Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Happenings Lately

On Palm Sunday, Honorary Son proposed to DD1!  I had to keep it a secret nearly a week, until they were able to spread their good news to all the close relatives they felt needed to be told in person (versus see it on Facebook or hear it second or third hand).  As of yet, no date has been set for the upcoming nuptials, they are trying to work around the college schedules of the (intended) maid of honor and best man.  Well, and DD1's last semester of school too, which will be spent student teaching she has not heard where yet. So, the wedding could possibly be this December, or not until next May or later.

The ring belonged to my Grandmother (who passed away in December 2012).  One of her last requests was that her wedding ring go not to one of her daughters-in-law (she had only sons, no daughters of her own), not to one of her granddaughters, but to DD1 who was her first great-granddaughter (of three).

A new pancake shaping skill:  a footprint!  The toes need a little more finesse, but not bad for a first try.

Pussy willows and forsythia made an Easter centerpiece.

Since both DH and DS2 had a four day weekend, they decided to make a batch of bratwurst, jerky, and smoked snack sticks.  One little glitch--the casings they were sold to make the snack sticks with were too small for our stuffing tube--they were breakfast link size--and a last minute substitution had to be made with what other casings we had on hand.  So our snack sticks look more like kielbasa. . . DH says they are "snack logs".

Suddenly the grass is growing like crazy, the lawns and hay fields are all green, and quite a few of the trees are starting to leaf out.

The rhubarb has jumped into gear too.  If it keeps growing at this rate, I'll be able to make a pie with it next week.  I've never had fresh rhubarb for pie in April before.

Most of my daffodils are in bloom, as are the forsythia.

The hyacinths are at their peak, and the wasps have woken up from their winter's nap.  They are loving the fragrant waxy blooms.

Tulips are blooming on the south side of the house (as are the dandelions!)  The tulips in my other flower beds are nearly ready to open as well.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chive & Garlic Corn

This is one of the recipes I tried in March that both DH and I loved.  It's so good, a nice change from 'plain' frozen corn.  (If I can't can my own, I don't usually eat canned corn, but prefer to buy frozen corn). The recipe comes from Taste of Home's 2008 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes cookbook.  It calls for the frozen corn to be thawed before using, so I just dumped mine in a pan, added a little water, and heated it until the water began to steam.  Then I drained out the water, and continued as the recipe directs.

Chive 'n' Garlic Corn

1 package (16 oz) frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced chives (mine were cut fresh from my chives planting, and 'minced' by snipping with my herb shears)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used 2 cloves, and put them through my garlic press)
1/8 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

In a large skillet, saute corn and onion in butter for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  Stir in the chives, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Yield: 4 servings.

Quick to make, and what a nice way to dress up a commonly used vegetable.  I made a big batch of this and took it as my dish to pass to the church potluck on Palm Sunday.  It disappeared really fast.  By the time I got through the line, the dish was nearly empty, and DH didn't get any at all!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Childrens Suspenders

I don't know why, but it seems that even though K3 and Toad really have two different body types--she's built like a stick and he's more stocky, like their father--neither one of them seems to be able to keep their pants from falling down.  Doesn't seem to matter the size; some are inches too short, some are the right length, some are long, and all look like they fit in the waist.  Doesn't seem to matter whether they are denim jeans, jeans with elastic waist bands, jeans with 'adjustable' waistbands, or stretchy leggings or sweatpants. Those kids just can't keep their pants up.  Seems like every ten minutes or so they are hiking up their britches again so that they don't get tripped up by the low riding pants (or because they're resembling plumbers and some elder has told them to 'fix your pants').

And it's not just those two whose pants are constantly sliding down.  I've heard the same complaint from a few other mothers and grandmothers about their own youngsters these days.

Which makes me wonder why it is just about impossible to find child-sized suspenders in the store.  DS2 was a skinny child (his uncle nicknamed him "Stick Boy"), and from the time he was old enough to walk until he was in second or third grade, he wore suspenders to keep his pants up. He had a few pair; suspenders weren't trendy, but they weren't all that hard to find back then. Now, however, suspenders seem to be non-existent unless you want to buy them online and pay a small fortune for dressy ones from a bridal/tuxedo store or dance costume company.  Dressy ones not needed, just nice durable every day suspenders to keep pants in the proper place.

So, I decided that this grandma was just going to have to make some suspenders if K3 and Toad were going to have any luck keeping their pants up.

After finding all the necessary parts--patterned elastic, adjusters, and clips (all of which I had to get online because apparently none of the craft stores near me carry any suspender making ingredients)--it didn't take me long at all to whip up some really cute suspenders.

Seriously, not long at all.  Maybe 30 minutes, tops, to  make two sets.

I made Toad's slightly shorter than K3's, but both are adjustable and should last several years before they are outgrown.  Maybe by then the manufacturers of little kids' pants will make a product that stays in place while being worn.

K3's are a really cute light green with multi-colored polka dots.

Toad's are red with black paw prints.  He's a fan of Paw Patrol, so I have the feeling he's going to call these his "Paw 'Trol" suspenders.

I mostly followed this tutorial for making them, substituting in the triangle adjusters in the back instead of sewing the elastics together where they cross.  I figure they will fit more comfortably, longer, if they are adjustable that way and not having a 'rigid' triangle that gets lower on the back as the kid grows.

These two pair will go in their Easter baskets.  I think I'll make a few more pair to keep here in my stash of Emergency Grandkid Clothing for when they come visiting and their suspenders get left at home (which, given the disorganization of both their parents, is bound to happen.  That's the reason I started my stash of grandkid accessories in the first place.)  Plus, there's bound to be more grandkids in future years who need suspenders.  Heck, if low-rise jeans for women don't go out of fashion soon, I might make myself some suspenders.  Whatever happened to pants that sit at your waist like nature intended?

Friday, April 7, 2017

April Goals

April has lived up to it's reputation (April showers. . .) so far.  I think we've had rain at least half the day 4 days of the six April has given at this point.  At least the weekend was beautiful (and full of outdoor work), and this coming weekend looks promising as well.

With the wet weather, I've had lots of indoor time for thinking and planning.  Some of which has resulted in my list of goals for the month.
  1. ride 12 times (barring any more lost shoes or lame horses)
  2. lose 2 pounds
  3. lose 1" of waist
  4. walk 1/2 hr 3-4x week (wonder if walking in the woods with the grandkids on Saturday mornings counts?  I haven't so far because it's been a less than vigorous pace, but then again it is usually an hour or more, so maybe could count as 1 half-hour vigorous walk session?)
  5. try 4 new recipes
  6. do 1 jigsaw puzzle
  7. read 2 books -- 1 non- & 1 fiction
  8. 1 hr declutter/organizing per week
  9. reduce anxiety
  10. finish Peru socks & K3 sweater
  11. plant peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots & potatoes in garden
  12. put the Quarter Horse up for sale
All of these goals are totally obtainable.  Not one of them is out of the question. (Well, maybe #11 is, since it is more dependent on the weather than the rest of them.  I can't plant seeds into cold,waterlogged soil. . . )

Number 9 seems a little nebulous, but if I said that it could also be listed as "be kinder to myself" or "take a nap when I need to" or "just because I did it when I was 20, 30, 40 doesn't mean I have to do it now at 45" or "just say 'not my issue'" maybe that gives you an idea of what the objective is with this one.  I, more often than not, find myself feeling over faced, exhausted, or with people trying to put more responsibility on my shoulders than necessary. 

DH and I have had a few conversations lately on where the line is between helping and enabling.  Which is sort of ironic since some of the things he would prefer me to be responsible for (versus him being responsible) could fall on the enabling side. I understand that he's kind of overwhelmed at work, but does that mean it's okay to expect me to pick up more of the tasks at home if doing so is overwhelming me? Does he really require 2-3 hours "relaxing" on the couch in front of the TV with the computer on his lap everyday after work?  Or could he, perhaps, do a few chores instead?

I won't even get into the whole when/if/how long each week we should have the grandkids over. . . that is definitely a balancing act between 'for the good of the child' and 'enabling a parent to not change their ways'.  That topic, though, is probably the biggest source of my anxiety this year.  And the impetus for the helping vs enabling conversations between DH & I. There are so many other things I'd rather spend my time with him doing than rehashing the 'what to do about the kids' topic every few days.

Another source of my anxiety is that the population of this little place here will be changing again at the end of April.  And it will be in flux for no one really knows how many months after that.  DD2 will be coming home from college when the semester ends, but then leaving for her study abroad trip a couple of weeks later.  She'll be gone for six weeks, then home for about a month before leaving to go back to college.  Right about the time DD2 heads back to the U.P., DD1 very likely will be moving home again in order to do her student teaching.  Apparently, even though student teaching is an unpaid semester of full time work, those education students doing the teaching are not allowed to work elsewhere (the premise being they are teaching all day, plus doing lesson planning and grading papers in the evenings and on weekends and so have no time for outside employment). As such, with no income, DD1 has requested to move back home for her final semester of college and has asked to be assigned to a school within a reasonable commute of this little place here.  We aren't really expecting her to move out immediately after her graduation in December, so I have no idea, once April ends, when DH & I will return to empty nest status.  There is a strong possibility that there will be a wedding for DD1 and Honorary Son before the nest is emptied again.

So, yeah, I feel that it's important for me to get a grip on my anxiety level before this month is over.  Coping mechanisms will be needed in the future for sure.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Tea Is Pink

. . . And it smells delicious.  Fruity.  It has dried apple pieces in it, as well as dried citrus, pieces of beet, and flower petals.  Rose, hibiscus, and orange blossom.  Rose hips too.

I have to confess, I've never liked tea.  I've tried it many ways through the years--hot, cold, iced, sweet--and my reaction has always been the same.  BLECH!!  I've been known to call it "hay water" because that's my take on it--it tastes like a hay chaff infused horse water bucket (ask me how I know these things. . . LOL).

But then, DD2, who absolutely loves tea, recently introduced me to a whole new tea world.  Unfortunately it's pricey, but, mmm, I can stand to drink this stuff!  She'd been given some Teavana tea by a good (and generous) friend.  And because it contained absolutely no 'tea'; as in black tea or green tea, she thought I might actually like it.

She was right.  Darn it.  So, not only am I 
  • a picky eater (have been all my life; probably the only kid in the world who hated fish sticks, hot dogs, and fast food burgers) who has a palate for 'real' food, 
  • a picky beer drinker who can't stand any of the popular commercial beers (anything in a can,  bottle or keg with a TV advertisement basically) even if it's given to me for free; who likes dark, thick, microbrews (the higher the gravity the better; Imperial Stouts are the bomb!)
I'm a picky tea drinker.

Apparently the only tea I like is not your standard comes-in-a-tea-bag-in-a-box-at-the-grocery-store kind of tea.  Nope.  Me, I like the expensive 'loose' herbal kind of tea with no tea leaves at all.  In fact, it doesn't have leaves of any sort.  I've tried a couple different flavors now, and I like the fruit and flowers (and cocoa nibs!) teas. Sorry mint and red raspberry leaf, you, too, taste like hay water.  

Guess I'm going to have to learn to grow and blend my own fruity/floral teas now.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Falling Short Again

These were my official March goals:

  1. Ride at least 12 times (preferably three rides a week).
  2. Walk 1/2 hour 3-4x a week (actually, this was a directive from my Dr. in late February and is in effect until mid-April) plus workout at least once a week.
  3. Lose 2 pounds (a February do-over).
  4. Lose at least 1" from my waist (also February do-over).
  5. Try one new recipe a week (need to eat more meat and veggies and less starch/pasta/potato/rice).
  6. Do one jigsaw puzzle.
  7. Read one novel and one horse related non-fiction from my book collection.
  8. Spend at least 1 hour a week on decluttering/organizing.
  9. Put the Quarter Horse up for sale (need to get current nice photos and a video of him being ridden would be helpful to speed up the sale).
  10. Knit a sweater for Toad (to be an Easter gift) and at least start a sweater for K3 (hopefully also for Easter, although her end of April birthday will be a backup date).
  11. Start my tomato, pepper, broccoli and cabbage seeds.

Now that March has come to an end I see that, like February, I fell a bit short of accomplishing those goals. Honestly, March was a struggle, and so far April has been fairly anxious too.  Not to blame the days I spend with Toad and K3, but a whole bunch of my (previous project/relaxation) time has gone there.  In addition to the hours they are actually here each week--typically close to 24 continuous-- at least another hour or two weekly is spent in discussion with DH that relates to them (or, rather, the parenting they are getting or not getting at home).  It's a tough time.  That's a topic for another post, one of these days, when I feel like I have an answer.  Or, at least, can write about it objectively and not sound like I am bashing anyone. Like I said, it's a tough time.

To update where I am with the goals I set for March is the topic of this particular post, so let's get on with it.

Goal #1, well, I came pretty close.  I had 9 or 10 rides out of the 12 I had set as target.  Could have made all twelve except that the Quarter Horse again lost a shoe, which resulted in three lost days that could have been (and two of them had been reserved as) riding time.  Darn all this rain and mud we've had and continue to have!!

Goal #2.  Nope, nope, big NOPE.  I have failed so bad at this.  My only hope is that the exhaustion and strong heart-pounding I feel after slogging through ankle deep mud to feed a few of the horses (who live in round the clock turnout) at the eventing barn has made up for some of those walks that didn't happen.  Honestly, just getting the morning feed done at the eventing barn and then 6-10 stalls (depending on the day) cleaned at the dressage barn have been leaving me pretty much wiped out on physical activity for the remainder of the day Monday through Friday.  And I can't wait to go back to my Dr. later this month and ask him WHY?!? I am feeling worse in terms of energy level even though I am taking both the D3 and Iron supplements he put me on back in mid-February.  Six weeks should be at least starting to make a difference, shouldn't they?  If those 'lacks' are the real problems (which I'm skeptical they are; I asked for a referral to an endocrinologist and this was the answer I was given).

Goals 3 & 4:  Depends on how you look at it.  On my official weigh and measure day (March 31st) I was up 2.5 pounds from the beginning of the month, and down slightly in measurement of various body parts (ribcage, waist, hips, thigh, upper arm. . .) and I was also on my period.  Normally I wouldn't jump on the scale again until the end of April, but that 2.5 pounds really bugged me, so on April 2nd (the end of my period) I reweighed myself and found that I weighed 3.5 pounds less than I had on the 31st, which meant a loss of one pound in the month of March--and a pretty clear indication of how menstruation can affect your weight/shape.  I didn't remeasure, so not sure what the real loss in inches for the month was.

Goal #5, met.  YAY, I got one!  New recipes were an Amish style chicken and noodles dish, a doctored up corn--who would have thought corn with onion, garlic and chives would be delicious?!? (it was awesome, definitely a keeper recipe and one I will put on the blog), a seasoned green bean recipe, and a dinner (pork chops) recipe I can't remember at the moment.

Goal #6 also met.  Doing a jigsaw puzzle has been a nice mental break. Plus, the drawers of puzzles I have in an old dresser are slowly getting emptied.

Goal #7, sort of.  I did read the novel; enjoyed it immensely.  The non-fiction book got set aside and I will have to decide if I want to keep and finish it, keep it for reference (using the index when seeking the info within) without finishing, or just get rid of it.

Goal #8 I didn't keep close track of the time, but I think I managed to pull this one off.  At least, the "Goodwill Box" in the basement has gotten a little fuller (and should be taken in for donation in April) as well as several non-usable items being disposed of.

Goal #9 has not officially happened.  I guess I did some 'research' on best place/way to market him but I haven't pulled the plug and put up a listing yet.  Partly due to that lost shoe (and resultant lameness) in the latter part of March.

Goal #10 Got this one done!  With the exception of the buttons, Toad's sweater is finished.  K3's is started.  One adjustment to the goal has been made: they will not be Easter gifts (due to how many things seem to get lost and never used at their home) but will stay at this little place here for use when the grandkids need a sweater or jacket here (weather appropriate clothing, or the lack of, is an ongoing issue when they come to visit).

Goal #11  This one also got accomplished as intended!  There are dozens of little green sprouts soaking up the sun in front of the sliding glass door in my living room.