Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Saturday to Savor

A light rain was still coming down this morning when we got up. Now at 4:45 p.m. the temp has risen all the way up to 38 degrees. A combination of another day of light drizzle and the slightly warmer temps has just about taken care of our recent 2+" snowfall.

It's been a perfect day for being inside, doing putzy little things around the house, catching up on reading blogs, paying bills, spending a little time quilting and baking some cookies.

Although I'm not near the cookie monster that my hubby is I do like Almond Cookies, and I don't know why it's been so long since I've made them.

As a quick aside here, Papa Pea's Aunt Jo was interested in natural foods long, long before anyone else ever gave it much thought and one of the things she ate daily was three almonds. She claimed they contained some substance (I can't remember what she said) that would keep you from getting cancer. Apparently it worked because she died of natural causes when she was well into her nineties. What this reminiscing relates to is that I always think of her when I make these cookies with almonds in them. Okay, so the almonds ingested this way probably aren't as healthy as raw almonds would be, but they sure are tasty. I've already had to beat a couple of people off with a big stick so the whole batch didn't disappear by tonight.


3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup finely ground almonds

In a large bowl, cream softened butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and almond extract. Add the flour, soda salt and cream of tartar. Mix batter well. It will be on the dry side but get it mixed up as well as you can because you still have to add the almonds.

Dump in the ground almonds. (I grind mine in my blender. Measure your one cup of almonds after they're ground, not before. It makes a difference. You want one cup of ground almonds.) Use some elbow grease and get the almonds well mixed into the cookie dough batter.

Shape dough into balls about the size of a walnut. (Mine seem to get bigger and bigger as I work my way through the dough.) Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool on a rack. Makes approximately 60 cookies.

This is the point where I had to start whacking people so the cookies weren't all gone before I could freeze some for future use.

After I had sufficiently scared off the cookie snatchers, I got a little wild and crazy and made a little bowl of powdered sugar frosting with some almond extract and milk and fancied up the cookies a bit. They are just fine (and plenty good!) without the frosting (this is the first time I've ever thought of putting frosting on them) so don't go to this extra trouble if you aren't inclined to do so.

Hope you've had a good Saturday. I know I have!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mother Nature? We Need to Talk

Truth to tell, we can't be surprised by the snow we found at dawn this morning.

We have a little over two inches of the fluffy white stuff but the temperature is quickly rising from a low of 32 degrees overnight so it shouldn't be long before it all melts. And it's wonderful moisture for our less than adequately saturated ground, so all is well.

When darkness falls each night, our rotating solar panels automatically turn to face east where they know they'll catch the first possible rays of light as each day dawns. This morning they look a little blind with their snow-covered faces blankly tuned to an awkward northeasterly direction. (You can almost hear the conversation the panels are having. "Is this the right direction? I think east is over here somewhere? Maybe a little farther to the right? Can anybody else see anything?")

As soon as the snow melts they'll realize the error of their directional way and right themselves. And my mounds of snow-covered, perky, chirky, luxuriantly green chives will emerge and be fine. I hope.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What The Heck Is A Haskap Berry?

That's what I said when Papa Pea announced a month ago that he wanted to order a couple of haskap berry plants this spring. Of course, he came with this proposal armed with propaganda extolling the virtues of this relatively "new" berry.

Seems they have been grown successfully in Canada for some time. The small blue fruit tastes like a cross between a blueberry and raspberry and has twice as many antioxidants as blueberries. (Who doesn't need more antioxidants these days?) The haskaps are sometimes known as honeyberries and grow wild in some areas of Canada, North America and in Japan and Russia. Wine made from haskap berries supposedly has a similar flavor to red grape wine. Such grapes can be difficult to grow in northern climates like ours so the fruit for future wine making would be a definite plus if we could cultivate them here.

Haskaps typically ripen in late June in Canada, a couple of weeks before strawberries. (For us, that would be much earlier than blueberries or raspberries.) Like blueberry bushes, they don't yield much until 3 or 4 years after being planted. Supposedly they bear fruit into August and even into September in cool summers which we often have in our locale.

If you're interested in more info on the haskap berry, you could check out a couple of sites. One is The Haskap Canada Association ( or

Well, our cute little haskap bushes-to-be arrived in the mail yesterday. Only problem? We don't really have an area ready for planting them. (None of you can relate to this happening, right?)

We've been wanting to expand our blueberry patch to hold more blueberry bushes. So it seemed like that area would be a good place for our three experimental haskap bushes.

That's why this afternoon Papa Pea dragged me kicking and screaming out of my quilt room so we could plot out the expanded berry patch area. The plan was for Papa Pea to go ahead and dig the holes where we would plant the haskaps even though they will be in the middle of sod that will have to tilled up later this spring as soon as the ground is dry enough.

You can maybe just make out the orange baling twine running across the bottom part of Papa Pea's leg in the above picture. That's how far past (toward me and the camera) where he is digging the holes the sod will have to be tilled up.

This is taken from the other end of the blueberry patch showing the long side that will also have to be tilled.

We try to follow the biodynamic method of planting (going by the moon signs) so when Papa Pea had the holes ready and came in for the haskap plants, it occurred to him to check if it was the right moon sign to plant fruit. Ooops. Last Monday would have been a good day. But not today. Not until after 1 p.m. this coming Monday afternoon or until most of the day on Tuesday.

So he decided to call it quits for today. (On this particular project anyway.) The holes are totally prepared and the plants . . .

. . . will be perfectly fine on our enclosed back porch until next Monday. Now if Mother Nature will just cooperate and not send us a raging blizzard on Monday and Tuesday of next week . . .

P.S. Hop on over to my quilting blog to see who won the three quilting patterns and what (little) I've accomplished in my quilt room today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Seeking A Little Energy

I don't have much faith I will be receiving any great amounts (of energy, that is) until at least tomorrow morning after a full night's sleep. (Or at least I'm hoping for a full night's sleep tonight.) I definitely did not get one last night. Lights out around 10:30. Wide awake at 3:30. Hmmm. Five hours sleep is not enough to enable this gal to get up and do what needs to be done.

Laid there trying to think pleasant, sleep-inducing thoughts until 5 a.m. at which time I stomped into my quilting room (yes, I was irritated at not being able to sleep and threw a little bit of fabric around for a few minutes) and then worked on making little flags for 4th of July decorations. (Do you think I'll remember come July that my insomnia in March helped me get these little flags done?)

On the weather front, we've fallen right back into more normal (read: cold) temperatures for this time of year. It was 24 degrees at 5 o'clock this morning and we hit our high for the day of 36 at about mid-afternoon. Freezing rain forecast tomorrow and Wednesday. Not nice, Mama Nature, not nice.

Chicken Mama joined us for dinner tonight. We had pancakes, bacon and a green tossed salad on the side.

The pancakes were garnished with some of Chicken Mama's homemade blueberry-raspberry syrup. Mmmm-mm, it was good!

It's time for a little give-a-way over on my quilting blog. Even if you don't quilt, you could win something nice to give to a quilting friend. Croggle on over and take a look!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Egg and I

Last night while cleaning eggs, I came upon this one with a flat side.

If I put it down on any side except the very flat side, it would immediately flip itself onto the flat side. Hmmmmmm . . .

It also had a dent in it. It's not a crack, but a dent. Hmmmmmm . . .

It also was very heavy. Like there was something in there more than just the normal yolk and white. Hmmmmmm . . . (Looks kinda like a potato, doesn't it?)

I made Papa Pea crack it open into a dish this morning because I was afraid something really WEIRD was in that egg.

Surprise, surprise! It was just a very big, healthy looking egg. I cooked it and fed it to Papa Pea for breakfast.

(Ah, yes, the interesting things that go on in my life . . . )

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pathetic I Know . . .

But it's still so very early for us to be this far along into spring that I had to show you. Our signs of a very early spring are far behind most of you elsewhere in the country, but because it's still about 6 weeks ahead of a normal year for us this far north, I have to document with these pics.

I do believe you could actually see these little buggers (otherwise known as chives) growing if you sat down and watched. The tallest are about 6" high now.

The Leopard's Bane are my earliest flowers to show greenery each spring.

The lilac bushes are budding out.

The buds on the apple trees are about the very same size as the lilacs right now.

We had an all-day rain yesterday (with more forecast for tomorrow) and our rain gauge showed 1/2" which was great to get. Not a huge amount but it came down very gently and soaked into the ground so none of it was lost to run-off. I'm pretty sure it must have taken care of the last of the frost in the ground, too.

Got another post up over on my quilting blog tonight. It was Thursday today, you know, and that means Mama Pea tries to quilt all day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Do You Like Casseroles?

Although my husband does love a good hearty meat and potatoes meal put down in front of him, he also likes casseroles. I think he and I both grew up eating casserole dishes because our moms knew it was a good way to feed a family economically. Sometimes there wasn't a lot of meat in the casserole but other good ingredients compensated for that.

This recipe I'm posting today would be just fine with half the amount of meat in it. Really. At least, it would be for me, but hubby would just as soon I use the whole pound of ground beef . . . 'cause a hard-workin' fella needs his protein, ya know. (Ya sure, you betcha.)

Whichever way you prefer it, not so much meat or chock full of meat, I think you might like this casserole. Any leftovers are great heated up the next day, too.

* * * * * * * *


8 slices (approximately) bread
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Good dash black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Toast slices of bread and spread with butter. Cut to fit into the bottom of a greased 9" square baking dish.

Mix ground beef, onion, celery, prepared mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in skillet and cook until meat is slightly browned.

Sprinkle the toast in the baking dish with approximately 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Then add half of the meat mixture. Place another layer of buttered toast over the meat, add another 1/2 cup of grated cheese and the last of the meat mixture. End by adding the last 1/2 cup of grated cheese as a top layer.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, milk, dry mustard, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour over the layers in the pan. Sprinkle some paprika over the top.

Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for 30-35 minutes.

NOTES: Because I'm a mustard lover, I usually use more prepared mustard than the 1 tablespoon in the recipe. I've never had anybody complain and I think it gives the casserole more of a "cheeseburger" flavor. You might want to adjust the amount according to your personal taste.

I've made this casserole over the years with all kinds of bread. (It's a great way to use up slightly stale bread.) This past weekend I made it with rye bread and it was yummy. Actually, you couldn't taste the rye flavor at all.

I've also used other yellow cheeses when I didn't have any sharp cheddar.

* * * * * * * *

If you get a chance to try it, I hope this casserole proves to be a good one for you and your family. A cold beer (if you indulge in that sort of thing), a green salad and a chunk of Cheeseburger Casserole . . . not a bad meal!

P.S. I just put up a new post on my quilting blog. Nothing to eat, but something to look at!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Picking Money Off the Money Tree

For the middle/end of March in the northwoods, it stayed remarkably warm last night. The low temp overnight was in the low 50s. Unheard of for this time of year, I say, unheard of!

Last night a bit after 9 o'clock, we decided to grab our sweatshirts and go sit out on the deck and gaze up at the stars. There were about fourteen billion (I counted 'em) up there, one or two planets visible and I think we saw a couple of satellites moving across the sky.

Anyway, we got to talking about how fortunate we are to live where we do and what a little oasis we have. Then we started fantasizing about what we would do if we had an unlimited supply of money to work with. Oh, boy.

Actually I think it was my brain that was on overdrive and I kept coming up with different ideas and suggestions. Papa Pea was right with me though and made plenty of comments and chimed in with a lot of " . . . and then we could . . . "

What did we discuss? Well . . .

- A new expanded deck. Ours is literally falling apart and we have to do something this summer to provide a stop-gap, for safety's sake if nothing else. I've always dreamed of extending the deck out to the south (the yard slopes gently away from the house and present deck) with another deck area two or three steps down. Maybe screen in the present existing deck so we could sit or sleep out there on muggy nights without fear of being sucked dry by our Minnesota mosquitoes that are the size of pileated woodpeckers.

- A huge storage shed in the back for all of the "stuff" we need to keep under cover and protected.

- Vehicle storage. Probably a four-bay, three-sided pole building would do the trick. We have room for one vehicle in the garage, but that means that area has to be kept clear of any of the myriad of projects that are usually going on in there. As a result, ALL of the vehicles sit outside unprotected.

- Another wood shed. I know, we already have two big ones but that's not enough. For example, this year we used very little wood because of the mild winter. One of our sheds hasn't been touched and the other one is still a good three-quarters full. (Not a bad problem to have, huh?) We have a huge stack of wood in the back yard (a HUGE stack) which we want to get processed this summer. If we had a third shed to fill, we would be about two years ahead on dry, seasoned wood even if we next had a couple of severe winters in a row. As it is, we're going to have to cut, split and stack the wood on the ground and try to cover it with tarps . . . no simple task.

- A garden shed for all my tools and equipment down in the garden area. I spend too much time walking back and forth when I'm working in the garden. Besides, I'd design it as a rustic, but lovely, little building that would add to the garden landscape.

- A new, slightly bigger chicken house. The one we built when we moved here sixteen years ago looks pretty tough. We designed it purposely small so our few chickens could keep it warm with their body heat. It's butt-ugly and, for convenience sake, needs some design modifications.

- A barn. The chicken house issue would be solved if we could build the barn we've always wanted. The chickens would be incorporated into the barn. Plus, then we could get goats again. We have a perfect area for a goat pasture . . .

- Which would have to be fenced in with 7' high deer fencing and strands of electric wire to provide protection for the goats from the wolf population which seems to be ever-growing in our area.

- A guest apartment. We have a storage area on our second floor that could be remodeled for this purpose. We have only one bedroom and one bathroom in our house and nowhere to put up guests. These guest quarters would have a small cooking stove, refrigerator and bathroom. Beds, too, of course. It could be designed so it would have its own outside stairway entrance.

Ah, yes, dream on. I think that's a pretty realistic list of what we would actually do if we could harvest ample amounts of money off the money tree. (Well, except for helping a certain daughter of ours, but it kinda hurts to even think about that because it's not possible in reality.)

Okay. Now what would YOU do if there was no limit of cash available? If you would take off on an extended vacation across country, that's fine. Your list should be something that would bring you joy, contentment and make you do a happy dance every day. Anybody?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Short Shots

Isn't it strange when you hear or think or read of one thing and it brings back a memory from long ago about something else? Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg! did that for me today when she wrote something in her post about her car and driving.

It reminded me of when one of my aunts decided she wanted to get her driver's license when she was in her late forties/early fifties. None of her grown kids were willing to teach her how to drive nor would her husband. So she called a driving school and signed up.

And by gar, she got her license, the second or third time she took the test if I remember correctly. From then on she always complained that the only member of the family who would ride with her when she was driving was Coalie, their black lab. But that was okay, she said, pouting a little. Coalie was always willing and eager to ride shotgun with her.

* * * * * *

Speaking of dogs, our Zoey the Wonder Dog died a year ago next month. No, we haven't gotten another dog yet. It just hasn't been the right time. For about the last year or so of her life, she didn't seem comfortable riding long distances so we left her home when we went on day trips to the big city. She was happy home alone for the day catching up on her beauty sleep but always eagerly greeted us when we got home at the end of our long day.

Last week we trekked to the city on Wednesday and when we arrived home in the early evening, for that split second as we unlocked the door and let ourselves in, we both were about to call out, "We're home, Zoe! Come on out and go potty." I wonder how long memories and habits like that stay with you?

* * * * * *

I am so, so grateful we are able to pay our bills and meet our expenses on our retirement income. On a day to day basis we're both busier than hepped up bees doing a gajillion and one things around here and enjoying what we're doing. Last night as we were winding down for bedtime, I told Papa Pea how very glad I was that neither one of us had to go to work this Monday morning outside the home to supplement our income in these days of "retirement." I know it's not so with everyone in our age bracket these days. I'm so thankful that we're doing okay financially and able to be home together enjoying our days to the hilt. Amen!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This Is Just Wrong!

We had a temperature that came close to hitting 80 degrees today. In the middle of March? In northern Minnesota? When we should still be slogging through piles of snow measured in feet? I don't know about everybody else, but this weather is making me very uneasy. This is the wall area to the left of the doorway going out into our entry room (our mud room, of sorts). Want to know what that little sign says above the light switch?

It says', "Let It Snow," and I hung it there late last fall. I think it's time to take it down.

We were sitting eating dinner tonight when Papa Pea remarked, "Ya know, your decorations just don't look . . . right anymore."

Boy, that's for sure! These snowmen gracing the top of our kitchen cabinets do not match what's going on outside our doors and windows.

Nor does this snowman on the toboggan or the ceramic mitten on my spice rack.

Yep, I think it's definitely time to change my decorations tomorrow because there is no snow and the temperature is as warm as it gets in the middle of summer in northern Minnesota.

And that's just wrong!

Friday, March 16, 2012

End of the Week Ramblings

It's been a wonky, whacky week. I don't know what day I think this should be, but for some reason it doesn't feel like a Friday.

I got about three-quarters of a day to work on quilting yesterday which wasn't as much as I would have liked but better than a boot in the butt just the same. Hubby has a fun day planned for this coming Sunday with a good guy friend so I think I'm going to squeak in some more quilting time that day.

Today I did a bit of heavy house cleaning which felt good. Now that it's done it feels good anyway. I'm still washing loads of throw rugs as we speak. We had a gorgeous weather day and had windows and doors opened up until a short time ago. This is the earliest spring weather we've experienced in the thirty-eight years we've lived in northern Minnesota. Should we tread carefully, do ya think?

The picture above was taken on April 1st of 2009. The shot is of our neighbor's house. The "lump" showing in the right foreground is the top of the post at the end of their deck railing. They had been gone for a couple of weeks and we were keeping an eye on their property for them. We had to hand shovel the deck so they could get in their door when they returned the next day, and plow their 1/2 mile driveway. (Ask us how many times we got the truck stuck in that heavy, wet snow.)

Then this was an April 20th snowstorm the same year. So you can readily see, normally we can get a lot of snow in March AND April.

But this year it's been so darn warm, I have to wonder if I dare chance planting some things in one of my raised beds right now if I put a cold frame over it. I went out into the garden today to clean the debris off my two chive plants. I was surprised the chives (underneath all that mulch) weren't as far along as I suspected they might be because of the warm weather. The soil in the raised beds is still very wet, but I'll bet in a week it will be just fine for planting. So even though it's unheard of to plant this early up here in the Northwoods, I just may give it a go.

I'm hoping to get back on track of more regular posting again. As I say, this past week has been less than normal so my regular routine kinda went out the window.

I did just get a post up on my quilting blog showing what I did on Thursday. Click here if you want to zoom on over there for a quick peek.

P.S. I've got to change my blog header photo because nearly every speck of our snow is gone, gone, gone.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

All I've Got

Considering many of you have already planted seeds outside, either under cold frames or not, my paltry pictures of spring in the northland don't look like much. But because of our lack of snow this winter and our unseasonably warm temperatures, I actually did find some green sprouts already up in the garden today.

You may need a strong magnifying glass to see them, but my chives are sprouting! I leave the old, dead clump of last-of-the-season chives as a mulch on the plants over winter so have to watch carefully to get the dead stuff cleaned up and off before the chives show much growth. Looks like it's about time to do that right now. Good old reliable chives . . . the first greens!

Most of the snow has disappeared from the raised beds and although the soil is saturated with moisture right now, it won't be long before the beds will dry out enough to be workable. I'm going to be planting some cool weather crops under cold frames on top of the raised beds very early this year.

The mulched area beyond the beds in the picture is my strawberry patch that is within the field garden. I wonder if I'll be able to uncover them early? If so, we might be looking at an early start to the berry harvest this year.

It's really too early for it to be spring-like up here near the tundra but with our overnight temps staying at 40 degrees and in the 60s out in the sun today, it sure feels like spring. We have doors and windows open and are reveling in the fresh, warm air.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Done with 9-1/2 Months to Spare

I got my five Hand Made Pay It Forward gifts packaged up today and ready to be mailed tomorrow.

One of the rules of this fun project was that it had to be done by the end of 2012. I knew that once we jumped back into our remodeling next month and gardening started and the hurry-flurry of good ol' summertime hit, I might not have time to get the hand made thingies done. So I've been working on them for a couple of weeks, on and off, finished them up and did the final packaging today.

I'm glad they are done and ready to wend their way to different locations all over the country . . . and I gotta say it really was fun to do!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Great Afternoon Quilting

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon quilting today and got a lot accomplished. But the fun isn't over yet. Papa Pea is wanting to watch a "guy" movie tonight that I have no interest in so I'll get in some more quilting time. Now there's a win-win situation, if you ask me!

If you care to see what I did on the quilting scene today, pop on over to my quilting blog.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

If Yesterday Was Thursday . . .

. . . why wasn't I quilting?

Answer: Life got in the way. You all know very well how that happens. I made a couple of feeble attempts to settle in my quilt room, but neither lasted very long.

The morning started with the usual routine while I finished simmering a large pot of Bean Soup and got it packaged up for the freezer. Then the day just started happening with phone calls, necessary small confabs between hubby and me, drop-ins, and other miscellaneous everyday situations to deal with. Chicken Mama was in town (on her day off, unfortunately) to meet with a website client so stopped here on her way home to have a phone consultation and then help me with some computer questions I had for her.

In the afternoon, I gave up trying to quilt and made some Wild Rice Soup and a kettle of spaghetti sauce which I could do while directing traffic and handling other random goings-on at the same time.

I thought maybe I could serve a simple, warmed up dinner (remember the Tagliarini leftovers?) and then quilt for a couple of hours last night . . . but, phooey, by that time I was tired and thinking about an early bedtime. Plan B? Get in some quilting time today . . . which I'm gonna try my durndest to make happen.

So, no quilting going on in the past week but I have been sneaking in little periods of time to do some handwork.

I've been experimenting with the crocheted rag rug techniques to make some hot pads.

I thought these could be used on an informal table (as if I ever set any other kind) to hold pots of soup or hot casserole dishes. Fun to do and they sure do take a lot less time than a 2' x 3' rug!

On to breakfast now and another great day. Hope you have one, too!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Great Big Skillet Full

I made this dish for dinner last night and wanted to share it with you. It's from Betty Crocker's Outdoor Cook Book, copyrighted 1961. My copy is held together with a thick rubber band because both front and back covers have long ago fallen away from the pages of the book.

It's a great meal for a casual company dinner . . . as popular as a favorite soup would be, but much easier to serve. The name of the dish is Tagliarini and in the book it's described as "a hearty Italian skillet dish with noodles, meat, tomatoes, corn and olives." (I wonder what "tagliarini" means in Italian. Anybody know? Jane? Ice Man?)


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Few grains cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 cans (15-16 oz. each) Italian-style tomatoes (I use stewed tomatoes.)
1 can (10 oz.) whole kernel corn with liquid (I use 2 cups frozen corn and one cup
1 can (7 oz.) pitted ripe olives, drained
4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) noodles, uncooked
1/2 to 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Heat olive oil in large heavy skillet. Brown meat.

(Above picture is with remaining ingredients just added but not mixed)

Add remaining ingredients except cheese and cook covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. Remove lid from skillet and cook another 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and fold carefully into the mixture and serve. 8 servings.

If you don't have a really large skillet, you might want to make this in a medium sized stock pot because it does make a big bunch. I used my biggest skillet and it was a little difficult to stir because the skillet was so full.

Because there were just three of us for dinner last night, I have plenty leftover, but that's a good thing as my husband LOVES it and it tastes really good reheated.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Am Thankful For . . .

. . . the look of my new kitchen cabinets. (Some people [ahem] didn't think my idea would work.)

. . . my comfy bed. (Hubby complains of the dip in the middle, but I don't notice it 'cause I'm a dyed-in-the-wool cuddler.)

. . . like-minded bloggers. (You make me laugh and cry, you support and cheer me on, you generously share your knowledge and offer true friendship.)

. . . a husband who is cheerful and positive 99% of the time. (We are both even-tempered; his temper is always good, mine is always bad.)

. . . friends who call to say thank you for small favors. (There are still lots of kind, caring people out there.)

. . . living in an area that has a low rate of crime. (There are many disadvantages to living where we do. These are balanced with some very big advantages.)

. . . good garden soil for growing good food. (I am all a'quiver waiting to get at my gardening this year!)

. . . lots of wood in our wood sheds and lots of wood stacked in the yard to be cut. (Our mild winter has been extremely easy on the bounty our wood sheds hold. Plus, we have a mountain of wood waiting to be cut that is paid for.)

. . . Mondays because they are the start of a brand new week. (Every day is a new beginning --- especially Mondays!)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Using the Bountiful Harvest

The bountiful harvest in the freezer, that is.

Friends of ours have a cabin in Idaho and whenever they come back from a trip there, they bring us a passel of blackberries. They are huge and succulent and grow wild out there. They say the bushes are very large and plentiful but you take your life into your hands picking the fruit because of the nasty thorns.

Needless to say, we really luck out in being handed these berries without any of the work!

Today I decided to use them in baking a pie which I've not done before. I used my recipe for Winter Raspberry Crumble Pie simply substituting the blackberries for the raspberries. If you're interested in this pie recipe, scroll way down on my right hand side bar and type in Winter Raspberry Crumble Pie in the Search box. The post that will pop up with the date of December 5, 2008 contains the recipe.

I'm happy to report that the pie with the blackberries came out just great. I know the huge empty part of the pie plate devoid of pie looks bad, but I just wanna state that we did have help eating it.

Some time I'm going to try making Blackberry Jam out of the berries. That sounds really good to me, toast and jam lover that I am.

She Earns Her Keep

Currently we have only one bantam hen. She's a Golden Laced Cochin and, if our math skills (and memories) are correct, she's 5 years old.

She's still giving us 2-3 eggs each week and has been all winter. (Banty eggs in the back.) Now, is that a grateful hen . . . or is she simply an over-achiever?

Gotta love those banties!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Relax and Breathe

I foolishly made the proclamation last night that I was going to spend the whole day at my desk today getting caught up on many, many things that have been sliding by the wayside for too long.

Catch up on e-mails owed, order some probiotics we're out of and a couple of other things, pay a couple of bills, sort through the stacks on my desk top to make sure I haven't lost a couple of bills, sort through and throw away catalogs that came in two or three months ago, go through the catalogs I can't bear to jettison without checking out, order some new audio books for my husband from library, catch up on blog reading and leaving comments, get up this new post and one on my quilt blog, sort out some files that are keeping the file drawer from closing, maybe even look through that new cook book I got two weeks ago . . . puff-pant, shall I go on?

So how am I doin'? Not so good, she says in a pitiful little voice. I did have to stop to make a run to the post office and return some materials that were due today at the library, but other than that I've really been working hard at the desk. I guess, just like all other things we try to do, it always takes more time than we imagine it will. Wouldn't ya think we'd get smarter when looking at a task and judging how long it will take to complete it? Yep, ya would think that. Sigh.

Persevering in my efforts to change, to not get uptight, to stop pushing myself mentally and physically when it's not really necessary, to ignore my monkey mind telling me I don't work hard enough or get enough accomplished, I shall slow down in order to enjoy what I did get done and get pleasure out of the moment. I refuse to get my undies in a bundle and end up cranky and emotionally exhausted today.

Relax and breathe. Take a few moments to appreciate my good life and all I have to be thankful for. Sit here and look at the top of my desk (which is now about 50% visible) and be happy that it looks so much better than it did first thing this morning. No, I haven't accomplished all I thought I would and that's okay. I did a pretty good job on what I did. (Besides, nobody's gonna fire me, that's for sure.)

It's almost time to start dinner preparations. A yummy taco salad for which Chicken Mama will join us tonight. I'm good. I'm okay. I'm relaxing and breathing . . . and appreciating. Hey, I think I may be making some progress here. (Now where's that good red wine I opened a couple of days ago?)

P.S. Just got a post up over on my quilt blog. Go over and take a look if you wish.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Month of March

Although most of us (in our own little corners of this country) can still expect to experience the blustery, sometimes biting winds of March (if not some snow, sleet, hail, ice, slush, rain or combinations thereof), it is technically the birth month of Spring.

In a way, March is akin to the first of the New Year in that it has the felling of a new start, fresh and wonderful things to come.

Some people might suggest it's a good time for cleaning, reorganizing and generally spiffing up your home environment. Others of us will try to avoid such outlandish activity and cling to indoor exertions more along the lines of sewing, quilting, knitting and snuggling under a quilt on the couch with a good book.

Each year the month of March reminds me of something I did (in March) way back in the 1980s. We were living on our first homestead here in Minnesota, a ways farther out of town than we do now. Hubby and daughter went off to school every day leaving me as head of the homestead and all that entailed. I'm imagining this particular March was during a time (there were a few such times if memory serves me correctly) when we had only one working, reliable (reliable being the operative word) vehicle and unless I wanted to go to town with the troops first thing in the morning and wait until they could come home at night, I stayed on ye ol' homestead for weeks at a time.

Since we ate a lot of soups (still do, always have), I decided I needed some new recipes to add to my repertoire. So the first of March I sat down with some cook books and made a list (a long list) of new soups I would make a concentrated effort to try out during the next thirty-one days.

No, I didn't make a new soup every single day, but I did cook, stew and simmer my way through that whole month of March. And do you know what? I ended up with a nice bunch of soup recipes added to my recipe box that I still make frequently to this day.

So, I ask myself, why haven't I embarked on the same kind of adventure again since then? Not to find more soup recipes, but think of the possibilities. A month of trying out new breads. Casseroles. Main dishes with eggs and/or cheese. Sandwiches. Of course, I could always concentrate on cookies, pies or other yummy desserts, but in the name of trying to be a smidge bit healthy here, let's stick with those first categories that came to mind.

Yup, my little experimental culinary adventure during the month of March so long ago is worth repeating.

Maybe next year, I'll look back on . . . say, the month of April . . . and remember it as the month I found that perfect rye bread recipe. Or . . . could it really happen? . . . the month I learned to make a good sourdough!