Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Parade! San Antonio Style

Click on the picture to make it bigger and hit the back button to return to the blog.

This morning we went downtown with the kids to see the stockshow and rodeo parade. In San Antonio they drive longhorn cattle down Houston Street to the Alamo. We lined up with hundreds of others about 2-3 blocks from the Alamo. It was cold (38 degrees) and a bit breezy which made it quite chilly. I was glad I had left my gloves in my pockets. Alyssa was cold in her sweatshirt jacket so she and Grampa waited for the parade to start in a spot of sunshine. (the tall buildings blocked the sun from where we stood to see the parade).

Waiting for the parade in a sunny spot

Finally we heard a band and a Samba group came by dancing

Then we waited about 10-15 more minutes before the cowboys came on their horses and finally the longhorns! I was thinking it would be this large herd like you read about in western novels but it was only about 20 steers but they were big and their horns were huge!

Here come the Longhorns!

Grampa thought they were at least 12 - 15 years old in order for the horns to be that big. After the cows came the Vacaros on horseback doing roping tricks with their lariets.

Swinging his lariet!

There were Buffalo Soldiers in their Union uniforms,

Some of the Buffalo Soldiers

a ladies horse drill team, an Indian man and woman dressed in buckskins,

Beautiful buckskins!

a pack horse loaded up and headed for the stock show,

That horse is loaded down!

and several horse drawn wagons.

Heading out to the Stock Show in San

The parade ended with the street sweeper to clean up after the cows and horses!

Micah found a spot they missed and we had to do a major clean up at the car!

When they took down the barricades we walked down a block to the Riverwalk and walked along it for a short distance to the Alamo.

Along the Riverwalk with Grampa's Sami and Susie!

Headed for the waterfalls along the Riverwalk

We went over to it and walked around the gardens and looked at the historical plaques and canons(a big hit with the girls!).

At the Alamo

The girls liked the flags in the gardens

Then we headed for the car. Grampa was tired of walking! Apparently so was Nattie since she fell asleep almost as soon as we got into the car. A fun time was had by all and the longhorns were really very impressive.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Little Nat Goes Shopping

It's a rainy, blustery day here today. Grampa and I are baby sitting with Natalie while Kim and Samara are at Mother's Day Out. Natalie usually goes too but she is recovering from ear infections in both ears so we stayed home with her. We ended up taking her shopping because there was still money on the $100 gift card at Target and we had forgotten to buy underwear for the Haitian orphans. Natalie and I went into the store and I am so out of practice taking care of little ones that I had given her a fruit rollup for a snack on the way to the store and as I took her out of the car I realized she was sticky from head to toe and her whole face had a kinda green shade to it. (not from sickness but from candy dye!) We spent quite a bit of time getting cleaned up in the store bathroom and finally went to get the biggest packages of underwear we could find. Then I realized I didn't know how to translate dress sizes to underwear sizes for kids. My mind is really slipping I guess since I did have 4 children of my own to buy clothes for! We finally asked for help and got the right sizes I hope! Then I decided they probably needed boys underwear too so I hunted around for big packages of them too.

As we were headed for the checkout Natalie and I went by a Valentine Day special on little skirts with shorts attached. Just what Kim and I had looked for yesterday and didn't find at a reasonable price. These were $4 each so I found the right sizes and the least "valentiney" looking ones that were not white. And got those so then we had to pick out matching tops. Very cute outfits if I do say so myself. Of course we went quite a bit over the $8 we had left over but we did get a bunch of stuff to send down for the children!

Our next stop was the church to drop off the clothes and then on to the grocery store. By this time it had quit raining but was still windy. It also was time for us to be getting back home and feeding Nattie lunch and a nap. Grampa and Little Nat had a few rounds in the grocery store over sitting down in the cart and throwing shoes and blankie out of the cart. Grampa finally put the shoe she threw out in his pocket and the blankie on the bottom shelf of the cart. Nattie was happy so no big deal. About 4 people had to tell me she was missing a shoe as we left for the car! Now we are home and a very overtired Natalie finally is asleep. I think Grampa is too! She is wearing him out but he needs the exercise so it is good for him! In about 1/2 hour we are going to take Alyssa to her gymnastics (if Natalie is not awake I think I will just go and Grampa can stay here with her.) Kim and Mara are going to help pack up the stuff for the airplane trip to Haiti.

I still haven't decided on what to have for dinner but I'll figure something out. The cake is going to wait until Micah's birthday in a few days so that's not on today's list after all. Well, I'm going to get the kitchen cleaned up now if I have time. No pictures yet but soon.....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Relief for Haitian Orphans

We had quite a busy day today. Kim has become very involved with the groups who are trying to bring Haitian orphans to the US. A friend from her church called this morning to let her know that someone from their church was flying his own plane down to Haiti Friday and they needed to take down medicines and clothing for the orphans. Kim volunteered to call pharmacies, Walmart, Target, etc. to see if they could donate Amoxycillin (sp?) and cold remedies, tents, sleeping bags, etc., etc. While she spent all day calling and being frustrated ( short notice does not work well for large corporations), Samara and I cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed. Kim did get Target to donate $100 gift card, so we went there to get as much as we could with the money. It was really heart warming to see how the people working in the store were willing to help us. The pharmacist gave us names of several drug manufacturers to call to see if they would donate the Amoxycillan since they needed prescriptions in order to distribute drugs at Target. She also spent a lot of time helping us select the right cold remedies at the most reasonable prices. The store manager apologized for not being able to help us more on such short notice and encouraged us to send him a list of what all was needed so he could distribute it to more Target stores in the area. We went over to Old Navy and got a couple outfits for some children who showed up at the place where the orphans were staying in Haiti with nothing, not even clothes!

On the way home, we heard from a pharmacist Kim had left a message at. He said he only needed a Dr. to come to pick up the Amoxycillin. It turns out that the man who owns the plane and is flying down is a Dr. so he can pick up the penicillin (sp?). The pharmacist gave names and phone numbers of several other pharmacists who he thought would donate drugs too.

We got home about 5 PM and Kim had to go to class at 6. We had dinner in the crock
pot and Grampa was doing the baby sitting. We were all pooped and emotionally drained by this evening! The man who is flying down to Haiti made a video and it is on youtube. Here it is below:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Driving Through Texas

We finally are here in San Antonio! We have been driving for two days and most of the miles were in the state of Texas. We spent a lot of time in Colorado but that was because we had to drive down Cameron Pass with no snow tires on icy roads and then drive through Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs. Anyway... We have spent some time driving in Texas over the past few years and I am so impressed with how the scenery changes as we are driving. I am one that loves to look out the windows and "get into" my surroundings. I also love driving through towns and cities and viewing the types of buildings and wondering how it would be to live there.

Up around Dalhart last night we could smell smoke for miles and miles. It smelled like burnt hay or some kind of grass. It was very irritating to my breathing and even my eyes. I wondered how people could stand to live around there if this was something they had to put up with every year at this time. It was dark and we could not see any fires burning. I am left wondering what was going on!

When we got to Amarillo we planned to stay there overnight. We got on a wrong turn off and wandered around town for quite a while. We saw some different parts of town and finally drove through the downtown area without finding any place to stay that interested us. We had about decided to go on toward Lubbock when we found a satisfactory place to stay.

The next day we drove through miles and miles of cotton fields. Bob was very impressed with this farm country. It was flat as a pancake! We saw no oil wells in this part of Texas! Then we were in an area of scrubby trees and pretty desolate looking land. It was not quite as flat and not many houses or farms. Then came farm land again and ranches with cattle and sheep and lots of oil wells! Finally we were in the hill country. It is beautiful and the towns are picturesque with lovely old homes, antique shops, and museums. San Antonio is right on the edge of the hill country.

We have driven between Dallas and San Antonio and it is a whole different landscape. There are two towns I really liked. One is Glen Rose, which a man I dubbed Mr. Texas Chamber of Commerce, recommended to us on our cruise and the other is Hico a very small town not far from Glen Rose. They are my kind of towns in a very pretty part of Texas. I could live in either one of those towns.

We have taken the southern route from San Antonio to Houston and then east to the border. Again with a changing landscape. The Houston/Galvaston area was still quite devastated by hurricane IKE when we drove though last year. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the last milepost before we left Texas was 875 (or maybe even a few more miles! My memory is not as good as it used to be.) I hope to get some pictures from around here to post later. That's it for tonight, I'm too tired to make much sense!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tapping the Maple Trees and Favorite Pancakes

Yesterday JJ called me and mentioned that she had gone online to find a recipe for yeast pancakes. It reminded me of my mom's (Pug's) raised pancakes--a real treat she made for us on special occasions. We always had them with real maple syrup, many times our own home made maple syrup. When we were very young Dad decided it would be a very educational experience for us to tap the maple trees on our property. He must have read up on it and made his own equipment for the project. I kind of remember going with him to do the tapping. He had a hand drill with a very wide bit--maybe 1/2 to 3/4 inch. He drilled a hole in each tree--I think we had 5 or 6 trees in the yard and later I think he tapped some more down in the backwoods. Anyway he had made these tin V shaped spouts that he put in the hole and there was a nail or some kind of a hook to hang the bucket on. We would go collect the sap every afternoon after school and take it to Pug. She put it in a big pan and boiled it down until it was syrupy. Yummmmm! it was so good. We also boiled some down until it went to sugar and had some maple candy too!. I think we tapped those trees for many years.

To get back to the raised pancakes. I remember a Thanksgiving when many of our family were gathered. We decided to have raised pancakes for breakfast the next day and I didn't have a recipe. Mom had been in the hospital for a heart attack in Florida but had just come home. I called her and she gave me her recipe over the phone. We made the pancakes and as we were eating them at breakfast, Dad called to tell us that Mom had died in her sleep that night. I always associate my last talk with Mom with those pancakes.

Another kind of pancakes that we served with pure maple syrup were Pug's Buckwheat pancakes. Buckwheat Pancake suppers were a huge fund raising deal in Pennsylvania. We had been to several put on by the Melcroft Fire Department while we were visiting Mom and Dad at their summer home. They always served them with syrup and sausage patties. When Mom and Dad sold their PA home and took up residence in Florida, Pug kept up the tradition and would invite up to 40 people to come to her Buckwheat Pancake suppers. They were the social event of the season at Sun and Lakes!

The year after Mom died Carla and Jim were visiting Dad about the time they had always held the big supper. Mom was always very organized and kept lists of who was to be invited and the recipes for the big day. When Carla arrived in Florida Dad told her they would be hosting the supper and turned the whole event over to her! No big deal as far as Dad was concerned. Well, Carla is no cook and paniced. She called me wondering what to do. Dad, cf course, had invited all the guests and was getting his part of the job done putting in supplies for serving the drinks! I gave what advice I could and wished her luck! Luck did come in to play with a surprise visit from Mom's cousin Darwin and his wife Birdie. They helped Carla and Jim out and the party went off without a hitch. Dad just never did figure out that everyone wasn't as special as Pug was when it came to entertaining. To be honest with you I really don't like the taste of buckwheat cakes but with enough maple syrup I could eat them okay.

Another pancake memory I have is of Dad's Hoe Cakes. These originally were made, I think, in workers camp sights over the fire. They are a type of corn meal pancake that they fried on hoes over the fire. Dad always was our breakfast maker and he made some really elaborate breakfasts from time to time. I loved his Hoe Cakes best of all. My memory of them was that they were kind of thin and crisp and almost lacy. We put butter and good old maple syrup on them and they were delicious. I have tried for years to duplicate them but have not quite got it right yet. I wonder if they came from Mrs. Rorer's Cookbook. All the ones I have found are way too thick and floury. I don't know, maybe Dad made his own recipe! The last ones I made were the closest so I kept adjusting the flour down until they almost made it! Anyhow, I will try to get it close for this blog! Two of the recipes I am giving today are in Pug's "shorthand" so they don't look standard. Here they are:

Pug's Buckwheat Cakes (for 5 people)

For the Sponge: Prepare the night before and let sit out:
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
add 1/4 Cup water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
add enough flour to make a sponge (a thin batter)

The next day:
Add 2 C. water
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
Approximately 1 5/8 pound Buckwheat flour
Two hours before, stir up and keep at room temperature. You may not have to do this that early but give it time to raise again before you fry them.
Fry on a hot griddle like you do pancakes and serve with butter, maple syrup and sausage patties.

(For 40 people)

1 Cup yeast
1 pint water
4 Tbsp sugar
Enough flour for sponge

Next day
2 gallons water
1 1/2 Cups sugar
3/4 Cups oil
Approx. 6 1/2 pounds Buckwheat flour

Pug's Raised Pancakes
(Approx. 10 People)

Sponge Make the night before and let sit out:
2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 C. water1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Cup flour

Next morning add
2 Cups milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Oil
2 Eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Cups flour
Stir and let sit until it starts to raise or some bubbles start to come up. About 45 min.-1 hour.
Fry like pancakes on the griddle and serve with butter and maple syrup.

Hoe Cakes
(I just found it! From Mrs. Rorer's Cookbook. I'm pretty sure this is Dad's recipe)

1 pint (2 cups) corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
Sufficient water to make a batter

Put the corn meal into a bowl, and add the salt; Pour boiling water over it to just moisten the corn meal. Let stand 10 minutes. Then add the water until the batter will drop nicely from a spoon. "Bake the same as griddle cakes on a hot griddle or hoe." When done put a bit of butter on top and serve.

" The old colored cooks in the South used to make these to perfection, and baked them on their hoes--hence the name--over a wood fire."
From Mrs. Rorer's Philadelphia Cookbook . I can't find the date but it is very old, probably from the 1800's.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Coffee Time!

As I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning, absently watching the birds eat and drinking my coffee, I got to thinking about some of the best coffees I've had and how I happened to acquire a taste for them. In our travels around the world we have been to at least 3 coffee growing countries that have been memorable.

The first was when we visited Kenya. We went to a tea farm and then a coffee farm. We saw how the coffee was grown and roasted in the sun which gave it a most delicious flavor which I still love. If I get an opportunity to buy Kenyan coffee I always do but of course drinking it in Nairobi was the best! Nairobi is probably one of my most favorite places that I have visited. I don't know how it is now as we were there in the 1970's. It was a beautiful city with jacaranda trees in full bloom in the center of the streets and the bouganveillia in full bloom all over the city, too. The people were extremely friendly and we had a lovely visit.

Another country known for its coffee that we visited was Jamaica. The most famous Jamaican coffee comes from the Blue Mountains and some of it is very expensive--like $14 per pound! We did not get into the Blue Mountains or visit a coffee farm there but we did visit some farms that grew some coffee along with other crops. We even saw a farm that grew cocao (chocolate). I tried some fresh raw chocolate and it was horrible! Nothing like what we are used to. It was a kind of nut that had white flesh and was sort of juicy but very bitter and I think they said it was not good to try to eat very much of it (as I was spitting out what I had tried!). At the end of our farm tour a man was selling Blue Mountain coffee at a reasonable price so I got some. It was probably a rip off but it wasn't bad. It wasn't particularly outstanding either but I used mine up and I guess those that I bought it for did too.

The last place we visited was when we went on our cruise through the Panama Canal. We spent a day in Costa Rica and the main part of that day was at the Cafe Britt coffee farms. They are very tourist oriented with tour guides that put on quite a show about the history of coffee and particularly Costa Rican coffee. Cafe Britt is an American owned farm and they have changed the way coffee is grown and marketed in all of Costa Rica in the past few years. Not sure how long ago but in recent times. We got to go out and rake the coffee beans as they dried and got the whole tour of the facility. Then we were served a lovely buffet luncheon and then of course we were allowed to visit their store and buy our coffee. Part of the tour included a demonstration on how to make the perfect cup of coffee and I learned something new. You should never pour boiling water over your coffee as you are making it! You bring the water to a boil and let it sit a minute or so and then pour it over the coffee. They explained why but I have forgotten! What kind of a teacher am I anyway? I guess retirement has made me soft! Anyway, their coffee was delicious and if I ever run across some Cafe Britt coffee from Costa Rica, I will certainly get it!

I used to drink my coffee black and strong but since I got my lapband I have to drink it kind of weak and with cream. I never used to like "frou frou" coffee either but Starbucks and all the other places with their Lattes and Cappacinos have won me over. I love caramel lattes but mochas and all kinds of mixtures work for me too. I hate how expensive they are but I still drink them and they feel so good on my lapband!

Here are some pictures from Costa Rica and the Cafe Britt.

Our Tour Guides at the Cafe Britt. They are wearing typical coffee farming outfits.

Coffee beans!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting Ready to Leave

Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them. Click the back browser to return to the blog.

I'm sitting here watching the birds eat and trying to figure out a way to make the birdseeds last for the 2-3 months we will be gone. I hope they (the birds, squirrels and mink) find a new place to be fed! My peanut butter balls get eaten up in less than a day now! I think the squirrels are hauling them away to their nests for future eating--anyway I hope that is the case! This happens every year up here. When I was teaching in NV I had to go back after Christmas leaving the birds to fend for themselves. The last few years we have gone south so I think the birds are OK. They always come back when the first snows hit and I do think they are the same ones but have brought their extended families with them lately! We have used 60-75 lbs. of seeds already this fall and winter.

Another thing I am contemplating is whether I want to take the Argo out tomorrow with a big load of trash. Bob says just leave it on the porch until we get back but here's my worry. Last year we returned to no snow and green grass. That means the bears were out of hibernation and had probably already had their big eating binge. What if they find the trash this year before we get back? That will bring them back to our house all summer and I won't be able to put out the hummingbird feeders. Not to mention I really don't want bears lurking around our cabin from now on!

A few other thoughts that have been running through my mind about leaving my beloved cabin for a few months. If the power goes out while we are gone, will the hot tub freeze solid and crack? (it's a soft tub so I am hoping it won't!) or should I drain it? NOT! I don't want an ice skating rink in front of the shop!

Another thought--I won't be able to get any more cool winter pictures this year! Oh well, beautiful flowers, jacarandas in full bloom, Egar standing at the back door waiting for food, gorgeous sunsets over Grassy Lake, exotic central Florida wildlife shots and pictures of us lazing in the sun won't be too bad.

Now I must turn my thoughts to using up leftovers in the refrigerator, cleaning the kitchen, getting the house in order, and packing. (we took 2 big suitcases of summer clothes to town today to put in the car, which is parked at Hughie's). Bob had the garage take off the studded tires in prepation for travel in the south. I hope we can get over Cameron or Berthod Pass without too much trouble! Also what about Raton Pass? I hope the snow storms buffeting southern Colorado stay to the West!!!!

We have 2 more days up here and then on Monday we hope to leave. It's supposed to snow today, tomorrow and Sunday and then clear out on Monday. I hope we don't get any bigger of a storm than what we have so far today! No wind, a few flurries and an overcast sky.

Well, back to work for me. Here is a taste of what we will be seeing shortly!

Sunset on Grassy Lake

Egar the Egret waiting for breakfast

Jacaranda in full bloom in the front yard

Family and friends playing Rock Star Band at Micah's

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Viewing Food, Inc

I need to get up on my soap box for this one!

We just got done watching the movie Food, Inc with Danny and Kathi. He got it from Netflix. It is a very interesting movie and is great to watch with other people because it will definitely generate a lot of discussion--especially for people who raise food for a living! Actually I had heard about the movie earlier this year when local (Fort Collins) talk show hosts did a movie review of it. Their review caused a lot of discussion on the show. Many farmers and ranchers (who had never seen it) called to say what a bad movie it was, while people from the city called to say they had changed their shopping and eating habits because of it. It actually supports a lot of Danny's philosophy of farming and ranching and even Bob supported what they were talking about. He did say he felt they were exaggerating the food safety part a bit. Anyway, I believe everyone needs to view this movie because what they are talking about is true and we all need to know about it! And by the way, Danny and Kathi do raise and sell their natural, grass fed cattle and pastured poultry on their own without the help of big industry! Well, that's my soap box speech for the day!

Colton and Chris with Manville Pastured Poultry

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good News/ Bad News and my Kindle

Good news and bad news today! First the good news:
We went to town for my blood draw and I got new bulbs for my kitchen light! Now I can see what I'm doing in the kitchen again. Second piece of good news is that I got my Kindle out of the car in town where I had left it a week ago! The battery wasn't even run out--what a deal! I am back to reading again!

Now for the bad news:
I took little movies of us driving up to the cabin in the Argo and plan to make one movie with titles and music and everything in it. I called Kathi and got all the info on how to do it and what program to use and was all set to make my first movie . To my complete frustration, I discovered that my camera makes Quick Time movies and they arn't supported by Windows Movie Maker! I can't save them as a different type file unless I buy Quick Time Pro 7 and I see that it has a rating of 2 1/2 stars out of 5! I'm afraid it won't work after I buy it for $30! Anyone know anything about it? I see that if I have a Mac I can make movies on Quick Time Pro but what about on Windows? Also I hope that if I bought it I could change the format and make the movie on Windows Movie Maker but who knows if that will work! I guess I'll just have to do some more research. Maybe there's another movie maker that will work. I guess I'll try Google.

About my Kindle. It is the neatest book! I have over 50 books on it right now. I go to Amazon every so often and check out all the freebie books and get them if they sound interesting. Once I have read a book I can archive it on so I don't have an overload of books on my Kindle. If I want to read it again I can just download it with 1 click to my Kindle again. I can get the latest best sellers for $9.99 at any time with just 1 click. There are thousands and thousands of all kinds of books available. Even cookbooks! I got a free crockpot cookbook with some really good sounding recipes in it. I just got a free diet and exercise book by Leslie Sansone with a lot of good sounding recipes in it too. The only problem I see with it is that there is no way to quickly find the recipe you want. I don't think there is an index but maybe I'll check it again.

Last fall when we were in Nebraska for a chicken processing event, it snowed and the water froze and we couldn't do anything for a few days. Of course Kathi and I found plenty to do but Bob was bored so I downloaded 25 Zane Grey books for $0.99 for him to read. It entertained him the whole time. Carla bought him a Kindle just for himself for Christmas so now we both can read to our hearts content!

I have actually paid for some of my books too. I found some that I had been wanting to read for a long time and got them for less than $10 each . Some of them were only a few dollars. I have been enjoying them along with my free ones! There are some classics that are free or only a dollar or two that I need to read too!

The Kindle has an option for you to subscribe to all kinds of newspapers and magazines. If you want to read the New York Times for instance you can get it on your Kindle every day. I don't know how much the subscription fee is but I don't think it is much. I'm not sure how I'd like that, though if part of the enjoyment is spreading out the newspaper to read it because the Kindle is very compact. One nice feature of it, though, is that you can adjust the size of print from very tiny to extra large! If you get tired of reading you can click it and it will read to you!

Well, That's it for today! I'll put up one little sample of my video for you until I can find a way to make my movies!

Notice the spots of water where the flying snow hit the lens of the camera!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm In The Dark!

The only light on my sink area is from the flash of my camera!

Click on any picture to make it bigger. Click the back button to return to the blog

It was inevitable, but still, I really hate that the florescent lights above my kitchen sink finally burned out! I bet I hit that light switch a half dozen times already this morning!

Now, you may be thinking why doesn't she just get some new ones and install them! Well, it's not quite that easy. First of all, these light fixtures are 30 some years old or more. When we first built this cabin we got our whole kitchen for $1500 dollars, installed! We were at a building contractors display office that had about 5 or 6 kitchen displays kind of like Home Depot but much more upscale! They were moving to a new location and wanted to get rid of the displays so they could put new ones in the new building. They gave us a deal we couldn't refuse. The cabinets are all oak and have every gadget and innovative (for that era) type of shelf and cutting board in them. The pantry cabinet is really cool too.

My cool pantry with the inner doors on piano hinges.

The built in oven and refrigerator were Thermador and the stove top is JennAire with a BBQ grill and interchangeable large frying grill built in along with a built in fan.

Oven and warming drawer. My JennAire stovetop.

There was a kind of cheaper dishwasher but that was OK since this was to be our summer cabin at the time. We made a deal for the guys to come up for a week of fishing and camping and installing the kitchen with a custom built island. All this for $1500! The only problem was we had to kind of redesign our kitchen layout and that meant taking out the only window in the kitchen. Too bad, I thought, look what we were saving! I have to say that 30 some years down the road the kitchen is still in working condition! We did have to replace the refrigerator and the dishwasher but the stove and oven are still going strong--did I mention we also have a warming drawer? It still works too. Anyway, the lighting in there has never been that good and today it is very bad!

This is for Lynn. The 100 year old (or more) Welsh Cupboard is now in my kitchen.

So why don't I go to town and get new bulbs? Well, we are 25 miles from town and gas is $2.89 a gallon right now in town. I have a Dr. appointment at the clinic tomorrow so we will wait until then and hope Timberline has a florescent light bulb the right size in stock! We've been on a money saving kick since we retired and prices have gone up so we only go to town about once a week. It makes for some creativity on my part when we get short on basic food supplies but mostly it works out OK. I love the quiet and solitude but I am so happy I have Facebook to feel like I am still connected to people! I also love this blog so I can talk to myself! LOL!

A chickadee takes a twirling ride on the peanut butter ball!

*Just a note on the peanut butter birdseed balls from yesterday. The blue jays are loving them but must take turns. There are 8 of them and they all hover nearby waiting for a chance to run the eating ones off the tree. I'm waiting for them to knock the tree down! I've tried to take pictures of them but they are so shy they fly off at the least little movement from the porch or even in the window. I'll keep trying though!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This is for the Birds!

Click on pictures to enlarge them. Hit the back browser to get back to the blog.

Today is Sunday and I'm a little bit lazy. We ran out of birdseed today so I decided I'd take the Argo out to the pickup (about 2 1/2 miles from here) and get the seed we left there when we got home from Fort Collins last Tuesday (I could have snow shoed out there but.... laziness rules today!). It is another beautiful day with no wind so off I went. I got the seed and the storage box I bought to put Christmas wrap in and came home. I usually buy my birdseed from Wildbirds Unlimited in Fort Collins because they have blends with no millet in them. We didn't get over there this time so I had to get mine at Walmart. The seeds I bought have a lot of millet in them and the birds (squirrels and mink) sort through and leave all the millet so it is really kind of a waste of money. If they don't have anything else to eat they finally clean it up but not very happily. So, I found a way to use the millet that, I think, makes the birds eat it. It is a recipe for Peanut Butter Birdseed Balls.

I plan to make them and hang them on my Christmas tree which I stuck in a snow drift out in front of the porch. I will need to make a few modifications to it since I haven't been to the store to get some beef suet from the butcher, but he has always had some when I've asked. I grind it up here at home because I have my trusty Bullet Express. Anyway, since I don't have any, I have saved bacon grease, side pork grease, and some hydrogenated fat( Crisco-type) that I deep fried in once and then froze. I've used it before and the birds still love it and have had no ill effects that I've noticed. Actually, I think the squirrels get most of it! I tried hanging it from the rafters but they still seem to figure a way of reaching it.


1/2 pound ground up beef suet

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups cornmeal

Decorative cord, yarn, or ribbon, etc.

Wild birdseed, hulled or unhulled sunflower seeds, barberries, or dried red, blue or yellow corn kernels (I just use store bought birdseed)

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt suet, stirring occasionally.
2. Strain rendered suet into large bowl, discarding crisp particles (I think I'll put them out for the squirrels).

3. Blend in peanut butter (I use smooth or chunky, whichever I have) and cornmeal to make a stiff dough. (dough is not stiff while in hot melted grease)
4. Chill mixture 30 minutes, until easily shaped with hands.

My mixture cooling down outside.

Meanwhile, cut about 8 to 12 14 inch lengths of cord. Tie ends of each together in knot making loops. Mold balls around knot on each loop, so that knot is in the center. Pour one or a combination of suggested seeds into a pie plate. Roll balls in seeds, to coat thoroughly.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour, until firm.

Knotted strings waiting for mixture. Peanut butter birdseed balls just chillin'

I just pour the seeds in with the peanut butter mixture so there are seeds all the way through and then chill and form the balls. That way the birds eat the millet too. I've seen birdseed mixtures with dried cranberries and raisins in it so if you have some extra you might try using them too. I have some really old dried raisins and cranberries I want to use up, so they are going in the mixture too.

Out on the tree waiting for the birds!

This recipe came from the book, WHAT SHOULD I BRING? GREAT GIFTS FOR EVERY OCCASION, by Alison Boteler, page 88.

A few last notes: Last year I made one big slab in a 12 inch frying pan and left it for the birds when we left for a few months. I hung it by their feeders. I've also just left it in an old cast iron fry pan and set it on the porch. All that cord and shaping is kind of a pain so I don't always do it. I keep smaller individual balls wrapped in plastic wrap in fridge and ration it out as they run out. I made a bigger batch this time and had to add quite a bit more cornmeal. I chilled it in my pan outside because it was cold but it still took a bit longer than 30 minutes to chill. I also stirred it halfway through.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Means Cleaning Day!

Ready for cleaning in my cleaning apron with my shmop.

Click on pictures to enlarge them. Click the back browser to get back to the blog.

Today is Saturday and that means it's cleaning day. From the time I was very young Saturday was the day we had to clean our rooms and each one of us had another cleaning chore besides. Mom had a Caper Chart and our jobs changed every week. The most hated jobs for Lynn and I were Sweeping and Dusting. I preferred dusting over sweeping and so did Lynn. We were always trying to trade jobs and Lynn, being the oldest usually got her way! ( I could do a whole blog on being the middle child and may do it one of these days.) I also remember cleaning the upstairs bathroom when we got older. It had one of those old fashioned white and black true tile floors with the little white hexagon tiles. We had to get on our hands and knees and scrub that puppy every Saturday! It was not a fun chore.

(Just looked out the window and Minky is up in the bird feed box this morning!)

Here's Minky, again!

When we were in high school we had a cleaning lady named Eliza. She was a large woman (about 250#) and was full of great philosophical comments. We loved her. I can remember some of her comments. One time Tip was barefoot in the house and she exclaimed, "you must be a January baby! Look at those long toes!" And he is one! Another time on a hot summer day she said, " It's so hot today, the Presbyterians are running down my back!". There was a dead oppossom in the neighbor's yard,one time, and she got her shopping bag and put it in it and took it home on the bus to cook for dinner. She was so grateful and talked about what a good meal that was for a long time! I'm not sure how great a cleaning lady she was, but she sure was entertaining!

After I got my first teaching job at North Park, I used some of my money to hire Wilma to clean our house once a week. She was good and got us really organized. Every week we had a "Wilma alert" and everyone was supposed to get their room cleaned up enough for Wilma to get in it and do her weekly jobs. Danny and Bob Glasson (who was living with us at the time) decided to make this alert a time to tear up the room to give her something to do! What a pain they were for her and for me. She couldn't get everything else done because of the mess they made. I was so busy trying to get ready to leave for school that I didn't notice at first what they were doing. I think she must have had words with them to get it straightened out! The final straw for Wilma was when Danny and Ozzie decided to take hay and seal it in baggies and store it in Marianne's closet (she was away in college). They thought they could sell it and make tons of money! They always had some weird scheme going. Well Wilma found the baggies and quit working for us after that! Too, bad because she really did help me out.

Some time ago I found a book called Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. It is now my "bible" for cleaning the cabin. He has a web sight with all kinds of cleaning supplies that are part of his cleaning philosophy. He has a huge cleaning business in California and has gotten housecleaning down to a science. He claims his teams can clean an average house in 42 minutes! I do believe you can get it done and spic and span in a short time with practice and the right tools, but I haven't quite reached that level, yet! I'm still trying to declutter my house which is the first rule. He even has a book for that too. I bought it years ago but it got lost in the clutter, hehehe .

My Cleaning "bibles"

Well, I better quit writing and don my cleaning apron and get busy! I need to finish quickly so I can go out snow shoeing again today. Yesterday I took pics of the moose trcks across our meadow so I'll have to get them up on my blog!

Me snow shoeing. Fresh moose tracks. Look how deep he was sinking!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stock Show Time!

This time of year is National Western Stock Show time. We went to Stock Show every year from the time our kids were very young up until just a few years ago. Bob was on the yard committee for many years and just retired from it last year. For many years we have been members of the National Western Stock Show which entitles us to free exhibitor buttons and entrance buttons, entrance into the Club (a restaurant on the grounds for members) and other perks. Bob also has judged pens of calves down in the yards and our children have shown steers and competed in the Catch - A - Calf Program there. More recently, Danny and Kathi have shown some of their Lowlines there. I have many memories of the good times. Here are just a few of them.

Danny and Kathi get Charlie and Chimi ready to show at Stock Show

The first memory is not quite of stock show but is very memorable and quite unique. The first time I ever was to the stockyards in Denver (where the stock show is held) was on my honeymoon!!!! I was going to school at the time and we only had a weekend to spend in Denver. Most of Bob's visits to Denver involved the stockyards so he wanted me to see them. Nothing was going on in late November so we just looked at the empty pens from up on the bridge. That was 50 years ago last November!!!!

Another memory we dubbed as "the time we ate on the manure spredder". We always stayed with my college room mate Annie when we went to stock show. She and her husband Hank would go with us over the weekend. This time some of the neighbor kids wanted to go too so we loaded our 4 kids and I think maybe 3 or 4 others into 2 cars and we were off. Once there Bob and Hank said we'll meet you at the gate in a couple hours and they took off leaving Annie and I with the whole bunch of kids to herd through the trade show, stockyards, and show rings on a weekend for 2 hours! Of course the kids were hungry so we got them all hot dogs but it was so crowded there was nowhere for them to sit. We worked our way over to an implement display and seated them all on the manure spredder for lunch! Annie and I still laugh about that now but it wasn't a real fun experience at the time.

Another one we all laugh at is the time we went to the rodeo. We had split our kids up between the 4 of us and were walking around the arena getting some refreshments to eat during the show. Danny was around 4 years old and talked Hank into buying him a purple snow cone. Hank soon discovered his big mistake when someone joggled Danny's arm and the snow cone ended up upside down on Danny's head with purple syrup dribbling down his face and neck! Oh, where were digital cameras back then!

The last memory I'll write about today took place when Carla was a junior in high school. She decided to enter the Catch a Calf contest for 4-H and FFA members. Each night of stock show 30 names are drawn and the kids go out into the arena. I think they turn out about 15 calves that weigh around 375#. Each kid has their own rope halter and the trick is to grab one and hang on while it drags you around the arena until you can get a halter on it and lead it out of the arena. Well, Carla's name got drown so she was out there. We didn't have much hope for her getting one but she is totally competitive. She got hold of a steer and he did drag her around but she didn't turn loose even when one leg of her jeans split open and was flapping in the breeze! The deal was that if you caught a steer you had to take a donated steer home, raise it and bring it back to show at stock show the next year. She got her steer, raised him and showed him the following year and had a great experience doing it!

Carla and Kathi leading Charlie and Chimi to get water and exercise. Carla is showing Chimi but is not happy with the judge who didn't even look at Chimi!

These were taken at The Nile, but are typical of what happens at all shows. I sure miss our fun times with Annie and Hank at the stock show!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wow! What a Morning!

Click on the pictures to get a larger view. Press the back button to make them small again!

Wow! What a morning! I finally broke out the snowshoes for the first time this season and went for a walk. It was a glorious morning. Sunny, fairly warm (35 degrees), and not a breath of wind. I headed out for one of my favorite walks up past the Luck Penny ditch and on up the hill to the forest gate. I had my trusty camera with me and put it to good use! I told Bob where I was going and to follow my footprints if I didn't come back. He warned me to look out for Mountain Lions (yes, they are around here!). I said I would see their tracks and turn around and come back if I saw any.

Oh oh these tracks look scary! Is that an albino mountain lion on the branch? NOT!

I followed the road that Hughie had plowed before Christmas up to the top of the hill. I was just enjoying the solitude, peace and quiet (except for the chickadees who went for the walk with me and did their little chickadee trill all the way), when my old friends, the coyotes began their yapping and howling. I was in just about the same place on top of the hill as I was the night we walked in and heard them! This was in the morning, though and they sounded like they were down by the cabin somewhere. It was kind of neat, though, that their howls echoed all around me. I'll admit that I looked around me several times nervously before moving on. I also checked my ski poles to see if they could withstand an attack if I needed them. One of my poles never has worked right and collapses when a little pressure is put on it. I wanted to be sure that one was in my left hand just in case. Well, it's better than a purse and computer, right?

Up where I heard the coyotes
The Butte is in the background

I pressed on and got into some pretty deep snow with no trail so kind of didn't notice when the coyotes quit their howling. I got back on someone's snowmobile trail (probably under about 6 inches of snow) up on the road to the headgate. Luckily it turned to go up to the forest gate right where I wanted to go. Climbing that last hill was a real workout but it was worth it. I took some pictures up at the gate and just enjoyed the view and the peacefulness. I took pictures of animal tracks on the way back. It was a lot of fun and I didn't even stumble or fall although taking my timed pictures of me was a near miss! I had to stomp out a trail and then figure out if I could back up in snowshoes or not. I only had ten seconds to do it all in and if I stepped on my own shoes it would be a picture of me collapsed in a heap . The backing up worked pretty good the first time, but the second time my snow shoe got turned sideways so I kind of had to do a side shot! I actually liked that one better. I learned you can't move too fast on snow shoes!

My side view. The forest gate Looking down the fence line

When I got to the creek on the way back the birds were all chirping and chattering. It was such a nice sound I wanted to record it so I made a movie of the creek with the birds singing in the background. They kind of got quiet once I started filming but I hope there is some singing on it.

Old moose tracks Wildlife playground Home again!

I can hardly wait until tomorrow to go out again. I'll have to try my second favorite trail although it goes out much nearer to the coyote den and I might get some real closeups of those fellows!