Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Much Simpler Time

Was Halloween simpler years ago or is it just my childhood memories that make it seem so?

These days the kids put on their costumes to go to school for a party during the day and often there is some kind of a Halloween Carnival at school in the evening. Churches sponsor Halloween parties as do community centers, youth groups, boy and girl scout organizations, 4-H groups, and libraries. I know many of the organized parties of today are to make it safer for children in these less than carefree times. Matter of fact, going from house to house these days is simply not done in many areas.

Back in my day (she says in a quavering voice and banging her cane for emphasis), I never remember having had a purchased costume. Ours were always pulled together with clothing or materials readily available at home. Anything elaborate (or expensive!) didn't enter into the picture. Often, I can remember wearing the same get-up for more than one Halloween.

I can recall my mom wrapping me in the afghan off the couch to which I added a headband and feather made out of construction paper. I was a squaw . . . clad in a granny square afghan. Or I was a hobo in my oldest jeans and flannel shirt with a red bandana stuffed with crumpled newspaper tied to the end of a stick which I carried over my shoulder. This costume was made a titch more exotic by Mom burning the end of a cork and smearing it on my face so I looked sufficiently grubby.

Being a cowboy wasn't hard if I could talk my brother into letting me use his cowboy hat and cap gun and holster set. And I'm positive he and I both got a lot of mileage out of an old white sheet when we became ghosts on alternating years.

We didn't have parties to go to but looked forward with great anticipation to walking around our whole residential block and stopping at each and every house. (Well, except for the house of Old Grouchy Mr. Bushman whom everybody was afraid of.) I can't remember going anywhere but around our own block.

Many of the treats we received in that day were homemade. And we knew what houses had the best treats. Our very first stop of the night would be on the opposite side of the block from where we lived. The lady of that house made the best popcorn balls and if you didn't get there the first part of the evening, they would be gone. I have no idea how many she made but she always ran out of them way before the night was over.

The trick or treating couldn't start until it was dark. (Nowadays, kids in our area are asked to be back home BEFORE dark.) No one was driven around in cars. We all walked and I can still remember what seemed to me to be the strangest sensation of seeing our darkened sidewalks teeming with kids shuffling along in their homemade costumes and clutching bags of goodies. It was the only time there was such a concentrated population of people in the neighborhood after dark.

Well, I'm sure Halloween was simpler during my childhood. Most everything was simpler in the 1950s. It was probably the Golden Age for growing up in America. Things were just basically saner and safer then. Nearly all women were at home practicing the art of homemaking and they were the binding forces that created a strong sense of community in neighborhoods.

I wonder if kids now enjoy all of their parties as much as my generation did when we had but a couple of hours in the evening to go door-to-door in the neighborhood trick or treating?

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Oh. My. Gosh. I just watched a three minute video on Jenyfer Matthews blog that really, really spoke to me. If you so desire, go to her blog and scroll down to the post, "Will I Be Pretty?"

Let's Be Peeping Toms

This past Tuesday Jennifer Jo over at Mama's Minutia wrote a blog post entitled, "The Morning Kitchen," in which she included a picture of her kitchen. But the unique twist to this was that the picture was taken from outside her house looking in.

Have you ever driven through a town at night just after it's gotten dark and everyone has turned on their inside lights? I love the sneak peek it gives me into the different homes. (Does that make me a bad person?) To me it always imparts a soft, warm, cozy feel to the homes . . . and yet it's seldom that we catch a glimpse of our own homes in that way.

Jennifer Jo's blog and picture intrigued me so much that I went outside on the front deck this morning and snapped this picture of my own morning kitchen.

I didn't manage to get the lovely, ethereal look to my picture as Jennifer did. Maybe we're short on etherealness around here . . . or maybe she already had a pot of something wonderful simmering on the stove that fogged up her windows.

Anyway, I'm sending out this challenge to all of you. Join me (and Jennifer Jo) in the TBHPTPP Club. (The Blogger's Harmless Peeping Tom Picture Post Club.) Take a picture of your own morning kitchen (from the outside looking in) and post it on your blog.

I double-dog dare ya.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin (Squash) Bars

Since deciding I want to try to use squash in place of pumpkin (and never have to purchase another one of those smaller sized, bigger priced cans of pumpkin again), I've been using my supply of garden grown squash in various "pumpkin" recipes.

A day or so ago, I whipped up a batch of my Pumpkin Bars and they disappeared so quickly, I'm gonna chalk them off as a success.

'Tis the season for making them so here's my recipe.


1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup honey (you can use sugar but the bars will be moister with the honey)
1 egg
1 cup pureed pumpkin (or squash!)
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans get my vote)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1-1/2 cup unbleached white flour (whole wheat works well also)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Cream butter and honey. Add and beat in until smooth the egg and pumpkin (squash!).

Blend in the nuts, raisins and dates.

On top of above mixture in bowl dump flour, baking soda, and spices. Mix thoroughly and spread in a 9" x 12" or 9" x 13" greased pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Above is the pan just out of the oven. Cool before frosting with your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting.

I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the frosted bars before they were attacked. (I could have gotten hurt in the process.)

These are just soooo good! Heavy, moist, rich and spicy. And using the squash in place of the pumpkin came out juuust fine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Squishing the Squash

I finished processing the last of the squash for the freezer today. Yes, I did. The last of it. I'm sure. I am real tired of processing squash.

Cut the squash in half and clean out all the pulp and seeds.

Into a pan, cut side down, and add about an inch of hot water to pan. Then into a 375 degree oven for 60-90 minutes, until the squash flesh is very tender. ( I can fit four pans in my oven at once.)

I let them cool a little before scooping the cooked squash out with a spoon. (They sure do get hot sitting in that oven.)

It all goes into a bowl. At this point, the squash looks pretty lumpy, bumpy, and chunky. Since I plan on using this squash I'm freezing as a substitute for a purchased can of pumpkin, it needs to be pureed so that it's smooth.

I don't know the technical name for this food strainer so we'll call it a food strainer. The squash chunks and lumps get pushed through and caught in another bowl.

After straining it goes into freezer bags in two cup amounts. I freeze the bags flat so they stack compactly in the freezer.

My method probably isn't the most efficient or best way but it did the job for me.

Addendum: For my very last bowlful of squash, instead of using the food strainer, I beat the DIV-el (as my Scottish grandma used to say) out of it with my hand mixer. That seemed to be almost a little easier than using the food strainer. A lot easier to clean up, too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knitting Socks Is Contagious

Hey, Erin!

I just finished a pair of hand knitted socks, too.


Whadda ya mean, mine don't count??

A Very Restless Night

Both hubby and I look like something the cat dragged in this morning. (And feel 'bout the same.) It's just barely getting light outside and we're preparing our tired, energy-less bodies to go out to do chores and see what damage the winds have done.

It's still raining, the wind is still howling and images of being blown away kept us both awake most of the night.

The temp didn't drop lower than the mid-30s overnight and we had no snow although the forecast is calling for a couple of inches today so I'm assuming the thermometer is scheduled to drop some more.

Grid power is still on which is amazing considering the wind storm and how many trees must have gone down during the night.

I'll check in here when we get back in from morning chores.

* * * * * * *

Okay, we've made the rounds outside, come back in, gotten out of dripping rain gear, and even had a bowl of hot oatmeal. Here's the report from a very wet, cold and blowsy venture into the elements.

Yes, there is a Toyota Tercel under the tree in the picture above. Two good things: It's a vehicle that has been relegated to spare parts status for a couple of years, and the trunk of the tree that whomped it was only about 6" in diameter. One bad thing: The main part of the tree trunk landed smack on the upper right hand corner of the windshield which will probably cause leakage into the car's interior.

This little copse directly behind the house took a bit of a beating. That'll have to be cleaned up as soon as the storm is over.

A portion of electric fencing around the poultry yard went down most likely from a combination of the saturated ground and the wind.

This solarium-type covering on a 16' x 16' framed pen was securely fastened down . . . but apparently not securely enough. On the other hand, maybe the fasteners kept it from being blown all the way into Canada.

Up near the house here, this small tree went down over the driveway. We haven't yet gone all the way out the drive so don't know the status of the rest of it.

All in all, we haven't seen nearly as much damage as we were expecting.

We're hearing reports of power being out both west and north of us in the county, but so far we're A-OK here.

Great day to be able to stay home warm, secure and dry. Gotta go put another piece of wood in the stove. Ahhhh . . .

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Welcomed Rain

Since yesterday morning we've gotten 1-9/10th inches of rain. It's almost stopped now, but we've just heard heavier rain is to start again later this afternoon.

We had a steady drizzle all day yesterday which was perfect for settling the new material on our driveway. Since the ground was so dry, the gentle rain we had yesterday was just right for soaking into the parched earth rather than a heavy downpour which most likely would have run off causing erosion.

Yesterday's rain became heavier over night accompanied by strong winds. This morning we heard reports of trees coming down in the wind.

Our friend B (lady carpenter) called early this morning to say she was going to stop by to drop something off before going on to another job. When she called she had just returned home after being called out before dawn (she's a volunteer fire[wo]man) because a tree fell on an electrical transformer and started a small forest fire. But between the rain and the quick responders, it was put out quickly.

When we opened the door for B a short time later, she greeted us with mock indignation and said, "The reason I'm all covered with sawdust is because I had to cut up a large popple tree that was blocking your driveway."

After she left was when we decided we had better don rain gear and go take a tour to see if anything else had happened on ye ol' homestead.

This is the road back to our wood working area. Hubby didn't need quite that high of a boot, but it was wet.

Our pond is fed by run-off from the hills behind us and got very low the last part of summer. You can see by this picture how high the water line usually comes. After this rain, it has come up about a foot already but still has a ways to go.

We've had a whole herd of wild Mallards hanging out and resting on the pond for a couple of weeks. They frequently come all the way up into the chicken yard looking for the scratch grain we throw out twice a day. I counted 19 of them this morning.

Zoey the Wonder Dog was (for a change) eager to get back in the house after our morning walk. At 13-1/2 years of age, she's starting to favor a good snooze by the wood stove rather than a romp in the cold rain.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Happened To This Day?

It's past my bedtime but here I sit, trying to get caught up on computer work. 'Twas a busy, busy day, and I wish there were about six more hours of it.

Went to my much-enjoyed handwork group this morning. Usually the conversation is on the light side and we laugh a lot. Must have been something in the air today because we got into a rather heavy discussion on religion. Very interesting. I found it heartening to realize some of us held strong differing opinions and yet felt free to express them without anyone taking offense.

Then home for a quick lunch of soup, cheese bread and applesauce for hubby, me and our good friend and lady carpenter who was here for the day to help install a door from the new kitchen area into the pantry. We had cut the rough opening (and the wall didn't fall down!) but there were a couple of tricky obstacles to overcome so we called in the big guns.

After our quick lunch I left for a dental appointment (just cleaning and a check-up --- my mouth has finally stopped hurting now some eight hours later) while hubby and B worked on constructing the wall in the garage which will divide off the larger work/car parking area from the workshop area which should make the workshop much (much, much, much!) easier to heat this winter. The scavenged door we thought was going to work there isn't (for a couple of reasons) so we're probably going to have to purchase a new one. One more item to add to our growing list for our next trip to the big city. Good thing we have a truck because we always manage to fill it to the gills whenever we go!

Got laundry finished in the afternoon after I finally came home for the last time.

Had picked up some fresh fish in town while doing some errands after the dental check-up. Made the fillets with green beans from the garden (frozen) and our first sampling of the white potatoes from the garden which I baked. We both commented that although they have a good flavor, the texture is noticeably drier than our reds. (I suspect that's why we've always preferred reds over whites. But I planted both this year because last year our reds got lambasted with the blight and the whites didn't. You've heard the expression never put all your potatoes in one basket? No?)

After dinner I did the week's ironing and then headed back here to my desk to catch up on the day's computer happenings.

We've had a drizzly rain all day today which is much needed. It's still raining now and I wouldn't mind if it kept up for a couple of days. It would be great for the ground to have some good moisture in it before the frost sets in.

Now . . . it's creeping up on 11 p.m., and I'm tired. Past time for a little shut-eye. Ugh. Tomorrow morning is gonna hurt.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh, Ya!

It's another wild Saturday night on the old homestead for sure!

One more box (why did I save the biggest for last?) to do tomorrow.

Last year we ran out of applesauce about the first of December.

There's not going to be a repeat of that this year!

Kinda Like Housework

Early this past spring, we had both our wood sheds plus our kindling bin full up to the very tippy-top.

This is the kindling bin (if you can see back into the dark recesses there) today. Yikes, it's only half full! What the heck happened to all that kindling I spent hours and hours splitting?

Truth to tell, this happens every fall. We use more kindling prior to actually starting the serious heating season than any other time of year. This is because we start so many small fires which, of course, requires kindling each and every time. When the cold weather sets in, our fire rarely is allowed to go out so there is no restarting of a fire first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

We've been at this wood burning thing for so long that we've got it figured out. (Mostly. I think. Sometimes.) A couple of months ago, we went to our pile of slabwood . . .

. . . from which we make our kindling.

We cut up and made several bundles of them which we put under cover so they'd dry out nicely. Now all I have to do is take the pre-cut dried lengths of cedar, split them and toss into the kindling bin.

What is currently left in the kindling bin would probably get us through until spring, but I have this thing about needing to feel ahead of the game so will be happier if I get the kindling bin filled back up to the top right now. Then there will be no question of having plenty to last until our heating season is over next spring/summer.

Our wood sheds are in great shape. Above is the smaller of our two sheds and we've used only a little over one tier of wood. The first three or four tiers are poplar from trees we took down early this spring that were too near a building or fence or vehicle parking area. This is soft wood which doesn't give off nearly as many BTUs as hard wood so spring or fall is a perfect time to burn it when you want just a small fire to take the chill off. The majority of the wood in this smaller shed is maple for serious winter time heating.

Our bigger wood shed which is chock full of maple hard wood hasn't been touched and unless we have an exceptionally frigid winter probably won't have much of a dent put in it this year.

Early this spring, it looked as if I had the kindling bin done, complete, finished, topped off, all set. But now I see that it's just like housework. You work hard and think you're finished, but in short order you've got to start over again!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Still Here and Thanks for Checking

I usually have enough drivel to impart that I get out a posting nearly every day. So blessings upon you, dear readers, who have inquired as to my well-being since I haven't posted for a couple of days. This is to let you know that I'm not cutting back for the winter months nor have I succumbed to some dread disease that immobilizes my typing fingers nor have I taken off for Tahiti with the mailman. It's just been a busy week and since I'm a routine schedule kinda gal, I've been a little thrown off.

Hubby was gone for two days and I was AWOL yesterday. Added to that, we've been having work done on our driveway because of the damage a couple of our gullywashers caused this summer. It needed to be shaped up so snowplowing will be easier this winter, and so we won't have so much of a muddy mess in the spring.

I'm still trying to get on top of (or out from underneath?) the last of the preserving for the year: squash and apples, apples and squash, squash and apples.

The siren call of my quilt studio has been very strong lately. For my emotional health and stability, I need to spend time in there. Soon. It quiets me down and helps me put the emphasis on all I do accomplish rather than on all that I don't get done. When it comes to quilting/sewing, it's all pleasure rather than (as with so many other things) putting hours in on a task only because it NEEDS to be done. (You know, those kind of tasks that if you were rich, you'd hire done in a New York minute.)

We finally had our first hard frost night before last. No snowflakies for us yet though. We're very lacking moisture again and would be glad to see some steady rain before the frost starts to penetrate the ground.

It sure is nice to know you are thinking about me, and I appreciate it. My perhaps not-very-funny sense of humor tempted me to just enter, "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" as a blog post, but that wouldn't have been very nice, would it? Hahahaha!

Bye. Time to get back to my stimulating conversations with the apples.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wood Smoke

This morning Jane over at Hard Work Homestead wrote a blog entry about wood heat. It reminded me of something that happened many years ago.

We were still living in Illinois but planning for our move up here to northeastern Minnesota where we knew we would be living for several years without electricity.

I did a lot of sewing but realized my old Sears electric sewing machine wouldn't be of any use once we made the move. One day I saw an ad in the local paper for an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine so I called about it and made an appointment for hubby and me to go see it.

The man and woman who had the sewing machine for sale were quite elderly and lived in a very small house that they heated with wood. We chatted with them for a while and although they didn't in any way complain or tell a sad story, we definitely got the feeling they were having a hard time of it and needed money.

The treadle machine looked to be in great shape including the lovely, old, carved wooden cabinet/table it was mounted in.

We agreed to buy the machine and I asked if the price I remembered from the newspaper ad was the correct amount they wanted.

The old gentleman said yes, they had hoped to get that amount, but if it was too much for us they could perhaps come down a bit.

My husband responded that he thought the sewing machine looked to be in such good condition that it was really worth more than the asking price and insisted on paying the couple a bit more for it. (We may not have had much money ourselves, but we had more than they did!)

We got our prize home and installed it in the living room. Right away I noticed that every time I walked by the machine, I could smell the wonderful aroma of wood smoke. It had been inside the old couple's home for so long that the wood smoke smell was an integral part of the wood.

Silly as it sounds, I found myself dropping to my knees in front of the wood cabinet, nose pressed to the wood and inhaling deeply a couple of times a day. Anyone looking in the window would have thought I was worshiping at an altar. In a way I was. I got into the habit of spending 30-45 minutes first thing every morning sewing on that treadle machine before our one-year old daughter woke up and wanted her breakfast. Nearly forty years later I still think back on and treasure the peaceful start to my day that old treadle machine gave me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Mysteries of Mother Nature

I don't understand this.

This is a geranium that is in a pot that's sitting on a deck table on the south side of our house.

These are geraniums that are planted in a garden bed in the middle of the yard.

Why are the potted geranium's leaves almost all maroon in color while the ones in the garden are green as you would expect them to be?

The one on the deck gets maybe a little less sunlight each day, but not a whole lot less than the ones growing in the bed.

Anybody wanna explain this to me?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just 'Cuz

Just because I thought it made a pretty picture.

'Course, maybe you have to be a squash lover to appreciate this wheelbarrow full of bounty.

One day this past week I harvested a total of thirty fruits in various sizes. Only two had bad spots on them; the rest should be good keepers . . . for as long as you can manage to keep winter squash, that is.

Haven't started processing most of them for the freezer yet. I hope to get to that sometime this coming week, but the week is already looking too, too full.

Finally got my Halloween decorations out this morning. Most years I would have had them out shortly after the first of October.

Criminy, would somebody please do something about slowing time down a bit! Halloween is in two weeks, then only four weeks until Thanksgiving. We all know how the time flies between Thanksgiving and Christmas. After Christmas, the first of the new year is here in a blink and it will be WHAT HAPPENED TO 2010??

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Paint Day/Harvest Day

Today was a balmy, sunny 60 degree day . . . with a stiff wind. You'd never have know it was as warm as the thermometer read by my outfit for painting.

I got the siding painted today. Good job, Mama Pea!

I was working on the north side of the house where the sun don't shine. Add the breeze to that and I had to dress up to be comfortable. I had on a turtleneck, heavy flannel shirt, polar fleece vest and and my painting shirt. And stocking cap. I was not trying to make a fashion statement.

Meanwhile, out in the sunny south yard where it was warm and pleasant, hubby and daughter were harvesting apples. Daughter had volunteered to come help pick. Smart girl. She wanted some apples.

We're expecting a hard freeze first of this week so decided the apples had better come in this weekend.

First the netting had to come off.

It came off much easier than it went on, believe me.

Chicken Mama's dogs, Maisy and Tucker, provided entertainment by putting on a wrestling match.

Methinks we should have done a bit of judicious thinning a few months back? (Thinning. That's not the word. What is the term when you pinch off some apples as they begin to form?)

Apples, we have apples . . .

. . . we have lots and lots of apples.

Hubby fears all of them are not yet quite fully ripe, but they've had a chance to mature much more this year than in any year in a long time. We're mighty pleased with the harvest.

I see applesauce, and dried apples in my future. Any ones we deem unripe, the poultry will happily scarf up. Potatoes and apples. These birds are living pretty good.

Friday, October 15, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

You know what? Knowing you all were behind me with all your encouraging words AND knowing I had to report in to you tonight as to how I did on my list today really helped a lot. There just might be something to this being accountable to someone else other than yourself. (So easy to have a conversation with yourself where you both agree it's okay to be mopey and dopey and the official Queen of Procrastination for another day.)

So how am I feeling at the end of what I would call a successful "get lots done" day? Truth to tell, no better. What the heck is going on here? I got lots done today and am now going to take the evening to spend in my quilt studio until I get tired, then I'll climb into bed and read. It's like somebody pulled all the energy and enthusiasm out of me and I can't manufacture any more.

Here's a run-down of the day:

Make Blog Post - I counted my post last night as the first one today and now am doing the follow-up one. (That makes absolutely no sense.)

Get Info to Chicken Mama - Didn't get close to that one.

Make a Couple Phone Calls - Did so first thing this morning. First one went smooth and slick, second one involved wading through an automated service before waiting 20 minutes (yupper, twenty) to be connected to a real person. Then being put on hold for 10 more minutes before getting things straightened out sufficiently. (I hope.)

Order Supplements - Done. Done. And done.

Go Thru Two Magazines and One Catalog - I just sat right down on my butt late this afternoon and did it.

Vacuum - Sucked up all the miscellaneous debris not stuck down.

Clean Bathroom - Done. (Yahoo!)

Repot Aloe Plants - Whadda mess, but accomplished. Glad I did it out on the front deck.

Make Egg Salad - I did that before breakfast. Wow.

Hang Fall Shower Curtain - Hubby complimented me on it two times. (He thinks it's brand new, but I had it up last year, too.)

Charge Camera Battery - Easy-peasy.

Manicure - Can't you tell I can type better with short fingernails?

Hair Cut and Beard Trim for Hubby - Not done. Not my fault. Tried to corral hairy subject three different times but he was always "too busy." At dinner he promised we'd do it first thing tomorrow morning. Ya, uh-huh, sure.

Work on Wall Hanging - I sat and worked on it from 11:30 to 12 noon this morning. Am going back to it as soon as I finish here.

Paint Siding - Oops. Forgot the caulk had to dry a day before paint could be applied. I'll paint tomorrow. I promise. If the weather cooperates.

Harvest Squash - Did so. Got a grand total this year of thirty in various sizes.

A very productive day. It really did help keep me moving knowing you were all waiting with baited breath to make sure I didn't fluff off. ;o) Thanks again for all your encouragement.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Down in the Doldrums

I get pretty hard on myself when I feel a little depressed, lack the energy I want to have and can't seem to accomplish anything that makes me feel good. I've been in such a period lately and can't seem to talk myself out of acting and feeling so poopy.

There's no good reason for my malaise. I live such a good life with so many choices (too many choices?) compared to other folks who are having a truly rough time these difficult days. Sure there are those irritating few things to deal with that I'd rather weren't part of my life at all, but who doesn't at certain times have to struggle a bit to find a bridge over the troubled waters?

So in an attempt to get a jump start back to my more normal, eager-beaver, hard-working, goal oriented, content self, I am hereby holding myself accountable to you, dear readers, by setting forth in this blog post my list of tasks I need and/or want to get done tomorrow.

At the end of the day, I'll report back to you and be honest about what I did/didn't do and decide whether using you as an impetus helped to bring my lagging, flagging, drooping energy level back up to paar. (Yes, I am heaping a LOT of responsibility on you but somebody's gotta be big and strong for me.)

Here's my list for tomorrow:

MAKE BLOG POST - Duh, I think this is gonna be easy. I'm doing that right here and now if you'll be generous enough to consider it my post for tomorrow morning.

GET INFO TO CHICKEN MAMA - There have been several changes I've been wanting to make on my blog sidebars, etc., and my dear daughter, being my Computer/Blog/Website Guru, needs to have a list of the work I'd like her to do. She may not have time to do it immediately, but she sure can't get it done until I get my wants and desires to her. (I've been going to do this for at least a month now.)

MAKE A COUPLE PHONE CALLS - These are time-sensitive phone calls and won't take that much time (I hope), but I dislike talking on the phone so have, again, been putting them off. Too long.

ORDER SUPPLEMENTS - We take some vitamin/mineral supplements and I need to put in about three orders to three different companies. Something tells me they are never going to ship the products unless I order them.

GO THRU TWO MAGAZINES AND ONE CATALOG - I have a baaad habit of letting magazines and catalogs (that I say I'm interested in - do I need to re-evaluate here?) collect on a corner of my desk and avoid going through them until the stack reaches epic proportions. The couple/few nights I've been awake in the middle of the night lately have been put to good use. I'm down to the last couple of magazines and one catalog. Geesh, just sit down and look through them, for heaven's sake, and be done with it! (And don't pick up anymore mail for a month or so.)

VACUUM - I can see the dust bunnies are breeding up a storm under the kitchen table and behind doors again. I blame the dog on bringing in so many leaves this time of year, but in reality I think anybody who comes through a door drags some in. (If I kept the front deck and back porch swept free and clean that would no doubt help, too.)

CLEAN BATHROOM - We have only one, but it's always in need of cleaning. Ugh.

REPOT ALOE PLANTS - We have two huge, over-crowded, over-grown aloe vera plants upstairs in hubby's office. I've been going to replant them for months. (Years? Nah, couldn't be that long. Could it?) The other day dear husband asked me how to do it so he could do the job himself. Now that's an indication of how badly it needs to be done. (He's never repotted a plant in his life.) I need to do it now while the weather is still decent so it can be done on the table outside on the deck. (Anybody want an aloe vera? I will have somewhere around 2,108 of them if I save them all.)

MAKE EGG SALAD - I got the eggs boiled today, but that was it.

HANG FALL SHOWER CURTAIN - No wonder I feel so wonky. Here it is mid-October and I still have the "summer" shower curtain up. (How many days has this task been on my daily list?)

CHARGE CAMERA BATTERY - Now there's one that shouldn't be too hard or time-consuming.

MANICURE - Well, not a real manicure. I just have to cut and file my fingernails. They grow so fast that they soon have a talon-like appearance if I don't take the time to cut them. (I used to have lovely, always painted fingernails. I will someday again. When I find the time. Sigh.)

HAIRCUT AND BEARD TRIM FOR HUBBY - There is an old, scruffy looking gentlemen who is well-known in our town and whenever hubby's beard and hair get too long, I start calling him by that old guy's name. It's definitely time for a salon appointment for hubby. The whole operation takes only about 30 minutes and I've cut his hair all the years we've been married . . . but I hate the job. (How's that for being negative? Bad, Mama Pea, bad.)

WORK ON WALL HANGING - Shortly after our daughter took her small office in town, she asked me if I would make quilted seasonal wall hangings to go on her outer door. Hers is a very, very nice office space but kinda tucked in a dark corner off a large lobby so she thought having a colorful wall hanging on the door would make it more noticeable. I've been working on the one for fall that will be appropriate right up through Thanksgiving. I just haven't found what I consider enough time to put in on it. If I had a whole day, I could get it done. Can't devote the day to it right now, but by working on it a little each day, I'll get it done that much sooner.

PAINT SIDING - This week we got the exterior siding up on the pantry addition to the house. Now I need to find a warm enough day to caulk the seams and then get at least one coat of paint on it before winter. If it doesn't rain (possible precipitation predicted), the temps look favorable for the job tomorrow.

HARVEST SQUASH - The Red Kuri squash is still out in the garden. I need to harvest it and get it inside in a 50-55 degree storage space (somewhere - where?) until I can give some away and cook and freeze a lot for winter usage. We've had no hard frost yet but I don't want to be unpleasantly surprised when it does hit and I have failed to get the squash in. I know I'm pushing my luck here already.

Okay, that's it. These are (nearly) all tasks that have been on my list day after day for waaay too many days. They're not getting done and they're dragging me down.

Tomorrow is a new day. A new, wonderful day. I'm gonna put on my big girl panties and hit it. Are y'all watchin' me?

Do We Have Any Volunteers?

One of my favorite flowers is the nasturtium. I always plant some in my garden, in flower boxes, in pots, here-there-and-everywhere. I didn't plant even one this year. (I guess that makes a sham of my previous sentence, doesn't it?) Why didn't I? (Please don't ask me any hard questions, I didn't sleep well at all last night.)

When I pulled the pea vines off their trellises this year (gosh, that seems like a loooong time ago), I noticed one little nasturtium plant poking through the soil at the end of one of the trellises. Could it have been mixed in with the pea seeds? Or was it a volunteer left over from last year's garden?

I took this picture yesterday when I was in the garden taking down the trellises (finally) and putting them away for the winter. This gorgeous plant has grown HUGE. It measures about four feet across.

It's loaded with red/orange (my fave) perfect blossoms

When hubby comes down from his upstairs office, he has commented several times on how much he enjoys looking down on it.

Now why can't I get my purposefully planted nasturtiums to grow so big, beautiful and luxuriant? Huh? HUH?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Only Because You Made Me Do It . . .


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 beaten egg yolk
1/2 cup milk
8-10 (depends on size) apples peeled, cored and sliced (I don't count, but rather just fill a medium sized bowl)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pats of butter
1 beaten egg white
Sugar/Cinnamon mixture

Mix flour and salt; cut in butter with a pastry blender. Add egg yolk and milk and mix with a fork until blended and mixture sticks together.

Divide dough in half and roll one half out on a floured surface to fit the bottom and up the sides of a cookie sheet with a lip. (My baking sheet/pan is 16-1/2" x 10-1/2".)

Add the sliced apples which have been mixed with the sugar and cinnamon. Spread out evenly on bottom crust. Add small pats of butter distributed evenly over apples.

Roll out remaining crust and lay over top of apples. Crimp edges. Spread egg white over top. Slit and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. After Apples Slices have cooled, drizzle with powdered sugar frosting.

Warning: Dough is very tender and tears easily. Also sticks to surface you're working on so as I'm rolling it out, I have to keep picking it up and dusting with more flour on surface and on rolling pin. Be prepared to utter some bad words, if only in your head. A pain in the patoot . . . but worth it.

Heaven in a Pan

I just love Apple Slices. No, not an apple you take a knife to and cut into slices. A pan of lusciously seasoned chunked up apple pieces baked between two flaky, buttery crusts with a drizzle of white frosting on top.

This, my dear children, is the first apple dessert I baked with the apples we've harvested from our trees this year. We've eaten a couple of the apples as slices (the raw, naked kind) with peanut butter for lunch once or twice, but this is the first baked confection I've made with them.

And, oh-oh, mmm-mmm, it is good! I made it last night after dinner and as you can see, it took a serious hit before I could get the white frosting on it this morning.

I've always liked Apple Slices even better than apple pie. I think it's because of a childhood memory I have of them from a bakery my mom used to visit on special occasions. Those were the days when bakeries actually BAKED their goodies with REAL ingredients rather than ordering in the frozen (tasteless) dough from a food service company as many of them do now.

No, I'm not going to include the recipe here because the dough for the crust (all butter) has always been so dang near impossible to roll out that I would just end up getting hate mail from any of you who tried to make it. As much as I LOVE the Apple Slices, I think the hassle with the crust is why I don't make it any more often than I do. Well, that and the fact that I tend to eat about three-quarters of it myself. When my husband asks where it all went, I'm getting really good at feigning innocence and saying I have Absolutely. No. Idea. ;o)

After A Slight Lapse, I've Regained My Senses

What was I thinking? Trying to process all those worm damaged potatoes and putting them in the freezer in the form of mashed potatoes or cubed potatoes or shredded potatoes?

I've got better things to do here, people. (Lots and lots of things to do!) Especially since the good, sound potatoes we've got in storage will be more than the quantity we'll need for the whole year to come.

But fear thee not, they are not going to go to waste. Dear husband remembered reading something in an old book we have in our library on poultry raising. We found the book on a high shelf, pulled it down, and blew the dust off of it.

The book Is "The Right Way to Keep Hens, Ducks, Geese & Turkeys" by British author Robert H. Holmes, copyright 1958. In the book the author talks of feeding cooked potatoes to chickens . . . even saying that they can provide a hot mash (not too hot, I would hope, as we don't want any burnt beaks, for goodness sake) which the hens appreciate in winter. Apparently during World War II, feeding cooked potatoes to chickens was popular not only in England but in our country as well.

So to assure that I suffer no guilt pains because of "wasting" all those potatoes with worm holes, we are going to start cooking up a bunch of potatoes each day to serve to our poultry.

I just hope they don't insist on having them mashed with milk and butter and seasonings. Maybe a sprig of fresh parsley for decoration?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You Just Never Know . . .

. . . what you might find on your camera.

My daughter worked as a nanny both days this weekend. Today I made a brief stop where she was working to drop something off for her.

This sweet little girl cherub wanted a story read to her before I left so, of course, I had to oblige. I knew Chicken Mama had snapped a couple of pictures but I assumed they were with her camera.

I was surprised to find the pictures on my camera (snuck it right outa my purse, she did) when I sat down at my desk tonight.

This little babe is just shy of two years old and didn't have any hair (other than peach fuzz) until very recently. You can't see it by the pictures but the whole back of her head is now full of beautiful blond curls. I think the long wait was worth it.

Most of my weekend was spent working outside. Isn't it funny how you can work and work and work on a project and not see much of any progress for the longest time?

Today (hooray and finally) it looks as if I'm getting the raised beds under control. (Although I am having trouble ripping out that one flower bed on the left and my herb bed on the right is still going strong.) The majority of the beds are now ready for an application of compost which we'll let sit for the winter and then till in in the spring.

Have to say the soil in the raised beds is really good. The soil is FULL of earthworms. Despite my phobia regarding worms (how the heck can I be a gardener with this irrational fear?), over the years I've come to terms with earthworms. Earthworms are good. Earthworms are our friends. But I gotta say today when I was removing weeds and spading up the beds, I came across some that were so big they bordered on being classified as snakes. Now that bothers me! (Don't worry. A little more therapy and I'll be fine.)

Tomorrow's Monday again; the start of another week. Laundry day for me, but I'm also meeting a friend in town for coffee and conversation in the morning.

Then back out into the yard/garden. Although it seems as if this gorgeous, warm weather will last indefinitely, one of these mornings there will be heavy frost covering everything and finishing up outside won't be nearly so easy.

So watch out blueberry and raspberry patches, it's your turn tomorrow!