Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Plan

Last year we had a big problem with moles--and they've already started digging in the front lawn this spring, so I have just sprayed the entire lawn & garden with a castor oil spray.  Apparently they don't like the smell (and trust me--I don't blame them), so I am essentially trying to stink them away.

If this works, we have some neighbors in a rental down the street that I might try it on.......

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We're Back On The Diet

So........while it was fun to have a bit of a food free-for-all for the last 3 months, we're back on the no-processed foods diet.  We're trying to work out some new rules that will keep us from being ill, but make things livable.  So far we're thinking about:

*  1 Diet Pepsi a week (in the cans, not the big massive bottles)
*  2 cheats a week
*  1 meal per week can have forbidden ingredients IF there is no suitable way to make it without it
*  Soup Night can use canned chicken broth

While we're hashing this out, we're back on the diet.  Why you might ask?  My stomach hurts.  AND, strangely enough, not only was I starting to gain weight, I was gaining it in my abdomen. 

Now, neither Andy nor I are one of those lucky people who can eat anything and never gain weight.  We can gain weight with the best of them.  However, I'm a bit more the traditional sort of female type--a "pear" rather than an "apple."  For my entire life, even if I did gain weight, it was never abdominal.  Like most women of the time, it always went straight to my hips and thighs (where it settled in, planted roots, and hung on for dear life).  Imagine my surprise when--in just really two months of slightly returning to "normal" eating, I was beginning to inflate like a balloon.  Totally freaking out, I shifted us back to our "no processed foods" diet last week......and suddenly my new "puffy" look was gone.  One week. 

Now, that isn't a scientific study by any stretch of the imagination, but it really was enough to freak me out.  Back to green food!!!!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Questions For The Universe

*  How can a ten-pound cat produce 15 pounds of fur?

*  Why did I have to explain to a mutual fund company "customer service" representative what cost basis means and why one would need that for tax purposes?  Am I really their only client, or an I the only client whom they send the IRS 1099 forms about?

*  If the instructions on seed packets have all these fussy conditions listed that are required for growing, why do the plants come up wherever the heck they want the next year with no help from me?

*  How old must I be before I start doing laundry before  the only other option is to go naked?

*  I've been reading a gardening book, and it says that--among other things--dried blood can be added to your compost bin.  WHERE ARE THESE PEOPLE GARDENING????????????

*  If I was required to take a class in Logic in college, why wasn't everyone?  Is there really any field where it makes more sense to be illogical (besides working at Fox, that is)?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Optimism Time

So, out of 18 lettuce plants, 17 are still alive--which is pretty good I think.  (And incidentally--it may not be your best bet to plant lettuce plants in high wind.  It really can break the entire plant off).  Buoyed by such success
that's right--I'm going to try to grow my own plants this year.  I've done this on & off with varying luck, but I figure if this works, these will be ready to be planted at the end of May--which is as soon as most of this could go outside anyway.  If it doesn't work, I'll just buy some plants which will be about as far along as these guys would have been anyway.  The one exception are the snow peas, which could be planted outside right now--except for

Yeah--he only looks cute & innocent.  You do NOT want to know what he did to the peas I planted earlier........

Princeton News: A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain

Princeton News: A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain

Hm........maybe our little experiment wasn't so crazy after all--except for the weird green sandwiches, of course.....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is It Just Me, Or Have You Noticed.....

*  It's often the same people who say "Guns don't kill people: people kill people" who want to ban books?

*  Every time our economy crashes because of unrestrained capitalism (excessive speculation on the stock market and the Great Depression; excessive speculation on the housing market and the Great Recession), we go around screaming about how bad socialism is?

*  Those who scream loudest about "states' rights" (slavery, racism, segregation, outlawing gay marriage) are usually trying to take rights from somebody else?

*  That the people who try to argue that "it's what the Founding Fathers intended" are usually the very people the Founding Fathers tried to prevent from having a vote via the Electoral College System?

*  That the people saying they have the right to NOT buy health insurance aren't also saying that they will pay their own damn bills when they get sick?

*  That the same people who complain about any increases in teacher pay get really upset when the military personnel "only" get a 1.4% raise in a year?  Is our future really more about wars than education?

*  That the same people who are trying to deny that dinosaurs didn't exist, and that the Nazi holocaust never happened have no problems at all believing that Moses talked to a burning bush?

*  That the same people who are trying to argue about "what the Founding Fathers intended," are the ones calling the census a conspiracy when the census is provided for by Article 1, Section 2 OF the U.S. Constitution???????

*  That there has been a bigger uproar in America over healthcare reform being passed by people who were elected by the a fair election than there was over the U.S. entering an unjust war that has killed lots of people AND has and continues to cost billions of dollars, led by a president whose election HAPPENED to be determined by problematic ballots in a state where his brother just happened to be governor?

Thought For The Day

If you threaten someone with violence because they believe differently than you do, not only do you not believe in democracy, you don't even understand it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Theo 20, Toni 1

While my little sidekick was "helping" me change the bed sheets yesterday,
I snuck out to the garden to plant
Yep!  Gardening the easy way.  Or the "easier" way.  Or at least the "less-likely-to-be-dug-up-by-the-cat" way.  We now have 9 broccoli & 9 kohlrabi plants
and 9 butter lettuce plants, with the 9 Romaine lettuce plants still to go.  I generally prefer plants in 6-packs rather than 9-packs, but this does increase my odds with Theo.  And look!
I think I actually have spinach coming up!  Either that or I'm getting very excited about some weeds here. 
Speaking of which, I decided it was time to weed & feed the garden, so I dumped the bag of weed & feed into the spreader
 just in time to discover the spreader is either broken or really, really REALLY thorough:
So either I have a patch of grass that will be REALLY free of weeds, or I just killed the grass.  I think the odds are sightly higher for the latter. 

And over in the corner next to the fence, I found
two onions.  This would, of course, be nowhere NEAR where the onions were planted last year--and actually quite a bit bigger than ANY of the onions that I planted in the actual garden bed ever got.  So I guess my worrying that I might have planted onions a bit too early is ill-founded.  They seem to have started without me. 

A Few Facts On the Health Care Bill Not Likely To Be Covered by Fox "News"

At least 12 states who have attorney generals who weren't paying attention in their constitutional law classes:

Now, Political Fodder For The Courts - Politics - The Atlantic

Or, maybe they know this and their governors--like Idaho's--used this as an attention-getter for announcing their bid for re-election, which COINCIDENTALLY happened on the same day as the lawsuits were filed....

And Gallup--those pesky people who do the scientific unbiased polls released this today:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/126929/Slim-Margin-Americans-Support-Healthcare-Bill-Passage.aspx

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Aparently It Isn't Andy Who Can't Be Trusted In The Hardware Store......

.....it's me.

I ran to Lowe's today for some potting soil & gypsum, and came home with the soil, gypsum, 4 9-packs of early veggie starts for the garden, hose nozzles, and a lamp and lamp shade.

Another 20 minutes, and we might have ended up with a new patio set.........

Fear Strikes Out

Whether or not you are for or against the healthcare bill being passed, there's a deeper issue we should all face. Opponents of the bill rarely--if ever--discussed it on its merits. Instead, they resorted to blatant fear mongering led by Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck. Death panels, state-funded abortions, racial slurs--all of us should stand up and say "enough is enough." We are human beings, we have brains and the ability to think. We should use them. When Rush Limbaugh actually ran with a piece by The Onion--THE most famous satire magazine in America--it should have shown his fan base that he does no fact-checking AND IT SHOULD HAVE MATTERED. Moderate Republicans should be the most vocal right now. Where is there room for them in the new party of hate and fear? Those who voted for Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole, even Ronald Reagan--wake up and see what has happened to your party. Glenn Beck is not a leader--he's a hate monger. Stand up and be counted!

An article we should all read:

Op-Ed Columnist - Fear Strikes Out - NYTimes.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

What The Heck Is That?

At the library one day, I ran across a book called A Consumer's Dictionary of Food AdditivesAfter disturbing everyone by screeching, "Where was this last year?!!!!!!!!" I checked it out and began perusing.

Our rules for last year were rather simple:
1.  No high fructose corn syrup
2.  No ingredients we didn't know
3.  No food dyes

To be quite honest, I have no idea if there are any health risks associated with food dyes or any of the ingredients we eliminated, so I can't just completely condemn anything as "good" or "bad," but I did end up with a lot of questions about what things were & why they've been added. However, this is not a book for the timid.  Or for those who don't know their science terms.  A few of my favorites:

*  Locust Bean Gum:  St. John's Bread. Carob Bean Gum.  A thickener and stabilizer in cosmetics and foods. Also used in depilatories.  [Though hopefully not as the active ingredient......]

*  Tetrahydroxypropylethylenediamine:  [which is being included here because it is the longest word I've ever seen] Clear, colorless, thick liquid, a component of the bacteria-killing substance in sugar cane.  

Xanthum Gum:  [besides being a killer word to know for Scrabble fans, this is what made most mustards off-limits for the year]  Used to thicken, suspend, emulsify, and stabilize water-based foods, such as dairy products and salad dressings.  It is also used as a "pseudo plasticizer" in salad dressings to help them poor well.  [Mmmmm, yummy!]

And, as I am trying to convince myself to get out there and start working up those garden beds, the book has a nice list of produce that is waxed:
cantaloupe
egglplant
oranges
peaches
grapefruit
rutabagas
persimmons
squash
cucumbers
sweet potatoes
tomatoes
and the list is not all-inclusive.  Apples should probably be on there somewhere as well.  I don't exactly mind them waxing cantaloupe or oranges, since I don't end up eating the wax, but just how much fruit can I eat before I have consumed an entire candle?  These are the things I wonder about when I'm really needing some coffee......

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Random Updates

* You know you had a great time with friends visiting when a week just flies by!

*  Freezing shredded zucchini works really well for zucchini bread, but it makes a rather dry chocolate cake.
*  A rather dry chocolate cake is STILL chocolate cake.

*  It doesn't just seem like Andy & I have more energy than most people.  It seems that really probably do.  When our friends have fully recovered, we'll ask them.
*  In the future, I think just putting food coloring in FROSTING will suffice.  Green cookies are just a bit weird. 

*  It's really wonderful when friends & spouses & spouses of friends all like each other

*  The crazy neighbor who is already out mowing his lawn is to be shunned.  We don't need that kind of pressure

Monday, March 15, 2010

YAY!

We have guests arriving today who will be here to play with us for an entire week!  I promise lots of pictures this weekend!

Incidentally--when baking cookies for St. Patrick's Day, in the future I would probably put the green food coloring in the FROSTING only.  Green sugar cookies just don't look that appetizing.......

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

* A 14-oz. CAN of sweetened condensed milk is not the same as 14 ounces OF sweetened condensed milk

*  Just because you've made it successfully several times, it doesn't mean that you can't royally screw up fudge--especially if one adds 14 ounces OF sweetened condensed milk

*  I have turned into my grandmother.  My response to any one in trouble is to automatically want to feed them.

*  I am not required to allow someone in my life whom I find personally offensive

*  Even if it would speed things up quite a bit, the cats probably aren't going to go for the idea of being vacuumed during shedding season.

*  There have always been--and will always be--people with a need to hate another group of people.  And it will always be wrong

*  Do not be seduced by a sunny day into going somewhere without a coat.  It's March.  It can still be freakin' cold.

*  A friend says, "let me know if there's anything I can do."  A good friend just jumps in and does it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Things I Can Do In My Sleep

The things I can do in my sleep:

  *  steal all the covers
  *  talk to people if they talk to me first
  *  kick Andy surprisingly hard for some unknown reason
  *  push away a cat intent on sleeping on my head
  *  pull off the cotton gloves that are supposed to help with dry skin

What I cannot do in my sleep:

  * ROLL THE HECK OVER WHEN I'M SLEEPING IN A WAY THAT WILL GIVE ME A STIFF NECK IN THE MORNING

Why is that?????????????????

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blueberry Time!

Meaning this

not these
Not that my blueberry bushes are doing badly--though to call them "bushes" is perhaps a bit of an overstatement right now--but we'll be thrilled if we can double our blueberry crop to 24 berries this year.  I have been giving them regular pep talks....and perhaps mentioned the fate of the scraggly, useless bushes that used to be in the front yard...........

Yesterday I made a double batch of blueberry-nutmeg jam using some fabulous frozen blueberries I found at Costco last week.  We ran out of blueberry jam a while ago--having given most of it away--and I had forgotten how good it really is.  And it's actually pretty simple to make--being one of the jams you add pectin to, rather than relying on my nonexistent skill to cook the jam until it will "set" but not long enough to become some sort of bizarre jam-gumdrops (which is what the carrot-bourbon jam turned out to be). Boil 2 minutes, stir in pectin, then can--THAT I can do. Especially with properly motivated by blueberries......

Monday, March 8, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Going to the gym to swim AFTER doing yardwork works much better than trying to do yardwork after  swimming.

*  Not only do onion sets provide onions sooner than onion seeds, they're easier to find when your cat digs them up.

*  Early gardening has some perks--like the total lack of bugs. 

*  If there are limits to Southwest Airlines' customer service, I haven't found it yet. 

*  The more changes Facebook keeps making to its format, the less and less interested in it I become.

*  Since I have noticed how much more energy I have by not eating processed foods, a SMART person might have drawn a correlation that eating processed foods might give one less energy before ending up with a severe case of the afternoon "sleepies."

*  The fact that I have successfully grown garlic, which is a bulb, does not in any way mean that I can automatically grow other bulbs successfully.  Just ask the crocus.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What Am I Missing?

In my food history research, I ran across this recipe in Grandma's Wartime Kitchen:

Wartime Special
Jellied Vegetable Entree

1 package lemon or lime flavored gelatin mix
3/4 cup hot water
1 bouillon cube
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon onion juice
2/3 cup cooked diced carrots
2/3 cup cooked peas
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise

     Dissolve gelatin mix and bouillon cube in boiling water.  Stir in cold water, vinegar, salt, and onion juice.  Chill until thickened.
    Spoon 1-inch gelatin into gelatin mold.  Arrange egg wedges around side of mold.  Refrigerate until firm--30 minutes.  Fold remaining ingredients into remaining gelatin, cover, and set aside at room temperature. 
     When gelatin in mold is firm, add remaining gelatin mixture.  Chill until firm.  Unmold and serve.

Granted, I haven't had lime Jello in a few years, but I just don't remember ever thinking, "Dang, what this could really use is some bouillon, cayenne pepper, and some hard boiled eggs."  Don't you just wonder who actually DID have that thought??????

The other question I have is:  WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH JELLIED FOODS???????  When I first heard about the "Julie & Julia project" (where a woman cooked her way through the entire Julia Child "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" cookbook in one year), I was all for giving it a go myself until I heard about the aspic chapter.  Not even for Julia Child am I eating meat Jello.  I still can't even understand the attraction.  Am I underrating gelatin in some way?  Did being tortured by years of public school lunches & the ever-present Jello with mushy fruit cocktail suspended in it forever jade my opinion of gelatin?  Is there something I'm missing about the idea of lime Jello with hardboiled egg in it?  Did everyone just have really bad teeth and gelatin was a way to slide food right down without having to try to chew it up????? 

If I keep this up, Twinkies are going to end up sounding like a darn reasonable idea...........

Thursday, March 4, 2010

As Much Help As I Can Stand

As some of you may be aware, I rarely get to do anything without my sidekick.  He helps me do the dishes,
and the laundry,
even the hand-washing. 
 
He helps me fold laundry,
make the bed,
and even on the rare occasions when I iron.
I have kitty assistance for sewing,
handling the garden harvest,

decorating, 
and working on the computer
or laptop.
When I had surgery....
I was hardly ever without my sidekick--who conveniently woke me up every four hours for my medication.  For the most part, I find his "help" rather endearing.
Except for gardening.  

So far this spring I have planted:
     onions
     spinach
     snow peas
     beets

So far Theo has dug up:
     onions
     spinach
     beets

The snow peas have only survived because I planted them under the mulch in-between the rows of garlic, and I don't think he can find it.  Sometimes, it's because he's doing hideous things in the garden beds, but other times he sees me digging and plops down beside me and starts digging away because he thinks that's what we're doing for the day.  Last year he dug up the kohlrabi and radishes as fast as I planted them.  This year we're starting earlier.  BOTH of us.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things I have learned This Week

*  "I was out mixing in the organic fertilizer" sounds better than "I was out stirring in horse poop," but it still smells the same.

*  When the snow peas start popping out all over as weeds, it's safe to plant them.

*  I used to be really impressed by the nearby farmers who grew mint.  Now I'm impressed that the mint hasn't overrrun the entire area and taken hostages.

*  When you're finishing the canning in late October, and start planting the garden on March 1, it really DOES feel like gardening is a year-round effort.  Probably because it almost is.

*  Even though the seed packet says "plant as soon as the soil is workable," I'm going to have to see some spinach actually growing before I believe it.

*  They may sound plain, but homemade tortillas are amazing!  Especially if someone else is making them.

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...