Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hello there. It's me, Lovey. Virtually.

The Boss (so she thinks) is asleep.  Finally.  All this lights on, lights off stuff is wearing on my last nerve.  I keep trying to tell her - it's simple.  Fleece blankets, couch, sleep.  I've been curious about this blog stuff, so I thought I would attempt a mind-meld with her laptop.  OMG, what an antiquated piece of junk!  I'd mind-meld with her and let her know that she needs an upgrade, but I'd rather she spend all her money on our food and treats.

You won't be hearing from the Pat.  There is no way that small cranium can mind-meld with anything more complicated than a squeaky toy.  Too much chaos and noise.  He's not a bad brother, given the hot mess that he is, but he is entirely too twitchy for any serious concentration.  Speaking of concentration, no one could concentrate like my late brother, Scrappy.  He transferred his will upon the Boss, constantly.  She was putty in his paws.  There will never be another brother like Scrappy,  but the Pat isn't bad in a pinch.  He is awfully warm.

I'm not sure what the Boss has been saying about me/us, as, although I can mind-meld with computers, I can't read.  And telling me about it won't work either.  When I listen to Boss-ese, all I hear is "blah, blah, blah, blah, treat, blah, blah, blah, food, blah, blah, blah, outside."  You get the picture.  Where was I?  Ohfernatsake, I'm starting to turn into the Boss!  I go into another room to get a toy and totally forget why I'm there.  So, I have to sit, scratch and think about it.  That sends  the Boss into conniptions and she drags out that flea comb!  Doesn't she realize that is how dogs gather their thoughts?  We sit and have a nice scratch.

I better make this short - I can hear tossing and turning in the other room - the one with the really comfortable bed and closed door.  If she really loved us, we would be in there, on that bed and under that down comforter.  Instead, we are abandoned to our fate on the sofa, under six fleece blankets.  It is so unfair.  We should be hand-fed treats every fifteen minutes, just to make up the difference.

Before I un-meld from this dinosaur, let me add that it is NEVER, my idea to appear in clothing.  N.E.V.E.R.  The Pat has an advantage of being eel-like and able to squirm out of his sweaters.  I cannot.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that Grandma says I look like a loaf of bread.  Nothing whatsoever. 

Good night.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The time, it flyeth!

It's all a blur.  I owe a ton of thanks to my dearies out there who kept me perked up and feeling mightily blessed over the holiday (as they do throughout the year).  I will do a separate post on the particulars.

Let's see.  After the insomniac bear, I thought I should be proactive so that I wouldn't keep losing sleep (imagining him/her discovering the quail and ...) so I rigged up a very high-tech first-line bear defense system (FLBDS, or flubeds).  Voila!
Night vision version

Day vision version
It also had the added benefit of keeping the hoards of mourning doves off my feeder.  For a day.

Then it was time for Christmas!  I think I must have baked over 20 dozen cookies this year.  And they are all gone.  Some to family, some to friends.   A big box went to my postman, as he is retiring this year.  Darn. 

In my ongoing battle to keep waste at bay, I had to come up with some creative ways to wrap gifts.  This was for Marianne - three types of cookies (in cellophane bags), cowboy candy and spiced plum jam, plus a little something I picked up for her at the NH art fest.
Before 'wrapping'

After 'wrapping'
I had been given this vintage Mirro cake carrier and, since I am not a cake-baker and can't eat them anyway, it had been collecting dust on top of my cupboards.  I brought it down, washed it thoroughly, and bobsyeruncle!  The bow was collected from an old wreath.  I was quite pleased at how it turned out.

I did not finish the sparkly mitts that I was knitting for the young woman who cuts my hair, but they will be finished before my next appointment in January.
It's hellish, knitting dark yarn.
Luckily, I did finish the wrist warmers for Con and leg warmers for Cynthia, and socks for my auntie.  Speaking of socks, as is my tradition, I cast on my Christmas Eve socks.  And socks for Connie and socks for Cynthia's boyfriend.  I am so glad I am sticking to me "do less" goal for 2019.
Project bag line-up for morning knitting.  I need
an intervention...
The Saturday before Christmas, I dropped Marianne's gift off, then picked up the sandwich platter for the mechanics' lunch (another tradition) and, while I was there, mentioned my brakes were a bit spongey, could they adjust it?  They did.  And they found a broken stabilizer bar.  Well, of course they did.  However, they fixed it and didn't charge me.  I have visions of a newish, non SUV car dancing in my head, right along with the sugarplum fairies.

I made it home in time to whip up a batch of red lentil hummus (yummmeh!) and had a friend in for a glass or two of wine.  Then I fell into bed, was up bright and early on Sunday and cleaned the house.  My sister, Con, came to spend the day and night, as our youngest sister had come up to spell her for Christmas.  A good time was had by all.  Especially the dogs, who LOVE their Auntie.  I was very happy to have her company, as it was the second anniversary of the loss of my heart dog, Scrappy.  She made the day much more bearable.

Lovey giving in to all the Auntie
She came up with a fun way to break both of us out of our To Do List slump - the job jar!  We are going to fill a jar with jobs and choose one a week.  We must complete it in one week.  I think it will be a way better method of tackling my to-dos, as I tend to get mind freeze when I look at my three page, single-spaced list.  When she left Sunday morning, I was so energized, I cleaned my toaster until it shone.  I refuse to tell you how long it's been since its last cleaning...
I got a half-loaf of charbroiled crumbs
out of this baby.  And two twisty ties.
Monday was a slow day, relatively speaking, and I fixed the molded fruit salad for Christmas dinner and baked myself (and the barn guys) a gluten free apple cranberry cake.  It was delicious! 
After going through quality control.
I brought my youngest sister back with me on Christmas and she spent the night.  I took her into the city so she could catch her bus home, then I went to the office to rest....

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  It's alarming how fast this year came to an end!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Antifreeze of the Gods (and Goddesses) and Hibernation, Smibernation.

Another whizbang weekend.  Saturday was the usual shenanigans - as in, I went back to the mechanic because of a 'faulty sensor' (my diagnosis) and, when the garage owner came out from the bay looking a bit green around the gills, I speed-dialed my sister to pick me up.  Sigh.  Apparently, what I had self-diagnosed as a faulty sensor was my car's attempt at telling me my brake lines were leaking and I was headed for Flatsville.  As in brake pedal to the floor.  I suppose I should delete "auto mechanic" from my resume.  While I didn't actually cry when he told me that all my brake lines needed to be replaced and it would take 5-6 hours, I swear someone was slicing onions nearby.

Off with my sister to make our annual gingerbread men.  A mere three and a half hours later, my mechanic was on the phone - they decided to make their own lines and he put three guys on the job.  When I braced myself for the bill, he had knocked off 50% because I have spent so much on my car.  I almost kissed him.  In fact, I think I did.

I had invited a friend for dinner and had thought myself so clever and organized, planning a nice pot roast in the slow cooker function on my Instant Pot while I would be gone most of the day.  When I lifted the lid...the potatoes were hard and the meat tough.  Gasp.  I had put it on low, instead of high, and she was arriving in an hour!  Much pacing about and wringing of hands - until a dim bulb illuminated the one working cell in my brain and I realized there was a pressure cooking function!  Thirty minutes under low pressure and it was perfect.  Huzzah!  I think I kissed my Instant Pot, too.  Or, maybe it was Lovey.  The holidays bring out the romantic in me.

That was Saturday.

Sunday arrived with grey clouds (the norm) and icy rain, sleet, snow, rinse, wash, repeat.  Since it was a perfect day for indoor work, did I clean the house?  No, I did not.  I baked three kinds of cookies, blueberry gingerbread, GF oat bagels, and made another meal in my Instant Pot - Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  It was touted as the BEST chicken and rice.  It wasn't.  I also started a batch of Jun tea* and made a holiday family favorite - Swedish Glog (imagine the umlaut over the o).
Antifreeze of the Gods/Goddesses!
I am not lying when I say that this concoction - drunk hot - will start with the bottom of your feet and warm you right through your cockles and up to the top of your head.  A couple of times!  It's basically spiced wine and bourbon with caramelized sugar.  The two small jars in the pic are the blanched almonds and raisins that were brewed with it.  According to (our) custom, you place a few of each in the bottom of your cup.  This stuff is potent!

I also finished some gift knitting and ripped out another, but knitty stuff will be in another post.

Springing out of bed this morning, I was determined not to let the endless darkness slow me down and decided to get outside to do chores as soon as I could see where I was going.  Turns out, I must have just missed a 'visitor', who took down one of my bird feeders.
My boot print below.
Yes, a smallish bear had come browsing through the back.  He/she meandered around and ripped the bottom off one of the hanging feeders.  I know it's been almost balmy - Sunday and Monday were in the high 30s - but the temperature had dropped precipitously overnight and this morning's temp was in the low teens.  What about this hibernation business?!?  I am going to have to bring all the feeders in every night until I get a solar-powered motion detection spot light installed.  Brother.

Also coming this week is a peek at a care package that arrived Friday and put me over the moon.  It lifted my spirits and put the ho-ho back in my holiday.  I'll also try to remember to photograph my cookie packages as I put them together.  I've tried a few new recipes this year and most of them are keepers!

*Jun tea is like kombucha, but you make it with green tea and honey, as opposed to black tea and sugar, and it has it's own special SCOBY.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mahem, pretty much as expected.

I was diligent last week, making cookie dough on allotted nights, so that I could spring into action Friday night and have everything set by Saturday morning.  Too bad I can't live totally in my mind, that place where everything goes so swimmingly.  The reality was a bit different.  *cough*  By Friday night I am toasted.  Every fiber of my being wants to vege out with a glass of wine, nachos and the dogs (and cat).  Having set myself a lofty goal in the opposite direction of 'vege', every fiber in my body revolted.  Well, at least every fiber in my brain.  I had put the Molasses Crinkles and Oatmeal cookie doughs to gradually creep towards room temperature in the guest room cum root cellar that morning and, not surprisingly, they were 'solid'.

*A little aside here - the Winter room temperature inside the estate house of the LLF, is a balmy 58 degrees Farenheit.  I am also notorious for using as little light as possible.  I don't know why and I am sure it is safer not to dive into that particular pool.*

After a brisk round of chores and bribing the dogs with duck jerky to leave me alone in the kitchen for a nanosecond, I preheated the oven, pulled up my BGPs, poured a glass of wine, put Christmas carols on the CD player, plugged in my fairy lights, rolled up my sleeves, put on my apron - and was exhausted.  Carrying on bravely (after all, this was for MARIANNE), I carved out the dough balls and baked the molasses cookies.  After vaguely sensing they might be more done than I could see (see aside above), I pulled them out just shy of overdone.  Next, the oatmeal cookies went in, to be frosted in the morning.  When those were done, the mixer bowl was washed and the coup d'gras, the Soft Pfefferneuse dough was mixed.  These are like a spicy, fruit cakey, moist dollop of deliciousness.  However, after mixing in the raisins, currants, golden raisins, chopped pecans, and candied lemon and orange peel, something seemed 'off'.  Hmmm.  I checked the containers for the candied peel, as I knew they had been lounging in the cupboard for a while.  I didn't see any expiration date (I again direct you to the aside).  As I walked the containers to the recycling bin, I caught sight of some very tiny printing on the outside rim of the lid.  Glasses donned, I read:  Best used by July 2011.  WTH?  Really?
Is that Mom I hear in the kitchen,
using bad language?
I sat down and contemplated my options.  It was now almost 10PM, which is past my bedtime and I did not have the ingredients for a second batch, anyway.  I decided to try some of the candied fruit, write my last will and testament (just in case) and leave the container lid on the counter, in case evidence was needed.  Or....I would live through the night and briefly contemplate actually baking and serving innocent people these expensive duds.  The good news was that I suffered no ill effects and decided not to experiment on the innocent citizens of Marianne's home town.  I made sugar cookies instead.
Some of the leftovers for
my neighbor - sprinkle sugar cookies
and frosted oatmeal.
I dropped off my cookies after my haircut and visit with my parents, but did not get to stay for the main event - which went without  a hitch and was a community hit.  There was the official tree lighting in the town square, followed by a school band playing carols, with a sing-along, followed by the arrival of Santa on an antique sleigh, pulled by a tractor - and then the whole kit and caboodle paraded after Santa to a local restaurant for cookies and hot chocolate.  It even snowed.  I have vowed to go next year.

Sunday arrived with .... hold onto your socks .... SUN!  Of course, it was brutally cold, but SUN.
SUN on icy trees.
I made another batch of sugar cookies for the barn, fed the farm cats and then mixed up some dog treats.  I got so tired of tripping over Lovey, that I lured them away with marrow bones (what would I do without them???)  I got a lot of little jobs done - none of them on The List, of course - and then binge-watched a BBC program on Wartime Farm.  It was a quite satisfying evening.
If you bigify, you can see all the bird feeding
stations - deck feeder, large hanging feeder, smaller
hanging feeder, two suet holders and a
thistle feeder.  We're covered.
I'll leave you with some lovely things and some chicken videos.
My lovely surprise card from

Fritz, in all his frizzle glory.

Morning coffee catch-up

Big Red
P.S.  Llamas and sheep love Pfefferneuse cookies, dodgy peel or not.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Who knew and randomness.

In all of my adult life, I have never tackled a pomegranate.  I have coveted them - but was secretly terrified of their uniqueness.  Star fruit?  No problem - you just slice it into neato little star shapes.  I have purchased pomegranates every winter.  And used them as part of a center piece.  It is pathetic.

Well, no more.
Virgin arils!
This winter started as all the rest - the lure of the deep red orbs was too tantalizing to pass by, and I bought three of them.  And they sat, as always, in my green glass bowl.  As I noticed that the top of one was turning brown, the guilt overcame me and I pulled up my well-worn BGPs (the elastic is starting to show the strain of too many energetic pulling-ups) and turned to my source of all things I need to learn - YouTube.  While it was not difficult, it was tedious and time-consuming and I have a new and healthy respect for the pricing of pomegranate juice.  And, something more - I love them, these brilliant arils!  I have put them on everything and I still have two more to open.  Geezlouise.


Under the category of, "If I Ruled", there is nothing that fries my grits faster than supposedly, 'green' products that have outrageously non-green packaging.  Case in point:
Spare me...
I am drinking a cup of turmeric-ginger tea every day to help with stiff joints.  I cannot take turmeric capsules, as they rip through my system in a very unpleasant way, but the tea does not and does very much make a difference.  I had run out of my favorite so took advantage of doing some shopping at a reasonably local natural grocery co-op.  Although this tea was on the precious side - precious name, precious box, precious description, it was touted as all natural, best thing ever, yada yada.  I paid twice as much as I usually do (the price was precious, too), but felt rather virtuous with my ultra-precious "Green" purchase.  Then I opened the box.  WTH.  Giant PLASTIC wrappings on every, single, precious tea bag.  If it hadn't been such a schlep to go back (think carbon footprint - I was cornered), I would have returned them.  Now, every time I want a cup of tea, I steam right along with my kettle.  Avoid this brand at all costs!  If I Ruled, there would be mandatory packaging information on every box, bag, crate, or can.  Not only would all ingredients have to be listed, but a detailed inventory of the inner packaging.  In this case, it would read:  Outrageously unnecessary large, PLASTIC, wrapping on Every.Single.Precious.Bag.  It's as bad as Amazon, sending non-reuseable plastic bubble bags, ten times larger than is necessary for its contents.  Don't get me started.  Oops.  Too late.


Tonight the cookie-making commences.  There are two cookies that can be mixed up ahead of baking by a few days.  I am taking advantage of that opportunity.  If I can stick to my schedule (oh, hahahahahahahahaha, I kill me!) I should be able to arrive in the late afternoon on Saturday with six or seven dozen perfect cookies on trays.  Snort.  We all know what the reality will be - a hot mess on trays, along with the baker.  I hope they are spiking the punch.


On a happier note, I received a little ray of sunshine in my mailbox this weekend.  A very lovely woman who reads my blog, sent the loveliest card!  She said it reminded her of me.  What a wonderful compliment.  There was no return address, so I can't respond in writing with my thanks - if you'd care to email me, I would love to thank you, virtually, in person.