Friday, September 30, 2011

Feel Good Friday Disaster

It's Friday night, I'm tired after a busy week and I'm not feeling the Feel Good Friday so much right now. I did such a good job planning for my back to school exhaustion (which I usually think means I have a disease until I remember that I am just back to the school routine and it takes some getting used to after a summer spent doing this) that I suddenly hit the wall this week.  I'm back to my regular school frenziness and my body didn't get the message and I'm a drooling mess every day by like 5pm.  Then I revive but it's usually for nothing.

So, I now have to muster the energy to come up with 5 things that were great this week.  Maybe I can do it if I go in reverse order.

I have intentions of making applesauce and canning the apples we got last Sunday, as well as the large bag of cranberries k-ster got from work this week.  So, since I don't have to peel the cranberries, I thought maybe tonight I'd make some cranberry sauce and can it.  So, I did.  And it tasted good.  And I have a lot more cranberries to go.  Even though I already froze some and put others aside for my sister.

You may have noticed the new blogher ads to the right and that's because I am now part of their network.  You have to be approved and I was, so at least someone thinks the words I write are not pure drivel.  This also entitles me to be part of the Blogher bookclub which k-ster is NOT going to like very much.  He thinks I read too much already.  Ah but little does he know, I will get paid for reading.

Ok, really, it was such an unremarkable week, I have to stop there or I will start complaining.   This might be the most pathetic Feel Good Friday I've ever done.

You must have had a more entertaining week than I did, so PLEASE go write about it, put the Feel Good Friday badge on your post (it's over in the margin at the right) and come back and tell me where to go.

Oh and my feel good moment right this minute is that next week is a 4 day week with kids because we have a professional day on Friday and then that's the long Columbus day weekend, so we all get next Monday off.  And with this new schedule, I won't miss any kids, I will just pick up whatever number day comes next after the last day I see them.  No more missing the Monday class on a Monday holiday.  HA HA HA HA HA no one is safe from the demands of Mademoiselle Sparkling this year!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Post Office Hates Me

 This is very definitely a WTF Wednesday post! 
We live in a town where we still get mail delivered by mailmen and mailwomen in those white boxy truck things, like in the old days.  We have 3 post offices for this one town that is divided into 3 villages (sort of).  Now that the USPS is in a bit of a pickle, I'm distressed.

Because my post office has grown to hate me.

We have a very confusing situation, here on the compound.

First, we have a campground which means that in the summer, we sometimes get mail for people staying here.

Second, about 20 years ago, they realized we had 3 streets of the same name in town, so rather than renaming the streets, they added numbers to our address.  We went from 98 to 698.  That was when I lived in my parents' house, the newer one they built when I was in high school.  The house next door, which is where I live now and where I grew up, went from 88 to 688.

Yes, I am literally 50 yards from the next house but I am a whole 10 numbers different.  But did I go and question the postmaster over this weirdness?  Of course not.

Third,  I'm not married, so I still have the same last name as my parents.  There are some bizarre pieces of mail that come and still have that address as mine.

Fourth, we also have a car wash here at the compound and it's on a different road, but the post office knows that all mail for that should go to my parents too.

Are you following all of this?

And fifth, I went through a phase where I wanted to get mail for things but didn't want to give my real name, so I made up a name and still get mail for that very name to this day.  Lulu Lepou has been sent offers for loans, credit cards and most often, the New York Times at a great rate.

Add to all of this that I get mail for the ABWA scholarships here, the Run for the Arts for the Cultural Center and often things with my school name because I might have registered for a conference that way.

I don't  know why there would be any confusion, do you?

Here's an example of the kind of mail my parents get when they go away for just a few days.  This is in January.  When no one is even in the campground! 

Anymailbox, the mailcarrierpeople have always been able to keep it all straight, delivering most of my parents' mail and the car wash and campground mail next door, and all of my mail and k-ster's mail to me. 
Except for some phone bills because the technical address for the campground is my address and when people want phone lines, the phone company uses this for their land address.  
Seriously, why would anyone not be able to keep all of this straight?

For.e.ver., we had the same mailman, day after day.   And he would steadily come around the same time each day.  Every so often, he' dramatically change the time of day, but then it would become regular at that time, and so on.

Then we noticed that we weren't getting the same mailman.  And we weren't getting mail at the same time on any.  8am one day, 4;55pm the next, etc.  Not really a big deal, we were still getting mail.

Then I noticed that a few times, I'd put up my little red 'I have mail to go out' flag, but they wouldn't come!  I'd hear them go whizzing by.  BUT I HAD MAIL TO GO OUT!!

So, I went to the post office and asked.  They said they don't have to stop if they don't have mail to give you.  Well, then why waste the time making the plastic flags if they don't have to be noticed???

One time, I caught a mailman as he was delivering and I asked why we get mail at all kinds of crazy times.  He said that this road is not really on anyone's route, so they just kind of grab it at random.  Strange, because this is kind of a busy road.  Mail trucks will drive up and down this road several times before and after bringing us the mail.

So, about a year go, the post office's clear dislike became apparent when they left me with this.  I kind of ignored it and no one cared.

Then, I noticed that I'd hear the mail truck, back and forth, back and forth, but I wouldn't get any mail.  The next day, a piece of mail would have the words "box blocked" written on it.  It seemed that my vehicle was blocking the easy access to the box.  Like they had to get out of their vehicle to go to my box.  Except that they had two options to get to my box and one of those options wasn't blocked.

Neither wind, nor rain.....

We had a guy for a while who would park out on the road and walk the 100 feet in to put my mail in.  I'd even shovel a path out to the road when we had crazy snow.

Then that stopped.  And repeatedly, when the "box was blocked" we wouldn't get mail.

We got another nasty note, looking as official as the last one, saying that the box was not in a safe area and if they can't safely access it, they can't deliver.

Now, I don't know what they mean by safe.  We have no dogs, so that can't be it.  It's not on a hill or mountain.  It's safely off the road, so no one is going to drive over them as they put the mail in the box.  We don't have a meth lab in that barn back there.   He has to simply drive around this island and put the mail in the box.

So, instead of moving it out to the street, I wait.  I'm kind of stubborn like that.

Since we don't have the same carrier every day, not everyone cares.  Some will come into the driveway even if The General is parked right in front of it.  During the summer, when it's more of an issue because I'm home more, I will run out to meet the mailman so he doesn't have to get out.  And he never says a word about it.

So, who is this mailcarrier that doesn't like us?

Saturday mornings are the biggest issue because we are usually home.  It's now become normal that I park on the lawn or over by the barn so that the mailman can "safely" get to the box.  K-ster has a habit of parking off the driveway, but from the road, it looks like he's on it, so they sometimes won't come in.  So they give us the mail the next time with the note, again on a piece of my mail, that says "box blocked".

Nor sleet, nor snow...

Now, here are some of my questions:

Is the post office allowed to WRITE ON MY MAIL?   EVER?  We used to have a guy who would put boxes inside one of the trucks in the yard if it was bad weather.  And he'd write "package in truck".  Really???  What if that truck wasn't one of ours????  And can they really write on my mail?

Is the post office going to use some of their bailout money to fill in the hole they create every day?  They peel out every day and there is now quite a hole.  It makes it dangerous for ME TO GET MY MAIL!!  There's no danger in the delivery, unless they are worried that they will never get out of the hole.  That they created.

Does it matter that I taught and enjoyed both of the kids of one of the people who brings my mail?  And they liked me?  Shouldn't I have an "in" there? And get my mail every time I'm due?  Like there they are, all of the mailmen standing around waiting for the mail to be ready and they are like "oh, have you been to that unsafe house?  The one with the BLOCKED BOX? "  And she'd be like "Oh, give them a break. She was the best teacher my kids ever had!"

When they 'accidentally' give me mail for other people on this street, should I bring it to the post office and get nasty and rub it in their faces?  We are all busy and live with pressures at work and make mistakes.  But since the nasty notes have been left in my box, I've noticed a surge in the amount of mail that is definitely not for us.  Sometimes, we get our neighbor's entire stack of mail because it was just behind ours.  But, I say nothing because I understand the confusion of my parents' mail.

And then there was day that k-ster was getting a new phone by mail.  He tracked it online and it said was to be delivered that day.  The mail came and went, no phone.  So he called the post office and they contacted the driver.  He said he hadn't been here yet and came back within minutes with the package but no "forgotten" mail.  Hmmm.  Curious, no?

So, like the character in that Adam Sandler movie that perpetually wants his "$2", I just want my mail.  And I want the mailtrucks to stop taunting me.  And I don't want my mailman writing notes on my mail.
If you are a mail carrier and you do your job well, I apologize if I have insulted you.  
If you are a mail carrier and you suck as much as ours do, well then SUCK IT.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My New Apple Peeler

How's that for a stimulating title?

I had never been anywhere to pick apples, except the local Stop and Shop, and now that I'm a professional canner, I plan to can lots of applesauce while the apples are still brand new.

Thus, my master plan to go to an orchard and pick apples since it's September in New England and that's what I'm supposed to do.  Then I'm going to come home and make a million jars of applesauce.

On Sunday, k-ster, my sister e-ster and her crew all went apple picking.  According to her, it was only a half hour from her house.  And it was, plus about another half hour more.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I pictured lots of rows of trees with people standing guard to make sure you didn't take more than your fair share or harm the trees.  I was pretty surprised when it was all independent and no one cared what you did as long as you didn't cross the yellow ropes.  Which people did anyway to sneak a few apples.

I wanted to know which types of apples I was picking, but there were no signs.  Just lots of red apples, red and green apples and greenish apples.  All kinds of sizes.

And this guy, picking some apples like he was a professional or something.  Height had its advantages, but I still got plenty even at my own 5'2.5" level.
When all was picked and bagged, k-ster and I had 42 pounds of apples.  A bushel is 48.  That's a lot of apples.   But, the recipes say it takes 21 pounds of apples to make 7 quarts of applesauce, so I don't think that's soooooo many.

And I made a pie already, so that's a couple of pounds less.  And I might just eat a few before I can get to canning them.

But here's the real reason I brought you here today:
I have no idea what this brand of apple peeler/corer is, but it's so cool!  I looked online and they all seemed to be between $14-$20, so I got the $14 one on  It took ruining one apple to figure it all out.
I had no idea that this little magic was going to happen.  I was shocked after the first apple went through and was like a slinky!  I just cut the stack in quarters and used them in my pie.
The peeler makes these cool stringy peels that most of the time were all one long string from one apple.

After the pie went in the oven, I had to see if I could also peel potatoes with this thing.  I have made mashed potatoes maybe 5 times in my life.  I just don't care about doing things with potatoes and don't buy them very often.  I mostly just make potato salad and I don't peel the potatoes.

I didn't get any pictures, but it peeled the potatoes just as nicely, so I made some mashed potatoes for supper.  K-ster was surprised.

Along with apples, the farm had lots of other produce growing, and of course, a pumpkin field.  You could just take one of their picked pumpkins, or you could go out in the field on the hay ride for $2.25 and "pick" one.  K-ster and I were not interested.

And yet, someone forked over the cash and off we went.  Since I had my very own homegrown pumpkin, I didn't need to buy one.  But this one right here bribed me with being able to pick my own corn when we got out in the field.

The kid driving the tractor wasn't sure about picking corn, and no one else was, and I didn't feel like getting arrested in the middle of a cornfield, so I skipped it.

Did I mention the VERY hot day that it was?  We've had a lot of rainy days and Sunday was supposed to be cloudy and rainy.  But then the sun came out.  And we were meeeeeeelting.

So, big plans for the weekend include a lot of applesauce being made and processed.  Maybe I'll be really good and get a batch going in the slowcooker and be ahead of myself.

Then we're on to cranberry sauce because k-ster has access to as many free cranberries as I want he wants.

Monday, September 26, 2011

John Deere Green

My sister a-ster and I have some unspoken john Deere thing going on.

I bought her a t-shirt from Canada that says John Moose in the John Deere emblem. 

She bought me a fleece that has the giant Deere emblem on it.

You know that as soon as she had that baby I knew I had to make something Deere related.

Oh Joann fabrics, you give me so many endless possibilities with your John Deere themed materials.....

Linking here:

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Feel Good Friday Time

So, here we are, it's Friday evening, and I'm just finding the time to do my Feel Good Friday roundup.  But, at least I'm doing it, so read along and then chime in with your own!

I've had this ring for a long time.  Until Tuesday, this ring had an opal in it.  I should say that k-ster gave it to me, but technically, k-ster gave me a ring that I did not like and when I took it to the store, this is what I liked in exchange.  Opal is my birthstone and I happen to think they are very pretty.  My favorite part about this ring is that it is square.  You don't see square opals very often.  If I had a nickel for every time I've received a compliment on that ring, I probably could afford a diamond by now~!
People tell me all the time that opals are very sensitive, they crack in the cold weather, blah blah blah.  I have never taken this thing off and I've had it for about 10 years.  I beat the odds.

2 years ago, as I was leaving the barn, I got into The General and the opal fell out, right into my hand.  I marveled at the timing.  Had it been 5 seconds earlier, it would have fallen on the dirt and that would have been the end of that.

I took it to a jeweler who glued it back on and said it looked great for its age and that she was surprised that it was that old and had been worn non stop.  A few months later, I took it to the same jewelry store to ask about resetting it in something with prongs and a different jeweler went nuts.  She was like "we would NEVER touch an opal.  We don't TOUCH opals" like they have diseases or something.  That store has now closed after like 50 years, so go figure.

I've looked at it a few times recently, thinking it looked strange, but it didn't seem loose.

On Tuesday, I was in a rush, making copies, and I ran out of paper.  I put two reams in and as I was taking my hand out from the second ream, I hit the ring on the tray and I heard a PING.  I KNEW IT! I KNEW from the way I put my hand in there that would happen.

After frantically searching the tray, I gave up and made my copies and went back to my room.  I was sure it was in the tray, under some place that I couldn't see, so my plan was to ask the service guy to dismantle the machine the next time he comes. 

As I was leaving, I knew I had to search again, so I went back in with a flashlight. After laying flat out on the floor, looking under the copier, I looked inside the tray itself.   The speckles in the stone caught the light and I found it!!

Now I know I've got to reset it in something with prongs.  Glue is not going to keep this thing in its place.  I am currently wearing the ring without the stone, while I wait until I can find a jeweler who will touch opals.  The ring itself is getting very thin on the band, so it's really time for me to do something. 

I'm just glad I found it!

Now grab the button, go write about your feel good moments this week and tell us where to go!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is It Just Me?

Does anyone else out there have a problem going from summer clothes to winter clothes?

I go just about the entire summer without long sleeves or long pants.  The first time I wear a sweatshirt or long sleeves, my arms freak out.

The first time I wear jeans, I feel trapped.  Capris don't seem to have the same effect and I do wear them on occasion in the summer.

But I have a very strict rule that once the summer clothes go on, nothing that resembles pants or winter clothes can be seen.  Unless it is super frigid, which can happen on very rare occasions.

Usually, there will be a few really cool nights in the summer when I put on a sweatshirt if I'm outside, but that didn't happen once this summer. 

So, thanks to a pretty cool weekend in the 50s and 60s, I've been forced to don some long sleeves and even a pair of jeans. 


Like I said the other day, I am so not ready for this.  I think it's a passing thing, but fall isn't too far around the corner.

Can't do it.

Can't face the shorter days and colder nights.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Might Be A CHeap Attempt To Get You To Look At My Abs

Most of my workout bottoms are either spandex/cotton bike type shorts, or capris.  I don't usually wear a lot of running shorts.   Even for running.  They usually ride up or just make me feel blah.

If I wear running shorts at the gym, I feel like if I do something on the floor, my butt falls out the leg opening.

Enter the best pair of shorts EVER.    They are the Champion® Women's Woven Running Shorts and do you think I can find a single pair left in this universe?

My sister gave me these just this past Christmas, and I have not been able to find the right kind since.  She got them at Target for like $10 and they still have them listed on the website but out of stock.  I guess everyone and their mother liked them too.

See the super wide band at the waist?  And the very wide tie?  There is something magical about these two things that no other short has ever had for me.  I like the tie on the outside because it just seems to fit there.  And the very wide band makes them stay where you tie them.  I have a serious problem with shorts moving all over my hip/waist area and when I'm running, that is not ok with me!

Here's the thing.  They say woven, but they are wind pants type material.  To me, and to the search engines, woven means that mesh stuff that lacrosse shorts are made of and they are not my thing.

Another thing that I love about these shorts is the back.  That white stripe is a great decoy. 

These shorts don't have built in underwear, but I can wear my real underwear and it's not obvious.  They are just loose enough in the leg/butt area that they don't cling.

And when I ran today, they didn't ride up much in the inner thigh area.

Now, I know you are thinking "psht, I bet I can find them online" because I would be thinking the same thing.  I have googled the bejesus out of these things and the best I can come up with is either a truly woven short(ew yuck) or a similar short with a skinny waist.  The wide waist on this really is the key.

And no, I did not go all review crazy and give up the general day to day trivialities that I usually blog about. 

Champion did not compensate me in any way for this commentary, though I would be most happy to review products for any workout wear in the future.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lazy Tacos

This post started because I wanted to feature this:

This is my favorite salsa in the ENTIRE world. It's just tomatoes, peppers and some onion.  No parsely.  No cilantro.  Maybe a touch of salt, but that's it.  No pureeing in the blender.  No cooking.

Seriously?  This might be rated my favorite thing to make and eat of all time.  I'm sitting here thinking about how good it was as I'm typing this.  Thinking I might just go strap the bowl to my face and eat away because it's that stinking good.

I think what I love is the crunchiness of it all and how it's not cooked.  I didn't realize most salsas in jars are cooked.  I learned this when I was all set to can this goodness and then realized it wasn't going to stay crispy under pressure.

So.  Sad.

Since I made this to eat tonight, I figured I'd show you my version of tacos.

I get really tired of taco shells that you stuff and break in like one bite.

I am also not really a fan of the burrito wrap for "soft tacos".

Plus, I'm kind of cheap, so buying the famous yellow taco package just burns my butt when I can get tortilla chips for a lot less and I don't have to bake them first.

So, a long time ago, I gave up on the taco shape and just started putting the ingredients out and using tortilla chips to eat it.  Here it is. in all of its glory.

I use ground turkey because I like to live on the edge with all of the recalls lately I don't eat red meat.

I am also a nutjob when it comes to packaged flavorings, so this is what I do.  I buy a packet of taco seasonings and then I completely ignore what it says.  I don't like too much flavor and when I was younger I always remembered it being really salty.  So not a fan of salt.

So, I put a little bit, like maybe 1/4 of the packet into some quantity of water.  I don't really care how much because it will all cook off and absorb into the meat anyway.  One packet lasts me a long time because I don't use much.

Then I pile on the ground turkey, cheese (any kind will do) and salsa and top it off with...plain yogurt.  Don't you dare say EEWWWWW gross.  When it's mixed with all of this goodness, you have no idea if it's sour cream or yogurt and this is thick greek yogurt, so you really can't tell.  And you can forget about the lettuce.  That's just a dumb addition, as far as we are concerned.

And since it's a) salsa from my garden (except the onion) and b) ground turkey with nowhere near as much salt as one whole packet of stuff would be and c) it's plain, non fat yogurt, you can just go HOG WILD and enjoy yourself. Get a handful of chips and scoop it all up.

K-ster never complains, so it must be pretty darned good.

Linking here:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Do You Say LeatherMAN or LeatherMUN?

I'm not talking about Leatherman today because the company asked me to.  I'm just going to tell you what I think of their tools and show you some pictures because they are a company that is true to their word.  And that is so rare.

If you Leatherman people want me to do actual reviews, I'd be happy to receive your free products, find people to beat the snot out of them and get back to you!

My father has been a big fan of the Leatherman tool for a long, long time.  So, it should not surprise you that I found a boy that also has had a fascination with Leatherman for a long, long time.

K-ster first owned a Leatherman about 10 years ago when we found one on the ground.  We got it repaired and BINGO, he was hooked.
K-ster assumes the position.  All you need to do is show the slightest sign that you might be struggling to open something and out comes the Leatherman to save the day.

There is not a circumstance where he can't find a reason to whip that bad boy out to help you out.
Did someone say they need a knife?


A saw?  Yes, this blade can cut through wood!
So what is a Leatherman?  It's a multi tool that has so many amazing tools on it, once you start using it, you can't be without it.  Ever.  Not. Ever.  It has a saw, a knife, a screwdriver, scissors(some models), a bottle opener(some models), pliers, a 1 foot measure and the list goes on and on.

Yep, it's like a Swiss army knife.  But it's not red.  Or Swiss.

It is NOT like this mutli tool that I got for free when I joined a garden club.
Mine is super cheapo depot and it's not comfortable to use.  The best asset it has is this pruning tool.  Leatherman makes one of those if you need that.

Perfect example of why mine is a piece of crap:  the plastic pops off.  And the pieces are stiff and don't move well.

And while it does have knives and things, there is vacant space around them so your fingers press inside the slots when you use it and it's not nice.

And it looks cheesy, like I got it at the Dollar Store.
Leatherman makes many different models and k-ster has had a few.  When he worked on boats, he used that thing every single day and could not live without it.

For Christmas this past year, my father got all 3 boys Leathermans (LEathermen?).  K-ster could not have been happier.  It immediately took its place in the Leatherman slot on his waist.  The other one ended up in the laundry room (?) where I kept seeing it and wanted to return it for repair but never got around to it.

Did I mention that for like 5 years, k-ster worked on boats and used his Leatherman EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.?  Did I mention that those boats were most often in the water?  And that he would often be precariously dangling from some tuna tower, holding on to a radar while trying to screw in something? 

And did I mention that in all that time, he never ever lost that Leatherman?  Never dropped it in the drink?

Guess what he did with the one my father gave him? (I can say this now because he recently  confessed)  He lost it because of his OWN BOAT!

He refurbished his dad's boat and he was so excited to take it down to the water, after hooking up the lights, he thinks he left his Leatherman on the tongue of the trailer.

And it was gone.

He was pretty sad.  Probably more sad that I made him walk all .7 miles to the beach, in the dark, with flashlights to see if maybe it fell off and we could find it.

Because losing a Leatherman is like losing your wallet.  Or your small child.

We looked everywhere.  I can't even imagine it really hung on long enough to get lost outside of the driveway, but we still haven't found it.

TA-DAH I saved the day by resurrecting his old one from the laundry room, the one that hadn't yet been repaired.

Then, when we were all working on the water and electric for the greenhouse a few weeks ago (I know, the damned thing went up in March and I'm still talking about how I dont' have water or electric out there), he confessed to my father that he lost it.


Never fear, he told my father, I still have my old one.

A few days later, my father handed me one of his Leathermans that looked like it had been through the mill and back.  Here, he said, give this to k-ster.  Send it back if you want and they'll give you a new one.

So I thought I'd surprise k-ster with a new one.  But, he saw it on the counter and thought I had found his missing one and was messing with him.  One does not mess with men and Leathermen.  I explained the plan, and off he went to the post office the next day.

A week later, a new one came to us, clean and whistle and sharper than, well, whatever is really sharp.

So, here's Leatherman's deal.  They guarantee their tools for 25 years.  That is one HELL of a long time for a tool.

If you know anything about me, the words guarantee, warranty, free, replacement are all music to my ears.  Hell yes, I'll pay to ship you my nasty, broken Leatherman if you'll replace it!

They take what you send, no receipt necessary, just fill out a form.  They have no idea if you bought it or not and don't seem to care.  They look at the problem and will either fix yours, give you a refurbished version of your model or send you the next closest thing if they don't make your style anymore.

And these things are not chintzy.  They are not cheesy.  They are super strong workhorses made of stainless steel and they can take a beating and then some.

And this company stands by their word.

They sent a letter with the new one explaining that they think the best thing is to send a refurbished version of what we sent back.  This is not brand spanking new but we certainly can't tell the difference.  All of the blades are really sharp and not bent.  Everything is where it should be.  It's not rusty or marked up.

This is not the first time we've made use of their return policy.  We have not been disappointed any of the times we've sent one back.

I also have to add that we aren't sending them back because they bent or broke when were using them to open the mail or tighten a screw.  These things take a severe beating around here, because they use them

This is one of those rare companies that still stands by their word and doesn't make it difficult to let them honor their guarantee.

And I'm one of those rare people who has come to expect that a man standing near me will, at all times, have a Leatherman on his belt.  I cannot tell you how often I realize that a Leatherman would truly make this easier.

And I cannot tell you how much I resent a man for NOT having one on him when I need it most.

I recently did a jewelry party where someone had a broken necklace.  All that needed to be done was to squeeze one of the wire things.  I didn't have anything with me.  The husband wouldn't leave, so I figured, hey, I'll make him useful.

I examined him for signs of a Leatherman but no luck.  So I asked him if he had a pair of pliers (or balls, because he clearly had neither).

It took an act of Congress to get him to let me hold them in my very own hand to do the very simple 3.2 second repair.

God I have no use for men like that.

Give me your Leatherman, toss it across the room if you have to (that's what Christmas morning is all about dodging the flying Leatherman), let me do it myownself and then I'll give it back.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Feel Good Friday Again and Again And Again

Here we are again. Haven't I said that somewhere before???  There's nothing like going back to school to make you really see the days fly by.  And today is our first morning that feels like fall.   It's a balmy 50 degrees at 6:30am and sure to get warmer, but I'm not ready for this.  It's perfect sleeping weather, I probably won't be sweaty at school, and we haven't had a frost yet, but I'm not ready.  If you run into Mother Nature, could you please let her know?

On to the feel good moments.

** I started watermelon very late- like August late.  I thought if I put them in this black wheelbarrow, in the greenhouse, on top of black fabric, maybe they wouldn't know it was late in the season and they would produce something. 

Right away,  2 plants emerged and soon had flowers.  And then they had little marbles of watermelons on them.  But they fell off.  I suspect they weren't pollinated.

Then we had that brush with Irene which made us put our plants in the greenhouse.  THis made for lots of flowers in the greenhouse and the bees were just knocking on the door to get in.  I left some flowers in there, opened the door and the sides and lo and behold

Looks like the bees got in there, after all!  With cool nights like last night, I dont' have a lot of hope that they will get much bigger, but we'll see.  THere are two more that are smaller.  The top picture is actually in the wheel barrow, where it's protected and very warm, and slightly larger. 

Now I know that if I start them on time next year and do the same thing, I am likely to have me some sweet, juicy watermelon!

** I managed to can some food over the weekend and I didn't blow up the house with the pressure cooker.  After 2 rounds for some of them, I feel pretty good about doing it and I'm looking for more things to can!

** I sold my office chair from school on craig's list in less than week!  I bought it when I first started teaching because I felt that I deserved to sit on a cushioned surface at some point in the day.  It was comfortable, but I sat in someone else's chair one day last year and realized it was time to upgrade.

So I did and sold mine for $20.  I thought that was a pretty good deal.  AND, he didn't kill me!

**  K-ster had a cold all week.  Not a feel good moment, of course.  But I didn't get it!  And it's been over a week!  FEEL GOOD MOMENT!  It was one of those old fashioned colds where you hear the coughing get better every day but it takes a while.  And it's that deep, phlegmy cough that takes a lot of effort with little result.  I don't know anyone right now with that kind of cold and it's a little out of season.  I don't know who he was licking to pick that up, but I think I steered clear of this one!

**  AFter last week's fussing about the school schedule and how we were going to "dump it and start over", we made it through this week without the new schedule.  My life was great all week and the best part is that I still have 6th grade for French.  I thought I wrote a whole post about the change but I can't find it.

Long story short, the news that I might lose 6th grade for foreign language made me FURIOUS last week and I've been dreading the moment that the final decision would be revealed.  So far, no changes. 

I like that they are still with me and enjoying themselves so that if/when the DO lose it, perhaps parents will be furious and will demand it back and they will have to put it back. 

I'm not clear why there is the potential to lose them and really, I don't know why this schedule isn't working, but so far, it's working pretty well for me!

And that, my friends, is the best I can do for this week. 

My 300th blogoversary is coming up and I don't know why to do.  For 100, I gave you 100 things that make me sparkle.  Then for 200, I gave you the ABCs of Sparkling.  I simply have no ideas for 300.  I can't write 300 things about myself.  I'm lost for ideas.  Hurry and send me some because it's like 3 posts away!

Now go grab the Feel Good Friday button, go write your own feel good moments and come back and tell us where to go.  And I will visit, I promise.  Musings and meanderings and dollycass, I'm going to see what you did last week, I swear. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Middle School Life Really Hinges On

It seems that my student, t-ster, has already done the WTF for us. 

"Nathan thinks I'm bi."


"because someone told him i was.  i don't know who"
"that's so messed up! who would  tell him that and did you ask him who?"

"no, mal told me cuz he asked her if i was."

"wow, wtf are you gonna ask him about it"


"okay good and i'm sorry  sam said that to him, it must suck"

Clearly, if Nathan thinks you're bi, then your life in 7th grade just ended.

I'm not clear about what sam said to him or why it sucks or who him really is.

This was confiscated while t-ster was supposed to be very excitedly doing something for me in class.

This is also amusing for me because it hits 3 generations in so many different ways!

Our mothers are going "bi?  bi what?"  "bisexual mom"  "Oh for God's sake!"

We are going "bi?  In middle school?  Did we even know what bi was in 7th grade?  Weren't we busy liking NKTOB and feathering our hair?"

20 somethings are going "yeah, ouch.  She's not gonna make it through middle school at this rate.  I remember when someone started a rumor that I was bi!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doing the CanCan

I have been wrestling with the idea of canning all summer.  I've read a lot about it, seen a lot of blogs where people extol the virtues of canning your own food and claim it's so easy.

In my searching, I learned that pressure canning is safer than water bath canning.  I also learned that the pressure cooker not only does it faster, it does it hotter.  And that lovely bochulism  bacteria like to live in food until it gets to 238 degrees and a pressure cooker magically goes to 240.  Perfect.

I've read so much conflicting stuff, my head is ready to explode faster than the pressure cooker could.  It seems that even the marvelous pressure cooker can make everything safe, according to some.  This means that you should follow a USDA approved recipe to make sure you don't kill anyone when you give these gorgeous gifts at Christmas.

Well, I debated and debated all summer.  I finally caved and bought a pressure cooker from Fagor that also had the canning tools necessary so you don't burn your fingers trying to juggle the glassware.  And there some weird plastic "tool" that you run around the inside of the jar to get rid of bubbles before you put the covers on.  This mystifies me because it's not even flexible.  It's like running a butter knife around the jar.  And I don't know how it's getting out any bubbles.  But, anyway.
If you have your mother's pressure cooker, you probably have something that has a rocking weight that sits on top and goes ch-ch-ch as it cooks.  These new fangled things don't have them.  They seem kind of chintzy with their plastic lock and dial, but they are  the new rage.

My original intention when making this hefty purchase was to make grape jelly from the luscious bounty that nature gave me this summer and to somehow can my favorite raw salsa in a way that still allowed for some crunch when I open it later.

I'm not even a fan of grape jelly, but I figured if nature wanted me to do it, I better get cracking.  I think k-ster has a deal with nature because he LOVES grape jelly.

Well, that takes care of that.
Thanks to cute little masked creatures that refused to look from this bush as I took a picture, I have no grapes for jelly.  They've shaken off just about every one of them and now it smells like a winery just as we step out the shower door out there.  They weren't even all ripe, so I hadn't seriously though about when I would pick them.  No need to worry about that anymore.

 So, on to the salsa.  I cannot get a clear answer, so I gave up on the salsa for now.  Instead, I decided to use this batch of tomatoes for spaghetti sauce.

 They were really starting to over ripen, so I needed to make a decision.  I decided to use the recipe for spaghetti sauce that came with the pressure cooker since it is supposed to work.

 Spaghetti sauce never looks pretty in the pot.  And all of those tomatoes boiled down to two stinkin' pints.

Some of the things I read online said you must sterilize the jars and lids.  Other places said if you are pressure canning, don't bother sterilizing.  I might be a tad bit of a worrywart, so I sterilized them.

While I was waiting for the sauce to cook and jars to sterilize, I removed all of the lace from this shirt because it look ridiculous and made my hips look a tad large.

I got 2 loads of laundry out on the line.
 I did a lot of dishes.  I got the recycling ready to go to the dump.

Good Housekeeping called and wanted an interview, but I told them I was far too busy with my domesticity for that.
So, it came time to fill the jars.  The funnel that came with the package is actually a fantastic idea.  Did you know that glass gets HOT to the touch when you pour boiling liquids into it?   Me neither.  That blue stick to the right is a magnet so you can pull the lids and collars out of the boiling water.  Nifty,  but not really necessary.  The blue handled things between the jars in the background is the jar grabber and is by far, the best invention I've see this week.  You can just pick up a jar out of the cooker and not burn yourself or do any kind of hot potato juggle.

The part about wiping the tops before putting the lids on always seems vague to me.  Do I dip the cloth down the inside of the jar a little to get any residue away from there too? I wish I knew all of these answers for sure!

And we're off.  It's always a good idea to practice safe cooking.
After making up some of my own rules about what was not clear in the directions, the process was over.   Here are my first two little jars of bochulism.  

Sadly, when the jars came out, they had some residue on them. I wasn't sure what to do.  Again, conflicting reports online.  Some places said no way, you must reprocess them.  Some said they were fine if the tops were definitely sealed.

I waited until they were cool and one was definitely not sealed.  The top came right off.  The other was definitely sealed, but I'm a little nervous about this, so I popped the top and redid them.

The second time through, they seem to be perfect.  I think I did not leave enough headroom the first time.  Everything said one inch, but the second time, I lift like 1.5 inches and it seems to have worked.

There are lots of scary parts to this.  Like, I'm not sure at which point I am supposed to start the timer.  And I'm not sure what sounds my pressure cooker should make.

After going through 2 processes with the tomato sauce, I think I know what sound is right on the cooker.  And my brain says to start the timer when a little steam comes out of the steam thing once I add the weight.  There should be some steam, just not a large white cloud of it.  And i think it should be slightly hissing the whole time.  It just doesn't make the ch ch ch of my mother's.

Now I'm running around wondering what else I can can!  I am not really a canned vegetable person.  In fact, I am not at all a canned green bean person.

I definitely want to can applesauce.  But first I need the apples.  I will be on the hunt for the next couple of weeks to find local apples that are not too sweet.

In the meantime, I decided I should can the winter squash that Irene made me harvest.

I've been debating what to do with these.  They all had a little nick or two or 8 from some ambitious squirrels, and I wasn't sure how far they went down.  I didn't think I wanted to store them anywhere for very long because there might be some rot from the nicks.

I am not overly in love with winter squash, but I do need it to complete the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, so my plan was to keep them for one or both of those.

I found directions to can them and decided that is the way to go.  This way, they won't rot.  At least, not if I did them right.

Did you know that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you EVER can mashed squash?  Click the link.  You have to go read it.  I can't explain why it makes me laugh so hard.

So, I cubed it all up and boiled it for 2 minutes.  Again the debate.  I didn't put them in until the water was boiling, lest I overboil and cause mush.  But, when I put them in, it took time for the water to boil again.  Should I start the time once the boil comes back?

That's what I did.  So they were in hot water for like 6-10 minutes.  Blanching is another of those mysteries that no one seems to be able to answer to my satisfaction.

Then I found out that I had enough for 4 quarts, but I only sterilized 3 quarts and 2 pints.  That meant I had to do 2 separate processes because I didn't have room for 5 jars at once.

90 minutes of actually cooking for the quarts and 55 minutes for the pints.  And each time, you have to wait for the steam to all release before you are done.  And you can't do the forced method of cooling it down.

It took me two tries with one of the jars of squash but the rest seem fine.  I think my problem is that I wasn't tightening the lids enough.  It says not too tight.  But what does that mean?  

So, it looks like we might have just enough for Thanksgiving(minus the spaghetti sauce, of course).

Now if I can convince everyone that we will all be fine if we eat it....

There really is a science to it.  I do not know how people did it back in the old days.  I don't think many people were really killed by the bacteria.  So just how did they do it?

Now that I've done it, I think I get how it works.  If not, the body numbing paralysis will take over within 4 days of eating, so I will certainly know at that point.

Nothing But Country