Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Area Rugs

Though I am still in love with my gorgeous vinyl floor we had installed last July, I decided it needed some area rugs for warmth and keeping the pups from slipping and sliding all over. I probably mentioned this last month when I picked up that big rug laying in front of our recliners. Since I couldn't find any I liked locally or when I was downstate last month I looked online and found some nice ones at Overstock.com that happened to be on sale and shipping was free. I ordered them last Monday and though they were out for delivery by UPS last Friday but UPS took exception to the weather and didn't even leave them at the general store in town as they've done before. But they came yesterday, left at the store unbeknownst to me till I checked the tracking number that said "Delivered to woman customer".  Uh, yeah. I called the store and the girl who answered checked with someone in the back and yeah, 2 packages were there.

The 3rd rug, the smallest one, did not arrive and its tracking number seemed to be stuck in limbo, UPS claiming they had a shipping label and number but no item to ship. Making a long story short I contacted Overstock with their online chat help system and a nice person called Felix said he would look into it. A couple hours later I received an email stating things were fixed and I should get my rug Wednesday. Sure enough the tracking number began working and as of this afternoon it has made it to Maumee, Ohio.

In the meantime have a look at my new rugs.

This one is 5'3" in diameter and made from synthetic fibers. I can wash this one with my carpet cleaner when necessary. The color was exactly what I wanted and goes really well with my faded burgundy/green wing chairs. I put the ottoman to one side for a better photo.
My other rug is made of hand-tufted (they claim though for the low price I wouldn't be surprised if machines were really involved) wool and is 2'6" by 10' long and is in the bedroom hall. I was really pleased to be able to get runners longer than the 8' ones usually found in the stores. It was a little pricier because it is wool and will require professional cleaning when needed but hopefully being in the bedroom hall where it won't be walked on with boots or shoes it will stay relatively clean.
Her's a closeup view of the center or the runner. I really love the colors and it brightens up the hall nicely. It's the same pattern as the 3rd rug and I chose it for the other stuffed chair in the living room. When I get it I'll post another photo. I am very pleased.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pre-Spring Cleaning

Well, it's not looking like the temperatures are warming up any time soon, despite the fact the last few days have been warmer than the forecast, but 25 F is just not very warm! In spite of that, or perhaps because I'm getting so frustrated I finally tackled my usually clutter kitchen island and it is finally clutter free and the tiles are shiny! It made me so pleased with myself I suddenly decided I would scrub the bathroom sink and counter and the toilet. I almost feel as though I should clean something else, but I don't want to burn myself out. I think I'll just try to keep it the island clean through the process of making dinner when things usually start getting out of hand.

Now if I could only find a way to clean the clutter on the plywood counter to the right of the stove. Since I haven't found any tiles or other suitable thing to cover it with that section just collects "stuff". Perhaps I'll think of someway to clean it up later, for now it's time to ride my exercise bike.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beautiful Post-Storm Day

Generally after a snow storm the next couple of days are cloudy, cruddy and not photo worthy. But this storm that went through last night was already gone when I got out of bed this morning, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Plus the temperature was rising fairly rapidly and was already 24 degrees when I headed out with Luna and Ziggy for our morning walk. I took my trusty Panasonic ZS-15 which hadn't been used outside much this winter due to the bitter cold. Here are a few of my photos, with dogs, of course.

Heading up the driveway
On the swamp trail
Luna heading back down the driveway
Luna hunting for squirrels
Another driveway shot
Ziggy looking for the squirrel he chased up a tree
I would say the pups and I had a fun day. For some reason Ziggy decided he was going to run through as many snow drifts as he could. You never know where those squirrels are hiding, but even all that extra exercise didn't tire him out.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cabin Fever.... and Stew

I was feeling a little trapped today. Between the never ending cold temperatures, the mega quantities of snow that won't melt because of those temperatures, the extra inch or so we seem to get nearly every day, Yogi dying suddenly which was just plain wrong, having to think of yet another thing to cook for dinner and then actually cook it, walking the dogs 3-4 times because they don't seem to think once a day is enough, the chicken popping in their water dish every day (and because it's frozen to the ground I can't raise it up!) and the fact that I have too much crap/junk/old clothes/furniture in this house and I'm over weight.... well, I just wanted to chuck it all and sit down with a bottle of wine and drink the whole thing myself today.

I'd say I'm ready for spring.

The other day I found an old venison rump roast buried in the freezer. It was only a pound and more than a year old but it was sealed in one of those vacuum packs and looked and smelled fine. I was going to do my usual thing which is rub it in oil, toss some spices on it and roast it in the oven till just pink inside. Boring. I always do that. But what else do you do with a roast? I know there are all sorts of roast recipes but the whole idea of yet another roast with whatever seasonings just annoyed me today. It would annoy me tomorrow. It annoyed me yesterday which is why I made scrambled eggs for supper.

Hal took pity on me and did a web search for new and interesting and EASY things for me to do with a rump roast. He does this occasionally, most recently finding a hassenpfeffer recipe for one of the rabbits he's acquired this winter. It turned out to be excellent. I'll have to write about it soon, after all it was so good I took a photo. But today he told me how much he liked stews. Hunter's stews to be precise. I grew up with one stew. The standard beef, potato and carrots. I hate carrots. I hated a lot of vegetables as a kid though I grew to love many since then. But I still hate carrots. 

Hal doesn't care for them much either, at least not cooked. I don't like them no matter what is done to them. My paternal grandfather liked to tell me they tasted just like candy. As a kid I thought he was nuts. Heck, I even tried baking them in butter and tons of brown sugar. They still tasted like carrots. Just really, really sugary. So I don't make stews because if you don't put in carrots, what do you put in... green beans? That's weird. Okra...? Then I might as well make gumbo. Too complicated. Peas? Well, I've actually used peas in some stew-like dishes but I don't like them either. I do it for Hal. He thinks they're great.

But back to the stews. He said to think of it more like a casserole. I like casseroles. I have 3 slow cookers and really need to use them more. He started reading different recipes to me and while they did sound interesting, the thing is, I would have to cut up the rump roast into pieces.

My 5, 7 and 3 quart Slow Cookers
Sacrilege! One simply doesn't cut a roast into chunks! That's what stew meat is for. That's why when we cut up a deer we make separate piles of meat to package and freeze in 2 person size packages; a pile for burger, a pile for stew meat and a pile for roasts. (Very few if any steaks, I'm not very good at cooking steaks, I'm a roast person after all.) But the more I thought about it, as Hal continued talking about this recipe and that, what is the point of cooking the roast as a roast if it's just going to make me unhappy, annoyed and toying with the idea of large quantities of alcohol?

So I cut up the roast. It was easy, it was quick and it browned up nicely in the olive oil with the onions and garlic. Then it all got tossed into my smallest slow cooker with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and some spices that are supposed to turn this into a Greek stew, called stifado. I'd never heard of it before, but it sounded tasty, and there are no carrots or peas anywhere to be seen. No potatoes either, though I suppose I could make some as an accompaniment, or rice, I love rice. And green beans on the side. I love those too (hated them as a kid, but they were always out of a can, can you blame me?) 

It's all happily in my pot doing it's melding of flavors thing and as the author of the recipe and experience has suggested to me, it will taste better tomorrow. That's what is so brilliant about slow cookers. It can cook slowly and be even better tomorrow.

So tonight we're having pizza, homemade, so I need to get out my bread machine and get to it.

And I feel much better now. As soon as the bread machine is doing its thing, I'll take the dogs for another walk. Number 3 for the day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Hal refers to V Day as a "Hallmark Holiday", the card company that wants you to buy cards and make them money. I googled it and while yes, it took off in the 1800's with the ability to mass manufacture special greeting cards, there was no mention of Hallmark. I guess Hal would say that they may not have invented it, but perfected it. Suffice to say it's not a big day with us although he did choose this day many years ago to propose marriage to me.

We are not going out tonight. Instead I am making his favorite dinner, roast chicken with bread and giblet stuffing. There won't be any potatoes, but there will be gravy for the stuffing. Green beans will accompany it, there will be a Sauvignon Blanc from California and dessert is a cherry "poke cake". That is nothing more than a baked sheet (household size, ie, 13" x9")  cake, in this case white with holes poked in it and then liquid gelatin made with half the usual water poured over the top, then frosted. Fast, easy and tasty.

I've got the giblets cooking on the stove now, been almost 3 hours, the gizzards are not softening, I'll just have to dice them small. I would like to get the bird (one of ours) in the oven by 3 pm which is in less than an hour. I suppose I'd better get up and get to it, bird isn't going to stuff itself.

Incidentally, I did give Hal a card this morning.

It wasn't from Hallmark.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Yogi was Rocket's Best Buddy

And he is gone.
January 2004, At his House
My neighbor and friend called at 8 am this morning to tell me he had a heart attack early this morning. I hadn't been over there yesterday so I didn't get to see him. He looked and acted fine the day before though he mainly lay in front of the wood stove. He did greet me and my pups when we walked in the door, always needing to see who was coming for a visit. He was 13, same age as Rocket but in much better shape than Rocket was at the end, just a little lame, a little slower. The 3 of us went over as soon as we could so Luna and Ziggy could sniff him and understand (I hope) why Yogi won't be there any more. He was a good old boy, a typical Labrador, loved to eat, drooled like a champion, and wanted lots of attention. He loved a good ear rub and having his back scratched just above his tail.

Here are a few photos.

I think this one is from 2007 at our favorite out of the way beach that everyone brings their dogs to.
2007 Negwegon, Rocket, Yogi and Tank
 Begging for food, as usual.
Hoping for a goody, April 2003
 Wrestling, a favorite past time, at Yogi's house.
Wrestling at Yogi's House April 2003
Begging for a goody on another day.
January 7, 2003 at my Front Door
And one of my favorite pictures, Rocket and Yogi playing tug of war.
 Goodbye Yogi, you will be missed.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Recycling Day

Every second Saturday of the month (except August because of the county fair) the county has a drop-off for recyclables at the county fair grounds. I've been wanting to go for months but I've either forgotten, had company, there's been bad weather, etc. The cans and plastic and bottles have been stacking up in the basement to the point of over flowing. But finally today, I was able to take my car to the fair grounds filled with crushed aluminum cans, plastics # 1 and 2, and numerous glass bottles. I paid my $5 and the volunteers emptied my car out in less than 5 minutes. It felt good to have it all gone. I also learned that they now also accept plastics 3-7. I wish I'd known that before I pulled out all the 5's but that's okay, next time. I also don't have to keep everything separated. YAY!

After I got home I took Mrs J to Alpena for a small shopping trip, we had lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. It was a lovely sunny day, bright blue skies and better yet, it unexpectedly hit 24 degrees, Fahrenheit! With there being almost no wind it actually felt warm! After eating, I picked up some take out for Hal and we headed home. Got home while it was still daylight and was able to take the pups for a nice walk twice around the swamp trails. A pretty good day all in all.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Finally Started Hooking Again

And by hooking I mean crocheting. I haven't worked on any of my projects since late November. There was just too much going on over the holidays and I didn't want to risk mistakes from being distracted. Probably a good thing because I did find an error in the instructions of the sweater I am testing for a designer. Even though I already finished that row and a couple after it, I won't be ripping it back and doing it over, I don't think a few extra chain stitches will be that noticeable, fortunately. It felt good to finally be back at it. Maybe keeping busy hooking will help me eat less at night. Not that it helped much tonight, but you never know.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Well That Was Easy

Nine months ago when I tried to add 1500 minutes to my NET10 phone online I fought with their website for days because it would not let me actually skip an additional $10 charge for global minutes which I couldn't really use. After emails, discussions in their forum, etc I eventually had to use my phone to add 3 months of minutes totaling $30 for 300 minutes, the original 10 cents per minute the service is named after. I like the online 1500 minute plan because it only costs $100, a definite savings over using the phone to buy minutes. When those 3 months were over I tried again and was actually able to get the 1500 but it did take about 3 days of trying before it worked.

A few minutes ago I went to the website, logged in chose the 1500 minutes, skipped the global card (it worked!) selected my 1500 minutes, paid and wham, barely 30 seconds had passed when my phone beeped and there they were. Easy peasy! I love it when technology works right the first time!

Can't Find a Leak in "Rory Equinox"

Yesterday Hal put a couple of jack stands under my Equinox and looked all over for any sign of something leaking. I even got inside and pumped the brakes several times while he traced out the lines. Then he put on the new tire that he picked up at Ball Tire in Alpena after bringing the flat one in the day before. (They had to order this Cooper Touring tire, none were in stock.)

Today I started him up and backed Rory into some clean snow and let it idle for a good 15-20 minutes, then moved the car and did some brake testing. There were no signs of anything having leaked onto the snow, of any color. And the brakes felt great. I am going to assume then that one of my silly dogs decided to piddle where my car had been after I got home Wednesday just to make me worry. I also checked fluid levels before I garaged my car and everything seems fine. So in the end, this minor fiasco only cost us about $138.

Something else I noticed when I had gotten home that day that has nothing to do with my car was the freezer atop the refrigerator in the garage was not staying cold. When I opened the door to add some ice cream, large chunks of ice fell out (this is an old, manual defrost freezer) and I discovered all the meat half thawed and the package of shrimp very thawed. I transferred everything to a cooler and put it outside. As the outside temperature was about 17 degrees everything refroze quickly. I put a thermometer in the freezer and it registered about 34 degrees. The refrigerated items I transferred to the kitchen fridge which required taking the beer and soda out to fit it all in.

I've turned the control to the coldest setting and at one point the temp dipped down to 15 degrees. I threw a couple of bottles of ice water inside and a couple packages of meat and have been watching it closely the past 36 hours. Today it's hovering around 29, but that doesn't bode well for staying below freezing. Hal thinks the garage is simply too cold even though it's got hot water pipes from the wood stove running through it so the compressor isn't cycling on as often. I suppose that is a possibility but as the outside temperatures just don't want to cooperate by rising (it is the dead of winter, as they say, and last night's low was -0.6) I don't see anything changing for the better. About the only thing we can do is move it into the basement which is a pain because we have to find a place to put it and it isn't exactly easy to move, and hope that does the trick.

Otherwise, I get to buy a new refrigerator for the kitchen and move my current 18 cu ft Amana downstairs. I've been wanting a larger fridge for years (one of the reasons for changing the kitchen layout last February before we had the floor redone, was to make room for a bigger one) and this could be my opportunity. Guess it all depends on what Hal really wants to do. I know what I'd like to do.