Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Picture Heavy

Isn't this a beautiful color?  There are lots of them planted around where the old house used to be and they are all blooming now.  I just love that there are already some flowers planted out here.  One thing I don't have are flower seeds.  I'd love to have some more color out here.  But there are other things I would like to get planted first. Like fruit trees and a big asparagus bed.  Of course it all takes money and I haven't got that dang money tree to produce anything yet!  <sigh>

I'm as pleased as I can be about these past few days of prepping.  With all the cucumbers from the garden I've been able to put up 3 quarts and 8 pints of Bread and Butter pickles.I have found a crispy dill pickle recipe that I'm going to get brave and try in a few days.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of cucumbers to work with by then.  We picked all the hot peppers that were on the plants the other day and I put up a pint of pickled peppers for Mars this winter. I'm hoping I can put some more of them up as well.  I also made 6 jars of strawberry jam.
  I just love homemade bread. I mean who doesn't?  So toast with jam and a cup of coffee for breakfast makes me  one happy lady!  I'm gonna brag on myself here and say that this is by far the best jam that I have put up so far.
There must seriously be something wrong with me.  I just realized that I haven't told you guys about the newest members of our little homestead.  We went to the local Chicken Swap a couple of weeks ago looking for a couple of rabbits to add to our "herd".  We arrived fairly early (for me) and were surprised to find that there was hardly anyone there.  I guess it must be getting to hot out there to haul all those animals out there and then sit in the sun for several hours.  There is absolutely NO shade out there.  There was one person with a billy goat, the local feed store who had a few baby chicks and a couple of folks who brought their garage sale items out.  No rabbits or fresh produce or anything like that.  I was just a bit disappointed.  Well, not to be put off, Mars suggested we call the man we got the first rabbits from.  Come to find out he was attending a Farmer's Market in a town several miles away.  Since it was Saturday and we were already out and about we decided to ride over there and see what he had.  Besides, we haven't done much checking out of the area we have moved to. I'm still trying to get an idea of the lay of the land.  Back when folks could still afford gas, one of our favorite pastimes used to be just taking off and riding with no real destination in mind.  We have found some really neat places that way over the years.
Like this horse trader's place. There were literally hundreds of horses out here. I have never seen so many horses in one place in all my life!
Check out this old train engine.  It's just sitting out in that field rusting.  What a shame!  I thought it was pretty cool though!

We brought home 3 New Zealand Rabbits.  2 Does and a Buck. (I'm so original- I named him Buck) I don't know what happened to the picture I wanted to show you of them.  Oh well, I'm sure I will bore you with plenty more of them soon enough....
They are still to young to start breeding yet but that's ok.  It's so hot right now that I really don't want to try just yet.  It's just too hard on them.  So by the time they are ready to go it will be cool enough.  Then .... bring on the bunny stew!  Here's a picture of Beaudreaux the Giant though!  I'm starting to notice a trend in the names of the animals around here.  Our dog's name is B.B.
Living in the country I knew that there would be "critter's" out here.  I even knew that there would be spiders and snakes. That being said it doesn't mean I have to like them!  Miss Kitty found a huge tarantula out here. That thing was bigger than my hand. And if that spider wasn't bad enough, Check out the critter we found her stalking.  You know, I'm ok with spiders... they are creepy and all but I can deal with them.  It's walking through a spider web that totally freaks me out because you never know if it is on you somewhere. 
Snakes are a whole other story.  They freak me out.  A LOT. Like bad enough that I have been known to hurt myself trying to get away from them.  I don't know what kind of snake this is. Just that it was about 2 1/2 foot long and really fat around the middle.  Any idea what kind of snake this is? 

Because while Mars was out mowing the other day he scared off one just like this one.  The difference?  It was at least couple of feet longer than this one. 
It's still out there somewhere, so if you have any ideas on what it is, I sure would like to know. 
      ~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bread and Butter Pickles

A day late and a dollar short but as promised here is my recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles.  This was also my first time using my Tattler lids.  If you haven't heard about these boy oh boy are you missing out!  These lids are reusable.  As in you can use them year after year.  They are a little pricey but you have to remember that you aren't having to keep buying lids over and over again.  These are a great addition to your preps.  There may come a day when canning lids are hard to come by.  Check them out HERE

OK.... Let's talk pickles!  I started with the cucumbers you see here.  I didn't count them but I am pretty sure there are around 25 (more or less).  I cut up the cucumbers into slices.  Then I sliced my onions and put them in a big bowl.  I added the salt and covered them with lots of ice. Then set them in the fridge for a few hours.  This will give them the crispy crunch I like.

It's so hot here that I waited until after dark to start the canning process.  I put my waterbath canning pot on the stove to get my water ready to boil.  Then I rinsed off the pickles and onions.  You want to make sure you rinse them really well or they will be pretty salty.  You don't want that!  I also got my lids and rings ready to go. 

Next it was time to get my "mix" ready.  I put the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, cloves and turmeric in a large pot and got it to boiling.  Then I added my  pickles and onions and let it get back to almost boiling.  Oh, if you have never used turmeric before you might want to know that it will stain your cabinet top.  So be careful with it.  (Hmmm.... I bet you could use it as a dye if you like that weird yellow color) 

I took it off the stove and started filling my jars.  You want to be sure you get a good seal so be sure to wipe the tops of your jars.  This mixture is sticky!  Fill your jars up, leaving about a 1/2 inch head space. The Tattler lids are a little different than using regular canning lids.  With them you put the rubber ring on and then center the lid.  Tighten the ring on them and then back the lid up a 1/4 inch.  Process for 10 minutes.  Lift your jars out and put them on a towel.  Tighten the rings back up on your jars and let them cool somewhere without a draft hitting them.  Once the jars have cooled you can remove the rings. The only thing I don't like about the Tattler lids is that they don't "Ping" when they seal.  You actually have to pull on the lid to make sure it sealed.  

These pickles are best if you let them sit a couple of weeks. If you can wait that long!!  I only had one jar that didn't seal.  My guess is that I didn't clean the rim of the jar well enough.  See the one with the ring still on it?  That's the jar I put in the fridge for eating first.  

Oh I didn't mention how yummy they are.  I guess you will have to try them for yourself and see!  Some folks add green peppers and garlic to their Bread and Butter Pickles but I don't.  These are exactly like the ones my great grandmother used to make.  Brings back good memories.

Bread and Butter Pickles

    25 cucumbers, thinly sliced
    6 onions, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup salt
    3 cups cider vinegar (I used regular vinegar because I was out of the other)
    4 cups white sugar 

    2 tablespoons mustard seed
    1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
    1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
    1 tablespoon ground turmeric


    In a large bowl, mix together cucumbers, onions, and salt. Allow to stand approximately 3 hours.

    In a large saucepan, mix the cider vinegar, white sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, whole cloves and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
    Drain liquid from the cucumber mixture. Rinse well. Stir the mixture into the boiling vinegar mixture. Remove from heat shortly before the combined mixtures return to boil.
 Ladle into jars, leaving  1/2 inch headspace and waterbath process for 10 minutes.

And there you have it.  Pretty simple really and it didn't take much time at all to do.
      ~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pickle Rambling

So many folks are scared to try canning foods.  I think it is because of all the tales you hear about canners blowing up.  I am here to say that the odds of your canner blowing up are pretty small. Your chances of hitting the lottery are better.  Even if you are one of those folks, canning things like pickles, tomato's, jams and jellies isn't something you have to worry about.  They are done by a different process called waterbath canning, which is basically boiling the sealed jars in a big pot of water.  Tomorrow I'll show you how easy it is to make Bread and Butter Pickles even if you have never canned anything before!  And I promise, they won't blow up!

We don't eat many dill pickles around here.  I mainly use them while making tuna salad and things like that. I've never made dill pickles.  For some reason I'm nervous about it.  Have you ever seen the old Mayberry RFD show about Miss Bea and her dill pickles?  That show scarred me.  It got me worried about making good dill pickles.  I'm going to have to get over that this year though. With as many cucumbers as we getting from 6 plants (Hey, I didn't think they would ALL come up)  I'm going to have to learn this year.  So here's where I am hoping some of you can help me out.  

I need to find a really good crispy dill pickle recipe.  I'd like to try one that you have had good luck with rather than to just try one off the internet and hope for the best.  So it would be wonderful if you could share your "tried and true" recipes here.  I'd be willing to trade you  my yummy Bread and Butter pickle recipe for it! 
Awww.... who am I kidding.... I've already said I'll share it with you,  but I was hoping it just might motivate you to share.  You show me yours and I'll show you mine!   ^_^

  I absolutely love bread and butter pickles. I've been known to sit down with a jar and a fork and polish off a half a jar few all by myself.   I put up several jars two years ago and wouldn't you know it they are now all gone. I've been craving them lately.  So yesterday I made a batch of them using the pile of cucumbers that just keeps growing in the fridge.  NO, they aren't growing IN the fridge but you know what I mean!  How do I know they came out good?  Uhmmm..... I had one jar that didn't seal so I stuck it in the fridge.  Once they got good and cold I just HAD to try them. They are supposed to sit for a couple of weeks to "cure" but there is still a half a jar are still some left for when they get ready to eat!

Anyway.... I actually started this post thinking I would share with you just how simple it is to make pickles. Who knew I has so much to say about them!
      ~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home Made Banana Pudding

Today is the first day of summer.  Around here it has been hot and dry for several weeks already,  What with the wildfires and flooding around the country we have been luckier than a lot of folks.
The tomato's that have set fruit still haven't turned red and I'm not seeing any more fruit setting. They are still making blooms though so we'll see what happens.  We've been getting a little rain off and on but not enough to be able to stop watering.  A couple of weeks ago I started some cantaloupe, watermelon, and three kinds of squash.  They sprang up in 3 days!  It's pretty late to be starting them I know but I just wanted to try.  Hey, if it works it works... If not I've wasted a small amount of seed.  Anyway... Mars went out this morning and started tilling up another garden spot to put them in.  I've got my finger's crossed that we will get some goodies from them.

  Several months ago we had checked on satellite internet connections out here.  It was (and is) available but they wanted $70 a month for the service. There are limits to the amount of bandwidth you can use as well. Needless to say that was out of our budget and so we ended up going with a wireless internet provider who charges $50 a month with unlimited bandwidth.  The connection is slow and unstable at best. Watching videos and such is painfully slow but it is, as they say, better than nothing.  I was truly surprised to get an email last week from the satellite company saying that our address had been chosen to participate in the Broadband Recovery Act. It was a part of some of the stimulus money spent in 09.  They provide internet access to folks in rural areas who cannot get highspeed access through cable or a phone line.  The cost?  $40 a month for unlimited usage.  Now I am sure that some folks are going to talk about how it's just another government program and that I should be ashamed to be using it.  Say what you will, the money has already been spent and I qualify.  I am going to take advantage of it. If that makes me a bad person- so be it. 

I tried my hand at making Banana Pudding from scratch this weekend.  I was pretty impressed with how easy it was. I also did something I've never done or even heard of anyone doing before. I'm not saying it hasn't been done, just that it was a first for us.  I added strawberries to it!  Oh so yummy! It turned out great too apparently because it didn't even last 24 hours!  I sure should have taken a picture but I was just a tad late. By the time I thought of it all that was left was an empty pan.

Banana Pudding
    2/3 cup white sugar
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 eggs, beaten
    2 cups milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons butter, softened
    2 bananas, peeled and sliced
    1/2 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafer cookies
 *** 1 cup sliced strawberries ***  optional but OMGosh so good!
    In medium saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs and stir well. Stir in milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. This will take at least 15 minutes.When mixture begins to get pretty thick, remove from heat and continue to stir, cooling slightly. Stir in vanilla and butter until smooth.
    In 9x9-inch dish, layer the pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers. Chill at least one hour in refrigerator before serving.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest Post on Father's Day

I would like to share a letter I received from a dear friend.  She tells some of the best stories. All are told with an honesty that I personally admire.  So I asked her if she would write something to share here. The following is the letter (and the story) she shared with me.  I haven't changed any spelling, punctuation or content because I felt that doing so would "tarnish" this loving missive to her father. 

  Now mind  you, me and my mama were never really close when I was growin' up.  She ruled the roost and was the Boss-  Nobody ever messes with my mama. Nobody.  Grandaddy called her "The Judge".

  When she said somethin' she meant bidness.  She's a good fair honest woman, She just didn't know how to love.  I think it was somethin' stemmin' from her childhood.  She was raised like that in real hard times.  You had to walk the line.  
   I always wondered if she really loved me cause so many times she'd say "I'd rather be at work than home with you darn kids."  And she meant it.  She was a professional woman, a nurse, and the best one in town.  She loved what she did and they loved her.  She just wasn't domesticated if ya know what I mean.  Don't remember her ever washing dishes.
   But life was good. Very simple and honest, But we made it. I know she loved me. She just didn't know how to show it.
   As years went by my little Daddy did too. Now mind you , he was my heart. The very first man to ever hold me in his arms and tell me he loved me.  I loved my Daddy. We could talk to each other without saying a word.  It's true, when we looked at each other we knew what the other was thinking.  So close we were.
   When my Daddy got sick I worked during the day and stayed up with him at night taking care of him.  My own family was put on hold for years so I could.  They understood how I am and how much I loved him.
   I'd crawl up in the bed with him and hold him, and sing to him and hold his hand.  Watching Daddy suffer was the hardest thing I ever had to go through.I clung to him like white on rice.  He was mine... that was my Daddy.  Never in my life have I met a sweeter man.  He was a war vet and that caused him much heartache in his life.  When he first got sick he stayed with us and loved it here.  He was so happy.  Him and my husband would watch TV together.  Daddy would pat my husband on the hand. You couldn't walk past him he didn't pat you somewhere.  
  Now mind you I was a normal kid .who I admit. needed a good whoopin' every now and then.  I'll admit it, but Daddy only whooped me one time in my life.  He said somethin' to me, and I was at that smarty pants age then.  Honey, I put my hands on my hips in the yard and went ya ya ya ya ya...

 Well....... in that instant I realized what I just did-  And I took off runnin'. Bout halfway around the house he caught me.  Don't you EVER run away from me.  At that instant I was so sorry.  Oh Daddy, I never wanted to run away from you, I always wanted to run TO YOU.  You were my heart.

  Oh, I didn't tell ya about mama coming up here stealing my Daddy  from me cause she was mad did I?  Yep, one day I had 2 Drs. appointments and she came and stole my daddy and took him back home.  She didn't want my Daddy.  She wanted to hurt me, and she did.  Took me two weeks to get up the nerve to go see him cause I didn't want to deal with her- didn't speak to her for a long time after that.  Daddy could not talk from the strokes, but when I got there and sat down in front of him he said just as plain as day - "What took you so long?"  The whole house was in shock.  I told him  "Oh Daddy I didn't want this, she stole you from me. "  And I had to leave him there cause she was the boss.
  As Father's day approaches I think about all this and try to put feelings to paper.  Maybe it will help me.  I do appreciate her for quitting her job to care for Daddy.  She didn't want to, and it really affected them, money-wise but she did it.  She really DID. 
I personally would have done alot different in his care, but she was his wife.
  Now she is the one being cared for by me and I try hard everyday to show her what love is.  And I know she misses him even thought she didn't show it, cause that's when mama started going down, after Daddy died.
  When the sweetest man in the world leaves here and goes back to heaven things are never the same again.  I've cried and cried and cried..
  Been through alot cause I couldn't give him up - He was mine-  How dare death snatch him away from me, I hate the devil.
I used to pack me a little picnic lunch and a blanket and go to the cemetery to talk to him.  When I say I couldn't give him up I mean it, it was real hard that the death thief stole my daddy.
  As time went on I became a little better and got stronger. But not being able to just bury my nose in Daddy and smell him is tough - Or not hearing his voice...
  I wait on the phone to ring and hear him say "Hey Miss Burr".  He named me Miss Burr and that's another story, I'll just give you a clue... I got bad hair and am real tender headed.  When mama would snatch it and brush it and almost pull me bald headed, he calmed me just by looking at me through my tears and say "Hey Miss Burr".

 Man I LOVE my Daddy.

 So Daddy - I told you it was okay if you have to go cause you was hurtin' so bad.  I told you I would find you where ever you are, and I will do that.  Just as soon as I get there I'm lookin' for you .  I can't wait to see you again and hug and smell you and hear your voice.  I know just what you are gonna say....
 "Hey Miss Burr!!"   Oh Happy Day!

written by MissBurr

I just want to add a little something here.  MissBurr now takes care of her mother in a hospice situation in her own home.  She tries every day to show her mother the love that she feels for her.  I just hope that each of us remembers just how special our own parent's are... Today and every day.
      ~~~~~ Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tips For Grilling./ BBQ

Well folks, it's Father's Day weekend.  Are you planning anything special?  I know around here that Father's Day usually means there will be a fire in the BBQ pit and good food on it.

I am not the "grill pro" around here, I leave that to the experts, but I've got a couple of hints that I would like to share with you. Some of them are so obvious you might wonder why you hadn't thought of them yourself!  Or you will be saying "Why is she telling me this?  I KNEW that already!"  Either way, I hope there is something here that you can use.

A quick and easy way to estimate the temperature of the coals is to hold the palm of your hand about four inches above the coals. Count the seconds you can hold your hand there before the heat forces you to pull it away. Then use the handy chart below to determine the temperature.­
­ ­
SecondsCoal Temperature
2 375°F or more
3 350° to 375°
4 300° to 350°
5 200° to 300°
1.  Take your meat out early.  Let it sit out for at least twenty minutes before putting it on the grill. Season your steaks and let them sit.  The salt and seasonings will have a chance to dissolve evenly into the meat rather than ending up on the grill. Steaks at room temperature will take the seasoning better and will cook faster.

2. Soak your wooden skewers or toothpicks in water for about 20 minutes before you use them.  They will absorb water and keep the wood from burning.

3. The easiest way to clean a dirty grill is to use a stiff wire brush and scrub the grill while it is still warm. If you will do this after you finish cooking it will be good to go the next time you cook.  Before you use the grill you can take a cut lemon and cover the cut side with sea salt or kosher salt and rub it on the grill to clean and sanitize it.  This trick works great for sanitizing your cutting boards when you are camping too.

4.  Don't poke your meat!  Use tongs or a spatula to turn your meat.  It lets out the juices and can dry out your meat. 

5. Make all your other dishes first.  Don't be trying to "time" things.  Unless you are cooking your sides on the grill you will just end up running back and forth from the kitchen to the BBQ pit.  Plan on getting all your side dishes done before your steak hits the grill. 

6. Use the hot grill to create “cross-hatch” grill marks. Set your steak down at a 45-degree angle from your grill lines. About a quarter of the way through cooking, give it a quarter turn. Half-way through cooking, flip it once. Give it a final quarter turn for the last bit of cooking. When you are done you should have a steak that looks like it belongs on a commercial. This might not be the most important thing in your day, but if you’re on a first date or trying to impress give it a shot.

7. Set your coals up so that you have zones of cooking. Always start off on a hot spot. You want good color and flavor from the high heat. When you flip it, don’t put it down on the same spot as before — it will be cooler. Find another hot spot to continue getting good color and flavor. 

Ok there ya have it. A few grill tips from the cheering section!  I hope I haven't stepped on any "chef" toes here.  Just a few observations picked up over the years.  I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful weekend.  Don't forget the Dad in YOUR life!  And if your dad is anything like mine.... He won't listen to a word of this!  Happy Grilling!
      ~~~~~  Hey .... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hamburger Helper Mix DIY

These days it seems alot of folks just don't have the time to spend in the kitchen.  Convenience foods have become a way of life for many.  The problem is that most of it is not very healthy.  Lots of salt and preservatives that you can't even pronounce.  Reading the contents can be a tongue-twisting teaser at best.  So why not try your hand at making your own mixes?  They are easy to make and can be so much better for you.  You can control your ingredients (including the salt) and tweak them to your own family's tastes.  Don't like an ingredient?  Don't add it!  Another thing I like about making my own mixes is that I am not paying for the packaging OR the preservatives!  

I have found several different mixes that just might come in handy when you are in a hurry and looking for a quick fix.  Many of them can be made from ingredients from your own food pantry.  They are easy to make and great to have on hand.  

Today I thought I would share a recipe for making your own Hamburger Helper. The great thing is that you can eliminate the things you might not like or add some things that you do.  Cheap, easy and so much better for you too. I love the convenience of Hamburger Helper but being cheap...errr frugal I hate paying the price they want for it. The trick is to keep plenty of this mix on hand so you won't be tempted to pick up a box at the store. 

Home-style Hamburger Helper

2 cups nonfat dry milk
1 cup corn starch
1/4 cup beef bouillon powder
2 tablespoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients well and store in an air tight jar.
Now here are some recipes for using this mix.

Chili Mac
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 cup water
1/2 cup macaroni noodles (uncooked)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1  Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup Hamburger Helper mix

Combine all and simmer 20 minutes or until macaroni is cooked.

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
2 cups water
1/2 cup Hamburger Helper mix
2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine all except sour cream. Simmer 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Stir in sour cream and serve.

Potato Beef Casserole

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
3/4 cup water
6 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup frozen mixed veggies
1/2 cup Hamburger Helper mix

Combine all and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook until excess water is evaporated.

Easy Lasagna

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 cup Hamburger Helper mix
1 onion, chopped
2 cups water
16 oz tomato sauce
3 cups lasagna noodles, uncooked, broken in bits
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Combine all except mozzarella in large skillet. Bring to a boil, let simmer for 15 minutes or until noodles are cooked. Top with mozzarella. Turn off heat and let cheese melt.

And there you have it!  Easy to make and so much better for you AND your wallet.  I'll be posting some more easy mixes in the future.  Heaven knows I have plenty of them to share!
      ~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~~

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Thoughts

I was talking with my friend Mrs M
(Mushroom) a couple of nights ago.  If you recall, Mars had put in a garden while we were there.  I'm happy to say that it seems that everything is doing well.  We had planted turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, radishes, and spinach. Anyway....   She is now harvesting a bunch of stuff.  Lots and lots of turnips (and greens) from what she's said.  So much, in fact that she is canning some of the turnips.  The cabbage and broccoli are doing great too and they are enjoying some downright tasty meals from the garden!  I think that most everything has done well except for the spinach.  It just didn't come up like it should have.  The germination rate was nearly 0%.  Oh well, that's the way things go sometimes.
Someone asked Mars how he felt about leaving the garden behind and his response was  "Hey, they have done so much for us that I just wanted to be able to do a little something for them."   Amen to that! 

I was talking with my mother the other day about not having a "real" garden this spring.  She reminded me that we DID have tomato's, peppers, cucumbers and herbs growing.  Well, what she was trying to tell me was that I should be happy to have all that stuff in the ground.  And she is so right.  I should be happy about what we DO have, not worried about what we don't.  Gotta love Mom's don't ya?  Always ready to bring you back to reality!   

As for tomato's we have several plants setting fruit!  If you were wondering what that picture up there was... Its a bad shot of a couple of tomato's!  I wasn't sure if they would actually set fruit or not since we were so late in getting them in the ground.  They have taken off like gangbusters for sure!  Mars didn't hand-pollinate them this year and I am happy to say that it didn't seem to matter.  Seems like we have a few bee's around to do the pollinating for us.  We should get quite a few tomato's if all goes well.  Although it is getting really hot during the day the night time temperatures are staying low enough for them to continue to make fruit.  Lots of people don't know that once the night temps get above 75 degrees tomato's won't set fruit.  As long as the plant is still healthy though I suggest that rather than pull it up you just let it "hang out" until fall when the temperatures cool back down.  They will start  producing again. 

I was talking with Mars the other day about fall tomato's.  Actually, I was wondering out loud if I should be starting some seeds.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind and just started laughing.  Said "Do you really think you are going to need MORE tomato's this fall?"   I had to laugh.... if even 1/3 of the ones we have planted do well I don't think we are going to be short on tomato's this year!  LOL

 I still haven't named the rabbits.  I want to thank you all for the great suggestions!  The only problem is that now I'm even more confused as to what we are gonna call them!  
      ~~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~~

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Name that Rabbit

Sorry for the recent lack of posts around here.  This time there is an actual technical reason for it.  
I've been offline for a few days.  It seems that the wi-fi "box" is bad.  Again.  I'm beginning to think that using a wireless connection wasn't a good way to go.  This will be the third time it has been replaced in the last two months.  We are using VirginMobile's connection.  It is supposed to be unlimited service and can handle up to five devices connected to it for fifty bucks a month.  Which sounds great, right?
 Yeah, not so much.... the connection is slow and  if you want to watch any kind of video it takes forever to download. Of course, if you lose the connection during the downloading you have to start all over again.  And trying to watch "streaming" video is almost painful.  I really didn't expect it to be lightning fast but I sure didn't expect it to hurt as much as dial-up! But hey, their customer service is outstanding!  They sent another "box" and we got it in a couple of days.  Sometimes being without internet can be a good thing, but that's a whole 'nother story.   Of course the only other option available out here is satellite but I'm really not ready to give up the extra money now.  Anyway... I'm back online again, I guess we will see how things work out.
 We've been keeping busy around here.  The weather has been hot and dry which is what we needed to be able to move the RV to its final resting spot!  Now that the trailer has been moved it's starting to feel like "home" around here.  We were able to move it without a hitch this time.  I can't put my finger on just what the difference is but it just feels like the right place for it. Things are beginning to feel more and more like home around here.
There is still much to be done as far as getting all the utilities in their final spot but Mars is making lots of progress.  He's been digging a trench to bury the septic line the past couple of days and almost has it ready to lay the pipe.  He's been doing the digging in the early mornings before it just gets to danged hot to be out there. Once that is done the same thing will need to be done for the water and electric lines.  He sure has his work cut out for him.
 I'm still so happy about finally having rabbits.  I've wanted to raise them for a long time and now I finally can. They are officially our first attempt at securing an alternate  meat source. That, for me, is a really big deal.  We have wanted to try for more self reliance and this is a great start.   We still have to build a chicken coop so we can start raising chickens.  Hopefully it won't be much longer on that.  We have most everything we need except for the chicken wire.  I'm hoping to run into some sort of a good deal on that.  Money is super tight but we will figure something out! 
  I just love the rabbits!  The buck is really a friendly little guy and will nuzzle my hand to get me to pet him. He's a lover....well.. lets hope he is anyway or he'll end up being Sunday dinner!   The  doe... not so much on the friendly.  She's still a bit standoffish but I'm working on her.   The snacks and ice bottles seem to be helping.  LOL.    I want her to be comfortable with me so that when she has babies she might more ok with me being around them.  Of course it really isn't going to matter much.   As long as she does her job anyway.   It's been so hot that  I've got some  2 liter bottles that I've frozen just for them.   I put them in their cages in the afternoon.  They love it!  They will lay on top of or next to the bottles to cool off some. 
I still haven't named the rabbits and for some reason I haven't been inspired with any good ones.  So for now I've just been calling them whatever pops into my head when I'm out with them.  What?  You don't talk to your animals?  LOL  Hey, if you have any suggestions for names just leave me a message in the comments.  I could use your help.
      ~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday in June

We went to the local Chicken Swap again this weekend.  This time we managed to get there alot earlier than we did the last time.  It was great.  They had all kinds of chickens and chicks,  goats of all kinds and kids too.  They are sooo cute.  I can't wait to get goats even though I don't know much at all about them.  I've been talking with folks and doing a bunch of reading  though.  More on goats in the coming days  I'm sure....   They also had.... Rabbits!   Yep,  There were three different people there who had all kinds of rabbits. I ended up bringing a pair home.   They are a mixed breed medium size rabbit. The boy is 10 weeks old and the girl is 12 weeks. 
  Now I need to pull back out my trusty Storey Rabbit book and brush up on "things".  I'm really excited.  This is the first step in raising some of our own meats and I am pretty excited about that!  Its all part of the grand plan around here.  I still need another doe but that will come too. Some of you guys might remember the last time I was dealing with rabbits it didn't quite turn out the way I would have wanted. But hey, they weren't MY rabbits.  If they had been I would have been feeding them correctly.  Anyway.....
We are going back to the next Chicken Swap and look around.  they have one every 1st and 3rd Saturday.  Maybe find another rabbit, heck maybe even find a goat.  The chicken coop hasn't been built yet but it is in the plans as well.  I'm hoping we have some chickens running around before to much longer.  Now there is something else I've never done before! 

I swear I cannot keep up with anything these days.  My camera and I are playing hide and seek again.  I had some pictures and things to share with but once again I have laid down the camera somewhere.  Now mind you when I find it, it will be some place it couldn't have gotten "hurt".  And I do have a camera case for it but....where I sat it down is anyone's guess.  I'm pretty sure the truck "ate" it again though.  Things get lost all the time in that dang truck.

Some of the questions left in comments lately have me realizing that there are lots of newer readers here.  I'm really happy to have you all along for the ride.  Some of you have asked about my disabilities. I don't really talk about it much, it makes me a bit uncomfortable for some reason. Anyway.... here goes. 
  The one which causes me the most actual pain is the scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine.  It has caused me to actually shrink over 4 inches in the past few years. Another problem I have is that the acute angle of the curve pushes on the nerves in my back, hip, feet and legs.  It's hard to stand, walk or sit for any length of time at all.  I am also loosing the feeling in my feet which sounds like it shouldn't hurt, right?    Everything has set up with arthritis including an ankle that I broke wayyy back before dinosaurs.   I am also in end stage liver disease, which by the way, so far doesn't really hurt.  I just get tired pretty easily and have most symptoms of the disease. There's more but I won't inflict all that on you all right now. Heck you have already heard more than you wanted to I'm sure!  Sorry about that.   I've written a little about it once before.  I just figure folks don't really want to hear all about it and so I don't usually talk about it.  There are so many other things in this life to talk about! 
  We live in some amazing times. History is being written as we speak. Our grandchildren will look back and talk about these times.  Ever wondered what they will say about you? 
      ~~~~ Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dehydrating Mushrooms and ....

I know my posts have been few and far between here lately. I really don't have much of an excuse other than  I've been trying to get "settled in" to this new life. Not that I am not enjoying every minute of it, because I am loving it!   I'm just not used to being able to do whatever I need to when I want to.  Its funny, that even though I haven't been able to work in way over a year , it's just now sinking in that I won't  be able to go back.  I guess in a way this is what it must feel like to retire. Not having to be anywhere at any given time, making up your own schedule...  
What was I sayin'?  Oh... yeah... I need a schedule.  I haven't made my own schedule in... well...  hmmm.... Oh yeah, that's right, someone else always did my schedules for me.  It seems I've always  lived around my work schedule. It dictated when I ate, slept, spent time with family, all that stuff.  I guess that's how lots of other people live their lives too.   Now that I don't have someone making my schedule for me  I really need to look into making one custom -made just for me!

It's starting to get hot here. Of course these folks idea of hot and mine are nowhere near the same.  It has started to sneak in the ninety's around here this past week.  I listen to a local talk show from Austin over the internet everyday and listening to them talking about being in the 90's for the past month.  The weather here is much more enjoyable.  I am totally loving having four seasons.

I went to Little Big Town yesterday to run a couple of errands.  One day I'll have to take ya'll on a tour of the place.... There are quite a few small businesses but the place is big enough to have a Wally World, Tractor Supply and McDonald's.  I'm not a big fan of any of them and try to shop locally when I can. I stopped into the local grocery to see what they might have on sale.  I've been lucky a couple of times and caught a good deal there.  Yesterday I found sliced mushrooms marked down to $0.89 and snapped up all five packages.  And out came the dehydrator!  

How To Dry Mushrooms

I spread the mushrooms out evenly on the trays and set it to 135 degrees.  I know it is humid around here but it seemed to be taking them forever to dry.  They had been on for 15 hours and  just getting brittle.  It was my first time to dry mushrooms though so I really have no idea how long it "should" take. These took 16 hours.  I cooled off the mushrooms and put them in canning jars.  Use the trusty vacuum sealer and these babies are good to go for ages.  I ended up with a quart and a pint of dried mushrooms from five 8 ounce packages.

We finally got the trailer moved!  It hasn't rained in over a week and so this morning Mars decided it was dry enough to move.  I am pleased to say it went off without a hitch. He has the electricity hardwired in and now will need to do the same for the water and septic.  Things are moving right along.  I really like the trailer where it is sitting now.  It's on a good concrete pad and a bit higher up on the hill.  Who knows, maybe we will even get better internet reception!  Hey... a girl can hope!

A lot of people know that I don't watch much t.v.  We pretty much gave it up a few years ago.  So since moving out here we haven't given much thought to hooking it up.  We finally found the converter box and the antenna that have been stowed away for over a year now.  The other day the internet went down and so Mars tried hooking up the t.v. Yep! Just as expected.... no channels.  Not a single one!  I suppose if we really want to watch it we will have to get a taller antenna.  Until then I guess we will just be "uninformed".
         ~~~~  Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ...  ~~~~