Friday, February 28, 2014

Caution.... Possible Seed Porn

Like everyone else I'm so very ready for spring.  Or at least warmer and less windy days.  Those 40mph wind gusts remind me of part of the reason why I moved away from the coast just as soon as I was able.  I have nothing other than a pot of lettuce sprouting in the greenhouse either.
With so much to do to get the garden ready for spring planting I feel as though I'm far behind where I should be.  The greenhouse should be full of trays by now.  With no heat yet to keep the seeds warm at night it is fruitless to even try.  Heat and ventilation have yet to be worked out. That's on "The List" too.  It's times like these that I have to sit back and remind myself that everything has it's own time, it's own natural rhythm.

I've already resigned myself to the fact that I'll end up buying tomato plants and other early spring plants like broccoli and cabbage this year. It's ok, even if I DID want to start them from seed this year. Things could be worse. We are having a much better winter than many folks.  Especially those North and East of here.

OK, now that I got my "whine" out of the way..... I have just got to share this with anyone who's not clicked that big X at the top of the page yet....

My dad is one of those guys that hardly ever picks up the phone to make a call.  He told me years ago that kids should call their parents and not the other way around. Of course whenever he  does call, my heart skips a beat or three wondering who's died or injured.  He's also not one for using the mail either.  He's been telling me that he's got some seed he wants to mail to me.  Much  of it is seed from strains he's been growing for years. So yesterday when I received a box in the mail and I saw who it was from I knew exactly what was in it.  I might have even done a little happy dance.

Seeds, seeds and more seeds. The picture is what the first layer of the box looked like.  Dad saves his seeds in  old medicine bottles like these, which is half the battle of keeping them in a dark place.  There are two or three layers under those bottles. Baggies of all kinds of different varieties of seeds all saved by my Dad!

If I thought I was ready for spring to get here before, now I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to finally get here. I'm trying to ignore the fact that another cold front will be moving in on us over the weekend with highs in the 20's and possible rain,sleet and snow.

Stay warm folks... this can't last forever!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

French Vanilla Coffee Creamer (DIY)

Most of us can't get ourselves motivated in the morning without a cup of coffee or three. I take mine with cream and sugar.  I also really like some of the flavored creamers that are out there.  Me being cheap.... errr... frugal means that I just won't spend the extra money on those expensive flavored creamers.  So when I ran across this recipe for making my own French Vanilla Creamer I just had to try it. I happened to have a can of sweetened condensed milk in the cupboard I'd picked up for making a batch of ice cream. I then kept forgetting the heavy cream and no ice cream was made.

A couple of things here.  I tried this as written and I didn't care for it one little bit. I added more milk (Like to the rim of the jar) I used some Vanilla Coffee Syrup the first time.  It was wayyy to sweet. 

I should have let Mikey try it, he likes everything. (For those too young to remember - there was a commercial for Life cereal  a few years ago  "Let Mikey try it, he likes everything")  Good grief I feel older than dirt for having to explain that one.! 

 Back to you Jane..... :-)

 I would recommend using the vanilla extract instead of the syrup.  It's much better and besides this recipe is already pretty sweet because of the condensed milk. You might even want to add more milk. I think next time I'll make my own sweetened condensed milk as it's pretty simpe to make too.
 I had to make this a couple of times, playing with the measurements but for all this build-up its a recipe as easy as it gets.

Here's the original link
And here's mine

You'll need
14oz sweetened condensed milk
2 cups milk (any kind will do)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR Vanilla Coffee Syrup(if you like it ultra sweet try using the syrup)
1 quart mason jar

Pour it all in a  mason jar and shake shake shake.
Add it to your coffee!  How simple is that?

So there you have it. I can't afford to buy fancy creamers for my coffee but when I can find the condensed milk on sale I'll sure grab a couple of cans and whip up some fancy coffee creamer!  You can also make a host of different flavors using this as a base.  You might even want to add more milk.   Or dream up your own! I think next time I'll make my own sweetened condensed milk as it's pretty simple too.

Here's a link for some ideas.

Who day I might make some ice cream too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Playing Catch Up

Future Homesite
We've been blessed with some much warmer weather this week.  I almost feel bad about saying that with all the folks to the east of us being pounded with inches and inches of snow.    I've been able to get out in the garden some. All the sudden it's time to get ready for spring planting.  Poof! Just like that.  And here I was just starting to enjoy the leisurely lifestyle!  

I got a few seeds in dirt yesterday.  Mainly herbs this time.  I've got it in my head that this will be the year that I'll have an herb garden. If you've been hanging out here awhile you know I say that every year.  I've not had the greatest luck with most herbs, but I keep trying. I've even got a nice spot for them almost ready.  For now though they are just seeds. 

  The onions harvested last summer are gone now.  I will sometimes pick up a few at the store for fresh cut onions along the way but for the most part this time of year I'll use the onions I dehydrated just for that reason.  I should have enough to last until the newly planted onions are ready.They did pretty well and I've only  been having to buy onions recently. They did "ok" being braided for storage.  I'd check them fairly regularly and dehydrate the ones that were getting close to going bad.

Another of the lessons I learned last year was that I need to buy my onion sets at places I trust.  I made the mistake this past year and picked some up at the local grocery store.  I had picked up yellow onions and they grew just fine. The problem was that they all were like double onion?  Each one seemed to have two separate onions in one bulb.  I don't know how to explain it.  They were fine for eating but a PITA to peel. 

We've got a great feed store over in Little Big Town that buys their onion sets and bulbs, potatoes and vegetable plants locally. New sets are starting to show up there and that is were I'll get my sets for this year. Last year we planted 75-80 feet of onions. We'll plant at least that much again this year. I'd like to plant some red onions and of course yellow onions.  Maybe even a couple of other varieties.

One of the things Mars has been working on (when the weather allows) is trying to clean up the area where the old house used to be.  It's the last of the "clean up" of the property. We know that there was a fire here but don't know exactly how long ago it was.  Mars thinks that someone had bought the place with intentions of remodeling the old house.  They probably stayed in an RV while the remodel was going on.  There was an old electric pole with a breaker box on it once upon a time where it was probably hooked up to. There's a newish septic tank . Mars found the original septic tank when we planted the Redbud trees.  There was a place in front of the dilapidated barn that had lots and lots of drywall pieces that was probably once a big stack of sheet rock.  There's a spot inside the house area that had piles and piles of glass. Some of it got so hot it sort of melded together.  So far he's picked out over 7 feed bags FULL of glass. Most in one spot, which leads him to believe that there were probably new windows stacked there to install during the remodel job. The house was set on pier and beams and there's a section toward the back that looks like it was probably an addition.  That's the area we plan to build on some day. 

Oh HECK.!!! I just looked out the window and all the dang chickens are all out.  I best go so I can find and fix their escape hatch.  Later ya'll.!

Friday, February 14, 2014

People Watching

I have a confession to make.  I've always been a people watcher. Not like a stalker or anything.(well there was that one time ... but I digress.)  I just find it entertaining to watch folks sometimes.  It might stem from my days waiting on tables.  Actually it probably DOES come from those years.  If you are going to be a good food server it's pretty much a prerequisite.  You have to be able to anticipate your customers needs.  Everything from filling drinks to clearing plates and everything in between. The better you are the more money you will make.  Contrary to popular belief most servers across the United States work for $2.15 an hour.  That hasn't changed in over twenty years either.  So a server literally works for their tips.  If you are good at it and good at watching people you can make an ok living. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be able to shoot the bull either. *wink* 

Why am I sharing all this with you?  OH, now I remember!  People watching.  I've been known to sit in a parking lot just watching folks do their thing.  WalMart parking lots are especially entertaining.  Parking lot People Watching isn't really all that uncommon.  I've met lots of folks who do the same thing.  You would be amazed at what all goes on in parking lots.

Here's where my having a confession to make comes into play.  I watch folks in the grocery stores too. Not just the people themselves but I  watch what they have in their grocery carts.  I don't know if many folks do this too but I find it fascinating to watch what they are filling up their carts with.

I see the harried business guy/gal tired from working the daily grind with what who looks like picking a few  things up after a day sitting behind a desk somewhere.  There are what looks like fresh organic vegetables some 2%milk, orange juice,  a bouquet flowers and grass fed beef in their cart.
Conclusion:  They are watching what they eat and trying to eat healthy as well. Except for that carton of ice cream.  Gotta have a snack now and then right?  These are the folks that get snowed in and panic because they only have a day or two's worth of food in the pantry.

Then there's the little old lady with her small careful choices. A couple of banana's, maybe a small package of chicken breasts that have been marked down, one of those small loaves of bread,  half a gallon of milk and maybe some lettuce or a little package of cheese,two or three cans of cat food and a couple of small yogurt cups.
Conclusion:  She probably lives alone with her cats.  and buys small portions of her groceries at a time.  Not only to be frugal but it gives her an excuse to get out of the house if only for a little while. She's probably got food at home but likes to get out of the house and actually talk to someone, even if it's just the brief conversation with the cashier.

There's the 18-19  something guy who loads up on chips, Fruit Loops, and frozen burrito's.  He's probably never even lit a stove.

There's the pregnant woman who can't be more than 22-23  with three small screaming ill mannered children running amuck and picking up everything in their line of sight, and running down the aisle. They scream at the top of their lungs  running into folks like they were bowling pins and trying to make a strike.  All the while the mother sweetly repeats over and over "No Johnny stop running, Ronnie what did I tell you about using your "indoor" voice" yet they still run wild.  Her basket is filled with frozen pizza's, sweet sugary cereals, 2 liter bottles of soda, hot dogs, chips and all manner of boxed "meals" (think Hamburger/Tuna Helper) and other processed foods.  I'm quite sure she has no idea that her screaming children's actions are not just a matter of bad parenting but the awful foods she feeds them regularly paid with her food stamp card.

There's the older widowed gentleman who has some milk, butter, and  a half dozen eggs. I assume he know how to make breakfast but apparently that's the extent of his cooking his own food because he has a pile of TV dinners, frozen pizza and some pot pies.  Maybe he never learned to cook  because his late wife always took care of the meals.

There's the 30ish lady with a fist full of coupons and a list.  Unfortunately her basket is full of processed foods cookies and diet sodas, because it's on sale and she has a coupon for it. I didn't mention she is obese? She stands defiantly in front of the cashier making darn sure that not only does the cashier ring up the sale price but also the corresponding coupon.

I've often wondered if grocery store clerks do the same sort of thing. I'd imagine that their focus would probably be on getting everyone in their line out of it as soon as possible.  If it were me though, after hours of standing on my feet swiping item after item across the scanner I'd probably be cart watching.  I bet they have all sorts of horror stories about the people that come through their lane though.

 Maybe because no matter what line I choose to check out from something is bound to happen to make my wait longer. It gives me time to shopping cart spy, eh?   The cashier needs change or runs out of paper, someone presents a hand full of WIC vouchers, ( I didn't mention this shopper on purpose)  something has been rung up at the wrong price, a manager has to do a code override, someone forgets "one little thing and I'll be right back" or it's shift change and another cashier has to tag in and take the others place.  I've got a friend who I used to go shopping with that refuses to let me pick which lane to check out from.  If I pick a lane, she'll just look at me and say "Seriously?"  It's like that! 

So I guess my question is ...  Are you a people watcher?  A shopping cart spy?  Maybe a bit of both?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cold Enough For You?

It seems that we are all getting pretty tired of winter.  I know I am.  I'm tired of limited water, breaking ice out of the critters water bowl several times a day and  layering my clothes until I feel like Ralphie's little brother. (A Christmas Story)
Heck I don't know why I'm telling you this.... I'm sure it's the same all over.  I do know my attitude is getting worse as the grey and gloomy days go by.  I'm a sun person by nature.  These sunless days are starting to get to me.  Heck I seem to loose all my "want to" after awhile.  You would think that as much as I love reading all your blogs and messing around on the net that I would be doing more "puter time".  I don't even feel like lifting the lid on the laptop most days.  Which is really weird.  I haven't even been to "the ultimate suck my brains out slowly all day long" site called FaceBook.   This must be what they call the Winter Time Blues.  Whatever you call it I want to call it OVER!

It seems none of the seeds I was trying to start did anything.  I need to replant them all and try again.  It's been pretty hard to keep the greenhouse at a decent temperature. There's still work that needs to be done on it. That and these grey gloomy days.  I can't blame them for not wanting to sprout up into this weather! 

They are promising temps actually above freezing for the weekend.   I should be able to turn the water on long enough to do up the dishes, mop the floor and re-fill all the jugs. Then start all over again with another front on Monday that's supposed to bring some snow.

This has been a brutal winter for many folks. Heck even MMPaints hasn't tried to start seeds yet! If you're a regular reader of hers you KNOW it must be cold if she's not got something started by now.   Speaking of MMPaints,.....Hop over to Self Sufficient Living and check out the cool raffle she's holding. Better hurry though,  It'll be over soon!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Checking In

It's hard to believe it's already been close to a week since I last posted.  I wish I could say it was because I've been so dang busy I haven't had the time.  Truth is?  I've been kicked back most of the week.  Other than the daily chores that have to be done 365 days a year I've done  exactly squat!  We've been holed up in the RV most of the week.  There were a couple of days that were pretty warm and the sun actually came out.  But even then the wind was blowing hard enough to keep me inside and unenthused about getting much done.  We've been under a "fire warning" most of the week.  Between the wind and it being so dry there's always a chance of fire.  Just another one of the things that seems to come naturally to Oklahoma.  Of course, I don't have much to base that thought on.   It seems that since we moved here a little over 3 years ago the weather just keeps breaking some sort of record every season.  So I'm kind of unsure about what "normal" weather is here.

It's snowing right now.  I never had any idea how hard it is to capture snow falling in a picture! Picure?  Did I say picture?  Yes sir!  My mom and dad sent me the most awesome birthday present I think I've ever received.  A Canon EOS Rebel, complete with zoom lens, filters, and all the goodies. Top of the line. Pretty darn awesome. I almost cried when I opened the box and saw it. I've been messing around with it for a couple of weeks and now have NO excuse for not taking pictures. Now that it's snowing I'll actually have something to take pictures of besides naked trees! 

It seems that none of the seed I planted came up.  Which means I'll have to start over again. I think it might be due to not having consistent heat in the greenhouse.  That's something that still needs to be worked on.  It doesn't help that we've only had a few days of sunshine the past couple of weeks.  Our "vacation" time should be over soon as spring is right around the corner. Sorta....