Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can I get an AMEN ??

 Oh that a chicken butt photo bomb ?  

  I was sitting here this morning, thinking about  things.  You know...THINGS.  Things like the water shortages in California. Things like the Ebola virus in Africa.  Things like ALS,  and cancer research and my beautiful sister-in-law's MRI yesterday.  Things like how I have way too many books in this room and that I'm finally getting around to reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (and how much I love saying his name).  lol  Don't they have medications for people like me ?  (And how I just typo-d MEDIVACATIONS...and thinking--wouldn't that be a great concept?  A time away where they medicate you and you just lay around in a vegetative state...and REST.)  

  I'm sure that my poor pea brain is whirling like this because I've been running  full speed. This time of year in the garden is  feast or famine, and in our case, in this's feast.  So much stuff still coming out or ready to come out, or should be out.  House overheated from running canners and dehydrators.  Counters all full of jars cooling or waiting to be labeled or just waiting to be put away.  Empty jars, full jars, clean jars, dirty jars. I've said it before and I'll say it again--because it makes me feel better-- from about mid June til the end of October my house is a mess.  It's just a fact of life.  I used to love watching Little House on the Prairie, and marvel at how Mrs. Ingalls  did all the works she did and still kept the house spotless.  My house is not spotless.  I need a maid. Or a wife. Or both. lol

 As you've probably guessed by the fact that I'm posting on the blog again and it hasn't been a week or more...there's a bit of a lull right now.  There  are 2 canner batches sitting on the island right of  marinara and one of candied jalapenos.  There is NOT a small tub of jalapenos or a basket of tomatoes sitting in the house right now.  YAY !

There are tomatoes on the vine that might be ready for picking, and probably some more green peppers too. I pretty much stripped the jalapenos trying to get enough to make this batch of  Cowboy Candy.  The potato vines have all died back. The sweet potatoes are still looking pretty good out there.  The carrots are thriving this year and we've been picking them randomly, not time for an actual harvest yet.  There are still green beans coming--we didn't have to plant a second crop this year thanks to the bizarre cooling off we had in July and much of August.  Then the heat came back with a vengeance and everything thinks that it's all systems go.  The basil and the parsley and chives are all going like gangbusters. The oregano didn't make it and the thyme is hanging on by a thread. 

  And this is just the way of it. I need to make bread.  I need to go to the market. I need to straighten up and vacuum at least. I have got to get into that spare room and reorganize it and clean,  but the job seems daunting and I am hesitant to even start.  Rooms that have doors that close to hide all the clutter have been being closed while I try to just manage the main living areas.  Is that cheating ?  lol

  Why do I think I am hopeless ?  Why do I look around and chastise myself for being such a lousy housekeeper ?  I would give ANYONE else a much wider berth than I give myself.  Sigh...

  Look at what I HAVE accomplished--

 Not to mention the dried tomatoes,  okra,  bell peppers,  apples, peaches, onions, mushrooms, pineapple ??  And the fewer all the time things in the freezer, but still it's full.  I  look at all this bounty...all these stores of goods that will feed my family through the coming year... and I think  "What's the harm in a little clutter or a few dustbunnies ? "   I am making a list of dry goods that I need to purchase, things like oats and flour and nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts).  More canned protein, like tuna and salmon.  All these things that keep my pantry stocked with a variety of foodstuff that I can make interesting and tasty and nourishing meals with.  When I have a little extra money, I buy at least one thing in bulk that is either hard to find or a necessity.  For instance, I have an insurance settlement check coming (small, but nonetheless...) and when it comes, I am ordering another 25 pound box of organic quinoa.  Quinoa is expensive, but it's a complete protein that also contains all the minerals and amino acids that the body needs. It's versatile.  When I buy it at that size, I get a really decent price on it. So, in the long run, my philosophy is that yes, I could live without it, it's a bit of a luxury. But if I can get the price down to a reasonable number and I happen to have the money...why not ?  I will do the same thing with oats, which are NOT expensive, but are one of the most useful things you can have in your pantry.  And now I see that the local market has the 10# bags of leg and thigh quarters again, for 59 cents a pound.  And it's everything I can do to not go out and get a couple. Can more chicken and more broth.  How much did I do last time ?  I think I wound up with a grand total of something like 25 jars , some plain broth, some all chicken, some a   mixture of the two. Is that enough ? Do I dare pass up this source of  inexpensive healthy protein ?  Am I turning into a food hoarder ?  Or am I just being prudent. Frugal.  Planning for things.  I just read a line in The Alchemist that said..."We must be prepared for change..."  Am I prepared ?  Probably not prepared enough.  But at least I'm thinking about these things. First aid, medications, pet foods, people foods, matches,  water... most of these I have covered. 

  Too much deep thought for one day.  I think I'll mosey out to La Vista and see what's shaking out that way. A day off...that spare room can wait...


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday again...where's the time going ?

Oh yeah, that's right.  It's harvest

  The weather has taken a turn to normal again. The temps have been in the low to mid nineties with heat indexes anywhere from 101 to 110.  You can barely breathe out there.  Naturally the AC went out again. This time I called a different repairman...turned out it was the capacitor. He said  they just make lousy parts these days and there's no way to predict. So...I had just had my regular guys out twice (for nearly the same issue) in 3 weeks...and was a little pissy about it breaking down again.  lol  This particular problem had nothing to do with anything.  But at least now I have a back-up HVAC guy. (looking on the bright side). They have recently extended the heat advisory through Tuesday.

 All the heat and sunshine have set the tomatoes into a growing and ripening frenzy.  So I guess marinara and tomato soup may be on the upcoming canning horizon.  I've been drying tomatoes and bell peppers like crazy...something like 10 quart bags of dried tomatoes alone. I dried some apple slices too, apples from a local orchard that we weren't eating fast enough, so--into the dehydrator they go. 2 quarts of those.  I think my edamame are ready to be harvested...I'll check those tomorrow, as well as the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Might be able to harvest some red potatoes, but the Kennebecs will stay in the ground. The carrots are looking pretty good, as are the squash. Only butternuts planted this year. I didn't have the energy or space to mess with zucchini...they are too easy to find and receive from other people.  

  All this heat is making me wish for some rain... (wasn't it just a week or 2 ago I was complaining about too much rain?)   LOL   So fickle this time of year.  I'm still hoping for some more okra, and the farmer at our local CSA said I could come there and get some. Nobody wants it, as they don't know what top do with it. And so, of course, they have a bumper crop this year.  Isn't that how it goes ?  lol  Looking through my pantry, the only other thing I need is beets, and it's still a bit early for those.  I might make and can some vegetable soups, just a dozen jars or so, along with the tomato soup.  Just for convenience sake.

  This afternoon the Irishman and I attended a workshop out at our beloved La Vista on an Herbal Medicine Cabinet. We had an herb gathering walk and then retired (as quickly as we could, since today's heat index was 110) to the air conditioned rec room where we were taught about herbal infusions, tinctures, herbal tea blends and first aid salves.  It was awesome--informative and fun, and the farmers from the CSA led the class.  I learned so much !  It was really great, identifying some wild herbs that I didn't know and learning about the medicinal properties. It was a really nice group of people attending and the discussions were lively and the whole thing just wonderful.  So glad I went..even though my inclination was to stay home in my cool house.  lol

  We're ready to rename our old grey cat Lazarus, as he has seemingly returned from the dead.  He has appeared to be dying all week. Comatose. We have been loving him  through the final days. Today he sat up started yowling at us and has been trying to walk. 2 days ago this cat had seemingly lost all his muscle tone and could barely lift his head. I have been giving him  dropperfuls of pedialyte and water, and tonight he walked to the dog water bowl and drank !!!!!  He tried to eat a little wet cat food.  I gave him some chicken broth with the syringe and he not only swallowed for the first time in days, but practically gulped it down. He looks terrible, has lost so much weight...but he has rallied.  Guess he's not ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge just yet after all.

  My doc officially diagnosed me with Coronary Artery Disease.  She changed the beta blocker I was on because it was messing with me bad.  She gave me a different one which seems to be working well. She also gave me a big dog anti-inflammatory for my knee, and prescribed 4 Extra Strength Tylenol a day and a scrip for a non narcotic pain med to take as needed. She told me absolutely NO ibuprofen or naproxen.  The anti inflammatories are working so well I can't believe it. I went from crying every time I took a step or turned over in bed (from the excruciating pain) walking on an herb walk today.  Hallelujah. 

 There you go...that's what's going on over here at Honeysuckle Hill.  We got another new baby in the family last Monday too.  Ryker James. A feisty big boy who is already winning the hearts of everyone he meets.  That big old wheel of life just keeps on turning.  Feeling pretty blessed to be here to see it.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

A rainy Sunday...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Happy Sunday, kids.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nature's Bounty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, August 4, 2014

Let the games begin...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

  Happy Harvest, all y'all...


Friday, August 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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