Tuesday, February 28, 2017

End of February, 2017

I thought some of you might enjoy these.  They are typical of Northeastern Oklahoma.  One of God's ways of making up for the drought and the triple-digit summer heat, I guess.  I so miss the cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets when I'm living elsewhere.  When we lived in Oakland, California during the late 1960's, it seemed like the skies were always the same shade of blue, with not many clouds.  But I was young then and I didn't pay much attention to the beauty of God's creations as much as I do now.  Maybe I just didn't notice.  In northern Indiana during the 1970's, I certainly DID notice, and the Industrial skies were always gray. 










These pictures were all taken on the same morning.  Aren't I blessed to have all this beauty RIGHT OUTSIDE MY PATIO DOORS?


Spring is my favorite time of year.  Just so ya know.

The last few times I have walked over to see Bob and Gwen, I noticed the Juniper trees that are on my side of their workshop were full of berries.  I had myself a walk around the surrounding meadows that belong to some of my other neighbors, to see if any of their Juniper trees had berries, and, nope.  Just those two trees of Bob and Gwen's. 


If I'm understanding correctly, the trees that make the berries are the females.  This being Oklahoma, I imagine these trees are Juniperis monosperma, or "Oneseed Juniper".  Everything you ever wanted to know about the Juniper tree and it's growth habit can be found here:

http://www.desertusa.com/flora/junipers.html


Juniper berries are used to flavor Gin.  And so they have the odor that people who know the smell of gin will recognize.  Tom Collins was a popular mixed drink when I was a young adult.  We didn't put on any airs, we just mixed gin with 7-Up and ice.  Botta Bing.  But did you know that juniper berries are medicinal?  Antibacterial, diuretic and antiseptic.  Inhalation of Juniper essential oil is used to treat bronchitis and numb pain.  Topical application provides relief from joint and muscle pain.  We used to like to say, "I was feelin' NO pain...", could be the Juniper and not the alcohol?  Naw, I guess that's spreading things just a leeeetle too thin.... 

There is a great deal of information about the uses of juniper berries and even the bark and the "leaves".  Also the essential oil.  Some of the sites I found are these:
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-juniper-essential-oil.html
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail30.php
http://www.eattheweeds.com/junipers/

Juniper is powerful medicine and I would personally not take it internally in any form.  And care needs to be taken if you've never used it on your skin, in case you are sensitive to it.  But I did happen upon a Witching YouTube in which the.... ummmm....  speaker said you can use the berries, about a ratio of 1 part berries to 4 parts bleach, added to your mopping water, to purify and protect your home from evil, but you have to use it fast because the bleach deteriorates the berries.  Here's that YouTube if you want to look at it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KatzxMLf7FY
She said you can string some into a necklace and hang it in your car to protect you from car accidents.  I'm really uneasy about witchcraft, just so you know.  I think there's a fine line between good and evil and a lot of people who say they are witches don't know enough about what they're doing to avoid stepping over that line.  Doing incantations may or may not conjure up something such as what horror movies are famous for but I'm not going there just in case.  You'll not see me dancing naked in a circle of rocks, either.  And you're welcome.  But I don't rule out certain beliefs about purifying things and taking advantage of the herbal benefits of things that grow, simply because I believe that God put all these things around us for us to use to keep ourselves well and healthy.

Native Americans sometimes burn Juniper or Sage prior to their gatherings, and to purify their homes.  I'm very familiar with that and I don't see anything wrong with it.  Hanging a Juniper berry necklace on the car mirror or putting it in the mopping water seems innocent enough.  I don't think I'd be doing anything in that regard that would grieve God.  I do enough wrong stuff just being me, I certainly don't need to be looking for things I can do on purpose.

Since Juniper trees tolerate heat and dry so well, and are habitat for birds, I thought I might try to start a few cuttings for planting on The North Fourth.  I saw a YouTube done by a man who grows Juniper trees from cuttings for Bonsai, and he said spring is the best time to take the cuttings.  We'll see how it goes.


I remembered having seen some Junipers with berries growing in the city park behind The Ponca House, years ago, so the other day while we were out, I had Hubs drive by there.  I didn't find ANY that had any berries on them.  I did, however, walk past the back of our old house, and I took some cuttings off the Privet hedge that I planted between what was then my back fence and the park's sidewalk.  They grew well, thick and tall, and provided us with some privacy from the park.  When I tried to buy some to put around the outer fence here, I could not find anything except a variety that didn't grow as tall. 


The new owners of The Ponca House have not taken very good care of it, or at least, have not cared for it as I did and would have.  The paint on the house was badly faded and the privet hedge needed pruning badly.  So instead of being a nice thick hedge, it was a bunch of big trunks.  Every spring, I would show Hubs the biggest ones to cut out of the hedge and we kept it full and bushy that way.  I didn't even put my eyes anywhere in the yard.  They say, "you can't go home again", and you just shouldn't even look.  It makes me feel sad.

While we were out we stopped by Atwood's and Tractor Supply.  After Tractor Supply opened their store out along the highway on the way out of town towards Tulsa, Atwood's built out there, too, practically right next door!  They were more convenient to me where they had been, for years, in the Eastland Shopping Center.  But I did notice that their chicken feed and such were often chewed into by rats or mice.  I also once bought some nuts there that were rancid.  So maybe the new location will provide them with a warehouse area that will be better storage of their extra merchandise.  Not sure.  As it is, though, it seems like they and Tractor Supply have much the same stuff.  We went to Atwood's first, and now the only variety of seed that they are carrying is Burpee.  They used to carry several brands, including American Seed and Ferry Morse.  So I didn't buy anything there.  At Tractor Supply, I bought a Damson blue plum tree for $12.95.  I thought I had bought one from ArborDay, but it and the other two trees that were SUPPOSED to be something else, all turned out to be Santa Rosa, and I don't know what to do with them.  They are too tart to make anything with but jam.  And how much Santa Rosa jam can two old codgers eat, I ask ya??  I will prune this one back to about 3', according to instructions I saw on Oklahoma Gardening's show last Saturday.  It'll just become a whip in the wind if I don't, anyway....  I'm hoping to plant it in the same hole where the apple tree died.  Hubs cut it down at ground level with the chain saw and I think there's room left for it to grow.  The tree was completely dead and the trunk was splitting from the ground up.  So I think what's left of the tree under the ground will actually be well on its way to rotting and will be a "Hugelkultur wooden sponge" for the new tree. 

Also bought a Chicago fig, supposed to be hardy to zone 5.  We are 6A.  If it will live in Chicago, it ought to live through our winters but I'm not sure how it will tolerate our summers.  If it dies, it dies.  I'm NOT dragging it in and out.  I did plant it in a tub for now.  I'll need to dig a new hole for it and I haven't decided yet where I want it.  The box says it grows 10-12' and is self-fertile. 
 


Got this Issai hardy Kiwi, too.

I bought two last year and planted them near the trellis on the cellar bed, but if they lived, they didn't climb.  If they are still in the ground, I don't recognize them.  They are "fuzzless", smaller than the ones from the grocery store, and Stark's say they have 8 times more vitamin C than oranges and can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit per year.  Supposed to be self-pollinating, so I may go out there and trim that vine back and see if I can root the cut-off piece to get an additional plant.  I did that with burgundy raspberries one year. I think I might get a small "first fruit" crop this year from the burgundy raspberries. 

I walk around the garden daily to see if anything's coming up from the seed I've planted, or coming back from the roots.  I think I see a few peas beginning to emerge.  It's a little too soon to tell if it's peas or more of that dang Henbit.  I guess I should count my blessings, at least the Henbit dies back when it starts getting warm.  I keep watching for the Red Russian Kale to come up from roots somewhere.  My second-year plants went to seed last summer and I had baby kale plants all over the garden in the fall.  But so far I'm not seeing kale.  There's cumin coming back up from roots, though....

It'll be going to seed this year and making Coriander.  I wasn't sure about it because the butterfly larvae was all over it and ate it down to bare branches last year.  Fennel is only coming back in one spot, and that teaches me that I should've harvested that big bulb it made when the plant out in the garden made one.  I didn't get any seed because the larvae ate Fennel umbels before they went to anything else.  The seed I planted was just old seed from my herb and spice cabinet in the kitchen.  I think I still have some, somewhere.

Paula sent me some Candy onions.  I think she got a bit over-enthusiastic.....  But bless her heart.  I'm going to try to start getting them planted on Friday. 

Oh, and here is a poppy. 

A couple of years ago, Glenda sent me a bunch of poppy seed, of all different colors, and the ones I had planted in this spot were red, some were orange.  I had Dame's Rocket planted there, too, and the purplish blue of that flower against the poppies was just Eye Candy, for sure.  Glenda told me the red and the orange ones were perennial and I was tickled pink about that.  Last spring, I had one come up in exactly this same spot, but then it was gone.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe Hubs hit it with the weed-eater.  Maybe the Dame's Rocket shaded it out.  Maybe some critter ate it.  Well, it's baaaaack....  This time, I'm putting a tomato cage around it and I've pulled away every other thing that was growing around it.  I want it to grow and thrive and make extra seed to scatter. 

Other things up:
 Garden Heliotrope.  Oh, the scent is heaven when they're in bloom.

Oregano.  Somebody said, as good as Oregano is for us, we ought to be juicing it and snorting it.  LOL

I looked for the red-flowered Bergamot I moved from the herb garden to two spots last spring, as it was taking over the herb garden.  The hummers love it, and it makes really pretty flowers, so I don't want to lose it.  I want it somewhere that it can go rampant if it wants to.  I don't find it at all in one spot.  But it is present on the north side of the chicken house.

And there's still some in the herb garden.  When it likes its spot, it likes its spot.

Dr. Oz had a show on the 27th about natural cleaning products.  Apparently grapefruit seed extract in some water with tea tree essential oil is a good all-purpose cleaner.  And then he went thru the getting rid of roaches with diatomaceous earth and deterring ants with coffee grounds and obviously he either has not done his homework or has wimpy roaches and ants, because I never found either to work for me.  Also had a piece about mold and said not to use bleach, that just liquid soap and water would do just fine.  That made me think about the Juniper berry and bleach thing and you know, I think the bleach is just unnecessary.  Why wouldn't steeping the berries in distilled vinegar do just as well?  I was disappointed that Dr. Oz didn't say anything about vinegar for cleaning except he did show it being poured down a clogged drain, to wash down a mixture of half salt and half baking powder, poured into the drain ahead of it, and then followed with boiling water.  But I keep a spray bottle of distilled vinegar under my kitchen sink cabinet and I spritz it on my counters, and on fresh fruit from the grocery store, wiping it off after a bit, of course.  I've yet to find ANYTHING that cleans toilets any better than just a little bit of bleach, though.  But I know that's probably not good for my septic tank.  Salt isn't good for a septic, either.   I don't pour pickle brine down the drain.  I take it outside and dump it on the ground where I don't want anything to grow.  We don't use a lot of pickles so I don't have a lot to dispose of.  If I did, I seriously don't know WHAT I'd do with it.  All that salt has to go SOMEWHERE and at what point will it start seeping from places from where you don't want stuff to grow TO where you DO? 

Do you ever wonder if merchants get deluged with requests for things after Dr. Oz (or someone else) mentions it on their TV show?  If I were dabbling in the stock market, I think as soon as that happens I'd go buy stock in whatever company produces it.  Because, even if it doesn't work, lots of people who have watched the show will go out and buy at least one.  Depending on the popularity of the show / size of audience, this could be a real shot in the arm for the company that makes it.  And we will all be able to tell if it didn't work, because by summer everybody will have it in their garage sale.  We, as consumers, are not very discriminating.  We'll buy anything.  Sometimes just telling us it's "flying off the shelves" and/or there's a shortage, is enough to make us stand in a long line, pay higher prices for it and/or punch our fellow American out just to get one.  It's insane.  And if they want something to "fly off the shelves", they just say it's normally priced at twice the asking price.  Sheesh.

I'm looking forward to March, even though it heralds tornado season, violent electrical storms and what not.  The extended forecast warns of more roller-coaster highs and lows, and so far not seeing much rain.  There was a lot of smoke in the air this morning, but we couldn't find out where it was coming from and not long after first notice, it was gone.  We do have stuff to be grateful for. 

Rock on, my dears.  Be well and safe.  Hugs xoxoxo

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Daily Doin's, First Part of February, 2017

Oklahoma Roller-Coaster weather is still in effect.  It's warm.  It's cold.  It's HELL for cold.  It's warm again.  I hope this "unseasonably warm" weather we've been getting doesn't translate out to drought and triple-digit heat, come summer.  Sometimes a warmer than "normal" winter makes for a cooler than "normal" summer.  But we just never know.  There's evidently not a real correlation between the two, it's just apparently a crapshoot.  Spring is normally very windy here and if we haven't had much rain, there is a Red Flag Warning, which means fire danger.  If there's a Red Flag Warning out, we're not supposed to burn trash or do anything else that might start a fire.  But seems like certain people always think they're not included in that and this could be the start of a rant, but you've heard all that before.  And you're welcome.

I've been planting a few early spring seeds.  Beets went in first.  Then peas.  I have started looking at beets and peas with new eyes, thanks to Dr. Oz.  He says beets are "wonder food", and peas are full of protein and calcium. 

I have finally found a reliable way to make garlic "keep".  I separate the cloves and put them in small brown paper bags like the kids that are too cool to carry a lunchbox to school use for their lunches brought from home.  Although, seriously, some kids think they're too cool to bring a lunch from home to school, AT ALL, unless they are packed so full of junk food that it's cool to be the kid who eats Lunchables and Snickers bars for lunch.  Kids.

Once the garlic is packed into the brown bag, I just roll it up and put it in the crisper, and there they stay till I'm ready to use them.  By this time of year, some of them are starting to sprout, but it's still better than what happens to garlic at room temperature in Oklahoma.  Must be our humidity.  Without special treatment, they have rotted before the end of the year.

These big garlic cloves were taken out and tucked into the ground.  Usually the bigger the garlic clove, the shorter is the storage time, so I was glad to see these made it through the winter just fine in their "lunch bag".  These little red-tinged "normal sized" cloves had started to sprout, so I planted them, too.


The rest of the garlic was peeled and processed for the freezer.  They have made it this far, I decided it's probably not a good idea to push my luck and try to keep them any longer.  Garlic pretty much permeates whatever it touches, so I decided to chop it in my little mini-chopper.  All the pieces that the garlic will touch fit well in the dishwasher without taking up much space.  And the size that the garlic pieces chop into is a kind of a "medium chop" that will allow them to go straight from the freezer into the frying pan or cooking pot.



Double-bagged, of course.

I did put some into a small jar and covered them with cider vinegar.  These are good to have in the refrigerator door.  I use them in recipes that contain tomato, I find that the vinegar blends in well with the acidity of the tomato and is not noticeable.  Last time, I peeled cloves and filled a quart jar, then covered them all with vinegar.  I used out of that jar for a long time, but I soon found that the cloves formed a new skin that got to be an annoyance when using the garlic press or just smashing with the wide blade of my "cook's knife".  I actually prefer to cover garlic in olive oil but I don't find that it keeps very well.


 
Lots of things don't keep well in our climate.  Potatoes sprout in the pantry.  Onions often reveal a layer or two of brown mush when they're cut into, or I know better than to cut into them by the soft and gushy feel -- or the pungent smell, so they have to be chopped and frozen, too.  I've tried dehydration and I just don't like the end product.  It changes the flavor, and the consistency is chewy, even after rehydration. 

I did find a very helpful website, just now, that I found very interesting and am going to try canning garlic next time.  Here is the URL:
http://www.rural-revolution.com/2011/10/canning-garlic.html
Be sure to read the comments as there's a lot of good information there, as well.  I had to kind of snicker at all the comments from people who thought all this was just a waste of time because "garlic will keep all year just hanging in a cool place, such as a root cellar".  Oh, move to Oklahoma, then tell me that again, if you can. 

We've been watching Dr. Oz, most days.  Sometimes he has some stuff on the schedule that we don't really care about and so Hubs changes the channel and I wander off to dink around on the computer, or I slip outside during the commercial and forget to come back in.  I didn't watch the piece on The Menendez Brothers, although I said all along that I thought there was some kind of abuse going on to make those boys do the stuff they did.  But with kids, you never know.  One of our neighbors lives in a house where a double murder was committed some years ago.  Myself, I couldn't live in a house if I knew a murder was committed there.  But it was owned by someone who made it into a Bed & Breakfast, in between those people and the people who live there now, so maybe that helped.  Not sure it would be enough for me.  The murdered couple's young adult daughter got involved in drugs and she brought her boyfriend into the house.  He shot them both.  For money, which, apparently, they did not have enough of in the house.  We knew something about the house before we moved out here, because it turned out that the man was the brother of one of our neighbors at The Ponca House.  When he found out we were moving here, the first question he asked was whether we were buying THAT house.  And then he told us that he would never be able to come out to visit us, and told us the story.  Yikes.  I think we lived once in a house where something evil had happened.  I was miserably unhappy in that house.  We did some work on an outside wall and found a crucifix hanging on a nail under the plasterboard.  I always wondered if that was just a tradition some builders had, or if there was a more ominous reason.  Up in the attic of this house, there is a 5x7 framed picture of what is perceived to be the likeness of Jesus.  It's fastened to one of the rafters.  I like to think that one is some kind of tradition, as Hubs and I have been happy here and we have received many blessings since we have lived here.    

Dr. Oz's shows are kind of confusing to me.  So often, one show contradicts information given in a previous one.  I do find useful information sometimes but for me it's like separating the wheat from the chaff, if you know what I mean.  The takeaway from this is something I think I've known for a long time, and that is that weight loss and maintenance is not "cookie cutter".

I'm still struggling to get off this dang plateau.  So far, everything I have tried has not helped and a few things have actually made me GAIN, such as that Tim Tebow and all the extra fat he's consuming.  I'm not willing to "live at the gym", and that's what I'd have to do to burn off bacon and a spoon of butter in my coffee every morning. 

But now Dr. Oz is promoting a "plant-based diet", and you know, I think I could easily live with that.  I really don't enjoy meat, but I do like eggs and dairy products.  Just a few shows ago he was talking about probiotics such as greek yogurt and he said there is a new product now in some of the stores that is smooth cottage cheese.  It seemed strange to me that some of the people in the audience found the taste of cottage cheese to be repulsive.  I remember my mother making it, and I always loved it.  When I was raising my kids, we had it with meals that I didn't think were very high in protein, such as canned ravioli or Spaghettio's, which they loved, or beef or chicken potpies, which I loved.  I didn't grow up with yogurt in the house and the only way I have ever been able to eat it now is if it has a spoon of jam in it.  Shoot, if I knew I could've gotten the same probiotic boost from cottage cheese instead of yogurt, I probably wouldn't ever have bought yogurt.  But diet information was conflicting about cottage cheese.  In the 1950's, a "diet plate" was a scoop of cottage cheese on a lettuce leaf and a round slice of pineapple.  Then they started to say not to eat anything "white", and after that they said it was too high in fat to be on anybody's diet plan.  So if you're frustrated because it seems like there never is definitive information when it comes to losing and keeping off weight, know that at least it's getting better than it used to be, even though it seems like "everything bad is good again".  So I end up taking an idea here, an idea there.

I recently ran across a YouTube of Dr. Josh Axe's about the benefits of coconut oil, that's HERE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pKK4tWfYT4
So I decided to use coconut on my toasted 100% whole wheat, locally grown, REAL plant material, no weird or GMO additives or ingredients bread, and it really is not too bad as it melts in quickly and I don't mind the coconut flavor.  There seems to be much confusion, still, about coconut oil.  Some people are buying the stuff that's had the taste processed out.  Others say that's not a good kind to get.  Some people are cooking with it, others say the heat of cooking destroys the benefits and changes the oil to be no better than any other oil.  I do buy the organic, cold-processed oil that smells like coconut.  Someone went further and said you have to be sure it's made from fresh coconuts rather than dried, and for that you have to call the company.  It isn't on paper anywhere and they could lie their a$$es off to you on the phone and then say they did no such thing if they ever got challenged on it.  So I think that's just an exercise in futility. 

I use coconut oil as the carrier oil when I use essential oils.  I have sensitive skin that is chapped by the wind and by the sun, so I use it on my face and around my eyes.  It feels like it soaks in quickly, and I don't seem to have to use my "dry eye" eyedrops as often.  Restasis, a popular dry-eye medication, contains castor oil.  If castor oil is deemed OK to use in the eyes, I'd think coconut oil would be an even better option.  Castor oil, with time, gets kind of gummy.  And it's thick, even in it's freshest form, kind of sticky.  I can see it solidifying if it gets into the tear ducts, though maybe it's been processed to be less likely to solidify.  That being the case, I'd be concerned about what chemicals they used to bring that about.  Since coconut oil naturally melts at a point well below body temperature, I wouldn't think it would be clogging anything.  Still, I won't put coconut IN my eyes.  I put it on the eyelids and all around.  I'm sure there's some of it that migrates into the eyes.  Unless we go around with our eyes closed all the time, we will get stuff migrating in our eyes that's certainly a lot worse than a little coconut oil.  But you do what you feel safe doing.  Since eye surgery, I have had some occasional blepharitis and I find coconut oil on my eyebrows and eyelids really helps that.  Maybe because it's antifungal, maybe because it's oily, maybe both.

Yesterday, I tripped while in the garden and fell down.  Everything went into slow-motion as I went down, and I swore I heard that Million Dollar Man music as the fall unfolded right there before my eyes.  I mean, I was near a concrete-block garden bed border, had I fallen in that direction I'd have landed on those.  But I landed on the soft, newly-tilled earth in the bed, on the flats of my outstretched hands.  It didn't hurt when I landed.  As I look back on it, today, I was really glad that I'd thought to ask God for blessings and protection that morning.  Once on the ground, I was conscious of my surgical knee being straight and safe and not even so much as touching the ground.  I've been carrying around a sore shoulder for awhile and I was really worried about what I was going to feel like in the morning.  As evening wore on I felt worse and worse, and discovered that, in addition to my shoulder literally screaming at me, I had a sore neck and a jammed pinkie.  Well, I took two Aleve.  Had a hot bath with a scoop of Epsom salt in it.  Settled in on the couch with the icepack, which went on my shoulder first, then on the back of my neck.  Then I mixed some fennel oil into coconut oil and rubbed that on my shoulder, my neck, and my pinkie, to relax the muscles and ward off muscle spasms.  By that time I just went to bed.  Yikes.  Was I going to even be able to get out of bed in the morning??  But I woke up this morning feeling no worse and actually a little better.  Praise God! 

The last thing in the world that I want to do is to end up in the hospital, or having to have surgery to repair some kind of damage.  More and more, I am becoming afraid that I will come out with something worse than what I had when I went in.  We had been missing seeing one of our neighbors out and around lately and just found out he went in for open-heart surgery and ended up nearly dying from flesh-eating bacteria.  Kinda looks like he's not out of the woods yet, but he's home.  I knew that people who go to our local hospital can often come home with staph, but he was in a hospital in TULSA.  Yikes. 

It is imperative that older people take precautions to maintain their balance, to keep their muscle mass, to maintain a reasonably safe weight, and to get the proper nutrition.  It has been said that, when you are in the last twenty years or so of your expected lifespan, a fall that breaks something generally means you will end up dying.  Let me here say that, being a Christian, I'm not afraid of dying.  In fact, I'm looking forward to passing through that portal out of this world.  I really don't want to die in massive pain, though.  I don't want my family to have to take care of me and/or watch me just waste away.  I've told anybody that will listen: "Just pull the plug and let me go!!"  What I do dread is suffering.  And yes, I know I'm not going to have much choice in the matter.  Still, we should take care of ourselves, so we can be active, vital, and still know who we are and who our loved ones are, right down to the day of our demise.  If, one day, I just don't wake up, or, gosh, even if I get hit by a beer truck, given that it's sudden and is a decent brand, y'all can turn to each other and say I went like I wanted to. 

That's about all I have for this time.  Y'all rock on, and try like hell to live your best lives.  Hugs xoxoxo




Monday, February 6, 2017

Oklahoma Thinkin'


It's foggy here this morning.  Notice the geese in the air, behind the tree....

Supposed to get warm and I thought I might try to get out and do a few things if it does.  I just came in from having a little walk around the place, and I can see I've probably lost some things.
This is one of the apple trees in the back yard.  It's apparently full of termites and so the woodpeckers have been at it.  The tree dropped all its leaves earlier in the fall than usual and I'm not sure that it is even still alive now.  One of the ArborDay trees bought in 2010. 

This is my little Harry Lauder.  So far, so good.


This little pine hasn't fared as well, however.  Pretty sure this is deer damage.

This is one of the lilac transplants, buds are swollen and the bark is green.  Both are signs of life.

This is one of the hardy orange bushes.  I haven't had them long enough for them to fruit, but I think this one will be able to this year.  The oranges are small and very, very tart.

An up-close view of the wicked thorns.  Probably won't have deer damaging these.

 Some kind of perennial flower, I don't remember what, now, but doing fine under the jar.

Bamboo, being protected under a glass jar most of the time.  It was late in the season when I dug up the little plants.  Tried to grow them in a pot and they started looking bad, so I just put them in the cold frame and am hoping for the best.

Rhubarb, planted a year ago.

I always look, longingly, at those gardening shows on TV.  Everything's so neat.  There are no weeds, not even in the walkways.  If anything starts looking bad they just rip it out and put in a new one.  It's not quite the same way here.  I would love to have more talent in the landscape design department.  Found a new Oklahoma blog that made me pretty jealous.
http://www.potagerblog.com/

On Feb. 4th's telecast of Joe Lamp'l's Growing A Greener World, he was at the Thomas Jefferson Monticello gardens.
http://www.growingagreenerworld.com/monticello-thomas-jefferson/

By the way, there's lots to look at on this website, five pages of episodes. 

On the Monticello program, there was a method of horizontal support for tomato plants being used.  Worth a try this year, with a few modifications.  Last year I tried John Kohler's idea of planting five or six tomato plants biointensively in a pit and I had some success.  Certainly was easier to keep them watered, I didn't need to worry about the cages blowing over in the wind because I didn't need to use any, and I grew the same number of plants or more with enough space left in the garden to grow some other things I wouldn't have had room for otherwise.  But I found it hard to find the tomatoes as they came ready to pick, and it seemed like there was less yield, possibly from the plants shading each other too much during the flower stage.  I'm thinking if I use horizontal support, by strategically stacking concrete blocks (AKA "cinder blocks") around the edges and then a half of a stockwire panel resting flat on the blocks, across the open area, kind of like this:

I just went out there and threw this together impromptu, if you know what I mean, so I could visualize and demonstrate better.  You get the idea, right?  Use rope or cord or even wire to fasten the corners of the wire panel to a block, through the holes in the stockwire and the block, to keep the wind from blowing it and so on.  Would be able to pick under the wire from the sides, and also through the spaces between the wire.  There'd be maybe six or even eight tomato plants in the ground under the wire panel.   The plants can still grow thickly, but they can also grow up through the support and thus not be in such a tangle. 

While I'm at it, I might mention that I use a lot of stockwire panels in the garden.  They are so sturdy and they last forever.  When we're not using them we just wire them to the outside of the fence.  The main issue with stockwire panels is that it's hard to get them home from the farm and garden store.  A couple of years ago we bought a pair of bolt-cutters at Lowe's and that does a quick job of cutting the metal that those panels are made of.  I had the thought that next time we need to buy some, which will be this spring, I'll just bring our bolt cutters with me, and we'll cut them the size we need them to be, right there in the parking lot.  Then they'll fit in the back of the truck, with a little tying down at the ends.  I'm a real freak about tying things down that are in the back of the truck.  I don't even want to imagine the things that could happen to the car behind us if anything blew out. 

I was also thinking about how I might be able to use some of the PVC pipe we bought, quite some time ago.  I was intending to use it as "ribs" for a garden tunnel and I just couldn't figure out a good way to do it.  We are on rock out here, and every time I dig a hole, I have to take out a pile of rock.  I think the dang things FLOAT, because I swear I've dug out some of those spots before.  We even have trouble getting T-posts into the ground deep enough to fasten fencing to, where I want to grow climbing things.  Hubs put these T-posts in about three years ago and I noticed last fall one of the ends is trying to fall over.  I can't get it any further into the ground because NOW there's a rock in the way....

But, as I thought about using stacked concrete block as a way to hold down a horizontal piece of fencing or stock panel, it occurred that I might be able to tie the ends of a PVC pipe into the holes of a concrete block.  Might have to glue a connection piece to the ends of the pipe, to keep them from slipping out of the rope or cording used to tie them down.  But I think I can make this work, with a little tinkering.  I can't seem to grow squash for the squash bugs, or keep the worms from making lace out of some of my cabbages, and using row cover might be a solution since the problem starts with an innocent-looking little moth, laying eggs on the leaves.  Oh, yes, I've gone out there and picked off eggs till the cows come home.  I always miss some, and then that's the end of my potential crop. 

Speaking of cabbage worms, it seems to be all over Pinterest and other areas in Internetland, as well, that cabbage worms can be killed by dusting the cabbages with a half-and-half mixture of flour and baking soda.  I might give this a try, but I won't be making the same mistake I did when Ruth Stout recommended sprinkling salt on the cabbages.  This was an epic fail.  I ended up with a big brown damaged spot on every cabbage where the dew mixed with the salt and then the sun hit it.  Might work in a colder climate but I have no experience with that.  So any other popular remedy I use will be "tested" first, on just a few plants. 

Still trying to perfect my White Fly traps.  Just vinegar in water didn't attract any, at all.  I saw a different recipe for the bait that included sugar and dish soap.  So added those to the vinegar-water.  This is not a spray application.  It's a bait they are supposed to "feed" on, and fall into it in the process.

These dang insects are taking over the earth. 

I wanted to share something else with you that's probably a no-brainer for most people, but, DUH, not for me, I guess. 

I have, all my adult life, used bottled lemon juice on my salad, on fish, and occasionally I will make lemon desserts with it.  It's more convenient than trying to keep fresh lemons.  Also cheaper.  Recently, the bottle in the refrigerator went bad and I had to throw it out.  I mean, I have NEVER had this happen before.  So then, yesterday, when I made salad, I noticed there were all these particles floating around in the bottom of the NEW bottle.  What's up with that? 

The label says, "use by date on lid". 


060314?  Seriously?  Obviously, it's been sitting on the grocery store shelf for awhile.  Maybe this was just an isolated incident, but next trip to the store where I bought this bottle, I'm checking what the lids of the other bottles say, and I'll be showing them to the store manager if any have expired dates.  I actually need to be paying closer attention to those "sell by" dates, anyway.

While I was examining the label, trying to find the "sell by" date, I saw something else.  It said, "Contains lemon juice and other ingredients".  So then I looked at the back of the bottle.

Dammit.  Why haven't I been paying attention?

*Sigh*.  Guess I'll just go buy some lemons, juice them myself, and freeze the juice in an ice-cube tray.

Cookbook Review:
I've had this book for quite awhile, not sure why I hadn't looked it over thoroughly right after I got it.  Maybe it was during a time when I was distracted by the garden.  Not sure.

But I've been going through my books lately because they are starting a book drive at the workout center where Hubs and I go.  I love when they do this because they let us buy any of the books in the pile, on a donations basis, before they donate them to the people who hold the book sale, and I always find a few books I want.  I just love books, especially cook books, garden and herbal topics, so once I have them I'm hard pressed to turn loose of any of them.  But there are a few on my shelves that weren't as interesting as I thought they'd be when I bought them, or that had information in them that I've assimilated and some of this stuff, once you know it, you know it.  I've had some books that have been "fleshed out" so much by the author that, when I'm done reading them, I realize that the process could've been explained in one paragraph and the rest of the book was just.....  .....argumentative.  Ruth Stout's mulching book, for instance.  But anyway, I buy a lot of books at estate sales, where usually they are priced at a dollar or so apiece, so if they turn out to be boring or just not something I want to keep after I've read them, they are good candidates for the donations box and haven't cost me very much.  Everyone's tastes are different and some of the books that are found in estate sales are no longer easy to find, so it's a win-win. 

And yeah, I know, I can probably download almost any recipe I might want from the Internet.

This Country Beans book is a little different in that it's a use for beans that we don't really think of, at least I hadn't, much.  I mean, I knew beans contain "an incomplete protein", and to make it a complete protein, it needs to be eaten with some other plant protein, such as grain.  But I did not know that the other side of the protein doesn't have to be eaten during the same meal.  This book says, it doesn't even have to be eaten the same day.  It also talks about peas and cowpeas, and how rich they are in nutrients.  Until I saw Dr. Oz talking about how they're making calcium-rich milk replacement from green garden peas, I hadn't thought of green peas as being much more than just a starchy vegetable. 

Rita Bingham, the author, grinds beans in her Nutrimill.  I read the reviews on Amazon and there were people who mentioned they grind beans in their Magic Bullet blenders.  I'm hesitant to grind beans in my Nutrimill, myself, but if you decide to, do heed the warning that bean flour can gum up your grinding wheels and you can only do two cups at a time, following up with a grinding of wheat to clean off the wheels.  Here are the Amazon reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/1882314115/ref=acr_search_see_all?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=avp_only_reviews&showViewpoints=1
I had to laugh at the "hippie commune cooking" comment.  I wonder, every now and then, what kind of old people those hippies from the 1960's became?  Did they give in, and become part of the Establishment they could not trust?  Or are they living on the fringes, to this day?  Maybe they are the Preppers of today.  Heh.

Beans can also be cooked and mashed, or spun around in the food processor till they are a paste, and then added into breads, muffins, other things, if you reduce the other liquids a bit..  Some people said they are actually more nutritious if they are soaked for awhile before using.  But then, of course, you wouldn't dare run those through your NutriMill.  They'd need to be perfectly dry for that.  Quite some time ago I found this recipe for "Power Cookies" on Allrecipes.  It calls for cannellini beans and no flour whatsoever, but I've never made them because I haven't been able to find cannellini beans anywhere. 
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/20340/power-cookies/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%202
And, DUH, why didn't I just figure out that I could've used Great Northerns, or Baby Limas, or Black-Eye Peas, or any other white bean, or maybe even garden peas or some of the darker-colored beans like Pinto, for heaven's sake, and the nutritional bang would be the same?  I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person but you know, sometimes I just surprise myself how much I can miss by just not thinking about stuff. 

Rita even writes that you can add beans to almost any recipe that contains flour, by substituting 1/2 cup bean flour for the same amount of wheat flour in every two cups of flour.  If you have no way to grind beans into flour, just cook the beans, process into a paste, and reduce the amount of liquid called for in the recipe by a little bit.  Maybe increase the amount of beans to a cup of bean puree to allow for the difference between "flour" and "puree".  So, black beans in the next batch of brownies, anyone?  And this made me smile....  I thought of Oprah, and how she did that commercial saying, "I love bread," and how she could easily have someone make her some "Power Bread".  LOL

Those Paleo Diet folks are making flat breads from eggwhites, baking powder and coconut flour.  It takes the whites of a dozen eggs to make four large flatbreads, and you have to whip the eggwhites.  Not for me.  I wonder, though, for those of us who are just looking to increase protein, whether we couldn't use one of the muffin, bread, or "loaf" recipes given in Rita's bean book, but cook it like a pancake.  It turns out there are lots of recipes for such things if you do a search on the Internet using "bean pancake" as your search terms.  There are many to choose from but here's one found on Food.com:
http://www.food.com/recipe/oatmeal-bean-pancakes-436821#activity-feed

Somewhere, I read that whey protein, the kind in powder form that bodybuilders buy, can be used in some recipes in place of flour.  I'm still using the whey I bought to make shakes with but I'm beginning to wonder if having a shake every day is why I haven't been able to lose any weight.  Seems like progress stopped at about the same time I started that.

Well, this is about all I have for this time.  As usual, sorry for the dis-jointed writing style.  That's how you know it's me, right?  Heh. 

Y'all stay well, happy, healthy, and rockin' on.....  Hugs xoxoxo

Friday, February 3, 2017

Catch Up Time, Late Jan., Early Feb.

Hubs and I have not been leading very exciting lives these last several weeks.  We've had roller-coaster weather, such that all the lettuces, spinaches and kales that I wintersowed have already come up and now have to be baby-sat, out in the garage.  Hubs helped me move one of the light stands to the garage and keep them out there.  I bought another timer at Walmart so I wouldn't have to be remembering to run in and out of there to turn stuff off.  The garage is unheated but it's attached to the house, we go into it through a door in the hallway that we normally keep closed.  So, while it does get closer to the outside temperature than the rest of the house, it has never actually gotten cold enough to freeze anything.  Oklahoma weather's like a box of chok-lits.  You never know what you goan git. 

I've hurt my right shoulder, I think from overuse making those knitted dishcloths, and then ignoring it.  It had gotten pretty painful and I was looking it up on the internet, what causes it, exercises to do, finally started icing it and taking ibuprofen.  Hubs had a little hissy and said I ought to see somebody and make sure I didn't have anything serious going on.  I knew the doctors around here would be insisting on doing surgery and I'd end up having to go to Tulsa and get my shoulder replaced after they did their thing to me, because that's how doctors here build their business.  I won't reward a doctor for messing me up by going back TO THEM for the repair.  Plus, if you go to your GP, the knee-jerk reaction here is always to put the patient on Prednisone, and that stuff just melts my muscles and wears me out.  I've worked so hard to get at the level of health where I am and I just was not wanting to take any steps back.  So I made an appointment with a shoulder specialist at Eastern Oklahoma Osteopathic, and they were able to get me on the schedule quickly.  We made the trip to Tulsa yesterday.  It was cold but not rainy.  Seriously, you do not want to get caught in Tulsa when there's moisture on the roads, especially when it's also freezing.  You'd think, since it happens several times every winter, people would know how to drive in it, but they do not.  Tulsa has so many hills that they get stuck every time they have to stop.  Don't ask how I know.  I really liked this doctor, he looked at the xrays they did and said he could tell there was a lot of swelling and inflammation but he wouldn't know if I had a torn place without getting an MRI.  He gave me several options and when I asked him what he would do if it was his shoulder and he said he'd get a Cortisone shot in the joint, and do some physical therapy, and see how it went.  I found that soooo refreshing to have him not be trying to build up his business at the expense of my medicare and my well-being. 

I had the shot, and seriously, I thought I was going to faint, it was so painful.  Then I was sent to Physical Therapy to get a sheet of exercises demonstrated to me and some stretchy bands to do them with it.  It's on my chart that it's an hour's drive from my home so they trust me to follow instructions at home.  A follow-up in a month.  I'm supposed to start feeling much better within two or three days of the shot and can start the exercises then.  It's obvious that working in the garden is not enough strength training for me and so I need to do more than just walking and bicycling at the workout center.  I have the yellow bands to start exercises with and when that gets easy there are red ones.  When that gets easy I'll take the exercise sheet up to the workout center and show it to Jason.  Maybe he can show me a machine I can use instead of tying those bands to a doorknob here at home.

While we were in Tulsa, we stopped at a health-food store called Natural Grocers.  Carole told me there's one going up in Joplin.  I had never heard of them so I researched and found two in Tulsa.  They look a lot like Whole Foods.  What I liked about them was that they sell 50# bags of organic whole wheat flour for $64.  I'd be hard-pressed to find it at that price anywhere else.  They keep it in the refrigerator case and I'd recommend repackaging it into ice-cream containers or ziplock bags, whatever you have, and freezing it.  We have friends that buy ice-cream at Walmart that comes in rectangular containers and they save the containers for me.  I use them for lots of things and that's what I use when I freeze-treat my newly-bought wheat berries, and then vacuum-seal them in half-gallon glass jars.  Most people don't know that flour loses its vitamins and minerals, just sitting out, which is why grocery store flour is enriched with artificial stuff.  It's shelf stable, and that's about the only nice thing I can think to say about it.  Oh, and reasonably cheap, still better to buy and make bread with than to buy grocery store bread, which has all kinds of stuff you wouldn't expect.  Be sure to turn the loaf over and read the label ingredients, you'll see....  It's even better to buy wheat berries, if you can find them, because they hold onto all their good stuff till they're ground into flour, if you store them well. 

They also sell packages of "ugly produce" at marked-down prices.  It's still organic, just mis-shapen and unattractive.  But that's how they come out of the garden sometimes and we shouldn't get so hung-up on perfect-looking produce, since it usually requires chemical assistance and/or the loss of profit from the ones that aren't pretty so often gets absorbed in the price of the ones that do pass inspection. 

I wanted to share with you my wheat grass experiment. 

I planted some of the wheat berries that I grind for our bread.  It is Turkey Red, originally from the Ukraine.  I think I've written about it before, along about the time we went to pick it up from the family in Coffeyville, KS that grows it.

The first thing is that I apparently didn't plant them close enough.  To end up with a good stand of wheat grass, I guess I would have to cover the surface of the soil with them.  I thought, at the time, I was planting them too close.  I have no experience with this.  Though sometimes birds will "plant" an occasional wheat berry and I'll find the plants in strange places.  Sometimes I just wish I could find out where these birds have been.  Could be anywhere, actually.

The white stuff is perlite, which I spread on top of the seeds to keep them damp while they germinated.  That was kind of an experiment, too. 

In the above picture, I have cut the top two or three inches off the grass because I wanted to process it and taste.  It's better, I found, to cut them in 1/2" pieces before putting them in the blender, as they tend to wrap themselves around the blades if they are long.  Also I added a little filtered water because, fresh, they just wanted to "gum up the works".

This looks very much like the Ceremonial Green Tea that Dr. Oz made, several programs ago.  When he drank it, he said, "Hmmmmm.  Earthy."  What I said when I drank wheatgrass juice was, "Hmmmmmm.  Yuk."  Maybe I'd say that same thing if it had been Dr. Oz's green tea, as it was a strong chlorophyll taste, and that's the stuff that makes things that healthy-looking green.  And not sure if the tea would have been, but the wheat grass had a bitter taste.  In my research, I read that foods that cleanse the liver should have a bitter taste.  Like dandelion greens, for instance.  So I mixed some of the Wheat Grass Tea with my regular cup of green tea, and I was able to drink it that way.  What remained, I refrigerated and dumped into my next banana smoothie.  That made a green drink that, after one quick look, Hubs shook his head and rolled his eyes.  He thinks I'm a crazy woman.  However, he takes prescriptions, daily, that I wouldn't take.  For one thing, horribly expensive.  For another, hard on the body and full of side-effects that sound a lot worse than the malady they're supposed to treat.  I don't interfere in what Hubs chooses as his method of healthcare.  I slip in a little information when the opportunity presents itself and he watches Oz with me.  But he is difficult to change.  He doesn't eat as much sugar as he used to, because I don't bake all the time like I used to.  We keep fruit on hand.  Apples, bananas, oranges when we can get nice ones for less than a king's ransom, berries, peaches and plums in season, and some that I have canned or packed away in the freezer.  I have finally convinced him to quit eating that fake-food "wheat bread" and now he actually is busy spreading the word about how much healthier 100% whole wheat, grown locally, is.  It makes me smile.  He has celiac in his family and three siblings have had celiac and died.  High blood pressure also runs in his family.  (Unmarried women, heed a little advice:  before you fall in love with and marry a man, look very carefully at his family.  They do this, secretly, to find out what we're going to look like when we've aged a little, so don't feel guilty about it.)  Back many years ago when we didn't know he could get his meds hrough the Veteran's Administration for much less, we were spending $500 a month for them.  Gotta tell ya, that was just overwhelming.  When the Feds announced the roll-out of drug insurance plans, we were really excited but then disappointed.  The monthly premium was very high and didn't EVER pay very much, so we found ourselves getting double-dipped.  Once by the drug industry, again by the insurance industry.  I take no prescription medications and doctors are always surprised whenever I say that.  I do have high cholesterol, but I have blood pressure that is very good. I don't see it as a big risk for me, considering that taking the meds is such a big risk. Plus, they keep fiddling with those numbers and I'm not convinced that anybody's cholesterol needs to be as low as they say.  I suspect they're just busy marketing statin drugs.  I took Lipitor for a very short time, hadn't been told I wasn't supposed to drink grapefruit juice with it, and had the first of many impressive muscle spasms in my back.  If you like grapefruit juice, please do check to see what drugs it interacts with.  You'll thank me later.  I limped away from statin drugs (AND grapefruit juice!) then and I will not go back.  Although my doctor did not believe Lipitor caused what happened to me, I believe it did.  And it's something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life now, off and on.  I have not had full-blown spasms since I retired almost ten years ago, but I've come close.  I can feel them coming on and that's when I slap on the heating pad and drink a nice glass of wine.  I'm not particularly fond of wine, it has to be sweet or it feels like drinking vinegar to me.  And really, I'd just rather drink grape juice and/or diluted raw apple cider vinegar.  But I need the alcohol component to relax my muscles.  I don't think I have to worry about being an alcoholic.  I couldn't stay awake long enough, for one thing.  My mother's dad was an alcoholic, and my mother would not drink because she said she loved the taste and was afraid she would get addicted.  Whatever else I might say about my mother, I would have to admit that she was, about many things, very smart.  They say if alcoholics cannot get alcohol, they want sugar.  Mom had a terrible addiction to sugar and chocolate. 

Aldi had Brussels sprouts on sale last week and I bought some.  They were quite large and very dark green.  The ones that most grocers sell, frozen in 16-oz bags, are at least half the size, and they are sweet and quite delicious when cooked lightly in a little butter.  These.....  not so much.  There was a bitter component.  But hey.  Good for the liver, eh?  I have ended up being the one to eat them, as Hubs doesn't like them and is probably turned off even the small ones now, after tasting these.  He is not adventuresome at all.  If it's not corn, green beans, okra or peas, it's not a vegetable worthy as a side-dish.  I have been able to get him to eat cooked carrots if they are mixed with peas.  And he's decided he likes cabbage if it is fresh out of the garden and sautéed lightly with butter or bacon fat.  The only way he'll eat squash is if it's sliced, dredged in flour, and fried in oil.  He'll eat sweet peppers if they are cooked with onion and mixed into other ingredients, like in Sweet And Sour Pork, and slipped into certain ground-beef dishes. 

When I make salad, I have to add things I like after I've taken out enough for Hubs' simple salad of anemic head lettuce, red tomato and maybe some shredded carrot.  I feel like he's really missing out on a great salad.  To my salad, I add chopped cucumber, sweet or green onion, summer squash, red or yellow sweet peppers, raw or frozen peas, spinach, kale, cabbage, other leafy greens if I have them, sprouts or plant thinnings if I have them, drained cooked black turtle beans if I have them, peeled and sliced Jerusalem artichoke, seeds such as sunflower, amaranth, sesame, or chia, or nuts such as pecans, slivered almonds, cashews or English walnuts.  Now, THAT's a salad.  And a full, power-packed meal, in itself.  Annnnnnd, plenty of extra to have for the next several days as long as I put the wet stuff in the bottom or save it to add right before eating.  I don't generally use a salad dressing.  Maybe a spritz of cider vinegar or lemon juice.  Salt and pepper.  Hubs has to have KRAFT Thousand Island and my attempts to make something like it have failed so often that I've just given up.  So he pays $3 for a little bottle of artificial flavors, colors, and corn syrup, and ruins his crappy little salad, to my mind...... 

On a recent Dr. Oz show, I found out that peas are high in protein and in calcium, as well.  They even have a milk substitute made from peas.  He did a taste test of some of the milk replacements on that show, and had dairy farmers there, in their overalls and flannel shirts, to do the sampling.  It was entertaining.  Yeah, no milk replacement competes with real milk, but if the food industry doesn't quit tinkering with it, at least there might be some alternatives. I'm going to be using more peas and I'll grow them in larger amounts from now on.  I don't have very good germination sometimes but I bought some Pea and Bean Booster at Tractor Supply.  It contains Bradyrhizobium sp., Rhizobium phaseoli and Rhizobium leguminosanum biovar viceae.  Always check the expiration date.  I also realize I've been composting some really good healthy stuff in those pea pods.  Might experiment with whirring them around in the food processor or blender, or juicing them, and then freezing that juice in ice cube trays to be used instead of plain ice in smoothies.  Here's information about peas:
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/green-peas.html

Hubs thinks he's eating a "Chef's Salad" if I add chopped hard-boiled egg, grated cheddar cheese and maybe some shredded rotisserie chicken or chopped ham to his.  I don't like meat in my salad so in that case I don't put it on mine.  Some people will add pickles or pickled beets but I'm not a fan.  But I've been reading about what a super food beets are and I do like beets as a side-dish, hot OR cold.  I'm thinking maybe I could get used to some chopped cooked beets in my salad, too.  Not pickled, though.  I don't have any from the garden but I picked up some plain canned beets during the last trip to Homeland.  I've already opened one of the cans and ate the whole thing for a snack.  Even drank the juice!  I was disappointed to find out Aldi stores don't stock them. 

I didn't raise picky kids, where food is concerned.  I asked Hubs to keep his food preferences to himself where the kids were concerned, when we were raising them, because I didn't want them growing up with such limited tastes.  Kids will like a lot of things as long as somebody's not sitting in front of them saying, "I don't like this, I don't like that."  I try to be nice to picky kids, but seriously.  One kid that was at my house at mealtime said he didn't like grilled cheese sandwiches, which was what I was making for his sister and my grandsons at the time, so I asked him if he liked peanut butter and he said he did.  So I made him a peanut-butter sandwich.  "No jelly..." he said.  Well allrightie then.  Made the mistake of using crunchy peanut butter, which was all I had, and he took one bite and then sat there behind the remains of the sandwich and the crusts he tore off it.  I looked at him and he smiled, like he thought he was just adorable, and said, "I don't eat peanut butter with seeds......"  I seriously don't know WHAT that kid ate at home.  He was being raised by his grandmother and when I told her about what happened, she laughed and thought it was cute.  I didn't.

I guess everybody's groaning about Amazon's new method of collecting sales tax from us when we buy something through them.  This just really disappoints me because I don't think it's fair.  I mean, My mother bought a lot of things by mail order when I was growing up, and I have, too, over the years.  Most of the catalogs I get in the mail do not collect sales tax.  I believe the rule is, if they do not have a facility in your state, you don't have to pay sales tax on their goods.  This sales tax savings helps make up for the fact that you might have to pay shipping costs to some of these vendors.  But anyway, Amazon doesn't have anything in my state and so I think they should be able to fall under that rule.  I kind of think they'll all start looking at mail-order vendors now that they've been able to bully Amazon, and they'll all have to make the change. 

Amazon is big business and because they don't have a brick-and-mortar store, they don't have the costs involved in running stores, or keeping up a store building and a parking lot.  They also don't have to deal with shop-lifters.  So when they incur less costs, they can afford to offer merchandise at lower prices.  We enjoy that, and the ability to compare various vendors, and the reviews from people who have bought the product before, and the convenience of being able to order stuff while we sit in the privacy of our own home, at any hour of the day.  But we have to have electronics and the internet to access them.  So that's an expense we incur.  Most people use their electronics for a lot more than shopping and so it's not a noticeable expense.  There's the shipping expense, too, but Amazon has free two-day shipping on lots of things and same-day shipping if you pay the annual fee for their Prime version, which also offers price breaks on certain things.  But the thing about shipping is, somebody has to pay for it.  And our government postal service sometimes benefits from that.  It makes up for the fact that we're not hardly writing any letters anymore, or getting our bills in the mail.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm boycotting Amazon.  I feel like they should've fought this instead of just rolling over and setting a precedent that might affect a lot of little people down the road.  Plus the post office is already in trouble, they keep having to increase their postage prices, and they're caught in a price war with some of those package delivery services that, when they first came into being, were very, very expensive.  They've gotten the business down to a science now and have been able to reduce their costs and pass some of that savings on, so now they are in direct competition with our government postal service, which routinely increases prices.  The gap has been rapidly closing.  Amazon is now looking at drone delivery and I'm not sure I'm very happy about that.  Drones can carry all kinds of things, including bombs and cameras.  So how do you know, when they're buzzing around overhead, whether they're good guys or bad guys?  Scares me.  I don't guess I could even have Hubs shoot them out of the air, if they got over our house, because they'll probably have cameras on them that transmit back to Amazon.  But it gives me dark pleasure to think about it.

I also have concerns about the presence of knock-offs from China in Amazon stock, and I have heard that many times they are marketed as the real thing, so you can't tell.  I think this might be happening to New Balance shoes sold on Amazon because in the last two or three years I've noticed a real decline in their quality.  The shoes already run so narrow that I have recently started getting them in wide, like Hubs has always done for his shoes.  But recently I compared the soles of a pair that I got in a wide width with an old pair, same style, but in average width, because I thought the tops of the shoes were kind of puffy in the wide width.  Well, guess what?  The soles are the same width.  Also Hubs has been having trouble with the tops coming loose around the edges where they are glued to the soles.  So, it's time to either change vendors or brands, depending on where the problem actually lies.

I like to use Amazon for used books and lately I've found some places that might be good options here:
http://www.alibris.com/
https://www.abebooks.com/books/used-books.shtml
http://www.thriftbooks.com/

There might be lots of others worth looking at.

That's about all I have to share this time, but maybe it'll be enough to get your wheels a-turnin'.  I could do a whole political post about now, because there are a lot of things going on that are just scaring me to death, and I'm just in awe over how a man that's supposed to be so smart absolutely has no control over the things that fall out of his mouth, but maybe soon some of those high-IQ folks he's hiring for his cabinet will be able to find some way to modify this without losing their jobs.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Y'all stay safe, comfy, happy, well and healthy....  Hugs xoxoxo