Tuesday, June 13, 2017

One for the Blackbird......

Life in the 60s as in age it has been a well traveled road to get here but we made it this far and things seem to be about the same as always.  Good times, bad, happy, sad and sometimes miserable.  The miserable always gets pushed aside with thoughts of....."it could be worse", "never cry for anything that can't cry for you" and last but not least, "family is healthy and happy" and "everything else is just material stuff".  How did I get on this subject?  A day of starting to brush hog and the tractor wouldn't start!  No problem, Dick knew what was wrong and had to clean the celinode.  While he was starting that I said, where is the oil dripping from.  For about 5 minutes his words were less to be desired.  I decided to get the zero turn and mow the barnyard.  After 3 swipes it just.........stopped and shut down.  If you could have seen Dicks face come up over the tractor!  I felt the same way.  He left what he was doing and came over....again he knew exactly what was wrong.  The plug under the seat came out, you know the one that won't let it run if your not setting square on the seat.  Well the oil leak on the tractor turned out to be the filter.  It was due for an oil change, all is well with the mowing equipment for another day.  My other favorite saying is, it's a good thing our livelihood does not depend on our little 25 acres and equipment.  Unlike the farmers that have to tend with all the mishaps and breakdowns when it is time to do the fields or milk the cows to keep a farm going and a living for the family.
Oh, how I dreaded telling him the zero turn wouldn't run!

This morning Dick walked in from the barn and said.........."I know what we are doing today".  I kinda gasped and really didn't want to hear because it sure sounded like something was very wrong.  The crows had pulled a row and a half of our corn that was up about 3 inches!  I was worried about the frost last night, the garden survived but the crows took a share.  When my dad would plant sweet corn he would always repeat an old saying and this is the first year it came to mind and actually makes sense.  One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, One for the Cutworm and One to Grow.  Dad always planted his corn in groups for the garden corn, field corn was planted in rows.  We do our garden corn in rows. Maybe next year I will try 5 in a group and thin if need be.    Although it was a little upsetting the thought only lasted a few seconds, it is what it is and all the above reasoning thoughts came to mind. 

One thing I have learned this spring, love the wheelbarrow!   It has been my best buddy.  With the cabin work it is easier to load up the wheelbarrow rather than carry.  Same with the garden work, it is getting used overtime.  We have two but mine I bought at a yard sale last year.  Old, but just a little light weight one that fits my size!  It is great for weeding flowers, planting and transplanting new ones.  Amazing something that has been around for years and years still works better than anything else around. 

How about these wild blackberry blossoms?  If the berries are as plentiful as the blossoms this year we will have a bumper crop for the freezer.  The apple trees and blueberry bushes are the same.  In fact they already have tiny little apples and blueberries started.   Might be a great fall for "apple squeezing" at Cook'n by the Creek.
Blackberry blossoms at our back door.

Today is hot and the sun is shining,  a  breeze little to none and the humidity......terrible.  I love the temperatures to be around 70 with sun and a breeze.  That is a great work day for the cabin or fields.  With this high heat it is early morning and evening get it done and relax during the day with a little knitting, blogging and what else needs attention indoors.  Today we set the countertop and I must say we did great.  Not one harsh word, dirty look, eye roll........nothing.  Tomorrow  it will get one last sanding, stained and a 2 part epoxy put on.  Actually we are doing a sample piece tomorrow and if it's a go then we will do the countertop.  EXCITED!   By the weekend we should be ready to paint the base cabinets and set the doors.  I have been working on a recycled shelf unit for the top cabinets and maybe with a little luck and no disagreements (nice word) it will get hung.  I could go on and on with the little things but won't, it will just get me in a state of  "we have so much to do" I will just forget the list.

Cabin work is getting to the finer things for me. 
Privacy etching on the bathroom window.
Recycled door from the old house on the property.
The before while taking off a kazillion coats of paint.
Today I am thinking of a couple headed west for a summer adventure!  Have a safe and wonderful time where ever the road takes you Donetta and Everett!

Friday, May 26, 2017

When it Rains......Play in the Kitchen

We woke to a gentle rain, which means the seeds are getting the moisture they need to do their thing.  Although we had plans to get the new flowers in the ground there is always something else to do inside.  For me, bake brownies and put up some strawberry rhubarb jam.  That time of the season and one more full circle for rhubarb and strawberries.  I bought a nice batch of berries just for the jam.  Once all the "stuff" is done in the kitchen it will be off to the cabin to hang the hardware for the slide door.  I really can't call it a barn door since it doesn't look like one, it only slides like a barn door.  My order from Amazon (do I love Amazon, yes I do!) arrived.  The door has 3 windows in it which means no privacy for the bathroom and bedroom.  Can't have that so I am going to put a static cling on the windows.  It is called cotton wood and has a floral design on it.  Hoping we like it and it looks good. 

About the cabin............for some reason I am thinking more along the line of a "play house" for girls.  Every color and design I have decided on (with the hubs approval of course) leads me to believe I am filling a little girls dream.  A play house seems to be popping up daily or nightly.  Nights are a great time to figure out what is next and new ideas.  Even the lawn and flower beds have been thought and rehashed many times.  As I quietly set on the porch it is with a vision on the finished look.  If it turns out like my dreams it will be a quiet, pleasant and soothing place to be.  Even the little chipmunks will add to the time well spent relaxing on the porch.  A picnic table is being moved over this weekend, a fresh coat of paint and a little design added should make it doable.  Time is a ticking as the saying goes and with every tick another accomplishment and two more wants are added. 

The previous blog I mentioned about the "last dance".  It doesn't mean an actual last dance because there are lots of lasts in my memory that I call the last dance. Such as the last words with a loved one, the last time my kids sat on my lap, kissed goodnight, kissed an ouchy, the last time they walked out of our house to pursue their adult life.  The last time I sat quietly looking out over the ocean, viewed the snow capped mountains or looked across the desert.  The last ride on our motorcycle or camping in the tent.  The last time I walked out of OVHS on my graduation night.  Life is full of last times, I  never looked at it that way  until a few days ago.  Along with the last dance is also the first dance of many happenings.  They are always fun, exciting and quite often unexpected.  After all there can not be a last without the first.  Life is good that way.   We can be thankful there are some "last dances" that we are not aware of until the dance is over.  Let there be many firsts and lasts down the path of life for everyone!

The day is near the end, the rain has moved on and the sun is shining off the green, green grass of home.  The hills are in full foliage and the  grass in the fields is tall enough to blow gently with the evening breeze.  Take a deep breath and think of what a wonderful day was given.  The only sounds are a few birds chirping and the beautiful sound of ping, ping, ping.  That makes me smile because all 8 pints of strawberry/rhubarb jam has sealed.  Off to the basement shelves until late fall and early winter.  Then with a warm buttered slice of Salt Rising toast it will be a memory of the rainy, spring day it was canned.  Lucky there is a half pint left for tasting.  The man of the house thinks buttermilk biscuits are needed for breakfast.  I agree! 

Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam Recipe:
2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1-3/4 cups thin sliced fresh rhubarb
1/2 tsp. butter
6-1/2 cups white sugar
1 pouch of certo
In a large pot add fruit, sugar and butter.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Add certo and boil 1 minute. 
Fill clean warm jelly jars, seal with lids and rings that have been in hot water, do not let the water boil.
Seal and put in a water bath for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.  This is when you should hear the pings as each lid cools and seals.
A beautiful color, unfortunately the fruit sets on top but no worry, just stir the jam when
we open it and all is mixed and tasty.
My favorite chocolate brownie recipe:
2 sticks of butter, not the fake stuff.
2 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of flour
1 cup of walnuts or pecans if you want them.
In a medium size sauce pan melt the butter, remove from heat and add sugar, cool slightly and beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and stir in flour and salt.  Next stir in the walnuts.  Bake at 350 degrees in a 9x13 greased baking pan for 25-30 minutes.  I don't frost these brownies, they are so moist and chocolaty they don't need anything but a cold class of milk or hot cup of coffee. Enjoy!
The evening snack.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Garden Week

Right on schedule as every May, it is garden planting time.  While I was out enjoying lunch with a dear friend the man of the house was busy getting the garden ready.  All year when the horsestall and chicken coop get cleaned it is piled by the garden waiting for spring.  Yesterday the pile was spread on the garden and tilled in.  Nothing but beautiful fresh turned soil and "shit".  By Sunday it will be mark the rows and start planting.  This is supposedly the year to down size.  Bean, peas, potatoes, corn, cukes and onions.  No lettuce, Swiss Chard or spinach.  They are seasonal eats but the other veggies are staples for canning and freezing that we enjoy all  year long.  I opened our last quart of green beans yesterday.  Usually I put up enough to get us through a complete year.  Last years garden did not produce it's usual bountiful crops.  Potatoes were next to none.  Hopefully this year will be better.  I love seeing the shelves full of beautiful canned vegetables and corn in the freezer.  Tomatoes, pears and peaches I buy by the bushels from the Amish.  A fresh tomato from the garden is always welcome but I find that they never ripen at the same time so it is easier to buy a couple bushels for canning spaghetti sauce, chipotle sauce and just stewed tomatoes for soups etc.  Our few plants provide the all time favorite "mater sandwiches".  Fresh bread, vined ripened tomato, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, it is a daily summer lunch.

We took a 4 day get-a-way from Cook'n by the Creek last weekend.  One of my favorite rides down Rt 15 south.  I never tire of the beautiful hills along the way or the Susquehanna River.  The sun was bright, sky was blue and traffic light.  We had Pandora playing.  My station, the 60s Rock and Roll, Richard's choice the old time country with all the great artists that have left this world.  My station brought back some great high school memories.  Like the formal dances of Prom, Christmas Ball and the Sweet Heart's Ball.  It made me wonder about the "last dance".  At the time we never think, this is the last dance and the last Prom.  To close down the night it always ended with a slow dance.  The songs I listened to along the way were all ones we had danced to 50 years ago.  Wow, it sure seems like yesterday getting all dressed up in a gown, "spike heels", and a beautiful "up do" hairstyle.  We were the lucky generation to have the ever so famous bands playing songs that gave us memories of a life time. 

Well, the garden is planted, temperatures are hovering around mid 60s and the rain has moved in.  Just what the garden ordered.  Last night we put up the frame for the cukes to climb and got the seeds in the ground.  Now to wait and look for the first little cracks in the top of the soil meaning the seeds have sprouted!  The green beans that we planted Sunday have already shown signs of sprouting.  The row had a long crack down through it.  Being the impatient type person I had to scuff the dirt and there it was, a bean sprout.  Happy gardener!
One of my favorite places at Cook'n by the Creek.

I never tire of the beauty in the "wish flower".

This delicate flowering bush is beautiful to look but the overly sweet pungent smell I don't
care for.  Thank goodness the flowers only last a week or so.
By the way..............the garden did not get downsized.  I knew it wouldn't.  We say that every year at the end of the season and when a new season begins it is back at it. 

The next job here will be brush hogging the pastures and fields.  Looking at them yesterday I mentioned it is time to get the brush hog hooked up with Mr. John Deere.  So it begins, the summer fun.  Put me on a tractor so I can breathe deep, enjoy the view and remember things that have been locked away in my memory files.  Another year, full circle.

The cabin is showing progress even though we spend less time each day working on it.  I don't think work is a way to describe our time there, more like "loving on it".  The heavy duty jobs are finished, it is now the fine tuning which requires little muscle power and more "take our time to figure it out".

With Memorial Day weekend near it is time to think of so many that have touched my soul.  We usually put artificial flowers in the urns.  Not this year, we were at the garden center buying flowers for the house and cabin when I thought........I am buying my mom's favorite flowers for the urns this year.  Real, not artificial and it made me happy.  I am sure they won't last all summer but the thought is more loving and respectful.  Pansies and geraniums with all the colorful glory. 

Enjoy the long weekend and remember.........pass it on!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fish and Flooring!

Spring brings a few of my favorite things.  One being fresh caught trout.  The water is still cold which makes for a nice texture and flavor of trout.  Yesterday I told my grandson and nephew that a small, no bigger than 8 inch trout would taste mighty fine.  They are on the local streams often but always do catch and release.  Just this once will ya bring me home one.  They did!  We had to make a trip to Olean for cabin supplies...............flooring!  When I got back there in a bowl of cold water was my lunch for today.  It was excellent, just as every spring!  Dick was having lunch out with his buddies so it was a perfect time for me to dine quietly on fresh fish. Lightly dusted with flour, salt and pepper.  Then off to the frying pan to fry until crisp on the outside.  That was a memory making lunch.  I even laughed thinking of a little poem I would say to the kids when they were little and headed out to fish with their dad.  Are ya ready.........."Little fishy in the brook, Bart, Amber, Beau catch him on a hook. Mommy fry him in a pan,  Daddy eat him like a man."  Only in our house daddy would not and will not eat trout!  Too many bones he says but I think he is a city slicker and only eats haddock, perch and walleye. 

Here is the only way to fry trout and enjoy the meat with out the fine bones being a problem.
Clean and wash the trout, dry well with a paper towel, add salt and pepper to flour.  Roll the trout in the flour mixture, melt butter in a fry pan and fry the fish until crispy and golden brown.  Now, here is the trick.  Once the trout is done put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  For some reason it pulls the bones from the meat.  Now you have it.  The secret to a good fresh trout fry.  If you wrinkle your nose on the thought you are missing a very delicate, mild fish.  No fishy taste or smell.  From the stream to the pan is the only way!
Fresh fish, thanks Kent and Ricardo!

Off shopping with Amberly, Kamrie, Kent and Dick.
When you go to the city, it is calamari for us!
Another thought about fishing trout came to mind while enjoying lunch and watching the Orioles eating oranges and grape jelly from the feeder.  My brother taught my kids how to..........."finger fish".  What you say, finger fish?  It is illegal as heck, always has been and always will be.  There are just times that everyone should know how to finger fish.  Who knows you could possibly be lost, hungry, no fishing pole and then where would you be?  So, just in case here is a way to keep from starving when you are lost, hungry and a trout stream near by.  You get down and do a belly crawl to the edge of the stream bank.  Very slowly reach your hand into the water, under the bank and move it down stream.  With any luck you will have a trout in your hands within seconds.  Trout like to hang under the bank edge or where a tree has fallen in.  They wait until something catches their eye, like a worm or other bait and then, BAM! they swim out and grab it.  By fingering the fish you are eliminating a lot of time.  Just finger them, grab and go but only if you are lost and starving.  Don't do anything illegal............

Back to the flooring for the cabin.  Kitchen cabinets will be started soon by our friend that is building them.  How kind of a guy is he?  One of the best.  Dick will be his go-for-guy.  I will enjoy that considering I am his go-for-gal.  I told Ron, make sure you yell at him and say, hurry up, no not that, over there, see it.......this would be fun but I doubt it will go down that way.  Ok, the flooring.  It had to be put down before the cabinets go in.  We got up early this morning to get started and by gosh didn't we do just fine!  No fighting and the laminate flooring went in just like You Tube said it would.  Not a problem.  Half of the kitchen/living room was down in 3 1/2 hours.  We only had to get half down since that is all the kitchen is.  Maybe tonight get the rest of the flooring down and then, get off those knees.  I got to laughing watching us crawl around like babies!  Unfortunately the tall guy didn't see anything funny about it.  The short girl doesn't have so far to get up and down.  One plus for being short.
Won't be long and floor will be checked off the to do list.
It has been a little crazier than normal around here.  Lawn, weed whacking, asparagus picking and the cabin.  Just the way we like it, fast and furious.   Winter was for resting, now it is time to.......move it, move it.  As soon as the weather pattern changes from wind, rain and frosts it will be time to light the outdoor pizza oven!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Farmer Brown

The days have been filled with cabin work, lawn mowing and best of all.........asparagus picking and canning!   I think it is coming on fast and furious compared to other years.  Each morning after chores I check the asparagus bed and at least 2 pints or 1 quart needs picked.  I rinse it and let it set in a bowl covered with water and ice for the day.  By afternoon it is ready to pickle.  Two pints of dill and garlic, two pints of just cider brine and 1 quart of hot pepper flakes added.  On top of the canning we have had two suppers with asparagus as the veggie or main event.  We bought a pound of different variety type mushrooms, fried them lightly (because they were so light and tender) next we lightly browned the asparagus, added more butter (everything is better with butter), olive oil, salt and pepper.  Tossed it in cooked spaghetti and we had supper.  Crusty bread on the side made the meal.  I love easy fixes and this is one for sure.  Next time I plan on using hot pepper flakes and a little prosciutto in it and a spiral pasta.  Can ya tell I like pasta?  Before the end of season a pot of cream of asparagus soup will be on the menu.  Winter is officially over, even though there were flakes in the air today.  Canning season is officially starting.  The rhubarb is also in full swing.  My niece got her spring fix and even shared a delicious rhubarb pie with us.  Next week I will be making strawberry/rhubarb sauce and putting some up for the upcoming cold winter.....gotta think ahead around Cook'n by the Creek.  I always tuck away 2 pounds of frozen strawberries from the previous summer for rhubarb sauce and jelly. 
Every morning the garden gives us a gift.  I swear
we could watch it grow! 

From garden to plate, the work is worth the taste.

Speaking of gardens, let me tell ya about a fella that moved from Shinglehouse long ago.  He went to school here, then off to the military and ended up in Edna, Texas.  We hadn't seen Bob Brown in 50 years until his 50th class reunion last June.  We were lucky enough to have him and his wife visit us for a day.  Coffee Up, is Bob's famous saying.  We did just that, plenty of coffee during the day.  I might have met my match on a coffee drinker.  He even liked the JMC I had.  Ok, so he got interested in gardening and .............yes..........chickens.  We have been messaging back and forth with a question/answer session and I might say, he is a natural.  Being in south Texas he has been harvesting green bean, cukes and tators already. Sending pictures and making me wish it was garden time here.  That would mean summers end so I won't wish it away.  I will just enjoy "Farmer Brown's" pictures and messages.  Go......Farmer Brown....you are doing great for a first year farmer!
Nice looking red potatoes!
Just the way they should be, straight and dark green.

The other day I rode along with Dick while he went to get cracked corn.  I hadn't been up Kings Run that far in years.  It was beautiful with memories of visiting my cousins.  The ones that were closest to my age were Larry and Grace Gross.  The visits were few but the memories still fulfill the place I hold dear in my heart.  It was a time that it was just me and mom riding along and chattering.  She loved spring with the May flowers, Violets, Adders Tongues and Stink Pots. I guess they are really Trilliums. When she would see some we would always stop and pick bouquets to take home.  The ride the other day made me smile every time I saw the beautiful spring flowers.  So, do you know what I am talking about when I say Adders Tongues?  I think I better go google that and see what they are really called.
The "stink pot"
The Adder's Tongue or Erythronium Americanumes.  I'll stick
to Adder's Tongue!
Along with the wild flowers in full bloom the apple trees (wild and tame) are gorgeous and loaded with blossoms.  Also the wild strawberry plants  are in full bloom along with our tame blueberry bushes.  Now, I sometimes like to worry (wink) which makes me worry that a frost or freeze is going to come along in May and ruin the fruits harvest this year.  Last year was plentiful and we were able to have our annual apple squeezing, cider making day.  Could we be lucky enough to have it two years in a row!  Only time will tell what will be. 

Last week we went to Lowes.  Sound exciting?  For me it is!  I planned on shopping for new sandals and a couple outfits that I desperately need...............but.............Lowes..............was the store for me.  Much easier picking out a few tools that I have wanted for quite a while.  Like, wood chisels and a hand planner.  All mine..........until the guy decided he was in need to use them.  How did he get along without them?  They are handy little tools to have, I wanted them for when I start my Kuksa which I hope will be soon.  Just looking for that perfect piece of wood to use.

We are headed down the home stretch.  Windows are all
cased in and soon the chair rail and ceiling trim
will be just a memory.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Spring Fling

Today was really one of those days with lots of work, thoughts, memories and good feelings.  The morning started with chores, check the asparagus and a peaceful breakfast on the back deck.  A quick lick and a promise to the house and off I went to prime and paint at the cabin.  Have you ever heard a "lick and a promise"?  That is a saying my mom would use when she didn't have time to do the real cleaning.  That is what I did today.  Left the dishes in the dish drainer rather than take care of them.  Looked around and promised tomorrow I would dust and run the sweeper.  Yep, I call the vacuum a sweeper.  Oh, the dishes in the drainer...........I haven't used a dish washer in two years and don't miss it.  With just the two of us I would rather "do them up" after each meal.  For some reason these old hands love the warmth of the water.  It gives a little relief to those knotty old joints that remind me of my grandmothers.  Like the gray hair, it is all part of Carrie Gross, I remember from so long ago.

I had my day planned out when I went to bed last night.  Dick would be subbing at school and it meant I could work at my own pace with no interruptions.  The first thing at the cabin was prime the walls.  Then it was off to mow our lawn, the barnyard, around the garden and finally the cabin lawn.  Next the weed whacking for our house and the cabin.  By then it was lunch time, cheese burger,  like Jimmy Buffett sings............it was in Paradise.  Again the back porch to munch along with a view.  The view I never get tired of looking at.  The chickens and guinea hens were busy scratching and looking for bugs.  Smokey had his head down to the green and never once looked up when I would call to him.   That spring green gets to him!  A great love affair until the temperatures get hot, the grass loses its moist tender taste.  Then it is back to nibbling here and there for another year.

Once lunch was over it was back to the cabin to paint.  The primer was good and dry with all the windows open and a beautiful breeze blowing through.  It made my time go much faster feeling the fresh air and the feel of rain in the air.  It will blow rain in for the evening just in time for bed, relax and be thankful for the day.  A day of work, good feelings that I can still do what I love to do.  Keep busy, feel accomplished and grateful for this life we have.

The cabin is ready for the woodwork and chair rail.  I have moved on in my thoughts to what colors to use in each room.  Yes, it is getting close to the final decisions of what to do as far as decorating.  At this point I am thinking very simple and plain.  White for woodwork, cupboards and curtains keep coming into this mind of mine.  The bedroom and bathroom are painted............hunter's white.  It doesn't look white, more of a light gray/green if that makes sense.  The living room and kitchen are painted a very pale gray/green.  It reminds me of the sea grass at the beaches in NC.  I took a few pictures but the lighting just wasn't good this afternoon.  Maybe morning light will be better.

By the end of summer we are hoping to have a "WELCOME TO THE CABIN" so the ones that live close and have been following our adventure can take a look at it in real time.  I'm sure there will be some treats to eat as well! 

Here is the first pick of the garden.  Tomorrow night, asparagus with butter, salt, pepper and lemon.  Our favorite way to enjoy it.   That is it, my Spring Fling for the day!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A little of This and a Whole Lot of Nothing

It is asparagus time.  Three days ago we walked around the asparagus bed and not a sign of it. Today when I went to do the chores I thought, go take a look and maybe it will show signs of tender new shoots.  It sure did!  All 5 inches high!  Now we will get our fill of asparagus and pickle some for next winter.  We only did a few jars last spring since we didn't know how it would be.  I can tell ya, we will be canning as much as possible this spring.  Delicious....

The green has taken over brown.  Fields and pastures are beautiful and the lawn has been mowed twice in the last week.  Right where I like to be, on the lawn tractor or farm tractor grooming it once or twice a week during the early days of spring.  That is my "take me back, feel good, breathe deep moments of my life.  Great feeling to be free.  The fields will not get touched until the first of June.  That way the wild birds, turkeys and fawns will have plenty of deep cover to hide from the predators.

The cabin:  Where does it begin and end?  I don't want it to be completely finished, the cabin offers me as much peace and enjoyment as cutting grass, garden and animals.  Every few days the new project is completed and on to the next.  The dry wall is hung and the seaming and nail plastering is ready for the third coat.  I would like to say the final coat but not sure of that.  Today will be knocking down the imperfections and putting that thin third coat on.  Then we shall see if it's a 3,4 or 5 coat process for this unprofessional mudder.  Right now it looks so different with the walls and dividing walls in place.  I thought it would look really small once it was divided off but it doesn't.  Just a cozy 20'x 20' little cabin.
My "mud mixer" guy.

The "mudder gal".

Yes, I see the light!
A saying that every now and again pertains to me......a little bit of this and a whole lot of nothing.  I can be talking about a supper of leftovers or work that I am planning for the day.  Sometimes I do a little bit of this and a whole lot of nothing. Which is more often than not.   In fact, my husband says to me frequently.......stay focused, Cheryl.  I can be doing laundry, walk by a little chore and end up changing directions in a blink.  That's me, mind goes around and round and where it stops, not even I know at times.  For example, the cabin work can be mudding, sanding or sealing some wood.  What ever floats in my thoughts is where I will be today.  That is the best part of no schedule, no commitments, just do it. 

The door is finished, color and all.  We actually agreed on a color which is very unusual.  I picked the color so to show my kinder side I am letting the husband pick the wall color.  Sometimes I have a kinder side, sometime!  This could be very interesting because rarely do we agree on colors.  I will make do and decorate accordingly.  Just because I will prove I have a kinder side and can give up control of a situation, every now and again.  Scary!

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Fight is Over

It was days of fighting.  Who would win?  Never a doubt that Spring would take "Old Man Winter" down.  The days get longer, the sun gets higher, temperatures go up and down randomly and the snow slowly retreats to become the milky water flowing in our streams.  We can wish all we want for spring to come early but it is not to be.  Mother Nature shows us all the subtle signs for weeks on end.  Even now with days of warm breezes, blue skies and comfortable nights "Old Man Winter" will step in now and again just to let us know he is a fighter.  Eventually he will give up and just be a memory until next fall when he slowly creeps back into our lives.

At Cook'n by the Creek the grass is growing, pastures are getting green, leeks are on the menu and trout season will be here next Saturday.  Leek digging, our favorite spring saying, "it's a leek digging, beer drinking, (I hate beer) homemade bread kinda day.  That will be next weekend.  Ham is waiting to be cooked in the crock pot and the juices will provide the broth for the leeks to be cooked in.  A few leek sandwiches with butter, salt and pepper make for a few days of meals all wrapped around the "wild leek".  If I'm lucky the grandson will be knocking on my door with a few trout.  That has been the "cycle of life" since a little girl.  Comfort food, comfort life.  We have so many memories through the years with family and friends digging, cleaning and cooking leeks.  Some traditions are worth keeping and a "leek digging, beer drinking" day is one.  The day is full of sunshine, blue sky and warm temperatures.  That perfect day just happens and away we go. 

The cabin is still top priority for our days.  Six sheets of sheetrock to hang and then the plastering begins.  Yesterday as Dick was cutting out an outlet I was a little nervous.  He didn't shut the electric off while using the rotozip to go around it.  Our measurements are sometimes less to be desired and all it would take is to hit the inside rather than the outside of the box and he would be lit up like a Christmas tree.  I was ready for a picture just to prove I had nothing to do with the "light up".  All went well and 8 more to cut out.  Well, not completely well............we did have a little discussion with someone putting a little thunder on the ground.  All in a days work around here!
Ready, cut!
Today I will be sanding the final side of the door and hopefully putting the first coat of primer on.  I left the marks from where a porcupine chewed on it.  Just a little character and memory of what was.
Then we are off to watch OVHS baseball at Coudersport, deliver donations to the thrift store and before we leave get an ice cream cone from Cream and Sugar ice cream shop.  Chocolate of course, it is made in Penn State and the best ice cream we have had in a long time.  Ice cream is not friendly to me but for some reason Penn State does not bother me.  Yeah, I knew if I searched I could find one that liked me!

The Mr. had to sub at Votech today so an afternoon of my favorite ride was in order, the zero turn lawn mower.  It is running like a top so the chances of me getting a new JD is slim to none and none being more like it.  There was some limestone to rake out of the lawn from the plow guy this winter scraping to low on the driveway.  I can not think of anything I HATE more than raking.  That means in work choices......snakes are at the very top of my HATE list.  It is that time of the year when my eyes are scanning for the slithery, scary things.  It doesn't matter if it is dirt, grass or gravel, all raking is a pain in my arms.  It's done and now for a relaxing hour to have a cup of maple tea and enjoy the beautiful warm breeze going through the house.  All the windows are open and it is one of those days to just smile about. 

What's for supper?  Don't know and don't care..............like I said, just one of those days.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ready Strip

April is a month of eleven days I will be flying solo.  Let me tell ya, I like having Richard retired but there are times I need to have the "me time" and do what I want without being questioned then told how it should be done.  Remember, I am not good at taking or following orders!  That's the truth.  I get down right ornery, even if in my mind I know there is a better way.  Since Dick will be subbing at school for eleven, yes.....eleven days I will be doing little chores and projects with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and happy as can be.  For about a month I have been mentally lining up my to do things, buying a few tools that will make it easier and just plain googling the projects. 

This morning was a leisurely cup of coffee ( or 2 or 3), feed the horse and chickens, and one last google.  Coffee Up, Farmer Brown!  The weather couldn't be any better today and tomorrow to do a couple things in the basement.  This morning I worked on "Monty's Door".  It came from a room that Monty Hathaway had built on his home which we bought in the fall of 2015.  It is an exterior door that I really liked and convinced someone to let me have it.  There were so many coats of paint on the outside but the "Ready Strip" that I bought is amazing and so nice to use.  This is the first time I had tried this brand and continue to use it unless someone can tell be a better stripper to use.  How about it, Barb Maxson Adams?  I know you strip a lot  and I am just a once in a while stripper............any better recommendations? I like Ready Strip for the fact, put it on one day and take it off the next.  It does not dry out, run and when it is scraped off it comes off in long strips with a rubbery texture.  There were a few areas that did not all come off so this morning when I was done scrapping I took a small brush and brushed it on just in the areas that needed it.  Tonight or tomorrow it will come off and I will be ready to sand, prime and paint.  The door is going to be hung barn style on a dark brown rail dividing the living/kitchen areas and the bedroom/bathroom areas.  Not going to say the color, Dick just looked at the sample and didn't say a word.  We shall see.  There will be a little plaque that will be inscribed "Mont's Door" and the date he built his home.  Just a simple little memory for others to see.
When the Ready Strip is ready to come off it turns a dark green.  No smell to it!
The glass will be etched with a design.
You can see the spots that didn't come off the first time.  Nice that it stays where
it's put and doesn't run on the wood already stripped.
As long as I was in the basement.........time to organize the canned goods. 
Soon it will be garden planting, harvesting and canning.  The Melamine dishes, from Monty's place.
I had to keep just a few, there were dozens of them.  The rest went to the thrift store.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bloused Trousers

Sunday when I was getting ready to start the work day at the cabin a memory just jumped right in.  It was at the point of putting on my work boots and tucking my jeans into them.  It was a flash back of watching my dad get ready for work at Messer Oil.  He would put a wide band on his boots around the ankle.  Then lace them with rhythm.  One lace in each hand seesawing them up the hooks until the top and then tie them off with a double tie.  He would pull the band up on his trousers and blouse them.  I always thought why bother but now I know.  They looked the same when he came home from work or the barn.  For my tuck them in my boots means all day long I am tucking them back in.  Every time I bend my knees out the jeans would come making for an uncomfortable feel.  Next winter if I remember, the blousing technique will be put to the test. 

As usual I had to google blousing trousers.  It started with military dress attire.  I have pictures of my dad when he was very little wearing jodhpurs.  They were pants that were very tight from the knee down and bloused out at the hips.  English Equestrians wear this style.  I often wonder why they had all the extra material around the hips so I googled that too.  Made sense, it is to give extra room when riding a horse.  From the knee down they were tight to keep the pants from getting caught in the stirrups.  So, if you have been wondering all your life as to the reason for breeches, jodhpurs and knickers now you know.  To think one little memory of 60+ years ago created a blog.  As always my mind is like someone that loves to travel, it just keeps wandering in all directions.

An update on the cabin.  It really is starting to look like a cabin!  The left over tongue and groove was taken back to the garage and room was made for the sheetrock.  As of last night we had hung 10 sheets of it.  The kitchen walls are all sheetrock and the living room has tongue and groove up 4 ft. with 4 ft. of sheet rock up to the ceiling.  Next we do the bedroom and bathroom with sheetrock.  My work will begin once that is done............plastering the screws indents and seams.  I can not stand the smell of it but am the only one patient enough to do it and it does take patience.  Ya can't hurry plastering.  It works out ok because I don't have the patience for painting walls and Dick does.  He is really good at it too.  Works out fine around here, each has their own specialty that the other can not or will not attempt.

Quincy just want a chipper to run by.

Saturday is usually designated for pizza night.  The best way to bake a homemade pizza is on a stone slab at 410 degrees on a low rack.  The bottom is crispy and the dough evenly cooks through.  We like thin crust but thick crust bakes just the same........good every time.  Toppings depend on what is in the refrigerator.  Last Saturday it was onion, mushroom and green olive toppings.  I have a feeling in the next couple weeks the pizza will be topped with fresh wild leeks.  As with adding them to fried potatoes, spaghetti, cheese spread and what ever else sounds like it needs a boost of leek flavor.  My friend from NM sent me a great idea.  Deep fried leeks!  Of course we will be trying them. Besides leeks it calls for my favorite...buttermilk to dip them in first.  Remember buttermilk makes deep fried foods extra crispy.  I have no idea why but it sure does.
Yum and we didn't have to leave the house. 

The next two pictures are proof that Dick and I share everything, work, fun, fights and injuries.  When you are working with tools there is always a good chance there will be some kind of an injury.  Nothing that requires seeing a doctor but that moment when the whole world gets dark and our words are less than to be desired.  Dick was on his last section of putting up insulation when he hit his thumb with the hammer type stapler.  Very lucky the staple did not go in the thumb and even more lucky for me, I was not there for the action.  Yes, it seems we get careless the closer we get to finishing a job.  As with my left hand.  We were up about 4 boards of tongue and groove.  It would not slip in place because it was warped in the middle.  Dick said, wait and I'll stand on it while you nail.  I was nailing anyways because of being closer to the ground than a 6'1 guy.  I always take the low jobs by choice.  Much better than working off a ladder for me.  Ok, so he was standing on it, I started to nail and the damn board slipped completely off the other and came down on my hand.  Board weight, 2 lb.  Dick's weight 205 lb., 207 on my hand.  Doing the dance, squeezing my hand and talking to myself out loud with Dick chasing me around saying, "let me look at it."  Again, hell no! I am not going to let go of it!  I knew it wasn't broken and tried to tell him that.  Five minutes later he was able to assess the damage, all was well and back at it.  Different board and went in like it was suppose to.  Lesson #111,111,111............don't try to make something work when it starts out too difficult.  That is a sign of things to come.
It should be a goner within a few weeks, eek.  Glad it isn't my thumb!

So many beautiful shades of green, blue and purple for about a week.  Happy I don't wear my rings when I work!
The top of my hand looked like a horsestepped on it.  Aw, the joys of living at Cook'n by the Creek. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Zuppa Toscana Style

Cabin work just took a turn for the better.  The ceiling is complete, lights are installed along with a bathroom fan.  That means no more step ladders, scaffolding  or working with our hands above our heads and head tipped back so far it darn near touches our back.  When that last board went up we just looked at each other and grinned.  We actually do that sometimes....grin I mean.  No bruises, stitches or gun shots.  We shall live to see another job done.  Which actually was today.  We put up old barn boards on the hallway wall and it looks better than in my middle of the night idea.  Run a steel brush over the wall and a little Satin Polyurethane and it will be ready for a shelf and picture.  Here I go getting ahead of the game, I can't do any fine tuning until the walls and floor are done and that means lots of middle of the night ideas coming to me.  Once the walls are done the cabin work will take a turn for the worse again..........crawling on hands and knees installing the wood floor.  Best not mention that for a few weeks!  Tough to decide which is worse, up and down a ladder or up and down from the floor.

Before we head to the cabin I try to make something for supper.  Nothing worse than working over there, coming home at 5:30 and no idea or desire to fix supper.  Yesterday was soup day and it is an easy delicious one.  We both like Olive Garden soups with our favorite the one with sausage, potatoes, onions, kale, chicken broth and the put it over the top ingredient............cream.  I had spinach and no kale but the spinach was great in it.  Instead of hot sausage I used smoked beef kielbasa, just because I never follow directions!  I also used spring onions or green onions what ever you call them.  How did I know how to make the soup........I googled of course and up the Olive Garden recipes popped.  I just needed a little idea on the recipe.  Tomorrow I am going to make their salad dressing!  Another favorite from Olive Garden. 

My take on the recipe:   2 cups of sliced smoked kielbasa
                                       6 green onions sliced in 1 inch pieces, green too!
                                       2 large russet potatoes peeled and sliced to the size you like.
                                       3 cups of spinach
                                       1 quart of water chicken stock
                                       1 clove of garlic minced fine
                                       pepper to taste
                                       4 Tablespoons butter
                                       1 cup of heavy cream

In a pot melt the butter and add kielbasa and onions.  Simmer until onions start to wilt.  Add chicken stock, garlic and potatoes, cook until potatoes are fork tender.  Add spinach and cream.  Simmer until spinach is done.  Pepper to taste.  There are many takes on the recipe with a little twist to each one.  You can google and pick a different one.

Add a couple slices of fresh homemade bread and it's a meal!
The weather has taken a turn for the better.  Fifties and rain showers will make the flowers, leeks and asparagus grow.  The stores are just starting to get some good looking asparagus in and it is tough to walk by and not buy...............when the garden starts producing it we will be eating and pickling it until we just can't look at it another meal.  Last year was the third year of the new asparagus bed and in gave more than we ever expected.  That means this year it should about double the harvest from last year.  I only pickled 3 pints last year since we didn't know if we would like it.  We did, so this year we hope to put up twelve pints or more.  Yes, it is that good.   Last years green bean crop was not so good, I have enough canned for another month and then we will have to wait and hope this summer's crop is back to normal.   Freezer corn should last until around July which is about normal.  Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, peaches, pears and chipotle sauce should last until canning season. 

Can you tell the old mind is going a little wild?  Cabin, garden, soon lawn mowing, leek digging and what ever else comes along with spring.  Once season at a time Cheryl, slow down your mind moves way too fast.  Not to mention, "The Book".  Remember any great memories or stories you can write them down, email them to me and you will be a writer.  Come on you can do it!  "Pass it On"  for all to learn about our little town of Shinglehouse from years past.  My email address is cherylbryant49@gmail.com.   Life is what we make it.


Friday, March 24, 2017

I Ain't Working Here No More!

Just like the song, Take This Job and Shove It..........that was how day kazillion went at the cabin this morning.  About an hour into the bedroom ceiling it started getting nasty.  At that point I should have turned, walked away, kept quiet and went back to do my wifey things at the house.  Being stubborn I thought we could get passed the guy trying to boss way too much with too much verbal not so nice instructions.  Let's see how did it go,  you have to push the board up and keep it there, hit the board square on, I will hold the board you nail it...............here you hold the nail, I will push up on the board and hit the nail...............Oh hell NO, I say.  I will not hit your finger, just hold the nail.  No, I say again and he said, you  don't believe I would hit your finger do you.  bursting out with a nasty laugh I said, why yes I do.....after all you hit your own thumb that has a black nail and ready to fall off.  That is when the thunder rolled and the earth started to move.  Thunder was us cutting loose on each other and the earthquake when I stomped off to the house.  Done, done, done.  I cleaned house just a fuming and scared to death he would try to work on the ceiling alone and screw it up!  Once I had calmed down to the point I could return to the cabin it was with great relief he had put the ceiling fan and light up.  Whew!  I had visions of boards laying all over the place that he threw when they wouldn't go into place.   We actually got the rest of the ceiling up without another burst of barking orders and my "Gross" temper staying low keyed.  Like we always say when we reach the boiling point, it's a damn good thing we did not have our pistols strapped on or someone would not have lived to see the morning dawn.  Another day in the life at Cook'n by the Creek.
Living room and bedroom, wall will be sheet rocked.

Kitchen area with recessed lights.
Tomorrow morning will be mostly the Mr.'s work at the cabin while I do a little sweeping and stacking wood.  The bathroom fan and light has to be installed along with the insulation put in the bathroom. ceiling  That should take about two hours and then we will be back at putting the tongue and groove up.  My prediction barring no unseen thunder storms or earthquakes, all of the ceiling will be done by 4 pm.  Then we have a couple walls to put tongue and groove on.  After that off to buy and haul the dry wall home.  Things will be moving along quickly from that point on. 

The reason I decided to write this blog was to let some know marriage is not always a "box of chocolates" and to let everyone know we do have our not so good days working together.  Sometimes it is down right bitter tasting but along with the bitter comes the chocolate or a glass of wine.  There have been many times in the last 49 years that it would have been easy to say "let's call it quits"  but the hard part would have been saying good bye and moving on.  At the end of the day or the end of a week (sometimes I give the silent treatment for days) staying was worth all the thunder storms.  Until the next storm it shall be a lot of laughs, chocolate and wine for me.  If ya can't enjoy the storms how would ya ever enjoy the sunshine. 

A well deserved night out with family at the 4 Mile Brewery in Olean.  I checked out the menu and it looks like my kinda food.  Beer not my pick so let there be wine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kuksa On My Mind

I know, you are by now tired of my love of a good snow storm.  It really was a perfect day for me relaxing, going through a book, knitting and every few minutes looking at the computer screen to watch Liberty and her faithful husband taking turns setting on the two eggs.  The first egg is due to hatch on St. Patrick's Day and the other a few days later.  I wonder if the Game Commission will name them something to do with the winter storm or to the holiday of green.  It is so interesting to watch them, when I hear their calls it means they are ready to change guard.  This morning Liberty was covered in snow, she eventually shook it off, rolled the eggs and shortly after Daddy game to take her place.

Another pair of socks will soon be done.  A book about Shinglehouse is in the making.  My friend Ron is working on it with me.  Hopefully we can gather a few or more good stories or memories from others that grew up in the Shinglehouse area during the 50s, 60s and 70s.  So if you did and have something you would like to contribute we would greatly appreciate it.  So far we have had a great time remembering things that had long ago been forgotten.  The more we remember, the more we remember, it just keeps going on and on.  My husband has some great stories of fishing and hunting frogs on the Oswayo Creek.  He was great on ice skates.  When I was 15 and we had just started "going steady" he asked me to go ice skating down by the bank.  My mom bought me beautiful white ice skates, mittens and a hat to match.  Off I went thinking I would be skimming up and down on that ice looking mighty good.  Dick took off and I set off to follow him.....down I went and it was all down hill from that first fall.  I couldn't keep my ankles from tipping over and when I did it was a slip, slide and down I would go.  That was the first time and last time I ever put those skates on.  You can say I know when I am not good at something and get out while the getting is good.  It probably relates to the fact I never was athletic and had no desire to be.  Just as I never caught on to clay throwing.  For 6 weeks I attended the class and for 6 weeks the instructor kept telling me, don't give up you will catch on.  HAHAHA, no I won't and no I didn't.

The UPS guy was out and about today.  He delivered a package, wood carving knives.  Yep, another crazy thing I want to try.  Watching a youtube on winter camping (yep, I want to) in a tent, the guy was using a beautiful wooden cup/bowl with a handle called a kuksa.  Pine because it is a soft wood will be my first try, then hopefully on to Birch, Maple and Cherry.He mentioned it and said his next video would give a demonstration on how to carve one.  I was hooked at that moment.  There probably is not too many youtube videos I haven't watched on the art of carving.  Off to Amazon and order two knives suggested for beginners.  Tomorrow off to the basement to practice holding the knives, suggested by my husband!  Pine because it is a soft wood will be my first try, then hopefully on to Birch, Maple and Cherry.   #imacrazygal
A kuksa, there are many styles, all so beautiful!

The knives, made in Sweden.
Something I haven't made in a long time, Texas Hot Sauce.  It is in my cookbook and was the recipe my mom used at the Biergarten back in the 1960s.  We had them for supper and each bite we were both saying,  I forgot how good this sauce is.  We did for sure!  I think it has been 15 or more years.  Why I have no idea.  I googled Texas Hot Sauce and did not find a recipe like moms.  Most added so many seasonings it would be over kill.  Hers is simply cinnamon, cloves, paprika, salt and pepper.  The recipe is easy to make and so darn good.  It will make you think of the Wellsville Texas Hot Sauce. 
I use all beef skinless hotdogs.  Nathans brand, it doesn't matter what kind you use as long as you like them.  Chop the onions very, very fine to be put on top and of course a yellow mustard too.  Remember to steam the rolls or you can do them in the microwave.  I haven't been this excited over something I make for quite a while! 
Della's Texas Hot Sauce on a hot dog and steamed bun. 
Friendship Cottage Cheese and Baked Beans, what is
not to love on that plate?
Once you stir in the flour cook until the desired
thickness.  We like ours thin and pourable from a spoon.
Mild mustard is dry mustard in a can.  You can use
yellow bottled mustard in its place.
Texas Hot Sauce, make sure you break the ground beef
in small pieces as it cooks in the water.  Nothing
worse than big chunks of burger in the sauce.