Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ash Can Potatoes

Ash can potatoes.
We've been staying warm by the fire,
trying to keep down the heating bills by using our wood burner.
 Every so often my husband empties out the ashes 
into a trash container used specifically for this purpose.
We then set the container on the concrete courtyard 
until we need to empty out the ashes again.

You'll see there are still some very hot coals in here too.
It was nearing lunch time so I thought why not take advantage
of these coals to cook our potatoes 
rather than preheating the oven for 10 minutes or so
plus bake time for the taters.

I washed the potatoes and double wrapped them in foil.

Set them in the can and covered them with some of the coals.
Then I  put the lid on the container and pulled up the handle.
 I turned them after a half hour, making sure to stir the coals.

When I tested them, they were done.

We ended up with plenty of potatoes for lunch,
tender and hot enough to melt some delicious butter.  
I avoided using the oven and it was little to no work at all.
Good eats!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


 Speaking with my farmgirl friends reminded me that I'm
supposed to be practicing the old ways, 
even in winter when there isn't much
gardening or canning to do.

So what did people do in the winter months
besides constantly trying to keep warm and survive?
Spinning, mending, needlework and also music.
That brings me to my dulcimer, something that I haven't picked up in forever!
So don't expect much!

It's an instrument that anyone can learn to play,
at least enough to plunk around and make a tune or two,
even if it is not perfect. 
You can become very experienced at it 
learning how to finger pick and play in groups.

It's probably not completely in tune
and I surely am out of practice; however, 
for me, it's just fun.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


My amaryllis bloomed!
Actually, it's my Mom's flower that she left here
Christmas 2012 since it hadn't bloomed in time.
She spends Christmas here so it made sense to leave it here
for her next visit.

I had cut off the stalk and stored it downstairs in the basement.  
When I checked on it this year, it had started to grow.
  Then up to the kitchen window it went.

Unfortunately it didn't opened in time this year either.
I will need to adjust how soon I prepare it for blooming.

The stalk grew and grew with a little bud starting on one side.

It slowly began to create the flower head and separate.

Making progress.

Looking good.

Oh my, look at this.

One of the four sides is all the way open.

What a great bloom!

It's a pretty amazing flower.

Another side bloom is starting.
I don't know if it will open this year but I 
understand, like any bulb, they begin to multiply.
Maybe this is the baby stalk.

 Here is a link to caring for your amaryllis bulb.
 By the sound of it, it's likes that we keep it cool indoors.
It's sitting where it gets nice diffused light through the blinds.
The instructions says I should move it over to a sunny location soon
to encourage leaf growth. I can keep it blooming until August.

Once the flowers have faded I'll cut the stalk down, 
making sure to not injure the leaves or stalks,
and store it in the basement once again
until next year so it can start growing all over again.

 What a great flower!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What a Deal!

I love those after Christmas deals!
I stopped at a small, higher end home decor store this week where they 
had a sale on all Christmas merchandise and couldn't believe
the bargain on these pretty glass plates.
I don't think these limit us to Christmas at all.

The larger one started out at $20
(really, I checked on line too)
and was marked down to $ 2.00.
I picked up two of them.

They also had a smaller 6 x 6 version for $2 that was originally $15.

 How could I pass this up?

 Around here I could use them during any season.
Their website has images of coordinating items
in addition to many other designs.

  I also picked up a couple of ornaments for $0.50
some of which were up to $ 6-7 each originally.
I also purchased items for fifty cents each that
had been $17 and $18 each that I may use as gifts next year
for co-workers.  Down to Fifty Cents!

Can't beat a deal like that!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Now the Flooding?

It stopped snowing !!!
We're not out of the woods yet-  
after 12 inches of snow over a couple of days
the temperatures are soaring to almost 50 today
with heavy rains which leads to -- The Melt.
They are already warning of street flooding in town,
especially as the plows have pushed the snow against
storm drains which are now completely blocked.
Let's see what our creeks do.

This is the view over the ridge.
It's pretty when it snows but still, 
sunny and 75 is better!

I wasn't the only one that ventured out.
The street, which is still snow packed, had a lone
set of people tracks.  Must have been a pretty dedicated
walker because they disappeared up the street
way up the street.

These animal tracks are in the yard and based on the 
claw marks, I think they are from the cats.
They should be pretty happy if the rains wash away the snow.
I'll be happy to get the deck clear, I've had to put on boots
to get to the feeders and the snow is deeper than my boots!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Enough Already, Old Man Winter!

Enough already, Old Man Winter!
I can't believe I'm saying this; however,
I want to get back to the office!

Just when I thought we were back on track, more snow today. 
Hardly any but on top of our 10 inches plus almost record breaking lows
 (down to negative 20 degrees F),
just when the major roads cleared,
this dusting is turning slick immediately
and freezing rain on the way this afternoon!

Our offices actually closed on Monday,
almost unheard of, but  those of us with laptops
 continue to work from home- part of our-business continuity plan.
I was ready to go in on Tuesday but with negative temperatures 
my Jeep, which is 15 yrs old and has 250k miles, wouldn't warm up.
Since I'm an hour (on a good day) from work, I would either frost up
or the car may stall in the middle of nowhere.
I was going to work from home, but that didn't pan out.
There was a power outage.

 We lost power for only a bit but our
internet provider (and several towns) lost power for a day.
They had to declare an emergency to bring in heavy 
equipment to clear enough snow to make repairs.

It's amazing how dependent we are on the internet.
I couldn't log on and change my out of office status from home 
since we had no internet.  I could only change my voice mail. 
I did call the people I normally work with but others did not 
receive a reply to their emails to me. 
Had anyone called, they would have heard my voice message.

I made it into the office yesterday and it was SO NICE
to have my desk, my large monitor, my copier and scanner.
Boy, what a day catching up too.
Now, I'm back working from home today.
If we get any ice on our still snow packed back roads,
they will turn into a skating rink.
They are reporting accidents all over the area,
especially calling out the one where I would have to drive.

In the meantime, we're making sure everyone has full bellies.
The pileated woodpeckers (male and female) 
are enjoying the suet, birds are eating both seed and
left over cat food on the porch.  Tom is throwing out food
for Jake, the wild turkey, and scraps are tossed over the 
deck for the opossum and raccoon.

There was a coyote running across the deer trail out back,
stopping to take a smell at our place! Then it continued on

We're supposed to get real rain tomorrow with higher temperatures
so hopefully it will wash away some of these snow piles.
Our school districts have been closed
(which means parents are home too!)
water main breaks everywhere,  pipes in homes are bursting,
 and power outages. 

I can't wait for Spring!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wickedly Red Quilt Update

Scary movies, well. . .  scare me. 
So I don't watch them anymore.
Salem's Lot was a Stephen King novel made into a TV movie in the late 70s
 about a town where people are turning into vampires.
This is the scariest Nosferatu looking vampire you'll see.  
When my daughter was young she literally jumped off the 
floor and into my lap when it appeared. And she was not standing,
it was from a full cross legged sitting position!
So to carry on the Usher tradition of scaring the pants off our kids,
my husband agreed to let Taylor watch it after the holidays.
As soon as I picked her up yesterday she reminded me
it was after the holidays.

They enjoyed popcorn and movie,
there was some screaming - not Pops,  it was Taylor's screams.
I; however, had my fill of Salem's Lot and retired to the girl cave 
for a little sewing.  

I'm still working on the Wickedly Red quilt.
I found a pretty red for the border, actually I would have loved
this for the backing but didn't have enough.  I do still have
enough for a pillow or other project.

It's a 12 fat quarter pattern that ends up being scrappy.
I attached the borders and found some nice red with 
white polka dot fabric for the backing.

I have the batting so now all I need to do is re-piece the backing
to fit and tape it down to the floor while I roll out the batting.
I'll iron the top and spray base everything, plus put some pins
here and there for an extra precaution.  

I am not certain how I want to quilt it but being that it is 
so scrappy I may try the free motion again practicing various
designs. I guess I'll have plenty of time with the foot of snow that
is due here by Sunday night, accompanied by negative 30 degree wind chills!

If we're not plowing or shoveling 
off the deck, I can spend some quilt time.
I just hope the power stays on!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Highway Shut Down

After a long, semi-sleepless night,
after the stress and panic,
I ended up working from home on my first
day back from vacation!
This photo from KMOV news.

We had very little snow afterall; however,
it was slick and caused traffic problems all over.
We live in a subdivision made up of several wooded lots.
The road maintenance is up to us, four wheelers and tractors.
Our place is on the top of the ridge.

While there was only an inch or two of snow by us,
more depending on what area you were in, 
 it didn't stop until 6 AM so road crews in town 
were still working.  After giving it a lot of thought,
and knowing it was my first day back at work since Dec 19 ,
I made the decision to drive in, taking the Jeep instead 
of my car.  I went down our hill in 4-low, inching without
braking which seemed to take hours but more like five minutes.

The small county road we live off was nearly pristine.
The blanket of snow was interrupted by only one set of 
tire tracks and several areas of animal tracks.
I made it to the next county road which was in a similar condition.
By the time I reached the larger road I heard that the
highway had been shut down.  
I was still 20 miles from the highway and with these road conditions
I didn't have any alternatives, being our back roads are
hilly, curvy and mostly without shoulders should you start to slide.

As it turned out, a tractor trailer jackknifed and the highway 
was expected to be closed for a couple of hours still. 
This area is still 30 minutes or so away from my office
in good weather, much longer in bad.
The backup was five miles long!

I turned around and made my way back home, 
logged into work and sent e-mails saying I was working from home.
Thankfully, I changed departments and this is an option.
 Today there are concerns of refreezing but so far 
I have not heard of any problems reported on the news
so off I will go.  We're getting up to six inches again
Saturday night into Sunday.  We'll have Taylor with us
   and I'm sure she will want to sled. 

I'll start panicking again Sunday night.
I hate snow.
I hate driving in snow, especially an hour to work!
To all of you receiving even worse weather, be safe!
Keep blankets, extra clothing, something to eat and drink
in your car.  I also have a sleeping bag in the Jeep,
you never know how long you will be stuck.

Happy New Year.