Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Canning Cuz I Can

 I guess this proves I'm a throwback to the days of the old west.  Preserving food was a must if you were going to survive on the ranch.  We had a large garden out back of the house that provided most of the vegetables we ate.  

Beef of course was an every day affair, having come from that cow that tried to jump the fence and broke her neck.  Life was never lighthearted in the cattle business.  It was full of hard work from dawn to dark and death was an everyday experience you tried your best to avoid.

When the veggies got ripe, anything we couldn't eat within a few days was kept in the locker until canning day came around.  For the entire year, any glass jar that could be salvaged and turned into a canning jar, was lovingly stored in the freezer house.  They were very expensive to buy and thank goodness, easy to reuse over and over again.  You were in for a big whooping if you dropped and broke one of those jars.

We canned everything from cucumbers for pickles, to onions, tomatoes, green beans, okra, rhubarb, squash and potatoes.  It was a long arduous process to blanch the veggies before sticking them in jars as tight as possible, then pouring boiling water (full of spices in many cases) over the top.  Stick on a lid and process in the huge canning pot on the stove.

Nowadays, everyone can afford to just buy it fresh at the store, or in cans.  So when my buddy Patty suggested I whip up some of that apple butter I used to make, I said OKAY!!  By the way, we never bought jam or jelly.  Any fruit we could scrounge from the neighbors trees at midnight, was turned into jam ... perfect with that breakfast toast.  

So I drug out my old canning pot and went to town.  Everything goes in the pot above, then is hit with a blender (we did that by hand in the old days) and cooked for about an hour.  In the meantime, I prepared the jars and lids which I just happened to find hidden in the very back of my pantry.  

Yup this is the old way of canning.  Sterilizing the jars is important, as is heating up the jar lids so they will seal properly.   The pans are full of water, sitting on my stove with the burners on low.

When everything was ready, I filled each jar to the top with yummy apple butter, placed the lid on and screwed down the rim very tightly.  Next up ..... the cooking process.  Way back over 60 years ago, we would just leave them on the counter until they cooled, which seals the lids tightly.  As they cool, the lid gets sucked down, assuring the contents won't spoil.  

Nowadays, everyone freaks out about canning, thinking they will get food poisoning!!  So just to make everyone who is going to receive these jars feel better, I went ahead and boiling-water-bath processed them.  That means you put them in a big pot, cover it with an inch of water and boil it for ten minutes in this case.  Those jars of green beans we processed on the ranch, went for an hour or more.

The set of new pots I bought came in pretty handy for this project.  

Once out of the boiling water, as they cool, the little dimples in the top of the lids will sink down with a pop you can hear, providing you an indication that they are indeed sealed.  Another trick is to tap each lid with your fingernail.  You can actually hear which ones are sealed and which are not.  

I didn't have enough jars for the entire batch, so my fridge now contains two small jars of lovely apple butter for me.  I'll give the rest away for Christmas.  It was nice to reminisce about everything we canned in the olden days. 

One of my all-time favorite things was tuna.  I spent some time up in Crescent City where I would go down to the docks and buy fresh albacore.  It was a terrible greasy messy job to cut out the fillets, but cut them I did, then packed them in canning jars.  I still have that huge pressure canner I used outside on the gas stove because the smell was too terrible to be inside.  BEST TUNA EVER!!!!

Time to sit down with a guilty pleasure .... hot cocoa!!  My all-time favorite is Swiss Miss with marshmallows.  I took this picture to show said marshmallow because as soon as you stir the cup, they disappear into nothingness.

SOOOOO, I always add a few REAL marshmallows to enjoy as I sip this sweet nectar.  It was the perfect ending to a nice sunny day, even if it was cold outside.

Shhhh don't tell anyone, but a lot of times I even put marshmallows in my coffee!!!

I hope Cyber Monday went well for you and you receive everything you ordered before Christmas.  I actually received that fabric I've been waiting for the last month.

AND ..... it's Magic Kingdom Day!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Cyber Monday .. WOOHOO!!

 It's just like any other Monday for me.  That would be equal to Saturday since I retired.  I'm not even sure why they have Cyber Monday any more since everyone seems to order everything on the internet anyway.  Add to that the sales have been going on for the last entire week, not just one day.

I've ordered quite a few things this last month, with few of them arriving even close to the expected time.  My order of fabric from Missouri Star Quilt, sent by FedEx, lounged around the Indian Reservation in Arizona for over a week.  I kid you not ... it must have liked the weather.  

It is now in Sacramento where it has stayed for another week, with no indication if it will ever move again.  Even things that Amazon usually delivers in two days, have taken a week with notice after notice that shipping has been delayed.  It's not like it's on a slow boat from China, but it sure feels like it.  

I actually have eleven things on my list, none of which have shown up on the appointed day.  I think the time has come when it's actually easier to drive to crowded Walmart or Boot Barn than to order things over the internet.  So there will be no Cyber Monday for me.

Instead I worked on this quilt and watched football yesterday.  Talk about WOOHOO!  Indianapolis and Tampa Bay fought tooth and nail until Brady just killed them with another great throw.  I'm not even a football fan, but those games yesterday were sitting on the edge of your chair exciting.

Four more squares and this one is done.  Sort of, I still have to sew it all together.  This is one of those grab a square, any square, and sew it to another piece you grab.  That kind of bothers my sense of control and I'm never really happy with the outcome, not to mention the colors don't go with anything I have.  What can I say, it was on sale.

Four days seems to be my number lately.  It took four days to eat up all the Thanksgiving leftovers except some of the turkey I froze.  It also took four days for me to get bored and finally make cookies to use up the butterscotch chips in the freezer.  

I've no idea why I bought them because they are definitely NOT my favorite cookie.  What the heck do you do with butterscotch chips??

It also took only four days after Thanksgiving to begin making Christmas candy.  I can tell you this recipe was a complete flop!  I didn't have the required pan size, so I cut the recipe in half.  It's a weird one since you layer the bottom with Ritz crackers.  

Make a layer of toffee substance with sugar and butter, browning it in the pot on the stove.  Pour it over the crackers.  All went well until I put it in the oven like it said at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.  In ten minutes smoke was streaming from the oven.  NOOOOOO!!!  The caramel stuff was burning nicely around the edges.  

Trying not to be wasteful, I poured the chocolate chips over the top (also cleaning out the freezer) and a few minutes later smoothed them down.  UH OH!!  I just remembered I forgot to spray the pan first.  I had visions of chiseling this stuff out of the pan with a hammer.

I stuck it in the fridge to harden up, then turned it upside down on the counter.  Amazingly, it all came out.  YAY!!!  Not so amazing was the pure black ring all around the outside where it was burned beyond belief.  Okay then ..... I grabbed a knife and stabbed it until the black stuff was all over the counter and broke the remaining tiny piece into even smaller pieces.  

The taste test:    It's awful ... no surprise.  It taste like burnt caramel.  I tried to salvage a piece or two, but I will have to be craving candy pretty badly to eat it.  Better luck next time!

Cooper and I spent the rest of the night on the couch.  I let him hold the Moose, but we didn't play tug-o-war.  I did throw it for him a couple of times, so he was happy.

At last today I'm going to head out on my direct path to three stores, two of which will be returns.  I don't want to drive any further or use up any more fuel than I have to.  Maybe if I'm a real good girl, I'll get the four remaining packages in the next week.

Two of those are related to these items.  I won't tell you what it is yet.  I think you will be surprised.  It actually has to do with another hobby I started.  

Happy Cyber Monday!!  May all the stuff you want be on SALE!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Biting The Bullet

 To "bite the bullet" is to accept the inevitable impending hardship and endure the resulting pain with fortitude".  The catch phrase came from Rudyard Kipling in his 1891 novel The Light that Failed.  It supposedly came from the practice of having a patient bite a bullet between their teeth as a way to cope with the pain of a surgical procedure without anesthetic during the Civil War.  I just cannot imagine.  

Dating back to the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (in India, not here), the phrase was "bite a cartridge".  The phrase "Chew a bullet" went back as far as 1796.  Today, biting the bullet holds the same meaning ... coping with the pain of the procedure, mostly nowadays fueling up your rig or trying to buy a steak for Sunday dinner.

Such was the case yesterday, as I literally stuck a glove in my mouth to muffle the scream as I put fuel in my Jeep. 

Don't bother telling me it's because I live in California, and obviously this is not due to the "summer vacation" crowd.  Here's the breakdown:

Fuel costs 10 months ago        $2.29/gal
Fuel costs today                        4.50/gal
Ca Taxes 10 months ago                  .90
Ca Taxes today                                 .90

Cost of fuel 10 months ago    $1.39
Cost of fuel today                     3.60

So the actual cost of the cheapest variety of gas in town has risen $2.21 per gallon in ten months while the taxes have remained the same. 

As you can imagine, I really did bite the bullet when it cost me $73.50 to fill up my Jeep.  Yes I can go to Arizona and get fuel cheaper, but that too has gone up.  I'm not trying to get political here, but there is obviously a problem.  We've gone from being able to afford food to the highest inflation rate in 30 years, all in a matter of ten months.  

That all means I haven't been going anywhere other than the grocery store and to the Elks lodge once a week.  To fill up my truck would be around $220, so I'm staying rather close to home.  That makes Nancy a dull girl who tries just about anything to fill the time, including filming her parrot while he's talking.  

Jonathan is rather particular ... he only talks when he wants to, and rarely can I catch him on video.  The bouncing of the camera is because I'm bobbing up and down, which usually gets him dancing and saying DISCO.  That tells you just how old he really is.  

Although people think parrots are very noisy, they are actually rather quiet unless they hear something that bothers them.  Parrots have extraordinary hearing.  Then they chortle and scream like a banshee, making Cooper bark at the same thing, whatever it is.  Usually it's just a car driving by.

I'm also biting the bullet trying not to eat everything in sight, which happens when I'm not busy.  I should probably KEEP that bullet in my mouth as I peruse the fridge every 30 minutes.  I'm determined to go for a two mile walk today to at least get me out of the house.  It's Cooper's favorite pastime ... smelling the smells.

In the meantime, although I have a few weeks left, I'm packing up the trailer and all those quilt tops I've made which are ready for quilting.  

When you hear all that screaming coming from California, don't worry ... it's just me fueling up my truck.  

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The KIDS!!

 How was your BLACK FRIDAY?  It is Saturday, right?  I seem to lose track of the days.  Since all the Black Friday deals were available a couple weeks ago, I did a little ordering, but have discovered I will be gone before most of it arrives.  FedEx seems to be WAY behind in their deliveries.  I've waited three weeks for a package from Missouri, and it will be over a month before it arrives.  Even the Pony Express could have gotten it here sooner!

 In the meantime, the best thing about Thanksgiving, other than being with family and friends, is the leftovers.  Even Cooper got a very special treat ... a tiny dab of gravy on his turkey.  This kid hasn't been allowed "people" food most of his life.  When he was about three years old, there was an emergency trip to a Vet in Oregon which put an end to all the goodies.  

Being such a finicky eater, he mostly gets chicken, turkey, eggs and a little rice if I can disguise it enough, along with some potatoes.  That's right, I cook more for him than I ever do for myself!!!  It's like having a house guest that only eats meat and never goes home.

With this face, how can I ever say NO.  He shares in my scrambled eggs in the morning before grabbing his ball for the "game".  Yesterday however, was pretty tragic in his little world.  I discovered one of his top fangs is loose.  I'm sure that's from making the ball squeak 300 times a day.  He has jaws of steel, but a loose tooth from playing tug of war (his other favorite game) is a game changer.  I had to take all his toys away.

You can just imagine how that went over!!  I tried to dissuade him with turkey, but to no avail.  It's a sad day in the Kissack house.

Even Jonathan tried to distract him by screaming most of the day.  When he wasn't yelling, he was ripping his house to shreds, which is a good thing.  Parrots beaks will grow continuously until they die.  If it gets too long, they cannot eat.  Jonathan require lots of chew toys, but these are made of wooden dowels which he destroys in a matter of minutes.  The towels and blankets covering his cage are also shredded.

All that helps pieces of his beak break off little by little so it doesn't get too long.   The hardware store where I purchase all those dowels, loves me.  Plus, it's a good way to get rid of all those old towels instead of throwing them away.  It's a win-win.

For sure if I had realized Jonathan would actually live this long, I would have thought twice about keeping him.  Still .... he's a real card that keeps me company by reminding me he's a pretty boy and calling the kitty, which I no longer have.

Thankfully, although it was rather fun at the time, I have no more black and white visitors, nor do I expect to see them again.  The Weedman not only sprayed all the weeds, which eventually will be disced into the sand, but they have killed all the grubs that somehow appeared out of nowhere, which is what the skunks were after.  

Apparently I was running a gourmet restaurant in my back forty and didn't even know it.   My little fox buddy hasn't been seen for awhile either, but from the chicken squawking two doors down, I think he's found a new haunt.

I did make one feeble attempt at washing the fifth wheel yesterday.  I drug the ladder over again, just to see if playing acrobat was feasible.  I know, I'm spoiled ... but the ladder is so much narrower than the old rig, meaning it will be much harder to get this old body up on top.  I decided it wasn't that dirty after all.  

It would be nice to be able to check for bad caulking, but it appears I will have to let the RV guys do that.  Better they break their neck than me.  Or maybe once a year I can drive by the equipment rental place and ask for a demonstration of their latest lift.

The rest of the evening was spent looking at this little forlorn face.  I even tried a tiny bit of turkey gravy, but it wasn't happening.  I finally gave in and tossed his softest Moose toy his direction.  The blanket on the floor?  He puts the moose down, pulls the blanket over the top, then digs it out, just like he does with the ball if I would give it to him.  For twelve years old, you would think he's three again.

These kids .... they sure are good company, except for the black and white ones!!  I have to admit though, the skunks certainly were entertaining for an old retired gal.  I'm not taking any chances though ... Cooper never goes out without my flashlight making the rounds of the dark back yard first.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Disaster In The Making!

Here's Cooper and I early Thanksgiving morning, contemplating the nice warm fire and the day's menu.  I like cooking big dinners because it's such a challenge from my normal lean cuisine in the microwave technique.  It's also my chance to use that beautiful oven for the only time this year.  THAT can be hazardous!!

I even went so far as to set this nice table for one.  I didn't use it, it was just for the picture.  I put it all away so I didn't have to wash everything.  I completely forgot I had a dishwasher, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

There was a slight problem with the oven.  The last time I tried, the big oven worked just fine.  The temp on the little one is off by about 50 degrees.  After mixing up everything for the stuffing, I attacked the bird with relish!!  Oh darn ... someone got carried away when this one was dispatched and cut a big hole in the exact piece that holds the stuffing in.  I had to get creative with those little pins our mothers used to use to hold it all together.

I preheated the oven and everything seemed to be working fine.  In the turkey went, next to the thermometer I keep in there, you know, just to be sure.  I even set up my handy dandy thermometer IN the turkey.  This is the best thing I ever bought.  It has a steel cable on it with a probe that goes in the turkey.  No opening the door, except for this time.

There the turkey was ... basking in the oven light ... when I spotted the inside gauge reading 220.  WHAT?  That can't be right.  Indecision ..... before I finally opened the door.  Yup, that's what it says.  I stuck my hand inside to see if it felt hot.  I probably did that four more times before actually sticking my HEAD inside to see if it was getting any hotter.  MORE indecision.  Is it working?  

I hit the ON button for the small oven, even though it takes an hour to heat up and I was sure the turkey would not fit.  Suddenly, the turkey probe went up one degree.  Okay then .... it must be working!!  Blink ... the temp went up another two degrees.  Oh well ... I've got all day I suppose.

I served my company some appetizers to keep them at bay.  Cheetos!!  No, there wasn't any company.  I ate the Cheetos!!

At long last ... almost five hours later ... the turkey hit the target temperature ... 171 degrees.  WOOHOO!! Isn't he beautiful???  Just like that picture!  Nancy was a happy camper, even if it did take 90 minutes longer.  I suppose I should have someone look at my ovens.

I had one other brilliant idea about that broccoli.  I took a handful of bacon crumbles and fried it with some onions, then dumped it over the green stuff.  It was pretty darn tasty ... I mean who doesn't like bacon?  

AND in my book, there's not much better than turkey gravy smothering everything.  After I took this picture, everything got a brown bath!!

Even the homemade dressing came out pretty tasty, even if I was reminded two hours later that bread is a no-no.  I didn't even go back for seconds since I knew in a short amount of time I would be miserable.

Clean-up became a drudge with all those dirty dishes I was washing by hand until I remembered I had a dishwasher.  I never use it either since it washes for something like 90 minutes, and that's on the fastest setting.  

SO Cooper and I watched football ... the LAS VEGAS Raiders (no longer a California team) beat the Cowboys in overtime.  It was a pretty good game, even if I am a baseball fan.  When the turkey and gravy began calling my name for dinner, I completely ignored it and instead made a 10-minute key lime pie.  THIS was dinner for me and it was SOOOOOOO good!  

This morning the turkey is screaming again, so I suppose I'll have to have another turkey dinner for breakfast because that's how we roll here!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful turkey dinner with their family and enjoyed this day being thankful for everything we have.  Except those fuel prices ... I'll be thankful when (and if) they go back down.

Thursday, November 25, 2021


 It's that time of year when we are thankful for everything we have, including that free turkey I picked up for volunteering at Bingo. Beautiful fall colors abound across the country .... except for here.  We have 36 degrees with a lovely coating of fog, kind of like the whipped cream I'm going to put on dessert today.

Cooper was a very helpful little elf as we decided on our menu.  That's his favorite Moose which he carried around for hours.

There was a little disappointment when I opened my PG&E bill.  It's always so disheartening when I see all my efforts at conserving energy have been for naught, including no heat or AC for the last entire month.  Here's the breakdown:

Generation                                                $  68.78
Transmission                                                21.08
Distribution                                                  70.93
WILDFIRE                                                   3.49 
  Yes, WE are paying for the lawsuit they lost when
   their incompetence caused the fire that burned
   down an entire town. 
Electric Public Purpose Programs (??)          9.49
Energy Cost Recovery                                     .19

There's a whole bunch of other small taxes and a note that I use too much electricity from 6 am to noon.  Yup that's me .... being excessive by doing my laundry at 6 am.

SO ... I began to obsess about my turkey.  Do I smoke it and have no gravy or do I bite the bullet and put it in the oh-so-expensive-to-run OVEN for four hours??  It's a toss-up ... and the oven won out.  I'm hoping if I show you THIS picture enough times, my turkey will turn out looking just like it!!

Of course there will be the awesome sides ... mashed potatoes and broccoli.  Honestly, I could even do without the broccoli, but it's not going to last another day.  I'll throw some chopped almonds on it to make it "special".  I even tried to use my witchy powers and make a pumpkin pie appear out of nowhere.  That hasn't worked so well.

Unfortunately, I did have to add to the cemetery out back.  The Mac 'n Cheese got buried.  I mean really, I will eat just about anything, but this one had to go.  I guess I should be thankful this Thanksgiving that there is no Mister around who has to eat my food.  

What I DID make was this gorgeous apple upside down cake.  Who knew??  The recipe came from my buddy Patty Chance in Arizona.  My kitchen became her test kitchen for the day.  She is probably hard at work making this right now.

I had my doubts since the only pan I had was 8" instead of 9", meaning it had to cook longer.  That always brings on images of black and burnt on the top while raw in the middle.  It turned out okay however.  The "let it cool for 30 minutes before slicing" lasted about ten minutes before I took a test bite.  Two seconds later I cut out a nice slice .. you know, in the interest of making sure it was going to be tasty for Patty's dinner.

Next was the question of stuffing.  To stuff it or not!!  I LOVE stuffing, but it doesn't like me very much.  I think it's the sourdough bread.  Actually, I think it's just bread in general.  Anywho, I had a brilliant idea.  I took some old bread from the fridge and made toast.  No use turning on that oven that requires $$$$.  Then I cut it up and left it sitting on top of the stove all night.  

You know what?  I think it's going to work, and I don't even have to make a trip to the store.  The proof is in the pudding ... we shall see what it tastes like.

I never thought I would ever say this, but maybe it's not such a bad idea to go out for Thanksgiving dinner, at least for us single people.  I'm going to have turkey leftovers for DAYS!!  Well ... actually COOPER will have leftover turkey for days.

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful warm day with your family.  I'm very thankful for all of the readers who grace my blog every day.  Some days you keep me going and you always make me laugh!!!  


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Magic Kingdom Rides Again

 I was late for a very important date!!  Some of the Bingo crew meet in the Castle Keep prior to dealing with the peasants.  I'm not saying everyone needs some fortifying refreshments in order to deal with the pitchforks, but it helps.  My coke doesn't fortify, but it gives me enough energy to get through the night without falling asleep ... mostly.  

Sometimes the machines do their thing and sometimes they revolt, just like the peasants.  That in turn, causes the peasants to revolt anyway.  When the machine throws up the little numbered ball, it is placed in its corresponding number home, which triggers the two big boards to light up like a Christmas tree.  That is so those who are playing eight cards can see what the numbers were, even though they are behind in the ink stamping of said numbers.

On this night the machine revolted and decided not to post several of the numbers.  It started as a low rumble, and immediately turned into pitchforks and torches!  Everything came to a screeching halt while one of the Knights tried to get it fixed.  Luckily we have some handy Knights.

Suddenly there was an even bigger uproar!  If you pay $2 extra each night for Hotball and win Bingo with that specific number, you win both pots.  The place erupted in a standing ovation.  The lady just won $1,699.  Since she paid for many of her cards with dimes and quarters, I'm hoping she uses it to buy Thanksgiving dinner for her family!!  I'm not holding my breath, since jackpots always seem to wind up at the local casinos later in the week.

I was a little concerned in the beginning since many peasants were smart enough to stay home and not lose all their money.  That meant we might not have enough money to actually MAKE those payouts.  Our usual numbers in the 125 range fell all the way to 88.  It was nip and tuck for awhile until we finally gathered up enough of the green to make the minimum payouts.  Still, it came to over $4,000.  That does seem to make the peasants happy.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, you all probably saw this on the internet.  It's exactly my idea of how to eat pumpkin pie.  Oh I love the pie, but I like the white fluffy stuff even better.  Sadly, it doesn't like me, as evidenced last night after eating a small slice of pie from the kitchen.  Tums are my buddies.

Another interesting thing happened at the dungeon ... the Red Cross gave the Elks Lodge literally hundreds of these Covid at home tests to give away.  At our Lodge dinner the other night, everyone took home five boxes each (and each box has two tests).  I would say that's nice of someone to do this, but as you all know, it's coming out of YOUR pocket ..... and mine. 

They had so many left over that they handed them out to the peasants last night.  Surprisingly, hardly anyone was interested.  

At long last, after somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 yawns, I balanced the infernal machine who actually played nice for once.  I put everything away and raced out the portcullis (big gate) and across the moat to my waiting chariot.  

Someone was very happy to see me walk in the back door since I had completely forgotten to leave any lights on in the house.  We spent maybe ten minutes snuggling on the couch before hitting the hay.

I'm up very early this morning contemplating the smoked turkey.  I'm having second thoughts.  There is no gravy with smoke and gravy is a must with those mashed potatoes.  Why are the simplest decisions the hardest??  I'm posting this picture with the thought that if I visualize it long enough, it will actually happen in MY kitchen.

I hope you all took your turkey out of the freezer yesterday, otherwise you are in trouble.  Today I will also contemplate the couch!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

How NOT To Make Dinner

 Doesn't a big slice of frozen peanut butter pie just sound WONDERFUL?  I thought it did, at least for the first piece, then it all went downhill.

I rather imagine it pays to follow the recipe.  Don't use extra crunchy when it calls for creamy.  Just to be sure it came out okay, I even bought a pecan pie crust.  THAT was my first mistake.  That first bite into the luscious filling tasted like rancid pecans.  Yessirree ... who knows how long that pie crust sat on the shelf before I bought it.  

I forced myself to eat the entire thing over the last week, scraping the filling off the crust.  I do try not to be wasteful.  To be honest, it was hard forcing down that last bite of peanut butter too, just as the doorbell rang.

As promised, the Weedman was right on time at 8:30 am.  As you can see, it's rather foggy and getting worse every day, which is why I didn't go outside for a picture.  I did open the door, only to breathe in the horrible smell of grass killer.  He said they put that smell in it so humans will be wary until it dries.

Let me just say these guys did much more than I expected and were very thorough.  The entire front and back yards were sprinkled with weed and feed.  Then they sprayed every crack in the sidewalk, both front and back for weeds.  They also put something in the flower beds to keep out weeds the gardeners never pull like they are supposed to.

The main reason they were here was to spray my entire back forty to keep the weeds not only down, but completely gone.  Yes it cost me a chunk ... like gulp ... $400.  I know, I probably could have done that my myself, but I'm getting lazy.  The best part is they will be back every two weeks for six months, to be sure it kills everything, as well as putting on a pre-emergent.  Hopefully that will allay my fears of those firecrackers burning my house down.

Unfortunately, that meant we were locked in the house for the next four hours.  They said maybe two until the stuff dries before puppy feet could go outside.  I waited much longer before carrying Cooper out to the road.  You just never know.  Whew that stuff stinks!!

It took three guys over two hours to get the whole thing done.  If my lawn looks half as good as my neighbors, I'll be a happy camper.  The lawn care once every six weeks is $90 and I can stop the service any time.  I'm sure I could do it cheaper, but I'd rather be quilting.

Or making cookies.  I found this Christmas cookie recipe I've been wanting to try.  It's not the normal tasteless sugar cookie recipe, it's shortbread.

What was cool about it was you make them the day before and decorate the day after.  I'm not so good in the decorating department.  This is only nine of twenty, which turned out to be 16 since I broke and ate four of them while decorating.  

Sadly, the blue icing recipe called for peppermint flavoring.  Of course I've no idea how old that bottle was and the flavoring left a lot to be desired.  Next time I'll come up with something else that wasn't bottled ten years ago.

While still cooped up in the house, I decided to use up some of that Swiss cheese in my Mac N Cheese.  Let me just say you CAN mess up a good Mac recipe by adding the wrong stuff.  I probably won't ever get that taste of sour milk out of my mouth from testing the carton whose expiration date was still a week away.  There are no words!!

I used cheddar cheese, about half as much Swiss and a handful of parmesan, just like the TV cooks said.  Since I had a bag of really tasty chips, I crumbled them up and covered the top.  That was my third mistake.  It looks delicious, but those chips burned and tasted terrible, not to mention the Swiss cheese.  Yucky poo!!  It took me an hour to force down one plateful.  I won't be making that mistake again!

All the while, Cooper kept an eye out the front door windows for those bad guys walking across his lawn. He also lets me know every time a car passes by.  Bark bark!!  He's such a good watch pup!!

And so the day ended with visions of yummy Mac n cheese swirling in my head and a stomach ache from all those cookies.  Today I contemplate washing the fifth wheel.  AND it's Magic Kingdom day!

Monday, November 22, 2021

It Was A Relaxing Sunday

Sometimes things just don't work out like you planned.  It was actually rather nice to have absolutely nothing to do.  My plans to visit the Raymond Museum went up in smoke when I couldn't get ahold of anyone to confirm they were actually open.  The answering machine referred to being gone over Labor Day weekend, so that adventure has stayed on my list tacked to the wall.  

With fuel now at a record $4.89 per gallon ... no kidding, that's what it costs here because the station with diesel at $4.69 had their pumps closed off ... I didn't want to make a trip for nothing.  This isn't because of California taxes because early last year fuel was $2.59 at this same station.

In the meantime, here's one of my favorite cowboy pictures.  Someone spent a lot of time posing them.  I'm guessing it's maybe 30's or 40's?  Apparently they didn't get the part about the hat brim shading your face from the sun.

Over the years, I have definitely taken advantage of the Doctor's orders (when I was very young) to keep cowboy boots on these feet!  This is a view of the five I wore this last week.  There's probably another 20 pair in the closet.  I actually have boots that are 30 years old and I'm still wearing them.  

I admit, the really good boot makers are mostly out of business nowadays.  Tony Lama and Dan Post were a couple of my favorites.  They aren't even available around here any more.  A good pair of boots used to run maybe $50, but now have edged their way up to $300-$400, while the craftsmanship has disappeared.  I'm guessing if you live in Texas, you have much better choices than Boot Barn in California.  

Cooper didn't care about the boots, he was just barking at that dog in the mirror!

I actually did get a nice chance to wear my latest cowboy hat.  My best drill (I only have one) is a much older battery operated variety, without much power.  I have to admit though, for being almost 20 years old, that little Makita still works.

The trouble is, the drill never seems to be where I am.  With Black Friday deals now being offered every day of the week until Christmas, I was able to pick up the Ryobi, mostly because I already have a few other tools with the same name, meaning the same battery.  I also love the color, since it's easier to find in the mess of my garage.

I wore my hat with pride all the way to Home Depot.

There was one slight problem however.  I noticed it the second I got in the truck.  The back brim hit the headrest.  I had to lean forward at least six inches, putting me in a very awkward driving position, not even able to lift my head up to see.  Well this isn't good!!  

By the time I got to Home Depot, my neck was killing me.  I guess I'll have to figure out how to remove the headrest, because I'm determined to wear my hats!!

On the way home, I finally figured out if I push the front brim way up, the back goes way down and I could actually lean back in the seat.  Problem solved .... sort of.  

Lunch was one of those magnificent Costco muffins.  In case you were unaware, that's 600 calories staring me in the face.  Of course I added another 100 calories in butter.  At least they don't taste like cake mix.

I watched a couple more Christmas movies ... Fred Claus ... and contemplated today's arrival of the Weed Man.  They come highly recommended around here to remove weeds in the back forty so my house doesn't burn down on Saturday nights when someone drives through the neighborhood throwing out M-80's.  So far we haven't been able to catch them.  They move to different streets most every time.

The Weed Man also makes your lawn look fabulous with their magic formula (probably available at Home Depot) with one application every 6 weeks, which makes it affordable.  We shall see how that goes.

I spent the rest of the day working on this new quilt.  

In the meantime, I'm looking for new opportunities to wear my cowboy hats.  Maybe tomorrow night, since it will be BINGO time again.  Here's a thought ... if someone coughs or sneezes, just dip your head and put the brim between you and them.  No mask required!!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Speaking of Hats .....

 Being born and raised on a cattle ranch, I've worn hats all my life.  In fact, for a time, I hit up antique stores almost every week, looking for vintage clothing, including the hats women wore.  The hats they sported showed their standing in society.  The bigger and flashier the hat, the richer and more prominent they were.  Some day I'll drag all those out, along with the fashions of the day which no longer fit.  That was when I was MUCH skinner.

At any rate, I wore cowboy hats most every single day growing up.  We had never heard of sunscreen, and it probably didn't even exist back then.  Our cowboy hats were to keep the dust and dirt out of our hair, which didn't get washed all that often, and to keep from getting sunburned.

Back in the earliest days of pushing cows across the land in order to find enough food to keep them alive, the Mexican Vaqueros wore these large brimmed hats.  They hadn't heard of sunscreen either.

Even as far back as the 13th century, Mongolian horsemen wore tall crowned hats with wide brims.  The tall crown provided insulation again the cold and the brims, protection from the sun.  In early America however, hats were not popular except in big cities, mostly to denote again, their status in the money department.  

People wore top hats and bowlers, with a few sailor hats left over from the civil war.  No one really knows when the word "cowboy" hat came about.  It was actually the bowler hat that won the West.

In 1865, Mr. John Stetson came up with the idea of making hats out of beaver pelts and is still in business today.  To own a Stetson hat was akin to that top hat back East ... a sign of status.

The first "cowboy" hat he made was call the Boss Of The Plains.  They were lightweight, waterproof and came in several grades.  One-grade material was $5 while pure beaver hats were $30.  Even as a kid growing up, I knew a silver belly Stetson hat said you had made it in the cattle business.  

Durability and water resistance were the name of the game, especially since in 1912 when the USS Maine was raised in a Havana Harbor, a stetson was discovered in its hold, having been there since 1898.  When dried out, it was just like new.  What a sales point!

By the 1920's, the Boss of the Plains began to take different shapes, as it became a popular item for cowboys and cattlemen across the plains.

The first American Law Enforcement group to adopt the hat as part of their uniform was the Texas Rangers, along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  

The term ten gallon hats came about in 1925, probably a bad interpretation of the Mexican words tan galan, meaning really handsome.  I interpreted it as holding enough water to give your horse a drink, which we occasionally had to do.  It's also perfect for feeding grain when you are on the trail.  Yes it got a little horse slobber on it, but you just swished it in the river and put it back on.
By the 1940's, colors were introduced to be worn by the cowboy movie stars and the shape of the crown began to change.  Back in the day, you could tell exactly what a man did for a living, based on the shape of the crown.  This is the Cattleman crown (below), shaped to show you owned a ranch and raised cattle.  The shape of some crowns could even tell you the name of the ranch it came from.  The now turned up brims made it easier to keep your hat on when flinging a lasso around your head to catch that calf.  This was my Dad's hat.

It also looks exactly like my $5 straw hat I was wearing at maybe 6 years old when the horse went right after the calf and I went left into the tomato field.  I was crying like a champ trying to catch up my horse again, when my Dad grabbed it off the ground, stuffed it on my head (along with the tomato juice) and threw me back in the saddle.  You learned really quickly to be tough on the ranch.
Over the years, hats have changed very little, with the exception of the steamed crown.  Throw a little steam on the hat and you can crease it any way you prefer.  We will drive a hundred miles to that guy who knows how to steam a hat.  In summer you wore a straw hat with a loose weave to be cooler.  In the winter, it was always felt to keep you warm.

This is the square low crown of a bull rider, having recently become more popular by squaring off the front brim.  This style has shown up on TV shows from Oklahoma and it has caught on like wildfire.  I'm not sure why .... it's not my style at all.  
I probably have twelve cowboy hats of various types and styles.  In the early 60's the rolled brim came out again, a throwback to the days of sombreros and TV heroes of the 1940's.  Just to show you the durability, this hat is a 5X beaver and is now 61 years old.  It's been through the ringer and still looks pretty good.  I wore this hat snow skiing for about five years, even in full blown snow storms.  Very few of these were ever sold and I doubt many exist today.  I should probably donate it to a museum.

Tips regarding your cowboy hat:

Never EVER set your hat down on a bed.  It not only brings bad luck to you, but to the person who sleeps in that bed.

Never EVER put your hat down brim first.  It should always rest on its crown.  Brim-first ruins the curve and lets all the luck drain out of the hat.

Always tip your hat to women as a sign of respect, which also shows them you aren't going to shoot them as your hand moves away from your six-gun.  

Never tip your hat to a man, as it says you think he's wimpy like a woman, which may lead to guns firing everywhere.

If you want your hat to stay on while roping or barrel racing, spray a little hairspray on the front sweatband.  It will stick like glue.  That also works while skiing downhill at 30mph.

So there you have it ... a history of cowboy hats on the ranch.  As ranches fade away, so have cowboy hats.  So lets all get ours out and wear them!  Lets start a new trend.  

Obviously, Cooper could care less.