Monday, December 29, 2014

One Last Tree

I hunted for this image and finally noticed it hanging out---- all alone--on the desktop.

Yesterday was my LAST day of 2014 at work. (For Sure) A long, painfully slow day.  You can chat with your co-workers just so long before you start repeating yourself, over-sharing, or giving advice (BLAH!). I should have brought my book to work and found a sunny spot in the greenhouse to read it.

Today has been quiet.  I baked another batch of chocolate chip cookies for G, turned some "getting old" bread into crispy croutons, went on a walk with my friend from the library and have a pan of cornbread ready for the oven--we are going to Patty's house for dinner.

G is working on building two end tables for our bedroom.  Using the remaining wood from his desk project. I hope he will let me paint them black to match the bed.  He also has a pattern for Bluebird Houses.  Not that we see any here---too many trees.  They like a meadow.  But some of the little Goldfinches or Chickadees might like them.  I hung a few clementines (the ones with seeds) out for the birdies.

I spent an hour "pinning" German and French recipes to a new Board.  I am very new to Pin interest.
I am very new to most everything.  I collected quite a bit of moss and intend to build myself a nice little moss garden.  I am loving the terrarium I made.  The bird I found at Goodwill looks perfect sitting in with all the ferns.  My paperwhites are showing flower buds already.  I can't stand the flowers.  Stinky. But love the green foliage.

A few of the amaryllis bulbs are sending up flower stems.  I love them.  Not stinky.

Well, I have to go preheat the oven and mix the cornbread batter and get that in the oven.  Might be nice to change into something nice for going out to dinner as well.  I spent ALL of Christmas Day in my pajamas.  And I wasn't sick or anything.  Just never got dressed.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 2014 Christmas Tree Cards

I actually made 12 but had the first one in a sealed envelope before remembering to take pictures of all of them.  The iPhoto download wasn't as horrid as last time, but still more trouble than it ever was before.

I used brown Kraft paper cards from JoAnn's and a white gelly roller pen with a point 4mm tip.  I only used one pen for all the cards and it still has ink.  My past experiences led me to buy a package with three pens as I have found then to be unreliably inky.

I think the whole process took three hours.  The first ones are very tight with short needled branches.  As I got looser and more comfortable with the "making" the trees became more "shrubs" as my daughter pointed out.  She got 2/12 and her tree is very tightly needled.  My son is getting 10/12 and his is much more "mellow".

We had a lovely Christmas.  Not too many presents.  Simple food.  Riley loved all the company (one extra person), his stuffed dog toy and the bone.  He's very, very sleepy.

The Christmas Burritos were delicious and the Pumpkin Pie was extra good.  We played several games--two which were new.  We didn't play Scrabble.  I have more than a dozen new glue sticks and three packages of index cards.  Thank You Santa.

Now to the belts!!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

The cards are in the mail.  I stopped, almost in time, to take pictures of this year's card.  Tomorrow. Or the next day.  I promise to post it.

The problem?  I was working right up until 5 pm today.  No time.  I was standing in the kitchen yesterday making cheese pierogi for my daughter and prepping potstickers for G and I to eat tonight, after I got home from work.  Standing and cooking until 8:30 or later.

Then the couch where I dozed off and on until I went to bed.  Up at 6:30am.

I had the day off yesterday.  Seems so long ago.  I walked with a friend.  Nice in the drizzle.  And then the grocery store.  I must have circumnavigated the store five full turns (meeting and chatting with so many people I don't see very often--some I don't even know :-0).  Forgetting something each and every time.  I had to buy for three holiday meals and desserts.  The pressure was tremendous. Forget something and there isn't time for a "do-over".  Now what was the four pounds of butter for???

No presents (and there aren't very many) are wrapped.  Tomorrow.

I helped quite a few people find presents.  Well, I made them presents.  Potted three citrus trees and found, with help from sweet Anna, care sheets on the internet.  Prettied up the plain bonsai we had for sale with nice rocks and moss.  Proper Bonsai.  And then got to add rocks and moss to two bonsai starter plants.  Used the plastic grid I got at JoAnn's and the bendable jewelry wire.  The guy who asked me to make them was very happy.  I was happier.

It was a good day.  Not the way I like to spend Christmas Eve.  But good.

Our tree looks wonderful.  The best tree, ever.  I have EVERY ornament we own on it plus two large plastic reindeer and a large old plastic monkey.  I have the monkey where I can see him (while sitting on the couch) and his smile is infectious.  His arm is falling off so he will need some emergency room treatment after the Holiday.  Super glue I think.  Old plastic isn't pliable.  Once upon a time he must have been soft and bendable. Such a cutie.

When you have a lot of ornaments it helps to buy a tree with lots of "holes".   LOL

I still have potato and sauerkraut pierogi to make, a large pot of spaghetti and meatballs, a pumpkin pie and some pretzel, caramel, pecan and chocolate "candy" and the Christmas Burritos.

I will report back and perhaps have added BELTS to all the Santa Suit ornaments.  Good thing I like making things during Christmas and not actually FINISHING them the same year.  OMG.

Merry Christmas.  To Every One Of You!!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not Riley's Squirrel

Some other, more clever, faster on the camera, person took this picture.  But this is what is getting Riley all crazy.

It's right there on the other side of the glass.  He can almost SMELL it.

Our squirrel was standing on his hind legs, nose pressed to the glass and arms stretched out to the sides of his body.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Only Ten More Days

At about this point, I have lost interest in working.  It's not fun. This is week #39.  Time to be unemployed.  Redundant.

The sun was shining today, so the greenhouse was nice and warm and humid since I watered everything.  And I cleaned up the Venus Flytraps.  They had gotten all funky and green.  Fertilizer.  So I washed them off, clipped off the green and gave them fresh water.  Hoped that a new home was in their immediate future.

G and I finally got our acts together and mailed our son's Christmas box.  Really, we have only one child who lives "away" and we can't seem to get the box in the mail any sooner (usually later). I can't say what's inside as he reads this blog.  Hi! honey.

I bought white gel pens and brown kraft paper blank cards for the annual handmade card.  I just have to find time to start drawing.  I know.  Purchased cards would be easier.  But not me.  I got the idea from a few things on PinInterest.  I started my first file.  PI sent me a congratulatory email.  Really.
I must be their slowest new member.  Months and not one "pin".

We have also been to our first (and probably only) Christmas party.  I wore a skirt.  YIKES.  And black tights.  But my closet came up short on what I could wear on top of that skirt.  I did notice a number of women wearing cute short sleeved tees (holiday types) over long sleeved black tees.  It was interesting.  Two glasses of red wine and I had a terrific headache at work the next day.

The Christmas Tree is still in a bucket in the garage.  I am being to think the tree is also becoming "redundant" in our lives.  Not needed.  Too much trouble.

I did some shopping at Wally World this morning as I was over an hour too early to go into work. It was very entertaining.  I forgot to buy a coffee at Dunkin in the lobby.  Darn.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Still Making Santas

I went back to Joann's and got the tiny white pom poms with my newest 50% off coupon. Just thinking about sewing all those tiny white buttons (and really do I own 16 white buttons that size?) was making my head ache.

It is raining, 30-32 degrees and while G and I were having a lovely Italian lunch in an otherwise empty restaurant--the power to our street had gone out yet again.

Home. Generator. Neighbors calling to ask why we had lights on and they did not.  Finally the power company truck and the lights.

I am thinking about "being sick" tomorrow.

Oh--funny story.

The dog (Riley) has been barking in the kitchen dining room early in the morning--waking us up.  Had no idea why but this morning I was awake, drinking coffee and reading the paper.  I looked over and there was a damned naughty SQUIRREL standing on his back legs, on the outside window sill, nose pressed to the window, arms stretched out, pressed to the window.  And Riley, going nuts.

If I had only had my camera.  Would have been the best blog post ever.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Making Santas

I saw this "ornament" in the Crate and Barrel catalog---just a picture of the tiny suits hanging on the tree (upper left in photo).  No item to purchase.

I had to go online and find the actual ornament.  Made in India for $6.95 each.   Five inches by five inches felt or wool.  Hard to tell.

I had a Joann's coupon a few weeks ago and when I visited they had the best premium red felt (really good color).  So I bought a half yard of it and a quarter yard of white.  Then I had to make a pattern.

I cut up an entire manila file folder making the jacket.  Arms too short.  Arms sticking out too far. Hat too tall, too wide too whatever.  I finally cut one and made the entire thing and it took far longer than I expected.  I wanted at least a dozen for the tree.  I had one.

Then I turned to the American Industrial Standard.  I did one thing--over and over.  Then did the next thing, on all of the suits, all of the hats.   As you can see the suits are sewn (8 of them) but not trimmed.  The hats (which I do at breakfast, before work), have trim and are ready to go.  The belt is wrong and I am not enchanted with the two buttons but I am not going back to buy tiny pom poms.

I still only have the ONE finished.

We'll see.

Just Beginning To Wrap It Up

At work we are in the thick of it.  Wreaths, custom and ordinary.  Swags, which are getting more popular each year.  Fairy Gardens.  Yes!!!  I love making them and the customers seem to enjoy them as well.  I have another waiting to be made for Dec 12th delivery.

My tree---too big and not very pretty according to G--- is in the garage, in a bucket of water waiting to be installed.  Not yet, I say.  I want a day of rest.  Reading.  Writing a post.  Making a pot of soup. (lentil this time from a German recipe)  Starting to work on my handmade cards.

What I really want is to sleep.  I am very tired.

We are working longer and more often--we didn't hire any Christmas extra help.  The parking lot is covered in slippery ice.  I rarely get home before dark.  I think I am working more this year than I did last year with TWO jobs.  Or it just feels that way.

We lost power at 5 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I had baked my sweet potatoes, made a pumpkin cheesecake and made two batches of the boozy cranberries.  Then dark.

On Thursday I was trying to figure out, with the generator as the power source, how I would cook dinner.  Only one outlet had power as we have a small generator that is mainly for lights, fridge, microwave and furnace.  I had a Nesco roaster in the attic and decided to put the turkey in it and then have G drive it over to our daughter's house (with power) and roast it there.  I had the other menu items ready and on the cold porch waiting---hoping the power would go back on.

On the way home from dropping off the turkey/roaster, G drove down the road and asked people if the had power.  Turns out they all did.  Just our street was down.  The Squirrel Buster Thing had tripped.  So, G went looking for a power truck crew.  And found one a few streets away.  Asked them to check the pole and throw the switch.  They said they would consider it.  After they were done reattaching wires to a house.  About an hour which would bring the time to 2 pm.   I set my little timer and then went on sewing little Santas out of felt.

Before the hour was up.  Bing.  The lights came on.

We're calling this the Thanksgiving that G Saved.  Our Hero.

I fired up the stove, G went to get the turkey and we managed to sit down to dinner by 6 pm.  It was all very delicious.

All the leftovers are gone.  I have a few roasted sweet potatoes (from this Tuesday) and a few cups of green bean casserole.  G ate the last piece of pumpkin cheesecake yesterday.

Now we are facing Christmas.

I seriously think working retail at this time of year really puts you OFF the holiday.  I have no interest in shopping for anything.  I am thinking about baking cookies--lots of them like in the "old days".  And perhaps some Chex mix for the gang at work.

Other than that it may be a grilled cheese sandwich and some baked beans. Fa. La. La.

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blue Pendant Lights

I love that shade of bird's egg blue.

Today was my doctor appointment.  There is bad news and good news.  The bad news is that my scale and the doctor's don't match up.  About a 4 pound difference.  And not my way.

The good news?  No yelling.  She was honestly pleased with my progress, said I look wonderful, wondered why I had a better tan than she did and was thrilled with my BP 122 over 62.

We discussed "mindful" eating.  Meaning not to walk around while eating the daily fruit.  I should sit or stand quietly and purposefully enjoy eat bite.  She also though an infrequent dessert was a good idea.  All in all, I left thinking life was okay.  And on the dog walk with G, he said he noticed (**) that my rear end was smaller.  What a guy.  I just looked at him and laughed.

I go back in another 3 months.  The end of January.  Well.  I knew this was going to be a long haul as they say.  I will be starting a new food diary in the Hello Kitty book someone put in my locker near my birthday.  No one is saying it was them.  I just think of it as a group effort.

I caved and turned on the furnace.  Just to 60.  I am freezing.  Which is what happens on a low fat low calorie diet.  You get cold and stay cold.

I have a pan full of brown rice cooking on the stove.  I think it takes 30 minutes to cook.  I plan to have it with steamed or roasted vegetables during the week.  Beets.  Sweet Potatoes.  Onions. Brussels Sprouts.  Carrots.  Potatoes.  Like those "abundance" bowls on all the vegan websites.
I tried quinoa and it is not good.  I have to find someone to give the remainder of it.

And I keep forgetting to make shredded sweet potato fritters (burgers) for meals.  And I want to make hummus.  So many ideas and so little time.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spooky Muppets

It took longer than ever to find this picture for the top of the blog.  I have so many in the file and G keeps "updating" things---so I can't find anything.

I did a lovely job decorating the back wall of the greenhouse for Halloween Pumpkin Carving last Saturday.  Yesterday I took it all down.  I still have a bale of hay and a stack of pumpkins for holiday flavor but nothing else. No ghosts.  No "scary" man stuffed with paper.

It's cold but not raining.  7 carts of perennials left today and another 4 tomorrow.  Once the perennials go back to the mother ship, it's a very fast slide into Christmas.  Then furlough.  Then Spring.  As I get older, I have to stop and enjoy the "moments" of a season because time is certainly speeding up.

Riley and I did go shopping and did buy the ingredients for both chili (for me) and meatloaf (for g). the chili is still hanging around.  G ate all the meatloaf, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  I also cut up all the peaches I still had (collecting fruit flies) and made a second peach cobbler.  G is working his way thru it.

Tomorrow is my doctor's appointment.  Three months after I was instructed to eat only 1200 to 1500 calories a day and lose 2-3 pounds a week.  I have lost a total of 11.5 pounds.  My doctor isn't going to be happy.  I am ambivalent.  My pants are very loose.  My personal goal was wearing loose pants (and not buying larger pants) so I think I am okay with 11.5 pounds in three months.  My doctor will not be.  I am taking my food diary with me.  Each page has a list of what I actually ate.  Pretty dull and uninteresting things.  It bores me to read it.  Boring to eat it.

I am cold and tired.  Going to take my shower, pull on my jammies and watch television.  I may have a dumpling or two from G's Chinese takeout.  I ate my main food for the day at 2:30.  Chicken (cold, leftover) and pumpkin risotto from Whole Foods.  I also had my cucumber/lemon water yesterday and today--to get rid of excess water--if I was retaining any.  It tasted good yesterday but the batch I made this morning is Blech!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Multiple Colors On The House

I have two colors on my house right now.  A "shortbread" paint color (yellowish) from the MS collection (when she was in prison) and white.  I had the painters cover all the decorative trim with the base color--to "delete" them as I find all that trim clutter-y. I had custom paint mixed for the shutters.  A rhododendron leaf.  A nice green.  In certain light it looks almost lime.

This was a mistake. All of it.

As an artist who is rather good at mixing up lovely paint colors--I was very unhappy with what I chose for the house paint.  In a painting, one has many opportunities for a do over.  Not on an expensive house painting.  I kept hoping the yellow color would fade.  It did not.  Will probably never fade. Will last 100 years.  It's what happens when you can't stand something.  Look at weeds as an example of staying where you are not wanted.

Left to my own choices I like a white house, charcoal roof and black trim.

Left to his choices, G likes a green house.  Like it was back in 1991 when he chose this house.

The house picture I shipped over here from Houzz, has G's green.  It also has lime green and purple.
 I don't think I could live with the purple.  Too Seattle.  Not Maine.  I do like the "pop" of red in the table leg and hanging light indoors.

Not much going on here.  Just work which seems relentless and we are now decorating for Christmas.  Days are cooler, darker, shorter.  Today it's raining.  And will be raining until Friday.  I took Riley along on the weekly walk with my friend (day off activity).  We did it in short order as Riley kept us moving at his speed.  Now he's resting.  When the weather shifts it's hard to decide what to wear.  Too much and one sweats.  Too little and one shivers.  I had on a lined vest and a scarf wrapped around my neck.  I find a cold neck is a terribly unhappy thing so I wear a scarf in and out of the house once we get cold weather.

I am finishing off the kale and tomato soup today and need to make another.  G is happiest with chicken soup but I am more difficult to please.  I am going to see if I have lentils.  I like a thick soup in the cold months.  If I don't have lentils, then a minestrone with barley.  I would really like chili. But that means a ride to the grocery--not a bad idea-- for meat.  I could get double the meat and make chili for lunches and meat loaf for dinner.  Okay.  Good plan.  Hey Riley!!  Want to go for a ride?
We're off.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kitchen Cabinets

The neighbor down the street is having new cabinets installed this week and next. Everything in the kitchen remains in the same position--with a wider opening for one of the new fridges.  I asked but don't remember her answering--"did you get a new sink".  Have to wait and see.  What I liked in the picture up top was the cabinet doors and pulls.  Not the louvers.  Murder to clean.

G has "updated" my computer (yet again).

Time and time again, I tell him this computer is mine.  He should update his iPad to his hearts content and leave my stuff alone.  But he has "conjoined" his with mine--who said he could? and I have to suffer all the "updates" he thinks he needs.  Plus, he never mentions it until it's done.  When this happens I often think I will just stop using the computer--because if I don't enjoy the way things LOOK, why bother????  What things look like is all I actually care about or enjoy.

Well, I do like things to open.  But I have no use for "bells, whistles, games, videos etc."

I was hungry all day today.  I was also cold and sopping wet most of the morning.  I had to tie string around wet mums to gather their stems up into a tight head.  They were flopping from the heavy rain overnight.  By the time I finished my clothing was dripping.  I thought about going home to change into dry clothes but we only have 4 people working.  I had a dry tee shirt in my locker, I found someone's left behind dry hoodie in the Fish House and--the pants?  Well, they dried by 2 pm. Dry-Ish.

Lesson re-learned.  Extra set of clothing in the car.  Plus rain boots.  I must have taken them out of the car at some point.

My extra special customer service abilities had several customers saying "I'm really happy I stopped in here today".  Papyrus repot for an art teacher doing an Egyptian theme.  Orchid repot and care instructions.  Terrarium instructions plus bonus excursion into the yard to find mosses.  Explanation of the differences between the varieties of Hibiscus (indoor, perennial and shrub).  Pruning of a temperamental Ficus tree while the owner talked to his banker.  And I finished cutting back more of the perennials and scrubbed the front counters with Simple Green.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chalk Board Pumpkins

What a great idea.  No cutting.  No messy pulp.  No rotting.  Win. Win.

We had summer today.  Sun, heat and people wearing shorts.  No me, sadly.  I was out in the perennial yard cutting the tops off of plants.  Getting ready to send them back to the mother ship for the winter.  It's properly called "cutting back".

I roasted a butternut squash yesterday and cut a nice bowl of B. sprouts off the fat stem they were growing on.  Roasting is in their future.  And perhaps some pita chips for a "fall fatuous" like Smitten Kitchen has on her blog.  But no lemon.  She likes everything sour.  I don't.

I have not used my Vitamix in over a week.  Really can't think of anything to make.  Perhaps some oat flour or rice flour or grinding up dry corn for cornmeal.  The dry blade does all that and makes peanut butter or almond butter as well.  Well, I could do those things.

I was trolling the channels and came upon HSN's Wolfgang Puck and his "pressure oven".  I have one traveling my way.  Everyone--on the net--says the machine is too expensive, too big etc etc but they agree that the food is just delicious cooked this way.  I can't wait to make chicken in it.  With brown crispy skin and still juicy.  Just like at the deli.

I am going to take a shower and try not to fall asleep immediately after.  I am exhausted.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


While driving to work this morning I passed two crows.  One on the left side of the road and one on   the right.  In the middle of the road was a squirrel.  Tummy side up.  Cars coming and going.


They waited.

I think the squirrel could have made better choices this morning.

I'm thinking I should be making better choices.
How about you?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Making Jelly

Will download pictures etc when I am done.  Already made 7 half pint jars with only a quarter of the juice I made earlier in the week.  Quite a lot of crystals in the juice when I strained it this morning.  Bad for the kidneys.

G has gone out for more sugar and I have washed and boiled more jars--quart jars this time.  Not interested in fussing with more of the small jars.

Still waiting for the figs to turn brown and ripen.  Sigh.  Fingers crossed that it happens.  I have 25 figs on the tree.

Oh, and Patty wants us to go get more grape (not) and pick peaches.  I tried peach jam last time but I don't think I chopped the peaches fine enough.  May try it again.  No room in the freezer.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

It's Raining. I'm Freezing Cold

The weather is changing and I am not eating enough fats to keep myself warm.  So, loading up with sweaters and such.  Socks.  I know it's not summer any more when I need to have socks on 24/7.

I am liking this green and pink, feathery look for my gardens.  Wonder what this plant is?  I don't know.  I do still have Jewels of Opar filling the container out front.  Talinium I think.  Or something spelled that way.  A froth of tiny flowers above succulent like leaves.

I took pictures of the juice making segment of making Concord grape jelly.  Yesterday.  I ended up with 5 quarts (too much).  It's not sweet or grapey but it is purple.  I am letting it sit and then will strain again in the jelly bag to remove the crystals tomorrow.  I will download the pictures when the jelly making happens.  Such a MESS. Grape stains everywhere and I think I used every pot, pan and spoon I own.  The compost pile is full of stems, grapes and the cooked grape pulp.  I may have to buy more sugar to get this juice to taste good.  Jelly is less forgiving than jam.  Took an entire day.

I haven't used my camera much at all this year.  The batteries wore out waiting.  I had to change them.  There are a number of things I haven't had any time for this summer.  This means I am doing things--wrong.  I need to find time to do the things I enjoy and not just work, work, work.

On my walk with my Janet yesterday, we found milkweed pods.  The community garden wanted some to start a bed for the Monarchs.  Lots of potential plants in the hundreds of seeds in each pod.  I have four that G collected on the daily dog walk.  I think I will find small bags to package them in for when customers ask for them in the Spring.  Janet says the Monarch are coming back.

Speaking of work.  Time to pack my lunch and head out.  Haven't used the Vitamix in a week.  Guess it's going back.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


I have had Russian Sage in my front garden bed for two (or is it three) full years.  It was supposed to look like this by now.  It doesn't.  So, I am going to have to dig the pitiful plants up and move them to a new location.  Again.  Why does it take me so long to get plants in the right spot? In my defense I got the heather right the first time.  I'm thinking the sage needs the same sort of spot.  Dry and sunny. Pitiful soil.  Neglect.  I am being "too kind" in the spot where it lives right now.  I guess.

Anyway.  Today I worked a Saturday because of a class I was teaching.  Bulbs.  It went well.  I have tomorrow off.  I am pretty much worn to the nub.  Working Tuesday to Saturday.  About 40 hours which is not usual for me.  Tomorrow no alarm clock.  Fingers crossed that I don't just wake up at 6 am anyway.

Tomorrow I am pulling all the turnips out of the garden.  The red onions.  The last of the jalapeños.
I am getting the garlic bed prepped for a new crop of garlic (even though I hardly eat any) because I think I will be sending a few nice fat heads to my son.  He likes it roasted.   In four months I will be starting more onions from seed.  The next garden season begins and ends in a loop.

I plan to finish my book (W is for Wasted) this weekend and start my next book (Marco Effect). I think you use up more calories reading than you do watching television.

My rash is gone.  Zyrtec.  My knee pain is back--the kind that was from fluid on the knee.  No swelling.  Too much walking on the uneven parking lot.  I had the big (really BIG) containers in the parking lot to empty and fill with Alberta Spruces and mums.  Lots of back and forth.  Too much.

Well that's my tale of woe for the end of September into October.  It's cold and wet here in Maine. But when the sun shines the colors of the Fall Trees are absolutely STUNNING against that pure blue Maine sky.  Love it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Always Some Kind Of Problem

I saw this delightful picture of cats doing Physics equations while the child is adding up legs and hands.  It feels like that some days.

The number on the scale went back to 2 this morning. (expletive)

I cut off all the bad parts of the remaining tomatoes.  Roasted half as a rough pasta sauce and made the rest into Tomato Basil Soup for G.  I also cored the last few red bell peppers and roasted them.

The Vitamix is here and I am using it to make cucumber, lemon, ginger water.  The machine completely changes the items into a pale green water.  No solids.  Tasty when I get the lemon part just right.  And when I remember to toss the foam.  Foam equals ICK.  Entire cucumber (peeled is best), entire half of lemon without peel.  Ginger with peel.  Using the cucumber with peel makes a very green liquid.  Not awful but more bitter than I like.  Or enjoy drinking.  54 ounces.

I don't think cucumber water is enough of a use to justify the cost of the machine.

Drinking that much cucumber water makes me feel woozy, wobbly and needing protein.

I must (MUST the teens at work shout!) join Pinterest so I can find better Vitamix Recipes.

I'm thinking of making the Tortilla Soup.  But I have no corn chips.  The Teens would be horrified.

I am also freezing banana chunks in case I decide to have a Banana Strawberry Smoothie.  The Teens at work say "it's awesome and I will love it".  The Teens are taking me under their wings. I'll be wearing Converse high tops any day now.

I think I will go with the soup (I can hear the Teens cheering).  Making it either the old fashioned way  (BOO!!!) or in the Vitamix.  I saw a tip that said to use hot water to shorten the blending time.  Six minutes of that very loud motor would hurt Riley's ears.  And without corn chips.  I'll add black beans. At the very end.

What a boring few days.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Internet Kicked Me To The Curb

It was that kind of week.  Friday afternoon I lost the internet and, I guess, the router.  We now have a new one and I am trying to catch up on all I missed in four days.

Fall is here in Maine.  The tree in front of my friend's house (down the street) is a brilliant RED!!! Can't miss it.  Our oaks are dropping leaves but the maples are holding out.  G says it's usually the other way around.  At work we are having the parking lot dug up to install drainage so the store doesn't fill with water when the snow melts.  Let's just say that Thursday was "something else" with cars, trucks, tractors (at least two) and everything else looking for a spot of driveway--all at the same time and employees hoping no one fell into a ditch.

G is back from his visit to his brother's home.  He had a really, really nice time.  I hope he makes it an annual or every couple year thing.  I have email addresses for family members wanting recipes.  That sounds like fun.  Riley and I enjoyed our time together as well and got back to that "special" relationship we had when G was still working.  I love that sweet dog.  And it was good to have G back home.  We both missed him.

The garden is closing itself up.  A few onions, one cabbage, the brussels sprouts and the red onions. G says the raspberries were a bit "moldy" when he went out to pick.  I hope he's wrong.  I also have jalapeños out there.  I'm hoping, if they stay out there longer, they will be hotter than the last batch I picked.

Well, that's all for now.  I need to eat something.  And, in diet news, the first number in my weight has changed from a 2 to a 1.  Made me very happy this morning.  The number I saw flicker by 6 days ago is now here for good.  Slow but sure.  Anyway.  That's what I hope it is.

Oh, and welcome to new Readers (and family) who chose to visit.  300 a day according to Blogger.
Now, if you would all send a comment--you know, to test the new router.  LOL

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A New Idea For The Carpenter If He Ever Comes Back

The layout would solve the "problem" of adding a shower to a bathroom that doesn't have a shower, but does have a washer and dryer.  I like the big glass door.  And the open shelving that keeps all the bathroom crap--well, somewhere else.  Two nice stacks of white towels (the only color they should come in) is "just right".  We'll need two sinks.  G says he is using this bathroom if it gets a shower. I was kind of hoping it would be all mine.  Like it is now.

My Vitamix arrived (5 days early).  As usual, all the things I thought I wanted to make in it--well, now that it's here with the recipe books, I can see why I didn't make anything last time.  Anyone reading this have one? Want to share a couple of "beginner" recipes with me? I saw a soup on Food52 that I think could be made in the Vitamix.  Just toss it all (except for cheese) into the thing and let it go for 5 minutes till it's hot.  Then add cheese and a few corn chips.

I need to go shopping if I make a smoothie.  No bananas and no apples.  And I think they put celery in all of them also.  None of that here either.  I could make a kale, cabbage and blueberry smoothie.  Not in the book but it's what I have on hand.  Pin Interest has lots of recipes but I'm not a member.

I also think I have the stuff to make the Tortilla Soup.  Which would be nice, maybe.

I froze the remainder of the pork.  Will be eating the rest of the sauerkraut for dinner.  Didn't get the pot roast in the oven (which was a mistake) and now I have to worry about it's sell or freeze by date.

Walked with Riley this morning and got lost.  I finally asked him to take me home and he did.  Who is walking whom??????  And I need to find out how to set the alarm so I can get up for work tomorrow.

In case anyone cares, I am wearing something I put into the "Medium Box of Clothing" this Spring.  It's an XL Bean fleece--a light one.  And I am reminded of feeling like a sausage in it's casing the last time I tried to wear it.  Today?  Just perfect.  Sort of a citrus lemon lime color.  Good for getting lost in the woods.  A Bean XL can be anything from a size 12 to a size 18.  You just never know.  Yes, dear Readers, in some fashion houses a 12 is very nearly plus size.  Thus--XL.

The two zip front vests in a pretty green and baby blue are also able to be zipped. And worn. Too bad the scale isn't getting the same message as the clothes.  But I'll take what I can get and be happy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I don't know if this is something I think of as Autumn begins.  Life.  How to live.  How to be happy in one's own skin.  It isn't always easy.  Well, it's not actually easy at all.

When did it become "natural" for humans to "want" so much?  When I watch Father Brown set in the 195o's and people "packed" everything they owned into the tiniest of suitcases.  We pack more to go to work each day.  Well, I do.  Water, cup, coffee, banana, jacket, extra socks, pills, lunch, wallet.

So much stuff.

G is going to visit his brother and I am going to be the dog's companion for a few days.  Riley will be missing his man.  I am moving all library books, catalogs and magazines to high places.  Riley "shreds" when he gets anxious.

I clean.  Today I attacked the orchid table.  Mealy bugs.  I sprayed, washed and sprayed again.  All the leaves, the pots, the sticks, the trays, the table, the window and the windowsills.  I even found mealy bugs on the bottom of the insecticide bottle.  So many bugs.

Then I washed the clothes I had on, the towels and myself.

My rash seems to be getting better.  Zyrtec.  Chamomile soap.  Burt's Bees Hand Salve on my face.
No itching.  No red rash.  No swelling.  Fingers crossed it stays this way.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pumpkin Time

Either you are buying Pumpkin Lattes from Starbucks or you are drinking Pumpkin Ale.  But not me. I even chatted with a woman in line at Walmart regarding the Libby's boxes of Pumpkin Bread Kits in her cart.  She laughed and admitted it's the only way she can make bread.  If Libby stops making it--well, she hopes they never do.   My grocery doesn't carry the "kits".  Does yours?

My eyes are burning.  That nasty rash is back and it didn't have anything to do with the retail job of last Fall.  There must be something in the air that I just don't get along with.  Rubbing my eyes feels so good---but then it itches 1,000 times more when I stop.  I have been going to bed with a cold wet compress on my eyes.  And my hands tightly clenched.

I bought a package of Zyrtec to try.  The Benadryl wasn't working.

I have MS's Southern Pulled Pork in the oven roasting.  I went to the grocery and the meat looked good so I am cooking meat this week.  A very nice pot roast on Tuesday.  I got everything prepped and in the oven before taking my allergy tablet.  I also have a French Cabbage Soup recipe to try. I ate the last of the Italian Carrot Soup yesterday at work.

It's very humid here in Maine.  No sun.  I am glad I worked yesterday and have today off.

Last night, as I was clicking thru the channels (trying) to find something to watch, I caught the very first 5 minutes of QVC's presentation on the new short Vitamix.  AND it came with the $144 dry blade and jar--free.  So I ordered it.  I chose the brown Espresso unit.  The dry blade and canister means I can grind nuts, grains and anything else into "flour" for use in gluten free recipes.  I can make oil, sugar and salt free peanut butter.  G wants to make 6 minute soups.  The short machine fits under the cabinets.  The one I bought (and returned unused in 30 days) was the tall model, no dry blade and stainless.  It just wasn't the right time for it.

I am going to try the margarita mix with one peeled orange, one peeled lime and one peeled lemon. And I may finally try a smoothie.  And one of the caller said she made the marinara sauce.  And it was so delicious she canned 80 jars of it already.  I am going to try that.

G is enjoying the Blueberry Jam I made for him.  Sigh.  That means he'll eat his way thru the 8 pint jars.  I gave number 9 to a co-worker and she opened it and tried a spoonful and swooned.  She has quite a sweet tooth (like G) and sprinkled two packs of sugar on her slice of birthday pie.  To make it extra sweet.

My son called me for my birthday and I took advantage and talked to him for almost 2 hours.  Thank you sweetie!!!  You sounded so happy--it made me happy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today's My Birthday

And I had a fantastic day.  I bought a big triple chocolate cake for my fellow employees and someone sweet tied a birthday balloon to my locker.  My face got tired because of all the smiling.

G and our daughter took me to a Mexican restaurant for a margarita and nachos.  Just what I wanted. We got there just as traffic was getting heavy and when we left people were on the sidewalk with little timers--waiting.  Just right.

On the way home my daughter and I thought about which of the 12 places we've lived-- that we still think about.  I mentioned one house (#11) that I still visit in my memory and walk through the rooms.  My daughter says the people who live there now must think the place is haunted.

It was a nice thing to do.

So, I had a very nice birthday.  G bought me a peach and raspberry pie because he thought a pie was better for my diet than a cake.  Guys!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's Our Anniversary

Forty Six Years.  And people who know us said we'd kill each other sooner rather than later.  Well, we're both still alive and we had dinner together this evening.

Life is such a surprise.  You think you are heading somewhere and then, 46 years later, you realize you went somewhere else (entirely) and...... it turned out to be better than anything you ever thought would happen.  Even the bad parts you never thought you would live through--- well, they led you to the good parts, eventually.  And would we have appreciated the good things if we hadn't suffered the bad things?  I think not.  I miss the people (friends) we left behind or lost completely by moving 12 times.  I would have liked to have had them with me for the entire lifetime.  I would have liked sitting down with them in another 20 years to tell stories and be reminded of the (our) past.

But I have you.  We haven't (all) been together for years and years, but some of you have been along since the 1980's (Marianne), and earlier (my children), but as long as there is Blogger I will be writing and sharing with you.  Telling stories.  Sharing memories.  Laughing.  Crying.  Etc.

And who would have imagined that back in 1968?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Hiccup In The Road

My PT has ended and my knee and hip pain return.  It's not that the PT was doing anything I could notice.  And I did wear a new pair of shoes to work two days in a row.  And I have been joining the dog on his morning walks (on uneven forest paths).  Add it all together and it's not surprising that I would be having trouble.  I tend to think of this blog as a journal of sorts so I will write this to remind myself.

I have a the link to the 10x10 art show.  There are over 100 entries and mine will be way at the end in the S's.  The sale itself will occur on September 26th.  I am wondering at the way I trimmed my pieces.  Leaving more space on the right than the left.  Oh, and if you click on the images, they appear in another window, much large and clearer.  In the one I can see that there was some additional texture in the painted background fabric to add interest.  Perhaps that was why?  I just don't know. Next year I may do pastels or just go ahead and paint.  I do know how to paint.

The mums and asters are coming in by the cartful as people switch out their annuals for fall mums. The hay and straw bales are piled up.  Could pumpkins  and Halloween be far away???  Christmas hasn't arrived at my workplace yet, but I see it everywhere else.

The September full (super) moon brought freezing temps to the north western part of Maine.  I have already started wearing a sweater and socks-- not everyday, but some of them.  Today, my day off it's cold, I intend to go foraging in the garden for tomatoes and peppers (I think the peppers are done) and pull the red onions.  G was grilling a steak a few days ago and I had him throw a few peppers and the remainder of of oriental eggplant (long thin) on the grill to char.  I had the peppers and eggplant in an omelet for supper.

When did we stop eating meals together?  When I stopped eating what could be called "a meal".

I am trying to continue  drinking the cucumber slices, lemon and mint water but it has NEVER tasted as good as the first batch.  Not cucumber-y enough.  That first cucumber must have been the best one I owned.  I was compelled to drink more and more water with the first batch.  Now I am forcing myself to drink.

I cleaned out the "new" fridge's freezer in anticipation of the loaner fridge going back to Loew's.  Got rid of things that had been in there over a year.  Last summer's blueberries.  I don't have space for this summer's blueberries so I am making blueberry jam with most of the berries I froze. G thinks he might eat it. (might)  My figs haven't ripened and the cooler weather isn't helping.  I might suggest dragging the tree and pot into the sunporch.  But we might lose the figs while dragging the very heavy pot into the house.  I also have more tomatoes to deal with and I have to decide whether I am planting garlic this fall.  I don't use much garlic.  I think it makes people stink.

I have two zucchini which I will be making into fritters.  The last of them.  And I will be slicing cucumbers for the very last of the cucumber and sour cream salads.  I think we have enough of everything to make one final caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella and toasted baguette.  A very busy day in the kitchen.  Saturday ends up being an all day cooking day.  Some sort of pasta ends up being our evening meal, depending on what I have from the garden that needs using up--pronto.

And then I need to start closing down the garden.  I still have green beans and October raspberries to look forward to (sans yellow jackets) and the B. sprouts but the rest needs pulling and carting to the compost bin.  Too soon the garden will be covered in snow.

The diet has stalled once again.  My clothes are looser.  I am calling it a "win".

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I Never Know Where I Am Going & Top Ten

Even as I select photos for the top of each post.  I think the image I selected has hanging light fixtures I am fond of right now.  I wonder where one finds them?

One...I have to clean up my reading list in the sidebar.  Not what I am interested in right now.
My interests seem to fade.  I really like something and then over time, while I am not paying attention, I find I really don't care anymore for that "thing".  I liked kale for awhile but now that it is growing in my garden, I couldn't care less.

Two...I think I am at the point where I need to decide if I want to keep working full time, go to part time, stop, or find a new job.  I absolutely love my job when I am busy helping customers.  But we don't have as many customers.  And that's the rub.

Three... I followed a co worker's instruction for a Detox drink.  Water, sliced cucumbers, lemons and mint.   Drinking water isn't something I take to easily.  But this stuff is easy to drink for some reason. I have had 64 ounces a day for two days now.  Dropped 1.5 pounds.  Of bloat.  As a rule I don't follow "fads" so this is not typical of my behavior.  And I am amazed that I can drink so much of this, so easily.  The many, many trips to the restroom--  well, it keeps me busy at work. (smile)

Four...Dieting isn't for sissies.  It's difficult and unendingly disappointing.  Sure there are high spots but they are few and far between.  Hard fought for as well.  I have finally after 8 weeks made it to a 12 pound loss (the last 2 pounds due completely to the detox water).  This is good.  But for the sacrifices I am making (not being able to eat any delicious food), it doesn't seem like "enough".  I would be a terrible member of AA.

Five...The September Full Moon brought temps of 57 to Maine and freezing temps to part of north western Maine.  The garden season is coming to a "full stop" I think.  I have a counter full of peppers turning red.  The tomatoes I picked aren't ripening as I had hoped.  I have lots of carrots to pull.
I am not ready for cooler weather yet.  I am not ready to pull on a wool sweater and to never be without heavy socks.  I am just "not ready".

Six... My birthday is in ten days.  I was chatting with two doctors (customers) buying aloe plants. They said 1 teaspoon of aloe sap (the goo) a day fights any bad cells in your body (cancer) and helps you live longer, healthier.   I mentioned my birthday and my hope of reaching 100 years.  We did the math and I have 32 more years if I live to be 100.  One of the doctors said I looked very good for my present age--and to "keep up the good work".  The only thing I could think he noticed was my sparkly eyes and interest in his aloe info.  He slips the daily teaspoon of aloe into a smoothie as the stuff is very bitter and terrible tasting.  He lost me at "smoothie".

Seven....I am roasting red peppers today, grilling the bag of thin oriental eggplant (before they rot) and making yet another batch of zucchini fritters.  Still trying to get it to taste like it did the very first time.  I have enough zucchini in the fridge for two batches of fritters.  Then I will have to move on to another vegetable.  A winter fritter.

Eight... I wore "real shoes" to work yesterday.  Mainly because I could tie them yesterday (let's be honest here).  My feet and ankles (and frequently my knee) have been swollen since May.  And now, finally, my feet are less puffy.  The shoes less tight.  The ankles are still cankles.  The shoes are sort of a cross between walking shoes and shoes. I think you could walk in them but not hiking or power walking.  They are too lightweight. Supportive but I can feel the stones in the walkways at work.  Street walking shoes.  (now I have made myself laugh).

Nine....G is wanting to "go out to eat" today.  I am trying to think of where we could go with something "good to eat" for me.  Going to a restaurant and getting a salad, isn't good enough.  Going to a Mexican restaurant last time and getting a piece of grilled chicken and steamed broccoli--terribly sad.  I would rather just not go and skip the disappointment and sadness.

Ten...My last PT appointment is later this afternoon.  Not much has changed or improved.  I enjoyed the visits and the exercises but my symptoms are exactly as they were before we began.  I still have difficulty going up stairs (down is good).  My knee still hurts occasionally.  I am still having trouble getting up off the couch (knees) and walking after sitting for any period of time.  I have to constantly remind myself to stand straight (upright) as it is more comfortable to tip forward.  The "old people's way of walking".  I may put the peppers in to roast and put on my real walking shoes and go for a walk.  30 minutes or more.  Make a habit of it.

Here I go.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Tomato Jam

At the end of the garden season there are lots of "not so nice" tomatoes being brought into the house.  Not nice enough to slice for Caprese Salad or a tomato sandwich.  But good enough for tomato soup and tomato jam.

I have been roasting the cherry tomatoes for winter sauces ( a sheet pan to hold washed cherry tomatoes, a few gluts of olive oil and roast at 425 until most of the tomatoes have a black or brown roasted look--- then cool and scoop into freezer bags--any extra liquid should be saved to make rice or soup) and I did one roasted tomato/onion, garlic clove batch which became dinner.  But my favorite use for the tomatoes with blemishes, rotten spots and general blah looks is tomato jam.

Tomato Jam
5# of tomato "parts" rough chopped (approximate)
one onion, chopped
½ cup brown sugar
1.5 cups white sugar (use less if feels right to you--it is a jam)
1 teas.  salt
1 teas  ground cinnamon
¼ teas ground cloves
¼ teas ground cumin  (actually use the spices you like in ketchup--add grated ginger if you like it)
½ cup apple cider vinegar (you could also squeeze in a lemon)

Bring to a gentle boil, turn to a simmer and let go on the back burner for about 4 hours.
I pile everything (and don't measure) in my big All Clad 4 quart saucepan.  To the top.
When it cooks down to the bottom quarter of the pan--it's done.  Usually thick, dark and shiny.
This can be water bath canned for 15 minutes (with canning lids  etc) for longer storage.
Trust me on this, the first time you make it you will eat it ALL in a few days.

This is good (excellent) used in any way you used ketchup.  With fries, on a burger etc. Or just on a spoon.  Grilled cheese?

I brought in more green peppers that have 30% or more red on them to ripen (all red) on the kitchen counter.  I packed the red peppers in the freezer into bags and filled the tray again with more red pepper strips.  I like them in a morning frittata for breakfast.

I have decided to solve my freezer storage space dilemma by only having fruits and vegetables in the freezer.  So, I would be buying meat on an as needed basis instead of storing it in the freezer for a couple years and then tossing it.  Best to be honest about what actually happens in the freezer.

I eat all the fruit (other than blueberries) pretty quickly in my yogurt lunches.  Peppers go quickly in chili and frittatas.  The tomatoes get used up faster than I like for pasta sauces and soup.  Frozen rolls of parsley leaves get used up also.

I pretty much eat the zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers as they are picked.  Those zucchini fritters are my new best friend.  And the frozen ratatouille is delicious and low calorie with exactly 4 ounces of dry measure pasta.  I am doing a very good good of using what I grow.  And what is wasted goes into the compost bucket.

I made some salsa this afternoon with my tomatoes, my onion and my jalapeños.  The jalapeños had no heat.  So that was a disappointment.  Anyone know why that would happen.  The July ones were hot.

G and I finished off the five seasons of Damages last night (after midnight).  Now we have to find something new to watch when regular television is boring.  We have also been watching the tennis, which is being rained out as I type.  Rain is coming to Maine as well.  I have a good book to read by one of my favorite authors Robotham.

Got to turn on some lights.  The sky is darkening.  And I have to check on the tomato jam and give it a stir.  It's very watery today so will need a bit longer on the stove.  Stay dry!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Time To Find Recipes Using Cabbage

My cabbages are nice and big.  They need to be picked.  But where to store them?  I got carried away again and planted too many.  Three cabbages are enough when I am the only one eating them.  I think I only planted three but it looks like six.  Good thing they are "keepers" and will still be around after everything else is compost.  One cabbage is reserved for my birthday pot roast dinner.  Cole slaw. With my home grown carrots.  Yum.

Now that all the college and high school kids are gone, we are down to the "nub" with the number of employees working shifts.  Like 3 where there were 8.  I have been doing Floral calls (along with everything else).  I like it.  But won't say so as that is the "kiss of death" to any opportunity to stay there.  Happiness isn't a concept my employer approves of.

Only one more PT appointment.  Nothing is completely better.  Nothing is worse.  I have a series of good exercises to do which I am actually doing.  The foot doctor recommends that I call for an appointment if I "need one" but otherwise it was nice to meet me and goodbye.  I guess I am fine now.  Still tape-ing my toes.  There is some improvement and my knee pain is manageable.  We think the toes and the knee are linked.  It's all in the way I walk. And one hip is still higher than the other no matter how many stretches I do.  So I am "off side".

My diet sucks.  I am doing everything right and I am re-gaining weight.  Yep.  I lost almost 10 pounds and now it is all coming back.  But, and here is the mystery of dieting, part, I am wearing a smaller size that I couldn't fit into before.  My husband says it's all water.  Because it's in the mid to high 80's here in Maine.  I might have to start wearing a ring.  I always knew if I was retaining water by how snug or loose my ring was.

So, all of August was doctors, diet and water retention.

The fridge is still working.  I am reconsidering the items that once were in the fridge.  I threw away a bunch of things in the freezer section that had been there so long, I forgot what they were.  Un- labeled things went.  Things with more frost that food--went.  Last year's blueberries went.  Upstairs in the fridge I am second guessing bottled things we never use, all the flax and almond meal I used to make things that pretended to be bread, and the vast amounts of chocolate.  Why?  I think I thought I would be eating 78% dark chocolate as a low carb snack.  Not!!!!!  Too much caffeine and it tastes bad.  I will try and keep it until December and make bark to give as gifts.

Pretty soon we will have to return the loaner fridge to Lowe's.  I will miss it very much.  I liked having an empty freezer when I had trays of berries to freeze.  When I had trays of peppers to freeze. Which reminds me I have a tray of red pepper strips in there right now which I need to pack into a freezer bag.

I am going to fold the load of laundry I tossed into the dryer before work, go out an fill my garden basket with more tomatoes, peppers and see if the zucchini gods have gifted me with "just one more" zucchini.  Perhaps a few more cucumbers.  There are still October raspberries and the figs to wait for.
It's a small garden but it is bountiful and I try my very best to make use of it all

Monday, September 01, 2014

September Arrives

With an overnight shower.  Not the heavy rain we expected.   And this morning is sunny and very  humid from the rain.   I slept until 9am.  I have been very tired lately.  In body and mind.

The condition of the late summer garden isn't uplifting.  It all looks so tired, weedy and finished. I still have tomatoes, peppers and potatoes to harvest but the plants are reclining, have yellowed leaves.  And my green beans haven't even gotten started yet due to late planting. The chard looks fresh and young.  My carrots are a success for the first time.

I spent Saturday pouring boiling water into a yellow jacket nest in the old, unused compost pile.  The safest way to take care of the hive.  My raspberry canes were full of jackets.  And G got stung.  Five times I think on his hands.  They seem to side step me.  I gave up on the raspberries weeks ago.  I am hoping the October crop of berries will be enough to satisfy my hunger for raspberries.  I gave up picking blueberries.  11 quarts is too many.  Let the birds have the rest.

I used my own onions and carrots to make Italian Carrot Soup.  I had no heavy cream so used the thick cream of a can of TJ"s coconut cream (discarding the water).  The soup now has a slightly sweet taste I just don't care for in an earthy soup.  A disappointment.  I am now wondering whether to eat it (with disappointment) or just compost it all.  The latest batch of zucchini fritters was (is) a disappointment also.  I guess it wasn't a good day for me to be cooking.

Yesterday I cut apart a bunch of ripe tomatoes with bad spots, cracks etc and roasted them in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours with two fresh picked onions, some garlic and rosemary.  I served the roasted mess with pasta.  It was very good.  The alternative was a pot of tomatoes for Tomato Jam.  But then I would have to do the water bath.  I just didn't have it in me.

I wore a pair of size 16 pants I purchased in June of 2013 yesterday.  They stopped fitting at some point before the cold weather arrived.  I wore mostly size 20 pants during the winter and into spring.
It was the high point of my day on Sunday.  The scale shows no movement in weight loss but the fit of my clothing tells quite another story.  So, I will listen to my clothes while the scale tells me I have lost 9.5 pounds (the same thing it has said for 2 weeks) which is still a very good number but not what I had worked for.  I am drinking plenty of water today as I am walking with a friend at 1:30.

That's about all I have to write today.   I have housekeeping chores to do which will keep me busy. I have a second book to read (which will make three books in a row) and a visit to the garden to pick tomatoes.  I have a row of peppers turning bright red on the counter and I need to cut them into strips for the freezer.  I like my peppers red.  Oh, and jalapeños to pick and share with a friend who likes to make "poppers".  G says it is horribly humid outside.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

End Of August & Garden Report

The peppers are turning red.  In the house.  I gave up on the sun doing the work and have started cutting green bell peppers that show a bit of color change.  It takes a few days of rotation on the kitchen island, but eventually I have red peppers.  Which I will clean and slice and freeze. I have a few yellow pepper plants and will try and see if I can get them to change color in the house as well.

Which brings me to the news that the fridge is still working 4.5 days after the new fan was installed. I am slowly moving things into the kitchen fridge from the sunporch fridge.  But now I have to face the fact that the 10 quarts of frozen blueberries won't fit in the kitchen freezer section.  And the four quarts of frozen raspberries, and the one quart of frozen jalapeños.  And I have two quarts of the smallish blackberries.  The easiest solution is jam.  But I prefer thawed fruit in my daily yogurt.  Not jam. Not to mention the many containers of frozen ratatouille. And I haven't begun to slice and freeze all the bell peppers.

Today I am using the leeks and carrots in the sunroom fridge to make an Italian Carrot Soup with canned white beans and cream (which I will eat and not freeze).  Well, perhaps not the cream as it went bad in the fridge.  The use by date.  I got used to having a pint on hand during low carb days.  Not so much these days.

I also have two very nice, heavy cabbages to use.  I picked up and older copy of Vegetarian magazine where I discovered a recipe for vegetable stir fry.  I think I may also start doing a stir fry for my dinner.  Onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots with some sort of sauce.  The sauce is the key thing here.  Anyone have a favorite stir fry sauce they might care to share?

I am also doing laundry today.  Two and most likely three loads.  G and I certainly do fill the dirty clothes basket.  He is working one day a week for Habitat building storage sheds.  G also made lots of holes in his work pants.  I think he gets caught on things and just pulls his way off.  Making a nice hole in the pocket or next to a pocket.  Tough areas for mending.

I have two new books from the library.  Romances.  Summer Porch Reading Material.

Well, I am going to start on my carrot soup.  I also want to take a long walk.  Drink lots of water.  See if I can get closer to my goal for the end of week 7.   I am way off but haven't done anything bad according to the food diary so I am confused (and feeling defeated).  I also have more PT exercises to do. Work tomorrow but only a half day.  Tuesday I have another visit with my foot doctor.  I don't see a lot of progress in my toes but it took a long time for them to get this bad.

Happy Labor Day on Monday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Trying To Find Balance In Weight Loss

The ups and downs of diet this time around--well, I seem to have lost my patience.  But then, I contemplated the past SEVEN YEARS and I did find a pattern.  One that has been there for the entire time, one I noticed, but a pattern I disregarded.

My weight dips to a number that thrills my soul.  Then it goes back up the next day.  I dissolve in doubt and self recrimination.  This is where I fall off the wagon, usually.  This time, due to age and exhaustion, I just sigh "oh, bother!" and keep going.  In a few days, the number reappears and stays put until another unexpected drop in numbers occurs and disappears.  I think it is mostly that I need to be drinking more water.

On more exciting news.  The fan part was installed in the fridge.  Started right up and was still working when I woke up this morning.  We are still feeling insecure.  I have 5 ears of corn, some cut up watermelon and my coffee creamer in there.  I told G we would be transfer things to the "now working" fridge as we used them.  Not a mass exodus from the sunroom loaner.  I still don't have trust that the fridge will keep working.

I ventured into the backyard of my daughter's house, at dusk, to pick blackberries.  Did I tell you this already?  Not the big berries I harvested from my own thicket last summer.  These are the small ones. I may go back tomorrow after work.  I got about a quart of them.  Only two mosquito bites.  I may just have to dress in heavy canvas work pants, long sleeved jacket and boots and try to fight my way into the overgrown mess in my yard to collect the small wild berries.  IF that is all there will be--then that's what I will have to make do with this year.  I had wanted a blackberry pie. Before the diet.
But pie can be a part of a diet if eaten instead of lunch and dinner.

PT continues to go well.  My therapist and I get along like friends who have known each other for years and years.  Isn't it odd how that happens.  Will the friendship continue of end when my therapy ends?  I guess I know the answer to that.

I am working the afternoon shift today.  It's a long afternoon and very boring.  I have an orchid and a pot arriving from our mother ship store.  I have to pot it up for a 60th birthday gift.  I could also take my own orchids in and repot them.  It feels like I should be on vacation.  Sleeping late, reading books, sewing something.  August stuff.

Next month is my birthday.  68.   "oh, bother!"