Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Dogs Know...

how to take care of one another.

Little bitty Lily the Yorkie has been having eye problems lately.  She either has a sort of cold that settled in her eyes or it is allergies.  At any rate, her eyelids become matted with gook.  If it gets to the point where her sight is hindered, she will come to me and pester me until I take her to the kitchen, set her on the table, wash the gook from her eyes and administer the drops from the vet.  Then she goes bouncing away, a happy pooch again.

She will also pester me if she decides whatever I am doing isn't nearly as important as pets, ear scratches and belly rubs.  Yesterday I noticed when she wanted attention, the fur around her eyes was wet and there was no eye gook.  Same thing this morning.  So I started watching both the dogs closely.

It appears that Jessie Jane has taken it upon herself to keep Lily's eyes clear.  She spends a lot of time cleaning them.  Lily just sits there and lets her.  Almost like mama cleaning her pup.

I have two kennels.  A smaller one and a larger one.  I don't lock the dogs in unless there are people here.  They are free to come and go and they sleep in them.  Both of them love the smaller kennel and there is always a race to see who gets to it first.  Jessie Jane usually wins.  But the past couple of days, Jessie Jane sits and waits to see which kennel Lily wants, and lets her have the small one with no fuss at all.   Under normal circumstances the one who loses the kennel race will come to me and tattle, but not lately.  Lily's eyes are much improved and I expect the problem to be cleared up soon, at which time I have no doubt that the great kennel race will be on again.

Whoever says that dogs can't figure things out for themselves has had either really dumb dogs or never had one at all.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Son...

left his home in Minnesota this morning.  He checked in via Facebook from the other side of Omaha this afternoon.  I pray that he has a safe trip and finds what he is looking for at his destination in Phoenix.

Even though I want happiness and contentment and all good things for him, my heart hurts a little.

So You Don't Have Room For Preps...

I hear that excuse for not preparing often.  Usually from folks who have large homes.  I'm here to tell you that you do have room and here's why.

I live in a 1-bedroom apartment that measures a little over 500 square feet - about half the size of your average 3-bedroom rambler. There have to be a lot of people like me living in similar conditions.  Now if you are one of those people who has to have the perfectly decorated living space then read no further.  This is not for you.  But if you are more interested in staying alive when things get really bad - and I have no doubt they will - then read on.

My living room couch is pulled out about 8 or 9 inches from the wall.  Behind it are 2-liter soda bottles full of water.  I will be laying a board or heavy cardboard across the tops of those bottles in order to stack another row on top.  You can't tell that there is anything behind the couch.  Water bottles also live in a corner behind my TV stand.  More reside on a closet shelf.  Water is important.  You can live a while without food, but lack of water will kill you fairly quickly.  When you have no room for the large water barrels, find another solution.  This is mine.

My bedroom holds two heavy duty shelving units, each four feet long and seven feet high.  These hold all of my home canned food.  There is another smaller shelving unit that fits behind my bedroom door that holds all of my dehydrated food plus extra canning jar rings.  My bedroom stays fairly dark and cool.  This is important for the food stored there.  Light and heat are the enemy of home canned foods.  Light and moisture are not friends to dehydrated food.  My bedroom will never make the pages of House Beautiful.  I don't care.  I will be able to eat tomorrow.

I have two closets in my bedroom.  One is small but deep and that holds clothes and odds and ends in plastic tubs.  I got rid of the junk.  I don't need stuff.  I need space.  The other closet is a standard double door sized closet.  The top shelf holds more water bottles.  Because this is a rental unit, filling it with built-in shelves was not an option, so I bought several small, free standing, stackable shelves and set them against the back closet wall.  There is space on one side of the shelves for buckets of sugar and flour.  The shelves hold things like baking powder, peanut butter, powdered milk, etc.  Even though it is not really handy, there is room in front of the shelves to stack boxes containing rice, beans, pasta, etc., so I bought cardboard banker's boxes and they work well.  Yes, I have to move them to get to the shelves.  I can live with that.

The one storage area that I can not use at present is under my bed.  My spring and mattress sit on a wooden box frame so I can't access that space under the bed without lifting up the spring and mattress.  Next year I will be ready to replace the bed.  At that time I plan to use the space underneath for storing toilet paper, pet food, kitty litter, etc.  Cases of store bought canned goods will also slide easily into that space.

If a person does home canning, there are always empty canning jars to deal with.  I use my canned food almost daily and that rotates out the older food which is replaced with newer.  But what to do with the jars.  My cupboard space is extremely limited.  What is here holds dishes, pots and pans and the items I regularly use for baking and cooking  I bought three free standing units that are about six feet tall and 18 inches wide.  Each has two small cupboards with doors and three shelves.  These units hold everything from my cookbooks, spices, packages of jello, etc.  I make a lot of my own seasoning like taco and chili seasoning mixes, and those are in jars on the shelves along with other mixes like for scalloped potatoes or gravy.  Canisters for brown sugar, powdered sugar, coffee and flour are in those cupboards, handy when I need them.  When I run out of something, I just go to my closet pantry and grab whatever I need to replace it.  No running to the store.

Back to the canning jars.  The only solution I have found is to neatly stack the jars in their original boxes.  I have space beside the free standing shelves in the kitchen and the jars are stacked there.  It may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they are neatly stacked according to size and they are clean.  I need the jars for my survival more than I need a picture perfect kitchen.

There are lots of ideas for small space storage on the internet.  This is just some of what works for me in my situation.  I like to have things pretty, but I am way less concerned about house beautiful than I am about staying alive when disaster strikes.  There are those who think the stores will always be there, full of food.  We all saw a while back what happened when there was a glitch in the welfare system and EBT cards didn't work for a few hours.  How long do you suppose it would take, should those cards be cancelled altogether, for the riots to start and grocery shelves to be cleared.  If we don't remember the Katrina debacle, we should.  The pictures of people looking in dumpsters for food after Hurricane Sandy are still fresh in my mind.  So are the interviews of irate citizens complaining that the government wasn't there to take care of them.

I'll be damned if I will be one of those people.  As long as I am able to care for myself, I will.  I will endure the glazed look that appears on faces when I mention food storage.  I will put up with those who ridicule my efforts, believing that nothing will ever change.  But in the end, I will survive.  And attain my goal.  Which is to live long enough to be a problem to my children.

I think I am close to achieving that goal!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Don't Forget the Pets

I've pretty much figured out how much food I need to store for myself for one year.  And I go over that amount a bit to take into consideration the jars of peaches, pears and other goodies that walk out of here with my kids.

But I hadn't figured out how much pet food I needed for the same amount of time.  I hate to say it, but I only plan to store six months worth of dog food at a time because my Yorkies are getting up there in age.  At 13 - 14 years each (I never knew their exact birth dates), they already have had long lives.  Both are healthy, but Jessie Jane has slowed down considerably and Lily is prone to catching colds or coming down with other doggie related health problems.  They may fool me, though.  My last Cocker Spaniel lived to the ripe old age of 16.

Anyway, the last time I bought dog and cat food, I got small bags of each.  I kept track of how long each bag lasted to give me an idea of how much to buy before winter sets in.  I wound up shivering at the bus stop more than once last winter just because I was low on their food.  Not gonna happen this winter.

What I discovered was that, pound for pound of food, Kizzie the cat consumes as much as both dogs put together.

I wonder if they make exercise machines for cats.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Interesting Start To My Day

Now and then sleep eludes me.  Last night was one of those.  I went to bed around 11:30 and finally gave up on sleeping over an hour later.  I got up and came into my living room where my computer is located, sat down and decided to write for a while.  I had a couple of ideas for blog posts, so I worked on them.

Somewhere around 2 AM I shut the computer off and settled down in my recliner.  Sometimes I sleep better there than in bed.  I was just starting to doze when I heard a sound that resembled a thud.  I remember thinking that some damn fool drunk had run his car into the corner of the building beneath my open window.  My nine pound early warning system, Lily the Yorkie, was peacefully snoozing in her kennel.  I knew there was nothing in the hallway to worry about or she would have been loudly protecting her food dish.  She can go from a sound asleep to standing stiff-legged barking like mad in about three seconds if anyone lingers outside my apartment door.  I listened for a minute or two for any other sounds, heard nothing, and then fell asleep.

About 6 AM Lily wakes me.  She is loudly guarding her food.  Between barks I catch the sound of a sharp rapping on my door.  I ask who is there and a voice identifies himself as a police officer.  A look through the peephole confirms this.  His face is familiar to me so I ask him in.  He says they noticed my open window and wondered if I had heard any noises during the night.  I describe what I heard.  He wants to know if I heard anything that sounded like breaking glass and I reply that I did not.  He is particularly interested in the time of night I heard the sound.  He then explains to me that during the night someone broke into the bicycle shop beneath my apartment and stole a particularly expensive bike from the show window.  He apologizes for waking me at such an early hour,  asks me to call if I remember anything else, apologizes again and leaves.

This is the second time this summer that something has occurred here that involved the police.  Earlier my neighbor's grandson had broken into the bar behind my building, had cut himself up in the process and had then raised all sorts of hell trying to get his drugged up self to his grandmother's apartment to hide.  And now this.  Even with a bar next door and another behind the building, it is a fairly quiet neighborhood.  There is the usual Saturday night whooping and hollering from the younger set who, after a few beers, don't seem to have the sense that God gave a goose.  There is an occasional fight but even those are few and far between.

My slightly paranoid, tin foil hat wearing self has to wonder if this might not be a sign of things to come.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

So True

I saw this a while back and stole it.  I forget who I stole it from.  With a bitter winter predicted for us here in Minnesota, I thought perhaps those of us living in the tundra might want to rethink our plans.

Well, nobody but my friend Rob who moved with his family back home from Florida.

And me, who came home from southern Missouri.

I said goodbye to my oldest son this morning.  We had breakfast at the little family restaurant where he worked years ago and where he and I have shared breakfast many times.  He is on his way to pick up the trailer and will load it up with the help of friends, and will be on his way to Arizona in another day or so.  I'm sad because he is leaving, but at the same time glad that he won't have to suffer through another Minnesota winter.

He tried to give me back his keys to my apartment.  I wouldn't let him.  I want all of my kids to know that no matter what, they can always come home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Smile

"And it was my idea to plant sunflowers, Dad."

Dad said he would probably need a bobcat to pull out the roots.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

More Surprises

I had just taken a pan of biscuits out of the oven when there was a knock at my door.  It was my next-door neighbor.  She wanted to borrow a light bulb.

I asked her in while I went to my stash of bulbs to find the size she needed.  When I returned to the kitchen, I asked her if she had eaten supper yet.  She said she hadn't, so I dished up a plate of stew and biscuits for her.  After we ate, she said she had to get home as she was waiting for a visitor to show up.  When I opened the door for her, she said that I should look out in the hall near the door - that she almost forgot what she had set down there.  This lady had a stroke a while back, and as a result she sometimes forgets things, and has to do things like set down a parcel in order to be able to knock on a door.

When I stuck my head out to look, I spotted a pile of fabric.  She said that she knows I sew and thought I could use it.  She said she can't sew any more and she wanted me to have it.  I tried to pay her, but she wouldn't hear of it.

After she went back home I took a closer look at the fabric.  There are at least 6 yards of a lighter blue denim and another 8 yards of navy denim.  Wow!  What a wonderful addition to my fabric stash.  I'm not sure just how I will use it all yet, but no doubt it will be put to good use.

Bless her heart.  You just don't find neighbors like Alberta every day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Some Things Are Just Wrong

The parents of Bowe Bergdahl were given a huggy love fest in the rose garden.

The parents of James Foley were given five minutes of insincere platitudes followed by a rush to get to the golf course.

And we wonder why this handbasket we are in is headed straight for Hell.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ugly Quilt

While digging about in my closet I found, back in a corner, a box full of fabric fat quarters.  For the non-sewing folks, a fat quarter is a 1/4 yard piece of fabric that measures about 18 " x 21 ",  and is usually sold for crafty projects or for quilt projects where a small amount of one color fabric is needed.

At any rate, here was this box of fat quarters.  I suppose that I had a reason for collecting so many of them over the years, but whatever that reason was, it now escapes me.  Lots of things escape me these days.

Being a frugal person (read "cheap") I can't just throw them out.  I have been sewing since age 12, and as someone who sews, throwing out good fabric, even if it is just scraps, is just wrong.  After digging a bit further into the depths of the closet, I came up with a bag of quilt batting.  And there was my "Aha" moment.  Rag Quilt.

To make a rag quilt, fabric is cut into squares.  Squares of quilt batting are sandwiched between two layers of fabric.  An X is sewn, corners to corners, securing the batting within the fabric squares.  The sandwich squares are sewn together with the seams to the outside of the quilt top.  When completed, the seams are clipped with a scissor at about 1/4 inch intervals, creating a sort of fringe.  When the finished quilt is washed and then dried in a dryer, the seams fluff up and look sort of raggedy.  Thus the name Rag Quilt.

Took me two days to cut the pieces, sew the X on each square and sew the squares together.  Clipping the seams took another evening.  I wasn't going for pretty.  The placement of the fabric squares was completely random.  I was going for quick and easy, for using up otherwise useless fabric, and especially going for warm.  Nothing like a hand made quilt to snuggle up with when the snow falls and the wind howls.

Yes, I know.  It would be much more fun to have a honey to snuggle with, but that's not likely to happen here, so I will settle for a quilt.  Even an ugly one.

I haven't run it through the washer and dryer as yet, but you get the idea.

A few years ago I made six of these - one for each grandkid - for Christmas.  Those were both pretty and warm.  I'm thinking that maybe I should make a couple more of them from flannel.  But until then, I sort of like my Ugly Quilt.  It is kind of like falling in love with the runt of the litter.  The little ugly ones need to be loved, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Feminist Demands

I was scanning the headlines on one of the alternative news sources I read when I came across this one:

Feminist Demands Free Tampons for All
The article with a link to the original column can be found Here.

And all I could think of was that we have finally reached the ultimate in expectations of government taking care of us from cradle to grave.  The argument was that women need these products for several days each month over the course of approximately 30 - 40 years.  Many poverty level women can't afford to buy tampons.  Some are selling their food stamps in order to get the money to purchase these items.  So naturally it follows that the government needs to supply women with tampons because they are a necessity.

And with that, I shut off my computer and went for a long walk down by the river.  It was either that or sit there and wait for my head to explode.

As I walked I thought about this new bit of stupidity.  I wonder what this columnist thinks women through the ages have done about dealing with this natural female cycle.  I mean long before the invention of feminine hygiene products.  Nowhere else have I seen that any woman ever in recorded history expected someone else to provide for these needs.  I expect that if anyone believes that taxpayers should pay for tampons, there is a whole list of other necessities those same people will believe should be free to them.  Perhaps each person should be given a lifetime supply of toilet paper.  Or food.  Everyone needs food to survive.  Oh, wait.  Government already has food covered for millions.  How about coffee.  I consider coffee a necessity, so shouldn't it be free?  Or as one of the people who left comments about this article said, "I'll take my free beer now."

Oh how my sweet little Grandmother would have scoffed at the notion of the government providing anything.  She and her daughters used clean strips of cloth that they washed and reused each month, as did most women of her era.  Her outhouse held the previous years Sears & Roebuck catalog.  If she wanted coffee, she sold eggs from the chickens she kept and butter she made from the cream that came from the few cows they milked, and she bought coffee.  She and her sons raised a couple of pigs each year and a steer for meat.  She butchered some of her chickens every fall and hatched out more each spring.  She raised vegetables in her garden.  The surrounding woods provided blueberries and wild raspberries and strawberries.

The government should provide tampons?  I don't think so.  And those who do could stand to learn a thing or two about taking care of your own self from Grandma.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nice Surprises

So this morning my phone rings.  It is Youngest Son.  He wants to first tell me about my granddaughters.  They had auditions for the competition dance teams last week.  Boston was with her Dad when he called, so she told me that both she and her sister made the top teams for their age groups.  They have worked hard for those spots on the teams and I am so proud of them both.

Then David wanted to know if I would be home around noon today.  I said I would.  He said he had something he wanted to drop off for me.  I love those kinds of surprises.

David arrived carrying a bucket that was full of beautiful red tomatoes from his garden, three cucumbers and a handful of carrots.  He said the carrots were pretty small as he planted them too close together this year, but it doesn't matter to me.  I'll cook them for supper tomorrow.  Homegrown carrots are so good tasting.  And there was a big bowl of cherry tomatoes - my favorite.  I've been snacking on them all day!

Then out the door he went, calling over his shoulder that he almost forgot something.  He returned with two jars of the bread & butter pickles he and his kids had canned and another jar of his home canned pasta sauce.  I'm going to be eating well this week!  Thank you, Son.

So now I have cucumber chips drying in one dehydrator and tomato slices drying in the other.  I saved out two of the large tomatoes for BLTs and will see about getting a bank loan to buy a pound of bacon tomorrow.  Aren't meat prices getting out of sight?

Dana over at Witless Relocation Program had a good post today about living within your means.  There are so many who think they have to have the newest and best of everything and then can't figure out what happened when they can't pay for it all.

Me...I'm happy with a bucket of tomatoes and some homemade pickles.  And I'm even happier that I have kids who know that these things will make their Mom smile.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Taking a Break

Between a list of stuff that I need to accomplish, the need to spend some time with my son before he heads to Arizona and the fact that the words just aren't there at the moment, I think a brief hiatus is called for.  So to my blogging friends and family, all is well here, but I just need a bit of a break.  I shall return in September, hopefully refreshed and recharged, and with something worth writing about.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fishin' and Flippin'

There is nothing blog worthy going on here in my little Home Sweet Apartment this week.  Just the usual scrub and buff, laundry, etc.  I am using this week to get all of those long neglected chores finished so that next week I can do some serious grocery shopping, canning and dehydrating, without feeling guilty about leaving stuff undone, or having to look at stuff undone.  My closet pantry needed rearranging to accommodate the items on my shopping list, so that has been a priority.  I sure wish I could work as fast as I once could, but a person can't have everything, I suppose.  On the bright side, now that my pace has slowed, I find that I take more time to stop and smell the roses, as it were, than I did when I kept up a breakneck pace.  That isn't a bad trade-off.

So until I am actually doing something worth writing about, I give you "Fishin."

Youngest son took his son fishing the other day.  Jacob loves to go fishing.  He really wanted to catch enough for supper that night, but it was not to be.  I'm thinking that the time spent drowning worms with his Dad was pretty good, in spite of the lack of fish.

And here is the "Flippin'" part:

Boston has been working really hard to master the ariel, and she did.  Determination and practice paid off.  I've noticed that she is really good to help her younger sister with these gymnastic moves they are learning, so I was pleased to see that she nailed this one herself.  Good for you, Miss B.

Yep.  I'm bragging.  Grandmas get to brag.  It's in the contract.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bread & Butter Pickle Recipe for David

My youngest son's garden is producing a little bit later than last year, due to the cooler summer, I suppose.  At any rate, the cucumbers are coming on like gangbusters now.  He brought me a couple of jars of dill pickles this past weekend.  When I talked with him this evening, he said he needed a good recipe for Bread & Butter pickles.  He likes trying new recipes.

Years ago I made some good sweet pickles.  I wish I still had the recipe.  I scoured my recipe file and my parent's old recipe box to no avail.  However, I found this recipe that if it isn't the same, it is really close.  It came from one of those old church Ladies Aid cookbooks.  Those church ladies really know how to cook.  So here you go, David.

Bread & Butter Pickles

4 pounds cucumbers, sliced thin
8 small onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup canning salt
5 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
(If you're feeling adventuresome, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves.)

In a large container, combine the cucumbers, onions and salt. Cover with crushed ice and mix well. Let stand for 3 hours. Drain; rinse and drain again.
In a Dutch oven, combine the sugar, vinegar and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add cucumber mixture; return to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: 7 pints.

Let them sit on the shelf for three or four weeks before opening a jar.  And, by the way, son...
I'll be more than happy to taste test those pickles to make sure they are good enough for your family.  Just sayin'.....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Am Encouraged...

when I see four of my grandchildren sitting on the floor, playing a board game, talking and laughing with one another...

and not a cell phone in sight.  There may yet be hope.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Last evening I was curled up in my recliner reading when the phone rang.  It was Youngest Son.  I asked if he was checking up on his Mom.  He said yes he was.  I like that.

He was on his way to help a friend with a lawn project.  He said that actually, he was escaping.  His daughters had two friends for a sleepover.  He said those four girls talked - loud - fast - continually.  I said he was a craven coward.  He said that was true.

He asked me to check Facebook.  He had posted a picture.  This one.

My grandson Jacob wanted to plant sunflowers this year, so David added on to his raised bed garden to accommodate them.  He said they had grown so tall that he had the kids pose in front of them for reference.  The fence in front of the kids that Jacob is peeking through is for the cucumbers to climb on.  I'd say, if they flower, the sunflowers are a huge success.

David said he didn't know what to do with the sunflower seeds, should they wind up with many.  I suggested putting a bird feeder on the railing of their deck outside of the sliding glass door in their dining area.  He said he didn't want bird poop all over his deck.  I said he could power wash the deck in the spring.  It would be worth a little bird poop for all of the enjoyment the kids would get, especially Jacob who loves watching the birds.  He said he would put up a bird feeder.  You know you have lost the argument when it is three kids and Grandma you are up against.

I think I might have to look for a copy of "Birds of North America."  The kids will probably just run an Internet search to identify the different birds, but I always liked the book reference.  Who knows.  Maybe they will, too.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Odds and Ends

I haven't been posting much lately.  There has been nothing exciting going on in my little corner of the world.  Just catching up on odds and ends of household stuff that needs doing before winter.  Scrubbing the outside of the fridge.  Vacuuming accumulated cat hair from the backs of appliances.  Washing windows.  You know.  All that fun stuff.

I'm working on building up my food pantry.  Luckily, I still have a good amount of home canned food left from last year, so there are only a few things there to replenish.  I transferred all of my dehydrated food to canning jars and got them arranged on shelves.  The only thing I am low on is dried onions, so I will work on that until I have enough.  I'm surprised that none of my neighbors have complained about onion smell.  I set both dehydrators in front of open windows in my bedroom and shut the door, and I guess that helps.  So it's just the odds and ends of store bought foods to stock up on, and I should be able to finish before winter sets in.

I also spent an afternoon going through my scrapbooking supplies to see what I have on hand and what I need to buy.  I enjoy making the mini albums and winter is a good time to work on that, although it isn't work for me.  It is more like fun playing!

I'm sort of taking it easy today so I can go tomorrow to a family get-together.  My oldest son is moving to Phoenix at the end of this month.  His sister is hosting family so they all can see him before he leaves.  I understand completely why he doesn't want to spend another winter here in the frozen north.  He lived in Phoenix many years ago and loved it.  And even though he hasn't lived with me for many years and even though I understand why he is moving, I will still miss him.