Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I am afraid I am one of those who is easily sidetracked.  I have in mind a chore I want to accomplish and before I know it, I am off doing something else.  I call it my "Oh, look.  Squirrel!" syndrome.

I know I have been talking about canning cranberries from my freezer.  I had really good intentions.  But they are still in the freezer and I am busy with other things.  Squirrel.

Last summer I tried growing some herbs in pots on my windowsills.  I don't know what happened, but I managed to kill them all.  In frustration, I took the pots, dirt, dead plants and all, stuffed the whole shebang into a trash bag and tossed the bag into the back of my closet.  Well yesterday I found them.

I cleaned the dead foliage from the pots, stirred up the soil, watered it down and planted some seeds.  I now have pots with peas, yellow snap beans, cucumbers, sweet green peppers, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe and zucchini.  I have no idea if the seeds will even grow, but I thought it would be fun to try.  I have no expectations of harvesting anything, but at least I may end up with some greenery growing on my windowsills.

So this morning I thought I would can cranberries, but squirrel.

Now that the weather is warmer, I want to get out to the fabric store.  I need fabric for the backs of several quilts and batting.  So I was digging through the tubs that hold the quilt tops - both finished and partially finished - to see what I needed to finish them all.  And in the process I found two bags containing partially crocheted afghans.  I had started them to use up yarn left over from other projects, knowing I would need more yarn to finish them.  So I took some pictures to remind myself of the colors I need.  The fabric store carries yarn as well, so I will get some when I go to buy fabric.

I love crocheted afghans.  My grandmother had a couple of them in this same 'granny square' pattern that I remember from my childhood as being soft and warm and comfy.  The pattern is easy to do and is something I can work on in the evenings while watching a movie.

So as long as there is no canning going on today, I think I will finish my afternoon doing those piddly household chores that never seem to go away - mop the kitchen floor, vacuum, straighten up my pantry, etc.  And I may have to find a cage for that pesky squirrel that keeps diverting my attention.  :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

This and That

It is a lovely day here in the north country.  Temperatures have risen enough so I could shut off the heat in my apartment and crack open a couple of windows.   Spent the morning getting caught up on the household stuff that the latest arthritis flare up prevented me from doing.  Dishes are washed, laundry is folded and put away and a pan of cornbread muffins are in the oven.

Duane and Lori were here this morning.  Duane wanted to borrow my large roaster pan for a beef roast he is cooking for supper.  He raided my shelves for a couple pints of baby carrots to go with the beef.  I am glad when my kids raid the shelves.  That's what all those jars of food are for.  And he will bring me a plate of food for my supper.  Pretty good trade, I'd say.  :)

I was reading the website for one of our local news sources when I saw this headline:
'An Undocumented Future:  Fear in The Immigrant Community.'
Basically the article tells of those illegals who are worried about deportation now that we have a president who seems to believe that laws should be enforced.  I can't really blame many of these people, especially those who have families here.  They were told for eight years that there would be no consequences for breaking our immigration laws.  I suspect they counted on the coronation of Hillary to continue that practice.  Well, surprise, surprise.  Now many are heading for Canada to avoid deportation here.  What a mess Obama created by refusing to enforce those laws.  And how terribly wrong he was to mess with the lives of those who believed him.

So I have goofed off long enough.  I am off to the kitchen to rid the freezer of a few more gallon bags of cranberries that, with any kind of luck, will be cranberry sauce and cranberry juice.  I am almost afraid to see what is lurking underneath all those berries.  :)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Green Fuzzy Blanket Kind of Day

It is cold.  It is breezy.  It is wet.  It will stay like this for the next three or four days.  Arthritis in my joints is protesting.  It is easy to let depression settle over us under these conditions.

But I won't let it.

There is a recliner and a Kindle and some music on the radio and a green fuzzy blanket, all calling my name.

Right after I have a slice of chocolate cake and another cup of coffee.

Take that, arthritis and depression.  You can't begin to compete with chocolate cake and coffee.  Nor can you compete with the jar of home canned ham and beans I'm having for supper tonight, along with a pan of cornbread.

Comfort food and a murder mystery.  And a green fuzzy blanket.  Chases the blues away every time.  :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What If...

What if EBT cards were unavailable to illegal aliens.

What if welfare payments were not given to illegal aliens.

What if illegal aliens had to pay for their own medical care.

What if housing was not provided for illegal aliens.

What if drivers licenses and identity cards were not available to illegal aliens.

What if jobs were not given to illegal aliens.

What if the laws now on the books concerning entering the United States illegally were actually enforced.

What if each member of Congress who is in favor of allowing illegal immigration were required to take several illegal aliens into their own homes.

Probably wouldn't need that wall.  Or it would be up by now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More Canning

I need to empty my chest freezer.  There are Farmer's Market vendors that sell beef and pork by the half or quarter.  Duane and I have decided to order a little later this year and split the meat and the cost.  Having done the math, I find it is cheaper to buy in bulk than it is to buy from the grocery.  And by buying directly from the farmer, we know what we are getting.  So far, in addition to the asparagus, I have canned peas and sweet corn.  Today I am canning ground beef.  Tomorrow it is cranberry sauce, whole cranberries and cranberry juice.  I will be back when I am a little bit closer to seeing the bottom of my freezer.  :)

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Lovely Weekend

As any Mom will tell you, any Mother's Day where you hear from all of your kids is a good day.

My youngest daughter phoned to wish me a Happy Mother's Day.  She is home recovering from knee replacement surgery.  My stairs are not on her list of doable things at present, but I am glad that she is healing and the surgery seems to have been successful.  Her adult kids will spend time with her, as it should be.

Oldest daughter Jill stopped in with a gift.  A little background information here.  I have cellulitis which causes my lower legs and feet to swell.  As a result, it is necessary for me to wear Ace bandages from knees to toes on both legs, 24 - 7 to try to keep the swelling down.  I can not wear regular shoes because of this.  I have a pair of those less than fashionable, Velcro adjustable boot-like things with hard soles to wear outside.  Inside I have been wearing those socks with the gripper soles over the bandages to keep them clean.  So when Jill showed up with a cute pair of house shoes that are made of a knitted, stretchy fabric with a gripper sole and will fit over the bandages, I was thrilled.  When you have probably the ugliest legs and feet in the State of Minnesota, being able to wear something on your feet that looks normal is a great boost to your morale.

The ever practical Duane made a Farmer's Market run and brought me four bundles of asparagus.  I love asparagus.  I cut it into one inch lengths and this morning filled 16 half pint jars that are happily cooking away in my pressure canner.  There is enough left over for at least two meals.  Fresh asparagus is spendy, which is why I don't include it in my grocery order.  Now I will have enough canned so I can treat myself now and then.  I woke from an afternoon nap to find a Mother's Day card next to me from Duane and Lori.  Lori had called me earlier from Colorado where she is visiting relatives.  Made me feel good that she did that.

David, Staci and my three youngest grands came over here on Saturday.  They brought lunch.  And they brought the dog, who puked three times on the way here due to the motion sickness she still has.  I asked David why they didn't wait until she could ride without getting sick and he said that they all wanted me to meet my new Grandpuppy.  Oreo is adorable and so well behaved for a pup.  She obviously adores the kids and they, her.  So I got to pet and love on a puppy again.  It was great!  If she ever grows into those long legs of hers, she will be a good-sized dog.

David's family had another surprise for me.  Knowing I would have to buy a walker soon, I had been researching them to find which one would work best for me.  I don't need to research any longer, for they brought me a walker that fits all of my needs.  It has wheels and brakes.  It has a seat so I can rest when I need to.  It folds up making it easy to carry up and down stairs.  David said he was sorry there was no cup holder.  I had been joking that when I got my walker it had to have a cup holder, an Ooga horn (remember those?), and those handlebar streamers that kids used to attach to their bikes.  Sometimes when faced with the fact that your life has changed and you need help with something as simple as walking, making jokes helps to deal with it.  We  have stormy weather moving in today, but maybe by the end of the week I can be outdoors, terrorizing the neighborhood.  :)

It was a lovely weekend.  It wasn't all about the gifts, though I am pleased by and appreciative of each one.  It was about my kids and grands who are my heart.  I do so love each and every one.  Thank you, God, for blessing me so richly.

Friday, May 12, 2017

News Blackout

I think I need to take a break from the news.

Every morning I pour a cup of coffee, sit down at my computer and check out the various news websites.  This morning I came to the realization that the news headlines are the same old crap - just a different day.

Politically, the left mocks whatever the right is doing and vice versa.  The Democrats will never, ever get over the fact that Hillary lost.  Donald will continue to Tweet stupid things.  And the pundits will continue to pontificate whether they have any actual knowledge or not.  Congress continues to fight among themselves like spoiled children.  And pass laws that are not helpful but mostly harmful to all but the elite.  The Constitution has become an afterthought.  The laws of our land seem to be optional.

Around the world sabers continue to be rattled.  Threats continue to be made.  If we lived in a peaceful world, where would the attention getting soundbites come from.  If world leaders didn't have constant turmoil and strife to keep their populations riled up about, someone might actually figure out that these leaders are mostly ego maniacal blowhards who care little about the general population and a lot about money and power.

Here in the States we have gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.  Special snowflakes need their safe spaces so they need not hear anything that might upset them.  Social Justice Warriors have decided that I need to apologize for being born white.  If I were a white male I would be expected to apologize and then fall upon my sword.  I am expected to accept every perversion known to man as 'the new normal.'  And if I object or openly declare my faith in God, I am racist.  Or guilty of 'hate speech.'

College students dictate to school administrators what should be taught in classrooms, none of which prepares students for the real world.  And the administrators let them get away with it.  Tension between the races is at an all time high.  Peaceful demonstrations turn into window breaking, car burning, rock throwing riots.  Police are told to stand down and let it happen.  Those who are speaking against the thuggery are shouted down or are silenced with just the threat of riots should the speakers exercise their right of free speech.

We have become a lawless nation.  People are welcomed into our country who have broken the law just by coming in through the back door.  We may be accepting some on humanitarian grounds, but the majority of the illegal aliens are here to do more harm than good.  Our taxes pay for their food, housing and medical care and our Vets go without proper care.  Some of those crossing our borders have vowed to kill all who do not convert to Islam.  Many expect US citizens to accommodate their way of life and their beliefs, but have no intention of  accepting ours.  And yet many in Congress fight against securing our borders.

Gangs of thugs block our freeways shouting slogans about killing cops, but few arrests are made.  A friend who is a retired cop tells me the police have their hands tied by the politicians.  I can pretty much guarantee that if I were standing in the middle of a road blocking traffic, I would find myself explaining to a judge why I would do something that stupid.  People are being harassed and even assaulted simply because of who they voted for in the last election.  Some are being abused just to see how many 'likes' the perpetrators can get on their social media live stream.  And some are being hurt just because the thugs think it is funny.

I wish I could change it.  I wish I could just wave a magic wand and turn the world, or at least my country, into Mayberry.  I know there are still good people here.  I know many of them.  I read their blogs and their comments.  I am proud to be related to some of them.  Problem is that the politically correct crowd is larger and stronger and louder and more vicious.  It is like Pandora's box has been opened and has released it's demons among us.

I have no earthly idea where it will all end.  I am not well versed enough in the scriptures to quote any of God's promises or solutions.  And I am not arrogant enough to think I know the mind of God.  What I do know is that we as a nation desperately need to get back to the principals of our founding fathers.  We need to hold true to our core beliefs without worrying about offending those who have differing opinions.  And we need to stand firm against those who seek to destroy us.

That is a pretty tall order.  I have no doubt that my parents and grandparents were equal to the task.  I wonder if we are.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Days Roll On

There is nothing special going on here in my little Home Sweet Apartment.  Just the day to day routine of living.  And when I look at the news and see the chaos in our country, I find myself very grateful that I live such a quiet life.

Lori left yesterday for Colorado to spend time with her family and to see her daughter graduate from college.  We miss her but are really happy for her as this is something she has been looking forward to.  This means Duane is batching it this week.  He came over last evening as he does twice a week to help me with my leg bandages.  I fed him pork chops covered with dressing and baked in the oven.  I will be seeing him often as the landlord has sent workmen to fix the bathroom in Duane's apartment.  The contractor who remodeled the apartments several years ago did a lousy job there.  The shower had developed a large crack in the wall, the toilet had been leaking underneath the floor so the plywood flooring had rotted out and there were other issues.  By the time the work is finished, Duane and Lori will have  brand new bathroom.  Meantime, he is using mine.  Good thing we live so close.

Youngest son David called me yesterday to let me know that he would likely bring his family to see me on Saturday.  It is always fun to see the grands.  They might bring the new puppy.  Puppy still doesn't do car rides very well.  Motion sickness.  And given that puking puppies are not much fun to travel with, they may just wait on the pup's visit.

I am enjoying the spring breeze through my open windows in the afternoons when the outside temperature is warm enough.  I admit to having a slight case of Spring Fever which accounts for the need to tidy things up a bit after the long winter.  The few dust bunnies that have been found are now gone.  Cupboards have been straightened and shelves have been reorganized.  I'm waiting for my grocery order to be delivered today, after which I think I had better bake a couple batches of cookies.  To have a grandchild find an empty cookie jar is just, well, wrong.  :)

My days are peaceful for the most part.  I still am working on being prepared for whatever comes - canning and dehydrating as much as possible - adding to the other supplies - spending some time in the evenings learning skills that may be useful.  YouTube is a great resource for tutorials on most any subject.  So many of the skills that were second nature to our grandparents seem to have been all but lost.  Sometimes I long for the days before electronic gadgets took over our lives.  The days when we read real books and wrote letters in cursive using pen and paper and actually held conversations rather than texting.  I do admit to loving my computer, for it gives me the opportunity to connect to the outside world at a time when it is difficult for me to leave my apartment.  But I think I would give it up to be able to sit on the porch and listen to Grandpa tell stories about his childhood.  I treasure the memories of those conversations with my Dad in his later years.  Reading from a screen or watching a video just isn't the same.  I guess the older I become, the more I wish the world hadn't changed so much.  Sigh.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Spring Has Sprung...

the grass has riz,
I wonder where
the flowers is.

A direct quote from my Dad, who was known to recite that little ditty every spring, for the amusement of his progeny, while taking on the stance of a great orator.  Dad was funny.

I much prefer spring in the country to spring in the city, but even here the wonder of the change in seasons makes itself known.

My building has a communal deck attached to the back.  There is a table and a few chairs there and even though it overlooks the parking lot, it is still a nice place to sit on a sunny spring day, coffee cup and book in hand, for an afternoon of sunshine and mystery novel.

There is a bar located next door to my building, just across the alley, and another behind my building.  It is possible to near snippets of conversation as patrons walk from one to the other.

"Come on.  I'll buy you a drink."
"No, no, no.  But I will take the money."

"I'm going to have one for the road."
"OK.  And I will have one for the gutter."

"There's a reason you can't start that car."
"What's the reason."
"Because it's not your car,"

The downtown area where I live has old fashioned looking street lights.  Every spring the city hangs baskets of brightly colored petunias from hooks on the lamp poles.  There are also large flower boxes on every corner that are filled with more colorful petunias.  I expect to look out my window and see the flowers within a week or so, for Mother's Day is usually when they arrive, turning a drab city street cheerful and pretty.

Whenever my windows are open I can hear the chitter chatter of sparrows and chickadees coming from the tree in front of my building.  Last spring a pair of sparrows built a nest in the small tree outside my living room window.  While the Mama bird sat on her eggs, the male was busy chasing away any and all threats to the nest.  I watched him go after birds several times his size.  The pair hatched out at least four babies and between two and three weeks later, the young birds were out on their own and the parents began a second family.   The nest was partially hidden from view, but I caught glimpses of the babies now and then.  I am easily amused.

Every spring the sky is filled with honking Canadian geese.  Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," but I bet there are more if you include all the smaller ponds.  The geese have been nesting here for generations.  It is not unusual to have to stop your car and wait for mama goose to lead her gaggle of young across the road.  Every summer there is at least one golf course that tries to remove the geese from their pristine fairways.  And each attempt results in failure.  The geese were there first and they will remain, no matter what.

I like fall best of all because of the color, but spring runs a close second.  It means that the long winter is over and there is hope for summer breezes and sunshine.  In February we in the north wonder if we will ever see green grass and leaves again.  We do...thanks to spring.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Beautiful Day

The temperature is 61 degrees and rising.  There is sunshine and blue skies.  A soft breeze finds its way through my open windows.  After lunch I may go sit out on the deck and soak it all in.  Even the scenic view of the parking lot for the bar next door can't put a damper on such a lovely day.

Ah Spring.  You were worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday Ramble

It is a quiet day in the neighborhood today.  I am occupied with the usual chores that keep my apartment livable - washing dishes - putting away yesterday's canned soup - vacuuming - etc.

It is finally looking like Spring.  The temperature reached 65 degrees this afternoon and the forecast is for more of the same.  Brown is no longer the predominate color.  Everywhere I look there is green grass and green leaves coming out on the trees.  We didn't have a bad winter.  But it just seemed to last so long.  Spring is very welcome.  Soon I will be able to open my windows and let that lovely spring breeze in.

I read an article the other day that made me laugh.  It seems that Harvard Law School has stopped the practice of charging a late fee for overdue library books.  The reason for this is that it is way too stressful for the precious snowflakes to have to worry about overdue library fees.  Really?  Overdue book fees are too stressful?  Good grief.  How in the name of all that is good and holy are those people going to handle the stress of everyday living.  Not to mention the stress that goes along with their chosen profession of Attorney at Law.   If I should ever need a good attorney, I'm pretty sure I would want one who wasn't stressed by overdue library fees.

So I am off to the kitchen to fix me a bit of supper.  I'm thinking some homemade chicken nuggets and a bowl of coleslaw.  With a dish of banana pudding for dessert.  Works for me!

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Good Day For Soup

I don't think the temperature got much over 36 degrees today.  And it has been raining off and on for a couple of days.  I won't complain.  The worst of the weather went around us and that included snow.  Any time the snow gives us a miss, I am happy.  But the chilly, wet weather is most definitely good soup making weather.

Friday before my dance watching marathon, I dug four ham bones out of the freezer, tossed them into my biggest stock pot, covered them with water and simmered them most of the day.  I picked the meat from the bones and strained the resulting broth.  There was enough good, rich ham broth to cook up three bags of split peas, which I did today.  I added some diced carrots from the freezer, a couple of handfuls of my dehydrated onions, some garlic powder and the ham pieces.  I let the soup simmer all afternoon and then ladled it into pint jars.  I got 16 pints of split pea and ham soup, with enough left over for supper.

I have about 20 lbs. of hamburger in the freezer, so tonight I will take that out to thaw and can it up tomorrow.  Seems like whenever I take something out of the freezer to can, I find more food underneath it that needs to be processed.  I still have cranberries that were under the hamburger, so dealing with them is my next project.  Maybe if I keep at it, I might actually find the bottom of my freezer.  Maybe.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

This afternoon I received an email from Youngest Son.  His oldest, my granddaughter Boston, has a dance competition this weekend.  It will be live streamed so I can watch it.  He sent me the link and the scheduled times for Boston's dances.

Later my phone rang.  It was Boston.  "I am so excited that you are going to watch me dance, Grandma."  I'm excited, too.  This is the first time this year that one of her competitions has been live streamed.  I haven't as yet seen her solo tap dance and I'm really looking forward to watching her perform it.

I told Boston that I already had my popcorn popper out and ready to go, so I could watch her dance and munch popcorn, just like in the theaters.  She said, "Grandma, you're so funny."

I will be back on Monday after my marathon dance competition watching.

Go get 'em, Miss B.  Dance like nobody's watching!!

Love, Grandma

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dad and the Seven Foot Tall Tomato Plant

My Dad loved to grow things.  He lovingly tended his gardens for many years.  And when he could no longer garden, he planted tomatoes in pots on the balcony of his apartment.

One fall he found that a tomato plant had not yet died off as had the others, so when the nights became colder, he brought it indoors.  He continued to water it and it continued to grow.

Dad lived in a town of about 600 people, not ten miles from where he was born.  Everyone knew everyone else.  Knowing Dad, I suspect that he did just a little bit of bragging on his tall tomato plant.  Probably showed it off to some of his friends and relatives who lived in the same Senior apartment building.

Word got around and one afternoon a reporter from the local weekly newspaper came knocking on his door.  An interview was given and pictures were taken.  And Dad and his tomato plant had their 15 minutes of fame the following week when the paper was published.

Some years later I inherited a box full of family pictures.  While sorting them out, I found this one.

That's Dad.  That's the famous tomato plant.  Dad was 5' 5" tall so the plant might look taller than it was.  I looked at the distance between the top of the plant and his living room ceiling.  Looks to be about a foot.  After this photo was taken, the silly plant continued to grow until it touched the ceiling.

We always teased him that it must have been a slow news week when the article appeared in the newspaper.  He just smiled and remarked that he knew of nobody else who had grown a 7 foot tall tomato plant.

I sure miss that old man.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Just Not Working

I have been trying all morning to write a new post and it just isn't working.  The words aren't there.  It isn't that the subject is difficult, for it was just about another day in the life of this chubby granny.  Rather than fight with it any longer, I shall give my brain a time-out and head to the kitchen to re-can some pickles and bake some bread.  Perhaps tomorrow my brain cells will line up and let me write something that makes sense.  :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

If I report the bad...

then I had better report the good.

A little while ago there was a knock on my door.  It was my neighbor.  The one of the barking dog and smoke alarm fame.  That one.

He said he was truly sorry for the trouble he had caused.  He hoped I would accept his apology and his assurance that there would not be a repeat performance.

I accepted his apology.  All I want is for him to take responsibility for his actions and to stop doing dumb stuff that threatens me and mine.  And aside from the smoke alarm incidents, he is a quiet neighbor who doesn't bother anyone.

I do not know what brought about this change in attitude.  And it really doesn't matter.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt.  After all, he isn't the only one living here who has slipped into stupid at one time or another.

And I would hate to see Cooper have to move.  I love that dog.  :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Couple of Days R&R and a Bit of Apartment House Excitement

So I thought I was Wonder Woman.

I'm not.

After all the canning I need a couple of days of rest and recuperation.  Dratted arthritis!  All I had left to can was hamburger and peas.  Those are now in the freezer waiting until my aching joints get with the program.  I had some onions, cabbage and bell peppers leftover, so those will go into the dehydrators this evening.

There was a bit of excitement here in my building Saturday night.  My neighbor across the hall seems to have overindulged at the bar,  came home and put some food in his oven and neglected to take it out.  I heard his dog barking about 1 AM.  The dog never barks unless something is wrong in his world.  Then the neighbor's smoke alarm started blaring at 1:30 AM.  I had been dozing in my recliner and when I noticed it was still going off 20 minutes later and I started to get up to call 911 when it stopped.

Duane asked me the next day if I had heard all the excitement.  I had not, for I must have gone to sleep right after the alarm stopped.  He said that he and Lori opened their apartment door to find out where the alarm was, and they found the hallway was filled with a smoky haze.  Lori called 911.  Police and firemen showed up in short order and found the source of the smoke.    They set up fans to clear the smoke from the building.  Duane came here to check on me and found me peacefully snoozing.  Duane and Lori said that later the neighbor, thinking the caretakers had made the call, had taken his drunken self down the hall and was pounding on the caretaker's door, shouting obscenities and calling them some very unflattering names.

This is the third time this fool has done this.  We are hoping our landlord will invite him to take his sorry self elsewhere to live.

Aside from that, all is quiet and peaceful in my little corner of the world.  :)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Canning Corn Relish

I like to have a variety of relishes on hand.  They give just a little bit of zing to a meal.  One of my favorites is corn relish.  Here is the recipe.

Corn Relish

6 cups cooked fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp pickling salt
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp turmeric

Combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Immediately fill hot pint or half-pint jars with mixture, leaving 1/2-inch head space.
Process pints or half-pints in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

I doubled the recipe.  That gave me 12 pints of relish plus about a half pint to eat with supper tonite.

I am taking tomorrow off.  Duane is baking a huge ham.  He is working his magic with a sauce that has pineapple in it.  He and Lori are doing most of the cooking.  All I have to do is make some candied carrots and set the table.  Spoil me, they do.  :)

This is me, wishing all of my blog friends a happy and blessed Easter.

Canning Grapes

So I decided to try another experiment.  I am canning grapes.

Now, why on earth would anybody want to can grapes, you might ask.  First, I love grapes.  Nearly every grocery order includes grapes.

Second, lets pretend that the reason we prepare has happened and the only food we have to eat is the food we have stored.  If I had canned no other meat than chicken, or if I only had canned peaches for fruit, it wouldn't take very long before I could not stand the sight of chicken or peaches.  That's why I can a variety of meats and fruits.  And grapes are just another variety to add to my shelves.

I have not canned grapes before, but according to those who have, they can up well.  If you only like fresh grapes, this method is probably not for you.  But if you like the grapes that come in a can of fruit cocktail, you might like these.

Canning grapes is easy, peasy.  Remove the grapes from their stems and wash them well.  Fill jars with grapes (I used pints) to within 1 inch from the top of the jar.  Make a simple syrup of sugar and water.  As grapes are naturally sweet, I used a very light syrup of 6 1/2 cups of water and 3/4 cup sugar, brought to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  This is enough for 8 - 9 pints.  Pour the syrup over the grapes and water bath can them for 15 minutes.

I had ordered 2 lbs. of green grapes and 2 lbs. of red.  That gave me 6 pints of grapes, total (minus a handful or two or three that I ate).  When the jars had cooled, I opened one to see how I would like them, and I did.  I would think you could use them like fruit cocktail, just for snacking or maybe as a dessert.  I will probably can more of these.

You gotta try new things.  :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Canning Ham and Bean and Vegetable Soup

When I can soups I keep the recipe as simple as possible.  If I keep the ingredients basic, I can add others when it is served, giving me more options.

Last evening I did the prep work on the ingredients for this soup.  This recipe calls for the following per pint jar, layered in no particular order:

1/3 cup of dry white beans that have been sorted and washed
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced ham
2 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
water to fill jar

The jars are processed in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my altitude.  The beans will cook through and expand while processing.  The recipe can be doubled for quarts that are processed for 90 minutes.  I ran through a canner load of 16 pints.

Some instructions for similar soups call for more beans.  I am reluctant to use more because the beans fully expand in the canner.  Too many beans in the jar will push the lids off when they expand, leaving a nasty mess in the canner and the loss of your jars of soup.

Some serve the soup as is with just the addition of salt and pepper.  Others add a variety of spices and seasonings to taste.  Some like the addition of tomatoes or tomato powder for a different flavor.  There are all sorts of possibilities.

This soup along with a chicken vegetable variety are my "go to" soups.  I make sure I have lots of both canned and on the shelves so that I can use both in a variety of ways.  They are nice to have when you want a quick lunch or supper.  Add a salad or cornbread or maybe a slice of homemade bread and you have a really quick and easy meal.  And as you know, I am all about quick, easy meals now that I am cooking for just one.

More Soup

I still had vegetables and ham left after canning the ham, bean and vegetable soup.  I also had some potatoes that needed to be used up.  So I peeled and diced the potatoes.  Each pint jar got 2/3 cup of potatoes and 1/3 cup each ham, carrots and celery.  I added 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder for flavor and water to cover.  I ran this through the pressure canner at 10 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes.  I got 16 pints of ham, potato and vegetable soup.
I sort of made this soup up as I went along so I'm not exactly sure what to do with it.  I expect it can be eaten as is or maybe thickened for a chowder type soup.  No matter how it is consumed, it is still 16 more meals on the shelf.  And that's the goal - fill the shelves.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Canning Kielbasa

As it turned out this week, the only food items I needed to order were eggs and milk.  So I thought it might be a good opportunity to fill out my grocery order with things to can.  My groceries were delivered this afternoon.  In order to get a head start on the canning, I started with the easiest which is kielbasa.  This is sort of an experiment for me as I have not canned kielbasa before.

I started out with 6 rings of kielbasa.  I cut them into about 1 inch thick pieces.  I didn't want the pieces any smaller than that because of the time they are in the pressure canner.  I was afraid they would become a bit crunchy if the slices were too thin.  I am not fond of most meats that are canned in liquid so I added none to the jars.  I just packed pint jars with the kielbasa chunks and pressure canned them for 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my area.  I got 7 pints from the 6 kielbasa rings.

I am pleased with the results.  The kielbasa did not shrink hardly at all in the canning process, and the taste and texture are really good.  I will can more of this.

Tomorrow I am canning ham, bean and vegetable soup and will post the recipe when the soup comes out of the canner.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Taking a Few Days Off

I have a major canning session coming up after my grocery delivery on Thursday.  Duane and Lori picked up 6 cases of pint jars and 3 cases of half pints for me.  I hope that will be enough.  At any rate, I am taking a few days off to deal with those pesky domestic chores that need my attention before I am knee-deep in home canned stuff.  Instructions and a recipe or two to follow.  Meanwhile, those folks listed over there in the sidebar have all sorts of interesting things to say.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Canning Ham

So yesterday I saw that ham was on sale at my local grocery.  Ham is one of my favorite meats to can and my supply was getting low.  Lori said she would be happy to do a grocery run for me (Bless her heart.).  She came back with a lovely spiral cut ham for our Easter dinner and 4 regular hams for me to can.  The hams to can weighed in at about 40 pounds, total.

I spent the afternoon cutting the meat from the bones.  Roughly a third of the meat was cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks to be used for regular ham dinners.  The rest was cut into smaller cubes.  These will be used in scalloped potatoes and ham or casseroles or for sandwiches.

Early this morning I packed the ham into pint and half pint jars.  I don't add any liquid.  The ham generates its own juices.  Both are processed in the pressure canner for 75 minutes.  The four hams gave me 13 pints of the larger chunks and 45 half pints of the smaller cubes.

There is a generous amount of meat left on the bones, so maybe tomorrow I will boil up the bones and can the resulting ham broth.  The meat will be packaged and frozen for use in ham and beans or in soup.

It is good to have a variety of meats on the shelf and canning ham is one way to accomplish that.  It is a bonus that the home canned ham tastes really good.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


You know what our local weatherman said?

He said it might snow tomorrow.

That is just wrong, even for Minnesota.

Mother Nature, I don't like you very much any more.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Jelly Experiment

I bought 6 jars of grape jelly a while back.  The good thing was, they were on sale.  The bad thing was, the jelly came in 32 ounce jars.  There is no way I can eat a quart of grape jelly before it starts growing mold.  Jelly isn't supposed to be hairy.

So I decided this morning to try something with it.  I opened one jar, dumped the contents into a sauce pan and heated the jelly over a low flame until it became liquid.  Then I poured it into half pint jars and hot water bath canned them for 15 minutes.

I wasn't at all sure the jelly would jell up after being melted, but it was worth a try.

It worked.  Now I have my sale jelly in small enough jars so that it will be used up before it goes bad.

Think outside the box.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Do You Have Enough Home Canned Food

That is a question I have been pondering this week.  Because I enjoy the process and results of canning food in jars and because I seem to be constantly rearranging to make room on the shelves for more, I began to wonder when I would have enough.

If I were canning for just myself I would probably concede that I have enough now to last me a couple of years, even with using it regularly as I do.  But there is more to consider.  For a number of years I have taken into consideration that because my oldest son is the one who does grocery and Farmer's Market runs for me and because he has hauled countless cases of jars up the stairs to my apartment, often refusing to let me pay, that my canning efforts would feed him as well as myself.  And now that his girlfriend has joined our family and they live in my building, the food in jars is, of course, split three ways.  That gives me maybe a years worth of canned food.

None of us knows what the future holds.  The only thing I know for sure is that I now live in a more volatile world than I have ever before in my lifetime seen.  There are riots in the streets over any number of causes, political and racial being the two most prominent.   We have those who are supposed to be representing we the people, fighting amongst themselves worse than the Hatfields and McCoys.  We have the occasional terrorist who tries to kill as many of us as possible for the glory of Allah.  We have countries in the Middle East whose theme song seems to be "Death to America."   And lest we forget, there is that crazy North Korean dictator who threatens on almost a weekly basis to nuke us to smithereens or at the very least, nuke our electric grid out of existence.  And we haven't even talked about the natural disasters that could occur.

So all of that being said, when do I have enough food in jars to stop canning.  Do I stop when there is enough to feed three people for a year?  Or do I think ahead to the possibility of other family members knocking on my door when their food supply is gone.  I am not saying this will happen, but what if it did.

Someone once looked at my well stocked shelves and asked me, in all seriousness, what in the world I was going to do with all that food, should nothing bad ever happen.  I said I didn't know.  Maybe I would it.

To answer my own question about when do you have enough food stored, I think that "never" is likely correct.  Especially for those of us who live where we can not raise our own fruit and vegetables and livestock.  Eventually, no matter what our best efforts are, the food will run out.  But having a couple of years of food stocked, we have given ourselves time to plan and carry out the next move should it be necessary.  It is good to have options.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quiet Weekend

It was a very quiet weekend here in my little Home Sweet Apartment.  I did a whole lot of nuthin'.

Oh, there were the usual domestic chores that keep one's living space from turning into pig sty.  There were dishes to be washed and  floors to be swept and dust to be removed from furniture surfaces.  But between bouts of domesticity there were mystery novels to be read and movies to be watched and most importantly, naps to be taken.

Youngest Son called and wanted to know what I was doing.  I replied that I was pretty much just being a turnip.  He said he wished he could just be a turnip for a day.  He was busy doing those chores that most folks with jobs do on weekends.  And he was driving his offspring to dance competitions and hockey games.  Makes me appreciate retirement even more.

So I am off to do a couple loads of laundry.  And maybe bake a pan of brownies.  In a world that has gone completely mad, sometimes a pan of brownies is all that stands between us and total insanity.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

If I Brag About Successes...

then I also need to report my fails.

Out of the 14 quarts of chili I canned, one jar didn't seal right out of the canner.  That is not unusual.  While I was washing the jars prior to shelving them, another six jars popped their seals.  That is unusual.

I am not sure why this happened.  There are a number of reason why lids don't seal, but this is the first time I can remember having jars that seal, only to come loose the next day.

I put the offending jars in the fridge.  Tomorrow I will transfer the chili from the jars to freezer bags and freeze them.  I am debating whether or not I should just open the rest of the jars and freeze the contents of them as well.  With a failure rate of 50%, it seems likely that others could lose their seals and I could have chili on my shelf, slowly rotting away if I don't catch the popped seals right away.  Better to err on the side of caution.

On the bright side, I didn't lose any chili due to spoilage.  Good thing I cleaned out the freezer.  :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lots of Chili

So yesterday I cleaned out the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.  I did that mostly because in my typical unorganized fashion, stuff was just crammed in there willy nilly.  And when a rock solid package of food slid out when the door was opened, I was in danger of winding up with a busted toe.  I can't jump out of the way of falling objects quite as fast as I used to.  Anyway, in the process of cleaning and sorting, I found about 15 lbs. of hamburger.  Decided it was time to can some chili.  I had been out of my home canned chili for a while and I really like having it on hand for a quick meal.

This morning I browned the meat, drained it and tossed it into my big stock pot.  I added 9 pints of tomatoes with green peppers and onions that I had canned a couple of years ago.  That wasn't enough, so I added 5 quarts of diced tomatoes.  Threw in a big handful of dehydrated onions just because.  I had a couple of cases of kidney beans in the pantry, so I added 6 cans of them to the mix.  I seasoned the chili with salt and pepper and chili powder to taste.

When I can chili, I don't need to cook it first.  I just heat it up enough to warm it before filling the jars.  Because the chili contains meat, the quart jars are processed in the pressure canner for 90 minutes which is plenty of time to fully cook it.  I wound up with 14 quarts of chili.

When I was growing up, my Mom always served chili over rice.  I always thought she did that because she liked it that way.  It wasn't until I was grown and feeding my own family that I realized she used the rice to stretch the chili to feed our family.  By that time I liked the combination of chili and rice, so while the chili was in the canner I cooked up a big pot of rice, let it cool down and portioned it out into small freezer bags and froze it.  So now when I want chili for supper, I just need to microwave the rice enough to thaw it out and heat it up while the chili heats on the stove.  Add a pan of cornbread and I have a quick, easy supper.  And goodness knows, I am all about quick and easy meals.  :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shakopee Wind Symphony Tour

My grandson, Zach, has spent the last year and maybe longer, raising money for his school Symphony Tour to Europe.  He sold cheese, summer sausage, fruit boxes, chocolates and I can't remember what all else.  I think the only thing I couldn't buy from him was the coupon for car washes, because I don't own a car.

Anyway, the group flew out of Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday.  A 9 hour flight found them in Munich, Germany.  They traveled to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic where they stayed the night and today they go to Prague for some sightseeing and a performance.

My oldest daughter, Zach's Mom, went along as a chaperone.  Jill is posting pictures on Facebook.  There is also a blog set up by the teacher to keep a record of their trip.

Zach and Jill at the Chicago airport.

I'm pretty sure when Zach decided to learn to play the trombone, he didn't know it would lead to a trip like this.  I am so exited for both Zach and his Mom.  I know they will have a wonderful time making memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Roast Beast and Caramel Sauce

So Oldest Son wants to know if he can borrow my large roasting pan.  I say he sure can if he comes over and retrieves it from on top of my kitchen cupboard where it lives.  I don't do step stools any more.  When he gets here, he wants to know if I would like a plate of roast beast with potatoes and carrots for supper.  Of course I would.  And it was hand delivered right to my kitchen table.  And it was delicious.  And I didn't have to lift a finger.  And there is enough left over for my supper tomorrow.  Life is good.  :)

I imagine most have heard of making caramel sauce by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk.  The other day I saw a video where the milk was poured into half-pint jars and water bath canned for three hours.  I decided to try it.  Son brought me some cans of the cheaper store brand sweetened condensed milk and some cans of the more expensive name brand.  He figured I could can both to see if there was any difference in the finished product.  So today I gave it a try.

After supper we did a taste test on the caramel sauce.  Turns out the cheap stuff from Walmart has a more creamy consistency and tastes better than the more expensive name brand.  I had some on ice cream for dessert and it is really good.  I think it might make a good caramel dipping sauce for apple slices, too.

I have to add a disclaimer here.  This is not an "approved" product to home can.  Which means that the government agency in charge of the home canning rules has not tested this and therefore has not given it's approval.  That being said, I am not telling you to can sweetened condensed milk as caramel sauce.  I am just reporting on what I did.

And that it is really, really good.  :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How did we survive!!!

I was doodling about the internet this morning while waiting for the coffee to perk and I stumbled upon this little article.  There is no author listed, but here is the link.  As I have no real post today, I offer this for your amusement.  Enjoy.

If you lived as a child in the 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's

Looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets.

When we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. Our parents knew that all the neighbors would watch out for all the kids. No cell phones. Unthinkable.

We played dodge ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt.

We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda, but we were never overweight... we were always outside playing. We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends. We went outside and found them.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian.

How did we do it?

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment.... The teams actually kept score and the winning team was allowed to be excited and the losing team learned to be good sports about it and learned that, in life - sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade..... Horrors. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.

Almost no one went to "pre-school" and when we graduated high school we all knew how to read, use proper grammar and do basic math. We all learned how to count out change without a calculator to tell us the amount.

The worst problems in school were tardiness and chewing gum in class. Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law ... imagine that!

If you misbehaved - your parents spanked you and no one arrested them for doing that! We also learned that when a parent said "No" - they actually meant that and our lives would not be ruined forever by being denied every little thing we wanted at any given moment.

New toys were received on birthdays and holidays..... not on every trip to the store. Parents gave us gifts out of love.... not out of guilt.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

And you're one of them.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

More Canning and Dehydrating

Lately I have been concentrating on using my grocery delivery service to bring me items to add to my food storage.  This week, in addition to the normal groceries I use like fresh fruits and vegetables, I ordered 6 lbs. of butter.  Those, along with the 6 lbs. I had in my freezer, are waiting to be canned in half pint jars.  The half pints are just right for everyday use for one person or maybe two, but I need to can some more in pint jars for when I need butter for baking.  Thing is, I am low on pint jars.  I may have to buy a few more cases of jars or wait until I empty more from my shelves.  If you are a canner, you know that one can never have too many jars.  :)

I had 2 bags of hash browns in my freezer, so I ordered 4 more.  Those went on the dehydrator trays that were lined with the plastic mesh inserts to keep the little bits from falling through the trays.  I like having the dehydrated hash browns on hand.  They just need to be soaked in water for maybe 15 minutes, then drained and they are ready to fry or to use in casseroles.

Next were the frozen vegetables.  This time I got 6 bags of broccoli and 6 bags of whole kernel corn.  Dehydrating frozen vegetables is a snap.  Just spread them out on the mesh lined trays and set the dehydrator temperature at 135 degrees.  I did chop the broccoli into smaller pieces to use in soups or casseroles and so they would dry a little more quickly.

I ordered 10 lbs of russet potatoes.  These I will be slicing thin using a mandolin, blanching the slices for 3 minutes and spreading them in a single layer on the trays.  They are dried at the same temperature as the other vegetables.  I use these mostly for scalloped potatoes.  I find that cooking them in a crock pot works better for me than using the oven.  My instructions for crockpot scalloped potatoes using dehydrated potatoes are here.

Sometimes I will re-can food, when it is less expensive to do so than it is to make it from scratch.  This is true of sweet pickles.  Because I can not raise my own cucumbers and have to buy them at the Farmer's Market, canning sweet pickles become somewhat pricey to make.  I had 3 jars of sweet bread and butter pickles on the shelf from when I bought them on sale.  The jars each contain 24 ounces of pickles, which is way more than I consume within several months.  I ordered 3 more jars.  I will be dumping the pickles and juice into a stock pot and heating them to near boiling.  Then I will be packing the pickle slices and juice into half-pint jars and water bath canning them for 10 minutes.  If you have to have a really crisp pickle this probably won't work for you as they soften up just a little bit in the process.  I don't mind, so it works just fine for me and gives me jars of sweet pickles that get eaten soon after opening and don't live in my fridge for months on end.

We like the baby dill pickles too, and those cukes aren't so expensive, so we get them at the Farmer's Market.  I use Mrs. Wage's dill pickle mix when canning those and they turn out absolutely delicious.

I need to spread the work over several day's time.  If I don't, I am finding it takes this old body a couple of days to recover.  I am not happy about that turn of events at this stage of my life, but there it is.  So today I will deal with the butter and pickles and Monday will find me up to my elbows in potato slices.

Mama Pea over at " A Home Grown Journal" had a giveaway - and I was one of the winners!!  She gave away two sets of potholders she made.

I appropriated the photo from her blog.  I hope she doesn't mind.  My camera battery gave out and I really wanted to show how pretty these potholders are.  Mine are the top set.  I admire anyone who does handmade.  She makes some of the prettiest quilts and she knits socks and I don't know what all else.  And there are posts about her homesteading experiences.  I just love her blog.

And now I am off to work on the canning of butter and pickles.  Hope your weekend is snow free and shows signs of spring.  :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I'm really, really busy the next few days.  I'll be back Saturday.  Meanwhile, the folks in the sidebar have lots of good stuff to see and read.  Enjoy.  :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I have a new...


Youngest son called me today.  Told me to check my email because there was a surprise waiting for me.  I did.  There was.

Meet Oreo.

She is half Australian Shepherd and half Standard Poodle.  And she is just so stinkin' cute.  She is getting to know her surroundings and I have no doubt she will be a good dog for the kids.

I hope that sometime after she settles in, she can come for a visit.  Grandpuppies are almost as much fun to spoil as are grandkids.  :)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Days and Nights Switched

I was blessed to become the mother of four babies.  At one time or another, at least two of them got their days and nights switched around.  They wanted to sleep during daylight hours and were wide awake, happy, smiling and wanting to play at 2 AM.

It seems I have reverted to the behavior of those babies.  I suppose I can blame some of it on being retired and living alone.  I no longer need to keep "office hours."  Nobody tells me it is time to get up or time to go to bed.  I can nap whenever I feel tired.  I can stay up all night if I am not tired.  And I do.

It is not all bad.  There are no revving of engines or honking of horns in the street outside my windows in the middle of the night.  There are no delivery trucks in the alley alongside my building.  The bar patrons have gone home.  Aside from the occasional train going past on the tracks a half a block away, the city is peaceful at 3 AM.  I like that.

It is 2:30 AM.  My second load of laundry is swooshing away in the washer and the dryer is humming along.  I am slowly but surely moving my home canned fruit and soups from the bedroom shelves to the ones in the living room, and arranging the meat and vegetables on the bedroom shelves.

I take frequent breaks.  I can not be on my feet for more than 15 minutes at a time without feeling pain in my back and legs.  So I use this down time to write blog posts or watch videos or read.  The sit-down time is also used to make out my grocery order and decide what I need to can or dehydrate next week.  I do online research to find the items I need to get to round out my preps and make a list to send with Duane or Lori the next time they are going shopping.  They are so good to pick up what I need.

My sewing mojo seems to have left me, but I have been pinning together quilt pieces, getting them ready for the sewing machine.  Perhaps by the weekend I will be inspired to sew them together.  Lori has said she will take me to the fabric store for quilt batting and fabric for the backs of my quilts.  We will do that when the weather is warmer and when I have my walker.   I don't think the fabric store has those handicap motorized carts, so it is necessary to wait until my walker arrives.  It will be nice to be able to get out and about again.

Maybe by then my days and nights will be back where they should be.  This weekend we start Daylight Savings Time, so that might help.  Maybe.  At any rate, I guess it really doesn't matter when a person sleeps or when they are up and about.  This should come as no great surprise to me as I have never been one to do things strictly by the book anyway.  :)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Strange Weather Day

This is the time of year when most Minnesotans are tired of the snow and cold.  I would be complaining, too, except that there isn't any snow and today's temperature topped out at nearly 65 degrees.  Late this afternoon a storm rolled through complete with thunder and lightning.  And a tornado touched down north of Minneapolis.  Another one was spotted near our southern border.  A tornado in February has never happened here since the Weather Bureau began keeping records.

And snow is predicted for the weekend.

I think Mother Nature must be off her meds.

Lori is in the northern part of the state for a few days.  Her Dad is suffering the effects of aging, so she goes to see him as often as she can.  Duane was alone, so I asked him if he would like to come over for supper when he got off work.  I had a couple of butternut squash that needed  to be eaten and we both love squash.  A couple of thick pork chops added to it made a pretty good meal.  It is nice to have someone to cook for now and then.

I keep busy.  At least as busy as arthritic joints will allow.  This goofy weather with it's changes in temperatures and conditions every other day seems to bring on flare-ups, but it does help to keep moving as much as possible.  In addition to the usual household chores, I sorted out my dehydrated foods.  I keep them in freezer bags stored in Banker's boxes on a set of shelve behind my bedroom door.  I had gotten lazy and hadn't put some many of the bags into the proper boxes.  Now that I have, I can tell how much I need to dehydrate and what I have enough of.

While Duane was here I asked him to get down a bottle of maple syrup from the top of one of my shelves.  It is nice having a tall person living close by, especially when you aren't much over 5 feet tall and don't climb well any more.  I need the syrup for a recipe of caramel corn that you make using the microwave.  It is really good stuff.

Microwave Caramel Corn

Pop 1/3 Cup of popcorn kernels.  I use my air-popper.

Mix together 5 Tbsp. butter, 1/2 Cup brown sugar and 2 - 1/2 Tbsp. real maple syrup.
Microwave for 2 minutes.
Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 - 1/2 tsp. salt.
Stir in 1/2 tsp. baking soda.  This will cause the sugar mixture to foam up.
Pour over the popcorn and mix well.

Microwave the caramel corn for 1 minute.  Stir.  Repeat at 30 second intervals until the popcorn is a rich, caramel color.  (Three or four times.)

Duane said he would trade me some caramel corn for a milkshake made using crushed Girl Scout Thin Mints.  Sounds like a pretty good trade to me.  :)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Canning Sweet & Sour Chicken

I like to keep some heat and serve meals on hand for days I am busy and don't want to spend time cooking.  I have had this recipe in my files for a long time - so long I don't recall where I found it.  I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try. This is the original recipe.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in bite sized pieces
3 large green peppers chopped
2 large onions chopped
3 (20 oz) cans pineapple chunks drained, reserve juice

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 tsp ginger

Layer the chicken, onions, peppers and pineapple in quart jars.
Heat the brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, ginger, and 3 cups of pineapple juice (add water if there is not enough) and bring to a light boil until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour liquid over the solids in the jar to the fill line.
Pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure or according to your elevation.

I did a couple of things differently.  I used frozen chicken breast, so I thawed it, cut it up and stir-fried the pieces in a little bit of oil until they were just cooked through.  You can use raw chicken, but when I have canned raw chicken before, the juices sort of become glued to the inside of the jar during the canning process.  I didn't want that to happen.

I used pint jars rather than quarts.  I had to double the sauce in order to have enough.  I had ordered a few cans of pineapple juice in case I needed more sauce and that worked out well.  By using the canned juice, I didn't need to open more cans of pineapple just for the juice.

Because I used pint jars instead of quarts, the processing time was 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.

If you expect this recipe to look like the take-out sweet & sour chicken from the Chinese deli, you will be disappointed.  The chicken and pineapple chunks take on a brownish color during canning.  The onions and peppers are softer than regular stir-fry.  I used a little cornstarch in water to thicken the sauce while heating it up and served it over rice.  If you can get past the color changes, the taste is excellent.

It is good to have jars of quick and easy meals on hand.  This is a  nice change from the usual soups I can.  I got 15 pints from this recipe, doubling the amount of sauce.  If by chance there is sauce left over, it can be water bath canned for 15 minutes.  I will be canning at least one more batch.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rollerskates and Hayrides

When I was between the ages of 5 and 9, my family lived in town.  One of the things that kept kids in my neighborhood busy in the summer was roller skating.  Now, we aren't talking fancy rollerblades.  This is what we had.

That key at the bottom of the picture was used to tighten the toe clamps on the skates.  Every kid I knew had a skate key on a string around their neck whether they were skating that day or not.  It was sort of a 1950's fashion statement among the kiddie crowd.

You put your feet on the skates, buckled the leather straps around your ankles and tightened the clamps.  You learned quickly to wear hard soled leather shoes for skating.  Skates clamped to sneakers soon raised some impressive blisters.

It took a while to get the hang of sidewalk rollerskating.  I think my knees had scabs on them all that first summer I skated.  When four or five kids got together to skate, you could hear us coming a block away.  The metal wheels were noisy on the sidewalk and each time you skated over a crack, a clickety clackity sound was heard.

There were two ways to negotiate the curb at the end of a block.  There were no wheelchair ramps then, so you either jumped off the curb or fell off.  You knew which method was used by the size of the scabs on the knees.

When I was about 10 years of age, my parents bought a big, old farmhouse on 20 acres of land.  One of the first things I did upon moving to the country was to join the local 4-H club.  To my delight I discovered that once in a while the club had a "Fun Night" and sometimes the fun included a 20 mile drive to the nearest roller rink.

None of the kids could afford shoe skates of their own, so skates like these were rented at the rink.

The roller rink where we skated had a floor about the size of a basketball court.  There were colored lights in the ceiling and one of those mirrored disco balls in the center.  Round and round and round we skated, trying not to run over the smaller kids and staying away from the better skaters.  I always wished I could skate backwards or do the dance steps, but I did pretty well as long as I kept moving forward.  To try to do anything fancy usually ended in disaster.

The 4-H club held a hayride on Halloween night.  We didn't go trick or treating.  The houses were just too far apart.  Everyone gathered at the two-room schoolhouse where the club meetings were held.  One of the local farmers arrived on his tractor, pulling a hayrack behind.  Hay had been spread over the bed of the hayrack and we all piled on.  A couple of the dads, armed with flashlights, came along to keep the older boys from becoming too rowdy, to keep the younger kids from falling off and to keep the older boys and girls from becoming too amorous in the dark.

We rode for about an hour - up and down gravel roads and across fields and pastures.  Arriving back at the schoolhouse, there were games like bobbing for apples and pin the tail on the donkey.  The moms provided treats - hot apple cider - sandwiches - pumpkin cookies - brownies with orange colored frosting.  Each child took home a small bag of Halloween candy.

I suppose all that was pretty tame compared to the elaborate Halloween doings for kids today, but for a kid in the late 1950's and early 1960's, it was absolutely wonderful!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Quiet Time

Even though that nasty flu bug seems to have finally departed, it has left me somewhat worn down.  So there hasn't been anything in the way of sewing or food processing going on here lately.  I am mostly catching up on the chores that fell by the wayside while I was down.  Laundry took priority today as well as getting rid of those science experiments gone bad in my fridge.

I have spent some time on my computer the last couple of days.  It was nice to catch up on reading many of the blogs I enjoy.  It was not so nice to catch up on the news.  It seems the left still have their panties in a twist over the election results and they don't seem inclined to stop acting like tantrum throwing toddlers any time soon.  I read today about some who screamed like demented banshees in order to disrupt the opening prayer at a town hall meeting  and then continued during the Pledge of Allegiance.  Those on the right are not entirely blameless, either.  I understand that the favorite sport of politicians has always been to take pot shots at one another, but it seems like the mood in our country has gone way beyond mere insults.  I'm not so sure that the divide can be mended.

Some believe that the new administration will cure what ails us.  Others believe it will ruin us.  Most folks don't seem to care as long as they can watch sports on their big screen TVs, buy whatever they want at their local grocery whose shelves are always full or can get the newest electronic gadget.  They think life will continue as it always has.  Maybe it will.

But then again, maybe it won't.

Me...I have no faith in governments.  I have no illusions that they are on my side.  So I have been spending time assessing my preps and making a list of those things where I am not as well prepared as I should be.  The list includes where I can find these things and the most economical place to buy them.  I don't think anyone can be completely ready for whatever comes our way, but it just makes sense to me to give it my best shot.

God tells us that He will provide.  I know this is true, for He has blessed me with family who care and with the means to do what I need to do.  I'm not talking about providing me with a truckload of money, for that is not the case.  And I don't think for a minute that God will send someone to my door with a sandwich and a Coca Cola when I am hungry.  I am talking about providing me with the opportunities to learn the skills that will help me and my family should our world go sideways.  I am talking about giving me the clear vision to see that all is not well.  

I am noticing that many are slowing down on their preparations.  Even though I feel more hopeful than I have for a long time, now is not the time to back off.  About the time we become complacent is the time when we usually are smacked between the eyes with a 2x4.  I have always thought that after 6 days of creation and a day of rest, God said, "OK, Murphy.  You are in charge now."

I suspect I am preaching to the choir here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Memories

Growing up, Sundays were always a day of worship and a day of rest.  Sunday school and church services were mandatory.  There were Bible verses to be memorized during the week and then recited in class and sermons to be listened to afterward.  The preachers then didn't give a hoot about your "feeeelings."  They weren't even close to being politically correct.  They preached Hellfire and Brimstone.  They didn't worry about offending anyone. If you didn't repent and give up your wicked ways, you were going directly to Hell.  There were no gray areas.  I think I liked that.  At least you left the church service knowing exactly where you stood.

Arriving home from church, we were greeted by wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen.  Before church, Mother would put a pot roast or a chicken or a pork roast in a pan, surround it with potatoes, carrots and onions and let it slow bake in the oven while we were gone.  I noticed that if the preacher was particularly long-winded and his sermon went past the noon hour, Mother would get fidgety, worried that her Sunday dinner would dry out in the oven before she got home.  I don't ever remember that happening.  Sunday dinners were always the highlight of the week as far as meals went.

Sunday afternoons were a time for family.  We didn't always do things together, but we were still together as a family.  On rainy Sundays I could be found in my bedroom, reading Bobsey Twins books or the latest Nancy Drew mystery.  Or sometimes I would just sit listening to the radio and knitting or crocheting.   Or maybe embroidering a pretty picture on one of those flour sack dishtowels.  My little sister was more interested in dolls so she would be in the playhouse my Dad built for her, having a tea party with the neighbor girls.  Or we might spend the afternoon putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  There was always a card table set up with a half finished puzzle on it.

I never understood Mother's reasoning, but she believed that regular playing cards were evil.  So in the evenings we might play some Mother approved card games like Rook or Uno or Old Maid.  Sometimes Dad would get out one of the board games and we would play Scrabble or Yahtzee or Sorry or Clue (The professor in the library with a candlestick.)  :)

Sunny summer Sunday afternoons were a good time to go for a ride.  We didn't usually have a destination in mind.  We might stop at one of the one room schoolhouses in the area and play on the swings and teeter-totters.  Or we might go for a swim at the lake.  Sometimes Dad would just drive a meandering path until we came to one of the small towns in the area where he would find a place that sold ice cream cones.

Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon we would have company come.  Could be friends from town or my aunt and uncle and cousins.  Dad might set up the badminton net for the kids or maybe get out the croquet set.  Most often he would fill the ice cream maker with the ingredients and ice, and set the kids out on the back steps to work the crank until we had real, homemade ice cream.  The best was when he added sliced peaches or strawberries to the mixture.  We would enjoy the ice cream with a pitcher of ice cold lemonade and either gingersnaps or sugar cookies out on the front porch.

Now you might say that I grew up in a Mayberry kind of world, and you might be close to right.  It was a time, 60 years ago, when we enjoyed the more simple things in life.  It wasn't perfect by any means, but we were raised by parents who taught us right from wrong and who took the time to be with us, whether it was going for a Sunday ride or to church or playing a game of Scrabble.  I look at my grands and see that even though their world is much different than mine was, they are still being raised with some of the Mayberry values.  Gives me hope for their futures.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sat in my rocker this morning...

 watching out the windows, waiting for the blizzard the weather people have been forecasting for the past few days.  You know how they are, at least how they are in snow country.  They get all wound up at the thought of a snow storm and act like it is the storm of the century.

Giving credit where credit is due, folks living 70 - 90 miles south of here have 10 to 12 inches of snow on the ground so far, so the forecasters got that part right.  But my little suburb was lucky to see maybe half a dozen snowflakes.  Not exactly the makings of the horrible Friday morning commute they have been warning us about.

There are many who are disappointed the storm missed us.  I'm sure those who ski or ride snowmobiles would like to see some snow.  The little we had is gone after a week of 50-plus temps. complaints here.  I have kids and their spouses and a couple of grands who have to drive to and from work no matter what the weather and I am happier knowing they are driving on dry roads.

In a normal year, we are up to our backsides in snow by now.  That being said, here is what my oldest  daughter was doing last week.

"Golfing in February.  Awesome."

She has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh.  Laughter is the very best medicine.  :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Round 2

Symptoms started last evening.  When I woke up this morning there was no doubt that the flu had returned.  I am not alone.  Chickenmom has also had a relapse, as have several others.  I will return when I feel less like something you would scrape off the bottom of your shoe and more like my old self.  Be careful out there.  This stuff will sneak up on you and kick your behind, given half a chance.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sometimes Dumb Stuff Happens When You Are Sick

My regular readers know that due to physical limitations, I use a grocery delivery service.  They call every other Monday to take my order and deliver my groceries on Thursday that week.  I make out my grocery list well in advance of the call.  And this time, well in advance of the flu bug slapping me upside the head.

Monday, while in a flu induced fog, I read off my list to the order taker, hung up the phone and went back to bed.  It did not register with me until my groceries were delivered that I had failed to remove from the list 12 lbs. of hamburger to use in canning a big batch of chili, several large green peppers to use in canning sweet and sour chicken and 6 lbs. of butter to add to the 4 lbs. in the fridge, also to be canned.  I suppose I could have put all of that into the freezer - except that the freezer is already full to the top.

So I spent today prepping the food.  Chicken breasts have been cut into bite sized pieces.  Peppers have been cleaned and cut into pieces along with onions.  Hamburger has been browned.  All are in plastic bags in the fridge.  Quart jars of home canned tomatoes and cans of kidney beans along with a jar of chili powder are waiting on the end of my kitchen table, as well as cans of pineapple chunks for the sweet and sour chicken.  Tomorrow morning the canning will begin.

And guess what.  I feel better now than I have since the flu bug showed up.  I think I must be one of those people who feels better when doing something than when just laying about.  Granted, I had to take several rest breaks, but even with that, it sure is nice to be back in the land of the living.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Jury is Still Out...

but the general opinion is that I will likely live after all.  Still feel somewhat crappy and I have learned the art of hibernation, but slowly I'm beginning to feel somewhat human again.  The biggest thing I have done since Monday is to open and heat jars of home canned soup.  My appetite is slowly returning and I added a sandwich to the menu this evening.  Thank you for the comments and concern.  With any kind of luck I shall be back to annoying the general public in another couple of days.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Flu Bug

Oldest Son had the flu this past week.  Missed a couple days of work.  He shared.  My own fault.  I asked him to come over to help me.  He is better.  I am not.  Headed back to bed.  This flu bug isn't lethal - just has given me that "run over by a bus" feeling.  I will be back as soon as possible to dazzle you with my brilliant posts.  But not today.  Probably not tomorrow either.  I can be found under my green fuzzy blanket, Kleenex and cough syrup and fruit juice at hand.  I really hate this.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Check List

Rugs vacuumed - check.
Meals prepared ahead for the weekend - check.
Laundry in progress - check.
Dishes washed and floor swept - check.

Sewing machine uncovered, threaded and a fresh needle inserted - check.

Remaining weekend of sewing little pieces of fabric to other little pieces of fabric well under way.  Other folks look at a weekend as a time to party.  This little old lady looks at the weekend as a time to create.  See you all next week - with pictures.

Have a great weekend doing what makes you happy.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday Ramble...

I think my get up and go has got up and left.  Can't seem to get motivated to do much of anything today.  Spent part of the morning wrapped in my green fuzzy blanket, Kindle in hand.  The rest of the morning was devoted to reading my favorite blogs and roaming about on the web.  There were several cups of coffee involved, so it wasn't completely wasted time.

Here in my little corner of Suburbia, Mother Nature seems to have developed a case of attention deficit disorder.  Earlier this week the temps were just at the freezing point which made streets and sidewalks interesting when the misty rain froze to their surfaces.  Early this morning the temperature hovered at +3 degrees, rising to +13 by noon.  Tomorrow temps in the +40 degree range are predicted.  And after that, the weatherman's guess is as good as mine.  When I look out my window I see a few patches of ice and no snow which is unusual for this time of year, even in my downtown location where streets are plowed and sidewalks shoveled.  I am not complaining.  Could be like "Joisey" where Chickenmom lives.  She says they are expecting at least a foot of the white stuff today.

I have been just scanning the headlines of the day to keep myself somewhat informed about what is going on in the world around me.  I find myself becoming irritated at the childish antics of our lawmakers.  Years back, when children squabbled and hurled insults at one another, their parents applied the palm of the hand to the seat of the pants and sent the miscreants to bed without supper.  I get an urge to do the same to those in Congress, considering they are more often than not acting like tantrum throwing toddlers.

Guess I have goofed off long enough.  Time to open a jar of ham and bean soup for lunch.  After that I think I can rouse myself enough to bake some cookies.  Chocolate chip and maybe peanut butter.  Chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk makes the world look a bit brighter.  :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Finishing Up

Saturday sort of wore me out, so I took Sunday off.  Turned into a  slug, I did.  Watched a couple of movies.  Did a bit of sewing on my quilt top.  Read several chapters of my latest murder mystery.  Drank coffee.  Took naps.  It was a lovely day.

Had a bit of a scare Saturday evening.  Oldest Son was cooking supper when he fainted dead away.  Scraped up his back some and hit his head on a chair on the way down.  Lori took him to the Emergency Room where they ran an EKG, a CT scan to make sure his brains weren't too badly scrambled and took X-Rays to make sure he hadn't done damage to his back.  The tests were all negative.  The doctors decided he was dehydrated and gave him some intravenous fluids.  A few hours later he was back home with a giant headache and very stiff back, but thankfully, all in one piece.  Lori promised me she would make him mind and not overdo, a difficult task considering he is at least as stubborn as his mother.  I don't care how old our children are, they are still our babies and we worry.  I am just thankful Lori was there to help.

This morning I pressure canned the ham cubes, winding up with 20 half pint jars.  The half pints are just the right size for one person to use for ham sandwiches or ham and scrambled eggs or in omelets.  The next time I can ham I will use pint jars.  That is a good amount of meat for scalloped potatoes and ham or in soup or casseroles.

I washed the jars of potatoes and carrots, wrote the contents and date on the lids and stocked them on the shelf.  I had filled 34 pint jars with half potato dices and half carrot dices.  My reasoning was that this would work well for smaller batches of soup or stew at times when I want a quick meal - just add broth, meat and seasonings.  There were more potatoes than carrots, so I canned 10 pints of potato dices to be used mostly for fried breakfast potatoes.  They are fully cooked after processing, so all I need to do is brown them in a frying pan and maybe toss in some onion or garlic.

The onions and cabbage went into the dehydrators late this afternoon.  They should be fully dried by morning.  I seem to go through a lot of onions, so that is something I order in quantity at least once every couple of months to dehydrate.  I keep a few fresh onions but drying them seems to be the best way for me to keep them on hand.

And that, I think, is enough for one day.  Time to fix a bit of supper, fire up the Kindle and read awhile.  It has been a good day.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Canning Season

Most folks who have a garden find themselves up to their hips in vegetables to can in the fall when it is time to harvest.  Because I don't have a garden, my canning season is whenever I find a good sale at the grocery store.

This week I ordered two of those boneless half hams.  They were 2 1/2 lbs. each.  I also got 20 lbs. of russet potatoes and 8 lbs. of carrots.  And I have about 15 lbs. of onions and one head of cabbage.

I spent the better part of Friday prepping the ham and potatoes and carrots.  The ham was cut into 1 inch cubes.  The potatoes and carrots were run through my food chopper and turned into 1/2 inch cubes.  Saturday morning I will run them through my pressure canner.

While the canner is doing its thing, I will chop the onions and shred the cabbage for the dehydrator.

I know that I have already put back enough canned and dried food for at least a year.  Oldest Son has been working with me on this prepping thing for the last few years, so I figure the amounts I need for his household and mine.

I had planned on sewing Friday and Saturday, but it is a matter of priorities.  Some say I am foolish to can and dehydrate so much, but the meat I canned two years ago that I ate for supper cost considerably less when I bought it than it does now.  And the ham I bought this week will likely cost more next year.  And even though things seem to be looking a bit brighter now, we still live in an uncertain world with more unrest here in the States than I can remember.  So, I keep on adding to the pantry whenever I can.  Just in case...