Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the Agenda - Baking (and then, some more baking!)

It's that time again when I go on a bit of a baking binge. No, not baking ahead for Christmas; not even for Thanksgiving for that matter. But I will be doing a good bit of baking off and on this week now -as often as I have time and the energy that is -in preparation of the Annual Bazaar that the women of our church here will be running on Saturday, November 1st!

And let me tell you this, I just hope any bread baking I do this week now turns out as good as the Whole Wheat bread I baked this past Saturday but minus all the hassles that were involved in that production!

First off, Friday night, I drove down to Milesburg to pick up my older daughter there and bring her up home here to spend the weekend with me and my next door neighbor -one of her closest friends. She has a walking cast on her leg now but still is not allowed to put ANY weight at all on that leg. (She broke two bones in her left ankle about 6 weeks ago and will be off work, laid up, in essence, for at least 6-8 more weeks with this problem.

She wanted to come up here this weekend because I had said I planned to bake some bread and she wanted to watch me do that so she can get a little more idea of how to go about baking bread.

Normally, it takes me about 4-5 hours from start to finish to make a batch of bread but this time I sure set some records I think in having it take more like 10-12 hours from start to finish!

First off, I had my ingredients all measured out and the first four items in the big bowl I use, just waiting for me to measure out the hot water and pour it in to mix with the butter, molasses, karo syrup and honey and get the butter mixed in and semi-dissolved. But before I do that, I have to measure out 1/2 cup of hot water (between 110-125 degrees temperature), add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of flour to that and mix it up and then, empty in 2 packages of dry yeast and proof my yeast. The water and yeast combination should start to kind of produce tiny bubbles at first and then, rather quickly, those bubble should grow and make the yeast mixture develop a foamy head (like pouring  a beer, you could say and you get a head on the beer) and it should then measure to a full cup of the yeast liquid. Well, in this process on Saturday, the yeast was either no good or just very lazy because it seemed to take forever before it started to form that head and it didn't come clear up to the 1 full cup measure either. More like a little more than 3/4 cup is all the higher it got.

But, I decided to go with what I had and use that. However, before I had a chance to add it to my batter, the foamy head just sort of went "poof" and disappeared taking my yeast mixture then down to the 1/2 cup measure I started with.

Now that really set me on edge because I've never seen yeast proofing where it sort of evaporated on me before. So I called my neighbor who has been baking bread way longer than I have and asked her if she'd ever seen that happen. Well, she said no because she said she never proofs her yeast.

Hmmmm. That surprised me because as I mentioned then to her, it was her younger sister (who is my age) who told me it was always a good idea to proof the yeast. This then surprised my friend because she said "Oh, I didn't know she proofs her yeast!" Well, I was convinced that was who had told me to do that so I held my ground, insisting it was her sister who said that to me.

So anyway, she didn't know if that yeast would work or not and I went back to the business at hand of adding all my flour then to my dough mixture and even getting my mixing bowl all ready to wrap in waxed paper on top with about 7 or 8 tea towels covering the bowl and even wrapping a heavy lap blanket around the bowl too and then, placing it just above my radiator to let the dough rise. (Well, hopefully, it would rise.)

So, there I was worrying about whether this dough would rise so I could bake it and my daughter suggested I go online and look for websites about working with yeast and troubleshooting then. WOW! Turned out to be a good suggestion because I found a website that told me just about anything I'd ever need to know about working with bread dough and yeast!

First off, I learned that if you proof your yeast and the liquid does not double -or as was my case, turn into a liquid product measuring 1 cup -then the yeast is no good and the advice was to pitch that and start the proofing all over with a fresh pack (2 packs in my case) of yeast. SO I did that and this time, that yeast kicked into high gear right from the beginning and in no time, it was up to the 1 cup measure.

The advice also said that you could add this yeast to the dough, even if you were through with mixing in the dry ingredients so I did that too then. After which, I was to add a little more flour and make sure that all got well worked into the dough. And, I did that then but boy, what a job that was to work the yeast and a little extra flour into the dough that was already well mixed! It took me a good 20 minutes of kneading to finally get the dough to the right consistency to let it try to rise then.

And rise, it did! But whether that was due completely to the addition of more yeast and fresh active stuff to boot, or maybe it could have been due to the fact my daughter and her friend, my neighbor, and I then sat down to eat supper while my dough was sitting on the warm radiator doing its thing while I got my mind away from the bread dough and forgot it was rising away till almost 2 1/2 hours had passed!

It did rise up quite nicely so I panned it out and even got enough dough from this to form six fairly even sized loaves to bake! I set the pans with the measured and rolled out dough loaves on my counter, layered on waxed paper and the tea towels as well as the blanket to cover the pans then so the bread could do the second rise.

And while it was doing that, my daughter and I moved into the living room to catch the Penn State/Ohio State football game just past the start of the third quarter. If you saw that game or read anything about it, when we tuned in Penn State was down by 10 points with the score being 17 to 10. But we got really engrossed in the game because Penn State came back after half-time loaded for bear! And they played a great game then that got tied up with about 1 minute to go to the end of the game and that of course, sent them into overtime play. Penn State scored a touchdown and then Ohio scored a touchdown so again, it was tied up and it went into double overtime then! Sadly, Ohio managed to score another touchdown ending the game then with the score being 31-24!

And the whole time we were watching this, my bread loaves were merrily rising away just waiting for me to toss them into the oven and get them baked! My getting my head all wrapped around the football game meant the bread was well overdue then to be baked!

Into the oven it went around midnight and finally, by 2 a.m. Sunday morning, I got the last two loaves baked and out of the oven to cool.

And I have to say, the bread looked terrific!

I looked for a loaf that was maybe a little smaller than the rest and cut a couple slices of it, slathered some good REAL butter on that warm bread and boy, did that ever taste good.

Perfection. Yes, indeed, it was! Nothing beats freshly baked bread sliced with REAL butter on it, watching that butter melt and then, popping it in your mouth.

Simply heaven in my book.

So I ended up by Sunday afternoon -after having cut into two loaves of bread by then with breakfast as well as dinner that I still had 4 really nice specimens of Whole Wheat bread to wrap and put in the freezer and to take to the Bazaar on Saturday.

No, I'm not done yet -as I still have to mix up some Swedish rye bread and pray that I get the same result with that as I did with the Whole Wheat stuff so I will have then, hopefully at least 8 loaves of bread to donate to the Bazaar!

And somewhere in between the bread baking, I have cookies I have to bake too to give to the Bazaar. I'm planning on making Maple and Bacon cookies iced with maple and bacon flavored icing along with Creamsicle cookies too, with orange flavored icing for them too. (Yes, these are what I call "cheater cookies" though as they are both new items I picked up at Walmart to try out and hopefully surprise people who come out for our bazaar by taking them out to the church too. (If you like soft cookies with a little bit of icing on top, try either of these two kinds out -very easy and believe it or not, maple and bacon cookies really do taste sublime!

Live dangerously in the kitchen and give them a try!

Now, off to bed to get some rest so I have enough energy and time to get this baking done!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Little Music, Maybe?

My little Diva, Miss Maya, started taking lessons last year -learning to play the clarinet!

She had an older clarinet loaned to her from Jeff's Dad. (Jeff being Mandy's boyfriend, ya know.) And, last year, when she and Kurt would come up for a weekend, she would bring that instrument along and was supposed to practice on it here, just like she was supposed to do at home.

A couple of times, she did get it out and try to practice a little bit, but it wasn't all that much effort put into the practice time on those occasions.

This year, at school, she is again taking more clarinet lessons but this time, her Mom, I gather, decided she needed to purchase her own clarinet and so, with the aid of some type of easy payment plan, that's what's happening now with the clarinet and lessons are continuing as a result of that.

I just hope, what with the price of purchasing a new instrument, that Mandy is able to get her to practice on this daily and for a reasonable period of time too. I know, all too well, how easy it is to get frustrated with learning to play an instrument and if practice sessions become cumbersome or always too boring, the desire to learn this art can soon evaporate.

Go visit Musicians Friend for added information on anything and everything music related from instrument to music instruction. The powered speakers though -maybe that can wait awhile!


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Little Relaxation Now!

I am, as I have mentioned frequently here, a bonafide night owl! For me to go to bed before 2 a.m. is an occasional thing but hitting the sack earlier than that generally means I'm worn out tired and probably sick.

But, if I've stayed up most of the night till 4 or 5 a.m., now that is more my normal bedtimes!

I attribute much of my night owl traits to the fact that from as far back as I can remember, as a very young child, I never had a reasonable bedtime -nothing that was the same night after night -and most certainly nothing like the pretty strict bedtimes that Mandy insists Maya and Kurtis keep, at least between September and June anyway.

School months schedule there you know and for them, it's 9 p.m. for Kurtis and 9:30 for Maya. Weekends, they get to stay up a little later than that, but especially with Kurtis, he generally is ready to fold up and crash before 10:30 at night on a weekend. Maya, being a little older, can often stay awake as late as midnight on a Friday night but beyond that, and she's done too!

But I tend to do what I consider to be my best "work" -be that reading a book, working on an embroidery project, occasionally knitting or crocheting and for the last couple of years now on really rare occasions, even using my sewing machine.

My mind and generally, my fingers too, just seem to follow my brain's commands better after midnight!

But the late-night tv programming also fits my fancy better too, overall -what with reruns frequently of the old Law and Order shows on one network and on another, reruns of Frasier and/or Cheers!

I really wish though that TVLand would rebroadcast reruns some day again of SOAP as I loved that that show and never got a chance to see much of it when it was actually on the air because at that time I didn't have a recorder and almost always worked the late afternoon to midnight shifts so I couldn't view those favorite programs very often then!

I'd also love to be able to watch some other old hit shows too if only some of these networks would carry ones like WKRP in Cincinnati or Taxi or Hill Street Blues too! I wouldn't even mind rewatching All In The Family and Mash over and over again as well because those programs, in my mind, were pure classics for sitcoms!

The kind of shows that really relax me ya know!

My Dancing Diva!

Don't remember now if I ever discussed one of Miss Maya's favorite activities when she is here, visiting with me but if I did and you find this redundant, my apologies but remember, you're dealing with someone who has a major tendency -due to my now well-advanced age -to be more than a bit senile.

Oh shucks. Who am I kidding there! It hasn't got anything to do with my age now because I've been more than a tad on the senile side for several years now. At least one decade worth and possibly even close to two decades that the memory fails me a lot!

But anyway, I just wanted to tell you about this activity of hers in hopes that I'm not repeating myself.

When she is here, she commandeers my computer and will sit here for hours on end, watching videos of young girls dancing to various types of music. No special format of music, just any music video that features any kind of dancing and she will watch them. She watches them over and over and over again, memorizing what she sees there of the moves these other dancers make and when she thinks she's got a pretty good bead on those moves, she then cranks the video up full blast and starts trying to imitate these dances and the dancers!

The moves this kid can make absolutely amaze me though. Not that she is on top of every step she's seen and fantastic about imitating the other dancers and such, but for a kid her age who is teaching herself this stuff for the most part, she actually does a pretty darned good job.

Since her Mom moved them with her last year down to Middletown though, Mandy did sign Maya up for some dance lessons but as near as I can understand it, the dance lessons she's been getting are geared more towards a gymnastic type of dance with maybe some shades of ballet here and there.

Nothing along the lines of fancy grown up dances like the Mambo or Rhumba or stuff like that. No waltzes either so definitely nothing like lessons given such as dance lessons in LA offers for a special wedding dance or things of that ilk. Besides, the kid is only going to be 11 this weekend, so one would hope she doesn't need to learn any dances like that just yet anyway!

Never the less, I am totally fascinated by her ability in this realm! I have no clue either where that ability came from -most certainly not from me as I am better known for having two very, very left feet! That plus, I generally have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time so that gives you some idea that this is nothing genetic coming through from my side of her family tree. And I know for a fact too that it sure as heck didn't come down from her grandfather either cause he was about as graceful as I tend to be.

Which is to say Not. At. All!

Makes you wonder though doesn't it when you see someone in your family able to do stuff like this and pick it up as easily as she has been able to do!

Camera problems

I have a bit of a problem here now with respect to this new computer and my camera.

The camera I have is just a small Kodak digital with a few little features, including video but nothing fancy. But it suits my needs because I'm not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination and just wanted a camera that generally takes relatively decent snap shots by which to remember this or that event in my life or of the kids when they are here for a visit or now, with the kitten in the house, an occasional shot of her and her unplayful roommates, Sam and Pearl, who live here too!

This camera in particular though has been unlike the previous little digital unit I had in that it has never been good at holding a charge whereas the other camera I had, I could connect it to the computer, charge it up and it would hold that charge in the batteries for several weeks at a clip. This one -not so much in that I was lucky if I had a charge after a day or two.

But that aspect isn't where my problem now lies with the new computer!

It's that I can't figure out how to charge the camera like I used to be able to do by simply plugging it into a usb port here. Frustrating for me because now my camera is virtually dead to me since I can't get it to charge the way I used to do even if it did only hold that charge for a day or two, at least I could time it enough so as to be able to catch a shot here and there.

So if any one reading this knows anything at all about cameras -Kodak model 340 in particular -and charging one via the computer, please let me know what I'm doing wrong and how to correct this so I can once again use my little camera!

Bloody Mess!

About two weeks ago here, one day I was all ready to go out on one of my delivery rounds with some Avon orders but I got side-tracked for a few minutes by a post on my Facebook and I sat down then to read it and probably to comment or at least to indicate that I had "liked" said post.

When I sat down, with my feet pulled under my computer chair, Fica -my little black kitten -decided she wanted to play with my ankles and in doing so, she wrapped her tiny paws around my ankle, with her face centered just under my shin bone (where it connects to the ankle) and then, started to nip at my ankle and dig her very sharp little claws into my skin. Then, quickly tiring apparently of that action, she decided she was going to snag a claw into my clam digger pants I was wearing and proceed from there then to climb up my leg. Well in the process of doing that, she ended up digging those little claws in just a bit too deeply for my liking and I reached down to grab her and pull her away from that game of hers.

I finished what I had set out to do with my Facebook and stood up to get ready to get my purse and other things and in doing that, I glanced down at the floor and to my surprise, actually shock would be a more accurate term, I saw there was blood streaming down my leg and little pools of blood all over the floor all from Fica's game of playing with my ankle and trying to climb up my leg!

I ended up in the bathroom, scrounging for some bandaids to cover the deepest of the scratches and that's when I realized that she had dug into a little cluster of veins right directly above my ankle and it was almost like she had hit the mother lode there with the amount of blood loss evident.

Heck, I even had to take that sandal off and scrub it down on the inside because it was just plain soaked in red!

All the cleanup on the floor, of my sandal and of trying to get the bleeding to cease and desist had me thinking I really wished I had a styptic pencil -like the kind you can get from pinaud at smallflower.com, ya know! But, since there's been no males living in this house who might have things like that stashed away in the medicine chest or other hiding places in the bathroom, I was left to my own devices which meant using bandaids that have cute little cartoon type characters on them because most of the time bandaids are needed here it's to soothe the ruffled feathers of one of the grandkids booboos!

I really did look the sight though after I finished doctoring my leg up and finally got the bleeding to subside!

Such a fashion statement, for sure!

Silly Beasts!

Are you an animal lover? I consider myself to be one, especially since I have three furry "children" here who reside with me.

There's Sammy -the purebred mutt with roots that are more than a bit eclectic. Best description I can think of for him is to say he does look sort of (well, actually very much so) like a minature Benji dog. He's been with me now for five years and he was a little over a year old when we got him. He's basically a very sweet, very mellow little fellow except when a certain neighbor of mine who lives about five houses up the street from me decides to walk his dog and Sam truly hates that dog. As a matter of fact, that is the only dog I have ever seen him react to in a negative way and boy, does he ever. I swear that as soon as that neighbor and his dog leave their house to go for a walk, Sam senses that because he will start by growling a bit and then, the growl gradually changes over to a few barks but by the time this duo gets within view of my living room window, Sam is up in the window sill, barking like a lunatic and his voice changes too in that his bark becomes very ferocious sounding.

I also have two cats now too. Well, actually I have Pearl, who is a little over three years old now, white with orange markings, very, very fluffy and also, a tub of lard to try to pick up now too! She's quite the lazy cat preferring to spend her days reclining -either in the front entry way, where she reposes in the sunlight and pretends to watch people and occasionally animals that go by the house. Or, she also has an affection for resting in the windowsill of the Bay window in the living room too and does pretty much the same thing there as she does out in the front door entryway.

Then there is the other cat that I just acquired about two months ago now. She's actually still a kitten -only about 14 to 16 weeks old now. She's the exact opposite of Pearl in that Fica (yes, that is her name) is solid black, very slight build, shorthaired and anything but the epitome of laziness! She wants very much to play with either Pearl or Sam but neither of them appear interested in the slightest to honoring her spells of trying to badger them into some kind of kitten and cat or kitten and dog games.

It's that aspect between the two felines that I find really humorous though.

If you have a cat or several, you know cats are always searching for some off-the-wall place to get into and lay claim to and one of their favorite things would be boxes. No special kind of boxes are required, and they don't even have to be empty although they do like empty ones quite a bit.

And my house is often a gold mine with empty boxes since I sell Avon products and every two weeks, I always seem to end up then with at least one "new" empty box here. At the rate I've been acquiring these boxes, I'm soon going to be over run with them, I think.

But anyway, that was just a little digression there about how many boxes exist here.

Right now, there are two empty boxes at the entrance to my dining room and they are sitting under a card table, back-to-back. Pearl and Fica have each laid claim to one of these boxes for their special sleeping space at this time and what I find comical is to watch them as they each hop into their respective choice of box and then, move around in it for a little bit to apparently get a feel for the place and it is when they are each doing that moving around, that Fica often gets a little rambunctious, bumping around more than Pearl approves of, and before you know it, Pearl is standing up in her box, leaning on the edge of the top, with her big fat furry paw swatting down at Fica and with each pass of that paw, she lets out a hiss to give a little more warning to Fica. This then gets Fica moving around more in her box so that her movements bump her box into Pearl's which then causes Pearl to launch out another attack.

But that's as far as their feud goes there. They never really get into any knock down, drag it out kind of cat fights. Just petty nonsense as far as I can see going on there.

If they get a little too noisy or push their boxes too much, Sam might get up from where ever he's bee sleeping and meander over to watch the two silly cats for a few seconds and then, it's like his expression is one in which he's thinking "Kids! What the heck you gonna do with 'em."

I was really surprised when I saw how Sam and Pearl do tend to deal with little Fica and have done ever since I brought her home. When Pearl was a kitten, she and Sam made up immediately as friends and playmates and they would rip and tear around the house, chasing each other around, rolling on the floor together, running through the living room as fast as they could go, up onto the couch, along the back of the couch and then, chasing each other over to the next piece of furniture along their race track.

But from the very first sighting by either Sam or Pearl of this kitten, neither of them has befriended her in any way shape or form. No playing games with her with the minor exception being that with the boxes.

Wonder why this is, especially since Sam is very cat friendly and Pearl used to play a lot with Mandy's cat that lived here until they moved down to Middletown last year.

If I didn't know better,(and well truthfully, I don't because I am neither a dog or a cat whisperer, ya know) I'd say Sam and Pearl are discriminating against the little one, poor little Fica, and just plain ignoring her!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just What I Really Need!!!

By the looks of things, I'm becoming somewhat of an eclectic surfer on the web here as I roam around, (surfing, ya know) and find various things of interest inadvertently in the process.

Don't ask me how I find these off the wall things because I get lost from time to time and have no clue what it was that took me hither, thither and yon sometimes on the 'net but it is fun and makes life a little interesting then, now and again.

My latest find though has me wondering why no one around these hills has come up with an idea like this though!

This is a multi-tasking thing that sounds like it should change from being the other woman in Raleigh to perhaps, the other woman in Cooper Township instead.

No,it's not something I personally would feel up to starting myself -not at this stage in my life at any rate -but I sure would love to have someone who would keep my house neat and tidy and also, who would keep me on top of things like paying my bills before they become overdue or reminding me of doctor appointments and other things along those lines that I do have a terrible time remembering.

Heck, I would forget my head some times if it weren't fastened on so you know someone to help keep me at least semi-organized would be a great thing to have.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to afford it, everything would be just hunky-dory, wouldn't it?

Cooking for One!

Over the past year (plus about three extra months) for the most part, my cooking has changed considerably.

When Mandy moved with her two children down to Middletown, PA a year ago this past July, I had to change my methodology in my kitchen and try to downsize the amounts I was previously accustomed to cooking. Those larger casserole meals I generally liked to fix were now off limits unless, of course, I wanted to eat lasagne or spaghetti or roast beef leftovers forever!

Last summer, I still had opportunities to fix somewhat larger meals fairly often though because the grandkids spent several weeks here with me before they had to leave to start school last fall. So that's when my quest to figure out things to fix just for one person with maybe enough leftovers for one more meal every now and again. (I'm not normally one who enjoys leftovers of everything I've fixed for a meal -just certain things that I don't mind reheating and eating.)

But then, last October, my step-granddaughter and her darling little girl moved in here with me and I was once again back in business of fixing slightly larger meals once again. And I didn't worry about leftovers then because frequently, Katie would heat up leftovers for her lunch and as the baby began to eat more and more table food, she also would serve it to her too, so leftovers weren't something that was clogging my refrigerator very often then.

But after Katie moved out back the beginning of March, I was back to the drawing board again with my meal preparations and not only do I not like cooking in very, very small portions, I also do not like eating a full meal all alone either!

So, my menu then often switched to sandwiches - usually cold sandwiches that I just threw together or salads. Not that there's anything wrong with that but it's boring. But then too, cooking just for one person is also very boring too, in my book. There's no anticipation to see if the meal meet someone else's expectations which gives me no incentive then to experiment with new dishes the way I often had done in the past.

But this week, I had a hankering for something I had tasted about 2 weeks ago when the local Moose had a small semblance of a cooking contest for soups and I had made a big crockpot full of Stuffed Pepper Soup as my entry in the contest and each person entering the contest got to judge the other cooks' works too.

Well, there were two specific entries that I especially liked. One was a rice with a tomato base that I found very tasty and the other was some kind of a beef soup with something that was sort of like rice to me but yet, not quite that. Now that beef based soup really tripped my taste buds as it was very, very good! (I was tempted to try to smuggle that whole crockpot full of it out and take it home with me.)

But instead, I thought I knew who had made that soup and so, two days ago, I called that lady - my neighbor, June, who lives a couple houses down the street from me. And yes, I was right -that had been her soup and what it was -well it was Beef Barley Soup and sure, she would be happy to tell me how she fixes it. So she told me the ingredients and so forth and today, I cooked a pot full of it for my supper!

It wasn't quite up to the par level of great flavor that hers had had but it was decent enough that I chowed down two large bowls of it for my supper anyway! And I have leftovers of it in the fridge now that will do me for another meal too now. With possibly enough leftover  though that I might just take what I have in the fridge and make a trip down past Howard to where my older daughter lives and surprise her for lunch of my version of June's Beef Barley Soup!

I'm thinking perhaps daughter Carrie would be very happy to have something really homemade for lunch either tomorrow or perhaps Friday afternoon and I would very much enjoy being able to spend a little quality time visiting with her and seeing to it that she would have a good and nourishing meal since she's still pretty incapacitated with her leg and having two bones in her ankle broken!

Don't tell her I'm thinking of doing this as I think it would work much better if I can just take it down and surprise her!

A New Law?

Ever notice how you can see something and wonder what the heck it is that whoever is writing is actually writing about?  Something that just sort of grabs your curiosity and won't let go until you check into it and see what it is they are actually writing about?

I did that last night when I saw something that mentioned something referred to as EGH Law and I had to find out what the heck kind of law this really was!

Well, imagine my surprise when I realized it was not a new law of any kind at all but rather just the initials of the partners in this doggone law firm!

Well, okay -that does make sense, of course. But it just is one of those things that caught my eye and gave way to my wondering if this was perhaps some new specific area of legal concern, ya see!

But anyway -I put this under the header of "learning something new every day" now!

Emergency Equipped!

So, you're probably really getting tired now of my writing about my commode problems I've had here of late, aren't you?

Well, today I decided I was going to arm myself for battle in the event that the darned commode decides to act up on me again!

I had an appointment this afternoon in Clearfield at the Cancer Clinic for my monthly "port flush" -which, if you have lousy veins that nurses have to access for IVs or blood work, and have ever had chemo, chances are you have one of these "ports" and know what I'm talking about there then. It's simply a little mechanism inserted just under the skin that gives access to your blood vessels when you have to have a lot of blood tests, IVs or chemo and they don't have to keep poking and poking you to find a good vein then to access. But anyway, if you have one of these, then you know they have to be flushed out with a solution, generally about once a month, to keep them open and available that way.

After I had that taken care of, I headed straight up to Walmart and back to the bathroom plumbing supplies area where I got myself another plunger -one with the rubber end like the one that used to exist on the old plunger I had but which had rotted away from age and the other plunger I got to replace it, had a different type of end piece on it which didn't fit right in the bowl of the commode so it wasn't getting a good attachment and thus,no suction.

And along with that new plunger, I also invested in an auger thing -or "Snake" as they are commonly referred to -to use in the event of another blockage that a plunger can't work to release!

Be Prepared! Yes!I am now that person!

And this news will no doubt come as a relief to my neighbor across the street who frequently gets a call from me for his assistance (and who answered my call last night and got my commode unplugged). And, also -my friend up the road aways -Richard -and his dear wife, Andrea -will both be relieved to know they can go to their kids places this winter and stay in the warmer climes there assured that I now have at least that base covered within my house!

I was quite relieved too when I realized those two items together cost me less than $10 bucks too! A real bargain price, in my book, for something to keep my bathroom from flooding!

New Glasses Needed!

Oh Brother! I have come to the conclusion that I either need a refresher course in reading or new glasses!

Earlier today, I saw something online that, the way I read the text and saw the photo, I took it to be an advertisement for some really great bargain on a KitchenAid mixer that was a larger than normal sized stand and bowl but was available for a really fantastically low price -like less that $50!

Now, if you know anything at all about KitchenAid appliances, you know that there ain't no way that a price like that could be true, don't you? And I'm really glad I looked this ad over a little closer and realized I had read the whole doggone thing wrong!

What it was -well actually it was an ad for a rev-a-shelf mixer lift but somehow when I looked at the page, I was reading things into this that simply didn't exist!  Sometimes, the way my eyes and brain works these days, I often begin to wonder if maybe I actually have some form of Dyslexia the way I mix letters and words up when I read.

I was rather upset with myself though with this particular piece because I would dearly love to have a KitchenAid mixer again!  The guy I went with for about 2 1/2 years back in the early 80s (was even engaged to him too) gave me a stand mixer with all the attachments one year for Christmas and I really liked it. But, like just about all pieces of equipment like that, after about 20 years of pretty heavy use, it sort of just ground down and wouldn't work any longer. So now, I have another stand mixer (a Hamilton Beach, in a bright red, sitting on my counter) but I bought this one primarily because the head is detachable and I use it as a hand mixer that has more power to it than the usual hand mixers tend to have!)

Maybe though, I was just so intrigued by the mere thought of getting another KitchenAid for a super great price that I read the text the way I just wanted it to read!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Never Fails!

Every Tuesday night (well, when I remember to do this, that is) the very last thing I do before getting ready to go to bed is to take the garbage out. And, in the house, the very last thing I do with respect of getting the garbage ready to take out is to empty the cat's lovely (and stinky) litterbox!

And, without fail, as soon as I start to empty that darned litterbox into the garbage, the little black imp kitten, named Fica, comes running from whatever hiding place she'd been snoozing in and apparently any movement whatsoever of the litter box is like shaking a pan of dry cat food in a small bowl -which I use to entice the little stinker to come back in the house on those occasions when she has turned, magically, into an escape artist and has managed to slide by me when I happen to open the front door!

But this thing she has with the litter box really annoys me!

It's the same principal behind my being upset with her at her urgent need to start on the collection of "things" in the litter box that will be bound for my next trip of taking a garbage bag out to the can for next week's pickup.

I'd appreciate it very much if the nice litter, with it's underlay of baking soda, could at least look pristine for more than 3 minutes after I have gone to the trouble of emptying and cleaning out that litterbox!

Ah, the trials and tribulations that exist for those of us with cats!

It is what it is and I'm doomed to deal with it so may as while smile and hold my nose!

Not Trying To Rush The Season....

I found something tonight online that really is tugging away at my heart (and purse strings) too! I think it's okay to look at holiday things online this early on, isn't it?

I ask that because I am also a faithful supporter of my good friend and fellow blogger, Jim Sullivan (he writes Suldog and also, writes a lot of pieces too for the Boston newspapers.) But anyway, several years back now, Jim started a program he calls "Thanksgiving Comes First" in which he -and numerous other bloggers use the symbol he created for this event to call attention to the fact that Thanksgiving, in his book, often takes a backseat to Halloween and especially also to Christmas. It's Jim's theory too that it is grossly unfair that so many stores insist now on opening on Thanksgiving Day for pre-Black Friday Sales and thus, their employees then get cheated out of spending quality time away from work on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a big delicious meal, football games galore as well as family and friends.

I mention this now because this site I discovered tonight -well, it's got all kinds of lovely Christmas things for sale and they are all different ornaments in one of my favorite type of things! I just don't want Jim to think I'm forgetting about the Thanksgiving Comes First pledge, you see!

Anyway, what it is consists of snowbabies -oodles and oodles of snowbabies and I dearly do love those things! Generally, the stuff I've seen in the card shops and other stores of this nature have been VERY pricey and well beyond my meager means. Though it still doesn't keep me from looking at them and drooling over them anyway!

But this site - with its department 56 snowbabies at Christmasplace - Oh my! It has such a huge selection of these sweet little snowbabies -ornaments, Christmas village items -you name it, they seem to have it there -and some even at prices that maybe I can actually spring for a couple of the specialty ornaments shown!

I'd really like to be able to get maybe one or two of the small ornaments, perhaps each year, for my tree but with the idea in mind that when I'm dust, they will then go to my grandchildren as mementos for their own trees down the road, sometime in the future, which in reality isn't all that darned far off now, ya know!

So, next comes the hard part though -of trying to decide which one or two ornaments I'd like to get this year and with which to start a collection of them of my own!

Wish me luck on making a wise choice there!

Memory Joggers - NEEDED!

Almost forgot to do something tonight!

Something of utmost importance and it just about slipped my mind but thankfully, I realized that tonight is the night to take the rest of this week's garbage out to the bin and lug that to the curb so the guys in the trash pickup truck can pick it up about 6 a.m. today and haul it away!

I do usually try to keep my number of bags down to only two bags, as that's the number the company has deemed should be acceptable to care for toting my trash away. However, every now and again, especially if I happened to have been on a little bit of a cleaning tear through the house sometime during the week, odds are that my number of bags might just exceed their limits!

And tonight just might be one of those nights too!

I think I have three bags in the trash can and I got really brave earlier today too in that I lugged the box that's been sitting by the trash can (away from the road and pickup zone) since I broke the darned commode!  Said box contains several pieces of what was left from the broken tank of the commode. (The commode itself is still sitting back from the road beside where the trash can sits all week mainly because I'm afraid to try to lug it over to the berm to see if the pickup guys would be nice enough to haul that away.

Maybe next week I'll be really brave and get that taken up to the curb too!

If I Could Just Locate Some Things!

Strange, isn't it sometimes, the thoughts that cross a person's mind.

Take this for an example of inflation or the cost of living or whatever you care to call it but how prices have changed.

My ex-husband and I got married in May of 1972 -42 years ago this past May, that would have been since that big, exciting day occurred. Okay -that was a bit of sarcasm there because we had a very small wedding, and also, extremely small reception too with probably only about 12-15 guests in attendance.

I never had an engagement ring but we did have a double-ring ceremony. However, our wedding bands were very plain -no engraving on the exterior and just had our initials and the date etched inside the rings.

They were, at that time, on sale for -if I remember correctly -around $30 for each ring! And that was bargain basement prices for those rings back then.

Today, rings that are virtually identical to these gold wedding rings would cost us around $400 for two rings! Wow!

Now I'm wishing I knew where in blazes I stashed those darned rings because I could sell them for a nice tidy little bit of profit then!

About the only way I could be able to say my marriage (other than having had my children) was a profitable venture but it only took 42 years to realize that!

Close Call!

Last month, I told my friends (and family too) that the operative word of the month that meant my nemesis was the word "commode!"

That, if you recall, was because of a little clumsiness on my part when I fell backwards in the bathroom and into the tank on the back of the commode and it broke into several pieces and flooded my bathroom. And then, two weeks later, the commode got plugged up somehow and overflowed on me -not just once but three times between 11 p.m. and 3 in the morning -and resulted in a friend of mine coming down here early in the morning then with his equipment to use to unplug that unit!

I've made numerous jokes now over both those events but trust me, funny as they are to relate later, I'm really not interested in the least in having any more problems of either type again! Not soon, not EVER!

But tonight, I got a scare as I really thought the commode was going to overflow on me again!

I noticed before I flushed it that the water level was not up where it usually is but instead, was very low. However, I didn't think of that as being a problem until I pushed the lever to flush to commode and the water didn't go down but instead, just kept coming up, closer and closer to the rim of the bowl before it stopped.

And thank goodness it did stop there because a few more drops and yes, I'd have been faced with the chore of mopping up yet another overflowing unit!

This time though, I did take immediate actions!

I found the shutoff valve and turned the water off and tried to plunge the damned thing to get the water to begin to go down but all to no avail!

Because I really didn't want to face the morning's light with no facility that my roommate and I really both would want to use, and since it wasn't quite 10 p.m. when this happened, I phoned my "go to" neighbor across the road from my house to see if he maybe had a "snake" -one of those auger type things you use to deplug blocked commodes -and he said yes, he did and also, that he would gather it up along with his plunger and be right down!

And he was here in less that 10 minutes and in less that 5 minutes, using his plunger only, he had the lovely thing working properly again with not a drop of excess water landing on my bathroom floor this time.

Now, I had been seriously thinking because of the problem I had with it overflowing a month ago, that it might be a good investment for me to purchase one of these "snake" things but I hadn't actually taken the initiative to do that yet, I decided after tonight's little episode that I'm not taking any chances any more.

Tomorrow, I have a doctor's appointment in Clearfield and after I finish with that, I'm making a stop at Walmart and will be getting an auger thing as well as a new plunger too because the plunger I have now, although it is new (just bought it about 3 months ago), this one is worthless!

Be Prepared! My older grandson, who is vying for his Eagle Scout badge now and my younger grandson  -little Kurtis -who just this fall started with the Cub Scouts program -both would give old Gram a pat on the back for taking that slogan to heart and becoming prepared for any future commode emergencies!

Unexpected Site

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a long, long time now, you may recall that one of my favorite pastimes is doing embroidery work. I still do like doing that kind of stuff and, as a matter of fact, right now I am working on a tabletopper. It's a pretty little design - just a small floral spray that sort of winds and twines around the outer edges of the cloth. Nothing super fancy or anything like that and a very easy design to follow.

Quite different from the tablecloth I finished in September that was done as a wedding gift for a dear young friend of mine and which alerted me, big time, to the fact that my fingers don't move near as quickly nowadays as they did not too terribly long ago.

What caused that bit of awareness, you ask? Well, the fact that it took me over four months to complete that project whereas in days gone by, it would have only taken me about 6-8 weeks to complete an undertaking like that one!

But, anyway -I do love to work on either tabletoppers or tablecloths mainly although I do occasionally venture into embroidery on pillowcase and hand or tee towels. The towels though, I only like to work with terry cloth towels and steer clear of the ones that are designs stamped on plain cotton fabrics because those are strictly for show and I have no use for stuff like that. (Well, except of course for tabletoppers and tablecloths -which definitely are "for show" aren't they?)

And, I'm always on the lookout too for online places that sell stuff -such as tablecloths, tabletoppers, table runners, etc., and like to check them out to see if I can find any good bargains that way.

However, tonight -I had a bit of a surprise though when I saw a possible lead for some different tablecloths and the wording said simply striped tablecloth. My curiosity got the better of me and I clicked in to check out what this might be, but unfortunately -as pretty as those tablecloths pictured on this site were, they definitely were not anything of the type I would be able to use with my love of embroidery.

There were some that were a plain type cloth that didn't appeal to me but there were some too that did have some beautiful edgings and might possibly work except for the fact I would have to have my own transfer patterns to use on those and they also would have been very cost prohibitive for my purposes too.

Oh well, it was fun looking at all the tablecloths that site offered anyway! And it did serve to give me some little ideas I could perhaps use for under-cloths to show off my tabletoppers that I have completed for my own home too though.

So it may have been an unexpected site visit but in the end, it was worth the trip!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just one from Maya!

Since my daughter and grandkids (Maya and Kurtis) moved a year ago this past July down to Middletown, PA, I am not privy to a lot of the funny doings with the grandkids as I was when they were living here with me.

But every now and then, something happens that one of the kids has done or said and I get a big kick out of these various comments.

Last week, I was talking on the phone with Maya and I asked her what she wanted for her birthday -which will be this coming Saturday now -the 18th.

Her initial response was "Well, I need markers, but Daddy is getting me them." Okay -I thought, so that rules out Gram getting that for a gift for her. I tried to prod her a little for more of a response as to what she wanted and cracked up when she told me this -"Money, Gram. Just money!"

Wow! Eleven years old and her wants are pretty straight forward -markers and money!

Sad to say kiddo, but money isn't something Gram has in abundance so she had to settle for some shopping I did at J.C. Penney's where I found a very pretty dress in her size and for a bargain basement price, along with a pair of stretch pants and a matching shirt and of course, since I'm the Avon Lady, there was also a little birthstone necklace included too for her!

Money? Well as my older daughter said a long time ago about buying stuff with a credit card, it's like money but well, not really! True enough and my Penney's card is witness to that, for sure!

Without it, there would be nothing under the tree at Christmas and nothing to be able to purchase some nice birthday gifts then too!

Buy now, pay later isn't the best way to operate but sometimes, especially with grandkids, it works wonders!

Makes me say "Hmmmm!"

I just finished writing a post about my current dilemma of sorts with my health insurance plan and after I posted that, I came across a link that had some statements in it that gave me a bit of pause to stop and think.

The link is this one - www.allredinsurance.com and some of the things I noticed were items I wish I'd had available to me when I did purchase some other insurance policies I have had or currently do have now.

I noticed especially in the paragraph about Home Owners Insurance that yes, it covers basic needs, fire, theft and also water damage which had me thinking about policies of that type here and coverage for water damage. I'm wondering what types of water damage it covers. My policy now and any I've had in the past will cover for water damage but only certain types and as such, most won't cover water damage in an area where I think it would be most beneficial for homeowners and that is in the bathroom! Not just because of my recent issues here with the breaking of the commode and then two weeks after that, when the commode was plugged and overflowing but really because water on a bathroom floor around the tub or commode in particular can do a lot of damage and result in the expense of ripping the fixtures out and also the floor and putting a whole new floor in otherwise you might run the risk of someday going to use the commode and if the floor has been damaged, you could easily find yourself on a fast trip down through it and landing where you probably wouldn't want to be! That part of insurance coverage has always baffled me why companies don't or won't offer coverage for that kind of water damage, ya know!

I really liked a particular comment on the sideline for this company though about how insurance can be confusing and you really need someone to explain it all to you!

Yep, now that is a statement I definitely fully agree with!

My New Plan!

Last week, I hit a landmark in my life. Another birthday took place last Wednesday and it was a big one!

I'm now a member of the Seventies Club!

Yep, I hit the 70-year mark and I'm proud as punch to say that I celebrated this event all week long as my "Birthday Week" not just for one day as is the normal celebratory way.

I hadn't really planned on doing that but on Sunday, I started getting a lot of messages on Facebook wishing me a Happy Birthday. I was able to respond to those and thank the people who wished me well but also, explained to them that Sunday wasn't my birthday however, Wednesday -the 8th- was the official date for my entry into the world. I was a mite confused as to how those folks got the notion that the 5th of October was my birthday but was also getting a few chuckles out of it too.

And then, one of my friends suggested I just celebrate the event all week and that's how I came to do that!

That, plus the fact that my little granddaughter, Miss Maya, has a birthday coming up this Saturday now -the 18th -and she isn't really all that little these days now. She will be 11 this weekend and that doesn't really seem possible but, it is what it is ya know.

Plans were already in the making though for my kids and grandkids and I to have a celebration of my big day as well as Maya's upcoming day on Sunday -the 12th -sort of halfway in between our birthdays, ya know, so celebrating the entire week was no problem whatsoever then.

But I decided by Sunday that I had enjoyed this celebration of my Birthday Week so much that I am going to continue celebrating it from here on forward. I'm looking at my life in a way that I see the good things that have come my way over these past 70 years and celebrating that each day now.

I do often tend to joke about life when people ask how I am and I either say something to the effect that I'm still upright or still breathing or not looking at daisy roots and really, that is pretty much how I regard things these days.

I'm grateful, for sure, to have been fortunate enough to have had that may days honoring the occasion of my birth because so many of my friends have not been so lucky. I'm thankful too for having had to cope with cancer now twice in the past 11 years and so far, after the last go-round four years ago, I am cancer free. At least as of today I have that status but who knows what tomorrow might bring? I sure don't but if it drops another type of cancer in my lap, I'll deal with it at that time and regardless of the type or potential severity, will continue to live one day at a time and not delve into all kinds of worries about that! I've always had a tendency to be a bit on the clumsy side so some of the other little problems that seem to visit me -like losing my balance, falling backwards into the tank on the back of my commode and breaking that -well, I've had a whole lot of laughter out of that event!

My theory is be grateful for my family -my kids, my grandkids and my extended family -along with many, many friends and acquaintances I have made over the span of my lifetime. I walk the dog daily and enjoy seeing the scenery around the street in front of my house, the mountains in view from my house and on Sam's and my walk and admire the handiwork of our Creator and the changes that occur in it throughout the year from spring to summer to fall and winter. And it's a beautiful sight, it really is and it makes me love where I live again and again.

So, no matter what happens to come my way, I am determined to work with it as best I can and if at all possible -if it happens to not be something really pleasant -to find ways to joke about it. Not going to stress and worry myself to death about things over which I have no control so a little humor here and there sure won't hurt then, will it?

And it all works to make me feel better along the way then!


Boy, Oh Boy! Here I am, trying to maintain a peaceful stance, live my life as stress free as possible and then, something happens that has potential to having me run astray from that peaceful stance and stress free stuff!

What could that possibly be? Kids? Nope, they've been pretty good about not riling me up. Grandkids? How could I ever blame them for doing anything even slightly bad! (LOL -that one's a bit of a farce but seeing as they don't live with me, I don't normally have to deal with any of their "bad" shenanigans.) Finances? Well, I've dealt with problems in that aspect of my life for way too many years now to let it really bring me down these days. Just worrisome at times but I have to make fun of that and it then does lighten things up a tad.

But what is bugging me right now and is presenting a bit of a problem going forward with my life has to do with the health insurance plan I have had with a certain very large insurance company in Pittsburgh and I've had this policy with them for at least about 9, maybe 10 years now with no major problems.

Until now!

About 10 days ago, I got a lovely notice in the mail telling me my health insurance policy will no longer be available to me after December 31st of this year!

What? Did I read that right? Yes, I did and yes, it upsets me a lot because now I have to go through researching all kinds of plans to find one that offers what coverage I had with this company for an affordable price. The key problem here is going to be finding something with an affordable price because I changed my policy last December to the current plan I have mainly because it offered me insurance that was supplemented by the state and the fee to me then was extremely low -like zero coming out of my pocket and it offered benefits very similar to the prior plan I had with that company.

I have a list of insurance companies that Social Security says operate in this state and that offer supplemental insurance. About the only insurance plan I haven't seen that is supposed to be available is coverage for nc healthcare and I would guess that's primarily because I live in Pennsylvania, not North Carolina!

What really irked me about this cancellation is the fact that about 3 or 4 days after I received the notice that my insurance was being cancelled was the advertisement I received then from that firm telling me how they offer HMO and PPO plans at affordable rates and requesting I check them out!

Hmmm. I'm thinking the right hand there must not be aware of what the left hand is doing when they send out a cancellation one day and 3 days later, send an nice announcement stating they have just the coverage I need!

So now, I'll be checking out the list of companies as provided to me by Social Security to see if I can line up something between now and January 1st so I don't have to rely solely on the darned Medicare plan only!

Wish me luck in this endeavor, will you please?