Monday, May 30, 2011

Low Country Boil

Cleaned house all week and enjoyed the fruits of our labor yesterday at our Low Country Boil.  For those of you who don't know what that is it's a slow cooking in a huge pot of Videlia Onions, red potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, Old Bay Spice, a bouquet garni  of other spices and most importantly fresh Georgia shrimp.  Our friend Mike brought the pot and did the cooking while the rest of us sat around drinking cold drinks and eating 7-layer Bean Dip.
The sky was clear and it got very hot and eventually we all ended up inside eating way too much and talk, talk, talking.  Most of our friends are musicians, playing in various bands, and like most of our get togethers it ended up with most of them with a guitar in their hands and singing.
Any time we get together with friends they always ask me to make the 7- Layer Bean dip and I thought I'd share the recipe:

In a large glass bowl put
a layer of low fat refried beans
a layer of guacamole
a layer of low fat sour cream mixed with a packet of taco seasoning
a layer of shredded cheese I use Sargento 3 Mexican cheeses
a layer of tomatoes
a layer of chopped green onions
a layer of chopped black olives

Trying to Keep the Chef Cool!

As our friend John said as he left, good food, good friends and good times, it doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Southern Traditions

When it is 11dy million degrees outside, as it has been this week, a good Southerner's thoughts turn to cooling off.  And what better way to cool off than with a cool glass of sweet iced tea.  I love sweet tea, made only as they make it in the south, so sweet that your spoon could almost stand in it.  I order it whenever we go out to eat.  But at home I'm a little more calorie conscience and my sweet tea has only 5 calories a glass and tastes almost as sweet.
As for the peaches behind the tea I'm making a load of sweet Georgia peach jam tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ogeechee River

We live near the Ogeechee River, the lagoon in our backyard is a tributary of Redbird Creek that feeds into the Ogeechee, and now there's been a rather large fish kill in the river.  It spans 5 counties and the authorities aren't sure what's happening.  The first dead fish were spotted near a textile treatment plant, but the EPA has checked them out and said they're not the source of the kill.  They've also checked the oxygen levels in the river and they appear to be ok.  Samples of the dead fish, the river  water and soil from the river  have all been sent off for testing.  Several dead alligators have also been found and they're theorizing that they died from eating the fish.
In the mean time people are being told not to swim in the river nor eat any fish from it, and that's what sensible people should do.  What non-sensible people are doing is spreading weird rumors about what is causing the kill.  Would you believe that it's UFO's causing the problem?  Or better yet that the radiation levels in the river are high because of the leakage from the crippled Japanese nuclear plants?
Some people need to get a better grip on reality.
We're just hoping that it won't affect the wildlife in our lagoon, not even the 2 alligators.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Hard to Believe

This is What it Looked Like
We've been having trouble with the fan on the air conditioner in Mac's Miata and because it's still under warranty I called the dealership and made an appointment to take it in.  Got up at the crack of dawn (7am and it felt like dawn), breakfast and over to Savannah to drop the car off.  We returned at noon to get an estimate on when it would de done and whether we'd have to leave it and come back another day to pick it up.
The man in the service department said he'd just tried to call us, that they'd found the problem, a mouse had built a nest in our fan, and he showed it to us.  It was hard to believe, we park our car in the garage, have never had a mouse problem ( I betting the snakes eat all of them) and we do drive the car, so seeing the fan full of fluff was a bit of a shock.

These aren't my photos, I didn't have my camera with me so I "borrowed" them, but this is exactly what it looked like.  Mac is going to check our other car to see if there are any nests in it.  And needless to say mice nests are not covered by our warranty.
This is What it Should Have Looked Like

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Must Haves

While reading Kate Takes 5  this week she was talking about the 5 products she couldn't live without (tweezers, pasta, laptop, tv and a bottle opener for her wine) and I took a look at what other people were listing and wondered how essential they were to me.
Many people listed their tv  I could live happily without mine, I watch very little anyway except for sports and HGTV and if they come up with a sporting House Hunters program I'd probably watch it.
Nearly every one listed their mobile (known as a cell phone over here) and again I could live easily without one.  I don't like phones, never have, my cell phone lives in the glove compartment of my car to be used in emergencies (I don't even know my cell phone number) and my landline is always set to pick up messages we never answer it without seeing who the call is from.  If you need to get hold of me you have to e-mail.
Others listed their camera and I do like mine but I think I could live without it.
Wine was listed frequently and though I love of a glass of good German white wine I often go long periods without having any.

So what 5 things must I have?

1.  My computer and a connection to the internet.  I shop online, talk online, book travel online, download books online, it is my lifeline.  When our connection goes down and it doesn't very often, I feel stranded.

2.  Books, I must have books, I read all the time and get nervous if I don't have a stack of books waiting to be read.  Some of my best friends are books.

3.  Air conditioning.  I can't imagine living in the South without it, actually I can imagine it because a hundred years ago when my husband was drafted into the Army they sent us to Georgia and we couldn't afford air conditioning, in fact most of the time we didn't even have a fan.  It was awful, so I must have air conditioning.

4.  My credit card.  I don't have a debit card but I have a credit card that I use for everything and get frequent flyer miles while I do it.  I pay it off every month, never carry a balance and don't carry much cash either.  Makes life very easy.

5.  A car with a hatchback, we absolutely have to have one.  We live 8 miles out of town and to save gas we always bundle our trips trying to get as many things done at a time as we can and with a hatchback we can haul groceries, lumber, garden supplies, pool supplies, tile, you name it.  Mac drives a sports car (Mazda Miata) and without my car we'd need a pick-up truck.

So those are my 5 essential products, what are yours?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pool

All right it's official, it may only be May 21st but summer has begun.  I went in the pool for the first time this year and didn't have to walk on water.  I'll admit there was a bit of a squeak when first my body touched the water, but the longer I was in the better it felt.  It's supposed to be 93 here today and 95 on Sunday and Monday so this probably won't be my last foray into the water.  I was cleaning the bottom and scrubbing  the sides of the pool  while Mac was trimming the Jasmine that hangs over the pool.
The Buddleia on the end of the pool was covered in small butterflies, Skippers, and I could hear bumble bees buzzing around, they work so hard, whereas the Skippers get drunk on nectar, fall in the pool and have to be rescued all the time.
It actually felt pretty good, but I can't be out in the sun too long even if I'm covered in Sunscreen.  Saw my dermatologist yesterday and only had to have a few things burned off, but I've learned my lesson and I really limit my time in the sun.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Some Random Thoughts

I've been cruising the internet and as always I'm amazed by what's going on out there.
For example:  Leroy Fick a winner of $2,000,000 in the Michigan lottery is still eligible for Food Stamps and plans on still getting them.  With his winnings he bought a house, a car, and invested the rest, and as such he has a low enough income level to qualify.  I thing if I were a Michigan tax payer I'd be rather upset by this.
Then there's San Francisco that has decided to place an initiative on the November ballot to ban circumcisions in males under the age of 18.  Strange, they won't ban abortions that kill babies but they'll ban the removal of a useless piece of skin.
Next we have Van Jones a former something or another in the Obama  Administration who is working towards having human rights granted to Mother Nature.  He wants recognition that trees, oceans, mountains and animals have the same rights as human beings.  This is beyond bizarre.
Lastly Saturday, and I guess I just haven't been  paying attention, is the Day of Rapture, Christ is coming calling his own home and the rest of humanity is in the pooh.  I was planning on sleeping late because we go out dancing on Friday nights, but now I guess I'll have to get up early.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's In A Name

I was reading a blog this morning (sightingsat60) and it was talking about how names have changed in popularity.  In the decade I was born my name Janet was the 21st most popular name in the country.  By the next decade it had moved up to 20th, but in the 60's it had slipped to 47th, by the 70's to 125th, and now it is 894th.  I wasn't named after anyone and when I asked my Mother she said that she just liked the name, well I guess not many Moms do now.
The most popular names for girls the year I was born were:
Mary, Linda, Patricia, Barbara, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Susan,  Sharon, Judy,Carolyn, Donna, Betty, Karen, Kathleen, Margaret,  Shirley, Diane and Joyce.  And in that list you'll find my two sister's names, Judy and Susan, my best friend, Carolyn, my cousin, Patricia, and two of my aunts, Shirley and Betty.
The blog went on to say that if I'd had the most popular name of my decade, Mary, my daughter would have been named Lisa (most popular 60's name)  and my granddaughter would have been Jessica.  Well my daughter is April and I don't have a granddaughter, just a grand cat named Yogi.  April was the 139th most popular name in the 60's and is now the 378th , but I like it much better than Lisa or Jessica.
All this information came from the Social Security Administrations web site, have a look at your name.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Busy Tuesday

Our New Couch
We were up early today, we've become  real slug-a--beds since we've retired, because the delivery time for our new couch was between 7am (and I never voluntarily get up at this time) and 11am so we wanted to be up and moving before they came.  Our friends who were buying our old couch picked it up last night so I had a nice empty spot waiting to be filled.
We were also waiting for the bug man to come and do an extra spraying, living in a swamp is always an adventure and help is often needed.
So while we waited I decided to get my first (of the year) jars of peach jam made.  We've been eating store bought jam  for a while and it's been pretty tasteless.  Driving home Sunday I spotted a stand selling peaches and we bought a small basket (they were vastly over-priced and the man selling them annoyed me so I won't be buying from him again) of what looked like nectarines but definitely tasted like peaches.  They were quite ripe and I knew I had to get the jam made soon, so while waiting for everyone to show up, I peeled, pitted, cooked, filled jars and I just got it done when both the furniture delivers and the bug man showed up.


The couch was quickly delivered, the house was sprayed (the cat was locked up in the computer room) and we went for a walk to let the stuff sprayed dry up.   We're now camped out with the cat and I still have a million things to do.





Garden Has Turned Into Day Lily Heaven




Part of Our Walk, the Bridge Over the Lagoon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tudor Painting

This is Rosie's Original Photo
 Seems like we've had a busy weekend with a community yardsale that helped move some of our "treasures" to  new homes (the rest will be heading off to Goodwill shortly) and grocery shopping to replenish Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboards.
Mac has also been working on the Tudor painting based on a photo the Rosie let me borrow from her blog Corners of My Mind and I thought I show some of his progress.  He's planning on changing some of the objects at the bottom of the picture to add a little color, but so far I think it's great.















Saturday, May 14, 2011

Manor Houses

Reading Rowan's post about visiting Kentwell Hall for a Tudor Reenactment (do visit her blog  Circle of the Year the pictures are wonderful) reminded me how much I like manor houses.  They're so much more interesting than castles and through the years we've visited a few in England.
My 3 favorites are:
 Baddesley Clinton a moated manor house near Warwick that was built in the late 13th century












Lower Brockhampton another moated manor house, it is near Bromyard and also dates from  the late 14th century.



And Stokesay Castle (it's not, it has crenalation but it's a manor house not a castle) is 13th century and is located near Craven Arms.  It's not moated but wonderful anyway,


We've visited all of these manors numerous times and painted them many times, but my favorite is an oil painting Mac did of Lower Brockhamton.










I've been looking at estate agent pictures from England and I've decided that if we ever win the lottery we're going to but a manor house!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Delicious

Made a wonderful potato salad from a Paula Deen recipe the other day.   For those of you who don't know Paula Deen, she is Savannah's #1 lady, along with her sons she owns The Lady and Sons restaurant in downtown Savannah, she has her own cooking show on Food TV and she has written a load of cookbooks.  If you don't mind fattening,  her recipes are pretty good, as she says she's not your dietician she's a cook.
Anyway, this is the recipe for Red Potatoes and Green Bean Salad.

Ingredients:
3lb.    bag of new red potatoes, quartered    (I used less because there are only the 2 of us)
1 lb           fresh green beans  (again I used less, but they were fresh from the garden as were the potatoes)
1/3 cup     Olive Oil   (I used less because you don't need that much)
2 1/2 Tbs  White Wine Vinegar  (I substituted seasoned rice wine vinegar, it's a little sweeter)
1/4 Tsp     Dijon Mustard
1/4 Tsp     Dill
1/2 Tsp      Salt
1/2 Tsp      Black Pepper


Directions:


In a large saucepan add potatoes to enough water to cover them.  Bring it to a boil and boil for 8 minutes.  Add green beans, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes ( I think I actually cooked it for about 4 more minutes, but check your beans, they need to be cooked, but not overcooked).  Drain and cool slightly

Place potatoes and green beans in a serving bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together the Olive Oil and the other 5 ingredients.  Pour over potatoes and green beans, tossing gently to coat.  Cover and chill.

As I said this was delicious.  We love potato salad and I'm always looking for new takes on it.  I've used several of Paula's recipes and usually like them.  As for her restaurant, it's ok (is that damning with faint praise?).  Whenever people visit us they always want to eat there, so we warn them, take them and they agree, it's "OK".  But there's always lines out in front of it so she must be doing something right.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Even The Squirrel Was Shocked!

It's been very warm, and when it's spring and warm,  a young reptile's thoughts turn to, turn to, turn to, doing things on my garden fence that should not be done!  Even the squirrel who had just finished breakfast at the bird feeder yelled for him to desist.
Though we try to co-exist with nature, realizing we live in a swamp and snakes and other critters call it home, I won't put up with snakes around my garden or pool.  We've tried removing them but they always come back,  so now we remove them with prejudice.  I had visions of dozens of baby snakes hatching out in my garden, that's a thing that nightmares are made of.  Though the Southern Black Racer is not poisonous they do bite, and worse than that,  if I come upon them unexpectedly it scares the bejeezus out of me.
So the snakes, who in the picture resemble a grey/black pole laying along the fence, are gone.  The squirrel and I are both happier.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bounty

Gone all day yesterday so I need to thank my lovely daughter, my cat and my husband for the wonderful Mother's Day gifts.

My daughter gave me a portable stand for my gTablet and 2 Kindle books, and the cat and my husband gave me this sweet rose bush.  I'm a lucky lady.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Artist Has Been Busy

Mac has been on a very reptillian (is there such a word?) and amphibian  roll lately, he's painted a number of frogs and turtles, just because he loves them.  Loves them so much that when he found turtle eggs in the yard last year he rescued them before the raccoons could eat them, and is now the proud papa of a rednecked slider pond turtle and an eastern box turtle.  The frog paintings are of South American Poison Arrow Frogs.  I think the turtle is a box turtle.



Yesterday he sold another painting on etsy and it's a beauty if I do say so myself.


The One He Sold
This weekend while I was reading Rosie's Blog,  Corners of My Mind (great Blog, go visit)  I fell in love with one of the  photos  she had taken at  Haddon Hall during their Tudor Day visit and I asked her permission to have my husband make a painting of it.  She graciously said yes and I can't wait for him to get started, this painting won't be for sale, it's for me!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day when I think about my Mother and my Mother-in-law, both of whom I miss very much.  My Mother has been gone for 18 years and my Mother-in-law for 22.  They were 2 very different ladies.  My Mother Lorraine Kennedy Strader always had an air of sadness about her, whereas my Mother-in-law Pazquela Hernandez Gutierrez was the most cheerful person I've ever known, always with a smile and looking on the bright side of things.
My Mother was born in Oklahoma in 1922 and grew up in abject poverty, living at one time in a cave and the family ate mud for lack of food.  She dropped out of school at 13 because she had no shoes to wear and moved in with an aunt and uncle and babysat their kids.  She also picked cotton as a teenager and said it was the hardest job she ever had.  She married young hoping for a better life, but the marriage ended in divorce and she married my Father in 1944.  He was the love of her life and they were married 36 years.  She never talked about her childhood much, but her brother, my uncle Bill was an author and his last book (left unpublished at the time of his death) was the story of their childhood, my Mother gave me a copy to read and it was bleak to say the least.  I asked her if it true and she said that for the most part it was, it was so sad.
  When I think about her I realize that I didn't know her very well.  I know she loved to read and our house was always full of books, magazines and newspapers, that she loved African Violets and Roses, but I don't know here favorite color or what would make her smile.
  I married at 18 and only saw her infrequently after that because my husband was in the Army and we never lived near home, and she only visited us twice in all the years.  We talked each week on the phone and I would fly to see her whenever we could afford it but that does not make for a very close relationship.    I wish now that we had talked more and shared more, that I'd asked her more questions  so that I could have known her better.
My Mother-in-law Patty was born in Fresno, California in 1913 after her parents had emigrated from Spain.  Her family worked the crops picking whatever was in season, camping wherever they worked.  She always said that was a happy time with much laughter and singing around a campfire.  She too dropped out of school at 13 in order to work more, she said it was the saddest time for her, that she had  loved school and didn't want to quit.  She also married young, at 18, and was married for more than 50 years.  She loved crocheting and making things, quilts, stuffed monkeys, hats, hotpads, her hands were never still.
She taught me to crochet and to cook,  if truth be told.
Wherever we lived,  Germany, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, she came to see us, and with her I spent hours talking and learning about her life.  She was such a good person and I was incredibly lucky to have had her as a Mother-in-law.
So these are the two ladies I honor on Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Yes, We Have No Inflation

Which of course means yes we do .  I don't need a degree in economics to know that the price of everything that matters has gone up, yet our government insists there is very little inflation and that the CPI (Consumer Price Index) reflects this lack of price increase.
Well I got sick of hearing this, and of hearing that that cost of of food and gas were not included in the the CPI because they were too volatile to give a true representation of what was going on.  Of all the things I have to buy food and gasoline are pretty much imperatives.  I decided to check and see what the CPI did measure and I learned that it monitors prices in urban areas only and what they monitor is this:

What goods and services does the CPI cover?
The CPI represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population (U or W) BLS has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. Major groups and examples of categories in each are as follows:
FOOD AND BEVERAGES (breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, chicken, wine, full service meals, snacks)
HOUSING (rent of primary residence, owners' equivalent rent, fuel oil, bedroom furniture)
APPAREL (men's shirts and sweaters, women's dresses, jewelry)
TRANSPORTATION (new vehicles, airline fares, gasoline, motor vehicle insurance)
MEDICAL CARE (prescription drugs and medical supplies, physicians' services, eyeglasses and eye care, hospital services)
RECREATION (televisions, toys, pets and pet products, sports equipment, admissions);
EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION (college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories);
OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES (tobacco and smoking products, haircuts and other personal services, funeral expenses).


What a strange list!  So they do track some food, but I can live without breakfast cereal, milk, wine, full service meals and snacks. What  I need is fresh produce and fruits that have gone up dramatically,  and eggs, flour  and rice all of which cost way more than they use to.  We won't talk about meat.
I love that they're tracking the cost of bedroom furniture, other than our bed we've had the same bedroom furniture since we were married.  It's couches, chairs, and tables I frequently have to replace. 
As to apparel, I own 1 dress and I've had it so long I can't remember when I bought it, but I do buy for my daughter and dress prices have doubled!
All of the transportation costs have gone up dramatically, have you bought an airline ticket lately?
All medical costs are up as is postage, telephone service, all pet items (our cat's food has gone from 28 cents a can to 47 cents), toys , eye glasses, in other words everything!

How can they say there is no inflation?  I can't figure it out.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Button, Button Who's Got the Button?

I know we have no inflation (HA!), but when did buttons, little old plastic buttons get so expensive?  I'm working on a couple of craft projects and I need buttons to complete them.  Now I have a can of buttons that I inherited from my mother-in-law, but they're mostly dark and don't really match what I'm doing so I've ordered some buttons  from Amazon, and they turned out to be very pretty, but mostly too small for what I want to do.  So I ordered from etsy and they're fine, but slow getting here and rather expensive with the shipping thrown in.  Then I went to ebay and ordered some, and they pretty but not cheap.  We're talking plastic here so I don't understand why they cost so much.
It use to be that when clothes got old you cut the buttons off before throwing the clothing away.  Well I don't throw clothes away unless I've destroyed them, I donate to Goodwill instead.  So I need to find a cheap source of buttons.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cottage!

We got our cottage!  It's a lovely little place on the Coln River and it's named Mayfly Cottage.   We're so pleased, it's a beautiful place, just right for 2.  It's too early to start counting days, but planning has begun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just a Few Words on the Subject

I do not rejoice in the death of others, but in this case I will say that I feel that justice has been served.

On the Road Again

Sitting by the computers last Friday Mac turned to me and said,"Would you like to go to England for our anniversary this year?  We can get a really good deal on first class."  After I picked myself up from the floor,  I said of course I want to go and I'd love to go first class, we usually go cattle class.
We had planned on going to England or Spain next year but hadn't planned any big trips for this year.  But England is hosting the Olympics next summer and Mac, who is a Spaniard, said he didn't know if he could put up with the Spaniards, so England this year won over England next year, although knowing us we'll probably end up there again next year too.
So I've spent the weekend glued to the computer screen (oh my poor eyes) looking for a cottage.  Many of them are already booked up for when we want to go and the areas we're interested in are very popular--Gloustershire, Wiltshire or Somerset, so the search has not been easy.
We have a call and an e-mail into the firm we booked with last year and hope to hear from them soon.  I've narrowed the search down to 2 cottages and either one would be great.  So fingers crossed.

Tuesday in the Swamp

The house is once again filled with the smell of Gingerbread, I baked a load of little men, even wore my Gingerbread Apron, but I'm too ...