Monday, April 23, 2012

Noah's Lark

I've got a friend who has a really cool son, Noah. He's laid up for a bit and could use a laugh. These are random things that have made me smile or laugh. Yes, they are probably copyrighted. No, I'm not looking to make any money or get famous. I just want a teenager to have a better day.

So Noah, here's hoping these give you a chuckle or two. Or at least a smile. Oh, and ask your mom to check her email. I sent a little known passage, as well. My daughter and I have long laughed over and quoted "The Lamentations of the father."

 Get it? Hu's on first?

When things are weighing heavy on you, remember that you've got friends! Some you haven't even met yet. :-)

And here is a fun clip...

Tim Conway and Harvey Korman - "Dentist"

Oh, and here's a joke:

Did you hear about the kid whose mother told him to put on a clean pair of socks every day?
By the end of the week, he couldn't fit his shoes on.
(CouldN"T. I never could tell a joke.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Real Smooth

This is for Mindie and Shannon...

For Mindie: Here's what I've been putting into my smoothie lately - one half a frozen banana, about an eighth cup of frozen spinach, some mixed fruit (mango, peach, pineapple, strawberry), frozen blueberries, Greek yogurt, raw goat milk, a dash of vanilla, a pinch of stevia, and a tablespoon of Power Food (Organic or wildcrafted spirulina, chlorella, purple dulse, barley grass, wheat grass, spinach, rose hips, orange peel, lemon peel, nutritional yeast, beet root, dandelion leaf, papaya leaf, alfalfa leaf). Sometimes I add ground flax seed, sliced almonds, and/or brown rice (puffed or cooked). I find these make a satisfying breakfast that also sits well early in the day with my touchy system. I'd had the Power Food on hand but hadn't found a way to get it down pleasantly. Directions say to mix it in a glass of water. Did not enjoy it that way. As you might guess it has a very green flavor. But in the smoothie it works. So if you are looking for a vehicle to carry a supplement, the smoothie might work.

For Shannon, a report on the spinach cubes... they worked. Mostly. I blended until it seemed to be running smoothly but when I'd nearly finished my smoothie I found a marble-sized piece of frozen spinach. I think it may have been a fluke. But overall I'd say I had success.

Too bad the color isn't prettier. Something cheerful to match the flavor. But the Power Food pretty much mixes with the blueberries to turn the whole thing into a muddy-looking brew. But tasty? Oh, Yes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keeping Me In Stitches!

My quilt class, that is. I'm taking a paper-pieced mystery quilt class at Millcreek Sewing. Actually, I am and so is my daughter, my sister and my niece. Each month we do our "homework" - we cut the fabrics into quantities of pieces and in sizes as we have been instructed. Then at our next class they unveil the square we'll be working on that month, we start working on them there in class so that we can recieve any necessary instruction. And we get our cutting instructions for the next month.

So far we've completed two different designs for a total of 16 squares. I'm currently working on the third design of which there will be 8.

These are my three color families. The background is sunny yellow. One of the most fun things about the class is seeing all the different ways the same quilt pattern looks depending on the fabric choices.

Stephanie and I are both using the same three color family assortments. The difference is our background. Her's is very different from mine - a rich, coffee-brown batik.

The latest square is composed of 30 different pieces and is assembled in 4 different sections that are then put together into one block.

It's nice to have a sewing "class". I don't feel guilty when I take time to do my "homework" and it's great to spend some regular time in the sewing room. I also like that this class will walk us through making the blocks and then the last two classes will involve putting them together. That makes me hopeful that I won't end up with a large UFO. I hope to get pictures of everyone's finished tops and I'll share that here if I can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kitchen Ideas

I saw this picture on Pinterest and the idea intrigued me. Would I find it helpful? Is it really functional? I decided to try to do something similar. But I didn't want to spend a lot of money and I didn't want to commit to something that I might not find useful.

My solution? Removable Command hooks, freezer tape and a Sharpie. I was careful to align the hooks so that my tools wouldn't impede the closing of the door, hung everything up in an order that seemed to make sense and then labeled the masking tape strips.

It's actually worked out really well. I no longer have to dig through a container or fumble in a drawer to find what I need. And they are handy to my main baking/cooking area and the ingredients I measure with them. Another consideration I took into account when planning their location was to make sure it was a cupboard door that I could leave open while I did my mixing.

We'll call this "Useful Tip #1". It's one small change that has made kitchen work a bit easier for me.

"Useful Tip #2" has to do with my morning smoothies. I like to put spinach in my smoothies but hadn't yet found a good way to do it. To get the full nutritional benefit of spinach, it needs to be cooked. That meant that I couldn't just throw in a handful of fresh leaves or shake in some fresh frozen. My last batch was steamed and wrapped up in squares of waxed paper, then bagged. The problem was that the waxed paper in many instances had gotten folded into the spinach and frozen there. Every day I knew that I ended up with some extra fiber in my smoothie as the paper that was stuck in the spinach got mixed in. Then I had an idea... I need spinach in my smoothie. I need frozen things in my smoothie. What about spinach ice cubes?

I steamed the spinach as usual and then put it into ice cube trays. I added enough water to fill the trays. I popped them into the freezer and this evening, voila! Spinach cubes! Now this I cannot vouch for since I won't use them until tomorrow morning but I have a feeling this will do the trick.

If I have any more bright ideas, I'll try to remember to share them. What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks? I'd love to know.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Meet My Blur

This is Caleb. The picture is blurry. It's the best I could do. He never seems to stop moving.

I had been looking for a dog for some time now. In fact, let me back up. I had been anticipating looking for a dog friend for a long time. Probably two years or so. However, we were getting the house ready to sell, had the house on the market, were in temporary quarters, were moving cross-country... the reasons seemed endless.

Then finally we were in a position to think about a new dog friend for me. It had been more than three years since my beloved Cocker spaniel, Cole, had died. I thought I'd be ready. We'd met some dogs, had an opportunity or two that just didn't seem like a good fit. And I believe a part of me had given up on finding a canine buddy. I don't think I fully realized the extent of that until my niece, Valerie, went to look at a Cocker spaniel from Craigslist on her birthday. She had decided she'd like a smallish dog. But after driving to somewhere in Ohio and picking him up, they came to our house, instead. Val said that she thought perhaps he was meant for me, rather than her.

I'd like to say that it was love at first sight and I couldn't believe how wonderfully it all came together. That wasn't the case. Instead, I had an emotional wipeout. Big time. I didn't even know if I wanted to try to keep him. Val wasn't putting pressure on me. She said that if he wasn't the one, he'd have a loving home with them but thought I should give it a try and see. He smelled bad and so I bathed him. It became apparent that he wasn't house-trained. He was a complete nut job that first couple days. Still, those things weren't my real problem. I realized by the next day that I was keeping him a good arm's length from my heart. I didn't even WANT to like him. I think that I had gone from missing my Cole to putting up barriers to loving (and getting hurt by) another dog. I surprised myself when I realized this. And just realizing it wasn't enough to fix it. I had to make a decision to try to like him and then show him affection. I somewhat grudgingly began to give belly rubs, scratch his ears, and maybe hardest of all, talk to him. I think that I may have waited too long to love again. But brick by brick I tore the wall down. Actually, once I started moving the bricks away, he started to help me. Lots of tail wagging, sitting against me, adoring eyes.

Yes, I learned to love a dog again. It's not the same as with Cole. There will never be another Cole but there is a Caleb. We have a different but devoted relationship. He's pretty much housebroken now. There is the occasional rare accident when I didn't catch his signals to go out. (They are very subtle.) He's trained me how to give him love as soon as I open my eyes in the morning so that he knows it wasn't all a dream and he has a happy home. I know that he can only stand to be alone for so long before he needs serious belly rub therapy to get over his hysterical reaction to the fact that I actually came back. And this week he got into the car for a ride by himself. A real breakthrough. Though he still insists on sitting on the floor of the backseat, far away from scary windows. Unless there's room up front to sit next to me and lean hard into my arm. It may be a few years of maturing before I can trust him around the farm animals without terrorizing the poultry, taunting the pigs and attempting to create a cattle stampede. He's been to the vet for the full workup of neutering and vaccinations. I'm going to attempt grooming him myself this week. It should be interesting since my touch sends him into spasms of ecstasy that require summersaults and twirling. It may be a unique styling job but I'm game.

Yup. Me and Caleb. I think we are set to have a long and happy friendship.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

To get to the other side. Where the ladies were. You see, these hens were living the life of nuns. Seven of them in their little coop, laying an occasional egg, eating an occastional egg, and just hanging out. Apparently they were also making some noise.  Enough noise to get the attention of one lonely rooster. First he came around and got them all riled up. In fact, the chicken flew the coop. Quite literally. Then he tried to lead them off into the woods. I was having none of that. We repeatedly chased him away and the ladies back to their general vicinity. Eventually Kent came up with a better plan. He caught the rooser, clipped his wing and put him in the yard where we wanted the ladies to be. Over the next day or so we collected the hens as they came back to be around this handsome stranger, clipped their wings and put them back in their yard.

Then a couple days later a neighber we hadn't met stopped by. Turns out she was looking for her daughter's rooster. The handsome stranger turned out to be Bob Jr., who was living the bachelor life down the road. We fetched Bob and he was soon on his way back home. Just a couple of hours later we looked out the window to see that Bob was back in our yard. And by the time we'd finished dinner that evening, he's found his own way back into the fenced chicken yard and coop. That's one determined guy. So we took a walk down the road and let the nice neighbor know where he was and that they were welcome to fetch him any time but that we weren't going to spend time pitching him out just to have him let himself back in. In the end, the daughter came to visit and decided that "Jr." seemed so happy with the ladies here that he should just stay.

He keeps himself busy watching the ladies, keeping them safe and apparently very happy. In fact, today there were six eggs. We seem to be averaging five each day with just a rare occasional eaten egg. And I'm convinced the hens seem more content.

Bob Jr. is even a gentleman, letting the ladies get the first of the vegetable scraps before he helps himself to any.

 And I'm loving getting eggs again on a regular basis.

In fact, our remaining turkeys (2 toms, 2 hens) are now old to start laying. And we've had a couple of turkey eggs this week. Larger, naturally, than hen eggs and with a very slight difference in flavor that I don't believe can be noted without a side by side comparison.

The pigs have gotten quite large. We weren't sure how much they might weigh but a friend was by who has raised a lot of pigs and he felt pretty sure that the sow was about 300 lbs. They've gotten very tame and we scratch them every day when we feed them. I'm glad they seem very happy, since they are due to go to the butcher on the 23rd. I'll give them some extra belly rubs between now and then. It's been an overall positive experience raising them and I'm sure we'll do it again this fall. Now we just have to nail down buyers for 2 halves since we only intend to put one in our freezer. It's time for me to read up on making sausage and rendering lard.

Long Time, No See

This is my longest hiatus yet from blogging. Here it is, past Easter, and there's so much catching up to do that... well, I won't. This was the second year of Stephanie making our traditional Lambie cake. I think she did a terrific job! And those hyacinths are SOOOO wonderfully aromatic. Their heady fragrance fills the whole room.