Sunday, April 29, 2012

A softer Sunday

  It's been a stormy rainy 24 hours.  We are still under a severe thunderstorm watch until about 2 PM. Everything looks so green and soft out there  (well--more like squishy) lol  We did escape the in line winds and the hail...but it poured like a monsoon. Not raining right now, but the sky looks like it could if it wanted to. It's 52 degrees right now, and feels a little chilly. I've decided to make a batch of soup this late morning and put on some sweats.  Snuggling in seems like the order of the day.  I have the radio on, playing a station on satellite called Moodscapes, which sounds like the stuff they play when you're getting a massage. It's all conspiring to make me so laid back, I'm about to tip over.

  So much for getting any seeds planted this weekend.  I got home yesterday right as it started to rain, after having a nice lunch with my new friend, and doing a couple of errands. Had to get some more of that wonderful organic soy yogurt from Dierbergs and made a stop at the Green Earth grocers for some shampoo and some garlic powder and stuff. I came home and made a wonderful peanut sauce and  soba dish full of edamame and broccoli and savoy cabbage and green onions, ginger and garlic. I am officially out of garlic, so I think I'll have to make a run to Pappy's market here in a minute to pick some up. Can't cook without garlic. Well, I could--but why would I ?????

  I bought some organic lemons to make a batch of Violet Dandelion Lemonade this week. 3 lemons will make a half gallon, and I found the recipe on another blog. It looked absolutely gorgeous. I'm also going to start another batch of kimchi  either today or tomorrow. I have a fridge full of cabbage and was thinking I'd try mixing up a couple of different kinds, instead of using all napa cabbage. Last time I also used kale, along with garlic, ginger, carrots and I don't remember what all.  I really should start a kimchi recipe book, so I can document and track the recipes.  Figure out which ones we like best, and more importantly, remember what ingredients I used. LOL

  I'm also in the mood to make some kind of dessert to go with tonights supper...not sure what the Irishman has in store for me, but so far, everything he has fixed has been wonderful. We have both tempeh and tofu in the fridge...plenty of rice and vegetables and such.  I'm considering a coconut milk custard --but I'll have to buy some more eggs...the chickens are moulting and not laying worth a damn right now.

  I can hear the chicklets in the room next door--sounds like they're getting rowdy. This next week they are going outside. They're getting big and I am tired of the mess in that room. It is always a relief (even if it's a little scary for a while) to get them outside into the chicken coop. I love chickens...

  I need to make some bread today too, we're almost finished with the 2 fallen loaves. lol  The Irishman has loved them, and eats at least 2-3 pieces a day with butter and honey.  They are very dense and moist...The mixture of the rye and buckwheat flours turned them a little grey looking though, which I'm not crazy about. I still have a lot of the old restaurant  woman in me to not have my food look beautiful as well as taste good., lol.

   Well, that's about it for my computer time here on Honeysuckle Hill on a damp Sunday morning. The dogs keep going in and out and can't decide what they want. It's chilly and damp and they like to be curled up in here with me when the weathers like that. Except Caylee-the venerable outside dog.  But I think I hear her at the door now too (the others have been back in this time for an hour).

  There is a plant sale going on at Pappy's market and I usually try to hit it. I've had a hankering to plant some flowers, pots, perennials, --I don't care.  My big purple Irises are blooming like crazy with the rain, and I am going to go out and get a vasefull like last year's..

  I hope YOUR Sunday is filled with rainbows and flowers...


Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday on the old homestead...

 A coolish day here, perfect for digging little round bean trellis beds and unloading more composted leaf mulch, courtesy of our wonderful neighbors. Mr. Man is out there with all 4 dogs helping as best they can  :)

 I, on the other hand, have been a whirling dervish of a domestic goddess...vacuuming, mopping, cleaning, sweeping porches, FINISHING THE INVENTORY... yes, children--it is finished.  Yikes.  It was an ordeal. lol

  lol...I think Judy over at My Freezer is Full has this on her page. It was on my FB page  too..I knew there was some reason I have canned so much. lol   The good news is that we have plenty of food still to get us through to the next harvest.  The bad news is..well, there isn't any bad news really. I did find some salsa that has no date on it (WHAT!!!), so I have to assume that it's at least 3 years old or more.  It could possibly have just gotten missed, but I don't think so.  I have gotten pretty diligent about that in the past couple of years..because I have had this happen before.  Experience (good and bad) is always my best teacher.

  The best part of the whole endeavor is that my pantries and my kitchen canned goods shelf are now all organized and clean. Dusted, washed down and straightened up. Voila!

   I broke down and bought a new mop yesterday..and paid more for it than I have ever paid for a mop in my life. (Can you spell..t-i-g-h-t-w-a-d) .  Thing is, I keep buying these less expensive sponge mops and they keep breaking. This last time, the sponge was barely wet.  sigh... So I went to Walcrap and bought a 20 dollar O Cedar mop. It's the one like a Swiffer (which I refuse to buy), only it has a washable re-usable microfiber head on it, and it has a refillable bottle so you can use your own cleaning solution (vinegar, Fabulouso,   Murphy's Oil Soap).  I used it for the first time and have to say, I love it !  The little container that you put the soap and water in uses 2 tablespoons of your cleaner, filled with water. People, it did my whole, dining room, 2 hallways, the laundry room and 2 bathrooms.  And there was still a tiny bit to empty out when I put it away.  And my floors look GREAT!  I am overjoyed.  I took the microfiber mop head off (it attaches with velcro strips)  and washed it out in the sink when I was finished and hung it up to dry.  Conserved water, conserved cleaning solutions, --a winner!!  I have laminate floors mostly and both bathrooms have ceramic tile.

  Laundry is almost done...the last load is in the dryer.  We are going out for dinner tonight, but not sure where.  Maybe we'll go for Japanese, since I've got a hankering for some scallops.  saw a PBS cooking show the other day and the chef Ming Tsai was doing a black bean, zucchini and scallop one pot meal that knocked me out. I haven't been able to stop thinking about scallops since.  lol

  I need to go outside and see what kind of goodies my neighbor sent over with Pat. She is taking out some yuccas in her front yard and asked if I'd like some.  Of course I said yes--you know me and free plants. I have a couple of areas that could use something hardy to fill in.  When himself came in for lunch, he said there was a "tub full of stuff" out there.  I gotta go see!

   Hope everyone is having a grand Friday. I know I am...lots accomplished, taking it slow, and dreaming of hibachi scallops....mmmmmm.....


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A tisket, a tasket..a green and yellow basket...

  It's a beautiful Tuesday here at Honeysuckle Hill.  I woke up today thinking about having some stationery made that says:

                                             Annie Kelley
                                    Here at Honeysuckle Hill

  Now, don't ask me why I would have stationery made, since I rarely write letters anymore. I do have 2 friends that I could write to but never do--they are both women who are written- letters- on- paper kind of girls. Anyway, it was an interesting thought to wake up with.

  The sun is shining and it's about 55 degrees out there already at 9:30..heading for the mid 70's, or so they say. I was up too late and then slept kinda late (exactly enough, it would seem--I feel pretty darn good). I'm in the middle of a project of inventorying my pantries, and as usual, it's turned out to be a bigger job than I'd hoped for.  LOL   I worked at it sort of diligently yesterday, between baking bread and making granola bars and cooking supper, and have barely made it a quarter of the way through.  Arrgghh...the worst part?--I have already started a list of MORE things to get. lol Things like raisins and whole wheat flour...more things to plan is to stop spending any more than I have to in my grocery budget by knowing what is in that pantry and eating accordingly. I do eat out of it every day, don't get me wrong. But I could easily make whole meals out of there and make room for this coming years harvest, which I need to do more of.  (Bad sentence--where are the grammar police?) 

   I made bread yesterday and the furnace guy and his brother came to figure out why the furnace wouldn't come on after he was here to fix the air, which was a wire he forgot to hook back up after he was here last year fixing the furnace. And he did it again. lol Bless his heart. It's an old jury-rigged furnace, and he would like nothing more than to sell me a new one, complete with it's own true schematic and diagramming papers, but alas...I am too poor for a new furnace, and he knows it. So he does his best to keep the old wires working one more year..anyway..I was making bread, as I said. His brother came in and slammed the door trying to beat the dogs through and the bread fell and it's not the beautiful loaves of homemade goodness I would like, so I may make croutons and bread crumbs out of it. re-purpose it into a healthy bread pudding maybe--it's rather dense, but actually tastes okay, according to the Irishman, who ate 2 pieces of it as it came out of the oven. My bread eating machine, that guy. I made it with 3 types of flour--white bread flour, buckwheat flour and a little rye.  So, I may remake it, and I may not. We'll see.

  I will probably make a trip to Edwardsville today to pick up a few odds and ends, but need to get this inventory done and then get out in the yard and get some seeds in the ground. It's still a little early around here, but I'm ready to risk it. lol   There is an upside to this little cool snap we've had---the grass is growing more slowly and doesn't look like it needs mowing a week after it was mowed last fact, things look rather lush and grand out there..

  Everyone who's been by is commenting on my beautiful arbor my son built. I am so  And the cats have chosen it as their favorite place to lounge.

  Okay--the pantry isn't getting done while I sit here musing my life away. In fact, nothing's getting done. 

And that's okay. For now.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Softly and serenely Sunday...

I know that means different things to different people. For me, being at home, listening to the chicks in the next room (they're getting big and rowdy--time to go outside soon!!), sitting in my quickly vacuumed house, smelling the granola toasting in the oven, and waiting for my husband to get here with my sister. I have hamburger buns raising in the kitchen, and we're going to have grilled garden burgers and grilled whole ear corn and some fresh asparagus today.  It's quiet and I have some lovely instrumental music playing. I have some leftover German chocolate cake for dessert, so nothing to do in that department. lol

    I realize more and more every day, to be thankful in a big way for all the little things in my life that make it so worthwhile, so full of love, so bearable (even when things aren't going the easy way).  Maybe  especially when things aren't going the easy way.  Life is always about the little things...I read a quote once that said Not everybody can do great things, but EVERYBODY can do small things with great love.  And so I try to do all the small things I can do, and do them from my heart.

  I have one big dark purple flower on my clematis at the corner of the front porch.  I treasure that one first bloom more than I ever do when it's loaded with flowers, for some reason.  The first spring peepers, the first time when I learn something new,  the first snowfall...all marking transitions into the next phase of the seasons or my life or whatever. Something special about those times, and sometimes makes me forget about the magick and beauty of all the other things that are always with me on a daily basis.

  Yesterday I met someone special. I think. In my gut, I know.  You know how it is when you are listening and hear that twing of a connection and can't wait to get next to that person. To talk and to listen and to know them. It was like that. We exchanged phone numbers and we shall see if a friendship grows from this encounter.  Even if it doesn't, I am glad to have made her acquaintance.  At my age, it seems like there aren't a lot of new friends out there to be made, though that even sounds silly as I type it. But--it feels that way sometimes...

  ...well, it's about 5 hours later than when I started this. More than that, maybe. My sister has come and gone and we had a nice dinner and a nice visit. Her husband came and got her to take her home, so I didn't have to drive down there after all. Nice...a whole day of staying home. I did a little cleaning but not too much. made a nice batch of granola and a gorgeous bunch of hamburger buns.  Seriously, if you ever make these things, you'll be hooked and you'll never buy store buns again. I don't think I'll do the veggie burgers on the grill again was almost too much. But the corn was awesome as usual and the asparagus was a treat as well.

   I'm feeling the need for some popcorn...and maybe watch a little tv if I can find something on worth watching. Reading a Patricia Cornwell book right now, Black that seemed to have gotten past me, as I've read a great many of her books. Not the one about Jack the Ripper though--somehow that doesn't interest me at all. lol  I'm about halfway through it, so if there's nothing on tv, I'll just read.  I picked up 3 more books at a yard sale over the weekend I'm [pretty stocked up with things to pass the time. lol

  Hope everyone's weekend was good and that you'll be looking forward to the first Monday of the week with a glad heart.  I have a couple of things that have been being shuffled from list to list for a few days that I absolutely HAVE to accomplish my plan is pretty much made.

  Blessings and love


Friday, April 20, 2012

And now, after her ten day hiatus...

Sheesh.On a bright note, here is a picture of ONE of the things that happened during the 10 days I had no internet.
  My son whipped this baby up in only two days...because after he put the 4x4 posts in the ground with quickcrete, they had to set up. The only cost was for the 4x4's, everything else was leftover from another project or repurposed material.  I've been wanting to have one, and this year the goofy little 50 cent stick of wisteria that I stuck in the ground  has gone berserk. The boy had some time on his hands waiting to be called back to work and so..there you have it.  It's not overly fancy, he said...and I said the wisteria will be covering it by the end of summer--it's perfect. The bench seat is made form some heavy duty pallet slats that the Irishman brought home from work where the steel they make the culvert pipe from gets hauled on. It had to be scrubbed down once he was finished because it had a red oxidation on it that came off on my hands, so I took some dish soap and a rubber scrubber out there and cleaned it up.  Since I had the hose out, I went ahead and cleaned up the front porch furniture as well. We had a couple of serious storms that howled and flung mud and dirty rain water everywhere...and the rocking chairs and the little table were a hot mess.


  Today has taken a cool turn..and drizzly all day too.  I have a big pot of minestrone soup on the stove right now and the house has all those wonderful smells of garlic and oregano and tomato-ey goodness swirling around. Doing laundry too--the Irishman is working today and maybe tomorrow too. Grateful for the over time.  Yesterday I mowed the whole neighbor clucking at me as she watched me limping along behind the self-propelled mower. I had planted potatoes earlier in the's a little late, but the garden beds weren't ready, or it was raining. Anyway, got those in. So, today is an inside, taking it easy day. I was gonna bake bread, but didn't.  Was gonna make granola and granola bars...but didn't. Oh, well.  I have a really laid back


  The husbandman has come home and gone to take the JRT to the park for a quick walk and then to the grocery for a loaf of french bread and some shredded parm to go with the minestrone soup.  That'll be a good meal. I used orzo in it in the place of macaroni..I like to do that because the macaroni sucks up all the soup liquid when the leftovers are in the fridge. lol  Orzo too tiny to do much damage.  He came in and said "Ooooo...that really smells good!!"  

  I have the last load of laundry in the dryer and the house is warm and aromatic and it's going to be a nice quiet Friday night of being home watching tv. If there's nothing good on, we can watch a movie from our personal library--I just got 3 new ones at a thrift store the other day. One Sean Connery, called Just Cause, one Day After Tomorrow, and something else that I cannot quite recall without going to look. lol   It'll be a cozy evening in while the rain continues to come down out there. Supposed to stop this evening, but for now it's all lazy-making, all those negative ions in the air.


Okay...time to wind this up and get my self in the kitchen.  I can't tell you how glad I am to be back online...while I had no internet, however (this is SO telling)...I read 6 books, baked my brains out,  cleaned 2 closets, cleaned the mudroom, worked in the yard and generally fussed about.  I also got a lot better at using my iPhone to do some of the things it can do. But iot easn't the same as sitting here at my keyboard, reading up on what y'all have been busy with and generally feeling connected.

(The reading more was good though) lol

  Have a fabulous Friday, everyone. I need to go check on some chickens....


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just when you think it's safe ... take a day and do NO housework--your favorite brother calls and says they're coming tomorrow for a VISIT, if that's okay.  And of course you say, yes--it's okay--knowing full well you have a 10:30 massage and reflexology appointment that will save your life and you can't cancel on such short notice.  Which leaves no time for housework, as they'll be here when I get back.

  So, you cheerfully tell them to come at their own risk, as the grass is high and the oak seed pods have taken on a life of their own and are everywhere, choking the life out of everything.  I swept the porch and swept them out of the hall going to the front door, and 10 minutes later they were back.

 And the peaceful serene look of this place, harbors a dark underbelly, which will reach out and pull you under if it's not kept at bay by my whirling dervish-type housekeeping schedules.  (Believe me--the yard looks nothing like this right now. I mowed last Tuesday and the dandelions alone are already 2 foot high). And the back yard has not been mowed at all, too busy working the garden beds to be bothered with it, and now it's supposed to rain for like, I don't know, 6 days straight, and do you know what that is going to do??  The grass is already high back there, and the only thing that may save us is that the weather is shifting back to almost normal April temperatures. Freeze warning tonight.  Sigh....maybe the grass won't grow. (Right.)

  It's been a lovely cool day today, and I didn't do a damn thing except drive to Edwardsville for dog biscuits and a few odds and ends. And I drove 55 all the way with the cruise control on and had the windows down off and on. Roxie was with me, of course. She thinks she's a magical dog when we go into Petco and the doors open for her, lol.  I picked up some more soy yogurt (vanilla) and some fruit and a few vegetables. Going down the road, I realized I hadn't been in the car since Friday.


  I installed a new photo app on my iPhone today--really didn't like the way the other one worked. This one seems better so's called Instagram, and I understand  the spawn of Facebook bought it recently. I don't care who owns was free and it works pretty well.  A winning combination in my book.

  Made Pad Thai for supper and it was good. And easy. (Another winning combination). lol

  Not sure what I'll make for my brother and family when they come tomorrow, but it probably doesn't really matter. They rarely eat with us, very concerned that I don't go "out of my way" for them. lol  But we'll see how it goes. I was thinking  maybe a big pot of beans and cornbread might be good. I got some buttermilk today while I was I could make a skillet of my sweet moist cornbread...mmm...making me hungry just thinking about it.

  Read a few blogs, said a few prayers. I'll get up early with the Irishman and take an hour or so to run the vacuum and dust and straighten up. It'll be good enough. I'm gonna go start a pot of butterbeans to soaking before I go to bed, so I can just get them going early. Trying to decide if I want to put a hamhock in them that I found in the freezer.  We haven't been eating meat, not buying any, but have had fish a time or two when we are out to eat.  I found a turkey breast in the outside freezer and a package of goat--ribs I think- I could cook that turkey breast too.  I had thought of cooking it for Easter, but wound up not having an Easter meal. I didn't realize we still had stuff in the freezer, or would have eaten it up long ago. lol  The goat will probably be a doggie treat, because it's mostly bones-something someone had given me last year.

  So many decisions to make this late at

  Time for me to go to bed.

  6 AM comes mighty early around these parts.


Monday, April 9, 2012

A Mellow Monday

  Today was everything a Monday should be....pleasant weather, quiet and peaceful outside, and I accomplished a LOT.

3 loaves, all in all.  Made with a combination of bread flour, whole wheat flour and rye flour.  It turned out better than any bread I've made in a while.

   Then  (or, first, actually) I made 2 batches of granola bars, one for my son and one for here.  They are really good too, and chock full of 3 kinds of fruit that I dried (apples, blueberries and cranberries) plus raisins, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, coconut,  flax seeds,and oatmeal and honey, barley malt syrup and butter.  Thinking I might try using coconut oil next time. They look like this:

 And then get cut into this:

  And wrapped.  Each batch makes 16-18 bars.  I roughly figured it out that it costs about 3 dollars to make a batch. And that's a very rough estimate, since I'm always buying things on sale and stashing them in my pantry and never know from one time to the next what I might have

  I'm thinking I need to figure out how to incorporate some peanut butter into them,. Wouldn't that be good ?


  I also made a blackberry pie, since my husband has been hinting around about how good one would taste.  lol  I found some 2 year old blackberries in the freezer that needed using, and VOILA!  Pie.

  We had leftovers for supper, the last of the adzuki beans and some jasmine rice, fresh bread with butter and a small green salad.  Because they needed to get eaten, and because by suppertime, I was about cooked OUT.  lol


  I finished my book by Elizabeth Hay..A Student of Weather. Excellent reading.  I kept thinking I had read this before, but now, having finished it, I'm not so sure.   The characters were exquisite. The story is set between Saskatchewan, Ontario and New York.  Loved it.

  Now--what's the next read? Possibly Rush Home Road, by Lori Lansens  or maybe, The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb.  Hmmmm.....


  I found a station on the tv satellite that is all Guitar and Piano music and that is what was on all day. I turned the computer off around lunchtime and spent the rest of the day listening to music, reading and baking.  It was extraordinarily relaxing.  I have a few set plans for tomorrow- some errands to run and some chores to do--but mostly it might be a day of working outside, getting some grass mowed, getting some branch teepee trellises set up. Whatever it turns out to be, I'm going slow and easy through it, just like I did today.  :)


  Might be having a visit form baby brother and family in the middle of the week...better get the house straightened around, just in case.  lol  Have a massage and reflexology treatment scheduled for Wednesday morning, not a minute too soon.  My back and neck are hurting pretty good.

  Talked to my youngest sister a while today too.  She's busy working and all is well on that end. I will be seeing her this weekend, hopefully.

  The baby chicks are growing like weeds. The signs of spring are inescapable  and I am ready for more outside time and lots of sunshine.  Sounds good to me.  lol

  For now, I am off to bed. To sleep--perchance to dream.

  Hope you all had a relaxing Monday too...


Sunday, April 8, 2012

April's second Sunday...

 A beautiful Sunday morning...sunny and bright blue skies.  Had some newly made granola for breakfast and the Irishman was off to town for his Sunday morning homegroup meeting.  I, on the other time, have been wasting away the morning sitting here at the computer.

  I do have some things to do, and just when I get close to starting them, I meander off onto another place on the web, and fool around a little longer.  lol

  I was going to post last night and keep my computer off all day...but it didn't happen and I have no discipline, and before you knew it, I was  in here turning everything on and looking forward to checking into things with wild abandon.


  I was a busy beaver yesterday...and I still didn't get all the things on my list done. Of course it didn't help that I had 2 visitors and several phone calls. And I'm basically lazy.  lol  So far this morning I have vacuumed and changed the tablecloth and set the table with new placemats and napkins in big sunflower rings. I have swept the front porch and half of the back deck (the seed pods from the oak trees are making me insane...they are everywhere and they are back on the floors 3 minutes after you sweep or vacuum). I have taken a shower after all that and gotten dressed. I'm going to make 2 batches of granola bars today and give one of them to my son when he comes by tomorrow...I have to make bread.  The granola I made yesterday turned out so good! I gave him a small bag to take home with him and he called later and said "Man--that granola is AWESOME !!!!!   Can I get the recipe when I come on Monday??"  And I thought, well...if I can remember how I made it.  LOL  I'll write it down as best I's a loose recipe anyway, and it's never the same twice. However, this time I made it with part honey and part barley malt syrup and it gave it a wonderful flavor.


  Well, the Irishman came home and immediately left again, to go mushroom hunting with the neighbor. They're just out behind our place, not far, but he had all these plans to do things that he didn't do yesterday, because he took off for a hike with his buddy--Quiver River or somewhere in Missouri, and even with a GPS they got lost. He didn't get home until almost 8 o'clock last night. So, he was gone all day and didn't do any garden work. I doubt much will get done today either. I think he wants to get some of the tree branch teepees made to see how they go--we'll use them for bean poles.

  I keep telling him it's okay to take a day off, but....he's worried we're not going to get things in  on time.  I tell him that Mother Nature has her own time, and that it will all be fine.  lol


  Last night I made a beautiful vegan lasagna.  I used whole wheat noodles and I caramelized onions and sauteed garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, asparagus and spinach at the last minute to barely wilt it.  I made ricotta with onions and garlic and tofu and agave nectar and salt, pepper and basil.  I used a nice marinara and it was absolutely delightful. You could not tell that there was no cheese in it. I had the parmesan out to put it on my plate if I wanted it, but I really didn't need it. Here's a picture or two...I slid the top noodles back to show the filling...

  It was some good stuff. I made a small 8x8 pan, just in case, and the Irishman said--"..that's not gonna last very long at all"  lol  


  Well, I'd better get off here and get busy. Need to get some bread mixed up and set to rise and then get started on the granola bars.  Not in a hurry to do much, just enjoying this beautiful Sunday.

  Hope your day is especially blessed...however you choose to spend it.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Full Moon Thursday...

  (Not sure what this has to do with anything...but I liked it.)

  It's been a rather lovely day...started out cool and rainy and ended up sunny and dry, but still cool. Tonight is downright cold. I had to put my coat on after the meeting I attended , and then I went to the market while I was down in town and picked up a few things like walnuts and organic raisins so I can make granola bars this weekend.

  Earlier today I went to Market on the Square, to pay a visit to Aimee and pick up 5 pounds of gorgeous  organic asparagus...O,  sweet lord.  I cooked a pound of it for supper and will blanch and freeze some of the is really wonderful.  I also got another jar of the stone ground mustard (I am in LOVE with that stuff!!!!)  as well as some local Havarti cheese. I love that store and encourage everyone to go see them ...if you're in the Carlinville area.  I also indulged in an Illinois made ginger soda for the ride was a little sweet, but really good.  I love ginger soda...

  And that reminds me...I got a thing at Xmas from MissB's niece that is a thing to make your own sodas and sparkling water, and I have yet to use it. Maybe I'll try making my own home made ginger ale...OR maybe sassafras. I love sassafras and have always wondered why nobody ever made a soda out of it.  (Wait--sasparilla??  hmmm...)


  My eye is still hurting. Not debilitating, just icky.  I'm putting warm compresses on it several times a day,  and I think that's helping a lot.  Right now, I'm smelling like a eucalyptus factory, with salon pas patches on my shoulder, neck and knee.  lol  Feeling kind of old and used up right now.  That salon pas works pretty good though, I have to say. By morning, my neck won't be so stiff and my shoulders won't hurt. Even the ubiquitous knee will feel a little better.  This little bit of cold hits me upside the old body like a shovel.


 Got some wonderful news tonight:  I am going to be a great Aunt again!!!!!  This one is about 9 weeks right now, so probably an October baby. This one will be number 17, I blessed am I ???  It's my baby brother's first grandchild....he's a mess in a dress.  LOL  Today's his and his wife's anniversary, and my niece called them tonight to give them the good news, right after she got back from the doctors office.  I'll have to call her tomorrow....And, the Irishman's niece is also having another baby, in August, I think, and that will be #18.


  Got a room full of sleeping dogs...making all kinds of goofy noises,  like they do.  Lip smacking and rabbit dream noises and of course, farts. No day is complete without a full spectrum of dog everyone knows.  LOL

   Had to buy a 40 #  bag of chick starter tonight at the farm store because they didn't have anything smaller. It's more economical, of course. The 7# bag that I bought was 4.99...the 40# bag (same brand) was 9.99.  It's just such a big bag to have to keep in that room.  That poor room is a mess--and stuff is piled up on the bed and the potatoes and sweet potatoes and squash from last years garden is in there...the carpet cleaners live there...the chicks pen is in there. All this, PLUS a queen sized bed, dresser, bedside table, giant sauerkraut crock, a bale of wood chips for the chicken pen, a bookcase, a lot of appliances that actually are stored in the big closet that I can't easily get to because of the chick pen, and a pole lamp.  Can you imagine the level of chaos in there?????  The only thing that saves me is knowing it's temporary. In a month or two, the chicks will be out in the regular coop and I'll spend a day or two trying to rid the room of all the dust from the chicks that will have settled on everything and get all the rest of the stuff back where it belongs.  I'm actually getting pretty good at it--lol--it gets this way at Xmas too, when everything gets tossed in there all willy-nilly and then we get a visitor, and I have to zoom in there and make room for a sleeper.  

  Pretty convenient having a guest room.  Unless somebody needs to sleep in it.  LOL


  I need to get to bed. I will be sitting with my neighbor's husband tomorrow for about 7 hours while she goes with her church committee visiting shut-ins.  I'll take Student of the Weather with me for reading and we'll have lunch together and talk about all kinds of interesting stuff. He's a really wonderful guy...and watching the Parkinsons slowly steal the life from him is tragic. If it's warm enough, maybe I can talk the Irishman into coming over and having lunch with us and then we can all head into the woods and go mushroom hunting.  People are finding a lot of them, but it will probably be cut short by this cold spell.  We're having nighttime temps in the 30's again for a few days.


  I wasn't home for supper tonight, but I made my honey veggie burgers that I fortified with brown rice, adzuki beans, raw sunflower seeds and flax seeds...cooked them up and sauteed onions and bell pepper slices to put on top. Used some leftover rice and beans to make a protein rich side dish, and cooked a pound of fresh was really good. And satisfying. And nutritious.  I ate before I left and he ate when he got home from work.  I sliced a little of that havarti cheese to go on mine...mmmmm.  And  did I tell you--the people who own that dairy are my neighbors cousins?  lol  What a lovely small world, eh ??  The meeting I went to tonight was a womens meeting...small and intimate.  One of the women said she always reads my Facebook page and  salivates over the descriptions of my cooking.  She said "Will you come over and cook for me?"  I said "Yes. Yes I will."  and we all laughed.


  Time for bed. Almost 1 AM and I am starting to be really tired. I foolishly drank a small cup of coffee at the meeting and it has kept me awake past my preferred bedtime.  Probably lucky I am feeling sleepy at all....(I KNOW better than to do that....)

  My newly found cousins' son is having knee surgery tomorrow, so I have a few prayers to say tonight and in the morning. She's pretty nervous about it and I told her to call me if she needs an ear. My niece is having her first baby.  My son is anxiously awaiting news of when he will return to work. And I am one sleepy old woman. blessed with a life I could never have dreamed of having.

  Goodnight my bloggerfriends.  May all YOUR dreams come true....


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Wet Wednesday

...but it's making for some pretty plants, I'll say that.  The hostas are coming up and the lilies are averaging about a foot and a half tall.  The clematis, on the other hand, is already to the top of the trellis ! It's thundering here now and has been raining a bit. Good thing too...


  My sweet chicken died this morning. Bless her heart. It was horrid...the thing about chickens is this: they never die easily or quickly.  Hanging onto the last bit of life with everything they've got. At least that's been my experience so far. And something happened here today that may likely preclude my ever eating chicken again.

  The sick chicken didn't come out of the coop this morning, so I went around back to open the big doors and look in to see how she was doing. She was curled up in the corner, under the roost, in obvious distress. Her head was cocked at a funny angle and her breathing was labored. When you've been around chickens any time at all, you can tell things about them, and especially if they're not long for this world. And I could tell. I tried to reach her and pull her out of the corner (the FAR corner, naturally --I am barely 5 ft tall). I couldn't reach her, so I grabbed the little rake I use to clean the coop and sometimes pull eggs over closer to me, and I touched her with it. She barely could flutter a wing. I started to cry a little...and I wasn't sure what to do. SO--I decided I would just leave her in the coop until she was completely gone. The other 2 birds were very upset, and kept coming into the coop and going straight over to where she was. I needed to get them out of there, and then run around inside the fence and close that outside door. Naturally, I'd run them out--run around to the front--and they would have gone back up the ramp and into the coop. I could not get them to stay out.

  I went back around to the back and looked inside, and the Buff Orpington was walking all around her, clucking and clucking and trying to get her to get up. When that proved fruitless, she started scratching straw up over her back end. I shooed her away and got in there with a pitchfork that I gently slipped underneath her and pulled her towards me. The Buff was hysterical. I talked to her and she would not calm down. I finally pulled the sick one out and was holding her, and she took her last breath, shuddered and died. I closed up the coop and took the chicken over to dispose of her, said a short prayer for her and put her down.  I cried a little, but mostly I was glad the suffering was over. When I got back to the coop and opened those back doors, the Buff  was busy in that corner, digging around like she was looking for the other one. I went back in the house to get some fresh water for them. When I came back out, half an hour later, she had made a HUGE bowl shaped nest under the roost and they had each laid an egg in it. They never make nests like that outside the nesting boxes and they never both lay that close together. AND...they've been laying in the little cubbyhole out in the run when the board blocking it is down (which it was). 

 I was astounded at the levels of emotions I was witnessing in those chickens. The rest of the day, they kept walking around and around and pecking and peeking and looking...the Irishman said when he went out to put them up for the night, they were both, side by side, sitting in the doorway, looking out into the run. Like they were still waiting for their sister to come back...

 I wonder if this would maybe be a good time to introduce the babies into the's a little early and they're a little young, but the weather is unusually warm and ..oh, I don't know.


  I got stung by a wasp last night. He had decided that the door knob on my bedroom door was the perfect place for him to sleep, apparently and I went to bed in the dark...grabbed that knob and he got me on the finger. I cussed for a minute and went back into the kitchen where I put my finger under cold water a minute and then got out the box of baking soda and jabbed said finger into it, caking it with baking soda. The I got a small piece of paper towel, wrapped it around the finger, went back to the door and nailed the wasp with my dish towel and picked him up and put him in the garbage. And I went to bed.  The finger was stinging, but when I got up this morning, it was fine.  Didn't even swell..


  Had friends  for lunch. made the Turkish Lentil Soup and it was a big success...except they both thought it was a little spicy (it has cayenne in it). Otherwise it was wonderful.  I sliced thick slices of the artisan bread I made a few days ago and put the butter on the table. I made a lovely spring mix salad with pears and pecans and gorgonzola cheese crumbled on top. Then I mixed up a quick batch of an Australian recipe yogurt dressing that has chives, parsley, lemon juice and a dijon type mustard in it. It's awesome....We had a nice time and talked away the late morning and afternoon.  Then I turned around and had the same thing for supper with the Irishman.  lol


  Well...I am heading for bed after a full bittersweet day.  All the critters are in and sleeping, the thunder is rolling across the sky out there, and it's down to about 50 degrees. I can hear the rain gently falling, which will make for nice sleeping.

  Sweet dreams, all y'all...



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Typical Tuesday

  This is Sir Po. He is a guy who got dumped on me a few years back, when I foolishly offered to foster 3 cats for a woman until she could get settled.  When he came here, he had never been outside, ate only Walcrap cat food, and was as fat as a pig. After I realized she was never coming back for her cats, I immediately showed them the door, lol, and they have been indoor/outdoor cats ever since. He was like a wild man. He ran and jumped and climbed trees and caught mice and voles and chipmunks. He came in every night, but during the day he was the happiest outside cat in America.  In the process of all this, he lost at least 10 pounds, and is the handsome bastard you see in this photo. I think he is part Russian Blue..has a blocky head and is completely gray with a white patch on his chest.


  I was up at 6 AM again. (This could get to be a habit). Had to go in search of nomadic dogs again this morning, but not far.  So my morning started out like your typical Tuesday, coffee, computer and let dogs in, let dogs out...let cats in, let cats out. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.  I kept praying that it would rain, like they said it was going to, but by 9 AM I could see that they had lied again, so I had a cup of granola mixed with soy yogurt, got dressed in some work clothes with a St. Louis Blues Hockey team hat to keep the ticks out of my hair and headed into the backyard to get the mower out. I mowed all of the front yard, between the honeysuckle and the blackberries (a hundred feet of 8 ft wide grass), alongside the driveway, in front of the driveway, where the big planter is  and all around the garage.  It took me a good 3 hours, not counting the breaks I took for water and to cool off. It wasn't really so hot, maybe 80, but the humidity was a nightmare, and I had to come in and tie a terrycloth band around my forehead because the sweat was running into my eyeballs and making me go blind from the salt. My teeshirt was soaking wet and it was just yucky all the way around. But--the yard looks really good...

   My knee was hurting a lot, so I gave up after doing that much (and the sky was getting darker and darker)  and thought-maybe I can do more tomorrow.  Or--maybe not. lol  I have a couple of women friends coming over tomorrow for lunch,. so I may not get more done, even if it doesn't rain. And it is supposed to...Anyway, I came in and showered and  changed clothes and got the ice pack out. I sat on the couch with the ice pack on my knee as I ate my lunch (leftover veggies in coconut milk over leftover quinoa-yum.) I am reading a book I found during my cleaning frenzy in here, that I don't recall reading before, called Student of the Weather, by Elizabeth Hay, a Canadian writer. I read while I ate and iced (see--a good multi-tasker!!)  and as soon as I was finished eating, I fell right to sleep.  LOL

    I got up and put on some Thai Jasmine rice of the very aromatic rices. Probably as aromatic as Basmati, which I adore, but in a different way.  It filled the house with the comforting lovely smell and I fooled around a while before deciding what to fix for supper.  I finally just got all the veggies out of the bin, and decided to do a simple stir fry with broccoli, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, summer squashes, and spinach. Then I put some peanut satay sauce in and covered it until it heated and thinned out and covered the veggies nicely. It was awesome...once again, simple is better.And there's just enough leftovers for the Irishman's lunch box tomorrow. Well--except the rice, of course. I used the big rice cooker and cooked up about 6 cups of rice. I love it as a breakfast cereal, and I always love having leftover rice and quinoa to make suppers a little easier. 

  It's only 9:30, and I feel like I could go to bed now. lol  I never go to bed that early unless I'm sick, but I have been trying to make sure that I'm in bed before midnight. And I think I do feel better and more rested.


  The baby chooks are growing like weeds. They are eating fresh spinach that I throw in there and gobbling it up. They are all developing their little combs now and are still so darn cute I can barely stand it.  The sick hen outside is hanging in there...I am giving her extra vitamins and electrolytes, but she just isn't quite's like she's losing her spark. Her feathers are dull, her eyes look tired..she's only 2 years old...she is still eating and drinking, and I hope that whatever this is passes and she is alright. I have lost chickens before, so I know I'll get through it, but you sure hate it when it's happening. It's such a feeling of helplessness...trying to figure out what's wrong and she can't tell me.


  I need to go feed the fish and straighten up a bit. Then I'm going to look online for a cold soba salad to maybe make tomorrow. Or maybe I'll make the Turkish lentil soup recipe. Guess it depends on the weather. Soup and salad and maybe corn muffins?  Can't hardly go wrong with that, can you?  If I do the soup and salad, I will make a mixed greens salad with a home made yogurt mustard dressing.  And I think I'll put kale in the soup instead of the spinach the recipe calls for, because I can. lol  And the kale is bolting, so I need to get as much of it used up as I can before we tear it out.  Might could dry some more of it too. 


  The blackberries that survived the tree trimmers holocaust look to be loaded with flowers. My red maple looks better every year--so beautiful, and the leaves are almost lacy, they're so soft. It has filled out nicely.  Something weird though--I planted a wisteria last year. A stick, that I got from Aldi's for 50 cents on sale. lol  It has grown like crazy and is huge already this year, and only 1 branch has leaves on it. There are nubs and buds on all the branches which will be leaves, but there is that one branch that has leafed out ahead of the others for some reason. Goofy.


  Alright then.  Sweet dreams to you all...I'm gonna bumble around and do a few things and maybe make a small bowl of popcorn to eat while I read before going to bed. Just a tiny bowl...enough to satisfy this craving I have for something salty and crisp. Of  course, the dogs will eat at least half of however much I make, and even the cats like it, if it has butter on it. Molly will ONLY eat pieces that have butter (the Jack Russell Terrorist), the other dogs will even eat the unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. Go figure...

  Have a wonderful night...


Sunday, April 1, 2012

It was a gorgeous April day at Honeysuckle Hill

 Here's what's been keeping us busy the past few weekends. These 5 beds are about 25-30 ft long and about 4.5 feet wide. In the top picture the bed is probably about 35 ft long and 5 ft wide.  There's yet another bed out front that's smaller...I'd guess it to be about 10x10 maybe.

  We don't put manure on the potato bed, only leaf compost, but the other beds all have horse poop on 'em and are waiting for their share of leaf compost that will be coming next weekend.  I put the seed potatoes out in the sun today to encourage more sprouting...the bed isn't quite ready yet, but it's close. We both needed to take today off, and so we did.

  It was crazy today...temps hitting 90 and supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.  You can really see how dry the dirt looks in those beds. We're supposed to get rain on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday...hope it's the good steady stuff. We had almost no snow this year and the rain has even been pretty sparse. Hopefully we'll catch up in April.  However, even though we all know that "April showers bring May flowers"...the flowers have already come.  lol  Oops.


  The Irishman made a wonderful supper tonight of tempeh and broccoli  in a Hosein sauce. It was good, although a little heavy handed with the sauce. Turned out the recipe he used actually called for a pound of tempeh and the package we had was only half a pound. Still, it was the right amount for the two of us, and I told him to make a note on the recipe in the cookbook. Cut down the amount of the sauce--we are sensitive to salt anyway, and I think that was the long and short of it. 

  I watched a chef named Ann Gentry on the Veria channel this afternoon make a Turkish lentil soup that I really want to try. It has fresh rosemary in it, as well as tomatoes and spinach...and it looked so good I was salivating. She also made some spinach and tofu cheese phyllo triangles which looked scrumptious, not to mention the Mediterranean  salad with the goat cheese and fresh figs.. She is owner/operator of a restaurant in
Santa Monica called Real Food Daily.  It is a vegetarian (maybe Vegan) place and I know that she is a vegetarian herself. She has written numerous cookbooks and magazine articles on said cooking.


  I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about finding the Creative spot in our lives, and how much we need that.  We talked about how our lives get so crazy when we are working outside the home and we have no idea that we are missing such an important part of our existence.  I always thought I had no artistic vein in my body. If you asked me, (or even if you didn't, lol) I would tell you that I had no kind of artistic talents at all. A lot of my problem was the way I defined art.  If I couldn't sit down and paint a realistic portrait of you, I was nothing.  If I couldn't play piano, I was no musician.  And that was pretty much the parameters of it. One day someone said to me that I was crazy if I thought I had no talent. I was shocked. She said--look at the things you create every day in the kitchen!  I pooh-poohed that--everybody does that--it's called cooking, not art.  She said--I've read some of the things you write.  I said--well. anybody can do that.  She said--No, they can't. Not everybody.  And she talked to me for a long time about finding the things that I was passionate about and throwing myself into them with wild abandon. THAT, she said--is art.

  Years later I got hurt and could no longer work. I thought I would go insane at first. Then I started playing. I got a magazine article out of a craft magazine that showed me how to make home made paper.  A friend of mine worked at a hospital and they had big bags of paper they threw away every day, she said if I promised not to tell anyone, she'd get me some.  I scavenged other paper--colored, patterned, etc and started cutting it into strips. The Irishman made me a mortar and deckle out of 2x2's and screen.  For a whole season, I played with making different kinds of paper and card stock and put leaves in it and colors in it and had it laying all over my front yard, drying in the sun.  LOL  I'm sure the neighbors thought I'd gone quite mad.  It was so easy, you just put the strips of paper into an old blender with a little water and puree it. The you pour it onto the screen and let it drip and dry until it's of a consistency that you can pull it off the screen and finish the drying process.  It was a hoot, and I still have a few pieces of it somewhere. But I honed some calligraphy skills and made cards with it. And the people I gave those cards to were ridiculously astounded by them. And something in me started to shift...

  Anyway, I tell you this, because I was telling my guest this story, and she needed to hear it and I needed to remember it.  We all have ART genes.  We just have to find out where they are hidden. In the years since, I have played with all sorts of different things...I got paints and started painting a little.  I hope to work on that more in the coming year. I got a dulcimer and tried to learn to play it. I made wooden magnets and painted wine glasses and vinegar bottles (that I filled with home made herb vinegars) for gifts.  One year (when I was particularly broke) I got a whole butt load of wooden utensils that came in little cylindrical wood holders, but had somehow gotten wet and were being disposed of. I salvaged them and put them in a bath tub full of bleach water to get the mold and stains off (they looked ruined).  They came out amazingly clean and then I bought a childs wood burning kit and I put flowers and vines on all those spoons and things and the container as well. I embroidered small muslin dish towels with old transfers I got at a flea market and made baskets for Christmas...with jellies and such and the utensils and a dish towel inside. Voila.  A one of a kind gift that my friends and family will never forget, because every time they stir the soup with one of those spoons, they remember.  And it opened something up inside me.  And it was satisfying and I was proud and there you have it.  A gift of love.  That's what art is..a gift of love to the world.  I have piddled with watercolors and painting flowers and making things pretty and I will never be a Freida Kahlo, or a Georgia O'Keefe... but I am the happiest Annie Kelley I have ever been.  And that is enough for me.


  More on this another time. I just felt blessed to get to have that conversation with her and to be reminded by the Universe that it's important to play, and to love and to have a happy life.  And maybe that's what this time of life is all get to do all the things I never had time for, all those 50-60 hour a week work years. To finally get to play like a child, exploring new venues and magical places and laughing out loud.

  Every single day.