Sunday, February 28, 2016

Spring for a Day and a Repeat Recipe

Oh my, did we ever get a taste (a real teaser) of spring time yesterday!  Our thermometer in the shade read 42°, and I know it must have been at least 50° out in the bright sunshine.  We could almost watch the snow melting.

Now today we have 20° and a steady snow has been falling all morning.  Typical, crazy, back and forth weather for late winter/almost early spring in our area.

* * * * * * * *

This morning Kristina over at Pioneer Woman at Heart wrote about a dinner dish she made up last night that was a hit at her house.  She called it Mexican Linguine, and it reminded me of an Italian dish that's a favorite in our house.

I did a post on my Tagliarini just about exactly four years ago (in March of 2012 . . . my, how time flies), and I thought it was worth repeating again here.  I admit I haven't made it in a while, but Kristina's post reminded me of it so I think it may appear on the menu this coming week.

Although guys especially seem to like it, it's popular with females, too.  Once on a camping trip with some good friends, I made it for an evening meal.  The following morning in our camp, we were all sitting around the fire sipping our morning brews when I asked what we should make for breakfast.

"I don't know what anybody else wants," said Rose, "but I'm eating more of that leftover Tagliarini."

It is just as good heated up the next day (some would say even better) so don't be daunted by the big batch the recipe makes.  Unless you're serving a whole soccer team (or two teenage sons), you'll have enough for some yummy leftovers.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I had such a well-planned list made for today.  Wonder where I went astray?

There's a need to be organized (or-gan-ized . . . hmm, must look up the definition of that word), because on Monday of this week we made a trip to the big city (which takes all day) to leave our Suburban truck to have its back end worked on . . . something about a bad bearing.  I also took along both of my sewing machines to be left and serviced as neither of them had been checked over in a coon's age, and I was having minor problems with both of them.

Now we're looking at shooting another whole day going back to pick up the truck and my machines.  Okay, so I shouldn't look at it as "wasting" the day certainly.  Rather I'm actually thankful we have a reliable place to have good work done on the truck, and the shop where I purchased my sewing machines, many long years ago, does their own repairs right on the premises and is more than fair in what they charge for the services.

However, it's not the best time of the year to be traveling the roads as our temps have been hovering right around freezing with rain/sleet/snow falling which can lead to unsafe driving conditions.  Our trip on Monday was on clear roads (thankfully) except for the fact that the deer are out and moving about in numbers right now, and you have to drive with eyes constantly peeled for the critters trying to cross the road . . . usually right in front of you.

I did manage to get a batch of cookies made late this afternoon for my husband who finds it difficult to drive long distances without cookies to sustain him.

Our good ol' hens (new chickies ordered for this spring), all eight of the old girls, have been giving us four eggs a day consistently all winter.  Can't complain about that.

Also in the above picture you can see a couple of balls of pie crust I pulled out of the freezer to make a cherry pie for which I've had a hankering.  The balls of crust are, as of this writing, still waiting to be made into said pie, but there's a chance that could still happen tonight.  Maybe.

What was the first item on that list I made for today?  Clear Off Desk Top.  How'm I doin'?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Winter of No Sun

Oh, woe is me, how long are these gray, damp, dreary, sunless days going to drag on??

Solar power energy, sadly lacking.  Sunshine for greenhouse growing, near to non-existent.  Ice on all outdoor surfaces covered with water, good fer nuthin'!

Along with our grayness this winter, we've had higher than normal temperatures.  Wouldn't you think we who choose to live up here near the tundra would be happy about that?

Not so.

Temperatures above freezing this time of year mean lots of melting.  You might think that would indicate the snow will disappear earlier than usual and green grass and warm garden soil are just around the corner.  Nope.  What it means is ice.  And more ice.

No one is too happy about the thawing going on at the moment.  We all know freezing weather is most likely getting ready to descend upon us once again which means all this melting will soon be hard ice rather than the slippery, sloppy liquid we're presently sloshing around in.

For the past week or so we've had rain/sleet/freezing drizzle with a small amount of snow thrown into the mix.  We still have March, and most likely a good part of April, to get through with temps cold enough for real snowfall.  (Did you know, on the average, we get the most inches of our snow in the month of March?  No wonder spring doesn't come early up here.)

There is still plenty of cold weather to come in the next month two months three (?!) months.  We're certain to have more snow which, to my mind, is so much more preferable than the awful, damp, wet-wet-wet weather we're experiencing right now.

On the up side, and there always is an up side if we choose to focus on it, this weather is perfectly fine for inside projects.  (And also an intelligent choice rather than literally risky life and limb by being outside on the treacherous ice any more than necessary.)

Take for instance:

Reading -- I'm actually finishing books before
they're due back at the library.

Knitting -- Eighth (!) pair of socks nearly

Garage Cleaning -- Husband's current task
and, boy howdy, is he making good progress.

Plans for New Grow Houses and Poultry
Pens -- Again, mainly Papa Pea's endeavors,
but I get to put in my two cents' worth.

Sorting Through (way too many) Books
in My Quilt Room -- Twelve (oh, the fortitude
I'm exhibiting) are slated to go to
the library for their annual book sale.

Baking Bread -- Still at it, today
it's a new recipe for good ol' white bread.

Preparing and Eating Those Meals That Taste
the Best This Time of Year --
Today it's pork chops, homemade
sauerkraut, scalloped potatoes,
fresh frozen Brussels sprouts from the
garden and gingerbread with
whipped cream for dessert.

Ordering Some Things I've Been
Agonizing and Debating About For-EVAH --
Hubby's unspoken opinion:  "Oh, fer
criminy sakes, just DO it and be
done with it!"

Taking a Snooze on the Couch -
Tried that the other day and felt AWFUL
when I got up.  The body (or at least mine)
is not meant to sleep during daylight hours.

Still, there might be more energy and enthusiasm for the above listed inside projects (and who knows how many more) if some bright sunshine could be seen through the windows.  We sure wouldn't complain about that.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I've Been Thinking

Have you ever known a person who insists on dominating the conversation in any grouping in which she/he finds her/himself?  And why hasn't anyone taken this person aside and kindly explained how much it irritates and makes other people feel uncomfortable?  (Or maybe this has been done, but it hasn't made any difference.)

Why is it that when you go to the library because you're hungering for a really good book to read, one time you won't be able to find a single book to bring home with you and the next time you carry home four books that look absolutely fascinating, three of which you'll never find time to open?

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when working with a professional in trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I was asked to describe in writing myself as a color, why I chose that color and how I felt being that color.  A bit kookie maybe, but you might want to try it sometime.  I was very surprised at what I wrote.

I have been baking bread (all different kinds . . . some old tried and true recipes, some new ones) like a mad woman lately.  I can't seem to stop.  My daughter thinks I am a mad woman as every time she's walked into our house for the past couple of weeks, I'm kneading bread, rising bread, baking bread or taking it out of the oven.  (No, we're not eating all this bread  [burp].  I am getting a good back-log in the freezer though.)

When my daughter cries (which she does very infrequently, being the contained, emotionally-balanced female she is), she can stop shedding tears and look perfectly normal within a minute or two.  When I cry I look like I've been beaten with an ugly stick (red swollen eyes, red drippy nose, hiccupy breathing, puffy face) for two days after I've stopped.

Once when we were trying to sell a house of ours, I decided to make the kitchen look homey, pleasant and inviting by having jars of currant jelly I'd made from our currant bushes lined up on the counter.  The husband of the couple who were viewing the house said, "Honey, look at all that delicious jelly we could make if we bought this place."  To which the wife deadpanned, "Yeah, look at all the work involved in maintaining the bushes and making that jelly."  Big fail.

Every moment you're alive is a chance for a new beginning.  Each day is a fresh start.  Where there's life there's hope.  Never give up.  The best way to finish anything is to start it.  You can do more than you think you can.

Okay, that's all.  I'm done thinking.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Fun Project

My daughter asked me if I'd make a couple of potholders for a good friend of hers.  Since I just love to make and inflict potholders on everyone and anyone, I told her I'd be glad to.

K's kitchen color is blue so I told daughter to pick out some fabrics that she thought K would like, and then I picked out the old sampler blocks to use for the designs.

"Carrie Nation" on the left and "Calico Puzzle" on the right.

The backs were made of coordinating scraps.

Making the quilted potholders made me realize how much knitting I've been doing this winter, and how much I've neglected my quilting.  Must remedy that!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day to Me . . .

. . . from my dear husband.

Yesterday morning I went to visit a friend who took a nasty fall on some ice last Tuesday.  When I returned home around noon-ish, on the kitchen table I found not one but two beautiful pots of cyclamens . . . a Valentine's Day gift from my husband.  (He said he couldn't decide which one he liked better, so got both.)

The coloration of this one is even darker than the picture shows.  Some of the blossoms are nearly blue.

This one reminds me of tulips!  The buds are closed up so tightly before showing their full bloom.

Many years ago I had a cyclamen plant that bloomed steadily for over a year.  I'm hoping I can keep these going for as long.

I'm also keeping the sweet man I live with who is so thoughtful, kind and caring to remember occasions like this.  He's definitely my Cupid! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Recipe for Burger Buns

Since showing a picture of my Cheesy Onion Burger Buns in my post of last Thursday, February 4th, I've had hundreds of (okay, two) requests for the recipe.  So here it is.

Cheesy Onion Burger Buns

5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups unbleached flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 rounded tablespoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups water, 120-130°
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/2 finely chopped onion 

In large bowl thoroughly mix 2 cups flour, sugar,
salt and undissolved dry yeast.

Add softened butter.

Gradually add hot water to dry ingredients
and beat 2 minutes at medium speed
of mixer.

Add 1 cup flour and beat at high
speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occastionally.

With a spoon, stir in cheese, onion and enough
additional flour to make a soft dough.

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

Place in greased bowl, turning to
grease top.  Cover, let rise in warm place until
doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and turn out onto
lightly floured board.  Divide dough into
20 equal pieces.  Form each piece into
a smooth ball, place balls about
2" apart on greased baking sheets.

Flatten balls with palm of hand.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about
45 minutes.

Bake in 400° oven about 15-20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks. 

Notes:  I've used part whole wheat flour in this recipe with success.

I don't measure the grated cheese, just put in what looks to be about a cup.  A little more or less doesn't seem to make a difference.  Obviously, use more if you desire the cheese flavor to dominate.

Same with the finely chopped onion.  We like an onion-flavored bun so I usually put in about 1/2 cup.

After the buns have risen on the baking sheets, sometimes they will look a little too puffy to me so I smoosh them down again a little before baking.  You can make the choice if you want a higher, smaller bun or a flatter, slightly larger one.

These buns freeze beautifully and are so handy to have in the freezer to use for burgers, sloppy joes or any other sandwich that requires a bun.  They make a great breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, slice of cheese and sausage patty.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Black and White with a Splash of Color

We've been getting a bit of snow over the last few days which is finally starting to pile up and making it look like a real winter around here.  Yesterday we had that strange occurrence where it rained for a period of time with snow falling both before and after.  So, of course, we discovered when we went out for chores and clearing snow this morning that there was a coating of ice underneath the snow everywhere.

This is our back yard when we first started plowing this morning.

Our wood working area in the back is slowly being covered over with a blanket of snow.  Those maple logs are 16' long and many of them are a foot in diameter.  I'm encouraging Papa Pea not to order firewood again from the logger who delivered these.  (They were supposed to be "small" logs.)  Once the big logs are chainsawed into pieces, they have to be split, more than once, and most of them are so heavy we can't lift them up onto the splitter, but rather have to roll them up a plank.  Oooof.  Not looking forward to working up this pile in the spring.  The wood will eventually yield lots of BTUs, but it will take a bit of work to get it to that point.

I snapped this right after I had shoveled the deck and walkway.  You can see the frosty coating of ice I couldn't remove.

To add a little color to this post, last night I finished the second two pairs of mittens on a string for the twins.  They've gotten used to the mittens that "won't go away" and their auntie and nanny both love the way there's no more hunting for mittens for those four little hands when getting dressed to go outside.  I made these a little bigger than the first ones hoping they would still fit the two little munchkins next year.  Wishful thinking? 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wondering About Your Water

This morning as I was pumping buckets of water to take to our chickens, ducks and geese, I was fantasizing (as usual) about having a barn plumbed with water that would be free-flowing year 'round.

We have a hand pump on top of our well which is a very handy back-up to have should we ever, for any reason, have a period when we would not be able to get water pumped into the house.  The hand pump is also used for water for the livestock.

We could fill buckets in the utility sink in the heated part of the garage, but since carrying the buckets of water to their destination at the animal pens is twice as far from the garage as from the hand pump, we choose to use the pump on a daily basis.

Besides thinking this morning of how nice it would be to have water available right near the animals, I was wondering what kind of a water system any of you with animals have on your homestead.  Perhaps we can learn from each other and modify our own systems to make it more efficient . . . and easier.

Care to share?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Old Habits Die Hard

Toward the end of last month I found myself being a real ol' Ms. Cranky Pants.  It took a while but it finally dawned on me that I had fallen right back into my old rut of working on all the "should do" tasks all day long and not taking any time for the relaxing, feel-good things I've said I was going to do in the months of January and February.

How easily we fall back into our old habits without even realizing we've done so.  This has shown me I need to reorganize my work day so I regularly (not just in the [slow - ha!] months of January and February) schedule in time to read, watch movies, quilt, knit and do some of the things I always say I don't have time to do, but actually do . . . if I make them a priority.  And, for heaven's sake, we all know that the To Do List will NEVER get done, no matter how many waking hours we spend working on it.

It's taken me a few days (gotta ease back into this) to get my thinking rearranged again, but I hope I'm back on the right track again now.

This is the last pair of socks I've finished.  Still not crazy about the way the design turned out, but they'll prove to be good, serviceable socks all the same.  (Geesh, just noticed the feet look enormous and the tops look skimpy, but it's just the angle of the photo.)

I've already started on another pair.  Anybody keeping track of how many pairs this will be that I've knitted?  (Me neither.  I'd have to go count.)

And the most recent crocheted rag rug I've made.  The next rug is going to be made with some jazzy, bright, spring-like colored fabrics someone gave me.  I can't think of anything else I'd use the material for so this rug can provide a chirky splash of color to use when spring starts to make an appearance.  (Which also means the rug will get smudged with muddy foot, or paw, prints in short order.)

It's been too long since I've had a good supply of burger buns on hand so I got busy this afternoon and made these.  Being a person who needs to see the fruits of her labor at the end of the day, baked goods fill the bill about as much as something knitted or crocheted or sewn.  Baking homemade bread of one sort or another is definitely one old habit I have no desire to break.