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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prednisone blahs and celery

Today (written on Wednesday, yesterday) is the last day of prednisone (oral cortisone) for the "frozen" shoulder. I awoke feeling strange. Usually, I am groggy. That is just me. I stagger and stumble around. That's okay because I have been this way since I was very young. Well, I never got over that "little kid stumble" in the mornings. Nope. I never awake bright-eyed. I hate sound in the morning. I hate light. I hate "good morning" said with a chirpy voice.

Usually, this feeling goes away after at least an hour. Yes, I can bathe, dress, eat, and study in this state. Of course, the studying is usually a lost cause. In the morning I am better at rote tasks--dishes, sweeping, laundry, folding get the idea.

Somehow, today was different. I have nausea, confusion, heaviness, a plethora of strange symptoms. I finally had my friend who comes to help me take me to get a Coke--the real deal, full of caffeine and sugar. That did not jolt me out of my funk. 

I am not depressed, sleep deprived, sad, hurting, so what is it? It took me from 8:45 until now, about 1:30 to figure it out....coming down from prednisone. And, I only had five days and a graduated dose each day, plus the shot last week.  I really hate this feeling. (Today, Thursday, is not much better.)

Nevertheless, we got a scrap box for the hens. Surprise! There was food for me.

I have been out of celery. Now, just in time, I have celery for the hens and free celery for me!

For hens
diced, sliced, and whole rib
Tomorrow, I will have tuna salad and chop the whole rib. In the meantime the cup of chopped celery and the short pieces will go into the freezer. The pieces will go into baking bags when I bake chicken or beef. The diced pieces go into soup.

Growing my own celery
I read about this somewhere on the Internet. The bottom of the stalk can be used to grow more celery. Using this method, I won't get a head of celery. If all goes well, I will just go out and cut celery I need, like an herb, leaving the plant to produce more.

Why I don't eat celery leaves
When pesticide is used, the leaves are where the pesticide is concentrated. So, all the fluffy, pretty, celery leaves I have used in cooking in the past, now are discarded. Sad. I am pretty sure this is NOT organic.

Your turn
Even though I am going to the doctor, has anyone had this prednisone experience? Do you ever search through old produce for edible parts? This really did not look old at all, just the victim of some bizarre happening. The produce market could not sell it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You can be fined for growing food in your yard

I cannot believe it. Novella Carpenter is going to be fined for growing food. Okay, maybe it is because she wants to grow chard and sell it. You can hear it from her at her blog, Ghost Town Farm. Read about it here at Root Simple. This could happen to all of us. Someone from Georgia reports in the comments the same problems. How can we be threatened and fined for feeding ourselves and our families?

Novella Carpenter's book, Farm City, is inspiring and humorous. I asked the library here to buy it so I could check it out to read. You won't be able to put this down. 

I hope it was okay to copy this picture from your blog, Root Simple and Novella.

Your turn
Can you imagine being hassled for growing food and/or selling some of it? Is this happening in your area?

Good, useful, free stuff

There are days when a table of free stuff is all worthless to me. But, the perfect, free stuff awaited me last weekend.

Tupperware seal
I have a Tupperware divided dish, the kind sold to take a meal to work. One day, I used the lid to collect pecan halves from the floor, trimmed fat from cooked beef, two crushed egg shells, and a half cup of dry oats, among other things. For whatever reason, I left it on the porch. It must have slipped behind and under a chair. When I found it, it was beyond redemption.
remembrance left by a hen
I don't have a picture of the clear, free Tupperware seal since my friend took the dish to work when he was here last week. He brings the dish back each week, clean, and I refill it for his lunch the next day. Oh, I paid only a quarter for a Tupperware, divided dinner dish and pink lid. Coooool! Then, the replacement lid was free from the free table.

Glass lid
My cast iron Dutch oven and iron skillet share the same lid. The pot had its own lid that it had to share with the skillet. But, I burned something onto the lid and still have not gotten the chunk of food from the iron lid. THEN, I bought a Lodge lid that fit both. So, they still have to share.

Lucky Dutch oven and skillet! I found on the free table a glass lid with a wooden knob. I wonder if the knob is original. At any rate, it works! I used it once on a pot of black eyed peas and it did not break, so I suppose it is tempered glass.

glass lid for large skillet

Does it look like tempered glass? It appears to be. Does the knob look original? It doesn't to me. Why oh,  why is this program still centering the text when it shows left justification? it fixed itself...sigh.

Free other plastics
There was a plastic, divided rectangular dish. It will be used for storing things not edible. The smaller divided dish with the blue lid will be used short term for carrying snacks in the car. While the other divided dish has no lid, it will be used to hold items in a cabinet where I store otc medicine. Those things fall over and I have to dig around, so this will be perfect. Besides, there are always otc samples in the little square packets that like to free range and annoy me.

Plastic containers are great for organizing in my house.

Money savers
I would have bought none of this. But, if I were inclined to, this would have saved me dough. I usually just keep waiting for the right thing to come along. However, a month or so ago I did go out and buy plastic to organize and took it all back due to all the sizes being wrong. Okay, I could have made do with wrong sizes. But, wrong size and expensive...I think not!

Landfill save
Most of this would have undoubtedly ended up in a landfill. Not now.

Your turn
Do you ever find good stuff on a "free" table? What is the best "free' table item you have found? 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby gift, cute and inexpensive wrap

sweet bracelet
  I have a baby gift long overdue. The mother is a favorite cashier at the grocery store. Since the mother was off for over 3 months, I have an excuse for that period of time. But, mother has been back at work for six weeks! I forgot to take a picture of the gift I had my friend make--baby bead bracelet with pearls and pink pearl beads all the way around and the baby's name in baby beads--KARLI.  So, here it is on a fern at her job.

In the closet are several small boxes. My gift wrap paper box holds ribbon and paper. The box of curling ribbon was purchased for a quarter at a yard sale about five years ago with only one little egg even partly used.

See the holes on the front edge of the box? You just pull the ribbon through there. No messy ribbon getting tangled up. When I empty the box, I will take it apart and put more  eggs of curling ribbon inside. I like the system.

eggs of curling ribbon in a dispenser box
Yes, I could wrap in newspapers or comics, but that is too messy to handle. Someone, maybe Martha Stewart, had a gift wrap program where she used clear cellophane over newspaper. hmmmm...not good for environment or my wallet. Craft paper would be more expensive than my yardsale finds of paper. 

The paper used on the gift is the last scrap of a birthday gift wrap bought about ten years ago. However, the tea party birthday table is not baby will never know.

Gifts can be wrapped in bandanas, like the Japanese do with the eco-friendly wrapping cloth,  furoshiki, or with any other cloth. 

Can you snag that wrapping paper being ripped off gifts before someone wads it and tosses it? Maybe you can reuse gift bags. The ultimate is making cloth bags to reuse or include as part of the gift. The reusable gift bags can be used for shopping by the recipient. Or, the person can reuse the bag for your gift next year.  

Your turn
What are your inexpensive gift wrap ideas?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Free food and merchandise...Oh yeah

another small economy
At the grocery store a cashier gave me a coupon a customer left behind--free gallon of milk. I had three coupons for 50 cents off Del Monte vegetables, fruits, or catsup. The store doubles coupons, but the register is programmed to only use the coupon up to the purchase price of the item. So, my 50 cent coupon only "doubled" to $0.79, the price of the pineapple. I chose three cans of crushed pineapple. Since I meant to get sliced, I will trade this next time I go back to the grocery.
Total free=$5.66
paid tax = $0.42

additional small economy
Office Max
Since I had $60+ free merchandise in Office Max, I stopped in there. In the past I have gotten two cameras almost free. Today, I did not need ink or anything that was expensive. I ended up getting small items that I needed.

*Shipping tape in the small size was on sale ($2.50). So, three small sizes were cheaper and had more tape than the larger roll.
*My daughter and I both need refills on Scotch tape. I bought a three-pack.
*Pens for my grandson
*20 oz Coke for me

total free, including tax that was free= $34.79

You may have noticed the large quantity of shipping tape. If I bought $20 of Scotch or Post It products, I would get $5 on my Maxperks card. I will use it all since I am now packing and sealing boxes.

There is still $12+ to be used before April 1, so I don't know what I will decide to get in order not to lose my recycling rewards. I also have a gift card with $17 left on it.

Aha! Today, Sunday, I realized that a $39.99, 10 ream case of copy paper is on sale for $24.99 at Office Max. There is no picture here since the box of paper is still in the car. YES! That is just right. I paid with the maxperks card about $28 for  $43 worth of paper--paid with the card that has credit left for free merchandise.

Today's total of merchandise free is $83.45. I paid cash for tax of $0.42.

Altogether, I am happy with my free merchandise, all items that will be used, not just something bought to store "just in case." I do store "just in case," so no problem there even if I did. I will share the copy paper with my daughter who said she needed some. Since I may not use that much the rest of my life, I may barter with it.

Your turn
Have you scored free items lately? Does your grocery store have registers programmed to not actually double all coupons?  Do you endorse the idea of "small economies?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Substitution 101: New workshop and a parsimonious project

I am moving to the yard for this project. The sun is warm to my skin on this day early in March. The problem: I am trying to figure out what size camisole fits my 9-year-old granddaughter. I am sending three. First, I will make a pattern for each. Otherwise, I will know nothing when my daughter tells me which fits.

This way, I can make another camisole from the pattern that fits. My daughter, having been reared by a mother who sews, follows my directions exactly. She knows how to measure. You might think this is simple. It is. But, some people do not do it right.

Rather than use messy newspaper or go purchase paper, I have other solutions. Cutting apart a paper bag works for a pattern. It is nice and strong, but rather small sometimes. Okay, just tape two together. However, I get few paper bags and value them in their bag state!

Buy the paper from a school supply bookstore that teachers use on bulletin boards. It is cheap. This is my last resort. Get end rolls of newsprint.

Gift wrap is my pattern paper of choice. Of course, I only use rolls I do not like from my stash. Sometimes a roll gets dirty or bent or torn. It still works for a pattern. Since I shop for Christmas paper only from yard sales, the cost is minimal.

Usually, I put the pattern side down. However, I am working on a white table with a white camisole. Today, I placed the pattern side of the paper up for the sake of clarity in the pictures.

Notice the kitchen knives. These are to weight the camisole and hold it in place. These knives are not part of a set, just odd knives. I usually use knives to hold a pattern to cloth for cutting.
Notice I turned back the garment to mark the line to cut a piece for the shelf bra in this one camisole. 

All three camisoles fit on this four-foot end of the picnic table! Life gets good sometimes...just kidding.

I did invest in two of these camisoles. The third was attached at the shoulders of a sheer blouse. When I hear which camisole fit her the best and how I should alter the pattern, I can make camisoles for her year round for wear under other garments or as a garment for summer wear. If she were here, the two camisoles would not been necessary.

Why did I not get measurements and draft this? There is not much room for error here. I would have to mail the first camisole, wait for my daughter to get the time and energy to look at it and call me. Plus, my daughter is so busy that I might get the measurements or fit information this fall! The garments will speed up the process and make life simpler for her.

The whole post is contradictory if you focus on the fact that I bought two garments that may or may not fit. I bought garments now in order to save a bundle later.

The parsimonious point
Use gift wrap paper you may never use. We all make garment patterns or trace other things, especially if you have children who need cheap paper for their imaginative projects. Christmas paper or other gift wrap works perfectly. If you are like me, you have bought a pack of rolls and don't especially like one of the rolls. I really like the roll I used, but it was not stored away.

Your turn
Do you ever use gift wrap for patterns when sewing? Is there another parsimonious use you have for gift wrap? What kind of paper do you use when you need to make a sewing pattern or trace something? Does parsimony ever enter into the scheme of paper thoughts?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken sitter for hire

There is a new service available in LA. Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times.

The few days for one short stretch that I have needed help, I just needed someone to come feed and water the hens once a day. I had two friends who took turns. They did me a favor. In return, they received a dozen fresh about once a month.

When I lost one hen to the raccoon, the hens did not have as much light this past winter since they had to be kept in my house. Around November I quit giving away eggs since there were few. Their second winter laying may have been one of the reasons for fewer eggs. Anyway, I had none to repay favors.

Your turn
Do any of you chicken sit for pay? Or, pay for a chicken sitter? Have you ever heard of these services in your town or area?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meaner than a junkyard chicken

A friend and I were sitting at the junkyard, waiting to recycle cans. Of course, my chicken radar was working. There was a lone, banty (bantam) hen wandering about.

Now that I have a blog, my camera is on my person at all times. I don't want to miss a photo op! So, I hauled out the camera and got out of the car, grabbing a half dozen of the pecans halves I had carried in a container for a snack.

"Here, chick, chick." She turned and saw the crumbled pecans dropping and headed my way, slowly. I had to back up before she would come very far. As you can see, she never came very close.

One of the guys came back from lunch. "How many chickens do you have here?" " "I have never seen it before." Well, if he works here and has never seen it, maybe the hen is just a day tripper.

I just have to know. Another guy came back from lunch. "How many chickens do you have here?" His index finger came up. "Oh, where did you get it?" "It just showed up here a few weeks ago. It's a junkyard chicken." You could just tell he was amused at what he said.

Now, I wonder if she goes home at night. Or, if she left home for good.

waaay back where she can run away from me
See the black Beautification Award sign?
I go to a well-kempt, pretty junkyard.

Your turn
Okay, it is your turn to go awwww! Kidding. Have you ever seen a junkyard chicken?

Cheap eats: food sharing

A friend had a roast she did not want to cook. She suggested I cook us a meal. I took the roast, cooked it with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Later, I gave her back almost half the roast and some of the potatoes and carrots.

Sorry, no picture.

Cost to me
roast: free
potatoes: $0.50, still in bag from two weeks ago ???
carrots: $2 for two lbs baby carrots (used 1.5 lbs)
onion: gotten free and stored in freezer

Besides returning to her a portion--half the roast, I ate from my half of the roast for three days and shared today's meal with a friend. That's about $0.40 per meal. Then, there was still enough carrots and potatoes for his lunch tomorrow. From the uncooked leg quarters she gave me last week, he is taking free thigh meat to complete his lunch tomorrow. Last week she received a free, delivered pot of chicken and dumplings. 

To clarify: A male friend ate with me. A female friend did not want to cook and gave me the roast and chicken. She hates to cook.

I spent about $2 on five roast meals with meat and two vegetable. With neither meal was there an abundance of meat. I decided to just cut back and be happy with less meat not to cut costs, but for my health. Each meal cost me about $0.40, very inexpensive in my opinion.

Last week, I made her chicken and dumplings with half the chicken leg quarters she gave me. I kept the rest of the chicken to cook later for my use. I even delivered her pot of chicken and dumplings.

Even though I used electricity to cook, I did not count that because bought meat or free meat, the cost to cook is the same.

Maybe we can continue this practice. I certainly can eat more cheaply and she eats more nutrious and tasty meals.

An identical roast is in my freezer, waiting the maiden voyage of my stainless steel pressure cooker. I acquired the pressure cooker before Christmas but have never used it. This roast is all mine, not to be shared except with company.

Your turn
I have heard of cooking and swapping meals and casseroles. But, has anyone done this? I take the meat and cook and return only half the meat. The carrots were just my gift to her, I suppose.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Stole Easter Candy and the rest of my week

What I took

No, I don't need lots of candy. I just cannot help it, but I must have a bit of candy for Easter. After all, it's not like I have sworn off candy. I am choosy, though. Since I don't want much candy, I cannot buy a bag of each type candy just to please my know how cute seasonal candy wrapping is. Right?

A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the shape of a bunny won't work for me. Likewise, Hershey's Kisses in pastels won't go home with me. That icky, white cream stuff inside the chocolate eggs is nasty any season. Truffle anything works, no matter the shape. So, I knew what I would get in the large store--malted milk eggs with hard shell and speckles aka Robin Eggs. I grabbed a bag after fondling several other kinds of candy. I knew that was what I would buy, but I had to get as close to the fire as possible to see if I could not be burned--handle all the bags ans see how self-righteous I am and can resist candy-evil.

Several other items were in the electric cart for me to purchase. I did so and left. As I reached the car, I lifted the large bag with a garment I brought in to match with a tee, I saw them--purloined malted milk balls, speckled Easter eggs. I turned the cart on and hurried back to the store.

What I wanted

Customer service workers said most people would have kept the bag of candy. That's not me. If I stole something, I figure I would get caught. There would be pictures of me posted all over town.

Back in the car and on the way out of the lot, I ripped open my now-paid-for-prize and shoved three in my mouth. Ick, Spit, Oh, Eww, aching salivary glands! I had bought jelly beans not Robin eggs. Ewwww! And, they were speckled just like the candy I wanted. Of course, they were pure sugar, not preferred by my taste buds.

Of course, now I must return to the store immediately and get the right thing to erase the sugar taste. Ahhh, chocolate--speckled mini Robin eggs by Whoppers. They are in  a jar behind a closed door right now. So far, I have been good about not gobbling them right down.

Helping my daughter 
I reduced her final AT&T bill down to $0.01 (yes, one penny). They had charged her, wrongly, $120 for leaving them early + all the taxes=$148.49. They did not tell her when she cancelled her service for two phones and claimed now that she left two days before her contract was up. I am nice, shocked, and outraged, not angry. After the adjustment and after hearing her new balance, "Excuse me, but how do you prefer that penny be sent--cash, check, money order, bank draft, cashier's check." He started laughing and took the penny off her bill. She is free of ATT. But, I still love ATT. Smooch...

I know an ampersand goes between the Ts, but other stuff (ampersand;) is included, so I decided that no ampersand looks best.

Just because I am disabled, I no longer have to pay $15 that covers weekly services--trash pickup, street sweeping, limb removal, leaf removal, and road stuff in our city. ~Sweet~

I do not put out a weekly pickup because I don't make much trash. I keep my leaves for the chickens. I was not using full services anyway.

Excalibur dehydrator arrived. No, I have not tried it.

Monetary progress
I found a dime.

Cooking once for the week
I didn't.

I am woman. Hear me roar!
I caught another a live trap...with one strawberry.

Garden progress
I have been contemplating germinating seeds.

Repair bill
Bill for repairing, cleaning, and installing new stuff concerning brakes--$300.80.

Your turn
Did you steal anything last week? Caught a raccoon or any wild animal? Get your brakes fixed and feel safer? Found a mistake this week on a your favor?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bags? Bags? Who has the bags?

In response to my ""Irish" post that was not all about being Irish, a  post that asks: Do you have any old habits that are destructive to the earth, expensive, habits you have trouble breaking? Linda at hello its me answered with a comment about an earth-friendly habit she cannot quite master:

"I keep forgetting to take my cloth bags to the store. I feel awful about it! We live on the third floor of our building so emptying the cloth bags and taking them right back to the car isn't appealing. We leave them hanging by the door and then don't look at the spot where they hang as we leave! I have to break myself of that habit!"

I, too, had that problem. One day at the grocery store I was soooo frustrated by my lack of remembering to bring bags from the car that I told the clerk to just put it all back in the cart and I would bag the food in the parking lot. Standing in the parking lot, bagging food into my canvas bag, I was more frustrated but really relieved that now I could figure out what to do when my bags were in the car or at home.

Thankfully, I have never had to bag groceries in the rain or really high temperatures. I have fallen into the habit of not taking them all the time. So, this post is to boost my memory. There are other solutions to forgotten bags than bagging them in the car or going home and bagging them to get them into the house. I would not want to climb three stories to retrieve bags. I really don't blame you for taking plastic!

Maybe one of these solutions will work or help you to figure out a viable solution for you:

*Bag the groceries in the parking lot like I do. (#1 for me)
*Bag the groceries at home after you retrieve the bags from the house like I do.
*Have two sets of bags that will give you an opportunity to maybe keep one set in the car.
*Get bags free or cheap so that keeping all bags in the car will allow you to have forgotten the rest upstairs.
*Ask someone to carry the bags down when that person is leaving but not  going shopping, ie., when someone is going to school or work, even if the person is not going in the car that needs the bags.
*Attach the bags to your purse or keys so that you will have to take them to the car next time you leave...binder clip, twist tie, string, anything that will hold bag full of bags to your purse. It does not have to be pretty. It just has to get them beyond the door of your apartment, on the way out.
*Put all the bags you have into one bag, making it easier to get someone to comply and take bags to the car and easier for you to take them.
*Don't wait for grocery shopping day to take the bags to the car.
*Ask the store employees for a box or two so the walk up three flights won't hurt you. Yikes!

I don't have any way to improve your memory. If I did, I would improve mine first. LOL

How do you get more bags, cheap or free? I wrote a post about how I get bags cheap or free.

Your turn
It seems that remembering the reusable bags is a problem for many people. How do you solve the problem of remembering the bags?

Kiss Me; I'm Irish

No, really, I am.

I have dark hair, dark complexion, black eyes and thought the Native American genes were strongest and most prominent. Now, my cousin tells me he had some sort of analysis and most of his genes show he is of IRISH descent.  Okay, this shows up through the male side. Our fathers were brothers. Somehow, this surprise has me wondering.

We all probably have some presupposed notion of what a group of people looks like. None of us in our family "look" Irish. Maybe I ought to change my stereotypical thinking. ??? So, now I should get a button?

People often ask if I am of Native American descent. Yes, on maternal and paternal sides. So, what does this newfound information do for my self-image? Nothing? I never participate in pow wows. I don't identify with Native Americans in a special way or anything. I don't feel a particular "Indian" pull towards nature. (Okay, a friend said that about her own feelings toward nature because she wants to be an Indian.)

In all the living in the Ukraine, Germany, and France, countries that various ancestors are reported to have dwelt in and passed through, where did the Irishman come from? 

It is like an old habit of thoughts that I must break. (Actually, I am still looking for a loophole on this Indian/Irish issue.) Isn't that the way with life?--just when you have it all figured out, something happens to break your concentration, to jolt your consciousness, to change your concept of who you are and where you came from. 

So many habits are like that. When we realize the truth of the matter, it should be easy to accept the truth. But, we are not that way most of the time. For instance--We are complicit in the ravishing of the earth. Why? We all know better. We know what we should do and don't many times.

Why do we continue to do what we know is self-destructive? Do you still buy bottled water? Do you still get plastic bags at the grocery and elsewhere? Do you ever feel a twinge of remorse for continuing to do that which you know you should not do? Do you have any old habits that are destructive to the earth, expensive, habits you have trouble breaking?  Did you ever think to try a bit more parsimony?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are you prepared for a disaster?

Unfortunately, our own frailty and impotence against the terrible forces of nature were thrust in our faces this past weekend with the earthquake, tsunami, and now the threat of nuclear disaster. Are you prepared for emergencies that might befall your area of the country?

People have been without electricity, food and water for almost a week. Could you last that long? They have.

Although I don't live in an area with many quakes, I still know that the New Madrid Fault can affect my area. No, my refrigerator, bookcases, and other appliances are not secured, nor is the hot water heater.

Thirty miles from me is a nuclear reactor. I have a hard time thinking about an exodus from here, the congestion, fear, and meanness of angry and fearful people.

The worst hurricanes do for this area is spawn tornadoes by the dozen. A closet is my shelter. The only thing I worry about losing is my pictures and a few keepsakes. I am in the process of storing pictures digitally on sd cards and flash drives. They will go in the bank safety deposit box while I keep a duplicate.

There will be no floods at my home because I am on a plateau and the neighborhood is elevated, AND I am on a high spot there.

Okay, fire is my fear.

My only prep is some food and one gallon of water in the house. The water situation will be remedied this week. I can last longer than one week, food wise.

My car contains a backpack from a yard sale with some food, two changes of clothing, two hand towels and two washcloths. I have real utensils and two stainless steel tall cups. I forgot what two bowls or plates are in there. I am just one, but if I find someone to pair up with, I am prepared. Or, if someone insists on taking from me, hopefully I can keep one set of eating utensils.

The backpack contains a windup radio and flashlight. Both are cheap and from yard sales. When I first heard about tuna can stoves, I made two and some fire starters.

My backpack stays in the car. How useful will my preps be? I don't know. My preparations are certainly not complete.

I know how to cut all electricity and water off outside the house.

If disaster strikes where will I be? I don't know. But, I am marginally prepared, in some areas more so than other areas. I am alone. While that may sound grim, it's not. I don't have to take care of children or someone elderly. If I half tried, I could find a partner in

Preparedness should be for three eventualities--short term, moderate term, and long term. Short term would be overnight to one week. A moderate length of time is several weeks or months. Long term would indicate to me that a whole new lifestyle would emerge as the norm.

In either of the three cases, knowledge and prior preparation will be the key to survival. What do you need? Food and water, shelter, and warmth (tent, house, clothing, bedding).

Once I heard a man on an Internet video (LDS maybe) talk about how people planned to survive and eat in case of a disaster. He said the grocery store, relatives, neighbors, the government, and God were not the answers. We all need to take charge of how we survive and how those dependent on us survive. No, I am not a serious, long term type prepper who owns a gun, a bunker, a forest garden, and stashed survival gear with ammo. But, that all sounds good to me. Religion, fear, or paranoia does not drive me. It does not matter what drives a person to be prepared, just prepare.

I wanted a treadle sewing machine when I was eighteen-years-old in case there were a long period with no electricity. I felt and still feel the same way about a hand-operated can opener. I don't face life with fear, only uncertainty about basic areas. Skills, even for a short-term could make the difference in misery and relative comfort or even life and death. I have toyed with the idea of a solar oven.

Radiation is the most troublesome area in Japan. Then, there is the problem of food, shelter, and warmth. But, if any of the people had a solar oven and something to put in it, survival would be enhanced. Weak people cannot walk to safety or help themselves. I hope not to be weak or desperate in any situation.

Sanitation is surely at a standstill. Disease will follow quickly. Would you be prepared to keep your family healthy?

People in Japan do not grocery shop like we do. Daily shopping is more the norm. Obviously, shopping daily won't provide much of a buffer if the food supply is disrupted. Even the most prepared person who lost a home to the sea is not any better off than a person who did NOT store food.

Having a plan for disaster is as important for a household as having plans for our daily living. I don't have much of a plan, but it is a plan. Somehow, this all seems like a ramble.

Your turn
Are you prepared for short term, moderate term, or long term survival? Has the turn of events in Japan caused you to rethink your own survival of a similar situation? Do you think you need to learn more skills?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Head first into chicken poop

Face plant
Yes, and I got a mouthful. Not nice. Not funny. It is not a pretty picture today, but this is my world today.

Chicken chores
As usual, I put the cage with three chickens from inside the house onto the porch, went to get their breakfast and water, and fed them in their pen. As usual, I locked them in the pen for a bit. Thelma was already on the nest before I got there with their food.

An hour or so later as usual I went out to let the girls out in the yard and collect any eggs. I put the one egg in my pocket and decided I had left a container from the day before. As I leaned over to retrieve it from behind their chair, a broken plastic one, I leaned on the chair. Bad mistake. The chair arm broke as I barely leaned on it. The momentum of bending over kept me going. The other hand was outstretched with the container in it.

Bad, bad form
I fell on my face in about 10" of leaves that had been thoroughly pecked and scratched by the hens. As I fell forward, my mouth was open in surprise and letting out a little "ooof." Yes, my mouth was open when I hit the ground face-first. Immediately, I spat out leaves. When I got up, I shook out my hair, spitting leaves all the time.

I cannot believe I ate this stuff
My hands were filthy, so I hated to put fingers in my mouth to rake more bits out. I shook my hair one last time before coming in. By this time, I was crunching stuff in my teeth. Nasty! I washed my hands and brushed my teeth. As I looked at my teeth, I could see blackness in my teeth.

My clothes were filthy. At least I had not yet bathed, brushed my teeth, or combed my hair for the At least I am grateful as I crawled around, trying to get up that my clothing was already in need of a wash.

Pth..pth...thirty minutes later, I still have bits of poopy leaves in my mouth. Under the top layer of leaves, it is dirt and mulch sized pieces! Eeeek! I actually quit worrying about radiation!

Your turn
Anyone had a mouth of freshly-turned-by-chickens-leaves/mulch/dirt in your mouth today or ever?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Making a fruit picker and checking on my future fruit

pear blossoms
Just checking on my fruit
The blossoms are from the tree where I picked 250 pounds of free pears. I am sure the low-hanging fruit here will not be around for me to pick since people inevitably pick the easiest fruit first. So do I. The fruit is ready to pick when I see the first pear on the ground. I use a fruit picker that cost me $12.95+tax.

At this instructable site you can see the orange head, just like the one on my picker. My long extension pole comes apart. 

Mango picker
This is another design that will work for other fruits, I am sure. However, the fingers that go around the stem of the pear and grip the pear so I can pull are very important.

Screw-on fruit picker
Here is another picture of the kind of fruit picker I have.

My problems
The pole comes in two pieces. The head is attached to one piece of the pole with a hose-clamp type clamp. It will come off, but I don't want to lose the screws, so it stays on. However, it won't fit in the trunk and must ride in the back seat.

Also, there is a small piece of hardware that connects the two pole pieces. I lost the screw the first day. Plus, I need a screwdriver or something to assemble and disassemble. I solve this problem by purchasing a wing nut and bolt or washer, whatever it is. It, too, will be easy to lose, so I bought two and keep the extra in the console. If all else failed, you lose the wing nut, and are ready to pick, a piece of wire would easily keep it in place.

My last problem is my problem. I picked so many pears at one time and hoisted them down several pears at one time. Then, I had a "frozen shoulder" for several days. Obviously, I am not active enough. It only took several weeks for the severe pain and stiffness to go away. The pears were worth the pain.

Extending the reach
With my fruit-picker, I can reach 17' from the ground, easily. I am 5'8." Of course, there were more pears on the top, but I won't get a longer pole just to get those. My shoulder could not stand it.

My choice
I had never even thought about making a picker because at the time I did not think I could safely make one. I highly encourage anyone to NOT follow my lead and buy one. In my case and maybe in your case, buying was the more prudent road to take.

Your turn
Do you have a fruit picker? Fruit to pick? What kind of fruit? I wish we could trade! Have you ever made a fruit picker?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chickens are useful pets

Spa Time
Fancy, Thelma, and Louise are taking a well-deserved dust bath after their day as a useful pet. Louise is the redhead on the left. Thelma is the blonde in the middle. Fancy is the two-tone with streaks on the right.

Yes, chickens are useful pets as this author from Mobile, Alabama points out. Are you convinced yet?

Your turn
After reading the article in the link, are you convinced? Or, if you have chickens, do you agree?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kitty and Blossoms and Men Who Mow

The life of a hunter is hard. Someone's beautiful, fluffy, yellow cat spent the night in the raccoon trap. Well, it is a live trap, so it is okay, but I only want raccoons. I have never seen an animal move as fast as this cat when it shot out of the trap.

Several years ago, a friend shared Vinca with me. The soil was not ammended or dug up. I just stuck the shared Vinca with roots into shallow hollows and hoped for the best. Oh, I watered it until it was apparent it was going to live without me.  Vinca is also called creeping myrtle and the flowers are periwinkles.

Men Who Mow
It is difficult to make some people understand. I forgot who I had mow. I pointed to the vinca and said, "I like that. I want that. Don't mow it." He nodded in assent, and muttered that he would not mow it down.

As I walked away, he started my mower and mowed the vinca down first. I sighed and went into the house. For seven years Men Who Mow mowed it down regularly, whether it was the first or tenth time to mow my yard.

Last year, Men Who Mow did not return to rake the lawn, just promised all winter. Leaves don't leave on their own. I fretted all winter, Finally, I asked a friend to help me. He raked the part he had time for while he was here. Today, I found a great surprise.

 Vinca in the leaves
After I set Kitty free, I walked around the yard a bit and found tiny blossoms. Lovely. For three years they have not been mown. And, they spent the winter under shelter of leaves.

Mind you, I started with three tiny sprigs instead of going to the nursery and buying enough pots to give them a good start at filling in this area between the driveway and fence.

Vinca is supposed to be a vigorous grower. Until this year, I think my Vinca did not understand. At least, it is deer-resistant if I have an invasion of deer

The forsythia or yellow bells are in full bloom. In the country people often have these along property lines and along fences. I planted one about 30 years ago. It is overgrown this year because I did not prune it. After a good soaking rain in the spring I have broken the canes and stuck about a dozen in the ground in an area about six inches in diameter, hoping some would sprout. Most do. So, I paid for one plant and have gotten many.

Lactose producer
The flowers are unusual because they produce lactose. I wonder if these are edible or useful to man.

Redbud tree

Redbud tree
Taken on a different day with fabulous blue skies is one of my redbud trees. These trees are along edges of woods, looking like lace trim on the edges of a table cloth.

That's what's happening in my yard today.

Your turn
Is your yard beginning to look more like spring?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Substitution 101--many small economies

Look Good?
Cinnamon swirl toast with butter? No, it is garbage-can-rescued cinnamon swirl toast with chicken fat. My hens eat anything.

Reading other blogs
Dmarie at Better me, Better world spoke of many small economies. I asked her if I could borrow and use the phrase. She generously gave me permission and promised not to sue me.

My goal
My blog is all about the many small economies that I practice to make my life not only manageable but better. Yes, I do have a conscience and use it to buy and use my resources, even if it's chicken fat from my cooking and bread my friend brought me from the garbage at work.

I don't feel the need to purchase things to solve all my needs, wants, and problems. Usually, I can figure out a way to not spend. I had rather spend on things I want or when I cannot find a make-do solution. Make-do solutions are not always about lack of money. They are small economies. And, we all want to live economically, right?

Back to the chicken food
Normally, they are NOT fed white bread. But, they love raisins and cinnamon. I didn't want to waste the chicken fat. Hens need fat in their diet. I had already melted about a half cup of fat on the bread. It is all soaked, top to bottom, four slices deep or more on the two back stacks and put in the oven for a few minutes while something else was baking. This plate of food will last one week. Plus, I have more fat for another week of food.

Powdered sugar in oatmeal instead of granulated sugar
One day, the sugar canister needed a refill; my oats were piping hot; I was hungry. I grabbed the granulated cane sugar canister and faced disappointment. Five pounds were still on the shelf, but I wanted sugar now, while the oats were hot. Then, the Confectioner's sugar came to mind and into sight and saved breakfast. I rarely use confectioner's sugar except at Christmas, so why save it until next year, especially when I have four boxes? I was ill this year and baked so little! Probably a cup of confectioner's sugar will be enough for the whole other 50 weeks. I have four pounds.

Maybe powdered sugar would be good in coffee. I know it is great sprinkled over French toast. It would suit me on pancakes.

If I had needed to purchase more granulated sugar, this might have called for a trip to the store. I might have had to do without sugar until I could go to purchase more.

There is no particular hurry to consume all the confectioner's sugar. It is stored in glass canning jars, safe from pests or moisture. The used canning lids still keep the jar pestproof and airtight. As soon as I refilled the canister, I resumed eating granulated cane sugar in my oats.

Table salt instead of ice cream salt
One 4th of July, I did not want to pay the cost of more ice cream salt. I still had a smidgen from the last 4th of July. If I bought more, I would have leftovers for a year. (Like biscuits and gravy or syrup and pancakes, it never comes out even.)  Okay, I had the money for rock salt and had ample storage space. My parsimony kicked in and I took a chance. I used table salt.  How wrong can homemade ice cream be if I substitute the salt? For the last 20 years, no one has complained.

Tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of milk instead of buttermilk
Many people already make this substitution. It is so easy when you need buttermilk for anything you bake. Lemon juice works, too. I never measure.

Save twist ties
No, you will not be hoarding. I use these for temporary fixes until I get around to a permanent fix. Twist ties kept some chicken wire together. I wrapped one around the neck of the marshmallow bag the other day.

Use elastic instead of a rubberband
I took a scrap of sewing elastic about a foot long and tied a square knot in it to make the large rubberband that I needed. (square knot: right over left; left over right) Then, I used it to hold together a rice bag where I had folded down the top. When I got through with the elastic, I threw it in the drawer with rubberbands and twist ties. All the rubber bands were too small to loop around the rice bag, top to bottom, so the folded-down bag would stay folded down. Even used elastic, removed from a garment can be used to make a giant rubberband.

Normally, I would never refer to one foot of elastic as a scrap. I would sew it onto a larger piece for use in another garment.

I went to a local fabric store and discovered they use bands of elastic to keep bolts of fabric looking neat. And, I thought I had discovered a new use for elastic besides using on a garment!

Clothes pin or binder clip instead of buying chip clips
I wrote about this in another blog post. Decorate the clothes pin if you like. I use mine plain. A friend uses large binder clips at his house. I discussed this in another post. Another friend buys huge rubberbands...eeeek, the cost. Oh, yes, the money I save...yay.

Other benefits
Having thought about my many small economies on other occasions, I decided it is not all about saving money. It is about using my mind instead of money to solve problems. The creative process is likely to save money, but saving money is not the whole purpose, always. I am fulfilled. I am proud. My creativity has served me well. I did it myself. Mindlessly spending money is not satisfying to me. I am proud of my accomplishments.

Your turn
Does it thrill you to substitute a less expensive item or an item on hand for one you would have to buy? Okay, I am easily thrilled. Are you proud when you use your ingenuity or follow the lead of someone else to save money and accomplish a job yourself?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sweet potato up a tree...huh?

Look right in the center of the picture. See the sweet potato?

See it now?

I threw out a sweet potato for the hens. It keeps them occupied for a portion of the day where I can see them. They were enjoying it. The sweet potato was about nine inches long and weighed at least a pound. It had been out near the side porch for two days. Then, I went outside and it was no longer there. No problem. I opined silently that a squirrel made off with it and quickly forgot it. .

Several hours later, I was approaching the side door from the back yard. This sweet potato caught my eye...up in the tree. It is maybe twenty-feet high. That squirrel has one strong jaw. Last year, I spied an apple there, right in the same spot.

In order to take the picture I had to stand looking almost straight up, so it was difficult to be still and not sway, plus the wind was very strong.

From my 120 lbs of sweet potatoes, I share with the hens. They get a whole sweet potato to work on for about a week. Since I never buy them chicken food, they eat some of my sweet potatoes. When a potato looks funky and about to spoil, hens get it. If it is moldy (rarely), I won't give it to them.

That is a hickory nut tree in which the sweet potato is perched. Behind it is an oak tree. I think you can see a bit of the neighbor's house to the left of the picture.

When summer comes, food of any kind in the yard will just draw flies, so for now, I was enjoying watching them eat a vegetable that is very good for them.

Your turn
Do wild or domesticated animals carry food around your yard or up trees?

Drying, drying, drying, keep those fruits a drying....

9-Tray Large-Excalibur with 26 hour Timer #3926T
Okay, so it is not here yet. But, a friend is giving me one for a gift. Yessirree! It is an Excalibur. It has a thermostat and a 26 hour timer.

It should be soooo much easier to preserve fruits and vegetables this way. Of course, freezing and canning won't be eliminated entirely.

At Publix, a store here in the South, there is a very expensive dried vegetable snack in the deli that I want to try to duplicate. I cannot afford to buy it, but I have tasted the dried mixture. Everything is all crispy. Mine may not be the same mix of vegetables or the same flavor, but it will be delicious, I know. I want to put some of the dehydrated fruit in a mix that will work for soup, all the things I like and use in my soup.

Even if I freeze some dehydrated fruit, I can use less freezer real estate for dried fruit. I am not entirely comfortable with the fact that it will not mold.

The cheap, $39 Walmart dehydrator that I owned actually scorched some things on the same tray with other items that were still soft and moist. Having a thermostat and timer should solve this problem. Plus, they are sending a book on dehydrating. It did dry zucchini slices to potato-chip-crispiness. Lots of my time was spent rotating trays and rotating food on the trays.

Free fruit or vegetables can be saved and preserved more easily. One year, I picked 250 lbs of pears. Free. I really despise pears! Maybe dried pears will be more palatable. Last year, the hens ate  most of the pears. One year, I made pear preserves and pear sauce. (Like applesauce) Pear sauce is good; pear preserves is delicious.

Dehydrating eggs is one of my goals. People keep warning me that the eggs need to be pasteurized. My thoughts are that if I handle the dried eggs like I do fresh or frozen eggs (like raw chicken), that I will be safe.

Options like sun-drying or drying in the car are there, I know.

The free instructional videos are great and inspiring. Drying sweet potatoes? Well, I have some of the 120 pounds left!

Your turn
Does anyone have any experience with the Excalibur dehydrator? Has anyone dried eggs? Do you have any positive or negative experiences to share?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dealing with gas prices: little book, etc

Rising gas prices
Last year, I put myself on a gasoline diet. I determined I was only going to spend $20 each week on gas, no matter what! With the rise in gas prices, this is going to be rough. However, my resolve has not weakened on this decision. Parsimony will serve me well. So, maybe you call it cheap or frugal?

Little book
I have a day planner that I can use, but other items are in there. Doctor appointments, hair appointments, things that don't need to clutter a book about money spent. It had to be small and thin to fit into my purse. The perfect book appeared, a perfect little book only 20 pages thick. The cover is plastic. The pages are like a little book with staples in the centerfold. My plan is to make the inside next year and use the plastic cover if it holds up.

Recorded gas purchase
On Tuesday, March 1, I bought $20 of gas, received 6.06 gallons, and paid $3.29/gallon. This record is a hard and firm reminder of what I am doing with gasoline and my money. Correction: I paid $3.29 for gasoline, not $2.29! I wish.

Recorded food expenditures
On March 2, I took $100 and put it in a change purse for groceries this month. I have another $50 to use also. I have not recorded my food purchases for the remainder of the week. But, the receipts are inside the little plastic cover. Even if I don't record the food purchases, I will still stop buying food when I run out of money in the little zippered, red, leather coin purse where I keep grocery money.

Recorded sales
My goal is to make at least $50 from items I sell. The items can be antiques, my stuff I don't want or need, or things I buy to sell. One person exclaimed that my goals were certainly low. No, I want attainable goals. I cannot sell or haul things around all the time. So far, I have sold and recorded $120 of items from my house in the first two months of the year.  That makes me $20 into March goals. I need to sell another $30 of my things to meet the goal for March.

It is so easy to forget things, so I want to be certain I have a backup for my memory.

Writing on the 22nd is bleed-through. I will use a different pen.

Not driving
I am not working, so this is attainable. I go out when the traffic is lightest during the day. That way, I don't have to sit through too many lights. I went to the bank and immediately drove to the outside window--no waiting. I turned off the car for the duration of the transaction. If there were a line, I would have gone inside. I can also go late at night for some things, avoiding traffic altogether.

Just stay home?
I will get cabin fever this way! Seriously, I need to be out some. However, I talked to a friend to determine when their church has a game night. In the meantime, she told me a mutual friend had lost her husband. She wants us to get together and play Monopoly at the mutual friend's home. Or, was it Scrabble. I like both. It's a long drive (8 miles), but will keep my urge to go anywhere at bay.

Since I need a major car repair, going to visit friends in Huntsville or Birmingham has not been prudent.

Yes, I can invite friends over and have plans.

Drive prudently
I never make jackrabbit starts from red lights, and try to time lights so I can roll up to them without using the gas and then the brakes for the last ten feet. If you think about it, you, like I, can plan routes to avoid congested areas, known time-wasters. Since I live in a small town (19,000), I can drive in a sane manner and not have someone shoot me. I try to move at a steady pace instead of repeatedly using the gas too much only to have to slam on the brakes. I have always driven this way.

I know, I know
The gas will evaporate if I don't fill it each time. Yes, and it will disappear if I get too cocky, thinking I have gas and blow it too soon. We all need markers. This is mine. $20 in the tank....  At some point, I might start putting in $40 every two weeks. But, I really like the idea of keeping the schedule weekly. Plus, the hand moving to E on the gauge will be a deterrent to driving.

The book will keep me on course and honest and in the black.

Other modes of transportation
We have no mass transit. I don't have a bike and am not sure I could ride it for the length of time. I would need to even if it were safe and possible. Sidewalks are not consistent. Riding or walking in weeds, mud, or without a shoulder are some of the choices.  The town is not walkable. This town has two major highways intersecting it. I can walk to boutiques, the courthouse, and attorneys' offices. If I could walk that far, I could walk to the farmer's market--5 blocks.

Batching car chores
I already do this, but will have to redouble my efforts. Some days I do go out for one chore and later drive for another. No more.

Your turn
Do you have a new or creative way to handle the rising gas prices? How do you handle the situation?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Plastic Milk Carton Mini Greenhouses

I sat down here to take this picture because the hens would be in the frame. No, they are shy today. This was the third time I tried to get them into the post. They don't move farther away, just to one side or the other. I tried.

One of the blogs I follow has a great idea. For my purposes, I think I will put in some little cells to germinate plants. Maybe I will follow her video. I might put seeds into the pots where I intend my basil to grow, just using each jug for one largish pot and plant. Since I have only managed to save about six jugs from milk and vinegar since I saw this, I may change my mind about the one-plant-per-jug idea I had.

Green and Groovy has a  video posted for making greenhouses from milk jugs. Okay, check it out and come right back. There is another video where a guy uses huge and expensive tools for the horizontal cut and the and the drain holes. I used a single edged razor and a steak knife. I could have used either, but I switched to see which was easier. Both work fine. If I can cut with my hands hurting and think it is easy, it will be easy for any of you.

First step
So far, cutting one jug is the extent of my preparations.  There is one short video showing a guy using monster, expensive clips and a hot tool...forgot what it was. I used a single-edged razor blade but could have used a simple utility knife. Maybe I used and old steak knife for the horizontal cut and the holes in the bottom. I intend to cover the whole bottom of the pot with cloth so no dirt will fall out. But, that's just me.

Another idea
This may be an old idea. I saw it 20+ years ago. My neighbor who was 94 cut bottoms from milk jugs to use over her tender plants when a frost was imminent. Just take the bottomless jug and press and twist it to get it just a bit into the ground. It worked. Now, if I had just saved more than a half dozen milk and vinegar jugs!

Your turn
Has anyone used this method? Do you have seeds germinating now, using any method?

Parsimonious comfort food from my childhood

The past aromas
Two weeks ago, I made a scrumptious dish I have never made. My mother made the last I ever ate, before 1981. Delicious Chicken and Dumpling was on my mind all week. Last week, I bought several packs of boneless, skinless breasts. When I brought them home, they went into the big freezer. Older packs of chicken and a hen came to the refrigerator freezer. I knew the destiny of the hen.

March 8, 2011--My mother would have been 90 years old.

Cooking from the aromas of the past
I had a problem. I could smell the chicken and dumplings as they cooked and were served to me in the past. But, I knew nothing about how to cook the pot of food I wanted. The idea swirled through my consciousness for a few days. I adamantly refused to look online for a recipe. Finally, I decided that the first thing Mama did was to boil the chicken. The reason I did not look for a recipe on the internet was silly--I did not want to read a recipe with anything as fancy as onion or garlic included.

Salt and pepper were the only seasonings I remembered. The olfactory memory was really strong for a week. Got it: boil a chicken, whole, in water seasoned with salt and pepper. Right now, I can see Mama, standing in the kitchen, pulling the chicken meat from the hen, still hot and very tasty smelling. YUMMY. I could actually taste them. That thirty-year-old memory was strong.

After thinking about the pot of food yet to be cooked, in my mind's eye I saw the water, now white with the flour from the dumplings. For a while I had considered using a can of biscuits from the store. The lack of the dusting of flour would not make a semi-thick, white broth.

If my life were in the balance, I could not make a decent biscuit from my memory. Even with a recipe, the biscuits I make are just all wrong. My Better Homes recipe book yielded two dumpling recipes. Both were drop recipes. One recipe was from Bisquick. I decided to make the one that was not from Bisquick. RATS! It calls for oil. So, instead I just put in some Crisco that I did not use at Christmas. Christmas baking is the only time I use Crisco.

The pastry blender cut the Crisco into the flour mixture. Success. This dumpling dough was so coming together. I spread a dish towel and dumped a bunch of flour on it. I was so surprised I remembered how to make crust or biscuits. When I rolled out the dough and cut the strips, it was working for me.

The chicken was in a dish, cooling, waiting for me to take the chicken meat off the bone. Chicken is done for dumplings when all the chicken meat falls from the bones. The broth had been strained through a fine wire colander. I dropped the strips of dough into the pot of boiling broth. Each step I took, I felt more confident. Of course, I was really nervous when the dough starting billowing and there was lots of flour coming off the dumplings. Eventually, the dough was done and the broth was thickened by the flour. I placed the chicken I had pulled off the bone into the pot of cooked dumplings.

Chicken and dumplings recipe
Boil hen (in water, salt, pepper)until it falls from bone (easier to get off)
Salt: about 1 tsp
Pepper: two shakes of shaker
Take chicken from broth
Into boiling water, drop dumplings one at a time.
Move the cooking dumplings over so you can drop one dumpling at
a time into a place in the pot with just broth.
Cook about 12 to 15 minutes. (I started timing when I dropped in the last dumpling.)

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp Crisco or other solid shortening
1/2 cup milk

In bowl put four, salt and soda
Stir with fork
Add Crisco; cut flour and Crisco with pastry mixer or fork
Add milk, stir
Place 1/2 cup flour on smooth dish towel (not terry)
spread flour on towel
put dough in the middle of flour
put flour from the towel onto the dough
roll to 1/4 inch thickness
Cut each strip into two pieces
Boil in broth for about 15 minutes
Put chicken back into the broth and dumplings
It is ready to serve.

Comfort food
My comfort food will be on the menu more often. I almost cried when I ate it. It reminded me of my mother. I had never eaten chicken and dumpling made by anyone but my mother. And, from now on I will never eat chicken and dumplings made by anyone but me.

Cooking for the week
Not only do I have chicken and dumplings for 4 more days, I have one of the breasts to use in green salad with tomatoes or a chicken sandwich with salads greens. The hens have at least enough scraps for four more days.

Frugal eating
Chicken: $0; flour, salt, baking powder: negligible (okay, $0.25); 4 oz milk: $0.09. I did figure out the cost of a cup of milk. I just don't want to bother with the cost of dry ingredients. Hmmm, cost of electricity--I don't know. Without figuring the cost of electricity, my cost of this main dish was about $0.34 divided by five meals=about $0.09 per meal. Add the cost of half a can of turnip greens, and the meal cost about $0.50 each. If you are paying full price for the hen, the cost is about $0.90 per serving. The cost of the whole meal depends on the the vegetables you serve.

Actually, there is a whole breast left, enough for two more meals, maybe more. So, the cost of the meal meat for two more meals brings down the cost per serving considerably.

Added bonus
I know I sound spoiled and picky. The breast is the only meat from a chicken that passes though my lips...except when it is in dumplings. This is a big win for me.

There is no memory of what we ate with the chicken and dumplings. I tried to bring it back. Maybe turnip greens? Daddy probably wanted some kind of beans. Anyway, I opened a can of turnip greens. Later, I ate the last of the blackeyed peas.

Just imagine
Why would anyone dump biscuits in chicken and water? So, the woman had a chicken from the yard and a bit of flour. Making biscuits is a possibility. She can serve chicken with biscuits. No oven? Just cook the biscuits in the pot with the chicken. Ooooh, now we have "gravy." The whole meal is cooked in one pot over the wood fire.

Your turn
Does anyone remember chicken and dumplings fondly from childhood? What is your favorite comfort food from your childhood?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gotcha! Now, you die!

about 30+ pounds
 Okay, animal control officer just came and transferred Mr. Coon to his truck and said about 25 lbs, if he had to guess.

The rock foundation is NOT that green!

It is hard to see the real size of this raccoon. Now, I have one less raccoon tormenting me and trying to kill the hens.

fur evidence of the exit

This is where they broke the screen going under my house.

Is Thelma broody or actually laying an egg?

As I went inside after taking the pictures, I found this blissful sight. Thelma is inside the Rubbermaid box, either laying an egg or just being broody. Update: Thelma laid an egg. Someone did.

Just in case you are feeling sad for the raccoon and think I am hard-hearted, it is against the law in the State of Alabama to relocate a raccoon. It is also the law that a captured raccoon must be put to death. "Euthanize" makes you feel better? Okay, whatever.

Your turn
Are your hens being picked off one by one by a predator? Is any of your livestock being murdered? Have you seen or captured a predator at your little urban or rural homestead? See why I need a predator-proof chicken pen/cage?

Size DOES matter!

All funnels are not equal
I have had the aluminum funnel on the left for over 35 years. It has served me well. Someone gave me an identical one, so that I have two of these now. As you can see, I have shut the drawer on it dozens too many times. Even bent, it works.

New acquisition
I have seen the larger funnel on the Internet. Yesterday, I saw one in a locally owned store. It had the exorbitant price of $7.98. I swallowed hard and bought two, the last two. This will be my one purchase outside of gas and food for mad

Not really. Before I had two small funnels, I was having to stop and wash a funnel when I accidentally poured jelly so it ran down the outside of the funnel as well as inside. Sometimes that mistake resulted in jelly on the counter fronts and the floor. So, having a wider tool that makes my job less arduous in terms of less work and time means a lot to me.

More pressing use
As I pour beans, rice, pecans, and oats into half-gallon canning jars, I find that the stream is often too wide for the smaller funnels, resulting in slower work or oats on the floor and counters. Of course, I give all that to the hens. But, I would rather not have to sweep the floor after and overflow.

Old aluminum--4 inches vs new stainless steel--5.5 inches. Plus, the flare of the larger bowl helps contain the rapid stream of things like beans and oats. Unfortunately, the wider and more flared bowl of the funnel helped me to overfill! But, I would rather learn that on dry items than sticky liquids.

By the way, the diameter of both the smaller ends, the mouth, is the same. So, the larger funnel fits in all my canning jars just like the smaller funnel does. It may be difficult to determine this in the picture.

Age and experience
Of course, my experience with canning and homemaking makes things easier for me. But, as I age and injured hands are harder to compensate for, it helps to have the handiest tool I can find.

Your turn
Have you acquired a new tool that makes your canning or other work easier?