Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Weigh-In

Well, if hubby and my combined weight loss for the last 7 weeks were that of one person, it would be fairly impressive!

But since we are two people, I don't think the pounds that each of us has lost is anything to write home about.

Yay, yay! This morning, the scale showed I was FINALLY able to get out of my two week slump of losing zero pounds, nada, zip, nothing for the previous two weeks. Halleluja, I finally lost 2 more pounds last week which gives me a grand total of 8 pounds lost in seven weeks.

Boo, boo! Hubby didn't do as well and gained one pound last week which brought his total weight loss so far down from 9 to 8 pounds.

So as I say, if it had been only one of us losing 16 pounds in 7 weeks . . . good job! But (sigh) to stay optimistic, we have both lost 8 pounds. Not gained any weight in the 7 week period, but rather are each 8 pounds lighter than when we started.

Admittedly, I'd sure like to see it come off a little faster but I'm trying not to be my usual impatient self. And I am very happy to report that my pants continue to feel a little looser again this week so something is shifting around to a better spot. (Geesh, I hope it's not going to my ankles . . . or elbows . . . or other weird area.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

If I Were Rich I Would . . .

If I were rich I would . . .

- Pay off our mortgage

- Pay off our daughter's mortgage

- Hire someone to finish the remodeling of our house

- Build a barn

- Get back into dairy goats again

- Give financial help to certain people who are having a tough time right now

- Find a Toyota Tercel in good condition to have as a spare so we'd still have one when our current 1985 model bites the dust

- Buy a tractor with a bucket and blade

- Buy a stitch regulated sewing machine

- Buy new furniture

What would you do if you were rich?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Squash: Summer and Winter

In checking through my stored veggies this past week, I looked at the Red Kuri Squash I've had squirreled away in a coolish corner of the garage.

I only had four of them left and three of them looked like the one above. Not bad for this time of year. One, for some reason, was on its way out with many bad spots on it so that one was sent out to the poultry. And I cooked one of the good ones for dinner so that leaves me with just two more.

Last fall I was afraid I didn't have good enough conditions to store the squash in so I cooked up most of them and froze the puree. Besides heating up the frozen cooked squash and eating it regularly as a vegetable with our meals, I've been using it in all recipes calling for pumpkin. It really makes a mighty fine "pumpkin" pie. Wanna know how many cups of the cooked pumpkin I still have in the freezer? Oh, maybe enough to last until mid-2015. The day I checked the whole squash I tried to give one to a friend who was here. She gave me a sheepish look and declined saying she still had the last one I foisted on her.

Looks as though my Red Kuri Squash is starting to be as big a problem as zucchini is in the summer time. Speaking of zucchini . . .

This past Thursday, Fiona at Rowangarth Farm did a post on a way she used some of her zucchini squash this past summer. She made Gingered Zucchini Marmalade and, oh my, does it look wonderful.

It so happened that on the same day I read her blog post, I opened another jar of my Zucchini Relish which I make each year. I first discovered this relish when hubby was teaching and one Christmas brought home a gift of the relish from one of his students. It was so good that I called the boy's mother and asked if she would share the recipe. She was kind enough to do so and I've been making it ever since.

This relish is on the sweet side and goes very well with most any meat especially, to my taste, beef. It's also good on hot dogs in a bun. With the hot dogs done over a campfire. Mmmm-mmm!

I thought I'd post the recipe now so you can tuck it away for the busy summer months when we all have more zucchini than we can possibly use.


10 cups shredded zucchini (I like to mix both green and yellow [when I have it] zucchini which makes for more color in the relish. Also, unless the squash is very big [older], I never peel it.)
4 cups chopped onion
1 chopped sweet red pepper
1 chopped sweet green pepper
3 tablespoons salt

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and let stand over night. In the morning, drain, rinse and drain again.

Put zucchini mixture in a large kettle and add:

2-1/4 cups cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup mustard seed
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon celery seed
3-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

Mix well and boil gently for 1/2 hour. Stir frequently as it is very thick and could settle and burn on the bottom.

Pack in sterilized jars to within 1/2" of top, adjust caps and process in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Makes 5-6 pints.

Between this recipe and Fiona's marmalade, we should be able to put much of our zucchini crop to good use this coming summer!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gotta Use Those Taters and Onions

Spring is coming, Folks. All you have to do is look at my onions and potatoes and you will believe.

My remaining onions are trying to tell me something. They're putting out their green shoots of summer and I'd better use them . . . or lose them.

These white potatoes haven't sprouted nearly as much as my red ones, but they're still showing signs of being in storage for many moons.

When the reds started to sprout, I used the sprouting ones and then shoved as many as I could into the bottom of the spare refrig, and I'm happy to say they seem to be happy and doing well in there.

Yesterday afternoon I remembered this recipe that would help use up some potatoes AND onions so I made it for dinner. Below I've written out the full recipe but for just the two of us, I cut all the ingredients in half.

This recipe is pretty basic and easy to put together while at the same time being more than just plain, old potatoes. If your digestive system is bothered by onions, this recipe might not be for you. But even though there are quite a few onions in the dish, I don't think it has an "onion-y" flavor after being baked.


8 cups potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cups onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Cayenne Pepper

Layer potatoes and onions in a greased 9" x 13" baking pan. Sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper and dot with butter. (The above photo was taken when I had about half of the ingredients in the baking pan.)

Bake covered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper.

Return to oven (uncovered) to brown cheese. (Leave in oven until desired brown-ness and crispness to top layer is achieved.) Makes 8 servings.

Even making only half the recipe last night, we had plenty left to warm up with eggs for breakfast. It's a mighty tasty potato casserole.

I Told Ya It Was Still Winter

So, so hard to crawl out of that warm, cozy bed this morning. The temp? Minus 4 degrees. Even if it were +4 it wouldn't seem like such an insult this time of year. -4 is a December or January temperature. But I've said before that in our part of the country, we can still expect more than a month of honest-to-goodness winter weather and this morning . . . Old Man Winter is here stomping around with heavy boots.

Our daughter left her snow plow rig with us yesterday when she went to work in town so we could use it to clean up the recent snowfall. We got at least 6" and I've got to say it made our little homestead a winter wonderland.

Bet you didn't know we could grow cotton way up here in northern Minnesota, did ya?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oatmeal (Otherwise Known as Downfall) Bread

This recipe came out of a small soft cover book put out by Fleischmann's Yeast.

I have no idea when I got it (can't find any date in it at all as to when it was published) but it has so many good recipes in it that I've used over and over and over.

As you can see, there is a distinct possibility the whole thing is going to self-destruct one of these days but I don't know what to do to preserve it. I sure do treasure this little book.


1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F.)
2 packages active dry yeast (I use 2 slightly rounded tablespoons)
1-3/4 cups warm milk (105-115 degrees F.)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
5-6 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup quick rolled oats

Measure warm water into large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved.

Put milk, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan and heat to desired temperature.

Add to yeast mixture. Add 2 cups flour and beat with rotary beater until smooth. Add 1 cup flour and the 1 cup oats. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap and then a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half out and form into loaves. Place each loaf into a greased loaf pan. Brush loaves with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator. Uncover dough carefully. Let stand uncovered 10 minutes at room temp.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until done. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 2 loaves.

Notes: Previously I've always used regular rolled oats but I did have quick oats to use yesterday. The quick oats "disappeared" in the baked bread so I think I like using regular rolled oats better because they give a heartier look and taste to the bread.

Yesterday I let the loaves rise in the refrig only 2 hours and they came out beautifully. I baked them the full 40 minutes.

Sue, This One's For You!

What did the Goddess of No Willpower do last night when the Oatmeal Bread had cooled enough to slice?

OMG, it was sooo good! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was an out-of-body experience. I had two slices.

Picture of bread and recipe to follow later today.

Disclaimer: No one was hurt in the making of this post as I let my husband have two slices also.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Still Snowing

It's 8 p.m. and the snow is still coming down.

We have to shovel a path across the deck before Zoey the Wonder Dog will cross it.

The bare boards were almost covered again before she came back in from a quick potty stop. I think we've gotten around 5" of new snow thus far. The temp is in the high 20s so the snow is sticking to everything. It's gonna be a winter wonderland out there in the morning.

Slow the Heck Down, Day!

I should have loaves of fresh bread to show you by now, but truth to tell, I just got them into the loaf pans to rise. Do ya ever wonder how times flies by so fast? It seems that by the time I got home from picking up my co-op order (many thanks to my dear husband for lending muscle power to this gargantuan task) and putting it away, I had to fix us some lunch.

Snow did start around one o'clock. Big, beautiful flakes coming down like it really meant it. I don't know if you can actually see the flakes in the above picture or not. Why is it that a photo (at least with my simple camera --- and simple operator) doesn't ever show how heavy the flakes are?

This was taken out my quilt studio window through screen and all. (Where I spent about 30 minutes today right after lunch.)

The large flakes have stopped now but it continues to snow lightly and steadily. We have about an inch accumulation so far. If we can get a couple/few inches, I think it would help the terrible ice conditions. IF it turns out to be a snow that has a little "grip" to it that is.

I've got pork chops cooking for dinner tonight and a little bill paying I should do at the desk while I'm here. (If I can just locate the bills --- oi vey, the mess my desk top is.) The bread I decided to make is Oatmeal Bread and I'll post some pictures later if the baked loaves are presentable. Sue over at "Sue's Journal - The Other Stuff" called me inhuman (da noive of da woman!) because I can make homemade bread and then not eat a slice or two, so even though it's going to be a HUGE (H.U.G.E.) sacrifice, I'm going to eat a piece of warm Oatmeal Bread when it comes out of the oven. I mean, I HAVE to, right??

Boring, I'm Sure

My posts have been lacking pictures of what's going on around ye ol' homestead because I don't think anyone (myself included) has much interest in shots of old snow or ice-covered drive and walkways.

My days are filled to the brim as they usually are but with the humdrum little tasks of February days.

It's 8:30 a.m. as I write and I keep waiting for it to get light outside. Well, it actually has dawned but we're expecting a few inches of snow today and the look to the air is more like dusk than first of the day.

I need to make a run into town to collect a rather large special order I put in to our food co-op. And also drop off some library books that are due today. I feel so irresponsible when I'm late and have to pay that huge 25 cent fine. Other than that, I'm holed up here at home today workin' away on the usual list.

Even though we're still not eating bread, bread making is on the agenda. I want to take a loaf to our good neighbors who have been plying us with wonderful fresh fish recently. First we got a quart jar of D's pickled herring, then two different batches of fillets and two big containers of fish cake batter which is my hubby's absolute favorite. D has been buying the fish from a friend who nets them on an inland lake. Herring pulled from underneath the ice this time of year can't be beat for flavor. I prefer winter fish to any caught in the summer time.

The devil got a good grip on me yesterday and put all kinds of ba-a-ad things into my mouth. (Was that the reason for my unpleasant dreams all night?) But I'm back on the straight and narrow again today now that I've gotten that out of my system. (Out of my system . . . let's hope it's REALLY out of my system and not clinging to my hips.)

Yupper, this whole post IS boring. So I'll stop and go get some bread set to rise. What kind should I make?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Little Quilting Project

I just put up a short blog post over on my quilting blog. Got an urge this weekend to make a couple more seasonal pot holders for my stash. I had the thought of making ones for the upcoming spring season but it didn't work out quite that way.

Once again, this gives me a great way to try out different old quilt block patterns. One of them I think will find its way into a baby quilt.


Not a lot. And a lot. We're back into the cold of winter time. Temperatures nearly reaching 20 above by day but plummeting down around zero at night. Gray skies, no sun (other than a teasing peek now and then), occasional flurries of snow and wind. Lots of wind. And ice. Oh my, do we ever have ice. All surfaces, except black topped roads, are covered thickly with ice. Getting in wood yesterday afternoon was scary. The whole trip to the wood shed and back (small, shuffling, baby steps) was totally iced over. All you can do is to be careful. Our daughter's 4-mile winter driveway is a luge run. Completely iced with hard, cement-like snowbanks on either side. She can navigate it no faster (seriously) than 10 mph in order to keep control of the vehicle. Currently, she can't make it up the last hill to her private driveway. She's having to park and haul everything in and out on a toboggan. It must be at least a half mile trek, maybe more.

Hours were spent this weekend talking and paper planning for the big push this summer to finish the remodeling on our house. Made a big change which really helped my general outlook on the whole project. Why does anyone ever remodel an existing house? It would seem to much easier to start with nothing and build it just the way you wanted. We've never built a new house so maybe I'm being unrealistic in this thinking. I'm also becoming aware of how much money is going to be involved, and it's scary.

Week #6 weigh-in this morning. Both hubby and I stayed the same. The exact same. Zero weight lost, zero weight gained. We did what Sparkless suggested in my comment section last week. We took last Tuesday and went a little off our eating plan in the hopes that it would shake up our systems a bit. Convince our bodies that we could burn fuel because we weren't starving. I really believe that sounded like a logical thing to do. Made sense. Perhaps I went overboard, but what I found was that I didn't like the "full" feeling I had on Tuesday that I haven't experienced since we started cutting back six weeks ago. I could really tell the difference that extra bit of food made. Oh sure, it felt great going down, but once it hit it didn't feel so pretty good! I don't know what hubby plans on doing but it's pretty evident I need to either burn more calories or cut the calories I'm taking in. (Big duh.) I don't have a rigorous exercise program I follow, but I am up and going the better part of each day with chores involved in keeping an active house and homestead. A work in progress is what this is. A work in progress. I'm going to keep on keeping on.

I also spent some time this weekend doing an inventory of our food and miscellaneous household supplies. Although we're in pretty good shape I found myself with a hefty list of various items I'd like to get. At first I thought I'd put off any purchasing until "later." But then I did a reality check. Has anyone else noticed how rapidly the price of EVERYTHING is increasing? Yeah, well, me too. Sad to say, I honestly don't think prices are going to be coming down any time in the near future. Matter of fact, I'm betting prices are only going to continue to increase. Our retirement income has not gone up one iota. And I'm betting any of you still out there in the work force haven't had a raise lately either. Even worse, some of you have probably had to take cuts. But I am extremely thankful and grateful that we do have a retirement income. I'll just continue working hard to make it go as far as possible.

My morning latte is all gone. Breakfast dishes are calling. Laundry and ironing are the exciting items on my list today. (I'm sure if you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear the noise my washer is making. This is the third time we've had the same problem with it and we've said when it goes this time, it's really gone. As in booted out the door. Only problem is the washer is part of a stackable unit we squeezed into our little bathroom and the new washer and dryer will be a side-by-side that will go in the heated part of our attached garage . . . after the remodeling is done. Yup, garage is involved in the remodeling, too. Looks as if we may have a time crunch here. But the upside is that when the washer and dryer are moved, I will get an actual linen closet in the bathroom which I haven't previously had.)

I'll also be spending time today with books, plans and papers spread out on the kitchen table working yet again on remodeling plans. Well, that part definitely needs to be nailed down first, so the sooner we get that done, the faster (and better) everything else will go.

Happy Monday, Everyone. Make it a good one!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is Installing A Garage Door Opener Supposed To Be Fun?

If so, I think we purchased the wrong unit. We've had this automatic garage door opener for several years now. (Yes, I said several years.) Way back when hubby tried to install it for the first time, he found several pieces were missing. Long phone conversations ensued before the pieces were ordered.

Guess what? The pieces sent were still wrong for this unit. Over a couple of years (yes, I said a couple of years) he ordered, sent back, reordered and sent back pieces a couple more times. Each time he tried to get the unit installed, the project ended in frustration. Not a common occurrence for him since he's usually too stubborn to give up on anything.

I think his most recent attempt was this past summer. The unit still wasn't going together correctly which may have had something to do with the directions which consistently mislabled parts and showed diagrams which didn't match labeled parts. Hubby is also convinced the instruction booklet was translated from Chinese into English by someone who spoke only Portuguese.

Recently we decided it would be wise to enlist the services of our carpenter friend and Jill-of-all-trades, B, to help with the installation. She spent the day here last Thursday working with hubby on the project.

Here hubby is on the ladder trying to follow suggestions given by B who was on ground level trying to decipher directions in the (almost totally worthless) instruction booklet.

Just look at this mess of tools and instructions on the work table.

I had to make a supply run to town for a needed item and even then the workers ended up fabricating more than one part to get the #*&! unit to work.

After B left for the day, my help was required to hold two bolt heads immobile while hubby tightened them from the other side of the door. (Hey, what would he have done without me?)

I'm glad to say the installation was finally completed but it was more of a challenge than anybody here wanted to experience.

More than once during the project I pointed out that hubby and I are both capable of manually opening and shutting the garage door (we've been doing it for years!) but B and hubby insisted they were both smarter than the door opener and would triumph. And they did. Whew. Sure am glad we can cross that item off the list.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hazardous Weather Outlook

Ha-ha-ha-hee-hee-ho-ho-ho! I just checked the weather for our area and was confronted with a red banner across the top of the screen reading "Hazardous Weather Outlook."

Remember two days ago when the sun was hitting the front of our house so strongly and I had the door open all day? Well, I just knew it was way too early to be thinking spring or even legitimate spring thaw.

All the water from that melting snow of the previous two days has frozen solid. So-lid. Our quarter mile long driveway is one long, narrow skating rink. The UPS man said he didn't think he was going to make it in to our house this afternoon without skittering sideways off the driveway and into the woods.

We laid in bed last night listening to gale force winds whipping around the house and the occasional who-knew-what go bump in the night. We awoke to 9 degrees above zero this morning and the wicked wind continuing to blow.

There is a wind advisory out for tonight again (gusts up to 45 mph) and snow forecast for the weekend.

So for all you bloggers who are exhausted tonight from working in your garden all day planting peas and early salad greens and are now rewarding yourself with a lovely glass of wine on the deck or porch, I say enjoy yourself! Think of me wearing my wool sox and long flannel nightgown to bed tonight. And please have a drink for me. (Ya gotta be tough to live up here near the tundra!)

Thanks Again to My Friend Betty

Add ImageWinter time is oven casserole time in our house. This casserole I made last night is a bit different, but one that I've made for many, many years and both hubby and I continue to gobble it up.

Once again, I have to thank Betty Crocker for this recipe. I can't help but wonder if it was originally pulled together to use up some leftovers . . . some hot dogs, a dish of green beans that didn't get finished and that extra slice or two of bread that's always hangin' around.

If I remember correctly, the original name was "Frankfurter Supper Dish." (Does anyone call hot dogs "frankfurters" anymore?) Over the years I've come to call it "Green Bean and Hot Dog Casserole." Not very classy, but that's the name that's stuck. And so . . .


4 hot dogs (I use "chicken" hot dogs)
2 cups green beans
1 cup medium cream sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (important for the flavor)
2 slices of bread, cubed
Grated cheddar cheese

Drop hot dogs in boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Slice into 1/2"-1" pieces. If the green beans aren't already cooked leftovers languishing in the refrig, cook them about half the usual time.

Make the cream sauce by melting 2 tablespoons butter, stirring in 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly add one cup of milk, and then the Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened.

Stir the cooked, sliced hot dogs and beans into the cream sauce.

Pour mixture into a pie plate. (An 8" x 8" pan seems just a smidge too big so judge your size pie plate or casserole pan accordingly.)

Cover top of casserole with bread cubes and as much grated cheese as you want. (I probably use about 3/4 cup.)

Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serves 3-4.

Last night I served this with pickled beets which I think are a nice compliment to the creamy consistency of the casserole.

If you're making it in the summer time, serving it with fresh, sliced tomatoes and Brownies with Ice Cream for dessert would be lovely. (Boy, would it ever!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Totally Wet

Even though it's not raining today, I'm not sure how it could be much wetter outside. Forty degrees, gray, foggy, misty, and damp. Does it feel cold? Uh-huh. Yup. Suuure does.

Our pond has developed a big, ugly-colored puddle in the middle of it overnight. (The temp didn't even get down to freezing last night.)

Mother and Father Goose came out to check the situation this morning.

"I heard some green grass had been spotted."

"I don't see any green grass." "Do you see any green grass?"

"Nuts! I'm goin' back into the house."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring Has Arrived!

Uh-huh, sure. I don't mean to be such an old bah-humbug about it, but truth be told, we've got nearly two more months of winter up here before spring really makes an appearance. (That would be in an "early" spring year.)

But what a glorious day we've had today. Not only does it look like spring out there (the air actually has a different look to it . . . no, it really does), but it smells like spring. We've had our front door standing open most of the day. (Well, okay, there IS a storm window on the top of the outer door but still . . . ).

Now at a little past 3 p.m., the temperature on the north side of the house in the shade is 47 degrees.

We've had so much melting going on today that the areas where we've shoveled paths are almost down to bare ground.

As much as I love winter, I've gotta admit all of the sunshine and melting today has given me a much needed shot of energy.

March is often our snowiest month, but if we continue to get intermittent days like this one, the accumulation of the fluffy white stuff both that is already on the ground now and any that might fall yet is definitely on a downward spiral.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Gooood Salad!

We've been craving fresh greens so much lately that I've been buying fresh organic spinach at our local co-op. They've also had wonderful navel oranges that we've been enjoying for a month or so.

Many of you may already make this salad but I think my dressing that goes with it is especially good so I thought I'd share it.

There's no need for a recipe for the salad. It's just spinach on a plate with alternating sections of red onion and peeled and sliced oranges.


In a jar with a tight fitting lid combine:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (I use a bit more 'cause I like pepper)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Put all ingredients in the jar and shake (the jar) until well combined. Drizzle over spinach salad on plate. Store any remaining dressing in refrigerator.

An easy-peasy salad that tastes pretty darn good this time of year!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh, Yeah . . . The Weekly Weigh-In

Gosh, I almost forgot. And I know all of you are just dying to hear. Today was Monday and that means the weekly weigh-in around our house.

Yes, both hubby and I decided last week at the end of our four-week change of eating habits regime that we would continue on for the indefinite future since we both want to drop several (okay, many) more pounds.

Hubby would be the first to admit he had a ba-a-a-d week and indulged in a wee bit of chocolate and a couple (few?) beers which he has not been doing at all.

However, (and I don't know how he does it) he showed a loss of 2 pounds this morning. That gives him a total loss of 9 pounds for five weeks.

Mama Plump (I mean Mama Pea) thought she was going to have a fantastic week and show a loss of 2 or 3 pounds. Why? Because I truly felt lighter. Even my "fat" pants have looked and felt looser. What did the scale say? Zero pounds lost this week. None gained, but none lost. How can this be? Maybe I should have eaten some chocolate and knocked back a few beers. Sigh. My total loss is 6 pounds in five weeks now. Hrumpf.

I don't think I'd be feeling very good if I cut my portions down any more. Guess I just have to bite the bullet and get more exercise to burn more calories.

Trying to lose weight is the pits. If I don't start dropping more pounds soon, I'm going to stop eating all this healthy food and eat only potato chips and pie. If I ate a piece of pie for breakfast, chips for lunch and more pie for dinner, I bet I'd be consuming less calories than I do now. Hrumpf.

In Honor of Valentine's Day

One of the blogs I regularly read is Thy Hand Hath Provided. This morning she wrote a little blurb about how her grandparents met. Then she went on to relate the story of how she had met her husband.

At the end of her post she said it would "make her day" if we each posted the story of how someone met. Since it is Valentine's Day, I couldn't resist. Here is how my mom and dad met.

It was way back in the late 1930s. A year or so after they had graduated from high school (in the same town but different schools), my mom was working nights as a car hop at a drive-in restaurant.

One night my dad and a few of his buddies stopped at the drive-in to eat. Mom was the one who went to their car to take the order. According to Mom, Dad immediately started flirting with her and in general giving her "a hard time."

Finally she managed to get their order and then bring it out to them.

Several minutes after she had delivered the food to the guys' car, Dad called Mom over and told her his hamburger tasted like it was made with dog food. She knew he was just fooling around and entered into the game bantering back and forth.

He became very insistent that the owner of the drive-in could get in big trouble for using dog food in the hamburgers and she'd lose her job for being involved with the whole process.

Dad then coerced Mom into walking with him behind the restaurant where cardboard boxes were piled before being taken to the dump.

There, on top of the pile of boxes, was a box with a dog food label printed on the outside.

Dad never would admit he had "planted" the box there, but it sure sounds to me like something a young guy would do to meet a pretty car-hop he had had his eye on.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quilting Time

I got in some time this afternoon in my quilt studio. Worked on a spring time wall/door hanging for Chicken Mama's office.

Pictures and a few words over on my quilting blog if you care to have a look.

The Lazy (Wo)Man's Way

I grind my own flour, but I cheat. I use an electric grinder. Not that I haven't spent many (and I mean MANY) hours grinding flour by hand. My dear husband has also done more than his fair share of hand grinding especially with the first two mills we had back in the days when we didn't have electricity.

We started with the good ol' Corona grinder. If memory serves me correctly, I think we wore out one set of grinding plates on that one.

Then we got a French made stone grinder, the Samap Stone Grain Mill. I see Samap now makes an electric stone grinder, but the old hand turning model like ours is still available.

The powerhouse grinder I have and use regularly now is the Grain Master Whisper Mill. I love it. You couldn't get me to give it up.

The name "Whisper Mill" is a joke and makes me smile every time I set the grinder up. When I flip the switch it sounds exactly like a jet plane engine set to take off. No, my windows don't shake and the dog now sleeps right through it, but I sure can't hear the stereo or audio book when it's on.

Here's the little lovely as it comes out to do its work. The green cap on top covers the hopper and keeps everything nice and clean in storage.

This is the container that the ground flour is blown into from the mill. It's engineered very well and not a puff of flour dust comes out into the air.

You can adjust the mill so your grains are ground very fine or coarse.

Here we are hooked up and ready to go.

I can load six cups of grain into the hopper at once. How long does the grinding take? No more than two or three minutes max. (Put on your ear muffs now. I'm going to flip the switch.)

And here's a container full of rye flour that is as perfect as any commercially ground flour. Well, of course, it's much better because of its freshness and the fact that it hasn't had a chance to oxidize and become "dead" sitting on a grocer's shelf for who-knows-how-long.

S'okay, I'm not getting the exercise workout that a hand powered mill gives and I am using electricity, but I'm saving a lot of time with my electric mill. (I'll go out and snowshoe or work in the garden to make up for my slovenliness.) And we do have a hand operated Country Living Grain Mill as a back up for grinding our flour should the need arise. Then I'd be right back to my upper body workout sessions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Cookies Ready

I got my heart-shaped sugar cookies out of the freezer today, made the frosting, and got them ready to go.

Fiddling with a complicated quilt block doesn't bother me a bit, but frosting and decorating cookies is something I don't have much patience for.

My decorating capabilities are pretty basic.

All packaged up and ready to go.

(And, no, I didn't sample even one. Gosh, I hope they're not AWFUL!)

A Morning Visitor

Every couple of days, for several years now in the winter, we've had a morning visitor at our suet feeder.

Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker (I'm pretty sure it's a female, but feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken) comes to feast on one of the suet feeders we have hanging a short way off our front deck. She's very shy and most of the time flits away when she senses me trying to get a picture of her.

If you look at the suet balls on the left trunk in this picture you will see a Nuthatch there for size comparison.

The bird book lists pileateds as being about 16-1/2" long. They always remind me of pictures I've seen of prehistoric birds.

We've never seen Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker in the summer. When she flies away she goes into the heavy woods in back of our house where she must have ample food supply to sustain her when she doesn't require the suet.

You might be able to see the falling snow in the above pictures. We haven't had any snowfall for several days now and today's forecast isn't for any accumulation. The big, fat, lazy flakes falling sure are pretty right now. A perfect day for baking some cookies to give for Valentine's Day . . . but I'm not sure I should tempt my husband that way. He has a lot harder time resisting sweets than I do.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I'm in the middle of a crazy, busy, catch-up day with four gazillion things going at once. (Hang on a sec. I think I'm burning the soup.) I spent the day in the big city yesterday on a necessary supply run so I'm feeling a little behind and bedraggled today. (Traffic, people and shopping do that to me.) On some not-too-sensible whim, I sat down here at the computer to check e-mails. Just for a minute. (It will only take a second or two, right?)

Fiona over at Rowangarth Farm had a new post up so I had to check it out. It hit me as a warm, fuzzy post about knitting a mitten and Just. Not. Being. Able. To. Stop.

Getting involved with a project such as that which you really enjoy and from which you derive so much pleasure reminded me of the way I am with quilting. I can so relate to her feelings as expressed in the post.

- Okay, I have the background fabric cut so I should stop now.

- But that's the last of all the pieces for the blocks, so I wonder what the block will look like sewn together?

- Hey, the one block is really attractive! What would four of them look like in a row?

- If I do 16 blocks, I'll be able to see more of the whole effect.

- Aw, what the heck! I might as well keep going. Only 64 more and the top will be finished.

So why are certain things we do addictive? (In a good way, of course.) Because we receive joy and satisfaction and contentment from doing them. What better feelings to get out of life?!

Bottom line, being responsible, sensible, intelligent women (ahem) we will still keep our families fed, and in clean clothes along with meeting other needs, but why-of-why can't we give ourselves more time for things like this (knitting, quilting, oil painting, learning to ride a horse, etc.) that nourish our very souls? I ask ya. Why? Huh? HUH?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cold Morning Hot Cereal

One of the hot cereals I make for us in the morning is this one that I adapted from Helen Nearing's book, "Simple Food for the Good Life." (I think it's kind of funny that she wanted to title the book, "Simple Food for Simple People" but the publisher nixed that idea.)

The cereal is really quite tasty and gives us good fuel via the grains to start a cold winter's day.


1/3 cup millet
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup raisins

After I mix the grains in the saucepan, I mix in one tablespoon of either kefir or yogurt. This neutralizes the negative effects of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors found in whole grains. Phytates bind up minerals naturally found in grains so that the minerals can't be assimilated when we eat the grains. Neutralizing phytates and enzyme inhibitors, in effect, pre-digests grains so that all their nutrients are more available.

Soak the millet, oats, buckwheat groats and raisins over night in ample water to cover.

(This is what the soaked cereal looked like in the morning. Seems the grains drank up quite a bit of the water so . . .

. . . I added some more before starting to cook.)

In the morning, bring to a boil, adding more water if necessary. (Yup, we did that.)

If you keep the cereal cooking just at the boiling point, the grains will stay separate and not glop up. I think I cooked ours about 25 minutes this morning stirring now and then to make sure they weren't sticking on the bottom.

To serve, you can sprinkle with sunflower seeds, add a pat of butter and milk. If you desire more sweetening than the raisins, add honey or maple syrup. The cereal has a very nutty taste and is a nice change from plain old oatmeal.

The amounts in the recipe are ample for two hungry breakfast eaters.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Holy Busy Day, Batman!

I think I'm suffering something akin to culture shock on this my first day out of the quilt studio.

First off this morning, I went twenty-some miles down the road to meet with five talented, interesting, funny women. To say a good time was had by all is an understatement. Fun, fun, fun!

Back home and a quick lunch with hubby. Shortly thereafter, two friends stopped in for a visit which was lovely. The female of the couple is doing her spring cleaning early this year and asked if I would be interested in looking at some quilting fabric she is getting rid of. Such a silly question.

Well, you wouldn't believe the size of the box she deposited in my quilt studio. I haven't had time to get into it yet, but it will be a treat to do so tonight. Gotta get my ironing done first though. (Yes, I did manage to get laundry done today, too.)

Then two packages to get ready to go out in the afternoon mail pick-up in town.

As long as I was in town, I made a stop at the co-op grocery store and library. I think if I hadn't been driving my trusty little 4-wheel drive Toyota Tercel, I'd still be stuck in front of the library. Snow, slush and ice grabbed me and didn't want to let go. But 4-wheel drive comes through again. How anyone gets by without it in this part of the country is beyond me.

Back home to finish folding and putting away clean clothes.

Now Papa Pea's good friend has arrived to play in the garage with him tonight and . . . get this. HE BROUGHT DINNER! It's finishing cooking in my oven as we speak. Now that's the kind of friend you like to have!

Okay, speaking of food. Today was weigh-in day ending our four weeks of trying-to-shed-some-poundage eating plan.

It was a good weigh-in and it was a bad weigh-in. After not losing any weight (that would be zero pounds) last week, I lost one pound this week. One tiny, little 16-ounce pound. Well, at least it was something.

BUT the very good news is that this morning when I pulled my one decent pair of jeans out of the closet to put on for my outing, instead of the button closing tightly over my tummy . . . omigosh! I had about an inch of wiggle room! They were actually loose on me. Hmmm, I said. I wonder if possibly I could get into those other jeans I haven't been able to get into for ever-so-long? And guess what? They fit! This was enough to make me feel absolutely elated for the rest of the day. Even though I've only lost a total of six pounds in four weeks (pathetic, huh?), something is changing for the better.

Unfortunately, Papa Pea was not happy with his weigh-in. He gained two pounds. Ooops. However, after we analyzed the situation, he realized where he went astray. Sadness and woe, he is now thoroughly disgusted with himself and has announced he's going to learn how to fast.

Okay, I've got to get on with things so I have time to go immerse myself in that box of fabric waiting for me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back To Reality Tomorrow

Ugh. Do I have to?? Go back to reality tomorrow? Three whole days spent in my quilt studio . . . it sure was wonderful while it lasted. Can't say I got my fill of it though. I think I could stay in there for a very long time before I got tired of quilting.

Gotta say my three days of "taking a vacation" here at home worked out much better than I thought they might. I have to thank my hubby who helped a LOT in making the time go very well. Of course, it wasn't like being gone from home and totally away from the day to day happenings, but with his help and a little stubbornness on my part, I stuck to my guns. Other than one small vacuuming job that I chose to do this afternoon, I really didn't do any house-type work for the whole three days.

At the start my hope was to get the winter wall hanging for Chicken Mama's office door finished, and whoop-dee-do, I did accomplish that. I've got to get organized enough so that I'm not always behind on her seasonal pieces though. (Let's see, if I took EVERY Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to spend on nothing else but quilting . . . )

There's a new post with pictures up over on my quilting blog if you're interested in checking it out.

This coming week looks as if it's going to be a busy one so I think it's time for me to go take a long, hot shower and get into bed early tonight. I'll have pleasant dreams of the last three days and all the ideas I came up with for new quilting projects!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Very Thoughtful Gesture

Do you remember earlier this week I said I was going to stop at the florist's in town and purchase some fresh flowers to help make the inside of the house seem chirkier and perkier? Well, I did. I got three red carnations and three white carnations. I happen to really like carnations and as cut flowers, they last a long time.

I brought them home and put them in a vase with some evergreen boughs and the six stems looked . . . pathetic. They just didn't create the colorful arrangement I had envisioned.

In the summer when I can grow flowers in the garden, I almost always have a bouquet or two in the house. But fresh flowers in the winter are expensive and I couldn't justify the cost of as many blooms as I needed to make a nice display. Oh, well. I decided to just enjoy my wimpy bouquet and look forward to the flowers of the summer months.

Our daughter stopped by the night I had gotten the flowers and they made the same unimpressive impression on her. Oh, well again.

So the next night when our daughter came to pick up her dogs, she entered with one hand behind her back. Guess what she presented to me? Yup. A whole big, lovely bunch of fresh flowers to add to my little arrangement.

I started to beat her up for spending money she doesn't have on the flowers but she quickly explained that she "got a really good deal" on them.

The gal who owns the floral shop in town is a friend of Chicken Mama's and also displays and sells her photographic greeting cards. When CM stopped in to deliver her assortment of Valentine cards to S, they were discussing that I had been in to purchase flowers. I don't know if they both felt sorry for me and my paltry bouquet or what, but I sure came out the winner, no doubt about it.

Didn't I end up with a gorgeous bunch of flowers? Needless to say, I thanked my dear, thoughtful daughter and will do the same next time I'm in town and can stop in the floral shop and thank S. A couple of lovely ladies who gave me a bunch of lovely flowers that I am enjoying to the utmost.

I spent the whole day again today in the quilt studio. It took me all day to get the wall hanging machine quilted. Tomorrow I'll get the binding on along with a hanging sleeve and it will be done and ready to go to Chicken Mama's office.

Another really good day spent quilting but now I'm in serious need of a massage for sore neck and shoulder muscles. I've gotta learn to do machine quilting without tensing up so much!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Home Quilt Retreat - Day One

Just put up a blog post over at Mama Pea Quilts with some pictures detailing my day today. If you're interested, go on over there to take a peek.

More fun tomorrow!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can I Do It?

Here's what I'm thinking of doing. Taking the next three days starting tomorrow . . . that would be Friday, Saturday and Sunday . . . to hole up in my quilt studio to quilt. And quilt. And quilt.

Obviously, I'll come out to periodically eat, sleep and visit the bathroom. If I feel like it. I know there will be things that I'll have to tend to throughout the day but I'm going to try extremely hard to keep those things to a minimum. I want to feel free to spend as much guilt-free time in my quilt studio as I wish for the next three days.

I've been working toward that end by getting organized today. I've made a list of "convenience" foods in the freezer, stocked the refrig with staples that can be pulled together for easy meals, and spiffed up the house because I know I couldn't ignore the frolicking of dust bunnies and a cruddy-looking sink when I made passes through the house on the way to bedroom or bathroom.

Dear hubby supports me in this venture. Matter of fact, he'll be gone all of Saturday so that actually makes that whole day less complicated. And he just said tonight that he'll handle all the dish washing for the weekend. Praise be!

I'll no doubt need breaks to unkink parts of my body now and then so will get outside for short periods to breathe some fresh (cold!) air to invigorate and re-energize. I'll probably check e-mails and blogs now and then. With luck I might even have some new pictures to share of what's happenin' in the quilt studio.

This is a big deal for me. It's something I've never done before. I've gone to quilting retreats that have lasted three days, but putting all other responsibilities aside while still at home is extremely hard.

I know this sounds on the weird side for all you gals out there with an outside job and/or kiddlies still at home. I can hear you wondering why the heck, at this stage of my life, I'm not free to do exactly what I want each and every day of the week. Well, I've always been the kind of person who keeps working, working, working thinking I'll take "time off" when I get the To Do list finished. But as anybody with half a brain knows (duh), the To Do list will NEVER get done.

I'm trying to make some changes in my life. To quote again the words of Marie Beynon Ray that I wrote in this blog at the first of the year:

"Begin now doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity. We have only this
Moment, sparkling like a star in our hand ---
And melting like a snowflake."

Can I do it? I don't know. I've never been able to take more than a few hours "off" right here at home. Too many things calling to me that "should" be done. But I have a felling I'll enjoy vacationing at home (it's a pretty nice place to be) if I can just learn how to do it. And I'll never know if I can do it . . . unless I try.