Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's Winter...

It's Minnesota.  It's 6 degrees below zero this morning.  Am I surprised?  Nope.  Am I grateful that I don't need to get out in the cold?  You betcha!

After Christmas is when I settle in for a few months of sewing, quilting, crocheting or scrapbooking.  I don't go out to celebrate the New Year.  It seems as though folks around here feel obligated to over indulge in adult beverages on that occasion.  I don't drink any more.  So I find that I'm happier just being home.  The cat will celebrate with some tuna - the dog with a taste of whatever I fix myself for supper that night - and we are all happy.

Some of my kids know that I want to make two or three new quilts this winter.  So a couple of gift cards for Joann Fabrics appeared in my Christmas stocking.  Or taped to my box of chocolate covered cherries!  I dislike shopping.  I have never understood women who consider shopping as entertainment.  I'm more of a get in, find what is on my list and get out kind of shopper.  Except when it comes to fabric stores.  Then you might as well go find a place to sit and be comfortable, because it will take me some time.  Along with the cards was the promise of transportation to and from Joann's.  This is gonna be fun!

And my kids know that I am working on restocking my supply of home canned meat, so a gift card for my local grocery was also taped to the candy box.  That will go a long way toward filling my shelves.  I know there are some who think that gift cards are impersonal.  Not me.  When a couple of my kids asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I replied that I wanted their time.  I explained that I have a small apartment.  I don't have room for extra "stuff."  What I really would like was if they could take the time to ferry me to the fabric store or to the grocery to buy the things I wanted to get at those two stores.  At present a bus ride to shop is out of the question as my legs are giving me problems.  But I can manage a short car ride.  So I wanted their time.  The gift cards were a bonus, bless their hearts.

Youngest daughter asked me the same question, and for her, the answer was different.  I wanted framed graduation photos of both of her children.  And they delivered!



Chris' graduation was a couple of years ago and Nicki graduates this spring.  I love grandkid pictures.  And I find it hard to believe that they are both grown up.  Both were just babies when I moved back to Minnesota and now both are taller than I am.  I am so proud of the people they have become.

So I'm off to go through my quilt books and the patterns I have stored on my computer and to make a list of fabrics I need for the patterns I choose.  And decide on any other crafty supplies I need for other projects.

Because once my little shopping trips are done, I don't plan to stick my nose out the door until spring!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time for Elves to Go Home

The elves are nearly ready to go back to the North Pole until next year.  I hear from reliable sources that my Grands have been pretty good so there will be no coal in their Christmas stockings.

Personally, I think the elves are headed home because they have run out of places to hide!

Chippy and Daisy found the Blessings Jar.


I wonder just what is in Santa's Ho Ho Ho drink that kept Chippy and Daisy warm while hiding out in the fridge?!


I know it is silly, but I look forward to their appearance every Christmas Season.
Their antics make me smile.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Elf

This morning I read a report from Drudge that stated the "Elf on the Shelf" conditions children to believe that spying is OK.  Really?  How incredibly paranoid we have become.

I don't recall anyone ever accusing Santa Claus of spying all those years ago when parents told their children that Santa knew if they were naughty or nice.  Even had a Christmas song that proved it with the words, "He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."

Me...I made up all sorts of silly facts to get my children to behave when they were young.  I told them that raw cookie dough causes worms.  I told them that if they didn't straighten out, I was going to line them up along the highway with "Give Away" signs around their necks.  And I told them if they weren't good, Santa was going to leave a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings.

They didn't believe a word of it.

The same way that kids don't equate the Elf with spying.

Only adults do that.  The kind of adults who want to suck the fun and joy out of everything.

And with that in mind, here is what the Elves who live with my grandchildren were up to last week.

They were watching from the ledge above the kitchen cupboards.


They got themselves stuck in the VCR.  (David said he was surprised that they still owned a VCR!)


And they made snow angels.


Sometimes an elf is just an elf.  And kids having fun are just kids having fun with no sinister hidden meanings.

Some adults really need to find a life.  Preferably one with a little bit of fun in it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Made My Day

So the middle of this afternoon my phone rings.  Youngest Son wants to know if I would like some company.  Of course I would.

He has one stop to make and then he will go to the Dairy Queen.  He wants to know what flavor Blizzard I would like.  I tell him.  He says he will see me in about 15 minutes.

We sit at my kitchen table and eat ice cream and talk.  He tells me what his family has been doing.  We talk of other things.  It is good to be able to sit and talk with my son.

I would have let him in, even if he didn't bring ice cream.  :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Quiet Week

It's been a quiet week here in the frozen north.  I've been puttering.  That's what my Dad called it when he was just fiddling about with this and that.  His puttering was along the lines of fixing a hole in the porch screen or weeding a bit in his garden.

My puttering has been along the lines of organizing photos on my computer.  Or going through my quilt patterns and deciding which quilts I will sew over the winter.  Or adding photos of my ancestors to my genealogy program.

It appears Chippy the Elf and his new girlfriend Daisy have been busier than I have.

On Monday Chippy and Daisy were sitting in a tree.


On Tuesday they went on a double date with Ken and Barbie.


Wednesday found them involved in a serious game of Uno with their friends.


And on Thursday they were looking cozy inside a lantern.


This morning they were hanging out in the bathroom.  Maddie Mae said they were probably watching to make sure she didn't spend too much time doing her hair!


Guess I'm going to have to get busy if I'm going to have a social life that equals those two elves.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chippy - Elf on the Shelf - 2014 Edition

Yes, Chippy the Elf is back at my grandchildren's home.  I have as much fun as the kids, checking my son's Facebook posts to see where Chippy turns up each day.  This year there is an addition.  It seems that Chippy has acquired a girlfriend.  Go, Chippy!


It will be fun to see where they hide this year!

I know.  I'm as bad as the kids.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree

Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, my son and his family go to a tree farm to cut down their Christmas tree.  And they always post a picture of their adventure.


They make my heart glad.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Canning Marathon

Wednesday morning, the guy who grocery shops for me called.  Wanted to know if I really wanted a dozen bunches of celery.  I did.  And how big a turkey did I need.  I replied I wanted the biggest one he could find.  He laughed and said OK.  See you soon.

Celery has been on sale at that grocery store at other times for 98 cents a bunch.  And those times the bunches have been skinny - about half the size of a normal bunch of celery.  Not this time.  They were huge.  I already have all the dehydrated celery I want, so I went ahead and canned up this batch, even though there was more than I bargained for.  Wound up with 8 pints and 56 half pints of chopped celery.

The turkey I got weighed in at a little over 23 pounds.  A 23 pound turkey yields 12 pints of meat and 11 quarts of turkey broth.  I need to get at least another four turkeys that size - maybe six.  I use the canned turkey more than any other canned meat, and I was completely out of it.

I've still got 10 lbs of frozen peas and 10 lbs. of frozen green beans to can.  But I think that will wait until tomorrow.  I'm slowly and reluctantly learning what my limitations are and after the last of the turkey comes out of the pressure canner, I do believe a short nap might be just the thing.  Although if this winter continues as it has been so far (yesterday morning the temperature was at six degrees below zero), naps may give way to hibernation.  I think the bears are smarter than we are.  They sleep the whole winter long.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Consequences

I have never liked swearing.  I'm not a prude.  I just don't like it.  Probably comes from my Baptist upbringing and the fact that my Mother was extremely religious.  I'm sure that my children use four letter words from time to time.  But they have enough respect not to use them within earshot of their Mother.

Anyway, Youngest Son was telling me about his daughters.  One of them wasn't pleased with something her sister did.  And she let her know about it by dropping an F-bomb to express her displeasure.  What she didn't take into consideration was the fact that her Daddy was within hearing distance.  And he heard.

The girl has spent a considerable amount of time with a pencil and paper, writing "I will not swear at my sister."  500 times.  And when she has finished all 500 sentences, she can have her cell phone back.

Does my heart good to know that in some families, actions still have consequences.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Monday Ramble

Today is grocery ordering day.  Yesterday I went through the weekly store ad that came in the mail and made out my list.

Celery is on sale for 99 cents a bunch.  I ordered a dozen.  I have quite a bit of celery dehydrated.  It takes a long time to rehydrate so I use it in soups that simmer all day.  The plan is to cut the celery into about half inch pieces and can them in half pint jars.  I had done that a couple of years ago and liked the convenience of adding canned celery to casseroles, stew, etc.

The store brand frozen vegetables are on sale in the two pound bags.  I ordered 10 lbs. of peas and 10 lbs. of cut green beans.  I'll can those in pint jars and that will bring those two vegetables back up to the amounts I like to have on hand on my pantry shelves.

Now and then mistakes are made.  Two weeks ago I ordered both dry dog food and cat food.  They brought me a fairly large bag of dog food but no cat food.  Good thing I order before I am down to two weeks worth of food for the animals, so Kizzie the cat did not run out of food.  Kizzie running out of food is not a good thing.  She whines and fusses when her bowl is down to half full.  An empty dish would make life unbearable for both her and me!  Lily, however, now has enough dry food to probably last the rest of her natural life!  Guess that is a good thing.

I don't often indulge myself, but a buy 1 - get 1 free sale on ice cream was just too good to pass up.  I ordered two old fashioned vanilla and will make a batch of chocolate sauce and a batch of butterscotch topping.  Ice cream is one of my favorite things, even in the middle of winter.

There were rumors of snow in our forecast, but it looks like it bypassed us again.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  I look at the reports of those folks in New York, opening their doors only to find a wall of snow outside, and I find I have much to be thankful for.

I have given up looking for exciting things to blog about.  Exciting just doesn't happen in my world.  I got rid of the drama in my life years ago.  But I can continue to write about the everyday happenings here in my little corner of the world.  And as this is more or less a record of what is going on in my life, as well as a place to remember the "good old days," that's OK.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Heat Wave

Woke up this morning to a temperature of 49 degrees.  Moisture is on the way but it is in the form of rain.  You don't have to shovel rain.  Or scrape it off your car windshield.

Life is good.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grow Up

I'm tired.  I'm tired of hearing politicians pass out the blame but take no responsibility themselves.  I'm tired of listening to the Democrats bad mouth Republicans and Republicans responding in kind.  I'm tired of bickering.  I'm tired of the constant struggle to get one up on the opposing party.  I'm tired of the name calling.  I'm tired of the lies.

If my children, when they were young, had acted like our congress and leaders act, I'd have blistered their bottoms and sent them to bed without supper.

For God's sake.  Grow up.  Take a look at what is really wrong with this country.

And then fix it.

That's what we pay you for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dehydrated Potato Slices

So I had this 10 lb. sack of potatoes from my last grocery order.  Should I eat them or preserve them to add to my food storage.  I guess you know you are one of those crazy preppers when the decision is to preserve for later use.

Peeled 10 lbs. of potatoes.  Sliced them on my mandolin slicer.  Blanched the slices for 3 minutes.  Arranged the potatoes on my dehydrator trays, set the temperature for 135 degrees.  Wound up with about a gallon of dried potato slices.

My favorite way to use these potatoes is for scalloped potatoes.  Ahead of time I make up packets of sauce mix:

Basic Scalloped Potato Sauce Mix

1/3 C. + 2 Tbsp. powdered milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. dried onion
1/8 tsp. pepper

Each recipe goes into a small zip bag and lots of them are stored in a gallon freezer bag next to the bags of potato slices.

To make scalloped potatoes, dump 3 cups of dried potato slices into a crock pot.  Add one packet of sauce mix, 3 cups hot water and 3 Tbsp. butter.  Stir it a bit, set the crock pot on High and let it cook all afternoon,  stirring once in a while to make sure all of the potato slices are covered with the sauce to rehydrate evenly.  I might add a little bit more onion or some parsley flakes or maybe a little garlic or anything else that sounds good to me at the time.

About a half hour before serving I sometimes add a pint of my canned ham cubes or bacon bits.  I've also tossed in a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and let it melt, stirring it in.

The original recipe called for baking the scalloped potato dish in the oven.  I found that sometimes the potato slices wouldn't rehydrate fully.  So after experimenting using the crock pot, I decided I like that method of cooking scalloped potatoes much better than the oven method.  The potatoes are tender and you would never know that they were dehydrated and not fresh.

And now that I've made myself hungry writing this, I'm going to go get a batch of scalloped potatoes going for supper.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Once When We Were Free

“Once When We Were Free”
By Jon Rappoport

"We’re so much more sensible now. We don’t live our lives as much as we arrange them and organize them. B follows A. D follows C. We take our medicine and our shots because the doctor says so. We’re careful, because accidents happen. We don’t say what’s on our minds a lot of the time, because other people might pass that on, and who knows? We might get into trouble.

But once upon a time, when we were young, we were free. We didn’t take any shots and when we got sick we recovered. We were stronger than kids are now. We didn’t ask for much protection and we weren’t given much, and we survived.

There was no talk about the needs of the group. When we went to school, we weren’t told about ways we could help others. That was something we learned at home. We weren’t taught about The Planet. Instead, we learned to mind our own business, and it wasn’t considered a crime.

When we played games, adults weren’t hovering or coaching every move we made. We found places to play on our own, and we figured it all out. There were winners and losers. There were no plastic trophies. We played one game, then another. We lost, we won. We competed. Losing wasn’t a tragedy.

There were no childhood “conditions” like ADHD or Bipolar, and we certainly didn’t take any brain drugs. The idea of a kid going to a psychiatrist would have been absurd.

People were who they were. They had lives. They had personalities. They had eccentricities, and we lived with that.

There was far less whispering and gossip. There were fewer cliques. Kids didn’t display their possessions like signs of their identity. A kid who did was ignored, even shunned.

Kids never acted like little adults. They didn’t dress like adults. They didn’t want to be fake adults.

Our parents didn’t consult us about what we wanted. We weren’t part of the decision-making process. They didn’t need us for that.

We weren’t “extra-special.” We weren’t delicate.

No one asked us about our feelings. If they had, we would have been confused. Feelings? What’s that? We were alive. We knew it. We didn’t need anything else.

We could spot liars a mile away. We could spot phonies from across town. We knew who the really crazy adults were, and we stayed away from them.

We didn’t need gadgets and machines to be happy. We only needed a place to play. If you wanted a spot to be alone, you found one, and you read a book.

There was no compulsion to “share.”

School wasn’t some kind of social laboratory or baby-sitting service. We were there to learn, and if we worked hard, we did. Teachers knew how to teach. The textbooks were adequate. Whether the books were new or old didn’t matter.

Kids weren’t taught how to be little victims.

Sex was a private issue. You were taught about that at home or not at all. You certainly didn’t learn about it in school. That would have been ridiculous.

Some of us remember being young, and now, we still have that North Star. We still don’t take our shots and medicines. We still don’t take every word a doctor says as coming from God. We still know losing isn’t a crime or an occasion for tragic theater.

We still know how to be alone. We still think gossip and cliques are for morons. We still feel free. We still want to live, and we do.

We still resent intrusion on our freedom, and we speak up and draw the line. We still like winning and competing. We still like achieving on our own.

We can spot self-styled messiahs at a hundred yards.

As kids, we lived in our imaginations, and we haven’t forgotten how. It’s part of who and what we are.

We aren’t bored every twelve seconds. We can find things to do.

We don’t need reassurances every day. We don’t need people hovering over us. We don’t need to whine and complain to get attention. We don’t need endless amounts of “support.”

We don’t need politicians who lie to us constantly, who pretend we’re stupid. We don’t need ideology shoved own our throats. Our ideology is freedom. We know what it is and what it feels like, and we know no one gives it to us. It’s ours to begin with. We can throw it away, but then that’s on us.

If two candidates are running for office, and we don’t like either one, we don’t vote. We don’t need to think about that very hard. It’s obvious. Two idiots, two criminals? Forget it. Walk away.

We don’t fawn, we don’t get in other people’s way. We don’t think “children are the future.” Every generation is a new generation. It always has been. We don’t need to inject some special doctrine to pump up children. We remember what being a child is. That’s enough.

When we were kids, there was no exaggerated sense of loyalty. We were independent. Now, we see what can be accomplished in the name of obligation, group-cohesion, and loyalty: crimes; imperial wars; destruction of natural rights.

It didn’t take a village to raise a kid when we were young, and it doesn’t take one now. That’s all propaganda. It panders to people who are afraid to be what they are, who are afraid to stand up for themselves.

We don’t feel it’s our duty to cure every ill in the world. But it goes a lot further than that. We can see what that kind of indoctrination creates. It creates the perception of endless numbers of helpless victims. And once that’s firmly entrenched, then magically, the endless parade of victims appears, ready-made. When some needs have been met, others are born. The lowest form of hustlers sell those needs from here to the sky and beyond. They make no distinction between people who really can use help and those who are just on the make.

We didn’t grow up that way. We don’t fall for the con now.

When we were kids, the number of friends we had didn’t matter. We didn’t keep score. Nobody kept track of the count. That would have been recognized in a second as a form of insanity.

As kids, we didn’t admire people simply because other people admired them. That was an unknown standard.

We were alive. That was enough. We were free. That was enough.

It still is.

When we were young, we had incredible dreams. We imagined the dreams and imagined accomplishing them. Some of us still do. Some of us still work in that direction. We haven’t given up the ghost just because the world is mad. The world needs to learn what we know. We don’t need to learn what the world has been brainwashed into believing."

Borrowed from:
http://www.nomorefakenews.com/

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Takes One to Know One

This grocery delivery thing is working pretty well for me.  This week carrots were on sale - 2 lb. bag for 99 cents.  I ordered 20 lbs.

Whenever the person who does the shopping notices something they think is out of the ordinary, they call to confirm the item.  That's a good idea.  People make mistakes.  So when the shopper saw my order for 20 lbs. of carrots, he called me.  I assured him that I did indeed want 20 lbs. of carrots.

"You are a canner," he said.  I asked him how he knew that.  He said, "It takes one to know one.  I bought 16 lbs of carrots for myself.  I'm canning them this evening."  I remarked that I thought we may be a dying breed.  He said that he was pleasantly surprised to see young people he knew showing an interest learning the old ways.  I think that is a good sign.

The last canner load of carrots are bubbling away on the stove.  10 lbs. of carrots gave me 22 pints of diced carrots.  I shredded the other 10 lbs.  Both dehydrators are filled.  There is enough left for another dehydrator full tomorrow.  I like the shredded dehydrated carrots for soups or carrot bread or muffins.   And the dehydrated foods take up much less space than do the canned.

It is nice to be able to check off one more item from my list.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Red Flannel Union Suit

Doesn't seem to matter how many times I click my heels together or wish upon a star, winter is headed our way anyway.


When I was a kid, about the time the snow started to fall, Mom made me wear a suit of underwear.


Complete with the trap door in the back.  It was red in color and hot and scratchy.  I hated wearing it, even as a very small child.

The signs are all pointing toward a harsh winter.  I'm thinking that a red flannel union suit isn't such a dumb idea after all.  :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Colors

Sleep eludes me this morning.  As I sit with my mug of coffee, I glance out the window.  The horizon is orange and pink and purple and colors in between that I don't think even have names.

I watch until the colors fade to a pink glow of the rising sun behind the clouds.  And for those few minutes I am reminded that God is in His Heaven.  And try as they might, they can not take that simple truth away from me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sometimes I Just Get Busy

This past week has been one of those times.

My grocery order last week included 9 lbs. of hamburger that I canned.  Takes one pound per pint jar.  I figure if I order 9 lbs. every other week for three months, I should have enough for a while.

I also got 12 lbs. of frozen sweet corn and 12 lbs. of frozen mixed vegetables.  I canned most of that in half pint jars, which is just right for one person.  It probably sounds a bit strange to can frozen vegetables, but it is cheaper for me to do that than it is to buy the veggies in cans.  And I would rather have them in jars on the shelf than in my freezer.  They last much longer in jars and should water ever become scarce, the liquid in each jar is enough to heat the veggies in.

I like to have those packets of rice side dishes on hand.  But when I figured out the price per packet, I found I can make my own at a fraction of the cost.  So using these recipes, I made up 25 packets of each flavor.

Chicken Rice Mix

3/4 cup  rice
1 tablespoon dry onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon powdered chicken bouillon

Combine the rice and all of the other ingredients in a resealable plastic container. Zip-lock bags work well for this. Label and seal. Store on the pantry shelf. This is enough for 1 package of mix.

To Prepare:
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of Chicken Rice Mix
2-1/2 cups water
In a 2-quart saucepan combine the butter, Rice Mix and water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place a lid on the pot. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible flame. Simmer, covered until done or for about 20.

Beef Rice Mix

3/4 cup rice
1 tablespoon dry onion
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon powdered beef bouillon

Combine the rice and all of the other ingredients in a resealable plastic container. Zip-lock bags work well. Label and seal. Store on the pantry shelf. This is enough for 1 package of mix.

To Prepare:
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of Beef Rice Mix
2-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
In a 2-quart saucepan combine the butter, Rice Mix, soy sauce and water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Place a lid on the pot. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible flame. Simmer, covered until done or for about 20 minutes.

Sometimes I'll make up a packet of rice mix to eat as a side dish and other times I'll add a jar of canned beef or turkey and a half pint of vegetables for a one-dish meal.  A couple of slices of cornbread on the side makes for a pretty good meal.

I suppose that if I were content to just fill my shelves and then sit back and admire all those lovely jars of food, I wouldn't spend so much time canning.  But I eat what I store.  It makes no sense to me to have buckets full of food that I don't eat on a regular basis.  So when I see that I'm running low on a particular food, I get busy and can or dehydrate or package some more.  The goal is to have one years worth of food put back.  I'm getting close to attaining that goal.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chipotle Burrito

This was posted on Facebook this morning.


The kids look great.  All excited for an evening of Tricks or Treats.  But what made me laugh out loud was the sight of my son dressed up as a Chipotle burrito.  It is sort of an inside joke.  He can be found at Chipotle's quite often during his lunch time.

If my kids inherited only one characteristic, I'm glad it was a sense of humor.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Election Day

If you are running for office, I don't want to hear about the bad things your opponent did.  I want to hear about the good things you did.

I'll be so very happy when election day is over.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Solution to a Problem

I've been looking for alternative ways to get my groceries.  Sometimes I don't have a problem with bus rides and dragging my handy dandy little old lady shopping cart up the stairs to my apartment.  But sometimes I do.

I have adult children who are willing to shop for me.  But they all have families and jobs and are busy.  I would rather find a solution to my problem than to have to call them for help.  That may sound strange, but finding my own solutions gives me a sense of staying as independent as possible, if that makes sense to anyone else but me.

Enter, stage right, a non-profit group, established in my area over 30 years ago.  Their purpose is to grocery shop for those seniors who need help.  They charge a very small fee, based on income, for this service.  It is well worth the cost.  I signed up.

Every other Monday I call in my grocery order.  The following Wednesday my groceries are delivered to my kitchen.  They shop the same store where I usually shop, so I am familiar with the products.  I can order up to $200. worth of groceries each time.  The same person will deliver my groceries each time, so I won't have a parade of strangers in and out.  I write a check for the amount on the receipt plus the fee at the time of delivery.  Easy peasy.

My first grocery delivery was this afternoon.  A nice fellow brought in boxes of food, unpacked the boxes and set the items on my kitchen table.  I checked off the list to make sure everything I had ordered was accounted for.  He wanted to know if I needed help putting anything away, and I replied that I didn't need help with that, thank you just the same.  Check in hand, out the door he went with a cheery, "Have a wonderful day.  See you in two weeks."

I think I'm going to like this service.  Especially when the snow is blowing, the sidewalks are full of ice, the temperature is in the sub-zero category and I'm running low on cat food.  Yep.  Going to like this a lot.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blogger Strikes Again

Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that I need word verification in my comment section.  I didn't put it there.  I also can't seem to get rid of it.  Any suggestions would be helpful.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Senior Class Pictures


Things sure have changed since I had my Senior Class pictures taken.  Back when I had mine taken, the photographer posed me against the wall of the cave, right next to the dinosaur, and snapped away.  The pictures were all pretty much the same varying only in which direction I was looking and whether or not I smiled.


Then my parents had to look at the proofs and figure out which pose they liked and how many of each size photo they needed for grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.  And in a couple weeks they received a large envelope full of pictures.

Last week my granddaughter had her Senior pictures taken.


There were several backgrounds, changes of clothes, poses, etc.


My daughter paid the photographer and received a thumb drive containing all of the photos.  She also gets the copyright so she can use them however she wants.  She can have prints made or print them herself.


These are a far cry from the class pictures of my youth.  Of course it helps when you have my beautiful granddaughter as the subject of the photos.


This post is for you, Nicki.  I love you with all of my heart.

Love, Grandma

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Soups Using Dehydrated Vegetables

Another thing I like to store are dehydrated vegetables.  When I could get vegetables in quantity from the Farmer's Market, I would can some and dehydrate the rest.  Sometimes when my local grocery has a sale on frozen vegetables I will stock up and dehydrate them as well.  I have a lot of canning jars, so I store the dried vegetables in them.  Light and moisture are the enemy of dehydrated food.  The canning jars keep out moisture and they are stored in the coolest, darkest room in my apartment.  I have had some stored for over five years with no problems.

I like to make soup or stew using the dehydrated vegetables.  I found a couple of recipes for dried soup mixes, so I made up a bunch of them and stored them in freezer bags.  The recipes come from "Making and Using Dried Foods" by Phyllis Hobson.  The directions call for simmering the soup in a kettle on the stove, but I like to toss it all into a crock pot and let it simmer all day.  Sometimes the dried food won't completely rehydrate in a short period of time and by using the crock pot, I know that they will all be tender and delicious by supper time.  I've made a couple of minor changes from the original recipe.  It calls for dried chicken cubes in the Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, but I don't dehydrate meat, except for jerky.  I know that some do, but with the price of meat going through the roof, I don't want to take a chance on wasting it should it becoming rancid.  So I use my canned meat instead.

Chicken Noodle Soup Mix

1 pint canned chicken
1/2 cup dried noodles
1/4 cup chopped dried carrots
1/4 cup chopped dried celery
1/4 cup dried green peas
1 tablespoon chopped dried onions
2 tablespoons chicken-flavored bouillon granules

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store in canning jar or a zip lock freezer bag.
To Use:  Add contents to 2 quarts boiling water.  Boil until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.  (Or cook in crock pot until vegetables are tender.) Stir occasionally and add water as necessary.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Vegetable Soup Mix

4 teaspoons beef-flavored bouillon granules
1/2 cup dried carrot slices
1/4 cup dried celery slices
1/2 cup dried green beans
1/4 cup dried corn
1/2 cup dried green peas
(or 2 cups dried mixed vegetables)
1/2 cup dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in canning jar or a zip lock freezer bag.
To Use:  Add contents to 2 quarts boiling water.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.  (I add a pint of my home canned beef and cook in the crock pot until the vegetables are tender.)

Sometimes I'll just grab a jar of canned meat and jars of whatever dried vegetables sound good to me at the time.  I'll dump the meat into the crockpot, add a handful of this and a handful of that, some of my canned chicken broth or water with a couple of bouillon cubes, and let it all cook all day.  The only problem with this method is that I forget how much the vegetables are reduced by volume in the drying process, and how much I will wind up with when they have all rehydrated.  It's usually more than I can eat, even within a couple of days.  That's when I freeze the leftovers for a quick, easy meal later.

I don't like to have all the eggs in one basket.  I want some foods that are packaged or in cans from the grocery.  And some that I home can.  Dehydrating is just another option.

I know that I could save myself time and effort by just buying the #10 cans of freeze dried vegetables.  Freeze dried rehydrate quicker than the dehydrated foods and I'm sure there are other advantages to freeze dried.  But price is an important consideration for me.  I'd rather dry fresh from the Farmer's Market (or better yet, from your own garden) or on sale frozen vegetables that cost less money than ordering freeze dried.  Works for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Salami Sandwiches and Cub Scouts

My phone rang this evening.  It was Youngest Son.  The first thing he said was, "Do you know what I do when my day has been really hectic and I know I'm supposed to be somewhere doing something and I'm not sure anymore what the something is?"  I can play straight man, so I said I didn't know.  Tell me.  He said, "Well, I just stop and take time to read Mom's blog."  Says it calms him down and gives him a break.  Aww!  Bless his heart.

David said he was on his way to the grocery store.  He said that they were out of salami at his house for Jacob's sack lunch for school tomorrow.  Jacob's world will end if he doesn't have a salami and cheese sandwich in his lunch bag.  Jacob is six.  Salami and cheese sandwiches are important when you are six.  I asked him if the elementary school his kids attend was on Michelle Obama's handy dandy lunch program with it's rules and regulations.  He said it was.  Which is why he was on his way to the store for salami.  His kids would much rather take their own lunch than eat the government regulated school lunch.  Smart kids.

Jacob wanted to join the Boy Scouts.  A couple of his friends from school are in the Scouting program.  So David took his son to a meeting to see if Jacob would like it.  He did.  I now am the proud grandma of a Cub Scout.  He earned his first badge by learning the Scout Pledge.  He is so proud of that badge and of his new uniform.


I hope he sticks with Scouting for a while.  David said he didn't know if he had an Eagle Scout in the making or not, but for now, Jacob was enjoying  Scouting and learning new things, and that was what was important.

I just love these phone calls.  David's truck is equipped with one of those "hands free" phone things, so he often calls when he is on his way somewhere or on his way home from somewhere.  I tease him that his kids will keep me in material for blog posts for years to come.  He just laughs at me.  And says I am probably right!  Whether that is true or not, I am blessed to have kids who stay in touch, even when their lives are hectic.  I'm glad they call.  I'm glad they tell me about salami and cheese sandwiches.  And about my little Cub Scout.  And anything else that is on their minds.  May that never change.

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet...

Yesterday I posted about canning bacon. Yoders' Bacon was mentioned in a comment.  So I decided to look up Yoders' to see how much it cost.  I looked at three different websites just long enough to see that I had better can my own bacon slices.  Geez, but that stuff is spendy!

Anyway, it wasn't 2 minutes later when I looked at Drudge.  Right there at the top of the page where they have their ad was an ad for.....Yoders' Bacon.

I then looked at WND.  Yep.  Multiple ads for.....Yoders' Bacon.

Looked at two more websites.  Amazingly, both had ads for.....Yoders' Bacon.

I'm not surprised to see ads for things I have searched for online.  Happens all the time.  I am surprised at how quickly the ads appear.

Big Brother's name is Google, and he IS watching.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canning Bacon and Sausage

I like to have a variety of foods in storage and having a selection of canned meats appeals to me.  While thinking about what kinds of meat to can, I decided that bacon or sausage are two I would like to have on hand.

There are several YouTube videos out there showing how people can strips of bacon by wrapping them in parchment paper before putting them into jars.  I have never tried this, so I can't attest to the success or failure of this method.  I buy the boxes of bacon ends and pieces.  Usually there are some nice slices included and those I package and freeze for future use.  There are usually some good sized chunks of lean bacon and some of those I will freeze for later use in canning pork and beans.   The rest I slice into about one-inch pieces and fry them until lightly browned and then drain, saving the bacon grease, and pack the bacon bits into half pint jars.  Wipe the rims of the jars well, add a lid and ring and process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes.

Bacon canned this way has lots of uses.  I like eggs scrambled with bacon pieces and cheese.  They can be used as bacon bits on a green salad.  They can be sprinkled on scalloped potatoes for extra flavor.  They can be used in one of those breakfast casseroles.  The possibilities are endless.  And the bacon grease keeps nearly forever in the fridge or freezer.  I use the grease in biscuits, cornbread, for frying potatoes, etc.  I consider the bacon grease a bonus.

Sausage is canned basically the same way.  I brown it like you would hamburger for sloppy joes and then drain it.  It is packed into jars and pressure canned same as the bacon.  Sausage canned this way can be used anywhere one would use sausage crumbles.  I use it the same as the bacon bits and have added it to spaghetti sauce or tomato based casseroles.  It is really handy to have for biscuits and sausage gravy.  It makes a nice change of pace and just another variety of meat to have on hand.  I have heard of some who can sausage patties by browning them, packing them into wide mouth pint jars, covering with broth and processing in the pressure canner.  I have not tried this, but I think I might experiment with it and see how I like sausage canned that way.

We hear people talk all the time about storing rice and beans.  I store rice and beans, too.  But a diet of rice and beans would get old in a hurry without a variety of additions to make them more palatable especially over a long period of time.  Canning bacon and sausage is just one way to make life a bit better in a lengthy shelter in place situation.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quick and Easy Home Canned Meals

I am not a gourmet cook.  I am a plain cook.  About once a week I fix meals that are favorites from my childhood - fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, beef slow roasted with potatoes, carrots and onions all in the same pot, pork chops stuffed with sage dressing, Swiss steak (assuming I can still afford round steak).

The rest of the time I cook because a body needs fuel.  I have a lot of interests aside from cooking.  I sew, quilt, crochet, scrapbook, read, etc.  If I am in the middle of sewing together the pieces of a patchwork quilt, I don't want to take the time to cook a fancy meal.  If my kitchen table is covered with scrapbooking paper, photographs, glue, scissors, paper punches, and all the other supplies I use to make scrapbook pages or mini scrapbook albums, I want to quickly satisfy my hunger and continue cutting and gluing and creating.  You will never see photos of artfully arranged meals on this blog.  That just doesn't happen in my world.

What does happen in my world is the opening of a jar, the dumping of the contents into a pot, the heating on the stove and the eating, all done with as little fuss and bother as possible.  I know that I can't be the only person on the face of the earth who hasn't either the time or the inclination to spend hours cooking, so here are some of the meals in a jar that are a staple of my pantry shelves.

Chicken/Turkey Soup

I buy turkey or chicken on sale.  The birds are cut up into pieces to fit into my stew pots, covered with water and boiled until the meat is falling off the bone tender.  Sometimes I will roast a turkey, have a meal or two and then use the rest for making soup, boiling the carcass to make broth.  When the meat is cool enough to handle, it is removed from the bones and cut into approximately one-inch pieces.  The jars are filled 1/3 full of meat pieces, adding cut up vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, celery - whatever you like)  to within one inch of the top of the jar.  Pour in broth to cover the vegetables.  Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims, add a lid and ring.  Process in a pressure canner (meat and vegetables must be pressure canned), 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

I think I use this soup more than any other.  When I can it, I do not add salt or any other seasonings.  Nor do I add onions.  Instead I season the soup and add dehydrated onion when I heat it.  It can be eaten just as a soup with crackers or cornbread.  It can be thickened and spooned over biscuits as a stew.  It can be heated with the addition of dumplings.  Sometimes I toss in a little rice for turkey rice soup, or a little more rice for a turkey, vegetable and rice dish.  There are lots of possibilities.

These are some of the other meals in a jar that I can on a regular basis:

Vegetable Soup
Vegetable Beef Soup
Split Pea and Ham Soup
Ham and Bean Soup
Chili
Beef Stew Mix (The browned beef cubes and cut up vegetables are canned together.  Seasonings and thickening are added when heating for a meal.  This is especially good over biscuits.)

I suppose I could save time by just buying soup, stew and chili at the grocery store.  But I would rather spend a few days canning these meals and have them ready in my pantry.  I know what has gone into them and they taste so much better than commercially canned soups.  I don't know if I save much money-wise, as I have to buy the ingredients.  If I could have a garden, the savings would be far better.   But to me, it is still worth it.

The blessings of abundance (a link)

I've had a blog post idea rolling around in the back of my mind for a while.  But this morning I read a post by Patrice over at "Rural Revolution" that says what I would like to have said, only she says it better than I ever could.  For those who are into preparing and food storage and especially for those who don't think they need to prepare or store food, it is an excellent read.  Here is the link.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Walk for Autism

Today my oldest daughter Jill and my grandson Zach are at the Mall of America, participating in a walk that raises money for the Autism Speaks organization.  Looks like the day started out well, if this photo is any indication.


I am so very proud of Zach and his parents.  I can't be with them today, but I am cheering them on all the same.



Zach is so smart and talented and funny.  And he gives great hugs.  I just love being Zach's grandma.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happiness...

is finding a forgotten bag of strawberries in the bottom of the freezer.

A small bowl of strawberries for dessert this evening.
Strawberry muffins for breakfast tomorrow.
Strawberry syrup over pancakes the next day.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Venison Stew

It's that time of year.  The leaves are changing color and starting to drop from the trees.  The nights are cooler - good sleeping weather.  Now that the rain has stopped falling, at least for now, the daylight hours are more pleasant with even a little sunshine now and then.

It is the time of year that I start craving homemade soups and stews.  I treated myself to a venison stew a couple of days ago.  I don't often get venison.  Not like I did when I lived in the north woods and had hunters still living at home.  So venison is a treat for me.

I had one jar of canned venison left on the shelf.  A couple of years ago I had canned potato cubes, carrot chunks and peas together in quart jars.  Into the pot they all went.  Tossed in some chopped onion and some beef broth along with seasonings.  Let it simmer on the back burner for about an hour.  Put a pan of biscuits in the oven and thickened the stew a bit.  The result was a meal fit for a king.

Last evening I heated up the leftover stew.  Can't recall what else I was doing at the time, but the stew stayed in the pan longer than it should have without being stirred.  Sure enough.  It was scorched.  I am not good at multi-tasking.

I don't like to waste anything, so I dished up the scorched stew over the leftover biscuits anyway.  It was delicious.

You just can't wreck a good venison stew, no matter how hard you try.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Noooooo! Not Yet!

Youngest son works for a landscaping company.  They do lawn care in the summer, among other things, and they plow snow in the winter.  David needs to keep track of the weather in order to know what his crews will be doing on any given day.  They can't do much of their outside work in the rain.  When the summer temperatures soar, David knows it is time to take large coolers of Gatorade around to the workers.  He needs to know how much winter snowfall is expected in order to schedule the plowing crews.  So he gets daily weather reports.  Sometimes he shares them on Facebook.  Like this one today.

"Turning cloudy and very windy behind a very strong cold front this morning. Highs will only reach the upper 40s. Light rain showers likely this evening with possible snow mixing in late evening into early tomorrow morning. Cloudy and still cold tomorrow with a high in the upper 40s. Mostly cloudy and warmer Sunday with a high in the lower 50s."

You want me?  I'll be right over there in my recliner, cup of hot chocolate on the table next to me, Kindle in hand, covered chin to toes in my big green fuzzy blanket.

No, I do not want to talk about the Great Minnesota Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fresh Brewed Coffee

Warm from the oven cookies.
A little sewing.
A lot of reading.
An afternoon nap.
Some days are just better than others.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wise Words

This weekend I am busy with odds and ends of Suzy Homemaker type stuff.  All of those little things that, when they beg to be done, you respond by putting them of until tomorrow.  Well, tomorrow has arrived.

So in lieu of an actual post, I give you the following.  I may have posted this earlier.  Can't remember.  But if I did, it is worth repeating.

"The Wisdom of Tecumseh"

"So live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a stranger if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools and robs them of their visions. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."
- Tecumseh

Hope your weekend is just what you want it to be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Praying for Snow

Yeah, I know.  Unless you are a huge fan of outdoor winter sports, the very last thing a Minnesotan does is pray for snow.  Under normal conditions, most of us are praying for it to just please go away.

But.....these are not normal conditions.

In the fall of the year the city street maintenance crews are busy.  Over the summer cracks have appeared in the streets.  If left unattended, water will get into these cracks, freeze, expand and we will have potholes the size of Connecticut by the time spring arrives.  I completely understand why the cracks in the streets can not go unattended.

Before these cracks can be filled in, the crews use a machine to cut the asphalt and enlarge the cracks to about 3 inches across.  According to one of the crew I was chatting with yesterday, this process makes it possible to completely fill in each crack, which they couldn't do if they didn't enlarge them.

The machine they use for this job is LOUD.  Think chalk dragged across a chalkboard.  Times 5.  All day.  7 AM to 6 PM.  Did I mention it was LOUD?

The sound defies closed windows.  It can be clearly heard over my music.  I have no ear plugs.  Cotton and balled up Kleenex fall out of my ears.  There is no escape.

Today is day number three of the work on the street in front of my building.  The only thing I know for sure is that the crews never do this kind of work in the winter.

So Dear Lord, it's about that snow.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Celery and Apples

David wanted to know if I could use some celery.  Of course I could!  He and the kids raised celery in their garden this year.  I didn't know you could raise celery in Minnesota, but obviously, you can.  They had already used all they wanted.  He said he would drop it off at my apartment for me.

Now when he said he had celery from his garden, I was thinking maybe a few stalks.  I was wrong.


He said that next year he will thin it out some and with more room to grow, the stalks would probably be larger.  There were some pretty big stalks even without the thinning.

I have it all cleaned and cut up.  Tomorrow morning I will blanch it and fill my dehydrator trays.  I plan to dry the leaves separately.  They are really good when crumbled and used like dry parsley.

This past Saturday David and Staci took the kids to an apple orchard near their home.  Apple orchards around here are more than just orchards.  There was horseback riding for the girls and a farm animal petting zoo for the younger set, along with other kid-related activities.


And then they went apple pickin'.  David brought me a big bag of apples.  I can't remember what variety they are, but he said they are a good all purpose apple.


I was going to make applesauce, but these are such nice, firm apples that I think I will can apple slices instead.  The next time the kids are here, we will open a jar or two so they can see how good they taste.  They have already learned how to can tomatoes and salsa and pasta sauce and chili sauce and pickles by helping their Dad.  Maybe next year they would like to learn to can apples with their Grandma.

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Anomaly

I guess I must be an anomaly among those of my peer group - retired widows.  There are a lot of us.  But I am finding that very few look any farther ahead than maybe the day after tomorrow, literally.

I needed to add to my food storage, so this morning I rode the bus to the grocery store.  I sat near a woman of my vintage that I see often on these trips.  During the course of conversation I asked if she ever shopped at Sam's Club.  She scoffed at the very idea.  She said that she lived alone and that she had no reason to ever buy in bulk.  She told me that she went to the grocery a couple of times each week to buy what she needed for a few days.  I asked what did she do if a bad storm was in the weather forecast.  She said that she would go to the closest convenience store for bread and cereal and milk.  I hope that works out for her.

While waiting for the bus for the return trip home, I chatted with another widowed lady.  We were talking about the price of groceries and how quickly groceries are becoming more expensive.  She remarked  that even flour and sugar had gone up in price.  I mentioned that both Sam's and Walmart still had good prices on 25 lb. bags of flour.  "What on earth would I do with that much flour?" she asked me.  "Well, you could bake bread with it," I said.  She said that she would eat homemade bread if someone gave her a loaf of it, but why go to all the trouble of making it when she could just buy it at the bakery or the grocery.

Both of these ladies rode the same bus as I did going home, and I caught both glancing at my handy, dandy little old lady shopping cart that was loaded with several sacks of pet food, six large bags of frozen mixed vegetables and a sack full of more canning lids.

It never ceases to amaze me that those like me, who are children of parents who lived through the Depression and the food rationing of WWII, failed to learn anything from those parents about putting food by for either emergencies or the cold winter months.  Preserving every bit of food possible was a way of life in my family.  If we didn't do the work summer and fall, we would be pretty hungry long about February.

Those two ladies seem like very nice ladies.  But I think I will make sure that they and those like them never find out where I live.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Does Anyone Remember...

life before television when kids played outside?  I don't know why I started thinking about this lately.  Perhaps it was the other day when I watched a kid about 10 years old come close to being run over by a truck because she was watching the screen on her phone instead of the traffic.

I remember when a store bought jump rope was the cause for happiness.  It was so much better than the length of clothesline I used before that.  It had wooden handles.  The rope was thicker.  It didn't get all twisted around like clothesline rope did. It was fun.



There were those who could jump rope where two people swung a  long length of rope between them and another one or two jumped the rope in the middle.  I never got the hang of it.  I got tired of being tripped up by the rope, so I stuck to a single jump rope.

It has been years since I saw a set of jacks.



For the youngsters who don't know what jacks are, 10 small metal star shaped pieces and a small rubber ball made up a set of jacks.  The object of the game was to toss the ball in the air and scoop up jacks before the ball bounced twice, starting with one jack at a time, progressing to two at a time until all ten were picked up at once.  My hands were small.  I don't think I ever made it beyond the eight-jack mark.  But many a lazy summer afternoon was spent sitting on the sidewalk with a friend, playing jacks.

Nearly every neighbor kid I knew growing up wore a skate key on a piece of string around their neck.  And what is a skate key for, you might ask.  It is for turning the clamps that attached roller skates to your shoes.  We didn't have boots with wheels set into the soles.  We didn't have roller blades.  We had these.


A strap around the ankle area held the heel of the skate onto your shoes.  The clamps tightened near the toes of your shoes.  This arrangement kept the skates in place.  Until the clamps worked loose.  And then if you didn't notice it right away, the toe part would fall off to one side and down you would go.  I spent the better part of my childhood with big scabs on my knees.  I loved to roller skate.

Even though we didn't have a television or a cell phone or any other electronic gadget, and even though there were always chores to do, especially on Saturdays, I think I grew up in the best of times for a child.  There was a freedom in the life of a child that my grandchildren will never see.  A kid could fly down the sidewalk on roller skates or ride a bike as fast as the wind without having to be helmeted and padded to within an inch of their lives.  A kid could leave home on a summer morning and not return until evening without anyone calling the police.  Our police were all the Moms up and down the street who watched out for us.  They were there if we needed help or a sandwich or a band aid, but they let us play and just be kids.

I find it somewhat sad that the freedom to be a kid is gone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Old Values Revived

While sharing ice cream and conversation with my son yesterday, he was telling me about an interesting trend in the real estate market.  He and his wife have been thinking of selling their home and buying another with more room for their family.  He said that some of the newer houses they had looked at came with a ground floor "Mother-In-Law" apartment, specifically designed for use by aging parents who, like many elderly, have trouble negotiating the stairs in a traditional second floor or basement apartment.

We hear quite often about the trend of adult children moving in with their parents during a financial crisis such as job loss or the inability of college graduates to secure employment in their chosen field.  But I have to admit I had not thought about  the reverse situation - of aging parents living with their adult children.  I had forgotten about occurrences within my own family.

Years ago it was unthinkable for a family to shuttle Mom or Dad off to a home for the aged.  My Great-Grandfather, after the death of his wife, spent half the year with my Grandfather's family and the other half with his daughter's family.  One of my Dad's brothers stayed on the farm and cared for his widowed mother until her death.  He was over 50 years old before he married and left the farm.  He did this by choice, out of love for his mother and a sense of family duty.

My other Grandmother lived for a time in an apartment in my parent's home.  I remember how I loved to be able to see her whenever I wanted and to be able to bring my young children to to spend time with her.  My brother, who was a young boy at the time, recalls hours spent with our Grandmother, many of them over games of checkers.  Some of his best memories are of time with Grandma.

I understand the need for nursing homes.  Both of my parents lived in a nursing home in their last years due to medical issues that could not be taken care of in a home environment.  But for those older folks who are still able to care for themselves, this ground floor apartment trend is a good one, I think.  It offers privacy for both generations.  And it offers access to family and the opportunity to spend precious time with grandchildren - something that is becoming a rare thing in our too busy world.  It is reminiscent of the old values, where family cared for family and that is a good thing.  And I am all for reviving some of the old values and traditions.

That being said, do not panic, my children.  I have no intention of moving in with any of you - yet.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cheering Up

My youngest son stopped in today.  He thought I could use some cheering up.  His company and conversation along with the Dairy Queen Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard he brought for me did the trick.

My youngest daughter, who had seen me at my worst when she came here yesterday, posted this on Facebook.



There was also a phone call from Arizona.  And Facebook posts.  They were trying to make me feel better.

It worked.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jessie Jane

Those unfortunate enough to have been born without the love of animals in their souls would wonder how a person could have their heart broken by a 12 pound bit of fluff that was Jessie Jane, the Yorkie.  I'll tell you how.

She came into my life just before Thanksgiving six years ago.  The first eight years of her life had been spent as a breeder at a kennel that sold Yorkies.  Her owner was one who took good care of her dogs, seeing to it that they had regular vet visits, good food, a clean kennel and run.  This was not a puppy mill operation, but a reputable dog breeder.

What Jessie Jane did not have then was the attention she craved.  Nor was she around people other than her owner.  She lived in her kennel and had puppies.  And when she was too old to breed any more, I received a call asking me to please give her a home.  She was the third Yorkie that this same kennel owner had entrusted to my care.

She was shy.  She scared easily.  She didn't trust people because she had never seen more than one in her entire life.  So we went to work.

We sat on the stoop outside my building so she could become accustomed to the sights and sounds of her new neighborhood.  Then we went for walks.  Short ones at first and then longer ones, to the park and along the river.  It didn't take long before she was greeting everyone she met.  She considered everyone her friend.

We sat on the couch and snuggled.  She helped me in the kitchen, making sure that no piece of food dropped ever stayed on the floor for more than three seconds.  She discovered treats and developed a bouncing up and down, turning in circles dance to get one.  And she smiled.  She looked like a demented chipmunk when she smiled, but she smiled.

She grumbled when I would not share my spaghetti with her.  If I made the mistake of setting a bag of kitchen trash next to my apartment door while I went to put on my shoes, it was a given that I would find her buried up to her back legs in the bag when I returned, her little stump of a tail wagging madly as she joyously explored the contents.  She was smart and naughty and willful and funny.  She made me laugh.  She was affectionate, pestering me until I picked her up and gave her some pets and belly rubs.

Some would say that I did a good thing by taking her in and giving her a good life.  But truth be known, I believe she gave to me more happiness than I could have possibly given to her.


Rest in peace, Jessie Jane.  You were well loved.

Vicki and the Collie

When I was about 8 years old, my family lived on the west side of Willmar, Minnesota.  My father rented a small house in that typically blue collar neighborhood that was full of families with lots of kids and dogs.  It seemed, to my 8 year old way of thinking, that everybody in the neighborhood had a dog - except us.  My mother wasn't fond of animals.  They were too messy, she said.  She didn't want muddy paw prints on her kitchen floor.  Or dog hair on her rugs.  And because Mother's word was law, we didn't have a dog.

Until I brought one home.

This was in the 1950's.  Kids didn't have "play dates."  We just played outside all summer long.  We roamed the neighborhood with the other neighbor kids, sometimes several blocks away.  We built forts in the trees on a vacant lot.  We played on the swings at the elementary school five blocks away.  We clamped roller skates to our shoes and went flying over the sidewalks.  We rode our bikes everywhere.

Nobody got into trouble.  We couldn't.  If we even thought about doing something bad, somebody's mother would yell at us to get out of whatever it was we were about to get into.  We knew that if we were bad, the phone would ring at our house and somebody's mother would tell mine what I had done.  We just had fun.

My travels through the neighborhood often took me past a house in the next block.  The house was surrounded by a wooden picket fence.  Behind the fence a very large Collie dog often played.  I loved dogs, so I would stop and pet him and talk to him.  But it wasn't as good as having my very own dog.  So I did something about that.

Mother told me many years later that she had watched me come up the street, struggling to drag an unwilling Collie dog on a rope behind me.  It took a long time, for the dog would sit back on his haunches and refuse to move, at which time I had to get behind him and push to get him moving again.  I think it was lucky for me that he had a mellow personality and he adored kids, for he never once tried to nip at me.  He probably should have, between the rope and the dragging and the pushing.

I finally arrived at my front door.  Hot and sweaty and dirty and out of breath.  Mother was waiting there for me.  After the typical "He followed me home.  Can I keep him?", Mother informed me that she had watched me drag the poor dog for a block and a half, that the dog had not followed but I had stolen him from his own yard, and I would take him back this very minute.

The Collie trotted back home much easier than he had travelled to my house.  Mother followed us.  I untied the dog back in his own yard.  I knocked on the door.  The lady of the house answered.  I told her I was sorry I had stolen her dog.  I promised never to steal him again.  I wondered why she was smiling all the while and why she gave my mother a wink.

It wasn't until we moved to the farm that my Dad was able to sneak a small dog into our household.  I still don't know how he got the dog past Mother.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not in the Mood to Write Much

My biggest Yorkie, Jessie Jane has some major problems.  She doesn't seem to have control over her back legs and therefore can not stand.  I have spent a considerable amount of time with her today, mostly trying to get her to eat and drink, but to no avail.  I have two choices.

I can take her to my vet whose office is about three blocks away.  He is a good vet and he will check her out, keep her there at his clinic, and run more tests than I can count.  And if he can't find what is causing the problem, he will send her off to the University Vet Clinic and charge me a lot of money.  The last dog I took to him with problems cost me nearly a thousand dollars before he gave up and let the dog die.  I don't think I want to put Jessie Jane through that.

My other choice is to have my daughter take Jessie Jane to her vet, who is an equally good animal doctor, but who has a more practical approach.  If the problem is clearly not treatable and if the dog is obviously in distress as Jessie Jane is, she will not hesitate to gently and humanely put her down if that is called for.

I have talked with my daughter and if Jessie Jane isn't better by the time Jeri gets off from her job tomorrow afternoon, Jeri will come get her and take her to her vet for me.

I thought maybe one of her nails had grown into the pad of her paw.  She has wonky nails that can't be trimmed short, so I keep trimming them often so that doesn't happen.  Then I thought maybe it was arthritis as she was moving so slowly, but she doesn't seem to be in pain, so I don't think that is it either.  She has gone from moving slowly to falling down to not being able to stand at all within two days.  I don't see any sign of a miracle happening between now and tomorrow.

Sometimes I wish that I were a little bit more hard hearted and a little less caring about my animals.  Because Damn, it hurts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Resurfacing Again...

for a few minutes.  For anyone who is interested, 50 lbs. of onions, when chopped into about half inch pieces, dehydrates down to 12 quarts.  I should be good for a while on onions!

This morning I thawed out 8 lbs. of blueberries.  I would rather have fresh wild blueberries, but that's not going to happen, so I will settle for frozen.  They are packed into 32 half pint jars and are sitting on my kitchen table for a couple more hours, just to make sure they are completely thawed.  I'll cover them with a thin sugar-water syrup and run them through my water bath canner this evening.  This is an experiment, so I'll open a jar in a couple of days and see how they turned out.  I have canned blueberries that I picked and froze myself, but have never used store-bought berries like this before.  I have another 8 lbs. in the freezer and I'm thinking maybe a couple batches of blueberry jam.

Another 6 lbs. of frozen hash browns are in the dehydrators now and should be dry by late evening.  They dry quicker than do the onions.  By tomorrow evening all 24 lbs. of potatoes will be dehydrated, in jars and on my shelves.

And on Sunday, I'm going to do

NOTHING.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coming Up For Air

I wouldn't blame Youngest Son if he didn't volunteer to take me shopping any time soon.  My Sam's Club haul included 100 lbs. flour, 50 lbs. sugar, 50 lbs. rice, 50 lbs onions, several flats of canned goods and a bunch of other stuff.  When we got back home I said that I would get my cart and help him haul the groceries up the stairs.  He handed me something small and light in weight.  He told me to take that up, unlock my apartment door, sit down in a chair and wait for him to bring my purchases up.  Because I know better than to argue with him, I did and he did.  Bless his heart.

It was too late in the day to start canning, so I put away everything that I could.  Then I opened one of the 6 lb. bags of frozen hash browns, filled my dehydrator trays and got them to drying.  Six pounds of hash browns dehydrates down to two quarts of potatoes.  One bag done - three to go.

Sunday morning I started on the 20 lbs. of sausage.  I browned it, drained it and packed it into jars.  Into the pressure canner it went.  I got 24 half pints and 9 pints of sausage crumbles plus 40 sausage patties in the freezer.

There are a whole lot of onions in a 50 lb. bag!  The second batch of chopped onions is drying now, and it will probably take me until the end of the week or longer to finish drying the whole bag.  But I sure am glad to have them.

I needed a break so I checked Facebook to see what my kids were up to.  The first photo I found was of my oldest daughter.  She is on a business trip to Florida.  I'm not sure exactly where she is, but the photo had the caption, "Should I take this baby alligator home?"


Youngest daughter had posted a picture of my granddaughter Nicki's first day of school - both first grade and Senior year.  When Jeri called this afternoon I told her I thought Nicki wouldn't let her take a first day of school picture.  Jeri said she didn't give Nicki a choice.  It is her last school year.  Mom was getting a picture.  I wonder where the time went.  Seems like only yesterday that first picture was taken.


Oldest son in Phoenix posted this picture taken this morning.  This is a freeway.


He called me earlier today to see if I had seen the picture.  I told him I thought Arizona had "dry heat."  He laughed and said that the storm in California was sending rain to Phoenix and there was widespread flooding.  He said he was OK where he was, but there were people stranded everywhere.  They either got caught in the water or didn't realize it was as deep as it is and just drove in only to get stuck there.  He told me about a police SUV driving out of the water with people clinging to the top of the vehicle after they were rescued.  I said I supposed I had better not tell him what nice weather we are having here in Minnesota.  He said come February, we'll talk.

So I've goofed off enough.  Time to get back to chopping more onions for the next dehydrator batch.  Will post as time permits.  It is a lot of work right now, but I surely am glad to be able to restock and will be even more glad to have all of this on the shelves come winter.

Friday, September 5, 2014

MIA For a Bit

Youngest Son called me this morning.  He wanted to know if I would be home tomorrow afternoon.  I said I would.  He said that he and his oldest daughter would be here to take me to Sams Club.  I warned him that my list was fairly long with some heavy stuff included.  He said he didn't care.  He would drive his truck to haul however much I wanted to buy and they would get it all up the stairs for me.

So if all goes well I will be up to my neck in canning hamburger, meatballs, sausage and butter and dehydrating hash browns and onions.  And busy repackaging some of the dry food to fit on my closet pantry shelves and transferring others to buckets.

I've been a bit concerned that I wouldn't be able to get restocked before winter sets in.  This will take care of a major share of that.  I feel so very blessed to have kids and grandkids who are willing to spend a Saturday afternoon to give me the peace of mind that comes with having a well stocked pantry.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Breakfast Treats

Once in a great while it is necessary to my happiness and well being that my breakfast consist of two chocolate brownies and a cold glass of milk.  Today was such a day.

Note to my Grandchildren:  Once. In. A. Great. While. it is alright to have a treat for breakfast as long as it is not a school day.  If your Mom and Dad object, tell them Grandma said.

And if your Daddy still objects,  remind him, very politely of course, of the chocolate malts his Grandpa (my Dad) fed him for breakfast when he was young, much to the chagrin of his Grandma.

My work here is done.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Canning Butter

Let me say right off the bat that I am not telling anyone they should home can butter.  I'm just telling you what I do.  Use your own judgement.

I have been putting off the home canning of butter.  Some time back I made the mistake of following the instructions of someone on YouTube who didn't know what they were talking about.  The experiment was a disaster.  I was a bit reluctant to try again, especially with the price of butter these days.

Then I remembered that Jackie Clay, who writes a column for Backwoods Home Magazine, had posted about how she cans butter.  I trust her judgement as she has been doing this for many years.  She has a question and answer part to her column, and if someone asks about a canning method or recipe that is questionable, Jackie will tell that person if it is safe or not to home can, and why.

Here is the method that Jackie uses to can her butter, in her words:

"To can butter, melt it in a saucepan over low heat. Heat it enough to simmer out any remaining buttermilk. Sterilize your wide mouth half pint jars in boiling water, holding them in simmering water until just before you will fill them so they are sterile and very hot. Simmer your butter for 10 minutes, very gently, to drive off any remaining moisture. Stir often to prevent solids from scorching. Remove jars from heat and invert to drain thoroughly. Then turn them over and carefully ladle the hot butter into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar, place a hot, previously-simmered lid on the jar and screw the ring down firmly tight. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 60 minutes.

You can keep the moisture from settling to the bottom of the jars by waiting until the jars have cooled some after processing, then shaking them gently to redistribute the moisture. Repeat this every 5 minutes or so as the jars cool completely. Carefully check your seals as the shaking could cause a seal to fail. Refrigerate any jar that doesn’t seal and use soon or reprocess the butter from the melting, onward, all over again with a new lid.  -Jackie"

I followed her instructions to the letter.  I started with 6 lbs. of butter that yielded 14 half-pint jars.  The butter tends to separate in the jars, but the gentle shaking of the jars while cooling fixed that problem.

This butter will not be exactly like the butter was before canning.  It will be a little bit grainy the way butter is when it melts and hardens again.  But there is no difference in taste and it melts on toast or vegetables beautifully.  Some may not like the texture, but it doesn't bother me at all.  I would not hesitate to use this butter on a slice of bread, or anywhere else that calls for butter.

I have another 6 lbs of butter in the fridge to can and then I may have to make a run to Sam's Club.  Butter at Sams is $2.75 a pound.  Butter at the grocery is getting close to $4.00 a pound.

Yep.  I'll be canning a lot more of this.