Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

Today and tomorrow (and everyday) I will give thanks for the good life I have and the friends, family and good memories I hold in my heart.

I am thankful to be in good health.
I am thankful that I have a well constructed roof over my head and heat.
I am thankful for the food in the fridge and garden.
I am thankful that BOTH my son and daughter now have new jobs.
(your good thoughts are much appreciated)
I am thankful for our devoted, sweet and happy dog.
I am thankful for the warm sweater I am wearing and the cosy slippers.

It is snowing here in Maine and the roads are getting more and more slippery.  My daughter is driving home and has given G a heads up.  If she doesn't call in 45 minutes, he's to go out looking for her.

I chose not to go into work today.  I would have had to drive home at 6 pm in the dark, in the snow. Instead I made cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and baked a pumpkin cheesecake, sent G to the grocery store twice (he reports the driving, tempers and behavior on the roads and in the stores is very poor.   And, really, what does anyone need from a greenhouse the day before Thanksgiving?

In 45 minutes, when our daughter is safely home from work, all will be good in my little world.  As I hope it is in your worlds.  Safe, warm and anticipating a lovely holiday tomorrow.

I am thankful for you, reading this.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Big Dinner Is This Week

So much hustle and bustle in the grocery parking lot, in the grocery aisles and in people's minds.

I saw some incredibly stupid driving in the parking lot.  And the backing out of spaces?? Yikes.  It's like everyone checked their common sense at home and was out looking for trouble.  Or they were just wondering where they put the shopping list.

I found myself walking about trying to "remember" that important item I had forgotten to buy the last two times I had shopped.  It was sweet potatoes.  The big ones.  I had gotten smaller ones for dinners 1, 2 and 3 but the "BIG" dinner requires very large sweet potatoes.

I went a bit nuts on the turkey.  I think it's 21 pounds.  I managed to get it into the fridge to thaw.  I was worried that it wouldn't fit on any of the crazy weird shelves in my fridge.  I even had a shelf left over after the REPAIR.  I can't even figure out where it fit.  So I stored it in the guest room closet and will use it if any of the others break.

The turkey is thawing.  I have the potatoes (I just realized I forgot to buy the regular white potatoes- cause my daughter likes mashed not sweet), squash (it's New England), B. sprouts in the garden, pumpkin for the pie, fresh cranberries and brandy for the sauce and I'll use the neck to make stock for the gallon of gravy we go thru.  Oh, and the green beans for the green bean casserole--the star of the meal in IMHO.

This coming week is #36 at work.  My last week is week #40.  So the clock is ticking.  Short timers attitude.  I made a bunch of State of Maine wreaths on Friday.  Nine in an hour which is pretty good.

It's VERY cold here in Maine, but no snow.  I see pictures of Buffalo and cringe.  And it seems very dark here.  Dark when I wake up.  Dark when I am working in the greenhouse.  Darkest when I drive home.  In Germany they referred to this period as the "dark times" and I think it helped them through it when the Christmas markets set up shop.  Lights, food and Christmas things.  I know that I wish we had outdoor Christmas Markets as part of our American holiday.  Not the Mall.  Never the Mall.

My daughter has had a second interview for a possible job.  She is very interested--so we are hoping it works out for her.  We'll all just send positive thoughts her way, okay?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Weather Outside (& Inside) Is Chilly

Last week we were busy getting ready for the Holiday Open House at work.  Making, cleaning, setting up.  It went well, I think.  Always hard to judge from the depths of the greenhouse, far from the cash registers.  We ran out of things like white Christmas Cactus which is the "new" favorite and the food trays were wiped clean.

I potted up many cactus gardens, the Fairy Garden I made for a display sold (yes!), and repotted a number of houseplants.  Not as many amaryllis bulbs as in past Open Houses.  The Christmas trees are being cut this week and shipped to us by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

G and I have had Thanksgiving dinner twice so far this month.  This coming Thursday will be dinner #3.  It's a quick fix meal but has all the players.  Turkey (deli roasted), stuffing (Stove Top), baked sweet potatoes, Brussels Sprouts from the garden, cranberry sauce.  No leftovers.  I usually pick up what we need on the way home from work and pop the sweet potatoes in the oven while still wearing my coat.  The gravy this year is from a new gravy mix.  I like Knorr best but it's hard to find. We tried Trader Joe's cranberry sauce (excellent), Ocean Spray whole berry with a few spoons of the Brandied stuff mixed in (wow) and I have bags of berries to make into more brandied sauce which carries quite a punch!!!  I got imported French brandy for the recipe as I think everything French is better.

The sunny high for today is 40 degrees.  With wind.  So, it feels colder.

My friend and I did our weekly walk at 10:30 and it was brisk.  I needed a hat and gloves.

I need to visit the library to return a book and I seem to be feeling like a visit to Goodwill would be a good idea.  I have to make a paper pattern for a Santa ornament I want to make for the tree this year (saw it in the Crate & Barrel catalog or the Pottery Barn catalog)  It's just a felt Santa suit with the hat dangling from a thread.  No Santa in the suit.  No boots.  I think it's 5 inches tall and about that wide. When I find it I will share it's image with you.

I have a few plants to repot, cut back etc before they get shuffled off to their winter set up.  Either in the dining room or in the back bedrooms.  Some are already in the attic bedroom which is really cold (45) and not suitable for all the plants.  The fig is up there.

G used the Vitamix to bake a loaf of fig and walnut whole wheat bread.  You actually just mix a few of the items in the Vitamix and then add that to the dry ingredients in a bowl.  It came out quite good and he is happy with his baking success.  The recipe was for a date walnut mix but he bought figs.
The Loaded Baked Potato soup that you "cook" in the Vitamix was TERRIBLE.  I declared that that was the LAST SOUP I would ever make in the Vitamix.  I can make better soup in a pan on the stove.

Well, I need to start doing something or my day off will be wasted doing nothing.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

My Saturday Chores

I made more grape jelly.

Six more pints of the stuff which was two procedures.  Cooking, canning, washing.  And then I did it a third time and made fig preserves framer home grown figs.

The figs weren't exactly ripe.  Or soft.  But they did have pretty pink insides.  I used the Vitamix to pulverize everything into a mush and then added lots of sugar and cooked it till it "gelled" and then added lemon juice.  It's not pink.  It's very seedy and very very sweet.  Sort of a nutty taste.

I don't eat fig preserves.  So I tasted mine and then tasted the fig preserves in the jar G has in the fridge--from France.  Same-ish.  So I think it's all good.

The only really good things about today--I started the cooking by making French Cabbage soup so I have something to eat.  And the disposal got a really good disinfecting when I poured the huge pot of boiling water down the sink drain.  Oh, and I am done for the day.

Well, I think I can add that the skin around my eye isn't burning and raw today.  Whatever I am allergic to must be "over".  We think it's a mold.  And the cold weather is killing it.  Could also be a fungus.  Among us.

I made myself a very very sweet terrarium out of a blown glass vase I bought across the street (yard sale) a few summers ago.  The hole in the top of the container is just big enough for my hand to fit inside so it was very tricky filling it with stones, charcoal, moss and finally dirt and plants.  I have two kinds of ferns, a moss and two tiny succulents.  I need a tiny animal or a fairy chair or clay mushroom to really finish it off.  Shopping!!!!

I planted four (could have used 5) ornamental kale plants in the front courtyard planter.  All purple and pink.  That's something I will plan on doing again next fall.  With something tall and orange in the center.  My list of things to remember to do is getting longer.

I still have my dahlia tubers to pack up for winter storage.  And the cannas.  And the elephant ears.  The BIG ferns are upstairs in the attic along with the agapanthus (which didn't bloom this summer)  and the pruned fig tree.  Pruned to the nub as they say.  Now I just have to water and wait for the amaryllis to bloom.  The Christmas Cactus have started budding already.  And I am hoping the cymbidium orchids put out a flower spike this year.

So much to look forward to.  And in a few weeks I will be on winter furlough.  Seven.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I Walked And I Voted

It was a chilly day and I wore my winter down jacket but the company was delightful and the turnout for voting was extraordinary.  I am happy to see the end of the bear baiting ads on Maine television. I was also disgusted to see the ads for bear traps with bears screaming, radio collared hunting dogs cornering bears and close range shooting of the bears (all repeatedly aired on television all day long) was all sponsored by the NRA.  Nasty.

Here in Maine we are hoping to have a new governor by nightfall.  A new senator would also be a welcome surprise.  And no bear baiting.

Gas always goes down in price before an election.  $3.01 until 2:45 pm and then it started going up in price.  Up to $3.05 while G filled up.  I guess the politicians think they can fool us with a cheap sense of good will as in "everything is great, gas is going down in price".  No worries.

My friend Patty dragged a huge basket of Concord grapes over here last night.  This morning I washed them and picked the grapes off the stems and made juice.  Just under 2.5 quarts.  My fingers are grape colored.  I have the juice settling in the fridge and will strain it again to remove the crystals before making more jars of jelly.   I also need to make Brandied Cranberries for the holidays.  Got the treasured family recipe from my neighbor.  Now I need to buy berries and a bottle of brandy.

I have to go up into the cold attic and get the heavy winter down comforter.  The summer weight and the down alternative are not doing the job.  Do I have too many down comforters?  Well, yes I do. And only one of them was a bargain at $20.

My eye rash is sort of back.  Now I have this acid like moisture running out of the corner of my eyes and making my skin burn, crack and hurt.  I am taking zyrtec, using cold compresses and covering my skin with Burt's Bee's hand salve.  I just wish it would stop and go away.  My actual eye balls do not itch or look red.  Not conjunctivitis.  And it usually gets really bad while I am sitting on the couch watching television or reading.  I think it's an allergy.

Well, I am putting on my winter coat and going up not the attic.  Find that comforter and try and shove it into the duvet cover (always an aerobic activity).  Later.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

And Winter Has Entered The Building

The snow was already covering everything when I woke up--at 11 am.  I needed sleep.  I was so very exhausted.  Two 10 hour work days back to back is one too many.

Halloween is past and we put up the Christmas Trees and started decorating them yesterday.  I didn't as I was teaching people how to put their garden to bed for the winter.  Guess they didn't have much of a chance to put the lessons into practice, huh?

I have a pot of browned onions (4 pounds of them) in the cast iron pan, prepped to be turned into onion soup for supper, later.  I have stale bread to make into croutons and French cheese to shred on top.  I am looking forward to it.  I think I could eat French onion soup every single day. My friend M's father ordered it in every restaurant they ever went to.  I think that's a very good idea.  And I would stop going to restaurants that made a mediocre bowl.

I feel the same about mussels.  I love a good mussels broth.  It was a favorite of mine while I was doing low carb.  I should really learn how to make them at home.   Maine always has fresh mussels available.

G and I went out for lunch last Tuesday and had our usual deep fried cajun ribs and I tried the shrimp creole lunch special.  I took half the creole home (I ran out of rice to eat it with) and had it for lunch at work the next day with 8 ounces (I weighed it) of brown rice.  I think this is also something I should learn to make at home.  Just onion, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes and shrimp.  The creole I had didn't have a roux to thicken it.  It was just loose.  And spicy hot.

The chili I made and packed up for lunches is finally gone.  It certainly was a delight to have something hot to eat while working in the cold greenhouse.  Not looking forward to tomorrow as all I have left to eat (we now have a note on the fridge listing what's inside) is salad and cold roasted beets.  Salad is cold.  I'll need to wear my coat while I eat it.  I also finished the last of the yogurt and won't be having that again until spring.  I do have a whole pineapple for my fruit this week.  Only one apple left from my last batch of fruit.  I also have another serving of cold brown rice.  I could eat that with one of my frozen servings of ratatouille.  Nice and hot.  In my bowl.  Making lunches in the cold months is pretty difficult.  I should just make a pot of lentil soup.  Do I have any lentils????

Riley is wanting his 5 pm dinner. It's always difficult when the time changes.  His tummy doesn't have a "set-back" switch.