Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Such a busy week it's been...

Honestly...I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Not YET, anyway.

 But it's been a busy time, full of end of the garden season doin's...things like tearing out old dead plants, weeding the walking onion bed and cleaning that mess up, picking the  remaining pole limas off the freeze  killed plants, and putting them on a plate to dry.  I harvested seed heads from the chives, both regular old chives and my favorite, the garlic chives. Digging out the last of the tomatoes and getting the gardens all strawed in and put to bed for winter.  Gathered up the last few butternut squashes....small but viable.  Inside I've been making granola, canning pickled green tomatoes,  and trying to keep up with all the day to day stuff.

  Our neighbors moved this past week...a very sad occasion (for us) and we wish them all the best.  I'm feeding their sweet dog that they are debating leaving here with the new owners because he has lived out here in the country (at that house) almost his entire life (9+ years)...and he is beside himself. I keep loving him up and telling him all will be okay...it makes me cry.  I understand , but still...if he doesn't get along with the new owners dogs or there is any other problem, we will try to bring him here and keep him with us.  Unless she decides to try and take him after all. They are moved into a subdivision in town and he would have to be an inside dog...and he has NEVER been a dog who ever wanted to go in the house. His domain was their nice garage and he loves it there. It was hard to say goodbye to them...

  I got to spend some time with some of my wonderful family on Sunday.  Loving all these babies...

      Me, Aiden Micheal, Skyler and my son in the long grey hair.

       This is another great nephew, Stewart-a little doll !
  This is all the older kids (nephews and nieces) out in the parking lot at the end of a great Sunday visit.

It's been cold many mornings, and now today has been rainy all day, but at least it will stay warm at night. We've had a couple of hard freezes.  The change in the weather is trying to slow me down, and I've been in a lot of pain the past week or two. Somehow I keep soldiering on, lol

I'll be curious to see how the pickled green tomatoes turn out. They look nice enough. Takes at least 2 weeks to "cure"  before you can open one to see. Dang.  lol

I'm going to spend much of tomorrow working on the last bit of bathroom stuff--mainly, I will be decoupaging the outlet and switch plate covers. I'm going to use leftover wallpaper border.  I think they will turn out pretty neat--I'll let you know. MUCH cheaper than buying themed replacements for the old plastic covers.

There's been lots of goings on on the social front too, as there usually is this time of year.  Bonfires and weenie roasts and get togethers.  We've been doing a little of that. Lots of speakers and potlucks in local AA too...keeping us plenty busy.  To be honest, I'll be glad when the snow starts to fall and I have an excuse for not going anywhere.  lol

Okay-- I'm pooped and need to go to bed.  Hope everyone is having a safe and warm end of October--there is already snow falling in a few places.  Not here though, thank goodness. November is right around the corner, and all the good food and gratitude that go with that.

Feeling particularly blessed...


Monday, October 21, 2013

Where have I been ?

 In the bathroom.  That's where I've been.  lol   Changing this room from a cheap can of flat pale blue paint (all I could afford at the time) that was a big mistake a couple of years ago...to this:  a beautiful expensive (to me--30 dollars a gallon)  paint and primer combination , color called Tea and Honey. Looks more apricot beige-y to me, but hey--I like it.  It's warm. It's a step below a semi-gloss. It's clean and goes well enough with the border up along the ceiling.  I am ordering a new shower curtain and a microfiber liner (recommended by several women). The old fabric curtain is about 9 years old, and has been washed about 1 too many times. lol  It will be laid to rest when the new one arrives.

  This bathroom (master bath) has a HUGE handicapped shower stall, and the room itself is about the size of most kitchens. It has (had) a long vanity with a double sink. I removed one of the sinks because it was nasty and cracked (back when we first bought the place) and cut a piece of plywood to lay over the hole, that I painted in a dark green to match the vanity. More counter space was good.  We really only need one sink anyway. It has a big walk-in closet off the side, which is as big as most bathrooms.  I spent one whole day (almost 6 and a half hours) scrubbing and cleaning that damn shower stall. I used a spray soap scum remover, bleach, sos pads and baking soda and vinegar.  That sucker is as clean as it has EVER been since it was new, I bet.  I burned my hands and a couple of fingertips with bleach.  Ouch. Never mind--they're healed up now.  (and yes, I KNOW, gloves.  sheesh.)  lol  (There's a long story behind why this shower gets so bad and isn't cleaned more often...much of which has to do with my husbands job cutting steel pipe and my crippled old body that has a really hard time doing this job myself).  Anyway...

  I went to Lowe's and bought 2 new lights to go over the mirror...rectangular shaped chrome bases with 3 lights on each.   The boy will install them for me, as soon s I get all the second coat of paint on, which is happening today. maybe. lol  I'm pretty sore from going up and down that little ladder yesterday and the day before. 

  I am playing with several ideas for a new towel rack beside the shower, one of which involves a short oar or boat paddle, wooden, with brass hooks screwed into it.  Another which is a beautiful piece of driftwood.  Or perhaps a jigsaw cutout of a sailboat, painted and detailed by me.  (Both with hooks).

  I've been kinda in the zone.  lol  And I have a big box of peppers, green tomatoes, okra and cucumbers sitting on my kitchen island screaming out to be processed. And laundry to do. And house to clean. We'll see what happens...

  On a different note...I am in the middle of talking with people about doing another workshop/lecture series about eating low on the food chain.  Or changing the way we eat. Or  what do I do now ?  lol  Still kicking ideas around about what to call it, but it will be offered to (and directed at) people who have CSA shares and are often not quite sure about what to do with all that bounty. Or how to fix it. Or what some of it is. lol Thinking about aiming it at CSA members, Sierra Club people...you know, that kind of audience.  I am excited about it, and am supposed to be kicking around what to call it, and what will it entail...leaning towards vegetarianism and certainly eating more locally and nutritionally.  It won't be until probably late April, early May.  Fun stuff.

  Okay...the laundry soap isn't going to make itself. The painting fairies won't show up either, probably.  lol  I best get my old self in gear...finish up this cup of coffee and get dressed.

  Happy Autumn, all y'all...


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'm a bibliophile... (or am I just an addict?)

  I think I might have a problem.

The bookshelves in my house are out of control, and books are willy-nilly everywhere.

And not just on shelves. They are taking over.

All manner of subjects, 

There are about 4 and a half bookshelves in this room alone.

This and that...

Living room end table...

Other end table (my end of the couch)

Dining room...mostly cookbooks. There's one more cookbook bookshelf too, but I'm not showing you that. (messy)  lol

Entryway..this is an antique book-through. Full  of gardening reference books mostly.

My bedside table...seriously need to clean this room...

His bedside table.

Books from the neighbor...

On the Island

More cookbooks on the island

Bookshelf in the guest room/food storage room


  Is there a 12 step program for people like me ??  There are at least 3 big boxes of books out in the garage that will probably go to the library once they get back into their building after the remodeling. Sheesh...

  I just thought it might be time for a post that had absolutely NOTHING to do with food or gardens or canning or stuff.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

I Am...the Queen of Quite a Lot...

Fridge magnet I found today at the little antique/thrift store here in town. I thought it said it all.   LOL

  Been a very busy week here. More canning--  beets, blackberry juice (that came out of the freezer cleaning mess), bbq sauce, and --seems like something else. Oh, froze about 15 pounds of rainbow chard and another 6 quarts of bell peppers.  The blackberries were by far the worst. I pulled all bags of berries from the depths of freezer-world that were dated 2010 or earlier. Oh.  My.  God.  It was a water bath canner full of berries. My initial thought was to can juice from some and make jelly from some. And I tried to do this all in one day, when I had to be up at 6 the next morning to go away for the day.   Foolish, foolish girl.  I found a recipe for canning a blackberry lemonade concentrate, and thought--oh, that would be good.  So, I set to work at about 9 AM, cooking down berries, putting them in the blender and then through a strainer to remove the seeds.  (I had already decided against jelly.)  I wound up with 9 quarts of blackberry lemonade concentrate and 7 quarts of plain blackberry juice. At 2:30 AM.  By the time this day was over, I felt like someone had beaten me to death with a wooden mallet.  I was so exhausted... and when the Irishman woke me up at 5:30, I almost cried.  lol  But--I had to go meet up with my cousins to take a trip to southern Illinois. And I did.  And I really did okay, until the trip home. And especially the last 20 minutes, when I was driving from my cousins house top my house.  And when I got here, I came undone.

  I was in bed and dead asleep by 9:30, and didn't wake up until 9 o'clock the next morning.  And I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I didn't eat right all day Thursday and then that night I binged on carbs...it was almost comical, except that I was such a mess. I ate cheese raviolis with butter and garlic powder and black pepper. I ate half of a Marie Callender  chicken pot pie. And I ate a small dish of cookie dough ice cream.  This may not sound so bad...but I have not eaten hardly any dairy, wheat or sugar in the past 3 months.  But I'm telling you...those raviolis were heavenly...lol   And I felt sickish all day Friday.  lol  I was a maniac....

  So...let's see...ah.  The boy brought home a stainless steel Kenmore grill last week. He said he knew we were talking about it being time for a new grill (ours is about 14 years old and VERY well used).  Someone he knew said he could have it if he wanted it, that it wasn't any good anymore, but maybe he could scrap it. Let me tell you...that nut didn't fall far from the tree.  He's just like me--he took it, of course. He unloaded it here and started tinkering and looking at it and said--this guy's an idiot.  It did need parts, as the guy had loaded it with lava rocks and burned through the stainless steel burner tubes.  We came in here and went online and found the parts on Sears.com...but goodness they were expensive. Each tube was 30+ dollars (it has 4) and then the ceramic covers were another 45 dollars each (4 again) and it was going to cost over 250 dollars to get the parts. (To buy a replacement lid--which we didn't need, but just to give you an idea-- was FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS !!!!!!!!)  We went to Lowe's, and found universal replacement parts and got everything we needed for a whopping 70 bucks.  woohoo !  So, I am now the proud owner of a Kenmore stainless steel bbq grill that cost me 70 dollars.   I love that boy !!

  Okay, the Irishman just pulled in the driveway.  I made a big pot of vegetable beef soup today and just finished a batch of 30 minute yeast rolls. I made them with spelt flour, so I can have them. They turned out pretty good.  We'll be having supper before long....

  Have a royal weekend...



Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Perfect Sunday In Autumn

  Today feels, really and truly, like fall.  I woke up to a 50 degree morning, and that was after sleeping til almost 9 AM.  It's presently (3 PM)  about 65 degrees. And getting down to 43 tonight.  It's been partly cloudy mostly today and breezy. You know I had to open all the windows today.  It got almost cold in here, people !  67 last time I looked and  I had to close the windows. lol  AND put on a sweatshirt (because I'm sure as HELL not turning on the furnace yet).   This is the little basket I gussied up for the table, it has 2 little pie pumpkins in it and fall foliage.  It's a grapevine basket. 

  My sister-in-law came for lunch today, as she was about 15 miles from here at her son's to spend the morning with the grand kids.  The timing was perfect, as I have a loaf of  persimmon bread I made for her, and 6 cups of individually bagged persimmon pulp (each one the amount called for in her momma's persimmon cookie recipe).  And she was a lot closer than me driving from here to where she lives, about 50 minutes away.  So...she came for lunch ! Hooray!

  I love visiting with her and she brought me some goodies...some pumpkin spice scented hand soap from Bath and Body, and almost 2 full bags of Stevia in the Raw (one not opened yet) because they don't care for it.  Woo Hoo !!  It was like Christmas.  lol

  I made a Trouchia (chard and onion omelet, sort of)  and a massaged kale salad  (both fresh from the garden, both amazing healthy foods) and we sliced some of my persimmon bread to have on the side.  It was the perfect lunch. She's one of my biggest food fans (bless her) and we always have a good time together.  Today was no exception.


   Yesterday was another amazing day ...I spent the morning and lunch with a friend and we hit the Saturday buffet at the favorite Indian place, Mr. Curry's.  I got home with a little time to spare, before heading out again for a gathering of women a few miles from here. Himself went to a chili feed  and actually got home after I did...and I didn't get home until almost 11 PM.  LOL   Too late for us old people to be out.  But I had a wonderful time, and was reminded again how much I need the company of women.  We had a great time, I met some women I hadn't known before, and reconnected with a couple I did.  

 So..if you're doing the math here...today is the 2nd day in a row that I have done nothing much but play. It's been AWESOME.

  Things are pretty quiet here now. I'm fixing a cup of tea, gonna curl up with a book (reading the second book of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy--The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson).  It's a nice cuppa tea day...

  Supper will be leftovers, navy bean soup, I'm thinking. Tomorrow morning, first thing, I'll be back hard at it...pickling beets, doing laundry, straightening the house.  But, for today, I am taking a well deserved rest. 

  I hope you are all having a restful Sunday...


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I think I need a break...

  Remember last years pumpkin extravaganza  ?  This year it is wild persimmons.  Here's a sink full of those babies, getting a little bath before they meet their demise...er, I mean TRANSFORMATION.  Last Friday I got some persimmons from my high school friend...she has a neighbor with a tree on their property and they never want them. She said she still has puree in her freezer form the last couple of years and that I could have them if I want them.  Well...of course I want them...so I went up and got a nice box of them and came home and dried a bunch of them and pureed the rest.

  I got so caught up in my new shelves that I forgot to take any pictures of the drying ones..they're very pretty.  I just smashed 'em into flower shapes, seeds and all. Anyhoo...this morning (or was it yesterday?) the phone rang and she said--hey, I got more persimmons for you. So I went up this morning and picked up another basket full.

 After rinsing them, I pulled off the crown (where the stem attaches), and toss them into the cone shaped sieve. I call it a ricer, and I know it has several names.  Then you take the wooden mallet and start smashing that stuff down. It's a little tedious, but there's no other way to do it. Smash smash, stir stir...until it comes out like this:

  It's beautiful stuff...rich and orange, and thick thick thick. The stuff is loaded with pectin. Also loaded with antioxidants and potassium (more than bananas).

This is the finished product. Pretty, huh ?  I wound up with about 18 cups of frozen puree. I made a loaf of persimmon bread, PLUS I filled the dehydrator with pulp to make leather. So,total--at least 20 cups. Free.  

Persimmon leather. Yum.

And a nice loaf of persimmon/raisin/pecan bread. (Yes, that ookey looking thing is a raisin!) lol

Very moist and tasty and not overly sweet. 
Double yum.


But this isn't what I need a break from.  I am thinking of unplugging the computer for a few days, because I am getting really fired up at people about all this madness going on.  Government shutdown. Republican terrorists, holding the middle class hostage once again. And some of the people that I know (and some I am related to) and some that are seemingly intelligent, and lots that are not necessarily so...and I can't stand to read some of the crap people are posting. It's making me angry and upset...and SO not worth it. 

It's feeling like the elections all over again.

I thought if I came here and wrote a while it would calm me down. And now, here I am, bringing it all up again. To myself. aaargghghhhhhhh.


I think maybe bed is my best bet. I am tired and my arms hurt from mashing all that fruit.  And when I am tired,. I have no tolerance for foolishness.

 So, dear ones...I hope that none of you are federal employees caught in this thing.  Or planning a vacation to a national park anytime soon.

  Sweet dreams...