Tuesday, November 27, 2012


(The following occurred right after I posted about taking a blogging break.  I need to post this now, rather than waiting until spring.)


Noodle was a one-of-a-kind cat.  Not in his breed, which was everyday Tabby, but in his personality.  He was lively, mischievous and an all around pain in the whatever.  And I was silly in love with him.

Noodle came to live with my son when he married Staci.  Sort of a package deal.  They also had Charlie the Beagle, who was kenneled during the day while they were at work, because he had a passion for chewing on cupboards.  Noodle spent his days harassing poor Charlie, who couldn't get to Noodle to teach him some manners.  Eventually it was decided that Noodle might be happier living with me.  Charlie would certainly be happier.

I don't know for sure whether a cat has the capacity for revenge, but I would almost swear that Noodle did.  When I wouldn't share a pan of brownies with him, he stomped through the middle of them.

When I banned him from my bedroom because he thought that chewing on my hair was lots of fun, he would sit outside the bedroom door and yowl at the top of his lungs - at 2:30 AM.  When I left the house without his permission, he made sure that he knocked my computer mouse off the desk and onto the floor.  (I finally got a wireless mouse and hid it in the desk drawer when not in use.)  He has been known to knock all sorts of things off onto the floor, but he was particularly fond of my mouse.

My Yorkies loved Noodle.  The cat food dish is kept on top of my chest freezer in my kitchen.  This is to keep the dogs out of the cat food.  But Noodle didn't mind sharing.  He would flip pieces of the dry food out of his bowl and onto the floor.  As long as the dogs were there scarfing up the cat food, he would keep on flipping it to them.

I have a pillow behind me on my computer chair for back support.  On top of that pillow was Noodle's favorite spot to sleep.  But only when I was sitting in the chair.  When I got to the point where I was in danger of sliding off the chair, I would reach behind me and scoot him off the chair and onto the floor.  That didn't bother Noodle in the least.  He just strolled under my chair and hopped back up on the side opposite of where he had been unseated.  Time and time again.  He could have played that game all day.

I am not sure of Noodle's actual age, but he was no longer young.  For that reason I kept an eye on him.  The Sunday evening after Thanksgiving, I noticed that he was acting a bit odd.  He didn't try to jump into my chair, or any of his other sleeping spots, but would lay quietly on the floor next to me.  He yowled once or twice, and I put him on my recliner, his usual nap spot.  The next morning I couldn't find him.  He was usually waiting for me by his food bowl every morning.  I hunted for him and finally found him sleeping behind my TV stand in the living room.  As he was sleeping, I left him alone.  When he came out in the early afternoon, it was obvious he was in distress.  It was then I called David, who came right away and took him to a vet.  There was nothing to be done for him.

Noodle lived with me for at least 8 years.  Maybe longer.  He was like a naughty little boy who, when he does something bad (but never really bad), you have to try really hard not to laugh while scolding him.

I hope that Kitty Heaven has lots of things to knock onto floors and lots of dogs to harass.  And most of all, lots of pillows to snooze on.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Time Off

I have decided to take some time off from blogging.  I find that the well is pretty much dry.  I find myself with ideas for posts, write them, and then draw a blank for a week or two.  As I have several projects planned for the cold winter months when I rarely go out, I think I will concentrate on those.  Thank you to all who read and especially to those who comment and let me know that I am not writing just for myself.

See you in the Spring.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Brothers are full of surprises.  At least mine is.

Kelly called me late this afternoon.  Asked how I was doing.  Said it had  been a little while since we talked.  Wanted to know if I was going to be home.  Said he would see me in about 45 minutes!

I always love spending time with my brother, whether it is for a day or two, or whether it is just for a couple of hours, like today.  He had some time before a scheduled meeting and wanted to spend it with me.  

We drank coffee and talked and looked at some old photos and talked and ate spaghetti and talked some more.  I was having so much fun that I didn't even think about taking any pictures.

Now that is the kind of surprise that I really like.  I hope that he will continue to surprise me like that.  

I love you, Brother.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Aunt Em and Me

My mother's youngest sister, Emily, spent lots of time with me when I was very young.  She once told me that she thought we were more like sisters than aunt and niece.  I think this was because we were only 10 years apart in age, and because she considered her sister (my mother) to be a second mother to her.

I consider myself very blessed to have had an aunt/sister like her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homemade Bread

I really love homemade bread.  I don't make it very often in the summertime.  The oven heats up the apartment to nearly unbearable.  But yesterday morning the temperature outside was in the teens, a few snowflakes were blowing past my window and it seemed like a good day for baking.

My Mom made the most delicious yeast rolls in the world.  So using her recipe, I stirred up a batch.  I could tell that it had been a while since I kneaded bread.  A hot shower got rid of the aches in my arms and shoulders!

Not content with just rolls, I made another large batch of bread dough.....enough for two loaves and a pan of cinnamon rolls.  If I am going to make a mess, I might as well make it worthwhile.  All of it turned out really good.

I miss having kids around to swipe hot rolls just out of the oven, slathering them with butter.  Or fighting over who gets the heel from a warm loaf of bread.  Eating the heel isn't quite as much fun if you can't beat a sibling to it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Digital Books

I have been having a bit of fun lately, downloading digital books.  I found several websites that have free downloads of books where the copyrights have expired.  They are old books - many from the early 1900's, but they are interesting to me.

I love the old cookbooks.  You need a bit of an imagination to figure out some of the instructions:  "Take a cupful of flour and a spoon of fat..."   "Cook until it resembles cornmeal mush..."   I particularly like this recipe for butterscotch:

Butter Scotch
1/2 Cupful of Molasses
1/2 Cupful of Sugar
1/2 Cupful of Butter
Boil until it strings. Pour into buttered tin and when cold break into pieces. This is very nice when cooled on snow.

I have downloaded novels and biographies and poetry as well as old cookbooks.  I don't have a Kindle as I just can't justify spending that much money, but I did download a free Kindle Reader that works well on my computer.  Some books I have in a text format.  They are all fun to read.  The only drawback is that it is sort of hard to curl up in a comfy chair to read from a computer that is not a laptop!

I also have built up a library of audio books from some of these same websites.  My computer is located next to my kitchen.  I take a speaker, set it on a little table around the corner from my computer, and listen to books being read to me while I work in my kitchen.  Even though these books are old, they are still interesting and I don't have to go out and buy reading material.  Which is a good thing because for me, being without something to read is a disaster.

Here are some of the websites where I found books:


The  free Kindle for PC came from Amazon.com.

As a person who loves a good sale, I can testify that free is even better, especially when it comes to books.  And given the fact that space is very limited in my apartment, this works well for me.

So go.....download a book.....turn off the TV.....and read something.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beauty Contest Winner

When I was a little girl, my Mom entered a photo of me in a kiddie beauty contest.

I won 3rd place.

You are impressed, aren't you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Unhappy Pooch

Jessie Jane is not happy.

She is learning that just because it is my dinnertime, that doesn't mean that it is her dinnertime.  I do not share.  At least, I do not share spaghetti with my dog.  Not unless I want to spend time in the not too distant future cleaning my rug, as spaghetti doesn't settle well on Jessie's stomach.

I really didn't mind so much the standing and staring at me as I ate.  I didn't even mind the way her little eyes followed every movement of my fork.  I could live with that.

But when she started barking at me to cuss me out for not giving her part of my meal, it was time to draw the line in the sand.

I now eat my dinner in peace.

Jessie now spends my dinnertime in her kennel.

Grumbling.  And pouting.

Oh well!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Simple Happiness

One of the advantages of living a simple lifestyle is that it takes very little to make me happy.  My happiness doesn't come from the amount of money I have or the stuff I own.  It comes from the little things.

Like today.  While at the grocery store I checked the price of hamburger.  The kind I usually buy was $2.59 a pound.  I put a 5 lb. package in my cart.  About 20 minutes later I was back at the meat counter looking for something I had forgotten, and found that the hamburger had been reduced to $1.29 a pound.  Today was the "Sell By" date.  So this time I put 30 lbs into my cart.

After I got home, I browned it all and packed part of it into pint jars.  The third canner load is processing as I write.  Will finish canning the rest tomorrow morning.  I should wind up with at least 35 pints of hamburger.  That amounts to close to 70 meals for me, as I can generally get two meals out of one pint jar.

Yep.....it's the little things.

By the way.....if anyone is interested in canning hamburger, I have tried a couple of different methods.  The first hamburger I canned, I browned the meat, packed it into jars, added broth and canned it according to the directions for ground beef.  When I tried a jar of that hamburger, I wasn't at all happy with it.  It turned out with sort of the taste and consistency of dog food.  Which is what I will use that batch for.

Then I read a post by Jackie Clay on the Backwoods Home blog.  She is a canning goddess and many of the methods and recipes I use successfully come from her blog.  (The link is in the sidebar.)  She said that the method she uses for hamburger is the same process I used, except she doesn't add any liquid to the jars.  I tried it and it worked like a charm.  The hamburger turns out just like it was cooked fresh.

Another of those simple things that make me happy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Back From Blogging Break

I have taken a bit of a break from blogging.  This fall I had fruit and produce coming at me from all directions.  It seemed that I no sooner was done with one batch when another would appear.

I canned ten crates of peaches and eight of pears.  There were two batches of tomatoes, 150 lbs in each batch.  Then there was 200 lbs of potatoes and 30 lbs of carrots, not to mention a big box of cranberries and some huge cabbages and a dozen big green peppers.  Oh, and don't forget the apples.....at least 40 lbs of them.  God bless Duane who made a couple of extra trips with the fruit for me and both Duane and Becky for the trips to the Farmer's Market.  And most of all for huffing all of it up the stairs for me.  To say nothing of the cases of canning jars.  I never would have been able to do all of this had they not helped me so much.

I lost track after a while of how many jars of fruit and produce I got out of all of that.  But I made peach and pear sauce and a little peach jam, about a dozen jars of canned cabbage, many quarts of potatoes and carrots combined, and many more jars of cubed potatoes.  There are jars of pasta sauce, pizza sauce and tomatoes with green peppers and onions and more of tomato juice.  And jars of homemade vegetable soup.

I had wanted to try making cranberry juice, so I did that this year and it turned out great.  I think I had over 50 jars of juice.  Before I drank some of it! There was lots of pulp left after making the juice, so I ran that through my food mill and added an equal amount of cooked apples and some sugar to sweeten it a little.  Made really good cranberry applesauce.

I dehydrated about two quarts of chopped cranberries to use in cranberry bread and muffins, and dried more apples.  I also dried some of the cabbage as it works really well in soup.  And dried cranberries and apple peels, ground into a powder, make a good, soothing tea.

I still have lots of tomatoes that have been peeled and diced, in my freezer.  Some of that will be made into chili to can and the rest used for pasta sauce and tomato juice.

So now I just need to concentrate on canning meat.  I have been hearing rumors that prices may go down some, so I hope to get some good sale buys.  I don't cook big meals the way I did when my family was home.  Now that I live alone, I really like being able to open a jar or two and have a good meal.

I realize that some in my family think that I go way overboard on the canning and dehydrating.  But then I watched news stories last week about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and saw the pictures of people standing in line for food and heard the stories of grocery stores either stripped bare or cash registers not working due to the lack of electricity.  And the pictures of people digging in dumpsters looking for food.  Now, here in the upper Midwest we don't get hurricanes.  What we get are straight line wind storms, rain storms with lots of thunder and lightning, tornadoes and blizzards, all of which can knock out electric service.

If a tornado takes the building I live in, then I am out of luck.  But if not, I am ready.  Nobody in my family will have to stand in line and beg for food or go dumpster diving in order to eat.  That is a comfort to me, gives me peace of mind and is well worth all of the work that goes into preparing and canning food.

And then I took a week and pretty much did nothing.  Life is good.