Tuesday, December 31, 2013

today's funny.....

today's blast from the past funny post

and before i forget it

i wish you all a happy, healthy, magical, dream fore-filled new year
i wish you laughter, love, cheesecake, icecream and lots of interesting memories made
i wish you good books, good friends, and a good many sunny days

see you in the new year......

Monday, December 30, 2013

our new schedule.......

i am still getting used to it

today i cut up the ham for the freezer then made broth with the bone
i ground crumbs for breading pork chops....
and decided that since i have the peppers i am going to make sauce and then stuffed peppers for the freezer

i have to tell you..i am slowly getting used to the schedule......
the hardest part is me thinking ahead to stuff that is going to make a lot of noise and doing that either when bernie gets up or after he leaves at night.
today i realized that i can't run the food processor.....so when he left i did it
i realized that i can't run the vacuum sealer either so tomorrow i'll package the ham and run it after he leaves....
i'll put the breaded pork chops in containers in the freezer..... no noise with that

i think the eye infections made things worse though.... i ran out of eye drops on saturday, i had renewed them after the doctor on friday but the pharmacy was out until today------- so i went all of saturday, sunday and part of today without eye drops
when my eyes feel tired i get exhausted
and they are swollen and smudgy black and red again

ok that's about it.....sorry this is so late,

take good care

Sunday, December 29, 2013

painting update-- and sunday is our monday

here is what i've been working on- it's coming along, and i have to say, i am starting to enjoy it a bit...
although i had to stop for the night (today is actually saturday) as i got way too tired.
bernie is off tonight, so we were in the studio...he's working on a model, i'm painting
we are listening to some interesting holiday music on the hammered dulcimer, celtic harp, pan flute, and then some bach-- all instrumental .....
maybe that's why my paintings look like they do?
i also like andean music, (the flutes) a lot of baroque but mostly just the really happy lively stuff... some experimental stuff ( AIR) ........... actually for me this is huge progress because i couldn't listen to music for YEARS...... it hurt my ears...
now i can but only certain kinds.... and i have limited tolerance for rock ....even the stuff i loved growing up!
it just bothers my ears.

in other news....the seed catalogs have started to arrive........ Johnny's got here....... i love them, and i am waiting on Territorial (love them too) fedco, grow italian, high mowing seeds, southern seed exchange, and a few others..... it's almost time to start the early stuff!
some years i can't wait....i am dying for seed starting in november!
i am hoping that i can get a very productive garden again..... i missed it the last two years.

ok it's bed time for us now.... so this will post in the morning.....
have a good weekend everyone

Saturday, December 28, 2013

saturday is the new sunday...

or at least it is around here!
friday was bernie's saturday, he took me to the doctor for my eyes
the doctor said i am doing better- but i have to continue the drops for a few more weeks if not months
and it's slow
really slow
right now they are killing me, hot, tired....... and painful
a few hours sleep will help too
i renewed the drops but they won't have them at the pharmacy until monday i was told.... i hope i can hold out that long

i cleaned the woodstove while it was HOT....i had to, it had a 4'' coal bed in it and this stove hates a coal bed like that, it won't heat with that large a coal bed.......
so i left the door unlatched, and burnt down the coals... every 1/2 shifting out the hot coal from the ash and dumping the ash in the ash bucket.

we went to town, (this was today but when you read this...it will be yesterday)
we got a LOT of errands done, cat food, quail food, mailers for the prints of my work, hit a sale at the grocery and stocked the pantry on stuff we'd run down on.
i have to mail out some prints this week.....

now.....shhhhh don't tell bernie but i am probably getting another duck....a girl duck.... i need the eggs.....
this one is technically a grand duck of mine!
just what we need right?
but i'll be freezing duck eggs from her -it's not totally decided yet but it's most likely
now the only errands we didn't get done was the post office, and i forgot eggs...... all this poultry and i am buying eggs?????????? oye

this coming week i am hoping to start mailing stuff out..... i have a few things that were supposed to be mailed two months ago but then we had the test of the emergency preparedness system....
which means NON ESSENTIAL stuff.......stopped dead.

btw, i can recommend an occasional test of your emergency systems, prior to maybe having to deal with things like no electric for a week.....or no money coming in...
i did discover that i needed to put away gift cards to grocery and other stores, that don't expire and have no administration fees... so the art supply store and some grocery stores have cards like that..
i haven't looked into amazon or home depot or even the pet store but i think it's a good thing to do

ok i'm going to run now.....i may update this if i get time to paint
if not well you'll have to wait until YOUR sunday (which is our new monday)

take good care

Friday, December 27, 2013

pictures....of pictures! and more pictures (sorry about that)

detail of male quail
almost finished
okey then, here is some of what i've been working on......i have an eye infection so things have slowed down a bit- bernie's new job slowed me down as well, since he's working (for now) 7pm to 3 am..... 
and then of course.... our little quail visitors took some times up..... so in retaliation, i painted them.
meanwhile it's cold here....got more snow today too. i am trying to settle in to painting daily again.
i have some odds and ends to mail to folks, as soon as i can get it together, there are all sorts of odds and ends paperwork and phone calls i've also had to be doing. 

so with this post i figured i would show you some of the paintings as well as bernie's cookies (the recipe was the other day HERE) these are simple to just drop on the cookie tray as you can see.... i make the dough and then bernie can bake them when he wants them.

i also took a photo of bernie adding sugar to the tops of his cookies so you can see what they look like..it really is that simple....and the dough does get better after a few days in the fridge.
 here they are during the sugar part.... we use a rainbow mix now of decorator sugar, i love how festive these cookies look, and i love the almost sponge texture of them after baking. one of my friends baked them with anise and she said they liked them that way, which is something bernie and i were talking about doing with the next batch maybe.....i was also thinking of maybe lemon zest and lavender buds too for spring.
so there you have the cookies....and the paintings ......and what all is going on....i couldn't post the knitting (still working on vinelace in blue) as it got so long.....but still not finished, i am thinking it's going to be about 6' long when i'm done..... depending on how i block it out
ok folks.....til next time

Thursday, December 26, 2013

and the day after

i hope you all have had a wonderful holiday, filled with memories and happiness.

we had a very brief and quiet holiday, bernie works nights so he got up at 1:30 in the afternoon, i didn't wake him earlier.
we had a nice meal, the ham i got the other day, brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potatoes
then we had tea and pfeffernusse cookies.

he had to leave at 5:30 so really he only had time to bring in wood....and relax a bit after dinner

now since this posts in the morning, my day after is going to be errands, post office, feed store, pet food store.
friday i have another eye doctor appointment, plus then some food shopping.
i am trying to get a handle on this new routine, so i can get back to painting
the painting that is currently on the board is the quail!
bernie and i aren't sure the quail are eating.....we put food in their bowl, and i moved the bowl to the back of the pen where they've been hanging out
if i don't see them eating tomorrow we'll move them back to the crate.....they seemed to do fine in there... so if that's what they prefer, that is what they will get.

luigi the baby buck hasn't been around, and i saw a small button buck on the side of the road the other day.......it maybe was him.
it's sad but it's life.
let's see........ oh i am going to be doing a bunch of freezer meals with ham (this is a big ham!) and then broth from the bone for beans ...ham broth makes a good base not only for beans but i also mix it half and half with chicken and make all sorts of mixed soups with it....
a potato or potato and leek soup in a ham broth is very good

i keep ham broth either frozen or i can it (pressure can the clear broth at 10-15 depending on your elevation, for 90 minutes for the quarts)

i hope those of you up north here are staying warm, it was BITTER cold this morning.
bernie called me from the parking lot of his job to tell me he was warming up the car to leave and that it was really cold.
since he put the storm in the one window i can't do myself (in the studio-he has trouble with it too but he's taller) the studio is staying much warmer for a longer time. i was able to sleep til midnight ......stoke the stove then sleep until 4am
i didn't sleep well without him there but i did get some light sleep

and i am so thankful that this year we aren't getting bernie ready to go over the road for almost three months.....he's grateful too.
anyway i hope you all had wonderful holidays.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry christmas

i wish you all the brightest and happiest of holiday seasons

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

some humor from the archives

Saturday, February 12, 2005

How did a SHREW get in the attic?

We had a shrew in the attic, not like in Shakespeare's 'Taming of the Shrew' but a real live dead shrew..... sort of a mole like creature, which I thought lived underground or at least NEAR the ground. But no we found one in the attic.
ok well rather Bernie found one in the attic.
He brought it down and informed me ' I don't think it is a mouse' .........ya think?
no it wasn't a mouse.
and it stank................ badly........
(stunk? what ever is the verb for that....is it a verb? gees it is a long time since I had grammer and such)

We wrapped it in napkins and plastic bag for a coffin and unceromoniously dumped it in the garbage.
The Laperm's were VERY interested in the garbage after that but fortunately, lacking opposable thumbs so far have not figured out how to get into the kitchen covered can. ( say that three times fast...... with coffee in your mouth....go ahead......I DARE you hahaha don't blame me if you do however)

Ok that all leads up to the actual point of this story, ( and yes you smart ass I actually DO have a point)

The nice man with the last meal bucket will be coming today to help escort any other rodent beings that have entered our home in the two months prior to his visit, to the pearly gates of rodent heaven

Now before you send me hate mail about rodent right to life. Let me assure you that for 15 of the 19 years we have lived in this little stone house in the woods..... we have not bothered the uninvited mouse guests. Indeed we have unwittingly FED the little buggers, cat food, bird seed, cookies, bread, my good dress shoes........... candles........ you name it
I repeated would stand in different rooms and ask the mice to please vacate the premeses as we couldn't really all live happily ever after with dancing rodents........giving birth to 5 bazillion babies an hour...... I did not want a sign over our home with the quote........over '5 million mice sold' to paraphrase a famous yellow arch.
Needless to say the mice turned a deaf ear. Mice know a good deal when they land in it.

Ok so what changed my mind?

well you all know I make soap right? cp or cold processes soap.........
well now you do know
and so do the mice
I make great soap
Mice like soap
Mice EAT soap
that cuts into profits
and then the laperms started to catch the mice and kill them
in light of those two facts, plus we would have dizzy dancing mice in the kitchen when the laperms CAUGHT the mice but didn't finish the deed........
so the mice had to go
we made sure they have a wonderful last meal..... from the sounds of it..... it is mouse thanksgiving.
the attic is littered with mouse skeletons
and tiny mouse ghosts too I would imagine, but maybe not as they all seem to be very happy up there.
And today because of the shrew, the baits will be renewed.......
and more mice will go to the light
til next time
ps: please send all hate mail toidontgivearatsass@whatdoyoumean.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

before i forget......

first off i want to wish you all the very happiest of holiday seasons

then i want to tell you how to make one of my favorite cookies
(it makes a LOT..... either freeze half or use this as a holiday tray cookie)

i make the dough, and keep it in the fridge.....it keeps about a week in the fridge
it rarely lasts that long with bernie around

thoroughly cream 1 cup of sweet unsalted butter
use the high speed on the mixer
then add 8oz of cream cheese and thoroughly cream that with the butter
add 2 and 3/4 cups of white sugar... scrap down the sides of the bowl and keep that mixer going at high speed
add 4 duck eggs (or 5 jumbo chicken eggs) and beat that batter within an inch of it's life
add 1 tablespoon each of vanilla (remember when i told you how to make it?) and almond extract
and continue to beat it until it's fluffy and smooth and almost looks like frosting

meanwhile sift 5 and 1/2 cups of flour with 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons of baking SODA...... mix this all up very well you can add some salt....maybe 1/8 teaspoon

then stir it into the wet ingredients.... be careful not to over mix.... you can use the mixer on low/med
and stop often to scrap the sides down


chill for about an hour

drop by tablespoonfulls on a cookie sheet -
sprinkle some multi colored sanding sugar or sprinkles on the top
and bake between 10 and 14 mins at 350 degrees
until the edges are medium brown

let cool on the tray about 3 minutes then move them to a cooling rack

ok now the variations

you can add some ground cardamon to the dry ingredients
and or some lemon or orange zest
about a teaspoon measure
you can add chips to the finished dough (or part of the finished dough)
or nuts
or sprinkle chopped nuts on top
raisins soaked in liquid can be added to the dough before dropping on the cookie sheet
or cranraisins...... or sweetened dried cherries, or blueberries....crushed toffee.....

or bake without and then ice or glaze later
( i like lemon icing on these just FYI)

we do however make these all year round... they are not just for christmas.

now just a fast update on other stuff.....i have a layout on the board for a nest with quail....
we'll see how that goes
i have the quail in a better/larger/ more quail comfortable arrangement now in the basement, after doing research with google and also quail breeders here.. one got out and was flying around in the duck room but we got it back and they are both fine, nestled together in the alfalfa hay part of their new pen...they also have sand/oyster shell to dust themselves with, and i ground the pellets into crumble for them, and added some bird seed too..........
in knitting news i have about 40 inches of vine lace on that scarf i'm working on......it looks like i also have another 200 yards or so left of the skein so i am going to keep knitting.

bernie starts his new job tomorrow night..... he's met some of the guys when he brought his tool box up to the new shop.

ok i think you folks are all caught up....now tomorrow (this will post monday so for tuesday's post) i have a funny story...... i am liking reposting the archive stories that are funny..... i hope you folks are enjoying them too.
and again i can't say this enough, i wish you all the most wonderful of holiday seasons

Sunday, December 22, 2013

not all anniversaries are good ones

today while you read this, i will be remembering my mother
who died on this date, also on a sunday.
(she actually died sometime overnight......she went out with the solstice )
we buried her christmas eve.
my dad was a mess and so left me to make the arrangements
believe me it was a very very low point in my life

however, it does comfort me to think that my mom went home to spend the holidays with HER mom, dad, siblings, grands........... friends
all who'd crossed over prior to this.
and i realize that when it's my turn, i will be doing the same thing, ........going home.

i miss my mom in odd ways and at odd times.... i see her in dreams so that's not too bad then, but i miss talking to her
bernie used to laugh cause i would call her up and say 'i'm not speaking to YOU but......'
and then we'd talk for 2 hours of 'not speaking to each other'
i guess we had a complicated relationship.

mom put her foot down with dad on my side several times.... really important times
like art school......
dad said no way
mom let him have it.....and i got to go to art school, which is a very good thing cause you really wouldn't want me in an office type situation.......art departments are very different from normal offices (or they used to be)
and i think we can all agree that i would be wasted on any other job.....right?

she also put her foot down when my first car was totaled (by dad).......every penny i had saved was put into that car and there was nothing left....
mom made dad get me a car, and even forced him to get me a yellow one (the one i wanted) not the green one i hated

the last cogent thing mom said to me was......'promise me you'll take care of your father'
i did
so this time of the year is poignant for me, bittersweet with good and bad memories
christmas eve.....even after all this time is the day i buried my mother.
although i am going to try to remember that it is also the day my mom got to go home to her mom......

i am trying to think of something else uplifting to say to you folks who stop by to read me.....
because really, it's not so bad, after all these years, i am used to it
i don't think you get over it.....but i know you do get used to it
it's like a scar on your body.....it's there....most of the time you don't think about it too much, and the idea that the people that you love who are no longer with you, but have gone home..... that does really help a lot.

anyway......to my parents.....
have a wonderful holiday in heaven with all the family that has gone on before.....
save me a seat by the fire (and one for bernie too please) for when it's my time to come home
i hope that i have done you proud

love from bina (my family's name for me)
your youngest child

Saturday, December 21, 2013

PHOTO heavy this was our friday (and a letter to god)

our first thing this morning visitor
bernie walked out this morning to put the ducks out and discovered we had a visitor......in the duck pen,............and it was not a duck.
now if you remember the other day, we thought we had a loose flock of ruffed grouse...... and remember i have an eye infection in both my eyes.... (bernie is not good at identifying birds, or plants) so we've assumed that is what we had.......well yesterday (ahem...... i suppose it would be thursday for you then) we had pictures of two of these birds out on the driveway sunning themselves.... turns out...... not grouse at all but NORTHERN BOBWHITE QUAIL...girls

then this morning was just this one. ......... we found the bodies of two of the others out back in the duck pen, and from the looks of them it seemed to have been something pulled their heads through the chain link and broke their necks.... we didn't find the fourth body...... and we assumed the worst.
the colors don't show well here- they are brilliant
i am so happy to tell you that this afternoon the 'fourth body' showed up alive.......and these little birds are both now safely in the house in a warm safe crate with food and water. 
this bird in the picture saw the black grain pans that i use to feed the ducks and rushed over, hopped into it and started to eat...... 
AHHA.....i said to myself, ....THIS bird is domestically raised....... 
and i put the crate in the pen with sawdust and the little bird wisely ran into the crate
later in the afternoon the second one eventually did too...... 
so we have them now....
see how amazing the colors are?
   and it took me all damn day with a lot of help to find out WHAT these little birds are...... and they are girls it looks like, there was a boy but his body is out back. if they make it through to spring, i may think about getting them a boy and a pen

then when we went back out to bring in the ducks..... we surprised our newest son....luigi...... the button buck, (these are pictures from after we went in) i did explain to him that we weren't really his parents, and that he could eat now but had to learn to be wild......and that means don't get too attached or close to us....it's dangerous for him and for us.......

dear god, 
when i was talking about the partridge in the pear tree, or the duck in the apple tree, or the chicken in the whatever tree........
i kinda thought you KNEW i was kidding

however thank you for the two quail.........
as they are pretty little birds and as you know i will paint them

now about the baby buckling.......who apparently thinks we're mom and dad.......and wants to claim the duck room as his bedroom...........


i see you ignored the request for the 45 million lottery win....i can only assume that you think it would (ha............ yeah right but you will send me more mouths to feed) change me

love from your friend

Thursday, December 19, 2013

vanilla extract DIY

i've been trying to rest my eyes today.
i got the drops and so far today have used them twice
i cleaned the woodstove, added some plastic to a window that i thought had a storm in it but didn't
got the studio/main house door covered in hardware cloth (and ditched the window screening which wasn't letting heat through)
cut the cat's claws
did paper work and research

went out with the left over seed from when roland was alive, and fed that to the ruffed grouse and the winter birds
let me tell you.......
this resting my eyes is a lot of work

ok another thing i did was make vanilla extract today.
i had found some vanilla beans hanging around in my pantry from two years ago (all safely vacuum sealed) and i found a bottle of cheapo vodka i had bought at the same time.....since we don't drink it wasn't even opened!
i was being very lazy so i just opened the vodka, poured a bit of it out into the other mason jar full of vanilla extract, and put all the whole beans into the vodka bottle......
capped the bottle and shook it up good then put it back where i found it! in six months it'll be extract

now to do it right .......i should have chopped the beans up before putting them in there, and down the road i most likely will remove the beans and do that, before putting them back into the vodka.....
the bottle was i think what is called a 'fifth' and i think i put in 18 or 24 beans......
you should shake it daily, and i might remember to do that
really it IS simple.. and we use it for baking
i have some that's over 2 years old and it's wonderful. since i heavy up on the beans my extracts are a very very VERY dark color..... which is great, and we use normal measures (ok so we don't actually measure, it's more like..... hmmmm that looks like enough) i figure about a teaspoon for whatever we use it in.
it keeps forever if you leave it in the dark in the closet. and overall it's so much cheaper then the stuff you get in the store.
i found my beans on ebay
i don't quite remember what i got or how much i paid for them but there you go

oh and bernie asked met to tell you how to make a tortilla pizza, as he loves them
so maybe tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

more snow......and the reason i've been sort of not available

i've got a non contagious eye/eyelid infection (most likely due to getting poopy duck water in my eyes, and since i don't have eyelashes anymore..... )

i went to the eye doctor today....... i really like this doctor a lot
and he prescribed drops, which the pharmacy won't have until today-- which right now is actually tomorrow since i am writing this tuesday night for posting in the AM.

by some convoluted insurance thing, i have to wait until tomorrow for the meds.
meanwhile my eyes are killing me
i even laid down for 2 hours to rest them
without much success.... they HURT
they BURN
and they make me really really tired

we went to the doctor during the early part of today's snow storm- we almost didn't get up the hill to get home either...it was getting BAD, we just made it
it's cold too
good  thing i cleaned the woodstove yesterday

this morning i sort of crashed and when bernie went down, it was COLD in the house so tonight i have to make sure i'm up a few more times

needless to say i've not been up to much. and right now even, i am so ready to go to sleep i can't tell you
right now i really wish i had a lounge or something in the studio.... i could so just lay down and sleep for a while and still be close to the stove for adding wood
ok so tomorrow this will post

good morning

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

where in we talk about some odds and ends

HERE is today's funny post from the past (once a week on tuesdays normally ok?)
i've been thinking, while we test our 'emergency preparedness system'
besides not having enough milk for drinking, (we do have nonfat dry and some *not many* cans) 
we also don't have 'don't feel deprived' things

like that great sale on lightfast colored pencils we missed due to unexpected bills...
although i have a stash of yarn, and beads
and i have made double sure i have water color paper put by
i've been thinking, i need to stash gift cards to the art supply, yarn, grocery...... 
and not the cc/debit prepaid cards......cause they charge you a fee...and they charge the merchant a fee (that sure doesn't seem right to me......what do you think?)
but mostly STORE gift cards do not charge a fee nor do they expire....and most have either an e-card or free shipping on the gift card itself

i am so adding that to the list, along with dried whole milk, dried eggs, and a few other odds and ends
(and a LARGE cold frame-wired over to thwart the damn squirrels that ate most of my winter crops this year)

a fast pantry note, if you are working on a pantry, please let me know either by email (see the email me thingie up on the right?) or in comments,
cause if you need specific questions answered chances are good i either have the information or can direct you to were you can find the information.

these days, frugal is the new 'in' thing.....so is frugal green....both very good things. 
also buying local and from small companies.... to folks local to us (no matter where in the world you live)
we live very frugally here, for us at times it has been a necessity and at times it's been a choice, even when we didn't need to.... frugal has bad press but we decided that we could and should live a bit lighter on the earth......
and i want to pay that idea forward (so ask any questions on 'how to' )

ok this will post tomorrow morning
so good morning!
for me it's actually monday afternoon, and i am rooting around in the house looking for shells to paint

take good care

Monday, December 16, 2013

going to town *edited to add more shell photos

i think it's the first time i've been to town in like what? a month?

it's not a biggie, i just have to go to talk to someone about medical insurance and stuff.

ok now, in painting news, this is a bit of the props for the (i hope) latest painting, what you are looking at is a conch shell we've had for like 30 years, a slab of a tree, and some of my begonia that i cut and am rooting in water. it's against one of the gator boards i use to mount watercolor paper on while i am painting- i am wandering around looking for other stuff to put in there too..
so that is the start of the next painting i think..... i am really liking that shell's interior, and i like the pink of the begonia...

i WISH i had some other smaller flowering plants in that sort of pretty shell pink to put in there- but i don't
i would love a mini orchid, or african violet in full bloom, or if i could have.....a pink petunia (so very out of season no?)

we are having a test of our emergency storage system here...... and i found that we are lacking milk, and eggs..... ....and i really need to get a cold frame for the winter
i am going to threaten the chickens......and when this test of emergency storage system is over.... i will also add powdered eggs to the storage list
along with powdered WHOLE milk

ok have a good day you guys

Sunday, December 15, 2013

a letter to santa * updated with snowstorm photos

or vi's little list of the gimme gimme's and the i wants

dear santa claus
i have been very mostly occasionally trying to be good this year.
if you decide to not gift me with alternative heating sources (ie: coal, as my stove won't take it)
i have a few things for the list

now i realize that they are rather........ahem....... large items
and probably most won't fit in your sack or even on the sleigh.....

but none the less this is my wish list

first off, for some of the folks i love dearly, who are struggling, could you make their way a bit easier?
and for the folks who've lost their loved ones ......... can you help them smile again
and for the ones that are sick, could they have a break from their suffering
cause they are my friends and i worry about them.

now for me
i need a bigger studio..... seriously, one that is probably double this size, and a new office chair, (with adjustable lumbar support) as mine is now toast
i also need a new desktop computer- i would like 8G ram and at least 1 T of harddrive, a card reader, two cd/dvd RW drives, 6 usb ports, an ergonomic keyboard and twin monitors...... (and wifi please on it)...... if you can throw in the photoshop etc that i also need that would be wonderful
a drawing tablet to go with the new computer

them colored pencils....... the light fast ones, i settled on the set of 60 from faber castell, and while i WAS waiting for a sale, when the sale came, i was sort of not able to swing them.

i could also use an agent, please send me one that believes in me, and is interested in taking my work all the way to the top? (not that i'm greedy or anything but seriously how many more years do i got? i would like to get there pretty fast)

that red house i adore... yes i know that wish is HUGE, but after all didn't you get one for that kid on 'miracle on 34th st'?
i really do like that red house and if i get that one, well we won't need the studio as the entire down stairs will end up being my painting studio....(i'm so predictable no?)
in that case you can sorta scratch the larger studio......actually getting me the house saves you a present no?
we're ok with selling this house and putting that towards helping with the red house.....
but i do want a level lot, 3 acres is enough, cause i want a BIG garden there.

i hope this finds you and the mrs well...... and i promise it wasn't me that got the elves smashed.....i don't drink remember?

so santa if you would find it in your heart to fill my wish list......there it is!
but bernie said to tell you, if you can't fill my wish list, can we have a happy and safe holiday?

your very good friend


Saturday, December 14, 2013

a snow storm, ruffed grouse, some more bad news.....

arrows point to the ruffed grouse
we are to be getting a snowstorm, starting at 2am (so by the time you read this, it should be snowing)
bernie went to double check the furnace so i don't have to be getting up a few times during the night to stoke the woodstove, but discovered that the bottom of the chimney that connects from the furnace to to the masonry chimney is all rotted out- i had thought i saw some sort of dark pile of dust on the floor behind the furnace but it's hard to see back there

so that is more of our bad news, gee lately between the water heater elements, and all the rest..... i don't know.- next week when he has some time, he'll go to the HVAC place and see about getting the parts to fix it but i think we maybe need to get a new chimney liner for the furnace. maybe we need to get a sweep in here for that chimney, because they have those cameras that they lower into the chimney to make sure the liner is ok, no cracks or splits etc.

now the one bright spot today was a loose flock of 4 ruffed grouse out back this morning.
i tried to get a picture but couldn't zoom in enough with the little camera.
i was surprised to see them though.
there is now some seed out there to see if they will come back
since now we know that they are in the area

my eyes are swollen and infected, the only thing we can think of is that when i wash pails and and dump ponds, i get poopy water splashed into my face...i do remember a day a few weeks ago when i had a splash over my glasses right into my eye.
i would imagine that it what caused it, and constantly cleaning the ash out of the woodstove hasn't helped i guess either-- i tried to get a doctors appointment but there aren't any until january.
bernie wants me to go to the hospital, we'll see, what with the storm and all.

the other day, bernie build me a very useful, if primitive step back cabinet in the kitchen- right now it's only shelves, but we are planning on putting bead board on it..... and a door.
he is upset that it looks so 'primitive' and i am ecstatic that it works for holding my pots and pans... wow.... no more musical pots on the stove/oven when i am trying to cook.. i could get used to this whole idea of a more efficient kitchen...... now if i can only convince him to use some of the wood we have laying around to make counter tops for the kitchen i would be so shocked i would fall over!

now i know i said i was taking a break and believe me right now i am.....i want to continue with the pantry series, and i want to add more knitting etc.....
i may be holding off moving the blog and adding more 'serious' type useful content, and i may miss a day or so posting
i normally used to post about 5 times a week .....followed by some periods of not posting at all, but i am probably going to try to settle on 3-4 times a week and stick to that  unless something comes up when i post more- and i am also going to continue to tag the back posts so if there is something useful, it's easier for you to find.

i've realized that my life is filled with a lot of old time skills, such as gardening, canning, drying food... self sufficiency type things. i can sew, knit, crochet, raise animals, milk a cow or a goat (never did try a sheep), and i also realize that i get asked how to do these things, so i am going to keep telling folks here. i also am an artist, who paints, draws, sculpts, makes dolls, miniatures, toys, and a bunch of other stuff.....i also like silk ribbon embroidery, silk painting, beading, etc....... again things folks have asked me how to do so i'm going to add that too.
we don't have children so all of you folks now are my unofficial kids.......even if you're older then me- i'm going to pass it all on

doing things for yourself, mainly by hand can also give you a productive way to fill your non-work hours, or maybe even become work for you.
knowledge is power, is growth, is self preservation, is pride in who and what you are, and most of all lets a person feel that they can control at least part of their life.

i wish that for all of you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

after a bitter cold night....

a warmer morning, a cleaned out woodstove

a headache i can't seem to shake

and then, i dropped an entire case of tiny beads into the dirty cat litter box

i am now going to go knit/paint/ and finish drinking my coffee

i am sick of picking beads out of litter with a tweezer
murphy apparently lives here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

wish bernie good luck this morning....

if luck is with him, i'll let you know in a few weeks.

now a fast peek at where i'm at with this newest painting, (it's actually further along right now but i didn't get a chance to shoot another picture)
and i'll be starting the next one in the series as soon as i finish the layout. 
i SWEAR i am going to get me a drawing tablet for layouts soon, i know i keep saying that..... it's on the list .....i would love a new desktop computer too, so i can use the laptop just for converting the photos of the paintings into print files.

now, there have been all sorts of things going on around here lately, some of which i haven't been mentioning, so it's been a bit of a struggle for me to post on the blog, paint, submit to agents and just generally keeping everything going. 
thankfully bernie has been doing a lot of  my chores when he can so i've gotten a bit of rest, and also some sleep too, in between stoking the woodstove at night.

anyway by the time you all read this... it will be morning
so please wish bernie luck today ok?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

we have some stuff going on

and i have to take a brief break

in the words of arnold......

'i will be back'

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

how to make stock, more pantry notes

here is a past post for you to laugh over, it's from when Thaddeaus Peabody was young (we all know and love the little devil cat from hell right?)
it's called 'are you sure you are a cat'

a bit more pantry notes:
essentials- things like baking soda and baking powder, salt, herb/spices, sugar, flour, various oils and flavorings, rice, pasta, cocoa, jello,  home canned pickles.....things like that
things we need every day, i try to always have a backup on the shelf. i occasionally do run out but it's pretty rare now.
i have a list for this too.
i also have a smallish cabinet for some of this
now if you have your list of meals, this list, and an idea of what you'd like put by, we can talk about what type of freezer containers for the meals, and jars for either the dried stuff and the home canned stuff.
i use a vacuum sealer, freezer containers, and currently for the milk i froze, empty spring water bottles. (those are for short term freezing of milk)

for the emergency pantry, i keep actual cooked meals in the freezer and home canned jars of foods such as stews, that really helped during the power outage we had with hurricane sandy. i was able to reheat food on the wood stove. *** i use the OLD corning ware that can go on the stovetop and in the oven, not the french white stuff that is not stove top safe

the turkey stock i froze the other day, is in quart round freezer containers, labeled with the month/year and the type stock 'turkey' ....
if you get into the habit of every time you make a chicken or a turkey, and you use the leftover carcass to make stock, you shouldn't ever have to worry about having stock in the freezer again.

*** a fast way to make stock- you can reroast the carcass or bones to make the stock a darker color, but i don't always do that...i do however scrap the 'fond' out of the bottom of the roasting pans, and i save ALL the leftover juices for the stock.

fill a stockpot with cold water, add the carcass or bones, and if you want to use them, vegetables such as onion or leek, carrot, garlic, celery, and possibly if you like the taste a parsnip.
(save the parsley and or dill for later on in the cooking process)
simmer for a few hours, adding water if you have to
if you do salt, (i don't usually) use kosher salt, as the taste is better i think.

don't be afraid to taste your stock, and also if you need to ....let it simmer down and concentrate it to save room.
when it's finished, strain out the bones, and the veggies.....
you can put it in the fridge overnight then remove any fat layer that's on the top, but i do keep some fat with the stock...... as my dad used to say, 'you need some of the fat' turns out he was right, as there are fat soluble vitamins in it!

stock in the freezer is something i've always done, i've also canned stock for the pantry
that is done in a pressure canner at 10# for my elevation, 15 minutes.

i am also hoping to get around to listing some of the books i love for canning, dehydrating, and putting food by.
plus maybe a list of some of the varieties of veggies i grow for freezing and canning...
if you are interested please let me know.

now the other thing i wanted to tell you folks, i am thinking of moving the blog to wordpress, i've been with blogger for about ten years now, and i am thinking that it's time to move on
i have over 1600 posts here, some useful, some funny, some just daily life, and a few vents on when stuff goes wrong.
right now i am extremely disappointed in google, and blogger so i am going to think seriously about this
if i move to wordpress, it would be a paid website hosting due to the sheer size of the this blog,
which means i would also have to really decide to actively make this a job. that is in addition to painting...... i think i could do both interchangeably
if you have any opinions on this let me know ok?

til next time


Monday, December 09, 2013

painting update

here is a fast update on my nest painting... it's actually a lot further along though.
and i am already starting to look forward to the finish on this and starting the next one (6 seems to be my normal series, with the crows being an anomaly right now -- however i plan on doing series of 13 for calenders in the future)

to get back to discussing the stocking of a pantry, i would like some feedback from you folks, if this is at all helpful to you.
in the meantime, once you have a list of meals, also make a list (separate paper) of the things you use with them, such as ketchup, coffee, other condiments, you can even list things like napkins.

*** now i have found that almost everything goes on sale at least once a year, with the possible exception of the 'grain free' cat food that we feed the cats....... for you to save the most amount of money, you need to be able to stock enough to last you from one of the 'best price' sales to the next.....
for some things that is yearly but most stuff that is about six months. take butter, we tend to see it on sale here in may, and then again november. it's under 2.00 a pound on sale- so i tend to get at least enough to last me to the next big sale......and throw it in the freezer.  if you don't have a big freezer this won't work for you, but there is also a way to CAN butter..... just a thought***

when i decided to stock the pantry for a full year, i made a LOT of lists.
for a two week pantry it isn't too bad, the list of meals, then double or triple the ingredients, and pick them up. plan for the sale items that week for your meals
also keep buying water,....
i pick up things like batteries, periodically when there are sales, ditto on the light bulbs
i hit a great sale in september on pasta, that normally is about 1.50 a pound, i got it for 67cents a pound..i bought 15 pounds and i put it in mason jars. we eat about a pound for a supper and a lunch for two......that is going to last a bit added to what i already have on the shelf

i would also suggest strongly learning to can if you don't already.
now canning most fruits and tomato products involves a boiling water bath.. i used to use a 'canner' for this, now i use my big stockpot with the pasta insert! works great.

i would also like to suggest that you start either batch cooking, or double/triple your recipes. Storing the extra in the freezer.
when i worked outside the home, i cooked one saturday a month, we went food shopping friday night, and i cooked and put away raw meats in the freezer on saturday. now what works for me is batch cooking.
chicken parts on sale, i get 40 pounds and cook some into recipes and freeze some in marinades....
of course normally once a year i get 120# of boneless skinless chicken breasts (when they are under 1.80 a pound) and i slice them, cube them, bread some (link to my 'bread coating for chicken, pork, etc), and freeze some in marinades.

now a word about where to store everything..... i have a very small house, without closets, and the kitchen is a nightmare-(it's a glorified hallway with four doorways, all of which are essential, very little wall space, too narrow for an real island, and NO COUNTER TOPS- and due to a new faucet, terrible water pressure) ... we also have a damp basement with a partial dirt floor .... the joys of an old house,.... so storing the pantry is in several locations.... even in the damp basement, which doubles as night and winter quarters for the poultry, and a cold cellar for the potatoes. (mom was right, there always is a silver lining if you look hard enough)

for me the challenge to be ready for emergencies and to find new and better ways to save money is not only compelling but it's bailed us out on more then one occasion, so i wish that for you as well.
during hurricane sandy we were just slightly uncomfortable. the biggest thing was no running water.
during times of financial difficulty this made the difference in our surviving or starving.
and during better times, we were able to save some money towards retirement.

now if you want me to continue this as a sort of formal series here, please let me know
for us ..... living this way is a way of life.
without even thinking about it, i get ready for each season.
i even pick the seeds for the garden by what keeps the best for drying, freezing and canning.
(which can be a whole other series)

in the meantime
my turkey stock for the other day is in the freezer, part of the ongoing pantry.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

a short detour

picking meat off the turkey
adding bones to the stock pot
 i put the turkey carcass into the stockpot after getting as much meat as i could off.
have you done your turkey stock yet?
i got 5 quarts, three of which are in the freezer
the other two....that was our soup base for supper tonight
turkey soup with celery, onion and cabbage!
oh and bite sized raviolis

i love having stock on hand, and i love using the very last of the turkey up!

turkey meat and some stuffing

Saturday, December 07, 2013

painting updates, pantry notes *** pretty long pt 1 of many

i was up most of the night painting, i think it's starting to come along now. i am starting to like what i see here. however i will be cautious with my optimism, as i don't want to become so enraptured with this painting that i don't see if i make a mistake. it's good to keep a critical eye on your work. 
this particular series will be larger in size then my original ones, and i think more intricate, reflective of where i am in my life now.
i do like the 'peeking into' aspect of this painting, a glimpse into a sheltered and secret world. 
some of my favorite things are in this painting, maple leaves, wild berries, the nest and eggs. 
this painting was extremely soft starting out, and still is mostly, but i think things are starting to sharpen up a bit, which they needed to.

now onto another thing that i was asked about recently...
starting and maintaining a home pantry without making yourself nuts. yes it can be a huge job but it's easy one step at a time.
our forefathers (really our foreMOTHERS) marked the rhythm of the seasons of an agricultural based year, taking things in plentiful and season and preserving them for times of want and winter.

for us, it is more a matter of making sure that if there is a hardship, such as illness or job loss...
or a storm, or money is tight, we can survive. despite the supermarkets all around us full of food and goods, sometimes they are beyond our grasp.

so i am going to try to help you put a pantry together if you don't have one, increase your pantry if you do have one, and try to help you save some money while you are doing it.

***please note that when i refer to our pantry it includes batch cooking freezer meals, dried foods, canned foods and homemade 'tv dinners'' part of our pantry, as during hurricane sandy (no running water and no electricity for over a week and then no hot water for another 2 weeks) the food i had already cooked ahead was what we reheated on the woodstove.  it also includes extra amounts of things like coffee, tea, sugar, lightbulbs, toilet paper..... 

first you need a plan. 
and a notebook (i use a three ring binder- and i get a ream of prepunched holed paper for it)

ok, what do you eat during the week (please don't say 'take out every night'..or we will have to talk)
let's just say an average week
make a list of your suppers
here's mine for cold week in fall: 

sunday- pasta and sauce (salad)
monday- meatloaf, baked potato, carrots (gravy optional)
tuesday- chicken stir fry with mixed veggies, brown rice
wednesday- porkchops in apple cider with homemade mac/cheese and home canned cole slaw (yes it stayed crisp
thursday- chicken soup with no knead bread
friday- homemade pizza
saturday- beef stew

summers are in a way, easier as we eat a lot of salads out of the garden, but we'll just do this normal type week.

what else does your family eat?
make a short list of favorite main dish meals
i have a list of about 60 different main dishes put away.......
now you know that you have to eat daily,
so decide for now, how many days or weeks you would like to have stocked for?

***i started out when we were first married (37 years ago) stocking monthly, we shopped once a month, i spend saturday cooking and then we ate for the month without worry....just picking up milk and maybe eggs or bread and some fresh veggies weekly (we lived in an apartment at that time and i worked full time outside of the house)
when we moved here, we started to stock up for 3 months at a time, but soon graduated to 6 months at a time....and finally to a year at a time.

let's say you want to stock for two weeks, 
you know you need 14 meals, but say your family LOVES homemade pizza and you have that every friday night....ok so that really is only 13 meals (cause one is doubled)
and say you make a big roast on a sunday, then cut it up for stew, and the leftover stew is now going into a pot pie, ...hmmmmm see what i mean? (hint, cut the roast into stew chunks before you put it away on sunday, and it's ready to go for a fast stew during the week.)

now i know at this point in the process, i was sitting there overwhelmed and wondering how i was going to do this, where i was going to put everything, afford everything, .....and just remember everything. if you're at that point right now, just remember, i too was there, we were on a very tight budget, we have an extremely tiny house, no closets, a damp basement, a total wreck of a kitchen without kitchen counters, and i was scared, so if i can do this YOU can do this, 

ok so we have a sample week of supper menus, and a list of other meals your family likes
plus an idea of how many weeks (2) you want to try and stock for.

now we do some math,  first off you take the meals you know you will repeat ......so that would be say two meals of  homemade pizza
and you are going to make a roast either of beef or chicken or even turkey, and cut that up for a stew, and the pot pie.
now you just have to fill in the others (fill in your own meals ok-i'm working on a pdf for you to download)
  1. roast
  2. stew and/or potpie
  3. chicken stir fry 
  4. meatloaf
  5. pizza
  6. pizza
  7. pork chops
  8. pasta
  9. soup and sandwitch
  10. baked chicken
  11. tuna casserole
  12. tilapia fillets with parmesan coating
  13. enchiladas
  14. chili
ok so there is about a two week batch of meals...just supper at this point, cause lunches are normally leftovers (so i just make extras- enough for a meal or two for the freezer and a bit leftover for lunch the next day)

now we are going to break it down into manageable units ( which is going to start tomorrow as i have been working all day and my eyes are exhausted!)

please leave any questions you may have in the comments and we'll work them out as we go along