Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blessed Luckier Fortunate

A couple of days before Thanksgiving I was writing out a short list of things we would need, cat litter for the grand kittens, French fried onions, pecans, Welch’s sparkling grape juice, things that are not normally on my shopping list.

I went on the computer to check the time DMV was open as I was combining a run into town between grocery shopping and getting #2 son his driver’s license.  When I sat down at the computer my facebook page was up and this is a post from a friend of mine.

Seeing as I was going shopping for Thanksgiving, a day of giving thanks for all we have, it did make me pause. 

People say they are rich in family, friends, land or even spiritually.  But how many of us would stop and consider ourselves part of the healthiest, wealthiest and wise?  I was sitting there writing out a shopping list for cat litter of all things and not even thinking  that there are those that could not afford to feed themselves  on a daily basis yet along a pet…or be able to write out a list. I am thinking of the china and silver, thankful that my four children will all be under my roof, but not grasping the enormity of how thankful I should be because I take so much of my life for granted.  The fact that I can worry about the mundane  things because the larger stuff is already taken care of is probably the largest.

So this Thanksgiving I didn’t sweat the small stuff.  If the food all got done on time great and if it didn’t we could yet it the next day. If  we didn’t eat at the designated time and you are whining, than eat a cracker and wait like everyone else.  The rolls got a little too dark on the bottom? I don’t want to hear it, cut the bottom off. Ironically  it was the most relaxed day.  By not sweating the small stuff which sometimes made it more of a chore than a privilege,  I was able to appreciate all the rest.

So I printed that little sign out and hung it beside the computer to remind myself.  In the long run the leaves still in the gutter, headache I have medicine for or the garden which still needs to be completely cleaned up will not matter so I shouldn’t stress. Que Sera Sera  I should pay attention to the bigger words in that  big picture “blessed, luckier and fortunate”. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Good Thing?

Is there ever too much of a good thing?  

William Shakespeare asked "Can one desire too much of a good thing?" (Act IV, Scene I of As You Like It) and later Mae West answered “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”

In this instance I am going to discuss Pinterest.  My daughter got me started on Pinterest way before it became the mega bulletin board that it has now become.   I am not sure if I should thank her or disinherit her!

For those of you who knit or crochet and remember your first introduction to Ravelry….Pinterest is the same.  It is a huge time suck.  With Ravelry it was a place to organize your fo’s, your books and yarn, a place to view a multitude of patterns done in different colors and yarns.  There were hours spent queuing future projects.  Pinterest is the same but instead of queuing knitting/crocheting projects you are queuing home projects, recipes, craft projects, gardening projects, planning your kids birthday parties until they are 18, planning weddings, baby showers, menu’s for every holiday ever thought of, hairstyles, a gazillion ways to paint your nails or put on your makeup, and a use for every item you had destined for the trash/recycling bin.  You pin and pin and pin and smack yourself in the head continuously saying “why didn’t I think of that?”

I use to make my own laundry soap…now I make my own stain remover, fabric softener and glass cleaner for pennies.  Pinterest taught me to make my own salami,  vanilla extract, orange extract, lemon extract, clean my stove burners to almost new with ammonia after the marathon summer of canning and made scoops from milk jugs.

In canning it gave me Spiced pear cardamom butter, homemade chocolate syrup, steak sauce, most of the lemonade concentrates I made and showed me that a Parmesan cheese lid fits on canning jars.

In the garden it showed me how to use cinnamon as a substitute for rooting hormone, easier ways to do things and gardens to drool over and strive for.

My fiber arts board is future projects, a library of stitches, yarn related tattoo’s, humorous signs and bumper stickers.

Grandkid ideas...(there is another on the way, due in April!!!!!)…is a mass of things I wish I would have known to do with my kids, like wrapping up Christmas books for the month of December.  Each night they get to open a “present” and that book is read to them or they get to read it.  On this board there are also plans for a picnic table, playhouse, sandbox with a lid that turns into bench seats and kitchens made out of old tv cabinets.  This is also were I  learned to limit my buying for grandson.  I found a rule that states to buy…one want, one need, one wear and one read which I intend to follow for Baby O and subsequent grandchildren.  As much as I want to spoil the hell out of him I need to remember I am the grandparent and not the parent.

My “I am hungry” board makes the man very happy.  Last weekend we made pumpkin pancakes, 

pumpkin snickerdoodles, and pumpkin whoopee pies. 

Candy canes have been tossed in the food processor and now get sprinkled on cups of coffee and cocoa. 

Today found me slicing and dicing to put a Winter's Solstice drink a brewing…brandy, oranges, vanilla beans, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns.  

Also brewing is candy cane vodka.  

Next up is Apple Pie Moonshine.  I don’t drink except for a wine cooler or two during the summer and some spiked eggnog at Christmas so most of this will end up as Christmas presents but I am looking forward to taste testing!

Pinterest has been called the virtual hoarders paradise and it probably makes hoarders out of people.  You know as soon as you toss something that Pinterest will show you a use for it!

But this all leads back to “too much of a good thing”.  I spend my weekends making things I normally would not make  foodwise but found great new recipes.

Economically it is a boon for those unemployed.  With less money and too much time on their hands there are millions of ideas for gifts and home projects on the cheap.  The reduce/reuse/recycle boards are amazing, the ingenuity astounding!

So why am I wondering if it is too much?  I only have 23 bulletin boards.  #1 daughter has 95 boards, 9418 pins and 1,162,498 people that follow her boards.  I guess I wonder if the time suck pays in the long run.  Do I really need to make these things?  Does the money I save balance out with the time lost or is Pinterest a huge advertisement making me see something and want to make/produce/try it/buy it?

I guess I will try to figure it out while I am making snowman face ornaments from old canning lids, knit little gnome santa ornaments, making gift baskets and getting snookered  on the homemade booze!

Oh look a ton of ideas for old pallets …must go look…I might want to make something else I do/don’t need.

Friday, November 09, 2012

November grew wings

"Cornstalks from last summer's garden now lean toward the kitchen window, and the November wind goes through them in a shudder.  Their thin tassels spread out beseeching fingers, and their long bleached blades flutter like ragged clothing." ~ Rachel Peden

Taking down those cornstalks is still on the  “to do list”.  Time is passing to quickly to get everything done.  The fact that Thanks giving is only two weeks away is astounding.  It will be a busy two weeks for sure but the weather is expected to get better which should help.  #2 daughter is jaunting off to Florida with her senior class so will be of no help for most of time….#2 son better step up and do more than eat to help out.

The chickens I purchased in the spring have started laying so I am enjoying the bounty.  The ducks even started laying again.  Thankfully there will be enough for all the holiday baking and eggnog.

 The Christmas cactus seems to be in line with the stores and is trying to rush the holidays…

My body is finally adjusted to the time change.  I appreciate the extra light in the morning while doing chores even while not liking the early evenings.  The ice on the water buckets outside the barn keeps getting thicker with each passing day.  The snow that made matters worse for the hardest hit areas of Sandy missed us entirely.  But it will only be a matter of time before the white  stuff pays us a visit.  I hope it is not a hard winter since there are almost no berries left on the barberry for the birds.  The acorns, while numerous, all fell during the storm and if we get snow with ice it will be hard for the deer to get to them.  I have held off feeding the birds for fear of the bear but they are flying into the barn and raiding the chickens bulk feeder during the day.

Inside the house I have knit a Thomas the Tank hat for a friend’s grandson and I have been spinning.  I got hooked on a book so fiber arts took a back seat until I finish it. 

And canning will be put away until after the holidays.  I just finished 9 pints of steak sauce and all the paraphernalia will go down into the basement and out of site.

For my own reference I will add this years list

Product                  Quart     Pint         ½ pint     ¼ pint
Rhubarb Jam                        7              3
Apple Jam                              5              4
Onion Relish                         1              5
Mustard Butter                     7
Brown Mustard                     10
Apple Jelly                             19            5
Mango/Peach                       2              3
Strawberry Jam                    5
Mixed fruit Jam                    5
Apple/Currant Jelly              4
Taco Soup                      7      14
Chicken stock                        28            1
Kidney Beans                        11    17
Onion Soup                           11
Steak Sauce                           17            3
Chocolate Syrup                    5              5
Apple Pie Filling           19
Lemon Concentrate              14            4
Wine Jelly                              1              4
Sweet Tea Jelly                      5              1
Lemonade Concent.     1      9
Straw/Lemon Concent.        6
Black Beans                           12
Lard                               8      3
Blackberry Jelly                    29            4
Blkby/Lem Concent.             8
Rhubarb Pie Filling     15    1
Bottled Hell                           8              6              1
Green Beans                  15    50
Pickled Beets                         6
Salsa                               13    30
Cowboy Candy              2      15
Elderbry/Blkbry Jelly           2              1
Elderberry Jelly                     4              2
Tomatoes                       51    7
Mango Jam                           1              6
Carrots                           4      24
Blk Cherry Pie                1      4
Straw/Kiwi Jam                    2              5
Mushroom Soup                    12            1
Mango Chutney                    7              2
Grape Jelly                             2              3
Grape Juice                    11
Vege Mix                         19    2
Grape/Elderbry Jelly                            2              2
BBQ Sauce                             8
Tomato Soup                         11
Cuke Relish                            7
Pear Jam                                               6              2
Jalapeno Pickle Relish        2              3
V8                                    10    2
Carrot Cake Jam                   2              4
Pears                               1                      1
Maple Syrup                   7
Pepper Jelly                            4              5
Pinto beans                   7
Pinto W/ jalapeno        3
Red Raspbry Jam                  5              8              2
Banana Butter                                     8     
Green Tomato Relish            12
Pumpkin Butter                    7              6
Sumr Squash                         7      9
Grn Tomato slices         5
Butternut squash          5
Sauerkraut                    12    6
Baked beans                          19
Chili Sauce                            6              1
Chix dipping sauce      1      5              2
Swt Potatoes                  14
Apple Butter                          6              4
Cardamon Pear Butter        3              11            2
Salted Caramel
Pear/Apple Butter                 4              3

Along with all the frozen broccoli, corn, zucchini, rhubarb, and apples

I tried a lot of new things this year.  The kids love all the different lemonade concentrates and they are so easy to make.   I am trying to can the mundane everyday things like mustard, bbq sauce…just need to find a good ketchup recipe.  The convenience of buying dried beans and canning them is great and I will continue to do so.  I would have liked to have canned potatoes like I did last year because they came in handy in a rush situation…maybe after the holidays.

For now I best get moving as the kids will be home in less than two hours. I can't let them find me sitting idlely by after I tell them how hard I work!

Saturday, November 03, 2012


“The thing that a lot of people cannot comprehend is that Mother Nature doesn’t have a bullet with your name on it, she has millions of bullets inscribed with “to whom it may concern” ~ Unknown

Given the enormity of Hurricane Sandy it is unbelievable that we got off with just a scratch but we did.  We have been extremely lucky.  The view from my window’s  has changed a little as some trees went down but we had no flooding and the electric was off for less than 36 hours.  All around us people suffered far worse but again nothing compared to Jersey.

School was closed for the whole week while community after community slowly got electric restored and roads were made accessible.  Our school district encompasses 300+ square miles so I am sure Monday will still dawn without everyone having power but the power company has been spot on when it gave times for repair.

“Man masters nature not by force but by understanding.  This is why science has succeeded where magic failed, because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature” ~ Jacob Bronowski

I don’t believe man has mastered nature or this disaster would never have happened.  And understanding?  I don’t understand it, the amount of damage is mind boggling.  I do think that science was able to predict the hurricanes path far enough in advance so people were somewhat prepared for it and that doing so saved many lives.  Now if only there were a magic spell to cast to help those devastated by this force.