Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oooh, baby, it's cold outside!

Almost nothing of Lovey was visible this morning.

She was wondering what fresh hell this day would bring.  Her enthusiasm for winter wanes by the day.  Pepper was disguised as a brown fleece lump and Scrappy was pretending to sleep so he wouldn't have to go outside.  The Cruel Food Woman (that would be I) shooed them out into the frigid morning, where business was carried out at a brisk pace.  It feels like January.  The kitchen wasn't as warm as I would have liked it - mostly because the heat duct was blocked by a feline body.  So I roasted a butternut squash.  Nothing like adding heat and aroma at the same time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm gaining on it!

I managed to get all my beets canned.  And all my applesauce canned.  And it only took me a month.  For some reason, I was not all fired-up as I usually am.  I allowed the beets and apples to reside in my fridge (taking up any available space left by the behemoth cabbages - which are still there...) while I blithely ignored them.  It was ridiculous.

So I pulled up my BGPs and got at it on Saturday.  I canned regular diced beets, then whipped up some spiced pickled beets.  Then, since I was on a roll, I pulled out the apples and peeled and pared my little heart out.  The sheep and llama were thrilled with the peels and cores.  I tell you, the way to a llama's heart is paved with apple peels.

You'd think, with all the whinging and whining and carrying-on, that there would be acres of counter top covered with canned goods.  This was it:

All my beets were Chiogga
or Golden.
I will have to say, in my own defense, that I had to deal with (and am still dealing with) an unexpected fridge full of chard.  (BTW, the score is Me: 4  Voles: 0 - if you don't count the bushel of beets and rows of chard they demolished.)  But, still.  I mean, really.

For the record, I will now be making applesauce in full hazmat.  While stirring away, a molten blob of applesauce erupted out of the pot and hit me square in the eye!  Thank goodness it landed in the space right above the tear duct and not IN my eye.  Geez.  I had to very gingerly apply my handy-dandy aloe plant juice.  It's getting so that I'm not safe in or out of the house!

Pic from halloween

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It should come as no surprise that Pepper is not an easy subject to photograph.  As soon as he knows that you want him to do something - such as sit still for two seconds - he does the opposite.  I guess that is why I am so fond of dachshunds.  They remind me of me.

His sweater was finished early yesterday morning, just in time for the low teens of the morning.  As soon as I put it on him, he spent every waking hour trying to get it off.  I would come in the room to find him with the one-shoulder look, having managed to pry his flibber out of one sleeve.  In order to save the sweater, I only put it on him before bed - for the double-layer effect - and to go outside.  We seem to have reached d├ętente.

I finally put him on the table so
he couldn't go far.

He is rather adorable, if I do say so.
It's his saving grace.

Lovey, on the other hand, loves her jacket and wears it all of the time.  I am hoping that she will feel the same about her soon-to-be sweater.

I have everyone's rapt attention - I am
standing next to the crunchy treat jar...

Friday, November 14, 2014


No matter how often I hear the weather forecast that predicts the first snow, it always takes me by surprise.  It had just started falling, very gently, last night and this morning we had three inches fluffed up on the deck.  Lovey has never seen snow.  It only slowed her down for one nanosecond before she embraced it wholeheartedly and went romping off through the poultry yard - flinging nosefuls of it in the air.  Pepper was not as impressed, to put it mildly.  I had to forcibly remove him from his burrito wrapping, bed hair and all, and plop him unceremoniously on the path I had shoveled for him.  He gave me a withering glance over his shoulder before stalking off down the steps.  Where he left me a nice little present/bomb right in the middle of where I have to walk.  Touche!

I am 99% finished with his first sweater - having cobbled it together with odd lots from my stash.  At least it is washable and not pink.  I'm saving the pink for my girl...

(Seeing this pic reminds me that I left the latest mouse carcass on the bird feeder - off camera to the left.  Thank goodness (haha) it's not going above the mid 30s today.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Projects of the knitting kind.

I finally finished all the hatware for the little noggins.  I am now ready to start on Pepper's first sweater - I figure, given the fact that he's about 2.5 inches off the ground, he will need multiple sweaters.  One to wear while the others are washed and dried.  It's amazing how much fuss is involved with such a small dog.  Scrappy needs:  hugs, treats, hugs.  So that's easy enough.  Lovey needs:  hugs, treats and exercise.  Ditto.  Well, maybe a sweater, too.  Pepper needs:  a hearing aid, combing, hugs, anal gland cleaning, an extreme amount of treats, sweaters, blankets, and a whole lotta patience from his person...

I did manage to take pictures of the last of the kiddie lot:


My table is not red-orange, but so goes the weirdness of my phone camera.  Top to bottom:
Baby bonnet (color is a lovely blue-gray) with apple button and embroidered flower in front for my friend, Rosie's great-niece.  Twins' earflap hats with i-chord ties.  Twins' big sister's alpaca pixie hat with ties.  If you don't look closely (and if you do, well, you deserve what you see...:-/), they turned out pretty well.  It's fun to knit small things.  The bonnet was particularly fun because you knit it in one piece, starting from the chin strap.  And, gasp, it involved short rows!  And I wasn't afraid!!

Once Pepper's sweater is finished, I will have him model it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why sharing your life with dogs makes you smarter.

(Or, the alternate heading:  Why sharing your life with dogs can drive you to distraction and adult beverages.)

All of my dogs in my adult life have also been adults - or downright oldsters.  I LOVE me my oldster dogs.  Now I have a youngster - Lovey - and it is such a joy.  Until she shreds things.  And then.  Then there is Pepperoni.  NOT a youngster by any stretch of the imagination at age 13.  Minus 22 teeth.  But those remaining five teeth in his tiny noggin can do more damage than any puppy I've been up against.

Case in point - the Mouse Obsession Period.  That period when he ripped off (or gummed off, it was plenty soggy) a portion of the back of the couch skirting and chewed a lamp cord to bits.  He was a very lucky dog, in that it was plugged into the timer, so there was no juice with which to toast those five teeth.  Bugger.

I am sure it will come as no surprise to most of you that I was not inclined to replace my lamp, but to fix it.  I mean, how hard could it be?  I have numerous reference books on home repairs.  There is YouTube.  There is How-to-whatever.  I trotted off to Home Depot and bought a replacement cord.  It was over six bucks!  Really?

I then sat down to deconstruct the lamp.  I do have to admit that deconstructing stuff is way more fun than constructing it.  I have taken things apart gleefully since I was a kid.  Even the exploding golf ball didn't dampen my obsession.

A half hour later, I had managed to work my way through the lamp, using every screwdriver and wrench in my tool box.  I was following the cord, hoping to find the end where I could easily (cough) detach the chewed cord and attach the new one.  It was not easy.  This was because the lamp had been made in China for the new THROWITAWAY generation of Americans.  Pfft.  I had to cut the cord at the screw-on-thingy part (more tech-talk) and then go searching around for a replacement - I was determined not to spend another cent on this project.  I did finally find a replacement (of sorts) at my neighbor's.  He never throws anything away, thank goodness. 

I spent another hour, threading the new cord through the disassembled lamp, reassembling it as I went.  Paging carefully through my Readers Digest Home Repair Manual (thanks Mom and Dad), I was happy that the attachment looked easy.  Except for the fact that my replacement cord had no definition between silver and bronze (ground and live).  Sigh.  I looked at the package.  Made in China.  I took a technical leap (eeny, meeny, miney, moe....) and connected them.  Then I screwed in the bulb and plugged it in.  It lit!  So I finished my Jerry-rigged job and put the shade on and plugged it in.  It did NOT turn on.  I put it in the guest room to haul out for another day when I was feeling smarter.....

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oh, yum.

Excuse the pan - it's my most useful size
and I won't get rid of it.
Sometimes, being gluten free is not onerous.  Such as when I discovered these Blueberry Millet Muffins.  I used the last of the 2013 blueberries, the last two of my own eggs, my own raw milk yogurt and my new favorite grain: millet.  Or birdseed, as my neighbor pointed out.

These were the leftover batter muffins - it made about a dozen and a half, but these are large - and a chance to use an impulse purchase (fancy paper muffin cups).  For the rest, I used my can't-live-without silicone muffin cups.  I love them - easy to use, easy to clean, nothing heads to the landfill.

You can find the recipe here.   I used frozen blueberries, so my muffins have a lovely, sort of indigo undertone.  And indigo is my favorite color - next to any shade of green.  At first I thought having the raw millet interspersed in the muffin would be ... odd.  But I found that they lend a nice, satisfying, toothsome crunch.  (I love that word - toothsome - something that Pepper can only dream about.  I would think that "gumsome" would be more appropriate in his case.)


Yesterday I spent driving my parents around.  My mother had her eye treatment for macular degeneration in the city, so we have a tradition (my family is BIG on traditions) of going to eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant, ordering the same thing for lunch each time, then off to the medical center we go.  Unfortunately, we are always WAY early.  This means the wait is longer than the usual long wait.  There is nothing that tries the patience (of me) more than to sit for over an hour with two people who look at their watches and comment about the wait every five seconds.  I brought knitting to create some Zen vibes for me.  Speaking of which, I have now completed all of the small-fry knitting with the exception of some embroidery work on the bonnet.  I will take a pic of what I have not already mailed.  And I am hoping that the recipients will turn a kind eye on the imperfections (....Wes....xoxo).


I also squeezed in a much-needed haircut before picking up my parents.  And listened to the horrific account of her battle with a psycho husband over custody of their sons.  Good, goD.  The man is pure evil.  It made me appreciate even more, coming home to my dogs and cats.  At least there is no evil involved there, just the occasional cause-me-to-lose-my-mind thing.  Which, lately, has Pepper's little paw mark on it.

A few minutes after I got home (dark at 5:15), I got a call about joining friends at a book signing/reading in a nearby town.  Had I not been gone all day, I would have considered it, but I will not leave the dogs alone that long.  Plus, it was not an author who would make me consider an exception, as I find him to be one of those whiny types.  I almost reconsidered when I learned that he was bringing his dog, however.  You can see where my priorities lie.


The weekend holds a crummy weather forecast, lots of outside chores (funny how the two seem to always go together...), dinner with my parents at their favorite restaurant, a long over-due Girls' Night get together (I'm bringing Pink Lemonade Vodka Jello Shots - I'm bad...), a hay delivery (hallelujah - let's hope it happens), and I finally tackle the beets.  Speaking of which - do any of you have suggestions on how to tackle a vole problem?  I have tried a few things, to no avail.  I am considering poisoning the buggers, but am leery about poison in the garden, even though it will be used sparingly and in tunnels, and a full six months before planting season.  I figure there is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there....