More Ice

Posted February 19, 2019 By Ruth

Sunday wasn’t especially warm, but it was sunny, and as a result we were able to clear the driveway of ice.  The sun warming the black pavement enough to pop the ice loose and break it up.

For some strange and unknowable reason my shoulders and elbows hurt now.

My own personal ice skating rink in my backyard.  Near the black drainage pipe its only a couple inches deep, but out in the middle of that is the drainage ditch between us and our northern neighbor, and that is full of ice, at least 2 feet deep.  Yay.

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Why do people insist on feeding the coyotes??

Posted February 13, 2019 By Ruth

I’ve griped about neighbor cats before on here.

The most recently griped about cats are no longer around.  One of the two disappeared, and the owners moved (and took the remaining one with them) back September-ish (I see I never posted about that, oh well).  When that cat was gone the neighborhood cats that had been coming around to visit them stopped coming around, it was a huge relief.  In addition, though we saw a dog when those folks were moving in, we haven’t seen it since, so I’m thinking it belonged to someone who was helping them.

Then, we started seeing a new cat.  I went back and checked the trail cam photos and he showed up on the trail cams just before the one across the street moved out, though I didn’t see him in person till a few weeks later.  Black and white tuxedo.  And by gawd F.A.T. fat.  Like, can barely walk fat.  Seriously.  When I first saw him in person I thought he was injured because he was walking so weird, it wasn’t until I’d seen him a few times that I realized he wasn’t injured, he was just that fat.   And I swear he’s getting fatter and fatter.  He’s definitely not getting any thinner.  This is an owned cat, there’s no way this cat is maintaining that level of pudge on a diet of mice.  Assuming he can even catch mice, I have my doubts, he’s that fat.  I’ve seen him waddle down our yard and off our back line more than once.  No clue how he hasn’t become a meal for someone yet.  I figure it’s a matter of time.

All of which is bad enough.  But as winter set in we started seeing cat tracks not only around the carport (again), but also around and under the porch.  And the dogs suddenly REALLY wanted under the porch.  It wasn’t until I started getting a whiff of cat pee every time I opened the front door that I realized what was happening.

He (or she) had decided my concrete patio was his litter box.  A sprinkle of cayenne powder around the area just pushed him into using the driveway instead.  When the snow melted in the recent thaw we found deposits of cat poo all around the driveway.

How this cat hasn’t already become a coyote meal I have no clue, but it’s just a matter of time.  There’s no way he could run away or climb a tree fast enough to escape one.  I checked, and my local shelter accepts “stray cats” though it’ll cost me $25 to drop him off.  So I’ve borrowed a live trap, maybe if they have to pay to get their cat out of hock they’ll think twice about letting him run loose……

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Ice

Posted February 13, 2019 By Ruth

Woke up this morning to upwards of a 1/2″ of ice on everything

 

Which of course had been covered by a decent layer of wet snow.  Be carefull out there folks!

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Lesson Learned

Posted January 30, 2019 By Ruth

Shoulda learned it a while back I guess.  But yah, thats life.

Basically all images have been removed from the blog.  All new images will go up with watermarks.  I found a plug in that would allow me to retrospectively add watermarks to images, but it proved to be more annoying than just deleting them.

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Home Made Hot Sauce

Posted January 28, 2019 By Ruth

As my supply of home grown hot peppers has grown so has the things that I’ve made out of them.  Husband likes Franks Red Hot sauce, so I’ve played around with home made versions of it using the home grown peppers, usually whatever peppers I have, which makes for a fair bit of variation in flavor.  I’m not interested in playing around with the fermented sauces, but the home grown red ripe peppers make for some nice flavors anyway.

This past summer of course I grew Cayennes, so this year I did up actual Cayenne based hot sauce for him.

A note on making hot sauces.  There are alot of recipes out there that make me cringe.  And alot of home hot sauce makers who have no understanding of what makes things safely shelf stable.  The good news for those folks is that botulism is rare.  The bad news for those folks is that if they get unlucky some day they’re going to end up either dead or crippled for life.  Before you decide to follow some random hot sauce recipe you found online please make sure you understand how acidity protects you from botulism, and how to tell if your sauce is acidic enough.  I can do that whole rant if need be, and if you all reading this actually want it, but I won’t in this post.

This recipe is a modification of the hot pepper jelly recipe that I use and that I know is plenty acidic and thus safe to play with.

If you have pets, or if any of the humans in the house aren’t a fan of hot things, turn on the vent fan before you start doing anything.  Also, I highly recommend gloves for handling the peppers, and even if you wear gloves do yourself a favor and wash your hands with LOTS of Dawn dish soap BEFORE using the bathroom or touching your face.

1 pound of red ripe Cayenne peppers

2 cups of white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

rough chop the peppers and add to sauce pan with the vinegar.  Heat up, and then puree with the stick blender.  Puree to your choice of texture, commercial sauces are often mashed through a fine strainer after pureeing to remove the seeds and larger bits, I don’t bother, but if you prefer a smoother sauce you’ll want to do this.  Add salt and garlic powder.  Simmer down to the consistency you want.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Pour into hot 1/2 pint jars and water bath for 10 minutes.  This made up 3 jars worth of sauce.  It also smells absolutely wonderful, even to me who doesn’t care for hot things.

I’ll note, if you don’t want to water bath it, and just want something for the fridge or freezer, this’ll keep for extended periods of time in the fridge just fine.

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Mandarin Orange Jam

Posted January 27, 2019 By Ruth

I’ve been on a citrus kick lately.  But Husband isn’t a fan.  And I struggle to finish a package of oranges or the like before they start to go off.  The solution of course is to buy them individually, but that costs more.  Not to mention that my favorite citrus are seasonal.

In the meantime, I belong to a couple different canning/preserving groups on Facebook, and people were talking about doing marmalades, and mixed fruit jams and jellies.  So I had a thought.  Poked around at a couple orange jelly recipes, but wasn’t entirely enthused with what I was seeing.  So, armed with the knowledge that oranges are nicely acidic and so I can basically do whatever I want so long as I don’t add anything low acid, I went to the store for oranges.

8 large mandarin oranges

1 cup of commercial orange juice.

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

a splash of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of Ball’s low/no sugar pectin

Sliced the ends off of the oranges, deep enough that I saw flesh and not white skin.  Peeled them, and then used a sharp knife to slice off the white pith/skin.  Broke them open, sliced off the interior pith (that white pith can be bitter, you really want as much of it as physically possible removed).  Cut them into chunks, removed any particularly loose skin pieces but wasn’t OCD about it.  Used a potato masher to break up the chunks a bit.  Eyeballed the mass in the sauce pan, and added 1 cup of juice.  Next time I’ll just buy a couple more oranges instead, but it works for now.

Added the rest of the ingredients.  Brought to a strong boil for 1 minute per pectin instructions.  Jarred up (this made exactly six 1/2 pint jars), and water bath processed for 10 minutes.

I licked my stirring spoon while the mixture was heating and the vanilla came through nicely, but I can’t taste it at all in the finished jam.  In retrospect I should have added it at the end of the boil instead of before, and I might add a bit more too next time.  Also, store bought juice has always had a slightly odd undertaste to it, and that come through in the jam.  But otherwise I’m delighted with how this turned out.  Its a nice loose set jam, not overly sweet, and I totally ate the first jar with a spoon the next morning.

I’ll be buying a bunch more mandarin oranges this week so I can do a couple more batches!

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Breakfast food

Posted January 12, 2019 By Ruth

Several years ago, before I got married (possibly even before we started dating?), I picked up a pair of these small cast iron pans.  They’re tiny, but perfect for single servings of a variety of things.

More recently I’ve used them for baking of smaller free form loaves of bread on occasion.  But otherwise they haven’t gotten much use since my husband joined the household.

Not to long ago, wanting something hearty for breakfast but not wanting to actually put alot of effort into it, I had an idea.

Two eggs scrambled up in a bowl, with a dash of onion powder, a sprinkle of pepper, and a hearty dash of garlic powder.  Add a pinch of grated asiago cheese, a dash of grated parmesan cheese, and a healthy handful of grated cheddar.  If I have them in the house I’ll frequently fine chop a small red potato into the mix too.

Get one of the little cast iron pans hot, slather with a thick slab of butter (even in a well seasoned pan the eggs will tend to stick a bit once you add this much cheese to the mix, use more butter), turn the burner down to just above low.  Pour in the egg mixture, it’ll do a good job at filling the little pan.  Let cook till the edges are solid.  Carefully flip, the liquid center will tend to pour out into the pan, thats fine.  Continue to cook till the bottom side is done to your taste (I tend to prefer a bit of browning, but some folks prefer their eggs less done, go with what works for you).  Place on a slice of homemade bread toast (though I have to say, it also goes REALLY well on commercially purchased Texas Toast, you may want to go light on the added seasonings if you’re going this route) with more grated cheddar.

It’s a very filling meal in a fairly short period of time.  I call it my “omlet thing”, to the amusement of my husband.  I forgot, again, to get a photo, so you’re going to have to do with my description.

5 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Garden planning

Posted January 11, 2019 By Ruth

Last year, knowing I had surgery coming, I bought most of my seeds way in advance, and I got a fair bit of the location planning done early.  This year I’m way behind, having only just ordered seeds.

There was one breed of hot peppers I’d wanted to try last year, but none of my regular sources carried them.  I was able to find them elsewhere, but was reluctant to pay yet another shipping charge, plus I realized I was already going to have a full garden.  This year I have ordered a few different varieties of Capsicum pubescens peppers to try.  Sometimes called Manzano or Rocoto peppers, they have black seeds, tend to be thicker walled, and are more cold tolerant than pretty much every other type of pepper.  I have five varieties arriving to try this year.

I’m also going to try more varieties of melon again this year.  There are several smaller, short season, varieties that keep catching my eye in the seed catalogs, so I’m going to try some new ones again this year.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to grow cucumbers this year or not, might come down to what I have for space.

Lots of tomatoes again though.

I’d been thinking on growing celery from the root of a store purchased bunch, but while scanning seed catalogs I discovered that there are pink/red celery varieties.  So now I’m going to grow celery from seeds, cause its pink!  (Have I mentioned seed catalogs are evil?!)

I also couldn’t resist the Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds.

In other news, I spent way to much on seeds this year…..

I also have a head start on a more permanent greenhouse.  My employer received several new fixtures in a 6’x6’x6′ wooden crate.  After several other employees asked what the plans were for the crate my employer decided to raffle it off (funds from the raffle went to the employee fun fund).  And I somehow won the thing.  I sealed it with deck sealer, since it isn’t made of pressure treated or other weather resistant wood.  Now I just have to cut out windows, buy clear corrugated roofing panels to cover it with, figure out how to move it to where in the yard I want it, cut a proper door (one whole side swings open, which is cool, but not great for heat retention), get it set up……probably not happening in time for this spring, but hopefully next year!

3 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

2018 in review

Posted December 29, 2018 By Ruth

I don’t normally do the whole year in review thing, but sometimes it’s warranted.

Of course, I go to type this post, and discover that WordPress’s latest update has screwed with the Create A Post page, massively, and I hate it. Thanks WordPress for reminding me why I hate software updates.

So, I started out 2018 with major abdominal surgery. Everything has healed beautifully, and I’m long since back to work. Oddly enough I’ve STILL not noticed any major changes. The surgeon was positive that I’d notice all sorts of changes after the cyst was removed, but honestly, nope. Which is all kinds of scary actually, but I’ll take what I can get.

Then we discovered that Shadow is an asshole when it comes to food. But for all the frustration involved we’ve managed to trim his weight by almost 4lbs, so it’s worth it. Even if he doesn’t agree.

We had our first successful Bluebird hatching in years.

Somewhere, May-ish I started having some issues with my left knee again. I injured it in high school, playing soccer, and ended up having to have a lateral release done on it in college due to the same injury, so its not the strongest joint ever, but it doesn’t usually give me huge issues at work as long as I’m reasonably careful about my lifting form and not being stupid when carrying things upstairs. I ended up wearing a soft brace for work all summer, and finally went in to see the doctor, who sent me to an ortho specialist. Ortho says there doesn’t appear to be anything new wrong with it. His theory is that I got far enough out of condition out I was out of work for surgery and I didn’t work it back up correctly. So we’re working through some physical therapy to see if that’ll help. It seems to be, so cross your fingers.

June-ish I started having bouts of insomnia. I’ve always been a restless sleeper, but I don’t normally have huge issues with insomnia. I worked my way through the normal things, no caffeine with lunch or later, melatonin, Tylenol PM, with no real success. I was sleeping worse and worse and waking up with a headache more and more often. At the same appointment with my doctor about my knee I also discussed the insomnia problem with her. Turns out I’m borderline for all the base checks to possibly need a CPAP machine, so she put in a referral to get a sleep study done. She also prescribed a small dose of Trazodone to see if that would help me sleep. Not so much unfortunately, it gave me hot flashes and nausea. Fortunately at least some of the insomnia has gone away on its own. In the mean time the initial sleep test found that I absolutely need a CPAP, oxygen saturation in the low 80’s (it should be 90 or higher), and apparently I stopped breathing some 40+ times per hour. Yay. I go back to be fitted for the CPAP in another couple weeks.

The garden was fun this year. The Gagon cucumbers ended up making stellar pickles, nice and crisp without any extra work from me. I need to sit down and figure out what seeds I want to order for this coming summer.

The podiatrist was unable to find a cause for the ingrown toenail, my follow up with him is in another week.

Arty turned 7 years old in November, and Apollo turned 8 in December. Good lord, where did the time go??

Edited to add: I had a birthday too (duh, I know) and I guess I need to go modify the bio portion of the about me page, cause I can no longer claim to be a “30 something”. Oh well.

3 Comments so far. Join the Conversation

Catching up

Posted December 3, 2018 By Ruth

Syracuse NY broke records in November.  Coldest November in 85 years, average temp for the month was 34.5f.  First November on record to have a low temp below zero, the low on Black Friday was -1f.  Total snowfall for the month was 22.8 inches, more than double the average, putting us at 6th snowiest November on record.  Snowiest November 16th ever, with 8.2 inches recorded having fallen, more than twice the previous record.

And thats not mentioning the rain, if the rain had fallen as snow we’d have blown the snowfall totals out of the water.  On the other hand, the rain keeps washing away the snow thats fallen already, and thats not a bad thing.

My work has been busy as hell.  Between normal Christmas season craziness, and the snow fall, my department has managed sales well over our sales goals.  Everyone wants a new snowblower this year, we’re struggling to keep the popular models in stock, but even the biggest one in store (priced $1699) is selling regularly.

So whats the company doing?  They’re slashing hours of course.  Normally as a part time employee I have 20 or so hours (or more) through New Years.  By mid-January my hours have usually dropped to 1 or 2 days a week, both usually being short days, as our slow season gets going, that tends to last through mid-March-ish when spring starts to pick up.  This year they’ve slashed hours early and that schedule is apparently starting in mid-December.  So if you’re in a Home Depot in the middle of December, and you can’t find an employee to help you, please make sure you fill out the survey on your receipt and let corporate know what you think of their “cost saving measure” of slashing hours!