Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is That Goldilocks?

Lee and I spent a couple of hours...OK....I lied. It was more than one hour, for sure. Anyway we were working hard clearing more of the entrance. I used up two battery packs on the trimmer and one personal battery pack that lets me use the lopper. My arms were wobbly and I was sweating.

I came in to the house to change clothes. This also involves minute inspections for ticks that may have hopped on for a ride. I wanted a big drink of something cold and a wee lie down.

And THIS is what I found. Could it be that Goldilocks tried out all the beds and found her (in this case, his) perfect one? Poor baby. So tired from resting and eating all morning. SHEESH!

Hey! Is that his FOOT on my PILLOW? Gross! Wait...that's LEE'S pillow. Nevermind.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

I haven't had pasta in quite sometime. I was thinking about having some Chicken Parmesan without the pasta. Then I found some thin spaghetti made from whole wheat and thought I could make just a wee bit. I also cooked some zucchini and yellow squash to limit my pasta intake and reduce the carbs the sneaky way.

Chicken Parmesan

3 Tablespoons flour
s & p
chicken strips , I used 1/2 a package from another meal and we will have leftovers.
2 Tablespoons butter
minced garlic, divided use, I used the kind in a jar
1/2 onion, divided use, diced
1/3 cup Burgundy. That is what I had. Use any wine or chicken broth
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes, I had diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Italian Herb seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley. It should have been parsley, but I had cilantro!
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated if you have a hunk
1/4 box of long skinny pasta, your choice

yellow squash and zucchini cut into circles

First I set a pot of water to boil with a bit of salt. If it boils too soon, just turn it down and keep it hot.

Chop the vegetables and put half the onions and half the garlic with them and set aside. I also cut up some fruit (strawberries and cantaloupe) for a bit of cool and a bit of sweet.

Heat some EVOO and butter in a cast iron pan on medium. Put the flour and s & p on a dinner plate and stir to mix. Dip both sides of the chicken strips in the flour mixture and place carefully in the pan. Cook on both sides for about 3 minutes. Remove to a CLEAN (non bacteria laden) plate and keep warm.

Add the rest of the onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the wine or chicken broth. Scrape the pan of all the bits on the bottom and keep cooking until it reduces by half. Then add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and the seasonings. This includes the cilantro or parsley. Reserve some to garnish the dish. Add s & p to taste.

Heat another pan to medium for the vegetables. Use EVOO and then when warm add the zucchini mixture. Go ahead and sprinkle the Italian Herb seasoning to that, too. Stir every few minutes. Put the pasta in to boil and stir gently.

Return the chicken on top of the tomato sauce and cover the slices with Parmesan cheese. Cover the chicken and tomatoes to melt the cheese and reheat the chicken.

When the pasta is cooked everything else should be done. Place the drained pasta on a plate and add a portion of chicken with some of the sauce. Try to make sure the cheese side is up!! Garnish with the parsley/cilantro. Add the veggies and the fruit, unless you want to serve the fruit in another dish, which you will then have to wash.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Does This Driveway Ever End?

I took another shot at clearing the driveway today. Lee had to go get the Farm Use truck inspected, so I started by myself. I think this is where I gave up last year. It is absolutely covered in vines and locusts.

Locust trees have thorns. They can get over and inch long. They punch holes through leather gloves and then through skin with no problem. If you leave them alone they bring their friends and set up camp. Sort of like the Occupy Wall Street movement. If you try to make nice you soon have your yard taken over by pests.

So you have to cut them down. And when you do you have to be very careful because they can land on top of you and all that piercing is not fun. You have to be careful how you grab them to put them in the truck, too!

The vines need to be cut WAY back from any tree that you like. It will girdle the tree and when you try to pull the vines out of it, you will most likely break the branches you are trying to save. An ounce of prevention....

When Lee got home he got out the chainsaw and we managed to clear one small section of land. I think my timeline of how long this project will take will have to be revised. Two hours of work over filled the truck and we called it a day. I still had some battery life in the second battery pack for the Black and Decker trimmer, but the battery life in Rebecca was mostly discharged!

Here is the before.

And here is the after.

So this is the result of two partial days of ground clearing with a lot more to do. Then we have to burn it. This land ownership is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe that condo in a big city isn't ALL bad!

And then the really fun part begins. You have to check yourself all over and examine all the bloody spots and dirt dabs to make sure you didn't pick up any ticks. And when you do, and you will, you have to get the tweezers and pull them out and flush them away. I'm going to spare you the picture of THAT, too.

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

A long time ago ( at LEAST 5 years) in a land far away (California)I used to keep a notebook of quotes. Not like famous quotes, but things I had come across in my reading that I loved. If it was funny or witty, I wanted to write it down.

Then we moved at the book disappeared. Do I think it is gone forever? No. I think it is in one of our many bookcases.

Maybe here.

Or here.

Probably not here, though.

It could also be in one of the many scattered bookcases in other rooms.

On the other hand it could be in a closet inside an unpacked box. Yeah, we have those, too. I won't bore you with the pictures.

So, when I was reading The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson,a Walt Longmire series, I kept finding sentences that I wanted to write down. The reason I need to write them down as I am reading is that once I turn the page, I have forgotten what it was I loved. That is my problem.

I don't want to reread the book. I have a bazillion (at last count) books that I have purchased, checked out or been given that I need to read. So I went to the store and bought a new blank notebook in which to write clever things. It is not a bound book like the other one, but I was feeling cheap and now I have the book that I will use in the future. Too bad I have lost forever the things in The Cold Dish. But it is NOT too late for YOU.

I liked the Walt Longmire series so well that I went to one of my favorite websites, . Then I went to What's Next and found the list of books by Craig Johnson and ordered the next two in the series from our local library. I love the internet!

Craig Johnson is sort of like a mix of Tony Hillerman and C J Box. This series is about a fifty something sheriff in Absaroka County in Wyoming. There is the intense wilderness experiences and dogged determination by law enforcement personnel you get with C J Box and the Indian life and mysticism that Tony Hillerman wrote so well. And don't forget the absolute wonderful, witty and funny parts that I would quote for you if I had bought a new journal a week ago!

I would recommend this book to anyone that likes to read Westerns, Mysteries or Police Procedural. I have only read the first in the Walt Longmire series, so I'll let you know how it holds up over time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is An Hour A Day Too Much?

So that is the question. You wouldn't think an hour a day would be too much work even for a person that has been mostly sedentary all winter. Nonetheless, I am sore.

I have had it on my list to trim the drive for sometime now. That doesn't sound like a big chore, but our drive is 1/3 of a mile long. A good bit of it is mowed or bush hogged. The rest is cleared by us. Lee isn't entirely convinced it needs to be done. His theory is that we will have to do it again in a few months. This is true, but we have to vacuum every week and I still find that important!

So I usually do the work, but today I asked for assistance and Lee agreed. I got out the trimmer and the two charged batteries. It claims to work for an hour on one charge, but I cut a lot of thick stuff and need the extra battery. We also took a long handle lopper and the chain saw.

There is some kind of vine that grows up trees and wraps around the trunk and as the tree grows, it chokes it. I hate them and try to keep them off the trees. I trim around the base, but they keep coming back and sometimes I don't get them off in time. I usually quote Martin Luther King while doing this. You know, "Free at last..." I picture the trees taking deep breaths and thanking me. These are the things my brain does to me when working....

We also like to keep the trees thin enough that they can grow to their full height and not grow into each other. I like to think that if we can get a bunch of mature trees, they will shade the ground under them and keep the rest of the stuff away. At least this is my working hypothesis and my fervent hope. I can't do this work forever!

We ALWAYS cut locusts. They have thorns that can get to be over an inch long. They are a pain and we cut them when we can.

Lee had the chain saw and I had the trimmer. We worked our way along the slope. We can't go up too high. It is impractical to clear every spot on 60 acres. But we go up about 10 to 15 feet or so. We try to clear any trees that we see getting choked.

After about an hour the two batteries were done and so was I. We had all run out of energy. I figure another day/hour on the one side and then 2 days or so of an hour each for the other side and we are done until late summer. I like to break it up for me and also the trimmer does a great job and is lighter than a weed eater and certainly easier to start! So when the two batteries are done I get to quit for the day! And this is the next section to do.

When we drove back to the garage, I was planning on going inside and doing something sedentary. Then I saw the weeds. Now I MEANT to weed the garden before winter. And then I meant to do it during winter. But I let it go so far that ordinary weeding wasn't going to cut it. It was time for the big guns....Round Up. This is my time honored, yet not recommended approach to the backbreaking labor of weeding. Carefully apply the Round Up to the weeds, avoiding the plants you want to keep and go inside until they die. Then you can rake the weed carcasses out of the garden. All done while standing up!

I had even gone to the effort of getting out the stuff and rereading the label to determine how to dilute it for the sprayer. It said it was supposed to be used on a warm day. Well, it was winter and not warm. Clear and bright, but not warm. Guess I better wait.

So now it is warm and clear and I am already in my grubby clothes. Shoot. No more excuses. So I filled up the heavy sprayer and went to work. Twice. And still I didn't get to everything.

We have a garden off our basement. It has the potential to be great. It has a ring of beautiful Dogwoods and we planted two cherry trees. The soil isn't great because of the way the basement was dug out. I have plans for it, but we are getting ready to finish the basement, so I expect a lot of equipment and footsteps will be tramping through there, so I decided to let it go for now. I DID manage to spray around the fruit trees and the vegetable garden area and I got the landscaped area around the house.

So THEN I went in and became a slug. And now I'm sore. But I still intend to get back out tomorrow to at least finish the one side. Because an hour a day working outside on a beautiful spring morning is NOT too much.

Lee on the other hand didn't rest and went and fixed the tractor. And then I took this picture of the Red Buds in bloom in our woods. Not a bad view. It was worth the two hours worked and I have to remember to stop and be grateful now and then.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dae Dong Tractor

The fields are greening up faster than ever. Probably because it never got super cold this winter. We expect a good hay crop this year. Lee took the tractor out to try to scrape the area we are preparing for blueberries.

Our big orange tractor is a Dae Dong. And I mean that in a nice way. Just know that I think the company has since been named Kioti. We live just up the hill from a John Deere dealer and would have us a big green tractor, but that green paint is mighty expensive, so we don't.

The tractor steering arm broke while working the "blueberry patch". This had happened once before, so Lee knew where to order the part. He also knew that working in the field was an unpleasant way to work on equipment. Especially when you realize the tool you need is in the shop. So he decided to drive the tractor to the shop.

Of course, driving was the issue. When he told me how he got the tractor moved I was very impressed. It reminded me of pilots landing an airplane with no ailerons. Practically heroic.

First he tied the front wheels together going straight. Then he dropped the front loader and the back scraper. No it doesn't scrape your back. It is a road scraper that you drag behind the tractor.

Then Lee backed the tractor around the house and up into the shop. It seems he used the individual brakes to slow or stop one or the other of the rear wheels. Pretty smart, huh?

The question is, how did it break? He was scraping our blueberry patch to smooth it out. It was a straight shot and level. It must have been stressed and ready to break doing anything. I am sure glad it didn't happen on a slope. Lee's pretty handy to have around and I would hate to lose my tractor mechanic!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Cards

I went to Jo-Ann's fabric store with friends to buy fabric for the new quilt we are doing. It always amazes me how we each have the same instructions for fabric and everyone follows them, yet the choices are so different. This makes it fun, I think. While there, I went a bit crazy and bought some lace and ribbons and buttons for card making. I have bought too much stuff, yet not enough to do all the things I see in the books and magazines. I keep telling myself I have to stop and use what I have, but then I go to another store and wander the shelves and something pops up at me. I guess it's cheaper than some having horses, for instance!

While soaking the new fabric for colorfastness, I made a few cards. I have a bunch of books on card making that have to go back to the library. I want to make something while they are still available, and I just bought way more clear stamps than I need. I am experimenting with the clear stamps. They are a lot easier to store because they have no wooden backing. You just peel and stick them to a clear block. They are a lot easier to use because you can see where you are placing them. The problem is I am not very creative and need other peeps to do the thinking. I will probably have to take a class to learn new techniques and get new ideas.

I made a "fancy" Thank You card for which I have no intended recipient. I like to have a bunch of cards made before I need them. I also played around with a few Easter Cards using Fun Flock for fuzziness.

Thank You Card

First I made a few flowers by stamping some clear flower stamps on different colored card stock. Then I used different colored embossing powder. I tried white, gold and pewter because the flowers were stamped on pastel paper. I cut them with scissors and then an Exacto blade.

I cut out some flowered paper (something I MIGHT buy more of if I see it) to fit on some white paper for stamping.

I actually sewed the tiny buttons in the middle of the flowers that I liked best for the paper. I probably could have glued them, but I sewed them and it worked.

I stamped one of my new clear stamps that said Thank You and had lots of curlicues. I picked the one that I used with black embossing powder, cut it out and glued it on a bit of mottled pink card stock that I cut a bit larger.

I used some of the lace I just bought and a bit of left over lavender ribbon from another long forgotten project and played around with how I would place them. Then I glued the whole thing up and decided I liked it. It's not magazine worthy, but I think it would be appreciated.

Now I have to wait for someone to do something really GLORIOUS for me. This isn't the kind of card you give someone for just any old thing!!!!

Happy Easter

I got this Easter stamp on sale at Michael's for $1. I guess it was too close to Easter to be sure they would sell it and so it went on sale. It was cute and had simple lines. I was going to just color it with pastel markers or watercolor pencils, but I had some white Fun Flock and then found some yellow flocking when I was in California.

My liquid glue isn't the best, but I put it where the fur or feathers would be for the rabbit or the chick. Then I sprinkled the yellow flocking for the chick and the white flocking for the rabbit.

It MOSTLY stuck, although it was a bit thin for my taste. I will try again with better glue. The stuff I have is kind of watery and a thicker glue might hold more flock. I colored the egg cups. I used some special scissors to make the edge and then colored with a marker to emphasize the edge.

When I get different glue I may retry it. I would like to try with some embellishments I got with the clear stamp order. It is still cute and I'm not unhappy with it. AND I still have the cute stamp for many Easter's to come. For $1!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Philadelphia Cooking Creme

I spent the morning shopping for fabric for a new quilt. My friend Jackie has a niece that designed a quilt and is giving classes in making it. It sounded fun, so I agreed and took the list of fabrics to Trinity Schoolhouse Quilt Shop. I bought a few of the colors I needed and will go shopping with the "girls" tomorrow to get the rest. ( I STILL think of us as girls, but girls must think of us as old ladies. Isn't THAT crappy?)

I needed light, medium and dark in red, blue, green and orange. I like what I picked so far, but if I find something better tomorrow I will just keep one of these for another project. I don't want to do too much of that , though. I hear about people that have huge fabric caches (Hello, Doris?) and don't want to go there. Buy and use is my motto.

So I soaked them all to make sure they were colorfast and then dried and ironed them. Now they are ready for a trip to another fabric store to find the rest of the quilt.

We obviously EAT every day, but I don't post what we eat every day. Sometimes it is leftovers from the day before and sometimes it is cereal or scrambled eggs. When it is something new I post it. I found that I had repeated myself on a post so now I keep a Master List of all recipes so I don't do that again. Today we tried something new. I saw the Cooking Creme in the store and decided to give it a whirl. Here is my take on the recipe on the container.

Chicken Enchiladas with Philadelphia Cooking Creme

1 cup chopped onion
ground cumin
chili powder
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast. I used frozen, cooked strips.
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup mixed shredded cheese. I used Cheddar and Monterrey Jack
1 pot of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Santa Fe Blend
Whole Wheat Tortillas
green onion

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray Pam on a 13X9 baking dish.

Heat the EVOO in a large frying pan and add the onions. Thaw the chicken strips in the microwave and chop. Add to the onions. Now to me, Mexican food needs cumin and chili powder, so I added a bit to the onion and chicken mixture. I just sprinkled it on but if you NEED to know amounts, say 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each.

Add the drained tomatoes, cheese and 3/4 of the Cooking Creme and mix thoroughly.

We found some high fiber whole wheat tortillas. They were the burrito size. If you like the smaller ones, then you need 6. We used 4 of the big ones.

Spoon the chicken mixture into the center of the tortillas. It was kind of soupy so I tried to leave some of the liquid in the pan.

Fold the tortilla over and then roll the whole thing up and place it seam down in the prepared dish.

The reserved Cooking Creme is a little thick for spreading, so I added it to the reserved liquid in the pan and heated it for a bit. Then all the rest of the Creme was spread on top of the rolled tortillas. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

While it is cooking chop the cilantro and the green onions. I made a MADE a salad, I mean I dumped some lettuce from a bag o' salad and added some onions and cheese. Then when I chopped the cilantro and the green onions, I added some of that, too.

When I took the enchiladas out of the the oven I added the cilantro and the green onions. I served them with the salad and some watermelon. I like the small, seedless, round watermelons. They are super sweet right now. They are just right for the two of us and will last for two meals.

The enchiladas were kind of big for the plate, so I cut them in half to serve. And now we have leftover Enchiladas and Watermelon for tomorrow! I like the whole cook once, eat twice concept!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Picture Progress

Lee was the library courier for the day and so after working on the binding for the quilt, I went to the barn to clean up the horses and get some pictures for the advertisements I want to place.

Horses get very fuzzy in the winter and I wanted to shed their coats a bit and try for some good pictures. I am hoping the crummy camera won't capture all the fuzzy I missed! If it stays as warm as today, they will be mostly shed in a week or so. The hotter they get the quicker the hair comes off.

While I worked on Claire, I let Libby run around and eat the fresh green grass. They have been in their pasture so much that there is not much left in the way of new green grass coming through. Letting them eat some of the new grass is also a way to slowly let them become accustomed to the richness. Horses can founder and become lame after a winter of little or no grass and only hay and then too much of the rich new stuff. So I like to introduce them to it gradually. A few hours here and there should do it.

It was time to "poison" the horses, so while I had the horses tied up I gave them their bi-monthly worming medicine and some Equi-Spot to keep the flies away. We didn't have any flies last week and now there are plenty!

Claire had so much loose hair on her chest, that I brought a chair over in front of the cross ties to sit on while I pulled off all the loose stuff. She raised her head up and put her nose in the air. It must have felt like getting the itchy spot on your back scratched with just the right pressure! Now she is kind of two toned, so I don't think she looks her best. They both need baths, but it isn't quite warm enough yet.

When I was brushing and dosing Claire, Lee came down the hill to help. It was a good thing because I needed some one to hold the dog and help get the pictures! The dog was so obnoxious we had to tie him up. Chasing horses is too much fun to listen to us. Lee held the horses while I took pictures and vice versa. These pictures are what we ended up with. I think these last two are the best, but I will try to get more when they have shed out and we can get better ones.