Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How The Job Went (Temporary Post)

I wanted to post this now, because it's going to be a couple of days, at least, before we can get everything back together and pictures taken and I know some of you will be wondering....

The way things went down on installation was really, kind of Weird and maybe a little Wonderful, at least from the standpoint of a job well done, though I really don't want to call it that, because I wish no harm to anyone just for the sake of a countertop, know what I mean?
The man who appeared at our door to do the installation on Tuesday was a different man. There was no crew. Just him. He was not a young man, either, but he turned out to be almost 15 years younger than the first man, though he was sporting gray hair, too. It's hard to gauge age in some older folks. But the man that I had reservations about was actually in his late 70's and the man who arrived at our door on Tuesday was in his mid-60's.
I was a little concerned at first because I was expecting a crew. He went about his work without much conversation, we asked if he needed help carrying things in and out, and he said, “Only if I yell...”. He went in and out, in and out, having set up his saw under the carport in the driveway. I had made cinnamon rolls and offered some to him a couple of times, which he politely declined but thanked me. He was with us from 9am to about 5pm and he did not ask where the bathroom was, never wandered off the path between the kitchen and the front door. He must've eaten his lunch where we didn't see or skipped it entirely. I offered to fix him a sandwich and he said, “I have food” and left it at that. If he pee'd in the bushes, we never saw that, so all I can think is maybe he had some kind of “facilities” in his van. Some of these construction-type guys do that. But most of them trek back and forth to the customer's bathroom, where they track their construction mess through the house, and once inside the bathroom, splatter on the floor and the wall, and, I have to admit, it does feel a bit uncomfortable to me, having someone I do not know going into a space that has a door that can be closed and locked. Some people snoop when they are in a strange bathroom. A few people look for things they can put in their pockets. You just never know what people will do these days.

Hubs wanted to sit at the coffee bar and stare at him while he worked, but I discouraged him from that because, well, would YOU want YOUR every move to be watched while you work? I wouldn't. So both of us went about our day as best people can, with their kitchen off-limits to them and with a stranger in the house, and left him alone to do his work. You never really think about how much time you spend in your kitchen till you can't.

The countertop had the miter-cuts already made. And that was what I was given to expect, and part of what concerned me, because no house, and this house in particular, is exactly square. I thought, “What if, when the countertop pieces are joined at the miter-cuts, the extended ends don't fit close enough to the wall? I did not want there to be a big gap there that might have to be filled. I knew something like that would talk to me every time I was in the kitchen, and not very politely, either. This kitchen is a galley-style kitchen, 3-sided, with all three sides against a wall. And the ends butt up against built-in's.

We tried to watch the job without being intrusive. Well, I had to help Hubs do that several times, as he isn't very good at it. So sometimes while the installer was outside sawing, we'd slip into the kitchen and Look At Stuff. It got kind of funny a few times, when we were almost caught. All that sawing he did made it very obvious that the countertops were made to be several inches deeper from back wall to the front edges, than they would need to be, thus allowing the back edge to be trimmed for differences in the “square” or lack of it, in the walls against which it needs to fit. This is hard for me to explain so that it makes sense. There were a lot of “thumping” noises so he may have had to push the countertop into the wall in some areas, not sure. If measurements aren't precise, one bad cut means the entire installation is bad, and there were multiple opportunities for a bad cut. Not only did he have to fit it precisely in the space allowed. He also had to cut a hole into which the new sink would fit, and one for the cooktop, too.

He never announced to us that he was finished, we just noticed him carrying out his tools, so I went into the kitchen then, with Hubs at my heels, and I asked, “Are you finished?” with my best smile. He replied, “Don't rush me, you'll make me forget something...” This is one of those things that could be misunderstood as something kind of off-putting, but I saw a small glimmer of a smile and I realized that here is a man of few words. When words are measured out, they can come out kind of short. I know this because I have lived with Hubs for 50 years, and I have, in the past, accused him of measuring words out as if the saying of them is painful or something, to the point where now he seems to talk “in code”. Almost every time I ask him a question, he answers a question I have not asked, often just telling me something that's so obvious that I already know it. So then we have to “play Twenty Questions”, just so I can get an answer to the question I originally asked. *Sigh*.

But anyway, I looked the job over and told the man that he had done A Wonderful Thing, and that I, a woman who is sometimes not easily made happy, was. And then he warmed up a little, and we had somewhat of a conversation, where he said more words than he had said during the whole day.

It turned out that he and the man who had come to measure were maybe partners – or maybe one of them worked for the other – he didn't make that clear and I didn't feel comfortable, under the circumstances, about asking too many questions. He did say that the other man had been having some little mini-strokes and there had been some problems with some past jobs, and that this man had called him and asked him if he'd do this job, last-minute, saying that he thought he'd just had another mini-stroke. And that is what I mean. I'm not grateful that the reason why we got a good installation was because the man had an event. I'm grateful, though, for the timing of it. And I've added this man to the people that I pray for. Our installer also said that he, himself, had some concerns about whether he personally would be able to do a good job for us when he saw how tightly things would have to fit. He said that the fact that the ends were enclosed against the built-in's was not mentioned in the notes that the first man had made when he came to measure before the material was ordered.

So, thank you's go out to those who prayed for me and my kitchen. And praise be to God. I will do a post, with pictures, after we've been able to get it back together. Maybe I will move this information into that post and then delete this one, at that time, just so everything will be together in one post. Hubs has the sink to put in, and I might take this opportunity to put another coat of paint on the drawer fronts and cabinet doors, as we took many of my old glass handles off so that there wouldn't be any danger of getting one broken.

Hugs xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Catch Up Time, Installment 2

Well, it's getting close to garden planning time and so I have started accumulating seed catalogs and seeds.

From Baker Creek, I've added
  • Angel Wings (China Rose) - An open-pollinated rose.  HERE is more information.
  • Beet (Crosby's Egyptian) - I've grown this good beet before, it's an old heirloom, doesn't have that "dirt" taste many beets do.  Nice red color, round shape.
  • Calendula (Resina) - This is supposed to make flowers that are more potent than your regular Calendula, which is good for the skin, used topically.
  • Loofa (Bonanza 141) - I've grown loofah before, and, yeah, I made some loofah sponges but wasn't real impressed.  HOWEVER, I found out the immature fruits are what my mother used to grow, and we ate them, sliced, in stir-fries and soups.  They taste like squash, when young, and make cute little star shapes when sliced.  Kids are kind of intrigued with that.  Here, kid, eat a tree (broccoli); OR a star!  Kids love pretending to be a Giant.
  • Moldavian Balm (Dragonhead) - medicinal for tea.  "Lightens a discouraged heart".  Don't we all need that.
  • Mugwort - Artemesia - medicinal antibacterial, antifungal.  Tall, interesting plant, nice for dried wreaths and arrangements..
  • Okra (Fife Creek Cowhorn) - To replace my cowhorn okra that just didn't do well this year.  The pods got fibrous much sooner than they usually do.  Not sure what happened. 
  • Petunia (Coral Salmon)
  • Petunia (Rose of Heaven) - I'm told if petunias are planted with squash, they will deter squash bug.  Might be too good to be true, but going to give it a shot. 
  • Siberian Wallflower - Highly scented bee magnet.
  • Sorghum (India Red Popping) - Also called broomcorn.  I've grown Rox Orange the last two or three years.  The seed is really too small to pop, they just burn.  Birds love the seed, though, and so it self-seeds and you never have to plant it again after the first year.  After the seeds are combed off, or picked off by the birds, you can bundle the brushy ends of the stalks together and trim them off even to make a broom, if you want.  There are several You-Tubes that will show you how it's done.  Just one makes a cute little whisk broom. 
  • Sorghum (Tarahumara Popping)
  • Squash (Jumbo Pink Banana) - been trying to grow this one for years.  They say it can be eaten like yellow summer squash when the fruits are young and will turn pink and store well like a winter squash if left to mature.  Unfortunately, squash bugs love it so I've never been able to grow this.  Trying, one more time.
  • Toothache Plant - Interesting little border plant.  Makes your mouth numb for a little while if you chew a leaf.  Also called eyeball plant because the "flowers" look like eyes.
  • Wormwood - Another Artemesia.  This is an ingredient in my homemade Absorbine, Jr.  It was growing under the Hackberry trees, near the North Fourth when we moved in here but I didn't see it this year.  Antifungal, antibacterial.  I also have another Artemesia, Sweet Annie, that grows in my garden.  Weird about this one.  I grew it at The Ponca House in 2008, but I didn't save seed.  We left there in 2010, and then, about in 2014, I kind of wished I had some growing here, as I just love the scent.  Not long after, I was digging around in the garden and there was that familiar smell.  Yup.  They it was!  Since then, some have come up every year, but this year, I moved them to the fenceline simply because they take up a lot of space in the garden and some plants just don't like them very well.  We brought the contents of our raised beds out here from The Ponca House.  We worked so hard "making" that soil, I was definitely not leaving THAT behind.  Plus, you never know what a buyer's going to want.  Some would welcome beds full of garden dirt in their back yard and some would put the removal of them down as a condition of the sale.  Even if we hadn't needed good garden soil out here, we didn't want to have a last-minute scramble.  So, some would say it came up in 2014, four years later, because the seed was in the soil.  But I prefer to think it a God thing.  And thank you, God....

From Terroir Seeds (Underwood Gardens), I've just received
  • Amaranth (Joseph's Coat) - I've tried to grow this before and didn't have much luck.
  • Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding) - I had only a little bit of seed last spring, which I wintersowed.  It came up and made one red "flower", but never got very tall and didn't make any seed.
  • Basil (Magical Michael) - I had this before and liked it because it was a nice compact plant and made small leaves that air-dried very quickly and seemed to keep their flavor for use during the winter. 
  • Bean (Lazy Wife / Housewife) - I think I lamented earlier that I've been unable to find these where I normally buy seed.  It turns out there's been some kind of mix up in that there are Lazy Housewife beans and there are Lazy Wife beans and they have been thought the same thing but are not.  Apparently the Lazy Housewife have more roundish beans and Lazy Wife beans are kidney-shaped.  These were advertised as Lazy Housewife but the picture provided showed the beans to be kidney-shaped.  And that's what the beans in the packets were.  That was one of the first things I did when I got the package last week.  I'm happy, because the variety that I had and preferred was the one with kidney-shaped beans.  What I had saved came up spotty or not at all last spring, and must've gotten crossed with something else as the bean pods were short and twisted.  I was not a happy camper.  At all.  I have not had a good bean crop in about three years now.
  • Bean, Scarlet Emperor - I've grown Red Emperor and Painted Lady runner beans before, but they have both had wide, short, fuzzy, kind of meaty, strong-tasting beanpods that I really don't like very well.  This variety is supposed to be very prolific at making long, more slender beans.  There is another variety of runner bean that's called White Emergo, and the beans, instead of being black and pink, are white and look like cannellini beans.  The beans are said to be very tasty.  Maybe one of these days I'll try that one.  But I won't try both in the same year because of cross-pollinating concerns.  I'll grow these on the trellis over the cellar, I hope they won't cross with the Lazy Wife beans out in the garden.  
  • Fireweed - Bee magnet.  Early shoots can be eaten fresh or lightly cooked.  Early leaves can be eaten like spinach.  Older leaves can be used for tea, and have a citrus-like scent.  Flowers are pretty.  Some parts of the plant are medicinal.  More info HERE
  • Hollyhock (Indian Spring Mix) - I've really admired this variety for awhile now.  I have the old fashioned kind.  These are also singles, like what I have, but the colors are a little different and they have yellow centers. 
  • Hyssop (Rootbeer) - I think this is often referred to as Hummingbird Hyssop, if so, I've had it before and is was a butterfly magnet.
  • Mint (Virginia Mountain) - A medicinal, camphor-like mint.  I might use it in my homemade Absorbine Jr. instead of Orange Mint.  The American mountain folk used it medicinally, much like Vicks Vapo-Rub, and as a tea for sore throat and coughs.
  • Onion, Nodding - This was growing in the flowerbed at the library and I thought it was interesting-looking.  I collected seed from one but nothing came of it.
  • Onion, Sweet Candy bulbs, 1/2# - supposed to be an improvement over the hybrid Candy onion, a little longer storage, and open pollinated, so hopefully they'll make seed that I can keep going in future years.  The hybrid Candy will make flower heads if they're left in the ground for another spring, but there are no seeds.  Since there is one bulb in the package that's a lot larger than the others (and I would've rather had the 4 or so little bulbs this big one took the place of, but, oh, well.  It will most likely bolt to seed right away next spring, being the size it is, and that might serve my purposes just fine. 
  • Roselle - Yeah, Fiona, you got me in the mood to grow this again.  Needs a long growing season.  Sometimes our first fall frost comes too soon for it to make bracts, though. 
  • Sunflower (Van Gogh Mix) - I love me some sunflowers.  Our goldfinches do, too.  I love to hear the goldfinches talking to each other: "sweeeeeet?  sweeeeeet?"  We have a lot of birds here that we didn't have when we moved in.  We saw Orioles for the first time this summer.  We put up Bluebird houses and they came and had two families in one.  One of the House Wrens had two families in one of the others.  Barn Swallows, Scissortails, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Robins, Grackles, Crows, Hawks, occasionally an Eagle, Buzzards, have always been around.  Even though Hubs is not very good at managing the Martin house, we still have a few that come.  Of course several different kinds of sparrows have sometimes been the bane of my existence.  They made themselves quite at home with the chickens and ate their feed, when I had chickens.  We have to close off every nook and cranny, up close to the house, or they're building a nest in it.  I can't have a wreath on the outside of the door or I get baby House Sparrows, who, while really cute, will poop all over everything before they're able to leave the nest.  There was one spending the night perched under the patio cover for awhile, which would never fail to startle me, flying almost right in front of my face, when I'd first step out on the patio in the mornings.  But, moving on, now.
  • Thyme (Orange Scented) - I've grown "Orange Mint", and it does not smell or taste like orange.  Kind of hoping this will.
You can't be a gardener without discovering how many varieties there are of just about everything that grows.  When I was younger and just buying food at the grocery store, with only certain things bought at the You-Pick farm, I had so little knowledge of this.  Tomatoes and peppers were just.....  tomatoes and peppers.  Now I find myself wanting to grow so many varieties that I have to be careful about cross-pollination, or buy new seed every year.  There's danger in not gathering seed from the things you love to grow in your garden.  Sometimes things happen, and seed for certain varieties of vegetables can no longer be bought.  It has been said that tomatoes, being self-pollinating, will not cross with each other and that is just not true.  It has been my experience that, while insects that pollinate prefer certain other flowers, there are insects that are drawn to the color yellow.  If they've been dislodged from a flower due to wind, etc., they may crawl into another, carrying with them a certain amount of pollen from the flower they were in first.  So, if you have a favorite tomato, and you want to save seed, your chances of getting seed that will be true to the cultivar are better if you have some distance between your tomato varieties.  Some even fasten a little bag over some of the flowers on plants from which they want to save seed, which means, with other plants, you must hand-pollinate them first.  And you can do this with tomato flowers too, but it's not absolutely necessary.  The wind will do it for you.  If there is no wind, just jiggle the plant every now and then, or the cage that it's in.

I don't think I posted the sweet potato harvest in October.  It wasn't a whole lot, but enough for the winter, since Hubs doesn't like sweet potatoes. 

The dang grub worms took as much as they could before they were dug up.  We don't have chickens to feed them to, and now the birds aren't taking them because their digestive systems have changed, with the season, to seeds rather than to bugs and worms.  I thought about taking some out to the field where the geese land, but by the time they fly in, the grub worms will have dug themselves in.  Come to think of it, I haven't seen them there in the last few days.  Maybe they have gone south.

Fortunately, we have some neighbors on the county road east of us, that still have chickens.  So, last time I had a bunch of grub worms collected, Hubs took them over there and asked if they'd like to have them for their chickens.  Hubs said they have some little pullets now, and when they put some of the smaller grubs in front of them they just didn't know what to think.  They looooooked at the grub worms, and then they looked up as if to say, "What you talkin' 'bout?"  Heh.  But the bigger hens, well, the chase was on, with much excited squawking and wing flapping, as it always was with our chickens when we had them.  They were so fun to watch.  We don't think of chickens having actual personalities, but they do.  Some of them are butt-heads, and are mean to the others, but some are really delightful. 

From mid-May through part of June, you can't be on the patio with the patio light on, early in the morning, without being dive-bombed by Junebugs.  They, and Japanese beetles, are what these grub worms turn into.  Usually I'm out there picking up the Junebugs and dropping them into an empty milk jug.  Chickens love these, too.  Or you and just make a fire in the burn barrel and drop them into the fire.  They kind of "go to waste" that way, but it's still better than letting them dig themselves back into the soil and deposit about a thousand larvae.  Some people eat June bugs after they've cooked them in hot coals, but I'm going to have to get a lot hungrier than I ever am to do that.  They say they turn kind of "molasses-ey".  Ewwww.  Last year, we took them to Jo-Alyn Lowe park, which has a big pond and there are always lots of geese there.  People take bread out there to the park to feed to the geese, and they will come right up to you.  We created pandemonium, shaking out our grub worms onto the ground in front of those geese. 

I still had some sweet potatoes in the pantry from last year, but they were really too old and fibrous to be good to eat.

So they were cut up, and went into the compost bucket. 

The ends with sprouts became "starts" for next spring.

No, I don't usually start these this early, but I think they'll be ok.  When I was a kid growing up, my mother would always buy an extra sweet potato at Thanksgiving time, and she'd put it in water in an old crockery bean pot, and then would put that on top of the refrigerator.  By spring the potato itself would be pretty much rotted but there would be miles and miles of potato vine.  I don't think she ever thought to put the vines out in the garden, she just liked to have something green and growing in the house through the dismal winter.  For as many years as my mother gardened, there was so much about which she was unaware.  She didn't usually gather seed.  She thought hybrids were The Best, and was always so proud of her Better Boy and Early Girl tomatoes.  So when the seed catalogs would come in late winter, she'd study each one, and make out lonnnnng orders, mostly for the same things that she grew the year before, with maybe a few things "to try", and almost always, a new Iris variety or two. 

I thought Mom had more different kinds of iris than anyone around, until I walked around the house of my friends, Hazel and Dorothy, who lived on a county road north of Copan.  Hazel and Dorothy would take excursions in the summer, and one of the places they went to every spring was an iris farm, somewhere in Kansas, I think, and with each visit they'd each buy a variety they didn't have already.  I didn't get any of Mom's iris, but Hazel and Dorothy shared with me, so I have those to remind me of them.  And I have some real beauties from Glenda, and some I bought at garage sales and local plant sales.  Every spring when the iris bloom, it's like a visit from friends. 

I grew "fall potatoes" this year, and it was an interesting experiment.  All that I did was just to tuck the small potatoes back into the soil where they have grown.  I've had potatoes actually grow from the compost that I bury in the garden.  And I've had some potatoes show up in the spring that wintered over.  But this is kind of rare for this area. 

There were several potatoes that were about the size of a tennis ball, but most of them had been riddled by the grub worms.  So I scrubbed those till they were clean, cut out the bad spots and blanched them in boiling water.  Then I peeled and diced them.  They have been in the freezer waiting for some morning when we want to have eggs, sausage and hash browns with onion and sweet peppers, and that turned out to be Sunday morning. 

 We like our sausage well-done but they look burned in this picture.  My camera is getting old and has not been "state of the art" for 20 years.  I was sure excited when it was first introduced.  No more sending off film to be developed.  What a pain that was.  No more buying flashbulbs, either.  Although printing them can get expensive because of the ink and paper required, it is really nice to take a lot more pictures of something and delete the ones that don't turn out.  Professional photographers have always done that, but they did their own developing and could tell, in the darkroom, which ones were worthy of keeping.  The rest of us didn't find out we had crappy pictures till we paid for them to be processed.  It sure was a disappointment to open the package and find that out.  There are many people who have never known anything but digital pictures.  I often say that "The World As I Knew It" has already ended.  Technology has exploded.  When I was born, there was no such thing as television.  People were just starting to get telephones and inside bathrooms.

But I digress. 

So this is what I mean about not wasting things.  Some people would have looked at those holey potatoes and just thrown them away.  There are probably four healthy servings of potatoes there.  Dr. Oz says the foods that are good for inflammation in the body are good fats and potatoes, preferably potatoes that have some color to them, like Yukon Golds and the blue potatoes.  I like the Golds and they make pretty mashed potatoes.  But I've never had the blue.  Might get some blue seed potatoes next spring to add to my repertoire.  Oh, and guess what?  Lard is considered a good fat now.

I think I'll bring in that bucket of sand I have in the shed and spread some in the bottom of a big pan, then put these potatoes in a single layer, and add the rest of the sand to cover.  Maybe if they're out in the garage, where it's dark and cool (but not freezing), they will make it to spring and be "seed potatoes". 

We're almost in Kansas here, so we're Zone 6.  Most of the state of Oklahoma is Zone 7.  That means we have an earlier first-frost in fall and thus a shorter growing season than the rest of our state.  Colder winters.  We used to get so much more rain than the rest of the state that our area was dubbed "Green Country", and we are considered to be the southwestern corner of "The Ozarks".  But it's not so much that way anymore.  We've had drought and intense, triple-digit temperatures in the summer pretty regularly in the past couple of decades.  When we first moved out here in 2010, where rock can be found with just the bite of a shovel, we had a terrible time growing anything

Some of you might remember I tried growing peanuts this year.  It was too late in the spring to get seed when I decided to try, so I bought a package of raw peanuts, the kind that are sold for making peanut brittle with, and planted some of those.  I didn't think they were doing much, though I did notice that they bloomed, so I almost didn't bother to dig them up.

But lookit here....  Don't this beat all?? 

I had read somewhere that the tips of the peanut plant find their way back into the ground and the peanuts grow from the tips.  I didn't find that to be exactly true.  These peanuts pretty much grew a lot like potatoes do: up the stalk.  Probably would help to hill up the soil around them as they grow, like a lot of people do their potatoes. 

My ginger didn't do so well.  I started with a nice big hand I bought at Whole Foods.  I broke it into several pieces before planting.  They sprouted and grew fronds about a foot tall.  Every time I'd water, the soil would wash off the tops of the pieces of the hand and I could see they were there and still fat.  Then one day, it looked like they had just dissolved right out of the skins!  The fronds were still green so I replanted the ones I'd dug up, just to be sure I was SEEING that right, and waited awhile longer.  I read somewhere that you're supposed to wait till the fronds die, but they just never did.  The first frost was coming.  So, what the hell.  I dug 'em all up.

I guess I can replant these and maybe they'll get bigger instead of smaller this time.  *Sigh*.  I wouldn't ever have attempted this if it hadn't been for you, Fiona, and it was an interesting experiment.  I'll keep on trying.

I had to process the Futsu pumpkins that I grew this summer.  One of them developed a bad spot and the others seemed like they were not as heavy as they were before.  Drying out, obviously.

Don'tcha just LOOOOVE that color?  OMG, I could just eat that with a spoon.  And I had three smallish spaghetti squash that matured before the squash bugs found the plants.  I have two nice big Long Island Cheese pumpkins that still look very good, so I didn't process them.  Glenda said hers are into their second year of storage and still look fine.  I don't remember, Glenda, if I have ever thanked you for all your "big-sister" advice and so on over the years.  But I have appreciated it and have learned so much from you.  So, thanks, Hon.

Up to this point, we haven't had any fire out here this year and so we haven't been over-run with field rats.  We did see one run across the walkway to the patio, where the Lime Basil grows and had been dropping seed.  The birds just love that seed and I guess the rats and mice do, too.  So I set the trap and started catching about one a day.  The count is up to seven, but that's for the whole month so far.  Remember, last year, when we had fire that actually got onto our land, within a week or two the count was up to 178.  This month's count includes one that actually died in the trap, I forgot to look for 3 or 4 days in a row and the poor little bugger must've starved to death.  I feel kinda bad about that.  Hubs says that's silly.  Maybe he had a dose of D-Con in him from somewhere, and died because of that.  In that case, I did good by keeping something from eating him and suffering consequences.  As disgusting as they are, rats are one of God's creatures and have their place, though Not In My Back Yard.  Nor is it in my car engine or in my freezer motor in the garage, thank you very much. 

Mostly I think their purpose is food for the hawks.  This guy was hunting.  I figure if he has his back to us, maybe that means there aren't any rats running around in our yard.  In the top picture, he's looking into the garden.  Yikes.  And there have been owls, whom (get it?) I've heard hoo-ing in the early mornings before light, but have not seen.  They are nocturnal creatures, afterall.

In the evenings, when I'm too tired to do anything else (or too lazy), or when the weather is not such that I want to be outside, I've been knitting dishcloths!

I'm not a very good knitter.  But these are so simple.  Just cast on 4.  Knit two rows.  Then, at the start of each row, knit two and increase one.  Then knit the rest of the way across.  Just do this for every row till you have 50 stitches, and then start knitting stitch number 3 and 4 together on each row till you're down to 4 stitches again, and then finish off.  There's a really nice tutorial HERE.  Note that she does her increase by just throwing the yarn to the front, and when she does the next knit stitch, it makes a "place holder" for the one before it because the yarn came from the front instead of the back, and that's what gives her the increased stitch.  Does that make sense?  I noticed in the comments of the tutorial that someone was really confused by her saying "yarn over" at this point, because that normally means that then you're going to change from knit to purl.  But if you do not purl, but KNIT the next stitch, well, if you're not familiar with how that works, try it and you'll see.  I also like how smoothly she knits, by just moving her finger to loop the yarn over the needle.  I learned to knit, when I was about 12 or so, from a magazine-sized booklet that Mom bought during the 1940's or 50's.  Mom didn't have the patience to teach her kids how to do things.  Mostly she'd find some kind of learning aid, and then give advice after we had the basics down.

When my mother knitted, she would throw her yarn over the needle with her whole arm.  I always knew when she was knitting, early in the morning or late at night, because I could hear her chair creak with every stitch.  But all that jerky movement hurts my shoulder that I damaged when I fell in the garden, ten or fifteen years ago.  So I'm grateful I was able to watch this other woman on YouTube to see how the thread can be handled with only a flick of the finger.  I just looooove YouTube.  I'm using a size 7 pair of knitting needles and 4-ply cotton yarn,Peaches and Cream or Sugar and Cream brand that you can get at WMT.  A 2 oz. skein is only enough for a dishcloth and a half.  But Amazon sells it in 14 oz. cones and you get quite a price break per ounce that way.  I had my yarn already, bought at a garage sale.  I love it when people decide they're going to learn to knit or crochet and then find out they don't enjoy it.  Then they load up all their yarn in a bag and price it at a dollar at their next garage sale.  Considering the price of yarn, that's a real bonanza.  I wanted to use up that left-over yarn but I didn't want to make half-and-half dishcloths so I decided to try starting with two yarns, one variegated, and the other a solid color.  I began by just picking up, say, the solid color, and knitting a row and then back, then dropping the solid color yarn and picking up the variegated, knitting across and then back, and drop it and pick up the solid color again, and so on.  No cutting.  Work it like you're doing a narrow stripe sweater, in other words.  This worked out pretty well.  The top two dishcloths in the picture were done this way.  Can you tell the difference? 

That dark green yarn that's on the needles is actually my old, holey, faded green garden sweater, raveled out.  Heh!  I bought a new GAP sweater at a garage sale this summer for $3 and I'll be wearing it instead.  Wow, there's a lot of cotton yarn in that old garden sweater.

This was us in 2013.  OMG, look how fat I was.  I don't even WEAR those jeans anymore because I can't keep them UP.  Thank you, God. 

I had an email from Marsha asking for my Absorbine, Jr. recipe the other day.  I took that post and several other old ones down from the blog because I didn't think there was a need for all those old ones to be there.  However, I realize that post has been linked to by a few people on Pinterest and maybe some other places.  I still have it in my Drafts.  I think I'll update it a little and then put it back up when I get time.  I'll back-date it so maybe anybody that's looking for it to be in February of 2014 will be able to find it.  Taking it down probably broke the link that people have to it, not sure if back-dating it to the date it was originally published will fix that or not. 

The men come to install my new countertops today.  Everybody that prays, please pray for them today.  I did, and Carole has.  I have some concerns because I really didn't feel that the man who came to take measurements seemed very capable to do the job.  I don't know, it was just the feeling that I got from things he did and said while he was here.  I expressed my concern to the young woman I dealt with at Lowe's to get this ball rolling and she said if I'm not pleased their Satisfaction Guarantee will kick in.  But even so, I don't want to be without the use of my kitchen any longer than I just have to.  They'll do the job from the tear-out to completion today. 

So, we'll treat the workers well so that they'll be motivated to do the best job they can do.

Till next time...  Hugs  xoxoxo 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weird Or Wondrous Things

One day in October, we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter going overhead.  I always feel uneasy when there are low-flying helicopters.  Maybe because they're so loud.  Maybe because it feels like they're going to land right on my land.  Maybe, because I can see them so well, I know they can see me.  Not sure.  The human race is so weird and freaky now. 

This time, the noise did not go away.  Hubs looked out the patio door and called for me to come and look.  We couldn't imagine what was going on.  The helicopter was just hovering there.

Many times, it was pointed right at us.  And no, I'm not in the habit of going out in the back yard without clothes on.  Not that anyone would enjoy seeing that.  And certainly it's not a sight that anyone would get in a helicopter and come over to see.

And then, yikes, what's that hanging from the helicopter?  These pictures were taken with my zoom lens and I couldn't get a closer shot.

I suppose we could've hopped in our truck and driven over there but we didn't want to be a pair of those fools that rush in....

I went to the internet and did a search on "helicopter hovering dangling a rope" and couldn't find anything but a couple of forums where the responses to the query were, "BURN YOUR CROP!!"  Heh.

The next day, Hubs bumped into Kylie, our friend who brings us wood chips.  Kylie has a degree in arboriculture, and he has lived around here all his life.  Hubs described what we had seen and, as I understood it, Kylie said the helicopter was sent by the power company, and they were dangling a chain saw, cutting high branches.

Well, this still seems a little weird to me.....

Moving on, though....

Wild geese fly in to the fields around us all the time.  That's nothing new.  But one day in September they had a white goose with them.

It kind of looks like the family is not too pleased.  Is it one of those "Guess who came to dinner" things?

But it's strange and something we'd never seen before.  I wasn't aware that domesticated geese could fly for very long periods of time.  Not sure how this story turned out, because we've looked for the white goose since then and though wild geese often convene in the field behind our house, it has not been with them recently.  Not sure what they're finding to eat out there.

This was the view from the kitchen window one recent morning.  A praying mantis.

I went outside to get a closer shot with my zoom.  I couldn't tell if it was moving or not.  Hubs said he thought it was dead.  I didn't want to bother it, in case it was laying eggs or something. 

I checked on it several times that day.  It seemed to be going downwards on the screen.  That night it rained, and the praying mantis was not visible from the inside of the window the next morning.  I went outside to see if it had fallen on the ground, and it was laying on the window ledge.

I guess it lit there and died? 

The spiders have been very active this fall.  Some people hate spider webs, seems like they are always hanging all over the place in those Dracula movies.  But I think they're beautiful. 




I love to walk around outside right after a rain.  I started doing that because I wanted to see where the water runs.  I'm doing my best to keep what rain falls ON our land from running off to my neighbors.  But the added benefits are several.  The air is so clean and fresh right after a rain.  And somehow, it just makes me feel closer to God and gives me peace and hope.  It also gives me a chance to get some pictures that are just almost ethereal. 

If you remain open minded, you will see many Wondrous Things.  Even Wondrous Things will happen to you.  I'm sure Wondrous Things have been happening to me all my life.  It's just that I never noticed the significance before.  I'll never forget when I first became aware of this.

It happened during a very low period in my life.  Hubs and I were separated, and things were going on in my birth family that let me know they had all chosen sides, and it was not my side they had chosen.  What should I have expected from people who continuously told me how lucky I was to have Hubs, when they had absolutely no knowledge of how things were between us when no one was around?  I think really, what they actually meant was that they thought I was lucky, in fact, to have anyone at all.  What a rude and hateful thing to say to someone you're supposed to love.  But anyway, there were a lot of tales being told in our community and in our family, some things out of context, but mostly totally made-up and untrue, that got back to me, by people who had the need to draw attention away from the things THEY were doing.  Mind you, I'm not saying that I didn't bear some of the fault for the split-up between Hubs and me.  When a marriage goes to hell in a handbasket, there's almost always some responsibility on both sides.  What I am saying is that, what was happening between Hubs and me was not any of their business.  I didn't ask anyone to side with me.  The least they all could've done would have been to distance themselves from both of us till all the dust settled.  I was in shock that it happened the way it did.  I was saddened by the betrayal.  The very family members that I had felt closest to were the ones who shoved the knife in, and twisted it.  I was doing a lot of crying, and it was a really dark time.  So this one day, I turned on the TV to try to find something to take my mind off all my troubles, and I paused on the station where Joyce Meyer was speaking.  I had never heard of her before.  She looked right at me from her place in the middle of my TV screen.  And she said,

"You know, when people do things that hurt you, the fact that what they are doing will hurt you may not even be in their thoughts at all.  They might be just......  .....doing what they do.....  And you just happened to be there, in the way.  A side-effect." 

It was like a light came on.  Thank you, Joyce.  Thank you, God.

Well, this heightened my awareness, and I looked at things differently from that day on.  You might say it was a turning point.  God worked a miracle in my life.  He brought a revelation, not just to me, but to Hubs.  And it wasn't very long after that, that we worked things out.  That was over 20 years ago.  I was even able to understand the hatred that my birth family continued to express towards me, in the community, to my own children, even!  To my cousins, my nieces and nephews, in short, anyone who would listen.  Many people came to me, and told me they loved me, after that.  I needed that.  I am grateful to them and will always be.  And to God.

I forgave them all.  It doesn't mean I have to be friends with any of them.  It doesn't mean I have to have anything to do with them at all.  It doesn't mean the way they slandered me was OK, because it wasn't, and it never will be.  It doesn't mean I ever have to tell them I've forgiven them, and I won't, because they don't understand what forgiveness really is, so they'll go chatter to each other about how I'm "trying to weasel my way back into the family", and I really have no desire for that.  Forgiving means I understand that hatred comes out of empty places.  Insecurity.  Low self-esteem that demands the tearing down of someone else in order to feel better about oneself.  They showed me who they are.  I'm sorry I was in their way.  I'm sorry if they hate me.  But I gave all that to God so that I could move on.  I did not ask God to punish them.  I asked God to forgive me, for whatever part I played in all this.  I do not have to care whether he punishes them or blesses them.  He knows their hearts just like He knows mine.  The thing about God is, He gives you what you need. 

Moving on, now.

You'll enjoy this next one. 

Even years before we adopted them, our grandsons always spent a great deal of time with Hubs and me, and we had them full time almost every summer.  This was fine if I wasn't working, but if I was, I'd have to find daycare arrangements for them.  One summer, when they were pre-schoolers, they were participating in the daycare that was run by the local YMCA, and on this particular Friday, they had gone on a field trip to a place in Tulsa where they played laser tag.  I had paid for their tickets, packed their lunches and dressed them according to written instructions.  But when I went to pick the boys up at the end of the day, JR, the perennial tattle-tale, whispered to me that JC had stolen a whoopee cushion from some other little boy, and had it in his backpack.  I pulled JC away from the others and asked him if this was so, and he admitted that it was.  What I hadn't known earlier was that some of the other parents had given their children extra money because there was a gift shop there, and a lot of the boys had bought whoopee cushions.  I told JC that I was sorry I hadn't given him and JR anything for the gift shop, but added that stealing was never the answer and it wasn't fair to the other little boy.  I asked JC to take the whoopee cushion out of his backpack and go find the rightful owner and give it back, and he did.  He was in tears, and I felt so bad, but I knew this was a lesson I had to try to teach him.  I told him that we were going to go to some garage sales the next day and that he could look for one there, or something else he'd rather have, and if he didn't find one I'd look the next week for one and get it for him.  (We always gave the boys money to spend at garage sales when they went with us, but they had to get my approval of the deal.)  He brightened, I wiped away his tears and we left for home. 

The next morning, at THE VERY FIRST garage sale, I kid you not, JC came running to me excitedly with a red whoopee cushion in his hand.  It was a quarter.  I OK'd the purchase with a hug and a secret smile between me and JC.  And I said, "Thank you, God." 

Since that time, I've felt like God has "gone garagin'" with me on many occasions.  I don't know how many times, in the car, I've told Hubs, "Keep an eye out for (this or that)" and, lo and behold, as the song goes, "WHUP!  They it is!"  Heh.  The weekend before I was to have surgery was the weekend we found medical equipment at more than just one garage sale, which was priced quite reasonably and what I bought was very helpful to me while I was recuperating.  I mean, we hadn't seen stuff like that for sale that whole summer.  Right before the great-grand-daughter's fifth birthday, I wished I could find something appropriate for her, and there appeared before me a pink tricycle with a bicycle horn and handlebar streamers. 

She is a girlie girl and wears pink all the time. 

Most recently, my friend Carole told me she needed a decorative storm-door screen-protector for her sunroom, but found out they don't make them anymore.  So I told her I'd watch for one.  It might not've been the very next Saturday, but it was soon after, when I found not one, but three.  The one that was the right size to fit Carole's door was purchased, and I e-mailed a picture to her.

She said it was exactly what she'd had in mind.

I don't care if you laugh to think that this ol' lady actually thinks God goes garagin' with her.  I'm happy to bring a little joy into your life.  But I do know that God delights in delighting us. 

I remember when I found out that my next-door neighbor, and co-worker, was actually in the habit of praying for a good parking spot.  I thought that was wasting God's time and I admit I felt pretty horrified about it.  Such a little thing.  So easy for God to arrange.  Joyce Meyer says you can ask God for anything, and He wants you to.  It's not that you're ordering Him to do it, mind you, like you think He's your genie or something and is supposed to do your bidding.  You're just askin', like a child asks a parent ......  And, like a parent, if He doesn't want you to have it, He'll just not do it.  If He does do it, He's showing you He loves you.  And He's laughing at your reaction when He puts something down right in front of you, because He has such a great sense of humor.  And of course, the first few times, it's so weird.  Sometimes He'll let you find something around your house that you didn't know was there, that will mean a great deal to you on a day when your heart is heavy and you need a lift.  FL you know what I'm talking about.  More than once I've lamented that I want to find seed for this plant or that, and then I'll forget about it until I find it coming up in the yard the next summer, a gift brought by the birds.  Joyce Meyer said that God had put a blessing on her pantyhose and she could wear the same pair over and over without having a runner.  LOL!  Except that as soon as she told someone about it, the blessing stopped.  So sometimes I think God wants that to just be a little joyful thing you and He alone can share. 

Maybe now that I've told you about the garage sale thing, I won't find anything else I want to find.  Heh.  But if that's God's will, then so be it.  That's how badly I want you all to know how wondrous and wonderful God is.

Many years ago, I was taking part in a dieting forum where I was fast becoming known as a Pollyanna because of my penchant for prayer.  One day I was roasted, quite thoroughly, and publicly, by a woman who said she didn't believe in God and it was annoying to her for me to be "pushing God down her throat".  Many people emailed me privately giving me their support but in the interest of not creating disharmony in the forum, I asked them not to comment on the matter in the forum and I chose, from that point, not to post.  But for awhile I still went there to read the posts of others.  About a week later, this same woman posted that she had been driving down the highway, hit a patch of black ice on an overpass, went sailing into the air inside her car and landed, right-side up, and on all four wheels, in a nearby field underneath the overpass, without so much as a scratch or a bruise received.  She was going on and on about how "lucky" she considered herself to be.  Luck?  Oh, how badly I wanted to post a reply to her post, saying, "I rest my case".  But I figured, if she wasn't smart enough to figure that one out, then there wasn't anything I could say that would make a difference.  I think lots of people on the forum got a blessing out of that, though.

We went to a gospel singing at the church of our friend, June, a few weeks ago.  One of the band members shared her story with us.  She said that, as a teenager, she didn't believe in God, and she was kind of smug about it.  She and her boyfriend, a pastor's son, went to a Revival and in the parking lot, she saw a bumper sticker on a car there that said, "Honk If You Love Jesus".  Just being rebellious, she laughed and pressed down on her horn.  And it stuck.  It blared and blared and even her boyfriend tearing out the wires didn't stop it.  I sat there and laughed with the others in the audience, and I thought how that is just like God to do something like that.

There are many wonders in this world.  What looks like a good thing can be a bad thing, after everything's said and done.  And vice-versa.  Never hesitate to have an open mind.  Always look for the silver lining.  Try to see if there's a lesson there that you're supposed to learn.  Because I guarantee, if you don't learn something by it, God'll ding on you till you do.  And have appreciation for Every.   Little.  Thing.

Ask God for something little today.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  If He doesn't bless you, then He doesn't.  What have you lost?  If, on the other hand, what you have asked for comes to you, if you don't already BELIEVE, then maybe you'll have to wonder.... ?

May God bless you all.  Hugs xoxoxo   PS: this is the second post I've published today.  Go to "Older Posts" (below right) if you missed the first one. 

The Economics Of Home Cooking

Sometimes we watch Dr. Oz on TV.  I have my reservations about Dr. Oz.  Often his shows feel like "infomercials" to me.  He misses the fact that God makes healthy things grow around the world, not in some remote place.  So instead of Acai and Gogi, our "wonderberries" here in North America are Aronia, Blueberry, Cranberry, Currant, Elderberry, and several others, and most of them can be grown in our gardens, nationwide.  I just wish Dr. Oz would pay more attention to that.

The last show I caught was about meal preparation packages that have become popular with young working people.  The cost is high, about $20 per plate.  And he had nutritionists and others helping him decide if they were worth what they cost.  Even though he acknowledged the ways in which the results of their tests were skewed, Dr. Oz and his team concluded that the price was fair enough.

Here's the scenario: 
The box arrives, probably delivered by United Parcel Service, so it's brought right to the door.  If you're feeding a family of four, you're paying $80 for this box.  And it's just for one meal with no left-overs expected.  Of course if you have the same meal at a restaurant, you're going to pay that much, anyway.  One of the women said that she had a very large appetite and she didn't think there'd be enough food, but she was actually satisfied with the amount that was provided.  She was young, and so two out of the four people at her table were probably young children.  Kids don't start becoming eating machines till they hit puberty.  So their small portions were probably making up the difference.  Still, you're eating at your own table and you haven't had to spend time shopping for groceries.  You don't have to worry about who was sitting at that table before you and whether the table was even wiped off after they left.  That alone is a big plus, in my book.  The box contains everything you need to prepare this meal, in the exact amounts.  So, things like one apple.  A small container of spices and/or fresh herbs.  The main dish in the meal they were examining was salmon, and of course there are places in our country where good salmon just can't be bought.  So the fact that it was of good quality and packed in an insulated bag was a plus.  Clear, step-by-step instructions for preparation were included in the package.

The nutritionist made a list of the ingredients in the box and went to the store and shopped for the same items.  She was unable to buy many things in small amounts, so her cost was increased by having to buy, for instance, whole jars of spices, a full hand of ginger, a large clump of parsley, a five-pound bag of flour, a dozen eggs, and so on.  We all know what that's like from when we first began stocking our kitchen.  The initial purchases of things you use a little of and keep the rest for future meals really adds up.  So, the assumption was made that the cost of these items would be factored into the cost of the meal as if anything not used would just be discarded.  They complained of "the waste involved".  And this is where I thought, "Do you not have a refrigerator, a freezer?"  "Could you not plan other meals where these ingredients could be used?"  Seriously, there are so many ways to use flour, as an example.  So I don't think it's fair to count anything but the cost of the amount used.  If the rest of it goes to waste, that's because you haven't managed it, and that's all. 

They also complained about how the boxes and containers are extra things to have to dispose of.

One woman said, "Well, I DID still have to do the prep -- the peeling, chopping, and actual cooking of the meal.  But I enjoyed the feeling that I was making this for my family."  Here, I felt like, if it had been possible for the meal to arrive already cooked, then, to duplicate it they'd have to factor in the cost of pots and pans, knives and cutting boards, things like that.  Maybe even the oven and cooktop.  You get where I'm going with this, I bet.  She didn't mention it but of course she had pots and pans to wash, even after filling her dishwasher with the plates and such, counters to wipe off.

I guess it all comes down to what you can afford.  All these women have careers and obviously they earn much more than minimum wage.  But let's call a spade a spade.  It's a No-Brainer that these meals are simply not affordable for your average American citizen.  And the woman who enjoyed preparing the meal is not going to feel the same way about it if she has to do it every day after coming home from a long day at work.  To parade this option in front of all walks of people, including those who aren't working, or who receive smaller wages for the same chunk of time devoted to it, and to say that it's "a reasonable deal", is inaccurate and misleading. 

Cooking at home can be very economical and still be healthy.  But to avoid extra expense, you have to not waste your ingredients.  We all know that, right? 

On Monday night, we had Chicken And Noodles.  I had a pint of home-canned chicken breast in the pantry that I wanted to use up.  This was something I canned, using chicken breast that I bought on sale at the grocery store, I think the price was $1.99 a pound.  The canning of the food was not necessary but it was an experiment, using the methods presented on Sue and Myrna's blog (see my sidebar: The Iowa Housewife).  My thinking was that having some home-canned chicken breast and some home-canned sloppy Joe mix in the pantry would be nice for when our power goes out.  But we haven't had many power outages since the power company has provided additional electrical hookups for those two new homes that have gone up in our neighborhood, and so I haven't had occasion to use them.  And I don't want to try to keep home-canned foods for much more than a year because the risk of losing them to spoilage increases after that.  They are convenient, but I'm home all the time, and I can cook meats in an hour or less in my little 6-quart stove-top pressure cooker while I'm puttering around doing something else.  But if canning meats is something you think would work for you, then I'd direct you to Sue and Myrna's blog because it's a good method they present there and I did like the taste and texture of the home-canned chicken breast.  Not so sure about the texture of the home-canned sloppy Joe mix.  It seemed kind of tough.  Maybe that was the ground beef that I used, though. 

So, I would say that my entire meal came in for a lot less than $20 simply because it was made from things I already had on hand.  I used a quart of chicken broth from the freezer, which I had made a month ago by saving chicken skin, gristle and bones from other meals, in the freezer, till I had enough accumulated for a pressure-cooker batch.  Then I just covered them with water and pressured them for an hour, after which I drained off the broth, buried the softened bones in the garden (homemade bone-meal), and stored the broth in the freezer.  I think my yield is usually about three quarts.   From something most people just throw in their garbage.  (Of course I refrigerate the broth and peel off the fat that solidifies on the top.  The fat can be used as oil for garden tools, or in soap, or discarded if you can't think of a use for it.  Some people like the taste as a spread instead of butter, or they fry things in it.  They call it "schmaltz".  Not down the drain, please....)  I could've used two quarts but I had a quart of vegetable broth (composed of liquid drained from home-frozen squash and home-canned green beans as they were used, and stored away in the freezer), so I added that.  This is the stuff that lots of people pour down the drain.  I had a five-pound bag of carrots and a clump of celery in the refrigerator crisper.  I used about four carrots and two ribs of celery out of their packages.  The bag of carrots was $3 and the celery was about $1.  So probably not even fifty cents' worth.  Oh, and I meant to add a good handful of frozen chopped onion that I grew in the garden last spring, but I forgot it.  Factor in the cost of a seed.  Heh.  I had about half a container of mushrooms in the refrigerator that we'd bought for making salads with.  I had mushrooms on salad for two different meals, last week.  So, time to use up what's left of the mushrooms.  And they were a nice addition.  Do you factor in something that, had you not used it, would've ended up in the garbage (or in my case, in the compost bucket)?  I put the vegetables in the combined broths and brought it to boiling, then added some of the noodles I had made earlier out of just eggs and flour and a little salt.  Maybe the equivalence of an egg and a cup of flour.  All this bubbled around together until the vegetables and the noodles were tender.  Then I poured the broth from the canned chicken breast into the pot, rough-chopped the chicken breast, and added it.  Simmered till heated through.  If I hadn't had the canned chicken, I would've chopped a chicken breast and added it into the broth at the very beginning.  If I hadn't had the canned chicken OR the frozen broth, then I would've bought a ten-pound bag of leg quarters that is normally a little over a dollar a pound, and cooked two, maybe three, in two or three quarts of water.  I didn't add herbs and spices, I could've added parsley, and some thyme, maybe a little sage, all of which I grew in the herb garden, but for some reason I didn't and it was still quite tasty with just salt and pepper.

Hubs and I both had a good-sized bowl for supper.  And there's enough left for another meal.  So I guess you might say that was a meal for four. 

So.  Would you factor in my refrigerator and freezer?  Maybe not the refrigerator, since every kitchen contains one whether it's got anything in it or not.  A big chest-type freezer costs about $300 and there's the electricity it uses every month, which really isn't all that much, considering all.  How would you figure how much it costs to save vegetable broth and chicken bone broth if you also use your freezer to store meats you've bought in quantity when they're on sale, and vegetables you grew in your garden, to keep home-baked bread fresh, to store casseroles and such that you've prepared in advance (cook once, eat twice -- or more) and to freeze-kill weevil larvae that you think might be in your purchased grains and meals?  How would you figure how much a well-stocked freezer saves you from running to the grocery store every time you want to prepare a meal?  How would you figure what you save from managing the things in your refrigerator and pantry and knowing when to use them up or at least store them away in the freezer so they'd keep longer? 

As you can see, this can all get a little mind-boggling if you let it.  I have intentionally over-thought this to drive home my point, but you know over-thinking is kind of the way I roll, anyway.... 

I think the take-away from this is that people are not being taught to cook.  Kids are not being included in the meal preparation process in their homes.  I read somewhere that the Greeks consider cooking to be a blend of art and science.  And I heartily agree with that.  So I don't think it should be left out of the high school curriculum.  In fact, I think it should be a required subject for both girls and boys.  If you think about it, how many times, in real life, would you have a need to know how to dissect a frog?  And if you were hungry, would, say, being able to paint pictures keep you alive if everyone around you was hungry and penniless, too?   True art, then, would be things like making shoes, coats and other clothing, equipment, working gadgets like grinders and sharpeners, and so on.  But anyway, maybe it would be well not to teach how to dissect something you can't eat.  Maybe those kids ought to be taught how to cut up a chicken.  I think that'd be a great science project.  You could learn about joints and how bones fit together.  You could see what cartilage looks like.  You could learn about the parts of the chicken that gets removed before you buy it at the store, how, even, an egg is made inside the chicken.  And then, after all that, the chicken could be cooked and the kids could all sit down for a meal together.  They could be taught to be grateful for, and to celebrate the life of, that chicken that gave it so they could eat, and how they should never waste anything that came from something that had lived just for the purpose of providing them something to eat. 

Leave the handing out of Twinkies and candy bars to someone else.  I don't think anything had to die to make those.  But then, sickness and death might be on the other end, if you know what I mean.

Rock on, my friends.....      Hugs xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

Today is election day and most of us are trudging to the polls voting for someone we don't really like because they are the lesser of two evils in our opinion.  I don't know how it's going to turn out, either way.  I have my concerns, either way, and it makes me feel very sad, as an American, to be put in this position.  But HERE is a good article, written about Dr. Joe Mercola, that has some good advice about how we can all get through this difficult time.  As for me, I believe God has a way of making things turn out ok, even though His timing is different than ours, and we might have to struggle through a hellish time for awhile.  I am trying to remember that persistence is the path to success in any situation.  Therefore, endurance is key. 

I have friends and family members who vote differently than I do.  But we have common ground in that we're not completely comfortable with voting the way we are.  We're doing the best we can in an uncertain situation.  And we love each other regardless of politics.

The things that are broken in America have built up over decades and they are not going to be fixed immediately.  So no matter how they voted, America's citizens are going to be disappointed because both candidates have made promises that will be very hard to keep. 

I think it's very appropriate that Christmas is just around the corner.  It might make more of us remember what Christmas is all about, rather than all the insane shopping and extravagance that some have turned it into.  Regardless, it will do us good to sing the old Christmas carols we so love. 

Especially, Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men.  With maybe a chorus of a non-Christmas selection: We Shall Overcome.  In fact, HERE is Joan Baez to sing that to you.  Or maybe you'd rather hear it from Mahalia Jackson HERE .

Peace and love to you.  xoxoxoxo

Monday, November 7, 2016

Catch Up Time, Installment 1

Today as I was making noodle dough, I thought about part of some western that Hubs was watching the other day and as I walked through the room (on the way to somewhere else), I noticed a rancher's wife was making bread on the TV.  It was just a small part of the show and not an important part of it so I guess they thought they didn't have to be all that authentic.  And oh, it was so obvious this actress never made bread or grew up watching someone else make it, in all her life, nor had the director.  For one thing, if you're going to be feeding a husband and several hungry ranch-hands along with your children, you'd better be rasseling around a lot bigger chunk of dough than she had, because just one small loaf isn't going to cut it.  And on the other hand, the way she was kneading it, with her fists, there's no way the dough was going to be developed enough to even get a good rise.  You know, I live in my own little world.  Lots of times I think everybody ought to know how to do the stuff I do, I don't think of my little day-to-day tasks as anything out of the ordinary.  This small portion of that western made me realize that the preparation of dough, whether it be for bread, noodles, or even homemade play-dough, is something that some people find daunting. 

I have a lot of memories of my childhood, just as I'm sure all of you do.  Some of my memories are not all that wonderful.  But there are those that make me smile, and I'm grateful for them.  Among them are the ones of my mother making bread.  She would work at the dinner table, because it had been outfitted with a Formica top, and because it was a more comfortable height for her, since she was only five feet tall.  Mom enjoyed kneading bread, and it was a rhythmic thing that she put her whole body into, rocking forward and back.  When she married Dad, she didn't know how to cook, and Dad's German/English grandmother would come and spend the day with her every now and then and teach her how to make things.  So I'm sure the recipe and techniques Mom always used were taught to her by Martha Elizabeth (Hufferd) Dalton, Stimpson, or "Liz", as they called her, which had most likely been taught to Liz by her mother, Eliza (Beasley) Hufferd, who was, by the way, an English woman married to an old German guy who'd already had a slew of children by his first wife.  So Mom's recipe and techniques, which is what I use, could come from my German roots, but it's more likely they came from my English ones. 

It seems like kneading bread just draws a kid in.  I know I was fascinated by it when I was young, and after me came Mom's grandchildren, who would stand there beside her till she would pinch off a small piece of dough and let them knead, also.  In her later years she delighted in bringing out some little loaf pans that she had so each child could bake their own little loaf.  That was their very own bread and they always ate it if they ate nothing else.  In my case, I would usually pat my piece of dough out flat.  Mom would butter it and sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon and then I would roll it into a roll and slice it.  They would bake in a pie pan and we'd share the little cinnamon rolls at lunchtime, just her and me. 

So I thought today I'd finally get around to putting up a post, and I had Hubs take pictures during my kneading process, but I don't think they'll be necessary because I found this very good YouTube done by The Bread Kitchen HERE.  Her technique is pretty close to mine.  Plus she has some other selections on her video channel that I plan to watch -- especially the one on making English Muffins and Bagels, and then she has a couple of other channels, Titli's Busy Kitchen and Titli's Busy Garden, that I want to look at when there's time.  I also enjoyed her personality and English accent.

The only thing that I do differently than she does is that I push the dough away from me with the heels of both hands rather than with my fingertips.  I have my fingers free to wrap around the edge of the dough and that becomes the "fold".  Like I said, dough kneading should become a rhythmic thing.

You can make egg noodles without kneading the dough very much but then they will be very brittle and will break and/or crumble easily after they have dried.  So they won't store very well.  I always make enough for several months to come.  Some people store their noodles in a lidded container but they don't even so much as refrigerate.  I guess the fact that they are dried means that bacteria doesn't grow.  I keep mine in an ice-cream tub in the freezer, anyway.  They're a lot of work, I don't want to have to be throwing any of them away.  My recipe is simple: about a dozen eggs, a teaspoon of salt, enough flour to make a stiff dough.  Mom used to put water in hers, and some people do that or use milk.  Some add oil.  Some add a little baking powder.  But I don't do any of that.  Homemade egg noodles need to cook longer than those you buy in a cellophane bag.  But once you get used to homemade noodles, you'll find the store-bought kind to be slimy and lacking in flavor.  If you want to make green or orange noodles, you'll need to dehydrate spinach, or grate and then dehydrate carrots, then process them into a powder in the food processor, and add the powder into the flour.  I've done it before, but Hubs gives funny-colored noodles The Old Fish-Eye and won't eat them so that process has been relegated to other time-consuming tasks I no longer take the extra trouble to do.  My mother used to call doing things for people that didn't have an appreciation for them "Casting Your Pearls Before Swine", and not that I'm calling Hubs a Swine, mind you, just sayin' .... 

Here they are, all rolled out and cut, lined up on cotton tea-towels to dry. 

We have not yet had our first frost yet and it is later than usual.  This happens about once every five to ten years.  I still have cheese pepper plants and okra plants producing.  My sweet potatoes were dug about October 15 but now there are new plants coming up in the sweet potato bed from pieces left behind.  And I have potato plants growing from little small potatoes that had started sprouting in my pantry. 
It was early August when they started sprouting, so that's when I tucked them into this spot where I tried (and failed) to grow bush beans.  (They grew, they made beans, but the beans fell off before they got any size.)  What I hope to do is to be able to keep the potatoes from these plants for use as my seed potatoes for next spring.  It's an experiment.  Sometimes these experiments work, sometimes they don't.  I think I'll grow more potatoes next spring, simply because there's not much growing in the garden when they are.  I usually get 5 pounds yield from each pound planted, what's in the ground now are mostly Red Norland and Russet Norkotah, but there are a few Yukon Golds in there too.  Even if these do well and are usable next spring, I might buy an additional variety, just for fun.

Below is what the sweet potato bed looks like now.  We rearranged the bed after we dug the potatoes, so it would be narrower.  We'll still get the same yield because we used the extra block and soil to make it longer.  It was too wide to let me reach to the center, and being that I'm going to be 70 years old real soon, I didn't think it'd be wise for me to be climbing up into it. 

I don't know how well you can see the little baby onions coming up in the sweet potato bed, below left.  I decided to try sowing seeds close together in the fall and seeing if they will winter over.  If they do, I can thin 'em out in the spring.  If they don't, all I've lost is my seed.  I found a greenhouse here in town that sells Candy onion plants in the spring.  I'll just buy a bunch of those from them.  Maybe I will, no matter how this experiment turns out. 

Had my Lazy Housewife beans not crossed with something else (anyway I THINK that's what happened), I'd be having another crop from them.  The beans on the vine are not the long, straight beans, three or four in a bunch, that I've grown accustomed to seeing, but are short, curved pods.  And though Lazy Housewives are normally stringless, these are so fibrous that, even after stringing, there's still something that has to be removed from the mouth after they've been cooked.  I just hate when that happens.  I planned to buy fresh seed from Baker Creek but they do not even have them in their catalog this year.  Neither does Terroir Seeds.  So, I'm looking for a good pole bean alternative.  Anybody have any suggestions?  I heard from one person that Rattlesnake beans are absolutely The. Best. 

Here's what the garden looks like now, with White Dutch perennial clover coming up in the walkways and annual Rye Grass coming up in the raised beds for winter cover.  Those "bushy-looking things" on the right are new black cherry bushes, started from seed.  They'll be transplanted to their permanent home next spring. 

Oh, I love marigolds.  Love how they smell, how they look, how they need absolutely NO care.  I'm thinking next year, I might plant them in the holes of those concrete blocks.

I've had to go at this in stages so the clover and rye grass is further along in some places than in others. 

I've been watching some YouTubes about farmers who are changing their practices in order to build healthier soil and I've found Gabe Brown and Dr. David Montgomery's "Dirt" presentation.  All you really have to do is go to and do a search on either man's name to find several selections.  Good presentations.  Gabe Brown says now he makes it a habit to have roots of something in the ground all year 'round.  I've seen those Hugelkultur videos before and I think that is what got them started.

We're getting some rain today.  We've been getting a good rain about once a week, that's enough now that the temperatures are always below 90 and the nights are cool.  I like to get my seeds sown right before the rain.

We had an impressive tremor on Sunday evening.  Usually they are as far away from us as Oklahoma City and I didn't feel them before, though Hubs has.  This one was centered in Cushing and that's 50 miles closer to us.  It was loud, and gave our house a good shake.  And now I wonder if Hubs and I have reached a point where we need to quit spending money doing cosmetic things to our house.  Is it all going to end up at the bottom of a sink-hole? 

I've already paid for new countertop in the kitchen.  They are doing "invisible mitered corners" at the factory and will come to install it in a few weeks.  My present countertop is Formica and is not really an objectionable pattern, but it's cracked in places and has come loose from the decking on one side.  Plus there's a bulge on the decking in one spot, not sure what that's about.  The new one is that new Formica that looks like granite, and it will be on new decking,.  I've always liked Formica for its ease of care.  Here's the pattern.  It's Formica's 180FX line, "Crema Mascarello" with the "European" edge.  I can't find an example of it, it's a straight edge like the old Formica countertops, but the laminate is folded over the top and bottom of the edge and goes all the way under instead of having a strip cut and glued to the edge.  No seam.  Colors are white, off-white, taupe, reddish brown and gray.: I like that the gray will tie into the stainless steel appliances, the brown goes well with the floor.  The cabinets are white and the woodwork door and window trim are a cream color.  Botta bing.

I had granite installed at The Ponca House and it was beautiful, but I was disappointed in it because it tended to soak up spilled grease.  The granite people pooh-poohed that and said, "Well, if you SEAL it.....", and then they looked at me like I'm a lazy, careless lout.  Sheesh.  I have better things to do than to be putting chemicals on my countertop all the time.  Considering what we had to pay for the granite, there should've been a PERMANENT seal on it, that's what I think.  Hmmmph!

Here's what my little galley-style kitchen looked like after Paula and I painted.  Since then we've replaced the refrigerator with one in stainless steel.

Our cooktop (it's on the left, just past the built-in oven) was off-white, so we got a new stainless steel cooktop, too.  I did not want glass or ceramic, and I was thinking about trying that stainless steel spray appliance paint but Hubs did not want to go that route.  The sink will have to be removed before the men will remove the old counter.  Hubs knows how to do that.  What better time to put in a new stainless steel sink that has no divider in the center?  It's waiting, in the garage.  Sort of like those "Farmhouse" sink styles except it doesn't have the apron on the front, and I didn't like that part, anyway.  I'm sick to death of not being able to get my big pans into the sink for washing and/or soaking.  I don't know when the last time was that I actually filled one of my double sinks with hot soapy water for dishwashing, anyway.  I usually just put my soapy water in the biggest pan that I have to wash, wash everything else in it, and then clean it, last.  Works for me, saves water, and if the water has gotten really dirty, I can always take it to the garden and dump it.  If it's a really greasy pan, I might deglaze it first, refrigerate it, and put the solidified grease in the burn barrel or save it for soap-making.  Otherwise, I will wipe the pan out with paper towels or newspaper, which then go into the compost or the burn barrel.  If I have to soak the pan before washing, I dump the water with all the loosened bits in it into a hole I've dug in the garden, along with what's in the compost bucket.  I do what I can to keep stuff like that from clogging up my drains. 

Well, there's more I could talk about but that can be for another time.  Till then, be well, be safe, be happy.  Hugs xoxoxoxo