Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Herbs Are Still Alive

A while back I had started some herbs from seed in little grow pots.  When the plants were big enough I transplanted them into seven large pots and set them on my windowsills.  At which point they all keeled over and died.

Because I have a stubborn streak and do not give up easily, I replanted the herbs directly into the large pots.  I watered the seeds in and set the pots back on the windowsills.  And lo and behold, I have seven pots, each with green, growing plants.  Two pots of parsley.  One each of thyme, basil, sage, cilantro and oregano.  The oregano is slow to sprout, but this morning I found half a dozen tiny plants poking through the soil.  That counts, doesn't it?

Every third day I give each pot a drink of a pint of water.  They seem to be thriving on that.  And I stuck up a sign where I will see it every day that says, "Don't murder them.  Water them."

Now if I can just keep them alive.....

Thursday, July 28, 2016

About the time I'm feeling grumpy...

my kids make me smile.

Youngest Son called this afternoon.   Their family Beagle had passed on earlier this year and they all are ready for another dog.  He had found a rescue group that had puppies so he had filled out the paperwork and sent in the processing fee.  He said he liked this particular group because they put their rescues into foster homes rather than keeping them penned up.  There was a little Corgi cross puppy there and Son wanted to know if I knew anything about the breed.   Sadly, I know nothing.  He wanted me to go online and take a look at the picture of the pup, so I did.  Cuter than a bug's ear, he is.  I don't know if this is the one they will get, but puppies always make me smile.

Then this afternoon Oldest Son stopped by to bring me my mail.  And a slice of rhubarb pie.  It took every ounce of willpower I had to wait until after supper to eat it.  I don't think I have had rhubarb pie since I was a kid.  Sure brought back memories of the pies Mother made.  It was worth the wait.

I guess it doesn't take much to un-grump me.....a puppy picture and a piece of pie.  It's more than that, though.   Youngest Son was telling me about an incident with one of the landscaping crews he manages.  They noticed something wrong at one of the townhouse complexes where they were working on the shrubs around the home.  I won't go into detail here, but it was unusual enough so that one of the crew called the police.  Turns out the old man who lived in that townhouse had died maybe a month earlier.  Nobody knew and apparently nobody missed him.

I don't see or talk to my kids every day.  They all are working and they all are busy with their own lives.  But it is reassuring to know that not more than a day or so would go by before one of them would check to see why I didn't answer my phone.  And that knowledge tends to make a case of the grumpies disappear probably quicker than puppies or rhubarb pie do.  :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mushy Pears

The summer of 2012 I canned what seemed like a truck load of pears.  I ate canned pears.  My kids ate canned pears.  I made cakes and muffins and cobblers using pears.  They were delicious.

Then sometime within the past year the pears turned soft in the jars.  They were still good.  The seals on the lids were intact.  But the fruit had softened enough so I wasn't overjoyed with the texture.  I like a bit more firmness in canned pears.

So what do you do with 16 pints of soft pears.  I am too frugal (read cheap) to just toss them out.  I thought about making pear butter, but my supply of canning jars is dwindling and I still have several foods left to can before winter sets in, so I kept looking for ideas.  Then I found a couple of videos showing how to make fruit rollups from canned fruit. I have 5 fruit rollup inserts for my dehydrator trays and even though I had never made rollups before, I decided to give it a go.

I opened all the jars and drained off the liquid.  I had 4 pints of canned peaches left that had been canned about the same time as the pears, so I drained them as well, rinsing the fruit with water to wash off most of the sugar/water syrup they had been canned in, making them less sticky.  I ran the fruit through my blender to make a puree and filled 5 trays.  Each tray holds two cups of fruit puree.  I still have two quarts of puree in the fridge to dehydrate tomorrow.

The fruit is drying nicely, but it is taking longer to dehydrate than expected.  I suppose that may be due to the high humidity in the air right now.  I will just turn the temperature down from 130 degrees to 100 degrees and let the fruit dry overnight.   The plan is to wrap the dried fruit rollups in waxed paper.  I will save out a few pieces for snacking and freeze the rest.  I think the pear rollups will make a nice evening snack for me or a tasty, healthy treat for the Grands.

I read somewhere that about 40 % of the food in the US is wasted.  I grew up in a frugal family.  We wasted very little.  We couldn't afford to just toss out leftovers.  I will admit that once in a while a container of food will get shoved to the back of my fridge where it winds up looking like a science experiment run amok, but I try really hard to use up everything I cook.  I'm glad I was able to find a good use for those pears.  And there is the added bonus of having another 20 empty pint jars now to fill with something else.   I'm thinking a big pot of chili might be good.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Those living in the south have been putting up with the heat this summer.  Here in the middle of the north country we have been lucky...until today.  The temperature is predicted to be sneaking up to nearly 100 degrees with a heat index of 105 - 115.  Today will be a quiet day for me.  Heat is not my friend.

I have to feel sorry for the guy who delivers my groceries today.  Knowing that the temps would be in the "OMG it is hot!" range, I refrained from ordering heavy stuff like cases of bottled water or lots of canned goods. Those people are volunteers and without them it would be tough for me to grocery shop these days.  I order what I need, but I also try to keep in mind the fact that hauling boxes of groceries up the stairs, especially when it is hot and humid, is no picnic.

I don't know why this happens, but it seems when the outside temps and humidity are high, it affects my arthritic joints even though my apartment is air conditioned.  So early this morning I finished the few household chores that needed my attention.  My crockpot is getting a workout this week.  It is the best way to cook without heating up the kitchen.  Last night was chicken breast.  Today there is a pot of vegetable beef soup simmering all day.  I may toss in some dumplings close to supper time.  Anything else requiring using my stove or oven will just have to wait until it cools down some.

So I think I will find a couple of movies to watch on YouTube.  I saw a pattern for a crocheted afghan that is made of 2 1/2 inch Granny Squares in all sorts of colors, kind of like a scrap quilt, and I started working on that a couple of weeks ago, using the leftover yarn from other projects.  If I sit and make some more squares I can fool myself into thinking I didn't waste an entire day.  :)

Monday, July 18, 2016


you get more than you bargained for.

My cleaning and decluttering frenzy had some unexpected results.  When I get busy canning I sometimes just stick the jars of food on my shelves willy nilly just to get them out of the way.  The shelves are now nicely organized.  I found that I have one entire shelf ( 48 inches long by 18 inches deep) of just chicken.  Either I am the poster child for buying chicken on sale or my memory has deteriorated to the point where I don't remember just how much chicken I have canned.  Anyway, I have left open spaces to fill in the foods I am getting low on.  But basically both shelving units (same size shelves, six per unit) are full.

And the jams and jellies are in another cupboard.

And I haven't canned pickles yet.  Or cheese sauce.  Or soup.  Or chili.

I gotta buy another shelving unit.  I found one that is the same brand as the two I already have.  It is 36 inches long with the shelves at 18 inches deep.  I think it will fit in a corner of my living room.  I can hang a quilt on it for camouflage.    Oldest Son said he would pick it up for me and help me put it together.  We are supposed to get hot and humid weather starting tomorrow, so I think I will wait until it cools down some.  I don't like to can when it is so hot.  It doesn't take much to make this little apartment steamy.  And Son is no spring chicken any more.  Huffing 75 lbs. of shelving in a box up the stairs will be a bit easier if the stairway isn't over 90 degrees warm.

I am not complaining, mind you.  I am delighted to have my shelves overflowing with canned food.  I use it on a regular basis.  When the weather is hot like this, it is nice to be able to open a jar of soup, heat it up in the microwave and keep the apartment cool.  Other times I always have the makings of a meal just by opening a jar or two.  That's what my parents and grandparents did.  I think they were on to something.  :)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

They Took the Kids to Yellowstone

I still have another day or two before I am back to regular posting, so I thought I would give you something pretty to look at in the meantime.  Youngest Son and his lovely wife took my Grands on vacation to Yellowstone.  He called me a couple of times to let me know what they were doing and they posted pictures on FB of each days activities.  I enjoyed the pictures and thought you might like them  too.

Everyone is excited to be heading out.

Bison in the background.

They got to see these bison up close.

They took a zip line ride.  Jacob insisted on going upside down.

Boston couldn't let her brother get one up on her.

Dad had to show off, too.

Mom and Maddie were a bit more sensible.

Judging by the grin, I'd say Maddie was having fun.

They went on nature hikes.

They hiked to Ousel Falls.

Couldn't go to Yellowstone without seeing Old Faithful.


The kids were thrilled with the white water rafting.  

They took a ferry across Lake Jenny and then hiked up to Inspiration Point.  Son said that hike about did him in!

They took time to just relax and enjoy the view.

They stopped to marvel at the beauty of the Grand Tetons.

They visited Mount Rushmore.

It was fun to see the sights, but it was nice to be home again too.

It does a Grandma's heart good to see her grandchildren getting out to see the wonders of nature.  Viewing the world on a screen just can not compare to the sights and sounds and smells of the great outdoors.  Boston, Maddie and Jacob...I'm so glad you had such a great vacation.  David and Staci...thank you for giving my Grands such wonderful memories.

Love, Mom (Grandma)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Taking a Break

It is time to get my house in order.  My kitchen required a bit of rearrangement to accommodate the new appliances, so that needs straightening.  I killed the herbs so they need to be replanted.  There are various and assorted items that have not been used for years that need to go live in the dumpster.  There are quilt tops that need batting and backing, so those need to be ordered and other quilts in various stages of completion that need my attention.  Carpets need cleaning and windows need washing.  I have let things slide longer than I should have.

I move much slower than I once did.  So I know it will take more time than I would like to get my house back to where I am comfortable with its condition.  With any kind of luck, I'll be back in a week or so.  If you don't hear from me then, send in the rescue squad.  That will be me, buried under a pile of canning jars and quilt pieces.  :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I have always known...

that the elite play by a different set of rules.  That the laws that apply to me do not apply to them.

But never before today have I had my face rubbed in it quite to this degree.

Perhaps it is past time to get our ducks all in a row.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Washer - Dryer - Success

Both the new appliances work well.  Clothes are clean.  The dryer takes about as long as you would expect a small dryer to take.  I've been staying close to make sure there are no washer leaks.  So far I am well pleased.  Four loads of clothes done and I didn't need to climb any stairs.  Life has just gotten better.

The only problem I had was in hooking up the dryer vent hose.  Two clamps came with the machine for that purpose.  They are pretty much useless.  Grabbed a roll of duct tape.  Problem solved.

Red Green would be proud.  :)