Contact Me

Friday, September 30, 2011

I won; I lost

Huge tote bag

Great Loot
Over at Surviving and Thriving, my long-time (several years, now) favorite writer/blogger, Donna Freedman, had a fantabulous giveaway. I won. The box full of goodies came today, and I see Christmas presents in the flat rate box I just opened. The reusable bag is great, huge and has a zipper on the top, is waterproof (rubbery on inside), and a pocket with a pen place. 

Now, she has a new giveaway. Yay! for giveaways. Join the fun. There is a time-limit on entries.

I did not cause the recent mayhem at her place!

And, I lost... cooked dinner. Yesterday evening, I had a catastrophe. I burned to charcoal the chicken in a cast iron pot! When I came home the house was filled with acrid smoke that still makes my esophagus hurt. I rushed in, turned off the stove and dragged the pot off the burner. The back of the stove was black with soot. The knob above the burner had partially melted. I fled the house, eyes burning, and left the back door wide open and opened a window near the door.

I held cloth over my mouth and nose, trying to open the kitchen window. That's not possible unless I get on a chair so I can get on the sink. Yes, when I was younger, this was a piece of cake and involved no climbing.

The chickens were wailing to be let out of their pen, so I set them free to roam. They tried to follow me to the car.

Finally, I went to the car and ate a piece of cake that had just been given to me. When I had consumed the chocolate, I decided to drive two blocks to the fire station. Chocolate helps me think. When I came back to the house, the chickens I left in the front yard were nowhere to be seen. Uh-oh. No, they are not in the side yard. But, I do see a tail feathers  sticking from the open back door. As I approached the side door, all three chickens looked out the door at me! They really, desperately want to be house chickens!

When I called them out, only Louise came. I had to take a piece of newspaper and sort of shove Thelma and Fancy out of the house. THEN, they hopped right back in. Unbelievably, neither pooped in the house, on the door mat, or on the porch.

It was bedtime for the hens, but I did not want them to die from the acrid fumes that choked me. After delaying as long as I could, I finally put their prepared cage in the doorway. They were so eager. After they had jumped in the cage I lined with paper, I left them in the open doorway for several hours, airing out the house. Thankfully, last evening was one of those rare evenings when neither flies or mosquitoes were out at dusk or after.

After awhile, the smell subsided. NOT! I just came home and the house is nasty smelling. I will set dishes of vinegar all over these rooms.  Then, I will tackle the pot OUTDOORS in grungy clothing.

There is no picture to show you, just a horrendous odor.
Your turn
What have you won or lost lately?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The End

The end of tomatoes and peppers

Its over. This was what I picked off the four tomato plants and the one jalapeno plant. Next year, I will do better. I feel some of these may ripen, but if they don't I will fry them for exbf. Can you see the one little pepper?

I pulled the five plants and threw them in for the hens. They loved the roots and whatever little things they ate. At any rate, they jumped on the root balls.

The box will now become my compost bin and the hens will be allowed in there.

Your Turn
Have you picked the last of your garden?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lap Chicken and Predator

Not the same as a lap dance.
Fancy is talking continually while she is in my lap.

As I sat down outside to take a picture of my modest, but free harvest of eggs and Roma tomatoes, Fancy jumped right on my lap. I would say she is getting to be a bit familiar. I had to lean back to get these shots.  She leaned in a bit to look straight into the camera, but I did not capture the moment.  She gets no food at any of the tables because I do not want hens on tables when I eat.

"Just make me an omelet, please"
"I'm out of here, bwak."

Did I tell you I am allergic to feathers? I am! Okay. there go allergens all over me!

At one point Fancy was examining the old, tattered, paint-stained t-shirt I have on. I am silently screaming.
~~~Noooo, those are paint specks, not food. Please don't peck my chest! 

Some of these tomatoes fell off the plants as I touched them.
This is sort of a journal of what I get from the garden. All along,  I would get a jalapeno pepper once in a great while, so the two I posted are just a small amount of what I did get. You can tell there is no styling going on with that tomato oddly sitting on end. Today, once again, this could have been one meal.

Several nights ago as I came in well after dark, I saw and heard something move to my right as I came up the back steps. The hair on my neck and arms stood up. As I whirled, I caught site of an animal in a blur in the dark, and back legs disappearing through the window under the house. This filled me with dread since I thought the raccoon might be back. Several minutes later, while the door was unlocked, I looked back and could see an animal looking at me from under the house. It appeared to be a half-grown cat, black with white on the face and chest.

Late this evening toward dusk, as I went out with a nice, cooked, evening meal for the hens, consisting  of two eggs, scrambled with powdered milk and corn meal mixed in, this cat was at the back door again. This time, it was a few feet from the hens. I don't know if the cat was planning to pounce. When I first glimpsed it tonight, the hens were rushing toward it in an attempt to get to the meal in my hands, seemingly oblivious of the cat's presence. The cat ran off, either frightened by me or the hens. At any rate, the hens did not seem afraid and were not sounding the "predator" alarm they give. After the hens rushing toward the cat, maybe the cat will think the chickens will attack. Fancy could talk the cat to death.

Your turn
Do your farm animals who are not normally considered lap animals insist on sitting in your lap? Do neighbors' curious cats ever just come to look at your hens, or do they come to eat your hens?


Happy Birthday to my Daughter

She is 36 today, September 27. She is the baby. I think she has clothes on in this picture.
The picture above was taken on a cold, drizzly March day. We went to a Craft Show here in town just before Easter. She was dressed in warm shoes, socks, jeans, and a shirt and sweater. When I saw this cute picture-taking event, I remembered the new outfit I had just bought her, one of her few ever bought pieces of clothing. I went out in the rain, got the bag, and changed her for the photo. All the other kids were placed beside the giant bunny and the photo was snapped. It was a one-shot deal. I said, "Alana, hug the bunny." She did as she was told and this was the precious photo. You know what I love the best?....her precious, curled little toes. Ah, and the slight smile is so cute to me. Other mothers were wishing they had changed their children's clothes.

Alana looks like me in many ways. Okay, I am not a blonde, don't have her voluptuous lips or the Donny and Marie teeth.

She was a week overdue, despite what my doctor said! And, I had a 30 hour labor with her, despite my first having arrived in four hours and the second in two hours. I thought she might just slip right out.

AND, she came breach. If a baby manual ever said anything about what most children do and then what a child occassionaly did, she was the exception. She was also entirely different from the older two. She sucked her thumb, rarely cried and just went with the flow.

She really did not need toys to play. People said she was odd because she just looked closely at tree trunks, examining them on all sides. She took a stick and just poked around in the dirt and grass. I found a shoebox under her bed when she was less than three. She had roly polys, dirt, grass, sticks, and a lid from a kitchen drawer for water. She would just get a bug of any kind and just carry it around.

She did have a ton of toys, mostly from two older siblings. Her bedroom was the formal dining room, right next to the kitchen and den, where I sat just feet from her bedroom.  When I missed a utensil in the kitchen, I only had to go to her bedroom and look in her little Hoosier-style cabinet made for me by my father. Yes, there it was. I asked her the first time why she took the utensil. She said, matter-of-factly, "Because I didn't have one." sign sigh sigh. Who can argue with logic? 

One day, she was playing outdoors when she was almost four. I watched her from the kitchen window. I knew she was trying to climb a 50-yr-old dogwood tree and could see she succeeded. I was washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen and could see and hear her about 40 feet in front of the window. She sang and sang and sang. My mother's heart was glad and bursting with joy because of her joy.

Finally, I noticed as she became louder by the minute that she did not sound happy. I opened the window and could hear her singing, "Come get me. I can't get down. I am stuck in the tree." Horror of horrors, I yelled I was coming and ran right out. She was so upset. I took her out of the tree and she was angry and hurt that I did not come out since she could see my face. I could not see her face through the leaves and at that distance. My mother's heart was so sad because she felt abandoned.

When she was about two or three, I heard our dog yelp. He always stayed right with her, so if he yelped, I wondered what was happening to her. As I went toward the front door to see what happened, she walked in with lots of fur around her mouth. She had bitten the dog. I have forgotten why she said she did it, but I have never had a child bite the dog.

The Terrible Twos was not something that happened with her. I marveled. When she was twenty months, she started tap and ballet. I was the secretary for the dance studio, working for lessons for the older daughter. The dance teacher wanted Alana to attend so she could see what a baby in diapers could learn. Within weeks she could count to eight and knew all the French terms for ballet. Apparently, she learned faster and minded better than the older girls. But, then she became a teenager.

She learned to swim in the baby pool while we waited out swim team practices, playing a game I invented--Swim Team. I said, "On your mark, get set, go" just like the real thing. I did not have a starter gun, so "go" sufficed. Then, I told her, "Stroke," "kick," "get your face in the water." Other children joined in. They all flopped in the foot of water and some learned to swim. One day, she was almost four, playing in  motel pool, and did not realize how close the deep end was. As she slipped under, screaming, and coming up, I yelled the same instructions and she swam to the side. It seems a bunch of nurses were going in to save her. She saved herself. Yes, I would have jumped in if she had not immediately started swimming. At five, she turned her head, breathed, stroked, kicked and I pulled her out. When we returned home, she started jumping from the high dive and swimming to the side, over and over. Several lifeguards took to the pool when they saw her the first time.

Oh, she wanted to learn to sew at 13 when I bought her a sewing machine of her own. When she was 17, she applied for the manager position at Olan Mills. She got the job and really ticked off the guy who was 21 and had worked there for a year....go girl. In college she worked as a clown for children's birthday parties and loved it. I think we laughed at her antics too much when she was a child.

There are baby pictures on a CD, somewhere. There are plenty sitting around here, but not scanned.
FOUND and posted.
I won't go

Oh, she is now a first-grade teacher and loves the job.

Your turn
Isn't it funny the things one finds memorable about each child and can see, looking back, how the baby personality stays the same?  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Feeling Farmer-ish Today

Sunday morning.............
largest daily haul so far
Yes, it is pathetic. But, parsimonious me is proud. I have had better years when more was planted.

The tomato and pepper plants were put in the ground on the 4th of July. I have picked a pepper or two, here and there. Note one hole on the pepper leaves, way up to the top. This is the first bite so far on a pepper plant that I have seen.

ripe Romas--0.25 lb.

Several days ago, I picked a pocketful of green tomatoes that were touching the ground. There had been no rain for a week; four or five days of rain were forecast. Thinking the green tomatoes might rot as they touched the wet ground, I rescued them. They are wrapped in newspaper to store and hopefully they will become green. The dry ear of corn was on its way to the hens, part of what I gleaned.  It feels so farmer-ish to feed corn from the cobs to my hens and gather three things at once, little as it is of each. The hens were happy to see the corn. Of course, I stood there and shelled it for them...sigh...helpless hens because of my doting.

I love the Wedgwood plate I found along with a mate in an antique shop at least 25 years ago.

By the way, I think I have given up on indoor photography. I spend way too long trying to get the color right, retaking pictures, and fiddling with it all when I photograph most things indoors. So, hauling it all outside is really easier in the long run. The photo today was only "enhanced" and cropped. The Kodak Easyshare program has an "enhance" button that lightens the photo sometimes. Or something.

Your turn:
I know you all have a better garden than I do, so how does your garden grow? Have you had success with wrapping green tomatoes in newspaper until they ripen?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yardsale treasures

These treasures, bought cheaply, are the result of several weekend yard sales. I am so thrilled to find a pretty or useful piece for my home or for a gift. There are many things I would like to have, but I dig in my heels is the price is not skinflint cheap. You may think I paid too much for some of these. But, I am frugal and try to stay withing my budget. Nothing here cost more than $1 and never less than $.25. However, multiples can put some pieces at less than a nickle.

$1--Hand-painted dish, 7", signed, bought for a gift, but I will keep this or sell.
2 Kerr pints, 1 Ball jelly jar, not washed yet, quarter each 

Arrow, heavy-duty stapler, $1
This has been a wish of mine for a long time. It is not the kind used for upholstery, but it works well for upholstery. It carries five weights of staplers. Made in the USA. It is $35 on the Internet and $16 at Lowe's. This will be soooo handy. And, it is full of staples....double win.

 How do you like my chicken fabric below that will be made into napkins? This is something I bought retail that I have had for several years.                                                                                             

25 cents, press-on light
I have always wanted one of these for dimly lighted or unlighted spaces, like a hall closet in my home. But, I could never justify the cost. Right now, they are $6 retail. I had the battery; now I have a working light. It occurred to me that this would be good if the electricity were disrupted. No matter what you have found them priced, this is about as high as I will go for one of these.  

 $1-stationery, 25 cards/envelopes and 64 lone envelopes

View over the table where I am sitting. The hens stayed with me the whole time. They are not entirely responsible for the area bare of grass.
25 cents each

Starting on the left--I love these for tea candles. Votive candles leave drips. I put white beans in the bottom to protect the glass from the heat. However, I only get them at yard sales for a quarter. I am not even sure where they sell retail.

Center--This little bottle is about four inches high, including the glass stopper with the rubber to make it fit well. Or, is it plastic. You know what I mean. The problem with this is that the cover on the glass stopper will not come off. So, there is a little dark line that is some sort of material. It will never come near whatever I put in the bottle, but I want it gone and cannot remove the stopper cover.

Right--I love this bottle. It has an insert with holes to shake the contents through. Then, the glass top in front of it sits on top, making it airtight. I made my own pepper last year from jalapenos, so I may put it in here instead of in the plastic bottle.
I am not sure if this is white dish is oven-proof.

I saw these two displayed together, picked up the ceramic? dish and asked the price. $1.50

So, I carefully replaced it in the metal basket and I browsed. At the end of my browse, I picked up both and asked the price. $2 I took them thinking I could resell either one for that price if I decided not to keep one or the other. This was more than my budget, but I really like the white, straight-sided dish.  He did volunteer they did not go together. I was aware. 

$1, USA, 12" long
Brand is USA, and made in USA
See Thelma behind the table?

I love scalloped or curvy shapes.
The view from above equals the side view above. 

$1--Fire King Casserole, excellent condition, bright colors (to sell)

I took an equal amount of things to the thrift store. So, maybe this won't be perceived by me or anyone else as clutter. When I see things at yard sales or thrift stores that are better than what I have, I purchase and consider it an upgrade.

I will post more another time. Blogger is not allowing pictures to be put up like it did before. So, I have to close the blog after uploading each picture, and I am tired of this nonsense. Maybe tomorrow it will behave better.

Besides, the hens are whining to have their cage down so they can come inside! 

Your turn
Did I overpay for anything? What have you found this summer that was priced so low and so useful that you could not resist?

Friday, September 23, 2011

September Sky

I was struck by the beauty of the clouds and blue sky on Wednesday, so I had to share.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My new bacon

Healthy "bacon" and eggs
Bacon and eggs. Local eggs from my yard and local meat from the town. Free eggs and "bacon" for $2.99/lb, not cheap but local.  Blogger is not cooperating today or for the last few days. So, pictures are whereever Blogger puts them, certainly not centered. So, here is my "bacon" story.

I feel this bacon will keep me healthy while I indulge in bacon and eggs occassionally. Of course, the fat content could be lower. The bacon actually has more lean meat than is shown here. But, it has no preservatives or flavoring.

I buy bacon about once or twice each year, alternating between eating it every meal until it is gone and treating the next package reverently, savoring each slice and indulging less often.  Since my father and his mother died of pancreatic cancer and the nitrates and nitrites used to cure bacon are implicated in this type of cancer, I stay away from meat processed with nitrites, if possible. Avoiding food with nitrites is my goal. Occassionally, bologna comes into the house, not often.

There is a local, in the town, meat processor who slaughters and processes all sorts of meat. Only chicken and sheep are not on his list of things to sell or slaughter. He sells bison meat!

Okay, on to my story. He came with a huge refrigerated truck to the local farmer's market where I talked with his employees. I was discussing nitrites and hoping to glean information about where to buy bacon without it. It seems they do carry bacon without nitrites, but it is preserved with salt. That's not good!

Then, he volunteered they had pork belly, sliced like bacon. Actually, it is bacon without seasoning and preservatives. I bought a package in April and finally ate it over the last few weeks.

At first, I put a teaspoon of the bacon grease I refrigerated from grocery store bacon into the pan of unseasoned bacon and gave my new bacon the slightest hint of bacon. Then, I just fried it and ate it plain. Yummy! Of course, I drained it and pressed it well.

With scrambled eggs, it is perfect. Of course, I do give up the really bacon-y flavor, but maybe I gain a few years or even months on my life and retain my health.

Maybe you can find a local slaughterer and ask for pork belly to have the same unsalted, unpreserved bacon-y treat. This is a full-time business. He has a huge operation. I am not talking store-front. I am talking in the city limits, but in the country, in the middle of his acreage. The people who waited on me came from the back in bloody aprons and hairnet/caps. The blood did not bother me in the least. And, the odor was negligible.

Your turn
This felt like rambling today! Have you ever bought pork belly instead of bacon? If so, how did you like it? Do you have a butcher who slaughters in a business that is really local, owner-operated?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cows like Jazz

Contented Cows like Jazz. This clip has sound if you need to lower the volume.  It's two minutes of bliss.

My youngest daughter like cows instead of bunnies, kittens, or puppies, yet she had only seen them from the car as we drove past.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Bare field? Look at the speck, center left, right at the edge of the photo!

While driving through the country in search of a business, I spied a field, yes, with my little eye. My little parsimonious eye is always on the lookout for free food, either for me or hens. Am I cheap? Yes, but it affects no one but me on this day.


See the ear of corn on the ground? I saw that from inside the car as I turned onto the edge of the field to turn around. It occurred to me--this was a corn field mostly devoid of corn and stalks. Just "stobs" remained.


See the "stobs." It was dangerous for me to walk amongst these. For one thing, I had on sandals. It would be like stepping onto a knife, a blunt, strong knife if one of these slipped up past the edge of the sandal and cut my foot. Plus, I just stumble around, hobbling on uneven ground. I still have vertigo.

Have you ever heard of "stobs?" This is a Southern US word from "stub," or "stubble."

When I was just over a year old I was walking with my mother in a field of stobs where things had been cut...don't know what. As I had just learned to walk, I tripped and fell face-first onto a stob that caught me under my eyebrow, narrowly missing my eye. My mother said she thought my eye was punctured. I still have quite a large scar. Maybe you learned a new word today.

What critter got this ear?
This cob has all the kernels stripped by something. I mused as to what it could be. There are no squirrels in the country.


Aha, pumpkins! These looked a bit gnarly, so I asked if he had any that I could give to my three hens.


The owner of this store said all the pumpkins he had outside had worms because he did not spray them. When I asked if I could have some for my hens, he said, "Take a couple." I took two. Well, exbf got them into the car.

Chicken cantaloupes
Then, another guy gave me several cantaloupes. I managed to cut enough from the good cantaloupe for exbf for dinner and some to take home. I don't eat cantaloupe.

I threw down an ear of the hard corn that I gleaned for the hens. They ignored it and came begging, following me to the house as I went inside. I came back, got the ear and put it in their pen. When they are in their pen for longer than they like, they often eat things they complain about on the outside.

"Maybe a bug is better."

Later, I came back with a colander of the corn. They just ignored the exposed kernels.

"The service is great here."

When I shelled it for them, scattering kernels on the ground, they eagerly ate it. Spoiled hens! Can you see the kernels of corn on the ground in the picture above? Next thing you know, I will have to put them in my lap and feed them from my hand. 

Sorry about the focus
When there were worms as I shucked and shelled the corn, I jumped, and shrieked as I threw down the ear. I looked more closely. Can you see the "worms?" Kernels of corn are sprouting. Maybe I should save this to plant next year. Nah, probably won't come true to the ears I picked up for the hens. I have to keep the ears inside or the squirrels would finish them off in a morning before I got up. 

Your turn
Do your hens turn down dried ears of corn? Who knew hens could be so spoiled? Do you ever glean for yourself or your animals? Have you ever seen corn sprout? Have you ever heard of "stobs?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let the Holidays Begin

Okay, not really begin. I just start in September to think, plan, buy, and save for the holiday foods to maximize my dollars I have to spend. Here is where my parsimony really kicks in. You can call it thrift, or frugality.

This is not a practice I started due to my newly-reduced financial status. This practice was started when I married into a reduced financial  status.  We were young and in school. He made $55/week and we rented. Even when we had more money, this just seemed the way to make our money go farther and not eschew the goodies and celebration we/I wanted.

Really, my mother bought this way. So, I had a really good example of how to maximize my food money. There were times Daddy controlled things to the point of cruelty, but left to her own devices, my mother bought at the best price and early. She grew up during the Great Depression. 

I always check my spices to see what I will be needing for my favorites. It is disheartening to be in the midst of baking a pumpkin pie at 10 pm and discover I don't have the spices I need. Please, no mention of substitutes. This has to be perfect. This year, I may use sweet potatoes I have right here instead of the canned pumpkin. I have no preference as to which pie I have, sweet potato or pumpkin.

Sugars must be checked. There are great sugar deals this far ahead of the holidays. At the last moment?...not so much. I use Domino Cane substitutes.  The same goes for the dark brown sugar and Confectioners sugar. With sales and coupons, I can get it as cheaply as I can off-brands or store brands. I never pay full price for sugar.

Flour goes on sale, too.  I kick myself if I ever buy it full price! I always use all-purpose flour so I can follow exactly all my recipes. 

Very close to Thanksgiving, celery is dirt cheap. I buy several stalks and freeze what I cannot use for the holiday dressing.

Even canned food is bought early and on sale. I do buy canned pumpkin and canned jellied cranberry sauce. Whole cranberries are bought when they go on sale and frozen until needed.

Maybe you substitute spices, raised your own pumpkins, and never eat sweets. Fine. But, this is my

At this point, I probably have plenty of flour, sugars, spices, and canned goods. That is not the point of my spending during the next two or three months. I will use all from the older foods and still buy an excess for use during the next year. Flour, sugars, and spices will be good for the next year, possibly more. That way, I never pay full price year-round.

Not only will I control spending during the holidays, but during the next year I will use food bought for little. The way food prices are rising, this is imperative for me and many people. Even if you can afford the rising prices, why not maximize your food dollar? (rhetorical)

Having had a bout of pantry moths last year, I resorted to storage beyond my usual measures. In the past, each five lb flour bag was inserted into a gallon freezer bag. Since pantry moths can invade these plastic bags, I changed my short-term storage containers.

I bought half-gallon Ball canning jars and put my vulnerable storage into those. Since I cannot afford all I need of anything at one time, I had to buy 6 jars at a time for around $8. Using money from things I sold, I managed to buy 8 boxes of jars--48 jars to be exact. Right now, they hold beans, sugars, flour. Now, this was done over about 8 months time last year and before I had the hen security concerns. I figured I would put up the things that might have bugs. If the food was contaminated with eggs, at least the contamination was confined to that jar. So far, a bag of cereal is the only thing I found that had to be tossed. The hens were happy.

If you are buying in bulk or buying regular retail, don't lose your money by letting pests destroy it. Besides, sugars in canning jars do not get hard....yay for that little advantage.

Back to holiday food planning.

My holidays that I plan for are Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and parties to which I am invited for any of those holidays. Yes, I am alone here. However, I decided very early that I would not be the old lady who did not celebrate or decorate.

My Trick or Treat candy will be gotten free at Office Max, using my recycling points. At Thanksgiving and Christmas  I have my own version of what must be:

Turkey breast (can be just chicken breasts if I am really broke)
dressing (cornbread and lots of onions and celery)
giblet gravy (minus giblets) with boiled eggs chopped in it.
cranberry sauce
green beans
mashed potatoes
baked, whole sweet potatoes
pumpkin pie
mincemeat pie
chocolate pound cake
eggnog from the store

Yes, I will eat the other traditional fare along with my favorites. The above is just what I prepare for myself.  Heavy on carbs? I do prepare all this just for myself and know I will not have to cook for a week.  Even if I go someplace for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I prepare this meal because leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving and Christmas. No, I do not complain that there is too much turkey or other leftovers.

My favorite leftover is a sandwich that I could eat year-round: Whole wheat bread, turkey, Miracle Whip, lots of spinach leaves. Yes, I do eat fresh greens with all but the meal when first cooked. After that, I eat more fresh, non-carb vegetables with the leftovers.

The plan for thrifty shopping? Ads with sales and coupons.

Note: I just wrote a whole post without misspelling one single word. I always get words wrong that are so common...tabel, spooon, there for know the sticky finger and wrong order type things. Now, if there are no grammar or punctuation errors...dream on, Linda.

Your turn
Do you buy ahead for holiday baking and cooking? Do you find your year supply of sugar, flour, and other staples at this time of year?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apple Gourd, Indian Cigar, Osage Orange

apple gourd
Sunday was full of surprise offerings from nature. A friend had been growing these apple gourds tied onto his porch and offered me one when I drove by and stopped to look at a tree in his yard.

Since I have looked longingly at these in the local gourd show and despaired over the high price, this was a really good surprise.

It is one of those things I saw I will grow someday. No need now, for I have the one I want. However, I will dry this and maybe harvest the seeds. I do hate to cut a hole in it.

Apple gourd uses
At the gourd show, coming soon, people make all sorts of containers and ornaments from these.

Indian Cigar Tree

longest (right) is over 14 inches long
Friday, as I was driving my car and exbf was a passenger, he exclaimed, "Oh, an Indian Cigar Tree!" He had turned quickly and craned his neck as we passed the house where the guy with the apple gourds lives. I am telling you, I have only seen him get this excited over Dr. Who and Auburn football.  He actually shocked me. This called for circling the block while he explained that he and his friends played with the seed pods as children.

The guy with the tree was on the front porch on his cell phone and saw me trying to reach a seed pod when I returned later to try to reach one. On Sunday, I stopped and talked while he was walking somewhere. He had picked some pods for me by pulling the limb down with a rake. All I had to do was get them off the porch. He offered me the apple gourd while I retrieved the seed pods.

On Sunday night, I told exbf about getting the seed pods. He was very interested, and I supposed pleased that I cared. As usual, I wonder what utilitarian uses these might have beyond propagating more trees. When I wondered aloud their uses, he sounded even more excited. "Oh, they've got lots of uses...swords..."

I laughed aloud. The little boy was speaking. It was cute. I explained that I meant as people or animal food or something like scrubbing the dishes. He had told me they peeled them and the inside was solid, not like separate beans/seeds.

Yes, Indians did smoke them. They are hallucenogenic! Exbf said that if they had had a match, they might have lit one, but they were not allowed to play with matches.

Indian Cigar Tree facts
This tree is called a Catalpa tree, produces large, showy flowers and messy seed pods. It is the home of worms used in the South for fishing. Daves Garden has plenty of facts. Surprisingly, ehow has a good article about the tree and history. Oh, it is garden ehow.

Osage Orange
Osage Orange
Zombie Brains
Since I had these two unusual pieces of nature, I remembered that I wanted to check on the Osage Orange tree. I found few in the yard and in the street. Like the Indian Cigar Tree, this sits within feet of the curb.

For several years, I have used one of these at Halloween on a table I set up near the road for Trick or Treaters. A sign in front of the plated Osage Orange says "Zombie Brains." Now, if this were in a large jar of colored water, it would be even more creepy.

The wood of the tree is excellent for fence posts and firewood. A fence can be made by letting the "brains" rot in a bucket of water. Add water. Mash. Dig a trench where you want the fence to be and pour the slurry from the bucket. The fence grows to be thick and impenetrable. Before barbed wire, this was the fence of choice.

No, they do not keep pests away. It seems the best the Osage Orange does is keep them from the immediate vicinity but not from the home.
This article is contradictory in the use of the timber, but go all the way down to special uses and see the amazing special properties of the tree. Some people think these are messy. But most people like the marvelous shade. It seems that planting on the west side of the house, a bit away would provide late afternoon shade for people indoors and out.

Chicken food?
I read about the Osage Orange or Hedge Apple and considered I might just have a source of food for my three hens. So, I offered them some, placing it before them. Initially, the ran from it and returned to investigate.
Osage Orange to right in grass
Yes, It is strange food. Here is a bit of interest, but this is as close as they ventured.

No way

All three hens turned their backs and walked away, pecking at bugs unseen by me. The experts have spoken.  I am going to see if the hens find these more palatable when rotten. I really don't want volunteers from the Osage Orange or Catalpa aka Indian Cigar Tree. So, maybe it all for the best.

Your turn
Who is growing apple gourds? What do you do with them? Do you have these last two specimens in your yard or area?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another use for Pallets

Our tribute to September 11, 2001.
Twin Towers in Pallets


Daylight view

September 11, 2001, I was expecting a call from my daughter to wish me a "Happy Birthday." When she did call from Brooklyn, I did not recognize her voice because she was screaming in terror. I kept asking, "Who is this?" When I finally understood it was my child, I thought the worst--her husband had been slashed on the subway, her three-month-old infant had died of SIDS, her first-grader had been hit by a car on the way to school.

I could not understand a word she was saying. It's amazing how much can go through your mind in mere seconds. She relayed the news to me as I scrambled from bed to turn on the TV.

Her husband worked 3 blocks from the WTC and still does. Thankfully, the tower fell in the opposite direction or he would have been killed. She did not know he was alive until after 6 pm because he had to leave his car and get a ride from someone else, going through the Queens tunnel instead of over the Brooklyn Bridge. 

No, it is not horrible this happened on my birthday, as some suggested. I would be considered small-minded and self-centered if I focused on me instead of grieving for the people who died and their relatives who had real losses. It's just horrible it happened at all.


                              "Happy Birthday to me"

Your turn
Is this not the cleverest idea for using pallets?

Please do not use my pictures elsewhere. Link to my site. Thank you.


Friday, September 9, 2011

10 Commandments for Frugal Living

This great list sums up what we all should be doing. The only thing I do not do is borrow things from others. But, the rest I manage to accomplish. My favorite statement is that people who are frugal do not necessarily buy cheap goods but buy items of quality. I do that. Read the commandments and see how well you are doing. This would be a great list to share.

Your turn
How are you doing following these 10 Commandments? Which is the hardest for you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011



Last week I was feverish and rummaging around in the cabinet, looking for something, anything. I thought I had found crackers when I saw the yellow end of a box. Nope! It was even better!

You can guess just about how long this bunny has been hiding. I put him where I would not see him and eat him all up. Well, it worked.
I bit his ear off in my excitement, and forgot to take a picture. He was in perfect shape, not broken or melted.
Your turn
Do you ever hide something from yourself to make up for your lack of self control? Isn't it a lovely surprise to find your hidden treasure?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shocking Health News from ENT

Nose spray--deliberate glare
Maybe this news I am about to tell you about my puny condition for the last month is not a shocker to you. But, I have lived with my body for a long time. This shock is on the scale of finding out I was adopted. (I'm not.) My head was spinning. I felt out of control. How could I be so wrong?

The ENT was a very nice man, very capable, I am sure. However, I went to the doctor with an earache and pain in forehead and under eyes and across the bridge of my nose. Okay, the glasses might cause the pain. I told him the names of all the meds I had taken in the last month, two antibiotics and prednisone, sudafed and Claritin (both generic), Hall's Mentholyptus, chicken broth. He did not ask. Oh, had an elevated  temp but no one took it.

I still had the information I was filling out in my hand, so he came into the room not knowing anything about me. I had a temp, but no one checked.

I told/volunteered to him all the things I have been allergic/sensitive to all my life--heat, going from cool to heat, contact dermatitis, animal allergens, food, pollens, any kind of dust (road, yard, powder, pepper, flour, etc) that sends me into sneezing fits and causes allergic reactions. He smiled.

He did not ask me what I had been doing for myself or about any meds prescribed, but I thought he would want to know. I told him. He smiled indulgently while I reeled it off quickly. Most doctors want to know. Oh, I forgot to tell him about the elevated temp! Oh well. He did not seem curious about my past,  just the miserable soul in front of him.

After I had an xray of my sinuses, he informed me I had nothing wrong with my evidence of anything in congestion or infection at all. Plus, he looked at the ear that is hurting so much and listened to how at the worst, my face near the ear was swollen, how eating wasabi in an overabundance made my nose run and all the ear pain went away. There is nothing wrong with the middle ear, no congestion, fluid--nothing to cause discomfort!...according to him.


Apparently, I have no allergy, sinus, or ear problems. He said the inside of my nose is going crazy with sensitivity to things that get in my nose. He never used the word rhinitis or any rhin thing. lol  I thought was he described WAS an allergy. Okay, isn't this seasonal/perennial allergic rhinitis? (rhetorical)

Ear pain-must is musculoskeletal. He said I have no swollen glands just swelling where glands are! ???

I have spray stuff up my nose to "calm down my nose reaction." HUH? He never addressed allergies to food or what is in the air. He did say to avoid foods and anything that caused a reaction, keep nose (inside) moist, and something else that I already do.

Now, you know why air conditioning is important to my health. Now, you know why an overheated house or wood heat must be avoided. Now, you know why I cannot sleep in a warm room.  A little warmth in the room for adult fun time is okay (almost mandatory), but then the heat must go off. Okay, adult time has not happened in a while, so that is a moot point here...lolol.

He never used "allergy." I am so confused.

Obviously, I cannot use the sprayer since no mist comes out, just a stream that ran right out of my nostrils last night!

Oh, he cleaned out my nose! I thought it was clean. As he looked in my nose, I informed him that I had a hole in the septum. He smiled and said he wondered if I knew it and asked how it happened. He got lots of earwax from the ear that was not hurting. Maybe I can hear out of it better now. Naaah! It'll never happen. Then, later last night, the hugeist ball of wax? was in my ear he cleaned.

I feel all clean inside. Just kidding. I don't even remember my mother ever cleaning out my nose. Since she had two more within three years, I suppose I cleaned my own nose. Now, if I could just get someone to clean my nails on my left nails and toes that are almost unreachable because of the left knee and back problems. Well, I can dream, can't I? I digress. Back to the ears.

One of my eardrums burst when I was an infant, so that is probably the problem with the hearing. Yes, my mother had me at the doctor two times that week, and had just taken me to the doctor in the afternoon before the eardrum burst. See, this has been a lifelong problem. I inherited this from my father. Mama said when she met Daddy's family they were "the snorting-est, snotting-est people [she] had ever been around". Aren't you enjoying all the snot talk?

So, I have not been ill for a month? I really feel depressed and want to cry. I don't want to be ill, but this is just too much to internalize right now with pain in my ear and over my eyes, under my eyes, still. Sigh.

Not gross enough for you? Go over to Barb's Backyard for pictures of scat yesterday morning. Wait a minute. Finish my post.

Mind you, I do not doubt his diagnosis. I am just flabbergasted. I have a sample of the spray, deliberately masked by flash, I thought, and a prescription if the sample works......

Your turn
Have you ever been given nose spray when you have pain in ears and sinuses and told you that the reason the ears and sinus areas hurt are musculoskeletal? Had your problem minimized to "excitable nose?" I am capable of understanding the big words. Have you ever had a diagnosis or pain for so long and then one health professional tell you that you are all wrong, and apparently so have health officials for the last 64 years?  Hey, for my friend who father is an ENT, if you have any other thoughts, you can write where we talked online after our phone discussion.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Free X 60 = $0 for $180 value

8 ounces X 60
I had finished shopping and had one coupon left to use. However, the store was out of the product. It would have been free. Since I was out and about, and it was only a quarter mile out of my way, I decided to go in the next store for one item. The one item I wanted was not on the shelf in the second store. The manager said they had had it but no longer carried it. Bummer.

(The photo is blurry because I had one shot left of my sd card, and I don't know how to erase the pictures.)

As I was leaving, the cashier asked me if I did not find what I wanted. I explained how it would have been free and today was the last day to use the coupon. She is a serious couponer, so she took it hard right along with me.

Then, she brightened and said, "Would you like free hand sanitizer?"  Slowly, I said, "Sure," while trying to figure out why and how I was getting a bottle of hand sanitizer. She brought me a box of TWELVE 8-ounce bottles of alcohol hand sanitizer. She put it in the basket of the electric cart I was driving. My mouth must have been open. She said, "Do you want another one?" I was speechless. Then, she brought me another. That is TWENTY-FOUR 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

She explained it was sent to give away to people during the April tornado aftermath. However, it was sent two months later when people were not in such dire straits. The store could not sell a donation, so they were giving it away.

Two days later, I was given two more boxes. Now, I had FORTY-EIGHT 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer. Almost a week later, I was given another box of 12 hand sanitizers. That makes a total of SIXTY free bottles.

There is no way I will ever use this much hand sanitizer. I thought. I have given some to friends. It is like favors when you visit, take something. Plus, I now have hand sanitizer in my small emergency stash.

Right after the tornado hit, I was given a bottle of hand sanitizer in some of the relief supplies. I have been using it after I gather eggs to clean my hands of whatever germs are on a perfectly clean-looking egg that comes out of you-know-where. I don't clean the egg with alcohol. Now that I have an abundance of hand sanitizer, I will not run short. Ever.

I checked other bottles of hand sanitizer the same size. Each bottle is a $3 value. So, I am ahead by $180 worth of merchandise. The price may vary according to brand and store that stocks it.

Edit: Someone suggested I was being greedy and that schools could have used the sanitizer.  The people at this store know I gave one of their checkers about $40 worth of food that I really needed myself. The checker worked in a grocery store and could not afford to buy food. She told everyone how much I helped her. I wish she hadn't. Maybe they know I will be generous with the sanitizer. I will.

In the last two weeks I have been given a huge bag of bananas, a box of tomatoes, and 10 lbs of potatoes. All were more than I could consume. It never occurred to me to suggest they not give it to me. They know I feed chickens, so I assumed they expected me to share with my hens.

The sanitizer was offered. I did not ask. And, the woman asked if I knew someone who could use it. She wanted it gone. Maybe the store had given lots to schools. I did not ply them with questions as to their intentions. Sorry if it looks greedy. I am not greedy at all. I will distribute my good fortune anytime I find a

Your turn
Okay, now is the time for all the oooohs, and Is there another use for alcohol hand sanitizer? 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Show-off Chicken

L-egg is three inches long

Thelma lays huge eggs. The egg on the right is a rather large egg. However, it is dwarfed by the egg of the left. Every time, I hope that it will be a double yolk. Not so far. But, it is rather a large yolk.  If I could only weigh my eggs....egg weigh-ers cost too much. I only have 45-yr-old bathroom scales that really aren't very accurate.  

Yes, I was in awe of the huge egg and took a ruler and measure it...3" I don't have anything with which to weigh it. She lays an egg almost every day, but about once every ten days, she lays a whopper of an egg. They are never double yolk eggs.

Your turn
Do you have a hen that lays large eggs with no double yolks? 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Full-fledged Hen Rebellion

Remember this picture of Fancy and Thelma sitting on the porch railing, refusing to come in?
Thelma turned to ignore me; Fancy in foreground
Well, it keeps happening. That night, I did not fix their cage in a timely manner and it was dark. Well, I still don't feel well, and put off taking out the poopy paper, putting in new paper, and bringing the cage into the house with the house door open.

For three nights or more, Louise has decided she would just get in the cage early. She will get in with poopy paper, clean paper, or clean, bare cage. If I leave the lid down, she sits on top. It does not have to be dark for her to get in. As a matter of fact, the other two are down on the ground and she just goes to bed.

Last night, I decided to go to WalMart about midnight. As I opened the door and was about to stagger out, I suddenly saw Fancy sitting on the door mat, close to the door opening and right on the edge of the porch. Goodness! She scared me because at first she was a blob. I could have stepped right on her!

What if a raccoon had come? What if I gone to bed and left her out all night? I remember distinctly hearing three WHUMPS as the three of them jumped in the cage, landing as usual without bending their knees. Or did I remember that? Did I hear it? How could I just close the cage and not notice I only had two hens? How could I cover them up and talk to them and not notice there were only two. Am I getting to be a bad Chickie Mama? Noooo, I am still ill. Still had this fever since At least July 12.

This makes me feel like the time I did my carpool turn and dropped off all the kids in the car, only to realize I had left my own three-year-old at playschool. In all fairness to me. I did put him in the car. He just decided he would get out when I was not looking!
So, tonight, I procrastinated once again and waited until pitch dark to go out and fix their cage. I heard them jumping and hitting the door and complaining. Finally, I went to fix their cage/bed. Louise was on the porch rail near the door, waiting on me. Fancy and Thelma were sitting on the railing, right up next to the door. I fixed the cage. I put it in the house. Louise jumped right in as though she could not wait. Then, she sat down. I washed my hands and came back. Fancy and Thelma were stuck to the rail and trying to sleep. I turned on all the outdoor lights. They complained.

Aaaack! I feel too bad for this. I picked up Fancy and placed her in the cage. Less than ten seconds later, I had Thelma and turned back to the cage. Fancy jumped out as I was picking up Thelma! So, I put Thelma in the cage, and she tried to jump out! I got Fancy and tried to put her in. It was like trying to put a cat in a bag, a cat with wings. In my haste to get her and keep Thelma from getting out, I did not have one wing secured. Soooo, I am being flogged by a wing and Thelma is trying to jump. As I shut the cage, both were squawking at me. Louise was sitting and looking annoyed at all the jumping and tromping on her.

They have never tried to sleep on the railing until now. Not once since last October 18, the night of Chessie's murder and the beginning of their living in the house with me, have they ever tried to get out of their cage in the house!

Okay, I am going to bed now, at 8:30, waaay too early for me. I did not even reread this for any kind of errors in grammar, structure, or punctuation. Good night.

Your turn
Have your chickens rebelled suddenly?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Opportunity for you, my friends

I participate in a research project. If you would like the opportunity to participate, also, send me an email to  pparsimony at yahoo dot com. It must be the email where you will be receiving/reading the survey. I have nothing to gain by your participation. I have a guaranteed $3 payment each time I complete a survey. Now, there are a list of questions about twice a month or more to qualify you. But, when they send the Questionnaire that is the research, you will get paid if you participate.

This is not a paid referral! I get nothing. Actually, I must spend time forwarding an email to you, but I don't mind the work.  I don't know how long I have to send the referrals, so get the addresses to me soon as you can. I will just destroy/delete your address so that I will not have information you do not wish me to have....well, unless you want me to have it.

Products are often sent for me to try. I cannot tell you what they are because of confidentiality.

Only one member per household may participate.

I make about $6-$12 each month without leaving my chair or brushing my teeth or putting on mean, shoes. It is not a lot, but some days have seen $3 as a boon for the gas tank or to get a gallon of milk when I had no money. I think I made $100 the first year. It is not a lot, but every little bit helps.

You can get the money in a $3 check, in pay pal, or on a credit card type card. I chose the card.

If you send me your email address where you want to get the email from the company, I will send it out to within 24 hours. If you do not get the email from me, then tell me again.

I am bracing myself for thousands of

Do not send your participating email address to this blog, only to pparsimony...