Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Festivities Have Begun!

I hadn't planned to buy eggnog today. I was getting some
half and half to put in mashed potatoes, but there it was. It called to me.
It said, "You know you love me. Please take me home."

Get out the nutmeg again. Grate some into the glass.
Smell it. It's a religious experience.

Some people add rum. Hmm. A splash? Maybe, but nahhh.

Mmmm. Yeahhhh.
And  A Charlie Brown Christmas  just came on.
So I guess the Christmas holiday has begun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mmm, Rosemary Chicken & Baked Apples

     Now that my husband is back home, I have to cook again & I'm buying more groceries. I was watching a cooking show on PBS's Create. Got me wanting a roasted chicken with potatoes.

     I am a fan of brining chicken and turkey. It moistens the meat and helps withdraw the blood. For chicken, I just use salt, but for a Thanksgiving turkey I like to use salt and a combination of bay leaves and other herbs and soak for several hours. There are many brining recipes on the internet.

     After patting the bird dry, I slip my hand under the skin and loosen the connective tissues. Then I mixed butter, olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. I used rosemary and oregano this time, but you can use any kind you like. Take plenty of the paste and spread it under the skin of the legs, breast, etc. Rub some all over the outside too.

     Cut the potatoes in bite size pieces and put on the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. Stir around some olive oil. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. The juices from the chicken will flavor the potatoes. So good!

     Someone made rolls for me the other day. Went great with this. Heh, I ate two while making dinner.

Grean beans went well with this.
 Yes, it was as good as it looks.

      I had some apples hanging around. Since I couldn't use the oven because the chicken was in it, I remembered I had this OLD microwave cookbook.

     I remembered there was a baked apple recipe in it. Haha, turns out it's on the kid recipe page, where kids could use the microwave to cook for themselves. I didn't use the ingredients in the recipe, other than the apples. I just needed the cooking settings/times.
     I cut the cores out of the apples, but left the bottom in tact. I wanted to use more than red hot candies. I mixed together  LOTS of brown sugar, butter, chopped pecans, ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. and stuff it in the the apples. I am not a fan of mega amounts of nutmeg. I like just a hint of the flavor. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Check the apples for tenderness. I needed to microwave for 3 more minutes.
Oooo, here we go.

     Just a little nutmeg side note: Of course you can buy ground nutmeg in spice jars at the grocery store, but I like to grind/grate mine as I use it. Have you seen these nutmeg "kits"? The whole nutmegs come in a jar with a little grater. I've had mine for years, I mean YEARS, and just replace the nutmegs as needed. These kits can be found in cooking stores. I don't think I've seen them sold in grocery stores, but maybe I just haven't paid much attention. (Not an uncommon thing.)

Oooo, Look at that! Which one will I choose?

   Yep. It had to be you. Wonderful You. It HAD to be YOU!

I added a little whipped topping, and whoa! Waaayyy too good. This is a fast and fabulous recipe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You Ask "Where've You Been?" I've Been Under God's Care.

I haven't posted in a long time. Where have I been? It's been the longest, toughest 4 months of my life. Thank God, it's been the shortest 4 months of my husband's life. He doesn't remember much. Our lives took a twist on July 26 when my husband had an ATV accident. I was going to say our lives were changed, but thought that sounded too dramatic. However, it HAS been the most dramatic 4 months of our lives. I kept thinking my head would shrink with all the crying, but it didn't. Where doesn't all that liquid (and snot, haha) come from?

I hope to write our story one day. It's too long to write in this blog. Maybe I should have written it as a blog when it all happened. Didn't think anyone would really care or want to take the time to read it all.

The whole thing can be summed up as, There Are No Coincidences. God was with us each step of the way. I won't kid you, some days were very dark. But the way that the beginning days fell together were no coincidences.  Each bad turn had a purpose and brought lessons of faith that I still don't understand. Even the funny things that happened weren't coincidences. I think those were God's way to lighten the load. Thanks, Bob, for the laughs.

I will be forever grateful to my daughters and my son-in-law. Emily had to see to her dad on this awful day. And, you see, it was also her birthday. She had some really scary things to deal with. Maggie, she was my rock. We were out of state when my husband had his accident. She kept it together while I fell apart. Jim REALLY stepped up to the plate, taking over the running of the farm so the girls and I could spend our time at the hospital. The drought we had this summer had many farmers selling their cattle. The grass in the fields died.  Farmers were running out of hay. Wells and ponds were running dry. Thanks to Jim we didn't have to sell any cattle. He managed the fields so there was fresh grass for the cows to eat and we didn't have to feed our winter hay reserve. He was very protective of me. I can't thank him enough. And then there's my grandson, Huck. He absolutely saved me. The first 2 weeks were the hardest and to have a 6 month old baby to rock and sing to sleep helped to calm my soul.

My family, friends and co-workers provided meals and emergency funds to help pay for gas so I could go to the hospital everyday, which got quite expensive. They visited with me at the hospital and MANY times took me out for lunch or dinner. My friend Kathy was at the hospital so many times I can't count. My sisters came from out of state to be with me and one even went with Maggie to help her with her move to Boston.

I've met A LOT of medical personal. I mean A LOT. David was in 3 facilities, one of them twice. There were only a few times I had to be a big girl and state that things weren't right, but for the most part the medical staff were VERY supportive and thoughtful of me.

My husband has been home since the end of October, which is another miracle from God's hands. We aren't finished with this yet. There will be more twists, turns, bumps and dips, BUT God has brought us through a GIANT mess and there's no reason He will not continue to do so. There's faith again.

So now, hopefully, I can get back to writing what I know best: This and That.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Brown & Turquoise Is Coming Along

     I can't even remember now when I started this quilt, two years ago? Maybe. It was a quilt guild education class project that was started but then put away when something more pressing came along.

     I'm going to have to leave it a square. I keep adding rows, but I just can't leave it uneven, so then I have to add to the sides. Should the light stripe come to a point at the edges or the dark stripe pointing at the edges? Should the dark turquoise squares be around the outside edges? Right now, yes.

     For now I have to stop and put it aside again. I am down to only 4 dark prints left. It's going to get too repetitive (boring) if I don't get some more. I hope JoAnn's still has some of them. I think I saw one on their website. I don't need much. I only have one more to add on one side and two more to add on the opposite side. Then I think I will stop with the piecing and see about a border. It may not need one. What do you think? Just a binding?

     I can see this as a table cloth or a nap size quilt. I really like the colors. I've thought about giving it to my bestest friend (since 5th grade) who lives in California. It would match her living room/dining room. If it will be used for a table cloth, it needs a light batting. I like to use cotton flannel. It gives the quilt a nice light padding. If it's to be used for taking a nap, the flannel will still give warmth in the mild California climate. I like to use flannel that has not been pre-washed. After the quilt is finished, I drop it in the washing machine set on warm wash and put it in the drier. When it comes out the flannel has shrunk a little, giving the quilt top and back a crinkled, aged look.

P.S. Turns out I started this last summer and blogged about it here. Cool, I'm not so far behind after all.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's Somehow So Wrong To Be This Happy

     Is it wrong to be so happy that ants are dying? Somehow I'm so happy right now. Ants have decided that our living room and downstairs bathroom are the hip places to be. Party on?
I think not.

     I know, it's HOT and DRY outside. Everyone is looking for a cool place to be.


     I truly feel bad there is suffering all around. But I say, if you're not helping to pay the rent, GET OUT OR DIE!

     I'm not a cruel person. I just think a person shouldn't have ants running up their leg when they're sitting on the potty. Or tickling their arms when they're relaxing in the recliner. It's very distracting from watching Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit. You'll want to make them the victims. Okay, I've had enough!

     While out on errands today, I bought a little bottle of Terro.

Just a little dab will do ya'.

In the bathroom.

     The bait was gone approximately an hour after putting it on the floor, so I put out some more. Oops, it spilled on the floor! They don't mind.

Look at them belly up to the bar.

Look, they're circling the wagons.

     They ate this so fast I put out another one. That black spot is not a wooly caterpillar. They attacked this in 5 minutes. Poor starving babies! So glad I could feed the masses.
In the living room

     It's crazy; a feeding frenzy. I had to put out a third little square of bait. A much larger puddle of bait. I mean corn syrup, yeah, corn syrup.

     Well, it's been two hours since their last feeding. You know how babies are; gotta be fed every two hours.

     Ah, ah, ah, ah. Stayin' alive, stayin' alive.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Honk! Honk! Rush Hour In The Country

     I was coming home from the store this week. It was late afternoon/early evening. Normal rush hour time, but I was the only one on the road until . . .

     . . . 23 Canadian geese came crossing the road from the field on the left to the pond on the right of those trees.

 I tried to rush them but they were about to take flight. Beautiful wing spread!

     Four to six pairs of the geese come to the neighbor's pond every year to breed and raise their chicks. It's not unusual to see 40 - 50 geese living around the pond during the summer. It's always sad when they leave for the winter, but ALWAYS exciting to see them return in the spring. I wish we had a pond near our house so we could coax some to come live with us.

     As much as I have missed living in the city for the past 23 years, these are the things I would have missed if I hadn't moved to the country.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Progress Report

     Yea! Emily's wedding quilt top is put together, minus a couple of borders. I want one of the borders to be purple to bring out the purple in the blocks, which I love. As usual I've had the material for a long time and won't be able to find the exact one, but I'll find something close. Something purple with white batik-ish leaves. I think a one inch purple border then one or two wider borders of fall fabrics. There's so many different fabrics in this that it won't matter if I can't find anything that exactly matches.

     Now it can join the other 4 quilt tops on the back of the door of my sewing room. My sister, Kathi, calls it a studio. Her studio is really nice. She knows what a studio is. Okay, it's a studio. 

Here are it's new friends. It won't be lonely. New friends will come, too.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank God that you know me and have access to my dementia?

     Recently while watching an episode of Seinfeld, I heard this quote by George: "Do you ever just get down on your knees and thank God that you know me and have access to my dementia?" I couldn't help but think of my husband, David. He has had some crazy inventions or ways of solving problems. Usually the solving just creates more problems. For example:

     One Sunday morning many years ago my husband asked me to get his blue dress shirt for him to wear to church. I looked in the closet. Nope. I looked in the clothes hamped. Nope. I checked the clothes that needed mending. Nope. I looked in the washer, the drier, the dresser, Nope, nope, nope. After looking everwhere I could think of, I told him I couldn't find it. He said, "Did you look in the filing cabinet under "S" ? This has to be the weirdest thing he has ever said to me. But, sure enough there it was. WHO files their shirt? I have never figured out that one.

     When we moved to the farm I wanted to have a clothes line. I had a drier, but you know how nice it is to get in a bed with freshly cleaned sheets that have hung out on the line. And David decided he was going to wear overalls all the time. They take forever to get dry in a drier. I aksed him one day to put up a clothes line for me. He thought for a minute and said, "Barbed wire would make a good clothes line. You won't need to use clothes pins." ARE YOU KIDDING? He was serious. I informed him that his clothes would have rusty holes in them if he used barbed wire. Some of his ideas make me chuckle; he has to be kidding, right?

     When David and I started dating, he had in his apartment a globe on a tall stick/post type stand. He read everything in sight and always wanted to know where the places were that he was reading about. This globe was so top heavy, it was always falling over. When we got married and bought our first house, he cut the stand in half and screwed it to the ceiling of our den. I came home from work that day and there it was, hanging like it was in outter space.

     When we moved to our next house, the globe came with us. If I remember correctly, it stayed in the closet of our office bedroom. Maybe he couldn't figure out where he could hang it in a rented house.

     When we moved to the farm, it followed us once again all the way to Missouri. This time any remnant of the stand was gone. It was now screwed to the handle of David's filing cabinet, where it remains to this day. The ever evolving revolving planet Earth.

From David's apartment to 214th Str, to Ladeene Avenue, to MO farmhouse.

     One time David had a broken bone in his foot and was put in one of those air filled walking boots. We were no longer milking cows, but we did have beef cattle and a few pigs and there were still plenty of chores. He HAD to be up and around. He thought if he could invent a crutch that could be strapped to his leg with a seat on the top, he could keep his weight off his foot and still get around to do outside chores. So he cut a crutch in half and screwed on some straps which could be buckled around his leg. We still had Emily's old pink bike in the workshop. David removed the pink banana seat and attached it to the top of the crutch. The Butt Crutch was born!

The maiden voyage

So far, so good.

Okay, that's gotta hurt!

     We had a lot of apples one fall. We don't spray our trees so the bugs really get to the fruit and most of the apples aren't fit to eat in hand. David hated the thought of wasting all those apples and tried to figure out a way to make a cider press. He took 2 five gallon buckets, one with holes drilled in it, and one without the holes. He thought and thought about what he could use to create pressure to crush the apples. "Ah Ha! The tire jack used on the tractor. A piece of chain and a block of wood and ... What else can I use to wedge the jack in to crank up the pressure? I know! The door jam between the kitchen and the dining room!" He was so pleased with himself. I was NOT happy!!! Especially one day when I came home and noticed a crack from the corner of the doorway to the ceiling. THAT made steam blast out of my ears. WHAT???? Maggie happened to be in the room and noticed the horror on my face. She said, "Yeah, I know. Dad said not to tell you." He told her the width of the crack told him when he had enough pressure. I've tried to find a picture of the "cider press" in action, but I can't find any. I can't believe I let this go by without taking any pictures. If they turn up I'll post some.

As you can see the crack is still there.
     Emily said she would help me take off the wallpaper and paint the kitchen this summer. I suppose I ought to finally repair it. It's almost a shame. I think it would be a good reminder to keep him from "inventing."

     Last summer there was the mulching of the garden experiment. You'll never guess, so I'll tell you: Mulching with carpet. Yes, carpet. Pulled out of a duplex and a church.  Synthetic carpet used as mulch. We're talking about a lot of carpet. We carpeted about 2/3 of our garden, which is about 15 fifty foot rows. Not a good plan as it turned out. We got a dozen tomatoes the whole summer. Maggie has blogged about it here and here. It's just too much for me to relive. It will be a booger to remove. Then what do you do with it? I'm sure when that happens it will be on the 6 o'clock news. Stay tuned.

This doesn't seem so bad, but carpet doesn't make
a good mulch. It became a solid mass of overgrown
mess, not to mention a haven for snake breeding, I'm sure.

     I predict more dementia, uh, inventions in the future, but these have been some of the biggies in our 32 1/2 years together. Not always fun, but never dull. I'm sure there will be a sequal.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carry On!

     Yesterday I got back to work on a quilt project that was started 4 1/2 years ago: Emily's wedding quilt. They were married in October 2007 on the most colorful Fall afternoon. The quilt was a good idea that went horribly wrong.

     I chose many different cotton prints in fall prints and colors sewn in 4 patch designs, separated by 4" ivory blocks. To prepare the ivory blocks, I ironed them to freezer paper to help stabilize the fabric making signing easier for the wedding guests. A blue disappearing ink pen was used to put a 1/4" frame around the block so the signatures wouldn't be lost in the seam allowances. I chose red, green, orange, and brown permanent pen/markers for the guests to sign the blocks.

     Each signature block was sewn to a 4 patch block. Rumor has it that blue ink becomes permanent when ironed, so before pressing them, I put all the blocks in a fine net zippered bag and put them in the washing machine so the blue ink would rinse away. When I took them out out of the washer I couldn't believe the mess the markers had left! The markers said "permanent". Doesn't that mean permanent?  The signatures bled all over the place.


In the pictures above, the signatures have already been written over with the
fine fabric pens. Looks a little better.

     The markers even bled on the 4 patches. It didn't help that some of the red fabrics bled too. I was heart sick! **

      My quilt guild ladies suggested to use one of those color catcher sheets in the washing machine. I tried it but it didn't completely remove the damage. I just had to put the project aside.   

     I eventually found the correct pens and Maggie helped me write over the original signatures. Looked pretty good. The original signatures made a nice halo around the new ones. Sarcasm! This really was not a good look, but I had invested time and energy and a little $$ into the project and still wanted something to help Emily & Jim remember their wedding day. I'm not sure this was it, but I am carrying on anyway, 4 1/2 years later.


     So yesterday was the day to get it out and watch it become something resembling lovely. I spread the signature blocks out on the bed. I moved them here and there and added in some blank blocks. Rearranging and pinning several times, I finally had something I liked, except . . .

     . . . I am short 3 blank ivory blocks. And there is NO more. Not a scrap, not a thread. I don't remember where I bought this fabric - maybe WalMart? It's kind of a nothing fabric so if I don't find it, 3 different blocks on the lower side corner will not be noticed. If you've seen this fabric, let me know; ivory with white printed outlines.  I have the blocks sewn into strips and will be getting the strips together to form the quilt top. Hopefully it won't take another 4 1/2 years.

       Well, I've spent another day on the computer and haven't accomplished much except to whine and point out the flaws.  Speaking of whine . . . Wine? 


 **Heart sick like the bridesmaid dress I was pressing late one night. I burned the bodice back piece!!! The fabric melted and burned a nice little iron plate shape. Too late in the night to scream with all the family sleeping. I just went in the bedroom and flopped on the edge of our waterbed, making waves for poor David. Surf's up!  I wanted to run outside and scream in the street, but didn't want to be arrested. The next day I had to removed the neck facing, zipper, waist and side seams. I got enough material to recut and put it all back together. Gee!! That was 25 years ago and I'm still not over it. Do you supposed I need a life?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good To Know I'm Not (Yet) An Old Dog

I learned a new trick this summer.

I have been growing my own herbs for years: basil, rosemary, Italian parsley, oregano, fennel, lavender, sage.

  This is the right side of our porch.  Left to right: oregano, sweet basil, opal basil, rosemary (2). Behind the oregano is a scraggly bronze fennel. The oregano and fennel were transplanted this spring from the old overgrown herb garden.
This is the left side of our porch. There's sage in there somewhere and a rogue plant from the melon family. The rest is junk. I've got some stray sunflowers I may transplant.

I especially love basil and rosemary. I live in zone 6 so some of my herbs won't live through winter. I've had no luck bringing them inside. This past winter was very mild so I thought I'd try putting buckets over my two rosemary plants. They continued to grow, slightly, but were very robust by the time the danger of frost was past. I bought 3 more plants so I could share the harvest with my daughters.                                                                                                                                                                   

I was in a pasta making mood a couple of weeks ago so I went out to harvest some herbs. When I'm cooking I pick the herbs and put them in a glass of water to keep them fresh until I'm ready to use them. I didn't use all the rosemary so some was left in the glass. In just a couple of days it started rooting! I've had basil do that, but hadn't seen rosemary do that before. Well, now I'm pretty excited. I love this new trick. I can make more plants. Better yet, I can try to keep some rooting all winter and have plants to put outside next spring. Line up little jars of water in the window sill. That's the new plan, anyway.

Here's another new trick I learned: Rosemary Cornbread. I was in a hurry to get some cornbread in the oven so I used a mix. My daughter suggested adding some rosemary needles/leaves to the batter. Oh My! It was SO good. Add a little butter... When I came to, this is what I found:

I'm not sure where it went.