My Messengers

new-years-puppies

Golden Retriever, “Ruben” and Doberman, “Dobby” are helping me wish everyone “HAPPY NEW YEAR”

Ruben, 3 and a half years old, loves poising for pictures and is always willing to send messages, to and for, Grandma.

Dobby, a 7 month old puppy says, “Look Grandma, I’m sitting nice, but I really want to lick the camera.” I guess a sign he just wanted to eat.

Here’s hoping “2017” brings Good Health and Happiness to my readers.

May Wishes Come True, and you Reach Goals you’ve set.

To my Followers and Faithful Readers I also want to say, Thank you.

Your views, likes, comments, and patience while I’m learning the blogging process means a lot. These simple gestures encourage me to keep writing, and hint to what topics are enjoyed the most.

The goal for my blog in “2017” is to continue sharing experiences in hopes to entertain, or inspire readers, and I love connecting with you via comments.

As for personal resolutions, I try not to set myself up for failure, like saying I’ll exercise and lose weight, that one never turns out as planned.

But, here are my Top five “2017” Goals.

1)  I want to visit and Enjoy Family and Friends as much as possible.

2) Appreciate what I have, and don’t dwell on what I don’t. At this point in life the main thing missing is, youth.

3) Continue to live by the Golden Rule. (Do unto others as you would have others do onto you)

4) Worry less, this is always the hardest for me to control. Sometimes, I worry about worrying. 

5) Spend more time doing hobbies that make me happy. (I have so many, I worry about which one to do. See number 4, is a problem.)

Quarter horse, “Nugget,” wanted to send his well wishes too, but he said it was too windy to have that silly paper sign around his neck.

ny-nugget

Do you have animals that put up with photography antics?

Do you make “News Years resolutions” or set yourself goals?

The Old Stove

old-stoveThe children had scurried up the basement stairs coughing and wiping their watery eyes.

In the kitchen, I filled a tray with food and cooking supplies. Their clothing reeked of smoke as they passed and before their mouths opened to explain, I knew what had happened and what needed doing.

I hurried down into the landing. With a loud click the deadbolt released and I twisted the door knob. A gust of freezing winter air rushed inside, but I had propped the back door open anyway.

Next, I had trotted downstairs to help Mister, who had been abandoned and could be heard muttering unkind words to the stove he knelt before.

While he had crumpled and put more paper in the fire box I cracked open windows, then began waving whatever was handy and big enough to create a breeze.

Most times, the kids were on my heels and helped with the air clearing efforts.

That was a glimpse from some past Christmas mornings.

You see, we had a grand, old, wood-burning stove in our basement family room. Many times after unwrapping Christmas gifts, Mister would fire it up and make his tasty fried grits, eggs, and potato breakfast. The problem was the above scenario often occurred because the old stove could be temperamental to start a fire in.

If really cold or windy outside, a window needed to be cracked open. Crumpled newspaper and kindling needed to be shoved way back in the fire box, right to the base of the chimney, and we tried to never light the paper when the house furnace was running. Something about its air intake, up-drafts and down-drafts. I don’t know the science of it, I just know, smoke didn’t go up the chimney if you missed any of these steps.

Mister rarely bothered to stand on the couch to open the window, and so breakfast was sometimes delayed.

There was always lots of joking and giggling while we three cleared the room of smoke, and Mister got the fire roaring.

It took awhile to heat the cast-iron top enough to cook on, and the chilly room also had to be warmed from having windows and the door open, but soon the cooking began.

These mornings hold fond memories for our family.

Last year, we hosted the Christmas sleepover at the lake for our daughter her husband and their fur child and the son and his girlfriend. This year, the son and his girlfriend hosted, so Mister and I slept at their house.

Before we could leave our place in the morning we had to dig out from under about a foot of fresh overnight snow. That and road conditions delayed our day, but we made it to their place safe and sound.

After a simple Christmas eve supper, the son drove us around the city to look at Christmas lights.

Christmas morning after a joint effort the turkey and ham were put in the oven to cook. Then Mister made one of his grits and egg breakfasts, but because he used the electric range, it was smoke free.

Living only minutes away, our daughter and her husband didn’t sleepover but they came for the afternoon, the feast, and the gift exchange. We enjoyed another wonderful get-together. Little can beat a day like that.

One thing was missing.

Since Mister and I moved three hours from the city where the oldest daughter and family live it seems harder for them to visit.

As children grow, marry and start families, Christmas and other special occasions are when having a blended family becomes difficult. It means an extra set of parents, plus in-laws, etc. to spread time between, so we couldn’t catch up with them this year.

We understand their spare time is limited, and their life’s are busy and full with other family.

We make the trip and attend functions they invite us to, but we miss spending time with them.

We hope they know they are always in our thoughts and hearts though.

Apron of Memories

apron

This apron is how I bake with the kids now that they’re grown and no longer living at home. It’s made from scraps left over from things I sewed them when they were young.

Whenever I wear it I think of them.

This is what I accomplished today. It really doesn’t look like it should have taken all day but it did. With the way my morning started though I’m just glad they are eatable.

cookies

 

Double Double or Spiked

latte

This fall Mister began joining me for my afternoon coffee ritual, instead of my double cream, double sugar, his condiment of choice is a shot of Irish Cream liquor.

Some of you might know this drink by its nickname, Camping Coffee. It ordinated in the days of tents and no heaters but is still enjoyed by many.

For something different, I recently made myself a Irish cream latte. If you haven’t tried one, all you do is add Irish Cream to the milk before you steam it. You can make it with coffee creamer, or if you really want to warm-up use liquor.

Do you have a, hard to buy for, coffee drinker on your shopping list?

This is a faithful recipe for homemade Irish Cream liquor which I’ve had for years.

A bottle of this is a great gift idea.

Irish Cream Liquor

  • 1 Cup – Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Cup – Water
  • 1 can(8oz) – Eagle Brand Milk
  • 3 – Eggs (mixed)
  • 2 TBSP – Instant coffee
  • 1 can(8oz) – canned milk 2%
  • ¼ tsp – Vanilla
  • 1 TBSP – Chocolate syrup

We always put mixture in dark bottles with screw tops, and remember to Keep this liquor refrigerated.

For almost two weeks, our abnormal and frigid winter weather kept us indoors more than usual. It motivated me to get items crossed off my to-do list, but it also brought on bouts of cabin fever. When that happened, decreased concentration and productivity meant I jumped between projects or spent time on trivial tasks like sorting bags of old buttons into colors. Mister got dragged into helping with that distraction, so we could clean off and eat lunch at the table.

Mister and I, are grateful for our special friends T & E, and card nights filled with laughter. These get-togethers sure help pass long winter evenings.

Because of cold traveling conditions I missed out on trips into town and snooping through the malls. Extreme temperatures even spoiled plans of our daughter and my BFF meeting me in the city for a shopping day.

Thank goodness, Mister and I got our gifts bought early or I would be in a panic right now.

Handmade gifts are done, the presents are wrapped, and all that’s left to do before the big day is some baking.

Our weather forecast predicts a warming trend, and I woke Sunday morning to a shockingly nice -4c which sure is better than the -20’s.

The smart thing would have been to bake during the cold spell. My excuse was, no room in the freezer to store stuff. Real reason, I just wasn’t into it.

Now, with the coming warmth I’ll want to be outside or go to town, but I better be inside baking. I really should have thought that through.

Do you bake at Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Curiosity Solved

experiment

For fairness, I brought equal amounts of water in identical plastic bottles, the cooler and insulated bag to room temperature. A necessary step because some came from our cold storage room. Wait, that sounds like we have a climate-controlled room, what I meant is I had to bring the hard-sided cooler in from its unheated storage room to warm up.

The afternoon temperature outside when I got this experiment underway was -20 C. Almost balmy for this nasty cold spell.

With a bottle of water inside, I placed the hard cooler, the cooler bag, and just a bottle of water, side by side so none were in sunshine and all would chill at the same rate.

Two hours later the temperature had dropped to -25 C outside. The exposed bottle’s water had froze solid but both in the coolers still hadn’t even crystalized yet so I let them be.

My next intention was to check the waters temperature from both cooler bottles to see if one was warmer then the other. I hadn’t planed ahead how I would do this though, so a search began for a thermometer.

Logical place to look first, the bathroom. Bought years ago and still in its package, I found a new digital style thermometer. I read the directions. Battery seemed good so into my mouth for a reading it went. Great news, I had no fever. Before I disturbed the experiment water I tried one more test with a cup of ice water. Umm, I found out it only reads if tip has contact, like under a tongue or in armpit, drats.

Perhaps a meat thermometer? Nope, don’t have one, it probably wouldn’t work in water, anyway. Now, I’m curious about that though.

On our fridge is a decorative magnet with a mercury temperature gage, so it got submerged in a cup of cold water. Keyword, decorative, the red line didn’t move. Funny, I’ve never noticed before that it didn’t work.

Mister joined the search. The only other portable thermometer inside the house is a weather station used to monitor the crawl space which houses our water pipes. This unit has a sensor on a wire, and it is old, almost the first of its kind.

We seldom check it anymore, and on inspection it’s no surprise to see it no longer displayed a reading. Mister took the back off and pushed reset, my job was to locate the tiny screw which dropped to the floor. Reset did nothing, he tested the batteries and changed those.

By this time supper in the oven was on the verge of becoming overlooked so we ate.

At 8:30pm, after 4 and 1/2 hours outside the water in the coolers had started to freeze. The insulated bag one only slightly more than the regular cooler. Not sure the accuracy but when tested the hard cooler water was .2 degrees warmer than cooler bag water.

Results were pretty predictable, but I was curious how much longer groceries would keep from freezing if insulated and if it mattered which we used, a hard or soft cooler.

In minus 20 degree temperatures water took an extra two and half hours to freeze if kept in a well insulated container.

With this knowledge, from now on, our lettuce should make it home safe.

Have you ever wondered how weather effects food delivered by big trucks? A lot more planning goes into this then you may think.

The son works in transportation for a large food distribution company so I asked him.

For transporting frozen and refrigerated goods reefer trailers are used. In extreme cold they can also heat the air so it is warmer inside then outside, keeping cargo at an ideal temperature.

They have 1-3 different temperature areas which can be divided by portable insulated walls. In extreme cold, produce and other sensitive goods, are sometimes wrapped to keep from freezing if they’re placed near doors.

Delicate things like ice cream cakes are put in insulated bags along with being in the freezer section just to make sure they don’t thaw.

Next time you buy groceries, you can now appreciate the work that goes into getting items to the store.

Did you learn anything from this post? I did.

 

Cold and Curious

temp

We’re in a bitter cold spell, and our way below normal, daytime highs are a problem on grocery day. Besides the obvious of Mister and I, and the vehicle, having less enthusiasm for venturing outside or off the yard.

It’s, how to get climate sensitive food home without issue.

Oh, and if you looked at the above picture and thought, can’t those old farts (smiley face) see the tire sensor light is on. Yes, we saw it, but not to worry we just don’t have winter air in the tires yet. If you don’t live in a climate like ours, that is a joke, because many vehicle tire sensors don’t read right when cold.

Back on topic, we live 20-40 minutes from any major city, so summer heat also causes problems. The drive home is long enough to melt ice cream, warm milk and even spoil meat if it’s sitting in direct sun. A simple fix is, coolers and ice packs on those days.

This weeks weather though, posed the opposite.

Since we had an appointment in the city, we filled our day with errands along with getting groceries. Sounds simple, but we like to shop different stores for certain things. So planning the order of stops is crucial for what you’ll risk freezing inside the vehicle while you continue your day. Sometimes, it’s near impossible to plan without driving back and forth across the city.

So I got thinking. Mister says that’s when I usually get into trouble. (smiley face)

How much protection from the cold, if any, would a insulated bag provide? 

Would it prevent lettuce or eggs from getting too cold while the vehicle is not running? 

Would an actual cooler work better than an insulated bag?

I’m not a science person, and yes, I could Google an question or ask the son or Mister, they probably know, but I’ve decided to do an old fashion home experiment. A high tech test on how long it takes for a bottle of water to freeze outside, compared to one in a insulate bag, and another in a cooler. Impressive concept and format, isn’t it? (smiley face)

Anybody care to take a guess if freezing time will vary enough to make a difference? 

I’ll post the results.

My Spin On Gift Giving

gift-giving

Not sure why the song, Christmas time is coming, came to mind this morning, but perhaps because it’s only 20 days away, or because our tree is up and decorated now, or the scenery when I opened the blinds triggered it. We got about 6” of snow this week, I doubt we’ll see grass again until spring. See you next year, my diehard pansies.

For those who don’t know, I love making lists. Short ones, long ones, loose ones and ones in note books. They have a place in my purse, in draws, beside my chair and of course on the iPad seldom out of reach. One particular list is very useful, it’s gift ideas for people which I add to throughout the year.

With only a couple gifts left undecided, it’s time to study that list and finish shopping.

Since Mister’s retirement, he is more involved in choosing who gets what, and now we usually shop together. It’s rare for me to drive when it’s the two of us, but he’s a willing chauffeur as long as we’re not out evenings or weekends when places are busy.

A crowd or line-up person, Mister is not.

Retirement for us, is like coming full circle, we are back working within a budget of sorts and our Christmas gift giving reflects this.

People approaching this phase in life often worry about how they will adjust, it scares us all at first. Sure, sometimes I miss spontaneous spending, one of which is not buying bigger, special presents like we used to occasionally, but our family respects a gifts cost isn’t what’s important.

Homemade items have and I’m sure will always be acceptable gifts within our family.

I think the kids and spouses appreciate the occasional one from me, or they’re too sweet to say otherwise. It’s not that I knit everyone a scarf whether they need or want one, but if I can make an item and personalize it, I will, and I’m not the only one in the family that makes gifts.

The kids have tucked away as keepsakes some handmade presents from years past. There’s the tall, multi floor Barbie doll house, complete with furniture, a plastic canvas fold-up micro machine city, and a twill blanket, matching shipping boots and leather show halter for their pony to name a few.

This year is no different, some presents are getting made.

I also use to enjoy creating puzzles. Each person got an envelope with a list of questions. The answers had the same number of letters as following blanks and one blank in each answer was colored. The letters from those blanks spelled out their gifts hiding place.

100-0031_img

The Kids & Grandchildren Doing Puzzles 

Writing this post brought to mind A Birthday Gift Story from a couple years ago.

It started the fall prior to our sons birthday, part of his gift took me almost five months to complete.

With busy schedules, Mister, myself, our daughter and son met at a restaurant in a City between where we all live. After the meal, in the sunny parking lot, he used his truck’s lowered tailgate as a table to unwrap presents.

His face when he opened the box from Mister and I caused a smile. It was a mix of, on second thought, no mix, his look said, “Mom, you’re losing it.”

He lifted the white hoodie and spotted a black shirt underneath. Both items he had given me five months prior for mending.

Of course, we added something else to the gift, but I couldn’t resist wrapping these since I had finally gotten them repaired. What the heck, he hadn’t seen either for so long, they were like new to him. Unwrapping is more fun than handing him a boring plastic bag. (smiley face)

Back to Christmas thoughts.

Have other parents ever drifted asleep Christmas Eve while waiting for their children to do the same, only to wake in a panic because of how long they dozed and what they had left to do?

One year, our daughter decided that along with cookies and milk for Santa we should put hay on our roof for the reindeer. That was a detail hard for Mister to take care of in the dark of night without making noise and leaving tracks. It’s a good thing we found out, the reindeer get sluggish between flights if they eat so we only did that once. (a smiley face for our creative thinking)

Do you give homemade gifts?