Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hi Grandma...

the voice on the other end of the line said.  "It's Boston."

I love it when the Grands call me.

"I'm so excited," she said.  "I got chosen to do a tap dance solo!"

Boston recently changed dance studios.  The one where she is now is smaller, but has an excellent instructor.  She is learning all sorts of new things.  Boston is a really good dancer, having been in competitions for six of her 14 years, usually performing tap dance numbers.

Boston's first competition in 2010.

April 2016 competition.

That she is so excited about her dancing and the new things she is learning tells me that the right choice was made when she and her parents made the decision to switch studios.

Boston went on to tell me that her sister Maddie was busy with her gymnastics classes and her brother Jacob had finished flag football for the summer and was starting practice for "real" tackle football.

"I was just so excited about my solo that I had to call and tell you about it, Grandma."

I'm so glad you did, Boston.  You made my day!

Love, Grandma

Life Rolls On

This is a quiet time of year for me.  The fall produce at the Farmer's Market - cabbage, apples, and squash - aren't quite ready, so my canning and dehydrating has slowed down until probably mid-September.  I did order 10 lbs of onions that are on sale, so Thursday I will get them to drying.  I seem to go through more onions than anything else.

This summer has been a stinker for arthritis flare-ups.  One would think that our bitter winters would be a worse time, but the opposite is true.  Maybe it is the humidity.  I don't know.  At any rate,  we are having a bit of a cool down, with temps in the mid to high 70's, and that has helped.  I have an appointment with my Dr. next week.  They won't write refill prescriptions unless you show up and donate some blood to test so they can tell you nothing has changed.  I wish it was like it used to be.  We went to the Dr. when we got sick.  Instead we are being held hostage to our need for refills.  Sigh.

Has anyone but me noticed that Doctors seem to want to just throw another prescription drug at you instead of discussing alternatives for a problem?  I am up to four different pills every day, most of which I think are unnecessary.  I have been reading about an herb called Moringa that is good for everything I am taking meds for at the moment.  Including arthritis.  It is readily available like over-the-counter vitamins.  Has anyone ever tried this herb?  I am thinking of giving it a try.  I would much rather go with an herbal remedy than prescription drugs.  Especially when there are no known side effects.  Ever read those reports that come with each prescription drug?  There are more side effect warnings than information on the benefits of them.  That alone seems to be a good reason to go with an alternative.

I'm excited.  I have been thinking about getting a bread machine.  I already have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but my counter space is so small that it isn't practical to leave it out.  It is too heavy to live on top of my freezer, which is the only space available.  But a bread machine could sit there, no problem.  And with my limitations, kneading bread is becoming difficult.  Seemed like a good solution for someone who prefers homemade bread to store bought.

Anyway, I mentioned this to my son's friend the other day when she dropped by for a visit.  She told me that her Dad was in the process of downsizing and she was sure he had one he was going to put on his upcoming garage sale.  A phone call confirmed this.  The machine is like new, having been used only a couple of times.  Son and his friend are going to see him this coming weekend where he lives in the northern part of the state.  They will check out the machine to make sure all the parts are there and that it works.  So with any kind of luck, I will be baking bread Monday.  Woo Hoo!!

Takes very little to make me a happy camper.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Most Times...

I am perfectly content with my life.

But today I am not content.  It might have something to do with our local news reporting about the abduction, rape and murder of a sweet little five year old girl at the hands of a "family friend."  Or maybe it was the story of a father beating his two year old child to a bloody pulp.  Or perhaps it was just the reports of the latest "protest" in Minneapolis turning violent and ugly.  Could have been the alternative news sources jam-packed with tales of lies and corruption associated with our government.  Whatever the reason, I would like to check out just for today..

I would like to be here...

or here...

or here.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.  At least, I have hope that it will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Walking the Walk

I have a confession to make.  I am not nearly as prepared as I would like to think I am.  I realized this when I discovered I didn't even have a nine volt battery in the house for the smoke alarm, and when I had to wait a day or two before I could do some canning because I had allowed my stash of canning lids to nearly run out.  I know these are only two small things, but if I don't have on hand this small, necessary  stuff, then it stands to reason that I am probably lacking in some of the bigger, more important supplies.

Minnesota can be beautiful in the winter with a blanket of snow on the ground and the tree branches covered in frost.

But Mother Nature can turn mean and throw a blizzard at us almost in the blink of an eye.  The Halloween blizzard in 1991 featured wind gusts up to 60 mph.  My area received over 28 inches of snow and other areas got over 36 inches of the white stuff before the storm blew itself out, leaving 10 foot snow drifts in many places.  I have seen temperatures drop into the minus 30 degree range during the first week of November.  Mother Nature can give us some glorious days, but she can also sneak up on us and smack us upside the head, just to remind us who is really in charge.

It is the memory of those winter conditions that should have made me pay better attention to my preps.  I am well stocked in some areas like home canned and dehydrated foods.  I have water stored, but not nearly enough.  And I have yet to buy a decent water filter system.  I have medical supplies stashed away, but recently realized I didn't have enough of the supplies I needed to treat cellulitis, which if left untreated, can become life threatening.  And I don't have nearly enough of common medical needs like aspirin or vitamins.

Seems I am better at talking the talk than I am at walking the walk.

It doesn't matter much what a person is preparing for.   Each of us have a scenario in mind.  Could be our economy winds up in the dumpster.   Might be we get a bat-guano crazy elected president this time around.  Or that jokester Mother Nature may just toss us curve ball.  Maybe nothing will happen, in which case we will have what we need on hand without having to run to the store every couple of days.

Sometimes I have been known to use the excuse of my age or my medical conditions to put off what I need to do.  That is really stupid.  Should my grands show up here in a crisis, (And they will.  Grandma is the one with all the extra food.) how on earth will I look them in the eye if I don't have the basics of what they need.  After all, it is for them and my children that I prepare.  Oh, I prepare for myself, too, but Moms tend to do for family first.  That's how we are wired.

So if you will excuse me, I need to get busy.  It seems I have some work to do.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So About 3:30 AM...

I am settling in to sleep.  Yes, I know it is late, but sometimes I sleep and sometimes, not so much.  I had just gotten comfy when I heard...CHIRP.  Loud like that.  Half a minute later...CHIRP.  And it continued at 30 second intervals.  Stupid smoke alarm.  If it is going to decide the battery needs changing, it could at least have the decency to make that decision during daylight hours.  Not at 3 bloody 30 in the AM!!

So now I have two problems.  The first is that due to leg issues I can no longer climb up on my little step stool/ladder thing to reach the stupid smoke alarm.  The second is that I don't have a battery to fit the alarm even if I could reach it.  Drat.

What I do have, thank goodness, is a tall son who lives next door.  But I will not call him at 3:30 AM to come over and help me.  My kids say they are more than willing to help when needed, but I'm not going to wake him up just for something like this.  So I try to sleep, but the chirping won't let me.  I try to read for a while, but that doesn't work either.  Finally I fire up my computer and find a movie to watch in the hope that the sound will somewhat drown out the chirping.  No such luck.

About 7 AM I make the call.  Son says he will be right there.  That's a good thing, because another 15 minutes of CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP and I am in serious danger of being driven over the edge.  I am entertaining thoughts about getting out the shotgun to stop the constant chirping.  (No, I really wouldn't shoot the smoke alarm although the temptation is great.)

Son took the alarm down until I can get a replacement battery.  There is another alarm in the apartment, so I don't worry about one of them being out of commission.  Except this smoke alarm, when unplugged from the ceiling, still chirps.  And it starts yelling "FIRE,  FIRE" at regular intervals.  I wrap it in a couple of towels and shove it under two pillows.  At least I can no longer hear it when I am in the other end of the apartment.

I figure the rest of the day will be pretty good, having gotten this silliness out of the way.  But I think I may take a nap before starting anything this morning.  :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beef Roast, Strawberries and Soup

15 - 1/2 pounds of boneless chuck roast, cut into large pieces equaled 18 pints of canned beef roast.

12 pounds of strawberries equaled 11 quarts of  whole frozen berries, minus the pound I kept out to eat fresh.

I'm working on cleaning out the freezer in my fridge.  I found 4 bags of ham bones with quite a bit of meat still on them, four quart sized bags of frozen, diced carrots and several small bags of frozen diced onions.  Tomorrow morning the bones will be simmered and the ham removed and diced.  This will be added back to the broth along with the carrots, onions, four bags of dry split peas and some chicken bouillon for flavor.  When this has all cooked, it will go into pint jars and then into the pressure canner.  Split pea soup cans up really well and is good to have on hand for a quick meal.

 I also found three pork chops hiding in the back of the freezer.  They are thawing in the fridge and I think I will use them up over the weekend.  Maybe one with sauerkraut, one with sage dressing and another with a couple of fried eggs.  Found two chicken breasts back in a corner, too.  They will make supper for me tonight and one or two chicken sandwich lunches.

All together, I have unearthed enough frozen meat to keep me fed for at least a week.  Maybe more.  Guess I should clean out the freezer a little more often.  Ya think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Just Life

There has been nothing earth shattering going on here in my little Home Sweet Apartment lately.  Just the usual Suzy Homemaker stuff.  I seriously doubt anyone cares to hear about my dish washing, floor scrubbing, toilet cleaning efforts.  I don't even care to hear about them.

The lady who takes my grocery order called yesterday.  Boneless chuck roast is on sale so I ordered 15 lbs.  I will cut this into pieces to fit into pint jars and can them.  Then whenever I want a roast beef dinner, I just dump the beef into a pan, add a jar of canned potato and carrot chunks, some onion and seasonings and bake it until it is heated through.

Strawberries at the Farmer's Market are done, but the store has them on sale so I ordered 12 lbs.  I haven't decided whether to freeze or can them, but am leaning more toward freezing.  I am down to maybe 3 packages of frozen strawberries in the freezer now, so that's probably where these will wind up.  I really like having frozen berries on hand, especially over the winter.  They seem to taste better somehow when summer is a long way off.

Granddaughter Boston called me last evening.  She knows that I worked at a dog grooming shop and that I have had a love of animals my whole life, so she wanted to ask me about a particular breed of dog.  Their family dog, Charlie the Beagle, died of old age earlier this year and the family is ready for a new dog in their lives.  Boston wanted to know about Golden Doodles, which are a cross breed of Golden Retriever and Standard Poodle.  The ones I worked with at the grooming shop were nice dogs with good personalities, especially the large ones.  There are some that have been bred down for a smaller size, and I can't say I was much impressed by those.  I found that downsizing the breed also seemed to downsize their intelligence.  That may have been just the individual dogs I saw, but the large Doodles seemed to be a much more well rounded dog and were more mellow.  I kind of hope they get one for I liked those I worked with.

Thinking about Boston's questions reminded me of another dog that was in my neighborhood.  Henry was a Labradoodle (Lab and Standard Poodle).  He was huge and looked like an Irish Wolfhound.  Henry was one of the best behaved dogs I have seen.  His owner walked Henry every day past my building.  Henry wore a leash because of the city ordinance requiring dogs to be leashed, but Henry carried the end of the leash in his mouth.  He walked himself.  Henry stayed next to his owner and always stopped and looked both ways before crossing a street.  But if he saw me a half a block away, he would look up at his owner who would give him permission, and then he would run toward me, full tilt.  To his credit, he always stopped short of knocking me down.  Henry loved to have his ears scratched and his head petted.  He would sit on the sidewalk next to me, reveling in the attention, until his owner caught up with him.  I think Henry must have moved away for I haven't seen him in a while.  I think I will call Boston and tell her about Labradoodles.

Yesterday afternoon I napped in my recliner.  Earlier I had checked the weather radar and there was no rain in sight.  I woke an hour or so later to the sounds of wind and rain and hail.  Looking out the window I found the rain coming down so hard that I could barely see across the street.  Sounded like someone was throwing pebbles against the front of my building.  Aparently a small storm cell developed right overhead.  I didn't know something that small could produce so much fury.  It was over as quikly as it appeared and left without doing any obvious damage.

And that is quite enough rambling for one morning.  After another cup of coffee, I believe today will be one of those dedicated to just puttering about.  Maybe a little sewing.  Maybe a little reading.  I have a recipe for soft ginger cookies I have been wanting to try and today seems like a good day for it.  The temperature is somewhat cooler than it has been so I don't mind having the oven on.  I like puttering days.  :)

Thursday, August 11, 2016


It is going on midnight.  I have opened a couple of windows to let the fresh air in.  I can listen to the raindrops hit on the ledge outside my living room windows.  The temperature has dropped 20 degrees since suppertime.

The rainfall in my town has been a bit odd this summer.  I watch the weather radar online when I know there is a chance of a storm headed my way.  This year the rain has fizzled out before it got here or it divided, part going north of us and part going to the south.

But tonight it has been raining for at least an hour and it looks like it will continue for a while.  Then behind that there is another line of stormy weather headed our way.  If it doesn't break up, that should get here by early morning.

There is thunder, too.  Not the sharp cracks of lightning strikes, but the kind that sort of rolls around in the clouds overhead.  When my kids were young they said that kind of thunder sounded like the angels were bowling up in the clouds.

If I had a garden I would be delighted with this rain.  As it is, it's a welcome sound.  The slight breeze coming in combined with the sound of rain makes for good sleeping - something I seem to do less and less these days.  I wonder if others experience the same thing - the older I get the less I am inclined to sleep.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Today Has Been a Good Day

Some days are better than others.  Some days can be a trial with simultaneous arthritis and cellulitis outbreaks going on.  Other days can be quite lovely, in spite of the physical limitations.  Today was one of those.

Right off the bat, two loads of laundry were washed, dried, folded and put away.  I had questioned whether I should dip into my savings to buy the appliances, but they are worth their weight in gold to me.

While clothes were washing I fried some bacon that needed to be used up.  Added toast and a couple of eggs and it was a breakfast fit for a king.

The worst of the muck has been washed from my kitchen floor and it shines as much as a cheap linoleum floor can shine.

I made up a batch of brown sugar today.  I don't buy brown sugar any more.  When my brown sugar canister gets low, I just mix in a tablespoon of molasses for each cup of white sugar and make up enough to fill the canister again.  It is way cheaper to make my own than buy it.

I mixed up a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies.  The smell of them baking is making me hungry.  There are enough for Oldest Son to take some to work to share with his co-workers for his birthday tomorrow, plus enough for him and his friend as well as me to enjoy.  You just can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookies.

It will be a "Lazy Granny" supper tonight.  Homemade ham and bean soup that I canned a while back and maybe some cornbread to go with it.  I use half store-bought cornmeal and half ground up sweet corn that I dehydrated.  Makes for the best cornbread ever.

And then I will find a movie to watch while I do a little sewing.  Or maybe read for a while.  There is nothing exciting or dramatic about my life, but it suits me.  Especially when I have a really good day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Remember When...

that seven year old school kid chewed his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun (I thought it looked more like the state of Massachusetts.) and was suspended from school?  We were irate.  We wrote blog posts condemning the school officials who were being politically correct stupid.  But then we forgot about it.

There were some high school kids in Virginia who were suspended for wearing clothing that depicted the Confederate flag.  We were mad about that, too.  And then we forgot about it.

How about the little girl who was standing, spread-eagled, crying while a TSA agent touched her where her Momma had told her nobody was supposed to touch her.  Or the Granny in a wheelchair being humiliated by another agent digging around in her Depends, looking for a bomb.  Those incidents upset us and then we forgot about it.

We were irate when we realized that every word we say during a phone call or every email we send or every word we type is all saved to be used against us if somebody with power decides to do so.  And it got worse when we found out about the huge facility being built in Utah to store all that data.  Guess what.  It is still happening - in spades.

Then there is the Black Lives Matter gang.  You know - the ones whose organization is based totally on untruth.  The same ones who like to march and scream, "What do we want?  Dead cops.  When do we want it?  Now."  Or..."Pigs in a blanket.  Fry 'em like bacon."  Yeah.  Them.  Same ones whose leaders were invited to the White House not too long ago.

And then there is the presidential candidate who wouldn't know the truth if it bit her in the butt.  The one whose arrogance and quest for power has gotten people killed.  The same one who does whatever she pleases and continues along without any consequences whatsoever.  That one.

What I want to know is this:  How much more are we as citizens expected to take.

And when will it be enough.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bottom Line

There are less than 100 days until the election.

If she wins, it's all over but the crying.

If your ducks are not all in a row, now would be the time to round them up and get them in line.

And pray.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Note on Mixed Vegetables and a Mini Rant

I decided to can the rest of the frozen mixed vegetables.  When all was said and done, the 24 lbs. yielded 23 half pints and 32 pints.  With what I had left on the shelf, that will do for now.

This evening I was looking through the grocery delivery catalog.  Each page in the catalog has two columns.  There is one column devoted to just cookies and another for candy.  Nearly an entire page listed the frozen meals and entrees.  And about a column and a half for canned soups.  Same for boxed foods like mac and cheese or scalloped potato mixes.  And nearly an entire page for soda pop and bottled energy drinks.  But there was less than a column for fresh vegetables, the same for fresh fruit and only 10 items listed for fish, and most of them were the frozen kind where there is more batter than meat.

This service is for Seniors.  I was told that the catalog was put together going by what people had ordered in the past.  I am surprised that more of my vintage don't cook from scratch.  We are retired.  We have the time.  And most of us were raised by mothers who made nearly everything from scratch.  Many of us gardened or had parents who raised vegetables.  When I was growing up, small family farms dotted the countryside.  Folks raised chickens and hogs and had a milk cow or two and raised one or two steers for butchering.  Unless your Mama was a really bad cook, the food we ate was good tasting and healthy.

I wonder what happened.  I know that there are some who just don't like to cook.  I have days like that myself, especially if I am busy.  But truth be known, I would much rather eat my homemade baking powder biscuits than those that come in a cardboard tube from the store, even if it does take a little time and effort to make them.  Same with homemade bread.  And homemade soup that simmers all day on the back burner rather than just opening a can and heating that up.

I don't know.  Maybe I should have been born into my grandparents generation.  Sometimes I don't think I fit too well in this one.

Mixed Vegetables and Green Beans

I think I told you a while back about the changes in my grocery delivery service.   They have put out a catalog and I can only order what is included in it.  While it is substantial, that means if a specific item is on sale but not in the catalog, I can not order the sale item.  Much of what I normally order is included, but there are items I can no longer have delivered.

This week, for instance, two pound bags of frozen vegetables are on sale.  Unfortunately, the catalog lists only one pound bags.  And that is where an angel of mercy came to my rescue.  Oldest Son's friend who lives with him now, said she would not mind a bit going to the store to get the sale items I can no longer order.  So this morning I tossed some cash and a list in her direction and off she went.

She brought me 24 lbs. of mixed vegetables and 12 lbs. of green beans, along with a couple other small items.  When she brought them to me, it was then I realized I had not taken the weight of the vegetables into consideration.  There she was, poor girl, outside my door, all knackered out from lugging them up the stairs.  And she was still cheerful, bless her heart.

The green beans are in the dehydrators.  12 lbs. of mixed vegetables are in my big stock pot on the stove, thawing out and heating up.  As soon as I see how many pints I get out of that, I'll decide whether to can the other 12 lbs. or dehydrate them.

I know that for gardeners, it must seem like a sacrilege to be canning frozen vegetables.  I would prefer canning fresh from the garden as well.  But if I want my shelves of home canned foods to be full, I will do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal.  And should the time come when store shelves are empty, I doubt anyone will care about whether the vegetables started out as garden fresh or frozen.  I would think they would be happy to have food to eat when others do not, no matter what the source.