Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hooray for Tuesdays!

Tuesday is not a work day for me.  It is the day that most typifies the life I was hoping for in retirement!  Hubby and I start our Tuesday by going to the library.  Nothing screams old folks like going to the library the same day every week!  We come home and have a light lunch and then I go to my women's Bible study.  This truly is just a wonderful two or three hours.  Our little group has become very close and we pray for each other during the rest of the week, then we come together and visit and study and share our prayer requests and then we go back to our own homes, refreshed and strengthened.  I keep a prayer journal and it is amazing the wonderful and special answers to prayer.  If you have a thought that your prayers are not being answered I highly recommend a journal for them.  I was feeling just a little unheard a couple of years ago and was encouraged by an older saint to keep a journal of my prayers, what an eye opener!  Now I can look back through the journal and encourage myself when I feel a little down.  I see the things I was praying for a year or two ago and am so blessed to be able to put the answer in the journal as it occurs, of course some of the answers were not what I expected but they were answers!  Also having friends praying for you is such a comfort, I am sure that sometimes I can feel a warmth in the midst of a trial and know a friend is praying for me, sometimes a friend will call and ask if I or a family member are ok as she was moved to pray for me, and it will be the same time I was going through a trial.  We pray for our church, our country and our leaders - and the world needs more prayer! 

I look at the things that are going on in the world and am so saddened.  I have always followed politics - my Dad taught political science and government - and enjoyed the debate and the back and forth.  It really is no longer about politics, I almost can't watch the news.  There are so many examples recently of people who have no moral compass!  The three boys in Oklahoma who shot the Australian student because "they were bored" - my parents never let me be bored!   The two guys who beat the WWII vet to death because he "fought back against the attack and angered them"!   With all that is going on in the world today is Miley Cyrus really the top story?  Is no one paying attention?  Where are the adults, what are the parents doing out there?  Has anyone wondered what the world will look like in ten years when these uneducated, thrill seeking, youtube posting punks are old enough to vote? 

So on Tuesdays I go to my friends house, sit down with my spiritual sisters and pray for the world.  It helps me remember that I don't have to worry - God is in control, everything has a purpose, even if I don't understand it.  It reminds me that I need to do my part, to help and mentor, and work with young people who might not know that this behavior is wrong.  I have a responsibility to share my faith and live my faith. I remember to be thankful for the blessings that I have received and I am reminded again how fortunate I am - it isn't about money it is about joy! It reminds me that I have read the end of the book and God wins!

I feel better - I thought I'd share.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Egad!  Somehow a whole week has gone by without a blog post - and I had been doing so well.  There really is no excuse - I have been busy and tired and I have 2 books to finish before Tuesday library day and ....did I really say no excuses?  I seem to have a ton of them! 

Here is how the week looked....
An old Hidden Valley cruet makes a lovely home for the 'sun' dried tomatoes and sprigs of fresh oregano and rosemary in olive oil.

Several more jars of zucchini jam (raspberry flavor this time) along with tomato sauce and pickles in the background.

Dehydrated herbs in pretty jars plus more tomatoes this time diced.

Since I couldn't grow my own dill this year, I had searched for it at the stores and kept 'just missing' it - finally stopped at the the Farmers Market in the next town over and found they have a contract for dill during canning season and it was beautiful and smelled wonderful.  I will make dill pickles until it starts looking limp and then I will dehydrate the 'leaves'.

 I now have 240 squares for the centers of my curtains in the kitchen. (decided on a rail fence pattern) I am going to go ahead and use regular batting as none of the double knit I have on hand is light enough in color to use.  I think the batting will still give it the ability to keep out the cold/heat that would normally come in through the windows and hopefully hang nicely as well.

I have read every Terry Brooks fantasy novel written and so was very excited to find the conclusion to the last trilogy at the library on the 'new book' cart.  When I looked for the second book in the series - I had already read the first - the library didn't have it, I had to put it on order, it finally came in but the last book has to go back on Tuesday, no renewal since it is a 'new book', so I must force myself to read rather than to do housework and stuff.  Yeah Hubby laughs when I say that sort of thing too!

Last but not least, since this will eventually ruin my eyesight, the monks cloth throw is getting its first flower (imagine a pink carnation with green leaves) I am thinking of ways to scan the pattern and blow it up for my bifocal requiring eyes!  :)  This project will become more fun as the weather cools off and I quit looking for ways to put the bulk of the material somewhere other than my lap or legs!

The youngest son and wife, and middle son  (single) are coming to visit in September so I am feeling a little pressure to finish a few niggling projects like the curtains, painting the 'privy pantry' and finishing the bathroom flooring.  They have not been up here yet so we will have fun whether I finish projects or not and they are not coming to inspect my painting skills.  I will still try to get it all done.

Resolving once again to do better and keep up.....!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another Disillusion!

My hubby grows the tomatoes.  He has for years, even when we had a container garden, and he is expanding now to the raised bed.  He just does it better than me.  He started his tomato growing with the hot pepper growing and you guessed it he LOVES salsa.  I apparently have something known as a "girl" mouth and cannot take even a whiff of heat without complaining and my tongue will burn for hours after a trip to a Mexican food restaurant.  When the tomato harvest gets going he will make his salsa and then I get all the tomatoes that are leftover for eating, canning and cooking.  I have sauce to can on the stove currently and I have the dehydrator going with tomato wedges on it.  This last is the source of my latest disillusionment.

I thought to myself  "what other interesting thing can I do reasonably easily with tomatoes?"  Sun dried tomatoes popped into my head - I love these in a little olive oil on a flatbread with feta cheese, or on my fake pizzas with pesto sauce and -  well, you get the picture.  So I turned to my favorite cookbook - Google - looking for recipes for sun dried tomatoes and there it was.....The United States Department of Agriculture which is responsible for food safety and the nutritional labels and making sure that if it says sugar free it is sugar free, these same people do not require 'sun dried tomatoes' to be sun dried, they are dehydrated in huge plants!   I understand there are bugs and rain and such but really! They shouldn't be allowed to put pictures in my head of Italian hillsides and Mediterranean sunshine and rows of tomatoes slowly shriveling up while soaking up the....... it's just wrong somehow.  I should have known I suppose but I guess I thought that was why they were so expensive.  HA!  Now I feel even better about the little wedges in the dehydrator (just like the expensive store bought brand!)  slowly turning into 'sun dried' tomatoes - I did keep the dehydrator outside on the porch during the hottest part of the afternoon.  One more step in my ongoing war against processed foods!   Steps toward more honest eating!  (mildly dramatic yes?) I'm thinking I may just call them sun dried tomatoes so people won't be confused!  :) 
I will post pics when they are done as well - so far this is really easy, I left the skins on and cut into wedges, mostly romas but some of the slicers, squeezed out the extra juice - into the sauce pot - and put them on the trays about an inch or two apart.  This photo is at 7 hrs in.

My cousin sent me a photo of the weekend corn fest at my Aunts house, my Mom and Grandma went to help and between the weekend and yesterday they froze 201 quarts of sweet corn and gave away bags of ears to anyone who would take it!  They plant several rows of sweet corn since they have a large acreage that they have farmed for years - these days they rent out the arable land but still have a huge garden.  They really are very self sufficient with the deer and the turkeys on the place and several ponds they can fish from.
Lord willing Grandma will be 101 in September!

Cousin Kailey says even if you're 100 they still make you work here!

The camp stoves are set up for blanching and the boys just keep picking!

It looked and sounded like a good time was had by all and proved that anything goes quicker if you can laugh and visit!  I sure miss my Mom!


Monday, August 12, 2013

The 'Kick Me' List

There has been much conversation about 'bucket lists' since the movie came out - it was a good movie, I enjoyed it and I have a nebulous, in my head sort of bucket list of my own.  What I'm curious about today is- am I the only one with an 'anti' bucket list?  I call it my 'kick me' list.  Items get on the list sort of like this - "If I ever tell you I want to do ______ again please kick me!"  I should probably be embarrassed that my kick me list is exponentially longer than my bucket list.  Quite frankly the bucket list was also more fun to assemble and is more fun to contemplate!  You have probably realized that the kick me list does not even pop into my head until I find myself uttering the words "if I ever"....

I bought a piece of Monks cloth, sewed the edges, washed according to instructions and then needed to finish the edges somehow.  I thought I would like a knotted fringe.  I was right I do like it.  The cloth is 6 foot by 4 foot. Do you have any idea how many knots that is at a knot every 4 thread groups?  Note to self - next time make the fringe longer (short fringe is incredibly time consuming to tie).  I will tell you how long this took, I watched the BBC - History of the English Language 7 part series on you tube with no commercial interruptions....6 hours!  My index finger and my thumb are sore from rolling each group into a single strand to then tie in a knot!  It does look good though and I am glad it is ready - I am going to do counted cross-stitch flowers on it and it will be a throw for the chair or couch in front of the wood stove.  (sigh....this is how I wind up trying these things in the first place!)

Ready to go!

I am certain that I will add more items in the future!  Oh well!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Crock Dills

I know I said sweet pickles for the next post but I am still trying to figure out how to do the post on those as they take 11 to 12 days and maybe I'll just wait till it's all done and make it one post, I'm thinkin' on it!
In the meantime, I will share the pickles I have been eating all week, this is another of those 'summer memory' foods.

Grandma made pickles or cucumber salad with most of her cucumbers but she had so many plants that quite a few of the cukes would get too big for pickle jars, these were the crock dill cukes and we all waited with baited breath till these were ready.  I will share that there are several of these comfort foods that you must have to be born to to like, as my Mom and my Aunt C (married Daddy's brother) neither one ever developed a taste for some of these foods that we who grew up with them dream of!  These taste a lot like the pickles you get at a kosher deli, and they probably are similar as they are essentially a brine pickle. 

Crock Dills
Place 1 bunch of dill in bottom of crock (hence the name - seriously) (a large glass bowl will work), then put washed cucumbers almost to the top of the crock, leaving room for another bunch of dill.

Boil together 1 gallon water and 1 cup canning or picking salt, let cool and pour over cucumbers. Ready to eat in two or 3 days!

 PS: Put a plate upside down on top of the cucumbers and weigh down with a clean rock on top!  (Somewhere in the move I have lost my nice, round, smooth, clean rock that I used for this sort of thing so am using a jar of water.  Have to find another good rock!)

As you remove crock dills you can add cucumbers back in to keep going for awhile – Slime and mold are signs to change the water and dill, but a little haziness is ok!  For some reason the second batch of cucumbers in the brine is always better!  (the first batch is always a little salty and the second a little mellower to me)   These are easy and we used to eat them wrapped in a slice of fresh bread - Yum! 

I tried to plant dill 3 times this year and lost it to bugs, mystery disease and never sprouting, so was forced to use the dill they sell at the store and it worked but it is better with fresh. I'm hoping the local grocery will be carrying the big stalks again this year so I can put up some regular dills yet this summer.  

This guy came to visit the other morning when we were in the garden, he lives with the neighbor behind  us, they said he just showed up one day and decided to stay!  He comes to visit now and then, he may just get tired of listening to the chickens back there! 
He is so pretty - when the sun hits his feathers just right that iridescent blue/green is just beautiful!  I think he knows it though, he always seems arrogant to me!  (I may be doing just a little anthropomorphizing here!)

                                                                            You just never know what will happen around here!  :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Corn and Marmalade....not together!

I went out to the garden this morning to see how many cucumbers  there were that were still small enough for my sweet pickles, checked the corn and it seemed like some was ripe and a couple of stalks were dying after the big wind so I went along my row of 15  or so corn stalks and 13 ears were ripe (some a little overripe), found quite a few little 'gherkin' size cucumbers, a couple of monster zucchinis (AKA - courgette in the UK- isn't the internet wonderful? I have learned a new word!), a couple of crooknecks/summer squash, pulled another onion for dinner, a few grape and mini tomatoes (the big ones are orange - I am sooo looking forward to sliced tomato! Does anyone else eat slices with salt, pepper and sugar on them?), and several of hubby's cayenne and Thai hot peppers and a big bell pepper, a couple of still small carrots and the last two cabbages!  Oh and one bean!  Seems my bush beans are working on the next round and my pole beans are still making pretty flowers, silly things.  Feeling quite rich today!  Tired tonight however as I then spent the bulk of my day standing up at the counter.  Got 5 more pints of kraut, started the 11 day sweet pickles (I am taking pics, next post will start that process) think it will put up 4 pints, and used up those apparently camouflaged zucchinis (do I just need new glasses?) in zucchini marmalade (Hubby calls this ambush jam - something about sneaking in the zucchini!) and froze some shredded zucchini for bread later on.  Tonight we ate corn on the cob!  It was butter dripping down your chin good! 

Hubby was taking photos for his Facebook page and arranged them all so nicely for us!

Today's recipe then is zucchini marmalade, I have seen this in several places on the net always just a hair different,  this recipe is from my great Aunt Annie, it was handwritten by Grandma on a slip of paper stuck in the marmalade section of her 1940's Kerr canning book.  I am not yet in the habit of 'filming' my life so forgot to take pics of the process, but it is incredibly easy and I think it will be OK. 

You will need:
Zucchini - 6 cups
Sugar - 6 cups
Lemon juice - 2 Tbsp
crushed pineapple - 12 oz can
Jello - 6 oz box -  really any flavor -  I used orange for this batch

Grate the zucchini - (a dark colored jello you can leave on the peel, I peeled these for the orange jello its up to you on the visuals of it and whether or not you are hiding the veggies!) 

add the sugar
(note: I have made this with sugar free jello and 3 cups sugar, or it will work with sugar free jello and the splenda equivalent according to my diabetic friend)

In a large pot, boil zucchini and sugar for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to bottom, the zucchinis will be translucent and the syrup a little greenish at this point.
add 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
and one 12 oz. can of crushed pineapple,  juice and all
boil 5 more minutes

remove from heat and stir in one 6 oz pkg jello mix (I have used raspberry and orange both are awesome), stir well,
ladle into hot jars
water bath for 5 minutes

This is just yummy on toast or biscuits!  It's a pretty good imitation of marmalade without all the work and you can tell yourself its healthy because it has veggies in it!  It even looks like the real thing!

The quart jar is not quite full so it goes in the fridge for me to start on right away.  Hubby has a zucchini phobia so it is 'Mine all Mine'!!!  (maniacal laugh here)  Of course now I'm hungry - toast and jam for my pill time snack. 

Feeling blessed this evening - all of this bounty!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

This 'n' That

Bits and pieces running through my head tonight, so I'll share.

Had a bad storm come through the area day before yesterday and lots of folks lost tree branches and parts of roofs. We were fortunate we only lost power for a short time and our trees are all where they are supposed to be (not on our roof!). However my corn looks silly, it all blew over and now is propped up on the back fence, maybe it just looks tired! The neighbor in front of us had a huge branch fall on their car and knock out the windshield and dent the hood. You could count the rain drops we had on two hands I think! Strange storm.

Idaho attracts environmentalists and animal activists. We have the debate about wolves and elk, we have had several bear incidents lately where people have found themselves face to face and either shot a bear or been injured by one. A man actually was taken to court because he shot a grizzly bear in his back yard where his kids were playing! This brings out the folks who need to 'monitor' us hicks to make sure we are not doing things to hurt the wildlife! One of the folks who are here to monitor the wildlife got bitten by a grizzly – he will be fine – it just made me laugh out loud - it's probably a character flaw and I will work on it, just as soon as I can breathe again!

Our youth pastor is in India on a mission trip till Monday, his wife is in the hospital as the baby decided to come now instead of in 3 weeks. Heck of a way to find out how the rest of your life is going to be now that you have children!  :)

My grandma has had another TIA type stroke and the left side of her body is affected. My mom is with her and has been since January, Grandma is fading, she knows where she is going and she is ready to get there. At nearly 101 she is just about the last of her generation, she has lots of friends and Grandad waiting for her, this is hard for my mother to go through and there is nothing I can do other than pray for them. (Grrrr!) How fortunate I am to have had grandparents for so long. My children have had multiple great grandparents until recently! Now they are down to one grandma and one great grandma. What a legacy they have enjoyed!

We have been talking for awhile about having insulated curtains on all the windows to keep the heat out in the summer and the heat in in the winter. They kitchen/dining are the last ones and we finally bit the bullet and bought the material for the kitchen ones, they are the last ones that still have curtains I cobbled together from my stash! I am going to try and 'quilt' curtains – got several fabrics and am going to try a zig zag pattern, white muslin on the back. I am debating what to line them with, thinking I may use some of the very old polyester double knit I have been given if it won't show through. That stuff is the best insulator! I have a polyester quilt grandma made and it has no batting in it and its the warmest quilt ever – can't believe we used to wear so much of it! Only one problem with it though, polyester is like Tupperware – it never wears out so you never get new!

That's it maybe now I can sleep - just need to get it all gone through!

Isn't it funny how much random 'stuff' just runs through our heads!? Ahh life!