Sunday, August 17, 2014

A rainy Sunday...

Enjoy the simple things, is the caption on this photo.

 Today I'm doing just that. I got up just in time for my husband to go out the door. He thought he'd let me sleep.  I didn't get up until after 9.  Just me and the critters here for the biggest part of the day, he has a District Meeting at 2 and so won't be home til after 5.

 I have a list.  lol  I started off with some coffee and Facebook. Checked emails.  Decided I wanted some bacon and tomato sandwich for breakfast (brunch?) lol  Got dressed and went up to the little mom and pop market to get some of their awesome slab cut bacon (which is now up to 4 dollars and something a pound!!!  Have you seen meat prices this past month ? Through the roof!)  Anyway, I bought 2 pounds and put half in the freezer. And cooked a little extra for the critters and I had a big juicy yummy bacon, tomato and mayonnaise sandwich.  O. M. G.  That such a simple thing could bring SO much pleasure !

 I have unfinished laundry in the dryer and washer. I need to fluff the dryer clothes a little and get them out of there. I started it last evening.  I will get that done, because the Irishman's work clothes are the ones in the washer, waiting for the dryer.  lol  I got one load of whites all washed dried and put away yesterday, but that was it.  I do 3 loads a week usually.  Is that a lot for 2 people ?  And really, it's 3 because his work clothes cannot be washed with anything else, they're filthy and greasy and yucky. lol  It's a small load, but all by it's lonesome.

 I turned the ceiling fan in the living room off last night and was appalled to see all the crap on it. So I hope to get that done. Big problem with that is...if I do it, I have to vacuum. Don't get me wrong--I need to vacuum.  But, it's rainy today and the dogs are all inside for the most part and they freak out at the vacuum. So...I guess I'll knock the stuff off there and put them outside and hurry up and vac while they're out doing their business. lol

 My kitchen counters are full of tomatoes, green beans and green peppers. I plan to try to get the dehydrators filled at least, with tomatoes, since they are the most vulnerable to spoilage.   At least (for a minute) the dishes are done and the sinks are empty.  Some days this all feels like such a vicious cycle that never stops.  But I know it will stop. It will end (and maybe sooner than later if all this rain doesn't stop.  We are supposed to have rain for something crazy like 8 days in a row...).  I need to get a winter crop of kale planted.  Temperatures are mostly in the 80's with an occasional foray into the low 90's. The humidity is stifling.  But for today it just feels calming and lazy.  The AC hasn't kicked on yet...yesterday it didn't kick on until about 7 PM.  Crazy.

 I've been cooking and playing and working and just trying to lead a well rounded life.  lol  I have an old cat that is slowly making his way to the Rainbow Bridge, and I wish I could do something to help him. He's an old love, but I just can't take him to the vet to be put down...he's rallied too many times.  I don't trust him.  I think he wants to die at home, of old age, on his terms.  Kinda  like me.  lol  I keep trying to get him to eat some soft food or take a little water and he just turns away.  Yesterday we got another new baby in the family, little Ryker James.  A moose at close to 8 pounds, and --of course-- a little beauty. One life ends, another begins...the way of it. 

  My aquarium is in dire need of cleaning. The birdcage too. I might get those things down I might not.  Sometimes it seems there aren't enough hours in the day.  It would help if I didn't spend so much time on the computer, but...a girls gotta have a little fun, doesn't she ?  lol

  Happy Sunday, kids.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nature's Bounty

  It's been a busy week. The corn turned out to be 7 quarts and 12 pints of goodness.

  Yesterday, I spent  all day canning green beans (again) --14 quarts, and tomatoes (whole) 14 quarts.

Tomatoes taking the bulk of the day, of course, because peeling them is such an ordeal. lol We trimmed and snapped the beans the night before watching a movie, so all I had to do with those was wash and can. So, except for a big bowl of peaches, all fresh produce is currently still outside in the garden. lol  

  We also sliced and dried a bunch of the peaches from our trees...wound up with 2 nice quart bags full of dried fruit.  I suspect that big bowl sitting on the counter will be next.  I don't see all those getting eaten before they become a fruit fly incubator.

  I think tomorrow is going to be a vegetable broth making kind of day, as I have lots of odds and ends that are on the verge... I am so very grateful to be having a day off today from having to can anything. My knee is killing me.  I stand on a thick rubber mat too...but when you're working at the sink for hours on end, nothing much helps. lol

 First thing tomorrow, I will go out and visit the tomatoes and green beans again. But not tonight.  Tonight I am getting ready to fix a pan of Tex Mex Millet (a recipe that we like even better than Spanish Rice), some canned pintos embellished with onions and spices,  and some [cat] fish tacos. And we will watch a movie and put our feet up and relax until bedtime. Then tomorrow, it will be another week. And we'll start all over again.  It's been a good week, albeit busy. My pantries are starting to fill up again and I'm scratching my head about where to put this latest canning haul.  Rearrange some shelves and make room. I already have some things stacked dangerously high, lol--but I don't live in earthquake country anymore, so I'm not too worried.

  I did make a terrible mess the other day, when I knocked a jar of my blackberry lemonade concentrate off the shelf and broke the jar and soaked the carpet.  OMG...

  I was out for a bit this morning and am glad to be back home. I twisted my knee getting in my car somehow after leaving my friends at the coffee house. I sat on the couch for a couple of hours with ice on it.  It really hurts. I now have some pain patches on it,. but can't put a lot of weight on it still.  Sigh...

  On a bright note, the old blood pressure is staying pretty constant, down in the good range. least there's that.

  Getting close to time to start supper.  So, off I go.  Hope your Sunday has been a good one !


Monday, August 4, 2014

Let the games begin...

Why do I suspect I've used that tag before ?  lol

 Here's what's happening at Honeysuckle Hill these days...tomato sauce. Lots and lots of tomato sauce. 19 pints and 12 quarts, so far.

Salsa.  23 pints so far.  Make do more, may not. That gives me 33 pints in the pantry. Plenty (theoretically) for the coming year. I'm thinking the remainder will be dried and diced (canned). That should be good enough. I canned tomato stuff yesterday for over 12 hours....oy vey.

 Today we're canning 3 dozen ears of sweet corn. There are 9 pints in the canner now. It takes 55 minutes to pressure can corn pints.  ARRGGHHH!!  There are probably 6 more quarts to can, because I seem to be out of pint jars.  Holy Guacamole.   I can't believe I have used up all the pint jars.  Quarts of corn take an hour and 25 minutes to can.  Sumbitch.  I could be doing this all day.

Last thing on the agenda (for now) is dehydrating this bag of okra. It's about 9 pounds.  Then maybe I can take a break for a day or two.  lol  

Actually, my tomatoes are finally starting to ripen regularly, so there's always that. And there are more green beans out there to pick, though I seem to have a pantry full,  about 50 jars of assorted pints and quarts (mostly quarts). 

  People keep saying things to me that people who don't live like I do always're doing too much.  Take a break.  You don't have to do everything at once.  Can't someone help you with that. And my all time favorite--it's okay to let some things go bad.  Sweet baby Jesus.


 When you garden and preserve the fruits of your labours...there is a rather small window where you have to get these things done.  Sometimes (esp. this time of year) you DO have to do everything at once. There's no choice. So, I work and I sit and I work some more. I am trying to go easy, since the air is out again and of course it decided to move back to normal temperatures for this time of year. I was putting it off (calling the repair guy) because the Irishman's truck was in the shop and the cost of those repairs are always a lot.  It got up to 85 degrees in here last night in the middle of tomatopalooza, which wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for the humidity factor making it feel like Four Thousand Degrees.  I was using the water bath canner for the salsa, which is a constant boiling cauldron, putting more water in the air than a tidal wave.  Today I am using the pressure canner.  Still hot, but...(and you'll love this)...I don't want to call the guys until I can get the floors vacuumed. This house is a mess.  But, on a bright note, I did get my desk cleaned off this morning. Not that anybody ever sees that. But it was time to turn the desk calendar from July to August, so I bit the bullet and did the deed.  HAH !

  OK--time for the corn to come out of the canner and the rest of it to go in.  Hope I can find somewhere to put the jars...

  Happy Harvest, all y'all...


Friday, August 1, 2014

I know there's a pony in here somewhere...

...but for now, I'm furiously digging through the horse sh*t, looking for the pony.  lol

 It's been a crazy week. And a wonderful week. And a scary week.  And a beautiful week.   A week of learning and a week of yearning.  A week of fear and pain and blessings.  And ripe tomatoes, finally.

I have a kitchen island full of tomatoes for salsa making. I was going to do that today, bought the cilantro and everything.  The Irishman's truck had to go in the shop Wednesday. They called today to tell me that they would have the truck done sometime this afternoon, and would call me when it was ready to pick up.  I was afraid to start the salsa and have to leave it out midway done, in case they called.  So, I didn't start it, and of course they didn't call until about 4.  I had to pick up a prescription for a new medicine, so we headed in to town to do these things. The Walmart Pharmacy was severely understaffed for a Friday, and we stood in line over 25 minutes. It was crazy.  By the time we got the truck and  got home it was time to make supper. And I am tired and so I didn't even start it, because I would have been up half the night.

  The AC is out again too. Luckily, the temps have been very cool again for this time of year. But we had to make a decision between putting the truck in the shop and fixing the AC, so the AC will have to wait.  It will be okay. The bedroom has a window unit, so even if it does get hot (not looking good so far ) , we can just pile up in there.

  My cardiology appointment yesterday was interesting. My blood pressure was sky high again.  I had checked it that morning and it was only 145/68. When they checked it at the office, it was up to 175/80 again.  I don't feel good.  He lectured me and calmly answered every question I had for him.  He seemed very efficient and like he knew what he was talking about, except that he kept saying  that WHAT i was eating had nothing to do with anything. And I'm sorry, but I beg to differ. At any rate, the bottom line ios that I am overweight (true) , my BP is dangerously high (true), and no matter what, we have to get it down. I need to lose weight (I knew that) and he put me on a beta blocker, which I am hesitant to take.  He looked me in the eyes and said "High blood pressure will kill you." He said he is giving me 3 months to lose weight, bring the bp down and lower my cholesterol levels (which really aren't bad, but he still wants it lower).  He said if that doesn't happen, he is putting me on statins. I said I will not take statins. He looked at me like I was crazy. He said if I was his mother or his sister, he would make me take them right now. lol   I feel the same way about the beta blocker, but I was willing to try it, as long as he promised me he would take me off it as soon as my bp is down. He promised.

  He said that I was high risk because of my weight and my family history.  I know that. He said, I don't want you to die. It will reflect badly on me as your doctor." and then he smiled.  lol  

 I am scared. The list of possible side effects from this stuff is a mile long.  Everyone I know that has taken it has an opinion about it...about 60/40 negative.  I haven't taken the first one yet, and I think I will wait until tomorrow night, since we are supposed to go meet up with family tomorrow, and I don't want to be all yucky. He said it will make me tired at first. Hell, I'm already tired. lol  On the other hand, I don't feel good tonight. I'm going back and forth about taking it or waiting. If I do feel really bad, I won't be able to go meet up with my family tomorrow OR can all that salsa. lol   

 My husband is very worried. And we had a long conversation about it all, and he says to me, I will take care of you. Just like you just took care of me. It's what we do, right ?  Yes it's what we do.


Sunday, July 27, 2014


Carrots, green beans, chicken, broth
                                         Carrots & Onions
These are NOT all Sundays endeavors.  Please.  lol However, the bottom picture is a preview of things to come.  I filled 3 dehydrators with sliced onions and only used about 5 pounds of onions. The Irishman brought me home 30 pounds, because they were 29 cents a pound,  so...

  I do have beans to do again. Have about 2 gallons trimmed and snapped, another bunch coming in today, plus a friend sending more home with the Irishman today. I'll probably have a good 2 canners worth.  I will probably go see about finding a few bushel of tomatoes to can plants are loaded with small green tomatoes, but only 1 lonely Roma is starting to turn a pinkish orange. I'm worried about not getting tomatoes and if I wait too long I may miss out on the season altogether.  If I do buy some and then mine come through, well--you can never have too many canned tomatoes, right ?  Better safe than sorry, I think.

 The AC has decided to go on the fritz again. Damn. Thankfully, it's only supposed to get to the mid 80's today, and then down in the 70's all week.  (Crazy, innit ???)  Certainly am NOT calling the AC guy on a Sunday, are we ??

  I just came in from picking the rest of the beans. Decided that I better get out there before it got any hotter.  I spotted 3 THREE tomatoes that are starting to ripen this morning. WOO HOO!!!!   I picked a good quart of jalapenos, a few crimson cayenne peppers and beans.  Even though it's not so hot out there, the humidity is a killer. Yesterday we were under a heat advisory. The temps hit 96 with a heat index of 107.   Some of the plants love this weather, others not so much.  The Armenian Cucumbers are growing and flowering like crazy suddenly. I spent half an hour yesterday training vines up the trellis. They are loaded with flowers. Everyones gardens around here are way later than usual. It's not just me...although I am still trailing by a good margin. 

  Here's the deal with the Roulette of Gardening.  The ball will fall where it will, and there's nothing you can do about it.  In good years you do all you can to preserve what you know is too much for you and your family, because there will be years like this. Where the gamble is in full tilt. The Butternuts look great this year--last year they were so-so.  The potatoes are looking great...above ground anyway. The Irishman said he saw some pretty good looking Kennebecs when he was strawing, so hopefully that harvest will suffice.  The sweet potatoes may be a wash this year. We planted them in a spot that is maybe not getting enough sun, or is too acidic...or something.  Note in the garden journal: No sweet 'taters in the side garden again. You learn to roll with it, you can and dry and freeze all you can (and look like one of those hoarders on tv lol)  You do whatever you have to do to plan for the coming year (s) and you figure it out. Yesterday I found tomato paste on sale for a really good price, like 29 cents a can. So...I bought a case.  I may buy another one. Because canning tomato paste uses a TON of tomatoes that would be better served by canning diced, whole, sauced, salsa-ed and marinara-ed. lol Especially when I can get it for that cheap.  An old guy up the road grows tomatoes because he likes to grow them but not eat them. Last year he sold me a big box of Romas for 5.00.  It was a goldmine.  I'll keep my eyes open for these things and all will be well. 

  Okay. I need to get started somewhere.  Look out pantry--here I come.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If things aren't crazy enough....

But my gazillions of tomatoes are still not turning red, so I'm not canning those.  I am canning green beans, and carrots and chicken.  Because if things aren't crazy enough in your kitchen, you should find MORE things to do, right ??  So...I bought a 25 # bag of organic carrots  ( for 21 dollars!!!). Yesterday I canned 15 quarts of carrots and still have about a third of the bag left. I'm going to keep some for the veggie drawer and dehydrate the rest.

  This morning I had enough beans ready for 7 quarts. We trimmed and snapped them on the couch last night  watching a movie. Done.

The local market had 10 pound bags of chicken leg and thigh quarters on sale for 49 cents a pound. SO I popped on up there and bought 40 pounds. I froze 4 meals worth of chicken,  but most of it is in my 2 big stock pots cooking away. I'll pull the meat off the bone, divvy it up between jars and can chicken and broth. Boom !  (Best 20 dollars I've ever spent. )  lol

  There were peaches sitting on the cabinet getting soft, so I whipped up a peach pie using store bought crust, because there is absolutely NO room in my kitchen to roll out a pie crust.   Sigh...the trees are not doing so well this year.  We're getting some to eat, but I don't think there will be any for canning.  Do we buy some, or chalk it up ??  haven't decided yet. I still have a little peach and a LOT of pears in the cupboard. So, we're not without fruit of any kind in there. I think there's a couple of bags in the freezer too.  We took some branches to our local Ag Extension office to see what was up with out apple and pear trees.  Bad news.  It's fire blight.  Not good.  They told us it's epidemic this year.  Great.  Looks like we'll be taking down both those trees.  It can be treated, but the treatment is pretty involved and expensive and I don't see us doing that.   Thank GOD it only affects, apples, pears and rosebushes. Not my peach and cherry trees.


  It's now after midnight. I have been canning and cooking all day, and my back hurts and my legs hurt and I'm cranky. The batch of stuff in the canner right now doesn't come out for another hour.  I'm debating putting one more batch in, but that would mean being awake until about 5 AM and I don't see that happening.  lol   It's just such an ordeal to put all that chicken and broth somewhere cool enough and safe, lol. The crockpot is still bubbling away with chicken broth. I have at least 10 more quarts of chicken and stock to do. And then the jars of chicken broth by itself. It'll be another full day tomorrow. Not complaining.  I am very grateful to have the ability and opportunity to do this stuff, to provide food for us. Healthy safe food. There's been another round of e. coli going around here...people sick with stomach bugs from eating contaminated food.  Makes me feel a little better about never getting to go out to eat. lol pantry saved us this year.  If I ever wondered about the viability or purpose of putting food by for the "just in cases"...I never will again.  

  I am so grateful for so much...the Irishman gets to go back to work on Monday. The injury has healed and all is well.  The accident we had could have been so much worse...and I see little silver linings everywhere.  And it really has been good for us as a couple to have all this time together.  We are starting to slip back into the old ways, because he doesn't need me to drive him anymore and I don't have to take care of him like I did.  And while those things are good, it's a little sad. I guess I just feel like it won't be long before we are going our own way again. But who knows...I think this whole thing has been a real wake up call for us on so many levels.  Our garden is thriving, in spite of getting it in so late and the weather being so crazy.  (Although--I have to find some okra from somewhere.  Mine didn't come up at all, and when it would have been early enough to re-plant it, we were busted up. I have to dehydrate some okra for my pantry, I have used all of it over the winter.  I don't need to pickle any--I still have some of that.)  We won't have much of a fruit harvest this year unless I manage to buy some peaches and apples from one of the local orchards. I do that sometimes...but I'm trying not to spend any more money than I have to. But I still have little bits of this and that, so it isn't dire straits. In my big freezer, I have blackberries, peaches, pumpkin, persimmons, strawberries, pineapples and mangoes. In my pantry, I have applesauce, pears, a jar or two of peaches, apple butter and several jams. Oh, and some pineapple I canned too.  So,  we won't die of scurvy.  lol

  I need to inventory my pantry. I need to get my house cleaned up. I need to organize my office.

  I need to shampoo my carpets.  I need to clean out all my kitchen cupboards.  I need to go to sleep.  lol

  Hope everyone is having a good summer. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer's here. But it's weird.

...and right now it's good old green beans.  I have a big bag in the drawer of the fridge, and we picked another half bushel (at least) this morning. The plants are loaded with young beans and flowers, and the harvest has begun.  Before I start canning though, I have to vacuum.

 The white dog  
(who'da thought such an adorable baby could grow up to be such a hair machine!!!)  is shedding truckloads of hair all over the house and yards. No matter how much we brush and brush, it never stops.'d think she'd be bald.  It's almost like, one cup of hair goes and 3 more takes it's place. Like zombies. Or something.  Sigh...every single night we go around with the cannister vac and suck up clumps of hair. By morning it's all back. And this will probably go on until the middle of August.

I'm vacuuming and resting alternately here. Picking green beans today almost killed me. The humidity is sky high, even though it's only about 88 degrees, it's suffocating.  SO, I need to get the floors vacuumed and let the dogs back in. They are the biggest babies in the world when it comes to this heat.


  Well--my old neighbor came by for a little visit, so it's now about 2 hours later. lol  We sat and chatted and when the Irishman got home, I sent the 2 of them off to lunch at the Congregational Church.  They begged and pleaded, but I am sooooo into this cleaning thing  (plus I picked green beans and am all nasty and sweaty and stinky)...that I said no, but they could bring me something if they wanted to. lol   I just finished the last of the vacuuming. I have a clean and nice tablecloth on the table. The loveseat cover is washed and in the dryer. The bathroom rugs are all shaken within an inch of their lives and that floor and the closet and the bedroom are all vacuumed too. I might run the mop in the bathroom...and I might not. lol

  It has been a busy week. I feel like all I have done is run around. I really don't want to go anywhere all day. Or tomorrow either.  I am tired. Tomorrow night we have the discussion group at La Vista. Tuesday, I do my volunteer stint at the Central Service Office of AA.  2-6 PM.  sigh...I wanted to quit, but the new volunteer coordinator looked like she might cry. Several people had already pulled out and she had slots she can't fill.  So...I will stick around and do the best I can. lol  I don't like doing these things in the summer when I am so busy canning and gardening. It's too hard. (Let me get a little cheese to go with that whine...)

  The weather has been so bizarre, and now I read that another polar vortex is getting ready to hit the northern states. We have had July temps in the low 80's and mid 70's...we just had 2 days of low 90's, but that starts dropping away again tomorrow.  The garden is doing pretty good so far. We've had a bit of rain, could use a little more, but not a LOT more. The tomatoes are loaded with fruit and blossoms and most of them are better than 5.5 ft high.  The potatoes are lush and flowering like crazy. The okra is a never came up at all, and I couldn't get out there to replant. I used seed I had saved, and that was most likely the problem. I'll have to get it from the Farmer's Markets or my pal Randy if I want to dehydrate some.  I still have quite a few jars of pickled okra, and a bit in the freezer, so...just some to dehydrate will be good. The sweet potatoes and the butternut squash are going crazy.  I am, however, completely out of dehydrated onions--red and white both.  Good job, huh ? I have used it all.  I am going to plant beets in a few weeks. And put in more lettuce as well as chard and kale. 

I will (in a bit) start my annual pantry inventory. I know some things are low (or gone) because I have really done a good job of using  the foods I have  since the accident. Trying not to spend much money at grocery stores hasn't been all that hard. But...things like vegetable oils, baking powder, flours, rices, etc--all the stocks are low.  The inventory gives me a really good view of what I did, what I used, and how much is left.  Helps with my garden totals too--for instance, I am ready to can green beans.  Last year this time, I had been out of beans for 2 months. This year, I still have about 8 quarts left and am ready to can.  Woo Hoo.  The tomatoes (diced, whole, sauced) are another story entirely. I've been out for a while. Those totals will be greatly increased this canning season.

  Okay--doggies are crying to get in. Dusting is calling.  There may be a nap in my foreseeable future too. I got a package of chicken thighs out of the freezer to make something for supper. Thinking a crockpot meal so I don't have to heat the house up any more than necessary.  Chicken thighs at Aldi's this week were .89/lb.  I bought around 25 pounds.  :)  

  Now...where are those people with my lunch ???????