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 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 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   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 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.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wanna Ride Around or Drive to the Poor House?

March weather has turned to February weather the last few days.  Work on the cabin has taken a break until next Friday when it looks like a little warm up.  Off to the basement we go, sorting, organizing and throwing.  What doesn't get tossed will go to the thrift store in Coudersport.  We woke to 7 degrees and beautiful huge snowflakes tumbling down this morning.  Light the oven and get to baking for a couple hours was a good way to feel cozy in the kitchen.  Dick requested a Hershey Cake and Peach Cobbler,  so it will be, just give me a reason to get in that kitchen!  I have a beautiful view of the barn and fields that I never tire of.  While having our morning coffee Quincy started barking and it was one of his barks that something shouldn't be here.  It was ol'foxy him or herself mousing along in the back field near the barn.  If he had happened upon a hen that would have been Sunday dinner at the fox den.  They have had their babies already and mama needs lots of nourishment to make milk for the little ones.  Dick got the rifle and shot a couple warnings at it until it ran back in the woods.  Just a little reminder, stay away from our hens! 
Because one of us loves "real" whipped cream.  Yes, the
skinny guy!
This is the Hershey cake with white frosting.
Recipe in Della's Daughter Cookbook.
With all the baking Sunday dinner was simple and small,
steak quesadillas.  Steak left over from Saturday worked
I have no idea how many times I have said or heard, Wanna ride around town?  Back in the 60s, wow, I am in my 60s as of age now.  Ok, back in the 60s riding around town was the main entertainment for the evenings.  Let's see, usually the ride around town started at Mom's Kitchen, Freeborns or Chat and Chew.  If you went towards Stevens St. you could turn right or left and the same if you went the opposite direction towards Oswayo St.  Whatever way you went that first left or right turn determined they would be all left turns or right turns.  That would take you all around the perimeter of Shinglehouse.  Then we would mix it up by going through town again and going the opposite way.  No matter the choice that ride around town never changed!  Ya might stop for a short visit with someone else "riding around town", pick up or let off a rider.  From the time I was about 15 until 18 that ride was the Friday and Saturday night happening. 

How did I get to thinking about riding around town????  Well, let me tell ya it was one of those memory flash backs last Wednesday.  We went out for Buckwheat pancakes near Angelica at Cartwrights.  They are only open for all you can eat pancakes during Maple season. They also sell all their Maple products.  We couldn't leave without bringing home a bag of Buckwheat Pancake mix.  The pancakes were delicious and the first time I had been there.   We went with 3 of our friends, they are old friends as in....we have known them all of our lives.  Didn't want anyone to think we have old aged friends :)   After we ate Ron asked if I had ever seen the barn Marcia took a picture of and I painted a water color from the picture.  No, I hadn't.  We rode to the barn and I must say it was  beautiful not as beautiful as the picture only the picture because only my friend could capture the right angle and lighting.  Then Ron showed us the "Poor House" that sets near the barn, that totally amazed me.  He told about how it had come to be and some history of it.  Of course I wanted to know more about it and came home to google the "Poor House".  I found pictures of it inside and out.  The inside is what I really wanted to see but they have no trespassing signs all over.  If I thought for a minute I could have broke free from the husband I would have been in that place!  I probably would have had 3 guys pretty darn upset had I tried to get in.  I am not going to get into great detail on the "Poor House" but will put a couple links below if you are interested in it.  Even at a distance it was quite emotional to look at thinking of  "if walls could talk".  I'm sure there are good stories along with some very sad stories in those walls.  Remember back then there was no assistance or welfare.  If you couldn't take care of your family, the Poor House was where some went if there was room.
The barn at the County Home/Poor House.

The amazing "Poor House" that I would love to get into!  We could see an old couch in the window but we were just too
far away for detail.  Just a little closer would have been great!  Like in it.
Not only did riding around bring back a memory or two the "Poor House" did too!   I was not much more than 5-8 years old when I heard the words, poor house.  We lived on the farm and my dad said, this farm is going to drive us to the "Poor House".  I remember crying myself to sleep that night wondering where the poor house was and would it be awful.  It sure sounded awful.  Finally my mom asked me what was the matter the next day and again I burst in tears and told her because we were going to the "Poor House".  Good God, she said.  Why do you think we are going to the poor house.  Because, dad said so.  Then she told me we will not be moving that dad said that because of the price of milk dropping and he was mad.  Apparently there were many Poor Houses in the country back then.   That is as close to the "Poor House" as I ever got or want to. 

Speaking of driving us to the Poor House how about "drive me to North Warren?"  I knew that was a joke or not.  My mom would say that when she didn't like how I was behaving, especially in the early teen years.  I will admit for a long time I really didn't know what she meant. In fact it wasn't till I was in my 40s that I learned what North Warren was.  Mental Hospital!   Lucky I never drove her to North Warren, my kids didn't me and we all living happily ever after.

The Poor House:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Bar Press vs. the Ceiling Press

Well winter is back this cold 4 degree Saturday morning.  The girls (hens) have been working overtime to give us some beautiful deep orange colored yolks. That happens when they can get out in the barnyard and peck around for food.   For some reason the farm eggs have the ability to fluff up for an omelet that those pale store eggs could never do.  This is a 3 egg, bacon and a little blend of 3 cheese that made its way to the breakfast table.  An easy way to make an omelet is...... beat 3 eggs, 3 TBSP of half and half or cream together.  You can use milk but half and half or cream just gives that wow look and taste.   Then add any ingredients you want.  Pour in a hot medium sized skillet that has a TBSP of butter or your favorite oil added.  I use butter or grape seed oil.  Grape Seed oil takes high heat without burning.  Then I pour the egg mixture in and cook on low until the bottom has started to set.  Next it goes into the broiler on high until the top is set.  That's it, no turning.  Quick, easy and little mess.

Off to Home Depot and make a decision on the flooring and pick up some paint samples for the cabin.  Not sure what we will do once the cabin is done but I did hear........we should build another one. 

One thing I have learned many times in many years.......the real deal is the hardest.  I would walk, jog and run on our treadmill only to find out climbing a hill brought out more sweat, fast heart rate and heavy breathing  ending with more sore muscles the next day that the treadmill could ever do.  Again, the real thing wins.  I am an on again off again person.  Like a routine workout I tend to go strong for months and then stop for months.  Like knitting, painting, quilting and all the other things that occupy this mind..........each has its time and place with me.  Never predictable, just when the mood hits away I run with it.  Maybe that is what keeps me going, variety.  I am thinking I truly don't want to master any one thing because that would be the end, my interest would fade with nothing more to learn and practice.

A few weeks ago I woke up knowing it was back to the basement and start weight lifting again.  I am lucky to have a son that showed me the right way to squat, deadlift and press.  Then there is youtube with Mark Rippetoe and his beginning videos.  I spent a few hours that morning going over each one even though I have watched them each around a 100 times.  For about 3 months prior to starting back to lifting I felt the lower back reversing and not quite the pep in my step and always thinking stand up straight.  As we get older we tend to lean forward, that causes lower back pain and weakness for me.  When doing a regular barbell routine it goes away within 3-5 days.  Happy to say it has been 3 weeks lifting 2-3 times a week and always giving a 2-3 day rest period. 

Now,  back to the real deal.  I am up to 60 pounds with my presses of 3 sets of 5, 80 pound dead lift and 75 pound squat.  That should get these arms and shoulders ready.  Once we started putting up the tongue and groove I figured, piece of cake the boards don't weight much more than 2 pounds and we put 10-14 up a day.  Well............let me tell ya,  my shoulders and upper arms feel like those boards weigh a hundred pounds each.  The ceiling press is quite different from the bar press even though I tried to position my hands on that board so I had a correct stand as the bar lift.  There is something about pushing on that board so the groove will slip into the tongue for 12 ft.  I hold, Dick nails, joint effort.  I have never been good with a hammer and hitting a little tiny head of a finishing nail would more than likely ruin the board.  So, we have about 90 more boards to go.  I have a feeling the arms and shoulders could possibly be "baby Balboas" when finished.  If you are in the need for an upper body work out, give a call and I will give you the "proper" training to hold that board and work with a 6' guy that can bark orders. 
Not the proper press stance.  At some point ya have
to watch if the board is in the right position.
One thing about me and wood.  I love imperfections as the husband found out today.  He picked up a board and said, you don't want this one.  Well, yes I do.  So what if it has a variety of colors rather than plain with a few knots....I want character and design in a piece of wood.  I'm sure many don't but that is ok, we all have our different tastes and desires.
My imperfect board.  It was milled from our white pines.
How could I ignore and cast it aside?  It is what it is.
Every six boards and we get a break.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Joint Effort

There was a little pie dough left from an apple pie I made the other day.  Dick's mom would take left over pie dough, roll it out thin, put some butter, sugar and cinnamon on, roll it up, slice and bake.  I put a little powdered sugar glaze over when right out of the oven.  It came in handy today for a midday snack from cabin work.  A little food, a little rest, good to go.  Sorta!
Just enough fuel for another few hours of work.
Day ? of the cabin.  I have no idea the total days we have been working on the cabin.  Heck, some days we even have to ask each other what day it is or what the date is.  I do know one thing the last two days of arms above the head, climbing up the ladder to get on the scaffolding has made for 2 Tylenols and early to bed.  Tonight while I was fixing supper Dick was doing the chores and taking down the bedding.  It's Monday and today is the day to do bedding.  I have never been able to break some habits and Monday bedding is one of them.  The weather was nice enough to hang them outside.  Nothing better than fresh smelling, cool, crisp sheets, especially when we will fall in bed tonight.  A good days work and a good rest, I'll take it.  After supper Dick said, wait until I get out of the shower and I will help you make the bed.  I must look pretty darn whipped because he hates helping make the bed and I hate it just as much for him.  He has no idea how to put a fitted sheet on without pulling, tugging and saying a few choice words.  So after dishes I hurried in to make the bed.  I had no desire to sit down and wait for him to help.  I knew if I sat down there would be a good chance I wouldn't want to get up.  Exactly how I would have felt because as I am here relaxing and writing there is no way making a bed would be possible.

So, there are the joint efforts for the day.  Putting up tongue and groove together, I fix supper, do the dishes, make the bed and he hangs up bedding and takes it down.  Without the joint effort nothing would be possible around here.  Tomorrow it will be a rerun minus the laundry.  We are very fortunate that Mother Nature has been providing temperatures to work with.

37 at 9:17, time to get to the cabin.

Joint effort.  I wash it, he hangs it.
Sometimes I wonder "what the hell am I doing"?  There is a warm sunny beach or desert adventure just waiting for us.  I don't know why, for some reason staying busy by working and torturing this old body seems the best choice for me.  I love this valley, all we do and all we plan on doing.  I can't imagine life any other way.  I like vacations but I like getting back to Clara.  There is not one window in our house or cabin that doesn't provide a view that makes me think, wow, how lucky we are.  Walking down the sidewalk today that was hidden for so many years at the camp almost made me cry.  It is like walking back in time.  I looked at our back field remembering Dr. Stevens and her daughter Elizabeth, thinking they looked at the same view I was looking at.  That was in the early 1900s for them.  Gone, never to know what their feelings for their land and Clara.  Even when I work my mind wanders frequently.  A couple times today I drifted into deep thoughts only to be brought back by...........hey, you with me?  Maybe, sometimes, but give me a few seconds and away I go.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Along With the Sunshine

There has to be a little rain sometime.  Today proved just that.  For two days I was able to be outside putting 2 coats of polyurethane on 60 boards 12 feet long.  The weather was perfect for the job.  Heavy fog and dew at night that knocked down the dust from the dirt road above us.  Once the sun burned off the fog there was sun, a slight breeze and best of all no bugs.  This gave me about 10 hours of thinking and letting the mind drift away.  I love times like this and I love wood!  Seriously I do.  One of the best things for me working with wood is looking at the grain, knots and imperfections.  So many buy wood with none of these in it, the want a uniform look.   For me that means no character.  Just like humans, animals, birds etc. that is what makes my life interesting.  I don't want perfect and truthfully there is no such thing in my mind. There is one thing I don't like about imperfections and knots.   I will not put my bed under this little "knot face" on the ceiling in our bedroom.  It gives me the creeps and reminds me when our oldest son was little.  I would rock him for his nap and one time he said, eyeballs.  What?  Then he pointed to our wall which had wood paneling on it.  Yep, there they were two eyeballs looking at us.  I changed the furniture that day so we couldn't see it from the rocking chair. 
It looks a lot scarier waking up to!
Back to the "poly job".  It means one step closer to seeing the interior of the cabin come together.  Once the wood is on the ceiling we will be buying 14-12' sheets of sheetrock and 5-8' sheets.  I'm pretty sure I have mentioned my "middle of the night" ideas.  Last night was one of them.  Apparently I went to bed thinking of sheetrock and maneuvering the heavy stuff.  How am I going to hold the top piece in place while Dick sets a few screws to hold it?  I was imagining him barking orders to hold it, don't let it slip as he runs off to get the screw gun or screws that he forgot.  Not a nice situation to be around.  We can get down right nasty.  This is where when all is said and done we laugh and say, "we are both still alive or married."  Maybe  we have handled these situations so well, because of 49 years of practice.  So, as soon as my eyes opened this morning I said.............I know how to hold the sheetrock in place with no worries!  I explained we will run a board on the studs horizontally 4' 1/4" down from the ceiling, lift the sheet rock on it and waaaalaaaa!  Now to see if it works, to be continued.  It took a few different ways to explain but I think he understood.  At least he said he did!  That might have been just to get me to...........shut up!
A good feeling to finish the job.

Wood, beautiful wood.
Dick and I are definitely on the same planet but our minds, not so much!  When I try to explain something he looks like, she is crazy.  When he tries to explain something, he is crazy.  If we are lifting a large something it seems like we lift and turn just the opposite.  When we fold a tarp the same thing,  I think he does it on purpose just to cause a ...........conflict.  Much better to say conflict than fight.  One thing we both snap back with no qualms about it.

Enough of our wicked ways.  The weather turned overcast with some hard rain and a little thunder.  Soup is on this crazy mind now.  I have never made the one simmering as I type but it looked good on an Italian Youtube cooking show. 

Italian Bean and Noodle Soup:  My take and a little change up because I never follow directions in recipes or life.

Saute 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped carrot, 1 tomato chopped  and one finely chopped clove of garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil.  Careful, do not brown the mixture it will make the garlic bitter.  Once the veggies are translucent add 8 cups of water, salt, pepper, bay leaf, 2 15.5 oz. cans of drained cannellini beans and a handful of chopped kale, spinach, Swiss chard, your choice or a mixture.  Cover and simmer until the greens are tender.  Next add 3 green spring onions sliced, tsp. of dried parsley and 1/2 cup of macaroni.  Simmer uncovered until the macaroni is cooked to your liking.  You may need to add more water depending on how much broth you like.  Serve with a grated Romano or Parmesan cheese on top with a drizzle of olive oil.  We like a crusty bread with it.  That is our Saturday night supper.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cabin, Snowflakes and Dumplings

We loaded a lot of lumber on the trailer last week and hauled it away to get planned, edged and tongue and grooved.  The call came today that it is finished.  How exciting since our weather is going to be in the 40s and 50s next week.  The last bit of insulation will be done and we can start putting the boards on the ceiling!  Our long winter's nap is coming to an end.  Lists are mentally being made on what to do, what to do.  The cabin is top priority until the middle of May and then garden will be top of the order.  Once it is planted then back to the cabin until hay season.  I am hoping by the middle of July we can take a break to enjoy the view of the little cabin that already might have a long term guest. 

I was alone today...not really alone.  Quincy was here, snow flakes, chickens, guinea hens and of course Smokey.  Quincy and I sat by the window, I was watching the snowflakes float down and I think he was looking for a squirrel or his favorite guy to get home.  It was very calming and peaceful.  How many snowflakes have I watched in my lifetime with the same feeling.  Once they hit the ground they are no more.  Every time I watch them it is as good as the last time.  Like a snow globe that I don't have to ruin the moment by shaking it again.  The day was perfect to take deep breaths and just shut the world out.  I didn't even have to think of ........what's for supper.  Just me and a few leftovers that will do me just fine.  Beef stew and dumplings and chili.  My pick whenever I want to eat.  Now that is another treat of the day, when I want to.  No hurries, no worries.

Speaking of leftovers.  The beef stew and dumplings was our supper last night.  I had made a roast beef in the pressure cooker last week.  One night it was the roast with whipped potatoes and a few days later hot roast beef sandwiches.  What was leftover went to the freezer. Yesterday I thawed it up, put it in a big pot with carrots, peas, potatoes and green beans that I had cooked.  Then mixed up a half a batch of dumplings  and put on top.  Nice, 3 meals from one roast.  Cook once and just give it a little tweak for 2 more meals.  The dumpling recipe is in Della's Daughter Cookbook. 

Dumpling Recipe:
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 TBSP. shortening or lard

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in shortening and then stir enough milk to make a thick batter to drop by spoon full into hot liquid.  Make sure you cover the pot and leave it covered for about 10-12 minutes.  Take the lid off to check if the dumplings are done.  Just take a fork and lift up the top of the dumpling it should be dry with no sticky dough in the middle.  If they aren't done cover it for a few more minutes.  You can use chicken and gravy or beef and gravy.  Add whatever veggies you like or none.  You can also use blackberries, blueberries, peaches, apples or fruit of your choice with sugar and water, bring to boil, drop dumplings on top and sprinkle with sugar.  Cover and cook the same way. 

The beef stew, make sure it is on a low simmer.

This is what the dumpling batter should look like.  If it is
just the two of us I only make half a batch.

Make sure you leave room for the dumplings to cook.

All done, I sprinkle paprika and parsley on before cooking.
Now you see why you must leave room for the dumplings
to cook.  Nice big and fluffy.

Big helping for him, little helping for her.  Plus he
likes butter on his.

Dessert was homemade tapioca pudding.

Today I received a thank you card from a little girl.  It was beautiful, the card was too.  She took the time to tell me her dad is going to make a frame for the picture I gave her.  All written in cursive and so nicely said.  It was wonderful to see the adult in her life showing her "the ropes."  By that I mean she will grow up knowing how to be polite, thankful and giving.