Friday, June 30, 2017

Look! Green Growing Plants!

And they are on my windowsills.  And they are still alive.  It is a miracle.

As you all know, I am the serial killer of indoor plants.  But somehow, these vegetables I planted are still alive.  Must be really tough to have survived this long.

These are cucumbers, cantaloupe and zucchini.

These are two pots of cherry tomatoes and one of green bell peppers.

And here we have peas and yellow snap beans.  And the beans have blossoms.

It takes so little to amuse me.  :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What Do You Do...

when life smacks you upside the head to get your attention and then proceeds to add some difficulties to your life.  When you get to be my age, those difficulties are mostly medical.

Those who are regular readers know of my physical limitations because I whine about them periodically.  Those new visitors, take heart.  I promise to keep the whining about fun stuff like arthritis and cellulitis to a minimum.

To my way of thinking, there are two things a person can do.

The first is to crawl into bed, pull the covers up to your ears and just wait to die.

The second, and my personal choice, is to just to get on with it.  Make peace with the fact that life has changed and there is bloody little a person can do about that.  So after you get through the initial anger and frustration and periods of weepy self pity, find ways to adapt to the situation.

Everyone has different situations to deal with.  Many are much worse than mine.  I still have a mind that works - well, sort of.  I can still walk - sort of.  I can still take care of myself as far as personal hygiene, cooking, keeping my apartment clean enough to stay the health department, etc.  But each task needed to be thought out as to how to do it in my present condition.

The hardest part for me was knowing that I was not the Wonder Woman of the past who could work hard from dawn to dark and beyond.  That fact pretty much shredded my ego.  I have never been one to cry for help unless it was obvious that the task at hand could not be accomplished alone.  So having to call on my kids to do for me was not high on my list of things I enjoyed.  But, after swallowing some of my pride, I did it.  Thankfully I have grown children who are more than willing to help out when needed.

Adapting to current limitations has been a challenge.  I know that I can not stand or walk for more than 10 minutes at a time before the arthritic pain becomes overwhelming.  So I have learned to do the chores either in ten minute increments or do what I can while seated at my kitchen table.  Youngest Son and his family gave me a walker for Mother's Day so I can now leave my apartment and enjoy the outdoors.  Admitting to myself that I needed a walker was tough.  I have learned that if I do too much one day, I will spend the next day quietly recovering.  Sometimes it is worth it - sometimes not.

I believe the most important thing about dealing with limitations is attitude.  I suppose I could sit around in a puddle of self pity, but I won't.  I haven't the time nor do I have the patience for it.  I think that concentrating on what I can do rather than what I can't makes all the difference.

The point of this post is not to dwell on my physical problems, but to encourage anyone out there who is facing life-changing obstacles.  If just one person who reads this is able to realize that life, even with limitations, can be good, then this was worth posting.  Just do the best you can with what you have to work with.

Oh yeah...keep your sense of humor.  Laughter is the very best medicine.  Really - it is.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

More Canning and Dehydrating

It is one of those busy days.  I dehydrated three good sized heads of cabbage, filling the dehydrators last evening.  I got about three quarts of dried cabbage, all bagged up and ready to use in soups, etc.

This morning I am browning 12 lbs. of hamburger to jar up and can.  I had seen a video about packing raw hamburger into the jars without browning it first, so last time I canned hamburger, I tried that method.  It turned out just fine, but I find I like the texture of the precooked meat better.  It is just a personal preference.

There are 6 bananas sitting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen table that need to be turned into a couple of loaves of banana bread, so as soon as the pressure canner full of meat is going, banana bread making will commence.  I will share a loaf with Oldest Son.  He loves banana bread as much as I do.  He reads my blog, so I am guessing he will show up tonight after work to collect his loaf without my having to call him.

And that's the extent of the excitement here in my little Home Sweet Apartment.  When the chores are done, some sewing will happen.  And quite possibly, a nap.

There was a time when I would tease my Dad about his afternoon naps, but the older I get the more I realize, the man was on to something.  :)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stretching a Meal

When I was a kid, it was not unusual for friends or relatives to show up at our house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  TV was a rare commodity then.  My family didn't have one until I was 15 years old.  Personal computers and cell phones were somewhere in the future.  People went visiting.  They sat on front porches and talked about the weather and the condition of the crops and wasn't that daughter of Aunt Ruby's acting just disgraceful with that boyfriend of hers.  And when the sun was getting low in the western sky and the visitors showed no signs of leaving, they were invited to stay for supper.  And most times, they accepted.

My mother was one of those women who planned.  She knew that on Monday she would wash clothes and on Tuesday I would iron them.  She planned nothing for Saturday morning except setting her daughters to cleaning the house.  If you have ever experienced scrubbing out the corners of a set of stairs with a toothbrush, then you know the extent of my mother's planning.  And she knew exactly what each meal would be for a week.

Mother didn't take it well when her plans were disrupted.  So it was always a wonder to me how she coped with guests for the supper she had planned for four people.  She took it in stride and never batted an eye.  Thinking back, I realized how she did it.

If she had a roast beef or a chicken in the oven, she sent one of us kids down to the basement, which doubled as our cold storage area, to bring up more potatoes to be boiled and a handful of fresh carrots to be cleaned and cut into carrot sticks.  She had us get a quart jar of dill pickles and a pint jar of relish.  And added to that were a couple of jars of home canned peaches for dessert.  A plate of homemade baking powder biscuits rounded out the meal, now with enough food for company.

I remember once having supper guests when Mother had made a pot of chili that was enough to feed just our family.  Mother calmly cooked up a pot of rice and made a double batch of cornbread.  She added a plate of sliced cheese and another of raw carrots, radishes and sliced cucumbers from the garden.  She filled bowls half full of rice and topped that off with chili.  Dessert was sliced strawberries from the garden, with cream and sugar .

The point is.....Mother was prepared.  She was a girl growing up during the Great Depression.  After that came the WWII food rationing.  Her mother taught her how to stretch a meal.  Although my Grandfather was one of the fortunate ones to be employed during the Depression, he still had seven children to feed.  That was not always an easy task.  My grandparents grew a garden.  They canned as much food as they could.  My father grew up in a similar environment with the added benefit of living on a farm where they could have meat and milk animals to feed his family of nine children.  Both my parents carried on the tradition of preserving as much food as they could in the summer and fall.  They passed on that lifestyle to me.  One of the best things they taught me was how to stretch a meal.

I don't always have fresh food on hand.  I can't raise a garden.  But I can go to my shelves and pantry and get the fixings for any number of meals.  And like Mother, I keep on hand ingredients to be able to stretch a meal when needed.  Just makes sense.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Plants in My Windowsills

They are growing.  By some miracle I have managed to keep them alive - so far.

The cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumbers are flourishing.  They have beautiful green leaves and are beginning to spread out.

I have two pots of cherry tomatoes grown from saved seeds.  They are slow to grow, but are beginning to leaf out.  I thinned them down to about six plants per pot.

The bell peppers finally popped through the soil and have grown a couple of inches.

The green peas are maybe 6 - 8 inches tall and have fallen over, but they are still alive and growing.

And last but not least, the yellow snap beans are setting on blossoms.  Amazing!  If they form actual beans, there may be enough for a meal.

If the plants are still alive in a week or so, I will take some pictures to post.  I was kind of busy today, what with my grocery delivery and getting 12 lbs. of hamburger ready to can tomorrow.

The plants in my little windowsill garden must be tough.  They have to be to still live in spite of my abysmal track record with indoor plants.  Even if I get nothing off them, it is still fun watching them grow.  :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It is turning into...

a really nice week.  Temperatures here are in the mid to high 70's and the humidity isn't too bad.  It is nice to be able to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows.  We had some rain and some sunshine and a lovely breeze.

I canned up the rest of the chicken thighs and got five pints.  There was enough broth to fill five quart jars.  I have ordered 12 lbs. of hamburger to can.  That will be delivered tomorrow.  Hamburger is the only meat I am low on, although I probably could use some more bacon bits.  The price of bacon has gone through the  roof here, so I will have to see if Duane can find some bacon ends and pieces at a reasonable price.  I was thinking about canning some bacon slices but not at the current price of $6.99  a pound.

My daughter Jill and grandson Zach stopped over yesterday evening.  Zach was all excited.  He will be spending a week at Airplane Camp.  I asked if the camp was just for instruction or if there would be actual flying involved.  He said, with a grin, that they would be flying.  Zach has taken flying lessons since he was maybe 12 years old.  He needed to sit on a pillow to be able to see out the window of the plane.  That's no longer a problem for that over 6 ft. tall 17 year old grandson of mine.  I told him that when he gets his pilot's license, he needed to remember that his Grandma loves to fly.  I'm not overjoyed with commercial flights, but I dearly love a ride in a small plane.  He said he would keep it in mind.

David stopped in a couple of days ago.  Both of his daughters have birthdays in June and he said he would pick up the cards I had for them so I wouldn't need to mail them.  I think he was actually checking up on me.  He knew I hadn't been feeling well and he knows I hate going to the  doctor, so he sometimes checks to make sure I don't need make an appointment.  I just can't get away with anything!  He left yesterday for a conference in Canada, having to do with his job at a landscaping company.  He said he was torn...he was looking forward to the conference but he knew he would miss his family while he had to be gone.

Nothing earth shattering or exciting going on here in my little corner of the world.  I'm just puttering about with the necessary Susie Homemaker stuff.  And in between times the sewing machine is being put to good use.  That's pretty much the story of my life and I like it that way.  :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quilts and Chicken

I watched Boston dance at the National competition via live stream.  She did very well as did her whole studio group.  Even though the picture quality on the live stream isn't the best, I can still pick her out of a crowd and follow her dance steps.  Loved every second of it.

I did some sewing in between Boston' dances.  I finished sewing the pieces together to make these blocks.

Now I just need to sew the blocks together and then add the batting and backing before quilting.  So many now use quilting machines or even use their sewing machines to do the final quilting, but I am old fashioned, I guess.  I like the look of hand quilting, even though it takes longer to finish.

I don't do fancy art quilts like so many who enter their quilts in quilt shows.  Mine are strictly utility quilts that are made for warmth on beds - not to be hung on a wall and admired.  I love to look at all those fancy quilts, but I make mine from leftover fabric or from fabric that is on sale at my local fabric store.

This is the quilt I will finish only if I live another 10 years.  It is called "Grandmother's Flower Garden."  Each hexagon is sewn by hand - no sewing machine work here.

Please excuse the untidy look of it.  It gets wrinkled while working on it.  All of the flower blocks are done and I am in the process of sewing them together.  I work on it sometimes in the evening while watching something I like on my computer.  Maybe a movie or some other program like Antiques Roadshow.  It takes lots of tiny stitches to sew the pieces together and is time consuming.  But I really like this old fashioned pattern, so I keep plugging away at it.

Lori was going shopping on Saturday and asked if I needed anything.  Our local big box grocery had chicken legs and thighs in the family-sized packs on sale at a good price, so I asked her to get me three packages of each.  In between Boston's dance numbers I filled 13 quart jars with whole legs and thighs.  I use the wide mouth jars  for ease in removing the meat when I go to use it.  That took care of all the wide mouth quart jars I had.  That left me with two package of thighs.  Those are simmering on the stove and when they are done I will take the meat from the bones and can it in pint jars.  There should be some nice chicken broth to can as well.

I hadn't planned to do any canning over the weekend, but when the opportunity presents itself, it seems like a person should take advantage of it.  After all, that gives me another couple of weeks worth of suppers and the way things are going in the world around us, I think I will be glad to have it.  Things are just getting way too crazy to ignore.  We need to be prepared for anything.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


don't always work out.  That irritating flu-like bug that visited me has moved on to greener pastures.  But it did put a bit of a crimp in my plans for a couple of sewing days.

However, optimist that I am, a new plan is in the works.  My granddaughter, Boston, is dancing with her studio at Nationals in Wisconsin Dells.  She has four routines with her group today.  I'm not sure yet about tomorrow.  But the competition is being live streamed.   So Grandma will be setting up the laptop where I can see it while sewing.  

Regular scheduled programing will commence on Monday.  The coffee is brewed.  The snacks are at hand.  Supper is in the crockpot.  I am all set for some serious sewing machine time and more importantly, some time well spent watching the girl do what she does so well.  Hope you all have a weekend as happy as mine.  :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I am beginning to believe...

there is something nasty in the air or in the water.  This is the third or fourth time this year that I have come down with flu-like symptoms.  Never had that happen before.

Back to bed for me.  I will return when this round of icky has run its course.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Spending time...

sewing for a couple of days.  Just because I can.  I have neglected the piles of quilt pieces on my sewing table for far too long.  Sometimes we have to let the world do what it will without us, let the day to day stuff pass by and just do what makes us happy.

I will be back in a day or two - possibly with some show and tell.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Even Grownups Need a Play Day

So I had me one.

I think the only things I did all day that even came close to being work were to wash up a few dishes and sweep the kitchen floor.

There was a novel that needed reading and a movie that needed watching and a few quilt pieces that needed sewing.  And there was a long and luxurious afternoon nap.  Can't forget the nap.

My phone rang several times during the day.  Various and assorted kids and grands called to wish me a happy birthday.  I don't do birthday celebrations any more, but leave that for the kiddos.  And I don't need gifts - I have all I need.  It is enough that they remember and call.

I talked to my youngest grandson, Jacob, who is 9 (I think.  I can never remember for sure.).   He wanted to know about the important stuff like did I have cake and ice cream.  He thought it was just wrong that I didn't.  I had to promise I would have cake later this week.  And I might just do that.  I have been hungry for an apple spice cake with caramel frosting.

I got to thinking about how much things have changed in my 71 years on this earth.  Change can be good or sometimes, not so much.  I have many more conveniences than my parents had - microwave, air conditioning, telephone that isn't on a 9 family party line.  If I want to look up some information on any subject I don't need to go to the library because there is Google.  If I want to watch a movie I can find one on my computer or just insert a DVD.  I can communicate with people all around the world with just a keystroke or two.  I know what is going on around me almost as soon as it happens.

But I think there is a trade-off.  We don't sit on the front porch of an evening and just talk any more.  Unless Dad has a really good job, Mom can't be home raising the kids because it takes both paychecks to afford all those conveniences.  We live in a high stress, fast paced world rather than the slower one of years gone by.  Lately, common sense and common decency seem to have vanished, at least in some circles.  Vulgarity has become commonplace.  We are expected to accept as normal behavior things that were once considered shameful and wrong.

I hope the trend toward rude and crude and violent behavior is just a passing thing.  I know there are still good people out there.  I know many of them.  I just have to wonder what kind of a world my grands will find when they, like me, have lived 71 years.

I pray that by that time good manners and common sense will have made a comeback.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

So Far - So Good

My windowsill garden is growing by leaps and bounds.  The snap beans are about 6 inches tall, though kind of leggy.  But they are leafing out so I guess they are OK.  I may have to stake them up before they fall over.

There are 7 green pea plants, all healthy and leafy.  I have two pots of cherry tomatoes and I thinned them out this morning.  When they get bigger I will thin again and save the best looking plants.

The cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupe are all about 4 inches tall and looking good.

So far the bell peppers haven't sprouted.  I will give them another week and if they don't poke through the soil by then, I will plant something else in that pot.

I water my little garden every other evening and have notes posted here and there to remind me to do so.  That schedule seems to be working well so far.

Now if I can just rein in my homicidal tendencies toward houseplants, this might actually work out.

I'm stoked!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sunday Night Ramble

Had me a nice, relaxing weekend.  Our weather has been warm, with temps hitting the 90 degree mark.  I was happy to discover the central air conditioning for my building has been turned on.  We Minnesotans tend to melt at anything over 85 degrees, wimps that we are.  I have been turning off the air and opening windows at night when the temp goes down around the 60 degree mark.  Lovely sleeping weather.

Went into slug mode on Saturday.  Just pottered about with this and that.  Got my grocery order ready for tomorrow when the nice lady calls for it.  She has a sense of humor and likes to chat for a bit, which makes for a pleasant break in the day.  I really don't need to order much as my pantry is nearly full, so I'm filling in with staples like more salt, oatmeal, canned salmon, tuna, etc.

Now that my shelves are sorted out and I can see at a glance what I have for home canned food, I can better tell what I need to can this summer and fall.  Duane stopped in (I needed a tall person to get a box of dehydrated tomatoes off the top shelf.) and we went over the list for the Farmer's Market again, keeping in mind that shelf space is now at a premium.   His apartment is smaller than mine, but he said that he would do some rearranging to try to fit in a shelf for more canned food.  That would help.

A while back I connected on Facebook with a guy I went to school with.  He is a Vietnam Vet and a retired cop.  He knows more about what is going on around us than I do, so he messages me articles he finds that keep me up to speed, as much as I can be, anyway.  He calls me now and then and we brag on our various kids and grands and talk prepping and the state of insanity we now live in.  We talked a bit today of the latest terrorist attack in London.  It is just a matter of time until we are in the same boat as England.  I wish our government would care as much about keeping us safe as it does about scoring political points.  By the time the politicians figure that out, it may be too late.

In my quest for more storage space, I came up with a brilliant idea.  Well, OK.  Someone else thought of it and I am copying it.  I have been dehydrating lots of vegetables for long term storage because when dried, they take up much less space than canned.  I saw where some were grinding dehydrated vegetables into powder which reduces them even more.  So I experimented first with dried tomatoes by running them through my blender and then through a wire mesh strainer to take out the bits that wouldn't grind down any further.  Worked like a charm.  I tested the powder by adding a bit of water until I had a passable tomato paste.  More water gave me tomato sauce.  The leftover bits I stored in a jar separate from the powder to toss into soup, stew, etc.  I reduced the dried bell peppers I had to a powder and can add that to any number of dishes for flavor.  I think it would be good sprinkled on a salad or in scrambled eggs, omelets, etc.  Tomorrow I will powder some more tomatoes and some onions as well.

So that was the extent of my excitement here in my little corner of the world.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  No stress.  Just the way I like it.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

There are green things...

growing in pots on my windowsills.  


I have yellow snap beans, green peas, cucumbers and cantaloupe that have poked up through the soil.  Oh, and two lonely little cherry tomato plants.

I am surprised to see the cantaloupe growing.  Maybe three years ago I saved some seeds from a store bought melon that was exceptionally tasty.  I haven't done anything special with the seeds - just put them in an envelope and stored them in a box on a shelf with the rest of my seeds.  Same with the cherry tomato seeds.  They came from the little garden David had in his back yard.  My grands had picked a bucket of cherry tomatoes for me and I saved a few seeds.  And they are actually growing.  Well, two of them anyway.

What possessed me to buy some garden seeds to begin with, I don't know.  I live in an apartment.  The communal deck on the building isn't large enough for any serious container gardening, although Duane and Lori have three tomato plants growing there.  I guess acquiring seeds is just part of the preparedness thing.

I know I am easily amused, but the fact that these plants are actually trying to grow tickles me.

I wonder if I can keep from murdering them like I do with most house plants.  I hope so.