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.   http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/factsheets/treefruit/diseases/fb/fb.asp  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  Seriously...my 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.  Seriously...you'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 wash...it 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 ???????


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Another week...Zzzzziiippppp!!...gone.

Independence Day...we went to the neighbors for a bbq and I brought a peach pie. I had to cook it in our bbq grill because it wouldn't fit in my countertop convection oven and the big oven wouldn't light.  I was a little nervous about it...but I know people who cook bread and pizza on their grills, so I though--why not ?  I used an old oven gauge to check the temps and was able to hold it right at 350 degrees. It took a little over an hour for a 9x13 pie. Yum...

 Craziness here. Had a helluva time getting results from m y thyroid ultrasound. Finally did...a 5 mm mass on my right thyroid, likely benign.  Waiting for them now to get an appointment set up in a timely manner with an endocrinologist who will check me out and decide if a biopsy is in order, just to be safe.  I am having some minor swallowing problems (just annoying, and worse at night when I am laying down...) and will just feel much better when all this is finished.  That doctor will also decide if I am hypothyroid and hopefully be able to regulate that business.

 Tuesday we go back to Springfield and find out of the Irishman is healed enough to lose the back brace/cervical collar.  And hopefully find out when he can return to work. Praying for positive results.

 The gardens are looking pretty good. Slowly but surely getting them weeded. The tomatoes are taller than I am.  lol

Things have been uncommonly cool here...it has been in the low 70's for a week and even cooler at night.  In July.  It's crazy...but certainly a wonderful respite from the extreme heat. (Not complaining here !!!)

 I'm baking some bread right now and gonna throw together some spaghetti for supper. have a small package of sweet Italian sausage from the freezer and  some other odds and ends and it will make a grand meal. Just some good old pasta and bread. It will be good.  I cleaned out the fridge earlier today...looked through the pantry...might need to make a grocery run in a week or two, but mostly we have been doing well.  So grateful for my fully stocked pantry. Thus far we have gotten by without having to borrow any money or go into hock or not pay any bills. Himself has not worked for 6 weeks now.  His last money from vacation pay came in 2.5 weeks ago. So far, so good.  Of course this years  property tax bill arrived.  lol  But we are okay. And I will be able to pay the bills and keep on trucking.  Thank goodness.  Scary thing, this financial insecurity...

  My sweet husband is feeling a little better every day. We are still holding onto each other and having faith that all this stuff is going to work out fine.  It's these kind of little life storms that surely test the mettle of a marriage...and when you come out the other side, you know that you have what it takes to be partners for life.  No matter what happens, you can weather the crises, you can survive the fallout, and you can do it together. 

  That is some comforting stuff right there.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where is the time going ????

Isn't this ruffled lily a beaut ?  They are blooming profusely this year (as are all the lilies). It started out (as lilies often do) the lone plant given to me by my neighbor. I stuck it in the dirt by my front porch and hoped the dog s wouldn't destroy it. The first year or two, it was a pathetic little thing, but would bravely shoot out a flower or two. It survived the weeds, the floods, the drought and the dogs.  This year it burst forth with a vengeance, is about 5 times it's original size, and has at least 20 buds on it.  

  It's been a busy week, sort of. I have been working in the garden a little, working in the house a little, tending to my husband and doing some work for a friend. Somewhere in there, I managed to can about 10 pounds of dried pintos, winding up with 7 quarts and 19 pints of convenience beans. lol  I had used the last of the canned pintos I did  last year and decided that since I had so many dried beans in my stockpile, I'd go ahead and can them.  I made a grave error--when I soaked them, I put them all in one big pot when I should have used 2.  The beans didn't soak as well as they could have, and so when I put them in the jars, filled them with boiling water and canned them, they still had some swelling to do. Some of the jars look a little dry.  I'll make sure to put them in the front so they get used first. They'll probably be okay...I'll just maybe have to add extra water when I use them. That's what I get for trying to cut corners. Luckily I had quite a few canning lids still...didn't have to buy any yet. I have been in the habit of picking up a package or two any time I am at the market...last year in the summers canning time, I didn't have to buy any at all. Nice...

  I went to the doc for the last time about my wrist. He says the bone is healed perfectly, but the soft tissue damage is just going to take time. He didn't think I needed to keep going to PT , just keep using and working the wrist as best I can. And be patient. (AS IF !!)   lol  He said if I have any problem just call and he will see me, but otherwise he thinks we're done.  That same day I had to have an ultrasound done of my thyroid. I still haven't heard the results of that and it's been 4 days. My dr office is dropping the ball here. I may pay them a visit in person tomorrow, as I have called twice already, and the Imaging Center said that my dr would have the results in 24-48 hours.  Grrr...

 This is a chicken of the woods mushroom my son brought us last weekend.  OMG..it is rich and so flavorful...there's a small chunk of it left that we will eat tomorrow. So incredibly good.  He also brought a small mess of chantrelles...another wonderful wild mushroom that grows around here. Isn't this gorgeous > Click on the picture to see it up close and personal...and prepare to be amazed. (One of my friends said she thought it looked like a dragon.  It kinda does.)

  The Irishman is healing, slowly but surely.  In fact, he went fishing with his friend Jerry today, and spent a lazy free day away from his nagging wife, who fusses over him like a mother hen.  lol  He had a good day, but he is a little sore and a LOT tired tonight.  12 days til we go see the ortho again. Hopefully he gets to lose the brace and cervical collar.

 A few days ago I made a batch of hotdog and hamburger buns.  They were beautiful. Actually, I was a little sloppy forming the doggie buns for the bratwurst we had for supper, but they still tasted good. The burger buns were perfect.

 Well...I am sure I have tons more to tell, but it's late and I'm tired and need to go to bed. lol  Rest assured that things are lively on Honeysuckle Hill and probably going to stay that way for a while.  Tomatoes are starting to show in the garden and the green beans are starting to flower. You know what that means...

  Took this picture earlier in the evening of my sweet little Junko Taibei  in one of her favorite hangouts.  And with this lovely little pic...I bid you good night.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hump Day

LOL...Not exactly my life these days, but it struck me as cute.

 The temps have been skyrocketing around here. Today's high was 92 and the humidity (70 %) made it almost unbearable. The AC has been running nonstop since about 9 AM and the temps in here are barely hanging at 79.  Now it's nighttime and I keep thinking it might catch up any time. We'll see. The dogs don't want to be outside and most of the cats either.  lol

  I mowed the basic parts of the yard this morning on the riding mower, but by the time I finished that, it was too hot to use the push mower or weed eater, so it is what it is. It still looks better...we've had so much rain the  weeds were 8 inches high again!!  If it isn't raining by morning, I may do more.  And I may not. lol  We went into town at 1:30 for my physical therapy appointment,  and then made a roundabout and hit Aldi's, the Farm Home Store and the pharmacy to pick up the Irishman's prescription.  By the time we got home, I was a hot mess. And we were both exhausted. That heat just zaps you.  Himself settled in the super cool bedroom for a short nap after a pain pill and I sat in here on the computer for a bit and then got busy putting stuff away. I scrubbed a bunch of potatoes and cut them into chunks and got them started parboiling.  Supper tonight was potatoes cooked with onions and spices, eggs and bagels. And peach jam. Yum !!  Easy peasy. I cooked too many potatoes, lol, so I saved back enough of them to make a nice potato salad tomorrow to go with the chicken I am going to roast tonight. I thought I would let the house cool down some, and now it has, so I really should get that bird in the oven.  I also pulled several packages of bread odds and ends (mostly heels) that I had stuck away in the freezer and will dry them out and make seasoned breadcrumbs with them. Thought about croutons, but...

  Since it's going to be hot tomorrow too (plus rain) I thought I would roast a whole chicken and then I won't really have to cook.  A nice cold supper with slices of chicken, potato salad, pickled beets and okra, or maybe pickled green beans.  That will hit the spot. And be easy. And not require adding any extra heat to our day. lol

  I am trying to seriously eat everything out of our pantries and freezer so that we don't have to spend hardly any money for food.  Today I picked up some staples...flour, sugar, yogurt, beans.  And 2 beautiful roasting hens that they had on sale.  One in the fridge to cook tonight and one in the freezer for another day.  We have some greens (lettuce, kale, chives, onions) in the garden that we are eating now, still quite a bit of chard and turnip greens in the freezer, as well as lots of fruit and fish, a little more chicken and a boneless skinless turkey breast. The dry pantry has an assortment of dried beans, rice, quinoa, couscous, pastas, canned green beans, pickled items, pears, peaches, jams and jellies. Also canned tuna.  I've started a list of meals I can make from pantry ingredients. Makes it easier on those days where my brain doesn't want to work.  Cooking from scratch like I do takes planning and forethought. It's much easier to go get a hamburger, but when you're trying to eat healthier and eat your own food...well...you have to think about it. So...there you go.

 Last Sunday we attended my great nephew's first birthday party.  Oy vey...I am just getting old I guess. Lots of little kids, aged 1 year to 10 years. Making all that little kid noise, expending copious amounts of all that little kid energy. It wore me out. And we were only there 2 hours...it was a full weekend of stuff and I think we were both worn out by it all.  lol

 Well campers...it's almost 11 PM and I am whooped.  I'm going to sleep like a baby...oh wait. There's a chicken crying out to be cooked.  Maybe it will wait until morning... sheesh... I think I'm just too darn tired to stay up as long as it will take to cook that thing and then let it cool enough to refrigerate.
 I have nothing on my docket at all for tomorrow, but Friday is full.  Thursday is looking like my take it slow and easy day for this week.

 Thanks you for all your prayers and well wishes since our accident.  It means the world to me...and so do YOU ! 


Friday, June 13, 2014

A beautiful Friday morning...

 We've been busy around here...here's my new (to me) car. A 2001 Honda Accord.  Deep dark green. I love it. Just got it last night.  (Hurray!!  I don't have to drive his truck anymore. )

  I have a cheesecake in the oven to take to tomorrow's morning meeting. My friend Brad is bringing a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting and I am bringing a cheesecake. We will be celebrating my 24 year sobriety birthday (which was actually yesterday) and I am grateful and humbled by all the help I have gotten over the years and still get every day from the other people in this program. The beauty and blessings of this way of life are not lost on me.

 We are moving slowly through the days of the Irishman's recovery. He is feeling a little better every day, which makes it even harder for him to do nothing, of course. lol  Luckily, he has just enough pain still that it keeps him going slow.  If he can keep from becoming too worried (about money) and depressed, we will be okay I think.  It's hard for anyone, and especially a man used to working all the time, to sit around doing nothing for hours on end.  And too, his muscles are sore  and aching from atrophy. He's not supposed to lift his arms over his head. No bending, lifting, twisting. Still cannot lay down to sleep either, so he's not getting very rested.  Bless his heart...

  The garden is in and we have had so much rain it's ridiculous. On top of that, the temps have been in the high 60's and low 70's...VERY unusual for Illinois in mid June.  The plants out there all look healthy enough, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. 

 Other than that, life is lazing along on Honeysuckle Hill.  All the critters are well, all the people are happy and everything is right in the world.  We also celebrated our 22 nd anniversary together yesterday.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday and sometimes it seems like a hundred years. lol  That's the way of it, I guess.  We are holding hands and walking together into old age. It's a blessing.

  Sounds like the dryer has stopped. Only a couple of loads of laundry and tonight we are out for a special treat. Going to a concert in our local college town to see Janis Ian...a singer I have loved for over  40 years. Had I known all that was going to happen I might not have bought the tickets, but I didn't, so I did. lol  I'm glad. It was kinda my birthday present to myself.  That's at 8 tonight. I have PT at 2:30 and needed to get this cheesecake baked early so it can refrigerate long enough. Been up since 5...didn't actually get out of bed til a little after 6.   Feel like I could easily take a nap right now. lol  I have to stop by the insurance agent either before or after the PT (same town--about 15 miles from here).   

  I'll be back...have a grand weekend all.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

...the saga continues...


 I keep trying to convince myself...but in the midst of all this fear and drama, it's not easy.

 I guess my expectations are just too high sometimes. It's 2 weeks and still no money from insurance for a new car. Lots of paper though. Tons of paper and stupid things to fill out. The latest is the medical claim stuff. Why can't they, in this age of instant access to EVERYTHING medical, just get records from  the hospital (and police) about what happened?  Instead, they call for phone interviews, send diagrams to label, send questionnaires to be filled out. Drives me to the apex of insanity having to re-live this accident over and over again.

Yesterday, we went back to the ortho guy for the Irishman. No miracles here. He has to wear the cervical collar/brace for another 4 weeks. No work, no driving, no nothing. No bending, twisting, lifting.  He's losing his mind (I don't have much of one left to lose, lol).  That was depressing enough.  Then yesterdays mail (more papers, of course) also had 2 bills from the trauma hospital. One for me, with a price tag of 21,000 dollars  and one for him, with a price tag of 23,000 dollars. I almost fainted. That does not include the local hospital where they took us first, or the double ambulance rides. 2 ambulances to the local hospital and 2 ambulances to the trauma hospitals. By the time all is said and done, this little escapade is going to cost us more than our house cost. To say that I am scared and worried is an understatement.

 The Irishman has one more week of vacation pay left and a few hours of sick pay. Then we will be out of that money.  The remainder we have to live on is my social security disability pay. It does not cover all the bills, not to mention gas and food. Praying for a speedy resolution to the car settlement and that we can find a usable car for a couple of thousand and then sock away the other couple of thousand to pad the living expenses payout.  We can always address the car situation at a later date. I don't need anything fancy or new...just something dependable and economic. This truck is killing us in gas.  Praying also for a settlement from the insurance company from the woman who rear-ended me in January. That probably won't be a lot of money, but it will be some. I'll take whatever I can get.

  That all said...things are really going slow and are okay for today.  Nobody is dying here. We have a fully (almost) stocked pantry and freezer  to eat from that should keep me from having to buy almost any groceries. We will clear that freezer out and clean up the pantry. I will get much more inventive and creative with food, to use up what all is in there. After all this, I will be restocking my pantry, but for now, we will eat what we have. (We have a lot. We are not going to starve anyway. lol) 

  ON a better note...the garden is in, things are germinating and growing like crazy.  All of the seed that I personally saved  have had a germination rate of almost 100%  !!!   Things are moving along nicely out there. I took a stroll through the gardens this morning around 5:30...it was peaceful and it was beautiful. As you can guess by this, we still aren't getting a whole lot of sleep around here. I worry about the Irishman, he's not good with this kind of sleep when he's healthy, never mind when he's traumatized and healing.  I know he's worried too, but trying to keep a good face on it all.  That helps a lot.  

 Lots of our friends have stepped up and offered assistance with everything from housecleaning to yard mowing.  Many prayers and well wishes are making this all a little easier too.

 This coming Thursday will be our 22nd anniversary.  That same day I will celebrate 24 years clean and sober. We are together, we are okay and we can get through this I know. Like he said yesterday...we've been poor before. We can do this. lol  

  I'll try to do better about staying in touch on here, but I'm just so darned tired all the time it's easy to pass. Having to carry both ends of this thing when I'm still hurt too isn't easy, but I'm managing. I just seem to need a lot more rest. lol  And of course, I wake up every time he wakes up (about every 2 hours).  So, nobody around here is getting much sleep. lol

  Thanks all of you for your well wishes and prayers...they are greatly appreciated.