Saturday, September 28, 2013

Politician or Statesman?

John Gibson, 1943.  From the Collection of
The U.S. House of Representatives.
For some localities, election season is just around the corner and signs imploring "Vote For Me" are appearing on lawns and roadsides daily.  These are mostly local elections, but the same principle  applies.

I was reading the weekly newspaper for Dallas, The Paulding Neighbor, earlier.  It's a very small, sleepy little community so most of the 'news' is High School sports, government functions and community groups holding events.  Strangely almost, it's also one of the most well written papers I've ever picked up.  People who put a great deal of thought into what they have to say contribute columns and the editing is equally well done.  Very impressive!  One of the articles this week is about the late John Gibson and the GI Bill and I'm going to quote, without permission, fairly extensively.  Credit for quoted material belongs to Loran Smith, a guest columnist for the paper who is otherwise employed in sports communications for the University of Georgia.

Many people have been captive audience when I've talked about a conversation I overheard 15+ years ago that left a deep impression on me.  An elderly gentleman was lamenting to his lunch companions at the next table about politicians.  He commented extensively about how 'in the old days' our elected government were statesmen and not the politicians of today.  One of his companions asked him to clarify what he meant; what the difference was.  He said something along the lines of "A statesman is someone who cares more about doing the right thing for the people who chose to put him in the job while a politician is more concerned about doing what's going to be good for his own finances and re-election."

Seems like we have a lot of politicians in office these days...

And that made finding a story of a real statesman quite refreshing!

"Today we hold a jaundiced and cynical view of Congress, its function and its membership.  Have you heard anything positive about the government lately?  Government still works in my view.  I can't cite any recent examples, however."  That is the opening Loran Smith uses...  He continues telling us about John Gibson's role in history when, in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted Congress to pass the Serviceman's Readjustment Act.

"There was not that much disagreement on doing something for our veterans who fought so gallantly in World War II, but to move the bill to the floor for a vote it had to get out of committee.  There was a deadlock, 3-3, and FDR needed Gibson's vote.  But the Congressman was nowhere to be found.  He was back home in Douglas (Georgia) - and nobody had an inkling of his whereabouts.

"Radio stations broadcast reports asking for help to locate the Congressman.  State troopers stopped people on the highway and asked if they might be [or know where to find] Rep. Gibson.  Finally, he arrived home and answered the phone.

"It was Washington calling, asking that he return to the Capitol post-haste.  Eastern Airlines had a 2:30 a.m. flight out of Jacksonville.  Congressman Gibson rushed to the Jacksonville airport.  The pilot had been told not to take off until Gibson was aboard.  The plane landed in Washington at 6:37 a.m.  Gibson immediately showed up to cast the tie-breaking vote, which led to the passage of what has become known as the G.I. Bill.

"Passage of the bill was one of the greatest decisions in the history of our government.  Not only did it show appreciation for our servicemen, it was also an investment in our country which paid far-reaching dividends.  It was a salute to higher education.  It changed the face of America.  It created a vast and productive middle class.  More than 14 million servicemen enjoyed benefits as they became more educated when they otherwise could not have been able to afford it."

Even more than his remarkable link to history, John Gibson should be remembered as someone who was elected to Congress for three terms and went there TO SERVE!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Peek in the Bedroom

Here's a quick peek into the guest bedroom that pretty much matches the hall bath...
The medallion pattern that graces each piece of furniture in the set.

The throw pillows I have to decorate the top of the bed.

An afghan my mom made.  I think she entered this in both the County
and State Fairs in Utah once and won blue ribbons!  I like the punch of
color it adds to the foot of the bed.

A few of the decor pieces to go on the [yet to have mirror re-attached] vanity.

The chest of drawers to the set where I had it in my old house.  Here it's
against a blank wall.  I LOVE the locking chamber at the top!

That 70's Bathroom

I'm pretty sure I've whined about having bathrooms straight out of the 70's before...

But it's true!!

There's Harvest Gold fixtures and everything!  In the hall bathroom anyway (the master has the ever-lovely Avocado Green) which is one of the rooms I've been working on the past few days as I start to get stuff in shape for a visit from a wonderful friend I haven't seen since about the time we both graduated from high school 30 + years ago.  Sadly, for now we're stuck with the Harvest Gold so... I'm doing my best to rock that shade of awful!

Here's a couple of BEFORE photographs of this little bathroom I've all but ignored for the last 5 months.

I started with a good cleaning.  The bathtub, toilet, and sink are actually in pretty decent condition with all the muck scraped and scrubbed off... they're just uglier than sin.  Which is kind of funny since it's almost the same color as the bedspread in the bedroom that this bathroom services.  Once the tub and tile were clean, I hung an ivory shower curtain liner ($1 for the rings and $1 for the liner panel at Dollar Tree) and used some of the extra drapes from the bedroom (the windows at my old house were a LOT bigger!) around the bathtub.  It was tighter than tight getting the drapery panels on the shower curtain rod!!  But for a free fix, I can expend a little effort.

Better Homes and Gardens it's not, but I think we can live with the Harvest Gold a while longer now...

You can't see it in any of the pictures but we also traded out the wimpy little showerhead for a nice big rainfall style one.  And I spray painted a neon green mesh trash can (gotta love the stuff you can find at Dollar Tree!) white for this room.  Now to fresh up the towels, parcel out the wall decor between bed and bath, get some cute soaps and stuff and put down a fluffy rug to make this room ready for its AFTER shots!

Everything is pretty simple and basic still at this point... but I'm repurposing things we already own and the FREE part helps me appreciate what beauty there is.  The liner makes the shower functional and the curtains do add privacy and the beginning of some sense of the room being put together.  There's a fluffy rug on the floor that matches one of the shades of gold in the curtain that makes for a nice spot to step out of the shower.

Not too bad for just using the extra curtain panels from the bedroom?

Fresh clean towels are also out.  We're short on towel bars so... in both bathrooms the clean ones are just folded and kept on top of the toilet tank.  It works because we're also not flush on towels so all we own fits in that spot.

What's funny about these tan towels is that when we first looked at the house, the lighting in this bathroom was so bad we thought the tub, toilet, and sink were tan.  It wasn't until we'd moved and replaced the scary old light fixture that we realized everything was harvest gold...

I decorated the corner of the counter with shells from all over the world:  The conch and abalone were my Grandma Clarke's from a trip to the CA coast in the late 1940s.  The sand dollar posed on the lip of the conch and the smaller similar shell up front was collected by a cousin taking an adventure and travelling as an itinerant worker all around the country during the mid-1980s.  Most of the small tan and brown ones my dad gathered on the beaches of the Mariana Islands when he was there as a soldier during WWII.   And the really tiny shells and bits of coral on top are things I picked up relaxing on the beach in Antigua.

At some point we do want to re-do this bathroom with white fixtures and a smaller simpler vanity cabinet.  Not fancy even then, just brought into the current century.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Pine Coning

I guess it's a hazard of living in the woods...

My poor Jeep got pineconed a few days ago when I was coming home one evening from some event.  I was almost to the house.  I was coming down the "S" turn on that little hill toward the end of our lane with the semi-blind driveways and root bumps in the asphalt where I always slow down to a mere creep when it happened.

Out of nowhere there was a loud sharp THWACK!!!

I jumped in my seat!  Instantly my heart was pounding!!  And my passenger-side mirror was shattered and smacked up against the window.  I had to go to the bathroom and it was all I could do to keep that dam from bursting...  It was so scary!  Derek was about 20 minutes behind me in his own car and I called him on the verge of tears I was so shaken and confused by what had just happened.  When he got home and looked at the damages and had walked back up the lane to see if there was any other debris, he said I'd come into contact with a dropping pine cone from one of the pine trees that line that particular curve.  Apparently my poor mirror hit it like a baseball bat.

Count on me to have such awesome timing!

A couple of days later I happened to look up when I was out in my own yard and this is what I saw directly over the spot where I park.

Isn't that just a beautiful disaster waiting to happen?  Well, it is beautiful but all things considered... YIKES!

What a Wonderful World

Thanks to Through a Country Momma's Eyes Facebook
page for the image.  Wish I could tell you the location...

I see trees of green... red roses, too.
I see 'em bloom for me and for you.
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world!

I see skies of blue... clouds of white,
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights.
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world!

The colors of a rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by.
I see friends shaking hands, saying "how do you do?"
What they're really saying is "I Love You!"

I see babies cry; I watch them grow.
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world!

Yes, I think to myself... what a wonderful world!

George David Weiss, George Douglas and Bob Thiele
(and most famously performed by Louis Armstrong)

I can't help but be reminded of a little story I read not too long back about 2 men who were sharing a hospital room.  The fellow nearest the window would tell the other man, who was much more gravely ill, about the beautiful sights outside to try to lift his spirits some.  And it worked.  He recovered from his sickness... but the man by the window did not.  The day came when he passed away and it was discovered that the window not only looked out at a blank wall but he was completely blind.  All of the beauty he'd been describing - the fluffy white clouds, bright blue sky, flower gardens, butterflies, and happy smiling people - came completely from his imagination and the beauty of his own soul reaching out to touch someone else.

I'm also reminded to count my blessings this sweet Sabbath day.  Among them today I cherish...

A man who loves me and tells me so often
Puppies who love me, too (even when I get grouchy)
That Derek works hard to take care of us and has plans and goals for the future
That I can take Tylenol in between Advil doses for my painful knees
The shade of blue gracing today's sky
Last night's brilliant sunset viewed through our trees
How clean and fresh yesterday's rain has left everything
Friends to love and be loved by
A lovely little home on a quiet tree-lined lane
The beautiful woods behind my house
How the squirrels and bunnies and turtles and song birds living there delight me
The subtle hints of fall in the air and cooler weather activities
How well the steam cleaner gets dog messes out of the carpet
The capability to work and think and speak and see
Freedom to live and worship as we see fit
That we can (and do) fly an American flag on the front of our house

I've been richly blessed, indeed!

Now You Hush Puppy!

Hushpuppies are a Southern thang...  They are a sort of round, deep fried, cornmeal dumpling that frequently accompanies fried catfish and sometimes are served as the bread portion with other dishes.  I have friends visiting us next week and Derek and I are making them a "real Southern meal" of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and Hushpuppies.  Hushpuppies are relatively new in my culinary experience - not a food I grew up with out West - and so I've been trying to learn a little bit more about them and find a base recipe we can start with to create something unique to our own taste.

 There are a lot of theories, though no one is certain, where Hushpuppies got their name including these:
  • Confederate soldiers fed their corn biscuit rations to their dogs to quiet them in order to avoid detection from Union soldiers, hence the phrase "hushing the puppies" or, smooshed together as we seem to do with language, "hushpuppies."
  • The dredging flour from catfish in the main house that would have been thrown out was sent down to the slave quarters by the cook and the women added a little milk, egg and onion and fried it up. It is said they tossed bits of this fried batter to the dogs to keep them quiet while the food was being transferred from the pot to the table. "Hush puppy! Hush puppy!"
  • While slaves or poor folks (or in some accounts hunters and fishermen) were cooking fried foods with batter outside, balls of the batter coating were fried and given to the dogs to keep them from begging or barking, thus the name "hushpuppies."
  • They were fried up to toss to the dogs to keep them quiet while the "revenooers" were snooping around looking for bootleggers' and their stills.
I kind of love that the name is so descriptive... however it may have come about, it seems to have something to do with keeping a canine companion quiet.

I could sure use some this morning.

Boys!!  What's out there that has your mouths working overtime?

This recipe [mostly] from The Southern Lady Cooks seems pretty representative of what I've found so I think we'll use it as a starting point and decide how to tweak it from there:


3/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup onion, diced (can be regular or green onions)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce
1 egg
1/2 +/- cup beer (or buttermilk is an option)
Cooking oil to give 2-inch depth in your pot for frying

Combine cornmeal, flour, onion, salt, egg and milk.  The batter should be just wet enough that you can shape it into balls about the size of a walnut with your hands (or a couple of spoons) and it sticks together.  Have oil hot in a skillet and drop hush puppies into oil.  Cook about 3 to 4 minutes browning on all sides.   Remove and drain on paper towels.  Best served hot.  This makes about 10 to 12 hushpuppies.

I also thought this was an interesting little historical tidbit on the Savannah Food Company's website...
"And yes, the food created the name of the famous shoe company…
In 1958, Jim Muir was having dinner with a friend in Tennessee when he witnessed how his friend’s barking hounds were quieted down when given hushpuppies. Jim thought about how aching feet were commonly referred to as barking dogs. Wolverine shoes, or rather Hushpuppies, were the answer to soothing one’s aching feet. Thus a legend began!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why I Prep

This is a picture making the rounds on Facebook and in email.  I find it both humorous and terrifying.  A friend shared it with this commentary:

"I share the concern that we have given our executive branch far too much power to declare war, take away citizen's rights and spy on us. Reagan invaded Grenada and we said nothing and every President has taken it further. None more so than when George Bush used our fear to con us into willing[ly] giv[ing] up our rights with the so called "Patriot Act."  Obama has gone even further: declaring the right to kill americans with unmanned drones with no trial, no legal evidence and no public awareness or scrutiny."

While this friend and I frequently find ourselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum, we agree that it seems that all recent U.S. Presidents have taken on the challenge to one-up their predecessor on the abuse of our Constitutional rights.  And it's gone pretty much unchallenged because we've been so preoccupied with the details of whatever current scandals are going on and topics like gun control, the real intent of Islam, abortion, and gay marriage.  We, the American people, have got so tied up in details we have completely missed the big picture.  I shudder to even consider what life will look like when our next President pulls this trick out of his sleeve and removes even more of our rights.  Sometimes I even wonder if we're approaching a point where emotions run so high between those who support the cause of the current administration and those who oppose it that it tips our nation into revolution.

Conspiracy theory much?  Maybe.  But it is something I find truly frightening to consider!

And almost as scary is the thought of what daily life might look like in a post-revolution America. While I truly hope that we can mend our differences and pull back from the brink, I think it's prudent to prepare for a very different future than the present I'm now enjoying.  Kind of that old maxim of "Prepare for the worst and then hope for the best."

I think we get a glimpse of that post-revolution style of daily living whenever there is a natural disaster.  And in complete honesty, I think Mother Nature will dish out something disruptive long before our government declares war on its own people.  Think back to Katrina and some of the other big hurricanes... the devastation that was left behind, the lives disrupted and the primitive nature of living conditions for days, weeks and even months for many people.  No one is immune to experiencing a natural disaster.  They happen everywhere and so it makes good sense to be prepared for the days following a cataclysmic event.

Just this past week, Colorado saw unprecedented rainfall.  Here are comments shared by friends living there:
"Frightening what the News is reporting about missing people.  Started in the tens, went to a hundred and now it's hundreds and hundreds.  Doesn't mean they are gone, just that families have not heard from these people.  I pray they are safe and accounted for in this statewide disaster."  Todd Kinzle, Lakewood CO
Shortly after this, he posted about a hailstorm in Denver leaving things looking like it had snowed.

Photo courtesy of on 9/6/13

"It is really mind boggling how many things shut down in our fragile system of living and what we rely on... in town... [near] where I live (I live outside of town) there is a 'no flush' order for the city sewer system.  It goes to show you how important back up sanitation plans are... no matter where you live!"  Jodi Webster, Sterling CO
Jodi expands her comment with this:
"...the city cannot use its sewer system and schools are closed due to no water and the no flush order.  People cannot get in or out [of this part of the state] except through Nebraska, but at least we weren't hit quite like the Denver area!"
The folks there who had the foresight to have a few days worth of food on hand, some bottled water, alternate ways to keep warm and maybe a camp toilet...  I bet they are thinking themselves pretty fortunate.  And this is why, despite the poo-pooing about doomsday I get from some friends and family, I have 72-hour kits and a well stocked pantry.  It's also why:
  • We are buying a generator as soon as finances allow.
  • I'm studying solar power and hoping within the year to have enough panels in place to run [at least] some of our household appliances.
  • I garden and keep working on my skills.
  • I study wildcrafting and learn how to identify both edible and poisonous plants, insects and small animals in my area.
  • We bought a house with a wood-burning fireplace.
  • I use medicinal herbs and simple OTC remedies whenever possible.
  • We have guns and strongly support gun rights.
  • I make and use natural cleaners in the home.
  • I'm learning about chickens and thinking of adding them to our yard for eggs, meat and fertilizer.
  • We are buying cast iron cookware that could be used outdoors.
  • The grill always has a full tank of propane.
  • I'm going to get a tent, sleeping bags and a camp toilet even if we never go camping.
Have I done enough to be a full-on prepper?  No.  But I think I've done a pretty good job getting started.

Roscoe: A Sad Ending

I told a little fib.  Actually… some folks might call my deception kind of a whopper.  Sorry.  Whether my reasons are ultimately judged as good or bad, there was a reason for keeping it a secret.

A few weeks ago I talked about a Pit Bull puppy getting adopted from the Fulton County Animal Shelter.  That part is true.  But I purposely mislead everyone about where Jerry aka Tiger and more recently aka Gizmo actually lives.  Let me come clean:  Gizmo is ours.  And he is a joy!  A complete cuddle puppy who loves nothing more than naptime wrapped in my arms… and licking peanutbutter off a spoon.  That's pretty awesome stuff, too!  Gizmo should be the poster puppy for why you would consider a shelter adoption!!

The shelter's intake photo for Tycoon/Roscoe
taken appx August 10, 2013.
The same day we brought him home, we brought home another dog… a smallish 2-3 year old Rottweiler the shelter tagged as Tycoon.  Tycoon, or whatever his real name is, had an entire lifetime that was filled with mistreatment from all that we pieced together.  He was starved – you could lay fingers between his ribs – and had small open sores on his face and front paws.  We know he had broken toes at some point because his nails stick up in rather odd directions.  He was in such bad shape that the shelter’s vet wouldn't neuter him, a requirement for adoption, because she didn't feel like he would survive the anesthesia from the surgery so Tycoon came home with us as a foster dog to get healthy first.

For the first 3-4 days, I wanted nothing more than to send him back!  He velcroed himself to my leg and just made me crazy.  I couldn't take a step without tripping over him.  Literally!!  He was like a stone attached tightly to my ankle.  He just stoically sat there unwilling to even blink and completely oblivious to the danger he was putting both of us in if I fell!  He wouldn't take an independent step away from me unless… he saw an opportunity to hump the puppy… or poop on the floor.

Roscoe the evening of September 11, 2013
We were grateful that it seemed like his behavior mellowed as he observed and interacted with the other dogs.  It was almost like he watched them to learn how to be a dog.  He played very (almost uncomfortably) intensely but thinking lack of testosterone would make him a bit more docile, we started calling him Roscoe and made plans to complete the adoption following his surgery on September 12.  He'd put on enough weight, got a real shine to his coat and you could even see the beginnings of muscles rippling over his chest.  All in all - a pretty dramatic turn-around!

Sadly, however, Roscoe isn't going to remain part of family.

He came home from the neutering intent that he, and only he, could be the center of ALL attention and he was ready to violently enforce his new ‘rule.’  Within 24 hours, he'd been in several altercations with Thunder… and initially we thought Thunder was the instigator because of his posturing for dominance in the past... but the bloody gashes on Thunder looked more like defensive wounds and he was the one left crying.  Then he attacked Gizmo, unprovoked, while we watched.  A little bit later, he lunged and bit my arm as I reached past him to give one of the other dogs a treat - a near nightly custom on our way up to bed.  And then while Derek was getting everyone calmed down again…  Derek sat on the next to bottom step of the stairs and was petting Roscoe’s head and speaking to him softly.  Thunder walked up, sniffed at Roscoe from behind and sat down on Derek’s other side to get petted, too.  As soon as Derek reached to pat Thunder’s head with his other hand, Roscoe went crazy.  He was snarling, slobbering, and snapping in a frightful display... Somehow Derek got Thunder behind him and into the hall bathroom while pushing Roscoe back with his foot.  He got bit.  A nasty looking puncture on the bottom/side of his foot that we're still watching for infection.
My left forearm the evening of 9/13... my 'reward' for giving treats and a bit of band-aid
scum (1 of my 2 allergies - I will get a nasty weepy rash if I leave it on longer).
The main gash is fairly deep and bled steady for almost 12 hours.

Once Roscoe was leashed outside and the wounds were all cleaned and bandaged, we sat down to talk and made the very difficult decision to surrender Roscoe back to the shelter.  He presented a greater danger than we are prepared to take on...  It isn't fair for the other dogs to live in fear of when he's going to snap and attack them.  It isn't fair that we worry about coming home to a wounded, or dead, dog every time we leave the house.  It isn't fair to wonder when we are going to have an issue with animal control thinking our dogs are being abused because of his attacks.  It isn't fair to worry about him escaping the yard and hurting a neighbor's pet - or worse, their child.  And it surely isn't fair to live with the pain of being bitten repeatedly and not knowing when his bite would do significant damage to one of our own limbs.

With broken hearts and many tears we took him back to the shelter on Saturday morning.  We told them everything.  We told them about his initial behavior issues, his growing intensity as he got healthier, our hopes that neutering would calm him down, about his violence on returning home...  It just felt like the day couldn't get any worse.  And then a staff member at the shelter gave us a lecture saying that his behavior was all our fault; that we'd cared for him wrong and broke a commitment to give him a forever home no matter what.  Basically, she said we were terrible, horrible, evil people who had no business ever owning a pet.

Wow!  That hurts.

Even knowing it's absolutely not true, it still hurts.  I know what happened in my home.  I know how he was treated, loved and wanted.  But I guess offering the same treatment and a good measure of safety to our other pets and ourselves isn't enough in their eyes.  I'm sure when I get past being stunned, I'll get angry and complain to their director and whatever part of county government oversees the animal shelters in Atlanta.  But right now, I'm just grieving.

Will we try again for a 4th dog?  Oh yes... Derek has already searched out a breeder with a black and tan Doberman puppy, the last of the litter and available for a bargain price to free up their breeding pen.  May the Good Lord help me!!  Another puppy to potty train...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sweet Tater, Sweet Tater

I gave in to a craving today.

Who knew I would ever be able to eat a sweet potato without pulling a face that speaks volumes about icky?  Let alone spend the last 9 months craving them...

9 months.  Yeah.  Time for some folks to have a baby.  They can create a whole new human being and I'm over here in the corner with a little drool hanging off my lip thinking 'sweeeeeeet pooooootaaaaaaato.'

I guess I should clarify, I've found one, just one, recipe for sweet potatoes that I like.  I will still cringe in utter disgust at that marshmallow encrusted pile of yuckiness I grew up with during the holidays or those sweet potato fries I grabbed by mistake in the grocery store once... but these I like.  I mean I REALLY like them!

Hot from the oven!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Heat oven to 350F.

Mix together and spread into a greased casserole dish:
3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (canned is ok)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (not margarine)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix in a small bowl until it forms small clusters:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 Tbl melted butter

Sprinkle clusters over potato mixture in casserole dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit at least 10 minutes before serving to finish setting up.

[Edit:  the original recipe, which I modified slightly, called for 1 egg in the potatoes.  I forgot to add it!  I think if you did, it would add a little bit of lightness to the texture and perhaps help it hold its shape a little better when serving.  But it worked just fine for what I was craving without the egg.]

A comical side story...

I grew up saying praline like PRAY-leen.  When I moved to Georgia, Derek's family says it like prah-LEEN.  I knew they were a Southern thing so I just assumed I'd been saying it wrong all along but then, when I was buying the brown sugar and pecans for this dish, the grocery clerk said it made her think of pralines and she said it like I do!!  Now I'm all sorts of confused...

How do YOU say praline?  Do you say PRAY-leen or prah-LEEN?

Cast Iron Surprise

Due to different ages, locales and family values in our childhoods Derek and I grew up much differently.  My family was poor, poorer than I realized until I was an adult making my own way really, and worked hard to conserve what we had.  Derek's family was more affluent and indulged in what we now call 'retail therapy' from time to time feeling that if something was ruined it could easily be replaced.  Some of those traits are a cause for conflict between us now and then.  And then something will come out of his mouth that is so "me" it just surprises the stuffing right out me!

Like the need for cast iron cookware.

In the months I stayed with his mom and sister, I never saw a single piece in their house to hint that this was coming.  Mostly they have kind of beat up teflon pans... So when he grabbed it up one shopping trip while I was lovingly caressing a cast iron frying pan with a wishful look in my eye, I was surprised.  Very surprised!  And then when he went on to say that every home should have cast iron frying pans and a dutch oven or two, you could have knocked me over with a feather!!  And when he agreed that not only were they the best for all around cooking but would be very handy to have if there was a time when we had to cook outside or in the fireplace they would be absolutely among the best things we'd ever invested in, I had to pinch myself and see if it was reality or if I was caught up in some freaky dream.

Well, reality it was!

4 lovely cast iron frying pans now are a part of our cookware.  They've been sitting on the counter for a few days waiting for me to get around to 'seasoning' them.  It's easy.  Like even a child could do it kind of easy.  I don't know why I hesitated and let that step in their care intimidate me... but until about 45 minutes ago I did.  Finally, though, they are in the oven getting their first baking.

Photo from
(My stubby little sausage fingers aren't that pretty!)
I started by washing them with hot soapy water and letting them dry.  Seems easy so far, huh?

(Ideally, this is the only time in the life of the pan it will ever have soap in it.)

Then I used olive oil and a paper towel to coat each pan and set them in a 350F oven for 90 minutes.  Why olive oil?  It was handy.  I looked up and read more than a few blog posts about seasoning and caring for cast iron and it seems like every single one of them called for a different oil so I'm interpreting that to mean that the fat source (bacon drippings, vegetable oil, olive oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, crisco, etc.) doesn't matter so much as getting something fatty on there to absorb into the iron.
These are mine sitting in the oven cooling down for the first time.

Then they sit in place and cool back to room temperature.  And I repeat the process of coating them in oil and baking for 90 minutes another time or two to have fully seasoned and ready to go cast iron pans.

It's time consuming, to be sure, but there's nothing at all difficult about it.

And it seems like the ongoing care isn't all that big of a deal either.  Most of what I've found suggests just rinsing with very hot water and drying well.  The oil in food you cook should keep it pretty well seasoned.  At our house I think that might be a true statement - I know bacon is a planned item.  And fried chicken.  And a buttery cookie/cake dessert item in one of the smaller pans.  For food bits that are stuck on, you first scour with a mixture of oil and coarse salt then rinse with hot water and dry well.

That's pretty similar to how I used to take care of my teflon pans... and they lasted forever once I quit putting dish soap in them!

Next I'm gonna get the dutch oven I've had for years seasoned and try making that heavenly crusty bread in it!

And I'm going to be on the lookout for more in thrift shops and at garage sales!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And We Have a Runner

The fence...

I told Derek weeks ago that we needed to continue that wire mesh across the open front porch railing so the dogs didn't have an escape route.  But he adamantly insisted our boys were too big to fit through those spaces between the 2X4s.  It was the whole they're 80 pounds and growing and too big and muscular across the chest spiel.

Took about 5 minutes for them to find it last night after we went back in and left them to run and play and explore their new yard more.  And another 40 minutes of searching before one innocently wandered up the driveway like nothing at all could possibly be wrong about him being on the outside of the fence.  The other hung around and came back inside when he was called like a good boy.

I was putting our escapee in through the carport door and Derek was letting the other one outside again from the walkout door in the basement.  They met in the middle and both made a hot trail right back to the escape hole and in through the still open carport door.  I called Derek to come over to the staircase and look at something... called him a couple of times actually (he was entranced by a computer game at the moment) and finally added a semi-frantic sounding 'hurry up!'

He was all flabbergasted and 'what the heck, guys?' when he saw them standing by me happily munching on kibble and slurping great mouthfuls of fresh water.  He came right up and took them out through the gate where we both watched them come through the porch rail again.  They fit just fine... don't even need to slow down or squeeze.

I just smiled sweetly.

Guess where we're headed now?

(Please note:  Home Depot did not pay for or endorse use of their logo.  This is not an advertisement for them... just an illustration for my story.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fence Install Day

After weeks of wanting this done so badly I felt like I was counting the minutes:  WE HAVE A FENCED YARD!!

Puppies may run at will with no lead to get tangled up and wrapped around their legs!  And yes, they love it!!  Their sloppy happy gushing wet kisses show me it's so...

First the installers and supplies arrive and they unload the truck.

The parts are laid out near where they'll be used.

Post holes are dug, posts are set and concreted into place.

Three rails are added to the structure.

The wire mesh backing is stapled into place and the gate is built.

The extra board is nailed in place so the wire
mesh is securely tied to each post.

The gate gets its hardware and the top is cut to shape.

Just like that we have a fenced yard!

(I say just like that... but it took two men working from about 8:30 this morning until close to 8:00 this evening to do all the work!)