Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Last month when I was browsing through my catalog from the health food co-op, I noticed a new (to me) natural sweetener. Have you ever heard of muscovado sugar? So of course I had to order a small bag. I've tried other natural sweeteners ~ sucanat, stevia, agave, demarra, turbinado, date sugar, and sorgum. So I thought I knew what to expect.

When my muscovado came, it was rock hard. No problem...I put the sugar in a glass jar along with half an apple. After several hours the sugar was soft like regular brown sugar.

I used this recipe here at a blog called Milk and Cookies. Maybe it's because I had to use nondairy butter and eggs, but my cookies were dry and way too sweet. (I didn't use the white sugar...there was already a lot of muscovado.) Nice experiment but I'll stick with my usual sugar. Anybody nearby want to have my last remaining cup of muscovado? According to the reviews I've read, it's supposed to have a fudgy taste. I don't agree...but maybe it's just me. But I'm serious, if you'd like to have a go at it, let me know and I'll get it to you.
I conducted a quiet little experiment with my family lately. They had no idea. I wanted to find out which they liked better, kale greens or collards. Kale won, hands down. We loved it. Even better than turnip greens. We don't eat this brand often because it's got a lot of rich ingredients, but every once in a while we splurge. Sure is delicious.Ruthie is doing very well now. I doubled her usual dosage of mullein, and then gave it to her 5x/day instead of 3x/day. What a difference! The doctor was impressed. So I went to the local health food store and bought the remaining three bottles. Wish I'd started sooner!
Last week I decided I was going to buy a little cactus to put in a planter I bought last year at the thrift shop. I've always enjoyed seeing little cacti. So off I went to the amish greenhouse where I'd seen a large selection.
Ruthie wasn't able to go, so she asked me to take pictures.
What different kinds!
Most of them are $2 each, more for the bigger ones.
Mr. Zimmerman says they have beautiful blossoms in the early spring...just missed seeing that!
I fell in love with the tall cactus on the left. Mr. Z said he's had it for many years...so many that he couldn't remember how many! So now that beauty is mine for $12!! I asked if I could come back two days later to pick it up...I had no pot for something that tall.
Oops, where did this pic come from? More cacti.
So I went to the Ross store and bought this large pot for $10.
The pot has a big hole in the bottom, so I had to buy a plate at the thrift shop. I hit the plate with a horseshoe (the only thing heavy within reach!) and it broke nicely...just the way I wanted it to!
In goes the plate, in goes the soil, in goes the cactus. Ouch!
I love it! I wanted to see if cacti are mentioned in the Bible. Not directly...but the desert is. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.” Isaiah 35:1-2 KJV

Now I want to research my cactus to find out what kind it is, and what I need to know about making it blossom. Fun!
Two years ago I wrote here about our trip to Baltimore to see the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra. Ever since, I've been keeping an eye on the concert schedule hoping for another freebie. Sunday, April 25th is the closest thing to a freebie...donations welcome. The only other concert available to the public is on Sunday, May 2nd. This concert requires a $10 donation which will go to an orphanage in Tanzania. That certainly appeals to us! Let me know if you are interested in going to either concert. Our family sure enjoyed it.
Sarah bought these two bee-themed fabrics for Maggie. Aren't they cute?! Mike, Allen, and Maggie inspected our honeybee hives this week...and the bees were flying in loaded with pollen. Hurray!

Tomorrow Ruthie has another appt. We expect the doctor to be very pleased. Hopefully we won't have anymore appts, maybe just a followup. PTL

Today I put a pork roast with sauerkraut in the oven to cook low and slow all afternoon. I was so proud of myself. Then I found out that five of my children were going to Grandaddy's home for dinner. Argh! This is getting to be a regular thing. I guess I'll have to check with my Dad every time I plan dinner.

Enjoy this lovely spring weather. My forsythia has turned green, and my tulip poplars are all budding. This morning I saw 6 doves outside my kitchen door. Such a lovely sight!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Agro-Tower Grow Pots

This week I discovered these wonderful pots called Grow Pots that are sold in California by a nice guy named Lee Blevins. I wrote to Mr. Blevins to get permission to copy some of his pictures...and a few minutes later he called on the telephone! Can't beat service like that!
It's hard to believe these pots are so simple. Each pot holds 6 strawberry plants. You can stack the pots as high as you want. Each pot has inserts to attach to the next pot. You can slide a pole or pipe down the middle for more stability. I'm sold!
Okay...I volunteer to weed this garden!

I would like to put together a shipment of these growpots. If you are interested in buying 1 or 100, please let me know. (Of course, this is for my local friends only.) Check the pricelist and then send me an email. Gotta hurry...strawberry season is here! The color choices are white and black (no longer selling terra cotta). As soon as I know how many I'll be ordering, I'll let you know what the shipping cost is. (I'll give you the shipping info before I place the order in case you need to adjust it.) Are you confused now? We have been busy this week. Allen earned a black stripe on his green belt at Tang Soo Do. That was a proud moment for our whole family!
Allen hasn't been able to do his kick because of a knee problem (bone growing faster than muscle), so he did a hand chop. Wow! Very impressive!
I like this sign in the dojang. I agree!
On Saturday, we went to see Mike's old barbershop chorus perform their annual concert. Well done! I enjoyed it. It was hard to take pictures because of the lighting, but the stage was setup as a prison. Very funny...but scary to see a lot of our friends looking like true prisoners!

I like their new uniforms. Mike misses his barbershopping days and will probably be rejoining soon. On the way home from the concert we stopped at the Farmer's Market and bought two flats of strawberries for $6 apiece. Yummy! Very sweet. We arrived home expecting to smell our chicken dinner roasting in the oven...but someone forgot to turn the second knob to "bake."

Ruthie is staying the same, not better not worse. The doc wants to see her everyday. We also have orders not to let her be around any children or exposed to any triggers since her immune system is obviously low. Tomorrow I will buy a box of masks so she can go outside for a little bit.

We burned up the last of our wood this morning in the woodstove in the basement. Nice and toasty down there! I've enjoyed being home with Ruthie while our family is at church. Nice and quiet.

Enjoy spring. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, March 22, 2010

Print this out and put it on your fridge door as a reminder for Nov. 2010:
My mil sent me an email with the above picture and note. Isn't it funny! What isn't funny are the recent dealings going on inside the beltway. I'm ashamed of my own Senators.
Tonight our family watched this 1955 film that I bought today at BJs. What a wonderfully inspiring movie! I always enjoy real-life stories, and this was no exception. Definitely a family movie...no bad language, immodesty, immorality, etc.

This movie is based on the life of Peter Marshall (as told by his wife Catherine Marshall) in the early to mid 1900s. His son, John Peter Marshall, has his own ministry as you can read on his website. What a legacy both men have!

Earlier in the week I previewed another movie based on the early years of Billy Graham's life. I am SO glad I previewed it. The movie is rated PG for smoking, language, and dark themes. Well, they were right on all three counts. In spite of the glowing remarks on the dvd cover, this is NOT family-friendly. There was a least one instance of a four-letter word (even this half-deaf girl couldn't miss it...it was very pronounced). The dark themes? Many, many graphic and up-close pictures of the corpses of the holocaust.

However, having said that, I did...as an adult...enjoy the film. I just get disappointed at the use of foul language. There is no need for that. I would probably let my 16-year old and older children watch this. My 13 year old twins would be bothered by the naked dead bodies.

Update on Ruthie: I had to return her to the ER on Saturday morning where she was immediately given treatments, steroids, and more tylenol. She was not admitted because there was a shortage of rooms, and because I have a nebulizer at home. PTL! Ruthie still has a fever, which makes me think she should've been given antibiotics, but I'm more than willing to work around that. Just a slower recovery time.

My daffodils are blooming, my forsythia is bright yellow, and my hydrangeas are budding. Spring is here!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, March 19, 2010

We are saddened today to hear of the death of our beloved Daniel Boone, Fess Parker. Thanks to the interviews on the dvds, we feel like we knew him personally. I enjoyed reading this tribute to him. We have watched all six seasons, plus the four Davy Crockett movies, many times...and probably will many more! Makes me want to wear my coonskin hat again. A hero on screen, and a hero on earth. Goodbye, Mr. Parker.
Do you know this famous guy? This is Mr. Tom, winner of the chili contest at First Baptist Church of Calvert County...and proud of it! Can you imagine an italian winning a chili contest?! Reminds me of that old commercial where the cowboys would sit around the campfire eating some salsa made in New York City...NEW YORK CITY?!

All funnin' aside, I hope Tom writes down his recipe. He told it to me...but I forget the details. I do remember that it had masa harina, roasted veggies, and sausage (I told you...he's no Texan!). There was such a rush to the winning chili that I didn't get a chance to taste it. Guess I know what the ticket to the next hymnsing will be...one large pot of chili! (Just for Italians, we won't charge the rest of us.) Thanks for the picture, Jenn.

I made my chili from an old recipe. It is a true Texas chili recipe, meaning no beans and no tomatoes. I did have several folks ask about my chili. They wanted to know what spices I used. This recipe called for a half-cup of many usual spices, but I did use the Mexican Oregano that my Dad brought up from Texas. I think that made it unusual.
I forgot to take a picture of the finished chili. This is before the liquid had time to simmer and concentrate. My hubby liked my chili best...so that's what counts for me. He also liked my choice of meat (chuck instead of ground beef). I am glad I wasn't one of the judges...I liked several of the chilis.
Allen has been busy today. He's experimenting with his hovercraft and sewing up a larger skirt. I think he has BIG plans!
Allen made a casing for his 23 ft skirt, then threaded fishing line through it to gather it up. I'll let you see the end result whenever it gets finished.
Today I had lots of fun sewing a black and white bandana quilt top. It took me 20 minutes. Years ago I made red bandana quilts but they were frustrating because the print was never centered correctly on the square. But these bandanas from Walmart are perfectly aligned and a breeze to sew. Walmart has more than a dozen colors and patterns...very tempting to try many versions!

I haven't sewn the backing onto the quilt yet...or even ironed it. I wanted to see if I'd sewn enough bandanas (25) to fit my kingsize bed. The quilt top measures almost 120x120...big enough!

I had to take Ruthie to the Emergency Room because she started wheezing. But her oxidation was 97...a good number. I did feel foolish when the nurse took her temperature...and it was 103.6! Ruthie always gets flushed when she's having trouble breathing (and rarely gets a fever), so I never thought to take her temp. Oh well. Still learning about this mothering stuff.

Anyhow, I brought her home (the ER was filled to overflowing), gave her some tylenol, and we're doing nebulizer treatments every hour. I have no idea what triggered it this time, maybe pollen. Sure wish I could give her steroids...but the last treatment put so much weight on her that the dr says no more.

Mike, Anna and Maggie are on their way home from BJU tonight. They will drive as far as Mike can stay awake, then come home in the morning. If they drive straight through, they will arrive at 2 am. I can't wait!!

Enjoy your weekend. I hope to get some dresses sewn...like I say every week. But we're getting desperate now, so it'll probably happen.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today feels like spring...finally! My horseradish is doing very well. This fall I will be able to dig up the root and shred it.
Today we were supposed to meet Sarah and Abigail at the park but the sun was slow in warming up. So they came over so Sarah could do school while I played tea with Abigail. What a great idea!
Abigail loved playing tea...especially when Auntie Kathie pretended the tea was too hot to sip. I bought this tea set for Sarah in 1990...and it's gotten plenty of use. We've had 5 toy tea sets over the years...and this set is by far our favorite.
And these are the mad scientists enjoying their science lesson...dissecting roses.
Abigail also loves this toy clock. The date on it says 1962...and it still plays perfectly. This was a popular toy when I was a child. I bought it at a thrift shop in San Francisco for 75 cents back in 1987. It was a sentimental purchase.
Sarah had my three youngest do science papers for today's dissection. I remember doing this same science lesson.
While playing tea with Abigail, I had a seam ripper and was ripping the pockets off old jeans. Yesterday I was given a large bagful of worn out jeans to be recycled into quilt squares and weaving weft. Abigail was fascinated by the whole process and enjoyed helping me pull the little threads out.
The two little pockets are so cute!
I have been saving the handles from the bags of sugar and birdseed, hoping for some way to recycle them.
How about this? I'll have to give this to Abigail when she comes over again. So much fun for 5 minutes of sewing.

Maggie is doing much better today. We found out she was doing everything wrong...icepaks instead of heat...no massages or manipulations, etc. Anna and Maggie are having a fun time down at BJU. Even Mike is loving it. He says he loves everything about BJU, especially the people. They have more classes tomorrow, an appt with a dean, and then they will head home.

One of the funny things about Anna and Maggie is that whenever they go to camps, they always take lots of poptarts and teddy grahams. Because of their food allergies (dairy and eggs), they usually can't eat much of the food on campus, so they live on poptarts. When they come home, they never touch poptarts and teddy grahams. (Mainly because I don't buy them!) They said it takes a year or so to get over the last overdose. Oh well.

My mom joined facebook this week. Next thing I know, she'll probably have her own blog!

This week has flown by again. All day long my children have been giving me hugs and telling me how nice it is to have me home. I agree! But instead of relaxing, I find myself constantly looking at the clock in a quick panic. I am just so sure I'm missing some appt!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, March 15, 2010

Almost every Sunday of the year, I prepare a roast beef dinner to be eaten when we get home from church. Yesterday I used my new flameware skillet from Clay Coyote. I loved it! I put a completely frozen roast in the oven at 9 am and turned the oven to 300 degrees. When we got home at 1:30, the roast was perfectly done.
This is the raw roast. I didn't want to start off my post with raw meat:-) I made the gravy in the skillet. I liked the little pour spouts on the side to rest my whisk. If you tend to scorch your gravies, then use this skillet...it would be impossible to scorch in this evenly-heated skillet!
Are we lucky or not? Look at these temps! I'm all ready...I have 8 loads of laundry all pegged on the back porch.
This Saturday I got a book in the mail that I had ordered on amazon.com for 47 cents (plus $3.99 shipping!). This is a small book, about 6x6 inch square. There are 6 recipes I want to try. The first recipe I saw that really caught my eye is Indonesian Beggar's Chicken. And since I had all the ingredients already on hand...
...I made it! (Chicken looks funny because it's breast side down.) Was it ever yummy! Cilantro, lime, tamarind, onion, soy sauce, and garlic. You may see the recipe here if you click on "features" at the bottom of the page.

I have learned that they are many different versions of Beggar's Chicken. The next Beggar's Chicken recipe I will try will be from my Romertopf cookbook. This recipe is completely different from the first recipe. Cooking is so much fun!

Along with the Beggar's Chicken, I served two boxes of Mexican Fiesta Rice that I bought at the bent and dent store. I added a can of pinto beans. My family loved it! I also stirfried a bag of coleslaw mix (undressed). Perfect!
I copied this picture from Sarah's blog. This is Abigail standing at her window clapping her hands...Grandaddy is coming to visit! My Dad visits Abigail almost everyday...something both Sarah and Abigail look forward to. Well, tonight Mike is up at Dulles Airport picking up Sarah from her visit to Alabama. So Anna babysat today...and loved it. Of course, Grandaddy came by for the afternoon.

Today I picked up Maggie from her appt in town, then drove to my parents' home where my youngest three were getting piano lessons. Well, I only came home with one child...everyone else stayed for ham dinner at Grandad's!

Later on when Grandad brought "the kiddies" home, he stayed for an hour to warm up in front of our fireplace. We retired military families really enjoy being close to grandparents!

Mike is supposed to drive Maggie and Anna down to Bob Jones University (in SC) on Wednesday, but Maggie had a new treatment done last week that is causing her a lot of pain...and just when she was doing well. So we are still debating what to do...go or stay. Lots of prayer!

Many blessings ~ Kathie