Monday, March 30, 2009

Goodnight Sweethearts......

Last night I looked into our bedroom at Violet's doggie bed she has at the end of our bed and all I saw was her feet. She pins my side of the covers down in her bed, usually, but last night she was under the covers which cracked me up. So here's Violet yawning.
Her sister, Corrie, sleeps on a pillow in the den.
Scanning around the den you'll see Daisy in my chair. We tried putting books in the chair but she just jumps up and knocks them out so I decided it's not an important battle and I just drape a sheet over it at night so I won't have major dog hair to clean. She's the queen bee.
As you can tell we're still trying to keep the futon ready for company but Scrappy jumps up and gets behind the books (our current fencing technique - not really working) to sleep there until she gets cold or lonely and then she jumps in bed with us and hogs the covers.
Speedbump sleeps, as curled up as she can be, on my side of the bed. So when I get up I have to be really careful. I've just noticed a trend here. Violet pins down the bottom edge of my covers, Speedbump lays on my side, Scrappy takes my covers, Daisy is in my chair - what's the deal? It sounds like the story of the three bears only mama bears stuff is what's "just right."

Last is Charlie, he's the sleepy head of the bunch. He loves his kennel and around 8-8:30 he starts giving us the nudge which means "I'm ready for bed now." He feels so safe in there, I guess, because he is not happy until the door is closed. We've tried just letting him go in there to sleep because he's house trained but he wants the door closed. So whatever, right?

May you catch all the rabbits you chase in your dreams!
Where do your pets sleep? Have a great week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Little in common....

Scrappy and Speedbump have very little in common except their love for digging in the mud. Here you see them both after a round exploring and don't they look ashamed.
After her "half bath," Scrappy isn't speaking to me. She usually doesn't mind getting a bath but today I didn't use the blow dryer and give her the puffy Elvis collar look she likes so I guess that's why she's making me pay.
Speedbump is not ashamed until she gets inside and she's faking that only because she knows that I'm not letting her run and jump on the bed (regret vs. remorse.) She does jump in the tub (I'm grateful I don't have to force her big butt) and then gets rinsed off (I do love my little sprayer that's attached to the shower head) and out she goes. She doesn't hold a grudge like the little one.
Oh well, there's always the next time they get to go in about 30 minutes. Oh, rainy days are a vicious cycle of going out, getting wet and dirty, coming in getting dried off and spot cleaned best we can.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Grand!.....

Grand kids and daughter-in-love, Grand dogs, Grand weather, Grand food, Grand weekend! It's so great to be a grandparent, all the privileges of parenthood only the fun factor is amped up big time. Our weekend began with JP whipping up two batches of bagels (yep we're still on that kick) one regular and one sun dried tomato bagel. Soooooo delicious.
Then our daughter-in-love and our granddaughter came over for a weekend visit. We cooked some more, watched movies, the girls went shopping, and played outside. We bought a little Easter dress that's just darling and took our little sweetie pie to this field of daffodils and blue bells and took pictures. We did this once about 3 years ago and got some great pictures and this time was no different.
On Sunday a.m. JP and little sweetie made biscuits. She likes to help in the kitchen. Really, she likes to be into what ever we're doing. She always feeds the birds when she's here - that's been her job since we moved here so she takes that pretty seriously. She is also a flower picking machine - I gave her an old tea pitcher and she combed the yard on dandelion patrol.
Our grand dog, Kimber, was here and she and Charlie ran and ran.
She's a bloodhound/slobber machine.

We packed so much into this weekend that I can't believe it's already almost over. But we had so much fun.
To sum it up it was GRAND!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Socks and Egg rolls....

Did that title lure you in? Good! So, one a.m. this week JP's hurrying to get dressed for work and says "do I have any socks?" My first instinct is to pray, "Lord let me find clean socks!" Then I start seeking the answer to my prayer - clean socks, clean socks and Hallelujah there they are in the dryer. Whew!! My husband is so patient with me and that's one of the reasons I love him so. He knows I'd rather do anything outside than laundry, clean house, or cook. Don't misunderstand, we have clean clothes, a clean place to live (sometimes), and food.....but he knows me and is so great to help. My second instinct is to be a smart alec and say something smart like "yes you have socks didn't you wear socks yesterday and the day before that and the day before that?" But we won't go into that - sometimes it's just best to suppress the comedian in oneself (like early workday a.m.) :O)

I can do things domestic. Two days ago I made homemade eggrolls. It's so easy. Grate a small head of cabbage, a couple of carrots, some onion and mix it up.
Oh, you get to see my super cool new cow butter dish in the background.
Then I fry a pound of sausage and make sure it's crumbled up really good. While the pan is still warm I add my vegetable mixture and 2-3 Tbs. soy sauce. The veges will wilt a bit but that's good because then they roll much easier and not tear your wraps. All that's left is to wrap them in egg roll wrappers. I have a bowl of water handy to wet the sides and put a small handful of cabbage mixture in and roll it up like a burrito. Can you tell that in one picture I'm holding the camera and rolling the egg roll. See, that's why JP married me. Oh, back to the egg rolls - they freeze well and are so handy for snacks or as a side dish.

Viola,,,egg rolls!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blueberries, potatoes and bagels...

...but not all together.
I'm not sure how good that would be.

You see, yesterday while I was at work, Mrs. JP was out running errands. During those errands, she picked up four very nice blueberry bushes to add to our little fruit orchard. If it wasn't cold and steady raining here, we would be out there putting those new bushes in the ground. They all have buds and are ready to burst out with spring growth.

With the addition of these four, we will have a total of seven blueberry bushes in five different heat hardy varieties to give us good cross-pollination and larger fruit. We have two O'Neals, a Jubilee, an Ozarkblue, two Austins and a Tiffblue. Once these bushes are full grown, we should have plenty of blueberries for pies, jams, dehydrating, freezing and sharing with family and friends.

While she was out, she also got us five pounds of starter potatoes at the farmer's co-op. We are going to try out TennZen's suggestion of growing potatoes in old tires.

When I came home after work last night, we made today's breakfast. A couple of years ago, I realized one area of cuisine that I had never tried was bread making, so I proceeded to buy some good books on the subject and to develop the skills. One of the breads I attempted was bagels, but the recipe I used as a very simple one and the results were disappointing. Since then, I have been picking up a little more information about making bagels here and there, and as my craving for some good bagels increased recently, I decided to try again. I began Thursday evening by making a starter: I mixed ½ cup of high-gluten bread flour, ¼ cup of water and a pinch of instant yeast in a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and left it on a cool place on the counter to get all foamy and yeasty smelling. This starter adds flavor as the yeast feeds on the flour. Yesterday afternoon, I added the starter to my mixer bowl, then added the following dry ingredients: 4 cups of high-gluten bread flour (sifted), 1 ¾ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ cup of non-diastatic malt powder and 1 ½ tsp. instant yeast. I put the bowl onto my mixer and started it mixing with the dough hook attachment. I measured 1 ½ cups cool water and as the mixer turned, I drizzled the water in little by little until the dough formed. It took all but about two tablespoons of the water, but this will vary depending on conditions when you are making bread. You want a firm, sticky dough.

Then I let the mixer knead the dough for eight minutes, and placed the ball of dough in a lightly greased glass bowl, covered with a damp towel and set it in a warm spot to rise for an hour. After an hour, I punched it down, recovered with the towel and let it rise another 30 minutes. We placed some lightly greased parchment paper on a couple of baking trays, and as evenly as possible, divided the dough into twelve little balls and placed them on the parchment paper. We recovered them with damp towels and let them rest another 30 minutes. Then we used two fingers to pinch a hole in each one, rolled and stretched the hole to about two inches in diameter and set them back down on the parchment paper, recovered with the towels for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, we started preheating the oven to 425° F, put three inches of water in a pan, added a tablespoon of the non-diastatic malt powder to the water and brough it to a gentle boil.

We boiled four bagels at a time, 2 minutes on the first side, turned them and 1 minute on the second side, then removed back to the parchment paper.

Once they were all boiled, we put them in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. When they came out, they were lightly browned, and we placed them on a rack to cool.

How did they turn out? Bagel PERFECTION. They are sooooo yummy. They have the perfect chewy texture and taste just like authentic New York bagels. I had mine with cream cheese, some sliced olives and some capers, and a cup of Columbian coffee.

Mrs. JP had half of one of hers with cream cheese and mango preserves. She let me taste that one, and that is a great combo. The remaining bagels got sliced in half, put into a freezer bag and went into the freezer to be toasted later when we want another one. I am so thrilled that this went well. About three weeks ago, I finally mastered the ability to make good, made from scratch, moist southern biscuits. Now I can also make authentic bagels. The next step will be to learn to make flavored bagels, especially onion bagels and sun dried tomato bagels.

Meanwhile, it is still raining outside and the dogs are getting a little cabin fever. I suspect we will have some dogs walking on the treadmill soon. Mrs. JP is playing some very nice music on the piano, I love to listen to her play. It's a very nice, blessed Saturday morning in the holler. Scrappy is under the desk by my feet giving me her sad, how can you resist petting me look.

Y'all have a great weekend, and be sure to thank God this weekend...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tilling and Thai food...

After thinking about it, talking about it, buying and starting seeds, we finally broke ground on a garden spot on Saturday. This is our first vegetable garden, so we are trying to keep it simple for now. We are hoping to grow some corn, Roma tomatoes, Big Boy tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, basil, Thai basil, cilantro, oregano, jalapeños, habañeros and watermelons in the garden this year. So based on our estimations, we tilled up a square plot about twenty feet by twenty feet next to our young fruit orchard. We picked out as many grass clumps as we could, spread peat moss over the area and tilled it again. While we had the use of my brother-in-law's tiller, we went ahead and extended the blueberry bed to accommodate another three or four blueberry bushes in it.

Last year we planted three blueberry bushes and three semi-dwarf peach trees. It will probably be another year or two before we get any blueberries, but we are hoping to perhaps get a few peaches this year.

After all of this hard work, we whipped up a delicious dinner of Thai style curry chicken and angel hair pasta. It was generally based on a recipe for chiang mai curry noodles from quick and easy thai by Nancie McDermott.

First I started some water boiling in our large pasta pot. Then I added about 2 Tbs. olive oil to a hot wok, then I added four cloves worth of chopped garlic and two Tbs. of Thai red curry paste. I mashed the paste to mix it with the hot oil, then added the meat of two boneless chicken breasts, cut up into bite sized chunks. I browned the chicken for a few minutes, then I added 1¾ cups of chicken broth, one 13.5 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk, 1 tsp. curry powder, 1 tsp. turmeric, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt. I brought it all up to a boil, then lowered the heat to a simmer and simmered it for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I boiled a box of angel hair pasta. When the pasta was done, I drained it. I then turned the heat off on the wok with the curry mixture and added the fresh squeezed juice of two limes to it. We put some pasta in our bowls, ladeled some chicken and curry sauce over the pasta, then topped it all off with some fresh chopped shallots, green onions and cilantro. It turned out delicious.

Next time I make this dish, I will probably add the shallots to the wok when I'm browning the chicken and cook them, as the raw shallots combined with the raw green onion was a little too oniony (is that a word?) for us and will probably taste better cooked. I also think I will add chopped tomato and some raisins to the toppings, to add some coolness and sweetness.

After all of this, our backs and legs were sore, our bellies were full and we were ready for rest.

I hope you all had a blessed weekend and took time to join with your friends and family in praising God. He is indeed worthy of praise!

Blessings from the holler, y'all!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hi, my name is....

Mrs. JP and I'm an e-bayaholic! Okay, maybe it's not that bad but I bet JP thinks so. I got it in my mind that I NEEDED a butter dish. Really, we didn't have one - I broke our other one last year. But we have one now!! It's the cutest little butter dish you've ever seen.

Come on now, how could I resist that cute little cow laying in the purple flowers and I got such a good deal! I only paid $6.50 plus shipping. There's something about "winning" an item at auction (it's the "winning" word I think). I'm glad that we're not rich because I'd have all kinds of stuff I don't need - BUT I needed the butter dish. Oh, then there's that little Italian charm I got, but it's sooooo cute and I'm pretty sure I needed it too (insert whiny voice here). Really JP's a peach about it all and I think he likes the butter dish too.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pet Shopping Galore!!

A friend of mine gave me this magazine and in the back were all kinds of advertisements. Here are some of the more interesting sites. Wow, I guess I knew pet owners are a target market but I didn't know the extent. Let us know some of your favorite pet products and web sites.

separation anxiety pal

It's a nice idea but I can tell you our dogs would have that thing in pieces before we got home. Maybe it would work for some more mild mannered ones.

animal portraits on tile, note cards,,,etc.

This person is so talented. I think the note cards are nice.

every kind of pet wall art and sticker

Oh man,,,you got a wall? They have the stickers to decorate it. I think the puppy stickers would go good in my granddaughters room.

A handbag web site -'d that get in here? I love purses, that's a fact.

Oh my,,,this site is for the diva dog!

If your dog eats to fast here's the bowl you need. I love the dogamonials. But you know they're really saying give me back my regular bowl - I gotta chow down!

pet fountain drinking solutions

OK,,,this is pretty neat. I like the 360° waterbowl - everybody drinks at once!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Second colors of... winter?

Last night around midnight we were wakened by the sound of frozen rain pelting our windows. This morning we awoke to a wintry wonderland. Everything was bright white and covered in snow. Most of the dogs really enjoyed the snow, except for Daisy. She didn't mind it, but she wasn't as excited about it as everyone else. Scrappy, Speedbump and Charlie were especially fired up by the snow. They ran and ran and ran some more, crouching low in the snow to stalk and pounce on each other. They seemed to have great fun with it. We got some very nice photos of the day. Church services were cancelled so that nobody would feel obligated to get on the slick roads and maybe have an accident, so I got a little extra time this morning to read my Bible, have some sausage balls and several cups of hot Columbian coffee. Of course the Sunday afternoon nap is almost mandatory at our house, so after all of the excitement, we all settled in for a short nap. Well, most of us took a short nap. Me personally, I racked out for almost four hours...yawn!

The snow began to melt a bit during the afternoon, but it's below freezing tonight, so things should be slick for the morning commute. No NASCAR type moves during the commute out of me tomorrow, I'd better get up and leave early so that I can take my time.

I hope y'all had a blessed weekend! God sure is kind and good to us!