with a quick shot of JD.  

Slimbo and I wait, me stroking his soft head.  I realize he's stopped panting and is purring mightily.  He still can't walk and howls when I try to get him to stand.  The vet arrives and takes a look at him.  "This cat isn't paralyzed," he says.  He takes out his stethoscope and checks his heart.  Fit as a fiddle.  He looks at his eyes.  Bingo!  Vertigo.  Slimbo gets a pass, I put the vet in a bear hug and (almost) happily part with $110.

I now have to squirt a slurry of puréed cat food and water down his gullet, along with antibiotics twice a day.  Not to mention the tripling of my wash loads...  He seems to be feeling better, as he made it out of his makeshift bed, across the room and wedged himself behind the cat tree.

Either that or he heard me coming down the hall with his morning dose...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fred, Freecycle and Facebook

It was a busy, productive weekend.  At this time of year, it's good to have inside and outside lists, given the vagaries of the weather.  I was rather shocked to find that both lists are almost at the point where they need chapters!  

I had dispatched Fred the rooster last weekend and canned him up - 7 pints broth and three pints meat for me, two and a half quarts of broth and bits for the kids.  I also made three half gallon jars of blueberry kraut - now I have to get the purple stains off my neighbor's pounder...

Neighbors keep dropping off apples so I need to get back in applesauce mode.  It will be good to put away the two big canners and get my kitchen back!

I scored a little one-cup coffeemaker for $3 on Facebook and six potted geraniums on Freecycle!  I am hoping to fob off three of them on unsuspecting friends, as it's getting a little "dense" by the one and only spot that gets good light.  It's downright forest-y!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Another one bites the dust...

Another item on my bucket list, that is!  I have coveted the amazing witch hats crafted by the uber-talented Joyce of Octoberfarm for quite some time.  In the heat of the moment, I confessed via comment that owning one of these beauties had made it onto my bucket list.

Two weeks later, a large and mysterious box was delivered.  

Words escape me, but OMG comes to mind!

The details are divine!

A grasshopper!!!!  Love it!!!!

Needless to say, I am going to have to find myself a party worthy of this hat!

Sunday, October 18, 2015


am not ready for cold, sparkly stuff on my deck!  18* this morning.

Yes, that is laundry on the line.....

We interrupt this vacation...

Talk about hitting the ground's a good thing this was the BVE (best vacation ever) or it would be a dim memory by now.

Chicken Mama (and Tucker) took me to some of their favorite places.

Waterfalls tucked in the woods.

Marshy rivers...

Quiet roads.

Breathtaking views.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What I did on my vacation

I went here first.  I realized that I had not been on a plane for over 10 years!  I'd like to report that there have been no improvements.  It's worse.

Then I picked up the Mighty Blue Machine.

Cute, ain't it?  Over 38 mpg!  I went to a place with red roads.

And spectacular views...

But, best of all, a place with even more spectacular people....

Are you "Pea" green with envy yet?  That's right -- I went to visit Mama and Papa Pea!!!  And that means I got a bonus visit with the lovely (and elusive) Chicken Mama!  

Not surprisingly, we packed a great deal into this, my BEST VACATION EVER!  I will impart highlights of my trip over the week.  Right now, I have to reassure Lovey that I am back to stay.  It took a village to make this happen - that village was my dear sister, Connie.

(Take it away, Mama Pea!)

Monday, October 5, 2015


This is the einkorn bread recipe that I have been using with much success.  It's from "Einkorn / Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat" by Carla Bartolucci.  I would highly recommend having this book in your cooking library, if you are gluten sensitive and a bread lover.

Two Hour Dairy-Free Sandwich Loaf

1-1/4 cups warm water, at 100* F
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
3-3/4 cups all-purpose einkorn flour, plus more for dusting (I use Jovial)
1-1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar and oil.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Stir the yeast mixture into the flour with a stiff spatula until all of the flour is absorbed (einkorn takes longer to absorb liquids - keep stirring!).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 45 minutes.  Generously grease an 8.5x4.5 inch loaf pan.

Heavily flour a work surface and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the work area.  The dough will be quite wet, so add additional tablespoonfuls of flour to work with it.  Knead a few times, then spread the dough out by pulling gently on the edges to form an 8" long oval.  Fold the oval into thirds like a letter, pressing ends in the center.  Stretch, fold and press the top and bottom into the center to form a loaf shape.  Place the dough in the prepared pan and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap (important step, as the dough is still very sticky and if the plastic sticks, it will pull the lift out of your loaf.  Ask me how I know this.)  Let proof for a half hour or until the top of the loaf reaches the edge of the pan.  Preheat the oven to 425*F.

Lower the heat to 375, remove plastic wrap and bake the bread for 40 minutes until browned on top.  Let cool in pan for 15 mins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Let cool for 2 hours before slicing.  This is the most difficult part....oh, that smell....

Store in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Let me know how you like it!

P.S.  I will be 'off the air' for a bit.  I am going to check off an item on my bucket list.... :)  I'll be back next week with the details.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh, just shoot me.

Figuratively speaking, of course.  I have been trying various means of preparing myself for a nice, long, uninterrupted, peaceful, restful night's sleep.  I've had varying degrees of success, ranging from none at all to very little.  :)  Last night I set the stage - no DVD viewing, a nice up of chamomile tea, a quiet job - cutting out Sleep Bunnies.  It should have been perfect.  It was, in effect, perfectly ineffectual.  I was wide awake at 1:30, listening to the pair of owls hooting back and forth - probably checking to see if either was in possession of a crow bar in order to get their talons on my chickens.

By 2:15 I gave up and startled the dogs who groggily staggered to the back door - with the exception of Pepperoni who always thinks my hours are horrendous.  Since I couldn't just sit there, I:

Made a loaf of 2 hour non-dairy Einkorn flour bread
Canned a half-gallon of applesauce
Stared at YouTube for far too long
Worked on my great-nephew's baby blanket
Stared into space
Made a couple of lists
Talked myself out of texting my sister - who, I prayed, was still sleeping and not talking my dad back into the house from his journey to 'work'

I always feel so proud of myself when I accomplish so much in the morning - until I realize, at 2 PM, that I've been up for twelve hours.

Le sigh.

This bread is so easy to make and so wonderfully bread-y and yeast-y! 

This is a very easy recipe with little or
no kneading.

I obviously had to try it to see if it was safe.
Many times.

A new recipe I tried this weekend - a Chard and Sweet Corn Gratin from the NYT August 26th food section (Martha Rose Shulman).  So far, I've had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is going on my "Favorites" list.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 generous bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard, stemmed and washed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2-3 ounces Gruyere, grated (1/2-3/4 cup), to taste (I used cheddar)
Kernels from 2 cooked ears of corn (1-1/2 -2 cups) (I used my uncooked, frozen)
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup) (I used Asiago)

Heat oven to 375 degrees and oil a 2 qt baking dish
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch chard leaves for 1-2 mins until tender but still bright green.  Put in cold water, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Chop.
Heat O/O in medium skillet and add garlic.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant.  Add herbs and blanched chard.  Stir to coat with oil for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir in chard mixture and cheese.  Stir in corn. Put in baking dish, smooth top and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Bake for 35-40 mins until nicely browned.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ding! Ding!

After losing Saturday to a series of events that could have been unfortunate but weren't, fortunately, I was faced with one day in which to cram two days' worth of chores plus my 'zen' time.  (My fourth grade English teacher is spinning in her grave after that convoluted sentence!) Instead of my usual frenetic approach, I decided to use logic (sort of).  Four main "areas" of chores divided by four hours of work time = 1 hour in each area.  I brought out the timer.

That worked pretty well, although an hour seems to go more quickly that I was hoping.  Photos below - very last of the harvest (except for kale and chard) contains green and red tomatoes, a handful of purple beans, two puny cubes, and ripe and non-ripe tomatillos and PEARS.   Pot of beautiful green, yellow and purple tomatillos.  Scrappy doing what Scrappy does best these days.  Pepperoni exhausted from watching me work.  Lovey loves to "help" but any photo of her would be a blur!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Monday Musings and a Winner

At 4:30 this morning I was listening to the strangled sounds coming out of the coop, hoping the roolets come into their voice soon - or that it will get cold enough to close the windows.  Curse me!  It was 38 degrees!

I was thinking today how much fear prevents us from truly enjoying life.  It's like Marley's chains - acres of them, forged from big and little fears.  Okay, I'M the one clattering around here.  Time to pull out the bolt cutters.

My dependents are trying to kill me.  They must have had a peek at my will.  I put all the dog toys away before bed so I won't trip over them at o'dark thirty in the morning. This morning I tripped over "foxy", then "squirrelly", then the throw rug (mysteriously moved across the kitchen floor), before I reached the light.  Then Kramer dropped to the counter from the top of the cabinets.  I didn't even need coffee to get me jump started.


Random Number Generator picked... Hoosier Girl!  Woot!  Send me your mailing address and your winnings will be in the mail this week!

Monday, September 14, 2015


As we are all (well, most of us) canning our little hearts out, I thought it would be apropos to do a little giveaway.

I have one copy of Jackie Clay's book, "Growing and Canning Your Own Food".  An extremely thorough book that covers some basic growing information, as well as the how-to on canning just about everything you can imagine.  The only thing I find missing in this book is an index - it would have been helpful.  However, that being said, it's easy enough to follow.

If you would like to be part of this little giveaway, please leave a comment about canning below.  Open to readers in the US only - I apologize to my Canadian and Beyond friends.  Deadline for comments is Friday at midnight.  I will announce the winner on Monday next.  Good luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Greetings from Crazyville!

It's an understatement to say that I'm not sure what day it is.  I seem to have lost all normal reference.  The Universe is shoveling on the chaos but we seem to be holding our own.  Lots of back and forth, trips north, trips to the train station, trips to doctor appointments - with some frantic canning squeezed in between.  It may be chaotic, but my Italian prune plums don't give a damn.  Neither do the boatload of ripening tomatoes.

I've managed to can my yearly quota of salsa - I tried a different recipe this year and I LOVE it!  Since I am usually challenged (snort) by recipes that call for 40# of produce, the resulting 55 quarts of canned goods languishing on my shelves for years - I decided to buy a book by Food in Jars that deals with small quantities and has really unique and wonderful-sounding recipes.  I'm thinking this little book is worth its weight in gold.

New to me this year - Cantaloupe Jam, Spiced Plum Jam and Basic Salsa.  Yum, yum, yum.  I ended up making a triple batch of the salsa because I liked it so much.

Only the pickled green tomatoes/tomatillos and canned, chopped tomatillos remain to be processed.  I will dehydrate everything else.  The drought of the past couple months has taken it's toll on my garden and pretty much everything is toast.  Even my kale, which is usually pretty sturdy stuff.

I have been running the portable air conditioner for the dogs during the worst of the heat.  I took pity on the Pepperoni and toted him along as a Therapy Dog yesterday.  He adores his Auntie Connie and thrives on mind-numbing petting sessions.  Perfect therapy for Dad.  I took my mother to a doctor appointment and he languished in their air conditioned house, being fed treats and getting all kinds of attention.  Poor laddie.  :")

We're getting into the sticky bits of the merger at work - all IT platforms and systems will be changed.  Right in time for a reporting period - one of my more hysterical moments of the year.  What is it they say?  What doesn't kill you will make you strong?  I may emerge from all of this as Hercules little sister.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There is always a bright spot (or three)!

Linden, the sweetest sheep on Earth.
When he isn't busting gates and fences.

Juno, my little Good 'n Plenty.

Stormin' Norman
Sometimes you have to look a little harder for a bright spot in dark times, but sometimes they are right there in front of you.  The flies are bad this week - hot and humid, with no rain or relief in sight.  As I feed the sheep and llama their apples and pears, I take the opportunity to daub on SWAT - the only thing I have found that keeps the flies from their eyes.  I missed getting a photo of Apria - let's just say she looks like a member of a woosie tribe - three little streaks of pink.  Pears or not, she does not like anyone touching her face. 

Another bright spot is that finally - FINALLY - the little hens are going in their coop at night.  It only took THREE FREAKIN WEEKS.  I have never had such a time getting pullets to head for home at night.  They finally 'saw the light', as it were, and now go right in as soon as I turn the light on.  I now have to get them to the point where they don't need a light - that should only take a month or two - and then I have to transition them into the big coop.  Heaven only knows if I can get that achieved before the snow falls.

And another bright spot - I had read an article about Einkorn wheat, that it was an un-hybridized, natural, ancient wheat that had a very simple gluten that seemed to be tolerated by people who could not tolerate today's adulterated wheat gluten.  So, I took a deep breath and baked up a loaf.  The smell of baking, yeasty bread almost brought me to tears.  I had a tomato sandwich and waited.  Four days later, there have been no ill-effects.  This is wonderful news, although I won't be baking a lot of it - I don't want to tax my system and it is difficult to find and expensive.  But, still, the occasional loaf is now in my future.

I continue to make small headway into my processing - another batch of tomato sauce is in the slow cooker - but I better ramp up my efforts.  I have a pile of grapefruit-sized tomatoes teetering on the edge of over-ripe-ness!