Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And It Ain't Over Yet

Almost three o'clock in the afternoon and we just came back in from mushing out to get the mail from our box on the highway. Okay, so we drove our trusty little 4-wheel drive Toyota but we could have taken a dog team out. We have a good 6" of very heavy, wet snow that is coming down in what looks like tiny styrofoam balls.

View out our front deck. The birds obviously have heard this is supposed to keep up all night because they're chowing down in preparation. There's also lots of wind with the storm so I would imagine that makes it a little more difficult for them to hang on to their perches all night.

The trees alongside the driveway are heavily coated.

That's me with the mail I've just retrieved from the other side of the totally snow covered highway directly behind me.

We stopped to feed the critters when we got back in. I think I heard a goose mumble something about being sure he saw some grass to munch on just yesterday.

Our neighbors are due home tomorrow from a week's vacation so I'm thinking Roy will be doing a little snow plowing next door either tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Monday, March 30, 2009

First Garden Pictures of 2009

The title of this post is stated with tongue in cheek. Just came back in from snapping these shots of my garden. Thought it would be a good time to document the snow melt as of the end of March since the weather gurus are still telling us we're going to get pummeled with those white flakes again tonight and tomorrow.

This is the most uncovered of my garden beds.

Looking across the vast, snow-covered wasteland of my field garden.

The pumpkin patch is still about two-thirds covered with snow. You can see the brown yard grass beyond.

And lastly, here is one of our plum trees doing a good imitation of "Plum Tree in Winter.”

What will these same shots look like a month from now? Probably pretty muddy and wet (and not yet workable) but hopefully with no snow in evidence!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Say It Isn't So

I just checked the latest update on the snowstorm supposedly heading our way. My husband is in the kitchen doing up a batch of dishes (what did I do to deserve him?) so I hollered the latest news to him. "Great," he said, "nothing like a little storm to end the season with.”

Snow is predicted to start tomorrow night, go through Tuesday, Tuesday night and taper off during the day on Wednesday. A total of somewhere in the range of 7-14" is predicted. When we first moved up here some 35+ years ago, I remember some of the old-timers telling of years in the 1930s when the last snows of the season came in the month of May. Omigosh.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm an old-fashioned Betty Crocker wanna-be and usually do laundry on Mondays, the traditional clothes washing day of the week. Well, because of planned activities for this coming week that I won't bore you with now, I washed today instead. The day also happened to be the first full day of sunshine we've seen in what seems like forever and I came 'bout this close to hanging the laundry outside for the first time this year. But then good sense kicked in when I looked at the thermometer and decided 36 degrees, sunshine or no, was rushing it a little. Besides that, I string my clotheslines across our large front deck and the three dogs were happily stretched out there soaking up the sun most of the day. Hanging clothes would have meant stepping over and around them multiple times and I've had enough of that lately inside the house. On second thought, it would have been fun to take a picture of clothes flapping in the sunshine on the line outside on Sunday and another picture of the deck covered in 14" of snow on Tuesday. Shoot, missed that photo op.

Granddogs Maisy and Tucker are going home tonight as daughter and FSIL are nearing home as we speak. They put in a long day today driving from the southwestern most tip of Minnesota to the northeastern most tip. We last heard from them when they were about 2-1/2 hours away and they're very glad to be back in home territory. Our daughter has had to do all the driving (from Arizona) because of FSIL's injuries. Unfortunately, it's not been a comfortable trip for him. Hopefully now that he'll be home in his own surroundings and own little beddie-bye, he can start healing more quickly. Life surely does keep throwing little glitches in your path that you never expect or can plan on. Sorta like the possibility of 14" of snow at the very end of March. Which admittedly is nothing to deal with compared to a badly broken clavicle, six shattered ribs and one collapsed lung.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Yesterday I . . .

. . . got out of bed earlier than I wanted to.

. . . had a radical change of plans as to the structure of my day.

. . . had a wonderful breakfast at a friend's restaurant with time to chat with her.

. . . stopped in at the little post office in the part of the county where we first lived when we moved up here --- nostalgia, homesickness --- waaaah.

. . . made a huge pot (vat!) of chili -- used the proportions for the recipe I made when I had the restaurant.

. . . cleaned the whole stove top, wall behind stove and side of refrigerator --- chili burbled a little too vigorously at one point.

. . . went to our local library, never have enough time to leisurely spend there --- I love that place.

. . . was getting anxious for our two granddogs to go home so I can thoroughly clean --- three dogs equal too much dog hair in one house.

. . . ate too much --- and realized I don't feel well when I eat too much.

. . . did an errand my husband was planning on doing which prompted him to say, "Aww, what a sweetie!”

. . . procrastinated yet again and avoided for another day balancing the checkbook and reconciling bank statements.

. . . thought about our daughter and FSIL about a hundred different times wondering if they were still snowbound in Colorado.

. . . failed to call and make two appointments I should have.

. . . delivered eggs on my daughter's egg route.

. . . wondered how anyone with a personality equivalent to that of a can of worms could get and keep a job in the service industry.

. . . thought, for about the 5th day in a row, that I should get out my Easter decorations.

. . . was going to go to bed early --- how the heck did 11 o'clock come so soon?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Best Breakfast

Told ya I saw French Toast in my near future. The more I thought about it after mentioning it yesterday, the more I couldn't get it out of my mind. French Toast is my very favorite breakfast . . . heck, I'll gladly eat it for lunch or dinner, too. And in my book, it's best made with white bread.

Unfortunately, my husband is not the French Toast fanatic I am. However, I am smart enough to know that if I serve it with homemade blueberry syrup, I will hear nary one word of discord at our table. (If I put ANYTHING made with or resembling a blueberry in front of him, he's a happy camper.)


2 cups frozen blueberries ~ 1-/4 cup water ~ 1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, undiluted ~ 2 tablespoons sugar ~ 2 tablespoons water ~ 1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, 1/4 cup water, lemonade concentrate (does not have to be thawed), and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring now and then. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water and stir into blueberry mixture. Return to boil for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly.

Serve warm or at room temp. Store syrup (should there be any left) in refrigerator in covered container. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

This recipe is super-simple and, needless to say, is also great over waffles, pancakes, ice cream, pound cake, mashed potatoes . . . okay, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention by throwing in the mashed potatoes. If the syrup consistency is thicker than you like, go ahead and add some water. It won't hurt a thing . . . and the syrup will go a little farther!

Wouldn't this syrup make a nice gift in a fancy little jar if you had the urge to give some of it away? Now you'll have to excuse me while I go gobble up my French Toast.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cold Out There, Warm In Here

Gadzooks. Can't remember the last time I made good, old, plain, white bread. The idea came to me this morning in bed at 5:10. A blasted foot cramp woke me around 5 and by the time I got up, walked (hobbled) around the house trying to coax it to go away, made a bathroom stop . . . (Do you know what Batman does first thing every morning? He puts on his batrobe and goes to the batroom . Sorry, I just had to insert that.) . . . Where was I? Oh, yeah . . . I made a bathroom stop and crawled back into bed. The logs we put in the wood stove last thing last night didn't catch. Therefore, it was a mite chilly in the house and getting back into our warm bed seemed like a really good idea. But more shut-eye for me 'twas not to be. I was wide awake so laid there mentally planning my day. For some reason (basic hunger?) I started thinking of homemade bread. From there . . . well, that's the thought process that evolved into these two loaves of bread.

(Hmmm, I think I see French Toast with Blueberry Syrup in my near future.)

It's now mid-morning and the temp reads 28 degrees. (That's outside, we have managed to get things warmed up inside.) Another windy, gray, damp day with snow flurries. Somebody tell me there is still a sun somewhere out there, please? We sure haven't seen any sign of it in a couple of weeks. Makes it tough for people relying solely on alternative solar energy. I surely don't recall such winter-like weather hanging on into the end of March very often. Guess it just shows to go you that Mother Nature still maintains the upper hand. We who choose to live in the northern states just need to take a couple extra doses of Patience when waiting for spring.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Out of the Ice

We went to bed last night with the temperature hovering at 33-34 degrees and ice coating everything. Woke this morning with the temperature hovering at 33-34 degrees, rain drops falling and no ice to be seen. My husband commented that there must be a warm 34 degrees and a cold 34 degrees.

I don't have a picture to post tonight because showing dirty melting snow, standing water on ice and mud again where the ice has melted doesn't seem very enticing or interesting.

We fared better than other parts of our county through the ice storm. Because of the weight of the ice, a few tops of trees broke off in the wind and small branches are scattered over much of the ground. We only lost grid power twice. Once for an hour yesterday that we were notified of beforehand when the power company had to do repairs a short distance from us and then last night around 9 p.m. when the power unexpectedly went out for another hour. Many people were out of power for much longer stretches for several different periods over the last few days because of downed power lines. Friends of ours several miles from us had been battling water pouring into their basement but were keeping ahead of it by running a sump pump continually . Then when the power went out at 9 last night, there was only one thing to do. They bailed with buckets until 1:30 a.m. when their power was restored.

Today we had alternating showers of rain and snow. Now at 8:30 p.m. the temp is down to 31 degrees and I can hear the wind howling. Don't know what tomorrow will bring but I do believe the ice storm is over. The forecast calls for a high of 34 degrees. I hope it's the warm 34 degrees.

But warm or cold, I'm not complaining as our particular weather isn't bad at all when you consider the serious flooding and destructive tornadoes with which nearby states are dealing.

I'll end this post with two words . . . C'mon, Spring!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ice Storm Update

According to just posted reports, another freezing rain blob of weather is moving into our area this morning. I think I can testify that it has arrived because when I went out onto our deck a few minutes ago to take these pictures, rain drops and ice crystals both were dropping on my head . . . making a lovely, tinkling sound. (There is beauty in everything if we but look for it!)

This is the nannyberry tree at the side of our deck where the birds like to rest or perch to crack open the sunflower seeds they pick up at the bird feeders.

You can see why they're having a little difficulty hanging on to their perches. It doesn't seem to be deterring them though. One minute I look out and the tree is full of finches, the next it's holding a whole congregation of chickadees.

Also, the first of our returning Mallard ducks showed up yesterday. (Fine weather for ducks, eh?) The pond isn't showing open water for them yet but they land on the ground under the bird feeder that's on a post in the yard and vacuum up dropped seeds. Despite the current weather, spring can't be far behind with the return of the wild ducks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ice Storm

Just snapped this picture out my kitchen window. Schools in town closed an hour ago ('tis my opinion they perhaps should not have opened today?) and no travel is advised in the area.

The weather has worsened as the day has gone on. Our local radio station isn't able to broadcast because their transmitter tower is iced over. A chickadee just landed on an ice covered branch of the nannyberry tree outside my window and did a little sliding side-step until he could get a firmer grip. Winter doesn't seem to want to slip easily into spring this year.

Supposedly the ice conditions will, for the most part, be over by noon tomorrow. Between now and then, I'm hoping everyone stays safe and the ice doesn't cause power lines to come down. The best of days to be settled in at home with a crackling fire in the wood stove and a pot of soup simmering away. (Green Split Pea . . . can you smell it?) I'm going to go make a cup of something to drink. Coffee or tea, anyone? Hot chocolate? Hot Buttered Rum?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

November Weather in March

Today is another day of spring weather I would just as soon skip. Very gray, bone-chilling damp, windy and the ground is covered with melting snow and a mixture of ice, mud and slush. Great day to be inside as much as one can. The forecast for the coming week looks a little bleak, too. Temps barely reaching the 40s for highs, on and off rain/snow/freezing rain. No happy, smiley sun faces showing on this week's weather map. Not that it has to be a sunny day to be a good day by any means, but this time of year I'm a little eager for blue skies with encouraging sunshine and warmth with promises of gardening days to come.

I haven't started any of my seeds inside yet. Up here it's the first of June before we dare transplant seedlings into the garden. And even then we sometimes get stomped on with a surprise late frost. So other than perhaps tomatoes and peppers, in our house nothing gets started under lights until the first of April. Otherwise, the plants just get too leggy.

No tomatoes (except cherry tomatoes that I'm always lucky enough to get bunches of without too much trouble) for me this year. Before last summer, I hadn't planted any full-sized tomatoes for several years. But the past couple of growing seasons had been a little warmer so once again, I was lured into thinking that with a little extra effort, maybe I could get those round, red devils to ripen for me. Last year I did lots of experimenting in the garden (with LOTS of tomato plants) with the thought of trying my darndest to get a bunch of full-sized tomatoes to harvest. I use a lot of stewed tomatoes in soups and casseroles and really wanted to can our year's supply. Remember how I did? Dismal failure. In our climate, you truly do need a greenhouse to be assured of having tomatoes ripen on the vine. Wonder why I can't get that through my head? (Hope springs eternal, as they say!)

Peppers grow on a small enough "bush" for me to protect them with a cold frame type affair over one of my 4' x 8' garden beds so even if the started plants are just eight weeks old when I put them out, they end the season giving us lots of red and green fruits.

Roy just came in from doing some afternoon chores outside and remarked, "Dang, that wind is cold!" I can hear it moaning and see the trees swaying as I look out the window above my computer screen. Yup, mighty good imitation of a barren November day Mother Nature's got going out there. Wonder if the birds zooming back and forth from feeders to trees know it's spring rather than fall? They sure look like they're stocking up for cold weather. But, no fear, they're smart. They know spring is around the corner; their little bird brains are no doubt centered on nest building and laying eggs in the near future. Just as I know I'll be poking little seeds into warm soil before many more weeks go by. We never do get much of a spring season up here. One day it's cold and damp and the next it's 70 degrees and summer has arrived. And, woo-hoo, right now that sounds pretty good!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring?

We saw a high temp today of around 33 degrees. Then this afternoon it dropped to 28 and at 4 o'clock started to snow. The forecast is for about 4" by 8 o'clock tonight. Spring? Sometimes up here we just can't go by what the calendar says.

Last week when it was warm and melting, I decided the birds wouldn't be needing any more suet this year. By the looks of things outside right now, it's a good thing I changed my mind and filled the two suet feeders one more time this morning.

I volunteered to make goodies for a function in town tomorrow and one of the things I'm making are these cookies.

They're called Orange Oatmeals and are basically an oatmeal cookie with raisins jazzed up a little. With the bit of frosting on top, they come out looking and tasting pretty special.

It's a recipe I've had for an age and a half but haven't made for a long time. Somehow, the old standbys like Chocolate Chips, regular Oatmeal, and Peanut Butter cookies get made more often. These are even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to blend.


3/4 cups butter, 3/4 cups honey, 2 eggs, grated peel of one orange, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup quick oat flakes, 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional).

Blend the softened butter and honey in medium mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in orange peel. Add flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then stir in the oats and raisins (nuts if you wish -- I don't usually add them when taking to a large group because so many people seem to be allergic to them).

Drop by tablespoonful onto greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Frost with simple Orange Icing: Put 1 to 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar in small bowl and add the juice from the one orange you grated. Mix well. This should be ample to frost all the cookies.

I don't take much time with the frosting. The cookies are lumpy-bumpy on top so I just plop a small amount on a cookie and push it around a little. Nothing fancy.

I'm glad I thought of making these cookies today. They have kind of a 'spring-like' flavor to them. (Even though it looks like I'll be driving through several inches of snow to deliver them tomorrow!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Female Super Power

One of my favorite blog writers, Nature Knitter (click on her under "Blogs I Visit" over on my right hand side bar), recently asked her readers to share incidences of personal FemaleSuper Power they had used in their lifetime. I started to reply in her comment section but soon realized it was a "story" that would be too long for that spot.

After thinking it through, I'm not sure if the following is an illustration of Female Super Power . . . or stupidity. But here goes.

I painted the exterior of our house three times in the span of eight months. Let me explain. The year we built our house, we finished putting the siding on in late fall. An instructional blurb that came with the siding said that although the boards did come with a primer coat applied, a coat of paint was advisable before the siding was exposed to a winter in cold climates.

We were a little short of cash but our local lumber yard happened to be having a sale on "close out" colors of paint. It was very cheap (should have been the first clue) so I picked up enough cans of what I thought would be a nondescript beige color to paint the whole exterior. Then in the spring, I could put on a second coat of a color of my choice.

Since it was so late in the fall, and the paint couldn't be applied at a temperature below 60 degrees, you better believe I spent everywaking hour that it was warm enough painting, painting, painting. I finished the whole house. Only problem was after the paint dried on the siding, the nondescript beige had a horrible tint of . . . of . . . of what? Red?, maroon?, magenta? It kind of shimmered and glowed. Could hardly stand to look at it.

So first thing in the spring, I bought more paint and went at it. I was shooting for a gray/green but this one ended up much too green. Why didn't I stop when I saw that it was coming out too green for my taste? Good question. (I told you this tale involved a bit of stupidity.) I think I kept hoping when it was all done, the overall effect would look better. Didn't. (And the paint had been mixed so I couldn't return it.)

Back to the lumber yard paint section. I got it right the third time. By that time, I was reeeeally tired of house painting. But it was worth it because thirteen years later, even with a two-story addition that I put two coats on, I still like the final color.

Female Super Power? Dunno. Maybe the fact that I'm a Taurus (astrological sign: bull) and have a great deal of tenaciousness, stick-to-it-tiveness helped. 'Course I've also been called bull-headed, stubborn, immovable . . . and stupid.