Monday, November 20, 2017

My Plumbing Is Excellent

One of the things I was waiting for this week was to get my SECOND plumbing checkup.  Not me personally ... my plumbing is excellent ... but the house hot water unit.  Even though it was working, apparently my well water is pretty hard, creating problems with calcification inside the unit.

As with the first one, there was lots of banging in the attic.  He said he broke two wrenches (I can hardly believe that, but what do I know) so he had to cut the line in order to install the flush out valve.  That part didn't sound good at all, but at least it's guaranteed and he's licensed in case something should happen.  I think I'll turn off my water main when I leave for Tucson next year.

At long last, it was up and running.  Unfortunately, I didn't use THAT shower that night.  I trade off around the house so everything gets used.  When I got back to the original shower, my water flow was 1/3 what it used to be.  This is NOT good.  I called the Plumber.

He thought I just needed to remove the shower head and clean it out.  After thirty minutes of wrangling a too big wrench, I found he was right.  Lots of gunk came out.  I'm back to that shower this morning, so we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, there were a couple of big Thanksgiving dinners the Elks provided for challenged adults and children.  It calls for an early arrival at the lodge since we bag up a full ham, potatoes, green beans and stuffing with all the fixings, to feed a family of four.  All 100 people got a bag in addition to the delicious turkey dinner we provided that day.

Clean up is a drag since there seems to be as much food on the floor as the tables.  No matter, they are very appreciative with every single person saying thank you.  That's a first!!
In between all that, the guy on the far left in the above picture is Mark ... the one who volunteered to fix my diesel truck.  He's a retired fireman and can build a house or a car ... you pick.  That's pretty handy, for sure!!  He stopped by with some little rubber seals to see if that would fix my truck.  

The dealership wanted to replace the entire unit for $450.  Mark wanted to replace the seals only ($15) that were allowing air into the fuel line.  In twenty minutes he was done ... the truck started and I was saying hallelujahs!!  I've got my truck back.  Yes the bottom seals should probably be replaced too, but they will have to wait until after the holidays.  

Next up was the Challenged Children's Bingo.   It again required an early arrival (I'm beginning to feel like I'm back working) in order to fill another 120 bags with donated items like candy bars, cookies, chips, apples, bananas, oatmeal bars ... lots of goodies, including a box of my Halloween candy.

The kids arrived at 10:00 and played a simple version of Bingo for two hours.  If they get a Bingo, they pick a toy from three huge tables.  They will continue with the same card until the next person wins, and so on.  If you didn't win, you STILL get to pick a prize before they hand out the next card.  

It's a madhouse!!  In the meantime, the volunteer Bingo crew barbecues hamburgers on the outside grill and hot dogs on the inside, along with all the fixings, some chips and finally a cup of chili.  Lucky for them, I didn't cook this time, I set up the buffet line.
We had so many people we ran out of food, which is a first.  It was probably because I saw MANY kids coming through the line a second time!!  It's lots of hard work, but worth it in the end when practically every single one comes and gives you a big hug!!  Nancy's bad ... that's how I got sick last year, so this year I hid in the kitchen!!

SO ... because I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm off again this morning to the Elks Lodge where we will cook another full Thanksgiving dinner for 100 Seniors from the Living Facility several blocks away.  This cooking I can do ... it's mostly boil the water and stir in a packet.  After the first dinner, I've figured ways to make it much more palatable ... like a packet of Ranch dressing mix in the potatoes and (roasted in the oven) turkey  juice in the gravy.  They DO buy high dollar food, but it's still from a box and needs a little help.

Turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie will be delivered at 4:30 to their facility, where we will serve those who can come to the central room and deliver to those who cannot.  All of these dinners are paid for by the Elks Lodge.  We will do it all again (with a couple extra meals added in) just before Christmas.

Then there's Bingo again tomorrow night.  It's okay, in spite of the problematic people, there's always several who come and tell you how happy you make them while giving you a big hug.  Besides getting me out of the house, THAT'S hard not to enjoy.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Many moon ago, I opted for a "fake" Christmas tree.  The real ones, although they smelled wonderful, left a mess of pine needles and pitch to vacuum up for the next six months.  I got a big beautiful put-it-together tree 9' tall and 6' wide instead.

Over the years, that wonderful tree began to shed it's pine needles too, not to mention how hard it was to secure each and every branch before hanging my own 18 boxes of lights.  In fact, it's so much trouble that I haven't set it up in years since no one would see it but me.

That's when I saw the television ad for Balsam Hill trees.  My ex-in-law-sister has several in her house and she's a really bad influence.  Flocked and decorated like they belong in Time Square, I wanted a tree like hers.  The price tag however, was more than over the moon, it was in another galaxy!!

After searching and searching, I finally found this beauty, 9' tall and only 4-1/2' wide ON SALE!!  Wasn't I shocked when it arrived at my door three days early ... a box so big I could hardly drag it through my door.
It's PRE-LIT, meaning the lights are actually built in to the branches.  No more figuring out what branch goes where ... just flip them down and set it up.  Easy Peasy!!  Yeah right ... except that each piece weighed a ton and I had a hard time getting it together.  Hanging off the top of a ladder trying to get the top section on wasn't in the instructions.
By the time I got two sections up, I had more flocking on the floor and myself than on the tree.  This stuff is insidious.  It sticks to everything like socks in a hot dryer.  The static electricity was a sight to behold.
At long last, it was together, but two sections of lights were not working.  Spread out the branches it said ... FLUFF them up!!  Once you do that, there's no way to see where the light connections ARE, let along see the color tabs to match them up.  

After thirty minutes of crawling underneath with a flashlight, I finally found one connection to make.  I came out looking just as flocked as the tree.  I never could find the second one, so one layer of the tree is not lit.  It's probably a fuse or something ... green plastic of course, so it's truly invisible.
I finally called UNCLE and sat down to enjoy the lights.  I didn't stay there long however, since I had half the house to vacuum.  Then came the second problem ... all that flocking stuck to the inside of the vacuum head where static electricity was the name of the game.  Every time I turned the machine off, a pile of white snow was left on the floor.  This was SUCH a bad idea!!
And it's not even Thanksgiving yet!!  The thing is, if I'm going to have to do THIS much work every year, I'm putting this baby up in October so I can enjoy it for at LEAST two full months.  Maybe I'll be the Grinch for Halloween!!

All lit up, it really IS very beautiful.  Cooper loves it too ... there's another rug on the floor he can use to play with his ball!!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

NO Competition Here

Aren't they beautiful?  I thought so, but these aren't mine, as I'm sure you guessed.  This is what they were SUPPOSED to look like.  This cookie decorating is highly overrated and WAY too much work.  I quickly discovered I do not have small enough tips to end up with results like these.
I also didn't have a clue about the consistency required, even though I watched several You-Tube videos.  Something between toothpaste and Karo syrup didn't compute for me.  The next big discovery was I really required at least TWO boxes of frosting.  One box you make thin for flooding the big spaces and one you keep thick for decorating.  These were all I completed.
I was laughing so hard when I tried the Santa that I gave up.  I thinned the frosting with a little water, but forgot I had already used about half.  Yup ... TOO thin.  It ran all over the countertop before I could get my hair dryer going to dry the edges.  When I tried to cover the Santa, it ran right out the tip and down my fingers to the floor!

Once the white was sort of under control, I let it dry while I tried to develop skin color.  The first try was too red, the second try too GREEN.  I suppose I could have passed them off as Grinch cookies, but NO, I went for the NUDE color.  Unfortunately, it ended up closer to dark skin, so I figured to be politically correct and use it, but I couldn't stop laughing!!  I think he looks like a Yeti!!

I'm now OUT of frosting and can't finish the hat ... or anything else for that matter.  As simple as these look, first tries should be with a MUCH simpler design and maybe only TWO colors.  I'm pretty sure the bakeries around here don't have to worry about competition from ME!
I'm going back to playing ball with Cooper ... something I'm much more adept at.  Not saying I won't decorate cookies again, when I find a round cookie cutter and a very simple pattern.  
Speaking of which, guess who is under my feet as I type, pushing the ball to me with his nose.  Who could resist that cutest of cute faces!!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Adventures In Icing Dye

Well, well, well!!  I'm sure you knew this was going to happen.  My record when it comes to dying things isn't the best.  My fingers are still red from the red velvet cupcakes and here I am again, handling frosting coloring ... DYE ... that comes in hard to open containers.

Decorated cookies require royal icing, something you can make with pasteurized egg whites and powdered sugar.  I'm pretty sure those egg whites aren't available around here, but on a quick trip to Walmart for macrame cord (which I haven't found yet), I discovered they sell Wilton Cake Decorating products.  Yahoo!!!

They even have royal icing in a box ... just add water.  I put this off for many hours since I have absolutely no idea how thin or thick to make the frosting.  If too thin, I have no powdered sugar to thicken it again.  And AWAY WE GO!!!
I started out with only four cookies, but that increased quickly when I ended up with enough white frosting to cover my house.  I kept adding teaspoon after teaspoon of water, but afraid I would go overboard, I stopped and tried to pipe the cookies.  

In an attempt to save my expensive disposable bags, I tried folding a piece of parchment paper first.  That pretty much ended in getting white frosting all over everything.  Back with the disposable bag, I piped the borders.  Not too bad, but when I filled them in, it was pretty obvious the frosting was too thick.  It didn't flow well and therefore didn't smooth out.  Oh well ... on to the colors.
What a mess THAT turned out to be!!  The Wilton Icing Colors had foil under the lid that needed to be removed with a knife before use.  In no time I had black dye all over my yellow hand towel, my white shirt and across my entire counter.  I added a couple more teaspoons of water so it would flow better and it worked!!  I'm pretty sure my tip is way too big, because the frosting is almost as thick as the cookie!!

I kept going and mixed up the blue.  It worked even better, although now my hands are black and blue!!  I let the cookies sit to dry ... but apparently not long enough!!  That's when I made the biggest mistake of all.  
I took the black with a too-big tip and made the eyes.  Cute!!!  Until the black goop started to run together.  I should have saved some of the stiffer frosting for decorating details.  They not only have crooked mouths, but they are cross-eyed to boot!!
I've got a bunch of noses to pipe and a whole lot of Mr. and Mrs. Claus to complete, adding to my already colorful hands.  

In the meantime, wonderful Miss Terry called to give me her remedy for the almond flavored cookie and I can't wait to try it!!  She also told me about a secret pie crust recipe.  I'm so excited!!!  If I can get these cookies finished today, I'll donate them to the Challenged Children's Bingo group lunch tomorrow.  They will LOVE them and I don't have to eat these hot messes!!  

There's one problem with all this ... when you look back, you think "that wasn't so hard after all" ... maybe I'll get a few snowflake cookie cutters and try it again!!!  And THAT my friends is how you end up with a dozen boxes of cookie cutters!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Cookie Man

Who has decorated Christmas Cookies .... raise your hand!  My hand is NOT raised.  I've always had good intentions because they look like fun, but to be honest, they are not the tastiest cookies I've ever had.  In fact, most are a combination of glue and sawdust flavoring.

In a moment of insanity however, when I saw someone I knew post on Semi Sweet Designs Facebook site, I thought I just might try it.  You can go for the whole cookie or just the heads.  I chose the heads hoping they would be easier.  I received the cutters from Mike the Cookie Man in three days, individually wrapped, along with instructions and a free decal.  This guy knows how to do it right.  He literally sold out in one day.
I read through all the instructions for his sugar cookie dough twice, just to be sure I got it.  The recipe included almond flavoring ... NOT my favorite.  I'd rather try a little lemon zest, but since this was the first time, I relented.

It was pretty easy to mix up the ingredients before dumping it on parchment paper on the counter.  Rolling was a cinch with this new rolling pin.  Those ends are removable and adjustable in order to make any thickness you want.  No more guessing how thick the cookies are, just roll away and the thickness comes out perfect.
The next trick was to put the rolled dough on a sheet pan and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes before cutting.  The colder the dough, the better they will hold their shape while baking.  So far so good!!  I only got 15 cookies instead of the two dozen I was looking for, but these are much bigger than the three inches called for in the recipe.  They also took longer to bake!!

Amazingly however, I have cookies!!!   There was only one with a chunk taken out when I missed with the spatula, so like any good cook, I ate it.  I was right ... almond is STILL not my favorite, but at least it's a flavor better than sawdust.  Pictures will be forthcoming when I finish them today.
I spent the rest of the evening sewing together these squares.  Thank goodness it's only a crib size quilt, because all those matching seams almost made me crazy ... well, crazier!!  This will turn into a wall hanging for the Lost Horse Ranch.
I'm hoping to get it sewn together today, as I received a text message about company coming and this is currently spread all over the spare bed.  That means I'll be madly cleaning the house and changing the sheets.  

It's also supposed to rain, so it's much warmer this morning.  Truth be told, I haven't had my AC or heating on since I returned in September.  The seasons seem to be slipping further along.  Pretty soon we'll be having Christmas in hot summer weather!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Was It A Full Moon??

With all the goings on at the Magic Kingdom last night, it surely must be a full moon.  You know, those times when absolutely everything goes wrong?

The day began normal enough with Mr. Cooper playing his ball game.  He pushes the ball with his nose far enough under something that he can't retrieve it.  Then he barks until I get down on my hands and knees to snatch it from it's hiding place, telling him NOT to do that any more.  Ten minutes later, he does it again.

I arrived at the Magic Kingdom with arms full of candy.  Since I didn't give out all the Halloween treats, I'm giving it to the Elks to pass out this Saturday at Challenged Children's Bingo.  I headed straight to the upstairs "lounge" where I tossed back my usual Coca Cola.  Nothing else, just Coke.

At the appointed hour, I went downstairs to discover we were short of almost all the supplies needed to keep the peasants happy.  Ordering supplies is not in my job description, yet I'm always asked why we don't have enough.
Almost immediately we ran out of tape for the infernal machine.  The week before I actually drew a picture of the size tape we required and requested it be ordered.  Surprisingly, there were large rolls in our box.  Too bad it was the wrong kind, a fact that wasn't discovered until the SECOND roll of tape ran out, whereupon we installed another large roll and it refused to print.  It was the wrong KIND of tape.

While the peasants ratcheted up their level of unhappiness having to stand in line, we changed all the tape back to the old small rolls.  In the meantime, the mini infernal debit card machine did it's usual thing of REVERSAL, transaction declined.  It takes at least two minutes to run each card.  Now it was taking an extra three to cancel and rerun, which of course went through every time.  Multiply that by ten times in the two hours we sell cards, and we are almost an hour behind in getting the peasants on to the Bingo floor.

At the end of the night, the mini infernal machine refused to close out .... AGAIN.  It happens every single Bingo night now.  Since no one listens to the Castle Lawyer or I regarding this, we just pack it up and let them do it later.   That's when the argument started.

We explained to the ONE IN CHARGE OF ALL what the problems were, but he didn't listen.  Ever since he had the incoming phone lines replaced by Comcast, nothing has worked correctly.  Comcast of course told him it was because there are millions of businesses closing out at the exact same instant we are and the server is overloaded.  In other words, it's the bank's fault.

My question was, how come for the seven years I've been doing this with the old phone lines, it never and I mean NEVER failed to settle or close out?  There was silence.  Then more arguing.  Total frustrated, we finally gave up.

As for the peasants who are complaining about the wait in line, we're sending them to him also.  If they don't want to fix the problem, they can deal with the unruly peasants.

So it wasn't exactly a pleasant night and yes, I thought about throwing up my hands and walking out. Why put up with all this stress for one hot dog, albeit a tasty one!!  Arizona is looking better every day.

Today I'm heading out for macrame supplies.  I've watched enough Christmas Movies to last me at least two weeks!!  Time for a change of scenery.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pear Wine And Chicken Parm!!

Most of yesterday was spent on another quilting project.  I'm dead in the water on the turquoise one until I find more fabric.  Unfortunately, my favorite store in Clovis California is going out of business.

It seems everyone in the fabric business is OLD (like me) and retiring!!  That's a shame since I'm left with one small store located about 30 minutes North.  Oh ... I forgot Joanne's.  They have begun to carry decent fabric, although not a lot of it.  They have even removed their Warning-Formaldahyde signs.  Quilting seems to be going the way of needlepoint.

In honor of their retirement, not that I need a reason, I finished off the last bit of Pear Wine I purchased in Oregon.
That made for a pretty boring day.  No macrame either since I can't go further with this pattern until I receive the second spool of cord.  A foray into Walmart or Michaels may be in order.  You never know, I might get lucky and not have to wait two weeks for Hobby Lobby.  

With my crafty things at a screeching halt, my mind wandered to dinner.  What to cook!!  It happens that lunch was a Lean Cuisine chicken parmigiana.  I quickly ran through the ingredients in my head. I was missing mozzarella, but had some gruyere in the freezer.  They say you can put cheese in the freezer, but take my advice, gruyere is not one of them.

Seems they are feeding chickens steroids or something that makes the pieces as big as turkey breasts. I cut them all in half and they were STILL too thick.  I pounded them for twenty minutes.  Half frozen chicken doesn't pound so well.  Undaunted, I coated the chicken and browned it in my 100 year old WagnerWare cast iron frying pan.  I do love that pan!

Once on the baking sheet, I smothered it with crumbled gruyere cheese that totally fell apart upon cutting, and a jar of marinara sauce.  Thirty minutes later (according to the recipe) it wasn't done, but the spaghetti was.  Oh well, it won't be the first time I ate everything separately.  I finally served up the thinnest one (again, a REAL plate) and put the rest back in the oven for another fifteen minutes.  Mine was cooked through, but the rest are now cooked to perfection.  YAY ... dinner for five days!!
I definitely have to remember that recipe if I ever have company.  It was quite good!!

The rest of the evening was spent cuddling the puppies.  In spite of the arguing about who gets to lay where, they finally settled down to watch Christmas movies with me.  Can you believe it?  It isn't even Thanksgiving and they are showing those crazy Prince Charming movies every single day.  Too bad Prince Charming always seems to live in Minnesota or New York!!
How time flies .... it's Magic Kingdom day and I need to start psyching myself out for the bombardment of the peasants.  Oh what fun!!!  The only redeeming factor is a couple of friendly ladies who said they missed me (and I them) and the frozen turkey I'll take home with me.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Red, White and Blue

Today I am about as patriotic as I can get.  I'm red, white and blue over cupcakes I tried to bake yesterday.  Let me start by saying whoever invented this box of food coloring needs to be hung by his ..... okay, forced to use them every single day.  Look at the top on that yellow vial.  Does it look easy to grab out of a tiny box?  Even if you wet your fingers, you can NOT get a grip on that little bugger, not to mention the fat plastic bottom that sticks to the cardboard like glue.

I suppose I should have just dumped them out on the table.  Instead, I kept working at it until the top came off the blue which was next to the red I was after.  I put it back on but was instantly covered in blue dye.  I kept trying for the red until that top came off, splattering dye everywhere.  I finally opened the bottom of the box to remove the vials, but of course now there is red and blue dye all over me AND the counter.  Heavens to Betsy!!!

I searched high and low in my cabinets and found a large bottle of RED.  I gathered up the little vials and threw them all in the trash.  I spent the next ten minutes trying to get the colors off my hands, to no avail.  Yes, I'm now red, white and blue!!
The reason for all that nonsense was to make red velvet cakes.  It's the one thing I had all the ingredients for ... well, except cream cheese for the frosting!  Just so you know, I made this from scratch.  I even went so far as to sift the flour.  Not like my mothers sifter (which I still have somewhere), the new contraption sent flour wafting on the breeze throughout the kitchen.  It looked like it snowed in my sink.  I figured I would vacuum later.
About midway during the baking process, it dawned on me these were cupcakes.  They require much less baking time than a regular cake.  About half in fact.  I quickly adjusted the timer.  Amazingly, they came out beautiful!!!  Hurray for a Nancy success!!
My REAL reason for baking was to try out this mini bundt pan I'm had in my cupboard for about ten years and never used.  Aren't they magical?  All except for the one.  Naturally, in spite of all the goop I put in the pan, they refused to come out.  I actually had to run a knife around every single nook and cranny and bang them on the counter before they began to release.   YAY!!!! 

Since one broke, with half of it remaining in the pan, I did a quick taste test.  The texture is perfect, the taste, not so much.  Red velvet cake doesn't really have any flavoring in it besides a tad bit of chocolate and a teaspoon of vanilla.  It's all in the frosting ... which I don't have.

Today I'll hit up the little market closest to my house and pick up some cream cheese and powdered sugar.  That should do the trick.
That's when I tried to wash the cute little bundt pan.  I soaked it in hot water for an hour and washed it with a sponge.  Nope ... still really dirty.  I grabbed a toothbrush and tried it again.  Nope ... still dirty.  You're kidding me, right?  How in the world do you get this thing clean??  There's bright red cake residue in every section.

As a last resort, I rubbed every single square inch of the pan with my fingers until I finally got it clean.  No wonder this pan stayed in my cabinet for ten years.  I'm thinking it might be there another ten before it sees the light of day again!!

In the meantime, I'll be scrubbing my hands with pumice stone to get the red and blue color off.  I'm definitely going to remember this next year for Halloween!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back To The 70's!!

Look what magically appeared in my post office box!!!  A new Magic Mouse!!  There's nothing in the world like a good friend that gives you this kind of present.  I'm back in business!

Remember when Nick and Miss Terry were having so much trouble with their Apple computers that they basically threw them out the window?  This appears to be a leftover from that fiasco.  Although I've never had the computer they used (I have a MacBook Pro laptop), I've been perfectly happy with mine.  So when the mouse died, I was devastated.  It's so easy to use, and what can I say, I'm spoiled.

After purchasing the Logitech, I made do until I received a text from Miss Terry, offering up her Apple mouse that she had no use for.  They didn't know it, but I was jumping up and down.  At least something good came from their bad Apple experience.  I LOVE IT!!!  And I love Miss Terry for sending this wonderful gift to me.
In the meantime, somehow I was transported back to the 70's.  Remember macrame?  I can't tell you how many plant hangers and wall hangings I had back in the day.  Some reached from floor to ceiling.  All ended up in the trash and that fad disappeared pretty quickly.

Well let me tell you, it's making a resurgence.  I spotted a piece in Manzanita Oregon that was over the moon expensive.   I decided to make one myself.  Yesterday, while touring Hobby Lobby, it jumped into my head.  I actually found the cording for $8.  I ordered two more, since I have absolutely no idea how much I'm going to need.  This will be a good test.

Since I didn't remember some of the knots, I checked out You-Tube University and it's all there.  Who knew??  This, believe it or not, is 100 yards.  I need 100 more to finish this particular project.  If it works out, it will hang in a place of honor at Lost Horse Ranch.  Compare $16 to $450.  If not, you'll probably see it hanging in the closet.
The good news is this project is SO much cheaper than quilting.  I see plant hangars in everyone's future!!  Just kidding, but you'll probably see a few wall hangings in both of my houses.  This is something you could easily do in an RV too!  Come on friends, let's bring back the 70's!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Shining Bright!

First off, a BIG THANK YOU to all the Veterans who have served this country, making it possible for us to live the lives we live.  If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have the freedoms we have.  Thank a Veteran today!!!

The weather around here has been spectacular.  Remaining in the 60's in spite of the sun shining brightly in the sky, an occasional rain to clear the air ... it doesn't get better than this!!  I walked outside for a breath of fresh air and discovered this beautiful almost-harvest moon shining brightly in the sky.  I raced inside for my camera.

That once broken toe next to the once dislocated one, took the hit as I didn't quite make it across the threshold.  Good grief Nancy, pick up your feet!!  I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the flip flops I was sporting.

I ripped off Jonathan's heater and grabbed my tripod as I limped back outside.  It's amazing how fast the moon moves in the sky, requiring you to be quick on the draw.  It took a few shots before I finally got a moon that was what I SAW versus a big blob of light in the sky.
The clouds made it even better.  I finally closed the tripod and put it back by Jonathan's cage where I attached his heater.  Being a tropical bird, Jon requires temps of around 80 degrees.  With his penchant for chewing up everything, the tripod holds the heat lamp far enough away from the cage so he can't reach it.  Not that he doesn't try ... sticking his little claws out and reaching for all he's worth.  
Once I made sure my toes were still intact and not dislocated or broken again, I plopped a bag of ice on my foot.  Otherwise I might not be able to get in those cowboy boots.  I'm throwing the flip flops away!!

The second thing shining bright like neon lights was my commode ... my toilet ... my john!!  I admit, I'm lazy.  Cleaning the toilets is not my job of choice.  I buy those magic white pills and drop them in the tank.  I quickly learned to buy the RED stoppers that tend to live longer in the chlorinated water. 

I think I was at Walmart when I spotted two boxes of tablets advertising the beautiful blue color.  Since the REAL ones are so expensive, I bought TWO boxes.  The second I dropped one tablet in the tank, the blue boiled up like potato water at the mouth of the Columbia.  WOW!!  That water was shining blue like a searchlight in the sky!!

I quickly discovered it also left a horrible ring of blue gunk that required even MORE cleaning.  This is NOT going to work.  I grabbed a pair of tongs and tried to remove it from the tank.  BIG MISTAKE!  It was immediately a soft mass of toxic blue goop.  I should have known to turn the water off.  WHAT A MESS!!!  

Three spoons and a zip lock bag later, I finally got enough of the goop out of the tank to allow for flushing ... four times before the blue began to dissipate.  I made a special trip to Save Mart to purchase the solid white tabs.  Hopefully the chlorine in those will be enough to turn my blue toilet white again.

As for my hands, I can now see them in the dark, shining bright and fluorescent.  I'm pretty sure this stuff isn't coming off any time soon.  It would have been cool for Halloween!!  My advice is DO NOT BUY THE BLUE!!!

I'll be on the couch AGAIN with my swollen foot propped up!!

Friday, November 10, 2017

I Hear You Loud And Clear!!

Times change, you get older, you get yelled at by your body.  I don't feel any different than I did at 21, so why all the ruckus?

I have a list of recipes I want to make for dinner, including butternut squash soup, a hominy bake, bog (chicken, sausage, rice), shrimp paella and artichoke pasta.  Unfortunately, I don't have all the ingredients for any of them.  I make list after list, but somehow things don't get in my basket.

So yesterday, I tried out something I saw on TV.  Baked chicken and grits.  I've never cooked grits before and now I know why.  It's not exactly the most appetizing thing on the plate (notice a REAL plate).

Unfortunately, Nancy has been a bad girl.  I had two chocolate covered oreos, a hot dog, leftover ugly steak, a tamale and flan, all in the same day.  Do you see a recurring theme?  Maybe high doses of FAT?  In the old days, it would matter not how much half and half and cheese I used in those grits.  The baked chicken was delicious ... dipped in mustard (yup, yellow mustard) and panko along with garlic and thyme.  I have to say the grits were amazing, creamy and tasty, but too much like baby food.  I should have kept my thoughts to myself.

Within 20 minutes of eating, I felt the pain of bad decisions.  After an hour, I checked the route to the hospital and wondered if I could make the drive.  I tried every conceivable position on the couch to relieve what felt like a steel toed boot in my side.  Okay ... OKAY!!!  I hear you loud and clear.  NO MORE FAT!!  Geez ..................

Finally, about 11:00 I hit the bed for a restless night.  The good news is I did NOT have to drive to the hospital and this morning I feel MUCH better.  I got the message ... but it's really hard to open the fridge and find something edible that does not contain the F word.  So it's chicken and veggies for me ... anyone want a package of hot dogs, some sausage and a carton of heavy cream??
I was a sewing fiend yesterday before I got yelled at, finishing several more pillow cases while kicking the ball under the table for Cooper.
I even went so far as to sew all the rows of this one together.  Since that cutting error, I found the same material on line, only to be notified they are out of stock and it will take 3 weeks to get it in.  In the meantime, I'm checking out all my sources for an acceptable substitute.  
I learned my lesson ... the couch is my friend, the F word is not.  That's where I'll be spending my NO FAT day!  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Saga Of The Pictures

For the most part, I don't take pictures for anything other than the blog.  Occasionally however, there might be a good one I want to have enlarged.  Such was the case with the Megler Astoria Bridge in Oregon.

The thing is, if you want to have landscape pictures enlarged, you have to use a tripod and different camera settings.  You also have to keep in mind that the camera takes pictures one size, while ALL printing uses other sizes.  In other words, if I enlarged this picture to 11 x 14, I would lose about 1/3 of the area.  That means you have to stand back FURTHER and take a bigger picture that can be cropped to printing sizes, which of course I never remember to do.

Wouldn't you think the camera people and the printing people would get together and make them the same??  Oh no ... that would be too easy!!

So I spent an entire month uploading four pictures to a professional printing company.  I had to download their software first, then upload my images.  Their software decided not to work for about three weeks.  Eventually, I sent them off, only to get an immediate phone call.

After another week of not catching up with them, I finally reached Eddie.  Eddie told me my pictures were horrible, terribly out of focus and they did NOT want to print them.  I know I didn't shoot these for enlargement, but are they really THAT bad??  Yes ..... yes they are.
With my ego on the floor, I cancelled the order, but I just couldn't believe they were so terrible.  Just for kicks, I went to the Walmart Photo Printing website.  I've actually printed portraits with them and they came out just great.  Suzy's mother said it was the best picture she ever had of Suzy.

An hour later they were uploaded, with a promise they would be ready in 4 hours.  You're kidding, right?  4 hours?  In no time, I had an email that they were ready for pickup.  I had them printed on poster board since that makes it much easier to frame.  Here's one of two 16 x 20 prints.  

Maybe it's the cheap posterboard, or maybe I just don't know what high dollar prints look like, but I think they look just fine!!  No, they are not gallery ready prints to be sold for thousands of dollars, but I'm pretty happy with them.  I ordered four more.  The cost you ask?  $20 vs $70 each.  
The rest of the day was spent giving Mr. Cooper a bath, his least favorite thing in the world.  I've discovered it's much easier to just roll up my pant legs and get in the bathtub with him.  That way he doesn't try to jump out.  After a quick brush and hair dryer workover, we plopped on the couch where he promptly fell asleep.  He smells so good and is SO soft ... I should do that more often!!
Just got notification that my other prints are done so I'll be heading back to Walmart.

By the way, I don't mean to brag, but I just finished my 14 day diet in 4 hours and 20 minutes!!  My goal for 2017 was to lose 10 pounds ... I only have 13 to go!!  Tamales are NOT helping!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Enchanted Land Of Bingo ...

Much as I would rather have stayed home and worked on that crazy quilt, I knew I owed it to the Castle Lawyer to show up in the land of Bingo.  Our cast of help in the cashiering department is very sparse.

It's nice to be needed as I was greeted with big hugs and words of "thank goodness you're back"!!  It makes me feel even guiltier that I wasn't around all summer.

I met most of the crew upstairs, including Prince Charming, the Court Jester and Frank.  Frank is a 98 year old Apache Indian, veteran of just about every war.  He was even at Pearl Harbor.  His stories are both amazing and funny and he's looking for his next wife.  Yes, I thought about it, but the old saying of they're looking for a purse or a nurse holds true ... Frank needs both.  Lucky for him he found our Elks Lodge because we take care of him.

At any rate, we set up so early and so fast that they opened the doors before the appointed hour ... and no one came in.  What????
Eventually we came up with enough people to even raise the pots, no thanks to the mini infernal machine.  The mini me credit/debit machine has become the bane of our existence.  You KNOW all the peasants like those plastic cards.  The machine does not.

Probably 50% of the time it reads a communications error message, then says reversal, before denying the transaction.  Run everything through the second time and it works.  It appears the errors began when they installed new phone lines.  Doesn't make sense to me, but then I'm just the Castle Cashier.

The Castle Lawyer who had been working in her garage all day, came down with a nosebleed like she had been hit over the head by a peasant.  Maybe she was.  I sent her home.  About that time a replacement showed up who counted out my cash and said I was $139 short.  RATS!!  I hate it when that happens.

Lucky for me, this time I remembered almost immediately.  Usually it's when I'm at the third stop light on the way home.  We sell something on the floor called Bonanza's.  When the guys turn in their money, we poke the infernal machine so it records the amount.  Not having done this for many moons, I forgot the poke.  Lucky for me, it was $139.  YAY!!!  I got the best of the infernal machine after all!!

The best part?  There were no fights, no screaming (except when ten people won a $150 pot, making their winnings only $15 each) and no complaints.  Almost no complaints.  We listened to a long diatribe from the new purple haired cook about how she was overworked.  There just weren't enough people volunteering to help her in the kitchen and she had to do it TWICE a month (instead of just once a month) if there were five weeks on the calendar.  I knew not what to say.  I'm always so fascinated with her VERY dark purple hair, my brain turns to mush.

One last thing ... I found a list of eleven things about getting old that seem to fit me perfectly, so I'm passing them on.

I may not be that funny, athletic or good looking or smart or talented or .... I forgot where I was going with this!!

Yup ... happens to me all the time!!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Seven Photos ..... Seven Days

You've all probably done it.  Someone challenges you to post seven photos of your life in seven days (no people), then every day you have to challenge someone else to do it.  I am NOT a fan, but it was a friend, so what are you going to do.  While I really wanted to post some of the great shots I've gotten over the years of wild animals, those don't really show anything about me.

It was then that I discovered I don't really HAVE any photos about me.  No wonder I don't like these challenges!!  In scrolling through everything else on my phone, I finally posted Cooper, Jessie, Jonathan, cowboy boots and my bestest horse, my Shook kite, one bobcat from the Lost Horse Ranch and a dinosaur from the pumpkin patch.  I challenged no one.  It's how I roll ... always the black sheep!!

That pretty much sums it up, except for this ..... quilting.  I would say this is a pretty big part since I sew almost every day when I'm home.  I try very hard not to do this too early in the morning.  All those squares become blurry.  Thank goodness this pattern has an exact placement .... it wasn't me trying to make this happen.

What it IS, is 12 rows of 10 squares, each of which are two different patterns.  Add that up!  Where are the corners you ask?  That extra fabric is in the mail to me as I type because Nancy got carried away and cut it wrong.  I will not be making another one like this.  Every single one of those 120 pieces has TWO seams to match up ... a feat that I'm not so good at.  It will be okay however since this one is going on my bed at Lost Horse Ranch.
Thankfully, none of those photos I posted were of snow.  It's cold enough to snow however.  Winter has finally arrived with 39 degree overnight temperatures, getting up to only 60 during the day.  WOW ... that was fast.  Somehow FALL was skipped right over.  

That meant yesterday morning was my first fire of the season.  To equal out my PGE bill, I turned OFF the sprinklers and turned ON the gas fireplace.  This probably should have been one of my SEVEN.
It was another early morning, which means nappy time for me since it's that time again .... MAGIC KINGDOM OF BINGO!!  Woot Woot!!!  It will be interesting to see all the changes they have made while I'm gone ... knowing of course that I won't put up with things like opening the doors early or allowing credit card bingo.  

On the other hand, it will be fun to see the King, Prince Charming, the Castle Lawyer and the Court Jester, along with all the other peasants, including the newest addition ... a Cook with purple hair that attends the fires.  Not just any purple, but BRIGHT purple!!  This should be fun!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Mouse Is DEAD!

I suppose it's better the mouse died than the rabbit (you have to be really old to get that one).  There's nothing worse than trying to use the touchpad on a computer.  Yes I can move the cursor around like crazy, but most everything I do requires a right click.  There's no right click on a Mac touchpad unless you hit other elusive keys.

That meant a quick trip to my least favorite store in the area.  Best Buy.  They irritate me most because there's never anyone to help you and they lie about things like my TV will be obsolete in three weeks.  Heaven forbid any of their associates might be able to multi-task.

I LOVE LOVE my Apple mouse, but it only connects when upside down.  That's a problem.  The newest version is available but won't work with my operating system, which I can't change because several of my old dinosauric programs won't work.  Besides, it's a whopping $79.99.

I ended up with a Logitech bluetooth too small roller ball version that at least works, for half the price.  I can't complain since it's all I've got!!
As long as I was at Best Buy, I might as well hit up Marshalls.  I've been thinking about decorating the Lost Horse Ranch, although I've no idea how.   I was hoping something would jump out at me. The first thing that caught my eye was a nice RED Jessie bed.  She instantly took possession.  She looks a little possessed because Cooper got just a little too close to her newest prize.
In no time, she was settled in for the night.  She pulled the afghan into the bed and snuggled underneath.  I know I've said this before, but this is a weird dog.
It's a little early, but strike while the iron is HOT!  Somewhere in the store I skipped right over Thanksgiving (as did the store) and picked up a little Christmas cheer.  I decided to go ahead and put them up.  I always have very little time to enjoy the decorations since I'm heading South every year, so THIS year I decided to enjoy them for two whole months.
While digging in the freezer for something other than tamales ... I'm rather tamaled out ... I found some of those Arizona Ugly Steaks.  You can tell by the lid, I hardly use this great grill, but my plan is to change that.  These steaks are so easy to cook ... they must be because they came out perfect and "I" cooked them.  
I follow a blog where they cook just about everything on this same little BBQ, sometimes using that grill mat you've seen on TV.  Our Awesome Travels with George and Suzie who share their flare for bbq.  I'm going to try some of their recipes!

In spite of all my wranglings, we were up at 4:00 this morning.  I just keep telling myself it's really 5:00.  It's going to be a  L  O  N  G  month!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lousy Daylight Savings Time

Whoever invented this thing called daylight savings time needs to be shot.  I'm sorry, but forcing people to change their sleeping habits twice a year is just ridiculous.  In spite of my efforts to stay up til 10:30 last night so I would sleep later, I woke up even earlier than usual.

Worse yet, try to explain that to Cooper whose inner clock you can set your watch by.  Yes we wake up every day at this time and you get fed, but THIS day, we're going to sleep an hour later and wake up at the same time.  It was a no go.  Apparently from now on I'll be getting up at 4:00 am.  To be honest, I really try to stick to that schedule.  It's just the thought that I'm getting up at 4:00 am that kills me, not to mention going to bed at 8:00.  I'll just get used to the new schedule before going to Arizona where I'll be an hour off again.

I made it to the quilt store yesterday to find it packed full of crazy quilting women.  Never go on the first Saturday of the month.  When they finally cleared out, I was able to get backing for this quilt that I sewed together yesterday.  In spite of all the embroidery, it went together easily, lays flat and is much more flexible than I imagined.
Next up ... new pillowcases.  I just love the sewing pattern for these, and they fit perfectly.  There are only three seams and they can be finished in under 20 minutes.  
They add a little pop of color to an otherwise boring beige bedroom.  My decorating skills need a little help.  In fact, my entire house is beigey white neutrals.  That must be why I like Mexico so much ... all that beautiful color!!
I whipped up a couple more for the Children's Hospital (love the kitty fabric) and realized I like the darker border much better.  I'll keep that in mind since I need some cases for Lost Horse Ranch.
It was a Mexican inspired day with tamales for lunch, followed by the flan I made in my Instant Pot.  Here's a picture of the yummy caramel sauce!!  I have four more I'm guarding in the fridge.  
I'm desperately in need of dog food and bird food, but since it's only 5:00, I've a long six hour wait for the stores to open.  I may just crash on the couch for a couple of hours .... take THAT daylight savings time!!