Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Independence Days

O. M. G.

  I am loving this new book by Sharon Astyk, called Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation.

I'm only about 20 pages into it, and am smitten already.  Absolutely recommend it to anyone who tries to live this life...and especially anyone who doesn't.

  It's a little warmer today because there are storms lurking about. Maybe not even storms, but certainly rain showers. I took my morning trek around the old homestead and saw that the purple asters I planted a couple of years ago have gone wild...they're all over the rock wall base, coming up in between the spent irises. I have some green beans flowering like mad and picked some kale and turnip greens to feed to the girls love them some greens! There are more jalapenos to pick and a late batch of small, but ripe, red peppers.  And lots of green tomatoes...thinking about picking some and frying them up for my lunch

  I have some bratwurst getting thawed from the freezer and will open some kraut that I made last year and mash some potatoes from this years garden, and call it the Irishman's supper. I make a small batch of sauteed kale and turnip greens, with some garlic, olive oil and the tiniest slivers of onions. A little sea salt and some fresh cracked black pepper and it'll be good to go. I'm kinda hungry too...I had coffee, but no breakfast. Slept late because I was up WAY too late playing scrabble online with a friend. So...oh well. It's a lazy kind of a day, and I don't care if I get much accomplished today or not.

  Decided to have a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk for brunch, lol. My stomach was growling something fierce... I am not a milk drinker normally.But there are 2 things that I have to have milk with, and those are  peanut butter sandwiches and Oreo cookies.  I have decided to get back on track with my bread baking again. I kinda stopped in the summer, as I usually do because the gardening and canning take up most of my kitchen. And honestly, now that it's getting cooler again, the thought of fresh baked bread really appeals to me. But I think I'm going to leave the bread machine in the closet and get back to making artisan-type breads by hand.  I have always loved to make awakens some primal satisfaction in me...and until a couple of years ago, I had never used a bread machine. I had one, compliments of my dear husband who got me one for Xmas one year, but I never used it.  I couldn't imagine why he would even think I would want one, when he knew how much I loved baking bread, lol.  But...his man-brain didn't make that connection at all...and he thought he was making my life so much easier. (And probably that I would make him even MORE bread...that guy loves his bread!!)

  Okay. I had better get busy and cook those brats and pick those greens and get myself dressed. I am LOVING this blue robe/gown I bought at a thrift store yesterday...I was out searching for jeans for my husband--he gets all his pants at thrift stores because his work just destroys them anyway.  I found a powder blue Croft and Barrow soft fleece front zippered robe...and having been wearing it all morning/night...yes--even out traipsing through the yards.  I'm hesitant to take it

  It's Wednesday.  one more day for me to go into town and then 2 days off. On Saturday I'm teaching a canning workshop from 1-5 and then I'm home again.  Life is good...




Monday, September 26, 2011

The last Monday in September

There's a soft rain falling out's after 11 PM, and I am tired but not sleepy.  The dogs are sleeping all around me and the Irishman is sound asleep on the other side of the house.  It's been cool of late, fall settling around our shoulders like an old blanket.  Mornings are very cool--in the low 40's mostly, although this rain should warm things up a bit.

  We still haven't put up the heat lamp in the chicken coop, but probably will this next weekend.  One of the hens is laying ginormous eggs...almost twice the size of the others. It's bizarre. The last Rhode Island Red is looking pretty raggedy, I suspect I'll go out to the coop and find her dead any day now. She doesn't appear to be in any distress  but you can tell by her comb and her body that she's fading. She is almost 5 years old...

  I was walking out in the backyard today and noticed the last of the flowers and the walking onions and the raggedy old lilies and irises...almost like the plant world is preparing for it's seasonal shutdown. The green beans are flowering to beat the band and the sugar peas have lots of blooms too. The turnips and kale are looking healthy and there are even a few radishes out there. The 2 squash plants that Patrick put in the ground are getting big, I suspect there's not going to be enough time for them to make fruit though....but who knows? The parsley and chives are still looking well and I could probably harvest more basil. I harvested quite a bit and made pesto, if you recall. I still have last years basil drying in the closet (I know, I know...) and I need to get that out and bagged....

  Baked a chicken pot pie today, with big buttermilk biscuits on top instead of making pie crust. It was warm, good comfort food....chunks of chicken breast with onions, celery, carrots, green beans and red potatoes. The house smelled like heaven....

  I had a busy weekend. We went to the little local retro-theater and saw Cowboys and Aliens. it was fun. That was on Friday.  ON Saturday we usually kind of go our separate ways, as I have to go to MissB's anyway at 3...on Sunday we had our District picnic and then I went to MissB's and then I went to an 8 PM meeting and gave a girl a coin for 3 years.  By the time I got home, my butt was draggin....I baked a coconut cream pie that morning for her, and I made a cooker full of crockpot corn to take to the picnic. Today was the graveside service for the baby my niece lost....she was 4.5 months pregnant and wanted only her mom and dad and brother there, so...I don't know much about what happened. I came straight home tonight and thought I'd surely be in bed early.  HAH!

  I got 2 new books today...The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food and another called Independence Days. I'm looking forward to digging into them.

  Okay.  I'm tired and need to get to bed.  It's almost midnight and I feel the fog starting to creep in around the edges. lol

The canning workshop is this coming Saturday, and I'm both excited and nervous about it.  I need to try to get into a chiropractor too, my neck is killing me. Hope it's not another earthquake....


Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday night Lite...

 For some crazy reason, penguins always make me happy.

  It's been a strange week. I don't know what's been going on, but I've zipped through this past 6 days or so and haven't the foggiest idea what I've done with it. Not so much, one suspects.  lol

  I did get all the information for my food preservation workshop completed. For the take home booklet that's being prepared. It's ridiculous-I should have had it finished weeks ago.  But, it's finished now and sent off to the woman who will publish it.  We're going to can green beans, but I will give presentations (and samples) of drying and freezing and fermenting as well.


  Sunday will be extremely busy, it's our District Picnic and then work and then at 8 PM a birthday meeting where I'm giving out a coin for 3 years. I'll be a mess in a dress by the time I get home.

  Yesterday I took a 3 hour drive south to see my baby brother who has just had his 3rd back surgery. I loaded up Miss Roxie and we sailed off....she's a good traveling companion and did pretty well with my brothers cockapoo. Had a nice lunch with a Taco Soup she made that was delish, and then  sat around and talked . My niece got home around 3 from school and we played with her Wii and chatted about school.  They insisted that I stay for supper and so my plans of being back home by 8 got shot out of the water.  Skyler wanted me to stay all night, lol, but I said I had to go.  As usual, my SIL cooked a magnificent supper. She rocks.

  While I was there, I got a really sad phone call from my baby sister, telling me her daughter had lost her baby. She was almost 4 months pregnant. Today she went into the hospital for a D&C, and I'll go by and see her tomorrow...

  I have a splitting headache that came out of nowhere tonight.  It's only 11 o'clock and I'm ready to go to bed....

  On a lighter note,  I got the birth announcement for my great nephew yesterday, in the form of a beautiful photo that says "HI. I'M ROWAN   above his gorgeous little face. Hopefully I get to see him next week.

We harvested edamame today from the garden. There is a lot that dried on the vines, so I am going to try to keep that for seed for next year.  It was a real bust this year, compared to last year's harvest...

All for now..I need to lie in a dark room with my eyes closed. I took some Aleve  but nothing seems to be helping. (And no, it's not a migraine).

  Have a hunky dory weekend, all ya'll. I have to bake a coconut cream for my friends birthday on Sunday, as well as something for the potluck picnic. 

  I'm thinking of joining a book club that my friend goes to.  Have I lost my mind????????



Sunday, September 18, 2011

HELP!! I'm trapped in the time/space continuum !!!!

  I don't know what it is. I'm feeling like somebody pulled the plug on me, but I won't quite die.

  I'm not sick. I'm not particularly depressed.  I'm just....unplugged.


  It's been a goofy few days around here. The Irishman is sick-ish with stuffed up head and cough, but still going.  The dogs and cats are coping with the change in seasons as best they can, since it it going up and down like a roller day 58 and then 77 the next. Rainy today. Supposed to be 82 on Wednesday, and then back down to the 60's again. I tell ya--it makes my head spin.

  It's a lazy Sunday morning.  Himself is gone to a District to-do this afternoon and I stayed home because, well..because I could. lol  I cooked a chuck roast with baby red potatoes and celery and carrots and onions in one of those Reynolds cooking bags, so it's all tender and awesome.  I'll take some in to MissB for her Sunday dinner and maybe she'll eat it and maybe she won't. Her taste buds are failing her, and everything she puts in her mouth either has sugar in it, or they "don't make it the way they used to".  She even thinks the mashed potatoes are full of sugar. lol  And the french fries from McDonalds (which, of course, may very well be).

  I've been reading a little and writing not at all and basically being like a lump of skin these past few days. Not sure what it is...I don't know. I need to get in the shower now, because it's about an hour and a half away from time to leave.  Time just flies by...and I can't keep track of anything.

 On a brighter note, I just subscribed to the page of one of my all time favorite singer/songwriter/ idols and spent some time reading and even emailed her, just to tell her that I still love her as much as I did the first time heard her, back in the late 60's/early 70's.   Janis Ian will always have a place in my heart. She's a remarkable talent and a wonderful human being and that's all I'm gonna say. I might try to insert a link in here later...

 My son is having a time of finding gainful employment and is really worried. I still just want to kiss and make it better...I do what I can in the short term to help him out, but in the end it's going to be their responsibility to adapt to the changing world...I hate seeing him this down, and he told me he's not sleeping well. He's stepping out on a limb today and talking to his dad about moving into his grandmothers house...I don't know how that will go, but I don't think it will go well. His father is a hard man, just like his father was.  A reduction in his house payment would make a big difference in the situation, and he doesn't expect to live there for free....but we'll see. He was talking about being homeless and I told him "You know that's not going to happen.". I'm praying that something will shift for him soon and he can find a regular job that pays halfway decent. He's really killing himself looking and filling out apps and there's just nothing available. He's been going down and sitting in the labor hall everyday for 2 hours hoping to get picked for a job, but he said that last week somebody laid off like 50 workers, and they're all down there every morning now too. Very worst case scenario, they come here and move in with us and we share the house till they can get back on their feet. It would be crowded, but we could make it work. He just laughed at that, but I will not have him living out of his car. This is what family does. And he and his wife are doing what everyone else is doing...cutting corners and changing their lifestyles. And hoping, hoping, hoping....that something will break soon.

  Okay. I have to go shower. And I have to portion up some food to take. And be thankful for all the little things in my life today. That I am still online and I am still able to garden and my husband is still working. That I can share what I have and that I have the skills and abilities to make things work, even when it gets a little scary sometimes.  

 Heard Bill Clinton on Face the Nation this morning saying some really practical things, and it did my heart good.  I hope lots of other people heard him too.

 And I know this is...what>?  But I have to share it, because it slayed me.

  Have a grand Sunday, all y'all....


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Laundry at midnight....

  I spent the morning baking. And then got the call to go in about 3 hours early this morning, which did NOT fit into my plan.  I baked a peach pie for the Irishman to take into his class tonight and I baked Welsh pasties for his supper.  I am always looking for food that he can eat while he drives on these class nights, as the window of opportunity is very small. By the time he gets home and quickly showers, it's time to hit the road. These worked pretty well, except he said he couldn't (or didn't) get them as hot as he would have liked.

  Suffice it to say that between all that pastry making and dough rolling, I didn't get any laundry done, and he has no clean work pants. OOPS.  So, here I sit, waiting impatiently for the washer to stop so I can throw them in the dryer. Modern conveniences...ya gotta love them!

 My brother had back surgery today. Apparently it went well and they are monitoring him. Hopefully, he will go home in 2 days.

  Can't think of anything exciting been going on, so maybe I'll just call it a night on this end, and wish you all sweet dreams. I'm really tired.

  Picked some green beans again yesterday.And the peas are growing like crazy. The temps here hit 93 today, but tomorrows high is supposed to be in the mid-60's. Fall is coming like an atomic bomb, apparently. The chickens are molting and not laying well. We talked about putting the lamp back in, but it would make it too hot in there with temps like today. on Honeysuckle Hill....

  Night all...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Somewhere over the Rainbow...

This afternoon, we are blessed to be able to attend the civil union of a couple of friends of ours. I am excited at the prospect, as this is the first of several invitations we've gotten from around the country that we can actually go to. This has been such a tragic long time coming, and I know that the celebration today won't just be for Lynne and Robyn, but for every gay couple everywhere that has wanted to legalize and sanctify their love.

  I feel honored to be an observer to this historic time.

  I think I will make a small gift basket with jellies in it for them...they have everything in the world. It's either that, or a donation to the local animal shelter, which is near and dear to them both.


  I was thinking about all the things we take for granted...being Caucasians, being heterosexuals, being Americans.  Simple little things like marriage and opportunities and freedom.  Coming up on the anniversary of 9/11 we are being saturated again with all the media blitz.  I don't minimize the horror and the anguish of the people who lost family and friends in this event. But there are countries in this world of ours that live this kind of horror every day of their lives. War is the daily occurrence in some places. Bombs and death and hunger and fear. DAILY.  We have our tree rattled by one event and it's like nothing that ever happened to anybody else in the history of the world. I know there are probably some who will brand me as a heartless bitch for saying this. I am not, I assure you. When this thing happened, I was fresh home from the hospital, unable to walk or get out of bed without assistance, and had nothing in my little world but the television and my books to keep me from cracking up. Believe me, being assaulted by these horrific images and the godawful fear that this was only the beginning of it nearly pushed me over the edge.  And then the days passed and nothing else happened. But the media didn't stop. The continued blitz of the same images over and over and some point I was numb, like a lot of other people, I'm sure.  And now, 10 years later, it's still like it happened yesterday.  

 But it didn't happen yesterday.  And the fear mongering has not stopped. 

 I don't know. Funny how one little statement about things we take for granted can trigger such a missive. lol


  We went to the movies last night, after a Chinese buffet, and saw Contagion. It stars Gwenyth Paltrow and Matt Damon and Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburn.  It is an excellent movie and scary as hell. And it is a really well made description of the nature of fear and human beings. As we watched one particular part, where the looting is starting, I was mentally ticking off the state of my pantry and what things I probably needed to include. lol   The other thing that became apparent to me was that, the best a person can do to keep themselves ready for any possibilities of  food shortages is probably not going to be enough. But you can do what you can do, and hope for the best. 
 I recommend this movie and give it 5 stars! lol

I took a header off the little porch in my neighbors garage yesterday morning.  Only about 4 inches high, and I stumbled trying to regain my balance and fell flat on my face.  Both knees and wrists took the brunt of it, along with my chest and shoulders. Crikey. Today I feel like I've been beaten with a baseball bat. "I hurt in the places where I used to play" to quote Leonard Cohen. lol  Turning into 'old lady who falls'.

I have peaches to get sliced and peeled and even if I don't get the jam made today, I can get it tomorrow. I need to get off the computer and get down to find a basket. Life is good and still busy here on Honeysuckle Hill. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and don't take things for granted. There are a hundred things to be grateful for every single day.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hump Day...

 Sitting here listening to the washer spinning the last load of clothes. I have chili on the stove simmering away and am getting ready to make a nice skillet of cornbread.  My son is out in the driveway putting new brakes on the front of my car. Some pups are sleeping, some are on guard in the front yard, and mostly it's a gorgeous fall day, breezy and clear.  Only about 67 degrees out there.

  This seems apropo. My son is in a snit because of his wife and I am trying to mind my own business.  You can imagine how well that is going. Amazing how I still want to go to bat for him and make his boo-boo go away and kiss and make it better.  I guess your babies never get to big for mommy to worry about, no matter what.  Sigh....


  On a brighter note, Judy over at My Freezer Is Full (who is my gardening guru) gave me a lovely award that I am supposed to pass on to bloggers who have 200 or less followers (I think) I'll need to check, as most everyone except me seems to have about a gazillion followers.  LOL  I'm supposed to pick 3 and set them down here and send you their way. (I think).

 (You'll have to excuse me-I read it last night when I should have been in bed and now I am a little fuzzy on the details.)  I'll have to do it all right in a little bit.

  Ok. Here we go:

First let m,e say that I kept looking at blogs last night and couldn't find the followers on a bunch of them. Or it would say FOLLOWERS    but   no names would appear. lol

 The blogs I want to give this award to are  ones I really enjoy reading....starting with Linda at BlueSkiesSunnyDays.  I love reading her, because I learn something new every single time. Plus, she and I are both back living in our native lands after years of wandering. lol  Check her out!

  Then there's Erin, at Garden Now-Think Later, who never fails to amuse me with her tales of gardening and family and great photos.  She's a gardening Guru and supermom ! Go there--you won't be sorry!

 I visit TeresaEvangeline daily to read her thought provoking posts and am never disappointed. She's a soul sister...something about her writing and her life speak to me at a deep level.  She has a beautiful blog--go look!


  Alright. It only took me three days to write this. lol Some things are best not attempted when one is too tired.

  I'm off to bed now. Had a good day...lunch with my boy in town, a walk in the park with Roxie, and a nice supper with the Irishman.  Also had a brief visit with my brothers wife, who was up this way and made time to come see me.

  How blessed am I ???

  Up, up, and Away..............


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer's end...

She's now officially a blankie dog.  lol

  It has gone from 102 degrees on Saturday to 46 degrees this morning. The shock is almost too much for my system.  I slept in my flannel nightgown last night and I'm in a robe and socks this morning as well. yikes!

Been a whacked out morning...not a good sign of things to come.  The Irishman has lost his truck keys [again]. I am searching for them all the while praying to the patron saint of lost things (St. Anthony) and swearing. I've been up since 6 AM trying to find the damn things. He took my car and left for work so he wouldn't be late. I will be stuck if I don't find them.  I've looked everywhere they could and shouldn't be...that I can think of.  Sigh....

  They'll turn up. They have to be here somewhere.  After I left yesterday for MissB's house, he took the Jack Russell Terrorist to the reservoir for a long run and play. They came back. Keys were in hand at that point. I have searched all areas near the truck itself, where the leashes are kept, in the fridge, ..everywhere. This is the most aggravating part of marriage, I am sure.  I told him just take my car and I'll find them. That may have been a mistake.  lol


 We had a wonderful weekend with his brother and sister. Nothing fancy...they got here on Friday afternoon and  I got home from work about 8:30. Before I left, I made a big skillet of chicken fajitas and some Spanish rice for their supper. Got out some homemade salsa to go with and they were set.  On Saturday morning we went to a meeting and then on to Jerseyville to attend the annual Victorian Festival.  It's a lot of fun, with all sorts of booths and exhibits of old timey stuff like blacksmithing and pottery and basket weaving. They have bluegrass music shows and Civil War black powder shoots. There are soldiers in full CW regalia riding around on horses, ladies in period dress sashaying around in hoop skirts with parasols. All kinds of fun, lots of people there.  We had a sandwich there for lunch (of course the boys had to have buffalo burgers and we stayed with more  [ahem!] traditional food.  Went home and grilled T-Bones for supper, with corn on the cob and salad and new red potatoes from the garden. Ate like big dogs. The guys played cribbage and my SIL and I sat around chatting.

  Sunday the guys headed out to a meeting and then on to Pere Marquette State  Park to hike the bluffs. Kathy and I stayed home and had a nice lazy day of talk and a movie and going in town to Paneras for some soup and sandwich and mostly to pick up a whole grain miche to go with the spaghetti I planned to make for supper.  It was a great day, all in all. After breakfast Monday morning, they headed back to Minneapolis, and we were sad to see them go.  I hope they come back soon.

 My son is coming by this morning--just called. He said he's got nothing going on and thought he'd come out and fish. And when I told him about the keys, he said he'll help me find them. That's what I like--a good positive attitude. lol

 There's lots of crazy dog activity going on  outside and I'm keeping the beasts in. We need to get the Bella dog spayed and I know the local studlies are out on the trail of a neighbors dog. A dog who has had at least 7 litters since we moved here.  It's ridiculous, esp since I'll almost bet my life the dog (or any surviving pups) have had any kind of shots or anything else.  Sigh....

Time to go make another pot of coffee (I had nuked a remaining half cup from yesterday) and find some breakfast. Hungry work, searching for lost things.

  Have a grand short week, everyone.