Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's working!

Here we are - midway through January - and I am still organized!  It's a miracle, I tell you!  It did help that I had a three-day weekend, prefaced by an early exit from work for a haircut.  I am practicing for my retirement...

Lots went on this weekend:

Lunch with my parents
Oil change (and surprise exhaust work)
Knitting (see above)
Manure shoveling

My meal planning efforts are starting to be worth their weight in gold.  Last week, my sister gave me this dry erase board (I so love it) and I set myself up for a week.  I list the recipes that I need to make on the bottom right (most were done at this point...) and then all I have to do is remember to consult it every morning.  That is the challenge.  Soup this week was Sweet & Sour Beef & Cabbage.  The chicken was roasted with a mustard/honey sauce.  It was supposed to be cut into serving pieces, but I was pretty much knackered by Monday night, so it was spatchcocked.
Roasted with the end of my paltry potato harvest.
I already made some changes to the plan - the "S/P crust" was for the sweet potato pizza planned for Friday.  No way that was happening by last night.  So it's now going to be an omelet with leftover roasted potatoes from Monday's meal.  I am loving this planning business.  I think I never bothered because I didn't think it was worth it for a single person.  Wrong-o!  I made my breakfasts for the week:
Strawberry cheesecake oats

GF Oat 'gnagels"
I chose a new recipe for oats this time - strawberry cheesecake oats.  I discovered a partial bag of frozen strawberries (egads - at least 2 years old, but smelled very strawberry-ey) so whipped these up.  Very healthy - strawberries, almond milk, yogurt, cough*creamcheese*cough, chia seeds.  I also whipped up a batch of KAF's oat 'bagels', which are gluten free.  Ergo, not bagels, but gnagels.  I love these.
 Speaking of breakfast, I had my favorite GF pancakes for breakfast this weekend, Trader Joe's GF Pumpkin Pancake Mix (with some frozen blueberries I discovered next to the strawberries....bad me):
OMG, the BEST mix!

The pups and I went up the mountain for a hike on Sunday - it was a sunny day; a rarity in these parts lately.  Of course, the length of the hike is only as long as the shortest legs...
Captain Short Legs

A beautiful spot
We then got to go inside and have tea, cheese, fruit and GF crackers (me) and rawhide sticks and beef jerky (pups).  It was all very civilized.  I went on a solo adult visit Saturday to a friends' for our 'holiday' get-together.  It was very revealing.  We usually (there are three of us - the Girlz) exchange little baskets of homemade stuff.  L is not very handy but she usually recycles gifts to us that she receives and doesn't want.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't care where it comes from.  She gets great stuff!  However, this year she didn't have anything to give.  Also, not a problem.  My little gift bag was entirely handmade - a pair of knitted acorns, eggnog with rum, Meyers lemon curd, homemade vanilla.  What did bother me was that she was visibly relieved to find that all of it was handmade - as if it was not worth much/anything, so her guilt was assuaged.  We all know how much time, effort and care we put into handmade things.  She is off my list for next year and I may suggest we all give it a rest.

There was a lot of knitting in between cleaning and manure management.  I ended up with some unexpected knitting time - at the mechanics, you can take it from there - so I am making progress on a pair of fingerless mitts for a friend's partner.  I also got some quality BFF time with Melanie, as we are back on our Knitting Sundays.  It's always a good excuse to get a fire going in the fireplace which makes for a cozy scene.
Kramer is a big fan of fireplaces.
Next weekend will be a little different.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rethinking Pink

 When I was a kid, I was a tomboy.  I wanted nothing to do with anything that would infer that I was a girl, or a wimp, or a weakling.  I was one tough cookie.  This probably had something to do with the fact that I grew fast and - for a short while - was taller than a lot of kids in my neighborhood, and the fact that I have always been a bit...fractous.  I was continually getting into fights and, because of my height and ferocious nature, was mostly victorious.  Then I stopped growing and everyone caught up.  Needless to say, payback was painful.

Pink meant girlie things - frilly dresses, dolls, clean socks.  I did not like dresses (although I had a short love affair with a dress worn by a girl sitting next to me in second grade.  It had a blow-up inner tube that made the skirt stand out like an umbrella.  She was mean to me, so I stuck it with a pin when she wasn't looking and the best she could do was a semi-inflation.  Which was not attractive.)   I refused to wear pink right into adulthood.  I did, however, knit myself a lovely alpaca scarf in what I refer to as "rose".  There was quite a bit of rationalization involved.

I am now embracing the pinkness of pink. 
My friend, Maggie.
I have joined the many, many, many knitters who are cranking out Pussyhats for the Women's March in Washington on January 21.  The Pussyhat project is a movement within the movement - a symbol of women's rights and our intention to make sure they are not trodden under with this new - and scary - administration.  I've knitted two hats - I have sock obligations as well - and my friend, Maggie, is going to be wearing one.  I've know Maggie almost as long as I have lived in New York (Upstate).  She was born a rebel and has remained one (in the most endearing way) all of her life.  Maggie has supported and fought for women's and human rights at every opportunity.  It's how she lives her life.  I am a great admirer of Maggie and very proud that my hat - 'tho it resembles more of a devil cat than pussycat - will be on her head when she takes part in history-making later this month.

The second hat came off the needles yesterday and will be winging its way to a total stranger today.  I like the idea that, while I cannot take my place beside the marchers, a little bit of pink, of my making, will be bobbing along with thousands of other bits of pink, creating an entire ocean of pink.  It gives me goosebumps just to think about it.
Lunch time knitting - off the needles.
I hear there is a shortage of pink yarn...  If you haven't heard about the Pussyhat Project, you can read about it here and here.  PINK ON!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Starting the new year on the right (left, right, left) foot.

One of the (many) glaring problems that plagued me last year was my almost total lack of organization and planning.  It invaded my garden, my eating habits, you name it.

With a clean slate at the ready, I began my new organized life.  I planned my meals for the week.  Baby steps, you all, baby steps.  The biggest problem is breakfast - I may get up before the crap of dawn (as Kay used to say) but that's my time to squeeze in knitting and other handcrafts.  The advantage being that all the furred things are still sleeping.  By the time I feed everyone inside and out, I barely have time to get myself reasonably presentable and out of the door.

I had gotten in the habit, briefly, of using make-ahead steel cut oats - but that, too, dropped by the wayside.  It's back.  Yesterday I:

Made soup - potato/lentil/greens

Made my favorite non-meat spaghetti sauce:

Working my way through three years
of canned tomatoes...

From the Moosewood Low-Fat
Made my favorite vegan peanut sauce.

Made five mornings of steel-cut oats.

I should be set until the next weekend.  I did not get pics of the rest - there were too many distractions during the process.

The biggest distraction was Lovey's Christmas toy from one of her aunties.  We were fighting over it. It was back-ordered, as they can't seem to make them fast enough. 

I take exception with the tie.  We do NOT
"heart" him. 

Apparently the Cheetos/Doritos
effect was working...
Also on my list of How to Build a Better Me was to make it to the library at least every other week.  No more buying books - part of my No Spend Year.  I lucked out and got a freebie from my mom - we have our own lending library within the family.

And, in case you are wondering, I did, indeed, jettison 365 things from my house last year.  As a matter of fact, I exceeded that number by a few.  I am in the (slow) process of cataloging them and will, at some point, put them on a separate page.  In case any of you are having trouble falling asleep at night.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Visits, Thai Food, Death Farts

First of all, thank all of you for your kind words and comments about my loss of Scrappy.  I continue to feel his loss as painfully as if it was yesterday and I am sure I will for a long time.  He was an exceptionally wonderful dog and friend.


I made it through the holidays by the skin of my teeth - there's nothing new there.  I tend to dread the end of the year for multiple reasons:  bad things happen (yep), I get older (darn), there's no daylight (hello?)  Thanks to friends and family, I didn't have much down time - my guest room was occupied through both holidays.  I will say that my guest room is a cozy nest that brings on sleep like a load of ether.  Must be the good feng shui, heavy drapes, fleece sheets and blanket, and down comforter.  Guests sink into the fluffy burrow and don't arise for hours and hours.  My nephew was down for over 12 hours...hehe.  Of course, if you do happen to arise during the night, be prepared to face the two-dimensional cat and the doormat dachshund that lurk right outside your door...

Speaking of Captain Death Farts (aka The Pepperoni), I had to make yet one more visit to the vet before the end of the year, and was driving with The Pepperoni on my lap (Yes, yes.  I know it's unsafe - but so is trying to concentrate on the road with a hairy ping pong ball next to you) when the Death Farts started.  I mean, they were so bad that I had to crack open all the windows - it was 15 degrees without the wind chill factor - just so Lovey and I could survive until we could escape the car.  CDF is having all treats curtailed until he quits percolating these eye-watering nose bombs.

For New Year's Day (and my birthday), my youngest sister arrived with a bottle of bubbly, the ingredients for a Thai dinner and a DVD of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  While we sipped our mimosas (fresh-squeezed oranges, no less), we delved into my birthday present to myself.
It was fun - and it looks as if my sis will be under the influence of the Sun in her future!

Then it was down to business.

She made rice noodles with scallops, shrimp, mussels and a spicy coconut milk broth.  OMG.  And she made enough that I got two delicious meals out of it.  OMG.  Then we sat down, sprinkled with dogs and cats, and enjoyed the black and white camp act of two great film divas.  It was so much fun.

Now it is back to the mundane - although, frankly, it is never mundane around here for long.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Goodbye, Precious.

A Most Excellent Dog.
Yesterday was truly the darkest of them all.  I have no words, only tears.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Chilly. China. Whiplash. Death. Timber!

Now, there's a catchy heading...

Lots happening but not a lot of opportunity to post.  So - you get it all at once, you lucky devils.

First, there was this:

Notice the minus sign...
which is not surprising, since I do live in the Northeast and it is winter.  However, there was heat.  I quickly got on the phone and called - pardon the expression - my furnace guy's hot line.  Also as no surprise, there were quite a few of us queued up on the hot line.  And, as there were elderly people living in trailers with no back-up heat source, I was relegated down the line.  A fire was lit in the fireplace and the electric space heaters were put in bathrooms.  We snuggled.

Then there was the good news/bad news - it was not my furnace (good) but it was my thermostat (bad).  Off they went in search of a replacement.  Some hours later, they were back and installed the new thermostat.

Next morning?  Rinse, repeat.  Bad thermostat.  Made in China (really surprised you there, didn't I?)  Second thermostat seems to be holding its own.
Lovey is very happy the new thermostat is
We had a cold front move through - more than one, I believe - behind a gale-force wind.  It was  Then we got eight inches of snow.  Then it rained.  Then it froze.  Herein lies the whiplash effect.  Sunday morning I woke up to rain and 39 degrees.  This morning?  It was 9 degrees.  At least it was in the positive.  Gads.  In between, I was busy shoveling, raking snow off the carport and fuel tank cover, loading sand buckets, chipping piles of icy llama beans, adding layers to duck huts, chicken coops and barn floors.

In amongst these activities, I ladled out the birdseed.  Only later in the day - after noticing a drop-off in bird activity, did I discover there had been a violent death.  Gah!  I believe it was one of my mourning doves.
Nothing but feathers and a little spot of blood.
Between the 8+ inches of snow and then the rain, I was kept on my toes by the slow movement of snow and ice down my shiny new metal roof.  After the close call with The Pepperoni, I am very alert.  The entire back of the roof shed its load right when I was baking my latest GF discovery.  I am blaming the collapse of the loaf on the extremely loud noise the snow load made as it hit my deck.  Not only that, the center was not cooked through, even after an hour and fifteen minutes.  I was loathe to cook it longer, as it would have dried to the consistency of a hockey puck.  Can chickens eat chocolate?

Living in the Northeast in winter is not for sissies.

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's back.

It's true that you can 'smell' snow coming.  Yesterday, as the feeble rays of what passes for sun disappeared behind the clouds, I could smell it.  The funny thing, is that I was standing out in the chicken/duck yard, nose in the air - I looked over and the ducks were standing still, beaks in the air.  I feel  I'm special, all right.  Bring on the padded wagon and the 'special' jacket with the long arms...

I bustled about, trying to get loose ends tucked in before it snowed.  Then I went inside and put on a pot of soup - Ski Country Soup, a family favorite.  That allowed me to clean a little more out of the freezer and mega-stash of canned goods.  I also managed to can 24 pints of vege broth - I had been hoarding my vege-ends in the freezer and thought it would be a perfect weekend to haul them out and make stock.  Imagine my surprise when I uncovered three stuffed gallon zip bags full!  I have one more batch of stock to make - this from an assortment of bones and carcasses (carcassi?) and that's on the schedule for next weekend.  If nothing else, I will go into this winter well-brothed.

Having been sidelined with a sore throat and slight fever (I work with the equivalent of Typhoid Mary - she of many sickly grands), I was hoping that I didn't have her latest acquisition - strep throat.  I don't.  Close call.  Since I was house-bound, I got a few more things (piddly) checked off my list, but every piddly thing helps.  I made a GF version of one of my all-time favorite muffins - one that I have not baked since pre-GF-ness, which has to be 3-4 years now, and I tried it on the barn crew.  Success!  They are Breakfast Muffins - a combo of Bisquick, shredded cheddar and crumbled hot sausage.  I happened to have a box of GF Bisquick so whipped them up.  I would change a few things next time, but all in all, they were tasty.

I also did pawdicures - Lovey is such a breeze to work with, The Pepperoni is like working with a pill bug, and Scrappy - who used to be a walk in the park, is now Mr. Bop-The-Mole with his nails.  Luckily, TP has an appointment with his groomer next weekend - he loves her and lies there like a besotted furry pillow, while she does anything she wants to him.  It's maddening.  I got four loads of laundry done, the drying of which was helped along by a fire in the fireplace most of the weekend.  I also slipped in some reading and knitting.  All in all, it was a pretty descent weekend.

It was a good thing I rested up - I awoke to eight inches of icy snow, so spent a great amount of the morning shoveling.  The ducks have now come to grips with their new cold, white reality and are down the ramp and in their water bowls with hardly a pause.  The same cannot be said of the chickens.  Poor Bunny got booted out of the coop and forlornly went and joined the ducks.  While the poultry yard is plenty big for two roosters, the coop is not.