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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DIY Casket: Cottage Industry?

Natural Pine Solid Wood Casket
Pine Casket-$1,095

Is that a ridiculous price? Out of your range? Mine too. I chose the cheapest one I could see to post for you. Some were $3,000. I am sure there are other more expensive ones that were on other sites or other pages of this site.

After reading about a long worm bin and the resemblance to a coffin, I started thinking. Actually, the rectangular worm bin resembles a casket. That led me to thinking about my own death. LOL No, not morbid thoughts, just parsimonious thoughts: I could build my own casket. It does not have to be as fancy as the one above. And, it does not have to have the curved top. I would prefer a flat top. There is no law concerning the plain or fancy aspect of your coffin or the materials.

I am not suggesting you make caskets at home and sell them at craft shows. Only one casket is all you need to make.

Of course, cremation, under the right set of circumstances would work. So, considering that option, let's just continue on the casket-building idea!

Seriously, how much do caskets cost? See the one at the head of this post? I only know that the cost is too much. Often, children are guilted into buying something nicer. Caskets are bought at a time when emotions, guilt and sorrow, are high. People want to do what is right. So.....

Why not build your own casket and save the children or persons in charge of your funeral undue agonizing about what to spend? Okay, so maybe you have paid for all this ahead of time and the children only have to attend the viewing and funeral. Well, this post is not for you.

I know what you are thinking: I don't know how. What will I do with that huge box in the meantime? Isn't that rather morbid? I don't want to look at it. The children and grandchildren will freak out.

You can always take a class at a junior college where all you have to do is order the boards through the college or bring your own. They supply everything else. Choose the wood you prefer. You can get oak plywood with the grain already there. You can stain it to look like oak. Paint the casket.

There are pieces of fancy wood cutouts that can be glued in place before the stain or painting. I see these at craft stores and hardware stores. I am quite sure they are for architectural and furniture use, not caskets.

You need handles? Sure. Order them online. I got 11 Swagbucks for searching for "where to order casket handles." Your choice of prices will help you decide what to buy. I think even properly applied rope handles would be appropriate for some caskets.

You need to make a lining? That information is online. Shirring is not necessary for the fancy inside. You can choose your own materials. If you want to be buried in your jeans, a denim casket lining would be perfect. My grandmother was buried in a nightgown, so a flannel lining to the casket would have been more appropriate than satin and cheaper. Your imagination and familiarity with what you want will lead you to paths of your own. Use Swagbucks search to find out how to line the casket. I did. It's easy.

In the meantime you can use the casket for holding your fabric; use it for a bench, just anything you want. The batting may get mashed so it won't be as soft and pillowy on the inside. That can be avoided by not gluing down the cardboard with batting for the bottom. Stand it against the inside of the casket. Let the relatives do it.

Maybe you should put this casket in the will or someone will go pay thousands of dollars for a casket, ignoring verbal wishes.

Like I said, cremation is a good idea, less costly, and more green. But, caskets are all I am considering right now in this post.

I earned Swagbucks each time I searched a term. So, should I let you go make your Swagbucks or give you the sites? Okay, this is one of many sites that tells how to make a casket. There are many other sites.

Do you want an old-fashioned coffin, large at the shoulders and narrow at the feet? You can make one by searching on the internet.

Having a funeral at a church cuts down on the cost further. Have the viewing there, too. I don't know if it is legal in all states to have a funeral at home. Probably.

I won't go further and suggest a family member wash and dress the body, forgoing the embalming. But, all things are possible.

Inspiration for this post is My Big Fat Worm Bin at Root Simple. Kelly and Erik may be shocked how at how far my mind wandered.

Your turn
How nutty is this? Would you make your own casket if you could? I would. I will when I get another table saw and have better use of my left arm.  Would your family approve? Would it make them nervous?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weight loss challenge--I must win and other buk buk stuff

A car wash is on the line, folks. Last night, Mark and I weighed on my scales. I weighed 10 lbs more than I thought. So, can we make this 120 pounds I need to lose?  I would be happy with 100 lbs.

Mark suggested that we start with a smaller goal when I told him I wanted to lose the total amount, but start with a small goal. I wanted 25 pounds as the first goal. He suggested 10 pounds. So, 10 pounds is our first goal. Eating cheaply and well won't be a problem, although I am starting the first day with chicken and dumplings. I will counter that with loads of fiber.

We sat and thought a bit and finally figured what the other had to do for the winner. I asked for a car wash, which he readily agreed to do if I lost 10 pounds first. I cannot do all the bending, twisting and stooping that requires. He wants to hear music on my Victrola, really a Vitanola (knock off brand). But it is close to 100 years old and in excellent condition, so brands don't count much. Of course, I will allow him to hear music even if he loses. I just did not tell him that.

The reason I weighed 10 pounds more is that the last time I weighed a few weeks ago, I was naked and weighed first thing in the morning before I ate. I cannot weigh naked in front of him. Hypoglycemia won't allow me to do without food for very long.

Another yard sale find

Another glass lid that cost 50 cents

The lid is from a huge yard sale in October during Oktoberfest. I think it is from a crock pot/slow cooker because the edge of the lid is flat with no little protrusion/ridge around the part that touches a pot of skillet. Hopefully, it will not slide off an iron skillet. Remember the glass lid with the wooden knob? 

At some point, I will get rid of lids that don't fit well if I amass too many. Since I am going to sell some of the skillets, I may add a lid that fits in order to get more for the skillet or make it more

Chicken musings

"What is this about o holy night? It is frigid and damp."
"Fall on your knees? She is always talking about our not bending our knees. She thinks we can fall on our knees?"
"Tell me again--why is she playing music when we need to sleep?"
"Who's rudolph?"

My new camera
On December 1, I expect it to arrive. Until then, no new pics, no pics of life as it is now.

Your turn
Do you ever use glass lids on your iron skillets? Do you use iron skillets? Have you ever faced weight gain after an injury?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Favorite Christmas Songs

First of all, I make no distinction on my song list or in my mind what is the "real" meaning of Christmas. So, I won't entertain you with my thoughts. This is just a list of my favorite singles. If you only like songs/carols that are praise to a deity, feel free to post those. I will not chide you for your beliefs or choices, nor should anyone extoll the deity to whom these are directed or chide anyone else for personal choices or beliefs. This is not a post about respective ideologies! Respect that, please. This is just for fun, okay? I trust you.

On Thanksgiving Day I tuned in to 96.5 FM, Magic 96.5 Birmingham, knowing it would be all Christmas music from now on! So, Christmas songs are on my mind continually, as I sit here, typing and listening on my laptop.

This is by no means an exhaustive list or in any particular order. Aren't you glad it is not my whole list? I deleted some for brevity's sake.

Oh, Holy Night
Little Drummer Boy
Here Comes Santa Claus Gene Autry (video)
Silent Night
Happy Christmas (War is Over) Lennon version
Winter Wonderland
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
Santa, Baby
Baby, It's Cold Outside (Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton)
Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson) (Air Supply)
Silver Bells
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (I just cannot help it, but, surprisingly, I love the kookiness and red-neck words! especially the medicine)
Same Auld Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg)
Scarlet Ribbons
The Christmas Song
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (Bing Crosby)
Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton)
Winter Wonderland
Up on the Housetop
Frosty, the Snowman
Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano)
Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

I have found many people who say they have never heard of Scarlet Ribbons, a Christmas favorite of mine that obviously fallen out of disfavor as a Christmas song. No one seems to know the Dan Fogelberg song, either. Listen to what is said in the background of "War is Over." Oh, the links may have just the lyrics, but to the left there may be a button the hear the song. If not, you can google it if you really desire to hear it. You won't be disappointed, I hope.

Your turn
Are you as thrilled with Christmas songs as I am? Do they nauseate Does anyone listen to Christmas music exclusively for a month like I do? What are your favorite songs for Christmas? Merry Christmas!

Don't forget the read the first post today about Wendy's blog.

Got-to-read blog--2 posts today

I just admire Wendy so much. She lives in northern Ontario, hates cold/snow/ice. She manages to feed her family from garden and meat she raises, kills, and dresses, then processes. While I will probably never have the opportunity and hopefully not the need to get into raising beef, scooping up road-kill bear, I am still amazed at the processes. (Oh, the bear was still warm, I think, anyway it was just killed.

If you don't follow or read Little House in the Big Wood, try it at least once. You might be hooked as I am. The whole month of November has been about killing Steaks, their beef stock, aptly named. She always warns you when graphic pictures will be ahead. But, if you have ever seen the innards of an animal, you will be okay. Sometimes, I read it while I eat.

This woman deserves a gillion followers, and a gillion people need to at least see what she does. Most people can work rings around me. But, it is what she does that amazes me. Her father is a butcher, so she grew up with this and he can advise her. She is passing all this along to her four boys. She and her husband make a good team, as he is handy around the house and on the Although, one day, I think she was ON the barn.

Another post to follow this one in a few minutes. My door is wide open in 36 degree F weather. It is raining and I think the hens decided to quit pooping on the door mat and settle down in their cage! Finally!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Free Printer+advice

OFFICE HERO 6.1 printer dimensions 

Yes, you guessed it. I love FREE! My current printer, an HP, was given to me.  That is another story of my frugality and my friend's waste. Finally, the print heads wore out, I think. Actually, I could not get down far enough for long enough to clean them. I suspect from its behavior that the print heads would have to be replaced. It will still fax and copy and send to my computer if I plug it into my computer. I need to print!

Office Max had Kodak Hero 4-in-1 on sale for $99 on Black Friday and the Saturday afterwards. I had $63 in store credit from returning the cartridges that did not work. A $10 coupon further lowered the price:
$99-$73= $26+ tax~$36. My cartridge recycling credits for more than that have not kicked in. A friend lent me the money I lacked and he will use my credits in January when they become available. So, my need was for ~$36, still covered by recycled cartridge credit that will be available in January. That makes a free 4-in-1 for me! (Yes, I had spent money on cartridges 6 weeks ago, but since I did not have the receipt, it was store credit only.)

I have never had a wireless printer. So, this will be interesting. I cannot get it into the house, so I am at the mercy of waiting for the next person who comes by. Maybe Mark will come tomorrow. Charlie won't because he is going to put the chicken defense in place and will not work in the rain, naturally. Exbf will be here on Wednesday. sigh....sigh....

HP printers have served me well over the years. I bought my first in 1993 for grad school, black ink only. Then, when it played out in 2000, I bought another, color. In 2005 my friend who worked for an attorney called me and said she knew I could fix printers and computers and did I want the office 4-in-1 that quit after a year. I said sure and grabbed current beau and his truck. He was sooooo annoyed at me. He was annoyed he had to carry it to his truck. He was annoyed he had to carry it in the house.

Once it was inside, I plugged it up, turned it on and slapped a colored ad on the bed and printed---a color copy. I called her and asked her exactly what was wrong with the printer. "Well, when I turn it on, nothing happens, absolutely nothing, no lights come on.  (Attorney) could not get it to work, either."

When I informed her ten minutes after we picked it up that it worked perfectly so far and had power, and lights came on, she was flabbergasted, wanting to know what I did to make it work. "Plugged connection into printer and the power cord into an outlet." She gasped and told me NOT to ever tell the attorney.

When I questioned her about books or paper ever falling behind the printer, she recalled that a bunch of papers, a whole stack fell off the back. Yup, the plug was knocked out of the machine, just as I expected. The machine was only a year old. Lucky me. This is the same friend for whom I "worked on" her computer to bring it back to life. Can you guess what was the problem and how I fixed her computer? Exactly. I plugged in all cords into the back of the computer. I still don't know which connection was loose.

Oh, annoyed beau? He was soooo grateful for it when he decided to attend school. Yes, I reminded him of his extreme annoyance when I got the printer and insisted he carry it. He laughed at himself and told me he was angrier than he showed because he thought I was dragging home junk. 

Yesterday, At Office Max I could have bought an HP for the same price. I have no intention of printing photos, but I just made a decision after I hurt too much from walking about the store. The front has nice white, easy-to-see buttons!  HP did not. I hope I don't regret not purchasing another HP.

Fate of current 4-in1? A friend needs a fax machine to fax resumes. So, this will be his.

Advice? Make sure things are plugged into an outlet before you declare them broken.

Your turn
Have you ever replaced a printer or another item because it was not plugged in properly? Did anyone get a great printer deal in the Black Friday sales? Has anyone used a Kodak printer?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday: Can you say free?

My free red camera is on the way. It is a Kodak M23 Easy Share. I like low prices; I like sale prices; I love free. I am so parsimonious! Okay, I like inexpensive and good quality and great photo results. My photos online may not be as good as some, but I am superbly happy, like a pig in slop. Yeah, and it's red, too. See.....

Kodak EasyShare M23 14 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Red)

Yes, I am really low tech when it comes to cameras.  It pays to be happy with low-tech because it is cheap and Kodak seems to be good quality, unlike some cheaper off brands. My last Kodak Easyshare was priced $189, on sale for something like $70. I purchased it for $22 with the MaxPerks rewards I had built from turning in print cartridges at Office Max.

I sincerely hope this Kodak is as good as the last two. I seem to need a new one every 2 years! The first one was eating new batteries. I got one picture off a fresh set of batteries. The last one has a lens problem. It extends and retracts, making beeping noises. Ah well.

The new RED camera I will receive on December 1st was on sale for $69.99 at Office Max and also at Amazon. I don't have money or Max Perks Rewards, so I chose to use my Amazon cards. Altogether, I had earned $80 for just searching, $5 Amazon cards at a time.  Since I have not really gotten into any other method of earning Swagbucks, I had very few.

Office Max had only five Kodak M23 cameras for Black Friday, so I doubted I would get one. There is no way on earth that I would have gotten up in time to be close to the front of the line at 5 AM when they opened. Maybe later today, I will drop by and see. (Friday night, none where sold.) I could not have used SwagBucks at Office Max and would have had to use my MaxPerks gotten for recycling.

My newish Kodak SD card is 8GB. I paid the price for a 4GB because it was priced wrong. YAY me! Charlie said, "No way!" when I told him what I paid. He thought I was wrong, mistaken. Me? He lauded my finding one at the wrong price. Anyway, I won't be needing a new card ( no $$$) at the rate I take pictures.

Okay, my other $5 Swagbucks just disappeared???

The Swagbucks were saved for a Katadyn camping water filtering contraption, but that will have to wait. I mean--why have sanitary water in a water emergency when you have a red camera?

Your turn
Did you get anything on sale and free with swagbucks?

Friday, November 25, 2011

I had to buy eggs!

Yes, I with the faithful hens who laid eggs for over two years had to buy eggs! I kept eating them and feeding them to my hens. It all boiled down to one egg on Wednesday night. So, at the 11th hour, literally, I went out to buy eggs.

The hens did not fail me. It is not their fault. I don't get up early to let them out to take advantage of early sun. They don't have water in their cage those few hours. Plus, last night at 4 PM, they were headed to their cage beside the door. Also, they have not been fed enough protein the last few weeks. They have laid faithfully for two years and their prompt, daily, egg-laying days are most likely over. But, I expect they are capable of laying more eggs each day if I can get conditions right for them.

When their hen defense is complete (hopefully, next Monday), they will become more reliable layers once again. When they cease to lay, they will be pets. I will limp by this winter on what they lay. Next year, I will give a broody hen eggs to incubate. It seems they all try to be broody, sitting all day on eggs if I allow them. Hopefully, I will never have to have baby chicks in the house again. But, I will if I must. Actually, I kept them in here too long.
Compare the sizes: my hens laid the brown egg

This brown egg is one of the smaller eggs my hens lay. It belongs to Fancy. The egg on the right, the white egg came from the carton of Large Eggs.The white egg is a commercial large egg.  I always wondered how my eggs compared to store eggs in size. Look at the same eggs in the picture below.

Hopefully, when the hen security is set, they will get more than 7 or 8 hours of daylight. I suppose I am lucky to get any eggs at all.

Your turn
Do you have hens who are laying? Have you had a chance to compare your eggs with store-bought eggs? If you are planning on getting hens, see what you have in store? I think that is a drastic difference, don't you?

Thanksgiving 2011

Virginia and Bob
I was talking to a friend I have known for 20 years. When he asked what I was doing and where I was going for Thanksgiving, I told him I would be here, by myself. A few minutes after we hung up, he called me back, saying his girlfriend, riding in the car with him said I should come to his sister's house.
Since I did not make the chocolate pound cake yesterday, I got up this morning and made three. One for Bob and Virginia, one for the dessert table today, and the other for me.
adorable baby--concentrating on elimination
Blogger decides where on the post to put pictures lately.

Add caption
Hostess gift

From my stash of gifts, I decided to give the hostess a set of cards. Since they are blank inside, these can be used for many occasions. The cards and envelopes, 10 each, cost me about 10 cents. The ribbon is leftover from something else, satin cloth ribbon, not paper ribbon. The gift did not get wrapped since I was in a hurry and could not locate proper wrap in my stash at a glance. I was tired before I Hmm, the borrowed camera puts dates as it pleases, apparently! The picture was taken as the cards rested inside the basket where my pound cake was lying as I carried it to my destination.

The plan was for me to meet Bob and V at Arby's and they would lead me elsewhere in Birmingham or just pick me up and take me, returning me to my car later. I thought Bob said "quarter to eleven." No, it was "quarter after eleven." I arrived at "twenty to eleven" so I would not keep them waiting.

In the meantime, I had to go to the bathroom. Arby's was not open, so I had to walk next door to McDonald's, which was open.  After I got back to the car, hunger struck. I scrounged around for money. Nope. I had wayyy less than $1. So, I started searching my purse to ward of hypoglycemia and all the confusion that follows.

Finally, I found a jar of half-eaten peanut butter, brought in the car on another occasion for exactly the same reason--hypoglycemia. My plastic bag only contained forks. It was impossible to get a forkful of pb, so I sat with my feet out the door, eating pb until they arrived. Okay, I contaminated that jar, and might not want to eat from it again after I put lots of germs in and it sat in the sun, incubating them.

Another baby that never made a sound until all was over. Have you ever seen such a monstrous walker? The high chair in grandma' house was huge with a footprint to match a small car! Obviously, I have not been around the newfangled baby equipment. I never saw Brianna playing with the gadgets and toys. She is eating some sort of cereal or baby kibble, as you can see.

This man was the highlight of the day, well, except for turkey. I overheard a snippet of conversation and joined in. He is an English teacher who was discussing his month-long trip to England as a grad student and the low price of rail fare. As it turns out, his favorite Romantic poet and mine is the same--Wordsworth. We quoted snippets of poems and discussed the Lake District and Tintern Abbey "Intimations of Immortality," "The World is Too Much With Us," and other relevant-to-Wordsworth material. No, we did not bore everyone since they just ignored  Neither of us remember anything completely, but we were nonetheless enthusiastic.  Neither of us was a poseur who tried to top anything discussed and who had perfectly memorized poems and facts for the amusement of others, spewing them continuously.

For the last twenty years I have spent wonderful Thanksgivings at the home of a friend. Conversation was always rife with politics. Political activists and attorney abounded at my friend's home on most occasions! This day was different and pleasant. Between babies and Wordsworth and varied conversation along with an abundance of food, I left feeling filled in many ways.

I did not get a picture of the table, spread with delicious dishes. Everything was gone by the time I thought of taking I was eating with gusto. There was a dessert table, jam-packed with goodies. The picture below was taken as I sat since my back does not like to be bent for a proper picture.

My chocolate pound cake is behind the little bowl in the center of the dessert table. Wow, with the pictures placed willy-nilly, this post is all over the place and I am in no mood to make it more coherent or to tighten it up.

OOPS! I have been reminded that I did take a picture of the food on the table and my hostess. I have no evidence on my camera. Something happened to the most important photos of the day. Oh well.


Your turn
Did you spend Thanksgiving in the midst of friends or family? Did you overeat as I did? Did you travel far? Do you have any unusual stories to tell?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stabbing Cranberries

It's not as serious as my stab, but it is with the same knife. Even though I have read/watched how to dehydrate cranberries, I am not going to blanch them so they will pop. That seems to sacrifice too much of the juice. Oh, no, I am going to stand at the sink, sopping from popped cranberries instead of carrying my knife to the ottoman and sit to do this job. When I stand, I shake/tremble from the pain, so I have to sit ever so often. Below, is how many cranberries I can pop at one standing.
Also, the knife that stabbed me in the chest

Rather than heat the cranberries to popping open stage, I took a knife and stabbed them. I would have cut them slightly, but the skins were too tough and I was mashing cranberries.

Once I put them in the dehydrator, I drank the juice that had drained through the colander. Straight lemon juice has met its match for sourness. But, it was only 1/3 of a cup, so I drank it down, thinking how good it was for me.

If you ever decide to dehydrate cranberries and don't want to heat them in water until they pop, I would suggest you slit or stab each one while it is frozen or semi-frozen. I lost juice and being mushy made the cranberries difficult to cut open. That is why I stabbed.

Why cut them open? I think it is called "case hardened." If not, let me know the correct term. All it means is that the outside dried faster than the inside can and moisture is locked inside. You don't want this to happen to your cranberries or anything else. That is what happened to the slices of sweet potato. 
How many I had to go to finish

ready for dehydrator

two leg/thigh quarters cooking away on the stove

Whether this will be chicken and dumplings or not is still up in the air. If I feel like making dumplings tonight, it will be chicken and dumplings. I don't like thighs, but this is what I had, so I may just give all this to exbf who is coming to help me tomorrow. He will not want the broth, so that will be just more broth for me for Thanksgiving. We will see. But, I am so hungry for dumplings.

The kitchen smells good and is warm with cranberries in the dehydrator and chicken boiling away. Maybe I will make cornbread for dressing.   I think not.

front-frozen for exbf, scraps for hens,
back--quart of broth, bit of meat for me

Some day, I will try canning broth. But, I would need more than one quart, maybe four pints?

It's done. My day is mostly over. One last thing--I will mix all the dry ingredients for a chocolate pound cake, my contribution to a Thanksgiving Dinner that starts at noon! UGH! I am accustomed to my friends who say, "We eat at five; come at four to visit." Then, we eat at six. Okay, I can do this. I know I can! And, I will cook my turkey next week.

If I get out all the pans for the three pound cakes, have the wax paper cut, and all wet ingredients ready, this will not be hard tomorrow night. I hope I have enough eggs. I think there are only four and the ingredients call for five. So, I may use dehydrated egg whites for the missing egg.  I bought it awhile ago for the one egg unless the girls lay another before tomorrow night.

Your turn
Have you ever dehydrated cranberries? Did you heat the berries to pop them? Or, did you just puncture them? Raise your hand if you like chicken and dumplings? Do you use the fat on top of the broth in the chicken/dumplings? I hate to remove all of it. What do you do with it if you take it off the broth? Personally, I consider it part of the broth. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

All Dried Out

sweet potato, green beans, carrots, corn=8 lbs
The best part of dehydrating frozen vegetables is that the blanching is done by someone else. Blanching is not difficult, but it just more energy that I don't have. Seven of nine shelves are full. One shelf with onions is not showing, and I don't know why.

The other shelf is for some of the two heads of celery I bought for $.88/each. I was pooped and did not get to it today.

There are still cranberries to dehydrate. I want to see if they are good without added sugar. Craisins are great, but have added sugar. If I cannot snack on my dried cranberries, maybe I can add them to dressing, just like Stove Top Stuffing does.  I love that boxed dressing! However, I do make my own dressing from scratch at Thanksgiving.

Here are the results. Each two-pound bag of these vegetables was at least a half gallon.
The sweet potato medallions were too thick, so I sliced then in half. Two-pounds of frozen corn= two dehydrated cups. Two-pounds of frozen green beans=a dehydrated pint. Two pounds of frozen carrots=1 dehydrated cup.

The sweet potato medallions never did dry, so those will be cooked soon, but stored in the refrigerator. 

Okay, this was 1/3 of an onion that I put in there. It is stored in a 2-ounce pimiento jar. I imagine I will use this within the next week.

A snack; better than chips
Of course, as usual, I had to try everything. The sweet potatoes will take your permanent teeth out. I have another method of dehydrating next time. The corn is too crunchy and tiny. The carrots will break strong teeth. These are of jawbreaker hardness. Aaaaah, the green beans...sigh. They are a scrumptious crunchy snack, healthful and delicious with no seasonings. I suppose seasonings would improve these for people who need seasoning.
You have to understand:
I have never met a green bean I did not like.
These little babies were very crispy.
Yum! And nutritious.

High-end groceries sell clam shells of dehydrated vegetables, slice very thin with seasonings, oil, and preservatives added. Even after dehydrating, seasoning can be added to these vegetables.  The clamshells of dehydrated vegetables sell for an exorbitant price. Home-prepared vegetable snacks are cheaper and don't contain preservatives.

Your turn
Have you ever dehydrated frozen food? Do you think you would like dehydrated vegetables for a snack? How do you prepare dehydrated vegetable snacks?

500th Post--yesterday

Yesterday, and I have a little tiny callus on the tip of my right index finger to prove I am really working at this. It is so unattractive. I was going to remark about the occasion yesterday, but I forgot. I suppose the 500th post will be memorable.

July 13, 2011, was the first I posted even though I had been working on the blog for over a month--June until July 13. I am loving this experience.

I love all my followers and readers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nicking my areola

Sorry, no pictures!

Who knew that eating fresh food, preparing it at frugally at home, even in the face of adversity, could be so dangerous? Not I!

As I went into the den to my comfortable chair, I walked cautiously with a bowl of potatoes in my right hand and a sharp knife in the left hand. The knife was pointing toward the floor.  I always walk with the knife tip down, even when I am not shaky with walking. I grip the knife with the blade coming from between my thumb and index finger. Safe enough? Should be.

I put the bowl of potatoes on the ottoman. As I reached my chair, I lowered myself, leaning forward and sitting as I braced myself on the chair arms to ease gently down to spare my knee and back. Unfortunately, as I put my hands down to lower myself, leaned forward to ease down, the knife was pointed up just because of how I was leaning with my hand on the chair and managing to sit without much excruciating pain.

Do you know how bad nicking an areola hurts? With a very sharp knife? Almost hit the nipple! Yikes! Don't try this at home, folks.

Maybe tomorrow I will run with scissors. Well, if I could run, I would. Or I could get an Official Red Ryder Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle and maybe shoot my eye out.

No, it did not bleed, just turned bloody looking. I had three days of examining myself to see if the damage was permanent or worse because the pain seemed not to diminish. After a week, it is all better.

This is the price I paid that day for eating fresh vegetables.

Your turn
Have you managed to hurt yourself, despite cautionary steps? Have you stabbed yourself in the breast? Oh, just tell me a funny or horrifying story of accidentally maiming yourself!

Box of Plenty

8 lbs ready to dehydrate
For a long time I had thought of dehydrating frozen vegetables and wondered "why not?" I am always thinking of dehydrating. Angela's blog put the thought to the forefront of my consciousness. Why not? Well, I could not think of any reason why I would. She is an entertaining Mormon prepper with great ideas. Drop by her place some time.

I am just not going to have enough good reasons to take my frozen food and dehydrate it until I have the gamma lids and oxygen absorbers.  Angela wrote her blog post as a preparedness tip. My blog post about dehydrating nine lbs of half-frozen, quickly-thawing vegetables has its genesis in desperation and sheer panic.

Today, the need to dehydrate frozen food hit me like a ton of bricks or nine pounds of frozen vegetables. Let me digress.

I went to a food bank that was giving a food "basket" for Thanksgiving. Yes, it was a box. All the food will not fit into my already-full freezer over the refrigerator, even after all my bread dove right onto my foot. And, it was too dark when I got home and too spooky to go where the full-size freezer is located, way off in my sewing room that I cannot access for use, either.

Here is what I got at the food bank today:

12 lb frozen turkey (what a beauty it is, many meals)
8 lb frozen, boneless ham, not the mashed up kind of ham
1 lb cranberries
12 frozen biscuits
2 lbs frozen green beans
2 lbs frozen corn
2 lbs frozen sweet potato slices
2 lbs frozen sliced carrots
cheesecake, about 8 in across

All above is/was frozen.

2 brown gravy mixes
2 Idahoan mashed potato mixes
2 dressing/stuffing  boxes

I managed to get the turkey in the freezer. All my bread fell out on my feet, gravely wounding my toes. Mark loves bagels, so he can have the blueberry bagels. Is it wrong to feed bagels to your weight loss rival/partner?

 The boneless ham was thawing and lives in the refrigerator now. I will eat it and give a hunk to exbf when he comes.

The cheesecake is half-eaten.

(My freezer and refrigerator are so stuffed that I fear they will open as they often do if something shifts. So, I have Guerrilla brand duct tape, holding both shut.)
That leaves carrots, green beans, corn, and sweet potatoes to dehydrate. I may mix the corn, green beans, and carrots into soup-sized containers. I will freeze the dehydrated vegetables. Oxygen absorbers would relieve my mind about spoilage, but so will freezing. Now, where are the pint jars? I think a pint of dehydrated mixture of vegetables would be just about right for a pot of soup. Maybe a cupful/half-pint?

Tonight, celery was on sale for $0.88 per head. I bought two heads and now am going to dehydrate those. They are probably full of pesticides. But, until I see organic celery or can grow some, this will do.

I just won't inhale. 

Your turn
Have you ever dehydrated frozen vegetables for any reason? What were the results?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's settled: new weight loss partner

 How can I spin this so it will be about parsimony? Should I try to spin it? I suppose I will spend less on health care if I lose weight.

I am sick and tired of being fat. My friend, Mark, was just someone I passed as we exchanged brief pleasantries. We have become better friends. Now, we are going to embark on a weight-loss venture. My fat is not attractive to me. Yours may be attractive to you. I am sure my fat makes my back and knee hurt worse. My fat makes my left shoulder hurt when I try to lift my weight from my chair.

In 2002, I injured the middle of my back, sort of along the bra line, while working a retail Christmas job. In 2003 as I entered the physical therapy room, the room was changed. As I walked to my physical therapist, sitting up at a counter on the other side of the room, my right foot caught on an electrical cord plugged into the floor. I fell headlong, landing on my right knee. I cried and wailed lots as the physical therapist assured me that I was okay and to just get up. I was so distressed that I injured myself in a place where I was supposed to be safe and get better.

As I fell, my left knee was behind me, and I sat on the right foot, right on the heel. As I hurled towards the floor in this position, my body fell the the left, injuring my left shoulder. I told the physical therapist all the places I hurt and she said I had to pick which hurt the most. I said my knee hurt most.

Unbeknownst to me, that was all the Workman's comp would pay for because she included none of the rest and lied, saying I never mentioned sitting on my foot, my foot hurting, my shin hurting, or shoulder pain. I managed to gain 60 lbs in about three months. I sat and ate when I was not scheduled for work. Horrified at the weight gain, I immediately lost 10 lbs.

 The physical therapist who took over and worked on my knee faxed the insurance office after each therapy session, reporting that I was malingering. So, weeks dragged into months and finally I was allowed to have an MRI of the knee. Less than a week later, the torn meniscus in the right knee was repaired. It hurt for a long time and finally quit. But, I never lost weight. That injury had a profound psychological effect on me. Not being treated and not being treated fairly hurt me in places that aren't physical.

I have never regained the svelte self. In 2009, I lost 25 lbs and due to a stressful job I had, gained back 25. In the aftermath of the April tornado, I gained another 10 lbs.

Last year, I joined TOPS. But, I was met with ridicule for not being able to climb a steep flight of stairs "just once." Okay, I can do anything once, then I can sit and live in pain for a week. Then, it would be time to go back and climb the stairs again.

XXXXXXX was horrid to me while others could do anything they pleased. Then, I realized that her husband was the man coming on to me thirty years ago, telling me his wife had run off, leaving him with two little boys. Needless to say, her animosity and outright bullying at TOPS caused me stress. I gained weight in TOPS, even though I was successful when I belonged long ago. Back then, 20 lbs over my desired weight was catastrophic enough to make me join TOPS.

Last night, I asked Mark if he wanted to join me in losing weight. He readily agreed. So, we will commence a journey toward a new, thinner, healthier life.  There will be some sort of set prize the loser must give up to the winner. We decided that losing 25 lbs was a good first goal. Then, I gave him two packages of bagels.

Since I might wobble and fall off the scales, I have just not weighed in probably over five months....maybe more. Tonight, I was shocked to see I had lost 10 lbs without trying! Considering I have an under active thyroid and started taking the maximum dose of levothyroxin, I should have expected a loss of weight. I am going to the doctor's office to weigh on Monday, just to be sure I did lost weight. I was weighed there last September or August.

The only thing I have done over the last month was quit buying Kraft 8 oz blocks of medium cheddar cheese. A few weeks ago, I quit drinking chocolate milk, but only because I ran out of Nestle's Quik.  I am terrified of diabetes, so I am slowly reforming my bad, bad ways. I didn't buy more Quik only because I did not have the money to do so!

Details on another post to follow later. I will tell you how I plan to lose weight. I really don't need/want suggestions, just cheerleaders. I know how to attain the weight-loss goal. This won't turn into a weight-loss blog. But, I will keep you posted on the weight loss. And, I will eat heartily through the holidays!

Goal: lose 110 lbs. Now, people to whom I tell this goal assure me I will look ill and that is too much to lose. They really get upset with me. When I tell them what I weigh and what I want to weigh, they seem to think that 110 lbs is a good goal. I am not even trying to get back to my thinnest. I am giving myself a 20 lb leeway over what my ideal weight for my height should be.

The photo? It was taken in 2002, just before I was injured.  I was looking into the mantle mirror and had taken a full-length picture from the back. Someone cropped the picture and this is my reflection. I guess that is my face flipped over. There is a framed picture in front of my chin. Don't ask me why the picture is so grainy. The camera loved me that day, plus, I had a little too much wine. Two glasses is too much for me.

Your turn
Have you ever gained weight from an injury and found the new-found weight extremely difficult to lose?  Or, have you known anyone who faced my dilemma?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Secret and Rooting Flowers

reward for a secret shopper

Just as I had this ready for a picture, my camera broke. Or something. It turns on and the lens extends along with buzzing, then the camera turns itself off and the lens won't retract. It is a Kodak EasyShare, cheap enough, but not something I can afford to replace. The lithium ion battery is the best part.

A new friend, Mark, lent me his digital camera for a week. I am astounded. So, I just have to take lots of pictures to support my blogging for a few Since I am using my batteries and my sd card, I won't feel guilty about using it to stock up on pictures.

The view is from the top. Yes, I threw a sheet over the commode to get the kind of background that was a must. Shhhh....

I have an Internet friend who takes roses from bouquets and sinks the stems in sand and roots them. So, I have about a week to figure out just what to do with these to root them.

Your turn
Have you ever rooted roses or any flower from a bouquet of bought flowers? How is it done? 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Frugal Post-Halloween

Chocolate candy corn...yum

Right after Halloween I searched for candy corn. It was later in the day, so I assumed I had just missed on the clearance. Someone else had scooped up all the candy corn! Bummer  Then, exbf and I went to Walmart for something later in the week. There were about six carts of Halloween stuff, sitting in carts by the door.

"Ooooh! Ooooh! Ooooh!" That was all the sound I could make. The electric cart stopped and I waggled my hand as I just made that silly noise. 


"Get it, get it!"  I waggled my hand.


"Candy corn, candy corn, chocolate candy corn!"  I think I was bouncing on the seat by then.

You see, there were only two or three bags left of chocolate candy corn amidst a cart of regular candy corn and several people who were into that cart. I was ready to go into a tantrum to match any two-year-old. Or, I think I sounded like one. A guy was laughing at me and confusion of exbf who literally jumped to see what I wanted.

Whew! He got one for me and then proceeded to get the regular ones for himself. There was a cartful of the regular candy corn for him. At $1 for the hugest bag I have seen, I figured we still should share and save more money and calories. He does not like chocolate ones.  

At home we both tore into our respective bags. I put some of mine in a glass jar. The rest I put down to find a twist-tie and cook lunch. Later the next day, I found the bag still open. So, it is trash. Tonight, I got out the jar and started eating. I bite off all the orange and white parts and make a little pile of the chocolate, eating the chocolate last.

Right now, I feel like I ate a cup of sugar. Yuck! for the feeling. Yum! for the time just before I ate too much tonight and was still enjoying it.

(Another indoor shot with funny color graces my opening of the blog post once again.)

Your turn
Did you wait until after Halloween to indulge in Halloween candy? Or, did lucky you have children's candy to eat while they were at school?  I did that.  They got wise and hid their candy from me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hair Color Stock Up

I have few more on a shelf. These are boxed for convenience.

This hair color and a lipstick each year is all I spend on "cosmetics." The Garnier was on sale as was the Revlon Color Silk--$3.14. With a $1 coupon, the Revlon (now $2.14) was 1/4 the price of the Garnier. I am stocking up only because it was an outrageously low price. This is not the same as stocking up groceries for a catastrophe.

Comfort food in a stash? I had rather have hair color.  You know I am seriously being sarcastic?

My face has paled as I aged, and I seriously avoid the sun on my skin, so going gray would leave me looking like a ghost with black eyebrows and black eyelashes, and I would feel the need for some other purchased cosmetics to normalize my face into something less ghastly/ghostly if my hair were gray. My new hairdresser tells me I am totally gray! I do think gray hair is beautiful on some people. I know all the arguments, health-wise, and socially for going gray and natural.

I am the George Hamilton of hair color, taking the bullet, testing for all my sisters of the world. I could get a spectacular tan because I can get a spectacular tan. That would look great with white hair. But I will leave that to George, because I know I have relatives who succumbed to melanomas because the cancers were treated too late. 

Your turn
Okay, maybe you think this is a foolish way to spend money?    Selling scrap metal from basement projects, tuna type cans, aluminum cans made this possible over a month's time.  Am I deluded in thinking this is saving money?                                        

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Flag
Remembering my mother

This flag pole with flag has been embedded in the rock for several years on 231, going into Huntsville, AL. The flag has never tattered, so someone must just replace the flag on the pole. I often wonder who put it there. But, I understand the sentiment.

There is nothing along this stretch of road for several miles. So, this flag up so high is a surprise, especially on a windy day. I have better pictures of the flag, especially the ones where it is flying straight, unfurled by wind today.  I used this one so you can almost see how high it is. If it had occur to me, I would have captured the full height where the flag stood. I took this picture across four lanes and a wide median. You can see where the rock was cut to make the road.

My mother was a WAC during WWII. My brother and niece were in the Air Force. My best friend, a major in the Air Force, Served in Vietnam, two tours, flying 200 missions over Vietnam as an electronic warfare officer, a Wild Weasel. Then, he returned for another tour, flying 24 hour missions.

November 11th is also my brother's birthday.  He was born on 11/11 and died 12/12.  2001 was not a good year for me. Not good for my brother, obviously. 

It makes me happy to see all the patriotic displays, flags in the median and hanging every where, lots of bunting, too. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Light of my Life

We have been together for 8 years.

It stopped giving me light after eight years. It was the bulb used most extensively and left on the longest and turned off and on the least. The side porch light kept me safe and secure. It stayed on all night. Sometimes it was left on during the day if I forgot to turn it off. If I leave at noon and won't be home until after dark, this light was/is left on so I can find the side porch and steps safely.

I have a theory: turning lights on and off excessively burns them out faster. Your belief is your own. We will not debate Well, certainly you can refute my closely-held-to-my-heart belief. No problem. I just won't try to prove you wrong.

My ex-devil, ooops, meant ex-husband thought I should turn off kitchen lights when he ordered me to come change the TV for him. Okay, so he did not order me right off the bat to change the TV, he summoned me to tell me something important (NOT), and "Oh, by the way, since you are here, standing, and I am so comfortable lying down, change the TV."  If I had killed him when I first thought about it, I would be out of prison now and never would have incurred debt or had to pay my own electric bills...LOL...jk.

Yes, he yelled at me because I did not turn off kitchen lights when I went to the bathroom or went out of the kitchen to pick up an injured toddler to comfort. Never mind.

This is a Westinghouse, 60 watt, 130 volt light bulb, Commercial Service, purchased at maybe 1.5 x  the cost of a 120 volt bulb. It's specs say it should last 5000 hours, about 1/3 that of a 120 volt. However, at a conservative estimate of 10 hours X 365 days X 8 years, it lasted 29,200 hours.

Estimated hours for:
120 volt is 14,000 hour
130 volt is 5000 hours.
This one lasted 29,200 hours.

No, I am not changing to CFLs because they hurt my head, eyes, and make me tired. The Black Market will be my source of incandescents when the few I have are gone.

I meant CFL not LCD. I know the difference, but I was sooo sleepy.

Your turn
Do you think I got my money's worth from this bulb?  Yes, I know it uses more energy! Have you found a similar usage from bulbs of any kind? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jobs, real jobs, return to US!

Faribault's Soho Plaid Throw

"The Faribault Woolen Mills is weaving its way back from oblivion one thread and one American employee at a time."

 This is a heartwarming story, so touching that I shed tears of joy. The story gives me great hope. I will be buying one of the Faribault blankets. My mother gave me one that was stolen from me. I need a blanket desperately and will have one of these, somehow! I just hope the wool is from the US.

Okay, at the prices I see, maybe I won't get one! I was hoping they would have a rose-colored one or pink or blue in their plans.

Maybe someone in Alabama will bring back textile mills and garment manufacturing to this county in Alabama. At least we won't be working and sending profits overseas. Eva Peron had it right.

Sure, Faribault Mills will not save the economy, but maybe it will be an impetus and inspiration for all of the unemployed and people who can revive factories--wealthy people who really care.

Your turn
Have you ever owned one of these blankets? Warm and beautiful, huh? Does this story give you hope? Have any businesses been revitalized to help the economy in your part of the US? 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food Bank Fresh Vegetable Bounty

13 pumpkins

Other people gave me their pumpkins, and Charlie carried them all for me. Some of the pumpkins are huge. If he did not go to help me put all my food in the car, I could not manage.

two bananas, two broccoli heads, six navel oranges
bunny wanted to look and sample

two bags of salad greens with Romaine and a pre-made salad

Salads had two days left until use-by date. Pre-made salad was in a Ziploc bag, so I don't know if it
was made on site or if a larger one was divided.   Either I or the girls will eat these.  

beautiful, white head of cauliflower,
better than I often see in stores
4 cans of corn, 2 bottles of squirt jelly
The jelly is pretty icky, but over some chocolate ice cream, topped with sliced bananas, with a bit of jelly on top, it's okay. I would not eat it often. Besides, I have plans for the strawberry jelly on or in pastries--pretty for Christmas. Exbf will love the jelly. I had already opened and eaten one can of the corn. The hens helped me eat
4 pounds Pinto Beans

The rest of what I got that is not pictured
*one box of Kellogg's Cornflakes, the real deal. Not so sure what I will do with those.
*two huge bags of pretzels. Exbf will eat those since I never eat pretzels.
*1 pkg cinnamon and raisins Nooks and Crannies
*two loaves of whole wheat bread
*a minuscule slice of peach pie, served in bowl with spoon for immediate consumption
*head of iceberg lettuce, left in car so that it's now a chicken treat
* two 1-lb packages of leanest ground beef I have ever seen. Two lbs of lean ground meat will last me about ten days or more.
*two bologna sandwiches

What I left behind:
*So many bakery donuts and bakery pastries that I just don't need. 
*bagels and more nooks and crannies (got an abundance last week and froze it)
*Rye bread, sour dough bread, hamburger and hot dog buns, focaccia bread, white bread
*Lots of carbs and sugar
*some vegetables that were really near death and had been picked over before I got there.  

Some of the 50 lbs of bananas from week before last are still here to deal with. So, ugh, I have too much to do. The squirrels better not get the pumpkins. I have sprinkled them with red pepper to dissuade the critters of the night and the rats with pretty tales.

I am really excited about the glut of pumpkins. The dehydrator will be running day and night.  And, here I was planning on getting ones from the street, discarded ones. Okay, I may still do

Your turn
How about this food bank's offerings? Is that a lot of dehydrating? Whew! Aren't they pretty? Most of the vegetables are sooo fresh. Yes, they are from a supermarket and maybe not organic. Some food banks just give out outdated food in cans and boxes, mostly cookies and sugared cereal, plus horribly dented food that looks dangerous. Have you ever dehydrated pumpkin? I have a great video that I will follow.  I have dried pumpkin seeds in the oven, but as long as the dehydrator is running and has room, I will use it. Or, should I bake them?

The Perfect Italian Meatball

The perfect Italian meatball is prepared before you eyes in this video from Chow Ciao. I love most Italian food.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In praise of my dehydrator and 50 FREE pounds of bananas

18 bananas=2 full quarts dehydrated
Both quarts were very full until I took some out for a snack to take to MRI and some to give to Charlie. Plus, I spilled a few which became chicken food. I have no idea why all this text is centered since I know how to change alignment! Somehow, I lost all the pictures of the heaps of bananas. So, this is what I took on other days. 
3 bananas fill one tray

I filled six of nine trays. My frugal self does not want one of the fifty pounds of bananas to go to waste. So, I started dehydrating them. I ate one. I gave some that had split to the hens. I am still working on them! UGH!

                                                     (pictures of funny, grayish bananas would have gone here)

The pictures I took would have shown funny, grayish, yellowish, greenish bananas. If bananas  look funny with a grey tint, they were allowed to become too cold. If you find a banana that does or does not look grayish, you can take your thumbnail and lift the tiniest bit of the skin. The produce manager taught me that. I had complained because I got bananas that looked okay and were horrible and turned grayish. If the skin is grey, the banana will never ripen. Some of these were that way. After letting them sit around, I dehydrated them, and they are perfectly fine now, very sweet.

As I sad, three bananas can fit on one Excalibur Dehydrator rack. I used six racks. So, I dehydrated 18 bananas, three of the bags I received. That made about 15 lbs dehydrated. Some of the bananas spoiled, split wide open and were attacked by hoards of fruit flies, so the hens got those. Some will be frozen if I don't get them on the racks tomorrow. I made one recipe of banana bread. I dehydrated one of the lemons I received free last week.

It took me forever to get the bananas cut and on the rack because I could only stand to fill one rack. That's right. I cut three bananas in slices and had to retreat to sit. I put some in water with lemon juice and will never do that again. I could tell absolutely no difference in color between treated bananas and untreated bananas. I should not have used the water. I know!

It has been ages since I made banana bread, so I did.

Four banana bread muffins

Then, I decided I would make several cupcakes./muffins for exbf to take to work. The pan is probably as old as I--estate sale find.  I only made four in the muffin tin. I decided to sample one since they bake faster than a loaf of bread. Then, they were all gone! I just won't tell him about the muffins.  Nest day: Want a slice of banana bread? Just a taste? Worried about your diabetes? No, no, and no. I forgot he cannot stand bananas.

Dehydrating banana tips
For these bananas, when I sliced them this thin--(), that is width from side to side, they turned out paper thin, so translucent.  I could practically read though them. They were not bad, just not what I wanted. When I sliced them this thin-- (    ), they still turned out thin, but what I wanted. I have a feeling that the ripeness of the banana has something to do with how thin they become after drying. But, I have no idea what the correlation could I add nothing to these, nor do I pretreat them with lemon, at least not after the several bananas.

I had a round Walmart dehydrator that I used and thought was miraculous, even though bananas dried at different rates from inside to outside of each round tray. Then, I broke all but one rack. So, I bought a bunch of dehydrator trays at a yard sale, praying that they fit. They did. I sold that "new" dehydrator. The Excalibur, the model I have, is wonderful. You can even make yogurt and use it for dough rising. My yogurt maker was a freecycle deal, so no cost.

Your turn
Do you like bananas and banana chips as much as I do? Do you ever dehydrate bananas? Are you also  turned off by the additives in store-bought banana chips?