Imagination on Vacation

I have an alter ego and her name is Jabberwocky.  As a usual co-conspirator in all things creative, Jabberwocky and I try a multitude of endeavors, sometimes clever, often not. (And sometimes things which we ought not be doing, but that’s another story……)

Jabberwocky has taken a vacation this week.  I’m not sure exactly why, she left no note.  It might have been because I had my hair cut and colored on Monday morning and she looked in the mirror and saw a better looking reflection than she’s used to, which was a shock (to say the least),  but then, maybe not.  It may have been because she just hasn’t gotten out there to socialize enough, although, Jabberwocky ought to realize I’ve been doing my best to be a social butterfly for the past couple weeks or so.  It possibly is because she gets somewhat in awe (oh yes, she does) of the many amazing people she encounters and feels a bit, well, insecure in herself, something that Jabberwocky has seldom felt in her life (but she ought to have, often, methinks.  A bit of humility is good for the soul, and believe me, Jabberwocky could use some sometimes.  Just ask the man who lives here.).  At any rate, she took off last Friday and really hasn’t come back yet.

I’ve done my best to get her to return.  This entire week I’ve looked at the staircase to Christmas and wracked my brain for creative inspiration. 

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I got depressed, thinking that I’d have to actually do something dull for lack of Jabberwocky.  All I could come up with which was unique was this:

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(He’s an armadillo, previously appeared on a Christmas tree.  If that sounds strange to you it is because you have never seen my Christmas decorations.  Yet.)

Trying to lure her back, I’ve been a Lady Who Lunches this week with several different ladies—one was Daughter of coupon clipping fame, one is Scrapbooker (aka Nightingale), and the third is today, with Spiritual Friend.  (More about her at a future date.)

So,  yesterday I had lunch with Scrapbooker who I knew had ideas floating around and her own Jabberwocky, which she never advertises, but one has only to walk into her home to see evidence of her existence. 

[Scrapbooker, in a prior incarnation, was a nurse who I called upon, in the middle of the night once, to come to make sure I was not dying (hence, her name of Nightingale).  I was not, but she advised an ER visit.   I wound up with a surgery, the next day, and hospital for a week (this after I insisted I go home first to wash my hair which had just had a permanent that morning, and it was very important I do it at home, so I did.  Well, of COURSE it was necessary, despite what they said at the ER.  Besides, they’d just given me some morphine, so I was feeling no pain by that time.  A woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do, no argument here.  Yes, Jabberwocky was around, too, at the time.  You think I’d think that up on my own?)   How many friends do you have you can ask to bring their stethoscope over and check to make sure you are not dying—in the middle of the night?  Yes, that’s Nightingale.] 

This friend does scrapbooking, to the Nth degree (if there is such a degree in scrapbooking, I don’t know.  I could say she’s a 1st Degree Scrapbooker, but I don’t know if 1st Degree is better than Nth Degree.  Whichever is better, that’s her.  If you know, please advise.)  At any rate, she’s a perfectionist in the creations she puts together and spends a great deal of energy and time and creativity on her projects.  They are lovely!  She also makes the most fantastic crafts for gifts and I’ve been the happy recipient of many over the years.

She’s a very very good friend, indeed, and especially when one is in need.  So this is a very public THANK YOU for being my friend, Nightingale/Scrapbooker. (And also, I did like your stethoscope, too, at the time. And that I was not dying.  So many adventures since then………)

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Scrapbooker also likes tea towels.  This was a gift from yet another very good friend in Missouri.

Not only did I wish to catch up with the news from her corner of the world (and her adventures), I also wanted to ask her for help, given my own Jabberwocky had left for the duration.

I was NOT disappointed!  I came away with these ideas:  buy a stuffed toy pony at a sale and cut its head off (excellent solution!); paint an oil cloth and then cut it into the shape I wanted; ROPE!; horseshoes. 

The only thing I’d come up with was using a tree branch, so as you can see, it was a very productive lunch!  And, yes, I do plan to find a stuffed pony and cut its head off.  I think I can do it………….(Please come home, Jabberwocky!)

Meanwhile, Scrapbooker/Nightingale is off to tend to a grandson, three large Labs, four cats, and a couple of tree frogs.  (I am not kidding.  These words were from her very mouth.)  The grandson is not a problem, but the Labs are.  Evidently last time, when let out in the early morning hours, one grabbed a cushion on his way out, took it with him, from which ensued a game of tug of war, under the porch, which Scrapbooker/Nightingale had to mitigate by crawling under said porch—by then the cushion had been shredded to pieces.  Good luck, my friend, good luck!

 

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Homemade compost bin

I know, I know.  This blog is UNHELPFUL, except once in a while when it is.  Maybe this is.  Maybe it isn’t  Who knows?  Well, you will know, so read on……..

I grew up in the Midwest.  Illinois, specifically.  Farm country.  (Well, I didn’t actually really grow up in farm country.  I grew up in a Chicago burb, but, hey, I DID live in farm country for a while.)  Great, rich, dark soil and everything grew well.  As it has been said, you can take a girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl.  Believe me, all y’all, I’ve tried.  And, no, I don’t know who said it, but it’s still true.

Growing one’s own vegetables is somewhat in my genes, although my parents were not farmers and I’ve never lived on a farm.  But my parents always grew tomatoes and a few other things in the backyard.  Yes, in the ‘burb’.  It was the 1950’s and 1960’s after all.  They were survivors of The Great Depression, which seems to be repeating itself in various areas of the country.  Anyway, they never forgot the lessons learned.  And passed them on to me.

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I once turned my own backyard into a large garden, back in the day when money was scarce and I had three kids to feed.  I have fond memories of the kids, barefoot, pulling beans and eating them off the vine.  That was the last time in many years they ate things called vegetables, but at least they got a good start.  I don’t know if they have fond memories of that.  Rather doubt it because I also made them pick stuff, sort it, and snap beans as I recall.  No, we were not really ‘dirt’ poor—we HAD dirt.  What we didn’t have was much money.  Besides, I was in my “Lil’ House on the Prairie” mode (and that was on TV, too, as I recall).

I learned a lot that summer about backbreaking work, growing vegetables (from seeds), the inability to count on weather cooperation and that kids WILL eat stuff, anything really, if it looks like fun.  We even had a fruit cellar in the basement where I placed potatoes and onions on wire tables to preserve them for the winter.  I learned to can and to freeze.  Oh, boy, those were NOT the days.  I’m grateful for grocery stores and farmer’s markets!  And for MONEY! And that Lil’ House on the Prairie is no longer on prime time TV, this only because I don’t think I could keep up with “Ma” much longer.  Man, that woman could WORK!  Anybody who thinks our fore bearers were whimps ought to spend a summer growing vegetables, by hand, without many tools.)

(Oh, and as another aside, I recall being so happy that the college kids renting the house next to us also had a garden they loved to tend.  They were growing marijuana, of course, but I didn’t know that.  Dense was I.)

On the other hand, it was also the era in which a girlfriend and I would go around the neighborhood stealing fruit off trees and vines to make jams and jellies.  I don’t think the neighbors really cared, but we did slink about.  That year we had a lot of grape, apple and peach preserves compliments of the neighborhood trees and vines.  As I mentioned, I had three kids.  They were hungry (oh, not THAT hungry, they were kids).  We did not have a lot of $$ so my solution was to hunt and gather, and garden I suppose.  Part of my dark past.

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No, this is not the garden I had.  It is the one I dreamed I had.

But I still have a compost bin.  It is simple to construct and to keep functioning and nobody knows what it is unless I tell them.  It is a Rubbermaid bin. 

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Here is how to make it:

1.  Poke holes on the top and the bottom of the bin.  I used an awl and a hammer, but however you do it, make sure there are some on the top and the bottom.  The top holes allow for air and rain to seep in.  The bottom holes allow for worms to get in to do their magic.  (None are large enough for Pandas to get in unless they figure out how to use their opposable thumbs—uh oh.) 

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2.  Layer about 2 inches of shredded newspaper on the bottom.  It is best to shred it into 2 to 3 inch strips.  This will take a little while.

3.  Place some dirt on top, just to cover the newspaper and then add dry leaves, grass clippings, whatever.  Do NOT add weeds.

4.  Then you can place vegetable clippings, fruit rinds, coffee grounds, tea, etc. on top of that.  I just dump them in when I have them.  Make sure you do NOT put in any meat products, oil of any sort, or egg shells (salmonella).  Just use vegetables and fruits for the most part.

5.  Add water to dampen and place the cover on top.

6.  You can add things as you go along when you have them.  I do this in the summer/fall and then let the thing sit on the ground (for the worms to find it) and leave it alone all winter.  One is supposed to ‘turn’ it, but I forget and it still comes out alright.

7.  The next spring you have some rich compost for your garden, pots, or whatever.

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It is not quite ready this year—see above (yuk!).  I suppose I should have turned it, right?  No matter, it will be fine.  Note that it will shrink quite a bit—this was full last fall.

Do not try to plant anything in ONLY this compost.  It may still be hot and you’ll just burn the roots of your plants.   (The man who lives here tells a great story about killing multiple—I’m talking maybe 50 or 75—tomato plants.  He kept planting them where he’d buried the organic garbage just the year before.  Talk about HOT!   Might as well have been nuclear as far as the plants were concerned.  When the County Ag Agent came out, he told him he wouldn’t be able to use that spot for years.  Well, we all learned, one way or another.) Mix the compost with regular dirt for best results.  If you are going to use it to enrich your garden bed, just dig it in well.  With this type of compost bin, you aren’t going to have that much compost to worry about.

This is not going to give you enough compost for a BIG garden, but over time, using things you were only going to throw out anyway, you can enrich your soil.  It takes almost no time to do and very little attention. 

And, yes, I still grow tomatoes.  Can’t help it.  Sort of a ritual.  And, no, this is NOT my idea.  I read about it on the internet several years ago.  We can’t have compost piles in our neighborhood so this works fine. 

FINALLY!  A helpful post on this blog.  Maybe.

 

Sunday night dinner

It is difficult to cook for two people, but I love to cook, so I try.  Generally, there is enough for a small battalion, just in case they appear, which they generally do not—doesn’t stop me.  We just have leftovers for a while.

I’m trying to use up what I have on hand, and two chicken breasts were in the freezer, so I took them out and defrosted them in the fridge for a day or two.

Then I decided to make Lemon Chicken, sans recipe, but how hard could it be?  This is what I did:

1.  Pound the chicken breasts flat (with a meat pounder) in a heavy plastic zip lock bag.

2.  Dredged them in a little flour, sprinkled on a lot of Lemon Pepper and cooked them in olive oil until they were browned—I have a grill pan that works well and so the chicken has grill marks and doesn’t actually cook in the oil too much.

3.  Baked them until they were done, adding the juice of half a lemon and the slices from the other half of the lemon on top.  (350 degrees for about 20 minutes)

4.  Placed some dollops of Apricot Jam on the plate (I just had it, but I imagine any type of jam would work well), and placed the chicken breasts on top of the jam.

5.  Sliced up some polenta and cooked it in the same grill pan until the slices were lightly browned and drained on a paper towel.  Served that with the chicken and a salad.  (I happened to have polenta on hand, something I seldom use.)

The plate would have been prettier if there had been a green vegetable (or colorful vegetable) on it, but dinner was tasty and we did have a lettuce side salad.  And it was a simple dinner to make as well. 

 

What’d you find? What’d you get?

I know you are waiting to see what happened this morning on the weekly treasure hunt.  Well, here is the report:

First, it was Girlfriend, Nurse and I who ventured out.  Thumper (the rabbit) was going to come, but at the last minute had an offer she could not refuse.  Being a rabbit, she decided to hop along with Vanna (who was sans sign this morning, I presume).  So off the three of us (Girlfriend, Nurse and I) went. 

Thumper and Vanna went for a walk, I am told, although knowing Thumper and Vanna it was more likely a hop, skip and a jump.

We found a few sales, this one below had the most promise and success for us:

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Nurse is in the orange sweater.  I really must think up a better name for her, but at the moment, Nurse will have to do.  She is one, of course as well as being one of the Y-Knots.

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Girlfriend found a very cute jacket with short sleeves. 

At this particular sale was a deer of sorts, standing guard. 

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I do not know what his legs are made of, but it appears they were not the originals.  He was not for sale.  He was a yard ornament.  Unique.  Also had lots of bullet holes or something in him. 

So, the report:

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A package for $1.

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Fifty cents.  Yes, I have a plan………

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He is part of the plan.  You will have to wait until the holidays to see.  $5

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These for the ‘camping’ décor in the bedroom upstairs—where the Staircase to Christmas/bookshelves are located.  These were $5 each.

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Nurse and I each purchased one of these.  I will use it to hang tablecloths for storage.  She will use hers to hang things to dry.  I think its original purpose was to hold CD’s.  $4

And, of course, since I have donated one of my two beautiful glass juicers to a friend in California, the Yard Sale Gods saw fit to provide me with one to replace it:

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Which is why I say, “throw it out there to the Universe and it seems to appear.”

Thank you, Universe.  Thank you Girlfriend and Nurse for going.  It was fun!

And, Thumper and Vanna, I do hope you had a good hop.

 

Movie clothes

This is my granddaughter.  She is 13.  She MADE THIS HERSELF, free-hand.

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She will be going with her friends to see The Hunger Games!  She looks the part, doesn’t she? 

What creativity and skill she has.  (And isn’t she a beauty, too!)

Oh, I had to brag, you know.

Juicers

Running short of interesting topics at the moment– (how can that be?), so decided perhaps the  pantry might amuse you.  And me. (If not, just consider it a wasted 5 and give me a break.)  My ‘pantry’ by the way is not a room.  It is a cabinet in my kitchen.  Large cabinet, but none the less, cabinet. 

Do you know what this contraption is?  image

It is a very expensive way to squeeze oranges (and other sundry citrus). But, it is very heavy, works quite well, using the leverage principle, and I found it at a yard sale for $12. (Now, calculate how many oranges I would need to squeeze to get a quart of juice and add on $12 (they retail, I discovered, for $80 plus), add in your time value, and if you are retired, it’s relatively nothing, so scrap that, and then go check the price of one of those frozen concentrated cans of juice. Compare and contrast in 200 words or less.) Yes, I am a genius. No doubt.

Oh, and you won’t believe this, but I actually bought it at a sale because I liked the color.  I had no idea what it was to be used for.  I had never seen one before.  Also another buyer was looking suspiciously like she was going to grab it, so I grabbed it first.  I couldn’t lift it with one hand, because it was a) heavy and b) has suction cups on the bottom, so I more or less made somewhat of a dramatic ‘grab’ which turned into a strong ‘tug’ to get it out from under her nose and had to use both hands (to my surprise).  Then, I was forced to buy it out of embarrassment.  As heavy as it is, I figured it had to be good for SOMETHING! if only scrap metal.  It is.  It will smash your fingers if you happen to have it up and it decides, randomly, to lower itself.  In other words, it bites.

It also looks great when you open my pantry doors.  It sits in front of the white bread machine, which I also never use, along side of my SECOND white mixer and the blender.  I am well-stocked with equipment.  I told you I was a genius.  I also look like a professional cook.  (I have a lot of people fooled that way.)

Ah…but don’t you dare think I stop here.  Oh NO! No stopping with the juicers at one……..

I, my friends, am the proud owner of not one, but TWO old glass juicers!  Yes, I am.  One was my mother’s and the other I found at a sale and decided I should have a spare.  Just in case.  This was before I bought the red machine above. So, take a look at these beauties:

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A friend from California emailed and asked if I would look for a glass juicer at sales for her.  (I think they do not have sales there, but if they do, they do not have old things at their sales because, as we know, California is a very young state and people who moved there did not bring glass juicers with them when they relocated).  (Except my friend.  Who did bring hers and now, 50 years later, it is broken and she needs another.  Without any recourse other than MOI!  Her ‘old’ friend.)

(They do have a lot of citrus in California, far more, I’d venture, than in Middle Tennessee.  At least far more than right in my neighborhood, which is only known for Pandas, but we won’t get into that right now.)

If my friend desires one of the glass ones, I will gladly ship it to her.  Whether she does or not, I am considering buying one of those electric juicers (at a sale—I run across them often) that spits out the pulp on one side and the juice on the other.  It will juice about anything you can cram into it, and I thought that might be an interesting addition to my menu if not my kitchen.   Gives a whole new twist to ‘fast food’.   (Plus, I’d love to look like Jack Lalane’s wife and he and she famously juiced.  All the time.  And worked out.  And made a lot of money.  And lived a long time.  I know he has gone on to his juicy reward, but I think she is still on this earthly plane.   Except for the money making part, I can only imagine what a FUN COUPLE they were.  I may be 110, but I’m not THAT old……come on……….)

Then again, likely not.  I’d have to dispose of the bread machine and I’m kind of attached to it.  One of these days I may begin making bread again with it.  I hate to dispose of it just for the space a big juice machine would require.  (Besides, let’s face reality here.  I will never look like Jack Lalane’s wife or even close, no matter how many fruits I juice.  And also, I don’t even LIKE fruit.)

P.S.  What does one do with the pulp the juice machine spits out?  Does it go in the compost machine?  No, I do not have one, they are not allowed where I live.   I have a Rubber Maid bin.  With holes poked in it and suppposedly worms.  Which came in while the thing was on the ground.  I didn’t put them in.  I don’t like worms either.  And, no I will not go check. 

P.P.S. Does anyone know if Pandas like juice? Or pulp?

Update

Grandson will be alright.  His eye has no damage.  We are all relieved after a couple days of worry.  Thank you all for caring.

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