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Showing posts from August, 2011

The Pantry: Plan B

Well my brilliant brick-and-board idea didn't work because the bricks were too long to allow the inner door to close on the back shelves. Pictures say a thousand words, or so I've heard, so I'll throw a couple up and see if they can tell the story better than I.

After I put all that food on the new shelves, I decided I'll probably – soon – take everything out and organize it more efficiently. The interior door shelves are deep enough to hold one can, while the new shelves can handle two. Or, better yet, the wider items I've had trouble finding space for, lo these many years.
At least one of you should be pleased that I actually got a weight-training workout done yesterday. I moved 42 bricks, three or four at a time, from behind my garage to my back patio, a distance of 30 feet or so. After I rinsed them and they were dry, I moved most of them into the pantry, another 18 feet or so. (Incidentally, this is the kind of workout I really love: using my muscles to actual…

Pardon me while I drop off the face of the earth for a while

A package was waiting on the front porch when my husband and I got home from a day trip yesterday. (Nothing exciting. In fact, may I be the last of many to say financial planning is quite boring?) I knew what was in the box, but I dutifully fed the dog, opened the mail, made some coffee, yadda, yadda, yadda, before I opened it. Because I knew when I opened it I'd be, um, busy.

As my husband napped, I pulled my new NookColor (or is it NOOKcolor?) from its overpackaged nest. (Seriously, there were three or four pieces of thick cardboard under the retail box and several more atop it, all of it inside a thick corrugated box. Many trees die to ship Nooks, but the resulting compostable material will be good for the garden.)

I have a few things to figure out, but was able to do the initial set-up easily and smoothly and downloaded all the books I've been collecting in my Nook Library, in anticipation of this day. I subscribed to two new magazines (one cooking and one knitting) and re…

I'm just about sick of tomatoes

I can't quite believe I just wrote that. Vine-ripened, fresh tomatoes are fabulous and wonderful and a real treat. I won't even buy a fresh tomato from the grocery store, that's how much of a tomato snob I am.

But after eating and processing about 90 pounds of tomatoes in the last two months, I'm tired of dealing with them.

The latest tomato product is dried. The fruits are smaller and smaller as the summer drags on, and small tomatoes are perfect for drying. I cut off the stem end, halve them lengthwise and zip out the seeds with a fingertip. Arrange them skin side down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and let them dry overnight in a 160°-ish oven.

I found a method for further preserving them in oil. I now have two four-once jars and one eight-ounce jar of canned-in-olive-oil dried tomatoes, and three ounces of dried tomatoes which I will simply bag and freeze.

And since I had the canner going anyway, I went ahead and made four pints of dill spears with my paltry cuc…

Friday Quote Day

Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary line and adding to one's liberty. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
I do believe there will be difficulties to conquer this weekend, for millions of people along the East Coast of the United States, as Hurricane Irene makes its way north. I pray for the safety of all those affected. Power will surely be knocked out, debris will be flying about, services everyone depends on will be unavailable. I hope the acute effects will be short-lived.

We're probably not going to get a drop of rain from the outer fringe of the storm here in southern West Virginia. I have to admit, a drop or two would be a good thing. It's hard to remember how much rain we had in May, now that the August drought is upon us.

In other news, my hibiscus finally bloomed and it's unbelievably gorgeous. There are dozens of buds on the plant. Two are fully bloomed, and a third should come out tomorrow. I can see the plant from th…

Running out of titles about produce

I picked the first spaghetti squash day before yesterday, and prepared it for dinner last night, along with tomato sauce from just-picked tomatoes and basil. Ran out of just-picked onions a long time ago, but the garlic came from the back yard.

My husband is not a spaghetti squash fan, so he sauced plain old pasta. For someone who eats as much as he does (and manages to stay thin, damn it!), he can, at times be a very picky eater.

Anyway … I give you, dinner!

I seriously thought this was sponsored by a drug company

My gingersnapping friend posted results of an online personality test, which clearly indicate she is in need of some serious therapy. Since I'm extremely well-adjusted and my psychiatrist husband hasn't pointed out any of my defects (lately), I decided to take it, as well.

Personality Disorder Test Results
Paranoid||||18%Schizoid||||||||||||||58%Schizotypal||||||30%Antisocial||||||26%Borderline||||||30%Histrionic||||||||||34%Narcissistic||||||||||34%Avoidant||||||26%Dependent||||18% Obsessive-Compulsive||||||30% Take Free Personality Disorder Test
Personality Test by
Whew! At least I'm not paranoid. I was really worried about that. Heh.

Similar tests on the internets are sponsored by drug companies. (This one apparently isn't.) They want you to be sick so you'll ask your doctor for their drugs. There are quizzes for disorders that you can physically test – blood pressure, diabetes – and for symptomatic conditions – pain, depression. Since I'm no…

A hint of fall

My husband and I walked together yesterday morning, four miles in 77 minutes. Cutting three minutes off our usual 20-minutes/mile pace means just one thing: cooler weather!

According to, it's 52 here in the Middle of Nowhere this morning. I don't think we'll be using the AC today.
I worked in the garden yesterday. Not that there's anything new in that, but this is the earliest I can remember actually pulling out plants and grabbing the last of anything. The edamame plants are all out of the ground, except for three which are drying so I can save the seeds. Ditto the green beans. I picked enough for one more meal.

There are three big green tomatoes, which will be perfect to fry. Maybe tomorrow. You can't let them go too long or they're mushy. I'm making gumbo for tonight, to use up the last of the okra.

I continue to be delighted with the process of gardening, in all its forms. I love gathering what's ripe from the back yard and figuring out …


Well after four long and faithful years I'm getting my second $100 check for the ads which decorate my blog. (Yeah, ad revenue has totally changed my lifestyle. Heh.) I've combined it with a couple freelance checks and ordered a new gadget. Of course I searched around for the best price, because two freelance checks and ad revenue didn't quite add up to retail.

I'm so excited. I love gadgets. I've started packing one of those surge-protector multi-outlet thingies when I travel, just so I can plug all the chargers in neatly and in one contained area. (The building code for hotel room electrical outlets must be very different from homes, because there are never enough outlets in hotels.)

Do I need an ereader? Absolutely not. I've been reading treeware books since I was in kindergarten. I have Kindle for Mac loaded on my laptop and have even used it to read a couple publications. I would, eventually, get used to it. The problem with the laptop is that it folds; it&…

So wrong.

On so many levels.

Click for the grossest pizza you've never wanted to eat. (The person who created liked it, and you might, too. But seriously? I doubt it. 'Cuz I know you guys.)

Me? I'm making mozzarella to top my whole-wheat homemade crust and sliced fresh tomato. I'll throw on some pepperoni to keep my husband happy.

Friday Quote Day

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill
I love this quote! To me it says live life large! Or live it up! Or live la vida loca! I realize we start dying the day we're born, but we sure don't need to act like it, right?
In honor of World Photography Day, I give you … [drumroll] … pictures! Of the beginning of the new herb bed!
I had my husband stand in the center of the space with his foot on a piece of twine, while I walked in a circle with a can of spray paint. It's probably not a perfect circle, but it will work just fine. I didn't want an irregularly shaped bed because it's too difficult to mow around. (Learned that lesson with the recently installed landscape bed, which undulates prettily but requires weekly weed-whacking.)

We then began tearing down my cardboard box collection and covering the inside of the circle. (Too bad I haven't bought any major appliances lately, one refrigerator box might ha…

Too close … for a picture

When you are groggily searching for your favorite mug and wishing you'd put the coffee on auto-start, the last thing you can wrap your brain around is setting up the camera to take pictures of THE TWO DEER IN YOUR FRONT YARD!

Hershey, our eight-year-old part chocolate Lab, was on it, though. Not taking a picture, but chasing them off the property. They're getting bolder and bolder. They ran into the field adjacent to our yard and stopped, not even bothering to hightail (hah! That's exactly what they do!) it into the woods.

My coffee and I took a perfunctory walk around the landscape bed to make sure they hadn't nibbled anything, then walked around the vegetable garden. All that corn and they didn't even touch it.

I think I'll put the electric fence up next year, though.

Deer don't like squash, so I always plant that along the perimeter. I also have marigolds at the far end, where deer are most likely to enter. They don't care for the smell, and marigold…

Meat and three

If you're a Yankee, you may never have heard of "meat and three" meals. Popular in the south (U.S.) and in Australia, they are exactly what they say they are: some kind of meat with three side dishes, usually vegetables. Should you be traveling and need to find a meat-and-three diner, this website would be helpful.

We had our own version last night for dinner.

The meat was more of a condiment, however, as I just added some bits of country ham (maybe four ounces) to the pot of green beans, potatoes and onions. Fresh corn and red-cabbage/carrot slaw were the other two sides. Delish! (Not, however, terribly filling: Three hours later I was nibbling a piece of cheese.)

I picked more than a dozen ears of corn and froze all but three of them. I'm making a black bean-and-corn salad for dinner today, along with gazpacho and taboulleh – a summertime soup-and-salad meal. I hope the additional protein in the beans will keep me feeling full throughout the evening.

I think the on…

This just in …

Rainy days and Mondays

A quarter of an inch of rain fell yesterday, and it sprinkled or showered off and on nearly all day. Is that two Mondays in a row we've had precipitation? I believe it is. Gardens need rain, and my thirsty pumpkin plants have perked right up. The second carrot crop hasn't germinated and one entire row of walking onions haven't done a thing, rain or no rain, but crop failures of some kind are to be expected.

I'm astonished the deer haven't had their way with all that produce, as I have yet to electrify the fence. And I use the word 'fence' loosely, as it's merely plastic-coated wire strung on flimsy plastic poles. So attractive, I know, but apparently effective even without the battery-powered fence charger.

We see deer in the field beyond our yard every morning and every evening and sometimes even in the middle of the day now. There's plenty of vegetation for them to eat, we're not in a drought, so all I can figure is they've gotten all they…

Back to work

I'm so silly. I don't work a regular 9-to-5 job, but I still like to take the weekends off. Heh. Now that Monday is here, I feel like I need to work on my to-do list. Yesterday, when I had an equal number of free hours? Not so much.

I picked up a free app called Wunderlist, just to jot down projects as I think of them. I could use pencil and paper, I have plenty of both, but I'm really moving away from a paper-based life. Recipes get filed as .pdf files or saved to Pinterest, as do knitting patterns and other design/style/inspirational ideas. It's working well, as the information is at my fingertips and I have less to throw into the burn barrel.

I recently pinned this, and used it to make a locker magnet for my older granddaughter, who just started high school.

(She's not really OCD. Her mother watched her organizing something or other recently and she looked up and declared, "What? I don't have a diagnosis or anything.")

Anyway, that's just one w…


My husband insisted I take photos of the roasted vegetables we had for dinner tonight. Here they are, ready for the oven:

Half an hour later, on the table and ready to serve:

I told him many people who roast vegetables make a big pan (like the first photo) and reheat it for several meals the following week. (Hint, hint – he's a big eater and could easily have polished off the entire bowl. After I took my single serving.) We might have enough left for a side dish tomorrow. Fortunately, we have more vegetables in the garden.

Friday Quote Day

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.
Full effort is full victory. Mahatma Gandhi 

Last week was more of a full-effort week than this has been, but I'm getting back on track. I walked Wednesday and yesterday, but couldn't pick up the pace to a jog at all. In fact, I was slower this week than I've been in a long time.
I'm not in a race, though, and just getting out there and Doing It is a victory. It certainly helps that the humidity has come down, along with the temperature. I even opened up the house yesterday and turned the AC off. Bliss!
The garden is producing like cra-zee, and is taking a lot of time. One thing I really love growing is edamame. Throw a bean in the ground and it'll grow, and each plant produces dozens of pods. They're fussy when it comes to shelling, and I suppose I could just freeze them in the pod, but I like getting the work out of the way now, rather than later.
I've learned my tomato lesson, for sure. Last year I tried …

Just breathe

I woke up super-early this morning and have been going through scores upon scores of e-mails which have piled up in the last couple of weeks. Entertaining, traveling and gardening have eaten into my computer time. Heh.

I was intrigued enough by one of Real Simple's lists to click through to their "Six Diet Trends You Should Never Try." I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed something, since I've tried everything.

I was surprised to find the raw-food plan topping their list. What could be wrong with eating real food straight from Mother Nature's package? Turns out not much is wrong with it at all, nutritionally, but if you're purchasing your raw meals from Whole Foods, then it's expensive. Not much of a reason, if you ask me, since I live in one of a handful of states that doesn't even have a Whole Foods. The writer is correct in that heating food doesn't affect caloric content, so I'm going to disagree with this one: If you don't feel l…

Listen up

Both of you know I'm a fan of audiobooks. I don't, however, lounge around the shanty wearing earbuds and eating bonbons. When I'm listening to a book, I'm either driving or walking. Not sure why that is, lounging around the shanty eating bonbons sounds like a good way to spend time, and listening to a book would only enhance the experience.

Anyway. I was a member of for a while, and have enjoyed using my credits for The Paris Wife, Room: A Novel, Cutting for Stoneand The Help, among others. I've just started listening to Water for Elephants, which hasn't quite got me hooked. Yet. But I eventually decided was a budget item I could live without.
When I finished The Paris Wife, which is the story of Earnest and Hadley Hemingway's marriage, I wanted to read some Hemingway. Surely Hemingway ought to be in the public domain, thought I. Alas, I was wrong. But there are thousands of classics which are in the public domain, books I've…

Music to my ears

Er, well, to the ears of corn, anyway.

It's raining!

We've only had passing sprinkles a couple of times this past week. Not enough moisture to make a difference in my wrestling-with-the-hose watering regimen at all. This morning, though, we're enjoying a nice, steady drizzle. Perhaps the expanse of dry, brown, crunchy grass will perk up a bit. (I don't water the "lawn," since we live in a field, basically.)

Busy day today, after a busy day yesterday, after a busy weekend, after a busy week. Yesterday's busy-ness can be seen here. Yum!

Today's busy-ness is taking me to town to take care of some business. Heh. For now, though, I'm just going to wrap myself in the sound of rain.

Monday, Monday

Man, what a busy week I've had! I'm not used to all this activity and sensory input.

I live a somewhat isolated life as far as face-to-face contact goes. I don't work outside my home, so I have no colleagues or co-workers with whom to interact. I volunteer at a federal prison one night a week, and see 100 inmates and my co-volunteers then. My husband and I visit his mother, who lives nearby, a couple times a week and I will occasionally stop at the grocery on one of those trips.

Most of the time, though, I'm here, at home, knitting, running walking, reaping and eating.

Last week I left on Tuesday for North Carolina and got home Thursday afternoon to greet weekend guests, who left yesterday. Today a friend is coming over to make pickles with me.

I might be morphing into a social animal. Heh.

I was able to feed our company from the garden – edamame, celery, onions and snap peas in a stir-fry on Friday; zucchini bread Saturday morning, and green beans, tomatoes, red-cabba…

Friday Quote Day

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot. Michael Altshuler 
Five years ago this morning, I got married. Again. You can read all about it at my old blog, if you like. If you've been hanging out with me for the last five years (and some of you have! Thank you!), then you already know the story.
I came home from this week's little getaway (did you miss me?) to find a vase with five red roses in it, and a beautiful card, and I didn't give him anything. I feel like crap for not, but we usually don't, so I didn't think a thing about it while I was gone. He can be, um, trying, at times, but also can be very, very thoughtful.
Time flew this week, and while I had good intentions – I packed running gear for my little trip – it was just too, too hot to even think about sweating on purpose. All you had to do was walk outside – heck all, you had to do was look outside  –and you were dripping. How do you Tarheels stand it!?! (You know who you are.)
Food was o…

Do you Pinterest? And other random thoughts

Have you heard of Pinterest? It's bookmarking in the cloud and it's great! You can create boards related to your interests (like organizing your bookmarks in folders) and it's all based on visuals, so when you go back and look at your page you can instantly see each pin. I'm still new to it, but have (so far) found it very useful for saving recipes and knitting patterns.

My inkjet printer is located in our second-story office, above the garage. Air conditioning is available, but to save money reduce our carbon footprint we don't use that space much when it's this hot. I have folders of .pdf patterns and recipes on my laptop, and – when I need to use a recipe, for instance – have learned to put the computer out of the way of drips and flour and spatters, oh my. Having recipes and patterns stored in the cloud is even better. A hard drive crash won't destroy the files and they're always gonna be there.

Oh, and Pinterest is free. And you can follow other pe…

And the winner is …

Denise! Who doesn't have a blog! Denise, you know who you are, please send me your address, either through Facebook or directly to me at shrinkingknitter AT gmail DOT com, and I'll get your book out to you ASAP.

That was fun, it lightened my load and, I hope, blessed everyone who won a book. We'll do this again sometime. I like how this giveaway ended on the last day of the month, leading up to the second-best day of the year for someone wanting to make some changes, and that is when the first day of the month falls on a Monday. (The best day, of course, is January 1st.)

It's better than a blue moon.

I wrote a couple weeks ago that this would be a good day to stop eating sugar. I still don't think that's going to happen, mostly because I haven't been overdosing on sugar. A spoonful (50 calories) atop my yogurt and granola hasn't let me to eat unlimited quantities of ice cream or cookies. And a Tootsie Pop (60 calories) falls into the low-calories range …