Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Bird in the Bush

Kate came up for her visit last week. She brought her Bread Machine with her and her recipe for Green Chili & Cheese Yeasted Corn Bread. Oh my goodness, if you have never tried this bread, you don't know what you are missing. She also made us Beef Enchiladas to go with the bread. Yum! I LOVE Kate's Enchiladas. And her Green Chili Cheese Bread.

We made a batch of Brioche Dough as well. With it we made a Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Sticky Buns and a savory cheese roll. The consensus was that the Rolls and Sticky Buns were great, but we didn't like the Cheese Rolls and wouldn't make them again. Of course, that could have been because I decided to put garlic in them and used 3 crushed cloves. Hey, on the bright side, it kept vampires away!

Kate left on Thursday morning to go back down Island to Sidney to go to work. The rain started in earnest the night before and didn't let up for 2 days. I swear we got at least 4 inches of it. That's ok, it could have been that cold, white stuff they were getting back east.

When I got groceries last week, we picked up our seed blocks for the wild birds. Richard put one in the hanger in the Cherry tree outside the laundry room window. I love to watch the birds come and enjoy it. There is a hierarchy to who eats when that I noticed this last year when we hung up the feeder. There are many different types of birds that come to peck at the seed, nut and fruit laden suet block. Some are really tiny, like the little Chestnut Backed Chickadee - some really big like the Red Shafted Flicker that is about a foot in length.

Talk about a pecking order! The Red Shafted Flicker is intimidated by no one. I like to call him the Professor, as he looks as if he is wearing a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the sleeves, a speckled vest with a black V-neck and glasses. When he arrives, the others leave so he can get some seeds.

Then there is the Starlings, or Bully Boys as I refer to them. Four or five will show up at a time, chasing off any other bird that is at the feeder, hogging it for an hour, squawking and squabbling and making a nuisance of themselves. That is, until the Professor arrives. He is the only one that can intimidate them without even trying. Even the Stellar Jays, which are larger than the Starlings, make way for the Bully Boys.

The little Chickadees are generous and share the feeder with the Towhees and the Fox Sparrows. And the small Downy Woodpecker nervously eats, bobbing up and down to check for the larger birds. We also have the Hairy Woodpecker coming to the feeder, much to my delight. Even ground feeders like the Juncos benefit from the feeder, picking at the seeds that drop to the ground beneath the tree it sits in.

But I've watched them enough and now it is time to make some more bread...Brioche of course. My favorite. Bente phoned to say she was bringing me out my Vanilla Bean order. I found a Canadian Supplier on the Internet and ordered a pound of Vanilla Beans. The savings is amazing. I have them delivered to her house in town because most delivery people can't find our house in the country. I plan to make lots of
things with Vanilla for Christmas gifts. Oh and of course I will make homemade Vanilla Extract. Once you make your own, you will never buy from the store again, believe me.

While I wait, I decide to take the dogs out into the garden yard. I bundle up - toque, mitts, jacket, pants tucked into socks - no, it's not THAT cold but it is damp. The dogs race out into the yard.

Mow pepo!
Ovah heah, unner dis plant ting.

Trying to keep my eyes on all the dogs at once is difficult. I wander about, deactivating doggy mines, checking the Sweet Peas in the garden boat to see if they have been touched by frost at all...they haven't. I am waiting to see how long they last. So far, so good.

Time to go back inside. I holler for the dogs and move towards the deck. I've got five of them, but Molly is missing.



"Come on Molly, time to go in."

I busy. I huntin' mow pepo. Dey rite heah, unner plant ting.


ok, ok, i comin'

That will teach me not to pay attention. She got under my plant bench, beneath the rambling rose-entwined apple tree and started digging in the mud. Her paws were so caked with it, that I had to dig it out of her pads, all the while berating her for being so bad. Bichons. Honestly, what a little digger she is, and who knows what she was looking for.

Mow pepo, mom, I to'd you, mow pepo unner der.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's Just Peanuts

I am awake early again today. Still a bit rocky from the lung infection. Still moving kind of slow, but determined to get over it once and for all. The antibiotic is all finished up. Hope to see the doctor on Thursday this week if Richard has the day off. You see, Richard got a full time job at Walmart! Hooray! He has worked hard and is always willing to go in early or whenever they need him, so he deserves it. Nice to have a bit of job security. And he enjoys the job.

He leaves for work at 9:30am and I sit on the bed, watching the news and deciding what to do with my day. Make peanut butter. Periodically the local library clears out old books and last summer I found a Food Processor cookbook for a whopping 50 cents. A couple of Christmases ago, I used a gift card and bought myself a 500 watt Black and Decker food processor. I used it a few times, once to make some wonderful Latte Shortbread, once to make a disastrous loaf of bread. I've made pastry in it - with mixed results. But since finding this book, I have wanted to try several things in it.

Today is peanut butter day. I bought some salted peanuts a few weeks ago, before I got sick, and pulled them and the recipe out. Two cups of peanuts; process 5 to 6 minutes; store in fridge. That simple. There is also a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies I want to try, using a cup of salted peanuts, but don't know if I will do that today. It DOES appeal to me though.

After the peanut butter, I decided on making some Brioche in the Bread Maker. Yes, I do have a Food Processor Brioche recipe to try, but wanted to get the dough going in the bread maker so I could make Richard some Whole Wheat dough in the food processor. This time I used the chopping blade to mix the dough rather than the plastic dough blade, which is absolutely useless. The dough turned out good, mixed up in about a minute, then hand kneaded, or as they refer to it in the book "toss or turn it over 9 to 10 times". Now it's rising on the table, so he will have fresh bread for dinner too.

The Brioche dough finishes its first rise in the bread maker. I decide to make one loaf of bread with half of it and put the other half in the fridge for tomorrow, then make some sweet rolls with it.

The Brioche bread and Richards whole wheat turn out really good. If I sound amazed, it is only because I wasn't sure about the whole wheat made in the food processor. I have had a bad experience making bread in it before, but I guess I have it figured out. Anyway, he enjoys it. And I LOVE my Brioche. That is the most versatile dough. Maybe I will just keep experimenting with it to see what I can make, then write a 1001 Things To Make With Brioche Dough cookbook, grin.

After dinner, which I admit I did not cook - Richard brought home burgers as I wasn't up to much by then - I made some more of the Cheesecake filling in the food processor. Gosh but I think I am addicted to it.

Kate phones late in the evening to say she has decided to come up for a visit. Hooray! Can't wait to see her. She will leave after work on Monday and be here for dinner. We are going to have a Bread Machine Bake Off, as she is bringing her bread maker. What fun.

We take the dogs out for one last go at the garden yard, but Mason refuses to leave the deck. Earlier in the evening he had really been barking at something he saw in the driveway through his patio door. The girls went crazy, running back and forth to the door, sniffing at it as if something or someone was there. I locked them up and checked, but found nothing. Maybe whatever it was spooked him. Maybe that's why he wouldn't go into the yard.

Or, maybe he just didn't have to pee.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Takes the Cake

Siiiiggghh. Well, finally I think I am on the mend, hack, cough. Sure am tired of this bug and glad I have fought it to a standstill - I hope. I have been sick for two weeks, and it will take me at least that to get completely over it. Will check with the doctor the middle of next week.

I am actually going out of the house today, to get a few groceries. Only as far as Walmart because I think that is all I can handle after my two week incarceration. Got some recipes I want to try so need some ingredients for them and some food to eat too, oh and dog food, wild bird food. And liquid lecithin. I found a recipe for making Vanilla Extract without alcohol, I want to try it and it calls for liquid lecithin.

At Walmart, Richard goes to the Tire and Lube shop where he works while I begin shopping, using a
store supplied electric cart to wander around the store with. I stopped taking my arthritis medication while I was on my antibiotics, and believe me when I tell you, I am suffering for it. Just as I go down the baking aisle, Richard comes back and tells me they need him to come in to work early by 2pm, not 4pm as he originally was scheduled so we hurry with our purchases.

Back home we have a quick lunch and then Richard goes off to work while I put groceries away. The dogs are nattering to go outside. I comply. As I wander around the garden boat slowly and very carefully, ever mindful of hidden doggy mines, I try to decide what to plant there next year. Definitely Sweet Peas and Petunias. Here it is the 14th of November and both those flowers are still looking really good. Neither were touched by the frosty nights we had in October - in fact if we had sunshine, both would bloom. For sure will plant more Calendula, that is one of my favorite flowering herbs. Oh and Marigolds, they did so well last summer in the mass planting. Geraniums. Bright Red ones for the bow of the boat, like before.

I have lots of herbs growing in there, and doing quite well for the most part. My Lemon Thyme is lovely, as is my Pineapple Sage. Chives are doing ok. Purple Sage, ditto. Yarrow is tall and graceful. Apple Mint in a pot looks great.

But what about vegetables? I think some beans, perhaps Pole Beans as they grow upright and you can get more of them in a small space. I want to try peas again, and still have the chicken wire in place for them to grow up. I also have some grains, spelt and rye, and I could plant them in the gunwales of the boat. I don't want to plant a lot, just enough to see how they do and how much grain it will produce. Spelt on the port side, rye on the starboard side, that would work.

Tomatoes are going into the other large container, my 300 gallon stock tank. Will plant Black Prince, Yellow Mortgage Lifter, Brown Berry, Tumbling Tom and Bull's Heart for sure. I will plant more Marigolds along side them, maybe some onions, and for sure some chives. Maybe transplant my garlic chives in there. Hmmmmm, what else?

I got an e-mailed newsletter today from West Coast Seeds. They are on the mainland and their products are specific to our Island environment. The newsletter is about Blue Orchard Mason Bees, something that Richard and I have talked about getting for a few years now. These are hardy little bees that live to pollinate. They don't appear to be affected by the diseases the Honey Bees have been dying off from. They thrive in cooler weather, and, "a single female Mason Bee will visit 2000 blossoms a day." Wow, what more can you ask for from a bee? I think we should order some, and a starter cottage to keep them in. Think of the flowers and plants we could have!

The dogs are done snuffling and sniffing the yard, and we go back indoors. I have a recipe I found in an old Taste of Home Magazine Kate brought up to me. It is called "Cheesecake Waffle Cups" - I LOVE Cheesecake - and it is quick and easy. I bought the waffle bowls at Walmart today, and have the other ingredients on hand. Here is the recipe as written. Then I put my comments and how I would do it next time.

Cheesecake Waffle Cups
1 - 8oz package softened cream cheese
1 - 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract
4 Waffle Bowls
1 cup cherry pie filling

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Spoon about 1/3 cup into each waffle bowl; top with 2 tablespoons pie filling. Repeat layers. Yields 4.

First off, I used my food processor so it took me less than 2 minutes to mix this up. Just pulsed the cream cheese til smooth, about 30 seconds; added sweetened condensed milk in 4 lots, pulsed 3 to 4 seconds after each time; poured in lemon juice and vanilla, pulsed 3 or 4 times. That's it. Done.

Next time, I will use juice of a real lemon and the zest. Or maybe a lime in place of the lemon. Maybe an orange. NO CHERRY PIE FILLING! It makes it waaaaaay too sweet and overwhelms the flavor of the cheesecake. Just fill the little waffle bowl - or a waffle cone, that would be cool - and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Top the whipped cream with some zest. Keep it really simple. It tastes scrumptious, or as Bente would say - after she first calls me a BITZ for making it, grin - scrumlicious!

For those who are watching what you eat, substitute light cream cheese and top with Cool Whip. It won't be very caloric that way, but still quite tasty.

I give this recipe 4 stars out of 5. It is so quick, so easy, so tasty. Yes, I do prefer baked cheesecake, but that takes hours, and this takes no time at all. Can't wait for Richard to come home and try it. What's that you say? What about Bente? Well, um, she's not eating sweets right now, trying to watch what she eats, so, um, I probably won't tell her about this, right away. Will wait a few days and then casually mention it.

I text messaged Kate and told her what I had made.

She text messaged me back a one word response.


Hmmmmm, you think she's trying to tell me something?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birds of a Feather

Yup, I am still sick, although I think the antibiotic is finally starting to work. I didn't try to cough up a lung this morning like a 4 pak a day smoker. Which I am not...not a smoker at all. Nope, not one habit I ever had. I'm still tired, still weak, still whiney, still bored. Siiiiggghh.

Mid-morning, Richard is getting ready for work, and the dogs suddenly start barking and hooting in the living room. I, of course, ignore them. Richard goes to see what they are carrying on about, and quickly comes into the bedroom to tell me what is happening.

"There is a Cock Pheasant and at least 4 Hen Pheasants in the driveway!" he exclaims. "Quick, come and look." Then he darts back out to the living room again.

I hobble out to the kitchen, looking through the windows, and finally spot two hen pheasants under the Birch tree outside the garden yard. They are eating seeds and pecking up gravel for their crops. Silently edging out the kitchen door, I move to the gate and spot the Cock Pheasant and another hen moving up from the old garden towards the apple tree on the driveway. Of course the sharp-eyed guy sees me and bolts into the field towards the creek. The hens are oblivious, continuing to feed.

Now you may ask yourself, why all the fuss about pheasants. Well, it's this way. It's been several years since we have had them in the yard. At one time, after we first moved here, we had dozens of pheasants. One winter, we saw a Cock Pheasant and his harem of 13 hens in the yard, and could hear many others calling from different areas of the farm. We had cats at the time, one in particular was a great pheasant hunter, and had a real taste for them. She kept the population balanced for us. Then, after all the cats had gone to the great catnip patch in the sky, the population bottomed out. Now it, and the Blue Grouse population, appears to be returning. Hence our excitement.

Too much excitement for a sick person, back to bed.

Last night before settling down for my sleep, I put the dry ingredients for Brioche into a bag so I could make some dough after Richard went to work today at noon. Of course, after taking my medication this morning, I got sleepy and slept for a while, but mid afternoon I finally got around to making my Brioche dough. The recipe measures everything by volume...everything that is except the butter and that it measured by weight, or so I thought.

Note to self: if most of the recipe is measured by volume, assume that ALL the recipe should be measured by volume.

The recipe calls for 5 ounces of butter, while the rest of the recipe is measured in cups, tablespoons or teaspoons. Being a literalist, I took the 5 ounces to be a weight, not a measurement and weighed it out on my kitchen scale. Believe me, 5 ounces weighed is considerably more than 5 ounces measured. No, really.

After adjusting my dough by adding 1/3 cup more flour to the pan, the dough mixes up beautifully. I text Kate and tell her what I did. She texts back with "Oooops. Well, tell Richard it is supposed to be that way. It's a French dough. French Doughs are supposed to have lots of butter in them!"

I made two loaves of bread and some sweet rolls. I have several cans of Peach Pie Filling in the cupboard, thanks to a recent sale at Extra Foods. Now, Peach Pie filling is kind of insipid, but with the right additions, it can be quite tasty. I however, was still tired - second note to self: DON'T MAKE BREAD WHEN YOU ARE SICK AND TIRED - and only added cinnamon and dried cranberrys. Next time, lemon juice and lemon zest for more zip. The bread of course, is great. The sweet rolls, despite my just kind of slapping them in the pan...see note about sick and tired above...turned out good. When I do it again, and I will, I will puree the pie filling, add the lemon juice and lemon zest as well as the cranberries, mix together and spread on the cinnamon-sprinkled rolled out dough.

Oh and rather than purchase Peach pie filling in the future, which has a regular price of almost $4.00 a can, although I paid $1.50 each, I will buy canned peaches, add lemon juice and zest and thicken the lot with cornstarch. At a cost of almost $3.00 less.

The dogs are nattering to go outside, so after the bread comes out of the oven, I don my coat, toque and mitts, and take them into the garden yard. Today is my day for birds. Overhead a large Bald Eagle floats on the air currents above us hunting rodents. Behind me in the Holly trees I hear the raucous cry of a Stellar Jay and from the creek comes the teasing laughter of my Muttering Murder of Crows. In the distance to the North of us, over the middle field where the creek flooded two days ago in the downpour of rain, a flock of Western Gulls circles, looking for unfortunate fish left behind when the waters receded.

Time to go back indoors and rest some more, I am worn out. Going to be a while before I am well again that is for sure. And time for more drugs to combat the infection. Time to lay down again. And doze.

Then the dogs remind me they haven't eaten yet, so first, I feed them, then lay down.

And doze.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bunnys and Bichons

I'm still sick with this dumb lung infection, not having a good time. I hate being idle like this but don't feel well enough to do anything. I'm bored. I mean really, you can only watch or listen to so much TV before that pales. Talking makes me cough, and coughing has made my sternum sore, so the phone is out. I have no books to read, none in at the library yet. I still haven't got the computer in the bedroom connected again after re-arranging the room, and I don't feel up to sitting at the living room computer, whine, snivel, bitch. Siiiiggghh.

So I decided, since the laptop hasn't been in working condition for a year, that maybe it was time to format it and start fresh. Why do I wait until I am sick to decide to do this? Yes, that is a rhetorical question.

I searched the living room, 3 times, for my Windows XP upgrade CD. No luck. Well, I AM sick after all. I had it back in the beginning of September using it to format a hard drive I had. I put it away, where I always do and it vanished. No, really, it did. So I searched all the usual and unusual places. No luck. Yesterday I sat down and thought about it and remembered that for some reason I copied all the files from my CD to my hard drive on the desktop in the living room. OHTHANKYOUDEARSWEETBABYJESUS for making me do that! I was able to burn a new Windows XP CD.

Bear in mind I am sick and shouldn't be attempting to do something like this when I am sick, but like I said, I AM BORED. And I like the idea of sitting on the bed and using the laptop to surf the net if I am up to it. I mean really, how many times can you stand to watch reruns of Holmes on Homes or CSI: Miami? Or re-watch the news on CTV Newsnet as it recycles every 20 minutes?

This laptop doesn't have a floppy drive but after I repaired Vicki's computer in August, she gave me an external USB floppy she had. I managed to get the laptop fdisked, then started to format it. 20 minutes into formatting - it's only a 40gig drive - I glance at the screen and see "trying to recover sector 17398". Uh oh. Hmmmmmm. My eyes go slitty and I make a super triple scrunchy face. That's not good! Then I walk out of the room. I'll come back in an hour and see if it formatted...or not. Meanwhile, I use the living room computer to look for the price of a new hard drive for a laptop.

The prices are outrageous! Who are they trying to kid, charging more for a 40gig drive than a 500gig drive! This laptop is old, that is, it was built 6 years ago and doesn't have the up-to-date technology available now in the new laptops. But, it still is worth spending a little money on, because the rest of it still works, despite being dropped on it's head out of the back of a moving vehicle several years ago...but that's another story. Anyway, I don't mind spending $50.00 for a hard drive but not upwards of $100.00.

Back at the laptop, the formatting is finally done and it reports over 2 gigabytes in bad sectors. Oh well. So, I hunt up my Windows ME CD and get started installing and operating system. Because my XP is an upgrade, you must first install a full version of an operating system then install the upgrade from within Windows. Yes, that is a pain in the butt. I have been at this for 2 hours and this is as far as I have gotten. However, I AM a certified computer technician and I do have the patience and knowledge to keep going. Besides, like I said before, I AM BORED.

An hour later, Millennium is installed and working. Next I start on XP. That too takes an hour, so, not counting my time searching for the aforementioned still-missing original XP CD, this has so far taken 4 hours. During this time I have spent on hour in the living room and 3 on my bed, resting, hoping the computer will work when all this is done.

I guess I dozed off, because suddenly I am startled awake by that annoying music Windows XP plays when it loads the Windows Desktop...playing as loud as it can possibly play on the internal speakers of the laptop. Well, I guess it's working then. First order of business, TURN OFF THOSE SPEAKERS SO WE DON'T HAVE TO HEAR THAT MUSIC! Next, download and install AVG Antivirus. Then Windows tells me it has downloaded updates and wants me to install them. Of course, I comply, security is important in computing.

Now it has been 6 hours, I am a bit...ok, a lot tired, but determined to see this through to the end. I eat a bowl of soup - gak, real tired of soup - and get back at it. I download some basic programs, free ones of course. First Picassa so I have a rudimentary photo editing and organizing program. Then Windows Live Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer, and Messenger. If you haven't tried Live Mail yet, you should give it a try. It is much better than that irritating Outlook Express. For a Word Processor, I hunt up Open Office, from Sun Microsystems. It's similar to Microsoft Office, but is free, and that's a bonus. And finally, download and install Flock as my browser so I don't have to use Internet Explorer which irritates me more than I can say.

And 8 hours have gone by. Oh sure, I took breaks while the laptop did it's work, but it has been a really long day, and a job that would have been better to wait to do, is finally done. At least as much as I am doing today. Time to take the dogs outside.

It's dark and wet, but the deluge has stopped for a while as I get ready to let the dogs go into the garden yard. Soon, they are all at the gate impatiently waiting. As I start to open the gate, my eye is drawn to movement in the yard. Uh oh. Cute Little Island Bush Bunny, just a short 15 feet away. But the gate is in motion, as are the dogs, and I can't stop the action. Bunny runs. Dogs dash. Bunny heads for the garden boat. Silly bunny. Leading the pack is Rosie...where did she come from, she is usually the last one out. Run bunny, run! Bunny is not too smart, mustn't be used to being chased, runs around behind the boat, 6 Bichons hot on it's cute little cotton tail. Bunny zigs. Dogs zag. As they round the curve by the boat, bunny goes into the home stretch and dashes through the fence, finally. Bunny wins by a whisker! Now dogs quarter the yard, sniffing wonderful bunny scents and searching out more bunnies. Rosie, Mason & Pippi walk the fence, sticking their noses through the wire to sniff the breeze and watch for more wild animals. Wow, too much excitement for this time of night.

I finally convince them to come back indoors, that the bunny is not coming back. I'm tired, but they are psyched and it takes a while for them to settle down. Time for my medicine and bed. Tomorrow is another day.

Nurse Pippi takes up her position outside the puppy gate to my room, just in case I need help in the night.

Just in case a wild bunny breaks in and attacks.

Well, she says it could happen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Can You Say "Lung In-fec-shun?"

I dragged myself out of bed yesterday - which was Wedneday - and went to the doctor. He took one look at me and said "when is your knee surgery scheduled for?"

I croaked a reply: "two weeks," I said.

"No," he answered back, "you have to phone and postpone it, you will NOT be well enough to have surgery in two weeks." Then he narrowed his eyes and said "you've been waiting a long time for this new knee. Almost as long as I have known you. Too bad."

"Yes," I replied, "three years the end of February since I had the first one done."

AAAARRRGGH! !@#$%^&*

Diagnosis: lung infection, or as most people refer to it, a chest infection. He sent me home with a prescription for Amoxicillin 500mg - huge pills - take every 8 hours and instructions to come back in 14 days.

Back to bed. Sniffle, cough, hack, wheeze, whine and feel sorry for myself. The Booking Nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox took my news in stride. "Well, you are looking at after the New Year now, probably into February. We'll call you."

Here's the thing: I refuse to get all upset about it. What good does it do and it doesn't change anything. I believe things happen for a reason, although God only knows what the reason is for me getting sick at this time. Oh well.

On the bright side, once I am well enough, I will be able to do Christmas Baking and make Christmas gifts from the kitchen as I like to do. That was off my list due to my upcoming surgery. We don't have to worry about driving through a snow storm to the hospital up in Comox at 4am like we did last time I had surgery there. Still, it WOULD have been great for it to be all over with finally, sigh.

The dogs are ambivalent. Dad lets them do whatever they want to when mom isn't home. Now they will have to behave more. They do however really miss me when I am gone. Heck, you only have to leave the house for 5 minutes and they act as though it was 5 years when you come back.

I have still been taking them out into the garden yard during the day and just before bed time at night. The cool moist air feels good to breathe for me. The dogs, surprisingly, don't mind the wet grass, and especially like going out into the yard when it is dark and spooky.

We have a string of clear Christmas lights running down the one side of the fence to the boat and a yard light that shines down upon the yard from behind the house so it is lit up quite well. Unfortunately they choose that time usually to plant doggy mines all over the yard, and it is incumbent upon me to try to pay attention and remember approximately where they are planted so I can drag myself outdoors the next day and deactivate them.

The photo's above show the difficulty in that. No, I didn't photograph the doggy mines, that would be, well, disgusting. What's that you say? Then why did I add photo's of Bear Poop? Well, that's different. No, Really.

Where was I...oh yes, photo's. You can see my difficulty in trying to find doggy mines and not step in them. The leaves fall off the trees, turn brownish, curl up...need I say more? Yes, they do look a lot like doggy mines. Why don't I rake up the leaves? You're kidding, right?

Back to the photo's. The one of the water in a shallow pond in the field is for illustrative purposes. When the water appears in the pond, that means the well is nearly full! Hooray, no more hauling water, taking laundry out to the laundromat to wash, or eating from paper plates and plastic utensils!

And the other photos are to show that as of November 6, 2008 my Calendulas are still blooming, the leaves on my pot of Hydrangea are turning color, the Holly berries are ripe and the Zonal Geraniums at the front of the house are still very much alive and blooming.

Time to go and lay down again. Have to take antibiotics at 5pm and feel quite sleepy now. Hope to be a bit better tomorrow. Oh, and I have to say how happy I am that Barack Obama will be the new President of the United States of America. He is a good man, and will be good for the US, Canada and the World.

God Bless America.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Can You Say in-floo-en-zah?

It's Saturday morning and I have awakened early...and with the flu. Aaaaggghh! Sore throat, stuffy nose, head hurts, body hurts, whine, snivel, moan, hack, hack. Yes, I AM feeling sorry for

I'd like to crawl back into bed and stay there, but that would be giving in, and I REFUSE to give in. Oh, and I don't like where we moved my bed to in the room. Even though Richard propped the head of the bed up so it is now level, my mind says it isn't. I ask him and he agrees to move it after work today. Sigh, boy do I appreciate that.

After he leaves I decide I am not up to my usual oatmeal porridge for breakfast, instead opening a can of No Name Brand Chicken Vegetable soup. I manage to get a cup of it down, picking out all the pieces of chicken because they are sooooooooo tough and feeding them to the kids. They think I am wonderful for sharing my soup with them.

I still want to make Brioche, even if I am sick. My mind can picture toasted pieces of Brioche bread slathered in peanut butter and a bit of honey. It takes me a while to get the energy up, but finally I search Google for an easy Brioche recipe, settling on one that looks just right. I guess you would call this one "Poor Man's Brioche" as it doesn't have all the butter and eggs you would normally find in a Rich Brioche. I have a whole computer folder full of Brioche recipes, Brioche being an obsession of mine, but just don't feel like thumbing through and looking for just the right recipe...hence the Google search.

Soon the dough is formed, in pans and on it's second rise on the table. As a special treat, I added the zest of a lemon to the wet ingredients. Now to make dinner for when Richard comes home. After all, if I am going to put him through the torture of rearranging the bedroom - AGAIN - the least I can do is feed him properly.

Early in the day while scrounging in the freezer for something to cook, I stumbled upon a couple of packages of frozen Tex/Mex sliced chicken breasts, designed to use in Fajitas. I decided on rice, chicken and veggies for supper, that appealed to me and was quick and easy as I already had cooked rice in the fridge. It and the chicken could be warmed in the microwave and I would cook some frozen veggies on the stove. What could be simpler.

My bread baked up beautifully. In fact, I could have divided it into 3 pans it had that much oven spring. Next time maybe a loaf of bread and the rest as filled rolls. I keep saying that and not doing it and the peach pie filling still sits in the cupboard.

Richard comes home for dinner, and I open the now thawed package of Tex/Mex chicken. Hmmmmm, smells rather spicy. Gee, Linda, do you think the words Tex/Mex should have been a clue? Don't pick on me, I have the flu! I quickly mix up some Apricot Mustard for the table, warning Richard that I might have screwed up and the chicken might be a little hot. He just shrugs his shoulders and fills his plate.

First bite. "Ahem," he clears his throat, "you are right, it IS a bit spicy" he comments "kind of clears the old sinuses." "Use the Apricot Mustard, it's sweetness will fool you into thinking it isn't so spicy" I reply. Note to self: for future reference, when TEX/MEX is written on food, it's code for hot and spicy!
It couldn't have been too spicy for him though, he went back for a second helping. Maybe he was just hungry.

Moving the furniture in the bedroom goes smoothly. Every thing just moves 90 degrees to the left. The only problem comes when we go to reconnect the TV and discover that the cable is too short and won't reach where I want the TV placed. I make a little scrunchy face, then go and search for more cable and a connector.

Cable was found right away, but all those connectors I purchased in the summer, when we switched TV's around all over the house, are MIA. Big Scrunchy Face. I know there are at least two of them left...somewhere. I search all the logical places, twice. Then Richard re-searches where I have been. No luck. I am beginning to panic now. It's not that I watch a lot of TV, but I have shows I like to watch and I am a news junkie - maybe you noticed. I have to know what is going on in my world, when to duck and cover.

Richard goes upstairs and rummages around. Can't find one. He suggests removing the one between two pieces of cable that connect the little TV in the kitchen. More scrunchy faces and a bit of fretting. Well, I DO have the flu and I AM feeling crappy after all, I am entitled to fretting.

We decide to search in illogical places, but have no luck. Just as I give up and say ok to removing the one for the kitchen TV, he has an AH HA moment, and scoots out to the back porch, rummaging in his stuff. Several minutes later, he returns with a 3 way splitter. It's a bit of over-kill but I don't care, as long as my TV works. And it does. I can stop fretting now, and relax.

At bedtime I make myself two slices of Brioche Toast. I have the setting on the toaster the same as I always have it. Note to self: Brioche bread will toast waaaaaaaaaay faster than regular bread due to the high butter/sugar/egg content. Lower setting considerably before toasting Brioche again.

It was a close one, but I did manage to save the toast.

I like my toast dark anyway.

And the peanut butter and honey masked that slightly singed flavor.

Really, it did.