Happy Music

Jason Mraz! Not a fan of everything he’s recorded, but he sure does know how to make happy music. This one is slightly Harry Nilson-esque, in my opinion. Enjoy, and have a happy day!

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Ten in a Bucket

Inspired by my friend Anne. Oops, I mean Ann. Without an e. I don’t know why. She wrote a post about the ten most important things on her Bucket List. Do you have a Bucket List? I’m sure you have. I have never seen the movie, but I have one; it’s a “Before I die, I want to…” sort of thing. Ann’s got me thinking. There are always, constantly, forever things that I casually say ‘someday I’ll do that’, but… will I? Will I even care next week? What are the things that have endured on my list for years, and will stay there until accomplished? Things I’m quite sure I won’t change my mind about. Ever. Until I kick the Bucket. Bwaha.

1) Hang-gliding. The closest man has come to actually flying. This has been on my list since I was just 3 years old and my family visited my Aunt in Georgia. We took a trip to Lookout Mountain TN, and I watched the hang-gliders launching from the top of the mountain and fly down to the valley below. (There are even pictures of me watching, but there’s a baby sleeping in my lap so I can’t go look for them right now.)  It is magical. I can imagine how absolutely free you feel.

2) Visit Scotland in general, and Foulis Castle in Particular.   It’s not a huge, romantic, fairy-tale castle. But it’s very real. And it’s the seat of my family’s clan. So… that’s a no-brainer. 🙂

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Things I’ve Never Understood.

There are certain things, common amongst most humans, which I have not shared in and have a hard time understanding. These are things which, in a crowd, one person mentions and everyone else automatically agrees is the WORST EVER or BEST EVER or WHAT EVER, while I simple fidget in my chair because… I don’t agree/haven’t felt that way.

Berserk freak-out panicking over spiders. Of course, I don’t live in an area where spiders grow to be the size of my face, and none of them are man-eating and won’t look down on me from a tree as prey to be pounced upon. If I did, yeah, I’d probably freak out. Around here, the larger common house spiders are about span of a quarter, and barn-spiders can be three or four times that. I honestly still have never freaked out over a spider. In fact, when my younger sister would refuse to enter the barn every summer so I HAD TO DO HER CHORES, or when she would scream and try to climb me like a tree to get away from the spider in the corner of our bedroom, I had very little sympathy for her and would try to convince he she really needed to get over it.

Eating cantaloupe. On purpose.  Ew. Just ew. I will eat it in a fruit salad to be polite, but given the choice, never.

Math. Well obviously, basic math I am fine with. As long as I can have paper for multiplication and division… because, you know that horrible moment when your computer just freezes for no apparent reason, it makes these awful roaring noises and you can’t get ANYTHING to function? That’s what happens to my brain on math. I’m pretty sure if I could process math I would be a brilliant person.

The Zombie Thing. Seriously, people? I’ll admit that I once read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a giggle, and I did giggle, but I also gagged and got goosebumps and that was the first and hopefully last of my zombie experiences. I don’t get the fascination with undead anything. Rotting corpses… walking around… lookin’ for brains to eat. Yeah. Let’s watch THAT movie. NOT.

Also, Sci-Fi. This one is huge. SO many people love Star Wars dearly. And Star Trek. And now, Dr. Who. There’s a quote from a children’s book, I can’t remember which one, but a father says to his children, and I misquote, “There’s no such thing as aliens. And if there are, I don’t want to know about it.” Exactly. Aliens completely creep me out, and I’ve been known to gag and look away while watching Sci-Fi as a child. This past summer I watched Men in Black for the first time in my life, and it was kinda torture. Parts were hilarious, but I was really glad when it was over. Sci-Fi is just the stuff of nightmares, and I don’t enjoy putting myself intentionally through a nightmare. Other nightmare themes are creepy monkeys (think flying moneys from Wizard of Oz and Planet of the Apes. *shivers* And crazy viscous bears, like on Brave… I seriously could not watch the battle with that huge murderous beast.

And finally, hairless cats. Ew, ew, ew, and whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????????

Planting Garlic

Every summer when I see local farm stands advertising fresh garlic, I wonder why I didn’t grow any myself. It’s supposed to be easy. The thing is, I’ve been told to plant it in late fall, and I don’t typically plant anything but tulips that time of year, so I simply forget. This year, I managed to remember in time! Sadly, all of my efforts to find local garlic came up empty, and I ended up buying a few heads of garlic at the grocery store. I know that some garlic is treated with some chemical to delay it’s sprouting, so I’m just hoping that this is not that garlic. Whenever we buy it for cooking it certainly doesn’t seem like it has a problem sprouting. 😉
I’m not a garlic expert, so I’m not going to pretend I am and tell you just how to grow it. I will fill you in on what I did, according to what I gleaned from books and friends.*

I found an area among my herbs that was the perfect size (planting it in the middle of your regular garden is a bad idea when your dad’s favorite thing about gardening is hooking the plow up to the tractor and obliterating everything.), and using a potato fork I cleared all the weeds and roots and broke the soil up, since it hadn’t been tilled in a couple of years. Then, using the corner of a hoe -a la my grandpa- I scratched 3″ deep trenches about 4″ apart.

Forgot to take my camera with me, so I’m reduced to internet thievery. This is not my picture, but it gives a good idea of what I did. And honestly, a blog post with no pictures is boring. 😉

My foster siblings had all discovered me outdoors by this time, so with my directions they planted the cloves 3-4″ apart, sprinkled a light layer of dry cow manure over them, and pushed the loose soil back over the rows. Then we shook hay loosely over the rows to mulch (I know from other crops that a good layer of hay keep the ground warm, and the root vegetables keep growing, or at least keep from freezing, even with a foot of snow over them. Digging carrots in January, people. Think about it.) And that was it! I was really pleased that the kids all wanted to help, hopefully it’s just the beginning of an interest in gardening for them. And we shall see what my grocery-store garlic does over the winter months! Hopefully by spring I’ll see signs of life.

*Something that occurred to me recently is how our source of knowledge on every topic is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. I have two shelves full of gardening book, so this is completely silly. I’ve pledged to myself that when I have questions, I will check my books first. And if there’s time, I will also ask experienced friends; after all, a huge part of the pleasure in friendship is discussing things like that. The internet is an amazing and useful resource, but I want to keep my sense of ‘real life’ wide awake.

Home-Made Perogies

 

It’s been a while since I made Perogies… in fact, when I couldn’t remember which book my recipe came from, I checked in my old food blog, and it was 3 years ago that I was in the habit of making them. Wowzers, how time flies. Mom’s been bugging me to make these lately, and since it’s a Saturday and we need something to keep the kids occupied all day, I thought to myself “What better way to keep them busy than to inflict labor-intense Perogie assembly on them? BWAHahahaha.”
I’m such a good sister.
So, I figured I might as well share the recipe on here, since my old blog is pretty much a thing of the past. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d take new pictures of the process today as I work on them, but I won’t. You’ll just have to make do with the pictures from before I knew how to use my camera properly.
Be careful with this recipe. These are hearty and high-carb, full of cheese and butter, and for your health’s sake, wait til the official meal and don’t snack on 20 as you cook them. *sigh*
Ukrainian Perogies
For the Dough:
2 C flour
1/2 C warm milk
1/2 C mashed potato
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs oil
Mix all ingredients, adding a little more milk if it’s too dry. Knead on a lightly floured surface until it forms a ball. You want it to be just slightly sticky. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel to rest at least 30 minutes.
Filling:
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/4 C butter
2 C mashed potato ( a good use for left-overs, or boil fresh and season with salt and pepper)
1 C grated white cheddar
Sauté the onion in butter until well cooked and starting to brown. Mix with potato and cheese. You might want to add salt to taste, but keep in mind that the cheese has quite a bit of salt already. If you use hot mashed potato, allow to cool a bit before filling perogies.
Set a pot of water to boil (the wider it is the more you can cook at once). Roll the dough very thinly on lightly floured surface (0.125″ to be precise. *cough*) adding as little four as possible to keep it from sticking. Cut 3″ circles with a wide glass/biscuit cutter.

Press scraps into a ball, and allow it to rest again so the dough can be re-used. It relaxes significantly after 15 minutes or more.
Scoop 1 1/2- 2 tsp filling into each circle (you’ll figure out how much is too much pretty quick, it’ll gush out the corner.), fold and press closed. The dough sticks together very well compared to some other pastries. The first time I made these I thought they’d pop open, but they didn’t.
Place in boiling water to cook. Stir once to keep them from sticking to the bottom. They will float after about 2 minutes. Cook about a minute longer, then remove with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle cooked perogies with melted butter and toss. You can either eat them now as a ravioli-like dumpling, or….
…. fry them until golden, as we do. I actually like them either way, but most of my family only likes them fried.

October Colors in the Garden

Burgundy mums are my favorite. Pink is nice, I’m sure yellow is cheery and all that, and orange is perfectly suitable for blending in with pumpkins and whatnot, but deep wine red is just so satisfying. And the smell! Not specific to any color, obviously, but I’ve been known to stand for a long while with a branch of mums in my hand, rubbing the leaves and inhaling deeply. I do this in the garden, in the flower shop, and once at a boutonniere work-shop, where my co-worker thought I was sniffing glue.  Anyway, let’s put that moment behind us… Last year, while working at the greenhouse, potting up mum cuttings for the fall season, I brought home a few extras, grew them on and planted them in my garden for a nice little autumn display. We had such a mild winter, one of them came back this year! That very rarely happens for me. I don’t mind a bit.

Second week of October, and still no frost. The Impatiens are grateful.

A new hosta I put in this summer. I wish I knew it’s name, but it had no tag when I got it. I find I am growing addicted to hostas, something I never would have believed could happen. They are just LEAVES after all, just a bunch of GREEN with pathetic flowers that don’t do much for anyone. Well… that mature clump does look really eye-catching… and those giant blue ones… and the tall neon-green… and those itty-bitty variegated ones with bright yellow stripes! Yeah. I’ve been bitten.

Clickety-clickety for a loooot of pictures, and more plant gushings than you ever wanted to read.

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Walking on Water

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and a couple of friends went over to a local historic site by the lake for a walk on a pleasant fall day. We haven’t had much rain in a while, the the lake level is down quite a bit. A lot, in fact. People in the area haven’t seen it this low in a long time.

We were able to walk along a good part of the lake-bottom, which is now a 20-30 foot-wide strip of barren rocky ground in some areas. The coolest part was, eons ago there was a train-tack that ran across a bay, from the town where I live  to the town, well, on the other side of the bay. Go figure.

Anyway, it hasn’t been there during my lifetime at least, but sometimes when the water is low you can see a bit of a point from the far side where the tracks once lay. Now, the water is so low, there is a point from our side  that is well above lake-level, half way across the bay.

So, naturally, we walked half way across the bay.

 

This far.

Because we simply couldn’t go any further.

 

Yet another tale to tell the grandchildren.

I walked half way across the lake.

Lunch

 

Blue potatoes, Spanish Spice peppers and yellow summer squash, fresh from the garden. We still haven’t had a frost, which is very surprising, heading into the second week of October.  I obviously didn’t eat everything pictured here, but I did slice up half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic with half a diced pepper and sauteed until the onion was soft. Then I pushed the onions to one side of the pan and put in a few slices of chicken breast, and after turning those I laid thinly sliced squash over everything, salt and pepper and put a lid on everything until the squash was tender and everything was ah-mazing. I’ve had good squash and I’ve had disgusting squash… this was probably the best yet.

Jamie Oliver: My New Foodie Nerd-Crush

 

As a friend of mine, who cheerfully gushes along with me, says “He’s so adorkable.”

Just this past week I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s TV show Jamie at Home. I don’t even remember how I found it, but I’ve been watching about ten episodes a day ever since. Love it. He’s a lot of fun, has a lot of passion for what he’s doing, so down-to-earth, and most importantly, his food is real. The very fact that a good part of his show occurs in his garden immediately made me see him as a ‘real’ person.

I’m afraid he’s already made me into a bit of a cooking-show snob, because when I decided to give The Pioneer Woman’s show a try, it lasted about15 minutes and I couldn’t take it any more. Sorry, Ree… you are a wonderfully entertaining writer, but in front of a camera is not where you were meant to be. I love you anyway. Someday, I will win a free Kitchen Aid from you.

Back to Jamie. He’s been around for quite a while, right? I’m pretty sure I’ve even cooked some of his recipes from Food Network’s website. I think I had heard of his efforts to get healthy meals into the schools. Did you know he owns a restaurant where they train teens from rough backgrounds into chefs, and give them the chance to actually work there after they are done training? Pretty cool. And also, if you need a good laugh, look up the names of his children. But don’t judge. He claims his wife named them.

And now I must leave you… softlyyyyy… (Ten points to the first one who knows why I just did that.)

Time to go check the mail.

Because I ordered two of Jamie Oliver’s cook-books. And.. and… they just might get here today. *grin*

As a parting gift, I give you Jamie Oliver, making English Onion Soup. The best part is his monologue whilst crying over the onions. Totally made my day.