We got drop-in company as soon as I cleared the breakfast dishes off the table, and right before I was going to make my morning latte and sit and knit while sipping. (Cripes, I was lucky I wasn't still in my sexy [not] flannel nightie.)
The new brake lines ordered to repair our old Suburban were the wrong ones so husband made an appointment to meet with auto parts store guy in town today to try to figure out what were the right ones to reorder. When he got there, auto parts guy was gone for lunch because he'd been so busy earlier he'd had to work through his normal lunch hour.
I planned on getting several loads of throw rugs washed today. I completely forgot about them out on the deck where they had been shaken.
There is a half finished baby quilt I need to have completely finished by 1 p.m. Thursday. It ain't gonna happen.
We had about ten minutes of gorgeous snow this morning. It stopped. We never got anymore even though we were forecast to get a few inches which we hoped would help cover some of our acres of ice and frozen bare ground.
I made burgers for dinner and mine hit my stomach like an unchewed rock. I may have to resort to drinking some peppermint tea. (I hate peppermint tea, but it always makes my tummy ache go away.)
You can't make it in or out of our driveway without risk of life and limb (and vehicle) because of one uphill or downhill (depending on which direction you're going) section which rivals the bobsled course in Vancouver.
It's a little on the cool side in the house. We're attempting to burn up some punky wood I tried to convince my husband not to waste the time cutting last summer. While burning, it gives off a little less heat than a kleenex. He's now convinced I was right.
I forgot to take butter out of the freezer for the new recipe for Apricot Bars I wanted to bake tonight.
The temperature outside is dropping rapidly and there is a howling wind that I think is trying to tell us something.
A new book I really, really wanted isn't available from the library. I got a notice saying it's "too new" and I should try ordering again in 3-6 months. (I will have lost the urge and forgotten all about it by then.)
I spoiled my absolutely-nothing-between-meals eating regimen by attacking a bag of pretzels this afternoon. (That's probably where my guilt-induced stomach ache has come from.)
As you can see, my life is simply crumbling around me. I think the only sensible thing to do the rest of the evening is to sit in front of the TV (wrapped in a quilt) and zone out on the Olympics.
My folks were both dyed-in-the-wool coffee drinkers. "No cream or sugar, thank you, I'll take it strong and black." When my brother and I turned coffee drinking age, Mom and Dad started to question if we'd both been switched at the hospital after birth because neither of us liked coffee.
Years later, enter into the picture my husband who loves coffee. I'm sure he was set on his wayward path by his aunt who started putting a blop of coffee in his milk when he was about four. If he weren't concerned about the health risks of over-caffeinating himself, he would be one of those people who would have a mug of java in his hand all day long. But he's sensible and limits himself to one, maybe two cups in the morning and now and then another one in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. (Good boy!)
When he and I married, I tried drinking coffee in the morning with him because, let's face it, it does smell wonderful, but I never really cared for the taste even doctored with cream and sugar.
Then several years ago with the advent of gourmet coffee shops and specialty coffee drinks, I discovered lattes. Oh my. Now that I liked! Even in our little burg of a town, someone opened a coffee shop, and I found myself inventing excuses to go into town to get a latte. (Bad turn of events.)
My husband quickly decided (rational thinker that he is) it would be far more economical to purchase an espresso machine for our home so I could have my daily latte without driving unnecessary miles and spending obscene amounts of money on my newly acquired habit.
So I picked out a very simple machine, about the least expensive one on the market that was still well rated. Various people told me not to waste the money on such a rinky-dink espresso maker. Even the manufacturer said that a machine in that price range ($99.00) shouldn't be expected to last more than a year.
Sorry, I didn't want to make any more of an investment than that. How much would I actually use it? I didn't know. But it was easy to figure out that the little machine would pay for itself in a matter of months (assuming I did use it) so I went ahead and blew a hundred bucks on it.
Did I like and use it? I LOVED it and made myself a latte every morning to start the day. How long did that machine last? One year and two weeks. Sent it back to the company hoping it could be fixed. It couldn't. (Or so they said. How would I know?) But I was hooked by then, so I bought another identical machine.
Unfortunately, that one didn't function at all. Wouldn't work. Period. I don't know what was wrong with it (damaged in shipping?), but I sent it back and received a replacement. To date, that one has lasted over four years. Yup, that's right. FOUR YEARS! So even if it were to conk out on me tomorrow, I'd say I've gotten more than my money's worth out of it. And then some.
Nearly every morning, I make myself a latte to start the day.
I add flavored syrup to the milk before frothing it, but only 1/2 an ounce rather than the full ounce (too sweet!) you get in coffee shops.
Ooooh, look at all the luscious foam!
Wonderful coffee aroma but no bitterness . . . just smooooth, creamy flavor, comin' right up.
Slurp, slurp. I'm starting to salivate now . . . I can't wait any longer.
I have trouble with days when I feel that I haven't accomplished much. Like today. Today started off badly when I went to bed last night. Huh?
Well, it was like this. Got into bed around 11 PM but wasn't sleepy. Tossed and turned and contemplated getting up to read or do something constructive but knew if I did, I wouldn't come back to bed for a couple of hours and then I'd have to sleep late this morning in order to get my (much needed) beauty sleep and feel good today.
So what did I do instead? Laid in bed until close to 2 AM tossing, turning, trying to keep my mind from wandering to worrisome topics. Then when I finally drifted off to sleep, I had one bad dream after another. And what time did I wake this morning? Right before 9. I'd say I slept late anyway.
Because I'm a morning person, this immediately signaled a bad start to the day for me. I felt behind before my feet hit the floor. I've read that the hours you sleep before midnight are the most beneficial, and for me, I know that's true. So last night was not a good one. Between my frustration of not being able to fall asleep and the monsters chasing me in my dreams when I finally did, I've spent the day feeling very tired and lacking enthusiasm for . . . anything.
I think it would have helped if it had been another sunny day, but that wasn't in the cards either. After lunch I thought if I took a walk out to get the mail the fresh air would do me good. I returned with tensed muscles counting myself lucky to have made it back in one undamaged piece. Our half mile driveway is not only still covered in ice, but now has a film of water on top of the ice. I could have made it more safely if I'd laced on my ice skates.
Remarkable as it seems, I did manage to cook up a big pot of black beans this morning with the intent of making chili. (Hubby does not care for kidney beans so I make black bean chili most of the time.) Then I realized that I had no green pepper, and in my book, chili isn't chili without some green pepper.
Nor did we have any fresh greens with which to make a salad to accompany our spaghetti for dinner tonight. For the spaghetti sauce, I planned on using a jar of commercial sauce, something I rarely do, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I knew I had seen a jar of it on a back shelf of the pantry. Yeah, right. Do you think I could find it? Apparently, the dog must have eaten it one night when we were out.
I did think about a trip to town to purchase the needed items, but that just seemed to require too much effort.
Oh, woe is me. What did our (dubious) heroine Scarlett always say? Tomorrow is another day? (Actually, I think she said, "I'll think about that tomorrow.") Fortunately, our whole foods co-op in town is open on Sundays so if I can get my head on straight yet tonight, I'll make my list and be in there to shop when they open in the morning. I've even already pulled out the recipe for hubby's favorite Cranberry Coffee Cake to make tonight (uh-oh, better check the ingredients) so we have a special treat to start the day off with tomorrow.
I've positioned a baseball bat by the side of the bed with instructions for my bed partner to kindly conk me over the noggin with it if I'm not asleep within ten minutes of crawling into bed tonight.
Who knows, maybe the sun will shine again tomorrow. Even if it doesn't, I know I'll have a better day.
My better half and I (plus our faithful canine companion) took a hike up around our loop in the woods yesterday. We had beautiful sunshine all day, and it felt more like a day in late March than just past the middle of February.
A shot of me heading into the deep woods.
The woods are absolutely riddled with deer trails . . . and other signs of the critters.
We've had so little snow that we've been able to hike the trail all winter without snowshoes. In the picture above, Zoey the Wonder Dog is standing on the trail where you can see that roots and rocks are free and clear of snow in many places.
When we got to the top of the ridge, we decided to hike a little farther east and went over to our neighbor's property.
They hunt deer in the fall and this is the cool deer stand they've built. I love the looks of it. Reminds me of a food cache in the Alaskan wilderness.
Our neighbor is in the construction business so he's used some of his machinery to clear the land up near the top of the ridge and has planted clover there for the deer to feed on in the summer.
When we came back to the house in early afternoon, this was the temperature in our someday-greenhouse. And that was with the door standing open all morning.
It seems all of a sudden we're getting so much more warmth from the sun and days are visibly lengthening. I've been having trouble getting dinner on the table on time these nights because I keep waiting for it to get dark to start preparations. Get with the changing season, Mama Pea!
In her blog post today, Jordan over at Blueberry Hills Homestead asked the question, " . . . do you read any well-written blogs about sustainability or homesteading? Or put another way - what are your favorite blogs that you read because you like the writing?"
First off, I want to say that I am continually amazed by how well most blogs are written. Talk about the talent out there! I am so seriously intimidated by the excellent writing that I frequently consider chucking my own feeble blogging attempts because my writing can in NO WAY measure up to most of what I read on other blogs.
But back to the question. There is one blog I read that fits the criteria set forth by Jordan. It is written by someone who manages to touch something deep in my soul with every blog she posts. She is MaineCelt and her blog is CowGaels in Tir na Blog.
Her way with words is simply unbelievable. I am sure she is receiving some kind of divine assistance when she writes. That's the only explanation I can come up with, and I wanna go on record right now in stating it's just not fair to the rest of us, dang it.
I wish I could describe what it is about her writing that affects me so much. I simply cannot put it in words. (If I were a better writer, maybe I could!) At any rate, nearly every time I read one of her posts, I find myself with tears in my eyes. It is that beautiful. Sometimes her quirky sense of humor brings me to tears of laughter. But always I am awestruck by the way she can write . . . with her ability to put written words on the page in the very unique, magical way she does.
So, Jordan, that's my answer to your question of a blog I read because I like the writing. And an added plus to pique your interest? MaineCelt writes about sustainability and homesteading.
My daughter used to love eating at Red Lobster. She may still love eating at Red Lobster but who has money for eating out anymore? Anyway, being a bread kinda gal (even when she was small, if given the choice between a cookie and piece of good bread, she'd go for the bread), she took it upon herself to replicate the recipe for the biscuits they serve with their meals. (This was years ago, and also years ago since I've personally eaten at a Red Lobster so I don't even know if these biscuits are currently being served.) No matter. I've got the recipe she worked up and with her blessings am going to share it with you.
Dear Husband has a friend over today helping him with a project in the garage, and I wanted a nice lunch for the guys so they could remain big and strong and work through the afternoon. I defrosted some thick, hearty lentil soup with spicy sausage I had in the freezer (that wasn't too hard) and made some Garlic Cheese Biscuits (Red Lobster knock-offs) to go with the soup. Plopped a bowl of my dill pickles on the table and we were good to go.
GARLIC CHEESE BISCUITS
2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 cup butter 3/4 cup grated yellow cheddar cheese 1 clove minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 cup milk
Combine the first four ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is uniformly crumbly.
Add the grated cheese, minced garlic and garlic powder. Then mix in milk. Stir just until mixed thoroughly. Batter will be very stiff. (Try not to over-work it.)
With your hands, form patties (a good inch thick) like you would hamburgers. Place on greased cookie sheet. (Chicken Mama makes 8 big biscuits but I prefer mine a little smaller. I got 11 out of this batch but if I had been more careful about uniformity in size, I could have gotten 12 with no problem.)
We moved from Illinois up here to Minnesota the summer our daughter turned two. Our first winter, we were living in an uninsulated trailer and ill prepared for the bitterly cold weather. It also snowed a lot and the mile and a half gravel road to our homestead which was primarily uphill from the main road was snow-packed and icy for many months. Not only was it a challenge to get up the road that winter, but also exciting going down because of the twists and turns and slipperiness.
One day I had to make a town run. I had a long list which included grocery shopping and stopping at the laundromat to wash and dry clothes.
When we relocated that previous summer, we brought animals with us. We moved two dairy goats, a donkey and our dog. Our chickens came, too, but they made the trip in the freezer. The freezer also contained as many vegetables as I'd been able to put up from our Illinois garden that summer. That we had a garden at all that year was a miracle since we made a total of nine round trips moving our animals, household items, farm machinery and tools. Each trip was twelve hours and six hundred miles one way. My mother wanted to keep our daughter that summer, but we insisted she stay with us. The little kid was an excellent traveler and had more miles on her odometer than most two year olds by that fall.
Anyway, back to the freezer. We had friends in town who generously offered to let us store our full freezer in their garage since we had no electricity on our property.
Whenever I went to town, I would stop for a visit with these friends and bring home a shopping bag full of food from the freezer.
I had gone to town early that frigid morning because I wanted to be home at noon time to give fresh (unfrozen) water to the animals. Also, our daughter was still taking a long nap in the afternoon so I wanted to get her fed lunch before putting her down for her nap.
She and I were heading home in our Volkswagen Beetle a little before noon with a very full car. My Little Chickie (Chicken Mama to-be) was belted into the passenger seat next to me. This was (prehistoric times) before car seats for toddlers were required and common. The back seat was stuffed nearly to the roof with several baskets of clean laundry, bags of groceries, books from the library, miscellaneous shopping, frozen goods from the freezer, etc. Luckily, I had left the dog at home (she was thirteen at the time) because it was so cold, and I knew I might not have room for her after stocking up.
I stopped at the foot of our side road to get the mail out of our mailbox which was on the main road. Then I did something stupid. I didn't put my seat belt back on for the mile and a half trip to our homestead.
I was most likely going a little faster than I should have been. I was singing at the top of my lungs and trying to keep Little Chickie singing with me so she wouldn't fall asleep before we got home. We were about half way there when I hit a slick spot and did a 180° turn on the road. Then the car started sliding sideways toward a fairly steep ditch which was (good thing) filled with snow.
We had been having trouble getting the driver's door of the car to shut securely because of ice build-up somewhere in the latching mechanism. As the car slid sideways toward the ditch, the door flew open. Then I did something else stupid. Mother's instinct I suppose, but I let go of the steering wheel and turned in my seat to grab Little Chickie. She, being securely belted in and wearing approximately four layers of clothing, a snowsuit, a hat, a hood, a scarf, boots and two sets of mittens, didn't budge. But I went backwards out the open door trying to stop myself by spreading my legs. I had a very large, colorful bruise the whole length of both outer thighs so I knew I made an attempt to keep from being thrown out.
I was so fortunate that I landed in the snow about three feet from where the car landed at a 45° angle in the ditch. I remember scrambling through the waist high snow on my hands and knees to reach Little Chickie still securely belted in her seat.
I said, "Are you all right?"
She gave me a look that said "what the heck did you just do, Mama?" and replied with a little nod of her head, "Yeah."
Well, with no little effort I got her unbelted, out of the car and stood up on the road. Then I realized half of the contents of the car were strewn around in the snow-covered ditch. I spent a while picking up and throwing back into the car everything I could dig out of the snow. Then we began our trek home.
It was slow going (and cold!) while I was carrying Little Chickie and even slower when I had to put her down to walk for a while. But eventually we made it home, I gave her a little lunch and she immediately went down for her nap. (Nothing like a brisk hike in the fresh air to poop a little one out.)
I called the nearest garage with a tow truck and asked if he could come pull the Volkswagen home. Later that afternoon when he came in the yard, he said after extricating the car from the snow, he noticed various objects underneath where the car had been in the ditch. The dear man took the time to gather all he could find. He said it was like a treasure hunt . . . a package of lamb chops, frozen peas, a pot roast, corn, a chicken, beans, various pieces of (clean) underwear, and a box of pretty much smashed crackers.
Unbelievably, because the car landed in deep snow, it didn't even have a dent. The door, although bent back against the front wheel, was repaired and worked fine after that. I had nothing but the bruises, and my little trussed up, well-padded passenger didn't suffer any harm at all.
That was the first and last time I ever slipped driving up and down that road for the next fifteen winters. I may have made a couple of bad mistakes, but I did learn from them.
Even though quilting is my passion and I'd have to choose that over anything else if I were told I had to give up all kinds of handwork but one, knitting is more relaxing for me. Lately, at the end of a day, sitting in front of a fire with my knitting needles and yarn has been feeling pretty good.
About a month ago a good friend, who is a knitter extraordinaire, was knitting herself a warm, winter scarf in an intriguing and lovely pattern. She explained she had seen the stitch in a book of different knitting patterns and thought it would work up well in a scarf. It was called the Berry Stitch.
She wrote the pattern out for me on an index card and said it was really easy to do. I eagerly cast on some nice cotton yarn I had. It only took me three tries to figure out the stitch (some of us are slower learners than others), but once I had it, I was off.
I wanted my scarf to be much narrower than hers and to be more of an accessory worn with an outfit rather than for warmth.
The thing I really like about this pattern is that it looks nice on the backside, too.
I think you can see the "berry" feature of the stitch a bit better on the above shot.
The yarn I used is actually more of a gold color than I was able to capture. I took 12 pictures in various locations trying to get a truer color representation, but none of them turned out any better than the ones posted above. Oh well, I think the idea was to show the knitting pattern more than the color of the yarn. Now I'm starting another one in a gorgeous, deep electric blue. And my daughter just picked out some more yarn for me to make one for her. Her choice is a deep rust color.
Hope I don't run out of evenings in front of the fire before I can finish the next two scarves!
Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight jar. Use 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of mixture for every pound of ground beef.
I think it tastes every bit as good as the purchased taco seasoning. It's very simple to mix together, stores well, is cheaper than purchasing it at the grocery store and you eliminate the packaging involved for each serving.
It was only 3-4", but at least it was enough to cover the ground.
This is a picture taken in approximately the same spot as the first one I posted in my last entry while complaining about the lack of snow.
And this is another shot of the second picture in that previous post.
You can see the difference, can't you? Sure ya can!
We have bright, blue skies and sunshine today but about 65 miles south of us they are reported to be in white-out snow conditions with already 12" on the ground. We would have liked to have gotten a bit more here, but at least our precipitation wasn't rain this time around so we're thankful for that.
At this time of the year, we usually have our maximum amount of winter snow on the ground.
This is a random shot taken to the right of our driveway going through the woods.
Another picture taken off to the left.
We don't even have total ground cover, for heaven's sake! A whole lot of bare ground lying out there exposed to the elements. (One of them not being snow!)
The right side of the above picture shows a small storage structure in our back work area. On a normal snow year, you would see a narrow walking path kept shoveled so we can gain entry into the storage building.
This illustrates how very little snow on the ground makes it much harder this winter to keep the house consistently and uniformly warm. You're looking at the very back, north-facing part of the house, and usually we would have a wide, heavy bank of snow up against the house to about the level of the bottom of the right hand window. Snow really does insulate! (As an old saying goes, snow is the poor man's insulation and the poor man's fertilizer.)
The level of snow we have on the ground right now is comparable to what we normally see when most of the winter's snow is rapidly melting in April. So is this February 6th or April 6th?
One thing for sure . . . there's no way of changing the whims of Mother Nature.
I know it's a problem with most everyone these days. We have so many choices of what we want (or have) to do with our time. I'm a fairly organized person, keep moving all day long, and believe I'm efficient, but my desires of things I want to get done in a day's time sure do exceed the hours in the day. Seems no matter how fast I go, I come to the end of each day thinking there was so much more 1) I thought I would get gone, and 2) wanted to get done.
Do you ever have the desire to not stop at night? Just keep going doing some of the things you want to do right on through the night time hours when you could/should be sleeping? Would that provide the "extra" hours to do some of my wanna-dos? I've actually been contemplating trying that lately.
Well, I suppose we all know the pay back for such a plan. Not only would I look like something the cat dragged in the following day, but I'd feel like it, too. I sure don't need to do anything that will make me grumpier. I'm cranky enough as it is over this "never enough time" thing.
However . . . I think I just might have come to an intelligent revelation recently.
Being overly concerned about "doing for others" is what I'm coming to realize is a bad habit that eats up (devours!) a lot of my time. If I spend my time making another person's load lighter by helping out in some way, sure I'm being a "good person" but it also takes up time that I could be spending doing something that might give me more joy and satisfaction. No, I'm not advocating becoming a selfish jerk or unfeeling hermit, but rather talking about a finding a healthy balance. (Healthy is the key word here in my case.)
For instance, the reason I can finagle the time to write this blog post tonight is because I'm not doing the dishes for my husband. He left tonight to go work on a special project in the garage of a friend. Right before he left, he said, "Don't do the dishes . . . I'll do them when I get home."
I replied, "But you'll be home so late and I know you won't feel like tackling them then."
"No problem," he said cheerfully. "Really, I'll do them."
Now in the past I've always felt it was the "right" thing to do to have the dishes all done when he arrives home tonight. But really, that's a self-defeating, martyr-ish, foolish way for me to be. He truly won't mind doing the dishes. He'll put on an audio book tape, enjoy listening to it while doing the dishes and it'll probably give him time to wind down from his evening out before bed.
By me not taking the time to do the dishes, I have the opportunity to sit down and do this writing which I truly enjoy.
There ARE ways to change things in my life . . . if I can keep an open mind and be willing to try doing things a little differently. I'm really good at keeping my nose to the grindstone, plodding along in my little rut. Time to climb out, look up at the sky and say, "What changes can I make that will make me feel better so that I'm a nicer person to live with/be around?"
It's the concept of change that's difficult for me. Even a change for the better doesn't feel comfortable at first because it's new and different. Just because I've done something the same way most of my life doesn't make it the best or only way it can be done.
It continues to be a battle, but I'm determined to prove to myself that it's never too late to make some changes.
Subconsciously I think I'm choosing oven meals to prepare these cold, winter days. Doesn't hurt one bit to have the oven adding a little warmth to the kitchen. So different than in the good ol' summertime when lighting the oven is avoided like the plague.
This oven baked casserole is fairly unusual, but one we really like. Simple name: Pineapple Casserole.
If you don't care for pineapple, you might as well stop reading now. But if you have nothing against this funny looking Hawaiian import, I'm almost positive you'll feel the same way I do about this side dish which, by the way, goes really well with ham.
The first time I made it (November 14, 1988 . . . I'm sure you wanted to know), I wrote on the recipe, "AB-solutely DELICIOUS! Very unique flavor - you want more and more and more."
Okay, now that I've got you all sufficiently primed, here's the recipe.
1/2 cup sugar 3 tablespoons flour 3 beaten eggs 1 - 20 oz. can unsweetened crushed pineapple 4 slices white bread, cut into 1/2" cubes 1/2 cup melted butter
In a mixing bowl combine sugar, flour and beaten eggs. Stir in pineapple along with the juice and mix well.
Pour into a buttered casserole dish, about 9" square. Top with the cubed bread.
Drizzle melted butter over the bread cubes. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for one hour. Serves 6-8.
This is the casserole right out of the oven.
Pineapple Casserole is at the very top of the plate. (Not to be confused with neighboring scalloped potatoes on the right.)
Gotta tell ya, folks, this oven meal -- Scalloped Potatoes, Baked Ham and Pineapple Casserole -- not only added a nice touch of warmth to the kitchen, but smelled and tasted really good, too.
I live with my husband on a small homestead in Northeastern Minnesota. Our daughter (Beyond the Fork in the Road) currently lives in a small cabin in the woods not too far from us.
Our place is located outside a small tourist town and a two and a half hour's drive from the nearest big city. Trips to the city are infrequent, well-planned, and exhausting!
We currently raise chickens and have hives of honey bees. Raising some of our meat and most of our fruits and vegetables is a priority for us; so, along with our birds for meat and eggs, we have fruit trees, berry patches and a huge vegetable garden.
Quilting is my passion, and I could happily spend each day in my quilt studio if I weren't happily spending each day out in the garden. Good thing we have winters up here; Mother Nature helps keep my life balanced.
Home and Household Manager (Highly-Skilled Domestic Engineer)
Wife of Retired School Teacher (I Really Enjoy Having Him Home)
Mother of Grown Child (I Am So Proud of Her)
Fanatic Gardener (So Many Seeds, So Little Summer)