Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Today's Update - 19 Dec 2014

The flu has officially hit our house.  Older son and I were the only ones not affected ... thus far.  This means that updates have been nonexistent and while I apologize I am just going to have to trust that everyone understands.  Below is the update I had started before the family started falling like dominoes.  Between everything else and this I am going to be on "hiatus" until the new year.  I'll try to make some additions to the stories but it is iffy that they will get edited well enough to publish them.

Hoping you and yours have a blessed and sickness-free holidays.


Sorry for the extra days between updates.  It will likely be this way until the new year begins.  Been incredibly busy between one thing and another.  First there was son's 11th birthday and we spent the day at Busch Gardens.  Check out how foggy it was when we got there.  Took this with my phone and came out a lot better than I expected it to.

I got lots of other nifty pics as well, the foggy ones were just the neatest of the bunch.  Oh, those and the ones of my kids riding Falcon's Fury.  It is a new ride at the park and I had to laugh as I could hear my son laughing all the way up and all the way down while I heard his sister screaming on the way down.  My two youngest really, really love roller coasters.  He road every single one in the park at least once.

I've also been cooking and baking up a storm.  An obscene number of cookies have come out of my oven.  I don't even want to guess how many but dozens of dozens only scratches the surface.  Sunday I am going to spend the day making meringues.  I wanted to do it on Monday but the weather forecast tells me that Monday and Tuesday are going to be rainy so no meringues on those two days.

Hey, got a tip for those of you that like to make meringues that I forgot to mention.  I have no problem separating eggs but when I am doing meringue cookies in bulk, or building meringue towers, I've found that purchasing cartons of egg whites already separated makes my life much easier.  You get them over by the artificial eggs in the grocer's dairy aisle.  I can get a carton equivalent to 20 large egg whites for about three dollars.  For me the expense is worth it saved labor.

Today's videos are kinda different.  First one is a Christmas light display done to the tune of Star Wars.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Today's Update - 12 Dec 2014

I'm dog sitting my brother's wolf-dog.  I don't know what you call it because it is like one quarter wolf, half something else, and then a quarter of another one.  Basically it is a mutt that has some wolf in it and roughly the size of a small car.  Well, he isn't really a mutt.  He can be sweet but he is definitely an alpha male dog and Darth Molly adores him but you can just imagine that his patience is sometimes at least as tried as mine gets with her with all of her need to pay attention to someone and get attention paid to her.  Plus he is seven and is way beyond the puppy stage and skittish because of the wolf in him.  But he minds and considering how big he is - not fat, I mean big and tall - I'm glad he does.  He's taken me skiing a few times but didn't mean to though so I have to be careful to have a good grip on him.  When both dogs get going it is like having two horses in the house.  One of the horses might have some manners to him but still two horses and when they run they rattle the crockery.

Just about finished decorating the house.  Now I have to finish cleaning up the mess that decorating created.  Boy am I behind.  Haven't even sent Christmas cards out but plan on taking care of that tomorrow.  Have so much to do I'm honestly not sure I'm going to get everything accomplished I need to.  And with the end of the fiscal year approaching which means new forms, files, etc for 2015 for the business I'm really not sure it is all going to get done.  At least this year Child 2 and 3 are helping with the business side of things.

Forgot to mention that older son got accepted to be a counselor for Winshape this summer.  Winshape is the summer camp program that is sponsored by Chik Fil A.  He'll have just completed his BS in health services so that will be a nice job that will give him a nest egg to start graduate school with.  It will also give him experience that will help him with his career choice.  But that's months away and I'm just glad he is around and helping out right now.  Still, I see that next year is going to bring more changes to our household so I'm trying to enjoy the end of this year as best I can despite the work.  No one is promised tomorrow so I try and make each day have some value to it because really, while other types of legacies can be good to leave behind for your family, memories last longer than physical items do.

Speaking of work, little light on the updates again today and I'm just going to say when things get up they get up and if they don't get up one day or the next they'll eventually get up.  Just this time of year is very busy and I don't want to over commit and promise and then not deliver. 

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

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Up On Hartford Ridge

Mother Hen's Recipes

Today's advent activities with my youngest were based around shepherds as the theme.  In addition to researching shepherds and their duties and other similar types of activities we made peppermint candy canes and candy cane cookies in the form of the shepherd's crook.  After we made our candy canes we watched a video on how large commercial operations make candy canes.  Pretty interesting.  Just as neat is the last video that gives directions for homemade chocolates with only four ingredients.  Chocolate isn't cheap so I decided to rotate some cocoa and make my own.  Bonus is that I'll know what is in the chocolate so I won't have to deal with eleventy-dozen, unpronounceable preservatives and other things in my candies.

How Candy Canes Are Made
Candy Cane Cookies
Homemade Chocolate with Four Ingredients

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Today's Update - 11 Dec 2014

Cracked a bowl of pecans today to use the ones that I had in the freezer and save having to buy them in the store this year.  Oh ... my ... word!  I nearly choked at how expensive they were at Thanksgiving.  Thirteen dollars a pound in some stores!  They've come down a little but my mother says that she heard that because the crop was very poor to nonexistent this year in Georgia, we can expect these high prices to last at least another year.  I haven't been able to find any hazelnuts to speak of either so I'm wondering if it is the same thing.  Probably all thanks to the strange weather patterns we've had all year.  Looks like I'll be making cookies and pies that contain fewer nuts and instead have to substitute nut butters from the grocer's shelves like Nutella or Cashew Butter or something similar.  I like to make fresh but I like to keep at least a few pennies in my pocket too so cutting corners it will be.

Had a box of Christmas decorations disappear on me and I spent forever and a day looking for it.  It was behind another box on the very top shelf of one of my shelves in the garage.  I was just plain relieved to find it ... until fifteen year old daughter says, "Oh.  You meant THAT box.  Yeah I moved it because it was in my way."  ARGH!!!!  I almost said, "Child please!  I was ready to have a coronary - it contains some of my most treasured pieces - and was running around the house for hours like a chicken with my head cut off and you just now figure out what is going on?!"  I didn't, but it was a near thing.  I forget, when is it they take their common sense out of the deep freeze and start using it again?  Geez Louise.  Oh well.  Put the mother's curse on her and told her I hope she has one just like her.  It is the only thing that really works in the long run.  You know how I know?  Because my mother wished the same thing on me and ... now I know.  (But don't tell Mom, she'll laugh so hard she won't be able to see straight for three days.)

I got a little more writing done today but didn't get it edited in time for posting on tonight's update.  But I didn't backslide so it is the same four as I've been adding.

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

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Up On Hartford Ridge

Mother Hen's Recipes

Every year I try and do an advent type unit study with the kids.  Well the older four have all "outgrown" the activities but for now my ten year old still really enjoys it.  This year I am once again doing the "Blessed" unit study that we've done multiple times since my oldest two were still in grade school.  Today's "theme" was poinsettias and Dragon Boy and I made poinsettia cookies as one of the activities.  Uh oh, even at ten I had forgotten how sensitive my son still is to red food coloring.  I've been peeling him off the ceiling all afternoon and finally just sent him and Darth Molly outside to see how many times they could run around the house without stopping.  I lost count.  He didn't bother counting because he and the dog were having too much fun chasing each other around.  I got tired just hanging what I hope is the last few Christmas lights ... they're like dust bunnies and multiply in the dark.  Right now it's 8 pm and he is just now beginning to settle down.  Darth Molly has already crashed an burned.  LOL.  Think I'll avoid red dye once again for a good while after this.  Hubby has the same sensitivity; it turns my Type A husband into a Type AAAAAA+++++.  So yes, those cookies are already packaged and hidden in the freezer under bags of cauliflower and some weird looking science project my older son has going.  They will only be safe their for so long so I need to get my cookie tins ready by this weekend.

Easy Poinsettias Cookies

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today's Update - 10 Dec 2014

Been putting some of our oldest VHS home movies and pictures on DVD for my hubby for Christmas.  Boy has it been bringing up the memories.

See the candy in the above picture?  For those that don't recognize it, it is the traditional Christmas ribbon candy.  I grew up thinking that this was a way beyond special treat.  My parents ... well to be quite truthful my parents grew up really, really poor.  My mother didn't have indoor plumbing until she was a teenager.  My father was raised by his grandparents for several years as my grandmother had to go out and work in an era when it was pretty much frowned upon. My parents married young and after my mother got pregnant with me my father joined the military.  Before my brother was born, so I would have two or three, I can remember sleeping on a cot in my parents' bedroom in an efficiency apartment in off-basing housing.  They used to celebrate having a few pennies left ... literally a few pennies ... at the end of the month after paying all the bills.  My folks had meat to eat a couple of times a month ... not week, but month.  So certain things were just special in a way that most people wouldn't find them today.  Christmas ribbon candy was that kind of special.

My mother and I still reminisce how Daddy would bring a box home at the beginning of December which signaled that Christmas time had really started.  Sometimes he was TDY during the holidays so Mom would buy the box but it wasn't quite the same. We savored that box of beautiful candy all month, just allowing ourselves nibbles here and there.  Memories.  These days I could buy enough ribbon candy to make Mom and I completely sick of the stuff but I don't.  You still need to treat some things special.  But every year under the tree she knows she'll find a box of ribbon candy and a barrel of Christmas hard candies. 

You ever heard the term Hard Candy Christmas?  Dolly Parton used it in one of her songs but what it really means is a very economically poor Christmas but somehow you still find the sweet things about it; the term dates back to the 1850s if you need yet another miscellaneous fact floating around in your head.  That's how my mother grew up ... dirt poor with a penny bag of hard candy at Christmas the only luxury they could afford.  Their Christmas was what was in their stocking ... some fancy nuts still in the shell, an apple (or orange if the crops had done exceptionally well), some Christmas hard candies, and some little something or other that was useful and practical yet beautiful even if it was a made over hand me down or handmade item.

More memories.  I was fairly sick as a child, slowly outgrowing the worst of it as I got older.  Last bad sick I took along those lines was when I was nineteen and I scared the crap out of the whole family, including my boyfriend who eventually became the man I am still married to.  Winter in Kentucky was really brutal for me and it was one of the factors that led my father to ask to be stationed here in Florida when I nine years old.  Most of my memories of Christmas are from a sofa or chair where I was wrapped in a quilt or my father's or grandfather's coat, watching my cousins go sugared-up crazy tearing from one end of the house to the other or watching them as they played outside in the cold weather and snow.  I've made exactly one snowman in my life.  I was eight and Daddy had come in for a short few days respite from his year-long TDY in Greenland. 

I remember one year, I must have been five or six, and December that year was cold and rainy.  Then came a day we went to the farm to help with hog butchering and I was sick again.  Granddaddy and Memaw and my parents ... all of the adults were really busy and had enlisted all the cousins to help as well, even those younger than me like my little brother.  I was stuck in the house and I remember being so lonesome.  All I could do was watch from the antique windows that were so old that they weren't plate glass but had the warble so that you could barely see anything clearly through them.  But then Granddaddy came into the house, big bear of a man who had worked harder than hard his whole life.  He stepped inside and started fussing.  "This child is in here and there's not a spark left in the fireplace.  Fotch them boys to bring in some wood!"  He turned to me and said, "Sister, Granddaddy'll get this fixed."

I remember him covering me with his coat, heavy and all warm and smelling of him.  Then I watched him build the fire back up and shoo the boys out of the house, telling them to stop running around like a herd of hogs, and I went to sleep staring at the flames.  I still don't know what he wore because I woke up still draped by his coat after it had gotten dark and the adults had retreated to the old kitchen for coffee and sandwiches.

I think half the reason for celebrating Christmas are the memories.  It seems that it is only this time of year that we take the time to stop and remember some things and truly appreciate the blessings we have received in this life ... even if it is the blessing of learning a lesson the hard way.

As a result of the movie and picture project I didn't get as much writing accomplished as I'd hoped but at least I didn't backslide.  (grin)

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

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Up On Hartford Ridge

Mother Hen's Recipes

And today's youtubes are on meringues, a real favorite of mine.  They aren't just for topping a pie.  I love meringue cookies and over the years have found some really cool ways to make them.  Meringues give you a lot more creative scope than most people are aware.

Rainbow Meringue Cookies
(Note:  you can use whatever colors suit the time of year you are making them.)
Meringue Christmas Cookies
Chocolate Meringues
(Note:  oh my gosh, don't get me started.  Yummmmmm!)
Santa Hat Meringues

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today's Update - 9 Dec 2014

Did you all know that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Claymation movie?  I'm surprised they aren't marketing it more.  My brother loves that old movie and I'm always sending him pics of it to give him a pick me up here at the holidays.  I always have fun with him with his gifts as well.  LOL

Reindeer Recipes from Taste of Home

Rudolph Cake (made from one wedge of chocolate cake)

Rice Krispey Rudolph

Reece's Cup Rudolph

Ritz Snowman

And here's a website that has all sorts of cool ideas for Christmas including snowman soup

Aside from normal business activities and housework I have to finish decorating the house today and continue my Christmas baking.  My refrigerator freezer is starting to fill up with cookies but we still have a long way to go until we are finished.  I hope to have all the baking accomplished before Sunday and after that I will be canning up some jams and jellies to add to gift baskets.  One of the new ones that I am making this year is Gingerbread Spice Jelly.  I will put the recipe up at Mother Hen's Recipes. 

I also need to get out and run the extension cords for the Christmas lights.  I've never been so late getting things accomplished.  Don't like being rushed.  December is a busy enough month for us as it is between the youngest's birthday, the oldest's wedding anniversary, various and sundry Christmas productions at church, end of the fiscal year filings and business stuff, yada, yada, yada.  Crazy times but then again, this is what makes those sustaining memories for the hard times that come along.

Story updates ... yeah, I got some accomplished but blogger and I are going to go ten rounds if it doesn't get less uppity.

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

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

Up On Hartford Ridge

Mother Hen's Recipes
(got the recipe for Gingerbread Spice Jelly up)

If I can update anymore tonight I'll simply include them in tomorrow's update.  I might not have the time to try as I am working on my grocery list and budget.  Local grocery store is having a pretty good BOGO sale and it starts in the morning so I want to get what we need before stock gets low.  I'm going to ask the butcher if they have any ham bones or other soup bones as my mother took the carcass from the turkey I cooked at Thanksgiving and I need to make more broth to replace all that I've used recently.  The manager that I knew has retired so I'm making the effort to cultivate some of the younger ones that now run the grocery store.  They are only a little older than my oldest son and I'm not sure what they make of me yet.  LOL.

And in keeping with the Holiday theme I've had going first I'll post a couple of clips of Celtic Woman's Christmas music.  After that I'll have some homemade cordial and candies youtubes you might like.

Cherry Cordial Candies
Blackberry Cordial
Lime Cordial
Lemon Cordial

Monday, December 8, 2014

Today's Update - 8 Dec 2014

What a Monday!  What is it about the beginning of the work week that turns people into either babbling idiots or monsters that could rival the ones that hide amongst the dust bunnies under the bed?!  Wet miserable weather that I didn't expect or plan for hasn't helped either.  Every little sproing I have in my hair has taken on a life of its own and I look like a hen that stuck its tail feathers in an electrical outlet.  Hanging Christmas lights in a heavy, misting rain wasn't exactly lovely either ... especially after Darth Molly decided she wanted to help.  Oy, you have no idea.  It has been one of those days that always reminds me of that old show "Candid Camera."  Oh well.  At least I can say that I'm getting things accomplished.  LOL. 

Google is slowly letting me spend more time on the various blogs before it stops responding.  I'm having my lines checked to see if maybe my carrier is choking my bandwidth and it is causing something to time out.  Despite it all I have managed to get a few things up.

For those wondering about the liqueur and cordial recipes, I think I've gotten most of them up at the recipe blog.  I need to check around and see if there are anymore hiding out on my computer that I can just copy-n-paste in tonight or tomorrow.

Mother Hen's Recipe Blog

For those that asked about the book that has all of the frugal recipes for both cooking and household products, Rodale publishing produced several nice ones.  Reader's Digest did as well.  Most of my books are years old so will likely not be in print these days.  If you happen to go to a bookstore don't overlook books on herbs in the garden section as sometimes they have sections in them on what you do with herbs besides cooking.  The ingredients I use in mine are very basic, I don't even bother with using essential oils though I know that is the trend and even my married daughter uses them.  If I had to come up with a basic ingredient list for my homemade cleaners I would say:  alcohol, lemon juice, ammonia, salt, baking soda, borax, vinegar, and instead of bleach I use hydrogen peroxide.  The main commercial product I use is Oxy-Clean which I use on antique linens and laces as a good soaking solution.  I will try and share my cleaner recipes over the next couple of weeks.

The stories I managed to get updated are:

Up On Hartford Ridge

A Bunch of Wild Thyme

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

I wanted to do more but "blogger is no longer responding" so I'm going to give it a rest for the night before I get tempted to do some damage to "blogger" whoever he or she is. 

Tonight, after realizing I was caught somewhere between The Grinch and mean ol' Herod I decided I needed to do something to get over my Monday Blues and get in the spirit of the season.  I've been listening to some new-to-me Christmas music, probably a group that everyone else has already heard of just like Pentatonix.  LOL.  Anyway here are The Piano Guys.  Their Carol of the Bells (for 12 cellos) is amazing and so is their other work, some of which I'm posting below.  I'm also baking cookies ... and my mother sent me a really good recipe for Meringue Christmas Tree cookies so I'm gathering what I need for that as well.  First batch probably won't last too long ... I love meringues.  (blush)  LOL.  Feeling less and less Grinchy as each note rises and as the smell of baking fills the air.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Today's Update - 6 Dec 2014

Busy, busy day.  Honestly don't see the days slowing down for a week or two.  Hit up a couple of estate sales and yard sales first thing this morning and I gotta say some folks think a lot more of their junk than they should.  And when I say junk I mean junk.  My advice for people is that if you are going to have a sale, make sure it is stuff that people would want to buy.  And make sure it is priced realistically.

Got another post up on "Hartford Ridge" but google started burping again.  Will try again for Monday.


I'm going to try and get my homemade liqueur recipes up at the recipe blog.  In the meantime here are some youtubes for various flavors.

Elderberry Liqueur

Liqueur Filled Chocolates

Strawberry Liqueur

Friday, December 5, 2014

Today's Update - 5 Dec 2015

Ok, so yes I do like cardinals.  LOL.  I decided to have TWO Christmas trees this year ... plus the ones that the kids put up in their bedrooms.  I'd have cardinals and poinsettias up all year if I could but then I wouldn't get to put anything else out and I do like decorating for the various holidays.  I go a little overboard but it is the season for it and no one around here complains.  (grin)

And google is finally starting to behave.  I think that it is all the people online for Cyber Week ... maybe ... possibly ... or it could just be Google messing with me ... who knows.  Either way the problems are letting up.  I was able to post a nice long chapter for "Up on Hartford Ridge."


Been super busy.  Thanksgiving, first of the month business stuff, prepping for Christmas ... just all of it so this update is going to be shorter than usual.  I'll try and do a nice long one tomorrow.

And just in case I am not the last person on earth to hear of the group Pentatonix, you really need to hear them.  Oh my ...


Monday, December 1, 2014


Google giving me fits.  Won't let up upload anything more than a paragraph long.  I'll keep trying but it may be tomorrow before the new story bits post.