Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Today's Update - 29 Oct 2014

I see some of you have already seen the additions that I've made to some of the stories.  I'm getting back up to speed slowly but surely.  I also appreciate all of the feedback I have gotten.  As you've seen from today's entries, not every chapter will have footnotes or additional pictures; they aren't always needed.  I'll add them in where I think they'll help and not go overboard with them.

Today's Updates Include:

Up On Hartford Ridge

Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!

When All Doors Close

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

I'm going to try and add another story back in every couple of days.  With the holidays approaching my time management skills will get stretched to the max but I think we are all in that boat.

Today I continued several projects that need to be completed but are the type that linger and just when you think you have them finished they need to be done again.  I have two library areas ... one at our BOL and one at our full time residence.  Neither one is what you would call a mess but after inventorying and reorganizing our DVDs it makes me itch to get the same thing done with our books and magazines.  Today I realized I really didn't need all of the magazines that I have because I usually only bought them for some of their contents.  Well what I'm going to do is scan the parts of the magazines that I want to keep and I'll then donate the magazines to a local charity.  Eventually I'll print out the scans and get them organized into three-ring binders.

The other ongoing project is I need to reorganize and expand my recipe card files.  I have ... well, to be honest I have hundreds, maybe even a couple of thousand, of recipes on index cards.  I started my collection back in middle school when I was in Girl Scouts.  My mother and other family members - including a couple of recipes that I cherish from my uncle - have given me plenty over the years as well.  I need to get the index boxes organized better.  It makes no sense to have such a wonderful resource if I can't locate what I'm looking for.

Here's a random bit of flotsam to add to your head ... chrysanthemums are good for more than just looking at.  Huh.  I'm not kidding.  Chrysanthemum tea.  Chrysanthemum jelly.  Chrysanthemum petals in salad.  You can even make wine with the petals.  I'm sure there is even more but that's as far as I got with it.  LOL.  And no I don't know why my brain takes detours like this, just my dad apparently bought my mother a really pretty pot of dwarf chrysanthemums and she called to oooo and aaaahhhhh about them and it started me thinking. 

No videos tonight.  My youtube connection is being contrary.  I'll try and start that back up on my next update.  I also have plans to make a video for some of the stuff I cook and make around the holidays.  I want to get at least one made on traditional garbanzo bean soup.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Today's Update - 28 Oct 2014

Dried Watermelon

First off I want to thank everyone for their patience.  It took a lot more time for me to unscramble what occurred than I expected it to.  Basically, after trying to edit the drafts that I had put together I finally just decided yesterday to scrap them and start over.  That doesn't mean that I've lost the story, it just means that I have to cut and paste each edition all over again and then format it for BlogSpot. 

And I've got a favor to ask of the readers.  The only blog that I'm working on today - more to prevent giving myself an ulcer than anything else to be honest - is Up On Hartford Ridge.  You'll see something slightly different.  I've added more pictures and then I've added footnotes.  Would you all be kind enough to let me know if that is distracting and you'd prefer just to have the story or do you find the other stuff interesting and/or useful?  You aren't going to hurt my feelings either way, I know the difference between a critique and criticism.  I just thought I would give you all some input.

As I post this I have chapters 51 and 52 posted in the "new" format.  I'm going to try and get a couple more posted later.  Just let me know what you think.  You can post it here or on that blog.  Either would be very helpful.

Up On Hartford Ridge

As for what else has been going on, a local private high school got closed down for a couple of days after their homecoming because a virus - an apparently very contagious one - started going around and they decided it was better for the student body and the teachers to try and break the cycle and also to disinfect the school.  Well, my youngest daughter is friends with several kids that attend that school and had been helping a couple of them with their hair the day of homecoming.  Yep, the inevitable happened and she got sick too ... as did two of her siblings and my husband.  Oldest son and I did not.  Fun times.

What made it more all sorts of fun (/sarcasm) is the first person started exhibiting symptoms when we went to check on our BOL which is also when I discovered I couldn't access any of my google stuff.  In the process of addressing those issues I also discovered lots of holes in the supplies that I keep up there, including the fact that our important paper file archive was out of date.  Grrrr.  Well lesson learned, everyone is now well, and the holes have been filled, scanned archives updated, yada, yada.  Such is life.  I'd rather learn the lesson now when it can be addressed than during a situation where I can do nothing about it.

Sorry that this update is short but things will get better starting tomorrow.  I just didn't want to put off things another day.  If I keep trying to wait until things are "perfect" I'll never start.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Quick Note - 22 Oct 2014

Short answer is I got locked out of all things google.  Long answer is too complicated to explain without giving out a lot of personal info.  Basically someone stole my account info and did some nasty stuff.  Grrr.  Most everything is now fixed but in the process they messed up some of my BlogSpot stuff and I'm having to carefully read all of the drafts, etc. blah, blah, blah. 

Thanks for the thoughts from you all at my extended absence.  I couldn't even post to comments to let you know what was going on, that's how upside down everything became.

Give me another day or two to fix the mess that was made and I will be posting regularly once again.  Some folks have waaaay too much time on their hands.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Today's Update - 11 Oct 2014

Got a lot accomplished yesterday and today, just not a lot of the things that I accomplished finished up a project in progress.  LOL.  You know the feeling right?  You work, work, work, have this great sense of accomplishment, then take a look at your "to do list" and realize either what you did wasn't on the list and you can't have the satisfaction of putting a big, fat line through it, or you aren't far enough along on a project to mark it off the list.  Oh well, so my list isn't any shorter but it feels a little lighter.  Might not feel that way tomorrow but it feels that way now ... that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  ROFL.

Today has been a bit of a "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" and a Chinese fire drill combined.  I left the house before 7 am to run middle daughter to college midterms (45 minutes one way from the house, ugh), then to two early soccer games immediately after which hubby took youngest to his Cub Scout camp out for the day.  I had to pick up middle daughter from her college midterms by noon and then come home and do some housework and in a bit I will be running to exchange places with hubby and stay with youngest for the remainder of the day while hubby goes to work.  Saturdays this time of year are usually crazy with everyone going in eleventy-dozen different directions but today is particularly frenetic.  Oldest son is stepping up to help his youngest sister get to an activity tonight since both hubby and I will be occupied.  Thank goodness he still lives at home or there would have been many days recently where someone was going to get left somewhere or unable to get somewhere.  Bigger thank goodness that he is a good big brother and offers to help when his school and work schedule allow.

Got a lot of fresh produce sitting around that I need to do something with before it spoils.  For lunch I made butternut squash oven fries.  They are supposed to look like the ones below but I accidentally forgot to set the timer and mine were a bit darker than they should have been but they were still good.

I cut mine on my grandmother's old "veg-0-matic" that I inherited.  It still makes perfect fries and fruit quarters even after all these years.  This is a pic I found of it on the 'net.  I still have the box but not the directions.  I swear that thing has to be nearly as old as I am - my grandmother passed away in the 70's and I was barely a teen at the time and remember that it got used plenty back then as one of those sold on tv "labor saving devices".

The only problem with the "veg-o-matic" is that it always reminds me of that old skit from Saturday Night Live and I laugh and have to explain why or people start wondering where I left my straight jacket.  Here's a very short clip from it and it doesn't even begin to cover how funny that skit was.  I don't think they could get away with it today because you know some animal activist is going to bleat about the fish.  The direct youtube link is  Some of you might not even be old enough to remember it.  Argh, I suddenly feel a little older than a did a second ago.


For story updates I only got Up On Hartford Ridge posted but it is four or five parts.  I've been backing up the pictures and documents on my 4T hard drive (yes, that's four terabytes) and building a personal cloud storage system and back up for our business and the computer (and my brain) has been kinda tied up.  My profuse apologies but it was a project that needed doing (we have an extraordinary number of computers and memory sucking devices in use for the business, school, and personal use) and I needed to finish it before Monday.  I'll have more stories up on Monday ... maybe tomorrow but more than likely Monday.

Up On Hartford Ridge

Speaking of squash and pumpkins (well I did mention butternut squash a couple of paragraphs back) the daughters, with a little supervision from me, made pumpkin jam from a pumpkin hubby brought home from one of our open lot tenants that rent the space on the weekends for a food truck and organic fruit and veggie stand kind of thing.  A little too early to turn it into a jack o' lantern so we made goodies out of it.

First they cleaned it out and, after saving the seeds for roasting, peeled and cut the flesh down into chunks and made pumpkin jam.  The video I'm posting is one of my favorites because it is so simple (and the English accent is cool as well).  You take equal weight of pumpkin flesh, apple flesh, and sugar and then boil it until you get to the jelling - aka "setting" - point.  Then you put it in sterilized jars and process it in a boiling water bath. (Direct link is )

They also used some of the flesh to make pumpkin marmalade, another great seasonal item that also makes for a great gift.  (Direct link is ).  I like some of the comments his wife inserts like how it would be safer to slice the pumpkin away from yourself rather than towards yourself.  <grin>

There are actually lots of really cool cooking videos on youtube.  Found one for banana marmalade but it is all in Spanish.  Now normally I would be able to decipher what the directions were as I speak enough to get by but this is a video from Spain and they are using European pronunciation which is slightly different than what you find here in the Americas.  I have a friend who teaches foreign languages so I'll get her to give me a hand with the translation.  Wouldn't normally let it bother me but gotta tell you, banana marmalade is now at the top of my gift-giving idea list and I want to make it right.

Well I'm off to see if I can get a few more things accomplished before heading out.  The next two days are going to be crazy so if I don't post on Sunday at all that's why.  Hoping to have some interesting outdoor pictures for you this coming week.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's Update - 9 Oct 2014

Hey, two days in a row ... getting back up to speed but still hitting some potholes.  LOL. 

I really didn't get as much writing and editing done as I wanted to.  Wound up going to an estate sale, or should I say I wound up wasting my time at what they were calling an estate sale.  Turns out it was really just an over priced yard sale.  Luckily it wasn't too far from the house and hubby and I still managed to get some other things accomplished while we were out.

Soccer practices started back up today.  I can tell where the water was standing in the fields and in between because it has killed the grass and left it yellow and nasty looking.  Some of the places are not going to be an easy fix because of the kind of grass it has to be.  Hopefully enough of us parents can figure it out and between volunteering our time, labor, and resources the recreation ministry won't have to wait too long to do it.

Taste of Home holiday magazines are out.  I like the format and presentation they use but the recipes look like replays of years past.  So if you have one of their magazines from earlier you might want to take a good look at the inside of the latest ones before you plunk down the ten bucks for so many repeats.

In fact a lot of the recipe magazines seem to be repeats this year; different presentation, same recipes.  I shouldn't complain.  It's not like I don't have a gazillion cookbooks and recipe magazines already but cookbooks are one of my few guilty pleasures.  LOL.

We have a crew coming tomorrow to finish up the carport.  I don't think I mentioned it but we were definitely not satisfied with what they did.  It didn't follow the engineer's drawings at all closely.  And their crew was sloppy.  They over torqued the screws and bolts in several places, didn't clean off their chalk and grease pencil lines, didn't place one of the posts square onto the edge of the concrete slab.  And no, they aren't getting paid until they do the job right.  I will never use an out of state contractor again but we didn't know at the time.  The business we bought the structure from subbed it out to a different contractor because they were slammed with work.  Same company, different franchise ... not the same quality of work we had come to expect.  Lesson learned but it sure has been an aggravating one.

Here's the stories that I did manage to get updates on.  Most of them have more than one addition to try and make up for there not being any additions on the other stories yet.

Up On Hartford Ridge

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Zombies Aren't Real Are They?!

Enduring on the Lake

When All Doors Close

Only two videos tonight and they are along the lines of "how do I make my life easier"?  Mostly right now I am trying to get ahead of the holiday cooking rush.  I do that by dehydrating, canning, and/or freezing items ahead of when I need them.  This first video is on how to dehydrate hash browns.

This one is making a dried breakfast meal in a jar or pouch.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Today's Update - 8 Oct 2014

What kind of mojo does this respiratory stuff going around have?!  You think you are over it and go to bed feeling fairly decent and celebrating that the end is in sight.  You wake up the next morning and realize it was all just a dream and the virus has decided to make your body its permanent residence and you may never get a good night's sleep again.  I mean seriously.  It's like we weren't supposed to get any rain this week and that's about all it did yesterday.  No real logic to it.  Never seen anything like this stuff going around ... or at least since the last time I got crud like this and couldn't shake it.  Seems we always forget.  And I have a daughter that is living with this stuff too.  I think we may be passing it back and forth so I'm going to bomb the house with Lysol and scrub all services with a dilution of the liquid Lysol concentrate because I can't use or breathe chlorine bleach.  Need it to cool down so I an open up the house and air things out.

I haven't been able to stay at home as much as I should either but not wanting to give this crud to anyone else I've been wearing a mask while out in public.  Got a couple of silly questions about if I thought it was Halloween and a few that gave me a wide berth thinking I was just some weirdo.  But if it came up I explained and I had several people say thank you for being considerate because they wanted my germs even less than I do.  LOL.  Just doing my civic duty but boy does breathing behind one of those masks take practice and they make you hot too ... and not the good kind that turns your SO on.  No, just the crappy kind of hot that makes you feel worse than you already do.

To chirk me up my older daughter found the following book while out with some friends and brought it home to me as a surprise.

It is a board book of all things and that white plastic gizmo in the bottom right hand is the tab that the pages turn on.

I knew most of the stuff in the book could be pickled but I found some alternative recipes for the pickling process that I am going to try out in the not too distant future ... especially the one for sunchokes.  However, what caught my daughter's eye - she knows her mother's propensity to experiment all too well - was a recipe for making Orange and Cream Soda Vinegar.  Now tell me that wouldn't catch your eye too.  You know it would.  And while introducing the recipe the author speaks about a chef that makes vinegar from Mountain Dew ... the soda ... oh my attention was totally grabbed at that point.  I've done some ... er ... unusual things with soda in recipes but making vinegar with it was something I'd never even thought about.  Jelly, marinade, punches, sauces, breads, ice cream ... just lots of stuff but the idea of vinegar?  Wow.  What fun!  It must make amazing salad dressings.

I haven't found the directions for the Mountain Dew Vinegar yet.  I've seen it mentioned but the recipe might still be proprietary at this time until someone else figures out how to do it and make a good product.  However, while on the hunt I did find something else that I'll share with you.  It is called a Cheerwine Vinegar Pie.  For those of you who don't live in the South - think Georgia rather than Florida - you probably don't have a clue what Cheerwine is and trying to explain the flavor is difficult.  It is sorta like a black cherry soda but not quite, and there is just something special about Cheerwine.  I used to only get it every once in a while when my brother would think to bring me back a bottle or two when he was on a long haul but for the past year or so they've been selling it by the can and 2-liter bottle at all of my local grocery stores.  Boy do I get a kick out of having some when we have friends over. 

First you have to make the Cheerwine Vinegar and the directions for that can be found at  It is a long process, no less than six weeks and possibly as long as nine or ten depending on how the fermentation process works; however, once you make it you can have it on hand and make multiple items from it without having to start at the beginning each time.  And now for that pie recipe:
Cheerwine Vinegar Pie
From Travis Milton, Comfort, Richmond, Virginia 
Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
½ cup cornmeal*
2 tbsp. lard
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup chilled buttermilk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and cornmeal together, and sift into a large mixing bowl. Add lard and work it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it is well incorporated. Repeat with butter, and then transfer the contents of the bowl to a food processor.
Pulse the ingredients 3-4 times, or until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Return the mixture to the bowl, add buttermilk and cider vinegar, and stir until it begins to form a dough. Then knead the dough into a coherent shape, folding it over itself in order to give the crust a layered, flaky texture. 
Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and roll it into a circle 12-13 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour the top of the crust and carefully roll it onto the rolling pin. Unroll it over a 9-inch pie pan, crimp the edges, and dot the base with a knife 8-10 times. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Pie Filling
3 tbsp. cornmeal*
1/8 tsp. salt
1¾ cup sugar
3 whole eggs and 2 yolks, beaten together
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup
Cheerwine vinegar
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift cornmeal, salt, and sugar together into a large mixing bowl. Then gently whisk in eggs. Once the eggs are thoroughly incorporated, add buttermilk, vinegar, and butter.
Pour custard mixture into an unbaked pie crust and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a medium-brown crust has formed on top and the pie has slightly less jiggle than Jello. Let cool and enjoy.
And yes, I did manage to get some writing done; not a lot but definitely some.  I'm usually pooped at the end of the day so there are probably going to be a couple of bloopers in there.  You spot them just let me know and I'll fix them.  A couple stories have more than one new post.  I'll have more tomorrow.

Up On Hartford Ridge

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Zombies Aren't Real Are They?!

Enduring on the Lake

When All Doors Close

Now for the videos.  Vinegar is a serious staple in my home.  I use it for cooking, preserving, cleaning, pest control, wood stain, and medicinally.  At all times I keep a minimum of six gallons of white distilled vinegar on hand, about the same in cider vinegar, and numerous batches of homemade flavored vinegars.  If I didn't have vinegar I would be in a world of hurt.  So, my question was how do I go about being self-sufficient if I run out of vinegar.  Short answer is I can't.  Long answer was to learn to make my own.  The following are some of the better videos that shows how it is done.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Today's Update - 2 Oct 2014

She's back ... from outerspace ...

My apologies to the Gloria Gaynor fans out there but "I Will Survive" has been an earworm for me for over a week now.  Whew.  When they say doing the right thing doesn't always mean doing the easy thing they aren't kidding.  Love my brother and sister in law ... learned to love their giant honking dog too ... but I got tired.  More drama and heartburn I do not need. 

Sister in law had some complications from her procedure and while I think she could have gone home sooner than did, she didn't feel like she could so wound up staying longer here then I heard she decided to stay with her mother for a couple of days.  Or that was the plan.  Not sure what actually happened because she is at her home now.  There are some things you just stay out of if you want to stay sane and other people's business is one of them.  LOL.

Day before yesterday was the first day I really got out of the house and what do I do?  Get soaked to the skin trying to get some errands taken care of.  Went to bed with a hacking cough but am better today.  Looks like I'm more run down than I thought.  Just to be on the safe side with all of the respiratory junk going around I am upping my vitamins for a couple of weeks - especially C and D - and will be taking a little bit of elderberry extract though I've never been able to prove it does anything for me but give me indigestion.  Elderberry extract - aka sambucol - reportedly helps shorten the symptoms of cold and flu viruses and if that's what I'm getting I'll welcome the short circuiting on the virus even if it comes with heart burn.

But a funny thing happened as I was on my way through the grocery store ... look what I found:

My kids are giving me side ways glances about suffering through another round of food experimentation but my Dad has already threatened to come for a visit and be the taste tester.  LOL.  Actually I'm going to try and make him some "candied bacon" this year using turkey bacon and artificial brown sugar.  I won't be able to eat it ... I can't have artificial sweeteners because they create a volcano in my digestive system and that ain't good ... but he said he was a willing guinea pig any time I needed one.  ROFL.  That's my dad for you.

Now the updates are below.  They are not what I wanted to get done but I've been enjoying my husband's company after he's been gone for two weeks and I am also trying to rebuild my energy level while at the same time getting all of my deferred work caught up.  The updates will go back up in number as the days tool along.  I also don't have any yard pictures for you.  It's been raining every day here almost since my husband went out of town.  Everyone's yard is squishy in places.  In fact there is so much standing water that the last two Saturdays' soccer games had to be cancelled because the fields just weren't safe to play on even when it wasn't lightning.  Here's hoping hubby brought the sun back with him but until this stationary front moves on it looks like were stuck with the higher than normal rainfall.

Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?! 

Up On Hartford Ridge

When All Doors Close

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Enduring on the Lake

The videos below are different people making candied bacon or bacon candy, however you want to say it.  Granted, it isn't the healthiest recipe in the world but if you have a bacon lover amongst your family and friends this is just about the best gift you can give them.  LOL!

Now for something a little serious.  Ebola.  Yes the big nasty has made its first appearance here in the US with possibly a second case being monitored though unconfirmed as I type this.  Definitely lots of potential points of infection from "zero case" who happened to be an international traveler.  We all knew it was bound to happen but now that it has what do we do about it?

First, don't panic but be watchful and stay informed.  Second, review the same types of rules you should be using every day when it comes to all the nasty bugs out there ... watch where you put your hands, where your hands go after you put them someplace, teach your kids (otherwise known as germ factories) what good hygiene is including when and how to wash their hands and where not to put their hands in the first place, etc.  Next - and this one seems to be the easiest yet least applied rule I've ever seen - if you, a family member, a co-worker or whatever are sick don't go roaming around in public sharing your germs with the rest of the world ... we don't want them because we have enough of our own thank you very much.  This includes sending your kid to school, sports activities, daycare, church, etc. with even a mild infection of some type.  What is mild for you may not be mild for that kid or adult with asthma or some other kind of immune-compromised system, including just getting over some other bug they got from a person to rude to keep their germs at home.  Do you want to have to answer for that?

I'm not saying there isn't cause for concern at this time.  Ebola is deadly and even if it doesn't kill you, you might go through a period where you wish it had.  But there are a lot of bad things out there right now including the enterovirus that has put so many kids in the hospital, caused paralysis in some, and even killed at least one.  There are all of the mosquito and tick born illnesses running rampant.  Unfortunately TB, MRSA, etc and all of the antibiotic resistant versions of those monsters-in-the-closet out there are continuing to escalate.  But we can't live in a bubble.  Just use some commonsense and stay aware of your surroundings.  Maybe ramp up to yellow alert but in my opinion it isn't the best response to slam into red alert at this time.  Also please beware of all the well-meaning individuals to outright quacks in the world that claim to have a cure or preventive.  As we've seen in other countries 99.9% of what is touted runs from completely useless to outright dangerous and it makes people take chances that are stupid creating more potential vectors for infection. 

I'm reposting the best documentary on ebola I've ever watched.  It is from a few years back but it gives a good base of knowledge for those that don't know what ebola is.