Friday, October 31, 2014

Pumpkin Banana Bread

It is Fall and you see pumpkins every where you go.  I decided to make something with canned pumpkin, but I didn't want to do the same old thing.

So I decided on ...

Pumpkin Banana Bread

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed, ripe bananas, about 2 bananas
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal, optional
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cloves and allspice
1 or 2 Tablespoons chopped, candied ginger, optional


Heat the oven to 350°.  Spray a loaf pan with Pam.  Set aside.

The next part is best with a stand mixer.  Beat the butter until it is softened and a light yellow.  Add the sugar and continue beating.  Then add the eggs. 


After everything is mixed add the bananas, pumpkin and vanilla.


While things are mixing, sift together the flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices into a medium bowl.  The flaxseed did not sift well, so I just dumped it on top.  I added the flaxseed for the fiber.  It is optional for you.


I used 1 Tablespoon of the chopped candied ginger and really like the pop of heat, so I will use 2 Tablespoons next time.


Add the flour mixture in two batches and beat until just mixed. 

If you like nuts, you may add 1/2 cup of them, but I wanted to eat a few slices and then needed to slice it thinly the next day, so I left out the nuts.


Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to make sure it is done.  Mine looked done long before it was.

Cool for about 5 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool at least another 15 minutes before slicing.

I liked this bread.  It was a little bit pumpkin and a little bit gingerbread with the moistness of banana bread.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Holding Off The Inevitable

We recently bought some new furniture.  The old furniture had been scratched by our cats one too many THOUSAND too many times.

Our plan of using Sticky Paws and multiple scratching posts is working.  SO far...


But what about cat hair, you ask?  Are you able to wear black pants again?


Of course not.  But I did come up with a solution of sorts.  I found some cloth furniture covers that were not too hideous.



Yes. I do remember people that had plastic furniture covers and runners in their houses.

Hopefully these look OK.


The loveseat has double recliners and a console in the middle.  The seat cover would not fit and it would not be possible to recline on one side with the stationary middle.


My solution was to cut the cover up the middle and then do an overlock stitch to finish the cut edge.


Now we have covers for all three pieces.  It looks OK.  But the best part is that these covers are washable and it will be easy to whisk the covers away when we have guests and they will be able to sit on not-quite-as-hairy seats.


You know, for when the queen visits.  But, somehow, I think she will understand.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Time For The Dining Room

Usually we serve the bed and breakfast guests on the screen porch.  But the mornings are getting colder.  We have been serving in the dining room on cold mornings.


I have blocked the dates where we can be booked for the B&B around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that we can accommodate family.  I also blocked the first two months of the year.  I worry about guests trying to make it up the driveway on a snowy day.  And trying to keep the walkways clear.


So we only have a few more weeks where we will take guests this year and we will start up again in March.  Spring is gorgeous here.  And we can serve breakfast on the screen porch again.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting Ready

The last of the grass on our property has been cut for hay.  It hasn't all been baled, yet.  I expect it will be done soon. 


Lee cut the rest of the areas that we keep cleared, the narrow trails and the super steep parts.  He won't cut them again until Spring.


Then he switched out the bush hog for the scraper.


All ready for snow.

Yes, I know.  That might not happen for months.  But you don't want to wait for 30 degree weather to switch out equipment.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Is this sad or pitiful?

Lee left for an errand.  He left RJ here.


I am up in the office on the computer and RJ is staring mournfully out the window.

Waiting for Lee. 

I do not count.  Lee left and I am here.  RJ stares out the window sadly until Lee returns.


What am I, chopped liver?  Oh, wait.  He would love it, and ME, if I was chopped liver.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall 2014

The trees are turning colors.

Some trees have lost all their leaves.  The last of the hay is getting cut and baled.


The days are getting colder.  It was 45 this morning when we got up.


But recent guests still managed to bundle up and enjoy the sunrise.  I admire their intrepid spirit.  From inside.  With the heater on.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Cooking With Wood

We recently returned from a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. I must say, I spent more time enjoying the free things rather than the ones you have to pay to see.

That being said, I have a hard time going in to the shops and not buying something.  The shopkeepers are dressed in period clothes and try not to answer questions about cell phones and cars, that kind of thing.  They do take  a "letter of credit"  from Miss VISA, however!

I found a couple of wooden utensils that looked great. 


The lemon juicer was probably from China, but the pie server was from a nearby state.  It had a finish on it that disappeared when I got home and washed them.  They were sanded, but not as smooth as I wanted.

I got some 220 grit sand paper and sanded them a bit, paying particular attention to the handles.  I also spent some time on the pie server, thinking it might help thing slide off more easily.  I didn't even attempt to sand the ridges of the lemon juicer.


Next I put several coats of Mineral Oil on them.  I once again ignored the ridges of the lemon juicer.  The bottle of Mineral Oil suggested 3 or 4 coats.  I used a rag to rub in a liberal amount for each coat. Then I wiped it dry after 20 minutes.  I let it sit for several hours between each coat.  I kept recoating the pieces until they seemed  less interested in absorbing more know, they looked away and wanted to watch TV instead!

I gave them a final polish with a clean, dry rag and they are ready for my kitchen drawer.

I like the scoop on the pie server and intend to try it the next time I serve a frittata for my B&B guests.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Long Drive For Some Gingerbread

We recently had out of town guests.  As a Bed and Breakfast, we regularly have out of town guests, but these guests were family.  We had taken them to most of the local attractions over the previous visits, so this time we took them to Williamsburg.

Williamsburg is about a 3 to 4 hour drive, so we went for a few days.  Naturally, we had to stay in a B&B.  If you have a B&B, you try to stay in them when you travel.  Not only are the breakfasts usually better than the food you get in a hotel, but you can get ideas for your own business.  OOOH.  Does this mean this trip is a write off??  I sure hope so!

We stayed in the Newport House in Williamsburg.  The house is built from historical architectural plans back in know, except for the bathrooms, electrical, etc.  The rooms were furnished with reproduction pieces from the period.  The hosts also use the second floor for a ballroom and hold Colonial Dances there.  Guests dress up in period costumes, available for rent, and dance away.


The host is a former museum director and designer of historic ships, including those used in movies.  As he serves you meal, he gives you a history lesson on Williamsburg or other local historic sights.  He is quite the story teller and even uses appropriate accents.  Bed and Breakfast guests are generally outgoing people and usually like to chat with the hosts about local points of interest.  If you want to pound down coffee in peace and quiet, this is not the place for you. 

The Newport House is a short walk to Colonial Williamsburg.  I was having back problems, so we parked a bit closer and then walked.  I had purchased tickets for the tour in years past, so I opted to just walk around and see the sights.  Also, standing to listen to the re-enactors with a crowd in a small room would not be an option with current said back problem. 


I always love a horse drawn carriage.  That would have been my ideal job, back in the day.  If I could pass for a man and if the weather was always as beautiful as it was in Williamsburg this Fall.


 The gardens are fun to observe. 


I would love a formal garden, if I had a formal gardener.


As a Botetourt County resident, I had to take a picture of Botetourt Street.  Same Lord Botetourt, different part of the Commonwealth.


The last time we visited Williamsburg it was summer and so hot, humid and crowded.  This visit was in the Fall, so school was in session, and it was a Monday.  What a difference. 


The main place I wanted to see was the Raleigh Tavern Bakery.  They make the best gingerbread there.  I have purchased their recipe book, but they must have left something out or changed something.  Mine are good but theirs are better.


So I walked almost to the end of Duke of Gloucester street and went in the bakery.  I bought a box of individually wrapped gingerbread and a hot cider.

It was worth the drive.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black Dog Salvage

One of the places many of our guests like to visit when in Roanoke is Black Dog Salvage.  I know we went there many times when we moved here and were finishing our house.  Now they have a television show on the DYI Network called Salvage Dawgs.


The television show follows the owners as they travel around and salvage architectural items from old buildings to sell in their Roanoke store.  They also buy and sell items from other sources, in case you have a barn full of things of great value.

Unless you are a medical museum, why would you want an iron lung?  Kind of scary to think about that, isn't it???

They also make one-of-a-kind items out of doors and car parts and other things they salvage.  If you are restoring an old home or trying to build a new home that has old architectural elements, this is the place to find what you need.


They have old doors, windows, shutters, tin ceilings, columns, down to tile soap holders and light fixtures. 


They also have a huge outdoor area with cast iron tubs and iron fencing, among MANY other things.

There is a section of the store with different vendors and it has new and reimagined items.


I like to have a few pieces of yard art.  It is fun to see a bit of a sculpture and then get closer and find something cute, hiding in the bushes.

So many garden sculptures are ugly or tacky.  I hope I made the right choices.

I think they are cute, at any rate.


What's not to like about a kid hugging a bunny and a wee hedgehog?  Now to find the perfect spot...

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Furniture vs Cats

We have two gorgeous and sweet cats we fostered and then adopted from a shelter.  They are much adored by me and liked tolerated by Lee.  That being said, they ARE cats and do cat-type things.  Like scratching furniture.


When we lived in Orange County, California, they were inside cats.  Coyotes are protected there and freely roamed the neighborhood each night.  We got them when they were 2 weeks old and bottle fed them.  I was able to clip their nails and kept the furniture scratching to a minimum.  They had scratching posts.

I don't believe in removing claws from cats.  They have no defenses if they get attacked.  It is not a kind operation or one that will be beneficial to their health, like spaying and neutering.  It involves amputating their fingertips.  A lot of vets won't even do it, unless they are convinced the owner intends to put down or abandon the cat if they don't.


When we moved to the country, we started to allow them out for short periods of time.  I stopped clipping their nails.  I thought they might run into a predator and a bit of bloodletting might save their worthless sweet selves.

We have acres of trees. Yet, they still come in to have a scratch.  Mostly they scratch the scratching posts we have scattered around the house. If we catch them scratching a couch we put them out.  Bad kitty.  Unfortunately, this means we have trained them to scratch the furniture when they want out.  Or that they have trained us, most likely.


After 7 years, I decided it was time to get some furniture that had no rips in the corners.  They were delivered on Tuesday.


I want to keep them longer than 7 years, this time.  I went online and bought something called Sticky Paws.  It is essentially double stick tape for furniture.  You place it on the corners of furniture and when the cats touch it, they don't like the stickiness and go somewhere else.   We also went to Petsmart and bought four new scratching posts, so the something else is a choice selection of scratching posts.  The Sticky Paws need to be replaced when they are no longer sticky.  Until they stop, please, God, the behavior.

Before removing the backing.

Now when I hear scratching, it has only been on the scratching posts.  I quickly run over and hold open the closest door, in case they might want to go out.  I have done this at least 20 times in the last two days.  About one third of the time they go out.  The rest of the time they ignore me or stare at me as though I am crazy.


I am crazy.  I am a trained door opener for spoiled cats...cats that started out life in a dumpster covered in fleas.  I have a college degree.

On the other hand, I have a sister with a Master's Degree, and she has FOUR cats.  And they sleep on her BED.  So I consider myself the saner one in the family.  Not sane, mind you.  But sane-ER.

Animal lovers reading this will run the gamut from thinking I am normal to mean...because the cats don't sleep on the bed.  Normal people are shaking their heads.  All I know is that they haven't scratched the couches in my hearing and I am going to buy a case of Sticky Paws.  And maybe get some stock in the company.